Posted in fitness

Inspiration & Motivation

I’ve never been an overly active person.  I mean, when I was young, I did swimming lessons and loved them.  I learned how to bike and how to skate.  I did a year of ninjutsu (which I also loved), did some rock climbing, played a bit of squash.  But then, I stopped when we moved and concentrated more on music and reading.

You know what the worst part is?  I actually like to be active!  But I kept on finding excuses.

I mean, when I started going out with my boyfriend, we went to the gym together for a while.  But I ended up stopping because I found it too tedious to come home from work and get comfortable only to have to go out again just to go do my gym routine.  It became even more difficult when winter came ’round.

A year later, I did some Tae Bo with some co-worker.  It was great at first because it was close to home and I could warm up by walking to the building.  But after two sessions, I lost interest.  Or maybe I caught a cold and skipped a few classes and just didn’t go back.  Or maybe…whatever the reason, I just stopped.

Then life started happening and I got comfortable in my routine or working, gaming, eating and sleeping.  After that, I became pregnant.  And it always seemed like there was always an excuse to not take care of my fitness.

It’s kind of sad, because I had a lot of inspiration around me.

I mean, my mom has always been active.  She’s done/ she does biking, rollerblading, yoga, weight conditioning with a VHS tape.  She takes a walk every day.  I mean, she’s just unhappy if she doesn’t do something.  And she’s been telling me for years that I should find an activity that motivates me and do it because I would feel better and probably sleep better.  But, you know, who wants to listen to their mom once they’ve moved out (even though you know they’re right).

There’s also my dad.  He’s had his moments where something would interest him.  He’s golfed, biked, done Tae kwon do.  Then a couple of years ago, he decided to really work hard to become healthier and more active.  And he has done an amazingly inspiring job of it.

My sister started doing Aikido, my brother did some Kung Fu.  When my boyfriend and I started going out, he had just lost about a hundred pounds in the previous year…

So you see, I’ve got quite a bit of inspiration around me.  But not enough to actually do anything about it.  Until recently…

You see, few months ago, I caught myself saying that once I’d go back to work (at the end of August), I was going to start going to the gym.  My rationale for waiting until then?  We’re currently living on a reduced income because of the maternity leave so we have to keep a tighter budget (excuse #1).  Besides, I don’t really have the time to go right now because I have my daughter at home with me all day (excuse #2).

But then, about two months ago, I got my kick-in-the-ass moment (aka: what motivated me).  I was just sitting on the couch and started thinking about my grandfather and I realized that at nearly 80 years old…or is he 80 already, I can’t remember (désolée grand-papa 😉 ) he was in better shape than I was at 30 (and this despite the fact that he is asthmatic).

And that was it.  That was all I needed.  Suddenly, there were no more excuses, only goals and solutions.  And I’ll tell you all about them…in tomorrow’s post 😉

Did you have a kick-in-the-rear moment that allowed you to make some positive life changes?  I’d love to hear about it!

Posted in Write for me Wednesday

Write for me Wednesday: Babies’ Head Shape and Flat Head Syndrome (Sarah’s Guest Post)

I’m really happy to present yet another guest post.  This time, it is from Sarah from babyflathead.org.  Sarah is a 40-something mom to a 21 month old boy who had flat head syndrome.   She ended up using a helmet to treat his condition when it was continuing to worsen at 8 months, but her blog advocates trying natural methods such as repositioning and tummy time as a first option.  Unfortunately not all babies respond to repositioning.  She has a full time day job in technology marketing, and this blog is a side project and a real passion of hers since there isn’t enough good information available for parents about this problem.

Normal is a relative term. As our children grow, we notice every little detail about them, and marvel at the little person who came from our hearts and wombs into the world. Sometimes, the little differences we notice are medically important, however. One thing we may notice that distinguishes our child from other children is head shape. There are many ‘normal’ head shapes, but symmetry is a defining feature of them all.

How do you know if your baby’s head shape is normal?

A normal baby’s head shape can vary widely across a range of measurements. In fact, there are even special instruments that are designed to help a physician measure your little one’s head shape. They assess factors like the cranial vault symmetry and index. One of the most popular devices in use is a craniometer.

If your child’s pediatrician is concerned about your baby’s head shape, he or she will tell you. The standard head shape evaluation is a part of the 2 or 3 month well-baby visit for most infants. You may not even notice when your doctor conducts the exam, unless a variation from the range of normal head shapes is detected.

Normal head shape is generally symmetrical, although often not perfectly so. Premature infants are often closely monitored for altered head shape, but other babies are also at risk. Males, first borns, multiples (twins,triplets, etc), and babies with limited room to move around in the uterus are especially prone to abnormal head shape.

Why does head shape matter?

Many babies who are diagnosed with plagiocephaly or brachycpehaly – cranial deformities – are often also diagnosed with reflux or torticollis. A normal head shape indicates healthy growth of both the skull and brain. Deviation from normal head shape can signal the presence of other, more serious, problems – such as craniosynostosis.

Craniosynostosis occurs when the bones of the skull fuse before they are supposed to, resulting in a deformed head shape. Most cranial deformities are related to position, and occasionally to torticollis, however. These tend to resolve with treatment, and in mild cases may disappear on their own.

What is Flat Head Syndrome?

Some babies develop a flat spot on the rear or side of their skull, and are diagnosed with Flat Head Syndrome, which includes plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, and sometimes two other conditions – scaphocephaly and torticollis. If your child is diagnosed with this syndrome, you might not be sure where to turn. There are numerous resources available, however. Treatment can be fairly simple, and isn’t invasive. It is important, however. Without treatment, this condition may lead to developmental delays, scoliosis, and possibly even visual and auditory problems.

For more information on Flat Head Syndrome, as well as resources for parents, check out my website:http://www.babyflathead.org. The site includes product reviews, tips, stories from other families, and general information that can help you and your child cope with this syndrome.

Thank you Sarah for sharing this post with us!  I agree that there is very little information on the subject (no one not even doctors or nurses ever talked about it when I was pregnant or when I gave birth, I found out about this by accident by snooping around on the Web).

If anyone else would like to write a guest post for me, you can check out the original post here and shoot me an email through the contact me page.

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Posted in Parenting

Allergy Elimination Diet, Part 1: Dairy

After finding out that my son is currently allergic to dairy and that his bad eczema is most likely caused by the dairy (and/or something else) in my own diet, I’ve started an allergy elimination diet in hopes of controlling his eczema without the use of prescription creams.  I decided to start with eliminating dairy first because that is something I am certain his body can’t handle now that he’s started solids.

To help me with this, I went to see a dietician last Saturday.  I needed to make sure that my body had everything it needed (emphasis put on vitamine D and calcium) even though I’d be removing a whole food group from my diet.  The dietician I met with was really nice and had a lot of resources to share with me.

Among the food other than dairy that contains a decent amount of calcium that is well-absorbed by the body, there is:

– Enriched soy beverage (except we agreed that I should try to stay clear of soy as it is very common for children who are allergic to dairy to also be allergic to soy);

– Sardines (with bones);

– Pink and Sockeye salmon (also with bones)

I also told her that I had been drinking almond milk and rice milk (which are both very yummy) and she suggested I check if they contained decent amounts of vitamin D and calcium (which they do so yay!).

She also told me to check the list of ingredients in things such as cold cuts, bread products, cereal, mayonnaise and chips because they are all things that could contain milk ingredients.

Speaking of milk ingredients, did you know that there are a whole bunch of hidden names for milk protein?  I found this pdf document that lists them all from kidawithfoodallergies.org an awesome site full of ressources on food allergies.  They also provide a list of hidden names for other common allergens such as eggs and wheat.

I’ve been at it for a little less than a week now and though it is hard (as I LOVE dairy) it’s not as bad as I though.  There are so many great products out there after all.  The hardest part is thinking before I order something while eating out.  For instance, having the cheese sandwich at a local sub shop is not a good idea when one is not allowed to eat cheese.

Right now, my son’s eczema seems to be under control (I must grudgingly admit that the prescription creams are doing wonders in that department) and hope that the fact that I’m not having dairy anymore will have a positive impact once the creams run out.  Changes don’t happen overnight and I know that I have to wait at least two weeks until I see changes caused by my change of diet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed so that I don’t have to eliminate another major allergen from my diet.

I’m also happy to say that we have not had any allergic reactions since my son’s smoothie last week so I’m hopeful that his other reactions were just caused by his immune system being on high alert from the dairy he’d consumed.

Now, I just have to find a dessert that I can have when my friends come over this weekend.  Hey, I don’t suppose anyone knows a good dairy-free recipe eh?  (You know, the kind that doesn’t contain milk, butter, cream, chocolate or the like…)

Posted in Parenting

The Breast is Mightier than the Bottle

Or so they say.

Personally, I breastfeed and I love it.  My breasts don’t hurt, I have more than enough milk, I love the proximity with my baby.  But when the people around me learned that I was pregnant, one of the first questions they asked was “are you going to breastfeed”.  I didn’t think much of it at first and always answered “if I can, I’d like to”.  I mean, for me, it was a no-brainer: it’s practical (no bottles to warm up or carry along when I’m out and about with the baby), cheap (I was shocked when I found out how much formula costs) and good for the baby’s health.  However, there was always an exit door in my answer, always the “if”.

You see, my mother tried to breastfeed.  She really did, really wanted to.  But she didn’t have enough milk for me (or for my little sister, for that matter).  She eventually switched to bottle feeding, after my 1 month appointment, when she learned that I hadn’t gained any weight.  After that, not only did I gain weight, but I also stopped crying so much.

Both my boyfriend and I had kept an open mind about feeding.  I told him that I wanted to try nursing, but not at any cost.  I did not want to put any pressure on myself.  I wasn’t going to start supplementing with a feeding tube whilst I hoped for my milk to come in.  I wasn’t going to cut down my rest and sleep hours even more than they would be because my child was perpetually hungry.  My boyfriend, of course, fully supported my decision.  I think he was even relieved by it; he wouldn’t have to worry about me potentially getting depressed by the thought that I am a failure as a mother because I can’t breastfeed.

I’m happy I made up my mind about this matter quickly, that I decided that I wouldn’t put any pressure on myself, because there was a whole lot of outside pressure.

It’s actually rather troubling, that one of the first questions you are asked by the people around you and the random people you meet is if you are going to breastfeed.  I mean, what do they care?  They are certainly not the ones that are going to be getting up during the night.  They are certainly not the ones whose body is going to change to adapt to its new function.  And they sure as heck are not the ones who will be drinking the milk!  So what do they care?

I was bottle-fed, so were my sister and brother as well as my boyfriend and his sister.  We are all very well adapted to the world and healthy.  Drinking formula sure doesn’t seem to have had a negative impact.  Of course, some might argue that we can’t know how breast milk could have effected us, but who cares!

Though I find it fine to inform a new or expecting mother on the benefits of nursing versus bottle-feeding, it is ultimately the mother’s decision.  Once her decision is made, I believe that no one has the right to put extra pressure on her or judge her.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

My son, right after a nursing session.
My son, right after a nursing session.