Posts Tagged ‘diet’

Ten Tips for Postpartum Fitness: Part 2

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Ten tips for postpartum fitnessAfter the birth of a baby many women are eager to feel strong, healthy, and fit. Although it is often overwhelming to know where to even start; especially when you look into the mirror and see a body you don’t recognize as your own. Additionally you are busy adjusting to having a new family member to care for and it can be hard to find the time and/or motivation even when the desire to exercise is very strong. Remind yourself that you ARE worth it AND that being healthy is a highly valuable aspiration. Investing time and energy into your health has a positive impact on both you as an individual and your entire family.

A while back I shared some Simple Postpartum Fitness tips. Here are a few more important tips to get you started.

Nutrition Counts
Honor your body by feeding it nutritionally dense (and of course delicious!) foods. I cannot emphasize this enough. Exercise is only a percentage of the equation to being healthy and fit. Your food choices will greatly impact your energy levels and your results. Keep in mind though that a healthy diet is not at all about deprivation. It is about nourishing your body with the optimal fuel it needs to function at its very best! Focus on a clean diet consisting of whole foods rather than worrying about calories, fat content, etc.

Sleep is Essential
Another HUGE piece of the puzzle is sleep. Study after study show that exercising when you are sleep deprived holds very little benefit. Your body needs adequate sleep in order to restore, regulate, and balance itself. Hormone levels are especially effected by sleep and when our hormone levels are off, a myriad of issues can ensue. In other words proper sleep trumps exercise! BUT one thing to keep in mind is that exercising actually HELPS you sleep better. So there is definitely a reciprocal relationship to the two elements of a healthy lifestyle and finding your balance is key. I know for about the first six month postpartum if I had the option between taking a 30 minute nap or exercising, I often chose the nap. At first there was a little bit of guilt associated with that, but I kept reminding myself that sleep was just as important to my health as exercise.

Practice Functional Fitness
What does this mean? You don’t have to spend countless hours at the gym or on a treadmill to be active. Instead embed activity into your everyday rhythms and routines. Simple changes can make a big difference! One easy place to start is simply walking more. Are there places you go on a regular basis that you could walk to instead of drive? Do you have a friend you can meet up with to take walks together? As a family can you take an evening or weekend? We got into the habit of taking a family walk together shortly before bedtime. My older boys ride their bikes or scooters, while the little one is in the carrier or stroller.  This has seriously increased our family wellness tenfold! Hubby and I get time to chat about our day and the boys get some fresh air and exercise right before bed (and I feel they are sleeping really well because of it!). With the winter approaching we might need to find a new rhythm, but remember that’s all part of life; being able to roll with it and adapt to the seasons of life. Which brings me to the next tip…

Focus on What You are Already Doing Right
It is easy to focus on where we feel we are falling short. Maybe you missed a workout or indulged too much over the weekend? Don’t sweat it! Seriously, just move forward. The negative energy and/or stress you place on yourself is not worth it and is counterproductive to your health. Focus on all the wonderful and great things you ARE doing! Maybe you took a walk with your baby. Or played tag with your older kids at the park while your baby napped. Or nappe with your baby. Or enjoyed a healthy meal with your family. Honor and celebrate whatever positive things you are doing for yourself. A positive mindset feeds your spirit and leads to abundant wellness. Each season in life brings you new opportunities, so embrace them fully!

Love Yourself
Don’t worry about what your neighbor who had a baby 8 days after you is doing. Don’t worry about what that celebrity on the cover of People magazine who just had a baby is doing. Focus on you. Look at your own body with loving eyes. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Appreciate all the amazing things your body has done and will continue to do. You grew a baby. You birthed a baby. You have nurtured LIFE! I made a commitment to myself that any time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror I would smile and appreciate my reflection exactly as it was. It may sound kind of hokey, but that made all the difference for me. Stop any self-loathing about your postpartum body. Immediately! Your journey is unique to you. Be patient and curious about what your path to wellness will hold.

Sarah is a crunchy mama to four boys. Her family feels blessed to currently live abroad in the Netherlands and enjoy exploring all it has to offer.  She blogs about health, nutrition, and exercise at fitafter.com

Best Foods for Nursing

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Best Foods for NursingNursing is such a special time in your motherhood journey. Along with working on latch, positioning and learning to relax to release milk, learning what foods are best for milk production can help improve health and quality of your milk supply.

First let’s clear up a few terms: lactogenic foods are foods which help in the secretion of the lactation hormones estrogen, oxytocin and prolactin. They are also called galactagogues. The main function of a galactagogue is to help promote milk production, but in order for milk to be at its peak performance the body has to be properly hydrated and have fiber. One of the main characteristics of galactagogues is high fiber content to help the body move nutrients through your system and produce adequate and quality milk.

Oatmeal is one of the most common foods, since its high fiber, calming and comforting. Oatmeal helps with regulating blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and provides moms with a relaxing comfort food that can help produce oxytocin and promote letdown.

Spinach and leafy greens also help with production, offering a tasty way to fill your need for calcium, iron, folate and Vitamins K and A. They also contain phytoestrogens: plant-based chemicals that behave similar to estrogens help promote healthy breast tissue and lactation.

Carrots are a lesser-known galactagogue, offering nursing mothers a boost of energy as an afternoon snack. My favorite way of getting my carrots is as an afternoon juice to help boost milk production for the evening. They are high in betcarotene and Vitamin A. Papaya is another lesser-known galactagogue here in the states but is commonly used in Latin America and Asia. Papaya helps promote relaxation and has a natural sedative in it.

Brown Rice, much like oatmeal, is a great grain for nursing. It is a complex carbohydrate which helps fill the body while providing extra fiber. Research has found that eating brown rice causes an increase in serotonin levels, which in turn helps promote prolactin secretion.  Prolactin is the key hormone in milk production.

And let’s not forget protein! Salmon is a key and wonderful source of Omega 3 fatty acids and essential fatty acids–both are essential for healthy milk production and brain development.

Let’s not forget to drink lots of water, snack on wonderful almonds and keep nursing those hungry babies to help them grow grow grow!

Happy Nursing Mamas!

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom to three (!) crazy little boys aged five, three and 10 months. A trained chef, she loves to cook for all her hungry boys in Portland, Oregon

 

 

 

Tasty Tuesday: Kale Smoothie

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

I confess, I am a bit obsessed with kale and finding new, exciting (and tasty) ways to include in my family’s diet. My kids are so used to me putting kale into their food, my 5 year old even asked me if I put kale into his pancakes the other day. Although I assured him there was no kale in his pancakes, he didn’t believe me. “Why are they a funny color then?” he inquired. They were admittedly kind of a funny color but kale was not the culprit this time; the pancakes had blueberries in them. I did however serve the blueberry pancakes with a kale smoothie. ;)

We are on vacation right now which makes eating the way I prefer to eat a challenge…in other words I suck at being vegan right now. Although we did travel with our blender (a true sign of a blender addict) so smoothies have my redemption! Plus they are a cool and refreshing treat during the hot summer weather. This kale smoothies has been a particular recent favorite of mine:

Ingredients:

1.5 cups coconut milk

1/4 cup frozen mango

1/4 cup frozen pineapple

1/2 frozen banana (fresh is fine too, I just prefer it frozen)

1 date, pitted (optional, but I tend to include it, especially if I am giving some to the kids)

2 tablespoons hemp seed

3-4 de-stemmed pieces of kale

Directions:

Blend on high for at least two minutes or until kale is completely blended smooth (you don’t want little chunks of kale in your smoothie). This recipe makes enough to share!

Two quick tips for awesome smoothies:

1. Green smoothies tend to blend best when liquid is on the bottom and greens are on the to, so put your liquid (milk, milk alternative, water, etc) in first and your greens in last.

2. If you have bananas that are about to spoil, peel them, half them, throw them in a plastic baggie, and pop them in the freezer. Then when you want to add a banana to a smoothie, you have a sweet frozen banana ready to go! (extra ripe means extra sweet!).

What do you like to include in your smoothies? Any favorites you want to share? Would love to hear what others are blended up these days! :)

-Sarah

3 Simple Pre-Conception Preparations

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Congratulations! You are thinking about getting pregnant! :) The period in a couple’s life when they are hoping to expand their family is certainly an exciting time. While it may be a little ways away for your family, there are things you can do in advance to optimally prepare your body for carrying new life and it’s never to early to start!

Make Healthy Food Choices: Nutrition is probably the number one most important thing you can do to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. The awesome part of this is that it is something you can completely control; what you put into your body is 100% yours to decide! Of course eating well is important for everyone no matter what phase of life, but it is especially important for women during their childbearing years. If you want to make changes to your current diet, my suggestion would be to ease into it. Drastic dietary changes are often only temporarily sustainable efforts. Perhaps start by simply adding more whole foods into your diet? One idea might be to start your morning with a green smoothie? It’s a really easy way to get in a ton of nutrients. Another factor that influences healthy food choices and the relationship we have with food, is the common belief/misconception that healthy foods don’t taste good. If you believe that then you are less likely to select a healthy food and go straight for the junk foods which you know tastes good, right? Who woudn’t choose something yummy over something bland and tasteless? Eating is supposed to be a pleasurable experience! However I assure you eating healthy can be delicious, succulent, invigorating, and pure decadence! If what is healthy to you is boring, perhaps experiment more with foods and flavors? You might also try imposing more mindfulness into meals as described in this post. Another mental shift in eating is to focus on how foods make you feel after consuming them; really looking inward and examining how your body responds to foods. You might discover that healthy foods help you feel more vibrant and energetic as well as provide clarity of mind.  By attributing those positive qualities to the foods we use to fuel our bodies, we change our relationship with food. No longer does a donut look appealing…it starts to look like something that is going to make you feel heavy, sluggish, and unfulfilled. By changing the way you eat before getting pregnant, you are filling your body with optimum nutrients needed to grow and nourish a healthy baby. And you are setting yourself up for continued healthy food choices during pregnancy and postpartum. Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding are a lot of work for your body and properly fueling your body can positively impact all three!

Increase water consumption: While this goes hand in hand with healthy eating, it is definitely worthy enough of separate mention. Water is quite healing and restorative to our bodies. Through large consumption of water we can help remove toxins from our body. One great way to start your day is to drink a large glass of water upon awakening. You have likely went 8 hours or so through the night without consuming any water so your body would graciously welcome a large glass of water each morning. Try to figure out a way throughout the day to have water readily available and accessible to you. Often this means carrying a water bottle with you. Investing in a quality water bottle that is easy to fill, clean, and drink from is definitely worthwhile as it is likely to directly impact how  much water you consume. By increasing water consumption during the pre-conception period, you are setting the stage to do so during your pregnancy. Staying properly hydrated during pregnancy can actually prevent some pretty serious medical issues. Something as simple as drinking water can change the course of your pregnancy, so bottoms up! :)

Be Active/Exercise: Again when you consider how much work carrying and birthing a baby is on your body, having a healthy strong body becomes even more important. If the idea of exercise means going to the gym and hating every minute of it, then of course you won’t be motivated to do it. However if you open yourself to the idea that there are hundreds of different ways to be active, you might find a type of exercise you actually enjoy such as hiking, biking, roller-blading, skiing, running, dancing, power-walking, yoga, volleyball, softball, tennis, swimming, surfing, etc. If exercise is infused into a recreational hobby, it becomes less of a ‘chore’ and something you are actually passionate about and willingly/happily devote time to. In addition to the direct health benefits of exercise, by engaging in physical activities we become more attune with our bodies which obviously carries great advantages during pregnancy and childbirth.

What are some ways you prepared for pregnancy? Would love to hear your ideas!

-Sarah

Basic Postpartum Survival Guide

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Welcoming a new baby in your life is an exciting time! Although it is also a time of significant transition as you adjust to life with baby. Here are some basic tips to help you through the early postpartum days.

Prepare food in advance
After the birth of my first, I was completely unprepared at how hungry I would be from breastfeeding. He was born right after Halloween which meant there were leftover bags of candy all over the house. I’m pretty sure I ate more candy that first week of his life than I had in the past several years. It was quick and easy to grab a handful of candy; plus it provided an instant burst of energy.Although it sounds like I am advocating a postpartum candy diet, I assure you I am not. What I learned from that experience was the importance of preparing healthy snacks and meals in advance so they are readily available when hunger strikes.

One easy way to have ready-to-eat postpartum meals is to freeze several during the final weeks of your pregnancy. You can double up on recipes, serving one for dinner and freezing the other for later. When I was pregnant with my second child, I spent the final weeks of my pregnancy stocking my freezer. It was wonderful after baby was born to open the freezer and have an array of healthy choices.

Rest whenever possible
I am sure you have heard by now the importance of “sleeping when baby sleeps” and it’s because new mommies need plenty of rest. Your body needs to heal and restore from birth. Your body is using extra energy to produce milk for your baby. And chances are your little one is waking up every 2-3 hours around the clock to nurse. It’s no wonder moms are so tired! Be sure to rest when the opportunity arises. When you have older children and a newborn, it’s a lot more difficult to sleep when baby sleeps. In that case hiring a postpartum doula or mother’s helper might be something you consider to allow yourself the opportunity to rest during the day.

Daddy napping with baby

 

Accept help when offered
Often the arrival of a new baby means lots of visitors who are excited to meet the new family member. It might feel joyous to share this excitement with others; however it can be exhausting if you are playing the role of hostess to your visitors. As woman we are accustom to nurturing others, but as a mom of a newborn allow yourself to be nurtured. Often visitors will ask “do you need anything?” Don’t be shy to reply with a “yes” and a specific task like loading the dishwasher, changing loads of laundry, or making a snack for your older children. It can be hard to ask for or accept help from others when you are used to functioning independently.

With my firstborn I struggled with even identifying my needs let alone conveying them to others. Sometimes well intending loved ones would offer to hold baby so I could have a break or get some things done. After a few times of taking their suggestion and passing over baby, I quickly realized that I didn’t need or want a break from holding him. Rather I wanted company and help around the house while I relaxed and held/nursed my baby. Most visitors genuinely want to be helpful so it’s okay to openly express what would you need or want from them.

Seek Professional Support if Needed
There are so many emotions during the early postpartum days and significant hormonal changes occurring. Coupled with sleep deprivation it’s not surprising many women cry easily and often during this time. While a certain amount of weepiness is within the realm of typical postpartum emotions, there are times it extends beyond what a woman can manage herself. If you at all have concerns about your emotional state, please don’t hesitate to seek professional support. Contacting your maternal health care provider (OB, midwife, etc) is usually a good starting point to access resources.

What helped you survive the early postpartum days? What tips or suggestions would you give to a new mom?

New parents often wonder will I ever sleep again?!? Check out tomorrow’s post about night-time parenting for more information about adjustment to infant sleep patterns.

-Sarah