Monday, September 23, 2013

Week Two of the 100 Pushups Challenge

Well, I made it through week 2 of the 100 pushups challenge.  The program continues to be a major challenge, but so far, I have been able to complete all of the workouts as scheduled.  When I performed the initial test, I could only do 7, but after finishing this week's workout, I did 17 pushups in a row.  I am pretty excited about my progress, and it is so encouraging to see the results of my hard work.

I do have a few tips for anyone starting the program, all based on my experience thus far:

  1. Stretch, stretch, stretch.  Do a lot of stretching before and after every workout.  Doing pushups is really hard work, and if you do not stretch a lot, you will be really sore.  It's hard enough to complete the workout when you aren't in pain, but if your arms are hurting going into it, look out.
  2. Maintain a regular schedule with at least a day between each workout.  Don't try to do your workouts too close together.  You really need that day of rest in between workouts, and it will give your muscles time to repair.
  3. Take it one set at a time.  When you start each workout, just concentrate on completing each set.  Don't be intimidated by how many you have left to complete, and if you need to take a little extra time between sets, go for it.
  4. Find someone to do the challenge with you.  I tried to get my husband to join me, but he hasn't started it yet.  Although I don't have anyone doing it with me at the moment, he might join me, and I think it would be a great motivator to have someone with whom to compete.
Good luck with your own workouts, and have fun!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Current cloth diaper and baby gear giveaways

After much internal debate, I have decided to let go of my giveaways list for now.  I have way too much other stuff going on, and it is just too much trying to maintain it.  BUT I will not leave you without some really great links that I have found and use often, so you know where to go from here. Happy entering and winning!

Cloth Diaper and Baby Gear Giveaways:'s Friday Giveaway Roundup - Cloth diapers, strollers, car seats, diaper bags, baby carriers, and more! 

Low Entry Giveaways:

Airplanes and Dragonflies - Subscribe to make sure you get the daily list.  I have won a bunch of giveaways listed by this site.  It is definitely worth it to check it out regularly.

Twitter Parties:

Mommy Blog Expert - Awesome Twitter party calendar


Monday, September 16, 2013

Breastfeeding for beginners: What they don't tell you

I originally planned to formula feed my son, and I had several reasons why I thought that would be best. I wanted my baby to be able to bond with other people through feeding, especially his father.  I wanted him to sleep well, which is a much easier feat to achieve using formula than breast milk since formula keeps them full longer.

At the end of my pregnancy - and we are talking 37 weeks plus, I changed my mind and decided to breast feed.  I had been leaning that way, but honestly, it kind of freaked me out.  I know, I know - "It's natural," and "It's the way God intended us to feed our babies," but still, I was kind of feeling a bit "ew" on the whole thing.

But reading about all the health benefits for my little guy (and me) made me decide that I would just bite the bullet and make it happen.  I got a book from the library and read up on breastfeeding as I waited out the last few weeks.  I went into the hospital ready to rock and roll.  Things went pretty well from the start, apart from a few initial latching issues.  Once we found a position that worked for both of us - my 10 pound, 2 ounce baby necessitated a c-section, which left me in quite a bit of pain - we were off to a good start.

Our first night home, however, my son would not sleep, and all he did was cry when I put him to bed.  I could tell he was hungry, so I kept nursing him for hours.  I was still in excruciating pain from the surgery, not to mention absolutely wiped out from the surgery and the Percocet.  The pediatrician had told us to consider supplementing with formula because Clayton lost a good bit of weight in the hospital.  That first night home, I finally gave him 2 ounces of formula, which was enough to fill him up and allow him - and me - to sleep.

When it comes to breastfeeding, it seems there are so many rules out there that are touted as being absolute, as well as so many things that are said in such a way that they do not really prepare you for life as a nursing mom.  So, first a disclaimer, then on to breastfeeding as I see it.

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical professional, nor have I been educated in breastfeeding, lactation, childbirth, child rearing, or anything to do with any of these things.  The following comments are based solely on my experience and should be taken as such.  Consult a medical professional or lactation consultant for expert advice because this is not it.

Breastfeeding, as I see it:

  1. Virtually every breastfeeding resource out there will tell you that it is normal to experience sore nipples in the first couple days or weeks of breastfeeding.  This is absolutely true.  However, having just gone through pregnancy, that translated to me as, "Sore, but not a huge deal."  In the first two weeks of my son's life, I experienced excruciating pain to the point where I had to stop using one side or the other for days at a time, just to allow some healing.  (I still used a breast pump, which was much less painful than nursing and kept the sorest boob from getting engorged and even more sore.)  Seriously, I used to have to do lamaze breathing to get through the first few minutes after my son latched.  After about two weeks, things improved rapidly, and even during his growth spurts when he is eating ALL DAY, it has never been nearly that bad.  To get through it, I imagined that by dealing with the pain of nursing, I was sparing my son the pain of an illness he might otherwise get if I was not breastfeeding.  Stay strong, ladies.  This, too, shall pass.  (And if it doesn't, talk to a lactation consultant because it really isn't supposed to be like that all the time.)
  2. There is a lot of talk about nipple confusion and how you should not give a baby a bottle or a pacifier until he is about a month old because he will forget how to nurse.  My son had his first bottle (Tommy Tippee) at 5 days old.  We never had a problem with nipple confusion.  I was afraid to give him a bottle at all, but when the pediatrician recommended supplementing with formula, I asked if I should give it to him in a dropper.  Her response was, "Yeah, sure.  Or a bottle.  As long as you are putting him on the breast regularly, he's not going to get confused."  And he didn't.  (See disclaimer above before freaking out.)
  3. When it comes to waiting for your milk to come in or growth spurts, there is a lot of talk about how you should never supplement with formula.  When my son hit his first growth spurt at 3 weeks, I was floored by how much he was eating.  He has always been a big eater, probably because of his size, but he was eating almost constantly during his growth spurt.  The first two days, I tried so hard to keep up with him, but in the evenings, I could not keep up anymore.  There was no milk coming out of me, and he was hungry.  So, guess what.  I did supplement with formula.  I gave him a couple ounces to help him fill up, and then I popped my breast pump on and let it do its thing.  That way, my body would still get the signal to produce more, but my son did not have to starve.  People like to say, "Oh, your breasts are never empty," but mine might as well have been because there was nothing coming out of them.  Today, we no longer have to supplement, and even at his last growth spurt, we made it through without formula.  But if you are a little low on milk, don't let other people make you feel bad about using a little formula so that your child doesn't have to be hungry.  This is not the stone ages.  Thanks to formula and breast pumps, we can feed our kids from bottles and trick our bodies into thinking we are nursing so we can produce more.  I am not about to let my poor son cry from hunger out of some misguided devotion to breast milk.
  4. There will be growth spurts around 3 weeks and 6 weeks of age.  These are no joke.  When your child is having a growth spurt, try to avoid having company or going out because he is going to need to eat A LOT.  (On a side note, by the time your child is 3 weeks old, you will probably know his hunger cues like the back of your hand.  No matter how little experience you had with babies before having one of your own, do not let anyone try to tell you he does not need to eat when you know he is hungry.  You know your child.  In my house, the rule is, "If he's hungry, he's allowed to eat.") Review


As I have mentioned, I am in the process of saving money towards starting my own business, with the ultimate goal of being able to work from home exclusively so that I can be with my son.  Although I am not quite ready to launch, I do have enough of the basics figured out that I am ready to start working on advertising materials.  So, when a representative from Build A Sign contacted me, I was super excited to be able to try and review their products.

I chose bumper magnets, which I love because they are an inexpensive way to spread the word about my business, and they are easy to attach and remove from vehicles.  When my business is ready to launch, I will be able to slap a magnet on the back of my car (and hopefully talk a few friends into doing the same) and feel like even sitting in traffic is a worthwhile endeavor.

The kind people at Build A Sign gave me free rein to design my car magnet bumper stickers, and with their fabulous web tool, I was able to do it all on my own in just a few minutes.  I am one of those people who usually has trouble with this kind of stuff, even when it should be really easy, so when I say the design tool is easy to use, I mean it.

I received my magnets about a week later, and they appeared just as they had on the website.  I love that I was able to design them so easily, and they are so affordable that I may just have to order some more once I get launched!

On top of everything, the representative from Build A Sign was ridiculously patient with me, as being pregnant and then having a C-section really delayed me ordering and then posting this review.  He was so nice and understanding, which makes me want to order from them even more.

In addition to car magnets, Build A Sign offers a ton of other custom-made products to help promote your business, including bumper stickers, yard signs, banners, license plates, business cards, and more!  You name it, they probably have it.  If you are a small business owner - or a big business owner - looking for a great sign maker, take a few minutes and check them out.

Even if you do not have a business to promote, try their banner maker for your next big event, such as a child's birthday party.  Their banners are very reasonably priced, especially compared to others on the market, and the quality is fantastic.

Give them a try.  I think you will be very pleased with the results.  Please be sure to mention my review in the "Comments" section when you place your order.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week One of the 100 Pushups Challenge

Last week, I reported that I was starting the 100 Pushups challenge, which is a workout program designed to help users achieve the ability to do 100 pushups in a row in just 6 weeks.  When I took the initial test last week, I was only able to complete 7 pushups in a row, which was both depressing and motivating.  Since then, I have improved considerably, and I am really excited to see my progress thus far.  I can't wait to see where I am at the end of next week.

The program has 3 workouts per week, each with 5 sets of pushups.  The first 4 sets are a specific number, and the last set is a max out set where you do as many as you can.  Below are the results from the final set of the first week's workout, as well as my thoughts along the way.

Day 1:

Max: 8

Comments: Feeling pretty weak! Getting through the first 2 sets of 6 was incredibly hard, but it was nice to only have to do sets of 4 after that.  I do feel kind of pathetic because I can do so few pushups, but at least I am doing something about it. Gotta stay focused!

Day 2:

Max: 11

Comments: Woo! That was really hard, but I managed to complete it.  Then I surprised myself by cranking out 11 pushups!  I am already getting stronger!

Day 3:

Max: 12

Comments:  After just one week in the program, I can do 5 more pushups than when I started.  I am feeling stronger each time!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Starting the 100 Pushups Challenge

When I turned 29 in April, I published a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30.  Number nine on the list is completing the 100 pushups challenge.  Now that I am a day shy of 8 weeks out from my C-section, I am eager to get started strengthening my arms.

The 100 pushups challenge is a workout program that is designed to help you achieve the ability to complete 100 consecutive pushups.  As someone who has never been able to eke out more than 20 at my best, the idea that I could one day be able to do 100 pushpus in a row is pretty wild.

I have been encouraging my hubby to do the challenge with me, but it keeps getting put off for a later time.  Finally, I decided that if I am going to do this, I have to get started on my own, and hopefully, when he realizes that I can do more pushups than him, he will join me.  Ha!

First, I had to take the initial test to determine which level of the training program to use.  The initial test simply asks users to perform as many consecutive pushups as they can.  When I performed the initial test, I only managed 7 pushups, which was depressing, but not surprising.

Ever since my C-section, I feel like my whole body is so weak.  I don't know if it is from the surgery or if it just because I am weakened from the pregnancy, but whatever the cause, I am just happy to be back in the saddle and able to start working towards a better body and better fitness level.

Because I could only do 7 pushups, I will be following the 2nd column of the training program.  Every week, I will be doing 3 days of training.  It takes only a few minutes to complete each day's workout, so I intend to stick with it and in six weeks, I should be able to do 100 pushups in a row, which will be incredibly empowering.