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Celebrity interviews

Ex-England bowler Ryan Sidebottom talks anxiety, cricket and ‘being Beyonce’

Ryan Sidebottom

Ryan Sidebottom, the former England and T20 world-cup winning swing bowler, recently joined Surrey County Cricket Club as a bowling consultant.

The jovial 40-year-old, who lives in Leeds, enjoyed a 20-year professional career before hanging up his cricket boots last year.

‘Siddy’, as he is often affectionately called, was famed for being one of the most renowned bowlers of his generation, taking 1,053 wickets in all formats and retiring with a first-class bowling average of 23.8.

Although the popular Yorkshireman is well known for his cheeky sense of humour, he has experienced bouts of anxiety since packing up the game.

Below, Ryan opens up to Relax Ya Self To Health.

You retired last summer. What have you been up to since then?
Getting my hands dirty and ripping out kitchens. I’ve got a small property business. Each year I buy a house, do it up and sell it on. I also use builders and technical people but try to do as much of the manual stuff, like gutting the insides, myself.

What do you miss about playing professional cricket?
I miss the camaraderie, constantly being around my best mates, getting fired up for a big match and the buzz of playing in front of big crowds. In cricket you have so many emotions. There’s the elation after a win, the adulation of people wanting to sit with you and buy you drinks. After a bad game it can feel as though the world’s ended but at least you experience it as a team and go through the ups and down together. When you retire there’s no adrenaline rush anymore.

How has retirement affected you mentally?
I do have some days where I feel quite worthless and have worries over the future. The anxiousness is always there at the back of the mind but I knew it might happen.

Why’s that?
My dad Arnie, had a 17-year career as a footballer for Manchester United and Huddersfield and then as a cricketer for Yorkshire but couldn’t find a job for a couple of years after he stopped playing. He really struggled with stress and the nervousness of not knowing what the future held as well as trying to support the family.  It’s ironic, as a young boy I’d always worry about my career and if I’d successfully make it as a pro. I put myself under so much pressure and believe this triggered the eczema and psoriasis on my scalp I had at the time. When you’re playing you become insular. Sport is the main focus. Back then I’d stress about having a bad game but now I know there’s more to life.

Ryan Sidebottom

Credit: SW Pix/YCCC

 

How do you cope if you’re feeling down?
I’ll meet a friend for a drink and try and get whatever is bothering me off my chest. I think men struggle with this because of the whole macho attitude but it’s not a weakness to open up and talk to people about how you’re feeling. I also like to escape my thoughts so I’ll get on the bike or go for a walk. I like the outdoors and the sights and sounds of the countryside lift my spirits.

How would you describe your personality? 
It’s changed over the years. When I first started playing I was really introverted, very quiet and insular but the team environment really helped to bring me out of my shell. Now I like a laugh, fun, banter, and practical jokes.

What’s the funniest cricket story from your time on tour?
There are many. In 2008, I was in New Zealand and out for dinner with some of the England cricket boys – Graeme Swann, Ian Bell, Alastair Cook, and James ‘Jimmy’ Anderson. We were going through this stage of playing credit card roulette. This is where you place your card under your napkin. At the end of the meal, the waiter or waitress comes over and picks up the napkins one by one and the entire bill is paid on the card that’s uncovered last.  On this particular night, Graeme ended up eating my entire fillet steak. On seeing this, the waitress brought me another but I was too busy talking to Alastair. Then Graeme shoved the second one in his mouth! Of course, I lost at credit card roulette as well. So not only did I have to pay the bill for all the boys, I was bloody starving too.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I like fancy dress. Some years ago I was on Question of Sport and did a Beyonce mystery guest appearance. I was wearing some really tight shorts, a vest, a wig and lipstick and was dancing to ‘put a ring on it’ [Single Ladies] I love dancing and letting my hair down.

Ryan Sidebottom

Credit: SW Pix/YCCC

Speaking of your hair, it’s been a talking point over the years. It even has its own nickname, doesn’t it?
Yes. Darren Gough named me ‘Sexual Chocolate’ after the fictional band in the 1988 film Coming to America with Eddie Murphy and it stuck with me. I’m quite a poser. I love my products. I’ve got my Frizz Ease and am still very much attached to my toiletries bag. A few years ago, when I was playing for Notts, the physio stole it. We were playing away at Kent so a teammate and I put his car on bricks. He rang me about 100 times. I told you I was a practical joker!

Oh no, did you get the wash bag back?
It was never to be seen again. I had a right sweat on.

So, what’s your idea of a perfect holiday?
Somewhere I can unwind. I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to travel the world and see beautiful places – Sri Lanka is stunning. I like the beauty of Thailand. I usually travel around, hire a car, visit sites and take in the scenery. One day we went to an ancient Buddhist temple in a cave.  There were loads of monkeys around and one stole my ice cream!

You seem quite into nature…
Yes. I live a couple of miles from the shops so I’ll always try and cycle overtaking the car. I’m also lucky to live in the countryside with really nice walks and trails. It helps keep me fit.  When I was playing I used to do lots of weights, running, and gym work and towards the last five years of my career I took up yoga to help with flexibility and longevity. Now I do an hour-long class locally with a lady called Louisa Thomas.  I still also do light weights to keep me ticking over but I’ve barely been to the gym since I stopped playing. I don’t have that drive anymore probably because I did it for so long. Diet-wise, I try to follow the 80:20 rule although I do love fish and chips, KFC and takeaways!

You’ve just joined Surrey County Cricket Club as a mentor? Tell us more about that.
Yep. It’s great to be back in the game and I can’t wait to get out there working with the boys. I’ll be assisting bowling coach Geoff Arnold for the first half of the Specsavers County Championship season. I’ll be working with the squad on and directly before match days. It’s going to be interesting working with the team in the run up to a match but not actually playing myself. It’s a fantastic club. Hopefully, I can bring my experience to help support the team and staff as we target some silverware.

If you enjoyed this interview you might also like to read our other chats with Jonny WilkinsonPat CashKatie Piper , Andrew Barton and  Gail Porter  

If you’re a fan of Ryan, please share this post, comment below and check out his website here: https://www.ryansidebottom.co.uk/

 

Celebrity interviews, In the news

A-list hairdresser Andrew Barton talks adoption, happiness and Ibiza

Celeb hairdresser Andrew Barton talks adoption

Andrew Barton is a breath of fresh air. The British hairdressing icon, best known for his role as resident hair expert on hit TV show Ten Years Younger, may count a string of A-list celebrities among his clientele but he’s as down to earth as the next man and exudes enough warmth to melt an igloo.

As soon as I arrive at Urban Retreat, a luxury hair and beauty destination inside Harrods, the critically acclaimed hairdresser wraps me in a generous hug before proceeding to show me around the impressive facilities in which he works as creative director. It’s a magical place. There’s a Moroccan spa, separate hair, nail, and beauty treatment sections, and a retail emporium featuring both exclusive and established brands. No wonder Barton has a smile on his face. His energy is contagious.

The 50-year-old, who also has a successful signature haircare range at Asda and operates a hair consultancy business, is clearly passionate about what he does. Nonetheless ‘Barty’, as he is known to friends, is the first to point out that things could have turned out differently if he hadn’t been adopted at the age of four months old and brought up in a loving environment.

Below The Prince’s Trust and CoramBAAF Adoption & Fostering Academy patron tells Relax Ya Self To Health why he’ll always remain true to his working-class roots, how he finds moments of calm in his hectic schedule and why Ibiza holds a special place in his heart.

Andrew Barton talks adoption with Helen Gilbert

We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again. You really are a breath of fresh air. You seem so happy and light. What’s your secret?
It’s just who I am and part of that is to do with the fact that I feel blessed and grateful for being adopted as a baby by an incredible family that naturally weren’t mine but became mine. As soon as we [Barton’s brother was also adopted] were old enough to understand, our parents explained that we were special and had been chosen. We grew up believing that which helped me embrace it and not feel uncomfortable about it. My life may have been very different without adoption. We’re a close-knit family. My mother was an incredible woman. I lost her seven years ago and it breaks my heart every day. I miss her because she was my best friend as well as my mum.

Did you always want to be a hairdresser?
I didn’t always know what I wanted to do. At school, I wasn’t that academic but I was good at design, art and creative things. At first, I wanted to be a surface pattern designer working with fabric. Then the working class lad in me that kicked in. My dad was a miner who worked in the pits and I grew up on a council estate. At 16 I decided I wanted to get a job and earn my own money so I got an apprenticeship in a hairdressing salon. Very quickly I realised that hair is art. It is design, imagery, and creativity. I’ve become that surface pattern designer only I work with a different surface.

What’s the funniest hairdressing situation you’ve found yourself in?
[Laughing] A client bringing in an Afghan hound that had long shaggy hair and saying “this is exactly the length, the colour and the texture that I want my hair to be.”

How would you describe your personality?
I’m very proud of being a Yorkshireman and I think we have a reputation for being quite down to earth. I recently had a meeting with a lawyer regarding my will. As I was leaving the office he asked me if there was anything else I’d like to say. I replied: “As long as it says on my gravestone ‘well he worked hard’ that is the biggest compliment to me.” My parents instilled into me the power of graft and hard work.

Celeb hairdresser Andrew Barton talks adoption

What’s the hardest thing you’ve overcome in your life?
Being bullied at school. Some of it was around adoption and I was kind of the darkest skinned child in the village I grew up in so was bullied for that too.

What’s your favourite motto?
To never accept OK as a standard – the woman who trained me up as an apprentice hairdresser taught me that. I’m quite tough on myself but that’s been a real driving force for me professionally.

Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I don’t know if I want to [Laughing]

Why do you love your job?
It’s the power of transformation. Not only changing how somebody looks but how they feel about themselves as well. It’s that smile when they see their hair after I’ve finished it.

Why is it important to follow your dreams?
It’s about fulfilment and being happy in what I do. As I’ve got older my goal is about having the choice to do what I want, how I want, with whom I want, and when I want. I like to have the choice – whether that’s working 16 days of 16 hours shifts or enjoying some downtime.

Do you enjoy exercise?
Yes. I do some form of exercise every day. It’s a routine I don’t have in my working life. I train for fitness reasons but also work in a business based on image and have to look good – I’ve still got the same waist size I had when I was 20 and quite like that. I do a combination of yoga, swimming, training for a marathon and weightlifting. Exercise sets me up for the day, it helps me to escape a little bit and kind of forget some of my responsibilities. It’s me time.

How do you stay balanced?
I’m very disciplined around diary structure and I’m a big note maker – I write everything down which I find helps. Reading, socialising with friends cooking, exercise, holidays… I need to make sure that there’s always some time away from my profession and my work. Running is like meditation for me and propels me to a different place. I live in central London, not far from St Paul’s Cathedral. I often run by the River Thames early in the morning. It’s great to see the mist rising over the water, the foxes or wild geese. You’re away from the noise but in London. I still pinch myself that I live in one of the world’s most exciting vibrant incredible cities.

Andrew Barton talks adoption

What’s your idea of a perfect holiday?
I lived in Australia in my early twenties so part of my soul is in Perth on the West Coast where my sister and great friends are. The light’s incredible there. Ibiza’s very special to me too. I married my husband just outside San Jose eight years ago. We rented a beautiful old farmhouse, which had its own forest with views down to the ocean. We’ve been going to Ibiza for 15 years but I’ve only been to the clubs maybe twice. I love the nature, flowers and fauna of the island. We usually rent an old Finca up in the north and hardly leave. My ultimate holiday destination – and I’ve been very blessed to visit eight times – is the Maldives. It’s just pure escapism. It’s not for everybody. Your resort is the island and you can walk around it in 30 minutes. I just walk one way and then walk back the other way. I’m not a city break type person. I like being outside in nature.

You’re launching an exhibition in your native Barnsley next month called Beehives, Bobs and Blowdries. Can you tell us a bit more?
Yes. It charts the historical, cultural and iconic references of hair and hairdressing over the last 50 years. I’ve collaborated with my friend Donna Bevan, who is a fashion research consultant and journalist. We grew up together on the same council estate and her mother was the local village hairdresser who did my mother and grandmother’s hair every Friday.  When I finished school on a Friday afternoon, I used to see them being transformed from these working-class women into Elizabeth Taylor. It was just incredible! That’s when my interest in creative design began.

Beehives, Bobs and Blowdries runs from 17 February – 7 April 2018 at The Civic, Barnsley

If you liked our chat with Andrew Barton, you might also be interested in our other celebrity interviews with Jonny Wilkinson, Pat Cash, Katie Piper and Gail Porter 

Were you adopted or are you thinking of adopting a child? We’d love to hear how adoption transformed your life in the comments below.

 

 

Celebrity interviews

Pat Cash talks Coco, reiki and his pneumonia scare

Pat Cash talks Coco, reiki and his penumonia scare

Pat Cash, the former Wimbledon champion and coach of world No.10 Coco Vandeweghe turns 53 this year but is busier than ever. “I still feel as though I’m in my forties despite a few recurring injuries over the years,” he laughs. Ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on Monday, the famous Melburnian talks us through his hectic schedule, how it feels to be a grandpa again for the third time and what he does to nourish his mind, body and soul.

What are you doing work-wise at the moment?
I’m super busy just now. My main focus is on coaching Coco, who’s a fantastic athlete with unbelievable potential. She finished number 10 in the world in 2017 – her highest ranking yet. We have set goals for 2018 and as a team, we continue to refine her game. I’m very excited to be working with her as she has what it takes to get right to the top. I also continue to commentate at various high profile events including Mubadala in Abu Dhabi, and Grand Slams like Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

Do you still play?
I play a few exhibition and Legends events around the world with guys like John McEnroe, Mats Wilander and Henri Leconte. They’re great fun. I’m definitely more of a doubles player now than singles – what a difference 30 years makes! It was quite amusing at the recent Hopman Cup event in Perth when the organisers asked me to step in when Jack Sock, Coco’s mixed doubles partner, was injured. I managed to win a few games against Team Japan. It was fun.

How would you describe your personality?
I don’t take life too seriously. It’s important to find the fun and enjoy it. I’m very privileged in that I get to travel the world with a group of talented people and stay involved in a sport I love.

What’s your favourite motto?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. The ego says ‘once everything falls into place I will have peace’ but the spirit says ‘find your peace and everything will fall in to place’. I tend to think forgiveness is the answer to many – if not all – problems in life. Both forgiveness of others and, importantly, forgiveness of yourself.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I’m a Reiki Master.

Pat cash talks Coco, reiki and his skin cancer scare

You’re in amazing shape for a grandpa – what’s your secret?
Yes, I’m now a grandad for the third time. It’s amazing to welcome another mini Cash into the family and she’s a little stunner, although I could be slightly biased! I work hard to stay in shape and ensure I eat properly. It’s a dangerous delusion to think you can eat whatever you want and remain fit and healthy. I’ve been following a ketogenic diet for over 18 months now and feel great. It’s a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet. It suits me perfectly as I love butter, cream, bacon, eggs and other fatty meats. When you consume these types of food your body produces ketones which is an alternative energy source to glucose and fuels the body more efficiently.

Is this diet difficult to maintain when you’re on the road?
Yes. I’m travelling 30 weeks a year. Pruvit makes a range of drinks full of ketones so I drink these to ensure my body remains in a ketogenic state even when I’ve had a few carbs. The product’s not yet available in the UK but I’ve been trialling it for a while and will shortly be posting the results over on my website.

How do you stay balanced?
I make time to exercise. This is either a casual hit or a session in the gym where I do a lot of flexibility work on the old beaten up body. I regularly do yoga, feldenkriase and gyrotonic training (a combination of yoga, dance, tai chi and swimming).

What’s your favourite way to calm the mind?
I’m a big believer in the benefits of daily meditation. It’s the first thing I do every morning for 30 minutes. It’s an amazing habit to get into and really sets me up for the day ahead. Spiritual practice has been my greatest help and I’ve attended some great workshops. 11-11 The Divine Mindset is a truly amazing course. Every day I read Dr Helen Schucman’s ‘A Course in Miracles’. There’s one lesson per page so it’s easy to read and reflect upon. Both of these have helped me enormously in terms of ‘tuning in’ and becoming more peaceful within. I don’t really like to use the word mindful but you get the idea. I use these practices a lot in my daily life and even in my tennis coaching.

You won Wimbledon in 1987. What was the most stressful thing about being on tour?
It takes its toll on your body and the mind gets tired. An individual sport like tennis is especially tough. In my day there was no team or group of managers to get you on the bus, sort your boarding pass out, book taxis at the other end or support you when you screwed up in life or on the field. Saying that I was pretty cutting edge back then. In fact, I had a part-time trainer Dr Ann Quinn with me. She was the first of her kind on tour. People were wondering who the hell this person was let alone a woman hanging around the men’s locker room door especially back in the mid-eighties. But she was the best in the world and I credit her with my success. Understandably the training facilities on tour now are outstanding so it’s a doddle at keeping fit in comparison to back then.

What are your favourite ways to relax and why? 
Hitting the beach and swimming in the water. I’d do it regularly if I could. This allows time for me to think – and sometimes not to think – whatever the case may be. I think we underestimate how valuable that is.

What’s the worst illness/health problem you’ve ever had to deal with?
I’ve been very lucky as far as illnesses are concerned although I did have some skin cancer cut out when I was in my late thirties that was thankfully found early. In recent years I caught two bad chest infections both from long-haul plane flights. One was pneumonia which was nasty but I recovered after a while. And I’ve had numerous surgeries on various body parts – no surprise for a pro athlete – only Germany’s Tommy Haas has had more. Our bodies are always communicating with us, we just need to train the brain to listen and recognise the signs. It’s important to know when to put the pedal to the metal and when to back off, then actually do it. Now I don’t need to push too hard – I’m better at listening.

What’s your idea of a perfect holiday?
It would be somewhere I can relax, get some exercise and not feel as though I have to constantly throw myself into a social scenario. I tend to seek out sunny climates and nature so most likely a beach…I guess that’s what living in London does to you!

For more of Pat’s tennis, health and wellbeing tips check out his website: https://www.patcash.co.uk

Enjoyed this post? Check out our other interviews with Jonny Wilkinson, Katie Piper, Gail Porter and James Duigan.

*Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice from your doctor before starting any type of diet, introducing supplements or trying new forms of exercise. The content on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

 

Celebrity interviews, Tennis

Katie Piper talks anxiety, babies and self-care

Katie Piper What's In My Head

Katie Piper is blooming in every way. The 33-year-old, who is expecting her second child this Christmas and recently launched a maternity collection, has just announced her debut ‘What’s in My Head’ 2018 theatre tour.

Next February marks ten years since the former model had acid thrown over her. In that time Katie, who is married to Richard Sutton and has a three-year-old daughter Belle, has overcome personal battles with anxiety, endured endless plastic surgery, and become a TV presenter, speaker, charity campaigner and author of three best-selling books.

Inspirational Katie believes that in an era of glossy magazines, Instagram filters and app dating, remaining in touch with reality has never been harder. Now she plans to open her own diaries, photo albums, and personal memories in an intimate and revealing talk about her life. The theatre tour, which opens in Andover on 13 March 2018, will reveal how she handled the crippling clutches of anxiety and explain that no matter how big or small challenges might seem, there is always a confident way forward.

“Help people with their anxiety and depression battles”

“I am constantly inundated with letters and people asking me, ‘how can I get through this?’ she says. “So I thought, if I can take a show in to the theatres and go out on the road, it would be great to help people. I’ll be sharing parts of my journey, but it’s not just about me re-telling my story word for word. Hopefully it will be uplifting and help people how have their own battles with anxiety and depression and whatever they are going through.”

Katie very kindly made time in her busy schedule to talk to Relax Ya Self To Health about babies, holidays, exciting new projects and, of course, how she loves to unwind.

YOU’LL SOON BE A MUM OF TWO. HOW EXCITED ARE YOU ALL?
We’re all REALLY excited. It’s so lovely as Belle is at an age where she understands what’s going on and tells everyone ‘I’m going to be a big sister’ all the time. It’s very sweet, although she’s likely to be a bit jealous. I know she’s going to love being an older sister too, as she’s always got her toy baby and pram with her and has been telling everyone that she is pregnant too throughout my pregnancy!

HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR HEALTH THIS TIME ROUND?
I had quite a lot of morning sickness at the beginning and am getting tired more easily now I’m in my third trimester, but I’m definitely more laid back now it’s the second time around as I know what to expect. It is harder looking after an active child now as well though.

WHAT HEALTH LESSONS DID YOU LEARN WHEN YOU WERE PREGNANT WITH BELLE?
With my last pregnancy I worked right up until Belle was born and I plan to do the same this time around, but I will always listen to my body and the health of both myself and the baby absolutely takes priority. This time around I feel like I know what to expect a bit more, so I feel more prepared which is nice.

 

Daisy Printed Belted Midi Swing Dress, Katie Piper Maternity Collection

HOW WELL DO YOU COPE WITH STRESS?
My ultimate stress buster is exercise. I love working out and going for a run – that always makes me feel better.

HOW DO YOU MAKE TIME TO RELAX WITH A TODDLER AND HECTIC WORK SCHEDULE?
I’m really organised and am always on it with the diary and calendar! I do find it quite hard to relax as I’m always so busy but I would usually do some exercise or I love to go on long walks and bike rides with my husband and daughter. For me it’s all about balance, so I always make sure I’ve got plenty of time with my family. I am really lucky to have an amazing husband and family around me, but if I didn’t, I would make sure I made time for myself to recharge, even if it was just ten minutes in the evening relaxing in a bubble bath!

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND INVEST IN YOURSELF AS A PERSON?
Self-care is so important. For me, if my body is telling me I need to slow down, I will. So have the confidence to invest in yourself and take care of both your physical and mental wellbeing.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Positive, ambitious and caring.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MOTTO?
Confidence is the secret

ARE YOU TAKING THINGS EASY ON THE WORK FRONT DUE TO THE IMMINENT ARRIVAL?
I haven’t slowed down just yet. The baby is due at Christmas time so that’s going to be a busy time. Work-wise, I’ve just announced my debut theatre tour and I’m extremely excited about that. It will be wonderful to get a chance to connect with my fans on a more intimate level! I have also recently launched my maternity collection with Want That Trend.Com  which has been amazing, as during my previous pregnancy I really struggled to find affordable maternity wear that I genuinely liked. So this time around I wanted to provide a maternity collection that gave all pregnant women the chance to feel good about themselves no matter what the occasion – be that a party, picking up the kids from school, or even on Christmas Day.

Katie Piper Blue Bardot Twist dress

 

ULTIMATE HOLIDAY DESTINATION?
I’ve just got back from Dubai. That was amazing and it is certainly up there but my favourite place and one I’ve been lucky enough to visit is Mauritius. It was total paradise – lovely weather and people. I’d love to go again!

ACTION PACKED CITY BREAK, FAMILY TRIP WITH OTHER PARENTS AND KIDS OR A CHILLED BEACH VIBE?
That’s a difficult one because I like the sound of all of the above. I recently went to Barcelona with a friend and our daughters and had so much fun. I love cosmopolitan cities. But at the same time I love the beach and tropical islands and it’s always lovely to get away for some much needed relaxation – not that you have much time to relax with a three year old to run after!

ULTIMATE PAMPERING WEEKEND?
It would have to be a spa break with some girlfriends, staying overnight so we can all relax in big, fluffy dressing gowns and have a good old catch up after a pamper session.

 

Katie Piper What's In My Head

 

If you liked our interview with Katie, be sure to check out  celebrity interviews with rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson, and  TV personality Gail Porter here.

Tickets for Katie Piper’s ‘What’s in My Head’ theatre tour are available from www.katiepiperandyou.co.uk
Katie’s maternity collection can be found here: www.wantthattrend.com/katie-piper-maternity

Celebrity interviews

Gail Porter talks hair loss and hope

Gail Porter talks hair loss and hope

Gail Porter was working as a successful TV presenter filming Dead Famous in Las Vegas when her hair fell out overnight. The year was 2005 and the then 34-year-old had taken a shower when she became aware of water rising around her ankles.

“I looked down and realised it wasn’t the water, but all of my hair,” she tells Relax Ya Self To Health. “It was pretty much instantaneous.” The former lads’ mag favourite was diagnosed with a form of alopecia – a condition thought to be sparked by an immune disorder that causes the body to view hair follicles as the enemy and mistakenly attack them resulting in hair loss.

Understandably, the experience “crushed” Gail’s self-esteem and when her eyebrows and lashes disappeared too she was left feeling “rubbed out”. As part of Alopecia Awareness Month, the Scot, who is mum to Honey, 14, talks us through how she has dealt with the diagnosis, the stoic attitude of her family and how her semi-permanent tattooed eyebrows have helped restore her confidence.

WHAT TYPE OF ALOPECIA DO YOU HAVE?
I have alopecia totalis. Even my lashes and brows are affected, which I don’t think people realise. You feel as though you’ve been rubbed out when those features disappear. I have no hair anywhere on my body apart from a couple of baby lashes that come and go sporadically.

HOW DID YOU TAKE THE NEWS?
It was overwhelming at first. Telling my daughter I’d be coming home from America with no hair was hard. I thought she wouldn’t recognise me, she was only three at the time. I try to be strong, but obviously, it’s still hard. My self-esteem was crushed…you know, as a woman without hair. It is so difficult.

WERE YOU TOLD WHAT TRIGGERED YOUR ALOPECIA?
Well, it’s an autoimmune disease…I don’t know what caused me to lose my hair, I really don’t. Perhaps stress, but I’ve never really thought it was. I always say everyone in London would be bald if it was just down to stress. Some cases of alopecia are hereditary, which again, wasn’t true in my case. That’s quite frustrating in itself, the not knowing. I think it’s simply bad luck, and I pulled the short straw.

DID YOUR BIPOLAR DIAGNOSIS COME AFTER THE ALOPECIA?
I was diagnosed as bipolar years before my hair loss. It didn’t come as too much of a surprise as I was always suffering from manic highs and lows. I was sectioned in 2011 after a manic episode. I was feeling very low and my boyfriend at the time was worried I would do something silly. Instead of talking to me, he called the police and they turned up when I was out having lunch. I didn’t react kindly and was rather abusive. They took me to the hospital and put me in a room, where I stayed for hours. By the time the doctor turned up, I was very unhelpful and angry. They asked for my boyfriend to sign a form to section me, which he did. I had no say in the matter. I didn’t see a doctor for days and once they eventually arrived, they let me out as they didn’t believe I should have been sectioned. While I was sectioned, I was just pumped full of drugs and had no one to talk to. No help at all.

Gail Porter with microblading expert Karen Betts

HOW SUPPORTIVE WERE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABOUT YOUR ALOPECIA DIAGNOSIS?
My family were very typically Scottish! Very stoic. My mum was pretty upset but tried not to show it. I think she felt like I had been through such a lot and she felt that losing my hair was another blow. She used to put her hand over my forehead and say “now there’s my Gail”. My brother pointed out that my dad had more hair than me. I know mum was upset as I did a documentary about my condition and when she was interviewed without me there, she cried. My dad didn’t say much. They just needed time to get used to it.

WHY DO YOU REFRAIN FROM WEARING WIGS OR HEADSCARVES?
Look, you’ve got to do whatever makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. I never really liked wigs…they were uncomfortable to wear, it just didn’t feel right. The thing that made such a huge difference for me was getting my brows back through microblading! You don’t realise how much of a difference brows make to a person’s face.

WHAT DID YOU HAVE DONE EXACTLY?
The procedure took about an hour. A tool which has up to 11 hair-fine ink-dipped microblades was brushed over my brow area and these penetrated the lower layers of the skin to create semi-permanent marks resembling eyebrows. I first had them done a year ago and recently had them topped up. I was always dubious about someone going near my face…but Karen Betts (a leading permanent cosmetic and microblading expert) is incredible. I trusted her. My eyebrows look so natural, I love them so much. I burst into tears of joy when I first saw them.

HOW ARE YOU DOING NOW AND HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED SINCE BEING DIAGNOSED?
You know what I’m doing okay – my life has changed massively. Of course, it has. My career changed overnight. But I always say, people are in worse situations than me. People everywhere have it hard, or they’re going through something terrible. You just have to be kind to everyone.

WHERE ARE YOU AT YOUR HAPPIEST?
In Scotland. Home always makes me happy.

HOW DO YOU RELAX?
Nowadays I’m very into my fitness – I love running, I always try to drink loads of water. I’m writing my book right now so that’s been an incredibly cathartic experience for me. I don’t go on holiday much but I remember going to the Maldives and feeling so incredibly relaxed. I slept well, loved the peace and quiet and could have stayed there forever. But to be honest, I’m happy on any holiday. The west coast of Scotland is always a total joy.

ALOPECIA AWARENESS MONTH: HELP SPREAD THE WORD
According to Alopecia UK,  1.3million people in the UK today will have had, currently have or will experience alopecia areata – a condition which causes patchy hair loss and affects both genders equally. (Alopeica totalis is a more advanced form which results in total loss of hair on the scalp). The charity is seeking to tackle the stigma and embarrassment attached to hair loss and is urging people to use the #GetTalking hashtag in the hope, it will encourage those that would benefit from some peer support to reach out and start the conversation.

“We want to help give those who are affected the confidence to know that hair loss isn’t something they should feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about,” says Amy Johnson, Alopecia UK’s communications and fundraising manager. “We hope that the more alopecia is discussed, and the more awareness raised, the easier it will be for those diagnosed.

“If the idea of talking to family and friends about your hair loss makes you feel anxious, consider talking to others with alopecia first. Peer support can make such a difference and can really help to boost self-esteem and confidence, perhaps allowing you to talk more widely about your alopecia at a later stage.”

To raise awareness about alopecia please SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #GetTalking

If you enjoyed our chat with Gail, be sure to check out our other celebrity interviews with rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson here and wellness guru James Duigan here.

For more information on microblading and semi-permanent make up with Karen Betts visit www.karenbetts.co.uk

For information about alopecia, including details of how to find support visit  alopecia.org.uk

 

Celebrity interviews, In the news

JAMES DUIGAN: HOW TO HANDLE STRESSFUL MOMENTS

James Duigan

Wellness guru James Duigan has forged a career out of doing what he loves. It’s been a decade since the Bodyism founder and celebrity trainer began spreading his Clean & Lean philosophy.

But it hasn’t always been plain-sailing for the father of two, who counts the likes of Elle Macpherson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Lara Stone, among his advocates.

The Australian knows what it’s like to be homeless. And he “threw up every day for six months” after enduring the heartache of watching his father pass away in his arms.

Here, James tells Relax Ya Self To Health how he copes with stress and how there are lessons to be learned in every situation.

JAMES, YOU ALWAYS APPEAR SO LAID BACK. WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?
Haha. I’m not sure about that. I think I probably present a calm exterior. I’m shy by nature. I’m a human being after all so I do suffer from worry and I get anxious every now and then.

HOW DO YOU COPE WITH STRESS?
I’ve found that having a calm exterior is a great way of massaging yourself into a calm interior. My default reaction to things is to take a breath, maintain a calm face and understand that drama in a situation doesn’t help ever. This helps keep things in perspective. I’m lucky, it’s kind of my default setting. Any time I’ve ever given in to worry, overreacted or lost my temper, it’s never worked that well. There’s a great saying that goes: ‘My life has been full of disasters and calamities, most of which never happened.’

WHAT’S BEEN THE MOST FRIGHTENING MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE?
I’ve been homeless, afraid and hungry. When I first got to London at the age of 21 I had 50 dollars and a sleeping bag. With hindsight, it wasn’t the greatest of plans. For two months I slept in bus stations, on night buses and searched bins for food. I was lucky though, I was just having a tough time. I wasn’t suffering from a mental illness and was able to pull myself out of it. One day I scraped together some money to buy a suit that smelled like garbage from a second-hand shop. I put cardboard in the bottom of some old shoes that I found and went for a job interview at Harrods. I got the job. It was so good to get that first pay cheque. Now, whenever I’m in a difficult situation I think at least I have a roof over my head.

AND THE MOST STRESSFUL?
My dad passing away from lung cancer.  He died in my arms and there was no way for me to make that OK or find anything good about it at all. I felt a huge amount of shame and guilt that I couldn’t save him, so dealing with that and letting it go was a big thing. I threw up every morning for six months. I just got up and did that. I was devastated by grief. At the same time, I found out that a friend had been stealing from me. I felt betrayed humiliated and stupid.

HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH THAT PERIOD?
It’s a bit of a blur but I remembered the things that I’d say to other people. Be kind to yourself and let go of shame. I used them as mantras. I kept it simple. I exercised every day, and didn’t fall into abusive eating patterns, or numb myself with any drug. I thought hold steady, do these things because you know they’re good. That’s all I knew.  A couple of years later, I found a lesson and gift in losing my dad. It made me become so much more present with my own children and so much more grateful for every moment I’ve got in the world. It made me more committed and aware of my own health. It’s given me a really powerful ‘why’ and reason to stay healthy.

YOUR BODYISM EMPIRE IS EXPANDING AT AN ASTONISHING RATE.  SURELY, THIS CAN BE STRESSFUL AT TIMES?
Stress is a fact of life now. Unless we can all retire, go live on a hill and go play guitar to each other we’re gonna have jobs, we’re gonna have kids, we’re gonna have things that stress us out. For me, it’s less about avoiding stress and more about coping, dealing with it and having strategies to help. I eat foods that really make me feel good and work for me rather than foods that are addictive and poisons as this makes me so much better able to deal with stuff. I don’t numb myself with alcohol or drugs. I’m much more present to things. It’s all simple stuff. It’s funny when people question it and ask ‘Isn’t it boring without alcohol?’ I’m like, ‘Holy s*** you just don’t get it. The world’s amazing. Why would you numb yourself to it?’ Boring is having to have a drink in order to loosen up.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
I exercise every day. Movement is medicine. I do yoga or lift weights. If I’m by the ocean, I’ll go for a swim or surf. The sea calms me down. When I’m in London I’ll go for a walk in the park. I also spend an hour and a half each week doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu with people who try to choke me [laughing] but it keeps me completely present because while that’s happening I just can’t think about anything else. So it’s like meditation. It’s so liberating for me.

DESCRIBE YOUR ULTIMATE BLISSED OUT DAY?
I’m grateful for every day, I genuinely am. My absolute happiest moments are with my children. They take me to a place I didn’t know existed, I just love being with them but then I get so much joy from what I do for work. That comes to this place that I create where people are treated well and happy. My job is to help people, I can’t imagine anything better. This is a dream.

WHAT IS BODYISM?
Bodyism the idea that we can change people’s lives and remind them to be kind to themselves. We nourish them through movement, through food, through how they think, and through what they say. It’s beautiful and it’s growing wonderfully. We’ve got our beautiful flagship studio in Notting Hill, London and a number of others including the Maldives. We’ve already started building Miami. It’s amazing, an absolutely breathtaking dream come true.

FINALLY, ARE THERE ANY BOOKS THAT HAVE CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
As a kid, I read a book called The Celestine Prophecy. It spoke about the energy in the world that we don’t see and it really opened my eyes that there might be more than what we just see and feel. I loved that book. Another author who interests me is Louise Hay. She talks about physical things that might have an emotional or spiritual cause. Simon Sinek, is a fantastic guy and brilliant speaker who explains how you’ve got to focus on why you do what you do. It’s transformative and inspirational for me.

Celebrity interviews, Wellness

JONNY WILKINSON REVEALS HOW HE UNWINDS

Jonny Wilkinson
©Marius Bukis

Rugby icon Jonny Wilkinson, CBE, the former international fly-half, who kicked the last minute drop goal that would seal England’s victory over Australia in the 2003 World Cup, is widely regarded as one of the sport’s best players of all time.

The 37-year-old hung up his boots almost three years ago but throughout his career struggled with self-criticism, anxiety and depression.

Here, Jonny, an ambassador for Puressentiel, a natural healthcare brand formulated with natural ingredients, tells Relax Ya Self to Health how he has found a life of balance and contentment since retiring.

 

WHY IS RAISING AWARENESS AROUND MENTAL HEALTH SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I’ve suffered from depression throughout my life. For me, there is no such thing as weakness or strength in talking about feelings or problems. In fact, there is only one thing that is important, which is living life to the full and being able to fully express yourself.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL?
For me, this means joy, peace, passion, connection, inspiration, spontaneity, challenge, opportunity, revelation, learning, and growth. If there is anything that is stopping me from living life this way or any time that I feel the opposite then I definitely seek help by talking about it and challenging it in order to find helpful perspectives and different interpretations that get me back to my best as soon as possible.

CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE JONNY WILKINSON FOUNDATION?
I am building a foundation that aims to reduce the negative stigma attached to the apparent ‘weakness’ involved in talking about feelings and support people in uncovering their true potential. Saying that, I know that, at its worst, it is in no way just as simple as asking people to talk about their issues and feelings. Sometimes that can make it a lot worse.

HOW CAN PEOPLE HELP THOSE WHO ARE STRUGGLING?
The key for me has always been a lack of judgement from others. When people have space in their own values and being they can offer pure unconditional support. In my eyes, offering your own beliefs from your own reality to ‘correct’ someone who is struggling so badly in theirs was and always will be a dangerous game. The Jonny Wilkinson Foundation aims to positively impact the cause, treatment, prevention, understanding, education and support of mental health issues and those affected. We are in the process of researching and refining the philosophy at the heart of the mission and developing the delivery strategy to ensure we make the greatest difference to as many people as possible.

HOW DO YOU RELAX?
An amazingly powerful relaxation technique I use is slow walking. I often head out into the countryside. Slow walking makes it almost impossible for the mind to work quickly and shifts my energy vibration. It’s a phenomenal way to rebalance and find a higher perspective. By relaxing joints and muscles and just letting the arms hang, I gain a sense of control and suddenly helpful solutions to any problems just seem to appear. I use the same state of being when I sit down to eat. This relaxation allows for greater digestion and cellular function. When I was playing I used to eat standing up or moving around whilst packing my bag, thinking about the game etc. I don’t think this brought out the best in me or my performance.

WHY DO YOU LIKE THE OUTDOORS?
I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors and sunlight is hugely important for me for Vitamin D production, boosting mood and for synchronising biorhythms throughout the body. It’s not surprising considering the role the sun plays in the survival of life on our planet that we should be connected in such ways. However, the risks of too much powerful sun exposure are well documented and need to be hugely respected.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER TECHNIQUES YOU’VE FOUND USEFUL FOR STILLING THE MIND?
Guided meditation. This simply means that you’re in some way talked through the process in a certain direction. Meditation can help better organise inner energies which can get a bit all over the place when you are not used to sitting quietly. Meditation takes me beyond my beliefs about myself and into the space of pure potential where I can consciously choose the way I prefer to feel and live in any situation regardless of expectations, desires and outcomes. In this space, there can be no such thing as stress.

DID YOU MEDITATE DURING YOUR CAREER?
I used to meditate before games but I was unable to embrace the difference between being at peace or trying to be at peace. As a player I probably allowed winning and other external factors, such as how others perceived me, to make being peaceful seem out of my control. I now understand that how I feel is my choice.

HOW HEALTHY IS YOUR DIET?
Very. My wife Shelley is training to be a naturopathic nutritionist and does everything from making her own yoghurt from compassionately, ethically farmed raw milk to soaking and sprouting nuts and grains, and making sourdough bread. Healthy concoctions including smoothies, juices and raw protein bars are commonplace around our home. There is so much to be experienced and learned from food and nature and preparing things in the most whole and natural way. We are, after all, just a result of everything we have eaten and drunk.

WHY HAVE YOU TEAMED UP WITH PURESSENTIEL?
I have a huge respect for nature, as does the family behind Puressentiel. The brand is a perfect fit for me. I think we might be well served by continuing to listen and learn from our bodies and nature. There is a place for medicine for sure but, for me, it needs to support and assist the body, not try to dominate it. Quick fix solutions in medicine sometimes scare me especially when they alter or disturb natural processes. I have found that essential oils have a strong role to play in maintaining skin, hair, muscles and vitamins and minerals through diet and supplementation are great ways to ensure balance. Nothing beats open stress-less living though!

Jonny Wilkinson is brand ambassador of Puressentiel’s Muscles & Joints range. The French aromatherapy and natural skincare brand is the official partner of World Rugby until 2019.

Celebrity interviews, Wellness