Sunday, March 31, 2013

Before & After Success Story (Nikki)

Hi all!  Today, I'm introducing you to Nikki (Hello Stripes) and sharing her weight-loss success story.  I hope you are inspired! Thanks so much Nikki- you look amazing!

* * * * * 

So, I've been on my Advocare journey (more about what Advocare is at the end of this post) for 14 or so weeks now (I say journey because I don't see it ever ending). 
Here I was post baby no. 2 (October 1, 2012 - he was 6 months - note: I gained the majority of my weight after baby. Yay!) at around 180# and 25.5% body fat. I was drinking a bottle of wine a day (no joke, I had it with breakfast - that's what they do on RHONJ, right?) and as it turns out, that was adding up to a whole lotta calories. I woke up one day and decided this is not cool. I was sick of my thighs rubbing together and this bat wing thing happening on my arms - I had no energy and even less self-confidence.

So, by complete kismet, I found my now dear, dear friend Danielle and long story short, started Advocare right away. And here I am now (January 23, 2013) at 159# somewhere around 18% body fat. Update: As of March 17, 2013 I am at 155# and 15% body fat and I have triceps and calves for the first time in as long as I can remember.

I followed Honey We're Healthy and was so inspired by Megan. She works, has an adorable little boy, a house that's to die forand was still able to live a healthy life style. I figured if she could do it, so could I.  I followed Megan's lead and started (and finished!)Jamie Eason's 12-week LiveFit program and LOVED it, but then read Jenna's story and decided to take the plunge and start CrossFit. Advocare also has a killer DVD with 24 minute workouts. It's great for super busy people who can't necessarily commit to the gym everyday, but still want to get fit. CrossFit and Advocare have taught me so much. I know it sounds silly, but I am a better mother, wife, friend and person because of them. I've gained so much confidence (and energy!).

What is Advocare, you ask? It is so many things to me, but basically, it's a comprehensive line of nutritionally advanced supplements that SUPPLEMENT your diet and exercise program(s). It's not magic in a pill, it's elite nutrition and really, it's notjust supplements, it's a lifestyle. A lifestyle I wanted, but didn't know where to start. I was in a place where I think a lot of people are "I want to get healthy but don't know how. Just show/tell me what to do and I'll do it". Advocare also has a TON of big name, unpaid endorsers and a solution for everyone, be it a stay-at-home mom or an NFL player. 

Advocare has taught me that nothing worth having comes easy and it doesn't happen overnight. It gave me the support and motivation to keep going when the going got tough (and believe me, it did) and just take it day by day. 

The 24-Day Challenge is the core of the line and it's meant to kickstart your weight loss or break through plateaus. You can read more about that here. And although weight loss is often a result, the whole goal of the Challenge, and all of Advocare really, is health and nutrition. 

So, here's what my day looks like - I'm still nursing baby no. 2 so, I have to do a modified routine. I think it's taken me longer to get results than most people, but I am just thankful that these particular Advocare products are safe for pregnant/breastfeeding mom's. Pretty awesome.


SPARK (oh how I love thee)
Catalyst (I HIGHLY recommend if it's tone/definition you're after)
Post-Workout Recovery (like a little treat. SO good)
Rehydrate (only if I have a super hard/long workout)

And here's what my usual daily diet looks like. I don't advocate cutting out any food groups (Atkins-type 'diets') but, I will say that I have cut out gluten (about 98% of the time) and diary (with the exception of the whey protein in some of my Advocare products) and have never felt better. 


Upon waking:
Spark + Catalyst +  OmegaPlex

30 - 45 minutes later:
Meal Replacement Shake (on workout days) OR scrambled egg whites with avocado and sriracha and (2) slices of Udi's Whole Grain Gluten Free Bread toasted

After workout:
Post Workout Recovery Shake 

Mid-morning snack (on off days):
Apple with handful of almonds OR banana with almond butter OR Tuna Salad 

I hold the dairy products and add avocado and sriracha (hmmm...I'm seeing a trend here)
I also use a TON of Megan's recipes. This is one of my absolute favorites right now. 

Mid-afternoon snack:

Here's where it gets tricky. My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy so, I've had to figure out meals that will please us both. I've got some tricks up my sleeve (I've managed to go gluten free without him knowing...)
Again, I use a lot of Megan's recipes and I have a lot pinned to my Clean Eating board that I pull from. 
I basically follow the equation (? is that what you call it? It's been a long time since algebra)

Protein + Vegetable + Complex Carb

Before Bed:
Muscle Gain + CorePlex + OmegaPlex

I won't go on and on about every dish or ingredient but please email me if you'd like me to send you a list.

It's easy once you get into a routine. I think that's one of the many benefits of the 24-Day Challenge, it's short enough that it doesn't overwhelm you but, long enough to get results, break bad habits and build a new routine. 

I have learned that it's so important to set goals for yourself and BE PATIENT! It won't happen overnight, but I promise if you stick to it - it will happen.

 Healthy living is only sustainable when you are intentional about it. It also really helps to have a support system and/or accountability partner. All of this has really helped me 're-calibrate'. I no longer consume an entire bottle of wine, a glass is almost too much. I now eat to perform. I eat what makes me feel good. I eat for nutrition. 

That's not to say I don't have my splurges, I do - I actually think that allowing yourself that actually helps you stay on track and in it for the long haul. 

I truly hope that my journey inspires you in some way to start your own if you haven't already. If I can do this with two wild boys (2.5 and 10 months), you can do it too...promise :)

I want to sincerely thank Megan and Danielle for inspiring and supporting me.

Please feel free to comment or contact me with any questions! I'd love to help you with your health and fitness goals too :) If I can do it, you can do it! It's all about doing something you never thought you possibly could.

TRUTH & LIES: an Arts and Health NEWS FLASH

Thanks to one sharp-eyed reader for sending me their copy of the Sun for todays blog!

...and thanks too, for these words of support from our new project sponsor - George Clooney.

Manchester Arts Gallery closed after degenerate hooligans smash paintings!

The Guardian reports...
“...when Manchester Art Gallery was due to close and few people were about, an attendant heard ‘crackings of glass’ coming from one of the Galleries.

Two attendants ran into the Gallery and found three women, Lilian Forrester, Annie Briggs, Evelyn Manesta, running round, cracking the glass of the biggest and most valuable pictures in the collections. It had been well planned. Nowhere else in the Gallery were hung so many famous pictures, so close together.

The Gallery doors were shut by the doorkeeper and the three women were caught . The Chief Constable and a superintendent took the women to the Town Hall for questioning. They were charged under the Malicious Damage Act, 1861, and released on bail until the next morning when they appeared before the Stipendiary Magistrate.”

Click on the BURN poster above for the full story. Additionally Jeanette Winterson writes on suffrage, Pussy Riot and the battles that remain to be fought.

Did you know, that whilst the media seems keen to point the finger at countries like Saudi Arabia where women don’t have the right to vote - closer to our cosy western homes, women can’t vote in the state of the Vatican City! Ahh the liberty that monotheism brings. 

Music is BAD for your health and well-being: or State Sponsored Bigotry?

Following the publication last year of its pocket-size guide on the ‘symptoms of homosexuality’, (don’t forget that there are handy camps to ‘correct effeminate behaviour’ too) the Malaysian Government has invested in a musical (hmmm) to warn young people about the perils of being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) But first, let’s remind ourselves, how do we spot ‘em? This is what the Malaysian Government advise...keep your eyes peeled:

For gays:
  • Muscular body and a fondness for showing off the body by wearing clothing, such as by wearing V-necks and sleeveless tops
  • A preference for tight and bright coloured clothes
  • An inclination to be attracted to men
  • A tendency to carry big handbags, similar to the kinds used by women
For lesbians:
  • Showing attraction to women
  • Distancing themselves from women other than their girlfriends
  • A preference for hanging out, sleeping and dining with women
  • Absence of feelings for men
Really helpful stuff - You couldn't script it, could you? Asmara Songsang (Abnormal Desire) follows the lives of three LGBT friends who throw loud parties, take drugs and have casual sex, thereby incurring the wrath of their pious neighbours, who attempt to reintroduce them to religion. Those who repent are spared, while those who don't are killed in a lightning storm.

Rahman Adam, 73, who wrote and directed the musical, commented, "Children need to recognise that men are for women, and women are for men. They [LGBT] are all out to have homosexual and lesbian sex, and although right now it is not so serious [in Malaysia], we need to act, to do something, to say something, to say that this is bad and not to follow it."

And when it comes to ‘curing’ homosexuality, the mantle seems to have been passed back to religion following the failure of science to iron out this unsavoury variance in what it is to be human. It was only this year that one of psychiatry's most influential figures, Dr Robert Spritzer, co-author of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in the US, apologised to America's gay people for a scientific study looking at ‘reparative therapy’ supporting attempts to "cure" people of their homosexuality through medication and psychological treatments. Spitzer has since apologised, commenting, ‘I believe I owe the gay community an apology," his letter said. "I also apologise to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works.’ Click on Pray your Gay Away for more on the Spitzer story.

This bigoted perspective isn’t something confined to Malaysia or the hallowed halls of American psychiatry, or the scare-mongering diktats of religion, it might be wrapped up in other ideologies, but in some of the Baltic states of Europe, this doctrine based on ignorance and hate, is still upheld. This is why it’s great to see the work of South African photographer Zanele Muholi who’s spent the last 10 years creating a visual archive of black lesbian life in South Africa and challenging entrenched attitudes. Muholi describes the huge contrasts for gay people in South Africa: on the one hand it has been enormously progressive and in 1996 became the first country in the world to constitutionally prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation; on the other, there is a culture of fear if you are gay, and serious hate crime is a huge problem, including "corrective" rape to "straighten out" lesbians. In the last year, four women have been murdered because of their sexuality. Click on the photograph below to find out more about Zanele Muholi.

The city that BANNED MUSIC 
hosts a music festival
Somalia’s capital  Mogadishu, held its first music festival in 25 years this week with Waayaha Cusub headlining. The collective, whose Shiine Akhyaar Ali was shot and left for dead by militants in 2007 are among artists from several countries playing the Mogadishu Festival, whose tour then moves on to Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya: the biggest refugee camp in the world. 

The things we could learn from other countries in the world eh? Do we need a Randomised Control Trial to understand how music might make people feel in a refugee camp like this? What a ridiculous thought. The people in these camps want safety, shelter, food, access to health care, education and some political stability - fundamental human rights. Music is in all our blood though - taking it away only makes the passion to create far, far stronger.

At the last count, there were 426,000 people living in Dadaab - can you imagine  the festival happening there? Powerful stuff and growing from the ground up. 

創造 = creation  想像 = imagination
OK...last comment for today. Souzou is an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, that I’ve not seen yet, but that looks stunning.

The above are two meanings of the Japanese word souzou that allude to a force by which new ideas are born and take shape in the world. In the context of exhibition, Souzou refers to the practise of 46 self-taught artists living and working within social welfare facilities across Japan. In short, it’s an exhibition of what we now know as ‘outsider art,’ commonly used to describe work made by artists who have received little or no tuition but produce work for the sake of creation alone, without an audience in mind, and who are perceived to inhabit the margins of mainstream society. The artists in this exhibition have been diagnosed with a variety of different cognitive, behavioural and developmental disorders or mental illnesses, and are residents or day attendees of specialist care institutions.  
Nobuo Onishi
You can read all about it on their web pages and if you see the work before me, let me know what you think. I love that we talk about our mental health and wellbeing more and more. I love it that stigma around ill health is slowly being chipped away at. I also love to see art that is fresh and different, and that emerges from people outside the ‘market’ - but I wonder how much we exoticise ‘the marginalized’ like caged birds. I wonder how many of the people whose work is on show really wanted to exhibit their work and I wonder do we run the risk of using it as some apotropaic fetish?     

I for one, always enjoy the curation of the Wellcome exhibitions and I’m sure this will be a beautiful and informative show. Lets just hope it adds to our understanding of the diversity and similarity of what it is to be human - and how art helps us make sense of this one experience of life. 

Funding for International Youth Partnerships (UK)
Public and other not-for-profit organisations active in the field of youth services are being invited to apply for funding of up to €100,000 for projects promoting cooperation in the youth sector with eligible partner countries other than the neighbouring countries of the European Union (Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Asia, etc). The funding is being made available through Action 3.2 of the EU’s Youth in Action programme. Preference will be given to those projects which best reflect the permanent priorities of the ‘Youth in Action’ programme, these are:
·  The participation of young people
·  Cultural diversity
·  European citizenship
·  Inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities.
Projects must involve partners from at least four different countries (including the applicant organisation), including at least two programme countries, of which at least one is a Member State of the European Union, and two partner countries. The closing date for applications is the 14th May 2013. Read more at:

Santander Community Plus Fund (UK)
The Santander Foundation has launched a new £1.23 million Community Plus fund to support charities helping local disadvantaged people across the UK. UK registered charities can apply for a grant of up to £5,000. The funding must be for a specific project that helps disadvantaged people. For example this could be for a piece of equipment or to pay for the costs of a part time sessional worker.

The only criteria for the Community Plus grants are:
·  The applicant must be a UK registered charity
·  The applicant must be a local charity or local project of a larger charity
·  The grant must benefit local disadvantaged people

To apply, just visit any Santander branch and complete a nomination form. The completed form should be dropped into the box provided in your local There are no closing dates and entries will be regularly considered by a panel of staff drawn from across the region.

Successful charities will be notified within 2 months of submitting their nomination. Read more at
I send invisible waves of thanks to you for bothering to read this infernal gibberish and apologies in advance if next weeks blog just doesn't materialise...C.P.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Civil Dialogue on a Traditionally Volatile Topic

Patrick Monaghan
JSPH Director of Communications

If there was one thing that the inaugural Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Project proved, it’s that two people from differing sides of the health care debate can come together and have an intelligent conversation about this traditionally volatile topic.

Thursday evening’s public forum was conducted at Beth SholomCongregation in Elkins Park, the spectacular synagogue designed, appropriately enough, by Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright’s structures, of course, were designed to work in harmony with humanity and its environment.

The event is the brainchild of Dina Baker, a congregation member who works in the healthcare field, to honor her late father. The experts were our very own David B. Nash, and Stuart Butler, director of the Center for Policy Innovation at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. Moderating the event was Chris Satullo, vice president for news and civic dialogue at WHYY/Newsworks Philadelphia. Satullo set the mood for the evening in his opening remarks: “Tonight is not a debate. No one will win, no one will lose. Disagreements will remain.”

And that’s pretty much how the discussion unfolded. If you’re into labels, Dr. Nash’s leanings are more liberal; Dr. Butler’s, conservative. Regardless, these two health policy experts were clearly on the same page more often than not. When Dr. Nash said cutting waste, not cost, is the right tact for improved performance in our healthcare system, Dr. Butler concurred, adding that the problem is determining what, exactly, is waste. When Mr. Satullo suggested that electronic medical records have not proven to be the efficient, waste-cutting tool advertised under the Affordable Care Act, both parties agreed. The bigger problem, Dr. Nash said, is that we still fail to practice basic care coordination.

Dr. Nash did draw what was perhaps the biggest applause of the evening when he defended the ACA as an attempt by the Obama Administration to do the right thing. Perfect? Far from it. A good start? Yes. And something that previously had never been accomplished in this country.

Still, countered Dr. Butler, the federal government needs to realize its limitations when it comes to fixing our healthcare system. The U.S. healthcare spend, he noted, is equivalent to the sixth largest economy in the world.

In the end, both agreed it is important for all citizens to engage in the conversation on health care. There are steps we can all take to influence how healthcare dollars are spent, be it by exercising more, initiating important conversations with family members about end-of-life care, or, as Dr. Nash said, practicing charity.

Disagreements may have been hard to come by at the inaugural Bernard Wolfman forum. Smart, civil dialogue certainly was not.

Drs. Butler and Nash authored commentaries that ran in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer. You can read Dr. Nash's commentary here, and Dr. Butler's, here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Oldies, But Goodies

1. Hair Diary || Protective While Straight
2. Carrots, Hair, and Body
3. Ginkgo Biloba: Vitiligo, Hair Regrowth, Etc.
4. Short Twist/Braid Styles: Part II
5. Hair Diary || The Many Facets of Natural

Mixology || Shea Butter Conditioner from Scratch

You do not need a lot of ingredients for this mixture nor do you need any hard-to-find ones.  All you need are an inexpensive conditioner, shea butter, and olive oil.

4 parts cheap conditioner (e.g., VO5, Suave, etc.)
2 parts shea butter
1 part extra virgin olive oil
*Optional: feel free to use another oil instead (e.g., safflower)

1. Melt the shea butter until soft but not until a liquid.
2. Whip the shea butter the safflower oil and conditioner.
3. Apply the concoction to freshly washed hair.  Let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse and style as usual.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Healthy Hair on Youtube: Cassandre

Cassandre Beccai is a type 4 natural with uber (yes, uber) long hair. Check out her video below where she describes her hair care regimen and wash routine. Also check out the rest of her channel.


Study || Almond Oil Massage for Stretch Marks

Some of you have probably heard that application of cocoa butter (during pregnancy) reduces the likelihood of developing stretch marks.  Well according to a few studies published a few years ago, cocoa butter does not appear to be effective like some believe [1][2].

So how about olive oil?  Well, a study published last year does not support the application of olive oil as being effective either [3].

So what oil/butter might work then?  Research does support is that massaging with almond oil may reduce the development of stretch marks [4].


Monday, March 25, 2013

Workout Binder (Workouts Post 12-Week Program)

Now that I've completed the Jamie Eason 12-Week Training Program, I needed to figure out what to do next.  The last couple of weeks I slacked off on my workouts, so time to get back to it!  I want to continue the strength training (especially on my legs/glutes) and picked a few of my favorite workouts from the Jamie Eason program and will continue to do those to build muscle.  I think they are all from Week 7 of the program.  I'm also looking forward to trying the spin classes at my gym, and now that the weather is warming up here, I'm going to start jogging outside again.

I went ahead and printed the workouts (Arms, Back, Shoulders, and two Leg workouts), wrote in the weight I typically lift for easy reference, them laminated them so I can use them while I work out.  I could commit them to memory, but this is easy and mindless so I don't have to think about what comes next.  

I have printed out all of the workouts from the 12-week program and keep them in a binder, along with my measurements so I can track my progress.  The binder is just an inexpensive 1-inch white three-ring binder with a plastic cover, so I inserted something to motivate me on the front. 

I love the shot of this strong woman climber and the quote that accompanies it.  

And on the back, I included a shot of a muscular and feminine physique I admire.  That booty- dang! 

Those pages are from Oxygen magazine.  The binder lives in my workout bag along with my mini i-Pod, workout gloves, and water bottle.  

How do you keep track of your workouts?

* * * * * 

spin class


Drs. Francisco Cervantes and Marivic Torregosa, and the 2013 Ancestral Health Symposium

Last year I traveled to South Korea to give presentations on nonlinear structural equation modeling and WarpPLS (). These are an advanced statistical analysis technique and related software tool, respectively, which have been used extensively in this blog to analyze health data, notably data related to the China Study.

I gave a couple of presentations at Korea University, which is in Seoul, and a keynote address at a conference in Gwangju, in the south part of the country. So I ended up seeing quite a lot of this beautiful country, and meeting many people. Some of my impressions regarding health and lifestyle issues need separate blog posts, which are forthcoming.

One issue that kept me thinking, as it did when I visited Japan a few years ago as well, was the obvious leanness of the South Koreans, compared with Americans, even though you don’t see a lot of emphasis on dieting there. Interestingly, this phenomenon also poses a challenge to many dietary schools of thought. For example, consumption of high-glycemic-index carbohydrates seems to be relatively high in South Korea.

The relative leanness of South Koreans is probably due to a combination of factors. A major one, it seems, is often forgotten. It is related to epigenetics. This term, “epigenetics”, is often assigned different meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Here it is used to refer to innate predispositions that don’t have a primarily genetic basis.

Epigenetic phenomena often give the impression that acquired characteristics can be inherited, and are frequently, and misguidedly, used as examples in support of a theory often associated with Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, better known as Lamarck.

A classic example of epigenetics, in this context, is that of a mother with type II diabetes giving birth to a child that will develop type II diabetes at a young age. Typically type II diabetes develops in adults, but its incidence in children has been increasing lately, particularly in certain areas. And I think that this classic example is in part related to the general leanness of South Koreans and of people in other cultures where adoption of highly industrialized foods has been relatively slow.

In other words, I think that it is possible that a major protection in South Korea, as well as in Japan and other countries, is the cultural resistance, particularly among older generations, against adopting modern diets and lifestyles that deviate from their traditional ones.

This brings me to Drs. Francisco Cervantes and Marivic Torregosa (pictured below). Dr. Cervantes is the Chief Director of Laredo Pediatrics and Neonatology, a pediatrician who studied and practiced in a variety of places, including Mexico, New Jersey, and Texas. Dr. Torregosa is a colleague of mine, a college professor and nurse practitioner in Laredo, with a Ph.D. in nursing and a research interest in child obesity.

As it turns out, Laredo, a city in Southwestern Texas near the border with Mexico, seems like the opposite of South Korea in terms of health, and this may well be related to epigenetics. This presents an enormous opportunity for research, and for helping people who really need help.

In Laredo, as well as in other areas where insulin resistance and type II diabetes are rampant, there is a great deal of variation in health. There are very healthy folks in Laredo, and very sick ones. This great deal of variation is very useful in the identification of causative factors through advanced statistical analyses. Lack of variation tends to have the opposite effect, often “hiding” causative effects.

Drs. Cervantes, Torregosa, and I had a presentation accepted for the 2013 Ancestral Health Symposium (). It is titled “Gallbladder Disease in Children: Separating Myths from Facts”. It is entirely based on data collected and analyzed by Dr. Cervantes, who is very knowledgeable about statistics. Below is the abstract.

Cholesterol’s main role in the body is to serve as raw material for bile acids; the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids by the liver accounts for approximately 70 percent of the daily disposal of cholesterol. Bile acids are then stored in the gallbladder and secreted to aid in the digestion of dietary fat. It is often believed that high cholesterol levels cause gallbladder disease. In this presentation, we will discuss various aspects of gallbladder disease, with a focus on children. The presentation will be based on data from 2116 patients of the Laredo Pediatrics & Neonatology. The patients, 1041 boys and 1075 girls, are largely first generation American-born children of Hispanic descent; a group at very high risk of developing gallbladder disease. This presentation will dispel several myths, and lay out a case for a strong association between gallbladder disease and abnormally high body fat levels. Gallbladder disease appears to be largely preventable in children through diet and lifestyle modifications, some of which will be discussed during the presentation.

Many people seem to be unaware of the fact that cholesterol production and disposal are strongly associated with secretion of bile acids. Most of the body's cholesterol is used to produce bile acids, which are reabsorbed from the gut, in a cyclical process. This is the reason behind the use of "bile acid sequestrants" to reduce cholesterol levels.

The focus on gallbladder disease in the presentation comes from an interest by Dr. Cervantes, based on his many years of clinical experience, in using gallbladder disease markers to identify and prevent other conditions, including several conditions associated with what we refer to as diseases of affluence or civilization.

Dr. Cervantes is unique among clinical practitioners in that he spends a lot of time analyzing data from his patients. His knowledge of data analyses techniques rivals that of many professional researchers I know. And he does that at his own expense, something that most clinical practitioners are unwilling to do. Dr. Cervantes and I will be co-authoring blog posts here in the future.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

NHS countdown - minus 7

So - we’ve one week left before radical ‘free-market’ changes take place in our NHS. Be prepared, be very prepared. You may think that this isn’t something that’s going to affect us - but it is. You, me and everyone we know that lives in the UK.

Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the RCGP, gave a talk to the British Medical Association on 21st March, which I hope to be able to link you to next week. In her paper, Stand up and be counted - before it is too late, and of which I’m quoting, she reminds us that no-one voted for NHS privatisation and it’s not in the coalition agreement.

She describes a health service that in 2010, was functioning so well that for the first time in her lifetime it was not an election issue. An NHS that has provided what no other country in the world has achieved at the same cost: universal health care in the form of equal access to comprehensive care irrespective of personal income, at a cost to us the tax payer at many billions of pounds less than other comparable health services. A health service that bound us together as a society.

Lord Ara Darzi said “The NHS is the greatest expression of social solidarity found anywhere in the world: it is as much a social movement as it is a health system. It is not just that we stand together but what we stand for: fairness, empathy and compassion. It is for these reasons that we all care so deeply about its future; and it is why I stand ready to contribute to ongoing efforts to invest in and improve the NHS, in any way I can.” 

Ed Hall
This comment about being a social movement is one that gets to the heart of things for me. It’s a comment I’ve heard before from the people I respect - from clinicians; from public health workers; from artists; from free-thinkers and yes, from politicians.

In our manifesto for arts and health Lord Howarth talked about individual and collective integrity, of trust and arduousness, of self-expression - about politics being predicated on our values. Mike White at the Centre for Medical Humanities talked about nurturing a better and fairer society and Gary Christienson of the Society for Arts in Healthcare of how artists help amplify our human nature. Ruth Passman at the Department of Health talked about how the manifesto itself, brought about hope to health, strengthening our resolve in creatively challenging dehumanising or 'warehousing' models of care which can so easily corrode self expression and remove meaning from life. Jami Bladel of KickStart Arts perhaps, hits the nail on the head, describing this small p political manifesto as: ‘at once bleak and hopeful, a troubled text searching for answers, asking questions and promising nothing if we don't start working (creatively) together. It is a starting point. It faces us towards the global revolution we simply cant afford not to have.’

In my latest paper, Inequalities, the Arts and Public Health: Towards an International Conversation I share something of my aspiration for us being part of an arts and public health movement - something that embraces big thinking, but critically brings diverse partners together. From the 1st April, things are set to change fundamentally and as all the confused elements of a dispersed NHS mutate into whatever form emerges from the swamp, arts and culture could shine out like a beacon, offering all sorts of innovation - or else, fade miserably into obscurity.

So, its time to galvanise - but beware: the simpering arts and health bean-counters, blind to any notion of cultural value and driven by singular, market-based justification of their approach to arts, culture and health - are waiting in the wings. Their offer - an insipid prescription for reducing arts and culture to some cost effective, bland panacea. Of course there’s room to explore these ‘efficiency’ questions, but beware again: if we go down this route, we may well end up like our fractured NHS, seeing a dominance of the happy, well-educated, middle-classes accessing what they can already easily afford. If the evidence of your weights and measures are based on cultural placebos for the wealthy worried well, you’ll miss the true value of the arts. Poet, Simon Armitage on the manifesto again, rounds things off for me - It reminds me of something that I've always believed in: that art gives us worth as humans, no matter who we are. And as a consequence makes us more humane.  

A Job Opportunity
Lead Artist: Animating the Odeon, Chester
Deadline: April 15, 2013
Cheshire West and Chester Council are currently looking to appoint an artist to lead on a social engagement project in the old Odeon cinema in Chester.
The Odeon has been selected as the site for a new Theatre and Library in Chester and the Council are initiating a programme of work in two of the old shop units which are part of the building, in order to begin the process of bringing the building back to life and into people's imaginations. The ethos behind the project is to mark the process of change as the building transforms into a city centre theatre; to interact with its previous identity as a cinema and subsequently to its present form as a derelict building.

Cheshire West and Chester Council wish to commission a lead artist to have an overarching view of this project in the Odeon Units over an eighteen month period, and coordinate a programme of activity within the units. The artist will work with the Arts and Festivals team and their partner organisations in developing a strategic, thematic approach for a programme of art commissions / interventions / projects / displays etc within the units.

The programme of activity should consider the place, the people, the surrounding environment, history, partner cultural activity and more.
Project Budget: There is an artist fee of £6000 + VAT. This is inclusive of expenses, travel and subsistence costs.  The artist will work on a self-employed basis. 
Estimated budget of £4500 + VAT is available for a number of commissions and projects during the 18 month project.
Timescale: Project start date is May 2013 running until the end November 2014.
Longer term aims: Cheshire West and Chester Council hope that the projects will be a source of research material that may inform any future public artworks that are commissioned as part of the new theatre.
Closing date: Monday 15th April 2013. For a full artist brief please contact 

Two funding opportunities
BBC Children in Need Major Grants over £10,000
Next application deadline:  15 May 2013 
Grants for not-for-profit organisations that are working with disadvantaged children and young people who are 18 years old and younger living in the UK. BBC Children in Need’s focus is firmly on children and young people experiencing disadvantage. They fund organisations working to combat this disadvantage and to make a real difference to children and young people's lives. Funding is available to organisations that are supporting children and young people of 18 years and under who are experiencing disadvantage through:
· Illness, distress, abuse or neglect.
· Any kind of disability.
· Behavioural or psychological difficulties.
· Living in poverty or situations of deprivation.
Organisations must be working to combat this disadvantage and to make a real difference to children and young people's lives. Read more at: 

Time to Change Grants (England)
The Mental Health charity, Time to Change has announced that its grants programme will re-open for applications on the 6th March 2013.Through the programme, grants of up to £100,000 are available to constituted not for profit organisations for projects that bring people with and without mental health problems together to challenge discrimination in their communities.  Time to Change plan to fund approximately 75 projects between 2012 and 2015.  
The closing date for applications will be 2pm on the 30th April 2013. Read more at 

Just a big fat thank you for visiting again...C.P.