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by Adele

The inner clock

May 24, 2013 in Health

We pay less and less attention to our natural body rhythms – and our bodies hate us for it!

I felt this deeply and personally after getting on a plane at 5.30 in the morning recently. Every cell in my body screamed “where’s my bed?” Then, closed up in a conference room with no windows on the world for the next day or two, I was running to catch up with which meal I was on, whether it was light outside or not – and mostly, whether it was really nap time or just felt like it.

We ignore our natural rhythms daily. Research shows that our societal tendency to stay up late and get less sleep is physically messing with our body chemistry and may contribute to obesity. Other ailments such as heart attacks and depression have also been shown to be affected by our natural bodily ebb and flow – called circadian rhythms.

But our bodies don’t get fooled forever. I feel it most when I am on holiday: given the opportunity, my body falls into a fairly reliable rhythm of going to bed at around midnight, waking up at around 7 – and supplementing with a gorgeous afternoon nap, preferably in a shady spot under a large tree.

What’s your natural sleep and waking cycle? Do you think we have strayed too far from our natural circadian rhythms?

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by Adele

The unlikely fitness partner

May 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

On a recent visit to my mother, I found myself persuaded to join her yoga class. This is not the first time I have tried yoga, but I am still not convinced that it’s for me. The nature of my personality is such that I find it very hard to be calm and slow. I am also physically rather inflexible and twisting my bits into pretzel shapes is never going to be easy. It was a little disheartening to see just how far away my toes really were when I tried to touch them.

Just the very person who should be doing yoga to improve these flaws, you might say. Probably true, which is why I let my mother take me along to the lemongrass-scented zone of her local yoga studio.

You see, my mother is my best fitness and health buddy. We tell each other every day what we’ve done to stay active, and we wouldn’t dream of missing a day. Even sickness won’t stop us from at least taking a token walk or doing some stretches. It works brilliantly despite the fact that she lives in another city, so we rely on cellphones to keep updated. In real life my walking companion is often my husband, although he’s had to learn to adjust his long stride to my considerably shorter legs. I also get a lot of support from my teenaged sons, who understand how important it is to me to keep up this routine, even though it’s not their idea of proper exercise as there are no soccer, rugby or waterpolo balls involved.

Who are your best supports and companions for keeping fit?

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by Adele

Flying healthy

May 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

I’m going on a plane tomorrow, just a short flight, but I find myself packing as though I am going to be on a deserted island for a week:

* Water bottle in case stuck in airport (don’t want to pay airport prices for water)

* 3 books (don’t have a Kindle, and can’t stand the thought of being caught without something to read)

* Gum to prevent ear popping on landing

* Dried fruit stick – don’t want to pay airport prices for snacks in case of delays

* Warm clothes in case weather is unexpectedly cold on landing

* Hand cream – hands always get dry when flying

* Comfy, yet unsightly hair scrunchie to prevent headrest mangled hair

What do you always pack when you travel?

 

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The feel-good recipe

May 3, 2013 in Health

When things go haywire (and they have done that a bit lately), you can almost always find me in one of two places: in the kitchen, switching on the kettle for tea, or striding along outside along the seafront, trying to blow the stress away.

They are two simple ports of call that really work for me to bring me back, settle me down and allow me to face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (thanks for that one, Shakespeare).

Other simple things that make me feel better are doing the dishes or folding the washing. Conquering those small, manageable bits of chaos make it seem more possible to take on the less controllable aspects of life.

It’s not all moonlight and roses, though. I don’t drink or smoke, but I do sometimes go for comfort foods like freshly-baked bread or pasta – so stressful times go straight to my thighs!

What are your go-to things when life gives you lemons?

(Photo of happy woman from Shutterstock)

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Bye bye to my bra?

April 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

We were uplifted by research released this week, suggesting that bras don’t really do what they are said to, and might even be bad for your bosom in the long run. In a nutshell, a French sports doctor says his research shows that bras weaken our breast muscles, and they will stay perkier if we go braless.

Bras can be pretty and enticing, creating desirable curves even in those of us who were never naturally gifted in the cleavage department. But they can also be uncomfortable, restricting, itchy and downright torturous at times. Which woman hasn’t sighed with relief as she unhooks a bra at the end of a long day?

There’s just one problem. For those of us who have been wearing bras for a few decades already, there may be no going back. Perky is a distant memory, and going braless is usually confined to the privacy of my own home.

I suspect my feelings of attachment to my bra are similar to my grandmother’s belief in the power of her girdle to hold in the saggy bits. I might look back and wonder at the ignorance that made me spend a lifetime wrestling with the demon underwire.

Having seen what I look like in a T-shirt without a bra, I’m not sure the world is ready for all of this. Research or no research, I’m not ready to unhook for good.

Is there a garment you’d like to shed for good?

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by Adele

Immune boosting for families

April 11, 2013 in Health

The office is already thinning out as people start succumbing to those early winter bugs – or have to take time off to care for sick children. When children spend the day at school, it’s impossible to avoid them being exposed to germs, which they then bring home and share with you!

How your child’s body copes with this inevitable exposure to the latest nasty bug that is going around will depend on a number of factors:

  • The right balance of nutrients. Encouraging children to enjoy a wide range of foods (including colourful vegetables and fruit) is an ongoing process. Children need to be exposed to a variety of foods and get used to seeing them on their plates, whether they choose to eat them or not. A good multivitamin, aimed at children, will help fill the gaps, especially if your child is a fussy eater or can’t eat certain foods because of allergies.
  • Personal hygiene. Keeping hands clean is one of the most crucial ways to minimise the impact of playground germ exposure. It should become second nature for your child to wash his or her hands after going to the toilet and before eating.
  • Regular sleep habits. Sticking with more or less the same bedtime and wake-up time is one of the most important habits a child can develop, and it helps keep the immune system strong too.
  • Daily activity. Research has shown that people who exercise get fewer colds, and fight them off more quickly if they do get them.

Oh, and bear in mind, all of these apply just as much to adults. Staving off those bugs is doubly important for parents, as you need to be strong and fit to take care of your kids.

How are things going at your house so far this winter?

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by Adele

How we die

March 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

treesFinding out how to stay healthy is about two main things: having a great quality of life, and living as long as possible. In theory we know we are all going to die eventually, but we’re willing to do a lot to put that moment off.

We’ll avoid drinking too much, we’ll quit smoking, we’ll get up at 6am to go for a run even when it’s cold out and our beds feel warm and comfy. Living a healthy lifestyle makes us feel good, but we also hope it’ll give us a few more years to enjoy the feeling. Life is what we know, death is a mystery. It stays that way, even when we approach it with typically human creativity, as in the case of these 8 weird burial customs.

How we live is a choice, while how we die is often more about the luck of the draw. An accident, a disease, we can never know exactly what the thing is that will eventually part us from the joy we get from everyday things – a breeze on a warm day, or a child’s little arms wrapped around our necks. All I know is, we owe it to ourselves to remember that life is a limited commodity, and we shouldn’t waste it. I suppose the question is: are we living to live, or are we living not to die?

Have you ever thought about the moment of your death? Do you picture your loved ones around you, making a peaceful end? Or does the very idea of death scare you too much to think about it?

(Photo of sunrise in autumn forest from Shutterstock)

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by Adele

Get out of my face!

March 14, 2013 in Health

Recent research showed that cellphone conversations in public are more annoying and distracting than two people talking in person. This comes as no surprise to me. People on cellphones in the street or in a restaurant, tend to talk at high volume: “Look at me! I have someone else to talk to!” It’s not all bad, though. This can be fun sometimes, for example when you’re stuck on the train, it’s like listening to a radio soapie: “I told him, this is the last time, and then he said, yes but it’s my money and then I said…”

I’m usually a tolerant person, and I don’t really mind if you chew gum, or play your radio too loud in your earphones, or even smoke in the designated areas. But what really stretches my patience in a public place is when parents are nasty to their children. Above all, I get annoyed if they try to drag me into it: “Stop that, Freddie, the lady is looking at you! Look, now you’ve made the lady cross. Say sorry to the lady.”

Otherwise, I am pretty laissez faire. Oh, but I wouldn’t mind if you would refrain from spitting. But that’s it. For now.

What do people do in public places that annoys you?

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by Adele

A fitness-friendly world

March 9, 2013 in Fitness

With the Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour upon us, our roads have suddenly sprouted groups of cyclists getting in some last-minute training. As a motorist, I am happy to accommodate them and keep a wide passing distance, but I do pity them sometimes when they are over-shadowed by an over-zealous bus or truck.

I’d love to think of a world which is designed to encourage physical activity. Here are some things that would work for me:

* More cycle paths in all areas, and also a lot more walkways for those of us who prefer feet to wheels.
* Visible policing in all areas so we don’t have to be scared of being mugged when we’re out and about.
* Pavements on all roads so people don’t have to walk in the street to the bus stop or train station.
* Activity-friendly buildings with stairs that are not blocked by a fire door. If I want to take the stairs in my building I will set off an alarm and the entire building will probably evacuate.
* Roof-top parks for inner-city workers to take a stroll or jog in their lunch hours.
* Pedestrian-friendly bridges over busy roads.

What else would help to make our world more activity-friendly? I’d love to hear your opinion.

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by Adele

My own personal tooth fairy

January 31, 2013 in Health

My first encounter with dentistry was not a good one. His name was Dr Shark (well, it should have been). When my mother was in the room he was charming, if a little unctuous, kissing my tiny (probably slightly grubby) hand. But if she stepped out of the room for a minute, he became grumpy and rough.

From this stemmed a rather embarrassing fear of dentists, and a lifelong search for a dentist who would understand. Eventually I found him. A young, rather nice-looking dentist who was very excited by all the gadgets in his surgery. Just my luck, within a year he had emigrated to Europe, leaving me again searching.

Among the failed dental relationships over the years include Dr B, who thought my fear was quite hilarious, and had a habit of talking on his cellphone with one hand while digging around with sharp objects in my mouth at the same time. Then there was Dr P, who always seemed a bit terrified herself, and was only comfortable when demonstrating proper brushing techniques on a set of giant plastic teeth with a giant toothbrush.

Enter my current dentist, the lovely Dr M. She’s experienced and businesslike but not crotchety, and most importantly, she’s gentle. I like the fact that she explains the options in detail, so that I feel I am part of the decision-making process. Does that mean I look forward to visiting the dentist? It does not. But at least I feel that I am in good hands. Now I just hope she doesn’t decide that Australia looks like a wonderful place to move to.

What do you expect from a dentist? Have you had mostly positive experiences?

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