Wednesday, November 20, 2013

All The Reasons You Shouldn't Work Out When You're Pregnant (And Why They're All B.S.)

1) You're tired.
Working out will make you feel more energized and help you sleep better at night.  Whenever possible, workout outside where you can get sun and fresh air.  (Just make sure you have a cell phone with you and people know where you are.)  You can always tell yourself you'll do 5 minutes and then you can stop if you want to.  More often than not you'll probably keep going.

2) You look funny.
No one cares.  Most people are so absorbed in what they're doing (or whether they look funny) that they're not going to pay attention to you.  In fact, if they are looking they're probably thinking... "Wow, if she can do that pregnant, I have no excuses not to do it when I'm not."  You're an inspiration!

3) You're sore.
Stretching and light exercise will make you feel better.  Do some trial and error to see what feels good and what doesn't.  Maybe running is out of the question at the moment, but the elliptical feels OK.  Maybe Zumba is tough, but gentle yoga is helpful.  Maybe you can do exactly what you liked before, but at a slower pace.

4) You now get winded walking up the steps.
The baby is taking up space and pushing up on your lungs, and carrying around more weight makes everyday activities more challenging.  Exercise will mediate the effects of pregnancy on your body and make recovery easier.

5) You don't know what is safe.
Talk to your doctor.  Unless you're high risk or have complications, chances are most will encourage you to be active as much as possible for as long as possible.  There are plenty of workout DVDs and classes designed for mothers-to-be.  Most people advise that you avoid lying on your back after your first trimester and running a marathon probably isn't the best idea, but most activities should still be on the table.  These Tracy Anderson DVDs were my favorite during pregnancy.

6) You don't have time.
You're about to have far less time.  It will be much easier to avoid putting on excess weight and to maintain your current level of fitness than it will after a 9 month and 6 week hiatus.  Besides, nothing makes working out more challenging than having a bald, cranky, and endlessly demanding little boss who requires hours of planning to leave the house.

7) You're supposed to be on the couch eating Bon Bons.
You're not sick,  you're pregnant.  It's not an excuse to be lazy.  The decisions you make about your body now don't just affect you and whether you can still squeeze into your favorite jeans, they also affect your little baby.  If you wouldn't feed your baby a Big Mac outside the womb, you probably shouldn't feed him or her fast food inside the womb.  That's not to say you need to go vegan and shun every bit of junk food (I certainly didn't) but you also shouldn't use pregnancy as an excuse to gorge yourself and sit on your butt.  That's not good for anyone.

8) It's uncomfortable.
Again, it's all about finding the right activity and the right intensity.  Working out right now shouldn't be about torturing yourself, about calories burned, pounds lifted, or the speed on the treadmill.  It should be about keeping your blood flowing, your heart pumping, and your body as healthy and relaxed as possible.  If walking and running are a strain with your growing belly, try an exercise support belt.  You can hide it under your shirt and it can make a big difference.

Gabrialla Medium Support Elastic Maternity Belt

And in case you need some more motivation, working out while pregnant may actually raise your child's IQ... College scholarships anyone??

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Friday Inspiration

This morning on my hour-long commute into work, I had an unusual feeling:  Inspiration.  It came as the sunshine of the longest day of the year streamed through my windshield, slowly warming away the goosebumps on my bare arms.  I sipped on my new Friday morning “treat” (a decaf, iced mocha with skim milk and no whip…I’m pregnant, not high maintenance, right?) and listened to my favorite radio hosts babble on about the latest movie premiere, “The Bling Ring.”  It was then that a somewhat shocking thought came into my brain.  These bratty, entitled, self-absorbed morons obviously have some serious issues and are probably everything that is wrong with our society.  What they did was entirely wrong, a terrible example for youth, and they deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law… not just slapped on the wrist because their mommies and daddies can afford high-powered attorneys with fantastic connections.

That was not the shocking part.  The shocking part was that a little voice in the back of my head was whispering, “At least they did something.”  Sure it was something stupid, selfish, and illegal, but still it was something.  They acted.  They were bold.  They make great movie characters because they took a risk.  Instead of sitting on Facebook whining about their entry-level jobs, or the economy, or increasing the dent in their sofa cushions, they went out and lived their lives.

 So with that in mind, I pose this question.  What are you doing?  I’m sure you’re going to work, raising a family, building relationships, paying bills, maybe slogging along on the treadmill for a few minutes each week, but really, what are you doing?  When was the last time that you did something that gave you butterflies in your stomach?  When was the last time that you felt exhilarated?  When was the last time you did something worth talking about? 

 I don’t know what it is that makes us all feel like we’re caught in a vortex of convenience and conformity, but I’m as guilty as everyone else.  I get trapped in my daily routine and those little risks, the tiny leaps of faith toward goals that I want to achieve, seem more and more impossible every day.  Writing a paragraph is akin to scaling a building Spiderman style.  Picking up my NASM Personal Training text book is like asking me to run a mile on my hands.  I work hard, try to go to the gym, come home, eat dinner, and watch The Bachelorette.  Is that bad?  No.  Is it boring, predictable, and a waste?  You betcha.

 I don’t know how you take the first step.  I guess you just do it.  You turn off your brain.  You leap instead of looking.  My fear is that it only gets harder as more things get added to your list… babies, diapers, midnight feedings, carpool, tee ball, dance class, playdates, PTA, parent teacher conferences, colonoscopies, dry cleaning pick up, oil changes, jury duty, etc.  We have to pay bills.  We have to feed our children.  We have to sleep at some point.

Still, there’s something about the Summer… the extra daylight, the warm heat radiating off of the sidewalk, that makes me feel like there’s more energy in the world to be harnessed.  More possibility.  More time.  I honestly don’t know what I should be doing.  Maybe that’s 95% of the battle.  You hear about all of these successful people and it all started with an idea they were passionate about.  A nagging voice they couldn’t ignore.  My nagging voice tells me to eat chocolate.  My nagging voice tells me that I have something to contribute, I just don’t know what it is yet.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My 5 Pregnancy Favorites (And the 5 Things I'm Living Without)

My 5 Pregnancy Favorites:

1) My L.L. Bean Plastic Water Bottle:  My sweet cousin gave this to me for Christmas two years ago and it has never come in more handy!  Whether I'm trying to drink 40 oz in the hour and a half before an ultrasound or just trying to stay hydrated during the day, the measurement marks on the side are really helpful.  I take it everywhere with me, usually with a splash of juice or lemonade at the bottom.  Mike usually asks me how my Outward Bound Trip went or when I'm heading on my camping trip, but hey, whatever works!

2) Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Workout DVDs:  As someone who has always relied on working out to stay healthy and sane, trying to figure out what is safe and smart to do when you're pregnant is a little intimidating.  I don't want to be lazy, but I don't want to be stupid either.  Tracy's DVDs come in a set with a different workout video for each month of pregnancy.  I bought them on sale on Amazon for $20 and have already more than gotten my money's worth!  (I will say that I feel like all of the butt lift moves are the same though, which gets old.)

3) Mocktails:  I thought I would miss having a nice glass of wine with dinner, but I quickly realized that I actually don't miss alcohol, just the feeling that a night is "special" or a "celebration" because you're drinking something fun.  I've had a couple of virgin margaritas, daiquiris, sparking grape juice, and other mocktails and they really make it much easier (and more fun) to go without the real stuff.

4) Starbucks Decaf Iced Mocha Lattes:  Decaf coffee kind of stinks, and while I've always taken hot coffee to work with me everyday, the hot weather has made it totally unappealing, so once a week I've been stopping by Starbucks to get a Skim Grande Decaf Iced Mocha (man, that's a pretentious mouthful, isn't it?).  It makes me so much happier!

5) A New Bra: Apparently some parts of me are growing faster than others, so it was very helpful to go in and get remeasured by someone who knew what they were doing!  Turned out my size hadn't changed, but I definitely needed something that was a little more supportive.  It's made such a difference.

And the 5 Things I'm Going Without:

1) A Belly Band: I read about it on blogs and was sure I'd have to invest in one, but frankly the idea of walking around with my pants unzipped and a spandex band around my waist didn't really sound appealing.  I held off on buying one until I "needed it" and just never did.

2) A Husband Pillow:  With the heat outside and the heat of a real husband, the idea of a giant pillow in my bed is not appealing at all.  Maybe I'll change my tune (and yes, I already really miss sleeping on my back) but so far I'm saving my money.

3) A Ton of New Clothes:  When I got pregnant I did a lot of online browsing the maternity sections of Loft, Gap, Old Navy, and Destination Maternity but I never ended up buying anything and I'm so glad I didn't.  I wanted to make sure that I was buying the right size at the right time and not getting a ton of clothes for the wrong season that I would never wear.  I know I will need things, but I don't want to buy a bunch of stuff that I don't need just because it's fun to shop again.  I've also had some very nice people give me very nice hand me downs, so that will help too!

4) The Pregnancy Checklist on The Bump:  I learned my lesson with Wedding Planning.  Nothing stressed me out more than The Knot's ticking clocks telling me (literally) I had 147 overdue wedding items on my checklist.  On The Bump (just to add insult to injury) they use crying baby faces instead of ticking clocks.  I'm ignoring them all.  I listen to my doctor and follow along with What to Expect When You're Expecting, and that's enough for me.  No more added stress needed.

5) Flats: So far I'm sticking with my wedges.  Here's hoping that doesn't mean I have swollen feet down the line as punishment!

Almost Halfway!!

So I'm now halfway through week 19 and things have changed dramatically!  I feel so much better than I did in the first few weeks of pregnancy.  Having everyone know has been such a huge relief, and for the most part friends, family, and coworkers have been unconditionally supportive and kind.  I can't tell you how grateful I feel to have so many wonderful people in my life, or how lucky this baby will be to have so many people around to love it!

We have our anatomy ultrasound shortly and I can't wait!  It was amazing to see how much the baby changed from the week 8 ultrasound (a little kidney bean) to week 12 when you could see a perfect profile and he or she really looked like a baby!  I can't wait to see what a difference another couple of months has made.

My energy levels have been better, although I seem to feel fantastic for 2 days and then exhausted on day 3.  I have definitely noticed that my endurance when I run is waaayyy down.  I'm definitely breathing for two!  I feel out of shape, but I try to remind myself that this is an important part of life and that running quickly or really far isn't the goal right now.  I take more walking breaks and certainly don't sprint.  Other days I walk or do a pregnancy workout DVD.

I haven't had to buy any maternity clothes yet, but I did buy a skirt and a couple pairs of capris in 1 or 2 sizes up, which I've been living in.  It's funny that I think my bump grows as the day goes on... I feel like Pinocchio.  By bedtime I think I look super pregnant, but some mornings you can't tell much at all. Summer dresses have been amazing for being comfortable, still fitting me, and camouflaging my stomach.

Of course, there have still been times when I feel totally freaked out or overwhelmed.  It is amazing and terrifying to know that I will never make decisions with only myself in mind again.  As a self-admitted control freak, it is difficult for me to have no idea what (or who!) the future holds.  I guess that's part of the fun?!?!!

Running Pregnant

In my life I have worn many labels.  A freshman.  An English major.  A Pi Phi.  The girl whose dad died.  A marathon runner.  A Phillies Ballgirl.  A copywriter.  An employee.  A newlywed.

As I get ready to start my entree into the new label of "mom" which I hope to carry for the rest of my life (and maybe someday supplement with "grandmother") I find myself aching to remember who I am at my very core, away from being a soon-to-be mom or a happy-to-be wife.  For me, a big part of that is running.  I have been running for as long as I can remember, from the time that it was sprinting out the back door and into the backyard for no reason other than it was there.  I love running.  I love it like a family member... It's a relationship that is sometimes comforting, other times aggravating.  It can sustain you and simultaneously exhaust you.  It can make you feel more happy and alive than you've ever been, or make you feel like a big fat loser.

Mostly I love running because it makes me feel like the best version of me, which is why the pregnant version of me has been wanting to run so badly.  I am fortunate that my doctors have assured me that I can continue to exercise as long as I'm smart about it and listen to my body.  Since my body decided to give me awful back pain followed by a cold that knocked me straight into bed for two days, my workouts have been on the tamer side.  Lots of walking, some elliptical, some treadmill jogging, a little cross training (but after my back gave out again during jumping jacks, this had to be adjusted), one On Demand prenatal yoga class, and one soggy but satisfying hill run on a rainy Saturday morning.

Then today on a beautiful 68 degree holiday, after an almost 10-hour night's sleep, I laced up my sneakers, hit the foam roller, and headed out onto my favorite running route.  I ran this route as a student, a graduate, and on the morning of my wedding.  I ran it through every job I've ever had, and I can so clearly remember what I was thinking or worrying about at any given spot on the road.  It seemed only fitting to be running it again today (even if I had to stop at a restaurant for a pee break... even though I went twice before I left) at 11 weeks pregnant.

It seemed impossible to believe that 6 months ago I ran my 4th marathon, but all in all, I felt great.  I made sure not to let myself get too out of breath and cut off about a mile and a half, but I finished 5 1/2 miles feeling strong and happy and more like myself than I had in months.  From the outside, I knew no one could tell anything was different.  Even in tight running pants and a t-shirt I'm lucky not to be showing yet.  From the inside, I know that everything is, but days like today give me confidence that somehow in 6 weeks, 6 months, and 6 years, I'll still be able to remember who I am and what is important to me with a quick lacing of my sneakers.

The View from Week 11

***A little disclaimer before I begin: Now that I am into my second trimester and we have told people our news, I feel comfortable putting some of my thoughts before my pregnancy was public out in the open.  I realize that there are many wonderful people in the world struggling to get pregnant or struggling to find a perfect person to start a family with.  I wish I could give everyone happiness and peace of mind and the magic ability to make those things happen.  To you, the statements below might seem selfish or make me a bad mom already, and for that I apologize.  That said, I wanted to put my honest feelings out there because I think as women it's easy to act like things are easy (wedding planning on a budget, pregnancy, dieting, great hair like Kate Middleton, a perfect figure, etc.) and that we have it all together when really we're drowning trying to keep up.  Sometimes I believe the most helpful and refreshing thing can be finding something or someone you can relate to to make you feel like you're OK after all and not crazy or "bad" for having a hard time, even with things that you know are a blessing.  My intention here is just to be honest, and if one other pregnant woman (or person who will someday be pregnant or at some point was pregnant) feels a tiny bit relieved reading it, well than it was worth it.  I am so grateful to get to start this phase of my life, and I feel so blessed everytime I hear a heartbeat or see an ultrasound.  However, that doesn't mean I don't have days when I'm exhausted, or frustrated, or feel totally alone.  There you go, disclaimer complete.***

Saturday I hit 11 weeks.  One more to go until I'm "safe" to tell the world.  In some ways, things have gotten easier.  We had our first ultrasound around 9 weeks, and to finally get to see a heartbeat was amazing.  It was a tiny white flash, like a lightening bug on crack, flickering again and again and again.

It was so validating.  Yes, I'm really pregnant, I'm not just lazy or feeling strange because I ate too many bean burritos.  Yes, there is a real life person in there!  I don't know whether it's because this is my first child, or if I don't have a good imagination, or whether I'm already a bad mother (I certainly hope not) but I have a hard time picturing this baby... what he or she will look like (although Mike and I are both convinced it's a boy), how he or she will behave, what my life will be in 6 months, 9 months, or a year.  I think that has made a lot of my pregnancy symptoms "feel" worse because I can't seem to picture this wonderful reward that I'm going through this for... it seems too distant to grasp, like my brain just can't make sense of it yet, and in the meantime I've just had a really strange illness for the last 7 or so weeks that has taken over my body and turned my energy levels into mush.  Seeing the baby helped it feel real, and since then I've carried his or her little picture inside my purse.  (Which is far more fun than viewing and reviewing at a stick with two pink lines on it.)

It has also been easier because now a couple of people know.  We told our moms the weekend of Mother's Day and Mike's dad a couple of days after.  It was so fun to see their excitement, and it's so nice to have more people to confide in.  Having to pretend that you're not pregnant for the majority of everyday is just exhausting.  It's a crazy ruse of sucking in your stomach, coming up with endless reasons not to participate in anything involving sushi, lunch meat, unpasturized cheese, alcohol, caffeine, team sports, tough mudder/spartan races, shopping for clothes, flying anywhere in 3-6 months, etc.  It's amazing how often these items come up when you are trying to avoid them at all costs.

Still, I worry.  I don't want to talk about names or look at baby clothes until I'm out of the miscarriage woods (although it doesn't seem like you get to stop worrying about that until you have a healthy baby in your arms).  I worry about getting through long workdays and working weekends without a break.  I worry about how this new addition will affect my career.  I worry about how people will react when we tell them.  I worry about finances and life insurance.  I worry about what I'll wear to upcoming weddings.  I think of each month and event to come now in terms of how pregnant (read how BIG) I'll be when it gets here.

Still, I know I am so lucky.  I am blessed to have been able to get pregnant.  I am blessed that so far things have gone well.  I am blessed to have a loving and supportive husband.  I am so fortunate to have heath insurance.  I can only hope and pray that things continue this way.

Weeks 6 and 7

***A little disclaimer before I begin: Now that I am into my second trimester and we have told people our news, I feel comfortable putting some of my thoughts before my pregnancy was public out in the open.  I realize that there are many wonderful people in the world struggling to get pregnant or struggling to find a perfect person to start a family with.  I wish I could give everyone happiness and peace of mind and the magic ability to make those things happen.  To you, the statements below might seem selfish or make me a bad mom already, and for that I apologize.  That said, I wanted to put my honest feelings out there because I think as women it's easy to act like things are easy (wedding planning on a budget, pregnancy, dieting, great hair like Kate Middleton, a perfect figure, etc.) and that we have it all together when really we're drowning trying to keep up.  Sometimes I believe the most helpful and refreshing thing can be finding something or someone you can relate to to make you feel like you're OK after all and not crazy or "bad" for having a hard time, even with things that you know are a blessing.  My intention here is just to be honest, and if one other pregnant woman (or person who will someday be pregnant or at some point was pregnant) feels a tiny bit relieved reading it, well than it was worth it.  I am so grateful to get to start this phase of my life, and I feel so blessed everytime I hear a heartbeat or see an ultrasound.  However, that doesn't mean I don't have days when I'm exhausted, or frustrated, or feel totally alone.  There you go, disclaimer complete.***

The last two weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster.  I hurt my back doing a workout that I did completely pain-free a week before and had to spend an entire off day lying on the couch with a pillow between my legs, totally uncomfortable and unable to take any pain killers to help.  Whenever I get sick or injured I can’t help but feel like I’m a bad person… like I obviously did something wrong to deserve this punishment.

We also had our first doctor’s appointment this week, which was a little bit of a downer as well.  We didn’t get any sort of ultrasound, which I was really hoping for not only to make this all seem real, but because the chances of miscarriage go down so much when you do.  Instead, I got a script for a blood test that I have to go get done elsewhere and a lot of information about future testing that I found totally terrifying.  The worst part for me was that even after they do all this testing there are still false positives and false negatives and even though you’ve given a million vials of blood and  read outdated magazines in dozens of waiting rooms, the best news they can give you is that there’s an 80% chance that your baby won’t have this disease, or a 90% chance that they won’t have that one.  Somehow those odds don’t do it for me, especially since you could be making life-changing decisions based on false information.  It was not remotely comforting to me, just frustrating, and a reminder that even though reaching the end of each week feels like a big milestone to me, there is soo much road yet to travel. 

So many doctor’s appointments that I have to try to travel an hour both ways to and hope that no one at work minds.  So many clothes that will no longer fit.  So many more nights when I will wake up at 4 a.m. (it’s like clockwork now) to go to the bathroom.  So many more worries.  More days when I alternate between nauseous and famished.  Many more months until I feel like myself again, if I ever do.  I realize that this is a blessing, not a burden.  That many women would give up everything just to be able to have these “problems,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard or scary when it happens.

It’s been difficult hiding my “condition” from everyone, especially when I’m working 12-hour days with a long commute and not always feeling well.  It’s amazing how many times I haven’t been able to do something, even in the last month, because I’m pregnant.  Dinners out with friends who would absolutely notice that I didn’t order a glass of wine, office happy hours, work yoga classes that I’d love to take but can’t because there’s no sly way to tell the teacher I’m pregnant so I don’t get in any positions that would be a bad idea.  No easy responses to friends and coworkers who ask why I’m not signing up for this race or that one.  No easy explanation for why I hurt myself working out, doing something that was easy a couple of weeks ago.  No one to complain to (but Mike) about how hard it is to give up caffeine, or to make it through a workday when you feel like you might faint or vomit at any second.  A million doctor’s appointments to schedule without anyone catching on, or worse, thinking you’re going on job interviews.   Not feeling comfortable asking about maternity leave benefits because then everyone will know.  Feeling paranoid that people are on to me, or that they saw me quickly closing windows on  So much uncertainty. 

And then there’s the funny stuff.  The crazy dreams (and waking fantasies) about random food.  Last night it was egg sandwiches and White Dog Parmesan Truffle Fries with their amazing dipping sauce.  Actually, maybe that’s all of the funny stuff, so I guess it hasn’t been so much of a rollercoaster as just a really hard couple of weeks feeling kind of alone and frustrated.  Maybe I need a different doctor who gets me better.  Maybe I need to buck up and stop whining, or maybe I really just need a good night’s sleep.

My First Two Weeks of Pregnancy

***A little disclaimer before I begin: Now that I am into my second trimester and we have told people our news, I feel comfortable putting some of my thoughts before my pregnancy was public out in the open.  I realize that there are many wonderful people in the world struggling to get pregnant or struggling to find a perfect person to start a family with.  I wish I could give everyone happiness and peace of mind and the magic ability to make those things happen.  To you, the statements below might seem selfish or make me a bad mom already, and for that I apologize.  That said, I wanted to put my honest feelings out there because I think as women it's easy to act like things are easy (wedding planning on a budget, pregnancy, dieting, great hair like Kate Middleton, a perfect figure, etc.) and that we have it all together when really we're drowning trying to keep up.  Sometimes I believe the most helpful and refreshing thing can be finding something or someone you can relate to to make you feel like you're OK after all and not crazy or "bad" for having a hard time, even with things that you know are a blessing.  My intention here is just to be honest, and if one other pregnant woman (or person who will someday be pregnant or at some point was pregnant) feels a tiny bit relieved reading it, well than it was worth it.  I am so grateful to get to start this phase of my life, and I feel so blessed everytime I hear a heartbeat or see an ultrasound.  However, that doesn't mean I don't have days when I'm exhausted, or frustrated, or feel totally alone.  There you go, disclaimer complete.***

For me, I thought the hardest things about the start of pregnancy would be giving up coffee and wine.  Coffee has been my reason for getting out of bed for at least the last ten years, and on the very rare occasions that I have missed it, I've usually had a massive headache by the afternoon.  Wine is my reward for a long day, or a great treat with a nice meal out at a restaurant.  It makes me feel like I'm on vacation.  It makes my shoulders unclench and it makes me feel like I can breathe more easily.

So far, I couldn't have been more wrong.  In just over two weeks of knowing that I was pregnant, I haven't really missed wine at all.  I'm down to a cup of coffee that is 1/2 half caff and 1/2 decaf, and I haven't really had any headaches.  I've been working out a lot, drinking a lot of water, and trying to eat like a healthy mother-to-be, so I'm sure that has helped, but overall it's been OK.

The hardest part for me has actually been the total loss of control over my life and my body.  Pregnancy is like eating a couple of raw eggs and just waiting to see how your body reacts.  Will I throw up?  Will I feel fine?  Will I spend the next 2 weeks burping?  Who knows? That's the "fun" of the game!  I have no idea how I'm going to feel.  One day I am so exhausted that I literally can't keep my eyes open (that was last Monday... I came home, ate an orange, fell asleep for an hour and a half, and only woke up because I was drooling on my pillow).  Then Tuesday, I felt fine.  One day I will be ravenous, the next totally normal.  It's like hormone Russian roulette.  

For a crazy, planning, control freak like me, it's a nightmare.  I have no idea whether I'll wake up one day with morning sickness, or whether I'll be one of the lucky ladies who avoid it all together.  I don't know whether I'll be OK to make it through big work meetings.  I have no idea when my clothes will stop fitting me, or when it will suddenly become obvious to everyone that I'm pregnant.  I don't know when to tell people, and not having any women to talk to about this has been hard.  We have a doctor's appointment next Monday, so hopefully we'll get confirmation then that the baby is healthy and A-OK, and maybe down the line we'll feel more comfortable about telling people.

Until then, I do think about what would happen if I had a miscarriage.  I wonder when other people had theirs.  I worry about how I would get to the hospital from work.  I worry that our child could have down syndrome, or a heart defect, or cystic fibrosis.  I worry that I won't be able to handle pregnancy or motherhood.  I read a lot of blogs and try to match my symptoms and weeks up to theirs.  I guess the blogs and "What to Expect When You're Expecting" are my version of a crystal ball... my only way of trying to see into the future.

Every day I feel like I'm just trying to stay on this side of sane.  I'm trying not to get overwhelmed.  I'm worried about finances, about work, and about how my relationship with Mike will change.  I'm worried that I'll drive him nuts by only talking about the baby for the next 9 months.  I worry that I'll never get my body back, that I'll have to say goodbye to all of the clothes that I love, and that I'll never feel attractive again.  It's all very intimidating.  Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person that has ever gone through this, and I have to remind myself that every single person on Earth is a result of this process.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My New Favorite Saturday Morning Workout

I apologize for my absence!  Mike and I bought a house in February and it seems like every free second since has been spent painting, rearranging, and making trips to Goodwill!

I have also been spending my free time studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer through NASM.  That's how I came up with the workout below.

The beauty of this workout (in my totally-not-humble opinion) is that you can do it at home with no equipment (although a foam roller and a couple of weights might help).  It shouldn't take more than 40 minutes, and can be adjusted for any skill level.  You can take long breaks between exercises or move right from one to another.  If you want to add weights to the squats, lunges, or step ups, go right ahead.

I love it for Saturday mornings, when I don't feel like getting dressed in 15 layers, driving to the gym and taking off 14 layers, working out, and then layering up again to drive home.  With this workout you can be finished and onto the next thing, no driving necessary.

My New Favorite Saturday Morning Workout
(Click on the exercises below for videos of each move)

Foam Roll and Stretch (:30 on any tight area)

Then move on to this:

50 Jumping Jacks
50 Squats 
50 Jumping Jacks
25 Front Lunges (Each Leg)
50 Skaters
25 Back Lunges (Each Leg)
50 Skaters
50 Push Ups On Knees (or not if you're Hard Core)
50 Step Ups
50 Bridge
50 Step Ups
:50 Plank (Enjoy his Boston accent)
50 Lateral Jumps Over Foam Roller
50 Bicep Curls (25 on Each Side)
50 Lateral Jumps Over Foam Roller
50 Bicycle Crunches
:50 Run Up and Down Steps
50 Side Crunches (25 on Each Side)
:50 Run Up and Down Steps
25 Lower Ab Criss Cross
25 Lower Ab Leg Lift

Foam Roll and Stretch

Thursday, February 7, 2013

5 Cheap and Easy Valentine's Day Upgrades

There is nothing that I love more than the sight of burly, unshaven men toting red heart balloons down the street or schlepping pink and white flowers up to the register at the supermarket.  I understand that Valentine’s Day is a miserable day for anyone who doesn’t have a significant other.  I do.  But somehow, watching all of the men around quite literally wear their hearts on their sleeves (—or err—in their hands?) restores my faith in humanity.  It is an instant and obvious reminder that we all are human.  We have hearts and homes, people to love and people to love us.  We have whole lives apart from the :30 seconds we might spend with a stranger in line at a grocery store.  I love that.

So in honor of this totally-made-up holiday meant to torture the single AND those in a relationship who are destined to do, make, get, or say the wrong thing, I wanted to provide some mostly inexpensive upgrades on the ways to honor your loved one this Valentine’s Day.

1)      The Card.  As any kindergartener can tell you, Valentine’s Day cards are an important way to define the relationships in your life.  Does little Jimmy get the My Little Pony card or Dora the Explorer?  Did he write, “from” or “love”?  Girls always read the card, and while guys might not admit it, I have it on good authority that many of them have cards hidden in piles in their sock drawer, so I’m pretty sure they like them too.  I mean, who doesn’t like being told that they’re adored?

Upgrade:  The letter.  I think it’s safe to say that most women assume you spend very little time picking out the Valentine’s Day card you give them, and really only focus on what you scribble in blue ink at the bottom.  Why not save your $4.25 and make the whole message the scribbled blue ink at the bottom?  It will mean a lot more.  Not sure what to say?  Here’s a start.  “I love you.  You make my life better.  I’m so glad you picked me.”  You hear that?  It’s the sound of every woman in America collectively saying, “Awwwwww.”

2)      The Candy.  While I’m sure that Mr. Russell Stover was able to send his great, great, great, great grandchildren to college on the profits of those red heart-shaped boxes covered in cellophane, this candy can come with a conundrum.  First of all, I am convinced that no one actually likes half of the flavors.  What is nougat anyway?  It looks like Pepto Bismol, tastes like modeling clay, and is a great way to make sure you reach the deductible on your dental insurance.  Plus, we always have to offer you some, and then those empty calories do nothing but undo all of the work we did in Zumba this week.

Upgrade:  Their candy.  Whether it is Junior Mints, M&M’S, chocolate-covered marshmallows, or Jelly Belly jellybeans, just knowing will get you major brownie points.  Added bonus if you go to an actual candy store to get it instead of just picking it up from the counter of CVS.  It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day themed, but a pink or red ribbon makes it even more special.

3)      The Flowers.  Roses are beautiful and they smell nice and any woman would be happy to get them, but here’s the thing.  Flowers die, and they don’t look very pretty when they’re doing it.  They also require upkeep.  Flowers are a commitment.  I know people love getting them at work and showing off their loving relationship to that snotty know-it-all in Accounting, but the world doesn’t need more baby’s breath.

Upgrade: Time to Stop and Smell the Roses.  The greatest gift you can give a loved one is your time and undivided attention.  I understand that trips can be expensive and often involve added expenses of travel, babysitters, dogsitters, and if you’re really lucky, sunblock.  That said, there is nothing that can recharge a special someone's batteries better than a little break.  Even if it is just a day trip or a night at a local Bed and Breakfast, there is nothing more romantic than actually spending time with the person that you love without the demands of daily life getting in the way.

4)      Jewelry.  You’re good.  No sassy quips necessary.  I have nothing more to add.

5)      The Massage.  I happen to love massages, if for no other reason than for an hour I can lie still and not feel guilty about the 500 other things that I SHOULD be doing.  I’m stuck.  I can’t get up without creating an awkward scene from some sort of romantic comedy that would probably star Meg Ryan.  Therefore I just lie there with my eyes closed and enjoy every second of it.  I do understand, however, that to some people the idea of having a random stranger rub oil all over you while awkwardly trying to make small talk is less than appealing.  For those people may I reccommed…

Upgrade: Real Stress Relief.  You can barely scratch your head these days without hearing someone talk about how stressed out they are.  Everyone is stressed.  Everyone is exhausted.  We’re all overworked and underpaid, trying to balance family and work while lowering our cholesterol, putting something edible on the dinner table, making it to the gym once a month, and keeping the house clean enough that no one thinks to call Human Services.  With that in mind, may I recommend giving your significant other real stress relief?  What drives your loved one totally nuts?  Is it that their car ends up covered in salt or worse, with crumpled up pieces of Cheerios?  Buy them a book of carwashes.  Is it that the house is dirty and an in-law might pop by unannounced at any given second?  Hire a cleaning service.  Is it that they hate figuring out what to do for dinner?  Print out some awesome recipes and make a book out of them.  Can they never find a second to work out?  Buy a few sessions at the gym daycare.  They might be things that no one would be able to buy for themselves without feeling guilty, but as a gift from someone else, they’re pure bliss.

Good Luck and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

20 Things No One Told Me When I Was 20

(Or if they did I was too stubborn to listen...)

1) Travel now. I know you might not have a lot of money and your vacation days are probably limited (not to mention the guilt that you might get from your employer if you actually use them) but getting away will only get harder as you get older. Heck, take a year to travel. No one will notice a 12-month gap in your resume and the stories you’ll have will make any job interviews to come far more interesting. You’re at an age where it is totally acceptable to live off of pizza and beer and share a room with 4 other strangers. Take advantage of the world’s hostel systems. Just go!

 2) You don’t have to know anything yet.  You just have to be willing to take the time to figure it out.  It’s OK if you don’t know what you want in a relationship or what your dream job is. The people who fell in love with their soul mate in 8th grade or have known that they wanted to be a doctor since they were five years old are freaks.  Stories about people who try, fail, and have to start all over again are far more interesting than the ones about people who have it all figured out already.

 3) Stop spending all of your money on clothes. Suddenly you have disposable income and you need a new work wardrobe, and clothes for going out, clothes for the gym, clothes for shopping, and clothes for hanging out…. If you don’t wear them in a year, you don’t need them. Stop shopping and save your money for important things… like flights to exotic places.

 4) Why marriage is work. Before I got married, I always wondered about this. I think the idea is that when you get married, suddenly it’s not all about you anymore. You can’t spend $5,000 on a sofa just because you feel like it. You can’t quit your job and move across the country without consulting your significant other. You have to agree on things, especially the big things… where you want to live, what you want to spend money on, what you need to be happy, whether you want to have kids, how you feel about religion, and where you spend your time. You have to talk, even when you don’t feel like it and listen even when you really just want to watch TV. Relationships take effort, but they take more effort if you don’t have the same goals, values, interests, and preferences, or if you’re a super-independent person who doesn’t want to have to consult someone else before you make big changes.

 5) Stop fighting your body. After years of stressing over labels, counting calories, and slaving away on the treadmill, I realized that I ended up in just about the same place on December 31stas I had on January 1st. When I stopped worrying about all of it, ate when I was hungry, worked out to be strong and sane instead of to lose weight, and stopped stressing when I ate ice cream and whoopie pies (which is daily), my weight got to a happy place. My pants fit, I feel good, and now I can focus my attention on far more important things than the number on the scale.

 6) In the world of beauty, sometimes experience trumps youth. Sure, at 20 you probably have great skin, you can get away without wearing makeup, and throwing your hair in a ponytail still looks cute and not silly. That said, nothing beats experience for learning what works for you and you alone. The fact that something is trendy does not mean it will look good on you. Just because something is hanging on the rack at your favorite store does not mean that you should take it home with you. Time will help you know what will look good on you before you even try it on. You’ve learned how to apply makeup in 5 minutes or less, how to camouflage dark circles under your eyes, and how to make the most of whatever assets you have. In other words, stop stressing that these are your best years and you'll turn into a troll as soon as you hit 30. That's why they make wrinkle cream.

 7) Things never "get easier", they just "get different." My very wise husband told me that once and it’s true. At 20 it might be that you have no money, you don’t have the work experience you need to get the job you want, you want to lose 5 pounds, you haven’t found “the one,” and you still live at home. At 30 you might have your dream job but realize that it comes with stresses or frustrations that you didn’t account for. You might have moved out, but realized that oil is expensive and when the toilet starts leaking it’s up to you to fix it. You may be in a great relationship, but he/she might live halfway across the country and neither of you really want to move. You may have had to deal with a significant loss or a health issue. You may have had your heart broken. The best we can do is deal with our circumstances now… not pine for the past or long for the future. Every situation has its positives and negatives... the positives can just be more difficult to see when you're right in the thick of things.

8) Where you go to college doesn’t really matter all that much.  Neither does your first job, what sorority or fraternity you join, or what your parents do for a living.  I remember thinking my entire life depended on where I went to college, and then later, which sorority gave me a bid.  Sure you might make some good connections and it might look nice on a resume or sound good at a dinner party, but there are plenty of incredible entrepreneurs who didn’t go to Ivy League schools, have memberships into secret societies, or have extremely well-connected parents.  That’s not a shot at the people who do--use any advantage that you can--just a reminder to the rest of us that just because something doesn’t go your way early on, that doesn’t mean your life is ruined.

9) Guys/Girls like girls/guys who make them work for it. “It” being anything… your number, a date, a kiss, or an I love you. Just watch the Bachelor. The guy inevitably goes for the girl who doesn’t gush about him from day one--the girl who is sweet and polite, but not easy or desperate.  To clarify, this is not the same as playing hard to get... it's expecting someone to treat you with respect, to make an effort to "court" you, to spend time getting to know you, and it's cutting them loose when they don't.  It also means they should get the same respect, effort, and time from you.

10) You alone are responsible for your health. Doctors are great, but they have tons of other patients and they will never care about you as much as you care about you. Read your medical records. Speak up about your symptoms. Ask questions. Follow up. Pay attention. Get second opinions. Don't just assume that your doctor will catch or notice everything. You are your best advocate. 

11) Floss. The plaque in your mouth is the same plaque that can build up in your heart. Gross.

 12) Wear sunscreen. Once you hear the doctor say, “I think this could be melanoma,” and start thinking about Izzie on Gray’s Anatomy you don’t care about being tan ever again. It’s not worth it.

13) Planning a wedding kind of stinks. Especially if you’re the kind of person who tries to make everyone happy.  So if you’re getting married just to have a wedding, don’t, and if you think planning is going to be the thing that gets you through a tough time, it won’t.

14) You’ll probably have to rough it. Especially now, with a crummy job market. No one is going to offer you your dream job on a silver platter, complete with a 6-figure paycheck, 5 weeks’ vacation, health care, and total independence to do what you love. You have to pay your dues. Usually that means taking a lower salary, working longer hours, and doing the silly errands that no one else feels like doing. That's OK. Say "Yes" to any errand or task and you'll move up in a hurry.

15) Not everyone is going to like you. I’m still working on this one, but I know it’s true and you can let it drive you crazy or accept it. I’m still in the drive you crazy phase, but I’m trying.

16) No one has it all figured out. Even if they look totally put together all the time. Even if they seem to have the perfect spouse, house, car, career, and post lots of annoying vacation photos on Facebook. We all have issues, flaws, and things that scare us to death. Everyone has hang ups.

17) Negotiate. Before I worked in sales, I was mortified at the idea of asking anyone for a discount on anything ever. Now it just seems silly not to. I'm not saying I would go into The Gap and offer them $20 for a $25 t-shirt, but when you're trying to get the best deal on a cell phone, or a wedding band, or a hotel room, it never hurts to ask. Even just saying, "Is that the best rate you can offer me?" can be effective. As long as you're polite and realistic, it's totally appropriate.

18) They can't shoot you. This one came from my grandmother, when I was telling her how nervous I was for the first day of a new job. Her response to me was, "What are you so afraid of? They can't shoot you." It was totally the perspective I needed. No one ever died of embarrassment. If you want something (assuming it's legal, ethical, and moral) go after it. At worst you might fail--and OK if you do it's embarrassing. People will talk about you behind your back. You will feel like a big, giant loser. Oh well. Life is short and so are people's attention spans. They'll move on and so will you. The big losers are the people who sit in cubicles thinking of the great idea they had that they never followed through with.

19) Volunteer.  Give back in any way that you can.  Start yesterday.  The world needs as much positive energy as it can get.  You have time.  You have skills.  Every minute helps.

20) Stop procrastinating.  Do what you love and start today.  Don’t wait until your changes have to be big, dramatic, and scary.  If you don’t know what you love, just do something.  You can only find out what you like by trying things.  Do the thing you don’t feel like doing.  Maybe it’s homework, maybe it’s getting on the treadmill, maybe it’s calling a potential dream employer to find out what experience you need to get a job there.  In the words of an underpaid, freelance copywriter, “Just do it.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


It's funny how a new empty calendar can momentarily inspire all of us to change... to be better, healthier, more interesting people who suddenly have time to volunteer, take up ballroom dance, sleep 8 hours a night, do regular cardio, and become gourmet chefs.  Somehow a new year makes anything seem possible.  Every magazine from Runner's World to Guns and Ammo screams with headlines of, "New Year, New You,"!  We're supposed to lose 10 lbs., get organized, spend more wisely, save more often, eat organic, and become experts in our own ancestry.  

I am actually a firm believer in New Year's Resolutions.  Not the ones that make you feel guilty and not good enough, but the ones that inspire you and get you one step closer to something you've always dreamed of.  There is something about putting things in writing that makes them seem more attainable, more real.

In 2013 I want to take more risks.  I want to have more fun.  I want to spend less time stressing and worrying and more time remembering what I love.  I want to stop feeling so bogged down by the things I'm supposed to do and spend more time doing what really makes me happy.  That's it.  I'm not making promises to lose 10 lbs. or drink more water, to actually use my vision benefits, or write more.  Frankly, I just don't need that kind of pressure.

So here's to you, 2013.  I'm in.  Happy New Year everyone.  Hope it's the year that your wildest dreams come true.