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I’m not just a vegan. I’m a fat vegan

Gillian Fisher is a fat vegan
If you’re vegan you’re automatically sporty, slender and consider kale a primary food group (Picture: Gillian Fisher)

‘You are vegan?’ The hairdresser’s comb froze in mid-air as she met my gaze in the mirror with a look of baffled disbelief on her face.

This was not the first time stating my lifestyle had been met with this response.

You see, I’m not just a vegan. I’m a fat vegan. If the various ad-campaigns, personal accounts and Instagram posts are to be believed, veganism is the ultimate health and fitness regime.

If you’re vegan you’re automatically sporty, slender and consider kale a primary food group. Increasingly veganism is being seen not as an ideology, but as a cure for being overweight and frankly, it’s getting on my rather sizeable tits.

The fact is, veganism is not a diet, as my size 20 trousers can firmly attest to. It’s a lifestyle which aims to boycott all animal agriculture.

If we’re gonna get technical, it was defined as ‘to seek an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses’ by Vegan Society co-founder Leslie Cross in 1949.

At no point has having rock hard abs and optimum triglyceride levels ever been a requirement.

As I recently explained to a guy who couldn’t fathom a vegan ordering chips, veganism isn’t really about food. It’s just that the most obvious place we see animal products is on our dinner plates.

Provided something doesn’t contain any animal products, it’s vegan. Of course, this includes all the fruit, veggies, pulses and healthful stuff that boosts your energy and lowers your cholesterol. But it also includes Morrison’s jam doughnuts and Frazzles.

Vegan Gillian Fisher prepares a vegan recipe
As I recently explained to a guy who couldn’t fathom a vegan ordering chips, veganism isn’t really about food (Picture: Gillian Fisher)

There really is no need for me to be sneaking Big Macs on the sly as seems to be a common suspicion.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s brilliant that the benefits of plant-protein are being heralded during the ad-break. Championing the health and weight-management aspects of a vegan diet is a great selling point, so have at it.

I consider each beetroot burger a step closer to a future without battery farming and bovine emissions. But by conflating veganism so inseparably with slimness, two negative things are achieved.

Firstly, it reduces veganism to a diet, indistinguishable from Keto or Paleo, meaning the vital issues of animal welfare and environment are overlooked. People may enjoy a cashew cheese risotto, but are completely unaware that their woollen skirt, lanolin-enriched moisturiser and leather belt are all still connected to the meat industry.

This is fine if like Venus Williams, you’re just shunning animal products for health and is also where the distinction between ‘vegan’ and ‘plant-based’ comes in. But if you’re going vegan for ethical reasons, you may be lumbered with a complete misunderstanding and underestimation of what it involves and why it matters.

Secondly, it creates a stereotype of veganism, a standard by which all other soy munchers will be judged. It holds the body up to even greater scrutiny than usual, effectively creating a ‘veganer than thou’ hierarchy where being fat seems not only as a failing but as un-vegan.

Should having a muffin top really mean my ethics are called into question? Essentially, a new vegan stereotype has been created, and with it an enforced beauty standard.

In just the same way that not all omnivores live on greasy fry ups, not all vegans cram in the cauliflower rice.

Gone are the latter-day tree-snugglers in tie-dye, and in their place, tanned athletes swigging organic kombucha while updating their YouTube.

According to some of these new-wave vegans, it is every vegans’ duty to set an example. At last year’s London VegFest I was actually asked if I thought I was a good role-model for future vegans at my size. Of course, the person asking was a militant, mostly raw vegan with their own blog.

I don’t consider myself a role model to anyone, I am simply living according to my own ideology which happens to be veganism. But such is the focus upon veganism as a health-trend, that people often assume I’m a recent covert as part of a weight-loss plan.

Thankfully the rather patronising clucks of ‘well done’ or ‘that’s a great start’ quieten down pretty quickly when I say I went to the plant side almost four years ago.

Aside from the wrongful supposition that plant-based food is automatically healthy, (have a glance at the fat content in most coconut cheeses) this shows how negatively fatness is viewed in our society.

The assumption being that I must want to lose weight and veganism is simply a means to achieving it. For all the people patting me on the back know, I may feel confident, energetic and downright sexy in my Rubenesque form.

Admittedly, I usually feel about as seductive as a dropped blancmange, but they don’t know that.

To be clear, of course, some people feel better and lose weight when they go vegan, especially if switching from meat-laden takeaways to a whole food diet, packed with freshly dug vegetables.

However, in just the same way that not all omnivores live on greasy fry ups, not all vegans cram in the cauliflower rice. The supposition that as a vegan my skin should be clearer, my eyes brighter and my buttocks firm enough to bounce a coin off are simply not true and place additional pressure on those following this lifestyle.

My body may be wobbly and squishy in places that I wish it wasn’t but it is nonetheless 100 % vegan and that’s good enough for me.

MORE: Veganuary doesn’t create a better world, it’s just a holiday in compassion

MORE: I’m a vegetarian who slipped up and ate meat – and that’s OK

Strong Women: ‘Taiko drumming freed me from crippling shyness and insecurity’


Strong Women is a weekly series that champions diversity in sport, fitness and health.

The world of fitness and wellbeing can be alienating for women if you don’t happen to look a certain way.

But the reality is that it is possible to be fit, strong and love your body and mind regardless of age, size, race or ability.

Each week we discover some of the incredible women who are redefining strength and achieving amazing things.

Liz Walters is a Japanese Taiko instructor. She says the ancient discipline, which blends martial arts with drumming, has helped her discover an inner strength she didn’t know she had.

Liz Walter drumming
‘When you play, you put all your energy into the exact instant that you hit the drum’ (Picture: Liz Walters)

What is Taiko Drumming – what do you love about it?

You only have to look at the faces of my students and performance group playing Japanese Taiko to see why I love it so much – this says it all.

They are dedicated, full of life, spirit, passion and endless enthusiasm to learn.

Taiko (meaning drum) is such an enjoyable, full-on and thrilling physical activity which demands total discipline and focus.

It is completely engaging, great for improving coordination and building character and respect.

Participants find a new confidence and sense of the self that they’ve never experienced before, within a supportive and encouraging group environment.

It’s a total body, mind and spirit workout.

I love that Taiko is for everyone. Any age, size, sex or cultural background. Respect, self-discipline, commitment and etiquette are all important elements of Japanese Taiko.

When you play, you put all your energy into the exact instant that you hit the drum. It’s at that precise moment that you can communicate the colour and feeling of the sound.

Taiko brings great joy and positivity to my life and I feel honoured to meet and work with so many unique and beautiful hearted individuals.

I teach six classes every week in London and travel to various parts of the country with my Taiko set to work with groups, schools and businesses. I

I’ve performed and taught worldwide (including in Japan) and helped set up the first ever Taiko groups in Italy and Greece.

Each session results in an amazing buzz of excitement and sense of achievement amongst all participants. It’s a very liberating art form.

Taiko drumming performance
‘Taiko is about recognising, realising and letting go of the ego’ (Picture: Liz Walters)

In a typical lesson, there are many elements to focus on – how you stand and hold the Bachi (sticks), where you play on the drum, how to speak the rhythms, how your sound fits with other players around you.

There is no space for thinking about your own problems in the outside world. In the words of Bob Dylan, it is ‘time out of mind’.

A selfless art full of heart.

Of course you have a multitude of dynamics within every group but each person brings their own colours.

Taiko used to be referred to as ‘kagami’ meaning ‘mirror’ – the sound and energy coming from the Taiko is reflective of the person playing. If a person is frustrated or defensive, the sound and energy may sound aggressive. If a person is shy, the sound may be tentative or quiet.

For me, it’s all about joy and expression.

It’s about giving all of yourself, thinking about others and experiencing togetherness whilst having a fantastic time.

What I love the very most about Taiko is that it’s about recognising, realising and letting go of the ego.

One of my students, who is a psychotherapist, said: ‘It is about discovering the body as the empty vessel. It is for a far greater energy to pass through. The challenge is to get out of the way, to disappear, not to become more.’

What’s great about these classes is that you can attend because you simply like to drum or want find some confidence, or to learn about Japanese culture, or feel part of a supportive group.

How did you get into it?

It’s a very niche hobby really. There is nothing really similar to Japanese Taiko anywhere.

A martial art style of drumming that teaches movement, social and spatial awareness within a disciplined structure, ultimately leading to freedom and expression of body, mind and spirit.

You need to witness it to truly understand what I’m saying.

A woman emphatically enjoying taiko drumming
‘Everything has to come from the heart, this way, it’s honest’ (Picture: Liz Walters)

In 1996 when I first witnessed Taiko, I was quite literally blown away by the sheer size of the drums, the thunderous, intensive and overwhelming sound which vibrate the hairs on your skin and the total commitment of the players when they played in such tight unison.

I then found a workshop in London run by Mugenkyo. My friends all backed out last minute, so I made the terrifying and – I didn’t realise at the time – life-changing decision to go on my own.

I was up all night panicking about what may or may not happen. Despite my debilitating fears, I went and I never once looked back. That panic and self-doubt has helped make me the teacher I am today.

What challenges have you faced over the years?

Being a female facilitator in male dominated environments was a little intimidating in the beginning, especially when there were a few mouthy individuals.

But I realised over the years that it was simply about being comfortable with myself and that those mouthy individuals were usually the most terrified of being ‘exposed’ because they might not be able to do what’s asked or expected of them.

The more I trusted in myself and in the beauty and profoundness of what I was sharing, the better participants responded.

Everything has to come from the heart, this way, it’s honest. We spend too long in our early lives trying to be this or that kind of person, when all we need to be is ourselves.

Playing Taiko, you learn to be comfortable about who you are. You cannot hide behind a Taiko drum, but you can learn to love and celebrate who you are and help others to do the same.

Taiko drumming class in action
‘I don’t believe fear goes away, but you learn how to work with it’ (Picture: Liz Walters)

The biggest setback is not having a proper venue to teach from.

We need an affordable, big, sound-proof and quiet space where we can teach, practice and store Taiko. It’s been impossible so far to find this in London, so for now we use a small space underneath the railway arches in Bethnal Green.

How has Taiko improved your confidence?

I was literally crippled with shyness until I started playing Taiko.

I found something which thrilled my spirit and focussed all my energies to the point where I was no longer important. It wasn’t about ‘me’ it was about the group.

Of course, I went through many years of further terror and anxiety, but it’s called being human.

Eventually I got tired of being scared all the time and kept telling myself; ‘don’t look forward, practice being in the moment and just give your best’. It worked.

Now you can put me in a room with a single Taiko drum and 1000+ people and I’m in my element, because I trust my heart and stomach and see myself as a vessel through which Taiko can be shared.

I don’t believe fear goes away, but you learn how to work with it.

What is TaikoTherapy – how do you envisage it helping women?

After teaching for more than 10 years, I began to realise that Taiko was not only about rhythm and movement, but a much deeper, more profound and beneficial activity, for the wellbeing of mind and body.

TaikoTherapy in a nutshell is mindfulness in motion. These sessions include Zazen meditation, Qi Gong/ Tai Chi and Taiko drumming.

Meditation calms the mind and brings the group together, Qi Gong/Tai Chi is exercise to help stretch and move the body, Taiko is the body mind workout at as deep a level as you want to go.

It’s about doing and sharing things together as a group: exercising, playing, talking, eating, laughing, learning, mindfulness, sharing life experiences.

Each person is different, but we all share being human in this wonderful but often challenging world.

A group taking part in Taiko therapy
‘There was always a strong woman waiting to come out, but she just didn’t know how, until Taiko came along’ (Picture: Liz Walters)

TaikoTherapy is very beneficial for women, many of whom are trying to maintain balance for everyone else around them, yet forgetting themselves, their needs and their own identities.

Learning Taiko helps us realise and face our fear, resentment, joy, anger, passion. It teaches us patience of ourselves and others and that we can change for the better.

The workshops are very empowering and affirming on all levels. One of the participants – a sexual abuse survivor – attributes Taiko to her being able to deal confidently with continuing life challenges.

Equally for men who face their own internal and external struggles, TaikoTherapy is a positive channel to utilise pent up frustration and energy on the drum, allowing one’s self to be in the moment and later, to have the opportunity of stillness and a chance to listen to one’s self and one another.

Do you see yourself as a ‘strong’ woman?

I do now. There was always a strong woman waiting to come out, but she just didn’t know how, until Taiko came along.

I’ve been lucky to meet other strong women along the way who have influenced my life and still do today.

I can walk into any situation now and be ok with that.

My body and spirit are wide awake. My sense of justice, compassion and empathy are full and have no bounds. I can live life fully and honestly.

It’s taken me more than 20 years to become strong. I am now as about as strong and resilient as I will ever be and I’d like for others what I’ve achieved for myself by using the best way I know how – through Japanese Taiko.

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Keep the toxic pressure to lose weight away from masturbation

An illustration of a woman masturbating
Masturbation is one of the few things we can enjoy without the pressure to do something ‘good’ (Picture: Ella Byworth/ metro.co.uk)

When I receive a press release for a calorie counting vibrator, I’m not even surprised.

It’s so commonplace that women are targeted with pressure to count every calorie and turn every activity into a way to lose weight that the existence of a vibrator that racks up what you burn through sexual pleasure is hardly a shock.

In a culture where studies tell us how many calories we burn by ironing, smiling, and having a bath, of course sex would be dragged into proceedings.

The Zalo, a vibrator that links to a calorie-counting app, is just a symptom of a sickness that tells women that anything and everything they’re doing must help them become slim enough to appease others.

I’ve ranted about how sex isn’t about losing calories before, but that two years later another calorie counting sex toy has been brought out shows that people aren’t getting the message.

And it’s not just about losing weight. It’s also about the pressure to make everything we do productive.

When every hobby becomes a side hustle, not even masturbation can be enjoyed for its own sake – it has to have another socially approved benefit.

For women, that benefit will nearly always come down to making ourselves appealing under the standards of sexism. That’s what we’re told is the reason to do most things – exercise to lose weight and tone up your bum, not for the endorphin rush or to be able to run for the bus; read and travel so you’re more attractive to potential suitors, not for the joy in the acts.

It’s only natural that masturbation – one of the few things we’re actually allowed to do by ourselves and entirely for ourselves – would be snatched up by a brand and marketed as a way to lose weight.

We have to reclaim masturbation from the clutches of diet culture to declare, loudly, that we’re allowed to do things just because they feel good.

Because apparently it’s the calories burned while masturbating that makes it worth it, not the orgasms.

Just like sex, masturbation is supposed to be all about enjoyment. It’s a time when you can forget about everything else and just be in the moment, feeling all the physical stuff.

When we position masturbation as a way to count calories, we’re entirely missing the point of it. We’re no longer immersing ourselves purely in our own pleasure, but pondering how we can make this time double up as a way to drop some pounds.

When we view even masturbation as a time when we have to count how many calories we’re burning, it becomes a chore.

Masturbation is one of the few things we can enjoy without the pressure to do something ‘good’. We can be selfish and not care about all the pressures of everyday life, instead focusing purely on how to make ourselves feel wonderful.

When we bring diet culture and calorie counting into that, it’s ruined. The outside world has come in and all the negative stuff related to our bodies rushes along with it.

This has to be the last straw.

We have to reclaim masturbation from the clutches of diet culture to declare, loudly, that we’re allowed to do things just because they feel good.

If you want to masturbate, masturbate. Do it for the pleasure it brings, the fun, the relaxation.

That’s the only way to reclaim our time and our selves, to deny that we exist only to be machines working towards success set by someone else.

Don’t masturbate because ‘oh, you really should’; because it’s a way to burn a few extra calories. We can’t allow our reasons for doing something purely pleasurable to be motivated by weight loss. We have to be able to just take joy in something without worrying about how productive it is, and how close it’s taking us to a goal – our own or one imposed by others.

Read a book, not for ‘research’ or because everyone says you have to or to tick off something on your to-do list, but because it’s just nice.

Eat the damn sandwich, not as a ‘cheat meal’ or to get in your daily recommended amount of watercress, but because it’s loaded up with goat’s cheese and you love that stuff.

And for god’s sake, masturbate, never to count calories or lose weight or justify eating that delicious sandwich we mentioned, but just because it feels f***ing good.

MORE: Men who send unsolicited dick pics tend to be self-obsessed sexists

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Do you need to explicitly ask someone’s permission before sending them nudes?


I recently got off with a man who had a boyfriend. He was kind of, but not really, in an open relationship. Even after we’d texted for a few days, I struggled to figure out what his deal was.

One evening, when I was hungover, bored, and horny, I asked him outright: ‘would it be crossing a boundary if I sent you some nudes?’

He was silent for one night and one morning (oh, the agonies I suffered! The sun was atrocious and the moon bitter!) before replying that yes, yes it would.

Obviously, this is the most humiliating thing that’s happened to anyone, ever, in any context. But asking his permission was still the right thing to do. It would have been far more uncomfortable, for both of us, if I had sent the nudes first.

He, in turn, was completely within his rights to refuse – as unfathomable as I find it that anyone would turn down the opportunity to see my arse.

So even though it occasioned one of the most lacerating bouts of shame I’d ever experienced, it was quite a mature exchange. Up until I blocked him across all platforms, anyway.

But should you always ask permission before you send someone nudes? Isn’t that kind of a buzzkill?

I’d hope we can all agree that entirely unsolicited dick pics are violating and intrusive – the very best you can say about them is that they’re rude. But perhaps the dynamic differs depending on the gender of who’s involved.

Dick pics are a common opening gambit on gay dating apps, for instance, and while I find this presumptuous and kind of weird, it’s not particularly traumatic. I normally flick through them with a bored, appraising eye.

Similarly, Louis, a 26-year-old gay man, does not find receiving unsolicited dick pics particularly deep.

He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘If you’ve met before and you’re having a conversation, you probably don’t need to ask for permission. I personally like a surprise nude.’

What's a better approach - ignoring all emails on holiday or trying to sift through them as you go?
Sometime’s nudes aren’t always welcome (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

If a man is sending them to a woman, however, this seems like an act of sexual aggression, more akin to flashing.

In fact, the term cyberflashing has been used to describe the act of sending explicit images on AirDrop, which usually takes place on public transport.

This is predatory, sinister behaviour – but it’s hardly much worse than doing the same thing on Tinder after a few minutes of conversation.

Sally, 26, a bisexual woman, agrees that the power dynamics are different with men: ‘If a woman sent me a nude out of nowhere, and we weren’t already flirting, I would still find it really f***ing weird.’

‘But I’d be bemused. Whereas if it came from a man, I would feel threatened.

Alvaro, a 27 year old straight man, is horrified by the notion of sending a woman an unsolicited nude. ‘Even in my wildest days of singledom,’ he says, ‘I would never have dreamt of doing that. It goes without saying that it’s just a comically entitled, creepy thing to do.’

‘It’s perhaps even sinister, but I don’t know if that’s taking it too far. Certainly, it’s pathetic.’

A good hard-and-fast rule to follow, then, would be ‘don’t send someone naked pictures of yourself out-of-the-blue.’

What if there was an orgasm button on your phone?
Sending nudes is an essential part of the sex lives of many millennials(picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

But what if you are already flirting? When does an unsolicited nude become a solicited one? Does that solicitation have to be made explicitly clear?

If the conversation you’re having is already unambiguously and explicitly sexual (on both sides), then directlly asking permission before sending nudes can feel like overkill.

Anna, a 23 year old woman, agrees: ‘To me, “unsolicited” suggests a random guy who I’ve never had any romantic interest in. If someone like that sent me a dick pic, I would be appalled. But if I’ve been flirting with a guy and we’re texting, and have that kind of relationship then yeah…I’ll see your dick.’

So does she think that flirtatiousness acts as a kind of permission to send nudes?

‘It’s not a form of consent for everyone,’ Anna tells us. ‘But for me specifically, who is literally obsessed with sex, it is.’

This is an interesting point. Most of the discourse around dick pics implies that women only ever receive them under sufferance, that they’ll react with an eye-roll and mockingly share them in the group chat…at best.

But it’s valid for women to be as horny as men; shockingly, lots of women do enjoy seeing the genitals of people they find attractive.

Over recent years, there’s been a glut of articles that go along the lines of ‘A List of Things Women Would Rather See Than Your Penis… Clue: It’s Literally Every Single Thing in the World, Asshole!’

This is fair attitude to adopt and who am I, as a man, to judge? But it seems like we should be stigmatising predatory and sinister ways of sending nudes, rather than the act itself.

To conclude, sending someone unsolicited nudes is never acceptable, particularly so if you’ve never met them and you have no prior sexual rapport (although neither of those things act as justifications in their own right).

But sometimes, you should be able to play it by ear. In most cases, it’s pretty easy to tell from the kind of conversation you’re having whether the person would like to see you naked.

If someone tells you, ‘I want to suck your dick’ then sending them a dick pic hardly seems like a violation, or an uncouth breach of etiquette. But it’s also probably safer to err on the side of caution.

Checking with someone if it’s okay isn’t going to turn them off (and if it does, that would make them kind of a dick – who does’t deserve your nudes.) If anything, it will makes you look more respectful and considerate, and therefore more likely to get a shag.

And even if you ask someone and they do say no, just remember that the alternative – sending nudes that they don’t want – is infinitely more embarrassing.

MORE: Men who send unsolicited dick pics tend to be self-obsessed sexists

MORE: What to do if you think your partner is faking their orgasms

MORE: What happens to your penis as you age?

Little girl steals mum’s birthday cake and sneakily eats the entire thing


An adorable video shows the moment a mum found her five-year-old daughter stuffing her face with an entire birthday cake that she’d stolen from the living room.

Five-year-old Bethany Pitcaithly Nelson was caught eating her mum Sharon’s 50th birthday cake, after it was left on the table following the birthday party.

Sharon found Bethany sat in the hallway in her nappy, shoving the cake in her mouth.

Sharon, a home carer, said she found it so funny that she just had to take a video.

Bethany caught eating the cake
Bethany was caught eating the cake in her nappy (Picture: Sharon Pitcaithly /SWNS.COM)

Sharon said: ‘The previous night, my children and all my family held a surprise 50th birthday party for me, and when I got home I left it on the living room table.

‘It had been a fun but boozy night. I was a little tipsy.

‘Bethany went into the living room the next evening, reached up, pulled the box off, then went into the hallway to hide and eat it.

‘It was almost a full birthday cake. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw her.

Bethany eating the cake
Sharon says Bethany ate the entire cake (Picture: Sharon Pitcaithly /SWNS.COM)

‘Once I stopped filming, I sat down and had a bit of cake with her as well!’

Sharon said this isn’t the first time Bethany has done something sneaky when her back is turned – adding that she’s broken four TVs in the past six months.

Well, eating a cake is better than breaking yet another TV – right?

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Burger King’s halloumi burger is cooked in the same fryer as its chicken and fish, meaning many vegetarians can’t eat it

burger king's halloumi burger
Is the Burger King halloumi burger vegetarian? (Picture: Burger King, Getty)

When Burger King announced the release of a halloumi burger, vegetarians rejoiced.

But we may have been pleased too quickly.

It turns out that while Burger King promotes their halloumi burger as a ‘meat-free’ option, the halloumi is cooked in the same fryer and oil as their chicken and fish products.

Of course, for many vegetarians this won’t be a problem. But those who require their food to be cooked separately from meat products, this is an issue that shuts off the burger as a fast food option.

Over on Twitter, vegetarians who hoped to try the burger weren’t pleased with this revelation.

We had a chat with the team over at Burger King, who confirmed that the halloumi burger is indeed fried in the same fryer as the chicken and fish.

A spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘At this moment in time we’re not operationally able to facilitate separate fryers and oil filtration systems in all of our restaurants. However this is a focus for us and our team are actively looking into solutions for how we can change this in the future.’

When we asked about why they bothered to release a vegetarian option that’s cooked in the same area as chicken and fish, Burger King’s PR team were quick to state that they haven’t described their halloumi burger as ‘vegetarian’, instead using the term ‘meat-free’.

That’s true – in the original press release Burger King describes the burger as an addition to their ‘meat-free alternative’ range.

And in the images of the burger, there’s some small print at the bottom stating that the halloumi is cooked in the same fryer as chicken and fish.

burger king's advert for their new halloumi burger does have small print that clarifies that the halloumi is cooked in the same fryer as chicken and fish
Small print does clarify that the halloumi is cooked in the same fryer as chicken and fish (Picture: Burger King)

When asked about the halloumi burger online, Burger King is responding that yes, it’s cooked in the same fryer as chicken and fish.

So it’s not that any explicit deception has occurred. Instead, people have assumed that a ‘meat-free’ burger made of halloumi would have been created to be vegetarian-friendly.

We also asked Burger King why they would go to the effort of making a halloumi burger that isn’t suitable for vegetarians, surely the key demographic of a burger without meat, but weren’t offered a response further than the reminder that it’s been branded only as ‘meat-free’.

In case you were wondering, Burger King’s veggie burger is actually vegetarian. This one is cooked separately from meat products as the patty isn’t fried, so Burger King is ‘able to maintain vegetarian cooking standards’.

That suggests that anything fried is cooked in the same fryer, meaning that fries and onion rings will also have been in contact with chicken and fish. Just a warning for any strict vegetarians who thought that those sides were easy veggie options.

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Mum rages as one daughter is asked to be flower girl while other is snubbed

Flower girl with peony bouquet and sweets
Who you choose as a flower girl is serious business (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A woman has taken to Mumsnet to ask foradvice after her youngest daughter was asked to be a flower girl at a wedding – but her eldest daughter wasn’t even invited.

The mum explained that she has two daughters, nine and five, the eldest of whom is not her husband’s.

She says that the treatment of her eldest is not usually too bad – but that her husband’s family clearly don’t see her as family.

While her in-laws always buy birthday presents for the youngest daughter, there is never anything for the eldest.

She wrote: ‘They are clearly not bad people but clearly don’t see her as family.’

Her husband’s brother is now getting married, and her youngest daughter has been asked to be a flower girl, while the eldest is not even invited as it is a ‘child-free’ wedding.

This is upset the mother, who feels her eldest should have also been asked to be a part of the wedding too.

Four children at a wedding
The mother feels her daughter is being left out (Picture: Getty)

However, she is scared to bring the situation up with the rest of the family, in case they ‘actually say that she isn’t family and bring up the fact that this is a parallel situation’ to her daughter’s paternal family.

She said: ‘Am I being unreasonable? Should she have been invited to this step-uncle’s wedding? In my heart of hearts (not that I would tell anyone in real life) I think she should have been asked to be a flower girl too!’

Since posting, many other mums have commented to say they completely understand where she is coming from and wholeheartedly agree that her eldest daughter should be treated as family, too.

One woman said: ‘Totally agree should be invited and someone needs to have quiet word with them.’

Another wrote: ‘I think the whole thing sounds really sad. I’d struggle to be nice about bringing the girls around to be treated differently and would happily say we need to limit contact as I understand she’s not your granddaughter but she’s a child and just sees that she has no family except me as her dad’s side don’t do anything either.

‘I’m her mum and I can’t watch that. They might not be “bad” people but they are pretty bloody thoughtless.

Someone else said: ‘This is why we don’t go to child-free weddings. I feel sorry for your daughter. Aside from the wedding, I think your husband needs to remind people that this girl is his family and they are hurting him by excluding her.’

It’s a very sad and uncomfortable situation for any parent with children from a previous marriage – we just hope the little girl isn’t too affected by this.

MORE: How to cut down the costs of being a bridesmaid

MORE: Bride ties the knot wearing a £35 dress she found in a charity shop the day after getting engaged

Amazon is selling a netted canopy chair so you can hang outside without getting annoyed by bugs

Canopy chair
Finally, a reason to go outside (Picture: Getty/Amazon)

It’s summer so you feel like whatever you’re doing, you should be doing it outside in the sun.

Eating! Reading! Drinking beer!

But there’s a downside to this great seasonal tradition, beyond the risk of heatstroke and sunburn.

The presence of all manner of bugs can ruin your attempts at having a peaceful time out in nature, turning you into an irate, sweaty mess swatting at bugs with your pint.

Then you wake up the next day and realise you’re covered with bites. Not fun.

Handily, Amazon is selling a solution that isn’t just ‘wear bug spray at all times’ or ‘stay inside’.

The online retailer is selling a special chair covered with a bug guard made of snazzy netting, so you can sit and chillax in your own insect-free cocoon, enjoying the sun without the insect annoyance that comes with it.

Dreamy (Picture: Amazon)

The Kelsyus Canopy Chair combines a regular camping chair with a hanging net over the top, shielding you from bugs from all angles.

It’s designed to be lightweight enough that you can take it anywhere, and has a handy shoulder strap to help.

You just take a seat and roll down your net, zipping it up to completely protect yourself.

You can see through the netting, which is handy, as you’ll be able to watch all your irritated family members batting away flies as you unwind.

Oh, and it’s got a cup holder. Essential stuff.

Annoyingly, Amazon only seems to be selling this chair through its US site, but we reckon you could replicate the experience by grabbing a chair and throwing a net curtain on top of yourself like a cool ghost costume.

MORE: How to keep flying ants away from you and how long do they live for?

MORE: Doctor shares the signs that you could be allergic to the sun

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Woman once offered a drug used for chemotherapy ditches all meds to treat eczema naturally

Sarra's severe eczema
Sarra was offered chemo (Picture: MDWFeatures)

A woman was offered a drug used in chemotherapy to treat her severe eczema, but ended up ditching all of her medication instead to treat her condition naturally.

Sarra Cherbil had used topical steroids to treat her skin for years, but was never told by doctors that she shouldn’t use the creams long-term.

After a few years of using them, they lost their effect.

It was then recommended that Sarra, 27, start taking the chemotherapy drug methotrexate to treat her skin, but Sarra was desperate to get off medication and instead started researching her condition.

While searching her condition, she came across Topical Steroid Withdrawal, a condition which comes from using topical steroids to treat skin problems such as eczema. It can cause red, itchy burning skin and rashes.

After discovering this, Sarra started to understand why her skin had never been clear, and decided to stop all ointments back in January 2018.

At first, Sarra’s skin became incredibly painful but she is now seeing improvement.

Sarra said: ‘When I was a kid, eczema didn’t affect me as much as when it came back when I was older. When I was younger, it was mostly eczema on my hands or in the arm folds, so it didn’t affect me the same way.

Sarra's skin
She decided to come off treatment (Picture: MDWfeatures / Sarra Chebil)

‘When it came back, I remember being very embarrassed, especially when I got a rash on my face. The rash was mostly around the mouth and I thought it was ugly. I was afraid that people would laugh at me, and I then began to think that I was ugly and abnormal, unlike other girls around.’

‘The older I got, the more fixated I was about how I looked. I basically lived depending on how the eczema was.

‘If there wasn’t much eczema then, of course, I did more things but as soon as I started to get more and more rashes, then I pulled back more and felt bad mentally.

‘It feels like I have missed so much of my life because I have always had so much focus on my skin. As soon as I was among people, I was stressed that people would look and say bad things about eczema.

‘I was afraid that people would not think I was beautiful because I had eczema.’

Sarra said that when she found out about topical steroid withdrawal, she was relieved but also scared as she had no idea what it meant for her health – she was worried she was addicted to steroids, and about how her body and skin would react to a withdrawal from it.

However, she added: ‘But I felt like, this is it. This will be the thing that will heal my skin.’

Sarra now
She’s now medication free (Picture: MDWfeatures / Sarra Chebil)

Sarra has since been learning how to heal her skin naturally, documenting her progress on Instagram.

She said: ‘The most difficult thing has been the pain you feel every day. In the beginning, it was mostly physical pain that also became mental pain in the end.

‘It has been difficult because I have no idea what will happen, how the skin will be or how long it will take before healing.’

‘Although my skin is not perfect yet, I can find joy in other small things around me, which I certainly could not do six months ago, so that is positive.’

Now, Sarra only uses natural oils in her skin and no moisturisers in the hopes that her skin will be able to moisturise itself.

She said that for other sufferers looking to heal their skin, it’s important to have patience and to ‘never give up, no matter how difficult it is’.

She added: ‘Think about why you started. Try to find the best way for yourself.

‘What works for me may not work for someone else, each process is individual. Above all, you should not be so hard on yourself, but love yourself and give yourself the time to heal.’

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Boy born with birth defects so rare his syndrome was named after him

Grayson was born with lots of ailments
Grayson has had the syndrome named after him (Picture: Jenny Smith /SWNS.COM)

A six-year-old was born with such a rare disease that it has been named after him.

Grayson Kole Smith was born blind, deaf, missing a third of his skull, with a hole in his heart and with severe facial, spinal and cranial deformities.

His family says doctors put him on end-of-life-care and told his parents Jenny and Kendyl to say their goodbyes, predicting that he would die in a month.

However, Grayson defied the odds and is now six – and has baffled doctors by surviving 36 life-threatening surgeries and learning to speak.

Doctors discovered he was the only person in the world to be born with his collection of ailments, and so his condition has been named after him – as Grayson’s Syndrome.

Mum-of-four, Jenny, 39, from Ranburne, Alabama, USA, said: ‘We have always been hopeful of finding another child like Grayson but we’ve never been able to find anyone like him.

Jenny with Grayson
He was born deaf and blind (Picture: Jenny Smith /SWNS.COM)

‘He is the only person ever known to have all of these birth defects.

‘There is no one else to compare him to.

‘He is a ray of light and is always smiling, no matter how much pain he might be in.

‘It has been so hard for us to deal with. We sit and pray for him every single day.

‘He is so special to us and is our little miracle. He is a blessing.

‘He is the candle that never goes out no matter how hard you blow.’

Grayson was born on 15 February 2013 following a healthy pregnancy.

His parents, who have three other children, Jaycee, 16, Alex, 12, and Slate, three, said they had no reason to suspect anything was wrong.

Grayson is six
He’s now six years old (Picture: Jenny Smith /SWNS.COM)

But Grayson was born barely breathing, with swollen eyes, a malformed head and ‘scary’ facial disfigurements, his mum said.

Fighting for his life, Grayson was transferred from the small hospital in Georgia where he was born to a bigger hospital in Alabama.

Jenny said: ‘I was shocked and devastated. I knew straight away that things were not normal.

‘Of course, I was still in love with him but we were very scared. His eyes were swollen, he was very small and he had a huge bulge on his head.

‘We have no idea of the cause or why he was born like this. Doctors have done genetic testing, DNA tests but they all came back fine.

‘He didn’t fully fit the criteria for everything he was tested for. No one knew what it was.

‘We thought he was going to die and had made plans for his funeral. It was awful.’

Doctors discovered Grayson had seven bone deformities, a huge gap in his skull, a hole in his heart, apnoea, and was unable to see or hear.

Although his eyes and ears started to work as he grew older, most of the conditions he has are degenerative and get worse as he grows up.

He has a curve in his spine, meaning his internal organs are being crushed, he can’t walk, and he has difficulty breathing.

Grayson with his family
He’s the only person in the world born with all his birth defects (Picture: Jenny Smith /SWNS.COM)

Doctors predicted he’d never ever make it past three or four years old, but now he is six.

To date he has had 36 surgeries – including 26 on his brain or skull.

The surgery to close the hole in his skull saw surgeons make him a new one using parts of his ribs.

‘We were told he wouldn’t survive the operation and we accepted that he was probably going to die,’ said Jenny.

Jenny and Kendyl said every surgery, hospital trip and hour of care provided to Grayson has been ‘worth it’ if it means they get to spend as long as possible together.

She said: ‘Grayson doesn’t let his condition stop him. He doesn’t see himself as different and we all just treat him as a normal person.

‘He’s a popular kid and has lots of friends.

‘He knows everyone is different. But he is special in his own way.

‘I cry a lot when I see him in pain and I do wish I could take the pain away from him.

‘It has been one big emotional struggle for us and we know so much can happen at any time. Grayson’s condition can change in a matter of hours.

‘The most important thing to us is Grayson is able to live a happy life.

‘Every day counts for something and every day is special for him.’

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You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I was born with half a heart but it won’t hold me back’


There are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK – and many of them have an invisible illness.

When you look at someone with a hidden condition, you would have no idea they are ill, but they suffer debilitating symptoms and can face judgement for using disabled facilities because they ‘don’t look sick’.

Our weekly series talks to different people with different conditions to discuss what it’s like.

Will Goodenough, 25, from Sheffield, has a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), which effectively means he lives with half a functioning heart.

The condition means that part of the heart did not develop properly in the womb and most babies are now diagnosed through ultrasounds before they are born but 25 years ago, when Will was born, the tests did not exist.

His parents found out about his condition the day after he was born when it became apparent that his heart was not functioning properly.

The next day, he had to have the first of his life saving operations and was given a 20% chance of survival.

Throughout his life, Will has had to live with the impact of reduced heart function and he also developed angina at the age of 20, which means he gets tight chest pains just doing light exercise.

But to people he doesn’t know, he looks healthy. He’s a dad to baby Ezra, living with his partner Emily and working as a pension administrator.

Will Goodenough from Sheffield who has HLHS
Will has HLHS (Picture: Simon Ashton for Metro.co.uk)

He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I have just had to live and cope with throughout my life. Being a parent now I can’t imagine how my parents must have felt when being told I only had half a heart.

‘I feel that my condition is somewhat overlooked sometimes due to looking well on the outside.

‘When I was at school, my parents had to fight really hard for me to get the extra help I needed, such as free periods for me to do homework in due to not having the energy when I got home.

‘Teachers knew about my condition but really didn’t fully understand the effects that it had on my energy levels.

What is hypoplastic left heart syndrome?

Often the pumping chamber (left ventricle) is small (hypoplastic) and the mitral and/or the aortic valve may be narrow, blocked or not formed at all.

The body artery (aorta) is often small (hypoplastic) and there is a hole (atrial septal defect) between the two collecting chambers.

This means the blood’s journey through the heart is very different from normal. The blue (deoxygenated) blood flows into the right collecting chamber (right atrium), through the valve (tricuspid valve) into the right pumping chamber (right ventricle).

From there it is pumped up to the lungs where the blood receives oxygen. The red oxygen-filled blood then flows from the lungs into the collecting chamber (left atrium) in the left side of the heart, but it will be unable to then pass into the left pumping chamber (left ventricle).

As the valve will be blocked, it therefore passes through the hole between the two collecting chambers into the right side, where it mixes with the blue blood and follows the normal path to the lungs.

Whilst the ductus arteriosus is still open (patent), the blood will pass from the lung artery into the body artery and then around the body.

When the duct closes, the baby will no longer have oxygen flowing to their body. Gradually, without medical intervention, the baby would become sicker and die.

Little Hearts Matter

‘I often don’t use disabled facilities for fear of being judged or having to explain myself. When I had my blue badge I would rarely use it. I would be more likely to struggle to walk up three flights of stairs to use the gents toilet than to use the disabled toilet.

‘I know I am more than entitled to use disabled facilities but I do sometimes feel that other people may need it more than me.’

Will takes three different types of medication to manage his heart condition and says that with these, he can often function normally.

Will Goodenough who has HLHS, in a pub, holding a drink
Will was diagnosed at birth (Picture: Will Goodenough)

He says: ‘If I wasn’t to take these everyday tasks would become a struggle – for example, if I didn’t have my beta blockers I would experience chest pains when in the shower and just walking up the stairs would leave me breathless.

‘On a good day I can be tempted to do more than I usually would in one day; I might do a full day at work, then go to the driving range with a friend and then come home and help my partner with looking after our little boy Ezra.’

But Will knows even maximising the good days can take its toll and doing too much can mean he has to spend the following day in bed due to the exhaustion.

He adds: ‘On a really bad day I have not been able to go to work due to the exhaustion and can find it difficult to explain this to people so that they understand that I’m ‘not just tired’.

‘Luckily I am now working for a very understanding company that are very accommodating. They have allowed me to have a set shift rather than shifts that change work times as I am more productive in the morning.’

Will Goodenough who has HLHS, with his son Ezra
Will and baby Ezra (Picture: Will Goodenough)

Now a dad to Ezra, looking after a baby can also take its toll on his energy levels after a full week at work but he is trying to strike a balance.

‘I have days, often on the weekend, where I don’t want to do anything other than just relax and sleep,’ he says.

‘However, when you have a baby, there’s not much time to do this, as I have found out since my little boy was born.

‘My partner, Emily, understands the need for me to relax and sleep and is more than happy for me to take this time, but as a new dad I am conflicted between wanting to spend time with my family but also listening to what my body needs.’

Not getting enough rest can lead to hospitalisation, which is something he finds difficult, particularly as HLHS is not always understood as it is rare – just 1 in 5,000 babies are born with it.

He says: ‘In January 2018, I spent five days in hospital due to both chest pain and the exhaustion that living with my condition brings.

Will Goodenough who has HLHS, with his partner Emily
Will and his partner Emily (Picture: Will Goodenough)

‘In the morning I felt unwell I went to the walk in centre and was told to go straight to A&E. I was kept in overnight so that I could see a consultant and also so they could contact my consultant in Birmingham to get advice on how to proceed.

‘I often find that unless I am in Birmingham, hospitals are unsure of how to deal with me due to the complexity and rarity of my HLHS.

‘Since I was 17, I have had to stay on cardiac wards in an adult hospital. This can be challenging as I tend to spend a few days there and will always be a lot younger than the other patients on the ward.’

Throughout his life, Will has been supported by his family but he also has a close connection to the charity Little Hearts Matter, who support people with HLHS.

Will Goodenough who has HLHS on a boat
Will says his condition won’t hold him back (Picture: Will Goodenough)

He says: ‘I have been really lucky that I’ve grown up with a strong family and friend network that have supported me throughout the number of challenges I have faced over the years.

‘This has included gaining support whilst I’ve been at school as well as university and throughout the periods of time I have spent in hospital. My parents have always worked hard for me to get the help I have needed.

‘Little Hearts Matter (LHM) has also been very influential for me growing up, They have supported both myself and my family. It has been really good to be part of the charity as it has allowed me to meet and become friends with other people with the same condition and discuss the problems we face.

METRO - You don't look sick...... William Goodenough - has a Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. William at home playing guitar and playstation between helping out with feds for his 4month old son Ezra Simon Ashton 07739026321 simonashtonpics@me.com
Will and Ezra (Picture: Simon Ashton for Metro.co.uk)

‘I think this is really important as due to the rarity of my condition it is unlikely that I would come across anyone with the same health problems. It can become lonely as you feel that you are the only one facing these challenges but the charity has made me realise that other people share my fears and difficulties. I have made lifelong friends through the charity.

‘Even though my condition can be frustrating at times it helps me to have a positive outlook. If I hadn’t been born with half a heart I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do lots of the things I have done due to being part go LHM, for example, I got to talk at the House of Lords etc.

‘I really try not to let it hold me back or stop me achieving what I want in life. It’s important for me to strive to live as much of a normal life as possible; I am living independently, holding down a full time job and now have my own family.’

How to get involved with You Don't Look Sick

You Don’t Look Sick is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that discusses invisible illness and disabilities.

If you have an invisible illness or disability and fancy taking part, please email youdontlooksick@metro.co.uk.

You’ll need to be happy to share pictures that show how your condition affects you, and have some time to have some pictures taken.

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How to be a disability ally

Disability rights advocate Liz Johnson laughing in the street
In my life, the best examples of disability allies have been my close friends and family, who respect me and support me (Picture: Amy Mace)

Recently a tweet about London public transport went viral but this time not for train delays or crowded stations.

Dr Amy Kavanagh was praising King’s Cross staff for the help she received as a visually impaired person when her packed train stopped unexpectedly at the station. Amy’s story captured Twitter’s attention with over 14,000 likes and 1,000 retweets, as others applauded the staff’s actions.

However, though Amy’s story was positive, the fact this tweet went viral shows how rare such examples can be. Society still struggles massively with disability acceptance and there’s fear and silence around discussing disability.

People are gradually learning how to be allies for other marginalised groups, but not for the 13.9 million people with disabilities in the UK.

I have cerebral palsy and was born with hemiplegia, meaning the left side of my brain is damaged and the right side of my body is smaller and weaker than my left.

In my life, the best examples of disability allies have been my close friends and family, who respect me and support me to be as independent as possible, without making assumptions for me or making me feel like a burden.

They provide assistance when I need it without fuss or attention, like giving me an arm to lean on when moving around places, or being the ones to carry awkward objects so I can keep my hands free.

In restaurants they know I prefer them to claim my meal as their own and cut it before passing to me – this works best for me, though every disabled person is different.

It never feels like a one-way relationship and we’ll essentially exchange skills. For example, they’ll do chores like changing beds for me, in exchange for food! Non-disabled people each have different skills and abilities and they’re not judged for that: it should be the same with disability.

So, what is the best way to be a disability ally?

Disability rights campaigner Liz Johnson poses against a wall smiling
We need to be changing society and the environment to be more inclusive, not putting the onus on individuals (Picture: Amy Mace)

The first step is to treat disabled people as you would non-disabled people. If you think someone needs help you should ask before acting – a disabled person will know their physicality far better than you.

If offering help, it’s useful to first consider two questions: one, if they want assistance, and if yes, what they need you to do. I’ve heard countless stories from friends about people taking it upon themselves to start pushing their wheelchair. Well-intentioned perhaps, but how would you like it if a stranger picked you up and carried you along the street without asking?

Disabled people are more often than not perfectly capable of going about their day unaided but if you think someone might need assistance, start by politely asking.

If they say no thanks, respect that too. Assuming disabled person need help reinforces harmful stereotypes and prejudice about disabled people’s capabilities.

Disabled people are often represented in the media as sources of pity and less productive and capable than non-disabled people. Yet this couldn’t be further from the case – our ability to be a part of society isn’t removed by our disability.

It’s also important to remember that not all people with the same condition will look and act the same. Many disabilities are invisible. If someone asks for a seat don’t challenge them to prove why they need it – it’s enough that they asked.

Choice of language is also a crucial part of being a disability ally as assumptions are reinforced in the everyday language we use.

Saying someone ‘suffers with disability’ or is ‘confined to a wheelchair’ implies that disability is a burden that prevents them from living a whole and fulfilling life. A disability is a part of someone’s identity but it’s not a bad thing and it doesn’t define them, and negative language can paint disabled people as victims.

Individual changes can make a colossal difference but society can’t be truly inclusive until we dismantle the many barriers facing disabled people.

Look around you and think of the things that need to change to ensure disabled people aren’t literally and figuratively shut out. Is your company or business doing all it can to be accessible and respectful of disabled people?

What practices are in place and how they can be pushed further? Do job adverts encourage disabled applicants to apply, is flexible working offered and how diverse is the management team? These are all practical, positive ways any organisation can push for disability equality.

The important thing is to never stop learning. There are also lots of resources that offer more information about being a disability ally. Take a look at actress and campaigner Samantha Renke’s columns on Metro.co.uk, as well as writer Frances Ryan and websites like BBC Ouch and disability equality charity Scope. All give great insights into the barriers disabled people face and how we can tackle them.

Ultimately, when it comes to inclusion in any area, we need to be changing society and the environment to be more inclusive, not putting the onus on individuals themselves to change.

MORE: My Label and Me: Being deaf is a gift, especially when the baby is crying at 4am

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How to motivate yourself to workout when you really don’t want to

Gym bike illustration
Go with a friend – you’re less likely to cancel (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Working out consistently can be really hard.

You may have bursts of enthusiasm – at the start of the year or before a big holiday, but inevitably life will get in the way and throw you off course.

So what’s the secret to year-round, dependable fitness motivation. How do you shift your mindset so you can spring out of bed as soon as you hear your alarm?

It isn’t easy – but it can be done. We spoke to the experts to find out how to effectively hack your motivation levels.

If you struggle to feel motivated then the first thing to address is your schedule.

Often, if you leave your workout until the end of the day you have plenty of time to think up excuses, make other plans and essentially wiggle your way out of getting sweaty.

Fitness expert Scott Baptie says working out before your brain even realises what’s going on can be a great way to make sure you actually get it done. He has a slightly odd analogy to help explain why.

‘“Eat That Frog” and workout first thing,’ Scott tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Motivational speaker Brian Tracey says that if the worst thing you must do in a day is to eat a frog, do it first and get it over and done with.

‘If exercise is your ‘frog’, get it done and dusted as soon as you can.

Running woman illustration
Find what works for you – if you can’t get up early, then go later in the day (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘Do something you actually like. If you hate running, don’t run. If you don’t like sweaty gyms, don’t go.

‘There are loads of activities that get you moving and burn calories. You just need to find one that you don’t dread doing.’

Enjoyment is key. As is doing your fitness for the right reasons.

Rather than seeing exercise as ‘punishment’ or something that you have to do, make it something that you enjoy doing. Find the joy in feeling strong and healthy – when you shift your focus you may find yourself actually wanting to get to the gym or to a fitness class.

‘Set the barrier to entry low,’ suggests Scott.

‘Commit to just going to the gym to do a warm-up. That’s it. Chances are, once you get there you will do your warm-up and then you’ll be keen to keep going.’

Practical motivation tips

1. Book into a class

Booking a class can be a great idea when you are lacking motivation – having an instructor there to guide and motivate you can be that extra incentive you may need to help you complete your workout for that day.

There is an abundance of fitness classes available for all interests and levels of fitness – and so many opportunities to try something new.

2. Work out with a friend

Working out with a friend provides extra accountability – you may find you are less likely to cancel on your friends, it also provides an extra social opportunity.

3. Work out before work

It’s a great feeling when you have finished your workout before the day has even begun.

Getting your movement in before work has anecdotally shown to boost production levels for the day – and should your day go off track, your workout is already done.

4. Schedule movement into your diary

Scheduling your exercise in your diary like an appointment ensures your workout time is protected – working out on regular days/times can also help establish a routine.

5. Hire a PT

Hiring a PT offers the best accountability there is – as well as a personalised programme, they also provide buckets of motivation and hopefully a lot of fun along the way.

Hannah Lewin, personal trainer

If you’re really not an early bird, don’t worry – Scott isn’t 100% set on morning workouts.

He thinks it’s really important to find what works for you – because you’re so much more likely to stick to it.

‘Exercise when it’s best for you,’ he says.

‘Doing exercise on an empty stomach isn’t any more “fat-burning” compared to training later in the day.

‘If you dread climbing out of bed and going to the gym because you think it’s better for you, the good news is that it’s not. Just go at a time that works best for you.

‘Create an incentive scheme. Let’s say your goal is to go to the gym three times per week. If you do that for an entire month treat yourself to a reward like some new trainers, a snazzy shirt or a tasty meal out.’

We definitely like the sound of buying ourselves presents every month. Sticker charts worked when we were kids – this is just the grown up version.

It’s one thing trying to motivate yourself to complete a casual workout or a jog around the block – but what if you’re an elite athlete?

Ex-England rugby player James Brown knows exactly what it takes to summon up super-human motivation day-in-day-out as a full-time athlete.

Now, James is Head of Nutrigenomics at Muhdo Health and knows how to inspire his clients.

‘There will be a whole variety of factors that will help to motivate you to exercise,’ James tells Metro.co.uk.

‘The first will have to be getting the correct information that’s personalised and actually going to work for you.

‘Understanding how you respond to different types of exercise, and crucially the correct type for you, can provide you with a tremendous amount of reassurance that it will have the desired effect and actually work.

‘The next point to remember is that you must set yourself a goal, even if it’s something small like drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning.

‘Small, achievable goals will be far easier to maintain each day, than a larger goal that can seem out of reach and unattainable, which will help to keep you motivated.

‘This next step might seem extremely obvious, but listening to your favourite type of music will get all your brain synapses firing and get your adrenaline pumping at the same time.

‘It’s a physiological fact.

‘And finally, do some exercise that you will enjoy, and you actually look forward to doing, as there is absolutely no point doing something that you hate and then continually having to motivate yourself to do it.’

No matter what your fitness goal is – whether you’re looking to lose weight, get stronger, lower your stress levels or you’re training for a specific event – consistency really is the key to helping you see results.

Make a plan, talk about it with supportive, encouraging friends and be kind to your body.

Remember that not working out is OK too – rest and recovery are also really important elements of any fitness regime.

I am Team GB

Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.

Inspired by the achievements of Team GB athletes and the amazing efforts of local community heroes, Team GB has created ‘The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’, which will take place on the 24thAugust.

Over the weekend, there will be hundreds of free and fun activities across the country, put on by an army of volunteers; the ‘I am Team GB Games Makers’.

To Join the Team and be part of The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day sign up at: www.IAmTeamGB.com

Wedding photographer slams guests who get in the way by taking pictures with their phones

The picture of the bride and her dad with the guest using an iphone and the picture showing the image the iphone got (Picture: Hannah Way Photography)
The pictures Hannah posted (Picture: Hannah Way Photography )

With your friend walking down the aisle, you might want to get a nice snap of her on your phone.

But most people hire a photographer for their big day, and it will probably be the professional pictures they look back on.

A wedding photographer has pointed out that by taking your own pictures, you could actually spoil the professional ones they’ve asked for.

Hannah Way, from Forth Worth, Texas, U.S., shared a post on Facebook with two pictures.

One showed the shot she had lined up of a bride and her dad walking down the aisle. But as she went to take the picture, a guest stuck their arm into the shot to take a picture with their phone camera.

The second picture, shows the image the guest got on their screen.

Hannah said: ‘To the girl with the iPhone…

‘Not only did you ruin my shot, but you took this moment away from the groom, father of the bride, and the bride. What exactly do you plan on doing with that photo? Honestly. Are you going to print it out? Save it? Look at it everyday? No. You’re not.

‘But my bride would have printed this photo, looked at it often and reminisced over this moment as her dad walked her down the aisle on her wedding day. But instead, you wanted to take a photo with your phone, blocking my view, and taking a photo that you will not use.

‘Guests, please stop viewing weddings you attend through a screen but instead turn OFF your phone, and enjoy the ceremony. You are important to the bride and groom, you would not be attending the wedding otherwise. So please, let me do my job, and you just sit back, relax and enjoy this once in a lifetime moment.

‘Sincerely, Wedding photographers.’

The post quickly went viral with over 145,000 shares and lots of people agreed.

One said: ‘Thank you for writing this! I completely agree with an unplugged wedding – I’m getting married in 2 months and I would be so sad if all my wedding photos included people on their iphones.’

‘Sorry, but your iPhone will not get a shot nearly as wonderful as this photographers. No phones at my wedding. AT ALL. Proud of this photographer for standing up for the business, as well as the bride and groom!’ another added.

Hannah was shocked by the response to the picture but stressed that she wanted to make sure guests understood her point.

She said: ‘My main point and reason for posting was I want people to enjoy the moment, this is a special time for the bride and groom. Guests should put down their phone, and enjoy the ceremony as I will capture professional shots.’

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Two-page wedding invitation tells guests to eat beforehand as only cookies will be served

Two-page wedding invitation
Two-page wedding invite saying ‘please eat something before arriving’ (Picture: That’s It I\’m Wedding Shaming)

Wedding invitations may be pretty, handmade, delicate things or they can come in the form of Whatsapp messages.

Either way, guests only use it to get the basic details – time, date, address, and dress code. But guests attending one wedding had to waft through pages of an invitation before getting to all the information.

That’s because a bride wrote a two-page letter stipulating the rules and a lot of unnecessary backstories.

She asked that no one wear ‘champagne colour or any pink’ but white was okay.

And for some reason, her memo listed that no food will be served at the wedding except four types of cookies.

Let’s hope guests don’t arrive on an empty stomach then.

Page one of the memo
Page one of the memo (Picture: That’s It I’m Wedding Shaming)

The bride-to-be requested that guests ‘please eat something before arriving’ because the small reception will not have ‘a lot of food’.

The memo even mentioned the types of cookies on offer and told guests to dunk them.

‘The reception will serve four types of cookies: ginger snap, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and peanut butter’ it said.

But it’s not all bad as vegan milk alternatives were available ‘for dunking’.

She added though, that the almond milk ‘will be unsweetened vanilla since cookies are sweet enough’.

It seems that the wedding dinner pretty much consisted of cake.

The invite said: ‘We will have both cupcakes and regular cake for the wedding cake. The main intention was easy portion for children but all are welcome.’

Page two of long wedding invite
Page two (Picture: That’s It I’m Wedding Shaming)

The long document was shared on Facebook shaming group where followers were baffled.

In it, she told guests that they must RSVP to the wedding or risk not being allowed into the ceremony nor reception.

‘If you do not respond to the RSVP email found on the back of the invite we will not have a chair for you at the ceremony and you can not stay for the reception.

‘My MC will ask you to leave so please RSVP by March 10. Still RSVP even if you have told me in person yes or no, I will only stand by what I receive in email. No surprise show ups are welcome’.

But anyone who wanted to make it but couldn’t can still watch the whole thing on Facebook live, she added.

And before ending the short story, the bride said her dress will be ‘blush pink with rose gold detailing’, warning that guests should not wear a ‘champagne colour or pink of any kind’ to the ceremony.

Followers of the Facebook page That’s It I’m Wedding Shaming were confused.

One of them wrote: ‘I am so confused. What is happening and when? It seems like this could have been accomplished more clearly in about six bullet points instead of this stream of consciousness mess’.

Others who read it joked that they should be invited just for taking the time to read the whole thing.

Some very understanding people sympathised with her though: ‘Ahh bless her. I can tell she’s a worrier. It’s kind of sweet’.

Sweet, unlike the almond milk at the wedding.

MORE: Bride rants about not wanting fiancé’s ‘crotch goblin’ three-year-old daughter at adult-only wedding

MORE: Bride ‘more stunned than furious’ at mother-in-law who turned up in a white wedding dress

MORE: Bride who called off her wedding gives a stranger everything she had booked for the big day

Oxford Dictionary needs to update its sexist definition of ‘woman’

A shelf full of different versions of the Oxford English Dictionaries
We hope the Oxford English Dictionary is ready to live in the present (Picture: Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images)

One of the world’s oldest and most respected universities, Oxford, says it believes in the ‘transformative power’ of education to ‘inspire progress and realise human potential’.

Grand idea. So how come, the world-renowned dictionary that takes its name, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), pushes misogynistic and crass definitions of women?

That’s the question raised by Maria Beatrice Giovanardi a few months back in the feminist group I am a member of, Fawcett East London.

Searching on Google for ‘woman synonyms’; ‘besom’, ‘piece’, ‘bit’, ‘mare’, ‘baggage’, ‘wench’, ‘petticoat’, ‘frail’, ‘bird’, ‘bint’, ‘biddy’, ‘filly’, ‘bitch’ are some of the synonyms that came up as results.

We were outraged and couldn’t find a valid justification to this debauchery of sexism so we decided to support Giovanardi in changing this.

‘Woman’ should not be associated with ‘bitch’ or any of the above words, and certainly not sanctioned by the institution whose dictionary is the ‘accepted authority on the English language’ –in its own words. This is the dictionary that’s widely used in schools, libraries, universities and homes.

That is why we launched a petition on Change.org to take sexism out of the dictionary.

As a French woman who moved to England mostly because of my love for the English language, I feel let down and disrespected by Oxford University Press.

Being aware of the influence of the English language, often coined as the universal language, in dictating and communicating politics, economic and societal changes, I worry about the repercussions of such sexist definitions.

From classrooms, to search engines (the same definition appears on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, seemingly via content licensing), its influence is everywhere. There are countless occasions where those sexist definitions and synonyms will be seen, digested and incorporated into everyday speech.

Change petition calling Oxford Dictionary to change its 'sexist' definition of ‘Woman’
Why do derogatory definitions of over 50 per cent of the world’s population remain in the dictionary? This is sexism (Picture: Google search)

Being constantly reminded of the negative association between woman and wench, woman and bitch, or woman and filly, legitimises the notion that women are inferior to men and do not deserve to be treated respectfully and equally.

There is an argument that the dictionary reflects the use of words and their meanings throughout history, but the context of these words is not clear from a quick online search when the vile synonyms crop up next to ‘woman’?

Historically racist terms and descriptions of minorities often don’t appear as synonyms in the dictionary. We realise they are offensive and best left to a former time. So why do derogatory definitions of over 50 per cent of the world’s population remain in the dictionary? This is sexism.

Let’s also remember who has used sexist slurs against women throughout history – men. This makes the dictionary definition of ‘woman’ a record of ‘what men have said and written over the years,’ as linguist professor Deborah Cameron has pointed out.

We hope the Oxford English Dictionary, which calls itself the ‘unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words’ is ready to live in the present.

The dictionary is continually updated and now boasts modern terms ‘hasbian’, ‘hangry’ and  ‘snowflake’ – but is yet to take any notice of the sexism in its pages.

Today we ask Oxford to play its part in stamping out prejudice by amending the definition of ‘woman’. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.

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MORE: Just like sexism and racism, classism should be illegal

MORE: Muslim women’s modesty only benefits them in society when it aligns with patriarchal and sexist views

Parents, you can buy a £6.99 ‘pee cup’ so your kids can go anywhere without mess

The Onedone portable child potty urinal is available on Amazon
Perfect for emergencies (Picture: Amazon)

Long journeys with kids are never easy – the constant ‘are we there yet?’ and of course, that moment where you’re miles away from a service station and someone needs the bathroom.

Well, now there is a solution – the pee cup.

Yes, someone has made a sealable cup with a funnel for your kid to pee into if they get caught short.

The ’emergency toilet’ holds up to 500ml of liquid and it comes in a style for boys and girls.

It includes a clip so you can attach it to your bag of buggy when you are out and about.

Once you get to a toilet, you can empty out the contents, clean the product and it’s ready to use again.

Parents loved the idea as they said it is great for emergencies.

From Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Portable-Reusable-Training-Emergency-Camping/dp/B07LFGRWWT/ref=pd_sbs_75_1/258-1918190-9742913?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B07LFGRWWT&pd_rd_r=61f8a1ee-a61c-11e9-830f-f58073330f5c&pd_rd_w=wfkaM&pd_rd_wg=2GkY6&pf_rd_p=18edf98b-139a-41ee-bb40-d725dd59d1d3&pf_rd_r=47Q4TF5Y213NVHVWYZ6S&psc=1&refRID=47Q4TF5Y213NVHVWYZ6S
It comes with a funnel and a sealable cup (Picture: Amazon)

One mum said: ‘This is an excellent idea to keep in the car! My 3 and 5 year olds are sometimes desperate to go and there are no toilets around and rather than making them wait they can use this. It’s very easy to use and the lid locks tight.

‘We’ve had no leaks at all because the top is spill proof. It’s easy to take apart and wash too. A must if you are traveling in the car with kids. Easy to just quickly stop and let them use this than hunting around for public toilets.’

Another said that’s she’s even used it herself if she needs to.

‘I find it most useful on my town centre trips as the only washrooms available are at one end of the high street.

‘I park the buggy in some discreet corner or the nearest fitting room and do the needful. Not ideal but better than running like mad to the other end of the high street.’

The Onedone portable child potty urinal is available on Amazon.

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New device could stop cats from bringing pet owners dead animals as ‘gifts’

Picture of a cat flat that's blocked out a cat entering with a dead mouse in its mouth
The flap initiates a 15-minute timeout (Picture: Ben Hamm/Ignite Seattle)

If you’re a cat owner then you know the dread of seeing your beloved pet walk towards you with a dead conquest in its mouth.

It’s never fun to get rid of a limp mouse or bird so to stop that, a scientist has come up with some pretty savvy technology.

Ben Hamm – a senior product manager at Amazon – attached a computer to his cat Metric’s flap to detect when he arrived with a dead or injured animal.

And once the flap realises that the feline has turned up with prey in its mouth, it automatically initiates a 15-minute timeout and sends the owner a text.

That’s enough time for the cat to drop the stuff or at least warn you that a dead thing is headed your way.

A useful trick, no matter how much your cat insists on bringing you the stuff to teach you to hunt.

Ben Hamm's device showing different types of cat images his computer picked up
Ben’s computer took 23,000 images of Metric coming and going. Of those, 260 showed the cat arriving with something (Picture: Ben Hamm/Ignite Seattle)

Ben’s technology not only alerts him to the creatures hunted by Metric, it also sends a donation to bird charity National Audubon Society.

Or as Ben calls it, ‘blood money’ for every bird killed by his pet.

To enable the device, Ben’s computer took 23,000 images of Metric coming and going. Of those, 260 showed the cat arriving with something.

Ben then spent several months marking up all the shots of Metric bringing the stuff in until the computer system learned how to detect it by itself.

During a five-week trial, Metric came home with seven birds or rodents and was locked out on six occasions.

Ben’s device isn’t available on the market unfortunately but all cat owners would certainly be happier to get a heads up.

Especially if they’re creeped out by rodents and such.

But we know our feline friends do it with love of course.

In fact, spayed female cats are the most likely to bring gory gifts to their owners, according to Live Science.

In the wild, cat mothers teach their young how to eat their food by bringing home dead or injured prey.

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These sausage dogs have been trained to pick up litter on their walks

Amber with one of the dogs, putting rubbish in the bin, and Dudley and Hooch the sausage dogs picking up litter
Amber with Hooch and Dudley (Picture: Richard Frew/Caters News)

Like many dogs, Hooch and Dudley the sausage dogs loved to pull all the recycling out of the bin when someone wasn’t looking.

But their owner Amber Lednor, 38, decided to use it to her advantage and now they pick on litter on their walks.

The black and tan mini dachshunds, from Moray, Scotland, keep their noses to the ground, carrying their favourite plastic bottles, which Amber fills with various rubbish found during their daily exercise.

The playful pair like to make their litter picking a game, with owner Amber picking up as much as she can as the dogs find more to retrieve when venturing into the bushes.

Amber, a stay at mum, said: ‘It all began when they found a beer bottle on one of their walks earlier this year.

‘Hooch and Dudley are a naughty, cheeky duo – they used to steal plastic bottles and paper out of the recycling box and then chase each other with them, trying to steal them off each other.

‘So when they found a bottle on walks that they love, to the park, woods or beach, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to clean up those areas too.

‘The two are always on extendable leads, nose to the ground, ferreting out the rubbish.

Dudley and Hooch picking up litter
Dudley and Hooch picking up litter (Picture: Richard Frew/Caters News)

‘So I began picking it up, and putting in the plastic bottles, which the two of them will carry in their mouths quite happily until I find a bin.

‘I thought I might as well make use of their skills.’

They’ve even started doing a beach cleaniup once a month with the dogs.

Amber added: ‘My two boys are my babies, and I walk them every day with my daughter Alexis.

‘We hated seeing rubbish all the time, and both Hooch and Dudley love playing with plastic bottles.

‘They’re hilarious because back home, they’ll get them out of the recycling bin now as they’ll think they’re helping.

‘The wildlife is so important, and plastic and litter can cause them to suffer.

‘If we can help, we will.’

MORE: New device could stop cats from bringing pet owners dead animals as ‘gifts’

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Huggies uses black father and daughter in its packaging for the first time

Huggies diapers uses black father and daughter for the first tim
(Picture: Joe Flowers Jnr/Facebook)

Nappy bran brand Huggies has released a new line of diapers that features a black family in its packaging.

The move is said to be the ‘first in history’ as the company has exclusively shown white babies and parents in its advertising in the past.

In a Facebook post, dad Joe Flowers Jr from Chicago, Illinois, U.S, applauded the brand for its new diversity.

He wrote: ‘Huggies went and put a black father on the package of their diapers. This is a first in history, look how far we’ve come. I’m about to buy these for no reason whatsoever.’

The dad and daughter displayed on the box come as part of the new line of eco-friendly nappies.

Sustainable and diverse, we stan.

baby having his nappy changed
(Picture: Getty)


Huggies Special Delivery diapers are made from plant-based materials derived from sugarcane.

The baby-side liner and the diaper waistband are made from the stuff and it also boasts no parabens, fragrance and elemental chlorine.

Perfect for parents who are looking for more natural disposable options for their kids.

The new packaging won a tonne of praise on social media where many other users shared the news.

Joe’s post received more than 80,000 shares with over 5,000 comments commending the imagery.

‘Outstanding! Finally shining a great light on black fathers! Good job. I’ll buy some and give them away!’ exclaimed one person.

Another said: ‘Imagery is huge! And there’s not enough of this subject/context in our media/advertising.’

Others said it was also refreshing to see a dad on the packaging as baby advertising often uses women, focusing on the stereotypical idea that looking after children is just for women.


Some, however, did have some complaints that Huggies isn’t a black-owned business and could be cashing in on a diversity gimmick.

Others felt uncomfortable that the new line was rebranded in black packaging. They felt that it could’ve maintained its original colours and still added the black family.

For the most part, people were pleased.

One mum said: ‘My babies are all out of diapers as they’re big kids now but I’m going to buy this box just because it’s beautiful!’

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