Thursday, 5 May 2011

'Cool Dude' clothes for the elderly

We all have complained about the fashion industry not catering for the still young 40+ lady. One either becomes laughing stock featuring the 'I'm desperately young look' wearing teenage clothing, or is doomed to follow the silver poodle approach displaying dignity grey perm, and pale blue floral skirt with differently floral knitted top, we might get away with purple during days we feel adventurous. The only way out seems to be 'American high society' featuring the business suit for work, and shift dress with pearl necklace for the rest of it. I now decided to go for the laughing stock version but raised it to a different level in recruiting my wardrobe mainly in the goth shops of Camden Market. The trick lies in not to be bothered about what the others think. It's cheap, it can be dolled up and toned down, and most importantly: It's a lot of fun!

Now it turns out that men have the same problem. This half decade between 45 and 50 seems to be a crucial period which determines future style and hubby was determined to not give in to a future with a belt line lies above the bellybutton, pyjama striped shirts, and pink polo shirts for the adventurous days.

Jeans wise he always was a Levi's man clinging to the good old 501 baggy ones. Gentlemen, give the boot cut a try or even a slim line, they are cut quite comfortably these days and the materials are better balanced. It makes a hell of a difference. And then the question of shirts. Oh my goodness.... so much lumberjack and surf (the equivalent of beach holiday for ladies) going on. But there are gems around. Check out Zara and River Island for guys - Yes! There is a Zara for guys. And the catalog for shirts even shows the different versions how shirts are supposed to be worn these days. BTW: Great source for leather jackets is 187 Portobello Road, London

And there is good news for bodybuilding ladies featuring round rear, big legs and strong arms.  GAP guys and Zara men have small sizes in their range and the latter use stretchy materials. I eventually found shorts (GAP) and blouses/shirts (Zara) that fit me. Perfect for my jungle trip, and they look better on me. Ha!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Beauty for Oldies

And another Good Morning to you! This again will be a bit of a hectic day, so that I decided to present you with other people's wisdom, rather than mine.

Yesterday I had to be rather glamorous for Red Nose Day and I dared a make-up with a lot of silvery greens and dark eyebrows. I think it worked rather well with the dark top hat, but was utterly scary without it.

So today I have a photo shoot and I am after dark and moody. Hmmm?!? Will have to see how that goes.

What I found on my quest for inspiration were videos containing make-up advice from Lisa Eldridge who is a professional make-up artist. I think she is brilliant and she is somebody who eventually addresses the matter of older skin and slipping eyelids.

So here are the links to her work:
Lisa Eldridge: Anti Ageing Make-up tips - Foundation - Concealer - Powder - Blush
Lisa Eldridge: Anti Ageing Make-up tips - Eyes - Brows - Lips

Gotta crack on now collecting my clothes and props.
Have a fantastic weekend, and don't be dull!

Ta ta

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Tummy & Co

First published in 2009 as Lifestyle article. In the new ILP setup however, it fits better into the Health and Beauty section.

Tummy, ABS, Stomach, Midriff, Waist and Belly, only boobs and willies carry more names and thus we seem to consider it the third most important part of our bodies, most of the time it being a nuisance. This alone I felt was incentive enough to write another article on the matter, but now I am receiving an increasing amount of emails, commenting on my tummy videos with a cry for more help.

Apparently I have become some sort of authority for the midriff area and as you all know: I am vain! So let me indulge in a bit more of lecturing.

Actually, there is no difference between belly fat and the wobbly bits arranged on other areas, except of one though, and that is age related. Over time legs get thinner, while bellies get bigger. ‘Leg’ people might become ‘tummy’ people – or more likely both, while ‘tummy’ people will become bigger ‘tummy’ people.


But not all tummies look the same. Especially from India I get emails saying that they are generally thin just calling some fat around the middle their own. In Europe it is often combined with a bit of overall chubbiness, and for English gals it usually goes along with huge boobs. Generally one can assume that the ladies have it sitting more on the hips extending into the rear while the boys just grow towards the front.

So the different types of fat distribution seem to be firstly a matter of culture – a lot of Indian people are small framed – and a matter of gender.

Women are supposed to carry weight around their bum and legs as energy stores during their period of fertility. Around the bottom area it doesn’t pose as much of a threat for the cardio system, as it does when accumulated in the upper body - hence the higher mortality rate of overweight men. Once the lady is past her best off date and fertility is not the issue anymore, the fat all of a sudden subsides from the legs and due to reduced energy needs, it beginning to accumulate around the belly.

Given all these differences it becomes obvious that there is no single simple solution… well, there is a single solution, but unfortunately it is not simple! 

About Quick fixes
The one thing you will not get from me is quick fixes, because there aren’t any which work for good. Quick fixes not just only don’t work, they have a huge negative impact on the confidence. Every quick fix that backfires is conceived as a failure and makes things even harder the next time round.

So before you start into a weight loss, fitness programme you have to ask yourself if you want a short term solution like needing to fit into that dress and not bothering afterwards, or if you want a change for good.
I am not judging: Both are valid reasons! I am just saying – if it is the first one, then I am not the best person to ask advice from. However as long as you know what you want and not expecting more then this is absolutely OK.

If you are hoping for a long term solution, then you have to make your peace with the fact that you will have to change your life. You will have to make time! Time, that you will have to take away from other areas, and that means that you will change your life in a way that it affects other people. You will have to be strong, determined, selfish and stubborn at times. If you embark on the journey in that frame of mind you already have come a long way. I only discovered it as I went along and the insight sometimes threw me off my course.

The Path
Following somebody else’s rules is like living somebody else’s life. We are all individuals and much too different in our physical and psychological set up. The only advice you should take on from this whole article is:
Find your own way!
Told you! No simple solution! 

Finding your own way does not mean that you are alone, though. There are so many things which influence the outcome: Food, sport, time and lifestyle in general.

I see this as a journey during which I try things out. The gym and the kitchen are my laboratories and I am my guinea-pig. Listening to others, observing, making sense of it - so many things sound incredible but don't really fit the picture - testing out the promising ones and taking on board what works while discarding the rest.
This implicates that one has to develop a certain pleasure for playing with stuff, a genuine interest into the own body and life altogether.

The most critical ingredient for the recipe is time. A lot of things which could work are going down the drain because of the ‘time issue’. Be honest, how often did you hear or even used this reason yourself for NOT doing something. However, when things are starting to fall into place one might even find that some of the time invested is now flowing back.

It starts with the body
My top credo is: You only can work with your body and not against it!

This is what all the quick fixes ignore. They are overriding one mechanism of the whole chain of events which is taking place in the body, creating a short cut.  But the body is smart, it balances it out by adapting the other mechanisms and everything goes back to normal. This way quick fixes only create a short term success plus a huge negative impact: Now the whole system is working on a different level, the body has learned something about your behaviour and will outsmart you faster the next time.

So the task is to learn the rules of the game that your body is playing.

Playing the game
Meet the players


Fat Energy

Learn the rules

  1. Every single cell in the body, whether it is fat of muscle, burns energy
  2. Calories is the name for the energy (actually it is a unit with which the energy is measured, but let’s not get too scientific)
  3. Food is energy that goes in
  4. Movement is energy that comes out
  5. The body needs a basic amount of energy to sustain life (basic metabolism), that is the energy burnt in the cells when you rest
  6. The basic metabolism of an average person is about 1300 calories (depending on number of cells)
  7. Usual daily activity, walking, sitting, thinking, housework increases total calories needed to aproximately 2000 for women, 2300 for men - not fair, I know!
  8. Muscle cells need more energy than fat cells – you might want to remember that one!
  9. 1kg of fat is worth 7000 calories - Eeek!
  10. Muscle as well as fat are the energy storages of the body
  11. When calorie (energy) intake is reduced during diet, the muscle is more likely to be used to make up for the difference than fat… this is the meanest rule of all!
  12. Muscles are not just moving and bringing us from A to B. When stressed (like during sport) they produce all sorts of chemicals which make the mechanisms of the body work well together.
  13. Skin is shrinking slower than the fat cells
    … and what do we learn from that?

    It is good to have a lot of cells – just not fatty ones
    - the body needs a minimum amount of fat to be sustainable, though -
    Fat people often claim that they have a low metabolism – cannot be true (see above): Compared to a slim person they have just too many cells (this was actually measured in an experiment during a TV show)

    Success comes slowly – that’s what your skin is telling you
    Fat cells do not vanish evenly, and they do not vanish from the places you want them to vanish from. It is up to the body to choose the cell that goes, and the body has no beauty conscience! It usually does it in patches causing orange peel. And the skin which usually would hold it all tight, becomes saggy and needs time to shrink.

    Hence one has to live with the fact that there will be a period of time when the scale and the waistband say ‘Yippee!’ while the mirror insists that one looks more horrible than ever before. Patience is key during these times, enhancing blood flow by exercise, good skin care and going ahead slowly, slowly… The slower the process, the better the chances the skin will get tight again.

    The more cells we lose the harder it gets – that is so mean
    Well, we don’t actually lose fat cells they just shrivel away and go to sleep. However, the fewer awake cells we remain from dieting, the less energy we need, so we would have to diet even harder. Low fat content is almost impossible to sustain just by dieting and the diet would quickly become imbalanced and unhealthy.

    The harder it gets the more muscle is used up – even meaner
    It’s much easier for the body to use muscle rather than fat when on a diet. That is why diets make us feel weak. The closer the daily calories get to the basic metabolism (that is the 1300 calories mentioned above) the more it nips into the muscles and not the fat. A lot of  those ‘Lose 5kg in 2 weeks’ diets suggest around 1000 calories per day. A few things they don’t tell you, though:
    • The diet usually does not contain salt, so the body instantly loses at least 2kg of water worth a kilo each. Even if you drink a lot – what is good, in a way – the body can’t keep it in, it goes straight through… Yay! 2 days - two kilos - unfortunately no fat, just water.
    • Usually you are asked to drink at least 2l of plain water. When you drink too much of it you are even draining more salts from your body, dehydrating even more. In the end you may have lost about 3kg of water which was previously stored in your cells.
    • 1 kilo of fat is worth 7000 calories. If the diet reduces calories from 2000 to 1000 per day one can lose a kilo in one week – However, 1000 is far below the basic metabolism and thus one will lose mainly muscle and not fat. Additionally muscle is heavier than fat, so on the scale this will look really great.
    • One might feel great because the psychological effect is so big and one might eventually fit back into this particular piece of clothing. But two weeks is about the limit that the body can take this. One will be happy that it is over and will gradually fall back into the old habits. Water will come back on first, and then fat will build up.
    Wait a minute! We just established that mainly muscle will be gone… and now fat is building up? That would mean that with every extreme diet I am replacing muscle with fat cells…

    Yep! That is how it works! 

    All the above accumulates in one fact:

    The only sustainable way to manage the energy levels for the body and to encourage the skin to become tight again is to replace fat cells by muscle cells – and not the other way round.

    And that means Sport
    What brings us back to:

    Determination ...
    Try out everything! Go running, take up dance classes, do boxing, rowing, weight lifting, swimming, cycling, do it in a Gym, with friends, alone,… but don’t give in. We have this perception of people doing their sport regularly without faltering – and they are the good ones. Rubbish!

    I am not a cardio person, so I have developed a cycle throughout the year which keeps me going. I hate running, but in spring I am yearning the fresh air and for a short period of time I go out for runs with a friend, although I like doing things alone – running I only do with her. Then my enthusiasm fades and I go back to indoor rowing. I like to try out classes, although I hate having to be some place on time, parking car, not forgetting half my kit. I am still hoping to find one that I really like. The thing I continuously do is my Bodybuilding, but even there I have times of lesser performance. The important thing is that I pick it up time and time again.

    Time and selfishness ...
    Consider yourself as important as everybody else in your family! I see so many mums devoted to their children, scared the kids might miss out on something should she fail to be the perfect chauffeur to the various events the little ones are booked to. However, in all the well meaning she might forget what kind of example she is setting:

    Son: Look for a wife that is a similar idiot as I am. She should take it all on her shoulders and the lack of responsibility I taught you, she should respect.

    Daughter: Be the same obedient idiot that I am and take it all on your shoulders, otherwise you never will get a husband. And because life will get hard for you soon enough, let me spoil you rotten.


    I do acknowledge that parents wish the best of headstarts for their kids, but it will be you to decide how much sacrifice you are willing to give. If you are an unhappy bundle of a person... it might be time to get the rest of the family into the boat. I don’t say it is easy, but if you want to succeed you have to find this me-time. However, who am I to advice? You chose to embark on the journey, you will have to find your own way! 

    Experiments …
    If I would call myself experimental in my choices of sport, I wouldn’t know what to call my kitchen activities. There was a time when I stopped cooking altogether. It was one of my favourite hobbies, another one is eating! I had a rather reduced fun-less diet which made me realise that I actually did lose weight, but that I never would sustain this. 

    So, I went back into the kitchen and started to play with food, stripped my original recipes and swapped ingredients until it was a healthier fun dish again. Now I have a list of ingredients I can live with for good and from which I can derive new recipes whenever I feel like it, I have an array of sports interests which I am attending to whenever and however it suits my lifestyle and I have a few tricks to bring me back on track should I slip, like the Sugar Experiment.

    To wrap it up!
    I set out to write a sport article and again it became a lifestyle one. As usual I am addressing women - we are a ladies website after all - but again, everything applies to our better halves as well. As a matter of fact some of the emails I get are from male online friends and I am proud and happy that they trust my expertise. Apart from a bit of testosterone we are not really that different, the mechanisms are the same: One cannot separate sport, from nutrition, from other lifestyle choices. That is as true for men as it is for women. So again it turns out:

    We are sitting in one boat,
    all we have to do is to choose a direction!

    Related Links:

    Wednesday, 9 February 2011

    Iron Ladies

    first published in 2009

    There is a difference between being tired and fatigue. Everybody is getting tired at the end of the day, and once in a while we still are in the mornings after a too short night of sleep. We may feel like an afternoon nap, or a lie in – that’s all rather normal. 

    Why so tired?
    With fatigue I mean feeling constantly worn down. Being tired even when the night was long enough; the feeling that although the sleep was deep and dreamless one hasn’t slept at all. One is able to get through the daily tasks, even finds a laugh when chatting with the girls, but there is always this feeling of having to push through; there is no natural flow, one is clumsy and forgetful and creativity has left the brain.

    So one is checking the calendar and is somewhat relieved to see that it is ‘the week before’. Thank God, it’s just one of those months, and there will be payback time: When this will be over the sun usually is shining a bit brighter, even. But not this time! So the search continues: Well, a lot of people have a cold: I may come down with something; it’s almost spring: This change of seasonal climate is stressful on the body and one is worn down by central heating and lack of oxygen. 

    I need a pill!
    The re-installed power walking sessions, however and the garden work are not helping, in contrary: Instead of a rosy, fresh air complexion I look grey like an old bed sheet, the hair is lifeless, and I only have to look at food for it to appear on my thighs. The head clouds are getting bigger and the workload that lies ahead becomes ever more overwhelming: One already has to think about summer holidays and it’s only those few month to squeeze everything in – the garden, Easter, some travels to see family, preparing the BBQ place to be ready for the May Bank Holidays, sport definitely needs picking up and sh... the windows and the garden fence need painting, and all I want to do is to sit in my armchair with biscuits and tea and stare at the wall – even choosing a movie from the DVD collection is too much of a decision. It would be so great to have a pill to make it all go away. Well, maybe there is one: 

    Iron is needed to build the haemoglobin in the red blood cells, and that is the stuff which is transporting the oxygen that we breathe in, into to cells of the body where it gets burnt and turned into energy, so that the cell can do its job.

    How it works
    The burning process is using the same principles like a fireplace. In order to heat a room or cook some food two things are needed: a fuel like gas or coal and oxygen. Trying to light the fuel in a vacuum won’t work as the oxygen is missing; there has to be oxygen to turn the fuel into energy. This can easily be observed when extinguishing a candle with a candle snuffer. As soon as it is put over the candle, the flame uses the leftovers of the oxygen and then just stops burning.

    This mechanism explains where the lack of energy comes from when iron is missing in the body. Iron means oxygen and if it is missing our fire has gone out or is about to, hence the body wants to save the meagre remains for vital organs, goes into energy saving mode and tries to put us to sleep. Additionally it signals for help. Once in a while it might make the heart work hard in the hope to get more blood pumped and hence more oxygen supplied - one then can feel the beat scarily loud and clear, or it may ask for fuel, meaning food, sometimes in the shape of weird cravings. Well, and since the body won’t waste energy to keep skin and hair nice, one might become rather flaky and ‘beige’. Although the typical pale complexion of an anaemic will come at a later stage.

    Oh, what a bad combination: Wanting nothing more than hanging around and eating. So why on earth do we lose iron? It’s something really rather solid, how does it leave the body? 

    When things go wrong
    The iron lives in the red blood cells, which when everything goes right, live around 3-4 months and then get recycled and rebuild, if something goes wrong the iron gets lost. There are five main mechanisms involved in the iron trade where things can go wrong:
    • the body is not able to build enough red blood cells to replace the dying ones  – then something is usually wrong with the bone marrow,
    • the body is not able to absorb the iron that it gets delivered with the food – then something is wrong with the intestines, similar to celiac disease,

    • the body is in need for more iron, like during pregnancy,

    • the body is losing a huge amount of blood, like during an accident or operation, or

    • the body is losing small amounts of blood, like during menstruation.
    Regarding the first two, one would not just feel a bit off whack but rather sick. The underlying condition would cause further symptoms and doctors will take care of the situation. Additionally the symptom would probably appear rather quickly. The same is true for pregnancy during which iron levels should be monitored and balance out. 

    Balanced Diet
    Well, when losing a large amount of blood the iron levels are usually the least of ones problems; this period thing however is very, very sneaky! Every month one is losing just a tad bit of iron, and although a lot of information sources are claiming that with a balanced diet one should have replaced the missing bits by the end of the cycle, I personally cannot confirm that. ‘Balanced’ for health people usually means ‘utterly healthy’.

    In my book ‘balanced’ reads as ‘mostly being a good girl, but liking my coffees and teas and dairies’ – and those are all things that inhibit iron to be consumed by the body. Meaning that one can eat as much as one likes, but the body can’t use it because a lot of Chemistry goes on between the iron and the foods and hence it is passed straight through the intestines and does not get digested as it should be. Additionally iron from food sources comes in all sorts if chemical compounds and the body is rather specific about which ones it wants. Just nibbling a rusty nail as suggested by some urban myths won’t do the trick. 

    A warning!
    Well, and then of course one has to give a warning that too much iron can be harmful, and even if some additional intake is indicated it may upset the stomach or cause indigestion. Hence I am taking this little pill before I go to sleep when my stomach is not entirely empty, but there is enough time between food and iron intake to not have the two interfere with each other. 

    My experience
    I stumbled across iron a good two decades ago. I was young, I was healthy and I was tired down to depression. At that time I was researching vitamins to find out if they could have a positive impact on my allergies (which some of them have), and when I read the list of symptoms for iron deficiency I thought I had a mirror held to my face.

    So I gave it a shot, didn’t have any side effects except of a bit of indigestion for a couple of days until the body got used to it, and felt an improvement instantly. After two days my energy came back and within a week I was my old self again.

    I took a six week course as advised on the pack and then a couple of years later I ran into the same trap. It happens so slowly that one doesn’t realise it. Other conditions like sleep deprivation due too much partying, work or a cold can have a similar effect and hide the real cause. Again I took the pills  with the same outcome: Instant relief!

    I then checked with my GP, got off the drug for a month, had the blood levels measured which were in the lower third of the range – so nothing bothersome or unusual – but I already felt the lack again. He then confirmed that should I feel like needing it, I could take this low dose continuously without causing any harm. He as well told me that some people react to lower levels earlier than others, something that I found confirmed in the book ‘Well-being for Women’ by Helen Lawrence (Geddes & Grosset, 2004, p.18)

    Regarding the duration of the course it seems that my body is telling me when enough is enough. I tend to all of a sudden forget taking them, so I am stopping intake altogether until the next time when I am wondering why I am so tired and if I might have caught a cold... 

    Will I ever learn?
    This time round I was so proud to have survived Christmas well and thought that this would give me a brilliant head start into summer. Ha, I’d wished! Mid January I started feeling a bit drained, beginning February I had my holidays when I usually slip horribly food wise – what is ok as I am preparing for it – and after that I crushed. I didn’t realise what was going on until mid March when the downhill trend became more and more obvious. Within these six weeks my weight went up about 3 kg adding an additional 21,000 calories to my diet which I now have to get rid of again. If somebody however would have dared saying a word about my biscuit consumption, I would have gathered the last of my strength and would have gone for a kill. There was no control whatsoever. Now three days in I am back to my normal diet without any problems, liking my salt less bread, the eggs and bananas.

    Well apparently I am an iron lady in many ways!

    Monday, 3 January 2011

    Seasonal Nuisances

    first published in 2008

    During the past half year I haven’t been watching the telly a lot, but now that there was the Christmas break I had a bit of slouch time around my hands, and have been just hanging around in my beloved armchair, zapping through the channels. And all of a sudden something that I knew, that everybody knows, which even has become a cliché, hit home. Now that I looked at everything in a more analysing way I realised HOW rubbish these adverts are. Right before Christmas it’s all about fragrance, toys and food. But bang on New Years day it’s all about slimming down.

    I’m writing this because: Please, please, please! Don’t fall into those advert traps. I’m going to make it as vivid as possible to remind you that these people want to sell something; they are not the least bit interested into your wellbeing! We know it! Of course we know it! But, could be working, couldn’t it? Might be … would be so wonderful if it would…

    Remember, all the food adverts, the sauces pouring in slow motion from spoons onto caramelised somethings and glazed don’tknowwhats getting flamed with brandy. Tables bending under the weight of the food and everybody is so happy. Nobody is bloated or overeating or overweight. And then WHAM! ...You have to fit into those jeans which are two numbers too small. Buy a bigger one, for crying out loud!

    Did you ever manage to read the thin line written under the Kellogs advert. The one where an actually not too chubby lady tries to get to her lovely red shoes while wearing these damn jeans. It only shows for a brief moment and reads something like: Only if eaten alongside a sensible diet. Sweetheart, if I’m eating a sensible diet then I lose weight anyway, then I don’t need to spoil my day with that stuff.

    However, the advert which made me really furious was about some pharmacy which sells scales and devices to measure the body fat – from £9.99. We have such a thing, and it’s not working! There is a lot of black magic around these measurements, I can’t even list where all the hiccups are lying. But Detlef researched it, and he is pretty darn good in these things. He explained it to me when we got this thing as sort of an experiment, and it was so much to learn about it that I forgot half of it instantly.

    We got it when we realised that we actually improved our shape without changing weight, and wanted to see if it is possible to measure that we gained muscle and lost fat. And this thing is measuring the weirdest numbers. Especially in me being a woman. It gives you percentages of fat, muscle and water. However, throughout the cycle I retain or lose about 3 lbs of water. As a body can’t be more than 100% - if water goes up the others must come down. Losing the water, all of a sudden the fat shoots up again. Probably one might see realistic changes with only using it once a quarter. But that’s not what we do, is it? We are told that we have to lose the weight NOW, QUICKLY and that this is the device to help.

    Probably I should do my own advert at this point and remind you of some of my older articles: Have a look at ‘The Way We Are’ and ‘The Little Tale’ which hopefully will become a starting point for a healthier perception of yourselves. I know: It’s a bit of a contradiction of me telling you to start believing into yourselves and stop listening to others…

    So listen one more time … You have it all in you already! If you are honest to yourselves, sitting alone in a cosy corner with your favourite drink and dimmed lights … then you know what you want, what you need and what you have to do to get it!

    Nobody needs to tell you that, you just will know. Lucky you if you find that you are absolutely fine with the way your life goes, for all the others usually the scary bit is the: ‘What you have to do to get it’ part. There are all these ‘BUTs’ that might make you stop thinking about it, before you even started. You might have to change your lifestyle, have to be hard on others in order to find the time, have to ask for help or at least moral support, your social environment might change, and if you fail there is embarrassment involved. And it will be hard work, nothing to be done in a jiffy – and, the scariest thing of all: It will never end!

    To be successful you will have to commit to it for good!

    But you know what? If you are really true to yourself, than this last one is the ONLY real hiccup holding you back. It’s a big one, I admit. However, if you feel a true commitment to your quest, all the other things will fade. They still need dealing with, but they CAN be dealt with because YOU WANT to. All it really needs is ‘That you want to!’

    And no product in the world, however expensive, will be able to help you to get to that state of mind!

    What are you still doing here? You promised me to follow your own instincts. Off you go into your cosy corner, get your drink, dim the light and start thinking and dreaming!

    Well, and when you have come to a conclusion … you might want to consider browsing through the lifestyle section to get some ideas on where to start, and the nutrition and sport section might give you some inspiration as well. And when you get an idea which I didn’t come up with: Write it down! And send it to me!

    Monday, 20 December 2010

    Head Cold

    I don't know if this word exists, but I think it should. I mean this type of cold where the head feels heavy and like a pressure cooker between the eyes, one is really really tired and the nose is running although it is blocked.
    It starts with a bit of sneezing and feeling knackered and then things go very quickly until one feels like hit by a train.
    Chest cold is different, it starts with a bit of a sore throat and possibly a swollen gland, a bit of coughing and then if it is getting really bad the voice goes entirely.
    I'm not really interested in what sort of virus or bacteria is causing it, I only want to get rid of them - quickly.
    Rule of Thumb
    There is one rough rule of thumb, though: First symptoms are usually caused by virus, at that time everything slippery flowing from nose and throat is rather clear. That's when doctors say: Go home and have a rest. The silly virus the body has to fight off all by itself, the only thing possible is to give the body some support.
    Everything yellowish is usually caused by bacteria which were happy to find a body with a virus damaged immune system. It's a bit as if you just fought off a pack of wolves and now the vultures are closing in.
    So if a cold stays for several days without getting better and then turning yellow, it's time to see the doctor. Vultures can be fought off by antibiotics.
    This article is not really scientific and entirely based on my experience. I just thought I'd let you know what helped me well.
    My Diagnosis
    Head Cold as depicted above
    Avoiding bacteria!
    Reduce number of virus!

    Avoiding Bacteria

    Yay, that is the easiest bit. Just don't go where they are. Well, I know it's almost impossible to do so when you have kids. But seriously:
    Don't go to work!
    There is no point in getting into contact with more people than necessary. There are at least a few who will carry a nasty bug. And it's a bit unfair as well to spread your virus.
    Avoid the doctors!
    That's the place where wolves and vultures feel at their happiest. I wouldn't go close to a waiting room unless my sinuses were blocked with custard. By then it can't get worse anyway. But not a second earlier.

    Fighting the Virus

    There are two types of measures. One is to support the immune system so it can fight the virus better, the other is to actively reduce the number of virus that sit on and in the body.

    Supporting the Immune System

    Have a rest whenever possible! It is amazing what a bit of sleep can do for you. The body just doesn't have to bother about keeping temperature and heart rate and everything else at bay. So all the energy that is available can be used to build immune cells which will be able to attack and digest the virus.

    Eat and drink healthily! Well you should do that anyway, but at times of illness the body usually signals needs by having certain cravings - mostly salty things like soup - so it should have it.

    Have a lot of Vit C!
    I hit two flies with one stone by having Multivitamin drink with added Vit C powder. I take 1g of Vit C three times a day. The powder I get from Germany online, unfortunately the site is in German.

    Alternatively almost every food store has some kind of a chewable pill, usually in a 500mg dosage.

    Have Paracetamol!
    Paracetamol has a bit of an inflammatory feature, which helps infected sinuses and since the whole thing usually goes along with a headache anyway, it is quite a relief.
    Be careful when you use Lemsip to drink. There is at least one version that already has Paracetamol in it. Read the labels for the daily dose and then make sure you won't overdose from using different sources of Paracetamol.

    Reducing the Number of Viruses

    Now that are the fun bits. The place where these buggers can be found is naturally in the sinuses and the mouth area - which are not easily cleaned. Unfortunately they are sitting inside, hence cleaning materials have to get there.
    Although I don't like them very much I use nose drops to keep the nose unblocked. Aeration is important and debris has to be able to come out and transport virus and bacteria with it. One just has to be aware that nose drops can be addictive and can cause congestion when overused. So when the cold is gone, see to get rid of them as quickly as possible.
    Inhalation! Steam is a really good cleaning material for every cavity.
    One either can take a bowl with hot (not boiling) water with a camomile tea bag, some rosemary, sage and/or thyme twigs, hang the head above the bowl with a towel thrown over the whole set up to create a tent. And then breathe and enjoy.
    Or you can get a device from a pharmacy which consists of a bowl where the water goes in, and a top bit with a nozzle kind of thing to put the nose into. With the ball one can puff a bit of air into the water so that steam rises through the nozzle.

    I personally don't like that thing because I tend to not keep it upright when sitting comfortably - with the result that the water keeps pouring over me since the two parts of it are not properly sealed against each other.

    Or you can do my brutal method of using a knob of VapoRub, a glass half full with hot water and a bunch of tissues - you will need them, believe me. It's a bit of a killer therapy, but the only one that really works for me.

    Once the VapoRub is in the water, take a deep slow breath in with one nostril blocked, breath out through the mouth and not above the glass to not blow the vapour away. Then it's the turn of the other nostril, and then breath in through the mouth. Do three to four times. By then the eyes are watering like a waterfall, one is sniffing and coughing and the vapours are gone.

    It sometimes is really hurtful when there are infected areas. But I go through with it thinking: Die you bastards!

    It usually is a bit messy to get rid of the glass with the oily stuff in it. So I put the spoon with which I put it into the water - use the wrong end, it's easier to handle - I put this spoon back in and let the water cool down. Then a thin layer of the rub base can be lifted off the surface and wiped off with a tissue, the rest is just plain water.

    I try to do this twice a day.

    Tongue Cleaning!
    Oh well, nobody said that this is a nice subject. There are these ridiculous devices with which one is supposed to scrape off yukky bits from the back of the tongue.
    They were invented to prevent bad breath. The stuff that accumulates at the end of the reachable bit of the tongue usually doesn't come off from brushing teeth or using mouthwash and bacteria from food predigestion settle there and stink. Well, and this is a brilliant place for our viruses to take base camp. So be prepared for some gagging.
    BTW: I got mine from the dentist and it is metal. The plastic ones from the super stores were not really functional and are a bit wobbly and hard to manoeuvre.

    Nasal Wash!
    That is the most disgusting thing of all. Wikipedia has it's own more sophisticated account, here is mine:
    The idea is to have water flowing into one nostril, from there into the sinuses and coming out the other nostril. Under certain conditions it goes the other way round and ends up in the throat.
    Especially if done with salt water, what is very efficient since none of the buggers (virus, bacteria, fungus even) like salt. Hence the craving for salty food.
    So there are these devices you can get from the pharmacy which work like a little syphon. One teaspoon sea salt (with no additives) dissolved in warm water. The lower end popped into one nostril, stay as upright as possible, breath through the mouth and wait for a bit - you'll see!
    Our bottle is rather good. It has a hole in the lid so it can be locked with a finger tip and with a bit of pressure the water flow can be adjusted. In the first picture it is upside down that is how I dry it.
    On bending the head towards one side, or when the outgoing nostril is blocked the water flows to the throat. It's horrible, but I always allow that for a bit so the salt gets everywhere.
    In the second picture it is locked, so no water comes out. To use, the green bit can be bent upward and a round knob to fit the nostril needs to be attached.

    Well, it is all rather horrible, but it works. It's all better than ending up with a custard nose. However, best is to not get a cold at all.

    Wishing you a healthy winter season!