Brain Dump

Remember these? I’m looking for ways to pass the time until baby comes, and writing feels like the most appealing thing at the moment.

1. Pregnancy Weight Gain

I hit 50 lbs gained. Boo. Not what I wanted, but I gained so much while I was sick during the first trimester (no throwing up + constant nausea + desiring nothing but carbs = rapid weight gain) that I knew it was going to be somewhere in the 40-50 lb range. Doesn’t this picture make it look like I’ve gained several of those pounds just in my lips? They’re huge!


2. Candy Crush

This is a game you can play on your computer or mobile device (search for it in the app store, if you dare) and it has been my late-pregnancy-get-this-baby-out-of-me-I’m-tired-of-waiting saving grace. Is the day dragging? I whip out the ipad and play until I run out of lives and life is good again.

3. Helmet

Thanks for all of your advice regarding helmets on my post yesterday. Growing up in the country meant we were kind of laid back about wearing them (at least from what I remember). Or maybe that was just a 1990’s thing? I ordered this one from Amazon yesterday.

4. Weight Loss Rewards

Speaking of weight gain, I sat down yesterday and set rewards for every 5 pounds lost. Weight loss is hard work, but I think this motivation is really going to help. I won’t share the whole list, but it has things like a bluetooth scale, cooking class, and a few weeks of buying fresh flowers at the farmer’s market. I tried to structure it so that the rewards become more and more exciting (and yes, a bit more expensive) so that when I’m starting to burn out, and weight loss becomes twice as difficult, I want to keep going. Toward the end I earn a family photography session with a photographer I really love, which I’m already so excited about! Is this something you’ve done in the past? It was surprisingly difficult to come up with rewards that weren’t centered around food (which seems like it would be the opposite of helpful 🙂 ).

5. Paleo

And on one more weight loss note, I’ve had a few questions about why I chose to do the Paleo menu for my most recent Once a Month Cooking day, because Paleo is kind of the opposite of being a mostly-vegetarian. I really love eating as a vegetarian, and when I go to a restaurant I find myself gravitating toward the meatless options. My conscious feels better knowing I’m eating less meat, as I think truly humane options are incredibly difficult to find (as well as expensive).

Over time I’ve realized though, that low-carb, and specifically Paleo, is the most effective way for me to lose weight. I’d still like to have a whole foods based diet, but for the 75 pounds I’d like to lose, I’ll focus on a diet heavier in meat and vegetables. Paleo is a term I can use that best describes what that approach will be (though I’m still thinking over my personal approach to dairy, as I have a hard time imagining life without it!). In the long-term I’d like to be in a place where I go back to eating mostly-vegetarian because I think it’s going to be possible for me to maintain my weight while eating that way. I know it’s very controversial to talk about going on a “diet” in a way that sounds like anything other than a permanent change, but I see this as two different approaches to eating whole foods. I’ll start with one, and transition to the other. That’s my plan for now, and it might change as I learn more about myself and what works best for me.

6. Jenna Cole in Palo Alto

I’ve gone back and forth a hundred times. Do I want to launch Jenna Cole in this area? It looks like we’re going to stay here for a lot longer than we stayed in Dallas or Chicago, so I wouldn’t have to go through the painful process of building up a clientele and leaving them yet again. With That Husband working so much, will I have time to give my business and clients the time they need while juggling the demands of two young children? I love photography though, and I miss it. Now that I’m done with school and done settling in to this new area, I think it’s a real possibility again. If I do it, I’m going to have to work to be very, very disciplined because time will be limited. No more Candy Crush I think.

Who else is self-employed with young children at home. How do you make it all work?



24 thoughts on “Brain Dump

  1. You look great in that photo – you definitely have a pregnancy glow!

    I am self-employed with a 5 year old. Granted he goes to kindergarten, but it is definitely challenging! Most of my work gets done when he’s in school or in the evenings. Also, I’m a single mom and my son’s father lives in another state, so I rely on family to help out when I have a photo session.

    Jenna Reply:

    I really admire you for making all of that work! I will sometimes talk about how hard it is to have T1 by myself for 4 days/week while TH travels (and it is hard) but it’s nothing like being an actual single parent. He’s with us on the weekends, he’s supporting us financially (and emotionally too). His job is really driving home to me how difficult single parenting really is!

    I think the thing that’s holding me back is trying to figure out if I can make enough to warrant the childcare I need. Occasional babysitting when I’m really busy and of course for weddings/shoots. Grateful to have the financial freedom to give it a try, and move on to something else if it doesn’t work.

    Sheila Reply:

    It’s definitely worth a try! You are so talented – If I ever make it up to the Bay Area I would totally hire you!

  2. I am working on 20-30 pounds I want to lose after the holidays and generally gaining weight last year. For 10 pounds, my reward is a Lulu Lemon workout top – more expensive than I’d usually get, and it encourages me to keep working out! I’m getting there! Haven’t decided on other rewards. I like the idea of every five pounds though, I may have to increase the frequency with which I get my rewards. Best wishes for the end of your pregnancy!

  3. We were definitely more lax about helmets growing up in the 90s. My parents were sticklers for them, but most of my friends didn’t have to wear them – but I think, like carseats, we keep advancing technology in ways that keep kids safer. Plus, they are one of those things that is just so cheap compared to the benefit (unlike say, carseats) that it’s absolutely worth it to invest. (Can you tell I bought my husband a fancy new helmet for Christmas?)

    I’m finally relatively in the realm of my goal weight, which is awesome, and I’m no longer aggressively trying to lose because then my work clothes won’t fit and I don’t have the $1000 to spend on a new warddrobe. So I’m focusing on strength work and other goals, but my motivation has been stalled lately so maybe I too will come up with some kind of goal system. I do like the idea!

  4. Dave bought the Withings scale (syncs with the armband thing) a few months ago and we really like it! I love that either of us can just step on the scale and it knows who we are and records our data on our accounts accordingly. We don’t have to press anything or do anything to note who we are or to get it to send our data, just step on the scale. Maybe they all do this, but I think it’s awesome.

    And I wonder too if the laxness on helmets was a 90s thing. I don’t think I even owned a helmet growing up and I rode my bike to school every day in elementary school. It’s hard for me to remember to have Eli wear one because the necessity just isn’t rooted in my brain (although I DO know that it’s necessary and he does need to wear one).

  5. Jenna,
    Sometimes it is easier to work than take care of two small kids all day. Maybe you can carve out a few hours for yourself and start out slow. I think it is important to have a balance of being the mother you want to be and the woman you also need to be. Best Wishes

  6. Enjoyed this ‘brain dump’ – a lot of interesting insights into a variety of interesting topics!
    Re Jenna Cole Photography – When you feel up to it, I definitely think you should give it a try.

    I firmly believe we are better mothers, wives, partners, friends, etc when we, as women, have a chance to have a creative and intellectual outlet outside the home. It rejuvenates and re-energizes us and helps us be the version of ourselves.

    Jenna, if I ever come down to Palo Alto I will absolutely hire you!

    Kate Reply:

    *best* version of ourselves

  7. Just a quick point – I follow a paleo/primal diet very closely (and have lost 20+ pounds doing so!) and I very much enjoy dairy! Some people are sticklers that paleo=no dairy, but I think as long as your body can tolerate it, then don’t stress over it too much. As long as you’re finding good, quality products and making sure that they are full fat (fat=your friend!), you’re probably fine to eat it in moderation. Trust me, I’d never sub out full fat cream in a recipe for coconut milk 😉

    Jenna Reply:

    This makes my day! I might do Whole 30 initially to force myself to give up some things that I have come to rely on, and then reintroduce. But it’s nice to know it’s a long-term solution I can work with!

  8. Helmet use must have been in full force in the 90’s too, because my mom was a stickler. We wore helmets, shin guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards to ride our bikes or roller blade. I kid you not. We may not have looked “cool” but the bright side? I never broke a bone until last year when I fell down the stairs. And Charlie will most definitely be wearing a helmet when she starts riding (bikes AND horses) around here as it’s rock country. As in, there’s literally a rock every inch. I know it well after using a massive rock saw to dig our propane and electrical trenches!

    Jenna Reply:

    I would ride the horse we had bareback with no helmet all the time! We weren’t quite so safety conscious I guess.

  9. If you do start up Jenna Cole down there and if my family ever goes down I’d totally hire you to take pictures of my family.

    On the topic of vegetarianism vs. meat eating, I was an ethical vegetarian for years but ended up going back to eating meat after some serious thought. My thought process was this: even if you buy all organic produce the manure will still come from animals so animals would still have to be kept. What happens to the manure animals after they reach the end of their lives? Are we to just through it all away? That seemed very wasteful to me. I just bring this up because I’m actually curious about your take on it.

    Jenna Reply:

    So interesting! Farmers like my dad definitely have to buy huge amounts of manure, and I hadn’t put the connection together that technically if everyone went vegetarian (which of course will never happen, haha) animals would have to be domesticated/raised just to meet the needs of the vegetables. That’s one reason why I love Joel Salatin and his approach to running Polyface farms. I’d still like to be better about avoiding factory farm meat, but being a full-time vegetarian definitely isn’t for me. My mom made roast and potatoes for us, and you know what? It’s so good that I want to eat it for every meal! I can’t imagine cutting that out of my life entirely.

  10. Have you heard of He advocates Primal Living – similar to Paleo. His basic message about dairy is that if you tolerate it digestively, then its fine to include in your diet. He has a hierarchy thought – Raw, full fat is best (fermented even better) then organic. If you search his website you can find his posts about diary and what he recommends and why. His website is really great and inspirational if you are trying to eat and live Paleo.

    Jenna Reply:

    I’m excited to read his thoughts on dairy! My mom is allergic to dairy, and husband is lactose intolerant but I have no issues. I remarked the other day that it made no sense to me that paleo would say you can eat the meat of the animal, but not the milk (beef, goat, sheep, etc).

    And I gave up reduced fat/fat free dairy a few years ago. I can’t imagine ever going back! Life is so much better when you’ve got the fat. I am looking forward to the day when the rest of society realizes that fat isn’t the enemy.

    Gwen Reply:

    I “think” (and I’m not sure because I’ve only just started looking into Paleo and Primal myself, so don’t quote me!) that the idea is that ancient people only gave dairy to babies. So we as adults shouldn’t consume it at all.

    Mostly I’m totally in love with my recent discovery of Nourishing Traditions, Real Food, and Weston A. Price. They believe in full fat dairy in moderation. As well as meat and fish in moderation. Grains and legumes aren’t cut out completely but they are very reduced.

    The main diet is veggies and fruits, bone broth, fermented foods (such as sourdough bread or fermented veggies -I’m making pickles!- or drinks), bone broth, and plenty of butter and coconut oil. So far it’s the perfect diet for me. I don’t even mind the cod liver oil pills everyday. (I’m still learning so I’m sorry if I’m goofing this description up!)

    When you go back to mostly vegetarian…e-mail me. A friend lent me a really great cookbook. So far my meat and potatoes husband loves the recipes for meatless dinners!

  11. I love these posts! and am so jealous of your lips. I wish mine were so luscious looking: people pay good money for that you know!

  12. When I lost weight before getting pregnant, I did 5 lbs. rewards. It was incredibly motivating to begin with. Towards the end though, it didn’t matter to me. Hitting the next milestone was the most exciting part of it and at that point I was getting more fit that I felt good about what I was accomplishing and that was enough. However, I still think it’s a good idea and a family photo session is a perfect end reward! When I make up my next list that’s definitely going on it.

  13. Enjoyed this brain dump- thanks for sharing! And congrats on your beautiful new family member!

    re: Paleo — I feel in a similar boat- I was vegetarian for 12 years and just feel better spiritually when I’m not eating meat, but I do recognize I stay slimmer on a low-grain diet, which implies eating occasional meat. (A legume-heavy vegetarian “paleo” diet doesn’t work well for me.)

    I try to be really strict about where animal products come from though. We get happy chicken eggs from a friend and we recently split a 1/4 cow with a friend, which came out to be a great purchase- $5.25/lb for 30 lbs of steaks, roasts, and ground beef (we’re in rural Michigan so I suspect prices may very well be deflated here). I really like to know it was one animal, and how he lived and died- it almost restores a sort of real relationship.

    Also, loved the photographer you shared. Gorgeous! The family session will be something wonderful to look forward to!

    Jenna Reply:

    We bought a freezer for the garage, in part, so we could buy some meat like that. I need to get some ordered!

    Steph Reply:

    Good idea – I’m looking forward to having a separate freezer! We got lucky because we went in on it with a friend with a big freezer, so she has 90% of it at the moment — 60 lbs is a lot! I don’t think we would have been able to do it otherwise with a tiny apartment. 🙂

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