Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pure Wraps and Paleonola: Would I buy them again?

I don't know about you, but sometimes I really miss things like sandwiches and cereal. So, I was kindof excited to hear about a couple of paleo food creations with the potential to fill the hole in my heart left by my inability to pour a bowl of Puffins for breakfast or sink my teeth into a cold turkey sandwich on chewy sourdough bread for lunch (total exaggeration -- there really is no hole in my heart over this). The products I'm referring to: Pure Wraps and Paleonola. If you read paleo blogs or follow paleo tweets, you've probably heard of them. Both products are fairly new, and both seem to be getting a fairly positive response from members of the paleo community.

But are they really that great? Here are my thoughts ...

I'll start with the Pure Wraps. These babies are crazy expensive. We're talking $5.99 for a pack of four, and shipping is upwards of $8. I teamed up with four friends so we could order in bulk and save some cash on shipping, but we still paid $14.10 each for two packs. That comes to $1.76 per (tiny) wrap. IMHO, that's too much. I would rather use lettuce! I do understand that the wraps are probably fairly costly to produce, so the price is probably fair -- but that doesn't make it a worthy investment. As for flavor, texture and functionality, well, they are just OK. Flavor wise, they are sweet (way sweeter than I expected). The texture is decent, but they don't really wrap all that well (meaning, they don't stay folded the way a traditional sandwich wrap or tortilla does). I made veggie sandwiches and tuna sandwiches with my wraps, and the ingredients kept sliding out. I also spread a wrap with almond butter and homemade pear vanilla jam (almost like a paleo-friendly PB&J) -- this was by far my favorite Pure Wrap experiment. The combo of ingredients just seemed to make sense, given the sweetness of the wrap.

What did my friends think? So far, reviews are mixed. One friend has yet to report her findings. Another shares my opinion. The fourth friend gives a thumbs up. "Loved the wraps," she told me in a text message the other night. "I made two tonight, filled with egg, turkey, mayo and mango salsa. Yummy!" 

So, how about the Paleonola? In terms of flavor and quality: five stars! Paleonola is soooo delicious. The problem? It is super sweet and super addicting. And, since it is made out of nuts and seeds and honey and fruit it isn't really something we should be eating without restraint. In fact, I would say it is best to avoid using it as a cereal substitute. Instead, I would suggest sprinkling it over fresh fruit or perhaps mixing it in with some Greek yogurt (if you do dairy). In short, despite the fact that it is a near-perfect product -- it should be treated as, well, a treat. Price-wise, it won't set you back as much as the Pure Wraps but it isn't cheap either. I paid about $42.50 plus $12.50 in shipping for a variety pack. This allowed me to try a 10-ounce bag of all five flavors -- original, pumpkin pie, maple pancake, chocolate fix and apple pie (original is my favorite).

Would I order either product again? With the Pure Wraps, the answer is a hearty NO. At least not unless they slash the price (including the shipping costs) in half. Sure, I would like a sandwichy-type thing now and then, but not at this price. I would be far more compelled to occasionally buy a package if I could get them locally (right now, they are only available at a few retailers -- none anywhere near me).

I doubt I would order Paleonola again, either. Partly because I know that I could probably make some darn good grain-free granola in my own kitchen. Also, for the price, I can totally live without it. With that said, however, I really like the folks behind Paleonola and I want to support small businesses that are helping spread a good health message. So, if I could get Paleonola locally I would strongly consider buying it every once in a while.

Have you tried Pure Wraps or Paleonola? If so, what did you think?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Baby's room, workouts and the general haps

First, a couple of photos of the baby's room in progress! What do you think? And yes, that is a glider you are looking at it. Ugh. Unfortunately, it was our only option. I am not in love with the look of it, but it is comfy and practical and something we'll be able to sell later on.

Getting things done
Blogging about my lack of motivation must have been just the remedy I need, because Monday turned out to be one of my most productive days in weeks! After a lazy morning of napping and reading, I did some serious organizing in the bathrooms, took a few things to Goodwill and moved all of the stuff we were storing in the hallway into the guest room. The guest room now looks like something you would see on an episode of Hoarders. If anyone is planning to come stay with us anytime in the next few weeks, don't worry -- the bed is still visible! We'll be going through everything this weekend, but for now I am just happy to have the piles out of my sight.

As for yesterday, it was great ... but I wouldn't call it productive. I went to Costco. I went to Sweat360. I took two naps. I chatted with a friend for a couple of hours. I watched New Girl (hilarious!), Raising Hope (after watching season one on Hulu, the characters are growing on me), and Parenthood (I can't decide whether I love or hate this show). I took meat out the freezer for dinner (I didn't do anything with it, but actually remembering to take it out has to count for something!) and scrubbed the shower while Carl cleaned the shower doors (never get shower doors if you have a choice -- they are such a hassle to clean).

Pickles, but no ice cream
As far as paleo goes, I am still on the right track and very happy about it! My midwife told me at my appointment last week that it isn't big deal if I don't feel like eating (some days my appetite is normal, other days, like today, I have no appetite), which was a relief because Carl was somewhat concerned about my lack of interest in food (he wants to make sure the baby is getting what she needs) and we've had a few, um, debates about the topic. Anyway, she told me to just eat when I feel like eating and to continue avoiding sugar and junk food. Totally doable! For the past couple of days, I've been living on eggs, chicken sausage, green salad, apples, almond butter and pickles (seriously, the pickle thing has nothing to do with pregnancy -- I've always loved pickles).

Tuesday's workout
Now for a quick recap of yesterday's workout. In a non-pregnant state, this would have been a workout that totally kicked my butt. Five rounds of 400 meter runs, 10 barbell/push-press things with a name I can't recall right now, 10 medicine ball throws (we throw them over the TRX bar, which for me is pretty high) and 10 walking lunges. I had to take it really easy, though, so I finished the workout pretty quickly. I started out way overambitious, with a 30-pound barbell plus 20 pounds of weight. After one round, though, I knew that was a bad idea so I switched to a light bar with no extra weight. It was too easy, but it was the only way to ensure that a) I didn't fall over and b) I kept proper form. The medicine ball throws were tough (these are large medicine balls -- not the normal small ones). Right now, no matter how hard I try, I cannot get the 10-pound ball over the bar because my belly is in the way. Normally attempts don't count, but I made an executive decision to count attempts. Otherwise, I doubt I would have ever finished the workout. Walking lunges were a piece of cake, though (and a great exercise for all pregnant women to incorporate into their routine!). Tonight's workout is TRX/kettlebells. I know it will be challenging, and I know I won't be able to do kettlebell swings. But I am looking forward to it nonetheless and anxiously awaiting the day I can amp things up again!

Physical changes, etc.
Switching gears a little now -- I can hardly believe that I am now in my 36th week! Baby is due one month from tomorrow. Time is flying. We still have more to do, but I am pretty relaxed about it all. Everything will fall into place. She'll arrive at the perfect moment, and if we don't have every to-do checked off the list I'm sure we'll find a way to manage.

Speaking of being relaxed, I'm definitely experiencing the effects of relaxin -- the hormone responsible for loosening joints and ligaments in preparation for childbirth. Over the course of the past week, I have actually been able to see my hips getting bigger (yikes!). I know it sounds crazy, but it was like I woke up one morning with an extra inch of hips. Some of my clothes even feel a little snug in that area. I'm not sure whether this "expansion" will continue, but I do know that I have slept with less pain the past few nights so perhaps the relaxin has done its thing? I hope so!

Right now, my weight gain is holding steady at 28 pounds. I haven't gained any weight in a week, but the week prior I gained between two and three pounds. Because I love math (haha), I calculated my average weight gain per week thus far in order to determine how much weight I will gain overall. The results? I've gained .8 pounds per week, which means I'll gain 32 pounds by my due date. This, of course, is just a guestimate and I really have no idea how much weight I will gain between now and October 23rd. It is still fun for me to do the calculation, though.

OK, well, I guess that is it for now. I still have a busy afternoon ahead and I need to get to my list before I give in to the temptation to take another nap (my first nap of the day commenced at 10:30am, right after my massage appointment). Off to Trader Joe's to stock up on some healthy paleo eats for the next few days!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Five weeks to go and I am very, very tired!

I have been bitten by the lazy bug. I am completely exhausted most of the time and have little interest in doing anything other than napping, playing Scrabble, working out and going to my chiropractic/massage/pedicure/midwife appointments. I did envision this scenario, actually, which is why we planned to have all the baby prep finished by Labor Day Weekend. Unfortunately, we still have more to do! Nothing major (we have clothes, diapers and a place for her to sleep -- so if she arrived today everything would be just fine!), but enough to leave me feeling unsettled and disorganized! Plus, I have a million normal everyday tasks to work on. I want to get things done now because I know that once the baby is here, I won't have time for things like cleaning and organizing (at least not for a while).

I'm not just physically exhausted either ... I am mentally exhausted, too. Last night, for example, I sat down on the couch with a book. An informative book on breastfeeding that I need to read. I couldn't concentrate, though, and wound up watching Airplane instead (a hilarious movie that requires no concentration!). This, unfortunately, is affecting my blogging schedule and plans. I always have lots of great ideas for posts, but (obviously) they aren't moving past the idea phase. So, I decided that I'm going to save these ideas for later on. For now, I'm just going to blog about the simple and practical -- like what I'm doing (or not doing!) each day, my workouts and my diet in the final weeks of pregnancy (only five weeks to go!). I'm hoping this will help me keep some momentum going and help me add some structure to my days.

I'll start with a quick update on the junk food binge I blogged about several days ago. Thanks, by the way, for all the feedback! It is so comforting to know that I am not the only one who occasionally falls off the wagon. Anyway, after that post I had a few more rough days. Nothing like the days of cherry limeade and bread, but I was allowing too much non-paleo food to make its way into my diet. Ice cream one day, rice the next, a teaspoon of sugar in my coffee here and there. Not surprisingly, the longer this went on, the worse I felt and the stronger my aversions to eggs, chicken and veggies became. I decided to put a stop to it, cold turkey. Just like I did with cheese last year. Despite the fatigue, I feel fantastic now and I am reminded that consistently sticking to the paleo (pregnant or not) is exactly what my body needs. Over the course of the next month, I'm sure I'll indulge in a treat or two -- but no more all-out faileo moments. Childbirth is going to be tough, and I want to feel as good as possible going into it. How much more difficult will it be if I go into labor while suffering symptoms of the Standard American Diet? For me, probably a lot more difficult.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Working out in the final weeks of pregnancy

My due date is exactly 40 days away, and I am amazed by what I am still able to do in terms of my workouts. I always intended to keep up with my routine the entire time, but I had no idea I would still feel so strong in these final weeks. I do have to make some modifications, and I can't run and sprint and challenge my own strength as much as I would like -- but overall I really don't think pregnancy is all that much of a hindrance. I'm really, really happy with how things are going in this department! Last week, I did barbell snatches right along with the rest of the class. I kept the weight on the light side (for mobility and safety reasons), but it felt good knowing that the only thing holding me back right now is my round baby bump. Today's workout (five rounds of 10 push presses, 15 overhead lunges and 20 kettlebell deadlifts) was 100% doable for me ... I loved it and would have been OK doing another couple of rounds, even (although I did wimp out on skill portion of the workout -- get-ups -- because it is just such an awkward, uncomfortable movement for me).

With that said, I did experience some pretty significant doubt exactly three weeks ago. Looking back, I now know it coincided with a growth spurt (so many people commented on how the baby seemed to "pop" overnight) -- but at the time, it just felt like defeat. I wondered if it was time to scale everything back (way back). My workouts seemed almost pointless (they seemed pointless, but they weren't), and peddling the Airdyne while everyone else ran laps was depressing. Turns out I just needed a break. And a few minor tweaks.

The timing was perfect actually, because Sweat360 was about to take an end-of-summer vacation. Most classes were canceled, and Robert and Kili were going out of town. I decided to to take that time off, too. I didn't work out for 11 days in a row. Eleven days! I cannot remember the last time I took such a long break (probably back in 2007 when Carl was dealing with some very serious health issues). This was just what I needed, though. When I returned to the gym last Tuesday I was re-energized and no longer felt so defeated. I also met with Kili to discuss modifications ... things I can do to make sure I am getting the most out of my workouts. So, now I have a great list of alternatives at my disposal (like push-ups on a bench instead of the floor, for example) and I am reminded that breaks are good for the body and the soul. A week+ off every now and then is not going to undo all my hard work. And now I'm really excited to see how my workouts go over the next 40 days. Will I still be doing push presses and snatches four weeks from now? Time will tell, but I'm hoping the answer is yes!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Confession: A junk food binge

 I'm not going to lie. This is not just a random list of junk food ...
  • Two cherry limeades
  • Chicken and beef enchiladas (wrapped in corn tortillas) with rice
  • One soft serve vanilla ice cream cone
  • One Helados paleta
  • Three onion rings
  • Cheeseburger (with the bun)
  • Homemade bread with butter and jam
  • Caramel Frappe (decaf)
This is a list of all the junk food I ate last week (the week of August 29th). It didn't happen all in one day, and all this crap was offset by plenty of real food. But still! I really don't know what came over me, and one week later I am still disappointed in myself. I'm OK with a treat now and then, but a whole week of treats? Not OK. Especially because when I eat this junk, my baby eats this junk. If I could reverse the clock, I would keep the enchiladas (because they were crazy delicious and I had been thinking about good Mexican food for more than week) and toss everything else.

I didn't have any real trouble with this food (miraculously!) until Monday -- the day after my junk food binge ended and the day after the cheeseburger and homemade bread. My left ear was congested and I felt goopy in the back of my throat -- symptoms of overexposure to gluten.

I've been back on track this week, for the most part. Admittedly, though, I am struggling with paleo at the moment. I am not doubting its benefits and I have no intention of abandoning it ... I'm just a little bored and a lot tired of meat and eggs (please tell me I am not the only one who goes through this!?). I'm sure this is directly related to my lack of motivation in the kitchen. If I felt like cooking, I would probably be trying new recipes and would not be so bored. For now, though, it is a gargantuan effort to get a package of meat out of the freezer.  I'm wondering ... if it is this hard now, how much harder will it be once the baby arrives? At first, Carl will be home to cook and my parents will be here to help out, too. We might even make some paleo freezer meals in advance. But after Carl goes back to work and we start to settle into a routine, I'll be on kitchen duty once again. If I don't recapture at least some motivation, who knows what will happen. I'm just going to keep my hopes up that this whole cooking/food aversion thing will pass once I am no longer pregnant.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Baby clothes, messy house and my 32-week photo

Today, I decided to sort all my baby clothes by size. As suspected, my stash of newborn-sized clothes is seriously lacking. Time to shop for some onesies!

I have enough newborn clothes to get the baby through about two days, max.
In addition to shopping, we still have lots of work to do on the baby's room. Carl is almost finished with the painting, though, and we do have all of our big items (they are in boxes, but we have them!).

By the end of the weekend, this room will be almost ready for baby!

All of this baby prep has kept our home in disarray for weeks and weeks. Check out the mess ...

This is the living room, filled with boxes of baby furniture, gifts and supplies.  

The upstairs hallway. We still don't know where we're going to store everything.
I love our new Ikea bookshelves, but they are a long way from looking neat and orderly.
And the mess even spills over into the guest room.

I'm not sure how I'm going to organize any of this stuff with my giant baby belly in the way.

Here I am on Tuesday right before my midwife appointment. 32 weeks and 2 days; 25 extra pounds.

Recipe: Paleo double chocolate chunk cookies!

I love the double chocolate chunk cookies from Health-Bent.  The texture is like that of a fudgy brownie, and they are sweet but not too sweet. The best part: even paleo skeptics will enjoy them. Carl (who isn't really a paleo skeptic, but tends to prefer regular baked goods to those of the paleo variety) loves these cookies -- they are his favorite paleo treat.

I've made these cookies twice this week. The first batch went with Carl and some friends out on our sailboat. A bit jealous, I decided to bake another batch yesterday. I didn't have enough almond butter, however, so I used sunflower butter instead. Big, big improvement (even though the recipe was great to begin with!). I also use maple syrup instead of sugar, and as far as the baking goes I recommend rotating the cookie sheet about halfway through the baking process. The recipe specifies 12 minutes in the oven, but I leave them in for about 13 minutes -- with all recipes, time-in-oven is really just a suggestion. Also, be sure to use the middle rack.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pregnancy turning points

I am amazed by how much things can change in such a short amount of time. A little more than two weeks ago (when I was just over 30 weeks along), my belly was there but not really in the way (the exception is I haven't been able to easily tie my shoes for several weeks). Then, almost overnight, the baby got bigger and so did I! My day-to-day activities, which up to this point had not been hindered too much by pregnancy, were impacted quite significantly.

Suddenly ...
  • I started having trouble get in and out of Carl's Pathfinder. 
  • Movie theater seats became painfully uncomfortable (we went to see The Help and while I LOVED the movie I was relieved when it ended so I could get out of that seat!).
  • My belly started touching the ground during push-ups.
  • I had to start standing sideways at the kitchen counter, sink and stove (in order to reach the knife, carrot peeler, pan, etc.). 
  • I stopped sleeping because my hips started aching at night. I mean, really aching. I've had trouble sleeping for a while now, but this is a whole new level of sleep deprivation.
  • I had to significantly scale back my workouts.

Aside from the sleep and workout issues, none of these things are a big deal to me. I can adapt. Carl can help me get in and out of his car. We can skip the movie theater. I can do push-ups against a wall. I can stop cooking and doing dishes (oh, how I wish!). But losing sleep and scaling back workouts (again!)? I think I would rather give up coffee (forever). Unfortunately, I don't have a choice. So right now I'm working on ways to work around these two issues; some strategies that will get me through the next 7.5 weeks (and yes, I do know that I will continue to lose sleep after the baby is born -- but not the for same reason). Sleep is the more challenging of the two issues. No position is comfortable. The bed is not comfortable. The couch is not comfortable. I haven't tried the floor, but I am pretty sure it would not be comfortable either. Usually, I stay in the uncomfortable bed for about three hours before moving to the uncomfortable couch. I wake up every 45 minutes. I play Scrabble on my iPhone in the wee hours of the night. I get up and walk around, because standing and moving relieves the pain almost instantaneously. I try to stay up late, in hopes that fatigue will trump the discomfort that is keeping me awake (it doesn't). None of these strategies work, but I think I may have found a solution. 

On Tuesday, I was discussing my sleep issues with my midwife. She told me to try Benadryl. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but I hadn't thought about it. And honestly, I would rather not take Benadryl if at all possible. However, I think I'm at that desperation stage. I've taken Bendryl for two nights now, and while I certainly would not call my sleep ideal -- it is better. I've also decided that for the next several weeks, I'm getting a massage every Wednesday (in addition to a chiropractic adjustment). I did this yesterday and I think it really helped! And my insurance pays for it, so yay! The really weird thing about the sleep situation: I don't have the same problems during daytime naps. I don't get it. In fact, my naps these days have been long. Long as in two hours or more! Naps are nice, but I don't really want to take long afternoon naps -- it gets in the way of getting things done.

As for coping with the scaled back workouts, I think I'll get back to that subject later. All this talk of naps has made me more tired than I was before I started writing this post! Meanwhile, please let me know if you have any sleep tips! I would love to hear them (my room does have black out shades, by the way).