Jelly belly

Silas and I have kept busy the past few days. My little man doesn’t seem to mind – he has been exceptionally cute and good natured lately. Of course, I am biased, but come on…

IMG_20140911_165203

Last Thursday, we tried a Stroller Fit class in Rockwood Park. I found a Facebook group a while back and had been meaning to try it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but for $7, was quite pleased with the quality of the workout. It included a little bit of everything, from high knees, to side shuffles, light jogging, push-ups, step-ups onto picnic tables – the list goes on. I like how the instructor involves the babies – we sang “Wheels on the Bus” among other tunes – and the hour passed by so quickly. As for Silas, he was fast asleep for almost the entire class.

Friday, we met one of my co-workers for coffee, followed by a little shopping.

20140912_141345

When we got home around 5 p.m., Silas was asleep in the car. I knew he would wake up just in time for his fussy period when we got in the house, so I opened up the stroller and took him for a spin around the neighbourhood. It was a beautiful afternoon with a warm sun and touch of fall in the air.

Saturday was the Dog Jog at Rockwood Park. I promised my friend, one of the SPCA directors, that we would walk. So, despite not having a dog, Silas and I faithfully showed up and walked alongside dozens of cute pooches. He is just starting to take notice of furry friends, but again, Silas was fast asleep the entire walk (which included some steep sections on trails – quite a challenge with the stroller!).

Our first successful day trip was Sunday, when the three of us took a drive to Moncton to shop and visit with friends. Everything takes a little longer with a little one, as we followed his eat/sleep/awake rhythms, but we still had a good time.

Mark and I were on the hunt for a few updates to our wardrobes. I have been living in yoga/stretchy pants all summer and have come to the conclusion that my baby weight is not melting away as fast as hoped. But I was hit with a bit of a rude awakening when I tried on a size bigger than normal, only to find out that, no, I’m two sizes up from before. Ugh.

I tried not to let it get to me because although my pants size is way up, my weight isn’t too bad with only about 10 pounds to go. And hopefully in time, I will get back to the old me, or close to it. I’m trying not to be vain. It’s just sometimes sad to think I was the thinnest and fittest I had ever been before pregnancy and now set back a few steps with a jelly belly to boot.

So today I started tracking my food, just to get an idea of whether I have been overeating. I took account of the extra calories I need for breastfeeding, and found that by suppertime, I was very close to the max (even including calories burned during an hour-long walk).

I think for the past few weeks, especially when I’m tired or when I was sick, I was mindlessly eating. I have also been eating plenty in the night when I’m up feeding Silas. And there have been treats – lots of them. Bulk Barn trips have always included visits to the candy aisle. If we’re picking up a coffee, why not a muffin or donut too. Sweets and treats are my weakness and I have been slowly falling back into old ways.

Hopefully a focus on continuing to get out for active outings with a little meal/snack planning will help us veer back on track.

Diary of a hungry pregnant girl

I’ll admit some days are a struggle. I’m trying to eat all the things I’m supposed to: protein, calcium, veggies, iron, whole grains – and sometimes I just want to eat something delicious.  Like a donut, or a chocolate bar, or a muffin. Or, drink a giant coffee. On Tuesday, at 23 weeks, I wrote down everything I ate to give you a fun little peak into my crazy, food-obsessed, pregnant journalist life.

SAMSUNG

8 a.m. – Wake up after a good sleep. It’s the morning after a council meeting, which always makes it a little tougher to get moving.
8:30 a.m. – Eat bowl of Raisin Bran with 1% milk and a giant navel orange, and tall glass of water (protein, iron, whole grain, calcium, Vit C).
10:00 a.m. – Sitting in a board meeting for my first assignment, furiously taking notes since I forgot my recorder. My pencil is dull. The room is tiny, hot. I feel sweaty. Now I feel nauseous. I need air, water. But I need a story. Must stay. Ughhhhh..
11:15 – Drive away with heat off, windows down. It’s -8 C but I’m sooo hot and feeling gross. I think I’m actually starving.
11:40 – Hit up Tim’s drive-thru and go for chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat and green tea (whole grain, protein, veg, caffeine). Really wanted a donut, but didn’t do it. Drive past a runner and feel envy. Get back to the office by noon and mow down. Sneak in a couple chocolate covered almonds I have stashed at my desk.
12:40 – Finally feeling back to life. Fill up my Nalgene bottle and get writing.
2:20 – Hunger strikes. Eat Greek yogurt and berries (protein – 18 g, calcium, Vit C). Baby kicking!
3:40 – Almonds and dried apricots. Still fighting nausea as I embark on my second story, a column on the fire chief.
4:20 – Banana. My hunger is insatiable today!
4:30 – Overheating. Remove my wool vest and stick my head out the window at work, literally. Fill up my water bottle for third time (making a total of 1.5 litres by this point)
6: 15 p.m. – Leave the office feeling much better, and head to the gym.
6:30 p.m. – Spend 30 minutes on the treadmill, running and fast walking for a total of 2.5 miles. Hop on the rower for five minutes, and finish off with three planks, each held to the count of 20.
7:30 p.m. – Heading home. Starving again. Luckily, hubby has dinner ready: a tasty chicken fried brown rice with curry flavours (protein, whole grains) with glass of milk (calcium).
8 p.m. – I steam up some broccoli to up my veggie intake (greens, calcium) and watch two episodes of Corrie. Drink decaf herbal tea.
9:30 p.m. – Hubby needs a nap before his night shift so I crawl in bed with him and watch an episode of House of Cards while he snoozes. I snooze a bit too.
10:15 p.m. – Stomach rumbling so I make one slice of whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter and honey. Watch a bit of Downton Abbey but I fall asleep on the couch.
11 p.m. – Migrate to the bed. Goodnight!

Exercise is good for you

This week I remembered a simple lesson: the more you run, the better you feel.

Even when I didn’t feel like it, or if it was a long day at work, I got myself to the gym for a couple treadmill runs. And on Friday morning before work, I did a very laid-back 5-km outside. It was about four degrees and no rain, so quite comfortable for a run.

Image
You can see the ocean in the background!

I really didn’t feel like running, but just the fresh air outside made me feel better. Once I warmed up, the run felt great. I wore two thin layers on top, my Buff headband (which is so great for cool or warm weather) and some very disappointing new fleece-lined pants. The pants were a deal from Costco – two for $12, and I should have known they wouldn’t cut it for running. Maybe I just got a size too big, but they definitely did not stay up very well. I had to keep hiking them throughout the run.

After the run, I was short on time so I hit up Tim Horton’s for lunch before a later shift at work… and I quickly ruined my workout with this:

photo(2)

I can’t resist candy cane donuts. Just can’t.

Today, I went to my regular Saturday morning spin class with friends. If it weren’t for them, I probably would not be able to get out of bed.

Overall, it still feels like I’m taking it easy from the half-marathon training days (which included the bulk of 2013). And it still feels weird not to have something to train for. But just getting moving more is helping a lot. Can’t even imagine how there was a time that I didn’t run at all.

On a separate note, take a look at this short documentary, The Runners. The filmmakers thought people would let their guards down while running… something I have experienced first-hand with a couple of my favourite interviews on this blog, with Joy and Julia. Thanks for sharing this, Molly!

Bloody socks

There was so much cake in my fridge. A huge slab cake. It was taunting me.

It was 30 degrees Celcius in coastal Saint John (it is never that hot).

The cake was cool, and sweet and delicious. And then after it was consumed, it felt disgusting in my gut. I felt instantly heavier and sweatier.

Somehow, I had to make it out for a long run that night. I told myself I had to. 18 K.

So I waited until 9 p.m. when it was just a little cooler – not much. And I made a bargain with myself: just run 10 K. I laced up and threw on my coolest running clothes. I started running as slowly and steadily as possible. Set my Garmin on the run/walk feature to take a mandatory break every 10 minutes.

The sun started to set, and I got into a rhythm. 10 K felt possible.

I crossed Reversing Falls and the temperature dropped a couple degrees. So I said, just a little farther. Add another 2 K to make it 12.

I looped back to head on home and everything felt right. The cake was a distant memory. I was running slowly, but had a lot of energy left. I walked in my door and rehydrated with Gatorade and water. Then I did something I’ve never done before. I went back out the door and kept going.

I tacked on another 5 K. Ah, why not make it 6. Before I knew it, I had met my goal.

It was the warmest night I ever remember in Saint John. And it wasn’t until the final home stretch that I felt a burning sensation between my toes. Not sure if it was the sweat, or the extra mileage I’ve been building lately, but my feet had had enough. The skin beneath my second toe on my left foot was peeling off very painfully. I came home to find a bloody sock.

My superficial toe injury has left me limping around a bit more than usual this week. Walking down stairs is particularly ouch-worthy. But hey, it’s like a war wound, and I’m proud of it.

And although the cake was lovely, leftovers from a sweet, post-elopement gathering, I didn’t touch it again.

SAMSUNG

My favourite meal of the day

When I was in my teens, the thought of eating first thing in the morning turned my stomach. I had a very uneasy tummy and sometimes even got sick.

As the nervous belly faded, I got in the habit of getting ravenous before noon, and eating whatever sugary, delicious baked good came my way. Muffins, cinnamon buns and even brownies were consumed. In those days, I didn’t even consider sugar and calories. I carried on those bad habits into university, adding a double-double to the mix. Somewhere along the line, probably only within the last five years –  around the time I started dabbling in running – I changed.

I got so excited about breakfast, that I fell asleep at night dreaming about what I would eat the next morning. Something tasty, and yes, healthy.

Enter, oatmeal.

Image

I used to love getting those little packets of instant oatmeal, but soon realized making a quick pot of plain oatmeal on the stove (or in the microwave) doesn’t take long. It’s also lower in sugar and since it is processed less, has a lower glycemic index, which means the carbs turn into sugar less quickly and makes you feel full longer.

Measure out 1/3 cup of Quaker Quick Oats, add it to 2/3 cup of boiling water, and you’ve got a steaming bowl of delicious, high-fibre oatmeal in minutes. It’s only 120 calories! (Way less than the average sugar and sodium-packed bowl of packaged cereal)

But wait, how do you make it taste good? My favourite part.

First, add fruit. I like a berry blend like strawberries and blueberries, or perhaps banana or cut-up apple. The warm oatmeal slightly cooks the fruit when you add it in. Or, you can add in dried fruit such as raisins, dried blueberries or dried cherries.

Then, add nuts, such as chopped almonds or walnuts, and a dash of cinnamon.

Another recent addition to my loaded oatmeal bowl is a teaspoon of Holy Crap cereal. It adds another 65 calories but it’s full of more goodness, including chia seeds (good for runners!), hemp hearts and buckwheat – all slow-burning fuel.

I top off the bowl with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. It’s heaven, all for under 300 calories, still way less than the average baked good at my favourite coffee places. It’s all natural and it keeps me satisfied.

Other favourite breakfasts:

– English muffin toasted with natural peanut or almond butter

– Smoothie with Greek yogurt, banana, frozen berries, and if I have it, a splash of mango or orange juice. Sometimes I get crazy and add spinach (you can’t even taste it!)

– One scrambled egg and salsa with one slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter on it.

– Bowl of Cheerios or Raisin Bran with skim milk with fruit on the side

– Whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter, banana, nuts, dried fruit and honey inside

All served with a great big mug of steaming coffee and skim milk.

I consider most of these breakfasts to be great recovery foods after a morning run. Running experts agree that recovery foods should include healthy carbs as well as protein to restore glycogen or energy stores after a hard run.

I personally couldn’t stomach a breakfast like one of these before a run, but tiny portion of fast-burning carbs – a small slice of bread with peanut butter, or half a banana – works for me, as long as I give myself at least 30 minutes to digest with some water.

On Sunday, I had my longest run so far in 2013 at 12 km.

garmin2

I was running late before the run, so I quickly ate about 1/4 cup of multi-grain Cheerios with a splash of milk, and one date. (I know, dates sound and look gross, but they’re actually delicious, like candy.)

I drank a big gulp of water and headed out the door. Usually I need to give myself more time to digest, but I had no stomach issues along the way.

The run was great. It was a quiet Sunday morning after Daylight Savings. The world wasn’t awake yet. It was cold but peaceful. The sidewalks were clear. My body carried me home.

After the run? It had to be oatmeal.

Just a sliver

Pumpkin pie

There are four or five apple trees at home, trees that my siblings and I have climbed on for years. There used to be a sand box under one. A years before that, when my grandparents lived on the farm, there was a red slide leaning against a tree branch that made for great fun.

Come every fall, little red apples would fall to the ground. And we’d walk around with a pail and collect the little guys to make pies and apple sauce. Mom and Grandma would work together for hours, filling the kitchen with that sweet smell of cooking apples. One would make pie crusts while the other would peel and core buckets of apples. They would make dozens of pies and canned apple sauce, which were all saved for the winter.

I never realized at the time how lucky I was to live in a household where loving hands made so many treats from scratch. We ate fresh and local throughout my whole childhood. It was about being self-sufficient and making the most of what resources we had on the farm to feed the family as economically as possible, a tradition my parents espoused while many other kids my age were probably fed mass-produced, boxed candies, cookies and other fast foods.

For us, it was normal to have a fresh-baked pies on the table for dessert. We thought nothing of it.

It recently dawned on me that after all the years of helping my mom in the kitchen, I had never attempted making pies on my own. While I used to help mom by making cookies, cakes and other baking, I never made pies, aside from slicing the apples.

This fall, with the bounty of beautiful apples and pumpkins, I had an urge to make pie, just like Mom’s and Grandma’s.

Mom uses the Tenderflake recipe, which seems simple enough, but requires just the right amount of dough-handling. This weekend, following Mom’s phone instructions, I made two apple pies, using New Brunswick McIntosh apples, one pumpkin pie, using a local pumpkin, and froze two extra pie shells.

The endeavor took my full attention for a good three hours. I can’t imagine how my Mom did it (and still does) with several children running underfoot and my dad calling for cow records, amongst other distractions.

Now, when I take a bite, it’s a little taste of home.

Let’s eat cookies

Image

When I finish a week of long, long days that zap and fray my nerves, I need to take action to recover. That involves two, possibly conflicting, tasks.

First, I run hard and fast. I run until my legs wear down and my lungs fill with fresh, clean air. I might also pick up a barbell and pump it high above my head, and every which-way, until my arms tremble and scream.

Then I go home, and nest. I scrub things until they gleam. I sweep away dust and rake leaves and create organization in a world of chaos.

Finally, I call Mom and replenish my recipe box with childhood favourites. Ones that fill my sad/scared tummy with deliciousness. Eggs, sugar, butter. I turn on the oven and bake until my home smells sweet. I take a warm, gooey bite, and sit back and sigh.

And then I feel better, and refreshed, and somehow, more balanced. And ready for another week.