Monday, December 7, 2015

How I Lost my Pregnancy Weight in 16 Weeks

What's more annoying than trying to lose your unwanted pregnancy weight???  Answer: Some health crazed, first-time mom bragging about how she lost all her pregnancy weight in 16 weeks AND writing a blog about it.   Ta-Daaaaa! Here I am! lol  :D

**I should warn everyone in advance... I'm sharing what worked for me and writing about the choices that I decided to make for myself about health and fitness. No judgments against anyone else, No offense intended, and No bragging here... I only say this because some people's reactions can be really negative. My desire is that everyone be motivated to be healthy and feel good about themselves... for whatever that means for the individual! :D

My Initial Concerns About Losing the Weight...

I've experimented with a lot of diets and exercise programs though out my life, but when it came to losing the pregnancy weight after my first child was born, I wasn't sure what to expect. My mind was flooded with worries and questions: "Am I ever going to lose the weight?", "Is it going to be crazy hard and take years?", "Will my body respond the same to my regular diet and exercise?". Since I chose to exclusively breastfeed, I also had concerns about 'keeping up my milk supply', which I had heard could diminish significantly if women lost their weight too quickly or weren't eating enough.

With a little bit of research and using similar techniques I've used throughout my life, I was able to shed the unwanted pounds within four months while maintaining a good milk supply for baby!

Here's a picture of me the day I found out I was pregnant...

I weighed 153 lbs.
(Should I look happier?? lol)

Here is a photo of me four days before I went into labor...

I weighed 202 lbs (roughly a 50 pound weight gain)
Awe... look at me. So innocent and unaware of the 28 hours of vaginal trauma that was soon to take place.

Here is a photo of my first week postpartum... 

I weighed 190 lbs. 
(The only thing bigger than my belly is my new friend 'Mr. Hemorrhoid'!) 

And by four months postpartum... Here I am! :D

153 lbs 
(plus 16 lbs of baby in my arm!)

Sooo... How did I do it?

The answer isn't overly mysterious and it won't cause any Earth shattering 'Ka-Booms!' lol

I basically ate sensibly (while enjoying small amounts of junk food) and exercised regularly with a slow and gradual increase in intensity/duration.

My Diet

I didn't stick to any specific diet plan or cut any food items out completely. I'm a firm believer that you can eat all the things you love as long as it's in moderation. I also didn't severely restrict my caloric intake. When you're breastfeeding you need to eat 1800-2200 calories per day. If you don't eat enough (or if you get pregnant unknowingly!) your milk supply could severely drop.

For the most part I ate the same things averaging at about 4-5 meals/day. I found that if I stuck with the same, healthy meals everyday (with minimal variation), it kept things really simple and easy to follow. As a result, I could afford to have a treat in the evening! By eating healthy throughout the day I was 'saving up' my extra calories for tasty treats that I really enjoyed eating after dinner... but, in moderation of course.

A typical day would be...
1st meal: COFFEE! (with soy milk), 1 slice whole wheat toast with peanut butter and half a banana sliced on top (1/2 banana = 1 serving of fruit)

2nd meal: Two eggs, 1 babybel cheese (light), 1 slice whole wheat toast with margarine, 1 yogurt cup

3rd meal: 1 serving of soup (usually a vegetable/chicken broth based soup or, my favorite, Butternut squash!), 4 soda crackers, 1 apple

4th meal: Big Salad! A tonne of romaine lettuce, 1/2 a tomato, 1/2 an avocado, 2 Tbs chopped Walnuts, 1 serving cheddar cheese (cut into little cubes), 1/2 chicken breast cooked with 1 Tbs BBQ sauce. (Salad Dressing: 1 Tbs Olive Oil, 1 tsp Lemon juice, 1 tsp honey mustard/dijon mustard)

5th meal: TREAT
[moderation is key here... my treat could be any food I wanted as long as it was kept down to roughly 100-400 calories. For example: 1 ice cream bar (or 2 sometimes! lol), or 2-3 slices of thin crust frozen pizza, or 1-2 servings of potato chips]. Also, not every night was a 'big' treat. Sometimes I would just have a piece of toast and a babybel before bed or another yogurt cup.

**The key to having the treat in the evening is sort of similar to the old children's suppertime rule 'You have to eat your supper first before you can have dessert'. After I eat my big salad for dinner I'm less likely to over-indulge in the junk food later... so, no matter what the treat is: pizza, chips, nachos.. I always eat dinner first! It's super important not to eat junk food when you're starving! :)

My Exercise Routine

For the first 6 weeks after delivering my baby I was pretty much 'Out of Commission'! Due to the vaginal trauma (to say the least! lol) and the subsequent various discomforts that are a result of childbirth (aka, 'hemorrhoids', Ouch!), and sleepless nights, any kind of physical activity was very slow and minimal. 

On about day 3 or 4 postpartum I started off by taking a teeny tiny walk (more like a hobble), only about 30 meters down my road, and literally went at a snails pace. It was pretty pathetic. I was so surprised that just 'walking' would end up really hurting my "postpartum Lady Bits". It seriously felt like with every step I took my vagina was going to fall out. After the first week or two I could walk to the end of my road and back, then I progressed to walking around the block. Once walking became less painful/uncomfortable I started taking longer walks at a more normal pace. By week 7, I was ready to start my "Walk/Jog" routine.

What is a "Walk/Jog routine" you ask??? Well, let me tell you...

A 'walk/jog' is where you alternate between walking and jogging for a length of time or for a specific distance. 

My 'walk/jog' Routine...

-I plotted out (roughly) a 2 km loop around my neighborhood for my 'walk/jog's'.

-Every other day, I would 'walk/jog' my 2 km loop by starting off with walking for one minute, then jogging for one minute... and repeated that for the duration of my 2 km loop. I continued with the 'one minute walk/one minute jog' routine for roughly a week or two until I felt comfortable doing it.

-As I got stronger, I progressed to walking for one minute and then jogging for two minutes... then it was 'walk for one minute/jog for 3 mins'... and so on.  Once I felt comfortable for a few 'walk/jogs' at that time increment I would increase the 'jog time' by only one minute. 

-Now, by week 18, I'm jogging my 3 km loop with only one walk break in the middle. My ultimate goal is to be able to jog the entire loop 'comfortably'.

When I first started out, my 'jogging' was super, dooper, slow! Seriously, old people walking their Terriers would pass me. I would do my routine at night time so no one could see how out of shape I was. My motto was, "It's better to be moving slowly than to not be moving at all". I tried not to expect too much of myself as far as strength and cardio. I knew that the results would come later as long as I didn't give up.

(*Note: I never work on jogging "faster". I only try to jog for "longer". Speed will come naturally once you get stronger and gain better cardio. It's more important to increase the duration of exercise. You have to be careful not to injure yourself by doing too much, too soon. After delivering a baby, your body still has the hormone 'relaxin' flowing through your body which is responsible for 'relaxing' your ligaments which ultimately can lead to unstable joints and subsequent injuries.)

As far as 'weight lifting' or resistance training, I didn't do any! lol
The only thing I did was pick up my baby, rock her to sleep, carry her around, dance with her, burp her and push her in the stroller during walks. It's great resistance training on it's own!

The Key Factors in Losing My Pregnancy Weight

1. I was a healthy weight and somewhat physically fit before getting pregnant. (See my blog articles for more details: My Secret to Healthy Weight Loss and Management & Why You're Not Losing Weight)
2. I worked out regularly, walked everyday and ate sensibly during my entire pregnancy.
3. During the postpartum period (after week 6) I was committed to doing my exercise routine every other day, no excuses. (Even in the first few weeks, I was slowly walking and mobilizing.)
4. I breastfed my baby. It burns calories like crazy! (300-500 calories a day) :D
5. I drank water all the time. It wasn't hard because breastfeeding made me crazy thirsty. No sooner would my baby latch on and I would 'all of a sudden' be dying for a huge glass of water. Oh Oxytocin, you crazy hormone!
6. I ate my 'healthy food' during the day first before rewarding myself with my 'treat'... And, I didn't let myself eat junk food when I was starving. Moderation is key!

My Motivation to Lose My Pregnancy Weight

1. I have made the decision in my life that I want to be "Healthy" physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually; and I have my own definition of what that means for me.
2. I want my child to have a healthy mother who is able to play with her, keep up with her, and live a long, full life so I can be there for her.
3. Our children mimic our behaviors and learn from our example as parents. I want my daughter to live a healthy life and value the act of 'taking care of herself' in every way: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually... just like 'Mommy' and 'Daddy'!

Please feel free to leave any comments, suggestions or stories of what worked for you!


*Disclaimer- Always consult with your physician before starting any new diet or exercise program*

**UPDATE!  JUNE 2, 2016**

I am now 10 months postpartum and I reached my original fitness goal as of January, 2016 and I feel great!

My current weight is 142 lbs (I'm down to my high school weight... Yay!). I am currently 11 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight. It has never been my intention to try to weigh a specific number, but instead, my desire is to attain (and maintain) a self determined fitness level AND eat healthy (most of the time! *wink).

During the past few months I have made my maintained my original fitness goal of jogging my 3 km loop, every other day, as well as eating sensibly. My daughter is now 10 months old, still nursing 4-5 times a day (as well as eating meals), weighs 23 lbs now and is happy, healthy and strong!

No matter where you're starting from, as far as your current weight or fitness level, you can take the same, tiny, baby steps that I did and make a big change. It takes time, persistence and just taking it one day at a time. One choice at a time. All you have to do, is try to make the next choice, the right one!


**UPDATE September 17, 2017**

(*Disclaimer* I apologize for the weird bathroom selfie where I'm awkwardly trying to keep my boobs up and off of my stomach LOL... these types of photo's aren't really my forte... probably a good thing!)

Sooooo... I am currently just over 2 years postpartum (which means my vagina is Aaalmost back to it's normal size) and I am pleased to announce that I have been successful in maintaining my weight loss! Yay me! :)

I am currently 145 lbs which is 8 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight. :) 

Unfortunately, I gained a couple of pounds over the past year due to a hip related issue which interfered with my cardio workouts (Piriformis Syndrome... nasty!). It's starting to heal up now, but I had to give up my jogging routine for the better part of this year for it to fully clear up. 

For exercise, I walk my dogs daily, play and run around with my toddler, push the baby stroller on walks and take it up hills through grass for more resistance and to get some cardio out of, an otherwise ordinary, leisurely walk. I do chin ups occasionally at the local school yard while my daughter and I are at the park. I pick up my two year old throughout the day (she's 30 lbs), I hold her, dance with her, hold her up over my head and swing her down for fun, so... that's a pretty darn good arm work out lol. Otherwise, I do not lift any weights currently.

As for my diet, I basically eat the same things everyday. I find that the routine of having the same meals daily helps keep me on track. 

Here is a typical day for me:

Breakfast: Coffee with soy milk, one slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and 1/2 banana
Snack: 2 scrambled eggs with a slice of cheese 
Lunch: 4 steamed Costco Pot-sticker dumplings, 1 cup steamed broccoli, and 1/2 breast of chicken with soy sauce
Dinner: Greek Salad with broccoli and carrot slaw, 1/2 an avocado, 2 Tbs walnuts, 1/2 breast of chicken, and a glass of red wine (or two shhhh!)
Snack: Tortilla chips or potato chips (just a handful or two!)
(I sometimes also have a high fiber bar during the day for a snack if I'm out and about... and I try to drink water all throughout the day!)

I don't have regular 'cheat days' scheduled, but I do indulge in treat 'meals' every so often (maybe every week or two). I credit my weight loss maintenance to my diet mostly, as well as being active daily.

Thanks for continuing to follow my progress! I look forward to hearing any comments or questions from my readers. :)


Sunday, September 6, 2015

“But I Don’t Want to Grow Up”: Top 5 Summer Camps for Adults Only

The latest craze in “Adult Vacationing” invites you to re-experience all of the nostalgic, playful memories of our childhood summers with the added bonus of being allowed to consume alcohol! Adult summer camps are popping up all over North America and include a variety of different activities and themes such as: water sports, arts & crafts, learning workshops, music, campfire s’mores, open bar parties and even one that teaches the basics of surviving a Zombie Apocalypse! 

#5. If you’re interested in developing your survival skills and learning to "live by your wits", then look no further! SOS Wilderness Survival is an adult summer camp located in Bruno, S.K. that specializes in teaching participants how to build a shelter, hunt and forage for food and clean water, while also learning the psychology behind surviving in the elements.

#4. Unleash your inner scientist by discovering, up close and personal, Canada’s sub-arctic wildlife. Located on the Hudson Bay, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre offers participants various marine-based activities such as beluga whale encounters, trips on large jet boats, zodiacs, and kayaking.

#3. Did you ever wish that you could, “boldly go where no man has gone before”?  Then book your next vacation in Huntsville, Alabama, where you can experience the fun and exhilaration of Space Camp as you train for space missions and get to take part in real astronaut simulators. “Engage!”

#2. Are you an aspiring chef at heart? Check out Holland College’s culinary themed adult camp located in beautiful Charlottetown, P.E.I.  Experiences include cooking workshops, checking out the local markets, working alongside accomplished chefs to prepare exquisite meals, and getting to feast on your culinary creations at the end of each day… Bon Appetite!

#1. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead and think you could survive a real life Zombie Apocalypse, then head out to Bancroft, Ontario and bring several pairs of clean underwear! This adult themed Zombie Survival Camp offers participants three days of rigorous training in weapon development, hand to hand combat skills, leadership and archery to ultimately prepare you for your final test… a simulated Zombie attack on the camp!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Waiting For Baby: The Art of Winding Up a Real Life 'Jack in the Box'

As I walk into the local Hospital for my fifth obstetrics appointment I pretty much have the routine down pat by now. First, I register at the reception desk, go pee in a cup, then a nurse takes me to be weighed, takes my blood pressure and then I sit and wait in the examination room for the Doctor to come it. This visit I notice a very large, metal speculum on the bedside table and I'm wondering just how 'intimate and interactive' we're going to get today. When the Doctor comes in I get the standard, "Hello... how is everything going?" and then she proceeds to measure my belly, listen to the baby's heart beat and poke and prod around my belly to feel for the baby's positioning. Same old, same old.

This visit is a bit different from the others I've had in the past couple of months. At the end of the examination, instead of the routine, "See you next week", or, "Call anytime if you have any questions", I get the abridged, 3 minute, quick and dirty version of, "When You Go Into Labor This is What To Do" speech. It suddenly hits me; "Wow... things are getting really real!" The doctor talks to me about what to do when my water breaks, how to rule out false labor and how long to wait at home before coming into the hospital when I start having regular contractions. I'm thinking to myself, "OK, she's basically telling me I could go at anytime."  This is quite frightening.

Today I am 37 weeks (plus 3 days) pregnant. At 198 lbs I am, quite literally, bursting at the seams. When I walk through the house the floor creaks in places it never creaked before. I have to pee 5 minutes after I pee. Everything is uncomfortable, even sitting down... especially sitting down actually! I have a nice, daily rotation of walking, sitting, standing and laying down for small increments of time each. Just the act of 'getting out of bed' should be made an official Olympic Sport for pregnant woman. I've become a master at 'puttering' around the house; my newest skill! If I go out to run errands I have about a 60 minute window of time to do what I need to do before I'm either exhausted, in pain, starving, or all three. At present, the most entertaining and exciting thing for me to do, is to be taken for a drive (like a dog for goodness sake) to Tim Horton's and get an Iced Lemonade. The other day, for sheer entertainment, I sat inside the house, looked out the window and watched my husband mow the entire lawn. It's pretty sad. Due to the fact that I can't go out and do very much, I feel like I'm kind of a drag to be around. I actually broke down and cried the other day because I felt like I "wasn't any fun to be around." My husband quickly comforted and reassured me saying, "Of course you're fun to be around...(long pause)" then proceeded to not be able to think of anything to use as an example.

Now that I'm in the final stages of waiting for the baby to come, I definitely feel this sense of a real life 'Jack in the Box' being constantly wound up; I always hated that toy. I don't really care for surprises much and this one is going to be the surprise of a lifetime... 'Go Go Gadget Vagina!" I wonder to myself, "Where will I be when labor starts?" Will I be out in the grocery store, and all of a sudden my water breaks while I'm reaching for the container of Caramel Pecan Crunch frozen yogurt? I can already hear the overhead announcement, "Clean Up... Aisle 9... Bio hazard Spill!"  Or, will it happen when I'm driving in my car? Would I then have to sell my car with a disclaimer on the advertisement, "For Sale: 2008 Cobalt, 4 door, Silver, the driver's seat kind of has some amniotic fluid on it."

I've had several women tell me that when their labor started they initially thought they had to go to the bathroom to have a large poo. Now, whenever I go to the bathroom I'm thinking to myself, "Is this a poo or the baby?"  It's getting ridiculous. I try to relax but I'm naturally a bit of a 'Nervous Nelly' to begin with. I've been told that sometimes the onset of labor is mostly starts with lower back pain, and overall tummy tightness... but I get that all the time these days. I've read that most first time mothers (like myself) end up going late, but all of my closest girlfriends have all gone early with babies. There's really no way to prepare or to foresee it coming.

I guess for now, it's just me and this 'Jack in the Box' game that is in constant play, endlessly winding up, getting closer and closer to the big, scary "Bonjour!"


I'm curious to hear your thoughts! :)
What were your first beginning signs of labor? Did you have anything start happening that was different in the days leading up to your delivery?

Monday, June 1, 2015

What to Expect in The Second Trimester: Everything Your Girlfriends Never Told You

Welcome to your second trimester! (Or better yet, congratulations on making it out of your first trimester alive!)  This phase of your pregnancy is commonly viewed as the best part of being pregnant. Women usually feel more energized, the nausea has typically subsided by now, and you actually start to look like you legitimately have a baby in your tummy!

That being said, there are some aspects of the second trimester that you may not be aware of. Since I'm currently writing this article while in my 3rd trimester, my memory is still vivid (and not clouded by the warm and fuzzy feelings of having a new born baby, which seems to magically erase negative memories) so I'll share with you my own personal experiences and fill you in on what to expect!

First Fetal Movements

This is by far one of the most exciting moments of pregnancy! The first few months of pregnancy I was in a bit of disbelief. I would think to myself, "Okay... so, I'm 'supposedly' pregnant" but, I felt like I was lacking real evidence or validation. With only the positive pregnancy test and the ultrasound photos to go by, for me, there was still this feeling of disconnect, and it not being really REAL yet. But once you feel your child move inside you... everything changes! I won't lie... it was really weird in the beginning (like a scene from the movie 'Alien' lol). I felt the baby move for the first time at 16 weeks and to describe the feeling I would say that it was just the tiniest little 'flick' or 'poke' sensation down near my pubic bone. I remember thinking it felt like a little chicken bone poking me from the inside out. Gradually these movements become more noticeable and stronger as the baby grows. My husband couldn't feel the baby until later in the 2nd trimester. These sensations become your daily affirmation that baby is healthy and doing well!

*I was a bit anxious early on so I invested in a fetal doppler ($55 Angel Sounds Fetal Doppler) so I could hear the babies heart beat and reassure myself that 'baby' was OK. It was at about week 13 when I could first hear the heart beat (some women don't hear it till later on, so if you can't hear it right away ladies don't panic!). These little heart beats were so wonderful to hear and so reassuring as a nervous, newly pregnant woman. The heart beat is so fast it sounds like a tiny bird having a heart attack lol. I highly recommend investing in a doppler!

Looking Legit: Hello Baby Bump!

Congratulations on finally getting your baby bump! It took me a while to actually start "looking" pregnant (around week 17-20) but once it happened I was more than happy to accentuate my newest accessory! When you're first pregnant it feels like FOREVER before you actually start to 'look the part'. For a long time being pregnant was like this secret that no one knew about, and even for myself I would constantly feel in disbelief. There was nothing visual to reassure me that I was in fact pregnant... except that I felt like utter Crap-ola! (To make me feel better, my best friend said to me that feeling like crap was actually a good thing because it meant you had a healthy baby inside you messing around with your hormones. And it did make me feel better!)  But once the belly started protruding it gave me this wonderful sense of validation and pride. I love my bump :)  And as a pregnant woman I find that people in general tend to be a lot more friendly and helpful. It's pretty awesome!
*Enjoy that baby bump and have fun accentuating it with your new maternity fashion looks!

More Energy and Less Nausea

There are several reasons why women in general feel more energized and active in their second trimester. Usually by this time the nausea has subsided or gone away completely and with the first trimester anxiety and worries out of the way, chances are you'll be sleeping better at night too.
It took a long time for the nausea to subside for me but I felt a lot better by about week 15-17. I still felt tired and would have afternoon naps when I could, but overall I felt sooo much better. A few women in my prenatal class still had nausea well into their 2nd and 3rd trimesters but there are prescription medications that can help ease the suffering if you're one of these unlucky ladies.
*The 2nd Trimester is a great time to utilize your energy to prepare and get things done (& the best time to travel!) since your baby bump isn't big enough yet to be causing discomfort or decreased mobility.

Say Goodbye to your Genitals!

Naturally once your belly bump starts getting bigger the areas 'below' get harder to SEE (and reach eventually). I haven't seen my genitals since Christmas. I had to learn how to 'blind shave' my bikini line which was really scary at first. It was like a my own personal version of "Edward Scissor Hands" staring Helen Keller. Now that I'm in my 3rd trimester I just don't care anymore what it looks like 'down there'. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Mysterious Lady Bits". My lady bits are so mysterious these days that if they had their own  T.V. show it would be called 'Ancient Civilizations'. The show would feature an archaeological team of expert researchers who are embarking on a treacherous mission to explore a vast and frightening ancient ruin (aka. my vagina). Not everyone would make it out alive.

Intimacy (aka. Awkward Pregnant Sex)

While we're on the topic of 'Genitals', let's discuss the intricacies of "Pregnant Sex" as well as learning how to maneuver around your big belly.
I don't think you've really experienced the full and vast definition of the word "Intimacy" until you've attempted to have 'pregnant sex'. I don't even know that "Intimacy" is really even the correct word for it. At this point in the game, there are no more secrets between you and your husband. Everything is really 'OUT' there... all of it... Boom!... Out there. There is no where to hide... not even behind your big belly. 'Strategy' and 'Determination' basically take the place of 'Romance' and 'Sex Appeal'. It's like playing some awkward, naked version of the game Twister, where everyone is smiling and pretending to have fun, but in reality, no one is having any fun. There is no fun to be had. Within minutes hand and foot placements are slipping, muscle cramps are developing, and there's a slight trembling noted from increasing muscle fatigue... and that's just talking about the foreplay!
You basically end up trying every sexual position you never wanted to.
Unfortunately for me, our sliding, closet doors beside our bed are all mirrors. Even during my "slim days" where I felt really good about my body, I wasn't necessarily a fan of "seeing it" in certain compromising "predicaments".
One time during "pregnant sex" I accidentally glanced into 'The Mirror of Shame' at the wrong moment and now I'm afraid I'll be scarred for life. In the moment, I yelled out to my husband, "Oh Lord! It looks like your mounting a house!" And my husband's immediate response came out like a warning cry, "Look the other way!".
*For 'pregnant sex' I recommend pillows. Lot's of pillows. Comfort is essential! AND darkness... lot's of darkness. If you're newly pregnant, go out and buy black out drapes immediately. 
All joking aside, being pregnant does change things in the bedroom, but if you and your partner spend a little time talking and strategizing, it's well worth the effort!

Nose Bleeds

Once again, I have never just randomly found myself with a nose bleed but apparently it's quite common in pregnancy. After carrying a load of laundry upstairs one time, I felt a nostril trickle coming on, and after I wiped my nose, the tissue was full of blood. At first I was a bit startled and concerned but I quickly Googled searched "pregnant nose bleed" and was relieved to see that this was very normal. Our cardiovascular systems are going through a major overhaul in order to make and pump blood to the baby. We have a greater blood volume, higher blood pressure and (according to my family physician) our blood is thinner to prevent clots during pregnancy. Mix all that in with dry weather and Boom!... You've got a nose bleed!
*This only happened to me 3 or 4 times during the second trimester, and they stopped really quickly.

Hello Nipples!

So... in the first trimester our boobs get bigger and really sore but, in the second trimester the nipples play catch up and start to take center stage (quite literally). Both my nipples and areolas got super huge and turned dark, dark brown. I used to have lovely, cute, little, pink, pencil eraser nipples. Now, I have these huge, marinated, Cremini Mushrooms for nipples. I honestly don't even know how they are going to fit inside my baby's mouth. My nipples seriously need to SETTLE DOWN. It's crazy. Apparently, the darkening of the nipples is to help the baby "see" and ultimately "find" the food source. I think by this point an infant over in Taiwan could "find" my food source.
*On a more positive note: by this point my breasts were no longer sore... and now in my 3rd trimester they're not sore at all :)

Round Ligament Pain

Early into my second trimester I noticed these sharp, stabbing pains intermittently in my lower abdomen, around my pubic area. At first I wondered if this was the baby poking or kicking me but it turned out to be Round Ligament Pain (very common!). Our uterus has two ligaments, one on either side, that anchor and hold the uterus in place. These ligaments are usually quite short in length but as the baby grows, and the uterus expands to accommodate the baby, these ligaments end up getting really stretched out. At times, the stretching of these ligaments can cause pain or discomfort. My experience with Round Ligament Pain was very brief and it only happened a few times in my 2nd trimester.
*Using a hot pack on my abdomen helped to soothe the area but if you're having persistent abdominal discomfort or feel like something's wrong, go and see your doctor immediately.


I had never had a day of heartburn in my life until my second trimester. It comes on fast and feels like a fiery inferno is crawling up your throat from your stomach. At first, I didn't know what I was experiencing (like I said, I had never had it before), so I naturally just drank a bunch of cold water. WRONG THING TO DO! Seriously, I don't understand how water could make it worse, but it does. I picked up a jumbo bottle of Tums (anticipating this was just the start of 'Heartburn Central' and trust me ladies, just go for the jumbo bottle... you'll thank me later!) and after taking two tablets the heartburn went away immediately! Hallelujah!
*Tums are also a great source of Calcium which is really important for your growing baby :)

So there you have it! I hope my experiences have been both educational as well as entertaining. Good luck on your exciting journey of 'Making a Baby' and I'll catch up with you soon on my follow up article illustrating the wonderful and magical world of the "Third Trimester"!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy Nurses Week!

Twelve years ago I first started out on this vast journey into the world of 'Nursing'. It has been a crazy, roller coaster ride filled with elation, heart break, sleepless nights, new friendships and poo. It's been mostly filled with poo... or any other random body fluid you can think of.

Happy Nurses Week to all the Health Care Professionals out there who take care of our loved ones as if they were their own family members; who go without sleep, food and bathroom breaks to make sure everyone is safe and looked after.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Royal Baby Finally Has a Name: Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the arrival of their new baby girl! After much speculation and bidding on what the name would be, it was finally announced today; Charlotte Elizabeth Diana!

Charlotte is William and Kate's second child, sister to Prince George who is now a toddler. Her middle names are after her Great Grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and her late Grandmother Princess Diana.

Charlotte was born in London on May 2nd, 2015, weighed 8 pounds and 3 ounces and is fourth in line to the thrown. The name Charlotte is the feminine version of 'Charles' which is also the name of Prince Charles, her Grandfather.

Congratulations to the Royal Family! :D

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Almond, Coconut & Chocolate Chip Cookies (Paleo)

This is an easy, delicious and healthy cookie recipe that I absolutely love. I'm not a strict "Paleo" diet follower, but I do try to eat clean and minimize the amount of wheat and sugar in my diet. These cookies have a great chewy texture inside and a nice, slightly crisp edge when finished. They taste like Almond Joy chocolate bars but are a much healthier option.

Here's the recipe (originally from Healthy Food for Living):

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp melted coconut oil (make sure to melt before measuring)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda. Whisk, making sure to break up an clumps of flour.

In a small bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, honey, almond extract, and water.
*(I didn't have almond extract so I used vanilla extract instead)

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a rubber spatula or spoon until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips and shredded coconut.

Scoop out 1/4 cup portions and place on prepared cookie sheet. Using the back of a spoon or your fingers, gently press down on the scoops of cookie dough so they form discs.
*(I found the 1/4 cup portions slightly too large, perhaps try 2-3 Tbs portions instead)

Bake for 12 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly golden brown around the edges. Cookies will be very soft.

Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a baking rack to cool completely.


Monday, April 20, 2015

17 Things You Never Knew About 'Only Children'

17 Things You Never Knew About 'Only Children'

Having grown up as an only child, I've been faced with many misconceptions and often negative stereotyping throughout my life. Contrary to popular belief only children are not all isolated, egocentric, Sociopathic, mini-Hitler's running around talking to our imaginary friends. You may think you have only children all figured out, but I'm here to clear the air about these 'white tigers' of society.

*Disclaimer: Not only did I grow up as an only child, I was also raised in a very low income household by a single, often overly anxious, mother in the 1980's. Soooo, while I'm presenting these evidence-based (AND not so evidence-based) Only Children Generalizations, keep in mind that my biased opinions are of the Paranoid, Ghetto-Ninja Variety.

Let's get started then!

#1. We're not as selfish as you think.
This is probably the most common misconception about only children. It's true that we weren't raised sharing our toys, books, food and personal space but, that doesn't automatically make us selfish people. I've met grown adults who were raised with siblings who are crazy selfish. This is most likely because as children they never had anything of their own; it was all up for grabs. Even though I was an only child, I had to practice sharing with younger cousins and other kids at school. And it was tough! If anything, only children had to put more effort into it than other kids with siblings who were just naturally used to having no sense of entitlement over anything (poor buggers).

#2. There are some super cool, famous Only Children representing.
Frank Sinatra, Franklin Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Lance Armstrong, Natalie Portman, Robin Williams, Isaac Newton, Daniel Radcliffe, Charlize Theron, Anthony Hopkins, Elvis, John Lennon, Leonardo DaVinci, and Betty White were all raised as Only childen, and they turned out alright!

And let's not forget the King of Only Children (and Jews), the man himself... Jesus!

#3. We've been labeled as a disease.
A famous psychologist named Granville Stanley Hall published a study in 1896 called, "Of Peculiar and Exceptional Children" where he stated that, "Being an only child is a disease in itself". Ouch!

#4. We've got a touch of the 'OCD'.
Let's just say, we're not used to having our things 'touched' or 'moved about'. Given that we weren't raised with other grubby handed little children mucking about with our things, we are quite accustomed to having things a specific way and in a specific order. Only children have built in sense of security by having a routine. I have a particular way I make my coffee in the morning and a particular place on the couch where I always sit. I do not sit in any other place in the living room. Ever. And if I have a guest over visiting, and they proceed to sit in my favorite seat, I'm most likely silently battling a scaled down version of a panic attack.

#5. We are more likely to get divorced.
I would totally argue against this blatant and cruel generalization against only children if it wasn't for the sole fact that it comes from an actual, legitimate research study... AND because I'm kind of divorced. Whoops.

According to researchers at Ohio State University, Onlies are more likely to get divorced than people who grew up with siblings. With each added sibling in the family the risk of divorce is decreased by roughly 2 percent. Another popular way to minimize the likelihood of divorcing later in life: Don't marry a dink hole. (for further information on this topic please refer to my article 'Don't Marry Him')

#6. We like our 'private time'.
It probably goes without saying that we enjoy doing things by ourselves. It's just what we're used to! When I go to the bathroom when I'm out somewhere at a club or something, I don't need all my girlfriends to come with me. I'm probably going to the bathroom to get some 'alone time' for a few minutes in an attempt to regain my sanity from an 'Over Exposure to Other Human Beings'.
Don't get me wrong... Onlies like doing stuff with their friends and family but, in all honesty, we'd probably rather do it without you. No offence.

That being said, we're not huge fans of team sports either. Here's the 'Team Sports Equation' that goes through our minds:
'Multiple Human Beings' + 'Competitive Sports' 'High Risk of Injury' 'Parental Supervision= 'I Think I Just Pooped My Pants'.

#7. We are more happy than people with siblings.
"Researchers with the Institute for Social and Economic Research questioned 2,500 young people and found that only children are happier than those with brothers and sisters, mainly because they don’t have to compete with a sibling. They also found that 'happiness declines the more siblings there are in a household.' " (The Telegraph, 2015)

#8. We grow up faster.
The only child's main source of socialization is with their parents. We spend a great deal of time learning and studying adult interactions and behavior which we then go on to mimic at an earlier age.

That being said, it's not hard to see that Onlies sometimes find it difficult to identify with their own peer group. I remember being a small child watching other children my age play and thinking to myself that they looked like they were crazy. I couldn't relate. As a child, I was more likely to want to sit and have a proper conversation with my teacher than play with other kids.

"Children with siblings relate and talk to their siblings rather than their parents. The only child’s primary role models are parents. The result is that only children copy adult behavior as well as adult speech patterns and develop good reasoning skills early on making them better equipped to handle the ups and downs of growing up. A good thing, for sure."
-Dr. Susan Newman, Social Psychologist (Only Children Stereotypes)

#9. We dealt with a lot of pressure to make something of ourselves.
For our parents, we're basically IT! It's up to us to make them proud and due to that added pressure we tend to be high achievers who often battle with perfectionism. That being said, it's not surprising that we also tend to do better in school!

"The more brothers and sisters that children have, the lower their grades are in school, a new nationwide study shows. The results, which include data from 24,599 eighth graders, suggest that academic achievement drops as families grow because parents have less time and economic resources for each child." (Ohio State University)

#10. We felt like 'one of the adults' ever since we were kids.
Having grown up with mainly adults around, Onlies tend to feel like their parents are their equals. When I was 3 years old, I learned that my mom's real name wasn't "mom". It therefore made no logical sense to me to call her 'mom' when that wasn't her "real name". She called me by my "real name" so I should be calling her by her "real name". This wasn't a decision I made in order to be rebellious or mean spirited. In all sincerity it just didn't make sense to me and I refused to do it. My mother naturally tried to get me to call her mom and eventually gave up thinking that I would someday just 'grow out of it' but, I never did. Sorry Carol.

#11. We find your super close, sibling relationships a bit creepy.
I've met brothers and sisters who are very close and super touchy feely, and it seriously weird's me out to no end. It's like watching Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in 'Star Wars' and thinking to yourself, "God, will you two just do it and get it over with!" Even really close siblings of the same sex are quite off putting. I guess we, as onlies, just can't relate.

That being said, keep in mind that for an only child, nothing trumps the ultimate, anxiety-provoking, terrifying phenomena known as... TWINS! That s*@t just ain't right.

#12. We don't have to get 'our way' all time.
"Children with siblings often have more “who’s the boss” difficulties because they are constantly forced to share toys, television times, and parents. Kindergarten teacher Deejay Schwartz observes: 'It’s the ones who have been jostled and have had to compete who are always trying to push someone down, to be first in line or yell louder in order to be heard. Onlies have always been heard at home, and therefore function in a very calm way.' "
-Dr. Susan Newman, Social Psychologist (Only Children Stereotypes)

#13. We get lonely.
Despite everything I have just said, we do get lonely from time to time. When I was little I felt alone at times because there was no one to play with. Now as an adult, I see other people with siblings as having a wider support system and deeper family relationships (or at least the potential for them).

#14. We have no 'back up' for our childhood memories.
As far as childhood memories go, we have no other person's recollections as a sort of memory 'back up file'. There's no other person that's been at our side all our life to remember how awesome it was when we played in the woods all day long and built forts, or to remember how angry mom was when she found out I convinced my 6 year old friend to steal cigarettes from his parents.

#15. We didn't necessarily have imaginary friends growing up.
As a very young child I remember hearing about this and thinking that the idea of kids having imaginary friends seemed completely schizophrenic. Having been raised in a very adult world, where thinking "realistically" and "logically" (note sarcastic air quotes) was essential to survival, I had no time for an imaginary anything!

#16. We can let things get Quiet.
It probably makes sense that given our amount of alone time growing up (and a lack of noisy siblings), Onlies don't mind the quiet. In fact, we tend to seek it out and embrace it.

I often see people living these hectic lives that are constantly brimming with: large/group dinners, constant parties, shopping with friends, non-stop vacations, constant texting/talking on the phone, needing their friend's validation for every decision they make, working all the time, unable to go to coffee break or lunch alone at work, always needing the T.V. or radio on at home for background noise, etc. Ugh!!

It seems that these people have been so over stimulated all their life that now, as adults, they continue to seek out this constant state of hysteria and drama. I would literally go insane living like that.

#17. We saved our parents a fortune!
Obviously kids cost money. Given that there was only one of us to look after, Onlies were definitely easier on the old bank account. According to a recent article from Moneysense, the cost of raising a child, in Canada, till the age of 18 (just before his or her 19th birthday) is roughly $243, 660! And that figure doesn't include post-secondary education. (The Real Cost of Raising Kids, 2011)

So there you have it! If this article has got you thinking about a close friend of yours who's an only child, and you'd like to pop by their house to say 'Hi' and catch up... a word to the wise; just text them instead. Then proceed to reread this entire article because you obviously didn't get the message the first time around.