Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Future Plans

I have been so busy lately. Focusing on my Plexus business, whipping up the world's most natural makeup (yay!) and figuring out patent issues, cost, packaging, etc., keeping up my daily life of hanging out with, teaching, and caring for my little mini man and then my main Man (not the teaching part...;-), being a wife and homemaker, working out, being pregnant (that takes up some energy...), our social activities and more. 
I want to revamp this blog, give it a makeover, and dedicate some more time to it. So if you stumble across it one day and notice some weird changes, it's because I'm in the works of improving it's appearance. I'll be posting more photos and also adding in more health and fitness type content which I hope everyone enjoys.
Here's a little photo teaser of a cute little blonde boy who is very excited Mama let him have a marshmallow.

So, stay tuned! Talk about a boring post, I know. 


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tips on running more than 2 miles with a toddler, and other such seemingly impossible feats.

I basically took off the entire winter from running. Besides random short treadmill runs during naptime and running during our three weeks in California, I hardly ran at all. It was just too darn cold this winter to even go alone ( I hate being cold). And I could definitely not take CJ out in the cold. When he was a litttle guy, I could cover in in blankets except for a hole for his nose, and he would be content and warm. Well, that no longer satisfies him, he must be eating or reading a book for his entire stay in the stroller. It's hard to eat with bulky gloves on, and he's pretty cold-intolerant like myself, so the running would have to wait. The last winter run I took him on I felt so guilty, because he was perfectly still with his bright purple hands (since he refused to wear gloves) sticking out to the side in total misery. I felt like a terrible mother! I flew home and defrosted him, babied him, and tended his every wish that day.

So this spring, I have been so excited to get out the door with him again. Talk about a shock though...he must have gained 15 pounds since the last time I ran with him. Try pushing a 30lb toddler up miles worth of hills in a 45lb + stroller carrying water, a phone, two baby books, snacks, a small gun, etc. OH HELP. Why can't my road be flat?? If you ever want to really feel the burn in your legs, do what I do. It is ROUGH. CJ has not been in the stroller for months, my first run with him in it was very interesting.
We get out onto the road, and about 20 ft into the run, he is all done with his popcorn and insists I take it from him.
Then he needs to wipe off his hands.
Then he'd like his water.
Then he'd like his popcorn again.
Never mind! He wants to get out.
So he stands up facing me and talking to me incessantly about the birds and demanding answers or recognition of whatever he says (as I am dying pushing his weight and not really feeling too chatty).
Then he squeals hello at the creepy neighbor guy that I always avoid and try to sneak past.
After being buckled (I decide to strap him down), the popcorn scene ensues again.

Needless to say, my 4 mile run turned into an out-and-back 2 miler, because my brain was going to pop open. CJ needed something every 15 seconds, so I had to stop every 15 seconds. He was definitely not used to this stroller thing, and it was very discouraging. How on earth would I get my runs in if he couldn't handle it?
But I went again anyway. And again and again. And I discovered that with each little stroller run, CJ grew more and more accustomed to it. Like muscle memory. And yes, although he needs some maintenance every seven or eight minutes, he knows now that it's not the end of the world to sit there for 30 minutes or so eating popcorn and fruit and drinking juice.
So now that I've gabbed on forever, here are some pointers I've figured out for running with a toddler successfully. If you are a serious runner, as in training for a race and timing your paces, intervals, and splits, I would not recommend stroller running. You need a konked out kid that weighs less than 10 pounds to get an "normal" seeming mile times.

What I've learned while running with an opinionated toddler:
(not in order, as usual)

1. Bring more than one snack. My go-to since he learned to love it has been popcorn with coconut oil, nutritional yeast and salt, which is one of CJ's all-time favorite foods. Now that his palate has expanded, he gets bored with this. So I bring other options...either sliced fruit, a granola bar, or actual granola that he has to pick up with his fingers, therefore being more time-consuming to eat. This keeps him interested.
2. Something to sip on! I used to just bring water, but now I've discovered that if he has a bottle of juice with a straw, he is entertained with that for several minutes.
3. His favorite book. CJ has one book he is always excited to read. It has about a hundred different photos of planes, trains, tractors, 4 wheelers, trucks, dirt bikes, etc. If he decides to be completely dissinterested in any kind of food, I hand him this and it *usually* does the trick.
4. Biggest tip of all! This should be number 1, but I don't feel like rearranging everything. I never feed CJ a meal or snack within an hour or two of when we got running. Might sound cruel. But if he has eaten too recently, he doesnt' care at all about his stroller snacks and is much more difficult to entertain for a few miles. When I say we're going to go running, he knows it means it's time to eat and he is excited to go.
5. An electronic device. If I had a tablet of some form, I would never go running without it. Whenever I want to run a little longer and CJ has no interest in the options before him, I give him my phone and let him watch old video clips of himself. He loves it. It's a last resort though, because I usually use my phone for music.
6. An open mind. Maybe this should be number 1. Hmmmm. If you are going to be running with your baby or toddler most of the time, don't ever, ever, ever expect to not be interrupted! A short 3 mile run will take you at least 10 or 15 minutes longer. It might get frustrating, but once you train your own mind (as you train their's), it's not so bad. The way I see it, is I am blessed to have a good running stroller, I'm getting a much harder workout having to push the weight of a large dog, my baby is breathing in fresh air, and... I'm doing what I love. I cannot tell you how many times I had to stop and nurse CJ on my first ventures out when he was just a teeny little thing. At times it can be frustrating... I just want to run x-amount of miles and be done! But it's not that way, and it's okay. Start off small, and once your kid gets used to it--and likes it-- go farther.

Of course the obvious solution is to get a babysitter. All of my sitters (who are all family) live close to twenty minutes away, so I prefer not to do the whole ordeal of driving there, running, socializing, driving home, and having a huge chunk of my day taken out. I did this quite a bit when he was an infant, but for day-to-day running, I just need to be able to walk out my door and go.
We'll see how it goes with two little humans to push in a few months. I'm not expecting good things, but hey... many have done it before me and many will after me. CJ has helped me rack up experience for the last 2 years, and maybe that will help. Maybe this next baby will be a quiet little mouse type so CJ can talk it's ear off. :)

Was he not just the sweetest little running buddy ever?!

Monday, June 2, 2014

My trick to chasing pregnancy-induced sciatic back pain away!

There's pregnancy back pain....
...and then there's pregnancy back pain.
Most pregnant women suffer from some sort of back pain due to the weight of the baby pulling at the spine, causing the mother to arch her back and thus throw her spine out of alignment and cause a lot of strain. 
Then there is sciatic back pain, and if you have ever dealt with this, you know it can take over your whole life. It's located very low on the back pretty much at the top of the butt (normally on one side) and feels like pinching, burning nerve pain or sometimes like bones rubbing together angrily. It can be miserable and has a complete mind of it's own, and not really massage-able. It will limit you hugely as it's not just a "sore" feeling, but an actual something-is-severely-wrong kind of pain that can knock you to the floor or make you cry.
While pregnant with CJ, I remember having limited amount of this pain. I remember laying outside on our concrete pad under the sun to tan, and without fail every time, this pain would haunt me when I tried to get up. I quickly learned not to lay on concrete (which seems pretty obvious). That was pretty much it.
This time around though, the sciatica has flared up so very badly, that it had handicapped me... a lot. Most mornings I would wake up feeling back to normal, but by the end of the day I could barely walk. Nothing helped at all... no amount of stretching, ab work, resting, walking, rubbing or moping around would help it whatsoever. If I sat on our couch I was pretty much glued to it unless I wanted to cause myself some major pain by attempting to get up. So I never sat down during the day for more than a minute until Clint came home and we were watching a movie or reading. Then it would take me 5 minutes to get up and go limping pathetically over to the bed. 
I was beginning to feel so extremely frustrated... this was no way to live. If I worked out, my back was on fire afterwards. If I didn't work out, my back was on fire afterwards. This sciatica limited me from doing a lot of things with my little boy and from feeling good at all. This is no way to live waddling around every day just tolerating the pains or being stopped in my tracks whenever it chose to get especially nasty. Welcoming my husband home from work with a big wince on my face wasn't too cool either. I didn't want to be stuck at the chiropractor all the time... I wanted the problem solved.
Then one day it just dawned on me. As I mentioned above, prenatal sciatic back pain is located so low on the back, it's pretty much at the top of the butt and will control your whole leg (thus severe pain while walking). It's joking referred to as the "pain in the butt back pain". It occurred to me that perhaps if the glute muscle was consistently fired up, activated, and being used all day, that it would support whatever terrorist activity is going on in there and ease the sciatic pain. They say ab work will help prevent pregnancy back pain, but I realized that the exact location of this specific back pain really had nothing to do with my abs. And besides, I tried that (a lot) already.
So, when I woke up in the morning the next day feeling back to normal, I immediately spent 20 minutes or so working out JUST the glute muscle... not even squats or lunges. I did hundreds of donkey kicks, glute bridges, and side leg lifts. When I got up and commenced my day, I made a conscious effort to always be keeping my heel to the floor with each stride so as to keep my glutes contracted. I went running and instead of just running "with my legs", and straigtened out my back leg (which flexes the glute muscle) with each stride. What can I say... it took a lot of subconscious flexing throughout the whole entire day. But my WORD!! I had NO pain the rest of the day and for the days afterward. One day I forgot to do my little butt routine (hehe...) and the pain returned with full force. I've learned my lesson now and was amazed that I found NO info on the internet about activating the glutes all day long to scare away sciatic pain.  Seems like there would be more info about how to ACTUALLY cure this by providing stronger support.
It all makes sense right? It makes sense because it works. I'm not a fitness nutcase or rock hard bodybuilder, but I work out regularly and would consider myself to be pretty strong. I wouldn't have thought my glutes were weak. BUT... by completely isolating the glute muscle in the morning and totally exhausting it, it stays activated and will provide support to eliminate sciatic back pain. During the day if I ever feel the pain threatening to come back, I'll do standing donkey kicks (basically a straight-leg back kick) 20 times or so and it instantly feels better. The glutes aren't just one big muscle that squats will do the trick for. It needs to activated at several different angles, and that is what I was missing.

Despite how much I'd just love to post photos and instructions on each exercises, I don't really have the time (or feel like it, ha!). If you don't know the exact form or how to do any of these, just type it into google or search it on YouTube, and you'll find thousands of other's willing to demonstrate for you. ;)
So here's a quick, simple, easy little routine that could change your pregnant life! Change up the reps to more or less. This is just a short version.

20 (each) Standing side leg lifts. (stand as normal, left one leg directly out to the side with glute muscle activated and lift parallel to the floor side a straight-legged side kick, drop back down).

40 (each) Kneeling Donkey Kicks 

30 Glute Bridges

20 (each) Lying side leg-lifts (Lie down on your side with head supported by hand, elbow on floor, top arm resting with hand on hip. Raise top leg as high as you can while activated the glute muscle, lower down to the floor).

Repeat 2x (or more)

I do a lot of variations of these very simple exercises. For the leg lifts, I'll often add a squat before kicking out to the side, or hold a heavy dumbell. For the donkey kicks, I wear ankle weights that tend to naturally force the butt muscle to contract. I also alternate between straight leg donkey kicks and bent leg. For the glute bridges, add a weight resting on your hips for resistance or alternate between lifting one let out in the air with each rep. A lot of times I will do the donkey kicks with either my hands of toes balancing on a stability ball which makes it more difficult. And of course there are so many other butt-specific moves (especially in Pilates and ballet-style workouts) that could be added to this. There are several more I do along with these (to keep from boredom) that I will perhaps post later.

Obviously, this isn't some ground breaking workout. It's just an example of what has changed my life the last few weeks to almost completely eliminate sciatic back pain during this pregnancy that was such a pain in the butt, it was depressing. My goal in posting this is to hopefully help any of the other preggos out there who are suffering from this! I tried constant squats, variations of squats, core workouts, and more. But the only thing that has made any ounce of difference is isolated glute exercises that don't really seem that hard. Even stretching was very painful. It worked for me and I think it could work for many other's. When you discover something that really affected your life, you naturally want to share. 
So to you other girls who have this special kind of pregnancy pain... work that booty!