Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Works: BMs, exercise, fibre and stuff

It’s finally happened. I’m doing the inevitable. I’m speaking publicly about my child’s poo. To what do you owe this pleasure, you ask? You can thank my mommy friends for these inspired thoughts. Don’t worry. I promise not to gross you out.

So I guess it’s true. When gathered together, new moms do talk about baby poo. In our defence, we didn’t start out talking about bowel movements. We were actually comparing notes on the Jumperoo. You know, that delightful contraption by which babies to spring up and down like little kangaroos. And by which mom is able to grab a snack and catch up on emails. In comparing notes, my friends noticed a similar outcome. After a healthy jumping session, their babies seemed particularly ‘loose’.

I don’t have much experience with babies, but I’ve had my fair share of exercise. Research supports what every runner already knows. Exercise gets the system moving. Don’t believe me? Check out the Port-a-potty usage next time there’s a marathon in town! If it works for adults, I figure the same must hold true for our young ones. I assured my curious friends that the ‘increase in activity’ seemed a perfectly natural effect of, well, increase in activity.

We ourselves have not bought a Jumperoo. There’s no springing and bounding happening in my home. So what accounts for my daughter’s insane bowel movements? I’m talking three to five serious movements in various colours and consistencies each day. Is it her robust diet of breast milk and stage one cereals? Possible. Is it my healthy fibre-filled recipes? Probable.

I’ve been eating pretty well. I know I’m getting a ton of fibre, which is great for weight control. Because it’s so filling, it helps prevent overeating. Plus, most high-fibre foods are likely a healthy food choice overall. When was the last time you had a high fibre donut or onion ring? But could I be eating too much fibre? Hmm. How much is too much? I turned to my all-knowing friend, Sir. Google for the answer. Here’s what he said:

USDA recommendations for daily fiber intake:

  • 25 grams for women ages 19-50yrs.
  • 28 grams for pregnant women
  • 29 grams for nursing women

So I opened my kitchen cupboards and did the math. Turns out I’m consuming about 30-35 grams per day and sometimes over 40 grams. Holy crap! LOL. My key culprits are Fiber One cereal, oatmeal  you know I love my oatmeal, whole wheat bread, beans, lentils, sweet potatoes, and apples. Needless to say, I’m cutting down on the roughage and hopefully, the messy diaper changes.

Growing diaper budget aside, fibre and exercise are still our friends. Personally, I think exercise can be a saviour for new moms. Maybe once or twice a week is all you can do. Still, that’s once or twice a week of dedicated “me time”. You could find that a good walk, a good stretch or a good sweat help boost your mood, energy and self-esteem. And don’t forget the fibre. A healthy dose could keep you satiated until baby naps and you finally get another meal.

Pregnant? Fibre and exercise are as good a friend as Tums and a foot massage. The physiological changes of pregnancy can lead to constipation. A little ironic considering all that time spent in the bathroom, isn’t it? With your doctor’s okay, Belly Bootcamp and a side of beans could be the right prescription.

So there you have it. You survived the baby poo talk.  Hopefully I provided some useful information and few good laughs along the way. Think of me and chuckle next time you come across a Jumperpoo – I mean Jumperoo 🙂

Has this got you thinking about the smell in the gym bathroom, or your own awkward cubicle moments? LOL

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Wear and Tear (Part 1 of 2): Dressing the postpartum body

My daughter may prove to be a stubborn little girl. If so, I’ll know exactly where she got it from. Look no further than her steadfast mother. Steadfast: fixed in direction; firm in purpose; unwavering. Yep, that’s me!

For months, I’ve been firm in my position. I’m not buying new jeans. I have an old pair of size ten Joe Fresh jeans that fit. I’ll wear those until my ‘real’ jeans fit again. Real meaning the smaller jeans I actually like and wore one year ago, versus two years and twenty pounds ago.

I’ll be back in my skinny jeans by summer. Why spend money on new jeans that I’ll only wear for a short while?  To save tears, that’s why! Hence the title, wear and tear. That’s tear as in cry.

“Just buy new jeans”, my husband says. He can’t understand why I torture myself each time I get dressed.

My breaking point came a couple weekends ago. I should have been beaming with anticipation. I was off to visit a very dear friend. She brings joy to my life with her friendship and awesome home-cooked dishes! Instead I left my apartment on the verge of tears. There’s no pretty way to say it. I felt like sh!t. I hated my cheap, waist-too-big, butt-sagging, dirty-hem, too-wide-to-tuck-into-boots-for-cute-downtown-look, sorry-a$$ jeans! Ahhhh…

That was Sunday. Monday was spent rationalizing the purchase. My husband was right. It was better to he happy in new jeans, whatever size, than be miserable until I reached some arbitrary goal. Duh! By Tuesday I did a total 180 and was determined to buy new jeans that day! I strolled into Shop Girls Gallery Boutique.

Friendly shopkeeper: “Hi, how’s it going?”

Steadfast shopper: “Good. I need Yoga Jeans”.

Friendly shopkeeper who sees a quick easy sale: “Great, what are we looking for?”

Steadfast shopper happy to give it to her: “Dark wash, high waist, boot cut.”

Done. One minute later I was in the fitting room. Fifteen minutes later I was the happy owner of nifty new bottoms. And that was that!

Now don’t mistake Yoga Jeans for Pajama Jeans. They are not the lazy woman’s answer to casual wear. My friends wouldn’t let me order Pajama Jeans. Good friends! Yoga Jeans are a Canadian-made stretchy jean perfect for curvy bodies. I seem to recall mention of vertical, horizontal and diagonal stretch for ultimate form-flattering hugs. Then again, I have mommy-brain so don’t quote me on that.

I scrutinized my selection ala Stacy London. High-rise waist versus mid-rise to cover my tummy. Boot cut versus straight leg to balance the thickness of my waist and thighs. Solid dark wash for a slimming effect. Back pocket detail to add shape to the butt. Gotta say, it’s the angle I like most.

The best part was stepping skeptically into a size  31. They fit! I honestly thought I’d need a 33 or 34. Thank you elastane! Hey, another reason to be “Ga Ga for Yoga”, LOL.

Now that I have trendy, butt-shaping, leg-hugging, Queen-West-strut-worthy denim, I can create some new yummy mummy outfits. I’m gonna bring my funky back! I have a shopping trip planned with Onika Blackman-Lloyd of So Damn Stylish. Onika is a super stylish new mom with a gift for thrift shopping. Together, we’ll source and report on fabulous finds that flatter the postpartum body.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Got a favourite form-flattering brand of denim? Do tell.

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Progress Update: 5 months postpartum

If I say it, I may jinx it but here goes. Life is great! At five months postpartum, we’ve hit a turning point. Things are starting to shape up. Pun intended. For the moment, everything feels like less work and more fun.

Baby

What is it about five months? My daughter is more delightful than ever. Her awareness is greater. Her laugh is more pronounced. Her first attempts at independence are hilarious. Watching her shovel cereal into her mouth is awesome!

The best part is that we’re actually forming a routine. The highlight of the day are our afternoon jaunts around town. The outings made a world of difference for both our moods. Being able to predict her needs has definitely made me more confident taking her out. I was hesitant before. Now I can’t get enough neighbourhood walks, movies, lunches and play dates.

Belly

5 months postpartum profile

I’m all about Ab Rehab right now (see March 1,”ProRated”) I’m on week three of the six-week program and already seeing results. Upon contracting, I can see less of a “hole” around my belly button. Without contracting, my belly is still very round. I’m good at keeping it contracted so nobody’s asking “oh, how many months are you?”, LOL.

3 months postpartum (stomach contracted)

5 months postpartum (stomach contracted)

I have proof that my torso is smaller. Without thinking about it, I actually zipped up my cream biker jacket yesterday. The two sides of the zipper wouldn’t even meet months ago! With that success I tried for another – my awesome orange spring jacket. Nope, only the bottom button can be done. No problem, that will be the next mark of improvement.

Barbells

I’m still holding at two gym days a week, on average. But all these new outings have meant a TON of walking i.e. more exercise. I’ve recorded seven gym days and nine long walks in the last month. Sweaty walks, not strolls. My weight still hasn’t changed but I know the work is adding up.

Working out with my new training partner has been great. We complement each other well. Neither of us talk during cardio, LOL. I never guessed I would look forward to the company.

I’ve kept my workouts fresh with: various interval programs on the cardio machines, new strength moves, and by adding yoga (see March 12, “Ga Ga for Yoga”).

My next fitness evaluation is a couple weeks away. To shock my body and rev up results, I’ll be doing some different workouts this month. I’m ready to try GoodLife’s body pump class. I’m also taking another stab at running. Only slightly masochistic.

Progress is still slow, but I’m feeling more confident than ever. Either that or I’m on a vitamin D high,  LOL. I’m really anxious to do my fitness evaluation. I hope the numbers will confirm what I see in the mirror and not on that lying scale.

How are things shaping up for you at the 5 month mark?

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Ga Ga For Yoga: The perfect class for me

I made a list while I was pregnant. I planned all the cool yummy mummy activities baby and I would get up to this year. You know, drop-ins, “Movies for Mommies”, and of course, mommy and baby yoga. Yoga?! What was I thinking? I hate yoga. Pregnancy and childbirth did nothing for my interest in chairs, trees or warriors…until now.

Okay I don’t hate yoga. I sometimes like it. I want to love it.  The cute pants, the trendy bags, what’s not to love, right? Way to trivialize an ancient discipline, I know. I’ve given it a fair shot more than once. Hatha breathing was slow and boorrr-ing. Uber yogis were annoying and cliche. Overpriced studios took themselves too seriously.

Tang’s class was the only one I loved. He led an awesome community vinyasa class at Yoga Space. Finally, I got it – the lengthening postures, the flow of energy, the cleansing sweat! Then Tang left. Sigh.

With all my running and weight training back then, yoga was great therapy for my overused muscles. Now it’s all the breastfeeding and baby-carrying that’s got me craving a good stretch. My chest and shoulders have never been so tight.

I considered the Yoga Space postnatal class from my yummy mummy list. Another sigh. Would it be worth the hassle of toting baby on public transit only to spend the entire class on edge anticipating her disruptive cry? Not the experience I was looking for. Instead, my mommy buddy and I gave GoodLife’s lunchtime (sans baby) yoga class a try.  It’s yoga at the gym, how serious can it be?

As we moved from chair pose into pulses, the instructor warned “this is gonna be an athletic class”. GoodLife yoga, athletic? Gimme a break. By the tenth set of leg lifts, I was eating my words. Seriously, we spent at least ten minutes working our inner and outer thighs. It was great! The class was a perfect balance of standard poses, strength-testing exercises and relaxation time. I got the stretch, the workout and the release I was looking for. Downward dog never felt so good!

This class didn’t elicit that amazing purifying effect I’d gotten before, but I definitely did unwind.  The ‘yogaesque’ music in the background was just enough. I didn’t miss the smell of incense or the sound of chimes at all. Most of all I enjoyed this class for the physical challenge and lack of pretencion. Like, Nike capris were acceptable in place of Lululemon, LOL.

I look forward to a regular Thursday date with my mommy buddy and my new favourite yoga instructor. Mental note: really need a pedicure! And who knows, baby and I may still make it to postnatal yoga this summer. I’d love to get a side-by-side shot of us in child’s pose, LOL. How cute would that be?

When you do yoga with baby, do you reap the same benefits or is it a different experience?

GOOD TO KNOW: Breastfeeding often leads to tight chest muscles and rounding forward of the shoulders. Consider adding flexibility training to your program to stretch these tight areas.

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Wicked!: The positives of this postpartum life

Ever watch the news and feel the world is full of despair? Natural disasters, political turmoil, traffic accidents, health risks – sheesh! Upliftment comes in the form of one human interest story per night. Yes, we’re all glad Fluffy made it home safely. What a job those news anchors have. I’d hate to constantly convey such doom and gloom. Yet somehow I feel I’ve done just that.

Looking back at my posts, I’ve spent a great deal of time uncharacteristically bemoaning my post pregnant state. Baby weight, mummy tummy, workout withdrawal – there’s been a lot of lament. A Debbie Downer I am not! Enough counting inches, it’s time to count blessings.

As I mentioned last week, there are some wicked things happening in my postpartum fitness life (see Feb. 28, “Girl Interrupted”). Whether all, some, or none of them materialize, I am thankful for each opportunity. Check it out:

  • Applied for a health and wellness blog writing position
  • Invited to lead a spring running program for moms
  • Coordinated a workshop on core fitness for my new mommy friends
  • Secured a client for my exciting new fitness biz in development
  • Connected with an awesome potential biz partner. She’s brimming with the same ideas I have and more!
  • Approached by a fitness photographer to submit an article and photos to Oxygen and IFM when I’m back to pre-contest weight. Talk about incentive!

Wicked!

Personal interests aside, I’m enjoying many other aspects of postpartum life. If you’ve ever been pregnant, I suspect you’ll relate to at least a few.

  • Brie
  • Maternity leave
  • Wearing high heels
  • Sleeping on my stomach
  • Lacing up my own shoes
  • Close up front-to-front hugs with my hubby
  • My super duper awesome family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wicked!

Is that a knowing laugh I hear? Good. I’m happy, you’re laughing, and Fluffly got home safely. Life is wonderful!

I will continue to focus on my goals. I will not however, slip into six o’clock news mode. It’s not all bad. Quite the contrary. It’s all good. Better than good – wicked!

What do you love about postpartum life?

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ProRated: An expert assessment of my diastasis

Remember when you finally found someone who could explain GRPs, GNP or Excel macros? Me neither. Alright, how about when you finally found someone to remove the stain in your favourite party dress or give you the perfect haircut? That’s how I felt when I met Samantha.

I learned of Core Expectations through a friend. Within an hour of visiting  the website I was on the phone booking an appointment with the founder, Samantha Montpetit-Huynh. Finally, I would get a professional assessment and treatment for my diastasis. If you’ve been following, you know it’s been the bane of my postnatal existence (see Dec. 14, “I’ve Come Undone”).

Samantha practices the Tupler Technique for repairing diastasis. I mentioned Tupler in my Jan. 14 “He Said, She Said” post. At the time, I was skeptical of the big celebrity endorsements. Just because Oprah says it, doesn’t make it so. Looks like Harpo got it right this time. Ab Rehab works.

After a short introduction and obligatory paperwork, we got right down to business. It turns out my abdominal separation is four finger widths wide – not two as I thought. Great. Oh, and my connective tissue is weak. So much so that with Samantha’s guidance, I could actually feel my organs pulsing beneath my skin. Lovely. But on the up side, I now know what to do (and not do) to fix it. Its been two days and I’m fully immersed in the program. I’m doing a progression of exercises to strengthen my transverse abdominals, I’m avoiding certain movements and I’m wearing a splint. Oh yes, the very same splint I mocked. I won’t give away all the details but my current daily program includes:

  • 5 sets of exercise #1
  • 10 sets of exercise #2
  • strict attention to posture and core engagement during daily activities
  • strict attention to posture and core engagement when working out

We’ll have another session in four weeks. That’s when I’ll learn the next stage of exercises. Then by week six, I should feel the satisfaction that comes with a smaller separation and smaller tummy. Hallelujah.

Dealing with the situation feels great. I did though, have a moment of depression in the afternoon after our session. The reality check hurt a little. It would still take a good deal of time and work to flatten this mummy tummy. But one day later, having started the treatment, I feel empowered. As a great army man often said, “knowing is half the battle” LOL.

In case you’re wondering, I was indeed impressed with Samantha’s services overall. She is knowledgeable, friendly and  professional. And a sista to boot! The home visit was tres convenient and all the administration very smooth. She even gave me some good nutrition and supplement tips which I did not expect. Could it be? A boost in energy AND relief from my painful tendinitis?

There was also an added bonus for me, achiever that I am. As part of the evaluation, my waist circumference, heart rate and blood pressure were measured. We won’t talk about my waist size but the other counts were amazing. My heart rate which was 68bpm in December is down to 64. And markedly lower than the 72bpm average I might add 🙂

My only regret is not meeting Samantha earlier. I would have loved her guidance while I was pregnant and doing all those stupid crunches and bicycles.

All you mamas-to-be out there, listen up! It’s definitely worth it to consult with a trainer certified in pre and postnatal exercise. After all, you wouldn’t go to a  dog groomer for new bangs, right?

How informed are/were you about prenatal exercise during your pregnancy?

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