Learning about the food you should eat

Monday, August 13, 2018

Back in October, I began the first of five modules of my Future Fit Advanced Nutrition and Weight Management online course.  After running the Chicago Marathon, I had a few days with my feet up recovering so I started chipping away at it.

Studying in my office with help from my personal assistant
I started off with the longest module, Nutrition and Weight Management.  I figured it would give me a good review of nutrition topics I had covered in my personal training course with more detail.  There were 16 lessons all together in this module, each of which took 20-30 minutes to complete.  For this course, I had to be online to play each lesson, which features an audio track of the text.  There are knowledge checks periodically within the lesson to see if you retained key bits of information or to see if you have prior knowledge about the next topic.  The information delivered so far is simply put and broken down into little chunks that were easy to digest.  If I didn't finish a lesson, it would save my place and offer me an option to resume where I had finished or to start at the beginning of the module.  Before passing each lesson, you must complete a five question quiz and score 100%.  You can repeat the test immediately of you missed one or two questions but if you take too long to pass, you will have to log out and back in to restart.

Each lesson also has a resource folder which includes a transcript, relevant forms, and sometimes a glossary.  Any time I had a question, I could either email my tutor or submit a question through the website.  Most of my questions were around the technology side of things, rather than the course material, because computers are not my forte.  The Future Fit Training team were always quick to respond and very helpful.

No joke, this cookie is as big as my head.  And when I get stressed, I eat the whole thing.
Part of the course is a case study working with a client to help them learn more about their food habits and emotional links to eating.  It was actually hard to find a volunteer that was willing to work with me for eight weeks.  Through Twitter, I found two competitive male cyclists who wanted to drop some weight to improve their cycling performance.  One of them was travelling a lot of work and was unable to check in with me on a regular basis.  I am happy to say the other client was able to check in regularly and found the accountability very helpful.  He tracked his food three to four days a week for me and started choosing fruits and vegetables over convenient processed foods.  He didn't loose any weight but he was sleeping better and feeling more energized during the day.


My tips for online study success?  Give yourself deadlines to complete each lesson or modules by writing them in your diary.  Think of them as exam dates that you cannot change.  Set aside studying time in your diary each week too.  I prefer to have the same slot every week (although that hasn't be possible with marathon training the last two months) and keep plugging along but your schedule might be better to spend one day every other week.  Set up a place to study that is free from distractions- no TV, no music, no kids (or dogs) interrupting you.  You are taking this course to improve your health and knowledge, as well as to help your clients.  Make it a priority.  Have a notepad to take notes or print out the resource info to annotate as you go along.

Most of all, enjoy it!  All of the information will help you fuel your body properly, feel energized and maintain a healthy weight that is appropriate for you.  As they say, "health is wealth".


Thanks to Future Fit Training for their support of furthering my nutritional education.  All opinions are honest and my own.

Coming up next: 4x4 running challenge

Thursday, August 9, 2018

As someone who was cut from her high school football team for being slow, I never imagined I would be running marathons in my spare time while in my late 30s.  Currently, I am pursuing the six World Marathon Major races, but when an advert for a desert ultra marathon caught my eye, I suddenly wanted more.


I started running in 2006 to fundraise for a local humane society.  From 2011-2015, I supported RODS Racing as a way to grieve for my stillborn nephew.  I have been slowly gaining my confidence from being the slowest girl on the team to a confident athlete who is up for a physical challenge.  My latest adventure was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2018 to summit on International Women's Day.

This year by committing to Track Tuesdays and working with the amazing team at Function360, I have never felt fitter or faster.  I have also started to drop excess weight by working with a nutritionist and staying focused on my goals.

With this in mind, I am super excited to announce my 4x4 Running Challenge!

Over September, October and November, I will take part in four different running challenges in four different countries.  They are:

8 September: Marathon du Medoc- fancy dress and wine drinking marathon on Bordeaux region of France

21-22 September: Ragnar Relay White Cliffs, UK- relay race of 170 miles with a team of 10

7-13 October: Wadi Rum Ultra, Jordan- 250 km over 5 days in the Jordan desert with temperatures over 30 degrees C

4 November: NYC Marathon, USA- Mollie's 4th World Marathon Major


#TeamLikeAGirl, who are my new friends 

Wadi Rum Ultra will be the hardest race for me.  Although I am currently feeling strong in body and mind, the only experience I have in multi-day events is as part of a relay team for Spitfire Scramble and Fitbit Fifty.  Plus, I have never run in the desert or an ultra (anything over 26.2 miles/marathon distance).  To successfully train for Wadi Rum, I will need to add more miles into my marathon training schedule, more strength and conditioning to keep my body strong through the challenge, and somehow acclimatize my body to the heat for running for 30+ degree C temps (although the London heat wave is certainly helping).   Can I do this while working full-time and having a (mostly) understanding husband at home? Time will tell.

I was lucky enough to take part in a Wadi Rum training weekend where I met lots of the racers.  Everyone was friendly and happy to chat all things running (my kind of people!).  We have another training weekend coming up in September where I hope to learn more about how to prepare effectively.  There is so much to learn about running multi-day challenges, as well as caring for your feet.   I need to sort out what I am going to eat along the way and make sure everything fits into my bag.  Somehow, I will manage a way to fit it all in.

Salomon Agile 6
I am so blessed as a blogger to have developed relationships over the years with various brands.  Many that I have worked with in the past are once again showing their support for my enthusiastic and adventurous efforts.  I would like to say a huge thanks to these companies for sending me samples of the following kit to put to the extreme test over these next few months.  Reviews will be posted after the challenge is complete.

Salomon- Agile 6 bag and Sense Ride trainers
1000 Mile- Breeze sock
Sole- Active Medium footbed
Skins- various compression wear (more info soon)
Suunto- Suunto 9
IV Doc- Post race treatment

One other aspect of this challenge will be verbalizing my 'why'.  Non-running acquaintances keep asking me why I signed up to do all of these races, why would you rather run 20 miles that have a BBQ, why do you over-commit yourself with fitness activities every day of the week?  I can't yet answer them.  I think some of it stems from being cut from the football team. Another is that I do find it fun (when I am not injured, of course). Some of it might be to draw attention to myself as I am so far from friends and family back in the USA, I don't want to be forgotten about.  Lucky for me, I have plenty of long runs coming up to think this through more carefully. 

If you want to keep tabs on me and my training over the next few months, please follow me on Strava.  A little kudos goes a long way.

We raced down this huge dune near Brecon Beacon. I am pretty sure a local 9 year old girl (not pictured) won.

Wild & Well Festival- come be active and inspired

Monday, August 6, 2018


If you are in England 20-21 October 2018, you should aim to stop by Bristol for the Wild & Well Festival that weekend.  Their tagline is "a new style of wellbeing festival for anyone who want to live in a healthier happier, more connected way."  This totally resonates with my ethos and offers many different classes, workshops, talks, and activities at six venues around Bristol.

I wanted to attend last year but was in the USA for the Chicago Marathon.  This year, however, I am giving a talk about my time in Tanzania, climbing Kilimanjaro.  I am super excited to share my story with you, giving tips on how to plan your trip and what it takes to go on adventures big and small.  The final program is still being developed, but my talk will be on Sunday at Ashton Court.
Second tier tickets are currently available for £30/day or £50 for the weekend.  There are also family tickets available.  You can currently pre-book some of the talks (like mine!) and workshops if there is something you are interested in.

My aim to have my e-book about Kilimanjaro available by this time too.  It will includes tips on preparing, a training guide, packing list, and stories from my trip.  All proceeds will go towards my fundraising goal to help a special needs classroom in Moshi, Tanzania, that we visited on our trip.  This classroom does not have any desks or chairs, which means the special needs children sit on the floor for their lessons.

My goal is to raise £420 (£1 for each kilometer I climbed) towards the £1250 needed to buy this furniture.  If you scroll to the bottom of my Kilimanjaro post, you can read more about the project.

Thanks to friends, family and my local community, I have raised £173 so far.  A desk/chair set is £95 ($135).  You can donate through PayPal any amount you wish with this button.




I didn't stop at Stella Point, but kept going (very slowly) to the tippy top of Kilimanjaro.

Come to my talk at Wild & Well to learn more about this unforgettable experience in nature.

Don't forget to check out Wild & Well on Facebook and Instagram (@wildwellfest). Follow me too on Facebook and Instagram.

Sometimes I pee my pants when I run

Thursday, August 2, 2018

This post will quickly become TMI, so only continue reading if you dare. If words like incontinence, vagina, vibrator, fart, and poop make you uncomfortable, stop reading now.  This isn't the typical vocabulary on my blog but I want women to know they are not alone on a few embarrassing bodily functions.  Mom- you have been warned.

When I go out for a run, my main objectives are not to pee or poop my pants (aka underwear or leggings, depending on where you are from.  Either way- it wouldn't be pretty.).  Lots of planning goes into what I can eat in the few hours before a run.  I prefer fasted runs first thing in the morning as the risk of uncontrollable bowel movements is minimized.  With urination, it is a different story.  Usually, I leak a little when I cough due to hay fever while running.  This problem doesn't seem to be as big an issue when a coughing fit strikes while I am on my bike.  During another episode, I was climbing over a stile on a trail race when I felt a slight release.

Black leggings are good at hiding wet patches.
I can never tell how much volume of urine actually leaves my body.  It feels like an uncontrollable rush, which is mortifying.  Questions like- "Will anyone be able to tell?" and "Does it smell?" go through my mind.  When I finally get to the loo, it is always much smaller than what I originally thought.  It just seems illogical that I have this issue.  I have never given birth, nor do I suffer from chronic urinary tract infections.  I am still on the younger side of 40, so why do I have the problem of sometimes urinating when I run?

Being a member of Run Mummy Run's Facebook group, I know this is a problem for many women.  On the spectrum of severity, my problem isn't bad at all.  It doesn't prevent me from being physically active and I don't feel a need to wear an absorbent pad.  But what I can't understand is why women don't talk about it more?  As a creative problem solver, I decided to create a survey to help me gauge how much of an issue incontinence with running is and who women are turning to for help and advice.

First, I would like to thank everyone who took a few minutes out of their day to share their story with me and also those who shared my survey.  You can see we had a variety of ages represented, as well as running experience.





One hundred and eighty one women and one man completed my survey.  Only 25% of the respondents talk to someone about the problem (compared to 53% who keep it to themselves).  Of the 98 people who answered why or why not do you talk to anyone about your incontinence problem and who if you do who,  the majority said they were too embarrassed to speak about it. Another large proportion said that it wasn't enough of a worry to bother talking to others.  Those that do talk to others rely on family (mostly moms and sisters) and their running friends to confide in.  I was surprised to see a few women didn't' know how to bring it up and another said it was "frowned upon" to discuss it in the spin community.



Ladies- let me tell you that you are not alone.  Half of the women who do not have kids and completely my survey have some sort of experience with incontinence while running or playing sport.  Seventy three percent of the moms who completed my survey suffer from some degree of incontinence after the kids arrived (both by vaginal birth and C-section). Yes, it is embarrassing, but know that chances are the lady next to you at Parkrun is having the same worries as you at the start line.  Besides, everyone can relate to your body doing something that you cannot control (like farting when you sneeze, or is that just me?).

For those that answered my survey, 63% felt it was a minor problem that didn't require any protection, while 23% wear thin liners or nappies.  There where two big things that also stood out to me.  First, that this problem keeps women from being physically active (33% in my survey will "occasionally" to "all the time" miss workouts because of their concerns).  Other women purposely drink less on a run to avoid the issue.  I would really advise against this, especially with the hot weather we have been having.

The second is that of the few women who were brave enough to bring this up with their general practitioner (GP, aka doctor in USA) (although I hate to use the word brave as you should be able to talk to your GP about anything.  I acknowledge that this is a difficult topic for most though), the GP was dismissive.  In my experience with the National Health Service (NHS), the doctors are too busy and too budget-aware to address things that don't inhibit you from going to work.  Perhaps if you have a good relationship with your doctor, they will recognize that this issue is important to you and make suggestions on how a solution can be reached.



Most women in my survey knew what kegals were and 99.8% knew what pelvic for was (maybe it was the man who didn't).  To ensure we are all on the same page, kegels (named after the doctor who first described them) are exercises that involve tightening and releasing the pelvic floor muscles.  Both men and women can benefit from performing kegel exercises.  The pelvic floor is a group of muscles at and across the bottom of your pelvis.  It holds internal organs, such as bladder, bowel and uterus, in place.  A strong pelvic floor can help you control urination, defecation, flatulence, and sexual function.

Reading a few comments from women who took part in  my survey, it sounds like medical experts just see occasional incontinence as a fact of life after birth.  Some women said you can ask for pelvic floor physical therapy through the NHS to get help.  Over the years, women's magazines report you can interrupt your urine stream when peeing to help strengthen your muscles "down there".  But as a personal trainer, I can't see how that will work as the "sets" would be fairly short. 

I have not yet given up all hope.


Recently, I was contacted by V-Sculpt to try out their pelvic floor toner and vaginal rejuvenation device.  Sold exclusively by medical professionals, it is considered an authorized medical device.  I have never used anything like this (or any "toy") for that matter so wasn't sure how this would go.  It uses LED light therapy, gentle heat and vibration to help tone and health the vaginal cells and muscles.  You can use it if you have an IUD (which I do) so I was good to go.

To start with, the V-Sculpt recommends six minutes a day of toning over a few weeks, building up to eight minutes and then ten minutes four times a week.  I find I need to lay down to use the V-Sculpt so will check social media or read a book while sculpting. 


Ten minutes a day sounded totally doable when I first agreed to try it out, but I am finding that it is still hard to fit it in.  I need to put a reminder in my calendar or go to bed before my husband (who thinks this whole thing is hilarious) so I can be left in peace.  Apparently, he has never felt the urge to pee or poop his pants while running and therefore cannot relate.  Some guys get all the luck.  After nine weeks of initial vaginal training, you just need to be on a maintenance plan of ten minutes one to two times per week.

I have been using the V-Sculpt once a week since I got up the nerve to charge it.  It was a bit weird to ask, but in my survey 68.2% of the women have had or still do have a vibrator.  Therefore, the V-Sculpt might not be awkward for them to try. 




There is a photogenic gel which helps the V-Sculpt work more effectively.  It is extremely runny and I welcome any advice on how not to waste it when applying to my V-Sculpt or myself.


Why did I agree to review this when I don't usually talk about lady bits?  The V-Sculpt does have a peer-reviewed study supporting its claims.  I have nothing to loose and everything to gain from not worrying about peeing when running.  Plus I want to help other women out there find a practical solution to this very common problem.  I will be checking back as I get into a routine.  It takes about three months to see results if you use the V-Sculpt every day.  I can say my weekly sessions are not working in my favor so far but hope to better commit to my training program and post a follow up in a few weeks time with some good news. 

Here is the user guide if you want to learn more about the V-Scuplt.....

Thanks to V-Sculpt for the complimentary vaginal toner.  All opinions on the product are honest (probably way too honest) and my own.