A body not my own…

Those of you with children know the struggle of the post partum life. You worked to grow a baby & your body feels foreign the entire time- then the baby arrives & you try to figure out how to “feel like yourself again”. Physically, emotionally- a giant mess! Your body feels like it’s made of bread dough, & your mind is so scattered it’s hard to breathe some times. My favorite as a breast feeding mom is how often I wake up & think I had been holding her- I search the bed covers frantically before realizing she is safely in her bassinet. 

My journey through pregnancy was tough- not a single thing went as I had hoped besides the very end result of a healthy happy beautiful girl coming into the world. I can’t talk about her birth without crying. It will forever be a source of such intense fear- I thought I was going to lose her forever. I considered myself very healthy before pregnancy- I learned quickly that means jack shit during pregnancy- your body has a mind of its own, it’s run by hormones & a placenta that don’t know your plans or your life before. At 19 weeks, I was put on a week of bed rest for an infection that left me in unbearable pain. At 20 weeks? I ended up with gestational diabetes. I sobbed- what did I do wrong? How do I control this? Relatively easily it turns out! Unless you count in pregnancy cravings- which no one ever does. My blood sugar was picture perfect the entire pregnancy. I started contractions from another infection around 30 weeks- and that’s when they started noticing my blood pressure rising. That’s what got me on the induction train. Choo choo! No more water birth I had hoped for and all the weekly monitoring no one wants. I started labor at 37 weeks but didn’t dilate enough- I was sent home to hope my body would push itself all the way into labor. I tried everything, all the old wives tales. I couldn’t work. I could barely take a daily walk or sleep for that matter. At 38 weeks it was go time. Full induction. We were to arrive at the hospital at 7am and get the ball rolling the rest of the way. If you have been lucky enough to have a vaginal birth that kick started on its own, you have no idea the torture devices that exist to try to open a woman’s cervix! My poor husband had to watch the dr dig around up there so many times and hold my hand while I tried to be brave as relative strangers shoved their arms in up to their elbow. At around 10pm we were on a roll, I was dilated to 5! They decided to reach up there with a glorified crochet hook & see if they could get my water to break and move this show a little further along. By midnight- My water had broken, I was in horrible pain & exhausted. I started being monitored a little more closely- through every complication my baby girl had never faultered- her heartbeat remain a steady source of comfort for me, no matter what, I wasn’t a failure because she was fine. And then she wasn’t. All the sudden the nurses started prepping me for surgery as my dr said I’m sorry, I know this is so far from your plan but we are losing her. She has to come out now, if we wait…. Why would I wait? Why would we even chance that we wouldn’t get to keep her in this world? 15 mins later, I had a beautiful baby next to my head as I cried- is she ok? Please tell me she is ok! My poor poor husband. He repeated it as many times as my drug induced self needed to hear. She was better than ok. She was perfect. Tiny at just 5lb 9oz- but perfect. They found that her cord had been too small, that’s why she wasn’t growing more, why I felt so sick near the end, and why we started to lose her after the cushion of the amniotic fluid was gone. 

In recovery, my husband helped me to breast feed. Laying there covered in tubes after they had to put me out completely to stop my shaking long enough to close my csection…. I couldn’t get her to latch on my own. I’ve never loved my husband more, or had something mean so much to me. Finally, something I planned had worked! I could do this! My body fought me on being pregnant, but I was born to be a mom. I quickly found that I was able to move much better than most after a csection. My blood pressure stayed high- with all the visits from Drs & nurses, I couldn’t rest. I convinced them to let me go home only about 48 hrs after her birth. My blood pressure on release was around 145/94. I went to the dr the very next day for both of us to be checked, it was down to 122/79. I was a new girl!

Fast forward a week and my incision was infected. I couldn’t feel it so I was doing too much. I didn’t want to nap, I didn’t want to ask for help- my body could do so much, I wasn’t in pain. After an er visit, and a week of 4x a day antibiotics, and being told to cool it, I was back on track. Right? Wrong. Fast forward another week or so to so much more blood being lost & my incision looking infected again, I went back to the surgeon. Not an infection he says! You’re allergic to the dissolvable stitches and your body is trying to show them out of your belly. He likened it to a zit. Nothing to do but keep it clean and let it happen he said. Thank the lord I could stop the antibiotics that were killing my stomach. But at 6 weeks post partum I was told to only walk. My incision was still so inflamed, my bleeding still so heavy- I needed to heal physically before I could try to get stronger- or to me, heal mentally. 

So much of my identity as a trainer & instuctor is in my body. It’s abilities, its strength- my confidence. It’s 7 weeks now. Rowan June is more beautiful every day. And I feel more hideous. Less like myself mentally & physically than I’ve ver been. We walk every day. My weight is less than it was when I got pregnant. But my figure….. Is awful. I know it will come back. I know I need to be healthy first. But my frustration in being in a body that is not my own has never been higher. I know this is temporary. I have time to get stronger before I go back to work, and can continue after. But for now? I am struggling. My focus stays on my health & on my joy- my beautiful girl.  

  
 

Workout Wednesday- Good for the hips!

This workout requires some dumbbells  light ones are just fine, but if you’ve got a few sets, switch between them as you need. Do you listen to your body as you workout? Do you push to a point of fatigue? No one is going to do it for you, you have to do it yourself and the hard part is that only you know that point. Challenge yourself to learn a workout and then learn to push harder each time you do it. My favorite quote related to fitness is:

Warm up:

Side step squat & dumbbell pull down: start with feet hip width apart and parallel, take your arms overhead with dumbbells in hands. Step out to a wide squat position with your right foot, and pull your elbows down toward your hips. Step back together pressing the weights back to the ceiling, repeat stepping to the left. Alternate sides for 60 seconds. (This can be done without weights, or be made into a squat jack by jumping out to the squat position)

Mountain climber for 30 seconds

Plie & Row: Stand with feet wider than your hips, toes turned out toward a 45 degree angle, (full turnout is not needed) palms face your body as you plie down bringing your hips down toward knee level. Keep head & chest up, imagine you are sliding down a wall. As your press through your heels to come back to standing, draw the weights up toward your chin, bringing your elbows up to shoulder height. Repeat for 60 seconds.

Mountain climber for 45 seconds

Hook to 90 degree fly: Start standing with feet hip width apart and parallel, dumbbells in hand, elbows at 90 degrees at your sides. Step your right foot behind you and hooked toward the left side of your body so that you get a stretch through your left hip. As you step your feet back together, lift your elbows up to shoulder height, knuckles point straight forward. Repeat x15, then switch sides

Shoulder sequence: Stand with feet hip width apart and parallel, soft knees, abs tight, elbows at 90 degrees at shoulder height. Flip up to goal posts and back to knuckles forward. x15 Hold up in goal posts (knuckles to ceiling) and pull your elbows to your hips, press back up to bring elbows to shoulder height x15 Hold up in goal posts and squeeze your shoulders back x15

Mountain climber for 60 seconds

Bridge sequence: Lay on your back, knees bent, feet flat and hip width apart or slightly wider. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up toward knee height (keep focus on glutes) x15 Hold lifted at top and pulse higher x15 Hold hips high and extend your right leg up to the ceiling, lower hips toward the floor and lift back up x15 Hold hips high and pulse higher x15 Repeat with left leg extended up.

Bring knees to chest to stretch out low back and hips

Bicycle for 60 seconds

Triceps sequence: Bring knees bent and feet flat, arms extend to ceiling with weights in hands. Hips can come lifted up off the mat slightly to engage glutes. (they can also rest if you need a rest!) Keeping elbows tight toward each other and pointed straight to the ceiling, lower your weights toward your ears and press straight back up (for this to be most effective, elbows stay in the same position and merely bend to lower the weights the more additional movement, the less you are concentrating on the back of the arms) x10, Hold at halfway so elbows are at 90 degrees and take tiny pulses up x10 Come back to full range of motion x10 Hold at halfway and squeeze your elbows toward each other x10 Last 10 full range of motion

Bicycle for 90 seconds, last 30 seconds as fast as you can go while still controlling the movement.

Need modifications? Pictures? Video? Shoot me an email and I’d be happy to post them!

 

Workout Wednesday- Body Weight Only, Total Body Circuit

Please remember to email me if you need modifications or for a mere $5 I will be happy to make you a video you can keep forever 🙂

Inchworm: Stand feet hip width apart and parallel, take a deep breath and reach for the ceiling, exhale and fold forward reaching for your toes. Bend your knees enough to bring your hands to flat and walk your hands out to a plank position. Keeping your elbows tight to your rib cage, take one push up and walk your hands back to your feet. Come all the way to standing and repeat x10 (if you are more advanced, take two push ups at each walk out, need to modify, put your knees down for your push up)

Extended Down Dog Push Up: Come into a down dog position, tilt your finger tips toward each other slightly, extend one leg up to ceiling. Bend your elbows bringing the top of your head down toward your mat and extend. Repeat x10 with each leg extended.

Plie: Come to standing with your feet wider than  your hips and turned out to about a 45 degree angle (full turnout is not needed!) hands can be wherever you need them to be-even at a chair or countertop for balance. Take 20 plie’s at full range of motion, bring your hips to knee height (you should have a straight line from knee to ankle at your lowest point) hold the last one at your lowest point and pulse lower x10, hold low and press your knees back x15.

Down dog to plank kicks: Come back to your down dog position, extend your right leg to the ceiling, as you exhale, shift forward to your plank drawing your knee to your right elbow and then kick back to ceiling drawing your abs in tighter to help lift your hips. Repeat x10, then take another set taking your right knee to your left elbow threading under your body x10. Rest into childs pose and repeat on the opposite side.

Reverse lunge kick up to standing splits: (don’t worry, I don’t expect you to actually get into standing splits 🙂 you just want to get your back leg as high as you possibly can to engage more muscle groups) Come to standing with your feet hip width apart and parallel, step back into a runners lunge with your right leg, reach your hands in front of your left foot about 6 inches as you straigten your left leg and reach your right leg as high to ceiling as you can. Step right back into your runners lunge with your right leg. Repeat x15 on each side.

Table top Push Ups: Come to seated and take your hands behind your hips, your feet hip width apart and parallel. Lift your hips up as high to ceiling as you can. Bend your elbows to bring your hips back to hover over the floor and press back up x10, hold the last one as low as you can and take tiny pulses x10 (think little bend, little press, instead of full range of motion) then take x10 more full range of motion, end with x10 more tiny pulses.

Side plank hip lift: Come to a side plank on your elbow. Feet can be stacked or heel to toe. Lift your hip higher x20 repeat on the opposite side.

Single leg jack knife: lay flat on your back, arms overhead, or hands behind your head elbows wide to challenge. Take a deep breath and as you exhale come to seated bringing your right leg to your chest, slowly control back down.Alternate sides, focus on drawing your abs into your spine with every movement. Do them until you want to die….. just kidding, 60 seconds 🙂

Try to repeat the entire sequence, start to finish 3x through.

Trying to be well, fit & sane….while pregnant

Hello! I’ve been away for some time from my blog. We got married, we got stuck in a hurricane on our honeymoon in September and fast forward to Christmas, we found out I was having a baby. It’s been a rollercoaster to say the least. I spent most of 2014 trying to get my body to be well enough to enjoy my wedding. My chronic migraine treatment was intense. Then as soon as we got home from our wicked and wonderful retreat to Mexico, where I was forced to wean off many medications due to being stranded without them (or power, or running water….) I went off all medications completely. I’ve always wanted children. My mom had a horrible time getting and staying pregnant and I always assumed the same would be true for me. I am 30 years old, let’s take out the goalies and see what happens we said! It will probably take awhile we said! Ha! We were blessed ever so quickly with the news that a baby girl was going to join us by our first wedding anniversary.

Like many chronic migraine sufferers, I dreamed of a reprieve during pregnancy. That has not been the case. I am hyper mobile in most joints- I have never been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos officially but that is what my current doctor is leaning towards. The hormones in pregnancy have made most of my issues worse, not better. My joints are ‘slipping’ out of place easier, I’m seeing the chiropractor every 2 weeks instead of every few months and my migraines, although less frequent/severe, still come. Sigh.

My workouts have had to change. I still teach but no longer as much. I am currently teaching 2 barre, 3 yoga, and one bootcamp regularly. I can no longer do the majority of the bootcamp. I found that my hips would come out of place. Barre, with its small isometric movements has been my best option.

I am frustrated to say the least. I am taking magnesium to help with headaches and when absolutely necessary having tylenol, a cup of coffee, and ice pack and rest….. but for all you migraine sufferers out there, you know how little that actually does.

I am angry with myself. I wanted to be pregnant and have a baby for so long in my life that I told myself I would always enjoy it, no matter how dreadful pieces can be. And I’m failing at that. My first trimester was miserable with nausea that wouldn’t quit, could wake me from my sleep. Now my second trimester almost finished, I am striving to just find joy in each day… which is her- her kicks usually or spending time in her baby room trying to find simple ways to make it beautiful. I’m getting pain in my hands & wrists, even though I’ve gained very little weight…. trying desperately to get my mind to be ok.

I’m thankful I’m able to be active. I teach. I walk my pup. I got in the pool last week, I’ll do that again this week.

I’ll keep trying. I’ll keep trying to be well. For me and for her.

I will remember that not all days will be good and to do what I can, when I can.

Trying Gluten-Free (Again)

It’s no secret that our bodies change with age. We grow, wrinkle, slouch, gain aches and pains, grow hair where we don’t want it… Time can be cruel. But that’s just to our outsides really. Recently, I’ve been having a lot of conversations about the havoc gluten can wreak on a seemingly innocent victim. Aches, pains, swelling, headaches, blurred vision, stomach issues and migraines just to name a few. Very similar to the side effects of aspartame, which if you haven’t given up yet, I urge you strongly. I am not a nutritionist, I am not a dietician. I am a person living with chronic pain who has sought the advice of experts in this field. I am currently on day 2 of living without gluten. My words don’t come together the way I want, but otherwise I am feeling quite well. I had been on a hard stint of pain that escalated after a meal heavy in gluten. I believe it’s time to try again. I have done this before without any result, but I believe our bodies our constantly evolving. Certain foods become harder to process, either due to age, too many preservatives or just because it plain doesn’t want to anymore. Share with me your story. Tell me what you changed in your diet that made the difference, whether it is in pain, irritability, discomfort or aesthetics (sometimes leaving something out of your diet allows you to finally process food the right way instead of storing it). Did a book lead you to it? Wheat belly or the China Study perhaps?

 

Wellness

I got a question today about exercise abuse. We’ve all seen it. People using exercise as an escape- they usually choose one form until their body gives out in some way. The knees, the hips, the back… But they keep going. They reach for those endorphins. So, the question was, how do you urge someone to cross train to save their body? How do you get them to see that adding in yoga, Pilates, swimming- to a regular running routine will actually make them stronger? Better? How massage can help, and supplements or ease joint pain? We all think we know best for our body- so how do you nicely tell a loved one or friend that you think they are hurting themselves? Exercise can be as much of an addiction as anything and it takes balance to make it a healthy part of your life. It doesn’t have to be running, I’ve seen yoga addicts in studios as well. It could be any form.

What would you do?

Bogo giveaway

It’s a beautiful Wednesday for a workout! Buy one video today, get the second of your choice for free. If you don’t see a second one you want to try, let me know and I’ll put it up! It’s that easy! I don’t care what you call it, workout Wednesday, wellness Wednesday, or goodness I hate Wednesday! Do something positive just for you. Be well.

Fake it till you make it

There have been a lot of times in my life where the mantra Fake it till you make it, has come in handy. When learning anything, when trying to get better at anything, when trying to get through a hard time… The situations are limitless because you are limitless. There are occasions where I have to teach but I feel like garbage, I fake it. I act like I’m fine and I do actually feel better when the class is done, it’s like I tricked my brain into forgetting my allergies were terrible. When I start a new pose, going toward it with the determination to conquer it but not really knowing if I have the strength to accomplish it… I fake it. I just do it. Even for a short time until it eventually gets easier. When my self esteem is low and all I see in the mirror are flaws, I pull myself together as best I can and pretend to be confident. No one sees your flaws like you do. Fake it, pretend you like the way you look, pretend you don’t see the little things like a hair out of place. Your confidence makes you beautiful. Not perfect features.

In most things in life, you need to have the courage to try, to learn and to grow. And sometimes that means you need to fake it till you make it. Put yourself out there.

Do not be your harshest critic- it’s silly! Life is too short and you are too lucky.

Be well. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. And always have the confidence to try.

New & different

In the world of exercise, most of us pick one form & stick with it. It becomes easy so we continue & then wonder why we don’t see results. The human body is an amazing machine. It can adapt to the most incredible circumstances, allowing us to survive unbelievable times. It also allows us to stop seeing results. We need to continue to evolve & be creative. 20 push-ups may leave you sore for a week initially but eventually, with practice, will feel like a cake walk. I have had the blessing in my life of being able to teach so many different formats that I am able to cross train, I love to swim and run and bike so my cardio changes with my mood. Yoga is always my go to favorite. I am naturally flexible & I love how much it challenges me & slows my regularly anxious mind. This past weekend I learned a different form of the barre method called Pure Barre. After 4 days of intense training and countless classes, I already see results. I’m very excited to teach this amazing method. It incorporates barre & Pilates in tiny movements, bringing your muscles to shake and fatigue like you wouldn’t believe possible. No matter what your chosen form of exercise is, this method will challenge you. It works you muscles to lift, tone and burn. It is the perfect compliment to any existing workout routine. And if you haven’t found a form of exercise you love yet, I highly recommend finding a studio in your area. It will be fast, you will be lost at first, and every class you go to will bring you more results, purely because your control will intensify & your understanding of the work will come together. It is low impact, and especially helpful for post-pregnancy bodies. It reminded me how far I have to go. It helped me realize how much I cheat myself my skipping things that are hard or when I let myself quit. Challenge yourself to try something new this week. Find muscles you didn’t know were there. It’s good for your muscles, joints, and your brain. They all need the challenge. Be open to change, be ready to hate whatever you choose while you’re doing it. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll love how you feel when you’re finished.

Be well!

Yoga for the kiddos

Need some rainy day fun? You don’t need a yoga mat or video- just take this list of poses and how to make them fun. Great for all ages- to connect with your child, to help them learn & be aware. If you are unsure of any poses because you are new to yoga, I recommend http://www.iyogalife.com, it has each pose described & a picture.

Each pose is listed first, and followed by how to make it fun:

Tree- balance & sway your branches in the breeze

Down dog- bark like a dog

Up dog- howl at the moon

Child’s pose- go to sleep! Pretend to snore

Cat- draw spine up & meow!

Cow- drop belly/utters & moo!!

Tiger- reach out opposite arm & leg as you roar reaching for your prey

Pigeon- coo like a pigeon, see if your kiddo can roll their tongue

Butterfly- where will you fly to? Butterflies can fly a million miles!

Boat- hold & balance, imagine the waves

Seated forward fold- pretend you are an alligator chomping down as you touch your fingers to your toes

Turtle- roll into a ball on your back & imagine being stuck on your shell

Savasana- lay back, let palms face the ceiling, widen the mouth into a big yawn, quietly breathe and see if your kiddos have any stories to tell you 🙂