Lifelong learner

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Since finishing my bachelors degree, there has rarely been a time when I wasn't studying part-time.  My career goal was to become an aquatic veterinarian so for several years I took classes part-time at the community college in my hometown to complete the prerequisite requirements.  But unfortunately, I didn't get in.  I then found myself taking courses to become a nurse practitioner before realising I didn't like people as much as animals.  Grad school came a few years later, then my spinning certification, personal training, and additional certifications, such as Coach in Running Fitness, along the way.  I enjoy learning new things in fields that interest me and enjoy the challenge of mastering new materials.  Plus, these courses are often great ways to meet other people with similar interests or who work in the same field as you.

Lately, I haven't been keeping up with the fitness industry advancements.  As the day job isn't allowing much time for part-time work in the gym, I find it hard to justify the expense of my time and money on fitness courses.  Plus, I would need to take time off from work to attend classroom sessions or to revise for final assessments.

I was intrigued when Future Fit Training contacted me to be one of the first to try out their new Pro Zone. Offering webinars, discounted online CPD, and networking opportunities, it is perfect for busy trainers like me.  It is a private Facebook group, meaning you can check in with the app you most likely already have on your phone.  Plus, checking Facebook is something you already do automatically so you don't have to worry about remembering to log into a separate place.  Everyone in the group has been really friendly and willing to share tips and advice whenever someone posts a question.

Key benefits of membership include:
  • 12 accredited webinars per year
  • 25% discount on all Future Fit CPD courses
  • Membership of an exclusive online fitness industry group
  • Specialist guest webinars
  • Unique promotions and competitions
  • Engaging content to help maximise your PT skills and business
The webinars tend to be on Wednesdays ar 2pm, which unfortunately is while I am at work.  However, they are recorded for later viewing and emailed to you if you registered.  The first one I signed up for was about mindset training with the founder of the Body Transformation Academy.  There are many more that I cannot wait to see.  Here are a few examples:

It has only been two weeks since I have joined, and I am still getting used to navigating the group and having it be part of my daily check in.  I see tremendous value in it though for new PTs or PTs who are trying to grow their business.  I will be posting updates in the next few weeks on how I get on with it and what new stuff I am learning that will help you be healthy and happy.

When was the last time you took a class to learn something new?  Did you continue to pursue it after the course ended?

Stay warm when running during the cold snap

Saturday, January 28, 2017

I cannot believe how chilly is has been the last two weeks in London!  Don't get me wrong, I love winter and have all the right kit to stay warm, but in the 6 years I have lived in London I don't remember it ever being so cold for so long.  While I was home in New York for Thanksgiving, I saw  warm sports kit (merino wool, thermal, fleece lined) in all the shops, but I knew (or so I thought) that it would never be cold enough in London to wear it more than once or twice a year.

Photos by Fabric Forward

It was fortuitous that SKINS Compression got in touch soon after and offered for me to test out their compression kit.  I chose the A400 line because it features Adaptive Technology that helps regulate body temps.  This seemed like a good compromise as London often has cool/windy weather, rather than hot or cold extremes.  The leggings feature 360 degree reflectivity and have a pocket in the back of the waistband.

The A400 long sleeve top has similar features to the leggings, such as 360 degre reflectivity, moisture wicking, and dynamic gradiant compression.  The other unique feature is silicone gripper on the hem of the top which keeps it in place as you run, bend, or stretch, meaning you don't need to worry about flashing some skin but rather focus on your workout.

I have worn the A400's on long runs, trail runs, parkrun, and a, eight mile run commute.  I never felt too warm or too cold on my run, which was amazing to think how versitile .  The compression is supposed to help with blood circulation and recovery.  (You can read more about compression technology here.)  Obviously, the only downside to compression gear is how tight it is.  You need to be confident in your body shape as SKINS leave nothing to the imagination.  Every curve gets a form fitting hug.

The other tips I have for staying warm are wearing light-weight running gloves.  This is something I always do to help my hands from developing  more severe eczema.  I have a pair of sport E-Gloves that I really like to wearing when running.  They don't get sweaty or damp, even on long runs, meaning my hands don't get cold.  They also dry quickly so I can wear them a few hours later.

As you will see in my photos here and on Instagram, I am always wearing a snood in the winter.  For some reason, as soon as I step outside in weather that is a bit cool, my nose runs.  In the summer, I think I have allergies too which also cause excess mucus production.  So I wear a snood in the winter to easily wipe my nose (don't worry, I wash it regularly).  It also helps warm you breathe when it is so cold outside, your nose hair freezes. You can bring the snood over your face and breathe in air that is warmed by your body temp first.

Finally, I wear a lightweight handband to cover my ears when it is really cold.  It is also a bright High-Vis color to help me be seen.  I would advise accessorizing with lights and reflective wear too if running in low light conditions.  Yes, the clothes have 360 degree reflective bits but you want to ensure that all traffic and cyclists definitely see you coming.

I am so happy to say that SKINS is offering my readers a 20% discount using the promo code PTMOLLIE-SKINS20 on all full-priced items. Offer expires 31st January so head on over and pick up some kit today to beat the winter blues.

Thanks to SKINS for gifting me the A400 top and leggings.  As always, all opinions are honest and my own.

7 helpful ideas for clean sleeping

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My nightstand needed to be decluttered for better feng shui. This is the result.
One of my goals of 2017 is to get more sleep.  My husband would probably say I get too much as it is, but sleep seems to be the thing that most people cut out when their 'to do' list lengthens.  But we need sleep to function and help our bodies repair from training so why do we not make it a priority?

I am a light sleeper and I think that is why I always need more. When I do sleep, I am not getting quality shut eye.  It has been really interesting since I started wearing my Fit Bit Surge to bed seeing the total sleep I get and how much of it is restless or awake. It has also been handy to show my husband how often the dog wakes me up in the middle of the night.  I always aim for 8 hours but rarely do I hit my target.

Everyone deserves a good night's sleep.  If you are well rested, you will have less sugar cravings, be more alert, and your body will recover more quickly from training sessions. Your stress levels will also reduce which could help you loose abdominal fat.  The Bed Guru recently posted some suggestions on how to get a better night's sleep as part of a new trend in 2017 of clean sleeping.  The idea is that making a conscious effort to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night can lead to a healthier and happier life where you are more focused and productive during the day too.  I have tried out a few of the suggestions and added some of my own as part of their #CleanSleepingGuru campaign.  Hopefully, you will be able to incorporate a few of these into your night time routine.

1.  App - Everyone says to leave your electronics out of the room but as many of us use our phone as an alarm clock, the temptation is too great not to check Facebook one more time before bed.  I have installed the Twilight app on my phone, which removes the blue light emitted from your screen based on when the sun sets and rises in your location. Sure everything looks a bit yellow when it is activated, but if it helps me sleep better, who cares?

2.  Hypnotherapy - Sometimes I will listen to my Thinking Slimmer Chillpod  to help me drift off if I am really wound up due to a late exercise session or an upcoming deadline.  It is a bit of hypnotherapy that helps you relax a bit.  I have also been known to listen to it on the commute to work and on my lunch break if I am having a stressful week.  It is less than 10 minutes long, so I should really make an effort to listen to it every day.

Fresh lavendar makes me happy
3.  Lavendar - On my nightstand, I have a lavendar sachet. Lavendar oil is often recomended to sprinkle on your pillow case but we bought several sachets at the Brussels Christmas market (we got a great deal!).  We have a few away as Christmas presents but there a few hanging about the house still.

4.  Technology - My Fitbit also sends me a notification when it is time to start getting ready for bed.  That is my cue to unplug from social media or watching TV and put my pjs on. I try not to go back online after the alert except to set my alarm.  I can set the time that fits in with my evening plans.  The only downside is that it is the same time every day.  You cannot have a different time for each day of the week.

5.  Electric blanket - The electric blanket has been an essential for me this winter.  I know most resources say to have the room a few degrees colder for sleeping, but I am a 'warm happy' person- meaning I would always rather be a bit warm than cold.  I plug it in about 30 minutes before I go to bed and then shut it off when the lights go out.  It is heaven for me to get into warm sheets.  Otherwise, if I am too cold, I just lay there nearly shivering and getting anxious that I won't fall asleep soon.  In fact, my husband used to warm up my side of the bed for me when we lived in snowy Michigan (without an electric blanket).  You need to find a temperature that works for you, that helps you fall asleep easily and stay asleep.  If it is a few degrees warmer, or with the window open all year round, so be it.

6. Blindfold - Typically I use a snood as an eye mask in the summer to block out the late sunlight.  But the excess fabric usually puts a bit of pressure on my eyes and the whole thing somehow falls off in the middle of the night.  While in Berlin, my friend Sabine of My Life My Challenges, introduced me to Bucky 40 Blinks eye masks.  They are soft fabric but the eye cover is a little cup, meaning you can fully open your eyes while wearing it.  I picked one up for her when I was in America but should have got one for myself too.

7.  Melatonin - Normally, I am not one to push supplements but my step-mom sent me joint care pills that contain melatonin, a hormone that helps with sleep and wake patterns.  I have a few friends who swear that melatonin helped them get improve the quality of their sleep.  Even if it is a placebo effect, if you sleep better, it is worth it.

These are just a few of the things I have tried.  Leave a comment below if you have any other unique ways to easily fall asleep or to have a good night's sleep.

This post is in collaboration with Bed Guru.  It also contains affiliate links, which adds no additional cost to you but helps fund this website.

Catching up from the couch

Monday, January 23, 2017

This morning, in the chilly sunshine, I ran 12 miles with the Advent Running crew.  The gang were chatty and supportive as always as I brought up the rear at my 9:30-10 minute mile pace.  After some food and a hot shower, I am now recovering on the couch under a warm blanket in my thermals.  I thought it would be a good time to catch you up on what has been happening with me lately.
  • December- It was a busy month with me at work, which meant my husband took the lead with Christmas planning and decorating.  Unfortunately, this is the second year he has done so and I really hope 2017 will be different.  I had eight weeks where I was either working or travelling and then really took a toll by New Year's.  We were away at a wedding, which usually I enjoy, but all I wanted to do was sleep.  I figured it was down to stress and overcommitting, but I was also considering increasing my anxiety medication temporarily to get me over this hump.  I am stilll struggling at the moment, but rather than change my medication, I am aiming to leave work on time every day.
  • Whole30- To help me reset my body and mind, I gave myself this clean eating challenge.  I have done this before (twice successfully and twice I quit) so I knew what was involved to succeed. I am hapy to say I have 8 days to go!  I am still longing for the forbidden foods, but I am feeling good overall and lost 5 pounds so I now fit into an old dress for an upcoming wedding.  I still don't think I have experienced 'tiger's blood' but maybe my metabolism is too slow to make a change in only a month's time.
  • Marathon training- As you know, I am running the London Marathon in April.  Training started at the end of December and I am chugging along.  My goal is to run 9:30 min miles which means I need to get faster.  Track Tuesdays with Advent Running are booked in the diary until the race.  I am also pushing myself a bit more on the shorter routes to get my body used to being (un)comfortable at a faster pace.  I still have goals to add in strength training and yoga/stretching but there never seems to be enough time in the day.  When my training volume goes up, my sleep requirements do too.  I am being more choosey about which blogging assignments I accept in the hopes to continue to bring you info on how to lead healthy  happy lives while I practice what I preach!
Photo by Fabric Forward
  • Travelling- In only a few weeks time, I will be living it up in Cape Town, South Africa.  There will be posts on this soon as I have some amazing active travel plans set up that I can't wait to share.  Cape Town has always been on my bucket list, and soon you will know why.
  • Finding a balance- With all of the above going on, I am trying to fit more in by taking time for me.  I treated myself to a pedicure at Christmas time, booked a Champney's spa break (post coming soon), and didn't run at all last weekend without feeling too guilty (well, I did think I had broke my toe).  Some of these aren't something I can do all the time, but I am now feeling more comfortable with 'treating' myself to a taste of the good life because I am worth it.

More time outside with my boy

I am going to be on the couch a wee bit longer while I rest my legs.  Leave a post below and let me knjow how you are doing so far this year.  Have you signed up for any races?  Any trips planned?  Which fitness classes are you loving right now?

Spring Shake Out & Stretch benefitting Plantlife

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I am so excited to announce my new charity event, benefitting Plantlife as part of my commitment to raise £1000 for the London Marathon.  Plantlife gives a voice to the nation's wildflowers, making all of your trail runs much more enjoyable. 

Please join me on Saturday 11th February at Best's Bootcamp (near Charing Cross tube station in London) at 11am for 11:15am departure for an easy 5K run through the streets of London.  This will be a social pace to catch up with friends, see London's glorious skyline from the riverbank, and explore new streets.

We will come back to Best's for a 60 minute yoga class with Lauryn Allman.  She will lead you through a class for all abilities, targeting the muscles and joints runners use most as a way to stretch out safely.

More about the class:
Focusing on relieving tension where runners feel it most, Lauryn will lead you through an all levels Yoga for Runners vinyasa class.  Even if yoga isn't your forte, Lauryn will guide you to feel confident and comfortable in the practice.

More about Lauryn:
An actor, writer and life long Anglophile, Lauryn's dreams came true when she moved to London from Canada in 2014. With nearly a decade of personal practice and study under her belt, Lauryn decided to take her passion for yoga further and completed her 200 hour Vinyasa Flow teacher training with YogaLondon. Yoga and meditation have helped Lauryn to marry her coffee loving, rapid fire brain with her need for quiet and and Sunday nights in with the cat. Her hope is to guide others to find their own balance both on and off the mat.

Before you go, grab your goody bag and enjoy some light refreshments.

Best's Bootcamp has graciously offered us full use of their facilities, including lockers and showers.  I am so grateful for their support! The studio is brand new, with plugs to charge your phone in your locker, amazing instructor cam, treadmills that have a down hills (sadly, we won't be using them) as well as a spin studio. 

Only 25 spaces available so book in today!


Big thanks to the following companies for donating to the goody bags (more to come!):

Dr. Bronner's
The Green Well
Blue Frog
Upbeat Protein Drinks
GoMo Energy

Sorry for the formatting wonkiness- Blogger isn't working with me today!

GoMo Energy is also offering my readers a 25% discount on the following three1. products on Amazon when you use the code: GoMoment.  Thank you GoMo!

1.  GoMo ENERGY® sugarfree and vegan Energy Drink│ L-Carnitin Energy Booster for increased focus and better performance│ High doses of vitamin B12, Caffeine, Guarana and Black Elderberry extract improve brain function and reduce tiredness │ Acai - Black Current flavour - 25 single serve portion

2.  GoMo ENERGY® sugarfree and vegan Energy Drink │ Stevia sweetened Energy Booster for increased focus and better performance│ High doses of vitamin B12, Zinc, Caffeine and Magnesium improve brain function and reduce tiredness │Blood Orange flavour - 25 single serve sticks

3.  GoMo ENERGY® sugarfree and vegan Energy Drink │ natural Guarana for increased focus and better performance│ High doses of B-Vitamins, Caffeine, Guarana extract and Taurin improve brain function and reduces tiredness │Classic Energy flavour - 25 single serve portions

Stay active with the entire family in the winter months

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Photo by Fabric Forward
Most people aim to start exercising more as soon as the clock strikes midnight on the 1 st January.  But if you commute to work, have a family, or other outside responsibilities it can be hard to fit it in.  The dark nights and cold weather don't help much either.  When Decathlon reached out to me to take part in their Decathlon Decathlon Challenge, I thought it sounded like a great idea as the events were a big unusual.

Decathlon sent me a hula hoop, darts board, and hiking boots with an assisgnment for each one. I was to see how long I can hula hoop for, try to get the lowest score on darts board, and time myself lacing up the boots.  These are brilliant ways to encourage your family to get up off the couch.  Most family members can take part (some will need supervision with darts even though they are plastic).  Or make up your own with what you have around the house.

Here are a few ideas I had to get the family to be active together when it is too cold and rainy to go outside:

  • fastest up the stairs
  • longest wall sit
  • longest plank
  • most times hopping on one foot in 1 min
  • number of squats in 30 sec
  • how many tries to roll a double on a pair of dice.  You decide if lowest or highest is the winner.
  • how long you can hold your breathe (be sensible here!)

How did I do? Well, I thought the hula hooping would be easy as I used to love it when I was younger. But I was absolutely rubbish! I couldn't even make 10 sec.  Neither could my husband, so I felt a little bit better about it.  When was the last time you hula hooped?

The darts were a bit 'easier' for me as I am crap at that sport, even though we used to play with my grandpa in his basement when I was growing up.  I scored a 10 if you don't count the 2 throws that didn't even hit the board.  Since the darts are plastic, they cause less damage to the wall and were a bit safer to have in the living room.  I still would only hang it on a wall you don't care about as the darts might leave a small mark and, of course, keep an eye on the kiddies at all times.

We had a wee bit of space on the wall for the board.

Action shot!

The boots were trickier as I had to overcome my need for perfect alignment and flat laces and focus on getting the task done.  It took me 1 minute 48 seconds to get both boots laced up. I changed my stratgey for the second shoe but I don't think it made a difference in my final time.  If you don't have hiking boots, you can use any pair of shoes the laces in your closet. Hopefully they don't smell too bad!

Ready, set, go!

Look at the focus on my face.


Let me know which challenges you and your family decide to try by leaving a comment below. I would love to hear some new ideas too on how you stay active at home without getting cabin fever.

Thanks to Decathlon for gifting me these fun items. As always, all opinions are honest and my own.