Fitness Journey, Mom Life, Pregnancy Journey

Update: Exclusively Breastfeeding (EBF) & Postpartum Weight Check

This blog post is long overdue; sorry not sorry. I am enjoying these precious moments home with our little baby boy. I know all to well the truth in the saying, ‘They do not stay little for long’. It’s the bitter sweet reality of motherhood and parenting. You find out the exciting news that you are pregnant and the time seems to take forever as your body changes over the course of 9 months. Nearing the end you grow even more impatient on your little one’s arrival as the growing pains increase and the due date nears. Once they arrive you are mesmerized by their being. Yet, with each day they grow older and milestones continue. Soon they start walking and talking. Then they start running and before you know it they are ready to start school (Kindergarten).

We take for granted these moments. Time stands still for no one. I am soaking in all the cuddles I can get before our little one grows too big that I can’t cradle him in my arms. Today marks his 25th day here in this world and that also means day 25 of exclusively breastfeeding (EBF). I am here to debunk the myth that breastfeeding is easy. Yes, it is natural, but far from easy. Most women give up on breastfeeding within 21 days after delivery. I believe that breast is best and I was determined to make this work for us. Day 25 and we are successfully making it happen. Yes, it is exhausting: nurse, pump, eat, sleep, and repeat (my life story).

EBF has been the main reason why I have been M.I.A from blogging. Blogging definitely becomes pretty difficult now that I have a baby laid across my lap and chest, rather than my macbook. Always, check in with me on social media if you want to stay updated. I have been posting more on IG and Twitter. I definitely promise to work blogging back into my schedule. I have so many topics that I am excited to share with you all.

~

Postpartum Weight Check:Prior to delivery, my last recorded weight on 5/8/19 was 180.6 lbs. I delivered on 5/11/19. Above you can see my progress pictures prior to and after delivery. At 6 days PP I weighed in at 166 lbs. By 12 days PP I weighed in at 161 lbs. If you look back at my initial post, Weekly Weigh-In Pregnancy Edition: https://fitlifewitherica.com/2019/02/28/wednesday-weekly-weigh-in-pregnancy-edition/ my pre-pregnancy weight was recorded at 163 lbs [documented on 8/19/18].

I am so amazed at how quickly I was able to reach my pre-pregnancy weight and even loose an additional few pounds. I definitely give credit to the fact that I am breastfeeding (burns calories). While, I am taking in an additional 500 calories daily in order to keep my supply up I am efficiently burning calories. All of this progress has been made without exercising. I really have not found the time to fit exercise back into my schedule yet. When I say ‘exercising’ I mean actual workouts and running. Right now I am just staying active by walking which is better than nothing. For those of you that know me, you know that keeping moving is a priority to me.

Tonight, I weigh in at 159.4 lbs. I am not too focused on the scale numbers. Since I am EBF I do not plan on making any drastic dieting cuts. It is important that I am consuming enough calories daily in order to maintain and support my milk supply. However, I still have fitness goals to be achieved. My goal is to become leaner and strength train. Over the course of the next few months I will be focusing more on reducing visceral fat and building muscle. I have some love handles that I would like to see gone and in order to make that happen the visceral fat has to go.

Fitness Tip:

Reduce the visceral fat prior to building muscle [muscle gains do not look good over fat]

I will continue to keep you all updated on my fitness journey and goals. Please continue to follow for updates, as well as other great content as it relates to: Motherhood, Fitness, Health, and Life.

FLWE ❤

Fitness Journey, Health

Health Tip Tuesday: 5 Reasons to Avoid Eating Late at Night

If you are struggling with weight loss you may be over looking an impacting factor. Ask yourself: When are you having your last meal of the day? Do you find that you are snacking after dinner?

You should have a eating window set and an established cut off time at night after your last meal. Data collected from animals and night-shift workers correlate that those who eat late suffer from what they call, “night eating syndrome“. “Studies tend to show that when food is consumed late at night — anywhere from after dinner to outside a person’s typical sleep/wake cycle — the body is more likely to store those calories as fat and gain weight rather than burn it as energy, says Kelly Allison of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders” (Allen, 2015).

Data collected suggests that overall the body processes food differently throughout the day. This can be a result of, but not limited to: digestion, body temperature, hormone levels, and physical activity (Allen, 2015).

While eating late at night often prompts weight gain it can also raise your blood sugar. The spiking of blood sugar levels has been linked to raising the risks of other chronic diseases. Often, night time cravings consists of higher calorie foods/snacks (sugary or salty cravings). It is recommended to avoid late night snacking and this can be successfully done through training your not only your body but yourself. Change your mindset if you are seeking to change your current lifestyle (Allen, 2015).

5 Reasons to Avoid Eating Late at Night:

  1. Altered Hormone Function: Consuming food late at night alters your hormone function, specifically- insulin, glucagon and leptin.
  2. Increased Inflammation: Calories consumed between the hours of 7 pm and midnight have been linked to an increased C-Reactive protein, which is a indication of inflammation.
  3. Impaired Blood Sugar Regulation: Insulin produced as a result of the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels throughout the day is least efficient at night. Consuming food and/or snacks that have a high-glycemic index will increase your blood sugar and impair your body’s ability to regulate your levels, resulting in increasing your risk of other chronic diseases.
  4. Increased Weight Gain: Eating late at night is linked to weight gain because the disruption of our circadian clock in our fat tissues are disrupted when consuming foods late into the night. As a result, the body is prompted to store fat rather than burn it. The body is less active at night as it attempts to slow down for the night, as triggered by our bodily clock.
  5. Elevated Triglycerides and Cholesterol: Eating outside of our circadian cycle has an impact on how our body metabolizes lipids, resulting in elevated levels.

Knowing the effects of eating late prompted a change within our family as we are all on our fitness journey. It required us to change our schedule and be consistent in our commitment. Our household enjoys dinner together each night between the hours of 5:00 – 6:00 pm. It only takes on average about two weeks to build a habit and this is a standard that we have set. We avoid eating outside of our dinner window and my husband Andrew is so strict that he will fast if he finds that eating would put him outside of our set eating window. If your schedule does not permit you to eat dinner early, adjustments will need to made to work around this. You can not use your schedule as an excuse. It is true that people find the time and dedication to do what they chose to do. If you are looking to live a more healthier lifestyle you have to want it and make the appropriate changes as needed.

Recommendations:

In the effort to minimize nighttime eating I recommend that you commit to a time window for eating. Set a time in which you will break your morning fast from the night before (breakfast= break-fast) and a time in which you will begin your fast at night (last meal of the day-dinner). If you do find that you have a hunger urge outside of your eating window replace high glycemic food/snack options with smaller and high-protein snacks (I.e. eggs, nuts, yogurt).

I encourage everyone reading this post to share your experiences in the comment section. Are you currently battling with eating late? Is weight gain a concern of yours? Is obesity effecting your health? How do you feel? Your testimony can help someone. My primary focus is to build a community around my blog but this is only possible with the help of all of my followers and readers.

Be sure to follow my Facebook page, Fit Life With Erica in order to connect with myself and others on their fitness journey.

FLWE ❤

References:

Allen, J. V. (2015, August 24). Why eating late at night may be particularly bad for you and your diet. Retrieved April 8, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-eating-late-at-night-may-be-particularly-bad-for-you-and-your-diet/2015/08/24/ad8b85ac-2583-11e5-b77f-eb13a215f593_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a8f4bd12bf7a

Clark, C. (2018, July 11). Is it Bad to Eat at Night? 6 Reasons to Avoid Nighttime Meals and Snacks. Retrieved April 8, 2019, from https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/is-it-bad-to-eat-at-night-6-reasons-to-avoid-nighttime-meals-and-snacks/

Food

Sunday Meal Prep: Shrimp & Chicken Alfredo w/ Broccoli

Broccoli side not pictured

Menu Items:

  • Shrimp
  • Chicken
  • Alfredo Pasta
  • Broccoli

I have been craving pasta and shrimp for a few weeks now so I decided last week that I would plan a meal prep around my cravings as I approach my final weeks of pregnancy. When planning my meals I always try to select food items that I will most likely not get tired of throughout the week and meal prep time is important for me as well. I am not for spending hours in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove. Alfredo is a convenient meal that I can just warm up servings of throughout the week.

Disclaimer: If you are following a low carb or no carb diet this meal idea is not for you.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Frozen Cooked Shrimp
  • Penne Noodles (or Noodles of your choice)
  • Parmesan Romano Cheese
  • Ragu Classic Alfredo sauce (use as needed to supplement sauce if needed)
  • Heavy Cream
  • Salted Butter
  • Broccoli
  • Seasonings: Italian, Basil, Garlic Salt, Pepper, Old Bay

Prep Time: 30 minutes

When making my Alfredo I basically prepare my own sauce using cheese, butter, and heavy cream. I season it to my liking and supplement with Ragu classic Alfredo sauce if needed to stretch my sauce. I had originally intended to steam my broccoli and mix it into my Alfredo but completely forgot and missed this step. This week I will have my broccoli on the side, topped with grated parmesan.

Are you meal prepping this week? If so, what have you prepared? Comment below-

Food

Sunday Meal Prep: Barbecue Meatballs, Brown Rice, & Broccoli

Sunday Dinner & Meal Prep

Menu Items:

  • Barbecue Meatballs
  • Brown Rice
  • Broccoli

When preparing my grocery list last week I wanted to pick some easy menu items for the upcoming week. With only 6 weeks left in my pregnancy the last thing I want to be doing is standing on my feet in the kitchen chopping vegetables. Last weeks items (chicken, cabbage, and carrots) had me on my feet longer than I anticipated. It also becomes very difficult for me to stand for long periods of times as I tend to get lightheaded. So, at that rate last week meal prep did take longer than it should have due to my need to take frequent breaks from standing on my feet.

This weeks items: barbecue meatballs, brown rice, and broccoli took little preparation. When I woke up this morning I prepared breakfast and in the mist of preparing breakfast I pulled out the crockpot and tossed in my meatballs with barbecue sauce (original and honey barbecue) and a little grape jelly. I let that cook for about 3 hours, while I washed my hair and prepared for the day.

Neighborhood Library

After, all the McKinney’s were dressed and ready for the day ahead of us (Library visits and a birthday party) I turned my meatballs down to “keep warm.” We left the house for a few hours as we returned library books and picked out new ones. Abby even made some new friends. The library is now her favorite weekend event and I am proud that she enjoys the library. I honestly enjoy the visit myself each weekend. After, the library we went bowling to celebrate our cousins 7th birthday and we all truly had a great time.

Once we returned home I prepared my brown rice on the stovetop (5 minutes) and tossed a bag of steamable broccoli in the microwave (5 minutes). My sides for this week was effortless. I prepared enough servings of brown rice for the week and purchased enough bags of broccoli from Wegmans to prepare on demand. I even have a few different vegetables options (brussel sprouts and spinach) in case I need a variety change throughout the week.

Meal Prep Sunday

All this to say– meal prepping does not have to be hard. I would say that most time will go into your main course (meat) preparation. The are endless options for you. I have noticed that I am using my crockpot more for my meals. However, my husband uses our air fryer daily for all of his meat. He literally seasons his meat and tosses it right in the air fryer.

Have you implemented meal prepping into your routine? What has been successful for you in your meal prep? Have you come across any setbacks or distractions? Please share your experience, as it can help others.

FLWE ❤

Food, Health

Coffee Exposed: Why do you crave coffee?

We all know coffee to be a stimulant. Consuming coffee speeds up your central nervous system, which makes us feel more alert. Aside, from the jitters and sudden increase in energy caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine receptors typically function to promote sleep under normal conditions.

We often get addicted to the feeling of alertness and become dependent on it as a daily pick me up. Once you develop a habit of drinking coffee it can be difficult to stop. If you find yourself in this situation- this blog post is for you. (continue reading)

Why do you crave coffee?

  • Habit

If coffee has become a part of your morning routine you could simply be craving coffee out of habit. You may be consuming coffee for social purposes as well. Whatever the reason may be it stems from a psychological dependence on caffeine. This means “you” think you need it, when in reality you really don’t or just may just simply enjoy it. When you are psychologically dependent on something it can a hard habit to stop.

  • Coping Mechanism for Stress

Stress has a major effect on our bodies and sends various signals to our brain. Some of the effects of stress include: anxiety and fatigue. Many individuals seek chemical boosters like caffeine in order to cope with managing during stressful times. While it is normal to clutch to coping mechanisms to deal with stress it does create habits- which can be difficult to overcome.

  • Low Iron Levels

Coffee cravings can be associated with iron deficiency anemia. Having low iron will cause you to experience fatigue and weakness. As a result to this feeling, we tend to seek beverages that will supplement us throughout the day when we dip into those periods of tiredness.

If you suspect that you have a iron deficiency I highly recommend you to consult with your Physician. It may be helpful to begin a iron supplement in order to regulate your iron levels. This will definitely assist with resolving the fatigue and weakness that you may be experiencing. Addressing the underlying issue is crucial, since coffee contains natural compounds called tannins that prevent iron absorption. While, coffee assists temporarily with overcoming tiredness it is not a long term fix.

  • Pica Cravings

You may be wondering what these terms mean. Pica is a disorder that I am sure a great majority suffer from. Pica is when you crave things that have no nutritional value. Characteristics of these cravings is when you want food simply to enjoy the experience (taste, smell, chewing, etc.). These cravings are often associated with low iron levels as previously discussed.

As a coffee drinker I have identified that I enjoy coffee for the taste and smell. Something about the smell of a fresh brew makes me happy. I don’t necessarily drink coffee for the temporary energy jolt- since it is short lived.

  • To Avoid Withdrawal Symptoms

The most popular withdrawal symptoms from caffeine are headaches. Naturally, it can be harder to stop consuming something if we are going to experience adverse reactions (headaches). To cope with these symptoms, we sometimes unknowingly are driven to consume more. Consuming caffeine often aids to suppress headaches, increasing our craving. Other withdrawal symptoms include tiredness and lack of focus; which we also aid with coffee consumption.

  • Addiction

To have an addiction means something slightly different than dependence. To have an addiction means you continue to use a substance if though it is not good for you or is causing you problems. Caffeine dependence is more common than having an actual addiction. However, if you suspect that your have an addiction- seek medical advice.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. I will be discussing in the coming weeks how to deal with coffee cravings, and coffee health benefits.

Please like, share, and subscribe.

FLWE ❤

Health

[Table Talk] Does your Doctor really know best? – Video: Health Theory- Keto Conspiracy w/ Ken Berry

Watch for more information

I highly encourage you to be your own advocate when it comes to your health. Do your research. Anyone who speaks against the sustainability of eating meats and veggies for the long term simply lacks knowledge.

Healthcare professionals push the incorporation of fruit, dairy, grains and starches in your “balanced” diet. However, they advise you to reduce sugar in your diet. Be mindful that these foods break down ultimately into sugar. Consuming these foods in excess can result in many health problems as sugar is linked to inflammation and the breaking down of needed blood vessels.

The most proven way to accelerate weight loss and improve your health is to reduce sugar in your diet. In order to reduce sugar in your diet, you must eliminate the consumption of simple carbs (ceral, pasta, soda, bread, etc.) Aside from what you are consuming your body makes and regulates its own sugar. Adding excess sugar will result in excess weight gain. This is a fact that I did not learn from my personal doctor. There are so many enlightened individuals like Dr Ken Berry, who have medical degrees and are actively sharing supported information on these issues.

Doctors are working for the healthcare industry and they are expected to follow certain guidelines which are regulated. If they really told you the truth on how to “get healthy” it would be a fall in our healthcare system. There would be no need for monthly follow up appointments, or repeat labs. Pharmaceutical companies would see a decrease in profit, since medication sales would also decrease.

Medication is not the answer to controlling your levels or getting healthy. There are far too many risks associated with medications that are recommended to “treat” medical conditions. Medications are not the cure or answer to your health problems. I personally would not choose to medicate a problem. I support solving and eliminating the problem.

Please share your thoughts on the shared video and my post below.

FLWE ❤

Fitness Journey, How To

6 Ways on How to Begin your Fitness Journey

6 Ways on How to begin your Fitness Journey

Many of you may have thought about embarking on a fitness journey. Yet, something always seems to get in your way. The most common excuses that I hear from those that I coach, all stem from pure procrastination. You are setting yourself up for failure– if you are lacking a plan.

This week I am bringing you:

6 Ways on How to Begin Your Fitness Journey

1. Set Your Goals

It sounds easier said than done. Setting your goals and having a clear understanding of the expectation that you have for yourself is a crucial step in beginning your fitness journey. If you lack clear goals you are not going to know what you are working on or why.

This was me January of 2017. I declared as my New Years resolution that I wanted to start working out. Well, what I failed to do was set my goals. It was easy for me to sign up for a gym membership. I even committed to the gym several days out of my week. However, I did not see any results in the mirror or on the scale. I was doing at least 45 min – 1 hr of cardio on various machines (treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike). The vision I had for myself was not clear. I didn’t have a purpose. I knew I wanted to lose weight but I didn’t have a goal weight set. I didn’t know what exercises would benefit me the most based on my goals; all because my goals were non existent.

When beginning your fitness journey it is imperative to set your goals up front. Write it out. You have to be able to see your goals on paper (the vision).

Ask yourself: What is my goal weight? Do I want to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain? Is strength training my goal? Have I checked my BMI? How many calories should I be consuming daily?

These are all important questions to ask yourself when developing your goals. Having a clear vision of your goals will set you up for success.

2. Get Motivated

After you establish your goals– get motivated. You can not wait for someone else to motivate you. You have to seek to motivate yourself. Without motivation, you will not be able to sustain in your fitness journey. There are going to be days when you don’t feel like sticking to your goals. You may feel tempted to have a cheat day or skip the gym. Motivation can push you through these negative thoughts and keep you on course. Setbacks will set your further away from your goals and results will be further out of reach.

I challenge you to think about what are the motivating factors in your life. If you are lacking motivation- you need to find motivation ASAP. Motivation is crucial to your personal success.

3. Form a Routine

A routine is a habit. Start incorporating good and health habits in your life. For me I start my day out with listening to my favorite podcast (personal development). While listening to my podcast I make my shake and tea in the morning to start my day. Since I am a working Mom, my day begins before the sun comes up while the house is still quiet. My quiet time is first thing in the morning. This is also the time where I can accomplish the most out of my day. How I start my morning, sets the tone for the remainder of my day. Waking up on the right side of the bed is real.

After I listen to my personal development podcast and enjoy my shake and tea, I am then ready to begin my day. This is my routine. If I miss this step in the start of my day, my momentum declines and I find that I am more inclined to excuses.

Your routine also includes your commitment to workout. Plan the days you are going to commit to the gym. Fitness is 80% nutrition, and 20% workout. If you plan your workouts into your schedule, it promotes self accountability which is also a crucial aspect to your success.

Do you have a routine? (Please share below in the comments) I would like to know what motivates you. Sharing what motivates you may encourage someone else in their journey.

4. Take Action

Now that you have your goals set, motivation, and routine in place; it is now time to take action. Incorporate these changes into your daily life. Consistency is key!

Remember, any distraction from your goals, lack of motivation and routine is a set back to your overall results. You can not achieve success if you are failing to put in the necessary work. Your results depend on you and your willingness to make the necessary changes within your life.

5. Document your Progress

Documenting your progress is important because it is motivating to see your progress and track how far you have come. Seeing your results over time is the most encouraging feeling. Progress is what drives success. If you see that you are making progress you will want to continue.

Do not get discouraged in the beginning if you know you are staying on course with your goals, motivation, and routine but are not noticing any results. Consistency is a major factor and results are not achieved over night.

Keep this in mind:

Results- 6 Ways on How to begin your Fitness Journey

6. Revisit and Revise Goals/Progress

On your fitness journey I highly encourage you to revisit and revise your goals/progress often. With progress, you may need to alter and make changes to your goals and routines accordingly.

For example, if your goal is to lose weight you may realize that you need to incorporate strength training or need to focus on a certain area now in order to tone.

It’s ok if your goals change over the course of your fitness journey. Being able to revisit and revise your goals is imperative to the success of your progress. What you may be currently committed to as far as goals and routines may not be working for you as they did months ago when you initially committed to them.

Be flexible and listen to your body. Take a look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? Have your goals changed? Is there more that you are looking to achieve, than what you are holding yourself accountable for?

Your biggest competition is not going to be the next person beside you or in your circle on their fitness journey. Your biggest competition should be YOURSELF! I encourage everyone to follow these 6 ways on how to begin your fitness journey. Hold yourself accountable for your health and wellness. You are held accountable for the results you are seeking to achieve.

As the coming weeks progress I plan to revisit some of these topics and blog deeper into the importance of certain areas. Keep personal development on your radar. I would love to share with you my favorite podcasts that I listen to daily for personal development.

FLWE ❤