The important reason why people are leaving shoes around cities

The important reason why people are leaving shoes around cities

The #MillionsMissing campaign wants to give a voice to the thirty million people worldwide who suffer from ME

Words by Je Banach

If on May 12th, you find yourself out and about in Amsterdam, Boston, London, Chicago, Edinburgh, or one of approximately 95 other cities around the world, it is likely that you will encounter a plaza or other outdoor area populated with pairs of shoes.  At first glance you may assume that you have stumbled upon the scene of some conceptual or performance art, but the uninhabited footwear is intended to catch the eye of passersby—and the world—as part of #MillionsMissing, a global campaign including a series of in-person and virtual advocacy events meant to call attention to the millions of people around the world suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis.


The debilitating condition, also known as ‘ME’, causes pain, nausea, extreme sensory sensitivities, post-exertional malaise, and many other severe symptoms that leave the majority of those who suffer from it unable to work or resume the activities of their previous lives, and many more bedridden. The shoes represent those individuals who are unable to attend events in person due to the severity of their condition—people of varied age, gender, and race who often go unseen both literally, due to the restrictive nature of their symptoms, and figuratively, in terms of the lack of proper recognition and care they currently receive within the global medical community.

The campaign, initiated in 2016 by the ME Action Network, is intended to raise awareness, build community, and, most importantly, move governments around the world to assign proper and much-needed funding for research. While the condition affects a stunning fifteen to thirty million people worldwide and leaves its patients with a poorer quality of life than many of the more highly-funded conditions, funding for ME research remains woefully (some might say disgracefully) low. As a result, patients are forced to become their own activists and advocates while coping with the condition’s devastating symptoms.

Jennifer Brea, co-founder of the ME Action Network, directed an award-winning documentary about her own experiences with ME from her bed and advocates on a regular basis both in person and online. Jessica Taylor Bearman, a young woman featured in Brea’s documentary who has suffered from a severe form of ME since she was fifteen, maintains a blog that captures the reality and complexities of life with ME and recently published a book inspired by her own experiences titled A Girl Behind Dark Glasses. Anil van der Zee, a former professional ballet dancer with Introdans, Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Bern Ballet, forced into early retirement by the condition, created #art2CureME, inviting those with ME to choose a song from Unrest that they can sing, dance to, or otherwise perform and share online in an effort to draw a larger audience to the film, to increase awareness and further educate the greater public.

Credit: #MEAction

Many doctors and researchers – such as Professor Ronald ‘Ron’ W. Davis, Director of the Stanford Genome Technology Center at Stanford University, whose son suffers from a severe manifestation of the disease – also perform regular advocacy work, which necessitates long hours and exhausting travel in addition to their regular daily work in the field. All share the goal of helping to shed light on a misunderstood and puzzling illness in order to create a public narrative that more closely approximates the real and devastating experience of life with this illness: a truer narrative that would almost certainly lead to adequate funding for research and, ultimately, a cure.

The #MillionsMissing campaign is only one example of coordinated events and action taking place during the month of May in order to bring attention to incurable chronic illnesses. The entire month has also been designated as an international awareness month for fibromyalgia (which shares an official awareness day with #MillionsMissing), Lyme disease, and other chronic immunological, neurological, and endocrine diseases. The overlap is a notable one. While advocacy and research efforts in these areas were previously compartmentalized, chronic illness patient-advocates are now, in greater numbers, helping to bring awareness not only to the condition or conditions from which they suffer, but to ‘fraternal’ and similarly misunderstood conditions—conditions that also lack sufficient funding for research.

Credit: #MEAction

Brea and others suggest that those suffering from ME as well as conditions including but not limited to chronic Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes, MCAD, Endo, and POTS would benefit from uniting in their advocacy efforts. On Twitter, Brea recently shared a logo of a snake split into segments labeled with the names of several illnesses along with the phrase ‘Join, or Die’—a visual that hits home the dire need for collaboration and cross-over among patients, doctors, researchers, and activists.

Open Medicine Foundation—comprised of a dedicated team of Nobel laureates, National Academy Science members, and medical dynamos led by clinical laboratory scientist and founder Linda Tannenbaum devoted to researching ME, fibromyalgia, and chronic Lyme disease—recently announced that they sense a meaningful shift taking place as public conversations about and more truthful media representations of these conditions increase. At the start of 2018, widespread public conversations around the release of Brea’s film Unrest combined with media attention and lobbying by academics and others allowed the ME epidemic to catch the eye of the philanthropist known as ‘Pine’ of The Pineapple Fund, who subsequently donated $5M to Open Medicine Foundation—proof that the correction of misleading narratives about these illnesses (such as the idea of ME as a basic “chronic fatigue syndrome” that only leaves one “tired”) and the dispelling of popular myths (like the notion that a disability must be ‘visible’ in order to be real) have a significant impact on progress, actually speeding increases in funding and improvements in care for those suffering.

Some of the #MEAction team in Birmingham last year. Credit: #MEAction

Stories of the tireless activism of patient-advocates and others in the chronic illness community – perceived as ‘inspiring’ and “motivational’ – are often spun into feel-good narratives about human will and empowerment presented for public consumption. In reality, their required activism is an immense burden that puts further strain on bodies already under attack. Advocacy work should not be left only to those who suffer and their families and caretakers.

Fundraising for research is an absolute necessity, but those unable to give can also help simply by participating in #ConversationsforCures – that is, any dialogue that helps to bring much-needed attention and awareness to these conditions and the suffering of those living with them. These conversations that will almost certainly lead to greater funding for research, a better quality of life for millions suffering around the world, and, quite possibly, cures.

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Wedding two weeks away? How to get toned like Meghan Markle

Wedding two weeks away? How to get toned like Meghan Markle

prince harry and meghan markle wedding date
Prince Harry proposed while he and Meghan were cooking together

With Meghan Markle‘s wedding just two weeks away, there’s no doubt the bride-to-be has amped up her fitness regime. The future Royal is already a fan of yoga, but we thought we’d ask the experts at Virgin Active to see if there were any other easy exercises to add to the workout list.

With two weeks to go until your wedding day, what is the one move brides-to-be can’t afford to miss to look and feel their best?

Ahead of their special day, brides often experience increased stress levels or nerves. Exercise is the perfect antidote to manage stress levels and ensure you feel calm and confident in the build up to your wedding day.

To look and feel your best, with a fortnight to go, focus on exercise you enjoy that makes you feel good. If you are short on time, be efficient with work outs and prioritise moves which engage the whole body to capitalise on endorphins and benefit from increased energy levels.


Full range squats with an overhead press is the best total-body move that’s physically challenging, whilst also providing a mental escape that will tone, define and sculpt.

If brides are looking to improve muscle tone in specific areas of their physique, which might be revealed by their dress, full range squats are also a great way to encourage definition in shoulders, glutes, quads, hamstrings and core. Building strength in these muscles also helps to improve structural balance and encourages strong posture – perfect for promoting confidence in wedding pictures.

Plenty of water

With a few weeks till the big day, do not give in to wedding preparation stress. Maintain a balanced diet with clean, single ingredient foods and drink lots of water which will rid the body of toxins and fuel a glowing complexion on the big day.


Finally, the night before the big day, if time allows, enjoy a yoga class to leave you feeling calm, composed and confident. Virgin Active offer a Calm by Candlelight yoga class which is the perfect antidote to combat any last-minute aisle nerves!

The killer Combo Exercise:

Barbell Front Squats into Overhead Press.

  • 4 x sets of 12 reps using a challenging weight but with strict form throughout
  • Place & hold the barbell across the front of the shoulders, elbows elevated to shoulder height
  • Feet in parallel placed under hips. Full range squats for full muscle recruitment, driving the heels into the ground on the ascension, maintaining an upright back throughout
  • Once the legs are lengthened, raise the barbell directly overhead before lowering the barbell to the starting position. Brace your core throughout to protect the lower back

Tip: Add 3 sets of wide Plié Squat mid-range Pulses for 15 reps at the end of this set for that extra burn!

What are the best exercises for the groom looking to ensure he feels his best on the big day?

For the groom, aspirations to set their congregation – and soon to be wife – at ease with a confident stance on their wedding day may mean pre-nuptial training plans are strength focused. But to maximise long term benefits and feel your most confident on the big day (and on the honeymoon!) focus on training the whole body to release tension and fire up the metabolism.

To ease any nerves in the lead up to your special day, maintain variation in your training plan, ensuring consistency and adequate rest to relax both your mind and muscles. As the leading man, focus on the chest, deltoids, biceps and triceps to assist in achieving a V-Taper shape that will leave you feeling confident in your suit.

Strong quadriceps can also help to create the visual impact of a smaller mid-section so gents, get squatting too!

The Exercises:

Chest Superset

  • Incline dumbbell bench press & incline full range dumbbells flys.
  • 4 x sets of 10 Reps

Tip: You are chasing the “Pump”. Use a challenging weight but ensure you’re still able to execute full range of movement

Biceps: Alternating Dumbbell Underhand Curls

  • 4 x sets of 10 Reps each
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip and with your palms facing your sides. This is your starting position
  • Raise one dumbbell towards your shoulder while simultaneously rotating the back of your hand. Pause with your palm facing your shoulder

Triceps: Skull Crushers

  • These are typically performed with an EZ barbell, lying on a bench holding the bar in an overhand grip bringing the elbows in-line with eyebrows

Tip: Keep the elbows ridged, taking the forearms through the full range of movement, feeling the contractions through the triceps as you bring it parallel to the ceiling

The post Wedding two weeks away? How to get toned like Meghan Markle appeared first on Marie Claire.

How floatation therapy is the A-List cure for jet lag

How floatation therapy is the A-List cure for jet lag

Here’s everything to know about it, from how therapy works to its A-list following

jet lag

Words by James Wong

One hour in the tank = eight hours deep sleep? You have just a week to do NYC and you’ve only just shaken off jet-lag come day six. Then it’s back to the UK and the whole tossing and turning in bed, fighting to keep your eyes open at the company meeting and dozing off at lunch routine starts its cycle.

How do international superstars hop from one time zone to the next without a triple espresso and four cans of Red Bull to kick start their morning? There are many possible answers but floatation therapy has recently risen as the stars’ secret weapon against jet lag.

Boasting a number of health benefits, floatation pods are popping up all over the world to cater to those in the know.

Edward Hawley of London’s Floatworks gives us the low down.

What is floatation therapy?

‘Floatation therapy is the practice of lying back on warm Epsom salt water inside a sensory deprivation pod, and gently drifting off into an extreme state of meditation for at least one hour’ says Ed, ‘sessions help eliminate stress and improve overall health and fitness. In terms of sleep, floatation significantly reduces anxiety which in turn leads to a calmer person that is much better at sleeping.’ Many practitioners even claim that one hour of sleep in the tank is equivalent to up to eight hours of deep sleep.

How does floatation therapy work?

Isolation pods are designed to block out all external distractions, so we can enter such a deep meditative state. You lie there in pitch black silence, while solution and air are heated to skin temperature, removing the senses of touch as it’s impossible to tell which parts of your body are in the water and which are not.

‘When we float our brain has no sensory inputs. This reduces activation levels in an area of the brain called the “salience network” which is responsible for processing inputs and diverting our attention to our sensory cortices. Floating reduces cortisol, brain activity and pressure on the joints and muscular skeletal system. So that aligns with the stress and strain of long haul travel and the lack of sleep.’ says Ed.

What else does floatation therapy do?

Floatation pods contain a super-saturated Epsom salt solution, which carries a number of healing properties. The solution acts as an exfoliate which is great for your skin, hair and nails. The salts soothe joint pain, ease stress and relax the body. Magnesium, which is commonly missing from our diets, is absorbed through the skin while sulphate eliminates toxins and helps our bodies to naturally detox. ‘In a nutshell, you’ll get out of the tank feeling silky smooth, relaxed and rejuvenated.’ Ed summarises.

The celeb following:

Supermodel fans include Elle Macpherson and Jessica Hart, and actress Naomie Harris swears by the practice when it comes to punishing overseas promotional schedules. ‘I’ve discovered that the only way to combat the effects of travelling is to immerse myself in a dark pod, filled with salt water and float for an hour,’ Harris told Balance. ‘I go straight there from the airport, but my dream is to have my own tank at home.’

‘We have a long list of musicians, actresses and athletes who come to Floatworks on a regular basis’, reveals Ed, ‘They comment that it puts them in a great headspace and promotes both focus and creativity at work, and of course, that it helps them fight the effects of international travel and late nights in the city.’

The post How floatation therapy is the A-List cure for jet lag appeared first on Marie Claire.

The best hay fever remedies to banish symptoms for good

The best hay fever remedies to banish symptoms for good

Hay fever season is well and truly here. Sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose? We spoke to the experts to find out the best hay fever cures out there…

hayfever remedies

Looking for some hay fever treatments and natural hay fever remedies? Experiencing the incurable tickle at the back of your throat; the unbridled fear when you realise you have no tissues on you; the fact you have to hate summer by default.

Well, welcome to the life of a hay fever sufferer.

One in five of us suffer from hay fever in the UK. Hay fever is at its worst from May onwards when the UK grass pollen season starts, which affects 95 per cent of hay fever sufferers and runs until July.

Hay fever symptoms

Symptoms include a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, the sensation of having mucus at the back of your throat, coughing, tiredness, headaches (yes, hay fever can give you headaches) and a general feeling of being miserable.

True hayfever is seasonal, and only occurs at specific times of the year,’ explains Amena Warner, National Nurse Advisor for Allergy UK. ‘Symptoms usually start at the beginning of April or May, when it peaks, then decreases by the end of July, beginning of August, depending on weather patterns.’

Are you sat there thinking, do I have hay fever, or am I just suffering with a cold? Well, the easiest way to tell the difference between hayfever and a common cold is through your mucus. With hayfever, the mucus is usually clear and colourless and the nose feels itchy. With a common cold, the nasal discharge can be green. You can also get a temperature with a cold.

Warner elaborates, ‘In the absence of a temperature, no green discharge and if its within hayfever season, this is usually indicative of an allergy.’

Now, whilst there’s no definitive cure for hay fever, but we’ve rounded up some of the best hay fever treatments to relieve symptoms, including top tips from leading allergy expert Dr Jean Emberlin, Director of Pollen UK.

Hay fever treatment


Available as hayfever tablets or nasal sprays, antihistamines work by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which is released by the body in the hay fever allergic reaction. Antihistamines can either be taken as a preventative treatment on days when you know there’s going to be a high pollen count, or as needed when you first notice you’re developing symptoms.

Corticosteroid nasal sprays and drops

These steroid treatments are most effective if you start taking them a couple of weeks before symptoms start. If you have a big event coming up, such as a wedding or holiday, your GP might prescribe a short course of corticosteroids to help control the symptoms during that time.

Nasal decongestants

If your hay fever is causing a blocked nose, nasal decongestants such as Care Decongestant Tablets, £2.09, can be useful as they have an anti-inflammatory effect, helping to reduce the swelling of blood vessels in the nose.

Cellulose powder nasal spray

All of the remedies above can have mild side effects, but a natural cellulose powder spray such as Care Allergy Defence, £5.99, has no side effects and is non-drowsy. When sprayed into the nose, it forms a protective gel layer, which acts as a barrier to allergens. It should be used at least three times a day, but can be used as often as needed.

Eye drops

To help treat red, itchy eyes, use drops such as Opticrom Single Dose Eye Drops, £7.99 (pack of 20 x 0.3ml) or Opticrom Hayfever Eye Drops, £4.70 (3ml).


Rub the base of your nose with a nasal balm to help trap pollen before it enters your body. It’s invisible and most are non greasy, so you don’t end up with a shiny rim around your nostrils

Have a spoonful of honey

It’s sounds counter-intuitive, but honey can desensitise your body to other pollens and reduce hay fever symptoms. It also happens to be the most delicious remedy out of all the choices. Try an unprocessed honey, like Manuka, to see the best benefits.


This naturally occurring pigment can be found in foods such as carrots, apricots, pumpkin, sweet potato and spinach and acts as a powerful antioxidant to help reduce inflammation and fortify your immune system.

Brew a cuppa

Chamomile tea is known to relieve inflammation in your airways. Not only is chamomile an antioxidant with an antihistamine effect, it’s also a source of flavonoids, which help strengthen your nasal membranes to prevent irritating particles, like pollen, from entering your bloodstream.

Eat fish

Omega fatty acids contained in fish are important for a healthy immune system. The first phase of an immune reaction is an inflammatory reaction – and fish oil is an anti-inflammatory. Not only that, it’s a great booster for your immune system.

Clear out your fridge

A lot of foods can help reduce hay fever symptoms, but a lot of them can exacerbate the situation. Ditch dairy (you can get calcium another way) because it over stimulates your glands and try to avoid tomatoes, which, although are great antioxidants are also naturally high in histamines.

Shower at night

Can hay fever make you tired and puffy? Can it ever. If you wash your hair in the morning, switch it to night-time. This will get rid of any pollen that’s found its way into your hair, so it won’t end up on your pillow and wreak havoc while you’re sleeping. Puffy morning eyes, be gone. Try this in tandem with this one workout that can actually help you sleep better and you’ll be sorted.

Put down the bubbly

We know it’s cruel, especially during summer, but drinking alcohol worsens symptoms. In fact, research from a team of Danish experts found that drinking alcohol increases the chance of an attack by three percent. If you can’t bear it, alternate with glasses of water.

Add garlic

Just two raw cloves a day will reduce excess catarrh (AKA a stuffy nose). It also contains antioxidants that act as super antihistamines. Apologise to the office in advance.

Beware of your washing line

Don’t hang washing outside on high pollen count days. The pollen will collect on your clothes and bedding and could trigger symptoms.

NB: Talk to your GP or pharmacist to see which treatments are best for you.

The post The best hay fever remedies to banish symptoms for good appeared first on Marie Claire.

Win £200 to spend at Marie Claire Sport and £200 worth of Lola’s Apothecary goodies

Win £200 to spend at Marie Claire Sport and £200 worth of Lola’s Apothecary goodies

We’ve teamed up with Lola’s Apothecary for an amazing self-love and self-care giveaway…

Marie Claire sport X Lola's apothecary

Marie Claire Sport and Lola’s Apothecary teaming up for a competition? What could be better!

Here at Marie Claire we’ve just launched Marie Claire Sport – a supercharged new athleisure range which we want you to enjoy! Designed for your day to day lifestyle or for a hardcore work out, this range has it all. It focuses on comfort and style while also supporting an active lifestyle.

As Spring unfolds around us and the beautiful blooms unfurl from their winter sleep it’s time for our bodies to also awaken with renewed energy and purpose.

This is the perfect time to re-connect with your body through exercise, which is exactly why we have teamed up with our lovely friends at Lola’s Apothecary for an amazing self-love and self-care giveaway.

Lola’s Apothecary is all about body wellness. Selling ethically sourced body products that are 100% natural and vegan friendly! Their customers believe in self-love and being kind to themselves and their products have been on the beauty shortlist awards across the country. So why would you miss out on this competition?

One lucky winner will receive a £200 to spend with Marie Claire Sport plus over £200 worth of goodies from Lola’s Apothecary! This includes some our favourites from Lola’s Apothecary ‘Breath of Clarity Uplifting’ range, which is perfect for active bodies;

Breath of clarity uplifting range

Breath of Clarity Naturally Fragrant Candle,


Bath & Shower Oil,


Body & Massage Oil,

Body Polish,

The iconic Delicate Romance Body & Massage Oil.

How to enter

To enter all you need to do to enter is follow both @lolasapothecary and @marieclairesport on Instagram and tag two friends in a comment below each competition on each account. So what are you waiting for?

Giveaway open until the 16th April extra entries will be awarded for reposting and for entering on Facebook and Twitter as well. Entries open globally. 


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