Feel the Burn: 4th of July Firecracker Plyo Workout

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This past Monday we did a themed workout at Team LUNA Chix Portland Run practice in honor of the upcoming holiday. And there’s no way to pay better tribute to the explosive power of all those 4th of July fireworks shows than with plyometrics, of course!

Plyometric workouts are great for runners because this type of training helps produce greater power and efficiency through the recruitment of more muscle fibers. In layman’s terms: When you train your muscles to contract more quickly and forcefully, you can really amp up your strength and speed.

Hint: If you’re not familiar with some of the moves listed, simply Google the term, and you’ll be able to find a description or video of it in action.

And, as always, remember to go at your own pace and use proper form. Think quality over quantity when it comes to this workout!

Do you utilize plyometrics in your training?

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StitchFix Shipment No. 10 Review

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StitchFix no. nine landed me a comfy-yet-cute sweater (read about it here) after I tasked my stylist with finding belly-friendly items to fit an eight-plus-months pregnant lady but also be versatile enough to be used postpartum.

For my tenth installment, I waited until three months after giving birth to try to avoid too much transitional clothing. Although I’m just about back in my old sizes, things don’t quite fit the same yet; I’m still carrying a bit of extra weight, and it’s distributed a bit differently nowadays (hello, boobs!).

For this particular fix, I told my stylist I was looking for mom-friendly (read: cute, but easy-care and easy-fit) items that would work for summer. And since we’ve got a wedding coming up in August, I also asked for a breezy-yet-bright dress option that would flatter my new-found “mombod.”

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Let’s take a peek at what came in this month’s box, shall we?

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First up was the Kut from the Kloth Kate Distressed Boyfriend Jean ($78). The big bummer? I was sent these in a previous fix!

But the good news is that I kept the previous pair because I liked the fit, so I decided to give these another chance. Not only was the wash darker, but my stylist said they’re perfect for summer with flats or sandals.

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Next was the Loveappella Jono Mixed Print Top ($48). It was love at first sight; the cut and color were right up my alley.

My stylist thought it was a great option for summer, especially with white jeans or denim shorts. Although the material is pretty thin, I thought the asymmetrical print at the collar was a nice touch.

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Third was the Mystree Chamberlin Striped Drape Front Cardigan ($78). Horizontal stripes, though? This one would really have to wow me.

The neutral tones are pretty, and I love having the option of something to throw on when it inevitably gets chilly on Portland summer nights. My stylist clearly thought the same, and likely figured the draping would be flattering on a still-shifting shape.

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After that was the Donna Morgan Lideea Dress ($158). My stylist called this one a “show-stopper romantic dress.”

Sure enough, the floral print is perfect for a summer wedding, and the A-line shape is one of my favorites. I particularly liked the extra details at the bust and hem, however this style seemed to run large even though the numerical size was correct.

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And, finally, came the Loveappella Olivier Crochet Yoke Knit Top ($54). Light and airy, this sweater looked like the perfect summer layering piece.

According to my stylist, it should be worn with the jeans and flats as an easygoing outfit. I liked how the crochet detail up top broadened my shoulders, although the fit was a little looser than I usually wear.

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So what did I end up keeping?

In the end, second time was a charm for the Kut from the Kloth jeans. Although I was disappointed to not have a whole new style to try, my previous pair has been getting a lot of use so I figured it’d be good to have a backup (baby spit-up, anyone?).

I felt like I was swimming in both of the sweaters, and the dress would have to be take in and hemmed to fit properly, as well (I’m holding it in the back in the picture to cinch it). And I just couldn’t justify spending nearly $50 on the coral top because the material was super thin, even though the color and style were on point.

My next fix is scheduled for August, and I’m requesting some trend-driven pieces for fall because I’m hoping to be a tad closer to pre-baby shape by then and I love layering up as the temperatures drop! So stay tuned to see what kind of magic my stylist works for StitchFix no. 11…

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling my next fix! 

Recipe: Three Ingredient Nutella Brownies

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While these aren’t exactly healthy, per se, they do hit the spot when you’re hit with a craving for super-fudgy brownies and have very few ingredients on hand.

Just three, to be exact: Eggs, salt and Nutella. Yes, Nigella Lawson is a genius.

And if Nutella’s not a staple in your pantry, well, then it’s a great excuse to stock up because this dessert is a surefire crowd-pleaser!

Three Ingredient Nutella Brownies

(original recipe here)

Ingredients: 

  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 2 pinches of fine sea salt
  • 1 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line the base and sides of an 8-in.-square cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat eggs and one pinch of salt on high until mixture doubles in size and is pale and mousse-like (about 5 minutes).
  3. Place Nutella in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat for about 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds, or until slightly runny.
  4. With mixer on medium-high, slowly drizzle all of the heated Nutella into the eggs until fully combined (the volume of the eggs will decrease).
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan, sprinkle with another pinch of sea salt, and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely in the pan (about an hour) before removing from pan. Cut into 16 squares and serve.
Are you a Nutella fan, or no? If, so, what’s your favorite way to savor the spread?

Baby H: 36-Week Update

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We’ve reached the point of what I’ve dubbed the “ninth-month conundrum” where you’re so ready to NOT be pregnant anymore…yet you’re so NOT ready to not be pregnant. Meaning, it’s starting to hit both Ben and me that — wow — this kiddo is imminent.

And although I feel like we got a lot accomplished this past month — baby shower, childbirth class, car-seat installation, car tune-up, clothes washing and hospital bag packing, just to name a few — the to-do list is still very much in progress. As in, my priorities are tying up loose ends at work for my maternity break and getting the apartment really organized (read: obsessively cleaned) and ready for Baby H’s homecoming.

So here’s where things stand at our 36-week “bumpdate.”

Month Nine: In the last month alone, baby is estimated to have almost doubled in weight (~5-6 pounds) and measures somewhere around 19 inches long. It amazes me that with all this technology we have now there’s not a more accurate way to gauge his/her size, but I guess the exact stats are part of the fun of delivery day!

Weight Gained: Right around 25 pounds. I’m still loading up on good fats and doing lots of snacking to help Baby H pack on those final few layers of adorable chub. I’m trying to up my water intake, too, to keep well-hydrated and to maintain good fluid levels.

Workouts: While they’re nothing like my old intensity, I’m thankful to still be moving at least 5-6 days per week. I’m listening to my body carefully, steering clear of high-impact activities (they’re neither appealing nor comfortable) and limiting myself to a maximum of 30 minutes of “easy” cardio per session, whether it’s the recumbent bike, elliptical, stair stepper or walking. I’ll toss in some yoga, barre or strength training a few days a week, as well, just to keep my muscles awake and engaged.

Symptoms: Normal-sized meals are now totally off-limits, unfortunately. Even my strategy of hardcore, well-paced snacking is pushing it; despite aiming for healthier Superbowl fare this year, I still ended up propped up on the couch for hours afterward, in misery, with my digestive system struggling to process the remnants of our Mexican fiesta. Bending over is non-existent, although I’ve come up with a number of ways to contort my body to accommodate the belly, much to Ben’s amusement. And I get out of breath with even the smallest effort — like going up a flight of stairs, getting out of the car or even putting on socks — so I’ve learned to allow for extra time to keep myself from having to deal with the cascade of Braxton Hicks contractions that will inevitably result.

Food Aversions: Nada, thankfully. Well, aside from the lactose-free milk that Ben accidentally grabbed last week instead of our usual 2% — gross!

Food Cravings: Oranges. So much so that I plowed through a 10-pound box last month. And now that those are gone, I’ve moved on to clementines, apples and raspberries. But cheese sticks, milk and cereal are all in heavy rotation — along with pints of ice cream that keep finding their way into our freezer (thanks, Ben). So it’s safe to say that dairy’s still up there on the cravings list, too. Oh, and sweets…although I *try* to limit my candy consumption to a few pieces per day or chocolate or chewy fruity things.

Sleep: Not sleeping well is now the norm, so there’s not much to add here. I’m guessing that this means we’ve truly begun our transition to parenthood?!

Looking Forward To: As small as it seems, setting up the crib. Because then it’ll really feel “real”…and hopefully we’ll feel somewhat prepared. Big picture, though? Meeting him or her soon! Both Ben and I are excited to find out who this little person is that’s about to rock our worlds.

Boy/Girl Suspicions: None. And I hope to keep them that way until delivery day because we’ve made it this far! We’re still getting feedback that’s pretty evenly split, so your guess is as good as mine. Wanna weigh in? 

Any Fun Stories? Baby H is what I affectionately call my “breech ball baby” because s/he is still settled butt-down, curled into a comfy little ball. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it “fun,” we do have some decisions to make over the next few weeks that will potentially affect our labor and delivery options. In the meantime, I’ve been doubling down on acupuncture, chiropractic, moxibustion and inversions in an attempt to get him or her to bust a move and head south. More on that soon!

Stay tuned for what could be our ten-month update (yikes!) in just a few weeks…

10 Third Trimester Life-Savers

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After sharing my first trimester and second trimester essentials, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty with a few items that are helping to get me through the home stretch of pregnancy — aka the third trimester.

As always, everyone’s experience varies, but I thought it’d be fun to share a few of my favorite items for making life just a little bit easier during these final few weeks…

1. Maternity Swimsuit

One thing I’ve discovered this trimester is that the amount of time you’ll want to spend in the pool is directly proportional to how far along you are in your pregnancy, which is why a good maternity swimsuit is essential.

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I sized up and purchased this one from Coeur Sports for days I want to let the belly breathe, but also received an unused hand-me-down Liz Lange maternity swimsuit (mine pictured above) from a friend that’s been my go-to on cold mornings or days when I want a little more modesty at the pool.

2. Chiropractic Work

As your body preps itself to be able to push your baby out, hormones help loosen related ligaments; the upside is that this helps make room, but the downside is that it’s super easy to throw your spine and pelvis out of proper alignment.

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Based on a recommendation from my prenatal movement coach, I’ve recently started regular sessions with a local practitioner who specializes in prenatal care — not only has it worked wonders on my tweaky SI joint, but I’m also hoping it’ll encourage Baby H to move into a head-down position.

3. Acupuncture

Even before pregnancy, I was all about exploring alternative medicines, but it’s especially important now if it could help me achieve optimal health while Baby H is developing at his or her different stages of growth and differentiation.

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I’ve been going about once a month for the past year, but now that I’m in the third trimester I made the switch to another local resource who specializes in women’s health in the hopes that I can bake this little bun well and, maybe just maybe, persuade Baby H to flip.

4. TUMS

Almost every pregnant woman’s best friend, you’ll be popping these puppies like candy come the last few months — or as soon as your expanding uterus starts to encroach upon precious stomach space.

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Of course, you don’t want to overdo it so be sure to discuss any supplementation with your doctor first; but assuming you get the go ahead, take as directed to help soothe your poor esophagus from the retaliation of your squashed stomach.

5. Hypnobirth App

Created by an experienced practicing Midwife and hypnotherapist, this app was recommended by a friend who has been using it to help keep herself calm, relaxed and confident as delivery day draws nearer.

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And because these last few weeks seem to be flying by, I’m making more of an effort to be mindful and enjoy the moment — to take time to sit down, do nothing and just be with my growing baby without distractions — so we’ll see if this helps!

6. All. The. Butters.

This was a second trimester must-have, but it’s well worth mentioning again now that the belly is swelling to epic proportions and starting to itch and pull in odd places.

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I’ve been alternating Farmaesthetics Nourishing Herbal CreamBooda Butter and The Spoiled Mama’s Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks in heavy rotation after each shower in the hopes that they’ll help keep my skin elastic enough to accommodate Baby H as s/he packs on the pounds.

7. All. The. Fiber.

As regular as I was before and during the majority of my pregnancy, there are days now when my digestive system comes to a grinding halt — yep, there’s no such thing as TMI when we’re talking pregnancy — so the best defense is a good offense when it comes to preventing constipation.

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When I’m not popping probiotics, prunes or other high-fiber whole foods, I’ll occasionally sneak a pack of my new favorite treat when I’m craving sweets but want to try to steer clear of the super unhealthy stuff.

8. Support Gear

Like we need another piece of clothing to struggle into while pregnant, right?! But hear me out here…support gear is highly underrated when it comes to keeping yourself comfortable while dragging around an extra 25-35 pounds in your midsection.

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I’m still using my Blanqi BODYSTYLER® Maternity Underbust Belly Support Tanks daily (use my referral link to get a code for 20% off!), and even though I’m not running, I’ve started using my heavy-duty maternity support belt to help keep things reinforced during walks and other activities.

9. Mama-to-Be Teas

When it comes time to kick up those (now-swollen) feet at the end of the day, I can’t think of a better way to relax than with a good book and a hot cup of tea.

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Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Mama-To-Be Sampler just so happens to be one of my favorites — not only is is a local Oregon company, but it’s also got a box of its four best-selling varieties geared specifically for us queasy, heartburn-prone, anxiety-ridden and/or waiting-for-the-big-day preggos.

10. Maternity Activewear

You may have already seen my post on Mumberry, which makes super-legit maternity activewear, thanks to the brand’s signature Mumband™, which is built into all of their apparel and provides crucial belly and back support.

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But another staple in my gym-going attire has been Ingrid & Isabel’s Active Legging with Crossover Panel, which was recommended by another pregnant friend; these pants are beyond comfy with thick material, a good fit and a stomach panel that stays put — definitely worth checking out!

What are your must-haves for the third trimester of pregnancy? Any other tips to share?

StitchFix Shipment No. 9 Review

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My last StitchFix netted me two solid basics for pregnancy and beyond (read about it here) after asking my stylist for items that would grow with me and my ever-changing belly.

The dress was a life-saver this fall at both a retirement party and, sadly, a funeral. And while I have yet to wear the blouse (it’s just a tad roomy, and I’m trying to get away with wrapping the bump while I still can), I know it’s time is coming…as in when I need to switch to tent-like styles in the last month or so of pregnancy, plus afterwords while nursing.

For my ninth fix, I gave my stylist a heads up that I’d be a little more than eight months along. But rather than investing in additional maternity clothing at this stage of the game, I asked her to get creative with items that would double as both late-pregnancy and postpartum wardrobe staples.

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Let’s take a peek at what came in this month’s box, shall we?

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First up was the Le Lis Bray Raglan Textured Knit Top ($58). I have a hard time passing up a baseball-sleeve top for whatever reason, so this one was immediately intriguing.

My stylist picked it because I’d asked about chunky knit sweaters, so she thought this one would be a fun take on the traditional look. It’s super comfy and I love how stretchy it is; however, the thin, delicate — almost airy — knit of the sleeves makes me nervous, considering I’ll have a kiddo clinging to me soon.

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Next was the Laila Jayde Malaga Drape Cardigan ($48). This one had me at the robin-egg blue; what a great color, right?

I tried it out below with a casual tank and ballet flats, but it can really be dressed up or down depending on the clothing and accessories with which it’s paired. My stylist, for example, showed me two versions — one with a t-shirt, jeans and boots; the other with a pencil skirt, shell and heels — so if I can step out of my comfort zone with this one, it might be a good addition to my wardrobe.

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Third was the Mystree Rigley Knit Top ($58). I’m pretty sure my stylist included this one because I requested some fun, longer tops I could pair with leggings to look somewhat pulled-together when what I really want is to be in pajamas.

It seems like a pretty versatile top that I can wear with different kinds of pants and layer with scarves, sweaters and jackets. But the material is super thin, which is surprising with regards to the price tag, plus I’m not sure I’m loving where the length hits me.

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After that was the Skies are Blue Torry Embroidered Tunic ($64). By this point in pregnancy, anything that slims is beyond appreciated (my sister’s comment: “You don’t even look pregnant in that!”)…but I wanted to keep my wits about me when considering this one.

My stylist suggested this top for a dressier look when paired with any cut of jeans or even a dress pant. The collar detail and shape are flattering, as is the cut and color, but I’m just not sure if I need another blouse like this in my closet.

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And, finally, came the Rune Porter Leggings ($38). My stylist chose these because they’ve got a mid-rise, thicker waistband and feel more substantial than your typical legging, meaning they’re very post-baby friendly.

As you can see in the pictures below, they’re comfortable, versatile and flattering (well, as much as possible at 8.5-months pregnant), which is a win. But, again, I’m just not sure if I can justify that kind of price tag without any other bells, whistles — or slimming belly panels!

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So what did I end up keeping?

In the end, I opted for just the Le Lis Bray Raglan Textured Knit Top. The other items were nice, but this one got both my sister and Ben’s top vote for being cute, comfortable and unlike anything I’ve currently got in my closet.

My next fix is scheduled for May, and I requested items to perk up my warm-weather wardrobe. I know I won’t necessarily be back to pre-baby shape by then, but I’m hoping it’ll give me a little inspiration for some summer events we’ve got scheduled. So stay tuned to see what she’s got up her sleeve for fix no. 10!

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling my next fix! 

Baby H: 32-Week Update

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A girlfriend (who also happens to be pregnant and due around the same time) recently shared with me a great description of what it’s like at this point of pregnancy: It feels like you don’t have much time left, but there’s still a long way to go.

As in, there’s a lot that needs to be done before our new roomie arrives — crib setup, car-seat installation, clothes washing, hospital bag packing! — but then again two more months of living day-in and day-out in this state feels like it might get old…very soon, if not already. So, without further ado, here’s our 32-week “bumpdate”…

Month Eight: Estimated at a little more than three pounds (as of our most recent ultrasound) and anywhere from 17-19 inches long from end to end, Baby H’s new job is to start packing on the pounds in preparation for life outside the womb. According to my app, all senses are operational, too, which is exciting because I’m constantly wondering what’s going on in there with each little thump or squirm that I feel!

Weight Gained: Still hovering at a little more than 20 pounds. I was expecting that number to be higher after all my holiday indulgences, but my doctor says I’m tracking just fine for total gain, so I’m just loading up on good fats with things like eggs, nuts, avocados (and maybe the occasional ice cream sundae) to help Baby H build up that fat to help with temperature regulation and energy after birth.

Workouts: It’s high time to take it down a notch. Not only am I limiting cardio to 30-minute sessions, per my doctor’s recommendation, but I’m also following the talk test more strictly. And I’m also sticking with low-impact cross-training, which means more barre, Pilates, light weights, yoga and the like.

Symptoms: I miss being able to eat whatever I want without feeling full very quickly. Maybe it’s the way Baby H is sitting, but my eyes are quite literally bigger than my stomach at every meal. Normally, I’m a three-square-meals kinda gal with snacking in between, but I’m learning that six smaller ones might be more my speed at this point.

Food Aversions: None, thank goodness. Just getting a little tired of my snack of choice (nuts), so I’ve been searching out new products and recipes to keep from getting bored while trying to consume enough good fats. Stay tuned for more on that!

Food Cravings: Oranges. I can’t get enough of ’em. Which is also convenient because it’s peak cold and flu season, and I could use all the immunity help I can get. We got a box of our favorites delivered direct from Florida, and I’m in heaven. Otherwise, it’s been tough to try to limit the sweets so I can leave some room for high-density foods, such as eggs, avocado, nuts, coconut, etc.

Sleep: It never fails — get a group of preggos together, and inevitably the conversation turns to how much sleep we’re not getting at this point. It fluctuates, depending on the night, but let’s just say I’m operating on average numbers that I’ve never before considered sustainable. Yet, I know I’ll be looking back in a few months and wishing I was getting as much shuteye as I am at the moment, sans baby!

Looking Forward To: All the nesting, which means things are getting real. We’re starting to plan our hospital bags, logisticize a dedicated space for Baby H in our apartment (much to our dogs’ dismay, as their domain is shrinking), wash tiny clothes (Dreft smell!) and gather all the other necessary gear.

Boy/Girl Suspicions: I still don’t have a strong feeling. Ben’s mom surprised us over the holidays at a family dinner with something really fun — she had a dozen each of pink cupcakes and blue cupcakes, and people got to vote by selecting their dessert. In the end, blue won. But it’s also worth saying that my new chiropractor, unprompted, said her vote is for pink. So I think it’s safe to say that this kid’s got everyone stumped.

Any Fun Stories? Baby H apparently has a sense of humor. And some impressive flexibility skills. Or we’re just getting a sneak peek at a future trouble-maker. At my last ultrasound, s/he was sitting comfortably breech — butt down and legs up overhead — although s/he usually prefers to tuck both feet under my ribs. Apparently I have a few more weeks until Baby H may settle into a final position, although s/he seems pretty darn comfortable hanging out as-is!

Stay tuned for the month nine update in a few weeks…