I have said this many times in the past on my blog but we tend to take supplements and vitamins very seriously in our household. So much so, we moved into our current place because the kitchen had enough pantry space to accommodate all our pills and powders. One of these days I will have to do a pantry tour on my IG stories and take you through what I take on a daily basis. But for right now I just want to chat a bit about one essential vitamin that is too often overlooked, especially during this time of the year.
Are you Vitamin D deficient? If you’re not taking Vitamin D supplements year round, chances are you’re deficient. We often hear advice from healthcare providers that we should take Vitamin D during the long and dark winter months because of our very limited exposure to the sun. Many of us oblige during that time, without even knowing why it’s vital for our health, but most Canadians tend to assume that once summer hits, we obtain enough natural Vitamin D from the good ‘ole sunshine. NOT. TRUE. What’s even more alarming, although our body produces Vitamin D naturally through the sun, this can only happen when your body isn’t protected by sunscreen…a fact that is not known to many. I mean, I literally just recently discovered this myself. So I know you’re probably wondering, “are you suggesting that we don’t wear sunscreen?” Absolutely not! I do not leave my house without SPF 50 and I make sure that Maxie has on infant safe sunscreen to protect her delicate skin because we LOVE the outdoors. We both also take Vitamin D every single day for our immune system and bone health and taking 1,000 IU’s can help prevent deficiency. This is why Jamieson Vitamins has made Vitamin D a part of their Jamieson Essentials line-up of four natural health products designed to help you get the key nutrients necessary for overall good health; Probiotics, Multivitamin, Omega-3 and of course Vitamin D.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the vitamin options so your best bet if you’re not taking any at all right now is to start with Jamieson Essentials to make sure you have the basics covered and you can also consult your healthcare provider for advice on additional supplements. With the official start of summer right around the corner, make sure you sun safely with a combination of Vitamin D and sunscreen. To learn more, head to jamiesonvitamins.com
This post is in partnership with Jamieson Vitamins for monetary compensation and/or product however all opinions are my own.
I have gone over thirty years knowing exactly how my body operates. It’s been a machine that has pretty much operated like clockwork. Until I got pregnant. Then shit hit the fan and my body became unpredictable overnight with one change and after another. Most unpleasant, if I can speak candidly. Post baby; things are still somewhat strange and unpredictable. Nine months later I still feel like I am renting out this shell I call for a body. Very few women speak about what they go through physically and emotionally postpartum, so I try to address the issues I experience here because I sure as hell know I am not the only one experiencing these things. Especially when it comes to issues relating to intimate health.
So the term intimate health sounds pretty vague if you ask me, so I am just going to avoid acting coy and get right to the point. The area “down there” or what I like to fondly refer to as the va-jay-jay, is an area that probably sees the most change in women postpartum and it all stems from the vagina’s pH level. Otherwise known as it’s acidity level. Yeast and bacteria play a major part in determining vagina health. Our bodies have limited resources so only so much bacteria and yeast can co-exist at any given time, sometimes causing them to compete. Ideally, for things to be running smoothly in that area the optimal vaginal pH should be anywhere around 3.5-4.5. This would indicate the perfect amount of good bacteria and no overgrowth of the bad kind, that can cause some irritation, odour or even infection. But there are so many factors that can affect this range and cause an elevated vaginal pH level like; pregnancy, intercourse, menstruation and even the use of tampons. Wipes, feminine washes and cleansers are probably the worst culprit because they usually mask the issue instead of treating or preventing them.
I personally noticed some changes after I started getting my period five months after having Maxwell and also noticed some mild symptoms after intercourse. I wouldn’t quite call it a yeast infection because there was no discharge but I definitely something a bit off down there, so that was the catalyst behind starting to do some research on the issue and figuring out how I was going to address it. I prefer to use natural remedies when possible and only turn to pharmaceutical medications when absolutely necessary. About a month and a half ago I started to test my vaginal pH with Hydrion test strips and decided it was time for me to find a solution address the mild va-jay-jay issues I was having. RepHresh Pro-B is a probiotic supplement made specifically for women. Just one capsule a day helps create healthy flora to balance unwanted yeast and bacteria. What makes it super effective is the two strains of beneficial bacterial it contains, called Lactobacillus, that helps keeps all the bad bacteria in check. And the best part, because it’s taken orally, it’s super convenient to use and doesn’t require refrigeration like most other probiotics. It can be taken at any point during the day but I like to stay in a routine with my supplements and prefer to take mine first thing in the morning before I start my day.
RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic is available now. I grab mine from my neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart for $37.99 but it can also be found at Wal-Mart and other retailers nationwide. Visit www.rephresh.ca to learn more about how you can keep your intimate health on point.
This post was created in partnership with RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic and Church & Dwight, however all views and opinions are my own.
I think most of us have good intentions when it comes to sticking to our health and fitness goals. That being said, we’re all human so it is not uncommon to get sidetracked along the way. And let’s be honest, staying motivated during the cold winter months can really be a difficult task. I’m personally finding it extremely difficult getting back into shape post baby, not to mention humbling. There’s been countless times I’ve wanted to bail on my early morning workouts so I have been relying heavily on wearable technology and apps to help me stay accountable because this has NOT been a walk in the park.
You guys have heard me shamelessly express my love for loyalty programs over the years. I decorated Maxie’s entire nursery with items from retailers on Aeroplan’s eStore just so I could earn extra miles to go towards our first family vacay. Well, a few weeks ago I discovered on a brilliant app called Carrot Rewards – available on both Apple and Android. I’ve been using it every day since as a way to help encourage me to make healthier choices and better all-round lifestyle choices, while earning points and miles towards my favourite loyalty programs. Intrigued? Thought you’d would be. Here’s how it works…
The app is designed to help educate and reward Canadians for making better, healthier choices for themselves, for their families and for the planet. By being active and doing quizzes to learn about healthy living and wellness, Carrot users earn points from their favourite loyalty programs including Aeroplan® Miles, More Rewards® Points, SCENE®Points, Petro- Points, and Drop points and I’m told there are more loyalty reward partners to be added over the next few months.
Honestly, the app’s subtle way of getting users to increase and track their daily steps, become more physically active and make better food choices makes it one of my top fitness trends of 2018. I’ve been personally earning extra Aeroplan miles by opting to take the stairs instead of the elevator and choosing to walk to do some of my errands instead of driving around the city. The app was named Canadian App of the Year in Mobile Syrup’s 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards, and I can see why. With the app’s compatibility with my Apple watch, the steps from my workouts and runs are also accounted for and there are so many chances to earn bonus rewards when I scroll through the app by sharing my own meal prep recipes, taking quizzes on nutrition or inviting friends to join Carrot Rewards.
The “Tip of the Day” also serves as a gentle reminder for things most people may overlook
Many Canadians fall short on Vitamin D in the winter. Turn to your diet to up your levels. Try salmon, mushrooms, eggs and fortified products like milk, soy and tofu.”
For more information, visit Carrot Rewards on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and follow along via #CarrotRewards, #WellnessRewarded and #WalkLearnEarn. Download the app for free on your Appleor Smartphone.
This post has been sponsored by Carrot Rewards, however all views and opinions are my own!
Protein is something we are all aware needs to exist in our diets. Most of us think of meat, poultry, fish, eggs or tofu. If working out is apart of your lifestyle or you’re an athlete, you may have protein powder or bars as part of your daily routine as well. But you guys, how many of you use milk and milk products as a form of protein in your diet? I am going to guess not many think of them immediately as a protein go-to but rather think of them as a complement like milk for cereal for example or cheese on…well let’s just say cheese on any and everything because it makes everything taste better.
But before I talk about why milk and milk products are great sources of protein, let me first start with what protein is exactly and why it’s important. No matter what your dietary preferences are, protein is an essential macronutrient we all need to help maintain our overall health. Protein contributes to developing antibodies to boost out immune system. For those of you working hard in the gym these days – getting a jump on your 2018 fitness goals, we need protein to help build and repair our muscles. Especially after a hardcore workout or training.
Now here’s the deal with how to best optimize your protein intake. A good rule of thumb is to distribute your protein evenly over your meals, so 30 grams during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, referred to as the 30-30-30 Rule. Utilizing milk products as an extra source of protein is often overlooked but I have made a conscious effort to integrate it into my day because the high quality proteins found in them help satisfy my hunger throughout my busy days. With an increase in frequency and intensity with my workouts now that my body is a much better place post baby, I find that adding more protein from milk, yogurt bowls and even cheese into my diet gives me the strength and stamina I need to make it through the day with work, workouts and Maxwell.
I am not sure if any of you out there track your intake of protein but to help you get an idea of the amount of protein you can expect to see from consuming milk products in your day-to-day life here’s some numbers to help put things into perspective for you:
A glass of milk (250 ml) contains 8 grams of protein
3/4 cup of greek yogurt (175 ml) contains 17 grams of protein
1/2 cup of cottage cheese (125 ml) contains 15 grams of protein
50 grams of cheddar cheese (1 1/2 Oz) contains 12 grams of protein
Yogurt bowls are an easy way to start incorporating more milk products into your diet. I love added fresh fruit, chia and hemp seeds to mine for a bit of sweetness and crunch. It’s shocking how filling this snack really is. And whenever I need a bit of inspiration on new ways to add milk proteins to my existing meals, I check out DairyGoodness.ca for some recipe inspo. Below you will find the recipe details to a Bean and Barley salad that I discovered recently on the website. I made some slight modifications to it just for taste (removed the olives and used TK peppers) so it still packs all the same nutritional goodness.
1/2 of pearl barley and couscous
1 can (540 ml) of black, red, white or lima beans (no salt added)
1 cup (250 ml) of cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and sliced in half
1 cup (250 ml) of bell pepper, your choice, diced
1/2 cup (125 ml) of red onion, diced
1/4 cup (60 ml) of fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) of fresh parsley
1 tbsp of dried oregano
3 1/2 Oz (100 grams) of Canadian Feta Cheese, coarsely crumbled
Freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste
In a saucepan, bring 6 cups (1.5 L) of water to a boil and cook barley for approximately 20 minutes or until tender. Drain, cool under cold water, then drain again.
In a large bowl, mix barley, beans, and vegetables.
In another bowl, whisk reserved oil with lemon juice. Add herbs, Feta and pepper and pour over salad. Mix well and serve.
This post has been sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada however all views and opinions are my own
I guess you can say I had delusions of grandeur when I was pregnant about what my postnatal exercise routine would look like. I had actually assumed that soon as I got my six week clearance from the doctor to begin working out again, I would hit the ground running (literally) and back to my regularly scheduled HIIT workouts. Reality hit me pretty hard after giving birth and I’ve realized it will take some considerable time to ease back into the workouts I once enjoyed and to get back to feeling like my old self. But that didn’t mean I was going to stop moving. I soon figured out that finding alternative ways to stay active (like walking and hiking in Toronto’s High Park and in Hamilton’s beautiful conservation trails) meant that I would have more energy to tackle my crazy days with work and baby. The endorphin release would do wonders for my postpartum blues and most importantly it would help with the transition once it’s time that I can get back to more strenuous workouts.
And just because my ways of staying active are a little bit different these days, things have changed when it’s comes to my antiperspirant. Carrying around this little lady everywhere I go and postnatal hormone induced sweating, I need extra sweat protection these days more than ever. Degree Black + White Dry Spray Antiperspirant is what keeps me feeling fresh while keeping my clothes clear of those nasty white marks most deodorants leave behind. Engineered with Motionsense technology, it releases extra body odour protection the more you move and is formulated to provide 48 hour protection – music to any new mom’s ears.
If you’re a first time mom like me or expecting, it is important to be realistic and patient during this time until your body is 100% ready to take on the impact of regular exercise. Trust me, this is something that I still struggle with from time to time but Réjean does a great job of reminding me on the days I get frustrated. Remember, it takes about 40 weeks to prepare your body to give birth and it can take almost the same amount of time to return to your pre-pregnancy physical self.
Here’s 6 Steps For Easing Back into a Fitness Routine After Birth
Start Back Slowly. As a general rule, it’s best to not return to exercise until your bleeding has stopped and you have gotten the green light from your treating physician. If you push yourself too hard in the beginning, you can set yourself back – trust me! But that doesn’t mean you should be on house arrest by any means. A walk is a great start to getting back to your old routine in a slow and healthy way.
Pay Attention To Your Pelvic Floor. This is something I heard over and over again while I was pregnant and I am actually going to see a specialist this week about mine. If you’re pelvic floor is weak, doing crunches, Pilates or any other abdominal work can put too much pressure down there, drastically slowing down your healing or leading to organ prolapse.
Think Outside The “Studio Workout” Box. You don’t necessarily need to hit up for favourite cross training or boxing class to get back into a fitness routine. I’ve discovered that outdoor walks are a great place to start and the bonus – the little ones usually love the fresh air and scenery. Don’t discount walking like I did in the beginning. Especially when it’s in trails with varying elevations, it can be a great cardio workout with your baby in a carrier.
Loose and Wobbly Joints. Be careful of those wiggly, wobbly joints. Thanks to the hormone called Relaxin, a woman’s joints and ligaments loosen during pregnancy and childbirth and can stay in our body for up to six months. I am currently struggling with severe tendinitis in both of my wrists due to lifting the baby repeatedly with loose joints.
Stay Hydrated. Once you start ramping up your activity post baby, it’s important to stay hydrated especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Stay Fresh and White Mark Free. Make sure you have an antiperspirant like Degree Black + White Dry Spray to keep you dry and smelling fresh throughout the day.
This post was sponsored by Degree Canada but all opinions are my own
May was a very busy but special month. After celebrating my last childless birthday on the 5th, I jetted across the pond to France for a week to get immersed in the world of Yves Rocher, a brand I have fallen quite fond of over the last year or so. I have been a long time fan of French skincare because seriously they seem to know a thing or two about good quality but I guess you can say my level of interest in this particular brand was extra high the moment I realized the amazing botanical science behind their products.
My journey with Yves Rocher began quite differently than a lot of other brand experiences I have had to date and I mean that in the most refreshing way. Sure, our initial meeting last summer consisted of some brand education and why I would be a good fit as a partner, however there was absolutely no hard sell. I was simply encouraged to take my time getting to know their products, specifically their best sellers, over the course of a few months and that “We would go from there…” Well to me, this meant one thing – Yves Rocher was so confident in their brand, that they knew I would be on board once they gave me the chance to get properly acquainted with their products. And they were 100% right! Offering extensive product lines across all skincare and beauty categories, I took my time initialling honing in on facial and body care and the results have been amazing because I am experiencing my best skin yet. But this you may have already known if you read my post on my Yves Rocher Botanical Skincare Routine in April.
A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT YVES ROCHER
So there are several things that makes Yves Rocher very different than its competitors, which has made them immensely successful in France and throughout Europe since their launch 50 years ago. A pioneer in natural skincare and beauty, Mr. Yves Rocher founded the company with the belief that nature will be their guide in producing its products, which are made from plants and approximately 250 natural ingredients locally harvested. To this day, it has been the key to their success.
To have discovered the properties of plants is not our greatest achievement but to have made them available to all women is our greatest pride. As the only brand in the beauty industry to have chosen to control all the aspects of our activity, we are able to reduce our impact on the environment at every stage in the life cycle of our products” – Yves Rocher
If you can imagine back in 1967, the idea of a man launching a skincare and beauty brand without the use of any chemicals, targeted to women and marketed using his name, sounded ludicrous and nobody believed it would work. However, Rocher did not let this stop him. In fact, it motivated him and pushed him and pushed him to get the wheels in motion.
The only way to ensure Yves Rocher’s vision was executed properly meant that from the very beginning he insisted on controlling every step of the production cycle to guarantee safety and quality, providing his clients with products free of chemicals, colorants, and parabens.
EXPERIENCING THE BRAND LIVE IN PARIS
My press trip to France began with a tour of the Yves Rocher Headquarters in Paris to see how the products are made in their state-of-the-art laboratories and to get a deep dive in the company’s rich and rooted history.
Yves Rocher France Headquarters
Rocher Groupe Labratory
Yves Rocher Body & Shower Laboratory
Colour Pigments for Make-Up
Yves Rocher Key Ingredients
Yves Rocher Key Ingredients
Housed in one of the most modern buildings I saw in a city so full of rich and old architecture, there were several labs dispersed on one large floor responsible for each of the brand’s categories; skincare, cosmetics, body care, hair care, bath & shower and fragrances. It was refreshing to see it is run predominantly by young women. Somewhere within the building’s labyrinth was a small room dedicated the the brand’s olfactory family and fragrances. Bottles upon bottles of fragrance notes meticulously displayed in beautiful glass bottles and sleek refrigerators that housed samples of each scent the brand has made categorized per year. While learning about Yves Rocher’s past and present was vital, I was very intrigued to learn more about the direction of the where the brand is heading. As the originator of botanical beauty, how do they stay ahead of the curve in an industry where so many brands are vying for a piece of the “natural and organic beauty” pie, so to speak?
Yves Rocher Fragrance Lab
Yves Rocher Olfactory Family
Yves Rocher Fragrance Lab
I chatted extensively with Christine Delfaut, the brand’s Communications Director, to learn more about the brand’s exciting upcoming product releases for the rest of 2017/2018. While most of the innovations that were shared are still under embargo so I can’t share (sorry guys!) however Christine did allow me to take home their newly formulated, long lasting, ultra matte red lipstick to test out which won’t be coming out until much later in 2017. Having had issues finding the perfect “red” for years, I can say my hunt is now officially over. Without any of the harsh chemicals that usually dry out my lips, this deep red at first goes on with a slight satin finish but after a few seconds it becomes definitively matte and lasts all day.
They have also just launched a range of concentrated shower gels that lasts for 40 showers (shown above front and center) in Mango & Coriander, Olive Petitgrain, and Bourbon Vanilla which is my personal fave. With 4x’s the amount of product, 50% less plastic and greenhouse gases than in their 400ml bottles these heavenly smelling shower gels cost only $8 – not to mention, no parabens or preservatives and with 97% of the ingredients having a natural origin. With every bottle purchased, the Yves Rocher Foundation plants one tree in the community. Just in time for summer, a newly formulated Solaire Peau Parfaite sunscreen without harmful chemicals, The Chic & Bohemian Collection with a cornflower based body wash, eau de toilette and perfumed hair mist that smells heavenly and more.
LOW COST, HIGH QUALITY: HOW DO THEY DO IT?
English (CAN) quality products usually come with a hefty price tag. Sure, at a certain price point you can expect to see brands use aesthetically beautiful packaging, usually employing the help of actresses and celebrity spokespeople to sell their products which can be found perfectly curated in department store kiosks and shop-in-shops. All these bells and whistles that go into the marketing of competitors products come with a high cost, which is ultimately absorbed by the end consumer – YOU!
Yves Rocher’s competitively priced product ranges are only possible because their products aren’t sold in luxury and contemporary department stores but rather in their own stand-alone retail shops and of course online, allowing them to offer prices significantly lower than other brands. However this could be the reason why the brand awareness isn’t as high in North America as it is in Europe. I am fascinated by this idea, so a visit to Yves Rocher’s concept store on Boulevard Haussmann was a no brainer.
CONCEPT STORE VISIT
Nestled in what appeared to be a bustling and busy district, is a three-storey temple of beauty, where you can receive skin diagnosis at the ground level Botanical Beauty Bar, shop the brand’s extensive beauty line and range of honey, jams and sweet treats, indulge in cold pressed juices developed exclusively for Yves Rocher in their in-house juice bar, or receive personalized face and body treatments in one of the seven private cabins within the Beauty Spa.
Yves Rocher Boulevard Haussmann
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Cold Pressed Juices
Yves Rocher Cold Pressed Juices
Yves Rocher Jams & Honey
Being inside the Boul Haussmann location made me immediately calm and gave me a sense that I was amongst nature thanks to the green and ecological decor botanical concept walls created by Botanist and inventor Patrick Blanc. I promise you, the photos don’t do it any justice, its beauty is much more spectacular in person. I took my time going through the multi-floor flagship, with extra time spent checking out the products not yet available in Canada and cruising the beautifully merchandised fragrance section on the second floor where I was taken on an olfactory journey through the important notes that make up the company’s best selling fragrances – mine currently being the sensual and refined freshness of their Neroli Eau de Parfum.
Botanical Wall inside the concept store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
Yves Rocher Concept Store
VISIT TO LA GACILLY
But my trip wouldn’t be complete without taking a trip to La Gacilly, in France’s Bretagne (pronounced Brittany for us Anglo folks) region which is happens to be the birth place of both Mr. Yves Rocher and his namesake heritage brand. A beautiful and quaint village just a three hour train ride from the Paris city centre made up of cobblestone streets, small stone houses, local boutiques and La Grée des Landes, the Yves Rocher Eco-Hotel Spa and Hotel that you may remember seeing on my Instagram and IG stories.
La Gacilly, Fracnce
La Gacilly, France
La Gacilly, France
La Gacilly, France
La Gacilly, France
La Gacilly, France
Centrally located in the town, is the childhood home of Rocher, fondly referred to as No. 2 Rue St.-Vincent, where in his early twenties, he turned the home’s attic into a make-shift manufacturing facility for their very first plant based product. A visionary of sorts and a man with thinking far beyond his years, Yves Rocher was the first to introduce the “mail-to-order” concept as a way to sell his products to customers all over France.
Below are some shots we captured from inside Rocher’s first home where he used the attic to produce his first product and also acted as the office where he fulfilled his mail-orders from customers…
Yves Rocher’s first office in the attic of his childhood home
Rocher Home Office
Yves Rocher’s First Product Production
As he watched the company grow exponentially, he began to conjure up the idea for La Grée des Landes, a truly Eco-friendly establishment built without causing any harm to the environment that feeds guests using only locally sourced products and ingredients from their land. Essentially creating a gastronomy experience of multi-course meals prepared by Gilles Le Gallès, Chef at the hotel’s restaurant, that would legit blow your mind. There was no doubting the freshness and quality of our meals. As we enjoyed breakfast in the mornings, we often saw the kitchen staff in the garden pulling out herbs and vegetables that were going to be used in the preparation of our lunch and dinner later that day. Not once did we look at a menu. Chef prearranged each meal based on what is in season and would make a good compliment to the ingredients grown on the grounds of the property.
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
La Gree des Landes Guest Tree House
La Gree des Landes Guest Tree House
La Gree des Landes Guest Room
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
La Gree des Landes; La Gacilly
While many hotel properties believe integrating the word “spa” into their property name means they understand the concept of wellness, most really don’t have the faintest clue as to what that actually entails. Whereas this little slice of heaven, which made sure to include all four elements of nature to ensure a harmonious balance on their grounds, anticipates guests needs before they can even think of it and offers activities and services to help you find your optimal mental and physical wellness with yoga/meditation classes, hiking, underwater workouts (AQUATraining & AQUACycling) plus restorative and relaxation services offered in the hotel’s spa.
I have always used a variety of products from different brands on my skin and to be honest, I will probably continue doing so but Yves Rocher products currently make up the majority of my skincare regimen right now. Taking care of my skin has become a huge priority in my thirties and I’ve seen some dramatic improvements since I have started using Yves Rocher products. I fell in love with the new “Pure Calmille” line while in France and was lucky enough to bring it back home with me prior to its launch in Canada (available here in September 2017!). After pre-cleaning with wipes, I have been using the Pure Calmille Cleansing Gel mixed with the Scrub to Mix Gommage exfoliant, the Pure Calmille 2 in 1 Cleanser & Toner and the Pure Calmille Moisturizing Cream. For body care, I have become OBSESSED with the Monoï de Tahiti products that literally smell like tropical paradise in a bottle – using the Lagoon Body Wash, Dry Body Oil and finishing off with the Eau des Vahinés Eau de Toilette.
Overall my trip to France has a success! I got a chance to really get to know the brand and even got to indulge in spa treatments using Yves Rocher professional products. The best part is that all the products I was introduced to are safe during pregnancy. With affordable price points and products for all different ages and skin types, Yves Rocher has successfully made their brand accessible to everyone.
When it comes to pregnancy, there are a lot of misconceptions especially in the early stages. There are so many thoughts, ideologies and just sheer nonsense made available to us online, it’s become difficult to decipher what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s considered necessary and what is not during pregnancy. Well, there’s one thing most know for sure, prenatal vitamins are crucial in helping ensure both mama and baby get the necessary nutrients during this important time of development while they also help to avoid birth defects and potential pregnancy complications. However, many don’t realize the importance of making sure they are implementing a prenatal vitamin option at least six months prior to conception and that not all options on the market are created equal. Both facts, I honestly didn’t discover until after my miscarriage last fall.
At my core, I will admit I am a bit of a granola grinder and naturalist. Part of me hangs on to the idea that if we eat good food, we will be healthy and pass on that health to our growing baby. It’s a very simple idea and one I love but I understand that even eating well balanced meals doesn’t necessarily mean I am getting everything I can use. Not to mention, most foods we eat today, even when made from scratch, can contain genetically modified ingredients, colorants, antibiotics, etc. However, gone are the days of my grandmother’s generation, who were able to get all the required nutrients from the local grown foods on the small Caribbean island she came from, so I’ve come to think of prenatal vitamins as a personal trainer to help mama’s and their babies be the strongest and healthiest they can be.
I’ve used various prenatal vitamins in the past ranging from fancy physician prescribed options to over the counter drug store brands. I guess you can say paranoia crept in when I became pregnant again so quickly after the miscarriage. This time around I wanted to really ensure that both myself and this baby were getting all the required minerals and vitamins for a healthy pregnancy. I obsessed over the labels on the bottles, naturally, then did as much research on the one’s that seemed the most popular.
I decided to take matters into my own hands and try a little investigative testing on four prenatal vitamins I had purchased over the past several months. Nothing too scientific and something any of you can easily do at home. I simply put each of the vitamins in a glass of vinegar and let sit for an hour or so, mixing with a spoon periodically. Knowing, if it breaks down in the vinegar, I could be sure that it will do the same in my stomach allowing my body to easily absorb the contents. If not, I wouldn’t be digesting it properly and could potentially mean there’s a few vitamins just floating around in my stomach doing absolutely nothing. My test yielded some results that were very surprising, and hard to stomach (no pun intended), leaving Forté Elements Prenatal+ as the only option that completely dissolved in my vinegar solution. So it should come as no surprise that this is the brand I’ve been using ever since. Also, after chatting with my midwife and naturopath, I am taking additional Folic Acid (1mg) and Magnesium at bedtime (300mg), the former to ensure I am getting the maximum amount and the latter to help me with sleep at night. The cool thing about the human body when it comes to supplements is that it knows when it’s received the right amount of nutrients. Anything over and above that is flushed out of your system.
If you’ve been pregnant before, pregnant now or have friends that have filled you in regarding the horrible and often times debilitating nausea symptoms associated with pregnancy, you may be wondering if prenatal vitamins can contribute to this undesirable side effect. Truth be told, 80% of women experience morning sickness and nausea, especially during their first trimester. I had the WORST time for the first 4 1/2 months and seriously didn’t think I was going to make it out the first tri alive and still feel queasy from time to time if not doing anything to help regulate it. When this level of nausea hits you, you will likely stop at nothing to find a solution that works in settling your tummy so you can live somewhat of a humanized life LOL! I tried EVERYTHING and often sought out advice from my followers on IG stories. It’s still unclear as to why these symptoms exist; doctors claim it was to do with the HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels and can sometimes be aggravated by prenatal vitamins. The latter is likely because your body may not be used to the extra nutrients, like iron, and will need sufficient time to adjust. When I switched over to Forté Prental+ I discovered that they also made an anti-nausea supplement and in my desperation, I had to get my hands on it right away. Forté Anti-Nausea contains a specialized blend of vitamin B6, ginger, peppermint and clove that helps ease the struggle fest caused by pregnancy nausea. I’ve been using it religiously for the last month or so and I can confidently say, paired with regular exercise, I think I have finally found the right combination to keep these symptoms at bay.
I know that there are endless options on the market for prenatal supplement care but this brand is a pioneer in the development of condition-specfic combinations of vitamins, minerals and essential trace elements, Forté Elements has completely defined a new category of mediceuticalss based on evidence based research. Not a term your probably used to hearing, mediceuticals are nutrient supplements using combos of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients for things like pregnancy and the postpartum period, that unlike nutraceuticals, are subject to very strict guidelines for quality/safety and are supported by evidence based research. Meaning, you can be assured that Forté Elements Prenatal+ and other pregnancy supplements contain the appropriate amounts of the nutrients pre-pregnant and pregnant women need to help support their growing babies.
Forte Elements actually has a wide array of nutritional supplements outside of their prenatal category covering joint care, pre and post operative, trauma care, in addition to nerve, brain, bone health. To discover and learn more, head to ForteElements.com.
Remember that old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well for years apples got all the spotlight but it turns out, oranges are really the stand-out star or at least they should be. And when I’m on the go, sometimes a glass of Florida Orange Juice is the easiest and quickest way to get my daily dose of vitamin C. What many don’t realize, it’s also jam packed with tons of other beneficial nutrients.
I’ve always been a fan of good ole’ OJ…it’s long been my juice of choice because of it’s naturally refreshing and sweet taste obvi and truth be told, mixed with some champers it quickly becomes my fave brunch bevy on the weekends – pre pregnancy of course! When I started taking prenatal vitamins before I got pregnant, my doctor advised me to take my daily pill with a glass of Florida Orange Juice. Why? Prenatal vitamins can sometimes irritate and be tough on some women’s stomach due to the iron content and vitamin C helps aid in the digestion of the mineral. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Orange Juice, although an insanely amazing source of vitamins for all, is a very important part of a pregnant woman’s arsenal. I still find it a bit crazy how this change in my lifestyle has made me realize that my life is no longer about me anymore. The way I workout, how I eat, sleep and even my working hours now all revolve around what’s best for my little bean – who I haven’t even had the pleasure of meeting just yet. Funny enough, even the most simple things like adding a glass of Florida Orange Juice in the morning and another post workout can make a huge difference, ensuring that we both get other essential nutrients like folate – a vitamin essential to prevent neural tube defects in babies in the womb that is also important for the formation of collagen (an important component of gums, bones, and cartilage). But for those of you out there that are fitness enthusiasts giving cold press juice and protein shakes all the praises, Florida Orange Juice, similar to bananas, is also a great source of potassium, super important for muscle function and plays a role in helping the body maintain it’s pH balance and electrolytes, making it a great alternative to your go-to post workout hydration.
Don’t feel like you’re ever limited to just drinking OJ on it’s own. Because of it’s sweet taste, it can be the perfect addition to your favourite smoothies or cold pressed juices, adding just the right sweetness. Also, if you head to FloridaJuice.com, you will find a treasure trove of healthy snack and meal recipes that include Florida Orange Juice you can make at home – I’m going to be trying out these Oatmeal Orange Pancakes this weekend!
Photography by JessBaumung.com
I created this blog post as a paid collaborator for Florida Department of Orange Juice. All opinions and advise are my own and I only work with companies I genuinely love and/or have used prior to being contacted.
Well, well, well…most of you that read my blog also follow me on social media so this will not be news to you but…we are expecting our first baby this summer. The official announcement was posted on my Instagram account exactly a month ago today and while most of you may have thought it was something I was itchy to share, it was quite the opposite. As this is not Rejean and I’s first pregnancy, we suffered a miscarriage last fall (ICYMI, you can read about it here) and were devastated. After the initial joy of discovering I was with child; panic, anxiety and fear immediately set in. I’m not so sure about Rej, but I was absolutely terrified history would repeat itself and I would end up with another non-viable pregnancy and I was unsure whether I could handle another disappointment . I knew even before taking the home test that I was pregnant but to be completely honest with you, I was in complete denial for the first two months until my naturopath confirmed that my HCG levels were soaring through the roof and that there was no mistaking the fact that there was a little bean inside me.
So what next…? After carrying for almost 12 weeks the last time around, I thought I had this first trimester thing figured out but apparently I knew nothing because EVERY SINGLE PREGNANCY IS DIFFERENT. While most women gloat about how amazing their pregnancy experience is, it is not all roses for everyone, trust me! The first four months for me were insanely difficult but thankfully I am starting to finally feel like a normal human being again with the occasional bout of nausea. We are safely in our second trimester and almost at the 20 week mark. I cannot believe how fast the time is going. As the anxiety starts to fade a bit day by day, it is replaced with more and more excitement…and can only hope that the rest of the pregnancy is smooth and stress free.
There’s so much shit that has thrown me for a loop during the first 18 weeks and because I am a control freak, I wish I could have anticipated them but that’s not real life. It’s impossible to foresee the pregnancy future and for one reason or another, a lot of women only stick to sharing the positive sides of their pregnancy. So on that note, I’ve decided to share some of the things I discovered on my own, that I wish SOMEBODY had told me.
DISRUPTED SLEEP CYCLES
Majority of women talk about suffering from severe exhaustion during their pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. I remember feeling like I was in a coma during my first pregnancy but this one has been a very different experience. Rather than wanting to sleep my days away, I was barely getting 3-4 hours of sleep a night during the first couple months. Pregnancy insomnia is definitely a thing and thankfully it’s not harmful to the baby however it can get rather annoying. I assumed that this issue would occur later into the pregnancy with the physical changes to my body making it more uncomfortable to sleep but these early onset sleep issues for me were caused by emotional changes, stress, anxiety and the need to urinate a few times a night.
I did figure out a few ways to help with getting more sleep in recent weeks because after this baby arrives, I don’t anticipate getting much sleep at all:
Drink plenty of water during the day and minimize water intake after 7pm
Eating to sleep works wonders. Eat a healthy dinner to avoid heart burn and just before bed have a late night snack, something high in protein to help keep blood sugar steady throughout the night
Make your bed a comfortable cocoon to help induce your sleep once you climb between your sheets. Make sure to bolster or add a pillow underneath your feet, tuck a pillow between your knees and sleep on your side. Still struggling to get comfortable? Do not pass go or collect $200 – and purchase one of those full body pregnancy pillows. It will not disappoint – I swear by mine!
Exercising during the day will give you the energy you need earlier on but help you feel tired later on so you can get rest at night
When you’re carrying another human being your body temperature is elevated causing you to feel like you’re overheating at times. Feeling hot and sticky does not set the stage for a good night’s sleep. Consider adjusting the temperature in your home or closing a vent in your bedroom to create a cooler environment for sleep.
HAIR GROWTH/HAIR LOSS
Most pregnant women speak praises of hair growth during their pregnancy. Around week 20, it’s highly likely that your hair gets thicker, shinier and looks more healthy than normal, all credit to those lovely pregnant hormones – particularly estrogen. Not to mention the increased blood circulation and metabolism pumping mega nutrients to your hair and nails. Well turns out, everyone’s prenatal experience and every single pregnancy is quite different. I was thoroughly looking forward to the luscious locks of my dreams but I’ve ended up not having any hair gains at all and worse – suffering from prenatal hair loss. Sounds a bit weird I know and there may be several reasons why this occurred.
My natural hair back in August 2016.
During my first pregnancy I experienced no change to my hair but last November, almost 30 days after my miscarriage, I started to notice a change to the texture of my hair, thickness and length. Initially nobody else seemed to notice the difference, not even my hairdresser who I see on a weekly basis. I am pretty sure at one point she thought I was absolutely nuts. By the end of December the changes were clearly noticeable and enough to not only make me worry but had me feeling a bit depressed. I know it sounds a bit shallow, but I took pride in my beautiful, natural hair that took what felt like a lifetime to grow to the length it was. I was almost certain that when I found out I was pregnant at the end of last year, my hair would start returning to it’s healthy or at least healthier state. Sadly, I have yet to see a difference, even with daily prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements and it appears that I am still shedding a considerable amount of hair on a daily basis. After playing web detective, which I’m not normally an advocate of, I discovered that hair loss during pregnancy can occur for a variety of reasons; with hormonal changes being one of the top culprits. Whenever the body experiences a drastic hormonal change, your normal hair growth cycle can be halted or disorganized causing excessive hair shedding or what is called Telogen Effluvium. Usually caused by dramatic emotional experiences during pregnancy also explains the state of my locks after the emotional distress I experienced after my miscarriage. Nearly half way through this pregnancy, I am going to have to wait for the condition to correction itself and to see any improvements until at least six months postpartum. In the meantime, here’s what I am doing to help reduce the hair loss during this time:
Eat fruits and veggies that contain flavonoids and antioxidants that may add some protection to the hair follicles and encourage hair growth
Avoid unnecessary stress to the hair by staying away from tight ponytails, weaves, and braids
Use ultra hydrating shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica
Avoid excessive heat from flatirons, curling irons and blow dryers. as much as possible
Migraine headaches are like the lottery when it comes to pregnancy. If you suffered from migraines prior to being pregnant chances are there’s a high probability that you will experience stronger ones during – especially early on. However, there are a few lucky ducks who claim that their migraines actually diminish during pregnancy. I unfortunately have not been the exception but rather the rule when it comes to prenatal migraines and spent several weeks hemmed up due to crippling head pain, which caused me to be sensitive to noise, smells, food and even exacerbated nausea and vomiting symptoms. What’s the culprit for this annoying head pain? If you’ve guessed good ‘ole pregnancy hormones, you guessed right! Sadly, there’s not much you can for the pain during a prenatal migraine episode but on the upside, these pain cycles won’t last forever. Most healthcare providers consider acetaminophen (regular strength Tylenol) to be the only safe over-the-counter pain relief option throughout pregnancy but I strongly urge you to consult your treating physician prior to taking any. I personally didn’t have much success with Tylenol and had to resort to a few other tactics to help me with manage the pain:
Meditation and mindfulness techniques
Exercise (prior to full blown migraine)
Cold compress to the forehead and neck
Regular massage therapy
Warm epsom salt baths
Stretching; both preventative and during an episode
Increase water intake
NOT ALL PRE-NATAL VITAMINS ARE CREATED EQUAL
This one sort of threw me for a loop and I think that it is one of my most surprising discoveries throughout during this time. Our mothers and grandmothers may not have been popping prenatal vitamins, or even know what they are for that matter, but our generation sure as hell has been made aware that it’s a critical part of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. During the first pregnancy, although planned, we were not aware that I should have been popping this magic pills prior to conniving and that the most important period for brain and neural tube development occurs within the first four weeks of pregnancy. With our lifestyles, nutritional habits and the state of our food being so different than it was in previous generations, it’s imperative that women get the right amount of essential vitamins and minerals during (and even before conception) to prevent neural tube defects and support your little one’s growth and development. I actually never stopped taking mine between the two pregnancies.
Seeing as though the health care industry has deemed these supplements so important for pregnant women, one would expect that there be a set standard amount of each vitamin and nutrient found in each pill. I found out about a month into my current pregnancy that this is in fact not the case and immediately made changes to my prenatal vitamin, choosing one with DHA (omega 3 docosahexaenoic acid that benefits vision and brain development) and also added an additional 1 mg of folic acid. Even though folic is already in my prenatal supplement, I wanted to add some more, just to be on the safe side. There is no harm with taking a bit extra folic acid because whatever the body doesn’t need, it will flush out in your urine. Here’s the basics that you should have in your prenatal vitamin:
Pregnancy has turned out to be nothing but surprises so far and I’m sure this is just the beginning. Looking forward to sharing all the good, bad and the ugly with you all over the next several months until our little bean arrives.
Elaborate and sophisticated meals is not what I am known for at our house. I leave all the culinary heavy lifting to the Mister. Not quite sure why but the longer the list of ingredients I see in a recipe, the more intimidated I get. Probably because the more ingredients usually means more (preparation) time and more clean up at the end. Neither of which excite me. We made a pack at home to eat dinner together every night and in the kitchen not sitting on the couch in front the TV. I know it sounds a bit corny but I think it’s been integral to the success and strength of our relationship. With our work week hours being later than most, this sometimes becomes a challenge resulting to turning to quick fix dishes that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less.
Salmon is definitely a hit around here because it’s a super easy way to incorporate healthy Omega 3’s into our diets but let’s be real here, when you’re eating fish 1-2 times a week, you need to start getting a bit creative with your recipes. With salmon being so soft and fleshy I thought creating a pistachio crust using Wonderful Pistachios with a touch of honey and mustard would be a perfect juxtaposition of both taste and texture. Occurring to me while woofing down a handful of the brand’s addictive “Sweet & Salty” flavoured nuts. Sure there’s a few other nuts I could have chosen, so why Wonderful Pistachios? Besides tasting amazing, they are a source of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and fibre, adding extra nutritional value to this ridiculously delicious protein option. Making this is pretty much fool proof for those of you who also get intimidated with Julia Childs-like recipes (trust me!) and literally goes well with almost anything.
Rinse salmon and pat dry with a paper towel. Arrange fillets on foil (or parchment paper) lined baking sheet, skin side down. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard and honey. Spoon mixture and spread evenly over top of each piece of fillet
Coarsely chop pistachios in a food processor, coffee grinner or by hand and combine with Panko bread crumbs and oil. Spread pistachio mixture pressing lightly to adhere
Bake until salmon is cooked through to your liking and nuts are golden for approximately 15-20 minutes. Let salmon rest for 5 minutes outside of the oven before serving. Pair with a side of your choice; salad, quuinoa or grilled veggies and enjoy!
This post is sponsored by Wonderful Pistachios®, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!