CFS: How can you manage it?

Managing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 

Words by a wonderful woman who suffers with CFS herself

I’ve always packed as much into my life as is humanly possible. I would be running from one rehearsal to the next at school as I insisted on being in two plays at the same time. Not to mention choir practice, jazz band, sports; you name it, I was involved in it. You can imagine how unsettled I became at University when my body seemed determined to stop me doing everything I wanted, as I suffered from severe tiredness and joint pain. After a year of blood tests and Doctors appointments in 2008 I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). It is estimated that around 150,000 people in the UK have CFS and diagnosis is not simple. This attack on the nervous system causes extreme exhaustion, muscle/joint aches and does not go away with rest. In severe cases of CFS, it can be completely debilitating. It often targets those with hectic lives and may be related to viral infections from your youth (I had glandular fever at school). With the way I had been feeling, I was glad to know it wasn’t something more serious but I was deflated when I heard from my GP that technically there was ‘no cure’. I was told I had to take a step back and do less of everything, which I found incomprehensible. The good news was I did not have CFS in its most severe form and I was comforted to hear about people who had learnt to manage with the condition and had eventually fully recovered.

Now, four years on and after a lot of lifestyle trial and error, I want to share some tips that have helped me. By making some changes and learning how to manage and pace my lifestyle, I am now even able to run my own online business and feel as healthy and happy as ever.

Exercise – the worst assumption I made was that exercise should be avoided – it is in fact the complete opposite, introducing moderate exercise has been a huge benefit. I was advised to undertake graded exercise, a couple of years ago my body would not have accepted this but now I walk for 30 minutes a day no matter how I feel. I go first thing every morning, which I find is also a great way to gather your thoughts and plan the day. For me the consistency of this slow burning exercise helps keep the aches in joints and muscles at bay. If I don’t go for a walk one morning, I’ll feel worse the next. I also do pilates. Pilates is a great way of strengthening muscles without over doing it and (having saved my pennies) I am joining a gym with a swimming pool so I can do lengths in the mornings before work.

Energy food – It’s tempting to reach for sugary foods thinking that they will boost your energy levels but for me this was the worst thing I could do – it would give me a short burst of energy followed by a come down. Blueberries and grapes are my new sweet treat along with dark chocolate (70% cocoa or over). It gets rid of those sweet tooth cravings whilst being a lot better for you and is proven to actively help chronic fatigue sufferers. Another tip is to replace sugar with nature’s sweetener where possible – Honey (Manuka is best as it is naturally antibacterial). I try to be wheat and dairy free, which takes a lot of will power, but in doing so I have been introduced to a whole new range of foods that I would never have tried before. These not only help sustain my energy levels but also give me the nutrients my body needs.  Eating little meals often also helps ensure a constant energy supply. Wheat free pasta by Doves Farm is a lifesaver as are their wheat and gluten free flours for baking! I’ve never enjoyed cooking and baking as much as I do now even though I (normally) stick to the dietary requirements.

Water! I, like many other people, find drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water a day quite a challenge and yet I could overdose on tea very easily! I’ve replaced half my daily tea intake with hot water and a slice of lemon. I find sipping hot/warm water much easier and it doesn’t feel like such a conscious effort!

Stress – Stress and Anxiety naturally peer their nasty head round the corner when dealing with CFS and ironically they play a major role in further zapping energy and triggering aches in muscles and joints, headaches etc. I found writing things down when they were worrying me was a great way of being able to put my mind at rest. My GP also recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which I found incredibly helpful. CBT teaches you to put situations into their true context – ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ Simple changes to the way you deal with stressful situations make a huge difference – I found this technique especially helpful when setting up my business.

It definitely took me time to realize that just ‘plowing on’ as I was, would not make the fatigue disappear. I have made lifestyle changes and have also been lucky in that my symptoms have slowly reduced and allowed me to move forward. I live as busy a lifestyle now as ever, I just do so in a controlled manner – keeping an eye on my diet, getting enough exercise and rest and dealing with obstacles in a positive way. Although these tips are things that I have found helpful in coping with CFS, I like to think that they are all things which would help anyone lead a more hip and healthy lifestyle!

Hip and Healthy –  Suggested Alternative Treatment:

The Lightning Process – A therapeutic treatment for auto-immune diseases that has been proven to be a very effective; particularly for sufferers of ME and CFS. We asked a recent participant of the programme what they thought about this supposedly life changing course…

Caroline W has been suffering with CFS for over 30 years. Just like our lovely anonymous writer, Caroline has always been an extremely physically active person and so this has been a particularly debilitating time for her. She heard about the Lightning Process through a fellow CFS sufferer and took the course in December 2011:

1.What is the Lightning Process?

The Lightning Process (LP) is a training course, it is not a therapy. It is based on a combination of approaches from osteopathy, NLP, and life coaching.

2.Which course/practitioner did you choose and why? 

All LP practitioners are accredited by the creator of the process, Phil Parker. I chose a local practitioner, whose website gave me confidence, as the practitioner herself had suffered from severe CFS, and had recovered through LP, which gave me a great deal of confidence, and convinced me that the LP was worth a try.

3.What is the success rate of LP?

The practitioner I saw claimed a record of 100% success, but the LP website suggests approx. 82% of participants have successful outcomes from LP.

4.How long is the course? Are you supposed to keep up the approach once you have finished?

The training is an intensive 3-day course available as an individual or as part of a group. The purpose of the training is to provide you with powerful techniques to practice on a daily basis.

5.Does this mean that you are given ongoing support after the course has ended? What form does this take?

Practitioners will usually offer a 30-minute follow-up, plus some telephone support within the cost of the initial training.

6.What makes it different from ordinary life coaching? 

Life coaching is normally about motivation and decisions; LP is a set of techniques designed to teach you how to adjust your unconscious thought patterns, which can have a profound effect on your physical well-being.

7.Do you feel that it has worked for you?

In some ways, perhaps, but certainly there are no guarantees, and it is not a cure-all. It requires constant practice and rehearsal of the techniques, which takes time, and requires a degree of energy (usually lacking in CFS sufferers!).

8.Would you recommend it to other people? If not/so why?

I know from my own situation that CFS makes you feel desperate and therefore sufferers are generally willing to try anything that may help them. Personally, I felt too self-conscious to be continually rehearsing the techniques, which require a private space (not easy in a family home!).

I decided, because of a complicated personal history, that it would be more beneficial for me to undergo this training on a one-to-one basis, which was exceedingly expensive, and really too intensive for me.

From a cost point of view, (unless you have a spare £1,000) I would not recommend it. Also, I selected my practitioner on the basis of the training taking place in London, but the follow-up has been offered in Devon (not very practical!).

9.What is the most important thing that a sufferer should know before considering to take the course?

LP is a training course, it is not a therapy. Read the book (by Phil Parker – available on Amazon) and decide if the training looks right for you. You need to find a practitioner you can fully engage with.

10.What advice would you give to people who are carers, long term partners or family members of someone with CFS or ME?

Unless you have suffered from CFS, it is almost impossible to understand the limitations it  places on those who suffer from it.

Patience, love, and support are the best things to offer, and a belief that the sufferer can get better in the long term.


3 Ways to Fall Back in Love with the Gym

New Gym Class Heroes
Sometimes it can feel like ground hog day when it comes to exercise classes. Trying something new is a great way to restore your love for the gym. Virgin Active has begun offering Willpower and Grace™ classes nationwide; great for those who find yoga too ‘slow’, it is said to combine the self-awareness of yoga practice with the energy of a boot camp.

Update your Music
Dr. Costas Karageorghis, an Associate Professor of Sport Psychology at Brunel University has proven that the music you listen to whilst you work out does effect performance. Having studied the effects of music on physical performance for over 20 years, he discovered that a song’s tempo is one of the most important elements in motivating you. One that scores highly in getting you moving is Salt ‘n’ Pepper’s Push It. As if we needed an excuse to listen to that.

Seek Expert Help
“Book a session with a Personal Trainer, even if it’s just for an hour, they can design specific programmes based on your exercise likes/dislikes. It will also be more enjoyable and inspiring than going to the gym with no real structure to your session. ” Alex Manos, Personal Trainer and Founder of Vital Fitness.

Mask those imperfections with A’kin

Just a quick blog to shout about a fantastic face mask I have discovered from little-known brand A’kin. I honestly can’t rate it highly enough. I have always approached using face masks with caution as they often bring me out in spots the next day or don’t really make any difference at all. That was until I discovered A’kin’s Multi-Fruit & Willow Bark Instant Radiance Facial Masque. Packed with multi-fruit AHA, which is fantastic for calming and preventing skin break-outs, it also instantly makes my skin feel and look more even, reducing the appearances of wrinkles, pigmentation and blemishes.

I now rely upon this mask to give my skin a boost. Its so easy to use and, because of its clay base, dries quickly, drawing out impurities as it does. Its also fantastic for scarring due to the rosehip and Vitamin B3 and the hyaluronic acid (which sounds harsh but really isn’t) is fantastic for moisturising and plumping out the skin. I have listed the key ingredients below:

Bilberry Fruit Extract (AHA)
Echium oil
Hyaluronic acid
Pomegranate Extract [CO2]
Rosehip oil
Vitamin B3
Willow Bark Extract (BHA)

The A’Kin range is available from Holland & Barrett, Bentalls, John Bell & Croydon, Whole Foods Market, Planet Organic, and For details of your nearest stockist please call 01622 859898.

Put a little glow back in your life: Top Five BB Creams


words by Penny Lane

What if you could achieve natural coverage, balance moisture levels, prime the complexion and protect from UV and environmental damage, all in one bottle? Well, the Beauty Balm has arrived, with an array of textures to suit all skin types. For luminous skin, in one quick application, this is sure to be your best friend throughout spring and summer.

Daywear B.B Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme by Estée Lauder 
Super lightweight with oil-free hydration, this multitasking tube moisturises, protects with SPF 35 and covers imperfections, for a flawless glow. Plus, the antioxidant content keeps the effects of harmful environmental factors at bay. Available in two shades, wear alone or apply underneath your foundation. £32,

Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm SPF 35 by MAC
The ultra sheer, beige tone works to even the skin tone and brighten the complexion, whilst prepping the skin, thanks to the inbuilt primer. Gives a lovely natural look for daytime, giving the impression of immaculate skin and makes your bronzer and blusher sit perfectly for hours. £21,

Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30 by Clinique
With a medium to full coverage, choose Clinique to control shine levels, hide blemishes and disguise fine lines. With a choice of three shades, simply apply more over the areas you wish to conceal. Works brilliantly to balance high colour and pink undertones. £25,

Nude Magique BB Cream by L’Oréal 
For a barely there, no make-up look, L’Oréal have created a breathable cream infused with pigment capsules that release to match your skin tone, on application. Gives a light coverage and releases moisture over 24 hours. The result is your skin, only better, with a gorgeous dewy sheen. £9.99,

A Perfect World BB SPF 15 Age Defense Tinted Moisturiser with White Tea by Origins
For radiant skin with increased clarity, Origins’ take on this beauty trend has the widest shade collection, with six available. The white tea content tackles age acceleration, promoted by harmful free radicals. Plus, pores are left minimised. The natural blend has the most beautiful scent, with essential oils of lemon, bergamot and spearmint, combined. £27, 


Ice Ice Baby: We talk to a champion ice skater about her fitness regimes

Q&A with nine times British Championship Ice Skater, Jenna McCorkell

Jenna is part of Team GB, we chat to her about her fitness regime, diet and training for the Olympics

What inspired you to go into skating?
When I was 7 years old, I saw a little girl in the newspaper in a pretty little dress with a big trophy and I asked my mum to take me skating so I could have the same!
How many hours of training do you do a week?
I am training 6 days a week, 3 hours on and the ice and 1-2hrs off the ice running, conditioning and strength training.
How do you train?
On ice I train a lot of technical elements and practice skating my competition programmes. Off the ice I run, mostly on the treadmill, weights, plyometrics and stretching.
Is there any aspect of the training you hate or find difficult to motivate yourself to do?
Sometimes when I have had a very long day of training and I still have to do a long run on the treadmill, that can be tough but I would never let myself miss it!
What is your diet like?
I am quite a fussy eater so I tend to stick to quite plain foods. I eat smaller meals more often to keep my energy levels up during the long training days.
Does your diet change at all in the lead up to a competition?
No, I stick to eating the same foods.
What three foods could you not live without?
Chicken, potatoes, sprouts.
What is your beauty regime like?
I drink a lot of water to keep my skin good, lots of fruit and vegetables and plenty sleep.
How do you relax after a competition?
I normally take a couple of days off to recover and prepare to get back into training. Lots of rest and chilling out.
What do you do in your down time?
I don’t tend to get a lot of down time but when I do I like to go shopping or go home to Northern Ireland to see my family.
What motto do you live by?
Winners don’t quit when they are tired, winners quit when they have won.

Jenna has teamed up with yoomoo frozen yogurt and is starring in their upcoming national TV advertisement. yoomoo frozen yogurt have launched their at home range into supermarkets nationwide. For information please log on to

If you only do one thing this week… follow our top celeb beauty secrets

by Tui Mclean

Celebrities always seem to have it all, and we mortals are constantly in awe of their flawless red carpet style and airbrushed skin. But even the stars have tricks up their sleeves, and here are some of their top tips on how to look and feel good:

The dream skin cleanser
Supermodel Helena Christensen is not shy about the fact she is a huge fan of Mario Badescu Almond & Honey Face Scrub, £13.50, She claims ‘It smells like marzipan,’ and ‘gives my skin a clean, velvety feeling.’ From

The  trusty Daily SPF Moisturiser
Reese Witherspoon swears by her favourite moisturiser, Avon Solutions Hydra-Radiance Cream SPF 15, £8. ‘I’m a working mother… so I need to keep it simple and quick. I wash my face then apply Hydra-Radiance, which has a built-in SPF to protect my skin.’

The splash of colour
Red lips make for a timeless look, and Cheryl Cole is famous for her stylish red lips! She has teamed up with L’Oreal to launch her own Limited Edition Lipstick: ‘Red Passion’. One pound from every sale will go to The Cheryl Cole Foundation in aid of The Prince’s Trust. Cheryl’s gorgeous new lipstick comes in L’Oreal gold packaging and the best part is that it has Cheryl’s autograph on the side! So add some colour to your look and make sure you get your hands on some!

The secret weapon
Rachel Bilson’s secret weapon is Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, £20. Bilson says ‘It gives my skin a dewy look,’. From Boots (0845 070 8090)

The Body Oil
Ubermodel Erin O’Connor is a huge Dr Hauschka fan, and her favourite product is Lavender Oil, £18. ‘It’s soothing, relaxing and sleep-inducing, especially on long-haul flights,’ says O’Connor. ‘It absorbs into my skin without leaving it greasy, and it’s effective enough to use on super-dry areas, such as elbows and feet.’

Hip and Healthy Loves… Sunset Hues, from Nike X Liberty Trainers to Lucas Hugh


Clockwise from top left:

Lucas Hugh Lazar Bra (£65) and Flash Capri Leggings (£185)

Inner Me Lustrous Locks Hair Supplements (£15 for 28 capsules – two week’s supply)

Nike X Liberty Red Print Time Out Shorts (£55)

Stella Mccartney Falabella Faux Leather iPad 2 Sleeve (£235)

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho (prices vary)

Nike X Liberty Red Print Free 5.0 Trainers (£90)

Background: Como Shambhala Turks and Caicos Sunset

Beautiful Skin? Easy as Pai

Pai is taking the beauty world by storm. Created by ex-PR girl, Sarah Brown, who was trying to get to the root of her own skin issues, Pai only uses the highest grade, naturally active ingredients that have been proven to deliver fantastic results. And the best part? They are totally Organic (certified by the Soil Association). An organic product that delivers results? It doesn’t get much better than that.

What is Pai’s best-selling product?
Without a doubt our Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream. It has always been our signature product but was catapulted to cult status when Natalie Portman named it her ‘skincare favourite’.

What drove you to create Pai?
Having had healthy skin all my life, I suddenly developed the skin allergy urticaria in my mid-20s. Identifying the triggers was a slow and frustrating process, but I eventually uncovered a number of chemicals in my skincare products causing my flares. Like many people I turned to organic products for help, but couldn’t find anything my sensitive skin could tolerate – the more I searched the more disillusioned I became. I couldn’t believe the number of beauty products claiming to be ‘organic’ that weren’t certified and still contained a long list of chemicals and irritants. I created Pai as a solution for sensitive skin sufferers that doesn’t compromise on the luxury we love in our beauty products.

How old is Pai?
Pai was founded in 2007, so we’re celebrating our fifth birthday this year!

What makes Pai different from other skincare brands?
Firstly, Pai is all about sensitive skin. All of our products are formulated with sensitive skin in mind, so we never use synthetics or harsh irritants such as Phenoxyethanol or Alcohol Denat. These irritants can often be found lurking on the ingredient lists of natural and organic beauty products – even certified ones.

Secondly, we have our own in-house formulation team and are one of only a few organic brands on the market that can say this.  Most natural skincare companies farm out their product development work – often to the same formulators – which has resulted in a lot of identikit, unimaginative products flooding the market. The man hours that go into the development of each and every Pai product is phenomenal. We are absolute ingredient experts and have a rooted relationship with our products that is second to none.

Team Hip and Healthy has fallen head over heels for the Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil, tell me more about that…
Thanks to the current beauty obsession with facial oils, Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate oil has become a favourite amongst beauty editors. While creams hydrate the skin, oils condition it – delivering high doses of active ingredients with more immediate effects. Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate oil is one of the most concentrated Rosehip oils on the market due to the fact that it blends both the seed and the fruit of the hip. High levels of Omegas 3,6&9 feed the skin, optimising tone & texture as well as improving the appearance of scars, stretch marks, sun damage and fine lines. Rosehip also improves skin elasticity and suppleness, so is ideal for preventing premature ageing or pregnancy-related skin issues.

What’s next for Pai?
As well as several exciting retail product launches we also plan to spend 2012 developing our Pai Professional business. Launched in late 2011, we developed Pai Organic Facials after huge demand from customers looking for sensitive skin-friendly treatments, and from therapists looking for certified organic treatments that really work. We’re so proud to have ticked both these boxes – Pai Facials are currently available from a select number of beauty destinations across the UK, with more to be announced throughout the year.

Sum up Pai in 3 words…

Pure, honest, effective.

Sarah Brown: Her Beautiful Life

What is your skincare regime?
I cleanse with our Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser and purifying Rice & Rosemary Toner every night and follow up with a few drops of our Rosehip BioRegenerate oil three times a week. I also apply a light application of our Rejuvenating Echium Rejuvenating Eye Cream when my eyes are feeling a little tired or puffy.

In the mornings I splash my face with water, and then apply our Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream, which absorbs instantly and sits great under a light brush of mineral make-up.

Top beauty tip?
As far as sensitive and problem skin is concerned, few people really appreciate the importance of diet and nutrition. Pure, gentle and high performance products are of course essential, but truly healthy skin comes from within. Vitamin C keeps skin youthful, Omegas 3,6 & 9 leave skin smooth and supple and carotenoids protect the skin from environmental damage. I also try and eat a slightly alkaline diet with plenty of fruit and veg, as way back in the 1930s Ragner Berg’s research suggested this was best for calming and soothing reactive and allergy-prone skin.

What can’t you travel without?
Definitely my BioAffinity Toner – in-flight air can drop to as little as 10-20% humidity (compared to a UK average of 80%) and I can always feel my skin drying out as soon as I take off! The hydrating water keeps my skin soft and supple throughout the flight, and prevents that dull skin jetlag. At 50ml it’s also perfect for hand luggage.

How do you keep fit?
Pai has me running around 24/7, which keeps me fit and luckily compensates for the fact that I don’t have the time (or admittedly the inclination) to go to the gym!

How do you relax?
I’m a big believer in the negative effects of stress on the skin and on our health in general. Reading and meditating always calms me down – I also love live music so try and fit in a gig when I need to unwind!


Superfoods for a Super Summer


by Kathleen Flemming

A healthy diet is crucial to looking fabulous so this summer try supercharging your diet with some of our favourite superfoods…

Coconuts conjure up thoughts of tropical beaches. It is the perfect summer superfood. Coconut meat can be eaten raw on its own or added to your morning muesli or yogurt. It is packed with fibre which helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Coconut water is another super product of the coconut as it contains potassium and electrolytes making it a perfect sports drink or for rehydration on a hot day. (We like to drink ours after Bikram yoga!)

Cherries are full of healing antioxidants, which help with pain relief, decrease inflammation, promote a healthy heart and may help to prevent cancer.  Cherries also contain meltonin with regulates sleep and delay the ageing process. Plus they contain Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron and fibre! Although in the UK, cherries are often found in shops all year round, the summer is the best time to buy cherries as they are in season and most abundant. Another brilliant thing about cherries is that they can be frozen and will still retain their nutritional value – a great addition to summer smoothies or an alternative to sugary ice lollies.

Chia Seeds seem to be the superfood of 2012. These super C seeds are packed with good fats, protein, minerals and antioxidants. In fact chia seeds have 100% more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon and six times more iron than spinach. They are extremely versatile and can be added to nearly anything. Lots of people sprinkle a teaspoon onto their muesli or porridge or blend the seeds into a smoothie. You can also sprinkle them over summer salads or blend them in dips like humus or guacamole.

Quinoa isn’t a super C but it is a super duper food and perfect in summer salads. Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is a seed not a grain but it is a perfect grain substitute. Quinoa is a complete protein and contains higher levels of important minerals than most grains. It’s an ideal food for vegetarians and vegans because of its protein content. Quinoa is also very versatile and it can be eaten cold in salads or warm with curries and stir fries. In addition, many people make their morning porridge using quinoa as it makes for a protein packed brekkie. My favourite way of eating quinoa is in a salad with avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, spinach and beetroot. A delicious summer superfood salad!

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If you do one thing this week… Sign up to a Race for Life

Hip & Healthy Promotion

Race Towards Your Bikini Body This Summer

Summer is on its way (although it may not feel like it) and with it comes the inevitable loom of getting into that bikini. We know the facts, running is one of the best ways to burn calories, tone up and get that much coveted all-over healthy glow. And the best news? All you need is a pair of trainers. But what most people struggle with is the motivation. Personal Trainer and runner extraordinaire, Max Wilcox, (Max has just run a 100 miler… its exhausting just thinking about it!) commented “It can be challenging to maintain a fitness or running routine. Signing up to a race is a great reminder that you have a goal to achieve. It can certainly help you get out the door on days when you might have otherwise not. The first step is always the hardest.”

Signing up to a race has been proven to be one of the best motivators to get people lacing up and out the door, and you would be hard pushed to find anything more motivating than supporting Cancer Research UK in the process – which is where Race for Life comes in.

With 5 and 10ks all over the country, Race for Life offers woman (yes – sorry men this one is for the gals) the chance to enter a race that really matters. Every two minutes, someone in the UK is told they have cancer. Just by taking part, whether you are in it to get fit, loose weight or to support a good cause you will be raising money for Cancer Research UK and once the first person has sponsored you there really is no better motivation to compete.

And just for some extra motivation (if the thought of that bikini isn’t enough), Race for Life sponsor, AXA PPP healthcare is offering entrants the chance to raise their sponsorship through their weekly prize draws. They will increase it by £200 for AXA PPP healthcare members (including corporate members), but even if you are not with them you could win up to £100 extra towards your sponsorship every friday until 3rd August 2012. You just need to have a Just Giving page and have had raised £50 in sponsorship. Visit to enter: or send this link to friends and family (or tweet and Facebook this page) so they can take part too… after all its all about strength in numbers!

So you have signed up, you have bought the trainers and raised some money. Now you need an expert to give you some tips on how to be the best you can be on race day and unlike the celebs you see running these days who come to a race armed with their own personal trainer, you don’t have cash to splash at the problem. Fear not, AXA PPP have just announced that they will be hosting a live chat with three top health and fitness experts; John Crudington (PT and Fitness Expert will be online 10am-12pm), Lucy Wydham-Read (experienced Personal Trainer to celebs and sportsmen – she has even trained an entire football team, online from 2pm-4pm) and Dr Sarah Schenker (one of the most influential Nutritionists in the UK is around to answer your questions from 5pm-7pm). You will then have the opportunity to ask questions on a range of running topics – from, training guides and injury healing to race day tips and energy fueling foods (banana and peanut butter sandwiches aren’t for everyone).

THE DETAILS: The live chat will take place from 10am -7pm on 26th April. Just click on the following link on the day to take part:

If you can’t make the live chat though, or even if you are just looking for some other top health advice then go to the be healthy section of AXA PPP healthcare’s website for other great wellbeing tips, such as healthy recipes, health experts and other inspiring articles for those just wanting to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Just click here to be taken through to a world of wellbeing goodness that will whip you into shape so fast you will be desperate to embrace that bikini: They also have a dedicated online Cancer Centre to give support to those who are affected by cancer specialist advice on the topic.

CONNECT WITH AXA PPP: If you are already signed up, or once you have, join AXA PPP on their Facebook page or Twitter to get running tips and exclusive updates on special events at the races:



The Last Word: Running tips from PT Max Wilcox:

What is your top tip for a first timer running a race?

Relax, take it at a comfortable pace and enjoy yourself. In the last few days leading up to a race all that can be done is plenty of stretching and hydrating, all the hard work has been done by now. When you’re standing at the start line take a deep breath and don’t set off too quickly, it can be easy to get carried away. Preparation is key, have an idea of how fast you want to run based on how well training has gone, base your race day running pace on this. Always run your own race.

Tips for someone trying to achieve their best time?

Once again preparation is the key to success. If you’re going for a PB it’s a great advantage to know your course. There are plenty of runs that have a few hills, which can completely change a race it’s always nice to know when you should be putting in the extra effort. If you’re running a flatter course then know the pace you need to better your record. Have a plan and stick to it, timing is crucial, save your ‘sprint finish’ till the point you’re comfortable with, this is something worth practicing.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: Music Can Make you Fitter – but how?

Gonna fly, fly, fly…

‘Trying hard now, getting strong now, gonna fly now’ – the lyrics from the Rocky soundtrack – apparently a gym-playlist must. But why?

Words By Samantha Whitaker

According to sports psychologist Dr Costas Karageorghis, who has an international reputation for research in this field, listening to upbeat music while exercising has a significant positive effect on performance. Writing in Runner’s World he says: ‘Listening to the right songs before and during exercise will not simply reduce feelings of tiredness, it will also increase performance levels by up to 20%.’ Karageorghis also found that energy efficiency could be increased by up to 3%, meaning that athletes can run further on the same amount of oxygen.

My own research agrees. Most respondents used adjectives such as fast, upbeat and up-tempo to describe their gym music preferences. H&H’s Editor Sadie Macleod, a keen runner, prefers ‘hard and fast tunes,’ stating Rhianna, David Guetta and Timberland as her current faves. Lady GaGa also rated highly, as did the Foo Fighters and the Black Eyed Peas.

Scientific research in this area has identified several ways that music can influence preparation and competitive performance. Firstly, it distracts your mind, dulling or masking the pain of the exercise (known as dissociation). Research published in the Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness concluded that, ‘listening to a favourite piece of music might decrease the influence of stress caused by fatigue, thus increasing the “comfort” level of performing the exercise.’ The effect can reduce our perception of effort by as much as 10%, so a 66 minute run can feel like a 60 minute run with the right music. And it is thought that women benefit from the mood-enhancing effects of music more than men.

Music can also act as a stimulant. Athletes who were played loud, upbeat music showed activity in an area of the brain that pumps them up, which is beneficial before a competition or during training. Equally, slower music can be used as a sedative to calm down and focus.  Olympic runner Dame Kelly Holmes, for example, uses soulful ballads in her pre-event routine. This effect is called arousal regulation, and is considered by some athletes to be a legal drug with no unwanted side effects. In fact, in 2007 the authorities banned music at the New York Marathon – causing absolute uproar. There is also proof that music aids in the acquisition of motor skills, improves coordination, and can help runners achieve the ‘state of flow’, the ultimate motivational state of being completely ‘in the zone’.

Lastly, but most importantly, research consistently shows that synchronisation of music with repetitive exercise increases performance level. This research inspired the launch of AudioFuel (, which creates bespoke soundtracks of custom composed music with voice coaching to help pace and, hopefully, drive runners to go further more efficiently. ‘A track that will keep you at a good running pace will have between 160 and 180 beats per minute (bpm),’ explains Clare Crean, co-founder of AudioFuel. ‘Very little mainstream music has a beat that is fast enough to match the running stride, for example, disco music is typically around 120 bpm.’ The website sells a range of training programmes to match your goal and stride rate, including long runs, interval training and timed sessions. And just as a DJ controls the energy on a dancefloor, the music varies the beat and vibe to match the training session, while the voice-over coaching provides encouragement and tips. Model Jacquetta Wheeler is a big fan. ‘I have to listen to music on long runs as it really helps to keep me going,’ she says. ‘AudioFuel have brilliant electro-house tunes that pull you along with a spring in your step.’

Other running music providers include Nike Sport Music (iTunes store), Total Fitness, Run2Rhythm, Podrunner, MP3 Running and Hellasound, as well as compilation CDs, such as Running Trax. Running Music Mix and JogTunes categorise existing music by bpm, so that you can purchase tracks yourself and create your own playlist.

Karageorghis was a leading consultant London’s Run to the Beat half-marathon, which features scientifically selected motivational music performed live by musicians positioned along the route. This year the race will be on 21 October and you can register your interest now at

So what makes the perfect work-out track? 

A strong, energising rhythm is important, and a rhythmic pattern well matched to the movement patterns of the activity. Words can have a subliminal effect on your emotions, so songs with uplifting, relevant and encouraging lyrics will help. World marathon record holder, Paula Radcliffe, likes to listen to ‘Stronger’ by Kanye West, for example, and former world champion boxer, Chris Eubank, used to play Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ to prepare for a match. Choose tracks with different tempi to coincide with alternate low-, medium- and high-intensity training. Health and Performance Specialist Alex Manos ( believes music can really help to persevere through cardio workouts. His current number one is David Guetta, and he recommends chilled-out tracks by Morcheeba, Zero 7 or even classical music during for cool down and stretching.


But more than anything, it’s important to listen to what you like.

Detox your Day

Blenders at the ready – there’s a delicious, new way to detox. i-Detox teaches us the long term solution to healthy eating.

i-Detox is founded and run by Anita Cheung. Anita has a wealth of experience that I was just dying to tap into. She was lucky enough to have been taught by renowned superfood king, David Wolfe, yet also exceedingly unlucky to lose her father to colon cancer, a disease she describes as being almost 100% preventable. Anita’s level of nutritional knowledge is astounding. After managing to persuade her father to adopt her superfood enriched diet when he was first diagnosed with the life threatening disease, she was able to reduce his cancer markers considerably. Even the doctors where surprised. After nutritionally coaching her father into full recovery, it seems that old habits die hard, as once he received the all-clear he adopted all his old dietary ways and quickly developed the cancer again. But this time it was too late. The cancer had already spread, and there was nothing Anita could do. Having witnessed the diet work so profoundly on her father, Anita wanted to help others on their quest for wellness, whether that meant; loosing weight, battling illnesses or just improving general health.Admittedly, the diet Anita recommends  ‘don’t come cheap’ but Anita urges you to think off the long-term savings you are making: reductions in medical bills and the old saying “you have nothing, if you don’t have your health” resonates hard as she describes just how life-changing this new approach to eating could be. The hard part of the diet really is at the beginning since you will unlikely find some of the more obscure ingredients (Blue Green Algae anyone?) in your local supermarket. I didn’t even have a smoothie maker (needed for most of the recipes), but Anita assured me that I didn’t need to fork out for something top of the range (a Kenwood smoothie maker is £24.95 from John Lewis). “Just don’t blend nuts in it,” I was warned, as this will burn out the motor. So with a blender at the ready, Anita reveals her healthy habits that will help you gain more energy whilst losing weight and prevent life-threatening diseases that you aren’t going to want to deal with later in life.

Go Organic

In the UK, we absorb 13-14 pounds of chemicals every year, from foods, air and water. This figure doesn’t even include the toxins found in other things such as the common flu jab, which contains more than 25 times the EPA standard of hazardous waste. Pesticides in fertilizers are essentially hormones as they aim to interfere with the sex of the pest, making it more feminine so that it is unable to reproduce. So when we consume non-organic food we too are exposing our bodies to these harmful toxins. Something we certainly don’t want to be doing if we want to have children, since amongst other things, pesticides have been proven to cause infertility. China is one of the worst areas in the world for using pesticides and a recent study found that 86% of Shanghai College Students are already infertile. The US also reported a whopping 50% of its students as being infertile. And it’s not just the women who are being affected – boys are being born with smaller penises and up to 287 toxic chemicals are found in an average baby in the US. Natural fertiliser is made up of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The difference between eating organic or not is ingesting these three harmless compounds or 52 toxic ones.

Start the day with warm water

We have heard it before but few of us follow this most simple of health rules (including me). Having your routine cup of caffeinated tea could actually be preventing you from loosing weight since the caffein boosts the production of the hormone, adrenalin, which is what makes us feel alert. This hormone was originally used, back in cave man times, for those just about to take flight and therefore instantly put it into use and burn it off. But we don’t. We drink our tea and the sit at a desk for the best part of the day so our bodies’ end up storing the extra unused adrenalin as fat. Starting the day with warm water and lemon helps flush out all the toxins that are bodies have been working hard to get rid of over night. The lemon helps replenish any vitamin C that has also been lost.

Balance your PH

An acidic body is an unhealthy body. An ideal blood PH is 7.35. You can find out your PH by buying the PH paper from your local chemist. To keep the blood flowing smoothly the outside of our blood cells should all carry negative charges so that they repel one another and don’t stick together. When we eat acidic food we destroy this negative charge causing some blood cells to attract to one another – creating a sticky blood substance that does not flow nearly as well. Top alkalising foods include lemons (despite what you may have thought), kale, apples, apricots, limes and seaweeds. Acidic foods are all the usual unhealthy suspects including, white bread, artificial sweeteners, beef, fizzy drinks, cakes, and alcohols.

Incorporate superfoods into your daily diet (not supplements)

If you are guilty of buying a bunch of supplements only to leave them collecting dust on your shelves, you are not alone. Taking supplements is just so boring so we end up neglecting them all together. So, incorporate a delicious superfood into your diet and you are much more likely to eat them because you want to. Supplements are good, but they are not foods and therefore are not as easily absorbed by the body where as the body instantly breaks down superfoods and extracts the goodness from them. Top superfoods include goji berries, cacao, maca, honey comb, spirulina, aloe vera, hempseed, prunes, blueberries and blackberries. See the recipes for easy ways to incorporate these daily.

While you’re detoxing – Avoid these like the plague

Alcohol; sugar; caffein; milk chocolate; fried food; dairy; red meat; microwavable food; processed food; wheat; refined carbs and sweets.

Words by Sadie Macleod
Images by Smaranda Cheregi