What kind of investments are you making?

The other day, as I was innocently typing out a post, I found myself defaulting to this tired language:

“I’ve reduced the amount of time I invest in typical beauty routines, like blowdrying my hair and putting on makeup”

Invest. Hundreds of underpaid copywriters have leaned on that default word choice in thousands of throwaway pieces, I’m sure. What a particularly capitalist flavor of condescension to women. It’s a pretty poor investment that brings you clogged pores and split ends instead of wealth or power.

I suspect that that word was embedded into my subconscious 20-some years ago by seventeen magazine. I have visceral memories of feeling initiated into a mystery the first time I ran my fingers over those pages. Each one radiated glossy seduction: eat just 2/3 of a Reese’s peanut butter cup (25 calories!) and you’ll earn the thighs that allow you to wear these jean cut-offs. Wear those shorts and you’ll be invited to join the popular girls’ lunch table. Use Night Replenishing Core Activating Anti-Wrinkle Rejuvenating Matte Day Cream with Light-Refracting Mineral Crystals in Honey Nectar, twice daily and your crush will finally ask you to prom.

Oh, what happy returns.

Surely this language is an anachronism, a hanger-on from back when we taught girls that their worth was measured by how they looked.

Or.

Well.

Sometimes it feels like the fatigue of “this still? really?” comes up and smacks you in the ass. Or is it grab – no, no, let’s not go there.

Let’s talk instead about radical prioritization. I’m winnowing, but I’m no Marie Kondo. I can’t just give up every tchotchke and 10-year-old skirt from Forever21 like it doesn’t matter to my life. My garage still guards one giant box of personalized sweatshirts from my childhood dance studio, and another of notes I wrote to my bestie in 8th grade science class.

Kari: if you’re reading this, THE SUN IS GOING TO EAT YOU. (What is happening ☝️is that the sun is slowly expanding and will someday absorb the earth.)

Compounding this imminent solar threat is that I feel always at a loss for time. Always torn in many parts. No matter where I am, I should be somewhere else, doing something else, ticking something else off that godforsaken to-do list.

I’m not minimizing material things so much as I am removing rituals that are burdensome and not, in fact, necessary to my success as a female human. This practice dovetails nicely with my dawning realization that while I have survived a particular set of cultural attitudes about women with only minor hangups and occasional flareups of rage, I cannot abide by my daughter being raised to associate the sisyphean task of pancaking and then removing twenty finely differentiated products, daily or twice daily, with the word investment.

I’m saying no to all the things and it feels so good. It feels like an opening up of possibility. Advancement through negation. Freedom and fortune. Fortune through freedom.

This is a very long winded way of saying that I’m not wearing makeup, I’m not blowdrying my hair, I’m living the capsule lifestyle, and I am considering chucking my razors, but someone recently told me that smooth, glistening skin is THE beauty trend this season, and I took the quiz on page 54 and learned that my legs are my best feature, sooo …

So I guess we’re done

Breastfeeding, that is. I spent ten days away from Mac this summer, and had no real plan or agenda about how that would affect our breastfeeding. Over those ten days my body gave a few last gasps of production, and then with a last sigh of resignation it relapsed into pre-pregnancy, pre-breastfeeding state.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad about the end of our time together. Breastfeeding was hard and painful at first, and it was frustrating and inconvenient any time I dared to step beyond a certain radius of my child, but it was also rewarding, to the tune of an extra 1,000 calories a day to blow on brownies and triple cream yogurt and as a form of bonding unmatched on this earth.

Mac is sad, too. She still nurses, a few times a day, and it’s a soothing transition mechanism for both of us and discomfort for me and frustration for her. There have been so many big changes recently, so much upheaval in routines and places and people, that I’m hesitant to counter with a hard NO when she asks. So she supplicates at the dry well and I squint with occasional twinges and we get along.

Photo: stitchy.lala.pupu

And, speaking of new worlds opening up, that box of clothes I put aside as too small are back in play, and the bras once in regular rotation are officially benched. This pre-baby body is here-ish, forever altered by the expansion and service to a life more important than its own.

And I find myself in need of new bras. Which, by the way, I have foresworn along with makeup. My apotheosis into first-wave feminist is nearly complete, if only I could reject razors and dresses as thoroughly as I have eyeliner and underwires.

So to justify my shopping, I bought a Gap gift card with ShopWithScrip, and then went to town on smaller sizes in the only kind of bras I’ll tolerate these days: bralettes free from wires, hooks, clasps, and all other mechanical fixtures.

And while I wait for my wardrobe updates to arrive, I’m embracing how thoroughly motherhood has, through hormones or hocus pocus, expanded my emotional repertoire enough that I’m missing being at the beck and call of an irrational tiny human.

Honey I fired the sleep trainer

Sleep has been our constant struggle, as I’ve shared over and over again. There are so many times I’ve reached the end of my rope with sleep deprivation, so many mornings when I was sure I could not keep going like this.

Each time, I’ve bounced back, always through the help of my husband or my mom or my village, all of whom are so gracious in taking a night or two and forgiving whatever nasty things I say when I’m at my sleepy craziest.

The last time I hit my edge, I finally called a number that I’d saved several breaking points ago: the number for a sleep coach that several of my mom friends had recommended to me, promising that she was a baby whisperer, and that there was virtually no crying involved in her bag of tricks.

It’s at those desperate moments that the yearning for a magic bullet overpowers your judgment and your critical thinking. There’s no choice but to just dial the number, and groggily ask the questions you’ve been formulating in the small dark hours of the night, night after night.

What is your method.

How much crying do you allow.

What are your success rates.

In which category of the baby product industrial complex should we purchase two of everything to adequately prepare for this process?

Can you come today.

This time, the answers to those questions didn’t turn me off, as they had with previous phone calls I’d made. Most notably: 2 minutes crying max. And, specifically, only the fussing kind of crying, not the hysterical, soul-shredding crying that I am biologically incompatible with.

Two weeks and too much cautious optimism later, my would-be savior showed up, and she took charge of the night shift.

Nathan installed himself in front of his phone so he could monitor the proceedings, with every intention of staying up all night.

I hid in my room and pretended like nothing was happening, except that I anxiously scrolled Facebook and drank a beer and couldn’t fall asleep.

Nathan came in a couple hours into it, and said, I know you don’t want to see this, but I think you should see this. This has been going on for over an hour.

And there, on the video monitor, was my toddler, hysterically screaming bloody murder while frantically trying to open the door to her room.

The coach came in, laid Mac back down in her bed, then left, and immediately, Mac was scrambling out of bed, face and body contorted with rage, twisting and tripping over her sleep sack as she charged the door again.

I marched upstairs and ended it.

Over the next hour, her breathing finally slowed back to its normal rhythm, and she spent the full night sleeping on my chest, like she was brand new to this world. My sweaty barnacle didn’t even want to nurse. She just wanted full body contact.

I realize I am on perhaps the extreme end of the sensitive spectrum when it comes to my baby crying. Maybe with the second one I’ll have developed better coping mechanisms. But I would so much rather drink a lot of coffee and pull in backup support (husbands & grandmas FTW!) than have my child experience that kind of emotional intensity in the service of my convenience.

Sleep training for us lasted less than three hours, all said and done. If anything, our brief flirtation with it set us back, sleep-wise. And I’ve said it before, but I really mean it this time: I’m done with treating this like a problem to be solved.

There’s no magic bullet. And that’s something I just need to keep remembering, every time I think I’ve hit rock bottom.

PSA: Hopefully this is redundant, but it bears repeating since sleep is such a polarizing topic: I have ZERO judgment for—and have zero place to judge—however you are parenting, sleep related or otherwise. This is where I’m at. End of story. 

 

 

Why you should be jealous of me

In the last few months, I’ve basically stopped wearing makeup. It was a gradual decline into naked face; first I’d just skip the mascara because omg taking off mascara after a long day is the worst possible chore (yes, I’m super lazy. So what?), then I realized skipping eyeliner was a really good idea and then it was just some blush and foundation and now … maybe concealer, maybe on the worst of the worst mornings after the worst of the worst nights.

My progression into the natural look has unfortunately resulted in some serious self-side-eye on particular mornings. Sometimes it’s WOAH, haggard, up in here. You can tell I have a baby who doesn’t sleep and that self care is way, way down the priority list, right behind cleaning crusted spaghetti puree off the parts of my upper arms I can’t see and scavenging stray Cheerios for my own dinner.

This is my hyperlocal source for crusted spaghetti.

Jealous yet?

Let me give you some more fodder: my ace in the hole.

I have family on Maui. 

BOOM. There it is. I see your jealousy.

Pretty cool, right? Also, there’s a family reunion every summer that is TOTALLY REQUIRED.

Every year my husband makes some noise about how far away it is and how that flight with a baby will be really tough and I convince him we should really, actually, 100% go. You know, FOR THE FAMILY. (Hi, family, I love you. XOXO).

So, now that you’re seething in jealousy, let me get back to my story about my non-glamorous no-makeup look.  I had a little come to jesus moment about skincare, partly due to some blunt comments from an aesthetician and partly due to the escalating puffiness I have to witness in my bathroom mirror every single day. 

Ahhhhh. Why did nobody tell me that “having it all” included so many dark circles and bloodshot corneas?

So, I took matters into my own hands. Or, rather, someone reached out at just the right moment when I was READY. Ready to make a change.

Specifically, the founder of FRÉ Skincare, a line for women who sweat, reached out, and (disclosure, they are now a Fit Approach client, but that does not change this story one bit), and I said, YES, please send me all the things that will save my skin, it needs all the help it can get. But not if it’s too complicated, because half the time I wash my hair I put conditioner on first because I can’t tell the bottles apart. #TrueStory.

So, they kindly agreed to help a sister out and sent me the whole kit and caboodle, and I diligently set aside my lazy tendencies and put the product to the test.

In Maui (see, it’s all coming together. I promise). Well, I actually started using it here in Austin, and put it through the wringer with suffocating swamp humidity during the Athlete Inside challenge, which made me do more burpees than any human should ever have to do. (Thank you, Ben Zorn, I love to hate burpees).

Then I took it to Maui and tested the sweat- and water-resistant properties in the pool, ocean, and sun. (full story, plus tropical photos, here).

I’ve been using it for a month now, and the bottom line: I have way fewer reasons to side-eye myself in the mornings now. I am actually comfortable going out makeup-free, and not just because I’m lazy, but because my skin actually looks nicer on its own than it does with makeup. There is a legitimate, empirical reduction in redness and dryness and puffiness. It was also serious sun protection (it was the only SPF I used on my face in Hawaii, and look, ma, no sunburn!).

I feel like a whole new woman. I do not catch glimpses of myself in mirrors out in public and shudder or think, ugh, you really should work on *that*.

So, now, you can be jealous of me for not feeling like a train wreck when I leave the house every morning.

Also, and probably more relevant to you, dear reader, is that the line is anti-aging, sweat- and water-resistant, and doesn’t drip into your eyes and viciously burn them while you’re innocently running or laying on the beach. It’s good. It’s real good.

Lastly, if you want to give it a go yourself, FRÉ was kind enough to share a discount code for you. Use code SUMMERSWEAT for 15% off. You’re welcome.

Disclosure: Like I said, FRÉ is a Fit Approach client. The ranting, opinions, and jealousy-inspiring traits in this post are 100% mine. 🙂 

Oh, and, speaking of discount codes that expire on Friday, join us for the EMPOWER Race & Yoga weekend, won’t you? SWEAT gets you 40% off. Yes, FORTY PERCENT. There’s a virtual option, too.

 

 

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?