CAFFEINE CRAZY

coffee-addictionI will be the first person to admit I love coffee – the taste, the smell and the ritual of drinking it with friends or while working. Whether it is good or bad for you, everyone has their vices and I figure mine could be worse.

Thank heavens I am not the only one who has an obsession with this black liquid . A recent survey (by Career Builder) showed that 46% of full-time workers are less productive without coffee, and I will chime in and say I am a nicer person once I have had one in the morning!

So who are all these people at work drinking coffee? Topping the list of coffee consuming professions are –

Scientists/Lab Technicianslet’s hope all that caffeine doesn’t impact their lab results, instead it inspires them to solve the world’s problems
Marketing/PR Professionalit is in the job description!
Education Administratorit has to be to relieve the boredom of the job
Editor/Writer think Newsroom and working 20 hours a day
Healthcare Administratoragain…. boring reports
Physiciansee it can’t be that bad if Doctors are drinking it

So where are all these caffeine addicts. You may be surprised to know they aren’t in the US or Australia, but are in Northern Europe.

The top 5 coffee drinking nations (per capita) are – Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and the Netherlands.

So while you are sipping on your coffee reading this, know that you are drinking one of the 500 billion cups of coffee consumed each year!

OLD SCHOOL WEIGHT LOSS

Fitness-Iq-LLC-Shake-Weight_wide
Unfortunately I was not be born with a model’s body, so I have to exercise to counteract my food and wine consumption. And being an avid outdoor exerciser, I always have a giggle to myself when walking past a gym and noticing people reading a magazine or book while they are on a treadmill – I mean seriously is the speed set on 0.5 to be able to do that?

But what is even more amusing is hearing about the latest fitness fad, only to see swarms of people who jump on board believing they can get fit and lose weight by expending no energy at all and still be able to eat McDonalds for lunch (trust me if one really existed I would be all over it!)

So what are the most ridiculous fitness inventions? Here are my top 5 –

1.The Thigh Master
Let’s start old school 1980’s with one of the original fitness “machines” sold on late night television. There wasn’t a lot of thighs mastered and the inventor, Joshua Reynolds, was also behind the Mood Ring, if you weren’t already sceptical!

2.Toning Shoes
Any sporting item promoted and endorsed by Kim Kardashian (the least sporty person on the planet) should be sounding alarm bells! Both the Reebok and Skechers brand have been proven to give zero toning ability.

3.Balance Bands
I really wish I had invented these. With zero “balance” powers (the placebos work exactly the same) millions of people have forked out $29.99 to try and improve strength and balance by via of a rubber bracelet!

4.The Face Trainer
Just in case you wanted to tighten 44 muscles on your face and look like Hanibal Lector while you do it – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hhZR8CS7cgA

5.The Shake Weight
Ohhh my favourite. With more than 4 million units sold, I am hoping that most of these are for spoof presents. A 2.5 pound spring-loaded dumbbell which works by mimicking an action that should be kept for the bedroom!

Unfortunately we know the ugly truth is that it takes plain hard work, dedication and some self-control or discipline in the eating and drinking department, which is not much fun.

What is the craziest fitness fad you have tried?

POP THE CORK!

champAfter a wonderful afternoon of champagne, lobster and even better conversation yesterday, I was asked why I had never featured such an important topic as Sunday brunch on WTF. After all, in some countries (most located in Asia) it is now an institution.

What constitutes a good one? In my mind quality – food, champagne, service and ambience.

So here it is… the world’s best Sunday champagne brunches (according to me and in no particular order)

Singapore
New comers to the island are generally surprised to learn of a great Sunday tradition – hotel brunches. Free flow French champagne, a buffet of lobsters, Wagu steak, amazing cheese platters and a chocolate fountain are stock standard at most of them. And don’t be afraid to bring the kids as the good brunches have an amazing Kid’s Room filled with jumping castles, face painting, special children’s menus and arts and crafts.
WTF Picks – The Four Seasons and Shangri-La (both amazing with kids), Grand Hyatt and St Regis (for adults)

Hong Kong
Not quite to the extent of Singapore, but there is still a good brunch to be found.
WTF Picks – The Ritz Carlton Kowloon for a view, Mandarin Oriental for old school style, Zuma for free-flow extended hours

Dubai
Brunch is held on a Friday in Dubai (Sunday is a weekday for anyone who lives in the UAE) and they do them bigger and better than almost anywhere in the world! But just remember to observe the local laws and don’t get too crazy once you leave the safety net of the hotel as others have been known to end up behind prison bars after too many drinks!
WTF Picks – Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah for over the top madness (a map is supplied when you are seated!), Spectrum On One Fairmont for a party, Planet Hollywood for families

New York
Not so much focused on the free flow of lobster and French champagne, NYC brunches are better known for serving Mimosas or Bloody Marys alongside your eggs benedict… and there is nothing wrong with that approach either.
WTF Picks – The Standard Hotel for fun and funky (loved this first-hand on Christmas Day), The Plaza Hotel for old school, Brasserie Beaumarchais to be seen

Shanghai
China has quickly followed their Asian neighbours and embraced the art of Sunday champagne brunches.
WTF Picks – The Westin has something for the whole family and the Hyatt and Shangri-La for style and service

Of course a brunch experience is always influenced by the company too, so choose your guests carefully!

Where do you think the best champagne brunch is?

OUTSOURCE ME!

Child-cleaningI am the first person to admit I am a HUGE advocate of outsourcing whatever I can.

I have been known to be somewhat of a control freak (I can hear my family screaming yes at this point!) but over the years I have managed to let go of the need to make sure everything is 100% perfect and give way to someone else having a go at it.

The fact is, we have been outsourcing personal tasks forever, it just didn’t have a label.

When I was growing up it was called working for your pocket money. And if you have ever had the opportunity to have a personal assistant I would put money on the fact that they have carried out some “non-business related” outsourcing task for you at some point, whether it be booking personal travel or paying a phone bill.

Generally the most popular tasks to outsource are – housecleaning, laundry and ironing, grocery shopping, dog walking (not sure what the point is having a dog if you don’t have time to take it outside), car washing and good old lawn mowing. But more and more people are slowly trusting others to pay their bills, or to buy a gift for their loved one.

So how do you get on-board the express train to “easy life”?

The 4 Hour Workweek is really the original how-to guide for ideas on better managing your personal tasks

But if you want to jump straight in you can try some of the following sites (sadly these are not available in all countries).

My favourite one – www.fiverr.com
Basically a list of offerings from people who will do “X” for $5. There are real some gems on offer!

www.taskrabbit.com
One of the better known (and tested) sites

www.elance.com
A great resource for small business with everything from logo design to building your website

www.fancyhands.com
For $25 a month your personal admin issues are solved

Now all this free time now means more time to relax. I am off to order a bottle of wine online that will be delivered chilled to my door in under an hour… now that is service!

THE TOP 10 – WHAT NOT TO WEAR ON YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY

barefoot-in-publicI think I have a pretty good formula for packing when going on holidays, no matter what the climate. Being respectful of local cultures and having items that are practical while still looking decent are key on my list, but I often wonder what goes through other people’s minds when they pack their bags for a holiday.

Clearly a lot of people think that the usual rule of wearing appropriate clothing goes out the window, and anything goes. But then maybe it’s me who missed the memo saying if you are in another country go for it and wear something that usually a 16 year old does, even though you are 50 years old and not in good shape. Sitting on a beach in Thailand, Hawaii or Fiji, or even being at an airport for that matter, can be like seeing a real-life parade from one of those “People of Walmart” emails that gets sent around (www.peopleofwalmart.com).

So what are the top 10 must-not-do’s to keep you looking decent when you head overseas on a holiday.

1. Always wear shoes at an airport, even if you are there just to pick up someone. There is no excuse not to wear them, even just for health and safety reasons.

2. Bum bags, fanny packs whatever you choose to call them went out in the 1980’s so let’s leave them there (along with ra-ra skirts and large shoulder-padded jackets)

3. Socks and sandals. Do I really need to explain this one any further?

4. A g-string swimsuit. Unless your name is Giselle, avoid the embarrassment and leave it at home.

5. Hawaiian shirts. Guys – no one wears these any more with the exception of going to a fancy dress party.

6. Cut-out lycra dresses. If you are under 21 years age then ok, but over that it should be illegal to sell you one, let alone wear one. Think age appropriate dressing.

7. A matching Juicy Couture tracksuit. I totally get the comfort bit, and by all means pack a pair of track pants to change into once you are on the plane (I do), but wearing a bright pink matching towelling or velour tracksuit with the word “Juicy” on your butt is so 1990’s and best left for Paris Hilton.

8. Denim shorts that are too short. Ladies there is no need to see your butt sticking out from under your shorts no matter what your age. At no point is this is a good look. Gents… knee length denim cut-off shorts with frayed hems should come with a fine or jail time.

9. Beer branded fake singlets/tank tops. I have seen enough “Singha”, “Tiger” and “Bintang” tank tops to last me ten lifetimes. Every football team (of any code) on their end-of-season trip can be seen wearing them, purchased from the local street vendor. Which leads me into the final one…

10. Football shirts. The only exception to wearing one of these is travelling to play football or travelling to support your team.

With British women spending over $200 on clothing in preparation for their holiday and women in the US on average $380, I am hoping this isn’t going on any of the above items.

What is the worst outfit you have witnessed on holiday?

I BUY IT FOR THE ARTICLES

magA few recent flights, and the luxury of having some more downtime, has meant I have actually been able to read a magazine cover to cover within the published month for the first time all year. I am a bit of a magazine “snob” and will only ever spend my hard-earned cash on an issue of Vanity Fair or US Vogue (but I openly admit to happily reading complimentary copies when on a plane – usually Time, a myriad of travel magazines and the odd health one). But Vanity Fair hands down for me is the best magazine published – and yes I buy it for the articles!

So do other people share my preferences? I decided to do some research and see what most people read around the world, and chances are you have never heard of the top 5!

Coming in at number one is “The Watchtower” with a circulation of almost 45million copies. It sounds like a magazine that might focus on online gaming, but that couldn’t be further from the subject matter. The Watchtower is an illustrated religious magazine, published monthly in 209 languages by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Watchtower is closely followed by “Awake” which has a circulation of over 43million and is also published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Awake is distributed by the door-to-door ministry and published in 99 languages.

The next two most read magazines are by the same publisher – “AARP The Magazine” and “AARP Bulletin”, both with a whopping circulation of over 22million each. Unless you live in the US and are over 50, you may not have seen these. AARP is the American Association of Retired Persons and the publications focus on products and services for a mature audience.

Number five spot is held by a German Magazine – “ADAC Motorwelt” which is published by Germany and Europe’s largest automobile club (ADAC), reaching 13million people.

So where do the magazines rank that you buy from your local newsstand?

In the UK Glamour reaches 500k people and OK! 470k.

The US sees Game Informer hit 7.8 million and Better Homes and Gardens 7.6 million

Russians like to read Cosmopolitan with a circulation of 980k.

And 470k Australian’s stick to the traditional Australian Women’s Weekly.

And how about my favourite Vanity Fair? 1.2 million people a month share my love of the articles!

PARTY OF 1

como1Last week I treated myself and headed off to Bali for 5 days of cleansing, yoga, walks and massages. I left family and friends at home, and went on this adventure solo on the promise that I would come back a nicer person. And the result…. I feel amazing.

I am used to travelling so much for business on my own I had no issue eating (or in my case drinking juices and soup) by myself, exploring the amazing local rainforest as a party of one, or just reading by the pool. I actually like my own company, well for 5 days at least.

I realise it is a luxury to be able to do this from both a time and money point of view, but if you can afford both, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

So where are the best places to go to have a fabulous healthy experience? Here are my top 5.

Como Shambhala Estate, Bali
This is where I spent last week. My visits to Bali are well and truly in the double digits and I have to vote Como Shambhala as the most special place I have stayed on the island, and certainly one of the best places in Asia I have visited (big wraps I know!). If you want to detox in luxury, this is the place to do it no question. But if detoxing is too hard core, don’t worry, as most guests were just there to enjoy all the wonderful amenities, fresh food and out of this world service. It is a place where “everyone knows your name”, as all the staff know who you are and the only thing I was asked to sign was the final bill.
http://www.comohotels.com/comoshambhalaestate

Chiva Som, Hua Hin
A two hour drive from Bangkok, Chiva Som is consistently voted as one of the best health resorts around. It lets you combine being pampered with embarking on changing a part of your life be it diet, fitness, stress or too much partying. It is located on the beach, as opposed to being in a remote location, so if you do want to escape you always have the option to go into the local town.
http://www.chivasom.com

Rancho La Puerta, Mexico
Started in 1940, this property is one of the original destination spas. Rancho La Puerta offers everything from mountain hikes, pilates, dream interpretation to make you sleep better, through to a cooking school using produce from its own organic farm.
http://www.rancholapuerta.com

Longevity Wellness Resort, Portugal
An eco-friendly resort located it Algarve, it provides spectacular views of the sea and mountains. On offer is state of the art detox treatments, fitness facilities that would rival the best gyms and Turkish baths to recover in. There are even medical “treatments” for people who want more than a facial peel.
http://www.longevitywellnessresort.com

The Farm at San Benito, Philippines
A holistic sanctuary that aims to rejuvenate through detoxification, working towards healing the body of any illnesses or problems. Set in the heart of the Philippine jungle it certainly still holds a luxury title as you can choose to have your massage in your poolside villa or on a secret garden terrace. The Farm is also one of the few health retreats that has a children’s program which includes arts and crafts, cooking lessons and forest walks.
http://www.thefarm.com.ph

So to answer the original question… am I a nicer person? Impossible to be some would say, but I think yes!