My Fit2B Studio + Couch to 5 K challenge.

It feels good to be back to exercise after a week off due to illness. Though I don’t think that my lung capacity is back quite yet.

I have never really been a runner. I always wanted to like running but I could never get into it. It seemed painful and sweaty and always too hard for me. So I pursued other kinds of exercise like ballet, modern dance, Pilates, yoga and my Wii Fit. Then I discovered Fit2B studios. Once I felt like I had accomplished the Fit2B Beginning workout path, I started Fit2B Advancing. But I wanted to incorporate something else. A few months I ago I instituted my own personal workout challenge. Basically my plan was to do some form of exercise everyday. Whether that meant a walk to the park with the kids, step aerobics and yoga on the Wii Fit or a pilates DVD (My favorite is the Gaiam Pilates Body Band workout with Ana Caban).

I knew that I would miss a day here and there so I tried to make sure that I just took it one day at a time. At one point I went 10 days without missing a day, it was kind of fun to see how far I could get. I even took a couple of walks at my parent’s house after Sunday dinner to avoid breaking the streak. But when we took our vacation to Williamsburg I took a hiatus from my exercise and never really got back into it again. Since then I’m struggled with getting regular exercise into my schedule. I would do Fit2B Studio workouts three times one week, and then nothing for another week, then two more days the week after that. I knew that some exercise was better than none, but I wanted a goal, something to shoot for.

So two weeks ago I started the Fit2B Advancing + Couch to 5 K warmup. I call it a couch to 5 K warmup because I am not currently running outside, but rather using the Free Run feature on my Wii Fit. This is not an ideal way to run, but I don’t have a treadmill (more room for one), or a jogging stroller (not that I think I could push my 23 lb 1  year old and 35 lb 4 year old anyway). So running outdoors will only work if I get up super early or run in the late evening, neither of which fits my lifestyle right now. I am planning or running outside eventually, but for now I’m trying to wait out some of the summer’s worst heat. I don’t really trust the Wii Fit’s calculations for how far I’ve run, but I find it useful for letting me know how quickly I’ve run. I chose a duration for my run on the Wii Fit (10, 20 or 30 minutes) and then gauge the intensity of my running based on how far it says I went (I am under no illusions that I really run 3 miles in 20 minutes).

Since the Fit2B Advancing path recommends 2 days of cardio exercise, in addition to the workouts I decided to combine both. I currently do my cardio/Wii Run days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My goal is to do the assigned Fit2B Studio workouts (or the equivalent tummy safe workout) 3 days a week and then take Sunday’s off.  Do I always accomplish this? No. And I don’t allow myself to advance to the next week of the Fit2B Advancing path until I have. Or if I know I have a busy week coming up and won’t be able to fulfill all the requirements of my current week, I’ll repeat the previous week again.

So far I love it. I’m surprised how much I don’t really mind the Wii Free Run (it helps that I put on the 80’s Cardio station on Pandora while I run. Then I only have to survive from song to the next). I’m also really looking forward to running outside in the early mornings, once the weather cools off a bit and the days are a little shorter so my kids sleep in better.

What kind of personal fitness goals have you set? Do you find it easier to be consistent when you have a goal?

If you are interested in Fit2B Studios, don’t forget to take advantage of my coupon code laundryblog, offering you 30% off an annual membership. That’s less than $7 a month.

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Introducing Fit2B Studios

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I was determined to get back into shape after I weaned my son. Almost from the moment I weaned him my bodies daily calorie needs plummeted, therefore even eating less than before (I was always starving when breastfeeding) I still couldn’t keep away the weight creep. Then one day my friend posted on Facebook about Fit2B Studios. She was doing their pregnancy workouts and was very pleased. I decided to check out their site. I found the section on diastasis awareness. I knew that I had had an abdominal separation when I was pregnant with my daughter, but once I went back to doing pilates I recovered nicely. So when I noticed a soft, mushy gap in my middle after my son was born I figured things would return on their own in time. Except it didn’t. I lost the weight without much of a problem (though I did have a little help from an awful stomach bug). But the gap was still there.

 

Then I began to exercise heavily again, trying to compensate for weight creep after I weaned my son. I used my usual workouts like Pilates, but also tried running with my Wii Fit. So I was able to mostly keep my weight stabilized and even lose a little but it didn’t seem to have any impact on my middle. If anything, it seemed like I had a more prominent bulge and I discovered a small umbilical hernia.

 

So when I found the section on diastasis on the Fit2B studio website I followed the instructions for diagnosing the condition of my abs. I noted a 3 finger separation and it felt deep. I was totally freaked out. What could I do? While my abs were still decently strong, I was concerned about the long term effects of an untreated abdominal separation and I didn’t want it to get worse during any future pregnancies. I hemmed and hawed for a while about whether to join Fit2B studios after I tried their complementary Totally Transverse workout. Then I had the opportunity to purchase the Ultimate Homemaking e-bundle, which was a phenomenal deal in its own right, but also included a two month free trial of Fit2B studios. So off I went.

 

I started with the Tummy Safe path. Once those started to feel a little bit easy I opted to use the Fit2 B Beginning path and now I’m combining Fit2B Advancing (still sticking to mostly tummy safe workouts) with my own personal couch to 5K challenge.

 

Fit2B studios monthly price is quite good for what they offer. 60+ workouts and more being offered all the time. $9.99 a month or $99 a year.  As of August 2013, they will finally have their own Roku channel, which I am very excited about.

 

They also have an affiliate program. (This is where I note that if you use the coupon code in this post to sign up I financially benefit in a small way. But mostly you benefit by receiving a discount and taking advantage of this great resource to help improve your health. If you are interested in Fit2B studios I’d appreciate if you use the code laundryblog when you join, as it helps financially support my blog and by extension my family.) I’m pleased to be able to offer my blog readers a discount on their Fit2B Studios memberships. Just enter the code laundryblog and you can join Fit2B Studios for a 30% savings on a one year membership, getting 12 months for less than $7 a month.

 

I’ve been using Fit2B studios for several months and the main reason I even became an affiliate is because I have been really pleased with this company. I have asked so many questions of Bethany Learn (the main instruction and one of the two owners of Fit2B Studios) and she always provides prompt and informative answers.

 

If you have any questions about Fit2B Studios from a user perspective I’d be happy to answer them. This has been a great experience for me and I’m hoping to keep using them for a long time to come.

 

Letting Go of the Good to Pursue the Better: Why I Stopped Reading a Favorite Blog

I had a number of favorite blogs that I started reading back in the beginning of my early blogging days. It was a short list that soon expanded. I added to or deleted from that list based on my time, and the overall effect those blogs were having on my life. But I never stopped reading a blog because it made me so angry and hurt that I couldn’t go there anymore. It was a great blog about natural living with articles on homemade cleaners, gardening and other topics I was interested in. When it came to issues like vaccination, circumcision or the morality of food, I was happy to hear everyone’s perspectives, even if I disagreed at times. But recently there was a post that really got under my skin. It was basically a “we are right, and we have God on our side, so you are wrong.” (I will resist the urge to name the blog, post title or even the topic because that isn’t really the issue here. Also, because I don’t want to defame an otherwise mostly good blog).

I made me cry, because this woman (and by association many of the women in the comments) were accusing me terrible things based on choices I made with long and prayerful consideration in concert with my husband and the spiritual authorities in my life that I respected. I realize that there are moral absolutes in certain areas of life, but I didn’t really think this was one of them. But it was presented to me as a cut, dried done kind of moment. So I called my husband and cried. Then I ranted on facebook among friends. Then I unsubscribed.

This was harder for me than it sounds. I had become part of a community. I trusted the judgment of many of these women and appreciated their insights. But this post didn’t help me, it hurt me, and not in a way that would cause me to me live my life better, but in a way that made me want to shrivel up and die inside. It was the last straw in a series of issues I’ve been dealing with regarding the choices I make and have made in my life that made me want to stop trying. Why bother trying so hard to be a good mom, raise a healthy family, be wise with my finances, seek God’s will in all things and pursue becoming more like Jesus if even when I make what I think are the right choices I will shortly be reminded that I was in fact, not just mistaken, but morally wrong?

So I pulled the plug. Not because the blog challenged me to be a better person. Not because it didn’t have quality content that was applicable to my life. But because it told me that all of my efforts were in vain because my attempts at Godly living completely misplaced. Mind you, I totally recognize that all of our attempts fall short, that is what grace is for. But this was not grace, or speaking the truth in love, but rather the holding up of one person’s opinion on an issue that is debatable but hardly resolvable. It is the kind of issue that I would normally leave up to someone’s conscience, but this blogger felt was better listed as an absolute.

The one positive I can say, is that I came away from this experience with a better sense of why we need to extend grace and a desire to be more understanding towards those whose opinions differ from mine. Between absolutes in life there is a lot of gray area, and trying to make those gray areas black or white sometimes only serves to divide us further than we need to be. Maybe some gray is good because it helps us to think, and forces us to be sure of how we feel in certain areas. Or in some cases, be comfortable with the ambiguity and have to trust God.

Complete Rehab: Giving My Pocket Diapers A Second Life Part 3

If you are just joining us on our bumGenius rehab journey, please start with Part I.

Replacing the hook & loop tabs and laundry tabs.
Usually I first replace the laundry tabs. You don’t have to remove the old laundry tabs unless you want to. You can just sew the new ones right over the old ones.

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Simply place the new tabs over the old ones, stitch all four sides and then an X across the middle for extra stability.

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The bumGenius repair directions suggests sandwiching the hook and loop pieces with the stretchy tab between them. I found this to be incredibly difficult to do so I developed a method that worked easier for me.

First I sew the loop side of the Hook & Loop (the soft side) onto the diaper. Then I sew the hook side (the abrasive side) to the loop side. This way the abrasive side doesn’t scratch against the throat plate of the sewing machine and the Hook & Loop is much less crooked.

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Finished laundry tabs and Aplix tabs from bumGenius repair kit
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Finished DIY laundry tab and small Touchtape hook & loop replacement tabs
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Finished DIY laundry tab and large Touchtape hook & loop replacement tabs

Stitch closed the ends of the elastic channels where the elastic was replaced, sewing along the stitch holes from the previous stitches.

I like to wait until the end to trim all of the loose threads. (If you leave some loose threads on the inside of the diaper, no one will probably notice as long as you are the one using the diapers and you aren’t giving them away or reselling them).

Other procedures I’ve seen, recommend drying the diapers in the dryer to help seal any small holes in the PUL laminate. This is up to you. There is always a remote possibility of damage to the PUL, but bumGenius diapers (while preferably line dried) are approved for occasion dryer use so the risk of damage is low.

I also added some tabs and a front loop strip on two Grobaby (now Grovia) diapers that were given to me as hand-me-downs as well when the hook stopped sticking to the loop fabric laundry tabs. (These are an older design. I believe some kind of hold back strips were included in the newer version to help prevent this problem.) I was surprised to find how easy this was. Grovia is definitely a higher quality diaper with higher quality PUL that was easier and more pleasant to handle than the bumGenius PUL. If I had it to do over again, I might have considered Grovia a little more.

I’ll say right now that I am a beginning seamstress. I am also a lazy sewer. I get easily frustrated, I struggle to cut in a straight line (even when I use a rotary cutter) and I hate pinning. But I want to learn and I think I have the ability to, if I keep at it.

So that was my very long journey through diaper rehab. I hope my documentation of this process will help you as well.

Five Minute Friday: Will I Ever Really Belong?

So much of my life I always felt as though I didn’t quite fit in. In high school I was too obsessed with grades and my faith to fit in with most of the kids my age. Then I got married at the end of my second year in college. Most of my friends were still living the college life and preparing to study abroad during their junior years. When they were planning for internships I was looking for another apartment and a job since new husband had just been laid off. Soon everyone around me began having children and we were married 6 years before our daughter was born. Finally I thought I had found the “club” I fit into, motherhood.

But even within motherhood there were the working moms, the stay-at-home moms, the work-at-home moms. My daughter always seemed to be too old or too young for most of my friends’ kids. By the time baby #2 arrived, I thought I was finally getting into the swing of things. But moms with only one baby seemed standoffish when I invited them to get together. I don’t know if it was my perceived experience or the two car seats in my back seat that made them wary. Then some of my new mom friends began moving on. They were finished with their families and their youngest kids were starting school. They were entering a new phase of life. But I was still knee deep in diapers. Then we decided to try homeschooling. When some of my friends were restarting their careers after staying home for a few years, I was diving into lesson plans and researching home school philosophies.

But even other homes school families didn’t want to let us into their club. My kids were too young, I wasn’t a “real” homeschooler yet, (whatever that means). Someones even my MOPS group, the one place where I thought everyone could fit, seemed to talk of little but birth experiences. Sure, that’s what we all had in common, but there must be other things.

I knew these women and I had things in common besides our kids. But those kids seemed to be a barrier rather than a facilitator of our relationships. I thought that once I had kids I’d have lots of friends because I’d be able to relate to other moms. But making friends hasn’t gotten easier, it’s harder. Sure I can talk to a mom I meet at the playground, I participate in a local MOPS group, and take my daughter to story time at the library. But I rarely have the time (or more honestly, the energy) to follow up and build relationships.

I wish I had a magic formula for you, a step by step plan that would lead to new friends and deeper relationships. But I haven’t found the answers myself. I know sometimes it involves extending myself and giving up convenience, like being 20 minutes late for a park play date because decided to knock on my neighbors door to invite her along. It means giving of our time and resources, like making desserts for a couple stressed young moms to give them a small luxury. Another part may be accepting that this is a season I’m in and look for opportunities to connect with others, in spite of the different places we are in. So in today’s Five Minute Friday I don’t have any answers, not really. No pithy recommendations or profound conclusions. Just questions of my own.

How do we have friends in spite of our children rather than because of them?

For Those Times When You Think You’re The Only One

When the baby won’t nap and the preschoolers temper has flared again, resulting in lost privileges, cancelled outings and a long time-out in her room. For those times when you think your kid is the only one who doesn’t obey the first, second or 13th time. When you think you are at your wits end and can’t take even another second of the whining, hitting, screaming and needing. Oh, the needing. The constant clinging, pulling neediness of these little creatures that we  created thinking that they would enhance our lives, not destroy and remake them.

For those low moments as a mom when you are ready to ship them off to toddler boot camp or call the super nanny, and you are sure everyone and anyone is doing a better job than you. I’ll remind you of something that I could really use myself today. You are the best mom for your kids.

As hard as it seems, no one else can raise them better than you. Yes, it is hard. Yes, there are days when you wish you could quit. You wonder if this whole attempt at parenthood and family life was a mistake. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t and isn’t). If you didn’t care so much, it wouldn’t hurt so badly. That’s how I know you are a good mom. You care about the end result.

Our kids tear open our old wounds and reveal our worst features. I see my daughter miss out on opportunities because of her misbehavior and I see my own mistakes in life that I wish I could do over again. I remember all the times I wanted to avoid punishment and insisted I’d learned my lesson from the threat of punishment alone. But I probably wouldn’t remember those incidents today, if my parents hadn’t stood firm. So I hold the line. With calm explanations and tears both seen and hidden, I stick to my guns when more than anything I want to fold. Give up, and just let her have her way so that peace can be restored again.

So when you think you are the only one, that it won’t get any better, and that some how you failed. Take my word for it: You Aren’t, It Will, and You Haven’t. Sending out prayers today for all the other moms that have had days like this one.

Complete Rehab: Giving My Pocket Diapers A Second Life Part 2

So now on to the scary part.  Taking the diaper apart. (If you are just joining us, please check out Part I)

First step, remove all of the old hook and loop tabs. Lots of seam ripping, but very doable. Try to avoid snagging the stretchy tabs whenever possible, as it will weaken the diaper. (Don’t worry, I snagged mine a few times, it’s unavoidable sometimes unless you are an expert seam ripper.)

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Second step, this was the big one, open up all the seams (both inside and out) to remove the front loop strip. Start by ripping out the stitches on the front loop itself. Then take out the stitches at the top of the diaper. This will help you to see whether your PUL is already in two convenient pieces of whether you will have to cut it.

IMG_1481This whole process was terrifying. I found a great youtube video that walked me through it. Unfortunately the video didn’t document putting the diapers back together as well as I would have liked so I kind of had to fudge it. Having to cut the PUL on the top edge of the diaper on all the 3.0s and some of the 4.0s scared me. I kept telling myself that at this point I had nothing left to lose. I did cut a lot of them crooked, which made reassembling harder, but I did get better at it as I went along.

Ripping out the top seams and part way down the side seams of 28 diapers was a very long process that I did while watching TV in the evenings over the course of weeks. It was frustrating as it led to lots of loose bits of thread all over my house. This was one point where I was almost ready to pack it in. If you feel that way now, try and persevere. The good part is coming.

Reassembling the Diaper

I found it easier to reassemble the diaper in the following way:

Replace elastic

Attach front loop strip

Reassemble diaper

Sew on new laundry tabs

Attach new hook and loop tabs

Sew the ends of the leg and back elastic channels where elastic was replaced.

Replacing Leg and Back Elastic

The first few times I replaced leg elastic I tried to use the sewing machine. This was a disaster. Finally a friend suggested that I sew the elastic on by hand, using a thimble if needed. I quickly realized that she was right.

The below pictures are of replacing the back elastic, but it works pretty much the same regardless of it you are replacing the back or leg elastic.
Sew the new elastic to the old elastic as close where it is attached as possible.

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Use a seam ripper to pull out just enough stitches to expose the elastic on both ends. Turn the diaper inside out.

IMG_1984 Then cut the old elastic. Secure the detached end of the new elastic to the detached end of the old elastic with a safety pin.

IMG_1985  Pull on the attached end of the old elastic until the safety pin comes through the channel dragging the new elastic. Then remove the safety pin, attach the loose end of the new elastic and then clip off the last of the old elastic.

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Sewing on new front loop strip

This can be scary, but really isn’t so bad. Use the old strip as your model for cutting a new strip of loop. I like to cut mine a little long. If you have as many diapers to replace as I did, I recommend cutting several strips at a time so you have a stack ready.

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I’ve seen demonstrations pinning the elastic on with the pins running in either direction. I used the typical rule and pinned in the short direction. I tried pinning just the ends initially but it led to too much bunching when I tried to sew.

The hardest part of sewing on the new front loop strip is keeping the nylon sheet the goes behind the loop strip from getting sewn into the loop during reattachment. It is a pain, but doable. I’ve had to rip out a few and redo them, but ultimately no permanent harm was done. It might be worth using a safety pin to hold it out of the way. Better one or two holes then a whole row of holes from stitching through the vinyl.

Sewing the Diaper back together

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Restitching the hems on the interior sides (this can be done in several different ways depending on how you choose to do it). Mine had fairly intact creases so I just lined up the fabric, folded it over, and let the presser foot hold it in place while I sewed the sew. It wasn’t the easiest and it definitely led to some crooked seams, but so far it hasn’t affected the functionality of the diapers.

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Then turn the diaper right side out and stitch the side and top seams.

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This image beautifully highlights my crooked top stitching, but the diapers do work, so I guess that’s all that matters.

I debated whether to serge (well, really just zig zag stitch since I don’t own a serger) the inside seams after I top stitched the outside, but it seemed like to created more problems than it prevented.

In Part 3, I’ll cover sewing on new laundry tabs, attach new hook and loop tabs and sewing the ends of the leg and back elastic channels where elastic was replaced. Stay tuned.