Category Archives: Health/Fitness/Sport

Spotlight On Glamorous Gifts – Football Memorabilia

Football season has started in the UK – soccer for my US friends – and if you are or you have a football fan or two in your life, football memorabilia such as a mug, print, book, is an ideal solution for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries or “Just Because”. Official football merchandiser, Glamorous Gifts, have a fabulous range of gifts from all the teams in all the Leagues … and I’m chatting to David, founder of Glamorous Gifts, about his business and his love of football. Hi David!

Hi, I’m David and I live in Leyland, Lancashire (unfortunately) with my wife and my two sons, aged 11 and 8.

What inspired the founding of your company, Glamorous Gifts?

I was inspired into setting up Glamorous Gifts as I really wanted to run my own business. I also felt that I hadn’t really used my knowledge in computing that I’d gained at university so it was a chance to put those skills to use in building and maintaining a website. It’s also nice to be self-employed, though I do miss a regular salary and I hardly ever get a day off!

Although you sell a variety of gifts, you are also an approved retailer of Official Licenced Football Club memorabilia.  What is currently the most popular type of football memorabilia and/or, dare I ask, the most popular football team?

We do sell a variety of gifts, but our speciality is that we are an approved retailer for Official Licenced Football Club memorabilia.  This means that we are one of only a small number of retailers that have products featuring the official club badges and photos. Our mugs are the most popular product and there are many different designs. But we also see that our framed prints are popular as they make such unique presents for the recipient. We have all the top football clubs, though of course the big names such as Manchester United, Liverpool etc are the most sought after.

I’m a Tottenham Hotspur fan, my husband & youngest sons support Ipswich. What’s your favourite football team?

I’m a Liverpool fan, so I’m used to suffering and pain! It was a difficult slog for the most part of the last 30 years until things got much better last year with several trophies. Sadly, this season has seen a return to a more familiar pattern. 

Can the football products be customised like your other gifts?

All our personalised football products can be customised. Most can have a name added of course, but we also have many products where the recipient’s name and a chosen number appears on the teams’ shirt alongside the other real players in the dressing room or being held up by the teams’ manager. We also have a large range of non-personalised official merchandise.

Do you cover other sporting memorabilia apart from football?

We have a small range of rugby league clubs merchandise but we are hoping to expand this and other sports in the future.

When deciding gifts to add to your  collections, do you select by what has proved popular with other gift outlets, current trends, customer requests, personal preferences or all of those things?

We occasionally add new product designs, based on trends and events, such as when a team has just won a trophy (so no new Liverpool FC products recently sadly!)

As Glamorous Gifts is based in the UK, are your products on the website available to purchase & ship worldwide? 

Glamorous Gifts is based in the UK, where all the products are shipped from. At the current time we are not shipping abroad due to brexit uncertainties and delays caused by the current global situation. We will be looking to do this again once things have settled down.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

For me personally, I find I’m starting to settle into a typical middle aged fashion sense where I basically live in jeans the whole time and wear something as comfy as possible. No skin-tight clothing for me thank you!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I typically shop at the likes of Next, Topman, Burton etc

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

The next thing on my clothes wish list, is probably yet another pair of jeans!

Boots or Shoes?

I wear my trusty brown or black shoes pretty much everywhere, though summer gives me a chance to break out the Converse’s !

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Glamorous Gifts

The range of products I’ve mentioned can be seen at: https://glamorous-gifts.co.uk/collections/personalised-football . 

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Glamorous Gifts – apart from the Pinterest/Featured Photo which is by Linda Hobden ©

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Spotlight On GO2 Essential Oil Sticks

The benefits of essential oils and their ability to support mental health and well being has been known for over 6000 years. After the last couple of years, enduring the pandemic, essential oil products have definitely been needed and appreciated. I think the essential oil sticks are the bees knees! There is one for every situation – to calm, to boost energy, to support sleep quality, and to aid concentration. I caught up with Marc Shipman, MD of GO2, to find out more about his well being business. Hi Marc…

Hi, my name is Marc Shipman and I am the Co-founder of The GO2 Brand. We produce on the GO common sense wellness products resulting in a better you!

What inspired you to set up “GO2”?

The idea came to me in my time of need, due to a very hectic lifestyle in running various businesses, 3 small children and at the time Free Style Wrestling for Wales, I guess like so many others life just caught up with me despite not wanting to accept the doctor telling me after 4 visits that I was suffering from anxiety.

Looking back, it now explains the terrible chest pressure I was experiencing. Having had tests it was confirmed – Gastritis that was brought on by stress.  I found myself at a crossroad and had to decide whether to take the medication that for me had longer lasting adverse effects or look for an alternative.  After all, stress starts with the information we process in our minds and if I could control my state of mind, slow it and calm it down, then I knew the rest will follow.

After many months of trial and error I found essential oils and so the journey began.  Bottles of essential oil blends in my pocket or bag was not ideal and I remember my light bulb moment when I thought, surely essential oil blends in a device like an inhaler stick made more sense!

Having more Energy, Focus, Calm etc on the GO in the most convenient and practical way is what I needed and that is quite simply when the brand was born! We worked with a very experienced and knowledgeable aromatherapy consultant to produce what we have today, 4 amazing 100% natural blends that are now helping people all over the world. 

What are the benefits of essential oils?

We have used essential oils for the last 6500 years for all their benefits. When inhaling the GO2 stick the odour molecules are released. The olfactory receptors in our nose are activated and send electrical signals to the higher region of our brain, the neocortex and limbic system which is the part of the brain involved in our behavioural and emotional responses. 

The limbic system then sends messages to our hypothalamus, the area of the brain which through the pituitary gland sends messages to the other parts of our body, different odour molecules will result in different messages being sent. 

Out of the 4 essential oil sticks (Calm, Energy, Sleep, Focus), which sticks are the most popular at the moment?

I would have to say B.Calm and Sleep which under the current COVID situation and mood of the nation, we are not surprised. 

What are the ingredients in each of the 4 essential oil sticks? 

We have used tried and tested but most importantly much researched essential oils. 

ENERGY – Eucalyptus – Peppermint – Lemongrass

FOCUS – Rosemary – Peppermint – Lime 

B.CALM – Cardamom – Lavender – Bergamot – Sweet Orange 

SLEEP – Lavender – Red Mandarin – Frankincense 

When I have been anxious in the past I have used the B.CALM stick & it did help.  What is your favourite stick to use?

That’s an easy one, I love them all but B.Calm is my baby and the one that started our wonderful journey. 

Have you any other new products to add to your range in the pipeline for 2021?

We have a few new amazing products coming in the second half of 2021 so watch this space!

Have you always been interested in aromatherapy? 

Before being told that it was anxiety causing my issues, no. I had not used essential oils prior to this and now I we want to tell the whole world about the amazing benefits of essential oils.

As you are based in UK, are your products available to purchase overseas? 

We pride ourselves that we are “Made in the UK” this was so important to us that we sourced and produced from UK supply. 

Growing up, did you have career aspirations in the medical field or something entirely different?

Definitely something entirely, as a kid I was always fascinated by the Wild West and thought one day I’d become a rancher and you know what, I made that dream come true…For a while, anyways, I lived in Montana USA where each day I rode the vast wild plains, herding cattle and chasing down wild horses.  I always had a deep connection towards the wilderness and the great outdoors. However, I fell in love with a wonderful woman and moved back to the UK. 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Oh no, OK, as my wife always tells me, sometimes it’s OK to look a little less comfortable!!!!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I do like Next and ASOS

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Sorry, not the answer you really want to hear, but a good pair of dog walking boots

Boots or Shoes?

Dog Walking Boots!

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about GO2.

www.thego2brand.com 

@thego2brand

Thanks for the chat Marc – is has been fascinating learning about your essential oil sticks ….. and your life as a rancher in Montana!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Marc Shipman

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Spotlight On FYX

FYX is a delicious new collagen infused spring water drink – one designed for giving a beauty boost ; the other a general body boost. A healthy way to be healthy and hydrated! I was fortunate to interview founders Theresa and Andy about their products and how they managed to get hydrolysed fish collagen to taste good. Also intrigued? Then read on….

Hello, we’re Theresa, Founder & Managing Director FYX, and


Andy – Operations & Marketing Director FYX

What inspired you to develop your new collagen drink, FYX? 

T: I have always been interested in health and beauty, and there are many brands of collagen products that I’ve tried over the years. Unfortunately, I never found one that I would enjoy and stick to, whether it came in a powder, tablet or gel form. It either smelled and / or tasted unpleasant or the texture wasn’t great. It was also time-consuming, especially when having to mix the powder that sometimes became lumpy. After many years of research and looking what was currently available on the market, I wanted to create a healthy, feel-good drink for men and women which would have collagen and added functional benefits. A drink which required no mixing or measuring, that tasted great and had the consistency of water,which could be consumed anytime during the day or night. The most important thing what l wanted to achieve was to bring a premium collagen drink to the market that everyone would enjoy and could actually feel the benefits of at an affordable price. With Andy’s wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise in marketing and brand development we are both very excited to share FYX with the world.

FYX comes in two varieties – BODY and BEAUTY. Which variety is the most popular?

They are both equally popular.

What is collagen? What are the main benefits to drinking FYX? 

Collagen is known as the glue that holds your body together.  Collagen is one of the main structural proteins that forms the connective tissue throughout your system, making up 30% of your body and 70% of your skin’s natural protein. Collagen is found in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as skin, hair and nails.

There are many benefits to drinking FYX but here a few key ones: • Hydrating as mixed with spring water, plus it has the consistency of water.• FYX BEAUTY has 2500mg of Marine Collagen and a blend of antioxidant ingredients to replenish your body from the inside out and enhance your skin, hair and nails.• FYX BODY has 2500mg of Marine Collagen and is designed to help replenish your body’s recovery pre and post exercise, as well as helping to repair any damaged ligaments, plus improve joint health.• Sugar free to prevent sugar crashes.• Less than 31 calories per bottle.

Was it a challenge to put together suitable recipes for your both FYX varieties that lived up to your standards? 

Yes, very much so. Anything is a challenge if you want to do something different. There is so much competition and there are so many brands to choose from in today’s market. You have to think outside the box and create something that will have an impact and stand out from the rest, whilst considering what consumers would like. For many years l had the vision and l knew what l wanted to create. Trying to get the recipe and ingredients, flavours, taste and texture spot on takes a lot of time and patience.

As you are currently based in the UK, is “FYX” available to purchase worldwide?

FYX is available to purchase at www.fyxme.co.uk and from the 10th of May we will be shipping globally.

Is FYX suitable for everyone ( eg vegan, gluten free, sugar content etc) or are there any exceptions/recommendation

FYX is gluten and sugar free and is suitable for men and woman of all ages and for young adults. It isn’t suitable for vegans as it contains fish (marine collagen). 

Have you always wanted a career in the health food/beverage sector or were your career aspirations elsewhere?

Andy and I have been close friends for over 20 years and we’ve always been interested in food and health. We both love to cook and lead a healthy lifestyle. During one of our many conversations we discussed several opportunities and we have spoken about opening a spa or restaurant overseas one day. 

Personal now – – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Theresa – l prefer casual clothes whether it’s a pair of jeans and boots or sports loungewear with a good pair of trainers. 

Andy – I prefer casual and colourful clothes generally. You need to feel comfortable in everything you do.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Theresa – Las Vegas is like my second home. l love shopping there. You are spoilt for choice – there’s too many to mention!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I haven’t really thought about it! 

Boots or Shoes? ( & Why?)

Boots – I go for comfort these days.

For Pinning Later

 Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter/ instagram etc so that readers can find out more about FYX

https://www.facebook.com/fyxhealth/

https://www.instagram.com/fyxhealth/

Thank you Theresa (and Andy) for the chat about FYX . The drink looks good, tastes good and does you good – so it is a win win! I will point out though, that if you are pregnant or breast feeding then consult your doctor for advice before taking marine collagen. Recommendations change regularly so always best to check! During each of my 7 pregnancies, there was always a different new food or drink or practice to avoid!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of FYX.

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8 Working From Home Joint Care Tips

Working from home is a common scenario for many people over the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic making alternative working arrangements necessary. In simple terms, this means the armchair and dining table, for many, have become temporary workspaces. Innovative makeshift solutions can take a toll on your posture and physical well-being. Even if you do have a dedicated home workspace/office, my 8 joint care tips will come in handy too!

START THE DAY WITH A STRETCH

Copyright © Charlton Island


Poor posture puts a strain on your neck and back muscles. Try to incorporate a good daily stretch before you settle down to work at your “desk”. If you have cats, you may noticed how they stretch before they settle into a sitting position. Copy your cat!

ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY?

If you are sat at a desk for long periods at a time, it is important to check the height of your chair. Too low and it will put pressure on your knees and hips; too high, you’ll get a neck and back ache. The ideal stance is to be able to sit on your chair with your legs firmly on the ground and your elbows resting comfortably on the table at a 90 degree angle.

copyright © Furniture And Choice


COMPUTER SCREEN

Ensure that your computer screen is at eye level whilst sitting up with a straight back. This will avoid back pain and stiffness. If you are working on a laptop, you can improvise by propping it up on a stack of books, investing in a remote keyboard to reduce hunching over.

SUPPLEMENTS

If you are suffering with joint pain/stiffness then taking a joint pain supplement, such as GOPO®  Joint Health  supplements, can help to protect and restore affected joints.

GOPO®  has been evaluated in numerous rigorously-conducted, placebo-controlled, clinical trials involving hundreds of patients with difficult-to-treat chronic joint conditions, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis4-8. Efficacy results have been consistently positive and evidence supporting the benefits of GOPO®  has been presented around the world at numerous clinical meetings and many studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals. 

Laboratory studies into GOPO®  have demonstrated that it can switch off certain genes responsible for producing proteins and enzymes that have been implicated in inflammatory joint destruction and switch on genes that help to produce collagen and cartilage7, which are essential components of a healthy joint. This suggests that when taken long term, the galactolipid GOPO®  may protect cartilage cells and help to  rebuild joint tissues7. High levels of the galactolipid GOPO® are found only in GOPO® Joint Health. 

GOPO®  Joint Health is also rich in vitamin C which is essential for normal collagen formation, needed by the body for healthy bones and cartilage 

GOPO®  Joint Health is available from  Boots, Amazon, supermarkets and independent chemists nationwide Visit www.gopo.co.uk for further information.  

Ask your local pharmacist/GP for further advice.

PRACTICE PERFECT POSTURE

Sitting and standing up straight allows your muscles and skeletal system to work together seamlessly, reducing strain on your joints. Try to avoid slouching. Imagine your body has an invisible thread that has to be kept taut, running from your hips through your back, and out at the top of your head. Alternatively you could practice the art of bouncing a book or basket on your head whilst walking – how far can you go before you drop your load?!

MOVE YOUR BODY

Sitting at a desk all day at home isn’t healthy for you but if you simply move your body for 5/10 minutes each hour – take a walk around the block, do some indoor cycling, go up and down the stairs, boogie to some music, do the hoovering or simply get up and make yourself a drink will help to avoid muscle stiffness, relieve tired joints, keeps you mentally healthy & alert, ease eye strain, and avoids headaches and migraine developing. It is so easy to sit at your desk and let the hours slip by – my Apple Watch has a health alarm to remind me to move each hour! An alarm clock or timer can do the same job.

Stretch……. copyright © LindaHobden


RUNNING/JOGGING/WALKING

During lockdown, a lot of people have turned to running, walking and jogging for their daily outdoor exercise of choice, which is great for mental health as well as your physical health! Most important thing to remember is to make sure you have the correct footwear – properly fitted and, in the case of running shoes, cushioned. With running and jogging, remember to start with a thorough and active warm up to get your blood flowing around your body. Schedule your running route to incorporate different surfaces – soft ground as well as concrete/tarmac. Don’t forget to stretch out those leg muscles at the end!

Check out my article: https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/spotlight-on-workout-shoes

INDOOR EXERCISING

Exercising at home is a great healthy alternative to the gym. Before you begin any sort of exercise – stretch! This is particularly important if you are unaccustomed to exercise, are unfit or are overweight although check with your GP before attempting any exercises. Stretch after exercising too! If you are new to exercising, try the “walking” exercise programmes on YouTube. They are great fun, and are easy to pick up and the main movement is walking on the spot. There are no harsh movements on your joints, and yet you can get your cardiovascular system working by simply walking virtually on the spot from the comfort of your home!

Or try this fun workout app: https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/spotlight-on-apocalypse-survival-training

For Pinning Later

I hope you found the tips useful at keeping those stiff joints at bay!

Linda x

GoPo article references:

4. Willich SN, Rossnagel K, Roll S, et al. Rose hip herbal remedy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis – a randomised controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(2):87-93. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2009.09.003 

5. Winther, K et al. “A powder made from seeds and shells of a rose-hip subspecies (Rosa canina) reduces symptoms of knee and hip osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Scandinavian journal of rheumatology vol. 34,4 (2005): 302-8. 6. Christensen R et al.  Does the hip powder of Rose canina (rose-hip) reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients? – a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, Osteoarthritis Cartilage (2008) 

7. Schwager J, Richard N, Wolfram S. Anti-inflammatory and chondro-protective effects of rose-hip powder and its constituent galactolipids GOPO.  Poster presentation at the World Congress of Osteoarthritis (OARSI) 2008 

8. Scaife R. The effect of GOPO supplementation on passive joint forces and subjective assessment of pain in a non-arthritic population. Poster presentation at the International Sports Science and Sports Medicine Conference 2013, Newcastle, August 21-23 

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Create Your Own Calm

2020 has been quite a year, to say the least! All the more reason why my guest’s latest book, “Create Your Own Calm” is creating quite a stir. Author Becky Goddard-Hill has written this book that is simply bursting at the seams with simple, practical ideas and fun activities to stave off boredom and, more importantly, to manage feelings of stress, anger and anxiety. Although it is aimed at children aged 7 – 12, adults would still benefit from Becky’s words of wisdom. I caught up with Becky to find out more… Hi Becky!

Hi! I am Becky Goddard-Hill,  a children’s therapist and a wellbeing author. I blog at Emotionally Healthy Kids  and Simple Parenting and my podcast Emotionally Healthy Kids can be found on ITunes. I have 2 teenage kids and I live in Nottingham. My background is in  Social Work. My latest book, Create Your Own Calm is published by Harper Collins and came out in September 2020.

As a former social worker & child development trainer, what inspired you to write “Create Your Own Calm”  and the other books you have written?  

I strongly believe emotional health and wellbeing to be as important to life as physical health and intellectual pursuits. If not more important. But how often do we actually focus on teaching them the kinds of skills they need to manage their mental health? Rarely. I wanted to give kids a tool kit of coping skills to help them be robust and resilient and I wanted to introduce these in fun and light hearted ways  and that’s the focus and purpose of my books. They each contain loads of activities that teach kids great emotional health skills whilst having fun. 

I admire the fact that you run 6 blogs, all highly ranked within the UK, predominantly focused on family life, emotional well-being & being active/creative. How do you find writing books compared to writing blogposts?

Because my books are activity books I find each activity a big like a blog post to write. I love, love, love that my books are illustrated though and interactive.

What do you like most about blogging?

My blogging community is awesome and my various blogs are diverse and interesting. I  have to do quite a lot of social media to promote my blog – I don’t love that quite so much.

copyright © Linda Hobden

“Create Your Own Calm” is aimed at children aged 7 – 12, and yet looking through the book, I think the tips and activities to create calmness in these stressful times could also help adults. Learning the science behind emotions was especially good. Do you have a “favourite” tip to help when you are particularly stressed?

Yes. My favourite tip is to do something mindful, eg colour a mandala, bake bread, gardening. When you are focused you cannot worry about the past or the future and your brain clears making problems much easier to solve. 

The activities suggested in the book are really fun & quite innovative – such as growing a pizza garden & cloud watching (my favourite). What inspired the thoughtful activities? Any favourites? Any activities that you tried that didn’t quite work out?

Oh, I tried to make a lava lamp to show how people  are like oil and water – that they could coexist even though they could be very different. I ended up with about 20 lava lamp attempts all sitting round my house, none of which had worked!  My favourite activity in my teen book, Be Happy Be You, is that they have to befriend an apple for the day, name it, really get to know it and spend time with it. It’s to show them that whilst you might just think all apples are the same they aren’t at all, they are all individuals and deserving of your time in getting to know them. Appreciating diversity and inclusion are so important to instil.

copyright © LindaHobden

I noticed a lot of reviews for the book (and I am in agreement) commented that the language you used got the point across to young people without talking down to them or being patronising. That is a great skill to have. Is it a lot harder to write a book/ article aimed at a young person?

I don’t think so. My language is never formal when I write and I have teens myself. The publisher has a reader to check the language is just right too.

Your career background has been in the field of social work/child development; was that the career you aspired to have as a youngster or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?

I want to save the world! I don’t know how to, but that was my grand plan. I’ve since realised that might be a tad ambitious but I do still desperately want to help people and make a difference. 

Being an author of 7 books already, are you a bookworm yourself?  If so, what genre(s) do you usually read?

 I am a huge sucker for a gorgeous romance and I love David Nicholls.

copyright © Adam Hobden


Looking towards the future – have you got other books in the pipeline?

Yes,  Create Your Own Kindness will be published in Feb 2021. It teaches kids to be kind to themselves, other people and, in fact, to the whole world! 

As you are based in England, is “Create Your Own Calm” available overseas?

Yes, on Amazon – pretty much everywhere.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Ah, I’m a very comfy dresser. At the moment, it’s oversized cosy jumpers and jeans/joggers with my trusty silver Superga. I also love a pair of dunagrees.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I like FatFace and Hush.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I am desperate for a cosy coat and some new tall boots as mine are battered!

Boots or Shoes?

Neither. I have about 15 pairs of converse and rather a lot of other lace up pumps too. They are my go to.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about You & “Create Your Own Calm”

 I blog at Emotionally Healthy Kids  and Simple Parenting and my podcast Emotionally Healthy Kids can be found on ITunes.

Create Your Own Calm is published by Harper Collins and is available on Amazon and in all good book shops 

I have also co-written a  happiness boosting book for teens Be Happy Be You which was published earlier this year 

You can find me on Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/beckygoddardhill

Thank you so much for the chat, Becky. I love the idea of befriending an apple! Highly original!

Linda x

The author & book photographs were published with kind permission of Becky Goddard-Hill. Other photographs are by Linda Hobden & Adam Hobden.

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Cataract Crisis

Covid-19 has really put the cat amongst the pigeons! According to the charity Eye Health UK, some 5 million eye tests were missed due to the pandemic, raising concerns of undiagnosed optical issues. The growing backlog of untreated cataracts due to lockdown, for example, is set to result in a spike of falls amongst the elderly this winter. This eye condition affects balance as well as vision, putting those who are over 60 more at risk of falling, breaking hips and other injuries. Even a slightly reduced vision can have an impact on your mental health.

black and white camera lens on white table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com



So what are cataracts?

David Allamby, celebrity eye surgeon from the London Cataract Centre explained in a recent press release that the Covid-19 shutdown meant that routine appointments were missed. Unfortunately cataracts don’t go away – they tend to worsen over time. Cataracts are caused when an eye lens – the small transparent lens just behind the coloured iris – starts to develop cloudy patches. Generally it is the over 65 age group most at risk, although it can affect people of all ages. Unfortunately studies show that people with cataracts are more at risk of falling but having cataract surgery to both eyes does reduce the risk of falling by 73%. According to the North London Eye Study, half of all people will have cataracts by the age of 80, rising to 75% by the age of 85. Also, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cataracts are responsible for a third of cases of blindness, worldwide, affecting roughly 65 million people. Phew!

David Allamby of the London Cataract Centre


The word “Cataract” comes from the Latin “cataracta” meaning “waterfall or floodgate” and refers to the white pupil in advanced cataracts. The time for cataract surgery is when cataracts have advanced sufficiently to impair your eyesight and negatively affect your daily life. Surgery is usually a walk-in, walk out day case procedure using only a local anaesthetic. Cataract extraction surgery with intraocular lens implant for age-related cataracts is the most common surgery in the NHS. In 2019, surgeons performed approximately 400,000 cataract extractions across the U.K.

© London Cataract Centre


The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) suggests speedy diagnosis and treatment is the best defence in controlling eye disease and preventing sight loss. They recommend that everybody has an eye test every 2 years unless otherwise advised by their optometrists.

Contact your optician immediately if:

  • painful or red eye
  • broken or lost glasses and you can’t function without them
  • been referred by NHS111, GP or other health care professionals
  • problem with contact lenses
  • foreign body in your eye
  • worried about your vision or eye health

For pinning later © Linda Hobden

Information sources:
https://londoncataractcentre.co.uk
Cataracts surgery can reduce risk of falling by 73 percent: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30197507/Five million routine eye tests have been missed due to lockdown: https://100percentoptical.caboodleai.net/en/article/96240?utm_source=ElasticEmail-sb-100percentoptical&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=100percentoptical-1851-s-en-250920

Keep Safe,

Linda x

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An Interview With Janelle Soong

What do pharmacists really do? Some people view them as people who just dish out pills; but there is a lot more to the pharmacy world than that. Pharmacy graduate Janelle Soong has just written a book that explains what working in a pharmacy is really about as well as true anecdotes from pharmacy school. It really is a well written eye opener of a book and reading the book, I discovered the amount of work that the pharmacist does, their expertise is second to none, and I cringed at some of the stories too! I invited Janelle to join us on my blog to chat about her life as a pharmacy graduate, her likes & loves, and whether she has taken the title of author in her stride! Hi Janelle!

Hello readers, I’m Janelle and it’s such a pleasure to be featured on Linda’s blog. I’m a Pharmacy (MPharm) graduate from King’s College London and the author of “Let Sleeping Pharmacists Lie”. Frankly, I’m still trying to get over the bit where I get to call myself an author – I don’t think it’ll ever lose its novelty! “Let Sleeping Pharmacists Lie” is my first book and I am so excited to share it with you. The short author bio on the back cover of the paperback will tell youthat I am an aspiring puppy parent and cake fiend. Both of those things are absolutely true.

Who or what inspired you to write your collection of funny yet true anecdotes from your Pharmacy School and from working in the healthcare sector itself? 

Sometimes, pharmacy can be a field where public perceptions don’t always do the profession justice. This is something that became more and more apparent to me as I progressed through my degree and gained a better understanding of the industry. Personally, I think this is simply a case of misinformation and a lack of awareness that has festered over the years – both easily curable. This book is me doing my bit to help elevate the profile of pharmacists in the media. I believe the world needs to know what pharmacists are truly capable of before we can get anywhere near changing these misconceptions.

The World of Pharmacy has always had its misconceptions – unfortunately a lot of people do think pharmacists are just there to “count the pills”.  Your book highlighted the diversity of pharmacy as a career too, especially when you described your degree course programme.  I found the book interesting as well as entertaining.  Do you have a “favourite” misconception?

Oh, I have so many personal favourites – the chapter titled “How to Annoy Your Pharmacist” probably sums them all up in one little package. Generally speaking, I think there tends to be an opinion that pharmacists (and many other healthcare disciplines) take their instructions from doctors without offering any clinical input of their own. This could not be further from the truth in the context of modern healthcare. Doctors and pharmacists are trained very differently to one another, as I came to realise at university. Sure, there may have been some overlap when covering the fundamentals like basic physiology and chemistry – but otherwise, my course material was worlds apart from what the medics were studying. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this is something that is very much reflected in the nature of the jobs where different skillsets are paramount to performing them well. 

Were there any aspects of writing your book that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?  

Writing (and publishing) my first book opened a whole new world of learning to me, specifically around the process of self-publishing. This was all very new to me, as self-publication was not something I had explored on any level prior to this. If anything, it made me realise how much the publishing industry has progressed in barely any time at all. On the writing front, I discovered that I can be a bit neurotic when it comes to editing. Naturally, I owe this to my perfectionist nature, so this hardly came as a surprise. I’m sure you know the feeling well, being a blogger yourself – “Maybe I’ll just tweak it once more!” Of course, “once more” is never really once. Make it about three or five more times if I’m feeling extra paranoid that day.

I had also heard from the Twitter writing community that it is dangerously easy to become blind to your own material. Having spent so much time on it, creating and polishing it within an inch of its life, I definitely found my eyes glazing over when I went through it for what must have been the hundredth time. Putting it aside (and on a dusty shelf in the back of my mind)  for a week did me a world of good – coming back to it with fresh eyes helped me instantly spot errors that I had simply failed to see before. The Twitter folk were right on that one.

What did you enjoy most about Pharmacy School, your degree course and working a pharmacy dealing with customers? What were the downsides? 

I was always a bit of a chemistry nerd at school, so I loved that it was very much a core element of Pharmacy. We had modules around drug design, formulation and drug delivery – I fell in love with this unique blend of physics and chemistry that make all sorts of clinical breakthroughs possible. It was these pharmaceutical science modules that made me curious about the pharmaceutical industry, and more importantly, the way it influences clinical prescribing. I think that this is one of the highlights of being a pharmacist – having the expertise to understand the situation from both the patient and the drug development/supply angles, whether it’s a clinical problem or a manufacturing problem. I enjoyed my course very much indeed, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the profession. I only wish there could have been more clinical placement opportunities for pharmacy students. In comparison to other healthcare degrees, these were far and few between but they were valuable learning opportunities – some of my favourite memories from my Pharmacy degree are from my time spent on clinical placements.

Have you always wanted to have a career in pharmacy or did you have other aspirations? 

Quite honestly, Pharmacy was something I fell into. I had aspirations to attend conservatoire and become a professional classical violinist, as I had grown up attending a music specialist school. The kind of school where no questions were asked if students had to skip academic lessons to attend music rehearsals, and the level of music training required made academics look like a very optional hobby. I had always had it in mind that I would go on to pursue a musical career full-time, but ultimately decided against it due to a combination of reasons.  I was a fairly academic student and I knew I enjoyed science, particularly chemistry. I was also curious about the applications of science in drug development, so pharmacy seemed like a very natural choice at the time. It’s funny how you wind up on certain paths in life that were never in the cards not too long ago.

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

Absolutely, though I am one of those people who partake in the whole “I wish I had more time to read!” I have always loved to read, but I have spent more time reading textbooks than any other kind of publication in the past few years – I guess I have university to thank for that. If I had to pick a genre, I’d say that non-fiction psychology fascinates me the most. I thoroughly enjoyed “Quiet” by Susan Cain, and recently read “The Cinderella Complex” by Colette Dowling, which I found extremely eye-opening. I enjoy a bit of humour from time to time too – I’m currently reading “This is Going to Hurt” by Adam Kay and I think he has a wonderful writing voice. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Is “Let Sleeping Pharmacists Lie” available to purchase worldwide?

Yup, it is available on Amazon marketplaces worldwide as a Kindle ebook or as a paperback – if you’re like me and prefer to curl up with a physical book whose pages I can fiddle with as I read.

You have a blog called TheNellyBean – what is the origins of the title? What do you enjoy most about blogging? 

My blog has turned into a bit of a hot mess – in the sense that I now write about anything that takes my fancy; I like to think of it as an online diary where I get to be unabashedly myself. I wanted the title to reflect this, so I brainstormed words that came to mind when I thought of the things I enjoy in life. I’m a big fan of sweets and desserts, so I decided to combine “jellybean” and “Nelly” (a mildly embarrassing childhood nickname). “Thenellybean” was born. Thankfully, the domain name was available. 

I love that blogging allows me to reach all sorts of people who find themselves able to relate to my content in one way or another. The community can be so kind and supportive too, so that’s a big plus in my eyes.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m a big fan of skinny jeans and ankle boots. I’ve found that as I prioritise comfort so much more now, so a good pair of trainers are always a winner in my books. On the other hand, I do enjoy a preppy look (blame the private school upbringing), so I’ll pair a floaty button down with my favourite tan leather loafers or some brogues from time to time.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I adore Primark. I love that it’s a one-stop shop for all my wardrobe needs and I’ve never had trouble with the quality or fit of their clothes. Though I think investing in some decent trainers is a must, as I run fairly regularly. Skechers have never failed me.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’m keeping an eye out for a nice pair of sleek black riding boots. I just think there’s something so elegant about them.

Boots or Shoes?

This is like asking me to choose between chocolate and fruit-based desserts. I’m indecisive and love my boots as well as shoes, so I’ll have to say both!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

For Pinning Later

Blog: https://thenellybean.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/janelle_thenellybean/?hl=en

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thenellybean

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/j_thenellybean/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thenellybean/

Book link on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08BZQVF4C

Thanks for chatting with me today Janelle. Your “Boots Or Shoes?” answer was spot on. It is difficult to pick, and if the choice had been chocolate or fruit based dessert, then I would also have said , “ A bit of both, please”. Dare I say, what about cake??? ! Thank you also Janelle for the copy of your book. I enjoyed it immensely.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Janelle Soong.

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AN Interview With Marlene Watson-Tara

Continuing on my healthy living theme this month, this week I’m chatting to Marlene Watson-Tara – author of “Go Vegan”, co-founder of the “Human Ecology Project”, Health councillor, teacher and expert in the field of plant-based nutrition. It was Marlene’s book “Go Vegan” that was the inspiration for my potato dish blogpost recently (view HERE). So, it is with great excitement that I welcome Marlene onto my blog….hi Marlene!

Hi! I’m Marlene, a long-time vegan, activist, lover of animals, nature and life and passionate about human ecology. As an eternal optimist, increasing the number of people worldwide to switch to a wholefood plant-based diet and vegan life is my mission. Together with my husband Bill Tara, we have created The Human Ecology Project. 

As a high profiled and dedicated health counsellor and teacher with over 40 years’ experience in the health industry, my dietary advice draws from the fields of Macrobiotic Nutrition, my studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine and my certification in Plant- Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

My clients range from the movies and arts to members of royal families. In the last 10 years I have been teaching chefs the art and skill of wholefood plant-based cooking and nutrition. As a regular columnist for many health magazines and websites I share my knowledge on living healthily. My vast experience informs a body of knowledge that I eagerly share with the world.

As the international author of Macrobiotics for all Seasons and my latest book Go Vegan  I share information that is simple, direct and effective, along with delicious recipes and medicinal teas. I teach alongside my husband Bill Tara. We have graduates from our “Macrobiotic Vegan Health Coach Programme” in 27 countries. I’m a driving force for health and fitness to all who cross her path. Our “Ultimate Health Experience” workshops have been offered in Europe, America, and Australia

My favourite saying – “If you don’t look after your body, then where are you going to live?”

Being a long time vegan, what inspired you to embrace the vegan lifestyle?

On school holidays my family would go to the countryside and it always seemed such a sad time when all the lambs were taken from the fields and loaded onto trucks.  As I grew into my teens, I had health issues with skin, digestion and menstrual pain. As I wouldn’t eat meat, I ate mostly dairy.  When I changed my diet to completely plant-based all these health issues disappeared.  When you connect the dots with diet and the development of disease, there is no turning back. When you look behind the curtain to the scale of what happens globally to our animal kingdom you cannot pretend to not know what is there. 


As you are an author of “Macrobiotic For All Seasons” and “Go Vegan”, surely you must have a favourite tried and tested recipe?  Do you prefer cooking “main meals”, desserts or are you a baker?

I find it exciting to create new recipes and train chefs and home cooks utilizing my seasonal menus and cooking skills, using the five tastes. My favourite creations are soups, I live and love them daily. From my delicious creamy decadence soups to the bean comforting cozy stews, soup is a daily staple in our home.

Food historians tell us the history of soup is probably as old as the history of cooking. The act of combining various ingredients in a pot to create a nutritious, filling, simple to make meal was inevitable. Healthy and healing soups are part of the cooking traditions in every country.

I always try and prepare my soup from fresh, organic, in season, and ideally local ingredients. Whether your ingredients are coming freshly grown from your own garden or you’ve bought them directly from the farmers’ market, making the connection between the food you eat, and your local environment is important. The food we eat is part of our cultural identity. Eating local foods helps produce a more resilient and sustainable future, both for yourself and for future generations.

Recently in my local supermarket there has been a promotional “push” towards plant-based meals. As you are an expert in the field of plant-based nutrition, what do you feel are the main benefits to follow a vegan/plant-based diet?

Thankfully, the popularity of plant-based diets has grown, which makes this an easier era than ever to start. Can I Get Enough Nutrients on a Plant-Based Diet? This is always the number one question that I am asked. Yes, and it’s easier than you’d think to consume these essential nutrients. You just need to know where to get them. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids often come from animal-based sources like fish. However, you can also get an ample supply from hemp seeds, flax, chia, and walnuts. It’s merely about understanding the alternative ways to get the nutrition you need.

Plant-based/vegan diets have been linked to a number of health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes and cognitive decline. Plus, transitioning to a more plant-based diet is an excellent choice for the planet and will end the death and suffering of our animal kingdom. Two billion animals are slaughtered daily for food. There is no need, we receive all the nutrients we require from plants. At the end of the day, the largest and strongest animals in the world are vegan, giraffes, elephants etc., they get their nutrients from the same source we as vegans do… from the plants.

Having received a copy of “Go Vegan”, I was impressed by the range of recipes – the ingredients were not too daunting or difficult to obtain; the cooking instructions were easy to follow; and the glossary was a godsend especially when I came across an ingredient I had never heard of. Was it difficult to put together suitable recipes that lived up to your ethos?  

Eating from my ethos is simple and doable for everyone. 95% of what constitutes my approach is obtainable from most supermarkets. Grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Foods like miso, tofu, and even some dried sea vegetables are now available in supermarkets. This makes my heart sing to see this growth year on year. One or two of the condiments I use are available from natural food stores or online. My teaching of plant-based/vegan nutrition is based on my teachings of Macrobiotics, a wonderful philosophy that teaches us that everything is connected, animal, plant, human, environment.  When I create and cook all of these considerations are always there. 


As you are currently based in the UK, is “Go Vegan” available to purchase worldwide? 

Yes, Go Vegan is available world-wide on amazon. U.K. and US 

You currently teach alongside your husband, Bill Tara, your MACROVegan Health Coach Programme.  Sounds intriguing. In a nutshell, what does that involve? 

We now have students who have travelled from 27 countries to study and graduate as a MACROVegan Health Coach. We see this as switching on lighthouses around the world. We now have students studying with us online which is fantastic. Our students leave as proficient and amazing cooks as well as wonderful health coaches. It makes our heart sing as more and more graduate and teach this work.

MACROVegan Health Coach Course

The dramatic rise in degenerative disease attributed to diet and lifestyle has created a demand for solutions to disease prevention and personal health maintenance. What is called for is a new generation of men and women who are capable of offering practical advice on how to live a healthy life in modern society. 

During the two weeks of study you will have the opportunity to learn the techniques of effective Health Coaching and experience the power of healthy living. You will leave prepared to be a more effective promoter of natural health care and set up practice as a Professional Macrobiotic Health Coach.    

The Macrobiotic Vegan Health Coach curriculum has been designed by Bill Tara, co-founder of the Kushi Institute, creator of the International Macrobiotic Institute (Kiental, Switzerland) curriculum and designer of the American and European Kushi Institute Teacher Certification Programmes along with his wife Marlene Watson-Tara who is certified in Plant Based Nutrition. 

This is a rare opportunity to study with teachers who are expert consultants and draw on decades of practical experience. Macrobiotic philosophy serves as the foundation of these studies and provides the link between the disciplines and life skills we will explore together.  This course also offers additional tools to enhance professional or Para-professional skills in both the orthodox or complimentary health and healing arts.

The Modules

Health, Healing and Human Ecology

Health and Emotion / East and West

Traditions of Nutrition

Wholefoods Plant Based Cooking & Home Remedies

Health Assessment

Principles and Practice of Health Coaching

When you are not working, what activities do you enjoy, to relax and unwind? 

I adore growing my own vegetables, and love being in nature. I am an avid and longtime yogi, (my daily practice keeps me in check) and miss teaching yoga, one day, I will have my own studio again. I adore cycling with Bill and of course, reading and writing, and I am currently working on my next book.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I live in yoga gear… always cycling, doing yoga, or working at my desk here so casual and comfort works for me. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?  

Yes, I love https://bambooclothing.co.uk

I always purchase clothing using cotton, hemp, linen, etc., More and more companies offer these wonderful alternatives for vegan and ethical clothing. I love Matt & Nat for more dress shoes and bags and Wills London for my backpack and casual shoes and have boots from both of them. 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A new Ciao Bella – I adore feminine frilly dresses on the search. My next pair of yoga toe sandals from Supplefeet are on the list. They are fantastic, I have worn them for years and they keep your fee in great shape. 

Boots or Shoes? 

I love my chunky rubber sole sneakers, they look great with jeans, yoga gear, shorts and casual dresses. They are my first choice daily for comfort.

My Chelsea boots are my second choice…they are so versatile and can be worn in all seasons.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter/ instagram etc so that readers can find out more about you and Go Vegan.

Website, Instagram, facebook, you tube, linked In, twitter, 

www.macrovegan.org

https://www.instagram.com/macroveganinternational/

https://facebook.com/marlenewatsontaragovegan/

https://www.youtube.com/user/Molly19571/videos?view=0&sort=p&flow=grid&disable_polymer=true

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/

Thanks Marlene for an interesting chat and you have given me and my readers “food for thought”.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Marlene Watson-Tara

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An Interview With Dean Hodgkin

Keeping your body fit and healthy during lockdown … and for life beyond, is paramount. It’s difficult though and many of us need help to practice social distancing from the fridge, from the wine bottles and from the biscuit barrel. For tips and advice on keeping our bodies fit and healthy and to help us develop an understanding on how to maintain that fitness, I was lucky enough to chat to Dean Hodgkin – Head of Programming on TV Fit, fitness expert, karate champion, writer and speaker. Hi Dean!

Hi! I’m Dean Hodgkin, a veteran of the fitness industry with over 30 years on the clock and with varied experience that includes working in spas, premium health clubs, budget gyms, leisure centres and more recently boutique studios. I’ve co-authoured 2 fitness books written a large number of magazine and newspaper articles and I’ve also appeared in a number of broadcast formats as a health and fitness expert.

You’ve appeared at fitness events in 36 countries and collected the Best International Fitness Presenter at The One Body One World in New York, the ECA International Career Achievement Recognition Award, also in the US, in addition to the Lifetime Achievement award at Europe’s largest group fitness event, the International Fitness Showcase. On top of this you were also 3 times World and 2 times European karate champion so what triggered your love of sport and keeping fit? 

That’s a great question as I’m not sure I’ve ever really analysed my odyssey before! My Father was a semi-pro footballer so when I was very young I would spend every Saturday standing on the touchline, come rain or shine. My elder brother was also a particularly good player so naturally, I followed suit, becoming captain of my school team. There was a brief heartbreak when my Mother forced me to attend the best grammar school in our area – where they didn’t play soccer! However, I threw myself into rugby, again becoming team captain and realised the specific discipline was irrelevant…….I just loved participating in any sport. Like many kids in the 70s, when the Bruce Lee movies hit the cinemas, I was desperate to try martial arts. At first I was too young to join the local karate club so started my journey with judo but transferred as soon as I was allowed. I became absolutely immersed, training in every spare moment and perhaps as a result of such, I became quite proficient. When it became clear that I could actually achieve something through fighting, I began to get involved in fitness training, realising it would help me to perform better, although in those days it was simply running, basic calisthenics and stretching.


Have you always wanted a career in fitness or did your aspirations lie elsewhere?

When I graduated from university in the mid-80’s, the fitness industry in the UK was in a nascent state, concepts and experiences were only just drifting over from the US, so I didn’t view it as a career choice, particularly as fitness training was just something I did for fun. Additionally, having studied mathematics and management studies, my intention was to go into investment banking in the City of London. However, at the time I had already been selected for the British under-21 karate team but realised that to progress to senior level, I’d need to put in some serious graft so I negotiated a ‘gap year’ with my parents, allowing me to put finding a job on hold and instead to train full-time. This 1 year actually turned into 3, during which I spent so much of my time in sports centres and gyms that it occurred to me it would be great if I could combine my choice of vocation with my love of physical activity and so I enrolled on a fitness trainer course and progressed from there.



In your capacity as  Head of Programming on TV Fit ….What would you say are the most popular genre/programmes/classes?

This is a great question as the answer is actually 2 dimensional. In terms of the market, resistance training and high intensity interval training are leading the pack, hence our results-guaranteed STRONGER and LIMITLESS programmes an incredible numb of views. As an individual, however, the most popular workouts are the one’s you’ll actually do so pick what you enjoy, rather than those everyone else seems to be doing, as then you’re much more likely to adhere to it and see the results you desire. Working out shouldn’t feel like a chore, so try many different classes to find your flavour. Remember, exercise isn’t something you do TO your body – it’s something you do FOR your body, so enjoy it.

Which genre/programme/classes is your personal favourite?

Whilst, for obvious reasons, I love STRIKE, I honestly have no favourite so you’re just as likely to find me dancing or lifting weights as shadow-boxing or trying to fold myself into a downward dog. I truly love the freedom of movement exercise brings and enjoy exploring my body through the different physical challenges involved.

Must admit, when exercising, I hate doing “burpees” … even more than push ups!! Which exercise do you dislike the most?

I’m totally with you on that one – I’m pretty sure that a straw poll would result in near unanimous agreement!

Being in lockdown, keeping your body and mind fit and healthy is a must. Any top tips?

Due to the reduced amount of walking within our daily routines, the inability to play sport or go to the gym, the potential stress related to being cooped up with others or perhaps anxiety about future job prospects, I’d argue that exercise has never been more valuable. In addition to burning calories (helping to balance out the extra trips we might be making to the fridge!) the positive impact on mental health has been proven in an abundance of scientific research studies.What’s more, there are huge mood-uplifting benefits of exercising outdoors, something the Government recognised in the lockdown guidance by allowing us to venture outside once each day, so it’s vital to optimise this modicum of temporary freedom. If you’re a runner, fine but if you’re just beginning your fitness journey our SWEATCOIN WALK was created specifically for you, providing a personal trainer in your ear for motivation and visual tips to perfect your technique.Just in case you need further convincing, the father of medicine, Hippocrates, is quoted as declaring, ‘Walking is man’s best medicine’……..and he knew a thing or two about how to stay healthy in both mind and body!

What has been the most unusual Fitness class/ genre you’ve come across?

To be honest, there are way too many to mention! Dog Yoga and Naked Yoga have to be right up there and I still need to be convinced of the value of Napercise. Others include Voga (yep, that’s yoga with a few Madonna shapes thrown in) Kangoofit (bouncing around on boots with springs) Mermaid Fitness (wearing 1 huge flipper) Crowd Surf Ready (for lifters and liftees) High Intensity Interval Painting (sweat then paint then sweat then paint….) etc, etc, etc!


Being a world champion at karate, I can take it that that must be one of, if not your favourite sport. Are there any other sports you take part in or enjoy watching?

I’m a complete sportaholic and regularly achieve nothing of any significance at weekends due to camping out in front of the TV, so the lockdown live sport ban has left me totally disorientated on Saturdays and Sundays. Favourites are rugby, soccer, basketball, MMA, american football, tennis and athletics.

I love shows like Strictly Come Dancing – I especially love watching the Argentine Tango! Hypothetically speaking, if you were to take part, which dance style would you love to try?

I’m also a Strictly addict, primarily as I appreciate the amount of training they put in and the incredible improvement in their performance level through the course of the series. I also watch in wonder at the pros who are so athletic and appear to be excellent at every discipline. I’d love to learn the more technical dances but fear I’d only have a chance of mastering the jive due to it clearly being a fast and very physical challenge for which I hope my years of fitness training have prepared me.

Personal now, what outfits/footwear would you normally wear?

Over the years I have been very fortunate to have been, at different times, sponsored by Nike, Reebok and Puma but now I’m a total brand whore – I’ll purchase and wear whatever takes my fancy.

Boots Or Shoes?

For fitness – high tops for lifting and basketball, lows for dancing and HIIT, barefoot for combat and yoga. Out of the gym, boots in winter and flip-flops for as long as the weather allows.

For pinning later



Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more about you

www.deanhodgkin.com
https://www.facebook.com/dean.hodgkin.7
https://www.instagram.com/deanhodgkin/

Hmm.. Voga sounds fun but Naked Yoga sounds pretty embarrassing , unless you’re doing it on your own! Ha ha! Thanks for chatting with me Dean – I particularly liked your advice regarding picking a workout that you enjoy rather than one that is trendy and you are doing it “just because”.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Dean Hodgkin

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Spotlight On Apocalypse Survival Training

During lockdown, or indeed just keeping fit, there are a plethora of online classes, apps, videos and ideas just waiting for you to explore. Going for a run or a jog? Plug in your headphones and listen to the music as you achieve your 10,000 steps. BUT WAIT. Are you craving for a totally different way to keep fit? I think I’ve found what you’re looking for – Apocalypse Survival Training. This is a story based fitness app created by London based fitness trainer Adele Andersen. Using the app, you can immerse yourself into a different world, a world where you are a secret agent trying to save London from an alien invasion whilst all the time getting fit to with running, circuits and yoga workouts. Sound intriguing? I thought so too, so after doing a quick spin of saving London, I had a chat with Adele to find out more… Hi Adele!

Hi I’m Adele Andersen, creator of Apocalypse Survival Training. I’m an Aussie who came to the UK 14 years years ago but somehow never quite made it back home. I’ve been working as a fitness instructor for 11 years and run a west London bootcamp. I live in Acton with my metal singer/music producer husband Rasmus and our three cats. 

What inspired you to create the story based fitness app, Apocalypse Survival Training?

7 years ago I was doing a lot of script writing and had just had a radio play performed at a Discworld fan event, Hogswatch (essentially the Christmas celebration of Terry Pratchett’s novel series). In a conversation after in the pub, a group of friends were complaining about how boring exercising is but how they wished they could be fit like I was, which came around to the question of what would make exercising fun for them – an entertainment factor – and whether I could combine my fitness coaching with my writing to make story based workouts which people would want to keep going with, to find out what happened next in the story. It’s been a looooong process from that night to now! 

Have you always wanted a career in fitness or did your aspirations lie elsewhere?

Absolutely not! Never even stepped inside a gym before I came to London! I only ever wanted to be a Grand Prix dressage rider and write fantasy novels. Tragically, I was not a particularly gifted rider and feel like I will never be able to afford horses again 😭 I’m finally finishing my first novel though! 
I started on horse yards in the UK but quickly ran out of money and ended up in London looking for a job. I started working at Sky in the winter, where I left and got back home in the dark and cold, and had no natural physical labour to do anymore. The office had a lunch gym group so I went along for a Body Pump class, which I liked, and then a Body Combat class, which I adored. I ended up in the gym a lot – I’m pretty high energy and not well suited to a desk job – so when the financial crash of 2008 froze hiring, one of my best friends suggested I train as a group fitness instructor to at least be paid for the many hours I was taking part in group exercise classes. It was loosely intended as a 3 year plan, but it turned out to be something I’m really good at. The first job I’d ever had that I was naturally good at. I qualified in 2009 and am still teaching – and loving it – 11 years later! 

In your capacity as a fitness trainer, what type of fitness training or exercises are most popular with the classes that you have taught?

Broadly speaking, exercise to music. There’s true magic in exercise choreographed to music because the music is a driver but also an amazing emotional connector, and so people work harder but experience genuine enjoyment while working out, which makes them more likely to keep exercising. 

Have you always wanted a career in fitness or did your aspirations lie elsewhere?

I only teach classes I am truly passionate about and so can deliver with heart and soul. Body Combat is my absolute favourite, it’s an incredibly exhilarating class and the reason I have a career in fitness. I also love Body Pump and Body Balance, which have big performance elements on my part, and then my own freestyle HIIT cycle and a complete switch to my outdoor bootcamp, which is community driven, social and requires very creative planning to keep it super interactive for members. 
I love exercises and movements that use the whole body – never ever got the hang of machines. The feeling of moving your own bodyweight around is incredible, and that feeling of having worked all over at the end of a session is the best. 

Must admit, when exercising, I hate doing “burpees” … even more than push ups!! Which exercise do you dislike the most? 

Well the one that’s beating me hard at the moment is pull ups. I’ve had a few years of issues with my right arm which stopped me being able to pull my bodyweight, but in lockdown Ras has challenged me to do his workouts, and those rings are just kicking my ass! Anything I hate though I know is an opportunity to push my comfort zone and I love the feeling of conquering a problem though, so I’ll keep hanging off them and swearing through negatives until I’m able to pull properly again!

Back to the app, how difficult was it to organise the sound effects, storyline and to choreograph the exercises to create the effect that you wanted to create? 

Just after we recorded the original test episode, Hardman’s Army, I met Ras, who is a singer, composer and audio producer. I dated and then married my audio producer! That made life a LOT easier 😉
We got lucky with a recommendation from a friend to Adam Hay, a BAFTA award winning game sound designer, who did the sound effects on Part 1. I sent him scripts, he sent me back amazing sounds, and Ras mixed those in with the dialogue and music (which is SUPER complicated). 
The storyline took ages, and I actually rewrote episode 1 about a dozen times. We recorded and edited two or three versions before the one on the app, and it’s still the episode I wince the most about. The storyline itself came out of a throwaway line from Hardman’s Army about a city being completely destroyed by aliens – that was the obvious place to start (although it took a friend to point that out to me!). Finding a story frame that allowed us to put in the Strength and Control episodes with the Speed episodes, in a reasonably natural way, was also very challenging. 
The Control (yoga/stretch) episodes were the hardest. I think I wrote 4 full scripts and we definitely recorded and edited that three times to get to what’s on the app. I had to keep simplifying and simplifying, because the app is primarily an audio experience and so it’s essential that anyone could follow the exercises, largely by audio cue only (there’s also a player screen on the app for visual reference). 
Now that I’m making TALON: Lockdown, a video based workout series as a leader to the app, I’m having a ball because they are visual workouts, so I can work so much more with the music! My only worry with Lockdown is that people who come to the app from the video workouts might prefer the video workouts (even though the app story, audio design and characterisation is far superior – plus you’re the main character of the app, and only implicitly present in the video workouts). 

Having downloaded the app & tried it out myself ( the running part at any rate) I was impressed by the clear instructions in my ear. It certainly made it a different experience than running with music in the background. What other workout options are on the app and what levels of fitness do you cover?

The story progresses episodically over three types of workout, what we term Speed, Strength and Control. This means episode 1 is a running workout, 2 is a bodyweight circuit workout, 3 is a yoga stretch workout and then 4 is back to running, and so on. 
The Strength and Control episodes have Intro and Advanced options to select at the start, which determines which level of each exercise is shown to you on the player. Then, within the story, we have characters of different abilities, who are all taught to. This is exactly the same as a group exercise class, where I need to coach to the super fit 20 year old and then the middle aged person who hasn’t exercised in 10 years. But we can do that through character, within the story, which is super fun. The hope is that most users will find themselves recognisably represented by one of the characters, and will follow the coaching directed to them. 
While the episodes are of fixed duration (as they’re essentially radio plays), meaning the workouts are all around 30 mins length, your ‘handler’, Skyler, who is like your best friend and personal cheerleader, spends a lot of time assuring you that you only need to do what you can, and assuring you that it’s ok to take breaks. I can DIE doing the circuit episodes by pushing very hard,  but also people who are not fit can get through them by pacing themselves. That’s the convenience of programming to time intervals – everyone can work their own pace within that time. 

Why did you specifically pick an apocalypse survival story as your app? What came first – the idea for the story or the workouts for a story to fit around?

Hardman’s Army, a test episode to see if I could write a fitness audio drama, came first. It was a circuit workout in the story frame of the whole world has been sent to the army to be trained for an alien invasion, and most people don’t want to be there (which made the characters sympathetic to users who don’t like exercising – everything they would be thinking, a character was actually saying!). That tested really well. 
Then I wanted to test a concept: that multiple types of exercise could be put to story. At that time, Zombies, Run! was starting to gain traction, but it was only running. So I didn’t really want to do running, BUT I needed a vivid plot/concept, and people ‘got’ the idea of story based running better than say story based circuits! 
I did a request on my Facebook for gripping titles – AST was actually called ‘Catalyst’ right up through the first video we shot for the kickstarter, at which point a friend Dig rang me and was like ‘Adele, you have to fix the name.’ There were dozens and dozens of comments and we ended up crowd sourcing the title Apocalypse Survival Training. I mean, it’s vivid, right? And the story was built around this challenge of incorporating 3 types of workout: running, bodyweight strength, and flexibility. We termed it as ‘giving you the speed, strength and control you need to get Apocalypse Ready!’ which was fun.

As you are based in London, is your app available to download worldwide, iOS & Android?  

Yes, world wide, although the dialogue with its many accents I think would be very difficult to follow to people who are not native English speakers. Everyone said do iOS first, one of my mentors had an Android phone and I really wanted to be able to make the kickstarter for everyone, so committed to doing both. HUGE mistake, which we’re still paying for! I would now also advise anyone else to do iOS native first. 

Personal now, what outfits/footwear would you normally wear?

Leggings, EVERYWHERE. I’m so lazy. I have one or two fav tops at a time and they’re all I wear when I can. Because almost every day involves teaching, I’m usually in my sports gear from the morning, save changing later. I work from home or cafes in the area, there’s no office or dress code so convenience and comfort are the name of the game! 

Boots Or Shoes?

Boots – or trainers! Boots look better with leggings than any shoe other than sneakers 😉 

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more about Apocalypse Survival Training

ANDROID app: http://bit.ly/2wCsy9ziOS app: https://apple.co/31fgzg4Promo Video: https://youtu.be/hyUqsP-3bo8Web: https://www.apocalypsesurvivaltraining.com/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/apcocalypsesurvivaltraining/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/a.s.t_fitness_app/TALON: Lockdown Ep 1: https://bit.ly/TALONep1

Many thanks for the interview Adele. I hope Adele’s app has given you, dear readers, the encouragement to get up and train, apocalyptic style!

Linda x

Photographs by Richard Wakefield and Sean Kelly, published with kind permission of Adele Andersen.

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