Saturday, February 28, 2015

Top Gear: Pregnancy Edition

Now that pregnancy seems infinitely long ago and I can't remember what it felt like to lug around 30 extra pounds, I thought I'd share some of the "things" that made the experience just a little bit easier.

I should preface this by adding, you don't really need any of this, just as you don't really need most of the stuff I review here for running and fitness.  But stuff is fun to talk about, right?

1) Burt's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter

There is no real defense against stretch marks, of course, but it did make me feel better to put something on my sensitive stretched skin that seemed natural. Plus, it kind of became a ritual.  After I had the baby, I felt a little nostalgic as I would rub on the last bits of my third jar on my post-partum belly.

Did it work?  Well, I used it from 9 weeks on and didn't get any stretch marks until the last few weeks, and those are the kind that I think I wouldn't scrutinize over too much because they kind of just went down as my belly did.  Who's to say whether the same thing would have happened sans this stuff?  Let's just say that if I ever am expecting again, I would use this stuff again.

2) Bare Food Ginger Chews

I was pretty nauseous during the first trimester, and these were the ginger candies that were sold at the convenience stores around my workplace.  Again, I felt better about the "natural" aspect of these.  I kept these on hand for train and car rides, especially.  Given how much I hated being nauseated, I would definitely eat these again if I had to.

3) Sour Candy

I actually ate less candy while pregnant than I did prior (and after, but that's a story for later, I guess).  However, in the very early weeks, these were also a staple in the car. 

4) BE Band

I got one of these at Target.  Now, I know how silly this looks, but in the first and part of the second trimester, I still wanted to wear my usual work pants and jeans.  I tried the "hair tie" trick where you use a hair tie through the button hole to hold your pants together, but it was not smooth nor comfortable because of possible exposure.  Around the mid-way point, I decided to go for actual maternity jeans (see #5).

Looking back, I think going directly to the jeans would have been a good idea, since after the mid-way point, my BE Band became pretty useless since it kept rolling up.  I thought I would use it again post-partum to hide my stomach while nursing or something, but again, the rolling.

5) Maternity Jeans

When I needed jeans, they weren't "in season" at the maternity store, so they only had stupid "skinny" ones that I hated. I was handed down a pair that had a partial panel instead of the full-type pictured above, but I guess I carried low because I could NOT get partial panel to work on me.  I got a straight-leg pair from Motherhood Maternity during a shopping spree that took place once I ran out of acceptable work clothes.

Jeans gave me a sense of normalcy, even though it was very hot weather-wise for most of my pregnancy.  I definitely recommend getting clothes that make you feel "normal" during an otherwise tough time!  When it comes to maternity clothes, I think used is the way to go.  They are so expensive!  I got many items handed down, but with a good dry clean, I think used is the way to go.

6) Boppy Sleeping Pillow

Speaking of hand-me-downs, I was lucky enough to have this given to me around the beginning of the second trimester when I was starting to break down from uncomfortable sleep and was searching for one online that wasn't $60+.  I wouldn't say this was the best of the pregnancy sleep pillows, but it did work better than my couch-pillows solution.  I even brought this with me when I stayed with a friend.  It could have stood to be a bit firmer and more supportive, though.

Toward the end, nothing, and I mean, nothing, would make sleeping a comfortable act.  Still, even if I wasn't given a pillow, I would have bought one, even if another brand.  I randomly saw some cheap(er) ones at Burlington Coat Factory.

7) Bra extenders

These can be purchased on eBay.  They allowed me to not have to get a ton of new bras when my already large rib cage wanted to expand even more.  Or maybe it was weight gain.  Either way, sometimes I'd chain two of these on...

8) Flat shoes, shoe horn

I wore my usual heels at work, but at lunch and during my commute, flat shoes (really, any kind that will fit!) were the way to go.  Also, toward the end, I had a tough time putting them on, so a shoe horn was useful here.

9) Smart Phone

As much of a curse it was to have Google at my fingertips to be paranoid, it also gave me access to prenatal workouts.  Plus, it was the only way I'd have something on hand to get belly shots in.  Although I found it weird to take selfies, I'm glad I snapped them now that I'm on the other side.  I can't believe I looked like that not too long ago!

10) Trader Joe's Cleansing Pads

I had to stop using a few of my usual skincare items when I realized they could be harmful, so I switched over to these cleansing pads.  They are strong, so you might tear up a bit at the smell at first, but they really do get rid of grime.  Perfect for problematic, hormonal skin.

11) Traditional Medicinals Organic Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

I read that drinking this close to the end of pregnancy would help with labor.  Obviously, I didn't get to test that theory completely, but based on how things went, I don't think it had any effect.  I probably started too little, too late (like at around 35 weeks because I was afraid it would cause early labor).  I'm not sure that I would try this again due to my risk/benefit mental calculation.

However, I will say that this stuff is worth having around.  I was drinking this stuff for quite a while before my pregnancy, and I think it is just a good tea for hormone regulation and supposedly cramps.

Well, that about rounds out (lol) this pregnancy gear list!  Hope you enjoyed it... because I'm planning on doing a post-partum edition and a "baby's first three months" edition when I get the chance.

FTC Disclaimer: I obtained these items on my own and am providing my honest opinions about them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: FitBit Charge HR

Although splurging on gadgets during my maternity leave is not the greatest idea, I had a trigger finger and a gift card that led me to be a proud new owner of a FitBit Charge HR.

I debated this purchase, for sure. I already don't run long enough to wear my Garmin. I have accomplished my goal of running 5k without stopping, albeit slowly and painfully, so my phone is my new tracker there. I ended up selling my heart rate monitor, since I was tired of the batteries dying and dealing with a chest strap.

With my little guy hitting three months, my maternity leave is ending, and so exercising is even harder to make time for because I'm making up for lost time together when I'm not at work. I restarted the T-25 program, and after a week of it took me two weeks to finish, I realized that structured exercise isn't easy.

Still, I'm having trouble with my work clothes fitting, and thus, daily activities are probably going to be main exercise for a while, and quantifying those would give me a better idea of how I'm doing.

The FitBit comes in several models, from basic that mostly counts steps to more complex. The Charge HR is the second most complex and expensive one. Among other things it calculates steps, analyzes sleep, and uses heart rate information to calibrate those.

The Charge HR came out of the box ready to use. I just had to download an app on my phone, and soon, it was ready to go. No need to use my computer, which is good when I'm doing the one-handed act with baby in tow. It charges via USB, but I use my phone charger's AC adapter. Batteries last a few days.

I set my daily goal to be 10,000 steps, or about 5 miles. Amazingly, although most of my days at home with baby are pretty darn sedentary, it's good to see I get at least part-way there. Pictured above is mid-day where I didn't get to take baby out in the stroller. I guess pacing inside does add up!

You can also track food and water intake, though I'm currently too lazy (busy?) to do so. 

The most interesting thing that this tracks is sleep patterns.  With a small baby, this is definitely useful to keep tabs of my (or the baby's!) sleeping habits.  Now I know that I get about 4-6 hours of broken sleep per night.  Hah!  And to end that sleep, the silent alarm (vibrates on your wrist) is nifty!

As for the accuracy of this tracker, I'd say that the sleep tracking is probably not as accurate as I'd like.  For instance, I would be laying but not asleep sometimes, and it would count it as sleep.  Or sometimes, I'm pretty sure I dozed off, and it wouldn't count!  Still, it is fun to see this kind of data, even if it IS an approximation.  I could say the same about the heart rate and calorie information, but seeing it spelled out is motivating.  Here's to hoping it gets me to walk a few extra steps each day!

FTC Disclaimer: I purchased this on my own, and my opinions are my honest ones!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fifteen Things

A while back, I was tagged in a post by Cindy, and as behind as I am on posting my version of it, I still wanted to fill it out.
Luckily, you'll be spared of links because I still haven't moved forward from blogging from my phone yet (soon, I hope!).
1) What is my current health related goal?

I'd like to be able to run a 5k straight without stopping. Pathetically, this is tough for me, though I've only tried twice postpartum. I'm pooping out at around the 2-point-something mile point. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. 
Along with everything else, my lungs took a hit after Baby Tuesday's birth. I didn't follow instructions and do the lung exercises I was told to do in the hospital because I was nauseated and frankly forgot. In the weeks after we came home, I was told I snored, which is not normal for me. One night, I woke up mid-snore and realized it was fluid in my lungs. Luckily, it cleared on its own eventually. Of course, months of lower impact exercising during my pregnancy could also be to blame...
2) What is my biggest irrational fear?
Red lights in the dark, and not having enough money. 
3) Do I enjoy wrapping presents?
No. I use (and reuse, hah!) bags mostly. I'll only attempt wrapping if it's a perfect box shape.
4) What is my favorite cross training activity?
Workout videos, like Insanity.
5) If you came to visit me, what would we do?
If Cindy visited, I'd imagine that we'd hang out somewhere in LA (I live more eastward) and our sons could have a play date when mine is older.
6) I have two weeks off work and two round trip plane tickets to anywhere. Where would I go and who would I take?
I was lucky enough to go on some trips before I had the baby (links to old posts would go here), and I can't imagine going anywhere right now with baby in tow. But in the future, we'd like to visit the UK and go back to Japan.
7) What’s the most embarrassing thing to happen to me during a run or a race?
I think had mentioned it somewhere in the blog before, but my first track and field race was 100 meter hurdles because I was subbing for someone, and I think I "ate it" on hurdles 7, 8, 9, and 10. People clapped for me when I finally crossed the finish line. My wounds were cleaned with a water bottle, but the wound to my ego never went away.
8) Three best days of my life? Or at least the top three that come to mind.
1) I know I'm supposed to say the day my son was born, but I was sooo pukey and slept through most of it. So I'm going to say the day (well, night) we all came home from the hospital as a family. I was coherent by then.

2) The day "The Ukrainian" proposed. It was just our moment, and although our wedding day was fun, it was stressful at times.

3) The day I graduated from grad school. Imagining that day was the only thing that kept me going sometimes.

9) Okay, so I HAVE to eat a fast food meal. Which restaurant would I choose and what do I order?
In n Out. Even their meatless option ("grilled cheese") is divine. Second is probably Chick-Fil-A, as politically incorrect as it is. Something about waffle fries and a million sauces is magical to me.
10) Have I ever met a celebrity?
I don't frequent the right part of LA, apparently. I've met my favorite musician, Moby, a few times, and had a few sightings when I'm out, but that's about it.
11) Share a pic of myself in non-workout clothes.

Tuesday and me on Christmas. Haven't been in front of the camera much lately. Another "soon, I hope" thing.
12) If I could choose to have a “do over” and switch careers, what would I choose and why?
Eye doctor? Programmer? But my path led me to meet "The Ukrainian" (we met at work), and thus Baby Tuesday would not exist had I done something else. I'd like to have done something that would make flexible working schedules a little more likely.
13) If I won an Olympic Gold Medal, how do I think I would react?
In what? *LOL*
I'm sure I'd be elated, and then probably post a selfie, haha.
14) What do I want for Christmas?
I'm so late to this that I'm writing for 2015, but I'd like to complete my 30th half marathon, most likely in December. I also can't wait to spend the holidays with a non-newborn version of my son, seeing the holidays through the eyes of a kid again. 
Time to work out would be great, too.
Materially, I am sure I will need some new work clothes by then. At the moment, I can use a new pair of house slippers. My current pair is falling apart everywhere in the house.
15) What skill do I lack?
Too many! If I had to pick one, I think I could work on my parking skills. I'm terrible at it but have been able to survive in LA by avoiding areas with tough parking scenarios or just parking further away.
I have no idea who is still blogging these days...