High energy

You may feel like you can’t summon up the energy to get up and go, you feel tired and lethargic all the time, or you don’t feel like you can face the world. If so, this revitalising plan is for you. In as few as three days, you can reinvigorate your body, improve your energy levels and bring back that enthusiasm that seemed lost.

The energy process

Energy is created in the body from food. When we eat, our bodies break down ingested food into glucose, which is the main sugar that we use for fuel. It can do this from any food: cakes, rare steaks, spinach. Healthy or unhealthy, the body can use food as energy. However, its favourite sources are carbohydrate foods like fruit, vegetables, bread pastas and rice, because these foods can be broken down, it is combined with oxygen. This ‘burns’ the sugar and turns it into a unit of energy called adenosine triphosphate, which the cells then use store and use when they need it.
In a healthy, fatigue-free body, this process works without any problems and, as a result, we spend each day fully functioning and raring to go. Sometimes this energy process breaks down, however, and this is when we start to feel tired.

What goes wrong?

Many things can interfere with the energy process, but these are the four main problems:
1. You don’t have enough nutrients to trigger energy conversion.
2. You don’t have enough blood-sugar to produce energy quickly and cleanly.
3. You don’t have enough oxygen in the system.
4. You don’t have enough mitochondria – the constituents of cells that turn glucose into fuel

The solution – high energy plan

By following the energising plan you will boost your body and feel reinvigorated. Although it is given here as a daily plan, you should follow the plan for at least three days. Doing this will double up your energy levels in a long weekend, however one week is the optimum time to follow the programme

7:20 am
If you do not enjoy waking up early, try using a daylight alarm. This will at least wake your body up more gently. The level of light is slowly raised in the room, waking you up slowly and calmly.

07:30 am
Take Supplements one multivitamin supplement (Earthsource Wholefood multiple formula), one probiotic supplement (Advanced acidophilus) and one capsule of fish oil (Fish Oil Concentrate) (or if your vegetarian one evening primrose oil) with a large glass of water. This is the first of eight glasses of water you will drink over the entire day – aim roughly for one glass an hour. The supplements will not only provide nutrients but will also aid your digestion, maximising what you can absorb from food. Leave half an hour between these and eating.

07:40 am
Gentle stretching can be done outside or at least facing a window, which adds to your energy banks because sunlight stops production of the sleep- inducing hormone melatonin

07:50 am
Body-Brush Using a natural-bristled brush with medium-hard bristles, brush each are of your body with long, firm (but not hard) strokes. Always start with the soles of your feet, because stimulating these actually starts the lymph flowing. Brush smoothly 4-5 times, always in the direction of the heart, moving around the whole body part. Do this around your calves, then your thighs and hips. Now do your arms, chest, torso and back. Finally, brush your stomach. Once you’ve finished, shower or at least rinse yourself well. As well as obviously cleaning the skin, the repeated motion of brushing or scrubbing the body causes the speed of the circulation to increase (helping flush toxins out of the system faster), and this is also believed to promote lymph flow.

08:00 am
Get your breakfast B vitamins B Vitamins are vital to the energy levels of your body, and breakfast foods are an excellent source. For best results, choose a bowl of organic wholegrain cereal with oat/rice/soya/dairy milk. Alternatively rye toast or spelt with sugar free fruit jam or honey. Enjoy fruit of your choice with these. If you’re used to having a coffee in the morning skipping it will make you more tired. Try a natural dandelion coffee or another type of natural substitute found in your health food store

10:00 am
‘De-Junk’ your day. Energy is not just sapped physically form our bodies, it is also sapped mentally by stress, worry and feelings of being overwhelmed. Whether you work in an office or are busy at home, clearing out physical and mental clutter should be your first job. Tidy your desk, sort out any bills, or any other necessary paperwork that you really don’t want to do. When this is finished it will feel like a weight has been lifted fro you and your energy will start to soar.

11:20 am
Time for a healthy snack Not only does eating little and often keep the blood-sugar levels in the body stable, but it also boosts energy in other ways. Digesting foods uses energy, and meals that are too large can fatigue the body. Healthy snacks, such as fruit, take the edge off your appetite and stop you overeating at meals.

13:00 pm
Eat a good lunch This meal should boost your oxygen and fluid levels in the body, giving you energy to face the afternoon when energy levels dip. Good oxygen-boosting foods are watercress, spinach, dark cabbage, lettuce and sprouts. Also fill up on fluid-heavy foods like celery, cucumber, fennel, apples, pears, watermelon, grapefruit and grapes. Finally include some asparagus, since this (along with alfalfa) helps neutralise the natural toxin ammonia produced within our body, a common cause of fatigue.
Take one Earthsource wholefood (Solgar) multivitamin and mineral formula to enhance your energy levels and cleansing for the rest of the day.

15:00 pm
Head outside By now, the air in your office, or even at home, is likely to be low in oxygen, boosting your feelings of fatigue. Go for a quick walk, or stretching in fresh air.

18:00 pm
Be active – walk or do some exercise. Toxins have the ability to sap our energy by acting negatively on the mitochondria within the body. If you build up muscle through exercise, you also increase the number of mitochondria. Take 30 mins every other day on this plan to do some kind of aerobic or strength training, and ideally do it between 4 pm and pm.

20:00 pm
Eat your evening meal Overnight the body regenerates and naturally detoxes, so the focus on your evening meal should be to provide an ample supply of detoxifying foods to boost this process. You should combine these with carbohydrates; while these are primarily energy givers, in doses of more than 75g (3 oz) at one time they can calm the body and promote sleep.

Blend yourself a bedtime bath Bathing stimulates the natural cooling process the body uses to trigger sleep hormones. Add some of the essential oil marjoram, which has a sedative effect, but also fortifying to the body, helping create strength for the next day. Add 3 drops of marjoram and 3 drops of calming mandarin to your bath, lie back and relax.

Go to bed Getting a good night’s sleep is essential as it is how the body repairs and recharges.

Suggested lunch menu
A glass of “high energy juice”!
Put each of the following through the juicer, then mix together and shake well. Drink immediately…..
6 slices of pineapple
1 banana
6 fresh strawberries
1 handful of wheatgrass

PLUS…..choose a 50g (2oz) portion of one (or a mix) of the following:
Salmon, anchovies, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, sunflower seeds, walnuts,or cashews. These protein foods create a slowly burned form of energy and provide high levels of essential fatty acids.

ADD…. protein to one of the following energising vegetable bases, using as much of each vegetables as you like.
• Fluid fuel:
Cucumber, lettuce, celery, chopped apple and a few slices of pear.
• Quick cleanse:
Asparagus, cherry tomatoes and yellow peppers on a bed of alfalfa.
• Steamed and simple:
Steamed cabbage, carrot, mushrooms, asparagus and mangetout.
• Sunshine salad:
Watercress, carrot, beetroot and pink grapefruit.

Suggested evening meal menu
• A cup of fresh vegetable soup
• A 75g (3 oz) serving of one of the following to your chosen vegetable base: brown rice, jacket potato, new potatoes, spelt/brown rice or wholegrain pasta. Sweet potato, quinoa, rye or pumpernickel bread.

PLUS…..one of these four vegetable bases, each using as much of each vegetable as you like.
• Detox salad:
watercress, celery, cucumber, cherry tomato, and artichoke hearts.
• Cleansing coleslaw:
white cabbage, onion, grated carrot, sliced beetroot.
• Roast energy:
grilled or oven-baked slices of red or yellow pepper, aubergine, onion and mushrooms.
• Steamed and simple:
steamed carrot, mangetout, cauliflower, spinach and asparagus.

My Debut On Bbc Tv’s Breakfast Time

Memories on the 25th Anniversary of BBC Breakfast Time – February 2007.  The BBC had pinched me from HTV where I was doing a programme called Here Today. They saw me wearing my green leotard and tights and doing a piece on exercise, which was the first time it had been done on TV.

Before that, I used to do keep-fit in scarlet leotard and tights at Butlins holiday camps in both Minehead and Barry Island. Then someone on BBC Breakfast Time had the bright idea of sending me to Waterloo Station on the first day of transmission to work out with the commuters.

It was 6.30 am, freezing cold and all I wore was the shiny green outfit and I had bare feet.  I think the early morning commuting public must have thought I was barking mad!

How I Discovered I had Breast Cancer

As part of the original team of BBC Breakfast Time, from 1983 – 1987, I was a symbol of health and fitness for the nation in my campaign “Get Britain Fit” wearing my trademark shiny green leotard and tights!  It came as a complete surprise to me that I had breast cancer.  I was feeling as fit as a fiddle at the time and there was no indication that anything was wrong.  I was 47 when I was diagnosed and was at the peak of my fitness.

I was menopausal at the time and went to the menopause clinic to see if I would be a suitable candidate to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  As part of a series of medical checks they carried out a mammogram.  Later that week they called me back and suggested I went to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.  When I got in to see the consultant the mammograms were up there and I said to him “you’re going to tell me I’ve got breast cancer aren’t you!”  And he simply replied “yes you have”.  He told me it was in its early stages and that the cancer was in situ, which means it was contained in both the breasts.

My reaction was one of utter disbelief, and then as the consultant talked it over with me my feelings were of intense fear and then intense anger and I thought “what have I done wrong?”  I knew nothing at all about breast cancer, and back then in 1988 nobody talked about it.  I looked for books about the disease and information, but it was to no avail, there was nothing at all, not like there is today.

My treatment was to have both breasts removed – a bilateral mastectomy – which is sometimes referred to as “the cruellest cut” for a woman.  Although breast cancer patients look and appear fine from the outside, we are all of us somewhat scarred inside.  It is an onslaught to our femininity.  The consultant talked about re-construction but to be honest I hadn’t got a clue what they were talking about.  All I knew was that they had cut the cancer away and because of that I thought there was no further treatment.

I hated the hospital I had gone to for the operation.  I went into the Cromwell Hospital and because I needed to keep my cancer absolutely secret had booked in under my maiden name.  Only my two sons, my former husband and a close friend knew.  I was high profile at the time and I did not want the press to find out.  It’s not what you want when you are ill.

When I came home I found the press had been sniffing around because I had not been on TV.  I was off screen for about 4 months before I came back and did a four minute segment.  Nobody knew my secret nor did they know how I had to steel myself in order to do it!  I hadn’t got my stamina or mobility back and could never have done a 45 minute fitness class.  It took about a year before I could again.

During all this time I kept a detailed diary of what was happening to me because I could not talk openly to anyone about it.   9 months after my cancer the diary was published by Bloomsbury called “A More Difficult Exercise” – which it was!  When members of the family and friends found out they were very angry with me because I hadn’t told them I was ill.

Today I am fighting fit.  Being fit is important and if you are going to be hit by a thunderbolt, like my cancer was, it pays to be fit.   Fitness helps you to get through such difficult times and assists a more speedy recovery.  Until my illness I had assumed I would go on for ever and had not thought about popping my clogs at 47.  However some years later – in fact it was 12 years ago – the time came for me to face all my demons.  I had to go for counselling, I just had to find somebody that I could talk to about all my suppressed anger.  I went to the Cancer Counselling Trust because they offer help to cancer patients – even a long time later – and they can help you, your family and friends.

One of the things that are important to me is that I am still around and I feel that I have been given a second chance in life.  My message to anybody going through the same trauma as I did is to share what you are going through with others.  You must not be left feeling that you are alone, because you are not alone.  This disease affects one woman in nine.   I was wrong to have kept the diagnosis to myself.  Breast Cancer Care run a marvelous support system which can not only provide you with the latest information, but will also put you in touch with other women who have been through just what you are now going through.  Both Breast Cancer Care and the Cancer Counselling Trust have websites and free help lines.

One of the most important things to me is that I am still around and have been given a second chance in life.  It gives me some urgency.  But my sons have presented me with the gift of 4 grandchildren and seeing this continuance of your life makes it all worthwhile.

Summer Beauty Hints

The most damaging factor in ageing skin is over exposure to the sun. It causes age spots, coarse wrinkles, small broken blood vessels and the skin to have a leathery texture. This type of skin ageing can be prevented. Sun can affect the skin cells and causes cell damage, but it also poses health threats including skin cancers. The effects from the sunburn may not be visible for years, but the harmful rays will have done their damage. Always protect your skin with creams and gels containing SPF (sun protection factor) dermatologist’s number one skincare recommendation.

1. Protect your exposed skin, particularly the sensitive facial skin with sunscreen containing no less than SPF 15. Anything higher than SPF 30 is not considered necessary. The extra protection afforded is minimal and additional chemicals can irritate the skin.

2. Regularly moisturise the skin of both your face and body to help retain its suppleness and healthy glow. Moisturisers replace the natural oils that dry up as part of the ageing process.

3. Cleanse your skin both night and morning. Good cleansing is essential to skin health. Without it the skin takes 25 days to rid itself of make-up and daily grime.

4. During the heat of the summer wear a hat and avoid the midday sun. Why not take advantage of skincare science available? Consider using fake tan, which correctly applied can give skin a natural looking, healthy glow.

5. Feed your skin with health giving summer fruits and vegetables full of anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants help fight free radicals (caused by pollutants) which can harm your skin and cause premature ageing.

6. A healthy lifestyle is reflected in your skin – so be positive, keep happy and aim to be more physically active. A sense of well-being goes a long way towards delaying the ageing process.

7. Your eyes quickly show up tiredness. Not enough sleep, stress and alcohol make the circulation and lymphatic drainage sluggish around the eyes, leaving them puffy. A couple of slices of cucumber or cold, damp tea bags placed on closed eyes for 10 minutes will reduce puffiness and redness.

8. If your complexion looks sallow and dehydrated exfoliating will quickly tone and restore it. Use a scrub with tiny, gentle scuffing grains to boost circulation and give your skin a healthy glow.

9. If you intend braving the elements use a special barrier lipstick when you are outdoors to form a layer of protection from the drying effects of sun and wind.

10. Keep waterproof mascara for beach holidays or emotional moments only! Removing non-waterproof mascara is kinder to the sensitive skin around your eyes.

11. If you are a little overweight wear a good fitting, flattering 1 piece swimsuit in a stunning colour to boost your confidence. Buy a sarong to compliment it. You’ll look chic and ready to go…. Leave the bikinis to the very slim or the very young!

Breast Cancer Book – Answers at Your Fingertips

Recently I came across an excellent book “Breast Cancer – Answers at your fingertips”. Oh how I wish this sort of book had been available to me 22 years ago when I travelled my breast cancer journey alone. Sadly this book and all the other such books had yet to be written because cancer was not openly talked about that many years ago. Consequently I experienced my bumpy, sometimes frightening ride without a lot to read to prepare me for the unexpected hazards I encountered around every bend.

Happily times have changed for the better, and today bookshops are full of this type of book which means women, their families and friends, and not forgetting some men now have first class information about the disease and ways to combat it at their fingertips. To find out and arm oneself with information is the best way I know to acquire strength and knowledge which can help dispense fears and equip one to cope with the unknown. Many books are full of sound knowledge, facts about breast cancer and expert advice, and if information is given in a straightforward way it can help create a calm response to diagnosis and a positive approach to recommended treatments. Reading such books can provide answers to questions, while clear explanations, diagrams and illustrations can offer some re-assurance during the trauma of initial diagnosis.

We all experience confusion, anger, distress and fright in varying degrees, from the first signs and symptoms through to the final diagnosis of breast cancer. And irrespective of colour, class, creed or age many women will look for answers to the question “why me”? The most informative of books will have up to date advice on latest research and treatments to help guide women through the breast cancer journey. By explaining how each of us is unique and that all cancers are dissimilar, reading books can dispel unfounded myths, explain the benefits of complimentary therapies and help us understand and come to terms with, diagnosis and recommended treatment.

If you are embarking on your journey, or travelling down the road for a second time my personal tip is to read as much as you can, make a list of your concerns and keep asking your medical team questions. Take notes of advice you are given. If you are unsure of anything or have specific concerns, ask for a more thorough explaination, this will help you avoid unnecessary worry and stress. Or why not contact one of the cancer support organisations whose websites are another excellent source of information? Some hospital breast care units have specially trained cancer counsellors to help advice and support patients, so talk to them. If you are just starting out on the breast cancer journey it is so important that you digest and think through all the information you are given so you can be sure before you make important decisions. You alone must feel confident when you finally give your consent to the medical team to proceed with recommended surgery, treatment and care. Remember it is your body and you should be in control when you give them permission to start down the road.

As you make your traumatic journey you may discover a positive and unexpected benefit from your breast cancer experience. Your view of life will sharpen, and life itself may feel richer and more precious. As a survivor I know, because it happened to me and strange as it may seem my breast cancer experience enriched my life. And now I don’t intend to waste a single day of it!