Articles on this Page
- 06/21/19--00:10: _Bacon is the ‘most ...
- 06/21/19--01:03: _Nurse becomes plus-...
- 06/21/19--01:39: _I saw my fake porn ...
- 06/21/19--01:48: _KFC’s vegan burger ...
- 06/21/19--01:54: _We can no longer ac...
- 06/21/19--02:22: _Hurrah, you can now...
- 06/21/19--02:22: _A church dating bac...
- 06/21/19--02:45: _You can now get a £...
- 06/21/19--03:00: _Former vegan says s...
- 06/21/19--03:57: _The McDonald’s baco...
- 06/21/19--04:05: _KFC launches Cheeto...
- 06/21/19--04:29: _Why you should leav...
- 06/21/19--05:58: _Blood, Sweat and No...
- 06/21/19--06:31: _How to tell if your...
- 06/21/19--08:00: _International Yoga ...
- 06/21/19--08:01: _Couples are taking ...
- 06/21/19--08:28: _Be warned, your wat...
- 06/22/19--00:36: _As a queer Muslim w...
- 06/22/19--01:06: _Strong Women: ‘I’m ...
- 06/22/19--01:32: _Having acne is hard...
- 06/21/19--00:10: Bacon is the ‘most important part’ of a full English breakfast
- 06/21/19--01:39: I saw my fake porn and it made me laugh. Then I felt creeped out
- 06/21/19--01:48: KFC’s vegan burger has sold out after its first four days
- 06/21/19--02:22: Hurrah, you can now get summer sandals that look like cabbage leaves
- 06/21/19--02:22: A church dating back to the 1700s is selling for just £70,000
- 06/21/19--03:57: The McDonald’s bacon roll has been voted the best on the high street
- 06/21/19--04:05: KFC launches Cheetos-topped chicken sandwich
- 06/21/19--04:29: Why you should leave work on time every day
- 06/22/19--00:36: As a queer Muslim woman, falling in love is a political act
- 06/22/19--01:32: Having acne is hard for anyone but as a gay man it’s so much worse
The perfect fry-up is a touchy subject for Brits. People have opinions.
A new study has revealed that bacon is the most popular item that must be included for a ‘perfect’ English breakfast. 69% of Brits said it had to be on the plate.
We’re not surprised. That salty, meaty flavour and irresistible smell can turn your morning around.
Second is sausage, with 66% of respondents saying they had to have a banger with their breakfast.
Third on the list of most important items was toast. Humble toast. 62% said it wasn’t an English breakfast without at least one slice of hot, buttered bread.
The survey, conducted by Leonardo’s Hotels, found that the full English was the nation’s favourite breakfast, followed by cereal (81%), and a bacon sarnie (79%).
Poached eggs and avocado came in 18th place, followed by fishy kedgeree and the Spanish dish, Huevos Rancheros.
So what else do Brits insist on having on their full English platter? Surely eggs have to make an appearance?
Bafflingly, only 53% want a fried egg. 40% love grilled tomatoes and 42% think mushrooms are vital components.
Only 29% like the famously divisive black pudding on their brekkie.
When it comes to sauce, it’s tomato ketchup (29%) that we’re reaching for, closely followed by brown sauce (23%).
However, these aren’t the only sauces we’re adding to our fry-up. 5% of Brits would happily add BBQ sauce or mayonnaise to their Full English, while 3% would opt for chilli sauce. Each to their own.
There are some significant regional divides too – for people in Northern Ireland, soda bread is the third most important element of a fry-up, with 60% considering it essential.
Up in Scotland, black pudding is the 5th most important ingredient, with 52% of Scots wanting in on their plate.
And to quench our morning thirst – fruit juice comes out on top, closely followed by English breakfast tea and white coffee.
Anyone else craving bacon?
Directly above close-up view of traditional English breakfast with fried eggs, beans, sausage and bacon
A hospital theatre nurse has landed a gig as a plus-size lingerie model after her husband secretly entered her into a modelling competition.
Catrin Stace-Jones had such low body confidence that it used to ruin her holidays – she felt sick at the thought of putting on a bikini or getting into a hot tub.
‘I had no body confidence at all,’ says Catrin, 33, from Wrexham. On a recent trip to Croatia, she adds: ‘I was so uncomfortable with my body and so distressed I’d wrap myself up in a giant towel and only let go of it when I was fully submerged in the water!”
But winning the modelling competition has been a serious turning point for Catrin.
She’s now through to the semi-finals of Miss Curvaceous UK, she has finally become happy with her curves – and was the only volunteer model who agreed to walk down the catwalk in lingerie at a cancer charity fashion show.
‘The joy of modelling has opened by eyes to the fact that my natural body shape is nothing to be ashamed of,’ says Catrin.
‘I’ve finally learned to feel good about the way I look and not worry about silly things like how big my thighs are!’
The whole thing came about when her childhood-sweetheart husband, Craig – an engineer at the hospital where Catrin also works – entered her into a competition to win a modelling contract and make-over photo shoot.
She was initially furious with Craig for secretly entering her, but she agreed to do the photo shoot in Manchester, and hasn’t looked back since.
She has won contracts to do plus-size modelling work, entered Miss Curvaceous UK and is also being sponsored by her employers to compete in the prestigious Miss Model 2019 in London in November.
Catrin is now determined to celebrate her curves and be proud of her body. She is even looking forward to a family holiday with family in Gran Canaria.
‘I’ll be in my bikini walking carefree along the beach with everyone else,’ she says.
‘I can’t believe how different my mental attitude is. It’s completely crazy.
‘At the start of the year if you’d have asked me to wear six-inch high heels and walk down a catwalk in my bikini there is no way I would have
‘I had so little confidence in my own body I would have been sick to the stomach at the thought of it, but modelling has been so liberating.
‘Craig told me he entered me in the photo-shoot competition because he wanted to help me build up my self-esteem. He wanted me to see myself as he saw me and not to focus on things I thought were negative about my appearance.
‘It’s been a mega learning curve, but it’s really transformed my life for the better.
‘We’re all naturally different shapes and sizes and we should celebrate that. Life’s too short to be worrying about the way we look.’
Catrin is now on the books of five reputable modelling agencies and has already been signed up to do some plus-size modelling. She also helped raise more than £1,000 for Macmillan and earned a standing ovation when she modelled lingerie at a charity fashion show.
She is looking forward to the semi-finals of Miss Curvaceous UK after making it through the first stage heats in Manchester earlier this month.
‘Modelling has given me the confidence to accept myself as I am.
‘It has opened doors and is an adventure I never envisaged myself taking part in. It’s a hugely fun release from my normal routine but my heart still belongs to my patients, and my theatre job will always be my full time career.’
Theatre nurse snapped up as plus-size lingerie model after husband secretly enters her into competition
I was in the pub when I got a text from a friend asking if I had seen the naked photos of me online.
My body froze from the inside. My hands clammed up as I opened the link, to a porn site, with my name in it.
I clicked on the link. My head was spinning, as was the buffer wheel. Then the photo appeared on the screen.
I howled with laughter.
‘What’s happened?’ asked my pub mates. I turned my phone around and they howled too as they passed it around.
The photo was a poorly photoshopped image of my face on the naked body of a porn star posing solo for the camera. At first glance, it looked real. But on closer inspection, the head was too big for the body and the skin tone was mismatched. It was hilarious.
Then my friend swiped onto the next picture and looked disturbed. This time my head had been placed onto the body of a woman lying on a table, legs-a-kimbo with two men using their hands as stirrups, and a third holding open her labia and looking into her vagina.
It served as a reminder to book my smear test.
The photo they had used of my face was taken from a sexual harassment campaign I had been working on. The irony amused me.
However my laughter turned into discomfort, then evolved to feeling a bit creeped out. Three steps familiar to many women when faced with harassment veiled as banter.
Don’t get me wrong, the photo provided a lot of amusement, but it got me thinking, what if they’d done a better job?
Someone had taken time out of their day to mock up this image. It wasn’t meant as some sort of crude joke between friends. Had a complete stranger had done this for some sort of sexual gratification?
‘Is that actually you?’ asked naïve pub-friend and I found myself trying to prove to my nearest and dearest that those were not, in fact, my nipples. Maybe she wasn’t so naïve after all.
There were more, with higher quality photoshopping. I knew it wasn’t me, but unless you’re someone unfortunate enough to have seen me without any clothes on, how could you possibly know?
Two-dimensional photographs are just the beginning. Fake porn already exists in CGI-video format and even in virtual reality technology.
I did my research (I probably shouldn’t have used the work computer) and stumbled across the term ‘deepfake’.
Deepfake is a technique for human image synthesis based on artificial intelligence. The software can use a photograph of a person to generate a three-dimension likeness, and attach it to a body of the user’s choice. Then it’s up to the programmer to decide what it can make the body do.
All pretty disturbing. And it raises a lot of serious ethical questions.
If the images are generated, and not real, then are they causing any harm? If so, do they only become harmful if they become public or if they look indistinguishable from the real person?
How would you feel if you knew people were having virtual sex with your exact image and were in complete control of your simulated body? Would it matter if you didn’t know?
How would you feel if you knew people were having virtual sex with your exact image and were in complete control of your simulated body?
We don’t own the rights to our image. In the UK, we have no rights to own our own image in neither case nor statute law. It is, however, illegal to make, share or possess pseudo-photographs of anyone under the age of 18. But what if an image-maker created an avatar of a minor’s face on the body of an adult, or vice versa?
The issue is complex, but with technology advancing at an exponential rate, these moral and ethical questions need to be asked and lawmakers need to pick up the pace when it comes to protecting victims of online sexual imagery.
Revenge porn laws were ground-breaking when they came into place in 2015. They made the sharing of private or sexual images or videos of a person without their consent, an offence.
However the current law is not working. Categorised as a ‘communications crime’ instead of a sexual offence, victims of revenge porn are not being granted anonymity. Victims are not proceeding with cases because the moment their name gets reported, they become vulnerable to click-bait.
How can the non-consensual taking or distribution of private sexual images not be a sexual offence? Even the term ‘revenge porn’ itself is a form of victim blaming. As if the victim has done something to provoke ‘revenge’. You wouldn’t call sexual assault a ‘revenge grab’.
I have had friends both in and out of the public eye who have had their private photos hacked and leaked online and have witnessed just how traumatic the experience can be. The over-riding feeling of utter helplessness. The stress. The torment. The unnecessary shame.
Some hackers do it for sexual gratification, others do it simply because they can. Often hackers will ask for large sums of money in return for a promise not to release photos onto the internet. They turn skin into currency.
The permanence of leaked online photos can be overwhelming. Once shared, an image is almost impossible to remove from the internet. Which is why the deterrent for hacking private photographs needs to be greater.
If they aren’t yet out in the open, the threat of an imminent leak hangs over victim’s heads to the point where some celebrities, like Bella Thorne this week, have even chosen to release photos themselves as a way to take back some control of their own body.
And then there are the critics who tell them they ‘shouldn’t have taken the photos in the first place.’ Unequivocal victim-blaming.
We live our lives online so we need to be protected online.
The non-consensual procurement and distribution of private sexual images is a violation and should be treated as a sexual offence. End of.
Who knows what the future holds for laws on virtual pornography, but one thing is certain: we need to start setting precedents before it’s too late. Law makers and law enforcers need to successfully get a grip on reality and tackle the moral and ethical dilemmas of the world of faked pornography.
Bad news vegans – the KFC vegan Imposter Burger has completely sold out. After just four days.
The fast food brand only announced the launch of the meat-free product last week, and it has proved so popular that every last one has already been sold.
The specially created Quorn burger is coated in KFC’s signature blend of herbs and spices, with lettuce and vegan mayo in a bun to create the plant-based version of their classic burger.
But now they’re all gone.
In just three days, the Imposter Burger clocked up staggering sales figures – around 500% higher than a normal new KFC burger.
Excited vegans, veggies, flexitarian and intrigued chicken fans descended on restaurants across London, Bristol and the Midlands to get their hands on one.
The Gloucester Road restaurant in London sold roughly one Imposter Burger a minute on Wednesday.
Due to this phenomenal demand, the burger is now sold out – but don’t worry if you didn’t manage to get a taste, the vegan burger will be returning from Tuesday 2nd July.
‘We knew there were plenty of people who would want to get a taste of the Imposter, but we didn’t anticipate this phenomenal response,’ said Victoria Robertson, Senior Innovation Leader at KFC.
‘We can’t wait to get the Imposter back out in restaurants so vegans can get their finger lickin’ fix.’
2019 has truly been the year of plant-based fast food – starting with the furor around the hugely successful Greggs vegan sausage roll.
So vegans and flexitarians have more choice than ever when it comes to snacking on the high street – and clearly there is a hungry market.
The Imposter is being trialled in stores in London, Bristol and the Midlands for four weeks. After that, the same stores will test a new vegetarian meal called the Southern Fritter Stacker, which is a mix of vegetables in a crispy coating. It will be available as a wrap and ricebox.
The Imposter will be back next week. If you want one – you’ll have to be quick.
KFC vegan chicken - embargoed until 6am
I’m on my dreaded morning commute – the assault course that is also known as Canada Water tube station.
On this morning, against all my instincts born from safety, fatigue and not wanting to draw attention to myself, I have chosen to wear a casual black work dress and heels.
The tube doors open, I sit down, and instantly I feel eyes looking at me.
I start analysing my makeup, heels, dress, calculating all the things that the commuters may be thinking as they stare at me with no shame for the disgust in their face. My thoughts are cut short by a man’s word vomit: ‘what the f**k is that?’
People look up and identify the ‘that’ the man is talking about (spoiler alert: it’s me) and then continue on with their day. No defence, no speaking up and no checking if I was OK.
This experience, for many trans and gender non conforming people, is nothing new. We know too well the relationship between our public harassment and silence.
The world carries on as the tube remains silent. People carry on listening to their music and one woman goes back to watching something on their phone…wait, is she watching an episode of Drag Race?!
I can’t help but laugh.
Suddenly the all too familiar silence feels particularly loud. This woman watches a ‘lip sync for your life’, disregarding the life in front of her that needs support, and a bit more than lip service.
I become so much less angry at the person who initiated the harassment and more infuriated by the silence of this woman.
It so aptly summed up, in one moment, the conflict many have between the ways and places gender non conforming bodies are appreciated, and how this rarely translates into substantial care and safety.
This was an act of consumption without wondering about those bodies beyond the screen. I will invest in you when a screen is in the way, but stand right in front of me in the daylight and I do not know how to help.
Gender non conformity is allowed to exist in public space but only as entertainment, and never in mutual respect.
I left the tube and wondered if I was over reacting. Should I really use this one example to make grand conclusions?
Yet as I walked past HSBC with their Pride-affiliated logo, wondering how they treat their trans employees – or thought about the straight hen-dos that overpopulate drag bars on a crowded Saturday night, or maybe scrolling online to see the way gender non conforming people are used for yet another viral meme – I realise our relationship with the general public is off balance.
In the middle of Pride month it seems we have public examples of gender non conformity: drag queens are being positioned to sell products, invited as guests on talk shows as Drag race becomes more ‘accepted’ into mainstream, and queer clubs with gender non conforming artists are packed with more than just an LGBT+ crowd.
However, when met with in the day, outside the club, off of the television, away from the prospects of entertainment we are still not safe, and those finger snapping us in the club, or ‘yas queen’ing’ the TV are nowhere to be seen.
With transphobic and homophobic hate crimes rising and gender non conformity consistently being seen as a threat and danger to society, trans people (particularly those outside of “conforming gender presentations”) are continuously demonised in both private and public spheres.
No more. We can no longer accept a solidarity that stops at a screen, or a stage or a meme.
I no longer want to celebrate people learning how to watch gender non conforming entertainment. Instead I want to push for a solidarity that does not require a performance in order to win your protection.
I long for a world where gender non conforming people do not have to be on stage, or a television, or glamorous or at night to matter – and can exist during a Wednesday morning, during the dreaded morning commute – in peace.
Launch Of Free Word's 'All The Ways We Could Grow' Season
If you’ve ever stood in a supermarket and thought, I bet that cabbage would make an excellent design for a shoe, you’re too late.
Coddies, the self-proclaimed ‘retailer of fish-style footwear’ has just released a new addition to its product line: the Cabbage Creepers.
As the name suggests, the sandals look as if they’re made from several cabbage leaves strung together into a shoe.
There are two colours to choose from: red cabbage (which is technically purple) or green cabbage.
Made from a lightweight, elastic material, the Cabbage Creepers are ‘wear-resistant and anti-slipping’ and thus the perfect footwear for a beach visit.
Except, you know, you might get some odd looks because you’ve got cabbage on your feet.
The product was announced through a short video clip on Coddies’ Instagram page yesterday (20 June) and brand is definitely embracing the humorous side of its sandals.
‘I’m very curious to see if our customers like them as much as us!,’ said Jack Bennet, founder of Coddies.
‘We’ve had an amazing response from our flagship classic Fish FlopsTM with tens of thousands of customers from all over the world and we’ve decided to launch a new line of alternative footwear,’ Jack added.
This isn’t the most, er, unusual footwear released by the brand. The aforementioned fish flops sees wearers stick their feet into a fish’s body, with toes sticking out of its mouth.
If you fancy getting a pair of Cabbage Creepers, they’ll set you back £14.99.
But the laughs will be priceless.
Coddies cabbage shoes
A church dating back from the 1700s could be yours for just £70,000 – it just needs a patient owner to turn it into a luxury four-bedroom home.
The Mary Kirk, which was previously known as Alves Church, in Alves, Moray, dates from 1769 and is grade B listed.
It fell out of use at the start of the 20th Century, and closed in the 1932, with the bell being taken from the building to the new church which replaced it.
The shell of the building will go up for auction, with a guide price of £70,000 – and could be transformed into a ‘beautiful and original’ four-bedroom home with three en-suite bathrooms.
The church had previously been granted planning permission to convert the building into a two-storey home, but the plans expired.
However, agents Galbraith reckon that Moray Council would be likely to approve similar plans, due to other deconsecrated churches being granted permission to become residential homes.
Rod Christie, of Galbraith in Elgin, Moray, said: ‘Although the planning consent has now lapsed, it is likely that the local authority will be minded to once again approve conversion to a private home, as has been the case in other deconsecrated churches in the region.
‘The current Moray Local Development Plan supports this use.
‘The proposed accommodation includes a living room, family dining room, breakfasting kitchen and four bedrooms (three en-suite).
‘It would make a beautiful and original home and the purchasers have the opportunity to configure the internal layout and specifications as they wish, subject to the necessary consents.’
With a UK heatwave around the corner – next week is meant to be a scorcher – it’s definitely swimwear season.
There are some great trends this year, including animal prints galore and the super popular pink crinkle swimsuit (sold out at both Hunza and ASOS).
We’ve also seen some unusual fashion, such as the PrettyLittleThing bikini that barely covered a woman’s nipples and Topshop’s extremely high-cut swimsuit that people mocked for looking ‘the wrong way round’.
If you’d like to make a real statement this summer, there’s a new contender: the hand-print bikini from Adriana Degreas.
The bottoms are fairly straightforward in a red design with ties on the sides, but the top is definitely interesting.
When worn, it looks as if two hands, featuring nails with red varnish, are cupping your breasts.
So far, the product has received a mixed response on social media.
‘Beyond ridiculous!,’ one Instagram user commented on the luxury brand’s post.
‘But it will probably sell out in this crazy culture.’
Another said: ‘Next thing will be a “hands “ bottom.
‘Really, is this how low class we have become as a society?? Guess so.’
Not everyone is opposed to sporting a hand-print look.
Instagram blogger Kelly has featured the bikini in several of her photos, although she has opted for pairing it with white, high-waisted bottoms.
Several people said they ‘love’ the look and asked where they can buy it.
It is available on the Adriana Degreas site – but be prepared to fork out the cash, as the set costs just over £257.
One person also praised its ‘originality’ and said it was ‘eye-catching’.
We can’t argue with the latter, but what do you think?
Hand print bikini
A 56-year-old woman renounced her vegan lifestyle in favour of a diet of raw meat and organs and she says she’s healthier than ever.
Eva LaRoche, from Chicago, says since becoming a ‘raw carnivore’ two years ago she has ‘cured’ her lifelong constipation and now has bowel movements as regular as clockwork.
‘I feel better so much fitter and stronger now, and I have the body I had when I was 25,’ says the mum of two.
‘Straight away I saw an overall improvement to my health and I went from having boulder-hard poo to soft and regular bowel movements every day.’
Eva says that after becoming a raw carnivore, she went from being constipated for weeks to having daily bowel movements.
‘My whole life I had tried everything to fix this problem – which has been so bad at times that going to the toilet felt like giving birth – but nothing worked.’
Eva spent years trialling different diets, desperate to find one that would make her feel better.
She tried the low-fat in her early 20s, then she became a vegetarian at 32 – going even further by becoming vegan four years later.
‘For me, it was never about the ethics or the animals. I just wanted to do whatever was best for my body and I would do whatever it took to be as fit and healthy as possible,’ says Eva.
After six years of veganism, Eva said her digestive problems did not improve and her general health deteriorated.
‘I really didn’t notice much improvement and I remember my older sister Susan saying to me, “How come you’re ill so much even though you eat so healthily?”
‘It was true, I had a cold every month, flu once a year, and after a few years of being vegan my hair started to fall out and my skin became really dry.’
Deciding enough was enough, in 2002, Eva gave the food fads a rest for a while and started eating a balanced diet again, allowing her children to do the same.
In 2007 she started the paleolithic diet – only eating foods presumed to have been available to humans hundreds of thousands of years ago – consuming only meat, fruit, vegetables and nuts.
Claiming her constipation became even worse, with bowel movements only once every eight to 14 days, she recalled: ‘I was getting quite despairing and just wanted to find the key to fix this problem that had been there forever.
‘Then one day I was scrolling through a Facebook group for paleolithic dieters and I saw someone talking about raw meat eating being really beneficial for your health.
‘I thought, “What have I got to lose?”‘
Starting slowly with raw beef steaks, which she would eat with suet – hard, uncooked beef fat – Eva soon began eating raw pork brains and kidney, beef livers and heart from nearby farmers and local butchers.
Is it safe to eat raw meat?
‘While there can be benefits to consuming organ meats – such as providing a good source of vitamin A and iron, it’s not safe to say that this is OK to eat raw due to the possible risk of food poisoning.
‘Even consuming steak tartare is not recommended.
‘A raw meat diet is very restricted and additionally increases the risk of nutritional deficiencies as the diet is lacking in vitamins and minerals.’
Daniel O’Shaughnessy, nutritionist,The Naked Nutritionist clinic
‘As soon as I discovered raw carnivorism, within days, my constipation was cured,’ she said.
‘It has really done wonders for my health more generally, too. I never get colds any more, I’ve got much more energy and my body is fitter than it has ever been.’
Eating a daily fare of steak and offal – including brains, liver and kidneys – all uncooked – Eva also regularly garnishes her meaty meals with chunks of animal fat.
She claims going without carbohydrates has made her body more efficient at burning fat for energy.
But, while she never tires of eating meat for each of her two daily meals, Eva admits that her extreme dietary plan means she rarely eats out, as most restaurants refuse to serve raw meat.
Eva, who, won’t eat raw chicken due to the health risks, added: ‘This way of eating is still very new and little understood.
‘My family also think I’m pretty crazy eating the way I do, but they have got used to it now and know that I do it because it makes me feel better.
‘They say that eating raw pork can be dangerous, but I have never had a problem and I’m always very careful to source the animals I eat and only get them from responsible farmers.
‘I’ve spent a lifetime struggling with my health and now that I have found something that works for me, I’m not going to stop just because it seems strange to other people.’
Of course, there are plenty of factors that can have an impact on your health aside from your diet – and it’s important to note that experts have warned against eating raw meat.
The McDonald’s bacon roll has been voted the best on the high street by independent recommendation site Checkatrade.
In a panel of expert tradespeople, including decorators, electricians and plumbers, the site found that the McDonald’s bacon role was the best – with nine out of ten people putting it top based on its appearance, flavour and price.
The roll came top after six high street bacon rolls were tested against each other. The McDonald’s roll beat the likes of Greggs and Costa Coffee.
Duncan Cruttenden, Food Development Director at McDonald’s UK&I, said: ‘The bacon roll is the breakfast of choice for millions and I am delighted to launch our new and improved version to customers across the UK and Ireland.
‘The Checkatrade feedback speaks for itself, and whether you’re a ketchup or brown sauce person, I hope our customers agree that this Bacon Roll is a great addition to our breakfast menu.’
Mike Fairman, CEO of Checkatrade, commented: ‘Our trades have to go through a rigorous process to be listed on our site, making them trustworthy, reliable and recommended judges of character.
‘We knew when McDonald’s asked us to be part of this test, that our tradespeople would be the perfect people to give the seal of approval.
‘The panel had the long but enviable task of putting each roll through its paces with the McDonald’s Bacon roll getting a big thumbs up from our tradesmen and women.’
And Andrea Giammaria of RTEQ Ltd, added: ‘I was really surprised to see the McDonald’s bacon roll came out on top.
‘I usually head to the local café but I actually preferred the taste and texture of the McDonald’s roll in the test – the buns are really soft too which is why it scored so highly on the day – I know where I’ll be going in the mornings from now on!’
The McDonald’s roll has recently been ravamped. It is soon to feature three rashers of bacon in a sourdough-style bun, and comes with either brown sauce or ketchup.
The new product will launch on the 26th June and will cost £2.79.
KFC has been busy as of late.
The fast food chain announced the arrival of its first vegan dish last week – the Imposter Burger – which will be available in selected stores from 15 July for four weeks.
This news was followed up with the add-on of spicy rice and creamy mash to its regular menu.
Just days later, we’re treated to another addition: the Cheetos-topped chicken sandwich.
The sandwich features KFC’s classic chicken fillet, along with a special Cheetos sauce, mayonnaise and of course, the cheesy puffed snack itself.
‘After an overwhelmingly successful test earlier this year, Kentucky Fried Chicken and fan-favourite Cheetos are giving fans nationwide access to the sought-after Cheetos Sandwich,’ the company said.
Sadly, it’s not all good news.
Unfortunately, the Cheetos sandwich – which will launch on 1 July and be on offer for a month – is only available in the US.
The rollout is part of KFC’s new business plan. More items will be released throughout 2019 than customers have been offered in the past five years, in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience.
‘If we really want to attract a younger customer it can’t just be about fun advertising and fun stunts,’ Kevin Hochman, the president of KFC’s US business, told Business Insider.
We’ve got our fingers crossed for a UK launch soon.
Until then, you could make your own by purchasing a bag of Cheetos and adding some to your regular chicken order.
Today is Go Home On Time Day.
While the campaign, organised by the charity Working Families, is an excellent opportunity to encourage people to have a healthy work/life balance, it also brings up questions around work culture – such as why there is still a need to highlight a day for people to do something they should do all the time.
Presenteeism has long been an issue in workplaces across the UK, where employees are rewarded and measured on how much time they spend in the workplace, regardless of whether they are less productive as the day goes on.
Last year, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) conducted a survey that revealed presenteeism has more than tripled since 2010. It was a minor survey, with 1,000 participants, but there is further research to support Britain’s obsession with putting in extra hours.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), we now work 30 minutes more every week compared to 10 years ago. What’s more, a report by Vitality showed that staying late or working additional hours is having a reverse effect; in reality, presenteeism is causing a loss of 27 days of productive time per employee every year.
Research is telling us that leaving work on time is the better option – so why are we not doing it?
‘Despite millions being spent across the globe on employee engagement, we’re seeing little improvement, yet the simple act of creating a culture where employees can leave work on time, could have a major impact and is often overlooked,’ Amrit Sandhar, founder of The Engagement Coach, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Although contracted hours may state one thing, the guilt that some employees face when it’s time for them to go home, as senior leaders peer over their glasses and glance at the time, can create a culture that says “you shouldn’t be leaving yet if you are committed and dedicated to the organisation”.
‘And many employees plough on with consequences to their home life.’
If you’re always staying late at work, there are many issues that can arise, including feeling overworked, stressed and constantly tired.
However, this can also develop into long-term mental health problems, such as burnout – which was recently recognised as an illness by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
‘Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,’ according to WHO.
‘It is characterized by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy.’
Constantly working could also affect your personal relationships and hinder your creativity.
‘Staying late occasionally when there’s a big project or a crisis is reasonable,’ Felicity Dwyer, a Life Coach Directory member, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘But if you are regularly working beyond your contracted hours, this is likely [to] have a negative impact on other aspects of your life, particularly your mental and physical health, and relationships.
‘The brain needs time to switch off and recharge, we simply cannot be mentally active all the time.
‘Creative thinking comes out of a quiet mind, and this means taking time away from work, ideally with our emails and social media switched off.
‘We need time out of doors for our health, and our relationships need time and attention to thrive.’
Productivity tips to help you leave on time
Success coach and entrepreneur, Ryan Jackson, tells Metro.co.uk his top productivity tips.
Ditch the to-do list: ‘One of the major things holding people back is a to-do list. It’s easy to believe that listing countless tasks like this ensures you’re on top of your game, but what we tend to do is fill it with trivial things and low priority items. This just scatters your attention and makes it tempting to putt off bigger ticket items, looking for quick wins so you feel you’re clearing the tasks on your list and having an impact.’
Focus your days: ‘Instead of switching between tasks and different areas of work throughout the day, which requires a constant shifting of focus, aim to devote whole days to certain themes. Concentrating fully on one theme throughout the day helps you to be more focused, and more productive – and if you are interrupted, it’s easier to pick up the thread again. This is not so easy if you are dealing with multiple areas hour by hour, needing to re-familiarise yourself with those different areas of work, each time.
Plan your time: ‘Schedule important tasks into your calendar or online diary, with reminders set – and take action on them at the allotted time. Allocate only a specific time slot to reading emails, for example 30 minutes in the afternoon, or 10 minutes every hour.’
One of the biggest concerns for employees about leaving work on time is fear.
We’re afraid how it will appear to our bosses and worry that they will be see us as less dedicated if we don’t stay late.
However, dedication shouldn’t translate into hours worked, but rather the level of effort put in during the hours you are contracted to work. Good managers will notice your commitment regardless if you stay for an extra hour or not.
If you’re concerned that you’ll get into trouble for going home when you’re supposed to, it might be time to consider if you’re in the right workplace. If pressures of presenteeism are affecting your health or mental health, speak up – you have the right to do so and should not be expected to stay late all the time.
Can’t talk to your manager? Are they a source of the problem? Raise the issue with human resources or another manager instead.
As the saying goes, you should ‘work to live, not live to work’.
Don’t just embrace today as your chance to leave on time. Look after your health and make it an every day pledge.
Four ways businesses can improve employee well-being
Richard Holmes, director of well-being at Westfield Health, reveals his top tips on how employers can do their part in reducing workplace stress and making employees feel more comfortable about leaving on time.
Introduce relaxation zones
‘Businesses can introduce schemes and techniques such as relaxation sessions, chill-out zones and exercise classes to help employees unwind and switch off from their workload.’
Create positive and open communication
‘It’s important to encourage employees to talk openly and freely about how they feel mentally. This can be encouraged by line managers by ensuring they are approachable and have an open door policy.
‘Organising social activities is a good way to help colleagues get along outside work while making them feel more at ease when it comes to talking about their mental health.’
Offer a flexible work environment
‘Employee benefits aren’t just about a high salary or extra holiday days. Businesses that have a flexible work schedule are more likely to retain staff as it gives them the ability to manage a work-life balance.
‘By businesses adhering to employees individual needs (e.g. school runs and participating in hobbies), it will reduce the stress and pressure of everyday life. Likewise, if businesses allow staff to work from home when feeling mentally unwell, it will reduce the stigma behind mental health absenteeism.’
Introduce a workplace well-being programme
‘A surge in over-stressed and over-worked employees has led to a rise in mental health absenteeism. One way that businesses can improve this is by introducing a workplace well-being programme which encourages staff to manage and speak openly about their physical and mental health.’
Being on your period is never fun.
Along with the aches and pains, mood swings and constant fear of leaks, menstruating can also make you feel lethargic, sluggish and generally run-down.
According to Sport England, 40% of women aren’t getting the recommended levels of daily exercise, and taboos and stigma around periods could be part of the reason why.
A new campaign – Blood, Sweat and No Fears – is launching to tackle this unspoken barrier to participation in women’s sport.
Everyone responds differently to their periods – some lucky women sail through every month, but others are wiped out by the symptoms – and this even happens to Olympic athletes.
And the stigma around periods is still preventing some women from getting the support they need.
The campaign, created by FabLittleBag, the biodegradable sanitary bag company, wants to raise awareness and look closer at the effects that periods have on women in sport – from grassroots to elite level.
How can periods effect sports performance?
For elite sportswomen, competing whilst suffering extreme symptoms can make all the difference to the outcome, but the symptoms do vary greatly.
Paula Radcliffe broke the world record for the women’s marathon despite suffering period cramps, yet others have cited menstruation as a factor in a weaker performance.
‘Exercise and sport can be great for boosting your health, well being and confidence. But for some people their period can be a real barrier to this,’ says gynaecologist, Dr Anita Mitra.
‘Concerns about leaking, pain, and generally whether it’s safe are common concerns that my patients voice.
‘I really welcome this campaign so that we can get everyone talking, and help empower them to live their lives the way they wish, period or no period.’
Aside from the medical aspects, there are also practical issues around managing periods, which are often overlooked.
When travelling to away fixtures or participating in outdoor sports, women can find themselves with no way to dispose of tampons and pads.
‘We’ve spoken to hundreds of women about periods and many feel anxiety about disposal,’ says Martha Silcott of FabLittleBag.
‘Will there be a sanitary bin, will it be overflowing and untouchable? What if there’s no loo roll? What if I flush my tampon and block the loo? These are real concerns that are not currently being addressed.
‘We’ve launched the Blood, Sweat and No Fears campaign to raise awareness and investigate the extent of the issue. The more we talk about this, the more we break down the taboo and demand the right help and facilities.’
Ama Agbeze MBE, is the former England netball captain. She has been playing sport at an elite level for years and she knows exactly how much periods can effect her and the women on her team.
‘Being on your period is a pain – sometimes literally,’ says Ama.
‘It’s a worry in games that you might have an accident which could end up visible to everyone. I’ve had those horrifying day dreams and I know plenty of others who have too.
‘Sometimes on your period you just want to crawl up and have a bed day. There shouldn’t have to be a period every month when we struggle – and I don’t mean those days before pay day!
‘I’m also sure lots of people have experienced being on their period and used the bathroom as a guest somewhere, and faced the issue of there not being a bin to dispose of used sanitary items.’
Kate Dale of Sport England adds: ‘It’s astounding that there are still so many taboos surrounding periods – half the world’s population have them for a large part of their life.
‘This squeamishness can stop us taking part in the things that actually make us feel physically and mentally better.
‘I’m delighted to back the Blood, Sweat and No Fears campaign – physical activity is so life enhancing, I don’t want women and girls to feel they have to drop out every month.
‘Sharing our fears and discussing the logistics will really help to feel normal about something that is completely, well, normal.’
Get involved with the Blood, Sweat and No Fears campaign
It’s important to stress that periods are not an illness, but part of being a healthy woman.
The oestrogen produced during the menstrual cycle contributes to our bone strength, something that is essential to all those who enjoy sport.
But it has also been noted that professional sportswomen sometimes sustain more injuries during their period.
‘This subject has not been properly investigated before so we are intrigued to find out more,’ says Martha from FabLittleBag.
‘That’s why we are encouraging everyone to share the survey widely. There’s a great prize up for grabs as an added incentive for completing the survey! We look forward to sharing the results of the survey next month.’
The campaign will run a short survey into women’s experiences, to reveal the extent to which period problems are a factor in sports participation at every level. This will allow sports organisations to respond with the right support.
To encourage women to open up about their experiences with periods and sport, everyone who takes part in the short survey will be entered into a competition.
One winner will receive a bundle to help them have a happier period, including a Livia pain relief set, Fit Kit sports shower gel, Freda organic sanitary starter box, plus a three-month supply of biodegradable FabLitttleBag disposal bags complete with a dispenser. The whole thing is worth £175.
So share your experiences and help to open up the conversation and smash period taboo for good.
Female footballers celebrating goal
Many of us experience tiredness – but when are your symptoms actually a sign of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
It’s normal to get tired from daily activities, or because you’re not getting enough sleep.
Having a stressful day, working too many hours or having a strenuous workout can also lead to tiredness – as well as eating the wrong things or not drinking enough.
Tiredness is a very normal thing that can be easily treated – by doing simple things like getting more sleep, avoiding caffeine, drinking less alcohol and not using technology for at least two hours before bed.
People who do all of these things yet still feel tired may worry that there’s something wrong – such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) – but this illness actually comes with a lot more symptoms than just feeling sleepy.
Of course, while tiredness can be a symptom of another underlying illness – and if your symptoms don’t subside you should definitely see your doctor about – CFS comes with a range of symptoms.
CFS, also known as ME, is a long-term illness, with the most common symptom being extreme tiredness.
According to the NHS website, its symptoms include sleep problems, muscle or joint pain, headaches, a sore throat or sore glands that aren’t swollen, problems thinking, remembering or concentreating, flu-like symptoms, feeling dizzy or sick and having fast or irregular heartbeats.
CFS isn’t simply feeling tired, and it can be debilitating, having a severe effect on your daily life.
CFS also comes in various degrees of severity.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that the symptoms can be just as disabling as multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure and other chronic conditions.
Other research shows that people with CFS/ME score lower overall on health-related quality of life tests than most other chronic conditions.
There are three levels of severity, according to Action for ME.
People with a mild condition are mobile, can care for themselves and do light domestic tasks – but with difficulty.
They are also able to work or continue with education, but to do this they have likely stopped all over activities, and often take days off.
The website states: ‘People with moderate CFS/M.E. have reduced mobility and are restricted in all activities of daily living, although they may have peaks and troughs in their level of symptoms and ability to do activities.
‘They have usually stopped work, school or college and need rest periods, often sleeping in the afternoon for one or two hours. Their sleep at night is generally poor quality and disturbed.
‘People with severe CFS/M.E. are unable to do any activity for themselves, or can carry out minimal daily tasks only (such as face washing, cleaning teeth). They have severe cognitive difficulties and depend on a wheelchair for mobility.
‘They are often unable to leave the house, or have a severe and prolonged after-effect if they do so. They may also spend most of their time in bed, and are often extremely sensitive to light and noise.’
There are no specific tests for CFS – it’s generally diagnosed based on exclusion.
Your doctor will take note of your symptoms and will rule out other conditions that could be causing them before giving you an official diagnosis of CFS.
As the symptoms of CFS/ME are similar to those of many common illnesses that usually get better on their own, a diagnosis of CFS/ME may be considered if you don’t get better as quickly as expected.
If you’re experiencing tiredness, it is likely that there is a cause other than CFS – but if you are worried and it has been going on for a long time, it’s best to go to your doctor – even if it’s just for peace of mind.
Sad woman suffering from insomnia
Find out how you can celebrate the day and how to get started with some easy yoga poses if you’re a beginner .
What is International Yoga Day?
International Yoga Day is now in its fifth year after the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) announced its inception in 2015.
The date was suggested by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his UN address, owing to it being the longest day of the year.
How do people celebrate International Yoga Day?
Thousands of people across India celebrated today through an array of events, including a main event held in Ranchi which was attended by over 40,000 people.
There’s lots of events happening this weekend across the country, including free workshops and exclusive classes held by clothing store Sweaty Betty.
Check out Eventbrite to see what events are happening near you.
If you’re not able to attend an event, you can always roll out your mat and attempt some yoga at home. More on that below…
What easy yoga poses can I try out for International Yoga Day?
There are lots of yoga poses for beginners you can try out at home:
Downward dog: Get on your hands and knees and set your knees directly below your hip. Exhale to lift your tailbone up and back and ensure you keep a slight bend in the knees. Send your heels towards the mat, allow your head to be heavy and send your palms into the mat. Breathe deeply into the back-line.
Child’s pose: Kneel on the floor and align your big toes together. Sit back towards your heels then separate your knees about as wide as your hips, allowing your tailbone to drop down towards to the mat. Let your forehead rest on the mat and breathe deeply into your back.
Cat/cow: This is a gentle pose which helps prepare the body for other poses. Start by lifting your tailbone before taking your gaze along the floor to find a gentle back-bend and then curve through the back. Allow your head to be heavy and release the crown of your head toward the floor. Send the floor away through the hands and shins.
Friends Practicing Yoga Together
A new relationship takes time to blossom.
The honeymoon period, which takes place during the first few months, gradually fades into a new, better stage where you both feel safe and secure. There’s bound to be some minor arguments, as well as testing times, but this is only natural and hopefully it will only bring you closer together.
However, research has emerged which shows some couples may not be giving themselves all that long to work out the kinks in their relationship.
What’s more, they are testing the waters by going on ‘make or break’ holidays.
According to a recent survey by Sandals Resorts, which included 2,000 participants, one in four couples go off on holiday together after three months or sooner. Out of these couples, 20% do so with the purpose of finding out whether they are really suited for each other.
The ‘make or break’ trip usually lasts around seven days, though one in eight couples go for two weeks.
There are some benefits to going away with your partner; the survey found that three in 10 people have more sex with their other half on holiday compared to at home, and nearly half (40%) said this strengthens their feelings towards the other person.
And for 25% of couples the romantic holiday vibe continues for two weeks after they get back home.
In fact, one in 10 claimed they decided to move in together after the trip, one in eight decided to get engaged or married and 10% of participants said they felt inspired to start a family while they were away.
Take these findings with a pinch of salt and bear in mind that the survey covered a wide age range, from 18 to 55.
However, it does raise an important question: is it healthy to put this level of pressure on a new relationship?
Should a holiday be ‘make or break’ after just three months, when you’re still getting to know each other?
‘There’s no harm in pressure-testing a relationship, and we all have a tendency to do it from time to time, to assess whether or not our bond with our partner is true,’ Stu Nugent, relationship and sex expert at LELO, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Putting a little pressure on a relationship is only a problem when it’s done surreptitiously. That’s when issues of suspicious and jealousy can creep in, and that usually manifests itself in manipulation, mind games, and point-scoring.
‘Since no relationship is black and white, the question, for me at least, is not “is an early test, like a holiday together, healthier than investing a lot more time in it only to eventually discover that it was toxic all along?”. Moreover, is it worth throwing away a relationship in the early stages and wondering forever if it might have turned into a slow-burning but deeper romance later on?
‘Stress-test your relationship every now and then, but not so much that it interferes with the relationship itself. No one likes to feel like they’re being assessed and scrutinised all the time – that can drive good people away.
‘All relationships, regardless of the various dynamics, are essentially founded on mutual compromise and contribution. Sex and holidays are excellent ways to quickly determine if someone is willing to compromise and contribute to be with you.’
How Dry January can improve your sex life
While most of us will regularly change our sheets, vacuum our floors and do the dishes, we often forget to clean items we use on a daily basis.
Makeup brushes, for instance, are often ignored despite the fact bacteria build-up can cause breakouts and other skin problems.
Another neglected item is the wristwatch.
Though it might not be visible, your timepiece could be a ticking time bomb of dirt.
Admittedly we’re being a bit dramatic, however recent findings by watch and sunglasses specialist, Tic Watches, suggests that your watch is ‘three times dirtier’ than the average toilet seat.
The company conducted a swab test of ten different types of watches, which looked for aerobic bacteria, yeast and mould, and each piece captured a ‘worrying’ amount of dirt.
One person’s Fitbit had the worst result – it was found to have eight times more bacteria than a toilet seat and flush handle.
Overall, plastic and leather options also carried more dirt than metal ones.
What’s more, it was found that 24% of British people never clean their watch and 21% do so less than every six months. Split among the genders, women were somewhat worse at keeping their timepiece in shape (27%), compared to men (24%).
Feeling the need to rip off your watch and throw it in the bin? Don’t be hasty.
Firstly, a certain level of bacteria is normal and healthy – we’re surrounded by dirt, dust, fecal matter (yes, really) and general bacteria on a daily basis – just be careful not to let it build up.
And consider what your watch is in proximity of – sneezing, coughing, food splatter and more.
Basically what we’re saying is: clean your watch on a regular basis.
Before you start scrubbing away, bear in mind that different watches require different cleaning methods, however it’s recommended that you give it a wipe with a dry, soft cloth every night and a thorough clean once a month.
For more expensive watches you will sometimes get a special cleaning cloth as part of your purchase, but you can also easily buy one online or in a watch shop.
‘Whether you wear a watch every day, or just during working hours, one thing is for certain, we don’t clean them as much as we wash our hands,’ said Daniel Richmond, managing director of Tic Watches.
‘Unfortunately, not all watches are waterproof, so avoiding any contact with water when we’re wearing them could be the main reason for a build-up of bacteria.
‘For those who wear a watch every day, we recommend giving it a good clean at least once a month.’
The more you look after your timepiece, the longer it will last too.
And there’s the added extra of not walking around with a toilet seat around your wrist.
Your watch is dirtier than a toilet seat
Love, Or Something Like It
In Love, Or Something Like It, our new Metro.co.uk series, we’re on a quest to find true love.
Covering everything from mating, dating and procreating to lust and loss, we’ll be looking at what love is and how to find it in the present day.
As a South Asian, Muslim girl growing up, I was always curious about love. I was brought up on love. I loved the idea of falling in love.
South Asian poets taught me about the kind of love that was expressed in palm trees and mangoes: ‘Drunk on the honey of mango blossoms, the koel rapturously kisses his mate…’ (from Ṛtusaṃhāra by Kalidasa).
Bollywood films taught me that love and desire could only be portrayed by two flowers lightly brushing up against each other in the wind followed by high-pitch singing and heavy tabla beats.
And my mother taught me about unconditional love: that expectations can lead to disappointments, so it’s better to love fully and love properly and to never expect anything back. Why should we live in disappointment when we can live in love?
But it took me coming out and becoming visibly queer and Muslim to understand that love, for me, is a political act.
No matter who I fall in love with, someone somewhere always has something to say: if I fall in love with a woman, I am gay. If I fall in love with a man, I am straight. If I fall in love with someone who is not Asian then I am a traitor and if I fall in love with someone who is Asian, I am a stereotype.
I am seen as a submissive Muslim girl devoid of sexuality, while simultaneously being sexualised by the western media. I cannot ‘just’ fall in love.
For me to find love I must wade though the homophobes and the Islamaphobes and the sexists and the racists and then, maybe, I’ll find someone who will stand beside me during protests and wipe my face when bigots spit on me.
I am a queer Muslim who has had to justify her own existence and am forced to do the same to others every day – just as I cannot simply fall in love, I cannot find love easily.
Even when I manage to step away and not care about the identity labels people give me there are other considerations I have to make, other questions I have to ask.
Will the woman I love be content with not holding my hand in public because I’m scared of being beaten up by homophobes?
Will the man I love stand by my side holding up rainbow flags at Pride parades?
My true love needs to understand that sometimes I want to pray, and sometimes I want to party, and sometimes I don’t want to hate myself for not doing either or doing both.
If the person I fall in love with is from another race, will I have to explain racism to them or can I just give them Reni Eddo Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race and hope that they will understand?
If the person I love is from a different faith, will I have to argue my own God into existence?
To find love, I need to be many different things.
I need to be powerful, for being a Muslim who is desiring is taboo.
I need to be strong, for being queer and loving women may get me beaten up.
For me to find love I must wade though the homophobes and the Islamaphobes and the sexists and the racists and then, maybe, I’ll find someone who will stand beside me during protests and wipe my face when bigots spit on me.
Some people are scared that spouting racism will get milkshake thrown on them. Me, I’m scared that loving someone, and showing the world that I love them, will get me killed.
In spite of it all I’d still like to be a romantic. At 27, I still love talking about love and still find myself endlessly swiping left and left (and sometimes right) and then chickening-out before actually meeting anyone.
I have downloaded, swiped, deleted and re-downloaded so many dating apps that I could probably start a review site. But right now, love exhausts me.
Ultimately it is my mothers love that I come back to. The unconditional love for her family, her friends and her work are what keeps me going.
Like my mother, I have a lot of love to give. And I’ve now written and performed too many of my own poems about love and desire for love to just give up on me now.
Despite the conditions and labels that other people may put on my love, I will always love. I will always look for it. And hopefully, one day it will find me too.
Last week in Love, Or Something Like It: I met my husband on a sex website
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Strong Women is a weekly series that celebrates diversity in the world of fitness.
Too often women are taught that they have to look a certain way in order to be fit, healthy and active.
Women of all ages, sizes, races and abilities can be strong – physically and mentally – this series aims to tackle preconceptions and show that fitness doesn’t have one look.
Each week we meet a woman who has achieved something incredible and breaks the Instagram-perfect mould of what a strong woman should look like.
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is the Bellator Women’s Flyweight World Champion. She is physically and mentally tough, training in the ring and underwater to build up tolerance and endurance.
Ilima-Lei is passionate about the rights of indigenous women and wants young girls to always feel empowered to ‘fight back’.
Tell us about your relationship with fitness
My relationship with fitness has been lifelong but for a little break during my college years.
I was an athlete my whole life, I came from a family of athletes but after suffering some pretty devastating knee injuries which required surgeries in high school I decided that I was not going to play any sport after high school, which was really hard for me to accept because I always saw myself at least playing in college.
It was my dream as a little girl to be in the WNBA and play basketball and it was a hard pill to swallow to know that I wouldn’t play sport after high school because it was just too difficult.
At college I ended up putting on a lot of weight and it wasn’t until I finished that I decided that it was time to at least get back into shape – not necessarily compete in sports again, but just get into shape.
I decided to join an MMA gym and a CrossFit gym and I told myself whichever one I liked better I would try to stay with. I chose the MMA gym. That was about six years ago and now I’m competing in MMA.
Fighting under the Bellator MMA banner is my full-time career and my life.
How did you get in to MMA and when did you realise you had a talent for it?
It wasn’t until my fifth pro fight that I was like, OK, maybe this could be a thing. That was when I fought for the belt.
I didn’t really accept it as being something I could make a full-time career until after I was already professional. I feel like now it’s my identity.
I love the lifestyle. I love that it allows me to pursue other things that I have a passion for. I love that it gives me a platform to speak about things that I am passionate about.
I always explain to people that I fight twice a year and to prepare for a fight you need three months of very, very focused discipline so really, I’m only working about six months out of the year.
Of course, the other six months I’m trying to stay in shape, but it allows me to travel the world, to spend time with my family and to be involved in things I am passionate about – like indigenous rights.
What are the benefits of training underwater?
One of my classmates from Hawaii was doing underwater training in San Diego – he is an NFL football player.
I saw him doing this with some of his teammates and I thought it looked really cool. He invited me to a practice and I was totally hooked. That was about a year ago and in my last two fight camps I have implemented this training into my preparation – it has been such a game changer.
I’m now an instructor and I even train other fighters using this technique. That just shows how much I believe in it and how incredible the programme is.
The physical benefits of it, like CO2 tolerance and vo2 max, are bi-products of the mental training that is required.
It requires and builds a lot of mental fortitude which translates directly to my fighting.
I remember I was in a nasty choke hold and I could see that there were two-minutes left on the clock and I knew from my underwater training that I can hold my breath for around two minutes and 20 seconds, so I was like – let’s wait this out, I can get through this.
You fight for the rights of indigenous women – what inspires that?
I initially went to college to become a social studies teacher, or a history teacher, and a lot of my studies focused on indigenous issues because I was passionate about indigenous knowledge.
I was always very interested in working with other cultures so when I started fighting, winning and climbing the ranks I decided to create a scholarship called The Ilimanator Scholarship.
The scholarship is for young native girls, whether that’s native Hawaiian, native American, native Alaskan, to help send them abroad to travel because a lot of the time these girls will never leave their reservations or their islands.
Part of the reason I wanted to create a scholarship for this demographic is because statistically, indigenous women actually face the highest rates of violence out of any demographic.
There is a movement called the ‘missing and murdered indigenous women’ movement, #MMIW, and it was created because in North America, these disappearances and deaths are an epidemic.
Indigenous women are seen as disposable, so I wanted to show these young native girls that not only can you be a strong, successful woman, but that you can do so as a native women and you can fight back.
You have to fight back. Your life depends on it. Don’t just become another statistic, learn to fight back in all ways, physically, mentally, emotionally, verbally.
I always try to teach the girls that it’s not necessarily ‘stranger danger’ that you need to be worried about, because 80% of violence against women is from someone they know.
It’s about recognising red flags, having enough self-love that you won’t be in an abusive relationship and having the confidence to tell someone ‘don’t touch me’.
Most importantly, you will be a confident woman that isn’t submissive and who has a voice.
I do believe that combat sports or some type of martial arts will help to give you that confidence and a feeling of empowerment.
Do you come up against any prejudices or stereotypes as a female MMA fighter?
I’m very lucky because Bellator MMA is amazing in terms of looking after their fighters, whether they are male or female.
We all have big platforms, female fighters headline shows just like male fighters.
Scott Coker has done an amazing job with Bellator’s female fighters. He has always discovered them and believed in them. I haven’t met any prejudice when it comes to the promotion or my gym, I’ve always been respected and treated well by my coaches and other fighters.
Having said that, I will tell you that I have faced prejudice from some of the fans or the followers.
We do tend to be overlooked as a female fighters – if we aren’t physically what society expects us to look like.
If you don’t have a pretty face then a lot of times you are overlooked as a female fighter.
People will say that they only made it to where they are now, not because of their fighting ability but because of the way they look.
I think it’s something that female fighters have been dealing with since the beginning – that our looks are almost more important than our fighting ability.
I want us to be recognised for our fighting ability.
Why should women feel empowered to try combat sport?
The hardest thing about getting into a combat sport as a woman is honestly getting into the gym in the first place.
As women we might have been raised to be more reserved or the idea of touching other people or being in such close quarters with men especially, might make us feel uncomfortable.
It’s important to find a gym that you feel comfortable in, maybe one that offers a women’s class if that’s something that’s important to you. The gym atmosphere and vibe makes a huge difference so it is really important.
But don’t give up if you aren’t happy with the first gym you try. Just keep looking around because it all comes down to the gym fit.
Once you get over the hump of the fear of the unknown and get yourself into a gym, you will never look back.
Going to an MMA or combat sports gym it will change your life. I’ve never heard of a women who has got in to it and gone back.
MMA gave me back my health. If it was not for MMA who knows where I would be right now. I know I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am right now.
What do you think makes a ‘strong woman’?
Strong women take so many different forms.
You can find strong women everywhere, in different circumstances and realities, across the world.
For me personally, it is someone who is independent.
My parents have instilled in me that we should always make our own money and so I’ve always carried that with me. I think it has really helped me in life and I am now doing things on my own.
For me it’s being independent, setting and achieving goals, with or without having a partner by your side.
Bellator London takes place at The SSE Arena, Wembley tonight – Saturday, 22nd June. Tickets are on sale now and can be bought online.
Strong Women: 'I'm an MMA fighter - I don't want to be judged for how pretty I am'
Two years ago, I got talking to a guy on a dating app. I was excited when he asked me for a drink and we got to the swanky restaurant, and sat down with our glasses of wine, only for him to point out the cluster of spots on my chin.
Acne can range from pesky to debilitating for anyone but there are additional issues within the gay community.
There is a lot of pressure for gay men to ‘look the part’. A 2012 study revealed that 48 per cent of gay males said they would sacrifice at least one year of their lives to attain the ‘perfect body’. A healthy head of hair, trim physique and clear complexion are three of the most sought-after attributes.
Despite my negative experience, I was persistent in visiting gay bars in London to build a network of friends, and felt more confident with my latest crop of spots disguised at least partly under a layer of concealer.
But more often than not the night would end with my confidence hitting rock bottom, and me feeling vulnerable and close to tears. More and more, I ended up completely avoiding the gay scene, instead choosing to go out with my circle of straight friends, where I felt more accepted in conventional settings.
Finding acceptance in the cis and hetero communities has been something of a contradiction. I grew up as the only gay kid in my year in a small home counties town, being teased for not wanting to play football with the lads. With acne as well, I stuck out like a sore thumb.
Now, once again, I was being made to feel like an outsider when acceptance was everything I had craved – but not from the people you’d expect.
My friends had faces similar to mine, faces that showed their acne and scars without the mask of make-up.
Maybe, like many issues that affect minorities, acceptance of acne comes down to representation. Straight celebrities tend to dominate mainstream media, which gives likes of Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber not only a platform to speak about their acne, but a ready-made audience who will accept them no matter what.
Acne is yet to be discussed by gay celebrities and this filters down. Now more than ever, celebrity culture has a strong influence on how gay men want to appear and this has naturally led to acne becoming a taboo issue.
However, for young boys struggling with their sexuality, acceptance is vital. Lack of self-worth and belonging at a young age can build up insecurity over the years, leading to an unhealthy perception of what your body ‘should’ look like.
The consequences can be serious: a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) revealed that sexual minorities with acne could be at higher risk of developing mental health problems.
As the years have gone by, I feel much more comfortable not masking my acne before going to a gay bar, but there are still anxious moments when meeting new people or my partner’s friends in the community.
I’m fortunate to now be in a very loving relationship and recently engaged to my soulmate. Even though I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, my acne is still a daily chore to manage and social gatherings still hold a lot of anxiety.
The attitude toward acne in the gay community is far from changing. Publications targeted for the gay market – that have held a huge amount influence over the decades – could make a significant difference in normalising the idea of having a few spots.
In addition, gay public figures could do more to become inclusive and separate themselves more from the ‘body ideal’ and embrace vulnerability. What’s the fear of doing this?
There has been much talk over the years of women making a stand against public figures and publications for not portraying a realistic body image, but a similar movement also needs to be made in the gay community.
Acne is a condition that I did not choose and I cannot help but, if I could go back, I wouldn’t change it. It’s made me the person I am today: strong, independent and resilient.
Today, I feel proud to be a gay man. It’s come with many trials and tribulations, but my experience has led me to accept myself. I feel I can take on any challenge that comes my way and, although my relationship has played a big part in how I see myself, I can move forward without my appearance being at the forefront of my thinking.
how can we get more in touch with our senses? and why should we?