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I cannot believe how fast the second trimester of pregnancy went!  Probably because it started with sharing the exciting news on Instagram and social media at Week 14.  And I really did enjoy the ‘honeymoon’ phase of pregnancy and felt pretty great the whole time.  In case you missed it you can read all about the First Trimester of My Pregnancy here and my First Trimester Favorites.

As I sit here typing this eight months pregnant I would love to go back to how I felt a few weeks ago, but more on that later.  Lets get to all about the second trimester of pregnancy such as symptoms, favorites, and bump pics for weeks 13-27.

Symptoms

There were truly so few symptoms to report that I didn’t feel the need to do a week by week break down like I did for the first 14 weeks.  It would just bore you because throughout weeks 13-27 I felt pretty great, definitely a growing belly but NO MORE nausea, food aversions, indigestion, round ligament pain, or tiredness like in the first trimester.

Acne

I did however deal with some hormonal acne.  I noticed some tiny bumps around my chin around week 12 and they quickly developed to full on redness and pimples.  I spent the entire second trimester trying to find products that were safe to use during pregnancy that would get rid of my acne with very little luck.

My skin was extremely dry so I was afraid to use anything too harsh like most acne treatments and also wanted to avoid unnecessary ingredients.  I LOVE The Detox Market for finding natural skincare and make-up products.  I emailed them about my situation and they recommended several cleansers, lotions, and toners.  I have been using this Pai Rose Gentle Cleanser and can now say my acne has finally cleared weekssss later.  So I’m not sure if it’s the cleanser or my hormones changing now that I’m in the third trimester.

I was trying some essential oils mixed with my lotion, but that just dried out my skin.  So now my routine is just to use the cleanser and then I apply a Beauty Counter Day Lotion.

Forgetfulness

Early in the second trimester I also started to experience some forgetfulness, I was actually listening to a podcast one morning on the way into work and then suddenly noticed flashing red and blue lights behind me.  I was caught going well over the speed limit on the parkway and knew I had just completely zoned out, luckily I got away with just a warning and didn’t even have to pull the pregnancy card.  Other than that situation I would randomly find myself forgetting what I had just wanted to do, which is kinda usual for me, but I still think pregnancy brain is a REAL thing.

Numbness when Sleeping

I have always slept on my sides, so I feel very fortunate I didn’t have to get used to that since they don’t recommend sleeping on your back or stomach throughout pregnancy, especially in the second trimester.  But I started noticing I would wake up on my right side and it would be completely numb and switch to the left, then wake up on the left to a numb side.  My doctor said this is common, just due to blood flow.  I sleep well but definitely was up a lot switching from side to side.  And typically by 7-8 hours of sleep both sides were numb and I just needed to get up for the day.

Leg Cramps

This only happened twice, after a plane ride and day of sitting a lot. I woke up in the middle of the night with a leg cramp, usually only in one leg that went from my calf down through my foot.  Each time I woke Tom up and had him help me rub it out and then all was good.  I definitely think movement, stretching, and staying hydrated throughout the day can help prevent these at night.

Number 2

One common symptom throughout pregnancy is a wide range of issues with number 2.  Luckily I’ve been able to stay regular, but it definitely doesn’t come as easily as it used to.  I’ve tried to keep lots of veggies and whole foods in my diet, consistently take my pre-natal vitamin and DHA supplement and I’ve using magnesium in this capsule or this powder form.  They say your body is absorbing a lot more nutrients throughout pregnancy, so it doesn’t have as much waste, which easily leads to constipation and bloating.  I often feel bloated after I first eat and it sticks around for most of the day.  But I also think this is just due to a growing belly.

Braxton Hicks Contractions

It took me awhile to realize the tightening I felt in my lower abdominal wasn’t my stomach turning or muscles, rather most likely Braxton Hicks Contractions.  These started around 22 weeks, I first noticed them when we were walking around on a trip to NYC and thought it was just my body reacting to all the walking.  Then after reading more about the second trimester I realized they were most likely Braxton Hicks, which are contractions of the uterus preparing for labor and totally normal throughout pregnancy and much different from real contractions.  Now I usually notice them when I start moving fast like walking or occasionally when I’m busy moving around the kitchen or have a full bladder.  It just feels like my belly hardening and tightening, lasts for a little bit, then relaxes.  Nothing like the round ligament pain I felt during the first trimester and not painful at all.

Favorites:

Baby Kicks: My absolute favorite of the second trimester was feeling my first baby kick.  I definitely felt the ‘butterflies’ early on, but was never certain if it was my stomach or baby girl. Then around week 19 I knew they were most definitely kicks and Tom even got to feel one.  Since then they have gotten stronger and stronger and there’s no mistaking a kick for my stomach.

Cravings:  My appetite increased slightly at the beginning of the second trimester.  But with a growing belly and always kinda feeling bloated it’s definitely a different hunger feeling than I’m used to.   And I’ve learned I definitely need to NOT overeat to avoid heartburn or indigestion.  Luckily I was always craving my usual healthy meals with lots of veggies, lean protein, and healthy carbs.

And besides the usual things I would crave even if I wasn’t pregnant, hello pizza and ice cream, I started really wanting pancakes and love them from a local diner in town.

I also could not get enough Avocado toast and Halo oranges.

And around Christmas I wanted everything to be peppermint flavored or with white chocolate.  This chocolate and peppermint crunch ice cream from Nice Cream really hit the spot, even in the December chilly temperatures

Humidifier:  I read a common pregnancy symptom was feeling stuffy or congested even without a cold.  So around week 14 when I felt a bit congested with a runny nose I immediately ordered a humidifier for our bedroom and also some tiger balm for my chest.  Both have been life savers, especially in the winter when the heat can make your house feel very dry, the humidifier has helped a lot keeping the air cool.  I plan to have one also in baby girls room, once she’s sleeping on her own.

Books, Info, and Podcasts:  The Pregnancy Podcast is by far the most informative podcast I’ve found.  They research and talk about the pros and cons of a wide range of topics about pregnancy, labor, breastfeeding, and postpartum.  Episodes are around 20-30 minutes long so I can easily finish one on my way to and from work.

I also really like listening to the Bristow’s Made a Baby Podcast each week and hearing Becca’s pregnancy symptoms and what they did each week, not as informative but fun and interesting.

And as far as reading I finished Bringing up Bebe in the second trimester, I found it more of a story than informative, but did pick up a few things on the difference between how the French and Americans raise babies.   You could probably be just fine reading the notes or a synopsis of the book.  I have enjoyed reading each month of What to Expect When You’re Expecting and have a few other reads on my nightstand I hope to make through before baby girl arrives.

NYC trip:  Instead of planning a full on Babymoon we had a NYC trip already planned before we found out we were pregnant, so decided to treat that as a little couples getaway.  I honestly really didn’t have a desire to be anywhere warm and be in shorts or a bathing suit so I was just fine with a December NYC trip as a ‘mini babymoon’.  We planned the trip with another couple, but had some time on our own.  You can read a full recap of our NYC trip here, what we did and most importantly what we ate.

Teas:  I started drinking a nightly tea early on in the second trimester.  I usually have either a

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Happy Happy Friday!  Hope you had a great week and are ready for a long weekend, yay!  No major plans here this weekend.  Just the usual workouts, errands, and cooking delicious food.  Plus I still have a few rooms/closets in our house I need to channel my inner Marie Kondo and organize before Baby P arrives.  But lets get to a few of my latest food and fitness favorites and at the end of the post a VeeTee Rice Giveaway.

Latest Food Favorites

Each week of my pregnancy I’ve been listening to the Bristow’s Made a Baby Podcast.  This past week I was 31 weeks and in that podcast episode Becca mentions how she feels gypped that she hasn’t felt any extreme hunger yet throughout pregnancy and I completely related!  I plan to share more about second trimester soon in the meantime you can read my recap of the first 13 weeks here, but I have YET to really feel any major daily increased appetite.

Overall I’ve really just been eating what I did pre-pregnancy and adding an extra snack or two like almonds, raw veggies, or fruit, which I sometimes have to force myself to eat.  My weight gain has been spot on, so it’s nothing my doctor is worried about.  I was just really hoping to feel more hungry throughout pregnancy.  But with being bloated (even though I’ve stayed regular) and having a growing belly, my appetite just has yet to kick in.  Maybe it will during the last two months, this foodie can only hope.  Ok enough pregnancy talk, here are some of my latest food favorites.

I LOVE when I can find a good fresh sourdough loaf of bread.  It makes great avocado toast with eggs and TJ’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning or I make toast with almond butter, seeds, and fruit.  Great pre/post workout breakfast!

Tom and I have been trying to enjoy the occasional night out while we can.  Date nights will probably be even more rare this Spring.  We’ve stayed local and have went to two of our favorite spots, Spoons Korean BBQ where I get the Stone Pot (Bibimbap) with spicy chicken and The Charles for their grass-fed burgers.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram where I usually share more of my daily eats and lifestyle.

Fitness Favorites

Literally the exact week I entered the third trimester is when my lower back started to be in some pain by the afternoon.  I am on my feet for the majority of the day and have tried to practice good posture, but it’s almost inevidable with a growing belly.  I’ve lowered some of my weights (especially for back) in my workouts but am still actively teaching three stregnth classes a week and feeling good about it.

On days I’m not teaching I’ve been doing prenatal yoga which I think has helped SO much with my back.  I feel great these days after a morning stretch.  My friend Jossie reccommended this video which I LOVE, I’ve also done this one a few times.  I learned about the pelvic floor and how to activiate it in this video.  I’d love to hear if you have any good prenatal yoga suggestions in the comments below, usually I like the videos to be at least 30 minutes for a good stretch.

VeeTee Rice Giveaway

I am loving these unique microwavable rice blends from VeeTee Rice.  It’s definitly nice to change it up just from traditional white or brown rice and you can’t beat the convenience of only needing to microwave them for two minutes.  This past week I paired the Basmati and Wild Rice Blend with Healtheir Butter Chicken from the Half Baked Harvest Cookbook.  I also added in cauliflower rice for extra veggies.

VeeTee Rice has offered to give one lucky Sweet and Strong follower a six pack of their choice of rice, you cansearch all their products here.  Follow the directions in THIS INSTAGRAM POST to find out how you can enter.  I’ll be selecting a winner tonight, good luck!

Hope you have a great weekend!  And be sure to check out other Friday Favorites posts here.

Questions of the Day:

Do you have any prenatal yoga videos you recommened?

What’s your favorite dish to pair rice with?

Tell me something delicious on your plate recently.

The post Latest Food and Fitness Favorites and a VeeTee Rice GIVEAWAY appeared first on Sweet and Strong.

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Many of you always tell me that meal planning and prepping is where you need the help when trying to prepare healthy meals for the work week.  This past Sunday afternoon all Sweet and Strong email subscribers received a FREE 7 Day Meal Plan where I did all the planning for you and organized 7 healthy meals for dinner each night.  You can only receive this through an email I designed using Campaign Monitor.  Within the email you’ll find a link to each recipe and some meal prep tips.  Each meal is quick and easy to cook as I know you all live busy lives during the work week.  And of course I allowed one night off in the kitchen for take out or dining out, hello #pizzanight.

Campaign Monitor Review

I used Campaign Monitor to import my email list and edited one of their email designs to create a custom email sent to you.  They have a variety of email templates to choose from, you can also design or upload your own.

It was easy to organize all the content and photos by using the drag and drop features.  I mostly added or edited blocks for text and images.  Other builder features include a spacer, divider, button, survey, and video.

For each block you can edit the color, size, style, and font.  I am definitly not a techy person, especially when it comes to coding and Campaign Monitor makes organizing a professional looking margeting email very user friendly.

When my email was complete I was able to preview what it would look like on a desktop and moble device which I really liked.  And I could also send myself a test email to review all the content.

When the email was ready to send I was able to select everyone on my email list and schedule a time and date for the email to go out.  Once it was scheduled I didn’t have to worry about anything.  I loved the scheduling feature as you often want an email to be delivered when your subscribers are most likely to engage.

Here’s a little sneak peak at the FREE 7 Day Meal Plan email I sent out to subscribers.

Within the email my followers can click the links to be taken to the recipes.  And at the bottom I was able to add link buttons to Sweet and Strong and add my social media channels.

After the email sent I can log into Campaign Monitor to view insights through full analytics.  I can see how many subscribers engaged with the email content.  I can view the number of times each link was clicked.  And if I had any followers unsubsribe.  Then for the future I can learn how to improve marketing strategies using one of their many free resources.

I highly suggest using Campaign Monitor to grow your audience, sell products, or promote business offers through professional looking email marketing campaigns.  Currently you can get started for FREE, then their plans start at $9/month for a Basic Plan with all the core features.  If you send frequent email campaigns they also offer two other plans, Unlimited for $29/month and for those who really want to grow their business the Premier plan for $149/month.  You can read about each plans special features here.  And start creating marketing emails for your blog or business today!

Sign Up for Sweet and Strong Emails

If you’re not currently a Sweet and Strong email subscriber I’ll be sending out the FREE 7 Day Meal Plan once again over the weekend so sign up here to receive a copy!  And be sure to check out my other Favorite Healthy Recipes that are always on our menu each week.

I received a free month of the Basic plan through Campaign Monitor and payment for this post.  Thanks for supporting Sweet and Strong and the sponsors I love.

The post FREE 7 Day Meal Plan to Email Subscribers and Campaign Monitor Review appeared first on Sweet and Strong.

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Need some meal and workout ideas? Here is my food and fitness week in review for the week of November 19th through November 25th 2018.  Be sure to read previous Food and Fitness Week in Review’s here and tell me in the comments below your favorite meal or workout from the week!

And so the holidays begin!  Last week was Thanksgiving and with a few days off I had time to prepare some of my favorite meals and desserts and eat lots and lots of leftovers!

Monday: Leftover Beef Stew from the freezer, with beef from Hancock Family Farms


Tuesday: Jambalaya
Wednesday: Chicken Enchiladas from the Skinnytaste Cookbook and these Spiced Apple Cider Doughnuts for dessert


Thursday: Turkey Day!  Snacks while watching footballs and then Turkey and Ham with this Sausage and Apple Stuffing, Oyster Stuffing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, maple glazed brussels sprouts, corn, and Spicy Green Beans.  And this Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake for dessert it was quite the delicious spread.


Friday:  Turkey Day Leftovers


Saturday: Turkey Day Leftovers
Sunday: Sheet Pan Greek Chicken and Potatoes And the last of the cheesecake for dessert after decorating the Christmas Tree!

Weekly Workout Recap

Even with the holiday workouts pretty much stayed the same this week.  We weren’t traveling so it was easy to head to the gym.  I did try a new training class at the gym where we went through 6 different circuits 4 times through.  It was a great post Thanksgiving workout!

Monday: Taught a 45 minute Cardio Conditioning Class
Tuesday: Taught a one hour BodyPump Class 
Wednesday: Taught a 30 minute Total Body Weight Training class
Thursday: Did a 3 mile run/walk and a standing AB Circuit
Friday:  Took a LIT Class at the gym
Saturday: Did this yoga video
Sunday: Did a 2 mile walk on the treadmill

Thanks for reading today!  Hope you have a great rest of your week.

Questions of the Day:

What was your favorite meal or workout from last week?

How was your Thanksgiving?

The post Food and Fitness Week in Review #28 appeared first on Sweet and Strong.

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Hello there friends and Happy Happy Friday!  I hope you had a great week but I’m sure like me you’re looking forward to the weekend.  I’ve got a pretty busy one ahead with Tom’s first playoff Football game tonight, a photography workshop Saturday, and a Barre Instructor Training on Sunday.  Be sure to follow along with all the fun on Instagram.  Now let’s get to this weeks healthy meals, snacks, and other friday favorites.

Squeaky Pops Chickpea Chips

I was recently sent these apple cinnamon chickpea popped chips from Squeaky Pops.  They also come in a cheddar cheese flavor.  I was super skeptical, I love chickpea pasta, but wasn’t sure how I’d feel about them as a chip, but turns out they were delicious!  They kinda just taste like little rice cake chips, perfectly crunchy and flavorful.  I have actually been eating them with a little peanut butter for a delicious snack.

The chips are all non-gmo, gluten-free, made with quality ingredients, and under 100 calories per bag.  And I definitely think these would be toddler approved as they were developed by two moms were wanted to create a healthy snack for their young children.

Right now you can only buy Squeaky Pops on their website or on Amazon.

Good Food Made Simple Breakfast Burritos

From better for you snacks to healthier breakfast choices.  Good Food Made Simple sent me three coupons to try their better for you freezer meals.  I picked up these three breakfast burritos at my local Target.

You can simple microwave the burritos or reheat in the oven.  They were all super tasty, I think the Mediterranean was actually my fav.  All the meals use simple ingredients including cage-free eggs and antibiotic free meats.  The ingredients list were a bit longer than I like, but for the convenience of a quick meal, totally worth it every so often!

Herbalife Coffee Protein

Since finding out I was pregnant I haven’t had many protein shakes and if I do drink them I’ve been very careful I’m using quality protein.  Herbalife Nutrition recently sent me their newest product, Iced Coffee Mocha Protein.  I’ve occasionally been mixing it with some almond milk, almond butter, cinnamon, spinach, and a frozen banana for a tasty post workout snack or meal.  The Coffee Protein has 80 mg of caffeine and 15 grams of protein per serving, so you can also use as a quick afternoon pick me up.  The ingredients list is so so, I’ve found a few other proteins that I feel safer using during pregnancy or even if I wasn’t.  But I enjoyed trying something new, thanks Herbalife!

Around the Web

Not much pregnancy talk in today’s post but in case you missed it check out my Experience throughout the First Trimester and then my First Trimester Pregnancy Favorites.

Also each week I always post our dinner menu and my weekly workouts as a Food and Fitness Week in Review.

Which always include dessert like these Chewy Fudgy Brownies I wrote for Pure Taste Recipes.  You can easily change the topping to snowflakes for the winter season.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Questions of the Day:

What’s your favorite grab and go breakfast?

Would you try the apple cinnamon or cheddar cheese Chickpea Chips?

The post Healthy Meals, Snacks, and Other Friday Favorites appeared first on Sweet and Strong.

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Hello!  Happy Friday and I hope you all had a great week.  After sharing My Experience through the First Trimester of Pregnancy last week I wanted to post a few of my First Trimester Pregnancy Favorites today.  From food, to info, to fitness, and more, everything that helped me get through the beginning stages of pregnancy.

Food and Supplements
  • Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins and DHA Smart Essentials:  I did some research when it came to Prenatals and really liked that Rainbow Light had all the vitamins and minerals I was looking for plus a fruit, vegetable, and probiotic blend that is easy to digest.  I’ve had no stomach issues with taking them each morning with breakfast.
  • Vital Proteins:  I used the plain collagen peptides in smoothies or added it to my coffee (yes still drinking about a little over a cup each day).  I think it helped me stay regular in the bathroom department and kept my skin clear.  I stopped using it for a few weeks and started noticing my face breaking out.
  • Sprouted Toast with Almond Butter was my breakfast every morning to help with my nausea.
  • Gin Gin’s:  Speaking of nausea during the day I ate these ginger candies.  Ginger is supposed to help the stomach.
  • Plain Sparkling Water from the Soda Stream.  Without being able to drink wine or even kombucha I relied on sparkling water for a little something different every day.
  • La Croix or Spindrift when I needed a little flavor.
  • Healthy CARBS!  Rice and Chickpea or Lentil Pasta and Popcorn as a late night snack. I was definitely needing and craving all the carbs to help keep my nausea away.
  • RX and Larabars for snacks.  I was weary of any other protein bars, but these two are made with simple and quality ingredients.
  • My 40 ounce Takeya Water Bottle, keeps water super cold and kept me hydrated throughout the day.
Books, Info, and Podcasts:
  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Belly Laughs:  I read the parts that applied to me in What to Expect When You’re Expecting and am still going through it as I progress to each month.  It’s super informative about what’s going on with your body and baby and talks about all the do’s and don’ts during pregnancy.  Belly Laughs is a light, funny read written by Jenny McCartney on her very REAL take on pregnancy.  I finished it in three sittings and was able to relate to a lot.
  • The Bump and What to Expect When You’re Expecting Apps take you through what’s happening to your body and baby each week.  They also have lots of interesting articles.
  • The Bristows Made a Baby Podcast: The Bristow’s take you through each week of her pregnancy.  I just love listening to others stories and this one is interesting becuase she is all about natural living.
Clothes:
  • High Waisted Workout Leggings:  literally have been living in these because they’re so comfortable.  And thank goodness I get to wear sports bras everyday to work becuase my boobs were so tender at the beginning.
  • Towards the end of the first trimester I needed different jeans so I ordered this pair of maternity jeans and these leggings that are both super comfy.
  • My Apple Watch to keep an eye on my heart rate during workouts (which should stay below 160 bpm my doctor said).
Other:
  • Acupuncture:  I plan to share more on this soon but I’ve been going to acupuncture weekly since June.  At first for fertility and stress relief.  Once I got pregnant I continued going and she treated me for my symptoms; nausea, bloating, constipation, restlessness, and even when I caught a little cold.  During every treatment she always checks the pulses of my organs and gets the blood flowing throughout the body, which is extremely important in general and especially during pregnancy.
  • Around Week 9 I really started to feel like no it wasn’t the bloating, my belly was growing.  So I started applying this belly butter (kinda greasy buy has been working well) and at night I put on this toning oil.  Both were recommendations from fellow bloggers.
  • Long walks:  When I first found out I was pregnant I knew I could continue with my workouts as long as they weren’t high intensity, but I really started enjoying moving with some long walks each day.  I really think moving right away in the morning helped with some of my nausea.
  • Speaking of workouts, I still was running about once a week, with no sprinting, but really tried to focus on strength training workouts.  BodyPump is great because it keeps the heart rate lower and is all about muscular endurance.  I teach one BodyPump class at the gym and have been doing some of the videos also at home.  You can go back and see all my workouts in my Food and Fitness Week in Reviews.
  • Our gender reveal cake at Week 12:  I had blood drawn for the Non-Invasive Pre-Natal Test which checks for your chances of certain genetic disorders and you can also find out the sex of the baby.  All of our work came back normal and I had a local bakery, Charles Street Bakery make us a gender reveal cake.  Tom and I cut into it together one night to find out we were having a baby GIRL!
  • Witch’s Hazel Face Toner: I’ve been trying to clean up my beauty routine and switch to more natural skin care products and have been using this Witch’s Hazel for awhile.  It acts as a moisturizer and keeps your skin super soft too.  Now I still haven’t found a great natural remedy for my teenage girl acne I’m experiencing though…..
Food Aversions and Dislikes:
  • Salmon and Burgers for a few weeks
  • Giant Salads
  • At the beginning I couldn’t eat sweets, shocking for me!
  • Overeating lead to heartburn and indigestion
  • Waking up 4 times in the middle of the night to pee
Questions of the Day:

What were some of your first trimester pregnancy favorites?

Do you recommend any other books for pregnancy or newborns?

Are you currently pregnant?  How far along?

The post First Trimester Pregnancy Favorites..

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