My 5 Goals for 2016

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‘Tis the season to look back at 2015’s learnings so we can get another batch of goals going for 2016!

But first things first: It’s been really tough to get as specific and measurable as I’d like when I know things will be up in the air with the arrival of Baby H in March. Since I’m not sure exactly what my own labor, delivery, recovery and life with a baby will entail, I’ve decided to take a more “agile” (read: iterative) approach and make educated guesses at goals, which I’ll revise quarterly throughout the year.

And in case you’re wondering — yes, I’m still working toward my long-term goals of going further (another 50k and possibly an eventual 50-miler) and faster (sub-4 marathon), but I’m realistic enough to know that this may not won’t be the year for all of that. So my plan is to continue to lay the foundation to be able to focus on some stretch goals down the road.

As you’ll see, not all my goals are fitness-oriented this year because there are some other areas in which I’d like to focus good chunks of time. But in the meantime, here’s what I’ll be working on for the next 12 months (well, aside from that whole ‘having a baby and keeping it alive’ thing):

1. Health & Fitness: Until Baby H arrives, my goal is to continue regular workouts with a mix of cardio, strength and flexiblity work 5-6 days per week. I’m hoping that my continued prenatal movement classes and other prep will allow me to avoid a c-section, but you never know…so depending on how delivery/recovery goes, I’m expecting anywhere from 6-12 weeks of easing back in with long walks and gentle cross-training. From there, my next step is to get back into ZOOM+Performance around April or May to get baseline measurements done so I can set more specific goals and a timeline for getting safely into a training cycle.

2. Training: There’s no better way to get motivated to get back in shape than with a race, so I’m already signed up for the Portland Marathon next October. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can start training for it in June, but my plan for the race (to simply complete it or run for a time) is TBD until after Baby H arrives. In terms of other events, they’re also pending recovery, but I’m eyeing my first duathlon, as well as some other shorter events (5ks, trail races, etc.) in between, so I can proudly represent as part of the Coeur Sports 2016 team!

3. Community: We’re baaaaack! Team LUNA Chix Portland Run is gearing up for its second season, and we’re in the process of going through applications for new team members. I’ll announce our new team in mid-January, and in February we’ll have a local retreat before the season officially kicks off in April. We’ve got some ambitious goals in terms of growing the team and raising awareness, as well as fundraising $1500+ for our charity partner, the Breast Cancer Fund — but we couldn’t be more excited to ring in a new year together!

4. Career: While this blog is what I call my “passion project,” I’ve actually got a day job in marketing and PR. In fact, as some of you may know, I launched Pulse Creative (my consulting business!) in 2015 after years of agency life and working in-house. It’s been growing steadily in the sixth months since its inception, and I’ve been very fortunate that most of my work has been referral-based, but my goal is to double revenue for 2016. So, shameless plug: If you know of anyone in need of marketing, PR or copywriting services, please let me know; I always appreciate referrals 🙂

5. Life: Finally, after hearing rave reviews from friends about Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” I’ve been inspired to de-clutter our apartment. Whether it’s nesting instinct kicking in, or just the fact that I’m tired of keeping half my clothing in our storage unit, it’s high time to shed all of those unused goods and make space for more streamlined living. My goal now is to finish the book by mid-month, and then I’ll put it in action in January and February. I’m nervous because it’s tough getting rid of “stuff” you think you need — but I’m excited to bring Baby H home to a place that feels lighter and brighter as a result!

What’s on your to-do list for 2016? 
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Happy New Year from KineticFix!

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“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” — Oprah Winfrey

Happy 2016! Guess what? It happens to be a leap year, so we’ve got almost a whole extra day on our hands to turn resolutions into reality.

Therefore, I’m posing a challenge to all of us today: Let’s set the tone for the 365 days to follow and take one small step towards our goals.

Because doing something significant over the next 12 months doesn’t necessarily require massive action. Incremental investments, over time, can lead to big payoffs.

So what small step can you take today to bring you closer to those 2016 goals?

December Goal Check-In

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It’s almost time to say “sayonara” to 2015! But before we go, I’ve got one final monthly check-in for this calendar year.

I’ll be doing a more thorough review of the year’s goals in an upcoming post. In the meantime, however, this one’s more about progress made during this last 31-day push.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest:

1. Seeking Balance

After November’s turkey trot, the racing bug bit me hard (if you can call it that…because I’m not able to actually ‘race’). I wanted nothing more than to get a holiday run on the calendar, but cooler heads prevailed in the end when I realized that we had too much going on with baby stuff, holiday prep and travel.

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Instead, Ben and I opted to keep December low-key when it came to pre-planned fitness events. We had enough to keep us busy between work, doctor’s appointments and parties, so workouts ended up becoming more social as a result.

Here’s a tip: If you’re feeling over-scheduled, kill two birds with one stone and make a fitness date with friends. Not only will you get to re-connect, but you’ll also work off some of those extra cocktails or cookies in the process!

2. Training Smarter

Dear Running,

As much as it pains me to say this, we’re going to have to take some time apart. It’s not you — it’s me — and I hate to do this to you because you’ve always been there, but I hope we can try again when the time is right.

Love, Me

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After a decent five-miler earlier this month, I had a no good, horrible, very bad treadmill run mid-month that made me 99.9% sure running is off the table for the foreseeable future. Despite my best efforts — support belt, cushy shoes, hydration, slower pace, etc. — it was uncomfortable bordering on painful, so I cut my planned four-miler in half and ended up making up the difference with walking.

I’m thankful to have made it this far with intermittent jogs, and I’ve been keeping consistent over the holidays with lots of walking and at-home body weight workouts, all of which were much easier when on the road without regular access to a gym. It was all about being flexible, cross-training and modifying when needed!

3. Facing Fears

Aside from this week, I’m giving myself a pat on the back for continuing to make it to the pool regularly. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s quickly becoming a favorite activity because it feels so lovely to give my joints a break from all the extra weight.

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The toughest part remains just getting there, but once I hit the water it’s all good. And I’m pretty sure Baby H is happy, too, because is feels like s/he just chills out once I find my zone while bobbing back and forth down the lane.

And, yes, believe it or not — I’m looking forward to continuing this little tradition into the New Year, too.

4. Pushing Myself

It took a combination of objective and subjective feedback this month to realize that as I enter the 3rd trimester, “pushing” is a relative term — as in, balls-to-the-wall workouts are now a no-no, if not an impossibility. Rather, it’s all about consistency and keeping myself in check…which sometimes proves to be a challenge in and of itself.

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Thankfully, though, I’ve been utilizing a great book from one of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates and fellow preggo, Sharlene Murphy: The Pregnant Athlete. It debunks the myth that you can’t have a safe, healthy pregnancy and maintain a high level of fitness — and it’s been a great source of motivation and inspiration when I catch myself occasionally getting bummed out about what I can’t do right now.

Another tip: Focus on the positive. Just as every pregnancy is different, so is everyone’s range of activity while pregnant; even if you can’t push like you’re used to in one area, there’s a good chance you can still make progress in another.

5. Giving Back

Our lovely LUNA crew was out representing in full force despite of less-than-desirable weather for this year’s Holiday Half on December 13. Of note was the aforementioned Sharlene, who completed the 5k at nearly 39 weeks pregnant, and Katie Wilkes for successfully running her first half marathon. Way to go, ladies!

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And in other news, we’re hard at work assembling our 2016 team. As of December 15, we officially closed applications, so we’re now in the process of reviewing all of them and making some tough decisions (we got so many great applicants; thanks to everyone for your interest and enthusiasm!) before notifying our new team leaders.

We’ll be making the official announcement in January, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, please give us a follow via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts so you can stay in the loop during our upcoming season.

How’d you do with your 2015 goals? 

‘Boning Up’ on the Bone Broth Trend (+ DIY Recipe)

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“We are indeed much more than we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.” – Adele Davis

If you’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about bone broth recently, you’re not alone. But what exactly is the difference between stock, broth, consomme, and bouillon? And why are people raving over bone broth, in particular, for its healing and nourishing benefits?

With those questions in mind, I popped into the ZOOM+Performance lab last week to learn more from the first of their lunchtime classes. Local expert Tressa Yellig from Salt, Fire & Time was on hand to educate us about this savory elixir and how she believes it’s one of the simplest and most powerful food remedies you can have at your disposal.

According to Yellig, bone broth stands head and shoulders above other stock-type liquids because it’s cooked for a long time (up to three days) over a low heat (roughly 180 degrees) in order to extract all the good stuff — gelatin, nutrients and minerals — from bones.

So what else makes bone broth so special? Well,  for starters it’s rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, silicon, phosphorous, sulphur and other trace minerals, meaning it’s nutrient-dense. Plus, it contains a host of other unique and powerful substances, including marrow, cartilage, glycine, proline, collagen and gelatin, which are thought to help support the immune system, reduce inflammation and promote healing.

What I found most interesting, however, is when Yellig talked about bone broth also being a “protein sparer,” which means that it helps create adequate nutrition in the short-term absence of protein (read: when you’re sick and the last thing you feel like eating is a hunk of meat). Not to mention it hits the spot on these cold and dreary Portland winter days…

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Bone broth can be enjoyed as it is (with a little salt to enhance the flavor). Yellig also suggested experimenting with it as a base for soups, stews, sauces, gravy, cooking grains, vegetables, savory baked goods or with beans.

It’s pretty simple to make, so if you’ve got the time or inclination she shared this recipe to help you get your bone broth on at home:

Basic Bone Broth

(courtesy of Salt, Fire & Time)

Ingredients: 

  • About 1 pound of mixed bones per quart of purified water
  • Splash of vinegar (cider, red or white wine, rice or lemon juice)
  • Vegetables and herbs for flavor (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Place bones in a medium to large stock pot and add water to cover.
  2. Mix in the splash of vinegar and allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour. Note: If there’s a lot of meat on the bones, roast them first for flavor. 
  3. Bring the pot up to a gentle simmer (about 180 degrees) and allow to continue for 8-72 hours
  4. Add the vegetables and herbs in the middle of your cooking time.
  5. Strain out he bones, vegetables and herbs, and allow to cool.
  6. Package in glass containers for refrigerator storage (2 weeks) or plastic freezer bags or ice trays for freezer storage (3 months).

Or if the prospect of babysitting a simmering pot on the stove for a few days is too daunting, you can always swing by Yellig’s Broth Bar here in Portland. She offers a bunch of condiments, stir-ins and add-ons to customize each steaming cup to your liking.

Not local? You’re in luck. Salt, Fire & Time also has an online shop that ships all kinds of delicious goodies ’round the country.

Are you on the bone broth bandwagon? Why or why not?

Baby H: 28-Week Update

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The third trimester has arrived, and it’s sure making its presence known. I’m starting to slow down a bit as I enter the seventh month with Baby H, but we’re still hanging in there…and both growing by the day! Here’s our 28-week “bumpdate”…

Month Seven: Weighing in at a whopping 2.5 pounds and almost 16 inches long from end to end, Baby H is (hopefully) getting ready to settle into the proper position for birth (head down) soon before s/he starts running out of room. Fingers crossed. Until then, it’s a dance party in my belly — both day and night — while new skills are being added to the repertoire of movements, including blinking, coughing, sucking, hiccuping and taking practice breaths.

Weight Gained: Right around 20 pounds (!), which is starting to feel a little cumbersome because bending over is no longer an option. I’m not so much concerned about the number as I am keeping my daily eating habits consistent — or, rather, trying to keep them reasonable during the holidays. This is NOT the time for dieting or being super strict; believe me — I’m definitely having fun. But if I hear one more time the, “But, you’re eating for TWO!” excuse, I may start carrying a sign that says, “Just because my belly is starting to rival that of the jolly man in the red suit doesn’t mean I need that fourth helping of cookies.”

Workouts: The type fluctuates depending on my mood…but the frequency is consistent! I’ve even managed to do a few short jogs here and there — which is much needed both mentally and for fresh air when we get a break in the rain. Some things (cycling, yoga, anything where I’ve got to bend over or twist) are starting to feel more uncomfortable since Baby H is riding low, but others feel great (Pilates, swimming, elliptical, bootcamp, barre), so I’m doing what I can while I still can because I know this will likely be a moving target. Also, per my ZOOM+Performance recommendations, I’ve been experimenting with Gyrotonic, which is great for posture, alignment, flexibility, breath/body awareness and more.

Symptoms: Ugh. As someone who can usually eat whatever she wants, I’m no longer taking an efficient digestive system for granted. Everything’s fine while I’m eating, but a full meal now hits me HARD 15-20 minutes later and then takes what feels like hours to process through my stomach. And it usually leaves a lovely parting gift of heartburn and acid reflux. I’m learning to eat smaller portions more frequently, though, which helps.

The belly is now front and center, too, which requires more thought when maneuvering around. It feels so odd to have to think about my approach to simple tasks like putting on underwear, shoes, socks, etc. (basically anything requiring bending over) rather than just acting out of habit. Basically, there’s a lot contorting and heaving myself around once I’m in a good position so I can give gravity some of the workload…and I still end up completely out of breath in the process.

Food Aversions: Nada. But God help you if you get near me with a lit cigarette. Every time I walk through a cloud of irresponsibly-exhaled smoke (PSA: If you insist on slowly killing yourself, that’s your choice. But please blow those toxic fumes upward or downwind so it doesn’t boomerang back and hit other people in the face!), I have to hold my breath and am starting to dole out the dirty looks pretty liberally.

Food Cravings: Does ‘nesting’ count when it happens in the kitchen? I’ve been having fun experimenting with new recipes, and I’m trying to make sure they’re a good balance of nutrient-dense and delicious. Other than that, I’ve been putting my egg scramble in heavy rotation for extra protein, and I can’t pass up dairy. I also can’t seem to say no to the leftover holiday treats that Ben’s bringing home from the office…but I’m trying to limit myself to a sensible serving or two instead of a whole box or bag.

Sleep: What is that, and where do I get some? Between regular bathroom trips, worrying about work details slipping through the cracks (I don’t care what people say — ‘baby brain’ is a real thing!) and prepping for the impending arrival of our little one, sometimes it’s tough to get back to sleep when I wake up in the middle of the night. And other times I just wake up HUNGRY, so I choose to believe that s/he must also be going through a growth spurt (versus the alternative, which is that my rear just going through a growth spurt, LOL).

Looking Forward To: Setting up a dedicated space for Baby H, washing tiny clothes (i.e. smelling that delicious newborn detergent) and putting together all the related gear. Since I work on my computer for a large part of the day, it’s probably part nesting and part me craving some non-screen time. I’m also anxiously awaiting our next ultrasound, which I’m not sure when will happen — but the curiosity of what this kid looks like now (versus our last one, which I think was around 19 weeks) and what the heck s/he is doing in there when I’m feeling certain movements is killing me!

Boy/Girl Suspicions: I don’t have a clue one way or another, but if I were to hazard a guess right now, I think I’d be more surprised if it’s a boy. It’s fun to have other people guess, though; everyone who looks at my belly seems to have a strong opinion one way or another — although the responses for Team Pink and Team Blue have been split pretty evenly!

Any Fun Stories? Ben and I recently attended our first official baby class: an all-day seminar on Newborn Care & Breastfeeding. It was informative, worthwhile…and eye-opening! Although I have some experience from helping with my nephew a few years back, it was good to have a refresher. Ben especially liked the swaddling competition. And, if you follow me on Instagram, perhaps you’ve seen that he’s been practicing his technique? I’d say he nailed it.

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

Taking ZOOM+Performance for a Test Drive

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Most of us think about going to the doctor when we’re sick in order to get better. But what about checking in with your doctor when you’re well in order to enhance your health and actively try to prevent some of those acute illness or chronic injury visits in the future?

That’s exactly the concept behind ZOOM+Performance, one of three primary care platforms offered by ZOOM+Performance Health Insurance, a company right here in Portland, Ore., that’s committed to revolutionizing the American healthcare system. What started in 2006 (under the name ZoomCare) as state-of-the-art neighborhood urgent care clinics in Oregon, Washington and Idaho is now called ZOOM+ (as of 2015) and has transformed into a complete healthcare system with health insurance built in.

What’s brilliant, though, is that it goes beyond what is traditionally offered in healthcare delivery systems to play a critical role in preventing chronic illnesses that require costly interventions down the road. ZOOM+Performance, in particular, caught my eye because it’s geared toward people who want to optimize their human performance using food, movement and relationship as medicine.

ZOOM+’s mantra is “Twice the health at half the cost and 10 times the delight.” So when they invited me in last week for one of their signature wellness assessments, I decided to put that mission to the test.

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After checking in and filling out a few forms, Dr. Natasha Kassam whisked me off to a private room to get my vitals and take my health history. She white-boarded my information as we walked through current conditions, concerns and goals together (i.e. have a healthy baby and resume my normal level of activity when it’s safe!).

She explained that ZOOM+Performance’s assessment is aimed at helping people improve athletic performance, mental-focus and creative energy. After doing some deep brain, cell and body tests, including VO2 Max, Neuroagility and Body Comp (typically there are some labs, as well, but not for the purposes of this visit), we’d regroup and she would prescribe food and movement to help me achieve my potential.

Brain & Nervous System Function

First up was Heart Rate Variability testing, which measures the balance and function of the two branches of the autonomic nervous system. A balanced system, meaning both the “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” sides are responding equally well, supports optimal cognitive and physical function.

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I sat down in a big, comfy chair while Dr. Kassam hooked me up with a monitor that attached painlessly to my ear lobe. Math problems and puzzled flashed on the screen for a few seconds each, followed by a breathing exercise which helped set a baseline for measuring the ebb and flow of my two branches.

Body Composition

From there, we moved to another room with an alien-looking egg-shaped vessel in it called the BodPod. The BodPod is considered the Gold Standard in body comp tests because it delivers a highly-accurate measurement of body fat percentage using air displacement and body density as markers.

British Olympic diver and television personality Tom Daley testing his body composition (courtesy of BodPod)

British Olympic diver and television personality Tom Daley testing his body composition (courtesy of BodPod)

Although we knew my results would be skewed, it’s completely safe — even for preggos — so I decided to give it a shot to get a feel for the experience. After stripping down to my skivvies and donning a swim cap, Dr. Kassam locked me in (don’t worry; there’s an emergency release in case you get claustrophobic) for two rounds of measurements.

It was quick and painless, although I will admit it takes some getting used to! Expect to hear a rush of air and some thumping, plus you’ll feel a bit of pressure in your ears; but just sit still, stay calm and relax — it’s over before you know it.

Neuroagility

Next up was my favorite part of the session: Neuroagility. Thanks to infrared sensors, you get to interact with the neuroagility wall, which is an experimental assessment of neuromuscular coordination and gross-motor ability.

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Step one is to stand in front of the wall to get everything calibrated. Step two is a short practice run; it takes a moment or two to get a feel for how the system responds to your movements. And step three is the actual test where you’ll have a few seconds to “touch” orbs that appear in different positions on the wall.

You feel like you’re in a video game, and as the orbs appear and disappear more rapidly toward the end, you’ll be running back and forth like a crazy cat trying to follow a pointer on the wall. Now try doing this while pregnant — i.e. carrying extra weight, off balance and out of breath — and, well, you get the picture.

VO2 Max

For the final test, we went over to a bike that was wired up to a machine for the VO2 Max assessment. ZOOM+’s cycle test is a quick way for them to get the calculation, which is an indicator of aerobic efficiency and endurance.

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Dr. Kassam instructed me to pedal slowly and steadily on the bike while keeping an eye on one of the metrics (I forget which one it was — most likely cadence — but my instructions were to keep it around 60 despite changes in resistance). Meanwhile, they’d be tracking my heart rate and other stats to come up with a final score.

My Results & Recommendations

Brain & Nervous System Function: Although I was able to bring my system into equilibrium during the breathing exercise, the “stress” of the first part of the test threw me more into the “fight of flight” mode, so Dr. Kassam recommended daily meditation or mindful breathing to bring more awareness to my breath.

She recommended some useful apps and exercises, in addition to trying out rhythmic breathing while walking, running and biking in order to raise my performance threshold when under stress. As far as I’m concerned, she nailed this right on the head because it’s something that I currently neglect as part of my training regimen, but could help me perform better going forward.

Body Composition: Dr. Kassam warned me that this measurement wouldn’t be valid due to me being pregnant, and it was. I guess the machine doesn’t account for all things baby because I fell into the “Excess Fat” category, whoops!

But even though these results were skewed, it was well worth the experience so I know what it’ll be like next time around. I’m planning on going back post-baby to check in again so I can get some baseline metrics and make a game plan for getting back in shape.

Neuroagility: Oddly enough, despite having to lug around 15-20 extra pounds which left me feeling less than agile, I was able to score in the “Good” range here. I’ll be interested to see, though, if I can make it into the “Excellent” category post-baby when I feel a little less inhibited with my movement.

VO2 Max: Yes, I know I’m pregnant. And, yes, I know my heart rate is elevated, my lung capacity feels like it’s decreased and my endurance is lower due to these factors, as well as not being able to work out as hard or as long as I’m used to.

But I’ve got to admit that the “Average” rating here was, personally, a bit of a bummer. Of all the metrics, I figured it wouldn’t be too far of from my normal range…but I keep reminding myself that it’s all about the big picture right now.

And it just goes to show you how much of an impact pregnancy has on all of your systems. Don’t get me wrong; I’m more than happy to be able to divert any extra oomph toward Baby H, although I’ve got to admit that I’m excited to get back to work on this when I’m able to safely start training again!

The Verdict

After my tests were completed, Dr. Kassam and I met back up in the first room to discuss results, as well as her recommendations for moving forward. Of course, since things are a little out of whack at the moment, I wasn’t expecting anything revolutionary in terms of next steps; however, her insight really impressed me.

In addition to the mindfulness and breathing awareness exercises, she suggested that I try alternating in a high-dose probiotic with my usual probiotic supplement. The ideas is to flush and re-populate my GI tract — not only to aid with digestion, but also to keep my system in tip-top shape prior to delivery.

Dr. Kassam was also enthusiastic about the idea of adding gyrotonic workouts to my regimen. Gyrotonic utilizes three planes of movement for exercise sequences that are composed of spiraling, circular movements. These carefully-choreographed sequences are designed to create balance, efficiency, strength and flexibility — not to mention improve posture, regulate breathing and strengthen the core and pelvic floor (super important for moms-to-be!).

If I were on the ZOOM+ plan, the next steps would be for Dr. Kassam and I to set some measurable goals and design a 90-day sprint in which we’d make a game plan for how to go about reaching those goals. We’d meet monthly to check in on progress and tweak the approach, as needed.

This kind of accountability, along with the thoughtfulness and relevance of her suggestions, would no doubt produce some great results. In fact, even though I’m not doing the traditional sprint-and-follow-up format with ZOOM+, I am following through on her recommendations and look forward to going in for another assessment to get a more accurate baseline after Baby H comes this spring.

If you’re in the Portland area, it’s something I’d advise checking out because it’s both empowering and enlightening to be able to take your health into your own hands. Not to mention that getting ahead of the curve when it comes to healthcare is no longer something any of us can afford to ignore.

For more information about ZOOM+, visit ZoomCare.com.

Disclaimer: I received a complementary performance assessment to try. All opinions (and geeking out over the associated metrics) are my own, however. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Kinetic Fix!

10 Second Trimester Life-Savers

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On Monday, I shared a few favorite first trimester essentials, and today we’re doubling down with my must-haves from over the past few months.

While the initial few weeks of pregnancy might be more about survival, the second trimester is typically the light at the end of the tunnel. This is when things start to get real. It’s the “sweet spot,” so to speak, where energy has returned, appetite is up and girth is, well, growing.

Again, each experience is different, but there are just a few of the things that have helped get me by while Baby H is hard at work building him/herself!

1. Maternity Undies

I’ll never forget the first time I ventured into a maternity store and saw the ‘Mommy’ panties (I’ll refrain from calling them Granny). Slightly horrified, I backed away and vowed not to go there.

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But then I got curious and tried them on. After months of my body slowly expanding, this new frontier is women’s underwear is, quite simply, a revelation. I happened to find a few pair that were made of silky-smooth technical material — on clearance, no less — and they’ve been on heavy rotation ever since.

2. Protein Shakes

Getting enough protein when all you want to do is crash on the couch and eat carbs is always a struggle. I was bemoaning this fact when my friend Corey introduced me to the Arbonne Daily Essentials line, which has a lot of good stuff (20 grams of vegan protein, plus more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals per serving) with none of the crap (i.e. chemicals) found in some protein products.

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Since it’s also got a low glycemic index, which has little effect on blood sugar levels and does not cause a spike in blood sugar, I feel way less guilty about using a quick shake as a grab-n-go meal on busy days. Or, more often than not, a snack between meals. Because, who am I kidding?

3. Belly Butter

Ah, yes, there’s nothing quite like slathering some Booda Butter on that itchy, stretched-out belly post-shower. Sharlene, my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammate and a fellow mama-to-be, shared a tin with me and I’ve been raving about it ever since. Mostly because it works, but also because it smells like chocolate. 

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Another favorite? The Spoiled Mama’s Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks, which came in the mail as another prenatal gift from my wise sister. Between the cocoa butter base and the 11 nourishing oils, it feels heavenly on…and — surprise, surprise — the rich orange-chocolate scent isn’t too bad, either.

4. Nursing Sleep Bra

Trust me on this, even before you’re nursing it’s nice to have a little help wrangling the ‘ladies’ at night when you’re tossing and (laboriously) turning. Especially when the number of comfortable positions available in bed are rapidly dwindling.

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A quick Amazon search landed me on the VEAMI Nursing Sleep Bra, and it’s been love at first wear ever since. Silky-smooth and breathable, with just the right amount of support, this will quickly become your new ‘breast’ friend for the next few months…and beyond.

5. Full-Panel Pants

Take the advice of pretty much every pregnant woman ever, and start wearing these before you think you need ’em. Sure, you need a little bit of a bump to hold up the elastic panel, but once you make the switch, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

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Test the waters with a reasonably-priced pair from Old Navy, or take the plunge with my favorite full-panel workout pants from Ingrid & Isabel (recommended by my friend Anabel). Not only are they great for hitting the town and breaking a sweat, respectively, but I’m also considering tossing all of my other pants, even after Baby H is born. Just kidding…kind of. 

6. Body Pillow

Ok, so I might have been a bit overzealous when I bought my Leachco Snoogle pillow about a month into pregnancy (and I thought I was uncomfortable then – HA!), but ever since I started using it regularly this trimester, it’s treated me well.

LeachcoBodyPillow

The c-shape design is helpful because you can contort yourself into multiple positions without using a gazillion pillows. Because, let’s face it, it’s all about supporting  hips, back and tummy for a good barely adequate night’s sleep at this point in the game.

7. Stability Ball

Even if you’ve never played around with one at the gym, it’s well worth investing in a stability ball for use during pregnancy and labor. Not only does using it help ease back pain and open the hips, but you’ll also (fingers crossed!) start working the baby into the proper position come delivery day.

LiveInfinitelyBall

The great news is that they’re relatively inexpensive, considering all the potential uses (I found this one on Amazon for about $25); I use it during evening TV watching, for example. And I dare you to keep a smile off your face as you bounce up and down on this thing!

8. Portable Snacks

Hell hath no fury like a hangry preggo. Whether you get stuck in traffic, an appointment runs late or you just need a pick-me-up between meals, it’s smart to carry around a few snacks to keep satiated.

Sahale

I bought my first Grab & Go packet of Sahale Snacks while hunting around at the grocery store for different options, and they’ve been a staple in my purse, gym bag and glove compartment ever since!

9. Supportwear

When I first started having round ligament pain, my doctor suggested I try some options for helping to support my growing belly. After taking to the internet for some research, I ran across Blanqi’s BODYSTYLER® Maternity Underbust Belly Support Tank and was instantly intrigued.

Blanqi

Designed for maximum support, Blanqi’s tank offers varying degrees of compression for a great combo of lift, stability and comfort. I layer it under pretty much everything and plan on using it post-baby, as well. Wanna check it out? Use my referral link to get a code for 20% off!

10. Prenatal Classes

If there’s one thing that’s proved invaluable — not just for learning about all things pregnancy, but also for creating an unofficial support group of women who are going through the same thing — it’s weekly prenatal classes.

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Anabel introduced me to MYMA Mama (which has slowly grown in size as more of our friends get knocked up!), but I’ve also taken a local Mod-Mama class that was terrific. These types of classes are designed to rejuvenate the body during pregnancy while preparing for birth with an “open mind,” which has become a mission as I approach the third and final trimester!

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