Pregnancy insomnia and the power of influence

I bought a jacket online sometime in the wee hours this morning, when pregnancy insomnia had me mindlessly scrolling fashion blogs and then Facebook.

I bought a jacket that I likely won’t wear for nearly a year—something about vegan leather moto jackets and summer in Austin doesn’t quite mesh.

I bought a jacket I didn’t really need because a random woman in a fashion blogger’s Facebook group looked really cute in it, and she happened to mention the brand in her caption.

As I was clicking purchase, the momentary shot of new-clothes-dopamine was tempered by a pang of regret that this blogger, who produces incredibly time-intensive, thoughtful, and high quality content, and who brings together hundreds of women in these community groups, will never ever get any kind of credit for this purchase. To my knowledge, it’s not a jacket she’s ever even discussed on her channels. There’s no affiliate or tracked link to follow. There’s no discount code to apply that identifies her as my source.

Her sponsors and advertisers won’t see my purchase—or undoubtedly, the hundreds or thousands of purchases just like it—as part of her sphere of influence, but it is.

I have so many discussions with clients about ROI. We talk, too, about content quality and follower counts and engagement rates, but at the end of the day, all those conversations are circling the real question at the heart of every sales call and every analytics report: ROI. It’s a frustrating problem, no matter what. We all want to be able to track, end to end, the entire universe of influence, and to be able to identify and measure with scientific precision what actions drove which sales.

Don’t get me wrong: few things make me happier than hearing a client share that our campaign achieved an X:1 ROI. I know that when they report those kinds of results, that that’s just the baseline impact of our work together, because that’s what they were able to track.

Those reports don’t count the prAna sweater I sold to my dermatologist, a full six months after we wrapped up a fall campaign. I watched her purchase my identical sweater on her office computer. I didn’t have a discount code to share with her, and I sure didn’t ask her to follow some (by then surely expired) custom link.

They don’t count the time a personal training client asked Tasha from Hip Healthy Chick about her Momentum Jewelry bracelet. Tasha took hers off, gave it to the client, and the client went on to purchase another. Untrackable.

It doesn’t count the time an woman in our community brought homemade protein powder energy balls to a friend’s house, and in that moment transformed her friend into a brand loyalist. Untrackable.

It doesn’t count all the people who have bought the same Sparkle Skirt Toni wears for many of her races—she recommends it to everyone on her running team and gets questions about it constantly. Untrackable.

It doesn’t count the number of coworkers in Vicki’s engineering office who have downloaded the C25K app on her recommendation. Untrackable.

It doesn’t count all the times the extended networks, the friends of friends, the anonymous online audience, make purchase decisions whose trail leads back, in indirect and surprising ways, to an influencer. Untrackable.

These are the examples we know about, and they barely scratch the surface of the kinds of interactions that we all have around products we use and love. It’s why we always encourage clients to think bigger picture: that demonstrable ROI is really fun to see happening, but it’s the cherry on top of a bigger picture: of showing up in organic conversations, being included in evergreen and authentic content, and gaining access to a network of purchasing decisions that, despite big brother’s ever-increasing encroachments on our lives and habits, are as yet invisible.

It strikes me as not uncanny that yet another form of invisible work is largely carried out by women, and that credit and reward for this kind of work are begrudgingly doled out, regarded suspiciously unless validated with black and white line items on a sales report.

Women drive 70-80% of purchasing decisions. Social media users are predominantly women. #MeToo has begun to prove the efficacy of whisper networks; it bears considering that those networks operate just as powerfully under other, less serious hashtags, too.

So: what are we do do about it? I have a lot more to say about this, but here’s the short version:

Brands: treat influencer marketing as marketing and brand building. It’s incredibly validating and fun when you can measure concrete results, but that focus is shortsighted at best. Building a brand and working with influencers is a long game. This is not to say every Jane Smith with a blog is a good investment of your time and resources, but that people who treat their work as professionals and who are passionate about your brand are doing more than you’ll ever be able to see or quantify.

Influencers: know your worth. There’s a tremendous lack of standards around compensation in our industry, and a huge variance in brands’ ability and willingness to invest in your services. Treat your job like a job; choose clients and opportunities for the right reasons; and include those softer measures—such as anecdotes of how your audience responded to your work—in reports back to clients in addition to more traditional metrics like traffic and engagement rates.

These are my initial thoughts, anyway. I used my early morning hours (up at 4am, WHY WHY WHY) to hash out this first draft of a topic that’s been percolating for me for a while now. And then I did a Gixo workout, and drank coffee, and enjoyed the early morning quiet even as I knew it would come back to haunt me later in the day, in the form of inevitable naps.

Is this the ultimate early Monday morning insomniac selfie or what?!

 

 

 

 

Breakfast burrito recipe swap

I’ll be the first to tell you I’m no recipe whiz. I consider myself more of an assembler of food more than a cook. Occasionally I’m a baker, too, but that seems to be a whole different category of making.

Every year, it seems like, my goal is to improve my kitchen skills, introduce a few new recipes into my highly limited repertoire, and also get better at meal planning and prepping. The results have been middling.

So, when we decided to do a community recipe swap presented by Eggland’s Best eggs, I gamely signed up, knowing that participating would be just the accountability I needed to inch myself closer to those goals. I got paired up with Sara from Nymph in the Woods, an amazing blogger, jewelry designer, and human being, who I had the pleasure of meeting at BlogFest last year. <3

Sara sent me exactly what I needed (she’s clearly psychic): a not-too-complicated recipe chock full of protein that also nets you a ton of freezer meals.

Her recipe for breakfast burritos is here. I mostly stuck to it, with a few edits: this being Texas, I made tacos instead of burritos, because I don’t think I’ve even seen burrito-size tortillas here. I also had to halve the recipe, more or less, because I didn’t realize until midway through that there was no way my largest pan could accommodate 24 eggs. I did, however, use 100% of the cheese the original recipe called for. 🙂

It’s an easy recipe that yields a ton of returns: you do a bunch of chopping, cook the egg mixture with all the delicious fillings you desire, including sausage, peppers, onions, cheese, and salsa, and then wrap and freeze burritos / tacos to your heart’s content.

I used this kitchen adventure as an excuse to test out some of my new food photography skills (here’s the free course I took).

My biggest challenge with food photography is lighting. My kitchen lighting is, well, just plain awful. Look at what should be a bright, fresh pan full of bell peppers and onions, made sickly and fuzzy in the fluorescent light:

egglands best

Don’t let the lighting fool you: these nutrient-rich Eggland’s Best yolks are vibrant and beautiful!

I’ll spare you other pictures of the prep work; the food and recipe are beautiful, and my kitchen lights do not do them justice!

Once my burritos were prepped, I staged a few on our patio where I could at least get some natural light and a non-shiny background:

I’m still no professional but at least the lighting is much improved.

Sara recommends letting the whole mixture cool before you wrap and freeze, so during that downtime, I served my family breakfast. They were a hit! Everyone from my parents (especially my dad) to my 2-year-old loved them.

breakfast taco recipe

And since we were eating them fresh, we added some avocado we had on hand. Big bonus: the avocado added some extra color for photos.

Once the mixture cooled, I started wrapping them… and promptly got fired from the job. My dad said, you know, I could do that better. And I was all too happy to let him finish wrapping up and freezing tacos. 🙂

Even after halving the recipe and feeding 5 people breakfast, I still ended up with about 15 tacos in my freezer—a pretty amazing return for just an hour or so of work. I’ll definitely be making these again, and experimenting with fillings; it seems so easy to customize the recipe based on what you have on hand.  I think I’ll definitely make a batch or four of these before the baby comes—what a perfect breakfast to have on hand.

Thanks, Sara, for this delicious kitchen adventure, and Eggland’s Best, for encouraging the community to connect this way! 🙂

 

How to get protein when you have meat aversions

How do you get enough protein when you don’t eat meat?

This is a question our vegetarian and vegan friends get asked all the damn time, and I don’t know a single plant-based person who isn’t sick to death of explaining quinoa and lentils to curious carnivores deprived of access to common sense or Google.

When you’re pregnant and not eating meat—whether by choice or because of extreme aversions to flesh in all forms— it’s the same story, only with a few fun twists.

First, everyone and their unqualified coworker cares about what you put in your mouth, like all of a sudden when you became a vessel for new life you became public property to be fondled and judged indiscriminately for all of your choices.

Second, there are professionals asking you how you’re doing, diet-wise, on a near weekly basis, and in my experience most of them have extremely high standards for the amount of protein they want you consuming. I’ve heard quotas between 80-100 grams of protein per day while pregnant. As a point of reference, that’s:

  • 13-16 eggs (6g per egg)
  • 6-8 cups of black beans (12g per cup)
  • 10-12 cups of quinoa (8g per cup)
  • 4-5 scoops of protein powder (20g per scoop)

In other words, A LOT OF FOOD.

Third, if you have meat aversions or are experiencing pregnancy nausea, you probably also hate quinoa and eggs and black beans and other typical, healthy, non-meat sources of protein.

What’s a well-meaning, potato-chip craving pregnant woman to do? (Besides, of course, posting pictures of beautiful salads you’ll never eat to Instagram to prove what a #fitpregnancy you’re having. All’s fair when you’re cooking a human, folks).

I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to crack this code, mostly so I could get back to my potato chips without further interruptions. Here are my four ninja ways to get protein into the kinds of foods you’re likely willing to eat, especially during nausea-time.

Sorry, plant-based friends, these involve sneaky animal products; you’re on your own for getting up to that 80-100g threshold.

This seems like a good time to insert my eternal disclaimer: I am not qualified to tell you how to be healthy, during pregnancy or not during pregnancy. Ask someone who is. 

Add collagen to your beverages

Whatever it is you’re drinking, add collagen. I find it works really well in lemonade and limeade (two drinks I could reliably stomach during first trimester). There’s no flavor change, and you turn your empty-calorie drink into 11 grams of protein.

how to get more protein when you have pregnancy meat aversions

Now that I’m able to drink coffee again, I have been adding collagen into my coffee, and that is similarly tasteless and effortless and also makes my hair ah-mazing.

how to get protein when you have pregnancy meat aversions

If you’re getting most of your hydration from non-water sources (I certainly was during first trimester, when water was right up there with raw chicken) you could easily hit your 80-100g goal on just boosted beverages alone.

Progress toward your goal: 10% for each drink.

Cook your rice in bone broth

There was a period of time when steamed white rice and soy sauce was all I could muster, and it drove my husband crazy that our baby’s earliest development was fueled by nutritionally vacant calories and sodium.

I called it survival.

We compromised: he made me rice in bone broth, and as long as I didn’t witness it, I could douse that rice in enough soy sauce that I never knew the difference. Based on my casual googling, I *think* a cup of rice cooked in bone broth has ~9g of protein. That’s about twice what you’ll get from rice cooked in water.

Progress toward your goal: 9%

Whip some collagen into your cream cheese or potato soup or other white semi-solid food

My first pregnancy, bagels and cream cheese were my jam. During the first few weeks of my second pregnancy, I only ate potato soup. Specifically, this potato soup:

how to get protein during pregnancy meat aversions

Needless to say both foods are on my no-fly list now, but they are both excellent vehicles for a dose of collagen. Just stir or mix a scoop, or a handy travel pack, into whatever soup or spread you’re able to stomach, and boost the protein by 11g.

It also works great in yogurt, if you’re into that.

Progress toward your goal: 10% for each boosted white food

Make homemade gummies, or get someone to make you some

Photo: Fitful Focus

Sour or gummy candy was surprisingly helpful for me with managing nausea, especially on the go; even just a quick sugar boost or something to suck on would get me through some rough moments. There are tons of easy, DIY home-made gummy candy recipes out there on the internet; this one from Nicole looks especially delicious. And because they include gelatin, they have protein in them!

Progress toward your goal: 5% for ~15 gummies (not much, but hey, candy)

 

And there you have it. If you strategically combine these tactics over the course of the day, you can get away with eating whatever you can keep down, and also supplying your baby with the amount of protein your caregivers recommend. Plus, of course, all of the other health benefits of collagen, gelatin, and bone broth: healthier and stronger skin and nails, healthier and more flexible joints, and improved athletic performance. Those are all major side benefits to the very basic goal of getting enough protein, especially during a time in your life when your rapidly changing body seems to serve up fresh surprises and betrayals with every new day.

I will say, too, that my sudden reliance on collagen for protein has my skin and hair looking radiant. Especially for winter.

If you’re ready to hop on the collagen wagon, you can save 20% at Great Lakes Gelatin with the code GLGLife20, valid until 3/15/18.

This post is sponsored by Great Lakes Gelatin in partnership with Fit Approach and the #SweatPink community. All opinions are my own. I so appreciate your support of the brands who partner with my first baby, Fit Approach. Thank you. <3 

The really miraculous thing about creating a human

I used to think that growing a baby from zero to 8 pounds of real human being was a miracle. But you know what’s really miraculous about biology and parenting?

How fast you forget the hard parts: how quickly the sleepless nights, the zombie days, and the confusion about how to do the most mundane things—like cutting their nails or feeding them—fades into distant memory.

 

Ain’t that the truth

My daughter is almost two, and I’ve already forgotten the infant months so thoroughly that I struggle to buy baby gifts for friends welcoming new little ones. Beyond that, I can’t even really piece together what I might need for this new life I’m growing (baby boy coming June 2018, what what!). And even if I could remember, I’m sure whatever I did the first time around could easily be improved on.

While I might not remember what nose bulb worked best for us, I am still overwhelmed and confused by the sheer sensory overload of all the baby products on the market. In fact, I don’t know what half of them even do. So when Babylist offered me a chance to try their new Hello Baby Box, a free gift for parents who create a new registry on Babylist  (yes, a free gift, just for making yourself a gift list, #signmeup), I was all over it.

I created a registry immediately, something I hadn’t done with my daughter, because, to be honest, I had zero idea what to even put on a registry. I relied on gifts and crossed my fingers we’d be prepared enough. Needless to say, that haphazard approach translated into a lot of last minute, panicked trips to the store and rush shipping orders as we tried to fill in the many holes in our baby product arsenal.

This time around, I’m more organized, and I’m so proud of myself. I gave my memory a jumpstart with some of these registry ideas, and browsed some of my favorite mom blogs to help round out my registry. (Fun fact: Babylist has a bookmarklet that you can use to add any product, from any site, to your registry. It’s like pinning a picture from your browser. It’s SO easy and I love how efficient it is; ain’t nobody got time to keep track of multiple registries at multiple stores).

Creating my registry helped trigger my memory of what those early days were like, and what products were truly lifesavers vs those that ended up being money down the drain. Baby Merlin Sleep Sack? Send me a half dozen in each size. Skimpily-proportioned swaddle blankets? Hard pass.

My growing list of must-haves has gotten me excited in a whole new way about welcoming a baby boy into our home; it’s like a digital version of nesting, as I think through what we’ll need and what will make our lives easier after we bring him home.

You can check out my registry here (hint hint 😉 ) and also create your own, or browse sample registries if you’re looking for gift ideas or things you might need yourself.  

My Hello Baby Box is full of new-to-me products to try out, including everything from nipple ointment (so necessary) to those cute little “I’m X months old!” stickers you see attached to babies all over Instagram.

I didn’t even know where to get these stickers last time!

 

I’m really excited about all the samples I get to try with Moonshadow (his in-utero nickname, we’re not that hippie, thanks), from a little device that helps them pass gas (hoping and praying this is a miracle-worker) to $50 of free babysitting on Urbansitter. Yes, you read that right, $50. F yeah. Urbansitter is where I found my daughter’s nanny so I’m a huge fan of the platform and of course I am a huge fan of anything that puts a dent in my babysitting bill and gives me more time for myself.

Presents!!

There are also breastfeeding supplies, boogie wipes to keep in your purse, and lots more significant discounts on clothes and other gear—basically everything from necessary to fun.

The Hello Baby Box is such a genius idea especially for first time moms, when often you don’t know what you don’t know, and might need some expert guidance on sorting through the profusion of baby products on the market. It’s more or less what some of my mama friends did for me when I was pregnant with my daughter, sending me glamorous things like lanolin and gel pads. I had no idea what those were for … but I quickly learned, and quickly started resupplying in bulk.

I can’t wait to go into round two a little more seasoned, a little more prepared, and with a few secret weapons in my back pocket.

To qualify for your Hello Baby Box, register here with Babylist.

This post is sponsored by Babylist, but if you know me at all, you know my general confusion about parenting and love of bookmarklets and efficiency are entirely my own. I so appreciate your support of the brands who partner with the Sweat Pink community!

Limits are so last year

gixo iamlimitless

When we first got married, one of the ways that I could reliably frustrate my husband was by being overly optimistic about timing. For example, if I was out to dinner with friends and our food hadn’t arrived yet, I’d tell him I’d be home in about 30 minutes. That estimate totally covered time to eat, pay the bill, get another drink (or two?) and of course the one hour plus commute home from San Francisco.

In other words, I was 100% dishonest. It came from a well-intentioned place of not wanting to let him down in the moment: saying “I’ll be home in 30 minutes” sounds so much better than “at least 3 hours from now, and that’s if the after dinner cocktails aren’t super delicious, and if the train schedule improbably works in my favor.” Of course my lie would come back to bite me in the ass when it was inevitably revealed, but that was a future problem that I could avoid for, well, another 30 minutes.

It’s not a respectful way to treat your partner, consistently and knowingly offering alternative facts about your plans.

My habitual tardiness may be a silly example of how well our culture teaches us to fudge or obscure any news that we fear might be poorly received. (Just look at how many women intensely identified with Cat Person).  I know I’m guilty of dissembling to maintain (an imagined?) social good all the time, for matters mundane and trivial.

In recent years, that unwillingness to put others out has manifested more in form of not asking for what I need, because the idea of either inconveniencing someone, or feeling as though I’m asking permission, feels alternately uncomfortable or stifling. And since I’m at a life stage when I need help more than ever—toddler mom, knocked up, full time job—not asking for support means I’m not showing up for myself. I’m putting up walls and limits where they don’t belong. I’m sacrificing my own health and well-being for … what, exactly?

This year, even though all the cool kids agree that resolutions are dumb, I’m using the new year as an opportunity to reflect and reset. This year, I want to reassert myself. To make space for me without guilt or excuses. To ask for the support I need instead of hoping it will be offered.
sweatpink iamlimitless gixo
In 2018, I recognize that the limits I saw on what I could achieve and who I could be were self-inflicted. In 2018 I choose to leave behind those restrictions. I choose to be limitless. The decisions and sacrifices I will make this year will be thoughtful and proactive, not reactionary or fear-driven.
I’m going into this a realist. I know my toddler and my unborn child’s needs will ultimately come first, but from here on out, that’s an approach I choose instead of a condition I submit to.
sweatpink lovetabio
In 2018 I show up for myself, without reservation. Without apology.  Without regret. With honesty. With full presence.  With an eye to the big picture.
sweatpink iamlimitless gixofit
Also, I’m going to stop reading the news so damn much. Not helpful.
This year, in partnership with Gixo, we choose to leave behind all that doesn’t serve us, and to declare #IAmLimitless. Join us for community support in achieving your goals this year, and doing more than you ever dreamed possible.