The Breastfeeding Runner

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I wanted to write this post because I have ENDLESSLY googled this topic, and I’m convinced that I actually reached the end of the internet. Like, the internet just threw up it’s hands at me and shrugged it’s shoulders. There is not a ton of information out there for people like me, who want to continue their running while not compromising their breastfeeding relationship.

Let me preface this by first saying:
A) I am not a doctor
B) Both of my children took to breastfeeding easily and were gaining weight above average when I began working out postpartum

Now that I’ve said that, so you want to run 30k while full time nursing an infant? Well you’re on your own as far as the interweb, and most likely, your doctor/midwife are concerned. I had a healthy pregnancy and stayed as active as possible before being diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disfunction toward the end (turned out I just had a GIGANTIC baby in there and it went away quickly after birth). So I was totally revved to get back to running and working out normally about 3 weeks postpartum. My midwife gave me the green light, but told me not to go too crazy too soon (she doesn’t know me well apparently)
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So, if you’re like me and you went race sign-up CRAZY while sitting at home pregnant, and you’ve got some crap to train for while single handedly keeping another human alive, here’s some tips I’ve come up with.

SUPER HYDRATE. I cannot stress this enough. You will never be able to take in enough liquid. You just won’t. But give it your best try. Water, coconut water, chocolate milk even. You need to be drinking 8oz every time you nurse, even through the night. This will keep your supply up and also make you a better runner, win-win! Carry water on your runs. Even ones under an hour. I know, you will feel embarrassed. But those other runners don’t know you, so let them hate on.

EAT LOTS. I get it. You want to shed that baby weight. But calorie counters, even the ones for bf-ing moms, will not take into account the calories that a runner is burning. So just eat. Eat good food, and get lots of protein and healthy fats. Your baby needs that healthy fat and I PROMISE, you will not gain weight. Now is not the time to diet. (Moms 6 months pp who are bf-ing babies on solids can reduce calories safely)

BE PREPARED TO GET INJURED– This is the crappy part. Your body is still full of relaxin, the hormone that helped you to give birth to your cute-as-can-be little one. It will stick around until you finish nursing, which means your ligaments will be looser than normal, and in turn, will not support your muscles like they normally would. Secondly, your posture has not quite returned, and most post partum moms have a slight forward tilt to the pelvis, which, while running over time, can cause any number of imbalances. I’ve been through inflammation of both SI joints, and now a stress fractured right foot, all over the course of 5 months. Only you can decide if you love running enough to deal with the downside of being a nursing runner. Maybe you’re not prepared for that, so you cycle for a year- that’s cool too!

LET IT GO– Your body is smart. It’s not going to divert resources from making milk, which is going to keep your baby alive. That’s amazing and it’s the best thing for your child. But, it’s also not going to perform 100% for you while repairing after runs. You will feel like your body is falling apart most of the time. Get used to it. It’s not fun. It will make you question why you run.

Here’s my last bit of advice: unless you’re a pro athlete, treat this year as a fun time to enjoy the social and psychological benefits of running. You’re probably not going to break any records, seeing as you’re sleep deprived, your body is messed up, and you’re missing half your training because, well, you’re a mom. So be grateful for those races and just enjoy being out there.

Are you a nursing runner? Share your experience in the comments!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

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Listen, I don’t like sweet potatoes, I’ll be honest. This winter, we have literally gotten 3-4 of them every week in our CSA. I realize this is intense #firstworldproblems but next winter, I’m going to request that we don’t get any. But, what’s done is done. So I’ve been trying to get creative because wasting food is not cool. Hence, this recipe for gnocchi was born. Originally, I intended to just make the brown butter sage sauce, but we also received amazing shiitake mushrooms in our share this week. Divine serendipity! The mushrooms MAKE this dish. You don’t need many, so don’t hesitate at the pricey mushrooms.

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I used white flour in this (gasp) but I think you could substitute up to half whole wheat pastry flour.

You’ll need:

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and boiled/steamed soft

2 cups unbleached white flour (plus more depending on moisture of the potatoes)

1 egg

salt and pepper to taste

SAUCE

1/2 cup butter

2 cups shiitake mushrooms

2 tsp ground sage, or handful torn fresh

Instructions:

Mash the sweet potato well. Ensure you let it cool. In a large bowl, add the flour and egg and seasoning, and knead until a dough forms. It should be sticky but workable. I ended up using an extra cup of flour to get to the correct texture- my potatoes were rather large.

Flour surface, Roll dough into 1 inch wide ropes and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Start a large pot of salted water to boil.

When ready, cut dough into 1/2 inch pieces and press with a fork. Drop into boiling water- they are done when they are “jumping out of the pot” as Mario Batali says (I read this, I thought it was a good description).

In a skillet, brown the butter and cook the mushrooms and sage at the same time. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss pasta and sauce together. To serve, grate a small amount of Parmesan on top. Enjoy!

How I Meal Plan

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Lately I’ve been reading a ton of grocery shopping/meal planning posts and I’m loving it. I am obsessed with meal planning. I love reading flyers, picking recipes, and cooking.
I decided to share what works for us. We probably spend a little more than most people on food, but we’ve decided that food quality and contributing to local industry is really important to us. We cut in other areas to make this possible.
I operate on a kind of bi weekly schedule. Its a little haphazard because our organic CSA box comes every Tuesday, and you never know what exactly is going to be in there. I kind of like that about it, because it forces us to eat things we wouldn’t normally buy. (But if I see another sweet potato this winter I’m going to die).
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This week in our CSA we received:
-Swiss Chard
-Leaf Lettuce
-Broccoli
-3 apples, 3 Oranges
-Avocado, red bell pepper
-2 dozen small flock eggs
-living arugula
-handful of potatoes
-onion, cabbage

We are SO lucky to have a Co-op grocery now, that focuses on local products. There I purchased:
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-Loaf of bread
-Bagels
-Strawberries
-yogurt
-Sour Cream
-Shallots
-Kamut Spaghetti
-Navy Beans

I also shopped at the conventional grocery store because there were points on a bunch of stuff I needed, and I like saving money too!
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-Beans
-Fig bars
-bacon
-mushrooms
-celery
-green onion
-Caesar dressing

You probably noticed that meat is missing. We buy all our meat at a local farm who sells organic, hormone and antibiotic free meats on site. Once a month I go and buy what we need for 4-6 weeks and put it in the freezer. We don’t eat a ton of meat and view it as a nice to have, not need to have.
On the menu this week:
Bean Bourgignon, Lunch salads, Perogie Casserole, Asian Cabbage salad, Southwest Frittata, Spaghetti with home-canned sauce from our summer garden.

So there you have it, a little snapshot of our pantry. I’d LOVE to hear how others do it, please share!

Full Fat Dairy

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We recently made the switch to full fat dairy around here. It started because our fridge is small and I didn’t want to have to buy two kinds of milk anymore (Anneliese drinks whole milk). I don’t drink milk, but my husband does. I use it on cereal, in cooking, and in my coffee. Anneliese also eats yogurt we make in our yogurt machine, but I’m not a big yogurt fan. I do also eat cheese (of course!) and sour cream.
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For most of my life, I’ve been eating low or no fat dairy- after all, haven’t we all been told how much healthier it is? Turns out, that’s actually not the case. And after you go whole, you won’t go back. What I’m saying is that fat-free sour cream is gross and if my great-great grandmother was serving perogies she wouldn’t want that crap on them.

In a perfect world, we’d all eat fresh dairy products straight from our local farmer in moderate quantities. Unfortunately this is not the case. However, here’s a few reasons why, if you eat dairy, you may want to consider switching to whole products.

In a 2010 analysis, scientists said:

“…There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of [coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease].”
What’s more, according to dLife:

“If only half of dairy fat is the saturated kind, what kind is the rest? Dairy fat contains lots of oleic acid (the stuff that makes olive oil so healthy), along with a type of fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that may help with weight loss. Recent studies strongly suggest that something — possibly the CLA — in dairy fat does indeed help with weight management.”

This is the same type of thinking that has villified eggs for the past 40-50 years. Study after study has shown definitively that saturated fat alone is not a sole contributer to heart disease.

Saturated fats provide the building blocks for your cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances that are essential to your health, and saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources (such as meat, dairy, certain oils, and tropical plants like coconut) provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet.

When you eat fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.

Saturated fats are also:
•The preferred fuel for your heart, and also used as a source of fuel during energy expenditure
•Useful antiviral agents (caprylic acid)
•Effective as an anticaries, antiplaque and anti-fungal agent (lauric acid)
•Useful to actually lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)
•Modulators of genetic regulation and prevent cancer (butyric acid)
(source: Dr. Mercola)

I know there are many proponents of raw dairy who are on with my thinking on whole milk products, however I can’t get on board with that. Pasturization has been one of the great inventions of the modern age and has saved many a life.

So maybe go ahead, and have some whole milk on your cereal… or some full fat yogurt with your breakfast…you may find yourself more satisfied, and surely enjoy the great taste!!

Spaghetti Squash

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I’ve always liked spaghetti squash. It doesn’t have the mushy texture that turns me off of other squashes, and although its not going to fool you into thinking its pasta, its a good alternative.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient database, 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash provides 42 calories, 0.4 gram of fat, 1 g of protein, 10 g of carbohydrate (4 g as sugar) and 2.2 g of fiber.
Pretty great, considering one cup of pasta can set you back about 220 calories!
I like to prepare mine with zucchini and pasta sauce and (previously) cheese on top. Last night I used some Daiya as a cheese substitute. I had never bought Daiya before because faux- anything turns me off and frankly makes me want to gag a little. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I had suspected for awhile that Anneliese was intolerant to the dairy in my diet, and had been reducing it- but yesterday the lactation consultant confirmed my suspicions. Its amazing what even one day has done- she’s MUCH happier today and I’m hoping things will only improve.
Anyways, back to the squash.
First, poke the squash all over and put it on a cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 1 hour (adjust based on the size of your squash) at 350.
Once its cooked and has cooled a little, cut it in half. Don’t burn yourself! Silicone oven mitts are great for this.
On the inside there is a little bit of seeds and mushy part you don’t want to eat. Scoop it out with a spoon.
Then, using a fork, scrape out the inside of the squash. It will naturally separate into ‘spaghetti’ like strands.
Reheat it with pasta sauce and whatever else you like with spaghetti- you could add meatballs and/or any vegetables you want. Eat as many bowls as you like!

Good Food: Hemp Hearts

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Its been quite a busy little day over here. Anneliese had her hearing tested this morning (passed perfectly!). Then we made the journey to Starsky to get our Paczki- If I’m going to eat 3 billion calories of fried dough they better be authentically made by Polish grandmas. After that we stopped in at Costco for some random items, but while there I found these:

Hemp Hearts! I stopped buying them because they are so expensive and come in a teeny tiny bag at the grocery store. So when I saw this giant bag I was SO excited. In 3 tbsp, hemp seeds contain:

  • 170 calories
  • 10 grams of polyunsaturated fats- both Omega 3 and 6
  • 3 grams fibre
  • 10 grams of protein!!!
  • 30% RDV of both iron and thiamine
  • 15% folate
  • 70% magnesium

Hemp contains all the amino acids, including GLA which is rare.  Hemp has a higher concentration of Omega 3- even higher than walnuts!

I love hemp seeds because its an easy way to “healthify” a fast meal. For example, today I had a bowl of vegetable soup, which on it’s own is really not enough. I threw the hemp seeds in there and quickly added enough protein for a complete meal.

Hemp is suitable for those allergic to nuts and seeds, as well as those on a gluten free diet. There are no known allergies to hemp. The seeds are similar to a sesame seed and have a pleasant mild taste.

I guess I should qualify all this by saying the hemp you eat is not the same as the hemp used for ‘medicinal’ purposes. C. sativa subsp. indica is the variety of the plant used for drugs, the variety we eat does not contain THC.

I hope I’ve convinced you to try something new, and good for you!

Motivation

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Motivation was something I definitely lacked today. Bottom line, life with an infant is so fun, but SO tiring. There is no schedule whatsoever. She sleeps, eats and cries when she feels like it, and that’s totally ok. But it really makes it hard to get anything done. I’ve gotten used to living life in 30 minute increments. I never undertake any task that can’t be interrupted when I’m home alone.

I had 5k on the schedule today, and when I got up this morning I was already making excuses to myself as to why I could postpone the run. But at the same time I knew I couldn’t, because I had runs Tuesday and Wednesday. So when Anneliese fell asleep after lunch I forced myself onto the treadmill. I love running but I hate the treadmill with a passion. It makes every run seem twice as long, its boring, and most of all, I have no excuses, because its in my basement.

I have come up with a bunch of coping mechanisms for dealing with the treadmill. While training for a half marathon last winter, there were times when I simply could not run outside. I had to complete really, really long runs on the dreadmill- mostly at my parent’s house, where there is no safe place to run in the winter.

Here are some tips for making it through treadmill mileage:

  • Cover the clock with a towel. Staring at the clock will inevitably make everything seem ALOT longer.
  • Break down the run into smaller “bites”. During a 19k, I allowed myself to get off the treadmill and have a drink of water every 5k. It wasn’t a rest but it was enough to reset my mind- I was running 5ks, instead of looking at the larger number
  • PVR your favourite shows and only allow yourself to watch them while you’re running. Pretty self-explanatory. Although I have to say on a tangent, I’m pretty PO’d that one of my favourite shows, Once Upon a Time, hasn’t been on for two Sundays in a row due to Superbowl and Grammys.
  • Make sure you fuel properly- there’s nothing worse than starting to run and realizing you’re hungry. I guess this goes for every run. Remember, on a run over an hour you should take in calories while you’re running.
  • Have everything you need next to the treadmill. I am notorious for finding a thousand excuses to get off- I need a towel, water, my cell phone, etc. etc. etc. Make sure its all there waiting.
  • If you’re training for an outdoor race, set the treadmill to a 2 incline. This will better replicate outdoor conditions. Running on a treadmill is actually easier because the conveyor somewhat pulls you along. You want to ensure that when you do get outside, your body isn’t in shock.

Personally, I view the treadmill as a last option to fit in mileage, because I simply love being outside. In fact, I enjoy winter running more than summer, I don’t do well in the heat. But I do know people that enjoy running on the treadmill and can zone out really easily….I’m envious!