Interview with the Dietitian

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Picture a busy train station in the Big Smoke on Leap Day. It is rush hour and two people brought together by social media meet face to face. Nichola Whitehead and I found each other on Twitter a few weeks ago. We have been in communication via email, setting up guest posts for each other’s websites. She is a registered dietitian working for the NHS near Leeds and founder of When we finally meet, I take the opportunity to ask my fellow entrepreneur a few questions.

Mollie (MM): Where does your passion for food come from?
Nic (NW): Growing up, I had bad skin and so began researching foods that could to help control it. My parents aren’t big into cooking, but a Gillian McKeith appearance on TV inspired me *shameful face*. I strongly believe in the power of food to treat and prevent disease.

MM: Don’t worry, I wanted to be a marine biologist because of ‘Jaws 3. Did you always want to be a dietitian?
NW: No, not at all! I started at Loughborough University reading Sport & Exercise Science and in year 2 decided that my passion lay in nutrition (in particular sports nutrition). I never thought about working in a clinical setting but am really enjoying working in the NHS I feel it provides a fantastic learning platform. You need basic clinical knowledge to give tailored advice to clients.

MM: You are quite slender. Do you exercise?
NW: I did gain a stone at uni and it took me a year to take it off. Now I do a ‘toning’ fitness dvd 1-2 times per week and a 20 minute run or cardio dvd once a week. So 1-3 times per week I exercise. I mostly watch what I eat and try to keep active in my day-to-day life.

MM: What are the misconceptions about food that bother you the most?
NW: That some foods are good and some foods are bad! It isn’t about evil-izing food. If you eat the right amounts of the right foods and don’t ban yourself from foods you love, you will be fine.

MM: If you could have someone take one thing away from your website, what would that be?
NW: That people should enjoy their food and see it as a tool that can improve their health. The key is the 80:20 rule - be good 80% of the time and indulge 20%. With that rule you can keep slim for life.

MM: I love that rule! I have to limit myself to less than 200 calories from chocolate a day.
NW: Oh! Well that is good to limit it.

MM: Well usually it ends up being 106 calories, with a snack-sized Kit Kat. What go-to snacks to recommend people to keep on hand?
NW: That sounds like a well portioned treat to have! I like to encourage fresh and dried fruit, oat cakes, hummus and carrot sticks and olives.

MM: What do you snack on?
NW: Ermmm, fresh and dried fruit, oat cakes, hummus & carrot sticks, olives, (and erm the odd biscuit, chocolate and flapjack!!).

MM: Are carbs really that bad?
NW: No, carbs are wonderful! We should have carbs (preferably whole grains) at every meal to provide energy for work and play.

MM: What is the one thing you would recommend to people to change in their diet that would have a big impact?
NW: I would say that everyone should have regular meals to avoid the body going into starvation mode. Regular meals are so important to maintain a good metabolism and are key to healthy eating and weight loss.

MM: What are your hopes and goals for Nic’s
NW: I just want to spread the word that good nutrition is achievable and can offer fantastic health benefits!

MM: You mentioned you have a boyfriend. Did you propose today?
NW: NO! That’s a boy’s job ;)

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Please note that I had added a new tab featuring my Upcoming Events. Please have a look if you would like to join my team for a 5K race in London on Sunday 25th March or Sunday 27th May.

If you want to be on the PT Mollie team, fill out the form below once you have registered for the race. I will be sending out training tips and other info leading up to the big day.

Hope to see you soon!

Guest Post: Practice Gratitude with Pranayama (breath work)

Monday, February 27, 2012

On this site, I want people to feel comfortable and safe sharing their struggles and achievements. Please note Kirbay's story is very personal. I thank her for allowing her story to be told here.

I am a yoga student and teacher in Lansing, Michigan, USA. My practice began the moment my mom delivered me and granted me to the opportunity to share in my first breath on this planet. Yoga is a holistic practice that encompasses 8 limbs. The 8 limbs provide a structural framework for practice. Many of us are familiar with the limb entitled, asana, or translated to “physical postures.” The postures are made possible through the synchronicity of breath alongside movement. We learn that through slowing down the many thoughts that keep us distracted from the present moment, we can focus on the breath and move with ease. The body and breath are no longer separate; they create a uniformity and ease to move from posture to posture with grace. The limb of “Pranayama” translates to breath work. Through focus on the breath, we can calm the mind and in turn calm the emotional and physical body.

Rewind to why I began my practice. I was 15 and struggling with depression and anxiety. Asked to go on meds and seek help from therapists, I became more anxious and more depressed. As I went to work with my parents one day, we drove past a business that was opening called "Hilltop Yoga-Power Yoga.” I had no idea what yoga was at the time. I decided to go in and check out a class with my friend Emily. The studio was lit with candles, the instructor greeted us with a calm and soothing voice and the ambience immediately calmed my frazzled mind and anxious spirit. Our first class was a sweat-pouring venture that transformed my yoga mat into a slip and slide!

I now understand that the deeply core-focused practice was literally “ringing” out my emotional anxiety and depression. I was asked to set an intention and if my mind drifted from my intention, I would come back to my breath and find focus and clarity. It takes time to develop a physical practice as demanding as the first class I attended. Always look into the level of class, before going. I did not, and I still remember it to this day! I continued practicing at Hilltop Yoga and what I found most transformational, and still find most transformational is the deep focusing power of the breath. It clears and focuses the mind and brings us into ourselves when the outside world seems so chaotic. We look for safety inside of ourselves, because we trust that we can create a safe space inside of ourselves. Fast forward to 2012, I now teach at that studio that literally rang sweat out of my body back in 2004.

On Sunday March 4th, I will be speaking at a workshop entitled “Strength and Grace through Struggle.” Taking place at Hilltop Yoga (Old Town Studio. $30 in advance/$40 the day of. Pre-registration required), I will discuss how the power of the pranayama, the breath, has helped me focus on the present moment and has helped keep me safe in my own body, mind and spirit through internal awareness. I will discuss my experience with having been raped at the age of 4 and abused for 3 years and how yoga literally saved my life. The breath is an extremely powerful tool to draw us into the present moment and find clarity in the midst of mental, emotional and physical chaos. Whether running a marathon and looking to the breath as a guide to help you with proper form to practicing yoga safely to bring your mind to ease, the breath should never be taken for granted. Take a moment, pause, feel your heart beat, come into your breath, be grateful :) I know I am.


Kirbay Preuss has a 500 RYT from Hilltop Yoga in Lansing, Michigan, USA. She also completed a Maya Yoga Certification in October of 2009 on the island of Maui, Hawaii, USA. When she is not doing yoga, Kirbay is working at her family's business or attending class. Kirbay is also completing her Bachelors in Community Services-Family Systems.

Weekend Challenge- Stairway to Heaven

Friday, February 24, 2012

It is Friday and time for your weekend challenge. I would like you to take the stairs from the moment you read this until Sunday midnight.

Yes. Really.

You don't have to go fast. You can take a rest if you truly need to. Just take the stairs.

Even if you live on the top floor of your building... (put your groceries in the lift and meet it on your floor)
Even if you are on the Jubilee Line... (if you cannot find steps, WALK up the left side of the escalator)
Even if you are with small children... (make it a game to engage them in being healthy too)

You have been blessed with the ability to move around easily. The reason you come to this site is because you want to become healthier and fitter. Climbing the stairs will help make your heart and lungs stronger. It may also take your breath away, but that should improve with time if you keep up this challenge beyond the weekend. It is greener too. The only energy you are expending is your own.

If you already always take the stairs, make it more difficult but taking them 2 at a time or hopping up one step at a time. Do be careful with both of these suggestions and try not to hurt yourself please.

For extra fun, count every step you take this weekend and let me know your total! Good luck!

Product Review: Green People Shampoo and Conditioner

Thursday, February 23, 2012

For those who don’t know me well, I have a skin allergy to quaternium-15 and other formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. It is unclear exactly how this developed but it is a sensitizing allergy, which means it becomes worse with continued exposure. My symptoms are tiny fluid-filled blisters on my hands and under my nails that itch like mad and sometimes leave open wounds or cause my nails to loosen (sorry to be graphic). ‘How hard can it be to avoid formaldehyde?’ you may be asking yourself. I will tell you- very. Most liquid soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, sunscreens, makeup, paint, etc. carry ingredients I need to avoid, such as:

• Imidazolidinyl urea (Germall®)
• Diazolidinyl urea (Germall II®)
• DMDM hydantoin (Glydant®)
• Bromonitropropane diol (Bronopol™)
• Tris (hydroxymethyl) nitromethane (Tris Nitro®)

Awesome, right? I can’t even use soap in public bathrooms (don’t fret I carry hand sanitizer) or get manicures anymore. This is why I was thrilled to discover the Green People (GP) brand in a shop in Greenwich, UK called So Organic. At the time, I was on the hunt for an under eye cream that didn’t contain nasty chemicals. Luckily, GP had the answer in a little white tube. I have been using GP’s Eye Cream Soothing Nourishing Night Treat for a few months now to help fight the over-30 laughter lines around my eyes. If I am brave enough, one day I will post my before and after photos.

Shampoo and conditioner are bathroom staples that I have trouble finding. I can’t just walk into a store and pick something off the shelf. My allergist in the USA recommended a certain brand of shampoo, which I had to order online for a hefty price. The brand I was using left my hair too greasy and looking straggly (think Riff Raff in RHPS and Jay of Jay and Silent Bob). Since moving to the UK, I have had to bring it back a few bottles at a time in my suitcase.

Greta at GP replied positively to my email asking for samples of products to try and quickly sent GP’s Intensive Repair Shampoo and Conditioner to me. The Intensive Repair Shampoo is for coloured/treated hair (Mine has been coloured since I was 18, blown dry at least every other day and nearly always back in a pony tail. It needed some TLC). I immediately jumped in the shower after receiving Greta’s parcel. GP has kept its packaging consistent with modern, clean white tubes with simple text. The shampoo and conditioner tubes open at the bottom, which ensures every last bit will be used. I experienced water accumulating in the lid so I moved it away from the shower head. Even though there is no sodium lauryl sulfate (which causes foaming, making you think your hair is getting clean), my shampoo instantly lathered (old brand did not). For my fine shoulder length hair, I only need about a dime/5p coin-sized dollop to work its magic. It does say on the bottle ‘a little goes a long way!’ The smell is lovely too- green tea and aloe vera are listed on the packaging and have a subtle presence. I was equally impressed with the conditioner. Following the directions, I left it on for a minute and rinsed thoroughly.

One blown dry, my hair was soft and smooth. I purposely didn’t use my leave-in conditioner so I could get a feel for the product. My hair felt and looked just as good on Day 2 (I try to only wash my hair every other day. My grandma says it is better for your hair and I agree). I used the product all week and was continually amazed. I highly recommend Green People’s Intensive Repair shampoo and conditioner, even though it is a tad more expensive that shampoo in the grocery store. But, as the packaging says, a little goes a long way so the 200 ml/6.8 floz bottle should last you a while. Green People takes pride in the quality of their ingredients over high street brands, meaning you get what you pay for. My only question is- when will a matching leave-in conditioner be released?

Green People was started by a caring mom, Charlotte Vøhtz, in 1994, after her 2 year old daughter suffered from eczema and severe skin allergies. She has committed to never use chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Parabens or synthetic fragrances or colourants in her products. The Soil Association, Organic Food Federation and EcoCert were able to certify the Green People products as organic.

Green People did not pay me for this review. They graciously sent me the product and all opinions are honest and my own. If you have a product you would like me to review, please contact me

Healthier Banana Bread Recipe

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I am basing this on the Better Homes and Garden's Banana Bread Recipe. I added course bran and substituted the sugar for natural sweeteners (agave nectar or honey). I would include a photo but we have demolished the loaf from last weekend. On Sunday I will spend some time in the kitchen and figure out the UK measurements for my UK-based readers.

Updated with photos on 26 February. Yummmm!

*Note if you make 2 loaves- wrap one up and freeze for a later date. No need to waste or overeat!*

1 ½ cups/215g whole wheat (whole meal) flour
¼ cup/15g course bran
1 ½ teaspoons/7g baking powder
¼ teaspoon/2g baking soda
1/8 teaspoon/<1g salt
¼ teaspoon/<1g ground cinnamon (use more or less to taste)
1 egg
3 mashed medium-sized bananas (freeze fresh or brown ones for perfect mushiness)
½ cup/125ml agave nectar or honey
1/8 cup/30ml canola oil
½ cup chopped nuts, blueberries, or chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (~175°C).
2. Grease bottom and sides of 9x5x3 inch pan ortwo7.5x3.5x2 inch pans.
3. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Push to the sides of bowl leaving a space in the middle.
4. Mash bananas in a medium bowl.
5. Mix in egg, agave nectar/honey and oil.
6. Add wet mixture into dry bowl. Stir until flour is just moistened. It will be lumpy- don’t worry!
7. Fold in nuts, blueberries, chocolate chips or anything else you fancy.
8. Bake for 55-50 min for 9x5x3 inch pan or 40-45 minutes for 7.5x3.5x2 inch pan. Note that the less oil the less time it will take to cook. If your batter is thick when you put it in the pan, you may need to cook for less time.
9. It is cooked fully when you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean (no mixture on it).
10. Cool for 10 minutes in pan.
11. Remove from pan and continue to cool.
12. Enjoy!

If you aren't already tempted, here is a photo of the dry mix:

The banana mix just before adding to the dry bowl:

I split the batter and made one loaf with chopped walnuts and one with chocolate chips:

Popped the pans in the oven:

And voilà!

Send me a photo of you loaf and let me know if you added anything special to it.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Motivating yourself for a run

Monday, February 20, 2012

I don't know where I would be if it weren't for running. I get so much out of it and it is just heavenly to escape from the twins for an hour! It is the only time I ever have to myself and I treasure it. When I get moody and irritable and stuff doesn't seem to be working out as it should it is almost always because I am not running regularly. I don't run very fast or for very long, about 4-5miles over an hour 3 times a week. I don't time myself or try to speed up, I just go at roughly the same pace covering the same ground each time so that the run is second nature to me and I am able to focus on other things. I think about all sorts of things whilst running and I often come up with my best creative ideas and I have to write them down immediately when I get home before they evaporate!

Whilst I love what running does for me I can't honestly say that I enjoy going for a run and like everyone else, motivating myself to get out of the door sometimes feels impossible, especially during the winter, but I get myself out there each time by reminding myself of why I run, by telling myself that every time I run, I win. When necessary, I tune into my inner voice - the Grit Doctor - to bully me into it when I really don't feel like going. If I can squeeze in a run on a Sunday morning before a roast dinner I know I will enjoy the food all the more and if I don't go for that run, the Grit Doctor will be sure to get in my face when I help myself to another roast potato!

So, motivating yourself is hard but one of the problems is that we have a tendency to overthink it. Accepting that motivation will often be absent and going anyway is a good philosophy. Don't expect to want to do it. Do it anyway.

Ruth Field aka The Grit Doctor is a criminal barrister and writer who lives in North London with her husband and twin sons. Her new book, Run, Fat B!tch, Run is out in stores now. We are giving away a copy of Ruth's book! Here you will find more motivational tips for running and enjoy a good laugh. To enter, post a comment below on what motivates you to exercise. For a bonus entry, tweet or facebook: "I just entered to win @gritdoctor book Run Fat B!tch Run, courtesy of @PtMollie." Contest ends March 19th 2012. Winner will be chosen at random using and contacted through profile below or on Twitter or Facebook. Email me if you don't have accounts on any of these platforms.

Weekend Challenge- Musical Motivation

Friday, February 17, 2012

Today's weekend challenge is fairly easy. Let's make a motivation play list! Leave a comment below with a song that helps you push through when you are just about to quit. Any genre, any time, just something that speaks to you.

My vote- Get on Your Boots by U2.

If you would like something a little more physical, give me 10 push ups every time you check Facebook and Twitter this weekend (Friday-Sunday). This includes mobile apps! Feel free to keep track and do them in bunches or with each login.

Looking forward to hearing what you are listening to!

PT Mollie T-Shirts Have Arrived!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I am so excited to be working with Run Rabbit Apparel to produce these amazing PT Mollie t-shirts. Perfect for working out, lounging around, and looking ultra-cool as you cross that finish line.

The white t-shirts are made from technical, moisture-wicking material. The printing is sublimation (a higher quality of printing) which means that the design will be permanently inked into the fabric (as opposed to the normal plastisol screen printing which sits on top of the fabric).

Shirts are £15/$22.50 with shipping included. Sizing is below. Email me to place your order and arrange payment:

S: 38" chest
M: 41" chest
L: 43.5" chest
XL: 46" chest

XS: 32" chest
S: 34.5" chest
M: 37" chest
L: 38.5" chest

*Please note that shirts will have my updated email address*

Guest Post: Access Bars™

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Access Bars™ is a gentle touch energy therapy that at its best can change your life, at its worst it will feel like an amazing massage. That’s one of the tag lines used to describe this gentle touch therapy. About two years ago during one of our regular sessions my acupuncturist said to me, “Hey, want to try some new weird stuff I’ve been doing?” Of course I said yes! And right away I was hooked on the Access Bars™. I was one of those whose whole life has changed.

Having your “bars run” releases stored up energy in points on your head that correlate to certain areas of your life - like healing, aging, and even money. By touching these points we can begin to 'erase the hard drive' and have more space to create what we truly desire in these areas of our lives. This therapy can provide relief from depression and anxiety. People who have their bars run improve their sleep, their metabolism, and even their relationships with friends and family. Another ‘side effect’ is a healthier relationship with your body. You may have more joy, appreciation, and desire more movement without some of the energetic garbage limiting what your body can do. Below I describe what a session receiving bars is like, and also list some reasons to take the full one day class.

What is a session like?
Well, you get comfy-cozy on a massage table, fully clothed (people who don’t feel comfortable receiving massage or have never had bodywork before will like this). Then the practitioner begins the session by gently touching points on your head. They will stay on each point for awhile before moving onto the next. Deep relaxation, deep sleep is very common! Also it’s a time for your body and your mind to truly quiet and let go of all the tension it’s been holding onto – this could be difficult for some of us that are used to holding everything in, to simply lie there and receive. However, whether you are twitchy, sleepy, or not feeling anything – the energy is running and working. A session can be anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.

What is an all day Access Bars™ class like?
1. So much fun! Laughter is guaranteed.
2. Relaxing – Learning how to run the bars on others is a very easy relaxing process. You don’t have to have any prior knowledge of working with energy or bodywork.
3. Receiving - You get to receive. Being fully open to receiving is not something that comes naturally to us, we’ve been taught to protect and guard ourselves. What if just by lowering that barrier we could find total ease in our bodies and lives?
4. Energetically clear all the junk that’s not yours and all the judgments and limitation that’s been stopping you from living your best life.
5. Just by taking this one class you become a certified practitioner and can begin sharing Access Bars™ with others – friends, family, clients.
6. See numbers 1—5.

Access Bars™ has changed my life. I have that better relationship with my body, I’ve slept better than I ever have, and am more aware and open to new possibilities for my life. It has also changed my massage practice. It’s helped me connect with my clients in a different way; my awareness of what’s actually going on in their body has increased and that allows for greater ease in facilitating the desired change. Bars + bodywork = even more healing!

Access Consciousness was founded over 20 years ago by Gary Douglas. Its target, through Access Bars™ and other class offerings, is to empower people to know that they know. Gary discovered the bars because he began asking questions – his life wasn’t working for him anymore and he became opening to receiving awareness about a new way of being in this reality that would actually work. Now Gary has shared this knowledge worldwide. Access Consciousness is available in over 25 countries.
It’s not a cure, it’s not an answer. It’s just another possibility, another tool to have to live your life with ease, joy, and glory. Ask a question and see what adding bars to your life might be like!

To find out more, to find a practitioner near you, or take an Access Bars™ class click here.

Special Class at Nourished Health Center in Denver
Saturday, February 18th 10AM-6PM
What could be better than an all day Access Bars™ class? Adding yoga! Sarah Wolfgram, ERYT, founder of Carving Space Yoga, will lead us through a restorative yoga class! You will be guided through a series of supine postures, supported by blankets and bolsters to unwind, nourish, renew and restore in a practice of intentional relaxation and guided meditation. All props are provided.

Please register here:

Bonnie St. John is a Registered Massage Therapist, Certified Bars™ Facilitator, and Registered Yoga Teacher. She specializes in deep tissue and myofascial bodywork, finding the best results for her clients by adding the Access™ Energy work. She uses her awareness of the body to guide her yoga students through safe and challenging classes. Ultimately connecting to each client and student, allowing them to go further within themselves, to discover something new and true about their being and body.

I Am A Champion!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

AMAZING video to motivate you, push you, and inspire you to a strong finish. I cannot thank Run Dem Crew enough for bringing this to my attention.

Resist Temptation

Happy Valentine's Day! A day to celebrate the ones you love and have lots of goodies in the office. Maintaining a healthy diet is all about balance. You need to behave at least 80% of the time to allow for the times you slip. Having a little wiggle room also let's you indulge in a portion-controlled treat.

But if you are like me and can't pass p free food or chocolate, here are a few tips to help you remain in control today.

1. Write down everything you eat today. You may not realize that every time you go to the copier you are picking up a cookie along the way. Writing a list of what and how much you eat will help you be conscious of your food intake of the good and bad.

2. Have a piece of fruit first. Fruit is naturally sweet and might satiate your craving. Plus you need at least 5 servings of fruit and veggies a day. If you are still 'hungry' after the fruit, have a small treat.

3. Occupy your hands. This might be tricky in the office, but at home you can knit, paint your nails, clean the bathroom, or play patty cake with your kids. You might distract yourself and allow the craving to pass. (I will feature another post on cravings in the future) At work you can type up an email you have been meaning to send, do push ups against your desk or the wall, or take a 10 minute walk outside.

4. Drink a glass of water. Similar to eating a piece of fruit, this technique helps fulfill your requirement of 64 oz of water a day, plus leaves you filling a little fuller. Sometimes when our body tells us we are hungry, it really is saying we are dehydrated.

5. Have a solid comeback. If your office mates are trying to peer pressure you into eating another candy bar, blame it on me. Say "My personal trainer will be disappointed if I eat two candy bars today" or "I am working towards a goal of living a healthier lifestyle so I am going to pass, thanks" or "Maybe later." Then stick to your guns!

6. Bring in a healthy option to share. Take the lead by bringing in fruit salad, trail mix, granola bars, yogurt parfaits as a healthy alternative for your office mates. They will probably be grateful!

Do you have any other tips on how to control food consumption at holiday time at work?

Image courtesy of

Smoothie Recipe

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Smoothies are an easy, satisfying snack we have frequently in my house. In the summer, we serve 'em up (with a little whey protein thrown in) after workouts. Today I made them because I saw one at the mall and developed a craving. Since making my own, I never order them while out. I can taste the difference with the sugary, syrupy mix. Here is how I make them:

You will need: frozen banana (freeze brown bananas for banana bread and smoothies rather than throw away), frozen berries (you can get mixes in the freezer section of your local grocery store), low-fat yogurt, orange juice, honey or agave nectar, and a blender

1. Leave frozen banana out for a few minutes to thaw slightly. By using frozen fruit, you won't need to add ice.
2. Add 1/2 cup of low-fat yogurt (any flavor you like) and 1/2 cup of frozen berries (can be any fruit, even avocado) to blender.
3. Cut banana into smaller chunks and add to blender.
4. Add a splash of orange juice. The more OJ you add, the thinner the smoothie will be.
5. If using plain yogurt, I like to add honey or agave nectar as a natural sweetener.
6. You can also add flaxseed/linseed, protein, or other supplements to add additional nutritional value.
7. Blend. You may need to stir the mix with a spatula in an air pocket develops in the bottom of the blender.
8. Serve with a straw.

Of course, you should experiment with fruit, yogurt, and juice flavors to find a combination you like. Enjoy!

Weekend Challenge

Friday, February 10, 2012

Image courtesy of

Try to do this workout Friday, Saturday and Sunday at least 1x through. If it is easy, go through it again and count your repetitions each time. Good luck and let me know how you do! Remember my motto of "quality over quantity." I'd rather have you keep good form and do each exercise slowly. If you notice your form is compromised, take a break.

Quickie workout with 1 minute intervals of:
-Star jumps/jumping jacks
-Squats- stick bum out and keep knees behind toes
-Push ups - can be on your knees, against the wall, etc.
-Crunches- look at the ceiling above and behind you to keep from pulling with chin or hold tennis ball under your chin
-Plank- keep your shoulders over elbows and head/back/hips in alignment
-Leg lifts- keep lower back on floor by not lowering legs too low
-Supermans- you don't need to lift your arms and legs very high off of the ground, just a little bit
-Lunges- think of dropping your back knee almost to the ground rather than pushing forward. Keep knee behind toes.

4 Standing Ab Exercises

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I just stumbled upon this article from Women's Health which gives written and pictorial directions for 4 abdominal exercises. These are great for work or waiting for the bus stop as you don't need any equipment. If you find them easy, hold a weight (if a weight isn't handy, use your water bottle, a can of soup, your backpack, etc) or do more repetitions. Use these exercises to re-energize at 3pm when you normally head to the snack machine.

I would like to add a good belly laugh, hula-hooping, and kick boxing hooks and crosses as other good standing abdominal exercises.

Remember you want to balance your abs and lower back. The next time you lay down for abdominal exercises, add in a few sets of Supermans.

** Please do not try this if you have a weak/bad back or recent back injury **

To perform a Superman:
1. Lay face down on a mat or floor with arms extended over the head.
2. Raise opposite arm and opposite leg. This doesn't need to be very high off the ground, just enough to feel the muscles in lower back contract.
3. Count to 3. Lower.
4. Repeat on other side.
5. Once you feel strong enough, try lifting all 4 limbs at once remembering the limbs don't have to be very high off the ground for this exercise to be effective.

Let the Sun Shine

Monday, February 6, 2012

Photo courtesy of:

Keeping away the winter blues is hard for those who lives in high latitudes or places with lots snow and clouds (like Ithaca, NY or as I am finding out, London). Exercise can help you relieve stress and increase energy levels, but when you go to work and it is dark out, and when you come home it is still dark out, motivation can be lacking.

Sunshine is important as is provides you with vitamin D when absorbed by the skin
In this Guardian article,
Anna Robinson talks about taking supplements during the dark dreary winter months as more health concerns are being linked to Vitamin D deficiency. "Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with many diseases and health conditions including cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure." Wondering where you can get more vitamin D? Next time mom asks you what you want to drink with dinner, go for milk or select from the list provided by the NIH.

Seasonal Affect Disorder
is another problem for people who lack sunshine, particularly in winter. According to the SADA's website, common symptoms for SAD include:

* Depression
* Sleep Problems
* Lethargy
* Over Eating
* Loss of Concentration
* Social Problems
* Anxiety
* Loss of Libido
* Mood Changes

Light therapy (not in a tanning bed, but with special UV bulbs) and anti-depressant drugs are both ways to treat SAD until summer returns. If those aren't for you, take a break at work when the sun is out and go for a short walk. A short trip to a sunnier climate might do the trick too. Find a support network within your social circle to let them know how you are feeling. Maybe they are having a similar experience. Although exercise might not relieve all of your symptoms, try getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes (in at least 10 minute bouts if you don't have a solid half hour to spare). The release of endorphins will be a temporary mood lifter.

One more thing- too much sun can damage the skin so wear sunscreen. You might be asking does sunscreen interfere with vitamin D absorption? It is unclear according to this NYT article. As the article states, must people put on sunscreen wrong (read the directions on the bottle). Typically sunscreen should be applied 30-60 minutes before you go out in the sun. If you are one of those who dabs in on once the blanket and umbrella are set up on the beach, you will absorb some vitamin D before the sunscreen starts working. Remember that noon-2pm is when the sun is at its strongest and you can be exposed to sun rays even when it is cloudy.

Beginner Group Indoor Cycling – Tips for Success

Sunday, February 5, 2012

With the snow on the ground here in London, the morning run or ride is brisker and the sun is rising later than you. The winter is a great time to take advantage of your local fitness facility programs. As an athlete, you should try to change your workout routine every so often. Periodization offers new challenges to your body, which creates improved performance as well as prevents boredom. “Spinning®” or “group indoor cycling” (GIC) is a low-impact, high-cardio workout. If you enjoy a class that gets your heart pumping, GIC might be the class for you! GIC allows you to maintain your interval, distance, and/or sprint training without the dangers of running in the dark or slipping on ice.

As a beginner, there are a few simple steps to success. First, arrive to class about 10 minutes early and let your instructor know it is your first time. The instructor will be able to fit the bike to your height. The seat and handle bars can be moved up and down, tailoring the bike to your body. Bikes have markings making it easy to set up again at your next class without help. Second, bring water and a towel. You will probably sweat and become thirsty during class. Most instructors don’t mind if you need to step out of class for a drink or some air, but it is best to be prepared. Also, clothing is key. Longer shorts prevent chaffing and shoes with a firm sole are best. If GIC something you enjoy, consider investing in a pair of cycling shoes with SPD clips as they promote effort throughout the pedal stroke. Finally, be prepared to try GIC five times before you decide if you love it or hate it. Remember, if you don’t like the method of one instructor, there are many others out there that could be the right fit!

Go out and try a cycling class. Let me know what you think!

Weekend Challenge!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Do you wish there was more time in the day so you could get things done? Create more time by only watching 1 hour of tv on Friday, 1 hour on Saturday, and 1 hour on Sunday. For those planning on watching the Superbowl, no tv until Sunday!

Use this time to finish a book, go for a walk, play with the kids, hit the gym, do laundry, take a nap, etc.

What will you do with this free time?

Ellen vs Michelle Push Up Contest

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Watch this clip from the Ellen DeGeneres show! Here, First Lady Michelle Obama takes on comedian Ellen in a push up contest. The audience helps out by counting along.

Note their form.
Note their strength.
Note their age.

I think I will add 25 push ups by April 1 to my VTG goals! Does this clip motivate you?