Monday, October 19, 2015

We seem to think that an obsession with weight and dieting is a fairly modern idea.  The reality series The Diets That Time Forgot shows that our counterparts from as far back as the Victorian era were trying all sorts of things to get rid of unwanted pounds.  This 6 part series takes a group of 9 overweight people and divides them into groups to test out diets from the past to see which, if any, are effective.

The three time periods are:

1) The Victorians, which are on a mostly meat-based diet

2) The Edwardians, who can eat whatever they want, but must chew every mouthful 32 times


3) The 1920s, who are on a strict limit of 1200 calories per day

The 9 volunteers are sequestered in a beautiful stately home re-titled "Sir Roy's Institute of Physical Culture" for this program.  Sir Roy Strong, the former head of the Victoria and Albert Museum, is the leader of the project, assisted by various experts in things such as health, physical exercise, movement and other aspects of wellness.

There's an added degree of difficulty:  as well as conforming to diets from the past, the contestants from each time frame must also wear the clothing from that era -- this includes when they are exercising or otherwise doing anything involving physical exertion.  That alone makes gives the 1920s team something of an edge, as their clothing is looser and the women don't have to deal with corsets and stays.

The first episode introduces the contestants to their new way of eating during the 24 days of the experiment.  The Edwardians, who must chew every bit 32 times, also find out they must tip their heads back and let the well-chewed mess slide down their throats -- whatever is left, they must spit out.  Charming!

The second episode starts the contestants on the exercise ideals from their time periods.  The
Victorians were concerned with balance, posture and breath control, while the Edwardians first attempted to isolate and train various muscle groups using weights.  The 1920s group got a more games-based, PE approach.  This is also when the strange ideas that supposedly aid in weight loss began, starting with cold baths and immersion in cold baths.  It was thought that the shivering would help in weight loss!

Part three brought the contestants into the great outdoors for events such as the "paperchase," where some contestants would leave a trail of small bits of paper through the woods that the other contestants had to follow.  The 1920s contestants were also introduced to "naturism," which involved exercising in the nude.  Not surprisingly, not all the contestants were eager to give that a try.  There were also fads with different types of "bathing," including air bathing (a favorite of Florence Nightengale, who was all for fresh air, no matter what the temperature) and sand bathing, which theoretically causes you to sweat out the calories while being buried in sand with only your head left exposed.

Episode four looked at the "great insides" and how the various groups attempted to manipulate their bodies into expelling, rather than turning excess calories into fat.  Some of the ideas introduced here included abdominal massage, saunas, vibrating belts, and colonic irrigation.  Phase five involved increasing the contestants' self-reliance and motivation.  The groups worked together in an orienteering challenge, which involved setting up a a camp and preparing wild game.  There are also some temptations set out to see if anyone will take the bait, and, not surprisingly, there are some cheaters . . .

The final episode shows some extreme measures that have been employed throughout the ages to try and achieve quick weight loss (some things never change!).  Some things that are demonstrated are "slimming pills," electric current, and hypnotherapy.  At the final weigh-in, we get to see which of the three diets was the overall winner based on the total weight loss of the teams.

It was quite interesting to see how diets and weight-loss ideas haven't really changed much over the years.  While the contestants were able to lose some weight, I doubt that any of them would want to stick to the regimes they were given during the program.  Still, I'm sure the overall ideas of nutrition and exercise were useful to them in the outside world.

A warning for those who might be interested in watching, this series contains some nudity, bad language and scenes of skinning and preparing wild game.

Final Verdict for Diets That Time Forgot: Three Gherkins, for being and interesting look at weight-loss strategies from days gone by

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Nearly everyone is looking for ways to make some extra money.  Blogger Crystal Paine has taken the lessons she's learned about generating extra income and collected them into the book Money Making Mom.  She stresses that having more money won't solve all your problems, but it will give you the freedom to live, save, and give on your own terms.

While on the Internet, it's easy to become enthusiastic when reading about how others have been successful at creating their own businesses, but this book stresses that you have to find an idea that utilizes your own unique talents.  There are questions to help you discover the areas in which you excel, as well as worksheets to help you identify your strengths.  Even though someone else might have made a success of selling a particular product or service, if your talents don't lie in that area, you risk losing time, money and motivation on something that will never be profitable for you.

Another chapter gives the pros and cons of various business options, including multi-level marketing, home-based vs. online vs. brick-and-mortar businesses.  Once you've identified the best business model for your idea, then there are helpful options in terms of writing a mission statement, marketing and networking.  Still stuck for ideas?  There are some suggestions for starting your own business such as blogging, pet care, virtual assisting, mystery shopping, etc.  Each option is defined, then there are useful websites or books mentioned that will allow further exploration to determine if this is a good option for you.

Once your business is up and running, there are also things you have to do to ensure that things run smoothly.  Suggestions are provided for time management, overcoming fear of failure and dealing with negativity from others.  When you're finally running a successful business, the author also gives you ideas on how to give wisely and generously.  A list of resources, including websites, books and podcasts is included at the end of the book.

I think this is a very inspiring and informative look at ways to start a business.  I really like the variety of ideas on identifying your talents and how to go about setting up a business that help you to consider aspects that might not first be apparent.  Anyone looking to make some extra money could find many valuable ideas in this book!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Money Making Mom from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this review

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sir Winston Churchill is rightly regarded as one of the premier statesmen of the 20th century. His unflinching leadership during the second world war inspired his country during dark times and gained him the admiration of people around the world.  The book Churchill's Trial takes a look at the career and driving forces behind this leader, from World War II and beyond.

The book is divided into three sections which reflect the three major forces that Churchill faced during his career:  the war years, the struggle to maintain the British empire, and the rise of socialist policies following the war.

Churchill's work during the war is well documented, but I was more interested in reading about his attitudes following the war.  Apparently, he believed that the countries in the British Empire would want to stay part of the empire "by principle and sentiment."  Surprisingly, countries in the British empire contributed nearly a third of the soldiers and suffered nearly half the casualties of British forces in World War II.  Certainly, the point can be made that Britain might not have been on the winning side in the war without the assistance of so many soldiers from the empire.  At the same time, Churchill didn't believe that these countries had the ability to govern themselves.  While this put him at odds with the United States, he held firm in his belief that Britain could best govern these countries, and that the people were incapable of doing it themselves.  He was also of the viewpoint that maintaining order was the most important thing ("harsh laws are sometimes better than no laws at all").  While his viewpoints might seem at odds with modern ideas, the author does believe that British influence had a great impact on the establishment of modern democratic India and that, in the long run, the Indian people as a whole are better off than they might otherwise have been.

During Churchill's lifetime, the Labour party was formed and governed Britain.  He fought their ideals of nationalization for the rest of his life, even though he was to lose this battle.  Churchill believed that Capitalism unequally shared the wealth, but that Socialism was more than happy to spread misery to everyone.  He was also concerned that when problems arose in a Socialist society, that leaders would resort to a "Gestapo" to keep order.  His opposition to Socialism was so staunch that he refused to work with any Socialists in cabinets or coalitions, except when the stresses of World War II required him to set his principles aside.  He was gracious in defeat in 1945 when his party lost to the Labour party, but he was concerned that the British nation was changing in character (for the worse, of course!) due to the hardships caused by the war.  At the same time that he opposed Socialism, Churchill did see the need for social and economic reforms, and even supported some of these reforms.  However he disliked the thought of big government and feared that it would not be able to better serve the needs of the people than the systems of rule that had come before.

The book ends with some of Churchill's writings and speeches.  Overall, the book is an interesting look at a well-known leader that helped to shape modern Britain.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Churchill's Trial from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this review

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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