Sunday, December 22, 2013

Korean-style cold and spicy noodles

This dish is very similar to the Korean dish called Nangmyon. However, I use different noodles. Instead of buckwheat, because they are typically not gluten free, I use sweet potato glass noodles which are normally used to make Jjapchae. I am always craving this, and whip it up at say... 9 PM when I should be thinking about sleeping but get too excited about traveling and I work up an appetite packing.

1 T vegetable bouillon (not necessary)
2 servings of sweet potato noodles, or whatever you prefer
1 heaping T Korean hot paste (sunchang is normally gluten free)
1 T soy sauce
2 tsp white distilled vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp pureed pear, or sugar
1 T sesame seeds

Boil the bouillon in several cups of water in a large pot. Boil the noodles until tender, then drain and rinse in cold water. Reserve the liquid from pot in order to modify flavor of your noodles. While the noodles are cooking, mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Once noodles are rinsed, add to the bowl with the spicy mixture, and mix well. If you need to dilute your noodles due to spice, add the bouillon water from boiling your noodles. I usually ice this water before adding to noodles.

Some add cucumbers and fried egg to this. Well, most do. However, at 9 PM, this is what I'm giving myself!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Miso like you've never had it!

I love good miso soup. This soup was fantastic! I've seriously never had miso that tasted this good, and it was my first attempt at home-made miso. There's a little twist, since my mother-in-law made it this way once and I just love it. I didn't have tofu, so I didn't add it, but it would be a great addition to make this more of a meal!

4 cups water
2 T sweet white miso paste (I find this in the refrigerated section at the local health food store)
1 T vegetable bouillon
1 jalapeƱo, sliced
handful chopped cilantro

Bring the water to a boil, add the miso paste and bouillon. Stir until dissolved, then add jalapeno and cilantro. Now go try it and love it!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chipotle Quinoa

I have honestly never liked chipotle. I love every pepper in the world it seems, with this exception. I found this recipe as well in the the Food Matters Cookbook and decided to give it a try. I was blown away, both by the great flavor of the dish and the heat of the chipotle... a great thing! If you don't like spice, don't add any of the adobo sauce and just use one pepper.


3 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 T minced garlic
2 canned chipotle chiles, minced with some sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 cup quinoa
salt and black pepper
1 cup cooked or canned black beans, drained
1/2 cup corn
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
lime wedges

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until onion is clear. Add peppers and adobo, and oregano. Turn heat up to medium-high, add quinoa, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir frequently for a few minutes. Add beans, corn, stock and boil. Stir, reduce heat to low and cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ma-Po Tofu without the fluff!

When I lived in China, I was always all over Ma-Po Tofu. It's normally stir-fried with pork, but I'm obviously cooking without pork these days. I modified this recipe from an incredible cookbook I picked up a while back, called The Food Matters Cookbook. It's got all kinds of great plant-based recipes, with meat included as well, just not the star of the dishes. This dish surprised both my husband and I in that it was so good! He's a meat-lover by all standards, and thoroughly enjoyed this. I swear, it was danged-delicious!

1 T olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 T minced ginger
1/2 tsp chile flakes, to taste
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable stock
14 oz firm tofu, cut into cubes
2 T soy sauce
black pepper
1 drizzle sesame oil

Heat oil in large skillet. Add garlic, ginger and chile flakes until they sizzle. Add scallions, tomatoes, and stock. Cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant, then add tofu. Stir occasionally until heated through. Stir in soy sauce, salt, black pepper, and sesame oil. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Roasting Seaweed

I've posted a while back about how great of a snack seaweed is. I love it with a bit of rice. In some households, kids eat chicken fingers all day. Well in mine growing up, my brother and I were all over seaweed and rice. I guess we both still are! You can buy little packets of it in the store, but it's incredibly expensive, especially when it takes all of 5 minutes to do in your own kitchen and it tastes so much more fresh.
This is all you need:
A package of seaweed... as much of it as you like.
A brush for food
sea salt
sesame oil
large pan... my mom just used her stove top

Lay out each piece of seaweed, paint on thin coat of sesame oil, then sprinkle with the amount of salt to your preference. I love salt so I throw it on very generously. You may want to hold back and just sprinkle a very light amount. With the pan heated on high, use your fingers or a tong to lay a piece of seaweed in there for about 3 seconds (until it starts to crinkle a little) then flip for a couple of seconds and continue until all seaweed is done. You can chop it into fourths, which is what I prefer since I like a mouth full of seaweed, or into sixths which is what is normal. Serve it alone or with a teaspoon of rice per piece of seaweed for a light lunch or snack.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Edamame and vegetable pasta

Has anyone read The China Study? I have had many reasons to stop eating dairy in the past, but after reading this book, I'm sold. No more dairy, very little (if any) meat, and I'm sticking with my veggies!

It's not that I'm so easily sold by reading a book by a former farmer who did a huge study to prove and directly link dairy and meat to cancer, Alzheimer's and chronic disease. It's more that I was wanting a good reason to stop eating meat. I'm not a fan of it in the first place, and I hate the way dairy makes me feel. I used to go to bed at night feeling guilty if I didn't eat a piece of animal protein at every meal. Yes, I'm free now! If you haven't read the book, go get it!

Anyway, this is my first night of yummy plant-based eating. I made a delicious pasta with my favorite vegetables, and here's the recipe.

1 package brown rice pasta
2 T sesame oil, divided
1 cup steamed and shelled edamame
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced (I love garlic, but if you don't, just put 2 cloves)
heaping handful of spinach
1/4 cup soy sauce, or liquid aminos, reduced sodium preferred
pinch black pepper
pinch of crushed Korean red pepper (or just red pepper if that's what you have)

Boil pasta according to package directions then drain. In a large pan or wok, heat 1 T sesame oil. Once hot, add the garlic and onion until onion is wilted. Toss in the spinach and edamame and stir. Turn the heat down to medium-low, then add the pasta and remaining ingredients. So easy and so yummy! You can add whatever vegetables you want. Mushrooms would be a great addition to this!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Exclusive Mom Group

I know I write a lot lately (when I do) about baby stuff, as opposed to the recipes I used to post often. Yes, I still cook everyday and eat healthy, but pictures have been more of a chore than necessary. So, here's another post about mom-hood.

Recently, there has been an uproar about Maria Kang and her losing weight after having a baby and not being a good mom because she focuses on her body. Well, that happens all the time. Women lose weight and they get bashed by fellow moms because they lost weight faster than others. Why does it matter? Why are women so hateful? Why are moms so hateful?

When I became a mom, I learned quite quickly that when you become a mom, you do not suddenly become a part of a great, supportive group of individuals who have all been through similar situations as yourself. You have to fit a group based on criteria. You have to have lost weight at a slow rate to prove you love breastfeeding more than you do your body or you love bonding with your baby more than you love being slim. You have to love only talking about your teething child, your child's poop, your kid's adorable act of peeing in the tub as soon as you put him in it.... the list goes on. 

I started working out as soon as I could move comfortably because I become depressed when I don't get out and about. I have to be myself to be happy and to be a good mother. Going to work out for an hour makes me come home to my baby with a lighter, happier attitude. Clearing my head allows me to think straight and not forget when to put him down for a nap or feed him or change his diaper. Getting away from him makes me want to spend more quality time with him when I am. And to be honest, I don't like talking all about my child. I love him, but I am with him about 23 hours per day and like to talk about other things as well. It's like with the Navy. I don't like talking about the Navy spouse stuff all the time with other navy spouses because I live that stuff with my husband. I don't enjoy talking about baby stuff with other moms because I want to get out of my head a little. I enjoy talking with my non-mom friends mostly because I can talk about books, or movies, or workouts, or the next best coffee on the market. However, it's hard talking to some of my non-mom friends because it's hard to hear someone without kids say how exhausted they are and how long their work hours are when your work hours are 24/7, literally. 

It's a tough spot, really. There are people who don't hate me for who I am (maybe because they've known me for too long or are related to me) and I'm thankful for that select group of women. I'm here to help people who want my help (losing weight, getting stronger, getting motivated, an ear to hear things out), and am certainly not here to judge. Beginning with the breastfeeding "support group" when my little guy was a newborn, I knew right away there's no such thing as a support group full of women who are constantly judging one another. Women are so mean, and women with babies aren't much nicer. I take that back, there are some really awesome ones, but mostly ones who had kids 10 years ago or so (and some with babies) who don't care how much more weight you lost or how quickly your kid is learning to walk or whatever, thank you to all of you ladies.

I know I touched on all of this with my Postpartum journey post, but it's seriously ridiculous. Can we all just be nice? Goodness, we're the strongest group of individuals in the world, who work our butts off and never get a sick day. I'm pretty sure we're all superheroes and should start being more supportive of our fellow superheroes without pre-judging one another. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My "Real" Postpartum Journey (As REAL as Yours)

I had the most perfect baby I could never have dreamed up, 8 months ago. I had him via C-section, which made me consider myself a complete failure for several months. I think I probably still do, in the back of my head. However, I know I'm a great mom who couldn't love my child more, and that makes me feel better. He's smart, strong, and just blows me away with how far he has come. We had our struggles that most moms and babies have... recovery, breastfeeding, sleepless nights.... the norm. There is one thing (other than my supportive husband) that helped me to maintain my sanity regardless of sleeping 2 hours at a time, if that. I continued my exercise regime I had before and during pregnancy.

Prior to becoming pregnant, so many parents told me I would never be able to uphold my clean eating or exercise regime after having a baby. People still tell to me wait until he's older, but they're the same people who told me having a baby will keep me from maintaining my healthy lifestyle. I work out 1-2 hours per day using heavy weights and doing cardio, which consists of running or using the stepper or stairmill. That's the one hour my son gets to play with other little kids in the nursery at the gym, or have daddy time. Yes, I work, but I always make sure to get in my time at the gym or on the stepper at home. For the other hour, I take my son with me on a run or again have him with his daddy. I wake up early, even if that means 4 AM or earlier or get it in after my husband gets off work. You make time for what is important, and keeping myself healthy and reaching my goals is important to me.

I have a bucket list. It's not the normal bucket list that most people have. Mine is completely dependent upon and based around pregnancies. After meeting my husband, I went from wanting to be a CI and not wanting any children to being excited to work everyday as a personal trainer and wanting lots of babies. So, I built my list around babies. After my first, I wanted to do a fitness competition. I followed through, with the help of a well-known trainer, Nick Navas at Rockstar Gym. I know a lot about losing weight and being fit. However, I didn't know the first thing about the competition level. I looked the best I've ever looked, was the leanest and most toned I have ever been, and it was all 8 months after having my baby boy. That took some hard work. I dieted more strictly than I ever have for 8 weeks. I'm not saying everyone should strive to look that lean, because I know I don't like the the way that that level of lean feels. However, one should strive to be healthy and eat clean. I want my children to know that their parents believe health is important and that health can be fun. My husband and I enjoy taking our son on bike rides and runs. We cook clean, healthy foods that taste great and make you feel good. We enjoy eating out or even enjoy our nachos and fries every now and then. The point is, 90% of the time, we eat healthy so that 10% of the time what we eat doesn't really matter. What I did learn from the competition is: A. health doesn't come in any particular size or shape and B. if you stop making excuses and complaining for long enough, you can do anything. You can be a size 8 and be perfectly healthy so long as you eat healthy, lift weights, do some form of cardio and enjoy life. You can be a size 0 and look good but not be healthy if you're fatigued all of the time and feel like you're wading through life because you're so tired from over-exertion. When it comes to making excuses, I did a 5K the day after my competition. I heard a guy in line talking about how he doesn't run well in the afternoon and he ate something heavy earlier so he doesn't know if he'll run well. I realized after all of my workouts how funny and ridiculous that sounded. I used to do the same exact thing. Now, however, I just do it. If I can exercise 2-3 hours per day and chase around a baby after it all and work, all on 1000-1400 calories, I can do anything. I will never again make excuses about why I can't do a cardio workout that day or how I don't have time to get my lifting in or not do something because I'm too tired.

What do people like me eat? Well, when not dieting for the competition, I eat lots of lean protein such as broiled fish, grilled chicken, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains such as quinoa and amaranth. When I eat pasta, it's quinoa pasta. When I eat breaded chicken, it's breaded with oats and baked in the oven. When I eat oatmeal, it's not full of sugar but made with cinnamon and stevia as well as fruit. When I eat fries, they're oven baked. There are lots of ways to make a comfort food healthy. My biggest pet peeve is when people who are thin or fit lie about what they eat or say they eat ridiculous foods like turkey all the time or nothing but egg whites and chicken. That's not sustainable, and if you are on a journey to be healthy, don't believe these people. You do not have to eat like a bird to look good. As long as you eat clean and exercise daily, you will be a healthy individual.

I lied, I have a bigger pet peeve. I can not stand when people talk about "real women" having curves or being a size 12 or whatever. What's worse, is when people say what a "real mom" looks like. A "real mom" apparently has to have stretch marks and flab on her belly or be overweight because "real moms" don't have time to eat healthy, exercise, AND love their baby. According to the ridiculous people who think this, I don't love my baby. Well, I'm a size 0/2, have a tight stomach, don't have boobs worth mentioning, and I love my baby more than anything or anyone, and he is second only to God. I will do anything for him and have a love so fierce for him that I become a different person when anyone even mentions his name.

I'm a real mom. I love my baby. All moms are real, regardless of what they look like, how they birthed their child, or (and especially if) they didn't birth their child at all, but in an incredible act of love and selflessness, adopted their child. A mom is real if she loves her child. A mom is healthy if she is happy and takes care of herself. If you're a mom, take care of yourself and make yourself a priority. Keep reaching for your goals, because they are still important. It's important for your child or children to see that you are still important to you. And please, for the love of humanity, stop calling out what is real and what isn't when it comes to people. We are all real.

And if you want to know what else is on my bucket list, here it is....
1. fitness competition- check!
2. full ironman
3. crossfit games

And by the way, I was big.

Me at 40 weeks.

Me 1 week postpartum.

Me 8 months postpartum.

I want to thank some awesome moms who have inspired and continue to inspire me with their healthy lifestyle, strength and endurance, their ability to work 40+ hours a week, running around with their busy children, and who just kick butt at life. You guys do it all and prove it's all possible. You know who you are.... Missy H, Kim S, Kim P, Caroline E, Tiffany W, Jean P, Marti C, Amy M, Jennifer P, Holly S, Joanne H, Chi Chi M, Leticia, Christy R... There are so many of you and I'm sorry if I left you out but you women are awesome. I'm so thankful I have people like you to look up to!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Breast-feeding: For my Fitness Fanatic and Clean Eating Friends

I would like to start off by saying that I do not mean to be offensive in any way. One thing I don’t do, since having a baby, is judge a woman, especially based on her parenting. Whether you nurse or bottle-feed, or had a natural birth or C-section… that is all you and you probably have great reasons to have done so. I know mom-guilt and I don’t plan on laying any more of that on anyone.

I was prepared for the initial pain of breastfeeding. I was ready to grin and bare it for as long as it took. I read all of the books so I could take charge of any issues. I learned about thrush, heavy letdown, and how to increase milk supply. I knew that I could breastfeed because I am not one of the 5% of women with banana boobs who can’t do so (that is supposedly the only reason a woman can’t breastfeed). That’s what “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by the La Leche League says anyway. But then again, that ignoramus also covered a whole couple of chapters on how a woman who gave birth via c-section can’t love her baby as much as a woman who had a natural birth. Really? I’m pretty sure I love my baby as much as the next person because I chose to give birth to my baby alive the only way I could do so, and I don’t think I could love anything or anyone as much as I love my little guy.

Anyhow, I want to share with my fitness fanatic and clean eating friends something no one warned me about. I didn’t find it in any book, nor did any doctor or nurse or lactation consultant tell me about it until after it happened.  First off exercise, nor restricting calories, nor losing weight quickly, affects milk supply. In fact, nothing at all affects milk supply except for your baby’s demand, as long as you eat plenty of protein, Vitamin B and stay well hydrated. Unless you have rare issues, you will produce the AMOUNT of milk your baby needs. That’s a fact. Another fact: The amount you pump is not the amount your baby eats. Check out… the average amount a woman can pump is somewhere between 2-3 ounces per feeding. In the beginning I could only pump .5 oz but could pump an easy 3 weeks later. Your baby is most likely eating much more than that.

Now comes what happens that we aren’t told. My baby wasn’t gaining weight as quickly as the doctor wanted, which I was fine with. He was in about the 1st-3rd percentile for his first 3 months. That was okay since my husband and I are both small people. I was holding off on supplementing because I thought I had all the issues covered. Then he went a couple weeks without gaining any weight, at just shy of 3 months. The day I decided to switch to formula, I pumped and studied my milk. It never occurred to me before that my milk should probably not be clear with just a faint tinge of white. Maybe it should look like…. Milk? That day I went to the lactation consultant and she said I would have to up the fat in my diet, by maybe the equivalence of half a jar of peanut butter at this point to up the fat in my milk. I was giving my poor baby SKIM MILK! His pediatrician confirmed this, and I switched him over immediately. I couldn’t understand before why he was eating around the clock, literally. I had milk out the wazoo, baby had ridiculously saturated diapers, and I could pump what he needed and he would have milk running all over his face when he ate. My milk just didn’t have the calories necessary.  I would have been happy to up the fat in my diet if it were his first week of life, but he had already gone 3 months without fat, so I wasn’t going to experiment with his diet at this point. I was going to mom up and do what I knew would be best for him.

I’m not an expert on any of this. I’m just sharing my experience. After I went through this, I looked up a few cases where babies of vegans were dying from “SIDS”. They later discovered the vegan diets the mothers were on didn’t contain fat, and the mothers themselves had a low level of body fat so the babies couldn’t get fat from the milk. My little guy gained a pound a week ever since we switched… I’m sure it will level out in the next couple of weeks once he catches up to where he should be weight-wise. He’s still in the 9th percentile after 1 month on formula, but he is gaining (obviously) very steadily. He is a completely different baby now and sleeps through the night, is happy all the time, and only starts to cry if he’s hungry, which we catch before that happens. I always thought I had the world’s most perfect baby, but he is so incredibly perfect now that he’s so happy. Poor thing was happy even when he was hungry… he’s a champ.

As soon as I find out I’m pregnant again, I am going to go crazy on fats. Avocados, nut butters, butter, cheese, full fat yogurt, meats, nuts and seeds… I’m getting it all in. Even if I am like the last pregnancy where the thought of food with fats (meat) made me nauseous. I’m sucking it up because I loved nursing like I’ve never loved doing anything else. We now have an infant scale as well, so I can make sure the next one gains like he should be on a calorie-dense milk supply. I’m also saving a tube of pumped milk to test and compare to my next supply so that I can be confident that I’m giving my baby what he needs to thrive.

By the way, I have done everything possible to breastfeed. Everything. I don’t need any more questions like “Are you sure it wasn’t your supply?” or “Maybe your baby is just small?” because I’ve got it all covered now. Don’t you hate when someone tries to give you advice you never asked for? This post certainly isn’t meant to be such, I just know that I wish I knew something like this in the beginning so that I could possibly still be nursing right now, because it really is the best bonding experience in the world.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Paleo (or not) BISCUITS!

Biscuits make my heart sing :) Biscuits and gravy, even more so. I have been trying out hundreds of biscuit recipes ever since I started eating gluten free, and have never succeeded until now. Sure I got fluffy biscuits every now and then, but they were never tasty like they should be.

Tonight, there will be a full moon, and seeing as this baby only has one more week to stay in my belly, I am thinking maybe he might make his debut tonight. As soon as he makes his entrance, I have to clean up my diet completely, not that I eat very unhealthfully as it is. However, all the extra dairy and sugars have to go. Just to be prepared, I wanted to make biscuits and gravy one last time and share the lovely recipe with you. Side note: no worries, I'll be eating 500 extra calories when the baby gets here for nursing, so no lecture necessary, the calories will simply be pulled from more greens and lean protein :).

I have tried both versions of the recipe for biscuits, and I honestly loved making them less paleo with the rice flour, milk, and butter, but you can honestly barely taste a difference unless you really are a biscuit connoisseur!


2 1/2 cups almond flour
2 T coconut flour (or white rice flour)
3 eggs (or 2 eggs and 2 T milk)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp iodized sea salt
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or melted butter)
2 T honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together well. Add in the wet ingredients. Line a pan with parchment paper and spoon balls of dough onto the sheet, then press down to make slightly flatter like the shape of a biscuit. Bake for 12 minutes, but check them at 10 minutes. They should be slightly browned as shown in the picture above.

You can make these into little delightful breakfast sandwiches, or use them to make delicious biscuits and gravy. My (or my Dad's) all time amazing gravy recipe that is sure to be a hit with ever carnivore? See below!


1 lb hot breakfast sausage (such as Jimmy Dean)
3 T GF flour
Milk to desired thickness
black pepper
crushed red pepper

Brown and saute the breakfast sausage, then drain the grease. Sprinkle the flour over the sausage and saute for about 1 minute. Stir in about 1 cup of milk, then add more until it covers the sausage. The gravy will thicken, and you might want to add more milk. Stir in the seasoning and simmer for a few minutes before adding to your biscuits.

Enjoy the breakfast of champions!!

TTC, Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Happily Ever After

TTC, Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Happily Ever After

Everyone has an opinion and advice when it comes to children, before, during, and forever after pregnancy. It's hard to find the advice you want, whereas the advice you don't want is abundant. Each and every experience is completely different from woman to woman, as well as from pregnancy to pregnancy. I was always interested in experiences from the perspectives of women like myself who are health and fitness buffs as well as spiritually minded. Take it or leave it, this is the story surrounding my pregnancy from my perspective. 

I'm the type of person who always blames myself for anything that goes the least bit wrong. We began praying for a child in January of 2011. Almost exactly 2 years later, and almost exactly 5 years after we met, we were blessed with an incredibly beautiful, strong and healthy baby boy. My husband and I had some difficulty conceiving, lost our first pregnancy, then had an incredibly traumatizing childbirth experience. I have learned from all of it and am in no way angry or resentful about any of it. I have learned so much from my journey spiritually, about my relationship with God, my husband, and with the world around me. Had I been more open to all of the advice thrown at me rather than knocking them down as less than essential, I would have had at least a better childbirth experience. 

Every New Year's Day, people make resolutions. Most desire to get fit, eat healthier, lose weight, travel more, go on more vacations, and so on. My husband and I looked at one another as the ball dropped on New Year's Day of 2011 and resolved the same unspoken thing. As I looked at him, he smiled and said, "This will be the year that will change our lives." Well, it certainly did change our lives, just not the way we thought. That month I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease after experiencing several months of stomach pains, nausea and vomiting, chronic fatigue and mood swings. That same month, my husband began his constant underways on his boat that lasted several weeks to months at a time, working up to his second deployment. Between being ill and not having my husband home, it was nearly impossible to conceive. After changing my diet and feeling better, my doctor advised me to be incredibly strict with food and drink including any alcohol distilled from grain even if it doesn't mess with my GI issues and wait another several months before worrying about fertility issues. In June of 2011 I decided to take the doctor's advice and cut down my workouts. I normally exercised vigorously for around 4 hours per day. Don't get me wrong, I'm a personal trainer, not one with exercise addictions. Crossfit, weightlifting, hot yoga, running and cycling are what I love to do, my hobbies, how I hang out with my friends, and by the grace of God, my "job". I wanted a baby more than anything else, however, so I cut down my exercise to 1.5 to 2 hours per day, and gained 10 lbs. My body likes to hang around 14% bodyfat so by increasing my carbs and lowering my aerobic and anaerobic output, I put on a little weight to help out with a favorable pregnancy. In January of 2012, I knew my husband was coming home for a long time and I only had one more option before serious fertility treatments. I visited the doctor and we decided to start a Diabetic drug called Metformin. It appeared after several ovulation tests that I hadn't been ovulating, and this was most likely due to Celiac having shut down my reproductive system after suffering for several years. I tried the Metformin in order to stimulate my ovaries, since the drug is known to make your ovaries sensitive to insulin and therefore resulting in pregnancy. 

When my husband returned home at the end of that month, the end of my first cycle of Metformin, we conceived immediately. We were more ecstatic about that pregnancy than anything before in our lives. From the moment I took that first positive pregnancy test, we began tracking what was going on with that little one inside my womb. I made sure with my doctor and with intense research that my level of exercise would not harm our little one to be. I continued spinning, running and lifting, just not to the extent as before. I only exercised for one hour per day just to be safe. I never let myself become winded or overheated, just as I was told. In March we had a trip scheduled to see my nephew for his first birthday. It also happened to be my Dad's 50th. We announced to my parents the pregnancy for my Dad's present and planned to announce it to my brother's family the day after my nephew's party. The morning after telling my excited parents about our pregnancy, which was the morning of my nephew's party, I began to bleed. It was only light at first so I tried to stay calm. That afternoon we all went over to my brother's house for the party, and my bleeding intensified until I was in so much pain I couldn't move. My husband and I went to the hospital where our biggest fear was confirmed. The emotionless doctor told us we did in fact miscarry at 7 weeks along. Enter the first huge crying session of my life. Not that I never cried before, I have always cried a decent amount, but nothing like I've cried on my journey to motherhood. I went back to my doctor and he assured me that more than 1 in 4 women miscarry, and it had nothing to do with anything on my part. He told me I can conceive as soon as I like, and that it would most likely come very easily as one is more fertile directly after a pregnancy. You better believe I got serious about those ovulation tests and tried like heck to get pregnant as soon as possible. It did take me a week or so to find myself and my foundation and remember my faith in God and how important that is. The moment I was told I miscarried, I told my husband I didn't know if I could put myself through that again. After my week with God and some intense prayer, we got back to what we wanted most. Let me just say, I only shared with a few close people this experience, and almost always got awful comments that were only meant to be assuring. When it comes to pregnancy, almost everything is offensive, it seems. The worst comments were, "At least you weren't very far along," or "My cousin's cousin's sister-in-law had 6 miscarriages and now has 5 kids." No one who lost their child wants to know they can possibly have another several miscarriages, and it doesn't matter how far along the pregnancy was, you bond with that baby the moment you see that positive pregnancy test. You just have to nod your head, turn away, and hope the person talking just gets the idea and stops. 

I had one menstural cycle, then conceived again the next. I knew I was pregnant before I took the test, just instinct. My excited husband told me to hurry up and take the test a couple of days before my missed period but I just did not want to do it. I didn't want to put myself through another positive pregnancy test only to find out the worst a few weeks later. My husband is incredibly supportive and reminded me that there is nothing to fear. I took the test, and a few seconds later we saw the positive lines. We knew that with this pregnancy we didn't want to tell anyone outside of our parents until after the first trimester. We moved up North at 6 weeks along, took a trip to Annapolis for a wedding that week, flew to California for another wedding the next week and settled back home shortly after the morning sickness began to kick in. I exercised very lightly for that first trimester, mostly due to guilt from the first pregnancy and terrible morning sickness that lasted until around 18 weeks. 

I picked up prenatal yoga at 15 weeks and continued running until around 20 weeks. I started teaching several classes per week of crossfit-type weightlifting and spinning at 15 weeks. I would work out about 2 hours per day total, and I actually felt better and better due to the exercise. By my last trimester, I felt great with my workouts. I didn't look pregnant until I was 33 weeks along, and even then the only people who knew had known I was thin prior to pregnancy could see that I was pregnant. My doctor continued to assure me I was just fine even though random people continued to tell me I was being vain and not thinking about the health of my child. He assured me that I looked just the way I should at my point in pregnancy and weighed just the way I should. Any time I felt exhausted or had some joint pain, I went to the gym and felt much better. I believe that due to the exercising, I didn't feel much of the aches and pains as well as exhaustion many pregnant women feel. I gained a total of 38 lbs during my pregnancy by the time I stepped on the scale after my water broke. That is on top of the 10 lbs I gained in order to become pregnant. 

Now, for the intense part, childbirth. Everyone loves to tell their terrible labor stories. For some reason, many women love to share their horrible perspectives of what they tolerated and their ideas of what you are going to have to deal with. Total strangers will tell you how you will be pregnant for 42 weeks just because this is your first. They will tell you to get the epidural and not to be stupid. They will tell you as if they are medical experts just how pain medication does not cross the placenta (it does). Just take everything anyone says with a grain of salt. I actually wish I didn't turn my nose up at everything anyone said. I thought I was above them because I worked out throughout my entire pregnancy, ate healthfully (I never craved anything but fruit), and never took any kind of medication (I don't even medicate when not pregnant, so why now?). 

Childbirth was the most humbling experience of my entire life. I learned more from that 26 hours than I have ever learned. I had my birth plan written out in extreme specifics. I would show up to the birthing center, be IV free, labor in the tub until the baby basically begins to crown, and would get into the bed, bear down and push. I also thought I would give birth a week or so early because everything I read said that women who work out vigorously for 4-6 days per week until labor normally deliver 5-7 days before their due date. At 41 weeks, I gave up on that idea. I had a biophysical profile done at 41 weeks (Monday, January 14) to make sure everything was working right in the womb because I wanted to avoid inducing labor, and my doctor was fully supportive of that until 42 weeks. We found at the ultrasound my baby was at 9.6 lbs according to measurements, and healthy. We set up appointments for fetal monitoring on Wednesday afternoon and Friday afternoon and an induction on the following Monday morning, if need be. Believe me, I tried walking and everything to naturally bring that baby down. Then the first day I didn't exercise at all or walk, just lied down on the couch after my doctor appointment, things happened.

That Monday night at 7:55 PM, my water broke while watching TV. We gathered our things and drove to the birthing center. They confirmed the water break, and told me to get some rest until my strong contractions kicked in. I woke up around 3 AM with stronger contractions, but nothing crazy. According to the monitor, I was contracting alright, but my doctor told me in the morning at 8 AM they weren't making me dilate and the baby had not even dropped. He wanted to increase my contractions by using Pitocin. There goes the idea of a natural, drug free birth, and the first act of crazy weeping began. My husband and I decided it would be best to use the Pitocin and dilate than get a C-section after 24 hours because I was stubborn. They started the Pitocin at 9:30 AM and by 5 PM I was at the highest level of PItocin and the strongest contractions they could produce. The on-call doctor came in to confirm I still hadn't dilated and they couldn't make my contractions any more intense. She told me that chances are, a C-section will happen. I started to cry uncontrollably again, but still had hope that I would dilate by 8 PM. At 8, she came back in to confirm I hadn't dilated still, and asked me if I would agree to the Cesarean. They couldn't figure out why my water even broke, and couldn't understand why the baby hadn't even dropped. My doctor told me either the baby was just too big for me or I was too small for him. Either way, he couldn't physically drop down. Crying harder than I've ever cried in my life because I was so devastated that things couldn't seem to go any more wrong, I agreed. What I didn't know while they were inserting the catheter and getting me ready, was that the baby's heartbeat was dropping between contractions at that point and I had a team of doctors in the operating room waiting for my go ahead. No one wanted to freak me out, and I'm glad because I don't think I could have handled any more bad news. At around 8:35 PM my epidural was inserted and at 8:46 PM I was told I was having my baby and my screaming little boy emerged from behind the sheet. That caused another intense cry. 

After being wheeled back into my room, all I can remember was having my little boy placed on top of me to nurse. I remember constantly telling the nurses not to let go of him because I was afraid of dropping him since I didn't have much sensation in my arms. That's apparently not normal, and I may have gotten too much of the epidural, so don't let that scare you. My family then came in the room all the while I was sweating as if buckets of water were being poured onto me, my face was white as a ghost, and I was vomiting like I've never done so before. Once everyone left by midnight, our baby was lying asleep in the bassinet while my husband was asleep in the chair. My paranoia was out of control. I kept waking my husband, asking him to check if baby Kai was breathing. I'm pretty sure I did this every 10 minutes. The nurses then came in to take him out for a bath and I dozed off for a few minutes. I awoke twice frantically asking my husband where Kai was and why they hadn't brought him back from his bath yet. I rang the nurses after a little time (which felt like hours) had passed and asked them why the baby wasn't back yet. They said he passed out under the warmer and didn't want to wake him. An hour later I asked again so they brought him back so I could nurse him and be with him because I was so scared. I'm not sure if it was the epidural, painkillers, or just being a mom suddenly that made me so paranoid, but the experience was unbelievable. 

Being in great shape helped with all the labor up until the c-section, I'm sure. My doctor and nurses kept assuring me that my scar couldn't be seen even in the smallest of bikinis and that my stomach was firm and would go back to normal without dieting very quickly. They kept commenting on my fitness and figure as if that was the sole reason I was upset about my c-section. I'm not sure how they thought I was in shape from looking at my pregnant figure then my goopy post pregnancy figure, maybe just from checking my vitals constantly and my pain tolerance. But really though, I was more worried about the c-section because you have a higher risk of placenta previa or uterine rupture in following pregnancies. I remember the nurses saying "Poor thing is contracting like a train but it just isn't getting her anywhere" while they were inserting the catheter. And yes, having a catheter inserted before the epidural while contracting intensely is painful. I could have tolerated another 12 hours of contractions alone without medication before that and the epidural insertion. Fitness however, did not help with having a c-section. My lifestyle had nothing to do with the way things turned out. I was angry with myself for the way things happened and was angry about how unfair it was that I had to go through with that. However, had my water not broken on Monday night, I would not have gone to the hospital until Wednesday after my baby's heartbeat dropped on Tuesday night and the most terrible of all things could have happened. That c-section was a good thing and I am blessed that I had such a great team of doctors and nurses and my husband by my side. My nurses were the most incredible I could have asked for. I remember three of them the most, since I had them the most while I was there. Joanne, Mary, and Leslie (the English lady). Mary gave me a sponge bath the day after surgery and I felt better than I every thought I could the day after that kind of event. The three of them made sure my nursing was going well and were more encouraging than anything. They let me take medicine when I wanted it at the smaller dose that I wanted, and move about as I wanted. They took Kai as little as I wanted them to and brought him back as I pleased. The anesthesiologist informed me of everything that was happening from the moment he told me about what was going to happen to everything as it was happening in the operating room and even checked up on me the following days to make sure I was doing well. My doctor who I loved from the moment I moved here was reassuring through everything and always made me feel like I had options. I wasn't forced into that c-section, or at least didn't feel like it. 

Everything in my life has been planned for the most part. I went to school where I wanted, got the interviews I wanted, traveled everywhere I wanted, and did as I pleased, when I pleased. Meeting the love of my life was not planned, but he saved me from myself. I met him in February of 2008, and knew I met someone who would help keep me straight and was the greatest influence on me. He is the sweetest, most supportive person I've ever known. I always joke that he's the greatest man to ever have lived since Jesus Christ.... but I'm not really joking, I totally believe it's true. Then I had this child. It's said that you should marry a man you would like to have a son just like. Throughout my pregnancy, I was so overly offended by everything anyone said. I thought nasty things about people and judged people and was ultimately very prideful. Now that I look at my child, every time I nurse him and watch him as he stares back at me with his big innocent eyes, all of my sourness has melted. In fact, ever since the birth I haven't thought one negative thing. I may not have had a natural birth, and can not even remember much of the details of birthing him, but that baby is my son no matter how he happened. Nothing about children can be planned exactly. However things happen for whatever reason and from woman to woman, having a child is experiencing a miracle.... the greatest blessing of one's life. I'm so grateful for my supportive friends and family who coached and encouraged me throughout my journey from beginning to present. Even during labor I received the most helpful texts. Each one made me cry out of sheer appreciation for all the love I have in my life. 

During pregnancy, I didn't restrict calories at all. Given, I actually had an aversion to ice cream and meat as well as sugar. I only craved fruits and ate lots of Raw vegan protein shakes in order to get my daily intake of protein. In the coming months, I plan on competing in fitness competitions. I won't be training intensely for another 5 weeks, but until then I will be maintaining a healthy diet. I won't be restricting calories until I need to, and will continue to eat an extra 500 or so calories in order to breastfeed. Contrary to popular belief, exercise does not affect milk supply. It will be tough training and working with a new baby, but it will happen. As for now, I have not even weighed myself at 5 days post pregnancy. I don't want to get myself down for no reason, as I've just begun to lose all of my water weight. The amount of water I was holding in my legs after surgery was unbelievable. I'm going to keep a level head and know that it's okay that all I'm doing for now is feeding the baby all day long. I'm his lifeline and that's okay, because I made that decision way back when I decided to have him. As for baby blues, I'm thankfully safe. I actually have the opposite, baby highs. Every time I look at him my eyes well up with the happiest tears I've ever had. I wasn't even this happy on my wedding day, graduation, the times my husband came home from deployments... never. Baby Kai is the greatest thing and most amazing miracle. I always say God gives the strong some mighty challenges, and those challenges made me even more grateful of what came of them in the end.  I came to a realization the other day, while looking down at my perfectly made son. Childbirth may be God's punishment to women, but being the sole provider for that little baby is God's forgiveness. There is no greater gift than being the only one who can give that baby the perfect nutrition he needs to thrive. In other words, there is no greater gift than to be a mother.