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I get asked … INCONTINENCE

I’m in my mid-sixties and frequently have the urge to “spend a penny” during the day and night. It’s getting to the stage where I have to plan when I go out socially dependant on where the nearest available toilet is to avoid embarrassing accidents. I suppose incontinence comes with age but is there anything I can do to help myself?

Gladys Ayres…. Preston

 Answer .

Incontinence is a common problem affecting both men and women, but more usually women. Urge incontinence is when urine leaks as you feel an intense urge to go to the loo. It’s usually the result of over activity of the detrusor muscles which control the bladder. Stress incontinence is when urine leaks out when the bladder is under pressure, such as when you cough or laugh, usually due to weakened, damaged pelvic floor muscles and urethral sphincter.

Pelvic floor muscles are weakened as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, obesity or with increased age. Although it is not an inevitable part of ageing!

To improve “Pelvic Flaws” lie on your back, knees bent, feet slightly apart.  First tighten front passage (like trying to stop spending a penny).  Next tighten vagina, and finally muscles in back passage. Now pull up al muscles together and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times anytime, anywhere to help prevent both gynaecological and incontinence problems.

Keep a diary noting how much fluid you drink and how often you need the loo. Changes in lifestyle may help, such as losing weight, cutting down on caffeine and alcohol, and training your bladder. If incontinence interferes with quality of life your GP may suggest surgery.

 

OBESITY

A national newspaper recently interviewed me asking about my campaign “Get Britain Fit” on BBC Breakfast Time back in the 80’s.  I had appeared daily in the guise of The Green Goddess and introduced the public to the health benefits of taking regular exercise regardless of age or ability.   The campaign was a resounding success and got the nation, irrespective of age, moving.  A few years later ITV’s breakfast show copied the idea and Mad Lizzie got their audience jumping.  Between us we motivated the public, Keep Fit classes popped up everywhere, and the Fitness Industry took off.  Brightly coloured Lycra leotards and tights, plus legwarmers became desirable, and trainers fashionable, as the nation jumped and twirled in aerobic classes and puffed and panted cycling and jogging.

It was immensely satisfying to see people of all ages enjoying keeping fit, looking trim and healthy.  Taking regular moderate exercise improves the 3 S’s -strength, stamina and suppleness, and many women in particular saw an extra benefit (also beginning with S), an improvement in their size and shape!  On TV every morning we made the watching  public aware  not only of the  health benefits from doing regular physical activity but also  informed them of the  necessary balance  between the food (calories) they ate and the calories which they burnt up going about their everyday lives. According to the NHS Choices weight loss plan women should be consuming 1,400 cals a day and men 1,900 cals.  It was a recipe for health and happiness!

But roll on 30 plus years – and I had to admit to my journalist the dismay I feel, when despite knowing what constitutes a healthy lifestyle and having local amenities available in which to participate, so many people today have got it so wrong!   The figures are staggering.  Even back in 2014 nearly 2/3rd of people in the UK were found to be either overweight or obese, and the financial burden on the NHS is overwhelming as figures continue to rise.  Medics are concerned by the lack of physical activity today and results of recent research over several decades published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology showed that inactive men stood a 40% risk of dying earlier than those who had kept active.  I’m disappointed when I look around me and admit to feeling something of a failure. What went wrong?

I can sing a rainbow

“Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue, I can sing a rainbow” sang Carole King.

The colours and choice of clothes I wear are important to me and define my personality.  But some which suited me, even 10 years ago, do nothing for me today.  Colour affects my mood so dressing up makes me feel good (even if nobody else notices!).  A subtle way of putting colour back into my jaded face without using too much make-up is to wear flattering colours next to my skin.

Colour also has a psychological impact on our health, well-being and happiness.  I do wear black, traditionally the colour of mourning, but find it depressing and struggle to wear it well.  But, on confident, upbeat women an all-black outfit can look sensational!  Adding a splash of colour lifts an outfit and my trick is to wear a colourful pashmina, brooch or necklace in a flattering colour (particularly in pinks and reds). That colourful scarf or startling piece of Jewellery needn’t be expensive!  But when they’re worn near the face it draws attention upwards, towards one’s assets, whilst disguising body faults lower down!

As an amateur artist I use The Colour Wheel (an artist’s aid) to show me which colours complement or clash.  Colours found directly opposite across the colour wheel, will happily sit alongside one another. You see this harmony in nature.   For example, my favourite flower is the purple pansy which is beautifully complemented with yellow markings. If I’m not sure about the combination of colours I’ve put together I remember my Mother’s saying “when in doubt leave out”.

Being a bit “arty” I enjoy experimenting and combining colours to create unexpected, exciting effects.  I don’t buy clothes in a colour just because it’s “fashionable” but wear colours that suit me and lift my spirits.  In my wardrobe I group clothes in colour order just like that rainbow.  This way I easily find garments I want to wear, can accessorize and co-ordinate them. Now, I try to avoid panic-buying only to discover back home that I already own something similar!  Why not ask a colour consultant for advice on colours that are best for you, then re-organise your wardrobe and have a clear-out?  Charity shops will be grateful for your cast-offs.

 

Put on a happy face

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No, we can’t beat “Old Father Time” but some women drive a mighty close bargain with him!  We can’t turn back the clock, but we can learn a few tricks to help maintain our looks. Beauty can be ageless; it just depends on knowing what your skin needs! Skin is your body’s largest organ, the only external organ, protecting what is inside and keeping harmful things outside.  It effectively retains essential fluids, protects internal organs, resists infections and acts as a physical barrier to damage.

We spend a lot of time and money worrying about the top layer of skin, the epidermis, which we see in the mirror.  But skin has 3 layers, the middle one being the dermis, the lower layer the hypodermis. Beauty really is skin deep, what goes on below the surface, in the dermis and hypodermis is what really matters, than the top layer in the long run.  These lower layers contain hair follicles, nerve endings, connective tissue, blood vessels, sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and collagen fibres.  It’s where the skin process begins – with new cells being constantly formed and renewed.  It takes approximately 30 days for these new cells to find their way up to the top layer, and what we see in the mirror when they reach the skin’s surface are by now old cells.  These are shed naturally in a continuous process and the older we get the longer this process takes!  So what’s new?

The human face is the only part of the body where the muscles are attached directly to the skin instead of the bones.  Each time we react to people or situations, we tighten our lips, flicker our eyelids, smile, or frown in response.

The emotions we experience and our reaction to them form expressions on our faces which repeated over many years, give us our unique, individual looks.

Our faces should be bright, full of emotion with an inner beauty shining through, but in fact over the years our lifestyles become etched upon our faces, some good, some not so good, and others just bad!

Our lifestyle gives us our individual look and a positive attitude can help delay the ageing process.  If we feel happy and healthy, positive signs get etched onto our faces.  A smile uses 7 facial muscles, but it can take 32 muscles to frown!  Therefore frowning creates more lines, furrows and wrinkles, so it pays to be cheerful!  The rate at which skin ages differs for all of us, 10% of ageing is intrinsic, genetic, so look at your parents. Other ageing factors are extrinsic such as, bad diet, smoking, excessive drinking, stress, weather and sun. Much of this can be avoided, so what really counts is how we live our lives.  However, the menopause and associated drop in oestrogen levels results in thinner, drier, flaky skin, with less elasticity.  With less collagen and elastin excess fat is able to form into deep furrows and droopy jowls.

A good skincare routine is most important, but doesn’t need to be complicated.  At night time cleanse thoroughly to remove all make-up and grime then apply oil based moisturiser to feed skin whilst you sleep.  In the morning cleanse to refresh and follow with a toner to remove traces of creamy cleanser. Moisturise again for the day with a water based product to lock in existing oils and to prevent dryness and irritation. Dead skin cells and surplus grime can make your skin look dull and prevent helpful products from penetrating your skin.   Once a week exfoliate after cleansing, then rinse off and moisturise immediately.   Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of FLUID each day (water, juice, tea, coffee all count) to help flush out toxins and plump up your skin.  And…why not try the following simple face exercises?

  1. French Connection – to relax jaw and prevent mouth lines

Sit up and look straight ahead. Open mouth wide and say “Uhh”. Next say “Eee” (pull lips back wide towards ears) and now open mouth as big as possible and say “Ahh”.  Repeat these 3 sounds – uhh, eee, ahh 10 times and feel jaw and mouth relax. (Smokers are more at risk of developing vertical mouth lines).

2. Joker – to prevent lines forming and to lift corners of mouth

Openly your mouth slightly, narrow your lips and pull them tightly over your top and bottom teeth. Keep your lips mean and taut and now pull up the corners of your mouth in a joker like smile. Hold for a count of 5.  Repeat 10 times.

3.Bright Eyes Uppersto lift droopy eyelids

Place fore fingers firmly on bone under your eyebrow. Gently push up skin and muscle and work upper eye muscles against the resistance by opening and closing your eyes rapidly 20 times with a fast fluttering movement.

 

  1. The Lion – to energise and invigorate

Place hands on knees and close your eyes. All at the same time simply open your eyes very wide, lift up your hands and spread out fingers – stick tongue out  to touch your chin……and roar like a lion! Now -you’re ready to face the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY FEET

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The average, moderately active person walks around 7,500 steps a day. If they maintain that daily average and live until 80 (that includes me) they will have walked about 216,262,500 steps in their lifetime.  By 80 the average person with average stride will have walked around 110,000 miles, so it stands to reason that feet sometimes develop lumps and bumps as a result of all that activity!

I for one love to dress up and for special occasions pop on fashionable high heels. But those high heels mean our feet are constantly at an angle, which results in a shortening of the calf muscles (back of the lower leg) causing our legs to feel stiff when we take them off.  They also put pressure on the balls of our foot and weaken our ankles. Some shoes, especially fashionable stilettos can exacerbate many common foot complaints. High heels are not for every day if we want our legs, and back, to stay strong and healthy. But are flat shoes any better?  Many have very thin soles and offer our feet and ankles no support, and may change the way we walk, encouraging arches to drop and more strain put on our knees and back.  Badly fitting shoes can exacerbate many common foot complaints.

Up to 50% of women have bunions, which are caused when the bone under the first toe becomes displaced. The big toe tends to shift towards the smaller toes, resulting in a bunion on one side, and over time  two toes become crossed.   When it’s warm, the bunion can swell, become red and tender and this can impact on the way we walk. Don’t wear high heels, pointed toes or restrictive winter boots and shoes, which keep bunions enclosed adding to the pain.  Wear well-fitting shoes or sandals or try padding.

Proper nail care is a must, that bunion can cause an in growing toenail, when the nail literally grows directly into the skin. Often it’s the result of cutting the nail too short and not cutting straight across.  Redness, swelling and pain can  indicate an infection.

Oedema, a build-up of fluid and puffiness of the skin, is common in the feet and ankles, when fluid accumulates under the skin resulting in swelling,often caused by immobility and standing for long periods. Many of us have swollen ankles at the end of a hot day, particularly if we’ve been sitting or standing for a long time. Oedema is often temporary and clears up by itself, or you can help yourself by lying down with your feet up.  Ideally place your legs up on pillows to raise them above your heart, and take a rest. Taking exercise, even brisk walking helps pump fluid from your legs back to your heart, and watching what you eat, following a low-salt diet may reduce fluid build up. If feet and ankles stay swollen see your GP.

EXERCISES FOR THE EYES

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1. Bright Eyes
Look straight ahead keep head still with your chin parallel to floor. Moving your eyes only, first look right and focus, now down to your lap and focus. Look left and focus, and now up to the ceiling and focus. Repeat 5 times with control.
2. Uppers
Without stretching the skin, place your forefingers firmly on your brow bone, (under your eyebrows above the eye socket.) With thumbs on cheeks by ear hold the skin and muscle firmly in place. Working the top muscles only contract your upper eyelids, bringing them down against the resistance. Repeat the movement quickly, 20 times to work the muscles above your eye. (This fast, fluttering movement creates the effect of a 1920’s black and white movie!)
3. Downers
Place your index finger under the centre of the eye, high up on your cheekbone to add resistance. Do not drag or stretch the delicate skin under your eye. Holding the muscle and skin firmly in place on the bone contract and squint up, but only your lower eyelids, 20 times. A small but strong movement. Feel your lower, under eye muscles working.
4. Crows feet
Put the pad of your forefinger on the skin and bone at the outside corner of your eyes. Pull very slightly outwards to create a resistance, but take care not to stretch the skin. Squint hard 20 times and feel the muscles at the side of your eye working against the resistance of your fingers.

 

 

WATCH YOUR WEIGHT AND YOU’LL SPARKLE IN THE FESTIVE SEASON!

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. Well that may be good for the goose but not for us! With the Festive Season fast approaching temptation is never far away with parties and festivities piled high with masses to eat and drink. All signal danger zones if you want fit into that gorgeous party frock! So how can you sparkle and enjoy yourself without appearing a party pooper or
piling on the pounds?

Think ahead at this time of the year and be prepared, because your eating triggers can often be emotional or stress related. Like the pressure on you to eat a specially baked cake you would rather refuse, hundreds of calories flash up their warning signs but you risk offending the cook. So best to accept (small portion please) but limit what else you eat and spread the extra calorie content over the next few days. Identify your triggers. Stress can trigger food temptations, so be aware and be active to take your mind off what’s bothering