Writing My Story

Writing My Story

Here I am on attempt #….? of quitting sugar. I have no idea how many times I’ve tried, but this time has definitely felt the easiest. The longest I’ve gone without refined sugar is about 4 months. My theory is, I’d rather go through life trying over and over and spending many months without “the sauce” than never trying at all.

I want to tell you that this time is different! But really it’s not unlike all those other tries. It does feel easier every time and maybe the statistics are like quitting smoking, it takes 7 tries or something. Maybe with sugar it’s 700.

The one major difference this time is my effort to be kinder to myself. There are always slip-ups and awful replacements for sugar. Sometimes in the beginning I might gorge myself on fries. My body desperately trying to get sugar in the form of simple carbs. I used to get so mad at myself and now I just say “it’s OK, it happens” and I move on. It seems like when I stop the cycle with that, I do better.

I hope that one day I am a resource for someone. I want to be an “After” and be able to share my “Before” story. I’ve been trying to think of what this blog is about and I think it’s simply my story. I’m sharing my journey back to the athlete that I once was. I don’t know that I’ll be doing triathlon or distance swimming this year or next, but I’m sharing my journey back to that place. I’m taking baby steps and it’s WORKING.

About Blogging

About Blogging

I’ve started compiling a mental list of things I love about my favorite blogs and things that have kept me from wanting to read blogs that otherwise seem great.

Things I love:

1. Good quality photos and lots of them.
2. Snippets of honesty about the bloggers life. I don’t need to know every detail, but if every post is overly positive and perfect, it leads me to think there’s something the blogger is trying to cover up. Or it makes it harder to relate somehow.
3. Great, easy-to-follow recipes that don’t involve a million rare/expensive ingredients and hours to prepare.
4. Mix it up. If every post is about the same topic, I lose interest pretty quickly.

Things I really don’t like:

1. Mentions of religion, Jesus, the Bible, etc.. on a very regular basis. I have nothing against religion but boy does it annoy me when I’m reading along and there’s a little mention of Jesus along with some great recipe for peanut butter pancakes.
2. Stealing content from other, similar blogs without giving credit.
3. Sponsored posts that aren’t labeled as sponsored right at the beginning.

What I’m struggling with:

1. I have a lot of things I want to write about and share, but I have a hard time drawing that line between over-sharing and under-sharing. I think a lot of bloggers struggle with this. Especially those with a lot of readership.
2. Trying to figure out just what my blog IS. I think there is a space for me. A lot of bloggers I read I have a lot in common with: children under 5, a love of healthy food and eating, a love of fitness.
But I also DON’T have a lot in common with some of aspects of their life. I am closer to 40 than 30. I am slightly overweight, I’m married to a woman.
3. How much to share about my child? I never thought I’d struggle with this. I thought I’d want his face all over, but now I’m hesitant. I want him to be present here, but I want to respect his right to privacy too.

Coffee, break

Coffee, break

I think maybe I’ve broken up with coffee. It’s not that I don’t like coffee anymore, it just doesn’t taste as good to me as it used to. I still like a really good latte or Americano from Vita or Vivace or Stumptown, but I don’t want it daily anymore.

I think I’m having a return to my love affair with tea. I’ve always liked tea but lately it’s all I want!

I wonder too if there’s something in tea, however slight, that I might need. I’ve been trying to tap into this lately with food. I also crave chocolate a lot and I’m trying really hard to eat good quality dark chocolate (vs. cheap leftover Halloween candy). I recently made this incredible chocolate coconut tart with no refined sweeteners and it’s decadent and a little bit goes a long way.

So I do wonder if I don’t “need” coffee like I used to. I also cannot tolerate that much caffeine anymore. I’ve always been kind of a caffeine wimp but now even 6oz of regular black coffee makes me really jittery. On the other hand, two cups of black tea leaves me feeling kind of refreshed.

My current favorite at the moment is Tetley’s Green & Black tea. It’s a very nice smooth combination and any bitterness from the black tea is smoothed out with the green.

This time of year I also really enjoy Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane. It’s so good with milk and honey. Trader Joes sells a version of this too.

I used to buy tea from Teavana quite a bit but I recently found their tea quality wasn’t as good and their prices are inflated. So I’ve vowed to shop our many local tea shops instead.

Today I tried out Remedy Teas on Capitol Hill and it was just lovely. I had a plain black tea latte and it was just perfect.

sun tea

Six Weeks and When to Ask for Help

Six Weeks and When to Ask for Help

I’ve been at this no sugar thing for six weeks now and I’m still feeling great. Last week I came very close to breaking down and I did have sugar. I did something radically different this time though. I confessed to my nutritionist and asked for her help. I wasn’t sure what advice she could give me but she really did help. If only by encouraging me, it was enough to keep going. Part of the trouble I was having was huge temptation all around me. My dept was having a bake sale and I not only made goodies for this bake sale, I was a seller! So it was really hard to be around all these yummy treats.

I knew that if I told myself no-no-no, it would just lead to a sugar binge so I instead said YES to the best possible treat I could in the group. Someone made double chocolate paleo cookies, only sweetened with coconut sugar. In general I try to avoid coconut sugar because it’s still SUGAR but I feel like this was OK.

At this point, I know what I consider good and bad and I don’t really need to justify it anymore. I have opened the door to sugar just a tiny bit more in the last week or two. I’m hoping it isn’t a slippery slope. I now eat a square or two of dark (>80%) chocolate almost every day. It has <7 grams of sugar per serving and I eat less than half a serving, so I’m OK with that. I’m still being diligent about cookies, cake, pastries, ice cream and many more forms of refined sugar and processed food in general.

Now that my hand has mostly healed, I’m ready to resume yoga. I DID accomplish my 30 minute walks while I had to take a break from yoga. The walking felt wonderful mentally but the issues with my feet flared up and I want to return to activities that don’t aggravate it. My new goal starting Sunday and going for three weeks is 1 yoga session and 1 swimming session/week.

I also want to add in a nutritional goal of eliminating white bread. I don’t eat a lot of it but I want to reduce my overall carbs to only complex carbs eventually. I’d like to include more beans, starchy veggies like sweet potatoes and yams and lentils. Most of the bread I eat is sprouted wheat bread but I’d like to reduce that too. Usually I eat eggs and 2 slices of toast for breakfast. I’ll swap out one slice of bread and replace it with fruit.

Avocados and Yoga

Avocados and Yoga

*This post contains affiliate links.

It’s been nearly 4 weeks since I quit refined sugar. Of course I’ve had a few missteps along the way, but nothing has gotten me completely off track and I feel really great.  Last week I decided I wanted to add in yoga as my next healthy 3 week habit.  I did great and did yoga twice last week. Unfortunately my efforts were a bit derailed on Sunday when I accidentally cut myself while slicing and avocado. (I wouldn’t click that link unless you are not squeamish).  That’s what I get for being healthy!  I ended up with three stitches in a very inconvenient spot for yoga practice.  So to keep myself on track, I’m switching my yoga goal to 1 – 30 minute walk/week.  Hopefully by the Wed after next I’ll have healed enough to tolerate downward dog and other poses that put pressure on your hands.  I have to keep the stitches in for 10 days.

After the stitches I did have a sugar cookie. I didn’t really feel too badly about it and it didn’t lead my down a path to peanut butter cups and gummy worms. I feel like this is a good sign that I may one day be able to treat sugar as a special occasion type thing like most people.  Perhaps, a monthly thing.

I’m beginning to notice other side effects from quitting sugar. My skin looks brighter and clearer. I already had fairly clear skin but now it has more of a glow that it didn’t have before.  I no longer have a huge afternoon energy crash. I crave refined carbohydrates less overall.  In the first two weeks I noticed I was eating a lot more things like chips and bread but I think that has slowed down a bit this week. I still crave chips somewhat but that’s because they are tasty and salty.

Once I’ve got a regular yoga practice on board as one of my habits, I want to really work on increasing my vegetable intake. My nutritionist eventually wants me eating twice as many vegetables as fruit.  Right now I’m still eating a lot of fruit as a substitute for my refined sugar habit.

Last night I replaced my pasta with yellow summer squash and it worked out great. I’ve done this many times before with zucchini but it was greatly improved last night using a

Zyliss Julienne Peeler

Zyliss Julienne Peeler

and by lightly sauteing the “noodles” rather than boiling them as I have in the pasta.  I topped them with sauteed chicken sausage, kale and pasta sauce.  It was a really delicious and I didn’t miss the pasta at all.

It’s Been Three Weeks and I’m Not Dead

It’s Been Three Weeks and I’m Not Dead

Today marks three weeks off refined sugar.  I came really close to falling apart this week, almost caving to some chocolate chip cookies, but I kept going! I’m starting to notice when I crave sugar now. I’m starting to really pay attention.  Last night it became really clear to me after I put the baby to bed. I had a rough time getting him to sleep, he’s teething and it was hot and he was very unhappy. It was pretty stressful and when I was finished I immediately wanted something sweet.  Instead of finding something to binge on, I had a fruit-sweetened popsicle instead.  I realize that YES a lot of people consider that sugar but between my nutritionist and I, right now, that is my crutch to help me wean off.

I realized that three weeks really IS how long it takes to develop a new habit. I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near recovered from my sugar addiction, but it’s becoming a habit now and it feels good.  So I decided I’d like to take on a new healthy habit every three weeks.  Big or small, one little change every three weeks.  Something I’ve really been wanting to get back into is yoga.  My body is often achy, often tired.  Between working part-time and taking care of the baby, the house, laundry, food, and everything else it’s hard to fit it in! But I can definitely squeeze in 15-20 minutes a week. So that’s my teeny tiny goal for the next three weeks.  15-20 minutes of yoga a week.  If I can do that, I will increase to 2x a week.  Then maybe I’ll do another nutrition goal, then another exercise goal, then a mental health goal. And so on!

I started my yoga tonight with short and sweet little video from this great free yoga website called DoYogaWithMe.Com.  I did the After Work Revitalizer video that is about 15 minutes long. It’s a great Hatha Flow video that is just right.   Flow yoga is my favorite, especially when I’m getting back into yoga because the poses aren’t held for a terribly long time. Once I’m into yoga more regularly I can hold poses for longer.

So we’ll see where this three week plan takes me. Hopefully to a healthier me for the rest of 2014.

I believe I’m on my 6th or 7th attempt at giving up sugar. I’ve read that for a sugar addict, giving up sugar can be as hard as quitting heroin. Perhaps maybe my addiction is not as bad as other people, but I’m not having a Trainspotting-like experience. Not at ALL. It’s not easy though. I am on day 6. Usually by day 7, things being to ease up.

I know I am more successful under the watchful eye of my wonderful nutritionist, so that’s why I’m working with her again this time.  Her suggestions last time kept me off “the sauce” for two months.  First I have to get rid of every scrap of refined sugar in the house.  After that it’s a matter of increasing protein intake to help me feel fuller longer and more satisfied (I’m still nursing, so I’m hungry ALL the time).  She also recommends adding in fruit and using agave or stevia to sweeten my coffee.  She feels like maple syrup is also OK but I feel like I’m too likely to abuse it, so it’s off the list for now.  I know a lot of addicts would also abstain from fruit and the agave/stevia, but I know myself well enough to know I can control myself with them.

Fortunately it’s high fruit season and strawberries are everywhere. They have been my saving grace right now.  When I feel a bad craving hit, I grab 4 or 5 strawberries and it helps. I’m not saying it’s easy, or that they’ve disappeared altogether, it just helps.

I also realized yesterday that in order for me to be successful, I need a reason beyond “its healthier” to quit sugar.  The truth is I really want to be around as long as possible for my little guy.  And something tells me that my intense sugar habit was not doing anything for my lifespan.  It definitely wasn’t doing anything for my waistline! Although my goal right now is not weight loss, it is simply getting over my sugar addiction (one step at a time!).  We’re still not completely certain that our family is complete yet as well. I want to be as healthy as possible if we decide someday we want to add a 4th family member.

I also want to lessen the control that sugar has over my life.  It really does/did have some serious control over me! I was wanting sugar after EVERY meal. Even breakfast! I would think about what sugary treat I wanted and not relax until I had it. Then I’d feel tremendously guilty.  It’s a vicious cycle and one I’d rather live without.

So here we are again. I feel determined and hopeful and I have a great support system to help me through.

The First Four Months

The First Four Months

People seem to disappear when they have babies.  It made sense before our little guy was born, but now that I’ve survived the first three months, I understand why.  I do not intend for my blog to become a mommy/baby blog but I do want to make three posts that outline the baby “stuff” we found most useful.  One every four months or so for his first year.  I found these posts immensely helpful when deciding which baby things to buy before he arrived. I also strongly encourage you to consider buying second hand.  Baby stuff gets outgrown so quickly it’s easy to find it in great shape at thrift stores and garage sales.  We got the majority of our stuff from garage sales, friends, and 2nd hand shops.

1. Badger Diaper Cream

This stuff is a lifesaver.  Our little guy has not had one case of diaper rash UNTIL the moment we used a diaper cream other than Badger.

Saved our butts

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2. Ergo Baby Carrier with infant insert

While recovering and adjusting at home I made it my goal to get out of the house EVERY day. Even if it was just walking for 10 minutes.  I forced myself to get comfortable with the Ergo and the infant insert when he was barely two weeks old and we started walking just a little bit every day.  It was so good for us. (I had an emergency c-section so recovery was a bit rough)

Ergo carrier














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3. Ikea night light.  Breastfeeding at night in the beginning can be tricky.  You want to be able to see what you’re doing but not so much light that you’ll wake baby up fully.  This little light has been so helpful.  Click it once to turn it on and it cycles through all the colors, click it again and hold, and it will maintain that color and level of brightness.

Friendly night light

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4. Miracle Blanket swaddler.  We tried so many swaddles. We tried the basic blanket swaddle, the lightweight summer version, the velcro kind, the Woombie. You name it, we probably tried it.  This one worked the best. Our little guy could not Houdini his way out of it.  It is soft and comfortable, not too warm and never seemed to bunch up around his face or choke him.  We found it a bit too late though as he sleeps with us, unswaddled every night.

Cozy and soft

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5. Bouncer.  Do not buy these new. They are at garage sales everywhere.  We have two bouncers and they have been a lifesaver for me while home alone.  We keep one in the bathroom 100% of the time so I can shower easily.  We keep another in the living room/kitchen so I can have my hands free as needed.  He also goes in a swing sometimes. I try not to leave him in it longer than 30 minutes at a time.

Mommy’s 2nd hand

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A few other essentials for baby and mom:

-100% cotton cloth diapers for use as burp cloths. We have 10, 15-20 would probably be more useful but we keep forgetting to get more

-Carter’s and Gerber brand short-sleeve onesies. We used SO many of these.  If it had been summer when he was born, we probably would have used more.  He outgrew his newborn sized onesies fast so having them up to 6 month size has been helpful

-A hand pump. We bought a Medela brand hand pump and it was so helpful when my milk came and and I was engorged. I was able to pump off some milk easily. Also it took nearly three weeks for my insurance-covered electric pump to arrive and I used the hand pump in the meantime.

-Nipple cream. I used Motherlove brand nipple cream, which is 100% safe for baby.  I don’t really use/need nipple cream anymore but if I had to do it all again I’d just use coconut oil.

-Contigo water bottle.  If you’re going to breastfeed, you’re going to be very thirsty. Especially in the beginning.  You’ll want a good, BPA-free, leakproof water bottle.  The Contigo bottle is so great. Never leaks, holds a lot of water, doesn’t sweat. I went through 3-5 fills of this bottle/day in the beginning. I still go through 2-3 fills.  If you have a hospital birth they’ll likely give you a very large bottle in the hospital.  I brought mine home with me and used that for the first couple weeks.

-Bamboobies reusable nipple pads.  These are SO comfortable, reusable and worth every penny. I prefer the nighttime pads because they are the most absorbent.  I tend to leak a lot.  For disposable pads I  love Johnson’s brand. They are very soft. The J&J are not individually wrapped which was something that irritated me about other disposable brands.  When you’ve got a newborn anything that takes extra time is annoying.  The J&J pads can look a little wonky under clothes, so beware of that.

– A freezer full of easy to heat and eat meals.  As well as lactation cookies.  I ate a ton of Amy’s brand dairy-free burritos. It turned out dairy is a major cause of colic for out little guy.  Burritos were especially helpful because they took about 2 minutes to heat and I could eat them with one hand while holding the baby. Also helpful was a ton of fresh fruit and chopped veggies on hand.  Crackers and veggies dipped into hummus or edamame hummus was a good quick snack.

-Nursing tank tops. Target’s Gilligan and O’Malley nursing tank tops are the most affordable and comfortable of all the ones I tried.  They are $20 each and hold up great. I used them as a bra under other shirts and wore them at night. I lived in them the first 8 weeks at home. The Target tanks run a bit on the long side and also fit me during pregnancy. The support is surprisingly good and I do not have a small chest.





Morning Sickness, I Survived it.

Morning Sickness, I Survived it.

I meant to write this post awhile ago.  It’s not really in line with most of my health and fitness topics but I wanted to put it out there somewhere, should someone else go through it, or know someone going through it.  Especially before my brain turns to goo after this kid is born.

Severe morning sickness is no joke.  It often lasts all day and night.  It is debilitating and depressing.  It cannot be managed alone.  I survived but I felt like very few people truly understood how bad it really was.  The handful of people that “got it” were my partner, my ND, my OB-GYN, and my family.  My family primarily understood because we all watched my older sister go through it twice.

It’s not just feeling like throwing up, it can be serious stomach PAIN as well.  Sometimes I simply felt sick and had stomach pain but couldn’t vomit.  In fact that’s how the majority of the first few weeks of it went.  It’s feeling faint and weak.  In addition to the usual early pregnancy changes in the body like fatigue, crazy emotional mood swings and dealing with the concept that you’re HAVING A BABY!

Here’s how I survived:

1. See your ND, OB-GYN, MD, anyone qualified to help you get medications you need to feel better.  Also to make sure you are not dehydrated are actually able to eat SOMEthing.

2. Get a note for work.  Find out if you can take time off, get on short term disability, and be up front with your employer if you can.  I tried to keep my pregnancy secret but I felt MUCH better when my coworkers and supervisor knew what was going on and why I was so sick.

3.  Accept IV fluids if offered. You’re probably dehydrated. You probably don’t THINK you’re dehydrated, but you probably are.

4. Take the medications. I know, you feel guilty. You don’t want to give them to your growing baby, but it’s also not good for a growing baby to have a perpetually sick mama.  I waited too long to give in to the prescription medication and I think I would have been SO MUCH happier if I’d started them sooner.  In addition to taking the meds, keep trying different meds until you find one that WORKS. I was pretty hopeless on my first prescription med, it didn’t work and actually made me feel worse.  The second one changed my life.  I generally prefer not to take prescription medication and wanted so_much to only give this baby the healthiest food and pregnancy possible but those hormones are serious stuff.

5. Eat ANYTHING that sounds good to you.  Except of course high mercury fish, alcohol, and soft cheeses but I’m 99.99% sure those things will sound awful to you.  I am dead serious about this.  My partner basically said to me “I will get you anything you want”.  My body wanted Pillsbury toaster strudel one day.  I haven’t eaten those except maybe one time as a teenager. I can’t explain it. However she got them home and I promptly ate two, after not eating but possibly 200-300 calories for the previous two days.  It may be that the person taking care of you (or you yourself) buys a ton of weirdly appealing food and then you cannot stomach any of it.  Do not feel guilty.  Speaking of food:

6.  Foods/beverages that sounded good to me at one point or another during the worst of my morning sickness:  pudding, tapioca, cold fruit cups, popsicles, ice cream, yogurt, kiefer, saltines, grapes, mashed potatoes, Sprite/7-up, chicken noodle soup, soup broth, ginger ale, Gatorade, white bread toast, pretzels, cereal (I highly recommend the multi-pack of different flavors), Malt-o-Meal, potato soup, rice (sometimes w/ butter), smoothies/protein shakes.  I’m sure there’s more but I can’t remember.

7. ASK FOR HELP.  I failed MISERABLY at this.  I depended far, far too much on my partner and it was hard and stressful for her to help me go through it alone. I should have reached out and asked more people for help.  I regret this so much now.

8.  When I was in a really bad place morning sickness-wise my partner broke down and pushed me to drink those AWFUL nutritional shakes (Ensure, etc.).  They were HORRIBLE but I think they kept me out of the hospital.  I cannot even imagine ever going near one again but they are an option.  Just stay away from Strawberry flavor.

9. Lower your expectations of yourself and your ability to do anything.  Let the dishes and laundry pile up.  You CAN’T do it.  See #7.  I actually felt guilty because I wasn’t working out. I could barely go from the bed to the bathroom without feeling faint.  10 months is a LONG time, letting things go for a few months is not the end of the world.  Our house became a DISASTER.  I am amazed to look around now and see that it’s organized and clean (mostly) and I have a dresser full of freshly washed and folded baby clothes.  It will happen. People CAN help you.

10. Don’t eat dried fruit.  Just don’t. If for some weird reason it starts sounding good to you, eat something else.  Coming back up it’s like shredded rubber erasers.

Remarkably I STILL have morning sickness. I’m nearly 8 months pregnant now and I wake up ill every morning.  It’s an odd combo of heartburn and morning sickness together.  It’s still nowhere near as bad as the 16 weeks or so I spent in hell.  Truly those weeks were some of the worst of my life.  In part because I wasn’t sure if the whole 9.5 months would be like that.  I’ve been off the medications since I was 20 weeks or so but I still resort of ginger ale and ginger chews on occasion.  I still eat what sounds good but I eat a much, much more healthful and balanced diet that includes vegetables and fruits in large quantities.  I honestly never thought that would happen!  I still cannot stomach broccoli and that was one of my favorite foods pre-pregnancy.

Even more amazing, I’ve managed to gain 22 lbs and the baby is measuring 90% percentile already. Clearly he has not suffered as a result of this!

First Outdoor Swim of the Year!

First Outdoor Swim of the Year!

Delicious, tempting pool


I finally made my way to one of my favorite local outdoor pools today.  It’s a bit of a drive but it’s worth it.  The water was clean and absolutely perfect. It wasn’t horribly crowded and the sun was shining! YAY!  I was a bit sick this morning, as I am most mornings but I sort of pushed myself a little bit and I’m glad I did.

I didn’t really stick to any sets or keep track.  It’s a bit too late for that kind of swimming during this pregnancy I think.  Things certainly felt different than my swim a few weeks ago.  Freestyle still feels great but breaststroke felt weird!  My belly feels like it’s a bit in the way and my inner thighs are tight and sore.  My kick is much weaker.  Overall I’m much slower in the water.  I’m usually a fast lane swimmer but I felt very much like the medium lane was challenging enough.  In general it just felt SO good to be in water.  I crave swimming every day.  Now that I have a maternity suit on the way, I think I’ll be in the pool much more.

I think I’m definitely at the end of being able to wear my Speedo. I could feel it pulling across my belly and it wasn’t the coziest feeling.

After I got out I was STARVING in a way I couldn’t believe.  Fortunately there’s a grocery store across the street.  I sat in the sun and ate my lunch.  I smelled slightly of chlorine and sunscreen that didn’t wash off and I felt very much like ME.