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Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Metro

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    Bouncing spoon sex position
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Mindfulness – the practice of being placed in the moment and focusing on your immediate surroundings – is popular with mental health experts world over.

    The benefits of mindfulness, which can be achieved with an activity such as colouring, or even from intense work-outs, are manifold. According to the NHS: ‘Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better. When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.’

    But what about bringing mindfulness into the bedroom?

    Sometimes during sex it’s normal to find your mind wandering. Even if the sex is gratifying, for people with busy lives and lots to think about, it can be hard to completely check out. You might fancy the pants off the person you’re in bed with, but that doesn’t automatically prevent the ‘Oh s**t, we need bin liners and broccoli’ realisation, which pulls you away from your sexual ecstasy and back into every day life.

    Mindfulness aims to prevent that from happening, helping you to be fully present during sex and focused on your pleasure, your partner’s pleasure and nothing else. Sounds good, no questions there. But how to achieve it?

    Diana Richardson’s TEDx talk is probably the best place to start.

    If you’ve got a really short attention span, the edited highlights of how to have mindful sex go a bit like this:

    Set aside time. You can’t have mindful sex when you’re super busy and distracted. Try to remember that for lots of people, having sex less frequently but when they really feel like it is preferable. Wait until you’ve got a quiet house and a chunk of time, even if that means getting up early or waiting until the people you share your home with have gone out.

    Get in the moment.  The aim of mindfulness is not silencing your brain. The idea is to be fully in the moment, without judgment of it. So you don’t need to be floating on a cloud, but you do need to be focusing on the sensations you’re feeling.

    Let go of judgement. Or at least notice them and then let go of them. This bit takes practice. You’re not going to be 100% in the moment the whole time from day one.

    Come back to the moment. It’s normal for your mind to wander, even during sex. But once you’ve realised that it has wandered, pull it back.

    Be nice to yourself. Mind wandering doesn’t mean you’re failing at sexual mindfulness, it means that you’re human.

    Mindful sex isn’t for everyone. It could result in stronger connection between you and your partner, but it could also make you feel frustrated and like you’re failing. It’s a great thing to try, but if you’re experiencing less joy from your sex life because of your attempts at mindfulness, then it’s totally fine to ditch it.

    MORE: Isn’t it time to ditch the word ‘gentleman’?

    MORE: The Sex Resort Diaries: The final night at Young Swingers Week


    Bouncing spoon sex positionBouncing spoon sex positionrebeccacnreidBouncing spoon sex positionBouncing spoon sex positionBouncing spoon sex positionrebeccacnreidBouncing spoon sex position

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    So, your holiday to Orlando is booked and you’re on your way to the sunshine state.

    Now all that remains is working out how to spend your time.

    With so much to do in Orlando, there’s no such thing as a dull moment – but when you’re making plans, be sure to set aside plenty of time to visit Universal Orlando Resort™.

    This extensive resort has 3 spectacular theme parks, incredible themed Universal Orlando Resort Hotels (check out the lush Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and the fun Hard Rock Hotel®) and some excellent restaurants too, both in the hotels, at the parks, and in Universal CityWalk™ – so there will be more than enough to fill days and nights.

    Some of Florida’s most exciting rides are right here at Universal. Don’t miss the Revenge of the Mummy™ ride in the New York zone at Islands of Adventure™, which is the stuff of legend. An atmospheric roller coaster with a spooky story and some exciting drops; it is just the right combination of scary and exhilarating.

    There is so much more to discover too. Here are 5 more things you may not know about Universal Orlando Resort.

    1. The resort has THREE spectacular theme parks

    Universal Orlando Resort has so much to discover across three mega theme parks. Universal Studios Florida™ – a real working movie studio with meticulously recreated film sets, rides and experiences that take you right inside your favourite movies.

    Universal’s Islands of Adventure™, where you’ll find some of the world’s most famous rides – including Skull Island: Reign of Kong™, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit™, Revenge of the Mummy™

    And Universal’s Volcano Bay™ water theme park, built in 2017, with a thrilling body drop slide, twisting trap door slides and a winding river.

    With these three brilliant theme parks – plus Universal CityWalk™,, with dining, shopping and night spots – you can spend days at Universal Resort Orlando and still have things left to tick off your bucket list.

    2. You can make a music video on a roller coaster


    Universal Orlando Resort’s groundbreaking roller coaster – Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit – gives guests the ability to choose the soundtrack to their ride from 30 songs within five genres of music

     

    The tallest ride at Universal Studios Florida, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit comes with a big drop and some serious Gs.

    It’s a truly innovative ride that lets you choose a song as the soundtrack to your screams as you take on the world’s first non-inverted loop-the-loop and speed, 167ft up, around a corkscrew track at a feisty 65mph.

    Practise your best anti-G coaster faces before you go on, because you’ll get to keep (fee applies) the music video you make.

    3. …And ride a body plunge slide

    Ko’okiri Body Plunge is a near-vertical body plunge that travels through a pool

    Inside a 200ft volcano at Volcano Bay, and spewing fountains, lies the Ko’okiri Body Plunge.

    Coming in at a pretty sensational 125ft tall, this near-vertical body plunge is also the world’s first to pass through a pool attraction, so fellow guests can marvel at your bravery as you shoot down the equivalent of a 10-storey building.

    Universal’s Volcano Bay was built brand new in 2017, so you’ll be witnessing the ultimate in water theme park innovation.

    And while the park offers a lot of gentler and family friendly attractions too, there is no doubt the Ko’okiri Body Plunge is one world-class thrill.

    4. It’s not just thrills

    Universal CityWalk ™ is where it all comes together. This is where unforgettable family fun meets restaurants that don’t just make you say “Yum,” but “Wow.”

    CityWalk hosts the world’s largest Hard Rock Cafe—which houses hundreds of authentic memorabilia from music’s biggest legends. Plus, you can putt your way through two out-of-this-world mini-golf courses or catch a movie on the colossal screens at the Universal Cinemark movie theatre.

    But, of course, you’ll want to start with dinner first. Take your pick from more than a dozen options ranging from quick serve to high end.

    Inside the huge, ocean-inspired space at Cowfish, you can choose fresh sushi and bento boxes filled with out of the ordinary Asian fare. Or give one of a dozen gourmet burgers a try. And, of course, there’s “burgushi”: Cowfish’s cheeky marriage of burgers and sushi into unique dishes you’ve never seen before.

    But the night doesn’t end with dessert. In fact, here’s where it kicks into high gear. You can see a concert or comic at Hard Rock Live or go explore CityWalk’s nightclub scene. Sip a hurricane and catch the live dueling piano show at Pat O’Brien’s.

    5. Enjoy all kinds of benefits if you stay at a Universal Hotel

    Staying at a Universal Hotel takes your holiday to another level. To land Universal’s super-duper status and skip the queues, it’s well worth staying on site. Guests who stay at Universal Orlando Resort’s hotels are treated to:

    • Every morning guests can breeze into one of Universal’s Parks before other guests with Early Park Admission*.
    • With free water taxis and shuttles, it’s a quick hop between the parks and the hotels.
    • Guests of select hotels can enjoy FREE^ Universal Express Unlimited™ access to skip the regular lines at most popular attractions in Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.

    Not only will you get to skip the queues – meaning you can session your favourite rides again and again before the crowds arrive – but the hotels have some of Orlando’s finest and most fun restaurants on site, taking stress levels around eating out down to zero.

     

     

    Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2018 Universal Studios. All rights reserved. *Requires theme park admission. Early Park Admission begins one (1) hour prior to regularly scheduled park opening to either Universal Studios Florida or Universal’s Islands of Adventure as determined by Universal Orlando, and at Universal’s Volcano Bay. Valid at select attractions at each park. Attractions are subject to substitutions without notice. Additional restrictions may apply. ^Requires theme park admission. Valid at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Not valid at Universal’s Volcano Bay or at Pteranodon Flyers™ at Islands of Adventure. Excludes separately ticketed events. Park-to-Park admission required to board the Hogwarts™ Express. Benefit valid only for guests of Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel® and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, for the number of guests staying in the room for the length of hotel stay. Available during normal theme park operating hours only. Additional restrictions may apply and benefits are subject to change without notice.

    body plunge-4adcbody plunge-4adcakismet-2fcb28243f975bb512a587b829a23dfdbody plunge-4adcbody plunge-4adcakismet-2fcb28243f975bb512a587b829a23dfd

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    MERCURY PRESS. 05/11/18. Pictured: Kassandra Brown, 44. A woman has revealed that she earns over ?20,000 a year from spooning strangers - after her children growing up left her yearning to mother others. After becoming a mother, Kassandra Brown, 44, realised how important the human touch was to a persons development. Aspiring to be able to give a mothers warm embrace to others, Kassandra went on the search for a way she could do this all-day, every-day. After finding Cuddlist, a professional cuddling company, in 2016, Kassandra stared to give multiple 90 minute sessions almost daily. SEE MERCURY COPY
    (Picture: Mercury Press)

    A woman says she earns over £20,000 a year from spooning strangers.

    Once she became a mother, Kassandra Brown, 44, realised how important human touch was to a person’s development.

    Aspiring to be able to give a mother’s warm embrace to others, Kassandra went on the search for a way she could do this all day, every day.

    After finding Cuddlist, a professional cuddling company, in 2016, Kassandra started to give multiple 90 minute sessions almost daily.

    Charging over £75 per session, Kassandra has been able to create a full-time job out of her favourite pastime and can see up to £20,000 per year.

    Kassandra, from Boulder, Colorado, said: ‘I had wanted more contact with family and friends for years – when I become a mother I realised how important touch is.

    ‘It helps to develop the mind and regulation of the nervous system, and touch is really what a human needs to develop into their full potential.

    ***COPYRIGHT UNKNOWN USE AT OWN RISK*** MERCURY PRESS. 05/11/18. Pictured: Kassandra Brown cuddling with a client. A woman has revealed that she earns over ?20,000 a year from spooning strangers - after her children growing up left her yearning to mother others. After becoming a mother, Kassandra Brown, 44, realised how important the human touch was to a persons development. Aspiring to be able to give a mothers warm embrace to others, Kassandra went on the search for a way she could do this all-day, every-day. After finding Cuddlist, a professional cuddling company, in 2016, Kassandra stared to give multiple 90 minute sessions almost daily. SEE MERCURY COPY
    (Picture: Mercury Press)

    ‘When I learnt that when a need is not met, it doesn’t go away, I realised it wasn’t too late for adults who missed this mothering to get what they needed.

    ‘When I found out there was a way to give people this human need, whilst getting paid for it and making a full-time job out of it, I knew I had to go for it.

    ‘I welcome clients into my cuddling space which has a queen sized mattress on the floor and a twin sized daybed couch.

    ‘A few simple pictures, a window, and a table complete the room. It doesn’t look like a traditional bedroom but everything is soft, warm, and inviting for cuddles.’

    Though Kassandra loves her job, she says it has made her uncomfortable before, as there’s a stigma around it.

    She explained: ‘It was surprising to me, but cuddling can be physically challenging – it’s possible to get into some oddly uncomfortable positions – pillows are important.

    ‘When I meet new clients I can feel a combination of nervous and excited, I think “who are they?”, “can I help them?”

    ‘But clients can also feel uncomfortable themselves, which is why I make sure my clients commit to an agreement that states: I agree that I will speak up if I’m uncomfortable at any time for any reason.

    ‘Many people think touch is always sexual, but it’s not.

    ‘Cuddlist sessions are about intimacy that’s physical but not sexual – many people doubt that’s possible, but it is and it’s life changing.’

    After getting into the helping industry by becoming a parenting coach, Kassandra started working for Cuddlist in 2016.

    MERCURY PRESS. 05/11/18. Pictured: A screengrab from the Cuddlist website showing Kassandras profile. A woman has revealed that she earns over ?20,000 a year from spooning strangers - after her children growing up left her yearning to mother others. After becoming a mother, Kassandra Brown, 44, realised how important the human touch was to a persons development. Aspiring to be able to give a mothers warm embrace to others, Kassandra went on the search for a way she could do this all-day, every-day. After finding Cuddlist, a professional cuddling company, in 2016, Kassandra stared to give multiple 90 minute sessions almost daily. SEE MERCURY COPY
    (Picture: Mercury Press)

    She said: ‘Wednesdays and Fridays are my longer client days and on those days I’ll see up to four clients a day for 90 minutes each.

    ‘That’s how long my standard session is, but I do some which are just 60 minutes and some which can be for several hours at a time.

    ‘I charge £75 an hour for the service, but also offer package discounts and a sliding scale – in 2018 alone, I’ve donated over £12,000 of time to clients in need.

    ‘Every session is unique as I offer a lot of what I call “deep listening” to my clients – I listen with a bias towards love and acceptance and then offer reflection and active listening questions.’

    MORE: Isn’t it time to ditch the word ‘gentleman’?

    MORE: Woman speaks of joy at becoming a young mum thanks to Swedish sperm donor


    A woman has revealed that she earns over 20000 a year from spooningA woman has revealed that she earns over 20000 a year from spooninghattiegladwellmetroMERCURY PRESS. 05/11/18. Pictured: Kassandra Brown, 44. A woman has revealed that she earns over ?20,000 a year from spooning strangers - after her children growing up left her yearning to mother others. After becoming a mother, Kassandra Brown, 44, realised how important the human touch was to a persons development. Aspiring to be able to give a mothers warm embrace to others, Kassandra went on the search for a way she could do this all-day, every-day. After finding Cuddlist, a professional cuddling company, in 2016, Kassandra stared to give multiple 90 minute sessions almost daily. SEE MERCURY COPY***COPYRIGHT UNKNOWN USE AT OWN RISK*** MERCURY PRESS. 05/11/18. Pictured: Kassandra Brown cuddling with a client. A woman has revealed that she earns over ?20,000 a year from spooning strangers - after her children growing up left her yearning to mother others. After becoming a mother, Kassandra Brown, 44, realised how important the human touch was to a persons development. Aspiring to be able to give a mothers warm embrace to others, Kassandra went on the search for a way she could do this all-day, every-day. After finding Cuddlist, a professional cuddling company, in 2016, Kassandra stared to give multiple 90 minute sessions almost daily. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 05/11/18. Pictured: A screengrab from the Cuddlist website showing Kassandras profile. A woman has revealed that she earns over ?20,000 a year from spooning strangers - after her children growing up left her yearning to mother others. After becoming a mother, Kassandra Brown, 44, realised how important the human touch was to a persons development. Aspiring to be able to give a mothers warm embrace to others, Kassandra went on the search for a way she could do this all-day, every-day. After finding Cuddlist, a professional cuddling company, in 2016, Kassandra stared to give multiple 90 minute sessions almost daily. SEE MERCURY COPYA woman has revealed that she earns over 20000 a year from spooningA woman has revealed that she earns over 20000 a year from spooninghattiegladwellmetroMERCURY PRESS. 05/11/18. Pictured: Kassandra Brown, 44. A woman has revealed that she earns over ?20,000 a year from spooning strangers - after her children growing up left her yearning to mother others. After becoming a mother, Kassandra Brown, 44, realised how important the human touch was to a persons development. Aspiring to be able to give a mothers warm embrace to others, Kassandra went on the search for a way she could do this all-day, every-day. After finding Cuddlist, a professional cuddling company, in 2016, Kassandra stared to give multiple 90 minute sessions almost daily. SEE MERCURY COPY***COPYRIGHT UNKNOWN USE AT OWN RISK*** MERCURY PRESS. 05/11/18. Pictured: Kassandra Brown cuddling with a client. A woman has revealed that she earns over ?20,000 a year from spooning strangers - after her children growing up left her yearning to mother others. After becoming a mother, Kassandra Brown, 44, realised how important the human touch was to a persons development. Aspiring to be able to give a mothers warm embrace to others, Kassandra went on the search for a way she could do this all-day, every-day. After finding Cuddlist, a professional cuddling company, in 2016, Kassandra stared to give multiple 90 minute sessions almost daily. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 05/11/18. Pictured: A screengrab from the Cuddlist website showing Kassandras profile. A woman has revealed that she earns over ?20,000 a year from spooning strangers - after her children growing up left her yearning to mother others. After becoming a mother, Kassandra Brown, 44, realised how important the human touch was to a persons development. Aspiring to be able to give a mothers warm embrace to others, Kassandra went on the search for a way she could do this all-day, every-day. After finding Cuddlist, a professional cuddling company, in 2016, Kassandra stared to give multiple 90 minute sessions almost daily. SEE MERCURY COPY

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    A sad looking little teddy bear, weighed down by his melancholy.
    (Picture: Getty Images/Moment RF)

    Breakups are universally awkward.

    It might be all the more difficult if you shared things or even people – who stays friends with who?

    One woman took to Mumsnet to talk about her current boyfriend’s custody battle with his ex girlfriend.

    Only they weren’t sharing custody of children or property, they were taking turns to look after a teddy bear.

    The woman explained that her 40-year-old partner wasn’t confrontational and didn’t tell his ex that he’d moved on. Things got awkward when the ex came round to take ‘Bear’ on holiday.

    ‘When DP (darling partner) moved in, his ex came to my house to collect Bear who was going “on holiday” with her,’ wrote the current girlfriend. ‘DP hadn’t warned me this was happening, and I was just expecting her to drop some of DP’s stuff off. DP did the handing over but it was all unbearably awkward.

    ‘Anyway, I thought that was the end of it and she would be too embarrassed to ask for Bear again.

    ‘Today DP and I went out for a nice lunch together and, over the pudding, he mentioned, very awkwardly, that he was going out this evening, taking Bear, who is off on his Christmas holidays. He will drop Bear off with ex before meeting friends.

    ‘I am 100% certain there is nothing going on with DP and his ex (or anyone else for that matter) but this has made me feel incredibly weird and uncomfortable and actually a bit insecure.’

    The poster revealed she found the whole thing a bit ‘creepy’, adding that the infantilism over the bear may be fine within the confines of a relationship but outside of one, it’s unusual, especially as it’s not within his current relationship.

    When she asked her boyfriend why his ex can’t just get a new teddy or if he can just buy her a new one, he argued the ex would ‘miss Bear’s personality’.

    ‘And then there’s the fact that it’s so f***ing weird!’ she wrote towards the end. Other Mumsnet users agreed, saying it was unusual that a 40-year-old man was so attached to a teddy bear.

    One user said she also shared stuffed animals with her ex but would never meet up and exchange custody. Others encouraged the woman to leave the man.

    MORE: Isn’t it time to ditch the word ‘gentleman’?

    MORE: The Sex Resort Diaries: Spanking, seminars, and the risks of swinging

    MORE: How to survive a girls holiday


    Sad little teddy bear is weary with woeSad little teddy bear is weary with woefaimabakar1A sad looking little teddy bear, weighed down by his melancholy.Sad little teddy bear is weary with woeSad little teddy bear is weary with woefaimabakar1A sad looking little teddy bear, weighed down by his melancholy.

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    sleep well
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    More good news for those smug early risers who can get up at the crack of dawn to do yoga before work: You’re less likely to develop breast cancer than night owls.

    A study from the University of Bristol compared data on hundreds of thousands of data to find that morning people have a 40-48% lower risk of breast cancer.

    Being a morning person is partly down to genetics, so this lowered risk does make some sense.

    ‘Larks’ tend to go to bed and wake up early, and feel most productive earlier in the morning, while ‘night owls’ feel drowsy in the morning and have the most energy later, making it harder for them to wake up early.

    It’s difficult to force yourself to become a lark if you’re a night owl – it’s all down to your body’s personal circadian rhythms. Previous research suggests that night owls have a gene mutation that causes their body clock to run behind, making them go to bed and wake up later than normal.

    Now, there’s evidence to suggest that the gene mutation may be linked to an increase risk of breast cancer, with night owls more at risk than larks.

    Interestingly, the study also found that sleeping longer isn’t necessarily better, as the analysis showed that women who slept longer than the recommended seven to eight hours per night increased their chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer by 20% per additional hour.

    woman sleeping at desk
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Lead scientist Dr Rebecca Richmond, from the University of Bristol, said: ‘Using genetic variants associated with people’s preference for morning or evening, sleep duration and insomnia, we investigated whether these sleep traits have a causal contribution to the risk of developing breast cancer.

    ‘We would like to do further work to investigate the mechanisms underpinning these results, as the estimates obtained are based on questions related to morning or evening preference rather than actually whether people get up earlier or later in the day.

    ‘In other words, it may not be the case that changing your habits changes your risk of breast cancer; it may be more complex than that.

    ‘However, the findings of a protective effect of morning preference on breast cancer risk in our study are consistent with previous research highlighting a role for night shift work and exposure to “light-at-night” as risk factors for breast cancer.’

    More research will be needed to look into the relationship between sleep patterns and breast cancer, so don’t have a massive panic if you’re a late to bed, late to rise type of person just yet.

    But if you are a morning person, feel free to give yourself yet another pat on the back. You’re nailing it.

    MORE: What to do if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off

    MORE: Is wearing a tight ponytail all the time dangerous?

    MORE: What is mindful sex and why is it a good idea?


    Why offices should give workers time and space to sleepWhy offices should give workers time and space to sleepellencscottsleep wellWhy offices should give workers time and space to sleepWhy offices should give workers time and space to sleepellencscottsleep well

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    Sweat fetish
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    It doesn’t seem like an obvious connection, but exercise and fertility are closely linked.

    It’s important to note that healthy, even vigorous levels of exercise don’t necessarily lead to fertility problems – millions of women exercise and play sport to an elite level without suffering any adverse effects.

    But when it comes to over-exercising and pushing yourself to the extreme, that’s when your periods and your fertility can get into trouble. That’s why it’s crucial to know the risks and understand exactly what is happening to your body.

    Exercise is good for your body. Scratch that, it’s great for your body. Exercising regularly, ideally more than 150 minutes per week as well as strength training, keeps your body strong, regulates a healthy body weight and helps to maintain your heart health.

    The problem arises in women who over-train without allowing their body to recover, or taking in enough food – resulting in a serious calorie deficit.

    Your reproductive system is highly sensitive to energy deficits, and it is easier to fall into a calorie shortage than you might think.

    Period problems are common in sporty women, with some studies estimating that up to 60% of exercising women experience some form of menstrual disturbance.

    Another study found that it is not the strain of exercise that causes the irregularities, but the body’s attempt to conserve energy by reducing the production of estrogen and progesterone.

    now that summer is over, it's harder to harness that spring
    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    Dr. Dimitri Psaroudakis explained the science behind the phenomenon.

    ‘Excessive exercise sends a message to the hypothalamus – a gland that controls the ovaries – that says that the body should concentrate on immediate survival and prioritise its resources to keep the brain and heart working and provide energy to the muscles to allow for a “fight or flight” response, over the reproductive system,’ Dr. Psaroudakis tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘This results in the ovaries temporarily shutting down and the menstrual cycle stopping.

    ‘Women who exercise to a professional standard will not ovulate during this time and, as such, will not be able to conceive until ovarian function resumes.’

    But it isn’t all bad news – if you stop over exercising, your fertility and menstrual cycles should return to normal. Bu Dr. Psaroudakis says that isn’t the only factor that needs to be considered.

    ‘Upon reducing exercise intensity and by bringing a woman’s BMI to within the normal range – over 19 – ovarian function and fertility will return, often within a few months, without any long term damage. Having said that, it is important to remember that fertility does decline with time and unfortunately this happens to everyone.

    ‘So a top athlete who stops having periods between the ages 20-35, and then reduces the intensity of her training at 35 and finds that her periods resume, will now have the fertility of a 35-year-old, which unfortunately is lower than that of a 25-year-old woman.’

    Carly Yue, a fitness expert and personal trainer, says her periods stopped a number of times when she was exercising intensely.

    ‘It stopped my periods on at least three occasions. The longest time being 18 months,’ Carly tells Metro.co.uk.

    (Picture: Carly Yue / Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I was obsessive about exercise. I placed it at the very top of my priority list. I used exercise as a way to compensate for eating and to maintain very low body fat, rather than for health, fitness and socialising.

    ‘At that time exercise promoted feelings of anxiety as I never felt I had done enough, worked hard enough and I felt very low.’

    For Carly, over-exercising changed her relationship with her body, and she stopped enjoying fitness.

    ‘I didn’t enjoy exercise anymore. I wasn’t as strong, I couldn’t perform at the same level I was used to because I wasn’t eating enough. I had very little energy.

    ‘The gym became a place I felt I had to go. It was a chore rather than a pleasure and it came above any of my other commitments.

    ‘If I was due to eat out socially I’d be on the treadmill for an hour beforehand, even if it meant I was late for my meal. Then, even though I’d barely eaten anything, I’d go back again afterwards.

    ‘Looking back that makes me very sad. As much as I love the gym it’s not more important to me now than my partner, friends and having a life.’

    (Picture: Carly Yue / Metro.co.uk)

    Carly realises that her relationship with exercise became toxic, but the repercussions it had for her reproductive health were, thankfully, only temporary.

    ‘As far as I’m aware there haven’t been any long-term effects on my fertility. I have been checked out and everything appears normal. My periods are regular.

    ‘In all honesty I’ve never tried to get pregnant or been pregnant so I guess I would never know until I tried and even then, other factors could be at play.

    ‘I think it’s unlikely that my fertility has been affected long-term though because I’ve changed my lifestyle. Studies generally say that fertility can go back to normal if you make an effort to recover.

    ‘Women’s reproductive systems are highly sensitive to energy deficits. It’s an inbuilt mechanism – if you don’y eat enough and you train too much at a high level, your periods will be affected. Not only your periods but your bones, particularly your spine, it’s really not worth it.

    ‘I exercise now to be strong, if I had messed my back up I wouldn’t be able to move leg alone go to the gym.’

    Advice for sporty women

    Being active is great and has a lot of benefits on your fertility, but in moderation, as too much can end up having a negative and counter productive effect, as much as being inactive can.

    A lot of this, and how much to exercise, also depends on what levels of fitness your body is already used to. However, there is a theory that very high levels of physical activity can be so energy intensive that the body may not simply have enough energy to maintain all the necessary hormonal mechanisms that enable ovulation and fertilization and could potentially reduce your chances of pregnancy.

    This can often be fixed with a few tweaks to your training if you’re looking to get pregnant and want to remain in good healthy shape. Try swapping your intense interval training sessions, heavy weights, or long runs for more moderate workouts like pilates, yoga, brisk walking or swimming, and include one or two rest days to allow your body to recover.

    Make sure you consult your doctor if you’re not sure, who can provide advice on your exercise regime. And if you’re experiencing any problems with your menstrual cycles, it may be helpful to use a monitor, such as MyLotus, to help you track and understand your cycles better, whilst allowing you to share this information with your doctor.

    Dr. Larisa Corda, fertility expert

    With her reproductive health back on track, Carly is now working hard to maintain a healthy and positive relationship with exercise.

    ‘I met my partner and I decided that I wanted to live my life. I felt happier and more content and I couldn’t have maintained my lifestyle and had a loving relationship too,’ Carly explains.

    ‘When the gym consumes you like that, it sadly becomes your most pressing relationship. For me now, that’s changed.

    ‘I still exercise most days, but I view the gym as a positive place. I promote balance with my personal training clients and I lead by example with them.

    ‘I’m careful to follow my own advice; eat more, rest more and basically give my poor body a break. I look at all the things it does for me and I’m learning to love it, not treat it like I hate it.’

    Regularly missing your periods not only wreaks havoc with your reproductive system, it can also lead to a serious bone condition.

    Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens your bones and can result in serious fractures or breaks. When your periods stop, developing this condition becomes more likely because of the decrease in oestrogen.

    What this doesn’t mean is that you have to stop working out. Being healthy, fit and maintaining a normal body weight all help to improve your fertility – so there’s no need to worry about hitting the gym three times a week.

    Where you need to be careful is over-training. Pushing your body to a limit without replenishing it with rest and food is a fast-track to burnout, illness and menstrual disruption. So make sure you’re being kind to you body – self-care is key.

    Fertility Month

    This story is part of Fertility Month, a month-long series covering all aspects of fertility.

    For the next four weeks, we will be speaking to people at all stages of the fertility journey as well as doctors, lawyers and fertility experts who can shed light on the most important issues.

    If you have a story to tell or a question to ask, please do get in touch at fertilitystories@metro.co.uk.

    Here is a selection of the stories from Fertility Month so far - and you can find all Fertility Month content here.

    MORE: Fertility Month: Why we are talking about fertility this month

    MORE: I found the perfect sperm donor - but I never got my happy ending

    MORE: Plastic could be affecting your fertility – here’s how and why

     

    MORE: How exercise can help you beat jet lag

    MORE: Could ‘Conscious Movement’ be better for you than HIIT?

    MORE: Fertility Month: Why we are talking about fertility this month


    Sweat fetishSweat fetishnataliemorris88now that summer is over, it's harder to harness that springSweat fetishSweat fetishnataliemorris88now that summer is over, it's harder to harness that spring

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    It’s only been a few months since a 200 metre stretch of Genoa’s Morandi bridge collapsed, killing 43 people, leaving hundreds homeless and sparking debate about accountability and Italy’s infrastructure.

    But as you descend into Genoa, you see colourful buildings backed by mountains scattering down to the sea, where huge, hulking cruise ships are berthed, and the industrial practicality of the waterfront has the glossy sheen of regeneration.

    The bridge, a thing of two parts, is all the more jarring in this Italian idyll, its missing section a scar on the landscape.

    Within days, Renzo Piano, globally acclaimed architect and Genoa native, stepped forward to say that he would design his city a new bridge, a commemorative symbol of loss and hope.

    ‘It must be a place where people can recognise the tragedy in some way,’ he said, ‘while also providing a great entrance to the city.’

    Genoa
    Genoa’s colourful houses (Picture: Sarah Rodrigues)

    Goodness knows the city needs it, if only from a practical point of view. Traffic crawls as commuters make their way along alternative routes – and travel to and from the airport takes up to an hour longer than usual.

    But, as the architect said at the preview of his new exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of the Arts, ‘It’s complicated.’

    Not only is there resistance to his plans from industry peers – who believe for reasons of speed and cost-efficiency that the bridge should be repaired rather than demolished and replaced – but also, perhaps, because of attitudes to Renzo Piano himself.

    Speaking to the Genovese people, ‘asciutto’ is a word that comes up again and again.

    Its literal meaning is ‘dry’ and it’s a word, accompanied by a hand gesture that draws down a long poker face, is used to describe a particular Genovese characteristic, a certain reticence, a sternness –  even a lack of enthusiasm or warmth.

    It manifests itself, in this case, in attitudes ranging from ‘he’s an architect, not an engineer – what does he know about building bridges?’ to ‘who is he to make suggestions – he left this place; he is no longer one of us.’

    The Aquarium by the water
    The Aquarium by the water (Picture: Getty)

    Yet, it’s not as though Piano has not given back to the city that spawned him – he revitalised the waterfront in 1992 for the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s (another of the city’s successful sons) first departure to the New World, with three of his creations – the Aquarium, Biosphere and Il Bigo, a panoramic lift – in close proximity to one another.

    Nor, for that matter, has he actually ‘left’ – the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, his light-filled design studio, is located on the city’s western edge.

    It’s built  in a style that mirrors traditional Ligurian greenhouses, and slopes gradually down to the sea in a series of terraces around which greenery is abundant.

    The Renzo Piano Foundation, located down the hill by the water, is open to pre-booked visitors on the first and third Saturday of each month.

    On a more workhorse basis, Genoa’s Metro, which spans a minuscule 7.2 kilometres and comprises just one line and eight stops, boasts no fewer than five stations which are Piano-designed.

    Genoa
    Renzo Piano’s design at play on the underground (Picture: Sarah Rodrigues)

    The trains are as dinky as one might expect from a metro of such toy-town proportions, but in this busy city – Italy’s sixth largest – crowds of people come and go on them, passing through Piano’s strangely graceful spaces every day.

    The use of light, perspex panelling, curved girders, sturdy steel and cool concrete are unmistakable, yet seem oddly accessible.

    For a tourist, it’s the waterfront where you’ll best witness the joy and sharp grace that characterises the architect’s work.

    There’s the Biosphere, a distinctive multi-panelled ball of glass at the water’s edge and, just opposite, the Aquarium.

    This bears no obvious marks of genius, looking very much like a large shipping container from the outside – but its seamlessness within the setting is probably exactly the point; there’s very little drama to its exterior but plenty inside, where sharks and manatees do their slow glide past huge panes of glass, against which unthinkable volumes of water are exerting their pressure.

    Genoa
    The Cetaceans Pavilion, situated next to the Aquarium (Picture: Sarah Rodrigues)

    The Cetaceans Pavilion, which was constructed partially offsite and tug-boated to Genoa, comprises seven levels yet only rises three metres above sea level.

    It’s a design component as clever in execution as sensitive in forethought, and deemed vital by Piano so as not to impede views of the city or the Old Port.

    The Bigo, a short stroll away, makes no attempt to be low-key and is as playful as it is striking. Sculptural and many-armed, it is based on the structure of a crane, a tribute to Genoa’s seafaring history and a visual reminder of the loading cranes on the decks of the cargo ships of the past.

    Ascending on a cable running up its side, the lift takes visitors to a height of 40 metres, slowly rotating twice to offer 360 degree views of the city.

    Spires and domes jut from the jumble of slate rooftops above the narrow carruggi – the maze of narrow laneways that wind through the Old Town – all of which gives way to the airy space of the port and the busy waters beyond.

    An exterior view of Genoa Biosphere. designed by Renzo Piano. Also there are sailing boats on the river, and a city in the background.
    The Genoa Biosphere pictured against the water (Picture: Getty)

    These waters, if Piano is to have his way, could become even busier.

    At the Museo del Mar, which charts Genoa’s maritime history and more recent incarnation as a cruise port, a large installation, entitled How Genoa Could Be sets out the Genovese native’s plans for his city, which include removal of the airport to an artificial island out at sea.

    Other suggestions include creation of an urban park with 12,000 trees, development of nearby Voltri and reorganisation of the shipbuilding area in Sestri.

    Some of the suggestions have been controversial but, as Piano himself says, this was ‘inevitable for a project of such importance’.

    What matters, he says, is to ‘strengthen the role that Genoa has always had in Europe and in the Mediterranean.’

    The plans are incredibly long-term (indeed, given that Renzo Piano is in his 80s, it’s likely that he has no expectation of personally seeing them fulfilled) and detailed.

    Italian architect Renzo Piano works in his office on December 18, 2008 in Genoa. 71 year-old Piano, who won the Pritzker prize in 1998 built the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in 2008 as a green and substainable building. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY EMMANUELLE ANDREANI (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)
    Italian architect Renzo Piano works in his office in 2008 in Genoa (Picture: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

    On a larger scale, Piano was appointed Senator for Life in 2013 and has reassigned his parliamentary salary (estimated to be in the region of €13,000 per month) to young architects engaged in urban regeneration projects throughout the country.

    ‘…Advice to the young: they must travel,’ he says. ‘But not to go away and never return!

    ‘Travel gives you three things. First, you learn languages. Second, you start to understand that differences and diversity are a form of wealth, not an obstacle.

    ‘And finally, you realise how lucky you were to be born in Italy, because if you don’t go away, you risk succumbing to this great beauty and living here in indifference.’

    Surely even an asciuttissimo couldn’t fail to see his commitment?

    Other things to do in Genoa:

    The old fishing village of Boccadasse is a candy coloured jumble of Instagram heaven, with houses picturesquely crowded around a small bay.

    Walk along the Corso Italia to reach it from Genoa, or go by road if you’re pushed for time – either way, its absolute postcard perfection makes it worth the journey.

    More than just a place to come and take a few snaps, however, it’s also a working fishing village.

    So after you’ve explored its narrow alleys and admired the view of those coloured walls against the sea’s blue, head down to restaurant GE8317, a fishing co-operative, where the changing blackboard menu directly reflects what’s been caught that day.

    It doesn’t get much more authentic than this.

    Where to stay in Genoa and how to get there:

    Checking into a place called Hotel Bristol Palace when in Genoa may feel counterintuitive, but one look up at its astonishingly grand staircase will leave you in no doubt as to what country you’re in, not to mention the sweeping and elaborately mosaiced colonnade outside, lined with shops ranging from H&M to Max Mara.

    Rooms combine comfort with low-key opulence, and the hotel bar is an old-school gem, as is the Giotto restaurant, where gold and cream abound with typically Italianate extravagance.

    In terms of centrality, the location is hard to beat, with the Ducal Palace, Carlo Felice Theatre, Old Port and most of the museums and historical architecture all within walking distance.

    Rooms start from €119 per night.

    British Airways flights from London Gatwick to Genoa start from £28 each way

    For more idea about things to do in Genoa, see Visit Genoa’s website.

    MORE: Beyond the holy sites: Where to go in Jerusalem if you love food and culture

    MORE: An Italian spa break: Why Bagno Vignoni in Tuscany is the perfect place to destress

    MORE: What to expect when you sign up for Bear Grylls’ 24-hour survival course


    An exterior view of Genoa Biosphere. designed by Renzo Piano. Also there are sailing boats on the river, and a city in the background.An exterior view of Genoa Biosphere. designed by Renzo Piano. Also there are sailing boats on the river, and a city in the background.qinxieGenoaThe Aquarium by the water GenoaGenoaAn exterior view of Genoa Biosphere. designed by Renzo Piano. Also there are sailing boats on the river, and a city in the background.Italian architect Renzo Piano works in his office on December 18, 2008 in Genoa. 71 year-old Piano, who won the Pritzker prize in 1998 built the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in 2008 as a green and substainable building. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY EMMANUELLE ANDREANI (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)An exterior view of Genoa Biosphere. designed by Renzo Piano. Also there are sailing boats on the river, and a city in the background.An exterior view of Genoa Biosphere. designed by Renzo Piano. Also there are sailing boats on the river, and a city in the background.qinxieGenoaThe Aquarium by the water GenoaGenoaAn exterior view of Genoa Biosphere. designed by Renzo Piano. Also there are sailing boats on the river, and a city in the background.Italian architect Renzo Piano works in his office on December 18, 2008 in Genoa. 71 year-old Piano, who won the Pritzker prize in 1998 built the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in 2008 as a green and substainable building. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY EMMANUELLE ANDREANI (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

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    Behold: A very expensive bra (Picture: Getty)

    The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is a tradition that’s a bit tricky to explain.

    Each year a bunch of very slim models get up on a runway wearing underwear and massive wings. Those very slim models have been carefully selected from a giant list of models who count the show as their dream gig, and are all extremely excited to be there.

    One of those models wears an extra-special bit of underwear, called the Fantasy Bra.

    The Fantasy Bra is, well, a bra. But it’s much posher than your standard bit of underwire.

    The Fantasy Bra gets a redesign each year, but usually a few things are kept consistent: It’s sparkly, it’s hugely expensive, and just one lucky Victoria’s Secret model gets to wear it on the runway.

    New York, NY - Victoria's Secret model Elsa Hosk reveals the $1million 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra created with Swarovski Diamonds at Victoria's Secret 5th Avenue store in New York City. Pictured: Elsa Hosk BACKGRID USA 5 NOVEMBER 2018 BYLINE MUST READ: MediaPunch / BACKGRID USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*
    Here’s Elsa Hosk standing next to the bra she’ll wear at the Victoria’s Secret Show (Picture: MediaPunch / BACKGRID

    This year that model is Elsa Hosk, who became a Victoria’s Secret angel in 2015 after walking the runway for the first time in 2011.

    This year’s Fantasy Bra is, as expected, extremely sparkly and expensive. The bra holds over 2,100 jewels of more than 71 carats. It took over 930 hours to make and is valued at $1million (£765,765).

    In terms of cut, it’s based on the Dream Angels bra, meaning it has a longline silhouette and an underwire, with the addition of more crossbody jewels.

    Elsa Hosk will wear the 2018 #VSFantasyBra by Atelier Swarovski in the VSFashionShow! Victoria?s Secret introduces the highly anticipated 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra designed exclusively for Victoria?s Secret by Atelier Swarovski. Victoria?s Secret Angel Elsa Hosk will wear the Fantasy Bra down the runway when the ?The Victoria?s Secret Fashion Show Holiday Special,? airs SUNDAY, DEC. 2 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET) on The ABC Television Network, streaming and on demand. This year?s fantasy bra was created using 100% Swarovski Created Diamonds and responsibly sourced topaz. Valued at $1 million, the 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra and body chain are adorned with over 2,100 Swarovski Created Diamonds in a sterling silver Dream Angels bra silhouette. The set took over 930 hours to create and has over 71 carats with the center piece. For the first time, customers will be able to purchase a version of the Victoria?s Secret Dream Angels Fantasy Bra made with Swarovski crystals for $250 on THURSDAY, NOV. 29 at select Victoria?s Secret stores and online at victoriassecret.com
    That’s one fancy bra (Picture: Victoria’s Secret)

    Basically, we wouldn’t recommend wearing it underneath any old T-shirt – and not just because it sounds heavy.

    The bra is actually not as fancy as last year’s Fantasy Bra, worn by Lais Ribeiro, if you’re interested in comparisons, or the Fantasy Bra from 2016, which had 9,000 gemstones and more than 450 carats of 18k gold.

    The good news is that if you are keen on getting a sparkly bra, you don’t need to have a spare million. Victoria’s Secret is releasing a more affordable bit of lingerie inspired by the Fantasy Bra on Thursday 29 November.

    The more affordable Fantasy Bra, which costs $250 (Picture: Victoria’s Secret)

    The similar bra is $250 (£191) and covered in Swarovski crystals. It’s not quite as sparkly, but it’s still pretty impressive.

    MORE: Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid confirmed to walk in the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

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    MORE: Bella Hadid somehow makes sheer mesh look good as she struts out of Victoria’s Secret fitting


    The 2018 $1 million Fantasy Bra appears at the Victoria's Secret 5th Avenue Store on MondayThe 2018 $1 million Fantasy Bra appears at the Victoria's Secret 5th Avenue Store on MondayellencscottNew York, NY - Victoria's Secret model Elsa Hosk reveals the $1million 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra created with Swarovski Diamonds at Victoria's Secret 5th Avenue store in New York City. Pictured: Elsa Hosk BACKGRID USA 5 NOVEMBER 2018 BYLINE MUST READ: MediaPunch / BACKGRID USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*Elsa Hosk will wear the 2018 #VSFantasyBra by Atelier Swarovski in the VSFashionShow! Victoria?s Secret introduces the highly anticipated 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra designed exclusively for Victoria?s Secret by Atelier Swarovski. Victoria?s Secret Angel Elsa Hosk will wear the Fantasy Bra down the runway when the ?The Victoria?s Secret Fashion Show Holiday Special,? airs SUNDAY, DEC. 2 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET) on The ABC Television Network, streaming and on demand. This year?s fantasy bra was created using 100% Swarovski Created Diamonds and responsibly sourced topaz. Valued at $1 million, the 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra and body chain are adorned with over 2,100 Swarovski Created Diamonds in a sterling silver Dream Angels bra silhouette. The set took over 930 hours to create and has over 71 carats with the center piece. For the first time, customers will be able to purchase a version of the Victoria?s Secret Dream Angels Fantasy Bra made with Swarovski crystals for $250 on THURSDAY, NOV. 29 at select Victoria?s Secret stores and online at victoriassecret.comThe 2018 $1 million Fantasy Bra appears at the Victoria's Secret 5th Avenue Store on MondayThe 2018 $1 million Fantasy Bra appears at the Victoria's Secret 5th Avenue Store on MondayellencscottNew York, NY - Victoria's Secret model Elsa Hosk reveals the $1million 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra created with Swarovski Diamonds at Victoria's Secret 5th Avenue store in New York City. Pictured: Elsa Hosk BACKGRID USA 5 NOVEMBER 2018 BYLINE MUST READ: MediaPunch / BACKGRID USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*Elsa Hosk will wear the 2018 #VSFantasyBra by Atelier Swarovski in the VSFashionShow! Victoria?s Secret introduces the highly anticipated 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra designed exclusively for Victoria?s Secret by Atelier Swarovski. Victoria?s Secret Angel Elsa Hosk will wear the Fantasy Bra down the runway when the ?The Victoria?s Secret Fashion Show Holiday Special,? airs SUNDAY, DEC. 2 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET) on The ABC Television Network, streaming and on demand. This year?s fantasy bra was created using 100% Swarovski Created Diamonds and responsibly sourced topaz. Valued at $1 million, the 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra and body chain are adorned with over 2,100 Swarovski Created Diamonds in a sterling silver Dream Angels bra silhouette. The set took over 930 hours to create and has over 71 carats with the center piece. For the first time, customers will be able to purchase a version of the Victoria?s Secret Dream Angels Fantasy Bra made with Swarovski crystals for $250 on THURSDAY, NOV. 29 at select Victoria?s Secret stores and online at victoriassecret.com

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    (Picture: Greggs)

    The Christmas adverts are on the telly, and your morning hot drinks are now coming in red cups.

    There’s no getting away from Christmas at this point, and thankfully there are some parts we’re happy not to avoid.

    Greggs’ festive bake is one such thing, and they’re due to arrive in stores very soon.

    To celebrate their release, Greggs is giving away 1,600 of them at locations across the country absolutely free.

    All you have to do is turn up at the selected stores at 4pm on Wednesday 7 November, and ask for your complimentary bake.

    Once they’re gone they’re gone, though, so get there in plenty of time.

    Where to get your free treat

    • Aberdare – 22A Victoria Square
    • Aberdeen – 55 Union Street
    • Belfast – 52/54 Botanic Avenue
    • Birmingham – 85 New Street, Birmingham New Street Station
    • Bristol – 87 Broadmead
    • Cardiff – 34 Queen Street
    • Durham – 2/3 Saddler Street
    • Edinburgh – Unit 12 Waverley Mall
    • Enfield – Epping Forest Retail Park
    • Glasgow – 162/164 Buchanan Street
    • Leeds – Central Arcade
    • Liverpool – 21 Bold Street
    • London – 111 Great Portland Street
    • Manchester – City Tower, Parker Street
    • Plymouth – 54 New George Street
    • Sunderland – Phoenix House, Union Street

    For those not familiar with the savoury snack, it includes chicken breast, sage & onion stuffing and bacon in a creamy sage and cranberry sauce, all wrapped up in puff pastry and a crunchy crumb.

    If you miss out on the giveaway, they’ll be available nationwide on Thursday 8 November, and will be priced at £1.50 each.

    You can also get more of the Christmas range then, which includes pigs in blankets (as a pig on blanket baguette), a chocolate and cherry muffin, and Christmas lunch soup.

    MORE: Army wages war on Greggs as soldiers banned from ‘standing outside eating a pasty’

    MORE: Christmas sandwiches have arrived… in October


    Festive Bake-6a9eFestive Bake-6a9ejessicacvlFestive Bake-6a9eFestive Bake-6a9ejessicacvl

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    Mastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA- AND IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.
    Rocky is a very large dog (Picture: RSPCA/SWNS.COM)

    Meet Rocky, a very large dog.

    Rocky is a mastiff-cross who’s bigger than a pony. He’s looking for a home after being found as a stray on Chobham Common in Surrey.

    Staff at the RSPCA’s Millbrook animal centre managed to trace his original owners, who said they could no longer meet the dog’s needs.

    To be fair, Rocky does have some sizeable needs. He makes his way through a kilo of food every day and loves to run around – so will need a home with a large garden.

    When Rocky was found he was underweight and covered in pressure sores. Now he weighs more than 70kg and is back in a healthy and happy state.

    Mastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA- AND IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.
    Now he’s looking for a home (Picture: RSPCA/SWNS.COM)

    ‘Rocky hasn’t had it easy and has lived outside most of his life,’ Millbrook deputy manager, Liz Wood, said.

    ‘He loves to go for walks around the paddocks here and say hello to the ponies – I think he feels like he fits in better in the stables as he’s the same size as some of our miniature Shetlands! Jack and Percy are 7.2hh and Rocky stands taller than both of them!’

    The RSPCA hope to find Rocky a home with owners who have experience with larger breeds. They’ll need plenty of space and will need to dedicate time to Rocky’s training and care.

    ‘Rocky is definitely larger than life but he’s a big softie at heart,’ said Liz.

    Mastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA, with Millbrook Animal Centre's Liz Wood. Rocky IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.
    Rocky with Liz (Picture: RSPCA/SWNS.COM)

    ‘While some people may find his size a bit intimidating, he’s just a gentle giant.

    ‘He absolutely loves his toys and enjoys nothing more than cuddling up to a teddy bear for a nap on his special memory foam mattress – it’s utterly adorable!

    ‘He also loves playing with footballs and, despite being seven, he really seems to have discovered his inner puppy again since arriving here.

    Mastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA- AND IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.
    (Picture: RSPCA/SWNS.COM)

    ‘As he used to live outside he will need time to adapt to life inside the home and may need some house training and time to get used to going in a car.

    ‘He would like someone who is around for more of the day to help him settle and then teach him that it’s okay to be left alone.’

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    Rocky the dog as big as a horse needs new homeRocky the dog as big as a horse needs new homeellencscottMastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA- AND IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.Mastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA- AND IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.Mastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA, with Millbrook Animal Centre's Liz Wood. Rocky IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.Mastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA- AND IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.Rocky the dog as big as a horse needs new homeRocky the dog as big as a horse needs new homeellencscottMastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA- AND IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.Mastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA- AND IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.Mastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA, with Millbrook Animal Centre's Liz Wood. Rocky IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.Mastiff-cross Rocky, who was found stray on Chobham Common, Surrey by the RSPCA- AND IS BIGGER THAN A PONY! See National News story NNpony. Rescuers looking after a pony-sized dog who eats 1kg of food every day are looking for an owner to take on the huge hound - but insist he?s a ?big softie? who is more likely to steal your teddy bear than frighten the postman.Mastiff-cross Rocky was found straying on Chobham Common, in Surrey, just seven miles from the RSPCA?s Millbrook Animal Centre, which he now calls home.RSPCA staff managed to trace his owner who felt they could no longer meet his needs and asked the charity to find him a new home.The seven-year-old has now been living at the centre, in Chobham, since August and staff are hoping the gentle giant will find a new owner with space in their heart (and home!) for the 70kg dog.

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    medication illustration
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Recently, I was interviewed on BBC TV about my experiences with long-term mental illness and self-harm. Watching the recording back, I felt thoroughly miserable – not because of what I said, but because of how I looked.

    Over the past couple of years, I’ve ballooned from a size 10 to a size 16, and while I’m all for the body positivity movement in principle, I struggle to find anything positive in the way I look right now.

    I look in the mirror and I barely recognise myself, and I hold my mental health meds responsible.

    A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that people who are taking antidepressants are 21% more likely to gain weight, and there’s no question that I’ve ballooned since taking my current regimen of mental health meds.

    Dr Pablo Vandenabeele, clinical director for mental health at Bupa UK, agrees that medications prescribed for depression, bipolar and other mental illnesses can be associated with weight gain.

    ‘Some antidepressants and antipsychotics can increase your chances of putting on weight, although how each person responds to the medications will differ,’ he explains.

    Indeed, two of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the UK – citalopram and sertraline – both list weight gain as a possible side-effect, while the less widely used mirtazapine was linked with the biggest increase in weight in the BMJ study.

    Certain antipsychotics, such as olanzapine, quetiapine and risperidone, are also known to cause weight gain.

    I hold quetiapine at least partly responsible for my own weight problems. It was when I started taking it two years ago that I began to gain weight, and I hate the way it’s affected my body.

    I hate being one of the fattest parents standing in the school playground, surrounded by slender yummy mummies. I hate having a wardrobe of lovely clothes that I can’t wear. I hate the way walking uphill leaves me sweaty and breathless. I hate having my picture taken.

    It’s a feeling that Carolyn, who takes medication for depression and anxiety, can identify with.

    plus size woman
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I’m heavier than I want to be, and things just don’t fit, but I won’t buy bigger clothes so I live in yoga trousers,’ she says.

    ‘I don’t make any effort with my appearance, and feel like a scruffy bag lady. When your confidence is almost nil, feeling like you look awful doesn’t help one bit.’

    So what is it about mental health meds that so often leads to weight gain?

    It’s likely to be a complex combination of factors, says Dr Vandenabeele, including changes in appetite and metabolism and a lack of energy for exercise.

    ‘Some of my patients say their appetite has increased and it takes them longer to feel full, so they eat more than they usually would,’ he explains.

    ‘Some people tend to comfort eat when they’re feeling down, while others lose motivation and aren’t as active as they used to be. This, along with the medication, could be the cause of weight gain.’

    Carolyn agrees: ‘I was going to the gym, but I’ve lost the energy and motivation to go regularly.’

    One common problem is that mental health issues can themselves affect our appetite and weight, meaning that some of us are hit by a ‘double whammy’ effect where our illnesses lead us to comfort eat, and our medication also contributes to weight gain.

    I have to admit that my diet can be pretty poor, and that I’m less active than I should be, but I’m certain that my meds regime has played a major role in my weight gain, too.

    It’s taking a huge toll on my self-esteem: I just want the old me back.

    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    According to Dr Vandenabeele, however, gaining weight on mental health meds isn’t inevitable.

    ‘Some medications come with a higher risk of weight gain, but not all of them: the effects come down to how you respond to the medication,’ he explains.

    ‘Just because one person puts on weight with a particular medication doesn’t mean you will. Be aware of the side effects of your medication before you start taking it, and discuss your concerns with your GP.’

    At times, I’ve toyed with coming off my meds in an attempt to lose weight, but I’m too scared of destabilising my mental health to take that step, and Dr Vandenabeele warns against stopping medications without due consideration.

    ‘Don’t stop taking your medication without medical support,’ he advises. ‘If you’re concerned about side effects, speak to your GP, who can look at alternatives for you.’

    There are things we can do if we’re struggling with weight gain associated with mental health meds.

    ‘If you do find you have an increased appetite, consider the foods you’re eating,’ Dr Vandenabeele says. ‘By snacking on fruit and vegetables, rather than a fatty or sugary treat, you’ll be able to manage your weight a bit better.’

    It’s advice I should definitely heed. I find myself trapped in a vicious circle where I feel rubbish about the way I look, which then makes me miserable, and sends me in the direction of the biscuit tin rather than the fruit bowl.

    ‘Exercise is also important, not just for your physical health, but your mental health, too,’ says Dr Vandenabeele. ‘A workout can make you feel like you’ve accomplished something in the day, help you sleep better and help fight off weight gain.’

    The problem is that it’s not easy to exercise if you’re feeling anxious or depressed, and feeling self-conscious about my figure puts me off going for a swim or run: I’m sure people will be looking at me and laughing at my size.

    Following a meeting with my psychiatrist last week, it’s now looking likely that I’ll have a change of meds in the near future. And although my main objective is to improve my mental health, I’m hoping that switching to a different treatment might help me shed some of the three stone I’ve gained since starting my current regime.

    I want to be able to wear my favourite dress again. I want to be able to run around with my kids without losing my breath. I want to look at myself in the mirror and feel OK about what’s reflected back.

    But having been to hell and back as a result of severe depression, if it’s a choice between being slim and ill or fat and well, a healthy mind takes priority over a healthy body every time.

    MORE: Antidepressants were supposed to help me but they ended up making me impotent

    MORE: Can yoga help with fertility issues?

    MORE: I’m all for medical cannabis, but let’s not assume it’s better than medication for mental health issues


    Getting better series: A year of antidepressantsGetting better series: A year of antidepressantsmymummylifemedication illustrationplus size womanGetting better series: A year of antidepressantsGetting better series: A year of antidepressantsmymummylifemedication illustrationplus size woman

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    Illustration of a man and a woman parting ways, holding divorce paperwork
    (Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)

    Scrolling through Facebook, you get that familiar feeling.

    It seems like every week, there’s another engagement or wedding filling up your social media feeds.

    But what’s it like if you’ve already been there, done that and got the ring – but then it’s all fallen apart?

    Going through divorce when you’re young and most of your friends haven’t even got married yet can be tough. It can lead to feelings of failure and a serious confidence knock.

    And there are practical concerns too – how many millennials can afford an expensive divorce lawyer?

    Bronni was just 21 when she got married. She met her husband in her final year of university while he was stationed at an RAF base nearby.

    Just months later, they were walking down the aisle.

    ‘We had to decide pretty quickly if we’d call it a day or take the plunge and commit,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘We met in March 2014 and got married in December 2014 before he was posted to a new camp.

    ‘This enabled us to have a home together and for me to move with him when I graduated.

    ‘I was obviously a little wary given how much of a whirlwind our relationship had been but I really did see a future together, albeit very different from the one I’d imagined for myself at such a young age.’

    (Illustration: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)

    A year later, the couple discovered they were expecting their first child, but when Bronni’s husband went through a bereavement, cracks started to appear.

    She says: ‘He seemed to make a conscious effort to push me away. He thought that this was protecting me but I felt like I was going through a very difficult pregnancy alone.

    ‘I attempted to seek help from counsellors but he didn’t really seem to want to engage.

    ‘It became clear to me that our priorities were very different as he chose to leave the RAF in order to spend more time as a family but he became focused on a new career and it put a massive strain on our relationship.’

    Before their son turned one, they discovered they were expecting another baby but at their first scan, they found out that the baby had died.

    ‘I found it pretty traumatic but I felt that he didn’t really acknowledge it and once again shut down and seemingly acted as though it didn’t happen,’ she explains.

    (Picture: Getty)

    ‘We spent most days arguing and the atmosphere at home became very stressed and my mental health really suffered.

    ‘I once again pushed for counselling but this didn’t seem like an avenue that he wanted to pursue and instead he felt that a divorce was the best option for us so he filed for it in February 2018.

    ‘I felt incredibly scared as the pressure to single-handedly care for our son lay solely on my shoulders.

    ‘I know that in effect I’d always felt like a single parent as my husband had always worked away from home so in reality it wasn’t too much of a change.

    ‘Once the legalities and financial aspects of our separation were sorted, I felt much more of a sense of relief and positivity.

    ‘I felt better in myself than I had in months and I really started to enjoy life again and had much more motivation.

    ‘I’m able to be the best mother I can be now and my days are filled with doing things for our family of two, rather than having unnecessary stresses, pressure and upset to contend with.’

    Although Bronni learnt to embrace her new life, she was worried about how others would react to her being a young divorcee – particularly as she had kept a lot of their relationship troubles hidden.

    ‘Other people were shocked as I’d hidden just how miserable and dysfunctional we were for some time.

    (Picture: Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I’d tried for so long to create the illusion of a perfect happy home and family but I realised that all three of our lives would be better if my husband and I separated so that was my focus rather than others’ reactions,’ she says.

    Although they had broken up, Bronni had to learn to continue to see her now ex-husband and let him into the home they had previously shared, for the sake of their young son. This included letting him stay in the house overnight and going on days out together.

    Now, over seven months on, she admits seeing him regularly is still difficult.

    ‘We disagree over certain things and it’s really hard when you’re the one caring for a child 99% of the time and meeting their basic needs as obviously the other parent can sometimes be the ‘fun’ one who can buy them expensive treats and provide things that you can’t,’ she explains.

    ‘I’m giving our son all I can and I’m giving him a happy, stable and fulfilled life so I need to keep reminding myself of that when certain aspects of ‘co-parenting’ upset me.

    Even when children aren’t involved, going through a divorce is not straightforward.

    Suaad was 25 when she got married in May 2017 but ended up asking for a divorce in November 2017.

    She had been with her partner for two years before their wedding day, which she said was a lovely day.

    But just a few months after walking down the aisle the couple started to argue.

    ‘Before the wedding, everything was good and I didn’t have any doubts. The day itself was stressful but I really enjoyed it,’ Suaad tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘For the first few months, it was fine but by the end of September, things were getting rocky. I started to realise it wasn’t the right choice. I tried to make it work but by November, I just felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. It was a buildup of things and it was getting worse and worse.’

    In November, just six months after their wedding, Suaad asked her husband for a divorce and moved out.

    ‘When it came to asking for a divorce, there was a sense of relief. I was just glad that terrible time was coming to an end.

    ‘I spoke to my parents before I mentioned it to him and they said they would support me no matter what. Neither of us were happy so I felt there was no point continuing,’ she says.

    Royalty-Free Stock Photography by Rubberball
    (Picture: Getty Images/Rubberball)

    But living as a Muslim, Suaad admits that she faced judgement from her community.

    She says: ‘When I said I was getting divorced, everyone suddenly had an opinion about what I should have to do.

    ‘People were quite judgmental – it wasn’t my family – but I felt like people in my community were.

    ‘They were saying things about how I wouldn’t be able to get remarried because people wouldn’t want to marry someone who has been married before. It comes with a stigma – like I’m not ‘pure’ anymore.

    ‘It was ok though – my happiness was more important. I felt like even if it meant I would never remarry, I would rather be happy.

    ‘Rather than making everyone else happy, I have to put myself first.’

    A year on from separating from her husband, Suaad is trying to move on.

    ‘I wouldn’t say I never want to get married again – just because I had a bad experience doesn’t mean the whole thing is terrible, but I am wary of people and relationships.

    ‘I’m not looking for anything but maybe someday, if I did meet someone, I wouldn’t be against getting married again.

    ‘Right now I am focusing on my life and my career,’ she said.

    Getting over a divorce or breakup at any age is not easy but Simone Thorogood, a counsellor with Relate, has some advice for what to do, particularly if you are young.

    ‘Whether you are young or old, the situation is very similar. There is a feeling of failure that it didn’t work out but you can learn from the experience and have positive relationships in the future,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Young people sometimes feel like time is running out. I do think it is worth seeing a counsellor to start to develop a different narrative around your experience. Sometimes you end a relationship and you don’t fully understand what happened.

    ‘I have seen quite a lot of young people who have just got divorced and I think they feel that they haven’t developed themselves an an individual because they married young. Your twenties are important years to develop who you are and what you do.

    ‘When the relationship ends, you might feel like you missed out on things. You should start to explore yourself again and start to build your own self-worth as an individual.

    ‘When you are younger, your parents are often quite a lot more involved in your life. You look to them no matter what age you are but often more so when you are younger.

    ‘They might be an amazing source of support for you but they might also say things such as “I told you so”. Be careful and put some boundaries up.

    ‘It’s important that you have self-care and surround yourself with positive people. Your friends who aren’t married might not have the empathy that you need.

    ‘They might dismiss it because you are young and you still have time so find the right people.

    How can I get help?

    Relate is the UK’s largest provider of relationship support. If you want to talk to someone about a relationship and get some support, you can find your nearest Relate Centre and give them a call.

    ‘If you have children, that person is in your life and it’s not a clean break. You don’t want your child to be caught in the conflict. You need to try and have a space where you can speak rationally and try to build some sort of friendship for your children.

    ‘That again may involve counselling because that is where you can just talk with somebody else helping you.

    ‘If people are going through a break-up and they can’t afford a lawyer, you can go through mediation who can help with the legal aspects and make negotiations to decide what to do before you take that to a lawyer.’

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    Divorce isn't all bad - sometimes it can help you better understand yourself (Frances Coleman)Divorce isn't all bad - sometimes it can help you better understand yourself (Frances Coleman)lauraabernethy6Royalty-Free Stock Photography by RubberballDivorce isn't all bad - sometimes it can help you better understand yourself (Frances Coleman)Divorce isn't all bad - sometimes it can help you better understand yourself (Frances Coleman)lauraabernethy6Royalty-Free Stock Photography by Rubberball

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    Carol and Mike back in 1972 (PA Real Life/Box Hill School)
    Carol and Mike met as schoolkids in 1974 (Picture: PA Real Life/Box Hill School)

    In 1972, Carol Verity Mann was 12 and studying at a boarding school near Dorking in Surrey. She was smitten with a 14-year-old boy – Mike Sebbage.

    After dating for two years, drummer Mike left the school which sadly meant the end of their puppy love. Carol thought she’d never see him again.

    That was until 39 years later when the former couple got back in touch via now-defunct website Friends Reunited.

    Chatting away like old friends, they fell back in love and tied the knot in 2015 – combining their six children from previous marriages.

    Lovebirds Carol and Mike (Collect/PA Real Life)
    They reunited in 2011 on a friends reunion website (Picture: PA Real Life/Box Hill School)

    Carol, 58, from Cockfosters, north London said: ‘I never thought I would marry my first love. I look at the old picture of us and cannot believe we found each other again.

    ‘Mike is the nicest, kindest man and I am so happy we were reunited. He was so cool and gorgeous. I can remember writing “I love Mike” on my school books, after seeing him for the first time on the school lawn.

    ‘Even though Mike left school, we still continued our little romance. He’d come to see me and visit his old pals. But, over time, the visits and the letters became less and less frequent and dried up.

    ‘I was genuinely heartbroken, after being in love with him for nearly two years.’

    Carol and Mike are now married (Collect/PA Real Life)
    They then tied the knot in 2015  (Picture: PA Real Life/Box Hill School)

    In their 39-year time apart, Carol and Mike both fell in love and married their respective partners, starting a family with them.

    But by 2011, Carol’s relationship had just finished and Mike’s had been over for some time. They were able to get to know each other once again and catch up on the three decades they missed.

    After just two weeks of chatting online, they decided to meet again, heading on a picnic near their old stomping ground, near Box Hill School.

    As soon as he saw Carol, Mike went in for a kiss.

    ‘He put his finger to his lips, as if to say, “don’t say a thing,” and then kissed me. We hadn’t even said hello.

    ‘That was it for both of us. We knew it was love and we have been together ever since. It was perfect, Mike was the same and I felt so young around him.’

    Carol and Mike are now married (Collect/PA Real Life)
    (Picture: PA Real Life/Box Hill School)

    After revealing the relationship to their children, the couple moved in together and got married in 2015.

    They now work together on a digital business.

    ‘It is strange that the internet brought us back together and now is the bread and butter of our business,’ said Mike.

    ‘Seeing Carol again was incredible, 39 years after we first met in 1972. We hadn’t seen each other for so long but she was exactly as I remembered.

    ‘She is very warm-hearted and I have even written a song for her too, she is the love of my life.’

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    Couple who fell in love as teens are reunited 39 years laterCouple who fell in love as teens are reunited 39 years laterfaimabakar1Carol and Mike back in 1972 (PA Real Life/Box Hill School)Lovebirds Carol and Mike (Collect/PA Real Life)Carol and Mike are now married (Collect/PA Real Life)Carol and Mike are now married (Collect/PA Real Life)Couple who fell in love as teens are reunited 39 years laterCouple who fell in love as teens are reunited 39 years laterfaimabakar1Carol and Mike back in 1972 (PA Real Life/Box Hill School)Lovebirds Carol and Mike (Collect/PA Real Life)Carol and Mike are now married (Collect/PA Real Life)Carol and Mike are now married (Collect/PA Real Life)

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    Pic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in Bali.) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.
    Martin was born with diabetes and a rare bone disease, which caused physical and mental pain  (Picture: Caters News Agency)

    Martin Ziervogel wants to give hope to others struggling.

    He knows about life’s challenges. He was born with a rare bone disease as well as diabetes and suffered abuse throughout his childhood, which led to depression.

    It’s taken a lot of work to get to a healthy place.

    But rather than seeing himself as a victim, Martin wants to be a hero, raising awareness of abuse and giving hope to those struggling.

    ‘In my childhood and adolescence, I was repeatedly sexually abused,’ he explains on his fundraising page. ‘I suffer from a rare metabolic disease, so I was always physically disadvantaged and did not always have it easy in my school days.

    ‘Due to these negative experiences in my childhood I fell into a deep alcohol addiction. This went on for many years because I could not understand the past and wanted to suppress everything.

    Pic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in Thailand) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.
    He’s now in a healthy place, and wants to use his experiences to help other people (Picture: Caters News Agency)

    ‘I had no desire to live anymore, after many crashes, stays in a psychiatric clinic and many unpleasant experiences, I woke up.

    ‘I know what it’s like to be abused, and I want to help the children deal better with their suffering.’

    In May Martin embarked on a 4,500km cycle through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia. He plans to keep cycling – and then walking – around the world to continue inspiring people suffering with mental and physical illness.

    The next part of his trip will mean ditching the bike to travel by foot through the Himalayas, followed by a trip up Mount Everest.

    It’s no easy feat. Martin’s diabetes has caused bone deformity and bow-leggedness, while the isolation of travelling alone has taken its toll.

    Pic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in Laos.) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.
    Martin is travelling the world to raise money for charity (Picture: Caters News Agency)

    ‘The hardest part is the solitude of going through it all alone,’ he says.

    ‘But I have already met or been contacted by so many people by who told me they have been through the same thing and how I have made a difference.

    ‘It makes my heart jump and gives me the strength to finish the rest of this journey with a smile on my face.’

    But he’s found that exercise has helped him to combat his depression – discovering a passion for Ironman challenges has helped him through low moments and given him a sense of purpose.

    Pic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in the Cambodian Market.) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.
    He hopes to give people hope when they have none left (Picture: Caters News Agency)

    Martin’s journey around the world is raising money for a German organisation that helps sexually abused children, as well as for the Special Olympics. He’s raised thousands so far.

    ‘I decided to become a hero rather than a victim by giving hope to those who don’t have any left,’ says Martin.

    ‘I know how it feels to be abused, and the reality is that a lot of people turn a blind eye. This journey is about raising awareness so it can be detected early.

    ‘My physical handicap made school a living hell, and these experiences left me full of shame, disgust and fear.

    ‘My dream is to show these kids that life is always worth living, no matter how much it feels that way.’

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

    For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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    MORE: Is weight gain inevitable when you’re taking mental health medication?


    ABUSE VICTIMS TRAVEL JOURNEYABUSE VICTIMS TRAVEL JOURNEYellencscottPic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in Bali.) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in Thailand) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in Laos.) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in the Cambodian Market.) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.ABUSE VICTIMS TRAVEL JOURNEYABUSE VICTIMS TRAVEL JOURNEYellencscottPic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in Bali.) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in Thailand) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in Laos.) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Caters News - (Pictured: Martin in the Cambodian Market.) - A disabled German child abuse victim is taking the trip of a lifetime with a round-the-world charity journey. Martin Ziervogel, 29, was born with a rare bone disease and suffered from abuse in his childhood that left him plagued by depression. Early this year, the former factory worker dreamed up the idea of giving back to those who had been down the same path by raising much-needed funds for children with disabilities and victims of abuse. Martin began his pilgrimage in Vietnam by embarking on a 4,500km cycle journey through the wilds of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and hes showing no signs of slowing down. SEE CATERS COPY.

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    (Picture: Jillian Benfield/Facebook)

    If you’ve read Nigel Slater’s book, Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger, then you’ll know how food is a metaphor for love.

    In it, he talks about how his mum had always given the kids the better, less-burnt pieces of toast. This kind of love may be the most motherly thing to do but it extends to relationships too.

    One woman shared the same simple but powerful message that her grandfather taught her about maintaining a successful relationship; ‘Give them the better toast’, he said.

    Blogger Jillian Benfield shared an image of golden and burnt slices of toast on her Facebook, recalling her grandad’s words.

    Talking about her grandparents, who have been happily married for over 50 years, she shared his secret to a successful relationship.

    ‘Well, if there are two pieces of toast, and one looks better than the other, I give her the better toast,’ he said.

    The analogy really resonated with Jillian who felt it’s a strong metaphor about the way we should treat our partners.

    ‘Maybe it really is that simple. In the stress of running a house, working jobs, and raising kids, our spouses can often get the worse of us. When we have nothing left, we tend to feed ourselves instead of each other.

    ‘But what if we give our husbands and wives the better portion of what we do have? What would happen if we offer up the better toast, the bigger dinner helping, the better wine pour, the first shower, the last piece of cake, the best spot on the couch?

    ‘Maybe if we consistently give more of our small things, it will open up room for bigger things to grow; we’ll see more grace, more affection, and ultimately build a stronger love,’ she wrote.

    ‘If we put our spouses’ happiness above our own, both husband and wife get fed. Well fed people are happier people, happier people have happier marriages. I think that’s what great-grandpa meant.

    ‘Give them the better toast, you’ll be thankful you did.’

    Other couples shared their sweet habits with their partners on the Facebook post.

    One woman wrote: ‘My husband almost always gives me the first drink on a fresh opened Coke. I usually give him the last bite of any sweet treat.’

    While another reflected on her relationship, saying: ‘Unfortunately it is incredibly easy, though not purposeful, to neglect each other in the daily craziness of our lives. I know I am guilty of that.

    ‘The distractions around us are many today. This is a wise reminder to take note of where we are in our lives periodically, there always is room for growth and improvement!’

    Wise words.

    MORE: Couple who fell in love as teens reunite 39 years later and get married

    MORE: Isn’t it time to ditch the word ‘gentleman’?

    MORE: Divorce at 25: What’s it like when all your friends are just getting engaged but your marriage is over?


    Granddad says secret to his 50-year marriage is giving his wife the better toastGranddad says secret to his 50-year marriage is giving his wife the better toastfaimabakar1Granddad says secret to his 50-year marriage is giving his wife the better toastGranddad says secret to his 50-year marriage is giving his wife the better toastfaimabakar1

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    The first things that came to mind when I thought of Singapore were skyscrapers, a big city panorama and Raffles Hotel.

    Before I arrived, I had no idea that Singapore is, in fact, Asia’s greenest city. It’s full of parks, green spaces, and has a strong commitment to reducing waste, planting trees and sustainability.

    This became pretty apparent as soon as we landed and began our journey from the airport, to the city centre.

    The roads are lined with palms, frangipani, ferns and orchids, and everywhere you look, you see green. Buildings are covered in flora, bridges have stunning plants draping from them; Singapore is undoubtedly green.

    (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    And it doesn’t stop there. The government has a strategy to transform Singapore from a ‘Garden City’ to a ‘city in a garden’ and raise the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora.

    So, on our trip we decided to explore the city’s parks, gardens and green spaces, as well as experiencing the city within this ‘garden’.

    Even getting to Singapore is now greener, we flew Norwegian – the most fuel-efficient transatlantic airline – in their extremely comfortable premium seats.

    Gardens by the Bay’s panoramic walk way (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    First thing on our agenda was Gardens by the Bay.

    Since it opened in 2012, pictures of this stunning park have covered Instagram and social media channels.

    Gardens by the Bay is now one of the most popular attractions in Singapore and has received over 20 million visitors since its opening

    There is no denying it’s an impressive and beautiful space. .

    The 101-hectare park features lush gardens, two huge atriums with plants from across the globe, as well as the artistic ‘super trees’.

    The many super trees in Gardens by the Bay (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    The latter tree-like structures range from 25 to 50 metres high, and display exotic vines, flowers, and ferns that grow up and down the ‘trunks’.

    As well as being visually pleasing, they serve a function too; creating solar energy and collecting rainwater for use in other areas of the park.

    Connecting two of these super trees is the OCBC Skyway, a walkway which offers spectacular views of the gardens and the striking Marina Bay Sands hotel next door.

    Gardens by the Bay at night (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    Be sure to catch the evening light and music show, which takes place twice daily once the sun goes down.

    Gardens by the bay costs £16 (SGD $28.00) per adult and £8.50 (SGD $15.00) per child (standard entry, including Flower Dome and Cloud Forest).

    Next up was the Botanic Gardens. This Unesco World Heritage site is older than Singapore!

    Singapore Botanic Gardens (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    The 82-hectare gardens contains more than 10,000 species of flora, and is a tranquil oasis from the noise of the city.

    A definite highlight is the National Orchid Garden. The Botanic Gardens began orchid breeding in 1928 and is now at the forefront of orchid studies.

    The garden contains over 1,000 species of orchid and 2,000 hybrids, including those gifted to and named after celebrities, dignitaries and heads of state who have visited the gardens.

    You’ll also see plenty of Vanda Miss Joaquim, a hybrid climbing orchid and Singapore’s national flower.

    Entry to the Botanic Gardens is free, and entry to the National Orchid Garden is £3 (SGD $5).

    One of the many orchids on display (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    On our final day, we headed to the Southern Ridges.

    This is a 10km chain of green open spaces and trails. You can choose to walk all of it or just a section.

    After a short drive out of the city centre, we ascended Mount Faber to our starting point: Henderson Waves.

    Henderson Waves is a bridge connecting Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill Park and is Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge.

    Its unusual design is eye-catching and offers a visual explanation to the name.

    Henderson Waves (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    From here, we walked through forest, gardens and over an impressive raised walkway.

    It did not feel like being in the city and we spotted beautiful wild birds, as well as stunning flowers and trees along the way.

    We ended our walk at another beautiful spot – Hort Park.

    This isn’t your average park and is billed as the first one-stop gardening lifestyle hub in Asia.

    As well as enjoying the beautiful landscaped gardens, you can take part in workshops, tours and talks to learn about all things gardening.

    (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    Even after five days, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the many green spaces in Singapore, which really is becoming a city in a garden.

    Other things to do while in Singapore:

    You can’t visit Singapore without eating at one of the many hawker centres.

    The food is cheap and delicious, with a plethora of cuisines and options available.

    You can even eat Michelin-starred hawker food at Hawker Chan, whose soy chicken and rice was awarded a star in 2016!

    Hawker Chan (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    If budget isn’t an issue, splash out on a meal at a high-end Michelin-starred restaurant.

    We went to Candlenut in Dempsey Hill, close to the Botanic Gardens.

    This Peranakan restaurant offers a delicious tasting menu called ‘ah-ma-kase’, which features traditional Straits-Chinese cuisine with a contemporary twist. The ‘ah-ma-kase’ menu costs from £48.60 (SGD $88) per person.

    Also wander around Kampong Glam, a beautiful district in the east of the city, with colourful houses and quirky bars and cafes.

    Instagram Photo

    Finally, take a city tour with a local guide who will show you the city’s landmarks and best hawker stalls to eat at.

    Where to stay in Singapore and how to get there:

    The gorgeous fan-shaped Mandarin Oriental hotel has one of Singapore’s most beautiful swimming pools and gorgeous suites. Double rooms start from £223 (SGD $399), including breakfast.

    Also try the Oasia Hotel Downtown, a striking looking building covered in plants, with an incredible roof top pool.

    A superior room here starts from £134 (SGD $240), including breakfast.

    (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet – Oasia Downtown Hotel)

    Fly with Norwegian from London Gatwick to Singapore in Premium from only £559.90 one way, which includes more than one metre of legroom and lounge access.

    Economy fares start from £159.90 one way.

    (Top picture: Hayley Lewis)

    Hayley Lewis is a travel writer, blogger and producer. For more on food in Singapore head to alovelyplanet.com or follow Hayley on Instagram, YouTubeTwitter or Facebook.

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    Hayley Lewis - A Lovely Planet - Singapore - Super Trees 1-eec7Hayley Lewis - A Lovely Planet - Singapore - Super Trees 1-eec7hayleyalovelyplanetcomHayley Lewis - A Lovely Planet - Singapore - Super Trees 1-eec7Hayley Lewis - A Lovely Planet - Singapore - Super Trees 1-eec7hayleyalovelyplanetcom

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    That’ll be a tenner per carrot, please (Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)

    Your wedding will likely be one of the happiest days of your life.

    Showing your loved ones that you’re in love with ‘the one’, dancing the night away, and eating and drinking whatever you damn well want.

    For your guests, however, (even if they’re super keen to support you and shower you with kindness) it is one ceremony in a long yearly calendar of them.

    When it comes to the woman in a now-viral Facebook post, that thought clearly didn’t cross her mind.

    A post shared by her cousin detailed an extensive A4 list of rules for guest, with the most shocking one for readers seemingly being that they chip in $40 (around £22) each for their own dinner.

    The bride, who is reported to be 19, said, ‘Guests are asked to pay for their own meals, the cost of this is $40 per head. We will provide a few jugs of basic soft drink and water per table however please note alcohol is at your own expense.’

    Comments on the piece were as you might expect, with one person saying: ‘I certainly wouldn’t go. Thankfully, I don’t know anyone amongst family or friends that would organise such a classless wedding’ and another chiming in with ‘where on earth do they get the gall?’

    The reaction is clear, but what isn’t as straightforward is why this is such an abhorrent concept for people.

    Given that the bride said they weren’t expecting gifts (or that those who did want to buy presents could donate as little as $5 to their honeymoon), is it so bad for guests to put towards their own meals and drinks?

    It’s certainly a fine line, but one which one bride we spoke to, Georgina Hamilton, was happy to cross.

    The 32-year-old lived in Brighton and works as a HR manager for Procoal. When she got married two years ago, there were 80 guests that she asked to contribute for food and drinks.

    She told Metro.co.uk, ‘Our costs were jumping through the roof and we simply couldn’t afford it all. We worked out a huge amount was going on either food or drink, so we made it a bar where people would buy their own drinks and had menu’s on the table but they still had to order their own food.’

    Costs depended on what was ordered, but food came in at around £28 a head, and people still brought presents along.

    Instead of being incensed, Georgina says ‘I didn’t hear any complaints, but you never know what people are saying in the background. I have a great set of family and friends, so I don’t think any moaned.’

    She does say, however, that she’s ‘sure they must have had a silent word on the topic.’

    We asked luxury wedding planner Mark Niemierko if he thought it was acceptable, and he told us: ‘In short. No. If you can’t afford to water or feed a guest don’t invite them.

    ‘Guests are the most important ingredient at a wedding. They create the atmosphere. And memories. A bride and groom are the hosts.’

    Given that you’re asking people to come to share your day, asking them to pay may leave a bad taste in guests’ mouths (and that’s before the food even arrives).

    Susannah Dale, Director at Revelry Events told Metro.co.uk that there are ways to do it right, though: ‘Defying wedding conventions can be tricky, especially for something as traditional as free food on the day. If you do decide to ask guests to pay for their own food its best to communicate this from the outset and be very clear on expected cost and payment method.

    ‘You may have to ready yourself for some backlash from guests that don’t agree with your decision. And if you do go down this route, then cut the gift list, asking for a present as well as expecting guests to contribute to the catering is definitely poor wedding etiquette.’

    It all depends on the type of wedding you’re having. Asking folks to bring along a dish at a village hall ‘do is very different from expecting family and friends to fork out for a 16-course tasting menu.

    As well as this, remember that you don’t need to do anything overly fancy if you can’t afford it. Have you ever seen someone balk at a trestle table covered in sandwiches and sausage rolls? Or a hostess trolley filled with homemade curry or chilli?

    There are no set in stone rules for a wedding, but try to keep in mind the expenses that others will incur to attend and be mindful of it when organising.

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help when needed, but everybody has their own financial strains too, so follow Susannah’s advice and ensure you make allowances for that.

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    How to have a vegan weddingHow to have a vegan weddingjessicacvlHow to have a vegan weddingHow to have a vegan weddingjessicacvl

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    (Picture: Coca Cola)

    Is it really Christmas until you hear the festive jingles of ‘The Holidays are Coming’ on TV as Santa takes a sip of the most popular soft drink in the world, a fresh cool Coke?

    The advert is usually right at the beginning of the holidays and gets everyone in the mood.

    And ever on point with their marketing, every year the global brand Coca-Cola tour the iconic red truck around the country, and have just revealed where it will be travelling to in 2018.

    So, will you be queuing up to see the famous lorry park up and hand out some of their popular drinks?

    (Picture: Coca Cola)

    ‘Bringing festive magic to people across the UK ahead of the big day, the famous truck tour truly signifies the start of Christmas,’ it said in a press release.

    ‘In a glittering winter wonderland setting, visitors will be able to enjoy a 150ml can of Coca-Cola zero sugar, Diet Coke or Coca-Cola original taste at each stop.’

    Over the last eight years, the ever-popular truck tour has travelled over 737,000 miles – the equivalent of 29 times around the world – and greeted thousands of fans.

    Whether you’re a fan of Christmas or Coke, you certainly won’t miss the truck as it twinkles with its 8,772 fairy lights and blares the iconic Holidays are Coming jingle.

    This year each truck tour stop will also encourage consumers to recycle their bottles and cans in line with Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste goal – a global campaign to collect and recycle a bottle or can for each one sold by the year 2030.

    Find out if it’s coming to a place near you this Christmas.

    Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour dates

    • Friday 9 and Saturday 10 November: Silverburn Centre, Glasgow (G53 6AG)
    • Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 November: Princesshay, Exeter (EX1 1QA)
    • Sunday 11 November: Tesco Extra, Rutherglen (G73 1NY)
    • Tuesday 13 November: ASDA, Taunton (TA1 2AN)
    • Wednesday 14 November: Tesco, Newcastle Upon Tyne (NE3 2FP)
    • Thursday 15 and Friday 16 November – Sanderson Arcade, Morpeth (NE61 1NS)
    • Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 November: Queen Street City Centre, Cardiff (CF10 2HQ)
    • Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 November – Fox Valley, Sheffield (S36 2AB)
    • Wednesday 21 November: Tesco, Swansea (SA7 9RD)
    • Wednesday 21 November: Asda Pudsey, Leeds (LS28 6AR)
    • Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 November: Marshalls Yard, Gainsborough (DN21 2NA)
    • Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 November: The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol (BS34 5DG)
    • Wednesday 28 November: ASDA Eastlands, Manchester (M11 4BD)
    • Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 December: Lakeside Village Shopping Outlet, Doncaster (DN4 5PJ)
    • Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 December: Pier Approach, Bournemouth (BH2 5AA)
    • Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 December: Serpentine Green, Peterborough (PE7 8BE)
    • Thursday 6 and Friday 7 December: Victoria Retail Park, Nottingham (NG4 2PE)
    • Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 December: Jingle Bell Ball, London (SE10 0DX)
    • Tuesday 11 December: ASDA, Queensferry (CH5 1TP)
    • Tuesday 11 December: ASDA, Watford (WD24 7RT)
    • Wednesday 12 December: Tesco, Borehamwood (WD6 1JG)
    • Thursday 13 December: Tesco, Sutton Coldfield (B73 6RB)
    • Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 December: East Side Green, Birmingham (B5 5JY)
    • Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 December: Valley Retail & Leisure Park, Croydon (CR0 4YJ)

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    Coca-Cola Christmas Truck-d469Coca-Cola Christmas Truck-d469faimabakar1Coca-Cola Christmas Truck-d469Coca-Cola Christmas Truck-d469faimabakar1

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    Does jet lag make your depression worse?
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Aside from the obvious benefit of letting you travel faraway places without the need for days-long boat trips, flying sucks.

    You get neck pain from trying to sleep in a chair being kicked by a small child in the row behind. Your skin is so dry you feel like you’ve developed scales. And you’re tired. So, so tired thanks to jet lag that feels like it won’t be fixed unless you snooze for a week straight.

    For those of us with mental health issues, there’s an added bonus of getting a flight: It can worsen anxiety, depression, and other mental symptoms.

    No, we’re not talking about phobias related to flying (but yes, those will have quite an impact on your mental state while you’re up in the air), but the after-effects of taking to the air.

    As well as making you feel exhausted, jet lag can worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety. Not ideal when you’re already dealing with post-holiday blues.

    If you already struggle with depression or anxiety, you’ll likely have noticed the link firsthand – you’ll land then feel miserable and on edge for the next few days, without being able to put your finger on why.

    According to Dr Victor Thompson, clinical psychologist at the London Psychology Clinic, there are two main theories as to why jet lag can bring out or worsen symptoms of mental illness.

    ‘The first is that travel across multiple time zones has an impact on our circadian rhythms our internal body clock,’ Victor tells Metro.co.uk. ‘When we arrive in a different time zone, we are exposed to daylight, we eat and go to bed at a different time to what we would have in the time zone that we left (where our flights started).

    metro illustrations
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘This all gives feedback to our body clock on what time it is now, which takes some adjusting by the body and brain. While doing so, things can feel quite odd.

    ‘The second reason is that travel is usually quite a stressful experience – the queues, the crowds, worries about delays, being packed into the airplane, immigration checks, luggage concerns, with many things being outside of our control.

    ‘The combined effect of disrupted body clock and stressful experience can be a risk factor for mild, or not-so-mild anxiety, depression and more serious mental illness.’

    Add in the disruption to your sleep, and you’re at an increased risk of feeling mentally unwell. Poor or little sleep increases the release of stress hormone cortisol, which can in turn trigger mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, and OCD.

    When you’re travelling through time zones it can be tricky to maintain a proper sleep routine. You can quickly find yourself wide awake at 3am, having to head to work at 6am, then crashing after a few hours.

    So we know that air travel can have an impact on our mental health. What can we do to deal with it?

    As with most things, preparation can make a huge difference.

    Before you travel be aware that the stress and impact on your sleep may affect your mental health and equip yourself with a plan for self-care from your departure to when you land.

    Part of that is reducing stress and discomfort at every stage.

    metro illustrations
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Before you leave, chat to your GP about medication – you may need to adjust when you’re taking your meds depending on travels through time zones.

    Get to the airport early so you don’t feel rushed, and have your departure details written down so you don’t worry yourself with constant checks of the airport screens.

    Pack your bag with bits that will make your flight more comfortable, whether it’s a lavender spray, a cosy pair of sweatpants, or a blanket, and bring along activities that will relax your mind and distract you from any flight-related panic – think puzzle games or a meditation app on your phone or a book you can’t possibly put down.

    Yes, it’s tempting to drink away your nerves, but that’s not a smart move. It’ll wreck your sleep routine and likely leave you with a nasty hangover on long-haul flights. Plus booze is a depressant and shouldn’t be mixed with any mental health medications. Avoid it – even that glass of champagne they hand you on long-haul flights.

    Give yourself a bedtime on the flight to make sure you get as much sleep as you can without completely disrupting your routine when you get home. That might need some quick maths before you board, so you can work out at what point on your flight you need to be drifting off.

    Stay well-hydrated on your flight, too. That’ll make you feel better physically, which will help when you feel a dip mentally.

    Be prepared that you might feel anxious or down when you land, and plan accordingly. Don’t book yourself in for a load of stuff the day after your trip ends, and don’t pressure yourself to unpack and dive back into work straight away.

    Prioritise self-care and treat yourself gently.

    ‘For some it may be good enough to follow good healthy routines with sleep, exercise, diet, socialising and engaging in interesting things,’ advises Victor.

    ‘If that isn’t enough, then learn the effective Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to notice and better manage your thinking, behaviour, emotions and body across your situations.

    ‘If the DIY approach isn’t enough, then seek out a qualified CBT Therapist or Clinical Psychologist who can guide you through to recovery and teach you techniques of self-management – making you more robust and resilient for the future.’

    Simply knowing that you might feel rubbish after a flight, and knowing that it’s not your fault, but a natural reaction to a stressful situation, is key. You’re not the only one feeling this way, and it will pass.

    Just factor in some downtime after your travels to recover physically and mentally. You’ll be back to your jetlag-free self in no time.

    MORE: How exercise can help you beat jet lag

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    MORE: Pole dancing taught me to love and value myself


    Does jet lag make your depression worse?Does jet lag make your depression worse?ellencscottmetro illustrationsmetro illustrationsDoes jet lag make your depression worse?Does jet lag make your depression worse?ellencscottmetro illustrationsmetro illustrations

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    (Picture: Twitter/Asics)

    Sports brand Asics has teamed up with Elite models for their latest UK ad campaign #IMoveMe, and I’m incredibly disappointed.

    We are meant to be right in the midst of the rise of women’s sport, equal representation and body positivity – so Asics’ decision to feature thin models as their new faces of fitness is baffling, and shows just how far we still have to go.

    The tone-deaf campaign consists of a photo series and video of Elite models, men and women, running and exercising outdoors.

    The women are wearing leggings and sports bras. They are uniformly white, fair, incredibly young, and not one of them is any bigger than a size 6.

    It feels like a monumental step backwards, harking back to days when fitness and active lifestyles were marketed as exclusively for ‘the beautiful people’.

    It’s an entirely dangerous rhetoric that could push away thousands of women, discouraging them from being active, shaming them away from wearing Lycra unless they look like runway models. I thought we were past this.

    I’m a netballer and, as such, I have been wearing Asics religiously for years. They are the UK’s biggest supplier of netball footwear and, like most netballers, I wouldn’t dream of wearing a different brand on court. This is why, for me, this campaign feels like such a betrayal.

    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Netballers don’t typically look like runway models. We build our game on explosive power and sharp busts of speed – so we need thighs, we need glutes, we jiggle. People of all ages, shapes and sizes play – I regularly step on court at the weekend and see a team with a 17-year-old playing alongside her 50-year-old mum – both absolutely killing it.

    Inclusivity is what we’re about – and everyone in the netball community has spent years pushing hard to boost engagement and participation for women in sport. Asics’ model-led campaign turns its back on this movement entirely.

    It isn’t that models are necessarily unhealthy, or that skinny women don’t or can’t workout, but to present these practically prepubescent women as aspirational, or as the pinnacle of health, is dangerously unattainable and likely to do nothing but make women feel bad about themselves.

    An open letter to the Instagram fitness model my boyfriend dumped me for
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    I see the advert as a glorified pin up, reducing women to body parts, revering youth and slimness above all else. It is so far removed from what women who play sport actually feel about their bodies. Asics have missed a golden opportunity to celebrate the strength, happiness and mental clarity that women can gain from being fit – instead choosing to focus solely on the aesthetic.

    In 2015, Sport England released a milestone ad campaign, This Girl Can, which was a joyous celebration of normal women exercising. Women of all shapes and sizes took to the pool, went running, played football – without any fear of judgement. They embraced themselves, jiggles and all, and didn’t let it stop them from being active.

    For many women, there are huge emotional barriers when it comes to sport and being physically active. Sport England found that 75% of women said fear of judgement was the reason they didn’t take part in fitness.

    Campaigns like This Girl Can do wonders for helping women overcome their fears and feel like they’re not alone. Other women who look like them go running, go swimming, wear sports clothes. Representation is an enormously powerful tool in improving engagement – women want to feel part of something.

    What most women can’t feel part of is an elite group of uber skinny model runners.

    now that summer is over, it's harder to harness that spring
    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    Until we start normalising images of active women, there will continue to be this disconnect, preventing women from taking part in fitness. We have to show women that it’s normal for people of all shapes, sizes and ages to get active and take part – brands like Asics, and the media have a responsibility to make sure this happens.

    New research by Totally Runable found that less than 3% of photographs of sport in the newspapers show women playing sport. We are 33 times more likely to see a man playing sport in the newspapers than a woman.

    The company are launching their #SeeSportyBeSporty campaign off the back of this research to highlight the importance of representation for sporty women. Founder Emily Freeman thinks that if young girls and women never see these positive images, then they won’t be able to aspire to achieve the same for themselves.

    ‘By age 7 girls are 22% less likely to call themselves “very sporty” than boys, although they will call themselves “quite sporty”, so it’s not something they aren’t interested in,’ explains Emily.

    ‘It’s a matter of confidence. Without seeing women being sporty there is a very strong message being sent to girls, and other women for that matter, that being sporty isn’t a “girly” thing to do. What damage might that be doing to girls and their expectations for themselves?’

    now that summer is over, it's harder to harness that spring
    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    Asics have structured their campaign around the concept that models live active and healthy lifestyles, so we should follow in their footsteps. But it would be way more inspiring to follow in the footsteps of normal women, the ones who manage to fit in a run before picking the kids up from school, the ones who workout in their living rooms, the runners who happen to be a size 14 or bigger. It’s less Instagramable, sure – but it will connect with millions more women.

    It’s doable. Just look at ASOS’ latest ad campaign for their debut fitness range. This campaign normalised fitness for women of all sizes, colours and abilities – and it was incredibly well-received.

    Not only is Asics’ old-fashioned marketing strategy damaging for the women it reaches, it’s also completely out-of-touch. Their attempt to exploit women’s fears about ageing and their bodies in order to make a profit is transparent and tired – no one’s here for it.

    The backlash is encouraging. Every time a company strays into these boringly misogynistic tropes, the public reaction gets swifter and more damning. Remember the yellow bikini beach-body-ready campaign?

    We are less and less willing to swallow this bullshit, and if brands want to keep women on side they really need to start listening to what we want and promoting positive, inclusive imagery.

    MORE: How exercise can help you beat jet lag

    MORE: Could ‘Conscious Movement’ be better for you than HIIT?

    MORE: This is why exercise could help ease your PMS


    Asics using Elite models in their latest campaignAsics using Elite models in their latest campaignnataliemorris88An open letter to the Instagram fitness model my boyfriend dumped me fornow that summer is over, it's harder to harness that springnow that summer is over, it's harder to harness that springAsics using Elite models in their latest campaignAsics using Elite models in their latest campaignnataliemorris88An open letter to the Instagram fitness model my boyfriend dumped me fornow that summer is over, it's harder to harness that springnow that summer is over, it's harder to harness that spring

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