Saturday, October 24, 2009



The month-birthdays continue, with 7 months rolling by last weekend. He now stays awake for 2-3 hours at a time and is eating less frequently (every 3-4 hours) during the day. It is becoming easier to include him in many daily activities like shopping, visiting friends, and working out, because his awake-without-crying time is progressively longer. This is especially nice for my daily work-outs.

Exercise is so important. It is crucial to the health and well-being of your entire family. It is especially important for women in the months following pregnancy to avoid those pregnancy pounds becoming permanent, and to help with mood and energy. In addition, children who grow up in active families are much more likely to develop healthy lifestyles later. I could go on and on listing the benefits of exercise, but most of us already know them. But with the added stress of a baby for a working mother, where does one find the time to exercise? The name of the game is multi-tasking. I exercise while I commute or spend time with my son.

I get my cardio by riding my bike to work every day. It’s about a 15 minute ride each way, so I there’s 30 minutes of daily cardio without even thinking about it. Walking is great exercise too, but I live just a bit far from work to make that practical. Live to far to bike or walk to work? Consider parking or getting off transit further away from work to get in some walking. If you’re not pumping at lunch like I am, lunch breaks can also be used for a quick jog or 30 minutes at a nearby gym. On the weekends, take to the outdoors with baby in a jogging stroller. You will both benefit from the fresh air and change of scenery.

With cardio under my belt for the day, my next concern is toning. Before baby, I went to the gym 3 times a week after work. Even on maternity leave, I left him with hubby to go twice a week. But now I want to spend those precious non-work hours with my son. He grows too fast for me to miss an extra hour a day. My second day back to work, I called to place my gym membership on hold and went out to buy a set of barbells. For half an hour 3 or 4 times a week, baby and I work out together!

I hold him and lift him while I do step-aerobics and light toning to warm up.
He’s a great extra little weight for lounges and squats.
He loves to sit on my belly when I do crunches,
and to lay on the mat while I do push-ups over him.
I count out loud and he really gets to cracking up at me! Most of the time anyway – last week my hair scared him. I was doing push-ups over him when I caught him staring at the pony tail atop my head. I could see from my shadow it was sticking out in all directions. So I shook my head, thinking I’d get a laugh. But a look of horror came over the poor thing’s face and he started crying! We had to take a break for that one. Other than that, it’s been all fun and games for him.

When I want to lift a few weights, I put him in an activity saucer nearby so he can still see me, but far enough to be out of danger if I drop a weight. Not that I’m planning on dropping them, but you never know. He is usually pretty content there while I finish up. When he was younger it was a bouncy seat instead and I had to keep things short, but now I can usually even pass him off to hubby and grab a quick shower before he starts getting fussy!

There’s other ways to work out with baby too, this is just what works for me. Like Pilates or yoga? There’s videos available that incorporate baby into the moves. It’s all about being creative. Exercising with baby is a great way to bond and gets you both off to a good healthy-lifestyle start. With all these ideas for post-partum exercise, there’s no more excuses. Get moving!


I credit my quick delivery to maintaining my exercise routine throughout my pregnancy. I mean the entire pregnancy – I was lifting weights at the gym on my due date, a Friday, then again 2 days later on Monday before delivering on Wednesday! The doctor OK’d doing everything I did prior to pregnancy with a couple of modifications – from the start, she said not to life anything heavier than 25 pounds, and after 4 months no lying flat on my back. She even said crunches were OK “as long as they were comfortable.”

I’m not sure crunches are ever “comfortable,” but it was about this time last year they stopped being whatever the more appropriate word there would be. I was about 4 months, so stopped lying flat on my back for things like chest presses too. I used to love to take a class that incorporated weight training, cardio and core called “SET” at 24 hour fitness. I made modifications and substitutions when the rest of the class did things I couldn’t.

When they did crunches, I did other things for my core like get on my hands and knees and stretch and retract opposite legs and arms, or (also on hands and knees) alternating arching my back up and relaxing it. For chest presses, I removed one side of the risers under our step so I was at an angle, or I did girl-push-ups. Although they weren’t off-limits, I had a hard time with lounges because of pain in my hips, so I just did more squats during this time. Squats are great during pregnancy because they exercise the same muscles you will need for delivery. Those and kegels, but I generally didn’t do those in SET class. I topped it all off with a pregnancy yoga tape at home once a week.

I got some weird looks when I was at the gym. Many people are under the mis-conception it is bad to exercise during pregnancy. I learned to ignore them. I knew I was not doing anything my doctor had not approved, and that exercise would make me feel better now as well as make delivery and recovery easier.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Food for babies and preggos


One of my favorite activities is feeding my son solid food. We started on rice cereal mixed with breast milk when he was just over 4 months old. Many babies don’t start until 6 months, but he had been enviously eying our food for weeks. When I finally started him on the cereal, he scarfed it down and gave me this look, like “Finally, I’ve been waiting!” It is so much fun! We’ve been doing it for a couple of months now and are up to 3 times a day. He slurps it up, but half of it ends up all over him. I’ve given up wiping between bites. I just keep the spoonfuls coming, and at the end of the feeding I almost have to just take him, the highchair, and myself into the yard and hose us down!

We started adding fruits and vegetables recently by mixing a small amount with the cereal, but as the menu expands he seems to really enjoy bites of each separately. His favorites are yams and peaches. I always select fresh foods for myself, avoiding pre-packaged and pre-made foods, so naturally I had the desire to make fresh baby food for my little boy. What I didn’t know is that it would be so easy! On my mom’s recommendation, I bought a hand-crank Kidco baby food grinder because she said they are easier and work better than electric ones, but I hadn’t the slightest idea how to start.

Then a friend gave me a baby food cookbook called “Pure and Simple.” Many of the instructions for first foods literally have 2 lines of instructions. For example, for peaches or apples, peel and boil then mash or strain. That’s it! For yams (my little guy can’t get enough yams!), simply bake, then scoop out the insides and strain or mash. Bananas and avocados are even easier – all you have to do is mash or strain them! As long as they are ripe, they are perfect for baby raw.

We were away from home longer than expected a few days ago and I hadn’t brought any solid baby food with me. At just 6 months, he still gets most of his nourishment from breastfeeding, but I didn’t want to disrupt his routine. We happen to be at the hospital because my husband was ill, so we hit the cafeteria. I bought a sandwich for myself that came with a banana. I grabbed a plastic fork and mashed up a piece of the banana for baby and we had lunch together. He absolutely loved the banana by itself (until now he only had it mixed in with baby oatmeal). I did happen to have a baby spoon in the diaper bag, but I’m sure we could have made do with a plastic spoon too.

As we transition to solid foods from breast milk over the next few months, I am happy I am using real food instead of jars. In addition to the health benefits, I think it benefits both of us psychologically. It helps me to see him as a little person.


At this time last year, nausea became a bad memory and I was able to focus on my eating habits. Eating healthy is already a near-obsession of mine, except on weekends or when there is chocolate available. Eating whole grains, lean proteins, and lots of fruits and vegetables is a way of life. So during pregnancy, I continued the same diet as before, just adding a few calories here and avoiding a few high-risk foods there. I did splurge allot more often than before, as I lacked the incentive to hold back with the meter on the scale climbing anyway. It was about this time I was starting to show.

A typical weekday menu for me consisted of natural whole grain cereal and milk or a bran muffin and yogurt with fruit and coffee (yes, I kept drinking coffee but limited myself to one small cup) for breakfast; peanut butter with toast or apples dipped in peanut butter for snack; a green salad filled with all kinds of veggies, protein like chicken or fish, and a fat source like avocado or dressing with whole wheat bread for lunch; raw almonds and raisons or a Luna bar for snack plus some sweets if I was craving them; whatever my husband and I decided to make for dinner whether it be steak, tacos, turkey burgers, or stir-fry, as long as some more veggies were served; a little snack like a granola bar or crackers with milk for dessert.

The only thing really disappointing to give up was raw fish. Sushi is my favorite food and of course I craved the one thing I couldn’t have. It was easy to avoid lunch meat as I wasn’t in the habit of eating it much. The caffeine was a bit tough to cut back on because pregnancy made me even more tired than usual. Many people steer completely clear of fish for fear of mercury. However, so much of my reading touted the benefits of fish for baby that I continued eating it, cooked of course. I was just careful not to eat more than 12 ounces a week and to select fish with lower mercury content like wild salmon. Some fish with higher mercury content that should be avoided are shark and catfish. I don’t really like those anyway so stuck to salmon and tuna.

I thought I would stick to my “diet” well during pregnancy for the health of my baby, but it was a challenge because of cravings. I gained weight at the maximum rate that was still considered “normal” throughout the entire 9 months, with a grand total of 35 pounds gained at the end. There was no cause for concern though, as my baby was actually on the small side and I shed 20 pounds within the first 6 weeks. The rest came off within the first couple months of breastfeeding. So my advice is splurge away! Just make sure the healthy things are getting in first so baby doesn’t miss out on the benefits of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. Oh, and add a prenatal vitamin just to cover all the bases.