Max is one week old

Ever since working with my first pregnant client,  I have observed how hard those first weeks postpartum can be for new mothers on a physical and emotional level. As such I had planned to not only document Max' growing up, but wanted to see how I felt week-to-week in those six weeks that are so crucial for healing but which are also without any support on the medical side and often any assistance on the logistical end if you live - like I do - in the US/ NYC without that proverbial village or your family close by. 

In comparison, women in Germany have access to a midwife that is assigned to them for six weeks to help them maneuver questions such as nursing, sleeping and self-care, whereas here, these services could probably be summed up in the work of postpartum doulas or babynurses who are difficult to afford especially as an entrepreneur that is taking a pay cut for the duration of their choosing, while recovering from childbirth. A friend in Germany who is in the same business as I am, was paid close to $2,000/ month for a full year of maternity leave. It makes me weep.

Anyway, I digress. We've made it to a week. Seven days ago, I was sitting in a hospital bed with an epidural in my back, had tracked some of my runners in the NYC Half Marathon and taken a nap. We even thought we'd watch a quick episode of "Call the midwife". But transition was fast approaching. I was on an IV of pitocin and they had broken my water... (*I can tell you my birth story in more frightening detail in person - I'll just focus on the positives here). Six hours later my doctor checked and it was time to push. 

I believe her exact words were: "I've only ever seen one woman push that child out in super fast pace of two contractions and she was an Olympic rower". Didn't she know who she was talking to? "Roma, this is not a competition..." Yeah, right. "I have to tell you that she tore BADLY!" Ok, maybe not two then. 

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Max came out 30 minutes later and he was perfect. Since then, he's taught me how to breastfeed him, we've passed the diaper test of soiling as many diapers per day as he is days old. He took a first sponge bath, gained an inch in length, met his pediatrician and managed to sleep through a friend's party as well as a few coffee outings. Some of my interactions with him feel incredibly intuitive, some others make me scratch my head. Like: how much can a little boy of 7.5 lbs possibly drink? 

As for my recovery, there are two things that hurt and are making moving around a little more difficult. One is the tearing that I couldn't avoid despite admitting defeat to the Olympic rower... The other is a self-inflicted (and self diagnosed) psoas strain, possibly from pushing. The latter occasionally robs me off breath and knocks the wind out of me. Both of them hurt laughing. Either will make it hard to resume running as a form of exercise in the foreseeable future. 

And you know what?

I.DON'T.CARE. I have just spent the most incredible week getting to know a person that we made. All we do at this point is dictated by his schedule and his needs. I have plans on the horizon and I have no doubts that I will get there. But how... that remains to be seen. 

One week in it is hard to believe that Chris and I were ever just the two of us. 

Almost 32 weeks - still going strong-ish

As I type this, it is the date that I should have been born (many years ago). I would have been an Aquarius instead of a Scorpio/ Saggittarius cusp baby. But I had my own mind, coupled with my mother's rather stressful relocation from Poland to Germany, I suppose. So, I was delivered at 8 weeks early, and 1.6 kg or barely 4 lbs and immediately flown out to a specialized NICU about 60 miles from my hometown. 

My baby boy is the size of a bunch of asparagus right now, according to the www.thebump.com app or the size of a coconut if you believe www.babycenter.com and making strides towards hitting the 4lbs himself. Grow, baby, grow. 

As mentioned in my blogpost about asthma, my premature arrival is probably to blame for my wonky lungs. When I'm in a positive state of mind, I see it as a blessing that I have been able to do what I do despite this disadvantage but sometimes I wonder what else could have been possible with properly developed lungs inside the womb. I guess we will never know. One thing we know however, is that despite my lungs, I have claimed my guaranteed entry into the NYC Marathon 2017 and will attempt to run it 7 months postpartum. 

My lungs are one issue we have been monitoring closely over the past 8 months along with my iron deficiency and unfortunately blood in my urine. It's unclear why it pops up but it hasn't presented an issue and iron can luckily be supplemented, so I have been on a daily routine of prune juice and probiotics before breakfast (to deal with other pregnancy related side effects), then coffee and any regular dairy like yoghurt, then leaving at least a 2 hour window before taking my prenatal and Floradix with a glass of grapefruit juice because Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron, whereas dairy products and caffeine, can block it. In the evening I usually take one calcium tablet dissolved in water since the baby now needs an extra 250mg of calcium from me to develop his skeletal structure and having gone through a near stress fracture, I am not willing to enter into that kind of deficit before labor, delivery and postpartum breastfeeding when women are often even more likely to develop osteoporosis. 

In addition to the above mentioned supplements, I have been seeing my acupuncture practitioner religiously from 3.5 weeks pregnant to "give the baby some ooomph" as she put it, to now when he dances around my belly each time she inserts a needle (elsewhere!). Acupuncture has been essential for minor aches and pains but mainly for emotional wellbeing and to keep my sugar cravings in check and combat fatigue. My practitioner reckoned that my spleen had been "tired" so she treated it and my cravings for non-stop caffeine and hourly donuts dissipated and made way for healthier choices. At least most of the time.
I can not stress the wonders of acupuncture enough for hormone related issues that we women face. 

That brings us to my plans for the next few weeks. I had a conversation with a friend in Germany who is due in February and she couldn't believe that there was no subsidized, paid maternity leave for entrepreneurs in the US. She will be taking one year off from work, just like all my other friends (and still they think that more time with the baby would be better), and occasionally I weep thinking of the privileges that one enjoys back home. 

Alas, I'm here and love my job and my clients. So the plan will be to work as long as I can, just like everyone else and only stop working if and when I can't handle it physically anymore. Then, depending on my type of delivery, I'll treat the comeback like an athlete. When my body tells me it's fine, I will come back part-time and delegate more than I demonstrate. Should I need more time, I'll have to take it. 

It's a big unknown for the time being but I know that I'm doing my best on this end to facilitate the best recovery from a purely physical point of view. As opposed to what people may think, none of my physical routine is rooted in vanity. I had always said before pregnancy that I would stay as active as I could and it has kept me in good shape to hopefully continue what I love to do after the baby is born. 

These last 30+ weeks have taught me even more resilience, surrender, discipline and being good to my body, than anything else. Having the constant reminder in the form of jabs and kicks that I was doing this for someone other than myself has been good, since I am very capable of taking on too much and digging myself into a hole. 

Emotionally I have shielded myself from negative influences and accepted more that would have otherwise had me bang my head against the wall in stubbornness and frustration. Pregnancy has unearthed so much doubt, joy, inspiration, motivation, grief, love, aggression, fear and bliss that it can be a lot to handle at times. It has also shown me from day to day how there is an upside to most 'downside days' and usually it follows promptly. 

I am not sure what motherhood will bring. I can't wait to meet this little man and be a parent and have him show me ways that stretch far beyond my current imagination. 

So stay tuned and until very soon! xx 

 

Pregnancy Update: Third Trimester

How did we get here? Haha, just kidding. I won't pretend like this 29ish week update came on suddenly. 

This pregnancy went approximately like this:

- 3.5 weeks: whoa! That's a second line. But what if I still get my period. Let's wait.

- 9 weeks: hearing a heartbeat. It's real! Tears... joy and fear. 

- 12 weeks: still not officially out of the danger zone?? Really??

- 18 weeks: anatomy scan, hello baby boy, we're so happy that you have all your parts!

- 20 weeks: half way point, I feel big (LOL, you don't know what's coming).

- 24 weeks: this pregnancy is progressing well, I'm not nauseous anymore, I feel like I'll be at 30 weeks in no time.

- 29 weeks: ANOTHER 3 months?? Whaaaaa? Let's get this party underway. I can't wait to meet my little man.

So this brings us here. It is January in New York City and we just got our first big snowfall. It's pretty and very cold. It's the first winter when I'm not being brave and running because if I trip or slip and fall like last year, that would be really reckless. Frankly, today I can't motivate myself to go to the gym onto the treadmill either. So it's a long rest weekend.

What has my wellness and fitness routine been so far? I hear from a lot of people how disciplined I appear. It's true. But just like before, my motto is moderation. I would say I eat about 70% well and everything else falls prey to my enormous sweet tooth. Way more than before but now I can't get enough gummy bears, hard candy, ice cream and sweet and salty popcorn.  Other than that, this baby loves all things I love. I swear, he jumps with joy when I start preparing lunch, usually a variation on the egg theme with good sourdough and avocado. Baby loves Nutella and bacon, too :) We've been going through a pint of Sahadi's Castelvetrano olives in a few days and I've lost my fear of eating some of the things that pregnant women should be careful with... I won't list them. 

Here is a breakdown of my routine on good days:

6am: Wake up and either go for a run or have breakfast when I go teach.
7am: coffee unless it was part of breakfast (usually Muesli, berries, yoghurt and almond milk).
8am: usually the first client session of the day, sometimes the second, yup. 
9am-12:30am: probably 2 more sessions, run a quick errand and dash home for lunch.
1pm: lunch at home whenever possible and followed by a nap (even though lately naps make me feel like a zombie so I try to relax without sleeping and instead go to bed sooner).
2-3pm: scheduling of clients, invoicing, blogging, chatting with copy editor at www.wellroundedny.com and procrastinating. 
4pm: either get mentally read for another session with clients or debate what's for dinner. Emails.
6:30pm-7:30pm: usually dinner around that time (most of the time I cook a low-carb meal centered around good fats, proteins and greens).
7:30-9pm: watch a TV show with hubby.
9:30pm: lights out (I value my sleep immensely, not just since being pregnant. I try to read before bed and browse less, cuddle our dog and chat with Chris. Falling asleep takes me about 3 mins tops). 

I work six days a week and while each individual day seems like there's a lot of time to procrastinate, working with people one-on-one is physically and mentally draining. On Sundays when I don't schedule sessions, I used to do my marathon long runs of up to 18 miles (I used to fit 65 miles of training into this work week anyway, now it's more like 25) but it's my most valued day to regroup and recharge with 'me-time' and quality time with loved ones.

As I mentioned in a recent Instagram post, pregnancy led me to postpone a few dreams of mine, I had thought I could push through in the first and second trimesters. Coming to terms with that was harder initially but now it's fine. This journey taught me that a lot of things are outside of our control and the next 10-11 weeks will be even less foreseeable. So I'm along for the ride. 

In my next blog post, I will touch on my "birth plan" and my hopes for the postpartum recovery. 

Thank you for reading. xx

Why should we all look the same? The appalling body shaming of pregnant women

I'm writing about this because it has come up repeatedly in the past week. A woman who came to our prenatal workout upset and telling me how a woman congratulated her on her pregnancy, then proceeded to ask if she was carrying twins since she was so big for as far along as she was. Another woman was asked by a homeless person if she was due soon and when she said 'no', was told "whoa, you're big!". 

I on the other hand don't have much of a bump. I have more of a bump when my bladder is full or my bowels (sorry), after a big meal, towards the end of the day. But when you see me during a workout mid morning, it's safe to say that I look at best like I had a big meal and in most instances people wouldn't notice anything different about me. 

Some days I feel ok about it and even feel like it makes my life a lot easier. I don't have much to worry about while running, my center of gravity hasn't shifted, all my clothes fit and I'm super moveable in my job. Other days I worry... about my energy being back up, not feeling the baby yet and not looking much different. 

Then there's social media which has been celebrating and highlighting women who are extremely fit and who still boast tight six-packs at up to 20 weeks along. I look at those physiques and some remind me of my lifestyle, while some are what can best be described as extreme. The notoriety of those women comes from the collective voices in their comments. People applauding and envying them and a much larger group bashing them and shaming them. 

Ultimately it's every woman's personal choice how she goes about her prenatal care. There will always be extremes in the thin and in the big direction. What gets me is how so many people have an opinion on how women's bodies should be changing and how quickly. 

The most extreme case that I heard personally was a person wondering if I was still pregnant. The examples above are pointing in the opposite direction telling women that they are big. Either one of these comments isn't ok. It is rude, it invades the woman's privacy, it causes anxiety in the pregnant woman and it extends an unhealthy habit that we all have to face when we're not pregnant and exposed to physical comparison in society. 

But pregnancy should be different. The most important thing is the health of our baby and our own health. Each woman has a different first trimester. Some of the fittest women get struck down with morning sickness and fatigue and have to pause their physical fitness programs. Other women are luckier but crave more comfort foods and may gain more weight. Some of us retain more water and others face complications that force us to be more sedentary. 

What we all have in common is the unconditional love for our unborn and hopefully gynecological care with doctors that help us navigate this new chapter in our lives. Ultimately this little bundle that we carry is the same. A human that we care for and that we will do our best for during the 40 weeks that they are solely reliant on us. 

 

The Berlin Diaries: Week 7

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Seventh week of my Berlin Diaries. Enjoy! July 6th (W7/D1): 8 easy miles by myself with a speedy 6:50 last mile :)  #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

July 7th (W7/D2): Track workout: 6 x 800m. I was really happy to cut back the pace from 3:10 to 3:04 despite heat and humidity at 6:30am and some shin pain during the last 2 repeats. Fitness is coming along. #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

July 8th (W7/D3): Rest day after doing 47 miles in 5 days and two good quality workouts! #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

July 9th (W7/D4): 6 miles tempo plus 4 x 400 at 5k pace. Ooof, still hot and humid and the tempo run didn't work out as planned. I'm glad I can still hit 90 second and below 400s afterwards. #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

July 10th (W7/D5): Easy recovery 8 miles with Zola and we recorded a little InstaVideo. Check it out at www.instagram.com/chittawellness #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

July 11th (W7/D6): When an easy run is in the double digit category, you know the mileage is going up, up, up. 10 hot miles for Saturday. And sprinkler fun afterwards! #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

July 12th (W7/D7): 12 mile long run with a dose of patience built in... 8 miles moderate pace and then two miles at 6:52. For some reason those miles are so much harder than at the beginning of a workout. Proud that I mangaed to hit that pace. #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

The Berlin Diaries: Week 5

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Fifth week of my Berlin Diaries. Enjoy! June 22nd (W5/D1): New week and a double digit run as an easy run... Definitely takes some getting used to. But got it done! #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

June 23rd (W4/D2): Easy 8 rounds out 52 miles in 6 days... not too shabby #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

June 24th (W4/D3): Rest Day :) #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

June 25th (W4/D4): Mile repeats at goal marathon pace of sub-3... didn't quite hit them as hoped but the effort was honest. #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

June 26th (W4/D5): Easy recovery run with Zola but I have to say fitting in 8 miles before work is hard. #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

June 27th (W4/D6): And another easy 8. Had someone told me a few months ago that I would be running 8 milers for my easy days I would have laughed... finished up with strides. Do your strides! #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

June 28th (W4/D7): 12 mile long run with a fast 9th and 10th mile at 7:09 and 6:53. Whoop! #theberlindiaries #berlinmarathon

Athletes Corner: Julia Webb (runner, mother, wife, coach)

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I am very pleased to present a second person in my series of inspiring women. Julia Webb wears many hats, she is an accomplished runner, mother to Joanie, wife to Alan Webb (American record holder in the mile), and running coach. I first saw her pictures with hilarious captions on there Instagram account (@runteamwebb) and then read her blog posts on her website which center on topics such as exercise, nutrition, pregnancy and much more. I love how sincere Julia describes the ups and downs of being an active mom, before, during and post pregnancy. In the interview below, you can read more in-depth what her thoughts are on making time for exercise, fueling during pregnancy, scheduling a busy day and keeping motivation high even on days that feel 'off'. After speaking to Jessica in the last interviews, Julia is another example of how amazingly women deal with the added responsibilities of motherhood and how the physical demands of pregnancy can sometimes make you a stronger athlete postpartum. Thank you, Julia! 

How did you become a runner and what is your favorite distance?

I started running as a last resort to participating in a sport as a senior in high school. I never thought i’d ever become a “runner” as I saw it as boring, unathletic and something my mom likes to do. (she was never competitive, but always jogging throughout my childhood- my dad the stud basketball player and good at any sport he tried was my role model). My first “race” my mom successfully convinced me to run in was a local 5K the weekend before school started in fall 2000. Wearing a baggy sweatshirt, basketball shoes and no warm up, I got 2nd (21:15) to a coach who asked who I ran for. I explained this might have been my first 3 miles ever run in a row. My previous training was all geared toward basketball - lots of time on the court, regular time in the weight room and the occasional mile on the treadmill or around the school block to warm up for my lift. I had a miserable experience my sophomore and junior years playing basketball -despite my love for the sport and strong dedication, I had some major clashing with the coaches and lacked the power to be on our starting line up. We were a powerhouse but I didn’t have what it took, along with my lack of confidence, spiralling me into depression. I decided to quit before senior year but was desperately seeking a new athletic opportunity.

After the race, I decided to show up for cross country practice. My first day I was amazed at how fun and easy the 5 mile run went by. A few weeks later at my first race, I put all my frustration from my basketball days into that competition, proving that I was good at something and gutted out a 7th place finish at a big invite. In complete agony, dying the final straight when everyone was kicking it in.. I ran a 15:40 4K time, beating my teammates by over 2 minutes. I found my sport. Something I was good at. I had never experienced anything to that degree, the nerves, pushing through the pain, being in complete control of my result. All I had to do was run hard and get from start to finish and the post-race high made it all worth the mid-race struggle. Not only the races, but the miles our team put into practice was the highlight of my day. From there I went on to run in college and have never lost my passion for the sport 15 years later. My favorite distance remains the 3000m steeplechase on the track. I love that its not as brutally long as a 5K on the track, but just 10 minutes of grinding and pain. The barriers add another challenge that favour my long legs and remind me of cross country, my second favourite event. I was fortunate to run it my freshman year (at UW-La Crosse)and with some great guidance in early steeple drill training, I was able to place 3rd at the national meet with a PR of 10:50. I finished 1st and 3rd, three more times at NCAAs and ended my college career with a 10:22 PR. Post collegiately I’ve run at three USATF Outdoor Championships (including a top 10 finish), a PR of 9:55 set when my daughter was 10 months old. I can’t wait to race it again, with my goal being- get on the 2016 Olympic Trials starting line with a 9 month old (currently pregnant).

Julia Alan Webb
Julia Alan Webb

You race quite a bit and not even a pregnancy (or two) can stop you? What is special about racing vs “just running to stay fit"?

I am addicted to racing! Some people like to go out with friends, others go out and dance... I get my high from racing! You can’t duplicate the energy and adrenaline the race environment provides. No matter what stage of fitness I am in (or condition - as in being pregnant), I don’t shy away from opportunities. I love testing to see where I’m at, using a competitive setting to push me to get the best out of myself. If I just ran to stay fit, I would definitely get bored fast. I need to mix up my training every 2-3 days with some form of speedwork. If I’m not sore a couple times a week, I better have a good reason! While I’m at it, why not reap the rewards of your fitness by doing a race.

You are also a mother, wife and coach. Could you walk us through a day in the life?

There are two versions of what’s normal in my current life - when my husband Alan is traveling and when he is home. It can be as much as 50/50 being a single mom (although, we try to travel some too when convenient). Currently I’m in the middle of a 6 week stretch when Alan is overseas training and competing in triathlon. Here’s a normal week day - 6:00 wake up , light breakfast, check emails, etc 6:45 2.5 year old Joanie yells “I up! I up! I up!” - the only baby phrase she has not dropped out of habit from when she first learned to talk 7:30 drop off Joanie at her “school” - 3 days a week has part time care 7:45 - Run / follow up w/ core/strength 2-3x a week. Once during weekday do quality workout. 9:00-12:15 - follow up emails, coaching, etc… and eat :) 12:30 - pick up Joanie 1:00-3:00 naps for Joanie, I usually crash for an hour (only have been since pregnancy started, since 2nd trimester just began, feeling less the need for the nap!). Clean house, chores, more time on computer 3:30 snacks w/ Joanie and play or grocery shop- lately been swimming in our pool every afternoon, core/yoga session w/ Joanie if i skipped in AM. 5:30 cook dinner, eat 7:30 start bedtime routine for Joanie (bath, stories, jump around and sing) 8:30 - bed time for Joanie 8:45 - catch ⅙ of a movie I’ve started on netflix, call Alan 9:30 - bedtime

On days she is at home, I will either run with Joanie in the stroller, head to the gym for the treadmill/bike/pool (and utilize their childcare) or occasionally get up before dawn while its cool to run 1000m loops around our gated apartment complex with her monitor audible outside our apartment. If she wakes up mid-run, will let her watch a show in her crib while i finish up or drag the stroller out.

Julia Webb planking
Julia Webb planking

You choose to keep a running and fitness regimen that puts many of us to shame. How do you (re)fuel and do you use nutritional supplements?

I definitely take advantage of eating lots of calories! Especially during pregnancy, I feel like I can burn through anything, but have to be careful not to have a massive meal at once or I get severe indigestion. So my go-to strategy has been to have something light before an early morning run (lately just started trying the product UCAN - a form of carbs/energy that should sustain me through a run - but typically I am starving 20 minutes in if that’s all I used, so have been adding a half energy bar = favorite is regular old Powerbar vanilla/chocolate or a GU as well). I always have a little coffee pre-run (no more than a shot worth of espresso now that I’m pregnant). Since its so warm here in Arizona, I have been running w a water bottle/sometimes with NUUN added, carry it a mile into the run, drop it in the bushes to access at some point. I can’t stand having a water belt. I stash candy or GU in my shorts for any carb needing emergencies :)

Post run hydration is key with an immediate source of carbs/light protein. (apple and rest of my energy bar for example) to tie me over while I make breakfast.

Breakfast - my favorite meal of the day - usually a massive bowl of oatmeal made with milk, with berries, bananas and nut butter added as a dipping sauce. Lunch - varies (and have food on my mind w/ different cravings all the time being pregnant) - fruit, either sandwich, salad, chips ; or pasta/salad or burrito ... Snack - fruit, dark chocolate, nuts or small bar Dinner - varies - tons of veggies, more fruit, rice/pasta/potato base and meat - (beef, chicken, fish, pork…) - typically take my prenatal or Proferrin iron supplement. Favorite cusine - thai food!!! Snack - cereal w/ milk

Julia Webb Nike Track
Julia Webb Nike Track

If you don’t mind me asking, how much weight did you gain in your first pregnancy and what was it like during and then getting back in shape?

Initially in my pregnancy I gained a good 8 lbs my first trimester and up to a total of 25 lbs by the end of my second (started at same weight I was before second pregnancy). However, due to severe indigestion and extreme discomfort when I ate to any level of fullness, I gained 0 lbs during my 3rd trimester. Obviously the baby continued to grow, but I must have lost some body fat. She weighed 7 lbs, 15 oz, completely healthy, although my midwife had me checked a few times because I was “measuring small”. Getting back in shape postpartum was not much of an issue. When Joanie was one month old I was back to looking “normal” for me. I held onto 10 pounds for at least 2.5 months, but then I went through a very stressfu l cross country moving experience, and baby Joanie picked up some severe collic which made my life very difficult w/ lack of sleep and digestion issues-- from month 3-6 I dropped an additional 18 lbs (was at lightest post high school weight ever- while continuing to breast feed) - all due to stress. I was also very frustrated with a debilitating hip injury I sustained during the beginning of my 2nd trimester, still not healed and it had been going on for over 9 months, where I was unable to run without pain. I realized how unhealthy my weight was after friends began to comment, and got myself back into eating more and thankfully got some support in helping Joanie out. I got back to my former go-to race weight of 125lbs. By 6 months, with some physical therapy I was able to run painfree and got back into fitness very fast with the help of my coach. Only 3 months in of regular run training and intense workouts, I was back to PR shape, only to eventually be even better - with a  more relaxed race day attitude, an even greater level of toughness my natural childbird experience taught me, elevated blood levels from the pregnancy. So, during my 8th season competiting at in the steeplechase, I dropped 20 seconds off my PR and also a good 10 seconds with only one attempt at the 1500m.

Julia Webb pregnant
Julia Webb pregnant

Do you work out with a team or coach? If not how do you stay motivated day in and day out?

Currently I am living in Arizona due to my husband’s triathlon training group, so at the moment I have been doing 90% of my runs/workouts solo. I don’t mind that I have complete control of what I’m doing now that I’m pregnant - so I can really read my body and not be tempted to go too hard to keep up with someone. In Beaverton, Oregon (our home), I typically meet up with teammates/friends at least 3-4 times a week, typically at Nike headquarters right by my house. Two of those sessions include hard workouts. I run for Bowerman Track Club and work part time as a run coach at Nike campus Sports Center when I’m back in Oregon. If it wasn’t for my teammates (Kristen Rohde, Karlee Coffee, Anna Connor) and my coach Jon Marcus - I would NEVER be able to reach my potential and push myself to the degree that I do during these sessions. I have been trying to really grasp the concept of recovery and backing off big time on my easy days. If I’m not fully rested going into harder sessions, I will be dropped in an instant. My motivation rarely ever wanes, I love being an athlete and constantly testing my limits, with my only desire to reach a higher level so I can justify living my life the way I do :) My husband is the true professional athlete in the family, so I always ensure that my needs are second to support him first. Until I have the opportunity to make any money in the sport, I will continue to see it as a hobby.

What physical activities do you do on *gasp* rest days?

Typically reserve the rest days for spending energy in the sun or playing with Joanie. I definitely try to move around on those days so I don’t feel like I’m missing out. The worst thing to do is sit inside all day if you’re “resting”. I try to pretend I’m a normal mom who doesn’t like working out. I try to remember to save the energy for the next day. Typically I take a full day off every 2-3 weeks. Getting a massage is also a great way to splurge on a day off.

What is your favourite indulgence (food or other things)?

Running :) obviously.. but outside of that, I LOVE coffee. Thankfully with pregnancy and living in a hot dry climate, my cravings have dramatically dropped, but still look forward to a daily cup of pour-over or coffee shop Americano. With pregnancy I’ll make a full strength cup but rarely drink more than 6 oz of it.

Have you had to overcome (running related) injuries? How did you do it?

Yes. Aside from a month long hip injury I sustained during over-stretching in a yoga pose during track season in college, I have had one serious injury to date and it was during my last pregnancy. It was probably one of the toughest things mentally I’ve had to deal with. I was running some pretty quick workouts feeling very strong and getting respectable race times in my first trimester of pregnancy #1 until I started noticing my right hip started aching right when my belly first started growing. I ignored it, thinking “I get aches and pains all the time, but this couldn’t be anything serious”. Ignoring it and running through it proved to be a terrible decision. Despite stopping all run activity, the pain worsened as the pregnancy went on. It took 6 full months postpartum to be pain free. I got all kinds of wrong answers during pregnancy, with doctors suspecting a stress fracture, etc.. I only realized post pregnancy it had to be a ligament or possibly a labral tear in my hip. Back in Portland after 3 months of no successful healing, I got exercises from my coach and saw a local physical therapy place for rehab and eventually it cleared up as I resumed training.

What advice would you give someone who is a running novice or looking to get fit later in life and particularly if they are mothers with a set of responsibilities, tight schedules etc.?

Create a time to workout in your calendar. No excuses as if you have to attend, block out the hour each day! My saving grace has been joining a gym with a childcare option. I have up to 2 hours to workout/shower for a very reasonable rate. Get support from your spouse, and if they are gone, find other moms who could possibly swap care to workout. Get a jogging stroller! Also another savior and offering me complete freedom to workout when I am without my husband. Starting as early as 3 weeks you can run with your baby (forward facing attachment) and weather conditions don’t apply (I’ve ran in torrential downpours - with Joanie nice and cozy under the rain cover, to negative temperatures (bundled up nice and cozy again!) . There are no excuses. If you work full time, run during your lunch hour or get up an hour earlier to fit it in first thing in morning (with coffee ready to be made, clothes laid out). Find a local running group that meets regularly to find same-level training partners and new workout friends. Sign up for a race to keep you motivated in training!

Julia Webb Alexi Pappas
Julia Webb Alexi Pappas

How would you describe the emotional benefits of running, given that it is a sport that comes with a lot of highs and lows over time…

Aside from my year long injury, I have experienced much more of the upside on emotional benefits! Yes there are days which turn into complete disappointments, you just feel plain terrible, or go through a funk where you don’t want to get out there or complete the workout. But I always try to push through those bad times, knowing they will all be worth it. In my first trimester just recently, I felt absolutely terrible on most “easy runs”, especially if I didn’t get out when it was under 70 degrees in the desert sun . I would frequently look at the side of the trail and think, "wow that looks like a great place to lay down" and just have runs when I couldn’t wait to finish. But each of those runs, when I did finish, I would be so thankful I got it done, because my trusty runners high would set in, and make me feel I could take on anything the rest of the day (with a nap of course!). I am so thankful for this sport, but try to keep my perspective that it is a gift and can easily be taken away. I try not to get carried away in making it my all, and see my faith in God, family and overall health as #1.

Quick questions:

Athlete crush? Alan Webb - up and coming triathlete… American record holder in the mile ;)

Trail or Road? Trail! Have never done an official trail race, on my to-do list

Long runs or Speed Work? A combo of both - get the best of both worlds - I rarely do straight up long runs. Often my weekend long run is part of a grinding interval session!

Garmin or carefree? I have only run with a Garmin once during Hood to Coast and got made fun of by my old school coach. I prefer coaching athletes with a Garmin though, so i have a better sense of measure.

Solo or with company? With company!! I really miss my Oregon training partners !!

Why I'm celebrating Thanksgiving on the beach (early)...

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My birthday usually falls around Thanksgiving so a few weeks ago I decided to to check what flights to Miami would be like during that time. As foreigners, Chris and I don't celebrate Thanksgiving. Over the years we've been invited to many different family gatherings and while we enjoy them, they don't hold the same meaning for us as they do for everyone around us. Only problem is... we are leaving tomorrow because I was sure that Thanksgiving was tomorrow. Flights were cheap, great hotel choices and weird enough, nobody was traveling.

This also meant that I had to reschedule the rest of the week and cancel my classes for Friday and Saturday.

Most people laughed, one or two thought that I was making this up. Chris was a surprised when I told him to take some time off from work. But guess what in the end, I'm so happy this mistake happened.

Chris and I haven't had a vacation by ourselves, without responsibilities in forever. We both run businesses, we eat, sleep, breathe our work and we take care and dote on Zola.

We have taken family vacations to Germany and Australia. Those were beautiful. But we didn't have too much time for just us.

So this is what we are going to do for the next 4 days:

- focus on each other

- turn our phones off

- sleep in

- eat, drink, be merry

- AND: NOTHING!

I can't wait!

We all live in an interconnected world that has us constantly buzzing with information, messages, and more. We are constantly reachable, we check email first thing in the morning, and Instagram last thing at night. Meeting friends requires more organizing than before smartphones, now we can text and cancel, our opentable reservation as well as with the person we're meeting. We are running later and because we can let someone know in an instance, it's ok... because they are probably answering emails while they wait.

When do we truly unplug? Even for an hour... maybe even for a weekend.

romavolleyball

This holiday season I hope you get to unplug with people that you love. Take some time and share it with someone else. Give the gift of feeling and being fully present, not rushing and enjoying yourself.

Let me know how that goes for you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Roma

Rice Pilaf and sauteed Kale

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For Monday dinner, we had a beautiful summer/ fall dish. It has felt like fall in New York City and so rice pilaf and sauteed kale sounded just right. You will need 2 tbs of butter or a vegetable substitute, 1/2 cup of orzo pasta and 1/2 cup of basmati rice, 2 cloves garlic, 1 small onion, 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.

Prepare the pilaf as follows:

Melt the butter or oil in a saucepan. Cook and stir orzo pasta until golden brown. Stir in onion and cook until onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Mix in the rice and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

In the meantime wash and trim one bunch of Tuscan kale, add 3 garlic cloves (cut in half) to 2 tbs of EVOO in a skillet on medium heat. Wait until they are browned and fragrant, then add the kale little by little. After a few minutes it will wilt and you can add up to 1/4 cup of tamari. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

ENJOY!

Cherry Pie (drool...)

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It is summer, darlings! And that means fruit pies... in particular for me: cherry pie (while I wait for the farmers market peaches to arrive). Those who have taken my classes this week may have noticed that I had an upset stomach a few times. As a girl once summer break came around I could usually be found at my best friend's house - in the cherry tree. I usually paid for the hours of eating cherries (and drinking water) with an upset stomach. And the past week was no different. Not in a cherry tree anymore but I ate as if I was and arrived at some classes with a bit of an upset tummy.

Anyhow... I hope you are all enjoying the diversity of summer fruit that is so abundant these days.

This pie was adapted from Smitten Kitchens' beautiful sour cherry recipe, made with some leftovers that I had but turned out delicious.

You will need:

One Trader Joes frozen pie shell

For the filling:

1.5-2 lbs of cherries (of the dark sweet variety) 2 tbs of corn starch 1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar

For the crust:

2/3 cup rolled oats or Trader Joes hot multigrain cereal: organic rolled whole grains(rye, barley, oats & wheat) 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup all purpose flour 1/2 cup almonds 4 tbs of melted butter (cooled)

cherry pie

Let the frozen pie shell thaw and then press it into a pie form or a quiche pan - parbake in the oven for 10 mins at 300 degrees. Take out and let cool.

Mix the cherries with the other ingredients. Fill the mixture into the cooled pie shell.

In a food processor grind the oats/ grain mixture with the almonds, then add sugar and flour. Move the flour mixture to a bowl and combine with cinnamon and then fold in the melted butter.

Spread the almond/ flour mixture over the cherries. Bake in the oven for 70 minutes at 350. Once it starts smelling deliciously and is lightly browned on top, take it out. Let cool slightly and serve with fresh whipped cream or clotted cream.

ENJOY!

Arugula Couscous Salad

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Another easy, breezy, beautiful recipe :) Arugula Couscous Salad with parmesan and a lemon dressing.

All you need is a cup of pre-cooked and chilled couscous. Then take 4 cups (a big bowl of it anyway) washed arugula. Grate a half cup of parmesan and mix it with the salad and coucous.

For the dressing simply mix 1/4 cup of EVOO, juice of one lemon and add salt and pepper.

Voila! #vegetarian #notvegan #notpaleo #delish

 

 

Mango Lassi Ice Cream

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When life hands you mangos, you have got to make mango lassi ice cream. Also because peeling mango and making it look presentable is tedious. It's easier to put it straight in the nutribullet and then try to (gracefully) eat the rest of flesh off the pit, while nobody is watching. The combination of yoghurt, chia seeds, mango and mint makes this recipe very fresh and healthy.

For 4 pop molds, add 1.5 cups of yoghurt to a blender. The amounts I used work well for the nutribullet but if you have a bigger blender, you could double or triple the amounts. Add 3 tbs of chia seeds and let the mixture sit for about 15-20 minutes until the seeds take on a gelatinous texture. Add the flesh of one mango and a handful of mint leaves (approximately 10). Blend the mixture with 4 ice cubes and fill it into the pop molds. Let them freeze over night.

Done. Ice cream for breakfast!

ENJOY!

The Watermelon Feta Salad you always wanted to make and never dared to try...

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You know how restaurants feature fancy watermelon salads with mint and feta. They are a fresh summer side dish, delicious and quick. You love all the ingredients, but somehow you never see yourself making it at home... So a few weeks ago, we started gardening on our little deck. One of the key ingredients I wanted were a few herb plants. I'm not great at landscaping and I've already forgotten which flowers go by which name. Ahem...

BUT: I got mint. And it is alive and kicking. So yesterday I made watermelon feta salad with mint. And it turned out delicious.

You need: 1/4 watermelon, cut into bite size pieces, 2oz feta cheese (or more if you like), black pepper, 3-4 tbs EVOO, 2 limes and 1/4 medium onion chopped very fine, one handful of mint chopped.

Toss the watermelon with the mint, juice of 2 limes and onion and let it sit. Add the EVOO, feta, pepper. Take a photo for Instagram and voila!

ENJOY!

I baked bread! So you can, too (gluten free option)

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I am notorious for baking bread rolls with a beautiful yeast base and ruining them EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. The result of my attempts to make brioche, challah or bread can be used to smash in windows and even Zola won't eat them. So when I heard about this bread that would only take about 15 minutes active time, I was skeptical to say the least.

But I did it and it worked out beautifully.

You will need:

2 cups of (gluten-free) rolled oats

2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour (Bob's Red Mill makes a gf version that you could use)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1.5 cups buttermilk

1 egg

Pulse the oats in a food processor until fine. Then combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the egg plus buttermilk in a different bowl.

Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the buttermilk gently folding it in. The dough will be very sticky but resist the urge to over mix it.

Place the dough on a floured surface and gently kneed it - if too sticky add a little flour. Then score the center in a cross shape (it is almost Easter after all!).

Grease an oven-proof cast iron skillet and place the dough in the center. Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes and then reducing the heat to 400 for another 25 minutes.

At this point you should see a beautiful cross shape on top of your bread and when you knock on the bottom it should sound hollow.

Here! You're done!

This bread, warm with butter is literally heaven. At least my idea of heaven. I'm German, after all.

ENJOY! xx

Cabbage Lentil Soup

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For Tasty Tuesday, this is a nice lunch the next day as well as a light dinner. Cabbage Lentil Soup with Farro. I try and keep my dinners lighter than my lunches and reduce the amount of carbs and heavy foods in the evening. Sometimes more successfully than other times. Somehow when I do that, I want to snack around 9/10 pm.

This soup is satisfying in smells, looks and flavours. Cabbage is widely used as a diet food. Who doesn't remember the cabbage detox soup? And lentils are filling and combined with the faro a great protein for your workouts!

You will need:

  • one small onion
  • 3 cloves (not BULBS as previously stated in a recipe) garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs of thyme, rosemary and 1/2 tbs of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • half a head of cabbage
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of red lentils
  • 1/2 cup of farro
  • 2 cups of kale

Sautee the onion and garlic in 2 tbs of EVOO until fragrant. Add the spices and keep it cooking for a few minutes. Add the cabbage for 5 minutes until lightly browned and wilted. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and add the broth, lentils and farro.

Cook all of this for 20-15 minutes partially covered. Then add the kale on top, cover with a lid and cook for another 5 minutes.

ENJOY!!

xxR

Red Lentils Recipe

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This red lentils recipe is so simple, I don't have much to say about it except that it is so yummy and was a total "what's left in the fridge" dinner. Red lentils with fennel. It may seem odd that we have fennel and lentils left over but it was that dire!

I really like fresh fennel. In Germany women give young babies fennel to help with colicky nights and even as an adolescent I always really liked that particular tea. So now I sometimes buy Yogi Tea Stomach Ease which includes it. I have also started using fresh fennel in recipes such as "The Chew's" braised short ribs with red wine and fennel and the middle Eastern dish with Kibbeh and fennel salad a la Ottolenghi that I featured here on the blog.

This red lentils dish is great by itself or as a side dish. All you need is one cup of red lentils for every 2 cups of water or (preferably) broth.

Bring the water/ broth to a boil, stir in the red lentils. Cut one fennel bulb in half and slice very thinly and add that half to the boiling lentils.

It will take approximately 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked, then you can sneak in a teaspoon of Turmeric for its amazing health benefits and: ENJOY!

xxR

 

On Procrastinating

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Procrastinating... we all do it in one way or another. Sometimes more consciously and sometimes more unconscious. It can be a matter of a day within which we don't manage to finish all our tasks, or pushing aside a different task over the span of days/ weeks/ months. Usually it's about something uncomfortable. But whenever we wake up from procrastinating we feel worse for it... Everyone does it and mind you I initially started writing this post 4 weeks ago :)

So here are some facts on what procrastination is psychologically (and what it is not). And further down I will share some ways I have learned to break through it or methods that are generally recommended. And then you can decide whether you want to call yourself a chronic procrastinator - like 20% of the US population - or maybe you're just a person who is looking for the right moment and inspiration!

  1. Procrastinating is something you learned at home. So if it's something you picked up, you can drop it again. Yes, really!
  2. Procrastinating is actually bad for your health. Being immobile, which is usually the way of dealing with things, weakens your immune system and can cause gastrointestinal problems and even insomnia.
  3. It is not poor time management or planning. You are simple a little bit more "optimistic" with your time.
  4. Are you trying to piss someone off? Because they may take it that way...

Now here's what to do:

  1. Find someone to jump-start you. It takes extra effort to come back to discipline, so find someone who will nag you repeatedly. When it's done, take them out for brunch. This year...
  2. Make a list and then do the hard stuff first. No task is so hard you can't find a way to motivate yourself. Be nice to yourself.
  3. Focus on one thing at a time and turn off distractions. Instant gratification of counting your Instagram or Facebook likes is awesome. But imagine how much greater it will be when you check back later and suddenly the number of likes is double digits instead of individual.
  4. Schedule breaks and how long they should last (!). Then if it's a longer project schedule the end time and reward yourself. Now go check your likes and have some ice cream.

Oh and while you're on Facebook and Instagram, come over to my pages and say hello, too! But only AFTER you're done.

xxR

Healthy Breakfast and Snack Ideas (with Strawberries!)

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If you are pressed for time (like I am today!!), I say, go break out the blender for these healthy breakfast and snack ideas. I am obsessed with strawberries! I can eat them fresh, frozen, on cakes, pureed, as ice cream, yoghurt and even on toast (remember?).

So what better way to start my busy morning today than with a smoothie! I have recently acquired a Nutribullet and oh boy has it changed my life. It's quick and easy to clean and store which is vital in a NYC apartment.

This morning we had a beautiful smoothie that really packed a punch with the following ingredients (and nutrients):

SPINACH: vitamins K and A, folic acid, dietary fiber and protein! BANANA: potassium, tryptophan, serotonin and norepinephrine! DATES: iron, calcium, vitamin A and ß-carotene! STRAWBERRIES: vitamin C, fiber, manganese and folate!

So with one delicious cup of smoothie (even though the colour doesn't give it away) we took care of our heart, bones, memory, muscles, immune system and mental health as well as female health.

For a late morning snack I prepared some Chia Seed Pudding with Strawberries. Chia Seeds are the flaxseed of the millennial generation ;) They reduce food cravings, help you stay hydrated, lower blood pressure and are rich in Omega-3. Add 2 tbs of seeds to 1 cup of almond milk or coconut milk, add the fruit of your choice (2/3-1 cup), buy a cool looking mason jar to store in, and refrigerate for 5 hrs or overnight.

ENJOY!

xxR

Healing and a New Moon

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2014 is charging ahead. It is supposed to be ripe with opportunity and to favour the quick thinkers and decision makers. It is also full of new moons already! In less than three days, we will have a new moon again, the third one this year. This new moon will be in Pisces. I won't attempt to give you an astrological or mystical breakdown of what awaits, but I have come to appreciate new moons as mini new beginnings so I will do the same with this one. Also, the topic of healing came up (my husband compared me to Chiron... I'll write a separate post on that, ha!). As you may know, I suffered from sciatica for three years. It was excruciatingly painful and had absolutely no physical source (at least initially). I talked to a few new mothers this week and some of them told me about their experiences with lower back issues and also sciatica. Sciatica just like many other ailments and pains, usually stems from imbalance, emotional or physical. We can treat the symptoms but until we attack the root cause, the problem will keep returning. It took me another 2 years to get to the root and work on eliminating it and therefore reducing the pain and it took some pretty big changes in attitude and behavioural patterns. I was able to heal with a lot of support from others but mainly because I sought and went after more balance in my life.

Now this new moon on March 1st is in Pisces and asking for a closer look at some of our patterns, it is supposed to set a tone for pause and reflection while we consider where our energy has become totally out of balance.

There it is again: balance. The word pops up a lot. We talk about work-life balance, mind-body balance, balancing acts, balanced meals, the balance of power, standing balances and being well-balanced mentally.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

Balance is such an integrative part of our vocabulary but still, we rarely achieve it in our life. This upcoming new moon wants to remind us how to do it. It asks us to tune inward and listen. To pay attention to our dreams. To flow and be connected. To merge and take a break from mundane activities. My interpretation and what I'm intending to do (especially since it's coming on the weekend) is the following:

  • Seeing people that I don't often see and miss (!). I started today with a lovely lunch and it made me happy.
  • Engaging in activities that I love and that allow me to reflect. I will probably go for a run.
  • Taking some me time.
  • Trying to refrain from being impatient for x amount of hours per day. With others AND myself.
  • Preparing and savouring nourishing food. And ideally sharing it in lovely company.
  • Resting and taking a moment in the morning to reflect on my dreams.
  • Beginning or ending the day reminding myself of what I'm grateful for (and writing it down).
  • Writing down my dreams for the future as a way of manifesting them / announcing them to the Universe.

I can't believe we are almost in March. Three weeks and change until Spring. Could it be true?

Let me know what you will be doing for the new moon or what you have done to heal after a difficult emotional or physical setback.

I would love to hear from you!

xxR

Zucchini Onion Quiche

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This zucchini onion quiche is a nice vegetarian dinner for two. Not sure if it's technically a quiche or a pie but it tasted great. You will need: 3 eggs, 1 cup of grated parmesan, 1 medium onion chopped, 1 clove garlic,  salt and pepper to taste, 2 medium zucchini sliced, 1/2 cup EVOO, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 2 tbs baking powder, 1/2 cup of ghee or butter or another vegetable oil (whatever you do, do NOT use coconut oil. Trust me I tried...).

Mix the whisked eggs, parmesan, salt and pepper, zucchini, minced garlic, and EVOO. Then add the onion and the mixture of flour, baking powder and ghee (mix those three ingredients separately until smooth). The result will be a very unattractive weird "dough" that you can now refine with spices you like. I added some paprika and some everything spice. You could also add something like cayenne or maybe crushed red pepper flakes for some extra oomph.

Transfer to a pie dish or rectangular baking tray and bake for 40 minutes at 350 F.

Enjoy! And let me know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook. If you liked it, please share with your friends, too!

xxR