Tag Archives: health

Intermittent Fasting

Carrying More Pounds Than I Have To

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.

What You Need To Know About Hand Sanitisers

Image result for hand sanitiser

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.

Cannabidiol (CBD) In Skincare

Fashions come and go in the cosmetics and personal care world, and everyone is keen to be on the latest trend as soon as possible. The latest buzzy thing seems to be Cannabidiol or CBD. This has an interesting background, being a derivative of hemp which is also the source of cannabis – which has been a popular if illegal recreational pharmaceutical since the sixties. So CBD comes with ready made notoriety. But it is currently being sold not as a gateway into a counter culture, or even as an aid to relaxation, but as a substance with health benefits. Continue reading

Egg and Yoghurt As A Hair Conditioner

I was talking to someone who grew up on the Indian subcontinent and he asked me about something his mother and sister do.  They make their own hair conditioner using yoghurt and egg.  It’s quite an interesting idea.  As a cosmetic chemist I can draw on raw materials from several hundred suppliers and use all sorts of equipment to develop and make highly effective hair treatments.  But what if I had to work with only the materials that were to hand in the average country kitchen? Continue reading

Rosemary Water – Is It Good For You?

I am not religious, but I was struck once by something a Catholic priest said on the radio.  He was talking about a seminar they had just had on morality.  “It’s easy to agree on principles.  The arguments start when you get into the details.”  Well I don’t know about morals, but that is certainly true when it comes to cosmetic claims.  The principle is pretty simple.  You are only allowed to sell your product on the basis of legal, decent and truthful declarations.  No argument there.  The problems start when you actually start making those claims. Continue reading

Is There Asbestos In Claire’s Accessories?

People often assume that I spend most of my time in the lab formulating products. If only! There are people who can manage to do that but only in very big companies which have big teams. The reality for most formulators, and certainly for me, is that you spend the biggest part of your time troubleshooting. When I started working as a freelancer I did think I might be able to skip doing quite as much. But it turns out that there is more demand for trouble shooting than there is for straight product development.

Oh well. Continue reading

Hinoki Oil – A Natural Cosmeceutical

Hinoki Oil

Hinoki is well known in Japan

One of the good things about the job I do is that I come across interesting stuff all the time.  For example Hinoki Oil, which is the oil obtained from the leaves and roots of Chamaecyparis obtuse, Cupressaceae. The shrub from which it is derived is commonly known as either Hinoki or Hinoki Cyprus and is common in Japan. The wood from it is used to make incense sticks.  So it is something that is quite exotic to me, but presumably is commonplace in Japan. Continue reading

Caffeine Overdose

caffeine overdose

Good stuff, but don’t overdo it

A striking news story today about an accidental overdose of caffeine at a UK university.  The students were given 30g of caffeine instead of 0.3g – a very significant error.  Apparently they did the calculations on a mobile phone and got the decimal point in the wrong place.  This is a remarkably easy mistake to make.   People who need to make sure they weigh things out correctly, cosmetic chemists included, take some trouble to make sure that they do this correctly.  In this case the students were lucky things weren’t a lot worse.  According to the account of the trial 18g has been enough to be fatal in the past. I have actually experienced something a little similar though much less serious. Continue reading

Is Standing Healthier Than Sitting?

Is Standing Healthier Than Sitting?

Is standing up a lot a good idea? The claimed health benefits for standing rather than sitting are quite impressive. According to juststand.org excessive sitting is causing “obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease. ” Continue reading

Colour Codes For Preservatives

Colour Codes For PreservativesAmong the many things I try to cram into my schedule is a newsletter for people with sensitive skin.  I am not very successful at doing this I am afraid, and I don’t get the newsletters out very frequently.  But despite this I get a steady stream of people talking to me about their issues with reactions to cosmetics.  In particular, to preservatives.  And particularly in particular to methylisothiazolinone. Continue reading