I was recently invited to join a popular nationwide women's running group on Facebook (Thanks Jacinta for the referral!). It is a wonderful forum where women support each other in their running goals whether big or small. As I am currently rejoining the world of running myself after recovering from rectal prolapse surgery, this is a great source of inspiration and information on long distance running.
However, in scrolling through the memes of these inspiring female runners I couldn't help but think there was an elephant in the room in the shape of a weak pelvic floor. How many of those women pop on a panty liner to cater for a little bit of wee coming out on their daily run? How many abandon running as their incontinence worsens? And how many have aggravated their condition enough to cause a prolapse? The statistics tell us that 1 in 3 women suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction but I assume given their chosen form of exercise and demographics (women of child-bearing age), the statistics may very well be higher in this group.
Like most women, I once believed that bladder weakness after children was par for the course. However, after experiencing my own issues and doing some research on pelvic floor health, I discovered this certainly isn't the case. Pelvic floor dysfunction may be VERY common but it is certainly NOT normal. At the recent Women's Health and Fitness Summit in Melbourne, I was lucky enough to hear the very entertaining Elaine Miller (physiotherapist and stand up comedian) talk about the statistics behind pelvic floor health. Here are the key stats she presented:
These kinds of statistics show that we need to support and educate women more effectively about their pelvic floor health. In her speech, Elaine rallied us all to spread the word that "we don't have to live with pelvic floor weakness" and it is a cause I can easily get behind.
So I am on a mission. A mission to get the conversation going and therefore get the message out there that pelvic floor problems are very common, but they are NOT normal and that if you get help, you stand a good chance of curing your incontinence.
If you are considering returning to exercise after baby (or at any time for that matter), keep the following in mind:
1. Pelvic floor weakness is very common but it is NOT normal
2. The majority of pelvic floor issues are curable so see your women's health physiotherapist before you commence exercise (around 6 weeks postpartum is great, or anytime you decide to restart exercise)
3. Slow and steady wins the race. Take your time to rebuild your body from the inside out after baby. Pelvic floor and core strengthening are key to laying the foundation for future exercise.
4. Continuing to engage in exercise such as high impact exercise (like running), heavy lifting and inappropriate core exercises can exacerbate your pelvic floor condition. Look for a trainer that has specific training in managing pelvic floor issues and is willing to partner with your physiotherapist to ensure a safe, effective return to exercise.
4. Talk to your friends. Help ensure pelvic floor issues don't remain swept under the carpet. Spread the word about pelvic floor health and encourage your friends to seek help.
For a good giggle and helpful pelvic floor information you can follow Elaine's Blog "Gusset Grippers" on Facebook.
For a great Pelvic Floor Exercise App and lots of information on pelvic floor health and pelvic floor safe exercise, visit www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au.
I am the proud owner of a CWA Bundaberg Branch Cookery Book, and once upon a time I baked with reckless abandon enjoying all the deliciousness that comes with using large amounts of sugar and white flour. Since our transition to a largely wholefoods lifestyle, most of my "baking" has been more about blending, and using nuts to fill the void of flour. But with my daughter's primary school being a 'no go' zone for nuts I have had to come up with other ways to throw the occasional sweet treat in the lunch box.
The recipe below is one I have modified from the CWA Cookery Book to create a more nutrient dense version that passes the reduced sugar, high protein, high fibre and most importantly kid taste bud test. I did try making these with pure stevia for a fructose free version but they were bloody awful, so don't go there.
I have made some comments after the recipe about spelt and rapadura sugar for those who aren't familiar with these ingredients.
Chocolate Rough Biscuits (Go Mum! Style)
Makes 30-35 biscuits
120g butter, soft (the real stuff)
1/3 cup rapadura sugar*
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups coconut
2 tbls chia seeds
1 cup spelt flour*
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbs Organic raw cacao
1/2 - 1 tablespoon of melted cocount oil (if needed)
These biscuits freeze really well or will keep in an airtight container in the cupboard for a week.
You can also make these in the Thermomix by just throwing everything in and mixing on speed 3 until it all comes together.
These biscuits are chocolately but not overly sweet. I make mine with 1/3 cup of sugar but if wanted them sweeter, you could go to 1/2 cup.
*Rapadura is different to other sugars as it has not been cooked at high temperatures or had the molasses extracted. It is pure sugar cane juice which is extracted using a press and then evaporated over low heat while stirred. It is also organic and so does not contain any chemicals or anti-caking agents. Because it has a richer flavour than white sugar you don't need to use as much. Yay!
*Spelt flour is an ancient grain that packs a higher nutrient punch that regular wheat flour. It has very high levels of protein and dietary fibre as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, vitamin B6 and folic acid (to name a few). And it behaves pretty much like regular flour so it is easy to substitute. If you would like to learn more about the health benefits of spelt, here is an article that might help.
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