Thursday, March 16, 2017

Breastfeeding Fun

OK.  Real talk time.  I haven't said much about my post pregnancy body and fitness lately, aside from a casual mention here or there that I've been going to the gym.  So here's the real scoop.

Breastfeeding is slowing me down on my fitness goals and post baby weight loss. 

That might seem like an excuse that I can work around, and on some level it is, but here's the truth:  after pumping 3-4 times a day (at about 30 minutes per sesson, once you factor in washing off pump parts afterwards and the like), I don't have a lot of spare time for me.  And what little time I do get, I kind of just want to enjoy ... via sitting ... on my still somewhat fat ass. 

Just to illustrate, and not to bitch, my typical daily schedule right now is:

5:45-6:15am (depending on baby) - wake up and breastfeed
6:15-30ish - change baby, let him play on his own while I pump off any excess supply
7ish - husband takes baby to daycare, I finally get to shower and prepare for work
8:30 - assuming it's a good day and my son behaves in the above timeline, I make it to work on time
12:00 - also assuming it's a good day, I might get in a short mid day workout
Post work - get home, feed baby dinner, get him in bed, do whatever clean-up required from his day (fun fact, he likes to wet out of his diapers at daycare, sometimes multiple times a day, so often this time is filled with washing backup clothing to bring back to daycare the next day, dirty bottles, dirty diapers, and packing tomorrow's lunch)
6-7ish - dinner time, AKA the first time I get to sit down since I got home from work
Post dinner - since my husband cooks, I clean up after and change over laundry/etc., which is easily another 30 minutes on my feet
7-8ish - finally, me time, so I sit on the couch ... only to begin in just a few moments ...
8-9ish - pumping one last time before bed
10pm - if I'm lucky and it's a good day, I get to lay down for bed ... assuming I am not too wound up, I might actually fall asleep before midnight LOL!

As you can see in the above schedule, there's not a lot of time for me.  Or sleep, really.  Not to mention working out.  Which means I still have about 15 pounds of pure fat that I need to burn off, maybe even more, since I'm sure I have lost some muscle tone in the last few months due to my reduced workout regimen. 

This all translates into a very simple statement: I'm not thrilled with what my body looks like right now, particularly my midsection. 

Plus, I am carrying some guilt for not taking care of my body better, as it feels like I'm letting myself lose all the progress I made towards a healthy lifestyle 5/6 years ago.  Then, add in even more guilt from the diabetic aspect of it, as I KNOW I need to be healthier to reduce my risk of developing type 2 down the road.

But here's where I'm at.

Yep.  That graphic pretty much sums up how I feel.

I'm not trying to put this huge pressure on myself right now to be all fit and lean again.  I have to look at things realistically.  For example, technically right now I weigh exactly what I was pre-baby, so I have lost all the pregnancy weight.  The excess weight I carrying today I mostly put on after my previous pregnancy and miscarriage, which was over 2 years ago now. 

I'm pointing this out because I often tell other people "it took you X years to gain the weight - it's going to take you awhile to lose it, too".  I mean, if I tell other people that kind of advice, I'd be a bit of a hypocrite to not take it to heart myself, right?

Ok, so let's pause here for a second.

What's my point on the above?  Because it seems like this post is basically a woe is me rant, and that's not really my goal.

Where I'm going is actually more of a ... hm.  I'm not sure what to call it.  Not really a celebration, or a light at the end of the tunnel, because that makes it sound like I'm looking forward to this, and that's not really the case so much as ... it's a ...

Milestone.  That's a good word.

I'm about to hit a major milestone.  My son is turning one in April. This is a big turning point, as it's when a child can begin drinking cow's milk. 

I know this is kind of a sensitive topic, and I'm not looking for anyone's commentary on my life decisions.  What I will say is that after careful consideration with my doctor, and factoring in what feels right for me and my family, I have decided I am going to try to wean my son around the one year mark and transition him to store bought milk. 

This transition, when it is finally done, will give me at least two hours of my day back.  Not that those two hours are why I'm making this choice, but it is certainly a nice extra bonus after the fact. 

So obviously, my hope is that this extra time will allow me to start focusing on getting my body back in line again.  I plan on trying to use this time to work on myself through summer 2017 and get my weight back into what I consider an acceptable range for myself. 

And maybe I can start training again.  For what, I don't know, since I'm not really committing to anything yet until I see how this goes.  But I know personally I do best when I'm committed to an event that I'm training for.  So I'm sure I'll tie myself to something ... when I'm ready.

But wait, there's more!

Since I already touched on a controversial topic today with the whole weaning thing ...

Earlier this week, I saw a news story in Minnesota that just kind of made me shake my head.  It was in regards to some woman who was on jury duty for some major county in the twin cities, and was stuck reporting for service to a court house for (*gasp*) two days in a row, waiting to be vetted for a court case.  During that time, she had to pump, as she was still breastfeeding her child. 

Ok, so far, pretty boring stuff. 

The drama that made this story news worthy was that she wasn't allowed to leave to pump every two hours, and that she had to pump one time in a single stall restroom that had a locking door.


Now, don't get me wrong.  Breastfeeding your kid isn't an easy process.  I know the woes of trying to find a place to pump ... or feed my son, if he happens to be with me.  Not to mention the lack of understanding of this requirement to pump/breastfeed from the people around you.

For example, I particularly LOVE when I'm locked in the bathroom at work that's designated for pumping, which is 20-30 feet away from a second bathroom and just down a stairwell from a third ... and one of my younger female peers at the office bangs on the door and yells "shit" because I've been in there for 10 minutes and she needs to go.  (There are no shelves or storage areas in this bathroom where she might need to access something, and HR communicated the room's pumping designation to our staff, might I add).

I also LOVE getting questioned by a male peer about how I'm making up time at work, which he didn't flat out say was due to my pumping schedule but implied it (he, btw, has a 2+/- year old son at home, so he should know better).  The best part about him was he questioned me publically in a team meeting about the hours I'm putting in at work. 

What I wanted to say in response to him was "Sure, if you want to sit in a bathroom that smells like used menstrual products/feces and attach a machine to your chest that feels like it's ripping off your nipples, I will gladly sit at my desk engorged and leaking so that I can potentially answer a purchasing request that you may or may not have for me as a secondary (not even primary) buyer for your team.  Because, you know, taking a few minutes out of my day to pump has had zero impact on my performance for your group, as I have missed or delayed nothing since I came back from maternity leave, and I certainly want to spend my time pumping in a bathroom just so I can play on Facebook and avoid working.  If you simply agree to not fault me for my breast milk stains on my shirt post leaking, we'll call it a deal." 

What I actually said was "My boss is aware of my work schedule, if you have concerns about it you are welcome to speak with him."

But I digress.  Getting back to the story about the lady on jury duty, since this is about her and not me. 

Here's what I don't understand. 

Are you seriously that bent that you had to pump in a bathroom one time? 

I mean, I get it.  Bathrooms can be gross and pumping out food that your child is going to consume at some point isn't exactly appealing in such a setting.  But that's life.  There aren't always other rooms available that offer all the amenities you need in order to pump (IE a private room with a locking door, windows that don't look into room or at least offer shades that can be closed, a power outlet, and ideally a sink for parts washing post pumping). 

And technically, the milk you pump out nor your equipment, never touch anything "gross" anyway (assuming you have a couple of chairs to sit on/set your things on).  So aside from the fact that you might need to smell something unpleasant for a brief period of time, why get so bent?

I say the above knowing that sometimes things can get unpleasant.  I myself chose to fly to Boston to visit family when I was about 2 months postpartum, AKA a milky/leaky mess.  And during that experience, I had the special privilege of having to pump in a toilet stall of a large public bathroom at the airport; my pump bag at my feet and my bottles balanced in my pants - that were pulled down around my ankles as I didn't exactly want to sit on a self flushing toilet with my pants on. 

But you know what the key to the above scenario was?  I chose.  I chose to leave my house and live a normal life, yes.  Should someone else be forced to support me because I made that decision?  Debatable.

Sure, it would be nice to have breastfeeding/pumping stations everywhere I went.  But in the same fashion, I don't really want to pay a higher plane ticket cost / purchase cost on a dress / price per gallon for gas / or whatever for the convenience.  Realistically, adding these extra room(s) for women to pump cost money, and that cost will end up rolled up into whatever I pay for at said facility.

Now I know the exception to this is a work environment, where employers are required by law to provide these amenities (as they should), but again ... don't expect a lavish pumping suite.  Would I like something nicer at my office?  Sure.  But I also know we're a smaller size company with limited areas that can be utilized for pumping.  Not to mention, I had courtesy enough to tell my HR a bathroom is fine, since there's a second bathroom 20-30 feet away from the one where I pump and yet a third just a stairwell away ... whereas there are only two locking / private conference rooms in my office that need to be used by multiple staff members continually through the day, and are always at capacity, which I didn't want to exasperate even further ...

Ok, ok, back on point. 

Aside from the fact that this jury duty lady had to pump one time in a bathroom, her other bitch was that she needed to pump 4 times a day, and on her second day on duty she was limited to 2.  This is where I seriously WTF. 

Courtrooms are open like 6 hours a day.  (OK, that might be a tad sarcastic.) 

Even if this woman had to report for service from 8am to 5pm, which is normal office hours, pumping 4 times a day would mean she was pumping EVERY TWO HOURS.  I want to say nobody needs to pump that much, which could be wrong I admit.  Yet ... I know RNs who work 12 hour shifts and their employers give them grief for taking 2 pumping breaks, and that's with lunch being eaten during said breaks.

Speaking of lunch - jury duty lady needed 4 pumping breaks.  I guarantee you jury duty people are allowed lunch breaks mid day.  Don't you think she could squeeze at least one of those pumping breaks into that schedule?  I know I sure would have been able to manage that if I was in such desperate need to express my milk.

I'm sure they heard my eyes rolling in China after that statement.

And while we're on China, this post is getting so long that by the time you finish it, you will have scrolled the equivalent distance as would be required to dig to China, so I suppose I should wrap up.  I'll conclude this rant session by saying - American Women, yes ... we are disadvantaged.  Women as a whole are.  But stop whining about little things like pumping stations, and instead focus on taking action about getting your reproductive rights taken away, equal pay in the workplace, or any other MUCH MORE IMPORTANT issue than the fact that having to pump in a bathroom once in awhile is gross.

Complaining about stuff being icky ... just makes us sound even more like little girls.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Year of the Swim - Update #2

I mentioned about a month ago that I'm trying something new for 2017 and attempting the 100 Mile Swim Challenge.  Since I signed up late for that program, as it was basically already 3+ weeks in when I saw it  was offered at my new gym, I have been pushing pretty hard the last month to play catch up.

So, where do I stand?

Well - let's start with where I SHOULD be.  It's now the beginning of week 11 (for the calendar year), so if I was on track with a 2 mile a week execution up through last Saturday, I would have 20 miles complete.  Or by end of this week, while I'm swimming instead of drinking green beer for St. Patty's day, I should be at 22 miles.

Man I wish this pic didn't have a water mark on it.  LOL!

In reality, so far I have around 15 miles complete.  *sad clown whistle*  Which means I'm still roughly 5 miles behind.  And this is with me swimming at least 3 times a week, 1200-2000 meters at a time. 

It's a little frustrating to know I've pretty much tripled my usual weekly swim workouts and I'm hardly making up for lost time.  But I'm not trying to dwell on that, because the flip side (flip turn?) of that is I'm seeing huge gains in my swim performance.  In my last few swim sets, I've knocked out an "easy" 1500 swim in about 30 minutes, whereas in the past sometimes I wouldn't even hit that distance in a 45 minute, aggressive paced swim class.

Let's hear it for gains!

Aside from my physical improvements in swim, I've had a few fun adds as well.  As I mentioned in my last update, I have a handful of fancy new swimsuits from Funkita.  And as I hinted at in my Tri U Mah recap, I also have a fun new toy.

Well, technically two fun new toys now, as my second one just arrived last week.

In case you can't tell what the above two items are, that's an Apple iWatch 2 and a pair of Finis Duo waterproof headphones with MP3 player.

Now I have to admit - do you NEED any of this junk to swim?  No.  But it sure does make it more enjoyable for me.  Thanks to my fancy new watch, I don't have to fret over if I'm on lap 14 or 15 ... since I always seem to lose count and it pisses me off.  And I get fun pace reports like this:


And thanks to the Finis Duo, I have some fun tunes to listen to in the process.

I'm not to the point yet where I feel like I can do a full product review on either of these.  But so far ...

And in other news, since I'm swim obsessed right now, it's fun to read fitness related articles that justify my efforts.  Like this one that talks about gains you never even realize you're making:

"How you breathe during a swimming workout is another big differentiator, says David Tanner, a research associate at Indiana University and co-editor of an educational handbook on the science of swimming. During a run or bike ride, your breath tends to be shallow and your exhales forceful. “It’s the other way around with swimming,” says Tanner. “You breathe in quickly and deeply, and then let the air trickle out.” Because your head is under water when you swim, these breathing adjustments are vital, and they may improve the strength of your respiratory muscles, Tanner says. “This kind of breathing keeps the lung alveoli”—the millions of little balloon-like structures that inflate and deflate as your breathe—“from collapsing and sticking together.""
So that's about it from a swim update standpoint ... for now.  In the meantime ...


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Recipe: Delicious Side or Entree - Simple Stir Fried Bok Choy

Earlier this week I posted a collection of all my recipes ever mentioned on my blog, and I realized I never actually documented one of my favorite go-to fresh veggie stir fry options.  I really enjoy the simplicity and taste of this dish, and find it to be one of my favorite "throw anything in it and it works" dishes - tastes great with chicken and served over brown rice, or beef and noodles, or ... whatever, really.

So here it is!  Enjoy!


Simple Stir Fried Bok Choy



  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh minced ginger
  • 8 cups fresh bok choy
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add bok choy and soy sauce cook 3 to 5 minutes, until greens are wilted and stalks are crisp-tender.

If serving with a rice or noodle, or adding a protein to the dish, be sure these items are fully cooked prior to preparing the bok choy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Recipe Recap

It's been awhile since I've posted a recipe, and when I went to think about which recipe to post today, I realized ... I've never done a comprehensive listing of all the recipes I've featured on this blog.

So here it is - a collection of all the recipes I've posted thus far.  I've grouped them by offering to make more sense of them.



Breakfasts, Muffins, Etc.



Sandwiches and Snacks


Soups & Salads




Herb Crusted Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Apples and Dijon Dressing

Main Entrees







Bonus - How to use CSAs

This category isn't quite a step by step recipe option, but at least gives you some creative ideas on what to cook if you are signed up for a CSA in the Minnesota or Midwest area.  Ingredients in my CSA boxes varied each week, so I noted below what I had. 

One thing of note: I still like to reference the ginger and garlic bok (bock or pac) choi recipe I used during my CSA trial on a regular basis.  So delicious!

Week One
Kale, Panisse Head Lettuce, Pac Choi, Vitamin Greens, Cilantro, Summer Squash, Scallions, Kohlrabis, and Spinach

Week Two
Romaine Lettuces, Pac Choi, Broccoli, Radishes, Kohlrabi, Summer Squash (Pattypan, Zephyr, or Zukes), Red Scallions and/or Green Scallions, Collard Greens, Basil, Culinary Sage, and Spinach

Week Three
Napa Cabbage, Arcadia Broccoli, Cilantro, Parsley, Summercrisp Lettuces, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Summer Squash/Zukes, Cucumbers, Scallions and Fennel

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Tri U Mah 2017 (Dumpster Fire)

Tri U Mah (Timed Triathlon)
Swim, Bike, Run - 30 minutes per leg
Distance Covered, Indoors: 1350 yard swim, 8.6 mile bike, 2.24 mile run

I just have to start this race recap by stating a simple fact: it sucks being a woman. 

As if competing in Tri U Mah like this last year wasn't enough of a set back:


This year, I ended up having a super special 1 hour pre race start of "lady time".  Arrrrggghhhh WTF PITA #thissucks #youtrybeingawomanyoustupiddude.

Yes, I said it.  I don't even care that you know when my cycle is!  That's how annoyed I am that I went to Tri U Mah, and literally minutes before I was about to jump in the pool, had a disaster on my hands.

So there I was on race day, with the announcer in the pool area stating the swim will start in 5 minutes, and I'm playing damage control in the locker room.  Good times.  Nothing beats feeling like a 14 year old girl all over again.  Too bad I couldn't just tie a shirt around my waist and call it a day. 

I suppose it was only fitting to add the above mess to the guaranteed blow out that Tri U Mah #3 was bound to be for me.  In fact, several days in advance of gun time, my friend and I who do this every year together were jokingly calling this race:

Yeah.  So that pretty much hints at how much training we both put into making this race a success.

God, remember how much fun this race was two years ago?  LOL!  What happened?!  (kidding, kidding)

Man vs. Machine

Oh well.  After some massive locker room damage control and a total lack of organization of my gear due to the need to push/shove into a locker and lock up my crap to rush off to the pool, away I went. 




The one thing that stands out in my mind about Tri U Mah every year is the COLD temps of the pool.  That being said, I can say there was definitely one major win for 2017 - the pool was relatively warm by comparison.  Plus, I simply didn't have the time to build up pre-race anxiety about jumping into a pool where I couldn't touch bottom, so there's another bonus. 

With the flurry of disaster that was getting to the start of Tri U Mah, I was a little drained at gun time, and when you look at my watch recap you can see in the first 300 meters my pace showed it:

Yes, I'll talk more about this fancy watch recap stuff in a future post.  Don't worry.  For today, just enjoy the screen shots.

Fortunately, after 300 meters of swimming, I finally settled down into a happy swim pace and did fairly well (by my standards).  In fact, I ended the swim portion at a healthy 1350 meters, which by my quick estimation is in the upper 40-50% or better of the women racing in 2017, so I was pleased with that.  Especially knowing I am NO professional when it comes to swimming.

Of course, I know I could have done better had I pushed just a tad harder ... but what can you do?!

Regardless, 1350 was a 100 meter personal best over the previous two years of competing.  So although I was actually shooting for a 1400-1500 finish, I still netted an 8% total mileage increase over my previous personal best.  I guess the year of the swim is paying off, no?

By the way, I ended my swim actually about 30 seconds early.  I probably could have blasted out another 25 but I figured it wasn't really worth it.  Being that I had pretty much ZERO base training for a 1.5+ hour event, instead I decided to save my energy for the rest of the day.  That is one decision I have no regrets on.

So at 29 minutes and change, I hung out at the starting end of the pool and enjoyed a bit of rest.  Then, as soon as the buzzer sounded, I jumped out of the pool and headed to the locker room.  And for the first time in Tri U Mah history, I actually exercised good time management for my 10 minutes of changing time in T1 - despite just shoving all my gear into a locker pre-race, I still made it up to my bike with about a minute to spare.  Hooray!  No mid race seat adjustments as I pedal for 2017! 



New for 2017, the bikes for Tri U Mah were set up to do some sort of pace + resistance calculation to create your overall distance traveled at the end of 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, that formula was never really clearly explained, so I spent a good amount of time tinkering with my bike's resistance and cadence trying to figure out what this magic formula was.

Well, that and taking some blurry selfies, of course. 


After testing several bike intervals at various combos of resistance and cadence, I finally came to understand what the computer was telling me.  Of course, I had wasted over 15 minutes of the bike portion at that point.  Drat.  This was a real bummer for me - when I finally realized that the computer weighted your overall MPH with resistance factored in, it was much too late to make up lost miles. 

To clarify: I was confused on how they were calculating bike mileage in 2017 because in years past, biking was always a game of high cadence = high final mileage.  Since the race organizers for 2017 only said something to the tune of "this year, resistance will be a part of the equation", I never really knew what role resistance would play and how that would impact final mileage at the end of our ride. 

I eventually figured the formula out myself after I noticed the following: when I cranked my resistance down and kicked my cadence WAY up, my MPH would go from 18-20+ DOWN to 14 MPH or less.  Which obviously makes no sense. 

Ok - by now you might be shaking your head at me and calling me dumb.  In my defense, I didn't catch the MPH equation above for awhile because my main focus had been on my total miles traveled, not MPH.  It was only after I had completed 15 minutes of my ride and barely cleared 4 or so miles that I said  "WTF?  4 MILES?!  How the heck did I get 20+ miles in years past ... am I REALLY that far out of shape post baby?!"  That's when I realized how resistance weighted MPH.  D'oh.

Knowing what I do now, I wish pre race the organizers would have said something like "This year, the computer will create a weighted MPH that is based on your cadence + resistance per minute.  Keep in mind that a slightly slower cadence + a much higher resistance will actually give you an overall higher MPH output -versus- a faster cadence + a lesser resistance.  Plan your resistance and speed accordingly. "

Oh well.  You're always a pro when you're a Monday morning quarterback, right?  LOL!

Despite my calculation woes and low overall mileage, I was having a relatively good time at the race during the bike.  Of course, it was a drag to realize how out of shape I am post baby (and how tired I was feeling on the bike), but the volunteer staff at the race was a lot of fun this year.  And in particular, there is one guy who recognizes my friend and I because of our wacky InkNBurn outfits each year, so he always comes by to chat up my friend and check out our threads.  Anything to help pass the time, right?  Right!

Speaking of our favorite race day volunteer, how cute is he with this baby?!

Anyway!  In other positive news, it seemed like there was much better ventilation in the bike area for 2017.  That could be because I got lucky and was right in the line of a fan.  Or that could also be because I didn't have 30+ lbs of baby belly warming me up as I pedaled away, too.  Who knows.  Either way, a drop in temperature for 2017 was greatly appreciated.

Temperature aside, soon enough, our 30 minutes of biking was over. 

While I wasn't exactly pleased with my 8.6 mile end result, my friend reminded me "YOU JUST HAD A BABY.  Give yourself a break." 

OK, ok.  Yeah I know.  (Though I only really felt better re: this point once they published 2017 results, that's when I saw very few competitors even cleared the 10 mile mark, so obviously the cadence + resistance calculation slowed everyone down compared to years past.)




As per every year, we had a 5 minute transition from the bike to the run.  I used this time to change out of my bike cleats and put on my new pair of running shoes ... which, *ahem*, I purchased over a month ago with the intention to begin my 2017 run training, and promptly never did.

Yeah, yeah.  30 lashes with a wet noodle.

For 2017, I don't have much to say about the run portion.  Overall, my friend and I were slap happy at this point, so we were gleefully singing along to the PA system as they played Spice Girls.

The volunteers seemed equally slappy, being that the final heat of the day was on the bikes in front of us (which we could see through the windows that divided the treadmills from the bikes).  So as my friend and I jazz hands danced and yelled "spice up your life", the volunteers by the bike area cabbage patched back to us, did a few cartwheels, and even did a little team coordinated jig of sorts.

Hey - if you can't act like an idiot to help pass the time, what else are you going to do?!  (I'm pretty sure the guy on the treadmill to my left during the race just said "um, STFU, that's what you're going to do".  He didn't seem to appreciate our antics much.  Heh.)

Obviously, by the time we were running, we were SUPER SERIOUS about our performance at this race and were totally focused on KILLING IT on the treadmill.  I mean, what super elite runner doesn't track to a 13 minute mile?  LOL!

Who cares, when the final countdown completed, at least I could walk away from the race and say "I had a good time".

Footnote - obviously my watch needs a little treadmill running calibration.  But I do appreciate it padding me up to 2.52 miles instead of 2.24.  LOL!


After we finished our heat, I headed to the refreshments table (which I have to admit was in sad form for 2017 - it's obvious that they were not keeping that area well kept for the late heats), and my friend decided to test out the BodPod machine that was on display. 

Speaking of BodPod, I had seen this thing at the race in years past but never knew it was free for race day competitors to test out.  Damnit! 

Not wanting to know my body fat percentage post baby, I declined to get a scan this year.  But next year ... for sure!

Once the results were in for my friend's scan, we wrapped up our day with a victory photo:

And then, since by the above calculations I burned approximately 1 million calories (ok, ok - technically only about 1300 calories or less), after a quick shower we headed to our traditional post race meal at the Caspian ... where I promptly displayed my race day T.

(Photo of swag to be added later)



And that is the story of my first official race of 2017.  Here's to another race soon!!