Baking healthy and busting stress

Ever since college, I’ve used baking as a way to beat stress. Finals would find me up to my ears in batter and surrounded by a throng of salivating roommates.

I’d spend hours meticulously decorating sugar cookies with my vast sprinkle collection. It was a soothing way to avoid Chaucer or Faulkner and retreat back into happy memories with my mom and brothers, decorating holiday cookies or just-because cookies.

Yes, those are dinosaur sprinkles on the left. Be jealous.
Yes, those are dinosaur sprinkles on the left. Be jealous.

 

Now that third trimester is nearly here and the fatigue has me limited to basically one active pursuit a day, I’ve turned to baking again to help keep me chilled out. And since a multi-hour operation felt a little daunting, I was extra grateful to have a cookie mix by Fit Body Bakery to test out:

Fit Body bakery conquer it cookie instructions

The concept is awesome: it’s a healthy cookie base that you can keep as-is or add to until you create the cookie of your dreams. For all you gluten-free, paleo, and/or no-refined-sugar folks, these mixes were MADE for you.

I’m not any of those things, but I love the idea of (a) a simple cookie base that I can use as a starting point for anything, and (b) a kitchen helper for those times I need to bake with certain dietary restrictions in mind. Being in the fitness industry, I am often around and eating with people with the above dietary preferences… and I wouldn’t have the first clue where to start if I had to make a sweet treat they could actually enjoy!

The mix is super easy: all you need is an egg, some kind of fat (I used butter), and water. Easy peasy.

Fit Body Bakery ingredients and mixer

Of course, I wasn’t stopping there. I knew I had to make cookies in my favorite combo: peanut butter and chocolate. To keep with the healthy theme, I used Mighty Nut powdered peanut butter with flax & chia.

I just mixed the Mighty Nut with water as indicated on the package, and added it to the mix.

These were on track to being the healthiest stress buster cookies I had ever created.

Fit Body Bakery dough in mixer

 

The dough came together really easily. I found I needed to add a tiny bit more water than is called for to get it to all stick together.

 

Fit Body Bakery cookies on sheet

 

Love this – a workout while you wait for your cookies. Because you know those are the longest ten minutes EVER.

Fit Body Bakery mix box bake time workout

The cookies came out fluffy and pretty – no collapsing or flattening at all.

 

 

Fit Body bakery cookies baking sheet overhead

Fit Body Bakery cookies out of the oven

Fit body bakery cookies plated

They have a nice, light, and melty texture that totally worked for me. Again. And again.

And if you weren’t convinced yet, here’s the kicker: my husband, an ardently anti-healthy-cookies person, liked them too.

Want to try a Fit Body Bakery mix for yourself? There’s also muffins, brownies, and pancakes, oh my! Use the code SP15 for 15% off at FitBodyBakery.com. Expires 11/30/15.

I received a mix of Fit Body Bakery Conquer It Cookies and a package of Mighty Nut to try. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support the #sweatpink community!

Let’s talk about bras, part 2

Well, apparently this is the week I talk about boobs. And I’m pretty okay with that.

Title Nine invited me to attend their #T9FitFest, where a team of #bravangelists ply you with cheese and wine and fit you for your perfect sports bra.

t9fitfest sign
Apparently you’re supposed to replace sports bras every year? Guess it’s time to say goodbye to my “vintage” Target sports bras from circa 2005… 😉

 

I had to decline the wine (*sniff*) but did get all sorts of individual attention from a bravangelist. She asked me about my lifestyle and favorite activities, and handpicked an assortment of bras for me to try.

Loving these #bravangelists @titlenine ! #t9fitfest is a success! #myt9 #sweatpink #fitpregnancy #atx

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

Most of them were bras I would never pick up for myself, and fit like a dream. How amazing is it to have a personal shopper who pushes you out of your comfort zone? (Or, in this case, into your comfort zone?) I ended up going home with the 3 reasons bra from Moving Comfort, a silky dream of a bra that… wait for it… will also work for nursing.

moving comfort bra product only

Again, my bravangelist’s genius at work: it never would have occurred me to to look for that feature in a sports bra. #somuchtolearn moving comfort bra detail

In addition to this awesome bra, there was a swag bag chock full of amazing goodies from Aveda, Osmo, Skinny Pop, and of course Title Nine. Title 9 swag bag

Hands down the BEST part of the event, though, was running into Lora from Crazy Running Girl. We’ve known each other online for years (and even met in person once, many years ago) but have been struggling to actually get together in Austin.  crazy running girl title nine fitfest

I’ve already put my new bra to the test with a handful of workouts:

A heated vinyasa class 

A BOSU workout airplane BOSU moving comfort bra   

And an UrbanKick video on Booya.

Once again, I forgot I was wearing a bra. Now that’s what I call a good fit!

Okay, enough about me and my bras. The best news is that (a) you can go have a date with a bravangelist, too. Austinites, head over to Title Nine this Wednesday and Thursday, October 14 and 15 for a free fitting with a bravangelist. RSVP here.

And (b) I get to give away a free bra to one of you! It comes with a #bravengelist fitting so you know you’ll be getting the right one. (If you’re not close to a Title Nine store, you can do it online or via phone).

Good luck!

#T9FitFest Giveaway!

Disclosure: I received my bra for free from Title Nine. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support AMB! 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about bras

the best bra
I hate bras. Will go out of my way to avoid wearing them. I live in sports bras and bralettes, and basically rue the day when my outfit demands a real bra with straps and clasps and underwires and UGH.
Since I got pregnant, my breasts have shape shifted right along with the rest of my body, to the point where not a single bra I owned fit. I made it work for as long as possible, but last weekend I had a wedding to go to, and I needed a little more structure and substance than a bralette could afford.

On a friend’s recommendation, I went and tried some of the new wireless, seamless options from Victoria’s Secret.

“They’re just like sports bras,” she promised, “only you can wear them under regular clothes!”

I tried on ALL the bras.

I hated ALL the bras.

They were just as bad as regular bras, and made my flesh bulge in all the wrong (read: not sexy) places, like under my arms and on my back. I tried a few other stores in hopes that I could find something to wear under my dress, but came with nothing but bra-burning fantasies.

My package from ThirdLove showed up just two days before the wedding. I confess that while I was excited to get pretty things in the mail, I was skeptical.

the best bra

Did I mention I hate bras and think they are designed specifically for torture? 

I threw them in the wash and literally the first time I put one on was as I was scrambling to get ready for the wedding.

sweat pink

The rest of my experience can pretty much be summed up by one sentence:

When I came home 9 hours later, I was surprised to see I was wearing a bra under my dress. 

I literally forgot I was wearing a bra. That has never happened to me before. I’m always pulling up fallen straps, adjusting poky underwires, generally wishing I were not in cups.

They had a quick-draw photo booth at the wedding. How fun is that?!
They had a quick-draw photo booth at the wedding. How fun is that?!
But this one was different. Both of my ThirdLove bras fit beautifully and look good under clothes, too. And since I’ve been trying to step up my game and not wear sweats every day, they’ve really come to the rescue.

My favorite is the lacy Perfect Plunge bra, just because it’s the prettiest purple and, well, the lace, but the feather-light foam bra is a serious workhorse of a bra. It looks great under even the thinnest of white tops, and doesn’t give you icky back fat bulges or other weird lines. Meanwhile, you can forget you’re wearing it.
jessica simpson top thirdlove bra
Wearing a Jessica Simpson maternity top and the featherlight ThirdLove bra – not a funky line or bulge in sight! (Except, of course, the baby… )
jessica simpson top thirdlove bra back
Hoooray for no back fat bulges! Also, how pretty is the back of this top?
I’m dying to try the wireless bra and… surprise, surprise, the bralette caught my eye, too. 😉

I would tell you how sizing runs but honestly my body has changed so much I am not a reliable source. But – the good news is, the ThirdLove app is an actually reliable source. 🙂 It’s virtual bra fitting, and before you roll your eyes and think, “that could NEVER work,” give it a try. When I got measured during my shopping trip, three different salespeople measured me at three different sizes. The ThirdLove app nailed it: the size they suggested and then sent me was the perfect fit.

So tell me: what are your bra woes?

XOXO
– Your friendly former bra-hater


Don’t forget! It’s the last week of the #BOSUStrong Challenge but it’s not too late to join in. Today’s prompt is to plank it out. Make sure to tag @BOSU_fitness #BOSUStrong #sweatpink @fitapproach!

Plank it out for #BOSUStrong today!! @bosu_fitness @fitapproach #sweatpink #fitfamily #fitpregnancy #sweatpinklaces

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

Getting out of a rut

The last few weeks have been very much a time of transition. I’m watching my body shape shift before my eyes, and Moonshine has been kicking up a storm. She wakes me up in the morning with her ferocious little jabs, then celebrates with a happy dance after every meal and in every savasana.  (She’s clearly my and Nathan’s daughter; eating is already her favorite activity).

All this movement, and the increasing proportion of clothes in my closet that just don’t work anymore, is making this whole baby business a hell of a lot more real.

Cue freakout.

I had a moment, last week, while I was walking the dog. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, wearing what had become my uniform for the last two weeks or so: branded cotton tank, wrinkled maternity shorts, and birkenstocks.

Because every bump photo needs some duck lips.
This was literally my uniform for nearly a month.

 

I have this rule for myself. Basically, the ONLY real rule I have for myself: don’t go outside looking like a homeless person. Just because pajamas are my default state of being doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to experience my tattered sweats, sleep creased face, and crazy hair.

I had drifted really, really close to breaking my cardinal rule. It’s a slippery slope, y’all. And while I could push the boundaries while we were in Tahoe—where dusty outdoor gear is the universal uniform—it doesn’t blend in so well in downtown Austin.

More than that, my clothing complacency was just an index for what was happening in the rest of my life: I was slipping. Meal planning and grocery shopping was basically nonexistent. Planning for the baby (and maternity leave?) was something I had been avoiding. My exercise was getting haphazard (and occasionally offensive).

Something had to change. Many things had to change. I had to get my butt in gear and start owning this big thing creeping up on me and my waist size.

I started with the clothes: I went and got myself some maternity-friendly tops so I could pretend to be more put together when I left the house. I even invested in a maternity LBD that will carry me through a couple fall weddings and the holiday season.

sweat pink
More on this dress later – it’s magical.

I started grocery shopping, and actually making myself delicious, nutritious things to eat. Moonshine is doing all sorts of happy dances.

I’m also diversifying my snacking opportunities (since I find myself needing to eat every couple of hours, I was in a serious snacking rut). My Bulu Box provided just that opportunity to change it up without having to commit to new products at the grocery store.

sweat pink lovebulu

The chicken jerky, especially, is rocking my damn world. I haven’t been much on the meat train, for whatever reason, but for some reason this salty savory jerky is the exception to my meat aversion rule. Probably because I fall immediately in love with anything that involves basil. Hooray for lean protein! (Happy dances are happening).

My Hemp Heart Bites are making a regular appearance in my purse, too. I love having little protein rich snacks handy at all times, and these are chock full of omegas (so good for Moonshine’s brain development!).

sweatpink hhbites

I’m doing better on the exercise front, too. I’m recommitting to yoga, and even found a prenatal class I like.

sweatpink yoga

 

I’m also rocking out my home workouts on my BOSU.

sweat pink bosustrong

Then I tackled the work thing (or at least, started to). After reading a ton on the internets, trying to find other moms-to-be who run their own businesses, and trying to figure out just how they managed TWO babies without letting either one suffer, I decided I just need to create my own reality.* I made myself a Do-or-Die-Before-Baby list so I can make my absence easier for my team, and I’m actively trying to make myself dispensable so that as few people as possible are depending on me.

I’m feeling so much better already. So much more in control of my life, my health, my career. There’s still a lot of opportunity to improve – but all trends are pointing in the right direction.

In closing, I leave you with this:

2015-09-07 09.21.39

p.s. You can get 50% off a 3-month subscription to Bulu Box with the code SWEATPINK.

p.p.s. You can get 15% off Hemp Heart Bites with the code HHBitesLaunch15. You can also enter to win a case of Hemp Hearts by sharing a photo of how you and your family stay active and tagging @manitobaharvest #hhbites!

* That said, if you’re someone who had a baby and runs her own business, and wants to keep running her own business, I would LOVE to hear how you did it. I’m really struggling with this, and my online searching was pretty unfruitful. 

I received the BOSU, Hemp Heart Bites, and the Bulu Box for free. All opinions and life plans are my own. 🙂 Thanks for supporting the brands who support the Sweat Pink Community. 

Pregnancy-friendly natural sunscreen

sweat pink fit approach got bumped
My favorite poolside companions: #sweatpink trucker hat and Block Island Organics Sunscreen

As a person who has always fallen somewhere on the pale-to-transparent spectrum, I use a LOT of sunscreen. I apply probably every hour or more when I’m out in the sun. When I got pregnant, everyone started warning me about how much more the sun will affect you, and how you have to stay away from chemical sunscreens.

I haven’t changed many of my other cosmetic products due to concerns about chemicals—I figure the tiny bit of concealer I use is not an imminent threat to Alien—but given the sheer volume of sunscreen I slather on at such regular intervals, I figured I should probably look into a natural sunscreen for pregnancy.

I’ve tried mineral sunscreens before, and have always strayed back to my chemical friends. Physical sunscreens (like the kind made with zinc) have always been too thick, too opaque, too hard to apply.

I took Block Island Organics sunscreen for a spin this 4th of July weekend, and was pleasantly surprised. It’s got all the right buzz words: natural mineral sunscreen, made in the US, vegan, eco-friendly formula, and no parabens, dyes or fragrance. If anything’s not going to hurt Alien, this is it.

 

But how did it hold up to my previous, not-so-amazing experiences with natural sunscreens?

It bucked all the bad-news trends I remember from having tried natural sunscreens before.

sweat pink fit approach got bumped

It went on smooth—really smooth, actually—the amount pictured above ended up taking care of not just my legs and feet but also my shoulders, and rubbed right in with a translucent, lightweight cover. No pesky white streaks too stubborn to smooth out.

sweat pink fit approach got bumped
Hooray! No white residue in sight.

Once it dried, my skin felt soft, not greasy or residue-covered.

I only stayed outside for an hour and a half (that sun really gets to me these days!) but I came back inside with not a sunburn in sight.

I did notice, maybe because I didn’t put it to any tests like swimming or sweating, that the Block Island sunscreen has some real staying power. It took a dedicated scrubbing with a loofah to get it all off, which makes me confident that on my more active days this summer, it will easily stand up to swimming and towel drying and all the other fun stuff I (hopefully) have in store!

I’m tempted to give their skincare line, especially their moisturizer, a try. If they can make mineral sunscreen this light to the touch, I imagine the moisturizer feels heavenly on parched skin.

Block Island Organics was kind enough to offer a 15% off discount code just for you! Use the code alyse at checkout for 15% off. That’s on top of any other specials they have running!

I received complimentary product from Block Island Organics. All opinions are my own, and I so appreciate you supporting the brands who support my pale lifestyle.