Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The price of happiness...

They don’t call them your ‘golden years’ because of the fortune that you’re likely to have amassed by the time you reach retirement. Although it is hardly a revelation that not having enough money will make most people miserable, having bucket-loads is no guarantee of happiness either. Money has the power to make you miserable if you let it. 

Studies show that a person’s day-to-day happiness increases in line with their income up to approximately £50,000 ($80,000), after which it plateaus. The message is clear: although money can’t buy you love, it can buy you happiness up to a point after which you’ll need to rely on something else to put a smile on your face. 

A 2004 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that increasing the number of sexual encounters from once a month to once a week boosts a person’s happiness by as much as a £31,000 ($50,000) pay rise!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Out with the young and in with the old(er)....

The Baby Boomer generation, the same crowd that sat around smoking groovy cigarettes, listening to Bob Dylan, and vigorously celebrating the development of the contraceptive pill, have found themselves thrust into the centre of another socio-economic epoch: the golden age of aging.

Better education, improved healthcare and a steady increase in living conditions have led to a boom in life expectancy. We live in an age where conventional demographics have been turned on their head. The 2008 US Census Bureau report: An Aging World revealed for example that:

  • The proportion of people over 65 is predicted to outweigh the number of children under five by the year 2018.
  • Life expectancy now exceeds 80 years old in 11 developed countries. 

Unprecedented longevity, coupled with a drop in fertility rates has produced more ‘top-heavy’ families comprising fewer children and a greater proportion of elders. This means that by 2040, more than one out of every four Europeans is likely to be at least 65-years-old. 

You might therefore assume that the shelves of all reputable book shops would be buckling under the weight of tomes on retirement aging and sex; but aside from the stacks of financial guides (that would be more use prescribed to insomniacs as sleeping aids) you’d be wrong. Instead you will find a busty celebrity’s fifth autobiography of the year (surely there’s only so much you can say about the changing size of your own breasts?). Apparently not.

As well as enjoying record longevity in the 21st century, sexually active life expectancy is also at an historic high for both sexes. By 55, men have an average of 15 years of sexually active years compared to 10 years for women. I have spoken to many people who still have exciting and experimental sex-lives well into their 80’s and beyond.

Monday, 3 December 2012

The delights of dieting....

With Christmas coming up I thought this would be the perfect time to share with you my dieting do’s and don’ts.

There is always a diet revolution capturing the public imagination; a celebrity or medical-maverick endorsed program that promises to help you lose more weight, faster, with less effort – from only eating foods of a certain colour, at a certain time of day etc.

Dieting isn’t easy. If losing weight was as simple as piling it on, the term ‘super-morbidly obese’ might never have been coined, and the phrase ‘we’re going to need the winch for this one’ wouldn’t be the second-most common phrase used by firemen after: ‘someone get the ladder, that cat just isn’t coming down....’
Some diets are backed by solid research and provide you with the nutrients and energy needed to stay healthy in retirement, but others can be downright dangerous. 

Crash diets are like an odd reversion of the ‘stone soup’ story that I used to read my children. For those of you who were never read bedtime stories (or never read to your kids) it’s about a couple of travellers who visit a nearby town and claim that they can make a delicious soup with just a pan of water and a stone. The villagers are understandably sceptical, but hungry, so oblige. “Now all we need are some potatoes” they say, so the villagers bring a sack of potatoes. “Now all we need are some leeks” they say – so the villagers bring armfuls of leaks, and so on until they have all the ingredients for a delicious soup. The chefs take out the magic stone – and voila! Stone soup, made with nothing but a stone, a pan of water, and all the villagers’ vegetables. 

Any diet that revolves around the principle of ‘eat very little of the same low calories, bland food for breakfast and lunch and that eat whatever for your dinner!’ is so blatantly ridiculous you’d think that people would laugh it off – but they don’t, because all the buzz created by testimonials such as: “I lost 40 pounds on the cereal/cabbage soup diet – it really works!” complete with obviously doctored photographs. Of course you can eat very little of something healthy for two meals, build up a calorie deficit (remain ravenously hungry and dangerously irritable throughout the day) and then eat a large dinner and lose weight. 

REMEMBER: Don’t starve yourself, not least because not eating isn’t the quickest way to lose weight as it slows your metabolism, causing you to burn calories at a slower rate than a well-regulated eating and exercise program. You need to choose the foods that will make you feel most full whilst giving you the nutrients you need.

Use common sense and don’t cling on to fads that promise you miracle results for minimal efforts. You will slip into a cycle of hope and despair that will only make you want to eat even more.