Why BMI and Weight mean absolutely nothing

Need diet

The massive importance of BMI and Weight – one of the biggest myths of our time.

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, weight is a number on a scale which essentially tells you what your relationship with gravity is. It doesn’t tell you anything else; it doesn’t take into account other physical or personal qualities. I wanted to expand a little bit on this though because I get a lot of people talking to me about ‘weight loss’ and when I explain why I disagree with that so much I’m often met with a lot of confusion and questions!

I think the main reason for this confusion is the conditioning we have all been subject to over the last 30 plus years, which has seen the idea of ‘weight loss’ painted as a positive and ‘fat’ as a negative.

Of course in the 40’s, there was an influx of adverts promising ‘curviness’ for ‘skinny’ girls, who were ostracised just as bigger women are nowadays for their ‘undesirable’ size. Doesn’t that just go to show the power of the media, and the consequent effect it has on society? Someone, somewhere decides what is ‘normal’ or ‘good’ and we all follow blindly as we are told to do. At the moment, ‘skinny’ is in, and as a consequence we have all become obsessed with how much we weigh, with fat as a rule avoided like the plague.

BMI has long been painted by health professionals as an accurate and reliable gauge of a person’s health, based on the correlation between their height and weight. Contrary to this, many will now tell you that it in fact does the opposite and tells us very little about a person’s physical make up and overall health. Here’s an example: take a body builder who is very lean but has a heck of a lot of muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat, so they weigh quite a lot. They are however lacking in height – meaning their BMI indicates that they are clinically obese. Yet this person does not have a scrap of fat on them – so how can they possibly be obese?

This outdated system lumps people into categories of ‘healthy’, ‘unhealthy’ and ‘really unhealthy’ on opposite ends of the scale.  Another example is a naturally slim, tall person whose height and weight indicate that they are drastically underweight and dangerously so. Yet this is simply how they are made up naturally – it’s impossible for them to put on any weight.

What concerns me about this reliance on BMI is that many people are being told they are ‘clinically obese’ when that simply is not true. It focuses us even more keenly on a number on a scale, and not the health of our bodies as a whole. More recently, worrying stories of children and young adults being berated for the product of their BMI results have emerged in the press, which of course is unhelpful to say the least at such a formative stage both mentally and physically.

 

This brings me back to ‘weight’ as a whole. I admit I weigh myself once a week, same time, same day, so I absolutely cannot sit here and tell anybody not to weigh themselves at all, even though in all honesty that would be the ideal alternative. I know people who weigh themselves incessantly; sometimes twice in a day. When you have body dysmorphia or an eating disorder, gaining one pound can alter your whole perception of yourself and how you feel for the rest of that day. Clothes feel tighter, imaginary rolls of fat appear in the mirror. ‘Weight’ means nothing. The weight of our bodies depends on many different factors and varies from hour to hour, day to day, week to week. Women especially are subject to daily hormonal changes and don’t forget the contribution of our digestive systems to how much (or little) we weigh.

So what’s the alternative? Whilst I don’t suggest that this is widely used and suitable for everybody, I think it’s better to look to more accurate techniques such as fat calliper testing to get a clear indication of someone’s overall health. This coupled with other investigations can really give a true picture of how a person is made up, and where. If you are carrying excess fat, where it is on your body is important, as this often determines whether it poses a risk to your health and also the cause of its presence. Not everyone who carries excess fat eats cake for breakfast!

Next time you find yourself at the doctor’s and they insist on working out your BMI, please don’t lose heart if it isn’t favourable. It is a vague indication, if that, of your health and physical components. Not only that, there is more to you than a number on a scale. You are a wonderful person on the inside, and as long as you are also healthy, that is all that matters.

smallersignature

BMIANDWEIGHT

FacebookTwitterShare

Gluten-free – it’s not for everyone

wheat

I talk about fad diets on here and my hatred of anything that encourages you to cut anything out of your daily routine completely or starve yourself as I believe that these are harmful and unhealthy – I think that they normalise a difficult relationship with food.

You may have noticed from the blog that I don’t eat gluten. I don’t eat any foods with gluten in them because I have IBS as a result of my anxiety disorder, which means I struggle to digest food in general because of my constant state of anxiety, but especially ‘heavy’ foods like bread and pasta. It’s not simply an issue with gluten; I wouldn’t be able to eat any gluten free breads and I struggle with potato too. So essentially it’s not intolerance as such and more an inability to process heavy foods rather than an intolerance to gluten in an isolated way.

Some people have gluten intolerances or allergies (known as Coeliac disease), very much like lactose allergies and intolerance. These are serious medical conditions which cause people to become very poorly if they consume the foods in question – in the case of allergies, all precautions must be taken to ensure sufferers’ foods have not at all come into contact with any gluten. In the same way if I eat heavy foods I feel very poorly but Irritable Bowel Syndrome is still an illness with very little known about the causes, triggers and treatments and therefore it’s a grey area compared to the above.

Contrary to the seriousness which is widely associated with nut allergies, we’ve become very ignorant and dismissive about gluten allergies and intolerances and often group them as the same thing, or worse group them with those on fad diets who don’t have intolerance or allergies at all. Similarly, it’s more difficult to tell now whether somebody has a medical issue, or whether they’re just avoiding the food group altogether because they have read an article in a magazine and decided to go on a fad diet. Unfortunately, all those who are avoiding gluten for genuine reasons find themselves subject to disapproval and a fair amount of eye-rolling, tutting, ridicule and sometimes anger (yes anger – it’s happened!)

Gluten-free has become the latest fad diet on the market. Celebrities have taken it up in force and magazines rave about the benefits including a ‘flat stomach’ and the fact that gluten causes undesirable effects in even the most robust digestive system. This often means that when I turn down a sandwich or tell somebody I’m not able to eat that cake or biscuit, they snort and say ‘Oh, you’re on low carb?’ or look at me disdainfully because clearly I’m just being a faddy eater and being incredibly inconvenient (having had an eating disorder, I’m used to this look as I’m sure you can imagine!) Generally, people don’t believe me when I tell them about my IBS and how it affects me (and I really don’t fancy going into detail about my bowel movements to convince them that I am telling the truth!).

I think this misunderstanding is because the popularity and promotion of gluten-free has led to people who have no history of intolerance and who have not been to see a doctor self-diagnosing an intolerance and cutting out gluten altogether in favour of expensive gluten-free alternatives, of which there is now an increasingly diverse range in the supermarkets (isn’t that just proof of the adoption of gluten free?) The problem is that because people see it as a diet and weight loss method, and not as a necessary (or unnecessary for most, as it happens) lifestyle choice, they feel they can consume as much gluten-free produce as they please and that they will be healthy and lose weight as a result. Sadly, they’re wrong.

Processed gluten-free products are often full of the same nasty chemicals and preservatives as are in foods containing gluten – and in fact sometimes they have more because they are not made in a ‘traditional’ way as some ‘normal’ products are. They contain just as much sugar too, so eating a gluten-free pack of biscuits instead of the occasional ‘normal biscuit’ is absolutely no good for your body.

There’s varying schools of thought scientifically as to whether cutting gluten out of your diet is beneficial medically-speaking, however a fair few of these contradict each other ,with some saying it may help, others which categorically deny that, unless you have medical reason to, gluten has any reason to be excluded from your diet. As I always say, eating a healthy, balanced, as natural as possible range of foods is absolutely the best thing for your body. Gluten-based foods have been around for centuries and whilst our variations of them (such as refined breads and processed cakes and biscuits) aren’t the best, gluten itself is only the enemy for a select few who genuinely struggle to process it.

Have you experienced any prejudice because of a genuine allergy or intolerance?

smallersignature

GLUTENFREE

FacebookTwitterShare

Inspirational Women – Kate Upton

 

kate-upton-the-other-woman-stills_1

She’s only 20, yet she’s a number one sex symbol worldwide. But there’s also something really refreshing about Kate Upton – she’s honest, she’s curvy and she comes across as incredibly normal whilst possessing maturity beyond her years. She just had to be a part of my Inspirational Women series.

She’s aware that she is a prominent person and a huge role model to women globally  because of her modelling career – but also has something to say about Photoshop culture and marketer’s responsibilities to women.

Of beauty and the falsehood of Photoshop, she says: “Most of the time the model is retouched and too skinny and other people get depressed by it…it’s not realistic for that model or for that woman reading the magazine to think she should look like that.”

Of her own body image: “Everybody goes through hard times, regardless of if they are being criticised for their body.”

Some might say Kate speaking out is ‘all very well’ considering she is a beautiful globally recognised model and a prominent part of the industry itself. No, she’s not necessarily brave or noble, but she speaks with kindness, honesty and integrity which may inspire other women and also proves that each and every one of us has bad days. What do you think of Kate and her comments?

smallersignature

FacebookTwitterShare

Hair loss shampoo – the low down

Shampoo

Hair loss is particularly relevant to the blog because eating disorders often cause acute hair loss, or at least result in thinner hair, and stress and anxiety are also culprits in causing women to lose an excessive amount of hair.

As I’ve said before on the blog, losing your hair is one of the most awful things a woman can experience aesthetically. It’s one of those things which you just want to stop immediately – so you’ll pay anything to get your hands on something which promises to stop your hair falling out, and improves the look of your hair, instantly. You feel anxious and upset about your hair and how you look and therefore you enter a vicious cycle because stress will do your hair absolutely no good whatsoever.

I’ve covered a few things that have worked for me, such as Castor Oil and other methods, on the blog before, but in this post I wanted to focus purely on shampoos because they really can be a bit of a minefield and there are a lot of them about. I can honestly say I’ve tried most of them! I’ve also spent hours trudging through reviews online and frankly, they always tend to be mixed and it takes a long time and a lot of review reading to get a decent picture of how and how well a product works! Here’s my genuine, balanced views on the top 5 I have used below:

  1. Alpecin/Plantur

alpecin

This stuff worked wonders for me. It’s a caffeine-based shampoo – the caffeine acts as a stimulant on the scalp to encourage hair growth. Scalp Stimulation is a main discipline in the hair growth bible, that’s why head massages and cinnamon and peppermint along with caffeine are extensively used in the industry. Like cinnamon and peppermint, caffeine gives a tingly sensation when it is applied to the scalp. Alpecin instructs users to leave the shampoo on for at least 2 minutes – this is when you start to feel the tingle. The instructions say ‘leave as long as possible’ so sometimes I would sit in the bath with it on my hair for 20-30 minutes just to give it a good go.

There are 2 different brands here – Alpecin and Plantur. Plantur is basically the ladies’ version of Alpecin and from what I have heard they are very similar – I used Alpecin so I had to put up with the manly smell for a few months but in all honesty it was worth it.

After a month or so of using it every other day I noticed new hair growth and the rest of my hair began to grow very rapidly. After 2-3 months I had a thatch of baby hairs about 2-3cm long and my hair was growing very quickly, so I stopped using Alpecin and switched back to my normal shampoo. Another 3 months later and that baby hair is now 2-3 inches long – I’ve had no let up in the speed or thickness of growth and I now have a little fringe of baby hair down to my eyebrows! It really worked for me it just took persistence and regular washing, plus sticking to the instructions of keeping it on for a fair amount of time.

The only thing I will say about Alpecin in particular is that I may not recommend it for lighter hair colours or anyone who dyes their hair. I have naturally mousy brown hair which I dye a shade or two darker but the shampoo actually faded my natural hair (and the dyed hair) to a weird gingery-brown colour which I had to keep dying over. It does say in the instructions that Alpecin may cause discolouration of the hair, especially blonde hair, so it’s a risk you may want to weigh up before using. Personally, I was happy to take this in return for rapid, sustained new growth.

Pros: Fantastic, good-quality new hair growth, very good price, readily available in lots of retailers.

Cons: Manly-smell (if using Alpecin), hair can get more greasy in-between washes, hair dye and natural hair colour can be affected by product.

 

  1. Nioxin

nioxin

The favoured premium go-to hair loss solution, this is the product you’ll likely be recommended by your hairdresser. I used this a couple of years ago when my hair started to fall out (not as much as when I was poorly, or last year) but still significantly enough for me to feel I needed to take action. I also had a Nioxin scalp treatment at a hairdresser which involved a long vigorous head massage using a grainy peppermint solution made by Nioxin which made my hair look thicker straight away!

I loved Nioxin so much that I continued to use it as my usual shampoo until last year when my hair started falling out uncontrollably and I felt I needed to try something else; I’m not sure whether Nioxin might have become ineffective because I’d been using it on a day to day basis for so long before my hair started falling out.

Simply put, Nioxin works using peppermint as one of its main active ingredients, to stimulate the scalp but also to fully cleanse the scalp of any debris which may be blocking hair follicles and therefore negatively affecting growth. This is also what gives it its strong, clinical minty scent. Nioxin is great because rather than being ‘one size fits all’, it caters to different hair types and therefore different types of hair loss. For me, I needed something for fine, visibly thinning hair, so I went for Number 2. This meant the shampoo cleansed my hair really nicely and left it bouncy and thick-looking, not at all weighed down. I’d still go back to Nioxin as a regular shampoo now as I liked it so much.

The only complaint I would have about Nioxin is that the range is huge; there are now different foams and lotions you can buy as well as the shampoo and conditioner which are all fairly pricey. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when your hair is falling out and you are desperate to combat it in any way possible but my advice here would be to buy the shampoo and conditioner first, then see how you go. I went ahead and purchased one of the ‘Diamond Boost’ products only to find it made my scalp really dry and itchy and made my hair look greasy. I couldn’t tell if it had any effect on the hair loss because I had to stop using it, and now I have a full bottle of expensive serum lying in my drawer.

Extra tip: I bought Nioxin in bulk from my local beauty wholesalers (you can buy online too) – it was a HUGE bottle but saved me a lot of money.

Pros: Fantastic range of hair loss shampoos and conditioners (and shampoos and conditioners in general), tailored to your hair type and hair loss type, recommended by stylists, works to clean hair and scalp and promote new hair growth, range of salon treatments which are reasonably priced (RRP) and really do work to improve the look and condition of hair.

Cons: A little expensive at £12 a bottle, only available in salons and online (the best price tends to be online!), a confusing extra range of add-on products which are expensive and may be purchased in desperation but may not be best for your hair.

 

  1. Mane n’ Tail

 manentail

I heard about this years ago when I was recovering from my eating disorder but I couldn’t get my hands on any for love nor money. I even spoke to my friend who has horses and she said she couldn’t find any at the equine wholesalers!

A few years on, I noticed it advertised in the beauty section of a magazine and realised that everyone must now have cottoned on to the Mane N Tail craze, hoping this meant it was more readily available. It was! I bought mine from a local African hair retailer but you can find it on Amazon and eBay too.

I bought a bottle on eBay and started to use it straight away. What I will say about Mane N Tail is it’s a fantastic general shampoo. It doesn’t claim to contain special ingredients like others do, and it’s definitely not all-natural but it lathers up so nicely and your hair is fresh and clean and bouncy after use. It also smells gorgeous!

Originally there was just one type of Mane N Tail but there’s now a few to choose from which baffled me at first – I stuck to the original. The range also now features conditioners and a detangling spray however I haven’t tried these (yet!) so I can’t say how good these are.

All in all a good shampoo but I’m not sure it made any real difference to my hair growth. This may be a placebo opinion in that because it wasn’t tingling on my head it wasn’t ‘working’, but I would definitely use the shampoo again.

Pros: Great shampoo, smells lovely, lathers very well and cleans hair well. Good price and readily available.

Cons: Not sure it affected my hair growth (not a con for many but given the point of the article…!)

 

  1. Michael Van Clarke 3 More Inches

 michaelvanclarke

I had NEVER heard of this stuff (and shamefully the name made me giggle) when I heard about it for the first time when talking to a friend who has beautiful long thick hair, but felt it was thinning at the front due to wearing it in tight buns for work.

She told me she really rated it and that I should definitely try it, but that it was expensive. I went online and yes, it is a little pricey, however easily available from Amazon which also sold trial travel packs for the sceptical to try. I was so happy using my Alpecin that I decided to leave it and subsequently went back to my old shampoo; so on Christmas day when one of the said travel packs landed in my stocking I was over the moon and excited to try it!

The pack contains a tube of leave-in treatment, a tube of conditioner and a tube of shampoo. The treatment is for weekly or fortnightly use whereas the shampoo and conditioner are for regular use. I decided to go for the leave-in treatment straight away and slathered it all over my hair then went off to bake Christmas cookies for a few hours.

When I washed it off, my hair was incredibly silky and soft. It was plump and not at all weighed down by the product, which surprised me as it contains keratin protein and in my experience keratin products can be heavy.

Keratin is the main component in the 3 More Inches range; if you take a look at the ingredients you’ll see there’s no chemical nasties and a hell of a lot of keratin, which is basically protein-rich hair-food (like a smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and avocado steak salad, topically applied!) Keratin is actually a protein itself, naturally found in hair fibres. A lack of Keratin can result in dry brittle hair which breaks off easily – so you can see why sufficient Keratin is important to stop hair loss from breakage and also from brushing out huge knots as it also makes hair much smoother and easier to comb through.

I haven’t used this range enough to be able to categorically say whether it has made a difference or not but it was certainly visibly nourishing for my hair and my friend tells me it has made a massive difference to hers in just a matter of weeks.

Pros: Luxurious shampoo, smells lovely, easy to use and lathers well considering it doesn’t contain any of the worst chemical nasties. Packed full of hair-loving Keratin which can certainly be no bad thing.

Cons: Expensive, only available online.

 

  1. Naked Shampoo 2 in 1

 naked shampoo

When I started reading up on hair loss I read a lot of articles which encouraged me to ditch chemicals completely in order to repair my scalp and restore my lost hair. Some even urged me to stop washing my hair entirely (never going to happen – I have a job!!). Whilst I could see the science behind this I struggled with the practicality. When I started looking at the ingredients lists of shampoos in the shops and the ones I used currently, I noticed they were full of the said ‘nasty chemicals’ that according to those articles under no circumstance should I be applying to my scalp. I panicked, then I Googled natural shampoos.

It took me ages going through online shops and forums to find that one of the Naked range of shampoos did not contain the dreaded Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is what makes shampoos and soaps lather. I wasn’t particularly happy about going lather-less because that’s part of the shampooing process that I love, but with bald patches rapidly emerging I was willing to try anything and going all natural made complete sense. Some of the reviews cited rapid hair growth using the shampoo so I was very excited to give it a go.

I used the Purifying 2 in 1 Shampoo from Naked. It smelt heavenly in the bottle but that smell unfortunately didn’t really linger on my hair. I was pleasantly surprised that it lathered up nicely when I washed my hair and my hair felt really clean after using it – plus it was nice and soft.

I used the shampoo for around 2 months but unfortunately in all honestly I don’t feel it made any difference to the growth of my hair. That’s when I switched to Alpecin.

Pros: Cheaply priced, smells nice, easy to use and still lathers a little bit. 100% natural no nasties.

Cons: You can only buy it from Boots and Sainsburys, and bigger stores at that. Online you can only buy it from these retailers or direct (it’s on eBay but is much higher than retail price, weirdly). Personally saw no difference to my hair growth and wasn’t the best shampoo I have ever had cleansing-wise.

 

Having read this article back, it’s funny that the two products that worked best for me are the ones with the most cons. Don’t let this put you off – as the saying goes, no pain, no gain. Some of the most potent medical treatments have the worst side effects. The point is, they work. Have you guys used anything you feel is share-worthy here for hair loss? I’d love to share them with everyone else!

smallersignature

 

HAIRLOSSSHAMPOOLOWDOWN

FacebookTwitterShare

The end of Page 3 and the objectification of women – are campaigners missing the point?

no-more-page-3_2849561b

Last week, the subject of an explosive Newsnight (I promise I don’t watch that all the time!) was the apparent removal of topless Page 3 models from The Sun, only for the feature to be reinstated just days later. This sparked outrage from feminist campaigners who believe that the feature is dated and degrades and objectifies women. Sounds fair enough, right?

I’ve never really had a problem with Page 3. I think it’s a choice of those women to do that and it’s a long standing rather innocent feature in what is a popular UK newspaper. I understand that the connotations of it could be understood to be a view of women which is far from desirable – women portrayed simply as sex objects and nothing more. Of course that makes sense.

However reading a few articles and listening to the arguments put forward by campaigners on Newsnight, I couldn’t help thinking that they were a little misguided, narrow minded and quite mistaken that in thinking that scrapping Page 3 would have as large effect as they are saying it will on the way women and young girls see themselves. What about everything else? Was my honest opinion.

You’ll know from reading this blog that I am keen to highlight the fact that the media plays a huge part in how we view ourselves as people. Part of that is Page 3, of course, but that’s really quite an insignificant part when you look at the whole picture. Almost every single image we see is photo-shopped. Every single image is of somebody who is deemed by society to be ‘beautiful’. Celebrity culture has created a raft of youngsters who equate success with fame. And despite this, certain women are standing up and saying that it is Page 3 which is predominantly responsible for women not becoming rocket scientists? More likely that it may make women with small breasts feel inadequate – but then if we’re going down that route then why not name and shame every celebrity magazine which features women with large breasts, every TV show, every

My point here is that we, and our children, are exposed to this sort of damaging media every day, all day. The Sun and see Page 3, I feel, are a very small part of that. I was sad to see MPs and ministers falling over themselves to take a shot at The Sun for reinstating Page 3, yet not addressing more dangerous forms of   such as all the fad diet adverts we are subjected to, celebrity fitness DVDs, dubious diet advice and pro-ana websites. (I shudder just saying that word). There’s no uproar over the models in the huge amount of Victoria’s Secret adverts which young girls aspire to emulate (they might not have their tits out but they’re still in lingerie) – at least Page 3 girls are realistic.

Which brings me on nicely to this: I actually have something positive to say about Page 3. And that is that the girls used are always voluptuous. Granted, this may be a surgically-enhanced curviness, however that’s never the focus (if you get what I mean!). The whole ethos of Page 3 is the ‘girl next door’, ‘pretty yet attainable’ and of course, big-breasted ideal. A lot of Page 3 models I see are naturally curvy girls. They have stomachs and thighs and yes, they’re photo-shopped in many of their portfolio photos but you can still tell that they are natural, beautiful women. Women who, like all of us, have choices and are free to choose what they want to do with their lives, women who are lucky enough to be recognised as beautiful and have curves and exploit those financially. If you were going to slam them for making other women feel bad, then you’d have to concentrate your anger equally to all models, all ‘beautiful’ women in the public eye, all retailers, all advertisers, and so on. I can’t say that what these girls are doing is as damaging as the Victoria’s Secret models, I can’t say that I really think all this time and effort that ministers are putting in to squashing Page 3 is warranted, nor do I think it’s the best use of their time.

What would I like to see? I’d like to see the female MPs, ministers and campaigners who are spending so much time talking negatively about The Sun and its effect on women actually spend that time changing the media and making positive steps to help all women to feel good about themselves. I don’t think this is a feminist issue – women know that we can be who we want to be and in honesty we’re all fried trying to do it all and be it all! I think if this is to be an issue at all, it is one which needs to be addressed across the board, and not just aimed solely at The Sun.

What are your opinions on this? Do you think Page 3 really is an isolated case of degradation and objectification? Or can more be done across the board to help women feel better about themselves rather than a confusing offensive of ‘feminism’ and ‘empowerment’?

smallersignature

FacebookTwitterShare

Uplifting scents – tried and tested

It’s no secret that aromatherapy, whilst not necessarily being a ‘cure’ for low mood or mental health issues, can really help to boost mood and trigger ‘happy hormones’ in our bodies. I absolutely LOVE perfume, something I think I inherited from my Mum who is a perfume fiend. I’m very particular about how things smell and I have a fair amount of scented candles and room sprays in my arson for when I need a little lift. Here’s my pick of favourite uplifting scents for body, pillow and home for when you need a boost!

bodymistvanilla

Body Shop Vanilla Body Spray – £7.00, The Body Shop

Not everyone is into vanilla scents, but this spray is so sweet and warming it’s difficult not to fall in love with its heady scent. I like to spritz this over my bedlinen and on my clothes for a little comforting boost. It’s so reasonably priced you really can go wild with it and just buy another when it runs out, plus it does have decent staying power especially in hair and on clothes.

Laura-Mercier-Eau-Gourmande-Ambre-Vanille

Laura Mercier Eau Gourmande – from £32, John Lewis, Harvey Nichols

These perfumes are good enough to EAT! Very much like The Body Shop spray, these are very earthy, sweet patisserie scents.

I used to love Pistachio but now my favourite is Almond Coconut, although it took my ages to decide between this and Ambre Vanille.

They’re a little pricey at around £32 for 50ml, however they are really very strong and a little goes a long way.

Like my next choice Rituals, a full range of products is available for each scent, and if you use the shower gel, whipped body butter and perfume together you really are cocooned in the most amazing cloud of fragrance!

Rituals_Happy_Mist_Light_Bed__amp__Body_Perfume_50ml_1375966416

Rituals, from around £20, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, House of Fraser

I don’t think there’s a single one of these scents I dislike. The Rituals ethos is all about calming, zen spa scents which are deliciously uplifting, fresh and sumptuous. Can’t argue with that!

If I absolutely had to choose one (or let’s say two!) I love Happy Mist and Chakra Water. And Hammam Secret. Okay I love all of them!

What’s nice about this range is that it is extended to body products too. Energy Bubbles are fantastic for a long, hot calming bath and is complimented perfectly by Yogi Flow shower foam. The body butters are gorgeous too.

All in all you can use this spray to give you a wonderful little life throughout the day, then go home and indulge yourself in the most luxurious shower or bath experience ever! They even do candles and reed diffusers, if you fancy going all out.

espabathoil

Espa – from £28, www.espaskincare.com

Famed spa brand Espa have always been a favourite of mine. Although they don’t yet do fragrance of any kind (sadface), they do the most sumptuous oils each with a different aim suited to certain ailments of the body and mind. The restorative bath oil and soothing bath oil are really good for relaxing and lifting your mood; I would recommend smothering it all over your body and hair then having a good soak in the bath – the scent will stay with you and the oils are nourishing for your skin and hair.

diptyque

Diptique Solid Perfume – £28, John Lewis

Famed for their candles, Diptyque also do solid perfumes which are handy for popping in your bag and using as and when needed. Because it’s solid perfume, it lasts that bit longer than a spray which you can always be a bit trigger happy with. Diptyque fragrances have a musky decadence so they’re not as light and floral-y as say the Rituals scents, and they’re certainly not sickly sweet like Eau Gourmande.

voluspacandle

Voluspa – from £30, Anthropologie or www.voluspa.com

Voluspa don’t do body products, but their sprays, candles and reed diffusers really are heavenly. The luxurious scents and packaging really do make you feel special and the sprays linger in the air and on fabrics for a long while.

There are so many scents to choose from here but that’s good – it all depends on your preference. Each one really is headily strong and uplifting and although they’re a little pricey they do last forever, especially the room sprays.

tisserandcitrus

Tisserand Roll-On Survival Scents – £5.49, Holland and Barrett

Whilst the above are perfumes, these are very much a return to traditional aromatherapy and are made from pure essential oils, really giving that ‘spa’ calm on inhaling the scent. Available in Energise, Head-Clear, Inner Peace and De-Stress to name a few, each product is tailored using aromatherapy principles to different needs. Like the solid perfume, these handy little rollerball decanters are easy to use and pop in your hand bag for emergencies. They last for ages and are really so reasonably priced at just over a fiver a piece. Why not get several for different occasions!?

Tisserand also do some beautiful non-targeted scents in the rollerball format which look and smell amazing! The image above is from this range; which features floral scents such as Garden Rose and Lavender.

Do you have any of your own to add? Share them below!

smallersignature

 

UPLIFTINGSCENTS

FacebookTwitterShare

Procrastination – the thief of time (and sanity)

coffeeart

Lack of motivation and high levels of procrastination are frustrating traits we all harbour. Yet for those with anxiety or depression it’s multiplied by 100% or more, meaning it’s harder to get out of that rut you’re stuck in. Couple that with self-esteem issues ‘I can’t do it’ and you’ll never get things done. Having a huge to-do list and having achieved nothing due to your lack of motivation only serves to impact your low self-esteem further.

I am the sort of person who gives myself a million things to do – and I control that with just as many lists. But I realised that I was just re-making lists neater when I’d crossed a couple of things off to pacify my OCD tendencies – and I was not actually getting things done. When I realised that the biggest tasks such as arranging all my photographs from the past year (which had now become two years) had been on the list for 12 months or more, I decided I needed to sort out my procrastination as it would help to increase my productivity, subsequently easing my anxiety.

How do you get that magic motivation?

It takes a lot of stern words with yourself (which may well be deserved) but it’s definitely possible to at least minimise procrastination. I say this so candidly because it is so important to conquer the little urchins in your head that give you insignificant things to do; in fact it is imperative to recovery and improved mental health. I’ve included a few tips below that I have picked up over the past year or so which I am implementing in my daily and weekly routine – little tips which have made a huge difference to my productivity!

  1. Break down big goals. Staring up at a HUGE goal just gives way to self-defeating thoughts of ‘oh my god I can’t do this’ or more likely ‘I don’t want to do this.’
  2. Get your ‘worst’ job out of the way first. Your least desirable job of the day or week is best tackled first, if possible. It gives you the motivation to go ahead and do the other jobs because they don’t seem so monumental once you’ve got the one you were least looking forward to out of the way.
  3. Prioritise your to do list. Some of the things on your daily or weekly to do list don’t really need to be there. Break the lists down into manageable smaller lists – how many tasks can you physically do today? If it’s ten, cut it down to ten. Less imperative tasks can wait till tomorrow.
  4. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you don’t complete the tasks within the allocated time, don’t beat yourself up. Just take it as an indicator of what you can manage in one day and cut your lists accordingly for the next day.
  5. Putting it off won’t make it go away! When you prioritise, make sure you do so in order of actual importance and not in the order of what you want to do or feel like doing. If a bill needs paying and it stresses you out and you can’t be bothered with it, putting it at the bottom of your list will make it disappear. If you tackle it first (as in point 2) you’ll be laughing!

I would love to hear some of your own tips for minimising procrastination and getting motivation to do mundane every day jobs. Please share them below!

Signature

 

 

FacebookTwitterShare

Alicia Douvall – an example of society’s misunderstanding of Body Dysmorphia

alicia-douvall

I’ve not watched Celebrity Big Brother this series; but nowadays you don’t really have to to get a feel for what is going on in the house! It is all over the media, and understandably so. This year seems to have introduced one of the most controversial series yet – indeed they appear to be getting more and more complaints with each new series and each new episode!

When asking my friend who was in the house this year, she rattled off a list of washed up Z-listers along with an unapologetic commentary summing up each with very little mercy. She eventually came to ‘a glamour model whose had a shit load of surgery – ugly’. Straight away, I knew who she was referring to. And I actually found myself upset about what she had said.

 

That’s because Alicia Douvall has openly talked about her battle with Body Dysmorphia, a battle which clearly is being won on a daily basis, and not by her. Yet still people are so cruel and judge her only by her apparent ‘stupidity’ and shocking looks – the type of judgemental behaviour which causes many to become overly self-conscious in the first place.

The power of Body Dysmorphia can’t be underestimated. Couple that with enough money and a ‘good reason’ to continue ‘improving yourself’ (in Alicia’s case, her career), then you have a really potent combination.

Despite having spoken at length and even having done a television programme talking about her BD, (albeit not a necessarily informative one which seemed to concentrate more on her not winning the battle than winning it) still she is ridiculed by a society who through no fault of their own really are ignorant and misguided in the way they see her, and others like her.

When I do have the courage to open up and explain to people what having Body Dysmorphia means for me, I’m often met with surprise and disbelief. I’m invariably asked why I feel that way. People’s perception of me changes instantly; whoever they thought I was, they then see somebody who doesn’t see themselves how everybody else sees them and whose actions and behaviours are influenced and fuelled by their need to be approved of, by themselves and by others.

If Alicia Douvall had instead been somebody with a birth defect which had disfigured her face, I’m sure that any negative comment passed on how she looked would have been met with a fairly large amount of disgust and negativity by the British public. But because Alicia’s condition is not something we can see, and appears to be ‘self-inflicted’, she is subject to what can only be described as bullying. Especially poignant as for most of us being bullied is what caused us to develop BD in the first place.

There’s others too – Lauren Goodger, Katie Price, Heidi Montag. All ridiculed, but to someone with BD it’s blindingly obvious that they are actually crippled with insecurity.

Yep, she put herself in CBB, she put herself in the public eye, as all these people do, and in these cases there is of course an element of ‘asking for it’. But what concerns me is public perception as a whole of BD because let’s face it, how many people even know it exists? How often is it mistaken for vanity?

Do you ever come up against stigma or unkind and unwanted criticism relating to your Body Dysmorphia?

Signature

 

FacebookTwitterShare

Should we have nutrition advice in our schools?

 

I talk about this in the book and include a section on basic nutrition – that’s how important I think this is! Largely because I lacked this rather simple education when I was younger and instead my head became filled with ridiculous harmful advice peddled by diet companies and magazines. In light of the recent funding which is being pumped into the NHS to help tackle Eating Disorders, I wanted to see if anybody else agrees with me when I say I feel that some of the money should go into prevention as well as treatment.

Perhaps the budget is so tight that it cannot afford for any portion of it to be siphoned off for preventative causes like nutrition advice, but in an ideal world where we had plenty of money to spare I’m certain that at least a quarter of it should be invested into better education and preventative measures to bring the number of actual cases down before they get to a critical point in an already strung-out NHS, not to mention a massively under pressure mental health structure.

The NHS has been investing in preventative medicine and preventative education for some time; campaigns and adverts in newspapers or on television you see such as Stop Smoking, Dry January and Change 4 Life are examples of this. They’re usually educative or encouraging people to make positive choices in their lives which should mean that the NHS has to spend less later because people are generally healthier than they would have been had they not been given that advice.

With the NHS budget under massive strain, I think it would be intelligent and financially sensible to look to schools to administer education to young people at grassroots level, when so many of them are developing important ideas about themselves, about life and about food.

A lot of Eating Disorders tend to manifest themselves in these early years of our lives and that was especially true in my case. When I speak to others who are going through an Eating Disorder or who have poor body image many also talk of being bullied at school for being fat or ugly or not fitting in, and as a consequence turning to fad diets to improve the way they looked and developing an Eating Disorder further down the line.

I’m certainly not saying that diets and the media are wholly responsible for Eating Disorders. They’re complex mental illnesses with their roots in many facets of our lives and personalities. Many sufferers know that what they think and feel about food isn’t fact but they of course are compelled to continue anyway. I know this more than anyone.

However cases seem to be emerging at younger and younger ages. These children cannot have a proper understanding of food and how it works in our bodies; and any education they do have tends to be confusing and incorrect because it comes from their exposure to the diet industry, who as you know I think are a pretty irresponsible bunch.

I’m not saying that education of this kind would stop all cases, but certainly a few might be halted by a better understanding of our bodies, coupled with advice on self-confidence and self-care.

What do you think? Should we look at introducing nutrition education into schools at Secondary level to help them to understand their bodies and make more informed choices?

Signature

FacebookTwitterShare