Tag Archives: baby

How Parenting Changed Everything

Once upon a time, I was busy.  I worked full time, participated in not one, not two, but three team sports.  I walked the dog, I cooked, I cleaned, I did the laundry and grocery shopped, I prepped meals for days in advance, I did it all! I was Superwoman and conquering the world.  And then it happened, I had a kid.

Once my daughter came along, the entire world as I knew it changed.  At the beginning it’s all about the physical world around you.  You’re no longer working and are suddenly up two, three, four times a night to feed this screaming little “bundle of joy”.  You’re tired, you eat anything that’s easy to grab with one hand, and you watch horrible daytime TV without even realizing you’re doing it.  What you may not see immediately is that your emotional world has completely shifted as well.  You’ve put this new tiny person before yourself.  Baby always eats first, sometimes two and three feedings go by before you even have time to drink your cold decaffeinated coffee.  The fur-baby that was rapidly demoted to dog waits to go outside as patiently as she can, and when you stop long enough to notice what smells, you realize you haven’t had a shower in three days.  Myself, I’d stopped working out regularly, ate fast, prepackaged and processed foods, and didn’t sleep nearly enough to get as much cleaning, laundry, etc… done in a day as I could.

Of course it gets better, but the theme stays the same unless you acknowledge and change it.  The kid(s) is always going to be number one now, but part of making sure that you’re being the best parent you can be is to take care of yourself.  That looks different in each of our individual lives.  I chose to return to work on a part-time basis and I’m lucky that this was an option with my employer.  Of course there are days where I’d do anything to be in a quiet office with a Starbucks, but overall I feel like I have found my balance.

My balance looks like this: I’m a full time parent with a little bit of help.  We don’t have family living close by for assistance, so YMCA Child Minding sees my daughter twice a week.  This allows me to get in two solid gym workouts a week, all my other workouts happen at home – that’s my “me” time.  She participates in activities twice a week, and I try to schedule those on days where I’m already at the YMCA to give us some free time other days.  We camp, hike, and bike as a family so she sees an active family lifestyle every day.  Although she’s still pretty small (just two), I let her cook with me.  I feel like this teaches her that we cook healthy meals together at home.  I work three to four evenings when my husband gets home from work which allows me to still have time to be me instead of Mommy.  I’m able to utilize my education and to socialize with adults and not have the conversation turn into whatever the heck Curious George got himself into that morning.  I also let perfection go, I no longer live in a pristine house – it’s messy (not dirty!) and cluttered with toys.  Now my home is filled with love and laughter, so that’s a trade off I accept happily.

What do you miss? What is it that you slowly gave up but didn’t even realize until now?  What are you going to take time to do for you and only you?

Whatever your situation is, I’m here to tell you that you need, and I mean NEED to take that time for yourself.  Life is really busy if you let it be, and finding balance is an absolute essential to having your life be a happy one.


Are you getting enough ‘sunshine’?

Believe it or not, Canadians have some of the lowest Vitamin D levels in the world with only 10% achieving the optimal level [9]. Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is primarily absorbed through the skin. However at our elevation and longitude here in Calgary, the amount of time needed to spend with our skin exposed to the sun is far greater than most other places around the globe.

Not really a vitamin
Vitamin D isn’t technically a vitamin either. Vitamins are nutrients essential for sustaining life that are acquired through ingestion as they cannot be produced by the human body. As vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin then converts into a hormone (ultimately Calcitriol when combined with 7-dehydrocholesterol and processed through the liver and kidneys) for use in the body then it is not a vitamin by definition but more of a hormone precursor. Either way, the end product is a wonderful substance that is primarily responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate which leads to stronger bones and teeth. It has also been linked to an increasing list of chronic health problems such as bowel and colonic cancer, arthritis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What are the best sources?
Despite our geographical disadvantage, exposing your skin to the sun is still the most effective means of acquiring vitamin D (specifically, vitamin D3), especially during the noon hours when the UV index is at its peak. Because this is unfortunately impractical for a number of us, we must resort to foods and supplements to complete our recommended daily allowance (RDA). Egg yolks and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D (specifically, vitamin D2), all other common sources such as cow’s milk, infant formula and other beverages have vitamin D added (D2/D3). Even though these are reasonably good sources, it is likely that you will need to supplement with vitamin D which is easily done through pills, gels or liquids.

How much do I need?
The most accurate measure of vitamin D in your body is through blood work where the recommended volume of 25(OH)D is 100-150nmol/L [9]. This can typically be achieved by consuming between 1500-2000 IU per day (adult). Check the nutrition table on your vitamin D-fortified foods to calculate your intake or use an app such as www.dminder.info .

How Much is Too Much?
Upper limits (UL) for vitamin D vary quite a lot amongst the various institutions (between 4,000 and 10,000 IU) however the most consistent UL rest at around 1000 IU for infants, 2500 IU for children and 4000 IU for adults, including pregnant and lactating women [5].

Vitamin D and Testosterone
A widely-cited study conducted by a team from the Department of Internal Medicine at the Medical University of Graz, Austria (coincidentally the birthplace of Arnold Schwarzenegger), identified a significant increase in the amount of total, bioactive and free testosterone in a group of male subjects dosed with 3,332 IU of vitamin D per day for 1 year versus a placebo group which experienced no change [7]. Testosterone is vital for many daily functions in males and significant in supporting resistance and athletic training as well as sexual health.

Those most at risk of being deficient
The benefits of adequate vitamin D intake and the potential risks of being deficient extend beyond bone and dental health so it is important to know if you are at risk. A receptor recently identified in most tissue and cells in the human body adds credence to the argument for Calcitriol affecting a wide range of genetic and muscular functions. Those most at risk of complications arising from inadequate consumption are infants exclusively breastfeeding (breast milk is naturally low in vitamin D), adults over 50 (the skin becomes less adept at absorbing vitamin D from the sun), those with skin darkly pigmented with melanin (the skin is less able to create vitamin D from sun exposure), and those with medical conditions that affect the cells and organs e.g. Crohn’s, cystic fibrosis and celiac disease.

Too manageable to overlook
Although the upper and lower limits vary, the common thread is that we are almost universally deficient in our consumption of a vital nutrient that is very easy to address. A quick search of online pharmacies yields prices as low as $5 for a 3 month supply (2000 IU/day). With this level of accessibility and a low propensity for negative side effects, supplementing your diet with adequate levels of vitamin D makes too much sense to ignore. Get your sunshine today!

Geoff Starling
Strength & Conditioning Director
YMCA Eau Claire
gstarlin@calgary.ymca.ca


Are you getting enough ‘sunshine’?

Believe it or not, Canadians have some of the lowest Vitamin D levels in the world with only 10% achieving the optimal level [9]. Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is primarily absorbed through the skin. However at our elevation and longitude here in Calgary, the amount of time needed to spend with our skin exposed to the sun is far greater than most other places around the globe.

Not really a vitamin
Vitamin D isn’t technically a vitamin either. Vitamins are nutrients essential for sustaining life that are acquired through ingestion as they cannot be produced by the human body. As vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin then converts into a hormone (ultimately Calcitriol when combined with 7-dehydrocholesterol and processed through the liver and kidneys) for use in the body then it is not a vitamin by definition but more of a hormone precursor. Either way, the end product is a wonderful substance that is primarily responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate which leads to stronger bones and teeth. It has also been linked to an increasing list of chronic health problems such as bowel and colonic cancer, arthritis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What are the best sources?
Despite our geographical disadvantage, exposing your skin to the sun is still the most effective means of acquiring vitamin D (specifically, vitamin D3), especially during the noon hours when the UV index is at its peak. Because this is unfortunately impractical for a number of us, we must resort to foods and supplements to complete our recommended daily allowance (RDA). Egg yolks and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D (specifically, vitamin D2), all other common sources such as cow’s milk, infant formula and other beverages have vitamin D added (D2/D3). Even though these are reasonably good sources, it is likely that you will need to supplement with vitamin D which is easily done through pills, gels or liquids.

How much do I need?
The most accurate measure of vitamin D in your body is through blood work where the recommended volume of 25(OH)D is 100-150nmol/L [9]. This can typically be achieved by consuming between 1500-2000 IU per day (adult). Check the nutrition table on your vitamin D-fortified foods to calculate your intake or use an app such as www.dminder.info .

How Much is Too Much?
Upper limits (UL) for vitamin D vary quite a lot amongst the various institutions (between 4,000 and 10,000 IU) however the most consistent UL rest at around 1000 IU for infants, 2500 IU for children and 4000 IU for adults, including pregnant and lactating women [5].

Vitamin D and Testosterone
A widely-cited study conducted by a team from the Department of Internal Medicine at the Medical University of Graz, Austria (coincidentally the birthplace of Arnold Schwarzenegger), identified a significant increase in the amount of total, bioactive and free testosterone in a group of male subjects dosed with 3,332 IU of vitamin D per day for 1 year versus a placebo group which experienced no change [7]. Testosterone is vital for many daily functions in males and significant in supporting resistance and athletic training as well as sexual health.

Those most at risk of being deficient
The benefits of adequate vitamin D intake and the potential risks of being deficient extend beyond bone and dental health so it is important to know if you are at risk. A receptor recently identified in most tissue and cells in the human body adds credence to the argument for Calcitriol affecting a wide range of genetic and muscular functions. Those most at risk of complications arising from inadequate consumption are infants exclusively breastfeeding (breast milk is naturally low in vitamin D), adults over 50 (the skin becomes less adept at absorbing vitamin D from the sun), those with skin darkly pigmented with melanin (the skin is less able to create vitamin D from sun exposure), and those with medical conditions that affect the cells and organs e.g. Crohn’s, cystic fibrosis and celiac disease.

Too manageable to overlook
Although the upper and lower limits vary, the common thread is that we are almost universally deficient in our consumption of a vital nutrient that is very easy to address. A quick search of online pharmacies yields prices as low as $5 for a 3 month supply (2000 IU/day). With this level of accessibility and a low propensity for negative side effects, supplementing your diet with adequate levels of vitamin D makes too much sense to ignore. Get your sunshine today!

Geoff Starling
Strength & Conditioning Director
YMCA Eau Claire
gstarlin@calgary.ymca.ca


You Might be Overfeeding Your Toddler

An insightful article written by a mom (Michele Zip) about how we approach feeding our young ones. Good insight and good tips for moving forward with teaching your family how to eat with a mindful, healthy approach.

“…It seems though that maybe, just maybe, we are overfeeding our kids. Big surprise, right. We are a nation of super-sizing. Maybe our warped minds are just trying to get too much food down our kids’ throats and we need to do some portion control. Yes, that’s exactly it.

Our toddlers and preschoolers still have tiny little bellies. Their stomach is about the same size as their clenched fist. Tiny! So let’s take a look at these guidelines given to us by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics…”

Read the full article on the Huffington Post Parents Canada website, brought over from The Stir blog.


Pacifier Health: Germy?

Can bacteria on babies’ binkies be linked to crankiness? A recent study suggests just that!

In an article by Bonnie Rochman on the Time Healthland website, the study that recently came out along with some others with similar conclusions are examined:

“… the latest research suggests: that binkies can be teeming with bacteria, yeast and mold that can actually sicken babies rather than soothe them.

Pacifiers breed biofilms, a slimy slick of bacteria that can affect…”

Something for parents to consider? Read the full article and share your reaction and thoughts.


For Yoga Teachers re: Moms in the Class

Here’s an interesting article on MindBodyGreen.com by Kimberlee Stedl about yoga and new moms. There is information both for the instructor and for the new mom:

“Before I had a child, my approach to teaching yoga was very different from the expectations I now have today as a student. I realize now some mistakes I made, such as taking everyone’s time for granted and letting class run over, and hope to share my advice with other teachers.”

Click here to read the article in full on www.mindbodygreen.com.


Bathtime for Babies

In this article on AboutKidsHealth.ca, writers Hazel Pleasants and Andrew James talk all about bathing your baby:

“When it comes to normal newborn baby care, nothing is as scary for new parents as bath time. Don’t worry about putting baby in a tub for the first couple of weeks, until the umbilical cord stump has fallen off and the navel area has healed. During these early days, a sponge bath will do…”

Click here to read the full article on www.aboutkidshealth.ca.


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