I’ve just got back from a brisk walk over the fields near where I live. You might wonder why I am troubling to tell you this. Read on, and all will become clear. A couple of days ago I was listening to the radio and the estimable Michael Mosely came on, telling us about a proposal that if you wanted to sleep well you should go for a walk early in the morning. There is something about being exposed to full daylight early on in the day that triggers off getting better sleep later on in that same day.
I’m at that age where I need to be careful about a lot of things I never used to give a second thought to. Well into my forties I had little to worry about with my weight. But since then I have found that left to itself, my stomach indulges in what used to be called middle aged spread. This bothers me mainly because my self image is someone who is thin. And indeed most of the rest of me is indeed thin. If my stomach expands it is all the more noticeable.
More seriously, having a high BMI increases the risk of a number of health conditions that I still don’t really believe should apply to me. Sadly they do. And on top of that carting extra kilograms around is unnecessary work, and I don’t have the energy to waste any more.
I found a pretty good solution in the form of intermittent fasting. I went for the 5/2 option. I choose to eat only 600 calories on Mondays and Fridays. This pretty much got my BMI back into the NHS’s approved range for my height and age, and I felt generally better too. So that was a good result. It wasn’t too difficult to implement either. I could get to mid afternoon on most fast days hardly noticing I was doing it. It was more difficult in the evening though, and I breached the 600 calory limit reasonably often. But overall it was working for me and I was keeping to it.
Then came the COVID lockdown, which required me to work in my kitchen a lot. This clearly was going to make it more difficult to fast. I have a reasonable level of willpower, but not enough to cope with a nearby fridge and larder for hours on end. So I just gave up for the duration of the pandemic. I could, after all, go back to my old habits when the crisis was over.
But now we are approaching the one year mark I am beginning to realise just how bad a state I have got into. I have put on 10Kg and my weight is categorised as obese by the NHS. I don’t look it, but I know I am. I have also found my energy and concentration levels plummeting. Included in this is a loss of willpower.
We tend to think of willpower as a personality trait. But in reality it is more like a muscle. You can strengthen it a bit with exercise, but you really need the energy behind it if you want to do anything with it. I am seriously doubting that I any longer have the ability to follow my intermittent fasting regime. So what to do?
I did a bit of inadvertent research over Christmas. Due to circumstances I found myself having to move a lot of stuff out of our shop in a very limited timescale. I managed this, and to my surprise I found that when I had finished rather than being exhausted – as I had expected – I was actually more energetic than I had been for many months. Thinking it over, I realised that the physical activity combined with the tight time schedule had greatly reduced my snacking. Was there something in this?
I realised that I had been doing a less formal version of intermittent fasting. Skipping a few meals and not snacking was quite close to what is often called 16/8 fasting – only eating in an 8 hour window. The prospect of going all day without food seemed too daunting. But basically just skipping breakfast until 12 seemed doable. (I have never eaten after 8:00pm, so that was all I needed to do to get to 16 hours.)
So I gave it a try. I found that it wasn’t too difficult. In fact it was easy to skip not only breakfast, but lunch as well. As I write this, I have got through a week only eating between 5:00pm and 8:00pm. This is a very extreme sounding 21/3 pattern. I have lost an astonishing 3Kg in 8 days. I obviously won’t keep up that rate of weight loss. I don’t think even hunger strikers would generally shed pounds at that rate. It isn’t remotely sensible to lose weight that quickly anyway, but I suspect that each successive kilogram will take longer to shift.
I am going to keep up my new regime for a while and see where it takes me. If it proves interesting, I’ll post my findings.
On the whole suggestions for home made products to cope with medical emergencies that you find on the internet are a really bad idea. But as it happens, this one that has been circulating on social media isn’t too far off the mark. Vodka is basically alcohol – so as long as it is a brand with a fairly high content you are getting alcohol that will have the capability of sterilising your skin. You’d want a good brand. Cheaper ones with lower alcohol content won’t work as well. I like the idea of the aloe vera. It will offset the drying effect of the alcohol to some extent. I don’t think I’d put so much in though. It is diluting the alcohol from the vodka and reducing its effectiveness. The tea tree is a pretty good option too. It has well established antibacterial properties and will stay around to give some protection against further infection after the alcohol has evapourated.
There isn’t anything that really beats old fashioned soap and water for keeping your skin clean and clear of bacteria. This is comforting information. We’ve all got soap to hand so we can at least keep ourselves germ free at home. Soap has a double effect. Its cleaning action removes the invisible droplets that might contain infective material. Its high pH and disruptive effect on membranes put stress on microbes – killing or at least weakening them. This isn’t instantaneous: the medical profession recommend a 20 second contact time. Hands need to be kept clean to stop them transferring contamination to other parts of your body. So make sure that the whole hand gets the treatment. Pay attention the backs of the hands, the areas between your fingers and most importantly of all the space between your finger nails and the tips of your fingers.
One of the reasons for going green as a skincare brand is to acquire the halo effect that comes from being one of the good guys. Our continual experience of the real world is that nearly everything is a trade off and nothing is totally good or totally bad. But us humans still like to think of things in much more simple terms. We are inclined to think that if a brand has good values, it also has good products that do good things for you. We all do this, and no amount of logic seems capable of undoing it. I don’t think anyone doubts that many natural things are not safe. Plenty of synthetic things are perfectly harmless too. But nonetheless the words ‘safe and natural’ seem to belong together. So it is a bit surprising to find a company like Green People, which professes to be on the side of the angels in terms of its natural products, getting into hot water with the Advertising Standards Agency.
I don’t actually watch Love Island, but I do keep track of the rulings made by the Advertising Standards Agency. So when I saw that someone called Olivia Buckland had got into trouble with them, I hadn’t actually heard of her. Continue reading
There is a very serious and worthy video online made by the West Yorkshire police about the risks of medical creams that contain paraffin. I get what they are thinking. Policemen do of course look younger all the time, but no doubt there are still some that are old enough to remember paraffin heaters. These large but portable oil fired devices were a must to get through a cold English winter in the days before central heating. They might even remember the little paraffin burners with cotton wicks that were used in chemistry sets. I certainly do. So you can see why they might be worried. It really doesn’t sound like a good idea to get paraffin onto towels.
And they had an illustration of the risks involved when an elderly woman was involved in a house fire. It got out of hand and killed her. She suffered from a skin condition and had cream soaked towels around her at the time of the unfortunate incident.Continue reading
Few people would chose to be bald; we all assume that it makes you less attractive. This consensus has been around at least since the Bible was written and certainly since then. It isn’t just Western culture either. Native American Indians tried to cure baldness with herbal remedies. It is surprising how often generally held beliefs like this turn out not to be true. But not this one. Continue reading
Cannabidiol is being treated by everyone on the business as the next big thing. It is getting media coverage as a treatment for mental health problems, so its connection to personal care isn’t that obvious. But if you think logic has anything to do with this sort of thing, well you haven’t been paying attention. Anything with a bit of a buzz around it is good enough. In fact there is a reasonably good case for cannabidiol being of some use on the skin. If it can affect receptors in the brain there is a pretty good chance that will do the same to receptors in the skin which could be beneficial for pain and itch. We don’t have any data to back this up yet, but that isn’t the kind of detail that troubles the folk who are looking to get ahead in a crowded market.
At time of writing everyone is talking about cannabidiol and there are lots of projects going on. A few pioneering skus have hit the shelves, but it is far from mass market yet. I predict that by this time next year there will be CBD variations of most of the major brands and maybe even a couple of new ones.Continue reading
You can’t avoid social media in the beauty business. And you can’t avoid the big four platforms – Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. All of them are used by brands to communicate their offerings, and consumers to find and react to those offerings. You also need to use them to promote yourself if you offer a service. I have a business so that is obvious, but I’d argue that if you have a job you need to promote your services as well. Continue reading