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,