I’m not a runner, but I’m grateful to run

I participated in a turkey trot on Thanksgiving, like I’ve done for the last eight years, but this year was different. In past years, I’ve gone with family, and our entourage is always replete with strollers and babies and grandparents and a pack of dogs. Our trot is more of a stroll; I usually sip coffee the whole way and we’re habitually at the back of the pack.

This year was different. I ran a 5-mile Turkey Trot with friends. (Well, they actually ran way faster than me, so I did most of it with temporary, pace-matched buddies from among the thousands who participated.

As I was running, I overheard snippets of conversations from the walkers I passed. Words like “I wish I were a runner, but…” or “I just can’t get into running…” or “Running just isn’t something I enjoy …”. I didn’t hear the tail end of any of those sentences but I didn’t need to, because they’re all sentiments I’ve spoken, many a time, during many a 5K stroll or while cheering at many a finish line for friends’ races.

I still don’t consider myself a runner. My ‘running’ happens in fits and starts and is punctuated by momentary highs, rookie mistakes. and lapses of activity. I’m slow. I still take walk breaks and I don’t really see my leisurely pace as something that needs a fix or an upgrade. But I’m beyond proud of myself for running those five miles on Thursday, and beyond grateful that I was able to.

During the moments when I ran alone, I kept thinking about my grandma, who passed away just a year and a half ago, and who had lost her mobility, slowly and begrudgingly, over the course of 30-some years. She was a fighter and resisted her loss of mobility longer than most humans would have endured. She never complained or let herself wallow in self-pity. She was always her witty, sharp self up until the end.

Though she never spoke to me about her feelings about being disabled, I have no doubt that she would have jumped at the chance to be able to walk or run even a few steps. And in her honor I was grateful to join the thousands of runners and walkers and babies in strollers and families in our course around downtown Austin on the most perfect, clear, sunny day, and relish the opportunity I have to move in any way I choose.

I actually didn’t get a time for this race – my chip never picked up any activity (??)  but I swear, I did the whole thing!

Even if I don’t really like running. Even if I’m not a runner. Even if my friend’s dad who power-walked the course finished just 10 minutes after I did. (No joke, he’s a machine). No matter what, I’m so glad that I can choose to run. That walking or running is available to me, and that I’m no longer the person offering the “I would like to be a runner…” excuse.

 

What new moms actually need

Over at Fit Approach, we’re in full-on holiday planning, so I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts. It’s too early, I know—I shudder to think I’m contributing to the holidays happening earlier every year trend—but I guess I am. Oops. This is sort of a holiday gift guide but really it’s a primer on what to give your mom friend, especially your new mom friend, for any occasion.

Don’t get her a stroller or baby clothes or anything that’s “for her” but really for the baby. Get her some of these things instead.

Below are the items that transformed my postpartum life. Most of these took me plenty of trial and error to figure out, so consider this your cheatsheet for what’s actually going to improve her life.

Wireless headphones

There’s no way to say this gently, so I’m just going to say it: sometimes momlife is really, really boring. You may be watching a butterfly mobile, pushing a swing, or inspecting individual pieces of bark at the playground for what feels like an eternity. Listening to podcasts and audiobooks has been a sanity saver for me, and I wish I had started doing it back when Mac was super new and I spent my whole life nursing and changing diapers. Next time, I’ll know.

I rely on my trusty wireless headphones for everything. Wires are just a no-go with a grabby baby and a chronic shortage of hands. If you follow me on the internet you know that my Aftershokz are my constant companions – they are literally the best headphones I’ve ever owned. And they make everything from conference calls to running to boring momlife moments better.

A workout app that helps her feel connected

 

I’ve been very honest about my postpartum fitness journey, and how long it took me to find a way to fit it all in. I’m still working on that. But my ace in the hole lately, something I wish I’d had available to me back when I was on a tight breastfeeding tether, was Gixo. It’s a workout app that I actually like (this is a big deal, people), primarily because of the built-in social interactions and accountability. The classes are live so the instructor is talking to you the whole time, encouraging you, even video chatting with you during water breaks.

I use it after Mac goes to bed, or I’ll even pop into a 15 minute class while she’s busy identifying every rock at the park. Even though I know the instructor can’t see me (unless I opt to share my camera during water breaks), knowing she’s there leading the class and hearing her provide feedback in real time makes me work harder to avoid getting ‘caught’ slacking. Silly, I know, but so effective. Without the live accountability, there is NO WAY IN HELL I would ever decide to do a workout, alone in my house, after she goes to bed, when all I really want to do is collapse on my couch and stare vacantly into space.

Instead, I do a Gixo workout or two, then dive back into work, reenergized by an evening dose of endorphins.

Get one month free plus 20% off here.

 

A cell phone wallet

We made these adhesive wallets for BlogFest this year, and this simple little gadget has been life-changing for me. When you’re swapping bags all the time, from diaper bag to purse to just cramming what you need in your pockets, it’s easy to forget the things you actually need. I keep my baseline essentials—ID and credit card—in my cell phone wallet, which means all I have to do is grab my phone and, even if I do no other purse swapping, I can make it through just about any day. No unloading my wallet, no collecting loose cards or items, and no forgetting things in random pockets.

We have these cute little adhesive ones for just $3; here are some fancier ones:

A backpack she’ll want to use as a purse

 

The thing about momlife is that there are never enough hands to go around. Having a purse over one shoulder only complicates the whole juggling situation. I’ve been on team backpack for years, but becoming a parent made my commitment rock solid.

I bought this backpack as a diaper bag originally, but it has since morphed ito my purse. I get a ridiculous number of compliments on it, from people who are not parents, and who are shocked to discover it’s a diaper bag. That means you get all the pros of a diaper bag (hello, pockets and easy clean!) with none of the drawbacks.

Here are some of my favorite backpack options:

Momlife friendly athleisure

Joggers
Can we say elastic waist? I recommend joggers that are gray or heathered rather than black; they are less likely to show spit up, food, dirt and other substances she’ll find herself smeared with than a pure black pair would.

Here are some of my faves:

Tops with that are cut generously around her belly.

It’s nice to have some breathing room around the belly. IT takes weeks, or months, for new moms to not look pregnant any more. Bonus points if theyr’e nursing friendly, easy to clean, AND don’t show spit up.

These are some gems:

 

A cute pair of sneakers

 

Picking shoes out for someone else is hard, but I had to include this one because once you start dressing for mom life, it’s a slippery slope into pajamas all day and mom jeans (and I don’t mean the cool hipster kind). Having a cute pair of sneakers is a perfect way to be comfortable and able to chase around toddlers / walk around with a baby in a carrier all day without feeling like a slob. I’m a die hard Converse fan, and I also have a (stupid expensive) pair of slip-ons that I bought years ago and have been one of my best cost-per-wear purchases (what a relief!).

Why not one of these pairs?

What do you think? What’s your go-to gift for new moms?

We’ve come a long way, baby

Image source

I remember so well my mom routinely sending me to elementary school with a check, which I’d trade in for Safeway Scrip. I didn’t really understand what it was; I just knew that my mom always bought groceries with scrip, and that $100 seemed like a staggering fortune compared to my 50 cent allowance.

I’d guard that stack of $20 paper gift certificates so carefully, tucking them into my otherwise chaotic, disorganized backpack, and rush right home to deliver the goods before something could happen to that precious pile of cash.  And then, grocery shopping with my mom, which was a treat because we always got to each french bread while we shopped. And sometimes it was warm, fresh out of the bakery. Is there anything better than fresh hot bread?

So it came with all sorts of warm fuzzies when ShopWithScrip reached out about partnering with the Sweat Pink community. Back in the 90s, ShopWithScrip kept our family flush with our standard chicken, rice, and steamed broccoli dinners, and also helped my elementary school get supplies and other things public schools are so starved for.

Since then, the program has come a long, long away. #ThanksInternet. You can now get e gift cards for everything, like Target, Amazon, Whole Foods … basically all the places my money goes anyway. But with Shop with Scrip I can justify my spending by sending some of that money back to an organization of my choice. (Watch out, Whole Foods mochi bar: I’m coming for you. IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN).

It’s a way easier to fundraise then, ahem, buying a bunch of cookie dough or wrapping paper. Which I always say yes to, because it’s for the children.

I’ve been doing all my grocery shopping with Scrip, loaded up my Amazon account with a gift card that will vanish tomorrow (gah, Prime, why do I need so many things from you??) and even used Scrip for a little wardrobe update.

If you want to join me on my spending spree for the good of humanity, Fit Approach is using ShopWithScrip to fundraise for Girls on The Run. There are a few steps you involved in getting set up, but once you do, you’re all set to purchase gift cards—even reload your Starbucks card—and give back at the same time.

If you want to give back, join our program benefiting Girls on the Run! Just email me (alyse AT fitapproach.com)  if you’d like to join and I’ll give you our super secret access code to participate.

Or, if you are involved in an organization that needs to fundraise, this is your answer for how how to can scrap bake sales and pancake breakfasts: start fundraising an easier way.

That way, next time you spend your #wholepaycheck at Whole Foods or Amazon, you’re giving a percentage back to helping young girls chase their dreams. And if there’s a right reason to go shopping, it’s gotta be that one.

In partnership with ShopWithScrip. Thank you for supporting organizations who do great work! 

Let’s run away to Canada

Hi friends, it’s been forever. I’ve written about a bazillion blog posts in my head this summer, especially on the way to or from an airport. It’s been a magnificent summer for travel and an abysmal one for routines and getting the regular stuff done. Like writing here.

Speaking of travel, I’m headed to Vancouver this weekend for a friend’s Still a Bachelorette Party, and the timing couldn’t be more desirable. Here are my top reasons for fleeing for the border:

The Still A Bachelorette is one of my besties 

We’ve been friends for, gulp, 17 years. Half my life. She’s the life of the party and the creator of genius kitchen creations like bacon baskets and ramen pizza. I can’t wait to celebrate with her!

In Canada. Where people are wonderful.

We thought sleep was fixed… until it wasn’t.

The first night home from my solo trip to Europe Mac slept for TEN HOURS IN A ROW. The next night was pretty solid too. Then… back to normal. Talk about a bait’n’switch.

Time to run away again. To Canada, where no doubt toddlers sleep like sweet little silent angels. 

Um, WTF is wrong with our country?

I’m outraged and mute with horror, but I’m also trying to speak up, because the decent humans among us can’t afford to remain silent anymore. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to use my voice. I don’t usually talk about serious things on the internet, but this post helped me think through how, and why, to use my voice in my industry.

In the meantime, I’ll be in Canada. 

Location scouting!

We’re hosting a retreat in Vancouver next month with Lorna Jane. There are, as of this writing, a couple spots left if you want to join us. It’ll be community-building, sweat, and swag, just like in Sonoma. 🙂

This is my preview trip of … Canada!

Um, WTF is wrong with our country?

Bears repeating.

Skip the hassle, eat more sushi

I try to lead a pretty healthy lifestyle: to eat well, exercise, all the good stuff. But one area where I typically fall short is in seeing the doctor. I try to avoid it as much as possible, entirely because of all the hoops you have to jump through in order to spend 5 minutes with her: parking, waiting rooms, sitting on hold to make the appointment in the first place … I mean, what a drag.

So you can bet my on-demand, delivery-loving self was 100% on board with trying out Everlywell, which basically eliminates all the rigamarole associated with getting labs done. No scheduling a doctor’s appointment to get a lab order. No finding a lab close to you. No traveling however far and finding and paying for parking and waiting in some drab waiting room for 30 seconds of action. No waiting to hear from your doctor about your results. No traffic or parking or waiting rooms or online scheduling or clipboards full of cramped forms to fill out. YESSS.

I tried out the DHA test for breastfeeding mothers, because Mac’s brain development is (shocker) really important to me. So is eating sushi, so I could only see getting good news from this test: I was either giving Mac enough DHA for optimal brain development, or I needed to eat more sushi. (Or both, I mean, why not?)

The test shows up so perfectly packaged, with super simple, clear instructions. I took this test in my pajamas, without having to load the whole kit & caboodle & toddler into the car.

The breastmilk test requires just a few drops of milk. I had packed away my pump over two months ago, and I wasn’t about to bring it back out—I’m retired—but luckily a simple manual expression did the trick. I waited till Mac got the pipes flowing, then expressed a few drops into the smallest glass I had, which happened to be a wineglass. #partytime

What I didn’t anticipate was just how upset Mac would get by those few drops getting rerouted from her belly. She let me know just how unhappy about it she was. But after I’d used the pipette to drop my milk onto the little sample card, I gave it to her to play with and there was once again peace in the kingdom.

She also got to play with the cute little bandaid container included. Since my test required no blood, those went straight into the diaper bag for future emergencies. (Thanks, Everlywell!).

From there, you just pack up in the included envelope, slap on the included shipping label, and drop it in the mailbox. It literally couldn’t be easier.

Five days later, my results were in my inbox. I loved getting to see easy-to-understand charts instead of a cursory phone call from the doctor’s office with a bare bones “everything was normal” summary of results.

Unfortunately, everything was not normal… my DHA levels are below recommended.  🙁

I guess that means more sushi… or, since I’m currently in Hawaii, more poke.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Besides guzzling more fish, I’m taking my results to my next doctor’s appointment so I can make an action plan and make sure I am fueling Mac’s brain every way I can.

Want to be the boss of your health, from home, in pajamas? Cool. You can try this DHA test for 15% off with the code ALYSE15.

Or, if you’re not breastfeeding, Everlywell has a whole other suite of at-home tests, including food sensitivity, metabolism, sleep, fertility, and so much more. You can save 10%  on any (or all!) of those with the code FitApp10.

At-home testing is the way to go, for real. Who doesn’t love delivery??

This post was sponsored by Everlywell via the Sweat Pink community. All opinions are my own, and I so appreciate your support of the brands who support me and Sweat Pink?