Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Sprinkle of Lessons Followed by a Downpour of Blessings: Infertility, Loss, and Overwhelming Love

I've been through a lot. Each of us have our struggles, and not all of us talk about them openly. There are several people out there who have been through far more than I, and I struggle through each storm understanding that. It helps me march on.

For two years, the husband and I tried for a baby. It seemed that people who didn't seem to even want a child could just snap their fingers and get pregnant anytime they wanted. In silence, I was wondering what was wrong with me, or why I was being punished. I stopped serving at the church nursery because I would be so envious that everyone else could have their babies and I couldn't have one myself. I blocked people on Facebook every time they announced a pregnancy because I was sick of hearing about it. It didn't make sense why something so natural was not happening for us. I went to the doctor, and found out it was the years of undiagnosed Celiac on top of PCOS that was keeping me from ovulating. I started medication- Metformin.

Then I had my moment. I had a positive pregnancy test. It was the single most exciting event in my entire life. I was going to have a baby. Or so I thought. At nearly 2 months pregnant, we had just told my in-laws and my parents. The very next day, I woke up covered in blood and in excruciating pain. The baby was gone.

A couple of months later, I had my next positive test. The thing about having lost one baby, on top of all the other things, is that your excitement for your following pregnancies are always muted. I was happy I had a positive, but I couldn't get excited about it. I did everything I could... maintained a very low sugar diet, didn't participate in high intensity exercise, and tried to be as healthy as possible. 18 weeks along, again I started bleeding. I remember my thought not even being devastation. I remember looking at Jake and saying, "this is it." Thankfully, it stopped, and Kai was fine.

My water broke at 41 weeks along. Not informed as I thought I was, I had an "emergency c-section" 25 hours after my water broke. That experience led me to have postpartum psychosis. It doesn't look anything like postpartum depression, so no one questioned how I was. I looked fine. On the inside, I was constantly fearing for Kai's life, jumping at every cry and having nightmares about him being ripped out of me. I cried in desperation anytime I would shower. Breastfeeding was another nightmare. No one ever says anything about the role Celiac plays in breastfeeding. No one mentions how low your fat content is unless you stuff yourself with a very high fat diet. Everyone simply makes fun of you for wanting to lose weight so quickly and not worrying enough about how healthy the baby is.

I followed my low sugar, whole foods diet, and took metformin when I got pregnant with Luca. Again, I couldn't get too excited. The pregnancy seemed too easy, until I found that no care provider would attend my birth and would only give me a c-section. At 28 weeks along, I found a wonderful midwife who shouldn't have attended my birth according to laws, but did because she believed I was right. She understood that I had the right to give birth and she wanted to be there to be my support. Luca finally came at 42 weeks + 5 days. He was wonderful and we all bonded in the vicinity of our own home. No one took him from me... In fact, no one held him other than me for the first few days when I finally realized I was hogging him. But, that was my first chance at holding MY baby I ever got. I took full advantage. At 15 months old, he is still MY baby and I know it has to do with his birth. And breastfeeding... he was tongue and lip-tied. I still managed to nurse him until he was 8 months old when regardless of my diet, my milk just couldn't maintain the fat. But that was a total success for me. I was happy. I am happy.

Then I got pregnant again. All these pregnancies... you would think I'm way more fertile than I say I ever was. Well, that's partially true. I have actually become what I would call an expert when it comes to fertility in women with PCOS and/or Celiac. I was on my way to an acupuncture treatment for fertility when I got my positive pregnancy test. I had been following a totally alkaline diet, low sugar, high in healthy fats, exercising normally, and taking my metformin, vitex, and dong quai. I was doing everything right. It just took a while, but then again, not really since I had just stopped breastfeeding. Maybe I could have gotten pregnant sooner?!

I understand infertility and how it feels to be that woman. I understand loss and how it feels to be that woman. I understand the hurt when I see everyone else getting pregnant and holding their children. However, I also understand how much excitement I have been denied in the process. I experience joy daily that I could never put into words. I love my children more than I ever thought possible. My children taught me what love truly means. They made me realize how much more I love my husband. They're amazing, and I will never ever suppress that joy. I deserve this joy, and this is my time to shine. I didn't just "fall pregnant". I worked hard. I gained weight ( I found that 17% body fat would never let me get pregnant, but at 19% percent I ovulated). I ate a very low sugar, low refined-foods diet. I took metformin (low dose), and vitex. I made sure my diet was around 90% alkaline. I eat very healthy throughout my pregnancies regardless of my unhealthy cravings. Some of us do have to work... but with all that effort and prayer, things will happen. I'd love to have another baby after this, but if I can't after all of my trying, I will adopt. Things don't always happen the way we plan, but they do happen the way they should. And we deserve to persevere as well as dance in our happiness. God gives us what may seem to be too much at the time, but he knows how much we can handle.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What Kind of Accomplishment is "Being a Mom"???

There is a thought among the ignorant, that being a mother is not an accomplishment. I know I have touched on this before, but now that I am a mom of two, going on three little ones, I can’t help but to shine some light on the topic again.

A person who isn’t around a mother being a mother, seeing all she does throughout a single day, can easily think that being a mother is not an accomplishment. Simply having a mother doesn’t mean you understand what went into raising you. I think the two people who appreciate me the most are my mother and my husband. They know what I sacrifice, and they know how hard I work to do what is most important to me.

It not only takes a LOT to keep a child alive, well-fed, healthy, happy, and teach them to use the potty, sleep, meet their milestones, tame their tempers, teach them to read, and keep them active. You must also teach yourself patience, NONE of which I had before kids.

And before all of that, there is the simple act of giving birth. If you haven’t been through it, you have no idea how hard it is for a woman to give birth the way she should in this country we call free. Doctors and MEDwives all but put a gun to your head and tell you to be induced and have a c-section. Then there are the insurance companies and hospital lawyers (who are mostly men) who load those guns. So if you give birth naturally in this world without pumping yourself and your baby full of chemicals and radiation, you accomplished something HUGE.

Now after giving birth, there’s feeding the kid. Breastfeeding is incredibly hard, especially when you don’t have the best support system. My husband was great support, but he didn’t know a single thing about how nutrition plays into nursing, especially when one has Celiac Disease. Heck, not even Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants (ICBLCs) knew anything that could help me. And if you want to use formula, it’s nearly impossible to find a formula on the market that is actually good for that baby. So, you do some research and do a concoction of your own, a mixture of goat’s milk, coconut milk, oils, molasses, probiotics, and vitamins, and doctors look at you like you don’t know what you’re talking about, when they’re the ones who have had ONE basic nutrition class throughout their entire medical education.

Now, there are people who say you can’t accomplish anything else once you have kids. Your body is ruined, you are bogged down with babies, and you don’t have time unless you put them in daycare. Sure, I guess that’s true if you just give up, and use your kids as excuses. Your kids aren’t excuses, however. Your kids can be the best motivation one can possibly have. After my first, I competed in bodybuilding 8 months after birth. I was the leanest I had ever been in my life. While pregnant with my second, I started on my M.S. in Holistic Nutrition. After giving birth to my second at home because I was finally enlightened, I competed in my first Crossfit competition 3 months postpartum. I competed again at 6 months postpartum. I am now 5 months pregnant with my third, and I am 4 classes away from obtaining my Master’s Degree. With two kids and one on the way, not only have I accomplished being a decent mother raising sweet, smart kids, I am also continuing to achieve successes in my professional and personal life. I am currently training for a half ironman that will happen around two months after giving birth. My goal is to beat my time from 6 years ago. As for my marriage… I now love my husband more than the day I married him 6 years ago. I have a job that I absolutely LOVE where I help make people feel great and only during the hours I want to be available. I am a Mom. I am living the dream.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Other Way to Be LEAN + HEALTHY

There’s more than one way to do most things. There are many ways of losing weight. It’s simply a matter of doing things in the healthiest and most sustainable way possible.

Sure, you can eat 850 calories a day for a couple of months, or work out 3 hours per day for a few weeks, or count every macronutrient for several months. But, what about the sustainability of your weight loss or mass gains? What about the enjoyment factor of your new body? Getting the body you want is only one part of the equation. If you can’t enjoy your new self, then what is the point? What if you can lose weight or gain strength, have more energy, be happier, sleep better, reach your personal fitness goals you never thought possible, all without counting every last calorie, depriving yourself, or working out obsessively? It’s more than possible; it’s preferable for your health.

There’s something I have ignored for years, but have played around with every now and then just for kicks. It’s called alkaline, non-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. I’ve always noticed better health benefits from eating a plan-based diet and adding more yoga into my schedule. It’s no secret that rest is when muscles repair, which means they rebuild and you in turn burn more calories. Inflammation interferes with your body’s natural ability to do this. 

            On a pro-inflammatory diet, our physiology starts making fat cells so fast you’d think it wre some kind of nervous habit. When stressed, we head straight for the Haagen-Dazs. And in a sense, so do out physiologies, as transdifferentiation converts all kinds of cells into fat. In patients with age-related dementia, grey matter gets replaced by cells containing excessive amounts of fat. Osteoporoticbones have had bone-forming cells replaced by fat cells. And fatty liver, a common cause of chronic indigestion and GERD symptoms (like heartburn), is caused by fat cell formation at the expense of normal, functioning liver cells. To put all this in terms of the larger regulatory picture, when muscle, bone, gland, and nerve cells are denied a full complement of vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and so on, they seem to take that denial as a signal to dedifferentiate and start storing fat…. When the body gets all the real food, exercise, and rest that it needs, the default reaction is to convert unwanted fat cells into something better. Which physiological directive your body follows is ultimately up to you.  Catharine and Luke Shanahan, Deep Nutrition, 250-251.

The bottom line, is that if you eat healthy, unprocessed food, and get a healthy amount of exercise, it will work like the well-oiled machine that you have properly maintained. You don’t need to count calories. This could be more difficult for some people than counting calories. Some prefer to count macronutrients so they can eat chocolate and French fries and stay within their macronutrient budget. Others, however, may prefer the athletic performance benefits that also go along with an anti-inflammatory diet.

Now, what is diet that is chemically balanced? Check out the chart. In short, choose foods that are unprocessed, leafy green vegetables, herb teas, small amounts of lean meat, and steer clear of vegetable oils. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How to Be LEAN (Without Being Mean)

You can eat nothing but cheese and crackers or salad all day to be skinny.

You have to exercise 2+ hours a day to lose weight and maintain.

You have to eat 1200 calories or less to be thin.

You have to eat nothing but protein to lose fat.


Do you want to know the best way to lose weight? To be honest, you should count your calories. There's a little app and website called, and you should really use it. It's awesome. I actually have a subscription (that I pay for) to a professional site for nutritionists, but I continue to use myfitnesspal because it is so much better.

Go on myfitnesspal, and set your caloric goals according to how active you are and how much you think you need. For this, you'll have to play around a bit and decide after a few days of eating on a certain amount of calories how your body responds. Most people should be eating between 1500-2200 calories for weight loss.

Set your macronutrient goals according to your goals. If you have a pear-shaped body (carry your extra weight around your hips), you should eat a lower carbohydrate diet, with higher protein and fat calories. An example of this macronutrient profile would be 50% protein, 30% fat, and 20% carbohydrate. If you carry your weight around your mid-section, your profile would be 40% protein, 30% fat, and 30% carbohydrate. If you are long and lean and are more of a cardio person, your profile would be more like 30% protein, 20% fat, and 50% carbohydrate.

My days vary between 1600 calories and 2000 calories depending on how hungry I am. I almost always stick to my macronutrient profile of 40% protein, 30% fat, and 30% carbohydrate because I carry my weight in my stomach, and it's also the perfect profile for muscle-building as well. By doing this, I can eat bacon and eggs, nutella, peanut butter, fruit, burgers.... whatever I want as long as it fits into my profile. This is a method of dieting that has been around forever. However, it's not about seeing how many m&ms you can eat in a day as long as they fit your profile. You need to eat as clean as possible, but this way you can also not be restrictive if you really want something. Also, if you eat little to no sugar, you will have little to no cravings for unhealthy foods.

Now, this all sounds a little psycho-strict. It kind of is, but if you do this for however long it takes for you to meet your goal, you don't have to weigh and measure your food as often to maintain your weight/mass. Also, you don't have to do this. You can also just eat very clean and not overindulge. However, it's not common to lose weight as quickly this way because you never know if your are fitting your caloric goals, and weight loss happens when you eat less than your energy expenditure.  And speaking of energy expenditure, you MUST exercise. Optimal exercise is around 45 minutes per day, 5 days per week. I'll go more in-depth with this portion of your guide to health in the next post.

Now go forth and conquer your goals.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Feel [SO] Pretty

So here it is...

My house still looks totally lived in (aka messy), but almost everything is crossed off my checklist for the day. My super awesome friends are coming into town to see me tonight, and I just signed my family and I up for a couple of great races in the next month. We're closing on our house in a month and my head is filled with all kinds of open tabs about what I need to get done when it comes to setting up the business at our new place and scoping out activities for the kids and such.

However, I had a great workout with Kai this morning (much better than having to squeeze myself between guys who only think they're stronger than me on the lifting platform at the gym) and I actually got in a shower in the morning for once. I don't ever feel ugly, but I never feel pretty. I don't really wear makeup, but not because I love how my skin looks without it, but because I don't really have the time nor do I feel like I would benefit from wearing it. However, this awesome girl was introduced to me a couple of weeks ago, and she brought Arbonne into my life. The constant skeptic that I am was totally against it, but I tried it out just to humor her. Holy moly.. what a life changer. I feel pretty. I felt pretty after three days, to be quite honest. The skincare is BOMB. I don't have crazy wrinkles, but I DO have age spots. I was that person who never wore sunscreen, then woke up one day at 25 and realized I had age spots already. I thought I was ruined. I don't know what the heck they do to their skincare (almost totally herbal blends with no bleaching agents and all GMO free and vegan), but it's magic. I feel good in my skin. I am wearing Arbonne makeup right now (just tinted moisturizer, bronzer and blush), but only because I'm actually going out tonight and I want to look a little more done up for my girlfriends, because you know how girls like to look good for other girls! Sorry guys!

Anyhow, it wasn't even the skincare that sold me... it was the baby line. I will spend and do almost anything on my babies. Kai has had eczema for 2 years now, and it has totally been taken care of thanks to the Arbonne baby lotion. It worked after 3 days! So, I thought I'd just try it on the husband for giggles since I've tried everything on his skin since we met. It smoothed out his skin in 1 day!

So just in time for Valentine's Day, I feel pretty again. Like, not pretty because I have been made-over, but pretty because I feel like I look on the outside the way I feel on the inside. I am so proud of my family for being awesome, happy for myself because I can help others for a living through personal training and nutrition, and I'm happy I can show that on the outside.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Skinny people like you....

Skinny people like you…

I hear so many excuses from people for being the way they are.  A person who wants to lose weight after having a baby will tell me they don’t have time to exercise because they are nursing through the night. Or, they can’t change their diet because they’re nursing. Well, the truth is, that person should eat healthier, cutting down on processed foods because it is actually best for the nursing infant. As for being tired from nursing through the night, that’s just something that is hard to deal with. But, we all make choices, and for me, I prefer to exercise on little sleep because it actually makes me feel much better. A person who wants to lose weight but can’t find the time in their day always tells me their priorities will not allow them to exercise or prepare healthier meals. We all have the same 24 hours in our days, it’s just that some of us prioritize differently. I have two kids, but I still prepare our meals in advance. I do think throughout the day about what we will be eating next, but that is important to me. I plan everything we do around meals, the kids’ naps, my workouts, and the kids’ activities. If I have to workout at 4 AM because I need to get in my workout before the kids wake up, that’s what I do. If I have to make an enormous load of chicken and freeze it in single servings because I know it will be a busy month, that’s what I do.

Then there are the people who tell me I’m skinny because it’s in my genes. I cringe any time I hear this. Someone told a friend of mine the other day that she’s lucky because she’s “naturally” thin. Really? My friend is thin (and strong) because she kicks her own butt in the gym consistently, and makes healthy meal choices. I would love for anyone to spend a week in my shoes, working out with me and eating with me. You would see that I fight cravings for ice cream and nachos like any other person, but only allow myself to indulge less than once per week. At all other times, I am chasing my kids, working out at least once per day, lifting heavy weights, drinking my coffee black, eating a great deal of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds, and never EVER eat fried food. To some people, this seems like it’s just not worth it.

This brings me to another point. There are people who think that in order to be fit, you have to deprive yourself of all kinds of foods. This bothers me so much, and mostly because it’s what is advertised all over the place. Some people are thin because they eat 800 calories per day and workout like crazy in the gym. This is ridiculous and terribly unhealthy. There are people who replace two or more meals per day with protein shakes. This is also awful. Then some people take supplements everyday in order to get results, but no supplement is ever needed to lose weight or get healthy. It is incredibly important to understand that being thin should not be a person’s only goal. It is more important to be healthy, which means eating a balanced diet loaded with fruits and vegetables, paired with lean meats, and including nuts and seeds. I also believe that some unrefined whole grains as well as soaked legumes are a healthy addition to diets. Instead of depriving yourself of candy or bread, pack your day full of the healthy stuff, and leave no room for the stuff that isn’t so good for you. Nourish your body. The more you nourish your body, the less your body will crave the stuff that makes you feel less than your best.

I keep coming back to what a professor said in a lecture recently. She asked, “Are you simply surviving or are you thriving?” Feed yourself so that you are thriving, and you won’t want to eat things that only allow you to survive very often. Be your best self. Stop making excuses. Make better choices. And most importantly, nothing is going to work for you until you take responsibility and kick your own butt. A personal trainer, a meal plan, a workout video… none of those are going to help you in the long run unless you are willing to work hard. Once you establish a routine you love, you will find that after plenty of hard work, the hard work becomes less hard, and more enjoyable. Even further down the road, when you’re in maintenance mode, you will be living a much more lovable lifestyle.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

It's Kai's (and my) 2nd Birthday.

Two years ago today, I became a different person. I am worlds away from who I was before January 15, 2013. One moment, I was just another woman in my mid-twenties who was only concerned with my own well being, and my marriage. The next moment, at exactly 8:55 PM, I became a mother. I experienced a thousand different feelings all of the sudden, and I was forever changed. I became a mother, a feminist, a baby-lover, someone who sees love in every little thing, and am more joyful than I have ever been in my whole life.

Due to my unnecessary c-section, which I still struggle with, I learned things I never thought I'd need to know. But that experience made me a feminist. That experience helped put me where I am today. On Kai's 1st birthday, I cried because I couldn't help but remember that his birthday was the absolute most worst day of my entire life. My firstborn was cut out of me and I was told it was because I am not able to birth a child. But not this year. I'm only crying tears of joy this year.

I have feelings I believe you can only have as a parent (regardless of how you got there, or whether or not you are a biological or adoptive parent). Although I have always been a happy, optimistic person, I truly feel joyful every day of my life. Although I know that God is absolutely everywhere, I now see God unmistakably, everyday. Every time I look into my 2 year old's eyes, I see God. Before having children, I didn't love everyone's kid. I figured I'd be a mom who loved my kids, but other people's kids... not so much. But after having Kai, I love every single kid. I'm that creepy lady who smiles at your kid in the mall just because I think they're sweet.

On the plane the other day, I heard the man behind me say "I'm so glad I don't have kids to worry about" as he was looking at my husband with my 2 year old and me with my 6 month old. I just thought how that man will never experience the joy I feel everyday. I am tired, nervous, paranoid, and overwhelmed much of the time, sure. However, I laugh every single day. I have cried sad tears twice in the past 2 years. I cried when I was struggling with finding someone to attend Luca's birth, and I cried when my Grandfather passed away. Other than that, I have spent hours upon hours laughing until I cried.

2 years and one day ago, my water broke and I went straight to the hospital (mistake number 1). 5 months and 1 week ago, I thought my water broke and I had a fetal non-stress test since Luca was 2 weeks "late" at that point, so I stuck a pad in my underwear, went to my hospital doctor where I refused a cervical exam, then went to Panera for lunch. I think that sums up how much I've changed. 2 years ago, I did what people thought was right. 6 months ago to the day, I proved that I was a changed person when I brought Luca into the world in my own home with only people who loved me and my child, and supported what was best for us.

Kai (and Luca) has shown to me what kind of love still exists in the world. The kind of innocent love of a child who loves you just because you're his world. 2 years ago, God changed me. God made me the person my child needed me to be. God made me the wife I needed to be. My child and husband had who they needed. 6 months ago, God made me see that I was the person everyone else already knew I was.