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вторник, 25 апреля 2017 г.

'My husband will kill me for flaunting my figure!"

She’s the no-nonsense businesswoman facing her fears on ITV1’s 71 Degrees North. But Michelle Mone’s real battle started with her fight to lose 6st. Here she shows off her new body and reveals why stripping off is a risky business

There aren't many company bosses who'd be happy to pose for pictures in their underwear. But Michelle Mone, our new advice guru and star of the hit ITV1 reality show 71 Degrees North, has decided to do just that - and share the jaw-to-floor, unairbrushed results with Fabulous.
But her bold move isn't due to arctic temperatures doing something funny to her head; if you'd worked your butt off (literally) to lose 6st, you'd want to show off your new curves, too. But not everyone's happy with her decision.
"My management team and board of directors don't want me to do this. They think as a female CEO I won't be taken seriously," says Michelle.
But Michelle, 38, has never been one to play by the rules. She is, after all, the woman who risked everything - including her marriage - to build up her underwear business, Ultimo. And, here she is, incurring the wrath of her husband of 18 years again.
"Even though it's a one-off shoot, Michael is really against it. He doesn't want people to see his wife in her underwear and fears it could be bad for business. It's caused arguments between us. He just can't understand why I'm doing it."
We can though. Three years ago Michelle weighed 17st 2lb and was a size 22. While other women famous for their figures - including Kelly Brook and Girls Aloud's Sarah Harding - stripped off to flaunt their curves for Ultimo campaigns, Michelle could only watch from the sidelines, hiding herself in baggy tops.
Until, that is, she made the decision to lose weight. Now, three years later she's a size 10, and at 5ft 10in, weighs 11st 2lb. She looks amazing.
 How I look today is the result of THREE YEARS HARD WORK 
"Kelly Brook is seven years younger than me, but I've done my best to show that a woman like me with three kids can look just as good in lingerie," she says.
While Michelle loves her slender new body, her husband, a 43-year-old director in her business, is finding it hard to come to terms with his new-look wife.
"I believe he's proud of me because he knew I was unhappy," she admits. "But he's a typical Glaswegian man, not very forthcoming with his feelings, so he hasn't actually told me.
"I think he'd say he doesn't quite know how to handle this new confident, outgoing side of me. He keeps joking: 'You'd better not run off with a younger model!' but I know he trusts me."
It's not hard to sympathise with him. Earlier this year, Michelle was linked to married actor Shane Richie and rugby player Gavin Henson, after growing close to them during filming of 71 Degrees North.
The Ultimo founder is now body confident
She even had to issue a statement denying an affair with Shane, 46, after they were pictured arm in arm during a night out in London. She laughs at mention of a relationship with Gavin, 28.
"Gavin's a great guy and we get on well, but that's it. I've always had more guy friends than girlfriends, and my husband gets on brilliantly with Gavin too."
Nevertheless, with such headlines it's not hard to see why Mr Mone is less than keen for his wife to strip off. So why is she doing it?
"I want to show other women that if you're unhappy with your body, you can do something about it. I was 6st overweight and really unfit, but I turned my life around. If I can do it, you can too.
 I'm the happiest I've been in ages because this year has BEEN ABOUT ME 
"For years I tortured myself about my weight. I hated myself. How I look today is the result of three years hard work. I've put my insecurities behind me. It's the end of a chapter. And if it's the biggest mistake I've ever made in my business career, then so be it, but I'm too proud of what I've achieved to not show it off," she says.
During the seven years that Michelle was overweight, she was bitterly unhappy.
"I remember sitting on a beach in Miami after an Ultimo shoot with Rachel Hunter. She was in a bikini and I was in a pair of elasticated trousers and a huge kaftan. We're the same age but next to her I felt like an old woman," admits Michelle.
"My children, Rebecca, 18, Declan, 13, and Bethany, 11 never commented on my weight, they accepted their mum was fat. When I got upset, Michael would tell me I was the only person who could change it."
Michelle was a size 14 when she launched Ultimo in 1999, a month after the birth of her third child, without any qualifications or formal business training.
The launch of her comfortable boob-boosting bras was a massive success, with the range selling out in Selfridges and Debenhams. When Julia Roberts wore an Ultimo bra in the Oscar-winning movie Erin Brockovich, sales in America went through the roof.
But a year later, disaster struck when Michelle says a Canadian distributor absconded with over £2million of Ultimo money and six months' worth of stock.
"Up until then I'd been on a high. I was the third richest person under 30 on the Sunday Times Rich List, my company was a massive success. Then suddenly I was 15 minutes from bankruptcy," remembers Michelle.
Only by remortgaging the family home and using money left to her husband after his mother's death, did Michelle stave off bankruptcy. But the stress made her turn to food for solace.
She'd gorge on McDonald's for breakfast. Lunch was a burger, she'd snack on chocolate bars during the afternoon and after dinner she'd leave the house to eat more junk food.
"I thought I was comfort eating, but a psychologist recently explained I was punishing myself. I grew up in a one-bedroom tenement flat in working-class Glasgow. My mum and dad worked hard, as a carer and a labourer, but we weren't well off. I left school at 15 and everyone assumed I'd fall pregnant or get a dead-end job," she says. "When I became successful, I felt I didn't deserve it, and punished myself with food."
As the pounds piled on, Michelle avoided mirrors and hid her body under shapeless black suits. Photo-calls with celebrity Ultimo models, only made her more disgusted with her own body.
"I was paranoid, accusing Michael of fancying the models," she admits. "I had no confidence, and even though from the outside my life looked perfect, inside I was in pieces."
Then three years ago, Michelle decided that she'd had enough.
"I'd been pouring all my energy into the business and my family, and completely neglecting myself. So I decided to start treating my body like a business, setting goals and targets."
She began taking Trim Secrets herbal slimming pills (which she later invested in) that aid weight-loss when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
And now Michelle loves wearing super-slinky dresses and skinny jeans.
"This is the first time I've felt confident about my body. People have said I look 10 years younger!"
To get toned before her shoot, she signed up for ITV1's 71 Degrees North and then started training seven days a week and doing 20-mile runs. The show, in which a team of celebrities compete in extreme arctic challenges, has seen Michelle battling hypothermia and taking on activities like ice waterfall abseiling. "It was terrifying," she laughs. "But it changed me as a person. As a businesswoman you're expected to always put a brave face on things and not let anything get to you. But stripped of my BlackBerry and taken out of the boardroom, I discovered an emotional side I never knew I had.
With husband Michael
"I'm the happiest I've been in years."
On her return, Michelle launched Ultimo's 'real women' search for 24 women to star in a campaign. "If I expect 24 women off the street to get their kit off, it's only fair that I do it too," she says.
So she did. And her husband Michael even liked the pictures.
"He said: 'These are nice.' That's the biggest compliment he's ever paid me," Michelle says. "But he still didn't want me to make them public."
Will she be hanging them up at home? "Michael would throw darts at them!" she laughs. "These are just for me."
The new Ultimo Icon Boob Lift Bra is available from Debenhams &
Michelle's rise to super bra-dom

1986 Michelle leaves school aged 15 with no qualifications, to work to support her family, after her father is confined to a wheelchair.
1992 After lying about gaining O levels, Michelle is employed as an admin girl by Labbatt Brewers in Glasgow. By 21 she is a senior manager and in charge of sales and marketing.
1996 After wearing an uncomfortable bra to a dinner dance, Michelle vows to invent a more comfortable one. MJM International Ltd is founded with her husband Michael Mone.
1999 The Ultimo brand is launched. Selfridges sells out within 24 hours.
April 2000 Julia Roberts famously wears Ultimo's Miracle Solutions plunging bra in Erin Brockovich, which kick-starts the brand's popularity in the US.
October 2000 Michelle wins the World Young Business Achiever award in Florida, and Business Woman Of The Year in London.
January 2008 She teams up with Coleen Rooney and her ITV2 reality show Real Women, to search for a new Ultimo model.
September 2008 Ultimo makes history as the first UK lingerie brand to hold its own catwalk show at New York Fashion Week.
2009 Michelle is awarded an OBE for services to business.

понедельник, 24 апреля 2017 г.

You met where? Forget looking for love online and blind dates, Cupid works in mysterious ways

Forget looking for love online and blind dates, Cupid works in mysterious ways – Labour’s David Miliband met his wife Louise on a flight from Rome. So set your love compass to romance and who knows where you’ll find Mr Right...

Mistaken identity

'He thought I was someone else'
Hannah White, 29, is a fashion buyer from south-west London. She says:

A message on Facebook led James to Hannah
"Logging into my Facebook account in July 2009, I was confused to see a message from a guy called James, who I was sure I didn't know.
'Hi Hannah, nice to meet you over the weekend. Wondered if you fancied going for a drink some time?' it read.
I laughed, realising this guy had clearly got the wrong person. I definitely hadn't met a James at the weekend.
'Wrong Hannah,' I replied. 'Unless I have severe memory loss!' Hitting send, I didn't expect to hear from him ever again.
No one was more surprised than me when James replied and we started a jokey online conversation, culminating in him asking me out for a drink.
I'd never been out with, or even kissed, someone totally random before. I'd always stuck to friends of friends when it came to dating.
But I'd been single for three years and James' cheeky Facebook messages made me laugh, so I thought 'why not?'. I had nothing to lose.
Was he handsome? I couldn't really tell, his Facebook profile picture was of him in a weird fancy-dress outfit - with pink tights and a headband!
A week later we met on a rainy night at a bar in Putney, south-west London.
That day, I'd nearly backed out of the date. What was I doing going to meet a guy I didn't know? It was so unlike me.
But my housemates thought it was hysterical that I was going out with a guy who'd actually been trying to find someone else, and insisted I went along to meet him.
I felt a bit nervous as I walked into the bar. I recognised him straightaway and, thankfully, he looked normal in jeans and a polo shirt.
I thought he was cute, but I had to get my head around the fact that I was on a date with a stranger I'd met on Facebook.
He told me he'd recently met a blonde girl called Hannah at a barbecue and, after regretting not getting her number, had tried to track her down on Facebook and found me instead. I wasn't offended that he'd been looking for another girl. I thought it was funny.
We got on brilliantly, even better than online! As we talked, we discovered we'd both gone to university in Newcastle, and had both been on holiday in Portugal, even going to the same nightclubs. There seemed to be so many coincidences, I couldn't believe how similar our lives were.
The date was really good fun and James asked me out again. On our second date we shared a kiss.
We've been together over a year now, and people love to hear the story of how we met - most of them think it's hilarious.
For Valentine's day this year, I had a printout of our original Facebook messages framed as a special memory of how we met.
Whether it was fate or just a happy accident that brought us together, all I know is that I've never been happier and I'm so glad James didn't get the other Hannah's phone number at the barbecue that weekend."
James Gilmore, 30, is an insurance broker from west London. He says:
"I kicked myself for not asking Hannah from the barbecue for her number, but it was the best decision I've ever made.
I was so embarrassed when I realised I'd messaged the wrong girl. I'd never tried to track anyone down on Facebook before, and clearly I wasn't very good at it! But Hannah number two was so pretty and didn't seem to mind the fact that some idiot had messaged her by accident. So I thought it was worth asking her out.
As we sat talking on our first date, I realised she was a pretty special woman, and I hoped she'd want to see me again.
What are the chances of meeting someone so gorgeous, who you get on with so well, completely by accident on Facebook? I definitely think fate played a part in us meeting like that - how else can you explain it?"
Lost property

'I lost my phone but found love'
Lorna Kings, 25, is a make-up artist from Harrow, north-west London. She says:

Love was calling for Lee and Lorna
"Last September, I was sitting in a bar in Harrow opposite a tall and handsome man, chatting and laughing like we'd known each other for years.
But I'd only met Lee a few minutes before when I'd collected my mobile phone from him after leaving it on a bus days earlier. Lee had found it and, when I'd called my number in a panic, he'd answered and offered to meet me and return it.
All I'd been bothered about was getting my phone back - but as soon as I saw Lee, I felt a spark. When he asked me out there and then, I decided it would be a laugh. I'd been single for two years, so what was the harm? Plus, Lee was exactly my type.
It felt very surreal to be on a date with someone I'd just met, our only connection my lost phone. Lee told me he was a chef and lived in Brighton. He'd been in London visiting friends and was on the bus home when he noticed my phone on the seat. I'd had lots of shopping bags with me and I must have dropped it on the seat without noticing.
At the end of our impromptu date, we swapped numbers. Lee called me a few days later and I travelled down to Brighton to see him. We spent the day together, walking on the beach and getting to know one another. And now, a year later, we're still together and very in love.
He cooks me delicious meals, he makes me laugh with his cheeky sense of humour what's not to love?
My friends and family just can't believe we met because I was clumsy enough to lose my phone on the bus. They're always saying: 'That's a story to tell the grandchildren!'
I was happy when I was single, but I'm even happier now that I'm with Lee. I truly believe that when you're not looking for love it just shows up. So now, if Lee and I ever fall out, we both remember how we got together and that there must have been a reason Lee found my phone that day. We always make up pretty quickly!
I'm not a superstitious person, but I now believe certain people are meant to come into your life for a reason, and I definitely see my future with Lee."
Lee Bawyers, 24, is a chef from Brighton. He says:
"Losing your mobile phone is such a nightmare, so when I saw one left on a bus seat I was keen to do a good deed and return it to its owner.
Fortunately, Lorna called her phone and we were able to arrange to meet up. She's a gorgeous girl and, being a bit of a cheeky chap, I decided to try my luck and ask her out for a drink.
Lorna is my first serious girlfriend and I still can't believe how lucky I am to have found her. They say what goes around, comes around and I've definitely got my reward for my good deed."
The emergency pick-up

'I found love in a tow truck'
Natalie Down, 26, is a student veterinary nurse from Wool, Dorset. She says:

Gareth was Natalie's knight in a shining tow truck
"Every girl dreams of being rescued by a knight in shining armour, but I never expected mine to pull up in a tow truck.
What had been a miserable afternoon - my car breaking down in the rain, calling a recovery service and then waiting for them - would become an afternoon that changed my life forever.
In April 2007, my mum Karen and I were on the way to see my granddad, an hour's drive from my home in ¿Dorset, when my Vauxhall Corsa came to a juddering halt. Luckily, I had breakdown cover and called for a tow truck straightaway.
When it arrived and a tall guy with a cheeky smile got out and introduced himself as Gareth, I turned to Mum and said: 'He's a bit of alright, isn't he?'.
I had a boyfriend, but our four-and-a half-year relationship was coming to an end and, although I knew I shouldn't be attracted to Gareth, I couldn't help it.
He towed my car home and Mum and I clambered into his truck. I sat beside him and we chatted like old friends. Back at mine, we invited him in for a coffee and he stayed for three hours.
He told us he lived in Poole, 15 minutes away, and had a girlfriend but that the relationship wasn't going well. Then he offered to fix my car for a fraction of what a garage would charge.
We swapped numbers so we could arrange for him to work on my car. After exchanging a few texts, he asked me out for a drink as friends and, a couple of weeks later, we met up.
We spent the night laughing and as we said goodbye I knew there was more than friendship between us.

Natalie arrived in a tow truck for her wedding to Gareth
Splitting up with our partners was never discussed, but independently we both did just that. Then a month after we first met, Gareth and I started dating.
We moved in together in August 2007 and in October 2008 we went on a break to Disneyland Paris, where Gareth proposed. We set the date for May this year, at the Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth.
I came up with the idea of arriving in a tow truck as a tribute to the way Gareth and I had first met. We arranged for a red 40-foot truck to take me and my stepdad Andrew to the wedding.
If someone had told me that my future husband would be a tow-truck driver who came to my rescue one rainy afternoon in April, I'd never believed it. I thank my car for bringing us together!"
Gareth Down, 23, is a service manager for a motor company. He says:
"I was actually on a day off when I got a call from work asking if I could help with a breakdown. I reluctantly agreed, but now I'm so glad I did.
When I spotted Natalie at the side of the road, I immediately thought she was gorgeous. Then as I worked away on her car and started chatting, the more I wanted to get to know her.
The relationship I was in at the time wasn't working, but I made sure I was single before anything happened between Natalie and me.
When my colleagues found out I was dating someone I'd towed, they gave me a bit of a ribbing, but they could see how perfect Natalie and I are for one another.

A plane crash brought this couple together
Our wedding was amazing, and it was very fitting that Natalie arrived in a tow truck. After all, that's what brought her into my life in the first place!"
Ben Bostic, 39, and Laura Zych, 31, boarded a plane in January 2009, but could never have dreamt it would end up crashing into New York's Hudson River, or that their brush with death would bring them into each other's arms. The couple have been together ever since.

воскресенье, 23 апреля 2017 г.

A new season means just one thing – a new wardrobe! The FASHION makers

 But who’s influencing our fashion must-haves? We meet the stylistas tipping the trends before they happen.


Model Naomi Shimada, 23, from London, flaunts her killer curves for New Look and Simply Be after putting her "skinny" days behind her.
"I don't like people calling me a plus-size model. I'm only a size 14, 5ft 10in and 9st 13lb - that's normal!
I was signed up by a modelling agency at the age of 13, after being 'spotted' in a cafe in Spain. I then modelled for brands including Fake Bake and The Body Shop.
But although I was successful, I was constantly battling with my body. I'm naturally curvy, but I felt like my livelihood depended on how skinny I was. Over the years, I tried every fad diet and exercise regime around - from the maple syrup diet to hula-hooping - all in a bid to stay 8st 7lb and a size six.
Until last year, I managed to keep model-thin, but it was a struggle. While I never had an eating disorder because I loved food too much, I felt my personality disappearing along with the pounds. I decided the dieting had to stop and I started eating properly again.
It's been such a relief. My mood changed almost overnight and I'm now a 'normal-size' model (wouldn't it be great if 'plus-size' girls were just called 'models'?).
As a size 14, I've never felt more comfortable in my own skin - this is the way I'm meant to be. I make sure that I still exercise and eat healthily, but I'm not ashamed of who I am.
I'm getting better jobs - I've done campaigns for Evans and New Look and I'm in talks with a cool British designer. People think you have to be skinny to be beautiful, but it's not true - look at model Crystal Renn or actress Christina Hendricks from Mad Men. Curves are sexy; they're the future."
Key trends? Tie-dye and '50s figure-hugging underwear.
My best-ever fashion buy was... My roller boots.
My fashion icons are.. Kelis and Grace Jones.

Trend spotter and fashion pundit Antonia O'Brien, 23, from London, is the super-stylish star of's My-TV.

"Growing up, I always knew I wanted to work in fashion but also loved the idea of being a presenter - I just wasn't sure how to combine the two.
I started out working in clothes shops then, after graduating from Northumbria University with a degree in fashion history, I did some work experience at online boutique One day, I got chatting to the company's CEO Sarah Curran. I mentioned that I'd love to do some presenting and, to my amazement, she offered me a job doing just that!
Now I'm a presenter for My-TV, making online fashion clips. I pick trends to focus on based on catwalk shows, fashion websites and magazines. Earlier this year, a producer at GMTV saw a clip of me and invited me to appear on the show. Sitting on the sofa talking trends with Emma Bunton was unbelievable.
To do this job, you need to immerse yourself in fashion. Make a showreel and send it to casting agents. The industry is competitive, but really rewarding."
Key trends? Lace - you can add just a small touch and be on trend - and leather.
My fashion icon is... Actress Diane Kruger as she's so cutting-edge.
My best-ever fashion buy was... A Céline blazer that cost £30 from a charity shop.

Web wonder Lianne Ludlow, 34, from Hampshire, is on a mission to prove that green is the new black with her online boutique

"I was on holiday in India three years ago when I had my light-bulb moment. Though I'd always been fairly 'green', I wanted to do more. So I decided to use my expertise as a fashion journalist to launch an ethical fashion website selling stylish clothes and accessories.
Green fashion boutiques felt like the uncool younger sister, all hemp sacks and hessian. I knew it could be glossy and glam. I started work on Fashion Conscience, my website that sells organic, vegan and fair-trade clothing and accessories. I had one rule: style first, ethics second. At first, it was a struggle. But I'm discovering lots of exciting designers and now help labels develop stylish eco products. I'd love to see eco-fashion shops on every high street one day."
I'd kill for... An aviator-style jacket.
Top tip for A/W? Buy timeless pieces - they'll last for years.

Britain's Next Top Model judge and stylist Grace Woodward, 33, from London, decides what top celebs wear for their close-ups.

"Some days I'm pinning clothes to a celebrity for a photo shoot at the break of dawn. Others, I'm making a dress out of dead fish - yes, really!
Working in fashion's certainly not all glamour. But I love every moment of my job. I've always been obsessed by style. I've tried every trend going - from indie to pop to goth.
At 18, I went to the London College Of Fashion to do a degree in fashion promotion. When I graduated, I worked as a PR for posh lingerie label Agent Provocateur. To say I learnt on the job is an understatement. I had to do everything on fast-forward - from devising advertising and marketing campaigns to shooting look books. It was hectic, but amazing.
After four years, I became a freelance stylist. Through Agent Provocateur, I met the legendary photographer Rankin, who's worked with everyone from Britney to Lily Allen. We started to get together on shoots, doing some bonkers jobs - like the dead-fish dress - as well as some big campaigns, such as the Dove Real Women adverts.
I learned so much from working with such talented people. Now, as well as styling shoots and catwalk shows, I dress stars like Florence Welch and La Roux. We'll chat about their image, then I'll start researching and pulling together outfits that I think will give them the look they want.
I'm also a judge on Britain's Next Top Model. It's amazing but it's tough, too. We're making and breaking dreams, so we have to make the right decisions.
Styling's not for the faint-hearted. For the first few years you won't make much money. You definitely have to love clothes more than cash! Start by making your own outfits and working your own look. Apply to fashion labels, make contacts, work stupidly hard and you'll get there."
My best-ever fashion buy was... My Chanel pumps. They feel just as special as heels.
Ones to watch? Designer Yang Du and T-shirt label I Love Boxie.

Despite having no fashion training, Ducie Keam-George, 35, from west London, is a designer selling her own label at

"If you really want it, you can get into fashion at any time. I'm proof of that.
In 2004, I started my label, Ducie, with no formal training and little money. I never thought I could be a designer, but everything changed in 2003, while I was on holiday in India with my husband Dan, 39, an events producer. I fell in love with the beautiful silks there and imagined making clothes using that kind of fabric. With the help of a local businessman, a friend of a friend, we found a factory that could produce our designs and bought fabrics with our £4,000 life savings.
I learned everything from scratch, spending weeks in India sketching ideas, working with a pattern-cutter and tailor. In four months, my collection was ready.
Back in the UK, I got a stall at London's Portobello Market. The label started to get noticed by people, including celebs like Dannii Minogue. Our turnover is increasing annually and we're planning our first collection for London Fashion Week in 2012. It's really exciting."
Top tip for A/W? Flowing maxis with a faux-fur jacket
My best-ever fashion buy was... A pair of vintage fur boots from Portobello Market.

Madeleine Evans, 35, from Pembrokeshire, brings hot fashion to the high street as head of buying at Topshop.

"My job is to predict which trends are going to be big for our customers, and to make sure we're the first on the high street to get those looks into our stores. My decisions can mean the difference between something selling out or ending up on the sale rail, so I need to understand how style works and what women are looking for.
Inspiration for new looks comes from everywhere - travel, art, film, markets, books. Once we've got an idea, we work on the design, then get a sample put together. We then decide what quantities we need to order. With two key collections every year, it's fast-moving and hard work. But when I see someone in the street wearing a piece my team has created, I get a real buzz.
I've been at Topshop for 12 years and have worked my way up. To be a buyer, you have to live and breathe fashion. You'll be spotting trends before they happen. An internship with a big fashion retailer will help you meet the right people. It's a brilliant industry - and think of all the clothes you can treat yourself to in the name of research!"
Top tip for A/W? Swap skinnies for high-waisted, wide-leg and kick-flare trousers.
Ones to watch: Model Imogen Newton from our A/W '10 campaign - she's destined for great things.

суббота, 22 апреля 2017 г.

What the heck is that? I've got a... lump on the outside of my foot

Got a strange lump, bump or wobbly bit? Worry not, here we explain all...

Let's face it, our bodies can sometimes be freaky bits of kit. Every so often, something will crop up that doesn't look, well, right. And as for seeing a GP about it - forget it! According to new research*, 42 per cent of UK women search health symptoms online at least once a day and spend almost 30 hours a year (that's four working days) discussing their findings with colleagues.
Lumps and bumps can often be embarrassing, so patients are even more likely to seek advice online rather than talk to their GP. This instant access to information is turning us into what the medical profession have dubbed the "worried well". "We've become a nation of 'cyberchondriacs', logging on to self-diagnose rather than seeing an expert," says Dr Louise Newson, of health information service Patient UK ( "The internet is great, but it shouldn't replace a qualified GP."
Condition curiosity got the better of you? Step away from the computer and swap logging on for reading on...
I've got a... small nodule in my armpit

What the heck could it be? A SEBACEOUS CYST
According to Fabulous' Dr Hilary Jones, these are commonly mistaken for cancerous lumps - and for this reason it's a good idea to get them checked out by your GP. But sebaceous cysts are blocked sweat glands that are usually nothing to worry about. "Sebaceous cysts appear just beneath the skin, unlike lumps caused by lymph nodes that have swollen due to a bacterial or viral infection - these appear deeper under the skin and feel rubbery," says Dr Hilary.
What to do Sebaceous cysts will disappear without treatment. If they're causing you pain, this could be a sign of infection, which can be treated with a week's course of antiobiotics. Prone to bumpy bits? Try using an alcohol-based spray deodorant which, unlike oil-based roll-ons, won't block your sweat glands.
88% of adults logged on for a diagnosis this year alone**
I've got a... spidery spot on my chest

What the heck could it be? SPIDER ANGIOMA
This bright red spot with spidery arms may sound like the kind of dodgy tattoo you'd have acquired while travelling in the early '90s but now? No thanks. "Spider angioma often occurs on the face, neck, upper torso and arms," says Dr Hilary. "It's a result of taking the Pill, drinking alcohol and sun exposure, all of which dilate tiny blood vessels called arterioles and make them more visible." Creepy.
What to do "These are found in about 10 to 15 per cent of healthy adults and are nothing to worry about," says Dr Nisith Sheth, consultant dermatologist at London's Cadogan Clinic. Many just resolve themselves, but if they don't, they can be cauterised (when the ends of the blood vessels are burned to seal them), or zapped with a laser (from £350,
I've got a... strange bump on my wrist

What the heck could it be? A GANGLION
So, the wart look may rock for Halloween but for the rest of the year? Yuck. "A ganglion cyst is a pea-sized swelling filled with fluid, usually found near the wrist," says Dr Hilary. "It can occur because of an irritation on the joints and they move around when you twiddle your fingers so can be very visible."
What to do Ganglions are harmless. "To get rid of one, you can have it aspirated (when a needle is inserted to draw out the fluid inside), or surgically removed," explains Dr Hilary.
70% of ganglions occur in people aged between 20 and 40***
I've got a... rash under my boobs

What the heck could it be? INTERTRIGO
Got the kind of flush that no sexy bra is going to hide? We know this is gross, but the folds under breasts (and in the groin) provide perfect damp conditions for inflammation. Intertrigo may sound like a dodgy nightclub, but this inflammation which occurs in skin folds is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection.
What to do Say bye-bye to your favourite Lycra and synthetic outfits and opt for lighter fabrics to stop sweating. Topical treatments such as anti-fungal creams and steroids (try Canesten Hydrocortisone Cream, £5.99, Boots) can clear it up, as can anti-fungal tablets or antibiotics from your GP. A moisturising cream will also help soothe irritation. But while short-term solutions work well, the best solution if you are overweight is to diet, warns Dr Sheth. "Smaller skin creases mean fewer chances for fungi to make themselves at home."
I've got a... lump on the outside of my foot

What the heck could it be? A CALLUS
If it's on the same side as your big toe, chances are the lump on your foot is a bunion, which is an enlargement of bone or tissue. If it's next to your little toe, Mike O'Neill, podiatric surgeon and spokesman for the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (, says it's a callus, which is a painful area of hard skin. "Shoes that are too high and too tight can cause pressure in areas that aren't used to stress, like the side of the little toe, causing calluses," he says. If these are ignored, a painful thickening of the skin called a corn can develop on top of the callus.
What to do Use a foot file to help get rid of hard skin, and while we're not suggesting shuffling around in your slippers, try wearing shoes that aren't too high sometimes. "Soft leather is best," says Mike.

Debbie Pemberton, 39, was driven to the brink of suicide in one of the worst cases of stalking police had seen. As her story is turned into an ITV1 drama, U Be Dead, she reveals how she survived

Even eight years on, the beep of a text message is enough to take me back to the worst time of my life. A time when I received up to 10 texts a day from a stalker, threatening to kill me. A time when I lived every second in fear, ducking into doorways on my way to work in case I was being followed; when I was terrified to tell friends and even my family what I was going through, in case one of them was my tormentor. A time when panic was an emotion I felt every waking hour.
My ordeal began in 2002, a year after I met Dr Jan Falkowski, a psychiatrist, then 41, at a powerboat race. We started dating and within a year, we were engaged and planning our wedding. I couldn't have been happier. It was then that the mystery calls and text messages started.

The first call occurred when Jan and I were travelling by train from his houseboat in London to my flat in Dorset for the weekend. A woman asked me to confirm my full name, before hanging up. It sounded like a marketing company, so I thought nothing of it.
A few minutes later, Jan got a text saying: "I know where you park your car at the hospital." Convinced it was a crank caller, we ignored it. But when we started getting three or four messages at a time, all along a similar theme, we realised it was more than a joke. And when we tried to call the sender's number it didn't connect.
Jan and I contacted the police for help. They told us to keep the messages, but not to worry. Jan couldn't think of anyone it could be, and I couldn't understand why someone would treat us like that.
But then, 10 days after the first texts arrived, the messages changed. As I scanned the words of my latest text, my hands trembled. "You will burn in your wedding dress," it read. I was terrified. If I'd known then that would be the first of thousands, I don't think I could have gone on.
We went back to the police, who recommended we change our phone numbers, but we decided not to.
Why should we be beaten? And if we kept getting messages, surely it would help catch whoever was sending them?
Soon I was receiving up to 10 threats a day. One said: "A bullet waiting for U. Gunman paid", and another simply said: "U B Dead." I became increasingly suspicious and paranoid, questioning the motives of everyone I met, from the stranger sitting next to me on the train to the person who pushed past me in the street.
Jan was receiving messages too, but his were complimentary, telling him how much he was admired. It became obvious to me that this person was a jealous woman. Someone who saw me as a love rival. And she wanted me out of the way.
Maria Marchese was obsessed with Jan
One night, we came back to Jan's houseboat to find all the lights on, when I knew I'd switched them off that morning. Someone had broken in. To get into the marina, you needed a security pass, so my stalker had somehow bypassed the gate. Jan was unnerved, but I felt violated. The police dusted for fingerprints, but they found nothing.
A few weeks later, we returned to the boat after a night out in the pub. Jan stepped in ahead of me, then shouted: "Get back!" The gas taps had been turned on. If we'd been out for much longer, the boat would have exploded the moment we turned on a light.
Hysterical, I broke down. Text threats were one thing, but this was physical. Someone wanted to harm us.
Soon I didn't even feel safe in my own home. Police traced calls and texts to phone boxes nearby, even to the station where I caught the train every morning - some had phones with keyboards where you could send texts to mobiles - this person knew our daily routines, where we lived and how I got to work for my job as a financial analyst.
In the office, I couldn't concentrate. A woman constantly bombarded my department with calls, abusing my colleagues if they didn't put her through. She even called the chief executive, saying I'd leaked sensitive information to the press. I hadn't, but they had to investigate. Thankfully, they were understanding, but it was still damaging.
Jan had treated Marchese's partner
Every day I jumped if my phone beeped, terrified what was coming next. I could only doze for a couple of hours a night. My skin broke out in eczema and I lost a stone in weight.
By now, we'd moved in together. Jan was able to take each day as it came. While I craved his support, he wanted me to be stronger, which I found frustrating.
In 2003, we decided to move to a 'safe house', one that Jan and I found near where we lived already. We told no one our new address - not even our friends or family. I hated it, but I felt secure for the first time. I'd switch my phone off at night, trying to escape. But every morning, a flurry of hate messages would flood my inbox.
Feeling suffocated, Jan and I struggled. Even our wedding was being destroyed by our stalker. I had to use a password when I spoke to the wedding venue, because our stalker had tried to cancel the booking four times. When that failed, she'd sent a text saying that she'd poison our guests.
 The gas was on the boat could have exploded 
The police still didn't know who my stalker was, but as our wedding day grew closer, Jan and I came up with a plan. We'd secretly postpone our wedding and hold a 'fake' one instead - hoping our stalker would do something to identify herself. Cancelling our day was heartbreaking, but it was our chance to catch this woman.
As our 'real' wedding was put on hold - the one thing I'd been looking forward to - I even considered killing myself, ending it all just so I'd be free. But I couldn't let this person destroy me. I refused to give in.
I needed Jan's support more than ever, but we had started arguing over tiny things and he became distant.
On what should have been the happiest day of my life on September 6, 2003, I sat, terrified, in my parents' house with two police officers. More police were waiting at the venue in case the stalker showed up there. My £2,000 wedding dress hung on a bedroom door, unworn.
Debbie moved to France for a fresh start
Two officers were at my flat with my lodger and at 12.30, she called. My lodger answered and kept her on the line - listening to her spouting hatred and abuse - long enough for the police to trace the call.
Maria Marchese, 45, was found in a phone box and arrested. The police called us after they'd taken her to the station to tell us who she was. We were baffled.
Marchese was a complete stranger. We'd never heard of her. She'd become obsessed with Jan after he'd treated her partner. Marchese had accompanied him to his appointment. Jan, though, had no recollection of meeting her.
But in Marchese's mind the only thing standing in the way of their relationship was me - the "vile slut", the "FDT" (f***ing Debbie tart).
With all the stress, my relationship with Jan was crumbling. Isolated and alone, I couldn't confide in him now.
Soon after Marchese's arrest, I discovered Jan was having an affair with a PR executive, Bethan, then 24, after finding a romantic text message from her on his phone. Devastated, I couldn't believe he was holding another woman in his arms when I needed him.
Left to right: Debbie moved to France for a fresh start; ITV1's U Be Dead tells Debbie and Jan's story; Text threats ruined the couple's life; Tara Fitzgerald plays out Debbie's anguish; Marchese is portrayed by actress Monica Dolan
He'd fallen in love with me when I was a care-free girl and he couldn't deal with the woman Marchese had turned me into. We split up in October 2003.
Now Marchese had what she wanted, I was no longer worried that she'd contact me again, even though she was out on bail. Once I was out of the way, the messages stopped.
I moved to a friend's flat in London and started questioning my future. Marchese had turned me into a terrified wreck, my reputation at work had been dented and I'd lost my fiancé. I had to move on.
In November 2003 our case against Marchese never made it to court due to lack of evidence. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This woman had ruined my life and was getting away with it.
Desperate for a fresh start, I decided to leave the country. Moving to France in November 2004, I found a job as an accountant at a ski resort in the Alps. When I arrived, I had my first proper night's sleep in a year.
At first, I was wary of making friends, but the resort was small and I soon relaxed. I even started going out for dinner, drinks and having fun.
 Jan and I had to cancel our wedding day 
It was on a night out that I met John, now 35, a ski instructor and hotel manager. Anxious about getting involved with a new man, we took our relationship slowly. At first I didn't tell him what had happened back in London. I wanted him to know me as me, not a victim.
But Marchese wouldn't leave me alone. In December 2004, the police called to say she had accused Jan of raping her. She'd called me as a witness for the prosecution. I was furious. Marchese was still invading my life. I wondered if she would ever leave me alone.
Breaking down, I turned to John. Little by little, I told him my story. He was shocked, but supportive. He sat and listened, wiped away my tears and made me feel safe.
Jan was under suspicion of rape for almost 18 months before the case against him was dropped. It turned out that Marchese had stolen a condom from Jan's bin and emptied the contents of it onto her clothes. Eventually, it was proven that his girlfriend Bethan's DNA was also on the sample and the case was dismissed. It was disgusting that Marchese's case had got so far, but that Jan and mine's case against her had stalled from the beginning. But thanks to her cry of rape she was prosecuted for perverting the course of justice. Then more evidence allowed my case to be re-opened and Marchese was charged with harassment and threats to kill.
Debbie and John are happily married
I was called to give evidence in court in July 2006. Determined to face up to her, I was shocked to see nothing in her eyes. No emotion. No understanding of how she'd nearly destroyed me.
Boiling up with anger for what she'd done to me and determined to make sure people understood what I went through, I allowed myself to cry in front of the jury: 'I was driven to the brink of despair. I just wanted a way out,' I sobbed. Fighting her, I felt stronger.
Maria Marchese was found guilty on all the charges and jailed for nine years in January 2007. The conviction finally gave me closure. Returning to France, I slept better than ever and started focusing on my job and my boyfriend. Three months after the trial ended, John proposed.
We married in January this year and our wedding couldn't have been more different from the one I'd planned with Jan. Only 20 or so of our family and friends were invited, but the day was perfect. I felt free and happy.
Jan and Bethan outside court in 2006
Time has given me distance from what I went through. In fact, it almost feels as if it all happened to someone else. Now, three years on, my story has been turned into an ITV1 drama, U Be Dead, starring David Morrissey as Jan and Tara Fitzgerald as me.
It wasn't until I started talking at length to the screenwriter that I realised just how far I've come since that dark time. Even though I may never be the trusting person I was, I'm almost me again. John's healed so much of the hurt just by being there and supporting me. I laugh with him, something I used to worry I'd never do again.
I've changed every detail of my identity, including my name. I don't give out my mobile number or have a Facebook or Twitter account. I've lost touch with old friends as a result, but that's a sacrifice I've had to make.
It's horrific that it's taken my stalking case and several other high-profile ones - including the death of Clare Bernal, who was shot in London's Harvey Nichols in 2005 - to show how serious stalking can be. And in Jan's case, the untrue allegations of rape made by Marchese will be on his record forever. But I'm happy that there are now special units and services available to victims of stalkers, offering valuable counselling, which is something I was never given.
As for my feelings towards Marchese - I almost pity her. What she put me through was disgusting. Police said it was one of the worst cases of stalking they'd ever seen.
Marchese took five years of happiness from me - time that I'll never get back. There's no excuse for that. She'll be up for parole in 2012 if she shows any remorse, though I doubt that will happen.
Of course, I'm not looking forward to her release. But I have to tell myself it was never really me she was interested in. I was in the way, that "FDT" that kept her from Jan. I refuse to let this woman steal any more of my happiness."
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