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What heartbreak taught me about love


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.

Before I had my heart broken, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what love looked like.

It was that ‘perfect pairing’, the equivalent of you in another person, someone you agreed with and shared everything with. The same friends, the same hobbies and interests – the same life.

Now I know that’s not the case.

We met at university where were both studying English. We quickly formed a tight-knit friendship group with other people on our course. We both loved travelling, Indian food, sci-fi books, good coffee, bad horror films, long walks and scuba diving. We said the same things at the same time.

We were inseparable, and it wasn’t long until we were in a relationship then moved in together after university.

For six years I loved him fiercely and unconditionally with everything I had until he came home from the pub one cold night in January last year and told me he didn’t love me anymore.

I don’t need to tell you the emotional and physical agony of heartbreak. The blindsiding loneliness, the anger, the grief so obliterating you can’t see a way out. Nausea, panic attacks, weight loss, insomnia. It happens to someone in the world every day.

Ali Pantony sitting in a park
The most tormenting part of my break-up was searching for a valid reason (Picture: Ali Pantony)

When you’re going through a break-up, advice comes at you from all angles – friends, family, colleagues, the guy who saw you crying on the tube and said: ‘Plenty more fish in the sea, love’. They mean well but often it’s just as unhelpful as it is cliched.

The most tormenting part of my break-up was searching for a valid reason. ‘I don’t love you anymore’ just didn’t make sense.

It wasn’t a good enough reason to suddenly throw away six years. ‘There must be something else going on,’ offered a colleague. ‘He’s just having a quarter-life crisis,’ advised a friend.

But love can simply slip through the cracks. Your pain doesn’t require a dramatic reason. You’re not owed a blockbuster break-up.

People can just check out emotionally over time, and as unjust as it feels, that’s sometimes the only explanation.

In hindsight, maybe there were signs – maybe my contentment and comfort was his disinterest and gradual detachment. Maybe somewhere along the line, we both stopped trying, and instead of checking in to try and fix it, he just checked out.

But I loved him so much that I’d been too blind to see when his love was dying.

It was only when I accepted that the answers I wanted didn’t exist that I allowed myself to start healing.

A black and white photo of Ali Pantony
I realised that he didn’t take all of me when he left (Picture: Ali Pantony)

Trying to oust him from my life didn’t work. The advice is always the same: Delete his number, Unfollow him on Instagram, Cull your camera roll.

But unless you suffer a case of blissful selective amnesia, you won’t be able to forget those memories that heartbreak makes you pine for.

When you’ve spent so long with someone, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost who you are when they leave. But we were someone before they came into our lives, and we will be someone after they’ve gone.

What helped me was replacing those memories, not erasing them.

I remembered all the things I loved before the relationship – drunken nights out with my best friends in our hometown, coming home after a long day and sticking EastEnders on TV (don’t @ me) and weekends hanging out at my parents’ house just me.

And soon I realised that he didn’t take all of me when he left. I’d been here all along – different, yes but still me.

And perhaps that’s the most important thing I’ve learned: heartbreak fundamentally changes you and everything you thought you knew about love, and that’s okay.

I’m still me but I’m a better me. I’m stronger, wiser and more independent. I’m as tough as they come. I’m more confident from overcoming the battered self-esteem left in the wake of all break-ups.

My friends were my lifeline during the worst of it – they held my hands as he packed up his stuff, they poured me wine and took me out when I was agonising over what he was doing. They took me in their arms when I found out he’d started seeing someone else.

Ali Pantony poses outside in a park
A happy relationship doesn’t necessarily mean having the world in common (Picture: Ali Pantony)

They showed me the meaning of true love when I was at my lowest, and I’m a better friend because I’ve realised that they are my constants.

I’ve learned to love smarter, not love less, and not to give so much of myself away because I know that I am the only person who deserves all of me.

I’ve learned that a happy relationship doesn’t necessarily mean having the world in common. I’ve now met a man who is Christian to my atheist.

I’m a Gooner, he supports Man United. He’s Team Michael (or used to be, at least!) while I was firmly Team Amber.

He likes superhero films, the only thing I liked about the Batman franchise was Michael Caine. We have never once said the same thing at the same time.

But it’s the very fact that we don’t fit together perfectly that makes us understand each other better.

We have interesting discussions, and if we disagree or argue, we talk it out so that there are no discrepancies between what we each count as reality.

He listens to me, and I listen to him. There is laughter, excitement, compassion – and he lets me watch EastEnders. After all that I’ve been through, that fits me just fine.

I used to think the measure of a relationship was its longevity – the successful ones lasted forever, the failed ones ended. Now I know that just because a relationship ends, it doesn’t mean that it has failed.

My ex brought incredible things to my life, and ultimately, our relationship taught me everything I know about love and myself. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Ali’s debut novel, Almost Adults, is available on ebook now and paperback 8th August.

Last week in Love, Or Something Like It: Dating as a recovering alcoholic presents a whole new set of challenges

Write for Love, Or Something Like It

Love, Or Something Like It is a brand new series for Metro.co.uk, published every Saturday. If you have a love story to share, email rosy.edwards@metro.co.uk

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Strong Women: ‘I was paralysed and pregnant – powerlifting gave me confidence to live again’


Strong Women is a weekly series championing diversity in the world of sport, fitness and health.

Each week we speak to women who are redefining what it means to be strong and challenging preconceptions about women in fitness.

A Sport England study found that one of the biggest reasons that women avoid physical activity is because of a fear of judgement.

We want to change this and remind people that women of any age, race, size and ability can be fit, strong and love their bodies.

Mercy lives in Kenya. Her life changed forever at 27 when she developed a blood clot in her back. Even after surgery, she was left unable to walk.

After receiving a wheelchair through Motivation and some training, she felt more independent. She began powerlifting and is now part of the national Paralympic team.

Mercy sitting in her wheelchair in the gym
‘I felt that my dreams had vanished.’ (Picture: Matt Grayson)

What happened when you lost the feeling in your lower body?

Seven years ago, I had a blood clot in my lower back. I had surgery and it was removed, but I had lost sensation when I got blood clot. After the operation I still had no sensation.

My feeling was shock – many things changed. I became dependent on others to help me, yet I used to do it on my own. There was self-denial – I could not accept it. I felt that my dreams had vanished.

How did it feel to be suddenly in a wheelchair at just 27?

I used to stay at home and I had no confidence. My life was a mess. My family did not know what to do; I could not get out of bed, I became more reserved and quiet.

I was discharged from hospital and for six months I had no wheelchair. I couldn’t to accept I needed a wheelchair and I needed lots of assistance.

I did not know what other people were thinking. Some of my friends were supportive, but others I did not see anymore. My family gave me a lot of support, especially my mum.

At the time I had a boyfriend and I was pregnant. He stood with me for some time, but I did not want to be a burden. There came a time when it was not working. I had a lot of confusion, but he could have tried harder.

The wheelchair I was given did not last for six months. It had no cushion, it was uncomfortable, I had a pressure sore in my hip and I used to struggle with my bowel movements.

I was trained to use a catheter, but it was so embarrassing to wet myself.

I had no skills to use the wheelchair because I was given no training or assessment, I was just given the wheelchair. When I was fitted with my Motivation wheelchair, I saw it was very important to get a correctly fitting one.

Mercy lifting weights in the gym
‘Powerlifting has opened doors: my society appreciates what I do.’ (Picture: Matt Grayson)

What made you turn to powerlifting?

Someone I know contacted Motivation – a disability and development NGO – for me in 2014. They supplied me with a wheelchair. It was a strong wheelchair. I began their peer training programme and I learnt a lot.

Before, I did not want to talk. I learnt how to communicate about my needs. I came there with an assistant who would push me and transfer me from the wheelchair. After peer training I started becoming more independent and doing things for myself.

Before the training I thought “I cannot” about tasks. Now, after the training, I think “I can.” Now I do everything for myself.

Peer training gave me the confidence to start powerlifting. It gave me self-esteem and confidence. I could not think I could do powerlifting, but I proved that I could.

I started powerlifting to lose weight because I was in a wheelchair. I had started to gain weight and I did not want to get bigger.

I had a desire and passion for sports – powerlifting was doable for disabled people, as you only use your upper part of the body, no standing. I saw that sports would help me achieve my dreams.

How has powerlifting helped you? 

It has improved my health, now I am physically fit and strong. I can challenge even non-disabled people.

Now, I am aware of my rights and I am confident. The gym is on the second floor and they have to lift me up the stairs. But I am pushing for change to install a lift or ramp for wheelchairs.

Powerlifting has opened doors: my society appreciates what I do. I was even nominated to represent disabled people in the board of management at one of the local schools.

Making it on to the National Paralympic team was my dream in sport being fulfilled.

Mercy in her wheelchair at an outdoor venue in Kenya
(Picture: Matt Grayson)

How could things in Kenya be improved for people with disabilities?

Disabled people live a very challenging lives here in Kenya, for example; the environment is not accessible, even roads, and many residential houses have no ramps or lift.

There are only stairs, which makes it impossible for disabled people, especially wheelchair users, to get a house to stay in. We have no support from the government. My parents helped me to improve wheelchair access in my own home.

Before my accident, I had three boutique shops in Nairobi and was making good money. I lost the business because the hospital was expensive and it was difficult to collect stock when I was disabled because I had to use public transport. After my accident I made yoghurt to sell.

If we expand peer training like the Motivation programme, we can help more people and change more lives.

I made a proposal to the government to provide funding to conduct peer training for persons with spinal injuries. I am much more confident to push for this and get more help for people with spinal injuries after my training.

What are your hopes for the future?

I want to excel in sports and powerlifting.

I also want to extend support to other people with spinal injuries, because I have the training and support I would like to help them. I can relate to these people.

I have experienced what they are going through. I can provide the knowledge of what it is like to live a full life with spinal injury.

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

MORE: Strong Women: ‘My heart attack could have finished me – but now I’m back bodybuilding at 62’

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Could clear plastic shorts be the next big menswear trend?

Clear shorts by MaverickSwim
Yes, you should wear underwear with these clear plastic shorts (Picture: MaverickSwim)

Looking for a way to upgrade your summer wardrobe?

The answer might not be neon brights or a RompHim, but going transparent.

The clear plastic trend has been going strong in womenswear for, well, quite some time. Women have been convinced to buy see-through trousers, cling-film-esque dresses, and plastic shoes guaranteed to become evil sweat saunas.

Now, finally, the plastic trend might be heading into menswear.

People of the internet are greatly enjoying a product called the Berlin Transparent Waterproof Beach Short, made by beachwear brand MaverickSwim.

maverickswim clear plastic shorts
If you’re shy about your upper thighs, this may not be the look for you (Picture: MaverickSwim)

Now, before we get into these shorts (or just peer right through them), it’s important to note that transparent shorts aren’t an entirely new thing – they’ve been worn in the fetish scene for yonks.

But these particular shorts could be the tipping point that pushes plastic bottoms into the mainstream.

For just $26.99 (£23), men can don totally clear shorts that provide the perfect window to their, um, underpants. Because no, we would not recommend going commando in these.

The shorts have a snazzy neon green trim which invites easy matching with a brighter thong underneath, and a nice drawstring opening for comfort.

maverick swim clear plastic shorts with neon trim
But why hide? (Picture: MaverickSwim)

MaverickSwim recommends the shorts for the beach, but truly, why stop there?

Wear clear shorts for festivals, shopping trips, even the office if your workplace has a very lax dress code.

It’s hot girl summer, and thus it is time to wear clothing that will create sweat-based condensation. The women have done it, now it is the men’s turn.

If you can’t be bothered splashing out on international delivery (these particular shorts are available only on US sites, including Amazon), there are plenty of clear short options to choose from on Ebay.

You can also DIY the trend by wrapping your legs in clingfilm or perhaps getting creative with some sandwich bags. Enjoy.

MORE: Strong Women: ‘I was paralysed and pregnant – powerlifting gave me confidence to live again’

MORE: What heartbreak taught me about love

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Why no one’s talking about the worrying side effects of period delay tablets

Illustration of a woman showing the outline of her reproductive organs
Norethisterone can cause breast tenderness, nausea, headaches, low libido and, crucially, ‘disturbances in mood’. (Picture: Ella Byworth)

Getting your period can be annoying – a pain in more ways than one.

I’ll never forget being 13 or 14 and sitting in a history lesson at school knowing that I was bleeding. I asked to go to the toilet and was told no. That was pretty standard at the time, although towards the end of my time at school the rules had relaxed slightly.

As the lesson went on – rumbling through a potted history of slavery and skirting over Britain’s role in it – I could feel the discomfort of my sanitary pad filling up. The fear that consumes any young woman was rising up inside me. Was I going to bleed through my standard issue, just-above-the-knee navy blue school skirt?

I did. I’m 31 now, and the worry that this will happen has never gone away. So, I understand that period delay pills can be useful. If you know that you’re going to come on in the middle of a festival, your wedding, during a very important work week or, maybe, even just while you’re on holiday – being able to take a pill that grants you control over your body, is, in so many ways, a complete gift.

The recent news that Superdrug will stock period delay pills – also known as Norethisterone – and supply them to customers aged 18 and over (for as much as £59!) as part of their walk-in service at the store’s pharmacies is welcome news to many, and I can understand why.

However, once again, it serves as a reminder of how far we still have to go when it comes to developing the best possible contraceptive choices for women. 

Like the contraceptive pill, period delay pills are not side-effect free. Norethisterone is a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone and, like the other synthetic hormones in contraception, it can cause breast tenderness, nausea, headaches, low libido and, crucially, ‘disturbances in mood’. 

What the NHS likely means by this is mental health side effects which can range from ‘feeling a bit low’ to full-blown depression and anxiety. No two women are the same and so no two women will respond to a pill in the same way. 

Illustration of woman suffering from mental health issues which can be a side effect of Norethisterone
Norethisterone in the pill may cause depression and anxiety in some women (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

If you’ve ever experienced these potential side effects, you’ll be convinced that they’re real but, if you haven’t, you might be tempted to suggest that women are making them up.

In 2017 I wrote about this as part of an investigation called Mad About The Pill. I found that many women who have reported experiencing mental health side effects of contraception have felt dismissed by their doctor.

Since then, I’ve interviewed multiple leading experts in this field who have all said similar things: there isn’t enough research in this area.  

I travelled to Denmark to interview the professor behind research that has found a possible link between hormonal contraception and suicide. I’ve heard from Dr Michael Craig, who is the clinic lead and consultant psychiatrist at the National Hormone Clinic, and told me that there is ‘no doubt’ that a ‘sub-group’ of women experience negative side effects when they take hormonal contraception but, because there has been a lack of research in this field ‘we don’t know how big this group of women is or what’s different about them’.

In her satirical 1968 essay If Men Could Menstruate, Gloria Steinem imagined a world upside down, where men had periods and the monthly shedding of the womb’s lining was seen as a symbol of power. 

‘To prevent monthly work loss among the powerful, Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea,’ she wrote. ‘Doctors would research little about heart attacks, from which men would be hormonally protected, but everything about cramps.’ 

While hormonal contraception works for some women, there are many who experience negative side effects and it’s time that there was proper research into the pills that we’re being encouraged to put into our bodies. 

The news that period delay pills are now available on the high street, over the counter without a prescription ought to be positive but, until research into the side effects of the synthetic hormones it contains is properly funded, contraception will always be a bittersweet pill to swallow. 

We can send spaceships to Mars, so is it so far fetched to imagine a world where women can take a side effect free pill in order to have reproductive autonomy? Forty years on, the question ‘what would the world look like if men had periods?’ is still worth asking. 

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Girl could be left permanently scarred after spilt nail glue burned her skin

Lilly Worsfold has been left with burns on her legs after spilling Primark nail glue on her leggings
Lilly Worsfold has been left with burns on her legs after spilling Primark nail glue on her leggings (Picture: Surrey Live/BPM MEDIA)

An 11-year-old girl could be left permanently scarred after she spilled Primark nail glue on her leggings, which started to smoke and then burned her skin.

Lilly Worsfold, 11, had been shopping in Woking with friends on Saturday 3 August. When her mum, Louise, collected her, Lilly started applying some false nails with brush-on glue in the back seat of the car. Louise asked Lilly to wait until they arrived at her cousin’s house.

Lilly stopped, but the bottle of glue tipped in her lap and spilled on her leggings. The material began to smoke, burning both of Lilly’s legs.

At the same time Lilly’s eight-year-old sister Poppy, who was sitting in the front seat, said her eyes were hurting.

Louise said: ‘All I heard was this horrendous scream and she started to cry but she couldn’t tell me what was happening.

‘Then I realised what was happening. I stopped at a friend’s who lived near where we were and she got some cold tissue.

Primark nail glue, purchased in the Woking store
The Primark nail glue Lilly bought in store (Picture: Louise Worsfold)

‘I got Lilly into my friend’s house and took her leggings off really gently. The leggings were stuck to her skin. I applied the cold tissue.’

Louise took Lilly to A&E, where she was given painkillers and referred to the burns unit at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead.

‘The staff at the burns unit said it was quite a significant area but were more concerned about how deep it had gone,’ said Louise.

‘She’s in quite a lot of pain and having to rest and keep her legs up. The skin is still tight and she said it feels tingly.’

Lilly Worsfold, 11, spilt Primark nail glue on her leggings and it burnt the skin on both her legs
The damage left on her leggings (Picture: Surrey Live/BPM MEDIA)

Lilly will need to have another appointment to see if she requires a skin graft.

Her mum is sharing her story to raise awareness of the risks of using at-home nail products.

She says that Lilly was able to purchase the nail glue at the Woking branch of Primark, despite the warning label stating that the product should not be used by those under the age of 12.

Louise has contact Primark, who have requested photos of Lilly’s injuries and have asked for the bottle of nail glue to be returned to head office for investigation.

A Primark spokesperson said: ‘We take the safety of our customers and the quality of our products very seriously. This nail glue complies fully with EU standards for safety, quality and product labelling.

‘The glue is made of two ingredients which are both commonly used in similar products sold by retailers across the high street. The ingredients are listed on the product packaging alongside the required warnings about skin contact.

Lilly Worsfold 11 in Farley Green
Lilly may need a skin graft (Picture: BPM MEDIA)

‘We were very sorry to learn of this customer’s experience and are in touch with her so we can investigate her complaint.

‘In line with legal requirements, the warning label on the product states it is not suitable for children under 12 years.

‘However, there is no legal restriction over its sale.’

Louise said: ‘I am just really sad it’s happened.

‘As a parent I do blame myself, she shouldn’t have been using it in the car.

‘Potentially it has left her with these scars for the rest of her life through an accident that shouldn’t have happened, but it has.

‘I worry how she is going to feel in the future.

‘She is just really worried that it could have happened to her sister and she’s worried that potentially she might have to have an operation.

‘It shouldn’t be sold to under 12s. They should have checked how old she was.

‘Some people have said this is a common thing to happen with nail glue and fabric.

‘It’s wasn’t like there was heat, it was at room temperature.

‘I don’t think many people would know nail glue would ignite fabric, not something you buy over the counter.’

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HBO’s Euphoria shows that for teens makeup isn’t about covering insecurities

Kat Hernandez, played by Barbie Ferreira, wearing Euphoria makeup of teal eyeshadow and an orange red lip
Kat Hernandez (Barbie Ferreira) wearing classic Euphoria makeup for a trip to the mall (Picture: HBO)

There’s a lot of chat in the world of body image about makeup.

On one side you have the team saying women should burn our blush, that makeup exists only to uphold unrealistic beauty ideals and that anyone selling, for example, foundation for your legs is an enemy of feminism preying on our insecurities.

On the other you have the makeup lovers who view foundation as freedom, eyeliner as a tool for resistance, and a bright purple lip as deeply empowering.

These camps regularly battle it out with each new product launch or tweet from Jameela Jamil.

But now there’s a new, powerful force in the pro-makeup agenda: Euphoria.

Euphoria is a new HBO show, executive produced by Drake, all about teens – their sexual relationships, their mental wellbeing, their relationship to drugs and alcohol, all that jazz.

It’s brilliant, but alongside Zendaya and Hunter Schafer there’s another major star: the makeup.

Euphoria Makeup: Jules (Hunter Schafer) wearing neon eyeliner
Jules’ graphic liner looks are iconic (Picture: donni.davy)

Euphoria makeup is its own character. It hogs the limelight and makes love to the camera. It’s gloriously extra, all gem stones, glitter, and neon.

Euphoria makeup proves that makeup doesn’t have to be about covering up your insecurities and hiding your ‘flaws’. Makeup can be fun. You can play with it. You can use it as a way to express your style and identity.

Plus, it’s a reminder that positive body image and piling on the makeup can absolutely coexist, and that makeup isn’t just a means to conform to societal ideals.

The character of Kat Hernandez (Barbie Ferreira) rocks mounds of neon green eyeshadow and is regularly spotted slicking on lipstick – but she also has a monobrow present throughout the series.

Kat Hernandez (Barbie Ferreira) wearing green eyeshadow on the set of Euphoria
A wash of green shadow is a power move on Kat’s part (Picture: donni.davy)

She wears makeup not to blend in and present as more ‘acceptable’, but to lean into her sexual exploration and stare down any judgmental side-eyes.

Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie) is the definition of confidence, and uses her makeup to cement her position as a powerful queen bee. When she’s feeling down, her makeup vanishes and her hair is pulled back. Once she’s back on top she wears diamante gems and eyeliner like a crown.

Makeup isn’t used to be appealing, but as a statement of intent.

When Maddy confronts her friends she has a teeny-tiny chain glued to her eyelids. Her liner is sharp enough to cut down haters. Her shadows match her coordinating suits, firmly establishing her personal brand as someone who has their sh*t together.

Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie) wearing a lilac smokey eye with jewels on the set of Euphoria
I shall live forever for Maddy’s bejewelled looks (Picture: donni.davy)

At a time when people are panicking about makeup classes for teenagers and what they could mean for young people’s self-esteem, we need Euphoria to show us that the answer to our body image woes isn’t to rid ourselves of makeup entirely, but to allow people of all ages to play with what they put on their face.

Rather than leaving teenagers to smear on foundation testers the moment acne starts to show, we should let them experiment with colourful eyeliners and sparkling stickers.

We need to get in there before adverts tell young people that makeup is the key to airbrushed skin, that they’re worthless if their brows aren’t groomed and their bodies aren’t hairless, and show them that makeup can be a form of art and expression rather than a way to cover up.

That means saying no to classes showing teenagers how to ‘make the best of skin and brows’, but not overdoing our reaction by expelling makeup entirely or suggesting that all ‘natural’ beauty is somehow morally superior.

Zendaya as Rue in Euphoria, with glitter tears
Related: Give Zendaya an Emmy (Picture: HBO)

Makeup is not an inherent evil, and we shouldn’t make anyone – young or old – feel superficial, silly, or like an agent of the patriarchy for enjoying it – whether because they like to scribble on their eyelids with glitter or they feel empowered to leave the house with their head held high thanks to redness-reducing foundation.

Let’s allow makeup to live up to its full potential as pure joy, an art form, and a way to feel more like yourself.

That might mean learning to do your trademark liquid liner in your teens. It might mean playing around with gender binaries with neon doodles, like Jules (Hunter Schafer). It might be as simple as knowing you’re an expert in contouring and enjoying the process.

It’s time to stop being afraid of makeup and judging those that love it as insecure. It’s time to fall back in love with messing around with whatever products we can get out hands on, to bedazzle our skin in diamante, to put blush on the tip of our nose, and to pile on all the biodegradable glitter.

I’m off to recreate every single one of Maddy Perez’s eye makeup looks just to hang out at home and watch TV. Join me.

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Experts say we could be in for a bumper wasp season this August – but it might not be a bad thing

experts say we could be in for a bumper wasp season
The wasps are coming (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

During the summer months alfresco dinner dates, outdoor terrace drinks and scenic picnics often attract an unwanted guest – the dreaded wasp.

Wasps reach peak activity during the summer months, particularly in August and September in the UK.

But this month, we can expect to see a lot more of those pesky insects. In fact, according to experts, we could be in for a bumper wasp season.

The UK has seen spurts of hot weather this summer, which means there are more wasps nests than usual.

Adam Hart, a Biologist Professor, told HuffPost: ‘Warm weather that isn’t too dry tends to be good for insects in general so it is possible that we might see some good numbers over the coming weeks.’

Last year, pest controllers claimed it was the worst summer ever for dealing with the stinging insects, as the scorching conditions prolonged the lifespans of the creatures. On average, pest controllers were destroying around 15 wasp nests a day.

This summer has not been that drastic but the on-off balmy weather does mean that we should expect a few more wasps about.

Not only that, but they’re also more likely to be floating around summer barbecues than working inside their nests.

This is due to the fact that (at this time of year) the nest has a lot more ‘worker’ wasps but the insects themselves don’t have a whole lot to do. Usually, wasps are kept satisfied by a sugary substance released from larvae, but at this time in the colony cycle the larvae has ‘pupated’, meaning wasps need to find sugar for themselves.

They may be one of the most hated insects in the country, but wasps play a crucial role in helping outdoor life flourish.

Professor Hart said: ‘They take huge amounts of caterpillars and other insects we think of as pests from our crops and gardens.’

They also play great roles as ‘architects and builders’ in the process of pollination.

Hart adds: ‘They are greatly misunderstood sadly, all because of a few weeks in the year when we are outside and they are most active.’

So, perhaps think twice before batting them away at your next outdoor event.

MORE: Van driver distracted by wasp crashes into car and flips it over

MORE: How to soothe insect bites

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The rainbow French manicure is the new summer nail trend to know about

the rainbow french manicure is a new beauty trend
The rainbow nail trend sweeping Instagram is a twist on the traditional white-tipped manicure

So far this year, we’ve had pastel polishes and the lipstick-shape dominating the conversation when it comes to nail art, but now there’s a new trend on the horizon.

Enter the rainbow French manicure.

A 2019 update on the classic French manicure, the new style sees the famous white tips swapped for colourful counterparts.

Similar to the gradient manicure, which has been doing the rounds on Instagram recently, the rainbow French sees a different colour nail polish on each fingertip.


To keep all the attention on the Crayola-inspired tips, the rest of the nail is painted in a clear varnish or a nude colour.

This also means that, much like a French manicure, the vibrant yet minimal design flatters all skin tones.

The playful twist on the traditional mani looks great on natural nails and acrylic nails alike – but the longer the nail, the more space there is to play with experimental ends.

Nail salons have already been getting in on the act, offering their own creative executions.

WAH Salons posted on their Instagram page a two-toned take on the rainbow French, using a lighter shade of the tip sandwiched between the nude and the bright end.


Similarly, nail artist Ananda Kellett of Claws and More, showcased her version on her Instagram page, featuring square-shaped nails with angular tips painted on.


To make the multicoloured ends extra dazzling, other artists have opted for a glitter top coat, to ensure maximum sparkle when the nails hit the light.


Others, such as fashion blogger Megan Ellaby, have gone one step further with full-on rainbow tips.


The possibilities are endless.

MORE: Lipstick-shaped nails are a thing and they’re set to take over Instagram

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Obviously you shouldn’t put chocolate in your vagina

Just don't put chocolate in your vag, okay?
Chocolate does not belong in your vagina (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Mere weeks after we advised you all not to put ice lollies inside your vagina on a hot day, apparently we have to tell the general public not to put chocolate in there either.

Blame the Daily Star, who went ahead and asked an expert if we should be messing around with chocolate during sex.

Was anyone actually putting chocolate in their vagina? We may never know.

But frankly we’ve heard enough urban legends about Mars Bars it seems worth reiterating that no, you absolutely should not put chocolate in your vagina during sex.

Do feel free to nibble some chocolate during foreplay. You can drizzle some (cooled) melted chocolate on your nipples as long as you’re cautious of the heat – you don’t want to get burned.

But do not put chocolate near your genitals, for this is a very bad idea.

There are a few reasons why you should absolutely not put chocolate – melted or otherwise – inside your vagina.

We’ll start with temperature, as that’s important. If you attempt to melt chocolate and use it during sex, you’re at risk of getting burned. If you put it in your vagina, a very sensitive area could get burned, which would not be pleasant.

Then there’s the chance that you could leave some chocolate behind when playing around.

An illustration of a woman masturbating
No sweets in there either (Picture: Ella Byworth/ metro.co.uk)

Chocolate breaks and melts, making it likely it would leave some residue or crumbs in the vagina after being removed. Anything foreign body left in the vagina can cause infection.

The sugar present in chocolate can cause issues, too.

The vagina has a delicate ecosystem going on that depends on maintaining a specific pH balance with the help of good bacteria. If you shove anything sugary in there, you’ll disrupt that healthy bacteria, allow bad bacteria to thrive, and cause all sorts of damage, including infection, pain, and irritation.

If you were to give yourself an infection thanks to chocolate, you would likely need to undergo treatment from a gynaecologist and would be advised to stop having sex while your vagina sorts itself out. So as sexy as drizzling chocolate on your clit may sound, it will likely land you in a sex drought shortly after.

Karin O’Sullivan, clinical lead at sexual health charity FPA, previously told Metro.co.uk: ‘Whatever goes inside your vagina must be something that can be taken out intact. Food left behind in the vagina requires an immediate trip to A&E or a sexual health clinic to be removed.

‘It’s a bad idea to put any food, especially sweets, inside your vagina. Your vagina has a natural healthy balance which can be upset by the introduction of foreign objects.

‘When it comes to food, hygiene can be an issue, with the introduction of new bacteria into your vagina. Sugary foods and sweets can upset the pH balance of your vagina, and serve as a food source for bacteria and yeast which can cause infection such as thrush or bacterial vaginosis.’

If you’re desperately keen to incorporate chocolate into your lovemaking, stick to eating it during foreplay or drizzling it above the belt – as long as you’re okay with stained sheets.

MORE: Why you shouldn’t steam your vagina

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High functioning depression exists and it might not be what you think

man writing in notebook at desk in workplace
High-functioning depression is different to ‘feeling a bit sad’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

There are many forms of depression, we know this.

Some people will be severely depressed to the extent that they can’t get through the day, or out of bed, while some people will still be able to function while their insides are screaming into the void.

Getting through the day with severe depression is not the same as ‘feeling a bit down but still managing’.

It’s normal to feel sad sometimes. It’s normal to go through low periods just as it’s normal to be tired, grumpy, or in a particularly sunny mood. When you’re generally feeling low, you know that it will pass and that you’re in a crap mood, but that it won’t be forever.

When you’re depressed, the low mood is at rock bottom and it’s an all-consuming, never-ending dark pressure that feels like it will never leave you. Depression makes you feel like there’s no reason to live, like everything is meaningless and that the gloom is truly endless. Depression is a neurological change in the brain that completely takes over your entire being.

It’s possible to be contemplating suicide while appearing to be totally ‘normal’ and cracking jokes.

Even those with high functioning depression will find that their mental health affects their daily life, and they’re likely only so high functioning because they’ve found ways to manage their depression that let them live with it.

For example, if you have diabetes you have to check your blood sugar throughout the day, consider your meals and give yourself doses of insulin when you need it. I have depression, and I manage it by making sure I take my medicine every morning, checking in with how I feel (shite, despairing, ambivalent and generally hollow) and considering the ‘face’ I’ll need to put on for the day ahead.

Most importantly, I make sure I have time in between the more intense parts of the day (such as meetings) to be on my own.

Why we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration Illustrations
Being high-functioning doesn’t mean you can quit self-care (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk)

At the end of a work day I’ll often need to go and be in the dark and lie down/cry/just be silent and alone, and this allows me to be more functional when I need to be. If you ignore how you’re feeling, it’ll only get worse – like not changing a dressing on a nasty wound and letting it rot, my alone time to breathe and cry is me changing the dressing on my wounds so I can be fresh again.

I consider myself to have high-functioning depression because I now know how to get through (most) days with it, and manage it with medication, exercise, therapy – and let’s be honest, alcohol and crying.

But like other high functioning depressives, this doesn’t work every day and sometimes the illness flares up so intensely that I’ll need to cancel plans or work from home, or just retreat for a few days until I feel healthier. This is not the same as feeling temporarily sad.

For those with high-functioning depression, getting through the particularly bad days is an enormous struggle and energy expenditure. Personally those days make me feel like I need to sleep forever, submitting to unconsciousness and not having to deal with the world ever again – but I’ll probably be wearing jazzy earrings and a pink blazer and some glittery shoes in an attempt to cover it all up. Glittery people can’t be depressed, right?

If you do have high-functioning depression, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re now functioning again it must mean everything is fine and manageable. You still need to keep tabs on how you’re doing, as chances are your daily life won’t stay exactly the same forever and any changes you encounter will need to be considered for impact on your mental health.

It sounds exhausting – it is bloody exhausting, but it’s really the only way to make sure you can be one of these high-functioning types.

Check yourself, prioritise yourself, and schedule time for yourself into your high-functioning life, even if it’s just to go outside for a five minute walk around and a cry. Change your wound dressing and carry on.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, you can find a qualified local counsellor in your area with Counselling Directory. Mental health charity Mind also offer counselling services, and you can call The Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and ROI). The NHS even have a little quiz you can take. If you can, visit your GP for further advice. To talk about mental health in a private, judgement-free zone, join our Mentally Yours Facebook group.

Need support? Contact the Samaritans

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

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Mum shares photo of what parenting looks like when you have depression

Laura Mazza, known as Mum On The Run, has opened up about her experience of depression
Laura Mazza, known as Mum On The Run, has opened up about her experience of depression (Picture: Laura Mazza)

When you’re depressed, even the simplest of tasks can feel impossible.

Your energy is sapped, your motivation has gone, and all you can do is just lie down and try to sleep.

That’s why people with depression will so often struggle with keeping their living space clean and tidy.

It’s even tougher when you’re a parent, and have to power through your low mood to take care of your children.

Laura Mazza, the parenting blogger of Mum On The Run, has opened up about the struggle of being a parent when depressed, sharing a photo of the mess starting to build up in her kitchen.

She explained that while the kitchen wasn’t terrible – we’ve seen far more cluttered surroundings – the slow accumulation of mess was a sign she wasn’t in the best place mentally.

Laura Mazza's kitchen
‘This is what my house looked like for three weeks’ (Picture: Laura Mazza)

‘This is what my house looked like for three weeks,’ Laura wrote.

‘It’s not bad, but what you can’t see is takeaway boxes, laundry in piles, bathroom grime. Scraps of food everywhere. This was depression.

‘This was me slamming down coffee waiting for the energy to get up to clean.

‘It was me sitting on the couch responding to messages of “how are you going?”. And replying really good.

‘Knowing it was a lie. Knowing I actually felt useless, sad, unworthy, lazy.

‘I had no motivation to brush my teeth or shower. No motivation to play with my kids or cook for them.’

Laura went on to explain that her depression made her feel like her husband would leave her, that she was lazy and a failure.

‘If anxiety and depression were people, they were pushing me down on the couch by my shoulders, using all their weight,’ she wrote. ‘I felt all of it. My heart rate was fast but my body slow.

‘I’m not a slob, not lazy, I love the smell of clean laundry, I love to socialise and I even like to cook for my kids, but when depression hits, when anxiety hits, It’s impossible.’

laura mazza, known as mum on the run, selfie
Laura wants to remind people it’s okay to take a break (Picture: Laura Mazza)

Thankfully Laura was able to separate herself from her depression and give herself a break.

She shared her experience to remind others that they’re not alone in finding simple tasks impossible in the midst of depression, and to show them that a messy room isn’t a personal failing.

‘Dirty dishes aren’t you. They’re not a measure of your worthiness,’ wrote Laura.

‘The laundry piling up isn’t you. Takeaway isn’t who you are, but most of all neither is anxiety or depression.

‘You’re not weak, you’re not worthless, you’re not lazy, unloveable or broken.

‘You’re going through something and in those moments you need a friend who doesn’t need an apology for silence, a friend who doesn’t need you to be strong when you’re not.

‘A friend that doesn’t care if your house is a mess because you need to clean your mind before your house.

‘And you need that friend to be you.’

The post hit home for Laura’s followers, who flooded her status to thank her for being so honest.

The post is an important reminder to be kind to yourself, and to speak to yourself as a friend. It’s okay to struggle, it’s okay for things to build up, and it’s okay if you can’t do things that feel like they should be easy.

Cut yourself some slack, talk to someone who’ll understand, and ask for help when you need it.

Need support? Contact the Samaritans

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

MORE: High functioning depression exists and it might not be what you think

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What is chlorophyll water and why is everybody talking about it?

chlorophyll water
Fancy a glass of the green stuff? (Picture: Getty)

The mention of chlorophyll is enough to take most people back to their secondary school science lessons.

But it’s back in a big way in the world of wellness – in the form of chlorophyll water.

Celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian and Mandy Moore have endorsed the stuff, claiming they drink chlorophyll water to support their health, particularly gut health in Moore’s case.

Currently there are a few bottled chlorophyll waters on the market, as well as chlorophyll supplements that come in powder, capsule and tinctures form.

Here’s everything to know about the latest water trend sweeping the wellness industry.

What is chlorophyll water?

As you might remember from school, chlorophyll is a plant pigment that absorbs light during photosynthesis.

You may not realise, but chlorophyll is probably part of your diet already. It’s found in greens and leafy plants, so in foods such as spinach, green beans and parsley.

Eating chlorophyll, however, does not guarantee it entering your system. This is because, in its natural state, chlorophyll is fat soluble, meaning it cannot dissolve in water.

But drinking it is another story.

Most chlorophyll water and supplements on the market are made up of a semi-synthetic relative of chlorophyll – known as chlorophyllin.

Chlorophyllin is made up of a mixture of salts from natural chlorophyll and is water-soluble – so is more readily absorbed into the body.

What are the health benefits of chlorophyll?

Chlorophyll has been used as a health supplement for many years, with medical studies suggesting it has all kinds of wide-reaching health benefits.

In terms of nutrition, chlorophyll is a great source of vitamins and antioxidants, helping to keep the body healthy and to fight off disease.

A number of studies have also shown that consuming chlorophyll can not only heal skin and reduce levels of cholesterol but improve the quality of red blood cells too.

It’s also well known for its detoxification and protective properties. In fact, one small study found that chlorophyll may limit the ingestion of aflatoxin- a compound that has links to cancer (although we’d in no way suggest that downing chlorophyll will prevent or treat cancer. It’s quite a bit more complex than that). Another study on animals found that chlorophyll supplementation reduced the incidence of liver tumors by up to 64%.

Another claim is that chlorophyll can help with weight loss and there’s research to back it up – one study found people who took a daily supplement containing chlorophyll had greater weight loss than a group that didn’t take the supplement.

Research has also found that chlorophyll can work as a natural deodorant – a 1980 study noted that chlorophyll helped reduce body odor in adults living in nursing homes.

Does chlorophyll water actually work?

Despite there being a number of fascinating studies and promising research into the health benefits of chlorophyll in general, there isn’t enough scientific evidence yet to suggest that chlorophyll water actually works.

For those looking to give it a go anyway, research from Oregon State University suggests the recommended daily dose of chlorophyllin (found in branded chlorophyll water) is between 100 and 300 milligrams per day, and this should be distributed over three separate doses.

How to get it

Getting your hands on branded chlorophyll water in the UK may prove tricky.

A number of US brands, such as Verday, are selling the stuff – but most only ship within The States.

However, a number of liquid chlorophyll products are readily available – simply add the recommended amount to a glass of water.

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How to work out like a professional footballer

Virgil Van Dyk and Sergio Aguero on a gym compilation background
Strength, power and speed – learn how to train like a pro. (Picture: Getty)

It seems like it only just finished, but the Premier League 2019 is already fast approaching and sports lovers everywhere can’t wait for kick off.

But have you ever wondered how elite players maintain their form and fitness all season long?

Premier League players don’t all follow the same exercise plan – each one trains differently depending on their position and style of play. And there are plenty of tips you can take from the best in the game.

We asked PureGym Manchester personal trainer Phil Williams to create special, player-focused workouts, so you can train just like Virgil Van Dijk, Sergio Aguero or Pierre-Emerick-Aubameyang.

Because you don’t have to be an elite athlete to train like one.

Train like a professional footballer

Player: Virgil Van Dijk

Club: Liverpool

Position: Defense (strength and power)

As a defender, Virgil Van Dijk needs to keep the pressure on opposing strikers by limiting their time on the ball. To do this, Vigil needs strength and power. Follow these exercises:

  • Bulgarian split squat 4 x 6 (2-3 minute rest between sets)
  • Single leg box jump 4 x 6 (2-3 minute rest between sets)
  • Prowler push heavy for 10 seconds (1 minute rest between sets)
  • Pendlay row SS barbell push press 3 x 6 (2-3 minute rest between sets)

These exercises build strength and power on one foot (similar to the running stance of a footballer) rather than two. The goal is to increase the weight on a weekly/bi-weekly basis.

Player: Sergio Aguero

Club: Manchester City

Position: Striker (agility and stamina)

As a striker, Sergio Aguero needs to be available at any moment. Taking a second to rest can be the difference between one point, and three points. Sergio must be agile and have excellent stamina, here’s a plan he will follow to achieve this:

  • Barbell lateral lunge 3 x 12 e/s (90 seconds rest between sets)
  • Ladder in-and-outs into sprint 5 sets (90 seconds rest between sets)
  • Treadmill interval training 10 seconds on/20 seconds off x 8
  • Prowler push lighter weight, as quick as possible (60 seconds rest between sets)

This workout can be done as four separate exercises, or if you want to increase the intensity as a HIIT workout, complete all four exercises back to back.

Player: Pierre Emerick Aubameyang

Club: Arsenal

Expertise: Speed

Aubameyang’s job is to get in behind the opposing team’s defensive line, closer to the goalkeeper, which is why he must be fast and agile.

  • Dumbbell step-ups 3 x 6 e/s (1-2 minutes rest between sets)
  • Interval sprints (10 seconds on 20 seconds off x 8)
  • Hip thrusts 3 x 8 (1-2 minutes rest between sets)
  • Depth drops 3 x 8 (1-2 minutes rest between sets)

Increasing speed by driving off one foot is essential for strikers. Working your lower body through single leg work, at a low rep, will increase strength and power. Depth drops will also improve reaction time.

How do footballers recover after a tough workout?

Training the right way is essential, but how do you recover properly, ready for the next match?

Footballers plan for recovery ahead of time. During pre-season, players have less recovery time as they’re continually improving their cardiovascular fitness; however, as soon as the season ends, recovery becomes a priority.

How to recover after training

  • Active recovery: Light movements like walking or cycling stimulate blood flow and reduce muscle soreness.
  • Increase protein intake: Protein builds and repairs muscles. 2g of protein per kg of body weight should set you on the right track for a successful recovery.
  • Quality sleep: Improve your sleep quality by going to bed earlier or limiting time spent scrolling through social media/watching TV before bed. Aim for between six and eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Hydration: On average, a footballer will run between eight and 12km per game.
    A 2% drop in hydration levels can be enough to notice a drop in performance so hydration is vital.
    Weigh yourself before and after training and drink 1.5x the amount of fluid you lose sweating. Aim to drink a minimum of two liters of water per day when you’re not training.

What do footballers eat?

Wayne Rooney once said: ‘I tend to just have cereal before a game, probably a bowl of Coco Pops. The normal ones, not the Moons and Stars.’

Rio Ferdinand was spotted snacking on Jaffa Cakes at half time. But they’re not exactly the norm. Today’s young stars are much more focused on making smart dietary choices.

If you don’t want to reach for the cereal box or snack on biscuits before a match, here’s what most footballers eat (hint: it’s not just pasta and chicken).

  • Eggs
  • Oily fish
  • Spinach
  • Blueberries
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Chia seeds

Players will naturally reduce their calorie output during the off season as they’re not as active. But as pre-season begins, their energy output will increase, and more calories are needed.

Some players have different approaches for the days they are playing or training compared to rest days, as a rest day will require less energy, they may choose to reduce their calorie intake.

Although meal timing isn’t important for weight loss or gain, it’s a good idea to leave time between eating and playing.

As a guide, eat carbohydrates and fat beforehand, and consume carbohydrates, fats and protein post-workout. This can vary, as some people prefer to eat close to training, whereas others find it easier to train on an empty stomach.

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

Try this Pilates workout to tone your entire body

Woman doing a Pilates push up against a backdrop of leaves
Condition your whole body with controlled movements that focus on flexibility and strength. (Picture: Getty)

If you’ve never tried Pilates before, you probably think it’s basically pretty similar to yoga.

And it is – in that it’s low intensity training and focuses on controlled, steady movements.

But Pilates has a whole range of unique benefits that can really help to tone and condition the muscles in your entire body.

And the best news is that you can do it from your living room. Ideal.

We’re big fans of Pilates because you don’t have to be a fitness buff to give it a try. You could go to a class with your mum, or even your nan, and you will all feel the benefits.

We asked pilates expert Helena Lewis, owner of On Route Health, to tell us more about why Pilates is such a useful form of exercise.

‘Gym workouts help build the outside muscle groups, and Pilates work with muscles deeper within – the ones that are usually neglected or less used,’ Helena tells Metro.co.uk.

‘By working from the inside out, you develop a greater understanding of the body, and you start to use smaller muscle groups.

Fit woman holding a yoga mat at the beach
All you need is a mat and bit of open space. (Picture: Getty)

What are the benefits of pilates?

‘There are several health benefits of regular Pilates exercises:

  • Pilates is proven to improve flexibility and mobility, as it’s designed to stretch and strengthen muscles. The core muscles that Pilates is designed to strengthen are the abdominal muscles, lower back, hips and buttocks.
  • Improved balance, coordination and posture.
  • Improved focus and concentration.
  • Helps fight fatigue.
  • It’s perfect for rehabilitation for injuries, as well as prevention.
  • It’s great for relaxation. Doing it in the evening may also help improve sleep patterns.
  • Improved breathing and circulation. It’s potentially a good exercise for smokers and ex smokers to expand their lung capacity, and can help heart health as part of a healthy living regime.
  • Reduces your risk of diabetes.
  • Helps with blood pressure issues.
  • Great for helping with mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
  • Good for controlling weight.

Can Pilates make you stronger?

‘Pilates is fantastic for building strength and muscle, but should be incorporated into a fitness regime,’ explains Helena.

‘On its own, it’s still a great workout, but you won’t reach your strength and muscle goals with Pilates alone.

‘Pilates is amazing for conditioning, and a good instructor will help you to use Pilates to understand your body and how you can use it as part of your overall plan to achieve your goals.

‘With Pilates, you will experience improved strength and tone, but it isn’t the sole answer to achieving this, more so maintaining it.

‘Pilates should be part of the plan, not the only plan, but anyone wanting to achieve muscle mass and strength should seriously consider implementing it into their schedule.

‘Pilates alongside strength training in any form is the most effective way of strength building.

‘For best results, Pilates needs to be practiced twice per week at least.’

Simple Pilates workout to try at home

‘Another benefit of Pilates is that it’s easy to emulate at home.

‘Though for the best development I would recommend undertaking classes with a trained instructor.

‘There are several small exercises that you can do at home, and these take a maximum of 15 minutes.

‘The following moves are simple and effective and I would recommend doing three full circuits of them. However, depending on your personal health and fitness, speak to a trained Pilates teacher first to ensure you are working on technique to minimise risk of injury.’

Glute bridge

This exercise is great for toning the glutes, but for also working out any tight muscles and pains you may have in the neck, back and shoulders.

Lay on the floor, with your legs bent, feet on the floor and hands down by your sides.

Through your arms, roll up so your pelvis is lifted off of the floor, squeezing your glute muscles.

You should feel the squeeze and stretch through your lower back. Starting with the ribs, slowly roll back down.

Do 10-12 reps.

Young asian woman exercising at home
The glute bridge – it works more than just your glutes. (Picture: Getty)

Pilates push up

The Pilates push up is perfect for working on your core, as well as your triceps, which are one of the most neglected muscles in the body.

Start in a plank, with elbows over the hands and tighten your abdominal muscles.

Squeeze your inner thighs as you lower yourself down into a push up. And then push back up.

This is important to focus on technique and posture and try not to dip your back as this will create unnecessary strain.

All the power needs to come from the core and the triceps. Do 5 reps to start with, and build yourself up.

Standing side kick

This is great for improved posture, balance and coordination, and also changing between standing up and lying down exercises means a better, full-body workout.

Stand with your left foot on a yoga block or even a book and right foot on the floor.

Keeping your left knee soft for balance, flex your right foot and extend your right leg forward. Squeeze your glute muscles as you bring leg back.

Do 10 reps and try not place your right foot back on the floor during the full set.

The saw

This is fantastic to either start or end your workout, and is great for waking you up in the morning, or as a stretching exercise away from your desk to keep you active.

It’s designed to help flexibility, coordination, posture and mobility. One of my favourites.

Lengthen your legs in front of you with toes facing up. Put your arms up, out to your sides.

With each arm, rotate to your front, and reach to touch your opposite toe.

Rolling like a ball

This is perfect for improving and developing spin flexibility and tackling anxiety.

Bring your knees into your chest and roll back and forth so your spine rolls along the floor, keeping your knees into your chest.

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

Five alternative fitness holidays that you need to book right now

Women doing yoga on the beach
Bored of sun loungers? Try these holidays instead. (Picture: Getty)

Summer might be drawing to a close, but there’s still time for one last escape before the sun disappears for another eternity.

If you’ve already done a boozy girls trip, a fast-paced city break or a romantic getaway heavy on the wine and pasta – you’re probably on the hunt for something a little different.

These invigorating fitness holidays will energise your mind, body and soul – just what you need ahead of the change of seasons.

Whether you’re in to challenging hills through sweeping landscapes, idyllic sunset yoga or a luxury bootcamp in a fancy villa – one of these five picks will have something that appeals to your inner adventurer.

Destination Yoga, Tuscany

Type of holiday: Seven-night group retreat

A villa and pool in Italy
Calmer than calm. (Picture: Destination Yoga)

Deep in the Italian countryside, take part in two daily yoga classes and immerse yourself in the calming vibes of the Mediterranean.

Worlds away from busy city life and the dreary greyness of the UK, this retreat allows you to take in the stunning natural views, all while improving your yoga, strengthening and toning your body.

As well as daily yoga, there is also a gym, optional excursions and the chance to sample local cuisine and wine. It sounds seriously dreamy.

Seven nights in October costs £1,695 for a solo room and £1,095 for a shared room.

The Adventure Creators, mountain biking in The Pyrenees 

Type of holiday: Seven nights with five days of guided riding

Cyclists take in the views in The Pyrenees
Stunning views and adrenaline-pumping routes. (Picture: The Adventure Creators)

This holiday is perfect for cyclists who love a view. The stunning scenery along quiet trails will take your breath away. But do remember to breathe, because some of the routes are pretty challenging.

With fast, flowy routes and rocky, technical routes – the five days of guided riding are perfect for intermediate mountain bikers who already have a handle on the basics.

The accommodation is a no-frills hotel, so this is a good option if you’re looking for substance over style.

The seven-day trip in September costs 710 (£656) per person.

Ultimate Performance, training camp in Marbella

Type of holiday: A three-day fitness bootcamp

A woman doing battle ropes at a bootcamp
If you like your holidays with a side of pain. (Picture: UP Fitness)

Want to push yourself to the limit, but short on time? This three-day intense training camp could be the answer.

Join professional trainers and enthusiastic amateurs for intense fitness and learning sessions, to equip you with the tools to take your training to the next level when you get home.

Over the three days there will be six fitness sessions, seminars and Q&As on everything from biomechanics and nutrition to improving body composition through lifestyle factors including sleep, stress and nutrition.

You also get a few hours to yourself in the afternoons and the evenings to explore what Marbella has to offer. A standard ticket costs £499.

NetFit Tours, netball fitness in Bali

Type of holiday: A seven-night luxury retreat

The NETFIT Tours villa in Bali
Bali? Sign us up. (Picture: NetFit Tours)

If team sports are more your thing you’ll probably be really excited by this NetFit tour, run by netball legends Sarah Wall and Kim Green.

This wellness and fitness retreat combines fitness sessions with elite athletes and coaches, yoga, paddleboarding, massage and a specially selected healthy menu.

Oh, and you’ll be in Bali. So that’s pretty cool too.

But seven nights in this luxury villa doesn’t come cheap. Heading out to Bali this October will sting you $4200 (£2,361). But it will probably be the trip of a lifetime.

Responsible Travel, paddleboarding in Croatia

Type of holiday: Six nights exploring different islands

People paddleboarding on the ocean off Croatia
A glorious way to explore the islands. (Picture: Responsible Travel)

This has to be one of the best ways to see hidden gems in Croatia.

Explore hard-to-reach small islands in Zadar archipelago and live with the locals, paddle to laid back fisherman villages off the beaten path, and cycle along the little countryside roads with views of the whole archipelago.

The trip costs £692, which includes breakfast every day, lunch on two days and one evening meal.

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

You Don’t Look Sick: ‘My arm hurts so much I considered having it amputated’


Many people live with invisible illnesses – conditions that cause symptoms that affect their every day lives but on the outside, they look well.

You Don’t Look Sick is our weekly series looking at what it’s like to live with a hidden condition.

Patrick Day-Childs, 26, from Southampton, has complex regional pain syndrome around his right elbow.

CRPS is a condition where the body reacts abnormally to an injury. The pain is much more severe and long lasting than is normally expected from a minor injury.

It causes a mix of stinging, stabbing and burning as well as tingling and numbness. There may also be changes to the colour of the skin. It is usually confined to one limb but it can spread to other areas of the body.

When CRPS develops, changes in temperature and even the lightest touch can lead to extreme pain.

Patrick says it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact point where the CRPS developed but he believes it happened after he was assaulted and his elbow was stamped on when he was around 14 years old.

Now over 10 years on, Patrick still struggles with chronic pain in the area and finds it difficult to use his right arm.

The condition is rare and diagnosis is often difficult. There is no test for CRPS but it is diagnosed through matching symptoms and eliminating other conditions.

Patrick says he struggled to get a diagnosis as his doctor thought he was exaggerating the pain he was feeling.

Patrick Day-Childs, who suffers from complex regional pain syndrome in his right arm
Patrick Day-Childs, who suffers from complex regional pain syndrome in his right arm (Picture: Jordan Pettitt/Solent News & Photo Agency)

He explains: ‘Getting diagnosed was very bittersweet. The doctor I was seeing didn’t seem to think there were any issues with me, so it was good to have a proper diagnosis and confirmation there was something wrong, but knowing that there isn’t anything that’ll fix it was difficult to accept.’

Treatment for CRPS is still limited and the condition is not well understood. Patrick has even considered amputation because of the lack of other treatment options.

‘I’ve just had to learn to live with it,’ Patrick says. ‘I’ve spoken to others online but because it’s a pain based condition but there hasn’t been much in the way of help.

‘I’ve looked at having the limb replaced with a prosthetic but there are quite a few cases of people that have tried that and still felt the pain from the condition due to how the nerves work.’

He has learnt to adapt and learn how to do tasks without using his arm – but it still impacts on his everyday life.

He says: ‘I don’t like the idea that my condition controls me.

‘I’m also stay-at-home parent to my kids because all my work can be done from home, so I try to put in all my effort to taking them out to the park or somewhere.

‘This is where it can become a massive problem. My condition can be made much worse by sudden temperature changes or if it’s too hot/cold.

‘When we use play equipment if it’s metal then it retains temperature differently to plastics and rubber. Sometimes it’ll cause massive tremors in my arm, and it’ll hurt like crazy.

What are the symptoms of CRPS?

The main symptom of CRPS is chronic pain.

The pain is usually triggered by an injury but is more severe and long lasting.

It may feel like a mix of burning, stabbing or stinging. There may also be tingling and numbness.

The skin in the affected area can become very sensitive.

Even the slightest touch, bump or change in termperature can cause intense pain.

Other symptoms can include:

Strange sensations in the effected limb

Alternating changes to the skin

Hair and nail changes

Joint stiffness and swelling

Tremors and muscle spasms

Difficulty moving the affected body part

Difficulty sleeping

Small patches of fragile bones in the affected limb.


‘The condition is very random, I can sometimes fall over, smack my arm and be fine, but then my jacket rubbing gently against my elbow can feel like someone just set it on fire.

‘It also means I lose grip a lot, so I’ll sometimes just drop things without being aware that it’ll happen at all.’

There are many aspects of everyday life that we take for granted that Patrick struggles with because of CRPS.

He says: ‘If you consider that my condition can be agitated by metals, then think about heading out to a supermarket and you’ll realise just how much of an issue that can be: ATM, disabled switches for doors, handles, ordering a cold drink, even money can cause me problems.’

But the biggest problem is the chronic and persistent pain that he faces.

‘It’s constant – it stops me being able to properly concentrate. It’s always there from the second I wake up to the second I fall asleep. It’s really exhausting,’ he says.

Patrick Day-Childs who has CRPS and his son Corran
Patrick and his son Corran (Picture: Jordan Pettitt/Solent News & Photo Agency)

‘The condition affects my right arm, but causes so much pain that using any limb is a huge deal of effort, it feels like I’m dragging blocks of lead just to lift my legs and arms usually. And it can spread.

‘There have been a few occasions where I’ll have a sudden familiar shock of pain in a different limb, but luckily it isn’t constant like it is in my right arm.

‘Because of this, I’m extremely anxious about using anything metal, any kind of trigger in either arm isn’t ideal.’

He says that because his disability is not immediately obvious to strangers, he has faced judgement, especially when using public transport.

Patrick playing video games dressed as a storm trooper
Patrick still enjoys his hobbies but has to be aware of how touching certain materials might affect his arm (Picture: Patrick Day-Childs)

Patrick struggles to stand on trains as touching metal triggers the intense pain in his arm. He admits he tries to avoid travelling on trains or buses for that reason.

He explains: ‘I’d say the most notable incident was on a train a few years back. I had booked four seats so I had extra space for my arm. Someone ripped up the reservations and put them on a pile in the middle of the table.

‘The other notable time was I used a disabled seat on a train and someone pointed out it’s for people with a disability, I moved but trying to get out of the seats on trains is difficult because I can only use my legs and one arm.’

Patrick wants to raise awareness of conditions like CRPS that many people haven’t heard off and don’t understand.

He says: ‘I think the world is becoming more acceptable and understanding to some conditions like autism. However, the lesser known conditions should be brought to light too.’

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.

MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘Living with an invisible illness destroyed my confidence’

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

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This 18th century property seen in Holby City and Midsomer Murders is on the market for £1.67 million

Grade II listed Hampermill House in Watford
The Grade II listed property (Picture: Savills/BNPS)

Prepare for some serious house envy.

Hampermill House in Watford is a Grade II listed property that has welcomed a number of film crews onto its grounds over the years.

The spacious four bedroom home has appeared British TV favourites including Holby City and Midsomer Murders, as well as the 2014 Mike Leigh film Mr Turner.

The property, which dates back to 1770, is now on the market for £1.67 million.

Grade II listed Hampermill House in Watford
The sought-after house (Picture: Savills/BNPS)

Grade II listed Hampermill House in Watford
Interior inspiration (Picture: Savills/BNPS)
Grade II listed Hampermill House in Watford
A Pinterest-worthy kitchen (Picture: Savills/BNPS)

The charming house has high ceilings, renovated wood floors and open fireplaces, alongside an enormous drive which has space for around 20 cars – a feature which has proved particularly convenient for film crews over the years.

It also boasts a heated swimming pool (which has been featured in music videos) as well as a lawn, woodland and a vegetable garden. It’s enviable position on the River Colne also means that the house has fishing rights.

Along with it’s 2.2 acres of land, the property also has a separate two storey one bedroom apartment with its own kitchen and dining room.

Grade II listed Hampermill House in Watford
Fancy a dip? (Picture: Savills/BNPS)

Grade II listed Hampermill House in Watford
The property is located on the river (Picture: Savills/BNPS)

Grade II listed Hampermill House in Watford
Some sections were added in the Victorian era (Picture: Savills/BNPS)

Current owners of the property Peter and Gloria Thompson have even starred as extras in some of the shows filmed at their house, along with their dogs.

Peter, aged 72, said: ‘We initially invited filming here to pay for renovations to the house but then stuck with it because we enjoyed it so much.

‘Being fans of Midsomer Murders it was great to have that filmed here and we admire Mike Leigh so for him to shoot a film here was special.

Grade II listed Hampermill House in Watford
It features a number of out buildings (Picture: Savills/BNPS)

‘We have both loved living here but it is now just my wife and I and we are looking to downsize.’

Some sections of the house were added later, during the Victorian Era, but since then the property has seen extensive refurbishment.

MORE: Stunning property near Fatboy Slim’s house on the market for £3 million

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MORE: Millennials, rejoice: A hotel that looks after house plants for free is now open

I was planning to take my life when a stranger saved me

Rob Dunn on his bike during Ride London
As a mark of respect to you and your kindness, I took part in the 2019 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 to raise money for two charities (Picture: Rob Dunn)

After years of suicidal plans and thoughts, I’d been hoping to meet someone like you – my guardian angel.

Last July, I was standing on Vauxhall Bridge planning to take my own life when you touched my arm and asked if I was OK. I said something – I can’t remember what – and you asked if I wanted to go for a coffee to discuss it.

As we walked along the bridge, I told you about my problems and you listened and showed concern.

You checked if I had people who cared about me and who would miss me. We chatted longer in the coffee shop and you helped calm me down. You helped me focus on the most important people in my life and how I could help myself more.

By looking at my life from another angle you made me view it differently; you made me see the big picture.

You told me your name was Anna and we exchanged phone numbers, but I wasn’t expecting we’d ever make contact again.

Before we met I was stuck. I sustained a brain injury in 1988 after being struck by a car, after which I lost my memory and dislocated my femur, which caused long-term injury.

I knew the accident had caused a brain injury, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I was given an MRI and told what the effects were – or given a plan on how to adapt to them. Knowing something is wrong for 22 years, but not being told what, is very scary and stressful.

On top of that, my right hip hurt constantly and made my life even more difficult. I felt like the stress I was under was too much to deal with.

On the day I met you I had run out of ideas of how to tell my employer about my brain injury so that they would understand it. I stood there, overwhelmed with it all, waiting in hope that someone would check if I was OK.

You did and your words changed everything.

I accidentally dialled your number this July and immediately hung up, but you quickly phoned me back to check that I was OK. We chatted away and agreed to meet for a coffee the next day, this time under happier circumstances.

Your kind words and actions saved my life that day and I can never repay you for your kindness

I have achieved so much since we met: I’ve secured a permanent job that I enjoy and my employer has made adjustments necessary for my disability.

My mental health has improved massively. Soon after we met your words inspired me to seek support from people who could help me with my brain injury. I went to see Attend, an acquired brain injury awareness charity who helped me see what roles my skills are suited to. I am so much more confident in my work and I am aware of my abilities.

Later this year, I am having surgery to stop the ongoing pain in my hip. I’m so excited to have no more pain when sitting down, standing up, dancing and exercising. I will be able to live life to the fullest.

I also took up cycling despite having little experience. It hasn’t been easy – I’ve had to battle with keeping my concentration for the entire ride. My hip has been challenging too, as it makes it harder for me to keep my balance. At times, I’ve cycled into things – including Limehouse Cut canal.

My hip has been challenging too, as it makes it harder for me to keep my balance.

But it is worth it and now, as a mark of respect to you and your kindness, I took part in the 2019 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 to raise money for two charities.

I want to help others who face daily challenges due to their impairments by supporting Scope, the disability equality charity, while also acknowledging Attend for the help they gave me.

Having completed the cycle I now feel so relaxed and proud of myself.

I hope that you will feel proud of yourself, too.

Your kind words and actions saved my life that day and I can never repay you for your kindness. I’m trying to pay it forward by donating to these charities so they can continue helping other people – the same way you helped me.

I hope anyone in a similar situation to how I was can find their own guardian angel to support them and to make them feel that there is hope.

Need support?

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

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Unfortunate ASOS trousers with brown tie-dye streaks makes it look like you’ve pooed yourself

The ASOS poo print Public Desire trackies
The tracksuit bottoms (Picture: ASOS)

We love a print but sometimes the placement isn’t always well thought out.

Who can forget the M&S bikini bottoms that made you look like you’ve had a period mishap?

Well, now these white tracksuit bottoms with a brown tie-dye design are being described as ‘poopy pants’.

Yes, the tie dye effect means some strange brown streaks right down the trousers and across your bum.

Because who doesn’t want to look like you’ve had an unfortunate problem after a dodgy tummy?

The trousers from ASOS come with a matching top, which when worn together, looks like you’ve had quite the accident.

We can’t help but think the designer didn’t think this one through.

The £22.99 bottoms by brand Public Desire do look comfy with a tie waistband and cuffed bottoms but it’s probably not worth the double takes in the street.

We all have accidents, but worry not about them stains on your behind! These trousers are the perfect cover!…

Posted by Asos, Why? on Friday, August 9, 2019

The bottoms were shared on the Asos, Why? Facebook page with the caption: ‘We all have accident, but worry not about them stains on your behind! These trousers are the perfect cover!

‘#poopypants #asoswhy #asosfail #asoswtf’

It’s certainly an interesting design but ASOS claims that they are selling fast.

The ‘poop pants’ aren’t the only item on the ASOS site that have given people a giggle.

Last month, shoppers spotted this dress from ASOS that was compared to a sack of onions.

The £350 dress was made of a mesh material just like the material use around the vegetable.

It was part of the Elissa Poppy range – a winner of the 2016 ASOS Fashion Discovery competition.

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How do British Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha?

A family with balloons celebrating Eid in a park in London (photo: Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
A family with balloons celebrating Eid in a park in London (Photo: Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

Today is Eid al-Adha, which roughly translates as ‘The Festival of the Sacrifice’. It’s a celebration of the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Along with the festival which takes place after Ramadan called Eid al-Fitr, it’s the most important occasion in the Muslim calendar. So how is it celebrated? To find out, we spoke with a number of British Muslims.

Taahir, 31, tells us his family celebrate the day in a traditional way. ‘We don’t do anything weird or kooky,’ he says.

‘We wake up super early and eat something sweet before going to the mosque. I usually eat dates to be extra traditional but anything sweet will do.’

After going to the mosque, the family go to the cemetery.

Taahir adds: ‘It’s always full of people visiting loved ones, which I think is nice — you wouldn’t go to a graveyard on Christmas Day, would you? And it’s not somber or sad. It’s more like “happy Eid, grandad! We miss you!”‘

‘Afterwards, we get our food ready and then take the dishes to the house of whichever family member is hosting. We eat, swap presents and then usually all the teens go home and get changed into their new Nikes or whatever.’

Taahir’s feast is usually based around lots of lamb, because of the festival’s links to the story of Abraham.

He adds: ‘Not very woke! But there is a vegan Muslim trend that’s moving away from that.’

As well as observing Islamic tradition, many British Muslims have arrived at their own, more idiosyncratic ones.

Tallahassee, 24, explains: ‘Every year since 2015, I take a photo with something out of my freezer.

‘Just for the banter — Eid is a good day for banter. It’s one of the few religious events in the Islamic calendar for you to really enjoy yourself — otherwise, it can be quite serious. So you make the most of it.

‘My family often go to Pizza Express to celebrate the occasion, which is fun. We only started going when we found out they use halal chicken, and we only found that out when the tabloids started freaking out about it on the front page.’

An Eid celebration in Trafalgar Square, London (Photo: Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
An Eid celebration in Trafalgar Square, London (Photo: Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

One of the other cornerstones of Eid-al-Adha is the sacrificing of an animal, or ‘qurbani, (in commemoration of the Abraham story.) For Taahir, it’s not something his family does personally.

‘Few people do it themselves in the UK. We pay someone in India to do it — that way the person performing the sacrifice gets paid and is able to distribute the meat among those that need it most.’

Tallahassee, similarly, takes part in qurbani but doesn’t actually do it himself.

‘It’s advised quite heavily in the Quran so most people who have the financial means to do it almost always do. Even a single chicken qualifies for sufficient qurbani in some cases. But bear in mind you need to share the meat three ways — between family, friends and the poor. In the UK we don’t do it ourselves because of health and safety laws, so we pay for someone in a slaughterhouse to do it on our behalf. Coughing up the cash is considered a sacrifice.’

It’s worth noting that not all Muslims celebrate Eid-al-Adha.

‘My family never went in for it,’ Aisha, 29, tells me. ‘My mum would tell us “any day without sin is Eid” so that’s basically why. They just do some Eid prayers but they pray so much anyway that that’s not exactly exciting.’

This year, Aisha isn’t doing anything. She says: ‘It’d be a bit sad celebrating it on your own — I feel like it’s quite a family orientated thing.’

In all her years of not observing Eid-al-Adha, Aisha tells me that the saddest was the time when she celebrated by eating a single boiled egg with brown sauce.

If you are celebrating Eid today, we hope it’s a good one — and less bleak than Aisha’s!

MORE: Incredible pictures from Mecca as 2,000,000 Muslims begin hajj pilgrimage

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