Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Pretty Much Half

What's in this box? (Hint: Not a carseat!)
Right around now (19 and a half-ish weeks), I am at the halfway point of this pregnancy, based on my experience last time and the general medical plan right now.  Of course, I was "given" a few weeks in the beginning due to the way these things are calculated, so this half will probably feel long...

...Or maybe not.  The first half was spent being very tired, very aversive to many things, and was nausea-ville.  Not to mention, most of it was spent in triple-digit, mosquito crazy weather.  So although I'm already feeling big, kind of tired, ache-y, and still not completely back on the food wagon yet, I think better weather and the upcoming holidays will help distract me as things progress.  Cooler weather will also allow me to cover up more!!

I know I haven't been very good about documenting this pregnancy, though I don't think I documented much the first time, either.  I have some pictures, but I haven't done any direct comparisons with last time in terms of my size or anything.  I DO feel like I got bigger more quickly, and I am fairly certain I will be much bigger at the end than I was last time, as if that wasn't already big enough!

I finally was able to put on the weight expected for this point in the pregnancy after holding steady for pretty much the first 17 or 18 weeks.  I blame that on the food aversions, but the baby is measuring a few days ahead just like my last and had the same estimated weight at the anatomy scan that my older one was (and he was close to 8 lb at birth).  This just tells me that babies will suck up whatever they need, regardless of what I do or don't do.  I was slow to gain last time, too, but I caught up... and then some!

Workouts have been a challenge.  Being a working parent is challenging, and now that I am trying to sleep a bit more (in preparation!) and am drained by the evening, my windows of exercise have shrunk.  I don't have any more restrictions from a medical standpoint, but most forms of activity are off the table now because my chiropractor told me some of the things I was doing was going to undo the stuff they are trying to help me treat.  Besides general hip alignment, I am having issues that I had my last pregnancy and trying to get on top of that before it limits my mobility even more than now.  Also, I started going in hopes that it would set me up for a better birth experience.  Yes, I know it didn't guarantee that last time, but every moment is another chance, right?

For now, some prenatal workouts, walking, raising an almost three-year-old, and cleaning/errands are probably my primary forms of exercise.  I'm okay with this, mostly because all I can focus on are how busy and tired I am.  I figure that when I finally hop back onto exercise, anything will feel like a challenge, and my body will benefit from things that I thought were "nothing" before in my fitter days.  And since I'm nearly certain this is going to be my last pregnancy, I'll just enjoy it and then focus on my best self after it's all said and done.

The baby's getting a workout, too -- I've felt distinct movement since Week 17, and sometimes they are STRONG.  I don't think I got a head start feeling movement this time as I've heard can happen in a second pregnancy, so I did spend a week or two worrying.  Now that I can feel the baby daily, I am a lot more relaxed.


www.acaseoftheruns.com
This was 18 weeks. Yes, shameful work bathroom
selfie, but the main reason I took this picture
was because this mirror was just put in out
of seemingly nowhere.
I glazed over the fact that I've had the anatomy scan done already.  We opted to find out the sex of the baby this time because with my anxieties about having two kids, I just wanted one less unknown.  Of course, I was already relieved/elated that things were looking good with the baby so far.  So finding out the sex was just icing on the cake, and if for some reason the baby did not cooperate, I would take it as a sign to wait to know like last time.

I went to the scan alone since we didn't have child care arrangements for Baby Tuesday and kids aren't allowed in there for some reason.  The technician was really great and printed way more pictures than I got last time, probably because she felt sorry for me.  When she asked if I wanted to know, I said, "YES," and told me that she peeked a few times during the actual medical part of the scan.  She zoomed to the area of interest and told me matter-of-factly what she was pretty sure it is and showed me as well.  Given that I didn't have this experience last time, I am a touch paranoid about a wrong guess, but I guess would be a pretty interesting story to tell at some point!

Since I was the only one who knew besides the technician at that point, I decided to do a little reveal for "The Ukrainian" and Tuesday when I got home.  That is the picture you see at the top of this post, screen-shotted from a video I took of the moment.  This is where I annoyingly have to stop, since we have kept the news to ourselves as a family unit for a couple of weeks now and will slowly be telling family over the next couple of weeks, pretty much on an "if they ask us" basis.  I will definitely update once they know and talk about some of the preparations that are (and aren't) in the works for going from three to four.

Any guesses before I post? ;)


**Edited to add: I had to go back and edit this post a few times because "pregnancy brain" is real!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Baby's First Flight

www.acaseoftheruns.com
By "baby," I'm referring to the one that is already here, although technically, the other one got to fly, too.

But that means that this was NOT the first flight for the big "baby."  Hmmm.

Anyway, we had wanted to go on a family trip for a while.  For his age (at least compared to me when I was his age), Tuesday has been to many places.  We've done road trips to San Diego several times, once to Solvang, and all the way up to Stanford more than a year ago.  I think that last trip was so exhausting that we shied away from trying that again.  However, I'm always glad in retrospect to make the effort.

Traveling with Tuesday shouldn't be such a big deal.  I remember his first trip down to San Diego was when he was five months old, with me still pumping in the back seat while he napped.  That trip was easy, but as he got older, he started exhibiting motion sickness.  It didn't matter if the ride was 20 minutes or longer, and it happened often, though not every time.  This pretty much eliminated all possible forms of in-car entertainment.  We tried snacks, Sea Bands, timing meals, naps, pacifiers, lollipops, and finally, we decided to flip his car seat forward after he turned two after asking his pediatrician who shrugged and said it might help.  Nope.

So when we finally decided to try a short flight (~50 min from LA to San Francisco), I knew we were essentially playing with fire, but oh well... easier with one kid than two while we can, right?

Right?

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Botched selfie before takeoff.
 
So we bought a fairly cheap car seat that would fit on a plane (Cosco Scenera for anyone interested) and held our breath.  We decided to use a car seat because I'm a paranoid person and also because we had taken an Uber to the airport (which he threw a tantrum on.. sorry, Uber driver).  I knew something was amiss when he started to cry mid-flight and wanted to get out of the seat.  Unfortunately, they were saying there was turbulence and all had to remain seated.  They even stopped drink service.  Strangely, I didn't feel anything, and I'm very sensitive to that stuff, so who knows.  I pretty much just undid all my precaution and picked him up onto my lap anyway since no attendants would be walking around to tell me otherwise.
 
A while later came my lapful of puke, all over my baby bump and down my pants.  A young lady across the way was looking on with disgust, but all we could really do was just swiftly change him with the spare outfit I had in my backpack and then take off my shirt.  Luckily, I had been wearing an open flannel that didn't get that dirty, so my wonderful husband held it up as a modesty shield while I quickly changed and then put it back on, buttoned.  I would be walking around with half-puke through the train ride and walk to our hotel, which was like two hours later.  Fun times.
 
Other than that, we did not have any more incidents like that on the trip.  He fell asleep on the plane ride home, which was immensely helpful and made me believe that the extra trouble of bringing a car seat was worth it.  We had a lot of fun taking our time to explore San Francisco like a tourist, since all the times before I had pretty much rushed in and out of there.  All the forms of transit were so fun for him, and he did very well with regards to using the bathroom in many random places. 
 
Some random pictures:
 




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Every place where a train can be played with, it will be played with (Ghirardelli Square). 
 
www.acaseoftheruns.com
Tourist trap: cable car ride.  He loved it, but I did not love the slow wait to get onboard.
 
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Breakfast at the Embarcadero.

Boudin = bread, bread, and more bread. 



P.S. I love LA.  Every time I visit another major city, I am reminded of how used to LA I am, but it's great to see other places. :)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Taking it Easy on Yourself - Commercial Silk Review

It has been a tough couple of months.  Work has been very busy, we had a several-week long heat wave (with temps 100+), and I have not been feeling so well.

I am hoping that since it's almost Fall (late September), that things will get better.  I'm definitely less nauseous, and today, the temperature was under 80 degrees!!

I've been pretty hard on myself recently because I would do things like not eat the healthiest, skip workouts because I'm too tired/it's too hot, or oversleep and then miss another workout opportunity.  If I miss mornings, I'm pretty done for the day since I tire out from working and the day.  However, I know I need to be kinder to myself and slow down sometimes.

We're finally taking a family trip soon, which is exciting!!  I haven't been anywhere in a good while, and we get to take the boy on his first plane ride.

Another enjoyable thing is that I received a lovely addition to my home from Commercial Silk (http://www.commercialsilk.com/artificial-plants).

 
 
I was immediately drawn to this mini cherry blossom bonsai tree.  I think it adds a nice touch to the mantle and reminds me of my trip to Japan almost four years ago.




 
 
Since I'm fairly incompetent when it comes to gardening, I really appreciate having a silk-based, realistic-looking plant in the house that requires no care and brightens my day every time I see it.  Even the dirt looks real... and no bugs!!

 
 
If you are looking for something like this for either yourself or as a gift, I definitely recommend checking out Commercial Silk.  They have larger and smaller trees and other topiaries for indoor and outdoor applications.  With the need to conserve water here in California, it is nice to have this realistic and sturdy option.
 
 



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FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample from Commercial Silk but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive opinion.

For more information:
https://www.facebook.com/commercialsilkplantsandtrees/
https://twitter.com/commercialsilk
https://plus.google.com/114344915777974160330/posts
http://www.pinterest.com/artificialitems/artificial-trees-plants-installation/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLt2stat4Oo

Friday, September 1, 2017

All About Carbs

Thanks to those who commented on my last post!  It all seems pretty unreal right now, but I'm starting to get pretty impatient and excited!

I wanted to talk about one of everyone's favorite things -- yep, carbs.  In my last pregnancy, I was shocked that I ended up developing gestational diabetes.  After my son was born, I didn't exactly stay on top of watching my diet, and my yearly blood sugar tests kept inching toward pre-diabetes. 

Earlier this year, I decided to reign it in and go back on a similar diet I did during pregnancy -- basically, low carb.  I was eating a ton of fat, just trying to see what would happen.  Well, by the time my next scheduled blood sugar check came along, I was pregnant.  I had been tested early last pregnancy, and this time was no different.  The results showed that my average blood sugar level was the lowest it's been in years, and I passed my glucose test with flying colors.  (I also did a separate lipid panel, and all looks great there, so don't fear eating fat, people!!)

Now that I'm getting closer to the midway point of my pregnancy, I know I'm going to have to start spot-checking my blood sugar soon, as I don't know yet what this pregnancy is doing to me yet.  Normally, the gestational diabetes test is given around weeks 25-28, which is when I found out last time, but some crude research has convinced me that the condition may roll in as early as 20 weeks.  Thus, a have about a month left -- not to indulge in carbs, but you know what I mean.

I haven't exactly been the best eater this pregnancy so far.  My "morning" sickness has been significantly worse than last time.  Even now, at about 15 weeks, still feel nauseated, though mostly at night, and my aversions to smells and certain foods has lingered.  Thus, I've been pecking away at carbs more than I should, but I've at least been trying to moderate how many I have at a time.  As I am slowly, slowly starting to feel better, I have been trying to incorporate more fat and protein, but I still can't really stand chicken or avocado or some of my old low-carb staples.  At least there's cheese, though even that had been iffy for me for a time period.

Anyway, I will be HIGHLY surprised if I don't get diagnosed again this pregnancy, but I guess you never know.  I've seen stats like 57% chance of a repeat diagnosis, versus figures like 80%.  My activity level has been about the same so far -- I want to step it up, but from my last post, you'll remember I have some complicating factors, not to mention, it has been so, so, so hot around here (approaching 110 degrees), which makes it nearly impossible to function, let alone exercise.  Come on, September and Fall!

If this does happen again, hopefully I will already be eating appropriately by then, so I won't experience the utter disappointment and adjustment of last time.  The only thing, though, is that a diagnosis could affect whatever the birth plan I have.  There's really no point, since nothing with birth is planned, as I have learned. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Latest Addition

Please excuse my latest extended absence, but I am back for now.

In January of 2012, I wrote a post about "The Ukrainian" (my husband) was being upgraded.

If all goes well, another family member is getting an upgrade soon.

www.acaseoftheruns.com
Big Brother is watching you.

Yes, I am pregnant again.  This news came as a bit of a shock to some of the few we've told, who perhaps thought I was pretty much "one and done," and even myself, who considered selling off all the used baby stuff many times.  I don't really plan on going "public" this time, so if you don't know and just happened to stumble upon this, now you do. ;)  I have had a few complications that make me hesitant to broadcast, but things are far enough along now that regardless of how this goes, it's significant and worth blogging about.

This pregnancy is different in that I already know what to expect once the baby comes, moreso than I thought I did the first time around.  For example, I KNEW sleep was going to be slim, but I did not know how much it would impact every fiber of my body.  The sleep thing is actually creating the most anxiety for me right now, though it's not limited to that (for example, the birth ranks second), and I fully acknowledge that I'm going to have to face these things -- and more -- again in turn... and hopefully seek help if needed this time.

Putting that aside, I am curious how this baby will be similar or different than the child we already have.  I have four siblings who defined much of my life, so I'm hoping Tuesday ultimately enjoys having one... if not now, then someday.  I know I wasn't obligated to give him one, so the decision of having another really settled on a few personal factors that ultimately brought us here.  I know things are going to be chaotic for the next few years.  I might be outnumbered at times.  The introvert in me is psyching myself up for that, though I guess at least Tuesday is older and is interactive, helpful when he wishes, and getting more independent by the day

Second, onto vanity... I don't know what will become of my body, since I was already not the same after the first.  My stomach never flattened no matter how much ab work I did, and whenever I'd get bloated, you could totally see where the weaknesses in my core lie and when I lay down, I could feel where my abs never quite came back together.  I don't know if C-section or the fact that I don't spend as much time working out anymore contributed, though prior to this pregnancy, I was below my first pre-pregnancy weight and had a leaner mass overall.  Finding time to work out is going to get even more challenging.  At least my home gym is poppin' (I was not pregnant, nor planning to be, when this was set up or when I quit the gym).

I'm also worried about my career.  After Tuesday was born, I landed the most amazing job and hope to continue on with it.  It is so hard to be a working mom even with one, so I'm bracing myself here.  We are planning on bringing in help... wish me luck there!!

I've spent a lot of time talking about worries and logistics, but don't get me wrong, this baby is already very much loved, and I am excited to experience the mother/baby bond again.  By the way, I think it's totally okay to not be 100% excited about going through baby life again, and knowing that they grow to be cute little people puts everything into the bigger scheme of things.  I am not the type of parent who'd paint motherhood into a perfect pretty picture, so there.

Anyway, I am 14 weeks along at this point (pic on right), so I'm putting this out there a bit earlier than last time.  I found out super early, because I guess I recognized how it felt immediately and had two expired tests confirm.  I have had a lot of the same aversions/cravings as last time (weird carb-y things, which does not jive with my blood sugar) and just random waves of nausea throughout the day.  I have a lot more sensations of soreness and pain than last time, which worries me in terms of how I'll cope as I get bigger.  I'm probably just slightly more tired this time, thanks to insomnia and a toddler to keep up with.  But overall, the ickiness of the first trimester has been awfully persistent this time, and I keep hoping each time I feel bad will be the last time.

I've gained pretty much nothing so far, although I think much muscle has been replaced by fat.  I'm not concerned since I gained about 35 lb last time and know it will catch up with me soon, especially once I feel better.  I was hoping that more running would occur this pregnancy than my last, which would be easy since I barely ran at all last time after I completed Big Sur.  However, after spending the early weeks fairly active, I was thrown into a semi-high-risk category and put on limited activity for several weeks.  The restrictions were later removed (even though the issues are technically still there!), but getting back into things isn't going well.  I'm just trying to do anything to stay active at this point, and since I'm still feeling rather blah, it's touch and go around here.  I should add that so far, the baby is perfectly fine, so in spite of everything, I am grateful for that fact and will hope that things stay on course.

Speaking of courses/races, I am afraid I will most likely have to break my streak of Lunar New Year zodiac races, since the next one is right up on my due date, and I am almost certain I won't make it because I am under recurrent C-section watch, and even if not, then I'd need a pre-due date labor/delivery.  While I'm bummed about this, I'm so used to not having control of stuff by now that I will just roll with it.

We don't know the sex of the baby yet.  We did not opt to find out until he was born last time, but now that I feel compelled to plan more this time due to anxiety, we are going to find out.  Also, I just want to have the "other" experience.  Of course, we'd be happy with either. 

Sorry for the long post!  I'll probably add updates as we go along.  I think I should at least address my blood sugar issues and how that's going.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Week of Potty Training

I'm not going to put pictures in this post... just because of the subject matter.  If you don't care for bodily functions (though think of the title of this blog!), please skip this post.

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Part of what has made my transition to motherhood so difficult is my constant worry that I am not doing a good job of parenting my son.  This is because my mother is pretty much the epitome of a great mother.  She raised five children over a span of decades and continues this in her role as a grandparent with less spousal involvement than I currently expect from my own husband. 

I realize there are some cultural and generational factors involved, but I do often feel bad that, in addition to holding down a job, I sometimes just want a break from the constant barrage of needs or I don't know how to handle things like fighting naps, not listening to me, etc.

The latest item is potty training.  My husband and I had agreed to make an attempt this summer, since it's acceptable to walk around with minimal clothing.  The boy is around 2 2/3 years old, which some would argue is too early, and some would say too late.  Most of my fellow parents with similar-aged kids had started/completed the process and insisted that I could do it, so I was feeling bad that I had even waited until this point.

I read too many things about "signs of readiness," and I felt he was ready -- great communicator, fighting diaper changes, knows about the potty, minds cleanliness to an extent.  We started a little more than a week ago, and from the get-go, I was doubting whether I was reading his readiness signs correctly and whether I had set him up for failure.  We went cold turkey on the diapers and only do pull-ups at night.  I know the nighttime thing is under debate, and whether he'd get confused wearing pull-ups at all, but he still sleeps comfortably in the crib and weren't prepared to make two big changes at once.  Of course, my wonderful mother used to wake us up in the middle of the night to take us to the potty, which I can't imagine doing for the time being.

It was clear that those "train your kid in a weekend" stuff was not going to work on our son, and every time I came across a "she just trained herself" claim, I wanted to roll my eyes as I cleaned up yet another puddle that happened RIGHT after we took him from the potty. 

After the first five days with pretty much no progress, I wanted to give up.  I didn't want him to start feeling bad since he's not ready.  It would just be easier to wait until he's old enough to tell me that he's done with diapers and is magically trained, right??? 

We dialed the pressure down but kept going as to not confuse him.  Some days later, the number of accidents went down.  He still generally does not communicate in advance that he needs to go.  However, I think he's slowly learning to use those (many) opportunities when we take him to the potty to actually use it, at least at home.  That's actually pretty great progress to me... as I will take ANYTHING at this point.  We're giving it another couple of weeks before I would let myself give up.

While we are nowhere near trained at all, I am starting to see some hope that this will someday be something I can look back on with humor and tell myself that while I'm not a perfect parent, I'll get the job done with minimal permanent issues (I mean, I don't remember much of being potty trained, do you???).  All the while, I'm trying my best to not make this unpleasant for my son.  After all, he loves underwear and not getting diaper rashes anymore.  And I love that even if the poop sometimes doesn't end up in the right place, at least it's not sticking all over in a diaper.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: Jabra Elite Sport

It has been a while since I've done a gear review here, but I am excited to write this one.  The reason for my excitement is that I have had terrible luck with wireless Bluetooth headphones, and the product I'm reviewing not only fits that bill... it does so much more!

The Jabra Elite Sport headphones have good sound quality, stay in my ear well, and has a heart-rate monitoring function!!  This means carrying one less device when working out.

Official description:

Jabra Elite Sport is the most technically advanced true wireless pair of sports earbuds available. The fully sweat proof and waterproof Elite Sport is the ultimate training aid that delivers freedom of movement on any terrain. When paired with the Jabra Sport Life app, the earbuds deliver the most comprehensive range of audio training tools, including an in-ear heart rate monitor, in-ear intelligent coaching, VO2 Max fitness testing, automatic repetition counting, a race-time predictor and a recovery advisor.

Upon opening the package, I was impressed with the slick charging apparatus/case, yet overwhelmed with a bunch of tiny ear plugs and wings.  However, this was a one-time thing and allowed me to try out many different sizes so that the ear bud fits and stays in my ear, especially if I'm going to be jumping around.  Admittedly, it took me a while to figure out how everything fits together and fit well in my ear, but once I got that, I could jump and run around with no issues.







 
Snug as a bug:
 
 
 
I downloaded the app and entered a few stats on myself. (age, weight, gender).  There was then a test screen that asked me to run/jump for a few seconds to make sure the right ear bud was picking up a heart-rate. 
 
The app has an Activity screen where you can select a workout such as running and walking, and it even includes built-in workouts!  These built-in workouts talk to you through the headphones and provide music (though you can also play your own).  There are also several coaching programs such as pace and heart-rate targeting that also guide you via in-ear instructions!
 
Speaking of music, the sound quality is great!  Compared to other wireless Bluetooth headphones I've used, I feel like the sound is very clear.  There are volume control and selection buttons on the buds, which you can use to answer your phone calls.
 


As for the heart-rate sensor, I feel that it was pretty accurate, since I am used to seeing what my Apple Watch registers.  This is a great alternative to wearing a separate heart-rate monitor!

I'm really looking forward to using these headphones more, as I do a lot of workouts off my cell phone in situations where I don't want sound to be coming out.  Having the portable workouts is even better, and it will even sync up with some other apps such as RunKeeper.

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FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of Jabra Elite Sport headphones but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review.
 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Quitting the Gym... Again Again

That's not a typo: this is the second time that I have voluntarily called it quits on my gym membership.  Before I had my child, I didn't have a membership because I was commuting a lot and had discovered the wonders of home workout videos.  Prior to that, I had access via work, though really, I was running outdoors a lot and didn't really need it, anyway.

After I returned to work post-baby, I didn't work out for a while trying to balance everything, and I quickly started a new job.  Once I got comfortable with that and was pumping fewer times at work than when I started, I joined the gym because I could use it during lunch hour -- my only break during those hectic days.  By then, I was about six months postpartum and was only working out randomly at home sometimes.  I think I went to the gym about three times a week after that point, which was gold.

As time went on, I started working from home more because I was transferred to a different department, and I found that less commuting meant I could make more time for workouts.  My son grew older, and now his care during the day went from very inconvenient to extremely convenient.  Ironically, I only made it to the gym once or twice a week.  I think it was because I had made significant progress in my little "home gym" project and started to use that out of convenience.  However, around the same time, I got into heavy lifting more, so I justified keeping my gym membership just for that.

The gym has been critical to me for two things besides weights.  First, when I do come into the office, it's convenient for me to go very early to beat traffic and go to the nearby gym before work.  I wouldn't be able to shower at home because that would wake everyone (yeah, ugh...).  Second, since my kiddo is still very attached to me, sometimes going to the gym was the only way I'd get a workout and shower in without being noticed.

After my first year of gym membership, I got an e-mail saying that my rate was going up, at which point I said I would get a squat rack and quit the gym.  That didn't happen.  Now, another year went by, and I recently got this:

As your partner in fitness we are proud to support your fitness goals, and we would like to thank you for being a member of [GYM]. We work hard to provide you with quality services, facilities and amenities that enable you to get the most out of every workout.
To ensure we're able to continue to meet your needs, your membership rate will be increasing by $1.57 per month. Effective July 2017, your new monthly dues rate will be $XX.XX plus applicable taxes. We do our best to keep your rate as low as possible while delivering you the best fitness experience at a great value.

Although I thought I was getting a good deal initially, this was the second raise in two years, and who knows how many will follow?  The gym was not improving at all.  Equipment was still down too often, showers mediocre, and it was still too crowded for me to do what I wanted all the time.  So the next day after I got the message, I called and cancelled my membership.

Where does this leave me?  Well, I know I didn't mention it here, but several months ago, we finally took the plunge and got a treadmill for our garage gym.  While I tend to run outdoors when I can, "The Ukrainian" often prefers the treadmill, and this opens up running during off-times.  I've tripped too many times in the dark to trust myself from being that hardcore, plus, we live in an area where coyotes and other wildlife have been seen.  Having an indoor treadmill also helps with cardio warm-ups for other workouts I might do.

I won't be able to work out anymore on the days I come into the office.  I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do about that.  Maybe I will just do a lot of walking on those days, do some resistance training at my desk, or maybe even try working out at the home gym without showering??  Same for times when I need to get away -- I just need to work around my toddler's needs and maybe go without showering more often.

I still don't have that squat rack, though I think that is in my near future.  It would pay for itself in about three months of not paying gym dues and another three months for the barbell.  We have a smaller barbell that I can use for training in the meantime.  Money isn't exactly an issue, but it's the principle... the same one that got me to quit the gym in the first place.  Plus, I primarily do workout videos, anyway.

Anyway, I don't think this is going to be a huge deal, but if anyone in a similar position is thinking about quitting the gym, I thought I'd provide my perspective on making this kind of decision while still staying committed to regular exercise.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Walking Science Experiment

Whew.

Since I'm all about controlling my blood sugar these days, I spend a lot of my time planning out my food, discovering new foods, and looking at the ways I react to certain foods.  This post is a random list of what I've learned so far.

  • As I mentioned in my last post, although my doctor told me that spot-checking my blood glucose levels wouldn't be useful at the level that I'm at, I have found that it has been a huge help.  So thank you, Amazon, for selling affordable test strips.

  • In my last post, I also said that rice is a no-no.  I did a second test where I had just HALF a cup of brown rice, along with other things in a meal (protein, fat)... unlike last time when I had white rice in isolation.  Yet still, it did seem to raise my levels, so now I'm pretty much avoiding rice altogether.  This is useful information.  I've read that basmati rice might be an option since it's lower glycemic, so that will be the next test I do.  Yes, it sucks... being Asian-American... rice is huge.  I've been eating riced cauliflower and quinoa instead for now.  On that same thread, I suspect Japanese food will need to be limited since it contains a lot of "hidden" sugars.

  • Pasta seems to raise me a bit, but at a more manageable level.  I don't eat pasta very often to begin with, so this isn't super useful information, but it's good to know I can pick at some without ill effects.

  • I haven't done too much testing on sweets (baked goods in particular) yet, and the main reason for that is because a) I've found many alternatives to sweets (more on that later?), and b) I find that eating sweets begets cravings for them.  The first month after my test, I was pretty strict about my sweet/carb intake, and although I had a rough period where I craved things, that passed, so I don't want to trigger them again.  Now, there have been weak moments, mostly when we are at events, where sweets have not spiked me since I just nibble and eat other things with them.  This is good news.

  • Finally, I ate a lot of yogurt, some of it sweetened, in the past year, so I wanted to see if this was what was contributing to my poor results.  Well, I finally got the courage to test this (those Fage Crossovers are the BOMB), and nope... it's not that.  Very good to know, but I'll be saving those for treats since again, the sugar within might beget cravings.

  • I have switched to sprouted and einkorn (primitive wheat) bread, which I tolerate well, but I haven't really eaten other breads yet.  I will be sure to test other breads as I try them, but honestly, the sprouted breads are so tasty.  Bagels are a monster -- I'm not sure if I will test those or not, unless I get really desperate.  I used to love bagels, but it was another one of those items I cut in recent years since I have long known how carb-y they are.

  • Back to the first bullet-point, my advice is to take charge of your health.  My doctors have not addressed my test results and probably would not until I plunge into full-blown diabetes.  They cared when I was pregnant and cared about my son when he was born, but otherwise, we are kind of on our own.  I think this is typical of doctors as a whole and not just mine, likely because of costs and limited understanding of these types of things.

This is very preliminary, but aside from rice, I think that if I just spread my carb intake throughout the day, I might be all right.  It does make me wonder why my official numbers have been high, but maybe it was more related to timing than anything else.

I should add that a few months into moderating my carb intake, I've felt pretty good overall.  Yes, there are rough days, but overall, I think I have a little more energy than before.  It does kind of burn me out to put so much thought into tracking and timing and testing.  For example, if I've eaten a smaller meal and get hungry shortly after, I can't eat again until it's time to test my glucose levels if I'm testing a good.  Also, going out is more complicated, and I find that's where I'm making the most "mistakes."  I'm hoping all these things get better with time, and this close tracking/monitoring period is going to be temporary until I knock the training wheels off.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing if I can move the dial back, but along the way, I'm doing something good for myself.  Perhaps this is all just one of those veiled blessings.

On the note of blessings, Happy (early) Mother's Day to those in the motherly roles in life!  Mothers make the world go 'round!  Although I typically don't really celebrate myself on this day because we're busy celebrating the older generations, I'm so lucky to have so many to celebrate with right now.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Diabetes, part 2

This is NOT a topic I had wanted to come upon again, yet here we are.

In a post that I linked above, I talked about my unexpected run (hah) with gestational diabetes and how this is something that is now underlined in my medical history.  Last year, I vaguely mentioned that my yearly follow-up test didn't go in the direction I had wanted, but I figured that this was a function of a lack of sleep and its associated effects on my hormone (and carb consumption) level.

Now, I had not been perfect throughout life, leading a high-ish-carb existence as many do.  However, after pregnancy, I got used to eating a modified diet already.  I pretty much quit eating candy because somewhere in my mind had an apprehension of that.  After nursing, I stopped eating oatmeal and fruit in the morning in favor of Greek yogurt, eggs, and protein powders/bars.  In this past year, I've had boba drinks (a cultural staple, ha ha!) maybe twice, and I always get them "half-sweet" or even unsweetened.  My Starbucks orders were 1 pump or sugar-free, and I don't even go nearly as often as before.  I tracked my intake for months as well.   I don't get out as much as before and to top that off, work from home mostly now, so access to baked goods, sweets, and any of my other beloveds went way down.  Physical activity hasn't really ever been a problem because I've prioritized exercise as my "me-time."

So this is kind of how my test results have been over the years:

  • Pre-pregnancy: Unfortunately, was never formally tested, but all worksite biometric screenings (random blood sugar pricks) came out fine.

  • Very beginning of pregnancy: Normal A1C (average blood sugar over a 3-month period) result, which leads me to believe that I did not have blood sugar issues prior to this point.

  • Last third of pregnancy: Majorly failed glucose tolerance test and controlled diet for remainder of pregnancy -- from my glucometer, I did see I had a legitimate issue controlling blood sugar after eating certain foods/amounts.

  • Two months post-partum: No tests done on me until this point -- A1C went up by .1 from initial pregnancy number, 2-hour glucose tolerance test (the "gold standard" test) passed, worksite biometric screening was fine

  • One year post-partum: A1C went up by .1 again, now at "pre-diabetic level," although worksite biometric screening went fine

  • Two years post-partum (present): A1C unchanged

Although there was no change from last year, I considered this present result a blow because I couldn't rationalize it (aka., blame it on lack of sleep) at all.  But I guess rationalizing it doesn't matter.  I could tell myself that A1C tests can be off (by as much as .5), but it doesn't change the fact that I had legitimate issues controlling my blood sugar for a period and have a huge elevated risk of diabetes in my future.  I don't know if it's a matter of "when" instead of "if," but I don't want to go down that route.  I got a taste of life with diabetes and know far too many who deal with it regularly.

I'm back to micro-managing my intake.  I'll track for a while until it becomes habit and take controlled breaks from tracking, but I think I will need to keep breaks to no more than a month just to be sure I don't veer off.  I even started doing random blood glucose checks since I still have my meter and found cheap-ish strips on Amazon.  My doctor would not write a prescription since she said my "prediabetes" (quoted) was minor.  Uhhh.....  One night recently, I decided to eat a measured cup of rice for dinner with nothing else, and... holy post-meal glucose!  That, to me, justified everything I have been doing.  I had lots of issues with rice and beans when I was pregnant, so it was no surprise... though still shocking... to see a number that high.  Another hour later, it did go back down, so it does seem like whatever is going on is abnormal but not so abnormal that a doctor would jump -- though they should!

Just as when I first faced this while pregnant, I was very "woe is me," but after these couple of months, I feel this is an opportunity for me to be healthier and address things like the endless cravings I am used to having.  Back to the whole rationalization thing, I've accepted things and am not overly embarrassed anymore, because whether any of this is my fault or not, the end result is the same -- eating less of the things I shouldn't, anyway.   While I can blame my old eating habits (since I have no family history), I know there are plenty of people who eat worse and have no issues.  But regardless, again, blame won't change anything, so I can only just accept full responsibility for myself from this point on.

Sorry for the wall of text and the TMI.  I think this post is a backdrop for reviews I do here and on YouTube going forward, and maybe there's another in-between person like me who might be able to relate to all of this.  Stay tuned for some follow-up posts about what I've been doing and my progress.  I will be formally tested again in the next couple of months, so let's see what happens.

Monday, March 20, 2017

More Thoughts on Another Marathon Gone

The other day, I went with "The Ukrainian" to the LA Marathon Expo and recorded a little mash-up for YouTube.


I had not been to that expo in a couple of years, and since neither of us are doing much running these days, expos in general haven't been something I've seen a lot of since 2014 or so.  I didn't go through all of my thoughts in the video.  Yesterday was the race, and since I spent the day with Tuesday (our son), I had more time to think about what I was missing.  I would have normally said "dwell" rather than "think," but it really was more of a "think" than "dwell."

I used to be SO bothered when I couldn't do a race, for any reason.  Standing on the sidelines felt like I was giving up, which seems so, so ridiculous to me now that I'm a month away from turning 32 and feeling like I'm 62.  I wish I didn't spend all those active racing years beating myself up for not finishing races at goal, as it was just amazing to get out there in the first place.  People used to tell me this all the time; I did not understand until now.

This is not to say that I couldn't just pick up and start actively racing again.  I'm pretty sure a couple of months of discipline could get me back in the saddle, at least for the most part.  It's like riding a bike, right?  I've been having more temperamental knees in the times I did try to run (I trained for a half last year) after pregnancy.  The "a couple of months" thing seems daunting, but if I just say, I'm going to try to run a few times each week, I still ask myself, "I will?!"

So then I tell myself that I will run a couple of times THIS week.  Well, it's Monday, and I woke up feeling like I needed another cycle of sleep, and I pretty much resigned and did a barre workout instead.

The bottom line is, I'm not there yet, and because I'm not there yet, I don't feel bad or sad that I wasn't out running one of my most sentimental races.  LA Marathon was my first marathon and the only marathon I did with siblings and appeared briefly on TV (reading that linked blog post again seeing that they used to start the race SO late in warm LA March made me raise an eyebrow).  I will always feel a connection to this race, even if I'm not running it, in the same way that I feel a connection to living in the LA area in general.

I don't know what the future holds for me when it comes to racing.  I'm not sure if those people who did a bunch around the time that I was still feel that "magic" or not.  I can see participation numbers are still high, so it is probably there, and I just need to get myself back out there to see it for myself.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Xtend Barre Class Review: Pasadena Studio's Opening Day

If you have been reading my blog for a while, I do a lot of home video workouts, especially now that I have to work around all of our schedules with Tuesday's new school.

Among my favorite home workouts are barre style, which basically incorporates small movements based on ballet that are done repetitively to really focus on them.  I've reviewed some different types of barre videos in the past, most of which are linked in this post (linked as to not spam this post mentioning other "brands").

One of my favorites is Xtend Barre - Lean and Chiseled -- I like it so much, in fact, that it's currently the video loaded in my laptop.  Well, truthfully, it has been a while since I've been doing barre videos regularly since I've been trying to hammer away at some other programs and lifting more weights.  But I did start doing it again recently knowing that the studio was opening soon, and according to my Apple Watch, I'm burning about 200-ish calories for about 40 minutes of work (I don't have time to do the whole video usually, so upper + lower body segments come up to around 40 minutes).  I feel like doing barre workouts at least somewhat regularly has helped me stay in shape even though I'm not putting in as much time into working out as I did before.



I was able to attend the Pasadena studio's first-ever public class and did a vlog about it.  I mentioned in a previous post that I started a YouTube channel where I was going to start posting video reviews of things just because I find myself looking toward YouTube for reviews myself.  The video is directly linked below.

The Pasadena Xtend Barre studio features barre, yoga, circuit, and TRX classes.  I tried one of their barre classes with instructor Monica.  There was a group of about 10? people taking this inaugural class, and it was definitely everything I expected: plies, butt-burning, arm workouts with tiny weights that feel heavy after a while, and core work.  I was concerned that my recent rib injuries would make things especially rough on me, but nothing that was done in that class aggravated it too much.  I'm still figuring out what my limitations are as I recover, but thankfully, this wasn't a limiting factor for me.  I did, however, tell the instructor prior to class, just in case.  You should always do this if you feel like you may need to modify in any way!

The class started off with plié and squat variations, and then the arm work with 1-lb weights.  There were 2- and 3-lb options, but everyone was taking the 1's, and I think they were the right choice.  Though all the arm exercises did add up, I will say that these recent months of heavier upper body work at the gym made this a little less painful than I remember barre arm work to be.

The toughest parts of the class involved this giant rubber band wrapped around either your arms or legs that really brought on the burn.  I've actually never used this before with any of my videos or in any other environment, so I learned something new for sure!  The latter parts of the class focused on the core with pulses and planks.



I definitely sweated and felt my arms and legs a little weak afterward, which is a good thing.  As I said in my video, I'm still trying to see how I can fit in time with this studio, which I won't know completely until they settle into a schedule.  While I don't see myself going everyday because I still want to tackle other fitness pursuits (and don't know what to do about my current gym membership), I do want to exercise in a group once in a while.  I don't "get out" very often or do group fitness anything, but it's a nice change and motivating!

The studio itself is obviously clean from being so new, and well-lit.  The owner and instructors that I've seen so far are very friendly.  There's a cool sign-in device in the front, which I can foresee being useful when you're rushing in to the class, lockers, and merchandise for sale.  The big (BIG) plus is a kids' room -- I would totally bring Tuesday there, except I'd need to wait a bit because he's still upset when I leave the room abruptly.  Surveillance cameras are up in the kid room and lobby.

This studio is a great addition to the area, and I hope to be able to take advantage of it however I see it fitting into my current lifestyle.  The bottom line is, stuff like barre, although very different from running and such, is a good exercise that yields results.


Here's the video review:


(Not quitting my day job yet, LOL!!)

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FTC Disclaimer: I came for a complimentary class and was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular opinion.

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Case of the "Did Not Start"

In my last post, I announced that I had been signed up for a half marathon and decided not to run it, making it my very first "did not start" (DNS) race.  A few years ago, it would have taken breaking both my legs or something of that magnitude to keep me away from the racing game, but this time, it was literally a cough and sneeze (again, see my previous post for details).

Ironically, I did start feeling a little bit better during the race weekend.  Bear in mind that I've had these injuries for close to a month now, so I had no idea when I'd finally start being able to roll around in bed without excruciating pain.  And yes, I did see a doctor, and "The Ukrainian" asked our chiropractor -- both basically said it's just time, ice, and pain meds.  I picked up my race bib at a very low-key showroom the day before, still wondering if I was doing the right thing.

Swag I did not earn (but paid for?) -- yes, I am still going to wear this shirt,
as a reminder of this time and how I need to take better care of myself
and also that in the end, it's just a race shirt.


Another big reason why I didn't even attempt to show up at all was because of the late start time.  Originally, when I signed up about a year ago, it was a 7:30 am start.  Now, it was 9:15 am.  A 7:30 start meant I could be home by 10:30 am (as I was planning on taking the train), but a 9:15 start meant sneaking away from the baby when already awake and missing lunch and naptime and getting stuck in the rain that was predicted (and happened) later in the day.  None of these things used to bother me as much.  Okay, I never like to start late -- bad for possible heat and stomach issues -- but yes, motherhood has shifted my priorities a little.

More on that.  If I were to be hard on myself, I'd say that motherhood has made me soft, and I'm not just talking about my gut.  Waking up early to workout/run/race was rarely a big deal for me, even laughable, but nowadays, I pretty much consider it a form of torture.  I wake up pretty early during the week for work reasons, so by the weekend, I'm pretty much down for the count, at least until about 7 am.  I credit all the sleep I lost during pregnancy and early motherhood.  Besides sleep, I try to minimize my time away from my son because I know I spend enough time away due to work.  I know I still get to see him plenty because of our arrangements, but that "mom guilt" doesn't quit.  Finally, I know that I come back from running all tired, and the thought of keeping up with a toddler when I'm sore and have a headache from running is enough to deter me.

What I ended up doing that morning instead.

Though I've just made a ton of excuses, I AM planning on trying again when it comes to half-marathon #30.  I think bad luck and lack of prioritization got the best of me this time, but my return to racing will be there for me when I'm ready.  I'm going to start browsing and making a plan for myself to hopefully do it this year.  I'd either have to recover quickly and then try to hit the pre-summer races or late Fall.  I want to be at least somewhat trained next time.  Any suggestions (in the Los Angeles area) are welcome.

Here's to better days and more runs!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Some News and Xero Shoes Review - Lena and Prio

In my last post, I said I was going to try to post soon afterward, so I'm counting this two-week gap as "soon."  Of course, I am aware it is March now, but at least only the 2nd.

After recapping my recent 5k, I mentioned that a half-marathon is in my near future -- in fact, this Sunday.  I also mentioned that a number of issues made my 5k harder than it should be, namely, a bad cold followed by a rib muscle sprain.

Unfortunately, it gets worse.  I pulled another rib muscle, on my other side.  While the original offending side is healing slowwwwly, this new one got way worse a couple of days ago when I sneezed.  Yep, I've done so many races and bounced back from Cesarean section, only to get blown out by a sneeze.

My entire upper ab/chest cavity is out of commission.  It's a tough pain to describe to someone who has not had this unfortunate injury of sorts, but basically, I can't even do a plank now without great pain.  Lower body stuff is mostly fine (more on that later), but while I can still do a little upper body weights (very very carefully), even breathing hurts sometimes, and so my physical activity has been pretty limited.

I can do some HIIT as long as it's not anything that makes me do a plank and run without swinging my arms too much.  In both of these, I'm limited to a moderate intensity so I don't stress the rib muscles (intercostal muscles, technically) by breathing too hard.  Lower body weights are fine, upper body weights -- touch-and-go, but in everything, I have decreased the weights by at least 20%.

This is a bummer, and even moreso because I'm fairly certain I am logging in my first "DNS" (did not start) this weekend.  There is just no way I want to push through a half-marathon that I didn't train for (well, I DID train for it on its original date, see here for more on that) with so much pain.  I tried going out this morning for a run, and it was riddled with pain if I pushed at all.  That pretty much sealed the deal for me.

I'd rather just heal up and return to my normal activities sooner than later.  I have some much internal strife about this -- the cheapskate in me wants to "use" my race fees.  Well, I'll at least pick up the "swag" and do an update post on it later.  My younger self is just frustrated at my wanna-be mature decision of sitting this one out.  And hopefully, when I DO run that 30th half-marathon, it will be when I'm in a better state.

Anyway, onto some BETTER news.  I started a YouTube channel!  Now, I mainly did this so I could do a quick video on the new Xero Shoes I received so I could help them out with marketing them, but it IS an idea I've toyed with for a while.  I mean, let's face it -- blogging is becoming a little less consumable than it used to be, and I don't know about you, but I love seeing things on video.

This doesn't mean I won't be blogging anymore, but I think that if I decide to keep posting there, I will be putting out more "stuff" in general, which I think is a good thing.  I would say something like "Let me know what you think," but I am perfectly aware that my maiden voyage video was filmed quickly on my iPhone in all my frumpy glory.  If this becomes a thing, I will need to start cleaning up a bit, I guess!

Below is my written review of the new Xero Shoes.  If you recall, this company makes shoes that are more amenable to you "feel[ing] the world" when you're wearing them, so you're not going to find a whole lot of clunky materials so that your feet can kind of just do their thing.

I reviewed the Hana shoes a few months back and still wear them VERY often as a go-to shoe that I slip on when I go out, chase my kid around, etc.  I also reviewed the Umara sandal, which is my summer go-to for the same reasons.

The Lena is the women's version of the Hana, so it's pretty similar, just a bit more feminine-looking.  I feel like it's more narrow, too, or maybe it's because I've worn down the Hanas too much.  Although its sole is minimal, I really enjoy walking in them, even over longer distances.  I'll be wearing them in this weekend when I'm... not doing a half-marathon.



I was also sent the Prio to review, which is more of a running-style shoe.  When I put this on, I could feel it was very different than the Lena... definitely more of a running shoe, though still minimally cushioned.  I did some strides in them and felt fine.  I've admittedly run around in my Hanas, so I could definitely go quite a while in these.  I will most likely use these when I'm running on the treadmill.
 



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FTC Disclaimer: I was sent samples of Xero Shoes to review but was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular opinion.  My opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Los Angeles Firecracker Run 5k - 2017

EVENT: Los Angeles Chinatown Firecracker 5K
DATE: Sunday, February 12, 2016
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
RACE BEGAN: 08:00 am
FINISH TIME: 0:27:14

This is the first post of 2017, and probably for good reason.  It has been raining an awful lot, more than we are used to here in sunny Southern California, so many of my workouts have been indoors and not very long nor exciting. 

Well, the "not very long" part has more to do with my schedule than anything else.  I try to wake up early to work out, but in order to get the boy to and from school in a timely manner and still fit in eight hours of work, I'm mostly doing 30 minutes most days and am okay with this.

I have also spent the last several weeks with another cold from the down-side of afterlife.  I had one of these in November, and here we are again.  This time, I had pink eye in both eyes, twice, as a bonus after Tuesday picked it up from school.  I swear I was being really careful, though anyone who knows me knows that I can't help but touch my eyes more than the average bear.

Anyway, just as I was starting to feel better in the days before this annual race, I had a really itchy throat all of a sudden and coughed until I gagged many times and later found that I had pulled one of those intercostal rib muscles in the process.  It was surprisingly painful, since every sneeze, cough, or deep breath was painful.

So along with the fact that I had been so sick that I actually skipped a week of working out at all (unheard of for me), my new cough injury was making the thought of running quite horrible.  Still, I needed to do this and needed to do it fast enough so that The Ukrainian could run the 10k, which started half an hour after the 5k.  We did this last year, and it was pretty successful so that both of us were able to run without getting a babysitter.

The run itself was uneventful, thankfully.  During the first mile, I realized I was going to be okay.  Sure, my ribs were feeling sore when I moved a certain way, but I could tough it out for a few miles.  The next mile was hillier, and my lungs, weakened from weeks of coughing, prompted me to walk a little bit, but once the turnaround point neared, I started up again and obviously took advantage of the downhill.

You can see my finish time above.  Not bad, considering how little I've been running these days and all the other stuff.


While The Ukrainian did the 10k, I took Tuesday through the refreshment area, where he ate my post-race food, but I guess that's what we get for waking him up an hour early.

I had signed him up for the Kiddie Run (1K), since I figured he'd be up for this kind of thing when I signed up during the summer.  While he was into it for some parts like the group stretching and the first few moments of the race, I think he was starting to tire of the racing scene since by then, we had been there for about two hours.  Maybe next time!

www.acaseoftheruns.com

Here's the loot:



If you have been following for a while, this was my sixth Firecracker run, so I'm halfway to my goal of collecting all 12 Firecracker Run medals.  This race is always so great -- casual, and great shirts!

2017 - Rooster
2016 - Monkey
2015 - Ram
2014 - Horse
2013 - Snake (we did the bike ride that year!)
2012 - Dragon

As for the immediate future, I actually have a half-marathon in about three weeks.  I'm hoping to post again before then, once I start feeling better and more optimistic since these past few months have been pretty rough: back pain, bad cold, another bad cold, and pulled rib.  But there is more I'd like to talk about -- some pretty awesome stuff -- regarding running and fitness.  So... stay tuned if you're still out there.