Browsing Tag

health

Family, Pregnancy

Stay Healthy, Mama

July 13, 2015

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and healthy mama® , but, as always, all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #gethealthymama

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Having experienced a couple miscarriages before getting pregnant with Ainsley, I was more than a little paranoid about what I put in my body. I was constantly worried about doing something that would compromise the health of my baby and desperate for a little peace of mind when I wanted relief from morning sickness or a headache or some other pregnancy-related aliment.

I’m a researcher by nature so I did a lot of scouring on the internet for healthy, safe ways to navigate the less-than-glamorous sides of being pregnant. My doctor was a good resource, as well as a few reputable baby- and pregnancy-related websites and books, but most of the products I found still came with a disclaimer for pregnant or nursing women.

Toward the end of my pregnancy I discovered that Target has a section devoted to pre- and postnatal care filled with healthy mama® products that are safe for nursing moms and moms-to-be. I wish I would have found the section sooner rather than at the end of my pregnancy!

During pregnancy and the postpartum period, my two greatest complaints were nausea (specifically the first trimester but also a bit toward the end of pregnancy) and headaches. I’ve always had headaches, but the postpartum headaches I experienced? They were horrible! I found a few little changes during the course of my pregnancy and after Ainsley arrived really helped…

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Headaches

*I found that making sure I was getting plenty of iron in my diet was key! Since meat and veggies didn’t sound all that great to me during the first trimester, I was seriously lacking in iron. And some of the research I did also said that you start to experience the unpleasant effects of low iron around 18/19 weeks, which was exactly when I started getting really bad headaches!
*Hydration was also key to keeping the headaches (especially during the postpartum period) at bay. I kept a giant water bottle with me at all times and couldn’t get enough ice water with extra ice!
*When water and vitamins weren’t cutting it, I found that the cure-all was usually a cup of coffee (coffee in moderation is totally safe!) and a little bit of acetominophin, like that found in the healthy mama® Shake that Ache! pain reliever, was enough to keep the headaches at bay most of the time.

Nausea

*I only experienced a mild case of nausea starting around 12 weeks and lasting until around week 19, but it was enough to keep me snacking on carbs 90% of the time. My go-to remedies were salty kettle-style potato chips, lemonade and sparkling water.
*A lot of research talks about the benefits of consuming B vitamins to calm the nausea. I’m guessing that’s why healthy mama® included B vitamins and electrolytes in their Boost it Up! Protein Energy Drink. Although I wasn’t experiencing nausea when I tried this drink, I loved it anyway! And it’s a great caffeine-free energy alternative that’s safe for pregnant and nursing moms.

I am so bummed that I didn’t discover these products sooner. But I have a feeling that if we’re blessed to have another kiddo down the road, I’ll be using that section at Target as my go-to resource while pregnant and nursing.

Madison

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Fitbit Flex Review

June 12, 2014

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A few weeks back I posted a photo of my new Fitbit Flex on Instagram. I got a lot of comments asking for my thoughts on the Flex, and now that I’ve had some time to wear it and use it for a few weeks, I feel ready to share my thoughts. I should mention first that my Fitbit Flex was given to me free through a program at work. We logged our fruits and veggies every day for 5 weeks and received a Fitbit at the end, which means a lot of my co-workers are walking around with the same green Flex.

Appearance
My biggest hang-up with the Flex before receiving it was the appearance. It’s not ugly by any means, but it looks much more sporty than the clothes I usually wear to work. I found that after wearing the Flex for a few days, I quickly got over this issue. Sure, it looks a little sporty but for work and play I don’t mind wearing it at all. Additionally, swapping out band colors is quick and inexpensive and I think when I get around to buying a grey or black band I’ll like it even more. Did you hear that they are planning on doing a collaboration with Tory Burch? I may be the first person buying a gold bangle for my Fitbit!

Comfort
I don’t wear many bracelets at work because I find they get in the way with typing and working on my computer. The designers did a great job with the Flex because it doesn’t bother me at all throughout the day. It’s amazing how comfortable it is to wear the Flex!

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Utility
Prior to getting the Flex I knew that 10,000 steps was the recommended number to get in a day, but I had no idea what 10,000 steps really looked like or if I was getting anywhere close to that number. I’m very active many days at work, so I figured I was doing pretty good, but I didn’t have any data to back that theory up.

My first observation wearing the Flex was how little things add up to big things. When I park at the back of the parking garage, take the stairs a few extra times, go on a short walk with the dogs around the block a few times,  it’s much easier to get to 10,000 steps. Of course, I knew this in theory, but I like having tangible evidence that little things add up. It motivates me throughout the day to take  walk around the building or take a short jog if I’m low on steps for the day.

The sleep function is one of the most interesting features of the Flex. You tap the Flex five times to let it know you’re going to sleep, and again when you wake up. In the meantime, the Flex keeps track of how many times you are awake in the night and how many times you are restless. It gives you a little recap each day on the efficiency of your sleep.

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Ease of Use
This is one of the strongest areas for the Fitbit Flex. Once you set up your Flex you can track your progress on your desktop at fitbit.com (as seen above) or you can track your progress on the mobile app that automatically syncs with your Fitbit via bluetooth. The desktop interface has much more information but I love the mobile app for convenience. Both interfaces allow you to change your goals based on personal preference.

There is also a place to log water intake for the day (a favorite feature of mine!) and your food and calorie intake. Since I already use My Fitness Pal, I linked my apps to streamline the process. The whole system is very easy to use and quick to set up, which I appreciated. It’s certainly not a product where you need to be super techy to use and enjoy.

Overall
I really love my Flex! It’s been so much fun to know more about my fitness and activity levels along with my sleep patterns. For the price (a little under $100) I think it’s a great value and I really enjoy using and wearing the Flex.

Do any of you have a Fitbit or something similar? I would love to know if your experiences have been the same! Love it or leave it? 

Madison

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Eating With and Without Rules

June 5, 2014

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I’ve mentioned this before, but Instagram has quickly become my favorite form of social media. I share a lot of food photos on Instagram, and some of those photos include meat now and again. And, as you can probably guess, it means quite a few people have questions about if I’m still a vegetarian or not. The short answer? No.

It’s been quite a while since I talked specifically about my food choices, and truth be told I’ve been on a bit of a food journey over the past few months.

Over Christmas and the entire month of December I decided to give paleo-style eating a try. I heard great things about paleo from a number of people and wanted to see what all the hype was about. As you can imagine, it was a huge shift for me having been a vegetarian for the last 3 years. After about a month of eating paleo, I realized that it wasn’t an eating style that suited me at all. I loved the focus on whole foods, but I really missed my grains and their filling nature.

What really sent me fleeing from paleo was the fact that I actually gained weight during that month and I felt sluggish. I’m not saying this to bash paleo in any way, since I have had friends who love it and thrive eating that way, but for me and my body it wasn’t a good fit. This experiment further emphasized what I’ve always believed: A one-size-fits-all style of eating just doesn’t exist.

After my experiment with paleo I was at a loss as to what was next. Go back to vegetarian? Eat completely without rules and restrictions? While I don’t really like food labels, I did crave some type of structure in my diet so going without any guidelines seemed strange, too.

I decided to go back to eating vegetarian 85-90% of the time and allowing myself meat when my body craved it or it was the healthiest choice available. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in an airport or restaurant and been stuck eating a baked potato or something similar in the name of being a vegetarian when, in reality, getting a grilled chicken breast would have been the more nutritionally-sound choice. It didn’t make sense to me to make an inferior food choice in the name of following a set of self-imposed rules.

The past few months of eating with a more relaxed yet mindful approach have been wonderful! I don’t eat much meat during the week, but occasionally I’ll have a hamburger on the grill or a little shaved turkey with my lunch. As always, the meat is more of an afterthought and the veggies are front and center on the plate. It’s freeing to be able to make the choice to include meat now and again without having to eat it all the time. The more I play around with what I eat, I have realized that all-or-nothing rarely works.

How do you approach your eating style? I’m curious if others of you steer clear of hard and fast food rules, too?
Madison

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June Food and Fitness Goals + May Goals Recap

June 3, 2014

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May Food and Fitness Goals
1. Drink at least 80 oz of water each day
Why didn’t anyone tell me how great drinking water makes you feel?! Actually, people did tell me that drinking water all day makes you feel much better than drinking coffee all day, but I never listened. I’m a convert for life. After my first two cups of coffee, I’ve been switching over to water for the remainder of the day.
2. Lose those last 3 pounds my body has been hanging on to recently.
Done! I’m back to wearing all my favorite items of clothing. It’s amazing how a few extra pounds can make such a difference. It’s not about being “skinny” but about feeling healthy and like my regular self.
3. Exercise 45 minutes 5x a week
I’m not sure if I hit this goal or not since I didn’t really track my exercise each day, but I think I was close. Joe and I have been playing a lot of tennis, which means we can be exercising for 1 1/2 hours on any given night. I think makes up for any of my shorter workouts. I’ve also been upping my running mileage and getting in more runs in the 3 1/2 to 4+ mile range. The plan is to find a half marathon to sign up for later this summer or fall. I’m really missing having something to train for and the feeling of going on a really long weekend run.
4. Make a vitamin and supplement plan and stick to it
For a number of reasons (too lengthy to go into with this post) I have had to re-vamp my vitamin and supplement routine. I bought one of those little plastic pill boxes to keep track of all my vitamins, yet another example of how I’m 80 years old at heart. I’m taking a daily vitamin D, a series of herbal supplements from my acupuncturist, Metanx, fish oil and a baby aspirin daily. I’m also looking to add a daily DHA supplement soon.
5. Log food and water intake in My Fitness Pal each day
I didn’t really succeed in this regard. After a few weeks I lost steam and got a little bored with logging all my food. Now that my body has settled back to my regular weight, I’m less interested in a daily calorie tally.
6. Participate in my friend Robin’s (free!) Pilates Summer Series
I had such a great time participating in the Pilates Summer Series! It’s amazing how doing just 5 to 10 minutes of toning Pilates each day can make a difference in your body. The videos are still online and will remain on Robin’s site, so head over there and browse. I’m planning on continuing to do the videos in the weeks and months to come!

June Food and Fitness Goals
1. Try One New Fitness Class I’m an introvert at heart, although you probably wouldn’t guess so if you met me. Sometimes I shy away from trying new things, like a new fitness class at our gym. My goal is to mix things up by trying at least one new class this month.

2. Drink 80 oz Water Daily
Keeping this one on the list because it’s a new habit and I think I could use a daily reminder to keep it up.

3. Eat More Mindfully/Practice Intuitive Eating
Sometimes I find myself getting caught up in the routine of eating, rather than listening to what my body is saying. this month I want to focus on eating more intuitively and base my food choices and the timing of my meals around what my body is saying instead of based around what time it is or what I feel like I should eat.

4. Beat Joe in a Set of Tennis
Joe and I made a list of summer goals, and this topped my list. We’re pretty competitive in tennis and it’s one of the few sports we can play together where I hold my own. I’ve come very close to beating him already this spring/summer. Joe says I haven’t been “big enough to handle the moment!” Ha!

5. Get in 10,000 Steps Per Day
I recently got a FitBit Flex through work and have been having a fun time tracking my steps each day. I’m making a conscious effort to get in at least 10,000 steps each day. On the weekends it’s much easier than during the week, but I’m finding that most days I do get above the 10,000 step mark. It’s nice to have a tangible reminder to take the stairs and walk more throughout the day.

What are your food and fitness goals for the month?

Madison

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From Vegetarian to Paleo?

January 5, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 8.52.34 AMPhoto via Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse 

Friends, it’s time I got honest with you about a secret I’ve been keeping for the last month or so. As the title of this post suggests, the way I’ve been eating and how my diet and evolved has changed quite a bit over the last month. After eating vegetarian for over 3 years, I’ve been dabbling in the world of paleo-style eating, meaning my new diet is heavy on the veggies (no change there), meat (big change there!), fruit and nuts.

I hesitate to say that I’ve really been eating truly “paleo” since that’s not entirely accurate. It’s probably the reason I’ve always hated labels when it comes to eating styles, because I think what works for each individual person rarely fits into a very neatly defined category or diet structure. If you are one of those people, count yourself lucky that you don’t need to explain your eating style and can very neatly tie it up into a single phrase or term.

As a bit of background, ever since my miscarriage I’ve been reading a lot about nutrition and what we put into our bodies. In no way am I saying that I think the way I was eating caused my miscarriage, but I felt a pull to re-evaluate what I eat and why I eat it. In the wake of my miscarriage, I had a serious almost primal desire to eat eggs, eggs eggs! And chicken! And I even found myself craving a sandwich with turkey deli meat. Strange coming from someone who hates eggs, has never craved chicken in my 3+ years of being vegetarian and really never loved deli meat even when I wasn’t veg.

Since I’ve always focused on eating a balanced, well-rounded vegetarian diet with seafood mixed in now and again, the cravings really took me by surprise. But, as my mom once said, if you’re craving something it must mean that your body is telling you something, that something is lacking in one way or another. (Side note: I don’t think that saying applies to, say, chocolate cake, ice cream or brownies.) My mom is so wise like that. She has always been a huge supporter of “listening to your body.”

So, I set off on my new “experiment” if you will with a few general guidelines:
1. Give paleo-style eating a try and use it as a rough guideline going forward. However, breakfast was my one non-negotiable. Since I am pretty attached to my morning bowl of oat bran with nut butter (either peanut butter or almond butter) I wasn’t going to part ways with that aspect of eating any time soon. However, since starting this new way of eating, I have found that eating eggs with a slice of bacon tastes way better with a cup of black coffee than oatmeal, oat bran or anything sweet ever could. Who knew?
2. Focus as much as possible on quality meats, organic and free-range poultry and sustainably caught fish. I love canned tuna but have been shelling out the extra $$ for pole-caught tuna with a low mercury content. I was never a steak eater, so I don’t see myself eating a bunch of red meat anytime soon, but that’s not to say that I won’t ever eat red meat, just in moderation.
3. Avoid eating grains, breads, pastas, legumes and all sweets/baked goods as much as possible. I’ve been making exceptions here and there to this rule. I’m still eating hummus and peanut butter because of the ease and convenience, but mostly I’ve been getting my carbs from foods like sweet potatoes, the occasional banana and squash. I’m not going to lie, right now I’m dreaming about a crusty whole grain roll with butter the way I used to dream about chocolate cake.
4. Eat plenty of healthy fats. I’ve been eating a lot of healthy fats in the form of almonds, walnuts, avocados and olive oil. These have really helped me feel super satisfied at mealtimes and when having a snack.

So far, I’ve been feeling really great! I’m amazed at how full I feel after meals and I find I’m staying full longer than in the past. I’m not sure where this will take me, but I’ll keep you posted along the way.

Has anyone else made a big shift in eating styles? I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences! 
Madison

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