Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Drinking red raspberry leaf tea is one of the remedies recommended by my midwife during my third pregnancy, and I was hooked after my first cup. Red Raspberry leaf tea is rich in nutrients and antioxidants and is used to strengthen the uterus.  A stronger uterus can help shorten labor and aid in a healthy delivery and postpartum recovery. Because red raspberry leaf tea may help induce labor, it’s recommended you don’t drink it until week 32*. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, up to 3 cups can be enjoyed each day. It’s something I look forward to each pregnancy! (*always check with your doctor or midwife before trying any natural or herbal remedies as their potency can be surprisingly strong.)

This tea tastes good hot or iced, with lemon or without. I always buy my loose leaf tea at our local health food store where I scoop and measure it myself. Here’s the “recipe”, as simple as can be!

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Recipe

1 Tablespoon loose leaf red raspberry leaf tea + 1 cup boiling water

steep 15 minutes

drink warm or pour the 1 cup of warm tea over ice and add enough water to fill a large glass

During the last few weeks of pregnancy I like to double or triple this recipe (2-3 Tbs. tea + 1 cup boiling water). After steeping 15 minutes, pour the warm tea over ice in a water bottle and fill to the top with cold water, leaving the tea ball in the water bottle. I’m counting down the weeks to when I can enjoy this tea again!

7 Ways to Ease Morning Sickness

I think all women who have ever experienced morning sickness would agree that whoever named the nausea of the first trimester “morning sickness” clearly never had it. I suppose confining it to a small, manageable part of the day makes it a bit less intimidating; if it were labeled “all day sickness” some of us might have been scared away from pregnancy altogether! I really struggle through the first trimester, and if I hadn’t been so determined to give our oldest daughter siblings, we would have one kid right. However, I suffered powered through, and over the course of five pregnancies I’ve picked up enough tips that by the fifth, my toilet hovering was minimal. Here are a few of my absolute must-do’s during the first trimester that have helped ease my nausea. Let me know if any of these have helped you as well, or any additions you might add to this list!

Epsom salt bath

I’m going to start with this one because it’s rarely on lists of things to do to help with morning sickness. My midwife recommended Epsom salt baths to me my third pregnancy. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was a placebo she was offering just to keep me distracted, but I decided if there was even the smallest chance it could help, I was willing to try. I normally follow the directions on the bag for the amount of salts to use; then I stay in the tub at least 20-30 minutes. I experienced less nausea on the weeks I regularly took baths in Epsom salt throughout 3 separate pregnancies. Maybe it’s coincidence that I felt better those weeks or maybe it was because of an actual magnesium deficiency, but there’s absolutely nothing to lose trying this remedy.

NEVER let yourself get hungry

This may be obvious, but it took me a long time to figure this out. The very earliest feeling that hits before the nausea of no return is hunger. For me it’s hunger so fast and so bad I don’t even realize it’s hunger, instead I assume it’s a need to throw up. When I realized this feeling began with hunger (around pregnancy number 3) I realized I could avoid the worst of the sickness by eating sooner rather than later; normally about every hour and a half. HOWEVER…

Protein is Important!

…a few crackers and ginger ale were not enough. I would eat roll after roll of ritz crackers to fend off the sickness only to hate ritz crackers and still feel empty and sick. By pregnancy number 4, I realized protein was important. Protein helps you feel full longer, and protein rich foods also provide other nutrients our bodies need during pregnancy. I ate all forms of non meat protein with my 4th, and it really seemed to help, but what I really discovered the fifth was the HUGE difference between meat protein and non meat protein. Cheese, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, vegan protein shakes, milk, and eggs all helped me feel a little better, but beef and sometimes chicken could actually make me feel “normal” and stable.

Lemon and Peppermint Everything

During my first pregnancy at one of my first appointments I asked the doctor what I could do about my incredibly oversensitive gag reflex; how was I supposed to brush my teeth if my toothbrush was always gagging me? She laughed and told me to just avoid brushing my teeth. I ended up finding a new doctor (not just because of her bad oral hygiene advice.) Nausea can at least be felt and planned around, but there’s not much you can do about an unpredictable gag reflex that acts up anytime it sees a stray hair. The gag reflex is often activated by smells. Sucking on a lemon drop or peppermint altoid (or any STRONG mint with real peppermint in the ingredients) and using lemon or peppermint essential oils (*in this necklace I was gifted a few Christmas’ ago) to smell in lieu of unpleasant odors helped me avoid many moments of being sick. I also diffuse peppermint throughout the house and add lemon juice to my drinking water.

Carbonated Water

Burping always helps my nausea–an unfortunate reality. When my go to fizzy drink was soda pop, though, I felt like I was limited because of the caffeine and sugar. Then I discovered carbonated water; any brand, any flavor does the trick. You get the satisfaction of the bubbles going down, bubbles coming up, and you can drink it all day and all evening without the consequences of too much caffeine or sugar.

Cut Sugar

Somehow milkshakes always sound good when I’m in the first trimester, but the sugar never settles well. I’ve discovered I feel much better when I avoid sugar as much as possible. About half an hour after eating protein I always feel good, but half an hour after sugar I feel worse. It’s really a win-win because keeping your blood sugar levels within a safe range is also important during pregnancy, and less sugar can help slow weight gain.

Sleep

The last tip is to get plenty of sleep. I’ve had pregnancies with young toddlers (less than 2 years old) who don’t sleep through the night, which means I don’t sleep through the night. It makes a huge difference sleeping a full 8-10 hours a night + a nap whenever possible! I know this isn’t always possible, but it helps so much it’s worth giving up anything else to get even one extra hour of sleep.

I remember spending so much time googling “ways to help nausea…” and “is it normal to….” throughout my first couple pregnancies; I felt like there had to be more help related to morning sickness. But, until there’s a magic pill to take away the constant nausea (other than the sleep inducing nausea suppositories I took during my first pregnancy) the best we can do is share tips and tricks with each other, and remember it will all be worth it in just a few short months!

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3 Reasons Your Workouts May Not Be Working

 

 

I’ve spent the last 9 years either pregnant and gaining weight or working on losing that weight. I’ve realized a few things watching 45-50 pounds come and go so many times. First, it’s easier to gain than to lose. Second, breastfeeding is my weight loss secret weapon, and without breastfeeding losing weight is a TON harder. And third, no amount of studying for my degree in health or studying to become a personal trainer could compare to the “hands on” learning that postpartum put me in!

 There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to the gym and grueling through uncomfortable workouts just to see the scale stay the same, or worse go up. It’s frustrating enough to quit trying. However, before we quit, there are a few things to remember– important things that explain why those workouts may not be doing what we’re hoping they will do, and a few things we can change to actually see results. 

Our bodies want to stay the same, so working out makes us hungry and subconsciously causes us to eat just enough extra food to stay at the same weight. It’s called homeostasis, and it’s the body’s way of staying balanced. It’s hard to break this balance, but it’s not as difficult as we make it. We complicate it with talk of slowing metabolisms, special diets, etc. but it’s a simple formula: calories burned must be greater than calories eaten. The hard part is keeping the calories eaten less than the calories burned long enough to actually burn fat. One cheat day can make up for an entire week of working hard, and your body will happily remain balanced and at the same weight.

{As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Because I value honesty and transparency, I will never post links to products I do not own and fully support myself.}

Next, it’s painful for most of us to admit, but we often aren’t working out as hard as we think we are. Most of us don’t have to move very much during the day. We’ve been privileged/cursed to be able to live completely sedentary lives and still survive just fine. I’ve been keeping track of my steps this pregnancy with this Garmin watch, and I’ve been attempting to get 10,000 steps each day. Having a watch to count my steps is motivating, and I’ve learned how few steps I actually take in a normal day if I’m not intentionally active. Even though I spend my day with kids, I can go an entire day with fewer than 3,000 steps (or traveling less than 2 miles.) This means if I want to get 10,000 steps (about 4.5 miles for me), I need to spend more than 30 minutes walking. Whoever created the step counter was a genius, and helped all of us realize how little (some of us) move in our daily lives. I’ve used this and this and even one of these to track my steps, and they all work great. 45 minutes or more feels productive enough to make us think we can skip a day here and there, but if we’re hoping walking 2-3 days a week for 45 minutes will give us results, we’re going to be disappointed. If we spend our entire day sitting still, it takes a lot of intentional walking/movement to expend the energy we need to to lose weight. I like to attempt the “magical” 10,000 steps each day and then do 3 strength training workouts throughout the week. Realistically my daily steps are closer to 8,000 and many weeks I only end up doing 1 day of strength training instead of 3, but setting goals guaranteed to give results helps me see when I slack, so at least I’m not surprised when I gain a couple pounds or fail to lose weight when I’m trying to.

Finally, the part that ruins it for most of us: we don’t need to eat as many calories as we think. Along with our privilege/curse of a sedentary life, we have also been “gifted” with extremely delicious and available food. In reality, we can easily eat all the calories in one meal that we need for an entire day. There are so many helpful apps and websites where you can type in the foods you eat each day to see how many calories you are eating, and it’s extremely helpful to use one of these when you feel like you’ve gotten off track. I like to use one for about a week or so, just to remind myself what foods or what time of days I am overeating. We often eat because we’re bored, because food tastes good, and sometimes because we’ve trained ourselves to avoid the feeling of hunger. It’s also very easy to eat too much when we are hungry because we eat too quickly. Eating slowly and intentionally can help your body realize when it feels full enough without overeating. A good rule is to stop eating before you’re full and give your body 15-20 minutes to decide if you actually need to eat more or if you just want more because it tastes good.

Counting steps and calories are both extremely helpful skills that can be learned and done more organically once you’ve gotten used to knowing how many steps are “enough” each day and when you’ve eaten enough. Keeping a regular tally of calories in and steps taken sounds like a chore, but once you’ve done it for a week or two it becomes second nature to go out for an evening walk for extra steps at the end of the day and to stop eating before you’ve eaten too much.

The most important thing I’ve realized when it comes to weight loss is to be consistent, and stop worrying so much about the small mistakes and the last 5-10 pounds. I’m not sure if it’s being in my 30’s, but stressing out about a perfectly flat stomach just feels unimportant now (even when I’m not pregnant!) Being overly concerned with appearance isn’t what drives my desire for working out and staying fit as much as it did once upon a time. Feeling good, being in control of my body (not letting hunger or food control me), feeling strong, and having clarity in my mind are my motivators now. What about you? What motivates you to workout? Do you struggle with any of these points? 

Favorites | Youtube Workout Channels

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by how many options we have access to online. So, when I find favorites (workout videos, blogs, etc.) I tend to ignore all other options and stick with my favorites, just to make my life simpler.

I’ve always enjoyed workout videos. I finally got rid of all my old VHS exercise videos during one of our minimalist sweeps of the house when I realized YouTube was an unending resource for free workouts. When I’m feeling adventurous, I just type in an amount of time (for instance, 30 minute workout) or sometimes a specific workout (zumba, cardio, yoga, etc.) and scroll through whatever pops up and pick a random workout to do. Sometimes this works, and other times I realize I don’t like it 10 minutes into the workout, and I quit and search for another one. Most of the time, though, I go back to one of my favorites that I know I like. I have a few others that I use from time to time, but these are my top go to exercise YouTube channels and a few reasons why these stand out over the thousands of option.

Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home

I love simple workouts, and there’s nothing simpler than walking and running outdoors. Sometimes the weather makes that impossible and sometimes I just want to stay inside. When the gym isn’t an option, Leslie Sansone videos are amazing! They’re sorted by time and distance, and take zero skill and only occasional hand weights. They’re not flashy and they might not be very exciting, but all you have to do is put the time in and calories are burned. They’re so easy and take very little thought, I will play her workouts on my phone while I watch a movie or tv show on my computer, and the time flies. It’s basically like using a treadmill without having the bulky treadmill taking up space in your house.

Tone It Up

Tone It Up has tons of different workouts. Even within their YouTube channel choosing a video to do can be a little overwhelming because there are so many options. However, I use their videos when I want to focus on strength but I don’t feel like working out “alone” or making up my own workout. They’re peppy and professional and with the amount of options, you never get bored. They have a prenatal workout that I really enjoy and have been using a lot this pregnancy. I think I ran across a workout series they created 6 or 7 years ago, and I’ve used their workouts many times since.

Boho Beautiful (for yoga)

In the past I always felt like yoga was boring, but the Boho Beautiful yoga videos are simple enough to do without a lot of yoga skill yet challenging enough that I always feel a burn during and afterwards. I like doing one of their yoga videos on days when I would rather take a day off or in the evening after a walk or run.

There are SO many other good workout videos online, but finding favorites saves time and energy! Do you have any favorite YouTube workout videos or channels? I’d love to hear what you use on those at home and indoor days!

Hymns


 

“Speak to one another with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the LORD, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 5:19-20

I love traditions, and the older I get, the more I appreciate them. I started writing out some of my favorite old hymns to sing to my babies and kids as they were falling asleep a few years ago, and I often grab my list of songs, including these hymns, to remember the lyrics when I’m singing kids to sleep. I feel like the hymns double as peaceful songs to help them fall asleep and deep truths for them to think about. Do you appreciate hymns or introducing traditions to your kids? I’m linking some here; let me know if you have any other favorites!

And Can it be That I Should Gain

As the Deer

Be Thou My Vision

Come Thou Almighty King

Come Thou Fount

Fairest Lord Jesus

For The Beauty of the Earth

How Great Thou Art

Just as I am

My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

O God Our Help in Ages Past

Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him!

This is My Father’s World

Thy Mercy My God

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus