Zumba yourself slim!

Most New Year ‘must-exercise’ resolutions evaporate fast but there is a really fun way of getting fit. Several colleagues swear that zumba, the dance exercise workout to Latin music, has revolutionised their lives. Jane, 50, has lost over a stone and a half. ‘I haven’t dieted, but it’s really helped to change the way I eat. I’ve stopped snacking and drinking wine in the evenings because I go to zumba classes three times a week instead. I’m back to a size 12, which I haven’t been for years, and my toned thighs are a bonus.’

Catherine, 48, agrees: ‘My whole body is much more toned, particularly my bottom – and it’s such a fun and social way of exercising. I’ve made lots of new friends and we go for coffee after.’

‘It took a few weeks to get the hang of it but now I’m hooked,’ says Catherine. ‘My class is led by an ex-professional ballroom dancer and I’ve learnet the basic steps of all the Latin dances from tango to rumba, just like Strictly. People who prefer less complicated dance steps and a more aerobic workout would be wise to choose a teacher with a fitness instructor background.’

As Jane says, ‘There’s something about dancing that’s not just physical, it lifts your mood.’ So no excuses, just find a zumba class near you, via www.zumba.com, and think how great you’ll look in a bikini!



I love doing this page and never more than when I get emails like this one from a 60-something woman reader ‘Jenny’: ‘ I wrote to you in April 2012 about my problem waking in the night with severe “what’s the point of living?” depression despite a good career, wonderful family and excellent social life. I also had occasional low moments during the day. I was advised [by pharmacist Shabir Daya] to take magnolia rhodiola complex as it could be due to a stressful job. It had a marvellous effect: it must be 15 years since I felt this good.’

Jenny has recommended it to others ‘who have little enthusiasm for daily life, not depressed but with no oomph or joy in anything.  They are all now content and calm with lots of energy, including my daughter who had a mild case of post-natal depression. I wanted to give you this feedback because I am so relieved to have my life back.’

Magnolia extract helps relax muscles and nerves as well as reducing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, according to Shabir Daya. Small trials show it helped most people sleep better.  Rhodiola, an adaptogenic herb (that means it adapts to your need), helps calm the mind and lift mood by increasing levels of the hormone serotonin and theanine, an amino acid derivative.  ‘The supplement helps to relax the mind and body physically, elevate mood and restore sleep cycle times without having sedative properties and often within a few weeks usage.’  NHS-Labs Magnolia Rhodiola Complex, £26 for 60 capsules (dose two daily) from Victoria Health - buy here



Another reader reports good results from accessing ‘talking therapy’ via Skype. The website www.Mootu.com offers a national register of over 100 qualified and accredited therapists, mostly counsellors and psychotherapists with a few psychologists, who offer face-to-face sessions on Skype.  Mootu offers thumbnail profiles plus videos of each practitioner explaining their approach.  Most offer an initial, free, 15-minute session.

Single mother Su Golt, who is in her forties, had ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with chronic depression. ‘Mootu has given me the freedom to choose a therapist anywhere in the country, without having to travel, take time off or pay for childcare.

My therapist provided some really useful insights.  Together we’ve nailed the pattern of behaviour that had me chasing my tail for years and I’m learning to break this cycle.’

Research shows the nature of Skype therapy helps some patients. Psychotherapist Philip Hodson says ‘Being in an environment of [your] choice with greater control over the process apparently makes Skype therapy clients more relaxed and willing to share their fears and concerns’.



Pregnant women with skin problems (such as eczema and psoriasis) often worry about using topical steroids, according to the women's health charity Wellbeing of Women (www.wellbeingofwomen.org.uk).  Their researchers found no evidence these preparations led to harelip, premature birth and stillbirth.  However, women who used large amounts of strong topical steroids had an increased risk of a small baby.  They say mild or moderate formulas are safe in pregnancy but strong ones should be used only if essential and the baby’s weight should be monitored in a specialist obstetric unit.



In this dark month, don’t forget you may be wise to take supplementary vitamin D.  Low vitamin D levels are linked to weak bones and teeth, heart disease, some cancers and neurological problems, and also depression.  I take one squidge of D-Lux 3000 spray daily until spring.  £7.95 for 100 measured doses, from www.victoriahealth.com - buy here