Rainbow Cake for Dummies

Disclaimer: I am not an advanced baker. There are 7000 other posts on how to do a rainbow cake or a rainbow unicorn cake or an animated dancing rainbow unicorn cake on the internet if you’re beyond this level. However, if you’re more on the cake-from-a-box-with-simple-frosting kinda gal and want to take it one little notch up, this post is for YOU! It’s fairly detailed with tips and tricks since I needed them at one point or another.

My oldest was due on December 24th and through some crazy antics I managed to get myself into labor a few days early so she wouldn’t be an actual Christmas baby. However, her birthday still falls within the time that allllll the Christmas decorations, songs and festiveness are in full effect. This makes me endeavor to have an extra-special NON-HOLIDAY related birthday celebration for her to calm my inner mom-guilt. The last couple of celebrations, I bought fancy cakes for her out of laziness but this year we’re on a more strict budget so I decided to DIY it up.

Now, I may not be a fancy baker but I am SUPER picky about how my desserts taste. I let her pick the flavor of cake and frosting. She boldly and without hesitation declared she needed chocolate cake and rainbow frosting (anyone else try to do light colored frosting on chocolate cake before and gotten that lovely cookies-and-cream crumb look? Luckily I’ve already made that mistake and knew how to problem solve but I knew it would be a tedious process to say the least). I tried to convince her that funfetti frosting is sort-of-rainbowish, but she didn’t buy it. Here’s how I pulled it off!

Step 1: Cake

I got chocolate cake mix – my homemade cakes turn out delicious but flat despite years of problem solving so I made like Elsa and Let It Go. I love the Trader Joes one. I always, always make the cakes with melted butter. They taste a million times better and vegetable oil is realllllllly bad for you. Yes worse than butter. You can also use coconut oil if you can’t do dairy. I made a double batch the day before, baked them in 3 pans instead of 4 to have tall layers and let them cool completely – this is KEY STRATEGY #1. The chocolate cake will fall apart into your frosting if it’s not alllllll the way cool and set. Also put the butter out to soften overnight for frosting.

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Step 2: Frosting

I’ve played around with lots of different frostings but in the end my all time favorite is a classic buttercream. Make more than you think you need because you do not want to have to skimp! If you forgot to soften butter, you can microwave on 10% or lowest power for 30 second intervals until soft. DO NOT get impatient with this. 10%. 30 second intervals. Trust me.

Simple Buttercream (for a double batch)

  • 1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter (go organic if you can), softened
  • tiny pinch salt
  • 4-6 C or one bag powdered sugar
  • 2-4 Tbs milk (option to use lemon juice, liquor or other flavored liquid if desired, can sub in 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract in as well)
  • Optional: food coloring

Cream butter in mixer for 1-2 minutes until lightened. Scrape down bowl. Sprinkle salt around and sift in 1 C sugar at a time. Beat slowly until incorporated then faster until homogenous. Add in 1 Tbs liquid at a time if the frosting starts to get too stiff. Alternate with sugar until sweetness and texture is as desired. Will take at least 4 Cups.

Step 3: Color

I planned out my rainbow to be pastel based on the food coloring we had. I needed a big bunch of purple for the top and purple for between the layers since that was her favorite color and then less of each other color for the sides.

  • Purple: I separated out about 2/3 of the white frosting and added the purple dye (or use pink/red + blue) a few drops at a time, scraping down and beating in frequent alternations until the right color got there. Don’t over-beat your frosting or it will separate.
  • I then divided up the remaining 2/3 white frosting into 5 roughly even portions and did the same process to make pink (or you could do red), orange, yellow, green and blue. Place each color into one corner of it’s own plastic baggie and set aside. I did this with the children. I had 0 teaspoons of patience left at the end of this process so sent them away with their dad for step 4.
  • If it’s really hot in your kitchen, your frosting might be too soft – refrigerate for 15 minute intervals until it spreads like soft butter.

Step 4: Assembly

  1. Check your alignment: Since I overfilled the cake pans (I’m gonna call it on purpose…), one of them was lop sided so I sliced it off flat.
  2. Put down a TBS of whatever frosting you have the most of in the middle of your chosen cake plate and place first layer of cake crumblier side down – for me this was the cut side. Use strips of wax paper to protect the edges of your plate. Cutting strips of wax paper can be a good task for a 4-7 year old kid.
  3. Get a tall glass or shallow wide bowl of very warm water and set aside your frosting-wiping rag
  4. Put some large dollops of frosting around the middle on top of the cake. If your frosting spreads easily, spread with short strokes from middle of cake out to edges. If it’s sticky or stiff at all, warm your metal spreader in the water, dry off and then spread. Spread right to the edge, but not over the side.
  5. Place second layer on top and repeat step 4 for the top of cake
  6. Start the sides with the bottom color. Use toothpicks to mark out where each color goes if it helps you. I just eyeballed it. Cut about 1cm off the corner of the baggie with your first frosting color. Squeeze in a line around the bottom with one hand as you spin the cake plate with the other. Don’t worry about it being perfect, just get a line on there. Repeat going up the side with the other colors. Go back at the end and fill in any larger gaps with the appropriate color.
  7. Take your frosting utensil, warm in the warm water, wipe clean and again, using one hand while the other spins the plate, run it vertically around the side of the cake to smooth and smoosh the colors together. Smooth the top into a corner. 

  8. Add sprinkles if you feel extra-fancy and VOILA!

Chill the cake until ready to serve. Let warm to room temperature about an hour before enjoying. Cut with warm knife for optimal aesthetically pleasing slices.

 

 

Dr. Annie is an experienced family doctor, pretty-ok baker and mom of 2 with 1 more coming very soon in California.

This Christmas, Invest in Yourself

This post contains affiliate links to make it easier for you to get to the tools that were helpful for us. We may get compensation from the links, but the point of the post is to share a personal journey, not to be an ad.

As parents, we all know that our children are our priority.  So much so, that we often sacrifice taking care of ourselves (usually without even realizing it).  I am certainly no exception, and I’d like to share a personal journey of mine here today in the spirit of the holidays.

As a financial advisor, I’m here to give you permission to not only spend some of your hard-earned money on yourself, but to also call it an investment.  Because it is!  It is the BEST kind of investment, in fact.  Investing in yourself pays dividends in ways you can’t even imagine, and benefits ALL of the people around you, including the little ones in your life who deserve to have a HAPPY, HEALTHY mother.  Repeat this ladies:

My children and family will benefit when I am happy and healthy.

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It was this time last year that I realized that I wasn’t in ideal shape. Having kids changed my body and changed my metabolism. I stepped on a scale for my annual physical and was shocked!! Somehow, while all of my friends lost weight while breastfeeding, I managed to gain it and keep it on. Ugh!

You may be thinking: “Margo, how could you have not realized this without going to the doctor?”  Well, for starters, I have a wonderful husband who loves me 100% of the time no matter what I weigh, and would never EVER call something like this to my attention.  Secondly, before kids, I was mostly a slim person who didn’t really have to exercise to maintain a certain weight (annoying, I know, but stay with me), so I was not used to paying attention to these sorts of things.  I didn’t even own a scale.  Alas…  Here I was:

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I decided I wanted to get back to my best, healthiest self. But how? I started slowly but didn’t really see results – Now I know why. I didn’t know what I was doing! I know about finance, but I didn’t know about nutrition or exercise. There were 3 key things that turned it all around for me and I wanted to share with you all what worked in case it can help any of you struggling the way I was.

Step 1: Nutrition

So, in April, I decided to get serious and call in an expert. I started with Amanda Kettering and did The Arbonne 30 Challenge. Little did I realize it would be an entire lifestyle changer!! I started to learn how to eat healthier without sacrificing my happiness or sanity. The results were immediate thanks to the program and to Amanda’s coaching. In the first month, I lost 15 lbs. In the next 3 months or so of continuing the program 80% of the time, I lost 10 more lbs. That’s 25 lbs total ONLY with changing the way I eat.

This was without any exercise. If I, as someone who is horrendous at cooking with an insanely busy schedule can make this work, anyone can.  If you are committed to following the plan, you will succeed.  Yes, even if you don’t cook.  Yes, even if you are busy.  And yes, even if you’ve failed at other “diets” in the past. Want to access it?  Click here.  Have questions?  Send us a message, and I’ll tell you the honest truth about all of the good, bad and challenging.

Step 2: Exercise

After 4-5 months of this, I decided to tackle exercising. I made a huge leap and joined True Core CrossFit in Annapolis thanks to urging from my friend Andrea. She convinced me I could do it. I had heard about this place from my friend Patrick, but wasn’t convinced I was cut out for CrossFit. This was the girl who avoided any kind of weight lifting, other than her own children… Really? CrossFit? Little did I realize what enormous, amazing community I was joining. I not only got incredible education and hands-on personal help during every class, but I made a ton of wonderful friends who celebrate every success of mine as if it is their own.

True Core also gave me individualized nutrition training, followed with constant encouragement and feedback. It should surprise no one that the nutrition support closely aligned with all I had learned in Arbonne, with some modifications to support the health of someone aggressively lifting weights and working out in the CrossFit program. I also started doing intermittent fasting during this time (safely, according to the program and with the help of Kristy and Brandon). If you want to know more about intermittent fasting, see Kristy and Brandon’s post here: The Skinny on Intermittent Fasting.

The owner of True Core, Shannon, and every single one of her coaches helped me lose another 20 lbs in three months. And would you believe I am enjoying it???? Coming from someone who hates to run and usually wanders aimlessly around a gym, it should mean a lot to you all that I actually LOOK FORWARD to going to True Core 3 or 4 times a week. (Thanks to my mom Cece and my wonderful hubby for making it possible for me to make time for this!!)  Live in the Annapolis, MD area and want to check out True Core?  Click here and schedule a free intro session with one of the amazing coaches.  I’ll be there to cheer you on!

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This is me: 45 lbs less than I was a year prior.

Step 3: Skincare

There was one more problem for me… I had consulted a plastic surgeon at the beginning of all of this who said if I was able to lose my goal weight in a year, going under the knife was the only way to tighten that saggy belly skin I’d be left with. But I had a secret weapon, Dr. Annie and Kristy convinced me to try Nerium Firming Body Contour Cream. If Annie says something works, I’ve learned to believe her. And just LOOK! It’s absolutely amazing!!! Dare I say my stomach looks quite close to how it looked during my college years (after a few beers…lol)? Sure, I have a few pregnancy stretch marks but I kinda love them. The Firming Lotion lightened them significantly. Even though I love what they represent, I also love that they are lightening! This company sells only clinically proven products for wellness and anti-aging developed with a Princeton-affiliated biotech company, Signum Biosciences. Click here to get Nerium Firming AD Contour Cream for yourself.  I’m a believer!img_5613.jpg

I am here to tell you that you can BOTH love your body and be proud of what it did in pregnancy and postpartum, and also want your skin and stretch marks to look better.  I look at that before picture and feel that love and admiration for my body, AND I look at the after picture and feel love and admiration for the hard work it takes to help heal this body that grew two tiny humans that I love more than anything in this world.

I feel such enormous gratitude and admiration to these experts and friends that I feel compelled to tell you all and shine some light on their awesomeness. As you are considering Christmas gifts, don’t forget to invest in yourself. Don’t forget to call in the experts. Don’t forget that the value of these all FAR outweigh the costs. Plus, you’ll save your partner or family members the trouble of coming up with gift ideas – tell them you want this, make it easy on them, haha!

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I’ve still got work to do – more goals to hit and more milestones to celebrate, but at this point I am in the long game, and can’t wait to enjoy every minute of the adventure.

Don’t underestimate the power of consistency and desire

Your imperfect friend,

Margo

 

Postpartum Prepping

This post contains affiliate links to make it easier to find the products mentioned, we may get a small payment when you use our links.

Basically since I became a doctor-mama, my go-to baby shower gift has been a big-ol-bag of all the things you’re gonna want to have around after you give birth that no one else will gift you. It’s not the kind of gift that gets a round of, “AWWWWW!!”, and I usually advise the moms to open in in private later so as not to embarrass the grandmas and/or husbands in the crowd. But, after going through the birth aftermath myself, I realized it was the best thing I could do for friends to save them or their loved ones that trip to the grocery store/pharmacy after birth.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Of course, I realize most other people don’t do this for baby showers. So here’s a list of all the things you maybe don’t know you will need. Try to have all this on-hand by about 36 weeks gestation just in case things happen early. I went to get mine at *ahem* 36 weeks exactly and posted about it on Instagram stories (follow us @asamotherblog if you don’t already!). At that point in pregnancy, most women and their babes still go home in the normal 1-4 day postpartum interval so you won’t have extra time to prep.

Diapers & wipes

You probably got some of these at the shower, but make sure you have the right start-up stash before baby is there. You’ll want 1 or 2 boxes of newborn sized diapers. Don’t get much more than that at first because many babies grow out of the N-size fairly quickly. Get 2-3 boxes, minimum, of the size 1’s. Which diapers? That’s up for a whole separate blog-post debate… However! For the N’s, make sure it’s a sensitive skin or natural diaper option to avoid early diaper rash and the ones with the blue stripe to tell when it’s wet are wonderful for your addled post-partum brain. For the wipes, just buy the biggest possible box of SCENT-FREE, sensitive skin wipes. You’ll use them.

Kirkland - ibqh Baby Wipes - Ultra Soft - 900 Count Box rcuzj

Maxi pads

Speaking of diapers, you’ll be wearing your own as well. In the hospital, they provide lovely, actual adult-diaper sized pads and mesh underwear to house them. Grab a few extras for the trip home if you can. After that, though you’ll want a box of heavy-flow, overnight, extra-large pads to wear. You will bleed much heavier than a regular period for at least one week, sometimes 2-4 weeks post-partum and you canNOT use tampons. Get another box of lighter ones for spotting after which can be another few weeks. Get unscented, sensitive ones – your lady parts will be, well…. fragile, to say the least.

Pro-tip: Take ~6 of these heavy duty pads, soak them in witch hazel (see below) and freeze for your own soothing stash of ‘padsicles’, this tip brought to you by my fave pregnancy/post-partum book, The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year Of Motherhood.

Clothes

You might already be set here depending how you shopped in pregnancy. The basic wardrobe of your first 2 months postpartum is as follows:

  • Nursing tank top or bra + boob accessible shirt
  • Kimono or sweatery-type thing
  • Stretchy pants
  • Slippers or comfy socks
  • Granny panties

Nursing tanks have 3 varieties: comfy, sporty, supportive. I would get yourself MINIMUM of one of each if you’re planning to breastfeed for a while. Here are a few of my faves:

The bras also have comfy and supportive options. Get at least 1 of each. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT get nursing bras with underwire. This is a HUGE risk factor for getting clogged ducts which hurt like a mofo. You won’t need that kind of support anyway once your milk plumps those puppies up.

I am super excited that the drapey-cover-up trend is still happening because there are SO many cute options to turn your nursing tank into an actual outfit these days! I mean, you basically get to wear a robe in public and are insta-stylish. For your stretchy pants, you will continue to rock your maternity pants for a while – fold the over-belly ones down if needed. Also, have some high-rise leggings around. NO low-rise, if you have a c-section, those will push on your incision and hurt and if you don’t it will not support your recently vacated tummy enough.

Buy at least a 5-pack of large underwear you don’t care about. The underwear should fit you at 3rd trimester pregnancy because (hopefully you already know this), you will look 5-6 months pregnant for the first several weeks after birth, minimum. When in doubt, size-up. You need ones that are soft, big enough to hold those overnight maxi-pads and that are cheap enough you feel fine throwing them away after they’re stained. Black is a good color choice. Again, avoid low-rise, get at least mid-rise. And add on whatever slippers/socks you like if someone didn’t gift you.

Food

Moving on! In recovery from birth and when starting up nursing, you will need LOTS of easy food. If you’re getting hungry a lot, your body will have a harder time making milk. Stock up on protein and healthy-fat rich snacks that are easy to grab and eat one-handed. My go-to’s are protein bars like RxBars, cheeses, nuts and nut-butters plus something to slather them on. If you like it, lunch meat is also a great option (you get to have it again, yay!).

Stock the freezer with ready-to-heat meals and the pantry with easy sides. I keep around bags of frozen vegetables (much better nutrition than canned), a supply of ground grass-fed meats to throw into the crockpot for marinara or chili, microwavable brown rice and quinoa, sweet potato fries and other easy meals you can throw together 1 handed.

Drinks

Yes, get yourself some celebratory wine/beer/liquor. This should go without saying, but… Should you get drunk while you’re sleep deprived and breastfeeding a tiny human? NO. If you have a history of alcohol or addiction issues, should you jump off the wagon? NO. Can the rest of you have a glass of champagne to celebrate being an actual superhero-miracle-maker? Heck yes!

What I’m really talking about here though is hydration. You’ll need to drink 3-4 Liters of water daily, aka a GALLON A DAY, while recovering and nursing. If plain water isn’t your thing, stock up on what will help you get that in. Herbal teas with fenugreek are a great nursing support. These Upspring berry-flavor or chocolate options are also great. Fruit juices are cool if you’re not diabetic. Sparkling water counts. Just get. it. in. Avoid soda, please, for me?? It’s not good for your recovering body.

Baby First Aid

I strongly recommend getting the Fridababy Baby Basics set that has a snotsucker (much more gentle and effective than a bulb), a Windi (can be a miracle for colicky babies), the Dermafrida for your skin and nail clippers. This is great to put on the registry! Get some plain baby nasal saline drops for stubborn boogers. Have a good diaper cream on hand – Resinol has been our family go-to since I was a baby, but anything basic is fine. You also should have a rectal thermometer in the house in case you need to check a temperature accurately.

For your lady-parts

For you ladies who know you’re having a cesarean section for whatever reason, you don’t necessarily need this. For everyone else planning for a vaginal delivery, also get a large bottle of witch hazel or witch hazel flushable hemorrhoid wipes or pads. You will be far too tender to wipe at all at first and will just use the handy spray-bottle while you go then pat dry oh-so-gently. After that, though, you’ll want to use these gentle wipes, not dry TP for about 6 weeks. Also pick up a bottle of Miralax and some docusate stool softener if you’re not already using them. You’ll want your poo’s SOFT. Trust me on this.

Nursing supplies

If you can get a double-electric breast pump from insurance, definitely do that. If not, or I would say even if you do, I also recommend getting a manual pump as back up and for travel. It’s super helpful even if you’re not planning to bottle feed at all, just to have on hand if you’re engorged or have a clog. Also pick up a jar of organic coconut oil. This is by far the best nipple lubricant and safe for baby, no need to wipe clean before feeding. Put it on after EVERY feed and before EVERY pumping session until your nips have toughened up. You’ll usually be given some lanolin – this is usually WAY too sticky for sensitive nipples. Use it on baby’s bum instead. If it’s your first baby or you’re sensitive, you might need something stronger at first like this Motherlove Organic Nipple Cream.

Motherlove Nipple Cream Certified Organic Salve for Sore Cracked Nursing Nipples, 1 Oz.

Also grab yourself a pack of either washable or disposable (judgement free zone here) boob pads for leakage. I have hoarded all the removable pads from every swimsuit and athletic top I’ve ever bought and use those because they’re washable, but if you aren’t a weirdo like me, buy some 🙂

Last but not least, vitamins

You’ll need to stay on vitamins the whole time you’re recovering from birth (3 months) and longer if you’re nursing. You can keep taking your same prenatals if that works for you or transition to a post-partum vitamin. Two options that are good are Healthy Mama Postnatal and Naturemade Postnatal Support.

Be Well Rounded! Perfect Postnatal Multi-Vitamin +DHA Softgels. Once Daily to Optimize Nutrition While Breastfeeding. 1 Month

Nature Made Postnatal Multi-Vitamin Plus DHA Softgels, 60 Count

 

I’ll be adding Nerium’s Youth Factor vitamin and superfood drink because it can help prevent post-partum hair loss and might boost milk supply as well. Taking all the help I can get!

Here’s the list in-brief for printing:

  • Sensitive skin diapers: 1 box newborn, 2 boxes size 1
  • Sensitive, scent free wipes: largest possible box
  • Maxi-pads: 1 box overnights, 1 pack regular, unscented
  • Nursing tanks x3, Nursing bras x2, stretchy high rise pants
  • Pack of large, mid-rise underwear, dark colors
  • Slippers/socks if needed
  • Snack foods, pantry foods, freezer foods
  • Large water bottle (about 1 liter size), other hydration options
  • Fridababy Snot-sucker, nasal saline drops, Fridababy Windi, tiny nail clippers, rectal thermometer
  • Bottle of witch hazel or witch hazel wipes
  • Stool softeners (miralax and docusate)
  • Organic coconut oil
  • Other nipple cream if needed
  • Breast pads for milk leakage
  • Vitamins

Ok, I’ve got pregnancy brain and that’s all I can think of… all you experienced mamas out there, what else would you recommend?? Comment below!

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Annie Ray is a mom of 2 due any time now with baby #3, a family doctor and Target-lover in Sacramento, CA.

The Skinny on Intermittent Fasting

This post is not meant to replace the advice of your personal health care provider, but to give information and personal experiences. Always consult your health care provider if you’re not sure about a health decision being right for you.

Kristy here at Real As A M*ther! We like to give you straight-talkin info on #RealLife. A lot of people are talking about different diet options – especially this time of year – and Intermittent Fasting is one that is currently buzzing. However, turns out many people have no idea what it means. We are here to give an overview!

Okay, so there isn’t a huge surprise here. We’re talking about a lifestyle that changes you. We’re not saying it’s a “miracle diet” or even saying that it works for everyone, but my husband and I (and Margo) are just really excited to share with you what type of eating lifestyle has helped us reach our ideal mind-body goals: It’s called Intermittent Fasting and here is why we think it’s frickin’ amazing.

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What is it?

Intermittent Fasting is a pattern of eating,  where you eat within a specific period of time through your day, and fast for the rest. Essentially, you have a feeding window, when you’ll get your calories in, and a fasting window, when you don’t eat anything. Pretty self explanatory, right? The most common eating/fasting ratio is 8 hours of eating and a 16 hours of fasting. There are also those who go a whole 24 hours on/24 off, sometimes longer.

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But…. why?

Why does the timing matter? How does your body do different things as a result of not eating for an extended period of time? Well, we don’t claim to be registered nutritionists, (But folks like Thomas DeLauer do, and he shows in this video that he knows his crap.) but it’s like this: when you eat, your body throws everything it’s got at breaking down food, taking the contents of what you ate, all the nutrients and calories and carbs, and doing what it needs to with them. And after that, what it’s SUPPOSED to be doing (if you fast) is to spend some time cleaning house, recycling cells, building tissue, eliminating bacteria… Seem too simple to be true? Keep reading…

The Deets (getting sciency here, so skip if you want)

To understand the physiology component of the lifestyle, we must first understand a term called autophagy. This, according to Japan’s Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi (who won a Nobel Prize in 2016 for studying this stuff), is when the body goes into self-cleaning mode. When we allow ourselves to go into a state of “starvation” (aka fasting), damaged cells, proteins and toxins are recycled and removed. All of this burns calories and your metabolism also picks up! It starts burning fat into the glucose your brain and muscles need while you’re not taking any in (aka gluconeogenesis). This results in – yep, you guessed it – body fat loss.

But this can only happen when you allow your body to do it. By not forcing it to constantly process meals and spend all of it’s energy in the digestion process, it can start taking care of itself and mending and repairing. Eating constantly is a little like trying to clean your house while also hosting a play-date with 6 kids under 6… Not efficient to say the least.

The level of “clean up” your body can accomplish with constant calorie intake…

What’s it like?

So what should you expect if you decide to try it? Well, for starters, you’ll probably be hungry. But only for a little while, until your body gets used to the lowered insulin levels. The first 8 hours of your fast is after dinner/sleep, so that’s a freebie! If you’re done eating at 8pm, you’ll be fasting till noon.

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Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

I personally was never a big breakfast eater, because of 6am workouts and early work days. So I kinda skipped the hunger phase adjustment. But yeah, you’ll probably be hungry. Does that mean you take in nothing?? No, you can have black coffee (has to be black. NO calories. NO creamers). Or, you can drink some unflavored seltzer water to make your gut feel full. And always drink lots of water during your fast. Your daily aim is to take 1/2 your weight in pounds and drink that many ounces daily. You should have half of that by noon.

Water intake: If you weight 140 lbs, aim to drink at least 70 ounces water daily, 35 ounces by lunch.

You’ll be trying to make it till noon, or 1. Or 2! Then, eat. And eat well. Aim for lots of protein, fibrous veggies, and plenty of healthy fat! You’ll have 8 hours – noon to 8pm (if you’re doing the typical 16/8 I.F. method) to get in your calories for the day in this “feeding window”. You should not try to ‘cut calories’ during this time, you won’t have enough fuel for fasting time. You’ll notice once you’re used to it that during your fasting window, you’re sharp as a tack, and awake, and alert, and focused. If you remain hungry in your fast, it means you’re not eating enough fat, protein and fiber during your feed and this will. not. work.

Is this just another fad?

Admittedly, it’s certainly got the looks of one, considering that it’s the new hot thing to do. But think about the religious significance around fasting that dates back millennia. And then consider that, in the wild, animals fast. All of them do. Watch National Geographic and tell me when the lion takes a break from it’s day to eat easily prepared meal #3. Animals often go days without eating.

And I’m not saying that this is a cure for cancer (although during autophagy, induced by fasting, cancer cells can be found and eliminated according to this Oxford Academic Article), but we don’t see many animals in the wild with tumors. True, we don’t see many animals in the wild eating GMOs and processed food, but consider the connection between the natural process of autophagy and animals being in the wild.

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I’d argue that the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” thing was a fad at one point. One based on not a whole lot of science. “Three square meals a day” is a Western cultural construction. It’s an old one, yes. But at one time, humans ate when they found food, when they got their kill, or maybe when they found a fruit bearing tree. Feeding the body lots of times through the day, including forcing yourself to eat in the morning even when you don’t want to, is a brand new fad when you look at the grand timeline of our existence. Pssst…… so are most of the diseases we deal with that relate directly to obesity, which is a direct result of calorie mismanagement.  

So let’s sum up the potential benefits:

  1. Weight Loss, usually quite efficiently, combined with an increase in lean muscle mass integrity
  2. Anti-Aging properties due to the autophagy process.
  3. Potential disease prevention, currently being investigated for cancers, Alzheimer’s Disease, and diabetes
  4. Increase in and stabilization of energy for the day
  5. Improved mental sharpness – losing that afternoon sugar-craving-sleepy-slump
  6. Decrease insulin spikes from calorie intake, which increases insulin sensitivity

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I’ve seen the results in myself and my friends to prove it can be wonderful. What questions do you have? We would love to help!

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Brandon Wright assisted as guest co-writer. He is a passionate advocate for food as fuel, woodworker, and husband of Kristy in Virginia.

PostPartum Rage Is A Real Thing.

A couple of weeks ago, an article came across my newsfeed that stopped me dead in my tracks. We have discussed postpartum depression and anxiety here on the blog to help normalize the conversations about those two particular, and VERY prevalent, states of motherhood. But, what about those of us who have had both of those things manifest differently? What about those of us that cannot pinpoint what it is that we are feeling, leaving us confused, feeling isolated, and abnormal? What if our symptoms are not only sadness, stress, or anxiety? (as if that isn’t enough…sheesh)

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Photo Credit to Actify Neurotherapies

Commonly known symptoms of PPD and PPA are mentioned above, but with one caveat. The Anger/Rage category that is seemingly brushed over for the other symptoms listed here. My own postpartum manic anxiety turned into something I had never even knew existed until a couple of weeks ago…….it was FULL. BLOWN. RAGE.

Have you ever just been having a normal conversation, and something triggers you and you have this overwhelming anger that makes your ears turn bright red, your blood boil, and before you know it, your whole family is crying because you’ve screamed for the last five minutes without knowing what you’ve said or even why?

Have you found yourself trying like hell to not throw something across the room when the toilet seat is peed on and you forget to check before you sit, and end up throwing said object anyway?

I have.

Hi, my name is Kristy, and I am just realizing that I have suffered from PostPartum Rage for 7 years.

People don’t often talk about this ugly symptom of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, because it describes a state of mind that is downright hard to talk about. To watch someone from the outside go through such uncontrollable anger must just look wrong. We have images within us that create this patient, loving, and kind image of a person that we hope to be as mothers.  I know that was my intention upon having children.  However, the “inner monster” that would come out of me during moments where I could not control my environmental triggers had other plans. It would create a panic that would lead to confusion, then frustration. Then, the trigger event happens and then boom….pop goes the mommy.

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Photo Credit New Scientist

I try to think back on all the times that I could feel my friends and family’s eyes on me, as I was triggered by the kids, dog, losing my keys or cell phone, or whatever. It was almost as if, in an instant, I would watch myself from outside my body. Normalcy would give way to rage, rage ended always in guilt, and all throughout this cycle, my inner voice is begging me,

200“Stop it this ISN’T a big deal! Breathe. Just please Breath.”

 

After my episode was over, I would go immediately into the depression cycle over the way I had “behaved” because I should have control over it. I would be so embarrassed for my family, that I’d regularly cry by myself or with my husband for significant periods of time over the next day or so. I’d then chalk it up to a bad day, pick myself up, and tell myself I’d never let it happen again.

But it always did.

The things is, I could not control it. It had its raging claws stuck in my brain, puppeteering me through episodes that could last seemingly for hours.

Thanks to Carolyn Wagner and her post on Motherly on a particularly bad day, I read what seem like a perfect description for what my postpartum symptoms were. I could never solidly say I was depressed or anxious all the time, but one thing I could always rely on, was having an anger button with a hair trigger.

When broken down though, Wagner explains it most perfectly by saying,

“In overwhelmed,  guilt 

I mean, Ding friggin’ ding. In one paragraph, I was given the gift I had always needed…… to feel UNDERSTOOD.

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She goes on to say that it “  

But how can this be? I am a strong woman. I have a support system. I have a great life, with GREAT kids. BUT, none of my friends or family had ever mentioned this type of symptom before. I hadn’t really even seen it as a doula!  I allowed that feeling of abnormality assist in isolating my rage, as I saw myself separate from my peers.  This is what created room for false perception to take over within me. AKA, self- judgement.

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After I peeled myself off the floor in a fit of tears, I immediately shared it on social media with Carolyn’s words still echoing in my head. The feedback was almost instant.

I really am not alone.

This symptom doesn’t go unnoticed, but it does seemingly get brushed under the rug in conversation. I believe it is more taboo because it is ugly, uncomfortable, and well……..angry.  Until now, I had felt that I had part monster inside of me. I even called it “Monster Mommy” while

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Photo from Readers Digest

apologizing to my family after calming down from an episode. Since I have been gifted a jumping off point towards being more informed about Postpartum Rage, I can now start creating awareness of its episodes within myself and with my support system. With this mindful awareness, I can understand what sets me off at it’s core, and avoid getting myself into those situations.

 

In cases where triggers are unavoidable, I have enlisted the help of my husband. As per the article, I would track when and what would set me off. We came up with a code phrase, “you are spinning” to alert my brain to what is about to happen. And, I dare say, it has been a powerful helper. We worked together to find one that wouldn’t cause the trigger to go off more immediately such as “calm down” or “you’re getting upset”   <shutter….jaw clench……okay just breath>

No matter what it is you do, there are a few things I want you to know:

  1. It’s okay. And it is okay to talk about it.  Please know that others need to know that this is a SYMPTOM, which means it can be treated.  You can ask your care provider to help you through this time. But please, have a true discussion about it.
  2. There is help. If you are a partner, friend, or family member of someone and you read this, please know that your partner doesn’t want to have this symptom anymore than you or your kids want her to. So don’t be afraid to ask whoever you can for help with it.
  3. You are loved. Self care is extremely important as parents. So, I am letting you know that  shifting into a self-care routine is vital to managing this. Your loved ones will thank your newfound self-care awareness when you learn how to tell when you need a break before you explode.
  4. A recurring theme of mine is that you’re never alone. Ever. And this is no exception.

                              ….It takes a village.

 

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Kristy is a doula, self-care advocate, struggle-bus rider, and mom of 2 in Virginia

 

Public Places, Crowded Spaces

I used to be really, really laid back.  I was so laid back, in fact, that many of my friends would comment about how much they loved having me around in large groups because I was so “go with the flow.”  When we were making plans, and everyone was trying to make a decision, I would often say, “I’m cool with whatever!”  And I meant it.  This wasn’t one of those, “I’m cool with whatever but then will be miserable with the decision.”  I legit would be happy anywhere with anyone and without complaint.

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Then, I had children.  Many people warned me about the ways we change after we make some miniature versions of ourselves.  For the most part, however, for me at least, they were all false.  I’m mostly the same person I was before kids.  Sure, I am a little feistier than my previous self (mess with my kids and you’ll get to see that lovely side of me).  I am still totally fine with going with the flow when it comes to me and plans with my friends.  However, despite all of the ways in which I didn’t change, I managed to change in the one way no one warned me about when it comes to my kids: Anxiety in Crowded Spaces.

I legit worry about people stealing my children.  All.  Of.  The.  Time.  Before I head into the grocery store?  I look for the various exits to make sure I know where they are in case I need to make a run for it.  In Target?  I eye all of the well-meaning strangers and tell my kids to stay in the cart at all times.  Before heading to a theme park like Disney?  Oh, you don’t even want to know.

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This all came to a peak the day after Thanksgiving this year.  My dear friend had this great idea.  “Let’s go to the Children’s Museum!”  I thought this was awesome.  My kids were excited!  This was a place where you could touch and play with everything.  What could be better?  Right?  Right?!?!?

Y’all.  Everyone and their mothers were there.  I am not exaggerating.  There were so many people there that you could barely move without touching another person.  It was the first time I truly realized that new Mommy-Margo no longer is easy-going and go-with-the-flow in public, crowded places with my children.

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I could feel it happening.  I was getting hot.  I was tense and stressed any time I couldn’t see both of my children in the same spot while one was ducking under an exhibit or running around the corner to go up stairs to a slide.

I managed to hold it all in and not verbally fret over my children, save for the occasional, “Hey, Levi, please stay close to your sister!”  Just because I have turned into the worst-case-scenario lady doesn’t mean my children should suffer, right?

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So, since I am a solution-oriented person, I called my OBGYN.  I was like, “Is it possible for me to have post-partum anxiety STILL?!  Two years later?!?”  She then asked me a bunch of questions, including the most important one, which was, “Does this feeling keep you from doing activities like going to the store or going to the museum or the park with your kids?  Does this feeling keep you from sleeping or eating?”  The answer was a no.  “So,” she said, “what you are feeling is the normal fear we all parents have.  It’s due to the news, and the world, and life.  Having children means worrying about them, too.  If you feel like it’s impairing your ability to do normal things, though, you need to schedule a time to come in and see me.”

So sure, I might be that person who, in preparation for a trip to Disney will write my phone number in sharpie on my children’s arms, put a tracker on their body and dress them in bright colors down to their shoes.  But apparently, it’s ok and I’m not alone.

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(This is not my phone number, but… you get the idea!)

Is this all over the top?  Maybe.  Am I resourceful and prepared?  Hell yea.  I am a planner after all.

If you are having these feelings, remember to be honest with yourself.  If it’s causing problems in your life, there are lots of ways out there to deal with it, and lots of professionals ready, willing and able to help you.  The Postpartum Support International website has lots of great resources – and NO, there is no time-limit on when you are considered “postpartum”.

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And, most of all, remember – you aren’t alone.

 

Pathways picture #3Margo is a financial adviser and mom of 2 little ones in Maryland.

Top 10 Things I’d Go To Black Friday Sales For

I don’t know about you, but I have never been motivated enough by a discount on sheet sets or one-size-bigger TV to get my lazy bum out of bed early the day after the Turkey Day feast. Some of you Black Friday Shoppers are so dedicated, you even brave going out in the midst of your Thursday evening tryptophan coma for the hottest deals! My hat goes off to you.

It got me thinking… what would be enough to get me to race the dawn to snag a hot deal… these, I think, could do it:

  1. Pre-made, healthy meal delivery service. NOT Blue Apron where I still have to make it. NOT take-out where it’s gonna add to my holiday pounds. Actual, home-cooked healthy food that children will eat and adults can enjoy that is delivered ready-to-eat to my doorstep. Heck, I would probably buy this without a discount…
  2. Gift certificates for hair styling at a salon with a daycare attached that serves wine. Book a cut/color, get 2 hrs childcare and a glass of bubbly free! I’m. There.
    woman sitting on the salon chair while holding vodka glass and man at her back white spraying her hair
    “Philippe, just do whatever hairstyle takes the longest… “(Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com)

     

  3. Babysitter hours – I would take any discount that didn’t make me feel guilty here. It’s always a struggle between wanting to support those unfortunate enough to need to take a job watching my children and also not wanting to hemorrhage cash whenever I need to get away.
  4. Stretchy pants that look stylish but feel like pajamas but also suck in all the lumpy parts, with phone-sized pockets. Show me a BOGO (because I’ll need a backup pair when the one is covered in tiny-handprints-of-yogurt and dog hair), and I’m THERE.
  5. While we’re at it, a bra that has the push-up power to take me back to early-first-pregnancy, pre-nursing-any-babies boobs that also feels like a gentle cloud of support, not a medieval torture device. Like, how a friend would hold your boobs up for you in a time of need – not a husband, no grasping or pinching – just a friendly lift. Show me a buy 1 get 1/2 off, and I’ll wait in a line a mile long!
  6. First crack at buying a kid’s toy that makes no noise and teaches children that cleaning the house is the funnest thing ever. This one, I’d camp out for.
  7. The pelvic floor of a 17 year old. Not sure how they’d offer this one at a discount without something super sketchy going on, but I’d go out of my way for it!

    woman doing yoga
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  8. College Tuition for the kids. Helllllp please!!!
  9. A Tesla self-driving car for the price of a Toyota Minivan. No gas station stops? Being able to hand out snacks to kids in the back without risking the lives of our whole family? Watch out people, door-busting this one!
  10. Half off wine… come to think of it, this one probably exists and I’m just too lazy to find the deal. Maybe next year!

Happy shopping or just relaxing mamas!

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Annie is a lazy shopper, mom of 2 girls with another kiddo on the way in California.