Finding my freedom

One of the hardest things about transitioning from independent lady to a mom has been the loss of my autonomy. I always knew I valued my independence (case in point: the day I got my driver’s license remains one of the best days of my life, even though I now hate driving), but I never realized how much stuff I did until I needed someone else to enable me to do it.

Curl up with the latest New Yorker and a cup of coffee on Saturday morning? Not happening.

Squeeze in a pedicure between conference calls? Yeah, right.

Spontaneously dash off to a yoga class?  Puh-lease.

I found myself sliding into a deep dark pool of woe is me. This little mommy is trapped at home and will never, ever, engage with society again or have a moment to herself.

It’s a scary place down there. I admit, I spent some time wallowing. I still occasionally dip in for another good cry now and again.

But in between wallow sessions, I put myself to the task of finding ways to enable my freedom again. Even if it was an assisted / modified freedom, it was better than hanging out in my pajamas on the floor of my apartment in last week’s makeup wondering how I’d gotten myself into this situation.

Here’s what’s helped me scratch the surface of those pre-baby freedoms in ways that help me get out and do stuff.

1. Aftershokz headphones.

I use these hands free, bluetooth enabled beauties for everything.

Running with Mackenzie.

aftershokz tricep dips

(Spoiler alert: the stroller is next on this list!) Since they’re open-ear headphones, I can still hear things around me, like cars approaching, or bikers trying to pass our wide load on the trail, or I can chat up fellow stroller-pushing moms.

running tahoe aftershokz
They’re also great for running alone, if you’re the kind of person who gets to run alone.

Gotta make those mom friends, y’all.

Conference calls.

Before we had regular childcare, I used to take a lot of calls with the baby on board. Once she was aware of her hands, she discovered that playing with headphone cords is really, really fun. And by playing with, I mean yanking them out of my ears.

aftershokz-conference-call-nursing
The ultimate in multitasking: I’m on a call, and I’m nursing. BAM.

Going wireless has saved me many a “sorry, can you repeat that?” and scored me many a new brand partner.

Yoga.

Outdoor yoga is awesome. Outdoor yoga with music is even more awesome. But you know what’s the awesomest?

boat post aftershokz

Outdoor yoga with music that you don’t have to lug around a stereo for, rely on your pathetic phone speakers for, or bother your neighbors with.

2. BOB stroller

After asking the Sweat Pink community for jogging stroller recommendations, I bit the bullet, bought the stroller, and hid the credit card receipt from my husband. Hot damn it’s expensive. But in terms of liberation, it’s been amazing. I take Mac out almost every morning for a walk / jog along the lake in Austin.

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Or, at least, I used to, back when sleep was a little more consistent. We’re working on getting back into a good morning routine.

I still don’t particularly like running, but it’s such a convenient way to get some exercise without having to arrange childcare. Also, I’ve realized that exercising with a stroller is AWESOME because it holds all those items you used to try to stuff into the waistband pocket of your shorts or running tights. I got the cupholder attachment because, cupholders. The surprise benefit of that attachment is that the zip pocket holds my phone, chapstick, wallet, and sunnies within easy reach.

Second reason running with a stroller is awesome: if you find yourself short of breath and about to DIE and needing to stop or slow down, you can save face by pretending to check on the baby.

stroller sweat pink trucker
Me? I’m fine. SHE made me stop.

3. Ergobaby 360

I use this carrier all the time.

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It’s the only way laundry gets done, and it’s the reason I have done my hair 1.5 times since Mac was born.

blowdrying with ergo

It’s currently also the only way she’ll nap, so there’s that.

napping in ergo

The one thing I don’t love about this carrier is that Mac overwhelmingly prefers the outward-facing carry, and the straps dig into her arms and leave big red marks. I know it’s really designed for inward carry, so the straps aren’t really built for outward carry. I also know that inward is better for her hips, but you know, whatever makes baby happy is what baby gets.

There you have it. My top 3 post-baby freedom finders. I still miss my autonomy like woah. I yearn for the days when I didn’t have to make elaborate childcare arrangements and a bulletproof pumping schedule so I can get a fucking haircut already. My great life goal is to binge watch something on Netflix. I don’t even care what it is.

But… as my dance teacher in college always said, when you feel like something is too hard or out of reach or just.not.happening, CHANGE YOUR MIND.

I’m working on it. Like, literally, right now, while I’m nursing and taking a call and writing this post. #mompower

This post is sponsored by Aftershokz. All opinions are my own, and these headphones really have been game changing for me. If you want a chance to win your own, join us for the #AwarewithPink Instagram challenge this October! 

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A day in the life, Tahoe edition

If you follow me on insta (@alysemb), you’ve probably seen that we’ve been spending quite a bit of this summer in Tahoe. It’s our way of escaping the Texas humidity—we Californians are just not cut out for that kind of heat—and also getting to spend some time much, much closer to family and friends.

weird workout prana

My husband and I are so, so fortunate that we can both work remotely and swing our Escape-From-Austin-in-August plan. And we’ve done our best to make sure that our summer takes full advantage of all the beautiful nature around us.

Here’s what a day in the life typically looks like:

5:30am-ish: Mackenzie wakes up for the day. I hit the baby version of snooze (give her one of the many toys floating around our bed) and let her talk to it as long as possible while I resist actually waking up. I surreptitiously check my email on my phone and respond to anything that came in overnight.

mac chewing on coaster

6am: Playtime! She chews on various things, such as a sweat pink trucker hat, or one of her books. I down coffee, water, and sneak a few bites of breakfast.

sparklingdetox

Once I’m a functional human, I put her in her carrier so we can do dishes or laundry, and take a walk down to the lake so she can talk to the waves and the trees.

sweat pink sparklingdetox

7:30am: on a good day, it’s nap time.

On a normal day, she’s convinced that only babies need to nap, and she is definitely NOT a baby. We keep playing.

Yes, that is a dog toy in her mouth. It's for the immunity, people.
Yes, that is a dog toy in her mouth. It’s for the immunity, people.

8am-1pm: Mac hangs out with the babysitter and I power through work, with intermittent nursing breaks.

1pm: Gather up ALL the things you need to leave the house with a baby. Restock the diaper bag. Change her diaper and clothes. Stagger out to the car with baby items dangling precipitously from every part of my body, only to realize my keys are nowhere to be found.

Wait, where do you put the baby, again?
Wait, where do you put the baby, again?

1:30pm: Successfully in the car! Nathan, Mac, and I head out for a hike or other outdoor activity. While Nathan drives, I alternate between entertaining the baby and secretly answering emails on my phone.

We aim for at least one new spot a week, and rotate in our favorites on other days. That’s one silver lining to being dog-free right now: there is a whole new world of dog-unfriendly trails to explore.

hiking gerolsteiner

Mac loves hiking in the ergo, most days. She gets a ton of attention on the trail, and she loves talking to the trees. It’s the most reliable way to get her to take a  nap, too!

It’s so dry up here that I drink a ridiculous amount of water every time we so much as step out the door. Hydration is my constant goal.

sparkling detox

4:30pm: Back home, dusty and thirsty and hot. I convince Nathan to hang out with the baby so I can jump in the lake.

prana wetsuit tahoe

It’s like an instant refresh button. Oh, and more hydration.

gerolsteiner kayak

Hydrate hydrate hydrate!

gerolsteiner lake

5:30pm: (Because, yes, life after baby is not so different from life as a senior citizen.): Attempt to eat dinner.

mac nathan drinking

That means one of us shovels food in our mouth while the other distracts the baby, and then we trade places.

Do I have yogurt on my face?
Do I have yogurt on my face?

5:35pm: Family playtime. We all hang out on the floor for some tummy time and book reading (aka book chewing).

chewing on paper

Nathan and I alternate being engaged with Mac and getting some work done.

6:45pm: the beginning of bedtime. Mac starts cluster feeding, fussing, feeding, squawking, feeding, fussing… until ….

8pm: She’s asleep!!

naptime

8pm-8:23pm: I crack open the computer and hustle to get back to work.

8:23pm: Just as soon as I’ve gotten my teeth into whatever project I’m working on, she’s up and its time to feed her again.

8:40pm: back to work.

9:30pm: Fussy baby = more nursing.

11pm: to bed I go.

1am: Mac’s midnight snack.

1:30-530am: bleary blur of half-sleeping, fussing, feeding.

… and then we begin all over again!

Other than the lack of quality sleep, our lifestyle this summer has felt really healthy and balanced. I love getting outside every day with our family, and I am convinced the exposure to nature and people is helping Mac’s brain develop in healthy ways and setting a good example for a lifetime of healthy habits. (Right? Right.) The only thing that’s missing is a dog (hint, hint, husband).

dancer pose tahoe

I’ve also been laser focused on hydrating this summer. Between Tahoe’s extremely dry air, the high altitude, and round-the-clock breastfeeding, I’m perpetually parched.

A video posted by Alyse Mason Brill (@alysemb) on

That endless task has gotten a lot more fun since Gerolsteiner sent me all the water I need for the #SparklingDetox (I confess, I’m already breaking into my supply… 🙂 ) #canstopwontstop

If you want to join me and the #sweatpink community on the most fun detox ever, here are all the details:

Gerolsteiner #Sparkling Detox

September 12-16

Drink only Gerolsteiner Mineral Water for the five days of the detox: no other beverages.* That’s it!

* Not to worry, smoothies are a food, not a drink. 😉

Simple, right? I’m already dabbling with this challenge by incorporating more and more Gerolsteiner into my day, and am loving how I feel so far. I’m excited to see how I feel after a full, dedicated week of healthy party time in my cup.

Come join us in the dedicated Facebook group to get advice, support, and recipes & workouts you can do during the challenge.

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water is available nationwide (here’s a store locator), and… just between us, there might just be a HUGE giveaway coming up in which 300 people will win a case of Gerolsteiner. Stay tuned for more on how to enter that… Enter here! 🙂

In the meantime, go say hi to Gerolsteiner around the internets, and join our Facebook group!

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water website
Gerolsteiner on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
#SparklingDetox Facebook Group

This post is sponsored by Gerolsteiner Mineral Water. I so appreciate the brands who support the #sweatpink community, and as always, all opinions are my own. 

Wait, there's more!

So long, summer, so long #weirdworkouts

What a lovely summer it’s been. Hawaii. BlogFest. Tahoe. I’m possibly the luckiest person on the planet to have spent my summer in all these amazing places and with all these incredible people.

We’re winding down our last couple days in Tahoe, before heading to Portland to visit the Flex & Flow team, and I’ll FINALLY get to see the studio in action! I’m so excited I can barely stand it. I was there back in December, when the studio was just an empty box in need of paint, floors, and some major TLC, and I was a super pregnant person waddling through Home Depot and Lumber Liquidators.

I’m trying to take advantage of our last few days in Tahoe to their fullest extent. What I’ve so appreciated about being here in the summer is that it gave me a chance to build up my fitness in a low stress, let’s-get-outside way.

prana wetsuit tahoe
Out for a swim in my prAna wetsuit.

My workouts haven’t been activities I’d normally call workouts. There are no machines, no instructors, no tracking miles or steps or calories or minutes.

weird workout prana

It’s been a summer of hiking, of swimming, and morning yoga just because it feels good.

weird workout prana
At the top of Old Meyers Grade with Tiara, Natasha, Nara, my parents, babies, and dogs!

It’s my kind of #weirdworkout. After so many months of feeling out of whack post-baby, it’s beyond incredible to feel like myself again.

yoga tahoe prana top fabletics bottoms aftershokz
prAna swimsuits are hands down THE BEST. Crops are Fabletics. Pink headphones are Aftershokz!

Plus, getting Mackenzie out into nature daily feels like bonus points in the mom column.

weird workout sparklingdetox
The reason there is Gerolsteiner in almost all of my pics is because I’m doing the #sparklingdetox... it’s a pretty fun way to stay hydrated! 🙂

She goes nuts for the trees, the water, and the dogs we spy on the beach or on our hikes. Hearing her happy squeals are an extra reward on top of the endorphins.

I’m scheming how to pack my weird workout and take it back to Austin. I’m going to miss all this outdoor time and nature. And I’d much rather get outside with my family and just enjoy moving and sweating without focusing on hitting some magic number of miles, minutes, etc.

weirdworkout sweat pink

I like just moving for the pure joy of moving. I think that counts as weird in our quantified-self age?

swimming wetsuit

But that’s my #weirdworkout, and I love it.

In the spirit of weird workouts, join me for a fun contest brought to you by prAna and Organic Valley. You could win $300 worth of prAna gear and a two month supply of Organic Fuel. Boom.

Enter here. 

 

This post was sponsored by prAna. All opinions, including undying love of their swimsuits, are my own, and I so appreciate you supporting the brands who support the Sweat Pink community. 

Wait, there's more!

When in doubt, sparkle

One of my favorite things (okay, of about ten million favorite things) at BlogFest this year was that we had a beverage sponsor. And not just any beverage sponsor… a totally kickass, my-favorite-kind-of-beverage sponsor.

sweat pink

You see, if I had it my way, I’d drink only sparkling water. I love the stuff. During my pregnancy, it was my go to for mocktails and hydration – all the hydration – and the same still holds true now that I’m breastfeeding.

 Mocktails gerolsteiner mineral water

I just love how mineral water makes drinking water feel festive and fun, instead of a chore. Because yes, I am terrible at hydration; getting enough water is something I have to think about every day.

So when Gerolsteiner Mineral Water invited me to join their #SparklingDetox challenge, I was all about it. In fact, I’m so excited that, instead of waiting for the official start date of September 12, I might, ahem, be programing now. #DelayedGratificationIsHard

A video posted by Alyse Mason Brill (@alysemb) on

What is the #SparklingDetox challenge, you ask? It’s simple, really: for 5 days the only liquid I’ll be consuming is Gerolsteiner. This is my kind of detox: the restrictions are FUN, not, er, restricting.

And, I get to claim all sorts of health benefits, in addition to the joys of indulging in my favorite beverage. Every liter of Gerolsteiner contains 348 mg of calcium and 108 mg of magnesium. That’s 1/3 of the daily requirement for calcium and 1/4 for magnesium!

Want to join me?

Sparkling Detox Infographic

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water #SparklingDetox

September 12-16

Drink only Gerolsteiner for the five days of the detox: no other beverages.* That’s it!

* Not to worry, smoothies are a food, not a drink. 😉

Simple, right? I’m excited to see how I feel after a week of healthy party time in my cup.

Come join us in the dedicated Facebook group to get advice, support, and recipes & workouts you can do during the challenge.

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water is available nationwide (here’s a store locator), and… just between us, there might just be a HUGE giveaway coming up in which 300 people will win a case of Gerolsteiner. Stay tuned for more on how to enter that… 🙂

In the meantime, go say hi to Gerolsteiner around the internets, and join our Facebook group!

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water website
Gerolsteiner on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
#SparklingDetox Facebook Group

Wait, there's more!

Monday favorites

Happy Monday, sweaties! I’m just cracking back into my computer and life after a blissful weekend spent mostly outdoors with the fam.

We did a little hiking: alyse mac ergo smile hike

A little naked lounging (okay, only Mac was naked):

lounging outside latin azul

And a lot of swimming.

alyse swimming lake tahoe wetsuit

As I went through this weekend, I realized there were a ton of things I’d recently discovered that are working for me in really effortless, awesome ways, and I want to share my latest favorites.

1. Wetsuit!

wetsuit lake tahoe

I found this wetsuit on super sale at Nordstrom (no longer on sale, sorry!), and you guys, it has revolutionized my daily swim. It’s so much easier and faster to get in the water, and I can stay in so much longer.

The only downside is that, because it was on super sale, I ordered it a size (or two?) too big, so I get a little ballooning effect when I swim. I figured, hey, extra drag, nbd, that’ll just make me a stronger swimmer. Then I spotted this shortie on sale at prAna, and I had to order it, too, this time in the right size.

 

Photo: prAna
Photo: prAna

I’m hopeful it will work, and it’ll be awesome having two, since I’m already loaning mine out to visitors who want in on the wetsuit wonder.

2. Burt’s Bees BB Cream

burts bees makeup

I still am not totally sure what BB cream is (#beautymoron) but I got a sample of this in last Fabletics shipment, and I fell in love. It evens out my skin tone without making me look like I’m wearing makeup; just a better, filtered version of myself.

It also includes SPF (so necessary). The only thing I don’t love about it is that the smell is a little funky, but disappears (or you get used to it?) within a minute or so of applying.

burts bees sweat pink hat

Also, beware, my melanin-blessed friends: the shades run really pale. The light/medium shade is perfect for my summer skin, which means the light version must be made for ghosts.

3. Fabletics shorts

Speaking of Fabletics, if you follow me on Insta (@alysemb), you’ve probably seen me wearing two pairs of shorts on endless repeat:

fabletics heat wave print

 

fabletics palm print short

These two pairs are both from Fabletics and they are perfect for my summer adventures. They’re lightweight, stay put, dry fast, and have pockets. WITH ZIPPERS.

I can easily stash my phone, keys, and chapstick in my pockets and have my hands free for baby wrangling, yoga poses, and other adventures.

I’ve also worn them swimming and they’ve performed beautifully in the water and dried quickly after.

4. Protein bites

bobs red mill protein bites

I first made these shortly after Mackenzie was born, and have had them on repeat since. Lately, I’ve been making a double chocolate version with my fave Bob’s Red Mill Chocolate Protein powder, Wild Friends Chocolate Almond Butter, and Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats (the oats make them a galactalogue, too!).

They’re the yummiest, most perfect one-handed snack. Check out recipes over on My Healthy Happy Home.

 

… and that’s all for now! Don’t you love it when things just seem to fall in place and work for you? Hope your week is all kinds of fabulous.

 

Wait, there's more!

Bring on the girl power

This has been a week of girl power. Of rage.

There’s the victim blaming that’s going on with the three runners who were killed in the last two weeks.

There’s been all this media attention on how sexist the media coverage of the Olympics are.

The frenzy has produced quite a few funny-because-it’s-true spoofs of the Rio coverage, including the most perfect example of mansplaining I’ve seen in a long time:

Screenshot 2016-08-12 12.36.47

And this laugh out loud take on Miss California’s husband:

Screenshot 2016-08-12 12.33.11

I’m glad these instances of sexism are getting called out. The spoofs and reactions to them are funny, but they also make me deeply angry that we’re still having this conversation—and, I fear, if His Orangeness gets elected, this conversations are only going to get more troubling. (Note to would-be ‘splainers of any gender: I will categorically delete any comments in defense of the demagogue).

Because my reading and social media time now happens almost exclusively while my 7 month old daughter nurses or naps in my arms, each new headline hits a little closer to home.

mackenzie 7 months napping

How will I explain to her that all sorts of people will judge her differently because of the body she was born into? How can I raise her to believe in herself and call bullshit on the sexism and the mansplaining and the condescension?

IMG_9992

My dream is for my daughter to not understand the humor in these articles. I want it to fall completely flat. I want her to find this blog, years from now, and be (a) embarrassed by me in general and (b) totally confused by this post specifically.

My dream is for her to never have to identify as a feminist, because we will finally live the truth that equality and gender have no bearing on one another.

IMG_0016

Can we do this? We can.

I don’t know how to begin, so I’m just starting where I can, right now, with something tangible that feels real and powerful. I’m participating in If Girls Ran the World, an event in which we will collectively and virtually run around the world together. It’s movement on a mass scale, all to empower women and girls.

IGRTW-Facebook-Hero

 

I’m fundraising for Every Mother Counts, an organization that feels super relevant to me right now. If you’re so moved, I’d so appreciate your support, whether that’s with a tweet, joining the event, a donation, or just a virtual fist pump. Whatever you got, I’m taking it, and I’m adding it to my curriculum for teaching my daughter how to be fucking awesome.

This post was sponsored by everydayhero. I’m honored to be part of the effort to empower women and girls, and as always, all rage, opinions, and profanity are my own. 

Wait, there's more!

Feeling amazing every day

First off, thank you to all of you for your kind words and support around Tigger’s passing. I confess I felt a little silly admitting to just how much his death derailed me, but Suzi’s story and Shannon’s words were so validating about how grief is grief:

“If you’ve never loved a pup or cat, you might not get it. You might even roll your eyes. But if you HAVE, you will get this.” – Shannon, Badass Fitness

I’m trying to shake it off (oh Taylor, I will never grow tired of singing and dancing in my car to that song), and as part of that, I’ve been consciously focusing on doing things that make me feel amazing. Kind of like a gratitude practice, but with a dash of fabulous.

So – here goes. My #feelamazingeveryday top 5:

1. Swimming

lap swimming hawaii

There are few things in life that make me happier than a swim in a beautiful body of water, whether that’s a pool, the ocean, a lake, or … anywhere else. 🙂 This summer has been a boom year for beautiful swimming opportunities, from the beach in Maui:

amazing grass beach supplies
Beach day essentials.

To Tahoe:

alyse wetsuit tahoe

I’ve been trying to swim every day, and I’ve got a pretty good streak going. I just feel so much happier in the water, and also in a much more amazing mood after a good swim. My family benefits from that happiness, too. 😉

2. Slowing down and spending time with my daughter

alyse mac 6 months birthday

In a lot of ways, motherhood has been a tough transition for me—more on that to come. I’m making a focused effort to slow down and spend quality time with Mackenzie every day. That means no checking my phone while she babbles at her butterfly mobile; no spacing out and thinking about work while she puts my sunglasses in her mouth for the umpteenth time.

mackenzie sunglasses

 

 

I’m also trying to do at least one dedicated Mactivity per day, like hiking:

alyse mac reverse warrior flume trail

Or swim lessons:

mackenzie swim lessons

3. Morning smoothies

alyse amazing grass selfie tahoe

I just recently got on a smoothie kick, and for someone who has been a casual smoothie drinker at best, this bug bit me, hard. It’s lifechanging, y’all.

amazing grass sweat pink laces tahoe

I’ve been having an Amazing Grass peanut butter smoothie almost every morning. (Okay, probably because it tastes like dessert, but there’s no crash after).

plane snacks yeti amazing grass hemp heart bites

I’ve also been traveling with the single serving packets. Of all the protein powders I’ve tried, this is one that holds up under dire preparation circumstances. As in, it still tastes good even if all you do is add water and give it as good a mixing as you’re able to, given the tools available (coffee stir stick in the hotel room, anyone?).

alyse double fisting philz and amazing grass
Anything is possible when you’re doublefisting Amazing Grass and Philz.

4. Creeping on other people’s dogs

abbiethevizsla
Photo: Abbie, c/o Jamie King

 

Yep, I have been stopping just about everyone I see with a cute pup just to pet and chat. It’s good for the soul. I want a dog so badly, but know that (a) I need to give myself some time, and (b) getting a puppy is a terrible idea right now. We’re still working on getting settled in with this human puppy.

mackenzie tutu

5. Getting a tattoo?

Okay, this one is entirely speculative. I’m thinking about my first ink. But I’m a total chicken. Should I do it?!

This post was sponsored by Amazing Grass. I’m so grateful to the brands who support the Sweat Pink community… and especially for the theme of #feelamazingeveryday. It was the perfect push for me to change my mindset from, wahhh, I miss my dog, to “what can I do today to feel amazing?”

Wait, there's more!

Feeling stuck

I am running on nothing.

Last week’s conference was a huge success. I need to write about it, about the people, especially, but I can’t even get my head around how to do that right now.

blogfest group shot 2016

There’s always this crash that happens after. It usually takes me about a week to recover from Blogfest, but this year has been extra special.

We went straight to Tahoe (so long, steamy Austin!), and the adjustment has been rough.

I am wiped out. Mackenzie is wiped out.

mackenzie bear suit

It’s the HAF. The dreaded, cacophonous HAF (high altitude flatulence), which strains and contorts Mac’s little body, and keeps us bicycling and bouncing through the night.

It’s the dark moments pre-dawn, when despair gives way to melodrama.

I’ll never sleep again.

I am sure of it, each time I start a new set of bicycles on her squishy little thighs.

It’s the pediatrician’s raised eyebrow as he says, your 6 month old is physiologically capable of sleeping through the night.

mackenzie merlin

It’s the moment when I look at my to-do list, rich with exciting projects I’m so inspired to charge into, especially after the heady dose of energy the conference always injects me with.

But I look at that list, and I just want to crawl away and hide.

It’s that Tigger died last week, and I pretended it didn’t happen so I could get through the conference without making everyone listen to me talk about my dog. Oh, and so I wouldn’t spend all weekend bawling my eyes out. 

tigger in the sand

 

Post-conference, I’m flirting with the denial phase of grief and also, occasionally, bawling my eyes out.

 

A photo posted by Alyse Mason Brill (@alysemb) on


Every time I walk into a room, I miss his outsized ears swiveling around to meet me, hopeful with the promise of playtime.

IMG_3835

 

IMG_7593

 

Every time I crawl into bed and have enough space and somewhere to actually put my feet, I miss the warm heft of his always-in-the-way body.

tigger on the pier

Every time I look at the lake, I miss him.

tigger pinecone

Every time I spot a pinecone, I miss him.

Every time a toilet paper roll needs changing, I miss him. Every time I finish a plate or bowl that could be licked clean, I miss him.

 

I know it was his time. He made cancer his bitch and lived 3 times longer than any of the professionals projected. More than once, they told us they were astonished he was still alive.

Nothing we can do. We’re not even sure how he’s still walking. 

I’m sure that in just this one week he’s spent in doggy heaven, he’s already blown past his personal best of 3 tennis balls in his mouth at once.

tigger 3 tennis balls

 

This feeling will pass, I know. I will sleep and we will get another dog and Mac will delight in her ability to fart independently.

In this moment, I’m sad. Tired. Stuck.

Wait, there's more!

Upgrading my gold star chart

When it comes to tracking my goals, I’m a big picture kind of person. All I really want to know is: did I exercise today? Yes or no. I don’t care how long, how many calories, if I went with friends or if I was thirsty or if I loved my playlist. I want the 10,000 foot view. Yes or no.

For years, I’ve been using basically a grown up version of a gold star chart (yes, like you had in kindergarten) to track activities I wanted to do on a daily basis. And by grown up, I mean when I ran out of stickers, I used a highlighter to give myself props for the day.

However… I found myself adding more and more rows to my chart, and it stopped being so visually compelling. When you start adding gold stars for exercising, flossing, hydrating, tummy time (for Mackenzie, duh), pumping, (I’m really invested in building up my freezer supply. Milk in the freezer = freedom for mama), and about 10 other things, it turns into too much data. It’s too hard to spot trends, like “bam, lady, you exercised 6 times this week! Let’s get some ice cream!”

And honestly, seeing those trends is what I’m really interested in. I don’t want to think too hard or crunch too many numbers; I just want to see the gold stars piling up. GIVE ME THE REWARDS, PEOPLE.

So. Long story short, I found an app that gives me exactly what I want. Except the stickers, but I’ll give them a pass on that. I’m totally obsessed with Strides after one week, so much so that I upgraded to their premium version within a few days of using it.

strides app

Each day, I check off my accomplishments, and it shows me high level trends and data if I want to see it … but I also don’t have to look if I don’t want to.

I get pretty obsessed with earning my gold stars. One day I flossed twice in a row just so I could cross off my goal for the day.

Watch out, world, I’m about to earn a lotta ice cream. Or some grown-up frappuccinos.

This might read like a sponsored post. Guess what? It’s not. I just really like this app.

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My own personal frappy hour

Years ago, when Jamie and I used to work out of various cafes around San Francisco, one of our regular haunts was the Starbucks on Fillmore. Wifi, seating, and available outlets were our main criteria.

sweat pink laptop skins starbucks

We’d usually begrudgingly order the same old tea with steamed soy, day after day, so sick of drinking tea but so aware of what a steal it was, in terms of rent cost.

I’ll never forget the day when, at the usually quiet-ish hour of 3pm—3:13pm to be exact—the store started filling up with all sorts of people. And these people behaved very strangely. Instead of going up and ordering, or avoiding eye contact with the baristas and grabbing a seat or an outlet without plunking down at least $1.85 for a tall coffee, they just stood there, near the counter, but not close enough to order.

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They coagulated in the open area where a line usually forms, all of them just… waiting. No one stepped up; no one elbowed through to be first in line.

We watched this bizarre group coalescing until 3:30pm on the dot, when suddenly the horde rushed for the counter. Moments later, they left, one or two at a time, with giant, frothy, whipped-cream topped beverages and satisfied grins on their faces.

Frapp_Happy_Hour_Low_res
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We later learned that was the first day of Frappy Hour, and we soon came to know that every day, eager sugar-hungry people would arrive just before 3:30 and wait, counting down the seconds until their blended concoction was available at half price.

Naturally, we took great delight in the spectacle of frappy hour. Who were these people, and why did they care so much that they arrived early to wait for frappy hour? Was this the best part of their day? And why, oh why, did so many people LIKE frappuccinos?

We took turns coming up with the most ridiculous sounding beverage, and threatening to order it for one another. We’d say, “I’m going to get you a venti mocha orange creamsicle mint cookie blast with apple caramel crumble and make you drink it!”

Mockery and juvenilia aside, I secretly wished I liked frappuccinos, especially as I ordered my boring hot tea day after day. I love the idea of an iced blended treat, and of adding in some variety into how I paid my rent; I just hated the taste and how the sugar content turned my stomach into a roiling queasy mess.

The fact is, I’m super boring when it comes to food and beverages. (Maybe purist is a kinder word). I like my coffee strong and black. I’ll take my nut butters without the sugar and oil and other additives. I think flavored yogurt is a crime against nature. I stick to a tried and true smoothie rut: frozen berries, spinach, plain yogurt, plain protein powder, almond butter. I know, I know, it’s almost criminal how much fun I am. 😉

mackenzie with berry smoothie

Done and done.

raspberry smoothie selfie

The other day, I was out of all those things. No yogurt in the fridge. No berries in the freezer. Nothing in the house but a fussy baby and a hangry me. I decided to improvise a smoothie without berries or yogurt (SAY WHAT?!).

I’d been using, and loving, Bob’s Red Mill protein powder—the unflavored one, thankyouverymuch—and scoured my pantry for anything, anything, I could add to turn plain ol’ protein powder into a meal.

berry smoothie bob's red mill protein powder
Did I mention I ONLY drink berry smoothies?

I found, first, the cute little card that Bob’s Red Mill sent with the protein powders, with various recipes on it. I happened to have all the ingredients for their oatmeal cookie smoothie (well, no dates, but hey, close enough).

Bob's Red Mill smoothie recipe card

Hmm, I thought. That sounds like something I’d hate. But maybe it’s worth a go. What do I have to lose?

Answer: half a cup of oatmeal, a cup of almond milk, and a scoop of chai protein powder that I had not yet opened and already decided I disliked. 

In went the ingredients, with some almond butter to make up for the missing dates, and some peanut butter granola on top for an extra crunch.

oatmeal cookie smoothie

Guess what, guys? I fucking loved it. It was a fucking perfect afternoon treat that made me feel all yummy inside and kept me full until dinnertime. It tasted exactly how I wanted a frappuccino to taste, only so much better. It tasted like a grown up, balanced, healthy frothy beverage that just happened to have protein powder in it.

I loved it so much I had a second one for dessert later that night.

And then I tried all the other Bob’s Red Mill flavors that I had so judgily decided I didn’t like, and I fucking love those too.

almond mocha smoothie
This one’s called an Almond Mocha. I should categorically HATE it, but I can’t get enough. I would totes show up early and wait in line for this.

 

That plain flavor that I swore by when I first got my package is sitting, lonely and abandoned, in my pantry while I celebrate healthy frappy hour in my kitchen on the daily.

 

bob's red mill chocolate smoothie
With cacao nibs and hemp hearts on top? Hellz yeah.

 

I’m revising those frappy threats into a way more positive version:

I’m going to give you a chocolate peanut butter / oatmeal cookie / vanilla frappy and be jealous while you drink it.

This post was sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. All opinions & strong language are my own. I really do love this stuff, and I also love it when you support the brands that support the Sweat Pink community.

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