Incorporate Exercise Into Your Daily Routine

We all know how important exercise is. When you exercise on a regular basis your health starts to improve.  Your heart gets stronger, your circulation gets better, your condition strengthens, you feel better and look better.

If you haven’t exercised in a while finding the motivation and time to start is always a struggle. Since I became a stay-home-mom ten months ago, I find it very challenging to find time to do exercise. My baby asks for a lot of attention and as soon as I get some time off, I rather cook, rest, read, write. Anything but working out. But, I want to change this. I remember from my times when I did exercise on a regular basis how satisfied and full of energy I felt. Exercising to me is a way of nourishing my body. Is a way to disconnect and release stress. To be honest, I don’t have the motivation to go to a gym. But I do have space in my house and a computer to watch fitness videos. The goal for this week is to make space on two days to work out for 20 minutes. If you have a gym membership, use this week’s focus to finally go back to it. Leave the shame behind and just do it. And if you don’t have the time or money to go to the gym, make the time for two days of this week to work out from home. After this goal is achieved let’s add exercise to our weekly routine.

Hopefully, you will join me on this week’s focus. If so, let’s connect on Instagram and exchange tips on how to find the motivation to start exercising.

 “You have to exercise, or at some point you’ll just break down.” Barack Obama

Exercise is good for your health

Exercising at home tips
Fitness Blender website
HIIT workout for people who get bored easily (25 min)
HIIT cardio workout (23 min)
No equipment lower body workout (20 min)
Cardio workout (24 min)
Cardio Abs workout (26 min)

How I Survived The First Weeks Postpartum

For nine months, I was preparing myself for the big day of giving birth. I went to pregnancy centering, took breathing technique lessons and read about hypnobirthing. One thing I was not prepared for: the postpartum time. I guess I was too relax because in The Netherlands, through your health insurance, you will get a maternity nurse. She will help you the first days after giving birth. The one I got was very kind and helpful. She taught us a lot in terms of how to take care of the baby. Besides checking the health of the baby, she was also checking my health and my recovery process.

Apart from the help of the nurse, here are some things that helped me to have a gentle ease into motherhood:

1. Let your partner take the first two weeks off (or longer).
You probably heard it before, every labor is different. But there is one thing ALL labors have in common. You end up feeling tired, weak and exhausted. On top of that, because of the episiotomy I got during my labor (Ouch!), It took me weeks to be able to stand, walk and sit again. Making me feel a little bit handicapped. Which means, my partner was full-time helping me. Our routine was like this: when the baby woke up, my partner would wake up too, take the baby and bring her to my side. I would breastfeed her on one breast. Then my partner would take her again, change her diaper and give her back to me to breastfeed her on the other breast. When she was done, he would put her back in to her crib. We worked like this until one and a half weeks. After that, I was feeling stronger and was able to walk and grab the baby myself. My partner was still helping me a lot during the first four weeks.

2. Rent/lend a double pump.
While I was pregnant, I decided that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed my baby. I was lucky that she latched well since the beginning. I was only having trouble with my milk supply. Around five days postpartum, I rented a double pump and under the advice of a lactation expert, I was pumping every three to four hours to stimulate my milk production. The double pump was great because it saved me a lot of time. After two days of intense pumping, my milk supply was increasing and I went back to live feeding my baby. After that, I kept a single pump that I still use to extract milk when I want to have some time off from live feeding.

3. Wear sanitary pads and comfy undies made of cotton.
Right after birth, the bleeding starts and it seems to have no end. During the first days post-partum, I was using pads made of organic cotton and zero plastic. For me, it was the best due to the episiotomy. The stitches felt very painful. The cotton pads helped with the air circulation down there, so the healing process was going well. I was lucky I didn’t get any infection. After a couple of weeks of bleeding, when I realized that it was not going to stop soon, I bought washable sanitary pads. They are very soft and easy to use and wash. I liked them because the blood doesn’t stink as much as with disposable pads. Through the whole time (and still now) I wear organic cotton underwear from Organic Basics.

4. Have family close to you.

I considered myself lucky. Five days after my baby was born my mom came all the way from Colombia to The Netherlands. She stayed with us for two months. Her help was amazing. She not only took care of my baby, she also cared for me and my partner. The first weeks post-partum are very intense and I was in a lot of pain. My mother would help me to take care of my baby so that I could rest. This really helped me to heal and feel better within weeks.

5. Eat healthy, every meal.
Due to the help of my mother I was able to eat healthy in the morning, at lunch and for dinner. I was also having a lot of snacks due to the breastfeeding hunger. The days before my mother was with us, we had someone of my partner’s family cooking for us. Every day someone else. They cooked bigger portions so that my partner and I could eat the leftovers the next day for lunch.

6. Shower every day.
This point seems obvious but I have to mention it because this really helped me to feel good. As soon as the baby went to sleep I would walk to the shower and have a moment for myself. After that, I felt like a person again instead of a living zombie.

7. Wear comfortable clothes.
For me, comfort was more important than anything else. During the first weeks, I mostly wore leggings, big comfy sweaters, and socks. The first week was very painful. The comfy clothes helped me to feel a little bit better.

8. Have as less visit as possible.
This might sound anti-social but I was glad we didn’t get any visit except for close family during the first weeks. My baby was having a routine every three hours. First, change the diaper, then feed her, then she would go to sleep and in two hours it would start again. My partner and I were full-time busy with our baby. Every hour we could get ‘off’ we would rather rest. Of course, grandma, grandad, aunts, and uncle were welcome but no one else. This was really relaxed for us. After a month when I was feeling better and able to walk and sit, we started having more people around.

9. Stayed away from social media.
The first four weeks after birth, I didn’t check any of my social media channels. While I was very happy that everything went ok, I was also very tired and exhausted. I consciously didn’t want to be on social media seeing how amazing everyone’s lives where, while I was in pain and feeling handicapped, laying on my bed. This ‘digital detox’ helped me to focus on my baby and live in the present.

Giving birth was the most bizarre experience of my life. All of a sudden there was a tiny new person with us and all we wanted to do was taking care of her.
The days after giving birth were very painful to me. I felt muscle pain everywhere, I had pain in the stitches, pain in my breasts and felt very uncomfortable on my back door. I have to admit that due to the pain, I felt that I wasn’t able to enjoy my baby the first days. But I had the best of the supports. My partner and my mother (and the kraamzoorg). They made the first days easy for me. As soon as I was able to walk and bend over to grab my baby, I started to enjoy more of this rollercoaster of having a newborn.

Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography

I hope these tips help you to have an easy start to motherhood.
Are there any tips I am missing? Let me know in the comments below.

With Love,

Alisson

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13 THINGS I DIDN’T EXPECT WHILE EXPECTING

As you might know, I was unexpectedly pregnant and not busy at all with anything that has to do with the topic. The information I had about pregnancy came from movies, series and some women who shared their experience with me. I thought I knew what to expect: tiredness, vomiting and feeling nausea. I survived the first 27 weeks and realized that there were many things I didn’t know. Every single woman has different experiences but here are a few of the things I’ve learned from my own pregnancy.

It took me some time to accept this pregnancy and to go through my first weeks. Forget everything you have seen in movies. This is how it really feels:

1. The pregnancy test is positive, let’s call the doctor!
Wrong! I live in The Netherlands, where pregnancy is followed by midwives. The chances that you will see a doctor are very little. The first thing you have to do when a pregnancy test is positive is to call your midwife. Don’t feel surprised when you get your next appointment in at least four more weeks! They will first want to see you when you are 8+ weeks pregnant. And remember: you are pregnant from the first day of your last period. Make sure you have your agenda with you when you do the phone call.

2. If everything is alright, you will only have one sonogram per trimester.
If you are as naive as me and think you will get a sonogram every month, you are wrong. If everything is ok you will only get one per trimester plus the one at 8 weeks. In total, you will have one sonogram at 8 weeks, at 20 weeks, at 30+ and one close to the due date to see if the baby is positioned well.

3. Your belly is not growing but your hips and butt are.
Say goodbye to your normal jeans and say hello to: leggings? Well yes. You will be too big for your normal clothes, but too thin for maternity clothes. Much of the first trimester is a strange experience. You know that you are pregnant, but you don’t feel pregnant.

4. From one day to the other you will turn into a dog
Oh, all those smells you didn’t mind before, you do mind now. A lot. I couldn’t stand the smell of onion, red bell pepper, my kitchen, my bathroom, dirty clothes, the sink…

5. Morning sickness or better yet all-day-sickness
From the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep you might feel nausea and disgusted by food. I couldn’t eat anything until 4-5 pm. Besides dry crackers, everything else made me want to throw up. This feeling started to disappear from the 14th week on.

6. You will forget what it’s like to eat normal food again
Crazy cravings are something inevitable. But for me, rather than cravings, I got into a fight with some ingredients. I couldn’t see or smell onions, leeks, red bell pepper or spinach. As a vegan, it was hard sometimes to cook without those ingredients. Luckily my partner did all the cooking because I felt too nauseated to cook.

7. Your breasts will get bigger
Or not, like mine. My boobs haven’t got any bigger and there’s a big chance that it’s going to stay that way. For my mother, it was the same, but she was still able to breastfeed three beautiful daughters. It’s really true that not all women are the same.

8. The pregnancy glow
Before looking pretty and radiant you might look ugly and tired. During the first 20 weeks of pregnancy my skin started to change, I had more freckles than before, my scalp began to get dry and my hair began to fall off, which gave me empty spots in my scalp. Luckily now, after 27 weeks all those things disappeared. I wouldn’t consider that I glow, but I don’t have those symptoms which made me feel “ugly” anymore.

9. The tiredness is real
Your new bestie is your bed. You will spend the whole day dreaming about when you will get to lie your head on your pillow again. Some days I could sleep all day, wake up to eat and go back and rest again. You will feel bad – when your husband has been neglected. You get over it quickly and then get kind of mad that he doesn’t have to feel like a big piece of poop like you. Totally unfair. This feeling of being tired all the time disappeared when I was around week 14. Slowly it started to come back at week 16 and it keeps on during my pregnancy so far.

10. Sleep on your belly while you still can
From week 20+ it starts to get challenging to sleep. You can only sleep on your right side, and you will constantly wake up to go to the bathroom. By week 25 it gets really difficult for me to sleep comfortably without waking up in the middle of the night to find a comfortable position. On my right side I get heartburn and on my back, I can’t breath good. The only side I can sleep on is the right one. Just the one side I was not used to.

11. Say goodbye to the morning sickness, say hello to more discomfort
As soon as you start to feel better about the morning sickness, other discomforts may appear. For me, I felt good for about one week and then some pains started to come up. The body is constantly changing and adjusting to the new life you are creating. For me, it started with heavy migraines. From one day to the other I had a very bad headache that turned into a migraine. It lasted two days and went away. Then a lower back pain and pelvic pain followed. Some days it was heavier than others. It lasted a couple of weeks but it eventually went away. Suddenly I started having heartburn. That is a burning sensation in your chest after you eat. It’s caused by the hormonal and physical changes that happen in your body. This symptom disappeared after a couple of times. Since the beginning of the pregnancy I was having bladder control problems, but since week 24 it got worse. I might need to do some pelvic exercises to get back my control. Since my body is making extra blood from week 20, I started to have heart palpitations. This extra blood results in a heart rate that’s about 25 percent faster than usual. This feels like your heart is beating extremely fast. Heart palpitations can be normal and nonharmful during pregnancy. When I feel it, I have to sit down, breath and wait for it to pass. The latest discomforts I have are leg cramps, thanks to my growing belly and the pressure from my growing uterus. All these discomforts are for a good cause. But we are still allowed to joke about it right?

12. From one day to the other your belly will grow
I spend the first 5 months waiting for the belly to start showing. Sometimes it got a little bit awkward because people started wondering if I was really pregnant. When someone asked how the baby was doing, I felt insecure because the belly was still small. As if something was wrong with the baby. Suddenly between week 24 and 25, my belly started to show. But it wasn’t until week 27 that you could really see the belly very well. Some women have big bellies, some small, but the size has nothing to do with the health of the baby. This was my mantra to avoid feeling bad when someone had a negative comment on my small bump.

13. You will question everything
The voice in your head can make you crazy. Suddenly from the second semester on, I developed a little voice in my head, suggesting that I was doing everything wrong and probably was killing my baby. You start questioning everything you do, from the way you sleep to what you eat and so on. I am a little bit controlling so maybe this symptom was bound to be worse for me. My Google searches showed me that it’s clear that many women are asking the same questions: “Is it okay to do this? Is it bad to drink that?”. The best thing to do is to let go and trust that everything is alright. Because most of the times, EVERYTHING IS ALRIGHT.

 

Being pregnant is a miracle. The female body is a miracle. To be able to grow a life inside is almost surreal. Even though being pregnant has been tiring for me,  I try to celebrate the good things and not to focus on these annoying symptoms. So, my dear fellow pregnant friends, let’s all relax and enjoy this moment. (I’m saying this now because I had a good night of sleep. Tomorrow I might feel annoyed by my own advice).

With love,

Alisson

 

More pregnancy topics:
Flying while pregnant tips
Perfect outfit for a growing belly
Unexpectedly expecting

 


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How To Survive A Long Flight While Pregnant

Flying while pregnant might feel a little bit scary. Some women have to travel for business, some other for pleasure. In my case, I wanted to travel to my hometown in Colombia to visit my family and spend Christmas together. I am currently living in The Netherlands and had to take an intercontinental flight to visit my family. Luckily I was well prepared and now I want to share my tips with you.

1. Get a pregnancy statement from your midwife or doctor.
Most of the airlines will allow you to fly up to week 34 of the pregnancy. Before that time you will need a recent pregnancy statement with information about the due date and any complication. Regulations differ from one airline to the other, always check before you travel. Two days before the flight, I went to my midwife and had a regular control. There I got the pregnancy statement free of charge. I am currently at the end of my second trimester of pregnancy, which is the best time to travel. I was 26 weeks on the day of my flight.

2. Wear comfortable clothes.
The best thing to do is to wear separate pieces of clothes. Forget about jumpsuits and overalls. Wear instead leggings and a big sweater, or a dress. You will be going to the bathroom more often and you need easy clothes to make the process less annoying. Bring some extra clothes in your carry on bag for when it get’s cold in the airplane. During my trip, I wore a legging with a big sweater. Under the sweater, I wore a spaghetti top. As extra layer, I had a basic long shirt for the cold and a thin blouse for when we arrived. We flew from Madrid to Bogota and the difference in temperature was very big.

3. Wear long socks.
Long socks help you against swelling and aching legs. Best is if the socks are a little bit tight, to keep the blood flowing. During the flight, I only wore one pair of socks, but I had an extra pair of thick socks just in case it got cold.

4. Wear easy to take off shoes.
Comfortable shoes are a must. The best is if the shoes have no laces but expandable elastic panels. It is very common for the feet to swell. Elastic shoes makes it comfortable for you to survive the pit stops to the toilet. Every time I went to the toilet I put my shoes on and when I came back I left them under my seat. If you don´t have this type of shoes, you can wear your regular shoes but bring a pair of slippers to wear around the cabin.

5. Choose a seat in the aisle.
Since you will be standing up more often than normal, it´s better to have a seat in the aisle. For me, it didn´t matter much because I was sitting next to my husband and he didn’t mind standing up every time I needed to go out. It helped him to do some stretching. But if you are travelling alone, it’s better to sit in the aisle. I personally don’t like to sit close to the bathrooms because of the smell. Since the pregnancy, I have turned into a dog. I can smell everything very well. This time I chose a chair far from the toilet. That way I was able to walk a little bit and do some stretching.

6. Walk and stretch frequently.
It is important to walk and stretch in the cabin every one to two hours. Even if you don’t need to go to the bathroom, you should get up or do some stretching while sitting. Sitting for long periods of time can make your feet and ankles swell and your legs cramp. Take off your shoes and elevate your legs by resting your feet on your bag under the seat in front of you. If the seat next to you is empty, put your feet up on it. Pregnancy makes you more susceptible to thrombosis and varicose veins. It’s important to keep your blood circulating. When you are walking make sure you sit down as soon as there’s a whiff of air turbulence and while sited always keep your seat belt fastened under your belly and low on your hips.

7. Drink plenty of water.
The air of the cabin is dry, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated and drink as much as possible: only water. Try to avoid coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks.

8. Bring enough snacks for the flight.
Pregnancy can make you more hungry than you were before. During a long flight, you will get enough food, but in my experience, it’s not enough for pregnant women. The same morning of the flight, I stopped at the supermarket in the airport of Amsterdam and bought snacks for the flight. Remember that you can’t bring any liquid. Choose solid foods like nuts, wraps, sandwiches, cake, and bread. You can store the food in your carry on bag and have it always with you.

9. Spend the night before in a hotel.
If your flight is early in the morning and you need to be at the airport before dawn, the best is to spend the night in a hotel close by the airport (unless you have someone to bring you at that time). This was my first time to spend the night before in a hotel, and I found it very relaxed. I was able to sleep  longer than if I would have slept at home. The hotel offered us a ride to the airport that only took 10 minutes. I felt good to starting the long trip in a relaxed way.

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Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight! I hope these tips help you to have a smooth flight while being pregnant. Do you have any tips? Let me know in the comments below.

With Love,

Alisson

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Easy Things I Did To Reduce Plastic Waste

Last month I joined the most challenging diet that I have ever tried: A Plastic Diet. The goal was to reduce single-use plastics during 30 days. This diet made me realized the amount of plastic we use in our everyday life. Plastic is a big problem to the environment, it ends up in landfills, is regularly eaten by numerous marine and land animals, to fatal consequences. It does not biodegrade. Ever. It just sits and accumulates in landfills and in the oceans forever.
It might be difficult to stop using plastic from one day to the other, but little by little it is possible.  Here are some plastic products that I stopped buying:

1. Plastic bags
Even though I have reusable bags at home, occasionally if I forgot a bag, I would accept one when I go to a shop. Now I am more aware of this so I always leave one reusable bag in a pocket of my purse so I always have one with me.

2. Plastic bottles
I have a reusable glass bottle that I take with me everywhere. It is more delicate than a plastic one, but I haven’t found any inconvenience yet. I even find it easy to clean and I like that the bottle doesn’t get a bad smell like plastic bottles do. When I happen to forget my bottle and I have to go to the supermarket, I discovered that there are some juices that come in a glass bottle. I opt to buy those instead of a drink that comes in a plastic bottle. Also when I go out to eat or to the movies, I only take drinks that come in glass bottles. 

3. Plastic straws
I stopped buying straws a long time ago, but this one was hard for me when going out for dinner or lunch. I constantly kept on forgetting to asks drinks without a straw. I guess it happened so much that now I learned from it and it´s becoming part of my “ordering food” routine to add “Can I please have my drink without a straw – Thank You!”.

4. Plastic toothbrush
I made this switch a couple of months ago and I´m happy to see bamboo toothbrushes becoming trendy. I bought mine at the “Natur Winkel” in Amersfoort, but you can also get one at Waar, Eko Plaza, Holland & Barret and at Blur.

5. Bread in plastic
Some supermarkets have paper bags where you can put the bread. Otherwise, you can get a cotton bag and bring it with you when you go grocery shopping. There are some unpacked loafs of bread that you can put in your cotton bag. I ordered mine here.

6. Fruits and vegetables in plastic
In mostly all supermarkets you can find some fruits and vegetables without plastic. The ones that you can not find without plastic, you can find at the fruits and vegetable shop. Here in The Netherlands I go to the Fruit Company and bring my own reusable bags. Most of their products are plastic-free.

7. Rice, pasta and dried food in plastic
When you to the supermarket, look for the products you want in a carton box. Most of the supermarkets have options without plastic. The products you can not find plastic-free, try then going to the closest bulk shop. I go to De Nieuwe Graanschuur.

During the past month, I became more aware of plastic, it is really everywhere. The list above is just some little things I started changing and my goal is to reduce every month a little bit more my usage of plastic. The past month I also had some plastic waste that I couldn’t avoid. I like to eat corn, quinoa and rice waffles, and these are hard to find in a paper package. Also occasionally I bought chips and candy and they only come in plastic. I also ordered food once, and got only plastic. In these situations, I felt a little bit bad, but I also realized that I am starting a process and I need more time and experience to have a plastic-free lifestyle. See the reasons why I wanted to start this diet here.

I hope you get inspired to and see how easy it is to make some little changes that have a big impact on our environment.

Interesting documentaries to watch about these topics:
A Plastic Ocean – Watch on Netflix
Plasticized – Watch Here
Garbage Island: An Ocean of Plastic – Watch Here
Chasing Coral – Watch on Netflix

With Love,
Alisson

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VEGAN STARTER TIPS

Today I´m celebrating 5 months of been vegan! Wuhuu and I couldn’t feel happier about it. As you might know, I have been conscious about fashion and support second-hand and ethical brands since a long time. Funny enough, I was never conscious of what I eat. Coming from Colombia, a land where if you don´t eat meat you get chicken, I grew up thinking that I needed to eat meet at least once per day

I started to get more awareness about the veil industry and the consequences to the environment when I watched the documentary of Leonardo Di Caprio “Before the flood”. I was in the mood for more documentaries about it and that´s when I watched Cowspiracy. After that, literaly from one day to the other I started my vegan journey. I still have a lot to learn, but after 5 months I feel confident to give my top 6 starters tips.

1. Clean up your shelves and fridge
Once you made the decision of start eating vegan, make sure that your house is vegan proof. Go through your shelves and fridge and put aside the nonvegan food you still have. You can then decide whether to finish it up or give it to your nonvegans friends and family. It is important that once you made the decision, your house is vegan proof at least in the kitchen.

2. Print out a poster of vegan nutrition
Hang posters on your fridge with information about where to find Calcium, Protein, Iron, vitamin D, B12, and Omegas. Those are the top nutrients that vegans may fall short on. You can go through Pinterest and choose the one you like the most. This one HERE was very helpful to me. With the pass of the time, you will learn this. It is important that you have them visible so that you eat enough of all the nutrients your body need. In HERE you can find more information about how much of each you should eat.

3. Stuff your shelves and fridge with vegan approved food.
Go for a big grocery shopping haul and get all the fruits and vegetables that are in season and that you like as well as all seeds, nuts and legumes and grains. As seeds and nuts, I  bought almonds, walnuts, pumpkin-, flax-, chia-, and sesame seeds. And legumes and grains I got kidney beans, red and brown lentils, green peas, peanuts, chickpeas, rice (integral), oats, corn, couscous (integral), quinoa (integral). This stash is basic for this new way of eating. For me, it lasted long until I needed to go to the supermarket again. This is helpful because you won´t run out of vegan things to eat and you can combine these ingredients with fruits and veggies.

4. Plan ahead and be prepared
Make sure you always have enough food that you can eat in your house, at work and basically in your bag. On my bag, I always carry with me an apple or any other fruit that won´t smash and dirty my bag, and I also have hummus sandwiches or peanut butter sandwich with me. I used to commute to Amsterdam and waiting in the station is the perfect moment to eat. If you are always prepared you won´t be hungry and you will save some money. 😉

5. Have fun!
Once you are all settled, you can start experimenting with new recipes and discover new fruits and vegetables. I live in The Netherlands and I have found great recipes via http://www.ah.nl. Simply type the ingredients you have + vegan and you will find a lot of recipes to choose from. This technic you can also use in Google.

6. Stay connected
The second I decided to been vegan I joined a couple of vegan communities that I find very helpful. It is important to find people like you, with the same struggles. I found very helpful people in these communities. If you are using Facebook, join some vegan groups and dare to ask questions and be active. Once in facebook, write down on the search function the word vegan and you will find groups and you can choose a few that are in your country and language. I started following also vegan blogs and vegan Instagram accounts.This has personally helped me to continue my journey as a vegan and feel connected to others.

If you want more information about the vegan lifestyle this is a list of films and documentaries that might help you to understand more about this topic:

Cowspiracy – Watch Here
Earthlings – Watch Here
Forks Over Knives – Watch Here
Food Choices – Watch Here
Food, Inc. – Watch Here

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead – Watch Here
Blackfish – Watch on Netflix!
Meet The Truth – Watch Here
Glass Walls – Watch Here

 

Dear veteran vegans, what would you add to the list? What are your tips for new vegans?
Are you already vegan? I made a copilation of 20 funny vegan meme. Check them HERE.

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