The 7-min February Challenge

My sister convinced me to do this one.  It’s 7 min, she said.  There’s an app for it that you can download to your iPad, she said.

Of course, I actually looked up the 7 min workout and it isn’t really 7 min– you’re supposed to do 3 or 4 repetitions of it, which brings you to 21 or 28 min, really (not counting resting).

But 7 min of intense exercise is 7 min more than I am currently doing, and I’m fairly sure it will be challenging enough for me that I’ll be getting some health benefit, at least initially.  I am willing to bet it will push me beyond my normal endurance.  We’ll see.  (You’ll see.)

So what is this 7 min workout?  It’s this thing that the NYTimes popularized in this article.  You do a whole bunch of stuff very intensely for a short amount of time.  It is unpleasant, but relatively brief.   You can download the app here.  (Yes, I know it has plenty of detractors with valid reasons for detracting.  And no, I won’t push myself beyond mildly unpleasant because no, I don’t want to hurt myself.  Also I will allow myself a day off each week if I think I need to heal.)

Why am I doing it?  Because it’s winter and I’m a lump because the pool is closed and it’s cold outside.  This seems like as good a challenge as any.  And I can take 7 min out of my day (most likely after work) to torture myself for 28 days straight.  We’ll see if that leads to anything else in the future.

For those who haven’t been following us forever, why February?  Because February is the best month for challenges!  January may have that post-holiday guilt and new year optimism, but February has the bigger benefit of being shorter.

Note from #2:  My partner did the 7-minute circuit one time and it’s a doozy of hellish awfulness.  Feel free to modify to your own ability level!  Definitely start with only one 7-minute cycle.  I can’t even make it through one of them.  I am a wuss.  I am ok with that.  But 7 minutes is not very long to put up with things for a long-term gain! [EDIT: he says he actually did it 5 times before I saw him in his state of exhaustion.  So it’s not *that* bad.]

Anyone else doing February challenges?

Overstimulated October

I can handle two children (or maybe it’s just DC2– DC1 is pretty chill) or I can handle students being around, but not both.

I’m not used to this.

I’m not used to needing the door closed.  To need silence without background noise.

Every day is exhausting.  I come home, play a bit with the children, help DC1 with hir chores, and then I feel like crawling under a desk.  Please everybody just leave me alone.

When DC1 was this age, I could still get work done if I wasn’t actively doing chores or taking care of the toddler.  When DC2 was younger and napped once in the evenings I didn’t feel so incredibly overwhelmed.  When school was out of session for the summer I was mostly ok.

It’s not that there’s too much work to do.  It’s not even that my brain has gotten too much work (although that happens sometimes).  Heck, I’m not even as sleep deprived or as frequently sick as I was when DC1 was a toddler.  I’m just completely overstimulated.

Some of it is introversion, and I seem to have become more introverted.  But it’s not just introversion.  I need silence.  I even asked DH to turn off Netflix the other night because I couldn’t handle the noise.  Because he’s a darling he’s taken to listening with headphones.

I wonder if this is going to go away or if I’m going to need to make a big change to my life.  It’s limiting not wanting to see so many people, to avoid talking to people.  I dread most social engagements and have been saying no to a lot of work activities just because I don’t want to be around people.  I want to be alone.  Someplace quiet.

I do love my family very much… but these days I love them most in small doses or when they’re sweetly sleeping.

(#2 says: I call that “October”.  It is officially Exploding Head Syndrome Month and begins Sept 17th.  I relate to Milburn.  Why do you think I put that ear-protection headgear on my wishlist?  It’s so I don’t have to hear things.)

Yeast Extract

I shake my tiny fist at Whole Foods.

MSG is nasty nasty stuff that gives me a headache.  I hate it.  I can always tell when I’ve ingested it because the headache is pretty distinctive… similar to both a pressure headache and a dehydration headache but not quite the same as either.

We went to Whole Foods and got a whole bunch of wheat-free junk food, including some nummy cheese flavored nuts.

Nummy, addictive cheese flavored nuts.

That gave me a nasty headache.  At a time I had to stay at work for several hours.


So, looked at the label.  Yeast Extract strikes again.  The “healthy food” version of MSG to fool people who are checking the labels for MSG.  I hate it when we forget to check for that.  We’re good about not buying the few fru-fru products our local grocery store offers that have it, but totes forgot to check when we looked at the ingredients at WF.  For shame, Whole Foods.  For shame, addictively nummy nut company.  I could eat your damn nuts if they didn’t have that yeast extract crap in them.  Luckily we also got some equally nummy but not-headache-inducing imported nut mixes from Spain (now labeled “Mine” rather than “Ours”).  You don’t need MSG to be nummy, just to be addictive and to give me headaches.  Grrr.

Note:  #2 loves MSG and is totes unaffected by it.  Lucky her.

Do you ever screw up when you buy food?

A little bit of dentistry just for CPP

Because he loves it when we post about floss.

Two things.

1.  Tenure-related stress causes cavities.  Two cavities and a fracture.  Fun times.

2.  Apparently Glide floss does not get off enough stuff from between teeth and is a sub-optimal floss even though it doesn’t snap like regular floss.  However, as I have been using Glide floss for 5 years I said I did not believe that was the problem and asked what else could lead to gingivitis and plaque build-up the likes that have never been seen in my biannual (biennial?) twice yearly cleanings.  She suggested anemia… which I have had.  I’m on vitamins again.

So yeah, stress and anemia are bad for your teeth.

Do you have anything tooth related to share?  Then totally post it here try to send it directly into #1’s mind, because it icks out #2.  Thanks.

Things to be paranoid about

  • Plastic
  • chemicals
  • sunscreen
  • organic food
  • artificial sweeteners

The problem with a lot of these things isn’t that the research says one thing or another but that the research doesn’t KNOW.

With something like standard vaccines, we know and there’s good research and a long track record (yes, we’ve read the research and we are pro-)… this other stuff, we really don’t.  There may be small bad effects that affect certain sub-populations or that are dangerous in large quantities.  Research on small animals is mixed, etc.  It’s just really hard to say one way or the other whether this stuff is completely safe or not.

What I generally do is avoid what I can but don’t freak out if I can’t avoid it.  Unless I’m pregnant or nursing… then I seem to care a bit more.  Dratted hormones.

So we don’t use plastic if there’s a better alternative.  Our glasses are glass and our bottles are metal.  For cleaning we mainly use vinegar and seventh generation stuff, which also has the direct benefit of not hurting my sensitive skin.  For sunscreen we pay extra for the better rated sunblock.  For food we lean towards whole foods and avoid additives.  We buy organic when it isn’t too much more expensive or when the item is listed on a dirty dozen list.  We avoid artificial sweeteners mainly because they taste nasty, but we’d avoid them anyway, sticking with things that don’t require sweetening or small amounts of sugar or fruit juice.

Some of these things do seem to have direct benefits even when the science is mixed.  HFCS is very controversial, but when I stopped eating foods with it I immediately felt better.  Whether that’s the HFCS or all the correlated things they put into processed foods that also happen to have HFCS, I can’t say.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter if it’s correlation or causation, you just need an indicator of what to avoid.  Cutting out HFCS also helped me cut down on sugar intake because my sweetness craving went down.  (Not saying most people need to cut sugar– I have specific insulin problems.)

With these uncertain things, we don’t tend to know WHAT is actually making the difference, but we do know that people who eat healthy fresh unprocessed foods and exercise and stay out of direct sun and etc. etc. etc. have better health outcomes.  Is it because they don’t take the marshmallow?  Or because they have less stress?  Or health insurance?  We really can’t say.  So if it doesn’t hurt to do a bundle of things correlated with healthy outcomes even if we don’t know what actually causes the healthy outcomes, well, why not.  On the other hand, it doesn’t make sense to make too many sacrifices for uncertain science.

Moderation in all things.  Plus, we know long-term stress has direct bad outcomes on health.  So do what you can and don’t stress about the rest.

What are you paranoid about?  Nothing?  Have your paranoias changed over time?

Sunscreen (or maybe sunblock)

So before I left the natural parenting group, they convinced me that modern sunscreen is evil.  I’m not sure whether or not it’s true that sunscreen is actually evil, but what can you do?

Anyhow, there’s this webpage that rates sunscreens for toxicity.

The problem with it, the natural mothers say, is that companies will game the system and will use similar new or untested chemicals that aren’t included in the ratings list.

So what do they recommend?  Old fashioned sunscreens sunBLOCKS! that are mostly zinc oxide (and not micronized zinc oxide or whatever that term is).  These include:

Badger (we special order from Amazon)

California Baby (you can get this one at Target)

and I think that’s it.

These sunscreens tend to leave your kid kind of pale, and they’re much thicker than regular sunscreen.  But there’s my PSA.  If you’re worried about sunscreen toxicity, those are the brands to go with.  According to some possibly crazy ladies and a website.

#2 says:  NOTE  distinguish sunscreen (which works by chemical reaction with your skin) from sunblock (more of a barrier method than chemical, and often more natural minerals) (guess which one is better for those with skin problems?)

#1 notes that none of the other websites seem to distinguish between the two, so she thinks that sunblocks are a type of sunscreen, a subset of the greater sunscreen category.

#2:  bzzzt, wrong.  People tend to use them interchangeably but those of us with complex skin problems aggravated by sun exposure and allergies know the difference.  As summer approaches, vampiric #2 stocks up on sunblock and stays far away from sunscreen.

Tips for nursing and working

An earlier post on nursing addressed issues of supply.  Check it out for what could go wrong with your pump.

Working mom resources: is a great resource for all things nursing.  Unfortunately it isn’t as thorough on the issues of pumping and working while nursing as it is on issues of say, poo.  A great resource is the book, Nursing Mother, Working Mother: The Essential Guide for Breastfeeding and Staying Close to Your Baby After You Return to Work.

Here’s some brain-dump in Q&A fashion.

My baby won’t take the bottle and I have to start work in a week:

The baby is more likely to take the bottle if mom is not in the house.  A good time to introduce it is when you are not around and the baby is sleepy.  Often another caretaker (dad, the nanny, a grandparent etc.) can sneak the bottle in at that time.  Additionally, some babies will be more likely to take the bottle facing out rather than facing in (and some vice versa), depending on if they want the bottle experience to be similar to or different from nursing.  Similarly, if you can get away with never warming the bottle you’re in better shape than if the baby insists on it being warmed, but if warming it up is what it takes, get a bottle warmer.  (NEVER heat milk up in the microwave– it causes pockets of burning.)

My baby doesn’t drink much from the bottle, but drinks plenty from the tap:

It’s recommended to introduce the bottle sometime between 3-6 weeks.  Earlier and they might develop nipple preference/confusion because bottles flow faster than breasts (this is rare, but a huge hassle when it does happen).  Later and they might reject the bottle entirely.

Even if the baby doesn’t drink much from the bottle at daycare that’s not a big deal.  Look up reverse-cycling.  So long as they’re wetting, pooing, and gaining weight, as appropriate for their age group they’re good.  Nursing at drop-off and pick-up is great too, especially if you’re worried.  Cosleeping also helps working moms because they can nurse while you sleep and your sleep cycle gets synched up theirs.

I don’t have a fridge/freezer at work, what do I do?:

Breastmilk is amazing stuff.  So long as you don’t freeze it, it will stay quite happy at room temperature or cooled for quite some time.  The freezer-thing kit that comes with your pump should be enough until you can get the fresh milk home.  The same is not true for milk that has been frozen.  So it is better to not use the freezer at work if there’s a chance the milk could melt on the way home.

My milk separates in the fridge, is that a problem?:

Nope, the cream is just rising to the top, just like cow’s milk.  It is still good to go in the bottle.  Go ahead and shake it a bit.

I don’t get more than a couple ounces out each time I pump:

Not a problem!  That is totally normal.  It just means you don’t have a big oversupply.  You are doing fine.  I never got more than 2 oz out a pump unless I was at a conference sans baby and had infrequent opportunities to pump.  I would pump extra on weekends and if my supply was running low I would do a session in the middle of the night or before my morning nursing.  My baby ate nothing but breast milk for hir first 8.5 months and I pumped until 18 months.

Working moms, anything else to add?  Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Stories?


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