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


The moment I was told five years ago that I had severe arthritis in my feet was a real shock - but I suppose it shouldn’t have been. I had lived in high heels since I was 15 and I had taught exercise since the 1970s when, on a concrete floor, I wore jazz shoes that had no padded soles! Thank goodness for the cushioned trainers that we all wear today.

To add insult to injury a year after my diagnosis I tripped down two stairs and fell with my right foot twisted beneath me. A few months later, my foot collapsed and as I was in so much pain I elected to have surgery to put it back together again. The operation went well and some bones were fused together with some bone marrow taken from a bone in my leg, held together with a metal plate. The Consultant told me I couldn’t weight-bear on it for three months and it would be 18 months before I fully recovered - but I was determined to do everything I could to recover more quickly than that.

Ahead of the surgery, I prepared for it by doing leg strength exercises. Once I was home after the op, and despite my foot being in plaster, three days later I was exercising my leg three times a day whilst lying on the sofa.  After all, there was nothing wrong with my knee or my hip and I didn’t want to lose my leg strength. I knew I couldn’t weight-bear for 12 weeks but that didn’t stop me from going to the gym, teaching my classes from a chair, and moving independently around the house with the help of a zimmer frame or crutches. I hotched myself upstairs on my bottom and manoeuvred myself around on a typist’s chair on wheels on our wooden or tiled floors upstairs.

My activity efforts paid off. My surgeon was delighted with my progress and by the time the three months was up, I could walk on my mended foot remarkably well and I was fully fit once again. Life was back to a new wonderful normal – and continues today.

So grateful was I to Mr Maneesh Bhatia, my surgeon, that I asked him if he would be happy to be interviewed for the website. He was delighted and we recorded a selection of videos which I hope you will find interesting for you or your loved ones. I also invited my physiotherapist Judith Pitt-Brooke if she would explain the importance of preparing for orthopaedic surgery, whether it is for a hip, knee or foot, and how to exercise safely and effectively after surgery. You can find all of these videos under the Health section of the website on the Orthopaedic Surgery page

The golden rule, if you find yourself with arthritis, is to keep moving. Failure to do so will cause your joints to become less mobile and more painful. Of course, my arthritis is still as prevalent as it has always been but I manage it with paracetamol (ask your GP first) and I have found that regular activity (such as going for a 30-minute walk every day) is key to keeping on top of it, along with going to a chiropodist regularly. I also wear orthotics in my cushioned trainers which have proved amazing. You can learn more about managing Arthritis also in the Health section.

As Mary explains below, looking after our feet is absolutely essential if we are to maintain our independence, and live a full and active life, and we have recorded a new Foot Workout for you to follow to help keep your feet fit.

It was St David’s Day this week and I thought I would share this little story. It is always heart-wrenching when you hear the horrors of abandoned puppies so you can imagine how I felt when I learned of the little pup who was found abandoned in a dustbin!  

Thankfully, the tiny pup was rescued by a passer-by and now lives happily with our friend Lindsay Trainer and her family in Wales. This week the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited their town on St David’s Day. Prince William and Catherine happened to stop to chat to Lindsay and stroke the rescued dog, Gem. Lindsay posted on her Facebook page that Gem, having started life in a dustbin had now been stroked by a future King and Queen!  

Recipe of the Week

This is a really quick and easy recipe guaranteed to get your taste buds dancing!  You can substitute diced beef or lamb for the chicken. Just allow 20 minutes extra cooking time for the meat to tenderise. For vegetarians, Quorn fillets work really well.

Serves four
Per serving: 288 kcal/5g fat (excluding rice)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

4 skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsps garam masala
1 x 2.5cm (1in) piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 red onions, diced
1 red and 1 green pepper, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red chilli, sliced
juice of 1 lime
2 tsps vegetable bouillon stock powder or crushed stock cube
900g tomato passata
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
fresh mint leaves to garnish
  1. Slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces, season with black pepper and place in a bowl. Add the cumin, ground coriander, garam masala and ginger and mix well.
  2. Preheat a non-stick wok until hot. Dry-fry the onions, peppers and garlic for 2 - 3 minutes until they start to colour.
  3. Add the chicken and continue cooking for 5 - 6 minutes until the chicken starts to change colour. Add the remaining ingredients except for the fresh coriander and mint. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  4. Just before serving stir in the coriander and mint. Spoon into a warmed serving dish and garnish with mint leaves.
  5. Serve with boiled basmati rice. To cook the rice place 1 Blue Portion Pot® (55g, 208kcal) of uncooked rice per person in boiling water with a vegetable stock cube. Cook according to instructions.
For more recipes click here to visit the website

Fun, Facts & Fitness from Mary Morris MSc.

This week the focus is on the heaviest weight-bearing part of your body – your feet!  The chances are you never give them a second thought... until they hurt! 

As we get older we become more aware of our feet than ever before, after all, they have done a remarkable job for a great many years.  There may be some arthritis setting in or you may need to recover from foot surgery, such as bunions, which sadly are more common as we get older. I have been impressed and amazed at how Rosemary recovered from her serious foot reconstruction.  It took tremendous commitment to gradually be able to return to her dog walks and ballet lessons.  The fact she is unable to wear high heels anymore is a small price to pay and to be honest I haven't been able to wear my highest heel for a long time now either. 

There is a hugely complex anatomical construction to our feet and I plan to keep it simple in explaining it.  This may help to motivate you to do The Foot Workout which I recently recorded and has now been added to the website where all the key exercises for both feet and ankles can be found. By following this short easy programme regularly you will keep your feet and ankles strong and in tip-top condition.

Intrinsic Muscles

These very small muscles lie deep and between the bony structure of the feet and are the ones that need special exercises such as those in my workout.  The best exercise to work these small but important muscles is Toe Curling for example where pulling up a towel is very effective. (As demonstrated in the video.)

Extrinsic Muscles

These are the muscles that lie on top of your bones and the very best exercise for them is simply walking!

Walking Technique

Walking is the best overall foot exercise we have and you know how much we promote a daily walk every single week through this Newsletter.  When you walk you put your foot through its full range of movement from the time your heel hits the ground until you push forward off your toes.  However, it is easy to fall foul of this technique unless you consciously check it now and then.  If you decide to walk more briskly (as we often recommend) you don't need to increase your step length but actually increase the number of steps per minute.  A brisk walk will equate to about 135 steps per minute (15 minute mile = 4 miles per hour). 

Even your spine can benefit from healthy feet.  If you move through the foot as it is designed to be used, then everything above - knees, hips and spine - are connected correctly too.  That brings us to posture!  Think tall, keep your chin tucked in, your ears over your shoulders and your eyes looking about 10 feet in front of you.  That way those feet will do their job beautifully!  

Simply do the best you can to have happy and healthy feet!

This Week's Fitness Challenge

  1. Do The Foot Workout at least 3 times this week particularly if you know you need to improve the strength of both your feet and ankles.
  2. When out on your 30-minute daily walk check all the technique points mentioned above. Maybe time one minute and see how many steps you do. Intermingle steady walking with brisk walking.
  3. Still keep up the efforts with a Toning Band doing the Standing Band Workout and/or the Floor Band Workout as suggested from last week. Do one at least 3 times this week. Alternatively, do either the Standing Weights Workout or the Floor Weights Workout.
Did you know...

High heels were brought to the French Court from Persia in the early 17th century. Men wore them to imply their upper-class status; only someone who did not have to work could afford, both financially and practically, to wear such extravagant shoes.

As the shoes became a fashion trend, some elite wearers ordered their heels to be made even higher to distinguish themselves from lower classes and some authorities began regulating the length of a high heel's point according to social rank: "½ inch for commoners, 1 inch for the bourgeois, 1½ inches for knights, 2 inches for nobles..."

As women began to wear heeled shoes in the mid-to-late 17th century, trends started to distinguish men's from women's heels with men wearing thick heels while women wore thin ones. Men's heels began to concentrate into either practical riding boots or tall leather boots worn for status, and high, thin heels represented femininity and the supposed superficiality and extravagance of women.

Love your shoes? Watch my video Shoes to Enhance Your Look

And finally...

We tend not to appreciate something until we no longer have it, for instance, dexterity, flexibility, stamina and strength. But that shouldn’t stop us trying to keep these attributes and working at preserving them.  If there is anything we can do now to delay or prevent their loss, surely it’s worth making the effort. And that’s why Mary creates a Weekly Fitness Challenge especially for you!

Have a great week!

With love and best wishes,

Rosemary Conley CBE DL


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