The “F” Word: Fitness Challenge 30 Day Check In

So the challenge started out with a few bumps and setbacks but I am pretty happy with what I have accomplished so far. 

For the month of January I planned record my food and water intake, meet my step goals and get to the gym 5 days a week. It wasn’t a perfect month by a long shot so about a week in I decided that it would be easier to try and increase my gym going to 5 days a week little by little each week (focusing on cardio), get as many steps as possible and record my water intake when I think of it.

Day 1

Week 1 I managed to get to the gym 3 times and just did cardio. I used a new app called Aaptiv and did 1 green cardio workout each time I went to the gym.

Week 2

Week 2 really put me to the rest. Monkey had several specialist appointments so we were very busy to start off with and then I needed to fit in some time for the gym/me. There is a fine balance of how many outings Monkey can take in the run of a week before things gets crazy. I managed to get to the gym 3 times again by making use of weekend nap times. This allowed Michael to study in a silent house while I got to take a little me time. 

Week 3

This last week of the month I managed to get to the gym 4 times. I tried going in the evening after amonkey is in bed and that worked really well. I dint think it will be my regular work out time because I like having the evening to spend with Michael but it is a great way to add in a work out on those days that leaving the house will just not work for Monkey.

 I weighed in at the end of the week and managed to maintain from day 1. That is fine by me because I am making my health a priority and it’s a marathon not a sprint. I have been to the gym more in the last week than October to December combined and that is a win for me. I also have more energy, and sleep much better which is a win for the entire family I think.

As I said earlier in the post I would be focusing on cardio this month and getting into a routine. To assist me in not being bored with the regular pre-programmed work outs on the machines and to motivate me to push a little harder I tried out this new app called Aaptiv.

Aaptiv is an app that provides several cardio and resistance workouts with a trainer for to motivate you. You are able to choose from easy, intermediate or advanced workouts and you are able to filter your search by work out length, intensity and speed so you can quickly make a decision on what you will do next. The app provides a great playlist with each workout that should appeal to most everyone. I know I loved the reggae playlists, they definitely added positive vibes to my day! 

After playing around with with for the month I found the resistance training a little confusing to listen too, but I loved the cardio and will continue to use it in month two to motivate myself to push a little harder every day. 

My goals for February are the same as January. Increase water intake, eat cleaner, go to the gym regularly and I will add a resistance program. To be completely transparent for a year before my wedding I met with a trainer on and off for 3 month periods. I have all those work outs saved in a binder so I will be working on those this month. 

How are your New Years Resolutions coming along? Have you held on or are you making so changes to your goals? Let me know in the comments below!

Baby Basics: Night Nursing, There’s An App For That

While at a Tupperware party a few weeks ago, yes Tupperware parties still exist, I over heard a new again mama talking about how she was working her way through Greys Anatomy for the 3rd or 4th time right now on Netflix. When I heard her say that I immediately thought “You must be still night nursing”.

When Monkey was first in the hospital and jaundice I wasn’t able to hold him so this made it really difficult to pump enough milk to sustain him. While venting my frustrations to his nurse one day she gave me a formula that I continue to use to this day that helps everything go so much smoother. She told me to lay a warm blanket over myself, have lots of water near by and watch or read something that will take your mind off of what you are doing. And low and behold I pumped this much 

Instead of less than the less than a ml I was getting before. 

So much about breastfeeding is in your head that just thinking about something negative can really affect your supply, and when you are in the NICU a lot of your thoughts are negative whether you want them to be or not. If you can get out of that head space and zone out it makes a world of difference.

I had been given the same advice from my friend Isabelle before Monkey was born. She told me to make sure I had a few shows with a lot of seasons ready to go on Netflix because that would get me through the night feeding. 

Because Monkey was in the NICU and most of my pumping was done in hospital  watching Netflix wasn’t an option for me, but scrolling through my Facebook feed was. I spent a lot of time reading all the click baite I scrolled upon. When we finally were all home, I was already in the habit of needing quiet while I nursed, so with a better internet connection at home than at the hospital I was able to branch out to Candy Crush, mostly because it can be played with one hand and you can only play a few rounds before you have to wait for a refill of lives making it a pretty good timer for when Monkey should have been about finished. After getting bored with Candy Crush I moved onto my current rotation reading mommy and lifestyle blogs and playing Two Dots. 

At this point Monkey is a pro at breastfeeding, even after a week off when I was sick he picked it back up like nobody’s business. But that doesn’t mean that I want to sit in the dark for a half hour before every nap, bedtime and 4am feeding with nothing to do so I continue the tradition. 

What I want to know is what is your night nursing guilty pleasure? Let me know in the comments below!

Baby Basics is a once a week post focused on all things baby! We will cover things as light as the toys we are really loving at the moment and outfits that melt your hear to as serious as some medical professionals I found helpful working with. Come back weekly and see what we are up to!

Mommy Moment: Minimalism

Over the last few weeks I have noticed a trend on my Facebook feed. Everyone has been talking about the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and raving about how it had impacted their lives. So naturally I needed to watch this amazing and impactful film.

Last week while Michael was studying for an exam I decided it was a good time to delve into this potential rabbit hole. It documents the authors of “Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life” Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus on a book tour and features others who prescribe to this way of living; and I have to say it has definitely changed the way I think about the things in my life. 

Since university I have been the type to hate clutter. Those tiny dorm rooms and shady apartments really help you get rid of a lot, because they are not only where you sleep but where you socialize. It brought on good habits like always making my bed before leaving the house (even if its just a quick pull the comforter over the messy sheets, sorry Mum), hating random paper clutter, and twice a year purging those things that out in the open that you really don’t like because you don’t want to pack them up or they don’t fit in the back of your tiny coup. But one skill I did not master moving from Halifax to Moncton and back for4 years was the art of letting go of the things that I hold some value but not enough for me to keep and those things that may not be in your face on a daily basis, like those jeans I bought because I had a wicked stomach flu in 2006 and finally fit into a 4, and lets face it, this Mama is not going to be a 4 again, and if she does should she really wear those jeans??? Probably not. 

Moving across the country did not help at all either. I have boxes of things I packed when I moved out here 5 years ago that I have never openned. They have moved from Moncton to Wainwright to Red Deer Condo to Red Deer House #1 to Red Deer House #2. Boxes of things i have no idea what is in them, but I continue to put them in the back of a truck and carry them with me. Why? First off, full disclosure I’m too lazy to go through them to see if they have any value and sadly this continues for many areas of the house and doesn’t help that we doubled our square footage from House #1 to House #2 so the sense of urgency to actually purge through my past is definitely not there. Secondly, I don’t want to get rid of all my stuff. I like the idea of opening a box of memories and reminiscing about the time I wore that sweater, experiencing the way that a particular book smells and feels in my hands can transport me back to my favourite parts and characters. But what this documentary taught me is that minimalism is not all or nothing.

There was one particular moment in movie where Ryan is talking about how he is often approached by people who will say they can appreciate what they are trying to achieve with minimalist living but that they just love their books. They have hundreds of books and just cannot bear to get rid of any of them because they live the smell, feel, and sound of their books and being around them give them so much joy, to which Ryan advised to keep them. Their take on this movement is not about getting rid of everything, only having one plate, bowl, cup per person in your home and live on as little as humanly possible but to live only with the things that add value to your life. If your books enhance your life and and give it meaning keep them, if they don’t then get rid of the because they are adding stress and taking the focus away from the things that matter in your life. This particular statement resonated with me, I am that person with boxes of books in my home, at my parents, and randomly lent across the country. I don’t own a e-reader because reading off a screen just doesn’t do it for me in the same way a book does, I love a book that has weight, pages are hopefully yellowed, and its old enough to have that musky library smell. That alone gives the book the perfect setting for my imagination to live for a very long time. I dream of the day that we have a home with a library nook with a huge oversized chair, warm blankets, a side table for my tea and built in bookshelves that go floor to ceiling where I can escape to alone or with my children to worlds unknown. So getting rid of my books is out of the question, and being told that, that’s ok made me reseptive to the over all message they were sending. 

Sorting through the physical clutter according to Joshua and Ryan, will help you sort through the metal clutter and allow you to live a more meaningful life. This aligns perfectly with what I hope to accomplish now in life. I don’t want to worry about the fluff, I want to care about the important things like my family. I am a hard core quality time person and would give anything to spend more time with the people I care about in a meaningful way, so if organizing my things and donating the things of less value to me to those who can use it will give me that I’m down.

Because I will be heading back to work soon and I probably fit in very little of my work clothes I think I will start with sorting out my closet and dresser. Keep what I love, donate what I can’t use and throw away what is useless to anyone. I would love to start a capsule wardrobe for my work clothes in March so this would be a great way to purge through the fluff and know what staples I already have. Maybe if I’m not sorting through my clothes for 20 minutes every morning I will get a few extra minutes with Monkey before heading out the door. One could only hope. 

I challenge you, my readers to come along with me, take the plunge and watch the documentary. You know know your Facebook feed is begging you to right? And then tell me in the comments bellow what is something you could declutter in your life? What would you do with that extra space in your mind? And don’t forget to follow me Instagram (@the_mcgills2015) to watch the purging unfold.

Mommy Moment is a weekly post that covers my thoughts, feelings and experiences as a mom. Come by every Monday to read about what it’s like to be a once career focused mom of a premature baby, who sometimes solo parents, loves cloth diapering and often bites of more than she can chew.

The “F” Word: Vino in my Viens

One of the exciting things about Monkey eating solids is I can finally sit down at the end of an evening every now and then with a glass of wine. Now this may not sound like so much of a big deal to some of you but for me, it’s pretty exciting. 

I will never forget the first time we went out for dinner after we found out we were expecting. We traveled to Banff for the weekend to go to The Grizzly House to take our announcement picture. 

When the waiter came by to ask what we wanted for drinks I had no idea what to order, and felt like a 10 year old ordering just water. This is where my love of San Pallegrino began, but that is a story for another day. Today we are talking about wine and all the exciting places Michael and I have enjoyed it throughout the years, because let’s face it we have had some fun wine adventures over the years. We even planned our honeymoon around it!

One of our first wine adventures was our second summer together. Michael and I went camping in Jasper on the Canada Day long weekend on our way to Kelowna. We paid more for one bottle of wine than we did for our camping space! Needless to say I like my wine European.

Jasper National Park, July 2013

Our next wine adventure actually started with some wine while binge watching and clearing the PVR. The weekend after getting home from our Kelowna adventure we  were watching the first episode of the Amazing Race Canada and the final pit stop was at the Quails Gate Vineyard in Kelowna. When they panned over the vineyard I looked at Michael and said “We need to go there!”, and two months later we did. 

Winery Tour in Kelowna September, 2013

A funny story to go along with that trip is that Michael and I were supposed to get engaged that weekend. We had just come home from a long vacation in New Brunswick and the US and had decided it would be nice to end our summer adventure in the mountains with some wine or so I thought. Michael had been planning since that Amazing Race comment to propose there in the fall. But the jewellers had another plan because my ring was not ready until we got back so his plans had to change a little. 

Now fast forward to 2015, when Michael and I decided to plan our honeymoon we wanted to go where the wine, cheese and bread was free flowing and amazing. Naturally we went to Italy, where we could enjoy a glass for lunch, dinner and anytime in between. 

In the streets of Florence

During this amazing month long trip around the Mediterranean we really adopted the lifestyle of a glass of wine at a meal can really complement to food and enhance the experience. We visited ancient wine cellars that stored some of our favourite wines​

at dinner in Venice
And at every sunset in Santorini

So naturally now that we are home and a year and a half later we celebrate the big thing like our first wedding

And the small things, like home made pizza on a Friday night

With a little wine.

How do you celebrate the big and little moments? Let me know in the comments. 

Baby Basics: Bedtime Bath Lotion

I have been using this magical lotion every night since Monkey came home from the hospital, and I have to say when he is having a bed night I can see a difference after a little massage with this yummy smelling lotion. It is a homemade lotion made of coconut oils and some essential oils I always keep on hand. 

I mix one cup of  softened coconut oil with 20 drops Gentle Baby Essential Oil and 10-15 drops Lavender Essential Oil. Then I pour it into a jar and use it nightly after Monkey’s bath. It is moisturizing, Monkey had never had a dry patch of skin, and we live in what feels like the driest part of the country this time of year! 

The best part is that because it is coconut oil based its cloth diaper safe so you can moisturize baby from head to toe with one lotion… which is amazing when you see how many bottles of lotions, bubble bath, shampoo, vitamins etc that can pile up in your bathroom once baby comes along.

Baby Basics is a once a week post focused on all things baby! We will cover things as light as the toys we are really loving at the moment and outfits that melt your hear to as serious as some medical professionals I found helpful working with. Come back weekly and see what we are up to!

Mommy Moment: Nap Time for Mommy

I remember one Saturday a few weeks before Monkey was born vegging out on the couch in my pyjamas all day, eating candy and watching Netflix thinking “It’s going to be a long time before I can do this again”. I was quickly reassured not to worry that, that is exactly how my next year would look like snuggling with my Monkey on the couch and vegging out during nap times. Well this was the one thing that I was actually very right about when it came to parenting. 

With all the appointments and therapy that needed to be done during the day, and only getting on a sleep schedule at 8 months old there was very little time for hanging out one couch. Now that I am so used of cramming in all my to do’s while Monkey is sleeping my nap times look more like this:

Now that I am feeling better I am trying to make it a bigger priority to rest for at least one of Monkey’s nap time a day so that my life includes a little more Netflix and a little less “Nettoyage”. 

To all the mommies out there take time from the start for yourself each nap time so you don’t have to start training yourself to sit down every once in a while like I have to.

Mommy Moment is a weekly post that covers my thoughts, feelings and experiences as a mom. Come by every Monday to read about what it’s like to be a once career focused mom of a premature baby, who sometimes solo parents, loves cloth diapering and often bites of more than she can chew.

The “F” Word: Food For Thought

Last night I made something that was AMAZING!!! It was so amazing I wasn’t planning on writing about it so I didn’t take any pictures.

In our home I try and make at least 2 vegetarian meals a week. This week I managed to squeeze in 3! While perusing Pinterest last week this picture caught my eye: 
Photo Credit

And it was as yummy as the picture implies if not more so! Monkey loved it even though I used Siracha in the sauce. This one will be a repeat in my repertoire for sure! 
Get the recipe here

Once Monkey went to bed I decided to make these:


Because life is about balance right? 😜

The “F” Word is a weekly post about all the fun things. On Fridays we will talk about food, fashion, family, friends, faith, fitness and other f words that make life a little brighter.

Mommy Moment: Getting Some Zzz’s

When Monkey first came home we were so worried about sleep, not so much about our lack of sleep, but about whether or not he had enough sleep, would he wake himself to feed, would he stop breathing… and all the other things you think when you are suddenly entrusted with a life. In the beginning (except for the first night) Monkey was an amazing sleeper. He slept great in his pack and play in our room, he transitioned flawlessly to his crib, and as of the night of his 4 month immunizations he slept through the night 12-13 hours! Those first few nights I thought there was something wrong with him he was so good at sleeping through the night.

At 6 months Monkey had another litany of doctors and public health appointments, I think that week he had at least one appointment every day. At each of the appointments I was asked how he slept. I said “I think he is doing really well with night sleep, but he doesn’t nap… like AT ALL”. When I explained that he went down at 7pm and would wake between 7am and 8am most days I was told that, that was great and not to worry about him not napping. Which sounded reasonable, everything I had read so far talked about how babies his age needed about 15 hours of sleep a day, which if you included sleeping in the car and stroller was pretty darn close. But what these articles and professionals fail to notice is that MOMMY NEEDS A NAP! 

The majority of Monkey’s first 8 months Michael was working out of town on a 2 weeks away 1 week home rotation, which meant that I would be solo parenting as I like to call it. This was unbelievably difficult, especially around month 6-7 when Monkey went through a week where he refused to sleep unless he was held or we co-slept. A night or two like that with no one to hand off to in the day time for an hour or so just to catch up was a struggle. I was so exhausted, and there was very little I could do to remedy the situation, I didn’t sleep soundly when co-sleeping, and if I didn’t do that he just screamed. 

Thankfully I have a mommy friend, Deanna who’s little went through many of the same struggles as Monkey so she understand very well where I am coming from. After a visit to the park with the kids and explaining what Monkey’s sleep schedule looked like she recommended an occupational therapist who had helped her with sleep training. This was probably the best piece of parenting advice I have been given so far. 

I got in contact with the therapist but was hesitant because Monkey has an amazing strong will, and neither Michael nor I was open to cry it out. Thankfully we had learned how to stand our ground with what we thought was best while he was in the NICU, because cry it out is the fastest and most readily prescribed method of training.During our initial consult we were shown 4 methods of sleep training and decided to go with the “pick up put down” method as it was the softest approach with the least amount of crying. What I can tell you is that this method is HARD, but it was so worth the effort. 

It took about 10 days for Monkey to really get what was going on and that he would be sleeping in his crib but once he got it things have been amazing! He has continued to sleep for 12 hours a night, and then two naps during the day about 90 minutes to 2 hours a peice. At first I really missed him during his naps because I was so used of playing with him all day, but as time went on I got used to the nap schedule and it has made a world of difference. We have only been on the routine for about a month now and I can tell you I get so much more done, I actually eat 3 meals a day again and I am energized when he wakes up because I either napped or watched a little trashy tv to relax. Not only did I feel better Monkey imidiatly became in amazing eater and his skills started to develop so quickly. Everyone always said that he’s so happy, and now he just glows.

After such a positive experience with sleep training and having been given such awesome advice I need to pass this along to any parents and parents to be out there. If you are expecting, read as many sleep training books as you can now so you can have an idea about what you are comfortable with. You may not know you have a problem sleeper until you are too exhausted to read anything. If your little is new and sleeping great, take some time to do some research about routines. 

You always hear about the horrors of babies screaming all night when they first come home from the hospital but from our experience except for that first night new born sleep is great. It falls in 3 hour cycles and they love sleep. It’s when they get a little older and decide that they would rather be with you playing and snuggling or have developed a sleep crutch that you could notice that bedtime is not such an easy thing. And if you were like us and find yourself too exhausted to read the research, talk to your family doctor or paediatrician and they will be able to connect you with resources in your area that will help you. And don’t feel like you have to choose the first method that is suggested, there are so many sleep training theories out there because there are so many different families and they have all worked for some of them. Some are more work than others, but choose what’s right for you and baby. Trust me you will be forever thankful.

The things I have noticed about myself with this change is that I am more relaxed, and confident. I know that if he has one bad sleep we can always make it up with he next one. I know that if we sleep in or have a special event that comes up how to adjust his naps, and which naps NEVER to adjust. I know that I will get the sleep I need or at least a power nap to get me to bedtime if needed and that Monkey will be in a better mood because of it. I am able to read books again, that was something I naively looked forward to when I was pregnant… I even considered starting my Masters because I would have so much time LOL!!! Oh if pre-mommy me only knew the truth. I can cook healthy meals from scratch again and I can relax and take a shower without having to peek around the shower curtain to make sure Monkey was still ok and not crying. 

I will say it again, sleep training has been a blessing, and I am forever thankful to Deanna for having the courage to point out that I might need a little support. As a side note, if for nothing else sleep training allows for so many more pictures like these:

(He always sleeps with at least 1 leg in the air!)

Mommy Moment is a weekly post that covers my thoughts, feelings and experiences as a mom. Come by every Monday to read about what it’s like to be a once career focused mom of a premature baby, who sometimes solo parents, loves cloth diapering and often bites of more than she can chew.

The “F” Word: Fearless

So this weeks F-word is a little heavier than I would normally post, but I like I had mentioned in Mommy Moment and Baby Basics this weeks I was seriously ill these past few weeks and it brought me to a realization that I need to make some changes. I was inspired by a fellow blogger The East Coast Mermaid who wrote about how her health scare inspired her to take an honest look at what she has been doing and oddly enough I am in a very similar boat. 

On December 29, 2016 I was diagnosed… came down with… I don’t really know how to phrase it with shingles, a diagnosis mostly for those over 60; you can’t even get the vaccine unless you are at least 50. So needless to say when I went to the doctor about a patch of what I thought was a resurgence of teenage acne I was shocked to discover it was shingles and that I should have come in earlier because it was very close to my right eye and there was a risk of vision loss. It was recommended that I not allow Monkey near my face and I could not breastfeed under any circumstances due the medication I was on. So not only was I fearful for what may come between now and when these powerful drugs kicked in hard enough to stop the virus but I also worried about what my sweet baby was going through as he isn’t old enough to uderstand that Mommy is sick and that’s why she cannot play with you like she usually does. Thankfully with the help and support of my husband I was able to spend the majority of the time in bed, sleeping and allowing the medication to work to its fullest, and stopped the virus from spreading to my eye and only went as far as my eye lid. My doctor said that I should make a full recovery but advised that stress management is what will help it from returning. 

While this allowed for Monkey and Michael to really bond over the last week it also allowed me to think about myself and what needs to change so I can be the best version of myself. Reading blogs and watching vlogs of people I have followed for years to pass the time it got me thinking about what draws me to them, and what makes me come back. What do I admire about these people that makes me take time from my busy day to check in, and the thread that I discovered was they are all really honest. They lay it out there good, bad, ugly and don’t worry about what the world says about them, and when it does get to them they address it. And this is what I intend to do from this point forward.

I have always struggled with social anxiety, I never know quite what to say and when I do I always question how I said it. I often prefer to stand off to the side and people watch when there is more than just one or two others in a space and regularly worry about the impressions I make. This was exacerbated when I became a mother, especially one who had multiple appointments a week with professionals in and out of the home assessing Monkey’s development and how I was doing as moving him along towards his milestones. The anxiety I would have about someone coming over without enough time to clean the house top to bottom was overwhelming and with all the well wishers coming around to see him only made the stress worse. I laid all this stress on myself to be the best, to provide the best stimulation for my son, to provide him with the best food, to ensure he lived in the cleanest home; and because of that I wasn’t being honest. I was putting on the face that it was easy and that it was doable for the long term, but it isn’t, because all that anxiety and expectations culminated into this strange diagnosis. And for that I am sorry, because my friends and family got the worst instead of the best of me because it was more important to me to show that I could do everything than it was for me to exist as myself and enjoy those around me.

From this point forward I will be the best mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend I can be, but that might mean I didn’t vacuum or do the dishes today, and that if you stop by you will have to be ok with that, because I went to the gym, played with my son, and I’m partaking in great conversation with you instead. I am going to take more time for self care because a sick Mommy is no good to a growing Monkey. I will continue to organize my life in lists because it makes me happy but I will ask for help in completing them so the weight doesn’t fall all on my shoulders. And lastly this year I will take on the word FEARLESS, not because I wont ever be scared, anxious or worried about things but because I wont let that anxiety overwhelm me to the point I am not honest about where I am at and who I am. And for those who decide that the honest me is not who they are interested in caring for, then I will let them go without worry of what I should have done or been differently to maintain that, because I have two very special people right here beside me who see and know the honest me, and love me anyway.

I hope that by talking about this and setting these goals I can inspire others to take a step back and love themselves a little more so that they can make the changes they need to make their lives a little brighter. This is a difficult lesson to learn but one I am sure I will be forever thankful for, and I hope you join me on this journey to self discovery with a sometimes messy kitchen.

The “F” Word is a weekly post about all the fun things. On Fridays we will talk about food, fashion, family, friends, faith, fitness and other f words that make life a little brighter.

Baby Basics: Partner in Crime

I need to say that the best part of being as sick as I have been and stuck in my room under quarantine is listening to this:

One of the most impotant things about parenting is not doing it alone, and I know I found a good partner in crime when I hear so much laughter all day long. Even when caring for a sick Monkey who was not as into naps as he usually is. 

Baby Basics is a once a week post focused on all things baby! We will cover things as light as the toys we are really loving at the moment and outfits that melt your hear to as serious as some medical professionals I found helpful working with. Come back weekly and see what we are up to!