What I Ate Wednesday: Getting Some Veggie Love

Guys, I’ve seriously been slacking. Apart from my awesome whole food/all-natural prenatal vitamins, poor Baby M is getting very little veggie-based nutrition these days. I just can’t help it; carbs (and Cadbury eggs) are delicious!

This week, however, I’m aiming to change that. Monday night included a vegetable—ok, fungus—based entrée, and I rounded out the meal with a nutritious side salad. While I might have followed that dinner with a large slice of cheesecake and a generous handful of Creole onion Zapp’s (watching my favorite characters getting attacked by zombies and crazy people is stressful, ok?), I have been drinking lots of water (nothing new there) and snacking on sliced vegetables and fresh fruit in between meals. Veggies are delicious, they give me energy, and, as a plus during pregnancy when digestion slows down, they’re good for, umm, keeping things moving.

This week’s What I Ate Wednesday Tuesday is a testament to my efforts.

Breakfast

photo 1

maple-brown sugar oatmeal (I cheated; it was instant) topped with a sliced banana

Mid-morning Snack

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a few dried figs and chunks of dried pineapple

Lunch

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a satisfying salad of baby romaine mix, cherry tomatoes, gorgonzola, sunflower and hemp seeds, and balsamic vinaigrette with a side of flaxseed crackers, baby carrots, and hummus

Afternoon Snack

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a key lime Chobani

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and some fresh blueberries, strawberries, and mango (+ an un-pictured spoonful of peanut butter and chocolate chips when I got home)

Dinner

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brown rice, roasted Brussels sprouts, and crispy tofu, using this recipe

Although I know some things are not in my control, I want to do everything in my power to ensure Baby M’s on the right path to great health. So far, it’s been easy for me to stay active (doing prenatal Pilates/barre DVDs and taking my daily walks) and continue running (more like gentle jogging with some fast walking in between), but I also want to give Baby M the best nutrition possible.

Speaking of Baby M—this afternoon we (hopefully) find out the baby’s gender. I’m excited! I just might have to do my Week 15 update a day early to share the news—athough that’s only if Baby M doesn’t display his/her mother’s and father’s stubbornness by being all modest on camera. ;-)

Don’t forget to head over to Peas and Crayons for more WIAW fun—and have a fantastic Wednesday!

Meal Plan Monday 04.21.14

In an effort to prove that I actually do cook (well, that Mark cooks while I “supervise”), I thought I’d start sharing some of our meal plans. This probably won’t be a weekly thing—but since we spent half our life savings a good bit of money at the grocery this past Saturday (we hadn’t been grocery shopping in a couple of weeks), I thought it would be fun to share this week’s meal plan.

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Monday: Gorgonzola-stuffed portabella caps (similar to these, but without the sausage) with a side salad of mixed greens, sunflower seeds, cherry tomatoes, more gorgonzola (there’s never enough cheese!), and balsamic vinaigrette.

Tuesday: Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Crispy Baked Tofu with Honey-Sesame Glaze (served over brown rice) via Cookie + Kate. I’ve wanted to cook tofu for a while, and when I saw this recipe pop up on my blog feed, I knew this was the recipe to try. It’s going to be a bit labor-intensive, but it sounds spectacular.

Wednesday: Mushroom and onion frittata, toast, and fresh fruit. We bought mushrooms for this recipe, but when planning our meals before our grocery trip, I completely forgot about it, so into the frittata they will go. Frittatas are the perfect, easy, protein-packed meal, and leftovers are easily reheated (or eaten cold) for lunch the next day. Plus, Baby M loves his/her eggs! ;-)

Thursday: Baked penne with ground beef, marinara, and shredded Italian cheese. Pasta makes an appearance at our dinner table pretty often. While Mark’s homemade marinara is infinitely better than jarred, some nights call for convenience. With a simple side salad or green beans, this meal is perfect for a weeknight, yielding plenty of leftovers for work lunches.

Friday: Sausage, onion, and bell pepper pistolettes—another easy, but satisfying, meal that’s perfect for a lazy Friday night spent at home, binge-watching episodes of “The Walking Dead.”

Saturday: Dinner out for our 6th anniversary. We’re finally giving the new French restaurant, Bistro Escoffier, a try. We’d planned on celebrating there for my birthday, but a whole lot of “life” happened that week, so we’re giving it a go for an even more special occasion. I can’t wait to sip a tiny glass of wine with my meal (when you go French, you go all out). I’ll be sure to take some pictures and post a review next week.

Sunday: TBD, depending on our plans for the day.

This week’s grocery trip included lots of fresh fruit; a couple of splurges such as Mediterranean Mint gelato, my 2 favorite flavors of kombucha (lavender and hibiscus), and a cheesecake meant for Easter dinner, but eaten during the week instead); meat, eggs, and vegetables for the meals above; and weekly staples like Greek yogurt, English muffins, carrots/celery for snacking, hummus, etc. Our refrigerator is now ridiculously stocked!

Questions for you:

  • Do you use a meal plan or do you just wing it?
  • How often do you dine out as opposed to cooking at home?
  • Do you have a grocery budget?

Weekly Links 04.20.14

I hope everybody (who celebrates) has had a beautiful Easter surrounded by family, friends, and good food.

Our Easter was lovely. We went to mass at St. Joseph Chapel at Spring Hill College and had an early dinner at my parents later in the afternoon. Now we’re just relaxing in front of the TV.

Before we jump back into the work week, I have some links to share.

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.Recipes.

Chipotle Pulled Portobello Sandwiches with Feta Cilantro Topping via The Artful Desperado

This sandwich can’t be real. It just can’t. I love some pulled pork, but really, this looks every bit as delicious in its veggie glory. If only I can convince the husband to try this.

White Chocolate Funfetti Blondies via Love & Olive Oil

These are soooo pretty and spring-like. And I imagine they’re quite delicious, too.

Italian White Bean Loaf via Clean Eating Veggie Girl

Meatloaf used to make me cringe, but I’ve grown fond of the taste and texture. Nevertheless, I prefer faux bean-based “meatloaf” better than the real stuff. White beans are one of my favorites, so I think this would be wonderful.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Dip via Chocolate Covered Katie

I’m still skeptical about sweet bean-based dips, but this looks and sounds amazing. Oatmeal raisin cookies don’t measure up to chocolate chip (in my opinion), but they are still delicious in their own right, especially in dough form.

Greek Stuffed Deviled Eggs via The Edible Perspective

For some reason, I just am not a fan of the traditional deviled eggs, but these—with the feta, olives, and sundried tomatoes—are certainly intriguing. I might have to try them.

.Reads.

Can Wal-Mart Really Make Organic Food Cheap For Everyone? via NPR

I know many families are able to afford groceries because of Wal-Mart, but at the same time I don’t feel comfortable shopping there regularly. Every now and then, though, I have had to run in their grocery section when in a bind, and I’m actually quite impressed by their produce. The reason I usually buy conventional produce instead of organic is because of cost, and while I don’t agree with Wal-Mart’s hyper-agressive process of driving down prices (from an ethical standpoint; from a business standpoint, they’re geniuses), I did find this article and the goal to make organic products more affordable worth reading.

Are Big Macs Killing the Bees? via Mind Body Green

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is quite frightening, and I’m surprised we don’t hear or read about it more often in the news.

Why It’s Time to Stop Blaming the Media for Body Image Disorders via Greatist

I get the point of this article. Not everybody who has issues with his/her body or dieting is mentally ill. Body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia, etc. are diagnosable mental illnesses that arise because of genetics and upbringing (trauma or other personal experiences), and while the media is responsible for shoving airbrushed images in our faces night and day (and making many of us feel pretty self-conscious and unhappy with our appearances), it can’t be the cause of true eating or body disorders.

How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession via The Daily Beast

Combine this reality with American patients’ lack of understanding of preventative care, eating well, and taking care of our bodies, and U.S. healthcare is pretty much screwed. This isn’t acceptable and is one of the reasons I have endless respect for anybody entering the medical field.

Voodoo Dolls Prove It: Hunger Makes Couples Turn On Each Other via NPR

I caught the end of this segment on the way to work Tuesday, and I thought it was really interesting. I know I’ve been “hangry” a time or two before, and it’s never pretty!

10 Tips → How to make it through your long run via The Hungry Runner Girl

Ok, the most I’ve ever run is 5 miles, but these are really good tips regardless. I’ve found I actually prefer no music while running because I can hear my feet hit the pavement and focus more on my surroundings and how I feel. I do repeat mantras in my head when I feel myself slowing or wanting to stop, and I often break up the run into smaller segments. So much of running is mental!

Runners’ Confessions: The Real Deal on Cheese Dip and other Secret Reasons We Run via BrookKreder.com

Haha. Pretty much any movement—be it running, yoga, just getting out of bed—is because of the promise of food, but I’d say pride—and getting out of my head, chair, etc.—is just as important a reason, too. And running is somewhat fun (though cocktails and pizza are infinitely better).

My Year At A Standing Desk And Why I’ll Never Go Back via Fast Company

I actually found this article by way of another blogger’s Weekly Reads post, but since I’m adamant about moving during the day and have tried (and failed) to create a make-shift standing desk at work, I thought it was worth sharing with my readers (all 6 of you, haha). Maybe pregnancy isn’t the time for me to revisit the standing desk idea (what with possible swelling and such), but you better believe I’ll try to craft one again post-maternity leave. Until then, I’ll continue to walk around every hour or so and stand while blogging at home.

Have a fantastic week, everyone! :-)

Pregnancy: Week 14

Happy Friday—and welcome to the long-anticipated second trimester, or the honeymoon trimester as it’s sometimes called. As usual, I can’t believe it’s already time for another pregnancy update.

Just the other day, I was telling Mark how it still seems surreal that we are actually having a baby. I mean, I’m pretty well aware of the fact that I’m pregnant; my body is certainly changing, and, for the most part, I’m enjoying the stages of pregnancy so far. But when I think about how our lives are about to change drastically and that we’ll be responsible for feeding, clothing, cleaning, teaching, and otherwise keeping alive another human being? I just can’t wrap my head around it quite yet. All in time, I guess.

This past week was a pretty good one. I haven’t had any mood swings, and, overall, I’ve been in a really happy mood. This started before I became pregnant—or knew that I was—but I’ve been more appreciative and aware of the little things in life. Perspective is a beautiful thing, because it shows me daily how amazing my life is. I have the most loving and supportive parents and in-laws in the world, kind neighbors, a steady job, and beautiful surroundings (I’ve found myself taking in the bright azaleas, the canopies of old Spanish-moss covered oak trees, the tranquil bay, etc. more deeply), and, even though my life isn’t necessarily what I’d imagined it would be, it’s mine—and something I wouldn’t change.

I guess we really do become grown-ups at age 30. ;-) Anyway, time for the update.

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What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • He/she is approximately 3 ½ inches long—the size of a lemon
  • He/she can now squint, grown, grimace, pee (um, ok!), and possibly suck his/her thumb
  • His/her body is now growing faster than the head
  • His/her liver has begun making bile and the spleen is helping in the production of red blood cells

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained:

No clue. At last week’s appointment I’d gained around 4 lbs, so since my pants are feeling a little tighter, I’d estimate around 5 lbs total? I guess I’ll find out next Wednesday (or maybe this Sunday, since my parents have a scale).

Workouts:

Monday and Tuesday evening I did a couple of segments from Suzanne Bowen’s Prenatal Barre DVD. It was intense! The arm toning workout really made me burn—even though I was only using 3-lb weights. I’ve also taken my daily 30-minute lunchtime walks everyday this week.

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Symptoms:

Not too many. Possibly some minor round ligament pain? Wednesday and Thursday my left side was a little sore, but that may have been due to the barre workout I did the night before. I was extremely sleepy Wednesday afternoon at work, but my fatigue has improved overall. I’m still feeling pretty bloated after dinner—mostly because I have a case of “clear my plate syndrome” and don’t know how to eat smaller meals and space out my eating. At least I can comfortably conceal the food baby + actual baby with pajama pants and leggings.

Food Aversions:

None, really. Baby Miele is not a picky eater, and I hope it stays that way when he/she is born! ;-)

Food Cravings:

Nothing unusual. I still love fresh fruit, these flaxseed crackers with hummus, and eggs, although I’ve switched up my breakfasts some this week (oatmeal on Wednesday, cinnamon-raisin Ezekiel toast with Sunbutter yesterday). After reading something about pickles Wednesday evening, I did sort of develop a hankering for them (although I didn’t eat any). Can we say #stereotypicalpregnantlady?

Baby/Maternity Purchases:

Nothing this week—although I’m sure that will change soon. I have been pinning nursery decorations and baby clothes like crazy, so if you follow my boards and have no interest in baby stuff, I’m sorry!

Next Prenatal Appointment:

April 23rd for our gender ultrasound!!! Almost everybody we know is adamantly saying “girl,” but my mother seems pretty convinced it’s a boy. I honestly don’t have feelings either way. Girls are so fun to buy for with all the bows (which I vow here and now will be smaller than head-sized!), frilly/lacy dresses, and such, but I’m also kind of obsessed with cute little argyle sweater sets for boys. I mean, who could resist something like this?

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Looking forward to:

Actually feeling the baby move. As I said above, even though I can tell my body is different, it still doesn’t feel like a human being is growing inside me. I’ve been told that since I’m so thin and small, the kicks and such will probably be extremely noticeable. I’m also excited about (the idea of—not the actual task of) registering; once we know the sex, we’ll probably designate a weekend to scope out the goods at Baby’s R Us, Target, etc.

I’m also looking forward to having a legitimate bump rather than an I-can’t-stop-stuffing-my-face-with-cookies pudge! Then maybe the few maternity pieces I’ve bought will look less sloppy and huge on me (although the jeans, which I wore to dinner Wednesday night, fit delightfully).

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • How long into your pregnancy did it take for you to feel truly pregnant?
  • What was your strangest pregnancy craving?
  • Where did you register for baby items—and are there any online baby sites I should know about?

Herbed Goat Cheese, Mozzarella, & Tomato Grilled Cheese

I’m generally a big fan of April. Flowers are in bloom, the weather is still cool and spring-like, it’s Mark’s and my anniversary (#6 this year!), and it’s usually the kickoff of fun outdoor events that carry on into the summer.

But this year, I’m especially fond of April because I’ve learned it’s also National Grilled Cheese Month.

herbed goat cheese, mozzarella, and tomato grilled cheese

A month designated to the ultimate comfort food and big-kid dinner of choice? Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

The only thing that could make this month even better would be my own personal grilled cheese chef.

Since that’s just a dream, I’m here to share my new favorite grilled cheese sandwich. Cheese is glorious, whether it’s fresh mozzarella, smoky gouda, creamy Camembert, or tangy gorgonzola, but I don’t find myself straying far from the classics (cheddar or American) too often.

Last week, though, I decided to freshen things up with a tangy and savory “grown up” grilled cheese made with sourdough, fresh tomatoes (thereby labeling it as a “health food”), and 2 types of cheese.

herbed goat cheese, mozzarella, and tomato grilled cheese

Herbed Goat Cheese, Mozzarella, and Tomato Grilled Cheese

serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 package of spreadable herbed goat cheese
  • 1 large tomato, sliced thinly
  • shredded (or thinly sliced) mozzarella

Directions

  1. Set a skillet or grill pan over medium heat.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread
  3. On the opposite side, spread a thin layer of goat cheese on each slice of bread
  4. Add sliced tomato and mozzarella and top with remaining slice of bread
  5. Grill until each side is golden brown
  6. Slice and serve immediately

herbed goat cheese, mozzarella, and tomato grilled cheese

I think this grilled cheese would go perfectly with a bowl of tomato soup, or it would be equally lovely with a simple side salad. We enjoyed ours with a side of sea salt-flavored Skinny Sticks.

Weekly Links 04.13.14

Hello, there. I hope everybody is having a fabulous, relaxing Sunday.

We’ve had a great weekend; my in-laws arrived Friday night and left this afternoon after a delicious lunch at Ed’s Seafood Shed.

Saturday morning I ran the 8K By The Bay, my first-ever 8K. The fog lifted just before the race started at 8:00, and while the sun was a bit bright and hot, the run was was perfect. I did end up walking a few times, but I finished 54:30, which is actually a faster pace (10:57) than my previous 5Ks.

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We had a lovely dinner at Bonefish Grill with Mark’s and my parents (to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday) and spent some time around the house.

Now it’s laundry and relaxation time. But before I go, here are some good recipes and reads from the week.

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.Recipes.

Roasted Poblano and Corn Oaxaca Grilled Cheese via Spoon Fork Bacon

I might’ve googled “Oaxaca” (evidently, it’s a semi-hard cheese made in Oaxaca, Mexico similar to Monterey Jack but with a string cheese-like texture), but this grilled cheese sounds out of this world. Corn is delicious no matter how you serve it, and I don’t eat poblano peppers nearly often enough

Carrot “Rice” Leek Risotto with Bacon via Inspiralized/Skinnytaste

Carrot “rice?” Genius. I never jumped on the cauliflower “rice” bandwagon (though I did make cauliflower crust pizza a few times), but this is just too intriguing to pass up. And who doesn’t love risotto?

No Bake Double Chocolate Fudge Protein Bites via Running With Spoons

Double chocolate: enough said.

Polenta Tart with Asiago Spinach via Yeah…Imma Eat That

I’m a grits girl at heart, but I love polenta. It’s all just corn anyways. Add some asiago and something healthy and green, and I’m game.

Sausage and Pepper Chipotle Grilled Cheese via Peas and Crayons

This sounds amazing. Mark and I love making sausage pistolettes (with sautéed onion and peppers), but throw it all on a grilled cheese? Even better.

.Reads.

10 Naturally-Calming Foods to Nosh On via Active Beat

Ok, I knew about turkey, turmeric, and certain types of tea, but I had no idea these other foods could help calm me. Interesting, though I’ll probably still comfort myself with chocolate when necessary.

5 Smart Reasons to Eat Eggs via Huffington Post

I’ve always loved eggs, but this just fuels my love for them even more. I had no idea about the benefits they offered during pregnancy, but now I know to listen to my cravings. Guess Mark’s not getting off that easy when it comes to cooking me egg sandwiches in the AM. :-)

My Family Stopped Eating Sugar for a Year and This is What Happened via Yahoo

I’m not a big fan of “all or nothing” diets that take things to the extreme, but there’s no denying that added sugar (I’m talking the kind added to foods like bread, tortillas, etc.) is making us fat and sick. I think sugar is fine in moderation, but this article is definitely worth a read.

Why I Wasn’t Convinced By ‘It Starts With Food’ via Better With Sprinkles

While I haven’t read it for myself (and haven’t considered eating a Paleo or “Whole 30″ type diet), I really appreciated Sam’s honest review of this book. As noted above, I believe just about anything is good in moderation, and having read her review, I don’t believe I’ll ever be interested in such a way of eating.

Gifts of Normalcy via Kenzie Life

I love reading Alex’s thoughtful posts; I almost always can relate. Spring is one of my favorite times of year, for the perfect weather, the vibrant colors of nature, and for the feelings of renewal and rebirth that are always brought to mind. Each one of us could use a reminder to live in the moment, believe that the Universe is on our side, and appreciate both the normalcy and extraordinary challenges in our lives.

The Serious Health Concerns All 20-Somethings Should Know About via Greatist

It scares me how the diagnosis of autoimmune disease seems to have skyrocketed over the years. Everybody should be aware of them and know their common symptoms.

8 Ways Yoga Makes Us Better Human Beings via Active Beat

I believe it, 100%. Oh, how I miss my yoga, though I have managed to carry some of the lessons, emotions, and relaxation techniques with me in my daily routine.

30 Convincing Reasons to Start Running Now via Greatist

My biggest reason? Because I can. The beauty of running is that you don’t have to be a super-fit athlete to do it; start small, even if it’s running for a solid 30 seconds and alternating walking. (Although #5, “Eat more carbs” is pretty convincing, too.)

Myths and Facts: Exercising While Pregnant via US News

This is an older article (2012), but I found it helpful nonetheless. I’m sure some people may frown upon my activity level during pregnancy, but if I ever felt unwell or that I was doing damage to the baby, I’d immediately stop. It’s true, “everything you’re doing for you, you’re doing for the baby.”

10 Tips for Surviving a Summer Pregnancy via Pop Sugar

At first, realizing I’d experience a summer pregnancy filled me with dread, but the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. Sure, it will be unbearably hot in the humid Gulf South while I’m feeling more like a whale than a human, but at least I can wear cute, lightweight dresses and skirts instead of fitting my pregnant belly into a bulky sweater. Summer clothes are cheaper and more comfortable, and I can always crank up the AC, purchase a fan/spritzer to carry around, and drink smoothies and frozen “mocktails” all day if I want. Plus, I’ll have the baby in October, just when the weather is turning cool again, which will be perfect for light exercise (like walking).

Pregnancy: Week 13

I can’t believe it’s time for another pregnancy post! This is my 13th week, which marks the end of the first trimester! I’m still feeling great, and, not to jinx anything, I think I’m out of the woods when it comes to severe morning sickness. Much of my energy is coming back, too.

This upcoming weekend I’m running yet another race: the 8K By The Bay starting and ending at the park by work. I’ve been an awful wanna-be-runner this week, considering I haven’t gone for a run since last weekend’s race! Oops.

I did try some prenatal Pilates after our prenatal appointment, though. That stuff is no joke! I had a few issues since Iggy wanted to give me kisses and give me his bone the whole time, but otherwise, it was a great workout.

Anyway, I’m going to move right into this week’s update.

13-week-pic

What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • he/she is almost 3 inches long—the size of a pea pod
  • fingerprints have formed on his/her tiny fingertips
  • if the baby is a girl, she now has more than 2 million eggs in her ovaries
  • his/her body is finally starting to catch up to the head (which makes up just a third of the body now)

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained:

According to the nurse at my appointment today, I’ve gained 4 pounds, which puts me right on target. While I’m still wearing my “normal” clothes, I have noticed some pants fitting a bit more tightly.

Workouts:

I’ve been lazy this week. It rained early on, so that’s part of an excuse, but other than my prenatal Pilates DVD, I’ve just been enjoying my lunchtime walks. I can’t wait to try the Barre workout next!

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Symptoms:

Some moodiness, definitely, although I do think I’m doing a pretty good job of controlling it. I was in a funk yesterday at work and wanted nothing to do with people or actual work, but I kept it together (while scowling behind my cubicle wall). If I eat too much, too quickly, I have some bloating issues. And then there’s the peeing every 2.75 seconds! ;-) Although my skin is still pretty clear, I have noticed a breakout or two this week. Hopefully I keep that “glow” and my skin cooperates.

Food Aversions:

Nada. I’m very lucky that food in general is appealing to me.

Food Cravings:

Kombucha, which I recently discovered is safe, as long as you were drinking it before becoming pregnant. I really miss wine and beer, although at a blog-related dinner Wednesday night (I’ll share more about the dinner soon!), I did have a glass of wine (I sipped it slowly and left at least ¼ of it (if not more) in the glass (my doctor advised me that an occasional small glass of wine is safe, although I doubt I’ll have more than a sip or two of Mark’s, just because I don’t feel comfortable taking the risk). Although I still crave salty snacks, I’ve been all about the sweets this week: chocolate and cake, particularly. And while I’m not craving them, raw veggies are much more appealing to me than they have been. Thank goodness!

Baby/Maternity Purchases:

Nothing personally, although last weekend we received our first official baby gift: a diaper genie and these adorable Saints clothes that our sweet friends surprised us with.

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Next Prenatal Appointment:

April 24th (2 weeks from today, and 2 days before our anniversary!). Our regular 4-week appointment isn’t until May 8th, but we decided to schedule a gender reveal ultrasound for the 15th week instead of waiting until 20 weeks (which is when the anatomy ultrasound is generally done). Pretty soon we’ll know whether Baby Miele is a boy or a girl!

That’s it for updates. At my doctor’s appointment today, Baby Miele’s heartbeat was 160, which is completely normal. Apparently he/she did a backflip or something while the doctor was using the doppler, which obviously means that no matter what gender, Baby Miele will be a gymnast like his/her mother! :-)

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • Of course we know that alcohol can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, especially if consumed in large doses, but did you ever have the occasional glass of wine during your pregnancy? Or will you, if your doctor deems it ok?
  • Did/will you choose to find out your baby’s gender in advance? How early, if so?

Weekly Links 04.06.14

Hi, there!

I can’t believe it’s already Sunday; this weekend was a lot of fun, but it was also pretty exhausting.

Friday night we went to the school for an alumni happy hour for my husband’s fraternity, and Saturday morning, plenty early but not so bright, I ran the Run of the Hill 5K on campus.

run-of-the-hill-5k

It was freezing and cloudy, but thankfully the rain held off. I ended up walking a couple of times (up small hills) for about 30 seconds at a time, but I finished 34:53 (11:15 pace), which was roughly the same as my last 5K. I was really tired, so I’m 100% happy with my time and have accepted that my new “pregnant woman mile” is about 11 minutes. At least I’m still able to run and enjoy it!

I may have had a minor breakdown late Saturday night (I was so tired!) and Sunday morning, but luckily I never hit full melt-down mode. Being pregnant is tough sometimes, even when I don’t feel very pregnant!

It’s still rainy and cloudy today, which is perfect weather for some weekend reading.

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.Recipes.

Avocado Citrus Crunch Salad with Oat Croutons and Buttermilk Drizzle via How Sweet It Is

I haven’t eaten nearly enough grapefruit this winter (crying shame!), and I feel I should rectify that by making this salad. Oat clusters as croutons? Give them to me.

Banoffee Pie via Brown Eyed Baker

I’ve only made Banoffee pie twice—both single serve “mini” pies, one “normal” and one “healthy”—but it’s something I absolutely adore. Why hasn’t America embraced this British wonder more whole-heartedly?

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie via Edible Perspective

Is this real life? I haven’t been making smoothies lately, but this one is next one my list, for sure. I don’t have any cacao nibs, but I may have to make a special purchase or find a suitable substitute (cocoa powder?).

Nutty Speculoos Butter Truffles via JJBegonia

We don’t have Trader Joe’s nearby, but we do have Biscoff spread—aka, cookie butter. Who knew that cookie butter could be used in other ways than straight from the jar via a spoon? These sound so decadent and delicious, and I think it’s time I buy another jar for this purpose.

Wheat Berries with Caramelized Onions and Pecans via The Endless Meal

This salad screams autumn to me, but it also screams delicious! I’ve never cooked wheat berries before, but since I’m such a big fan of farro—and this looks similar in consistency—I think I’d enjoy them. I love the rustic quality of this salad.

.Reads.

“Clean Eating” – I’m Tired of Feeling Guilty via Clean Eating Veggie Girl

I think every self-labeled “healthy living blogger” has felt this way at one time or another. If you can eat “clean” (which, honestly, has a different meaning to everybody) 100% of the time without feeling deprived, power to you! Like Hannah, I try my best to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, etc. (because I know they’re good for me and because they taste delicious and make me feel better), but I would lose my sanity without processed foods, holiday candy, sugary drinks, or high-calorie baked goods from time to time. And we shouldn’t feel guilty for this! Yes, by calling ourselves “clean eaters” or “healthy living bloggers” we’re taking on extra responsibility by portraying ourselves in certain light to readers, but in the end, we only answer to our own well-being and integrity.

6 Popular Theories About Food That Have Not Yet Been Proven via Huffington Post

This is precisely why I eat a variety of things and don’t label myself as one type of eater over another. Some things are obvious (eating fruits and vegetables more often than refined carbs and unhealthy fats, for instance), but others just haven’t been proven.

10 Surprising Benefits Of: A 10 Minute Walk via WiseBread

There’s no doubt in my mind that walking—be it 10, 20, or 30 minutes—is beneficial; I do it everyday.

Rise & Shine! Morning Light Could Help You Lose Weight via Mind Body Green

This is interesting, but I’m not sure if I buy it. People who get more early morning sun exposure are probably out running or exercising—which would lead to weight loss/lower BMI. Who knows, though?

Should Women Run Marathons While Pregnant? via Runners World

Well, I’m nowhere near being able to run a marathon, but I think this article gives some valid points. I’m still running right now because my body can handle it (and I’ve read that babies born to physically active women often have stronger cardiovascular systems), but once it becomes too burdensome, I’ll stop and resort to walking or lower-impact cardio. Every woman is different, but no matter your fitness level, it’s a good idea to set new, more intensive, goals after the baby is born.

75 Thoughts Every Runner Has While Out for a Run via Buzzfeed

This is hysterical—and pretty accurate!

Let’s Nip This Bikini Body Bullsh*t in he Bud, Shall We? via Fat Girl, PhD

I cringe when people, especially incredibly physically fit people, talk about cutting back to work on their “beach body.” Wear whatever you feel like, as long as you put on a layer of confidence along with it!

I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical via Huffington Post

So, I’ve been clicking on a lot more parenting-related links lately, but this one is a must-read and echoes exactly how I feel about my childhood. I hope I can teach my child the joy of simplicity and that his/her imagination is as vivid as mine was.

Have a great week, everyone!

Pregnancy: Week 12

Happy Friday! I’m not sure whether it’s a good or bad thing, but these weeks keep flying by. Although a couple of days at work were slow, I had a really fantastic week. I’m feeling close to 100% (I don’t think it’s possible to feel completely oneself during pregnancy), I haven’t had any hormone-fueled breakdowns, and I’m still eating everything in sight—or wanting to, at least.

I’m excited for this evening’s alumni event at school; my husband is on the board of both the alumnae and collegiate chapters of his fraternity, so he’s been busy planning events for that. I just hope the expected rainy weather doesn’t dampen the fun too much.

Anyway, it’s time for another update. :-)

What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • He/she is approximately 2 inches long—or the size of a lime
  • Reflexes are developing: fingers will soon begin to open and close, toes will curl, eye muscles will clench, and the mouth will make sucking movements
  • Nerve cells are growing rapidly and synapses are forming in the brain
  • His/her face is starting to look unquestionably human

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained:

If my parents’ scale is correct, then I’ve gained around 2 pounds, which would be right on target for the first trimester (most people gain from 2 to 5 lbs). I guess I’ll find out for sure next Thursday at my next pre-natal appointment (April 10th)—but if my snug pants are any indication, then I’m correct.

Workouts:

Walking has been my movement of choice! I’m still feeling quite a bit of fatigue day-to-day, but every now and then I’ll have a burst of energy. This past Sunday, we took Iggy for a walk at Bayfront Park (he was not a fan of the water!) and through downtown, and the weather has been beautiful all week long for my lunchtime walks. I’m running another 5K this weekend at Spring Hill, so I’ve taken a couple of 2-3 mile jogs to prepare. I’m also planning to run an 8K (yes, I’m insane) the following weekend. And apparently I can still do handstands.

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Symptoms:

Fatigue is the main one (might as well rest while I can, I guess!), and while I’ve been sleeping normally for the most part, I did wake up early Tuesday morning, tossing and turning until my alarm went off. Who knows if that was pregnancy-related? Sunday night I had some slight heart-burn (nothing terrible—and my mom’s red beans & rice was certainly worth it), and I’m still a little burpy. I’m still a little bloated some days, and I think it’s because I’m eating too much at once. I might eat smaller meals and bulk up my snacks to keep me full—but not stuffed.

Food Aversions:

None, really. Carbs are still much more appealing than raw veggies (though I did eat a couple of delicious salads this week), but I’ll eat almost anything these days.

Food Cravings:

Much of the same as last week: eggs (loving the hubs for making me egg sandwiches every morning to take to work!), pizza (I’m so psyched we’re having pizza at Picklefish this weekend—it’s a tradition when certain friends are in town), fresh pineapple (and fruit in general), and orange juice. Saturday was awesome because we satisfied 2 cravings of the day: Chik-fil-A and Marble Slab ice cream. I had a random craving Sunday afternoon for a milkshake, but I satisfied it with the next best thing: chocolate milk. While I’m trying to eat healthy and balanced meals during the week, all bets are off on the weekends. :-)

Baby/Maternity Purchases:

I’m holding off on baby stuff until we know the gender, but I did buy some maternity jeans and a cute chambray top this past Saturday (and a $6.98 fitted T-shirt and cute dress at Target when I had to go buy a new hair dryer, go figure). The jeans are more flattering on me than my regular ones (and the length is perfect), but finding dress pants/capris for work is going to be a challenge unless my butt/thighs grow 4 times larger than my belly. :-(

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For the record, strap-on “tummies” are seriously awkward. 

Well, that’s all for now. I’m sure that once I hit the 2nd trimester, I’ll have a whole lot more to share!

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • At what point did you start wearing maternity clothes?
  • I’m about to enter the 2nd trimester: what’s one thing I should be doing right now?

Taking a Break from Bikram…

I didn’t want to do it, but after learning of my pregnancy, I thought it best to take an indefinite break from my beloved Bikram yoga.

My last practice was February 9th, the day before my 30th birthday, since I purposely wanted to end my twenties with quality time in the hot room.

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Looking back, I now realize my body was undergoing some changes that affected my ability to hold and move deeply into certain postures.

A few times in February, my balance was off. I still held most postures well, but occasionally I couldn’t keep myself from flailing all over the place! It was frustrating, but I’d attributed it to setting up in different locations (than my usual front row) and having a cluttered mind.

During pranayama and other postures, I noticed that I couldn’t suck in my stomach as tightly as usual. I didn’t really think much of it; my stomach felt firmer, but I just assumed it was muscle.

The most obvious change, however, appeared during the floor series. While lying on my stomach for cobra, locust, and bow, I couldn’t help but notice a little more “cushion” beneath my chest. Over the last few months, both Mark and I noticed “the girls” had shrunk a little (apparently that’s where my weight loss—or gain—occurs!). And while I can’t pinpoint the day, it seemed like they had perked up significantly overnight! I was not complaining, but I did find it strange. Parts of the floor series, though not painful, were a bit uncomfortable due to tenderness.

It all made sense once I took that pregnancy test.

Even though I’d been practicing often for the first 5 weeks (not knowing I was pregnant), I didn’t feel comfortable continuing the remainder of the first trimester. Because there are so few legitimate medical studies on the safety of Bikram early in pregnancy—and because I was still dealing with the shock, stress, and fear of actually being pregnant—I tearfully drove to the studio on February 13th and asked to suspend my account.

surprises

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My former doctor (whom I never really felt comfortable with after 7 years of visits) did not even know what Bikram yoga was, so she offered no reassurance.

(Side note: This had nothing to do with yoga, but I’ve since found a new doctor whom I absolutely adore after just one visit. My old one is, I’m sure, a brilliant doctor and good person, but her attitude and bedside manner were not compatible with my personality. I trusted my instinct and started researching other local OB-GYNs after my first appointment, and I’m so relieved I listened to my gut.)

The owner of the studio was very understanding, and shared information on a former yogi (and OB-GYN) who practiced before, during, and after her own pregnancy with zero complications. Still, I was too overwhelmed to do anything else but take a break.

After doing some of my own research and talking to my current doctor about my practice, she agreed that it was safe to start back after the first trimester. Naturally, she’s advised me to take it easy, stay hydrated, modify potentially dangerous postures like stomach compressions (which is done so anyway), and just make sure I’m comfortable in the heat more than anything.

Hatha yoga is completely safe during pregnancy (that’s why prenatal yoga exists!); the question with Bikram is the heat. Nevertheless, the room is heated to no more than 105º Fahrenheit, with 40-50% humidity, making it more comfortable than a steamy August day in coastal Alabama! It’s not like a sauna or hot tub (which are off-limits during pregnancy), because a yogi’s internal body temperature rises only a degree or so.

With all those considerations, I’m still not 100% certain whether I will return to Bikram during my pregnancy. The staff are kind, encouraging, and understanding, and they have been trained in the modified pregnancy yoga that Bikram’s wife, Rajashree, developed; if/when I do return, I’m sure they will go over the modifications with me, ensure I have a cool spot near the door, and help keep an eye on me so that I take it easy.

As selfish as it sounds, one of my first thoughts after confirming my pregnancy was that I would have to give up Bikram. To me, this yoga is more than an exercise routine. It’s truly a form of meditation and a spiritual/mental journey. It’s my own form of therapy, no talking required. After months of struggling with low self-esteem and feeling ugly and incapable in my own skin, Bikram helped transform me, albeit slowly, into a stronger, more optimistic, more confident, less anxious, less self-critical, and more caring person. It benefits me, and, as a result, it benefits my relationships.

inner-peace

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I truly believe this yoga has helped prepare me for pregnancy, motherhood, and an entirely new, exciting, and transformational period of my life, and I believe it will continue to do so, even if I take a break indefinitely. Bikram isn’t going anywhere—and it will be there when I’m ready to return.

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • If you’re a Bikram yogi, did you (or would you) continue your practice throughout pregnancy?
  • If not, what were your main concerns?