ONE MONTH WITH ARI

If you follow me on Instagram, look at my photos and/or watch my stories, you know I've been fairly open about motherhood so far. It's hard to believe it's already been a month since my life changed forever and for the better. In the interest of staying organized and somewhat concise, I'm just going to answer the questions I've been asked frequently. (Note that most of the questions I received were more about my experience with birth/postpartum rather than about Ari herself, which is, I think, to be expected. She's only 1 month old, after all!)

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How are you feeling?

Like shit! No, I'm kidding. Sort of. Emotionally, I'm feeling overjoyed to have Ari as a part of our family. Mentally and physically, it's been a rocky road but I'm feeling a little more like myself each day. I will write more about my recovery once I'm a bit further away from it. Stay tuned.

What was in your hospital bag? Anything you wish you'd packed or were really glad you had?

Ben and I joked about what ameteurs we were because we ABSOLUTELY overpacked. The thing is, we live in Westchester and had the baby in Manhattan, so I knew we were going to overpack (since we couldn't just run home for something we'd forgotten) and I was totally fine with it. When we got to the hospital it looked like we were headed on a three-week European vacation. The one thing I packed that I absolutely DID NOT NEED was maternity underwear. (I brought these, which I love and am now living in, for the record. I also have and like these.) I learned quickly that after the baby is born you pretty much live in mesh undies. However, I was very glad I packed these pajama pants, these camisoles and this robe. I wore this set home from the hospital, which is pricey but worth it. I still wear all of those pieces at least once a week.

What surprised you the most about labor & delivery? Is there anything you wish you'd known ahead of time?

I've given a lot of though to this because my immediate reaction was, "Yes, I wish someone had told me I was going to be birthing a near-nine pound baby." I gave birth to Ari the morning of my scheduled 40-week appointment, and so the last time I'd seen my doctor (at my 39-week appointment a week earlier) she'd given me no indication that the baby was going to be bigger than her prediction (in the 7lb range if I gave birth on time, about 8lbs if I went past my due date). But the truth is, no, I don't wish I knew how much she was going to weigh ahead of time. It wouldn't have changed anything. 

What I do I WISH I'd been made aware of is how the pain sets in when the epidural wears off. This sounds so incredibly obvious, but I was in such baby bliss staring at and holding Ari that I never once considered what the pain would be like until I was faced with it. A nurse offered me Motrin when we got to our recovery room and I refused it. In hindsight that was a mistake. I don't know if it would've made a HUGE difference, but it might have at least taken the edge off.

Birthing a baby is an amazing feat and quite frankly I think we're all fucking superheroes - whether you give or gave birth naturally, vaginally, via C-section, and/or with or without medical intervention. I don't feel women will EVER get the credit we are due. But, I also feel that giving birth IS a trauma to the body and I wish more people were open about what the process is truly like.

How much weight did you gain and what does your current diet look like?

I gained 40 pounds, which was about 15 pounds more than I was expecting to gain. For the record, I was at my personal best body composition (fat to muscle ratio) two weeks before I became pregnant. I had 19.5% body fat, which is considered to be in the "athlete" category for women. I had 59 pounds of muscle, which was about 44% of my total body weight. 

Most medical professionals say that a woman who was an "average" weight before pregnancy should expect to gain between 25-35 pounds after becoming pregnant. These numbers HAUNTED me after I hit 25 pounds and knew the scale wasn't going to stop there. But at some point - around 30 weeks - I decided to stop letting the scale rule my life, and it was such a weight (pun intended) off my shoulders. Towards the end of my pregnancy, my doctor asked if I could, "slow down the weight loss." I looked at her and said, "I eat well, I walk my dog over two miles most days and I'm strength training at the gym 3-4 times a week. How do you suggest I slow it down?" She was dumbfounded and said, "I guess there's not much else you can do."

I share this in hopes that maybe at least one of you will ease up on yourself about weight gain during pregnancy. Every woman and every pregnancy is unique. I had an extra lobe of placenta and I gave birth to a big baby. I lost close to half the weight I gained almost immediately after giving birth. The delivering doctor even said, "I can't believe how much your belly has gone down!" while she was stitching me up. (I had a second degree tear.)

The second half has obviously been slower to come off. The first two weeks after pregnancy, I gave myself permission to eat how I wanted. I was still attempting to breastfeed and pump, and I had a big appetite. Once that all quieted down, I decided to eliminate grains from my diet. In the past when I've done this, I've noticed a huge change in my overall lifestyle: sharper mindset, better quality sleep, lessened joint pain, fewer cravings and weight loss. Ben is also "grain-free" (and looks even more amazing than usual, might I add) which certainly makes my life easier in terms of cooking dinner, eating together, etc. I weigh myself every Friday morning. I'm focused, but I'm not obsessed. At the time of publishing this post I'm about 14 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. 

Do you *really* think staying in shape during pregnancy helped you during Labor & Delivery?

No. I KNOW staying in shape helped me during Labor & Delivery. Look, I was in labor for just over 24 hours and it was the longest day of my life. I was NOT expecting to actively push for 3 hours. Ben commented afterward that even though it was rigorous and he knew I must've been tired, I never once said, "NO," or, "I need a break," when the doctors and nurses asked me to keep going. The delivering doctor told me multiple times that she was impressed by my strength and mobility throughout the process. I know my lifestyle is to thank for getting me through that! 

Do you have help?

We have an amazing baby nurse who is invaluable to our family. I am utterly thankful for her. Of course, my dad has also been incredible. He comes over a few times a week to spend time with us and he's also unbelievably helpful. He walks Winnie, feeds Ari, comes to the grocery store with me, etc. He will truly never know how grateful I am.

How is Winnie doing with the new baby?

Winnie is still a little bit confused by the tiny human who is now calling the shots. The first thing my dad did when Ben and I got home from the hospital with Ari was install this gate he'd purchased right after I gave birth. (Have I mentioned/you gathered that my dad is an absolute mensch/saint???) He literally came over, installed it in our upstairs hallway (so it blocks Winnie off from all of the rooms upstairs except ours - where she has free reign/sleeps at night) and then went to go pick up her from the boarder's. It's been so great because not only does it provide her with a physical barrier, it's taught her a bit of patience, too. 

Ari doesn't cry too often, but when she does, if Winnie is nearby, she'll start to cry, too. It's painful. If Ari is on my lap and Winnie is nearby, she'll come over, sniff and lick her a bit, and then goes back to what she's doing. Truth be told Winnie is an absolute diva who went from a life of what we imagine to be turmoil (we think she was ripped from her mother too soon/neglected/possibly abused) to the sweet life. I think it's going to take her awhile to get used to being second banana. I know people think I spoil her too much, and the truth is that I owe her a debt of gratitude. We moved out to the suburbs halfway through my pregnancy - a place where I didn't (and still don't) know a soul. We left Manhattan, I left my job and my day-to-day lifestyle changed immediately and intensely. Pregnancy on its own can be extremely isolating and I had these added factors of being by myself in a brand new town. Winnie was my only friend and she was amazing company. Yes, she's a handful and often annoys the living daylights out of me. But I forgive her a lot because I'm forever grateful for her.

What's Ari's schedule like?

Well, we don't really have her on one yet. Per many of your suggestions (THANK YOU) Ben and I recently read 12 Hours By 12 Weeks and will start implementing those strategies once our baby nurse leaves. I will be sure to keep you all posted on how that's going.

What products are you using/loving?

This list will change and grow over time, I'm sure, but here's what's currently on it:

Boppy Nursing Pillow. Even though I'm no longer nursing, I still use this daily to feed and hold Ari. I love the leverage it gives me. (My dad also got us an extra slipcover.)

Baby Brezza Formula Pro. This was a gift from our registry and makes prepping bottles a snap. It's a total luxury and therefore maybe not something we would've purchased ourselves, but we're definitely grateful we have it.

Moba Moses Baby Basket. This was a(n amazing) gift from my best friend, Alyson. I bought the stand to go with it, and we keep it next to the couch in our family room. I grew up in a house with two designers (my parents!) and I'm really trying to take their lead as we settle into our new home. Can I be honest with you - there's a lot of hideous baby gear out there. I LOVE how sleek and chic this is. Since Ari's a little monkey (always moving) she's able to gently rock herself. She really enjoys being in this! If you're looking for a really nice baby gift to give someone, I believe any stylish new mom would be thrilled to receive it! (The picture above is from a few days ago - we just started using this Rock N Play on loan to us!)

Love To Dream Swaddle Up. I forget who recommended these to me, but THANK YOU. We noticed within 24 hours of Ari's birth that she liked to break out of her hospital blanket swaddles.  Somehow I'd anticipated this might happen and had thought to order a zipper-up swaddle that I'd heard somebody rave about. And sure enough, I've purchased several more since! It's so easy to use (no wrapping) and gives us peace of mind that she's safe & snug as a bug in a rug.

Samsung BabyView Dual Mode Digital Baby Camera/Monitor. I was overwhelmed by all of the different baby monitors out there but we have (and love) all Samsung TVs in our home so I knew I felt good about the brand. I brought it home for Ben to check out and he did the research legwork and gave it a thumbs up. This is one of the pricier options out there, but we LOVE it. The picture and sound quality are beautiful, and I love that we're also able to turn our iPhones into baby monitors via the BabyView app.

Kissy Kissy bodysuits. This was another gift from Alyson! The fabric is so soft and I love that the bottom has two snaps instead of three (sounds so silly, but makes a difference when you're trying to get this on or off a fussy baby). 

Monica + Andy hats. I treated Ari (and myself) to a Monica + Andy layette to bring to the hospital. After she was born, we quickly realized she takes after her mom and has a big ol' head, and the hospital hats were really struggling to stay on. We put her in the top knot cap from the layette box and that seemed to do the trick! I've ordered several more since.

WubbaNub pacifiers. Thus far Ari only gets a pacifier if she's fussing while lying down (in her crib or Moba) and these are definitely her favorite!

Jonathan Adler by Fisher Price Sensory Gym. I love anything Jonathan Adler because my mom did - she actually purchased his ceramic vases at Barney's way back when he first started selling his designs. (I have several JA items in Ari's nursery* - this pillow and this sculpture, and lots more of his pieces sprinkled around our house because it helps me keep my mom's memory alive.) Ari loves to lie on her back and looks up at the toys or looks at herself in the mirror. We'll definitely get a lot of mileage out of this!

Beyond Yoga Postnatal Tummy Tightener Legging. These are the leggings I've talked about many times on Instagram. Many of you have asked me and no, I didn't get any belly bands or anything for after pregnancy, so I can't speak to those. I wear these at least twice a week. I bought these in my pre-pregnancy size (XS) and the first time I put them on (1 week postpartum) it took me about 5 full minutes to pull them all the way up. That was a bit frustrating but totally worth it. They're super compressive and I love how supportive they are. 

I'm so grateful to you all for coming along on this journey for me. I'll have more posts like this in the future so be sure to send me any questions you may have and stay tuned!

*I've gotten TONS of questions about Ari's nursery and I hope to get a post up about it in the next few months, so stay tuned!

P.S. Ari is wearing this "footie" in the photo above - it uses magnetic closures rather than snaps or zips!

ARI'S BIRTH STORY

This month marks 10 years that I've been blogging. My life has changed so much over the past decade: heartbreak, love, the loss of a parent, marriage, career change, adopting a dog, leaving Manhattan and having a child. Back in the beginning of my blog I always dreamed of sharing my wedding plans, but children seemed SO far off. Here we are, ten years later... and I'm a mom.

This post was easy to write but hard to publish, because it's difficult to know where to draw the line. I've always prided myself on being an open book, but the experience of birthing a baby is so unbelievably personal.  I want to be as candid as possible but I also don’t want to get TOO detailed. So I did my best, and here we go.

Wow, where to begin. My labor, delivery and hospital experience was nothing like I expected it would be. As I was going through it, I thought to myself - I’ve got to write this all down.

My whole pregnancy, I had a feeling I’d have the baby on her due date. So when it passed, I felt a little flustered and frustrated. But then I thought, “She’s fashionably late and things will be crazy enough soon.” I tried to go with the flow.

A few days past my due date, I woke up around 4am pretty disoriented. I couldn’t figure out if I’d had several contractions, or if I’d had a dream about having contractions. Typical Teddi move - I’ve always had very vivid dreams! Once I was awake for long enough, I realized it was actually happening. I told Ben and we decided that he’d sleep a bit more and I’d head downstairs to make myself breakfast (I was starving and wanted a good meal in case I really was going into labor). I made breakfast, emptied the dishwasher and headed back upstairs to time my contractions. From 6-7am they were consistently 5 minuets apart, though some were stronger than others. Ben walked Winnie while I called my doctor. She said give it another hour to see if they were consistently strong. I had Ben bring Winnie to daycare while I sat on the couch and continued timing my contractions. They were definitely getting stronger but I felt oddly calm even through the pain. One thing I really didn’t want happening was driving all the way to Manhattan only to be told, “You’re not far enough along yet,” and be sent home. But once Ben got back home, I told him to shower and get dressed so we could head to the hospital. I had a feeling it was time.

We got in the car at 9 on the dot and got to the hospital just before 10. I had some strong contractions in the car and was pretty confident we’d get admitted. We walked into an empty L&D floor (or so we thought - more on that later) and they actually said, “What brings you here today?” Um... A BABY?

After giving some info and signing some paperwork, Ben and I were admitted into a triage room. This was the worst, hardest part of my labor. I was examined around 10:30 and told, “You’re 4cm dilated - you’re staying.” Relief! The midwife asked me if I wanted my epidural yet and I was surprised; I said no because my contractions were tough but manageable. Ben and I wound up staying in that triage room for about 3 hours total and my contractions quickly got worse. It turned out the waiting room was empty when we’d arrived but there were actually quite a few women in labor and delivering. Ben and I were mostly alone from 10:30-1 and despite trying to be tough, I cried through pretty much every contraction. They were about 5 minutes apart and quite painful. Around 1, a new nurse came in during a bad contraction, locked eyes with me and helped me get through it. I told her it was time for the epidural and she assured me I’d have it soon and that a L&D room was being prepped for us.

We walked over to the room and the nurse told me my dad was downstairs and that she’d let him up to visit once my epidural was in. This was totally unexpected and such a nice surprise. The anesthesiologists were lovely and getting the epidural was fairly seamless. I got settled into bed and my dad and sister came to visit from 2-4pm! This was by far the best part of the day. The nurse said I could eat (I was starving) so I snacked while we chatted. After a frustrating, painful few hours, the epidural really calmed me down and it was so great having company.

I was examined again around 4pm and told I was 6cm dilated and 100% effaced. The doctors said they’d come back to check me again around 6pm and thought I might have my baby by midnight. Ben and I were convinced we’d have her by 7. Joke was on us...

We chatted with our nurse and watched TV and because the doctors were so busy, they didn’t check on me again until, 8, at which point I was 8cm dilated. Midnight was beginning to look more realistic. Ben went to get himself dinner as we had no real concept of when I’d actually begin to push. I also encouraged him to sleep for the same reason. The upside was that our L&D room was spacious and gorgeous and a great place to be stuck in so to speak. I watched a LOT of TV that night.

In the early evening, I started to feel a lot of sharp pain in my right hip crease every time I had a contraction. I mentioned it to the nurse and she had the anesthesiologist come to check on me. The epidural had moved 1cm, and I guess when that happens all of your pain can be localized to one spot. Luckily they were able to fix this fairly quickly without removing and reinserting the epidural needle, and for that I was grateful.

The doctors checked on me again around 10:40pm and I was 9.5cm dilated. I thought, "I may actually have this baby by midnight." However, this was also when the doctors told me that I was progressing well and they wanted me to hold off on pushing for as long as possible as they hoped it would mean less physical work for me and the baby. Spoiler alert: it didn't.

The next few hours felt like they were moving in slow-mo. Ben slept and I was starting to doze off because I was tired, but I was unable to truly relax. My nurse kept telling me a doctor was coming back to check on me... and they finally did, at 1:40am. I was 10cm and ready to go. Ben woke up and sat by my side. I texted my dad that I was getting ready to push and would text him again when the baby was here. He wrote back immediately and it warmed my heart to know he was awake and with me in spirit.

Throughout my last month of pregnancy, my doctor told me that the baby's head was “very low.” The doctors and nurses commented on this several times throughout my first 20 or so hours of labor as well. I'm no medical expert but I took this to mean that I’d have less active pushing time. The nurse warned me that most new moms push for 30 minutes to 2 hours and that while baby’s head was indeed nice and low, I had some work ahead of me. Meaning, I could very well push for up to two hours.

Ben and I had agreed ahead of time that throughout the end of labor (pushing) he’d sit next to me and that neither of us would watch the baby coming out of me. Ignorance is bliss, people. So when the nurse asked him if he was going to sit by the bottom of my bed and hold my right leg up while I pushed, I shook my head adamantly no. I immediately realized this meant more work for me (holding up my own leg rather than having him do it for me) but I didn’t care. The pushing position was almost like a horizontal squat: spine on the bed and knees over hips with my hands pressed against the back of my thighs to hold them in place. Take a big, deep breath in, chin to chest and bear down and push while exhaling for 10 seconds. Repeat 2x per contraction.

At this point I started to cry as I realized we didn’t take any childbirthing classes or anything and I had no idea what I was doing. The head doctor came in and said, “How’s my star student?” And I cried to her that I didn’t know what I was doing and I was afraid I'd be bad at pushing. I guess reaffirmations are my love language, because I REALLY just needed to hear someone say, "No, you'll be great at pushing!" We did some practice pushes and she reassured me that I was doing everything right. I looked at Ben and said, “2 hours of this? I hope not...”

The first few pushes were sort of terrifying as they felt like unknown territory. But after the third or fourth round, I gave myself a little pep talk in my head. I decided to look at pushing like a workout with an unknown amount of sets. I love a challenge. I was going to give every push my all and make it my best. Having a goal in mind always helps me. From then on, I felt strong, capable and determined rather than scared.

For some reason (TV/movies?) I expected a lot of people to be in the room but for awhile it was just the 3 of us: Ben, me, and our wonderful L&D nurse, Allison. (Also my best friend's name. Also my original middle name that my parents changed to my mom's maiden name when I was 3 years old. But my birth announcements indeed read, "Teddi Allison.") Eventually the doctor came in and measured me while I as pushing, which was encouraging, but she was also in the middle of another delivery so for awhile she was switching back and forth between rooms. She complimented me on my strength and mobility throughout the pushing process which made me feel good.

At 3:43am I looked at Ben and said, “Let’s make a goal to meet her by 5am,” and he nodded. I couldn’t believe I’d almost been pushing for two hours already. My nurse put an oxygen mask on me because the baby’s heart rate was starting to dip a bit. We were both doing a lot of work and I still can’t believe all the pushing she required for her head having been "so low..."

The closer we got to 5am, the harder things got. I started to get really emotional and kept saying, “I just want to be strong for her.” I made each push stronger than the next and realized I could actually feel her head. That was a BIZARRE couple of minutes let me tell you. By this point there were quite a few more people in the room and I heard someone say, “Let’s break the bed.”

Everyone scurried to rearrange the setup. Again, I guess I watch too much tv but I was expecting to hear, “Okay Teddi, one last push!” What I did hear was the nurse say, “You’re very close and her heart rate is a little low. We’re going to have a pediatrician come in to make sure everything’s okay." That’s when I thought, “Okay, this baby’s coming out NOW.” On their cue I pushed as hard as I could and sobbed as Ari was placed on my chest. She started crying almost immediately and I was later told that the pediatrician took a quick glance at her and deemed her totally fine. Our nurse cleaned her off as I held her and cried. It was so surreal that this little sea monkey who'd been swimming around in my tummy for the last 9+ months was now a human in the real world with the rest of us. She was born at 4:59 in the morning. We made my "meet her by 5am" goal by the skin of our (MY) teeth.

Our Ari Morgan was finally here!

After we laid skin to skin for a bit, it was time to get her APGAR score (9 and 9, whattup!) and weight. I almost rolled off of the bed when the nurse told me she was 8 pounds 10 ounces. I was confident that I was having an eight pound baby AT MOST (based on what my doctor had told me) and couldn’t believe she was almost nine pounds. I made them double and triple check that number. All of the sudden it made sense that it took 3 hours of pushing to have her and that the doctors and nurses wanted to me to wait as long as possible to start pushing. HA! Ironic that our nurse told us, "it could take up to two hours," and it was almost three. Ari has a big head (like me) and broad shoulders (like me). Our pediatrician later told me she was shocked that they never once suggested a C-Section might be a possibility, given her size. 

Shortly after Ari was born, an old friend from high school reached out to me and said something along the lines of, "Doesn't this mom shit make pregnancy seem like a breeze?" In a word: YES. I was lucky to have a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy, and I think my labor and delivery would have felt like much more of a challenge if I hadn't stayed so active right up until the very end. 

My whole life, I've dreamed of being a mom, and it's so bittersweet to have this experience without MY mom here. When we got home from the hospital and my dad and Perri came over, I was overcome by her absence. I sat next to Winnie and cried into her fur. I know they would've been just as close as Nana and I were. Ari was named in honor of my mom: "A" for her maiden name and "Ari" because my mom loved boy's names for girls. She and I both always said we loved the name "Morgan," so there you go.

It feels so hard not having her here with me for this. Hard, and unfair. 

That being said... I know I'm still luckier than most. I had a mostly scare-free pregnancy and carried a big, healthy baby to term. I have an incredible husband, an amazing family, and really wonderful friends. It takes a village, and I'm so grateful for mine. These past ten days haven't been all roses, but it's a rollercoaster ride that I am very, very, VERY grateful to be on.

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Thank you all for your love and support. I adore you all and I'm glad you're still along for the ride, ten years, many life changes and one baby later.

5 THINGS TO (ALWAYS) KEEP IN MIND AT THE GYM

Happy Monday! So I know everyone is thrilled that January is over, but honestly, February is when and where so many of our goals and resolutions go to die. Let's face it: flu season is worse than ever, the damn groundhog saw his shadow, and in general this is that time of year when it's truly tough to see that light at the end of the tunnel we call, "Spring!"

I know a lot of personal trainers and fitness instructors will motivate you to workout now because summer will be here before you know it. I understand this tactic doesn't work for everyone, but even if you don't give a shit about "tank top arms," here's what I DO know - you give a shit about SOMETHING. 

Your reasons for living a happy, healthy life may shift over time. In fact, they should! What currently motivates you to want to be BETTER? To work harder, to sleep more, to eat better? Is it an event or a timeline? Is it an overall feeling? Is it something you're still striving to define?

I dare you to look at yourself in the mirror today and say, "What's keeping me motivated? How am I holding myself accountable?"

Here's my current list:

- First and foremost I want to be my happiest, healthiest, best and most energetic self for my baby girl (due in just over 5 weeks). 

- I miss my pre-baby body. I want it back.

- We have a baby naming, two weddings and a family beach vacation planned for the summer and fall. I want to be comfortable in my own skin at these events and not feel like I have to hide under cardigans and cover-ups.

Now, a lot of this will be accomplished by sleep and nutrition, without a doubt. But for me, I'm at my happiest and healthiest when I'm making my workouts a priority 5-6 times a week. The gym is my happy place, and even if it isn't yours yet, I challenge you to keep these five things in mind during your next trip there. I think you'll be surprised by how much better it all feels when you do.

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1. Just because someone else is doing it doesn't mean you should. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a member or colleague I admire performing a specific exercise and thought "Cool! I wanna do that!" but the truth is that not every move is right for everyone. And what's more, tempting as it may be to try something new, we all have different strengths, goals and limitations. I love watching other people box jump, but after breaking my ankle last year, I don't know that I'll ever truly feel comfortable doing those again. If you're truly interested or curious about an exercise you saw that you think might be relevant to your own programming, do some research or talk to a pro first!

2. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it. DO NOT FORCE SOMETHING that feels painful or wrong.  I don't live by that old motto, "No pain, no gain." Soreness after a workout is one thing... pain during it is quite another. Listen to your gut!      

3. Not every workout will be your best. And while that may sound depressing now, it'll keep you coming back for more. There are days when a barbell feels light as a feather and other days when I feel like I'm moving through quicksand and can't believe how heavy everything seems. After most workouts I leave the gym feeling pretty good or at least decent, but once in awhile I walk away totally victorious - or completely defeated. Not every day be - or should be - a slam dunk. Revel in the wins and let the tough times humble you. 

4. You're stronger than you think you are. I'm not telling you to lift 100 pounds over your head right outta the gate. But I do want you to be really mindful and thoughtful of your strength throughout your workout. If you're breezing through sets with 15lb dumbbells in each hand, why not try the 17.5lbs?

5. Rome wasn't built in a day (and neither were you). It sort of boggles my mind to think that my daughter has been in my tummy for a good 8 months (and she's still cooking!) Good things TAKE TIME. One thing I always stress to my clients is to BE KIND TO YOURSELF! Crash diets are called just that for a reason; you may see results quickly but history shows us they're almost always temporary. Patience is key here. Your body will not change overnight or over a week. The best way to create long-lasting change is to find the right healthy lifestyle for YOU and stick to it!

So I'll ask again. What's motivating you?

Photo taken by DAG Photography.

WHAT I ATE AT 34 WEEKS PREGNANT

Honestly, yesterday was a bit of a boring day food-wise as you'll see below, but it IS fun to think about looking back on these posts someday when this pregnancy is far behind me in the rearview mirror, I have my abs back and I'm no longer mindlessly eating Girl Scout cookies. 

Yesterday started earlier than usual! We were all up by 5:20 and Ben was out of the house before 6. Winnie ran downstairs to watch him leave through the front window, and I tried to coax her back upstairs and into bed a few times, but no go. She parked herself on the couch in our living room and was quietly howling at the men shoveling snow down the block. As a kid, I always wanted my very own, real life Snoopy...hey, I was young and failed to realize that actual dogs don't play shortstop, hang out with little birdies, hand out Easter eggs, etc... but I will say that Winnie's howl sounds just like Snoopy's. So even though it can get a little annoying, it sure is a cute little sound. I finally dragged a pillow and some blankets to the couch and we both fell back asleep. Once she was up, I walked her, fed her and then made myself a bowl of yogurt with my favorite granola and blackberries. Iced coffee and water on the side.

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Afterward, I got some more stuff done around the house, walked Winnie once more and drove to the gym to do a 30 minute upper body workout. When I was in the locker room, a woman came up to me and said, "Oh my God, you can't even tell you're pregnant from the back!" I said, "That's so sweet. Thank you!" And then I wondered if it was meant to be a compliment, and if it was weird that I thanked her. And then SECONDS later, another woman looked at me and just said, "WHOA!!!" really loudly. I didn't say anything because I honestly had no idea how to react to that.

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{Wearing an old Lululemon top, Align pants, Edge Lux sneaks and carrying my Lifefactory bottle. Oh, and some of my favorite no show socks!}

I drove back home, grabbed an apple, leashed Winnie up and took her on a two mile walk. It wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, which was a nice surprise, but Winnie dragged a bit on the way home (which is uphill) so that was less than pleasant. 

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We got back home and I saw we'd gotten both our Plated delivery and our Chewy delivery, so I carried those inside and felt a wave of exhaustion wash over me. Lunch time! After I got Winnie settled, I threw together roasted butternut squash and rice (both cooked Monday so I could have them for lunch throughout the week) with baby kale, balsamic vinaigrette and dried cranberries.

After lunch, I got some writing done and FaceTimed with my dad while Winnie napped. I had a glass of whole milk and some frozen Girl Scout Thin Mints. 

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We got three Plated meals this week so I decided to make the coconut-crusted flounder with curried rice first. OMG. This was so, so, SO good!

That just about does it! I'm happy to have prepared and ate all of my meals at home which is par for the course these days. I do wonder if I should start making and freezing dinners for when the baby comes. If anyone has thoughts or tips on that, I'm all ears...

P.S. All the Plated links in this post are affiliate and will get you $25 off your first two orders (for a total of $50 off)!

FUN GIFT IDEAS FOR A WARM & WELLNESS-FILLED VALENTINES DAY

On the first Valentines Ben & I spent together, he gave me a gift that to this day is one of my favorite things he's ever given me - a Nike+ Sport Band. Remember those?! I want to say it was the first activity tracker on the scene, and let's be real - it wasn't great... the battery didn't last long and you had to plug it into your computer to retrieve your stats, but it was such a thoughtful gift, as I was training for a half-marathon at the time. 

Every year I talk about how my mom loved Valentines and made a BIG deal about celebrating with presents and candy. She always made it feel like a day about love - not just being IN love - which instilled in me an adoration for the holiday year after year, despite my current romantic status. I know it's typically an indulgent holiday - chocolate, wine, flowers, lingerie - but Ben has really made me see and appreciate the value of practical gifts. I also think it's the PERFECT time of year to treat yourself (or a loved one!) to something that supports their/your health and fitness goals as the dark, cold, long days can knock the best of us off the bandwagon. Mid-February is a great time to re-examine your progress and use a cute treat (or two) to keep you motivated! Here are some of my favorites (plus a few cozy pieces for good measure... and a few things to keep you hydrated in this cold, dry weather!)

Red Hooded Parka // Pompom Hat (I own two of these and they're my absolute fav!) // Giant Check Cashmere Scarf // Dog Vest (So you can take your pup out for longer walks - Winnie LOVES this brand!) // SPF Lip Balm // SlingShot Hip Circle (Take your lower body workout to the next level!) // Bluetooth Headphones // No Show Socks // Gel Hot/Cold Pack // Mini Facial Cream // Convertible Backpack (I love that this has a laptop pocket!) // Rose Red Sport Band // Pony-O's (My fav!) // Metro Quilted Tote (My dad got me this for Valentines Day a few years ago and I still love it!) // Cruiser Tumbler (My fav!) // Minnie Mouse Cross Trainers (I'm not usually a "Disney person" but OMG!)

What are you treating yourself to on Valentines this year?!

5 WAYS TO MENTALLY DOMINATE YOUR NEXT WORKOUT

In my prenatal yoga class over the weekend, a woman whose due date is right around mine said that she feels very lethargic these days and she misses the energy she felt in the second trimester. (At the start of each class, we go around the room and every woman says her name, how far along she is, etc.) Her remark gave me pause; I'm not sure if I'm feeling energetic because I'm feeling energetic or I'm forcing myself to feel that way. Does that make sense? 

Prenatal yoga is hands down my least favorite workout of the week, but I do it because I hear it's good for labor and I also feel that I owe yoga a lot: it's the first form of fitness I did consistently back in 2011 when I committed myself to live a happier, healthier life. Yoga made me hyper aware of my body which in turn motivated me to eat better and move more. These days I think of it as more of a workout for my mind than my physical being, but I do appreciate the stretch!

We all have mental and emotional roadblocks to overcome when it comes to fitness. For some of us, we're just getting started and the unknown is scary. Perhaps the temptation to compare yourself to others is proving to be a real motivation-killer. And I think for all of us, we have to do what I call "get comfortable being uncomfortable." It's called a WORKout for a reason, right?

Today I want to talk about pushing through those mental hurdles. Oftentimes we let our mind get in the way of our body, and it can be damaging not only to our self-esteem but to our fitness! Here are five thoughts I want you to keep in mind the next time you're doubting yourself on the pavement, in the studio, or elsewhere.

1. You're lucky to be there. If you have the means - physically, financially, mentally, emotionally, etc - to exercise, you're lucky. If you have the time and the energy to dedicate to your continued well-being, you're fortunate. Above all else, be grateful for your drive, determination and health. (You're already there and in so many ways - that's half the battle!)

2. Only you can make it worth your while. Those weights aren't going to lift themselves and the instructor isn't going to do the set for you. If you leave the gym feeling accomplished and amazing, that's all you! But if you leave knowing you could have - and should have - done more, that's on YOU and no one else. Put your head down and get to work!

3. You are not worse (or better!) than anyone else around you. The temptation to compare yourself to others can be crippling - I know. Push that thought and instead focus on the fact that you and everyone around you is where they are to better THEMSELVES and no one else. We're all at different points of our health and fitness journey, but it's almost too easy to open up Instagram and see some figure competitor or fitness model and think, "Why not me?" Stop putting your behind-the-scenes, cutting floor dirty work up next to someone else's front page news or vice versa. Use that energy to focus on YOUR progress and betterment! 

4. You are stronger than you think you are. You had the will to get there, and you have the will to keep going, even if you don't feel like it. Cheesy but true: you can't spell 'challenge' without 'change'. If you want one, you've got to learn to embrace the other, too.

5. You WILL feel better afterward. Last week, I mentioned having a mantra that keeps you motivated. Mine has long been, "I will regret skipping, but I'll never regret going." I don't depend on it as much as once days, but there will always be days when I'm feeling sluggish and know I can dig this up in a pinch to will myself to keep going. Elle Woods WAS RIGHT. The endorphins are REAL and I can pretty much guarantee you will feel better after your workout than you did before it! Something to look forward to!

What's your biggest mental hurdle at the gym?

Photo taken by DAG Photography.

10 THINGS I ALWAYS HAVE IN MY GYM BAG

Happy Friday! I hope you've all had a good week and are looking forward to a little relaxation in the next few days? I have to know - who else watched The Assassination of Gianni Versace? Ben and I were so captivated by the OJ series (and Sterling K. Brown) that we were pretty psyched for it to come back, and I was especially intrigued when I heard this season would be about Versace. Ben's a little older than me, so he felt more attached to the OJ story because he remembers watching the trial, etc.

My family still lived in Miami when Versace was murdered so this story hits closer to home for me (no pun intended). I remember standing next to my mom shortly after the news broke; she was sitting at her vanity with her face in her hands, crying, and I put my hand on her shoulder. I remember driving past his mansion on Miami Beach several days later and seeing the yellow caution tape strewn about. Ben said he can't recall much about this in the news back then and I figure it probably wasn't making the headlines here in Westchester County, but man, I vividly remember how big of a deal it was in Miami. I thought the first episode was phenomenal; the cinematography was stunning and I find the story itself to be (sadly) really timely and appropriate. And of course all the gorgeous views of Miami made me homesick. I loved seeing Ricky Martin - the Livin' La Vida Loca tour was the first concert I ever went to! - and it's fun to watch Darren Criss again. 

Another thing that happened this week: I had to make sure I'm all set up to freeze my gym membership temporarily when baby arrives, and it got me thinking about how much different my gym routine has become! When I was training clients full time, I had a stocked locker full of extra clothes, snacks, and toiletry items. These days, I no longer have that luxury and have to be mindful of what I'm carrying around. My current pre- and post-gym routine is pretty much the same every single day (I'm a creature of habit): streamlined and low-key. I see some women lay out more makeup on the locker room vanity than I have in my entire drawer at home, and I respect that. But it's also totally unrealistic to my lifestyle right now. I like to keep things quick and easy, but these 10 things are always in my bag, no matter what!

No Show Socks // I'm OBSESSED with no show socks and ALWAYS have extras on hand. My favorite styles are these, these and these

iPhone Lightning Cable & Wall Plug // No matter how much I charge my phone before I leave the house, it always seems to be low on batt by the time I get to the gym. (I guess I should blame those Parking Log Confessions.) A portable batter would probably be a sleeker choice, but then I'd always have to make sure it's charged, and we all know how that goes. The plug/cable combo is the old-school, fall-back choice. 

Mini Hand Cream // Weight lifting = dry, callused hands. I always carry one of these with me (and I keep one in my car, too.) My dad gets me these every year around the holidays and I love the little size!

Invisibobbles // I've tried ALL the pony-o's and these win, no contest. I love that these actually hold my bun in place AND they don't leave a weird dent in my hair.  (I usually wear brown so it blends in with my hair but I also love the blush and light blue.)

Hand Sanitizer // I don't really like to think about how filthy gyms are... but they are. Jeff Rossen said so. It's also one of the worst flu seasons we've had in a very long time, so you MUST be diligent about wiping your equipment and watching your hands. It never hurts to have one of these on you.

Deodorant // Just in case I forgot to put it on before I left the house. Hey, it happens. My favorites are this and this.

Mini Hair Brush // Most days I wear my hair down, save for my workout, so I always have a little brush to pull my hair back and up before I hit the gym floor. (As an aside, if you shower at the gym, you may want to pick up this wet/dry travel brush to kill two birds with one stone!)

Mini Bands // If mini bands aren't yet a part of your warm up, they should be! These are great for firing up your lower body; here are a few ways to use them. I've used this brand for the past few years (it's what my managers at Equinox gave me and I liked them so I ordered a bunch more for myself) but I'm loving the look of this Tone It Up set from Target.

Gummy Snacks // I often leave the gym ravenous but sometimes there's a bit of time between the end of my workout and my next meal. These little guys ensure my blood sugar doesn't dip too low. (I also love these.)

Shine Oil Lipstick // I don't wear much makeup to begin with so I don't feel the need to do any "touching up" post-workout, but slicking on a coat of this makes me feel a little glam leaving the gym.

What's always in your gym bag, no matter what?

Wishing you a warm and wonderful weekend!