The Cleanse

Day One - starting weight 195lbs

I started my cleanse on a Saturday because I thought it would be easier to prep things for the first time without my co-workers looking at me funny (save that for Monday!) I walked into the kitchen that morning to find my sweet husband prepping breakfast. I reminded him that he would only be cooking for one and he immediately stopped cutting up a potato and said "I don't need a fancy breakfast." Aww 😍 what a sweetheart.

The first thing I did was take a digest & cleanse capsule (that comes with the Nutritive Cleanse). About 30 minutes later I poured my almond milk into my blender bottle (and had to ask my husband if I was mixing it right...I'd never used a blender bottle before - so many firsts!) and topped it with two scoops of the balance complete (the shake part of the cleanse). I was SUPER nervous that I was going to hate the taste but it was actually pretty good! I've heard too, that you can add a drop of orange essential oil to it and it makes it into an orange creamsicle.

After downing the balance complete I waited an hour or so before drinking my 2oz of NingXia Red (2 750ml bottles are included with the Cleanse). [Sidebar: NingXia Red is a juice made from wolfberry (goji berry) puree, superfruit extracts, and citrus essential oils. It has tons of antioxidants which helps prevent against oxidative stress.]

This particular cleanse allows for 3 light snacks per day with choices listed in the booklet that comes with everything. I chose to be boring (hey, it was the easiest for me) and have carrots and almonds as my snacks.

I repeated this for my lunch and dinner that day. It was actually easier than I thought it would be - the shake actually kept me full and the fact that I could have a little snack in between meals was excellent. Also, carrots and almonds have never tasted so good!

Day 2 - weight 194lbs

Hey, I lost a pound! If you read my original post about the reason for doing a cleanse, you know that it wasn't to lose weight. However, that is such a standard and easy measurement to track I figured it wouldn't hurt. And to be honest, most people just want to know how much weight they could lose when they do something like this.

I would say day two was even easier than day one. I knew the routine now and my husband was went fishing the entire day, so I didn't even have other food to tempt me! I continued having my shakes, snacks, and NingXia while cuddling and snuggling with Gemma.

One thing I do want to mention: I took two excederin on Sunday night (day two) because I'd had a headache since Saturday morning. I don't think this was because of the cleanse (I think it was from the three Palm Breezes I had the night before I started the cleanse) but totally forgot that excederin has caffeine in it. Whoops. I didn't sleep AT ALL that night. Like not even 10 minutes. So I knew Monday back at work was going to be rough.

Day 3 - weight 194lbs

Same weight. I was totally fine with that. I had my breakfast earlier than usual (since I was up anyway) and packed up my lunch. I made my shake at work and downed it waayyyy too fast. Up until that point I'd been able to savor the shake a bit and draw it out over 15 or 20 minutes. Not today. So I was pretty hungry by 3pm. Luckily I still had my afternoon snack of carrots and my 2oz of NingXia Red. However, after that snack and before dinner was by far the hungriest I'd been so far on the cleanse. I could hear my stomach gurgling. I put off my dinner shake for as long as I could but around 6:45pm I made my shake and downed it.

As you may imagine, I was super wiped after being up for 36 hours straight, so I had a handful of almonds with my NingXia and called it an early night.

Day 4 - weight 188lbs

WHAT?!?!?!?! I was down 7lbs in three days. That's insane. Again, not the reason I did a cleanse, but I'll take it! Day four was definitely easier than day three. Probably because I was on the home stretch of the cleanse. I was feeling good and didn't have any huge hanger issues until I was tucking into bed.

Day 5 - weight 187lbs

Down another pound! When I woke up I definitely wasn't feeling my shake. But I made it anyways in my Magic Bullet and it was SO GOOD. If you're thinking of doing a cleanse that uses a meal replacement powder my tip to you: as often as you can, use an electric blender whenever possible. It makes a world of difference in taste and consistency.

And then lunchtime hit and I'm not even sad about it...I aborted the cleanse. Yep. I only had about 12 hours to go and I stopped. A couple things led me to do this: first, I forgot my blender bottle at home and my MacGyver'd alternative did not work out well (shake went EVERYWHERE). Second, I was totally ready to be done. I ended up going to a sandwich place in my building. A sandwich never tasted so good. Ok, I guess I had a third reason, too: it was my father-in-laws birthday and we were going out to eat to celebrate. I have pretty good will power but sitting at a table full of people eating delicious 'fancy' food and pretending I didn't want any is beyond me.

So my overall review of the cleanse:

I'm glad I did it. I'm writing this the day after my cleanse and I am definitely thinking more about what foods I'm putting in my body. I've already thought about grabbing a snack after lunch but then stopped and asked myself, "am I hungry or just bored/used to snacking?" Before the cleanse, I would have just grabbed the closest snack and gone on with my day. Here's hoping that these new behaviors stick around!

A Wellness Jumpstart

I've decided to delve into my very first cleanse. I'm actually in a bit of disbelief since I always thought cleanses were silly. Just eat healthier! But I get it now. Sometimes you just need a strict, full re-set of your diet when you've let it get out of control. 

To get to the real heart of why I'm starting a cleanse, I gotta go back a few years.

Up until last year, I'd always been pretty disciplined with my diet. Not that I always ate the healthiest things, but I was very good at not eating junk food in excess (or if I did, I worked out/ran A TON to make up for it). The height of this discipline was while I was in grad school in Florida. My schedule allowed me to workout a lot and I anything I ate, I had to buy (poor college kid) so I didn't buy too much and NEVER junk food. I also capped my caloric intake to 1,200 calories a day. Looking back, this lifestyle probably wasn't the healthiest, but dang, did I look good!

 April 2011 at my cousin's wedding in Pensacola.

April 2011 at my cousin's wedding in Pensacola.

I kept up my fairly balanced lifestyle - eating what I wanted and exercising so I could still fit into my clothes - until this past year. So what happened that made me lose my discipline with eating well and exercising? I got pregnant. Yep. And I definitely let that become my excuse to eat whatever I wanted, in excess. I figured if I was going to get huge anyway, why not indulge a little. I was around 155lbs before I got pregnant, was 215lbs when I had Gemma, and lost 20lbs so fast - like they just melted off. I thought, "man, losing weight after having a baby is SO EASY." Hahahaha. No. Absolutely not. Not only am I now the heaviest I've been my whole life (I'm consistently sitting at 195lbs), I'm not healthy. I continued eating whatever I wanted without exercising. I let my relationship with food completely degrade into gluttony. I knew I needed to do something.

It was coming up on the New Year, so I thought it would be a great time to re-set my wellness goals. I decided I was going to wake up an hour earlier to get in a decent workout. I began that in mid-December and started slowly - I wanted to set myself up for success and I knew if I tried to do too much at once I would fail at everything. So I'm happy to say that I've been very consistent about getting in at least 20 minutes of cardio three times a week. I know that some people will scoff at that or say cardio isn't going to get me where I want to go. But you know what? I'm SO insanely proud of myself for actually taking the first step to be the healthiest version of me that I can. (Getting out of a warm bed to go workout in my frigid basement is definitely an accomplishment).

So where does the cleanse fit into all of this?

Around the same time that I started getting back into a workout routine, I downloaded a calorie-counter app. I was super excited to have something to keep me accountable for my diet (when I use the word "diet" I'm referring to whatever I eat - NOT a specific type of diet like paleo, keto, atkins, etc). I used it religiously. For two days. Then I kind of tracked stuff, but kind of didn't until I was right back to where I started with my diet - eating all of the (unhealthy) things.

From my past history with food, I knew that if I was on some very specific 'diet' for a specified amount of time, I knew I could be successful (I'd done short spurts of no chocolate or no ice cream which was extremely effective for me). I started thinking of a full cleanse because my WHOLE diet was way off, not just one or two things. I knew I didn't want something that was a liquid only cleanse or something I would have to do for more than a week, so when I discovered a Young Living's 5-day Nutritive Cleanse that allowed 'snacks' of fruit or nuts, I was sold.


I'm excited to get started! I don't have a goal to lose any weight on this cleanse (although I know I probably will). My entire reason for doing a cleanse is to re-set my relationship with food. Wish me luck!

Foody Baby

At Gemma's 4 month appointment in November, the pediatrician asked if we had started giving her solid foods yet. I said no and internally thought "oh gosh, am I a terrible parent? Was I supposed to give her solids by now?" My anxiety was quickly dismissed as the ped told me that many families decide to wait until their infant rids themselves of their 'spit-up' reflex - when they automatically spit things out of their mouth. Phew!

At 5 months Craig and I started letting Gemma 'try' our (empty) forks and spoons. Once she stopped trying to spit them out (and actually open her mouth so she could taste it) we decided it was time to try some baby food! We had already talked about skipping the rice cereal and going straight for 'real' food. First up: pureed sweet potatoes.

Saturday morning Craig was cooking one of his famous breakfast scramblers (SO GOOD -- he's the best cook) and steamed an extra half sweet potato, blended it, and served it up for Gemma.

Gemma tries homemade pureed sweet potatoes for the first time.

As you can see, she was a little hesitant at first, but ended up LOVING her first solid food. Can't wait to try more!

PS: I am more thankful than ever that I discovered the absolute BEST and CHEAPEST all-natural all-purpose cleaner. Babies are messy and I don't have to worry about Gemma accidentally ingesting this cleaner. Head over to my post about it to find out how to make it!

Post-partum facial care

Like most expecting moms, I had that 'glow' about me. People told me that I looked great and energized (which I know for a fact was not true. Sleep is hard when you're roughly the size of a baby hippo). I'm sure part of what they were commenting on was that my face was completely clear -- THANK YOU, PREGNANCY HORMONES -- it's nice to know that they actually did something GOOD for me (check out my post here to get the full story of my challenging pregnancy).

About four weeks after having Gemma, my face decided to revert to it's middle-school, zit-prone version of itself. I hadn't changed my face washing routine - I was still cleansing, toning, and moisturizing every night. But my hormones were all over the place and it seemed like I wasn't able to do anything about it. However, I ran out of my usual products (that had worked great all throughout pregnancy) so I ended up using some new products that I had ordered months before.

1. The Cleanser. I had been using Young Living's Art Gentle Cleanser. I loved the fact that it was so gentle on my skin, but it just wasn't up for my post-partum hormones. I've since switched to Young Living's Orange Blossom Face Wash and LOVE IT. It's so easy to use when you combine the cleanser and water in a foaming dispenser!

2. The Toner. Young Living's Art Toner was one of the most divine smelling things I've ever experienced. I actually ran out before I had Gemma and switched to plain ol' Witch Hazel (I use Thayer's non-alcoholic brand) on an organic cotton round. This stuff is a-maz-ing. As much as I do love Young Living's products, I will never buy another toner again. *I add Frankincense to my Witch Hazel once a week to really deep-clean.*

3. The Moisturizer. I was using YL's Art Light Moisturizer and I liked it, but wasn't in love with it. It did its job of keeping my face moisturized, but on some of the cold, dry Iowa fall mornings, it just wasn't cutting it. Cue my new favorite obsession: Young Living's Sandalwood Moisture Cream. It smells great and it's super thick. Perfect for the dry winter months. I don't think I'll use this cream year-round, as it seeps out of my pores on warmer days, but it has definitely helped keep my face super soft and smooth without being oily. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

So this is my routine. If you're struggling like I was with blemishes, I would encourage you to take a look at your face washing routine. Maybe something as simple as changing out your products could help you like it's helped me.

The Dreaded 3-Hour Glucose Test

So if you read my last post, you know that I missed passing the 1-hour glucose test by ONE STINKIN' POINT. (Not angry at all...) This meant that I had to do the three-hour test which includes double the amount of glucola and FOUR blood draws. Not my idea of fun.

I remarkably found the Pathology Lab super fast and got in pretty quick to get my fasting blood sugar drawn. I'm not too queasy or uneasy around needles or medical things but I do have a history of low iron so it's not uncommon for me to pass out when giving blood (this happened the last time I donated blood and ever since my iron levels have been too low and I've been barred from donating every. single. time.) I figured, "hey, this is only a blood draw, not a pint of blood, so I should be good." Haha. Nope. Well, I didn't pass out but if I wouldn't have said anything to the nurse I probably would have. I started getting all clammy and my hearing got fuzzy. They let me sit for a little while, gave me an ice pack for my neck/back, and even sneaked me some water (which is not allowed during the glucose test). After I was feeling ok, they led me to a private room with a reclining chair so that I could rest a bit easier than if I were in the lobby (which is also nice because putting my feet up helps keep them from looking like balloons.

The second blood draw was much less eventful. The lab tech let me stay in my private room, in my recliner, while she took the second draw. I felt woozy for maybe a few seconds, but wasn't close to passing out. She also mentioned that when she tested my first draw I was well within the acceptable blood sugar range - HALLELUJAH!

The third and fourth draws were completely uneventful (thank goodness) and I got a call that afternoon that I had passed! Bring on the carbs!

28 weeks preggo means the Glucose Test

I'm at 28 weeks! Third trimester! Less energy! Swollen feet and fingers! Not being able to tie shoes!

And of course, 28-weeks pregnant means taking the glucose test. I didn't really think much of the test beforehand, just had heard terrible things about the gross, sugary drink. That, and if you didn't pass the first test then you had to do the dreaded three-hour glucose test.

I arrived at the midwives office and was given the option of lemon-lime, orange, or fruit punch glucola. It was Cinco de Mayo, so to celebrate I chose lemon-lime. Baby girl definitely thought it was fiesta time because it felt like she was doing flips in my belly! I really didn't mind the drink at all - sure it was super sugary, but it just tasted like lemony-lime grenadine to me.

I had my regular appointment and an hour after I had drank my Cinco de Mayo "treat," I had my blood drawn to test my blood sugar and hemoglobin levels. I was told I would get results on Monday but that 'no news is good news,' meaning, if I didn't hear from the midwives, that my test results came back in the normal range. Mid-Monday morning guess who called? Yep. I had failed my one-hour glucose test. BY ONE STINKIN' POINT. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I was actually so upset about it that tears started running down my face. Not that I could even do anything about it - it wasn't like I could prep for the test. It all had to do with how the baby things (don't want to get too graphic) affect how your pancreas processes and metabolizes sugar. So I have to go in for a three-hour glucose test later this week. Crossing my fingers that I pass that one...I really don't want to know what it means to have gestational diabetes :(

The Gender Reveal!

Craig and I invited our moms to come to the baby's 20-week ultrasound so they could find out the gender of baby Nelson. My mom had been to both of my sister-in-law's 20-week ultrasounds and even though they weren't planning on finding out, my mom still 'looked' when the tech checked that portion of the baby and (even though she isn't a trained ultrasound reader) she could very easily tell that it was a girl - my niece Cora!

Sandy, my mother-in-law, had never been to an ultrasound that could reveal the gender. The last time she was at an ultrasound was when she was pregnant with my husband Craig!

When the time came for the tech to check on the gender part of the baby, she turned the monitor off so Craig and I couldn't see anything, had the moms come around to view her screen (which had its back to Craig and me), and said "and there it is." Neither mom said anything or gave any facial hints as to what baby Nelson might be. It absolutely KILLED Craig that his mom knew and he didn't!

That afternoon I made a dozen cupcakes with blue filling and a dozen with pink and covered both with white frosting. I put them in separate pans and labeled one 'Boy' and the other 'Girl.' The following day, we had both of our immediate families come over to our house for lunch and for the reveal. After everyone got there, the moms went to the kitchen and put the 'right' cupcakes on a plate and brought them out. Craig and I bit in to ours at the same time, completely expecting the filling to be blue so we were extremely surprised to find pink filling! We thought our moms had made a mistake and thought they brought out the wrong ones - that's how convinced we were that we were having a boy.

And it turns out that Sandy couldn't keep a secret. She had told her husband AND her daughter after the ultrasound, so it wasn't a surprise to them (but they acted surprised, so it's all good).

The 100% streak of girls continues with baby GIRL Nelson - all of my cousin's and brother's kids are girls. Baby girl Nelson makes the 6th one! That's maybe to be expected as all of my cousins are also girls...poor Dave - my brother's the only boy...STILL.