Sunday, December 21, 2014

Skull and Cross Bones

Today, I went on a run. I think I last attempted to do this in July, and before that, in April. But I have not run consistently since March. In other words, it has been a while! With the cooler weather, I was starting to miss running badly!

Logistically, I had to plan way more ahead than I'm used to, as I had intended to do this a day earlier, but I was exhausted and the baby's schedule was rough. All the stars aligned today, so after a somewhat decent night, morning feeding, and emptying out, I quickly went out for what I promised would be 20 minutes.

I did a small loop around my house, twice. I've mentioned this before, bug my area is a little hilly, so I always struggle. Today, it was more like a shuffle than a run. About a quarter mile in, breathing was tough. My poor out-of-shape lungs and upper ab area! Toward the second half, I felt my lower ab/incision area to be quite weak. I guess running really does engage the whole core. I really struggled, but I was determined not to stop. I imagined a skull and cross bones, because some moments I thought I was going to die (not literally, but yikes!).

I finished 1.5 miles in the 20 minutes (using the Nike Running app) I was gone. It was a beautiful morning and such a nice feeling to be out again. Great for my sanity, for sure. Realistically, I will only be able to do this once a week for now when I have someone to watch the baby, but it might very well take a week to recover. I've been trying to do short videos on most other days. 

It is going to be a long and hard road back, so to speak, but at least this gives me something to work toward.

More to come (I hope)!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Month

My baby boy is a month old (give or take)!  While that might not sound like much, it's a major milestone for us.

Chinese traditions dictate that the end of the first month ends an initial isolation period for mother and baby while they recover and get stronger, respectively.  While a bit antiquated-sounding, I think it is warranted in a cold (for So Cal) and germ-y world, regardless of how much cabin fever I've had. While he needs shots and such before we can paint the town, things will slowly make their way toward normal after this point, just in time for the year-end holidays.  Thanksgiving had been super low-key, and although I liked not having to commute everywhere that day, it was a bit too quiet.

I'm missing out on holiday luncheons in exchange for not having enough time or hands to eat, but no matter how tough it is, it is worth it.

I admit that due to how he was delivered, I'm sometimes not really sure whether the doctors just handed us some random baby, which of course is a ridiculous scenario. Overall, I still can't believe this was my little passenger all those months!!

Speaking of which, baby boy has yet to have a blog name.  I am trying to keep his identity relatively protected (since he has no say...), so for now, I'm calling him "Tuesday," because not only was he born on one but because while I was pregnant, Tuesdays marked the beginning of a new week once the OB changed my due date based on an early ultrasound,  Tuesdays used to mean a sigh of relief.

"Tuesday" has gained almost two pounds since birth.  He also has some briefly successful tummy time and is only screaming during SOME of his diaper changes now.  He's learning to enjoy bath time. Sometimes, he smiles, though who knows if those are real yet or not...

This also marks one month of my post-partum period.  My follow-up appointment was this week. I started feeling better a couple of weeks after "Tuesday"'s birth, but there are still random bouts of pain and general abdominal weakness.  I am allowed to exercise again, though no ab specific stuff for another month or so. I celebrated that day by doing a brief YouTube workout and hope to squeeze in activity here and there for the sake of my sanity. Admittedly, even brief workouts make me sore, even though I tried to be active while pregnant. It kind of fell apart in the third trimester, though.

I am still adjusting to not being pregnant anymore, which strangely is taking longer than I thought. Not having a bunch of doctor appointments will be weird!  Besides that, I still can't fit my wedding ring. I thought me sweating a lot (glamorous, I know) would take care of it, but I'll give it some more time before running off to resize it.

There are so many other unexpected things that came up this month. First, I wish I had prepared more for baby care and nursing, and though I did read, it's nothing like doing. Not sure if I could have really done more besides pay more attention to the other parents around me.  Also, I am surprised that I've been eating SO much, partly due to me being tired and lacking self control. This is even true in the middle of the night when I'm up fit feedings.  I guess the noshing is needed, so I've been packing away one-handed snacks like these from Uncomplicated Foods. Yum! 

I still have a couple of months until my next race, right?! I can't imagine time freeing up, but I know/hope it will. I think I just need to get the hang of things, so they will take less time. And of course, maybe the baby will cooperate, too??

Finally, being alone with a baby is tough! Just when you think you've done it all and can take a break or do something else, the squealing begins anew. I mean, the tasks are not inherently hard, but being on alert without breaks is taxing. I'm not one of those who can "sleep when baby sleeps" because helloooo paranoid. Almost makes client surveys sound appealing, which is not what I imagined. 

FTC Disclaimer: I received a sample of this product and was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular opinion.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tracy Anderson - Pregnancy Project (Months 7-9)

Here's the home stretch (emphasis on stretch!)!

When I first got these discs, I figured it would be a long, long while until I broke into these last few ones, but as with many things with this pregnancy, that moment came more quickly than I had anticipated.

Months 1-3
Months 4-6

Month 7 - I admit that I didn't really do the second trimester discs as often as I would have expected, even though I worked out 5-6 days a week.  I mentioned having some mechanical issues, which made all the kneeling work especially painful for me to keep doing.  Luckily, this disc was pretty light on those sections!  More is done standing up "to increase circulation," and the length (about 38 minutes after the chatter) worked out perfectly.  A chair is used for the majority of the workout.

Month 8 - This one was less heavy on the hands and knees stuff, though it's still there!  Most of this 40-minute workout requires a chair, which I am not keen on because mine are heavy and you keep having to move it around.  Also I think 40 minutes is a long time to be doing boring exercises when you're already probably pretty tired.  I think she moves very quickly considering how far along we're supposed to be, and I don't consider myself a sloth in that regard!  I will say that I did feel a burn with this one, so I guess it's doing its job.

Month 9 - By the time I got to this point, I barely worked out at all, so I found these 40 minutes tougher than it should have been.  It starts off with stretching (with a chair, which I hate lugging), then those 3 lb weights (which feel heavy with atrophy) with and without the chair, and more hands-and-knees stuff that I mostly made it through but skipped one in particular because it had too many parts and level changes.  At the ends, she wishes you luck with everything and to do her Metamorphosis program, but given how much I didn't particularly enjoy these pregnancy workouts, I think I will stick with my other videos for now.

Overall, I think this would be good for some people in their pregnancies.  It's just a matter of preference, whether you prefer more "quiet" (but hard) forms of exercise like this one or more energetic ones like some others I've been doing.  If you were doing Tracy's stuff before pregnancy, this won't be much different to you.  It is definitely effective and you'll "feel it."

FTC Disclaimer: I purchased these discs on my own, and the opinions posted here are my own. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Since We've Been Home

Here are some thoughts I've had as we settle into a new lifestyle...

It's incredible how one day, things were totally normal, and the next, things changed permanently.

We are incredibly lucky that the baby is mostly good, at least for a newborn. He has been on a 2-3 hour feeding schedule and generally sleeps in between with some exceptions. Since I was so drugged up at the hospital, it took longer than expected to start a supply going, and it isn't enough still (I'm still working with the lactation folks and a tedious routine at each feed). So figuring out which supplement won't make him so gassy has been a struggle. I'm not sure how long I can keep this up, but I figure whatever I can give him now will help. "The Ukrainian" is going back to work soon, so  I am going to have to learn to somehow balance everything during the day. Terrifying.

I am definitely looking forward to the little one growing and settling into a less exhausting routine. I don't know how people could have more than one kid...

Above is me about two weeks before the baby's arrival.

Below is me about ten days after. I can't believe I feel this way, but I often miss being pregnant. It's taking me a while to adjust to being non-pregnant, which seems like so long ago. I also can't believe that I miss work already. Basically, I miss everything that was normal with my life before that somewhat traumatic time in the hospital.

I gained a bit over 30 pounds at the end, and I've lost almost 20 of those on a diet of basically whatever I want plus whatever my parents have been bringing me. I can't imagine having to actively work on the rest of the weight, since when it comes between sleep and exercising, well duh. Plus, given my slice-and-dice, I need to wait for the doctor to give me the ok in a couple of weeks. I'm off my pain medication, so it's a start. Though I'm not in a hurry (because I do get sad seeing my bump go down), my goal is to fit into my old work clothes when the time comes.

I spend a lot of the time thinking about how amazing it is that our little guy came from me and how lucky I am that he is so perfect. I spent a lot of my pregnancy worrying about what I was doing or not doing correctly, something that is obviously going to continue forever.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our Baby's Arrival

EVENT: Our Baby's Arrival!
DATE: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
LOCATION: Baldwin Park, CA
RACE BEGAN: 5:00 AM, Monday November 17, 2014
FINISH TIME: 25 hours, 44 minutes (approximately)

***I will try to keep this as non graphic as possible... but this IS a birth story...***

At around 5 in the morning about a week before I was supposed to be due, I woke up from a dream in which "The Ukrainian" was telling me he was worried about the baby. I woke up to a dribble and decided to go to the restroom. I was a bit soaked, and having not had any incontinence issues thus far, I was suspicious. 

Maybe half an hour later, I told "The Ukrainian," who was about to get up and get ready for work, what happened. I was hesitant to call L&D because I wasn't totally sure and didn't want to seem paranoid, but eventually I did. They told me to shower, eat, and come in. We arrived at the hospital at around 7:30 and managed not to get clogged in Monday morning traffic, which had been a fear of mine from the get-go.

It was somewhat surreal when their amniotic test strip turned blue, and the triage nurse said we were having a baby. I was not sent home, which for some reason had been another fear of mine. I had a couple of friends recently have their birth stories start with waters breaking, but I thought that was pretty rare, so leave it to me, I guess.

We got to walk for a while since I wasn't really having a lot of contractions, but I was being monitored more than I would have liked and kept having to get hooked up. Oh, and this IV was inserted pretty suckily, so it annoyed me the whole time but was ultimately my life line in the end. The same nurse also drew my blood, but it had to be redrawn because it hemolyzed or something! =\  Of course, this was just the beginning of my days of being a pincushion.

Around lunch time, I had broth and juice due to the off-chance I would need surgery. I felt so gross all day due to all the leaking. Around 3:30, they deemed that I had not progressed since the morning. Yikes! Although they had said there was no "you must deliver in 24 hrs after your water breaks" rule, they were definitely pushing the pitocin. I kind of resisted because I was worrying about a slippery slope of interventions, but in the end, my paranoia of infection led to my consent.

The contractions got a bit stronger and more frequent after the low dose I was getting. I was not allowed anymore fluid or mobility because of monitoring. So ice chips it was. Needless to say, having had brought a stability ball to the hospital, I was disappointed but in a way, I was so grossed out with my constant leaking and found sitting in the "rocking chair" to be most comfortable, anyway. When I tried to stand, the monitors would lose the baby's heartbeat.

Around 8 pm, they were upping the meds at a faster rate. By midnight, I decided to get an epidural because of the doseage and the anesthesiologist about to get tied up for hours. I was still able to tolerate the contractions at that point, but seeing how they progressed on the monitor later on made me believe it was a warranted choice for me at the time. The actual epidural insertion was pretty uneventful, and of course, given how this ends, I'm glad I made that choice.

The next morning, they said I had not progressed at all since I was admitted and recommended a c-section. My body just didn't want to go into labor, according to the doctors. This was one of my worst fears, so I asked for more time. They could not up my medicine anymore due to the risks to my uterus and my baby. The next check returned no progress, so "The Ukrainian" and I came to terms with what was next.  Honestly, I just wanted him or she to be safe. Within the hour, he was in scrubs and I was being prepped under a bright light. While they went at me, I tried to focus on my husband and our baby we were about to meet.

I felt them kneading something out of me, and hearing the first cry was such a relief. "The Ukrainian" looked over and told me that we had a boy. Could not believe there really was a baby at the end of the long pregnancy finish line! I got a quick look before he and the baby went to recovery while I was being worked on. That part was bad, as I started shaking from all the pitocin earlier and felt pain in my chest, which they said was totally normal.

All in all, the procedure lasted somewhat over half an hour. I got to join my husband and son and got some pictures taken, all of which I look really bad in. The rest of the day, my memory is spotty and I remember drifting off a lot even as people visited and I was nursing all day. It was icky to be completely bedridden and unable to eat for the second day in a row. So much vomiting from all the drugs, too. Definitely not the birth experience I had imagined.

But, in the end, my son is healthy and my husband and family have been amazing. I can't believe I grew such a perfect little human being! I mean, I know pregnancy results in a baby, but I had no idea how life completely changed all so quickly.

Now for getting used to being a parent... And recovery. Yep, gonna need a lot of that...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: BackJoy StandRight Bliss

I have blogged about posture before, and here's another way of helping it!

I am kind of reaching a point where no shoes are comfortable on me.  I spent my last days at work in grey tennis shoes during lunch or commuting times and wobbled around in heels the rest of the time.

Thankfully, I quit super-tall heels long ago, but any heel height was a feat.

I didn't spend a lot of time wearing flats, although I should have.  I simply did not have a pair that fit anymore.  My harder, normal flats got tight, and then even my "forgiving" flats got tight.

I wish I had had these BackJoy StandRight Bliss shoes around earlier!

From their website:

Created for women on the go, the Bliss Ballet style offers classic simplicity with all the benefits of our patented Natural Gait Line System™. The Ballet guides your foot during walking while a neutral position keeps your head, hips and feet balanced in good posture. Shock-absorbing materials cushion the foot and heel at impact and disperse energy for extra comfort and support.

Basically, these are the only flats that fit on my swelling feet without pain.  My feet look semi-normal in them, and the sides expanded beautifully even though I was skeptical at first.  The loops in the back make slipping them on very easy!

And actually, they feel very supportive inside, unlike most other flats.  As you can see, my 9-months-preggo legs look semi-normal while wearing these.  Also, standing for prolonged periods of time isn't as bad with these on, and anything that can help my posture at this point is much-appreciated.  These will definitely be getting a lot of wear!

If you're used to wearing popular flats like Tom's, these are WAY more comfortable, and frankly, nicer-looking.  If you're looking for a holiday splurge or gift for someone, these would be a good choice.


FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of this product from BackJoy (#GiveBackJoy) and was otherwise not compensated to provide a positive review.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Some Thoughts on My Last Day of Work

It's no secret that I miss my previous job and the days when I had the option of telecommuting.

However, it has been a full two years since I was laid off and another year-and-a-half-plus since I've been working at my current job.  Since then, I've kind of just been working just trying to get to that next vacation or even the next paycheck, not worrying about progress or the future or anything like that.  Perhaps it was because I knew we'd be starting a family in the foreseeable future and didn't want to get myself into an unideal situation.  Looking back, that was kind of an irrational way to approach things, but that's where I was, mentally.  I knew that I'd have to face the whole family vs. career thing sooner or later, and with this week being my last before maternity leave, I find myself having mixed emotions about that.

Working during the pregnancy has been, well, rough.  I was lucky that I wasn't running off to the toilet all the time... well, until the end, hah.  Still, the exhaustion and nauseated feelings made it hard for me to concentrate.  Plus, let's face it -- the prospect of having your first baby in itself is pretty distracting, anyway.  It was a huge relief when I started telling people, just at the point when it couldn't really be hidden anymore.  I wasn't wanting or expecting any special treatment, though there were days when I WISHED I could lay down just for a bit or have my car readily available to nap in during lunch.  As I approach the end of my pregnancy, people have just been too kind in asking how I'm doing and all that.  It's a little much, as an introverted person, for me to keep saying I'm doing okay when I feel steamrolled, but I think for a lot of people, it sort of brings back their own memories and a bond of some sort between us.  I feel a little guilty that everyone has been so kind to me, even though I generally didn't want to come in at all.  I'm pretty sure I am going to miss all these casual interactions when I am at home.

This is pretty much the last "normal" day I'll have.  I have never been away from work longer than six working days, and now I'm about to do something completely different for the next few months.  Months ago, I was undeniably looking forward to my last day at work.  Originally, I thought I could work up until the end, but at some point, I realized there is definitely a reason pregnancy is legally considered a disability (holy discomforts! totally admire people who go longer!).  As I got my away messages ready and backups trained, though, I started to feel a little sad, almost like I was leaving for good rather than just a long vacation of sorts.

Everything is about to change, and the next time I'll be coming in, I'll hopefully be physically normal again (a feeling I can barely remember) but will have a whole new home life to go home to each night.  There will be no more sympathy or excuses, not like I wanted any, but still.  I will have to balance my own ambitions, which sort of have been on hold during my pregnancy, with the needs of my evolving family.  I think my feelings are a combination of nostalgia for how my daily routine was before pregnancy and the unknown of what is coming.  I'm definitely ready for the new challenge of motherhood and excited to meet my little passenger... and finding that new daily routine and "new normal" I keep hearing about.  At the moment, I don't know whether it'll be about picking up the pieces, going for my ambitions again, or simply a game of survival in 2015.  I do know, though, that coming back will be difficult, but I'm sure it's the best decision for everyone.

As for how I'm going to be spending my time, well, assuming the baby stays put for a while, I hope to walk more in the Fall air, enjoy quiet time to myself, have weekday lunches with my friends, and get some last things done at my house (cleaning!) and my parents' house (packing!).  Oh, and celebrate our anniversary, probably just us two, for now.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Omron Alvita Pedometer

Recently, I was looking through a "fitness inspiration" Instagram profile, something I rarely do because I don't even have that app.  Long ago, I wanted to be that kind of inspiration (through this blog), but as life and body changes have reduced my long-run selfies to hardly existent walks, I have to remember that every great thing begins with a simple step.

I was contacted to review the Omron Alvita Pedometer, which is a notch above other pedometers you may have used over the years.  Most of them register up-and-down movement only, but the Alvita can detect steps on three axes (axis-es?).  This is really cool, because unlike other pedometers, you won't hear clicking or anything when you walk.

The other great thing about it is that it automatically resets itself at midnight each day.  It is also really light to clip or strap to yourself.

Believe it or not, that's me lounging with a huge, huge bump.

I shamefully don't log many steps these days, but I was actually surprised that even while resting at home for a couple of hours, I was able to log in about 100 steps.  I guess those frequent restroom trips will do that!

Also, you have to love that Oprah introduced these as an empowerment tool for young girls.  I think it's important to teach young people the benefits of staying active, particularly because being young is often as stressful as being, well, not-so-young!

As for me, I'm sure having this around will encourage me to be on my feet more than I have been.  To get back to those long runs, I gotta start somewhere!

From their representative:

Education has always been the number one focus for Oprah at her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. After a visit in August 2014, she decided that, along with exercising the girls’ minds, exercising their bodies was important as well. Oprah decided to give a boost to a school initiative that had begun on her birthday earlier in the year – The Fittest School Challenge – to encourage the girls to become more active and physical throughout the day.

While encouraging activity, Oprah also wanted a way to keep the girls and faculty motivated over time. That’s when Oprah invited Omron to join the challenge by donating Alvita Ultimate Pedometers to each student and staff member. She believed the pedometers would be a fun way to track activities daily, while motivating the girls to improve and walk more over time.  

Thanks to Omron, the girls at the Leadership Academy are on their way to meeting their goal of 10,000 steps per day.  

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of this product to try but was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular opinion on it.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Major #firstworldproblems here, but my iPhone 4S had been broken for six entire months.  I knew this because it would remind me weekly that I haven't uploaded to iCloud, which was a direct result of the WiFi chip burning out when I downloaded an iOS update.

Finally, sometime after the "iCloud not updated for 24 weeks" message, I got with the times and upgraded to the iPhone 5.  Now, my smartphone is fully functional again...

...which is just in time for me to work out some sort of baby tracking on there...

...which means I have to keep my phone on me at all times.  Actually, this is already something that "The Ukrainian" tells me if I mention something like taking a stroll around our very safe neighborhood.  I'm pretty sure I can round a few corners if the baby decides to arrive, but I guess it's better to be prepared.

That's where the Armpocket comes in, which is a line of armbands that can hold not only smart phones but keys as well, things that inevitably have to come with you on a walk or run.  It keeps your phone protected while out and about while still allowing you to use the screen, and yes, it has a hole for the headphones.

"The Ukrainian" has been running with this and says it does stay put.  Of course, it's still a sensation to get used to either way.  My phone has to come out of its massive protective case in order to fit, so that's kind of the only downside and will vary based on what case you have.  In preparation for baby and sleeplessness, I just happen to have a very thick one.  Still, I will definitely be using this on my post-baby runs/walks!

This would be perfect for everyday gym use, as well.  They also have models for the new iPhone 6, models that light up, and models for the non-iPhone inclined.  It's also eco-friendly!


FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of this product and was not compensated to provide a positive review.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Nursery and Other Things

We've reached October 20-something (today's my half-birthday, though that doesn't mean much!), which means the November 20-somethings are coming up, and I am definitely ready for that time to arrive.

Unfortunately, I still have a few weeks left at work, and as you can imagine, I haven't really been up to it lately even though things are kind of winding down and holiday festivities are sort of beginning.  My co-workers were so sweet in throwing me a baby shower, which "The Ukrainian" was able to attend.

In particular, I keep waking up drained and have actually been nauseated in the same way as earlier in the pregnancy, except I don't think I can justify comforting myself with bland carbs anymore.  So when I see random things like vegan cheese pop up, I give in:

Fortunately, I guess I hit a "nesting" phase in the past two weeks, so I washed everything and even packed my bag for the big day, even though it is (or just seems) SO far away.  Here are a couple of glances at the baby's room.  We have a two-bedroom, and unfortunately, the two rooms are almost the same size, so the baby has a huge room for its size.

I subsequently put the sheet cover on the crib mattress, LOL.

Those bears on the left were my childhood loves!

A lot of the items in the second picture are hand-me-downs (not the car seat, of course!), which are extremely appreciated.  We've been really lucky in that a lot of people just had babies this and last year.  We also recycled some of our other baby shower decorations for now.  In the coming weeks, I want to get my store club cards and discount stuff in order, because I'm a coupon-clipper and know I won't have as much time to keep track of pennies in the flurry of stuff.

Also, as ridiculous as it sounds, I already have the pack-n-play beside my bed so that I get used to not bumping into it at night.  It's also functioning as leverage for me when I have a hard time getting up in the middle of the night, which is understandably more often than I would like.

My main focus now is really to relax, because I am not naive and know it will be rough for a good while.  Kind of like tapering, I guess.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Eight Years

I started this blog eight whole years ago. 

That seems like a lifetime ago, really.  I still remember typing up my first post regarding the Long Beach Half-Marathon, which recently had its 2014 iteration that made me feel nostalgic.

Having a place to share (and look back upon) my thoughts and life's adventures has been fun and cathartic, and I can say with some confidence that there is definitely more to come.

When I started this blog...

...I was still in college.

...I had just jumped into corporate America (while finishing my last quarter of undergrad).

...I was very dismally single.

...I had just run my second half-marathon.  

...I had not run a marathon.

During the past eight years...

...I graduated from college and graduate school.

...I have worked at about four major companies.

...I got married... and pregnant.

...I have run 29 half-marathons.

...I have run 15 marathons.

In the coming year, I anticipate/hope to be blogging about...

...running my 30th half-marathon.

...recovery. changes with a child.

...more cooking (I have hardly cooked because I can't stand the smell of cooking anything right now). running and fitness will always be an important part of my life.

Other blog-o-versary posts:
(7, 6, 5, 4, 3)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review: Omron Electrotherapy

Fall is basically here, and "The Ukrainian" has been stepping up his training since he is signed up for the Surf City Marathon in February and LA Marathon in March.  While I certainly don't miss running in the dark, spidery morning environment, I do miss running (in way cooler temps than we have now) in general.

Oh, and pain.  I don't miss the pain (though not to say I don't feel as though I've been running without actually haven't done so).

I was recently contacted to review Omron's Electrotherapy TENS unit.  Given my current state, I let "The Ukrainian" use this until I am up-and-running again, so to speak.  Although we've both been in the running store only to be told about my gait issues and his perfect arches, he does experience pain once in a while, mostly in his calves, and also upper body after he weight-trains.

From their representative:

With running season in full force, this unit is perfect for your sore muscles post-workout.  Users can find relief from stiff, achy and sore muscle and joint pain in about 15 minutes.  Electrotherapy TENS units are a prescription-free pain relief option recommended by professionals and favored by a growing number of acute and chronic pain sufferers. The Pain Relief Pro is easy to use and has eight pre-set modes ensure complete customization to your exact pain:

·         Five for pain in the Arm, Lower Back, Leg, Food and Joint
·         Three for relaxing your muscles: Tap, Knead, Rub
·         Ten power levels of intensity

The kit is relatively simple and comes with a remote control, a cord to connect the pads, a plastic bumpy piece to store the sticky pads after use, batteries, and instructions.  The instructions suggest how to program the unit, which of course will be for a shorter duration in the beginning.

What does it feel like?  "The Ukrainian" says he feels little taps/ticks/grabs, nothing painful at all.  There is another setting that is more like a rubbing, which he uses on his shoulder.  He's been noticing less calf tightness, though I'm not sure if this is related to using this unit.  I can't wait to try this for myself, because I can definitely use it, well, everywhere, though it's generally only for extremities and lower back.

A unit costs about $70, which isn't too bad if you were considering getting a massage for pain, because this can be used repeatedly.

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of this product but was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular opinion about it.

Friday, October 3, 2014

OOFOS Recovery Shoes

I'm really excited to review these OOFOS recovery shoes because I recently saw them at a running store but didn't have enough time to look at these more closely.

When I'm done running a race (or long run!), nothing feels better than getting out of those worn out running shoes that probably already have energy drink residue all over them.  I try to do this before getting in the car, if possible.  When I wear the appropriate toe socks, I don't even need to remove my socks to switch from running shoes to sandals (as pictured below from this original post).

Of course, in my normal, flat sandals, I just feel a very hard and flat sensation under my foot.  This is still better than being crammed into a running shoe, but more could be done...

From their representative:

OOFOS is made from our unique and proprietary OOfoam, which is 37 percent more impact absorbent than EVA. They are soft and comfortable, but won't lose the unparalleled arch support no matter how much you wear them. Our bio metrically designed footbed massages the foot and begins the recovery process as soon as you slide them on your feet.

Okay, so I am VERY embarrassed to display my swollen end-of-the-day-and-pregnant appendages online, but for the sake of this review, here it is.  So I requested a Women's size 8.  I'm normally a 9 (wide) in running shoes, 8.5 for casual shoes, and 8 for sandals.  An 8 right now is a little on the small size, but it worked, and I hope it will only continue to work better as I return to my normal self.  The shoe will assuredly look a lot better on you than me, but in the end, it's about comfort, anyway!

Either way, the shoe is very comfortable.  I immediately noticed the foamy surface that has the right amount of "give" to my tired feet.  Also, it has a slight arch support that is useful when you've pretty much collapsed your arch from running, or just being.  Best of all, it isn't a shoe that will absorb any and all odors and is easily cleaned.  The little height boost is nice, too. ;)

There are a couple of different styles of OOFOS on their website, and they run about $40, which is about normal for runners' sandals.  You'll probably end up wearing them a lot.  I know I will.

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a review pair of these shoes but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive opinion.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I am so relieved that October is here.  This month is a signal that our months and months of uncomfortable heat [might be] coming to a close soon.  Normally, that means I'd be running more, but maybe I'll catch the tail-end of the cooler weather early next year.  I've been seeing more people running out there, and it makes me feel nostalgic.  Unfortunately, it's going to hit the upper 90s mark again in a few days, but at least it will probably be cool in the morning and evening rather than a 24-hour oven.  People who complain about having babies in the summer seem to forget that people who have babies in the fall have to endure ALL of summer, which in Southern California, is lonnnnng.

Either way, I've always considered October to kind of be the start of the holidays in earnest, cool or not.  It's also the beginning of the countdown to the arrival of our baby!  I naively hope that when I say that we're having a baby next month that we are correct, as I'm getting a bit impatient.

We recently had our baby shower, hosted by one of my good friends from high school.  Since she lives a couple of hours away, it took place at my house, and I had to re-orient myself with crafts.  Although we had a lot of scheduling difficulties just due to timing, we had a great time, and I've saved some of the photos for the baby to see someday.

"The Ukrainian" and I are finishing up our prenatal classes, and with that, our calendars are gradually slowing down.  We still need to pick up a few missing items,  get them ready, make an epic Target run for household essentials, look at a few more care centers, and perhaps get ready for the hospital, but our goal this month is really just to slow down and enjoy the changing seasons.  I'm trying to get some more preparatory reading done, as well.  I think this will also be the month when we finally start discussing baby names.

I can also start populating this book with all the pre-baby information:

Finally (and I realize this is a public blog, but whatever), this is the time of year when things will hopefully START to wind down at work.  I have some peaks during the year, mostly in January, March, April, May-September when taking time off and working through a cloudy baby brain is tough.  I don't plan on taking any real time off since I will most likely (though not definitely) start my leave early around 38 weeks, but at least MAYBE I can start organizing and getting stuff ready for the poor souls who have to cover for me while I'm gone.

Meanwhile, I'm waking up every morning with all sorts of stiffness and feeling like I walked out of the crypt.  The conducive-to-sleep dark mornings aren't helping the case, either, and I keep having to leave earlier and earlier due to traffic somehow getting worse and worse.  Needless to say, my morning workouts are starting to decrease in frequency from 5-6 days to more like 3-5 days a week, though I'm still walking up to an hour a day regardless.  I figure sleeping and resting is probably what needs to happen right now more than anything.  Hopefully this is a sign that everything's going well and that it won't be THAT much longer, although in my head, it kind of is.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My YouTube (Prenatal) Workout Playlist

Ever since I discovered that I could work out to YouTube using my AppleTV device, I have enjoyed working out on a whim rather than hoping that the DVD that I've popped in the night before will suit my needs in the morning.  It sure beats working out in front of a laptop, too!

Here are my current go-to videos.  I'm sure this will change in a few months (and I look forward to a fresh batch!).  I like that they are generally short, so I can mix and match as I have time/energy!

1) Madonna Arms (about 10 min) - This is not a prenatal video, but it's just a good all-around arm toner that can be done during pregnancy.  The last segment is done lying flat on your back, but after a point I started using a stability ball so I'd be up on an incline instead. 

I've been doing this one since early on in my pregnancy, and while I can't say it's a miracle worker, I do notice my general muscle tone is there.  My arms are a problem area for me (I tend to store fat in them more quickly than other parts of my body), even before pregnancy, so at best I was hoping to keep them mostly the same, which is approximately true.

2) Barre3 Arms/Legs (about 10 min) - Also not prenatal.  I must suck, because I can't quite get through all the arm portion on most days.  I love a good barre workout, and though I wish this were longer, I do like that I can do this without hauling a chair out.  For now.

3) Fitsugar Prenatal Legs/Butt (about 10 min) - This is a lower-body focused workout that seemed pretty easy when I first started it, but as with all things has been getting progressively more challenging as time goes on.  I will say that I'm not a fan of the girl in purple throwing in her 53,245 cents about everything when the guest trainer is supposedly showing us the moves.  Also, I feel like she somewhat belittles the girl behind in the aqua, who is further along.

4) Fitsugar Full Body Prenatal (about 10 min) - This is a full-body workout and one of my favorites because I feel like it targets pregnancy problem areas such as the lower back.  There is even an ab portion, which is unusual for prenatal workouts.  It guest-stars Andrea Orbeck (who is also in the first video I linked).

5) Denise Austin Prenatal Cardio (about 20 min) - I find this video pretty old and cheesy feeling, but it's kind of fun in a way.  She demonstrates moves that you build upon in a sequence.  I'm not sure if this is a calorie-burner, but I can tell it helps my circulation from the movements.

6) BodyWisdom Prenatal Fitness (about 30 min) - I really like this lower body workout, because I do indeed feel a burn, and there are modifications shown for each trimester.  It's a good lower body workout when I was too stiff in the morning for barre, and I was once able to do this even after pulling my calf in my sleep.

Well, that's it for now.  I'll probably do another installment in the future that is themed "postnatal with hardly any time."  =)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Will I Ever Run Again?

If you've been reading here for a while, you probably know that I have had some ups and downs with this whole running thing.  As you can see from my "PR Bin" on the right sidebar, my running seems to have peaked in the past, and although I've had some decent performances as recently as earlier this year, I am starting to wonder what kind of future running and I will have.

Recently, I happened to catch a replay of a Kona Triathlon in which one of my television staples, Gordon Ramsay (spotted by me at LA Marathon 2010!), actually completed the race.  To think that this busy older guy could become an Ironman was rather inspiring, as all of the stories are.  Of course, I know by my crampy-cramp-cramp tendencies indicate that I'm nowhere near the shape I need to be in do complete one of those.

But I don't have any ambitions to become an Ironman, though yes, I want to complete a triathlon someday.  Yet before all of that, I just wonder if I'm going to get back into the running game, and in what capacity.  I ran my last marathon in January, as I had sort of decided back last June that 15 would be a good number for now.  I just ran out of the time and patience to train so much and "fail," and not-training and "failing" was just as bad, only more painful.

I did my last race in Big Sur in April, which I barely ran at all because I was pregnant.  I mentioned in a previous entry that my original intention was to keep running.  I was running during the first few weeks of the pregnancy, only to stop due to feeling uncomfortable and paranoid.  I'm not sure if I'll try again before all is said and done, but let's assume that at almost 30 weeks along, I won't.  I've been pretty good about working out most days still, but with certain pains increasing, those days seem a bit numbered.

On top of the new baby, working, the slump I had even before the pregnancy, and all the fitness I've lost, will I run again?

Trying to be minimal, we only got one stroller, and it's a jogging one.  I don't think I'll be running with it (just using it as a normal stroller) for most of the first year, and even then, it just seems daunting.  "The Ukrainian" will probably get more use out of it when the time comes in that regard than I will.

Late last week, we were at an outlet, and I bought a running shirt to replace one of my favorite ones that has been falling apart over the past five or so years.  I couldn't even try the thing on, but here's hoping it will fit again soon enough.  Also, I registered for a 5k that will be taking place in March, which I plan to walk while carrying the baby.  (Please send me good babywearing vibes!)  Although I won't actually be running in that event, my goal is to be able to run/walk a 5k by then in general, which will be about 3 months postpartum.

Around 28 weeks in this one.  Super 3-D!!
I don't know what the future will hold, but my biggest hope is that I will be forgiving of myself in those first months but also that running will naturally fall back into my life as I get used to things.  At least it won't be 100+ degrees outside, right??

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review - Airia One Running

Out of the shoes that I have reviewed here, these are by far the most interesting.

Airia Running is a European company, and the Airia One shoe is designed to make the most out of every step.  You might immediately notice the unusual toe curvature of the shoe and freak out, but this very design is supposed to help you run faster (see the FAQ section here for more details about that).

When I first opened the box, there was a warning included.  Yes, it's kind of freaky to find warnings for shoes.  However, it simply says that it will take a good 10k to break-in/get used to the shoe, so in other words, don't give up!  I find that there's a similar break-in period for any other new shoe I try, so nothing unusual there.

The curvature isn't really noticeable when you put them on, unless you're really looking.  You will, however, feel like you're stepping on something under the ball of your foot.  Below is me (huge, at the brink of my third trimester) with the "before" shot of the shoes.  Given their white color, I decided this was better than a dirtier "after" shot.  That is definitely a critique of mine, though I am notoriously bad at keeping my shoes clean despite my intentions.  Given its design, some brighter colors would definitely look good (plus it gives the impression of speed, right?!).

I admit that I was only able to actually run a little bit with these shoes, mostly because I'm out of practice and balance due to my growing stomach.  In those few moments, I did feel really springy and light on my feet, which is kind of rare these days.  The width, which I believe was standard, seemed to work with my naturally wide and continuously swelling feet.  Also, I felt the motion control in this shoe, which is something I have always needed.

The rest of my breaking-in period with these shoes were done in walking form, and I still appreciated the light feeling and breathability of these shoes.  I didn't really experience a lot of calf soreness or other biomechanical adaptation pains with these shoes, though that could be based on your weight, how you normally run, other exercises you do, and a variety of other factors.  I can't wait until I'm back to running more regularly so I can put more miles on these and provide an update.

In conclusion, I would definitely try these out if you've basically "tried everything" and are looking for an efficient shoe.  Airia Running has a 30-day money back guarantee.

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of Airia Running's shoes but was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular opinion.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

So Many Objects: Running vs. Babies

Running is a relatively simple thing.  All you really need are some clothes, socks, and shoes (and even all of THOSE are debatable), but then you wind up crossing those finish lines with stuff in your ears, something(s) around your arm, a fanny pack full of stuff, and socks way longer than they need to be.

From my many reviews on this site, a simple thing can have a lot associated with it, for sure!

I'm finding that preparing for a baby is kind of the same thing.  We set up a crib last week and have a car seat, and according to my parents, this is all we really need for now.  Being pretty minimal, I tend to agree, except we had been getting questions about a registry, which we finally opened recently.

We tried to take a minimal approach.  Knowing clothes would be outgrown and will somehow show up no matter what, we barely mention those things on there.  Many of the things are kind of "nice" to have but not necessary, much like, yes, it's nice to have compression socks, but not necessary.  Of course, because of two mobile people, we had to get two car seats.  And yes, the baby needs books!  Also, we're going to need first aid stuff and blankets, right?

One of the "we might need this?" items.

We decided to forego getting a changing table and will be using the top of a dresser with a pad.  We did not register for any swings or high chairs, too many toys, or anything that we don't foresee using within the next six months or things that might be handed down to us.  Still, the "want" list is quite long, though luckily most items are fairly inexpensive.

One thing I'm grappling with is the glider, a big-ticket item  I wanted one similar to the one below, but the reviews are mixed/bad, and it would pretty much be the most expensive thing we've needed so far (besides the stroller + car seat combo we got, but it's a combo...).  There are more ideal gliders, but they are way out of the price range.  Plus, since I haven't been able to try any, I don't want to deal with the hassle of hating it and returning it... if that's even allowed.

We have an office recliner that we barely use (similar to what's below), which might seem strange, but it actually reclines, and I wouldn't have to worry about an extra piece of furniture later on.  I am naively hoping that the baby won't need so much rocking (I have a stability ball for that).

If all else fails, I can make "The Ukrainian" run out and get one in a pinch, right?

The bottom line, though, is that my mother was able to raise all of us without so much stuff, so maybe cutting corners now wouldn't be so bad.  I mean, we all turned out fine. ;)  This baby already has so much more than we did, and it won't affect the type of person he or she will grow up to be.  Just like my running hasn't really gotten any better... though definitely more pleasant with stuff!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tracy Anderson - Pregnancy Project (Months 4-6)

Continuing from my first review of the first three discs on Tracy Anderson's Pregnancy Project, this brings us to the second trimester, where Tracy states that she wants to "focus on the butt."  I'm not sure why, but I preferred to hear that we were going to work on everything, maybe less on some parts, because I think it does hit most body parts.  I actually did the videos "on time" with these (whereas I was somewhat "catching up" with the first three discs), meaning I was as far along as the video "expected."

Month 4: This one is about 36 minutes long.  She starts off with some commentary about the wonders of entering the second trimester, blah blah, and then there is maybe 8 minutes of stretching, followed by kneeling arm work.  She says the kneeling is so you don't lose your balance while maintaining the speed of the movements, again with 3-lb weights.  The leg series is pretty much all done on all-fours, which is a position I don't like much because I think my wrists are pretty weak.  Still, though, I felt the burn, and the video is the right length.  Again, make sure your mat has good padding.

Month 5: This video rounded out at about 40 minutes.  Again, more commentary about how the baby is doing and how you're becoming all round and beautiful and all that stuff.  This is followed by stretching, weighted arms in kneeling position, and the usual leg/butt section.  I'm not sure why, but doing all the leg moves on all fours is just really tiring.  I actually didn't feel as much burn back there in this video, though of course this could be due to me having trouble keeping the form.  I think being in that position so much actually helps keep my upper body active, too.

Month 6: After a few minutes of notes about your baby's progress, this video is about 40 minutes long.  It starts with stretching, and then the arm segment is done first in standing position and then kneeling position, which is a nice change.  The arm sequence starts pretty easy (again 3-lb weights), but I did feel burn by the end.  The leg/butt section is mostly done on all-fours again, though thankfully, a few of the moves are done kind of propped up on your side.  This was such a nice change!

I'm glad I am not solely depending on these workouts.  While I think they are a nice mix-in, I sort of dread them because I don't like spending a lot of time on my hands and knees.  However, I DO think they are effective in keeping arm and leg tone.  After a while, you get used to Tracy and her weird outfits, and it does become easier to follow along since you are used to the moves.

Also, I started paying more attention to the bonus segments that come with every disc, with celebrities talking about their pregnancy/fitness experiences.  While I was able to grasp a few reassurances from them, of course I kept thinking, "Well, these people are celebrities and have trainers."

FTC Disclaimer: I purchased these discs on my own, and the opinions posted here are my own.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Core Sport Compression Socks

I'm trying to keep up with posting over here, but just when I think I'm on top of it, I notice that a week or more has gone by since my last post.  Weeks, however grueling at times, are definitely going by!

Speaking of weeks going by, I'm pretty much at the 6-month point of this baby business now.  I had wanted to be one of those pregnant runners sooooo badly, but early on I developed a pelvic joint issue that got so severe that it had to get evaluated to rule out something more serious.  I was prescribed some exercises that I've been trying to keep up with, but they require another person, so it doesn't always pan out. 

On the other hand, it has been hot and humid in this neck of the woods, so I guess running is kind of an unpleasant thought, anyway.  A couple of times, I actually woke up in the mood and in the right mechanical mode to run, which was pretty much amazing.

Some weeks ago.  Very much bigger now.
Of course, although I felt like I was running, it most likely did not look that way to others.  I think I went a bit over a mile before I incorporated walking.  I'm not sure how many more attempted runs there will be.  I do miss it, but not as much as I had anticipated yet I still think of it a lot.  Recently, I pulled my calf in bed, something that running used to do to me.

As another reminder, I was sent some Core Sport Compression Socks by Thera-Firm to review.  After looking at the sizing information, I decided that Medium was the right choice for me.  As a word to the wise, definitely measure your calf before buying compression socks of any kind!!

Some of its features (from here):
  • Graduated compression for better circulation and added support and stabilization
  • High-tech fibers that wick moisture away from the skin
  • Comfort top that stays in place without binding
  • Arch compression for added support
  • Anti-microbial to help prevent odor in the sock
  • Cushioned heel and foot to reduce impact

As with all compression gear, it was a bit tricky to put on, though admittedly I'm losing some flexibility, which could be the culprit.  A little bit of this is due to thicker material, but it does have great compression.  I imagine this would be great for post-race, during cooler weather, and just me trying to keep swelling and such under control (they have a maternity line, too).  As a warning, due to the thicker material, if your shoe is a tight squeeze already, a sleeve might be a better option. 

Approximately current image.
Really like this grey color!

I'm sure my return to running will be entertaining (and frustrating), but you'll have to stick around for that...

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of Core Sport Compression Socks to review and was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tracy Anderson - Pregnancy Project (Months 1-3)

I was a little hesitant to purchase pregnancy-specific workout videos, but it did not take me too long to realize that I would prefer to not have to think up "safe" variations each time I do a video.  I had seen a lot of Tracy Anderson videos online while researching barre stuff, so I thought I'd give her "Pregnancy Project" a try.

The fact that it had 9 DVDs was intriguing (although later I realized you're only supposed to do one per month, so not much variety at all), and I figured it wouldn't just be one of those too-easy videos since she seems to be known for results.

My initial impression of the cover was like O__o -- basically, WHY is she wearing only a lacy bra on the cover of a workout DVD?!  Well, you know what they say about books and their covers...

I was doing/still do some of my normal workout DVDs, skipping anything that feels odd and the ab portions.  So these videos were just part of my rotation throughout the first few months, though I admit I only worked out 4, maybe 5 days a week during that time instead of the more usual 5-7 that I've worked my way back up to now.  And usually, I didn't go much longer than 30-40 minutes versus 50 before.  Generally, these videos seem to fit in my time/energy constraints.

Here is a brief overview of the first three videos:

Month 1 - I'm not sure who knows they are pregnant in "month one," and if they do, why they would want to do something pregnancy-related already, I don't know.  I did this for the first time just after I passed the end of the second month.  It starts with stretching/arm work.  There aren't weights (even body weight) involved in the arm part here, but the arms are held up for SUCH a long time that I could not hang.  Then, there were a series of leg lifts done on all fours/on your side.  I actually found it painful to lie on my side due to my hip bones feeling the hard floor, so I'd recommend a thicker mat if you don't have carpet.  Finally, there is a weighted arm segment with the 3-pounders.  Although this was supposed to be tough since it was at the end, it was not as bad as the beginning part!

Month 2 - I did this for the first time during the third month.  Once again, it starts with stretching/arm work.  I was able to hang in there better this time, probably because it was shorter.  This was followed by arm work using the 3-lb weights.  It was a lot of micro-bending of the arms.  My arms are one area that I am very self-conscious about since I tend to store fat there and shoulders that cause me to hold my arms right up against my body, so I am all for this arm work!  The leg work section involved the chair, and a lot of leg lifts on all fours as well as standing.  I actually did feel the burn in my glutes on this.  Some of the movements are hard to follow along, at first.

Month 3 -This workout threw me off, because it just kept going and going.  I had to stop it in the middle so I wouldn't be late for work, only to notice it was nearly an hour long.  My first thought was, "I'm sorry, but what first-trimester pregnant person has the time/energy to work out for an hour?!"  Anyway, this video started with more arm work, and the bulk of the video was focused on leg-lifts, many done on all-fours.  Actually, you have to keep lowering to your elbows and maintain the coordination of the movements, which was tough.  It was at this point where I was getting bored of the repetition (20 reps per exercise!), music, and the same outfit she keeps wearing that makes it look like she's making some sort of inappropriate film instead of a workout DVD.  There was also an odd section where you needed a towel for some reason.  I did not come back to this video often.

Overall Review:

I think the exercises are pretty effective, though it takes a while to get used to her pace and form, especially if you are already slowing down for energy or other reasons.  Definitely get a thick mat, as you spend a lot of time on your knees/side!!  I have been throwing in these first few workouts in during the second trimester once in a while, because I don't really feel there is anything on there specifically not allowed in the second trimester (since that's where she is upon filming these!).

Stay tuned for my review of the rest of the series!

FTC Disclaimer: I purchased these discs on my own, and the opinions posted here are my own.