Life after the #Whole30

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This is the final article in a 4 part series that started on Paleo Foodies about my experiences completing the #Whole30 after being a vegetarian for 25+ years.

Image courtesy of

Congratulations on making through the Whole30! You should be very proud of yourself.  You overcame bad habits, battles of will power, constant challenges from the haters and doubters and many hours of food prep and dish washing.  You made it to the end.  Now what?

You can keep it up- During days 25-30, I am sure you have given this a lot of thought. Most people are feeling good, have tiger’s blood running through their veins and have mastered meal planning and maybe even eating out. If you are finding it easy, you might consider keeping up the lifestyle (but with bacon).  Or perhaps you aren’t seeing the results you were hoping for and want to hang on a bit longer to see if things improve.  Either way, if you can keep on going- why not?  You are eating fresh healthy foods, avoiding sugar and added food chemicals, and probably sleeping better too.  Sounds like a winning combination to me.

Go back to your old ways- I am sure that during the first ten days of the Whole30 you were counting down the hours until ‘normal’ eating again.  Some people simply don’t enjoy the experience of detoxing and breaking the emotional food associations.  Or they don’t see the results they were looking for.  Or they experience a lot of resistance from friends and family so it just isn’t worth it.  Of course if you are encountering negative experiences you will just want it to be over as quick as possible.  Don’t count yourself short though and consider it a fail.  You tried something new that not many other people can say they have done. This trial was a major undertaking to better yourself and your health.  That doesn’t happen very often.

Try a combination of the two- This is what I have been experimenting with.  What is the right ratio for me of obliging vs ‘cheating’ (although I hate using that word).  My Whole30 ended the day before my wedding anniversary.  I took the day to eat a nice meal out with my husband and have a glass of wine.  Honestly, I was worried my body would rebel against eating foods that I had avoided for so long.  But after that day was over, I had to consider what was next for me?  My husband wasn’t keen on eating meat three times a day or even keeping meat in the house at all.  We tried a compromise of non-complaint vegetarian meals for dinner (when we eat together) and then I could do that I like for breakfast and lunch.  A friend was going to try this 60% compliance too.  We both found that this gray area was really a black hole that sucked all of your willpower away.  Why be good during the day when you were just going to eat whatever you liked in the evening?  For me, I need the clear list of rules to follow and stick to so there is no question over what I can put in my mouth.

Now what? I definitely want to get back on the Whole30 program.  My husband and I talked about it a few times a week.  I have offered to buy my own meat from the butcher at the end of our street.  Next time around, I want to plan out my meals farther in advance to reduce cooking time and allow my husband to decide when he will eat the same meals I am.  Hopefully the 2nd round will bring pain relief from my fasciitis and tendinitis as I was close to complete relief at the tail last time.  We think my body spent the first three weeks acclimating to eating meat so it couldn’t do much else.

Do you have any tips for starting up the Whole30 or trying paleo again after a break? How did you find it?

Quickie Workout #120

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm  up- 1 min- skipping rope;  1 min- hop-hop-squat; 1 min- walking squats
1 min-  Up and down plank. Start on elbows and then raise yourself up to your palms.  Then go back to elbows.
1 min-  Leg lifts
30 sec each direction-  Small arm circles
1 min-  Tricep kickbacks
1 min-  Reverse fly
1 min-  Role back and reach
1 min-  Hip raises
1 min-  Boat pose
1 min-  Swimmies
1 min-  Bear walking
1 min each leg-  On all 4's, perform 'fire hydrants' by lifting one leg with knee at 90 degrees.

Weekend Challenge

Friday, December 26, 2014

Weekend Challenges have been a staple of for a few years now.  I am happy to say that I am very proud of each and every one of your achievements during this time.  With 2015 right around the corner, I am working on developing the site a bit.

With this change, I have decided to retire the Weekend Challenge feature.  It is sad as I want you to keep growing and developing outside of your comfort zone.  On the other hand, I have a few things up my sleeve for the new year.

Your last challenge is twofold.  First, leave a comment below of your favorite weekend challenge and what you learned.  Second, choose one from the many already on the site and give it a try.

Keep trying new things in your pursuit of health and happiness.  If you keep doing when you have always done, you will get what you always have got.

How to keep paleo lifestyle cost effective

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

This is the 3rd article in a 4 part series about eating paleo and exploring the #Whole30.  The first 2 articles can be seen on Paleo Foodies.

Money is often a factor in preventing people from being healthy.  There is a stereotype that eating healthy is expensive and while this can be true at times, there are ways to work around it.  Paleo eating embraces eating local and buying meat from happy animals.  Supporting your local economy will make you feel good about yourself and the ‘happiness’ from the animals will come through in your cooking.

If you are considering trying a paleo lifestyle, don’t let the cost hold you back.  Here are a few tips and tricks to ease your budget into the change while filling up your pantry. 

1.       Plant a garden- If you can, grow your own fruit and vegetables.  You can’t get more local than your back yard.  Keep in in mind the planting season as some types of seeds can be started indoors before the weather changes outside.  Or look for local nursery that sells starter plants (such as tomatoes) that are about to flower.  Coordinate with your friends and neighbours so you can each grow something different and then share to keep the recipes interesting and tasty.

2.       Try the discount shops but be sure to read all the labels- In the UK, we have a shop called Iceland that is mostly frozen foods, tinned goods and a few fresh fruit and vegetables.  I was able to buy my coconut milk there for a fraction of the price of the grocery store.  They also have  plain frozen salmon fillets, frozen vegetables (which are always good to have on hand) and tins of beans Before you place anything in your basket, read the list of ingredients because you might not realize from the packaging if an off-limits preservative or seasoning was added.  If there are more than 5 ingredients or you can’t pronounce one, you should ut it back on the shelf.  You might have to compromise the shopping local with this tip, however once you are more accustomed to eating and shopping paleo, you can begin to fine tune your shopping.

3.       Make a lot. Then freeze it- Personally, I don’t mind eating the same thing every day for a week.  But that doesn’t go down well in my house.  To keep everyone happy , we tend to make a big batch of something (soup, chili, lemon garlic chicken) then divide up portions to put in the freezer. Label each container with the date and what is inside.  Remember when placing your food order you can’t freeze meat twice.

4.       Visit the local farmers’ or street market- These stands can be a treasure trove of affordable finds.  Often times you will need to use the ingredients right away as they will not have been treated with nasty chemicals (either while growing or for shipment) and won’t last as long as something from the shop.  Practice your bartering as some merchants will be willing to make a deal if you are buying a few things.  One additional tip would be to bring canvas bags or a shopping trolley to make transporting your buys a bit easier.

If you have any other tips on making paleo lifestyle affordable, let me know in the comments  below.

Quickie Workout #119

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm  up- 3 min  brisk walk, jog or run until you have started 'glowing' (sweating)
1 min-  Plank
1 min-  Reverse curl
1 min-  Push/Press ups
1 min-  Prisoner squats with 180 degree jump
1 min-  Tricep dips on a sturdy chair or low step
1 min-  Run in place with high knees
1 min-  Wall sit
1 min-  Plank
1 min-  Crunches
1 min-  Push/Press ups
1 min-  Low squats (go for quality over quantity)

Next virtual training group (VTG) starts 5th January- please join us

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It is that time of year again, where we start to think about the things we would like to change in the following year.  The 11th session of my virtual training group (VTG) is starting up on 5th January and could be instrumental in your success.  Read testimonials from previous participants here.


How does it work?

For 8 weeks, a group of people motivate and support each other over email.  At the start, each person sets 3 SMART goals. During the weekly check in, we let people know if we achieved our goals the week prior.

When will it run?
We start Week 0 on Monday 5th January, 2015.  Our last email check in will be on Monday 9th March.

How much does it cost?
It is only £10/person (via PayPal or bank transfer) for the 8+ weeks of coaching.  This is about $15 (depending on exchange rates).

What do I get?
You get individual coaching from me over email as we determine your SMART goals during Week 0.  Then I send out weekly updates that include recipes, health article links, and motivating quotes. Every week, 1-2 people will also share recipes and quotes to keep the group engaged.  We also have a VTG Facebook group, to which you will be lifetime member.

I don't know what I want to work on for these 8 weeks.
That isn't a problem.  This session, I will be working on eating paleo (focusing on meat, fruit, and
veg) and de-cluttering my house.  Maybe you would like to try these too? Other ideas are: drinking more water, taking part in Jantastic, unplugging for an hour a day, calling your best friend more often, or trying new foods.  The possibilities are endless!  As the 'Happiness Personal Trainer' I will encourage you to work on things that will make you happy (regardless of whether they are fitness or food related).

How many people can take part?
The group is limited to 12 people to make sure you receive ample individual attention.

Does it matter where I live?
Absolutely not!  The beauty of the VTG is that anyone in the world who has an email account can take part.  Alumni of the program are men and women from many countries and ages ranging from mid-20s to 60+. You simply need to want to make positive changes in your life to achieve health and happiness.

How do I sign up?  Or can I ask you more questions?
Send me an email ( to reserve your place today!  I am also happy to answer any questions that I may have missed here.

Update on training for #prague2015

Monday, December 15, 2014

Part of the Prague route. Might be a bottleneck?
It has been several weeks since I started my 25 week build up to Prague. I have booked flights and been granted annual leave to run and explore a new city. A Prague guide book is in my Christmas list (fingers crossed Mom!).  My midweek runs are going well so far even though it is dark and cold in the morning before work. With a heavy heart I had to stop bringing my dog, Oldland, with me; he has no interest. He is 11 years old and doesn't even pant at my pace yet I am still having to drag him along.  He prefers to sleep in and then go for a walk with me when I get back. (What a life!) I guess I would do,the same if I didn't have a goal to be working towards.

I really like that my plan has Fridays and Mondays as rest days. It breaks up my week. Some days, James works from home with Oldland so I can head out on a #runch in the sunshine. On Wednesday a few weeks ago, I headed out and had my best pace so far for this training program.  My body seemed to take 3 weeks to dust off the cobwebs and remember what the heck it was doing.  Usually I manage a 9 min/mile pace and am always chasing the elusive (for me) 8 min mile.  

For now, my plantar fasciitis (PF) is under control.  I diligently stretch after each run and have been taping my foot all day every day for additional support.  I am debating about investing in new running shoes this week (as I am back in America) to keep the foot support at an appropriate level during my training.  Although I don't like speed work, I was thinking about incorporating some into the plan in a few weeks time to increase my pace.  Even though my goal is to finish, I will always have a time to best in my head (5:30 seems doable, right?). This is depends on my body falling into pieces on the road to Prague.

But wait! There's more!

Recently, I found out my ballot was accepted for Berlin Marathon 2015. Thus race will be at the end of September 2015 and friends/fellow teammates from RODS Racing will be there! I even have a couple friends in America who are offering to come cheer me on.  Plus some fabulous London runners  are going to be there too (but I am sure they will be much faster than I).  This race will keep me focused through the summer as I will have to maintain a baseline level of fitness for Berlin.  As one of the fastest marathon courses in the world, I hope to achieve a PB on my 2nd marathon.

For now, I will distract myself on training runs planning sightseeing routes and what I will eat in a foreign land in the days leading up to race day.  I must abide by the 'nothing new on race day' rule to avoid any instance of runner's tummy on the course.

Have you ever traveled internationally for a competition? What would you recommend I see/do pore-and post- race?

Quickie Workout #118

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm  up- 1 min forward lunges; 1 min push/press ups; 1 min bicycle abs
1 min- Reverse lunges
1 min- Star jumps
1 min- Upright row with tins of soup or light weights
1 min- Lateral raises with tins of soup or light weights
1 min- Low squat with pulses
1 min- Low squat with pulses on your toes to target inner thigh. Breathe through it!
1 min- Bicep curls with tins of soup or light weights
1 min- Hands on sides of head. Bring opposite elbow to raised opposite knee. Keep alternating until the minute is up.  Aim quality until you are comfortable with the exercise, then increase speed.  Knees up!
1 min- Press up position on toes.  Bring opposite knee to opposite elbow.  Alternate.
1 min- Plank
1 min- Toe touches

Weekend Challenge

Friday, December 12, 2014

This weekend I would like you to donate your time. This can be by helping am elderly neighbor set up an email account, spending time ringing bells for the Salvation Army, arranging a date in the future to lead a run with A Mile in Her Shoes, or singing carols at the local library.  It is the time of year where we get wrapped up in holiday parties and shopping yet some people who value your time and attention much more.

Spread joy.

Gymbox Collab for a Christmas Wish List

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gymbox was kind enough to invite me to share a fabulous Christmas wish list on their blog this year.

Here are a few things to help you celebrate and show off how hard you have worked in the gym this year.  What else is on your list?

Quickie workout #118

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm  up- 1 min star jumps/jumping jacks; 1 min speed skater jumps; 1 min run
1 min- Bicycles abdominal exercise
1 min each side- Side plank
1 min- Prisoner squats
1 min- Explosive press ups off the wall or floor (try to get time in the air)
1 min- Boat pose
1 min- Hip raises
1 min- Supermans
1 min- Reverse lunges
1 min- Inchworm
1 min each leg- One-legged squats
1 min each side- Side crunches

Weekend Challenge

Friday, December 5, 2014

We are sticking with simplicity as the festive season is rapidly approaching and time is precious.  Your challenge this weekend is to run for 10 minutes.  Set the timer on your watch or phone (ideally, this run would be all at once).  Once you get moving, I hope you will want to continue after your 10 minutes are up.  Speed doesn't matter, just put one foot in front of the other.

The hard part is getting out the door, so lace up your trainers and go!

Race Review: Royal Parks Half Marathon

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Due to a family emergency, I was unable to take part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon this year.  It always gets rave reviews from my fitness friends as one of the prettiest courses in London.  My Mill Hill Sports Centre co-worker, Anna, took part in the event this year and loved it.  Here is her race review:

In the start pen
Having not run more than 10km in over a year, I made my way to the starting line a little pessimistic. What was I doing?  I was in no way ready for a half marathon.

With the help of my Dad, back home in South Africa, I signed in to enter the ballot for the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon in early April. I was so upset about missing the beautiful Two Oceans Half Marathon back home in Cape Town that my Dad, a fanatical runner, made a deal with me. He would pay the entrance fees, as long as I got myself from the start line to the  finish line, preferably in the same day.  At the time I was so excited, now, standing amongst all the thousands of keen London fitness fanatics just before the starting gun was about to go off,…not so much. My ambitious plans of regular endurance training in preparation for the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon had slowly slipped away as the weather grew dimmer and the days shorter, leaving me at the start line with little more than 5 training runs under my belt.

The tube ride into Hyde Park was relatively easy and stress-free; it took me a little under an hour from Mil Hill East tube Station, where I am currently doing my gap year. At every stop more and more runners would hop onto the tube. We were a sea of bright blue t-shirts, brand new Nike shoes and top of the range sportswatches all humming with excitement, the adrenaline starting to kick in. By the end of the line you could hardly move between the mosh of bouncing athletes and bulky tog bags.

As we all hoped off the tube at Hyde Park Corner and made our way to the festival area, you could feel the energy. The Festival area was packed with food stalls, private tents, toilets, stages and thousands of people jumping from one leg to another in desperate attempts to do a last minute warm up. Our time had come.
It being my first Royal Parks Fountain Half Marathon, I was seeded in the Yellow group, second to last. The first group started at promptly 9am, something one would never experience in South Africa where “on time” means 20 minutes after the advertised time.  The Green, Blue, Yellow and Maroon groups followed at 5 minutes intervals. The moment I set off to join the infectious rhythm created by thousands of determined footstep the nervous ball in my stomach dissolved.  I turned the first corner towards Wellington Arch and forgot all about how little training I had done. I couldn't help but be memorized

by London’s beauty. It was such a breath-taking morning. I couldn't think of any better way to experience the magnificence of this country’s capital city.

From running past the guards at Buckingham Palace to checking my watch against Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament, to exploring London’s beautiful Green and St James’s Parks and enjoying Embankments exquisite riverbank. I hardly had time to feel tired. Before I knew it I was on my way back passing under Admiralty Arch and then Marble Arch.

Then came Hyde Park…

I had been warned that this last stretch was always a lot longer than anticipated. Having saved up some final energy I started the long zig-zag in-between the beautiful lawns in high spirits. The hundreds of spectators and Sunday picnickers scattered throughout the park, ensured that you were never alone. The camaraderie between fellow runners also made the race that much more enjoyable.

With 2 miles to go I took a look down at my watch. Where had the time gone. I didn't feel tired at all. 

Look kids- Big Ben!
With the finish line in sight I began to pick up the pace. With every step being cheered on by the fantastic crowd, I crossed the line in 1:52:45.  I couldn't believe my eyes, despite my lack of training I had managed to beat my personal best. I wore my medal and cheesy smile with pride. What an incredible experience, one that I would remember as an unforgettable highlight from my year abroad in England. London with its beautiful old buildings, amazing gardens and infectious friendly atmosphere had inspired me to achieve something I thought was quite impossible on a gap year characterized by little to no physical activity.  I am proud to call London home for the year. 

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Monday, December 1, 2014

I am very happy to say that the Zero Calorie Advent Calendar is back for the 3rd year running.  My co-founders, Christine and Becca, and I have been working on bringing you our best version yet by taking on board feedback from last year.

Each day, we feature a new video workout, recipe, and health-related business deal or giveaway.  All of this for FREE.  Businesses pay their advertising fee directly to our official charity, A Mile In Her Shoes.

Please bookmark the calendar and check it out every day this month in the countdown to Christmas.  Rather than eat a piece of chocolate (hence 'zero calorie' aspect) we encourage you to find balance this month as your social calendar starts to fill up.  A workout here, a glass of prosecco there, a new pair of leggings under the tree. Celebrate the holiday season with us!

Quickie Workout #117

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm  up- Walk up and down stairs for 2 minutes. If you are fitter, you can run up, but please walk down for safety.
1 min- Start in standing position.  Bend over and walk hands out to a plank position. Take a deep breath and then walk hands back and return to standing.
1 min- Downward dog then exhale and bring right knee into chest.  Inhale and return to downward dog. Repeat while alternating knees with each exhale.
1 min- Run in place with high knees.
1 min- Around the World lunges
1 min- Lay on your back with feet on the floor.  Raise hips into a bridge. Drop hips 3 cm and squeeze bum on the way up.
1 min- Tricep dips on a sturdy chair or low step.
1 min- Up and down plank. Start on elbows then raise your self up on palms.  Lower yourself down again. (Palm-palm-elbow-elbow)
1 min- Star jumps
1 min- Burpees
1 min- Star jumps
1 min- Alternating reverse lunges
1 min- Stand in a doorway and press arms out to the sides against the door frame.

Weekend Challenge

Friday, November 28, 2014

Let's keep it simple- give out 10 genuine hugs this weekend. Spread the love!

6 of my guilty pleasures

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Breaking news! I am human. Sure online I highlight any time I do an ounce of exercise and eat well. But don't assume I am perfect.  Think about this: when I finished university, Sex and the City was da bomb. I would watch several episodes in a row and then feel terrible about my boring single life in a mid-sized town. It took me a while to realise that the show highlights 20-25 min of awesomeness (or some sort of hilarity) out of the lives of four successful women. If I broke down my life into 20 min segments, I am sure I would find some good stuff.  Everyone does nowadays with social media and I bet you could too if you took a moment to look back.

So you can get to know me a bit better, I am going to let you in on a few of my secrets…my guilty pleasures (I hope you won't think less of me).

Twilight.  Rainy afternoon with nothing to do? Chances are you will find me on my couch under a blanket with a mud mask on and Twilight in the DVD player. I don't feel too guilty because I have bought all the films at local charity shops.  And who doesn’t love a brooding vampire?

Eating raw cookie dough and cake batter. I have a giant sweet tooth. Anything sugary I will eat (except liquorice and macaroons).  My family baked a lot growing up (mostly brownies and Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip cookies) and my mom would let me lick the spoon.  We always had ice cream in the house and my grandma would hide Kit Kats in her drawer for my brother and me.  If I had to choose one as my ultimate weakness, it would be raw cookie dough (which conveniently Ben and Jerry’s turned into an ice cream flavour. Genius!).

(If I have spare £30) Manicures. Manis are something my mom and I would do for special occasions when I was little (family weddings and proms mostly). Then in grad school, my girlfriends and I would treat ourselves every few months to a trip to the salon as a way to relax while complaining about our advisor. Once my skin allergy became worse, I found manicures were no longer allowed. It really made me sad as I like to be girly once in a while and spend time with friends. Luckily, Shellac/gel nails have been invented since. Manicures are back in the picture and I don't have to worry about them chipping as soon as I walk out of the salon. Hurray! 

Diet Coke. I have publicly admitted my struggles kicking this habit. Somehow I survived my 1st attempt at #Whole30 without caving in and therefore know it is possible to quit. It is the chance of relapse that is high.  Fizzy drinks (as they call pop/soda/coke in the UK) are against just about everything I stand for (including confusing the general public on where penguins and polar bears live). So why do I continue to jones for it?  There must be something in the secret formula I cannot resist.

Kraft Mac-n-cheese. This food has emotional attachment for me.  I grew up on it. Yes I know it is all chemicals and an unnatural color of orange. But when/if I am hung over, this is what my body craves. Any friend from home who crashes with us in London pays me in these blue boxes.

Sleeping. I feel guilty for feeling guilty about this one. Sleep is a necessity to rest, repair, and rejuvenate. However, I know many ladies in their 20s-30s who pursue what they love (blogging, writing, running, volunteering) somewhere around a full paying gig.  Sleep is what is sacrificed to make time for everything. Very rarely is there a morning these days where I don't set an alarm. My Lumie lamp wakes me up and I turn the light off and hit snooze. I should probably work on work-life balance in 2015 that prioritizes sleep over a few other guilty that didn’t make the list (ahem, Millionaire Matchmaker).
If you have a guilty pleasure, whether it is a food, drinks, or some other indulgent activity, don’t worry. We all do (no matter what their Instagram photos show). As the Happiness Personal Trainer, I encourage you to work on finding balance. Negative reinforcement (taking something away) rarely works as a training methodology. Instead, work on portion control, time limits, and simply getting more sleep.  

Now that you know my secrets, do tell me what yours are. What is your guilty pleasure?

Quickie Workout #116

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm  up- 1 min running in place; 1 min skipping (get up high!); 1 min running with high knees (up up UP!)
1 min- Alternating side squats
1 min- Hop hop squat (nice and deep)
1 min- Alternating reverse lunges
1 min- Push/Press ups against the wall
1 min- Wall sit
1 min- Bicep curls holding tins of soup or weights if you have them
30 sec each direction- Small arms circles with tins of soup in your hands
1 min- Star jumps
1 min each leg- Arabesque pulses
1 min- Low squat pulsing down low while on your toes. Keep those heels up!
1 min- Plank

Weekend Challenge- Get SMART

Friday, November 21, 2014

SMART goal setting is one of the techniques I use with my clinic.  Each letter of SMART stands for something to help you define your goal clearly, which turns helps you meet it.

Time bound

For example, let's say your initial goal was to 'be fitter'.  What does that mean?  How can you know if you are fitter or not? When do you want to be fitter?

Let's work on it a bit.... being fitter might mean doing 30 sit ups in a minute. Or running for 30 minutes without walking.  Or play 5-a-side without needing a sub.  Or chasing the kids in the park without needing a break.  These are specific activities and some are measurable.

If you have time to train during the week then setting a goal of being able to run for 30 minutes without walking is attainable.  This training should be running or cardiovascular-related as that is relevant to your goal.

Finally, when do you want to do this by?  Next week might not be realistic, but perhaps by 24th December as that gives you 4 weeks to train and you can already run 10 minutes without needing to walk.  This is the time frame you have to work with.  You will know on 24th December if you met your goal if you trying running for 30 minutes and see how you do.

Of course you can have mini-goals within this larger one- such as run 3x/week increasing each session by 5 minutes.  Let me know if you have a goal but aren't sure how to make it SMART. I am happy to help.

Race Review: Run Hackney 5K

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hackney borough was keen to get people moving in 2014. With the huge interest in their half marathon, a free untimed 5k was add to the weekend lineup.  I was lucky enough to do both. Here are my thoughts on the 5K.

Registration process & fees: free race and registration was online. Easy-Peary

Location: Hackney Marshes was the start/finish for both the 5K and half marathon which was a bit of a challenge to get to if taking public transport. The park itself was big and the area was set up for the half marathon meaning there were a few food stands open and some health-related vendors. Tweets from the @runhackney account said there would be a bag check, but when we arrived there wasn't. Eventually they did open up the tent but you left bags at your own risk.  The ladies at the info tent were nice enough to take my bag as the race was about to start and the start line was at the opposite side of the park from the baggage tent. (Thank you ladies!)

The weather that weekend was exceptionally hot.  The park didn't boost many shady spots which made waiting around for friends to turn up and the race to stat a bit warm. Luckily Lauren was there and kept me company while we waited for Leah to arrive.
Course & bogs: I could tell on Saturday that there definitely were not enough porta-loos for the half on Sunday. Most were locked for the 5K but there were enough available for the 5K runners.  The course started in the half marathon starting gate.  We headed towards the road, passed the community center, and then along a shaded (mostly) paved path through some woods.  The path was a bit narrow at times for runners at varying speeds to keep a steady pace or chat with friends (ahem).  We came out of the woods and across the middle of the park, to wind around onto the paved path on the other side of the park. You finish back where you started, just headed in the opposite direction. Leah clocked the course at just below 5k but that might have been we were tight in the corners.  As this was untimed, the three of us were enjoying ourselves and catching up (I will say I tried in vain to finish unofficially under 30 min only to find out the course was short).
1st medal of the weekend

Atmosphere: The sunshine was out and people were excited to be running. The weather was a bit of a bummer (who'd think we'd be able to say it was too hot in London?) but it helped keep the race fun rather than competitive. It was one of the first times I ran a course with friends, which was a nice change from the endless dialogue in my head that usually occurs when running on my own.  The park wasn't too busy, which meant there weren't spectators cheering you on.  I am pretty sure we ended up running through a cricket match....

Bling/goody bags: Lovely bling and a bottle of water.  
Tips if you decide to take part next time: Get your friends involved and keep it social. No timing facilities so you don't need to worry about anything but having fun,  Hopefully it will continue to be an annual race offered free to Hackney borough residents and encourage people to take up running as a hobby.

Race Review: Inaugural Hackney Half

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hackney Borough was keen to get people moving in 2014. With the huge interest in their first ever half marathon, a free untimed 5k was add to the weekend lineup.  I was lucky enough to do both. Here is my review for the half marathon that took place on 22nd June.  Over 12,000 people took part.

Registration process & fees: Registration was online and costs £35 which is still a bargain for a flat course through London that provides a medal. No extra money to shell out for accommodation or  transport (aside from local) if you live in the Greater London area.

Location: Hackney Marshes E9 5PF. The baggage tent is huge but the queues were still long just before the race started.  I am not sure if this was because people were arriving late, couldn't find a place to park their bike (racks were for triathlon racking,which had most people confused as to how to lock up their bike.  Many many more racks needed for next year as community participation was huge), had trouble finding the venue, or the volunteers working in the tent were overwhelmed. Luckily, they let me check my Brompton.  Next year if would be great if there were meeting point signs to help people connect before and after the race.  There was a large stage on which there was a group warm-up and for after the race, there were bands.
Familiar sight of lines for the loo.

The weather that weekend was really hot.  I knew I wouldn't be getting a PB so I tried to enjoy myself instead and take in the sights.  Unfortunately, people starting fainting and puking after mile 6.

Course & bogs: The course took you through many different areas of Hackney, including by my friends' on Hackney Downs and through the Olympic Park.  There were plenty of watering stations with an amazing Dolphin pouch of water instead of a bottle. I ended up carrying one most of the way to both drink and pour on my head.  Next time the weather is that hot, I will bring my own bottle and nuun tabs. By the time I got to the Powerade stations, they were out. I was so desperate for electrolytes, I picked up a half empty bottle off the ground, threw away the cap and guzzled it down. Not my proudest moment but a necessity to survive.  I had a Haribos in my bumbag that I ate around mile 10 as I was starting to fade.

The Olympic Park was towards the end, probably miles 9-11. You had to run up a ramp and then through a newly laid out park which had little to no shade available. It was very hot so this was a breaking point for many people as they slowed down and walked.  I really commend the emergency services and volunteer marshals (like Becca and Laura) for helping out that day (and hugging me even though my shirt was soaking wet from pouring water on my head).

Atmosphere: Hackney residents were out in full force cheering us on, while others (who I expect didn't know about the race) were looking at us like we were crazy. One gentleman even was standing out with his garden hose to cool runners off as they ran by. It was a Godsend.  

Bling/goody bags: Lovely bling (same style as 5k but gold instead of silver with a different ribbon), goody bag with water, a few product samples, and info about vendors who had booths at the start/finish line.

Not enough bike racks
Tips if you decide to take part next time: Sort out transportation ahead of time as Sundays are tricky for early starts.  Also, unless the organizers provide the correct type of bike racks next year I would leave your bike at home.  Pick a specific spot to meet friends afterwards as the venue is large and the finish line area cuts through the middle of the fun.

Organizers have taken on a lot of feedback from 2014 and implemented some changes for 2015.  Registration opens today so act quickly to secure  a place for next year!

2nd race of the weekend
Thanks to the good folks at Run Hackney for the complimentary race entry.  All opinions are honest and my own.

Quickie Workout #115

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm  up- 1 min star jumps; 1 min prisoner squats; 1 min star jumps
1 min- Lunge and then lift the knee you nearly touch to the ground up as you stand up.
1 min- Repeat on the other side.
1 min- Triceps extension over your head
1 min- Speed skater jumps
1 min- Plyometric lunges
1 min- Side plank on the right side
1 min- Plank
1 min- Side plank on the left side
1 min- Mountain climbers
1 min- Crunches
1 min- Leg lifts
1 min- Crab walk

Weekend Challenge

Friday, November 14, 2014

Let's keep it simple this weekend.  Unplug for 1 hour today, Saturday, and Sunday.  Go for a walk, grab coffee with a friend or visit your mum.  Turn the phone off, unplug the computer, and leave the iPad tucked away.


Quickie Workout #114

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.  Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm  up- 1 min plank; 1 min bicycle ab exercise; 1 min mountain climbers
1 min- Plank with feet hopping together and apart
1 min- Push/Press ups
1 min- Walking lunges
1 min- Wall sit
1 min- Reverse walking lunges (carefully walk backwards)
1 min- Jumping jacks/Star jumps
1 min- 1 legged squat
1 min- 1 legged squat on the other leg
1 min- Calf raises
1 min- Tricep dips
1 min- Bicep curls with tins of soup, water bottles, or using resistance band
1 min- Squats

Weekend Challenge- Spread kindness

Friday, November 7, 2014

Good girl Snowy!
Recently I started volunteering with Cinnamon Trust.  This organization matched volunteers with older, disabled, or sick people to help care for their pets by walking dogs, cleaning bird cages, or playing with cats.  Originally, I signed up because I didn't have a pup of my own and wanted to get some doggy cuddles in.  But before a local match was found through Cinnamon Trust, we adopted a dog of own.  I am busy walking my own dog but I hate to turn away a neighbor who can use my help.

Snowy is a 9 year old American Eskimo dog and her owner has limited sight and mobility.  I help out an hour a week and visit with her owner for a cuppa after the walk is over.  It beings me joy to make Snowy happy (she loves running in the park) and to bring companionship to her owner.  (and selfishly, I am incorporating my marathon training with our walks- soon to be runs!)

This weekend, I challenge you to spread kindness by helping a neighbor.  Clear their path of leaves, fetch them milk from the shop, or pay for a coffee for the next person in line at the coffee shop. Take it a step further and sign up to volunteer at the local library, school, church, or animal shelter.

Little things can make a difference into a person's life. Take some time to think about how your actions affect others around and make a difference today.

It will be my first time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Good God I signed up for a marathon. And I just booked my plane tickets.  Come hell or high water I will be in Prague on 3 May, 2015.  Fingers crossed I will also be running the Volkswagen Prague Marathon.  The route starts and finishes in Old Town while keeping the river in sight.  I have never been to Prague or run a marathon so obviously the following thoughts are going through my head.

Mental strength

(not necessarily in that order).

I am afraid.  Afraid of failing, of getting injured, of loosing my mojo, of being stressed out over training with a full-time job/dog/husband/volunteering, afraid of never trying to run 26.2 miles at once.  Many of my London friends are avid runners who now complete ultra's and 24 hour relays.  I admit I am jealous of their racing success. But I am not dedicated like they are.  These girls train and fuel like the champions that they are.  I, however, do not. Yet.

My plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis have been ok recently but that is because I haven't been running.  To avoid building up my miles too quickly, I am going to follow Hal Higdon's Novice Supreme Marathon Training Plan.  It is meant to cover 30 weeks, but I am a few weeks short.  Last night, with the dark and rain and cold, I took it as a test of my will power. I felt if I skipped my run, I would always find an excuse NOT to run.  So I put on my trainers, grabbed the dog and took to the pavement.  I also talked to my Occupational Health department at work about working with the physio in case any niggles do come up.  Being prepared will help me build my confidence as I start out.

Through crowd-sourcing on Facebook, I got some great tips on running my first marathon:
"Take your training seriously. Also take chafing seriously - vaseline is your best friend"
" If you've got supporters coming, make sure they're somewhere curb-side during 'the wall' period of the race (mile 16-21-ish). Having a friendly face there is the biggest boost."
"Jelly babies"
"Invest in good gear - especially socks (I swear by my Swiftwicks, no blisters yet!). Keep track of what you eat the day before, during runs and after long runs, and keep an eye on what agrees with you or not. I started incorporating squeeze pouches of flavored applesauce into the mix with gu's and chomps. Trust your training plan, the mental aspect is huge, and can make or break an iffy run. On race day: have your family/friends hold really bizarre mylar balloons so you can spot them easily on the course; and enjoy the race - someone told me that race day is really the victory lap for all of the miles you already put in"
"Put MOLLIE in big easy to read letters on your shirt (with duct tape even) as you will get so much energy from ppl calling your name along the run!"
"My best tip for running in general is don't do anything different on race day. Don't try a new food. Don't wear new shoes, or a new shirt, etc."
"Set a plan and stick with it, build milestones for success and celebrate those milestones, join a group who is training for the same race to keep you accountable and to enjoy the journey with. If your miss a day or 3, don't sweat it just get back on the plan. Listen to your body if it's saying sleep or rest... Then take a rest day."
"Do the long runs...miles in the bank. Try incorporating in nutrition and will be surprised how things sit in your stomach at longer distances."
" I think I contributed my time (much better than I was hoping) to all the rest, early nights and good food I was getting leading up to it. I think focusing really hard on this for at least the 2 weeks before is good. Also I took packed meals I made with me. These pre-made, nutrition packed dinners, along with taking all the snacks I needed meant I didn't have to worry or spend anytime finding the right meal, all I needed to concentrate on was resting and my game plan. One less thing to think about and not have to worry about. Also the best advice I got was from my cousin Emily Johnston was to join a running club. The speed and hill training sessions we had twice a week were invaluable for increasing my speed. Not only I have I made lots of cool running friends, I am just not motivated to undertake this type of training on my own. Plus there are always people who are keen for long runs in the weekend, even if you only have someone for part of the run with you it's still more motivating. "
"Get a good playlist full of upbeat tunes - and, if possible, motivational messages from friends and family"
"if running in a city you live in, do your last two long training runs on the actual marathon route. For instance I ran in London and my 18m and 20m long run I did on the route itself. BUT - start 6m, or whatever, into the route so you finish at the real finish line. on the day your body will believe you have run it already! As a first time marathoner this was my best tip."
" invest in good shoes that fit. For me, that means buying a full size up from normal since feet generally swell on the long distance run. I would also say "Respect the Distance" - which is shorthand for a bunch of stuff. But mostly, it means to do the training. But it also means don't try to do too much, too fast, too soon - it'll take time to build up to it. You'll want to make sure you've built in time to rest during your training. So inevitably, when you catch a cold or need to rest an achey foot or just need a mental break from running, you can rest and give your body and mind a needed break. Finally, have fun on race day - it really is a celebration. And go out slower than you think you need to. Seriously. Slow down. You can't really bank time anyway, so bank energy for the final 5-6 miles when you'll need to be mentally tough."
"Feet and Eat! Make sure your feet are tough as leather and the blisters will stay away. Blisters were a problem in my first marathon, but with proper training they shouldn't be a problem (or you can be tough and just pretend the the blisters aren't there). Eating things like bananas or gel packs really helped me in the long races that I have done well in. Make sure you try eating during your runs in training. Don't do anything new on race day, just do what you did in your training."

The best thing one of my friends posted was The Oatmeal's Dos and Don'ts of Running a Marathon.  Pure genius.

SO this is a warning that many of my posts from now on will be about running, training, eating, dressing- all for the marathon in May.  I welcome your tips, comments, playlists, recipes, and invitations for long runs.

If you are a newbie too, check out my running/blogger friends who have a bit of advice too.  Read on if you are considering running a marathon but have mixed emotions about it:

Becs, The Style Dynamo '8 Marathons and counting: My top tips'

Lucy, Eurogirl Running 'Marathon Training- lessons learnt the hard way'

Josie, Run Josie Run 'London Marathon Race Report'