Breakfast Is Important

As the old saying says….”breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, and dine like a pauper…….” Well I agree. Speaking personally I know that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for me. I MUST HAVE BREAKFAST.

Even when I was up at 4.15am in preparation for my work on BBC TV’s Breakfast Time programme, I couldn’t leave the house without it! It sets me up for the day.

I have a similar breakfast every morning. It’s nutritious and suited to my everyday requirements. It also provides much of my “5 a day” beneficial fruits and vegetables.
My breakfast begins with a freshly squeezed orange juice. This is the time when I take any supplements I consider necessary to keep me in tip top health. Presently I am popping Glucosomine (joints), Osteocare (bones), and Multivitamin with BioSynergy’s Collagen (skin and general wellbeing)

After my healthy cocktail I fill my bowl with my own pre-mix of muesli, bran flakes, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, currents, nuts and raisins. To my bowl I then add…..

• Fresh blackberries
• “ Blueberries (anti-oxidants)
• “ Raspberries
• “ Strawberries etc (other seasonal fruits) (vit C)
• Plus 1 small chopped banana (potassium)

This glorious mix is washed down with 2 cups of coffee. At weekends this will be freshly ground. But during the working week is more likely to be instant coffee. Then – I am ready to face the world!

Breakfast provides me with the necessary “kick start” to my day. The muesli mix of bran, raisins, and nuts contains complex carbohydrates. Therefore I am provided with a constant drip of energy all morning – right the way through to lunch time. Should I miss breakfast I am a misery and less able to work and concentrate!
(This is a rare occurrence)

When I am away on working cruises or relaxing on holiday I still continue with the familiar breakfast. But I can be tempted to add something special on offer at the Breakfast Table. This usually takes the form of kippers or crispy bacon and tomatoes.

Tips For Health And Happiness

My rules for staying healthy are

    • be as physically active as possible
    • eat a well balanced and varied diet of fresh foods
    • be thankful and happy

My recipe for happiness is

  • keep in touch with family and friends
  • listen to and be interested in younger people
  • keep an open mind

Being fit adds a buzz to my everyday life.   I try to be active for at least ½ hour most days a week.   Often it’s more.   I like to walk, cycle, play tennis, ski and enjoy gardening.  I take the opportunity to be active anytime, anywhere and for as long as I can.  And if I am in the company of friends so much the better – we motivate one another!

As for my diet first and foremost I must have breakfast!  Mine consists of freshly squeezed orange juice followed by my home mix of muesli – which also contains nuts and dried fruit, to which I add sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, bran and wheat germ.  I always chop up a small Caribbean banana and add some fresh fruits such as blueberries, raspberries or strawberries on top.  I have one cup of fresh coffee.

I like to think my well balanced, varied and nutritious diet will provide me with most essential vitamins and minerals.   However I take Calcichew (calcium plus vit D) to help my bones and prevent osteoporosis, and various other supplements should I feel my diet is temporarily lacking.  I often include vitamin E for my skin and Glucosamine for joints.

My favourite food is a lightly grilled or poached fresh fish (caught locally) accompanied by masses of fresh vegetables, followed by fresh fruit and natural yogurt.  But I too do have weaknesses the greatest being a bar of dark chocolate – once I start it I find it hard to finish!   However, I did read recently that dark chocolate is beneficial and contains ingredients which give the “feel good factor”.  Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

And I do enjoy a drink or two Champagne is without doubt my favourite.   However, as the budget doesn’t too often stretch that far I most often drink white wine – sauvignon Blanc or gewürztraminer.  Both have a peculiarly fruity “gooseberry” flavour.   Eme (herbal) is my favourite non-alcoholic drink..

For pampering I enjoy complimentary therapies and treatments such as Swedish massage, Aromatherapy and Reflexology.   Both massages improve circulation, help the body relax and improve the lymphatic drainage system.  I particularly enjoy having my feet massaged and find it most relaxing and soothing.  The reflexologist can detect areas of the body under stress as she works on your feet – and uses and manipulates the corresponding pressure points in the foot to improve the stressed areas.

I like routines and my daily beauty routine consists of regular cleansing and feeding of the skin.   I use Olay’s range of Pro-vital face creams to cleanse, moisturise my skin by day and feed it at night (I was the worldwide “mature face” of Oil of Ulay for the products launch for TV and magazine ads).   I use Lancôme’s products including Primordial Optimum Levres for dry lips, a light foundation, transparent matt powder, and Definicils (non-waterproof) for mascara.  And I exfoliate my face once a week with Exfoliance Douceur.  Boots ranges of eye shadows are excellent and I use YSL Touche Eclat for covering dark under eyes or blemishes.  I finish with a light dusting of St Tropez highlighter for a healthy, natural looking glow to cheeks and forehead.

To relax I enjoy my hobby painting (in both oils and water colours).   I live by the river and have a constant source of inspiration.  At home I enjoy reading, sewing, gardening and messing about in boats.

My greatest regret in life is not having my mother to share my joys and confide my fears to.   She died prematurely, without warning when I was a teenager from a cerebral haemorrhage and I was to find her dead on the bathroom floor.   It was a tragedy I adored her and still miss her dreadfully.  As a mother of two sons and a grandmother of 4 grandchildren I can still stay awake at night worrying, as all parents do, about their health, happiness and safety.  Being computer literate keeps me in touch with the grandchildren, their fashions, fads and interests, keeps my brain active and influences my opinion of the modern world.

Having been divorced some years ago I nowadays find myself single, happy, healthy and active.  I’m fortunate in having a fascination and love of people plus a curiosity about places and a real desire to travel and see the world.   I love to visit family and friends and to make new acquaintances.  Luckily I am often invited to lecture aboard cruise ships, and am currently cruising on a beautiful P&O liner as I type this!  I regularly work as a fitness consultant and run master classes at health resorts, including 2 favourites in the Caribbean islands of St Lucia and Grenada.

I get a great deal of satisfaction from working hard but work has had its embarrassing moments.  One particular incident comes to mind which occurred in my role as “The Green Goddess” on BBC TV’s Breakfast Time.  This particular early morning’s work-out was held on the courts of the upmarket Roehampton Tennis Club in London.  I had co-erced my participants, the majority men, to do deep knee bends in time to the music whilst lined up and holding onto the net.  Given my cue to wind up my morning’s work-out I made my final (and innocent) piece to camera,  With a big smile I thanked the Roehapmton Club and said – “Well, as you can see – it’s not only their balls bouncing on the courts this morning – it’s their members too”!   Oh yes – a final tip – its essential to have a sense of humour too!

Nurses – Modern Day Angels

Despite my healthy lifestyle I have unfortunately experienced hospitals, both as an In-patient and an Out-patient, more times than I like to remember! The brilliant comedian Tony Hancock recounts his hospital experience in the famous 60’s Blood Donor skit, where he compares a nurse’s lot with that of a model.

I quote – “It’s a vocation nursing…… of the highest callings a woman can aspire to….’s not for the money. It’s strange the different values we place on society. You take modelling……some skinny bird up the West End……. all bones and salt cellars…… 50 quid a week And then there’s your nurses, 3 years training, getting paid next to nothing, humping great trolley loads of mince around all day long…… I say, is it right?”.

Today’s models still earn ridiculously high fees, whilst nurses a pittance. Little wonder we can’t recruit youngsters into the nursing profession. One of my immediate family is a midwife in the West Country, whilst another has worked her way up through nursing, to become a Senior Manager of a large NHS hospital. So, I know from personal experience just how dedicated and hardworking nurses can be.

Nursing is still traditionally considered a career for women, but it’s not very conducive to home and family life. Men are more attracted to areas of medical care such as physiotherapy, as they find it difficult to support a family on low nursing pay. Nursing is no longer regarded as a vocation, nor nurses as angels, who dedicate their working lives to the service of mankind for little financial reward.

In 1988 I was found to have breast cancer, surgery was the recommended treatment. I was frightened, vulnerable and very alone as I entered the hospital the evening prior to my surgery. With a mixture of efficiency and empathy, the nurse kept me occupied with form filling and medical procedures, required prior to major surgery. She was my first line of contact and information. I bombarded her with questions which I had been too nervous to ask the surgeon, she competently answered, occasionally giving my arm an extra touch of reassurance, as she checked my blood pressure and pulse.

Over several hours we built up a feeling of trust, and I relaxed into the hospital environment and routine. Together we looked at the consent form I had to sign, in order for the bi-lateral mastectomy to be performed. We carefully checked the words and I signed, realising how important it was for me to take control of what the Surgeon could, or could not do, to my body during the operation. Flowers arrived and nurse bustled off to find a vase, leaving me to come to terms with my hopes and fears.

Later that evening the night sister came to attend me. A comely black lady, kind and efficient, with a generous manner and comforting smile. After a bath I got into bed, with the vague hope of getting some sleep. Nurse offered me a sleeping pill, but I choked with emotion. She put her arm around me and cradled me like a child, and with strong conviction she assured me that everything would be fine. She suggested that before I settled down we said a prayer to Him, and together we did so.

Very early next morning my original nurse greeted me cheerily, checked my blood pressure and, after I bathed with a special pink anaesthetic rub, gave me two pills to make me sleepy. I laid back in fear and trepidation, but nurse was very kind and reassured me, as I was manhandled onto the trolley and taken down to theatre. I had given many performances in my time, including two in West End theatres by Royal Command, but as I was wheeled to theatre I vowed that performance would be my finest!

When I woke up I felt a flash of the most excruciating pain I had ever felt in my life – and then, instantly it seemed, blessed relief as the pain killers were injected. Nurse said I had been in the theatre for four and a half hours. She told me that everything had been done, and slowly and happily I realised that she meant everything – the bi-lateral mastectomy, followed by immediate reconstruction of my breasts. I had dreaded waking to find only the biopsy had been performed. That would have been the case, if there had been any doubt about the presence of cancer. Nurse and I had discussed this possibility when I signed the consent form. She sensed my relief, and squeezed my hand. With my mind at rest and my pain deadened, I dropped in and out of sleep, the worst was over. But the kindness of both nurses lingered in my memory throughout that incoherent day. I still believe in angels!

Looking Back

Today I find myself looking back and I’m wondering – am I as fit at 70 as I was when I was 30? I’m certainly fit enough to do everything I want to like taking keep-fit classes, skiing, and playing tennis. In fact, in my twenties, after I’d had two babies, I wasn’t that fit. It was later that I developed a level of fitness that enabled me to go on breakfast-time television, but that didn’t start until I was about 40.

And I wonder – do I look my age? Well I suppose I must be lucky to have inherited good genes because I’m often told I look ten years younger. But it has to be said that a lot of premature ageing is down to plus exposure to the sun (which I avoid) and/or smoking (never), caffeine and alcohol (in moderation). But, equally, a lot of it is habit. Because skin is attached to the muscle in the face the habits of a lifetime get etched on to a face. So I also do some facial exercises that I designed about 20 years ago and they help in the same way that exercises improve tummy muscles.

But one thing is for certain – I would never go under the knife. No, I’ve had enough of surgery; I prefer to do things naturally. When I was 29 I had a problem with my thyroid gland and had to have a thyroidectomy and, at 48, I had a double mastectomy for breast cancer.

In the late Eighties I was a guinea pig for HRT, but I took it for only two months because the routine health checks showed that I had breast cancer and I was advised to stop immediately. For a long time I took red clover a natural alternative to HRT, which alleviated flushes and other symptoms. Other than that I don’t regularly pop pills because I prefer to get vitamins from my diet. I think my diet is healthy. It’s as varied and as fresh as I can get it. Not much red meat – I prefer fish, plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, bio-yoghurts and fresh pasta — and dark chocolate which is my weakness (along with Champagne).
However if my diet’s been a bit iffy, or I haven’t seen any sun (vit D) for a while I take a vitamin D and calcium supplement. Sometimes I take glucosamine to ease my joints. Otherwise I try to avoid taking medication. If I have backache I go to my osteopath first but if all else fails to the GP for pills to relieve inflammation and ease the pain. If I’m feeling stressed, I have a Swedish massage, aromatherapy or reflexology — it’s very therapeutic.

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty because I don’t regularly go to a gym. But to be honest I don’t have a lot of spare time and mostly stay fit from my lifestyle, which is very active. I do some exercises at home then cycle, garden and walk everywhere; that’s my workout. Let’s forget the word “exercise” it puts most people off, nowadays I prefer to speak of “activity” which I hope might encourage even the couch potatoes!
Doing something you like is the trick, such as dancing, gardening, taking long (and preferably brisk) walks, or even decorating. Whatever the activity, it’s important to maintain the three “S”s stamina, suppleness and strength in a pleasurable way and preferably with someone else!

I don’t actually mind getting older because I faced up to mortality when I was 48, so I regard this as bonus time. My house and affairs are in order, so if it all ends tonight I’m not worried. I do a lot of charity work for older people and until recently they were becoming invisible and it was depressing. But in the past three years there has been a huge awakening and I think older people are starting to be appreciated again for their knowledge and experience of life. It’s about time. Ageism has been an ugly fact of life in the UK over the past 10 years or so.

I exercise my soul and go to church when I can; it means a lot to me. I was brought up a strict Methodist. I was in my teens when my mother died. I came home one lunch time and found her; she’d had a cerebral hemorrhage. At that time my local church gave me a tremendous amount of support. But, when I was 18, I got engaged to my first husband and decided to be confirmed into the Church of England. Why? Because he was a wine importer and owned pubs, I felt it would be hypocritical to remain a staunch Methodist.
I take comfort from my faith but also found comfort from counseling from the Cancer Counselling Trust some 13 years after I had breast cancer. At the time I was diagnosed and when I received treatment (a bi-lateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction) I must have been in denial. I felt somehow ashamed to have the disease and kept it a secret, even from people close to me. Then nine years ago a relationship ended abruptly and there seemed to be a similarity with my other relationships. I stopped and thought: what does all this mean? Until then I had blamed myself; this was the first time I recognised that all sorts of bad things were still going on because of cancer. It was a lot to do with body image. Counselling helped me to sort myself out.

But I wouldn’t change anything in my life now I’ve come to accept myself – warts and all! But when I was a young girl I used to dream that I would earn some money and have two or three inches taken off my legs. In my early teens I was so tall. My father used to call me the freak because I was this great long lanky thing. But I’ve grown to quite like my long legs. And these days, at 5ft 10in (1.78m), I’m almost average.

Now talking of height the one real fear I have is of heights. Even going down an escalator I’m hanging on for dear life. But it doesn’t stop me taking my grandchildren on rides at Alton Towers, and wondering what the hell I’m doing there.

Look After Your Face

For years during my 20’s and 30’s I worked as a Fashion and Photographic model which took me all around the world before I finally settled into Radio and Television presentation. Throughout this time I religiously looked after my sensitive skin and was delighted to be chosen by Oil of Ulay in 1980 to appear in their TV ads. I was 40 years old.

Can you imagine how I felt 16 years later at the ripe old age of 56 when I was selected to be the Worldwide “face” who would launch Oil of Ulay’s new range of moisurisers designed for MATURE skin! It was refreshing to discover a product specifically designed for mature skin (Pro-Vital) and a company bold enough to use a “real live fifty something woman” to promote it! Surveys have shown that the majority of mature women do prefer to see a woman of their own age featured in advertising.

The young think we mature women are “past it” over 50. I refuse to be written off and I know I speak for most of us here when I say that I’m enjoying life, I feel confident, experienced, energetic and happy with my life and my appearance. I’m proud of my laughter lines and don’t want to erase them. They show I have a sense of humour!

But I do think it’s wrong that the media and cosmetic companies put pressure on women to try to look 20 years younger. Looking good is about making the most of what you’ve got and feeling comfortable with youself. I don’t think it’s concited to look after my appearance, it helps give confidence – if you look good – you feel great! Some people look after their cars better than themselves. I love this saying -“We can’t beat Old Father Time no – but some women drive a mighty close bargain with him.”

Feeling good is about having a positive attitude to life. One should never look back and dwell on failures or regrets, you must look forward with an open mind.
It’s never too late to change your lifestyle – and you’re never too old to get into the habit helping yourself by taking more exercise, eating healthily and keeping an open mind. And we must continue to listen and learn. In youth we learn but in age we understand – hopefully!

Skin ageing has very little to do with cronological age and far more to do with our skin type and how we look after it. According to skincare experts, with proper care it is possible to look 20 years younger than your real age. The first stage on this quest is to recognise the factors that cause us to look older.

“Everyone is susceptible to intrinsic, chronological skin ageing as part of the process of growing older. However not everyone needs to experience the damaging effects of photo-ageing caused by exposure to the sun” says Prof Christopher Griffiths, Prof of Dermatology at the University of Manchester. These damaging effects include coarse wrinkles, age spots, a leathery texture and small broken blood vessels. According to skincare expert Jan Marini, if we avoided the sun and took full advantage of the skincare science available to us, no one would need to look older than 25. The sun can also kill off skin cells and pose health threats. Cell damage occurs even before the signs of sunburn appear. The redness indicates deep-skin burning, which usually results in peeling, as the skin’s healing response. Daily use of at least SPF15 on exposed areas is recommended, but anything higher than an SPF30 is considered unnecessary. The extra protection it affords is minimal and the additional chemicals can irritate the skin.

A healthy lifestyle is reflected in our skin and to a large extent our skin will look after itself if we look after our health. Scientific testing has shown that smoking, high sugar intake, excessive iron supplements, over vigorous exercise, stress and poor sleep, as well as sun exposure, all increase the free-radical production that contributes to the ageing process. The human face is the only part of the body where the muscles are attached directly to the skin – as opposed to the bones – making it a unique vehicle for expressing emotion. It is not the eyes but the flicker of an eyelid or the tightening of the lips that betray the way we feel. Every emotion we experience shows in our face and over the years becomes etched in our skin to contribute to the way we look.

Keeping happy and protecting a sense of well-being will go a long way towards delaying the ageing process, as positive emotions use fewer facial muscles than negative ones (it takes fewer muscles to smile than frown).

The better we look, the better we feel – and vice versa. Studies suggest that those who keep themselves looking young tend to feel healthy and energetic. Doctors have long since recognised that losing interest in the way we look is an early sign of illness or depression, while one of the first signs of a person being on the road to recovery is a renewed interest in their appearance.

This is the term given to the 10% of skin ageing that lies primarily in the luck of the genetic draw, manifesting itself in a lack of firmness. Almost as soon as our bones stop growing they begin to shrink, and the excess skin becomes subject to the forces of gravity (especially once it has thinned with age). This process accelerates in our 50s and 60s and contributes to the elongation of parts of the face – most noticeably the nose, eyelids and jowls ( in smokers, this is even more pronounced, as cheeks are further hollowed by the muscular motion of inhaling). The best way of protecting against this deterioration is by taking exercise to protect the muscles and bones, and to avoid dramatic weight loss or gain.

Preening and pampering

Recent technological advances in skincare mean that to a greater extent than ever good skin can be bought over the counter. As leading US dermatologist Dr Karen Burke says ” We have moved beyond hope in a bottle. There is now science in a bottle” However, many of us are still not taking advantage of this. For instance, good cleansing is essential to skin health – without it the skin takes 25 days to rid itself of make-up.

Clinical ingredients are at last filtering through the premium end of the market and on to the high street, resulting in products known as cosmoceuticals and dermo-pharmaceutics. Most important in this development is the availability of budget moisturisers that contain high SPFs, dermatologists number one skincare recommendation.

Good anti-ageing skincare is now available and thanks to the new European Cosmetics Directive, companies are now prevented from making claims they cannot back up. The listing of ingredients on labels is good news for mass-market products, as they often contain almost identical ingredients to brands that cost three or four times as much. It is also good news for those who suffer from skin allergies. They now know what the product contains and if they are allergic to any of the ingredients.

Your eyes and the skin around them quickly show up tiredness. Not enough sleep, stress and alcohol can make the circulation and lymphatic drainage sluggish around the yes leaving them puffy. Smoky air can leave eyes red and itchy.
A couple of slices of cucumber or cold tea bags can help to reduce puffiness and redness, but your best bets are soothing eye gels, masks or compresses.

Your skin is the first thing to suffer when you are feeling tired and under the weather, or have had a heavy night out. If your complexion is looking sallow and dehydrated, exfoliation is the best thing to restore tone fast. Use a scrub with tiny, gentle scruffing grains to boost circulation and leave the skin with a healthy glow. You apply it, let it sit on the skin for a few minutes, then rub gently. Finally rinse off with cold water. If you have time after exfoliating, apply a mask that will moisturise, brighten and firm your skin

Moisturising is essential for middle aged skin to retain its suppleness and healthy glow and to replace the nautural oils that dry up as part of the ageing process. But from recent reseach it appears that we are increasingly relying on cheap moisturising lotions and creams because they appear to be just as effective as expensive big-name brands.

Regular use of make-up is thought to accelerate facial ageing and the best complexions on middle aged women are those who have used little make-up.

Studies in America have shown that thousands of women in their 50s and 60s aged their skin prematurely by using “cold cream” to remove their make up. The high concentration of mineral oil in the creams clogged the pores and contributed to wrinkling.

Like it or loathe it make-up is a godsend when it comes to hiding signs of fatigue. Beauty scientists have been able to design cosmetics specifically for weary skin
by putting light reflecting pigments into foundations, blushers and eye shadows, a trick which brightens the face and puts lines and blemishes into soft focus.
A natural blusher worn high on the cheekbones will give a much needed glow.
The right colour eye shadow and lipstick also does wonders for a worn out face. Silvery-grey and pink eye shadows work well on your eyelids.
If you find lipsticks change colour apply a special barrier lipstick before applying colour to form a layer of protection from both the allergy to the colour and the drying effects of sun and wind.
A white eyeliner pencil is indispensable. Run it along the lower rims of your eyelids.
Apply mascara to the top of lashes first and then brush up from underneath to give extra umph!
Always protect your skin with creams and gels containing SPF (Sun protection factor.)