Monday, 17 November 2014

More Happy Health Writer musings

Read more musings from the Happy Health Writer on my other blog at

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Good egg!

“Botox in a bottle”, “stem cells in a capsule”, “happy tablets”… when health supplements make these kind of claims my first thoughts are usually, “yeah, yeah, yeah” and “blah, blah, blah”… As a health writer, I’ve heard it all before. And usually this latest miracle product that we should ALL be taking is quickly forgotten and replaced by something else. I’m thinking of blue-green algae (surely the reason we’re supposed to keep our dogs out of the lakes in Richmond Park?!) and - what-was-it-called? – a product derived from rotting fruit. Long forgotten, these supplements did not make it into the world’s medicine cabinets and we seem to be managing perfectly well without them.
So when a friend started talking about yet another new product earlier this year, I thought, “yes… and…?” And when it turned out it was not only dodgy sounding (derived from a 9-day fertilized egg) but also sold via network marketing, memories came flooding back of said blue-green algae - promoted to me in the 80s by people who also told me they were signing up for their bodies to be frozen when they died with the expectation that they’d be brought back to life within a few decades (OMG, who would WANT their ancient decrepit body to be brought back to life in a world that had long moved on without them?!)
But I politely took the information on Laminine, this 9-day chick fetus product, and immediately forgot all about it. Until, some months later, a friend who’d also heard about it at the same time, decided to trial it.
My friend has Parkinson’s disease and has so far resisted taking any medicine for it. Instead, she has been going down a natural route, seeking out supplements to help her – albeit at a huge price. Her health store bill topped £1000 a month this time last year – but she felt she was halting the progress of her disease, even though she still had tremors when she was excited or stressed. Two things she was unable to address, however, were the constant pains all over her body, and the gnawing lethargy that prevented her going out in the evenings and put her in bed early every night.
Within weeks of starting on Laminine her pains were gone and she had more energy too. As a bonus, her dandruff had also disappeared – and her health store bills had shrunk.
After a while she wondered if she was just imagining it, and maybe another amino acid supplement (for that is what Laminine is, essentially) would work just as well. Two weeks after swapping the Laminine for a supposedly high quality and similar looking product (but not one derived from a nine day chick fetus, because Laminine is the only supplement in the world that comes from this source) she was in pain again – and sleeping badly. Two days after swapping back to the Laminine, her pain had gone again; she was sleeping like a baby, and her energy was back in the ascendant.
Interesting, I thought. But I still don’t like the idea of networking. I don’t get it and feel suspicious of the fact that the product is not marketed in shops.
And yet I was intrigued. I started looking for other case studies. There are plenty on the internet – but one woman I spoke to had a particularly interesting story to tell. She’d had a knee operation that had gone wrong, leaving her unable to straighten her leg, and only able to walk with crutches and in pain. She ached so much that she needed prescription strength painkillers, and couldn’t sleep without them. Six months after starting on Laminine, she was off all her pain meds, able to walk without crutches (except uphill when she needs one stick) – AND – her spectacles prescription had improved from 3.25 to 2.25 in her right eye. Her left eye, in which she has been completely blind since birth, was now suddenly able to see the top line of the optician’s chart – not the best sight, but an improvement on what she’d had for the past 52 years.
Still sceptical about the method by which Laminine is marketed, I agreed to meet one of the sellers - Camilla.  She told me her story. She was not an unwell woman but wanted to take the product if she was going to sell it. It arrived through the post at a time when she was seriously stressed, her scalp was itching, she wasn’t sleeping, and her periods were haywire – the doctor having told her that, at 42, she was already perimenopausal.  She claims she immediately lost ½ a stone, because she stopped craving sugar; her periods got back to normal; the itching and stress went; and she had more energy than she’d known in years.
Camilla is a business woman and was looking for a new networking opportunity, after having had huge success with Aloe Vera which she’d brought into the UK 20 years before. She’d done her research – had the company investigated – and was convinced it was worth promoting. A few months later, she travelled to Kenya to stay with a friend. While the friend immediately remarked how well Camilla looked, Camilla could only say how absolutely dreadful her friend appeared. She had terrible arthritis and had to grip one leg with her hands just to climb the stairs. No surprises - having seen Camilla's glow, she signed up for the product and is now running for buses, and making money selling the supplements to the many people who've been bowled over by the change in her... 
I have run the products’ details past nutritional therapists with mixed responses. It is new – only being officially launched in the UK this winter – so not many people know of it.
One of my contacts is keen to try it on her fibromyalgia patients, because of its track record with treating pain.
It is also said to help with blood pressure, reduce signs of ageing, aid brain function, increase libido, burn fat and curb appetite, increase muscle strength and muscle recovery, reduce stress and elevate serotonin levels. Hence its claim to be “stem cells in a capsule”, “botox in a bottle”, and indeed a “happy tablet”.
I’m keen to hear from anyone who can confirm or dispute these claims. Do get in touch…  

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Would I like to take a statin? No thank you

I recently had a routine heart health screening – the kind you get when you’re of a certain age – which concluded that I have a 13% risk of a heart attack in the next 10 years. (Or, the way I view risk, an 87% chance of NOT having a heart attack in the next 10 years). ‘There’s nothing you can do about your family history or age, both of which influence this result,’ my GP explained. ‘So it’s just a matter of eating healthily and taking enough exercise’ (which I like to think I’m already doing). The further good news was that, with my risk, the GP would not yet need to treat me with drugs.
But then, just days later, came the news that NICE now plans to suggest everyone with a 10% risk should be offered a statin…! So that would include me.
What would I do if I was offered one? Well 1) I'd hope my GP would be shaking his head and pulling a “say no” kind of face while offering the drug. And 2) I’d point out that actually I do not have high cholesterol so – whatever my overall heart disease risk - what would be the point of taking a drug to lower the already healthy level of fat in my blood? Far better to lower my overall risk by taking a blood pressure drug if I have hypertension.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the Australian cardiologist Dr Ross Walker who pointed out that you have to treat 60 people for five years to prevent one non fatal heart attack, or 260 people for 5 years to prevent one stroke – and there is no difference in mortality figures in people in either group, whether they do or don’t take statins.

Monday, 28 July 2014

A stone is a lot of weight to lose…

We’re supposed not to gain more than a stone over our first adult weight… So, at two stone higher than the weight I was up to the age of 35, I now have a stone to lose…
Having gained two stone in the last talkamongstyourselves years is not that surprising when you look at what Dr Jane Johnston has to say on the subject. On Menopause Matters, she points out that past the age of 40 we typically gain a pound a year if we don’t change our current eating and exercise pattern. Then, once we hit menopause, things get even more depressing – with the body trying to store fat the way it stored puppy fat at puberty.
She gives the very demoralising example that, should we eat 1000 calories prior to menopause, we will burn 700 of them and store 300… But past menopause the process reverses, and we store 700 and burn only 300!
I’m hoping this is just an example and that we are not expected to gain weight on a 1000 calories a day regime, or we’re all b***ered. The question is – how do we lose it?
I am persevering with the 2-Day Diet – but have to confess to already overdoing the cheese, forgetting to trim fat off meat, and failing to weigh anything except myself.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Why am I my own worst diet saboteur?

‘Watch out for sabotaging behaviour’, warn the authors of The 2 Day Diet. 'Loved ones may try to tempt you with forbidden foods…' Yes, Siree! Last night, after a lovely walk in the park, my husband says: ‘I think I’ll buy some wine. Do you want some wine?’
‘No, I don’t!!’ I had so far managed no carbs all day and there were none on the menu for supper, either. This was looking like a no carb day.
So my husband decides he’ll buy beer instead – no temptation to me as I can’t stand it.
But dinner is running late, and, as we potter about the kitchen and he pours his first drink, I am the one to sabotage my own diet.
‘As I’m not drinking tonight, I think I’ll finish off that champagne in the fridge,’ I say.
Yes, at the risk of sounding opulent, there was leftover champagne in our fridge – opened two days earlier to celebrate our youngest daughter’s 18th birthday, but it made her wince and there was a whole glass left. Actually a very large whole glass (still in the bottle, and still fizzy – what are the odds?)…  So I had that, called it a carb, and told myself it was now a carb day – and then, after dinner, watching Breaking Bad, I ate two of Steve’s home-made chocolates leftover from a function he catered last weekend. ‘Only two more carbs’…
Why do we do it? Why do we dieters cheat on ourselves but pretend we’re cheating on the diet and that the diet won’t know about those forbidden treats we sneak passed our lips?
The diet book doesn’t care. The authors don’t care! The only person who’s affected by my decision to drink a glass of wine and eat a couple of chocolates is me…

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The 2-Day Diet

Say what you like about diets – but ultimately they’re the only way to lose weight. Even when someone says they’re just cutting down their portion sizes and eating only healthy foods – that is a diet!
Last year I tried the 5.2 diet, consuming just 500 calories a day on two non-consecutive days, and eating normally the rest of the week. Now – moment of truth – I didn’t actually read the book behind this diet, so when I ate normally, I ate normally for me… No doubt the book would have told me to eat abnormally for me on the non diet days.
I’m pretty sure of this now as I’ve just bought another 5-2 style diet book – this one is The 2 Day Diet, by Dr Michelle Harvie and Prof Tony Howell. The claim on the cover is: ‘Diet two days a week. Eat normally for five.’ But, start reading, and it’s soon apparent you will be committing yourself to yet another 7-day diet – it’s just that 2 of those days are a little bit harder than the rest.
Here’s what you have to do:
On 2 consecutive days (can be non-consecutive if you prefer but the authors think consecutive works best) eat only 1000 calories comprising 0 carbs, 4-12 portions of protein (one portion is 30g of meat, poultry or oily fish OR 45g seafood OR 60g fresh or smoked white fish OR 1 egg OR 1 rasher of bacon or thin slice of ham), 5 portions of veg (there are however restrictions on these – your best bet is leaves: a cereal bowl full of lettuce or watercress counts as one portion), 1 portion of fruit (again there are restrictions – no bananas for example), 5 servings of fat (eg 1 serving is 1tsp mayo or veg spread but the word butter doesn’t seem to feature anywhere in this book).  There are a few other details but that’s about it in a nutshell.
The protein should keep you full and the theory is that we go on feeling hungry until we’ve consumed the amount of protein that we need.
On the 5 ‘eat normally’ days in fact you still only eat 1400 calories, comprising 3-8 portions of protein, and a maximum of 6-9 portions of carbs (the amount you can have depends on your weight and age, and there’s a handy ready reckoner to help you but as an example 1 medium slice of wholemeal bread would count as a portion), 2 portions of fruit, 5 vegetables, and 3-5 portions of fat (again your weight and height determine how much you can eat, and this is also in the ready reckoner).
Oh and I forgot to say that on both restricted and unrestricted days you should have 3 servings of dairy (1 serving = 1 pot low fat yogurt for example) – but no more than 4oz (120g) cheese each week.
 Despite all the counting and weighing – not to mention the various restrictions – it seems to be quite a do-able diet – so I am going to give it a whirl. I am right at the top of my healthy BMI, and as some experts say we should never let ourselves get more than a stone heavier than our lowest adult weight (eg what you weighed at 18) I need to lose a stone…
I quite like the idea that on a restricted day I can in theory have bacon, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms for breakfast; prawn salad for lunch; and chicken salad for dinner. And that, on my non-restricted days I can have yogurt and berries for breakfast, tuna sandwich for lunch, and chicken and rice for dinner.
Eating just 120g cheese a week will be a challenge, and going butter-free could be impossible…
Let’s see what happens!

Friday, 16 May 2014

(Still) desperately seeking small shoes…

A month ago I wrote about my efforts to find a pair of pretty shoes. All I want is a classic kitten heeled, pointy-toed pump. But most shoe shops only stock shoes from size 36 up, and I am a 35. At least, I thought I was a 35… I have 35s that fit me, and I even have 36s that fit me – but my 35s are Fit-Flops and Birkenstocks, and my 36s are all boots.
I was very excited about visiting Pretty Small Shoes, in Bloomsbury, which sells shoes in all sorts of small sizes and a wide variety of styles, mostly at £130.00. But – sorry, lovely girls who work in the store – the shoes are so cheap looking and so unbearably uncomfortable that I was hugely relieved to find that none of the 35s fitted me (they were TOO BIG!) – and doubly hugely relieved to discover that the styles that I had pretended to like were not available in a 34 or 34.5. Phew! After politely trying them all on, I would have had to tell the girls that the shoes were actually so tacky that I couldn’t be seen in them, and would rather live on in my Birkies and Fit-Flops, never to be seen in an elegant kitten-heeled, pointy-toed pump.
But failure always makes me more determined to find what I’m looking for, and, after a bit of online research I discovered that  Harrods stocks plenty of size 35s in ranges from Stuart Weitzmann, Miu Miu and the like…
So last Sunday Steve patiently accompanied me on a trip to Harrods’ shoe department.
As someone who normally picks up shoes in little boutiques or natural shoe store type shops, I had forgotten how arduous shoe shopping can be. You can’t just “pop in” for a pair of shoes. These days shoe shop assistants do not just disappear to the back of the store to rummage among the boxes; they have to search on the computer for stock, then, apparently, go out the back door and walk round the block a few times while you sit twiddling your thumbs with one shoe off…
And, in Harrods, this process had to be repeated in each separate concession.
We tried Stuart Weitzmann, Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo, and Louis Vuitton – all highly expensive, but, by now, remember, we’re realising that finding a pair of shoes to fit me will be a once in a lifetime event.
The conclusion was that I am not a 35 – not in pointy toed pumps, anyway. 
One helpful Harrods' shoe man said I could have shoes specially made in a size 34 or 34.5 by Stuart Weitzmann - they could arrange this, and the price would be the same as the on the shelf price of a 35... but I would have to pay upfront (£330), and, if the shoes didn't fit me, or hurt, there would be no refund. I had also missed the boat for their latest order for small shoes and would have to wait until the Autumn to go on the list, and another 12 weeks for the shoes to arrive. "Does Madam have an event in mind for which she needs the shoes?" 
In Harvey Nichols, where we repeated the torturous experience, we learned that there is in fact no such thing as a 35… “Our shoes tend to get bigger the lower they go,” the Jimmy Choo assistant explained. The smaller your feet, the higher the heels need to be if a shoe is to fit you, it seems. I tried on a very pretty size 34 in a flat shoe – just to see if it would fit – and I could get my thumb in the back! "If it had a higher heel it would be smaller" the assistant explained.
Now looking for a 34 - we thought 35 was hard enough to find - by the end of our trip, we had established that Jimmy Choo and Miu Miu do make 34s… even if their shops rarely stock them.
Salvatore Ferragamo’s shoes start at a 34.5, and St Laurent’s start at 35.
Net-a-Porter stocks some 34s, and even has a few pairs from Jimmy Choo and Miu Miu in just the style I’m looking for… Will they fit? We’ve decided to order some in to find out… And, if they do??? Well, I have saved £1000s on not buying pretty shoes for all the decades that I’ve been an adult –so if I find a pair that fits and feels comfortable (that is essential) I think I deserve a treat…

UPDATE: Neither Jimmy Choo's nor Miu Miu's 34 fitted me. They were TOO SMALL!! This when I am "normally" a size 35 in other brands and styles. I have since found two pairs of slingbacks in 35s, both of which fit thanks of course to the adjustable strap... And now a friend has introduced me to Shoes Of Prey - who will make shoes to order, in sizes down to 31. They have just the kind of court I am looking for - and have agreed to let me send a measurement of my foot to make sure they give me the right size. They're in Australia so it will take some time to sort this order out - but I hope to have a pair in time for Christmas!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

We’re going on a shoe hunt. We’re going to find a small pair…

So there’s Kylie Minogue – not much taller than me – draped over Graham Norton’s sofa with her red shoes dangling, and I’m thinking: “where does she buy shoes like that - which fit?” They are not the birkies, lace ups and fit-flops I depend on. No – Kylie is wearing a beautiful stiletto heeled court. And she looks comfortable in it.
I am on a crusade to find pretty shoes that fit me. But with size 35 feet (a UK two according to some brands or a three according to others – though I’ve always called it a two-and-a-half), it is a major challenge. I am no fun for the sales assistants in even high end boutiques like Emma Hope and Joseph (I know, I tried every style they stocked last weekend) – who know it’s not even worth trying to persuade me to buy a shoe that flops loosely off my foot. Though yesterday in Paul Smith, a particularly desperate sales girl tried to sell me the idea of going to the shoemaker across the road for something tailored to make my tiny feet fit into any pretty style I fancied…
Back home I have resorted to hunting online. And – who knew? – I could get a pair of Christian Louboutins, or Jimmy Choos from Net A Porter, which stocks 35s as well as some 34s… My daughters, also blessed with petite feet, have always – I tell people – stuffed tissue into their toes to make their shoes fit. But it turns out that Bella finds size threes that fit from Zara, while Coco buys all her shoes in a two from Asos. Further research has yielded the online store Pretty Small Shoes, selling – well the clue’s in the name – in all sorts of sizes, and mostly around £130.00 (well it’s a lot cheaper than a pretty small Choo).
Kurt Geiger, Bella tells me, also has a bunch of small sizes – and she seems to be right…
Someone needs to tell the lovely Japanese assistant in Agnes B who says she has to shop for shoes on visits to Tokyo. I noticed she was wearing a pair of child like lace ups – and her suggestion that I looked at “junior’ ranges wasn’t very encouraging when I was thinking of a nice pointy pump with a tiny kitten heel…
Don’t tell anyone but I do have some pretty shoes (when you have small feet you tend to buy anything that fits because it’s such a rarity) – and the problem has always been that they may look lovely but they don’t often feel it. I don’t want to wear something that makes me hobble or wobble. But that may have nothing to do with finding the right size.

Lent – I relent… (with consequences)

As I do not have a religious bone in my body, my Lent abstinence was destined to fail. I’d embarked on it with the promise that I would make an exception for my trip to Rome (just a few days into the 40-day booze fast), and possibly also a press trip to muslim Dubai, where I correctly guessed that the parallel world of corporate entertaining would make it impossible – nay rude – to decline the flow of wine; albeit I’m still looking for an excuse for the glass of wine on the flight out and – er – the whiskey from my friend’s mini-bar.
Apart from those detours, not a drop passed my lips – until yesterday, when Steve and I ate lunch at Little Social in Pollen Street where I washed down a langoustine, stone bass, and chocolate moelleux with the house white….
Twenty minutes later, turning into South Molton Street, we were nabbed by a very charming young man who instantly detected my nails aux naturels… And the whiff of alcohol on our breath. He was the young manager of the Sakare skin care shop – and, though I am normally a dab hand at brushing off anyone begging me to “step this way for just a minute”, seconds later we were watching him buff my finger nails to an oily shine with the amazement of a Derren Brown audience.
You may find this genuinely hard to believe – but I had never come across one of these nail buffer blocks that my youngest daughter says are routinely given away free with magazines, the source of the one she has owned for the past four years… I’m sure the salesman found it hard to believe too… My hands were literally putty in his as he showed me how his magic block could restore my nails to full shiny health. And then, the kill: No, they don’t sell these alone – only with our hand and nail kit of cuticle oil, hand cream and let’s not forget the nail file… I have bought nail oils before, which languish unused in my bedside drawer, also home to many jars, tubes and bottles of hand cream. But, as the only people in London (“Londoners really? Born and bred? Honestly? What a change to meet someone who is not a tourist!”) not to have seen a nail buffer on sale for pence in our local Boots, or free on a magazine cover, we parted with £35 – my husband having bargained the salesman down from £40. Back home, despite Bella’s “Oh no, how much did you pay for that?” we have had fun buffing nails and squirting on oil and hand cream. 
The salesman nearly stung us for some Dead Sea salts and cleanser too – very good quality they looked – but Dead Sea salts are Dead Sea salts and, despite the lingering tingle of that lovely Loire wine, I remembered that I have plenty of those already…

Thursday, 13 March 2014

When hunger strikes

A few years ago I watched the documentary Black Gold and went off Starbucks big time. The film tells the story of coffee production – and many of Starbucks’ coffee growers were receiving such small sums for their produce that they had to queue up at food camps because they couldn’t afford to feed themselves on their meagre earnings.
Now food banks are rife across Britain – something I couldn’t have envisaged a few years ago, albeit they may have existed on a smaller scale.
Our government is proud of its efforts to dig the country out of its economic slump – but at what price?
Read the Hunger Hurts blog that went viral for Jack Monroe who now writes about cheap ways to eat well, and sign her petition for an End UK Hunger budget this year and every year. 

Monday, 3 March 2014

What are you doing for Lent?

It’s been a stodgy winter. I’ve fallen right off the 5:2 wagon, and our food cupboard is littered with unused sachets of Miso – a staple of our fast day. So, even though I’m not religious, I'm planning to make a couple of changes for Lent.
The first will be giving up alcohol (although I may write in an exception for the weekend I will be in Rome with my mother-in-law). My mother, who is very religious, always finds giving up her sherry and wine for Lent a great way to lose a few winter pounds.
The second plan is to take our dog for an extra walk each day. Through winter, I’m ashamed to confess, he’s had only one walk most days. This is the early morning one that boosts my energy for the day and gives Joe an excuse to lie on the sofa with his legs in the air for hours on end. But around 4.0pm he generally comes to my desk, nudges me with his nose and jumps up and down barking and looking towards the front door. You can’t get much clearer than that – but, much as I love him, I have looked out at the generally foul weather, and said, “You must be joking!” He may be ready for a walk but I’m usually thinking about a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate.
He will love the extra walk, and I’m sure I’ll benefit from it too.
So, some time tonight or tomorrow, I will measure my waist, thighs and upper arms. I will NOT be stepping on the scales. I am going to focus on inches instead of pounds.
If – note if – I keep to my Lenten promises I will report back at Easter. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

January schmanuary…

January is, we’re told, the most depressing month of the year. People think it’s because it’s cold, dark and damp that we’re all so blue. And, of course, it doesn’t help that we’re all staring at huge debts and bellies after the Christmas splurge. But I think it’s got a lot more to do with the fact that we’re all trying to diet – and diets set us up to fail, and there’s nothing like failure to make us feel lousy.
I actually quite like January – it is the month of my birthday and my husband’s birthday, too. So there’s a lot of celebrating going on. I started a few days before mine, with lunch at Galvin at Windows (top floor of the London Hilton) with one of my best friends who also has a January birthday.
On the birthday itself Steve and I ate out at Gymkhana. Amazing! Go there - and eat the rose scented knicker bocker glory! I did. And then, a few days later, I ate the lion’s share of Indian sweets at another celebratory dinner with family.
After that, I decided drastic measures were needed. I’d missed a day of the 5:2 – a friend had come round with a bottle of Chablis and a box of chocolates and Steve had produced halibut with roasted vegetables followed by a stinky cheese platter.
So, this weekend, I thought I’d go back to trying the Harcombe Diet – which promises exponential weight loss, while NOT counting calories.
The catch is that you cannot eat any processed food, any fruit, cheese, milk, or any carbs (except for 50g raw weight of brown rice daily) for the first five days. Sometimes three days will be enough to kick start the regime. This baptism of fire phase is supposed to root out and eliminate issues like candida that cause us to crave all the foods to which we are addicted and which make us overweight.
It is an interesting diet. I managed days 1 and 2 without straying from the rules beyond a few (forbidden) salted almonds each day.
I was pleased with myself. Zoe Harcombe, author of the diet, says: “your body will come up with all sorts of excuses why you need to eat certain things – you don’t!” I ignored all those cravings. But it was hard. Amazingly, when carbs are this limited, I find myself stomach churningly hungry even after a massive chicken and ham omelette, or a lamb and pea keema.
So it was that, today, I slipped – and started thinking about those chocolates that Mary brought me. “Just one little chocolate” my cravings told me. “Just one little chocolate”.
Instead I had two ultra thin rice cakes with butter – not on the “allowed” list but not sugar either.
Then I had another one.
Then I ate the last two chocolate mint crisps from Christmas. And quickly shovelled one of Mary’s soft centres into my mouth for afters.
So – I have failed a diet that is extraordinarily hard not to fail.
And now I will feel like January is a depressing month. And I will have to do a 5:2 day or two so I can wear my favourite new clothes for our next blow out for Steve’s birthday next week…
Ho Hum...

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Peel the fear

In an excellent feature in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph – Short Cuts to Self Help – Victoria Lambert gave us a quick run through of the most enduring self help books on the market. I was pleased to see Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world was deemed the most helpful by psychologist Hilary Bruffell. I have been practising mindfulness meditation for a few weeks now and have mentioned on this blog before that meditation (albeit TM) is now recommended by the American Heart Association for bringing down blood pressure.
But also featured was Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway… which, as I tried to imagine applying this to one of my phobias - driving on the motorway - immediately had the effect of filling me with fear. Probably not a book I would want to read then.
But maybe we should all start by facing small fears first?
On Friday I picked up a wonderful looking recipe by Rachel Khoo for what she calls Crunchy Kale and Citrus Salad. What does this have to do with any of the above, you may well be wondering if indeed you are still reading. Well, quite a lot it turns out. Yes, it surprised me too. But, by yesterday evening, after I’d been thinking about Rachel’s recipe on and off for 24 hours, and had now read Victoria’s feature, I realised I was afraid of attempting it. The reason? She wants us to segment one grapefruit and one orange by cutting between the membranes. That shouldn’t be so hard. I know it’s the correct thing to do. But I have never attempted it. I have seen my husband do it – but have, I now realize, built up a fear of doing it myself. I am convinced I will end up with a bowl full of citrus pulp – and hands covered in squidge. So by last night I had decided the only way to make it without Steve’s help would be to invite a friend round to help me make the supper I was going to give her!
I have now found a way round this. I am going to buy some oranges and grapefruits and PRACTISE, blender at the ready in case they have to be turned into juice.
Long ago a friend said I should apply the same “start small” approach to motorway driving. Travel one junction, in the slow lane, for example. I still haven’t tried that.
This week I interviewed a life-long couch potato who took up running at the age of 40. She started with 30 seconds on, 30 seconds, off for just ten minutes. I could do that. And – if my 78 year old mother and disabled 70-something friend can fearlessly drive on the motorway – then surely I could do that too.
But I will start with the oranges and grapefruits.