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Body Issues and Concerns:
Do you worry about your weight and diets?

Is real beauty on the outside or the inside?


This is a question that has occupied everyone since the dawn of time. Most people will immediately say 'inside'. Very true, as all facets of the person should be taken into account. However, how do you get to appreciate what is inside that person, the real personality, if you don't really like what's outside? :o(

Men, in particular, tend to go for looks first. Do they miss the right partners because of that, or is it impossible to see anything other than what is presented externally until we know that person very well?

I need to lose weight fast, should I go on a diet?


Oh, no! whatever you do, please don't diet! That's a false sense of losing weight which is merely temporary and has no long-lasting effect. It plays on our desire to lose weight 'fast', yet that is not really possible in a healthy or realistic manner. Weight takes a while to come on to our bodies and it does take a while to get off, if we have the patience. The best weight loss goes off slowly, no more than one or two pounds per week, to allow the body to adjust.

There is a very simple way to lose weight and it has just four things:

1. Eat often, and small amounts (at least 5 times each day)

2. Cut out fats and sweets

3. Eat lots of salads and fruits

4. Exercise, dance, or simply go for regular walks, of up to 2 miles a day

By eating as often, but as little as possible, your metabolic rate rises as the stomach is working much harder over the day, instead of one bloated big meal and then nothing much to follow. The body also relaxes more because it hasn't got to wonder when the next meal is.

You are guaranteed to lose at least one pound per week like that and, better still, your body becomes acclimatised to it, so the weight stays OFF.

Explaining what happens in the simplest terms, when you diet and starve yourself of food:

1. Your body suddenly goes out of synch and becomes anxious.

2. It then says to itself: "I don't know when the next meal will be so I have to protect you from any problems" and goes into survival mode by STORING whatever fat you have.

3. You then lose mainly water and lean meat from your body.

4. The minute you begin to eat again, it releases the fat, on top of what you are now eating, which is why you WILL put on even more weight when you resume your natural eating regime.

I used to go on a lot of diets 20 years ago in the mistaken belief that I would lose weight and I went from 125 lbs to 140 lbs over a few years. Once I stopped dieting, started to eat sensibly, upped my exercise and walking regime, I have stayed at the same weight, or have lost some, for the past 10 years. I no longer put on weight. And, better still, I couldn't be healthier because I don't waste my days thinking about food and yearning for it. I just eat when I like which gives me a great disposition.

A diet might 'lose' you weight quickly but, as night follows day, you'll be heavier when you start eating again, which is why many people just keep putting on more weight no matter how much they take off.

Five fat-burning foods that lose you weight faster!


Though we tend to put on weight rapidly, infuriatingly, it takes its own time to shift which can be very demoralising sometimes! However, we can hasten the weight loss process by eating certain foods that speed up the rate at which our bodies burn those calories.

In broad categories, two types of foods lose us weight quickest. The ones regarded as ‘negative calories’ which require a lot of energy for the body to process and absorb them fully. In effect, they use up more calories in the eating and digesting than they actually add to the body. They include many vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower) and fruits (like melon, lemon, oranges and strawberries).

Next are protein-rich foods which tend to be high in proteins and less in fats (low fat dairy foods, milk, eggs, lean meat and fish). The more you can balance these foods against the sugary, fat ones, is the more your body will burn calories. Danish researchers have found that men who substituted protein for one fifth (20%) of their daily carbohydrate intake “increased the number of calories they burn by up to 5%”. 

Not surprisingly, the five choices included here have come from the high protein foods.

1. Chicken
This comes under the lean-meat category. Overall, every type of lean meat helps to burn more fat and speed up the metabolic rate of absorbing these foods because they require far more energy to complete the digestive process. For  every 52g of chicken, there are 16g of protein, only 1.9g of fat and 86 calories added to the body. It means one can have sizeable portions without worrying too much about the effects. Chicken also comes in handy for those who do not like red meat and wish to keep their meal light and healthy. In fact, studies have shown that people who follow a “high meat/high-protein diet burn twice as many calories AFTER a meal than than those who follow a high-carbohydrate diet”.

2. Fish
Anything in the fish line that carries high protein should be a must for the diet, like salmon, tuna and sardines. Salmon and tuna, in particular, are supposed to be very good for your body system because they give “your immune system a nice boost” and should be eaten at least three times weekly. Better still they contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which are supposed to be very healthy for you. Most important, each 85g portion of salmon contains a massive 21.6 g of protein and only 7g of fat, which makes it slightly higher in calories - 155 - for each portion. 

3. Eggs

Just having one whole egg at least three times weekly can pack a lot of nutritious protein in your diet. In fact, egg whites contain the purest form of protein found in foods. Eggs are supposed to be great for the eyes (researchers found that people who eat eggs every day “lowered their risk of getting cataracts”), they contain natural vitamins of all kinds and gets rid of unwanted stomach-fat.

They promote healthy hair and nails because of their sulphur content and the array of minerals they carry too, not to mention calcium which is extremely good for strengthening bones and teeth. Each whole egg has at least 6.3g of protein, with 78 calories, and only 5g of fat. There has been some fear around eggs raising cholesterol levels but studies have shown that “dietary cholesterol has a minimal impact on blood cholesterol. Dietary fat is the real culprit.” It’s what raises bad cholesterol levels.

4. Dairy foods - Milk

Any kind of dairy food is high in protein, especially low fat/skimmed milk, which should be consumed every day. Milk is particularly good because it contains calcium that acts as a ‘metabolic trigger’ to boost your absorption process. People on high calcium intake daily “lost twice as much weight” as those who took less in their system. Most important, milk helps your insulin levels to remain low, thus lowering the risk of diabetes and obesity. Wherever there is high insulin levels in the body that is where one will find greater fat cells. Each 100g of milk contain 5g of protein, and 45 calories.

5. Green Tea

We all like drinking some kind of beverage throughout the day. Green tea is extremely good as a daily drink because not only is it high in protein but it has many other benefits too. In 1999, researchers at the University of Geneva found that “men who were given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo”.

The secret of green tea’s usefulness is that it is rich in the powerful EGCG antioxidants which protect our body cells from harm, warding off certain ailments, like cancer and the formation of blood clots. It also lowers the level of cholesterol. Green tea can even help to prevent tooth decay because it kills the bacteria that causes the build up of plaque. In short, green tea has all the active ingredients to help you burn fat and stay healthy.

If these five foods can be incorporated easily into a daily diet, over breakfast, lunch and dinner, they should help in beating the bulge, and in a much more rapid way than other foods would.


Could you be deficient in Vitamin D? Find out now?


Vitamin D is very important for our bodies and we get it from natural sunlight. Yet too much exposure to sunlight can be harmful to your body so you have to be extra careful in making sure that you get a sufficient amount by taking supplements.

The latest research has found that most people are deficient in Vitamin D without even realising it. There is also a strong link between breast cancer and a lack of Vitamin D because, of 166 women with cancer tested in a survey, “about 70% had very low levels of the vitamin in their blood”. Yet Vitamin D deficiency can be very subtle in its effects, not easily spotted if you don’t know what to look for. Overall, it seems that people who avoid the sun, who don’t get enough sunlight or who are vegetarians are most at risk.

Vitamin D deficiency can be very harmful, sometimes causing cognitive impairment in adults, making them forgetful or a mild form of dementia, it can cause cancer or even death through cardiovascular disease. However, those are the extremes. Long before that there are certain obvious signs that can be detected with careful self monitoring on a regular basis.

How do you know if you lack Vitamin D in your body? The following six main signs or symptoms would point to its absence.

1. If you have limiting exposure to sunlight

If you tend to be at home a lot, you’re in an occupation that deprives you of sunlight, or you do mainly night shifts, you would be at risk. Additionally, if your clothes normally covers your whole body, like people in Islamic cultures, that would keep your skin from attracting an adequate dose of daily sunlight for your needs and would make you prone to a deficit. If you also have darker skin, like African Americans, that also would put you at risk because the melanin pigment in your skin reduces the skin’s ability to make Vitamin D. Older dark skinned people, in particular, are particularly prone to this.

2. Having bone pain or muscle weakness (rickets)
Strong bones come from taking Vitamin D because they use the calcium from your diet to build themselves. Where there isn’t enough calcium, your bone tissue does not harden sufficiently (calcify) which leads to weak bones and skeletal deformities like bowed limbs and knock knees. If you have bone pain, you have difficulty in mobility, you have chronic fatigue and your muscles don’t feel strong enough, that’s the surest sign.

3. You are overweight

People who are obese, or with excess weight, are at risk from Vitamin D deficiency because the fat cells actually extract the vitamin from the blood instead of leaving it there to do its work. If you have a body mass index of more than 30 you would be more prone to this happening because you would have too many fat cells to rob you of this essential vitamin.

4. If your diet does not carry the sources of Vitamin D

If you are a strict vegetarian and do not normally eat some foods like fish, cheese, cod liver oil or egg yolks, you would be excluding a good amount of Vitamin D from your diet. You would need to be careful that you are getting it from somewhere else.

5. Your digestive tract has difficulty absorbing Vitamin D
Some diseases, like cystic fibrosis or Crohn’s, exacerbate the natural work of the intestines and prevent them from absorbing the vitamin. You would need to regularly check if you are not being affected, should you have any of these ailments.

6. Your age
As a rule, the older you are the more Vitamin D you will need for your body for healthy bones and muscle. It would be advisable to increase your supplements gradually as you age.

To stave off any deficiency you would need to take an adequate does of Vitamin D each day. For children and men and women up to the age of 50, the recommended daily intake is supposed to be 5 micrograms (mcg) or 200 international units (IU). For those between ages of 51 and 70 it is 10 mcg (400 IU) ; and 15 mcg (600 IU) for everyone after the age of 70.

A good supplement would be either Nature Made Vitamin D 1000 IU or Vitamin Shoppe Vitamin D 2000 IU, depending on your needs. Both are reasonably priced and easily available.


How can a teenager lose 10 or 20 pounds in the next four weeks?


That's a tall order you are asking of yourself which wouldn't be good for you anyway. Anything more than 2 lbs lost each week quickly comes back on as soon as you get off the diet, which defeats what you are trying to do.

Nevertheless, it is a month between now and then, so you should be able to lose up to 10 lbs more easily on the following steps:

1. Drink between 5 and 8 glasses of water across each day to keep your body hydrated.

2. Have three main SMALL meals plus two small snacks (5 times daily and no more). A snack could be a fruit, couple of biscuits or anything very low in calories in between the meals. It's the regularity and frequency of your eating that influences your metabolic rate.

3. Eat your biggest meal at breakfast, a good lunch and a very light dinner (salads etc) and don't eat after 7 pm. That gives your body time to digest it before you go to bed.

4. Do some easy exercises (especially brisk walking and/or aerobics) at least 5 times each week lasting at least 20 minutes each time - and walking your dog briskly would definitely help.

5. THINK slim daily. Imagine yourself at the weight you want by July and keep that image at the forefront of your mind as you go through each day.

The main thing is that if you dramatically reduce your intake of sweets and fatty foods, eat regularly to avoid food cravings and drink a lot, you should definitely lose weight over the month and also develop a healthy regime to keep losing or maintaining it.

Because of my diabetes I am on a similar diet every day of my life which I follow very loosely, and when I am in the mood. Sometimes I stay static in weight, sometimes I lose it, but the interesting thing is that I no longer put on weight as I used to do! My weight has stabilised to a trim size for the past 10 years.

The main thing to remember is that it is not easy, and will need lots of determination, especially at the beginning when nothing seems to be happening (because weight is slow to shift), in order to get the results.

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Sleeping is such a waste of time. I hate sleeping. Do you?


Q. People sleep for more than 20 years (one third) of their life time. Such a terrible waste of time when life is short. I would like to enjoy every second of my life, staying awake and knowing things gives me pleasure. Sleeping gives me a guilty consciousness of losing out something. There were sages and yogis who slept for only 2 hours a day. Why can't we be awake all the time?

A. How can sleep be a 'terrible waste of time' if it is a natural thing to do and the body needs it? Would you believe it that the most important part of your life is sleeping, meditating, or periods of calm and quiet! This is because sleeping serves a crucial function for us: It keeps us alive!!

Our body is like a finely tuned machine which needs to repair itself at some point during each day. The only time it can do that is when we are not using it for anything, i:e when we are asleep and our autonomic system takes over. That is why medical experts recommend at least 7-8 hours sleep each day and why we also feel refreshed when we have had a good sleep. It means we have recovered and are ready to start a new day.

Worse still, medical research has found that older people who get less that 6 hours sleep each day are prone to die earlier than others. It seems that regardless of what is happening to other species on earth, we are programmed to sleep. Yogis who might sleep for just two hours each day are also meditating for long periods which serves the same function. Hence why they can do it without much ill effects.

There is nothing 'short' about our lives because 75 years (average in the UK) is a long time. It is our mindset and perspective that makes life seem either short or long. We have as much time as we need, on average. It's what we actually do with that time, and how we spend it, that makes it seem inadequate. If you did not sleep continuously, you would be dead within a few months as you would not be able to cope. You would be too tired and drained and your immune system would begin to collapse. You would feel stressed and then become prone to illnesses. So losing too much sleep would then rob you of the very life you seek!

Sleeping is not a waste of time at all. In fact, by sleeping as much as you can, you are actually lengthening your life even more and sharpening up your resources for a better quality of life too!!

The link between poor sleep and diabetes


Sleep is essential to the healthy functioning of our bodies. No one knows exactly what it’s main purpose is but it is certainly involved in general body repair and restoration. After a hard day’s activity, sleep seems crucial for rejuvenating our bodies for the next day. Without adequate amounts of sleep, we tend to feel irritable, tired and listless. Thus sleep is very good for our health, especially if we can manage eight hours, on average.

In fact, what many people do not often realise is that a lack of sleep—especially on a regular basis—is associated with long-term health consequences, not just diabetes, especially high blood pressure, and heart disease. These conditions, in turn, may lead to a shortened life expectancy.

Scientists have recently discovered that people who sleep less than six hours each night appear to have a higher risk of developing’ impaired fasting glucose’ — a condition that can precede type 2 diabetes (when the body makes in too much insulin but isn’t able to use it efficiently, thus becoming insulin resistant). Population studies have shown that diabetes rates rise as sleep declines. While the available data provide compelling reasons to get eight hours of quality sleep every night, they couldn’t explain how diabetes might be influenced by sleep. Yet, tests repeatedly proved that people who slept less than six hours, on average were more prone to having type 2 diabetes.

So how are the two factors connected?

Human bodies have a clock, an internal rhythm that dictates when we fall asleep and when we get up. They are the ‘molecular timekeepers, made and degraded every 24 hours’, that set this daily cycle. When any part of this ticking clock is faulty, sleep schedules gradually change. Not only that, it seems our bodily rhythms, including the clock that sets human sleep cycles, is ‘squarely in the blood sugar business’. Sleep-deprived subjects, seem to crave starchy, sweet foods, they exhibit insulin resistance and do not regulate their blood sugar well. These tend to lead to obesity which also predisposes diabetes in a vicious circle.

Investigations by three international teams of researchers have suggested that rising diabetes and falling sleep are linked by a protein that senses the ‘sleep-inducing hormone melatonin’. Melatonin, the regulator of the body’s sleep clock, is closely linked to increased glucose levels and diabetes. Best known for its sleep-inducing properties, melatonin levels in the body are tied to daylight: when the lights go down, melatonin levels rise and drowsiness soon follows. When daylight occurs, the level drops and we no longer feel sleepy.

The scientific experiments also revealed how the melatonin directly interact with insulin-producing cells. The melatonin ‘receptor’ was thought to be expressed in the brain — where the body’s master clock resides. When scientists added melatonin to human beta-cells in the lab, insulin production went down. It seems that the presence of the melatonin ‘receptor’ on the insulin-secreting cells makes it more likely that it is directly controlling the output of insulin. The connection between the melatonin and insulin makes perfect sense, because in the middle of the night, when melatonin levels are high, the need for insulin should be much lower.

Though the researchers are not yet sure how melatonin levels are different in sleep-deprived people, compared to those with good levels of sleep, another study in 2008 found that people who get less than five hours of sleep a night were significantly more likely to have type 2 diabetes. “Healthy young adults who were prevented from entering deep sleep for just three nights couldn’t properly regulate blood sugar levels.” What was even more surprising, “the subjects became more resistant to insulin during the study, eventually reaching the levels of insulin sensitivity that resemble the insulin resistance of diabetic people.”

Other studies have also confirmed that people who slept for five hours or less on average are more likely to become overweight or obese than those who got more sleep because the less sleep one gets is the more one tends to eat foods that are higher in carbohydrates and sugar - which means consuming even more calories!


Should I let my 'girls' (breasts) run free?


Q. I would say that my "girls" are of average size. Not huge, not tiny. I can't typically run around town without a bra, but every so often, if I have on the right style and color shirt, I can get away with it and people don't notice. And, if I had my way, let me tell you, the girls would be free all the time. Ladies, what about you? Can you get away with going braless every so often or all the time? Is it a size thing or just a comfort thing if you do? Men, do you like the "free" look on women or do you prefer the supported look?

A. I have great boobs so I don't always wear a bra. But even if I didn't, it is about self love, not letting the expectations of others dictate how I feel about myself. No woman was born into a bra. Like every other item of clothing, it is up to us to select what we want to wear and when. As a rule, I don't wear a bra at home. However, I tend to wear one when I go out. It means I have the best of both worlds: pleasing myself and being 'decent' for others who might see me. However, there have been occasions when I have also been bra-less outside too, especially in the summer. So it all depends on my mood, I guess.

My rule of thumb is that I dress to please me, not anyone else, because then I will be most comfortable. After all, I don't tell men what to wear. Why should they tell me how to dress? In fact, I was talking to a guy the other day whom I hadn't met. The conversation was going well until he asked me if I wore stilletto heels!

Now, I draw the line firmly at being a man's fantasy because they are not really appreciating me as a person, just a fantasy in their head. I sweetly told him that if he liked stilletto heels that much he should go out and buy them for himself and wear them to see what they feel like. And promptly put the phone down. I do wear high heels when I am ready, but if all he wanted were a pair of legs attached to a body, he could find them elsewhere!

Be comfortable whatever you wish to do, whether with a bra or not. That's the best way to be and those who really like you will appreciate you for it. So just be free when you want, it is your life! :o)

My pregnancy test was negative, and I'm relieved, but disappointed.
Why is this?


Q. I cannot afford to get pregnant -- I am still studying, my parents would be so angry. If I couldn't have an abortion, I would be a single mom, because the guy was just a FWB, and he doesn't care. A small part of me looked forward to getting a positive test and telling him that it was positive (to teach him a lesson and kind of get back at him for my feelings hurt), and that same part of me looked forward to dropping the bomb on my psychologist that I was pregnant. So I had mixed feelings when I bought the pregnancy test. When the test came up negative, I heaved a sigh of relief, but also sat there staring at it, just feeling disappointed. How could I WANT to fall pregnant deep down inside? (That's insane...)

A. There is nothing 'insane' about wanting to fall pregnant. As a woman, that's the most natural thing in the world, to have a child. That's the only way our species can survive! So most women have that natural instinct to reproduce. 

You are having mixed emotions perhaps because, on the one hand, you are emotionally ready to have a child, and perhaps long for one, but recognise that the circumstances, both physical and financial, are perhaps not ideal to conceive. You lack the confidence to make the right decision for yourself at this time. You don't mention your age, but the fact that you are studying, and your parents would object, could also be part of the reason why the time doesn't seem right for you.

You also seem to have some resentment issues. One does NOT have a baby to see reactions, to drop bombshells or as revenge on anyone. Those are the worst reasons to conceive, and they show your immaturity, especially when you also mention abortion in the same breath! A child is a human being with the potential of a great life ahead, not a toy or pawn to be used to get back at others. You are the only person who would suffer, and that poor baby too, in such circumstances.

There is never a perfect time to have a child. Things will always be both good and bad at any time. But it sounds as though you are at a crossroads in your life and not sure what to do, OR you perhaps long for a baby for the wrong reasons (like wanting someone to love who would love you back unconditionally and would help you to feel adult and independent, or as revenge on the guy you mentioned). Hence your mixed feelings.

If you feel disappointed that the test is negative, perhaps you need to face up to the emotional pull you have for a child and why it would matter to you to have one, especially at this time when you are studying. Something is obviously missing from your life right now, emotionally, and perhaps that would need to be addressed first before you think of having a baby. No baby would resolve how you are feeling inside of you, especially if you yourself feel neglected and undervalued. Understanding yourself first would help you to understand your disappointment and your relief.

Perhaps this quiz might help you sort your thoughts out.


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