Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fitness Roadblock

SO excited to start P90X in two weeks! BUT, I'd just like to post some difficulty/frustration I'm having...In any case, this week has been a bit challenging in the food department for me, maybe since Wednesday: I try to eat "just enough," but for some reason, I've been wanting more, so I do eat more, even as it's pretty good food: jerky, Shakeology, coconut stuff, kombucha...though some cheats like dark chocolate (maybe 3-5 squares a day) and superfood-blend "Bliss Bars". And I wonder if I eat to escape my fussy baby, or I go so long from eating that I get *ridiculously* hungry. Went out today to the salon and to see a friend, and the whole time, I was worried about the baby crying, but didn't hear a word from hubby. I was a wreck when I got home: baby was awake and fussy, though, and I had to feed ASAP. Kinda frustrated, kinda resentful, then I eat almost to distract myself and enjoy...and feel almost this helplessness and loathing towards myself. I tell my hubby about this guilt but he says I'm nursing and working out, but I still feel maybe I'm eating too much....feeling definition but not weight loss, so extra guilt with the food. Ugh. There were times when the food made me feel better, in particular after a migraine Thursday night, and feeling crappy post-migraine Friday. But still. Now I'm assessing my pantry: I fear maybe I shouldn't be allowed around food I like, but truthfully, I live for food. I truly savor it, hence my desire for healthy food, the only way to reconcile my love for it. But...yeah. Maybe I should give myself some slack being an exhausted nursing mom and all? Or not...all conflicted here. Argh.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why I Breastfeed

As I write this, I do so while nursing my soon-to-be 3 month old boy (turning 3 months on mother's day, actually!):

I am happy and grateful to be exclusively breastfeeding and also to be a stay-at-home-mom. Prior to even being preggo, I already had my heart and will set on breastfeeding. This is mostly because I wasn't really breastfed past the colostrum stage: my mom said that back then in the 1980's, she was stressed and didn't get much support, so I inevitably was formula-fed. She even struggled to hand-pump, and when my dad was wondering "how hard could it be?" then tried it himself...! Well, that ended then and there. Now my parents did their best, but I feel that had I been breastfed, I would:
-not have been as sickly
-bounced back from illness faster
-not have really had allergy issues
-would not have had weight issues as much

This is versus my husband who was breastfed and when there are seasonal allergies, his go away when he removes himself from the environment within minutes, whereas mine becomes a full-blown cold.

So basically I told myself that if I were to have a child, I would do things differently. So when I got pregnant, aside from wanting a home birth, I also wanted to exclusively breastfeed (don't even mention formula-supplementing to me!). I was nervous/scared because of my mom's struggles, so beforehand, I bought mother's milk tea, fenugreek, shatavari and blessed milk thistle capsules, as well as lactation cookies. I was told most women can breastfeed, especially with support, which i thankfully had in spades, but i was nervous anyway. Well when my son was born, he had a hard time latching, so we hired a lactation specialist to come over the next day which was also Valentine's Day. We also hired a postpartum doula to help us as a family.

We've had some other struggles, too: at around 3 weeks, we got thrush on one side, but it wasn't noticeably so, just the pain indicated it. Along with that came engorgement so I used a breast-pump for the first time to get the milk out and ensure that side wouldn't lose its supply. My son wasn't happy just nursing on one side instead of the previous two, and I was exasperated/frustrated too! Then 2 weeks later I got a bleb or milk blister on the other side. But we successfully got through these, phew! I took lots of probiotics, grapefruit seed oil, and eliminated dairy, then used gentian violet on us both. As for the bleb, I took sunflower lecithin and evening primrose oil, and continue to do so, as it they help a lot to get the milk "unstuck" and flowing, which is what we want.

We are still nursing, and I am glad. I haven't introduced the bottle to him yet to prevent nipple confusion, but we'll get there, especially for travel purposes! I also take all sorts of healthy food to fuel us both, and hope that he will favor these tastes and foods over unhealthy ones in the future.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Gnosis Sweet Choice Write-up

I am a chocoholic, oh yes I am, but how to keep this habit a healthy one? Enter Gnosis Chocolate—vegan, gluten-free, raw, AND low-glycemic! Even with all this, they taste delectable! Now these chocolates are sweetened with agave, so I was delighted to learn they are offering a “sweet choice” of coconut sugar in lieu of agave: basically the same flavor with two options for sweetener: agave or coconut sugar. In the name of science—and my excited tastebuds—I decided to take the challenge of trying BOTH sweet choices! Oh be still, my heart! The flavors I tried were Gratitude (vanilla hazelnut), Mayan Heat (chili) and Rejuvenate (pomegranate-acai). I liked the original agave for these, so I wanted to see how the new kid, coconut, would compare.

The first I tried was the Mayan Heat. I excitedly tear open the wrapper to get to the chocolate. Xocolat: food for the gods; with the chili, berries and nuts, it is indeed ambrosia. I break off a square, touch it, sniff it, eye it, and only then do I pop it into my mouth to let its flavors roll into my tongue. Chocolate is indeed a multi-sensory celebration of the senses.

I start with the new coconut sugar option, as indicated not only by the ingredient list but by the little green coconut trees on the package. The chocolate snaps crisp, it smells like chili and burnt sugar and dark velvet night. I pop one in, and the flavors come in real subtly, all robed in the dark crystal sweetness of the coconut sugar. The chili comes as a slow burn throughout, punctuated first by the black currants, then the soft pecans. I would pair this with a dark roast coffee, or a full-bodied red wine.

I then try the agave. Like an old flame, it still invites me. The chocolate breaks with a sigh, a bit more of a give. It smells of ritual and dark treacle and tart berries. I taste it, and the flavors come languidly in but all at once, like a fiery fudge. I taste the pecans, then the black currants, with the chili enrobing it all. For the agave, I would go for a medium roast coffee, and a sweet port.

The Mayan Heat is my favorite; however chocolate is still queen of my heart, and she has other flavors besides. I next try the Pomegranate-Acai in coconut sugar. Sure enough, it snaps clean. I taste more tartness, with the sweet burnt sugar somehow reminiscent of the sugarcane fields I visited in my youth in the Philippines, the tassels waving the summer breeze. I would love this with maybe a Muscat.

I then try the agave version of the Pomegranate-Acai. The agave gives its softer texture, more treacly sweetness. I taste the acai here, but sweeter. I would maybe try a nice prosecco or champagne with this: bubbles with berries!

Then for a more classic flavor, I try the Vanilla Hazelnut. As always, I try the new kid on the block first, coconut sugar. I’m loving that crisp break now as I snap off a square from its partner inside. The coconut sugar Vanilla Hazelnut is darker, more subtle, and I taste the hazelnuts prominently. This would be pretty good with a cup of chicory coffee.

However, to compare, I try the agave version, and this…this reminds me of Ferrero Rocher, a childhood favorite, but now SO much better, and without dairy, or transfats, or rancid oils, and so much FRESHER! The agave just brings it all together somehow: the hazelnut, vanilla, raw chocolate all melt in my mouth with the agave tasting like delicious almost-can’t-believe-it’s-good-for-me syrup. SO, so good. This would be great with a port....while soaking in a bubble bath. Ah, bliss.

Yes, I love chocolate, and I will be the first to spout off the improbability of me allergic to it, and instead point to how healthy it can be! And I am glad I am not the only chocoholic health nut out there: thank you, Gnosis for fresh, healthy chocolate manna.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Love Coconuts!

Aside from chocolate and chia, there’s another food-love in my life: coconut. From low-glycemic coconut sugar to healthy cold-pressed/extra-virgin coconut oil to soysauce alternative coconut aminos, coconut is truly the [Southeast Asian] tree of life.

Back in the Philippines where I grew up, extra virgin coconut oil, or EVCO for short, was already quite popular for weight loss and glowing skin, and heart health, among other things. Heck, there were even flavored varieties! So imagine my surprise and delight when I saw coconut oil gaining a following here in the United States. Now there are a lot of brands out there, but I must say my top choice is Tropical Traditions.

I first heard of them from a classmate at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, when we were talking about healthy fats. Then my assigned mentor talked about Tropical Traditions having expeller-pressed coconut oil which doesn’t have the “coconutty” taste. So I look online and imagine my surprise and pride at discovering that their coconut products are from the Philippines: represent! I got all nostalgic when I saw that they even have atchara (the Filipino kimchi: so good on roast suckling pig, or lechon in Filipino). I am further impressed with their top-of-the line Gold Label, which undergoes the traditional style of cold-pressing, at the same time, providing a livelihood for Filipinos in that community where Tropical Traditions started.

Another classmate told me they were doing a blog review of the Gold Label line, and I’ve always wanted to try it, but just never got around to it, so I took this chance to try the stuff. Let me say wow: the Gold Label extra virgin coconut oil is super silky and almost sweet, plus it doesn’t have a cloying coconut/”pina-colada” taste. And it has this soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture: even better now that the weather is warm enough for the oil to be liquid! Yum!

I love extra virgin coconut oil: we use it to cook with and bake with, we also put it in our morning oatmeal, and smoothies; I even give some to our poodle for its anti-bacterial and energy-giving properties!

I love coconuts, and even better, I love supporting businesses that have a good ethic, and even better, source from the Philippines, from home. Thank you, Tropical Traditions!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Highs and Lows and In Between

The past three weeks have not been the easiest, for sure.

Week 1-
Argued with the spouse Monday evening (yes, the 1st day of the workweek) and then he put down my healthy bread choice for him, so I felt like a failure as a wife, and helpless too with the baby. Had a good crying jag then, and my poor poodle looked distraught. Then baby wouldn't stop crying. I had to walk away from him for a bit as he was driving me up the wall! I will admit I cleaned the outer part of his ear as there was wax and that got him more upset, but I finally got a break through a nap, and I did my workout and had my Shakeology. That workout was tough, maybe because of all these emotions. I am stopping consumption of nutritional yeast, too, per my friend's advice, to avoid fungal issues (which apparently is more common than we think!)

Week 2-
We live in an old, wooden bungalow. With baby, things have been sliding, but now that I'm more able, I've been doing more stuff. Thing is, there are stuff my husband is in charge of and I ask him to do, but he says there's so much to do with baby so more often than not doesn't get to them, and then we're at another week with more stuff to do partly from what didn't get done, while I've got a needy baby to feed/change and a dog to feed/walk. I need his help and for some odd reason, the night slips past and not everything gets done. Maybe I'm being too anal but I ask him to do things, heck, I even write them down, and it usually sits until I make a fuss, then he gets annoyed. Argh! feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and upset about it all: maybe I'm being unfair to him. On better news, two weeks ago, my husband made a gluten-free quiche with egg, bacon, goat cheese and spinach yesterday, as well as a sweet potato, coconut milk, spinach and bacon soup. We visited friends for a Greek Easter dinner, too: Christos Anesti! Got a haircut last weekend: yay for feeling more like a person again! And for major food event this week, we had Takeout Tuesday from our favorite Vietnamese hangout. Our poodle has a persistent ear infection that apparently is staph-related, so she is on new meds for her for that. Apart from that, insects galore, and I do not like insects. Ah, spring.

As for baby, though, he is getting big! I took him out for a walk last week after the storm had passed, using a sling, then once I lay him down for a feeding, I noticed a bite on his forehead, so I felt pretty bad about it; hopefully it's nothing, though, and just goes away. Back to carrying him again, I guess!
I seem to worry about everything concerning him these days. I cut his fingernails every week too (or try to), and am hoping to cut his toenails as I read that if I don't do this regularly, it can lead to ingrowns, which would hurt. Fingernails are easy, toenails not so much as I can't preoccupy him. He's also getting pretty heavy-- 13 pounds with clothes and diapers on! Speaking of, there's this thing called "Elimination Communication" where the baby doesn't wear diapers and instead the parent looks for cues when the baby needs to go potty. Sounds really radical to me, but hey, one never knows. He is also starting to coo and babble and smile and drool, and hold up his head pretty well :) He had a great big ball of wax again from his right ear (outside of his ear canal: I wouldn't dare touch the canal itself!) this week, so I removed that, something he's not too fond of.

Week 3-
Did Cardio Axe from Brazilian Butt Lift the other day and High & Tight today WITH bands and ankle weights: I'm so glad I worked out even as I was initially lazy to, but holy crap the choreography is BEYOND me: I really think I have two left feet! But I am trying! I know kickboxing moves, but dance? I suck at dance. I even did Ballroom dancing for Phys Ed in college to get better, but it was a nominal victory. Fun, though. Lunch was Shakeology, Dandy Blend, Ormus Greens, chia seeds-- HELLO, delicious post-workout reward! But as I play the videos more, I "hear" the instructions more; I modify my form; body is sore in a good way. Noticing my thighs are leaner, butt is a bit smaller and tighter, jeans a bit looser. Best of all, I *feel* better towards my body, towards my self, towards my baby. These workouts, coupled with Shakeology, are my daily routine, almost like an anchor in my day. There's even a vegan one now made with rice protein! Push play; gotta love it!
What's even better is it is safe for pregnant AND nursing mamas! So healthy, so satisfying! Add coconut oil too and you are in business! Heck, add it to everything!

I want to make these chocolate chip cookies, my FAVORITE cookie! I also miss port wine so.freakin'.bad: mayhap to pair with Gnosis Chocolate's SweetChoice contest! Or Dandy Blend...speaking of, need more of THAT! Also excited to try my grounding mat and black currant phytogen liquid, supposedly for adrenal support. I miss speaking in Filipino. And here's something to watch from Know the Cause hosted by Doug Kaufmann!

Mother's Day is coming up: a friend/fellow mama asked if I had already received my "push present?" My husband is pushing ME to get one; how sweet is that? For Mother's Day, I'm even saying just a card will suffice given all the money we're spending, so it's really sweet of HIM to treasure me, which goes to the message that we mommas should really value ourselves, as women AND as mommas!

A friend is opening up a Bikram yoga studio, and she is asking if I want to teach again; I'm not sure and also my son is too young: I would wait until he's over a year at least; she's also offering a management position; we'll see! But hey, in my own time, right? and what feels good to me :)

Another friend, fellow mama and health coach recently suggested to me to hire a health coach who would be willing to maybe do a short program with me, 3 mos. maximum owing to our living on only my husband's income right now. I am currently not coaching YET but am open to setting up virtual coaching from home when my little boy is older (currently 9 weeks), but starting with blogging as I like to write and am a bit of an introvert so if I could get support there? I'm into health, fitness, nutrition, avoiding toxins for me AND my family, baby and doggie included! I am also into raw-vegan and paleo/primal/gluten-free/low-sugar diets as well as curious with GAPS, FYI--given my family health history and concern for my own child and husband. I also do Beachbody/Shakeology/fitness stuff as it helps keep my body issues at bay: another big area I need help in which is self-love, which I think is also one big factor why I don't like to ask for help, and why I feel personally at fault when there's conflict. Now I don't know why I'm not comfortable with people visiting me--maybe coz I'm a pleaser, which goes back to....self-love. And money issues, hoo boy, calling Bari! But yes this is me asking for help and asking for something for MY self-growth, money/self-worth issues aside. Yay!

Remember to take care of YOU!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Working Out Again

Day 1 of Beachbody Challenge done, Shakeology late lunch post-Brazilian Bum Bum done. I find it neat that as I look at my "before" a.k.a current photos of myself, instead of feeling frustration, because of the support from my coach and challenge group, I feel hope: yes I see the stuff that needs work/definition, but now, I think that I can do this. Now too, there's almost a pattern to look forward to in my day: whereas before it was just time revolving around baby, and some time I would randomly carve for myself, now there is a concrete tangible thing I NEED to set time for myself for, and that's pretty awesome. So thank you, Team Beachbody! And instead of spending ALL of my son's nap time running around doing stuff, I still did stuff-- I exercised with Brazilian Butt Lift Bum Bum for the 1st time, checked e-mail, had a late Shakeology lunch, and washed dishes, BUT then I stopped and spent the remainder of his nap in bed with him. It was delicious seeing him wake up to me. Thank God for long naps as they are few and far between, but hey, this is me resting! I'm sure other mamas can relate ;-)

Day 2, I woke up sore and groggy this morning...had to have some extra kombucha to get me through, lol. I was biting at the bit to work out, and I did! It's almost like this craving, but a healthy one, isn't that awesome??

To stay on track with health, why not revamp your kitchen?
And for skin, why not DIY, as our skin is the largest organ of our body,
Because of this scary reality
Speaking of, gluten-free isn't always healthy, but eating whole foods is!
So why not make something healthy AND yummy? I might add some Shakeology to this too!

In other news, I got featured here!

Live your BEST life! Live happy and healthy!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Take care of YOU

With baby fussy and needing to be fed, changed, and rocked, it's very easy to forget our own needs. Heck, I even sometimes feel my body isn't my own, that my breasts are now just food-producers and not for pleasure/looks. So before we head further down that road, heads up, mamas, here's my #1 advice: Take care of YOU.

Yes, people are right when they say "sleep when the baby sleeps," and so on: perhaps that can be one way of taking care of yourself, but think of it this way: a happy mama has a happy baby (most of the time). So do what you gotta do to take care of you.

Make some time for yourself, if that means napping when baby naps, or exercising (check with your health provider when you can do so post-birth: it is usually 6 weeks), or reading a book, sitting by the window to get some Vitamin D, snuggling with your pet dog or cat, sketching, journaling...whatever it is that makes you happy, do it: set aside some time each day, and you and everyone around you will thank you.

What will you do for yourself today?