Archive | September, 2013

Use the right knife for the job

19 Sep

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to use the right knife for the job. I suppose it is obvious to use the tool designed for its purpose – it is pretty impossible to fillet a fish with a carving knife, for example, so I shouldn’t have been that surprised that my regular mountain-climbing shoes (ancient New Balances) were getting soaked despite me dodging the water and walking up the mountain like a bandy-legged crab.

I do have amphibious shoes (excellent Columbia Power Drains) but in the cold weather I don’t want to walk with wet feet so I headed back to Columbia to see if they had a shoe I could walk through the water in and keep my feet dry.

The Taulas Ridge boot is waterproof and has tread that sticks to the rocks and stops stones from shifting underfoot.

The Taulas Ridge boot is waterproof and has tread that sticks to the rocks and stops stones from shifting underfoot.

Actually, I scored big time. Not only did I get a boot (think 4 x 4 for your feet) that has Columbia’s OutDry Technology but the Taulas Ridge (R1699) also has the best tread I have ever experienced. I’ve got used to feeling the small rocks shift and slip under my feet on the mountain, especially after heavy rain which washes away the top soil, but these boots grip in a way that any anxiety I had previously about slipping is totally cured.

As a boot it also grips my ankle in a way that gives me forward/ back ease of movement but not side to side. I really like that as it prevents sprains. What I don’t like is it is a mission to get into and out of them. Columbia would do very well to increase the size of the loop at the back of the boot so that you can use two fingers to pull the boot on. I also love the chili colour which happens to match my Columbia rain jacket.

While shopping for the shoes I noticed their new range of cammo gear. I never thought I’d be the kind of person to want to wear camouflage but theirs, a mossy, woodlands scene, is so attractive I love it. But, best part of this stealth gear is that it is designed to be silent. The swish-swash sound my rain jacket makes when I walk irritates me so much I think next month I’ll get myself a cammo rain jacket – just in time for summer!

When JP walks on the mountain with me he still has to avoid the puddles – I just walk, proudly, straight through them. Let’s see how long it takes before he gets himself waterproof shoes…

columbia shoe



Top Billing spoke to PR-Net at The Brasserie in Tokai, Cape Town.

17 Sep

Patience Stevens and her Top Billing on SABC3 team of Amor Engelbrecht, Yusuf Stevens and Julia Fell spoke to PR-Net about their show. Chef Stef Marais prepared the most amazing dinner in the upstairs private room at The Brasserie, Tokai. Greg Gelb did the magic,Mike Wesson the photos and Mango OMC the Social Media updates.

Seen there were:

Weight loss and life-changing tools shared at September 26 talk.

16 Sep

Please help me spread the news about this talk. Details below:

A trifecta of speakers who have transformed their lives towards maximising good health as their new aim includes former restaurant critic and heavyweight, Brian Berkman, corporate digital executive Elan Lohmann who quit smoking and his job to start a health-orientated community and Dr Greg Venning, a certified wellness practitioner. The three share how they changed their lives on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 8pm at the Pavilion Conference Centre, V&A Clock Tower. The fee is R650 with bookings via

Book for this talk at

Book for this talk at

Entitled Upgrade Your Life, the two-hour presentation will hear from SleekGeek founder Elan Lohmann. “I was on a path to a constantly degenerating quality of life with a future of diabetes, lung cancer, lethargy and self-loathing ahead”, he explains adding that with a few simple actions and dedication he is on the path to a vital, energetic life. “It is sad what sedentary creatures we have become chained to desks and surrounded by convenient and mostly poor sources of nutrition. We have created a world in which living a healthy lifestyle is not the norm. It is a self-determined choice one has to make. I have learned the benefits are profound,” he says.

Brian Berkman who shed over 70kg by following a low-carb, high-protein, no sugar or alcohol diet says the decision to package a how-to talk comes from a high demand from people who also want to change: “I lost weight and took my life back from the brink of invasive and costly surgery but I also gave myself the opportunity to live a life free from constant pain which I had told myself was normal,” he says. “My goal in presenting this talk is so that others who also feel dissatisfied with their life can be motivated and given the tools to change.”

Dr Greg Venning, one of two certified wellness professional chiropractors, says he is not like other doctors. “I’m interested in creating health, not treating disease. Medical professionals are taught to treat illness not to create health and my passion is helping people activate human potential and maximise personal performance,” he says. Venning, also a popular speaker and coach, will contextualise Lohmann and Berkmans’ experiences so that people attending the talk will have clear guidelines how they too can change for the better.

While both Berkman and Lohmann’s stories have been extensively reported in the media what people who come to the talk will hear is the detail of what they did to keep themselves motivated to change. Lohmann says people will see and hear first-hand that change, admittedly not easy, is neither impossible nor as difficult as expected.





Upgrade Your Life, a talk about how to change.

10 Sep

Hear Dr Greg Venning, SleekGeek Elan Lohmann and I talk about how we changed our lives and how you can too. Thursday, September 26 at 8pm. Pavilion Conference Centre, V&A Clock Tower.

Book by clicking here:UpgradeYourLife

Let your imagination go wild at The Palace of the Lost City

4 Sep

We had the most wonderful visit to The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City. Read my article about it here.


No amount of sugar makes the bitter pill of our addiction to it easier to swallow.

1 Sep

This piece was first published in The Cape Times (August 30, 2013).

No amount of sugar coating can make the results of the SA National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, recently released by the Human Sciences and Medical Research Councils, easy to swallow. From my view point, sugar is the primary problem.

As a nation we are heavier and less healthy than we think we are. What’s worse, is that 22% of South African children, as compared to just 12% of children in the USA, long considered the heaviest people on the planet, suggests that our children are even bigger than those from where the source of most of the junk food consumed, come.

The tragedy of the figures is that while six out of 10 women older than 50 need to wear an extra-large skirt, a third of the children polled report not having food to take to school. The punishing economics of it means that those most likely to be hungry are also going to consume high-sugar processed junk foods which are cheaper and more immediately sustaining in the short term.

As featured in The Cape Times, August 31, 2013

As featured in The Cape Times, August 31, 2013

If we ever needed an invitation to take a long look in the mirror, this is it. I may be guiltier of contributing to our collective gluttony than the rest. While writing restaurant reviews for this newspaper I detailed long and lavish lunches with greedy glee. I also contributed to the celebrity cult of our now rock-star chefs. In the years that I wrote about dining out, chefs moved from behind their sound-proofed basement kitchens into glass enclosed theatres (Blues Restaurant in Camps Bay may have been the first local one to do so). Chefs migrated from craftsmen and women who produced food to inside our television sets and onto the covers of books in our library.

While we got in touch with our inner foodie the marketers of kitchen appliances and food brands were only too happy to join us. We did seem to have replace discernment for quality cuisine with a fascination of novelty if the desire for the now, thankfully, dying trend of “molecular” cuisine, is any indication.

While it is true that more people are demanding organic produce and want to know the provenance of what they eat (a very gratifying food trend) it is also true that junk food consumption is on the up. It seems our growth in our waists matches growth in the popularity of processed foods.

A separate study by Nestle into what South African children at private schools are eating while at school draws the same conclusions as the Research Councils’. The majority of children are consuming fizzy drinks and high-sugar, high-starch food which is also typically high in fat and sodium. None of which is surprising when you consider the addictive nature of these ingredients and the vast marketing spend to support their desirability. As a public relations practitioner that represents Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, suppliers of apples and pears, it concerns me that even when Tru-Cape as a healthy-food brand sponsors marathons that brands like Coke-a-Cola and other sugary and fizzy drinks are also linking themselves to sports and healthy pursuits. Years of marketing has suggested that the more we exercise the more we need to replace sugar in our system. This thinking is being challenged by many but in South Africa but Prof Tim Noakes is my hero for speaking against his peers and the tsunami of so-called scientific opinion that recommends a balanced diet.

Having shed over 70kg and reversed Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and other related health concerns by focusing on a diet free from sugar, starch, alcohol and fizzy drinks which is also high in protein, I can confirm that I first needed to overcome the addictive nature of sugars before succeeding.

As a near obsessive record keeper, I was able to share medical information and blood results over many years with Prof Noakes as well as details of all the previous “diets” that I’ve unsuccessfully tried to regain a healthy weight. Not one of the traditionally-accepted eating plans worked for me until I first purged my body of its addiction to sugar and sugar-producing carbohydrates. Prof Noakes has included my experiences in an article in the SA Medical Journal as proof that lifestyle diseases can be reversed by following a low-carb diet.

A study published in the Journal of Paediatrics proves the relationship between the volume of soft drinks consumed by five-year olds and their increased aggressive behavioural problems. The US study polled a sample of 2929 children, 52% were boys and 43% consumed at least one serving of soda per day while 4% consumed four or more servings per day. The study demonstrates that aggressive behaviour increase with the increased consumption of fizzy and, in most cases, sugary drinks.

The Nestle study of South African tuck shops says that fizzy drinks and chips make up 75% of what children are purchasing with Toasted bread at the next most popular purchase. The “food” menu is a high-carbohydrate offering of Spaghetti Bolognaise, macaroni and cheese, home-made pies and curry with rice.

Despite many challenges and time pressures (most in the study reported children left the house at 07h30 for school) many parents sent along lunch boxes which they considered healthier with nutrient-rich foods which is very good news. Less good is that the jury is still out on what defines “healthy foods”.  For “healthier” lunchboxes Nestles recommends starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes or pasta suggesting that brown, wholegrain, seeded bread or pap from the night before as alternatives and only then suggests lean proteins such as tuna, eggs, beef, chicken, even left over mince or stew as sandwich fillers.

What can’t be argued is the extra-large size of the problem. What should, however, be argued is the continued suggestion that a “balanced” or high carbohydrate, low-fat diet is health affirming.

Personal experience proves it is not.

There is also a lot of evidence purported by those who recommend Paleo eating or The Caveman Diet and the Low Carbohydrate High Fat (LCHF) options as the best. Unfortunately there doesn’t yet appear to be large companies happy to sponsor the research that will “prove” that we’ve had it wrong for many years.

Personal experience has also proved to me that it is easy to get the most established nutritional experts to agree to endorse a food product on spurious grounds. The only thing we can be truly certain of is how our bodies and those that we love and live with respond to what we eat.

If you are among the many people that are too heavy and have unsuccessfully followed “balanced diets” surely you owe it to yourself to try something different?

 Brian Berkman is a public relations consultant and freelance travel writer. He blogs about his weight-loss journey at and on September 26 at 8pm will be co-presenting a talk, Upgrade Your Life with Elan Lohmann and Dr Greg Venning about the tools necessary to change towards a lighter lifestyle. Fee is R650 per person and bookings are via