Archives for category: Food

As I sit here writing at 34 weeks pregnant with my second baby, and indulging on some Nutella and pretzels, something I never actually ate until I got pregnant, I can’t help but think about the wonderful world of being pregnant.  I am sooo incredibly overjoyed and grateful to be pregnant, but there are so many crazy things that happen to us while we are expecting, it’s almost hard to narrow it down.  However, I think I’ve managed to put together a quite realistic list of more than what to “expect when you’re expecting…” Warning: this is not a composed list of how amazing you feel, because while you feel mentally wonderful, our bodies sure go through the ringer while growing these miracles inside us!  So, this is more of a list about the common discomforts women experience while pregnant.

The Top Ten Most Challenging Aspects of being Pregnant:

IMG_5827

1) Exhaustion: It’s a different kind of exhaustion that I can’t quite put my finger on, it’s not the staying out all night exhaustion or working a 12 hour shift exhaustion, it’s the exhaustion that comes from your body suddenly supporting not just one, but two living beings now. For no reason at all you will just want to camp out on the couch, bed, chair, nearest willing shoulder to rest your head on and just doze off into oblivion.  It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, if you had a full 8 hours of sleep the night before or if you just came out of hibernation, it will hit you, I promise!

2) Forgetfulness: Vitamin B12 anyone? Not only does your body suffer from sheer exhaustion, but you will start forgetting the most random of things while you are pregnant. Pregnant brain, mommy brain, becoming a total airhead, whatever you want to call it can be difficult to deal with.  This is coming from a woman who lives off her to-do lists and she suddenly finds herself wondering where it that she put that to-do list is or why she even made it at all?  The woman who thinks she has everything all set in the car before she heads out for the day and realizes she forgot her keys, only to find them later in the bathroom closet.

IMG_5483 IMG_5592 IMG_5828

3) Mood Swings/Extra Emotional: Yes, I understand that as women we are already pretty emotional, but something happens to your feelings when you find out you are expecting. The extra tears, fears, joy, pain, sappy love song or commercial, snappiness, wanting to punch random people in the face or even just give them a hug all has to do with one thing- HORMONES!  Please pass the tissues…

4) The Pains: Between back pain, breast tenderness and growth, acid reflux, gas, heartburn, carpal tunnel, TMJ, constipation, stretch marks, sinus pressure, chasing around your first child (if you have one), stretch marks, worsening allergies, cracking pelvis, swelling, or in my worst case scenario gross and terribly bulging varicose veins that require wearing compression stocking daily. Pregnancy changes your body in so many ways, so be sure to take extra good care of yourself as your baby growing inside you is quite literally sucking the life out of you, but trust me is adding a whole lot of love to make up for it!

5) Morning sickness: Not every woman gets this one, and if you aren’t I envy you! With my first pregnancy with my daughter’s it wasn’t so bad, I had it mostly in the morning and I am not one who vomits, but I had the feeling like I wanted to all through those AM hours.  During my current pregnancy with my second child I felt sick, morning, noon and worst of all at night during my first trimester.  I had to force myself to eat because while I was hungry, literally everything grossed me out.  For most women this nauseous feeling subsides or at least gets better by the second trimester, but for some never fully goes away.  I still get it some mornings and after certain things I eat…carbs and ginger ale help.

6) Frequent Urination: Before I ever got pregnant I didn’t think this started until the end of pregnancy, boy was a wrong. Not only do you make many more trips to the bathroom than you ever thought possible, but it’s also much harder to hold your pee.  When you do get to relieve yourself you expect it to be this huge amount (the kind my husband and like to call ‘A League of Their Own’ pee, you know you remember that scene when hungover Tom Hanks pees for about 6 minutes straight), but it’s not it’s usually quite as huge as you thought.  You leave the powder room scratching your head wondering how such a small amount feels so urgent, but not to worry you will be back there soon enough to forget.

7) Temperature Control Issues: Hot, cold, warm? All of the above?  Mostly hot for me, which left me apologizing to anyone I used to make fun of before who seemed much more on the warmer side, and I was usually the cold one.  Not anymore, though…you won’t always be hot, but for some reason it will be hard to regulate your temperature, especially when you sleep.

8) Shortness of Breath: It’s getting extremely hard to breathe now as I enter into the last six weeks of my pregnancy. Baby starts taking up too much room and sits on your lungs, ribs or whatever else they can find.  Sometimes I will find myself doing breathing exercises as if I just came off the treadmill for an hour, if only that were true.  Sitting upright helps, slowing down, putting your hands behind your head, taking deep breaths and drinking water helps.

9) Pressure: There’s a pregnancy waddle I’ve been sporting since somewhere after the 20 week mark. It’s kind of like a duck walk, except ducks have much leaner legs.  It’s not just because of the weight or because of back, hip or leg pain, it’s from the pressure you feel on the lower portion of your body and shifting your weight helps.  So you ultimately start to tilt and sometimes even lose balance because of it.  I actually twisted my ankle on my due date with my daughter due to losing my balance and mistepping, and then really had to stay off my feet until she decided to make her appearance four days late.

10) Getting ready for baby/life with baby: You’ve got the room set up, you’ve got your bag packed, you’ve got your birth plan all lined up, and have an awesome amount of diapers ready. Think you’re prepared for when that little bundle starts to contract?  Or that you are ready when your water breaks?  Or you’ll be able to handle this tiny little person when you’re blissfully on your way home with that little one from the hospital?  Think again, you will never be completely ready!  But the good news?  You will learn, there will be ups, downs, highs, lows, moments when you don’t think you can handle it, moments when you wonder what the heck you’ve gotten yourself into…but it will all truly be worth it!  Because with all the stress also comes a brand new outpouring of love that you’ve never experienced.  This love will fill you up and help you pull through and soon feel gleeful again when you hear that first little coo, or see that first little smile, successfully breastfeed, successfully burp, bathe or handle your baby all by yourself alone, or get more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Having a child is a complete whirlwind and I am still learning, my daughter and 3 ½ and my son is due in a little over a month and I still get scared.  I still have days where I feel totally awesome and then days when I feel like a total failure.  I can tell you this though; IT’S ALL TRULY A LABOR OF LOVE AND A DREAM COME TRUE!  So to all my fellow preggers out there past and present, whenever you get a chance to, which can be very difficult, pat yourself on the back, sit back, put your feet up, smile and tell yourself you’re doing a good job.  😉  ~J

11165231_821156184638409_3070245989774167150_n    11174869_10152639403951191_6498760066503652949_n

There are so many milestones we reach throughout the course of our lives.  Once you become a parent you will begin to realize just how many milestones there are that you don’t even remember from your very own youth.  You will be a witness to so many “firsts” through your child that it will be hard to keep track of them all. This got me thinking about “Mommy Milestones.”  A milestone is defined as a “significant point in development,” and because children grow so quickly from infancy to toddlers these regular milestones will become so apparent.  All the top things like their first words, first steps, first birthday, etc. will be very exciting.  But, I think “Mommy Milestones” are a little different and exciting in a different way, in a sense of accomplishment that you are actually a “good mom.”  You will start to have these startling moments where you sit back and can’t believe you just did this, or got through that, or that actually just happen?

So, here are the top 15 “Mommy Milestones” I’ve come up with from CONCEPTION TO TODDLERVILLE:

1) GETTING PREGNANT!!!!  Any woman planning on having a baby can tell how wonderful it is to pee on that little stick and have it come out POSITIVE!!!  As a female I think its safe to say that we feel this is a part of our role, our God given right to be able to grow a baby inside of us.  Whether it takes you a short, long, or ‘somewhere in between there’ time to get pregnant, it’s truly a moment of pure bliss that you won’t ever forget! pregnant_clipart

2) GIVING BIRTH.  Being preggers can be very exciting and exhausting time of your life.  But that is nothing compared to the craziness of giving birth!  Everyone has a different experience when it comes to labor.  However, fear not!  The most painful experience of your entire life is entirely worth it because you are rewarded with the most beautiful baby you will ever meet! You gave birth FROM YOUR VERY OWN BODY to this little blessing.   YES, YOU ARE AWESOME!!

3) NURSING YOUR CHILD (errr, successfully).  I was looking forward to being able to breastfeed, another God-given right, right??  Well yes, in a manner of speaking.  My daughter was not easy to nurse and we had many problems along the way and then just as we finally got into the swing of it around six weeks, I had to give it up due to her acid reflux.  Oh well, at least I gave it my best effort.  I was still very hard on myself as we were trying to nurse.  Some women have no issues and swear by it, others never try, some stop due to the many different circumstances.  But, if you are successful in doing this, I can tell you its amazing feeling to be able to feed your own child from just purely and simply, you.

4) Being able to care for your child on YOUR own for the first time.  Sounds strange right?  So much preparation goes into planning for the baby, but what about when they are actually there?  At the hospital you have so much help, then at home I had the help of my Mom and my husband for almost two weeks on just about a daily basis.  Then the reality kicks in on the day it’s just you and your baby for the first time!!!  It’s a little scary at first, but you manage to do it.  Plus you feel pretty cool (and relieved) when your husband gets home and you tell him, that’s right your are a Mom and yes you kicked ass taking care of your child by yourself, ALL DAY!

busy-mom

5) Leaving your baby alone successfully with someone else for more than a few hours.  I can still remember the first time I had to leave my daughter alone with my Mom for about 8 hours.  Of course I completely trusted my mom, but as I drove away from Juliette I felt an overwhelming ache, sadness, and worry for a while.  Then once I got to my destination I was so overwhelmed with people asking me for photos of her, how she was, how I was, etc. that the ache and sadness subsided mostly, but I still had worry.  It also felt a little freeing and somewhat normal again to be on my own, just me.  I now know the worry will probably never fully go away, but it does get better and a little easier with time.

6) Getting your baby to sleep through the night.  Any mom will tell you that this is in one word, wait for it…LEGENDARY!  (HIMYM fans will get that legendary reference) Right around 8 weeks old my daughter starting doing this and I can’t even tell you what the magic key was, but whatever we were doing with her was working!!! You will hear that Hallelujah song literally ring through your head, so much that you will have to make sure you keep doing what we are doing.  Of course, any mother will also tell you that just because they slept through the night, it does NOT mean you will.  You will wake up, stare at the monitor, listen to the monitor, turn it up, make sure its working, wander into their room, feel their chest, watch them, pace the halls, make sure they have enough blankets, are in the proper position, tiptoe to the bathroom, not to mention check the time about 40 more times, etc. This also gets easier with time.

2011-12-17_20-29-20_417

7) Losing the baby weight.  For me, nursing really helped with this one, plus honestly it truly is hard to find time to eat for quite a while.  Sometimes you just shovel into your mouth what you can between feedings.  Happily, after bout 4 weeks, I was back in my old jeans.  I was pretty proud of having shed almost all the pounds because it felt awesome.  I think the last few were gone after about 10 more weeks.  This is not to say your body will look exactly the same after, you will have stretch marks and that line down your stomach will fade, but your body will never truly be the same.  It will be a little stretched out in different places.  It’s all worth it though as you almost feel a sense of accomplishment like who cares, they are almost like battle scars and I’m ok with that. fat-woman-2-clipart (1) 8) The pride of their Independence (seeing them do things on their own for the first time like eating, drinking, walking, crawling, talking, etc.)  These are milestones for both baby and parents.  It’s fun to watch them try to become mobile and the strange things they will do to get there.  You’ll feel like you are living with a little drunken munchkin for a while.  You’ll have many proud mommy and daddy moments here.  Is the saying true that it’s all over once they start to crawl or walk?  Well its over for a little while, but once they become steady and you childproof even more so than you ever thought was necessary or possible, it gets easier.  Talking is also quite humorous at first, but when you start hearing real words, its just adorable.  Eating and drinking can be quite the scene too as you’ll learn that even your cell phone apparently tastes delicious, so does that 2-week-old Cheerio from under the couch you missed while cleaning…

9) Saying Mama!  Admit it, you know you want to hear “Mama” before “Dada.”  I still stand by the fact that Juliette’s first words were not “Dada” but merely “DAAAAAAA” followed barely by another “daiiii.”  Anyway, whether its said first or not, it’s amazing to hear when they actually look at you, know who you are, and say it out loud, be prepared to grab the tissues!

10) You become the ultimate healer.  Who still doesn’t want their mom around when they are sick?  I know I do!  There’s something about them that just makes you feel better.  Guess what?  You will have the same power over your child; a mother’s nurturing is the ultimate gift to their child.  It’s incredible that by just comforting them and knowing what to do when they aren’t well makes you the Dali Lama!  Caring for them in this state makes you realize how much they truly need you, that you are that person who makes it all better. Healing Heart-256x256 11) Signing up your child for their first independent class.  My daughter’s first ‘non-Mommy and Me’ class was her dance class the started in the fall of 2013.  Let me tell you that YOU will be more nervous; YOU will be “that mom” in class that becomes the worrywart.  However, my fears subsided when I realized how well Juliette did when that door shut, and that there were, in fact…NO TEARS!  A bit of tears came a few weeks later on for her, but she got over it and now she absolutely LOVES her dance class, her teachers, the students, and looks forward to every Tuesday!  I catch her doing moves all over the house too, which is thoroughly adorable.  They learn, you learn, it’s a wonderful all-around learning experience.  Plus, it gets them used to taking direction from other adults besides their parents and social interaction with other little ones. IMG_0524

12) Signing up your child for school.  Preschool was a hard word for me to say.  I stay at home with my daughter, so it was probably a little harder to let go, as Juliette is like my little sidekick all day, everyday.  But, whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home one, I think this is a BIG milestone and it is never easy.  Juliette will start two half days of preschool this coming fall and that was a big moment for her, her Daddy and I.  My little girl is growing up, which is a very bittersweet pill to swallow. school  

13) Getting them off the Pacifier.  Juliette was very attached to her beloved “paci” as it really did get her through lots of tough times, but they say around 18 months old its time to give it up.  Well the timeline was near and I first tried poking holes, but Juliette realized what I did right away and just tried making the holes bigger by poking at them, so now she had a new and very cool paci toy to pick at.  Then I tried cutting off the top of it, as apparently most babies realize the sucking sensation is gone and give up, well my daughter is NOT that easy.  She realized what I did took it out of her mouth, gave it a maddening stare and then looked at me with a huge pout and proceeded to throw the paci across the room in effigy (almost hitting my head and the wall).  Hmmm, ok maybe a little too soon??  At that point I realized maybe it was too early for this, so about a month later I tried to take it away cold turkey, which led to various battles, lots of crying to sleep, and some nights where she would get so worked up into a tantrum that she would end up vomiting.  Ok, still too early!  As the months went on I starting putting away the pacifiers hanging around the house and in my bags, therefore keeping them out of sight and out of mind…and ONLY giving them to her at nap/bedtime if needed.  This part worked well, but I still wanted to get her off it for dental reasons and for the fact that I hate seeing preschoolers walking around with a pacifier in their mouth.  It’s a comfort thing but luckily Juliette still had another comfort things, her favorite blanket, a.k.a. “binks” which she could NEVER sleep without.  Then on one magical and splendid summer night right around 22 months old she didn’t ask for it, so I didn’t give it to her and she went happily to bed.  I was thrilled and hoped it would continue.  The next night she asked for it as my husband and I were leaving the room and we just ignored it.  She asked again a few times and I would just say something else to distract her, or sing her a favorite song, or give her a little stuffed animal to sleep with.  There was a little crying in some of the nights following, but nothing too major.  After this we never looked back, and said goodbye to the PACI!!!  I was so ecstatic I might even have proceeded to do a little “BYE-BYE-BYE” dance on my way out of the room, well ok not every night.

pink-pacifier-md

14) Feeling that special bond.  You’ll see once you become a parent that ‘that special bond’ you always hear about doesn’t always happen right away.  Maybe for some it does.  Of course you love them unconditionally right away, that goes without saying.  But as a first time mom, I remember feeling so much worry and emotion at the same time and that can take you over.  You just want to make sure you are doing all the right things for your new baby.  But as the days, weeks, months, years etc. go on you will have those special moments that make everything completely worth it.   You will fall more and more in love with your child as time goes on.  I can still remember the first time Juliette really smiled at me, genuinely laughed at something I did the first time, the first time she ran over to me to just give me a hug, the first time she reached out to hold my hand; the first time she said “I love you.”  There are so many special things that will make you feel that bond as they grow; it’s truly a wonderful and amazing thing.

IMG_0688

15) Potty training success!!!!  This brings me to my very last thing, as it the most recent thing we are trying our best to conquer.  I’m learning there is no real magic spell to get your child to start peeing in the potty.  There are many methods and like most things as a first time parent, you try them all through trial and error.  Different methods work for different children and at all different ages too.  Potty training takes a LOT of patience, routine, perseverance, cleaning products, and happy dances…oh and in my daughter’s case- STICKERS!!  After trying various methods, the one that worked was an intense 15-minute rotation onto the potty and using pull-ups for a few weeks straight and then she finally started to get it.  Something started to click and we would all get super excited and reward her with a sticker immediately after, and now she knew what was up.  We’ve now worked up to about every 30 minutes or so, and sometimes she even tells me when she has to.  We still miss some here and there, still haven’t had any poop in that potty yet, and we have tried underwear a few times which didn’t go so well.  So my hope is that in a few more months is that she will be fully potty-trained…fingers crossed!!!  Again it takes a lot of patience, just like most things in parenting do.

Potty-Training-Boy-Cartoon

Parenthood is a very long and winding road, but it is filled with many memorable milestones, so be sure to appreciate them as the years go by.  Any other Mommy Milestones you can think of for this stage that I might have missed?  Or any extra special ones we might have to look forward to?  Leave it in the comments, for now happy parenting!!!   ~J

garden-path-stone-3

Image

What did I eat for those two very strict months that I followed this diet?  I basically ate to live, not lived to eat!  In the South Beach Diet book there is an exact list of “Foods to Enjoy” and “Foods to Avoid” for each phase and this really helps.  I used to copy that list and put it in my purse to look through as I was grocery shopping.  Plus they have meal plans you can follow if you need the extra help each day.  On top of that, they have an awesome amount of amazing recipes to follow.  The book makes everything extremely simple for you, and it also gives you perspective from other people’s success stories.  There are many south beach books out there now, my Mom has the most updated version and the pocketbook version, I have the original version and the website is also very helpful too.  Not to mention the many other websites and recipes out there that are South Beach friendly.

I am not going to go through everyday of what I ate on my diet because this would be WAY too long.  But, I will give you my favorite things I ate, the food switches I made, tips, my go-to snacks, and meal plan examples for each phase, including the “maintenance phase” (Phase 3), which I currently try to follow.  Overall I learned that dieting is really not eating less, it’s just eating the right things, which eventually lets you eat SOME of the wrong things…in moderation, that is!

The Switches (to help cut the calories, carbs and fat):

-Sugar for sugar substitute

-Regular flour for whole flour or whole-wheat pastry flour

-Butter for Smart Balance

-eggs for egg whites

-regular mayo for some type of light mayo (I like the Olive Oil mayo by Hellman’s)

-honey mustard to Dijon mustard

-regular bread crumbs to whole wheat bread crumbs

-Regular chocolate and hard candy for sugar free chocolates and sugar free hard candy

-Peanut butter for natural peanut butter (I like Skippy Natural)

-Regular maple syrup for sugar free maple syrup

-Second helpings at meals to just adding more vegetables that help fill you up so you don’t need that second helping

-Bread/wraps to make a sandwich for pieces of lettuce

-Regular cooking spray for olive oil cooking spray

-Vegetable and/or Canola Oil to Olive Oil

-Ketchup in recipes to tomato paste in recipes

-Sugary cereals to Fiber One Original with berries

-Instant Maple brown sugar oatmeal to Old Fashioned Rolled Oats with fruit or sugar free jam or sugar free syrup

-Regular pancake mix for whole-wheat flour and oatmeal homemade pancake mix

-Bacon for turkey or Canadian bacon

-White bread to wheat bread

-Potato Chips to baked Sweet Potato chips

-Fries to Sweet Potato fries

-Granola bars to South Beach Diet Snack bars (the whipped Peanut butter ones are my favorite) or a handful of nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds…just a small amount really can fill you up)

Favorite Snacks:

-Fruit, especially berries

-half of an Avocado

-String cheese

-A few slices of a reduced fat cheese

-A handful of nuts

-Sweet potato salt and vinegar chips

-Russell Stover sugar free coconut crème chocolates

-Celery stuffed with peanut butter or laughing cow cheese

-Humus with veggies for dipping

-Hard-boiled egg

-fruit smoothies (made with nonfat Greek or regular yogurt)

-kale chips (if you can’t find them at the store, you can always make your own)

-South Beach Mocha Frappe

-South Beach Chilled Chai Tea Latte

-Sugar free hot chocolate with fat free RediWhip

Image

Here are some meal plan examples:

Phase 1:

Breakfast:

-6 oz. vegetable juice cocktail (I like V8 low sodium)

-Egg white omelet with half a slice of low salt 2% American cheese

-1-2 slices turkey bacon

-decaffeinated tea with few drops of skim milk and a teaspoon of sugar substitute

(coffee is allowed as well, either regular or decaf, I just don’t like coffee)

Midmorning snack:

-mozzarella string cheese (low moisture, part skim)

Lunch:

-1 Turkey rollup (rollups are a large piece of romaine or Boston Bibb lettuce with light mayo, I like the South Beach cilantro mayo, it is delicious, a slice of turkey topped with scallions and either roasted red peppers or fresh red peppers)

-2 Ham rollups (made the same way as the turkey roll-ups except with boiled ham cold cut)

-Sugar free Jell-O with a tablespoon of fat free whipped cream

Midafternoon snack:

-celery stuffed with 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Light cheese

Dinner:

-Tossed salad (mixed greens, cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes) with Balsamic Vinegar dressing (their recipe is easy and yummy, but you can always just use oil and vinegar or buy a fat free low sugar oil and vinegar based dressing)

-Surprise South Beach Mashed “Potatoes” (not really potatoes, instead steamed cauliflower with half and half and smart balance and a few other ingredients blended together)

-spinach stuffed mushrooms

-Marinated London Broil (a south beach marinade with yummy spices)

Dessert:

Peanut Butter non-flour cookies (you can have 1 or 2, my favorite cookie on this diet and one of my husband’s favorite cookies now too, http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2007/10/recipe-for-flourless-sugar-free-peanut.html)

*What did I drink besides that tomato juice and tea in the morning???  WATER!!!  And lots of it, and sometimes I threw in some lemon too.  NO SODA, FRUIT JUICE, OR ALCOHOL ON THIS PHASE!!!*

Phase 2:

Breakfast:

-6 oz. vegetable juice cocktail

-1 poached egg

-1 slice Canadian bacon

-half a whole wheat English muffin

-regular or decaf tea with skim milk and sugar substitute

Midmorning snack: (if needed, once Phase 2 kicks in you will find yourself not always needing to snack as much)

-3-4 slices of an apple with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter

Lunch:

-South Beach Greek Salad

-1/4 cup of blueberries or raspberries

Midafternoon snack: (I found that I did still need the midafternoon snack, but some people say they don’t always need it)

-4 oz. nonfat sugar free Greek yogurt with a few tablespoons of chopped nuts and a dash of sugar substitute

Dinner:

Easy Chicken in Wine Sauce

Italian Style Spaghetti Squash

Steamed Broccoli

Dessert:

-Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Phase 3

Breakfast:

-Wheat flour & Oatmeal blueberry pancakes with Sugar free Syrup and more fresh blueberries on top

-6 oz.  vegetable juice cocktail

Midmorning snack: (if needed)

-fruit smoothie (fresh fruit, fat free milk, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and tablespoon of splenda and/or a splash of orange juice)

Lunch:

-South Beach Gazpacho with a few slices of low fat cheese on the side

-veggies with hummus

Midafternoon snack:

-Sweet Potato Pop-up chips

Dinner:

-Lemon Pepper salmon with dill yogurt dipping sauce

-Spiced Quinoa

-Garden Salad

Dessert:

-1/2 cup of half churned ice cream

Here’s a list of some great websites I used:

-Southbeachdiet.com

-Kaylynskitchen.com

-Theleangreenbean.com

-Skinnytatste.com

-Noshandnourish.com

And there it is!!  Now do I follow this Phase 3 maintenance stage super strictly?  Well, I do follow it, but I make my own alterations to it.  I am pretty strict during the weekdays and splurge a little on the weekends. But what’s wonderful and I now know what I should and shouldn’t be eating, I have much better knowledge about the healthy foods versus the not so healthy foods.  So the things I shouldn’t be eating I eat in moderation, or if I have a day where I didn’t moderate as well, I will go back to mostly Phase 1 for the next day.

I also used to weigh myself daily, now I weigh myself once or twice a week to make sure that I am staying on track and I and happy to write that I have maintained my 30 pound weight loss.  Exercising is a big part of this too, on a good week I exercise 5-6 days and then on a week where I have a lot going on or am just too tired or busy to do it, I make sure that I exercise at least 4 times a week.  Exercising and eating better have just become a part of my life now, a part of my daily routine so much so that I feel badly when I eat too many unhealthy foods or don’t have the time to fit in exercise.  Now that I have lost the weight though, I have some wiggle room, so I try not to be too hard on myself because we all have to a live a little sometimes.

Image

To sum it up, my first diet (and exercising 5 TO 6 DAYS PER WEEK) got me drop to 32 pounds and to live much a healthier lifestyle!  I now feel like a better person and Mom too both mentally and physically for giving my body, mind, and spirit an overhaul.

Image

Your body changes as you get older and it especially does after you have a child.  It will never look exactly the same as it once did, but embrace yourself and try do not be too hard on yourself, because all that you have gone through has made you the person you are today.  You can do this diet too, once you are ready to, and if you do, like me you will get some of the confidence back you were missing before.  I have a nice little extra swing in my step, which helps me to keep up even better with the little apple of my eye.  Where do toddlers get their energy from anyway?  Most likely their youth, all that sleep they get, or even food perhaps??  Man, it is a viscous cycle!!

~J

Image

Part 2- And so it begins…

Image

You might ask why did I choose the South Beach Diet?  Well for one thing, it was easy for me as I already had the book at my disposal.  The second thing was that my sister did it and had such success with it; therefore I knew she could be my touchstone for any diet related meltdowns, queries or questions.  And while I know there are various diet options out there and you don’t necessarily need a DIET to lose weight…I decided that I did, IN FACT, need it.

As I mentioned in Part 1, I always made sure my daughter ate so healthy, why wasn’t I doing this for myself?  I know many people have great success with Weight Watchers, but the problem I saw with Weight Watchers was that I didn’t want to join a “program” (not that you have to join the program part of it) and I didn’t want to have to count anything (I don’t like math).  So, January 2, 2013 my diet began!!!

Image

I was very prepared for it, almost looking forward to it in fact, and I have to say it was also NOT quite as hard as I expected.  I had read the book so many times and I had semi-started following it in December, so believe it or not I was actually excited to start the diet!!  Even with all of the holiday junk I ate in December I had felt results working already, and that kept me very motivated.  I became even more motivated when I actually saw results on the scale. I went out and bought myself a scale for the first time in my life and weighed myself religiously every morning.  Most women hate to weigh themselves and once I started to gain weight I became one of them.  However, on this diet I was seeing such wonderful results that as soon as I woke up in the morning to the lovely sounds of my daughter humming and babbling in the next room, I gave my husband a good morning kiss and hopped out of bed to go weigh myself.  January 2 was my D-Day, my “Diet Day” where it all officially started!  I hopped onto that scale that morning and saw that just semi following this diet in December I had already lost 6 pounds!!!  Even with all of the holiday food, I couldn’t believe it…needless to say I was extremely motivated as I saw that weight go down!!!

Image

What’s this diet all about?? I will give you a quick run-through…The South Beach Diet is a diet plan designed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston and dietician, Marie Almon.  The original purpose of the diet was to prevent heart disease in Dr. Agatston’s real patients.  But then in the early 2000s, word of the diet spread so quickly and gained such popularity, that he wrote a book on it.  I believe the South Beach Diet philosophy is relatively simple to follow in principle as it replaces “bad carbs” and “bad fats” with “good carbs” and “good fats.” What does this mean?  I will explain…

The diet is divided into three phases, with each progressively becoming more liberal, or easier if you ask me.  Phase 1 is the first two weeks of the diet (unless you decide to stay on it longer) and in my opinion is the hardest phase of the diet.  This phase eliminates all sugars (which I as very afraid of), processed carbohydrates, fruits, and some even higher-glycemic vegetables as well. And how can I forget…during Phase 1….NO ALCOHOL!!  But hey, I gave up alcohol for nearly 10 months while pregnant, so how hard could two weeks be?  Well, it was HARD, for some reason, maybe that precious little fetus growing inside of you makes it easier to give up alcohol while pregnant, go figure!  The main purpose of this phase is to get rid of the hunger cycle you are in.  And it really does, although I will say the first 4 days of this phase are pretty tough, and you feel your stomach churn missing your old food, but after a few days, you get used to it, and your stomach stops making weird noises that sound like “feed me.”

Image

I found it so liberating to see such wonderful results in such a short period of time.  I lost the bulk of my weight during this phase, and you know what’s really awesome?  You see the weight melt off on your STOMACH first, and the continuing motivation was seeing the scale number go down every morning!  During Phase 1 I lost about a pound a day, sometimes more, making my total weight loss during phase 1, 15 pounds.  My goal was to lose 30 pounds total, and since I had already taken off 6 POUNDS in December and had lost 15 on Phase 1, my total weight loss already was 21 pounds, so I only had 9 pounds left!!!  I was thrilled, but did not want to get ahead of myself.

What was the most difficult part????  Switching to a sugar substitute was very difficult, even for someone like me who does NOT have a big sweet tooth, it was just hard to get used to that “fake sugar” taste.  I tried Splenda, Stevia in the Raw, and Truvia.  Truvia I thought had the best taste and it was actually considered to be a “natural” sugar substitute, so that is what I stuck with.  (Now it is months later and I actually prefer Splenda, but mostly now all of them taste the same because I am used to them) Taking bread out of my diet I wasn’t as worried about, because while I do love bread, I thought it was only two weeks right?  Well maybe not, slices of bread themselves, and rolls and such were easy to give up…the difficulty was that I began to realize just how much bread is in so many things!!!  Or I guess I should say how much flour is in so many things! Regular white flour is just empty calories, it is delicious but it is truly that.  Now I read the ingredients and nutritional facts on all foods before I buy them.

Image

A fun part was I began to make new recipes everyday, which I found to be exhilarating too.  Not only was I feeling better physically, but also feeling better mentally.  I had three meals a day, and two snacks (if I needed it) and a dessert after dinner, all south beach approved of course.  My whole self felt better and even my back pains were diminishing, leaving my visits to the chiropractor almost non-existent.

Moving onto Phase 2, there is no real timeline here for Phase 2, it basically continues as long as the dieter wishes to lose weight. It re-introduces most fruits and vegetables and some whole grains as well.  I welcomed the things I could reintroduce to my diet, plus you can have wine again!!!  YAYA!!!  However, while I was on Phase 2 for four weeks, I hit a plateau.  It was so awesome to see the weight drop so quickly during phase 1 that I got a little discouraged during Phase 2 as the weight was coming off much slower…I know, I know it takes some people years to lose the weight they want to lose, but it was tough to hit the point where your weight stayed the same or you barely lost when you are on a diet, as losing the weight was what motivated me the most.  As a result, after four weeks of Phase 2, I decided for one full week I would go back to Phase 1 to try to lose those last remaining few pounds quicker.  And this actually worked!

In two months (8 weeks exactly) of strictly following the south beach diet I lost 26 pounds, and adding those 6 pounds I lost in December (just loosely following it) brought my total weight loss to 32 pounds!!!  I was so proud of myself!!  I was able to fit into ALL and I do mean ALL of my old clothes again.  This was very exciting, but as many of those old clothes were out of date and some were actually even too big, I had a new problem, a nice problem to have, but still hard nonetheless (unless you rich), I needed more new clothes that fit properly.  Now, here comes the other hard part…the maintenance!

The maintenance is where I am now and well that’s what they designed Phase 3 of the diet for.  That’s why this diet is so brilliant!  Phase 3 is the maintenance phase and its supposed to last for life. There is no specific list of permitted and prohibited foods. We are expected to take what we have learned and apply it to our life without any guidance.

How am I maintaining my 32 pound weight loss?  Part 1 told you how I arrived at the decision to go on a diet, Part 2 explained to you all about the diet and how much I lost and now stay with me for the final part… Part 3, where you can learn all about what exactly it was that I ate on this diet to get me to my goal weight!!! Read Part 3 here: https://juliettesworldblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/part-3-the-final-frontierwhat-exactly-did-mommy-eat-on-this-diet/

Image

I always considered myself a “healthy” eater.  I am not picky and truly enjoy most foods, but months back I started to think… I am really that healthy of an eater as I think?…and moreover, do we all really EAT to LIVE or do we LIVE to EAT?  This could be a very hot topic to digest (literally and figuratively).  I am sure we’d all love to say that we ‘eat to live’ that we basically eat to get through our day, it is our fuel and we need it to survive, so we all only eat when we are hungry, right???  WRONG!

Food can be in a word…comfort!  No matter how you cut, slice or dice it, eating yummy food makes you feel good, sometimes too good that we ignore that inner voice that says “STOP” OR “I’M FULL” or “THIS WILL GO RIGHT TO YOUR SPARE TIRE.”  We’ve all been there, eating that extra cookie, having that second helping, snacking on something while we watch our favorite show or movie, surrendering to that late night craving, or even heating up something quick or ordering food for dinner because its easy, but not really ‘the best for you.’

Image

A little after my daughter Juliette turned one, I started to think a whole lot more about food, and how I always make sure my daughter has the proper food, nutrients and vitamins, so why am I not doing that for myself?  Why not???  This led to the “Top Ten Reasons Why We Need to be More Like a Baby” entry I wrote right before Christmas (https://juliettesworldblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/top-ten-reasons-why-we-need-to-be-more-like-a-baby/).  That entry was not completely dedicated to food, however it really made me rethink why I eat the way I eat, or really it made me start to think about that dreaded word… “DIET!”

I am NOT a fan of the word DIET.  Now I know some people call it a “lifestyle change,” but I am not really a fan of that phrase either, it’s such a cliché to me.  I prefer the phrases “healthy living” or “eating healthy.”  Whatever you want to call it, you have to be truly ready and committed to go on a diet, and I never really realized that before.  You have to remember that this comes from a girl whom when she was younger couldn’t gain an ounce if I tried!!!  I know, I know, I hate me too when I look back and think about it, because oh how I wish that still were the case!

I understand that every body type is different and growing up I was often made fun of because I was very tall and very thin, almost too thin…in other words, the good ol’ days, haha!  Luckily, after puberty kicked in I got a bit more of a shape to me than just skin and bones, but still could pretty much eat whatever I wanted and not gain an ounce. I should have cherished that time in my life much more when it was around!  I could eat a whole bag of salt and vinegar chips and not feel bad about myself or grossly bloated afterwards.  Granted, I was also very active and very athletic in those days, always participating in a sport.  Even in college when I was forced to give up track due to an injury, I didn’t even gain the dreaded “freshman 15.”  However, you metabolism does change into your 20’s and even more so as you get older.

What kicked started this weight gain?  Well, it wasn’t baby weight.  In the summer of 2009, I had two foot surgeries only two months apart, one on each foot and something bad happened to me…I GAINED WEIGHT!!!  I had to be off my feet for a while after each surgery, so my metabolism slowed way down, plus with no real movement going on for many weeks at a time you can’t really burn anything off…at all!!  To top it off I went on a cruise after one of the surgeries and definitely splurged on the lavish menu options.  So, by the end of 2009, even though I had recovered from my foot surgeries I did start to notice my pants were all a little bit tighter.  At this point though, my husband and I happily decided to work on expanding our family, so I thought, “hey its ok if my waistline expands a little too, I should be pregnant soon,” right?  WRONG!!!  At about the 6-month point after trying to have a baby and having not succeeded yet, I started to get down on myself about my increased weight and my lack to reproduce as of yet.

By the end of the summer in 2010 I decided it was time for a change, I started to exercise much more and eat much better, healthier foods.  Then, just as I was starting to lose weight and not worry about my ovulation cycle, a wonderful thing happened that made me forget all about the scale…I GOT PREGNANT!  At this point, I WAS OVERJOYED!!! (you can read all about my 11 month process of getting pregnant here https://juliettesworldblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/11-months-later-and-we-are-pregnant-or-are-we-get-the-digital-testand-get-a-new-obgyn)

Image

I gained a total of 35 pounds while pregnant and actually taking off the baby weight afterward wasn’t the hard part.  Thanks to breastfeeding and the life of a busy first time mom I lost all of the baby weight very easily after only three weeks.  I wasn’t so concerned about the rest of the weight that I hadn’t taken off yet from before I had gotten pregnant, as I now had bigger things to worry about…like a new baby!  Plus, a lot happened only a few months after Juliette was born.  My husband got a new job in NJ and we quickly had to move from one state (CT) to another and started looking for a new house.  I also became a stay-at-home mother, and your life changes in many ways when that happens.  Anyway I am straying from the point.

Image

I started to realize last summer that I needed to lose some weight when some of my clothes got so tight that they didn’t even fit anymore.  I actually had to go to the stores and buy bigger clothes and this was the first time in my life that I DID NOT ENJOY SHOPPING!  When this happened I realized that I needed to start working out much more.  In addition to that, anyone who knows me well enough knows how much I love to take pictures, and once my daughter was born, this got even worse as most pictures were of her.  When I did see myself in some of the photos, I began to not like how I looked as much.  Of course I felt much bigger than I was, and because I am very tall, I carry my weight well and many people didn’t notice…but I DID NOTICE!  And that is the most important thing, that I wasn’t losing for anyone else, I needed to lose the weight for MYSELF!  I started to notice that no matter how much I exercised something had to be done.  To top it off, I recently learned that I had a mild case of scoliosis in my lower back, and the extra weight did not help with that problem.  I did not feel that great about how I looked or felt.   My wonderful husband always reassured that I was beautiful not matter what weight I was, and while that was lovely of him, I didn’t feel that way.  Not that a number on the scale defined me, but not feeling good about the way I was did define me.  As a woman I always wanted to exude confidence and be a great role model for my daughter.

Image

My breaking point came when my younger sister came to visit on Thanksgiving 2012 and I saw how wonderful she looked, she had taken off a quite a bit of weight and I was so proud of her.  She went on the South Beach Diet, which I knew a little bit about from her.  She had been on that diet before and when she lived with me for a short period of time a few years back, we had made some recipes from the book, and I had read a little bit of the book, so I had some knowledge about it.  I thought to myself, if Tara could do it, so can I! (thanks again Tar)  Luckily, she had left the South Beach Diet book with me and one day after I had really had enough, I ended up reading it probably 3 or 4 times in a row and came to a decision…it was time, I finally admitted it to myself that MOMMY NEEDS TO GO ON A DIET!!!

Of course coming to this conclusion with Christmas just a few weeks away I thought it might be too difficult.  I didn’t want to miss out on Christmas cookies, or be that annoying person at the holiday get parties who couldn’t eat certain things because they were “on a diet.”  So I decided to only loosely follow the diet and still splurge for holiday things…then after the New Year, (January 2 to be exact) I would totally and completely surrender and start myself strictly onto the South Beach Diet.

If you want to know more about my journey of dieting Part 2 of this “dieting” entry will be up very shortly.  I will tell you, that this diet is one of the best things I have ever done for myself!  What I realized so much more than anything else is that being on a diet is way more mental than anything else!  You have to truly be willing to surrender yourself and follow a strict regimen and NOT to stray from it.  Exercise was a part of this too, but I had already conquered that many months ago, which is why I began the diet, it was the missing link because I wasn’t seeing all the results I wanted from just exercising.  So…if you are at all curious about how much weight I lost, how I did it, stuck to it and any pratfalls in between, I’ll meet you at Part 2!!

“It’s not how much you eat, it’s what you eat.”

To read Part 2 click here: https://juliettesworldblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/mommy-on-a-diet-part-2-of-3/

Image

merry xmas

I know it’s been a while since my last entry.  I blame it on the life of a busy mom, Hurricane Sandy madness, power outages, Juliette getting over a stomach virus and a cold, hosting our first Thanksgiving, starting the Christmas rush, etc…I am sure all you Moms out there can relate, sometimes life just gets in the way.

I was planning on making my next blog all about “The UGLY TRUTH behind Motherhood,” which I did much research on and even had the help of some questions answered from many of you moms out there.  However, in the spirit of the holidays approaching, I’ve come up with a funny little list, which I truly believe to be the truth, and have wanted to write about for some time now, as I think about it OFTEN.  Basically it breaks down to the fact that the life of a baby is just awesome for them, and we should try to live our lives the same way!  Never fear though…The UGLY TRUTH will be coming shortly after the New Year.

funny ecard

Until then, I have been thinking lately about how the more and more as we get older, being an adult sometimes, well sucks.  There is so much responsibility to being an adult; at times it can be intoxicating.  Isn’t there an age old saying of something like how we all wish we could see the world “through the eyes of a child…” quite ironic isn’t it?  Because all we want when we are younger is to be older, right?

 Well, here is my Top 10 list of why we should all should aspire to be more like our little ones:

 1) THEY GET 10-12 HOURS OF SLEEP EVERY NIGHT! If you are lucky enough to have a baby sleep through the night, (Juliette has done so since about 2 months old thankfully), with the few exceptions of an illness or new teeth waking her up.  In addition to sleeping soundly, they don’t have to get up to relieve themselves in the middle of the night, thanks to their diaper.  They can roll around wherever they want and not fall off the bed.  They have a nice lullaby to fall asleep to, and a pretty twilight turtle that lights up the room.  If they don’t happen to sleep through the night, they get rocked to sleep, sung to sleep, put in a vibrating chair, put into a swing, or practically anything their parents can possibly find until they are finally sleeping!  What’s an easy solution for us adults?  Go to bed earlier!!  Juliette barely makes it to 8:00 p.m. most nights.  As adults, we don’t get nearly enough of sleep as we should per night due to many things, some out of our control, some in our control…but whether it be our jobs, stress, television, trying to get our little one to actually sleep, etc.  Oh how I wish I could get 10-12 hours of sleep like they do!

2) THEY EAT A VERY WELL-BALANCED DIET– From mother’s milk to the most expensive milk that money can buy, formula.  Any parent who has gotten even one of the so-called ‘cheaper’ formulas know how expensive it is.  From there they move onto cereal and lots of pureed fruits and veggies.  My now 16 month-old daughter still has three cups of whole milk a day and quite a bit of water too, (she hasn’t had any fruit juice yet, as it has really no nutritional value in it).  I always make sure she has 3-4 servings of fruit/veggies each day and I don’t let her have too much sugar in her diet.  She always has fruit with her breakfast and no matter what we are having for dinner I always make sure Juliette has a vegetable with it, which intern had led my whole little family to always have a vegetable with every dinner now too…no skimping on that one anymore.  Anyone heard of the baby diet??  I think I might try it!

funny dinner ecard

3) THEY APPRECIATE THINGS WE NEVER WOULD– We’ve all seen our little tots play with the box rather than the toy.  My daughter is very happy just to “be” and always wakes up in a great mood.  She gets such pleasure from things like our dog barking, waving at others, bananas, applauding at herself when she learns anything new, a song she likes, saying a new word, reading a book, and how can we forget ELMO? As adults, we get too caught up in the nonsense around us to appreciate things like this, but WE ALL should do more of that.

4) THEY NAP!  Does this one really need an explanation?  I miss my siesta days from camp, my almost daily naps as a college student, ahhhh naps are just wonderful…if you ever have time in your adult life to fit one in, do it!!!  You will be very thankful you did, and you will also feel amazing afterward too!  Babies have the right idea, at first they nap constantly, then move onto 3-4 times a day, then onto twice a day, and now Juliette just recently got to one nap a day.  Even though this one long nap is now smack dab in the middle of the day, she needs it and I must admit, I need it too.  This one nap is usually (on average) about 2 hours (sometimes more, sometimes less) and I get soooo much done during those two hours it’s a wonderful thing!  Do I nap during those two hours???  Heck no!  I used to nap when she napped back when she was just a few weeks old but now, no way!  I clean, cook, do laundry, catch up on correspondence…but if I am completely exhausted or just need to kick back I might lie down and read or watch some TV, or on a an extremely rare occasion I might even fall asleep for a small amount of time.  I miss napping!

Juliette sleeping photo

5) THEY DRINK LOTS OF MILK– I sort of covered this one in #2, but we all see the “Got Milk” ads just about everywhere.  Plus, there is the wonderful benefits that the vitamins and nutrients in milk give you, like calcium especially.  Additionally, until the age of 2, babies drink whole milk…and from someone who drinks skim milk on a regular basis let me tell you they have the RIGHT idea…have you tasted whole milk lately?  It tastes like cream…yum yummm!!

baby with milk

6) THEY DON’T HAVE TO CLEAN UP AFTER THEMSELVES IN ANY WHICH WAY– From the time they are born until they are way into those grade schools years, let’s face it- these kids have it good!  They don’t wipe themselves, don’t feed themselves (for a while anyway), don’t bathe themselves, or dress themselves (that comes after a little while too).  NOT A PARENT YET?  You will soon learn a huge part of your everyday it just keeping them and your house looking presentable.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve almost tripped over a toy or book on the floor.  Once (if you are ever) done cleaning them up, be sure to keep yourself presentable, I know it’s hard especially at the very beginning to even fit in a shower, but you will learn the best times to do so.

NOTE: My husband gave me the idea for this one…how did I not think of it first on my own?  Leave it to the stay-at-home Mommy who does just about everything for her daughter to get BABY BRAIN (to learn more about this BABY BRAIN craziness see https://juliettesworldblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/losing-my-mind-my-balance-and-even-my-shoes-have-i-become-a-mom-or-a-just-klutz/) while trying to come up with a list about her!  Thank you Steve 🙂

7) THEY CAN BURP AND FART IN PUBLIC AND NO ONE CARES!  No ones cares IS RIGHT, its actually cute instead!  How many time have you been out and let one loose and didn’t know what to do?  You could never fart or (god forbid) much less poop your pants and not feel embarrassed.  Burping?  That’s a whole other story; it’s not crazy embarrassing in public as you can always excuse yourself, unless it was too big that is.  But when you are a baby and you burp, Mommy and Daddy are very, very pleased.  Juliette was a very tough burper until about 10 months old, so when she did get those burps out, we had our little mini-celebrations….unfortunately it was usually followed by some lovely looking (and smelling) spit-up, but in her defense, she did have a bad case of acid reflux.

8) THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT THEIR WEIGHT!   They don’t care if they’ve gained weight at all, in fact it is so important that they do during those first few weeks of life, you feel like a failure as a parent if they don’t! The fatter they are, the better and cuter they are.  Juliette was an average sized baby at first, 7 pounds 9 ounces, very long and skinny though.  I always thought I was going to have a hugely chubby baby at first, but little did I know she would get there after a few months.  Now that she is stretching out a bit and losing her cute little chunky baby thighs, I have to admit I am going to miss them!  She is still in the 90th percentile for weight, and does that bother her or me?  Not one bit at all!!  I realize she might fall behind the 90th percentile, but whatever weight she is, I hope she doesn’t worry about it for a very, very, very long time!  I wish we could all take a cue there.  Back when I was an adolescent, I couldn’t gain an ounce if I tried, I was very tall and very thin, (and wish I appreciated that more), but that changed when I hit my late twenties, had two foot surgeries and then got pregnant too.  Having to watch what I eat, and exercise for more than just ‘fun’ wasn’t a great feeling, but hey just another sucky part of being an adult I guess.

9) THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH WALKING AROUND IN THEIR UNDERWEAR!  Onesie anyone?  The cutest thing!  Just a diaper?  Why not?  Even naked is just adorable too!  Some people may love walking around in their skivvies in the privacy of their own home, or perhaps wearing an itty-bitty bathing suit on the beach.  However, I think we can all admit that no matter what size, weight, etc. a baby in with just the tiniest amount of clothing is truly precious.

10) THEY HAVE NO PREJUDICE– Ignorance is truly bliss sometimes, and that is definitely the case with our little ones.  They have no prejudice and are (for a little while anyway) oblivious to the world around them and all the hate there really is too much of out there.  I think we would all be a little better off sometimes if we were the same way, unfortunately, life happens.  Tragedies, sadness, death, and many other experiences could and most likely will affect them, but its important for us, as parents to do the best we can to help them through those difficult times and let them know they are truly loved.  We need to reassure them that no matter what, no natter the color of their skin, or any religious or political view or something they have been through, I believe LOVE does and will truly conquer all.

children

So, there it is my list of why being a baby is freakin’ awesome!  (I’m sure if I were a guy writing this I would also include something about breastfeeding, but I am sure we can all use our imagination there…)

Yes, I do realize that most of these things, as they are only babies/toddlers, they don’t care about because they are too young to even fathom any of this, but hey it’s the holidays and thought we could all use a little extra holiday cheer!  Especially in light of the fact that of the absolutely terrible school shooting happened last week in my home state, Connecticut.  I always knew Newtown to be a very safe, quaint, and nice place to live, and my hearts truly go out to those who lost anyone in that shooting.  This is an awful thing for anyone to go through, and not only does it hit home with me because I was a teacher, but also because innocent children and staff were a part of this shooting.  Losing a loved one is always a horrific ordeal, but when that loved one has barely lived yet, and is the apple of your eye (like I know my daughter is), I can’t even imagine going through something like that.  Additionally, I am extremely proud of my fellow educators who stood in front of these children and risked/lost their lives.  I am proud to say I was a teacher too, and will be again one day.

Now, go have some even happier holidays and enjoy that extra glass wine, or spiked egg-nog or pour a little extra peppermint schnapps into your hot chocolate, because if you are a parent, you deserve it!  Hey, even if you aren’t a parent, we all work our butts off on pretty much a daily basis, so enjoy!

silly ecard

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!     ~J

Someone's been good this year :)

Someone’s been good this year 🙂
Juliette’s 2nd Christmas

when I was only a mere 15 weeks along

Just a few days ago Juliette became 13 months old, and I find myself still in disbelief that my little baby could be actually over 1 year now.  Should we still be counting the months at this point?  It seems like most people do when it comes to pregnancy and babies.  Actually with pregnancy you count weeks, and unless you’ve been pregnant before, when most people ask, “how far along are you?” you tell them by the weeks, not months.  However, I soon found out that you had to convert those weeks into the amount of months for the everyday person.

Looking back on the long road it took to get pregnant, and then how it finally happened, it seemed like such a dream to me.  I was full of a fantastic bliss during those first few weeks that I found out I was pregnant.  I was living on cloud nine for quite some time, just beaming with smiles.  I was teaching at the time, and I found that the pregnancy even gave me a newfound patience with my trying and troublesome homeroom class at the time.  I was about 6 weeks along when I found out, and I only told close friends and family members, before we decided to announce it to the world at that safe 12-week mark.  It was December and all the lovely Christmas songs, décor, and shopping was in the air.  Just in time for the holidays, I did, however, start to get some of those dreaded first trimester symptoms that pregnancy brings on.

First off, I had to switch from my comforting and awakening morning tea in my handy little to-go cup (for my hour long drive to work) to a can of coke…the only thing that seemed to help my unsettled stomach.  Parts of my body, (and ladies you know which parts these are), were already bigger and swollen, which lead to no more button fly pants and more elastic ones until all maternity clothing started.  Then there was the appetite and change in food.  Since I was young I can remember, whether pregnant or not, most people relied on those every handy saltine crackers to be the cure for that nauseas stomach, especially that one you get during your first trimester (and not just in the morning, though that did seem to be the worst time of day for it).  Of course, in my case, (because it never seems  to be that easy for me), saltines were not the cure, they actually made me feel more nauseated.

I tried to eat whatever I could hold down for breakfast, usually some type of dry cereal and then I would head to work not feeling too hot, and still hiding my growing tummy from everyone at work (except my closest teacher friend my principal).  Let me tell you…it was not easy hiding it from my other fellow coworkers or my 140 students or so, who began to ask why I always had coke now in the morning, and why started to chew gum from time to time.  I had heard somewhere that gum could help with that sour stomach and for me, it did.  Cinnamon flavored Trident was now my new best friend.  But, when you teach at a catholic middle school (that doesn’t allow gum for its students) and one of the teachers suddenly starts to chew it, the students will notice, as they usually notice everything!  My explanations?  Well as for the coke, it gave me that extra caffeine I needed to get me through my early mornings.  Explaining the gum was pretty funny, I told the students that it was a special prescription from my doctor for a dental gum condition I had, which also explained my late arrivals and/or early leaving some days for those many OBGYN appointments and blood work you need during that first trimester.  They actually bought this idea, and even asked me how my mouth was and if I was going to need surgery, ha-ha…silly kids.

I was still having lots of trouble subsiding my churning stomach though, as I wasn’t a puker at all, but wished I were for once, just to have some relief…I just always felt like I was going to puke.  Then on an absurd day, right around Christmastime, on one of our last days before our vacation we had our annual Christmas party with our sister elementary school.  On this day, we had snack time with the student visitors.  For this, we always passed out juice and animal crackers, which I hadn’t had much of since I was a kid myself, but now all of the sudden they looked better to me than any other food I could possibly think of!  So, as we began passing out the snack, I grabbed myself a few of these sweet crackers, and even had some apple juice to boot….and wow!!!  Who knew that a second graders snack would be my new cure for my rumbly tummy.  I felt like a new person!  That same weekend, my husband dashed off to BJ’s and bought me any economy-sized tub of animal crackers.  I kept a stash of those crackers on my nightstand, in my purse, in the car, in my desk at work…it got so bad that I began to pop those lovely little crackers as much as my favorite TV doctor, Gregory House, popped his vicodin pills.

What’s even stranger, is that throughout my pregnancy I seemed to revert to the many simple foods I loved as a child.  Grilled cheeses, anything with eggs (egg salad, eggs over easy…which I used to call “dippy eggs,”) an English muffin with peanut butter, mac’ and cheese, French fries, white grape juice, Jell-O, and many others…it was quite funny.  I craved many carbs, veggies, and fruit in the beginning too…so dinner was quite challenging as I could not eat any meat or fish throughout my first four months of pregnancy.  I also loved all things bitter…especially those with vinegar.  Bigger meals were very hard, as just a salad of fruit or greens, or some pasta didn’t seem to fill me up very much.  One night I even fell apart crying on the kitchen floor as I was so hungry, and couldn’t figure out what to eat, (besides an animal cracker or bread), that didn’t make me sick.  I think my husband was getting tired of it too, because even though he would try to make his own dinner, but it was so bad that I couldn’t take the smell of any meat either, so I would either brave the cold outside to get away from the smell, but he wouldn’t have that as I was carrying his unborn child, so he stopped cooking the meat as well.  Speaking or smells…oh good God the smells when I pregnant!  I will have to save that for another entry, because it was very, very bad…so bad, I think I am still going through it.

Soon though, that 12-week mark came and I was able to announce it to my students and the whole school at the Monday morning assembly that I was preggers!  It was very cute, they all clapped and cheered for me.  As that week went on, many of 8th graders were like “I knew it,” and some of the girls tried to call me “Mama,” which I politely told them “please do not do that, I am not your Mama,” (seriously? NO!).  A few teachers even said they had a hunch I was ‘with child,” as I came in many mornings looking quite green.

Then soon, after many food mishaps, my nausea eventually started wearing away by the 4th month, and I was able to slowly start eating more food again, like meat, especially hot dogs, I seemed to love hot dogs…so hot dog day every Wednesday at school was something to look forward to!  Throughout my whole pregnancy though, I could not eat any beef or eggplant…and so I began to wonder, would I ever be able to eat those things again?  All things considered though, I didn’t have it too bad with the food part of it, I have heard about woman who had it much worse…and the nausea did subside.  After all, I did only actually vomit once, but always had the feeling like I was going to in that first trimester.

Luckily, after I gave birth I was able to eat beef again, and any and everything I used to eat after a few weeks  I could even drink alcohol again (after all those breastfeeding mishaps and having to give that up, I needed a good stiff drink).  I really thought too, that I would miss alcohol much during my pregnancy.  I remember toward the end, I would occasionally miss a glass of wine, or a nice cold margarita in the summer.  And oh gosh, how I could’ve used a nice strong mixed drink toward the end of the last trimester due to all those horrible aches and pains at the end…but more on that at another time too.

Now, I can proudly say that Juliette is officially over a year, or 13 months to be exact…and we are both very healthy eaters.  She even started to spoon-feed herself yesterday, which is still very much a learning process, and very messy one at that.  Plus, while Juliette has that cute little baby potbelly and oh-so squeezable thighs, while I am still trying getting rid of the last little bits that are left of mine.  She is a very good eater, not at all picky and loves cheese (just like her Mama) and bananas too.  The challenges of eating don’t change though, as once you are post-preggers, you will have to restrict yourself to not overindulge.  You will once again feel bad about those McDonald Frappe runs and Baby Ruth bars that felt like a wonderful sweet indulgence and were “OK” while pregnant, but not so much post pregnancy.  At least now though you can have that nice glass of wine or a margarita again (or whatever drink you so desire).  And trust me, you will need that drink once those minutes of the day have worn you down and your baby is soundly asleep (if, hopefully, they do sleep well)…at that point you can put your feet up and have that nice relaxing drink, if you can still stay up by the end of the day.

In conclusion, whether you count months, years, days, minutes, etc…just know that while its hard to figure out what you can eat while that little one is growing inside you, it all goes back to normal.  Your baby and you will be able to eat as much or as little as you need…even when you are still craving something unusual like a peanut butter cheesecake (thanks Lisa) on your daughter’s  Lucky 13th month birthday.

and so the spoon-feeding begins

Any funny cravings (pregnant or not) or weird pregnancy food choices you had?  What about your baby?  Please share on the comments below if you’d like…

very proud of herself =)
(so is her Mommy)

Got milk???

Ahhh the joy of spending $30 a pop on a tub of formula…did we really have a choice in the matter though?  Actually we didn’t after a rough first 8 weeks with Juliette.  It’s a great debate…formula vs. breastmilk, and I have to admit I believed that breast was best.  My daughter did get breastfed at least for a little while, not as long as I had hoped, but there was reason for that.

Let’s back up a bit here, I believe in a woman’s right to choose in many ways.  Now, I am not going to go out on a limb (like Mr. Bloomberg did) and decide to take away formula from any place, but I will say that choices are there and they are made for a REASON, not just for convenience.  Unto the whole nursing issue, I was so very excited preparing for all of the things motherhood brought upon me, and one of the most important things was my ability to breastfeed (and my bigger cup size too might I add).

When I first started to breastfeed Juliette it was not easy as I had hoped, but I told myself that it was going to be ‘ok,’ I wasn’t expecting it to be.  A nipple-shield helped a lot at first, especially with that precious “liquid-gold” colostrum that comes in those first few days.  Then, as the milk came in, the shields were used less as Juliette latched on much better.  Unfortunately though, this is not where the story ends.  I so wish I was like one of those women who easily popped their baby on their boob and delightfully fed them on each side.  I envied those women!!  This was not the case for me…the first problem was, Juliette never seemed full, and was also quite colic after almost a week at home with us, especially at feeding time.  After one very worried trip to the ER, many pediatrician appointments, a meeting with a lactation consultant, and joining La Leche League, I began to also pump my milk.  They all agreed that, most likely, our somewhat discontented newborn wasn’t getting enough milk or and when she was, she wasn’t getting it fast enough.  Every new mom will learn that all babies lose weight once they come home from the hospital, but she wasn’t gaining any and loosing too much.

I admit that it was frustrating, (not to mention those very, very sore and leaky nipples to boot), and I was quite worried and felt somewhat inadequate.  But, I would not be defeated!!!  So, after her feedings, I would pump, then hydrate, try my best to replenish my insatiable hunger, and by the time this process was done I was left with maybe 15 minutes or perhaps 25 minutes, (if I was lucky), before her next feeding.  So, there I was exhausted, feeding her directly from the breasts, then offered her some from the bottle with pumped milk (if she was still hungry), then burped her (she was a very tough burper), followed by pumping, eating/drinking for myself, and then having barely any time left to do anything for myself, like brush my hair or go to the bathroom.  Still, I was not giving up, I was determined to do this.  By her next doctor’s appointment she seemed to be getting enough now, however she had begun to spit up a lot more and was having an even harder time burping.  On top of that, she still hadn’t gained much, but (AH-HA!) something was working because she hadn’t  lost any weight!  Unfortunately though, due to the gassy, non-burping and constantly spitting up baby Juliette had become after just a few weeks, they suggested changing my diet.  So, I gave up dairy first, which wasn’t too bad.  My husband stocked us up with many new types of food for my diet, after a week though, still no change, so then they suggested to try to soy free diet.  Well, I really feel very badly for anyone who can’t eat soy, because it’s in almost EVERYTHING!!  This diet was hard, but I pressed on and kept at it, sent Steve to the store almost daily to find something to eat that way soy free and filled me up…but still no change, and a lot more crying and spitting up.  Next up, I tried a soy and dairy free diet, this was the hardest one, but I was doing this for the better of my child, so I still didn’t give up!  Much to my chagrin though, no change with Juliette.  She was not so happy at feeding time especially, and the poor thing couldn’t keep anything down.  I went back to my regular diet and just exclusively on the breast and she would cry and cry and cry and not even want to eat.  What was happening?  Was she self-weaning already?  What did she want?  It was so hard to tell!!  Would there ever be a resolution to this?  Will I ever enjoy my new daughter?  Why can’t I just feed her my milk?  Bottle or breast is best?  Why does she cry every time she is nursing?????  So many questions and I NEEDED ANSWERS!!!

Finally, after six long and stressful weeks of this…she was diagnosed with ACID REFLUX, and with the right formula and meds, she was like a new baby!  I couldn’t believe it!!!  Why didn’t we know this before?  Apparently it is VERY common, and my younger sister and mother-in-law even had it when they were babies…who knew?  Finding the right formula and meds wasn’t easy either, and I even kept trying to sneak in my pumped breast-milk too, but every single time I did, she puked and had a sour stomach.  Plus, because as this point I was just pumping, my supply was going down.  So, I finally and unfortunately stopped breastfeeding after 8 weeks of putting my all into it!  It was very sad day for me, and I shed many tears over it, but no one could say I didn’t try, because I did everything I possibly could.  My loving husband was very supportive of the fact that I had to stop, and he was my biggest supporter through all of this.  In conclusion, I did not have a choice but to give up nursing my baby, unless I wanted to make her sick everyday…I think NOT!

I started to enjoy Juliette so much more, and from that moment on there was stress here and there, but nothing so bad that we couldn’t handle it.  Burp cloths, bibs, and wipes became my new best friends, and burping every 2 ounces was much better for my hard to burp baby.  As she became an adorably happy and, might I add, very full baby, who by her third month was in the 95th percentile for weight, and has stayed around that same mark since, we knew we did the right thing for her.

So, trust me, they made formula for a reason, not just for women who chose not to breastfeed (which if you chose that too, I have no judgment there either because breastfeeding, even if it agrees with them, is serious business), but it was also made for those babies who couldn’t be exclusively breastfed.  It was a long road, and once she started solids her acid reflux kept getting better, her spit-ups diminished, and she now loves practically all food.  Skip to the present time…today was her last day of her beloved soy formula, which took us so long to find the right one after those six weeks.  Today it’s all whole milk.  This was a 3-week milk  project, adding more whole milk and less formula every week…and I was quite nervous about it, because of all her problems feeding in the beginning, but I am happy to report that so far, so good!

So, all you new moms hear me out- DO NOT be too hard on yourself, if for whatever the reason, you can not breastfeed, because you do have choices.  I tried my very best, and still do hope to be able to breastfeed (for a longer period of time) with the next child, when that time comes.  But when that day does comes, if it doesn’t work out I am not going to be too hard on myself, because I have a very happy and healthy baby now.  And if you are successful in breastfeeding easily, congratulations to you, I am very jealous!

Got milk?  Yes, we all do, but it comes in many different shapes, forms, sizes, and brands, and yes you do have the right to choose!  Please remember that ladies, your baby’s health and happiness comes first, and don’t be too hard on yourself like I was…it’s unnecessary in the end! J

PS: Any questions about acid reflux, feel free to ask me anytime!  I had a hard time finding enough information out there about it, and while I’m no expert, I can try my best advice to help.