Calling all Mamas

Since my doctor told me today my baby could come anytime (of course without trying to get my hopes up), I started thinking about what life with the new baby…past pregnancy would bring.  The least favorite part for me is the saggy belly and all the energy it’s going to require to get back to normal.  I wondered what tips all you experienced moms have…what works best for you??  Please comment below because I am sure I am not the only one who could benefit from a little extra wisdom.

Also, do any of you have good tips for getting those stomach muscles back together??  Mine never did go back together after Barett, which led to me being quite injury prone while I was stupidly trying to work out like normal.  Did you use a belly band?  Certain exercises?  How long did it take you to heal?

When I was searching online I found this interesting article on Shape.com with some simple, albeit random tips on getting back into shape post-partum.  Thought I would share his ideas as a jumping off point.

1. Kegel, Kegel, Kegel: Pelvic muscles may have weakened during childbirth so it is imperative that we start in this area. Begin by either sitting or lying down and contract (squeeze) the muscles that you would generally use if you were attempting to stop urinating. I recommend performing 15 to 20 sets of contractions. Hold each contraction between three to five seconds resting three to five seconds between sets.

2. The easiest workout: Standing on one leg while brushing your teeth works deep core muscles. It’s a perfect short workout, creating a degree of instability that engages the smaller muscles essential for core strength.

3. Eat with your non-dominant hand: You may feel awkward at first but you will eat about 30 percent less and actually pay more attention to your food instead of other things.  Go ahead. Give it a try at your next meal. Since the hormones that signal to the brain that you are full are at the end of your digestive tract, it takes a while for the food to get there. It takes nearly 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you’ve had enough to eat. Switching to your non-dominate hand will have you eating at a slower pace, which in turn will have you ingesting fewer calories.

4. Confuse your stomach and watch it shrink: Recently, my wife switched from adult sized plates with a 12-inch diameter to saucer-sized plates, which are about 6 inches in across. The Reason: it might feel like your sitting at the kids’ table but studies show people who eat food off of saucers believe they are eating an average of 18 percentmore calories than they really are. At home, we also purchased blue flatware because the color blue is a natural appetite suppressant and I can personally notice that the switch has helped.

5. Easiest way to start flattening your belly…work your invisible abdominal muscles: Your transversus abdominis lies beneath your rectus abdominis, the 6-pack muscle, and flattens your waistline when you suck in your gut. Work it with the vacuum. Pull your belly button toward your spine and hold for 10 seconds while breathing normally. Repeat five times.
Coaches tip: Test out this simple exercise the next time you’re standing in line at the grocery counter.

6. Dip your fork first: Next time you order salad keep the dressing on the side and dip your fork in it before spearing a piece of lettuce rather than dousing your greens. The average salad dressing has over 300 calories. This way, you’ll add taste without the extra calories.

7. Me and you time: Having a newborn can sometimes create anxiety between a couple, and distance. To help avoid this, my wife and I have set aside a few nights a week where we take our child Max (that’s him in the picture!) on a couple’s walk. Walking not only strengthens, tones, and redevelops muscles that may have been lost during pregnancy but, starting a walking or exercise regimen with your spouse or partner actually increases your chance of sticking to the program by up to 90 percent.

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A Simple Solution

Sometimes it is hard to decide the best way to eat for the best health with as many different claims out there from different fields of experts: Atkins vs. Vegans, Vegetarians vs. Paleo.  And even still there are some things in the world of health and nutrition that change with the times: margarine being created as a healthier replacement for butter, formula being touted as better for kids than breast milk are the first to pop into my head but I’m sure there are many more.

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Just as I am sure one thing we can rely on staying constant is that vegetables are good for us.  Especially green vegetables.  Don’t think we can overdose on broccoli…but are any of us really in danger of that?  Well you need to believe me when I say that you might be after this “recipe”.  It will solve any problems you have trying to get your kids to eat more veggies.

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The three items in these two pictures and an oven are all you will need to make some broccoli that you will find yourself and your kids popping like candy (Don’t know if any of you also picked up the Misto Food Grade sprayers when they had them at Costco but they are awesome! I have Olive Oil in one and Canola Oil in the other).

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The “recipe” comes from You Can Trust a Skinny Cook, by Allison Fishman, which my sister was kind enough to give me.  I will simplify it even more.

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Cover large baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil unless you love doing dishes.  Chop one head of broccoli–don’t throw away the stems because they actually taste good this way too!!
  2. Put the broccoli in the pan, drizzle with 1 TBSP of oil, and sprinkle 3/4 tsp of kosher salt.  Toss the broccoli in the oil to be sure it is coated evenly.  (If you have the awesome Misto sprayer, or any food-grade sprayer for that matter, you can simply spray on the oil for an even coating and not even need a whole TBSP.)
  3. Cook in the oven until crispy brown, about 20 minutes, stirring after 12 minutes.  You will want to serve immediately because I have noticed that despite being in such a hot oven, it gets cold quickly after being out.

Fishman has a similar recipe in her cookbook, but for cauliflower.  The only thing different really is the slicing technique. Instead of cutting out the individual florets, slice them into steaks for a new presentation.  Just stand the cauliflower on its stem end, and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Cooking temp, time, and additions of salt and olive oil are the same.

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Roasting veggies with oil caramelizes them and brings a richness of flavor that you will never find by steaming, microwaving, or sauteeing.  Grilling comes close…ah…looking forward to summer.   What are your favorite simple ways to prepare vegetables?

To Buy or to Grate

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Does that whet your appetite?  Maybe if the Pioneer Woman or Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posted it then it possibly could look a little more appetizing??  I don’t think so.  I don’t think any amount of amazing photography or food eloquence could make us excited to eat wood pulp, yet you have probably eaten more recently than you realize.

Have you ever noticed that pre-shredded cheese doesn’t taste the same as cheese freshly shredded at home?  In fact, nowhere near as good?  My sisters and I were commenting about that one time at my parents house and my dad responded that perhaps we should read the ingredients on our bag of preshredded cheese and we would find out why.  The answer?  Calcium sulfate, Cellulose, and Silica–essentially plaster, wood, and sand.  Getting hungry yet?  They put them there to prevent the cheese from drying out or from clumping together and though said not to be dangerous in small amounts, is that really want you want to put in your body??

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And cheese is not the only packaged food out there feeding us this wood pulp–the use of cellulose by the food industry is on the rise.  They use it to thicken or stabilize foods, replace fat and boost fiber content, and cut the need for ingredients like oil or flour, which are getting more expensive.  It is commonly used in low-fat versions of foods to make them creamier.  So sad because I was really excited about those low-fat ice creams.  You can find a larger list of some specific foods with cellulose here.

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article I found when I got curious about these additives, and I also saw a blogger’s take on that article that you can peruse if you are curious about things that you are perhaps unknowingly putting into your body.  This form of cellulose is apparently very different from that naturally found in foods like fruits and vegetables that provide a good source of fiber.  It is indigestible by humans, created in a lab, and can sometimes have acid added to it to help break it down.

Again, not that appealing.  But maybe you don’t care about chemicals and cancer…just grate your cheese yourself because it tastes better!!

Eight Months Pregnant

So I haven’t posted anything since last July.  That is a long time.  I know, a really long time, especially in the world of social media.  I have many many excuses, but I don’t think you really care.  You probably have forgotten completely that I even had this blog…most days I have forgotten too!  But since we have a baby coming in a month, I wanted to hop back on here and recommit myself before things get even crazier.

This pregnancy has wiped away my strong commitments to healthy living that made me start this blog in the first place.  But now that I am large to the point of being ready to burst, I am coming back to the blog to hold myself accountable to the best decisions health-wise.  In the next month I hope to do some catch up, maybe even some back posting if I get really crazy.  Then after the baby comes we will hopefully get even crazier as I share my efforts to burn that baby weight so we can all help keep each other in line.

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