What does a hygienist do to your teeth?

Friday, January 18, 2019

I love having teeth but I hate going to the dentist.  When I was younger, I had so many cavities filled I still have minor panic attacks when the hygienist finds a 'sticky spot'.  My SimplyHealth Active plan covers routine teeth cleaning, which was perfect as I was due for one in December.  For those who haven't been to the dental hygienist in a while or are curious about what happens during an appointment, read on to learn about my experience.  I have also included a some information that I learned during my appointment.  Enjoy!


How much does it cost to have your teeth cleaned?
Coming to London, I was a bit surprised to find out that I had to pay to visit a dental hygienist to have my teeth cleaned.   In the USA, teeth cleaning is part of your dental insurance plan (if you have it as not every employer will offer it as a benefit) and you may only need to pay a co-pay at your appointment (which is similar to an excess fee in the UK) depending on what insurance policy you have.  Again, it depends on what insurance policy you have, but usually the cost in less than $20 as the rest is covered by your insurance company.  Here in the UK, I have found that it costs about £50-60 in London for a 30 minute appointment.  In both countries, it is recommended to have your teeth cleaned twice a year.  Luckily, my Simplyheath Active plan covers routine dental appointments and emergency procedures (after a qualifying period). 



What does a hygienist do to your teeth?
I had an appointment booked in early December, which was between marathon madness and the holiday party season. I was warmly greeted by my hygienist, Cheryl, who quickly reviewed my records on her computer.  She probably noticed that I am missing four teeth that were pulled to make room for the rest when I was younger (small jaw/big teeth problems).  After I sat in the reclining chair, she gave me safety glasses and placed a disposable cloth across my chest.  These are to help protect my eyes and clothes from water, spit, and any others types of splash. 

Cheryl then placed a suction stick in at the back of my mouth under tongue so I didn't have to swallow as often. This means I can leave my mouth open so she can work. She started on my bottom teeth, scraping off tartar and plaque.  Luckily, it didn't hurt!  Since my last appointment, where I was told I had the start of gum disease (lovely, huh?), I have been adamant about flossing in the evenings and using an interdental brush each time I brush.  Although I don’t have large noticeable gaps in my teeth, I do have a slight space at the bottom of my teeth, where food can get stuck or my electric toothbrush can’t reach.  I am now one of the converted as I want to keep my teeth for as long as possible.

Methodically, Cheryl made her way around my lower jaw and then up to the top.  There were a few times where I needed to swallow and that is fine.



Does it hurt when you visit the hygienist?
Cheryl also checked in with me to see if I was comfortable or in pain.  She told me at the start of the appointment to raise my hand if I needed her to stop.  I am happy to say that I did not. 




Does snacking cause cavities?
After she has had a close look, Cheryl let me know I was the best patient of the day as my teeth were easy to clean.  She also asked if I snack throughout the day or just eat at mealtime.  I know that she knows the truth (my teeth don’t lie) so I sheepishly admitted I basically eat all day (7am, 10am, 1pm, 3pm, 6pm).  Her suggestion was to l try to only eat a few big meals and avoid fizzy drinks. This will help me protect the enamel on my teeth.  The fermentable dietary sugars from food stays in the mouth for about 30 minutes after eating.  It takes those 30 minutes for saliva to remove most the sugars from your mouth which protect the enamel.  Every time you put food to your lips you start the cycle again.  Therefore, leaving longer time between eating protects your teeth.  If you are continuously snacking, there isn’t any time for saliva to combat the sugars.



What is the difference between tartar and plaque?
Tartar is the mineralized form of plague.  You will usually have it in hard to reach places, such as the inside surfaces of your lower front teeth and outer surfaces of upper molars. This is also because of where two of the three major salivary ducts openings are located.   The minerals in saliva, calcium in particular, mix with the plague already on your teeth and mineralise them into tartar. Once these harden, they form tartar and very hard to remove without the special instruments your dental hygienist has available. There is strong evidence linking presence of tartar beneath the gum level with gum disease, which is why it is so important to remove.

I am very grateful that my Simplyhealth Active plan covered this appointment and then my next one in six month’s time.  I would like to keep my natural teeth for as long as possible because if I have to loose them, there might be some expensive and painful procedures required. 

Next week, I will give you a step by step on how to claim back an appointment fee via the Simplyhealth website.  It was much easier that I thought it would be.

How often do you get your teeth cleaned?  Do you floss regularly? 



Thanks to dental student Premal Patel for his help on explaining the science behind oral hygiene.  This post contains affiliate links which cost you, the buyer, nothing additional but helps maintain the costs associated with running this site.

This post is sponsored by Simplyhealth UK.  You can visit their Active Plan page here to learn more about the policy and how you can benefit. 

Marathon du Medoc Vlog

Thursday, January 17, 2019

As you read in my 2019 goal blog earlier this week, I am aiming to create more videos for my You Tube channel this year.  I will be creating video recaps for each of my 4x4 Challenge races.  Here is the first one for Marathon du Medoc.

You can read my full race review here.


2019 goals... better late than never

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Holy cow how as it already the middle of January?  This month has flown by primarily due to my book release.  With the help of a great PR, I have been spending my time outside work taking part in interviews (like the one on Thoughts and Pavement blog), writing articles about health and happiness (see Net Doctor for the scoop), and sending tips to various other publications (will share links as I get them).  I have been loving nearly every minute of promoting my book, but found that to balance it all, I had to cut back on sleep.  This was a bad choice because I have been hungry all the time, breaking out in spots, and generally grumpy.  I am back to normal life after a lighter workload over Christmas.  In order to help me focus my attention and balance all of my interests, I have come up with a few goals for 2019.


Most of my goals this year are around building my blog and personal training business. I am at a good place with my day job and happy with how I am progressing in terms of strength (as long as I don't get any more injuries).  Tonight I make a return to #tracktuesday with Advent Running and I cannot wait.  Last year, from January until August or so, I went to track every week religiously, which helped me bag a sub 25 minute 5K at the Lilac Festival in my home town (100th place with a gun time of 24.54, net time 24:48. Boom).  I look forward to seeing similar progress this year.

For personal goals I have:

  • 4 hour marathon by end of 2019 (with in Tokyo 2020 and Boston 2121)-  I might need to shift focus more to this goal and not blogging in June if I don't see a massive improvement in either area.
  • New half marathon PB- I have a half in February, March, April, and May.  I can't wait to see how I perform since I have been following my Function360 strength training plan since November.
  • Declutter- This will always be an ongoing thing for me.  My husband has developed a few new organizational systems for me in our flat as he doesn't like an untidy mess (I swear I know where everything is!).  We are going to have an extra cupboard put in for my adventure stuff and have added in a few more storage baskets in various places to hide my stuff away.  I am also working on a better paper filing system because I love bits of paper!


For my business, I want to:

  • Finish nutrition course by 1 June 2019- I am over halfway done.  Everyone at Future Fit Training are really supportive and check in with me once a month to see how I am doing. So far, I have finished Behaviour Change Coaching and Nutrition and Weight Management modules.  I still need to submit my case study and complete Childhood Nutrition & Obesity Prevention, Nutrition for Sport and Exercise, and Pre and Postnatal Nutrition.  These are shorter than the ones I have completed.  I just need to set aside time and get it done.
  • Gain competence in video editing-  A guy at work has been very helpful teaching me how to do a few things.  There will definitely be a learning curve with this one but I am excited to learn something new.
  • Blogging SMART goals- 
    • Monthly new blog series post.  Stay tuned!
    • Schedule 4 social media shares per new blog post
    • From July, learn how to use Pinterest effectively
    • Tidy fitness writing page by 1 March
    • Go on Pinterest once a month for 30 minutes
    • Create one workout video a month for YouTube
    • Check broken links once a month for 2 hours
And in both areas, I need to learn to say no and value my time.

I don't talk much about behind the scenes of blogging as I would rather inform you about health and fitness topics.  If this interests you, or there is another topic you would like me to cover here on the blog (such as writing an e-book), please let me know in the comments below.  I want to make sure you are getting as much as you can to develop your personal health and happiness by visiting this site.

What goals go you have for 2019?  Let me know in the comments below or use the search box to the right to see if there are any posts that can help you achieve your dreams.



This post contains an affiliate link which costs you, the buyer, nothing additional.  It helps support the running of this blog though.  Thanks for understanding.

How to dress when training in the winter

Friday, January 4, 2019

Mornings and nights during the winter months make it tough to hit the pavement (regardless of the temperature outside).  For those signed up to a spring marathon, your training has just started.  It is important to dress appropriately when training outdoors in the early mornings or late evenings so that drivers and cyclists can see you. Nobody likes a run or ride that ends in injury. 

Here are my 5 tips on what to wear when exercising outdoors in the dark:

Light colours or high vis- This one is a no brainier. Your mom has been telling you this since you were little. Unfortunately, many sports brands limit the colours of their clothing with black being a staple choice.  If you don't have a top or bottom that is white or a bright colour, look for hi-vis accessories- such as an ear band, gloves, or Velcro straps that hold pant legs slim against the leg (typically used by cyclists).  Nathan makes a skinny high vis vest so that you can be seen without overheating.

Ragnar Relay makes you wear high vis when running at night.  I finished at sunrise.

ID bracelet- This bracelet is a must for anyone who exercises on their own. A reflective canvas strap holds a piece of paper that has your essential details- date of birth, allergies, emergency contact info, and anything else you feel is pertinent.  That way, if you are found unconscious, you will be cared for properly.  You can also laminate a small card and keep it in your wallet or pocket for easy access.

Reflectors/lights on shoes and zips- Hi-vis accessories and small flashing lights are a good way in increase your visibility.  I keep some in my workout bag in case I unexpectedly am out after dark.  Velcro reflective strips are light to carry and work well around your ankle or wrists.  You can also loop them easily around ruck sacks or on your jacket.  Small flashing lights can go on your zipper pull or shoelaces so that you won’t forget them.  Check out my post highlighting a few different types of lights that I wear.  I have been know to sport a head torch as well!


This jacket has reflective piping along the zipper.
Be mindful of layers- Layers are important in the winter to maintain proper body temperature.  You don’t want to overheat or be too cold.  When selecting your outfit, you will need to have light coloured clothes as base layers in case you remove your outwear.  Always think about what outfit you may end up in at the end of your run and if it will still be dark out.

This white down jacket is perfect for running in winter as it stuffs down small.
Does it snow where  you live? If so, a white top may camouflage you.  Fog or mist? Again, white or grey might not be the best colour choice. Think about your environment and aim to clash!  Bright colours are great, as well as flashing lights and reflective material.

These are just a few ways you can ensure you are seen when exercising in the winter months before or after work.  Stay safe and keep hitting the pavements on foot or on your bike.  You can’t be too bright in your outfit choice or too lit up (go on and put Christmas trees to shame).  The other people on the road will be grateful they can see you and avoid near collisions.

This post contains affiliate links which cost the buyer nothing additional but helps maintain this blog.

Read my e-book and train with me in 2019

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

My book is now available on Amazon.

I am thrilled to say that my first book, 52 Weekend Challenges: Cultivating Health & Happiness, is now available for purchase Amazon.  I actually started it in 2013, but my fear of technology and fear of failing held me back from completing it.  This year, I decided to finally commit and, with the help of my friends and family, couldn't be happier with the result.

If you are as excited as I am, click here to buy the book in the UK or here for the USA.  Otherwise, check you local Amazon site as it is available in several countries, both as an e-book or paperback.

What is the book about? 
The book provides weekend challenges, designed to nudge you outside your comfort zone in a range of areas (fitness, food, health and well-being).  You only need to use the book three days a week, which makes it very achievable.  Hopefully, as you progress through the year, you will want to start incorporating the things you have learned into your every day life.  Challenges range from trying a new food to checking your blood pressure to stretching to setting SMART goals.



Can I get a paper copy rather than electronic version?
Yes, paperbacks are now available!  Turns out colour printing is very expensive though for print-on-demand.  Thanks for understanding.

What if I need more support?
First, there is a closed Facebook group which you can ask to join after purchasing the book.  We are building a community to support each other as we spend a year going through the book, using #Challenge52 to find each other on social media.

Another option is my virtual training group (VTG).  This is limited to ten people and begins with a 15 minute consultation call with myself.  The group then emails each other once a week to report on the three SMART goals we set at the start. It runs for nine weeks (one week for goal setting, followed by eight weeks of accountability) and is a £75 investment.  Each week you receive a newsletter that includes healthy recipes, relevant wellness news, and motivational graphics to hang around the home. The next session starts 14 January 2019.  Click here to sign up.  You will need email access for this support group.

The third option is one-to-one digital coaching via an app.  We can work together no matter where in the world you live, as long as you have Smartphone and internet access.   I can monitor your activities, sleep, food intake, and holistic goals from anywhere in the world.  I will cheer you on to get you across your finish line, whatever it may be.  This service is perfect for busy people who don't have time to hire a personal trainer.

The investment is £65-85 per month depending on how much interaction we have via the app.  Accountability can make all the difference when you are debating about whether to skip your workout.


Free beginner's run club in London
Wednesday mornings at 7am (yes, I know it is early it ensures everyone has time to travel and shower before work starts at 9am), I lead a run club from St Pancras station area.  We have up to 60 minutes to run 5K along the towpath, primarily away from the roads.  We run at a social pace and have a very friendly group.  It is lovely being near the water and a great way to start your day.  It is organized through MyCrew, a new app that allows you to lead and/or join runs near by.  Sign up for MyCrew here and then register for my runs. 

Train with me in Central London
I am available for 1-2-1 client sessions in your home or outdoors.  You can fill out this form to book a complimentary consultation consultation where we can discuss your goals and how I can help.  Rates vary depending on location.  Sixty minute sessions start at £65.



I wish all the happiness and joy for you in 2019.  If you need my help to achieve this, please get in touch with the form below.  

Product review: Wonderbag

Monday, December 31, 2018

Saving the Earth was a big concern of mine growing up.  I wanted to recycle everything and always turned the lights off.  '50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save the Earth' was a favourite book of mine.  Much to my mother's dismay, I even brought backing recycling from my university to home (a 6 hour drive away. I also brought a lot of laundry).

Reducing my impact on earth and it's resources has continued to be important thread in my life.  I have carried a reusable water bottle since uni and try to cycle or carpool when I can.  Living with a Brit, I even got in the habit of hanging our laundry out to dry in the summer time in Michigan (we have no choice now as very few people in the UK have a dryer).

When I saw the opportunity to review the Wonderbag,I was intrigued.  Firstly, because it can heat the pot for up to eight hours without electricity and secondly because it helps to empower women in third world countries.  I was pretty much sold on both of those factors but want d to try it out myself.

Wonderbag in action
The Wonderbag was developed by Sarah Collins with inspiration from her childhood in South Africa.  Frequent blackouts meant her family would use couch cushions to keep meals warm.  Years later, Collins invented the Wonderbag.  Its foam stuffing allows food brought on a boil by conventional means to continue to cook for for up to 12 hours.  The impact of this means women spend less time foraging for firewood and less time cooking over open flames.  The smoke from these flames can be toxic and severely impact their heath.

We don't have room for a slow cooker (or "Crock Pot" as we call it in the USA) because we have a small flat.  My husband loves to cook anything that requires only one pot, so he is missing out on a lot of cooking opportunities.  We have a few batch cooking staples, such as veggie chili and a chicken dish from Well Fed 2.  I figured since I was trying out the Wonderbag, I might as well try out a new recipe and share it with out with you.

Not sure this is going to fit.
After looking on the internet for inspiration, I decided on a slow cooked pork with Italian seasoning. We don't really eat ham or pork and thought it would be a nice change from chicken.  I bought the smallest pork roast I could find at the shop and got to work.

Seasoning and garlic. This will be yummy!
I made three mistakes when preparing this meal.  First, my pork roast was too big for the pot, which meant the lid did not seal all the way.  This affected how long the food needed to cook for on the stove top and how involved I needed to be.  Second, the only pot that the roast fit in and itself fit in the Wonderbag had a handle on it.  This will affect the efficiency the Wonderbag insulation has.  I firmly believe that these two errors impacted my cooking experience.

To prepare the pork, I dried it off with a paper towel and then tried to slice the top in several places to create pockets for sliced garlic.  My roast was about two kilos and I used three large garlic cloves.

Roast prepped with seasoning

My seasoning was one teaspoon of dried basil, oregano and thyme mixed with half teaspoon salt and half teaspoon pepper.  I mixed this combo in a small bowl and then rubbed all over the pork.  You can use any seasoning combination you like to create flavour you will enjoy.

Lid ajar means the cooking is less efficient.
Once seasoned, I put the entire roast into a saucepan with lid and cooked for 20 minutes on medium heat.  As I saw the lid was slightly ajar, I decided to cook it for another 20 minutes.  The Wonderbag recommends having a meat thermometer handy to see if meat is heated through.   This was my third mistake because we don't have one.

Tea towels lining the Wonderbag
After 40 minutes on the stove top, I put the pot in the Wonderbag, which I had lined with a few towels to avoid the inside of the bag from melting.  I weighed the lid down with a kilo of salt to hopefully keep the heat in. Then I took the dog out for a walk.  Two hours later, I checked the pot and it was still warm so I left it for another hour.  After that, I took the meat out and cut it down the middle with a bread knife.  The inside was still a bit pink (again, no meat thermometer), so I returned the roast to the pot and cooked for another 20 minutes, holding the lid down for the last ten minutes (the lid still wouldn't close).

Nearly cooked all the way through.
By this point, the inside looked cooked, so I sliced myself a piece and left the rest in the pot with lid on and heat source off.  Once I finished my dinner (it was super yummy!), I carved up the rest.  Half went into the fridge and half into the freezer.  I decanted the juice from the pot into a small Tupperware to use as gravy.  There wasn't much though.  My husband used it all for one serving (I didn't mind as I am not a fan of gravy).  If you like gravy, you might want to make some additional gravy.

It was delicious!
A week later, we defrosted the frozen pieces.  They looked pink when frozen but were grey by the time they were room temperature.  Overall I am pleased with how my experiment went given I was missing several keys items (a pot without handle and a meat thermometer).  I am definitely going to get a proper pot for using the Wonderbag but am not sure if a meat thermometer will get much use.  The Wonderbag will be perfect for making chili and stews this winter, and maybe even mulled for long winter walks and when we host a big dinner party (when we get a bigger flat).

If you have any ideas on what we should cook with the Wonderbag next, please let me know in the comments below.

Served with a side of sweet potato.
Thanks to Wonderbag for the complimentary bag to put to the test.  All opinions are honest and my own.  Please note that this post includes affiliate links which cost the buyer nothing additional but help support the running of this site..

Merry Christmas 2018