Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Baby Watch Your Back

Being pregnant is something like an endurance race. For nine months your body is working hard to build and grow a new human being. It takes a lot of work to sustain that new life, but somehow our bodies figure out how to do it. In the process, however, the strain pregnancy can exact upon your body, especially your back and hips, not to mention your stomach muscles, can really take its toll. And, speaking from experience, I can tell you that the last thing a new mommy needs is an aching back.

When I mentioned previously that one of the best things you can do for yourself prior to becoming pregnant was to get in shape, I wasn't solely referring to body weight. I also meant that you need to focus on strengthening your core muscles. The core muscles, what we typically think of and call our abs, are the muscles that help support our backs, the place where you're going to be carrying much of that extra baby weight. Going into pregnancy with a strong and supported back can help reduce the prospect of lower back pain. Another benefit of having strong and toned core muscles prior to getting pregnant is that your pelvic floor muscles are also considered part of your core and when you work your abs, you can also strengthen the muscles connecting to your pelvic floor. This adds to your stability, helps strengthen the pelvic floor which can prevent incontinence, and can also help you bounce back more quickly following the birth of your child.

So, how do you strengthen your core? It's all in the abs, baby. One of the quickest and easiest things you can do, though, is to think about your body and start by contracting your abdominal muscles while you're reading, watching tv, surfing the Web, cooking dinner, or whatever you're doing. Just contract the abs, hold for 10-15 seconds, and release. It's important that you contract the abs as you are exhaling.

Start here and you'll be surprised how this simple exercise can make a big difference. As your core gets stronger, you will be able to feel the impact on your back.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Birdhouse in Your Soul

Well, I certainly had a bee in my bonnet today. I not only produced multiple blog entries, but wrote a lengthy apology to the MOMS Club membership in my chapter for blowing up via e-mail at one of our members.

Mothers judging mothers happens to be one of my pet peeves. Yesterday, one of our members, L., sent an e-mail to our group asking for advice on getting her son to take a pacifier. Several of us responded with our advice and then one of our new members responded in what I perceived as a judgmental tone asking why L. wanted her son to take a pacifier. I kind of went off on her. Just a little. Especially after she wrote that L. was the best pacifier for her child.

I said that L. was a human being, not a pacifier and that the AAP now recommends the use of pacifiers to help prevent SIDS.

I am totally in favor of breastfeeding, but I don't think that every time your baby cries for no obvious reason (i.e. isn't hungry), you should pop a boob in his mouth. I believe in feeding on demand and I believe in consoling your baby, but I don't believe that mommy is the human pacifier. Sometimes, especially when they have more than one child, mommies need to be able to put junior down for a minute to tend to the needs of other family members. Or, God forbid, their own needs.

Anyway, I said all this rather brusquely, feeling defensive for my friend's right to choose to give her son a pacifier without being judged by the Attachment Parenting and Breastfeeding police. Unfortunately, the mom who questioned the use of the pacifier was even more sensitive and decided she did not fit into our group.

So, I offered my apologies with a statement about how no one in our group had ever judged anyone else for her parenting choices. Hopefully she will decide she can fit in after all.

On another topic, I just want to clarify that I realize I'm also not winning any Pulitzers for my blogging, but I'm also not writing for a premier news magazine. Just to be clear on that.

Thanks, Sherlock!

I hate articles or conversations or debates that begin with the question, Is X overrated?. it pisses me off. Obviously the writer or questioner thinks so.

Anyway, this article in Time rubbed me the wrong way from the first paragraph. The writer is clearly some smarmy, child-hating, self-imposed arbiter of technological popularity, and poseur trying to make out like she's so cool. The article is biased and one-sided, as most writing on technology in major news publications tends to be.

In the battle between My Space and Facebook it clearly comes down to one thing: the question of taste. Either you like to look at pages that are junky, cluttered, and annoying as all hell or you prefer clean, easy-to-read, and tasteful. That's it.

I've been around long enough to see that good taste usually wins in the end. Clearly the writer of this My Space propaganda wouldn't know good taste if it came up and shook her hand.

Nor would she know the kind of writing we should be seeing in Time. The last two lines of her story are, shall we say, less than Pulitzer winning.

And it pisses me off that I wasted my time reading her lousy article hoping for some bit of enlightenment or entertainment.

A Spoonful Weighs a Ton

Before I got pregnant with Brendan, I worked hard to get myself to a healthy weight, but what I didn't work hard enough on was actual physical fitness. I've always been a fairly healthy eater. I'm not a fan of fried foods, fast food, and junk, so eating healthy isn't a big deal to me. Sweets are my downfall, but I've found I can manage that temptation fairly well. 

However, I learned that all willpower can go out the window when you're pregnant and if you haven't been regularly and consistently working out before you get pregnant, you're not too likely to be able to start working out at any meaningful level once you are pregnant. Even a tiny amount in the quantity you eat with no increase in your activity level is going to translate into weight gain and while you should gain a healthy amount of weight – 25 to 30 lbs. if you're in the healthy range for your height, 15 to 20 lbs. if you're overweight – I know from experience that it's far too easy to gain more than you intend to during pregnancy.

My first bit of advice to anyone planning to lose weight before getting pregnant or trying to lose their baby weight would be to look at what you eat. Keep a food journal for a week and write down every bite that goes into your mouth. Every meal, every snack, every bit you pick or pluck off your toddler's plate. It all adds up. And don't forget what you drink. Every cup of juice (100 calories), every Coke (150 in a 12 oz. can), every cup of coffee with cream and sugar (120 calories), every latte (300 to 500 calories), every glass of wine or cocktail (90 to 200 calories).

Once you know what you're eating, then you can think about ways to make healthy changes and you can't remain in denial about what and how much you're eating.

Carry That Weight

I was recently talking with a friend who is thinking about getting pregnant. She asked me what my best piece of advice for her would be, what one thing she should know before getting pregnant. I don't think I even had to hesitate. My advice for her and for anyone undertaking pregnancy for the first time would be to get in shape. Get yourself as healthy as possible before you conceive because pregnancy is probably the hardest thing your body will ever do.

I'm not an expert in terms of any credentials I have, but I've seen two pregnancies through and I've done it both ways. I have more than a few thoughts on the subject and more than a little advice to offer.

So, I thought I might start sharing a few of the things that worked for me and the things that didn't. If I can help someone else avoid the esteem crushing battle I faced to lose weight following Brendan's birth, I am overjoyed to do so.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays

I love being inside on a cold rainy day with the only sounds I hear being the rain and the sound of the dryer, humming along all warm and cozy in the basement. Knowing I'm here alone except for the sleeping baby, it makes me feel productive. If I didn't have to go somewhere, I could get a lot done on a day like this.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Time to Kill

So, what I want to know is how does one make her life fit the alloted number of hours given? How do I possibly make all the things I want and/or need to do fit in one day? I am open to suggestions. Here's my list in no particular order:

Think and plan for the day/days ahead (to-do lists, calendars, etc.)
Write assigned articles
Write articles to pitch
Care for children(feed, clean, nurture)
Play with children (just be present and having fun with them; take them to do fun things)
Spend time with husband (being present and enjoying each other's company)
Work at new part-time marketing job
Clean house 
Spend time with friends (by phone, e-mail, im, etc. if not in person--at least one a day)
Shower, dress, try to look nice

These are all the things I need to fit into most days or at least my week somewhere. Obviously, some of the things are non-negotiable such as time spent with my family. Work. Exercise, for me, needs to be a priority. I'm just having trouble making it all work. I feel like I could literally get up at 5 a.m. and stay up until 1 a.m. trying to fit it all in, be exhausted, and still not get it all done.

Oh yeah. That seems to be part of my problem. I seem to really need my 6 hours of sleep a night and would take all I could get. I think if I could force myself to get up two hours before the kids I could knock out working out and showering/getting dressed. I just can't seem to force myself out of bed until I have to get up.

How do you manage your time and make it all work without feeling like you're neglecting someone?