Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's Time For A Change, Part 3 - The Solutions

I'm not sure why NOW is the time I'm feeling so motivated to make a lot of changes, but it is and I've already started making some that are having a positive impact.

To recap, here are the things I'm hoping to reverse.

* Joint and muscle aches, specifically in my back, legs, and knees. 
* Occasional migraines. 
* Funky little growth on my knee. 
* Lack of energy and focus. 
* Baby weight. 
* Weakened stomach muscles from pregnancy. 
* Minor digestive issues.

And here is the list of ideas of changes I'd like to make. It is ambitious. It won't all happen, but all of these are things I feel like are doable for me.

* Yoga
* Walking
* Add some exercises designed to heal diastasis recti (split stomach muscles)

* Green smoothies
* Cook more with fresh, whole foods
* Curb late night snacks (usually junk food)
* No more Dr. Pepper :-(

* Vitamin D3 (this could happen by tanning, too)
* B complex
* Others as I determine what I need, especially to decrease inflammation

* Get bloodwork to check D3, thyroid, cholesterol, glucose, etc.
* Get this stupid bump taken off of my knee!

* Go to bed by midnight (I'm a night owl so this will be a huge improvement for me)
* Maybe buy a new mattress with our tax refund?

And just for fun, beauty:
* Hair cut
* Hair color

* Get vents cleaned
* Continue to avoid toxins, GMOs, etc., and purchase organic and local when possible

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's Time For A Change, Part 2 - The Problem Areas

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm soon to be 37 and I've never paid close attention to my health, fitness, or nutrition. For many years I worked in very sedentary jobs. And then in my mid-30s I had two babies in 15 months. Good thing my babies (now toddlers) are cute because I have a lot of daily aches and pains now that I never had before I carried them in my belly.

My goal over the next several months is to identify any health issues I have and make manageable changes to help fix them. More on my ideas for solutions next time, but today, here is what I'm hoping to address:

* Joint and muscle aches, specifically in my back, legs, and knees. My upper back has started hurting recently, I suspect due to the very non-ergonomic ways I pick up my kids and hold my youngest while she is nursing (shoulders hunched, lots of stress at the base of my neck). My knees have hurt ever since being pregnant. I had to do a lot of stairs at home and work and I was carrying a lot of extra weight. My knees have never been the same. My lower back has suffered from years of bad posture, bad office chairs, and a bad mattress.

* Occasional migraines. This is one area that has actually improved since having kids. Before, I would get a migraine almost every month at the beginning of my cycle and I seemed to be more prone to them due to other factors as well. They are much improved but I'd be delighted never to have another one.

* Funky little growth on my knee. A dermatologist told me it was harmless but it is ugly and sometimes hurts (like, a lot) when I bump it.

* Lack of energy and focus. I haven't had 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep in over 3 years so this isn't a surprise, but I'm sure some positive nutrition and lifestyle changes might help.

* Baby weight. I'm still carrying about 10 pounds of baby weight. And I'm okay with the fact that my body has changed. Again, back-to-back pregnancies have left their mark. My hips and rib cage widened and my feet grew a size. That's okay. But I don't feel healthy. That's the problem. I walk with a heavy step. I'm 5'8" and weigh 159 (with winter clothes and heavy shoes). I know I'm not fat but I'm not healthy and I'm not strong.

* Weakened stomach muscles from pregnancy. I actually had very easy and enjoyable pregnancies both times. I'm one of those annoying people that LOVE being pregnant. Even the stuff that's not fun is okay because it is such a special, unique time and I know I'm growing a human. But early in my first pregnancy I had an incident in which I suspect I strained a round ligament and it gave me grief ever after. My stomach muscles also split and I don't think they have ever fully healed.

* Minor digestive issues. Over the last month or so I feel like I've had some subtle digestive issues. I haven't felt terrible and I suspect this has a great deal to do with all of the holiday junk food I ate, but it is a little unusual for me.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It's Time For Change, Part 1

I'm back! It has been a while since I've used this blog. It seems that most of the people I want to keep up with are on Facebook so most of my blog activity has come to a halt. I'm actually hoping that this new post doesn't attract too much attention. Just by publishing this post I feel like I'll have some accountability but I don't necessarily want to publicize what I plan to write about to everyone I know.

So, it's January. Resolution time for many people. I never make resolutions, at least not since grade school when it seemed that resolutions were always the essay topic du jour after Christmas break. I'm not making them today but it is definitely time for me to take some intentional steps to improve my health. As far as I know I don't have any chronic diseases or conditions, but almost 37 years of NOT paying any attention to my health and birthing two babies in quick succession have taken their toll.

My goal is to make changes that are realistic and maintainable for my lifestyle. In other words, any changes I make have to fit within the framework of my budget, schedule, and taste preferences. I won't be buying hundreds of dollars worth of supplements or spending hours at the gym. Even so, I have several great ideas for small changes that can potentially have big impact.

Stay tuned for next time when I outline what I'm hoping to fix through this process.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Baby Gizmo Britax B-Nimble Giveaway

Okay, moms and dads, if you don't know about Baby Gizmo, you should. It's my go-to web destination when I need details about great baby products. Hollie Schultz makes detailed product review videos so you can see a product in action before shelling out your hard-earned money on something that might not be quite right.

Last fall, I was in the market for a lightweight stroller. Noa and I were flying to Texas for a long weekend without Jon, so I needed something light that I could handle while pregnant and dealing with a squirmy 9-month-old. After checking out some other sites and watching several of Hollie's videos, I settled on the Britax B-Nimble and I have not been sorry. It has a ton of great features such as a removable seat cover, extra tall handles (no stooping!), great storage for a lightweight, super easy setup and collapse, fits up to a 55-pound child, and it is compatible with our car seat with the included adapter kit.

Child Seat 

Baby Gizmo recently hit 5 million (!) Youtube views, so to celebrate, they are hosting 30 days of great giveaways featuring some of their most popular products from past reviews. Today's giveaway is...the Britax B-Nimble stroller! Head on over to this blog post to enter. And if you don't win the stroller, 25 other lucky winners will receive one of Britax's awesome stroller organizers! 

I'll be honest, I'm hoping to win the stroller. With baby #2 on the way VERY soon, I'd love to have a second B-Nimble to add to our fleet. In theory, we wouldn't even need a double stroller - we could just connect the B-Nimbles with stroller connectors when needed and both babies would be riding in comfort and style. Good luck!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Two Doable and Satisfying Projects

Project 1:
I am a very crafty my head. I read craft blogs and books, am familiar with all of the big names in the craft world, and have a good stash of craft supplies at home. I make lots of plans to "make" instead of "buy" but invariably I run out of time or inspiration. That's why I'm so glad I found this project.

I am attending a baby shower for a special friend today. She already has two little girls and is getting ready to welcome a little boy into their home. I wanted to give her (and him) something special but didn't have a lot of money to spend. But making something for her is intimidating because she is super creative and crafty herself. When Noa was born, she gifted him achingly cute appliqued onesies and personalized burp cloths. So while the alternative to buying something was to make something, I wanted it to be something I could complete on time and in a manner worthy of the receiver. 

The Black Apple doll is all of that. First of all, I had all of the supplies already on hand. I did run out to Joann to pick out a couple of $1.50 fat quarters because I wasn't happy with the fabrics in my stash. Oh, and I also needed some poly-fill. Otherwise, I had everything else I needed.
The most time consuming part for me was the first step: cutting out the template. I cut it first out of regular printer paper but then decided that since I plan on making more of these dolls in the future, I should cut it from light cardboard instead. I also cut extra face and arm pieces as well since I know I have at least two more of these in my near future.

After that, it's amazing really how quickly this comes together. I'm used to sewing hula costumes and it is extremely time consuming to sew hems and elastic channels along 12 feet of fabric (the normal amount for our pa'u skirts). Total time at the machine for this project is a matter of minutes. Stuffing is sort of time consuming as well, but I just got comfy on the couch for that part and it went quickly.

My only comments to someone else attempting this project would be to plan your embellishments or variations before you start. The only thing I varied for this one is that I added a necktie, but I've seen other examples with buttons, skirts, pigtails, stitched faces (instead of ink/paint), scarves, etc. From that perspective, I wish I would have had time to finish the one I plan to make for Noa's 1st birthday before the one I'm giving as a gift. I didn't like that the gift doll was my practice one, so to speak. There are probably a couple of other tweaks that I would make next time, specifically to make the doll look more boyish, although this time around I think the necktie does the trick. 

This is a great project. I feel like I accomplished something but it didn't stress me out in the process or stretch over multiple days. And the possibilities for personalization are endless. On top of that, I'm a huge fan of The Black Apple (blog, Etsy), so I was really happy to use her tutorial.

Project 2:

Since I had the sewing machine out, I decided to make some babylegs for Noa and Baby Girl. The tutorial was passed along to me by teacher extraordinaire and super crafter Jen. (I would seriously consider moving across town if it meant my kids could be guaranteed a spot in her classroom in a few years.) I cleaned out my sock drawer a couple of weekends ago and set aside a couple of taller pairs of the castoffs with this project in mind. They were SO easy that I almost didn't believe it when I was finished. Another project I'd highly recommend!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vinegar Experiment #2: Cleaning the Showerhead

For my next vinegar experiment, I decided to clean our showerhead. Although I hadn't noticed any issue with the water flow, I had seen some hard water buildup on the showerhead. This one is super easy. You just put some white distilled vinegar in a plastic baggie and secure it around your showerhead with a rubber and or pipe cleaner. Leave it on for an hour or so and then wipe with a wet cloth. The verdict?

Grade: A...or maybe I should just give it a passing grade since it's just so easy and you can see from the pictures below that it really did get clean - on the outside at least. I really can't say if this made any difference on the inside of the showerhead and, like I said, we weren't having any issues with water flow so I can't judge it that way.





Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Dilemma

Like all moms, I try to do the best I can for my son as often as possible. The best that I know and am capable of might be different from yours but once I've heard or read that something is harmful or beneficial for my child, it is hard to ignore the information.

I've been making a conscious effort to limit Noa's exposure to BPA, red dye 40, phthalates, GMOs, SAP, etc. The evidence against these things is stronger for some than others, but if there is a known safe choice I try to choose it over a potentially risky one.

At the same time, I have to weigh the cost of the "safer" choice - often it is also more expensive. And safer, greener choices aren't always available at my local Target or grocery store so then I have to decide if it is worth it to order online or drive across town to a specialty store.

So here's the dilemma - Noa got a few toys for Christmas that are from manufacturers that are unfamiliar to me. I have been trying to do a little research but have no idea if I'll be exposing him to lead or phthalates or BPA if I let him play with them. I am very grateful for the generosity of the people that picked these gifts for him - people that would not necessarily even have a reason to be aware of the concern over these harmful substances. Do I donate the toys (and possibly pass the risk to someone else), throw them away (what a waste!), or let him play while consoling myself that I know that 90% of the rest of his toys aren't causing him any lasting harm?

Similarly, I've been organizing, sorting, taking inventory, and cleaning out Noa's closet in anticipation of Baby Girl's arrival. He received a ton of bath products around the time he was born - enough to last a couple of years, probably. Early on, I consulted several different sources, especially the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, to determine which lotions, sunscreens, and body washes I would use on him on a regular basis. Whenever possible, I picked items with a 0-2 rating (low hazard) but they also had to be readily available.

Johnson's baby products were recently under attack in the news because some of them contain dioxane and quaternium-15 (potential carcinogens). I found three bottles containing these substances, so in the trash they went. But it does make me concerned about the other baby products we have in the house. I've found some favorites that I feel comfortable with so I was planning on putting the extra bottles of shampoo and lotion in the donate bag, but is that responsible? What are your thoughts?

The offenders: