WHAT'S ON MY "SAVE UP" LIST: NOVEMBER 2017

I shop a lot less than I used to. In my house, growing up, shopping was a sport. My parents were both in the industry in some way shape or form for the majority of my adolescence, and shopping was an art form to my mother. She relished the hunt more than the treasure, I think. (Which is probably why she returned more than half of what she bought. She was also indecisive.) From this I gleaned a deep love of designer bargain hunting; I'm sure some of you who have been reading for a long time remember my tales of climbing through racks at Neiman Marcus Last Call to find the $2,000 Chloe dress marked down to $200 (still hanging in my close!) or the $800 Prada platforms marked down to $90 (those live in my dad's home in Miami). These days, most of my shopping takes place at Whole Foods and Petco. A LOT has changed, but even so, my lust for beautiful bags, shoes and clothes hasn't really gone away.

Another thing I get from my mom is my "Save Up" list-making. Each month I keep a "Save Up" list that's just for me - it has items on it that I really want but I'm not quite ready to purchase (with one exception below that you'll see). Some of these items are really, really expensive... and some aren't. It's basically a running tab of things I'd really like to own someday. And since I'm not doing too many "style" or "What I Wore" posts these days, I thought it might be fun to share these with you all!

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1. "MAMA BEAR" baseball tee // I actually broke down and bought this one about an hour ago because I had a Macy's gift card burning a hole in my wallet! (The wallet was on one of my Save Up lists over the summer and I treated myself to it with a gift card.)

2. Prada diaper bag // This is definitely the priciest thing on my list, and I've been putting a lot of our move-related expenses on my Saks Mastercard so that I can redeem the points for gift cards to put towards this purchase. I'm sure it's ridiculous, and I don't care. If my mom were here, it's definitely the diaper bag she'd pick out for me and that makes me happy.

3. Eyelash nighttime treatment // I've long loathed my short, stumpy lashes. Eyelash extensions were a great investment last year when I was working long, early hours almost every day and didn't want to spend time on eye makeup in the morning. But honestly, I can't keep up with the ongoing cost and upkeep - not to mention how much WORSE my lashes were when I finally decided to stop the extensions altogether. It's honestly a vicious cycle, but my eyelash curler and mascara just aren't cutting it! This serum got great reviews online and might be the solution I'm searching for... has anyone else tried it?

4. Glittered slip-ons // I've wanted evening, over-the-top ballet flats for years now - ever since my wedding when I chickened out on this pair and went with the shoes I'd originally bought for the occasion. (Which, for the record, were beautiful Brian Atwood sandals that I scored on MAJOR deal at Saks Off Fifth about a month before we got engaged. In my defense, my dad and sister were with me, and, knowing the engagement was eminent, encouraged me to buy the shoes.) These would go PERFECTLY with a dress I'm wearing to a big cocktail party next week, so if you see them on my feet...don't tell Ben.

5. Mommy & Me // One of my AMAZING clients bought me Baby's First Lilly and I am beside myself. I MUST get myself the matching shift dress (in my pre-pregnancy size). I look at it as killing two birds with one stone: I have tangible motivation to get my body back and I think there are few things cuter in this world than a mother-daughter duo in matching Lilly. 

6. Reversible letter throw pillow // Ben and I received these reversible throw pillows for our wedding (also seen here) so I feel it's only fitting baby girl gets one too, right?

Wishing you a wonderful, warm weekend!

WHAT I ATE IN A DAY: 22 WEEKS PREGNANT

I have to say, it was fun photographing my food in decent light for once! It also doesn't hurt that we're FINALLY putting all of our wedding gifts to good use! (They'd been locked up in storage for the past two years as we just didn't have room for everything in Manhattan.) Our new house has TONS of windows (the apartment we moved from had dark walls and little natural light) and I think I'm really going to enjoy getting artsy-craftsy up in here. (Fingers crossed for a new camera once baby arrives. That's a hint for anyone who wants to buy me a new camera for Hanukkah and/or my birthday. Ben doesn't read this, so. Hey Dad!) That being said, these were all taken this past Monday and it was a GLOOMY day in our neighborhood. Lots of rain and clouds and zero sunshine. So I'm still figuring out the lighting/photographing situation, but this is most definitely an upgrade from our old setup.

Onto the good stuff. My days look a LOT different now than they did even a few weeks ago. I'm no longer running back and forth between work and home all day long. I'm home for most of the day, so that's where all of these meals took place (and you'll notice we don't have place mats yet...) I wouldn't say I have a routine down yet; Winnie's had a LOT of move-related anxiety (I'm thinking about doing a separate post on this because if it could help even one dog parent, it'd be worth it...) so I'm sort of letting her lead the way. Key word sort of. This week we're stuck at home quite a bit waiting on deliverymen and technicians while we get things set up, but I'm hopeful that next week we'll have more of a set routine to our days.

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On Monday we woke up around 6. Right now we only have one car, so Winnie and I drive Ben to the train station every morning and pick him up every evening. We got home around 7, and I fed her breakfast. These dog bowls are expensive (Winnie has the large size) but it was money well spent. They're chic, they're out in plain sight and we use them every damn day. You're worth it, Win!

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The first thing I do, food-wise, is take my vitamins and drink water. I was a little hungry so I had a few bites of Funfetti cake from Perri's birthday on Sunday. First thing every morning, I get a thermos (I love this Mason jug) and fill it with ice water and refill it all day long.

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I was hungry for a real breakfast a few hours later, so I set out to make eggs. Of course JUST as I was beating them, Winnie rang her bell to be taken outside. Once that was settled, I finished making myself breakfast but some of the egg definitely stuck to the pan. Womp. I also ate the rest of my strawberries from the farmers market and made myself an iced coffee using bottled Starbucks blonde roast (my favorite - I LOVE that they have it an iced version now - found at Target) and cream.

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Winnie and I were stuck inside the rest of the morning waiting on a refrigerator repairman. One of the doors was put on our fridge improperly so I was pretty eager for this guy to show up. I worked on a freelance project throughout the morning as we waited for him (we were given an 8am-12pm window, and he rolled in right at 11:40). His phone kept making a "ding dong" sound that sounded EXACTLY like our doorbell and it was driving Winnie BANANAS (she kept thinking it was someone at the door and takes her role as "watch dog" VERY seriously) so I was kind of relieved when he fixed the door and got the hell out.

We'd gone to BLT Steak for Perri's birthday dinner the night before, and I brought home this beautiful beet salad that I barely touched and had it for lunch. It was delish!

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About an hour later, I wanted a little something else so I had a cup of cottage cheese.

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I think Winnie was REALLY wiped from all the excitement of the weekend (long walks, dog park, my dad and Perri visiting our new house for the first time) because I had to drag her outside for our walk and not the other way around. I apply the same rules to Winnie in regards to sleep that you hear people talk about in terms of babies (i.e. Don't Wake a Sleeping Winnie, When Winnie Sleeps, Mama Sleeps) so at one point I just snuggled up to her and caught a few Zzzz myself. I finally got her leashed up around 2:30 and it was clear we were both craving some movement; we knocked out our 2 mile walk quicker than usual. It worked out well that she was a little slow to get started because we ended up out during the nicest part of the day and the ground was mostly dry by then. Once we were home she crawled into her crate and I got in the car to head to Whole Foods to shop for the week. 

On my way out of Whole Foods I became very hungry so I grabbed an iced tea at their coffee counter to hold me over until I got home. Once I did, I made myself a little plate with Raincoast Crisps, (bonus: Ben hates these so I get 'em all to myself) some gouda and cornichons.

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I'd been craving a charcuterie plate and this totally hit the spot!

Ben wanted to enjoy his leftovers from dinner at BLT and I wasn't hungry for a big to-do, so I made a box of Banza with jarred tomato sauce for him to enjoy on the side and me to have as my main. I don't want much meat these days. If I do eat it, it's usually because it's something I've prepared for Ben and myself for dinner.

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For dessert, I couldn't resist Friendly's Peppermint Stick ice cream with a little Magic Shell (YESSS) on top while we watched Curb! Sidenote: HOW GOOD IS CURB THIS SEASON?! The accidental text on purpose? I was howling. 

Winnie crawled over to my lap to lick the bowl when I was done, but I couldn't let her because there was chocolate inside. Whenever I have yogurt or cereal or cottage cheese, I let her lick the bowl when I'm done. The look on her face was so sad and crestfallen when I said, "No" that I almost cried about disappointing her. Hashtag hormones!

So there you have it! It's sort of funny that you caught me on a day where I ate two different sweets since most of my cravings have been more on the savory side. The majority of my nausea has subsided but I still graze throughout the day rather than eat three square meals because that's just what works well for me.

P.S. All the dishes in this post are here and the flatware is here. The flatware comes in a set and is hands down one of the best things I registered for!

10 TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR NEXT PERSONAL TRAINING SESSION

Yay, a post that has nothing to do with my pregnancy! Are you psyched? I actually wrote this over three months ago and am just now getting around to posting it, but I think this will is a topic that is always relevant and hopefully it'll make some of you rethink taking advantage of the free sesh your gym is offering or even biting the bullet on that personal tracking package you've been mulling over. Personally, I think most everyone can benefit from working with a trainer. I've been on both sides of the arrangement, and it all changed my life in the best ways possible!

Whatever you decide, here are 10 things you can do to get the most out of your next meeting with a trainer.

1. If you're not early, you're late. This seems so obvious but I cannot stress it enough. If you want to get the most out of your session, arrive early! Give yourself plenty of time to use the locker room, fill up your water bottle, etc. Let's just put it out there: personal training ain't cheap, and time is money. Keep in mind that if you're late, your trainer likely has another client after you and won't be able to extend your session a few extra minutes to make up for lost time.

2. Dress to impress (yourself, not me). If your not sure what to wear, ask! Personally, I think the perfect outfit for a personal training session for a female consists of: a supportive sports bra (I like Lulu's or Nike's); a semi-fitted tank or tee; a seamless or microfiber thong (I like Lulu's or Zella's); fitting leggings or tights that hit you somewhere between the knee and the ankle (I like Lulu's or Nike's); a pair of quality no-show socks (I like Nike's and Adidas' - Lulu's great as well but a bit costly for socks) and flat sneakers. More on that in a bit.

I've got to box jump onto a soapbox for a moment here and remind you that personal training and quality workout gear is an investment in your health and YOU ARE WORTH IT. You DESERVE to look and feel good in the gym. If you're wearing old or ill-fitting gym clothes that you're constantly have to pull and adjust, it WILL affect your workout and your confidence. And for God's sake if you're stopping to pull up your leggings after every rep, get yourself a nice high-waisted pair of workout pants! I speak from experience as this has been a GAME-CHANGER for me!

3. Get your gear right. All sneakers are NOT created equal. You might absolutely adore your cushy sneaks that you jog in and take to cardio classes, but that doesn't mean they're the right pair for your training sessions. If you only have running sneakers with a high heel lift and aren't ready to invest in other sneaks, explain this to your trainer and ask if you can perform any necessary exercises in socks.

If you ARE considering in investing in gym/training sneakers, look for something with a flat bottom and a stable heel. I personally love doing weight work in either my Nike Metcons (on sale!) or my Converse low-tops. I also like a lightweight sneaker, like a Nike Free, for a class or gym floor setting that involves resistance work but nothing crazy heavy.

4. Avoid resistance training for the 48 hours prior to your session. Show up fresh and ready to work. If you're sore and out of sorts, it's going to slow you down and affect your session. I have to say that as a trainer, it's a real bummer when an early AM client shows up looking/acting half-dead from some crazy class or workout they did the night before. I realize that we're all busy and have to squeeze in our workouts when we can, but please be mindful, about spacing things and rest/recovery time. (And if you're not sure, ask!)

5. Don't warm up beforehand unless your trainer tells you to. Some people like to do a little intense cardio right before a training session. I'm NOT a fan of this. Personally, I want you fresh and ready to lift. If you want to do cardio after our session or on a different day, great. But if you're out of breath from a 25-minute stint on the Stairmaster, you might not be at the top of your game for weightlifting, which requires not only strength but focus!

6. Pay attention. Typically I'll give a client two or three exercises to do at a time in a superset or circuit style, and I'll do the exercise first so they have a clear visual of what they're about to do. I definitely have clients who need me to re-cue them throughout workouts, and I don't mind. Some people legitimately have ADD and really need the reinforcements; some people are stressed or their mind wanders off and they need to be given directions again because they weren't paying attention the first time. I get it. It happens! However, I implore you to really focus as much as you can. If your trainer is on the floor demo-ing something, get on the floor with them for the best vantage point. I've had clients who were shy or insecure and kept their distance. Personally I think personal training is the perfect time to step out of your shell and practice your social skills. Get involved with your own workout! We all have personal shit to deal with outside of the four walls of the gym, but your time there should be spent tuned into your body and your workout!

7. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Look, I could write an entire novel on this one. The entire reason I got into this industry was to help other people feel comfortable with themselves. However, fitness is all about being uncomfortable. It's about pushing yourself - physically and psychologically - to your limits. It's about doing things that you might not want to do. Over. And over. And over again. Know that it's not supposed to be easy. You are supposed to struggle. I often say to my clients, "If it sucks, you're doing it right." I don't want you to feel pain, but I do want you to be challenged. You're going to be uncomfortable, and THAT'S OKAY. In fact, it's encouraged!

8. Be specific. The more detailed you are with your trainer - in terms of your goals, what you want and what need from them - the more you're going to get out of each session. Simply saying, "I want to lose weight," is great, but it doesn't give your trainer a clear picture of how much you'd like to lose and within what sort of a timeframe. Saying, "I'd like to lose 10 pounds in the next two months," is setting you up for a much better road to success. If you're not sure what a realistic goal for yourself might be, talk it through! Maybe you want to something more strength-focused, in which case "Do 10 push-ups without stopping," or "Do a full pull-up without assistance" might be good goals for you. Or perhaps you want to learn how to compound lift or increase the lifts you're already doing. Whatever it may be, working with a personal trainer is a great way to figure out HOW you want to get stronger.

Specificity doesn't stop at your goals. Maybe you have an idea of HOW you want your trainer to keep you motivated. One of the cues I love to give my clients is, "You're more than halfway there." For instance, if you like to know how many reps you have left in a set, ask you trainer to let you know when you've got three left.

9. Be open. I take the "personal" in personal training seriously, and I feel fortunate that my clients feel comfortable enough with me to open up about themselves. This honestly made leaving Equinox so hard for me, because I felt like I was saying goodbye to dear friends, and not just people I worked out with a few times a week. I had the great privilege of watching these folks grow stronger not only physically but mentally over the course of months and years. Sometimes it's a physical issue that you need to work through (like a hip impingement), sometimes it's emotional (like a break-up) and sometimes maybe it's something you're not quite aware of (like imoroving your hip mobility so you can not only perform heavy lifts correctly but feel more comfortable in that SoulCycle class!) If you're open, your trainer can help you get through it, and two is better than one, right? Find a trainer you feel comfortable opening up to and you'll be amazed how much you get done in those 60-minute sessions.

10. Be open. Not a typo! You should be open about yourself, yes, but you should also go in open-minded. Perhaps you're a female who has shied away from weight lifting because you fear getting "bulky." (If I had a dollar for every time I heard this!) But maybe you're working out consistently in other modalities and not seeing the results you want. Why not give it a shot? Two things to consider: 1) That "toned" look you long for? It comes from muscle. "Tone" is just a more popular, prettier way of saying "muscle." As in, muscle tone! 2) Muscle burns fat faster than anything else. Period. And another unpopular tidbit that no one wants to say out loud (and no one wants to hear, either...) is that you will struggle to see ab definition if your body fat is above 22%. And guess how you get your body fat down? Yep, you build muscle. And guess what builds muscle? Weight lifting. I'll stop there.

Any questions, I'm always here for you!

5 THINGS I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME ABOUT PREGNANCY

One thing that I've never wavered from in my almost-10 years of blogging is that I'm as candid as possible, at all times. I've tried editorial calendars and schedules in the past, but the truth is that most of the time, I write about what's on my mind as it's happening. 

Since becoming pregnant, I've noticed there are a lot of topics that are maybe not totally polite or politically correct to discuss out loud, but I rarely shy away from being honest. I put up this instagram post largely in part because it was exactly how I felt in that moment, and I thought maybe some people could relate, or at least laugh. (More on that below.) So I thought I'd share some things that might not be popular to chat about in mixed company, but I'm banishing that notion in hopes maybe one or two of you can relate to any of these points or at least glean from them.

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1. Morning sickness lasts all day. Who coined that term? When I'm nauseous (which was every single day from weeks 6-16, now it comes and goes less frequently) it's not relegated to any specific time. My doctor told me at our first prenatal appointment that frequent snacking is what helps to keep the nausea at bay. I haven't found a whole lot of relief elsewhere. She prescribed me Ondansetron which was somewhat helpful. But there were absolutely moments where I thought I was going to shit my pants during a personal training session. On the plus side, that never actually happened and I have not thrown up once. It's more general discomfort and dry heaves.

The only plus to all of the nausea is that it reminds me that something is happening in there, and many medical professionals say that it's a good sign that things are actually okay. Apparently my mom was very nauseous with me, and I was born with a lot of hair. According to my dad these two facts are absolutely intertwined, so in my case I hope she comes out with a hair bow!

2. Pregnancy anxiety is real. Or is it? I'm not sure about this one, but I can only speak from personal experience and as someone who has managed her anxiety fairly well for the past six or seven years, it's been through the roof since I found out I was with child. It's subsided a bit as my pregnancy progresses - the more sonograms I see, the days I check off my calendar, the more settled and calm I feel. I do think as women we underplay what a huge deal carrying and delivering another human life truly is. I wonder and worry every single day if she's okay, if she's comfortable in there, if I've created a good enough "home" for her.

3. I feel oddly attached to my dog. I know the days of it being just us are numbered, so I want to be near Winnie as much as possible. As I type this, I'm reclining on our couch and she's asleep snuggled up next to me. Oftentimes I will get out of bed around 3 or 4 in the morning and retreat to the couch in hopes that a new, cooler environment will help soothe me back to sleep. Winnie sleeps in bed with us but every single time I do this, she follows me and will typically fall asleep either on my legs or next to them.

Yesterday we were packing and getting stuff done around the apartment, and I'd put a cookie inside of her Busy Buddy to keep her occupied for a bit. She played with it for quite awhile and must've finally gotten the cookie out, because at one point I looked up from what I was doing and she was just standing there, staring into space, looking sad. I stopped what I was doing, sat on the floor with her, and just began to sob. I felt horribly guilty that we hadn't paid much attention to her for the past hour. Winnie is an interesting character; she's incredibly independent but thrives on lots of attention. She's really energetic and if she doesn't get ample playtime, she gets grumpy and acts out. In that sense she's a much more high maintenance dog than we'd anticipated, and it'll be interesting once a baby is in the mix. The thought of walking her while pushing our baby in a stroller is already giving me agida. 

4. It's not the weight gain that's bothering me, it's not knowing how much I'll gain. As someone who has worked really hard on her personal health for the past six years, this mental hurdle is one I just can't get over. Because I've struggled with weight gain in the past, I have fears that those demons are coming back to get me. I spoke to one of my best friends (and fellow moms) about this recently, and even though we have very different personalities when it comes to fitness, etc. she reassured me by agreeing that it was the toughest mental hurdle of her pregnancy as well. Generally throughout my own pregnancy I've been eating pretty well and I move whenever I can (though keeping a regimented workout schedule has been a real challenge - more on that later...) so I do know on some level that I'm maintaining a "fit" pregnancy and the weight gain is what it is.

5. Pricey prenatal vitamins are worth it. One of the many tips I gleaned from becoming a Pre & Post Natal Personal Trainer is that if you're even thinking about having a baby, you should be taking a daily prenatal vitamin. This is largely because folic acid is necessary for your baby's health from the moment it is conceived, so you want to ensure your body has a good suppy from the very start. I took several different prenatal vitamins before landing on Smarty Pants, and honestly, I'd had my eye on them for many months - way before we conceived - but they seemed a bit pricey for such a small amount. A month or so ago I broke down and decided to try them, and I wish I'd just done that from the start. They're worth the money and I hate myself for being cheap. I swear I've felt less consistently nauseous since I started on them (I have them as soon as I wake up) and they're tasty and enjoyable to eat, which means I never forget to take them.  

Wearing: long-sleeved tee (awesome for pregnancy because of the split hem), maternity leggings, flower sneaks (on sale!), Odeon cross body. Winnie's collar and leash are from Atlas Pet.

P.S. Since I started writing this post I've already cried about Winnie again. She repositioned herself so now she's asleep on my lap, and I cried to Ben about how much I appreciate that she follows me out to the couch from bed because she knows I need the company (even though it often means less sleep for me because she's 38 pounds, very warm and has zero concept of personal space). Dogs are really amazing creatures and we are not worthy.

WHERE I'VE BEEN

Three months to the day since I last posted. Wow! I want to start off by saying thank you to everyone who has reached out to me a) to see if I'm still alive; b) to ask if I was ever going to blog again; and c) to congratulate my family on our big news

I didn't intend to take a three month hiatus from writing. It just happened.

It was a tough summer.

At the beginning of June, I did something very vain: I did a photo shoot with a professional photographer in Central Park. It's something I'd been wanting to do for a long time - take midriff-baring pictures before I got pregnant. My body is far from perfect but I work hard and I'm proud of it. I'd decided to give Intermittent Fasting a go several weeks before the shoot and took my body composition the morning of. My body fat was the lowest it's ever been and I was so proud. I had a such a fun day. 

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The following weekend, Ben and I headed back to Miami for the first time together since our wedding in October of 2015. Typically we like to travel a lot during the summer but this was a last minute trip and hands down my favorite weekend of the summer. We only had one real "vacation" planned: a weekend in Fire Island. 

We got home from Miami on Sunday, and on the following Wednesday I got the news that my great godmother, Norma, had died. I don't really know how to explain this other than to say the news of her passing really knocked me on my ass. My godmother, Lynn, is my dad's best friend from childhood, and when he started dating my mom, she and my mom became extremely close as well. My great godmother died in the same home where my godmother grew up, the place where my dad told me countless stories about sitting at Norma's kitchen table talking to her for hours on end, and where I spent countless holidays with my own parents. Norma was like a second mother to my dad and a third grandmother to me. At my bat mitzvah, she said to me, "I hope I can dance at your wedding someday." She came to my wedding, and Ben and I took a photo with her that I'll treasure for the rest of my life.

Perri and I were on a plane back to Miami the next day, where my dad was waiting for us. It was a horrible reason to return back home so quickly, but I was so grateful that we were all able to be together. She was a leader in our Jewish community and her funeral drew hundreds - many people that I hadn't seen since childhood or my own bat mitzvah. My dad gave a beautiful eulogy and the rabbi sang, "In My Life" by The Beatles. I typically don't allow myself to cry in public - I cried alone a lot when my mom was dying - but I sobbed openly during Norma's funeral. 

Being back in Miami for those few days brought open a new sadness that's a little hard to articulate. There's something about being in the company of the people I grew up with that's unbelievably comforting because not only did they know me, they know my mom and my parents as a couple. I kept thinking about the incredible community my parents built for us in Miami and how I really didn't have that in New York. Sometimes it kind of hits me like a ton of bricks that I'm not going back there permanently - at least not anytime soon - and it stings.

A few weeks later, I was back in New York and I had a weird feeling that I might be pregnant. Ben and I went out for sushi and doughnuts, and then I asked him if we could have a second dessert, and we stopped at the Wafels and Dinges truck. A second dessert is a stretch, even for a sweet tooth like me, and I wondered aloud if I was pregnant. I woke up the next morning and realized my period was officially late, and I told Ben I was going to take a test. By this time I'd taken several failed tests, the last of which was on the anniversary of my mom's passing. That was a really tough one. He shrugged and said he was going to take Winnie for a walk. I peed, laid the stick on the floor, and waited. I heard the front door shut and I looked down. The stick said "Pregnant."

I started screaming, "BEN! BEN!" at the top of my lungs and ran into the hallway without underwear. Luckily he and Winnie were still waiting for the elevator and I got to tell him the good news within seconds of learning it myself. It was wonderful. I immediately used my Glow app to tell me that I was 4 weeks pregnant. 

The two weeks between 4 and 6 were fine physically but tough on me mentally. I was dying to talk to someone about it and it was really hard NOT to tell my dad immediately. If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time you know that my dad is my best friend and I tell him everything. 

Something else I want to note, because I'm willing to bet at least one of you will relate here, is that I actually went to therapy last summer because I was afraid to get pregnant without my mom here to experience it with me. Not afraid... terrified. I actually didn't go wedding dress shopping because the prospect of doing it without my mom was just too sad. I didn't think I deserved to enjoy that process if she couldn't. I ordered a dress online, had it delivered to my dad's house, and I went over and tried it on. Then we took it to Dorinda's boyfriend's dry cleaner for tailoring. That was it. There is a part of me that regrets this now - not the Dorinda part, best tailor in the city - but it's what felt right to me at the time.

Last summer was when I became keenly aware that I could avoid wedding dress shopping after losing my mom, but I couldn't avoid having a baby. I knew her absence was going to make pregnancy feel isolating and icky and I wasn't sure how I was going to handle it. I'm grateful to have found an amazing therapist who talked through so much with me and opened my eyes to so many things I'd never considered or thought through. She gave me what I needed: someone to listen to my neuroses and to reassure me that yes, it would be another milestone that I'd have to muddle through without my mom, but that I could do it and it would be okay. 

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Finally delivering the news to my dad and my Perri - I say "finally" but in reality it was less than two weeks later - was bar none one of the best moments of my life. I got cupcakes from Sprinkles that spelled out BABY and brought them over to my dad's in a sealed box. We were heading out to dinner but I told them to open the cupcakes because I'd put decorations on and wanted them to see. They opened the box and looked inside... my dad gasped and looked up at me as I nodded my head wildly. We were all screaming and hugging and crying. It was perfect.

Week 6 is when I started experiencing morning sickness, or as I like to call it, sickness. Who coined that term, anyway? I'm nauseous all day, every day. Winnie sensed something was going on with me and acted extra sweet. My dad, sister and I decided to spend Rosh Hashanah in Sarasota and I'd deliver the news of my pregnancy to Nana in person. I was so excited.

Week 7, my dad got a call that Nana had choked on her food and was in the hospital. This didn't feel terribly shocking, because Nana was like a cat. The woman had nine lives. She bounced back so many times from so many things. My dad headed to Florida anyway. It was a Sunday. She died that Thursday, the day we were supposed to leave for Fire Island. 

I always knew I'd be pregnant at her funeral, which I'm sure sounds bizarre to many of you. And I can't really explain it. But it was strange to be pregnant and not showing. I gave a eulogy and talked about how she and my mom are the two strongest women I've ever known, and how scary it is to be at the helm of my own ship without their direction. Perri is a loud crier and almost threw me off my game but I held it together. My dad gave a eulogy and talked about how when she was pregnant with him, her own father died and she suffered from hysterical blindness. I'd forgotten about that, and it made me feel more connected with her in a way. Not that I've ever suffered from hysterical blindness, and good God I hope I never do. But she was as attached to her father, as I am to mine and as I was to her. I have not allowed myself to properly grieve her passing and I don't know when I will. I'm afraid that it'll be too much stress for the baby if I allow myself to have the breakdown. Even typing this, I feel my breath caught in my throat but I'm not allowing myself to cry. 

That was over two months ago, and every day sort of feels like an uphill battle since. I'm working a lot and exhausted all of the time. Everyone swore to me that the nausea would dissipate by week 14 and here I am at 17+, still feeling sick to my stomach on the daily. As I'd guessed, pregnancy often does feel isolating as I think of my mom and all the things I never asked her, the conversations we'll never get to have. I think of how excited she would have been to hear, "It's a girl!" and the beautiful little outfit she'd have bought for her baby naming. I think of the grandmother my daughter got screwed out of, and I can't decide if I feel more mad or more sad about it all. 

When my mom died, I grieved a lot for my dad and my sister. My dad is the best guy in the world, they were the happiest couple I've ever known and I couldn't believe that he was a widow at 59. It's so unfair. I thought about how my sister was just 21, not even a college graduate yet, and how unfair it was to lose a mother that young. 

Now that I'm pregnant, I grieve for me. I grieve for my daughter. I overuse the word "unfair" but nothing else seems fitting. Doing this without her sucks.

It was a shitty summer but I'm hopeful for the rest of the year. Ben, Winnie and I are moving to our new house in the suburbs at the end of this month. Last summer I fell in love with a model home online, urged Ben to take me to see it, and he loved it, too. We decided to go for it and a little over a year later, our built-from-the-ground-up house is almost complete. Yes, there is absolutely a part of me that is mourning in a way for the childhood I had that I always thought my daughter would have... living within driving distance of all four grandparents, going to school at Beth Am, sunshine all year round. I have to remind myself every day that Ben and I are writing our own story, not rewriting mine. I have an attachment to Miami that I don't think I'll ever shake myself of (nor do I really want to) but truly I could live anywhere and as long as I'm with my family, I'm happy. I'm proud of my insane hometown pride and hope to instill the same loyalty in my daughter, though sadly for her Miami is WAY doper than Westchester. Sorry. Not sorry. 

Once we move and I'm no longer working crazy hours, I'm hopeful that I'll feel compelled to write on a more regular basis. I love this space and I really missed it, and all of you. If you've made it this far, thank you. Stick around, okay?

THE BARRE CLASS MISTAKE I DON'T WANT YOU TO MAKE

I started taking barre classes consistently a few weeks after my mom passed away. I needed a new hobby, preferably one that could double as a mental escape. I'd taken a few barre classes before, but because the method and structure of class was largely new to me, it required my full attention and therefore was a great way for me to put my sadness aside for an hour. I focused on my body, zoning in on the instructor's words and my movement. Unlike SoulCycle, which was like second nature to me by then, this workout actually forced me to think of nothing else but pulsing, tucking, and lengthening. Exercise was a form of therapy. I went to Soul to chase my thoughts. I went to Pure Barre to get away from them.

I've been a trainer now for almost two years and I've had the privilege of connecting with lots of different types of people in that time. I meet a lot of women who have a very similar idea of beauty: the elusive "barre body." A tall, lean frame with muscles that are defined without being "bulky." 

I met a young woman once who asked me to do a workout together. I asked her what she was doing currently for exercise, and what her goals were. At the time, she was taking barre classes several times a week, and her primary goal was to lose weight - probably about 50 pounds. Now, I happen to love mat-based workouts - barre, Pilates, yoga, etc. - but I never recommend them exclusively to my weight loss clients. EVER. These types of workouts are a great complement to strength training and regular cardio. However, if you want to lose fat and keep it off, you need to build muscle. Simple as that. I was very honest with her and told her she wasn't going to lose the weight if she kept her exercising exclusively to barre. To my delight, she was open-minded and excited to lift weights with me.

We got to work and I challenged her at every corner. When it came time to hold planks, I was surprised to see that she was struggling, considering planks are typically an integral part of barre class. Then I realized she must've fallen into the trap that so many group exercise participants do.

Well, it's actually several traps. The first being you might not know how to properly hold a plank because no one's ever taught you. In my experience, planks require tons of cueing because actually achieving and maintaining proper form is tough! The second is that when we go to the same class over and over and over again, it tends to become second nature and our brains zone out while our bodies go through the motions, whether we mean to or not. I see this a LOT in barre classes. Women who are clearly not paying attention to their form or the instructor for one reason or another, and in return they're not getting the most out of the exercise. I did this at SoulCycle back when I was taking it 3-4 times a week with the same instructor. I prided myself on always being one step ahead. It was almost like I knew what was going to come out of their mouth before they did. 

The next time you hit a plank in a group exercise class, don't zone out! Listen to the instructor's cues and if you can't hear them or they aren't giving you enough or you are struggling, remember that a bad plank is worse than no plank at all, and similarly, it's better to hold a true plank for a shorter amount of time than a subpar plank for two minutes. Here's what I always tell my clients when it comes to (forearm) planks:

· Stack your shoulders over your elbows. You can have your forearms in sphinx position; I typically have my clients stack their palms (face-up) because I find it to be more comfortable.

· Pull in your belly button.

· Squeeze your tush.

· Glue your feet together and press your heels back.

· Think of pressing your elbows and toes into the ground while simultaneously pulling them towards one another. This mental cue is like a little "ON" switch for the abs. Try it!

When it comes to planks, I'm all about intensity over duration. I'd rather you hold a hard-as-hell plank (see last tip above) for 30 seconds than stay in the position for a few minutes without actually activating any muscles.

TO MAKE A PLANK EASIER:

· Plant your feet wide.

· Put your elbows on an elevated, stable surface like a bench or step.

NEED A CHALLENGE?

Bear Crawl (a personal fav)

Forearm to Hand Plank

Renegade Row

Plank Walk Back (I personally keep my feet a bit closer together than this dude)

Pull Across Plank

I don't take barre classes as much anymore; my workout focus these days is mainly weight lifting and strength training. My dad won a pack of Pure Barre classes at a charity auction recently so I do take one once in awhile, and it's always great fun (and a challenge!) 

YES, that's me above circa 1989 at Beth Am ballet class! To my great disappointment (and horror) my dancing skills are absolute garbage but day-yum Lil' Teds sure thought she had the MOVES!

MONDAY MOTIVATION: GET MOVING

When people ask me about my health and fitness journey, I typically go back to "where it all started" - the spring of 2011. Something clicked and after decades of taking my own health for granted, eating like crap and never working out, I decided it was time to wake up, pay attention and make some changes. I gave my lifestyle a makeover, lost about 15 pounds and have learned over the years that my health and fitness is just that - a JOURNEY. It's ever-changing and never-ending.

But yesterday, when I was folding laundry and listening to my 90's playlist, I realized that actually wasn't my first time around the block with weight loss. Back in the late 90's, when my family moved to Dallas, I was really depressed about leaving Miami and everything I knew behind and definitely used food as an emotional crutch. I wouldn't say I was overweight; I'd say that I weighed more than I should have. And as a girl who'd always had tons of energy and a quick metabolism, feeling heavy emotionally AND physically was really tough. Growing up in Miami, I was outside EVERY DAY. I rode my bike, I rollerbladed, I swam, I played hopscotch on the sidewalk and shot hoops in our driveway. I didn't play any team or organized sports... but I was always active without giving it a second thought. (I also took tennis lessons but much to my dad's disappointment I was not the next Steffi Graf... far from it. I took tons of different dance classes too, but sadly I was horrible.) 

When we moved to Dallas, though, that all changed. Even though much like Florida, the weather was conducive to being outside most days, I suddenly had no desire to spend my time being active. I fought my parents' desire to send me to a private school because I was sick of the obnoxious, spoiled kids I'd gone to Gulliver with. So they sent me to public school, where I didn't get the individualized attention I was used to and definitely needed. I was in 8th grade which I think is probably an awkward time for most of us, but the fact that I was without much of a social life really magnified the ickiness of middle school. I felt lost. Most afternoons and evenings I watched Wonder Years re-runs and cried. My parents didn't know what to do with me. That first year in Texas was really, really tough on all of us.

When that summer rolled around, something changed. I decided to be a camp counselor at Perri's day camp, and I spent every day with the kids playing outside and running around. I lost the weight I'd gained and went to 9th grade feeling confident. That first day of high school was SO awesome... I hadn't really seen most of the kids I'd gone to school with over the summer, and I could tell a lot of them were surprised at how different I looked.

The funny thing was... I wasn't trying. I shed the extra pounds I was carrying around and my figure kind of just went back to the way it was supposed to be. 

As we all know, it's harder to lose weight as you age. You HAVE to try. 

But whether I was 15 or 26, the key to success was the same: I had to get moving

This post is for anyone reading who is going through a hard time and knows they need to change. Maybe you're nursing a broken heart or a bruised ego. Maybe you feel like you're too far gone and it's easier to just accept the way things are and keep eating whatever, whenever. Maybe you're embarrassed because you've let things get bad. Maybe you're afraid to fail. Maybe you're afraid to start. Maybe you don't know how.

I'm here to tell you that it is hard and it will take effort. You will hit walls and you will hit your limits. You'll have to practice willpower. You'll have to commit. It will suck at times. 

But I'm also here to tell you that IT'S WORTH IT. 

When I was 15, I got moving by accident. I rediscovered my love for being outside and being active. When I was 26, I got moving on purpose. And it was so much more than physically moving: I had to change my eating habits, my sleep habits, my overall attitude and more.

My challenge to you on this beautiful Monday is to take a hard look and be honest with yourself. It is often the hardest thing, but luckily it's half the battle. Once you admit that you have to get moving, figuring out how is the fun part!

{sports brashorts, sneakers}