thoughts on self-care, vol. 1: the basics

November 30, 2012

i have more to say about this topic, so i’ll just put it into a few posts.  perhaps one every week or so.  i need to take a little bit of time to figure out how to get back to feeling a little bit more rested and centered.  

as i mentioned yesterday, i’m a little tired.  i just ditched my planned run [bad decision, see below] and spent the last hour sprawled out on the couch, unable to get up and put away the dishes or even think about making dinner [another rather lame decision – also see below].

sometimes i feel like my brain has only two modes these days:  WORK/TO-DO and MOM.  the gears never seem to stop turning, even when i’m trying to relax.  i am thankful that i actually can focus well at work, as i have a fair amount to juggle right now [and the finite nature of fellowship is starting to come to light!].  but i still have a hard time concentrating on other things.  i’m not thrilled about it, but i finally understand the meaning of what some refer to as ‘brain fog’.

it might be hormones — high prolactin!  suppressed gonadotropins!  i have no doubt that these things have an impact.  but in addition, perhaps i’m just a little bit stuck.  i feel ready to set some personal goals again and to start doing fun/social things for me, and i actually think i have at least a little bit of time.  now instead, i seem to be limited in energy, clarity, and focus.

[it’s probably a new-mom faux pas to admit it, but what i’d really like is just one day off from work . . . WITH daycare.   sadly, i used up all of my vacation time on maternity leave!]

self-care goals: part 1
so it’s a bit back-to-basics, but i think part of the problem is just basic lack of self-care right now.  in order to function a little better i need to:

fit in exercise on a regular basis.  in the past month, i’ve been far less active than usual.  part of this was a little burnout after the half-marathon, i think.  some of it was my back injury [which is now totally better!].  but then . . . i just kind of got used to not being active, and just skipped working out on any evening that it wasn’t totally ‘convenient’ – which, as you might imagine, is most nights.

i know this does not hold true for everyone, but breastfeeding seems to be a major metabolic effort for me.  so, i don’t really need workouts right now to burn calories.  however, i miss the energy boost and mental clarity that seems to go hand in hand with exercise for me.  i just feel like a better version of myself when i am physically active on a regular basis.  and so:  i need to get back to my normal pattern.

goal:  something 4-5 days/week, even if it’s just a 3-mle run or 25-minute strength workout.  eventually i would LOVE to go back to doing this in the am.  but this may have to wait until i stop pumping . . .

✔ get enough sleep.  ideally, for me this is 8 hours.  this is a declaration:  from this point on, i am not staying up late just to be able to pump more.   the ‘no formula!’ ship has sailed at this point anyway, so WHAT am i doing worrying about supplementing 4 vs 6 oz!?  i am sure that sleep deprivation hasn’t helped my milk supply, so it’s possible that i’ve been shooting myself in the foot doing this anyway.

goal:  i am going to aim for a 9:30pm bedtime — at least until annabel’s habit of waking up for good in the ‘5s’ is definitely in the past.

✔ eat well  focusing on real food.  i.e.:  not cereal, or crackers, or chocolate.  i need a lot of calories for breastfeeding, and it has astounded me how much i have needed to eat over the past several months just to maintain my weight.  but because of this, i have fallen into some terrible habits of just shoving anything that tastes good into my mouth at any given time.  this needs to change for 3 reasons:

— i will not be breastfeeding forever.  in fact, since i am planning on ending my time with the pump in january, my needs will be lower pretty soon.  if i continue to consume sugar at the rate that i have been, i am sure i would not appreciate the result.

i wouldn’t want annabel [or any baby] to eat the way i have been.  kind of a double-standard to be SO obsessed with breast milk and homemade babyfood and then existing on carbs ‘n’ cheese, no?  i absolutely need to be setting a better example, and pretty soon i hope to be preparing food for both of us at once, anyway.

i cannot be helping my energy level on my current diet.  in fact, i often feel like i am running on empty lately — which is what sends me to the sugar snacky-type foods.  definitely a vicious cycle.

goal:  more substantial MEALS, more whole foods, less reliance on processed convenience foods, and less sugar.  i need to do this in a way that will not take up more cooking/prep time.  i am already convinced my you all that i need a slow cooker 🙂  any other tips are welcome . . .


  • Reply @janieliz19 March 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    SLOW COOKER! (I know you’re convinced, but seriously….) and also this:, along with her 2 cookbooks. Serious lifesavers.

  • Reply Angela March 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Ah, breastfeeding- I remember when my daughter was first born it was a daily struggle to keep on, then a weekly one— I made it to 6 months… And it was totally a relief to stop. I even noticed that my mood improved— I really feel like hormones affected me a little negatively while I was breastfeeding– can’t prove it, but I felt so different; maybe if I had worked out more it would have been different— but man it seriously felt like there was no time— or if there was it was cutting into sleep or chill time, which were both valuable– I feel like as a parent there is always a time struggle, I find myself thinking at nap time – ok, clean, exercise or nap!? I generally choose cleaning or nap. I now have another child but I’m staying home– and I still feel the same struggle with time management!

  • Reply lfwfv March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    I cook pretty much once a week on Sunday nights. We eat vegan, so i don’t have to worry about meat spoiling. I cook a lot of one pot meals….things like a thick marinara sauce (often with beans, or you could do meat) and then mix cooked pasta right in, rice and bean curry dishes with veggies and everything in it., thick lentil soups, split pea soup, potato soup, mashed potatoes etc.. We also cook up a huge batch of brown rice that we can just spice up with condiments, or mix with salsa, and stock the fridge with fresh veggies and fruit for supplementing. It works great and minimizes my weekly prepwork so we can eat totally from-scratch, wholesome meals all week, without the day-to-day stress of cooking/prepping. I also make homemade granola bars once per week that contain nothing but oats and whole fruit.

    4 cups rolled oats
    9 very ripe (black spots) bananas
    1 cup applesauce
    2 tsp each ginger and cinnamon
    2 tsp vanilla
    1 tsp each nutmeg and cloves

    Puree everything except the oats in a food processor, mix with the oats. Preheat oven to 375. Pour oat/fruit mixture into 2 non-stick square silicone pans. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Remove from pan when cooled and cut each pan into 8 slices. They keep beautifully in the fridge for 1 week, and they freeze well too.


  • Reply Aly March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    I just want to say I love your posts. I love how you examine your life and try to make things better. You’ve helped me get more out of mine, true story. Thank you.

  • Reply oldmdgirl March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Sarah: Go to bed.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      about to. pumping 🙂 but i will be IN BEDDDDD by 9:30!! promise.

  • Reply Seattlegirl March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    I think it’s completely normal– and healthy– to want time off for a day just for you. Is there a way you could hire a babysitter for a weekend day when you’re not on call, even if just for a couple of hours, for relaxation? I understand wanting to spend as much time with your little one when you’re not working, but the important thing is quality time, not the quantity of time.

    Traveling over the holidays, even without a baby, is stressful and exhausting. You are doing so much! I hope you get to take a personal day soon.

  • Reply runnerstrials March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    I’m so glad you addressed the breastfeeding/ sometimes too much weight loss thing. I swear I can tell every time Wyatt goes through a growth spurt b/c it becomes nearly impossible to maintain my weight. Every other month or so my weight noticeably drops and gaining it back involves cutting back on running and eating a TON. I never anticipated this to be a problem, but it’s SO draining!

  • Reply Chelsea March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    I’m actually super worried about the healthy eating thing myself. I haven’t gained much weight during pregnancy (only up 17lbs at 37 weeks) so it’s been really easy to justify eating a steady diet of not-so-healthy food. The scary thing is that it’s become a real habit. Last night we didn’t have any sweet snack food in the pantry, and I wanted something SO BAD that I opened the box of granola bars we had put in the hospital bag for Daniel. No self control! Event though I plan on breast feeding, I’m probably going to have a scheduled C-section, which means being pretty inactive for 6-weeks post-surgery, and I’m concerned that if I don’t change my sugar-loving ways, I’m not going to lose the baby weight. Plus.. yeah… I wouldn’t feed my baby this crap. Why am I eating it myself?

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      if you only gained 17 lbs in pregnancy there’s not going to be much baby weight to lose 🙂 i had a net gain of 19 lbs by the end and it honestly came off with 0 effort despite stuffing my face constantly. i now, in fact, am probably under where i need to be from a fertility perspective, though i am definitely not underweight (nor quite ready yet for #2 🙂 ). i definitely wouldn’t stress over it just yet! in the beginning, you’ll be eating whatever you can get your hands on and it will be fine, i promise 🙂

  • Reply Brittnie March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Like another commenter mentioned, I love how you are open and honest about your feelings and continually try to make improvements in different areas.

    I am not a working mom, I stay at home, but I find I am struggling a bit with all of this as well. I find that when Clara is napping I have to scramble around to get things done. I really have to decide (at the beginning of every day) what is most important for the day, or I just end up wasting a bunch of time.

    I am still exclusively pumping (not sure if this is considered breastfeeding) and thus still hanging on to the last 5-8 pregnancy pounds. I have heard sometimes your body, when breastfeeding, hangs on to that last little bit. The majority of the weight came off SO fast but now it’s at a standstill. Not worried about it, but I also am not active at all. I really really want to try to incorporate exercise (of some kind!) into my day. The problem is I don’t know when???? I hate putting Clara in the stroller during typical nap-times as she never sleeps as well in the stroller as when she is in her bed. Then during her wake times I feel like I need to be playing with her vs her sitting in a stroller, ya know? Need to work on this!!

    • Reply Liz March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

      I used to feel the same way about the stroller- but I think the babies really like and benefit from the fresh air. I have started doing two walks a day- in the morning I carry my son in the ergo (which might help you feel less guilty) and in the evenings before dinner we do a short stroller walk. Altogether we cover about 3 miles which is a decent workout for me and he loves it. Win win.

  • Reply Erica March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    We had two slow cooker meals this week; one was chili that became our lunches and the other was lentil soup of which we are freezing portions to become easy meals. We use ours about once a week. We have developed about 10 "easy" meals which can be thrown together in about 10-15 minutes. It helps that we don’t eat a lot of meat, so most of our meals involve heating up can of beans or cooking a block of tofu, which takes a lot less time than chicken (which if we do eat is on the weekends). Also, we roast veggies on the weekends to use in meals during the week.

    I actually have been meaning to email you about how formula has been going. Have you been supplementing with a bottle on the weekends too? I think I’m going to start with formula next week. My supply has tanked after Thanksgiving travel (this happens every time we travel and I cannot figure out why) and the lab work has gotten a lot busier, so I’ve only been pumping twice at work instead of three times. I also wanted to see if you you had time to get together, although with the holidays coming up I know this time of year is hectic!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      SO funny that we cross contacted each other!! would love to hang out.

      as for formula (writing it here in case anyone else was wondering), it’s going well. she gets only 3-6 oz formula per day – everything else is either pumped milk or breastfeeding, and seems to be satisfied. i didn’t have to supplement with any bottles during the 6 days i was with her for thanksgiving except a couple of oz of formula added to pumped milk when i went on my interviews. she is a SUPER chunky babe at this point — you will see! — so i know i am not starving her 🙂

  • Reply Griffin March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    On Wednesdays, my day home with the twins but without our nanny, I often make one crock pot meal that feeds us Thursday/Friday and make an actual dinner. If I cook Sundays to include leftovers, I’ve effectively made 6 dinners with only two cooking days. Sunday cooking = 2 dinners, Wednesday cooking = 3-4 dinners. I also end up freezing a lot of crokpot meals to stock up our quick meals stash.

  • Reply Solitary Diner March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    I love how you describe it as "only" a 3-mile run or 25-minute strength workout. I’ve yet to achieve either of those things since starting medical school six years ago, and I have no dependents other than my cats. With respect to the energy boost and mental clarity that you get from exercise, is there something else that can give you a similar effect on nights when you don’t feel like exercising? Maybe a quick walk outside +/- Annabel or a 10-minute shower while Josh watches the babe?

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