This Busy Mom's Favorite "Uh Oh I Forgot to Cook" Snack

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All ideas, recipes, & opinions are entirely my own however, this is a sponsored post on behalf of wholesome brands, Vans Simply Delicious® & Wallaby® Organic.

While in Anchorage for Labor Day, I took advantage of shopping at my favorite store – Target! I had been searching for months for a new rug and lamps for our living room and wasn’t finding anything in Fairbanks. I also love going there to stock up on things I love that I can’t get locally.

I’m constantly looking for new food items to try. The selection in Fairbanks isn’t terrible, but it certainly doesn’t compare to the amount of foods I had available to me in the lower 48.

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I try to keep feeding myself, and my son, fairly simple; minimally processed foods, as much color as possible (fruits and veggies), and limited sugar. I also favor things that don’t require a lot of prep work or cooking. I try to do some food prep on the weekends but that isn’t always possible (like when I’m in Anchorage all weekend!) so I rely on quick and healthy meals during the week.

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I picked up some Van’s Simply Delicious and Wallaby Organic at Target to keep around for those “uh oh I forgot to make something for lunch or dinner for myself” moments. This happens at least 3-4 times a week when I don’t food prep.

As a vegetarian, Greek yogurt is one of my favorite sources of protein, and I specifically stick to brands that have minimal added sugar. Both Van’s and Wallaby Organic have limited sugar, lots of delicious flavors and are gluten free.

By adding some Van’s granola to the Wallaby Organic Greek Yogurt, I have a hearty snack that will keep me full until the next meal. The chocolate cereal on blueberry yogurt is amazing. Banana granola on strawberry is equally satisfying. I definitely have a sweet tooth so it’s nice to satisfy that craving with protein packed yogurt. #liveconsciouseatdelicious

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Not only that - but this stuff is delicious. My Mom would have granola on yogurt often when they were here visiting in May, but I never got into it until now. I’m the kind of person that has to have a ‘crunch’ to my food to feel full. So the toppings make this for me!

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Before you go to Target snag a Van's and Wallaby coupon on cartwheel! @vansfood @wallabyyogurt

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Our Experience with Baby-Led Weaning

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by ALDI through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about The Little Journey product line, all opinions are my own. I will start off by sounding totally cliché – I can’t believe my son will be one next week! The last year has been a beautiful, sleep-deprived blur.

While I was pregnant, I read everything I could on all issues relating to raising a baby. Vaccinate or not? Baby wear? Cloth diaper? Baby-led weaning?

Deciding to do baby-led weaning was one of the best decisions we made in regards to our son. It has been so much fun watching him try new foods, and he eats like a champ now! He will literally eat whatever I put on his plate. Curried lentils, pasta with roasted garlic sauce, pesto egg muffins, steak and sweet potato fries, anything with banana … the kid can put some food back.

While I try to cook from scratch as much as possible for him, that’s not always possible. Like most new moms, I’m busy. I work 20+ hours from home, I teach local boot camp and yoga classes, I work out a few days a week myself, I try to do one ‘fun’ thing with baby every day (trip to the library, picnic at the park, etc.) and I try to still have some ‘me’ time to read, play games, or just relax.

I was excited when ALDI sent me a box full of fun baby products to try out – including some healthy snack foods that are perfect to throw in his diaper bag when we are headed out for the day. The products are part of their first full line of baby products, Little Journey.

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Aside from the convenience factor, I really, really like having things like the Veggie Little Munchers® around, as they are so much easier to clean up! Since baby feeds himself, it means at least half of the food ends up on the floor or in his hair. Any night we have pasta or Mexican it’s automatically a bath night.

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I’m slightly embarrassed to say I ended up eating the rest of these Little Munchers® myself. They are so good! They are a baked, whole grain corn snack, easy to chew and swallow. I’d buy them just to snack on. The strawberry Yogurt Bites were just as good (and made with real fruit and yogurt with no preservatives, live and active cultures). Poor baby didn’t get more than a few of those before Travis and I got our hands on them.

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While pregnant, I read that the more flavors and textures you can introduce to your child before the age of one, the better eaters they will be later on. So, I’ve tried to cover every type of ethnic cuisine possible, and usually grab one new fruit or veggie to try every week. Aside from our daily walks or picnics outside, I’d say cooking for him and watching him try new things is my favorite thing to do with him.

What was your baby’s favorite food at one year old?

Hiking at Alyeska: The Scariest Hike of My Life

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While in Anchorage for Labor Day weekend we decided to take a little side trip to Alyeska Ski Resort. The resort is about an hour outside of Anchorage and to get there you take Seward Highway. It's the most scenic road I've ever been on and both times we have been to Anchorage it's been one of the highlights of our trip. When we got to Alyeska we took the tram up to the top of the mountain. The views were incredible!

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They had a small gift shop/museum and two restaurants. There were plenty of hiking trails and we took a short one up to the top of a nearby summit. It was only half a mile but an incredibly steep incline. We facetimed our families from the top and gave them a peek at the amazing scenery.

There wasn't much else to do up at the top, but we weren't ready to take the tram back down to the hotel. So, we decided to hike down. At the time it sounded like a great idea. On the way up the tram operator mentioned the hike was 2.2 miles and 2000 feet of elevation. Shortly after starting down I realized what an intense hike it was going to be.

This is me about one mile into the hike. You can see the hotel down below. IMG_6855

I'm a fairly high anxiety person. I legit felt like one misstep and I'd start falling of the side of the mountain. It was the most beautiful hike I'd ever been on, and the most stressful.IMG_6860 IMG_6784

I have excessive arm swagger while hiking. IMG_6858

It is so surreal to think that we are in Alaska. It still doesn't feel like it's real. Living in Fairbanks doesn't feel like 'real Alaska.' We don't have views anywhere close to this. We have one hill. Literally. IMG_6787

There were a few small streams on the hike and patches of Fall colors. IMG_6793

I was graceful AF during the steep parts. I really need to invest in real hiking shoes. I always just wear my running shoes and end up sliding all over the place. Even Travis slid a few times so it isn't entirely my lack of hiking skills. IMG_6846

At one point my phone slipped out of my hand and my first thought was, "well I'm never seeing that phone again." Thankfully it only rolled down a few feet and I was able to slide down and grab it. IMG_6853

The whole hike took about 90 minutes. Baby went through periods of saying "oh, wow" for ten minutes straight and napped for a while at the end. We saw a lot of other people hiking with their kids in backpacks.

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Once we got back to the resort we grabbed some snacks for the road and checked out the shopping. Travis said it was the nicest hotel he had ever been in. I looked at the room rates and they weren't too bad. The hotel we stayed at in Anchorage was $120 a night and rooms at the resort started at $150 so we may plan another trip back in the Spring to try hiking up the trail next time. IMG_6807

What's the scariest hike you've done?

Labor Day Weekend in Anchorage

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We are back from another whirlwind weekend in Anchorage! Little man is becoming quite the traveler with all these cross country flights and road trips. He does pretty well while traveling, but sleep is certainly a struggle when we are away from home. If anyone would like some baby travel tips let me know! I'm obviously not an expert but we've racked up enough miles with him that I've learned a few tricks along the way. After leaving Fairbanks early Friday morning we arrived in Anchorage around 3 p.m. (after a quick stop at the Target in Wasilla.) Our favorite hotel is Springhill Suites at University Lake. The rooms are huge (a separate living area and two bathrooms) and the views are incredible. There is a small lake behind the property with a great trail. The hotel is on university property so it's in a great part of town.

Travis is obsessed with fishing lately so he wanted to stop by Ship Creek observation point to see if we could watch any fisherman bringing their catch in. We might have just missed salmon season so we didn't see anyone out, but baby loved putting his hand in the water.

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Travis brought his fishing rod so we found this great lake and trail system he could fish at while baby and I played.

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On Saturday we headed to Aleyksa ski resort. I'll post a picture heavy recap of the epic hike we did tomorrow, but here's a peek at what our breakfast looked like that day. The breakfast at the hotel is amazing (and this is in no way sponsored by the hotel - we just genuinely love it!)

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I always bring a small cooler full of food for the road, but we still eat out a lot while traveling. With baby I try to think of places that would have some healthy-ish options that he could feed himself with. Subway ended up being a great idea! They have kids meals, and he loved every bit of it.

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On the way back from Alyeska we stopped at a river on the side of the road for Travis to fish. The trail to the river was intense! It was so narrow we were crouching down trying to walk through the trees and bushes. Baby kept saying "wow" over and over. I'm so glad that's one of the few words he knows.

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The little hike was worth it when we saw the river! Last time we were in Anchorage there was still snow all over the mountains (in May) so it was fun seeing it during a different season. The fall colors last about two weeks here before the snow comes so we had perfect timing.

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On Sunday we stopped by the Anchorage Museum to let baby burn of energy before getting back in the car for six hours. I read online that they had a great children's area but I was blown away by how much they actually had there! We spent almost two hours just in the children's area and baby had so much fun.

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There was a least a dozen hands on science exhibits, and this huge play area.

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This will be a stop every time we are back in Anchorage!

While I love visiting a 'big city' Anchorage is not without it's problems. There is a huge homeless population there, and the crime rate is rapidly rising. There have been three double homicides within the last few months. In every case there is no known relationship between the victims, and they are always found in the early morning along a trail in a park. The police actually issued a statement a few days before we got to town urging residents to not go outside along at night. The FBI is now involved in trying to figure out what is going on.

On Friday night Travis was looking for a spot to fish and he pulled up at a creek entrance right behind a residential area. There were a few guys sitting in the grass by the river, who just looked totally suspect to me. I told Travis the place felt sketch as hell, but he told me I was being paranoid. He drove down and turned back to find a parking spot, and right next to the parking lot a woman pulled her pants and underwear down and just sat her bare butt in the grass. That was enough to keep us moving along!

The shopping is great in Anchorage (I stocked up on Bath & Body works candles and got a few items for my living room makeover) but next time we are planning to try out a new area in Alaska. We only have two more years left here, and so much more to explore!

10 Low Carb Snack Ideas for Fat Loss

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This is a sponsored post from Silver Fern Brand.

Since discovering carb cycling six months ago I’ve been eating low carb one or two days a week to maximize fat loss. Previously, I cringed when I saw most low carb diets since they require you to eat very, very little carbs indefinitely.

Your body needs carbs! Carbs are good! By just throwing in two low carb days a week I’m able to maintain the 5 pound weight loss I experienced from six weeks of carb cycling that brought me back down to pre-pregnancy weight.

Thanks to finding a few vegetarian low carb snacks I love I truly look forward to low carb days.  Here are a few staples that I keep around to help make low carb days enjoyable!

  • Nuts: I seriously eat about two pounds of nuts a week. Cashews, pecans, peanuts … I don’t discriminate!
  • Nut butter: see above. I can eat ¼ of a jar of peanut butter in one sitting!
  • Cheese: Full fat, non-processed, cheese.
  • Pumpkin seeds: One of the few zero carb choices out there
  • Olives: I recently started eating olives again and can’t believe I haven’t been eating them more often! My son just tried black olives this week and he loves them.
  • Hard boiled eggs: I’ll sprinkle some pink salt and pepper on them and a few will keep me full for hours
  • Avocado: I’ll sprinkle some salt and pepper on this as well and spoon it out
  • Red pepper strips and hummus
  • Protein shakes
  • Zero sugar brownies: YES. This is real.
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Many of the health coaches I network with have started talking about Silver Fern Brand products. I was excited to try them out as their ingredients are so clean and healthy.

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The German Chocolate Brownies have zero sugar and only 2 net carbs. Best of all – I ate two of them fresh out of the oven and literally felt so full I couldn’t eat any more even if I wanted to. They are packed with fiber and protein so they really fill you up and satisfy sweet cravings without the sugar spike (and crash) that you normally get from sweets.

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I also tried the Blueberry Muffins and, for the first time in my life, I may have liked muffins more than brownies. I've noticed a bit more energy this past week and I think it's due to not having as much sugar since I've been getting my fix without actually having any!

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Silver Fern Brand also makes probiotics, and I have been taking these for a few weeks now. Probiotics are linked with everything from lowering anxiety to helping weight loss so I strongly recommend all of my personal training clients take some.

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With all of this delicious food to indulge in I look forward to low carb days now! All the nuts, peanut butter, and brownies a girl can eat? Sign me up. {Free elevated plan from Silver Fern Brand here!}

What is your favorite low carb snack?

I Can't Believe This is Happening Already ...

Well, I can't believe these two things are happening already. My son got his first birthday present this week, and Fall colors are starting to appear!

I wanted to get my son something fun to play on outside for his first birthday. I searched online and every store either charged $100 to ship it to Alaska, or wouldn't ship it at all. For the last few weeks I've been stalking the local buy, sale, trade groups on Facebook for large outside toys. Since they are so hard to find up here anytime someone posted one they were snatched up immediately.

Finally, I scored! This set was only $60 and baby boy loves it!

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He's already learned how to slide down the slide by himself. He even puts his hands up in the air as he goes down, and plops onto his butt on the grass at the end. It's so freaking cute.

Hopefully he will be able to enjoy it for a while as the highs next week are already going to be in the low 50's! The trees are starting to turn colors. This will be the first time I live anywhere that has an actual Fall. Everyone here says the Fall colors are beautiful, but only last for a week. IMG_6351

The only thing that has sucked lately are the damn mosquitoes. They are everywhere. Everyone warned us about them before we moved up here, but they weren't that bad all Summer. Then, when we got back from Ohio, they were 10x worse then they'd ever been. The moment we go outside they are swarming us. Alaska Mosquito

The locals say it's not usually this bad, but because we had the second wettest Summer on record they are worse than usual. Thankfully they weren't too  bad yesterday when we went to Creamer's Field for their crane festival. Creamers Field

The festival takes place every year in August as the sandhill cranes gather to start their migration South. They have a wingspan of six feet! They travel 350 miles a day, mate for live, and live an average of 20 years in the wild. At the peak of migration season you can see thousands at Creamers Field. Creamers Field2

I am completely obsessed with these gorgeous birch trees. Creamers Field1

We brought a picnic for little man and Travis ended up buying a BBQ lunch there. They had two violinists playing and one kept playing nursery songs for the baby as he was completely enthralled with her. He wouldn't take his eyes off her and kept dancing to the music. Creamers Field3

It's such a gorgeous time of year in Alaska, and I'm so glad we are able to get out and enjoy it! Next weekend we are going back to Anchorage for a few days. We'll be doing some shopping, lots of eating, hiking and fishing. Emphasis on the eating.

How was your weekend? 

Vacation Photos!

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Is there such a thing as a vacation hangover? After a whirlwind five days it feels great to be back at home! Travis and I had a great time visiting his family in Dayton, Ohio. Aside from his Mom (who was able to come to the hospital in Alabama for our sons birth) it was the first time any of them had met little man. He did such a great job traveling, and adjusting to a four hour time difference. IMG_5526

We had three flights each way totaling about 10 hours of flying there and 10 hours of flying back. We brought a few new interactive board books, downloaded some episodes of Daniel Tiger to our phones, and planned to nurse him as much as possible (he often naps after nursing.) He hardly cried at all, and only got fussy a few times on our seven hour flight from Dallas to Anchorage (I probably got just as fussy as he did.)

Travis wore this sweet wolf shirt that says "Alaska" on the bottom on both days of flying. IMG_6040

We stayed with his Dad and stepmom who have a gorgeous house and lots of animals. I can see where Travis gets his love of cats from!IMG_5547

They have two large dogs and three cats. Our son hasn't been around a lot of dogs and he was pretty ambivalent toward them and seemed a little more interested in their oldest cat, Kitty.  IMG_5564

We arrived in town Wednesday at 6 p.m.. and went straight to get food. On Thursday we spent a few hours walking around the mall and Target. Our shopping is extremely limited in Fairbanks so we were looking forward to hitting up some shops that we don't have access to here (which is - everything.)

They were having a sale at Build-a-Bear so we stopped in and made two for our son. A little Lebron James bear and a Ninja Turtle. I did the heart ceremony - lots of shaking, blowing and kissing the heart. IMG_5569

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That night we met up with some more family at Young's Dairy Farm. That place is so stinking cute! They have a restaurant and ice cream shop, an area to pet goats and cows, and lots of rides for kids. IMG_5670

We took the kids (our son and his cousin) on this sweet barrel ride. It was rickety and felt like it would fall apart or explode any second. IMG_5644

Travis tried to feed our son to the goats ... IMG_5613

and baby had his first taste of ice cream.

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On Friday we drove to Newport, Kentucky to visit the Aquarium. The city was adorable and made me miss living near a big city! I kept telling Travis that Dayton felt like a thriving metropolis compared to Fairbanks.

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I got to pet baby sharks and walk the shark bridge (lots of sharks swimming underneath.) It's so fun now that our son is almost one he's really starting to interact more with his environment and enjoy seeing new things. IMG_5799

He had so many firsts while we were in town! He had his first cookie at his Great Grandmas house. He devoured it. IMG_5838

While we were at his other Great Grandparents house he learned how to climb stairs by himself. That's one first I could have done without! We have stairs at our house that he still doesn't seem very interested in, but I think once he realizes they are there we will need to get a baby gate for the bottom of the stairs (we have one installed at the top already.)

We got lots of photos of everyone with the baby. My favorite was the four generation of guys (baby, Travis, his Dad and his Grandpa.) I pretty much love any photo of baby with his Great Grandpa. IMG_5791After two days Travis told me, "I'm so glad to be here but I don't think I could stay longer than three days." Traveling is stressful! Especially with a baby. He did pretty well with the time difference but he still woke up a few times every night. Napping was hard too since we were always on the go. Still, I don't think the trip could have gone any better.

Sitting at his Grandmas house I watched his Sister, her Daughter, his Mom and his Grandma all interact and couldn't help but feel sad that I don't get to have those experiences with my family. They see each other so often, and I'll be lucky if my son gets to see my parents once a year. I also grew up on the opposite side of the country from all of my extended family and wished I had grown up surrounded with cousins to play with and cool Aunts I could talk to about boys.

At least my parents will be here in two weeks to celebrate baby's first birthday!

What if you just can't get into meditation?

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For years I've espoused the benefits of meditation on the blog. I go through periods were I'll meditate every day for a week, and then I won't meditation for six months. My counselor encourages me every time I see her to start meditating again. She and I both know that it would significantly help my anxiety. Do I do it?

No.

I have a dozen really, really, great excuses as to why I don't. I'm too busy. I'm too tired. I'm too ____.

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Despite the abundance of scientific literature I've read showcasing the numerous physical and emotional benefits of a regular meditation practice I just can't get into a routine with it. My anxiety has skyrocketed postpartum. I needed to find a new way to deal with it naturally so when I got a chance to try out Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker I was thrilled. IMG_2509

Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker helps bring about mindfulness to everyday life. Mindfulness is the act of being aware. Of being mindful. When I was in graduate school I took a course on Buddhist Psychology and, in addition to meditation, we focused a lot on mindfulness.

So much of my anxiety comes from worrying about future events. I start to think about things I need to do, or situations I will be in (like flying with a baby) and before I know it my heart rate is elevated and I'm short tempered with Travis. It's not fun. One thing that helps significantly is simply becoming aware when anxious thoughts start to take over. Then, I can take a step back, breathe, and refocus.

I'm becoming much better about being mindful of my thoughts, but Spire helps by alerting me when my breathing becomes to quick. You wear Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker on your pants or bra, and it tracks your breathing. When you download the app there are lots of short breathing exercises you can do to help you become mindful of your breath. IMG_5302

It will give you an overall report on how tense or calm you day was. It also tracks your activity. The features are increadible:

  • It has integrated, calendar, location and photos. These integrations give users context into their well-being by syncing with their location, calendar, and photos, to provide greater insights into where, what and why they are experiencing periods of tension, calm or focus.
  • Spire’s platform learns to anticipate stressful events before they are likely to happen and alert users with actionable insights on how to prepare and experience more calm in their life.
  • Spire makes mindfulness more attainable by alerting users in-the-moment and suggests breathing exercises and meditations to lead to a more mindful behavior change be it a calmer and focused state or even becoming more active. IMG_5465

I wasn't sure if it was working one night as I hadn't felt it vibrate in a while, but as soon as Travis walked in the front door I felt it vibrating and started laughing. I told him just the sight of him caused my anxiety to skyrocket. (I was really anxious about was him waking up the baby as he was coming home from running errands and little man was already in bed.) 

At almost a year postpartum I'm feeling much more like myself, and I'm looking forward to getting a better handle on my stress and anxiety in the coming months. As I mentioned earlier this week I won't be training for any long distance races for a while, and that's actually been a big source of stress for me lately. I'll continue working out, eating well (80% of the time) and trying to be more mindful throughout the day of my anxious thoughts and how they relate to my breathing. IMG_1372 What's your favorite way to cope with anxiety? I need more ideas!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday Favorites: Vacation Edition

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We survived a full day of flying with an 11 month old! imageLittle man did very well and slept the majority of the flights. We left our house at midnight and got in at 6 p.m. Eastern time. We had three flights and a three hour layover in Seattle (wonderful ESO!) Travis and I both couldn't sleep much on the planes so we crashed hard when we got home that night.

Yesterday we spent the day shopping and hanging out at a dairy farm. Baby slept great the first night (in a pack n play in a room across from ours) but was up a few times last night. We are trying to keep his nighttime schedule on Alaska time so he's not waking up at 2 a.m. when we get back.

It is amazing how Dayton feels like a thriving metropolis compared to Fairbanks. I'll do more of a trip recap once we get home this weekend (it's a very short trip!)

One of my favorites from the trip thus far was getting my first bra fitting at Victoria's Secret. I've been nursing for almost a year and wearing the most uncomfortable, and worn out, nursing bras. I tried to buy a new regular bra in Fairbanks but the choices at Fred Meyer and Walmart suck (seriously the only places with bras here.)

I knew I wanted to hit up VS while in Ohio (and Bath and Body Works to get some Fall candles) so I ran in and grabbed a few bras in my usual size to try on. As I went into the fitting room the woman asked me if I'd had a fitting lately. I told her no, but I'd love one.

A few minutes later she told me what my actual size was and my jaw dropped. I thought I was a 34/36 B.

32 DDD.

What in the actual hell.

She pulled a few in styles great for nursing, and post nursing, moms. She took one look at me and could tell I was nursing, and what side was his favorite!

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When I got home that night I looked up how bra measurements convert to bra sizes and saw how a woman could be "small" and wear a DD/DDD. I also kept seeing the statistic that 90% of women wear the incorrect size so everyone should go get sized correctly!

Another favorite this trip has been taking advantage of the fact that calories don't count while on vacation.

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Fresh, locally made, smores ice cream. We let baby have his first taste of ice cream and he didn't love it as much as we thought he would! Took a few licks off the spoon but went right back to his grilled cheese.

Realistically I do try to balance out having fun with eating healthy even while on vacation (although I haven't exercised since Tuesday and hope to get in a little workout today or tomorrow!) Travis and I packed as many healthy snacks as we could in our luggage. We knew we'd be coming back with a lot more then we came with between shopping for ourselves and his family spoiling little man, so we brought a bunch of food and diapers that we will use up here and have space in the suitcases for the way home.

It's funny we brought some Premier Protein shakes since we both love them, and his Dad had a few cases at the house already.

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They are on sale at Costco until August 23. You can get $5 off and you can even buy them online author a membership! I ordered a few cases to stock up my strawberries & cream stash.

We are headed to the aquarium in Cincinnati today. His little cousin is joining us so it's going to be so fun to see them both freaking out over the fishes!

Is Shakeology Safe for Kids?

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Thanks to social media we are given peeks into the everyday lives of millions of people. There are about 500,000 beachbody 'coaches' so a quick hop on Instagram or Facebook and you're bound to see a shako selfie or sweaty workout pic. Harmless. What makes me cringe is when I see coaches letting their little ones drink Shakeoolgy. Is Shakeology safe for kids? Is Shakeology Safe

A few years ago I was a Beachbody coach for a whopping two months. I loved the workouts. They are extremely effective and so much fun! I thought becoming a coach would be a great way to start working with clients who were motivated to lose weight. I was also hoping it would be a nice source of income for me (after all - we all know of a Beachbody coach who makes "six figures a year.")

Well, I quickly realized Beachbody was not for me. The only way for a coach to make significant income is to recruit heavily (how many of you have been asked by a long lost high school friend to join their team?) and to sell Shakeology.

So, what is Shakeology? According to Beachbody;

Shakeology is a powerful superfood formula designed to deliver the nutrients you need to help you lose weight, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and support healthy blood sugar levels.

Want to know what they based that claim off of?

Fifty people.

That's it. Just 50 people who drank Shakeology twice a day for twelve weeks for breakfast and lunch. Well NO WONDER they lost weight. They drank a 160 calorie shake for breakfast and lunch!

[Tweet "Is Shakeology a Scam? Here's what they base their data off of ... "]

I literally couldn't stomach the thought of telling people they had to spend $130 a month to lose weight by drinking a 'dense superfood nutrition' shake. That's as much money as I used to spend on healthy, mostly organic, groceries for two weeks. Of course coaches will try to sell you on it's value. "You don't need to take a multivitamin anymore!"

Well, you could also just eat a balanced diet. That's been working pretty well for thousands of years.

Aside from the over-hyped shakes I question the safety when I see people letting their kids drink Shakeology. Even as a coach I rarely drank it as it has maca root powder in it, which you are not supposed to take if you have a thyroid disease (I have Hashimotos.) I knew maca root effects hormones, particularly estrogen, so I couldn't imagine it would be too safe to give to kids.

I've spent hours researching the safety of ingredients in Shakeology in terms of children usage. There's extremely little scientific information out there. Many of the things in Shakeology are likely fine for kids; pea protein, chia seeds, flax, quinoa, probiotics ... all amazing (and things my son gets from real food almost every day.)

However, the adaptogen blend is what really worried me. All of these herbs are not recommended while pregnant or breastfeeding. There's just no research done to see what effects it could have on a fetus or nursing child.

Shakeology ingredients potentially unsafe for children:

Cordyceps: a fungus that lives on caterpillars in China. I'm serious. NOT advisable to give to children under 5. Extremely limited research on its effects on children of any age. In adults it can increase the symptoms of autoimmune disease.

Maca: often used to treat hormone imbalances and improve fertility.

Astragalus: can worsen symptoms of a cold or virus. (Mentioned in a Babycenter thread. Obviously not scientifically sound but I found very little information on this herb.) Side effects include: GI upset, kidney disease, diarrhea, vomiting and development of small lesions and inflammation.

Maitake mushroom: Supposed to boost immune system. In breast cancer patients it increase some immune system functioning, but decreased other immune functioning.

Reishi mushroom: supposed to to help enhance the immune system,reduce stress, improve sleep, and lessen fatigue. When used for over three months it can cause an allergic reaction in the form of dryness in your mouth, throat and nasal passages.

Schisandra: possibly helpful for increasing concentration, attention and treating hepatitis. As with everything else listed here pregnant women are advised not to take any. Schisandra can cause uterine contractions which could to miscarriage.

Just last year Beachbody removed acai from Shakeology as it "links with Chagas disease, a heart and central nervous system disease spread by parasites." What will they remove next?

Given the potential risks and side effects of these herbs is it really worth it to let a child drink it regularly? These herbs effect major biological and neurological processes. Until significant longitudinal studies are done on their safety and efficacy I would strongly recommend parents do their own research weigh the pros and cons before introducing this into their child's diet.

[Tweet "Is Shakeology safe for children? No! Here's why ... "]

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Even the Shakeology label says to keep out of reach of children.

Running a Marathon After Having a Baby

While I was pregnant I often though about how nice it would be to run again. I stopped running around 25 weeks as it was just too uncomfortable to me. I didn't have any specific time in mind for when I'd want to start training for my fourth marathon, but I knew I would eventually. Running a marathon after having a baby

Running a marathon after having a baby is a huge undertaking. Not only do you have the usual stress and time commitment from regular marathon training, but you could also be dealing with physical postpartum issues, and figuring out how to train around little ones schedule.

[Tweet "Thinking of Running a Postpartum Marathon? Here's some advice ..."]

As an Army wife I can't rely on having my husband around during training. That means I've done most of my runs with my 11 month old son in our jogging stroller. Thankfully, he loves going on walks and runs so that hasn't been a problem, but running with the stroller can get tiresome. The longest he's been in it is two hours, so I've arranged my training schedule so that I can do longer runs when Travis is available to watch him.

I did my longest postpartum run yesterday. I ran 15 miles and split it up into two runs. I ran ten miles in the morning and another five miles after lunch.

It sucked.

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As I was running I realized a few things:

  • I was missing out on three hours of family time
  • I was feeling some aches and pains in my hip area that I never had pre-baby
  • I just wasn't feeling it

It was the first time in a very long time where I was truly forcing my body to do something it had zero desire or energy to do. Honestly, most of my runs have felt like that over the last few weeks. I love speed work, and I love running three to five miles, but anything six and over has just been a struggle.

At this moment in my life a marathon just doesn't seem worth it. I'm still going to run the Equniox (and Travis is joining me now!) but that will be my last marathon for a while.

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We are hoping to have baby #2 later next year, so I won't be running long distances for a while anyway. With Winter quickly approaching here in Alaska I'll start doing more speed work and short runs on the treadmill.

With the marathon one month out my plan is to get in one more long run of 18 miles, and try to do 8-12 miles every other weekend. I'll aim for two shorter runs during the week. The Equinox is a strange marathon. Many sources online call it one of the most difficult in the US (there is 3000 feet of elevation gained in three miles), but locals will say it's 'pretty easy' and many people walk the entire thing.

Reading the history of the race made me feel better about my 'train to finish' approach. The race started in 1963

As noted in the September 23rd, 1963 Fairbanks Daily News Miner, “The girls, including 64 high-schoolers, traveled mostly in packs, and if one hadn’t the knowledge a race was talking place, he might have believed the girls to be off on a two-week camping trip.  In each group at least one girl was equipped with a transistor radio.  One 16-year old, with a radio as big as an overnight bag bouncing on a shoulder strap, puffed happily along the trail listening to Wee Willie Walley.” Other girls carried extra shoes, sneakers, warm clothes, lunches, first aid kits and other paraphernalia … one was seen stopped along the course as she carefully applied fresh makeup."

Most locals have told me it started as a walking race. The first woman to finish in 1963 finished in over six hours! While I don't have any specific goal in mind I would like to come in around 6.5 hours (mostly because it will be my parents last day in town and I don't want to spend the entire day running.)

One perk of yesterdays 15 miler? The post-run Mexican food. FullSizeRender (3)

How did running change for you after having kids?

Adjusting to Life as a New Mom with mamaRoo Baby Swing

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I had absolutely no idea how hard it would be transitioning into the role of 'Mom.'

Growing up I wasn't around kids too often. I worked as a nanny in high school and for a childcare agency in Seaside, Florida. After that the next time I held a baby was my own. That's fifteen years without any interaction with an infant! Thankfully, the mamaRoo baby swing helped make the transition a little bit easier.

On top of having my first child we also moved from Florida to Alaska when my son was six weeks old. When we arrived in late October it was a few short weeks before we were experiencing 20 hours of darkness and a constant three feet of snow. I'd never driven in snow -- I think I maybe spent 5 days in snow in my entire life! I have never been more out of my element. I was scared to drive on my own (in my two door 2002 Saturn that survived the great Pensacola flood.) I was scared to even leave the house alone with the baby as he'd often cry when we went out in public, like babies do, and Travis was always better and soothing him.

So, I spent the first few months of my sons life experiencing near constant anxiety which was compounded by waking up 3-5x a night. I was a mess. It was so hard to go from doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, to revolving every minute of the day around someone else. Someone who couldn't tell me what was bothering them, wouldn't go to sleep without a lot of coaxing, and didn't like to be set down for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Of course there was much more good than bad, and I'll never forget how Travis and I would fight over who got to wake him up in the mornings as that was the only time he would smile (until about three months old then he started smiling all day!) No matter how hard the previous day was getting to see him look at me, and flash his little toothless smile, made everything worth it.

After a few months baby and I got into a nice groove. He would gradually let me sit him down for longer periods of time, so I was able to workout, clean the house, or take a hot shower (which is enough to turn any bad day around.)

One thing that was an absolute lifesaver was a swing. We didn't start using the mamaRoo baby swing until recently but it is going to be our most used piece of baby equipment for number two. IMG_2461

When I was pregnant I heard moms raving about the mamaRoo and wish I would have invested in one from the start. The mamaRoo has five unique motions that will mimic things like car rides, or being carried. The movement isn't jerky or unnatural like some of the other swings we've seen, but it's much more smooth and realistic like a baby just being carried around (which is what we had to do to get my son to sleep the first few months!)

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It also comes with a few sounds, and since baby always sleeps with a loud air purifier on in his bedroom the fan sound is great when we used the mamaRoo downstairs. You can also connect any mp3 device directly to the mamaRoo. Our son had a favorite nursery songs cd we would play for him to help soothe him at night. IMG_2463

The mamaRoo is the only infant seat that replicates parent's natural motions. It doesn't vibrate or bounce like other swings which can actually stimulate babies too much. MamaRoo even has an app that will allow you to control the motion, speed, sound, and volume of the mamaRoo. It's worth every penny! IMG_2474

If you are expecting definitely put the mamaRoo baby swing on your registry! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG0S9G6CFaE How was your adjustment to parenthood? 

What was your 'lifesaver' baby product?

Santa Clause Half Marathon in North Pole and Hiking Angel Rocks

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I covered 16 miles and 1200 feet in elevation this weekend. My legs are trashed, but I can't remember the last time I had such a good weekend! On Saturday I got up bright and early to drive over to Chena Lakes for my first postpartum half marathon. I haven't been training much this Summer which is unfortunate since I have a marathon in 5 weeks! The marathon actually started as an all day hike so many people still walk it. My plan is to walk/run and just enjoy myself so I haven't been following any formal plan. The Santa Clause Half Marathon was cheap ($30) and seemed like it would be a great training run for the full.

A few of the other Stroller Strong Moms were running it and thank goodness I had someone to run with. north pole half marathon

As with most races in middle-of-nowhere-Alaska the race was very disorganized. There was no website, and every website that mentioned the race had different information. Most said it was flat and paved, but the course was mostly on trail. I figured we wouldn't get much with a $30 entry fee but we didn't get a shirt or a medal - boo! I was hoping for some super cute North Pole medal.

At least the views were gorgeous! Half marathon 1

There were so many times I wanted to stop and walk but my running buddy and I kept each other going strong until the end! We started off with a 10:30 pace, and did the last half with more of a 11:30 pace, so our finish time was 2:22.  Half marathon

When I got home I had the worst migraine. I drank a ton of poweraide and water on the course so I didn't think I was dehydrated. Whatever it was I ended up in bed most of the day napping and just trying to get over feeling nauseous. I finally felt better around dinner time and ended up eating an entire cheese California Pizza Kitchen pizza.

On Sunday Travis wanted to go on a hike so I figured it would be a great way to train for the marathon. The marathon starts off flat for 9 miles, then gains 3000 feet in 3 miles! We hiked Angel Rocks Trail and there's about 1000 feet of elevation in the first 1.2 miles. angel rocks hike

Aside from frantically checking my son every two seconds for mosquito the hike was amazing. angel rocks hike 1

I would have loved to have seen more wildlife but there were so many people on the trail we probably scared everything away. We did see a grouse which is a cute (but apparently very dumb) bird. angel rocks hike 3

The views at the summit were incredible, but I was so anxious the entire time. The trail literally goes right to the edge of this cliff! I wouldn't let Travis get anywhere near it with the baby. angel rocks hike 2

It took a full minute of convincing from Travis for me to climb up this rock to get a photo. angel rocks 1

After the hike we headed back to town to have lunch at the Cookie Jar. It was literally the worst dining experience I ever had thanks to a family we were seated next to. First, we arrived after 1 p.m. and had to wait 10 minutes for a table. Not a huge deal. Then, it took FIFTY minutes for our food to come out! The restaurant was half empty! I had no idea what the problem was but poor baby was starting to get super grumpy by that point.

We were seated next to a woman with three young girls. This family was so disruptive to the entire restaurant I couldn't believe a manager didn't come out and ask them to leave. The mom continued to YELL at her kids to shut up so loud that all of the tables around us would go silent. The girls were running up and down the aisles, and kept trying to play with our son, and a baby at the table next to us. I normally don't mind kids interacting with my son but these girls were literally two inches from his face being very loud and kept grabbing his hands and hair. I repeatedly asked them to leave him alone and that they could 'play' with him but please don't touch him. These girls were probably between the ages of 5-10 so they should know how to listen!

The man at the table next to us took his baby outside to try and give him a break from these girls and the girls followed him outside! The mom didn't even notice! A few minutes later the woman at the table next to us had to tell the woman, "mam - your kids are outside playing in the street."

The food is pretty good, but after this I'm not sure if we will go back. On the way out I stopped to use the bathroom and there was blood on the toilet and the trash bin was so full about half of the contents were just thrown on the floor. So, so, gross.

The Cookie Jar 1 Despite some minor issues we still had a great weekend. We will be heading to Ohio soon so Travis's family can meet the baby, and then my parents will be here in a month to celebrate his first birthday. I love having so many fun things to look forward to!

How was your weekend? Have you ever left a negative review of a restaurant?

Sleep Training at Nine Months Old

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Warning: extremely long post. Other sleep deprived mamas may appreciate our experience.

There were nights that I thought I'd never sleep again.

Until my son was 9 months old he rarely slept more than 4 hours at a time. After getting up to nurse him it would take me about 30 minutes to fall back asleep again, so his 2-3 wakings a night meant I was running on fumes.

Before having a baby I didn't think I could let my child cry it out. How hard is it to just go comfort your child when they are upset?

Ha. Hahahahahahahahahaha.

If only it were that easy! Sleep training

Sleeping patterns prior to sleep training

Around 9 months we started a cry-it-out approach to get little man to fall asleep in the crib on his own. It's been a very long, slow, progression getting him into his crib. Here's his history;

  • 0-5 months slept in his rock-n-play next to our bed
  • 5-8 months slept in a swing in his room. The swing was never on, but it was slightly inclined.
  • 8-9 months slept in his crib, but it took forever to get him to fall asleep. I do not miss those nights.

We had a few habits we needed to break; sleeping in his swing, being nursed to sleep, and night wakings. He was also napping only on me after nursing.

When we first put him in the crib I put a pillow under the crib on one end, and rolled up a towel into a 'U' shape and put it under his sheet. This 'cradled' him and had him at a slight incline to mimic the swing. It helped. A little. Looking back I would rather just throw him in there and let him CIO all at once.

After a few weeks we realized he liked sleeping on his stomach better, so we took the towel and pillow out of the crib and he started sleeping longer stretches. It still took almost an hour to get him to fall asleep since we were putting him in the crib awake which is what all the sleep experts on google were telling me to do. By nursing him to sleep we were teaching him that he needed the boob to sleep, so every time he woke up during the night he'd want to nurse again to get back to sleep.

Our CIO approach

I read all the horrible studies on letting babies CIO. How it permanently alters their brains from the high cortisol. I read many more studies that found no differences with kids who were left to CIO. I researched many different methods and almost all of them said by night 3 the babies were putting themselves to sleep within minutes.

Not our kid.

It took five very, very, long nights before we could put him in the crib wide awake and he'd fall asleep on his own. Our approach was to let him cry for about 10 minutes, go in and check on him (less than 1 minute and just verbal reassurance we were there if he needed us but it was time to go to sleep) and go in and check every 15 min after that if need be. Sometimes he'd wake up and just fuss, so we wouldn't count that time. We'd start the 10 min time once he was truly crying.

Here are the notes I took on those nights:

  • 6/10. Put in crib awake at 7. Checked at 7:20, on my way up to check again 7:30 and he became quiet. Fell asleep a few min later.
    • Woke up at 11:30, nursed, went right to sleep.
    • Woke up at 2, checked on him after 5 min, went to sleep a few min later.
  • 6/11, put in crib at 7:15. Fell asleep after 12 min of fussing.
    • Woke up at 8:30. Alternated between crying and fussing for 25 min. Checked. Waited 10 min. Checked again. Fell asleep 3 min later.
    • Woke up at 10:10. Checked at 10:17. Fell asleep 10 min later.
    • Woke up at 1:50, nursed, went right back to sleep
    • Woke up at 5:20, nursed, went back to sleep for an hour
  • 6/12, fell asleep nursing, put in crib 6:40 and immediately crying, checked at 6:50. Checked at 7:00. Asleep 12 min later.
    • Woke up at 8. Cried for 8 min, checked. Fell asleep five minutes later.
    • Woke up at 10:30, nursed. Right back to sleep.
    • Woke at 1:18. Checked at 1:23, poopy diaper so I changed him. Asleep 8 min later.
    • Up at 5. Nursed. Right back to sleep.
    • Up at 6:45.
  • 6/13. In bed at 7:07 immediately crying. Checked at 7:17. Asleep at 7:23.
    • Woke up at 9:44, checked at 9:50. Checked at 10:02, fell asleep immediately after.
    • Woke up at 1:40, nursed. Right back to sleep.
    • Woke up at 4, went back to sleep.
    • Woke up at 5:30, nursed, went back to sleep for an hour.
  • 6/14 on bed 7:16. Immediate crying/fussing. Asleep at 7:26.
    • Up at 9:10. Fussed. Fell asleep 5 min later.
    • Up at 10:20. Fussed. Back to sleep.
    • Up at 11:45. Nursed, right back to sleep
    • Up at 2:30. Fussed. Asleep at 2:40.
    • Up at 6:45.
  • 6/15 in bed at 7:30, fell asleep IMMEDIATELY
    • Up at 5!! Nursed. Slept until 7:30
From that night on we could put him in his crib wide awake, and he'd normally be asleep by the time I got downstairs - with ZERO crying. Success!
A few weeks later we tackled night wakings. I wouldn't nurse him if it hadn't been at least 5 hours since his last time nursing. So if he nursed at 7 before bed I wouldn't feed him again until midnight. If he woke up before then we'd let him cry it out for 10 minutes, go check, then wait 15 minutes. He would typically go back to sleep before the 10 min time period. Within 2 nights he was no longer waking to nurse! He will still wake between 5-6 a.m. usually but I'll nurse him then and he will sleep until 7:30 a.m..
I was going to discuss nap training as well but since this post is already close to 1000 words so I'll save that for my next post!
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! I'm certainly not an expert but I'd be happy to give advice, and just listen if you need to vent!

Something You Don't Know About Me....

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17 things to be exact. Last week I saw my friends Jen and Brittany both do fun blog posts answering 17 'getting to know you' questions and I thought I would do the same. I have been so focused on other projects this Summer (bootcamps, my free eCourse on making money blogging, and LuLaRoe) that I haven't been blogging as much as I used to and I really miss it! My final bootcamp for the year will start August 22nd, and my free eCourse starts Monday, so after August I will be focused back on the blog, LuLaRoe and my first eBook.

1. What brings you the greatest joy? 

My son laughing and hugging me around the neck. He doesn't really know what a hug is yet, but he'll just throw his arms around me and squeeze and I just about melt. Being outside with him is a close second.

2. What are your vices?

Work or big projects. I use working as a way to cope with anxiety. My therapist likes to tell Travis (he's come to a few sessions so the therapist can better explain to him what my anxiety is like and how he can help with it) that I should be CEO of a major company. I've just got that personality type. Driven enough to work 24/7 without downtime, and that's a huge fault of mine. Working on a project, accomplishing things, and creating endless to-do lists invigorates me, but it also drains me. The very thing that helps me feel less anxious also creates anxiety! In the last 2-3 months I've stopped working almost entirely while my son is awake and I'm finding this new balance is much better.

3. What is on your nightstand?

Synthroid (my thyroid medication), a water bottle, baby monitor, a bag of gemstones I got from Chena Hot Springs, a salt lamp, regular lamp, and a few books.

4. Do you have a secret talent?

I don't think so! I always wish I had some musical or artistic talent. I'd say the only thing I'm better than average at is running long distances. I'll never be very fast but I can chug along for hours. I'm pretty good at baking things, and cross-stitch/embroidery.

Make it Rain

5. What is your greatest indulgence?

I'm lame and don't indulge in much. I'm trying to change that and loosen up on the budget a bit and live more! Food is probably the biggest indulgence for me. I wish it was travel, but that's a bit hard to do with a little one.

6. What should everyone try at least once in their life? 

Go on a vacation alone! I went to Chicago alone for my 30th birthday. Didn't know anyone. Didn't have any plans. Had the best time of my life. Wandering around the city and I never felt more like the person I always wanted to be. I have very few 'pre-baby' regrets but I do wish I would have traveled solo more.

Chicago

I think I need to bring the pink streak back!

7. What makes you laugh? 

My husband is pretty funny. We don't share the same sense of humor but he can randomly start booty dancing in the kitchen, or send me some meme while he's at work, and it always cracks me up.

8. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I was in a coma once. I had epiglottitis when I was 5 and had to be put in a medically induced coma. Epiglottitis is what killed George Washington. My front four teeth are fake thanks to a bike accident in high school. I just had my first pedicure at age 32. I only have one tattoo, a star on my foot, that I got on a first date with someone when I was 19. Yes, that's more than one thing.

Epiglottitis

9. What is on your bucket list?

I didn't care about these two destinations while living in Florida the last 20+ years, but even since I moved to Alaska (and had a baby) I've been obsessed with visiting Hawaii and Disneyworld! We may put Hawaii down as one of our choices for our next duty station.

10. What is on your feet right now?

Nothing! I'm in my pajamas on the couch getting ready to go to bed.

11. How did you make your first dollar?

My best friend Jamie and I started a jewelry business when I was in second grade. "J and E Jewelry." We probably sold a bracelet to each of our Moms and then closed down the company! In college I made and sold jewelry on Etsy.

Locket necklace

12. What superstitions do you believe in?

None. We each make our own good and bad luck.

13. What items in your closet do you wear the most? 

Workout clothes. Nothing but workout clothes, and LuLaRoe leggings now!

14. What is the best gift you ever received?

My son.

15. What is on your liquor shelf? 

I have one bottle of rum in the house. Travis doesn't drink, and I drink once every 1-2 months. I wanted a mojito a few weeks ago so I picked up some rum!

16. What is on your kitchen counter?

A fruit basket, Keurig, knife set and blue and yellow kitchen towels. I like to keep things as clean and minimal as possible.

17. What would you never leave home without?

My phone, water bottle, purse (keys, cards, etc.) and mints. Even though I quit smoking years ago I still have to have mints or something to chew on when I'm driving.

Your turn! I'd love to know what is on your nightstand? Are you superstitious? 

You've Reached Your Goal Weight! Now What?

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I had a potential client ask me a question on twitter last week that has been on my mind ever since. She said she planned to follow my carb cycling program for the six weeks of the program, but stop once it ended and wanted to know if she'd gain weight back again. Well, probably. (I'm assuming she meant she'd be going back to exactly how she was eating before.)

So many of my clients have the mistaken belief that they can 'diet down' to their goal weight and then *poof* they can go back to eating as they did before and maintain their weight loss. I wish that was the case! DIET OR SCAM-

The depressing reality is that about 80% of people who lose weight will regain all of it, or more, within two years. 

Research is very inconclusive about the exact percentage. I've seen some studies say 50% regain the weight, and others say 90%. So, I think it's safe to say the majority will regain the weight they lost. Whatever the number it's a depressing statistic.

[Tweet "80% of people who lose weight will regain all of it, or more, within two years. Don't be one of those people!"]

Biologically there are some changes that happen to you when you drop a lot of weight that makes it harder to continue losing weight, and maintain the weight loss. Your metabolism adjusts and your brain chemistry starts messing with your hunger signals. Psychologically, you start to feel a bit defeated when the scale stops moving.

I think one of the biggest reasons why people regain the weight is because they look at dieting as a temporary situation instead of a permanent lifestyle change. Most people can stick to any diet for 4-6 weeks. They'll stick with egg whites for breakfast instead of their favorite cereal and be okay with abstaining from wine for a few weeks.

Then, the novelty wears off and their willpower is depleted. Willpower is a muscle just like your biceps. If you constantly flex it you will eventually fatigue it and you won't be able to use it temporarily. That's when the binges start. Or the 'all or nothing' thinking (I ate too much crap food today I might as well just throw in the towel.)

I lost 50+ pounds in my mid twenties and have kept it off for 8 years. I gained 40 pounds while pregnant and lost it all by 9 months postpartum. Why was I different? What did I do that made me keep the weight off?

I made a permanent mindset shift. I took two years to lose the weight. I made small changes that added up to big results without totally overwhelming me. Here's the general shifts I made in order:

  • Gave up fast food, candy, and drinking anything with calories
  • A few months later, after already losing 10-15 pounds, I started going to the gym 3x a week to just use the machines to strength train
  • A few months later I started going to the gym 5x a week and adding in cardio
  • A few years later I started
  • A year after my first 5k I ran my first marathon
  • A few years ago I got into really clean eating. Limiting all processed foods. Focusing on vegetables.
  • Recently I tried carb cycling and I was able to lose the last 5 pounds of baby weight with it.

I didn't do it all over night. I never even thought of myself as being on a 'diet.' I was just eating healthier and exercising. There was no end date in sight for when I would stop. This was my life, forever.

Are there days where I eat nothing but sugar and carbs? Yes. It's okay. That's life.

Are there days when I don't want to exercise? At least once a week. On those days I'll go for a walk with my son. That's exercise and so much fun!

I hate when I hear of women really struggling to lose weight, or keep the weight off. No one should spend their lives hating themselves or how they look. Food shouldn't be looked at as an enemy. Exercise shouldn't be viewed as a punishment. Nutritious food and regular movement will help lower your stress, increase your happiness, and add years to your life.

You can have all that and still enjoy your occasional cupcakes and regular glass of wine too. Isn't life grand?

If you feel like you are stuck in this mindset and want help losing weight for good please feel free to reach out to me! I will be holding just one more bootcamp this year starting on August 22nd and I already have women registered for it. If you'd like more info just email me at Erica@EricaDHouse.com.

My Mom was Attacked by a Pit bull: What YOU Should Do if it Happens to You

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Last Wednesday I took my son to the Children's Museum downtown. I sent my Mom a ton of photos throughout the day, as I always do, and was a bit surprised I hadn't heard back. Later in the afternoon I tried to call her and she didn't answer. I suspected something was up. I tried calling again about an hour later and this time I got through. I asked (jokingly) why she was ignoring her grandson. She responded in tears, "I'm in the ER."

Every Runner Should Know-

Oddly enough my first thought was that something happened to my Dad. That wasn't the case though and she proceeded to tell me what happened.

The heat in Florida has prevented my Mom from being able to go out for a walk the last few weeks. The weather was overcast last Wednesday so it was cool enough to go for a quick walk around the neighborhood. Not too far from home she was passing by a house with a pit bull tied up on a leash and harness outside. She passed the house, not suspecting anything would happen, and out of nowhere the dog broke off it's leash and attacked her legs.

He came up from behind so she didn't have any time to react. She actually had mace in her back pocket but wasn't even thinking coherently enough to try and use it since the dog completely blindsided her. She began screaming and she could feel the dogs teeth sinking into her feet over and over. The owners came running out and attempted to pull the dog off of her. The man, who she said was easily 6'4" and quite large, was on top of the dog trying to keep him pinned to the group but the dog repeatedly got away and kept biting my Mom.

Finally the owners were able to get the dog into the house. Neighbors had come out to see what all the yelling was about (the female owner of the dog was crying hysterical on the ground.) One neighbor held my Mom's hand as she waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Of course this all happens when my Dad was out of town. I'm so glad she had a friend meet her at the hospital and stay with her all day, and come over the next morning to get her prescriptions filled and help her around the house. She ended up with 12 stitches and still (five days later) can't walk without being in a significant amount of pain.

I was so mad.

I'm still so mad.

This was the first time something has happened and I've been too far away to help. I was pissed that I couldn't be there. I'm pissed that it happened. I'm pissed that she won't be able to go on a walk again without being afraid of every dog that barks.

I asked some of the running groups I'm a member of what tips they had for dealing with aggressive dogs. I've also done a lot of reading online as I'm now wondering what I would do if it happened to me while I was out with my son.

In general here are some tips that experts (dog trainers, vets, etc.) say to do when facing an aggressive dog:

  • Remain calm. Ironic, I know. Dogs can sense fear and if you start screaming and running away it will only trigger their desire to want to attack you even more.
  • Don't make eye contact with the dog. This is threatening to them.
  • Don't turn your back to the dog. Try to slightly angle yourself to them so you can see them out of the corner of your eye.
  • You can try to firmly tell them, "NO" or "sit/stay." Of all the commands dogs might know those are the most common.
  • If the dog doesn't come any closer you can try to slowly back away.
  • If the dog comes closer and starts to try and bite try to give him something to chew on that's not you. A jacket, a stick, a hat or even your shoe.
  • If the dog does attack they usually go for the feet first to knock you on the ground. They are very specific in going for the feet, so they can get you down and then go for your neck and face. A 71 year old woman was just killed yesterday by her own pit bull who used this approach.
  • If the dog gets you on the ground cover your neck with your hands and ball up into a fetal position. Try not to scream and wiggle. There's still a chance he can lose interest in you.

[Tweet "Something every runner should know: What to do if a dog attacks you. "]

I sincerely hope that you won't ever need to use these tips, but in case you find yourself in this situation maybe they will help. I plan on taking a large stick with me on every walk, some bear spray (it is Alaska after all) and maybe even a stun gun. I used to run with mace and will start doing that again. In general it isn't recommended to use mace/pepper spray on dogs as it can just irritate them more than stop them. I would only use it as a last resort if the dog was actively biting me and I could spray it directly into his eyes.

I've also ordered this cat keychain that could be used against man or animal.

The CatIf it came down to protecting myself or my son against a dog I would hate to do it but the best places to target are the dogs eyes and throat. Again, the thought of even doing that to a dog makes me nauseous, but the thought of a dog attacking my son makes me think of doing things I'd normally find unimaginable.

Have you ever had a run in with a dog?

Easy DIY Wellness Shot

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One of the things I miss most about living in the lower 48 is access to diverse restaurants and health food stores. We have a few up here in Alaska but they are very tiny (our towns population is 30,000 and we are the second largest city in the state!) I've been seeing wellness shots pop up on snapchat and Instagram and I was intrigued. I looked up recipes for various wellness shots and played around with making my own. This wellness shot is great for boosting your immune system and your metabolism. The lemon cayenne combination is quite the kicker!Wellness Shot

Wellness shot

  • 2-3 T. lemon juice
  • 2-3 T. water
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp minced ginger
  • dash of cayenne
  • dash of tumeric
  • stevia, if desired

Directions: add all ingredients to a small mason jar. Shake vigorously and enjoy. I like mine ice cold so when shaking I'll throw an ice cube in there.

[Tweet "Easy DIY Wellness Shot; Appetite suppressant and metabolism booster!"]

Instead of constantly buying lemons from the store I found this 100% pure lemon juice. This is so much easier than juicing lemons every morning! I also found a small jar of extremely finely minced ginger that's perfect for these shots. Most wellness shot recipes I found required using a juicer and I didn't want to have to hassle with that so I'm glad I found a way to make them without one.

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This shot is strong. Knock you on your ass tequila strong. My bikini competitor friends love the lemon cayenne combination as it acts as a natural appetite suppressant. Lemon and ginger are great for supporting digestion and decreasing nausea. Tumeric, cayenne and ginger can reduce inflammation. If you are feeling very bold you could add in 1-2 T. of apple cider vinegar. I am not that bold yet.IMG_2456

If you are feeling a cold coming on or having an issue with allergies you could add some local honey and bee pollen to sweeten it up and help boost your immune system.

While at the store I saw they sold wheatgrass packets from Amazing Grass. I love their original product so I decided to see what the powdered wheatgrass was like. IMG_2434

I added the packet to 4 oz of water (the directions say to use 8 oz.) IMG_2440

Look at all that green goodness. IMG_2444

That stuff is potent. It is definitely going to be an acquired taste! It's worth it though as wheatgrass provides a concentrated amount of vitamins C and E, plus beta carotene.

In trying to make the best of our time in Alaska that sometimes entails kitchen experiments to concoct my own version of a wellness shot people in big cities spend $5+ for. Now if only I could recreate Whole Foods and Target then Alaska would truly be perfect.

Have you ever tried a wellness shot?  What health trend have you noticed recently? I feel so out of touch up here!

Trip to the Childrens Museum and Baby's First Taste of Sugar

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We had quite the exciting weekend! I've been trying to find a time to take baby to the Fairbanks Children's Museum as I thought they were closed on the weekends, but wanted Travis to be able to come with us for his first time. Well, I'm dumb, and they are open on Saturday so we went after his morning nap. I loved watching baby explore all the different exhibits!

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The whole family enjoyed this suction tube thing the best. You could flip different switches to change the direction of the air flow and experiment with putting soft balls and scarves in one spot to see where they'd shoot out. IMG_3401

Baby's favorite spot was the water table. This just reaffirms that I need to buy one for him for the backyard! I've been keeping my eye on the local sale pages on Facebook to try and snag one used.IMG_3416

I really loved that they had a separtte spot for the little babies. An annual family membership is $120 and I think we would end up going here once a week so I'm going to ask my parents for a membership for his 1st birthday in September (two freaking months away - I cannot believe it.)

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After the museum we walked to one of our favorite restaurants, the Crepery. I don't know about Travis but it's the best food I've had in Fairbanks. I got the Mediterranean crepe and it was stuffed with cheese, tomatoes, and green olives. We 'split' a creme brulee crepe. I say 'split' because I only snagged a few bites before Travis devoured it.IMG_3423

We even gave baby a few bites! I was holding out to give him sugar on his first birthday, but it was so good and he kept trying to eat it so we gave him a few strawberry slices covered in creme brulee and whipped cream. He loved it.

While we were downtown we walked over to Kitchen Vixen to see what they have in stock. They are only open on the weekends and always post the cutest macarons on facebook. I've only had macarons once before so I wanted to try them again! The sea salt caramel was one of the best sweets I've ever had - by far. IMG_3425

Thank goodness yesterday was a feast day!

Saturday night we kayaked out to an area of Tanana Lake that's only really accessible by boat. Baby and I picnicked while Travis fished. He loves being out on the water! We only kayak about 5-10 minutes with at a time as that seems to be the longest he will sit still before wanting to explore. IMG_3432

I am excited for this week! I have so many projects I've been working on and things are really starting to take off. I'm organizing a free 5 day course on blog monetization that starts August 1st if you are interested sign up here. I've got a waitlist going for my bootcamp starting August 22nd, and we are hoping to hear back from Travis's work about taking some time off for a few trips we want to take this Fall!

How was your weekend?

Three Things You Don't Need to Buy For Your Baby (and what to get instead)

This post was sponsored by NEW! Tide purclean as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. 

During my pregnancy I spent hours and hours researching everything I'd need to buy for my little man. I looked up various registry checklists and I'd stay up all night researching the safest car seat or baby gate on Amazon. I'd scour baby forums to see what other moms said their 'must have' items were, and what things you could do without.

I try to maintain as much of a minimalist approach with my son as possible. I know he will outgrow toys rapidly so I always search the local sale groups on facebook before I buy him something to see if I can buy it used. Before I buy something I'll usually ask myself "is this something my grandparents needed to raise babies?" Often times the answer is no. Babies survived just fine before all the hundreds of items marketed toward new moms came along!

Here are three things we opted to not buy for our son, and what we did instead.

A High Chair

Since I knew we would be moving from Alabama to Florida the day we were discharged from the hospital, and to Alaska six weeks later, I knew I didn't want a lot of stuff to move. I wasn't sure how big our future dining room would be so I didn't want to get a traditional high chair that would take up a lot of space.

I found this 2 in 1 booster seat that we started using with our son when he was about 4 months old and starting to sit up okay on his own. I'd put him in it on the floor in the kitchen as I cleaned or cooked, and now he's using it to eat. In a year or so we'll take the tray out and just use it as a booster seat so he can eat at the table. It is much cheaper than a high chair and much more versatile!

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Sippy Cups

I spent many years as a nanny for a family and later as a babysitter for tourist kids in Seaside, Florida. I remember sippy cups. Lots and lots of sippy cups.

The two issues I kept reading about sippy cups was that you had to buy multiple cups as the child aged to 'transition' them out of. You'd start with a small bottle with a certain kind of spout similar to a nipple, then progress to a stage 2 cup, then to a more adult like cup. That's a lot of cups. I also read orthodontists warned against using certain kinds of cups, and using them too long, as they could lead to dental issues.

So, when I came across this miracle cup I thought I'd give it a shot. It absolutely lives up to it's name! You can drink from any part of the outter rim, and it never leaks. It took baby a few days to get used to it but now he drinks from it just like a regular cup. IMG_2433

Baby Laundry Detergent

It baffled me when I found out you were supposed to buy a special laundry detergent for your baby. Really? So, you are supposed to spend more money to buy separate detergent for them but now you also have to do an extra load of laundry?

Nah - I'm good.

Since before he was born I've been washing his clothes in regular detergent. Guess what? It was completely fine! Saved me time and energy which are two things a new mom could always use more of.

While I was at Target in Anchorage I picked up some of the new Tide purclean. Anytime I make it to Target now it feels like I'm back at home in Florida! Travis asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday this year and, you guessed it, all I wanted was to take another roadtrip back to Anchorage to do some shopping at my favorite store! IMG_3376

While at Target I needed to stock up on some cleaning and laundry supplies. I was excited when I saw a new product from Tide. TIde Purclean is made from 65% bio-based ingredients and with 100% renewable electricity. Most importantly - it works. It smells amazing and it does a great job getting all of our dirty clothes clean. Since we do baby led weaning little man makes an absolute mess of his clothes and we never have an issue getting them clean.IMG_2414

I love how little detergent you have to use for a medium sized load. We tend to do just two medium loads a week so this is going to last me forever. IMG_2416

I only use the best for my little monkey butt! IMG_2421

You should definitely pick some up, and enjoy shopping at Target for me. Make sure you use the Cartwheel app to get 5% off and look for the $1 off coupon on most bottles.

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