Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Optical Illusions

This Summer I wanted an arsenal of fun and engaging things for my 7 year old to do when those two words left his mouth, "I'm bored..." One of our new favorite things is our Optical Illusions kit from The Crazy Scientist Lab at The Purple Cow. My kiddo LOVES making things and experiments so I knew immediately that this would be a great kit for him!

It's packaged in a reusable tin box, which I love, because it keeps all of the contents nice and neat. Inside are an instruction booklet and the materials to preform over a dozen experiments. 

Last week we did two experiments together. We made a "jumping ball" - a ball that when colored literally looked like it was moving, and a trickery "Magic Piggy Bank" with disappearing money and all! 

All of the instructions were easy to understand and the experiences were so much fun to do together!

This is a great kit to have on hand for those times when you want to engage with your kid and do something creative together, but it's nice because all of the materials and instructions are right there. It doesn't make a big mess, and the end result of figuring out the experiment and creating something special together are the best reward.

The Crazy Scientist has several other kits that sound just as fun! They have experiment kids with projects about magnets, bubble & foam, and even the 5 senses! A great thing to have on hand to beat Summer boredom and have a blast connecting with your kids!

DHA While Breastfeeding

Ever since I found out I was pregnant with Taylor, I put my health on the forefront. I wanted to be the healthiest I could, because I knew everything I did to my body would have an effect on her. Now that she's nearing 8 months old, I still try to take care of myself as best as I can with healthy eating and exercise habits because I know that she will reap the benefits too, especially since I am breastfeeding her.

I was very excited to partner with Fit Approach to take an at home Breast Milk DHA Kit from Everly Well. They provide health and wellness tests for many different concerns such as thyroid, metabolism, and even food sensitivities. I love that they help people feel empowered to make health and lifestyle changes.

Why is it important to be aware of my DHA levels? DHA is a vital Omega 3 Fatty Acid for a baby's health as they grow for the first 2 years of their life, It's directly linked to cognitive development and visual activity in babies. 

Breast Milk is a near perfect mix of vitamins, fats, proteins and nutrients for babies. The benefits are numerous! I feel like measuring the DHA levels in my milk can let me know if me supply is ideal for Taylor's best development and if not, I can modify my diet to make it ideal. 

The test couldn't have been any easier. All that was required was a couple drops of breast milk collected onto the included sample card. They made sure to specify that you take the test first thing in the morning BEFORE you take any supplements (including any DHA). No doctors or lab visits! They even included the box and mailing envelope to send back the collection sample. Shipping was free both ways and very easy to understand results were accessible online within a week!

I got an email about a week after sending in my sample with my results. All of Everly Well's tests are authorized by a board certified physician. The results are then reviewed and approved by that same physician. These are results you can trust.

I was saddened to see that my results were a little less than stellar. My DHA levels were at .19% which put me in the elevated risk category. Everly Well suggested that I try to modify my diet to include more fatty fish like salmon, tuna, cod, and halibut and eat more eggs. I also supplement daily with a Prenatal DHA pill, that I have taken since I was pregnant and will continue to taker as long as I am breastfeeding. I'm confident that with these actions, and being more aware, I will be able to pull up my DHA levels.

If you'd like to take the Breast Milk DHA test from Everly Well please use my discount code (GOFAST15). You'll save 15% AND be more knowledgeable about what nutrients you're passing along to your baby in your milk!

Monday, May 22, 2017

World Turtle Day!

Is there anything cuter than little baby turtles making their way to the ocean?

No, except maybe my kiddos (I am a proud mama after all!)

 I wanted to celebrate the 17th annual World Turtle Day which is May 23rd with my kiddos with the help of some little turtle toys!

These cute little Smart Splash Shape Shell Turtles are from Learning Resources. Since they float, I thought it would be fun to take our lesson outside since it's already very warm here in Arizona. Big brother was able to show his sister what the different colors and shapes were and how they fit together. Meanwhile, I was able to tell them both about the turtles and the great lengths we are taking to conserve them (did you know that only 1 in 1000-10000 sea turtles will make it to adulthood?)

The Smart Splash Shape Shell Turtles are a fun toy to play with in or out of the water and helps teach colors, shapes, matching, and sorting. They are easy to grip with small hands and quickly have become one of my daughters new favorite toys!

Speaking of favorite toys, my son lately has been loving his new Play Foam from Educational Insights. It's super fun, squishy, colorful, mold-able foam that never dries out or makes a mess (which I love!) Last week my son made me an "Ice Cream Cone" out of his Play Foam - of course I requested 2 scoops!

What are some toys you or your kiddos have been loving lately?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Support is Crucial for Pregnancy and Postpartum Fitness

I was lucky enough to have a super healthy pregnancy - I ran over 1000 miles while carrying my baby girl. I also bounced back pretty quickly too and recently PR'd at a half marathon that I ran at 6 months postpartum with a time of 1:46:35.

So, I  often get asked - "How can I have a fit pregnancy and be able to jump back into fitness again after having my baby?" It all boils down to SUPPORT, Having the support from your doctor, your spouse, and from your clothing and footwear will make ALL of the difference.

Of course you never want to begin any pre- or postnatal exercise program without the okay from your doctor. The benefits of exercising during pregnancy are tremendous, but still you want to speak with your doctor and get their approval on your workouts. Do what you can everyday. Many people have trouble exercising in the first trimester because of nausea or extreme fatigue (or both!) but typically that subsides and your energy will return around weeks 13-14, take advantage of this! There are certain exercise modifications as you and your baby belly grow that you'll want to be aware of as well.

The standard time frame to wait before starting any postpartum exercise routine is 6-8 weeks, after having your checkup with your doctor. Think of that time period as your bodies healing phase and remember that often rest really is best. When I started up with my postpartum running routine, I did so around 4 weeks, but soon learned that that was way too soon and stopped. I resumed training around 8 weeks, and always took 1 (or usually 2) days off in between running days. Allow your body to rest and I promise you that long term, it will pay off.

Having a supportive spouse is essential to any successful fitness routine. I believe that any successful marriage and parenthood is a true team effort and having a spouse that supports your fitness endeavors is important. I am a morning person and prefer to be the first one up in the house so I can have a little quiet time and then get my run in, typically returning while everyone is still asleep. My hubbie is happy to get up if one (or both!) of the kiddos wake up early that morning while I'm out. In turn, I take over kid watching duties later in the evening so he can go for his run or bike ride. Find a schedule that works for both you and your spouse and you'll both be happy and more fit!

The third element to any successful pregnancy or postpartum fitness routine is having supportive clothing. Investing in good quality, supportive active wear is such a key component to a successful pregnant and postpartum fitness routine.

I recently got to try out a couple of pieces from the Spring Maternity line from Figure 8 Maternity and I LOVE them! They are actually made for all stages of pregnancy and postpartum so they can accommodate a growing bump and then keep you supported when you resume your postpartum workouts as well.

The Caily Energy Maternity and Nursing Tank is not only adorable, but super multi-functional as well. I loved the classic black styling and slim double straps, that perfectly showcased the pop of pink from the built in bra. The bra was super comfy and supportive and the material of the tank was an elasticized fabric (poly/elastane) that gave it so much stretch, without being baggy or frumpy, so I have no doubts that this could be a tank that you could wear for your entire pregnancy, and then comfortable continue using postpartum because it is also-super breastfeeding-friendly too!

I was also excited to try the Caily Energy Maternity and Postpartum Exercise Crop Pants because I basically LIVE in crops and these did not disappoint! They were super flattering on and hit at the mid-calf (which I always think is the most flattering cut for a crop). They matched the Caily Energy Tank perfectly in a nice shade of black and were not sheer at all when bending over or squatting (so important!) My favorite feature on these though is the waistband. They are made with a super soft and supportive adjustable waistband that can comfortably be worn high snugly hug your growing bump, or folded down low, postpartum to still give you the extra support that you'll want. These crops are a MUST for any mama, but I think my c-section mamas will really really love these for pregnancy, postpartum and beyond! You WILL workout more often if you have clothing that fits your body, supports, it, and makes you feel GOOD.

Also, please remember that pregnancy affects everyone so differently, It's so hard not to compare yourself to another pregnant or postpartum runner, in real life or on social media, but really that does no one any good. Just like no two bodies are the same, no two pregnancies are the same either, Some people are able to remain active throughout their entire pregnancies, gain minimal weight, and bounce back shortly after giving birth. Other's don't. Most other's don't actually, and that's a-okay. Growing a child and becoming a mother is a miracle in itself and such an incredible blessing. All we can do is listen to our bodies and doctors, and try to be active when possible, eat fairly healthy, be good to ourselves, and most importantly, enjoy this time with our sweet babies. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Doodle a Droodle aka How to Have the BEST Night in with your 7 Year Old

We have been in the middle of a move and I feel like I haven't been able to give my 7 year old the attention that he needs lately. I so desperately wanted to spend quality time with him but I felt so pulled in other directions on things tat I really NEEDED to do (pack, coordinate, clean and take care of his baby sister too). He's a pretty independent little guy and I think sometimes I take that for granted and just let him play quietly on his own while I attend to other activities.

Last week his stepdad (Adam) wanted to take him to an evening sports event that ended up starting at 7:30 so I told him NO at the last minute (I'm a HUGE stickler for bedtimes on school nights.) I decided to make it a fun night with just us to make up for everything.

We made burrito bowls and I had him help cut up the veggies to help. Like most households dinner prep time is super busy and I've been having him help me during that time. He actually likes to help and asks to help and I think its a great way for us to sneak in some time together.

After eating we snuck in a quick backyard game of soccer and then we got to play our new game Doodle a Droodle that came in the mail from our friends at The Purple Cow. This game was SUPER fun!! You pick a "droodle" card which is just a card with a little abstract line drawing on it. You place the droodle in the middle of a white board and must draw a picture around the droodle, to incorporate it in. The other person then guesses what you draw!

Super simple and for sure made us giggle. "Mom, you'll never guess what this is!" Me: "Is it a belt, your uncle. a monster?" Him, giggling "Noooo. I'll give you a hint. It's a guy, that dresses in red around Christmastime..."

I loved that it was super quick and easy to just play a few rounds if that is all you have time for, and really for kiddos, sometimes all they need is a few rounds of a game with their mama to make them feel extra special.

We ended out night with a fancy piece of mint chocolate from a local candy maker (it was amazing) , bath time, and then we all piled in his room for bedtime stories. He ended up telling me that that was his favorite night and he has so much fun. A few days later I found this note in his backpack, so I think I did good :) #CoolMom

 If you'd like to purchase your own Doodle a Droodle, you can find it HERE.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

An Active New Mamas BFF - Click Active

As an active new mama I love my protein powder almost as much as I love my coffee! Seriously, the two things I grab first when coming back from my early morning runs are my coffee and then my protein powder to energize and refuel my muscles with some quick nutrition. I was super excited to try Click Active - which is an all-in-one coffee and protein drink mix. A mix that would give me the great coffee rush and flavor I craved while also providing me with 25 grams of muscle building, body slimming protein?! I was sold!

I was very impressed with the taste as well as the clean ingredients in Click Active. It has that yummy coffee house flavor that every mama like me craves with 150 mg of caffeine per serving and also contains glutamine and BCAA's which are very popular in the fitness world right now. These two additives help to maximize protein synthesis, muscle recovery, increase endurance during workouts, and help to reduce body fat. Umm, sold, sold, sold, and soooold.

I'm excited to use Click Active as my post-workout recovery and reach all of my fitness goals this summer!

Speaking of Summer goals, I've been loving this no equipment needed, at home,  total body sequence lately. I do each move for one minute (move #3 I do one minute per leg) to total 5 minutes for each set. Rest of 30-60 seconds in between sets and try to do 3-4 for a super effective total body toner. Let me know if you try it and like it!

1. Plank with Alternating Shoulder Tap
From plank position, reach up and touch your opposite hand to shoulder. Switch sides for one minute.

2. Squat with Side Leg Raise
Squat down and as you stand back up, raise one leg out to side. Alternate sides for one minute.

3. Alternating Forward and Backwards Lunge
Lunge forward with your left leg and then immediately bring that same leg back into a back lunge without resting it on the ground. Continue with this same leg for one minute before switching and doing the forward/backward lunge combo on the other leg for another minute.

4. Plank with Leg Cross Overs
From plank position, lift right leg slightly and cross it over the left leg to tap it on the ground and return to start position. Then immediately lift left leg slightly and cross it over the right, tap on ground and return to start position. Continue alternating leg cross overs for one minute.

Grilling with my Homies (Grill Mat Review)

Have you seen the commercials for the new Grill Mats? We did and my hubbie remarked "Well those would be great if they really worked!" So we purchased them and used them last night while BBQing and put them through the test for you all!

A little background, these are Teflon, non-stick mats made to go on your grill. They are advertised as a clean grilling surface (no more BBQ scrub brushes!) while making clean up and cooking a breeze. It's prime grilling season in Arizona so we were excited to see if this would make our backyard cooking even easier!

On the menu were hamburgers (for the boys), Veggie Burger (for me) quartered baby red potatoes and zucchini sticks. I prepped the veggies with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic seasoning and then handed them over to the Adam to work his magic. 

He set the mat on the grill and then spread the veggies on the mat. We may have put too many veggies on the mat, his only complaint was that it was a little hard to stir the veggies without some falling off the surface. If somehow they could make a mat with small sides, it would be perfect (or, we could just cook less veggies, but we are both runners and we like to EAT so that's not an option haha!)

The veggies turned out PERFECTLY when cooked on the mat! The potatoes had a nice crisp to them as if they were roasted and there was ZERO burn marks on them which was amazing. They cooked more quickly and evenly then without the grill mats and clean up was a breeze. 

We can't wait to sue these grill mats all season long and also hear they make good oven cooking mats too (cookies for dessert anyone?)