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Family, Pregnancy

Mind and Body After Baby // 9 Month Update (the second time around)

February 6, 2018

swimsuit top / similar style/same brand swimsuit bottoms / collins’s suit

Well, we are here! Nearly to the point where Collins has been out in the world as long as she was in my tummy. I can’t believe that she is already so big and so far into her first year of life. The second baby’s life goes even faster than the first and I am, as always, equal parts delighted and dismayed seeing this little kiddo of mine grow and change. It’s so sweet, it’s so sad, it’s bittersweet. But truly, it’s a JOY to see this little girl grow and the best part is seeing her develop a relationship with her sister and start to play together.

So, nine months feels like a big milestone in the postpartum journey. Or at least it has for me. It tends to be the point where I feel like it’s reasonable to want to look and feel like yourself again, to have given your body time to heal and adjust and to begin to really regain your former strength, fitness and sense of self to some degree. That’s not to say that things are totally back to “normal” (hello, saggy tummy skin!) but what is normal anyway?

Mind After Baby / 9 Months
Mentally I’m in a really great place right now. I still have my moments of insecurity and issues with body confidence, but I’ve been working hard to safeguard and protect my mind from those assaults and, as Ainsley has gotten older, I’ve been VERY careful about what I say around her as it relates to my body during this postpartum journey since she is getting old enough to understand what I’m saying and how I relate to my body. She is frequently by my side during workouts and we talk a lot about exercising to make our bodies STRONG and capable and healthy, not skinny, thin, look good, etc.

I’ve said this from the beginning, but working out for me in this postpartum phase has been critical to helping me have enough physical energy to be a good mom day in and day out. I’m so thankful for the ability and gift of being able to move my body and of what my body has done in the last three years (two babies, two postpartum journeys, etc.) and that has given me a newfound respect and admiration for my physical body that I didn’t have before kids.

Body After Baby / 9 Months
When I look back at the last 9 months, what I see is a lot of really hard work. Hard mental work – learning to pray for patience, grace, forgiveness. Hard physical work – sleep deprivation, carrying toddlers and babies (sometimes simultaneously), challenging physical workouts day in and day out to get back to my pre-baby fitness level. But like all things that are difficult, it’s incredibly gratifying, too. Did I want to fit back into my jeans? Absolutely. But really, I just wanted to be able to feel like myself again, to set a good example for my girls about what self-care and dedication looks like, and to be able to be in a place where I could give my best self to my family. And I know that when I feel mentally and physically fit, I’m a better wife and mom, and everyone in our family benefits from that.

Now, 9 months into this journey, I think I would say that I’m moving out of recovery mode and into fitness maintenance and growth mode. Though I definitely am still paying careful attention to rebuilding proper core and pelvic floor strength, both of which I think are very overlooked as part of the recovery process.

Because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what workouts I’m doing or have done these last 9 months, I have to give a huge shout-out to Beachbody on Demand, which has been a saving grace during this time. I don’t so any of the eating plans associated with the workouts, because like I’ve said before, I’ve gotten to a good place knowing what works for my body intuitively, but the workouts have my heart forever and ever. Early in the postpartum journey I did 21 Day Fix, later moving into T25 and 21 Day Fix Extreme and now I’m 22 days into the 80 Day Obsession, which I’m LOVING. The workouts are longer than I typically do, but they have really pushed me and have been incredibly fun. Joe and I also try to do Crossfit together a couple Saturdays per month – he goes to Crossfit four days during the weekday but I just go with him as a drop-in occasionally.

My best advice if you’re feeling out of the loop of exercise postpartum is to start somewhere small. Go on long walks with the baby in a stroller, do a short high intensity workout (there are lots of good free options online) or even 15 minutes of strength training with some weights at home. Give you body time to heal appropriately and ease back into things. It’s easy to think that 15 minutes doesn’t make a difference but a little exercise is better than nothing and your body will thank you.

Supplements and More 
A few other helpful links to share with you as it relates to supplements postpartum, in case you want to know!

Smoothies // I rotate between Vegan Vanilla Shakeology and Vega Protein & Greens for at least one smoothie per day. When life is busy, making a smoothie is really just the best way to pack in a bunch of nutrition quickly.

Supplements // I have continued to take my Garden of Life Once Daily Prenatal and also take the Garden of Life Women’s Probiotic. I LOVE Garden of Life products and can’t speak highly enough about the company and the quality of their supplements. We also take the Kids Probiotic for Ainsley and she gets so excited to take it each day! I also take the Plexus BioCleanse product, which I think was tremendously helpful in the postpartum period to promote regularity and reduce some of the gas and bloating that can happen while your hormones adjust and recalibrate.

Madison

Food & Recipes

Eating Without Food Labels

January 18, 2018

Friends, can we talk about something that has been on my heart to talk about for a while now? I shared on Instagram this week about how very over food labels and rules I am. Keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Whole 30. The entire conversation has worn me down into the ground and driven me crazy and today I want to dig a little deeper into my own journey with food to share with you just why it drives me nuts.

If you spend any time on social media these days, chances are you are bombarded with pictures of what people are (or maybe, more importantly, are NOT) eating. I happen to follow a lot of people who eat keto or paleo and a fair share who are die-hard vegetarians. It’s a strange time in history to eat food, isn’t it? Both sides SO very sure that their way is the right way, that you should or shouldn’t eat certain foods. So many rules to follow and research to read.

The year I graduated college I decided to give vegetarianism a try. It had always interested me, but was something I said I could never do because I loved eating meat. But a month-long experiment turned into a few months and then a few years. Over the last nine years I’ve tinkered with my eating quite a bit, trying to find the exact right formula and eating style for my body. I’ve tried Whole 30, I’ve done a “yoga cleanse” which included a lot of yoga and eating a vegan, caffeine-free, gluten-free, sugar-free diet for a month. I’ve been a strict vegetarian and I’ve done a little of everything while pregnant. And over the years I’ve realized a few things.

Gluten isn’t the enemy for my body, I’m not sensitive to full-fat dairy, occasionally my body craves a little meat or seafood. But where does that leave me? When I say “no” to the pot roast 9 times out of 10 but occasionally say “yes!” to a burger in the summer? In a world where we are encouraged to put our eating into boxes, but your style doesn’t really have a name? Well, it gets to why I truly don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all eating style and why it seems that labels and restrictive eating pushes us to eat less intuitively and fit our unique bodies into boxes.

After Ainsley was born I stopped restricting myself, started eating MORE, starting working out LESS time but more focused in my efforts and allowed myself to eat what felt right for my body it seemed as if I hit a metabolism super charge button. I feel my best, look my best and don’t feel like I’m a slave to food or food rules anymore.

Since I have shared with you all about my food journey over the years, what I’ve found that works for my body looks something like this:

-I eat a LOT both in volume and calories. I’m fairly sure that over the years too much cardio and too little food was causing a lot of harm to my body, hormones and metabolism. I workout much less than I did pre-kids, but I’m smarter and more focused with my workouts using Beachbody On Demand videos that are typically about 30 minutes in length. I’m no longer a calorie counter, because it makes me crazy, but rough calculations are that I consume around 2,200-2,500 calories a day on most days.

-Intermittent fasting has been a recent game changer for me. I decided to give it a try after listening to this podcast and doing some of my own research, and while it was certainly challenging at first, it really has been wonderful to give my body a break each day to not eat. I usually stop eating around 6 pm most days and don’t break my fast until around 8-10 am the next morning. And then I get all my calories eaten in a very short window and feel totally stuffed. 😉

-My diet is about 90% vegetarian. I still prefer to eat mainly vegetarian, but I do occasionally have lean protein at dinnertime with my family when it sounds good to my body or when I’m out at dinner and healthy vegetarian options are limited. I choose health over eating rules any and all days of the week. We live in the Midwest so there are times when the only vegetables to be found are iceberg lettuce and corn. In that case, the healthier choice is the fish, chicken or lean beef and I’m OK with that.

-Vegetables are still the largest part of most every meal I eat. I LOVE veggies and eat a lot of them throughout the day. I also eat a lot of beans and legumes as a source of plant-based protein.

-I don’t drink milk often and prefer unsweetened almond milk, but full-fat Greek yogurt and half and half in my coffee are life.

-Gluten doesn’t bother me. End of story. When I was struggling with sinus infections and sickness it was suggested by some that I eat gluten and dairy-free but doing so didn’t resolve my issues and adding them back in didn’t make my symptoms any worse. I don’t eat refined carbs like white bread, pasta or white rice very often but I do eat plenty of sprouted grain bread, some occasional whole wheat pasta, etc.

-Close to 300/400 calories in my diet each day comes from peanut butter. #peanutbutterforlife

But the thing is, that’s just what works for ME. Your body could be totally different! Finding what works for you and your body is unique and it’s worth the effort to tinker with and discover your unique formula over time, regardless of food rules and regulations. Like I said in my Instagram post, I think the only thing we can agree on is that vegetables are good and sugar is bad, right?! 😉

I would be so curious to hear what works for YOU and your body! I have a feeling we will get a lot of different answers.

Madison

Family

Safer Skincare in the New Year

January 5, 2018

Happy Friday, friends! As we embark on a new year, I know a lot of you are in the business of making resolutions. Resolutions about health, wellness, family, faith and more. It can be both inspiring and overwhelming, can’t it? I’ve been doing a lot of goal-setting and planning over here, including the following:

-Push myself outside my comfort zone
-Set big, scary goals
-Be consistent and diligent in prayer for others
-Work hard at work; rest and fully disconnect when it’s time to rest
-Make commitments and stick to them
-Invest in people
-Love my body
-Invest in quality in all things

About four years ago, one of my resolutions was to make cleaner, healthier choices in my skincare, cosmetics and household cleaning products. It was around the same time that I discovered Beautycounter, when we were deep in our infertility journey and I was desperate to find anything that could help. I also desperately wanted a “big girl” skincare routine rather than a random assortment of products from the drugstore, because I wasn’t getting any younger.

I’m so thankful that Beautycounter came into my life when it did, and if you’re sitting in a similar position and have a desire to learn more about safer skincare and personal care products, I’m hoping that sharing more in the month of January may be helpful to you on your own journey to healthier living.

I posted this video to my Espresso & Cream page on Facebook, but through it was a worthy kick-off video to share here as well!

Here’s to making healthier, safer choices in 2018. And as always, thank YOU for being the absolute best of the best.

Fashion

What I’m Loving // Athleisure Edition

January 2, 2018

Mom life and working at home means I spend a LOT of time in more athletic clothes than I would like to admit. On days that I’m working I try to get dressed in real clothes most of the time, but when I’m not working and hanging with the girls, I much prefer to be in comfy-cute clothes. It allows me to be a more active, interactive mom when I’m comfortable and ready for a game of tag, hide and seek, or puzzles on the floor at any moment.

Here are a few of the items I’ve been loving lately:

Gap PureBody Modal Joggers
// I wear this year round and while they are a tiny bit lightweight for winter, they’re great for lounging around the house. Buy a pair (or three!) and I promise you’ll be happy you did.

Athleta High Rise Chaturanga Tight // THE best workout tights around. They are expensive but worth the investment, and I personally find Athleta clothing to wear/wash the best and last the longest.

The Be Brand’s “Mama Bear” Sweatshirt // I’ve hardly taken it off since I got mine a couple weeks ago. It’s so comfy, has a great roomy-yet-cute fit and washes really well. I’m already planning on getting another style.

Athleta’s Metro Joggers // Cute, comfy and looks presentable when worn outside the house, these joggers are just so good.

Headbands from The Be Brand // I get a TON of questions about the headbands I’m wearing in about 50% of my photos on Instagram. I’ve been loving these headbands from The Be Brand since I discovered them this summer and recommend them to everyone. They hide a bad hair day and work great for keeping your hair out of your face while working out and momming.

Tanks and Tops from Old Navy // When it comes to athletic pants and active leggings, I’m all about high quality. But for tanks and workout tops Old Navy can’t be beat. I am LOVING all my tanks and tops (including this one and this one with the cute scalloped detailing) from Old Navy. Added bonus: they are all on sale right now!

Family

Tips for Travel with Little Ones

December 28, 2017

We have recently returned from our first big trip with both girls and man, what an adventure! We had a wonderful time in Florida and I certainly learned that travel with one toddler is not the same as travel with a toddler and a baby. It was good for us to take the trip and learn a little bit about what to do differently the next time we embark on a big trip with these two – most likely this summer when we go to Oregon on family vacation.

Surprisingly, Ainsley was actually the easy one to travel with. I was shocked that on the entire trip to Florida we didn’t even have to get out the iPad or movies on the plane once. She happily entertained herself with figurines, books, stickers, crayons and lots of snacks. Her little sister, on the other hand, was a handful! Collins was as good as a 7-month-old baby could probably expect to be, but she is at an awkward age for air travel. She is crawling now, so she wanted to move and crawl all over every single (dirty) surface. She isn’t old enough to snack on finger foods and toys hold her attention for about 5 minutes each. So we had to work to keep her happy and entertained.

That said, I learned a lot and have a few suggestions for anyone thinking of taking a trip with their little ones!

  1. Take a double stroller with you! I can’t stress this enough. We debated leaving or Baby Jogger Summit X3 (which is currently on MAJOR sale on Amazon!) at home, but I’m so glad we didn’t. Having a way to contain/restrain both kids at once was so helpful when we were in the airport and with the warmer weather, it was really wonderful to be able to take the girls on long walks and have a place for Collins and Ainsley to nap out and about.
  2. Take your favorite baby carrier. Collins LOVES the Ergo 360 and we have gotten so much use out of it. I opted to take the Solly Baby Wrap instead because it’s smaller and more portable, but it was a mistake in the long run. The Ergo 360 would have been so nice to have, so if you can fit your favorite carrier in your suitcase, make it work!
  3. Don’t try to do too much. If it sounds like it’s too much, it probably is. We made a few mistakes trying to go out to eat too close to nap time or bed time, trying to do too much in a single day, etc. It led to tired, melting down kids and exhausted parents. It’s not the end of the world, but if you’re looking to minimize stress and frustration on everyone in your family, bite off only as much as seems reasonable.
  4. Take a diaper bag that has a backpack carry! I LOVE my Fawn Design diaper bag and will sing its praises forever and ever. It’s pretty, functional and the hands-free nature of being able to wear it as a backpack came in handy more times than I can count.
  5. Invest in good car seat bags. We borrowed this Britax Car Seat Travel Bag from a friend and I’m planning on buying two for our family because it was SO handy. We checked both of the car seats for the girls with our luggage and these bags help protect the car seats and make them easier to carry. This particular bag has wheels as well as a backpack carry option which was so incredibly useful! There are some risks in checking your car seats vs. checking them at the gate, but with two kids and a double stroller we really felt it made more sense to check the car seats with our luggage so we could have our hands free to wrangle the girls. Bonus: Car seats fly free on most major carriers!
  6. Take a carry-on suitcase packed with the essentials for each family member, especially if you are traveling in the winter! We took a carry-on suitcase plus one large checked bag for our week in Florida. In our carry-0n bag we had all the essentials in case our luggage got lost or we got stuck in the airport for an extended period of time. Think: Diapers, wipes, formula, extra clothes for each family member, toiletries, etc. We didn’t need most of the items in that bag, but I’m so thankful we had it just in case!
  7. Send larger items ahead of time. I placed a large Target order in advance of our trip and had it shipped directly to my aunt’s house – diapers, wipes, extra formula, baby food pouches, puffs, and a collapsible high chair. It saved so much space for us and the shipping was free!
  8. Spend some extra $$ if possible on picking reasonable flight times and schedules. If you are traveling by air, you will be thankful that you didn’t pick the flight that leaves at 7 pm or that has a four hour layover. If it’s a reasonable price difference, pay a little extra and leave at a reasonable, yet early morning hour when your kids are fresh and get to your destination sooner rather than later. If you can do a nonstop flight – by all means do so!
  9. Have a sense of humor! Things will go wrong, melt downs will occur, delays will happen, etc. My husband is great at this and it helped to laugh off some of the more difficult parts of our trip. Traveling with kids is hard, and sometimes it seems like it’s just not worth the hassle, but it truly is! Remind yourself why you are going through all the effort: So your kids can see their family, so that you can expose them to the big, wonderful world that God created, so they can have new and exciting experiences. Having that perspective goes a long way in making your trip more enjoyable.

Madison

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