Thursday, April 19, 2012

Running and God's design

I wrote this about 8 months ago, but never published it. I am publishing it now because I just had a successful run, I am transferring wasting time on facebook to wasting time on Blogger, and I want to encourage a few of my friends out there who have recently taken up running or are reinvigorating their enthusiasm for such a task.

Conditioning was always my least favorite part about playing basketball and tennis as a teenager. Endurance running particularly left me daydreaming about becoming an eternal coach potato. When I would go to a track to run, I used to look at the rubbery red sphere and scream internally. The cylindrical torture path seemed so large to me. How could I possibly run around it even four times? The feat seemed too painful and too difficult for me to accomplish on my own.
Fast-forward to my late 20's and after two babies I am running over two miles faster than I did when I was in shape as a teenager. I'm at least twenty pounds heavier and have had two major surgeries. So how is this possible? Did I magically become faster throughout the years?
The missing component in my life as a teenager versus ten years later: suffering. Long-suffering. I had a carefree childhood. The biggest troubles I faced before becoming an adult was a boy friend breaking up with me or not making a traveling team. Anything that I ever needed was given to me and almost anything I wanted was given to me as well.
I am still mostly out of shape from my last pregnancy, so after about two laps around the track I start to feel my body revolting from the discipline. When I was a teenager, my internal dialogue would have started screaming, "Stop! You should walk! You can't do this, just quit."
But after 18 months of pregnancy (non-consecutively), 17 months of nursing (and counting), and Noah's near-death experience, I realize the burning in my legs and my lungs doesn't feel too bad after all. My runs only lasts 30 minutes at this point anyway. That's nothing compared to the physiological difficulties I've faced since I was twenty-five.
As I continue to run and push myself towards higher goals of fitness, I begin to realize how for so much of my life I have been so very weak. I certainly don't come across as a weak person, but not even desiring to run a mile as a teenager says something about my character. Certainly lots of people run or ride bikes or train for triatholons. They aren't perfect people and they have weaknesses like the rest of us. But desiring to train for endurance events does show a certain degree of strength that us common-folk do not possess.
Life is an endurance run. I started off slow, but as the Lord is sanctifying me through suffering (and other devices), I keep going and gain in speed. None of us desire to suffer, but the fruit of suffering is palpable.

Fast forward to April 19th, 2012:
I am now running 3-5 miles at a time. When I run shorter distances, I can run a mile in 9 minutes. When I run longer distances, well, I don't have to tell you that my mile times get slower and slower as I go.  My mind-mantra during my run today (it was a tough run as it had been a while and I was just getting over a cold) was, "Does this hurt as much as your C-section recovery? No? Then keep going! You can stop when it hurts that much."   Thankfully, it never hurt that much.
Christopher started walking yesterday, April 18th. He is 13 months old. His dance moves, however, are reminiscent of his womb days.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

A must-share recipe

I confess I am a health nut now. So, whenever I discover a recipe that is healthy and as yummy as dessert, I do a little happy dance. I am so ecstatic over this recipe, I decided you have to know about it too. This morning I made whole wheat pumpkin muffins, and boy howdy, did my family enjoy them.  Notice how we already ate half of them (there's a reason why this pic is cropped)?
So, why is this recipe a good fit for our family? Well, other than the obvious good taste factor, we don't eat white-flour products anymore since the body processes white flour like sugar. Also, the use of truvia allows something to taste sugary without actually using sugar.
And while pumpkin has natural sugars, I am able to offset the rise in blood sugar that would occur naturally with this fruit by adding walnuts (the oil and eggs also help with this). 

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Walnut Muffins (yields 12 large muffins):

1&1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 15 oz. can organic pumpkin
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup truvia
2&1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Truvia,Natura's Calorie-Free Sweetener 1 Ounce Packages (Pack of 400)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with muffin cups.
In a medium sized bowl, combine wheat flour and baking powder. Stir and set aside.
In a large bowl combine pumpkin, oil, eggs, truvia, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Stir together and then add dry ingredients, a third at a time. After all is mixed together, fold in walnuts. Fill up muffin cups 3/4 of the way. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Saturday, August 06, 2011

It's only fair to update the blog

Back by popular demand, and by popular I mean 3 people, I have decided to resurrect the blog.  I won't be able to post like I did pre-Christopher, but once a week or so might be nice, don't you think? 
Speaking of Christopher, did you hear he was born? Not if you only check my blog you didn't. But, I'm on facebook often enough and so are you, so you know what's up.  But, here is some more in depth details about the new Pickett given to us by God for His glory and our enjoyment. 
Christopher is Noah 2.0.  He looks just like Noah, but Noah is all Irish and Christopher is all Italian.  Also, Christopher is the newer, "sleeker" model because he weighed about a pound and a half lighter than Noah did at birth.  But, they both have those gorgeous blue eyes that are ever so desirable.  
Christopher seems like the typical second child, more laid back, less precocious, but so sweet natured. He is not as easily impressed as Noah, but when Christopher smiles, the whole room lights up.  Christopher has grown very quickly since birth and has caught up to big brother at this stage in life.  He is in the 77% for height and 75% for weight and he sleeps 13 hours a night. Yes, you can all be jealous of me now. 
Here's a picture of the one we often call C-dawg because Christopher is sooooo long to say all the time, but I refuse to call him Chris. 

I smile with my mouth open!

Noah took about 3 months to get used to not being the center of the universe. Not bad really considering some people never learn that lesson until they meet their Maker.  Noah loves Christopher so much and tells him so every day, freely giving Christopher kisses all the time. I cannot wait until Christopher is old enough to play with Noah instead of being a punching bag. Here's the handsome big brother in action at Grandma and Pap pap's pool.  He's 2 and a half now. Although, if you ask him he'll argue with you and tell you that he is zero and Christopher is 2 and a half. The poor boy has my temperament.         

In other, not-so-cute-but-still-pertinent news, I lost 25 pounds. That may not sound all that impressive since I just had a baby four and a half months ago. But, what if I told you that from the beginning of my pregnancy to the end I didn't gain a pound, would you be impressed then? 
In fact, at one point during the pregnancy I lost 10 lbs. and throughout the course of the rest of the pregnancy I only gained those 10 pounds back.  So, in the 15 months that I had told you of my desire to slim down, I have lost 25 pounds.  Thank you Lord for guiding me through this endeavor. 
I still have a little ways to go, I have about 15 more pounds to shed to have a healthy B.M.I, but considering I am exercising, eating right, and still nursing, I am actually hopeful that I might return to a weight that I haven't seen since my undergraduate days. 
So, how did I do it?
I'm not telling you.
I don't want you all to be thinner than me. 
Just kidding. I'll tell you. As you may remember, before I became pregnant with Christopher, I was watching my calories like crazy.  I was exercising very consistently and maintaining a 1600 calorie intake.  But, I felt like progress was very slow and really leading nowhere. 
During the course of my pregnancy I was tested for gestational diabetes.  Everyone has to be tested when they are pregnant.  While I passed my (second) test, the doctor said the numbers were like getting a C+ on an exam.  I passed, but it wasn't a great score.  I remember the same results occurring during my pregnancy with Noah. My OB recommended that I cut all simple sugars from my diet so as to see if I could prevent having another huge baby (I was trying to deliver VBAC, which didn't work out anyway). 
I'm a bit type A when people give me goals. So I decided to figure out exactly what he meant by simple sugar and cut everything in my diet with it.  I obviously knew desserts were out the door. So much for the stereotyped pregnant lady who gets to eat anything she wants. But, as I started to read, and read, and read about what sugar does to one's body and what foods contain it, I started to realize that sugar has been my problem all along.  No, the desserts weren't the main foe. It was all the white pastas and all the "wheat" bread that has high fructose corn syrup hiding as a main ingredient. It was the potatoes, and tomato sauces, and anything else that the body processes like a sugar that isn't necessarily sugar. I have to tell you that I felt so ignorant while reading about nutrition. I thought I had it all figured out.
Keep your calorie count down, and you'll lose weight, right? But all the while, it wasn't just how much I ate, but what I was eating that was the problem.  And like I said, it was the stuff that seems healthy, like yogurt, and sandwich bread, and certain types of fruit.  Portion control was never actually the problem for me. 
So, it's no wonder that I didn't gain any weight while I was pregnant, or that Christopher was a normal birth weight, or that I feel like a million bucks comparatively to two years ago. 
The food I was eating was hindering me.  I am so thankful that the Lord showed me a way to eat well, feel satiated, and maintain a healthy weight. I had been praying about it for quite some time so I am thankful for answered prayers.
Well, I have much more to blabber on about my diet and exercise routine. But, I think this post is sufficiently long enough, so you'll just have to wait until next week to hear more about my boring life.  Goodnight!    
My mother is a very needy person

Thursday, December 30, 2010

10 weeks to go!

30 weeks down, 10 weeks to go until our lives are again changed forever.  To get some of you up to speed,  I am due March 12th, we are having a boy, and we have named him Christopher Brandon.  We will be calling him Christopher and not Chris, so please follow accordingly. 
Christopher is definitely growing, and has been making me very hungry in the last few weeks.  With Noah, I felt hungry through out the entire pregnancy.  With Christopher, I have only noticed feeling famished in the last few weeks.  I am praying that this little dude will be a little but smaller than his brother, since Noah was 9 lbs. 6 oz. at birth and 22 & 1/8 inches long.  I know that most people have their smallest baby the first time around, but I don't know how we get bigger from here.  I know people who have had ten pound babies, I just don't want to be one of those people. 
I have been relatively consistent with exercising.  I have been doing prenatal yoga about twice a week, and using a recumbent bike 2 times a week plus doing light arm strengthening exercises after I ride my bike.  I would like to do more on the bike, but for about the past 6 weeks, when I ride my bike I get Braxton Hicks contractions, which makes it very difficult to continue.  They stop as soon as I stop riding the bike, which is a bit annoying, but I take it as a good sign for this pregnancy because I literally did not have a single false contraction with Noah.  I went from feeling absolutely nothing to having contractions 1 minute a part when he was 9 days late.  You can imagine the shock this sent both my body and Noah's body into.  With Noah, I had intentions of not having an epidural.  Once I got the hospital, however, the doctor asked (before everything went crazy with Noah), "Epidural?"  I looked at Brandon, whispered, "sorry," and then responded to the merciful doctor, "Yes, please." 

Noah eating the horse's plastic carrot
 I have done very well with my weight gain this pregnancy, as I have only gained 12 pounds thus far.  I was overweight to start this pregnancy, so I hope to at the most gain 24 pounds (normal weight people should gain 25-35 pounds).  If I gain a pound a week from this point on, then I am right on track to meet my goals.
 As many of you know, I have discontinued my calorie counting once I knew I was pregnant because it is not advisable to feel famished during pregnancy.  However, I have been attempting (minus the holidays, and my walking trips to the mall with my friend Jenny) to make sure that everything I put in my mouth is of a nutritious nature.  I have been consuming a lot of unsalted nuts, eggs, fruits, veggies, and lean meats, and drinking lots and lots of filtered water.  Noah and I like to eat an apple a day (Noah eats it with the skin on, can you believe it?) together.  Thank goodness for Aldi or else I would be spending $20 a week on apples. 
As I come closer and closer to the end of this pregnancy, I ask that you would keep Christopher and I in your prayers.  I am attempting to have a VBAC this pregnancy, so like with all pregnancies there is some risk to this choice.  We desire to have a VBAC as opposed to another c-section for two main reasons: We would like to have a large family and for my health. 
So, please pray that the Lord would keep the baby and I safe through out the rest of this pregnancy and especially during delivery.  Please pray that I would not have gestational diabetes (will find out in about a week- I didn't with Noah), please pray that Christopher would be a child of God and would always know Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and please pray that Brandon and I would raise both Christopher and Noah in the fear and admonition of the Lord.       
Oh, and here are some pics of Noah for your viewing pleasure:
Noah loves peanut butter!
Oops!  I ate it all.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween pictures

I'm a puppy with a pumpkin bucket!
I'm tired already.  Can we go home?
I'm taking a picture.  Quick!  Close your eyes.
Looks like Pap Pap is more excited for Halloween than Noah

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My very own tomato sauce

For years, Brandon has asked me to make tomato sauce from scratch.  Every time he asked, I rolled my eyes and asked, "why would I make my own when it is so simple to just buy it from the store?"  I felt like I had better things to do with my time.
Well, ever since I have been on this health kick-thing, I realized that pre-made tomato sauce is incredibly high in sodium.  I suppose the companies have to use sodium to preserve the tomatoes, but it can get pretty ridiculous, some having upwards of 30% of your daily need in one serving.
As some of you know, I am half-Italian and was raised on Italian cuisine. So, the likelihood of ridding my diet of tomato sauce is next to impossible.  After looking over several sauce recipes, I have created my own concoction that I am ready to share with my readers. Although making my own sauce is much more difficult than just opening a jar, the taste is far superior and I feel happy to know some of my favorite dishes are contributing towards my health rather than a detriment.  

The finished product
10 medium Tomatoes (I used a combination of Roma, Cherry, and Globe)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 onion, diced
8 oz. mushrooms, diced
2 medium zucchinis, diced
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. Basil
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 Bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 small can tomato paste
Canning jars as needed
Boil a large pot of water.  Once boiling, place all tomatoes in the water and let sit for about five minutes.  Once skin is starting to peel, place tomatoes in a bowl of ice water.  Leave in water until able to peel tomato skin with bare hands (and remove seeds if you so choose).  Chop the peeled tomatoes into small pieces and then place them in a food processor/blender.  Blend until smooth.  Place tomato blend into a large pot and begin to heat on medium.  Meanwhile, in a larger skillet add oil, butter, garlic, onion, mushroom, and zucchini.  Cook for about 5 minutes on high heat.  Once onion is translucent, add vegetable mixture to the tomato sauce pot.  Then add the pepper, basil, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, red wine, and sugar to the pot.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Then stir in tomato paste.  Turn heat to lowest setting and allow to simmer for 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally.  Can sauce once cooked through and partially cooled (should make about two jars).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back and Better

I am back from my blog hiatus.  The combination of being pregnant, continuing my fitness regimen, and Noah's nap times getting later in the day and shorter have all contributed to my time away.  I have missed writing, but I have to keep my priorities straight: God, family, self, and then blogging :)
Well, since I have been gone, I have started to look pregnant. But in that awkward way when people aren't sure if I am pregnant or just have a fat belly.  I try to tell people as much as I can to relieve them of their curiosity (psssssssssst....I'm just fat).

Speaking of all came here for one specific reason, right?  What are we having, a boy or a girl?  Well, I'll give you a hint.  The baby has two legs, two arms, and during the ultrasound absolutely none of those arms or legs would sit still.  Sounds like a certain baby I already know and love, doesn't it?

Yup, it's a boy.  Noah officially has a baby brother and Mommy already feels officially tired.  We are so pleased with this gift God has given us and are pleased that as far as we can tell baby boy is as healthy as can be.
I am 19.5 weeks now, so I am basically half way through my pregnancy.  The baby is 10 oz., which is exactly how big the baby should be, and is about 1/10 the size Noah was at birth.  Here's to hoping for a smaller baby this time around.
Please continue to keep this baby in your prayers and thank you for caring.
We haven't come up with a name yet, but will be sure to share once we come up with names.  Do you have any baby boy name recommendations?  What names do you absolutely despise for a boy? 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Running and Pregnancy

Since I have become pregnant, exercise has become increasingly more important to me.  Certainly exercising was important to me before, but now it has become a gift I can give to my baby as well.  Keeping Mommy healthy means the baby is more likely to be healthy and I take this truth very seriously. 
However, not so long ago, many doctors did not recommend exercise for pregnant women.  Certainly a brisk walk was encouraged, but keeping your heart rate at an optimal level was always a concern.  However, opinions on this have now started to change, and exercise is seen as a crucial part of pregnancy.  To find more information on this topic, I borrowed the book Runner's World Guide to Running and Pregnancy from the library. 
This book gives great information and advice as to how to run during pregnancy, where your heart rate should be, how your body will most likely react to running during the different trimesters of pregnancy, and personal testimonies to how mom's stayed in shape while pregnant.  If you are a runner and are wanting to have children soon, I would highly recommend reading this book. 
Runner's World Guide to Running and PregnancyNow, I would not consider myself to be a runner.  I run, but I do not identify myself as a runner.  In fact, I have personally decided not to run during pregnancy, but have been interspersing stationary biking, pilates, yoga, and walking 5-6 days a week, 30-60 minutes a day.  My goal is always 6 days a week, but my pregnancy napping (non)schedule sometimes precludes me from getting my exercise in for the day.  However, this book still gave me great information on cross-training and the overall effects of exercise on pregnancy. 
My decision to discontinue running stems from the wish to preserve my joints, and that I was not where I wanted to be fitness-wise when I became pregnant to maintain running the three-miles I had built up to over the course of the summer.  If I had perhaps been able to complete a good five mile run in an average amount of time, then I would feel comfortable doing 2-3 miles at a slow pace while pregnant.  Another goal for another baby, perhaps?   
I have not foregone running altogether, however.  Indeed, I am cross-training throughout this pregnancy so that when I am ready to go back out there to run after the baby is born, I won't be starting from scratch. 

During pregnancy, doctors do not advise losing weight.  Since I am still not at a healthy weight for my height (although I am 7 pounds lighter than I started a while back), my goal is to maintain my weight for as long as possible.  I will gain weight during this pregnancy- anything less than 15 pounds would be very inadvisable- but exercise will keep me on a path that will be allow me to gain the weight necessary in a healthy manner.  My diet has also been mostly good (another post of another day).  So with these combine efforts, my hope is that after the baby is born, with the help of breastfeeding, the excess pounds will just melt away.
Are there any books that you have read that have encouraged you to keep exercising, pregnant or not?  Feel free to post any advice you might have regarding exercise and pregnancy. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

25 weeks left

Well, today officially marks my 15th week of pregnancy.  I had a really easy go of the first trimester.  I was more tired and needed to take a lot more naps, but other than that I can't complain.  Being at 15 weeks is a bit comforting as well, as the risk of miscarriage greatly decreases at your 14th week.  Most people rejoice at getting to 14 weeks because many issues like morning sickness dissipate and life goes back to normal for a while since you probably aren't showing yet either.
I definitely do not look pregnant yet and still am able to do my daily exercise regimen without difficulty, but I would say that week 14 was the toughest so far.  Noah has been teething, which means he sleeps poorly, which means I sleep poorly. 
My allergies have returned.  I haven't had any issues with them since returning to Pittsburgh a couple of years ago, but all of the sudden I am sneezing like crazy.  I can only take certain meds, like Benadryl, which helps to some extent, but not fully and makes me feel groggy.  But things are looking up: Noah woke up twice last night, but then he slept until 10:15 to make up for it!  Also, the pollen count is much lower the next couple of days and boy do can my sinuses tell. 
This also marks the first day of the week in which I have has enough energy to blog...I know you missed me so much. 
Funny story: Yesterday, I was doing my prenatal yoga video during Noah's nap.  There were times I felt so tired that I almost gave up.  But I didn't and persevered to the end.  Only, the last five minutes of the tape included a relaxation time.  Well, I was so enthusiastic about being relaxed that I fell asleep right on the floor.  Yeah, I've got to say that I haven't done that before.
Well, continue to keep me and baby in your prayers.  I have a doctor's appointment next week, so hopefully I will know more then as to the health of the baby.
Have you ever been so tired that you didn't even realize you had fallen asleep in an awkward place/position?