Hey Guys!

My university riding club has entered a competition to win £1000 and we are in desperate need of your votes!

All you need to do is click the link, enter your age, enter a valid email address, and when you get an email click confirm to validate your vote!

Our riding stables where we train horseball has just closed down. We have been lucky enough to find a new stables to train at but it doesn’t have any equipment and we are having to train the horses up ourselves!

Our university doesn’t count our club as a sport so we receive very little funding.
If we won the funding this would help pay for all our equipment as well as training costs which would get us towards competing in some national British horseball competitions.

PROMO: Everyone who votes and sends me a screenshot to show they have validated their email i will reblog 15 of your pictures to our 3.8k followers (Just send me your tagged photos link with the screen shot)

Thank you so much in advance!

This is our horseball captain competing in a training match

William Bartholomew (an inmate at Dumfries asylum), Cake Month, 1881.

From an exhibition called Art in the Asylum (Nottingham University, 2013), featuring outsider art from asylums including Kingsley Hall, Lausanne and Dumfries.

Sunrise over still water by blinkingidiot on Flickr.


Growing Fat To Get Slim

While normal white fat stubbornly stores excess calories on hips, bellies and thighs, over the last few years a picture has emerged of a different kind of fat – one which, paradoxically, might help us to lose weight. This is brown fat, which challenges all our assumptions about the fat in our bodies: it burns calories rather than storing them. 

It was only six years ago we discovered that brown fat exists and is active in adults. Since then, it has become the focus of attention as a potential tool to help combat obesity and its related diseases. And the idea that there might be a way to burn through calories without the need to exercise is a tempting prospect for many of us.

“We all know you only need a modest change in energy balance to put on weight – eating one or two extra biscuits a day is enough,” says Michael Symonds at the University of Nottingham, UK. “So if you could activate brown fat, or increase its activity, you could potentially reduce your body weight.”

Symonds is one of a number of researchers working to develop behavioural, surgical and pharmaceutical therapies that might harness the power of brown fat, and some of these could be as simple as taking a cold dip in the pool or eating spicy food. 

What makes brown fat so interesting is its ability to burn food directly to produce heat, whereas energy extracted from food is usually stored first, then released during activity such as exercise. It can produce 300 times more heat per gram than any other tissue in the body. This is because brown fat cells have a disproportionately high number of mitochondria – the small energy producing structures in cells – which also gives the stuff its eponymous colour. These mitochondria are slightly different from those in other cells, too, because they contain a protein called thermogenin, or UCP1, which enables brown fat to turn energy to heat directly.

This furnace-like ability is vital for regulating temperature in some mammals and in babies, who are unable to shiver to keep warm. But until recently it was thought to become defunct after infancy in humans. Then in 2009, several studies showed that brown fat was present and functional in adults in the neck, shoulders and around the spinal cord.

This discovery changed the question from whether adults have brown fat, to whether we can make use of it to help with weight control. “It was a eureka moment,” says Symonds.

The amount of brown fat each of us has varies, though. Slimmer people tend to have more of it, which might help explain why some people seem to burn through everything they eat, while others pile on the pounds.

So the first step is to find out how much, if any, of this “good” fat you have. Because brown fat is activated when the body is exposed to the cold, Symonds and his team have helped pioneer the use of a thermal imaging camera to detect it.

When animals are cold, they initially regulate their temperature by shivering. But after repeated exposure, shivering decreases while energy expenditure stays the same. Studies in rodents have shown that this is down to brown fat activity. If the same is true in humans, then regular cold exposure could help you adapt to the cold and burn calories in the process. 

Evidence for this comes from an intriguing study conducted by the US army in the 1960s, which subjected 10 almost nude men to temperatures of 11 °C , for 8 hours a day for a month. Electrodes on their skin showed that, like rats, shivering decreased after about two weeks, suggesting that their bodies had somehow adapted to the cold. The team concluded that another metabolic process was at work, although it remained a mystery.

Fifty years later, Anouk van der Lans at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and colleagues wondered whether brown fat was responsible. So in 2012 they recreated the study using PET scans and fat and muscle biopsies to measure brown fat activity, as well as monitoring shivering. After 10 days, brown fat activity had increased and the subjects were better at producing heat without shivering, so they shivered less. They also found the cold easier to tolerate.

 Encouragingly, in this study, a temperature of about 16 °C was cold enough to switch on the tissue. “Nobody thinks that getting so cold that you’re uncomfortable is necessary,” says Aaron Cypess of the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, an author of one of the 2009 papers.

How many calories can you expect to shed? Estimates vary hugely. One trial of Japanese men found that spending 2 hours a day in a
17 °C room for six weeks boosted brown fat activity by 50 per cent, and got rid of 5 per cent of their body fat. At the start of the experiment the men burned 108 calories during 2 hours in the cold, but this rose to 289 calories after doing it every day for six weeks.

That doesn’t necessarily mean all those calories are burned by the brown fat itself – in studies that only involve short bursts of cold exposure, it could be down to other mechanisms like shivering. For example, one study of volunteers with an average of 50 grams of brown fat found they burned around 300 extra calories a day when exposed to moderate cold for 30 minutes – but brown fat only accounted for 20 calories of this.

Despite the mixed results, those figures are encouraging enough for some people to make cold exposure part of their daily routine. “The mechanism of how it happens is important to understand, but for practical reasons, the result is what people care about,” says Wayne Hayes, a NASA scientist who has created the Cold Shoulder, a waistcoat filled with ice packs designed to activate brown fat.

Cypess and others believe that brown fat could make a contribution to weight loss strategies with regular cold exposure. But what if you don’t like the cold? There could be a tastier alternative.


Capsaicin, a compound in chillies, seems to stimulate brown fat in a similar way. Mice fed capsaicin as part of a high-fat diet, for example, have increased metabolic activity and don’t put on weight. This fits with a small study in which 10 men who took capsaicin pills daily had greater brown fat activity in the cold and burned more calories after six weeks.

“Capsaicin is promising as it is natural, and relatively safe and inexpensive,” says Cypess. “But we are awaiting the definitive experiment showing that a dose of capsaicin directly leads to activation of brown fat.”

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International Welcome Week

First of all, I was up for 36 hours straight.
When the plane landed in London I first had to stop and get my passport checked. All “students” were put into a separate line that I thought would be nice, but they actually did every other traveler before letting students go. Aka, it took almost 2 hours just waiting in a line that didn’t move, all because we’re students. Luckily Nathan (from CofC) was there and so was another American girl named Preesma, from Connecticut.

When we finally did get through, found our bags, and found the Nottingham Univ. representatives, we saw a massive pile-up of other Nottingham international students all waiting on buses. Nathan and I did the very American thing and went straight to the front, THEN asked what we were supposed to do. When we finally got a bus, we were able to get front row seats on the SECOND LEVEL OF THE BUS!!

The ride was about 3 hours long. I saw a lot of cows and sheep. Also, we passed many mack trucks and what was interesting about them was they seemed to have a cloth-like outside instead of metal. The plasticy-cloth was roped down and waving in the wind. I have never seen that in the U.S.

On our first day into the city center, we wanted to find some authentic British food. So many signs said “2 Courses for £8.95” and Nathan’s like “I could do that! That’s not too bad!” And I reminded him that that is almost $15! So we went into a more chainey looking place, I assumed by the looks of it it wouldn’t be that expensive as the outside looked a bit cheesy. Low and behold, our authentic British meal was not so…. one look at the menus and….

it was clear we had failed. But trying to not be tacky, we didn’t just up and leave the restaurant but stayed and ordered. Still trying to save money I just got a minestrone soup which surprisingly had cabbage in it…. though I can’t say I’m surprised the British put cabbage in an Italian soup!

We did some shopping at Wikinson and I got some bedding and supplies. A lot of supplies actually; I filled a bookbag, Vera bag, and had a giant shopping bag. Then we caught the bus back to school. A round trip costs about $3.20, by the way.

This week I’ve been attending functions the school put on for international students, registered for the NHS, set up my cell phone, explored campus, got lost on campus, almost collapsed on campus carrying 100 pounds of stuff to my new room across what felt like 5 miles, almost collapsed on campus while climbing up a hill (about 4 times), been shouted at to stay in the “queue”, and met friends from Nigeria, Jamaica, Oman, and Hong Kong. It’s all very freshman feeling, meeting a millioin people at once in a strange place, eating stranger food and missing your family (yes parents, I miss you).

Here are some photos from around campus and town:

A big drumming circle. The best part was when the leader got some people up into the center to African dance. They ended up shying away from that though, and winging it, it was really funny.

Here is a classic piece of British litter - a tea bag.

The view outside my window during Int'l week - only temporary.

This is the Trent building on campus. I’m not sure what really goes on here besides Kareoke and NHS registration during Int'l Week, but it’s an iconic building for Nottingham. They have themed buildings after it on their two foreign campuses in Malaysia and China. 

This is a shot of Beeston, a very cute little town next to campus that is walking distance from my hall!

A big grassy area on campus.

A classic example of British graffiti - Harry Potter’s initials carved into the cafeteria trays.

A British snail.

The city center!

Guess which one I tried!!!!!

Kangaroo! I tried Kangaroo! It was kind of gamey.. though I say that thinking I know what gamey tastes like but if I do then THAT was it. I liked it at first then actually walked back to the stall to add some condiments! Next time it’ll be the ostrich burger…. or this!

I was SOOOOO happy to see this stall downtown. I actually started explaining to the man what a pig pickin was and about barbeque buffets, though I don’t think he was very interested. I also have never been to a legitimate pig pickin, but I have eaten off a full pig before….. mmmmmmmm

This guy made fun of us because we were lost, but his fruits are pretty.

BOUGHT A 3-PACK OF BUENO BARS FOR ONE POUND AT POUND WORLD!!!!!!!!!! They cost like $5 in the States, and are the best candy bar I’ve ever had. They’re an Italian treat of hazelnut cream inside a thin wafer coated in chocolate. again, mmmmm

Mom, this one’s for you! This ice cream truck in the city center is advertising 99’s! I didn’t get one but I will!

I went back to Beeston this morning with a friend from Arizona and one from Australia (who thinks it’s so cool when I say y'all!) and we spotted this adorable baby owl. It was part of an exhibition of owls and hawks to get donations for bird rescues.

Grandma - I have spotted the jacket potatoes!
Dad - there’s a great deal on tattoos and I can’t remember if you said to get one while I’m gone or not?

Another pretty shot of campus to round out this post.

I have just moved into my permanent housing this morning. Not through decorating, but will post pics when I am. The school did supply us with a free duvet and pillow so that’s very helpful. There’s a welcome dinner for international students in Willoughby (my hall) tonight and then tomorrow the British students move in.

Slowly getting less and less tired, and more and more acquainted with campus.