Blog Posts

Monday motivation – The importance of solid foundations for life.

Gold Medal

As you know, I was on my soapbox last Friday and I did promise to tell you about how I went from ‘Oops’ to ‘solid core confidence’. Before I go on, here’s a potted history of I ended up in the oops situation in the first place. It’s a common story. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Cost Centre 1 was born 21 years ago, with Cost Centre 2 appearing 15 months later. Both of them received excellent postnatal care as well as early years care. I can’t say the same about my own postpartum care. Like many women, I tried for years to lose the baby weight but always looked pregnant no matter how much weight I lost. And to make matters worse, I was quietly suffering from stress incontinence. Running after the kids, coughing, sneezing – all common activities, lead to embarrassment. My self-confidence was at an all-time low. I felt fat, frumpy, and had a dampness problem.

At every well woman check-up I would ask if anything could be done, only to be fobbed off the usual statement “What do you expect? You had two babies back to back.”In other words, pad up and shut up!

Not willing to give in so easily, I tried kegel exercises. No improvement.

I spent a huge sum of money on a battery-operated kegel machine. No improvement.

I spent even more money going to legs, bums, and tums exercise classes. No improvement.

And then menopause appeared on the horizon and things got worse. I couldn’t go running anymore as it made the whole situation worse. Dancing? Forget it. And as for the hay fever season, I lived in fear of the next sneeze. If I was lucky, I’d feel a sneeze coming on, be able to stop whatever I was doing, cross my legs (and fingers) and brace myself for the oncoming explosion.

Sometimes I was not in a position to brace myself and the inevitable happened. I’d beat a hasty retreat to the nearest ladies loo and do as much damage limitation as possible. Damn it! Was I that old accident-prone woman already?

And then a chance comment from friend lead to a hushed conversation with her. She’d been in the same boat. Note the word “been”, past tense. She had regained control and was now on her own personal fitness mission now that she had a functioning core. I wanted this for myself.

Armed with the contact details of the women’s healthcare coach, I filled in the short on-line form and waited for the initial phone consultation. Looking back, this was one of the most important calls I’ve ever had. It was a life-changer. We agreed to proceed and meet in person to benchmark my current fitness levels, posture, abdominals etc.

After checking over my tummy and posture I discovered the reason why I always looked pregnant. I had spent the past twenty odd years with separated abdominals, diastasis recti to give it its posh name. Mine was five fingers wide, i.e. about 3″ (7.5cm) at my belly button! No wonder none of the exercises and machines worked!

With little core stability, the pelvic floor muscles had no solid foundation to anchor onto, hence the stress incontinence. And it can be reversed. As with anything in life, there are no 100% guarantees but with carefully planned exercises and an adjustment of food intake, improvements will happen.

After 6 weekly visits with my coach, and some homework, we measured the belly gap and it had closed to a smidge of a finger width. And my oops moments? They are in the past. The biggest revelation happened when I was asked to provide a midstream urine sample for the doc and managed it effortlessly. It wasn’t until I marched back triumphantly into the consulting room, that I truly realised what I’d been able to do. I don’t think the doc has ever seen such a happy patient, proudly proffering up a neat, tidy and more to the point, dry sample bottle. I felt like I’d won a medal.

So now you know why I am so happy to be able to run, dance, and chase my pup, and why a stable core is key to resolving the embarrassing moments for millions of women.

So if any of you reading this are facing similar issues or know someone who is, have courage. Find a women’s healthcare physio/coach and take back control of your core.

incidentally, I have some lovely healing smoothie recipes to share. They make getting your daily fruit and veg intake really simple and tasty.

Happy Monday everyone xx

Blog Posts

Getting to the core of running with confidence


Today I am on my soap box, my women’s healthcare soapbox. The subject is taboo. If we do talk about it, it’s usually in hushed whispers, red-faced with embarrassment. So what’s got me all fired up.

Stress and/or urge incontinence following childbirth, c-section, hysterectomy and/or menopause and the lack of education and treatment.

There! I’ve written in down, said it out loud!

Did you know, here in the UK, more than 10 million women suffer from this? One in three. And what are we told by our family doctors?

“It’s common after childbirth/hysterectomy/menopause.”

Common it may be, but that does not make it normal. That’s a statement (and a crap one at that), not advice. After all, if one’s core and pelvic floor were in good working order beforehand, we should expect it to function again. Fobbing us off with the above statement is unacceptable. It leaves women believing that there is nothing we can do about it except line the pockets of incontinence pad manufactures. Even the advertising campaigns for these items normalise stress/urge incontinence, calling them “oops moments”!

Common beliefs include –

  1. Incontinence is an ‘old lady’ problem
  2. It is incurable
  3. The only solution is to wear pads for the rest of your life

I was a ‘one in three’.

  1. My problems started after childbirth – and I wasn’t an old lady then!
  2. It is not incurable. A 6 week tailored program can have you sneezing with confidence again… oh and running. I wouldn’t be doing my couch to 5K running challenge if I hadn’t completed the program.
  3. Just no! No! No! and No!

I am living proof that we women can take back our core function and enjoy bouncy activities like running and dancing. You should have seen me cha cha cha my butt last night at class!

In my next post I’ll let you in on how I conquered stress incontinence.

Have a fun Friday.

<steps off soapbox>