Thursday, February 19, 2015

Diet overhaul

While I have made no attempts to diet since Wyatt was born, I have tried to make better choices about what I'm eating. But when the scale doesn't budge for 2 months, your clothes aren't getting any looser, and you find yourself perpetually starving, it's time to reevaluate. I decided to track a few days of my food in MyFitnessPal, and YIKES. While my 3-meals-a-day were healthy, all the in-between snacking (there was a lot of this) was not. And when I took a look at the macros, I was downing a sizable portion of carbs, too much fat, and hardly enough protein. I always assumed I was hungry all the time from breastfeeding, but I think it has to do with the major lack of balance in my diet. My fallback snacks became quick grab-and-go items that I could eat while nursing, like granola bars, pretzels, crackers, cheese sticks, cookies, etc - essentially, processed, packaged crap. Sure, I'd throw in some carrots with hummus, an apple, and a salad here and there, but clearly, it wasn't enough. 

So I decided to do a little overhaul in my diet by cutting out all the packaged nonsense and stop my mindless eating. I have no mental space these days for the tedious task of calorie counting, and breastfeeding complicates that; so rather than embark on some crazy calorie cutting, which could be detrimental to my milk supply, I thought I'd start with making sure I eat to stay full, and that the calories I'm taking in are good ones, coming from mostly protein, healthy carbs, and good fats. In order to reduce my hunger cravings, I knew I needed to add more protein to my diet. And in order to actually stick with it, I had to make sure everything was prepared and ready to go ahead of time so that I could just grab it out of the fridge, heat it up, and devour. Eating healthy takes much more effort. I don't have time every day to prepare each individual meal I eat, so it's easiest to spend an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon preparing my food for the week, while Brent is here to help with Wyatt. 

I'm now eating about 6-7 small meals a day - each meal has some source of protein - and I've cut out most added sugar. I say 'most' because I do still add a bit of maple syrup to my oatmeal if I have that in the morning, and the vanilla Greek yogurt I have at night for dessert contains some sugar, as well. The first 3-4 days were the hardest. I went through some sugar cravings here and there. But by the end of the first week, I was over it. I stopped feeling hungry all the time, and I've managed to erase the mindless eating. Before, I would find myself scrounging through the pantry multiple times a day to find a snack to curb my appetite - now, I find myself opening it once for the jar of peanut butter. I'm realistic and fit in a cheat meal or two during the week, but I make sure to do it on days I have got a good workout session in. 

Here is what my meals look like on a typical day:



Meal 1:
3 egg whites + 1 egg + 1 C baby spinach + 1/4 C diced tomatoes + 1/4 C diced veggies
1 slice Ezekiel bread + 1 Tbsp Teddie's peanut butter
-or-
1/2 C egg whites
1/2 C oatmeal (made with unsweetened vanilla almond milk) + 1 C berries + 1/2 banana + 1 tsp maple syrup + cinnamon


Meal 2
4 oz chicken breast + 1 C green beans
-or-
4 oz ground turkey + 1 C broccoli


Meal 3:
4 oz chicken breast + salsa + 1/2 sweet potato
-or-
4 oz ground turkey + salsa + 1/2 C brown rice


Meal 4 (Snack):
apple + 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter (I like Teddie's brand)

Meal 5 (Snack)
carrots + 2 Tbsp hummus

Meal 6:
4 oz ground beef + 1-2 C bell peppers and onions (recipe)
-or-
4 oz pork tenderloin + 2 C salad greens + 1 Tbsp dressing

Meal 7 (Dessert!):
1/2-1 C Chobani nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt

...I sometimes forego the dessert and opt for a glass of wine instead :-)


And quite possibly, the most important part...WATER. Lots of water. At least 3 liters a day, and that's if I don't run. Typically, I average about 4 liters a day when I work out. I need the extra hydration for nursing, and it's quite filling. When I'm consistently drinking water throughout the day, I find that my urge to snack goes down drastically.

So yeah, it's a lot of food prep - BUT I have to say, it is so worth it. After only two weeks of cutting back on packaged junk and eating cleaner, I feel better - even if it's all in my head. And actually, my scar feels less inflamed even! One of the perks is that I've already lost 2 lbs - so that leaves me with 8 more to go until pre-pregnancy weight! I'm hoping by the time I return to work in 6 weeks that most of my old jeans fit again. Cheers to that!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Taco Filling Sautee

Most of our meals these days are a product of throwing random things in a pan and then hoping for the best. Some nights, we fail miserably, but other nights, we hit the jackpot. This was a product of one of the good nights.

I had all intentions of making a chili-type meal with the beef and peppers, but midway through, I realized I had no more diced tomatoes in the pantry. Seriously, what kind of an Italian am I? So I had to improvise. I threw some Marsala cooking wine in there with a dash of Worcestershire and seasonings, and when I took a bite to try, I realized it tasted oddly familiar. It was like taco filling but without the taco. The Marsala adds subtle sweetness to the mixture in place of the lack of tomatoes, and the spices give a great flavor kick.

It was so good, I'm making it again this week. The best part is it's a one pan kinda meal that only takes about 30 minutes from beginning to end to make. I chopped the veggies while the beef was browning to save time. Time is a precious, precious gift in our house these days - one not to be wasted.


Taco Filling Sautee

Ingredients:
1.25 lb ground beef, 85% lean
1 Tbsp olive oil
Green bell pepper, diced
Red bell pepper, diced
Small onion, diced
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp Marsala wine
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 C shredded cheese, plus additional for serving

Preparation:

  • In large skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain and discard the liquids. Transfer the browned beef to a bowl and reserve for later.
  • In the same skillet over medium heat, heat the oil, then add the peppers and onions. Sauté until softened, about 8-10 minutes, and sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt over the vegetables.
  • Add the ground beef, Marsala, and Worcestershire; stir and cook 2 minutes.
  • Add the salt, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin; stir to combine and cook for 3 more minutes.
  • Stir in 1/4 C of shredded cheese of choice. 
  • Serve topped with additional shredded cheese.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day from Wyatt



Wyatt wanted to stop in and wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. We'll be celebrating at home over a romantic dinner with a babbling - and hopefully not crying - baby in his bouncy chair next to us. Probably rent a movie. Maybe have a glass of prosecco. And if we're feeling particularly wild, we'll stay up past 9 o'clock.

But probably not.




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

V-Day Dessert: Cherry Shortbread Cookies

I haven't posted a recipe in awhile, and I couldn't resist sharing this one just in time for Valentine's Day this weekend. I found it while browsing Pinterest during one of Wyatt's epic marathon nursing sessions back around the holidays, and I finally got around to making it. I always surprise Brent with some homemade sweet of sorts for V-day, and I thought this one would be perfect. You know, because they're pink and red, which basically = Valentine's Day.


Those bright red bits in there are chunks of maraschino cherries, and the cookie's fun pink color is from adding a few tablespoons of maraschino cherry juice to the batter. 

This is a ridiculously simple recipe, and it's a great way to use up that jar of maraschino cherries that you bought for that one time you wanted to make a Mai Tai at home, and then it somehow got shoved to the back of the fridge only to be found again when you are looking for where all your Tupperware disappeared to. Come on, I know I can't be the only one.

The recipe can be found here. The only thing I changed is doubling the maraschino cherry juice - I used 2 Tbsp; and I didn't bother with the white chocolate drizzle.  I was lazy, and they are delicious without it! I allowed the dough to chill overnight in the fridge, and after I scooped and rolled them into balls, I put them back in the fridge while the oven preheated so that they stayed chill. This will result in a nice, soft, puffy cookie. If the cookies are room temp when you cook them, they'll spread a lot more because of all the glorious butter in there.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wyatt: Three Months



My little man is three months old today, and I sit here in disbelief that time could have possibly gone by so fast. I swear, we were just going to the hospital to begin the induction process yesterday. Things have changed SO much in such a short amount of time! 

Wyatt is growing into quite the little wee man these days. And by little, I mean gigantic - at least in my opinion - for a baby. He has already almost doubled his birth weight already. He sure has a healthy appetite, this one. It's crazy to look back on his 1 month pictures compared to now:


He is becoming SO awake and open to the world now. From the second he wakes up in the morning, he is Mr. Observant. He loves to be put in my k'tan wrap while I wander around the house with him so that he can take it all in. Now that he has really great head control, he is twisting and turning his neck to see everything. He especially loves spending time in front of the mirror. We have a giant mirror hanging on the wall in our foyer, and I pass by there multiple times a day so that he can check it out. When he catches his reflection, his eyes grow big, he stares for a bit, then he busts into giggles. It's pretty adorable. 


He's becoming more interested in toys, particularly shoving them into his mouth. ALL THE THINGS go into the mouth these days. He's learning to grasp things much better now, and the second he does, it's an automatic in-the-mouth thing. He's big into his hands right now, too. 75% of the time he's awake, he's jamming his hands into his mouth. He never took a pacifier, but he'll most definitely be a thumb-sucker I think.

He discovered his feet a few days ago, and that was hilarious. He was sitting in his swing just swingin' away, when all of a sudden his foot caught his eye, and he spent the entire time in there trying to bend forward to grab at it. His chubby belly hindered his ability to do so. When he sits in my lap, I try to help him out a bit. He has no idea he owns his feet, and he doesn't yet have the skills to reach out and grab it, but I have a feeling once he does, it'll be his new favorite hobby.

He hasn't consistently rolled over yet, and I'm not sure he's really close. He tolerates tummy time and has impressive neck strength for a dude with a such a big dome (95th percentile!), but he'd much rather be on his back and able to observe everything in the room than be on his belly. 


We had our first illness this month, which was quite scary. Brent caught a cold from his office and did his best to isolate himself from Wyatt, but then a blizzard happened where we were all stuck in the house together for a few days, and sure enough Wyatt became sick, too. We brought him right in to see a doctor, and at the time, he had no fever, his oxygen levels were great, and he was eating fine, so we thought it was a cold. A few days later, it progressively got worse - congestion, sneezing, coughing, labored breathing, wheezing, and loss of appetite - so halfway through the Super Bowl, we were bringing him in to the ER. They swabbed his nose, and he tested positive for RSV. His oxygen was fine, and he had no fever, so we were sent home that night. The poor guy spent the next three days fighting off the worst of it, and now, all that lingers is the occasional cough. It was brutal to hear him wheezing and not being able to do anything about it. He lost a pound in a week because he refused to eat more than a few ounces a day. He's since made up for it, but it was a little scary for awhile! Having a young baby in the winter/flu season is more eventful than I want it to be!


Every day is an adventure with this guy, and I'm so lucky I get to be home with him for so long!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Fourth Trimester


It's called the fourth trimester for a reason - it really is a continuation of the pregnancy. It's a difficult transition for the baby. After being snug in the womb for 9 months, your baby is now introduced to this new world and they are not equipped to deal with all the changes. They rely on you every single second of the day, and it can be quite demanding, especially at first while you're still adjusting. As you adjust, so will baby, but it takes about 3 months for this to happen. We are just coming out of this stage with Wyatt, and he's transitioning more into a little independent young infant now. He loves being in his swing, bouncy chair, and play mat - but I can tell you, he hated ALL of these when we first brought him home. He wanted to be held and nursed all the time - it was very rare that we ever put him down, to be honest. Up until last week, I still held him through most of his daytime naps because that was the only way he would sleep for over an hour at a time. Believe me, I tried putting him in his bassinet, but he would never fully settle into a deep sleep, which would result in increased fussiness at night. Luckily, he's always been a good nighttime sleeper. Now that he's approaching 3 months old, we are starting to transition him to nap in his Rock n' Play during the day, and it's going great! I think he just needed to be ready on his own time.


The fourth trimester is just as hard on the parents as it is the baby, and there's not much you can do to fully prepare for what to expect until you go through it. You get a lot of advice during pregnancy. The advice I wish I had received was how to really prepare for life after the birth-that-you-didn't plan-for.
I was prepared for a vaginal birth, mentally and physically. I expected to endure labor pain, delivery pain, and recovery pain. I envisioned myself at home when my contractions began, experiencing that sudden yet exciting moment of "this is it!" I envisioned myself in the hospital bed, Brent squeezing my hand, holding my shoulder, and telling me to push. I imagined hearing Wyatt's first cry and looking down between my knees to see him being lifted out and placed on me. I imagined being able to get up a few hours after delivery to walk around the room with my new baby, bouncing him to sleep.

The reality was quite different.

I struggled for two weeks after my C-section to even get out of bed. If I dropped something on the floor, I did not have the ability to bend down to pick it up on my own. I wasn't able to lift anything heavier than my baby. I could not drive. I woke up in a pool of sweat every morning as my body continued to shed the extra water I carried from the IV fluids. I experienced over 5 weeks of postpartum bleeding. I had no idea how difficult and time-consuming breastfeeding would be.

Probably the hardest thing that I wasn't prepared for was the emotional roller coaster I would take those first two weeks post-delivery. There's a huge shift in hormones after birth that triggers pretty intense mood swings. Regardless of how much love you feel for your baby and how excited you are to be a mother now, you feel like crying at the drop of the hat. I remember one night once we were home - the first time I was actually alone with Wyatt - Brent ran out to CVS quick to get some things, and while he was gone, Wyatt experienced his first real fussy time. I couldn't get him to stop crying, it was devastating. I thought I was a horrible mother for not being able to soothe my crying baby. I was sleep-deprived, doped up on pain meds, and no matter what I did, Wyatt continued to cry. So I joined him. Some days, I would be sitting watching TV after nursing Wyatt every hour for 13 hours straight, and I would start crying out of nowhere, missing the freedom I once had just two weeks prior. I talked to Brent a lot about these mood swings, and it honestly helped just to have someone there to listen and know what I was going through mentally. He quickly stepped in when I was feeling overwhelmed or upset so that I could have a minute to myself. And just like that, at the two week post-delivery mark, everything evened out, and I felt like myself again.

Another thing I was not prepared for was the C-section scar and insecurity that came with it. I cried every time I looked into the mirror and saw it staring back at me. I hated it. I still hate it. I am not yet one of those women who think it's a beautiful reminder of their baby's birth.  Maybe one day, but I'm not there yet. For about 6 weeks, I had a lovely "C-section pooch" of flabby skin that hung over the scar. I couldn't wear my normal underwear because the band rubbed against the scar, and it hurt, so I lived in granny panties. My maternity pants were still the only ones that fit because of all the inflammation. I lost all feeling around most of the incision area. Now 12 weeks later,  I still haven't recovered feeling. I've grown pretty used to seeing it there, but it's still an insecurity for me. The pooch has slowly dwindled away as my stomach muscles continue to repair where they were cut, but I still have inflammation around the scar. The doctor said it could stick around for 6 months. I can fit back into some of my pre-pregnancy jeans, but anything particularly low rise is still tucked away in the closet. I'm hoping by the time I have to return to work, they will fit, or else I'll be going on a shopping spree!



As the three month mark approaches, I can't believe how much this fourth trimester has rung true for us. I've experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows of my life. I have formed this incredible bond with my amazing baby boy, and I honestly cannot even remember what our life was like without him now, nor do I want to. I love the time we get to spend together each day, just the two of us - plus Jasper, of course! When he wakes up in the morning and sees my face, he smiles this incredibly gum-bearing, open mouthed smile, it melts my heart every day. When I'm nursing him, sometimes he will pull off just to look up at me and smile, then continues right back with what he was doing. When anyone else is holding him and I enter the room talking, he turns to find me. The second I put him in his wrap carrier, he hugs his arms around me, lays his head to my chest, and falls asleep. I can't wait for spring to come so I can take him out for more walks and eventually get a jogging stroller so we can hit the track together!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Getting back to pre-baby shape


The struggle is real, my friends. 

I'm not sure what I expected to happen after giving birth. I have heard both sides of the story: women who lose all their baby weight PLUS more after birth; then there are those who struggle with the remaining 20 lbs. I happened to fall somewhere in the middle. 

I gained a total of 35 lbs in pregnancy - 5 of those pounds were gained in the two weeks that I went overdue - so I was in the upper end of my recommended range. I blame it on all the stress eating, never knowing when labor might approach. I honestly didn't care at all, I knew I would have plenty of time to get rid of it eventually, so I happily indulged. 

Two weeks after giving birth, I braved it and hopped on the scale. Much to my surprise, I had lost 20 lbs. By one month postpartum, I had lost an additional 5 lbs. So I was left with 10 more until I was back to pre-pregnancy weight. I figured no problem, I'm breastfeeding exclusively, this will be easy. 

Uhm, nope. Those 10 extra pounds are still alive and well on my body.  They're like that unwanted guest that just doesn't get the hint to leave at the end of the night. 

Losing weight while breastfeeding can be a tricky thing. Breastfeeding requires one to consume about 500 additional calories a day just to sustain milk supply, so cutting calories to lose weight can be risky. Some women find that if they don't consume enough calories, they retain weight, as the body's way of making sure there is always reserve for the baby's needs. I've also read that some women hold those last few pounds until they wean their baby from nursing. I honestly have not even attempted dieting of any sort and don't plan on it. I make sure I'm eating a healthy diet rich in protein, vegetables, fruits, and good carbs. I figure the weight will come off when it's ready to. In the meantime, I have slowly gotten back into working out as my form of me-time - for not only my physical well-being but my mental well-being. While my full-time job right now is taking care of my baby, it's just as important to take care of myself.

At 7 weeks postpartum, I had my final doctor's appointment and was given the okay to begin exercising again. At this point, I had already been walking pretty regularly, either on the treadmill or outside on days it was above 40 degrees. I felt great so I decided to slowly get back into running. Key word is SLOWLY. That first post-baby run was humbling, to say the least. I did not go above a 10 minute mile on the treadmill at 0% incline, and I was able to make it 1 mile before the pain set in, and I gave up. I took a day off and hopped back on, able to go 2 miles. By the 5th day, I was running 3 1/2 miles in under 35 minutes and feeling really good. Since then, I've been increasing my weekly mileage by a mile each week. I am really in-tune to my body and do not want to risk overdoing it, as I know I'm still recovering from my C-section. Some days, I make it 2 miles before I feel a cramp and have to stop to walk. I only run 3 days a week right now - I honestly don't have time unless Brent is home, and I'm incredibly thankful he takes over baby duties to make it possible for me to return to running. I have a few 5K's I'm aiming to participate in this spring, so it's my goal to continue improving my endurance, as long as I feel well enough to do so.


So on top of running 3x per week, I've been walking on the in between days with Wyatt. On the few days it has been somewhat warm out, I bundle him up, strap him into his stroller, and we hit the outdoors. On the other 99% of days when it's too cold out, I put him in my Moby wrap, and we hit the treadmill together for a 2-3 mile walk. I try to schedule it around his nap time. He typically falls asleep within 5 minutes of being in the wrap, and he'll nap through the whole walk. Let me tell you, carrying a 13 lb baby on your chest while walking 3 miles is just as much of a workout as running! 



Last week, I joined a group called Stroller Strides (FIT4MOM) in the neighboring town. I thought it would be a great way to get more active, get us out of the house through the horrible winter season, and get to know other mom's in the area. For the winter, it's held indoors at a huge activity center on the turf, and when the weather gets warmer, the meetups are at a park outdoors. I half expected the workout to consist of pushing our strollers in circles around the arena while gossiping with the other moms...boy was I wrong. I showed up with my minimalist snap and go stroller, thinking it would be easy peasy. Then I see all these hardcore moms with their double jogging strollers housing their toddler and infant, running laps around me and kicking ass. After the hour-long class, I was shaking all over. This was a legit full-body workout. I am TOTALLY hooked and plan on going all 4 days of the week that they meetup. Wyatt was a champ - this kid LOVES to be in his stroller! - and the ladies are awesome. I'll keep you updated my progress as I continue.