Sephora Sale Purchases 2021
Quick post to share what I bought from the Sephora Sale that is going on. I always restock on things I need since the discount is good! Happy Shopping friends!! The discounts are if you are part of their rewards program and code: OMGSPRING
living proof Perfect hair Day (PhD) Dry Shampoo: This stuff SMELLS AMAZING and works great. I live on dry shampoo now since I try to wash and do my hair only once a week. The dry shampoo helps me extend my style.
summer fridays CC Me Vitamin C Serum: I actually just refilled this recently but if I had been low, I would have bought it now. I use this stuff everyday and love that it’s pregnancy safe. (Ask your dr what products are pregnancy safe I am not a dr!) It smells amazing too.I am a big fan of their whole product line. Also been using their Cloud Dew Oil-free Gel Cream Moisterizer frequently for a deeper more intense moisturizer but I just got a new container so I didn’t purchase yet.
saie Slip Tint Dewy Tinted Moisturizer SPF 35 Sunscreen: This is a great clean beauty buy that gives really nice sheer coverage with spf. I use it when I don’t want a makeup face but want to just even things out and wear some spf.
Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen: This stuff is GOLD. I mix in a few drops of face oil to this to sheer it out and it’s my go to face makeup. The coverage is great.
Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Clay Eyeshadow Palette: This is one of my everyday eye palettes. Such good neutrals. I can NOT live without it. I go through them often. I don’t need a new one at the moment but if I was running low I would def add this to my purchase.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector® Pressed Highlighter: This is my go to highlighter and I am hitting the bottom of my current pan so I needed a refresh on this one. I use it to add highlights to my cheekbones, nose bridge, cupids bow, under my eye brows and the corners of my eyes.
Lawless The Baby One Mini Eyeshadow Palette: I have been dying to try out Annie’s epic product line and was waiting for a sale to try this eyeshadow palette. Excited to see what the hype is about.
Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo: Another staple dry shampoo. I love to have a few on hand and change things up so my hair doesn’t just get used to one thing.
Necessaire The Body Wash – With Niacinamide: This is a new product I see ALL over the internet and feel like it could make my shower experience a little more spa like. Excited to see what the hype is about. Will report back. I got the sandalwood scent.
Charlotte Tilbury Mini Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder: Another new product I wanted to try out. Love that it’s a setting powder in a compact so a little less messy than loose powder.
Silk Mega Value Slipsilk Scrunchie Set: I am obsessed with these silk scrunchies. I wear them so I don’t make creases in my hair after I blow dry. I have all the skinny ones but wanted to try the bigger ones also. Great value for this set since they are pricey.
Ouai Wave Spray: Im running low on this and it’s lasted me forever which I love. I use this to spray on my wet curly hair when I want to air dry it curly. It’s EPIC and smells amazing.
Charlotte Tillbury Mini Pillow Talk Lipstick & Liner Set: I have been wanting to try the pillow talk color forever and legit always forget to order it. Trying it this time! Got the mini set so I don’t have to commit to full size.
Ouai Heat Protection Spray: This stuff is a MUST have. I am almost out and would cry if I didn’t have it. I use it when my hair is dry and I want to heat style it. I swear it helps hold the style longer and it also smells incredible.
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April 13, 2021 at 04:13PM
Lessons in Love: Practical Advice from the Yoga Mat
By Melissa Bryan
Lead With Love
Valentine’s Day 2021 recently passed, and as I sit on the opposite side of that holiday having just taught my high school students to create heart maps to identify the parts of their lives that fill their hearts, and having just finished Romeo & Juliet with some and Great Expectations with others, I find myself reflecting a lot on love and how it works in the universe. Literature helps us question the larger, and perhaps fated, direction of our future existence; story syntax offers us that predictive power.
What, however, helps us live those universal governing concepts? How do we practice transcendent and deep love in our present? Yoga teaches us that.
These words, “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” remind us that love radiates out from us; it is the hope for everyone to have happiness and be free, and the best way to receive love ourselves is through contributing to the happiness and freedom of others.
In preparing for my class on Elie Wiesel’s Night this week, I read an excerpt from another Holocaust survival memoir, Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning . The imprisoned Frankl says of love while wondering if his wife is still alive, “I knew only one thing- which I have learned well by now: Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self.” Frankl’s expression of love is one that, I think, yogis are after when they chant the line, “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.” For him, love is something rooted within oneself, but that simultaneously emits outward, too. It is not another person, it is not formed by the external environment, it is not performative nor dependent, and it is not possible for another to dismantle it; love goes very far from oneself and very far within oneself.
Through a yogic lens, love is happiness and freedom, but it is actually more the quiet , persistent way in which we contribute to those experiences for all beings everywhere.
If yoga is a state of mind after all, and not an action alone, then one way we might define a yogic transcendence and its necessary counterpart, drawing-inward, is as a practice of love. In fact, the practice of love is so tethered to the yogic state of mind that we are often reminded by our teachers to “lead with love” or “shine our hearts out” as in a great physical effort to manifest that which we chant on the mat and hope to contribute to the world beyond our mats.
Much like love, a wildly complicated and muddy emotion, yoga also embraces ambiguity. It is only after many years that one can understand that giving love (happiness and freedom to others) begets love in return, right? Experienced lovers know that love does not rest on another person, nor rely on what others think or feel for them. It doesn’t exist or cease to exist with the comings and goings of people or places, and I think the same is true of yoga. Now, rounding out 20 years of yoga practice, I can finally “sense how all the parts…are involved with each other,” to recall the MoMA’s definition of painting.
I might not be sure of love’s every stroke or be able to articulate in words how yoga interweaves body and mind or know how a painting is birthed, but I “sense the parts” and can see the image clearly. Fortunately, over time, we accrue proprietorship over what we see (art), how we practice (yoga), and the way we live (in love).
Last night, as I lay in my bed, head under my pillow, blocking out remnants of stray light, I uncovered what seems so special about yoga. It’s the way yoga practically instructs all actions – those actions that are very far from the mat, are duty-bound to the mat. And as I endeavor to “lead with love” on the mat, I find I am able to “shine my heart” toward others at home, at work, on the street, and in every meandering quotidian moment of my day. In darkness, I did indeed sense how the parts of my existence are all “involved” with each other, and then I knew I live a yogic life.
A beautiful thought about one’s own selfhood and interrelatedness to the universe to be sure, but what pragmatic tasks allow for an unquestioning acceptance of the cloudy connections between body and mind, love and yoga, mat and street relationships?
I might say that the yoga within me, the practice I purposefully cultivate in the studio, has helped me to recognize the thoughts and feelings I want to explore (and let go of the ones I don’t want to caress or nurture any longer) in my mind, in my heart, and certainly on the page. To paraphrase a yogi scholar whose class I weekly frequent: those ideas that come to you on the mat will come back to you; if they are in you, they will be there when you leave. In other words, those unconsciously spawned insights that spontaneously emerge from the diaphragmatic breathing and the kinesthetic asanas on the mat do not desert you when you sit listlessly on your couch at home. The tender, supple intuitions that gather and calm you on the mat begin to permeate every interaction off of the mat.
I’m quiet at yoga, and I am quiet at home. You are focused in the studio, you are focused at work.
We listen to the teachers while on the mat, we listen to loved ones off of the mat. Continuity is never severed.
In essence, then, the physical practice of asana (as well as the focus on spiritual aspects of the practice and attention to ascending chakras) spurs and affords us a mantra-esque framework on which to attach our habitual lives and through which to evaluate and assess those unpracticed and unmindful words, actions, and thoughts. With a little routine and as an earnest pupil, you can train yourself into “yogic thinking” when away from the practice in order to assess how loving your actions, words, and thoughts really are. But, with ample practice and attendance to the discipline, you can miraculously generate a loving automaticity when engaging with yourself on the mat and with others off of the mat.
While I have come to the mat time and time again over twenty years to hone my physical practice, it is the words and guidance of my teachers that reverberate throughout my days, throughout many months, and throughout the years. Those words and lessons effortlessly follow and flow from me everywhere and everyday, but that isn’t necessarily true of the asana.
When we open class, very often we chant. One opening chant is “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.” The chants may change, alter, and repeat, but the class will chant together, and that guidance sets us all up for connection. A first act of love. It is not merely a connection with the people in the class, though, because often one’s eyes are closed and your energy is really drawn inward, but the collective voices do what I remember my children’s yoga teacher training said about the purpose of “Om;” namely, Om, like chanting a phrase, is about seeking a universal vibration. While we are within, we are also without. While we seek the depth of our souls or psyches, we are also hoping to channel, I think, somewhat simultaneously, a union with all things in the universe. We are asking together that all beings are happy and free, and we hope our practice will “contribute” love to them. As they say, “That which we manifest….” It is a pretty powerful moment.
As with most openings, the Om or the chant are paired with the setting of one’s intention or dedication. Teachers direct us to practice for another, not for oneself. In my case, while I am on the mat, I tend to have a pretty consistent intention or person to whom I dedicate the practice, but what I realize about intentions, like the practice we have in the physical expressions of asanas, is that they aren’t resolutions nor must they be achieved or won.
There are many days when I am not at my best and when I do not have a “steady gaze and steady breath,” and therefore, I move through the flow without a “steady mind.” Some days, I am just a weak, sluggish blob, but I continue to go, set an intention, sing out with my fellow yogis, and I am secure in the notion that my mat intentions, whether I practice mindfully or not that day, are going far without and within nonetheless. How do I know? I know because, as my teachers have said, “everything is connected;” when we leave yoga we feel better, and we act better, and we simply “sense” that connectedness.
The opening aspects of a class, the chants and dedications, Oms and intentions, I think are like the heart maps I assigned my students this past February. They encompass all of the pieces of our being – the blissful and the broken. I can put them on a page to read or consider them as I move in class; I may not really know how the pieces are involved with one another, but I sense the picture. I know they make up my heart.
All that designs the heart, therefore, is the reason we practice life, just as the intentions we set are why we practice yoga. If we have a bad day or feel blue, we experienced practitioners know that there is no self-damnation, negative narcissism, nor paralytic self-consciousness because our focus was all set for the love of others. There is “no drama, just a lot of rama .” (virtue or chivalry)
To quote my same most sagacious – if at times hilariously cantankerous – yoga master:
Practicing Love: Mat Applicability
In top-ten, listicle fashion, below is a smattering of some accrued teacherly “isms” that have a useful impact on the mat and off of the mat. These axiomatic expressions constitute the ways in which we can look at and examine our lives as much as our yoga practice. They reposition us in class, but in life as well. They are, hopefully, the gleaned framework that girds our unattended and unloving thoughts.
1. “Set your drishti”
When you think about these lines in the context of a yoga class, all of us practicing yogis understand the power of pranayama, the difficulty of balancing poses, the essentiality of managing your thoughts and distancing yourself healthfully from the obsessive eddies of the mind, the uncomfortable and painful dismounts or exits from splits or backbends, and the time to ready yourself for the unsupported and flaccid corpse-like end of class. The whole practice though, and indeed each line shared here, is an exercise in love (being happy and free). Think about applying some of those very same words to your life outside of the studio and off of the mat.
Take a moment and really think about those very phrases in the context of your relationships. I hope you will sense the same picture that I have; namely, everything is connected and through yoga, it is pretty simple to practice a more loving life.
“Namaste, have a good day.”
ditor’s note: This is a guest post by Melissa Bryan, a Karma Kids-trained children’s yoga teacher, a twenty-year practicing yogi, and a high school English and ESL teacher in New Jersey. She holds an MA in Teaching English, an ESL certification, and she is earning an MA in Creative Writing and Literature. She is also an adjunct professor in Writing and Assessment in ESL, and she is a teacher consultant with the National Writing Project at the Drew Writing Project/Digital Literacies Collaborative in Madison, NJ.Via Wellness http://www.rssmix.com/
via Blogger http://kurtxwarren.blogspot.com/2021/03/lessons-in-love-practical-advice-from.html
March 22, 2021 at 04:13PM
3 Ways Finding My WHY Helped Me Grow
Let me ask you something…are you confident enough to step into the eye of the storm?
Let me ask you this…why would you want to step into the eye of the storm?
Because that is where the growth is.
Or how about this – do you know your WHY?
Or this – why do you practice yoga?
To be flexible? To be strong? To help with anxiety?
Wrong answers! These are not your WHY as to why you bring yourself to your mat or meditation cushion each day. These are the results of practicing yoga. But your WHY is something else.
I didn’t know too much about this until I did my teacher training and we did deep transformational work with a “touch of yoga” thrown in, (which in turn ended up being the transformational work without us evening knowing!) Mind. Blown.
So, here’s my WHY:
‘To be strong and confident…on and off the mat’
Strong and confident on my mat with my asanas (arm balances, inversions, headstands, handstands – you know, all the fun stuff but all the hard stuff!) Strong and confident off my mat in daily life and the challenges it brings (enter Covid-19 and lockdown!)
So, what does my WHY give me?
It gives me ease, strength, confidence and guidance, but ultimately peace and happiness. And through peace and happiness I have grown so much more, without that even being the intention of my WHY.
Here I’d like to share with you 3 ways finding my WHY helped me to grow, and how finding your why, you too can grow:
1) Perseverance – on the mat
Let me ask you this, what is your worst yoga asana?
I have a few, ha! (You wouldn’t think I’m a yoga teacher!)
For me, here are a couple I find challenging:
Because my WHY is to be strong and confident on & off the mat, chanting this to myself whenever I’m faced with a challenging asana has helped wonders with my mind and mental state during a tricky yoga pose.
Let’s break down forearm stand, the trickier of the two. You need a whole heck of a lot of shoulder strength and core strength to hold this and keep a straight line. The body needs to be stacked with no banana-shaped back. You need to have open hamstrings in order to walk the legs in and stack the hips in order to come up into forearm stand with control, without kicking up.
This is my nemesis. But with these physical challenges comes the mental challenge and perseverance on the mat. ‘To be strong & confident on & off the mat’ – strong in my shoulders and core, strong in my mind (‘I’ve got this, I can totally do this!’), confident in not falling over and if I do, so what? You learn from every fall and it builds you up to grow.
So, what’s your challenging yoga pose(s)?
Have you thought about your WHY to help you with these poses?
2) Can do attitude – off the mat
In life what are your biggest challenges?
Is it raising 3 kids all under the age of 6?
Or perhaps, juggling work and the kids?
Or maybe your dream is to start your own business but you’re worried you are not enough?
For me it was the later. I used to do the whole 9-5 thing, but I was lucky, I loved my job (I designed shoes, and still do part-time.) But I always had a feeling that there was more to life. More to me. More to what I can offer the world and what I wanted to be a part of and create. Finding and connecting to my WHY, has 100% given me the belief in myself that I CAN DO THIS. It’s not there all day every day. But when those negative thoughts creep in (which they will do, we’re only human!) I chant back to myself in my mind my WHY, and faith is restored again in myself.
3) Eye of the storm – life’s biggest challenges
For me, it was when I was 37. My world stopped.
Dealing with grief is such a personal thing, it’s different for everyone. I’ve said goodbye to long-lost family members before as I was growing up. But this was different. This was my mum. My most amazing mum. We lost my mum suddenly to cancer, and my world hasn’t been the same since.
This isn’t a post about grief – or how to deal with it.
But more so, a blog post about how – even in the most challenging, sickening, confusing, upsetting, heart-wrenching times, in the eye of the storm, we can get through to the sunshine. Or at least, get through to a mild day with blue sky and no more storm.
See, life isn’t joyous 100% of the time. Yoga teaches us not to observe life through rose-tinted glasses, yet so often we do.
When life decides to turn your world upside down and rip away your mum, how do you cope? Sure, loved ones, friends & family are always there for you. But my WHY helped me on a much deeper personal level. I don’t talk about it with anyone. I haven’t really shared it with my family. It’s for me and me only.
And unfortunately, life is going to deliver many more storms to come, it’s out of your control, it’s natural. But how you choose to be when faced with the storm is within your control. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you chose to respond. This is where the growth lies. Or, as Baron Baptiste calls it, “the edge”:
So, what does my WHY give me? It gives me ease, strength, confidence and guidance, but ultimately peace and happiness.
I urge you to find your WHY. And if you don’t know what it is – that’s fine. Explore it, dance around it, then connect and nurture it through your yoga practice, through your meditation practice.
Connect to your breath and let your breath guide you. Let the breath connect you–mind and body, body and soul. Let your breath connect your conscious and sub-conscious. Here we will explore and find our WHY.
Your Why Yoga:
If you have any questions or would like to know more about Finding Your Why, I teach Your Why Yoga – you can get in contact here.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Anna from Flamingo Yoga Maya. Anna teaches yoga with a strong emphasis on asking her students to find and connect to their WHY, using it as a driving force to guide them through life. She teaches Vinyasa and Yin, online, and her classes are relaxed and friendly. Anna has also designed a range of yoga tops with built-in towelling to wipe away sweat as you workout – you can shop the collection here.Via Wellness http://www.rssmix.com/
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February 26, 2021 at 02:13PM
Pregnancy 2 // First Trimester
Figured I would do an update on how the first trimester was for Baby 2! Things have been different and more intense the second time around! Excited to share the details with you below.
I haven’t tracked my exact weight for JUST the first trimester but at my 16 week appt I had gained 9 pounds which my dr said was normal and on track! I will say the pounds started packing on WAY faster this second time around. Almost to the point I was freaked out. But you have to think that everything is growing and taking shape faster and as long as I am on track with my doctor I am feeling great. It is always also strange coming off fertility treatment into pregnancy because I am not fully myself. I had been doing fertility medication for almost a year and that always adds some start weight. But, like I said, it’s all part of my story. All part of my process. And honestly, the fact that I am here, it all doesn’t matter. I am so grateful to be pregnant and have a healthy baby!!
HOW I’M FEELING: PHYSICALLY
GOOD GOD. My nausea was 10x worse this time around. At 6 weeks, I went on diclegis prescription for nausea and took 2 pills at night. Despite being on meds, I still struggled through most of my first trimester with extreme nausea. Luckily I did not have vomiting but man… the nausea was REALLY bad. To be honest with you, none of the “tricks” worked for me either. Sure snacks, small meals, ginger, etc etc but nope. Massive unrelenting nausea. The hardest part about it is that being the mom to a toddler means you don’t have the luxury of resting like you do as a first time pregnant woman. Having to take care of an active child while struggling with feeling ill is miserable. I have to thank Blake for pretty much taking over the minute he would be done with work to help me as I was doubled over on the couch. It was rough. And rough knowing just how long the first trimester is. What I did make sure to do was ALWAYS have a snack in the mid afternoon. If I didn’t have some kind of snack between 2-4pm, I would be even more miserable. Saltine crackers were always on my nightstand along with bold chex mix, and goldfish.
I experienced some more intense round ligament pain in my groin area this time around. I noticed it mostly at night. Especially when I needed to lawn, or sneeze or make a bigger movement I would get a twitch of pain from it.
Like my first pregnancy, pregnancy brain is a REAL THING. I swear the moment I got pregnant my brain turned to mush. It’s hard to explain but I can’t remember anything to save my life. Lol!
I was a new level of tired being pregnant and chasing a toddler. Truth be told being in a pandemic didn’t help either. Not being able to take him places etc. I was very tired but the sickness bothered me more than being tired.
Sorry if that’s TMI but wow the constipation was bad this time around. The first month or two was tough and I know it also has alot to do with how much progesterone is in my body. Since I wasn’t drinking coffee after my transfer right away, it was extra tough. I always feel like coffee gets me moving. HA! I know. So much TMI. You’re welcome.
This time around I feel my belly popped out a lot sooner! At 14 weeks I feel I had a tiny little bump. I am sure I will look back and be like, WOW that wasn’t much of a bump but it’s when I felt there was a defined transformation.
HOW I’M FEELING: MENTALLY
I think similarly to my first pregnancy, after so much loss (with each of our failed embryo transfers) you keep waiting and holding your breath as each week passes you by. Each week it’s own milestone. And you find yourself thinking, “Oh I will feel good once I hear the heart beat!” “Oh I will feel good when I hit the second trimester.” But really, I think there is always a sense of unease as you move through the process. I think it’s healthy to be a little bit nervous. It’s honest. I think things have just been more stressful with the fact that we are still in a global pandemic because of Covid-19. That has put alot of stress on us keeping our family safe during these times and staying as isolated as we can while also being aware of taking care of our mental health. We are very fortunate living where we do to be able to spend time together outdoors and that has been great for the mind and body. Really, I go to bed, and wake up every day just so damn grateful knowing that I am growing life and repeating to myself that I AM PREGNANT. And THIS IS OUR CHANCE. This is our miracle. It’s been such an emotional roller coaster to get to this point and really, despite any outside stressors buzzing around, I am just so grateful and smile so big everyday knowing that next Summer I get to make Otis a big brother.
WHAT I’M EATING
First trimester for me was CARBS. CARBS and MORE CARBS. Honestly most days I barely had an appetite because of how sick I felt but I know how important it was to nourish my body. So I would basically have to force myself to have my meals. ESPECIALLY when it came to dinner. I had no appetite at all at night. It was bad.
That being said, I didn’t have any coffee for weeks. First off because I avoid caffeine after my embryo transfer and didn’t feel comfortable drinking it until after I heard the heartbeat. At a certain point, when my nausea would allow in the am and I was in the mood for coffee, I started to drink it again. I started with decaf but then had some headaches and my doctor always encourages me to have 1 cup of caffeine to help with my headaches. What I was drinking and couldn’t stop was bubble water (or carbonated water) whatever you like to call it. I usually prefer lukewarm drinks but this pregnancy I was craving ICED COLD bubble water. We actually ended up getting this carbonated water maker and we literally use it EVERY SINGLE DAY. For some reason the cold bubble water just helped with my nausea believe it of not.
Thankfully eggs were a lifesaver for me and I could tolerate them. My favorite go to breakfast that didn’t make me want to throw up: a piece of toast, a tiny bit of mayo, and a sliced hard boiled egg with salt and pepper. I basically ate that every day. I also had a lot of bagels with cream cheese when I wasn’t feeling great. Food was just tough so we didn’t meal plan as much so I could eat more what I could stomach that day.
As the first trimester went on, I was able to eat more regularly. I always try to eat protein for breakfast (like egg) to help really nourish me. I also try to make smarter choices and slip some protein in my afternoon snack. My favorites: string cheese, chocolate covered almonds, toast or apples with almond butter. Don’t get me wrong, some days I have a bowl of chips, a cupcake, or something else that is naughty. I think it’s all about balance and sometimes, you just have to indulge.
HOW I’M SLEEPING
First trimester sleep was rough. With the waking up to pee almost every night that was one element. It’s likely the hormone changes that always get to me. Last pregnancy I had to take unisom to get some form of normal sleep. Since I started the diclegis at 6 weeks with 2 pills at night, I found that helped me sleep MUCH better. So for now, I am sleeping ok. Some nights are better than others. I do toss and turn alot.
I didn’t really work out at all till at least around 10-11 weeks. Of course I was doing my daily walks with Otis etc and getting my steps in and my blood pumping. But I wanted to take it easy and honestly I didn’t have the energy to do anything before then. Starting at 11 weeks I started short 10 minute workouts on my elliptical that we have in our garage and Blake got me for Christmas. I try to do that, or just walk briskly on our treadmill for 10-15 minutes. There are weeks I barely get 1 “workout” if you even want to call it that. Basically I just try to get my blood pumping whether I am walking for Otis’ morning walk or doing something else. I also started prenatal yoga class (virtually online) every week and its been music ot my soul. Great stretching and a great time for me to sit and connect with my body and the baby. It’s something I really enjoyed while pregnant with Otis so it’s a sense of comfort being able to participate even from my computer at home.
MEDS IM TAKING
For most of the first trimester, I stayed on alot of my IVF medications. I stayed on my prednisone steroids till 9 weeks and then weaned down my estrogen patches as well as weaned down to 1 progesterone injection a day. During this time, I did get some hormonal headaches with all the fluctuations but luckily they weren’t horrible and only lasted 2 days. I finally was able to stop all my meds (with the exception of baby aspirin and my diclegis) at my graduation appointment from the fertility clinic at 12 weeks!!! This was a HUGE milestone after literally doing injections and taking medications for almost a year in prep for each of my FET (frozen embryo transfer) cycles.
The biggest hurdles this pregnancy have been knowing and believing that feeling like crap would likely get better at the end of the first trimester. After a year of hormone meds, and then feeling awful my first trimester, a UTI, a yeast infection from the meds of the UTI (sorry TMI!!) I got to the point where being in my own skin was just frustrating. Being pregnant is a WILD things because your body is completely taken over. It’s beautiful in many ways and also still really emotionally challenging in others. I am so thankful to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the first tri. But anyone else that is “IN IT” my heart hugs yours mamas. It’s tough!!
WHAT I’M WEARING
I feel everything comes on sooner with the second pregnancy and the need for stretchy things came sooner. When it comes to leggings, I still wear my pre-pregnancy lululemon align leggings which are high rise and so stretchy as well as my alo leggings that are really soft and a little lower rise. Both still fit comfortably and fit over my growing body. Toward the end of my first trimester, I ended up buying these maternity leggings from beyond yoga and I LOVE them. They feel like second skin and are so buttery soft. They come all the way up over your bump or you can also fold it down to go under. Highly suggest them as they are SO comfy.
Also because I don’t leave my house often (because of Covid-19) I wear a ton of sweats. These sets from Michael Stars have been a guilty pleasure because they are SO soft and made of terry material. I also love my sweat set from Tan Lines that Sivan sent over. The material is SO soft and I feel like a cool mom in them. Although Blake made fun of my crop top sweater. HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IS COOL!!! I do enjoy wearing more cropped tops when pregnant to let the belly have it’s little bit of room. I did end up getting one pair of maternity denim from jbrand that actually fit great toward the end of my first trimester also. Will report back when I wear them out. Equally stretchy too.
I did buy 3 bras from skims that I have been loving too. This scoop bra, this triangle bra and this nursing bra are all GREAT. I wanted to see what the hype was about with this brand and I have to say the materials are ON POINT. VERY comfy. If you plan to order, SIZE UP and size up big time. I got at least size L in everything because my boobs are enormous now and I feel their stuff runs small. I also have a ton of bras from Otis’ pregnancy. From last pregnancy, I have my hatch and bravado bras that I wear weekly also.
It’s different for the second pregnancy because you start showing and feeling bigger sooner (at least in my case) so you are in that in between period of not fully having a bump but feeling large and awkward if that makes sense. I have to say, a perk of pandemic life is the fact that I am mostly in lounge wear so I have been able to avoid real clothes for most of the first trimester aside from doctors appointments etc.
First trimester was just really challenging with not feeling well constantly. Hard to give yourself self love, in a pandemic, with no childcare help. If anything, I tried to listen to my body, and lay down when Otis was napping and try my best to give my body the much needed rest it was craving. Nearing the end of the first tri, showers and a blow dry were my self care routine and even an at home mani/pedi. Feeling better was already such a treat and allowed me the time to do some other things for myself. I think it’s just so important to listen to your body and slow down when you need it.
FIRST TRIMESTER PURCHASES
Purchases for me:
Purchases for baby:
So we didn’t do much to prep for baby in the first trimester except for me sharing our good news with my good friend (and interior design guru) Anne! She helped to plan out the interiors of our whole home including master bedroom, living and dining rooms, and most recently Otis’ nursery. I basically texted her and forced her to dream up Baby #2 nursery ideas so we are currently working on that! IT’S GOING TO BE EPIC.
I am looking forward to more ultrasounds!!!! I can not WAIT for my anatomy scan at 20 weeks to get some more face time with baby. Other than that, it’s check off each week as an incredible milestone and try to remain as active as I can to help get my body strong for delivery again. It’s exciting to near the half mark and be buying things for baby, talking to Otis about the baby and just imagining our life together as a family. I honestly am still in shock everyday. I feel lucky everyday. Our rainbows have brighten out life immensely and I am so excited to continue to share our journey with you all. Big love from all of us.
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February 17, 2021 at 05:13PM
Growing Medical Recognition of Yoga as a Treatment for Anxiety
By Dr. Sat Bir S. Khalsa
Perceived stress and anxiety can be a normal and healthy response to life circumstances. But for some, the fast pace and uncertainty of modern society causes debilitating levels of stress and anxiety. Chronic, unmanaged stress hurts our quality of life and is responsible for an increase in health issues and disorders across the world. It is a psycho-social crisis that has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rates of anxiety in the U.S. have more than tripled in the second quarter, from 8.1% in 2019 to 25.5% in 2020.  The resulting negative emotions are not only traumatic, but also make our immune systems more vulnerable. Managing these draining emotions is difficult but doable.
Exercise, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation have all been shown to mitigate anxiety. It is no surprise that traditional yoga — a practice that combines all four techniques — is what more people are relying on to manage their anxiety. However, yoga has not received the same level of attention from medical research. That is beginning to change. Health care professionals and researchers, like myself, are finding consensus around why yoga is such a powerful tool for regulating emotions and reducing anxiety.
Yoga as a Mind-Body Treatment
If anxiety increases, it may start to interfere with everyday activities and overall well-being and thereby meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Mentally, this includes pervasive day-long exaggerated worry and tension, inability to relax, difficulty concentrating, anticipation of disaster and excessive concern about life issues. Patients are unable to control this even though they realize that their anxiety is more intense than is warranted. However, many anxiety symptoms are actually physical, such as muscle tension, trembling, sweating and insomnia. Such symptoms are due to an activation of the fight or flight stress response, which prepares both the mind and body for real or imagined threats by causing significant changes in the body, mind and emotions.
Conventional medical treatments for anxiety include pharmaceuticals, which do not necessarily address the underlying causes of anxiety. Psychotherapeutic approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT; considered a gold standard behavioral GAD treatment), do address underlying mechanisms of anxiety in many patients, but they are not effective for all. Both approaches focus primarily on mental aspects of anxiety. Given the physical symptoms of anxiety, it follows that any successful anxiety treatment would be best if it addresses both the mind and body, which is what makes yoga such an effective option. Yoga can address both the symptoms and causes of anxiety, while strengthening the tools needed for emotional regulation.
Feelings of anxiety can quickly overwhelm us, leading to an automatic reactivity with no gap, filter or interval for response. Through practice, yoga breaks the patterns responsible for this automatic behavior. The meditation practice component of yoga works on improving self-regulation of the attention networks in your brain. As you gain more skill in the interface between your thought processes and emotion control, you simultaneously become more sensitive and less negatively reactive to your own thoughts and life situations. The physical components of yoga practice work effectively on anxiety symptoms in the body while also impacting mental functioning through the mind-body connection. Overall, these skills make it possible to have a degree of control over our emotional state and how we respond to stressful events. It’s what makes the mind-body practice of Yoga so powerful.
Evidence from the Scientific Community
Yoga’s positive impact on anxiety and anxiety disorders is supported by a growing body of research. Recent published meta-analyses (review papers summarizing statistical results from a number of previous clinical trials) of yoga for anxiety have concluded that yoga might be an effective and safe intervention for individuals with anxiety disorders or with elevated levels of anxiety.  Other researchers have found evidence to suggest that yoga for children and adolescents may also reduce anxiety — welcome news given that anxiety disorders are prevalent in younger people.
Much of my own research has focused on Kundalini Yoga as a treatment for emotional and physical health. Kundalini Yoga is a traditional yoga practice that incorporates movement, postures, dynamic breathing techniques, deep relaxation, meditation and mantras. It is a yoga style focused on improving physical functioning, self-regulation of mind and body, increased mind-body awareness and enhancement of positive psychological states. These states include feelings of calm, balance, well-being, gratitude, compassion, and ultimately depth of self, transcendence, life purpose and meaning, and spirituality.
I have focused on understanding Kundalini Yoga’s efficacy in improving emotional well-being. That work has contributed to a study that showed positive benefits of a Kundalini Yoga treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I have also researched the potential benefit of enriching CBT with Kundalini Yoga to treat GAD. The results showed statistically significant improvements in state and trait anxiety, depression, panic, sleep and quality of life, demonstrating its potential as a promising treatment for those suffering from GAD.
Following positive results of a preliminary study of Kundalini Yoga alone as a therapy for GAD, our most significant research trial of Kundalini Yoga for GAD was published last August in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry. This large, rigorously conducted randomized controlled trial assigned patients with GAD to participate in a 12-week intervention of either Kundalini Yoga, CBT or a stress education control condition. Participants attended weekly group sessions and engaged in daily 20-minute home practice sessions. The results showed that Kundalini Yoga was a credible treatment. It was more effective than stress education in treating GAD, though not as effective as the CBT gold standard. Given that conventional treatments of GAD are not fully effective or easily accessible for everyone, these results are encouraging for the use of yoga as an additional treatment for anxiety and anxiety disorders. 
These findings are important steps toward establishing that traditional yoga (incorporating not just physical exercises but also controlled breathing, relaxation and meditation) is particularly effective at managing stress and emotion.
Practice at Home
While researchers continue to make the case to the medical establishment for yoga as treatment strategy, nothing is stopping you from using yoga as self-care. One of the many beautiful aspects of yoga is that it requires no special equipment — though a yoga mat is helpful — so there’s nothing to stop you from practicing Kundalini Yoga in your living room. Try a Kundalini sequence or meditation at home whenever you feel worried or anxious. It is always best to learn with a qualified Kundalini instructor to ensure that you are practicing properly, but there are plenty of techniques you can easily perform on your own while socially distancing during the pandemic. For a list of practices that beginners can use, visit https://www.3ho.org/kundalini-yoga/kriya/featured-kriyas.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. Dr. Khalsa is the Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute, Research Associate at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His research on yoga for mental health in public schools, insomnia, anxiety disorders, and chronic stress; his Harvard e-book Your Brain on Yoga; and the medical textbook The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care which he co-edited, have established him as a world-renowned yoga researcher, collaborator, author, and speaker.
 Cramer H, Lauche R, Anheyer D, Pilkington K, de Manincor M, Dobos G, Ward L. Yoga for anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depress Anxiety. 2018 Sep;35(9):830-843. doi: 10.1002/da.22762. Epub 2018 Apr 26. PMID: 29697885.
 Hofmann SG, Andreoli G, Carpenter JK, Curtiss J. Effect of Hatha Yoga on Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis. J Evid Based Med. 2016;9(3):116-124. doi:10.1111/jebm.12204
 Weaver LL, Darragh AR. Systematic Review of Yoga Interventions for Anxiety Reduction Among Children and Adolescents. Am J Occup Ther. 2015 Nov-Dec;69(6):6906180070p1-9. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2015.020115. PMID: 26565100.
 Farah Jindani, Nigel Turner, Sat Bir S. Khalsa, “A Yoga Intervention for Posttraumatic Stress: A Preliminary Randomized Control Trial”, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2015, Article ID 351746, 8 pages, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/351746
 Khalsa MK, Greiner-Ferris JM, Hofmann SG, Khalsa SB. Yoga-enhanced cognitive behavioural therapy (Y-CBT) for anxiety management: a pilot study. Clin Psychol Psychother. 2015 Jul-Aug;22(4):364-71. doi: 10.1002/cpp.1902. Epub 2014 May 7. PMID: 24804619; PMCID: PMC4224639.
 Gabriel MG, Curtiss J, Hofmann SG, Khalsa SBS. Kundalini Yoga for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: An Exploration of Treatment Efficacy and Possible Mechanisms. Int J Yoga Therap. 2018 Nov;28(1):97-105. doi: 10.17761/2018-00003. Epub 2018 Apr 26. PMID: 29698081.
 Simon NM, Hofmann SG, Rosenfield D, et al. Efficacy of Yoga vs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs Stress Education for the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online August 12, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.2496Via Wellness http://www.rssmix.com/
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January 22, 2021 at 12:13PM
IVF FET Round 4 (Third times the charm) IM PREGNANT!
As I sit here typing the words, “I am pregnant!” it’s words we have been dreaming about for almost a full year now. Literally working toward each month. For a year. My heart can’t stop smiling thinking about it, and I can’t wipe the smile off my face as the tears continue to fall down my face. Tears of happiness. Tears of joy. Tears of past heartbreak. All of it. I have shared a lot of my past infertility journey that brought us to Otis (which you can read about here) and I am committed to sharing our story with you as we experience it. These posts for me have been therapeutic to be able to diary as I have experienced it. Also, please be kind if I go in and out of tense as some of this was written in the moment and some of it after the fact. BEAR WITH ME.
This Frozen Embryo Transfer was likely the most important of all of them. It was our last frozen embryo we had in storage. And our last try for a baby. The weight of that was suffocating. After previously going through 3 egg retrievals, after Otis I was left with 3 frozen embabies. Our precious little babies. Of course there are always options to keep going but I am of course already 37 years old and I STRUGGLED to get healthy embryos from my retrievals since my egg quality was pretty poor. I was also unsure if I was willing to undergo the whole egg retrieval process again but this now brought all those thoughts up. What if my last transfer doesn’t work? There was ALOT on our minds. Alot. So looking into our last chance with our last embryo had a lot of weight to it. After looking at our past failed cycles with our doctor, she had an idea to do something completely different. This both excited me and completely TERRIFIED me. But at this point, we really needed to throw it all on the line to put our best foot forward. I trust my doctor so I was willing to go down a new path. I think it’s always important to mix things up because you never know what your recipe for success will be. She wanted to try a “Natural FET cycle” meaning that we would supplement less with synthetic hormones and instead, let my body lead the way naturally and then only supplement with less hormones closer to embryo transfer. Since I have had issues getting a thicker lining with all the synthetic hormones, we were curious to see how my body does completely on it’s own. So the goal would be, track my natural cycle in a “mock” cycle where we were only doing bloodwork and ultrasounds to gather information and track my cycle. No embryo transfer. Just tracking for research. I was IN.
Tracking my Natural Cycle
The process would be, wait till cycle day 3 of my period and come in for a baseline ultrasound and bloodwork at my fertility clinic. Then for me to do at home ovulation kits to track my ovulation at home as well as come in for multiple scans to see how my eggs were growing and tracking it with kits, bloodwork and ultrasound. In doing this, we found that my lining naturally looked FREAKING AMAZING. WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN. Basically my lining looked the best it ever had and I was almost upset this was a mock cycle and not a real one. That is how good my lining looked. After we confirmed ovulation with both my at home kits, and ultrasound and blood work, doctor also confirmed that my estrogen tends to dip a little low after ovulation so that is where we want to supplement a little more in our real cycle. Good to know! Also, we were excited to decide we would lock into a natural FET cycle and we were doing this!!! Of course we also tried naturally that month to get pregnant and of course it didn’t happen. So we were on our way to our Natural FET cycle with my next period.
Natural Cycle FET
I started my cycle on the 3rd day of my period and came in for a baseline check. The did an ultrasound to make sure I didn’t have any cysts on my ovaries and did blood work to check my hormone levels. The plan was to do at home ovulation kits and wait for high and peak results. The kits I use first tell you when your levels are HIGH and then tell you when it’s PEAK which is right before ovulation. So it was about 2 weeks until I went in again just for a check. Things were actually looking farther along than last cycle so we did more blood work and she suspected I would be getting close so I would come back in 2 days. In 2 days, my body was READY! Those eggs were growing perfectly and when we checked my hormones I was ready to go!! IT WAS INSANITY. I was expecting to have a much longer cycle again but this was flying by holy crap. I waited for blood work to confirm but that night I did my trigger shot! The trigger shot would confirm my exact embryo transfer timing. My lining was the best it’s ever looked! It looked “lush and juicy” in the words of my doctor and she was so excited about how great it looked that she printed me out a photo. I had that good trilaminar appearance to it as well which is all very positive. Things were looking amazing for my natural cycle and I was excited the doctor was as hyped as I was about it. I knew that if things didn’t look great, we could always cancel and try again but we were doing this!!
One week before I did my trigger injection which would trigger ovulation and set the wheels into motion for my embryo transfer. I started my progesterone 5 days before transfer and my other meds 3 days before. Progesterone this time was 1 injection and 1 suppository at night. I literally forgot how horrible those suppositories are. Basically it’s a compounded version of progesterone that looks like an oversized pill that you shove up your lady parts at night. But the aftermath is that is oozes out kind of slowly over time. Sorry TMI but damn they are GROSS. They just really end up making me feel very uncomfortable and I much prefer the injections which I know sounds INSANE. I started WAY less other hormones 3 days before. 2 estrogen patches and then my normal protocol of antibiotics, claritin, pepcid, baby aspirin, and medrol. After the medrol was finished I would start my prednisone. So all the meds were mostly the same as my medicated cycles in the past but just a lot less of them since we were working with my own body’s goods.
We did one last appointment on Friday before my Monday transfer to make sure all my hormones were looking good and that lining was also looking good. I think my nerves were running high. The appointment went great and everything looked ready. Hormones and lining looked good. I got to the checkout desk and was scheduling my pregnancy blood drawl test and 2 of my nurses came over to wish me luck at my transfer. I lost it. I feel awful to have been crying at the desk as I am sure anyone in the waiting room could hear me. But wow. The gravity of everything was hitting me. I desperately needed this to work. It was our last precious embryo and I was a hot mess of emotion. I thought I had it all together, I was feeling so good and positive, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t FEELING. Just such a vulnerable moment. Losing your shit. In public. But damn, infertility is hard as fuck. It’s really fucking hard. And going to battle and being knocked down every time takes its toll. I left the office tissues in hand. When I got to my car, I decided to change the script. Yes we had 1 more chance but that 1 chance is a blessing.
EMBRYO TRANSFER DAY
Of all my transfers, this one was one for the books. My smile was bigger waking up. I was more hopeful. I laid out my rainbow shirt, my cozy warrior socks, and I sat excited to start my day and move a step closer to expanding our family. I blow dried my hair, which in Covid times, is a big deal. I wanted to feel good. Look good. Be the light I needed this day.
Blake, Otis and I packed up to leave. Because of Covid-19, he was not allowed in for my transfer but he would drop me off and be there waiting. As I was getting in the car, I noticed 3 morning doves walking through our garden. It was the sign I needed that morning. Third time’s the charm. I couldn’t knock the smile off my face after that. Despite the fact that destructive fires were raging through my part of Southern California, my sister was evacuated from her home and it smelled horribly of smoke even outside of our own home, I was positive. Nothing was going to ruin this day for me.
When I got to the clinic, it was business as usual. Take my valium and I filled out all my forms etc and before I knew it I was back in the room getting ready. I always play music on my phone and this time I put on my Summer Salt playlist for some good vibes. The embryologist came in, shared good news about our thawed 4AB embryo and confirmed it was our last normal embryo. My doctor came in shortly after. A speculum, a catheter and a few quick minutes later and the embryo was in! Watching it on the screen happen via ultrasound is truly a sureal experience. And just like that, we did it. I had my lucky socks on keeping me cozy and I also brought a few ribbons with me from a gift as a good luck charm. Channeling hope and love through every moment. I had asked Blake if he could give me an affirmation each day after my transfer to keep my spirits high and keep my hopeful heart in the right direction. I didn’t know he was going to give me something on the day of my transfer but before I had walked in, he gave me my first affirmation from him and Otis. I got to open it as I sat alone waiting for the doctors and nurses to come in. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. “The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that is coming” <3, Blake + Otis Never underestimate the power of a small gesture to make someone’s heart just so happy. Blake picked me up and we drove home to for me to get cozy in bed, eat my lunch, and take a much needed nap. Since I take valium to relax me before my procedure, I always need a good nap that day to sleep everything off.
2WW (The Two Week Wait)
This time period is the dreaded “TWO WEEK WAIT.” Technically it’s 10 days after my transfer that I can go in for my beta blood work to measure my HCG levels and find out if I got pregnant from my transfer. So let’s start from the beginning of those 10 days.
My first 3 days (including transfer day) were bed/couch rest. So basically hang in bed, have Blake bring me all my meals and snacks and just BE CHILL and BE HAPPY. In order to prepare for this and make it easier for Blake, who took time off of work to watch and care for myself and Otis, I did our meal plan for bedrest and planned some of my favorite meals to enjoy during this time. Also a tradition on transfer day for me is to enjoy a bagel with sundried tomato cream cheese and cucumber in bed while I watch Father of the Bride. I do this every time. It’s just part of my “happy” process. We had to keep my door closed since bed rest and a toddler don’t mix. Of course Otis and Blake could come in to say hi every once in a while, but the important thing was for me to be chill and mellow. So I binged my fav rom coms in bed, took some naps, and thought positive thoughts. I also facetimed Otis for every meal so I felt part of the family even stuck in bed. Love that technology could keep us together at meal time. This also made me happy to see Otis’ sweet face.
On day 4, I was allowed to resume normal activity as long as I refrained from any strenuous and no working out at all. Also, no lifting my toddler. That one is difficult! But I am so thankful to have Blake working from home to help me lift him in and out of his crib during this time. So we took things easy, and kept myself busy hanging with Otis daily and waiting.
During the 2ww I was also tracking my body like a HAWK. What was I feeling? How was I feeling? Were these signs of pregnancy? Were these signs of my period? Anyone that endures the 2WW becomes obsessed with any small symptoms they might detect and wonder WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN. I am telling you, it’s maddening. The problem is, with each transfer, all the symptoms are almost identical for pregnancy OR getting your period. Seriously. It’s a mind fuck excuse my French but it is. And comparing my symptoms to my last 2 failed FET, they were similar. So how was I supposed to know if it was good or bad? There was just no way to know. I had the slight cramping. I had the sore boobs. I had the bloating. Basically all the symptoms all week. I started those 10 days mellow and cool as a cucumber but as the days passed by… the anxiety started to rise.
9DPT (9 Days Post Transfer)
As I sit here on Nov 4th, my anxiety level is at an all time high with the election still lingering with no clear cut winner and a pregnancy test lingering. Chalk it up to massive PTSD but wow the nerves are hitting me today. I know what is done is done, and I know my results will share just that. But this time, it’s all on the line. As the day went on the anxiety rose. I ended up doing a mediation in my calm app and taking a nap when Otis took a nap. I needed that release. Later in the day after dinner, I went to the bathroom and I swear when I wiped, I had a slight light pink streak. I freaked out. Could this be my period??? We were getting Otis ready for bed and I was sitting in his rocking chair waiting for him and Blake to come into the room and I just broke down. Hysterically ugly crying I said to blake, “Im so nervous.” Tears streaming. Uncontrollably. I think in this moment I realized that while my level of optimism was high, there was still 2 possible outcomes… and now I was freaking out. Sadly I made Blake stress out too but damn guys. I just lost it. While the 2WW is always an excruciating time for people going through fertility treatment, the day before blood test was high up in the worst days ever. After we got Otis down for bed, we binged some 90 Day Fiance before the 90 days to get our minds off the baby topic. And then tucked ourselves in with our nightly meditation. I have the Hatch Restore and it’s been a great part of my daily routine. You can select custom meditations to play before bed and then play your sound machine music. It’s helped to set a good intention for me before bedtime. Setting my mind in the right space has been such an important thing to focus on throughout this experience.
10DPT + Pregnancy Blood Test
I think Blake and I barely slept the night leading to my blood work. I woke up and got ready to go and made sure to pee in a cup for Blake. I NEVER go into my bloodwork without doing a HPT (home pregnancy test) because I do not want to find out blind from a phone call if I don’t have to. So I peed in the cup and left. Right when I leave the door, Blake does the pregnancy test for me. He is a GOOD man. So thankful he does this for me. I do this so that we have results but I don’t know until after my blood work so that I am in good spirits at the doctors office. I headed in for my quick blood drawl and I was back into my car eagerly texting Blake. Because of the stress and PTSD… I texted Blake, “Negative?” and he texted me, “Are you sure you wanna know?” and I said yes. “You are PREGNANT!” I swear when I read it… I blacked out. LITERALLY BLACKED OUT. I immediately video chatted with Blake while uncontrollably and hysterically crying. HYSTERICAL. I was in complete shock. Blake asked, “Are you excited???” Since he was clearly confused by my tears of utter shock. OF COURSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It seriously took me some time to calm down. It was literally unbelievable. After 1 cancelled cycle and 2 failed transfers…. I finally got a positive home pregnancy test. It was a fucking miracle. Now to wait for the actual blood results.
The nurse called me later in the day to share the good news and I was just so relieved not to get that familiar phone call from my doctor. The PTSD is so real when it comes to every part of this process. My levels looked GREAT and I would come back in 2 days to make sure my beta HCG levels were going up. My levels 2 days later looked great again. It was official!!!! I would go in next week for my 5 week ultrasound. At this point, we had our trip to Alisal scheduled btw my blood work and my ultrasound appointment so it was the perfect midweek time to literally celebrate our new found news together as a family. But also gave us so much excitement to know after our short trip, I would come home to an ultrasound appointment to SEE OUR BABY.
5 Week Ultrasound Appointment
Leading up to each milestone is like a wave of anxiety following with you. Of course I am hopeful, happy, excited but when you have this many problems getting pregnant, I forgot just how much anxiety I had leading up to each weekly appointment. Being in such a pattern of heartbreak and disappointment you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. But wow. What a milestone. I headed in for my appointment and the doctor said, “There it is! Right where I left it!” I breathed a sigh of relief as we looked at the little circle that was our baby on the ultrasound machine. She explained that my appointment for 6 weeks we MIGHT be able to hear the heartbeat but to not freak out if we didn’t because we still had our 7 week appointment to hear it. So now we just waited for the next week. I still am continuing all my meds: 2x a day progesterone injections, 2 estrogen patches changed every other day, and my daily anti-inflammatory protocol meds (prednisone, claritin, pepcid ac and baby aspirin).
6 Week Ultrasound Appointment
At this appointment I got to see the flickering of the heart!!!! BIG BIG FEELINGS!!! No sound yet to detect but it was a great sign to physically see the heartbeat. At the start of 6 weeks is when my extreme nausea began. It was much worse than my pregnancy with Otis. I started diclegis (2 pills at night) to help combat my nausea and help me to function as a mom to a toddler.
7 Week Ultrasound Appointment
WE GOT TO HEAR THE HEARTBEAT!!!!!! Such a milestone to experience. An exciting week for growth. Another positive is that after 1 week of taking diclegis, I was starting to finally feel a bit better. The meds definitely took time to kick in for me. It was not immediate relief.
8 Week Ultrasound Appointment
Growth was all good! Feeling overall much better since starting my meds as well.
9 Week Ultrasound Appointment
Scan went great and I got to decrease my meds to the below!
1 progesterone injection a day
The nausea seemed to be creeping back late afternoon and just was not feeling great from afternoon to dinner time. I lost my appetite at night and it was hard to really get down any dinner. Lots of exhaustion and going to be early this week. Its the week I felt the WORST. Even despite being on the diclegis at night. But starting 10 weeks and 2 days I started to feel alot better again.
10 Week Ultrasound Appointment
Starting to finally feel better overall. But WOW. Massive exhaustion and just feeling so tired all of a sudden. Zero energy. Blake also said, “you look tired” so there is that. HA! Scan looked good and growth is on track!
We also did our genetic testing blood work that looks for genetic disorders as well as can signify gender (even though we already know) and will await those results. The nice thing is we already know we have a healthy genetically tested embryo but to be thorough we alway do this blood work regardless. And as always, each step is still nerve wracking as we move forward.
11 Week Ultrasound Appointment
Our little one is really starting to look like a baby on the ultrasound!!! Funny how things grow so quickly each week and really start to transform. Everything is looking great and finally weaning down meds again. VERY exciting.
No more patches
I was feeling pretty good overall and not sick. But still very tired as the day drags on. Since dropping the meds, I started to get a hormonal headache which lasted for 2 days. Luckily it passed quickly and is likely due to the fluctuation of my hormones from stopping certain meds etc. I do have the occasional nausea at night so I make sure to be having smaller meals as well as some protein snacks throughout the day to try to curb the nausea if I can.
12 Week Ultrasound Appointment with My Gynocologist
HOLY CRAP I made it to my gyno appointment. Because of the way the holidays fell this year (both Christmas and New Years) I was able to do my 12 week with my Gyno and then do my Fertility clinic 12 week the following week. I hope to be able to graduate next week from my fertility clinic but time will tell. Or should I say, my bloodwork will tell.
At my appointment I had a lengthy ultrasound to see baby. GUYS!!!! The tech said the baby was so accommodating and was literally showing off the most perfect little angles for photos. She was able to get some really cool 3d renderings of baby that you see above. SO. FREAKING. COOL!!! Everything looked great. Heartbeat is great. All great! I next met with the nurse practitioner, since I don’t see my doctor on my first appointment, and went over some basics and then I was on my way to get my prenatal blood panel. And that’s it! Such a milestone heading to my first obgyn appointment.
In terms of how I am feeling, let me tell you the nausea is creeping right back at night so around dinner time to bedtime I am kind of feeling miserable again. But I know that soon enough things will level out and I should be feeling much better over all again. I am so glad to still be taking the diclegis or I would REALLY feel like crap. Thank you modern medicine. Regardless of feeling crappy, I know it’s all for a good cause so you won’t find me complaining… that often
What’s Happening Now
We obviously have a long road ahead of us and many milestones to achieve with our precious little baby. I feel each week, you look at the next and think, “Wow! I will feel much better at “X” week.” Then “X” week hits and you will feel better and more confident the NEXT week. So many nerves when it comes to pregnancy at least for us around here. What I can say is we are so hopeful and with every week our hearts just grow bigger as the baby grows. Because of my appointments falling over the holidays, I have my 12 week appointment at my fertility clinic next week a little bit late and we are HOPEFULLY it will be my graduation day!! Hopefully all my levels look great when we do my bloodwork and I can finally stop all my medications. My fingers will be crossed for that moment. I told my doctor I will be happy when I never have to see her again. HA! I know that sounds mean but she TOTALLY understood what I meant. I see Dr. Moayeri at OC Fertility and her office works through the CCRM facility in Orange County. I can’t say enough good things about them if you are on the hunt for a doctor. Also have seen Dr. Sachdev there many times who is equally lovely.
To have gone through all of this infertility journey during normal times would have been excruciating and add in a global pandemic, thanks to Covid-19, it added an extra layer of complexity to everything. To think of all the women, going to their appointments alone, going through procedures alone… it just breaks my heart. Especially those going through it for their first time. These times and these struggles have only confirmed something I have found out through having Otis: That I have more courage than I could have ever thought possible. This process has almost been more excruciating knowing what a light and joy it has been to be a mother to Otis. It’s hurt extra hard knowing that we may never be able to give Otis a sibling. To be given the joy and privilege of being a mother the first time was my biggest dream come true. And to be given that opportunity again, I am just crying tears of joy. Over. and Over. And over again. It still feels sureal to think we are on the other side of this. Everyday I wake up and go to bed, looking at the ultrasound photo next to my bed, and the inspiration quotes Blake typed out for me that I still have hanging on a string on my wall. And the photo of our precious embryo and the photo of our actual transfer. Everyday I count my blessings. So coming this July 2021, Otis will become a big brother. And for that, Blake and I will never stop smiling.
I know how triggering a pregnancy announcement can be to those still struggling through their infertility or trying to get pregnant naturally. But know that miracles happen. And that most of all, when it might seem the darkest, hope remains. I hope through hearing our story, you know you are not alone going through infertility. It’s true that the storm is indescribable but the rainbow is always worth the struggle. My heart is with you all.
Otis pajamas in these photos are from my collaboration with Clover baby & Kids. It’s obviously VERY special since both Otis and our future little baby will be our little rainbows of joy. You bet I have ever size in there for when baby #2 comes to join us. You can use code: OTIS for 20% off most items if you want to celebrate your own little rainbow baby with me. Shop here.
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December 30, 2020 at 05:13PM
The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in Santa Barbara
Given that we are still in lockdown here in California, I know it’s strange to be sharing a trip here with you. We took a road trip to The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort more than a month ago and I am just getting around to gathering all these photos. Hopefully they can serve as a bit of inspiration for a road trip in 2021 when California opens back up again. I realize that not everyone has the ability to take a mid week staycation and times are very strange in this Covid pandemic and hard but I wanted to share my experience with you in case you are itching to find a safe and friendly place to visit. Blake and I did a lot of research on where we could drive to that wasn’t too far (since driving with a toddler is NOT fun) and a spot that has lots of open space and outdoor amenities so we can stay away from other people and safely be outside the whole time besides being inside of our room. We LOVE Santa Barbara and it’s about a 2.5 hour drive for us so right at or driving threshold with Otis.
For our trip, we decided to book a mid-week getaway since hotels are usually less busy during the week days. Blake was able to take a few days off from work so it was perfect. Check-in was done by walking up to a checkin window outside which was great and easy. Our room was great with a working wood fire place and view of the horse fields right out front. Everything was sanitized, wrapped noting it’s sanitation. I was impressed. Felt good to know that things were properly taken care of. We had a 1 bedroom room that actually had 2 bathrooms making it easy to put Otis’ travel crib in so we still had access to our bathroom without having to walk to another one on the property. We also used the fireplace every night. Such a cozy way to unwind from the day and such a treat since we don’t have a fireplace at home.
As far as food goes, breakfast and dinner were organized through reservations at their restaurant and I was able to secure outdoor dining. It was cold while we were up there but it wasn’t a problem since they had lots of heat lamps. Also to note, there were not weird tents surrounding the outdoor dining so it was truly outdoor with the addition of the heat lamps. Indoor dining was also open but we opted for outside for a safer experience. The food was SO freaking good. The dinner menu changed each night and the dessert menu was INSANE. I feel I would go back just for the dessert. We picked 2 things each night just to share and try something else and then took home a home baked chocolate chip cookie. For lunch, they have a casual restaurant you can get togo food which was actually great as well. I indulged in the bbq chicken sandwich which I got 2 days in a row because I loved it so much. There were also plenty of kid friendly options which made it easy for Otis. We would either sit at a table outside or bring lunch back to our room.
When it came to activities, traveling with a toddler can be unpredictable so we didn’t plan too much. They have a barn (which is all outdoors) that is open daily which was great to be able to walk in and pet and see the barnyard animals. Otis was obsessed with the duck and chickens. You didn’t need to schedule to go there so we could come and go as we please. We also brought Otis’ scooter so he could get his energy out and enjoy the outdoors. We visited the pool once which was heated but obviously it was cold so not ideal in the Winter. Otis did have a blast though. They have ride along horse rides for toddlers and little ones also. We tried to put Otis on a horse.. let’s just say, it didn’t go well. He started crying so we took him off. I posted a photo above for the .5 seconds that Otis was on the horse. Next time! I think the real gem of this ranch is the horse back riding which we sadly didn’t get to experience because we couldn’t do that with Otis. But it was still really cool to be able to see, pet and interact with the horses on the property daily. There is something to calming about being around those gentle giants. It was a highlight of each day waking up and seeing them from our bedroom.
Each day when Otis would nap, Blake and I would sit outside on our patio in our lounge chairs, grab a glass of wine, and just watch the horses and relax. The resort is a true hidden gem and feels like time just magically stands still. Nestled into the valley the mornings are foggy and cool and we would light our wood fire to heat the room.
One important thing to note was the my phone reception and internet was spotty. Yes we had access to wifi, but it was spotty for me personally. Also the rooms do not have a tv. So it’s truly about being mellow, enjoying each others company and being present in this special place. Did we miss the tv? YES. HAHA. But was still nice to chill and relax and just giving you a heads up if you plan to visit! Get into the ranch vibes people.
One of my favorite moments of the trip was our wagon ride to breakfast. You can check the hotels website for a list of daily activities for each day. On Wednesdays and Saturdays they have a wagon ride (or horseback ride) to The Old Adobe. You take the wagon to a ranch-style buffet breakfast at the historic Adobe Campsite (accessible only by horse or hay wagon), complete with campfire, fireside sing-alongs, cowboy poet, and famous buttermilk pancakes. The live music was SO freaking cool and it really felt like a slice of another time. The wagon ride itself was also a great way to really see how large the property is and to also get a glimpse of the other wildlife out there. This was by far one of my favorite experiences of the trip. Such a unique breakfast experience I highly suggest it if you visit.
Besides eating, watching the horses, playing on Otis’ scooter and visiting our barnyard friends, that was pretty much it on our agenda. It was the perfect escape and I can not wait to go back in the future. Was such a great gem of a spot to be able to be outside the whole time and enjoy some much needed relaxation as a family. Feel free to ask me any more questions you may have in the comments below.
Also! Something fun and random to note was that we had 2 monarch butterflies in their chrysalis state that we brought with us on our trip. We were lucky enough to see one hatch into a butterfly while we were there. Our butterfly friend Billy wanted to live at the ranch. So that was a really beautiful moment to share there. Hope he is enjoying life as a ranch butterfly.
hat: preston & olivia / dress: the great / sneakers: p448
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December 28, 2020 at 12:13PM
How to Build Strength with Your Yoga Practice
By Kyle Shrivastava
When people think about yoga, strength isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. But this doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be a part of your practice!
Traditional asana practices often feature long holds (which build endurance) and passive stretching (which increases passive flexibility). However, as yoga evolves we’re seeing a shift towards building power and increasing active flexibility through dynamic movement. Perhaps the most distinct shift is the strength that yogis are now cultivating. This is partly spearheaded by yogi’s bringing in lessons and knowledge from other athletic disciplines such as dance, martial arts, and calisthenics.
The physical practice of yoga is actually quite well-suited for strength building for two reasons. The first is that it utilizes repetition. When we repeat a motion, whether it be a Chaturanga or Warrior II, we progressively fatigue our muscles which allows them to grow back stronger. Secondly, each posture in yoga has numerous modifications that allow us to make it easier or more difficult. Therefore, as yogis build strength, it’s easy to find more demanding and difficult progressions that will allow us to continue that growth. By utilizing reputation and adaptation, we’re able to achieve the principal of progressive overhead (i.e. increasing demand on the musculoskeletal system to gain strength, size, and endurance) just as we would in any other athletic discipline.
However, gaining strength in yoga requires us to actually incorporate principles from exercise science into our approach to structuring our yoga practice. So let’s discuss how learnings from gymnastics and strength training can help us create yoga flows that build strength (and allow us to master fun new skills).
To very quickly summarize (before we get into what it all actually means) –– to gain strength with yoga, we first need to think about how strength is built. Let’s try and simplify this as much as possible.
Exercise science tells us that strength is equal to neural adaptations –– how our body responds to stimulus, plus cross sectional muscle growth –– the size of our muscles (Lowe, 2016). The former is more influential on our overall strength (Nathaniel et al, 2017). When talking about neural adaptations, we can think in terms of motor units (motor neurons sent by the brain to the muscles), and the type of muscle fibers being activated. The two ends of the motor unit spectrum are Low Threshold Motor Units (LTMUs) and High Threshold Motor Units (HTMUs). LTMUs correspond with slow twitch, endurance focused muscle fibers and take a weaker electrochemical brain signal to activate. HTMUs correspond with strength and power. These innervate fast twitch muscle fibers and are activated by a higher-intensity electrical impulse in the brain. Put simply, this means that if we want to gain strength (and nail that press to handstand), we need enough stress to activate HTMUs and fast twitch muscle fibers. Still with me? Great, let’s get started!
Putting this into practice
First, let’s get this out of the way–-building strength will not make you overly muscular or necessarily decrease your flexibility (unless you’re exclusively tossing barbells overhead in the weight room). So get that powerlifter image out of your head, and think more about the lean and muscular physique of a gymnast or circus performer.
So how do we do it? And how will this be different than how yoga is usually practiced? Here are a few ideas?
The idea behind this approach is that part of your strength-based yoga practice is going to be putting a heavier-than-usual stress on the body, which means it’s essential to warm up thoroughly without wasting energy or exhausting yourself. Just warm up until your heart rate is elevated and you’re sweating lightly. This could mean a few Sun Salutations, or short flow like one of these.
2) Do some skill-based work first.
Trying to nail Eka Pada Bakasana (one-legged crow) or a freestanding handstand? Do it after your warm-up. This is going to be the time when you have the most energy and focus to work on skill-based movements. In yoga, we often put these challenging positions as peak poses at the end of a practice. While not necessarily harmful, this doesn’t allow us to approach them with our full ability since we’re often already exhausted.
Please note that there are two exceptions to this approach. Firstly, if you’re working on drills to support difficult postures (i.e. handstand holds against the wall, etc.), do that after your skill work. Secondly, if you’re working on positions that mainly require flexibility (as opposed to strength or balance), place these later in practice once you’ve spent more time opening up.
3) Add some strength-based work early on.
After warming up and working skills, now is the time for your strength work. One of the best ways to do this is with a short but challenging (think very challenging) flow that you can repeat 1-3 times. After each repetition of the flow, take a long rest in Childs pose. Make the difficulty of this mini-flow match your (or your students) level, while throwing in one or two “reach” movements or postures. You/they will eventually adapt to the challenge. For an example of a challenging strength-focused flow for intermediate-advanced practitioners, check out a “Super Human” Strength sequence here.
4) Move through the rest of your regular practice after strength work.
After having used your maximum strength in your mini-flow, feel free to move through the rest of your practice as you usually would. This could focus on more dynamic movement, slow endurance-focused postures, breath work, or whatever other priorities you have.
5) End with additional mobility and flexibility work.
Since you’re putting an extra level of stress on the body during your difficult strength-focused flow, be sure to end by giving those parts of the body a little extra love. If you were hand-balancing, open up the wrist joints. If you were working the core, take some time in Sphinx pose. The extra work means you’ll need a little extra cool down to assure that you’re able to avoid injury and keep up with your practice.
Yogi’s are able to accomplish some amazing feats. But to do so, we have to be experimental and scientific about our approach to practice. Part of this should be drawing on what we know from other disciplines. Gaining strength in yoga isn’t difficult. However, it does require us to structure our flows so that we explicitly perform strength-focused movement at the right times, while using repetition, and adapting to use progressively harder variations of each posture as we grow.
Hopefully, these quick tips can help you along your journey? Have you tried our (or a similar) approach? Let us know about your experience!
Low, S. (2016). Part 1. In Overcoming gravity: A systematic approach to gymnastics and bodyweight strength. Houston, TX: Battle Ground Creative. https://stevenlow.org/overcoming-gravity/
Nathaniel D. M. Jenkins, Amelia A. Miramonti, Ethan C. Hill, Cory M. Smith, Kristen C. Cochrane-Snyman, Terry J. Housh, Joel T. Cramer. Greater Neural Adaptations following High- vs. Low-Load Resistance Training. Frontiers in Physiology, 2017; https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2017.00331/full
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December 21, 2020 at 08:13AM
Christmas Gifts for Toddlers Age 2+
Sharing the things we have on Otis’ Christmas list. For the most part I wanted smaller items more easily able to be stored since our house is literally filled with toys and games. Otis’ “big” gift this year is the ride-on recycling truck. The eyes and mouth move, it talks, you can recycle with it and Otis can drive it. HE IS GOING TO LOSE HIS MIND and I can’t wait to see Alfonso’s face when Otis is riding next to him. If you don’t follow me on instagram, Otis is obsessed with our garbage man Alfonso and nothing makes me happier than seeing Otis’ joy on trash day.
Another current Otis favorite: Pretend food! He loves chopping his pretend food with his fake knives so we wanted to load up his pretend food goodies. I am pretty excited for the pretend pizza and pretend sushi.
Another bigger item is this wooden parking garage. This item will be fun for him to play with all his hotwheels and other cars. It’s big but not too big so I can keep in the garage and bring it in when we want to play with it.
The last toy I want to call out is this Play House Dust, mop and sweep set. Otis is VERY into helping us “clean” the house and uses his pretend dyson vacuum whenever we use ours. This set will be cute to have him sweep up with us.
Click each image above to shop Christmas Gifts for Toddlers Age 2+
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December 08, 2020 at 12:13PM
Indoor/Outdoor Holiday Decor Ideas
Let’s be honest, my holiday decor has been up ALL OF NOVEMBER. This year, we decided to decorate before Thanksgiving because I love all the twinkling lights and cozy feeling of having everything decorated for Christmas. This was a transformation for outside and inside. We previously had our Halloween Decor up and wanted to transition that to Holiday. Obviously the pumpkins had to go bye bye (which Otis was sad about!) but I wanted to keep and rework the Pottery Barn lanterns into our decor. The flickering candles are just so pretty at night. I have been wanting to get some planters so this was a great opportunity to get some bigger neutral toned planters to fill with Christmas inspired colors and plants. We picked up the poinsettias and tree at Home Depot along with some rocks to put in the bottom of the planters. The rocks in the bottom hoist up the planters to the perfect height. Love the pop of red that matches our “MERRY” doormat. Our wreath and garland are great since they come cordless and I just put batteries in and set their timer to come on each day.
For inside, I pulled out the Pottery Barn stockings I bought last year and this time hung them on my tv unit with these command hooks. The command hooks were a brilliant hack to hang my stockings and not worry about Otis knocking some the stocking holders and getting hurt. Also the hooks are clear and I can take them off easily when the Holidays are over. A new addition this year are the twinkle lights. I AM OBSESSED. I wanted to keep everything lit with twinkle lights and still pretty clean and modern so these twinkle trees are the perfect addition. The clear glass cloche trees were a great neutral add on to my table top. I lit them with led candles and then weaved a twinkle light string behind everything. I also have flameless candles (that I have owned for years and still going strong) set with batteries and timers which give a nice little ambiance as well. This year I finally got a tree collar for our artificial Christmas tree and I think it classes it up a lot. Also since our tree is flocked, it tends to drop messy pieces around so the collar is easy to vacuum around!
I also bought these Santa mugs this year which both me and Otis are loving. They aren’t overly big so they fit my morning coffee perfectly. Otis’ mug is filled with whipped cream. He is living the dream!! His little Christmas truck toy set and trees is the cutest and I just love seeing his face light up with smiles. These family photos make me so happy. Love seeing Otis’ smile!! Also, many marshmallows were used for the making of these photos. Happy Toddler = Happy Parents.
Shop my Christmas Holiday Decor Here:
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December 07, 2020 at 05:13PM