Pregnancy Must Reads

Like I’ve mentioned, I’m an avid reader and researcher. I love finding out as much information on one topic as possible, taking what applies to me to find the best formula. I’ve read, flipped through and scoured books, and searched blogs and reviews.  These were my favorite reads during pregnancy to help me navigate everything from symptoms to moods to baby gear and most important, parenting.

Favorite Blogs and Websites

Baby Center: This was my favorite go-to for the week-by-week fetal growth and progression. There are many but this is the one that I chose. I also found it the most helpful for community questions and reviews. It was just easiest to scroll through and navigate. There are also some decent less biased articles for your basic baby info, like sleeping, nutrition, pregnancy symptoms, etc.

Fit Pregnancy: The meat of this website is less substantial, but I enjoy the health perspective. There are simple exercise routines, easy recipe ideas, and sometimes their product reviews are good. It gave me a framework to go from.

Dear Baby Blog: I didn’t get into this until late in pregnancy but enjoyed this light read. The writer is local, so the Raleigh references are fun. Her writing is very poetic and makes a great read to relax before bed. Her perspective is romantic and whimsical but also centered and grateful for the moment.

Amazon: I was never an amazon junkie before getting pregnant but since fell in love. You can’t beat the prices or selection. The reviews are abundant (and usually pretty inline with the rest of the reviews out there when you cross compare), and for a busy mom-to-be like me, I simply didn’t have time to drive all over town to research products and selection (which seems pretty poor where I live) and I refuse to settle on quality, especially when it comes to products made with harsh or dangerous ingredients. My registry was held exclusively on Amazon.

Favorite Books

Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: This book by Chopra was much more my “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” It’s a holistic guide to pregnancy with a very non-scary, non-threatening, and non-judgmental voice. It has practical advice for yoga postures and exercising, as well as communication with your partner, and preparing for birth. The only portion that I didn’t completely connect with was the nutrition, but even that section was wonderful at illustrating, eat a variety of whole, nutritious foods and if you have the occasional craving, satisfy it. Zero guilt. Loved it. Probably the best part of the book was about centering yourself body, mind, and soul and visualizing your pregnancy, birth, and beyond. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in pinterest, comparisons, and worries. This book helps to keep your grounded.

Understanding Your Moods When You’re Expecting: I referenced this book in an earlier post and just really appreciated it. I know that I am not the only mom that was impacted emotionally by all of the physical changes in my body- lack of sleep, inability to complete daily tasks like I once could, having to cut back on work, and the stinkin preggo brain that just makes me feel like I am losing my mind, not to mention the cluster of hormones. All of the symptoms really made me feel less empowered, not more. This book was just a fantastic reminder of validating what’s “normal” and what might constitute the need for a little more help. The encouragement of seeking support and the guidance to create a post-natal plan (genius) were immensely helpful at calming my mind and relinquishing control.

Bringing Up Bebe: I loved this alternative perspective by Pamela Druckerman. This book was a comparison between the American and Parisian cultures on raising newborns. Now, while this book was completely generalizing the two cultures and looking at the masses, not breaking down different parenting styles, it was a general overview, which I preferred. I am not a one-size fits all, follow this manual step-by-step, subscribe to this parenting style completely, kinda woman. I never have been. So similarly, I didn’t subscribe to everything in this book (i.e breastfeeding, or lack thereof), but what I did like was her take on learning how to become in tune with your baby so that you aren’t looking to a book to read his/her emotions, and being fully attentive to your child, when appropriate. I am a big believer that this is how to get your baby to sleep and behave through toddler years, which this book is advocating. Now, I am still a naive pregnant person, so we may revise this after Baby L gets here.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting: I know, I know. I just about lost ALL credibility by listing this one. And for the most part, I hated it (to be totally honest, I didn’t even finish it), but the only section that I really liked was the nutrition. For a junkie like me, it was great to see which essential vitamins you need to bump up in your diet. I hear there is just a nutrition version, which may be more beneficial to check out. But I cannot stress the importance of good nutrition while you’re expecting. I completely give all credit to my nutrition and health (before and during pregnancy) for the abundance of sweet compliments I have received.

The Book of Nurturing: This book isn’t a pregnancy book per se, but much more of a personal development read in regards to family and parenting. Again, this helps to keep life into perspective beyond sore nipples and exhaustion from sleep schedules. It helps you to be in tune with your family, keep communication open, love, protect, and nurture, but know when to let go and let growth happen. I think these principles are so key for new parents to remember so your start good habits early.

Other Good Reads

SleepI read a number of books on sleep including Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karpp. The most humorous part about all three of these reads were how redundant they were. They were definitely written with sleep-deprived parents in mind reiterating the same principles. I initially found it annoying but could appreciate the tactics and began to skim through them. The techniques in Happiest Baby were helpful and I appreciated the principles in No-Cry Sleep Solution. Having a toolbox of tricks is essential, but I am a big believer of going into this with a rough draft and a lot of room to edit your plan.

Breastfeeding: I really enjoyed So That’s What They’re For, by Janet Tamaro. It was well-writtten and very funny (but not in the brash humor that so many pregnancy and parenting books are written in these days). This book would have made my Top Reads list until I went to my breastfeeding class and realized how much this book frightened me with the long list of what-could-go-wrongs.  My class seemed to simplify things more and return the confidence that I think you need to get the job done. However, still highly recommended for any mom that is wavering a bit about breastfeeding, or with no breastfeeding mentor (my mom didn’t breastfeed), simply to strengthen your conviction in the health benefits for your child.

Vaccines:  Touchy subject, I know. But with all of the hype out there, you owe it to yourself to be equipped. I thought my opinion on this topic was one way, went through it very confused, and came out with a better, more confident decision. An unbiased book that just gives you the facts is The Vaccine Book by Robert Sears. I often found myself just wanting the author to tell me what to do but after careful reading, note-taking, and conversations with my husband, we are on the same page. It might be more homework than you want to do, but again, with the controversy, you might just want to feel as educated as you can so if anything arises, you felt you made the best decision possible.

At the end of the day, or your pregnancy, you may not be a big reader. That may work for you. But I think the goal of every parent is to become better everyday. Work on yourself, your relationships, communication, and your ability to be open and learn along the way. Maybe that’s through books for some and mentors for others. But knowing that we are all going to make mistakes and learn from each one of them will make us all a little bit better and hopefully let go of some of this infamous parent guilt.

Food Prep Sunday

One of the biggest pointers that I can give anyone who is trying to establish a healthy eating routine is to plan! Unless you have a lot of time to designate to prepping and cooking meals, then you are like the rest of the 98% of us who are busy! We work, have errands, kids, spouses, friends to attend to and don’t have a whole lotta time to spend in the kitchen each day. I think where many of us fail is in our intention vs. our reality. We want so badly to have a lot of time for the Farmer’s Market, then prepping a healthy, organic meal for all 21 meals that we consume each week. But in reality, that might happen once (if we’re lucky) and then we spend he rest of the week scourging for what’s convenient… and that might not always be healthy.

Here are just a few of my tips that are successful for our life.

  1. Shopping. I shop once a week, creating my staples, a few meals for specialty ingredients, and snacks that are convenient. I hit Costco once or twice per month which is my favorite money saving tool. This is where we get all of our meat and most of our dry goods and produce. For produce, you get about twice as much for the same price as the grocery store! We save on our meats, buying organic chicken, free-range beef (when we buy it), and wild salmon.  Freeze most or prepare the fresh fish for the week. We also stock up on our dry goods for the month- quinoa, rice, beans, and oatmeal. In between our Costco weeks, I’ll hit Trader Joe’s or the Farmer’s Market for fresh produce.
  2. Prep in advance. Sometimes I am able to do a lot of this and sometimes very little. Anything you can do to prep foods in advance will save you time and money. Some simple things that I like to do are chop my veggies, boil some eggs, portion out snacks, grill meats, make a pot of grains. If I am able to do all of them, like I was this past weekend, then I will portion them out into containers for convenient lunches and dinners for my husband and me. If I’m not able to prep full meals, then at least we have some easy grab and go snacks and pieces to put together salads and meals.
  3. Make breakfast simple. Start with a shake everyday and that will eliminate 7 meals that you have to think about! It’s simple to keep smoothie adds on hand. Some frozen fruit, some milk, and breakfast is done!
  4. Snacks are crucial. Don’t forget to have a lot of easy, high protein snacks on hand. Hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts or trail mix, protein bars, and cottage cheese are some of our favorites. It’s so easy to grab these with a piece of fruit and call it done.
  5. Don’t buy crap. Just don’t even bring it into the house. Then there are no excuses. If your kitchen is packed with nutritious and convenient options then you won’t be as tempted by the crap!

Body After Baby and Why I am Getting in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE

If you have read any of my recent posts, you may already be familiar that I have not been one of those women who have adored pregnancy. I wanted to be. Really I did. I thought I would be. And I have my moments, like when she is moving around, that I think this is pretty, freakin cool. I’m grateful for the opportunity to bond and connect with her before she arrives. But at the end of the day, you could say, I’m Over Being Pregnant.

I have been a long time advocate and professional in women’s health. I am all about empowering women through health and wellness. How we portray that can be tricky. When you slam pictures up on the internet, it can easily be taken two ways: motivating for some and self-depricating for others, usually more of the latter, especially if we don’t know where or how to start. Approaching health and fitness for women has to be done with care and precaution. I never want to alienate anyone… especially a new mom. We are going through enough as it is.

However, I will be quite clear: I don’t buy into women’s (or anyone’s) excuses to be overweight. Yes, genetics plays a role in our size. No, we do not all need to be a size 6 or smaller. However, embracing obesity (defined by the CDC as 30 lbs overweight or more) is unacceptable to me. When you embrace obesity, you are actually hurting yourself, your culture, and your gender. The health problems associated with obesity are insurmountable and this is the first generation where parents are predicted to outlive their children. NO THANK YOU!! When we embrace being overweight, we excuse ourselves from changing and that’s the message that we pass on to our children.

I don’t always vocalize this opinion loudly, because while obesity runs in my family (and I have lost family members to obesity), I, myself have never been obese. Even when I was carrying my extra weight, I was still in a healthy BMI and weight. So, I am fully aware that my statement above may seem like I lack empathy, but it lacks no more empathy than if I were to be ok with the other side of my family getting away with alcoholism because they are Irish.

For me, pregnancy has been very eye opening as to what carrying extra weight is like. While, I know I am growing a baby (which is awesome), it is still extra weight on my body. At my last weigh-in I had gained 29 lbs in 7 months and I weigh more than I ever have. That’s a lot of new weight for my body to adjust to. So, it’s no wonder that I have been tired, stiff, achy joints and muscles, back pain, hip pain, and S L O W. I actually have to contemplate things like how to get off of the couch, how to tie my shoes, or climb a few flights of stairs.

So here is why I have decided that I vow to get into the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE: Because I refuse to live my life that way. I refuse for my daughter to grow up with a mom that can’t run and play with her. I have taken advantage of my health many times. As a child, I was small, weak and unathletic. It didn’t bother me because I was skinny. Then in college, I started to work out. I felt stronger. I was no longer the weakling and I liked it. Working out empowered me. Then I became very comfortable with a maintenance level. Maybe we call it complacency, or maybe we just call it a shift in priorities at the time. My health and weight were good. I worked out. I was content. But now, after a glimpse of a life that is slower, more lethargic, heavier, I don’t want to take advantage of my opportunity to be in my best shape possible. I want to be the best me, not just for me, but for my daughter; for my family.

The life that I envision for my family is active! It includes Sunday hikes with the dogs, surfing and adventure sports, walking through cities as we explore, running and chasing each other at the park, Family 5Ks, lots of lessons in nutrition and cooking healthy foods together, and endurance through the days.

So if my body changes after this awesome baby or the next one through stretch marks or sagging boobs, so be it. But I refuse to excuse the baby weight and let it slow me down. Because the extra weight that we carry isn’t just in our bodies, it’s in our minds. And I have way too many other important things to worry about than my own self-guilt or body image. It’s just not worth it.

Let’s Document the Journey… Stay tuned…

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Favorite Smoothies… YUM!

I see so many smoothie recipes out there these days. It’s a popular, yet sensible thing to do. Grind all of your goodness up and take it on the go. I love it! The one ingredient that many people neglect in a smoothie is the protein. A key element! There is a lot of debate out there on how much protein one needs. Most experts will agree that 10-35% percent of our daily calories should come from protein, but that is a pretty big margin. How do you determine if you are ok at 10 or should be getting closer to 35? Protein does 3 things for the body:

  1. Boosts Your metabolism
  2. Helps with appetite control
  3. Assists in building lean muscle

So essentially if you are looking to burn fat, lose weight, or build muscle then you probably should be hitting the higher end of that recommendation.

The other concern with smoothies is that often times they have too many calories and too much sugar for the average American. So even if you are putting yummy, nutritional goodness into your smoothie, you must be careful that you haven’t built yourself a 700 calorie breakfast (unless you are trying to gain weight), or doused yourself in sugars (which will turn to fat).

Here are a couple of my absolute FAVORITE Healthy, High Protein, Calorie/Sugar Controlled Smoothies. In each smoothie, I start off with one serving of Herbalife Formula 1. It is a Healthy Meal, complete with heart-healthy veggie protein, fiber, and 19 essential vitamins and minerals. From there, every additional ingredient is bonus healthy!

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Blueberry-Kale Mega Antioxidant

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Banana Bread

Sweet Heaven

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On Being an Entrepreneur

My husband and I like to talk shop. Our business is still our baby. We live it, love it, breathe it, and cry about it almost daily. So even when we are out on date nights or going for an evening stroll, our business tends to be a major topic.

One thing we have been reflecting on a lot is business and entrepreneurship in general. You see, our business isn’t normal. There are many people in our company that are starting from scratch (where we all start) and shooting up to mega incomes in 4 years or less. And when I say mega, I mean MEGA. Take your definition of MEGA and triple it. YUP! Anyway, we 100% saw ourself on that path. Maybe not the tripled MEGA but definitely the doubled mega in 3 years. We are two years in and unsure if we will hit it (but aren’t slowing down anytime soon).

That income opportunity isn’t normal and we often have to remind ourselves of that when we talk shop. Prior to health coaching, we both owned our own business. I walked away after one year, he walked away after 4 years. And in that time, we weren’t even close to what we have developed to date. We reflect on our trials and our tribulations. We both started businesses with no structural support in place, no formal business education, and very little self education. We are both fight-to-the-death kind of people and probably would have eventually figured it out-ish. In our current business, we’re very fortunate of the support that we have in place and all of the skills that we have learned without knowing or intentionally learning them.

In our evening chats, we know others that are in business for themselves, going into business, or thinking about entrepreneurship. We admire those for the tenacity and passion. But I think we also send a lot of empathy and well-wishes out to them. Growing your own business is hard. You have to have thick-skin, passion, and the most crystal clear WHY before you even open your doors. You have to defy the naysayers, develop yourself everyday, LEARN, be ok with failure, and most importantly be patient with nothing but faith. Only then, do you have a chance at success. And again, our current business is simple!

Everyday I am grateful for being self-employed. It’s been a crazy journey and definitely not one that I envisioned for myself but we are getting through the humps and really starting to see the other side. The true American Dream. And the incredible part is that recently it’s been recognized more and more. Something that we definitely didn’t expect at this point. But the recognition really must go to those that have paved the way for us. We’ve had it very easy in our business. But for those going out on their own, here are the lessons that C and I take away – 1) Have a support structure in place. Find a mentor that has been successful in business to call on. 2) Read and self-educate like it’s your job. It is. Become a better human being and your business will become attractive. 3) Don’t quit. Give yourself 2 years to keep your head above water, 4 years to get by, and at 7 years enjoy your income and benefits of entrepreneurship.

It may not be easy, but it’s SO Worth It!

Maternity Shoot

Before becoming pregnant, I looked at pregnancy as something magical. I was adamant that women should be Gods in our society. Superheroes! I mean growing another human being is as close to superhero power that we were going to get. And then I became pregnant and I felt more like a sacrificial lamb. There was nothing super about me. I was slower, weaker, tired, stripped of my memory and quick processing. I would cry on a dime. It felt more like someone zapped me of my superpowerism. I thought that I would love being pregnant and be able to take the negative side effects with the emotional and spiritual connection that I am doing something so much greater and bigger. Not so much. Turns out I really like being articulate and having endurance.

With that said, my husband repeatedly asked me if I wanted to get maternity photos done and I repeatedly said, no. I did not feel beautiful and confident. And as much as I thought I would regret it, I had no interest in recording this pregnancy. I wanted to get through it and get to the part of enjoying our amazing little girl and the adventures of parenthood.

But after his last plea, with a sweet look in his eye and his endearing words of how beautiful he thought that I was, and then his boy-like disappointment when I again said no, I decided to reconsider. For him. He has been such a martyr, dealing with demands, emotions, and most appreciated, picking up the slack wherever I may drop it. He deserved this.

So I called on our favorite photographer and arranged for a surprise maternity shoot that I could give him for his birthday.  I scheduled a hair appointment with one of my best friends, put on some makeup and sucked it up.

Now I can say that I am so grateful to my husband for his persistence and reverie of me and this baby. On that day, I truly felt beautiful. Maybe not superhero, but angelic. And we will get to share these photos with our sweet baby girl as she asks about what it was like when mommy was pregnant. So Happy Birthday to my amazing husband and Thank You for your gift in return- your love and belief in me.

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Life as a Health Coach

My life as a health coach is probably atypical from most peoples’. First and foremost I get to set my own schedule and allow my work life and personal life to be integrated. It’s a phenomenal perk that I take for granted. But more and more as I prep for this new baby I remember how awesome it is to own my time and own my financial future. Gratitude is expressing it lightly.

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