Pregnant, MD: What’s Safe in Pregnancy Myth vs Fact, Part 1

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Photo Credit: Fiona Margo Photography

Hey mamas and mamas-to-be! There is a lot of confusing and alarmist information out there on the interwebs about the safety of lots of things everything in pregnancy. We all want to be safe, but also to not be deprived of allofthethings for 9+ months. This post is a quickie guide to set the record straight on some of the most common questions we pregnancy providers get. This, like all my posts, are not ever meant to replace the personal guidance of your own health care provider – when in doubt, as them! I’m breaking this down on the following very non-scientific scale:

Myth – Mostly Myth – Kind of Fact – Mostly Fact- Fact

No Coffee – Myth

Our family lived in Portugal when I was in Kindergarten and first grade, so that was about the time I started drinking coffee. No joke. So, when I was learning about pregnancy, you better believe I looked up all the information on this topic! I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to – even other doctors – who are under the impression people have to stop drinking all caffeine the moment they conceive. That’s just cruel.

My actual face if you told me not to drink coffee while pregnant.

The truth is, The Cochrane Review looked at the research and the best studies have shown no difference in pregnancy outcomes with moderate caffeine intake. What’s “moderate caffeine intake”? About 200mg caffeine daily. That’s one tall Starbucks brewed coffee or an espresso drink with 2 shots. Strong black tea has about 50mg per cup and regular or diet soda (bad for other reasons….but) about 35mg. Energy drinks vary widely – if you want to look up your specific fave bev, check out Caffeine Informer.

No Hot Tubs – Mostly Fact

This one is legit. Studies have shown that raising your core body temperature can increase the risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy and other complications later on in pregnancy. This is true whether it’s a high fever from being sick or you are in a hot tub, sauna, hot yoga, or even hot bath or shower at home.

Does this mean you can’t take a quick hot shower ever? No! You can go in any of these warm environments for a little while. What’s a little while? As soon as you feel hot, break a sweat, or of course if you feel light headed at all, leave and cool off immediately. If you can’t trust yourself to make that judgement, avoid altogether.

No Hair Treatment – Mostly Myth

The old types of hair treatments for dying and perming had toxic chemical derivatives which were potentially dangerous, especially in first trimester of pregnancy.

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Definitely got my hair did before these pics.

Newer dyes should be free of these chemicals and are ok. Highlights that aren’t applied to your scalp are also fine – just stay in a well-ventilated area because your breathing can be more sensitive during pregnancy. Perms and straightening treatments again vary – ask your salon if they offer safe, natural alternatives to the older more harsh treatments. More info HERE on American Pregnancy’s Website.

No Nail Polish – Mostly Myth

You can get your nails did with no worries as long as the salon uses good hygiene practices. One of my favorite midwives from my training at UCSF, Judith Bishop, wrote a great summary HERE on this. Any kind of polish and even fake nails are ok. Beware though – the chemical smells might make your sensitive nose and stomach unhappy!

No Cheese – Mostly Myth

The key here is *pasteurized*. You can get Listeria, a dangerous bacterial infection that can cause miscarriage, from unpasteurized dairy products. Pasteurized cheeses that are within their expiration dates and have been properly stored are fine. Even soft cheeses. Most restaurants should be able to tell you if their cheese is “raw” or pasteurized – if they can’t skip it.

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No Lunchmeat – Kind of Fact

This again is due to Listeria concern. You should avoid lunch meat unless it’s been heating to steaming in the microwave, stovetop or oven. Not sure how you feel about warm lunchmeat, but this preggo is NOT for it! Opt for grilled chicken, tuna salad (no more than 2 servings per week though) or other choice if you don’t like warm sliced meat.

 

No Fish – Kind of Fact

Speaking of tuna…. The main concern with seafood is about mercury. Check out and print yourself THIS PDF from American Pregnancy if you want a quick guide to which fish are “highest mercury” aka, avoid entirely or just “high mercury” aka have no more than 2 small servings weekly or lower and you can enjoy at will.

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

What about sushi?? So, cooked sushi is always ok as long as you are paying attention to mercury issues. Raw sushi *theoretically* should all be flash frozen based on USDA safety regulations and therefore should NOT have the parasites that are of concern in pregnancy. However, you are putting your trust in the sushi fish purchaser and preparer in this care, so approach with caution.

 

 

 

 

No Strenuous Exercise – Mostly Myth

There are no strict guidelines regarding exercise in pregnancy because this is highly variable as to what is safe and normal for YOU. There are elite athletes who’s “norm” is to run 10 miles or lift hundreds of pounds of weights on the regular. There are couch potatoes who get winded walking up a single flight of stairs.

Seriously, though… Exercising in pregnancy is actually key to having a healthy pregnancy, easier delivery, and – get this – fewer stretch marks! The main guide here is how the exercise makes YOU feel. Yes, that’s right, you have to listen to your body. This is not the time to “push through” and override your body telling you it is hot, too winded or  overworked. You will need to be more cautious with yourself because your blood flow is altered, your body shape is changing and your muscles, ligaments and tendons will be affected by relaxin hormone eventually.

No Sex – Mostly Myth

OK, think about it. If having sex while pregnant was dangerous, do you really think humans would have survived this long? A lot of pregnant woman have their libido skyrocket thanks to increased blood flow to the lady parts (though if you don’t that’s nothing to worry about). It is ok and GOOD to have sex if you want to in pregnancy. Get. It. On.

A few words of caution though… If you have pain or bleeding during sex, stop. Have your doctor check you and tell you if it’s safe to continue having intercourse during your pregnancy. And if you’re pregnant and single – you need to be ultra careful about not contracting an STD. They can cause severe birth defects, miscarriage or stillbirth if contracted while you are gestating. Safe sex – good. Unsafe sex – bad.

No Smoking – Fact

This includes ALL smoking. Smoking cigarettes and being exposed to second-hand or even third-hand (if you smell it even though no smoke is around, that’s third-hand smoke) can cause complications in pregnancy. If you are smoking when you conceive, talk to your provider right away about how they can help you quit. If people around you are smokers, same goes. It is NOT sufficient for them to just go outside. If your sensitive sniffer can smell the smoke, you’re being exposed. 

What about pot? It’s legal now and stuff, and doesn’t it help with appetite? NO, not safe in pregnancy. Marijuana has been shown to increase rates of ADHD, anxiety and other cognitive disorders in children who were exposed in utero. Stay away.

No Alcohol – Mostly Fact

Saved the most controversial for last! So, here in the USA, all of the official guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, etc… go along these lines, “There is no amount of alcohol known to be safe in pregnancy”. So, pregnancy providers will tell you to abstain completely from the time of ovulation if you might conceive through birth.

The Royal College of OBGYNs (Britain’s version of ACOG) takes a slightly more relaxed tone, saying “The safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all if you are pregnant, if you think you could become pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. Although the risk of harm to the baby is low with small amounts of alcohol before becoming
aware of the pregnancy, there is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol to drink when you are pregnant”. None of the large studies done recently showed negative effects on the baby or child with having a few drinks per week. However, the risk of preterm birth with alcohol exposure and of the devastating fetal alcohol syndrome makes pregnancy providers approach this with significant caution.

I know you are looking for a straight forward “yes you can have a glass of wine now and then” or “no, alcohol is truly dangerous”. We don’t have that yet. As a health provider, I follow the lines of saying, no amount is safe. As a woman physician, I know a whole lot of doctors who have read the studies and comfortably go ahead and have a drink now and then in the later parts of pregnancy. Ultimately, you’re in charge of making that decision for yourself and your unborn. Think about whether the anxiety when your kid seems hyper at age 3 that maybe they have subtle effects because you had a glass of wine at that dinner party is manageable vs the benefit you’ll really get from said glass of wine. You should for SURE never get drunk or even tipsy – that’s a no-brainer.

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Photo Credit: Fiona Margo Photography

What else?

This is why I called this Part 1… Please, comment away with questions, Myths you want busted, funny examples of crap your mother in law told you was unsafe in pregnancy! Part 2 will be based on your input. Whatcha wanna know??

Dr. Annie is a married mom of 2 with 1 more on the way (bump captured by Fiona Margo in the above pics, if you’re in the PNW look her up!!) and family physician in California.

At Home with Christiana: Thinking about that third baby?

As incredibly proud and crazy parents of three little ones, my husband and I have been surprised at how frequently we are asked about the transition from two to three children by families expecting or considering a third child.

What’s it like going from two kids to three?

How is the transition? Is it THAT bad?

Now, aside from wanting to throw my head back and laugh hysterically. Here’s what I would say to you if I had enough time sleep brainpower remaining to think through my answer…

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Life with Three Kids: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: Confident Parenting with built-in helpers

There are clearly any number of absolutely joyful and miraculous things about bringing a baby into your family, regardless if it’s your first or fifth. Here’s what we found were the strong points of our ‘third baby’ transition.

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  • Your other kids already have a companion

Your first child had no one else play with but you when you brought home newborn child #2. In my case, I breastfed our babies. Trying to actively engage our first child (who was still a toddler in his own right) while simultaneously nursing our new baby was a big challenge for me. With baby #3, I found this aspect of the transition much easier. My two older boys were already happy to ignore me for blocks of time while playing legos or dress up with each other, so playing together while I was nursing or tending to baby #3 wasn’t a huge deal for them.

 

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  • No only-child adjustment

The change from “only child” is non-existent for your first two kids when you bring home baby #3. Your second child came into this world sharing the spotlight with his/her sibling, and your first child is already settled into the role of big brother or sister. Of course, every child is different, but I have observed among our family and friends that adding the third child is less of of a shock, than it was bringing home #2 for the first-born who enjoyed a window of time as your only child.

 

  • Not your first rodeo

With baby #3, I was much more confident in my abilities to notice problems and make the right decisions for my baby’s well-being (OK I still had Dr. Annie on speed-dial, but maybe less frequently.). You have a lot more experience going into your third baby, and it made me more self-assured as a mother and I was more comfortable trusting my instincts.

 

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  • You have a little helper

Your oldest has a few more years under their belt and is capable of being a much bigger help this go-round. Having a big enough kid to hand-feed their sibling puffs in the back seat of the car is. priceless.

  • Baby-weight schmaby-weight

I remember being completely terrified of my postpartum body the first time around. Would I ever be the same?! Is this even me?! Whose boobs are THESE!?

By baby #3, you know your body can and will rebound from pregnancy. Plus, you won’t have time to sit down or eat an actual meal anyway. So it often comes off fast. Trust me.

The bad: Tardy multi-tasker

I hesitate to even use the word “bad” here, and I’m not saying by any stretch of the imagination that having three children is any way bad. To the contrary, I think having three little people is total awesome-sauce.  BUT,  if we are being real here, I think we can all agree that there are some situations that you just don’t feel good about when they happen, in fact you feel rather bad. And these situations mentioned below, I have found to occur more often with three or more children in tow. Just keeping it real.

  • The call of nature will sabotage your on-time arrival, anywhere.

Someone will need to poo at the exact moment you need to leave the house.  I’m serious. Every. time. Just go ahead and set your alarm to leave  a few minutes earlier, it won’t matter. They’ll wait. And they’ll still “haaaaave to go!” at the time of departure. Nature: 1. On-time arrivals as a family of five: 0. Just don’t fight it.

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“Must be time to pick up my brother!”
  • Someone will nap when and only when you have to pick up or drop off another child.

This is enough to make a sleep-deprived parent of three want to put their head through a wall. But it’s infuriatingly true. The ability of your third baby to set their nap schedule to directly conflict with your other children’s schedules is uncanny.

  • Referee, shoes, snacks… and baby 

You will have to do everything for baby #3  that you did with baby #1 and baby #2, except you will now need to do it while either (1) refereeing your other children;  (2) frantically looking for your other children’s shoes; or (3) making a snack. No exceptions.

The Ugly: Exhausted germaphobe

  • NO. SLEEP.

For me, the ugliest part of adding baby #3 was lack of sleep. If you have your children close together, (ours are each 2 years apart) you still have little people that may have trouble sleeping through the night, or need reassurance that they are still your babies too (which often, for us, translated to mommy or daddy hugs and tuck-ins at random hours of the night). There’s no way to make it easy, but if you can try to remember that it will pass rather quickly, and even better if you have a partner or family member that can help alternate/take shifts, you will get through. Take any ALL of the freezer meals and offers to walk to your dog or pick up your other kids. It really takes a village, especially when you’re running a three child circus.

  • School germ-warfare

With baby #3, you will have two germ-covered angels coming from school or daycare everyday sharing a home with your new baby. You will, without a doubt, look down to help one child with a shoe/band-aid/tissue/whatever and look up to see your other child’s germ-covered finger/backpack strap/shoe-lace in your baby’s mouth. You can no longer run man-to-man defense. You just can’t. This sent me into complete germa-phobe mode. I surrounded our baby with bottles of sanitizer and shouted “pump before you touch!!” like a crazy-lady.  And sometimes no matter what you do, baby will get colds, (and no one will sleep) but all you can do is your best. And in the meantime buy sanitizer for your car, your purse, their backpacks, and every room in your house.

Did you know James Corden and Stephen Colbert both have three kids? They do. And they sum up the transition from two kids to three with incredible accuracy and humor here. If you or anyone you know is even thinking about baby three… Watch. This. First.

In sum: We are crazy. But happy. Usually.

Life with three kids is crazy, messy and busy, but it’s also beautiful, amazing, and (usually) really happy too.  Watching our boys dote on and care for their little sister makes our heart explode on the daily. (When they’re not beating each other it turns out they can be kind of sweet?!?) The dynamic of three kids is really special (and mostly fun) already and we can’t wait to see it grow.

Your hands will always be full, but so will your heart.

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fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

 

Kristy and Christiana’s Friday Guide to the Royal Wedding Couch-gate

I mean, who over the age of 30 hasn’t thought, at least once, that  “All Prince Harry or William has to do is meet me. We’ll fall in love, and I’ll be a real PRINCESS”?  We know as sure as there are biscuits at tea that we have. We all watched them grow up and witnessed the loss of their incredible Mother, Princess Di. We all fell in love with them and wanted to be there for them in those moments. It never mattered which one, we were in it for the long haul. We just KNEW that one of them would fall in love with an American girl. Knew it, knew it, knew it. (We were always on team Harry, for the record.)

Meghan and Harry

And boy, DID HE! Meghan Markle…(“Marks”, can we call her Marks? I think so.) I mean look, even we are in love with her! Not only is she eloquent and beautifully spirited, she’s also a badass brave advocate for women! She’s INCREDIBLE! Annie said it best, “our only problem with her being princess, is that SHE CAN’T RUN FOR PRESIDENT!” Come onnnnn Marks. Killing us.

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Windsor Castle, the Royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire and the 2018 Royal Wedding venue

So ladies and gents, it is upon us. The world-wide shattering of hearts that shall happen this Saturday at midday in Windsor. The last single royal gets hitched, and simulatensouly crushes all our hopes and dreams of Kristy Wright, Princess of Wales. (cause we know all of you were rooting me on)

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The official invites, image via HuffPost (since ours was misplaced)

Something clearly went awry and our invites were seemingly lost in the mail. So what shall we do to celebrate? Well, Christiana and I will be waking promptly at 4am to make a pitcher of mimosas, strap on obnoxiously large hats, partake in scones and crumpets, and roll that live wedding coverage. Who are we kidding, we have kids, we’ll probably be up anyway because…what is sleep? And how can we even be mad? He’s marrying the freaking MARKS!

Sound like your bag? Well hold on to your crumpets, people. Here’s what you need to know to get your princess on TOMORROW MORNING. Call your friends. Buy bubbles and OJ. Premake (or buy) your scones, crumpets, and whatever other British breakfast tickles your fancy.  We want to support having tea, but at 4 am, let’s be real. We’ll be fumbling for our coffee. Sorry, Harry.

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Coverage begins at 4am Eastern time. (Sorry, you guys on the west coast are screwed.) Guests arrive from 9:30-11 London time and Prince Hot Ginger (“PHG” if you feel me) arrives at 11:30 (6:30 am eastern), so you best be watching by then. The ceremony starts at noon, followed by the carriage ride around Windsor from 1-2. Husbands, get on board. This is like the longest and classiest tailgate ever, just deal.

We’re rolling out these blueberry scones per Sally’s Baking Addiction and attempting these crumpets from the Beeb. (Thats the BBC for the layperson). Also, it’s been reported that the queen mother has a glass of Champagne every day, so I feel obliged to include some bubbly mimosas in this royal feast. You know, for Liz.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images, Town and Country Magazine

Royal protocol also dictates hats for you ladies. (I don’t care if you are still in your pajamas. Look, I don’t make the rules!) Don’t you remember all the crazy hats that turned up at Will and Kate’s wedding?! (Like “nooooo Beatrice and Eugenie!”) The hats were really almost more famous than the swath of international celebs. Learn more about appropriate headwear in this video from the Washington Post.

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Speaking of celebs, be prepared to keep your eyes peeled for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (AKA Will and Kate – new parents to baby #3, woop!), the Beckhams, Elton John and maybe even the Clooneys.  So put on your hat, pour yourself a good pot of coffee, serve your warm crumpets and have yourself a merry Royal Wedding Couch-gate. We’re all rooting for you Marks! Cheerio!

P.S. Follow us on twitter @lockerstolittles for a photo recap of said couch-gate.

 

18835945_10103938084553859_8628446883750688728_nKristy is a married mom of 2, doula, massage therapist, and dedicated crossfitter with a passion of healing the human body and mind in Virginia, and closet anglophile. She co-wrote this with Christiana, the unofficial authority on all things Royal.

 

Kristy, Au Naturale: Weight Loss Journey, A Hard Life Lesson in Transformation.

I am not even sure where to begin with this post. I’ve asked myself a million times whether or not it is a good idea to post about my weight loss journey. The answer is always the same. Yes. Because it ISN’T about weight.

It’s about the journey.

I was always playing sports growing up, so I never really thought about weight. Being genetically predisposed to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity never ever crossed my mind.  As I got older, and the metabolism started to decrease, I began to take notice. Then….. I had kids.

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After I had my first little one, Christiana and I decided to sign up for a half marathon. Super ambitious goals are the only goals!! “Sure I can run 13.1 miles 8 months postpartum. I’ll just train my ass off, lose all the baby weight, and feel FABULOUS, right?”

EHHHHHHHHH (cue game show buzzer noise)

So so so so wrong. All that training and I lost ZERO pounds or inches. ZERO. I also ended up hurting my hip flexor pretty badly during that race because…hello...cross training is necessary when training properly for long distance running.

It was then that my metabolism came crashing screetched to a halt. I was eating all the food and drinking all the beverages. And it was then that my body image started to wain. An increase in scale weight and clothing size caused a HUGE decrease in self worth for me.

<Depression enter stage left>

Depression set in pretty hard. It was soon after that I spent a majority of my days in tears, not feeling worthy of any kind of love. OK, I know what you’re thinking,

“weight shouldn’t have anything to do with that…. society….. diets… magazines….. women are predisposed to unhealthy mindsets due to having their bodies objectified and sexualized in our faces since we were little and it shouldn’t affect them….”

Yup….all that.  All of the yeps. But I still hated myself for letting myself get to a place that I hated myself, perpetuating a vicious negative feedback loop.

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210 lbs, size 18 my heaviest

Fast forward to my daughter being born. With little #2, I never slept. She was up every 45 minutes of her life for the entire. first. year. I cannot get back all the wasted time on social media looking at photos like the one above and seeing someone I didn’t even recognize. It became impossible to see any happiness in my life. I was being blinded by how disgusting I thought I looked. I couldn’t see the beauty in the way my daughter is looking at me in this photo. The joy radiating from her sweet little face…

<Cue second bout of depression and self loathing>

It was then that my husband, bless that sweet man, had HAD IT!

“I want you to see what the children and I see, so I used my Christmas bonus and signed you up for the on-track class at the closest Crossfit. It’s already paid for….you’re going”

<jaw drop……anxiety sweat dripping>

Walking through the doors that day in January of 2015 changed the course of the rest of my life.

Through education, HARD WORK, team commoradory, nutrition challenges and changes (we went mostly paleo), and push from my family…. I started to feel worthy of this change. The weight loss started happening slowly, then once my diet changed, my metabolism that had been seemingly dormant for 4 years decided to wake up!

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3 months after beginning Crossfit, was down 15 lbs and SO MUCH HAPPIER already.

Suddenly, I could do stuff. Pull-ups (albeit assisted but WHO F$*&ing cares I was doing PULLUPS) pushups, deadlifts, stuff I had never even thought I’d be capable of.

Pretty soon, I found myself at a 55 lbs weight loss.  FIFTY FIVE POUNDS!

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155lbs

But….was I truly happy? Well, I went from hating my body, to becoming OBSESSED with it. I spent every moment I had thinking about workouts and how I needed to get there and see the people that had become my friends, my lifeline. I would get anxiety about every workout everyday.  And if I missed one, I’d have anxiety that I’d lost all the fitness I had worked so hard to get. Every day I’d miss dinner, and homework, and family time to work on this new body of mine. I looked for my self worth and validation for missing those things in every “you look amazing!”, from people that I heard. I found physical validation in others finding me attractive, since I had spent so long feeling hideous. In other words, my mental health battle had just begun.

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Thinnest here at 152 lbs size 8

I kept getting thinner and thinner. Skipping breakfast, drinking protein shakes instead of lunch (mainly because the anxiety for the workout that day would leave me nauseated), and only having an appetite for dinner after the workout. My coaches even noticed and talked to me about my weight. They weren’t happy.

It was shortly after this that I started having panic attacks. Undiagnosed depression and anxiety had gotten the best of me. With the up and down extremes, using weight loss and working out as the only escape, it became hard to even notice that I had lost myself and the person I was. I was no longer the carefree woman my husband married. The thing that made me happiest at that point, was now my greatest source of angst and pain.

Life threw us a giant kick in the ass when my son started losing interest in school. We started having emails and notes home from his teacher that he was way behind and not able to focus in school. Essentially, we took him to the gym and came home and put him in front of his homework or the television and talked about crossfit in the kitchen.

ROCK….BOTTOM…..PARENTING………FAIL……..<cue more self loathing>

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That woke me up to just how bad my mental state had gotten. I looked for validation at the expense of everyone but me.

My supportive (you know who you beauties are) friends and family took me aside, and told me that they loved me, but it had been as if they’d lost me to crossfit and crossfit people for two years at this point. So I changed….

I refocused my awareness on healthily eating, (whatever I wanted…not following a specific limited diet) being okay with skipping workouts and only going three days a week and NEVER in the evenings. We reinstalled family dinner around the table, and no television during the weekdays. And the biggest factor was that I asked for help. That help saved my sanity, just as Crossfit had saved my health two years earlier.

This is yesterday

The scale went up, but guess what….so did my performance in the gym. I still crossfit and I still think it’s the greatest exercise for me. My husband does it now, too!

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holla at yo boy

I ended up pulling away from the obsession, and have maintained a healthier weight for my body, mind, and life balance ever since. Anxiety is something I still struggle with daily, but the self awareness actualizes true coping, instead of filling and fueling it with old habits and relationships.

My point in writing this story is to show that, while I may have felt skinny and awesome in some ways, I hadn’t truly healed myself. I live a life nowwhere I am so much happier, showing my daughter that I have a little weight to me, but it comes with greater strength. She can see all that Mommy can do. I can balance now. And I hope to inspire her to adopt this motto: Strong is the new skinny.  Strength, balance,  SELF LOVE, and happiness have been the end goals to this journey and will continue to be. For now, when you ask me what my weight is in the above photos, I will answer this way,

” 155# deadlift for 100 reps, 75# on the barbel for the rest of the 200 reps. And guess what, I threw that damn scale out the window……..”

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Dr. Yoni Freedhoff

18835945_10103938084553859_8628446883750688728_n Kristy is a married mom of 2, doula, massage therapist, and dedicated crossfitter with a passion of healing the human body and mind in Virginia.

Why I love bats, and why you will too.

Call me crazy, but I find myself obsessing over bats. They are my favorite mammals, other than my cat, for several reasons.

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The best reason ever is that they can eat over 1200 Mosquitos an hour and can consume their body weight in insects every night! That’s right. Stupid, disease carrying, biting, poopy mosquitoes. BUHBYEEEEE

They are also great pollinators! So at night when they are flying around, they are pollinating your area so that the ecosytem can be maintained. Thank you fruit bats!

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Thirdly…they freaking ECHOLOCATE! Not all species of bats do. Fruit bats, for instance don’t echolocate at all. It is said that in a light rain, they can navigate through the raindrops(I don’t care if this is true or not), but if it is then they are basically superheroes. They are the only mammals whose front limb has adapted into a wing and are capable of true flight! And boy, are they awesome to watch at dusk dive-bombing to find all those dumb mosquitos. DIE MOSQUITOS…actually, don’t cause then the bats would leave.

Before you FREAK OUT and go all “count Dracula” horror movie about bats, yes I know they can be freaky looking. They sleep upside down for goodness sake! But take some time to consider that, yes while vampire bats do exists, they do not “suck blood”. They lap it up. Ok ok ok, calm down! I know that isn’t any better. But unless you’re in South America where some bats have been seen to be lapping up blood from a cow or goat here and there, you’re fine. (sorry South American cows)

Ok now that I’ve convinced you of their awesomeness, lets look at how to attract bats to your property.

Bat houses

Make the bats feel welcomed! Build a bat house using plywood or cedar. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house. Bat houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Keep the temperature between 85-100 degrees F, as bats prefer a warmer climate. To ensure this, place the bat house in a location facing the sun for the afternoon hours.  NO TREES as they are more susceptible to predators in a tree as well as too much shade.  To give ample enough room for the bats to drop before they take flight, put your bat house at least 15 feet up in the air. An east or west facing chimney is an ideal place.

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Cool, right?

Food and Water

Now that you’ve invited them home, give them food and a water source. Bird baths work well as ponds. Planting night blooming flowers can attract nocturnal garden insects, which, in turn, attracts bats! Marigolds, Dahlias, and Thyme are all good plant examples!

Screw you wasps

Make sure you check your house regularly so that you are not just making a home for bees, wasps, or hornets. Also check your house for holes before you put up your bat house! Seal and fill them as best you can. Bats can fit into a hole the size of a quarter, and we want to prevent cohabitation! After all, this roommate stays up ALL NIGHT!

Rabies

Yes, bats can carry rabies. But you’re more likely to have an encounter with a nasty raccoon or skunk than a bat. After all, they are way better at avoiding you with their echolocation than you are with your human eyes and ears. Plus, the benefit way outweighs the risk in my opinion, knowing that less than 1% of the bat population actually carry rabies. 2014-wildlife-us

Ok, so have I convinced you yet? Bats…do it…you’ll thank me later when you can enjoy your back porch without the Zika virus. Plus look how cute they can be!

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At Home with Christiana: Best Fitness Apps

Fitness is something that has always been a part of my life. From junior athletics to marathon running to postpartum recovery, fitness is a major source of stress relief, confidence, and balance in my life. So while a day in the life of home renovating and chasing little people is almost always a workout in some form, my personal fitness is something I work very hard to prioritize. For me.giphy4

We all know by now the countless benefits of exercise (if not, read up!) but sometimes LIFE HAPPENS and getting to the gym just doesn’t. Parent or not, sometimes just adulting feels like sabotage to your fitness routine. Then add the schedules of 1, 2, or 3 little people that have little no regard for your agenda, and well, you get the picture. Client meeting runs late and you miss your spin class. Baby changes her nap schedule and you miss yoga by 5 f&*ing minutes. Ugh. “Namaste!”  Luckily, for days like these, technology is here to literally save our asses. Praise to the Fitness Apps.

Fitness apps have been a game changer for me because they allow me to get a serious workout in whenever and wherever I choose. No gym, no trainer, nobody else’s schedule but mine. Even multiple little people can’t sabotage these – there is a pause button for diaper changes, (because sh*t happens) and frankly, babies make great kettle bell substitutes for those walking lunges.  Also, no one is around to judge me for drinking coffee during my morning yoga session. #mommasrules

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In sum, fitness apps are totally awesome! With one caveat. Apps are definitely a realm where not all are created equal, but don’t despair if you’ve struck out in the past.  I have included my three favorite, time-tested apps below.  They won’t let you down.

Best Strength/Cross Training App: Nike Training Club

Nike Training Club (NTC) is my go-to app for at-home cross-training. NTC features a wide variety of workouts designed by pro athletes and celebrity trainers (oh heeeey Ronaldo, I see you). Ranging in intensity and activity level, these workouts can get straight up hardcore.  I love that this app allows you to select a workout based on a number of criteria. Only got 15 minutes? There are workouts for that. No equipment on hand? There are workouts for that, too. Want to target a certain stubborn body part or muscle group? There are PLENTY of workouts for that.

Another great feature is you can play your own music without interfering with the app’s audio cues. Because NO ONE likes doing burpees in silence. No one. New workouts are uploaded pretty regularly so I have yet to get bored. You can also set up 4-8 week personalized plans via the app that provide you with workouts in the order and frequency you should do them based on your personal inputs. This app really gives you everything you need to get a serious sweat on. So get after it!

Cost: Free

Great for: Strength training, beginners to serious athletes

Best Yoga App: Yoga Studio by Gaiam

Anyone who spends the majority of their week surrounded by little people who have yet to develop the concept of ‘personal space’ can use a little zen. But sometimes a lot of the time your yoga studio’s schedule won’t jive with yours, your kids stay home sick, or you just plain sleep in. Fear not. Gaiam’s Yoga Studio is a great app that can bring the Om at home, on vacation, in the backyard… anywhere. Time to get those yoga pants doing some actual yoga, y’all.

I will be the first to say that I am picky about yoga, and I think this app does a great job of channeling the calming vibe of a studio class via your wireless device.  You can download a wide variety of pre-made classes and meditations (more of our thoughts on meditation here if you missed it) ranging from 5 minutes to over an hour that target specific muscle groups or problem areas (such as lower back pain, yoga for runners),  or a particular mood (strength, Relaxation, AM/PM). Or you can create your own custom classes too. The one-hour Relaxation class is a personal favorite in our household. After the kids go to bed, light a candle, roll out your mat, (maybe pour that glass of wine, because why not? You’re at home!) Annnnd enjoy some well-earned savasana.  You won’t regret it.

Cost: $1.99/month or $19.99 annually

Great for: All levels of  yoga 

Best Running App: Map my Run by Under Armor

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Running for me currently goes one of two ways…  either the stars align and I get a glorious solo run while someone else watches the kiddos OR I’ve loaded up the jogging stroller with kids, snacks, blankets, water bottles and goodness knows what else. Either way, I just want to GO before something goes wrong. I don’t want to worry about creating a route, monitoring my pace or distance, or fidget with a bunch of settings on my devices.

Enter: Map my Run. I can load saved routes with a touch of one button or simply “start workout” and go. All while my distance and pace and calories are reliably monitored and saved to track progress. You can add notes to your run once it’s completed (like perhaps “double stroller into the wind” or “goldfish spilled”) so you can track your training performance without trying to remember why you had a couple really off pace days.

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You can also connect with your running buddies/family members that use the app to encourage each other along the way, which is especially fun if you’re training for an event together, even long distance, or just for added support.  That “NICE RUN, BUDDY!!!” text from your partner never, ever gets old.

Cost: Free

Great for: Running/walking/biking, tracking outdoor routes, race training

I hope these apps are as helpful for some of you to maintain or even begin your fitness regimen as they have been for me.  Shout out with your favorites if you have some to add!  Now go get you some Om. Cheers!

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View More: http://taraliebeckphotography.pass.us/homecoming123

Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

At Home with Christiana: Grout redemption!

As a follow up to my earlier backsplash post (more on that here if you missed it), I want to highlight a quick fix for what can be a frustrating aspect of a backsplash project, or of tile anywhere for that matter. Grout. Like the constantly dingy-looking, never comes clean, “I think it used to be white but now it’s just gross” grout.

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You can fudge up grout color in a project, or you can simply inherit some yucky stuff with your house. Either way, I. HEAR. YOU. And I am here to help you fix it! Once and for all. In one afternoon. (Don’t worry, this is not a “magic” cleaning method involving a tootbrush and too much of your time. Whole lotta nope.) Welcome to your grout redemption!!

Let me explain how I got to this point. We had awesome marble basket-weave tile floors installed in our hall bath, which is primarily used by our kids, buuut is also frequently used by guests since it is located in our front hall. (Basically, it is not a room you can just close the door and pretend doesn’t exist.) We chose light gray grout for the installation based on the package color sample. Which looked great. Until it dried. And our “light gray” grout was in fact not gray at all but… drumroll please… white. Womp, womp. Who wants to clean white grout in a kids’ bathroom? That’s right, no one. We weren’t pumped, we didn’t get the contrast we wanted from gray grout, but okaaaay we thought, it’s not awful. (Not yet.)

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Noooo! We white-grouted our bathroom floor!

Buuuut, fast forward through potty training two little boys, 1,000 grimy kid (and dog) baths, and SURPRISE! The grout was no longer an okay white-ish color. In fact, it never looked clean, and most of the time was a shade of icky beige which made our very recently installed floors look old and dingy. SHOOT.

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These guys make a mess?! No way…

After I discovered became obsessed with DeLorean Gray grout and used it on pretty much all of our other projects, I had a hard time refraining from adult tantrums about our bathroom floor situation. I actually contemplated re-grouting the whole floor until I figured out that for starters, it would entail chipping old grout out of approximately 5 million tiny joints with an itty bitty diamond coated blade. Uhhh no. 

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Fade-Resistant and available in something like 40+ colors. This stuff is legit!

I had pretty much given up when I stumbled upon Grout Renew during an early morning hardware store run. And praise to all the high powers it was available in Delorian Gray. For less than $20. Um, excuse me. Whaaaat?  I was pretty sure that it was too good to be true and most likely wouldn’t work, but what the heck did I have to lose?

So, that afternoon, my husband I found ourselves with a napping baby and two fairly distracted children and decided to give it a shot.  Per the package, you simply apply the solution evenly to all of your grout joints with a toothbrush, wait 30-60 minutes and wipe off. Easy peasy, right??

Actually yes, with one caveat.  Work in small sections and work quickly. Make sure you wipe your tile before the solution dries, which happened way faster than we expected.  DO NOT ATTEMPT this project when your children are only fairly distracted and might want a snack, OR when a certain baby might wake from nap time early. (Say, our whole lives right now.) Set your timer for 30 minutes and attach it to your person. Getting distracted and missing your clean-up time can derail this project in a major way and leave you with our pretty little situation below. But don’t worry, even that can be fixed.

 

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Dang nap time sabotage!

While scary, even the holy-crap-there-is-dry-grout-paint-everywhere situation was not unsolvable! Just way more difficult than it needed to be. (Luckily you have us to try out the more difficult route for you. You’re welcome!) But really, just a lot of extra scraping with One of these multi-tools (which I recommend everyone have on hand for clean up after any and all paint, tile, adhesive, anything projects), and the tiles cleaned up perfectly.  No more icky yellowish-white grout! Instead, perfect, easy-to-clean gray. Fist pump.

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After Grout Renew: Clean and gray!

In sum, use this stuff! Just don’t don’t make the same mistake we did.   (Unless of course you want to skip your arm workout and scrub tiles instead…) Here’s to happy grout!