Category Archives: pregnancy

Cranberry Walnut Salad With Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

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You may have noticed a lack of posts lately and all I can do is blame the summer. It’s busy and hot and I’m pregnant and hot which means I don’t want to even look at the stove, let alone have to cook on it.

There has been a lot of grilling going on but I suck at grilling and end up burning half the shit, so no blog-worthy pictures there.

BUT today it hit me that I haven’t shared with you the salad that has been my main mid-day sustenance for the past few weeks. It’s fresh, flavorful, filling… and fucking fantastic (so many ‘f’s. I just had to.)

I was introduced to this salad a couple of months ago at a breastfeeding course with fellow doula friends. It was a potluck get together with lots of good stuff to eat, and we all at some point swarmed this salad until it was gone. I even tried pulling my I’m pregnant so you should totally leave that for me card with no success: The salad was gone before I could go back for (ahem) fourths. Bitches.

So of course I had to email my friend and ask her what this yummy greenness was all about. Today I ate an entire head of romaine lettuce by myself in this salad. I’m waiting to start growing roots on my feet any moment now.

I must apologize for the lack of photo editing. My laptop got sent back for fixing and I’m barred from installing any software into my husband’s computer. Like, infect the man’s laptop with a virus ONCE and suddenly your downloading privileges are nonexistent. Sheesh.

Cranberry Walnut Salad With Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

Salad greens (spring mix or all lettuce. I used romaine.)

Feta cheese

Apple chunks (optional. I didn’t have any, but I highly recommend you add some)

Dried cranberries

Walnuts (toasted or raw)

Dressing
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
Shake together in small mason jar.
Do I really need to tell you how to assemble this? I figured. Just toss it all together and enjoy the goodness.
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Exercise During Pregnancy? Don’t Mind If I Do

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“Oh, look at that pregnant woman waddle! I bet she walks funny out of muscle soreness from performing series of lunges, squats and deadlifts.” Said NO ONE EVER.

Sad but true, few people would believe this pregnant mom’s waddle walk is at times consequence of physical exercise. BUT IT IS. Sometimes. Other times I’m just being a normal preggo.

So let’s talk about activity during pregnancy. Or its alternative title: I’m pregnant, not dying. Yes I’m allowed to move.

Indistinct to, oh, every expectant woman in the history of the modern western world, I have been on the receiving end of advice suggesting that I should “take it easy” and “rest while it’s still possible” before the baby comes. I’ve yet to understand the logic behind this.

Of course there are situations in which a medical condition makes it difficult or even risky for mum to be active, and I’m not here to argue with that. What’s more, there are moms that consciously choose to not do anything during their baby’s gestation and I find that totally understandable (hey, it is a choice.) But what about the standard, normal pregnancy in which both mom and bub could benefit from activity, and there are no legitimate reasons (medical or otherwise) for passiveness?

I’m a true believer of being in tune with one’s body and following its cues– and if you ask me, everyone should be practicing this, not just pregnant women– but I’ve yet to understand why we feel so compelled to warn mom against doing “too much”. How much is that, exactly?

Childbirth is not only one of the most important athletic events in a woman’s life, it is also one of endurance. It’s like the Olympics but of life, and instead of a golden medal you get a chubby baby to snarfle on at the end of your race. You bet your ass I’m training.

Speaking of Olympics, what about Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, who competed in London at almost eight months pregnant?

My personal logic says that if all is well and in order, and the mom is already used to a certain rhythm of exercise, it isn’t necessary to stop. Some modifications may be suitable, some days may feel not as great… but as long as mom is paying attention to what her body says, no harm is done. Most of all, exercise your common sense.

Here is what I do.

For cardio: Zumba

I’m pleased that I’ve been able to keep up with teaching two hours of Zumba per week feeling great. I was already used to this kind of exercise and have been able to maintain the pace throughout my pregnancy (I’m on week 34 and still going). Not only do my lungs and heart get a workout, it’s dance: it makes me feel happy, energized, alive. I credit this for keeping me in such a great mood and believing I can accomplish my goals. Find your thing, whatever makes you smile, and stick with it for as long as it feels right.

Now, in my Zumba class there’s a lot of hip movement, a lot of booty shaking, and a lot of whining down. Add all this to the weight of a growing baby on the bladder and things can get awkward. Straight up I can tell you nothing terrible has happened and there have been no accidents, but it does feel kind of funny/weird at times. How do I deal? I got me one of these prenatal support bands.  It sure has helped alleviate some of the pressure thus making me feel more comfortable while I dance, but don’t think you have to shell out the $15 plus shipping for results– it’s nothing more than a wide strip of elastic with hooks. That’s it. Make it yourself and even better because you’ll set the hooks to close exactly where you want them to.

For flexibility: Yoga

During pregnancy there is a release of relaxin, a hormone our wise body produces to make our joints stretchy and limber in preparation for birth. Relaxin is the reason we need to be careful not to over stretch. It’s a matter of paying attention to how our body is feeling, and remembering that this isn’t the best moment to attempt twisting into a pretzel for the first time.

As much as I would love to go to a prenatal yoga class, truth is the budget doesn’t allow for that right now. The good news is, there’s still a way to get our yoga in. Video, baby! I follow Shiva Rea’s Prenatal Yoga video in the comfort of my living room and frumpiness of my pj’s. I find this video very easy to follow, even for a beginner, as it clearly explains modifications for women in second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

*Many thanks to Angelina, Amy and Christine, all whom in one way or another made it possible I have this video now. Teehee!

For muscle strength: Strength training

Squats and I are like BFFs now. Word. Hey, I figure I’ll be doing my share of squatting at the moment of birthing my baby, so might as well get all the practice I can get.

For obvious reasons I can’t do situps, but I keep my core in check with planks.

For upper body strength I mostly go for dumbbells. I love dumbbells. Bicep curls, triceps kicks, shoulder press, chest press (with plenty of breaks and attention to how I feel– lying on our back isn’t the most recommended thing during the third trimester), upward rows… the possibilities are endless.

For mental sanity, entertainment, and fun: Random things

Hiking

Fun in nature, fresh air, a workout. Extra points for dragging your friends along.

Swimming

Being so light and buoyant in the water feels ridiculously wonderful.

Rock climbing

Fun challenge trying to keep the body close to the rock wall with a 7.5 month pregnant belly. Totally doable, quite enjoyable.

Canoeing

My shoulders, back, and core really felt the workout with the paddling. Very relaxing once I got over the fear of flipping over.

And when all else fails… walk.
Walk to the post office, to the store, to the library, around your block. You don’t have to act like an elite athlete every single day of your pregnancy, and chances are you will have many days, like I do, in which there isn’t a hint of desire to move. That’s ok, those days have their place, too. When I feel ready to get going again walking helps me start slow and get back on track.

I really want to be clear and say it is not my intention in the least to make other moms feel bad if it hasn’t been possible or desirable for them to stay active while pregnant. Nor do I wish to set a bar for others to compare themselves and decide if they’ve been a better or worse expectant mom than I. This is just my personal experience, so different from my first pregnancy, and we’re each on our individual path to follow with our own lessons to be learned.

I have received many benefits from staying active. Forget about the physical benefits… the mental ones, holy cow! I don’t know how I would be feeling right now if I hadn’t stayed as mobile. It’s as if keeping myself reasonably challenged has lit a spark inside– I feel happy, accomplished, relaxed and peaceful. This process has reminded me to trust my body because it is capable of achieving many wonderful things. I’m very grateful.

For more information on exercise and pregnancy, read Precision Nutrition’s article on How To Exercise During Pregnancy.

Zumba is Fitness and Dance’s Lovechild

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I can’t think of a single better way to work out than this.

My Saturday began with waking up at 5:30 am in order to get ready and leave the house in time for the 1.5 hour drive to the town where the training would take place.

I love to dance and have been teaching dance fitness classes for some time, so I decided it was time to become a fully certified Zumba instructor. It was also kind of urgent that I get it done as soon as possible because, you know, once the baby is born it will be near impossible to be gone for an entire day. When you’re pregnant it’s like you’re constantly chased around by Mike Wallace’s 60 Minutes ticking clock because time’s a-running. And you can’t forget it.

The training was super fun and dynamic: Nothing to wake you up like a high-intensity dance fitness class at 8:30 in the morning!

Our instructor, Andrea Sandhu, was fantastic.

Super grainy pic. Sorry about that!

I grew up listening to Latin music like the one used in Zumba classes. My favorite for dancing is Salsa, but I’ve always found it a bit difficult how to explain to non-Latin students how to follow the beats. I’ve listened to this kind of music so long that the beats are simply there for me, it all just makes sense. However, someone who is new to the music style may not hear the same things I do; not all beats jump out as clearly. In Andrea’s simplification of the basic steps I learned how to help someone make sense of the different rhythms and pauses, and I’m sure this will help me a lot with my students.

Along with the practical classes in which the simplified steps for Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Reggeton were explained, we also had a couple of lectures in which the more technical parts of being a Zumba Instructor were broken down for us. It was very helpful because we were provided with many resources and options, as well as learning tools and material.

Our group was very eclectic, with people from all ages and from all areas in attendance. It was almost mostly women, but I was very happy to see two guys in there! I think Zumba needs male instructors as much because everyone has something of their own to offer. One of our classmates had a very inspirational story that she shared with us: She has lost 130 Lbs. so far, and this was just following the Zumba dvds in her living room, on her own. There’s no doubt that when there’s determination you don’t need fancy equipment or professional studies in exercise and nutrition. She was so happy and I’m sure that she’s extremely proud of herself.

Overall it was a great experience, I made new friends (even someone from my area, yay!) and I had a great time.

I was nervous in the beginning because with it being such a long haul I wasn’t sure where my energy levels were going to be at different points of the day, but fortunately my almost five month-pregnant self got through it fine.

If you’ve been thinking about becoming a Zumba Instructor you should totally go for it. I found the training to be very helpful and worthwhile, and I’m super glad I did it!

 

My body pulled a Natalie Portman

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And I don’t mean I woke up one morning looking like she did in Black Swan.

In fact, quite the opposite, you know, considering I’m pregnant.

I am! But I hadn’t written about it because I know it can be an awkward subject since every knocked up woman in the history of the world has felt her pregnancy is the most. important. thing. and of course to her it is, but so many others around her are going eh. Can’t blame them (or you, if that’s your case) because the baby baking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

But now that we got the (potential) awkwardness out of the way let’s tackle today’s class, which I have lovingly titled Dear body, seriously WTF.

I love questioning myth vs. fact, old wives’ tale vs. scientific evidence, what is vs. what isn’t, and no other moment in life offers more of these comparisons than pregnancy. Oy. We’ve heard it all: tie a red ribbon to your shirt for protection! Wear this little medal of St. Whoever’s-in-charge-of-pregnant-ladies so that everything turns out fine! (at least if you grew up Catholic like I did), don’t stare at the moon or the baby will be hairy (ok I may have made that one up)… you get the hint.

But along with the myths are a myriad of facts: it’s a fact that the body will change; for some women the changes are precipitous and obvious, while for others they’re imperceptible and almost only internal– but they’re there.

It is also a fact that during pregnancy the body produces all sorts of hormones and baby forming ingredients. However, this fact comes hand in hand with a shitload! of myths. It is a myth that you have to puke. It is a myth that you have to end up with the emotional stability of a ravenous murderer. It is a myth that your hair has to fall out or your skin has to break. While all of these are possibilities, there are many different variables that will determine what, in the end, will be our own personal outcomes, symptoms and effects.

With this in mind I was pretty determined to not be a textbook pregnant. I decided I was fine without morning sickness and that the change in shape of my body would be gradual and slow. Awesome, right? I was like, bitch, I got this.

But then something happened that I wasn’t expecting. The body reveled. The body was like dude, fuck this shit. Surprised and in shocked awe, all I did was sit back and observe it happen.

It all began with a salad. I love salads! For a few weeks out of my first trimester though, my body was having none of that. I could have slapped whoever dared offer me spinach. RAGE. Also my beloved fruit smoothies: Just opening the freezer and seeing the bags of fruit made me want to go she-hulk on someone’s ass. It was awful.

But the worst came after: I was all, get me fucking fried chicken NOW or prepare to DIE. Is this embarrassing to admit? Absolutely. Did it ground me down from any shadow of a holier than thou attitude I may have been flaunting? Hell yes.

Everyone and their pet fish will have a theory of why this sort of thing happens: The regular meat eater will use it as obvious evidence that the body needs meat and will feel vindicated. The militant activist will point fingers and blame a faulty will power and lack of commitment. One opinion or another, it doesn’t really matter; this personal case of mine is for me to understand and learn from, and boy, did I ever!

And this is the story of how Natalie Portman and I are twinsies: From a life of predominantly vegan eating, to a pregnancy where the body says fuck all and takes a different direction. It’s ironic, too, because I’m willing to bet that Portman, much like myself, really desired to eat only the healthiest, purest and most peaceful food during a time in which what we eat matters most. Has the occasional cheese and burger turned me into an awful, unworthy mother? Well, I believe that if there’s anything that poisons the body more than unhealthy food that would be guilt, so I’ve chosen to free myself in this one.

What about you, any psycho swings experienced during your/your partner’s pregnancy? OR AM I THE ONLY ONE.