StitchFix (Maternity!) Shipment No. 15 Review

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Well hey, StitchFix, it’s been a while! But with baby on board these past few months, I’ve been waiting until now to update my maternity wardrobe.

I kept all the items from my last fix (read about it here), so I tried to be just as specific this time around with my requests – namely, a pair of fun jeans and a dainty-yet-unique necklace, plus a few tops and sweaters to use as the bump grows.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

Now let’s take a peek at what showed up in this month’s box…

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First up was the Just Black Maternity Andrea Released Hem Skinny Jean ($88).

At this point (17 weeks along) forgiving waistbands are essential, so these immediately caught my eye.

I’ve got a few pairs of standard blue and black denim from last round, but this time I’m all about color – especially as we enter the dreary Portland winter months.

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Next was the Romolo Munroe Feather Pendant Necklace ($28).

Pretty basic, yes. But I like the beaded detail on the chain, it’s a perfect length and it’ll add some interest to outfits without overwhelming them.

Plus, I’m not a fan of A) much or B) big jewelry, so this will be a great staple for accessorizing.

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Third was the Skies are Blue Olivina Hooded Slub Knit Cardigan ($58).

It’s got a classic color and shape, plus the open design is good for all stages of pregnancy and beyond.

The sleeve detail on the bottom threw me a bit, though – it’s a spandex-type material that goes maybe a quarter of the way up your arm – but maybe it’s good for keeping sleeves pushed up?

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After that was the Kensie Lona Zipper Sleeve Pullover ($68).

To be honest, this was the only piece that didn’t thrill me straight out of the package, but I withheld judgment because you never know until you try it on.

The color is mix of gray, taupe and green, which is kind of ‘meh,’ though, plus the shape is a little boxy for my taste…but we’ll see.

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And last but not least was the Loveappella Maternity Jillyen Roll Cuff Knit Top ($48).

As soon as I pulled this top out of the box, I knew it was my style – casual and sporty.

The material looked a tad see-through, however, so I definitely wanted to see how it looked on before deciding.

So what did I end up keeping?

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Once again…everything!

Here’s my reasoning: The jeans and short-sleeved top were no-brainers. I don’t currently have anything like the hooded sweater (which is great for fall layering!) or the necklace.

And the sweater I was so-so about? Factor in the 25 percent discount if you purchase all five items, and it made sense to keep the whole box.

Well played, StitchFix, well played!

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 pay for StitchFix on my own, and since I love the service, it’s fun to share my experience. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling the next fix! 

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Fit Mom: Valerie Marshall on Finding the Balance in Motherhood

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One week overdue with baby number two (left) & just five weeks postpartum (right)!

Most of the time I dedicate my Q&A’s here on the blog to athletes in pursuit of race goals, but this week I’m talking to a now-mom-of-two with some pretty awesome athletic achievements of her own.

I did a double-take when Valerie Marshall posted her pregnancy transformation shots (below) a few months back and was curious to chat with her more about her post-pregnancy journey.

While Val’s results may not necessarily be the norm (case in point: I’ve still got a few pounds to lose seven months out, but I’m in no hurry), they’re a testament to her hard work and dedication.

Yes, Val looks fabulous, but what I particularly love is that she embodies how pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood can be incorporated into a lifelong pursuit of health and fitness instead of approaching them as if you’ve reached the end of the road.

Read on for more of her philosophies, as well as Val’s top tip for new moms who are looking to reclaim their fitness and achieve “homeostasis” in their life…

Your transformation picture after your first pregnancy is impressive! What was your motivation for getting back into shape post-baby?

My motivation for getting into shape postpartum was easy and natural for me; I just wanted to exercise the way I did prior to pregnancy (and breastfeeding definitely helped). Before I was pregnant with Roman, my first pregnancy, I was training for my fourth marathon and I so badly wanted to get back to that place.

Did you do anything during your pregnancy that you think allowed you to bounce back more quickly after?

During my pregnancy I continued to exercise, but I modified high intensity workouts to medium or low intensity. As third trimester approached, I started to walk instead of run and do yoga or barre instead spin class. I believe that I bounced back so quickly postpartum due to exercising regularly before and during my whole pregnancy.

You attribute it to physical and nutritional work, but also a balance of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical – can you elaborate on what that means to you?

I attribute my overall well-being postpartum to the whole spectrum of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical.

Social: Within days postpartum I had my very first date as a mom with my husband, just the two of us. I had a difficult time leaving my newborn son, but I needed to remember that I am not only a mom, but a wife, too. About a week postpartum, I had my first girls’ night since being a mom. Once again, it was difficult to leave my newborn son, but I needed to remember that I am an individual as well as a momma. Plus, it was great bonding for my son to spend one-on-one time with his dad. From that first week on until now, I make sure to schedule out time for my husband, myself and friends and family; it’s all about balance in life.

Emotional: I was very emotional when I first became a momma, and throughout pregnancy; mainly due to hormones and lack of sleep, but also do to a changing lifestyle. To help keep myself in check, I went to yoga/meditated, exercised, and journaled.

Spiritual: Spiritually, I am a Christian and love to worship. So I made sure to set aside time for God, whether at church, in the car, or at home (usually while breastfeeding).

Environmental: This does not directly relate to how I bounced back postpartum, but I do try to use all organic products and organic/minimally processed foods. I enjoy the great outdoors and breathing in fresh air (I love living in Bend where recreational fitness is all around).

Occupational/Intellectual: Prior to being a momma I was a working-woman with a degree in Fitness and Nutrition. I made it a point to keep up on educating myself, so that one day when I do enter the workforce I will not be lost in the dark. I also really love learning about wellness and educating not only myself, but friends and family, as well.

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Val gained 40lbs while pregnant with her first baby (upper left), then had 10 lbs and muscle left to gain one day postpartum (upper right). She credits a “proper balance of wellness” to her results nine mos later (bottom)!

Walk us through some highlights of typical days of exercise & nutrition – immediately after, then 3, 6, 9 and 12 months out from being pregnant.

Highlights of typical days of exercise and nutrition: We all love to have our cake and eat it, too. I am a huge believer in rewarding yourself whether that be with food or not, but for me, I definitely reward myself with desserts. Plus, breastfeeding made me extremely hungry all of the time. I try to eat a “balanced” diet most days of the week to maintain a healthy lifestyle now and for a healthy future.

Nutrition is not only for weight, but is also for prevention and treatment of many diseases, so I try to keep that in mind when I am planning my meals. Meal planning was extremely important for my nutritional habits postpartum. It is so easy just to snack and graze throughout the day or to go long periods of time without eating. I would meal prep and prepare meals usually on Sundays or even just the night before. This definitely takes time out of your already busy and tiring day, but it is so worth it. I could talk days and days about nutrition, it is a true science to find what works for your body and lifestyle.

0-3 months: Due to nap schedules and lack of sleep, I exercised whenever I could find time. During those first three months I spent a lot of time walking, running and doing Barre3. At the local gym, there is a Baby and Mommy cycle class, where I could bring Roman in with me. This class was awesome, I was able to do an hour cycle class and he either napped in the stroller right in front of me or he played on a blanket on the floor.

3-9 months: I was not quite ready to introduce Roman into gym daycares yet, so I continued to exercise at home or when my husband, mom or best friend could watch him. During these months I ran, went to Baby and Mommy cycle class, started cardio yoga and did p90x.

9-12 months: I was finally ready to introduce Roman to gym daycares, which he loves going to. Roman started walking at 9 months, so he was on the move, which made it difficult to exercise at home. At the gym, I participated in HIIT classes, cycle classes, cardio yoga and some light lifting in the weight room.

And baby no. 2 (the adorable Kennadi) is a girl – congratulations! How was your second pregnancy? What’s the same & what’s different this time around?

Pregnancy #2: I was so excited and much more relaxed with this pregnancy. I had a lot of energy, thank goodness, since I was chasing after a toddler all of the time. I exercised and did my prenatal stretches most days of the week to prepare for the arrival of baby girl. I had a much more difficult time eating “healthy,” however; all I want to do is eat cookies and bagels with cream cheese!

My plan was to just play-it-by-ear for the first month or so when it comes to setting any fitness goals. Basic fitness goals of mine, with no set timeline as of now, would be to run a few more full marathons and maybe even my first sprint triathlon. Physically, I would love to get my body back to where it has been in the past, but I have a feeling that will take more time this round than it did when I was just a mother of one.

What’s your top tip for new moms who are looking to reclaim their fitness and achieve “homeostasis” in their life, as you call it?

My top tip is to set goals, make a schedule, have a plan and stick with it. Most importantly, remember that you are an amazing mother, but you are not only a mother; you have so many more roles in life and they should all be given special attention.

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The Baggs family: Roman, Tim, Val & Kennadi

Thanks for your time, Val — and congratulations again on your beautiful new addition!

Fit mamas, I’d love to interview you! Email me at info (at) kineticfix (dot) com for info. 

10 Fourth Trimester Life-Savers

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Back when Wyatt was just a bump in my belly, I shared a few favorite firstsecond and third trimester essentials that helped us make our way through pregnancy together.

But have you heard of the fourth trimester? It’s the concept that the first three months after birth are quite literally an extension of life in the womb for baby.

And I’m not gonna lie: At times, it can be a rocky transition for everyone involved. Not only does baby need lots of attention, but mama also deserves extra TLC during recovery and those sleepless nights and days spent getting to know the newest family member.

As always, everyone’s experience will be a bit different, but these are just a few of the things that I found helpful for easing into motherhood. And by ‘easing in’ I mean jumping with both feet into the deep end. 

1. Nursing Tanks

If you’re nursing or pumping, not only will you need quick access, but you’ll also need something pretty forgiving as you change size throughout the day. Consider the Gilligan & O’Malley Nursing Cotton Camis part of your new mom uniform; at $20 a pop, they’re as budget-friendly as they are baby-friendly.

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2. Support Tights

Another staple in your new mom wardrobe? A pair of tummy-friendly tights, which are both comfortable and versatile as your body shape-shifts in the first few months postpartum. One of my favorites were Blanqi’s Highwaist Support Leggings, which not only help provide some extra core support but also come in handy when you’re between sizes.

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3. Nipple Butter

Whether you use it for nursing or as a lube with your breast pump, Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Natural Nipple Butter is the best stuff out there — period. It’s from a local company, it’s all-natural and it works, so do yourself a favor and stockpile this stuff by the case before baby comes.

earth-mama-angel-baby-natural-nipple-butter4. Breast Pump

Speaking of your ‘ladies,’ if you’re thinking of breastfeeding and/or pumping you’ll want something to get the job done without too much…collateral damage, shall we say? After trying the Medela Freestyle, which was awesomely small and portable, I ultimately settled on the Spectra Baby S1. It came highly recommended from a girlfriend, and I found it to be just as effective, but a lot gentler.

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5. Pumping Bra

If you’re a woman, you’re no stranger to multitasking. And if you’re a breastfeeding mom, you’re no stranger to multitasking while pumping. Enter the Simple Wishes D*Lite Hands-Free Pumping Bra, which is adjustable in size to sustain a perfect fit over time as a nursing mother’s size changes. Brilliant!

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6. Nursing Pads

And while we’re on the subject of milk, when it comes in you’ll want to be prepared with some disposable nursing pads to keep from leaking through your shirts, on the sheets…you get the point. But after your supply evens out, I’ve found these washable breast pads to be more comfortable and better at wicking away moisture.

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7. Robe & Comfy PJ’s

One of the best maternity investments I made in terms of cost-per-wear was this robe and nightgown set. I can’t say enough about how handy a lightweight cotton robe with pockets can be for keeping you warm when you’re up at all hours, as well as having handy pockets to stack bottles, pacifiers, burp-cloths, etc.

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8. Amazon Prime

Another invaluable investment? An Amazon Prime subscription, which is worth it’s weight in gold. From diapers to developmental toys and everything else in between, it’s a necessity in those early days when you need something — stat! — and can’t get out to the store. Simply search, click and it’ll be on your doorstep in two days.

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9. Meals

I cooked exactly two freezer meals and one batch of lactation cookies before Wyatt came, thinking that’d tide us over until I get back on my feet and had time to get in the kitchen again. HA! Little did I know we’d come to rely heavily on frozen foods, take-out, meal delivery services and the kindness of friends and family in those first few months. Have a friend with a new baby and want to know how you can help? Bring over a warm meal, and they’ll be forever indebted to you.

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10. Thank You Cards

I’m old-school and believe that any gift you receive deserves a nice handwritten thank-you. Save time — and your sanity — by stamping and putting your return address on a bunch of cards before baby arrives. That way you can write them as you go, ensuring you’ll get ’em out the door in a timely manner and also remember who sent what when the time comes.

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*Bonus: Netflix Subscription

Finally, no list of postpartum must-haves would be complete without the mother of all necessities during those first few months: a Netflix subscription. When you’re up at all hours night after night, it’s either stare at the ceiling while feeding or immerse yourself in a season — or three — of your favorite show (my choice was Orange is the New Black). So sink into the couch together and enjoy some quality cuddle time!

Mamas, what were your fourth trimester must-haves? 

May Goal Check-In

 

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You know how when you start running, it can be pretty uncomfortable, discouraging and fill you with self-doubt? Well, that’s also how the initial few months with your first baby can feel.

Am I doing this correctly? I have no clue. Is this normal? Who knows. Is he happy? I sure hope so. 

But then you push through, eventually hit your stride, and that’s when things finally start to click. That’s exactly how this past month felt.

Not that we’ve got everything figured out — far from it! But we’ve started to get into a good rhythm as a family and find some semblance of a life outside of diapers, naps, bottles and mountains of laundry.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

After last month’s initial excitement of being cleared to work out again, my goal for May was to address any weaknesses from the last year of bodily changes, as well as help protect myself against future issues — i.e. “mommy slump” from feedings or back pain from picking up a rapidly-growing kiddo.

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Enter the wonderful Angi McClure, who runs a program here in Portland call Body401k. She’s not about quick fixes; her work focuses on in vesting in body longevity because, let’s face it, we’re in ’em for the long haul, so the least we can do is take good care of ’em.

I worked out with Angi while I was pregnant, and I know a lot of the work we did helped me stay strong while carrying Wyatt and recover quickly after. So now that I’m getting back into my fitness routine, I’ve resumed sessions because it’s one thing to be cleared to work out and it’s quite another to proceed properly while learning how to navigate the ‘new normal’ of your body.

Another awesome component of postnatal fitness? Stroller Strides.

If all goes to hell, at least I can count on this workout each week. Not only do I get to bring Wyatt along to a butt-kicker of a workout, but it’s also a fantastic way to commiserate connect with other moms in the area.

2. Training

My first official post-baby race (Wanderlust 108‘s 5k) is under my belt, and what can I say? It was rainy, it was cold, the course was hilly and I was huffing and puffing the whole time.

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But thanks to the encouragement of several of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates, I got it done. No PR’s, no course records — just the satisfaction of knowing I finished, I have a baseline from which to work, and things can only get better from here.

That said, my grand plans to start building mileage this month in an effort to work into training for this fall’s Portland Marathon was an epic fail. I did manage to get a few miles in each week, but I’m currently thinking I’ll have to re-set expectations when it comes to that race.

3. Community

We had a busy but successful month with Team LUNA Chix Portland Run, thanks to our inaugural “Community Week” in which we teamed up with other local businesses and groups to highlight all the great things going on here in PDX.

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We ran, we yoga’d, we bootcamped, we shopped and we volunteered, all in the name of helping to get the word out about what we do, as well as show some love for a few of the great stores, studios and charities in the area.

Up next? In addition to our weekly workouts (Mondays, 6:30 pm at Duniway track), we’re working on organizing a scavenger hunt, as well as more events with our favorite people and places in the fitness community.

Check out our Facebook page for details, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates on what we’ve got going on each week.

4. Career

As I mentioned last month, I ended up extending my maternity leave from my company, Pulse Creative, through May. Mama intuition told me that Wyatt needed a full three months of being my sole focus, and I’m fortunate enough to have clients who are very understanding when it comes to balancing family with work.

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Having my Wanderlust gig, however, did allow me to ease back into things by leading the warm-up at the event’s 5K. And I even squeezed in a few client calls and informal proposals to get a few things in the queue for when I start to ramp back up in June.

5. Life

I’m pretty sure having a child is going to teach me many life lessons, the first of which are:

  1. You cannot control everything.
  2. You cannot do it all.

The way in which Wyatt was born did a pretty good job teaching me no. 1, and life with a baby is schooling me no. 2…every. single. day.

I’ve learned that there are two keys to surviving the first few months with an infant: delegation and outsourcing. Family and friends have been literal lifesavers for me and Ben, whether they’ve dropped off food, stopped by for a visit, shared war stories, helped with a feeding or stayed up practically all night to help us get a few hours of sleep (thanks, MOP!).

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But it’s other little luxuries like having someone come in to tidy up your looks-like-a-bomb-went-off apartment every few weeks or a few precious hours here and there with an extra pair of hands, thanks to this awesome flexible childcare service, that help make a job that’s 24/7 — with no breaks, sick days or vacation — a little more sustainable.

Which leads me to the third, and perhaps the most important, life lesson I’ve learned so far from Wyatt’s past few months on this planet:

Happy moms make happy babies. 

My pediatrician told me this early on, but it wasn’t until recently that I fully understood what he meant — i.e. it’s important to be able to take a step back once in a while and make a little time for myself to regroup.

Not only does this give me better perspective as a mom, but also does wonders for me as a person when I have those oh-my-God-what-did-I-get-myself-into moments where I feel totally overwhelmed and impossibly unprepared.

Because, as I’m learning from my more seasoned parent friends, that feeling never quite goes away!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

Wyatt’s Birth Story

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On Wednesday, March 2, at 1:26 p.m., we welcomed little Wyatt into our world. It’s taken me a while to get around to writing about the story of his birth…but after four or five (or more) tries, here it is!

I have to preface this by saying I was not looking forward to having a c-section. And that’s putting it mildly. In fact, after learning mid-way through my pregnancy that the baby was breech, I tried everything in my power to get “it” (at that point, we didn’t know what the sex was) to flip naturally – from swimming and inversions to acupuncture and moxibustion.

After all, my original hope was to try for a natural birth. But after an unsuccessful version there was simply no other option because our hospital won’t deliver breech babies vaginally.

It wasn’t so much the surgery aspect that freaked me out, though; it was the fact that I’d be awake for all of it…and that I’d be confined to an operating table, unable to move, while everything was happening around me.

Plus, I had concerns about it not feeling like an actual “birth” without the labor aspect. Would I still be able to create that bond with the baby that happens when you get to enjoy those first few moments of skin-to-skin contact?

I do believe everything happens for a reason, however, and it turned out to be a pretty positive — I’d even go so far as to say fantastic — experience. So future c-section mamas, take heart!

At 39 weeks and two days, we were scheduled for surgery at 12:30 p.m., so we needed to show up at the hospital to check in at 10 a.m. I was a bundle of nerves that morning, so Ben suggested we hit the gym early to work off some of my nervous energy. There’s nothing like 30 minutes on the elliptical to get your mind right.

After a quick shower — no breakfast because you can’t eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery — it was already time to head over to the hospital. Time was passing too quickly, and walking into the labor and delivery ward was absolutely surreal knowing, “Well, we’re going to have a baby in about 2-3 hours.”

After we got settled into a spacious room with a nice view of Northwest Portland, the nurses quickly went to work prepping me for surgery. There was a lot of activity, but the three things I remember most were getting my IV, meeting with the anesthesiologist to go over what would be happening and being put in a paper suit hooked up to what sounded like a blow dryer to warm me up before surgery.

I closed my eyes and tried to enjoy the warmth, but it wasn’t too long before it was time to get down to business. I remember thinking that I should be walking as they were wheeling me in my hospital bed down the hall toward the operating room.

As we went past the waiting room, I got to say hello to Ben’s folks and pause for a quick photo op. It was a relief to see family and get a final few words of encouragement, plus it was a nice distraction!

Despite doing everything I could to mentally prepare myself beforehand, I was dreading the next 10-15 minutes. There’s a great explanation of it here, but basically Ben wouldn’t be allowed in the OR while they got everything set up and started.

Meanwhile, they rolled my hospital bed into the OR, and I fought the overwhelming urge to RUN. Instead, as instructed, I climbed out of bed and up onto the operating table, which was (again) surreal. Those tables are surprisingly tiny!

My doctor was amazing, though — she held my hand and talked to me as I hunched over a pillow and got my spinal. I had been worried about how I’d react to it because I’d never had one before and heard some horror stories, but everything went very smoothly. First came an injection to numb the area (they said it’d feel like a bee sting, but it wasn’t that bad) and then an injection into my spine to numb me from the chest down (I didn’t feel anything).

As the spinal kicked in, however, it did feel a lot like that pins and needles sensation when your legs fall asleep. And as it took full effect, I could still feel pressure and movement (again, surreal!) but absolutely no pain.

From there, things continued to, again, move swiftly. In order to create a pleasant atmosphere and try to add some warmth to what can feel like a very sterile situation, my OB told me in advance that I could make a playlist for surgery prep. So I chose some Motown music to play in the background as the doctors and nurses chatted and got to work.

They draped me with a surgical screen, which was a little claustrophobic because it hangs so close to your face. But there’s a small window in front of your face — yes, really — that you can open to see what’s going on.

The cover to mine kept flopping open, and even though my bump was in the way, seeing anything specific was not in my revised birth plan. So, fortunately, a nurse kindly taped it shut until the big reveal. I was really glad we’d waited to find out the sex because the anticipation and excitement outweighed my nerves at this point.

By the time Ben walked in, he said that surgery was already underway. I’m not sure if it was the medications or the adrenaline, but either way it seemed like only a minute later that they were tugging around a lot (a really weird feeling, but totally tolerable) and then announced that we were about to have a baby!

Again, surreal. 

There were another few tugs, which were forcible enough to rock my whole body back and forth, along with one strong push on my abdomen. I heard a nurse say to Ben, “Alright, are you ready, dad?”

“I’m ready.” he said, as the doctor had her assisting doctor give one final tug to pull the baby out of me.

“We have a baby!” Ben exclaimed, and as the doctor flipped Wyatt over he said, “It’s a little boy!” The doctors joked around about the grumpy face he was making after leaving his cozy confines from the past nine months and held him in front of the screen so I could see.

From there, they cleaned him up and took a few initial vitals before bringing him over to me so I could check him out and sneak a quick snuggle. He was so tiny and soft…all six pounds, nine ounces and 20.5 inches of him.

After that, things were pretty blurry as the pain meds kicked in. This is both good and bad – good because I felt no pain from the surgery, but bad because I would have liked to have been more coherent in the first few hours (and days!) after our son was born.

Ben said I was completely lucid with everyone, and I remember bits and pieces of conversations and moments…but didn’t retain information or have much of a short-term memory. Like when I asked the next day if we’d had the baby yet. Oops…oxycodone is no joke.

I do remember initially hanging out in the recovery room getting to do some skin-to-skin to bond with Wyatt, but the following days of recovery were fuzzy between the drugs, the sleep deprivation and the sheer excitement over growing our family by one tiny human.

Ben pitched in like a champ and was not only on diaper duty but also brought Wyatt to me for feedings because I wasn’t mobile right away. They did get me up and out of bed the day after surgery for a shower, and the pain at my incision was present but not overwhelming.

The worst part of the next few days was probably the frequent fundal massages! If you’re not familiar with ‘em, Google the term. Every nurse was apologetic and as gentle as possible, but my whole abdomen was super tender.

Aside from that, the hospital stay was really enjoyable. The staff was kind and helpful, the food was great, our room was comfortable and, as a friend told us beforehand, the best part was that time simply does not exist in there; you just get to enjoy your new addition and forget about the outside world for a few days.

All good things must come to an end, though, and by Saturday morning we were packing up and watching the mandatory newborn care videos. A lot of good those did, though, as we ended up taking out first ER trip a week later when I was worried Wyatt had caught my flu bug!

He shot us more than a few suspicious looks (his go-to face, as we’ve now learned) as we dressed him in his first outfit – a newborn one, which he was swimming in at a mere six pounds at that point (babies lose up to 10 percent of their body weight before they leave the hospital). We secured him in his car seat, loaded him up in the car and were off as a family of three…

Despite the fact that we are his parents, I couldn’t help but feel that we weren’t qualified to be taking this little man home with us. Sure, we did fine in the hospital under the guidance of the doctors and nurses, but being the sole people that he’d now be relying felt like an enormous responsibility (and, quite frankly, still does).

But babies are born each day, and people figure it out. And we’ll likely make a lot of mistakes along the way, but we’re excited to see where this ride called parenthood takes us.

So far? It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. We’ve had highs and lows when it comes to deciphering his cues, getting the hang of breastfeeding (still a work-in-progress), troubleshooting gas and reflux issues and navigating life on very little sleep and even less free time.

Foolishly, I thought that perhaps my endurance background would prepare me for the marathon that is the first few months with a newborn, but I learned a valuable lesson: There is no training plan when it comes to an infant.

Not only are they their own individual little people with distinct personalities, but just as pregnancy and delivery can be a total crap-shoot, it’s the luck of the draw when it comes to what kind of baby you’ll get, too.

Fortunately, though, even in their toughest moments they’re still lovable (and adorable). Although I may be eating those words when it comes to the toddler or teenage years!

Interested in learning more about my journey back from baby? Read about a few of my favorite tips here.

 

Body After Baby: 10 Tips for Easing Back into a Fitness Routine

PostpartumFitness

A fellow active mama and I were chatting over coffee after our Stroller Striders class the other morning. While reminiscing about our racing days and talking about training plans that have since been derailed, we came to the consensus that the whole”bouncing back” after pregnancy concept is a load of crap.

Sure, recovery is one thing. I credit an active pregnancy with being able to get back on my feet fairly quickly after my c-section.

But fitness and performance? That’s another thing entirely.

So in an attempt to set the record straight on the “body after baby” business, I figured I’d share a few of my real-life tips on upping your activity ante post-baby:

1. Go on the offense. I learned firsthand that it’s not so much pregnancy that will sideline you; it’s the fact that you’ll be sitting around for six weeks afterwards recovering, nursing, not sleeping, etc. So start early and often — bank whatever training you can muster while pregnant to keep from going into too much of a deficit after baby’s debut.

2. Wait for the all-clear. As eager as you may be and as great as you may feel, do not disregard your doctor’s orders. Wait until bleeding stops, incisions are healed and you’re given the go ahead from your doctor to resume regular activity. I’ve heard way too many stories of mamas pushing it prematurely only to end up with injuries and other setbacks.

3. Start slooowly. Don’t expect to come out of the gate right where you left off! This was a tough pill for me to swallow, but I made the decision to relish walking and enjoy not working out for six weeks. Think of it as an extended rest and recovery from training — and use the time to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and fight off cabin fever.

4. Take the pyramid approach. When you’re training for a race, you taper down so you peak on the day of the event, right? Well, labor and delivery is the same concept, except in inverse — you slowly decrease intensity and modify exercise as you get more pregnant and then build back up afterwards.

5. Enlist help from a pro. Sometimes it takes an outside voice of reason to make you take it easy, build a solid foundation and help keep things in perspective. And take it from me, it’s well worth the investment to rebuild that core because you’ll need it as baby grows in fits and spurts!

6. Embrace the suck. Know going in that it’s not going to feel great. And expect to end up in a frustrated funk when you realize just how off-balance and generally unfit you feel after having a baby. So set your expectations accordingly, and you’ll have more patience for chipping away slowly at that #mombod.

7. Tag team your little one. A fit mama friend revealed this brilliant approach toward weekend workouts. If you and your hubby are both trying to squeeze in some major training, one person gets priority on Saturday morning while the other person gets dibs on prime workout time on Sunday.

8. Enlist your new workout partner. This took me a while to feel comfortable with, but around two months in, I joined said Stroller Striders class with Wyatt. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…er, if you can’t leave ’em at home, bring ’em along to your workout!

9. Set a major goal with mini milestones. Time flies when you’re tending to a little human, so set some dates on the calendar to get yourself back in the game. For example, my first post-baby race was the recent Wanderlust 5k, which helped get me fired up for Portland Marathon training.

10. Be kind to yourself. Finally, if you do nothing else and take no other advice from me, give yourself a break. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a new mom is that we’re all just trying our best to get by, so a little kindness with the self-talk goes a long way. After all, life has changed dramatically and your priorities have shifted, so your best bet is to take the new twists and turns in your fitness journey in stride!

What are your favorite tips for getting back on the fitness bandwagon post-baby?

Recipe: Best-Ever Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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If you’re looking for one of the most delicious, nutrient-dense treats out there, this recipe just may be the Holy Grail of chocolate chip cookies.

Full disclosure, though: They’re actually “lactation cookies” meant for increasing a nursing mom’s milk supply. But dads and everyone else, don’t worry — they will not spontaneously produce lactation!

Even if you’re not breastfeeding, these cookies deliver important nutrients that all of us need, such as zinc, fiber, good fats, iron, protein, B vitamins, chromium, selenium and various other trace minerals.

Not to mention, they’re absolutely delicious…

Best-Ever Chocolate Chunk Cookies

(adapted from HowSweetItIs.com)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup unbleached organic all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cut whole-wheat flour
  • 5 tablespoons brewers yeast
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon wheat germ
  • 1/2 ounce unsweetened coconut chips/flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons unrefined organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1 1/4 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips/chunks (I chopped up a few king size Hershey’s bars we had lying around, just to use them up)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven the 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together both kinds of oats, flours, yeast, flaxseed, wheat germ, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and coconut oil on medium speed until creamy. Add in the sugar and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in the egg and egg yolk, beating until combined. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined again. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
  4. Form the dough into 1-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden. Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.
If you have a great lactation recipe, please feel free to share below!