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In 1972 I launched my very first slimming class. Click here to read how it all began.


We are all aware of the word ‘fasting’ and it may have different interpretations for different people. We hear about fasting in the Bible and many Christians ‘give up something’ during Lent as a form of fasting. Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan and eat nothing between sunrise and sunset. However, in recent times, fasting has taken on an additional and quite different purpose – to help us lose weight.

The 5:2 Diet made headlines when it was first published and its ethos was to follow a very restrictive calorie allowance of around 600 calories a day on two days a week and then you could eat liberally on the other five days. For many it worked really well. I wrote my own version in 2016 and it came out in book form as The 3-2-1 Diet. In this I suggested three ‘light’ days of 800 calories in week one; two ‘light’ days per week until you reached your goal weight and then one ‘light’ day each week as a maintenance plan. I didn’t suggest that folks ‘ate liberally on their ‘non-fasting’ days’, but instead they should follow a healthy low-fat menu. And it worked brilliantly.

Another benefit of fasting is that exercise burns more calories after a period of fasting, for instance exercising before breakfast. So, for whatever reason, it is plain to see that fasting is a force for good and we can benefit from it physically and spiritually.

In Leicestershire we have a new High Sheriff, Mehmooda Duke MBE DL, and as part of Mehmooda’s fundraising initiative during her year in office, she launched a ‘Choose your fast’ challenge encouraging us to give up one thing between sunrise and sunset for just one day. Whether it was social media, chocolate, bread or sugar, alcohol or watching TV, it was our choice and whatever we chose it was about using the day to pause a little and focus on something other than what we might usually do.  Why am I telling you this? Well, the High Sheriff has kindly nominated Steps Conductive Education Centre as one of her four Charities of the Year, and, as you can imagine, as Patron of Steps, I couldn’t be more delighted.

I am not asking you to give any money but I would love to tell you a little about the charity. If you have happened to look in the Rosemary’s World section of our website you will have noticed a section on various Charities of which I am a Patron. Whilst I am wholly supportive of all of these excellent good causes, the charity that captures my heart is Steps Conductive Education Centre which helps young children up to age five who live with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other motor disorders and delays. Steps is based in Leicestershire and serves families across the East Midlands, and thanks to the development of Zoom, they now help families across the country.

What Steps achieves is extraordinary and I think the best description of what they do is explained in this letter which we received from a Steps parent in 2019. His son first went to Steps when he was two years old:

We started our journey with Steps about three years ago with hesitation, sadness and uncertainty. We were struggling to accept what had happened to our child. We were deeply saddened to learn about Cerebral Palsy and all of the domains that it would impact: his senses, function, development and abilities.

Many questions were on our minds.
        Will he walk? He was still crawling when we started at Steps.
        Will he talk? His speech and language had not yet developed.
        Will he be able to become independent?
                       He was in nappies and unable to feed himself when we started.

        What is Conductive Education? Will it help?

With slow and gradual steps, our questions were being answered with the help and support of the Steps team and other families. Without exception, the entire Steps team has shown great kindness, empathy, technical knowledge and dedication, with an infectious, positive attitude and manner. Thanks to their input, my son leaves Steps being able to walk, talk, being self-confident, resilient and persistent.

He is making great strides in self-care and independence too. We will certainly miss the entire Steps family but we leave with beautiful memories and hope and optimism for my son’s future.

This is a letter of thanks but truth be told, we will be forever in your debt. You can all be very proud of your contribution and I’m sure my son will say with pride that he attended Steps, when he is older.

We will try to keep in touch and we wish you well in your future work at Steps and in your personal lives too. Thank you!
If you would like to know more about the charity, or you know someone who could perhaps be helped by Steps, please go to

Recipe of the Week

This tasty salad is perfect when you have some left-over chicken and want to create a salad with a difference. The easy-to-make lightly curried sauce to dress the chicken works wonderfully with a healthy combination of summer fruits and fresh salad to create an impressive and generous meal.

Serves 1  (Multiply ingredients for more servings)
Per serving: 300 calories (approx.)
Prep time 10 mins

Coronation Chicken:
60g cooked chicken, (no skin) chopped
1 tbsp Heinz Salad Dressing
1 tbsp 0% fat Live Natural Yogurt
½ tsp curry powder.

For the Salad:
Salad leaves
3 cherry tomatoes, chopped
2cm cucumber, chopped
1 small stick celery chopped
¼ red pepper, chopped
¼ yellow pepper, chopped
1 wedge each of different melons (eg Honeydew, Galia, Cantaloupe, Watermelon), chopped into chunks
½ fresh mango or papaya, skinned and chopped
4 strawberries, hulled and quartered

  1. Make up the Coronation dressing by mixing together the salad dressing and live natural yogurt. Then stir in the curry powder and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Place a selection of salad leaves on a serving plate then top with the chopped salad vegetables, (retaining the tomatoes till the end). Then arrange the pieces of fruit on top of that.
  3. Finally, place the coronation chicken mixture on top and decorate with the halved cherry tomatoes.
  4. Keep chilled until served.
Melons originated in Africa or in the hot valleys of Southwest Asia and are now commercially grown mainly in China, Turkey, Iran and India. Many varieties are available with some of the most popular in the UK being:
  • Honeydew - sweet and juicy with yellow skin and white flesh which tastes like a moist pear.
  • Galia - small and very juicy with either faint green or rosy pink flesh.
  • Canteloupe - sweet orange coloured flesh.
  • Watermelon - sweet, juicy flesh, usually deep red to pink, with many black seeds although seedless varieties also exist.
For more recipes click here to visit the website

Fun, Facts & Fitness from Mary Morris MSc.

It is only in the last few years that I have become interested in how our entire digestive system works and I find it totally fascinating.  It is an area of research that is still evolving at considerable speed as there is now a very clear link to our health and to how long we might live.  

We have known for a long time that eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, reducing red meat, and limiting processed foods for example are good for us. It also helps us to feel fit and healthy, look better for it, and combined with regular exercise, reduces the risk of getting a variety of illnesses.

What we have only found out recently, following reliable scientific research, is that the epicentre of that system is our gut and how well it functions, referred to as our microbiome. In The 28-Day Immunity Plan (Chapter 2 Page 24) we scrape the surface of what is a very complex subject, but our recommendations in that book hold firm as a route to a healthy gut. The rules are simple: cook foods from fresh, take plenty of regular exercise, limit alcohol intake and STOP snacking!  If you make all of those a regular lifestyle habit, you won't go far wrong.   

So that covers what and how much we eat but what about when we eat?  This brings us to the idea of what we term 'fasting', i.e. going for selected periods of time without eating anything at all. Would that help us to achieve even better health and more chance of a longer life-span? 

Firstly, let's look at the different forms of fasting:

  • Water-only fasting where you do not eat at all sometimes for as long as 48 hours.  This is promoted as giving your gut a complete rest which is found to have health benefits, particularly for those found to have an inflamed gut.  Extreme and hard to do and not one I personally would recommend without the support of a qualified nutritionist.
  • Intermittent Fasting.  This follows the widely acclaimed 5:2 diet where you eat normally for 5 days and restrict to 500 - 600 calories a day for the other 2.  Many have had success with this and research shows that when followed, people do not go to full-blown 'normal ' eating on the other 5 days so it aids weight loss.  Rosemary's 3-2-1 Diet followed similar principles with great success
  • Time Restricted Eating.  This is the most recent addition to the whole idea of fasting and is gaining in popularity.  All your food is eaten in a 'window' of time, usually 12 hours of eating and 12 hours of fasting. This works well with stopping eating early in the evening and delaying eating time the next morning.  Some have gone as far as 16 hours of not eating and having meals in a window of 8 hours. If you can do it, the science is looking very positive.

Now let's look at what the science says. Going without food for prolonged periods of time is proving to have benefits to our body previously unknown, such as reducing inflammation in the gut which, if left to thrive, may eventually make us unwell. It gives a chance for our immune system to re-set and clear out the rubbish!   Taking plenty of exercise so your entire system is flowing well and getting plenty of sleep, also cleans out the gut, and you know how much we promote both of those!

My personal view is to always take the middle road. A moderate time spent fasting (you choose the length of time and then stick to it!), a regular and moderate amount of exercise in your life, and a jolly good night’s sleep, and you should be sorted.  When starting down this path simply become aware of how long you go without eating.  The regular 'snacker' will always insist they need to eat after only 2 hours following a substantial meal, yet in fact they are just in the habit of eating that often.  Lengthen the time between eating episodes and you will be going in the right direction. Enjoy the journey and reap the benefits!

This Week's Fitness Challenge

  1. Now we have these longer daylight hours it is good to get out early in the morning for our daily 30-minute walk.  Try it 3 times this week before you have eaten anything at all.  A glass of water will suffice. Great if weight loss is your goal, and even if not, it is a lovely time of day to be out in the fresh air!
  2. Take time for a good long stretch session 3 times this week.  Activity such as our Stretch Programme and slow controlled movement such as Yoga and Tai Chi have been found to improve our gut health too.
  3. Strength training is known to have a positive effect on the cells of the immune system.  Good strong muscles are our immunity’s lifelong best friend so do a whole-body strength programme 3 times this week. Go to The 28 Day Immunity Plan - Exercises and choose the right level for you.
Did you know...

63% of people in the UK drink tea daily (2017 statistics) and according to YouGov 56% of tea drinkers take it without sugar but 22% prefer their cuppa sweetened. Men are more likely than women to take sugar with 25% of males polled preferring a sweeter drink.

But, more importantly, how do you take yours?

And finally...

For the High Sheriff's fasting challenge I decided I would give up tea for the day. Now given I drink about 12 cups a day, this was never going to be easy but I thought I would make the sacrifice for a good cause. Well, I had no idea how much of a challenge it would be! Not wishing to get dehydrated, I replaced my first cup with hot water and honey, then a glass of milk, I then drank water, then I bought a lemon and had hot water, lemon and honey, and finally diet ginger beer! Frustratingly, I still felt dehydrated by the end of the day because I’m just not keen on any of those alternatives!

To be honest, it really was a challenge and I felt ashamed of myself for being so pathetic. I love my cups of weak tea (mine would be mug 6!) and I desperately yearned for one! Giving up anything is never easy but sacrifices are rarely in vain and, together, those of us that took part in the 'fast-for-a-Day' initiative all learnt something about ourselves and also raised some funds for the High Sheriff’s chosen charities, including Steps, which is always very close to my heart and made it all worthwhile.


With love and best wishes,

Rosemary Conley CBE DL


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