25 things you may not know about me.

  1. I play the trumpet.  Most people remember me from school as ‘blond, glasses, plays the trumpet.’ One of my happiest memories is playing the A-Train solo in the middle of a packed out square on a school music tour in Limono, Italy (and getting a free gelato for my efforts).
  2. I was a bit of a square at school.  And a goody two shoes.  I liked school.  Got on with my teachers. Did three thousand extra curricular activities. I was that girl.
  3. I used to be a management consultant. I spent four years working for PwC Consulting. During that time I ran graduate training programmes in Tampa, Florida, learned to code (and teach to code) computer programmes and partied (and drank), a lot.
  4. I can down a pint in about 6 seconds (see above).
  5. I love baking. I wooed my husband with a lemon drizzle cake. Still my signature cake.
  6. I’m petrified of spiders, mice and anything that moves fast. Occasionally my own shadow.
  7. I got straight A’s for all my GCSEs and A-Levels and a First class honours degree.  It seemed important at the time!
  8. I’m very creative. I love to paint, do crafts, sew and decorate cakes, homes, anything.
  9. I was selected to be an international Girl Guide.
  10. My favourite drink is a gin and tonic.  Bombay Sapphire, ice (about 5 small cubes – not too cold), a large chunk of lemon, with a little juice squeezed into the glass and Schweppes tonic.  A short drink if it’s a summer garden party.  Gin and tonics always taste best when my dad makes them!
  11. My big sister, Sue, taught me to read before I went to school so I spent most of my primary school teaching other kids how to read Roger Red Hat or sitting on my own reading from a very small selection of ‘clever kids’ books (I remember most of them were pretty dull).
  12. I’m obsessed by stage musicals. Perhaps it’s the escapeism, perhaps it’s the fairy tale romance, perhaps it’s the music and spectacle but I love them and will defend them to the death. Much of my life is spent in an internal stage musical.
  13. I once won an award for choreographing our University production of Guys and Dolls which we performed at the National Student Drama Festival.
  14. My roles in theatre productions have included, courtesan (in the Comedy of Errors), Shy (a young whore in the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) and Mona (killed her husband due to artistic differences in Chicago).
  15. For as long as I can remember I’ve fiddled with my hands.  I used to bite my nails until they were sore. I hate that I do it.
  16. I once played the part of a ‘mourner’ at Lord Byron’s funeral in a BBC adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (I was a runner for the programme).
  17. My grandfather is racist. A month before my wedding he sent me a letter explaining how he thought my marriage would offend many people and how he had no desire to meet my future husband.  He has never acknowledged the existence of my son, Isaac. I have learned an awful lot about different kinds of racism since knowing and loving Chris. I have learned through asking questions – if you don’t think racism exists anymore, I’d suggest you start asking questions too.
  18. I’m a Christian. It’s brilliant. I can’t imagine life without my faith.
  19. I’m a sobber. I cry at happy films. I wail at tragic films.  I cry when people tell me sad things. I well up when I remember moving bits in books. The Color Purple nearly destroyed me and War Horse was a traumatic event in my life.
  20. When I walked down the aisle to marry Chris, I’m convinced I saw a glimpse of heaven.  It was the most on track, on purpose, spiritual moment of my life.
  21. I used to work in McDonalds.  I had all five stars on my badge.
  22. I have ridiculously thick hair.  Having a full blow dry generally takes so long that I end up with a migraine.  My hair is like a rope.
  23. I’m a dreadful procrastinator.  I put things off.  I don’t think I used to as a child but somehow the dreaded put-it-off demon got stuck in my head (I wrote this post a very long time ago but have only just been brave enough to publish it).
  24. I was pretty rubbish at sports at school (see my blog post about P.E.). I tried really hard but to only thing I could really do was dance.
  25. I genuinely often wonder why people would want to spend any time with me! But then when I look at all my beautiful friends, from different stages of my life, I realise I can’t be that bad!




Top 10 things you can do for an easier birth

WHEN it comes to labour and birth, there is no shortage of information out there. But with highs and lows, great labours and horrific stories all up for consumption wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple guide to the best ways to prepare yourself for birth?

Of course, no matter how much you prepare, you can’t out-do nature and sometimes stuff  just goes awry but I hope my guide, derived from experience and research can give you the best chance of your best birth:



You are preparing your body for the biggest sporting challenge of your life. If your labour is long and drawn out or swift and shocking, being as fit as you can possibly be will help you and your body to cope.


Before, during and after labour, keep drinking. It can be hard if you feel queasy so consider drinks you can stomach when you feel sick.


Food may be the last thing on your mind and many women find their digestive systems shut down during labour, so eat what you can, when you can and nibble on high calorie, easy to digest foods.


This may sound vague but those who train or exercise regularly tend to have a greater awareness of their body than those that don’t. Understanding your body may help you to be able to ask for the right support from your medical professional or birthing partner.


The easiest way a baby can exit through the birth canal is if it’s in the LOA (left occiput anterior) position. This means baby’s head is down, back is out and bottom to the left. Classes like Pilates or specialist active birthing classes can help with this.


Self massage or with help from a partner, perineal massage can help soften the perineum and reduce your risk of tears.


As baby moves through the birth canal, his head moulds as your pelvis moves. If you don’t suffer from SPD (pelvis pain) gentle pelvis mobility taught in some Pilates classes or yoga can help prepare it for birth.


Your body will labour best when calm and relaxed. Learning relaxation techniques such as those taught in hypno-birthing can help prepare you to cope with stress or anxiety and ease your labouring.


Your pelvic floor muscles will be vital for pushing out your baby. A strong, well conditioned pelvic floor can withstand stretching and help get baby out without medical intervention. PELVIC FLOOR


Research shows than an active labour is a quicker labour. So walk, squat, laugh or moan your way through it but stay positive and stay active.

Pilates for Pregnancy classes in Epping

To receive the Fit School Women’s Health newsletter email Karen at karenlisalaing@gmail.com

Butts, backs and shoulders: It’s time to focus on your rear

Check out any gym timetable these days and the majority of the classes focus on ‘the bits we can see in the mirror.’ Abs, pecs, biceps, quads – it could be said our training has got a bit vain. Add to this that the first sign of back pain leaves us fearful of training our backs, when this is probably what we needed to do in the first place. Desk jobs, technological and entertainment devices, pushing buggies, sitting on sofas, even running and walking tend to leave us drooping forwards and neglecting our rear, or as I like to call it, ‘everything behind the ears.’

Your body needs balance.  If a tree were to grow all it’s leaves, branches and fruit on one side it would soon start to list. If it got old, dry and weathered and a storm came along, there’s a good chance it would topple over.  The same is true for your back and your body. Your spine is a highly sophisticated suspension system that deserves respect and careful maintenance. So, for example, if you run or spin a lot, you are going to gain very little from an abs class.

So how do you go about getting the fruit on the other side? I’m talking mainly about glutes (your butt), shoulder blades all those amazing muscles that support your spine. If you’re not into gyms, then activities like swimming, especially front crawl, or rock climbing are a great, balancing, type of exercise. In the gym and in a class environment, Pilates, Yoga and Body Balance will offer back work options.

If the weights room is your thing (and if it isn’t – it’s time to make it your thing) incorporating deadlifts, pull ups (and pull downs), rows and glute kick backs into your routine will help bolster your booty efforts. For a fantastic and challenging compound muscle groups workout try alternating squats with deadlifts.


Within your PIlates workouts there are some great exercises specifically designed to target your back, or ‘posterior chain’ including shoulder bridge, leg pull supine, side kick kneeling and of course all of those fantastic exercises performed lying face down from one leg kick to swan dive.

Whatever it is you choose to do, just don’t shy away from the stuff you can’t see. A strong, efficient butt is key to a great core and a healthy back.  Strong, toned triceps and shoulders look great in a dress. And a pert booty is a beautiful booty.