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Ex-bodybuilder Taryn Brumfitt campaigns to ditch diets and end myth of the ideal shape

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Australian writer took on body image prejudices – and a new film, Embrace, shows her message winning global support

Many of us waking up will feel the familiar pang of New Year’s Day self-loathing and decide that this is the day to start that new diet, begin that new detox, finally attempt to get the body of our dreams. Within a month we will probably feel miserable, hungry and no closer to achieving our goal.

Now a new film is set to challenge the increasingly pervasive message that there is one way to look by tackling the myth of the perfect body and the celebrity culture that fuels it. Embrace follows Australian writer and campaigner Taryn Brumfitt as she travels across the world talking to a huge variety of women about how they see themselves. She speaks to actor and talk-show host Ricki Lake about body image and Hollywood, to an entertainingly direct Amanda de Cadenet about what it was like living with tabloid scrutiny at the age of 18 (“The message I took from it was that if you were thinner you were better … these days I’d say if you want to eat the biscuit, eat the fucking biscuit”) and to Harnaam Kaur, a British Sikh woman who celebrates the beard caused by polycystic ovary syndrome rather than break her religious beliefs.

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‘She’ll never realise the impact she had’: life-changing conversations

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

We asked readers to tell us about their most significant conversation, or a letter that changed them. Here are our favourites

I went to a job interview in the 1980s in New York, when I was in my early 30s. It was something to do with hotel marketing. There I was, dressed in a nice suit with a crisp résumé, feeling like a grownup. Halfway through, the interviewer said, “I don’t think you really want this job.” I didn’t, and she had the insight to see it.

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Women’s sport, space probes and protests – reasons to look forward to 2017

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

The turbulence of this year might seem set to continue well into the next, but there are good things to come too. From mass protests to comfort telly, there’s something for everyone – and lie-ins are positively encouraged

Related: Troubled times make it hard to be an optimist. But I don’t plan to stop | Mary Elizabeth Williams

It does, admittedly, look as if 2017 will be bleak. Donald Trump becomes president, Theresa May has pledged to trigger article 50 by the end of March, and the far right march onwards. Still, it’s not all bad news. There’s the new season of Game of Thrones, apparently high heels are out, and it looks as if publishers may finally stop putting out thrillers with the word “girl” in the title. Here are six more reasons to be cheerful.

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Women suffer much more work stress than men, says psychiatrist

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Sexism in the workplace and family responsibilities add to pressure as they face unequal pay and lack of support

Women suffer considerably higher levels of work-related stress, anxiety and depression than men, with workplace sexism and familial responsibilities providing additional career pressures, a leading psychiatrist has said.

It comes as official figures show that women aged 25-54 are more stressed than their male colleagues, with this pressure peaking for those aged 35-44, when many women are juggling family responsibilities, such as caring for children and elderly parents.

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Counting calories this Christmas? Beware the pigs in blankets

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Average person will consume 6,000 calories on Christmas Day, report says – but you can cut down and still eat well

A short stroll on Christmas Day is the antidote for many a gluttonous festive feast. But according to health experts, a post-dinner walk would have to last four and a half hours to work off the calories of a typical Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.

Figures released by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) on Wednesday reveal that the average person will consume about 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone, nearly three times the recommended daily intake for women and more than twice the recommended amount for men.

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Branded crumpets have as much salt as three bags of crisps – survey

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Almost half of 27 crumpets in survey exceeded government’s average salt targets, with Warburtons range the worst offenders

Popular brands of crumpets contain “alarmingly high” amounts of salt, with one “giant” version having an amount equivalent to that of more than three bags of ready salted crisps, a survey has found.

Warburtons’ Giant Crumpets contain twice the concentration of salt per 100g than a Waitrose own-brand version, showing that the content can easily be reduced by manufacturers, Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) said.

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Runner uses GPS to create festive art – in pictures

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Some people use Strava’s GPS feature to create intricate designs; others to draw rude pictures. But London runner Owen Delaney has been getting into the Christmas spirit. He spent an hour planning the first routes in the city’s Bushy Park before the Christmas spirit really started to move him. Enjoy some of his creations, and have a very happy Christmas …

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How was your weekend running?

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Share your own tales of weekend triumphs and woes – and plans for Christmas Day running – below the line as always

Now that it’s less than a week to the big day, let’s talk Christmas Day runs. What’s your tradition? The other day I was chatting with someone, explaining that myself and the other half usually go for a longish, rambly run together before picking up the breakfast croissants and pain au choc treats. “Blimey” she said, “Don’t you even take Christmas Day off?” I was a bit nonplussed, before I realised that she meant that for her, running was simply a chore – and if there’s one day you don’t do chores, it’s Christmas Day.

But if you love running, why wouldn’t you do it on the one day of the year where you are almost guaranteed no traffic, good company, smiley faces (yes, even in London!) and a vast amount of food later on? It’s pretty much my favourite run of the year. Though I admit that I may be alone when it comes to my other personal tradition of a truly evil track session on Christmas Eve morning …

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Why embrace hygge when you can lozzerk? | Brief letters

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Fun in your fifties | Another word for hygge | Rugged physiognomy | The Kremlin and Strictly Come Dancing

I’m 55 and, like the people in your article (‘I have more fun now than I did when I was 20’, 17 December), I too have a positive outlook on life. I work full-time and every week I swim, go to the gym, do pilates, cycle, go for long walks, do voluntary work and have my granddaughter to stay over for a night. I’m also studying for two qualifications. Unfortunately, my self-employed husband and I will never be able to afford to retire, so I can’t agree with Ashley Naylor’s suggestion (Letters, 17 December) of scrapping the lottery; it’s the only, albeit faint, hope we have of not working until we drop.
Carole Ludlow Mooney
Ashton-under-Lyne

Related: Battling end-of-year burnout? Bring some hygge to work

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‘I am not naturally magnetic’: can you learn how to be charismatic?

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

From politics to business, charisma is the 21st-century must-have. But what is it – and can you really turn a shy type into a George Clooney?

It is a Tuesday afternoon and I am sitting in the hairdressers, having both my usuals: a short back and sides and a mild attack of awkwardness. Apart from the snip of scissors, a silence has descended. It’s not the barber’s fault; he’s covered all the regular bases (my hair, my weekend plans, where I’m going on holiday). Now the conversational onus is on me. I’ve long used up my quota of “Really?” and the sanctuary of the hairdryer is some way off.

Charisma: it is not something I have ever been accused of having. But how much does a person need? This ethereal quality (or lack of it) has been credited both with the rise of Donald Trump and the fall of Ed Miliband. For better or worse, it is the reason Boris Johnson is foreign secretary and Tim Farron is still “Who?” When, in those distant summer months, Michael Gove announced he was running for the Conservative leadership, he brought it up in his first speech: “Whatever charisma is, I don’t have it.” And it was true: his political career soon came to a grinding halt.

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