Some women will curse me for this, but I’ve never carried extra weight. Sure, I’ve been more toned at times than other, but I’ve mostly been the same size since high school. Then I had a healthy, full-term baby and like the great majority of women, have a little extra baby padding that needs to come off. There is only one way to accomplish this: healthy whole foods diet (check) and now that my body is healed, exercise.
Exercise is harder when you have extra weight. I’m just now fully appreciating this. Go jog a city block. Come home and strap on a 20 lb backpack and go run again. That sucked, right? According to the film Fork Over Knives, the average American carries 23 extra pounds. I have no doubt that people would enjoy exercise more if they were to shed their proverbial backpack. But there’s only one way (outlined above) to do it, and I’m right there with you.
My quest started in my neighborhood, which is fortuitously the start of the Platte River Parkway, an 11 mile bike path that weaves through most of Casper. I was huffing and puffing on a few hills into Mills, Wyoming but the awesome thing about being “out of shape” is that the massive endorphine dump (also known as an exercise high) comes much, much sooner. I was flying! I was amazing! Why hadn’t I done this sooner? When the endorphins allowed me to get more blood to my brain, I remembered that the bike path was snowy and I was terrified of a bike seat in months prior, which gave me my answer. But the moral of the story is the same: lose weight and feel great. And be careful if you ride with the wind at your back…
Healthy-recipe-of-the-day: Curried French Lentils
I’ve ranted about food before. Whole foods are best, take time to cook, blah blah blah. And while I don’t think that kids are a free “I don’t have time” pass, the first few weeks (months?) after a baby is born is a TOTAL FREE PASS. Read and remember this – one of the BEST gifts you can bring a new baby is food for the parents. They are tired. One of them has been through a major physical event. I can’t speak to the experience for the other partner, but I think it was fairly intense for him, too. Enter convenience foods. Here’s a guide, which is also applicable to students cramming for finals, people recovering from a major surgery, etc.
My mother-in-law came in August and froze gallons and gallons of a variety of homemade soups. I also froze 2-person portions from dinners I cooked instead of slogging through leftovers. This was invaluable.
I was lucky enough to be asked to review a few new cereals from Post shortly after Owen was born. While I’m not normally a cereal girl (except for my homemade granola, of course), a few buzzwords caught my eye, namely “protein” and “less processed”. The new Great Grains Protein Blend cereal comes in two varieties. Cinnamon Hazelnut was largely gobbled up by my sweet-tooth loving husband and my favorite was the Honey, Oats & Seeds. I loved seeing whole pumpkin and sunflower seeds from a mainstream cereal company with more protein per serving than an egg (6g for an egg vs 8g per cup of cereal). Of course, my inclination is to combine the egg and cereal (not in the same bowl silly!) for a nice hearty breakfast.
For lunch/dinner/snack/whattimeisit? haze, I love love love Amy’s Frozen Meals, too. They have more sodium than I would like but the ingredient list is totally recognizable and they have a ton of special diet varieties like dairy-free and gluten-free. Even if the mom doesn’t need a modified diet, a fair amount of breastfed babies have sensitivities to dairy and/or gluten.
One of our neighbors came over a day or two after Owen was born and casually mentioned, “I just made some pheasant* noodle soup, does that sound good?”. Food? Yes, that sounds good. Don’t be shy, don’t be proud. And reciprocate down the road.
*This is Wyoming. People hunt. Chew carefully.
I wasn’t sure how intense labor would be for me. After all, I’ve pushed myself pretty hard physically in a variety of climates. It was still pretty intense. But it was also short. 4 hours, start to finish with probably 2.5 hours of super intensity. In the moment, I said some gems like, “How does anyone have more than one kid? You have three!” (to my doula/labor coach) and “I think I want drugs”. The drugs rational went like this: you know when you have a really bad headache and it’s distracting and you’re cranky until you take a loading dose of ibuprofen and poof!, it’s gone and you think “gosh, why didn’t I take that ibuprofen earlier?” I knew that such drugs were nearby and available, but I abstained, which was the right choice for me.
Owen amazes me every day. And I don’t think babies HAVE to have a lot of stuff, but some stuff makes life easier. Here’s my favorites:
1) A swing
This is currently my most useful kitchen item as it actually lets me have extended time to cook. It is also his favorite napping place. I like that this particular swing plugs into the wall, preventing massive battery buying and ensuring that it never has to stop. Ever.
The first toy Owen reached for and still his favorite as it’s easy to hook fingers into. It’s also light enough where he doesn’t mind it bopping him in the face.
Read this review from Amazon By M. Lyon:
I’m more tired than I’ve ever been. I am also a regular coffee drinker for the first time in my life. Bring me caffeine anywhere, anytime and I’ll thank you. But I also have had a long hot bath with a book almost every day since he has been born. I still cook and knit and am getting back into my old active routine with some modifications. It’s both better and harder than people make it out to be. And if you made it to the end of this post but could care less about baby crap, thanks for reading and I promise adventures will resume next week!
Almost forgot: Don’t love Origami? They make helpers for those swaddles! Try a Swaddle Me or for Houdini babies, a Miracle Blanket. See The Happiest Baby on the Block for why a swaddle works (another favorite, but seven isn’t as great of a number as five).
First off- all pregnant women are a little crazy. The degree of craziness is dependent on where they are in their pregnancy, but their hormones are doing completely psycho and unprecedented things. This is normal. And you should absolutely bear this in mind when speaking to a pregnant women. Without further delay, here are a few tips on how to talk to prenant women (bearing in mind that sometimes the best thing is to not say anything at all):
This also applies if you’ve never been pregnant. Yes, I realize that most women don’t vomit past the first trimester. I am not one of those women. And having my 80-year-old neighbor say that I should feel better than I have in my whole life doesn’t actually help me feel better. I feel abnormal, which is not nice. I also don’t want to hear labor and delivery stories from 60 years ago. They are scary and generally not representative of how things are now. The fact that your husband brought you cigarettes in the group recovery room in the hospital should clue you in that times have changed.
Someone send me a postcard with this in big bold letters. Because my mail carrier actually said, “Are we gaining weight or expecting?”. Seriously. He said that. There has to be a pun with “going postal on the post man” or something in here…
If the woman is under a doctor’s care, the doctor is monitoring her weight. You are not her doctor. Even “you’re so tiny” can be offensive to someone having a tough time gaining appropriate weight. And asking “How far are you?… But you’re so big!” is guaranteed to be a losing comment. I will harbor resentment towards that woman for many years, or at least the rest of my pregnancy. You can say something like “you look great!” or “I love that necklace!”. That’s about it.
As a general rule, remember the German proverb, “Never give advice unless asked.” I really, really did NOT want to hear that your stretch marks were so bad that they bled. And I kinda don’t believe you. Let the pregnant women clue you in on whether she wants to talk about the pregnancy at all. If your questions are met with recalcitrance, take that as a clue. She’s still a normal person under all that baby and may want to talk about something that non-pregnant people talk about in an attempt to feel somewhat “normal”. Mountain Kidd, over and out.
Disclaimer: The stupid stuff people say to me knows no bounds. I may follow up on this post at some point before giving birth. It may be irrational. The post may include the tip, “Don’t play a song entitled “pregnant women are smug” for a pregnant women.”.
What is it about the human psyche that relaxes when things are “normal”? Sure, “exceptional” might be sometimes desired but mostly worries are assuaged by the term “normal”. At a point in my life (pregnancy) where nothing fits my old definition of normal, I find this particularly fascinating and frustrating.
My old normal is unattainable. That whole “if you did activity x before pregnancy, you can continue it during!” is total crap. I am an aggressive single-track mountain biker. I don’t crash every time I ride, but definitely every season and sometimes every month. Of course this isn’t a good activity to continue during pregnancy. And I have no clue how a climbing harness would fit me now – my normal harness certainly wouldn’t and I don’t see a rapid weight load around my waist being a good idea right.
In the past, I have been critical of mountain athletes that lose their entire sense of self when they can’t ski after a blown knee, for example. They lose their identity as a person and often fall into a deep funk. I now have more compassion for these people. And it turns out it’s not all physiological.
The IMAX film Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk (which I have yet to see due to the utter lack of IMAX theaters near anywhere I have lived) notes that humans are the only animals who seek danger and risk their lives for fun. According to a synopsis of the movie, many extreme athletes have significantly lower levels of an enzyme called monoamine oxidase B. These people have a higher resistance to arousal of certain sections of the brain, meaning that it takes a higher amount of stimulation in order to get the same level of excitement and pleasure others get out of less extreme activities. This makes a lot of sense to me as it would appear that my mother-in-law and husband get this excitement from seeing me stand on the countertops (which I have yet to fall off thank you) while I need a nice exposed arete to get the same high. And of course, we can’t forget about the oft quoted sensitivity to dopamine also present in thrill-seekers.
So for now, I can’t think of a single way to get my monoamine oxidase B OR dopamine fix. My normal has also been changed and I for one am glad to say that this whole “sharing my body” thing is temporary. Yup, I said it – and the “pregnancy is wonderful” police are welcome to beat down my door. If I don’t answer, it’s because I’m cleaning projectile vomit off my shower curtain again. And that’s just not normal.
While there was plenty of rifle powered adventure, I choose the activity with a start time later in the day for a little fly fishing and found the entire expedition a bit “more” than I had bargained for.
To empathize, I suggest you try the following exercise:
1) Sit down and puut a soccer ball in your lap against your tummy. Yes, a real, full-size soccer ball.
2) Bend forward and fiddle with velcro straps on fly fishing sandals making them secure enough to close up bulk over water booties but not so tight you can’t feel your feet.
3) Find a jacket to zip over you and soccer ball. Bear in mind the “activity” hasn’t started yet.
Luckily, my husband is part giant and I could steal from his outdoor apparel stash. The next complication cannot be blamed on the impending baby. Nope, this one is all on my shoulders. While I may skate in other athletic arenas based on the sheer number of hours I have logged at some point in my life, this situation does not apply to fly fishing. It would appear that my several yearly attempts just aren’t quite enough to get “good” at the sport. Heck, I would settle for decent.
I started with a dry fly, which is infinitely less stuff to get tangled up. Alas, that pesky sage brush also managed to hang me up more than a few times. I would say at the start of any fishing trip, I have about 10 – 20 truly terrible casts before I begin to remember what the heck I’m supposed to be doing. Naturally, by this time all the fish have sent up the “something is not quite right about that fly” alarm and have decided to smugly circle my fly in a taunting manner. This is where one being able to partake in adult beverages is a helpful state of health.
Also, I cannot partake so I merely toddle on to the next fishing whole to spook some more fish. While I won’t reveal my final count, let’s just say I’ve had better days. And luckily this stream had a super healthy population, allowing us to keep a few appropriately sized rainbow trout (that I didn’t catch…) home for dinner that night. Which makes the trip a success overall, I suppose.
I am a diverse person. Yes, I LOVE heart-pounding adrenaline inducing sports, but I also love books of all types. Naturally, pregnancy has me reading all about the crazy happenings inside my body and this week (week 25!) brought a new one: the baby is now getting nutrition directly from me (instead of from the placenta)!
While I’ve long been a “healthy” eater, this brings new motivation to eat more whole foods and make the indulgences a little less indulgent. This can be difficult as baking season, otherwise known as fall, has recently descended on my little part of Wyoming. Luckily, this also coincided with a link from a dear friend called, “The 31 Healthiest Foods of All Time,” complete with recipes! I have selected five of my favorite for you, my dear blog reader, to download in PDF form at the end of this post. You’re also welcome to browse the entire article here.
I should caution you: many of these recipes use weirdo ingredients that myself and a few of my “people” (looking at you, Anne) regularly have in their pantry – like ground flaxseeds and chia seeds. This may require a trip to that hippie grocery store in your area, but the health benefits are astounding! Finally, I have left the recipes how I found them, but I don’t personally use much Splenda for a myriad of reasons. I will be substituting Sucanat for Splenda in all of the following recipes in about equal amounts as I like things a little less sweet than the rest of the nation and leaving it out altogether in case of the smoothie. Also, I don’t eat crap like fat-free whipped cream – that’s not healthy.
The download includes recipes from Time Magazine’s Guide: The 31 Healthiest Foods of All Time. Specifically the recipes are: spinach, apple and walnut salad; crockpot oatmeal; whole wheat chia pumpkin pancakes; flourless dark chocolate brownies with walnuts; and a chocolate smoothie with avocado and banana. Enjoy!
Random-Photo-Of-The-Day: Northern Lights shot from a Sept. 30
Two weekends ago, my old hometown and new hometown both sprouted wildfires – and they weren’t little. The Horsethief Canyon wildfire in Jackson is currently at 3,373 acres (82% contained) while Casper’s Sheep Herder Hill fire is at 15,556 acres (100% contained). Firefighters are still battling other blazes around the state. And while losing a home, pets, or worse in a fire is a tragic and life-altering circumstance, I can’t help but be reminded that a healthy forest is a forest that burns every now and again.
No place is this more obvious than Yellowstone National Park. In 1988, a number of smaller fires combined into one massive blaze to close the park for the first time in history. The end tally was 793,880 acres, or 36 percent of the park affected by the fire. On top of NPS staff, it took 4,000 military personal and $120 million to extinguish the flames. But what happened immediately after the fire (and is still happening!) is amazing nature in action.
To paraphrase from a surprisingly well annotated Wikipedia article on the Yellowstone fires of 1988: Just days after the fire plants such as fireweed began to appear. No replanting was attempted as “the vast majority of plants regrew from existing sprouts which survived the heat from the fires. There was a profusion of wildflowers in burned areas, especially between two and five years after the fires.”
And the lodgepole pine, which dominates the Yellowstone wilderness, actually needs fire. The pinecones it produces remain closed unless subjected to fire. The article notes that “the best seed dispersal occurred in areas which had experienced severe ground fires, and that seed dispersal was lowest in areas which had only minor surface burns.” Not coincidentally, the lodgepole pines in the park were at 200 – 250 years old and approaching the end of their 300 year life cycle.
A beautiful “weed” that magically appears in burn areas and a tree uniquely suited to the Yellowstone ecosystem depending on fire to perpetuate its life cycle? There’s a silver lining in every cloud.
Natural-tip-of-the-day: Uses for Vinegar
For the long holiday weekend we met up with friends in the resort town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. While I had visited the ski town before, this marked my first warm weather visit, and more significantly, my first visit since I’ve been a non-resort town resident. My how perceptions can change.
On my previous visits I found Steamboat’s gentle rolling mountains flat in comparison to the stark majesty of my beloved Tetons. While the ski resort stats are not quite as drastic as my blanket statement (Steamboat clocks in at 3,668 vertical feet and Jackson at 4,139), there is no denying the the younger Tetons make a more dramatic rise out of the valley floor. Obviously the mountains haven’t changed much since my last visit, but I have.
At over five months pregnant, I found the rolling green hills to be comforting. Somehow they just seemed more approachable and the lush green valley had an overall welcoming appearance. But the hiking at the ski resort was nothing to sniffle at with more than enough vertical to get my heartrate up in a hurry. However, my real excitement was directed at the dedicated downhill bike trails zig-zagging the mountain. The beautiful banked turns and one-way traffic had me drooling for my bike and a chairlift up the mountain, but since it’s not a biking season for me I was content just to know the option exists for future visits.
Another HUGE plus? The hot springs. Not shocking given the name of the town, Steamboat boasts a number of natural and developed hot springs. Since I need to be wary of water over 100° (it can fry the babies brain cells), the developed pools with handy temperature guide fit the bill for me. More than just a solitary pool, the Old Town Hot Springs has a number of very warm “adult only” tubs with a larger more moderately heated pool, a 25-yard lap pool, two water slides and a complete workout facility indoors (with child care!). The copious flowering baskets and landscaping was absolutely breathtaking and the convenient downtown location can’t be beat.
Final assessment? Steamboat is a pretty nice place to visit and maybe even a nice place to live.
Diet-Breaker-Of-The-Day: Want a cupcake? No? You will now.
Last week, we had company (okay, in-laws) coming in town on Wednesday evening. Wanting the house to be spic-and-span, I had a three-day cleaning approaching mapped out in my head. But on Monday, my sister called asking me to take her to urgent care. However, while we ate lunch and put in phone calls to various medical facilities, the bright red swelling began spreading up her leg and it became clear that urgent care wasn’t going to cut it. Our plan quickly evolved to a visit to the ER and more than a passing acquaintance with our local infectious disease center over the entire week. Suddenly, a little bit of dog hair at the house was the least of my concerns and I was reminded of some other people who seemed to embrace the proverbial dog hair a little more fully.
My many years as a nanny allowed me to observe a wide variety of families at their most vulnerable - at their homes. The last family I worked for probably had a more chaotic house than any I had seen – but they had fun. They spent huge amounts of quality time with their kids and wouldn’t hesitate to leave dishes on the table to make a last-second dash to the general store for ice cream treats. Baths could sometimes go one more day in favor of a sibling backyard soccer game. I never worried about covering the dining room table with frosting drippings because I knew they would value the cookie-decorating experience I had given their kids more than they would worry about the mess. The kids were amazing travelers and took the unexpected in stride. However, their sometimes complicated medical life was highly organized and never neglected, because that’s one thing that really matters. Dirty dishes? Less so.
And that’s how my sister ended up helping me while I shuttled her to various doctors. The real things that matter aren’t a perfectly organized house where you can eat off the floors but people to run, bike, hike, climb, ski and live life with. Very few memorable life experiences come from scrubbing floors.