About Me

My photo

Bonjour!  I'm Christen!  Been all over the U.S., and just moved from Utah down to Texas for my husband's new job!  After having been in the Navy, I am now a student of Anthropology, a stay at home mom to my new baby, a half arsed writer, belly dance instructor/student and performer, and just general, all around "Jack of all trades, master of nothing." 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Purple Reign

I am in looooove with purple for decorating right now! Purple and pink are my favorite go-to colours anyway, but when it comes to decorating I usually play it very much on the safe side. So much so, that I become very bored with the dullness of my everyday decor. 

However, in our new apartment the walls are a greyish colour and we have this great crown moulding and huge windows and master bath that just screams for me to make it really eye catching.  

After a bit of thinking, and a ton of Pinteresting, I found the color scheme for the Master Bath and Bedroom.  The bath will be done in a lavender tone, with just a few bronze and silver pops to break it up.  I adore lavender, but had to hunt around to find the right shade I was looking for: nothing too light and girly (husband would have thrown a shit fit lol), and of course nothing too muddy looking since the bathroom has a monotonous grey tone to it as well. 

Here is the colour scheme collage I did for the bath. 

(the clip with the pink flowers is only for the tray ;) )

My chip inspiration:

The cream and lavenders are what pulled me in.
And here we have the perfect palette  for both the bedroom and bath. The sage and mint green will be used in my next post on the Master Bedroom Inspiration!  I'm so excited to piece that one together!

I absolutely adore using Picasa Photo Editing to make the collage, it really helps to organize and simplify your thought process.  And if you're even remotely ADD like I am, you need all the calming and organization you can get!

Now it's your turn, I want to see your room inspiration!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

From Utah to Texas: My First Impression and Recommendations: Food

Holy crap, we did it.  4 days of traveling in a packed-to-the-brim Acura with the dog up front, and the baby, cat and myself in the back so I could tend to the kiddo.  Desert, more desert and more desert.  Stopping in to see some of my favorite people whom I met while living in Washington who are now in Albequrque. Who made us amazing Indian food and plied us with alcohol :). Then West Texas, and the return of Southern accents and huge plates of greasy, fried food.

Plano and Dallas has really changed for the better since I was stationed in Oklahoma while in the Navy

Why? Just Why?: The Over Sexualization of the Fitness Industry

Sex sells.   It's true, it does.  Turn on any commercial and you are more likely to see a woman (mostly young 20's, white,  and with a toned physique) doing any of these:

eating food

putting on makeup 

any perfume ad, ever

aaaaaaannnnndd........selling anything remotely fitness related! 

It's our culture, I get it.  We are a patriarchal society,  it's bound to happen. But God damn,  it's getting to a point of ridiculousness!  When I see a blog about what the author's favorite workout Playlist is, and her accompanying photo is standing serenely at the window with her headphones on. ....wearing cheekie underwear and a tied up t-shirt, with knee high socks!  Who wears that crap to work out???!!!! It's past the point of saying "I look and feel amazing from my workouts and diet,  and so want to share with the  world.", and had definitely taken a huge leap across the line into "I'm so hot I want all of you to want to f*ck me." territory.  I love that particular blog and have been following the author since I was in my second trimester.  This,  however,  made me literally facepalm myself and  roll my eyes. 

I have modeled in the past (oh sigh how I miss my pre-baby body), and it was mostly nudes, posed in some very alluring and suggestive poses.  You know where those photos are?  In my portfolio.  On my modeling page.  In a photographer's portfolio.  NOT in a blog where I'm trying to help women lose weight and feel better about themselves after having a baby!  Yes, I know this particular picture is not nude,  but it's one loosely tied shirt away from being one.

And it's not just that photo.  It's the entire industry of fitness.  It's subconscious body shaming to get the person on the receiving end to buy/look at/use your product.  It's creating envy to plant subliminal messaging.  Enough is enough.  Not only for the customer,  but the Fitness Pro as well. I actually stopped watching Bodyrock.tv  because it became so overtly sexualized that I felt like I was watching amateur, soft core porn. And I was in the military at that time,  NOTHING phased me. All I could think to myself was "didn't any of that make her a little uncomfortable at exploiting herself for someone else's profit?"

No,  there is no need for baggy t-shirts and sweats,  nor even a need to cover the tummy. Let those shorts ride on up! Let the ladies be on display!  Guys,  flex those contractually shown abs! Stand serenely at the window with headphones!  But let's make it more realistic,  instead of looking like you just got done with a f*ck session.  As a consumer,  I'd be a lot more willing to look at/use/buy a product that showed a woman who looked powerful, and with that post workout glow, rather than a delicate and over sexualized girl.

Jussayin. And stepping down off my soapbox now. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Morning Must-Have

My husband is a huge Paleo diet follower.  I follow, but I also love rice, sourdough bread, and cheese.  So let's say I'm a part-timer.  But there is one thing about the Paleo diet that I have found to really benefit me, both physically and mentally.  Bulletproof Coffee.  Oh yes people, that deliciously creamy and sweet coffee mixture is better than anything you can find at Starbucks, and is actually good for you!  The fat in the butter and coconut oil provide good energy and nutrients without breaking the fast that your body has been in since dinner the night before, and I feel so much more alert and clear headed after drinking a cup of that stuff! It helps your metabolism become more efficient, and uhhhh shall we say, helps to "clear" your digestive tract lol.

Making Bulletproof coffee is soooooo easy!

 First, put 1 Tablespoon or more of unsalted organic butter (grassfed is best!) in the bottom of your coffee cup.

Next, add either MCT oil or Coconut oil. I prefer coconut oil, so shakiness and a yummy sweet flavor.  Add Organic stevia as desired for sweetness.

Pour your coffee over it all and stir like crazy until well blended and creamy with the fat and oil resting near the top.  Get approving look from Baby and drink yourself into bliss!

Monday, February 9, 2015

PiYo = Love

I am a self professed PiYo nerd.  After the baby was born, I hit a plateau. I had terrible Postpartum Depression, and Baby B had terrible reflux so I was getting absolutely no sleep. And as we all know, no sleep leads to no energy, which leads to no working out.  I was miserable.  After crying for a few days (weeks) over my body I started going for walks and jogs with the baby in the stroller.  I knew I needed more though, and so contacted my friend Gabriella Harrison who is also a Beachbody Coach, letting her know I wanted to check out PiYo, which I had heard her talk about on her coach Facebook page.  She hooked me up with the challenge pack, which included the PiYo workout series and Shakeology.

 I had done Shakeology before, but had gotten off the wagon for various reasons during the previous year.

Within a week of drinking Shakeology every morning on my way to classes, and fitting in PiYo after the baby went to bed, I started feeling better.  Within two weeks I started seeing some definition in my waist and thighs.  Within a month, my pre-pregnancy clothes were starting to be less tight, and I didn't want to cry or kill myself every time I put on a pair of pants.  Combined with walking 2-4 miles to and from classes each day, and not having time to eat because of studying and a demanding baby, I dropped about 12 lbs.  Then life got in the way, and my workouts dwindled.  I could tell a difference in how I felt emotionally, and how my clothes felt.  But, the great thing about PiYo is that is comes with a workout schedule so if you fall off track you can always pick back up in the program where you left off, or start the program back over.

The program is so easy to follow; a mix of yoga and pilates (hence, PiYo) and is challenging enough that you can always work on your form and moving up to a new level instead of just going through the motions over and over and over.  Rarely do I get bored with this program, even with starting it over.

If you are interested, you can either head on over to www.beachbody.com, or contact me to help set you up with a program!

Beachboy Challenge Pack

Friday, February 6, 2015

Easy Ways to Boost Milk Supply

We've all been there: you're going along, nursing happily and then it happens.  Baby pulls off, looks at you and starts screaming.  You do the "squeeze check" to see if the letdown has happened, and realize, shit, there is NO milk coming out!  The panic sets in, baby is still screaming, and  you are stressing your head off as you try to calm baby down enough to get a bottle of freezer milk ready for him.

It's enough to make any mom feel like a failure, especially if it happens to be a regular occurrence, as is with me.  You cry, you stress, and you know that just makes things worse but you can't help feeling like a failure that you aren't up to the job of nourishing that little person who depends on you for sustenance.

Below is my tried-and-true list of what works for me.  I am by no means an expert or lactation consultant, and will always recommend you start there, like I did.  Those ladies are experts and are amazing. But after that visit with them, or while you are waiting for their visit, try these tips to help get that milk flowing!

1) Milk Tea.  There are a ton of them on the market, but the one I found works best for me is Mothers Milk Tea by Traditional Medicines. Have a cup 2-3 times a day for best results, then 1 per day or every other day after supply resumes.

2) Good Fats.  Whole, nutrient dense foods like avocado, coconut oil, hummus, eggs (if baby can handle), whole fat yogurt (again, if baby can handle dairy), almonds, and grassfed butter are all amazing at helping enrich and build your milk supply.

3) Healthy Diet.  We all know you are working your ass off (literally) to lose the baby weight.  However, if terribly restricting nutrient and calorie intake, your supply will be one of the first things to go, even before any of the weight comes off. Make sure you are getting about 400-500 extra calories a day, and including enough protein and fat, which are the building blocks of baby's milk.

4) Lactation Cookies.  Seriously, they work.  I promise.  And they taste amazing!  You can check out my recipe for Gluten Free Peanut Butter Lactation Cookies here, or check out my favorite recipes pinned on my After Baby board on Pinterest. If you don't have time to make them, head on over to Babies 'R Us, and pick up a few location cookies.  Do about 3 a day for 2-3 days to really see an improvement in supply.

5) Mind the Exercise.  As hard as it is, some of us simply cannot go as hardcore in our workouts as we used to before baby.  It depletes our hydrations, and nutrients, two key elements in making the milk.  Keep exercising, but scale it back a bit and make sure to eat, and hydrate. For example, if I know my supply is low, I will go for a long walk or a short jog or PiYo workout instead of a long run or heavy weight session.

6) Power Pump.  This one is tedious, I won't lie. Pump for 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off for an hour.  At least once a day. Every time the nipples are stimulated with a sucking motion, it signals our bodies to produce more and more of that liquid gold. So when baby is sleeping or just isn't interested in nursing, pull out the pump, turn on a show and go to town.  Try not to get stressed or frustrated that you only pull 1/2 an ounce or so.  It's the motion that will help with the next time you need to nurse.

7) Nurse, Nurse, and Nurse Some More.  Every time baby is calm, especially after a nursing session, let them go a little longer to help signal a second letdown. Again, the more the nipples are stimulated, the more signals are sent out to make more milk. Also, try to drain the breast completely at each nursing session. When the breasts are empty, they have a lower supply of FIL, which is a milk blocker.  Also, an empty breast means no blocked ducts which can lead to mastitis, which will lower  your supply as well.

8) Nurse on Demand.  My favorite phrase that I've heard repeatedly is "watch the baby, not the clock."  Just like we are not hungry at the same time, day in and day out, neither is baby.  Especially during a growth spurt.  When baby is giving hungry cues: fussing, rooting, eating hands, shoulders, your nose, etc. get that baby on the boob! Again, the more the nipples are stimulated.....say it with me kids......THE MORE MILK WILL BE MADE!

8) Warm  Your Ladies.  Cold on the breast will shrink the ducts down and signal a stop to your milk.  Keeping them warm, especially wet warmth will do just the opposite.  Put warm washcloths on while nursing, or schedule your shower at night around the time you know baby will be waking to nurse.

9) Night Nursing or Pumping. Our breasts make the most milk between 1 and 5 am.  Try to get your  little one on there to keep the supply up.  If not night nursing, try to get up at least once to pump.

10) A Drink.  No, do not go get hammered unless you have backup milk, that can actually reduce your supply. But a stout beer will help build your supply because of the brewers yeast.  And when all else fails, a small glass of wine will help relax you. And a relaxed momma is a well supplied momma.

And just remember, if for some reason you milk has depleted to the point of no return, there are pharmaceuticals the doctor can give you that should work.  If not, then don't fret.  You have given your baby as much milk as you can, and each drop of liquid gold is so precious that you should rejoice in the fact that you were able to give your baby as much as you could :)

The Pregnancy That Wasn't, and Natural Ways to Boost Estrogen.

Phantom Pregnancy. Ever heard of it?  No? Don't feel bad, neither had I.  After I had Baby B, my hormones were all wonky and I had HORRIBLE Postpartum Depression.  I should have known that my hormones would not go back to normal all on their own.

7 months later, I am still having amenorreah, which is the absence of menstruation, which is not uncommon for mommas who are exclusively breastfeeding.  And since I have a history of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), menstruation is always irregular and a pain in my ass as is.

Well, we had a scare.  I started showing signs of being knocked up again.  Smells that were sending me racing to the bathroom.  Dry heaving, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, backaches, swollen feet, weight gain, even craving tacos and coffee again.  4 pregnancy tests later, we were scratching our heads in confusion.  How is this possible that they are all coming up negative?  So, after looking up CNM (Certified Nurse Midwives) in our area, off I went for a blood test and hopefully an ultrasound to try and get the yay or nay that Baby #2 was on the way.

Imagine my surprise when the ultrasound showed absolutely nothing.  Not even a smidgen. As the Nurse Midwife explained to me that because my body had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome for so long, it naturally had suppressed estrogen, and that breastfeeding was suppressing both my progesterone and estrogen even further which is what happens to our bodies during pregnancy.  Hence, the feelings and symptoms of pregnancy that I was experiencing.

 Even though we weren't really hoping to be pregnant so soon, it was still a let down to know that I wasn't pregnant.  Almost the same as I felt when I realized I'd had a miscarriage, really.  Then, I was so frustrated and angry with my body, that it couldn't even sustain life, and instead was giving me all this misinformation that was making feel sick and so tired I couldn't keep up with my son when he really needed me to.

The CNM went on to prescribe me antibiotics to help with the bacteria that was also thinning out my uterine lining, and some estrogen cream.  He had offered the option of Birth Control pills as an option for boosting my estrogen, however I have found the pill to make me quite ill, and very emotional when I first start it.  Combine that with postpartum depression, and a huge move, and it has the very real potential to be a recipe for disaster.  The cream however, was an outrageous price even with our insurance, so I did what I normally do and started hunting around for natural alternatives to the pharmaceutical prescription.

After hunting around for awhile, I found many herbs and supplements that will help balance the hormone system in the body.  Although I had to be careful, since a few of them such as Black Cohosh and Parsley will decrease milk supply if you are nursing.

Wild yam cream was one of the first hits for regulating estrogen and progesterone.  Both including more yams into your diet, as well as using a cream is supposed to help with the effects of menopause, PMS, and general hormone health.

Next on the list, was red raspberry leaves.  Either in tea form, or in supplements.  The red raspberry helps strengthen the uterus during pregnancy, and so obviously it would help my thinking uterine walls, making sex much more comfortable, as well as helping with hormonal balance.  Most PMS teas that you find will have red raspberry in them somewhere.

After that is an Auervedyic-type supplement by Irwin Naturals, for menstrual and hormonal relief and balance. Although they are softgels, they are definitely horse pills, so make sure to have water on hand to wash them down!

Finally, my beloved Supermom multivitamins by Beeyoutiful!  I started taking these as a way to help with my diabetes, and simply kept taking them throughout pregnancy and after.  While I went down to 1 per day for awhile due to Baby B having a sensitive tummy and reflux, now that he's doing better, I will be upping to the full dosage of 2 per day for maxim results. And, after visiting the site, I noticed they now have a Super Lady formula as well!  After I'm done breastfeeding, I will be switching over to those bad boys!

Another natural supplement for hormonal balance is Evening Primrose Oil.  I used that stuff while trying to kickstart my labour which you can read about here, and lo and behold, it has another use so I didn't waste money and only use a small portion of it. 

And as always, diet diet diet.  Adding in dark leafy greens, minimizing processed and refined foods and sugar, yams, and lean protiens are the way to go for any kind of optimal health, especially for hormonal balance.

Although not an extensive list by any means, these are what I have found to really help me. After just a week, I'm already feeling more energy.  For more information you can click Here for information on nutrition, and Here for more information on supplements and herbs to help with hormonal balance.