Carole confidential

Last updated at 16:40 19 April 2006

She's been Cherie Blair's guiding light and has helped resolve thousands of personal issues. If you missed your chance to ask renowned lifestyle guru Carole Caplin for advice don't worry. You can read the full transcript of our webchat here...

Moderator: How are you today Carole?

Carole I'm very awake! Awake and feeling quite relaxed. I've just come back from a trip in America, you know what it's like, you have that feel-good factor!

Seb: What have you been doing since Alive?

Carole: I have been actively involved in the save our supplements campaign, which we ran last year. And we're on stage two of that.

Carole: As an add on to that, there is a very popular goat's milk formula for babies that is being used by everyone from Madonna to Stella's being threatened with being taken off that market.

Carole: My work is teaching people and helping them through health issues using exercise, nutrition and a mixture of orthodox and complimentary medicine.

Carole: And I'm just about to visit some of the trouble spots in Israel. Particularly a village called Nev Shalom which is a village which has both Arabs and Jews living together and a school which is mixed.

Carole: They do grief counselling work, it's quite controversial but does very good work. I'm going out to visit and see how it all works.

James: What prompted you to start giving advice to people - was there one defining moment?

Carole: My mum was probably the first person in this country to teach public exercise. She taught Jane Fonda, Mia Farrow and did an exercise album with Felicity Kendall!

Carole: I loved dancing and woke up one day and couldn't move. I had a curvature of the spine and a leg nearly two inches shorter than the other. I was only 19 at the time. By 22, I was three and a half stone overweight. I had Candida, Fatigue Syndrome, smoked, was on the pill and covered in boils, acne. I was a mess.

Carole: I was given some shocking home truths by the Osteopath who was seeing me. She said she wouldn't help me until I helped myself.

Carole: I went back to my old training haunts and visited different practitioners, I realised what was needed was a multi-dimensional approach. I spent the next few years rehabilitating myself and building a dossier of what it takes to make a person better. And that's what started it all.

Audrey: Do you think you'd have had this career if you hadn't got ill?

Carole: That's such a good question! If I hadn't got ill, I would have just chosen one belief system and just followed that and nothing else.

Carole: I would have got lazy, not bothered exercising, because what so many people do is go for a quick fix. It doesn't really bring a result that can be maintained over a lifetime.

Carole: I decided to take a different stand, make it about the person in front of me, not about my system. So I might have been in the business, but not in such a pro-active way.

If: What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Carole: Mmmmn...To never be afraid to ask for help. To never have your ego be so big that you can't ask for help and guidance when you need it.

Pam: What's your top tip for improving your wellbeing and health?

Carole: That's so difficult! I'll have to give three. Okay, one is hydrate yourself: water, water, water...Remember that every time you drink coffee, tea or wine, that actually takes away two glasses of water. Also, get conscious, get real about what's really going on about your body. And sleep. Sleep is so important. Your body does its housekeeping between the hours of 11 and 4 in the morning. It is one of the most powerful healers. Any doctor will tell you that.

Carole: Thirdly...always have the courage to communicate how you feel. Preferably to a person, and if you can't do that, write it in a letter, whether you give it to a person or tear it up.

Carole: I've seen more people not get a physical result, because of putting up with situations year in and year out which is causing great unhappiness and the body cannot compete.

Paul: What was it like doing Alive? How trying was it?

Carole: Nothing prepares you for anything like that. I feel so honoured to have been chosen and I know that sounds really naff but I could never have afforded to do it on my own.

Carole: It was an extraordinary experience. I'm going to meet the guy who led the walk in the summer and I'm so excited. It was tough, really tough. It's interesting because when you do something like that it brings up a whole raft of feelings.

Carole: It was thrilling but also belittling. I remember arriving having just been ill and doing my first trek after that and when we reached the point the army men cheered and it was lovely, really uplifting.

Carole: In a funny kind of way I felt like I wanted to stay longer! The most important thing about it is that you had to be really responsible, about how we reacted emotionally in particular. There's no place to be moany, over-emotional, or needy or flirt or anyting. You have to drop all the bull and get on with it!

Carole: I used to take teams on outward bounds courses when I was in sales because it bonded them as a team in a way that I couldn't get them to in a training room.

Carole: I'd love to take chairmen and so on to a really high level where they are stuck and can't admit it. I'd love to get them to have the kind of break through they can't access in their day-to-day life.

Bev: Is it true that you insisted on being the only woman on the Alive challenge?

Carole: It wasn't up to me.

I believed that there were going to be five people, I'm not sure what happened to the last one...but no, it wasn't my call.

Derek: What was the first thing you did when you finished doing Alive?

Carole: Literally the first thing?! The first real thing was have a bath and wash my hair. I couldn't be in the water qick enough or long enough. And then I went and stuffed my face!

Carole: You'd think it would be sleeping but we were so wired...the last thing I wanted to do was sleep, only when my eyes were forcing me to did I go and crash.

Moderator: Here's a question asking for some advice...

If: My fiance is threatening to break off our engagement if I remain friends with my ex. We went out with each other 10 years ago and only for a few months. I want to make my fiance happy but I feel outraged at her ultimatum!

Carole: If something like this is happening so early on...then you both have to have a conversation about insecurities and trust. You have to talk about what the other person does that feeds the insecurity and mistrust. Sometimes it's just a question of not being included.

Carole: However, it's a situation that - until you fully resolve it - is a very hard thing to get through. It may be that you need some mediation to do this successfully.

Carole: One of the hardest things for any couple to be able to do when there's heightened reactions, is to listen. And that is why having a mediator can be really, really important.

Kittykitty: Do you have any advice on how working mums should achieve a good work/life balance?

Carole: First of all they need to not be guilty about wanting to look after themselves. What often stops them is that silent guilt. And they over-compensate, both at work and as a mother, leaving them exhausted and emotionally spent.

Carole: Clearly, giving themselves the best opportunity they can through nutrition and gentle exercise is a must, to give them the energy levels to cope with both.

Carole: They need to sit down and honestly work out, on paper, no bars held, what their boundaries are, in an ideal world in each area. What would their perfect scenario be

and then to work backwards to achieve 80 per cent of that.

Carole: Organisation is really important, around home, travelling and talking to their partner. Everything can be worked out, if you take the time to think it through properly. Finally, an exhausted mum won't help anyone, anywhere.

Fiona: My relationship with my daughter-in-law has deteriorated since she gave birth to her first child and my first grandchild. I'm naturally thrilled with the new arrival, but she often accuses me of being over-bearing and interfering whenever I offer to help with the baby. What can I do?

Carole: This is such a tough one and very, very common. We never see ourselves as interfering and over-bearing.

I would write her a really beautiful card saying that I will give her all the space she needs and to know that I am here if she needs me. If she really wants to build a relationship and see her grandchild, there's no point getting into an argument at this stage.

Carole: It's difficult but you must reassure her that it's not your intention and ask if there's a period of time every week or two weeks that she can spend some time with them.

Carole: Remember the daughter-in-law is hormonal, maybe pay a little more attention on her. Don't get into telling her what to do and what not to do, she's clearly not up for it. Use that incredible patience that mothers have. The first baby is always a difficult one, new mothers always really want to get it right and can often see everything as criticism.

Marie: Do you think that women over 40 are now far healthier than their mothers' generation? They certainly seem to look younger and dress younger and have more opportunities to develop, but is it a mirage and are we all kidding ourselves?

Carole: You've got it split down the middle. We're in such dire straits in every age group. I think that we have more awareness and knowledge in some ways than our parents did, but we are coming so much thicker and physiologically challenged at a much younger age.

Carole: There's such confusion about the pressures of life and stress is so much greater. Even though we have more knowledge and tools at our disposal, we're actually worse off.

Carole: People are getting high blood pressure and cancer, our digestive systems and immune systems are far worse than they've ever been. It's because we're not providing a healthy choice for people: in the boardroom, the bus depot, the train stations.

Carole: It's hard for people to do it, affordability and attitude wise. Governments will not sit down with people who work in the health-related industries outside of orthodox medicine.

James: Do you ever get disheartened by people who just wont take your advice?

Carole: I'm always can see how the person in front of you can turn things round. I've been working in this business for 25 years so I'm lucky that there's very few people that get past me or my team without coming out the other end really wanting to move forward.

Carole: What I'm even more disheartened by is the fight we still have in eradicating confectionary breakfasts and rubbish foodstuffs.

Carole: Last january, I decided to do a very unusual launch for my Life Smart book. I did it for the person reading, rather than everybody looking at me...I set the launch up as a live walk through the book.

Carole: I had products for eczema, alternative testing for breast cancer, alternatives for the kitchen cupboard...there was nothing we didn't cover. We had a green machine and instead of sweets and chocolate everything in it had a perfect taste choice. I want to know why a machine like that isn't available.

Carole: I want to know why the millions of people don't know about the choices and knowledge that I've had for years. People were gob-smacked because there's so much out there that is so interesting and delicious.

Carole: We either get men in suits pretending to bang their heads together saying "what can we do about the spiralling health of our nation" or they're taking healthy choices away.

Ophelia: What qualifies you to give advice over other people?

Carole: Nothing qualifies me to give advice over anybody. I think that anyone who works in this industry has a place in having an effect. So long as they have integrity the more the merrier.

Carole: I have a really interesting role which is as an over-viewer.

There are people I work with who I consider the experts, I'm always in awe of them. My role is to communicate on their behalf, communicate the choices out there.

Carole: My role has never been to be number one or the person who is best placed, I am, if you like, a trouble-shooter, matching people to people.

Carole: I am very humble at being able to have this role.

Fiona: Do you think that being a 'celebrity' undermines your professionalism, or do you think it adds to it?

Carole: i think that the way I became, at this point in my life, a celebrity has undermined the seriousness of the work I've done for 25 years. I think that's turned a corner, and the side of celebrity that does help is it gives me a platform to communicate and offer up those choices and what people might be interested in and what can help. It's a two-edged sword.

Carole: Up until 12 years ago, every single article that was written about me, especially in magazines, was a very straight account of the work I did, positive and accurate. Now, if I've allowed somebody to come in and witness what we do - nutrition, exercise, looking after yourself - if that's been covered in the last three years that had not been the case.

Carole: They've gone for getting on the Carole-bashing-bandwagon. That's fine, it's par for the course, I don't - after 5 minutes - let it get in the way of what I'm doing.

Bertie: Were you pleased when George Galloway exposed Mazher Mahmood on his website?

Carole: I thought it was great!

It was so funny. My advice to the Sheik, anyone in newspapers is, you have to have a sense of humour. I'd like to think he knows that. I saw the Editor of the News of the World at a party and actually I had no hard feelings at all. I wanted to shake his hand and say "that's water under the bridge" and move forward.

Carole: In this country everyone gets involved, ganging up...that isn't helping any of the problems in this world. Perhaps the Fake Sheik will start to be a bit more intelligent about the way he does things, or maybe not!

Seb: Do you regret posing topless?

Carole: I was dancing and I was going out with my first love who was a Greek Cypriot. A lot of my friends at the time were page 3 girls. One day it was suggested to me, by a well-known agent, that I might do well in that industry. I was quite chuffed and told my boyfriend, who went into complete hysterics!

Carole: I wasn't allowed to do it, or talk about it, typical male chauvinist reaction! As a result I rebelled and thought I'd go and do the test shots to spite him!

Carole: At the end of it he apologised and I decided not to carry on and thought nothing more of it! And then at the ripe old age of 32 they came out because I was topical.

Carole: It never occured to me at 17 to sign anything. Being a dancer, one body isn't any different to another and if you start getting precious about it, it couldn't be more boring. It's down to perception, if you're a Kate Moss it's really cool to be a bit outrageous.

Carole: If you're someone who they want to give a kicking too it's different.

They do make me giggle, seeing the test shots!

The thick blue and green eyeshadow they thought was so attractive!

Ophelia: Carole, what has been your favourite moment of your life so far?

Carole: How do you answer that? There have been so many that I couldn't name one. There has been something that overrides everything...When I've taken somebody on, at the end of a course of time, they get the result that they want to get. That can be anything from beating illness to conceiving when they thought they couldn't.

Carole: There is nothing that touches those moments when you see those people doing the work, having those breakthroughs and having a win.

Moderator: We have time for one last question everyone...

Audrey: You once dated Adam Ant - who is your ideal prince charming now?

Carole: I don't have one! I didn't date Adam because he was my ideal Prince Charming, he was just lovely! I was a dancer, he was a pop star, terribly romantic.

Carole: All I know is I've really changed in what I'm attracted by. My Prince Charming is probably someone who is just a really good, strong person who isn't afraid to show up in all areas. I have no exact picture but I'm certainly open to him coming into my life.

Moderator: Thanks so much for joining us today, did you enjoy the chat?

Carole: I loved it. I want to do more!

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