Gifts

Saturday morning was cold and crisp, with a clear blue sky and glorious sun. It was colder than any of us would want for late March (come on, spring, where are you?) so my dad and I decided to take advantage of Mother Nature and go skiing. 

This is my first winter skiing in over 15 years. It was something I did with my parents and sister every winter when I was growing up but haven’t done at all as an adult. Now that Littleman is old enough and has started skiing lessons, I decided it was time to get back onto the slopes. 

I skied two other days this year and rented equipment both times. My old gear somehow disappeared from my parents’ basement over the years (and, anyway, would have been totally out-of-date). Today, I decided to try some demos in the hopes of buying new skis during the end-of-season sales. 

I tried four different pairs of skis and, I have to say, it felt amazing. First of all, I’d only skied on crappy rental skis so far this year. And then, there’s the new technology. I felt, at first, like the man was handing me kids skis because they were so short (I vaguely recall skiing on 175s or something in the past). As it turned out, the short skis felt so great. I was skiing really well. 

My dad and I spent a couple of hours skiing together at the nearly-empty ski hill near our farm. I guess people have given up on skiing for the season since it’s the end of March because we pretty much had the slopes to ourselves.  It felt wonderful to get some exercise and fresh air, without worrying about looking after the kids (they stayed at the farm with D and my mom). It also felt really good to spend some one-on-one time with my dad. We get to see my parents a lot when we all spend weekends together at the farm, but everyone’s focus is always on the kids. 

When I had finally chosen my favourite skis, my dad bought them for me. It was such a nice gift.  But thinking about it afterwards, I realized the real gift was getting to spend time with him.  As I get older and life gets busier, it’s more important than ever to make time for things like that. I hope that my renewed love for skiing gives us the opportunity to spend more time together and strengthen our relationship. I love my dad and I know how lucky we are to have him in our lives. 

Postpartum body update: one year in

As I scarf a rather large, white bagel with cream cheese, I thought it might be appropriate to take a look at my body and where I stand almost a year after giving birth.  As I mentioned a few months ago, I seemed to be struggling to get rid of the final 10 lbs after this pregnancy.  I had expected it to melt off while breastfeeding like it did with my first son, but, sadly, that wasn’t meant to be.  I decided not to let it get me down and, instead, continued to work out while still eating what I needed/wanted to sustain my milk production.

Here’s an update on what’s going on with my body these days:

Exercise

On top of my weekly mommy and baby fitness class, I took up running in the summer and ran my first 5K in the fall.  I (unexpectedly!) really enjoyed it and I know it’s something that I’d like to continue.  Unfortunately, the frigid winter weather has kept me from running outside for the past few months and I don’t have access to a treadmill, so I’ll have to start over again this spring.

I also haven’t been able to get nearly as much walking in as I was doing before.  In the summer and fall, I could get close to 20,000 steps per day on a good day and 12-15,000 on a bad day.  Now, a good day is 5,000.  It felt amazing to be in Florida and get out walking again.  This is something I’m going to have to make a point of doing when I go back to work.  Sitting at a desk all day is not good for me so I’ll need to be creative in order to get more daily steps.

Weight

I’m 5’6″ tall and my typical weight is around 135 lbs.  I seemed to get stuck at 140 for a while after Bo was born but I’m pleased to report that I hit 130.2 lbs this morning!  It will be interesting to see what happens once Bo is weaned.  He’s still nursing a fair bit, although it’s already slowing down this week with his longer days at daycare.  I don’t expect to lose any more and I know I’ll have to be careful to adjust my diet once he’s done breastfeeding.  I still crave sweets and carbs a lot but I won’t have Bo as an excuse to eat them as frequently much longer!

Birth control

In January, I finally bit the bullet and got an IUD inserted.  I regretted it almost immediately as it caused me to bleed for about six weeks.  I finally stopped bleeding about a week ago and hope that’s the end of that.  My OB said that it’s pretty normal for non-breastfeeding women to bleed for a couple of months after having it inserted but that it’s uncommon for nursing women.  I appear to be an exception to the rule.  Lucky me. Other than that, I haven’t noticed any other side effects to date.

I was totally certain because of all the bleeding, but I don’t think I’ve had an actual period yet.  I’m curious to see if/when I’ll get one and hope that it will be light and easy.

Breasts

I’m in that tricky phase where my breasts are either full and massive or empty and deflated.  Bo is going much longer between feeds right now so my body is still trying to adjust.  While my weight is down and I am fitting into my smaller clothes right now, my breasts still make me feel a bit awkward in my clothes.  I know this will likely get worse before it gets better because I refuse to buy any new bras until I’m totally finished breastfeeding.  This means that there will be some gaping or overflowage, depending on what bra I choose to wear.

So, there we go.  I’ll check in again after I’m back at work and no longer breastfeeding.

Winter activities

Today, my big kid seemed even bigger as we sent him off for his very first ski lesson!  Skiing is something that I grew up doing.  My parents put us in lessons when my sister and I were little (and they took lessons themselves at the same time) so it was something we always did as family during the winter.  D also skied (mainly cross country – he did competitive biathlon) so we knew that skiing would be a fun sport to do together as our kids got older.

We are lucky to have a small ski hill just minutes away from our family’s farm, where we spend most of our weekends and holidays.  They offer a three-day ski camp during the Christmas break, so we enrolled Littleman.  Today was the first day and he did great!  D, my dad and I bundled up and watched from the base of the hill.  After a few minutes near the bottom, they jumped on the chair lift and hit the (beginner) slopes!

I swear, I couldn’t stop smiling.  It was so, so cute.  And I was so proud of him.  He used to be so shy and would fight going off without us.  I knew he would love skiing, but wasn’t sure how he’d feel about being with the instructor.  No need to worry, though.  He was great.  He told them his name and then off he went, no looking back.  I think it helped that he did swimming and soccer lessons in the summer.  He definitely seemed much more mature today.

It’s been about 15 years since I’ve been on skis, so I’ve decided to sign myself up for a refresher lesson tomorrow.  We’ll see if I’m as brave as my kid.  I’m guessing not…

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I did it!

On Saturday morning, I ran my first 5K race.

Eight weeks ago, I’d never run before.  I started from scratch with the C25K program, using their iPhone app, and used Digifit to track my progress.

Starting out was tough.  Even running for just a minute was hard for me.  When my app would tell me to walk, I was super-relieved.  I couldn’t imagine how I was going to get to the point that I could run for five minutes straight, let alone 5 kilometres.

But, I kept at it.  I did my best to fit in three runs per week and, slowly, it started to get easier.

During my final week of training, I managed to run for 30 minutes straight after a five-minute warm-up walk.  I felt pretty good and knew that I would be able to run for the full 5K.

Race day arrived and the morning was a little bit hectic.  D was working, so my parents agreed to come help with the kids.  I loaded up the car with stroller, diaper bag and my running stuff.  Off we went.  The race was in a park pretty close to home, so the drive was quick.  Unfortunately,  parking close to the start line was limited and we had to drive pretty far to find a spot.  I ended up setting up the stroller for my mom so she and the kids could start walking.  Then my dad dropped me back at the start line before heading off to find a parking spot.  (I couldn’t handle the thought of walking a few kilometres before running 5K!)

I felt a little weird once my dad drove away.  I was on my own in a crowd of people. Loud music was blasting.  I had to pee so I stood in line for that.  Then I realized that, in my haste getting out of the car, I had forgotten to grab my running gloves.  Crap.  Oh well.  The weather was pretty decent so I could survive without them.

I started to wander around and then saw a familiar face walk by.  One of my work colleagues was there!  I caught up with her for a minute (hadn’t seen her since before Bo was born) and that totally helped calm me down.

My mom and boys made it to the start area at that point so I hung out with them for a couple of minutes until it was time to get ready to run.

The next part was probably the most nerve-wracking for me.  I said goodbye to my family and made my way to the start area.  I positioned myself in the “36 minutes +” area because I wasn’t really sure how long it would take me.  My goal was to do it in under 40 minutes (I’m not very fast) so I figured this was a good place to start.  I re-tied my shoelaces and got my phone strapped onto my arm.  I put in my earphones.  Someone called my name.  It was my fitness instructor – the woman who teaches my mommy and baby fitness class.  She is the one who convinced me to do this and I was happy to see her there.

All of a sudden the race was starting.  Off we went!  I was happy to be starting because, at this point, I kind of just wanted to get the whole thing over with!  This was the first time that I started off running without walking to warm up.  I wasn’t sure how that would impact the overall run for me, but my goal was to run the entire time so I just started off pretty slow.

The run itself was pretty uneventful.  Around the 2K point, I felt like I could probably go a bit faster so I sped up a bit.  Other than that, I just chugged along, listening to my music and looking at the scenery (the leaves were looking pretty beautiful in the park!)  It turned out to be a beautiful morning so I was very warm.  My hands were freezing (those damn gloves!) but I tried my best to ignored that.  The only part that really sucked was that I started to get a cramp with about 1/2 a kilometre left to go.  So annoying!  Luckily, I knew I was close to the finish and forced myself to keep running.  I really, really wanted to walk but I’m stubborn and forced myself to run the whole way.

I rounded the final corner and could see my mom and Bo on the sideline.  That definitely helped.  I waved to them and wondered where my dad and Littleman were.  Then I saw them up closer to the finish line.  That’s when I glanced up at the finish line and saw the clock.  34:45.  Eek!  If I booted it, I could finish in under 35 minutes.  Despite the cramp (and kind of feeling like I could barf!) I sprinted the final stretch and beat the clock.  Yeehaw!

My instructor had finished just ahead of me (she’s 4 months pregnant by the way… I am so impressed!) and she gave me a big hug.  Then we received our race medals together before I went to find my family.

My actual time was 34:24.  I feel good about that.  Actually, I feel good about the whole thing.  I know running 5K is not a big deal to a lot of people but I never, ever imagined that I would run at all, so completing this race feels great.  I didn’t start running until I was 36-years-old and after having two kids.  I’m proud that I was able to accomplish this on my own in 8 weeks.

I don’t know if I’ll do another organized run or if I’ll train for a longer distance.  I haven’t really thought that far ahead yet.  But, running has made me feel good and I’ve been enjoying the time out of the house by myself, so I think I’ll keep it up for as long as the weather allows.

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When Littleman saw my medal after the race, he asked, “did you win, Mommy?” I tried to explain the concept that everyone’s a winner. Since his only experience with medals is watching the Olympics, I don’t think he totally got it. That’s ok. I kind of felt like a winner, anyway!

Running check-in

I’m five weeks into my 5k training, so I figured it was time for a quick status update.

Aside from the fact that it’s very hard to find the time to run, it is going very well.  Today was my longest continuous run (with no walking).  20 straight minutes!  I’m pleased to say that it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be and, although I was very happy when the voice in my earphones told me to start my cool down, I probably could have run a bit further.

I’m pretty amazed that in just a few weeks, I’ve gone from feeling breathless and in pain after just a minute of jogging to being able to run for 20 minutes straight.  I guess that shows that these “learn-to-run” programs actually work!

That’s not to say that I don’t feel any pain.  I’m definitely starting to notice how hard it can be on your body.  I’ve tried really hard to be better at stretching after my runs and I think that has helped a bit.  But, on days that I’ve run (and usually also gone for a least one long walk with the stroller) I find that my legs and lower back are pretty sore.  A nice hot bath and some ibuprofen help a bit but it still sucks to feel pain.

I also did my first ever treadmill run last weekend.  I know, I know, I’m probably the only person on the planet who had never run on a treadmill before.  But why would I?  I hated running and the idea of running indoors in one spot just seemed ridiculous to me.  Anyway, we were visiting my sister this past weekend for my niece’s baptism and they have a treadmill in their basement.  Since the weather was crappy and cold, I decided to give it a try.  And guess what?  I didn’t hate it!  It took a bit of getting used to at first (I had a tendency to step too far forward in the beginning and was hitting the part where the belt comes out).  I also felt a little bit dizzy at the end when I first stepped off.   Other than that, it felt pretty good.  And the best part was the my body didn’t hurt nearly as much as running on the sidewalk.

My weight has finally dropped below 140lbs and I even saw 135.7 one day, which was a huge win.  135 is pretty normal for me, although I was probably closer to 130 in the time between pregnancies.  I think I would feel pretty good about myself if I could remain consistently at 135, but I also know that I’m probably going to struggle with that until I’m done breastfeeding.

So, all in all, the running is going well.  It’s been a bit of a struggle but I’ve managed to fit in three runs per week.  On top of that, I do an indoor exercise class twice a week (mostly weight training and core work with a little bit of cardio) and I go on a lot of walks.  I hope that I can continue to keep it all up as the weather gets colder but I know it will definitely be harder to motivate myself to go outside.

Run #4 and #5: digging my fitbit one

This week was tricky because of D’s work schedule, but I managed to squeeze in my fourth and fifth runs.  I tried taking an antihistamine before the runs to combat the itch I’ve been experiencing.  The first time, about 5 minutes into my run, I started feeling the itch around my mid-back.  It was as intense as the time before and I was able to ignore it.  My legs never got itchy, so that was a relief.  The second time, I didn’t experience any itchiness at all.  I’ll keep taking the antihistamines on run days to see if it’s actually helping or just a fluke.

My new favourite thing these days is my fitbit one!  I used the fitbit flex (the wrist version) from May until the end of August.  I really enjoyed it until I realized how many steps it wasn’t counting.  When I would go out for walks with my mom, who also had a flex, our step counts would be hugely different.  I realized pretty quickly that it was pushing the stroller that was interfering with the accuracy.

D finally convinced me to replace my flex with the fitbit one.  He was curious about the number of steps he was taking everyday, so he took my flex.  After a week of use, I can say that it is making a huge difference for me!  I used to struggle to hit 10,000 steps, even with walking a couple of hours a day.  Last week, on my third day of using it, I got 19,000.  And one day this week I got more than 21,000 steps!!  Both those days consisted of more than one walk and a run, but even on a “slow” day, I’m seeing many more steps captured.  I also really enjoy the fact that it counts stairs because I run up and down our stairs many times a day.

It’s funny how competitive I get with myself now that I have it.  I also get competitive with my (very few) friends who are also using fitbits.  (Haha, I had to type that word five times before it stopped autocorrecting to “titbits!”)  I love seeing myself at the top of the leaderboard and I get extra-annoyed when my husband starts catching up to me.  It’s funny how much this little gadget can push me to move more.

So, it appears that I’ve pretty much survived my first two weeks of running training.  Aside from some minor muscle aches, I’m feeling pretty good.  My next goal is to work harder at stretching.  I’m a terrible stretcher and my muscles are always tight.  My flexibility sucks.  I know that stretching is super important and I don’t want to end up injuring myself so I need to commit to doing this.  Starting tomorrow, I swear.

Run #3: a minor complication

I took a break from exercising on Saturday, so it was time for run number three yesterday.  It was a beautiful Sunday morning.  I got Bo down for his morning nap and left Littleman and D at home, cleaning up toys.

The weather was perfect.  After a couple of days of extreme heat (in fact, I think it was the hottest temperatures we’ve had all summer!), things had cooled down.  The sky was blue, without a cloud in sight.  Lovely.

Armed with my new favourite app telling me what to do and listening to some 90s classics on my iPhone (what better way to spend a Sunday morning than rocking out to G’N’R and Violent Femmes?), I headed out on the last run of my first week of training to run 5K.

It was going well.  I felt pretty good.  No longer do I look at my watch all the time.  A minute of running really does go by a lot quicker than I expect.  I was feeling pretty proud of myself and enjoying the knowledge that I could run longer than a minute if I really wanted to.  My app announced that I was halfway through my run.  Great!

Then, a familiar feeling started to creep in.  Itch…

As long as I can remember, I’ve had an issue where my legs will start itching when I’m out for a particularly long or vigorous walk.  It usually starts on the front of my thighs and then works its way towards my butt.  It’s terribly distracting and scratching it makes it worse.  Often, I’m dying to get home so I can drop my drawers and scratch away, resulting in me looking like I’ve been mauled by a werewolf.

It’s interesting because I’ve walked a ton this summer (with the stroller) and haven’t had this issue.  I exercise indoors and don’t have this issue. But, for some reason, running has caused the problem to resurface.

Since I was near the end of my run when it started yesterday, I did my best to ignore it and made it home without tearing my thighs to shreds.  Last night, I spent some time on the internet, trying to figure out what the hell is going on.  It seems that I am not alone in suffering from this “runner’s itch”.  There are a bunch of theories out there – allergies, dry skin, something about being unfit and capillaries expanding – but none of that made a lot of sense to me, knowing my own situation and fitness level.  Then I came across some info about histamine being released by the body during exercise to combat against exercise-induced fatigue.  Some people suggest taking an antihistamine prior to running.  I have no idea if that will actually work, but it can’t hurt to try.  I don’t think I can tolerate the itch on an ongoing basis and it will certainly make running a 5K race pretty miserable.  I don’t want something stupid like itchiness to make me give up on my goal of running, but it would make me crazy if I have to put up with it all the time.

Has anyone else dealt with this?  Any suggestions?