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Wed, 17th May 2017

Of all inquiries I have received over the years, the one that most consistently persists is "How Do I Lose Weight". I earned a good living last century writing a fortnightly weight reducing diet for a major woman's magazine, which built its circulation from about 150,000 to over one million based on diets.

"A person would die if they stuck to that diet", dietitian Rosemary Stanton would scream at me. "Of course", I would reply. But research shows nobody sticks to any diet for longer than five or six days. All chase the elusive "diet" guaranteed to bring an eternally youthful shape immediately.

The interesting phenomenon is that changing to any diet will bring about a loss of 1-2 kg within a few days. This is a reassuring but false indication "the diet" is working!. That is not losing nor burning up fat. The reduced weight is simply a loss of water from muscles tissue.

However, there is a guaranteed way to reduce. Simply do this: "eat a little less food each day, less (or no) fat, and definitely no sugar, the big bogey, and take more exercise every day". That routine works 95% of the time. That means, shun cakes, pastries, choccies and sweets, chips, fast food, fried and fatty stuff. Eat more veggies, fruit, lean meat, fish, poultry, nuts and berries. Stop fizzy chemicalised beverages (and not too much grog).

Success is guaranteed. Weigh daily and record (best stripped on rising and after going to the loo). Record. Also measure around the waist at navel level - ideal is 93 cm for men, and 80 cm or less for women. It may take 6-12 months. Figures will gradually go south.

If on a particular morning the weight has stalled or gone up half kg, no food that day - fluids only (water is best). Follow your diary carefully - it will tell you heaps. I have followed this routine for decades and my weight has remained identical, and I always feel full of life and energy.



It interests me that all these people advocating carbon emission risks all seem to drive around in posh cars, fly the globe, and otherwise do all the things they say should not be done. Isn't this hypocritical?


If they all rode bikes to work, or better still walked, read by the sun, or candles, refrained from watching TV, videos, listening to radio (crystal sets are OK), refused air-conditioning then they could hold heads high, and somebody might listen. But no, they continue to enjoy the fruits of excessive coal and petroleum usage, as you say. Of course governments love the idea of a new "tax". Most seem to have forgotten that such an issue as "sunlight" exists. I am still ambivalent.

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Is there some way to prevent freckles? I have reddish hair.


The UV rays of the sun work on the melanin, the pigment causing cells in the upper skin layers, which turn brown on exposure. If you are serious, apply a SPF30 or maybe 50 cream to your facial skin every time you go outside. This blocks the UV rays, prevents sunburn, but more importantly, keeps it away from the melanin cells. In redheads it is often irregular in distribution. Whereas olive skinned people tend to evenly tan.

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Do ankle sprains heal naturally?


Most ankle sprains heal gradually of their own accord. It means the ligaments holding the ankle joint together are suddenly over-stretched. This causes pain, often swelling. Try RICE. R=Rest. I=Ice packs. C=Compression (eg. firm elasticized bandage but not too tight). E=Elevation. The swelling gradually subsides. Bruising next day from torn blood vessels will gradually fade over the next 2-3 weeks. If there is any query, an x-ray will indicate a fracture which needs stricter intervention.

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Since having my baby, every time I sneeze I have a little "accident".


This is common, and means the valve in the bladder has weakened. This is usually fixable by "pelvic floor exercises". Standing at the sink (for example), squeeze the lower pelvic muscles as if shutting off a urine flow. Do it say 50-100 times several times a day. Gradually this will assist fibres to regain their normal strength, and the horrid little events will gradually cease. A physiotherapist can offer added support.

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As aeroplanes take off or come into land, kids often start yelling their heads off.


This is because there is a different air pressure inside and outside the ear drum. It may be extremely painful. Usually, if the ears pop, pressures equalize and pain vanishes. So, try and get the kid to chew or suck something. Adults simply hold the nose with fingers and blow. This forces air into the Eustachian tubes to the ear and presto, click, and likewise the pain goes away.

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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.



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Dr James Wright is associated with lovely Vimiera Retirement Village ( in the leafy Sydney (NSW) suburb of Eastwood. It is operated by Mediaid Centre Foundation (, a non-profit Public Benevolent Institution which provides housing for the elderly, as well as providing a large amount of health information.

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