Author Archive for Amy

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Is the Uber-Fit Facebook Mom of 3 Sending the Right Message?

ExcuseA very fit mom of three has recently caused quite a bit of controversy over a photo of herself and her three young children she posted on Facebook. In the photo the 32 year old, Maria Kang, poses in a skimpy workout outfit to reveal washboard abs and an incredibly toned physique. Her three young sons surround her on the floor with ages attached to each, 8 months, 2 years, and 3 years.

However, the part that seems to have set off the viral spiral of this photo is the seemingly accusatory remark that looms over this attractive young family, “What’s your excuse?”

Since we now live in an age of social media where anything seemingly harmlessly posted on Facebook, tweeted or Instagramed is no longer personal and can quickly go viral in a cause an otherwise ordinary person to be an overnight web sensation with good or bad publicity. Maybe this young women did not mean to offend her followers but when a posting like this takes off to the mass public, people feel compelled to share their opinions and emotional reactions to it and the originator of the post/photo.

In my opinion, I do believe it’s commendable that this healthy mom has been able to achieve such an incredibly fit physique after having three young children in less than four years. However she is by far the exception to the average woman’s body after three kids and the caption, “What’s your excuse?”, comes off as accusatory and egotistical rather than inspiring as she says claims she intended it to be. Maybe a better caption should have read “You can do it too!” or “Love the Babies but shed the Baby Fat!”

She probably could have cashed in big on a postpartum exercise DVD or established a new career as a top personal trainer, inspirational speaker, blogger, etc. Instead a remark reading the wrong way seems to just add more shame to the rest of us with young babies, especially those of us who can never seem to kick those last 10 pounds (or more) of post baby weight.

Kang explains, “I wanted to inspire people,” she explains, adding that the “What’s your excuse?” part was simply a borrowed, popular phrase that’s been used in various “fitspiration” campaigns. “I wanted to say, ‘I know you think you don’t have time if you have kids. But if I can do it, you can do it, too.’” Maybe that caption would have translated better…

Kang, of Sacramento, California, is a former pageant queen and fitness competitor who founded the nonprofit Fitness Without Borders in 2007. Ironically, she’s also a recovering bulimic. Kang says she understands why some people reacted so defensively. “I think people struggle with their weight. When you add on being a mother — and the pressures we face to have it all and be everything, including fit — the expectations are so high. I think some moms saw the picture and just said, ‘This is ridiculous.’” But still, she says, “I felt really frustrated. Being called a bad mother and a bad person definitely hurts.”

Although Kang posted this photo a year ago to her Facebook page, it only recently went viral. She recently reposted it to her 72,000 followers along with a “sort of” apology.

“I’m sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way. I won’t go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two businesses, have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer. What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It’s yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn’t create them. You created them. So if you want to continue ‘hating’ this image, get used to hating many other things for the rest of your life.”

This apology/response which started off well seemed to end with the same accusatory tone her initial photo caption embodied. Clearly this addendum did not help her case to water down the haters. On the other hand her critics have not been too tactful in their retaliation calling her a “bully” and blaming her for the body shaming problem in the country, etc.

I think the learnings we can take from this are that moms everywhere feel they need support not criticism, especially from other moms. Women have long struggled with body image, multitasking and balancing life with children, work and other demands, let alone working out to achieve their pre-baby body or better. It is encouraging and inspiring to see that it can be done, albeit by a gorgeous beauty queen mom who may be a few years younger than many of us middle aged moms who have to work harder with bodies that are less forgiving after multiple pregnancies. Now I too am going on a bit of a rampage, although hopefully not a hateful one. I do admire someone that can achieve this level of fitness with or without children and marvel even more that a mom of three young children who can accomplish this feat (assuming there’s not a lot of airbrushing going on here).

But again, I really don’t think her caption or tone of apology was appropriate. I also think that in this social media frenzy age we have regular ordinary people becoming celebrities overnight with viral photos and videos. These ordinary people are not used to this level of media attention and are usually totally blindsided and unprepared for the sudden level scrutiny and feedback that follows. Maybe we should think twice before tweeting or Facebook posting something that may sound hurtful or mean. Having babies and taking care of children is an amazing job and a tremendously challenging job that is a lifetime commitment. Most of us are surprised by the level of responsibility and commitment as well as the level of love and attachment we feel for our kids. It’s sometimes hard to find the time or justify the time to take care of ourselves, our health and our bodies. But we should take care of ourselves and we should support and not shame one another.

Is Seafood Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?

Once you’re pregnant, everything you do in your life that affects your health needs to be examined closer to ensure the healthy development of your baby. Nutritional needs top the charts with increased attention to your diet which may be further complicated by morning sickness which, for some women, can last the entire nine months of pregnancy.

It comes as no surprise that lean protein is an optimal source of nutrition for anyone’s diet, but especially an expecting mom. In terms of calories per portion, seafood such as fish, particularly of the salmon variety which packs in those important fatty acids with low calories per portion can be a great choice. However, many pregnant women steer clear from seafood altogether with all the news we hear about mercury levels being dangerously high and a risk for the health of a developing fetus.

While some seafood may be best to avoid during pregnancy, it is not a great idea to cut out seafood altogether as they contain many nutrients that are vital to our baby’s health and development. As the saying goes don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. In the same notion don’t throw all the fish out of your diet with the worries of mercury and contamination, but do choose wisely. There are plenty of great seafood choices that are very beneficial to our developing fetus’ health as well as our own.

For starters, omega-3 fatty acids aid in brain development and provide high levels of lean protein. Fish can serve as a powerful weapon against birth defects when choosing the low mercury varieties such as salmon, sardines, haddock and cod. Seafood which is high in mercury which you should avoid during pregnancy include shark, king mackerel, swordfish and tilefish. In moderation, tuna is not a problem as long as you avoid the albacore and blufin varieties and limit your consumption to a few servings a month.

It is also a good idea to steer clear of fish caught in contaminated lakes or rivers that can carry high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs which could travel to the placenta and affect the development of the fetus. So do be cautious when eating fish from local lakes and rivers.

Raw shellfish and uncooked sushi are also seafood choices you should postpone during pregnancy. Also, make sure that cooked mussels, clams and oysters are actually cooked all the way through so that salmonella is not a threat. Pathogens such as salmonella are destroyed through cooking, otherwise they can cause severe food poisoning in pregnancy and may cross the placenta to the fetus as well.

It is easy to be overwhelmed with all the mercury and food poisoning cautions and simply avoid seafood altogether during pregnancy, but this would be a disservice to your developing baby and yourself as there are so many benefits to safe seafood choices, such as salmon for dinner. Seafood during pregnancy can be a very healthy choice, just choose wisely and space out your seafood meals and portion sizes for moderation.

The Mommy Guilt Syndrome – Good or Bad?

According to many polls, it is surveyed that as many as 94% of moms feel guilty about some aspect of their parenting. This guilt ranges from the amount of time they spend with their kids, the way they feed their kids (breast milk or formula, nutritious or junk food), to the type of diapers they use on their kids (environmentally friendly), yelling at kids, leaving kids at daycare of with another caregiver, the list goes on. There is always something to feel guilty about.

My advice as a Mom of 3 to new and first time parents is that there are no perfect parents and no perfect kids. No matter how perfectly you try to parent your kids they will not be perfect and neither will you. You can try to do your best most of the time. However, there are days when those standards will have to slip.

Today I was home with my sick 4 year old and I am recovering from minor leg surgery from a few days ago. Although I can hobble around a bit, I am supposed to sit still and let the wound heal. My son has plenty of other plans as his fever seemed to have cleared as soon as the School Bus drove past our front door. After a few games of Hedbanz and Lincoln Logs in addition to me hobbling about to fetch snacks, feed the cat and make lunch, I decided to call it a day. My son was treated to his favorite Ninjago Snake Attack Movie that I only very sparingly let him see, not only because these Ninjas are excessively violent at times but mainly because my off the charts snake phobia. But after feeling the twinge or two of pain in my leg and the even more pronounced twinge or two of excessive boredom in my brain from hours of mind numbing games (that I felt guilty I should not be feeling), I threw in the towel and allowed him to indulge in several hours of these movie festivities while I retreated to another room, well away from the attacking snakes video.

Did I feel guilty about this? Not a lot, maybe a little. Am I a bad parent? I don’t think so. If I did this every day, then yes I think that would be detrimental to my child’s development and show a serious lack of effort on my part. But once in a while, when we both really deserve it, sure, no harm done. However, if you were to ask me this question 6 years ago when my oldest son was this age, you would have gotten a very different answer. Yes, I would have felt incredibly guilty if I did anything like this, but this scenario would never have occurred. First we would not have had any movies of this type in our house, nor would we have access to NetFlix and not in a million years could he watch anything other than educational TV, Bob the Builder or The Wiggles (now I am burnt out on all of the above). Second I would have used this time as an opportunity for him to work on his coloring, or for me to home school him on adding and subtracting with string and pegs (yes, I was one of those “Tiger-like” Moms), although he would not learn these skills in school for another year or so. But I am a different parent at 44 and with my third child, who also has a very different temperament than my first child and does not find hours of adding games all that fun after a few minutes, nor do I at this stage. So in this case I think my degree of guilt has subsided with age, experience and number of children.

Many people might mistake me as a deadbeat parent to my youngest child on certain days of the week or hours during the day. I disagree. I actually believe my less stressed out and more laissez faire approach (or less present approach as I am parenting two other children with their own plates full of activities, homework and playdates), has encouraged my son to do more for himself. He knows that Mommy is not hopping around the house to anticipate his every need. So yes, he has a few more sugar snacks than the other two would have at his age (they had none other than fruit!). He has a little more TV time that usually is not educational and I do not drill him on reading and math all the time (although his siblings like to try their hand at homeschooling him from time to time with varying levels of success or dispute, depending on the day). I do however make sure he is safe, cared for, loved and feed every day which I think is the primary responsibility of any parent.

On the flip side my youngest is remarkably helpful and self-sufficient. He helps me with many chores, loves to help with cooking/mixing and baking things, he helps with the dishes, cleans his room, vacuums and dusts, dresses himself, makes his bed and is overall a very confident kid, proud of what he can do like his big brother and sister (and sometimes better). Maybe he has a few more scrapped knees and maybe his outfits don’t always coordinate perfectly, but I am pretty sure he will be able to do his own laundry and cook for himself by the time he goes off to college as he’s well on his way to mastering those skills now. Plus I can daydream that one day his future wife, my future daughter in law, will profusely thank me for raising such a self-sufficient guy while I nod knowingly.

On the other hand, guilt is not always a bad thing if it is used wisely and in proper context. Guilt is an internal alert system our body has to tell us that something is potentially wrong and we need to address it. It is a sign our body uses to encourage us to get on the right track and change a behavior, or make a different choice. Maybe we shouldn’t trust a particular caregiver. Maybe Johnny does need to eat healthier and cut back on the junk food. Yes we should watch what we put into our bodies when we are pregnant and stop dangerous habits like smoking or drinking too much. But we also have our common sense to override that guilt and cut ourselves some slack from time to time (not in smoking), but in most of our parenting decisions. Overall parents who apply love, consistency, their best instincts and joy to the job are on the right track any day of the week. We all need our cheat days every now and then to recharge. As long as our baby/child is safe and well cared for, I think we can cut ourselves some slack from time to time.

Are Your Baby and Maternity Clothes Really Clean?

We all know that once you become a parent your laundry volume goes through the roof. Even pregnancy seems to be a precursor for the greater amount of laundry with maternity clothes generally being larger then our pre-pregnancy wardrobe and more frequent wardrobe changes. More body temperature changes and generally running at a higher temperature leads to increased sweating and often greater body discomfort (or fussiness with the way our clothes look on our changing body) which all lead to our laundry bins filling up quicker.

Taking care of a newborn just adds to the laundry pile with babies spitting up on their clothes, blowing out diapers, drooling and generally getting messy as they begin to crawl. Also we all know it is fun to change those cute baby clothes several times a day and show off our newborn in cute clean clothes to friends and family. It can often feel like we are raising a movie star as we shuffle our baby through multiple wardrobe changes gifted from baby showers before they outgrow the outfits in the next week.

As every new mom knows, staying ahead of the laundry can quickly become a fulltime job that never seems to end. If you are like me and most moms out there you probably feel just putting the clothes through the laundry machine with the right amount of detergent is getting them clean. You are also probably patting yourself on the back when you finally get through the overflowing bin of dirty clothes and have returned them nicely folded to the respective shelves and drawers.

It seems we are mistaken. Recent research by the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) indicates that we may not be doing the laundry right. If we are using cold water with antibacterial detergent we are not getting our clothes as clean as we think. We are in fact putting dirty clothes right back on our body and even worse, on our babies.
First when it comes to the water temperature we are washing our clothes in, we need to go hotter. “If you’re putting clothes in cold water, you aren’t getting rid of bacteria,” Marcelle Pick, an ob-gyn and pediatric nurse practitioner at the Women to Women health care center in Yarmouth, Maine says. “For babies, their clothes tend to be more contaminated, so you should definitely wash using hotter temperatures.”

Cute onesies and adorable stuffed animals may look clean and you may hesitate to inflict a hot water machine wash on them, but there’s a good chance that they contain bacteria (and often the really bad kind, from feces). Of course you cannot throw all stuffed animals in the wash, but at least wipe with warm soapy water and make sure they thoroughly dry before you hand them back to your baby to cuddle.
According to the ACI’s recommendations for laundry procedures, cold water can be used to presoak items that have been heavily soiled (especially of the pee and poop variety). However we should use hot water in addition to detergent and bleach, if necessary, to thoroughly sanitize and disinfect dirty laundry.

The second step is using an effective detergent. Ed Osann from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) senior water policy analyst, explains, “Warm or even hot water is not hot enough to sterilize clothes exposed to fecal matter. If detergent is formulated for comparable effectiveness in cold water, then no extra benefit would be expected from warm water use.”
Contrary to what many of us would consider common sense, Osann advised avoiding antibacterial detergents as they actually promote growth of resistant bacteria. He also recommended thoroughly drying clothes in the dryer.

How frequently should we wash our clothing? It depends on what it is. The ACI recommends washing clothes more frequently that are tighter fitting and more likely to carry more bacteria. In our baby’s case, that would be just about everything but jackets, extra layer sweaters or flowy dresses that are not soiled. For ourselves and older children, items like underwear, socks, tanks and T-shirts, tights and even jeggings should be cleaned after each wear. Other items such as jeans and khakis can get 3-4 wears before they need to be cleaned. Towels should be hung to dry after each use and should also be washed every 3-4 days, especially if they are used by kids. Bed sheets should be washed at least every two weeks and more frequently if you sweat a lot, which is common during pregnancy and postpartum.

The next step is maintaining a clean washing and dryer by setting up a regular sanitizing routine. Clothes will get only as clean as the machine allows. Every week, or more if you do tons of laundry, you should run an empty cycle with your washer using hot water along with bleach and detergent to disinfect the washer (some washing machines have a sanitizing cycle labeled on the machine). Next be sure to run an extra rinse cycle to make sure the bleach is completely flushed out. After that it is a good idea to start off by washing your whites with hot water and detergent as there still may be some bleach remaining in the machine from disinfecting. After washing, dry your whites on high for 45 minutes to sanitize your dryer. This way your laundry machine and dryer are sanitized for the rest of your laundry.

When the weather is nice and sunny, you can be more eco-friendly approach to save energy by washing in warm water and line-drying in the sun. The good news is that as your children get older and out of diapers, there are less of the particularly bad bacteria types to contend with, so washing in warm water may do the trick most of the time.

Remember husbands and older kids can do the laundry too, so don’t hesitate to train as needed and delegate. Just make sure they know the laundry for optimal cleanliness.

More Dangers To Smoking During Pregnancy

If you were looking for new inspiration for better health habits during pregnancy, the latest research on smoking during pregnancy should give you plenty of motivation to quit that habit fast. A new study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry Oct 1st suggests there is an association between tobacco smoke exposure in the womb and bipolor disorder in those offspring once they are young adults.

Researchers looked at 79 people with bipolor disorder and 654 people without the condition who were born between 1959 and 1966. People born to mothers who smoked while pregnant had twice the risk of developing bipolor disorder as young adults. Bipolor disorder is a mental illness which causes extreme mood swings. It’s symptoms are not usually noticeable until late teens to early adulthood.

This is the first study to show this connection between smoking and mental illness. Earlier studies did show that smoking contributed to other health concerns in newborns and children including low birth weight and attention problems.

We all know that smoking is bad for our health and bad for our babies health both inside and outside of the womb. We now know that it is also a concern for a child’s mental health as they mature into adulthood and beyond.

Bikini Thief Royal Purple Bamboo Montauk Tankini Maternity Bathing Suit

If want to show your wild side without showing your whole pregnancy belly, then take a look at the Bikini Thief Purple Bamboo Montauk Tankini, a hot new style this summer season!

This lively creative print motif features yellow stripes in the form of bamboo plants against a purple backdrop. The pattern and opposing colors create a vibrant tropical look. This unique striking pattern and color combo is truly one of a kind and show off your wild, fun and sexy side.

Bikini Thief is known not only for their great colored prints but also for the amazing style and fit of their suits. They are one of the most comfortable, secure in the water and adjustable maternity swimwear fits.

The tankini top is designed with built in bra, light pads for no show through and subtle ruching between the bust. The tankini shoulder straps are also adjustable. This detailing to fit and support allow for a smooth and flattering look that you can feel confident it without fear of maternity wardrobe malfunctions in or out of the water.

The tankini sides are also fitted with ruching and adjustable ties on the side to fit comfortably over your growing belly bump.
The matching print bikini bottoms have a comfortable support band that can be rolled up or down. They fit below the belly and are fully lined. These bottoms are designed especially for maternity and will stretch with you to fit your curves.

Don’t let anyone steal this Bikini Thief treasure, it is really one of kind!

Congratulations To Pregnant Actress Morena Baccarin

Congratulations to Actress Morena Baccarin, 33 and her husband director/writer Austi Chick who are expecting their first child together. Baccarin and Chick wed in November 2011.

Baccarin, who plays Jessica Brody on Homeland, the hit Showtime series, is currently in production for the show’s third season.

Baccarin recently was named one of PEOPLE’s 2013 Most Beautiful. She said recently, however, that she was very low-maintenance on her beauty regime and wears no makeup.

“When I’m not working I’m definitely a no makeup girl. The most I ever do is a little tinted moisturizer and a little mascara and blush.”

This -no-nonsense beauty routine will come in handy one Baccarrin becomes a new mom!

We wish her and her husband all the best!

White Maternity Bermuda Shorts For Summer

If you haven’t got any yet, then check out the Olian White Bermuda Maternity Shorts for summer. These maternity shorts feature a wide elastic waistband with belt loops that fits under your bump, a zip fly and double buttons. The shorts are super elastic and hit just at the knee which is very versatile for dressing up or down. They have pockets in the front and back and go with just about any summer top in your maternity wardrobe. The best part is that these Bermuda shorts do not look like maternity shorts; you can even wear them postpartum. You will live in these shorts for the warm weather ahead!

Beat The Heat In Maternal America’s Faux Wrap Nursing Dress!

It is the perfect flirty and flowing summer maternity or nursing dress that can be worn casual with sandals or dressed up with a wedge or heels.

This style features an empire waist with a faux elastic wrap that will never “fall” out of place. The top cross over design allows for easy and discreet nursing access with a built in demi-cami. The skirt portion is an overlapping design that easily drapes over your baby bump and allows an equally flattering flowing look if you are nursing and no longer pregnant.

This pretty Faux Wrap Nursing Dress from Maternal America comes in hot sangria or black.

Joyce Brothers Passes Away But Leaves Behind A Legacy For Women

We at TummyStyle were sad to hear of the passing of Joyce Brothers, popular TV and radio personality as well as women’s advocate who died Monday of respiratory failure in New York City. She was 85.

Born Joyce Diane Bauer in New York, Brothers earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia. Joyce Brothers was a pioneer in television advice shows. She started her famous show as a pop psychologist in the 1950s and went on to enjoy a long career as a syndicated columnist, appearing in Good Housekeeping for four decades, an author and a film and television personality. She was a guest on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show” almost 100 times.

Interestingly, Brother’s career as a TV and media personality and author came about unexpectantly. She had quit her teaching positions at Columbia University and Hunter College while her husband was still in medical school to care for their newborn. She believed her child’s optimal development depended on her primary care giving. However, due to their low income and financial distress in New York City on her husband’s residency salary, Brothers needed to find away to make some money.

As Brothers like to tell it, her multimedia career evolved “because we were hungry.” In order to earn some quick cash Brothers decided to try and become a contestant on a television quiz show. The show was called “The $64,000 Question” and quizzed contestants on their specific areas of expertise. In preparing for the show, Brothers memorized 20 volumes of a boxing encyclopedia. With this knowledge on boxing she went on to win the top prize, only the second person on the show to do this.

Even more amazingly Brothers entered the show a second time as a contestant and also answered each question correctly on boxing to win again and become one of the biggest winners in the history of television quiz shows. These wins made her an overnight celebrity and opened doors for her to appear on many talk shows and co-host the “Sports Showcast.”

A few years later Brothers was offered a position with NBC for on air advice on all sorts of taboo topics for the times, including marriage, love life, sex, and child rearing (yes, this was taboo at times) ,as well as menopause, impotence and sexual enjoyment. This advice show was so successful it became nationally telecast and usually broadcast in the late hours.

She also gave advice on numerous call-in radio programs, sometimes going live on air with advice. One cannot help but imagine that the sit-com Frazier would not been invented much less a hit without Brothers as a real pioneer in this venue. Countless television and radio personalities have followed in her footsteps to become celebrities today. Among them, Dr. Drew Pinsky, television personality and medical advice expert, offered his condolences,

“Knew nothing about her history on the $64,000 question, but I did know Joyce Brothers,” he wrote on Twitter. “She was a pioneer and very knowledgeable.”

Importantly Brothers was an advocate for women. In the 1970s she was credited for changing textbooks to remove a sexist bias. She argued that nonsexist cultures tended to be less warlike.

She wrote numerous advice books, including “Ten Days To A Successful Memory” (1964), “Positive Plus: The Practical Plan for Liking Yourself Better” (1995) and “Widowed” (1992).

Brothers is an example of someone who was not only caught in the winds of change with pregnancy and being a new mom to a newborn but as a relatable woman who had to make tough career and family choices. In her case she choose to leave behind a career only to find her family needed her financial support which ultimately led her to a better and more diverse career that suited her flexibility, experience and passions.

Brother’s life shows us that we should not place labels or restrictions on ourselves and our abilities, even after we “settle down” into motherhood and maybe feel our professional or creative lives are put on hold forever as we change diapers and multitask. She shows us that a woman in the 1950s could become an expert on men’s boxing and host a sports channel, something that has unheard of in her time. She could also pioneer Television advice shows and talk radio about the unexpected and real life taboo subjects that people are really interested in. She was a woman who was not only able to give to her child and her family as the needs arose but to also give the gift of herself , her advice, opinions and knowledge to the world that wanted to receive it. Women like Brothers are inspirational to us all as we admire her legacy.