beachbody · Exercise · Meal Prep · Recipes · self care · Ultimate Portion Fix

Ultimate Portion Fix (UPF) Week 2

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And just like that we’re in the second week! Getting my nutrition and fitness on track has a funny way of becoming addictive, but in a good way. Once I’ve built up a nice streak of working out every day I tend to feed off that, and do whatever I can to make sure I get that workout in! However, I need to be fair to myself, and be patient with myself. I missed a workout at the end of Week 1 (Saturday). We had family over that day, family that was in town and hadn’t met our little bean yet, and between getting the house into a ‘presentable’ state, making a dessert (I made a healthy-ish strawberry shortcake, see below) and just generally enjoying some time with the family – the workout didn’t happen. Oh well, right? But I was bummed! Luckily I have a great Beachbody coach who reminded me just how much I’m doing! She centered me, reminded me I just had a baby barely over a month ago, and that I was actually doing more than I knew with all the healthy eating and workouts all week before Saturday. After hearing her perspective and getting her support, I reset, I should take it easy on myself. So take this as a reminder to do the same for yourself!

You are doing amazing, you are doing more than you know, and the important thing is to just keep going!

My eating plan for Week 2 took advantage of some of the ingredients bought for Week 1, and will use up my last 2 freezer meals I made before the baby arrived. Doing that prep was such a good investment and I am so thankful I put in the time, I’ve been enjoying them for 6 weeks! I also wanted to use up some frozen shrimp I had leftover from Easter.

You might notice I’m doing the same meal plan 3 days in a row this time around (vs. 2 days last week) – this is just another way to simplify, and makes my prep easier!

Let me take a minute to talk about the fixate Broccoli Salad, I had it twice last week and three times this week, so you might think I’m sick of it – but no! This salad is so delicious I think I could eat it every day! Its also easy to prep, and I made a batch of the dressing last week that I’m still using this week. Its just broccoli, red onion, celery, dates, almonds and turkey bacon – so good!

This week I’ve added spinach to my Banana Protein Smoothies, it doesn’t change the taste but does add a great Green Container to my snack – win!

So far today the little lady hasn’t wanted to sleep much, so I haven’t gotten to do my workout yet (Yoga Fix Extreme Real Time today!). So instead I’m doing some Mommy and Baby workout moves, I can still get some form of a workout in even while keeping her close. Important to remember to support her head and keep your balance, but there are a lot of great moves to work your body that you can still do while holding your baby.

  • Sumo Squat
  • Lunges
  • Leg raises
  • 1-Arm Bicep Curls
  • 1-Arm Tricep Dips

I recommend one minute per exercise (for exercises on each side I recommend 1 minute per side).

Another meal that worked out really well was the roasted shrimp and zucchini – its so quick and easy to make, healthy and tasty! One sliced zucchini, 6 shrimp, a little EVOO and seasonings. Cook at 400 for 15-20mins and enjoy!

A new find I have to share is this Lemon Ginger Seltzer from Trader Joe’s. I like the Lemon-Ginger combo for infused water because there are tons of health benefits (immune system boost, good for skin, etc) and a sparkling version is even better.

Snuck in with all this healthy eating was a treat, of course! The weather has been so nice, Ice Cream season has returned! There is nothing better than a kid’s pure joy and enjoyment of ice cream, don’t you think?

Chocolate Ice Cream Monster!

Healthy-ish Strawberry Shortcake

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


SHORTCAKE INGREDIENTS
6 Eggs
1/2 Honey (or Pure Maple Syrup)
1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Melted Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup coconut flour
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda

TOPPING INGREDIENTS
1.5lbs strawberries, quartered
3 Tablespoon Sugar in the Raw (or plain sugar)
Whip Cream or Cool Whip

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix Strawberries and sugar in a bowl and refrigerate to allow juices to develop, at least 30 minutes
To make shortcake, mix wet ingredients until smooth
Add in dry ingredients and mix until combined
Pour into greased 8 X 11 baking dish.
Bake for 35 minutes or until golden
Remove from Oven and allow to cool completely – store at room temperature

When ready to serve, slice cake into six pieces, then cut each in half horizontally.
Layer dish with cake, strawberries, cake, strawberries and top with Whipped Cream!

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diastasis recti · Exercise · parenting · postpartum · self care

Make the Most of your Postpartum Time : Week 3

Diastasis Recti and Baby Tummy Time

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This week I started thinking about getting active again, and about getting my body back. It’s not the priority – my priority is having this special time with my little lady, making sure I take time to just hold her, just stare at her beautiful teeny tiny face (corny but true), nurse her, sing to her, keep her alive 😉 you get the idea…

However, self-care for mom is important too, and for me that includes getting back in shape. Prior to pregnancy I was very active – I typically work out at least 4 days a week (often more). I try to eat healthy, but balanced – I love food and wine (in moderation).

So over the last three weeks, even though I was mostly ignoring these thoughts until this week, I did measure myself – because the truth is a lot of progress has already been made without taking any action – just by letting nature run its course (the human body is amazing, and knows what it’s doing!).

When my daughter was 1 week old – the largest part of my belly measured : 39″ (99cm)

At 2 weeks old : 34.5″ (87.5cm)

Today, at 3 weeks old :

At the 1 week mark, I started wearing my belly bandit. I’m not sure if I believe in this product yet. I didn’t use it with my first child, and did (eventually) get my belly back to its pre-pregnancy size – even though I don’t believe the stomach muscles ever fully returned. This time, I’m older, its my second child, and I just thought it might be worth it to try the product out – it certainly can’t hurt.

Wearing my Belly Bandit

This week (PP week 3) I started dealing with my diastasis recti. Keep in mind I am not a health care professional and am only sharing my personal experience.

  • What is diastasis recti?
    • Short answer – diastasis recti is separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy
    • It is officially defined as a distance between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle of two centimeters or more
    • It affects at least 60 percent of women six weeks after birth and 30 percent of women have it a year after birth
    • It is caused by pressure on the rectus abdominis muscles leading to overstretching, which is why it occurs so commonly during pregnancy
  • Do I have it?
    • Technically, we should wait at least 6 weeks to check manually for DR – the reason being that before 6 weeks the uterus is still working/shrinking and your body is still recovering in general (for many women the separation will correct itself by 6 weeks)
    • My midwife checked me in the hospital before I left, and the early check indicated that I do have a significant separation
    • To perform a manual check –
      • Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
      • Place your fingertips just above your bellybutton
      • With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
      • Roll your upper body off the floor into a very small ‘crunch’ – lifting your head off the ground but keeping shoulders on the ground
      • Check how many fingers can fit in the ‘opening’ created by the cruch
      • Repeat and test for separation a few inches higher above your belly button and below your belly button.
      • Two fingers of separation would indicate possible DR (to check again at 6 weeks PP) – Three fingers could indicate a more serious separation and you should consult with your doctor or a physical therapist (this is always a good idea).
    • Truthfully – the actions to correct diastasis recti are beneficial for anyone, so there is no harm is proceeding with an assumption of DR
  • How do I fix it?
    • There are some specific exercises that can help you, and some that can really hurt you (make your diastasis worse)
    • Avoid:
      • abdominal sit-ups
      • crunches
      • oblique curls
      • double leg lifts
      • upper body twisting exercises
      • exercises that include backbends over an exercise ball
      • yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as “cow” pose and “up-dog” pose
      • pilates exercises that require the head to be lifted off the floor
      • lifting and carrying heavy objects
    • Make sure you consult with a doctor before starting any exercise postpartum.
    • For me, I started with these exercises this week. I kept a close eye for any bleeding or other signs that I might be overdoing it, and especially focused on the Alternating Heel Drops, Seated Tummy Flex and Hip Bridges as these were specific exercises stressed by my midwife.
Alternating Heel Drops
Hip Bridges

This graphic below is from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/426223552234538866/

Now, speaking of tummies – I also started daily tummy time with my daughter this week. This is time the baby spends on her stomach while awake and supervised.

Why is tummy time important?

  • Helps baby develop head control
  • Promotes motor skills
  • Prevents conditions such as flat head syndrome (given that our babes always go to sleep on their backs, tummy time offers them a different position to spend some time).
  • Tummy time helps your baby build strength needed for sitting up, rolling over, crawling and walking

When should I start?

  • Your baby can start tummy time right away after coming home from hospital
  • Each session should last about three to five minutes at first.
  • My first week or so at home I tried tummy time with my little one periodically, but this week we completed two to three times a day.
  • Don’t be surprised if your baby doesn’t enjoy tummy time at first – it can be uncomfortable for them compared to the position in which they regularly spend their time. Just take a break and try again later. Tummy time is easy to skip especially if you have a baby that doesn’t enjoy it, but stay committed mama!
  • As your baby gets used to tummy time, place your baby on his or her stomach more frequently or for longer periods of time. Aim for around 30 minutes a day of baby tummy time by the time he is 2-3 months old.
  • You can even arrange age-appropriate toys within his or her reach once they show interest in toys – mirrors also work really well!
  • Your baby should work up to an hour of Tummy Time per day by 4 months of age.
  • Eventually we want to see baby pushing up on her arms and picking her head up on her own
  • Then keep the practice up until baby can roll over on his own, a feat many babies accomplish around 6 or 7 months of age.

How do I do it?

  • There are a few options, I try to incorporate all of them throughout the day:
    • Lay your infant facedown on your stomach or chest or across your lap (this is perfect after feeding assuming babe stays awake) – I also think this is the best method when starting out as it keeps baby calm.
    •  A blanket or a tummy time mat on a firm, flat surface (floor). Here we would lay right next to her so we are in her line of sight. As a bonus, I could do some of my DR exercises while laying on the ground with her!
    • Boppy Nursing pillow – I use this for breastfeeding (I actually have 2, one upstairs and one that stays downstairs) but it is great as a tummy time pillow as well – it creates a slight elevation.
  • The purpose is for baby to try lifting her head, so if she doesn’t do this just as a result of the positioning, try to engage her! Put your face close, or a rattle, etc. 
Its hard to see, but she is lifting her head here – we start small!

Remember – every bit of Tummy Time with your baby makes a difference and adds up, so keep going!

If you have done plenty of Tummy Time with baby, but are concerned they are not meeting their milestones, bring your concerns to baby’s pediatrician or healthcare provider.

parenting · postpartum

Make the most of your Postpartum Time : Week 2

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Time already feels like it is moving by too fast! This week I was able to get back to some of those ‘To-Do’s’ I had put off and add a few more things into my routine.

  1. Thank you notes
  2. Birth Announcements!
    • This is a fun one. The hospital where I delivered has an in-house photographer, so we were able to have the pictures taken within the first couple days of our daughter’s life. I had packed a special outfit, and they came out great!
    • I ordered the actual announcements from Minted Birth Announcements at Minted– they make it so easy to create a cute layout, and to have all the envelopes pre-printed with addresses for delivery, saving me precious time!B
  3. Walking
    • After a New England winter, any sign of Spring is so welcome and enjoyable. We had a couple of warm days this week and I took advantage by getting out for walks with the stroller. Baby was pretty bundled up and shielded from the sun, but the fresh air does us all good! My son has also been loving playing outside after being cooped up all winter, so walking (or even bringing the strider bike and helmet along) is an easy activity we can all do together.
  4. Pumping
    • After spending the first week focused on ensuring my baby was getting enough milk and gaining weight, this week I started pumping.
    • I pump for two reasons – (1) I will be going back to work (sooner than I would like) and need to get started storing some milk away. (2) Pumping can help to increase or keep up supply.
    • Pumping while breastfeeding full-time is a lot of work. This milk is “extra” – over and beyond what baby needs, so there won’t be much milk per pumping session, which can be discouraging but is totally normal.
    • Pumping in addition to breastfeeding can help increase supply as it fully drains the milk from your breasts and signals to your body to make more.
    • There are a few things I try to do to be sure I’m getting the most out of my pumping – after baby feeds I pump. I get very little milk, (~0.5oz total) but its more about completely emptying my breasts.
    • Sometimes I will pump and nurse simultaneously so both breasts are engaged at the same time, then I still have the baby switch over to that side after the pumping is done. This results in a little bit more milk to store, but I have to admit I don’t love doing this. It just kind of ruins the nice, calm nursing session for my babe, but is sometimes necessary.
    • One thing about the pump itself, having the correct size shields can make a difference. If you’re going to put in all this work pumping, you want to yield the best result possible, right? So its worth checking that your shield is pulling in the right amount of your nipple and aureola to maximize effectiveness. I actually use two different sizes, as one of my nipples is slightly smaller than the other!
Medela Guide to Breast Shield Sizing

I can’t really talk about pumping or milk supply and not mention drinking water! This is a big focus for me every day because I know how important it is. The issue is not that your supply will be affected (you will continue to produce milk until you are significantly dehydrated), the issue is that you will suffer. Your body will take care of the baby first, making sure the baby and breast milk is taken care of, but you may be left dehydrated and symptoms include tiredness, lack of energy, moodiness, headaches, etc – not what we need with a newborn!

I consistently see the recommendation of about 1/2 to 3/4 of an ounce of water per pound of your weight. So if you weigh 140 lbs, this would be 70-105 oz of water per day. Of course we do get water from other sources (coffee, tea, juice, vegetables we eat, etc) so you could figure at least 10% of your targeted consumption will come from what you are eating.

Keep in mind that water intake varies per individual and your needs may be more or less than the recommendation given. Best advice is drink to thirst and check your urine color to determine the right amount for you.

I like to make a pitcher of infused water every few days to supplement my plain old filtered water. This just helps to keep it interesting and tasty. This week I was doing lemon and strawberry.

parenting · postpartum

Make the most of your Postpartum Time : Week 1

The first week after the baby is born is all about recovery and settling in. Whether this is your first baby or you’ve been down this road before – this is a special, hectic, messy time!

Today (or tonight, really) my newborn will be turning 1 week-old, so here’s how my first week went.

After the night of my delivery, I spent two additional nights in the hospital. As much as I wanted to get back to my own home, own shower, and own food, I know how valuable this time is – round the clock professional care for myself and my baby? Yes, please! My priority was for my husband and I to get some sleep while we had all this extra help, so we let the baby go to the nursery in between feedings each night. This also works out well for the hospital staff as they have numerous checks and vaccinations to complete, etc – that they would schedule during the same time.

Another important goal during the hospital stay is to help your body heal – I knew that once I got home I would be moving around so much more (chasing after a 2 year-old as well) that my bleeding and pain/discomfort would increase – and it did. So during the time at the hospital its was important to rest, get into a care routine where the peri-bottle and ice packs became my best friends, and stock up on disposable undies to use later!

Lastly – I took advantage of the lactation specialist during my stay. I had nursed my son for 9 months, and my goal is to do at least the same for my daughter. Even though I had nursed for such a long time (and it wasn’t that long ago) I still found it extremely helpful to hear from the specialist. Reminders on how to latch, different position options, how to tell if she’s feeding correctly, etc. All extremely helpful. Since most babies lose weight in their first couple days of birth (especially exclusively breastfed babies) if you are breastfeeding you are going to want to feel confident that your baby is getting enough to eat. Proper form also reduces pain and complications for the mother and helps keep your supply up. The baby is the best pump for you and if she feeds correctly your supply will be plentiful! So my main job after returning home was to establish a good feeding “routine” (essentially feeding on demand at this point, sometimes she would be hungry after 30mins, sometimes 3hrs) and to make sure she was gaining back the weight she lost. We have a small baby scale we purchased for my son (you can see it was from Babies R’Us, still so upset they are gone because it was so convenient to be able to run out and get whatever little thing we needed right away) and this is great to eliminate any question on if she’s gaining weight or not.

Fortunately, we’ve had a productive week and she is well over her original birth weight. The general guidance is that most babies should regain any lost weight by days 10-14 of life, and most babies lose 5-10% of their birth weight in the first 5 days or so of life (breastfed babies will typically at the higher end of this range).

What worked for me is to offer the breast anytime she woke or was fussy. If she didn’t take it – then I would look for another source for her crying or discomfort, but 90% of the time, she’s hungry! This is really a learning from my experience with my first-born. With him I tended to think ‘he just finished eating 30mins ago, he couldn’t possibly be hungry’ – well I was wrong, the poor kid was probably hungry all the time! Especially early on – they do a lot of cluster feeding, and also nurse to soothe themselves, so expect to spend a lot of time nursing!

This week your baby will also have their first Well-Baby visit – the first of many visits in the first year of baby’s life. There are numerous things to check and discuss at this visit:

  • Measure baby’s weight, length and head circumference – here’s a good reference on newborn averages
  • Check how baby’s umbilical cord and circumcision (as applicable) are healing
  • Check baby’s heartbeat and breathing
  • Check baby’s reflexes
  • Check baby’s skin color looking for signs of jaundice
  • Check baby’s genitals
  • Check baby’s Fontanels (soft spots) and the shape of her head

You’ll also discuss the how the baby is feeding and sleeping, and this is the best time and place to ask any and all questions you may have (there’s no such thing as a stupid question when you have a newborn).

Just completed my first check-up!

Given how much went on this week (its amazing how quickly your life can change!) there are also a couple things I didn’t worry about this week

  • My weight or getting my body back – this week, I didn’t worry about my diet, other than wanting to make sure I was eating enough to help establish my milk supply. I didn’t even think about exercise, as I wanted my body to heal. There is time for this in the weeks to come, but was not my priority this week.
  • Thank you notes and other ‘To-do’s’. With various baby gifts arriving the thank-you notes are on my list but will have to wait. Returning phone calls and emails or messages will also have to wait. This is a special time for our little family of four and its ok to be a little selfish.

One important reminder though – get that baby added to your insurance. This is one ‘To-do’ I checked off before leaving the hospital.

So, what did I feed my family this week? The first night we got home we dug into one of our Freezer Meals that I had prepared before baby arrived – what a lifesaver! We went for the turkey lasagna rolls, and this was dinner for mom, dad, and brother for our first two nights back – it was delicious, even though it looks a little messy. Timing worked out that we were actually all able to sit down and eat together too which my toddler loved, “we’re all together” he said happily.

Otherwise I ate fruit, cereal, or Lactation Cookies (also from my Freezer Meals prep) for breakfasts, sandwiches for lunch (tuna sandwich with a small cappuccino shown below), and we even did a ‘breakfast for dinner’ night with a spinach omelette – quick to make and good to eat!

Looking forward to my Post-partum (PP) week 2 however, I do want to start getting back into my normal groove of planning a weekly menu of healthy nutritious meals for the family. Here’s the plan:

I like to do Meatless Monday – but if you are following no meat on Friday’s for Lent you could easily switch the days around to accommodate. I did not do a big prep session for this week, thats a little too ambitious for me for week 2. I plan to prep as I go during the week and fit it in between feedings, snuggling with the baby, etc. We’ll see how that works out!

Since today is Monday, I’ve already started following this plan, the Low Carb Waffles (also from Freezer Meals prep) were delicious – like crave-worthy delicious.

Here’s the recipe I’ll be using for the Mushroom & Artichoke Fettuccine from DamnDelicious – it looks yummy and hearty which is perfect for a vegetarian meal!

I can’t wait to try it!