Thursday, August 25, 2016

7 Changes For Weight Loss

Today I came across an article titled "7 Changes To Make If You Want To Lose 20 Pounds Or More".

While typically I don't endorse those kinds of articles, I thought this one in particular was quite good.  Here's my summary of their 7 points.  You can click on the link above if you want to read their exact verbiage.

1 - Think Long Term

Basically, this means rather than "fast fix" diets, shakes or exercise routines, you need to approach whatever you take on as a "new normal".  Don't do anything new that you can't see yourself doing for the rest of your life, or eventually you'll stop doing it and the weight loss will not stick

2 - Focus on the Big Stuff

Rather than nit picking your minor day to day habits (like using a healthier creamer option for your coffee), think bigger picture when you adopt lifestyle changes.  For example, focus on adding more vegetables to your plate or drinking water over soda.  You can worry about the little stuff later, after you have the more important points under control first.

3 - Forget the Scale

Everyone I know CONSTANTLY talks numbers.  In reality, what the scale tells you doesn't matter if you are working out and getting healthy.  Plus, seeing the scale make minor fluctuations from one day to the next can be frustrating and demotivating.  Instead, force yourself to ignore the scale for a week or two at a time.

4 - Seize Opportunities

If you have a chance to do something simple like take the stairs, park further away and walk in, etc - take them!  All those little things add up to big change over time.

5 - Progressively Cut Calories

This one I feel a little ... meh on.  The article says shave more calories from your diet as you lose weight (IE 500 a day at first, and then maybe up to 600 a day after you lose 5-10 pounds).  I understand their justification for what they're saying ... but at some point, rather than say you need to cut 600 a day, I'd rather just see people focus on lifestyle adaptations that are maintainable long term.  So maybe once you've tweaked your lifestyle for big stuff like more vegetables and more exercise, you start to focus on smaller changes like using less dressing on your vegetables or going for a run instead of a walk ... stuff like that.

6 - LIFT

Yes!  I know cardio burns calories.  But ellipticals are not the answers to all life's woes.  The more muscle mass you carry, the higher your metabolism operates.  Get into a weight lifting routine that helps you build muscle as well as burn calories.  (AHEM - TBC anyone?!)

7 - Love Yourself

You know?  I really love that this is the final point in the article.  So many people forget to appreciate their body for what it is when they start a weight loss program.  The truth is, everyone out there has something they need to work on with their body - weight loss, muscle tone, whatever.  There's nothing wrong with that.  If you've made it this far, you've acknowledged you need to take steps towards making yourself healthier, so being OK with your body wherever it is today is exactly what you should be doing!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eating Out - Health Tips

In order to keep my GroupX instructor certification current, I've been reading a book about sports nutrition by Nancy Clark.  It's somewhat interesting if you're curious to read it yourself, though it's fairly elementary information if you're someone more versed in nutrition like myself.


Anyway, commentary aside, I saw some information in there the other day that I found interesting.  Though I'm not a fan of eating fast food on a regular basis, I do understand that there's the occasion where it is unavoidable - for whatever reason.  Knowing that, I thought I would share the below.  Enjoy!



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Webster Education Foundation 5K 2016 (Pushin' a Stroller)


Webster Education Foundation 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 12:13/mile

Well, folks, it's August.  I suppose that means it's time for another go at the Webster Education Foundation 5K.

As I said last year, this race is one of the few that I've participated in every year since conception.  And it's particularly special to me now, for two reasons: I placed first it my age category there in 2013 (though I couldn't quite repeat that in 2014), and I ran it in 2015 when I was just suspecting I might be pregnant with my baby boy.

It's only fitting, then, that this race marked my first go at running with a baby stroller in tow!  Right?  Right! 

Let's run!


On Saturday morning at about 7:45, after a lot of rushing around trying to get not just me but also baby ready for our first race together, my husband drove our SUV up to the 5-12 school in Webster and put it in park. 

Yes, you read that right.  A 7:45 arrival for a race at 8:00.  Quite a bit later than my usual 30+ minute check in.  What can I say?  Life changes when you have a kid.  (Not to mention, I value my sleep more these days, too.)

Even though my arrival was later than normal for me, since this is a smaller race without a lot of hullabaloo around it, I had plenty of time.  In a matter of minutes I was in and out with bibs and race t in hand - yes that's plural bibs, singular T ... we gotta work on these races to start offering onesies or baby Ts I guess, LOL!

Here's this year's T:


And yes, once again this shirt may look familiar to you, since it's the 2014 and 2015 design on a different color base.  This shirt the last two years now has been a wicking T, which you know I'm not a huge fan of, but at least this one is a heavier weight meshy style fabric ... so, I'll allow it.  *cheeseball grin*  I still prefer cotton, though.

As I exited the school building, I had a large grin on my face.  Making my way back to the car, I proceeded to pin our bibs on. 

Why the grin, you ask?  Well, because ... I finally got to be #1! 


And of course, what's #1 without a trusty #2 right by my side?!



This kid definitely knows something about #2, too.  Let me tell you!  (Yes, that was a gratuitous poop joke.  Moving along ...)

You'll notice in the above photos that I put a mosquito netting over the jogging stroller prior to our run.  Having just completed the bug-ma-geddon that was the Gandy Fly In 5K a few weeks back, I decided I had better start learning from my mistakes and preparing better for less than desirable run conditions.  Preparation - something that is especially important now that I have a kid along for the ride.  #adulting

Of course I say this, and then what happens?  It starts to rain on race morning.  Which I was not prepared for AT ALL.  Whomp-whomp.

At least the rain was only an intermittent fine mist, which actually was just light enough that it beaded up on the netting and rolled right off, so the inside of the stroller stayed completely dry the entire morning.  Plus, the overcast weather ended up keeping the overall temps relatively cool/comfortable.  So ... win for me on that one.  But loss for me too, since the mist was just enough to remove any bug spray I applied.  A huge issue later in the run.  More on that later.

(Side note to self - better order a rain shield for the stroller, too. Time to turn on that money sucker known as

Despite the mist and overcast skies, and my late arrival, my GPS was a champ on race morning.  Just a minute before I needed to line up for the run, I clicked that thing on and it was good to go.  I can't figure out why, given my issues in a previous race ... but ok then!

With a happy GPS and an even happier baby (who was babbling and cooing away, loving the excited energy of the crowd), I pushed the stroller towards the start line and mentally prepared for what was to come: zero training, with or without stroller. 

Well, here goes!

Shoot!  Suddenly I realized I should probably tuck my phone into the diaper bag and keep it protected from the mist during the run.  So of course, as I'm doing this, I hear the race announcer yell "on your mark, get set ..." 

In a rush, I shoved my phone away, barely managing to fumble the diaper bag zipper shut while a very loud bang of an official track gun went off. 

Shoot again!  Not even thinking pre-race about my choice of start point, or how loud the gun was and how close I was to it, I nervously looked up to check on what was happening inside the stroller.  To my amazement, instead of crying I heard an excited laugh.  Could he really be this happy to be in a 5K?  Must have been all that racing I did while pregnant, eh?! 

Alright, the gun has been fired and you're ready to go.  Let's run little boy!


In years past, this course made a figure 8 of sorts through "downtown" Webster and along the Gandy Dancer trail.  Since we headed along that usual path, crossing over the main street of town, I figured we were on track for a repeat again in 2016.  But then we kept going, and going, and going ...

Where the heck is the Gandy trail?! Don't we usually hit that within the first mile of the run?  I thought. 

Am I really running that slowly?  Ugh, if I am, this is going to be one long race. 

Despite my happy start, my internal running narrative was becoming none too chipper.  Trying to keep myself distracted, and to keep my son entertained, I echoed back the excited coos coming from in the stroller (and very likely sounded insane to anyone within ear shot of me).  Thankfully, before I could get into too much of a hate spiral, my watch beeped that I had completed mile one. 

10:40?!  What the heck?!  I never would have expected to run a mile that fast with the ZERO training I've done, especially with the addition of a stroller.  Pat yourself on the back, lady!

Once I cleared the first mile, I realized there must have been a course change for 2016 and my mood vastly improved. 

Since I was making OK time (and also sucking air), I decided to slow for a walk break and debated my pacing strategy for the rest of the run. 

Strategizing was tough.  While I was happy with my 10:40 continuous run on my first mile, and I really would have liked to try to run a continuous third mile in this race, I doubted the viability of being able to make that happen.  Realistically, I knew that the mile I just completed felt hard, and I wasn't sure I could repeat that a second time.  Sure, I could push and potentially peter myself out prior to hitting the finish line ... if I were running alone ... but I had a kid with me that I was responsible for getting to the finish.  Knowing that, I figured another full mile wasn't in the cards for me. 

So, having no real strategy beyond finishing with a decent pace, I followed a rough 3/3 interval for mile two (three minutes running, three minutes walking).  It was during this mile, at where I estimated to be the 1.5 mile mark, that I got a little nervous - I finally passed the 1 mile marker and started to wonder if my GPS was off.  Not to worry, shortly after I passed the 2 mile marker ... so I figure that was just a mistake in sign placement. 

Anyway!  Going back to my race strategy and intervals, remember how I said it was misting and my bug spray was getting washed off?  Take a look at my intervals in mile two versus mile three.

Can you guess what started happening? 

Let's just say ... they don't make mesh running netting in adult sizes.  LOL!

And by the way, you know the bugs are bad when (1) the cops directing race traffic are ALL complaining about it, every time you pass them and (2) the woman at the finish line asks you if you're OK because you're covered in hives from your neck to your ankles.  Seriously, as I'm writing this it's already 3 days post race and I STILL look like I have the chicken pox.  Ugh!

Lucky for me, despite the mobs of mosquitos, I was well into my 3rd mile by now and coming back towards our start point.  Trying to pretend I wasn't getting eaten alive, I waved to my husband and headed towards the final stretch on the school's track.


Oh, that reminds me.  When I first entered the field just outside of where the race course joined the track, I was pleasantly surprised to see a 35 on the clock in the distance, and debated if I could pick up the pace and pull off at a 36 and change.  But the harder I pushed, the worse I started to feel.  Not wanting to really overdo it in my victory lap, I decided to just keep a level pace and do my best.

Which takes me to the last photo you see above - right into the finisher's chute, where I was handed TWO of these babies (which were generously provided by an unmentioned donor - ahem):

After finishing the race, my husband greeted me in the stands and was amazed to see a gleeful baby in the stroller.  Unbeknownst to us, he thought cowbells were GREAT and was over the top to hear people ringing them and cheering as more runners came through the chute.  While he giggled away, I grabbed a banana, a bottle of water and a coconut granola bar from the snack table and took a rest on a nearby bleacher.

That's when I saw this:

A dog in a race T and a finisher's medal?!  YES!  I had to take a picture.

In addition to this amazing dog, my husband and I had to chuckle at the chatter amongst the crowd.  We were sitting nearby a man who had just finished walking.  Ready to go home, he was warned by another spectator he couldn't leave yet, since age grade awards were about to begin.  With a loud bellow and a snicker, he proclaimed "Well might as well sign me up for the 100+ category because I'm going to win that goddamn thing!  I'm 73.  Everybody I know is having a heart attack and my doctor says I'm as healthy as a horse!"

I love people who have zero F's to give.  :-D

Shortly thereafter, as I finished my snacks, the top runners were given a second medal for their performances, and we all went home.


And that's the story of how race bib #73 joined my collection, which if you've been watching makes #2 for baby boy.  Here's to another race soon ... which *gasp* might include my whole fam-damily (me, baby AND husband)! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

About My Grandma

Ages ago, I did an "about me" post where I mentioned my Grandma.  Since it was awhile ago, you may not remember this photo.

That is my Grandma about 5-10 years ago (maybe).  She decided one day that she needed to take a badass photo, and borrowed her son's leather jacket and motorcycle so that she could pose accordingly in front of her house.  She's since sold the house, as she didn't need all that space all on her lonesome, but it still makes for a great photo.

More recently, maybe 3 or so years ago, I unexpectedly received a Christmas card in the mail that caught me off guard.

I guess my Grandma had some trouble with the law?  Hahaha.  In reality, she took advantage of a social connection and a great photo opportunity, and then maximized it by sending a copy to everyone at Christmas time.  Gotta love it.

One of my favorite stories about my Grandma, though, has to do with an automatic rifle and a hearing check.  The story goes that a few years ago on the 4th of July, she was on some private farm property where someone had shown up with an AK47 or equivalent automatic gun, and said person was trying to get some of the teenaged boys present to fire the gun.  The boys, all fearing the resulting kick of firing, nervously declined the opportunity.  My Grandma, not even missing a beat, smirked at the boys then stepped up and said "Well, somebody needs to shoot it.  I'm 97 years old, what have I got to lose?" - AND ACTUALLY FIRED THE GUN! 

So a few weeks later, after firing the gun, my Grandma goes in for her first hearing aid fitting.  The doctor goes through his run of the mill questions about health history, environmental factors, etc. - looking for any kind of triggers that may contribute to hearing loss.  One of his standard questions was something to the effect of "have you had any exposure to loud noises" or something like that.  Wanting to be honest, my Grandma said "Well, not really.  Except for the other weekend when I was shooting off that Russian machine gun. I guess that was kind of loud."

I'm sure you can about imagine the doctor's response to hearing that from a 97 year old woman!


Generally speaking, my Grandma has had a very interesting life.  She grew up in what I call "the real frontier" - her parents moved from Pittsburg to the wild west of Montana and homesteaded in the late 1800's, where she was eventually born in the early 1900's.  I have a digital copy of an audio CD she recorded a few years ago where she talks about her life and the progression she saw from living in essentially a "Little House on the Prairie" style cabin without electricity or pluming to the modern home you see above.  Her life is a fascinating story that takes you from a time when Native Americans still lived a nomadic lifestyle, through the Great Depression and the World Wars, and sees you up to raising a family in St. Paul during the 60s and 70s. 

Ok - pause here.  I know this is getting to be a lot of info.  But hang with me, I'm telling you all this information today for two reasons.

First of all, I'm telling you because at some point I may write a "non detailed" recap of what happened during my birthing process (or I may not, I haven't decided - the only reason I'm thinking I might is that so many people tell horror stories about their deliveries, and I want people to know that there are plenty of good stories during child birth too).  Anyway, in order for a line in my birthing story to make sense, you need to know the following: being that my Grandma lived in the "real frontier", and doctor access was limited, she would occasionally attend home births with her mother who was the equivalent of a home trained midwife that helped many local farm women during delivery.  As a result, my Grandma had a saying she would quote from time to time, thanks to her mother:

"God ought to have designed both men and women to give birth, then made it so men had to have the first child and women the second.  That way, when it came time to have a third, that would be the end of it.  Every family would only have two children."

Second of all, I'm telling you this story because just a week or two ago, my Grandma went out for tea with some family and they snapped this photo.

Yes, that is a tiara.  Knowing what you do about me, I have to pose the question: it possible that fashion sense is also genetic?

Anyway - the round about point to this post is: if some day I make it to 99 years old, I hope I can maintain my sense of fashion and humor just like her. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Yeah I Cloth Diaper - Part 3: Washing & Overall Cost

As I mentioned in a post over a week ago, I've been a little busy in these last 3-4 months.

Before I get too far, two things:

(1) Yes, I know the below is not health or fitness related.
(2) No, I'm not going to turn this website into a baby blog.

Ok, with that being said, let's move on...

FYI - This is the final post in a 3 part series about cloth diapering.  Today's topic is about cloth diaper washing routines and a discussion about the "real" cost to cloth diaper versus disposables.  If you want to know more about the range of diapers I tried and what I use for my regular daily rotation (what most cloth diaper fans refer to as their "stash"), or the other miscellaneous accessories I have to complement my stash, feel free to go check out those posts as well.


Wash Routine

Some people really get particular with their diapers, so I may ignite a fire storm with this post but ... the truth is, I wash with Tide and Oxyclean.  Technically, it's the baby friendly version of Tide (I think it's called free and pure or some such schmaltz), but whatever.

When I first started using cloth diapers, I originally used Dreft since I knew it was OK for my baby's skin.  But after about a month or so of washes, I felt like the diapers weren't getting clean enough.  While I wasn't getting the trademark "barnyard stink" or ammonia issues that commonly become a cloth diaper woe, I noticed that the diapers didn't exactly smell as nice as they used to and had the occasional stain on the shell.  After some Googling, I realized this was likely due to the fact that Dreft isn't exactly ideal for washing cloth diapers.

While making this discovery, I ended up reading an embarrassingly wide range of opinions on the matter of cloth diaper detergents, and discovered I "should" invest in some PRETTY EXPENSIVE soaps for my diapers, which made me a little frustrated.  I mean, I'm doing cloth to save money, not spend it!  So, in a crabby snit, one day I just jumped into the pool and switched to Tide and Oxyclean.  Technically, I felt justified in doing so thanks to this Youtube video and a few message boards I visited, but I still knew there was some risk in switching my routine and damaging my diapers.

Risk aside - I'm somewhere between 1-2 months in on this new wash routine, and so far it seems to be working, so fingers crossed.

Beyond the cleaners I use in the wash, I should let you know that I have an HE machine with a few features that makes washing easier.  First of all, I just have to click buttons to add extra pre and post rinses to any wash cycle (as opposed to having to restart the machine to get extra rinse cycles as some models require).  And second, my machine has a wash cycle called heavy duty, which uses more water during the wash, which is ideal for cloth diapering. 

So basically, I just dump my diapers and wipes into the wash (FYI - the diaper shells and inserts are already separated, I do that when I'm changing baby's diaper so I don't have to touch the dirty diapers again later), turn the diaper pail wet bag inside out and throw that in, dump in about 1/4 of a scoop of Oxyclean, and shut the door on the washer.  Then I select the heavy duty cycle, click the buttons to add an extra pre and post rinse, add the tide to the soap dispenser and push start.  Done! 

Note: this wash method requires about 2 hours on my machine, but since my diapers are coming out squeaky clean, it's worth the extra time.  Originally, I was using the standard cycle with the extra pre and post rinses added, which saved about 20 minutes on the wash cycle ... but with the extra addition of the Oxyclean, I wanted to ensure there was plenty of time to rinse all that out - which is also why I add the Oxyclean into the wash at the pre-rinse stage.

Once my diapers are done washing, I separate out the shells and wet bags and let them air dry, and put the inserts and cloth wipes into the dryer on high heat.  Technically I could machine dry the shells and wet bags on low heat, but since I'm using Oxyclean and that's potentially harder on the PUL and elastics, I'm trying to offset that possible wear and tear by eliminating the dryer instead.  To be honest, the air drying isn't a big deal anyway - since I do my wash in the evening, and don't need to stuff clean diapers until the next evening when I'm free again, everything that's air dried is ready at that point anyway.

The Poop Question

A lot of people say to me ... ok, so that's your wash routine.  But Natalie, what do you do with all the POOP?!

Valid concern.  Poop is pretty gross to deal with.

Here's the thing, though.  Right now my baby is exclusively breast fed.  That means everything coming out of him is water soluble and can go straight into the washer. 

I know, at first I didn't believe that myself, so I spent some time pre-rinsing poopy diapers, and also tried out diaper liners like this:


What I discovered is that pre-rinsing didn't really do anything except introduce unnecessary water into my diaper pail, and that diaper liners don't really work for breastfed babies.  (TMI alert: they have really loose poops).

I've heard that as your child begins solid foods, cloth diapering becomes a tad more challenging in the poop category.  When I hit that stage, I will likely re-introduce either the above diaper liners (as I was gifted/purchased a few boxes already), or consider buying a diaper sprayer that connects to my toilet and a spray shield:


I'll figure that part out later.  Either way, I'm not too worried about it.

BTW, don't be fooled.  We might call the above a diaper sprayer in the US, but any other country would see that and know it's a bidet.  Moving on ...

Oh, I should add here a general note on "dealing with poop" in regards to cloth diapers: for some reason, people use poop as their main excuse not to cloth diaper.  Why, I'm not quite sure.  When you change a child's diaper, disposable or not, guess what?!  You're gonna deal with poop.  There's no way around it, you've gotta put your hands in there and clean up the mess.  Plus, it's not like with cloth diapers you're up to your elbows in it ... like I said, right now I hardly even deal with it.  So really, don't make this into an issue that it isn't, ok?!  Thanks!!

The Real Cost to Cloth Diapering - Initial Set Up

So by now we've covered the cost to set up a cloth diaper "stash", the accessories you would need to support cloth diapering, and the wash process.  I guess it's time to wrap up the discussion and get to the point - money, honey.

As I already outlined in previous posts, a general cloth diaper set up would shake out to be something like this (I'm going to make the assumption that you're NOT going to want to test out all the options I did and assume you want a "healthy" supply as opposed to a "lean" one):

3 dozen Baby Goal Pocket Diapers - $79.99 per dozen x 3 -  $239.97
6 LBB Pocket Diapers - $35.99
6 Baby Goal Replacement Charcoal Bamboo Inserts - $16.99

6 Hemp Doublers - $13.50
5 Zorb Inserts - $18.50

2 wet bags for your diaper bag - free with Baby Goal 12 pack of diapers above
2 wet bags for your home diaper pail - $12.99 each x 2 = $25.98
3 wet bags for daycare - $18.99 each x 3 = $56.97
1 wet bag for weekends away that zippers shut - $14.50

Total cost - $422.40

Yeah, I know $422 seems like a lot.  But let's compare that against a rough average of $65/month for disposables. 

    $422 for a cloth diaper set up
       -divide by-
    $65 a month for disposables
    = 6.5 months worth of disposable diapers

As you can see, in about 6 months, the cloth has paid for itself - and that's without even factoring in the money you save by eliminating disposable trash bags for the diaper genie or disposable wipes (if you decide to use cloth there as well, which you should, since you'll get 12 wipes free with the 3 dozen Baby Goal diapers anyway).  *Yes, I know this doesn't factor in washing - more on that in a minute.*

If the $422 investment doesn't float your boat - keep in mind that in the above set up, I'm assuming you need supplies for daycare (anything highlighted in yellow).  If you're doing just an at home stash, you could eliminate the extra LBB diapers/inserts and the wet bags for daycare, getting your initial investment down to $312.45.  (About 4-5 months worth of disposables.)

Further more,  I'm assuming a "healthy" at home stash (3 dozen Baby Goal diapers).  Realistically, you could shave that down to 2 dozen and be completely fine.  I mean, I don't even go through 15-16 cloth diapers in a 2 day window, and I'm washing every 2-3 days anyway.  Shaving off these excess diapers from your stash, along with the daycare eliminations above, takes another $79.99 off.  This gets your initial investment down to $232.46.  (About 3 months worth of disposables.)

Regardless of how you look at it, within a 6 month window, you will basically break even on cloth diapering in the above scenarios - not factoring in washing.

The Real Cost to Cloth Diapering - Washing Long Term

So, we've figured out the cost of getting cloth, but let's talk about washing and what that does to your costs as well.

Since I'm not super savvy with documenting my bills over the last year and I really have no interest in trying to figure out my utility bills pre and post baby ...

I'm going to redirect you to a two blogs I read about diaper washing. 

     Here - assumption = about $130/year to wash & dry
     Here - assumption = about $125/year to wash & dry

I know two blogs isn't a lot of research, but as the saying goes: "good enough for government work".  And honestly, to me even $130 seems high for what amounts to about 3 extra loads of laundry a week.  But, what do I know? 

Anyway, let's just stick to the $130 and call it good.  Assuming your child is in diapers for 3 years (36 months), then costs would shake out like this:

     Cloth - $230 to $422 for diapers + $130 a year for washing (x3) = $620 to $812
     Disposables - $65 average per month x 36 months = $2340

     Cost Savings - $1528 to $1720 

Wow, FIFTEEN HUNDRED?!  That's quite a savings.  And yeah, I would consider that a pretty legit number.  To add some perspective, I just read an article not too long ago in the New York times quoting that the average American spends around $2500 on disposable diapers over the lifetime of each child.  And I KNOW the costs I estimate for cloth are correct since I did it myself.  So yeah ... a $1500 savings.  That's kind of a lot!

And keep in mind - that doesn't even consider the fact that you could also eliminate trash bags and disposable wipes.  Even at $5 a month for that over 36 months, you would add at least another $180 to the above figures, if not more.

Put that $1500 + $180 into a future college fund ... you *might* even be able to pay one semester of college tuition with the interest included.  Might. 

Ugh, let's not talk about that.  So not ready for that money suck.

*Before moving on, note that I didn't add to the above scenario the cost for a potentially future needed diaper sprayer, spray shield or diaper liners.  Since I will likely use the sprayer and shield, and that will only add another $50+/-, I'm not too worried about factoring that into this analysis.  Do keep in mind, however, that the liners cost about 5 cents each ... so that will make a substantial impact on the above numbers over time.  Either way you look at it, though, you should still financially come out ahead in the above scenario, even with liners included.

The Real Cost to Cloth Diapering - Environmental and Health Impacts

OK, so we've been really focused on the financial part of cloth diapering.  But, one of the things I haven't talked about much in this whole series of blog posts is the environmental and health impacts of cloth diapering.  To be honest, this post has gotten pretty long, so I don't want to drag it out too much more.  However, there is some real weight to this topic as well, and I don't want to just skip it totally during this conversation.  So, before I go, I'll just make a few quick points, and you can do more research if it interests you:

- Over 20 billion diapers find their way to US landfills each year.  Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of all solid waste. Additionally, in a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste.

- The manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth.  Additionally, over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby EACH YEAR.

- No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years, long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone.  Even so called "eco friendly" diapers that are labeled as biodegradable often do not biodegrade in landfills as they are typically dumped inside plastic trash bags, covered and not exposed to sun or air (which aids in the biodegrading process).  And even if any diaper did decompose, eco friendly or not, as they decomposed they would release chemicals and dyes as well.

- Baby’s poorly developed outer skin layer can absorb about 50 different chemicals if you use disposable diapers, wipes and standard baby products.  Just to pick two of those chemicals:
     Dioxin - a chemical by product of the paper bleaching process used in the manufacturing of most diapers. Dioxin is carcinogenic, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals.
     Phthalates - the plastic softeners that were recently banned from children’s teething rings and other toys because of toxicity. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, meaning they mimic human hormones and send false signals to the body.
Yeah .. pretty gross stuff.


And ... that about wraps it up.  A full summary on why I cloth diaper, what I use, and the costs (financial, health and environmental) behind them.  After reading what I had to day - what do you think?  Feel free to comment below.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Yeah I Cloth Diaper - Part 2: Accessories

As I mentioned in a post over a week ago, I've been a little busy in these last 3-4 months.

Before I get too far, two things:

(1) Yes, I know the below is not health or fitness related.
(2) No, I'm not going to turn this website into a baby blog.

Ok, with that being said, let's move on...

FYI - This will be post 2 of 3 in regards to cloth diapering.  Today's topic is about cloth diapering accessories.  Previously, I discussed the range of diapers I tried and what I use for my regular daily rotation (or what most cloth diaper fans refer to as their "stash").  Stay tuned for the final post about cloth diaper washing routines and a discussion about the "real" cost to cloth diaper versus disposables.


Cloth Diapering Accessories

Regardless of how you diaper, you're going to need a handful of accessories in order to make life easier like diaper pails, wipes, etc.  However, with cloth diapering, you do need a few extra things that you wouldn't need with disposables.  Today's post is going to talk about products that fall into both the disposable and/or cloth diapering realm of needs. 

NOTE:  click on the title of each section if you want a direct link to where I purchased each item.

Reusable Wipes

While wipes aren't specific to cloth diapering, reusable wipes do complement the conversation of cloth diapers quite well.  But, to be honest, this concept had never even crossed my radar prior to ordering cloth diapers.  And even after I learned about it, I was actually hesitant to use cloth wipes at first. 
The only reason I even thought about MAYBE using reusable wipes was because my Baby Goal diapers came with a 4 pack of free wipes per dozen diapers (side note: you could easily just make your own wipes out of old t-shirts or buy dollar store baby washcloths).  And even with the free wipes, I still wasn't really eager to give them a shot. 
It wasn't until I was well into cloth diapering that I finally realized ... I was already doing cloth diaper laundry, so what's the difference if I add a few wipes into the wash as well?  May as well stop paying for wipes, right?  So finally, I decided to give reusable wipes a shot. 
To make this set up work, I purchased a fill-it-yourself travel hairspray bottle from the travel section at Target (over where they have the tiny toothpastes and deodorants), and filled it with a wipe formula I found online. 
To make the wipe formula, essentially I fill the hairspray bottle about 20% full with witch hazel, add a tiny drop of baby wash - whatever you use at bath time is fine, and then fill the bottle the rest of the way with water.  Gently shake the bottle before each use.  That's it.  (Side note: if you want to see a great Youtube video about making wipes and spray, check this one out.)
A lot of people seem to like keeping their wipes pre-soaked either with water or spray formula, or like to spray their wipe to saturate it before use.  I've found the best success personally by just setting the dry wipe on the changing table under my baby's bottom (to absorb over spray) and then spraying the wipe solution directly onto his skin.  Then I just lift him up and wipe.  He doesn't seem to mind this method, and it tends to get less messy / you use way less solution this way.  But ... personal preference.  Do whatever works for you.
Oh, and a word on witch hazel.  A lot of people balk when I say I use that, as they compare it in their head to rubbing alcohol and think it will sting on contact.  Witch hazel is a TOTALLY different product.  The reason I was OK with using witch hazel originally is because it was the soothing agent the hospital recommended for me after delivery.  But funny enough, I stumbled across this later and was even more sure I made the right choice.
Diaper pails, too, aren't specific to cloth diapering.  In fact, the pail I got to help with cloth diapering I'd actually recommend for disposables, too, since it fits a standard kitchen trash bag and will save you the ungodly expensive stupid diaper genie refills that cost you $5-7 each.  I actually got the above Dekor brand pail at Target Online, but it doesn't look like they carry it anymore, so I've liked to the Amazon offering instead. 
There are pluses and minus about this pail, so I don't particularly recommend it or not for cloth - but what I like most about it and why I picked it initially is it doesn't LOOK like a diaper pail.  That means if I want to repurpose this as a kitchen trash or something in the future, I can.  In case you're wondering, this fits about 2 days worth of cloth diapers and reusable wipes, which is actually perfect since it keeps me honest in my wash routine.


Now we're getting into something you DON'T need for disposable diapers: wet bags.  And let me tell you - there is a world of options when it comes to wet bags.  In the end, despite all the options, I simply recommend you have bags that work for each of the following situations:

- 2 bags that hold 2-4 diapers each for your diaper bag (allows for wash rotation)
- 2 bags that hold about 2-3 days worth for your home diaper pail
- if you think you'll do cloth at daycare, 3 bags that hold 6-10 diapers each (allows for wash rotation)
- if you think you'll do a weekend away from home with cloth, one large bag that zippers shut (keep that stank in!!)

Above are photo examples of what I have.  Regarding what I purchased, I have a few comments:

- Although they are more expensive, I do recommend the kanga wet bags for daycare (white w/rainbow dots above) - they're a great size.  Plus, they are a round cylinder shape, which makes them easier to get in/out of than a flat envelope style.  And as an added feature, the handle on the bag has a snap on it, which makes it easier to hang from a towel bar or similar.

- At first glance, the elasticized style I show above seems great for a diaper pail ... and then you need to get the diapers out and into the wash.  Let's put it this way: you just pushed a baby out - do you really want to push their dirty diapers out as well?  With the elastic edging, I've found that the bag opening is naturally narrower when the elastic relaxes, and often the diapers get stuck inside the bag when I go to dump them into my washer.  If you like the concept of a bag that cinches around the diaper pail, consider looking into a drawstring option that will let you cinch and then loosen when you dump to wash.

- Regarding colors/patterns on your wet bags: after buying a few that I thought would be "so cute" for the nursery, I realized something ... these grow with your kid.  From wet swimsuits to stinky sports clothes and all the in-betweens, you will likely use these bags for things other than dirty diapers in the future.  Knowing this, I now regret some of the baby-ish patterns I chose.  Consider instead just solid colors or patterns that your teen won't mind using in the future.

- If you are crafty and can sew, try going to a fabric store and buying supplies to make your own wet bags.  Many stores now carry PUL backed fabrics, so you might find you can save money by making your own bags.

Diaper Cream

Again, this is another thing that is neither disposable or cloth specific ... until you start talking about repelling.  Most main stream diaper creams are NOT good for cloth diapers, as they can essentially clog the pores of the fabric and cause cloth diapers to leak.

So far I haven't had to deal much with rashes (knock on wood), but I have tested out one recommended cream on a little red spot my baby had on his waist line - the above seemed to work well.  Whatever you decide to use, make sure you do some research first to make sure it's cloth compatible. 


So that's about it.  The above summarizes pretty much all the basic accessories you need for cloth diapering.  From a cost perspective, if you're keeping tally on what cloth diapering costs versus disposable, essentially the only thing you'd need to buy differently is wet bags.  Wipes, cream and diaper pails are a wash, since you'd use them with both cloth and disposable (though on the plus side for cloth - you won't need to buy throw away wipes or trash bags since you'd be reusing the above cloth versions instead ... so technically, you're saving more money there too). 

Depending on what you buy for wet bags, cost can vary quite a bit, but here's what I spent:

2 wet bags for your diaper bag - free with Baby Goal 12 pack of diapers
2 wet bags for your home diaper pail - $12.99 each

3 wet bags for daycare - $18.99 each (received as a gifts, so technically free)
1 wet bag for weekends away that zippers shut - $14.50

Recalling where we landed cost wise last time - just on cloth diapers:

My total cost to test out cloth diapering and then invest in a stash of the style I preferred was under $450 ... or about 3 months +/- worth of disposable diapers.  (Of course you could get this down to $200-300 if you eliminated some of the unnecessary buying I did).

Adding in the above wet bag purchases, the new total cost for my exact cloth diaper and wet bag stash is about $525.  Still well below the 6 month cost of disposable diapers, and I've even eliminated the cost of wipes and diaper genie trash bags as well!

Of course $525 still doesn't factor in the cost of washing (which I'll talk about in a few days).  But even if you throw in $50-75 for a year's worth of water and soap, rounding your overall investment up to the equivalent of about 6 months worth of disposable diapers, a cloth diaper set up still seems like a no brainer versus paying for at least 2-3 years of disposable diapers and wipes. 

But more on washing and final cost reviews later.  For today, we'll call it.  More to come!


So ... what do you think?  Would you be interested in adding cloth wipes to your diaper routine given the above?  What are your favorite wet bag styles?  Feel free to comment below.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Yeah I Cloth Diaper - Part 1: My Stash

As I mentioned in a post over a week ago, I've been a little busy in these last 3-4 months.

Before I get too far, two things:

(1) Yes, I know the below is not health or fitness related.
(2) No, I'm not going to turn this website into a baby blog.

Ok, with that being said, let's move on...

FYI - This will be post 1 of 3 in regards to cloth diapering.  Today's topic is the range of diapers I tried and what I use for my regular daily rotation (or what most cloth diaper fans refer to as their "stash").  Stay tuned for a future post about cloth diapering accessories, and a final post about cloth diaper washing routines and a discussion about the "real" cost to cloth diaper versus disposables.


You know from time to time I post non health or fitness related topics on my blog.  And you've also seen me post blogs about home canning, sewing costumes, and even booking my own tour of Europe.  So I suppose it goes without saying that I'm kind of a do it yourself type, with a tendency to want to make things from scratch or try for traditional/old fashioned methodologies of "gettin' 'er done".

Would you be surprised to know, then, that I applied this way of "do it your-self-ing" to raising my child as well?  Or, more specifically, would it surprise you to know that I've decided to use cloth diapers?

I know.  You probably think I've gone off the deep end.  A lot of people give me the side eye when I say we cloth diaper.  Well - except for the select few who do it themselves and are in on the secret: CLOTH DIAPERING TODAY IS SUPER EASY!

Here's why:  adjustable size pocket diapers


Now, I'm not going to get all crazy in this post and be like "ONLY CLOTH DIAPER - ROARRR!!!".  And I'm not trying to endorse any particular style or brand of cloth diaper.  What I'm talking about today is simply an outline of what I tried and what worked for me.  If you like a more expensive name brand diaper, or you prefer to do 100% organic materials, or you even think diapers in general are wasteful and want to practice a diaper free lifestyle with elimination communication (yes, that is a thing) - you do you.

While you do you - Imma do me.  OK?  Let's go.

NOTE:  click on the title of each section if you want a direct link to where I purchased each item.


To begin, I have to say, I had a little help being pushed over the edge on cloth diapering.  Although I had been considering cloth diapers, I didn't really think I'd do it until:

- I received a Bububibi PUL shell from my sister
- I received a 6 pk LBB pocket set from a friend
- I ran out of all the "free" disposables I received as shower gifts
- I found out two other people in my neighborhood / peer network were also doing cloth diapering

Then, it was like magic.  One day, the above four points came together, and I found myself at an impasse.  Either (A) I needed to ante up tons of dough to buy MORE disposables, or (B) I could test the waters with the cloth diapers I had received as gifts and give it a go.

Since option B was free, and I knew others were doing it and surviving ...

Cloth diapering it was!

The first few days of cloth diapering took a little adjusting.  At times I'd realize the hard way that I had either not tightened the diaper enough or that I was the proud parent of what many cloth diaper fans call a "heavy wetter".  Eventually, after trial and error, I ended up with my favorites. 

Here's a comprehensive list of what I tried, and where my favorites landed.


Pocket Diapers - My Preferred Cloth Diaper Option

Though I did try a range of cloth diaper options, as you will see outlined below, my ultimate favorite style ended up being the pocket style diaper (as you saw in the photos above).  Here are the brands that I tried/own/recommend:

LBB 6 pack with microfiber inserts


This was the set that I was gifted at a "gym friends" shower.  You'll notice I mention a few other brand names below, but LBB is pretty much exactly the same as Baby Goal, Alva Baby or other similar snap to fit pocket style diapers with a single leg gusset.  Considering this set is fairly gender and color neutral, only costs $35.99, and qualifies for Amazon Prime - it's a nice yet cheap way to test out cloth diapering and see if it's for you.  A set like this will get you more or less through a day of cloth diaper testing, but you'll need more diapers before night fall, especially if your child is a heavier wetter (microfiber is apparently notorious for requiring additional inserts in the diaper for kids who officially sleep through the night and need a more absorbent diaper solution).

Baby Goal  12 pack with charcoal bamboo inserts

After testing out the LBB set above, I did some research and discovered that charcoal bamboo inserts help prevent leaks due to having a "heavy wetting" child.  They also naturally combat some of the smells that ... naturally come from a diaper.  LOL!  (Thanks anti-microbial, ultra absorbent bamboo!)  In talking with a neighborhood friend, I was recommended to try out Baby Goal.  Since their 12 pack set came with charcoal bamboo inserts, a free wet bag and reusable wipes, I decided to go for broke and ordered 2 dozen.  I liked them well enough that when it came time to prepare for daycare, I ordered a third dozen from them.

Alva Baby

Once I became a full on cloth diaper addict, I realized I wanted a few "new" diapers now and then (yes, they have become a fashion accessory in this house now).  Since Alva is factory direct, you can order by the individual diaper, which appeals to someone like me who doesn't need another full dozen diapers and just wants the occasional fun, new print.  Having a few Alvas in circulation now, I have to say they are definitely the best quality of all the pocket diapers I own, and I would recommend them over both the LBB and Baby Goal options above.  Just be aware - these don't always come with the charcoal bamboo insert, so you may need to order replacement inserts if that's what you prefer.  Also, they run a hair larger than the LBB or Baby Goal brand, but just barely so.


Pocket Diaper Supplements

Sometimes you may find that you need a secondary liner in your pocket diaper, especially if your child sleeps through the night and is wearing their cloth diaper for longer than 2-4 hours at a time.  Here are the styles that I tried/own/recommend:

Zorb Inserts & Hemp Doublers & Replacement Inserts


These are my go to backups for leaking diapers.  A charcoal bamboo Baby Goal diaper paired with a zorb works wonders for overnights, and a basic white microfiber LBB diaper paired with a hemp doubler is fantastic for daytime use.  I highly recommend keeping some of each of these in your stash to supplement your single insert diapers.  And if you have a basic white microfiber insert but just want to replace it with bamboo, go for it!


PUL Shells With Liners

In addition to trying out the above pocket diapers, I also tested out the more traditional "plastic outer and fabric inner" diaper solution.  Think old school style trifolds with pins:

Of course, this style of diapering has a modern update to it, which you'll see below.  Here are the brands that I tried/own:



You can probably guess why I ended up with the shell above.  Here's a hint.  Thanks to my sister, this was the first ever cloth diaper I owned.  Technically, the above is just a shell, so I had to buy some inserts to use with it (see the PUL shell insert and prefold info below).  These run a bit on the larger side and have a double leg gusset, which caused me initially to have issues with leaking out the leg holes.  With the leaking, this style became less of a favorite, and that's why I settled for the pockets above - not to mention these overall cost more than the pockets.  But - now as my boy is growing, I actually like these better because they're easier to put together and take apart.  Ah well, since I already have a full stash of pockets, I just use the few of these I have as a supplement.

PUL shell insert

These Best Bottom inserts have a snap at the front and back of the cloth pad, which secure them right into the Bububibi shell.  They come in various size and material options, but I settled for the medium sized stay dry version since I figured I could make those work the longest (size wise).  After some initial leaking issues, I eventually realized how to properly adjust these diapers to fit and now really like this set up - but as I mentioned above, most of my stash is not this style.

Basic Prefold

You can buy basic cotton prefolds pretty much anywhere, so I'm not going to specify a brand or link to a product here.  What I will say is that during my leaking issues, I actually found that I preferred prefolds, folded in the angel wing method, with the above Bububibi shell on the outside.  Yes - the tried and true, ancient cloth diaper method.  From a cost perspective, prefolds are actually the most affordable way to cloth diaper (fancy PUL shells aside), are the easiest to keep clean since they are a natural fiber, and they really aren't that difficult to use.  In fact, I did debate just going this route ... but in the end I decided to stick with the pockets since they would be easier for daycare (and others, like my husband) to use.



Along with the cotton prefold above, I also bought a pack of Snappis.  These are the modern day version of diaper pins.  See how to apply them in the prefold photo above.  Since I'm not using prefolds, I pretty much never use these now.  But, if I ever need to have them as a backup, I'm set.


So that's about it.  The above summarizes every style of cloth diaper I tested out.  In the end, my diaper stash ended up being:

3 dozen Baby Goal Pocket Diapers - $79.99 per dozen
6 LBB Pocket Diapers - $35.99 (received as a gift, so technically free)
3 Alva Pocket Diapers - About $6 each

6 Baby Goal Replacement Charcoal Bamboo Inserts - $16.99
6 Hemp Doublers - $13.50
5 Zorb Inserts - $18.50

4 Bububibi Shells - About $8 each (received as gifts, so technically free)
6 Best Bottom Inserts - $11.85 per 3 pack
6 Basic Cotton Prefolds - Price varies by brand (received as a gift, so technically free)
5 Snappis - $12.99

If you were to add up all of the above, my total cost to test out cloth diapering and then invest in a stash of the style I preferred was under $450 ... or about 3 months +/- worth of disposable diapers.  Considering, though, that I didn't technically NEED the Alva diapers, received several of the above items as gifts, and could have easily eliminated the Bububibi items and accompanying inserts/snappis ... a decent cloth diapering stash that you could live off of would cost closer to the $300 mark.  You could even get that down below $200 if you only ordered two dozen of the Baby Goal diapers, which would be plenty for an at home stash ... but I say $300 in the event that you want to cloth diaper at daycare too.

Of course $300 doesn't factor in the costs of additional accessories (which I'll talk about next) and washing (which I'll talk about in a few days).  But even if you throw those costs in and round your overall investment up to the equivalent of about 6 months worth of disposable diapers, a cloth diaper set up kind of seems like a no brainer versus paying for at least 2-3 years of disposable diapers.  And that doesn't even factor in the added benefits of less garbage to the landfill, less chemical exposure to your child, etc, etc, etc.

But more on those topics later.  For today, we'll call it.  More to come!


So ... what do you think?  Would you be interested in cloth diapering given the above?  What are your favorite brands?  Feel free to comment below.