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Saturday, 24 January 2015




My Transformation 


trip to India sponsored by ant-ageing centre 
112 Harley Street W1G 7JQ 020 7224 16222

I WENT from this to this in just ten weeks. Here is the story of my amazing journey.

Being no stranger to the gym, and keen on fitness and healthy eating too, I have always considered myself to be fit and to have a reasonably good body.

But there was one area, no matter how hard I tried, that I just could not get results with – my stomach.  I did the usual things most gym guys fall for, such as making my arms and legs as big as I could and going for what they call the ‘rugby player look’.

But when I was mistaken for a professional wrestler at a concert one evening, it dawned on me that maybe the look I had gone for was simply “fat.” Still, I closed my mind to it and just got on with my workouts, adding a bit more cardio. Even though my 34-inch waist started to creep beyond 36, I was still in denial.

The real wake-up call came when I was traveling in India with my friend, actress Denise Welch and her author husband Lincoln Townley. I was there to interview them while they where guests of the renowned Harley Street doctor, Jeya Prakash, at his anti-ageing centre in Chennai. Dr Prakash invited me to undergo the same treatments and tests at the celebrity couple – and what unfolded was life changing.

Dr Prakash is one of the world’s leading experts on anti-ageing and is well known for his cosmetic surgery on the likes of Katie Price. His Chennai practice attracts Bollywood stars and the Indian elite as well as clients from around the world, who travel there to learn how to slow the ageing process – or, in many cases, to actually reverse it.

Denise has always been open about having had work done on her eyes, but she and Lincoln were not in Chennai for cosmetic surgery, more for a general MOT on their bodies and lifestyles, after both having lost parents relatively early in life.

The chance to learn a new lifestyle and undergo intensive testing on their
picture of Denise Welch and Lincoln Townley copyright of jamie Hughes
health as guests of Dr Prakash was an amazing opportunity. Once renowned as heavy-drinking partygoers, the couple had already taken their own first steps towards a healthier lifestyle and had not touched alcohol for two years. Denise had also got into shape by losing two stone with LighterLife, for whom she is a celebrity ambassador.

Staying in the delightful Taj Fisherman’s Cove, we would travel each day into the centre of town just over half an hour away to meet with a team of experts at the wellness centre, which was opened seven years ago and provides a full range of health and age management facilities.

We all took turns to see the various consultants. In my first session I saw Doctor Sharon, a clinical exercise physiologist, who weighed me and measured my height, and was quick to pronounce that I was overweight and needed to loose at least ten pounds.

Having just read an article about a body builder without an ounce of fat being told she was obese according to her BMI, I protested that muscle weighed a lot more than fat. But, yes, after undergoing further tests, including a dexa scan to check bone density and fat percentage, I discovered to my horror that while my muscle was 71% my body fat was 29% - definitely leaning towards obese.

I was horrified. To me, the word obese conjured up an image of a huge blob of a man who could barely move; the sort who would put you off your own food as you watched them stuff their faces at an ‘all you can eat for $10’ buffet in Disneyland.

But I learned that there are two types of fat – the subcutaneous fat that is close to the skin surface and relatively easy to get rid of. I was pretty free of that, but then there is the other sort - the visceral fat that surrounds the organs around the abdominal area, creating a pot belly. And this is what I had.

Picture Copyright Simon Barnes -

I was at a loss to understand how it could have happened – after all, I eat better than most, avoiding red meat, cutting out wheat, replacing my cereal with buckwheat and swapping potatoes for rice. Whatever was going wrong with my body, I couldn’t be accused of not trying to keep fit and well.

After extensive blood tests, the problem was uncovered - my body was turning the male hormone testosterone into estrogen, the female hormone and my adrenal glands where slightly underactive, as was my thyroid.
Once again, I was horrified – and Denise and Lincoln had a laugh about me turning into a woman! But Dr Prakash assured me it was all easily fixable and, at last, it was starting to become clear why I had been unable to lose my belly fat.

The adrenal problem and underactive thyroid were sorted out by supplements that are available from any good health food store. The estrogen problem was trickier. It seemed that the testosterone supplement I had been taking for a number of years, on the advise of doctors, had been turning itself into estragon primarily due to my love of carbohydrates which, when combined with testosterone, simply turn to estrogen.

Looking back, I knew many guys at the gym who worked their socks off on weights and even did a fair amount of cardio but took testosterone, and they had huge arms, equally huge stomachs and ‘man boobs.’
I would see them eating what I thought where healthy carbs.

The first thing Dr Prakash did was to put me on an estrogen-blocker, Tamoxifen, which I was to take three times a week for the first month, then twice a week after that. This would help reduce my estrogen and within a week I noticed a difference, as my body seemed to retain less water and my stomach appeared to shrink before my eyes.

Tamoxifen is used to treat women with breast cancer but in men it blocks estrogen and reduces water gain. However, that on its own was not going to fix the problem. My diet also needed a complete overhaul.

That puzzled me, as I had always taken care to eat healthily. But Dr Prakash explained it was not so much the food but the way I was eating.

First of all, eating a load of carbs as soon as you get up is not necessarily good for you, because and hour later your body is craving even more carbs and sugar.

He suggested I start the day with an egg white omelette with some added vegetables; a full fat yogurt and small amount of fruit, avoiding the sugar fruits such as oranges and strawberries. Instead, choose pomegranate, blueberries, coconut shavings or raspberries. To drink, have green tea.

My first reaction was one of disappointment – what was the point of getting up in the morning if you could not tuck into a lovely bagel, a round of toast or big bowl of cereal? But I gave it a go although I was so tempted to bung the omelette between two delicious slices of toast! I resisted, though, and after the first week the craving for bread subsided.

Dr Prakash’s advice is to avoid anything with the words diet or low fat on it, unless it is naturally low in fat. Anything that has been processed could actually cause weight gain in the long run. I mixed pomegranate seeds with some almonds. Often I would alternate between the yogurt and half an avocado with lemon juice and black pepper.

My usual routine was to get up about six, have breakfast and then hit the gym. After that I would come home and have a snack in the form of a protein drink and some sort of carb.

By the time I went to work I was hungry again and would have a protein bar, coffee or even a sandwich. But with my new way of eating, I didn’t feel that hungry after the gym and opted for fruit instead, such as grapes, melon or pomegranate. Another alternative is almonds and a protein drink (low in sugar and carbs) mixed with water or as a treat mix with almond milk.

A couple of hours later I did not feel the usual hunger, but had room for a few macadamia nuts, and some coconut pieces, and a glass of coconut milk.

By lunchtime I was hungry, but instead of going for something high in carbs, I opted for a salad with salmon or chicken breast. Carbs are best avoided for lunch as they are the reason for the mid-afternoon slump that so many people suffer. If you want some carbs, add a small cup of brown rice or quinoa but stay away from the big bread roll or chips.

I won’t deny that this was hard at first, but Pret A Manger does a great sushi salmon salad and if you add a healthy soup, such as chicken and ginger, with a glass of water and splash of lemon, you’ll feel full and energised and ready for the rest of the day

In the afternoon, I had a few nuts and some pomegranate seeds and plenty of water. In the evening I would have chicken, tuna or salmon with a small cup of brown rice. If I was hungry before bed, then a small cup of almond milk and some cherries helped me sleep. The joy of this eating plan, though, was that I felt tired when I was supposed to be tired - at night - so sleep came naturally.

Once every two weeks, I have a ‘cheat day’ and eat whatever I want. A glass of wine or cocktail every so often won’t kill you either. Not only has the fat disappeared, but my energy levels are up and my skin looks great.

The other area of my life that had to change was my workouts. Previously my training consisted on 10 minutes cardio and 45 minutes weight training. I reckoned that, living in central London, I was walking on average a couple of miles a day and getting all the cardio I needed.

But this was not raising my heart rate – and not burning the fat. So he suggested that I switch to high Intensity interval training, HIIT. You warm up for three minutes, then sprint for 30 seconds and repeat for no more than 20 minutes a day, five times a week.

My knees are weak and sprinting or running is not really possible so Dr Prakash created a treadmill routine that worked for me: three minutes warm-up at, say, 4.5 speed and 4 on resistance then speed up to 6.5 for three minutes, back down for one minute, then up again, higher than the last time, at 7.00 for two minutes, then down again and repeat for twenty minutes.

Sometimes I do the same routine on the bike or cross trainer and it’s amazing how much sweat this simple aerobic exercise produces. Not only has my body shape changed dramatically but, at the age of 53, I was asked to join a model agency, Models of Diversity, and have now appeared in several catwalk shows and fashion house shoots.

picture copyright

Here’s my typical daily menu:

Tea - green tea or ginger and lemon tea. Make your own with fresh lemon and peeled ginger
Omelette made with the whites of four eggs. Add vegetables of choice. Cook in a small amount of olive oil (no butter)
Fruit – a cup of fruit such as blueberry, pomegranate, coconut, grapefruit. Avoid high-sugar oranges, tangerines and strawberries.
Alternate with organic full fat yoghurt. Avoid low or zero fat yoghurt.

An hour or so later, have a snack, such as a handful of almonds, macadamia or cashew nuts, pomegranate, coconut shavings or blueberries.

Tuna salad or chicken breast salad. If the tuna is tinned, make sure it is in spring water rather than oil. For the salad, spinach, watercress, spring onions, beetroot and celery. Use lemon as dressing or a tablespoon of Udo’s oil.

The afternoon snack can be the same as the morning. If you have worked out, have a protein drink with added water rather than milk, unless it is almond milk, or blueberry blended in almond milk.

Chicken or turkey breast with a small portion of brown rice; steamed broccoli with added ginger if desired, or lightly stir fried vegetables.
It is important not to eat after seven in the evening but if you want you can have some cherries before sleep with a small cup of warm almond milk.
Drink at least a litre of water a day.

Copyright Steven Smith 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


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Monday, 5 January 2015



HERE IN the UK the idea of self-help and even alternative medicines are still met with the odd raised eyebrow, often followed by a murmured exhortation to 'get a grip'.

I distinctly remember a friend who was struggling with depression telling me how many people told her she just needed a nice new dress or that she should think of the starving in India. Of course, anyone who has the slightest understanding of mental health would know how unhelpful their words would have been.

For years now I have been vocal about trying other ways to heal and improve yourself. I've participated in many of them, even studying Reiki. But I still suffer from the most common ailment – anxiety – which has recently been identified with a number of phobias, addictions and general mental health problems. If anxiety goes untreated, then other problems that are really a by-product of it may continue to trouble you.

My anxiety manifests itself in panic attacks on escalators or anything that involves heights – the mere mention of the word Shard brings me out in a cold sweat, and and my tube journey has to be planned to avoid high escalators. I can't tell you how often I have taken myself to Piccadilly on my way home to Earl's Court only to turn back and walk down to Embankment because there's no escalator there. Some days I do make it, but my hands will be dripping in sweat.

A chance meeting with Alix Needem at a friend's Harley Street clinic helped put me on the road to recovery. At first she was introduced as a life coach but I'm rather sceptical about such people as it seems anyone can do a quick course and call themselves a life coach, although there are, of course, many good ones around.

But after spending some time with Alix, any scepticism disappeared. She is a qualified teacher and former head of physical education at a school in Shepherd's Bush. By all accounts, the school was not for the faint-hearted but she helped turn round the lives of children there. She became so interested in what she could do to help others that she left to train as one of the first life coaches and now has 25 years of experience behind her, pioneering a unique form of hypnotherapy.

Unlike like many hypnotherapists, Alix is not flashy. She's quite gentle but her approach, which she tailors to each individual, is very much to the point. In the past I have been to a number of practitioners who helped for a while but then the anxiety would return. I told her about my fears and the impact they were having on me and she said she felt sure she could help with her combination technique.

So I found myself in her office near Regent's Park, while Alix explained most phobias or anxieties come from past experiences, some of which we may even have blocked from our subconscious but will come back to haunt us in later life. She asked me about any events in my childhood that might have triggered a height trauma but I couldn't think of anything (my Dad used to dangle me off the edge of Edinburgh Castle, but that was something I really loved).

Alix urged me to concentrate as she was going to put me into a state of hypnosis and use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to reveal the cause of the phobia and help empower me to overcome it. She told me to clear my mind and relax in the chair, which was a bit of a struggle as I was thinking about how pretty her office was and wondering what the ground rent might be! I've always found it tricky when someone tells me to concentrate to clear my mind....

She began to count me back from 100 and although my mind was still on the maintenance fees of the building the next thing I remember was Alix asking me a question. I felt a bit confused, as though I had just woken from a long sleep and almost jumped from my seat. Alix told me to stay with her. Then I had a memory of when I was about five years old, I was climbing a wall and fell. I still have the scar on my right leg.

She told me to take my right fingers and tap the side of my hand, which would let the fear go – after all, it was only a memory stored by a child and I was no longer to hold onto it. Over the next half hour she challenged me to let go of the fears until eventually she brought me back round. It felt wonderful, as though I had done a lovely meditation. But had it worked.

Even on the second day I noticed a considerable difference - the Piccadilly tube station was easy to do and I even chatted to my friend as we went up; usually I'm holding on for dear life if I can make it as far as the escalator. The dreaded Leicester Square later that week was still daunting but, using the touch therapy and telling myself it was all in my head, I was able to go up the escalator. I won't say it was easy, but previously it would have been impossible.

A month later my life has changed. Now I do not have to alter my travel plans to avoid escalators. I may need a top-up treatment, as Alix suggested, as some people need more sessions than others. But the simple fact that I can get the tube and not experience the fear I felt before makes even the one session very well worth it.

Alix will make you feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from you . 

PHONE: +44 (0)20 7935 1965