Saturday, April 29, 2017

Turning a VERY Heavy Page

Hey friends!

This week was a major turning point for me and I feel like getting my headspace back where it needed to be has been a major undertaking in and of itself.  Forget actually making change, I've come to realize I need to be focused enough, AND ready enough for the "want to" to turn into "doing."  Let me bring you up to speed.

When I posted last October I was getting ready to open my LuLaRoe business and begin that journey. Wyatt was 6 months old, still nursing exclusively and life was generally going ok!

My female cycles came back at 8 months post unfair.  Can I get an amen?  A great number of women experience two things during exclusively nursing their babies.  They have no period until they stop nursing, and they lose weight while breastfeeding.  Guess what? NEITHER of those things applied to me.

So, what?

Well, I have battled this issue called Postpartum Depression and anxiety pretty badly since Wyatt arrived with us.  I struggled a great deal but had found a decent place around the last time I wrote here.  Then, Aunt Flo came back for an uninvited visit, and the hormone shift threw me backwards in my forward progress in many ways.  Queue terrible mood swings, awful food cravings, and feeling just horrible about how I looked.  Even with my gorgeous clothes, I was struggling.

I was crazy busy getting my business off the ground and just buried myself in it.  This was healthy in some ways, and unhealthy in others.  It has made me very successful in a short amount of time, and the distraction has been good.  On the flip side, it has definitely made me busier, and having time to food prep and exercise has been laughable.

The holidays were TOUGH on me.  I was down, depressed, feeling fat and gross, and exhausted.  Felt like I wasn't going to find my way out of the funk.  We rounded the first of the year and while it hasn't been perfect, I've been trying my hardest to find my way out of the pit I seemed to have climbed into. I can't even say fallen, because I made SO many poor conscious choices that it only seems fair to truly admit that I put myself there.  Even in a low headspace, I know better.  And still.  I did not do better.

Now we are about to begin May.  I've missed all the gorgeous outside weather and it's beginning to get muggy and hot.  I finally saw my doctor last month and we talked through the issues and I'm working on rebalancing my hormones some.  We will see if that helps.

In the meantime, last week I finally decided enough was enough.  On the tail end of being sick AGAIN (the second time this year) I got a massive migraine.  That's it, I told myself. IT.  Wyatt is weaned for the most part.  He's doing fantastically, growing, developing, and eating well.  He's paleo, by the way, with the exception of his birthday cake which he hated.

So Monday I began a Whole 30.  Because Monday is when everything starts over.  And Mondays are already generally pretty terrible, so why not begin a challenging eating plan then?

I took my "before" pictures on Tuesday.  I weighed in.  I still need to do measurements and will try to get those done tomorrow.

I laid awake most nights this week in bed pondering my before pictures.  It's not like I hadn't realized that I had gained the weight back, ALL of it.  It's not like I had pictured myself skinny and so it was shocking.  It's not like I didn't realize when I tried to sit in chairs at restaurants or walk through smaller spaces that it felt different.

But snapping those pictures.  Then looking at them.  And really FACING myself.  That was tough.  The internal struggle of wanting to give up before I even began again started plaguing my late night thoughts.  How did I let this happen?  Why haven't I gotten ahold of it yet? How am I going to fit cooking and eating whole foods back into my non negotiables of my schedule?  How how HOW?

That's when I realized I was spending WAY too much time looking backwards.  While it's great to re-read my blogs from the past, see how I did things before, what made me successful, and basking in the glory days, I have to look AHEAD.

This time I am older, my life is busier, I have two children instead of one, two jobs instead of one, and what feels like a massive pile of weight to lose.  What I do have going for me deep down in the folds of my memory is tons of recipes, shortcuts to eating well especially while traveling, and the DESIRE to find my way forward.

Notice I didn't say find my way "back."

Because I don't want to be who I was before I had my sweet rainbow baby and my super fun, successful side business.

I want to be healthy with my life now.  And that might take longer, be tougher, and look different.

So, much like when I began this blog in 2010, I'm here, just a girl sitting in her plus size shift dress, 6 days into her 10th Whole 30, setting myself goals for May 2017.

Here's what they look like:

- Complete the Whole 30 successfully, and extend if feeling like I need more time
- Begin walking at least 4 days/week
- Take some "me" time, be it a massage, pedicure or girls day out.  Something small each week.
- Don't overschedule myself.  Have at least ONE day a week I nap or sleep in (or both).
- Plan my food weekly and stick to the plan.  Meal prep before traveling.
- Write in my blog at least 2 times in May.
- ENJOY my life and live it, not let it pass me by.

Of course my business goals are a little more specific but wanted to keep my personal goals more high level and attainable.  Once I crush those they will get a little more intense the more I see success.  Baby steps.

Over the last year I have tried reading the end of the book a few times, looking for it all to just fall back into place for me, and really only accomplished my goal of nursing my son for a year.  It's not been a bust, my friends.  THAT goal was super important to me and I'm really proud of how hard it was to make that happen with how much I had going on.

But the page, my friends, has officially been turned.

Game on.

Hugs & Love,

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Finding My Way

Hey world! Checking in after coming out of my "gained all the weight back" closet a few weeks ago. I have been overwhelmed by your kind comments here, on my Facebook page, private messages and texts.  While I found it very tough to admit my defeat, and publicly call myself out like I did in my last post (here if you missed it) I have also felt a great deal of relief.

I ended up getting sick the tune of bronchitis! And since I'm limited in what drugs I can take since I'm nursing Wyatt, needless to say, it has been a miserable few weeks. But, alas, I'm coming out on the other side of the illness and longing to get a routine going again.  The gorgeous, clear, crisp (yet still warm) fall days are beckoning me to meet once again outside of this house.  We live in a really pretty neighborhood.  When I say pretty, I don't mean huge, cookie cutter homes. Instead, it's a combination of beautiful, some older, some newer houses with large tree lined lots, birds singing and wildlife. I love it here.  As soon as this nagging cough subsides I plan to be outside a great deal this fall.  Walking to start with dreams of jogging these beautiful streets again.

In the meantime, I have some other exciting news to share with you all.  I've been working on opening a LulaRoe clothing boutique of my own! LulaRoe is a clothing company and I signed up to be a consultant.  I will be able to sell clothes out of my home, at in home pop up boutique parties and online.  The reason I decided to do this (in addition to my full time job, not in place of!) is these clothes have helped me SO MUCH to restore my confidence in myself, even at this uncomfortable weight of mine. They make clothes for XXS - 3XL and literally anyone can find something they love. I'm really looking forward to helping other women be comfortable in their own skin! If you'd like to follow my LLR journey, join my Facebook group here.  I've been doing all kind of fun drawings and giveaways as I await my official "call" to onboard.

I never imagined myself as someone who would sell clothes.  In fact, people selling, especially on Facebook, gets old to me.  In my excitement about beautiful, comfortable clothes, I've rekindled a passion from years ago, of putting together outfits, accessorizing, and enjoying fashion overall.  I have lost count of how many friends I have helped shop over the years.  Shopping and time with my friends?  Yes, please.

Of course I'm keeping my day job in corporate merica and have no plans to change that anytime soon. This will just be a fun, extra thing for myself and Lizzie to focus our time on (she's crazy about the clothes herself!).

I do much better in life overall if I am super busy.  So, here we go again folks.  Maybe I'm crazy to have a busy corporate job, a 6 month old baby (and almost 13 year old!) and now an extra business. And then I'll be somehow fitting my fitness routine back in as well...

While mildly overwhelming, I'm also really, truly excited and looking forward to the journey.

In fitness news, this weekend I'm taking my new "before" pictures.  Which is terrifying and exciting all at once.  Taking new pictures has always been like drawing a line in the sand. I have no idea what's on the other side of that line, just yet.  But I am certain it will be all good things. My nutrition has been decent lately.  I'm working on not going too far off the rails this weekend, and meal planning for the next week. I have been cooking more lately, and enjoying my time back in the kitchen.  I don't see a Whole 30 on the horizon just yet, but I'm moving in that general direction.

My focus is positive, and my focus will determine my outlook.  So I'm looking now at my very full next few months and I am grateful for my life.  Every high, low, and bump in between.

More to come soon!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Starting Over

Despite my good intentions, I have not spent the time I should have sharing about where I am in my journey right now.  To be completely honest, there is a part of me that was waiting until I got to a better place with my postpartum weight before going public with the world, aka my little group of blog followers. I have written and erased this blog post in my mind hundreds of times over in the last 6 months. I wasn't ready to "come out" with where I am right now.  It was too painful.  Too hard.

Instead I have contemplated giving up this Fitness and Encouragement blog, my finger hovering over the "delete page" button on Facebook more than I care to admit.

I have also not made a major effort to reconnect with old friends here in the area now that we have moved back.  Not because I don't love them, or that they aren't important to me, or even because I'm not happy to be back. If I'm being completely transparent, it's because I am feeling some awful feelings about where I am and how I look right now. I have had days where I didn't have the courage to leave the house, I hated how I looked so much.  I'm avoiding mirrors and pictures at all costs. If I catch a mirror at all, it's highly possible I will change my mind about venturing out.

I'm reminded of the Clara from 2009.

I LOOK like her.

I FEEL like her.

I AM HER.  I weigh the same as I did at my heaviest.

Yes, you heard that right.  Me, Clara, who has been regarded as an "example" and an "inspiration," (not my words, yours!) who has beaten the odds dozens of times, who lost a significant amount of weight (120 pounds at one point) and then kept off most of it (over 100 pounds for a solid few years), has gained it all back.

Here is the obligatory "BEFORE...AFTER...NOW..." picture.

June 2009 (285) - July 2013 (`82) - September 2016 (285)

I realize fully how unflattering my new "now" picture is, but I was serious when I said I've been avoiding the camera.  It's literally the best picture I've got right now.  And well, while we are being real, there you have it.

I realized recently that I am not going to get to a good place until I am totally honest with not only myself, but those of you who have supported me through the years. {This is in large part due to a heart to heart talk with a very dear friend this past Monday.  Love you so much!}

I have always been REAL with my successes and failures.  But I have never quite hit ground zero again like I have now.

Having lost 100 pounds and kept it off for a few years, to gain it all back...this is hard, my friends.  On so many levels.

And I can't even say something encouraging like, "On Monday, I'm starting this new plan!" or "And I have my journey BACK down Mud Mountain totally planned out and navigated!"

Because you know what? I don't have a perfect, fool proof plan.  I am not sure when I'll be able to really start making progress back down this path to being fit again, from the scale's perspective.  

This is a really really hard place to be, but there is a silver lining.  What?  I know.  I'm questioning this line of thinking myself, but stay with me. I realized something really important when conversating with the above mentioned dear friend and she encouraged me to share it with you.

I really thought, at one point, that this healthy lifestyle that had become a habit for me, was easy and that anyone could do it.  I've ALWAYS said I'm not a super disciplined person...I'm really truly not. I was sure that if someone wanted it enough, they could have the same successes I did.

That very narrow thinking has me kind of lost right now, almost in a haze of confusion, not understanding how I managed to land here, or how to climb back out when I don't even have the energy to food prep. With all I have accomplished and overcome, this should be super easy. Just do what I did before. Retrace my steps.



When we decided to expand our family in late 2014, I kept worrying that I would gain too much weight while pregnant. I voiced it a few times and anyone I talked to reassured me that I was different now. I knew how to eat.  I could stay active.  I was an athlete! This would be no problem.

It's quite possible that this would have been true had I not experienced the miscarriage.  Or at least partially true. But when your whole world comes crashing down on you and you lose a baby completely unexpectedly, your life as you know it, will never be the same.

So I gained weight during my first, albeit short pregnancy.  Then I gained weight being depressed about the baby we lost, wondering if I had waited too long, and was too old now to have a healthy baby again.

Then there was that moment when I had a positive pregnancy test, just three months after my loss, where I was SO torn.  I felt absolute fear, total elation and was totally upset with myself from a health perspective.  I weighed 225 at that point, and was newly pregnant AGAIN.  There was nowhere to go but upwards on the scale.

My priority was bringing a healthy baby into the world and having a successful pregnancy, so I focused on that.  I tried a whole 30 during the first trimester and finally gave up and ate crackers and cheese because I was starving - I couldn't stand the thought of a green vegetable and raw meat made me want to throw up.  I never did throw up, but just felt like I needed to.  For MOST of the pregnancy.  Only when I gave into cravings did I feel partially decent. And this baby liked S'mores of all things in addition to tons of foods I hadn't indulged in regularly for YEARS.  Part of me felt sweet relief eating any and everything.  I had been so "good" for so long, and everyone encouraged me to eat up, you're pregnant!  I was plowing my way through this pregnancy eating all the things, and feeding that emotional eating demon that made me overweight in the first place. While things seemed to go ok with the pregnancy, I did not know, until they laid this sweet baby boy on my chest, if I would get to meet him this side of heaven.

I did get my rainbow baby.  I have zero regrets about what it took to get him here.

What I honestly regret is not sharing this with you sooner.

I'm left with these difficult to process, challenging facts:

- I haven't been able to make huge dietary changes since baby W arrived without severely affecting my milk supply. Believe me, I have tried.  More than once.  I am one of those breastfeeding mamas who struggles with supply.  I make JUST enough, not a drop more, and that's with tons of supplements, etc., and, unfortunately, tons of carbs (and sweet potatoes and white potatoes aren't enough - trust me, I tried.)
- I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety. I had a touch of this with Lizzie so I recognized it when it reared it's ugly head.  It's MUCH better now thanks to supplementation and talking about it, but it's also been a vicious cycle of stress on top of everything else a new mama goes through.  We moved while I was on maternity leave to add to that stress.
- Breastfeeding does NOT equal weight loss for everyone. Some women get super skinny while nursing their babies.  I have not.  Instead, I've actually gained 20 pounds since Wyatt was around 2 weeks old.  Not everyone just loses weight - some women are very fortunate to be able to.  Others, like me, do not.
- I haven't had a full night's rest in almost a year.  I had terrible sleep issues while pregnant.  I would get up anywhere from 5-7 times per NIGHT to potty.  My back hurt constantly.
- I have almost zero extra time/energy for anything once I am done with work, and feeding a baby every two hours ALL DAY EVERY DAY. I am so spent many times the "what's for dinner" question in my house has been answered by a local restaurant or peanut butter and jelly.  Ugh.
- I am solidly around 280-285 pounds.  I seem to move daily within that range.  My highest weight was 285 in 2009.  I'm there again.
-I am scared.

Yes.  I'm scared that I won't ever be fit again.  No, I'm not being dramatic.  I have a hard time getting up off the floor.  I tried doing some kettlebell workouts recently and ended up throwing out my back.  I've never thrown out my back! I was literally down for days.

I share all of this for THREE reasons.

ONE - I need this blog, probably more than anyone reading it ever needed me.  I started it in early 2010 when I had lost 30lbs and then broke my ankle. I sat at this same dining room table articulating my first post, having no idea what the result would be but praying it would help me not lose focus since I was unable to walk/run.

TWO - I need to say I'm sorry.  I'm sorry for not coming to the realization that this is NOT easy, especially for a mama of more than one kid, especially for a woman in the workforce, especially for someone who travels for work.

THREE - My story is NOT over.  In 2010 when I began this journey, I had NO IDEA I would lose 100+ pounds and get as fit as I did.  And yet, I did.  I surpassed my goals.  I experienced tons of wins and just as many setbacks.  This setback, this one is toughest.  But it's far from over.

Somewhere really deep down, I know, underneath these squishy layers of motherhood, beneath the exhausted puffy bags under my eyes, and the entire wardrobe that is packed away, lies the strength to do this again.

Will I do it the same way?  Probably not.

Because I am not who I was when I started this journey.

Had you told me I was going to gain all of the weight back, I am not sure how I would have responded.  Probably would have scoffed at you. I was overconfident in my ability to do this.

Today, I am humbled by my reality.

Thanks for reading this all the way through. I hope it made sense, and if nothing else, resonated with someone else out there who isn't where they want to be today.  We can do this, my friends.  One day at a time, one step at a time, and for right now, one hour at a time.  More to come on what's next, and hopefully soon.



Sunday, June 5, 2016

After the Storm

Hi friends! If I were you, I would have thought I had disappeared off the face of the planet.  Well, I sort of, kind of did.

My last post was about the pregnant Whole 30 I embarked on in January for a few reasons - to clean up my diet big time and pass my glucose test.  I'm happy to say I did both!  My midwife was impressed at my results especially given my weight.  I also lost 8 lbs and had some ketones in my urine which she was not so impressed with and she told me to stop my whole 30 and add some things back in.  In typical, perfect, Clara-like fashion I did exactly what was asked of me.  Cue another huge weight gain. Sigh. Moderation and me are not friends.  More on that later...

After last year's miscarriage, many of you know that this pregnancy held alot of trepidation for me.  I was so concerned something would happen.  Even making it past "milestones" didn't really help.  Once you lose a baby, you have no reason to believe you won't lose another, even if the odds are in your favor.  This created alot of added stress during the pregnancy, but one thing I was hoping for above all else was a healthy rainbow baby.  In case you're not familiar with the term, a "rainbow" baby is one who is born following a miscarriage, infant death, stillbirth, etc.  It mirrors the thinking that storms lead to rainbows, and awful, dark times can lead to better times. There is always, always hope.

Now that the storm has passed, and some dust settled, I'm excited to share with you the details about the day the sun came back out for me and my little family.

I apologize for the lateness, as our baby is now almost 8 weeks old (!!!) but if you've ever had a baby, especially at 37 years of age or older (ha) then you understand my complete and utter exhaustion.  I truly underestimated my 25 year old self and overestimated my ability to bounce back so quickly 12 years later.

{DISCLAIMER: I feel the need to preface this story with the statement that I do NOT think everyone should do what I did, nor do I feel I am stronger than women who choose an epidural as I am not. Labor does not always go as planned and until you're in it, you really can't judge anyone else.  I cast no judgment on the choices of others in this area and ask for mutual respect.  The purpose of this post is to simply share my experience and how things went for ME.  If your experience was different or you don't like mine, you don't have to read it (cue "worry about yourself" haha). OK, read on!}

I ended up being induced at 38+5 (due to polyhydraminos and high BP), which was NOT what I had envisioned, or wanted for myself this time around.  I had read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and was preparing myself mentally to have a completely different experience this time than I did 12 years ago with Lizzie's birth.  (Long story short, epidural only worked on one side, I pushed for 90 minutes and it was just overall a rough experience that took me a really long time to recover.)  Anyway, I was hoping to go into labor on my own and avoid the evil pitocin monster, but birth plans, like ALL plans are subject to change. Good thing I'm flexible.

I checked into the hospital and they tried Cervadil to ripen my cervix.  Some women spontaneously begin to labor on this drug.  I was really hopeful!  I was already 2-3 cm dilated and very effaced thanks to alot of birth prep.  My husband was there and we waited for my best friend A to arrive to coach me through the birth.  We've got this, I thought.  I can do this.  

The 12 hours of cervadil did pretty much nothing. Oh goodness, I thought.  But, I can still do this.  They approached me about the pitocin.  Cringing, I agreed, still firmly decided there would be no epidural.  Possibly a narcotic to knock the edge off when things got "real" later on.

They started pitocin at 8am and my cheery attitude began to fade with each hour..holy hard contractions...especially because my cervix refused to make good progress.  I literally took 4 or 5 hours to get to a full 3cm which was with the pitocin consistently being ratcheted up as high as 24 during that time frame. The contractions were uncomfortable but not impossible to get through. I leaned on Stephen, joked around with A, drank peppermint tea and might have snuck a few other items for sustenance. I tried to think positively...but the continued labor without progression was concerning, and I was already running out of energy since I hadn't eaten more than a few tiny snacks since 4pm the day before.

Finally around noon we decided to break my water.  This was another full on negotiation with my midwife, who by the way, is AMAZING.  She really advocated for me. There ended up not being as much fluid as anticipated but it definitely helped things progress some and my continued goal was to avoid csection. They began turning the pitocin up higher and higher periodically. I labored for a few more hours and it was becoming pretty uncomfortable, I was sure I was at least a 6 or 7...they checked me and I was only at 4cm! Holy what?  All that hard work for just 4 measly cm?  I was crushed thinking I had worked way harder than that with contractions a minute apart for those hours! I just had to keep going. Kept upping pitocin and finally asked for something to take the edge off around 7cm and they gave me a dose of fentanyl. While that helped me rest between contractions, it also really slowed them down and thus slowed down progress which was not OK. I had a lot of pain, according to my nurse, more than I should have given what the contraction monitors said.  In hindsight, I really probably just don't have a very high pain tolerance and was so exhausted it  made it that much harder to deal. We had to have an hour between doses of the meds and that's when it got so rough I began to feel like I really couldn't do it. Like not just couldn't do it, but might not survive it.  I know mamas who have been through this are totally raising their hand with an Amen to that.  They don't call it labor for nothing! During that time I said alot of not nice words, screamed a little (ok, maybe alot, sorry to anyone else laboring nearby), and possibly fractured one or more of Stephen's fingers squeezing his hand.  And only progressed to 8cm in that very very uncomfortable time. I was getting mad at this point.  I mean, all this work, and literally blood/sweat/tears and I still had 2 cm to go?  The last coherent thought I had was that my best friend and birth coach, A, my husband and my nurse were all trying to kill me.  I made sure they clearly knew I felt that way. You know, so they could feel guilty when I didn't make it.

I sort of came outside of myself for the next 2cm. I had some contractions I could totally zone and breath through and others where I sounded like I was being sawed in half in a horror flick, complete with bloodcurdling screams and crying the pain was so intense. I knew I needed to be calm, not clench my body up and try to relax but I was going on 24 hours without a real meal and I had worked so hard to get to where we were. It was the oddest and most out of body experience I've ever had. That feeling during transition is something I never imagined - I literally at one point felt like I was dying. Being completely ripped apart from the inside. Pitocin was completely maxed out for the last few cm, as high as it could go. {Have you seen the movie, the Princess Bride? (If you haven't, I might unfriend you).  I feel like pitocin contractions mimic that machine that sucked the life out of the leading man in the Pit of Despair.  Like, seriously.}

They called my midwife in and she checked me and I was finally at a 9. I was feeling completely out of control in pain and started feeling the need to push. She checked again and I was 9.5 and I told her I had to push. Game was on!

I pushed for 10 minutes and baby boy was born! Having an easy pushing experience compared to my last birth was such a blessing and SO needed! That was the most amazing feeling in the WORLD once he slid out. I felt like a completely new person and was reenergized. Stephen said my entire demeanor changed and honestly I went from literally feeling like I was being killed to a feeling of euphoric, almost instantaneous relief.  They placed my cheese covered little nugget on my chest and my heart melted! Our little rainbow baby was finally here and he looked up at me with such a knowing and sweet look. Within seconds of my placenta being delivered he was nursing.  This hospital has a "magic hour" where they then clean you up, and leave you alone for an hour to bond with baby before even weighing him.  It was amazing!

I had a slight 2 degree tear, long but not deep, and in the same place I tore with my daughter 12 years ago.

Folks, if you've followed me for any length of time, you know I've done some hard things.  I'm a tough girl.  I lift heavy weights.  I've run some races.  I've set some huge goals for myself (pun intended) and met those goals toe to toe.  This was, hands down, the toughest, most physically challenging thing I have ever done.

While it wasn't perfectly in line with my birth plan, I knew as soon as induction was required I had to make some adjustments.  I still managed to have the birth I wanted given the circumstances and I am very satisfied for enduring (surviving?) the pit induced labor without an epidural or needing the csection.

Here are a few pics of our experience and new little boy, Wyatt Royce. 7lb7oz and 20.5 inches long.
Big sister is just over the moon! Their first meeting.

Daddy is super happy to have his little man here! Nothing makes you fall deeper in love with your husband than watching him become a father - again.  Sigh. 
A recent pic of me and the little dude.  He has my heart!

So you're caught up - to this point at least.  In the next few posts I do plan to talk about post partum depression and anxiety and my experience with that, as well as what is next for me  (hopefully later this week). I have a great deal more to say and tell you but I've got to rush off now and make dinner while Baby W is happy with Daddy, then be ready to feed him again. More later on where I am in my fitness journey. 

I'll tell you this much - it's not pretty and we have a LONG road ahead of us this year to find some semblance of my former fit self.  I can say it was totally, completely worth it!

I hope you're up for it.  I am. 


Sunday, January 10, 2016

It ALL Starts With Food...

Just a quick update for the inquiring minds of my followers! If you follow my Facebook page, then you know I embarked on a brave adventure as of 1/4/16.  A pregnant whole 30.  {insert scary music}

Here's where I was at...I had gotten on the scale on 12/31 for my 24 week prenatal appointment, and I'll tell you, it was NOT pretty.  It has been a rough few months.  I've had a major raw meat aversion, and have relied on my husband to cook meat, but then haven't craved the first healthy thing.  It was all fried chicken sandwiches (chick fil a being my fave), pizza, and nachos (homemade at least).  That is all I literally wanted.  All.the.time. So of course I gained weight. But that was only a slight piece of what scared me into making a change.  I've had terrible heartburn turned acid reflux during the month of December that only got worse as the month wore on.  It seemed especially aggravated by chocolate (ahem) and other past-life foods but honestly at that point, everything was bothering my stomach and I felt like there was fire in my throat.  Zantac is allegedly safe to take during pregnancy, as is Tums, but I have tried really hard to avoid avoidable drugs this pregnancy.  When discussing with my midwife, I asked her if I could first try to control it with diet.  She said absolutely, but if that doesn't work go for the Zantac.

Now, alot of things that happen to your body when you're pregnant aren't of your own doing.  Many women develop gestational diabetes, and this isn't just women like me who gain too much...some women develop preeclampsia, etc. etc.  There isn't always a way to control these things.

So today is day 7 of my 2nd attempt at a pregnant whole 30 (if you recall, I tried one between weeks 5 and 8 and on day 18 had to cave as the nausea became debilitating).

I have to share what I've experienced this week:

First - fire in my throat heartburn - GONE. I've had a few gurgles here and there, but not daily and honestly not even noticeable. Gone.  Just like that.  This change was almost immediate.  Day 1 I felt AWFUL.  And by day two, it was all, Bye Felicia!

Second - I'm sleeping better.  For someone who is pregnant, this (among other things - haha) is HUGE.  I still get up to roll to the other side and of course then have to pee multiple times per night, but the sleep I am getting is sounder and better.  This came toward the end of the week.

Third - My skin is clear and glowing.  I mean clear.  I mean no makeup needed clear, but I wear a tinted moisturizer since my skin needs moisture still.  I am so thankful for this.  Nothing like being hugely pregnant and having zits!

Fourth - Probably the least important, but still good, I've dropped a few pounds.  Now, typically one doesn't weigh during a whole 30.  But I'm doing that and tracking my food every few days to be sure I'm eating ENOUGH and not losing too much too fast.  I would be fine to drop 10 pounds this month, baby is totally getting what he needs with my 2000 calories a day of whole, real foods.  But I didn't want to drop too quickly.

Fifth - I'm fueling my baby boy properly!  He is kicking up a storm and giving his approval of the new diet.  He moved alot before, but I know in my heart this is way better for him than Dairy Queen and Pizza.  (I told you it was bad!)

Sixth - I managed to get a walk in a few times this week! Woot woot! That's MAJOR.  I didn't particularly feel like it - but am really glad I did.  And am hoping to be more physically active in this home stretch I'm in.

I'm hoping in a few weeks, I can report a seventh victory, that I passed my glucose's on 1/28.  I'm a little scared...but knowing how I'm eating now and how much it's helping me feel better, I know if I do have gestational diabetes, it isn't my fault.  I'm doing best for my baby.  I didn't have GD with Elizabeth, but I will tell you, I'm already at a weight that is VERY scary for me and know that I need to get that under control, if nothing else.

The good part?  Even if I continue to gain, I know it's from healthy nutrition.  And I also know how to lose it.

But in the meantime, I need to FEEL BETTER.  And THAT, my friends, ALL starts with food.

Talk soon,

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Somewhere Between... a Bust & a Blessing

Greetings Blueprint followers!  It has been a very quiet year on this blog.  If you've followed me diligently since 2009, I apologize that the typical "here's what she's up to now" fitspiration has been missing this year.  I have changed, I have grown, I have digressed, and I have learned.  I am not the person I was when I began this journey at 285 pounds in 2009.  I am also not the girl who successfully made it to 185 pounds and celebrated keeping 100 pounds off for awhile.

I am somewhere between 2015 being a complete bust and a blessing.  Allow me to explain.

If you followed me this year you know there hasn't been much to watch, except for my heart to have been broken in a zillion little pieces, and the effort it has taken to gather the pieces back up and learn my new normal.  Check in here first, then here to catch yourself up on my year.  Seriously, you could just scroll to the right and see this is only my 5th blog in this entire year. It's the quietest year I've had since I began blogging in 2009.  Partly, because I haven't had much to say that would be inspiring to many of you.  Instead, I've struggled, cried, grieved, spent time on the carpet, and learned what the bottom really feels like.

Today, my weight is NOT where I want it to be.  But my focus has completely changed.  When we decided, earlier this year, to ask the Lord to increase our family (and of course do our part to make that happen), my focus shifted.  During my pregnancy in January/February/March, I was still running, lifting heavy weights, traveling like a crazy person and basically keeping up with my normal routine of life.  And then our baby died.  And my world stopped spinning while my heart broke solidly in half.  You see, everything seemed fine with our angel at first.  The baby had a strong heartbeat.  We saw it more than once and felt comfortable revealing to our beautiful 11 year old daughter that she would be a big sister.  She sobbed with excitement for this long awaited answered prayer.  And then less than a week later, we had to shatter her with the news that her sibling had gone to be with Jesus.

Since then I have come across many many women who have experienced something like this or much, much worse.  Though a loss is truly a loss, I have grown to learn that the pain can be just as unbearable with a first trimester as it can be to deliver a stillborn.  Ours stung especially due to the fact that we waited so long for it, and were so ignorant to what could happen.  One in four pregnancies ends unexpectedly in a loss.  No one expects to be the one in four, and many women suffer in silence.  If you know me at all, you know silence isn't exactly one of my gifts.  But I believe firmly and wholeheartedly that this new pain I've experienced is one that will someday help another. There are women hurting today who don't have anyone who fully understands their pain.  I get it and it's awful.

As you can imagine, after losing the pregnancy and my surgery in late March, my weight wasn't in a happy place. I was solidly back in the 200s, and hovering around 220 for awhile.  It took time for my body to realize it was no longer pregnant and I'll never forget the day I woke up deflated again.

Add that to the intense grief and depression, feeling like my chance and opportunity was completely missed because I waited so long, add in the feeling of despair and disappointment each month when I wasn't becoming pregnant, and I spiraled out of control in so many ways.

August rolled around and we headed to San Francisco to celebrate my brother's wedding to my beautiful new sister in love.  The trip was long and I was emotional and exhausted.  I chalked it up to my typical monthly hormone trip, in addition to late nights joking with my brothers and the time difference.  I was also faced with a confusing combination of amazing joy and sadness as I faced my other beautiful sister in love, who was due to have a baby just a few short weeks before I was.  I love her so deeply, but it still stung to see her beautiful round pregnant belly when mine was soft and empty.  The family time was amazing and I'm so thankful we had it.
At my brother's wedding with my handsome date!  16 years together, 15.5 married. He is my rock.

Yes, this is taken in the summer!  Muir Woods in northern CA.  Beautiful!
 We headed home and in the few days that it took to recover I realized I had missed my period.  I bought a test with zero expectation and you can imagine my shock when it immediately came up as positive as can be.  I was stunned, and unfortunately around 228 pounds.  Immediately I felt excitement and was upset with myself at the same time.

I took the first test (left) at 2pm.  The second test (right) at 9pm.
Now I am 14 weeks pregnant, which is 5 weeks further than we made it the last time.  Our almost 12 year old is cautiously optimistic, as are we.  I'm learning what it means to experience a pregnancy without the bliss of my previous ignorance.  Every twinge, ache, or funny feeling is analyzed, googled, questioned, wondered about.  While I have immense outward joy about this pregnancy, which is absolutely sincere, I have simultaneously inwardly struggled to feel true joy.  Almost like when you know something has failed you before, unexpectedly, you're constantly expecting to wake up to the bad news, and seeing the glass as half full, when it comes to this, is virtually impossible.  We've seen a strong, perfectly healthy little baby measuring a few days ahead of schedule, and we've heard a beautiful heartbeat more than once.  I'm not sure I will feel actual joy until I am holding this little blessing in my arms and I know he or she is safe from anything my body may or may not be able to do to protect it.

I've experienced absolutely terrible nausea this time around.  I actually was on a whole 30 for about 18 days between weeks 5 and 8, and then it came to the point where I could not look at a vegetable without wanting to hurl. My worst nightmare coming true!  I stopped the Whole 30 and just began to eat for survival.  Not only have I had the terrible nausea, but the fatigue has been almost debilitating.  I'm 36 years old and I am feeling the effects of having a later in life pregnancy.  I've honestly felt like a zombie for much of the last 6 weeks, but am hopefully rounding the corner.

At my last doctor's appointment at 12 weeks, I had already gained 11 pounds.  My entire weight gain for this pregnancy is supposed to be between 11-20 pounds.  Oops.  My midwife was so sweet and told me I have a "hall pass" until the nausea passes, then as an athlete she fully expects me to do what I know to do to get healthy.  I could have hugged her.
12 weeks - not super flattering, but there it is. Sorry for the mess. Dixie says hi.
While this doesn't mean I have gone fully off the rails (I actually haven't gained anything in the last two weeks) it does mean I am taking my nutrition one meal at a time.  One bite at a time some days.  This child loves greek yogurt and marshmallows (I'm limiting those).  Far cry from the way of eating that makes me feel best (paleo) but I also know that since 75% of what I used to eat before sounds absolutely disgusting right now (including sweet potatoes!) I just have to do the best I can.

I went for a walk once this week.  Once.  But it was better than nothing.  Maybe next week I'll get out a few more times. I did one kettlebell workout a few weeks ago.  But right now, if my body needs a nap I'm picking that over activity.  Growing a human is quite hard work at this point in my life.  And while I know I'll find my way back to more activity as I begin to feel a bit better (yay second trimester!) for now I'm prioritizing the best way I know how.  And the blessing gets priority.

So on this blog you may not find fitspiration for awhile, but I will try to blog updates about how things are progressing with my priority, the pregnancy, as well as how I'm doing in the health department.  My "blueprint" has always been drawn in pencil, and if you've been with me for awhile you know I've seen the ups and downs, successes and failures, but I've always grown as a person.  I look forward to finding pieces of my former fit self as I begin to feel better because I also realize the better I eat the more nutrition I'm providing this new little blessing growing inside of me.

Our pregnancy announcement.  One excited big sister!

2015 may not end with goals reached, pounds lost, but inches and a life gained.  Best part?  I know what to do, and when I am able, I'll do it. Been there, done that.  Got the blog history to prove it, right here.

And I'll thank God every day for the miracle of life and whatever part He allows me to experience this time around.

With love,

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I'm a Change in the Making...

Hey world...I'm back again, checking in on how life has been.

Since our loss in March (catch up HERE if you missed it) I've been working on finding my "new normal" and allowing myself to go through the grieving process.  So many things are happening in my head, heart and spirit that I almost don't know where to start this blog.  I guess I'll just start somewhere and hopefully the tangled and cryptic thoughts in my mind will make some sense once it's all out in the open.

Grief is hard.  Grieving the loss of a child is amazingly hard.  Grieving this loss has surprised me.  I say surprised because having never experienced a miscarriage before, and having had a perfect pregnancy with Elizabeth in 2003, I had no idea what this would feel like.  Similar to many life situations until you're actually walking that road, while you certainly can sympathize, or feel bad for someone who is sad, you cannot possibly empathize.

The pain, I can't even describe the pain.  The despair.  The feeling that I've lost something that I waited SO LONG for.  That hopeless feeling that nothing I could have done would have saved my child.  It wasn't meant to be, for now.

The finality of the whole thing and the surging hormones I've experienced over the last month have really made this road a bumpy one.  My body took a few weeks to figure out that I was no longer carrying a baby.  It's almost like it's in shock for that first little bit since I had the surgery and didn't miscarry on my own.  I still had tummy bloat for a few weeks then one day I woke up and it was gone.

There have been several key experiences and events this last 6 weeks that have really carried me along during this time.  One was a long conversation with a dear old friend, we don't get to talk often but when we do, it's like no time has passed since the last conversation.  She allowed me to share my heart, the good, bad and ugly, and she empathized with me, cried with me, and gave me a refreshing feeling of hope again.  Thank you my friend, for that. 

It was a Sunday, which in our house is kind of a big deal (you know, being married to the preacher and all) and I struggled to get myself dressed for church.  I had put on weight, some from pregnancy (chicken and waffles cravings were fierce!) and some from grief eating when Lizzie and I visited my future home (Amelia Island, Florida - before you freak out, that's where I plan to retire).  Anyway once the tummy bloat was gone, it was almost worse.  I was now just fat.  My hips and butt wore the remaining pounds I put on (something like 25 total - it was a bad scene) and I felt hopeless and totally upset.  Add the raging hormones, the typical difficulty that Sunday morning has in store for my family (until we get in there and begin to focus where we need to focus) and I was a MESS that morning.

A friend hugged me and I burst into tears.  I just felt despair.  I was really experiencing depression.  Full on, wish I could go to sleep and not wake up depression.  I haven't felt this way since long before I knew Jesus.  As a teenager I battled depression and suicidal thoughts.  I wasn't quite "there" but felt myself spiraling in a bad direction.  I knew that I needed to climb my way out of this.

I sent Stephen and Lizzie to lunch after church and I had a protein shake and grabbed my kindle.  A devotion I've been working through is called Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg.  The 6th devotion in that book is titled "Nothing to Show for My Loss."  I read that devotion and it was exactly what I needed on that awful day.

Here is a quote I highlighted:  "You may feel you have nothing to show for your loss but a stack of bills, and out-of-shape body, raging hormones, an incomplete nursery, pain and suffering and empty arms." 

Empty arms.  Yes.  This resonated with me.  As did the medical bills, of course.  And the out of shape body.  Nothing fit right.  My body was not the same. But my arms.  They ached.

Add to that the other physical changes, all of my long beautiful fingernails broke, one by one.  I've never had great nails, but they were amazing when I was pregnant.  I also was struggling with insomnia but thanks to some Valerian root began finding my sleep groove again.  Physically it took me a few weeks to get to where I would work out again, but I continued to be so exhausted (depression does that ya know) and felt like nothing I did mattered.  I kept wondering what I could have done differently to save my baby.  I made a long list of things I did while I was pregnant wondering which one caused my baby to die.  I rode on 6 airplanes (though I never went through the body scanner, I opted for pat downs), ran a 5k at 6 weeks pregnant, continued lifting heavy weights, had my hair colored, and I think I ate gorgonzola cheese by accident one time.  Was it me?  Did I do this?

My 2 week checkup with the OBGYN proved to be good for me.  I went over my laundry list with him trying to pinpoint what happened.  He is a father of 9 children (and shared his wife experienced 3 losses trying to get their last 2 babies here), and he looked at me calmly and said "You didn't do this.  The baby didn't spontaneously miscarry, instead, it got to a certain size and could not continue growing so it was missing what it needed.  Since your body didn't expel the baby we removed it.  There's nothing you physically did or could have done."

I feel like between the conversation with my friend, that devotion the day before and that appointment, something shifted in me.  I knew those things he said, that I read and that she shared, I think, subconsciously, but I needed someone to tell me it was ok, and it was not my fault.  As a woman, you think, my body is MADE for this.  How could I be dysfunctional in the one major thing my body was designed to do?  I also needed to know that it was normal to grieve a baby I never got to meet.  Some people have not known how to communicate with me about this and I don't blame them at all.  But they try to minimize your pain or say something to make you feel better. News flash - NOTHING anyone says to me will make me miss my baby less or soothe my pain.  All you can say is you're continuing to pray for us and think of us.  That helps more than even telling me it was "meant to be." Even if it was.  You wouldn't say that to someone who lost a child on this side of the uterus.  Don't say it to someone who lost a baby they didn't get to meet, either.

The only thing that has truly and totally begun to dig me out of my sadness has been Jesus.  Seriously.  I'm a pastor's wife but I will confess I'm not in the word of God regularly outside of Sunday.  I also have a crazy busy full time traveling job, run my household, workout 5 days a week and cook most of my meals.  Life is busy.  And for too long it's been too busy for God.  Through this He has been beckoning to me and I have nowhere to go but towards Him. 

On an airplane a few weeks ago, I was returning from a trip and on my second flight of the day, wanted to sleep.  It was a short flight, but enough of a catnap to help me rest before the drive home from the airport.  I sometimes talk to people on flights, other times I don't.  Depends on my mood.  I looked to my left and the woman next to me had this tattoo on the inside of her forearm that said HOPE in huge letters. It gripped me that someone who would put this as such a large reminder on their arm probably had some major reason for doing so.  I suddenly began crying (this is a side effect of grief and hormones I've since learned) and began digging around in my bag for the tissues I knew had to be in there.  I didn't want it to be obvious I was crying but suddenly I began hearing something in my head.  A tune, and then some words began to flow with it.  I wondered what song had come to mind and then I realized, it's not one I've heard before.  I grabbed my notebook and through my tears penned an entire song in about 20 minutes.  The funny part about how I write music (and by the way haven't written anything like this in YEARS) is that I always get words WITH the tune.  Which makes it fun to try to write as you have to figure out what chord progression goes with your tune.  Kind of backwards but for some reason that's always how I write.  I was amazed and inspired that God would give me such a gift set off by emotion and someone else's tattoo.  I wish I had asked that girl what her tattoo stood for but I can only imagine it was a reminder to hang on.  I needed it that day.

More crazy, out of the woodwork things have happened to help me find peace during this storm.  I was flipping through my bible this past weekend while listening to an amazing speaker encouraging pastors and deacons wives at a conference.  I flipped suddenly to an ultrasound picture that I forgot I had stuck in my Bible one day hoping to hide it from my little girl.  I wanted to hide it as it was my 2nd Ultrasound picture, when I first began to experience bleeding a few days after my first ultrasound.  They had me come in when I called and explained my symptoms 4 days later.  Heartbeat was 155, baby looked good and was growing.  It's the last picture I have of my baby alive.  I stared at our little peanut for a minute, then my eyes were drawn below it to a scripture.  I had inadvertently stuck this picture in Psalm 39.  Let me share what I found.

Psalm 39:15 says "For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God."  This seemed to be a prophetic placement of the picture of the baby that would pass away just days later.  If you read on to Verse 17, it says, "For I am ready to fall, and my sorry is continually before me."

That day I quickly stuck this picture into my bible so Lizzie wouldn't know something could be wrong and wouldn't worry, I obviously didn't realize where I had put it.  I hadn't even seen it in weeks.  And that day when I stuck it in my bible and stuffed the continually nagging feeling that something was not OK with the baby, I was unaware that my sorrow really was still before me.

Right now my theme is all about trying to take one day at a time.  Trying to allow myself to cry and grieve when I need to, talk to the people who don't mind me talking about it all.the.time (you know who you are - I love you!) and look to the future purpose I know this awful experience was designed for. You see, I don't believe that suffering comes without purpose.  My faith in Christ tells me that we all suffer for a purpose, as did He.  He suffered more than I ever will.  This is not a time to turn away from God no matter how much I wish He had let me have this baby.  After all, He knows what it's like to lose a child.

That speaker last weekend shared with us that there are several reasons why God allows hardship. 

She shared that Trials can be to:
- TEST us - are you who you say you are?
- CORRECT us - we may be heading toward danger, move us down another path or direction.
- PERFECT us - to refine us and continue to make us more like the image of God himself.

I'm not saying I think I lost this baby so God could teach me a lesson, please don't misunderstand.  But I do believe losing this baby has had and will have a major purpose in our lives.  Not just for future ministry, but for my life in general.  It has caused me to run to God instead of putting every obstacle and excuse between myself and growing closer to Him and growing in my spiritual walk.

I do believe through everything we experience we are being perfected.  Like it mentions in Malachi 3:3, "He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver so that they may present to the Lord offerings of righteousness."  Someone who is purifying gold or silver puts it in FIRE to remove the impurities.  It is hotter than we really can stand, on our own.  God is perfecting me and through this grief, sadness and all of these tears, I hope to reflect more of His image than I ever have because of this.  So my loss can have a tangible and meaningful purpose.

My life is no longer about keeping everything separate or being careful not to mention my faith much on this blog.  I feel strongly called to share my grief with all of you, and share how God is helping me through it.  I don't know why.  I don't personally know most of those of you who are reading this right now.  But God does.  He knows everything.

And He holds my future.  I believe without a shadow of a doubt that this glorious sadness will bring continued joy.  And while I would gladly accept my child back in a heartbeat, I also do not regret this newly found closeness I am experiencing with my Father in heaven.

I can picture Him rocking my baby back and forth.  My daughter named the baby Andrew James.  We don't know for sure it was a boy, but in the several dreams I had about the baby, I always saw a boy.  While I know my arms will not hold Andrew this side of heaven, I know I have a beautiful angel waiting for me.  Until we meet again, I am going to do my best to comfort others who have also lost or are lost themselves.

Please comment if I can be praying for you.  I find myself having time now that I'm making time in my daily devotion so I will gladly add you to my list.

I'll leave you with a song that came on my ipod this morning during a 5k race.  I didn't get to pick the playlist as I didn't get my ipod working until halfway through the race (yeah the lock button prevents you from pressing play!).  I just hit play and this song came up in the playlist and I had forgotten about it.  I began crying (yep, again) but quickly had to compose myself so I could breathe and finish the race. 

I'm SO glad He is not done with me yet!  Change in the Making by Addison Road.