Fitness Fridays: Stretching My Comfort Zone

Holiday Fitness Challenge FB BannerMy health and fitness journey reminds me of my journey to recovery from my postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  This journey is setbacks and plateaus.  I had hit a plateau last year.  I had been exercising consistently, but I was not seeing any progress.

I realized that I needed to make a change.  A fitness rut had been my undoing.  I was not pushing myself to my full potential.  I had been doing the same types of activities without seeing results.  My friend, Kira, posted on Facebook about starting up an accountability group.  I messaged her, and we chatted back and forth.  I wanted not only to lose weight, but I wanted to tone up my muscle tone.  After two C-sections, my core strength was non-existent.

Cue the amazing Les Mills Body Pump program.  I had no idea lifting weights would make me sweat as much as doing a boot camp workout.  I also tried out a meal replacement vitamin shake – Shakeology.  The workouts varied, and I was never bored.  I constantly challenged myself by adding more weights as I became stronger.  I am blessed with a onsite fitness center at work, but free weights at the gym have always intimidated me.  I stand a mere five feet, barely two inches.  When I began, all I could lift was a twelve pound weighted bar and a pair of five-pound dumbbells.  I can do Body Pump in the privacy of my home after my girls have gone to bed for the night.

The support I received from Kira and my fellow teammates was infectious.  I started taking post workout selfies.  I noticed a change in how my clothes fit, and I noticed a difference in my energy level.  I felt so energetic.  I was able to quit taking my daily dose of probiotics, and my microscopic colitis flares disappeared within a month of drinking Shakeology on a daily basis.

After two months in her challenge groups, Kira talked to me about the opportunity to become a Beachbody coach.  I love the products, and I love to help people.  I feel that the missing piece of my recovery and a key component in my self-care arsenal is physical exercise.  I wanted to give back to my friends and family the same type of support and encouragement that I received.  I took a leap of faith, and I became a coach myself.  I have learned so much more about myself as an individual, and a team of like-minded fitness enthusiasts who are passionate about helping others lead healthy lives surrounds me.

Full disclosure: I am an Independent Team Beachbody Coach.

 

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Skeeter’s tough day

Three weeks ago, Skeeter had her annual check up for her bladder reflux at our fantastic Children’s Hospital.  These annual check ups cause much anxiety for both of us.  Her first two visits to Children’s (a middle of the night trip to the emergency room and a three day hospital stay) mark the beginning of my struggle with postpartum anxiety.  A friend of her godmother’s suggested that we talk to the Child Life Specialists before Skeeter’s ultrasound. This suggestion was an absolute godsend for Skeeter and I.

We had a Child Life Specialist and her intern come into the waiting room in Radiology.  Skeeter was a little shy, but she opened up quickly.  She talked to both of the women, and she immediately started playing with one of the toys that they provided.  When the ultrasound technician came to get us, Skeeter hopped down from her seat and walked right into the exam room.  The Child Life Specialist told Skeeter that her job was to sit very still and play with her toy so that the tech could take the special pictures of her belly that we needed.  The Child Life Specialist and her intern spent about twenty minutes with us, and the ultrasound exam lasted ten minutes.  I felt so much relief after the exam.  I wanted to hug everyone – the ultrasound tech, the intern and the Child Life Specialist for making this experience so positive and soothing.

Skeeter and I enjoyed a quick snack between our radiology appointment and her appointment with our nurse practitioner in the Urology clinic.  Skeeter could not wait to show off her potty training skills and went to the bathroom twice.  After her appointment, we had lunch and then visited her daddy at work.  Skeeter finally took a nap on her way home.  When I carried her into the house, she woke up and said, “I had a tough day today, Mama”.  I told her how proud I was of how she handled herself and how well she paid attention.  I gave her a big hug and reminded her that she would get to have lots of fun at her dance class later that evening.  I am so grateful for the amazing care that we received.  I needed the comforting and soothing as much as my Skeeter did that day, and we were given compassion, patience and understanding.

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Star of the Week: Munch

Two weeks ago Munch was the star of the week of her kindergarten class. She enjoyed her morning in the spotlight. We prepared for this week a month in advance.  I got to sit back and watch her in her element at the front of the class, answering questions.  Munch got to create a poster that told her classmates all about herself.  She got to bring a parent to class to talk about their job or something else.  Since my job “is so boring” per Munch, we decided that I would talk about my background in theatre.

I spent 90 minutes with Munch and her class telling them stories about how I first got involved in theatre and singing. Munch and I sang “My Favorite Things”, and then the entire class sang “Do Re Mi” with us (about seven verses).  I am in awe of how much those simple gifts light up the kids.  The attention and the surprise in their faces and eyes when I began to sing sustained my heart and soul for days.

When Munch and I talked again this weekend, I mentioned her gift of art.  She told me that my gift was to make music with my beautiful singing voice.  I am in awe of my sweet Munch and her capacity for kindness and empathy.  I hope that she remembers our relationship always like she drew us in this picture – full of unconditional love.

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Fitness Fridays: Getting My Run On

Jen post runI’m introducing a new feature on the blog for Fridays: Fitness Fridays.  As part of my continuing journey towards health and wellness, I had this vague goal of “running more consistently”.  My cousin kept encouraging me last year to join a training program.  Finally I took her up on her advice, and I joined a ten week training program through Performance Running Outfitters.  This 5K training program has been so fantastic.  We have weekly group runs as we gradually build up our endurance and our distance.  The staff is so helpful, and I receive individual attention on my running gait, nutrition and form.  I feel more at ease when I run now as I incorporate all the lessons I have learned.

This program is even sweeter because my cousin is one of the amazing mentors in this program.  I am paired up with more experienced running mentors  on our group runs.  I look forward to Wednesday nights since it’s my only group run.  My other runs are solo runs where I get to decompress and just think and breathe.  Running has allowed me to stretch my physical limits as well as tapping into running as an act of meditation.

I know you’re all giving me the side eye.  I have become one of “those” runners.  Running and exercise in general help me restart my day or my night just through the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other and just breathing.  Running is as effective for my self-care as getting enough sleep, eating right and taking my medication.  I definitely found the runner’s high, and I crave it.  Running helps me feel more comfortable in my skin, and I am a better mother because I run.  Now I race both Munch and Skeeter into their respective schools in the morning. It is a close race most days, but one day I will beat them both!

 

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Lack of spousal support

Time and time again, I am reminded of how grateful I am to have a husband who has been incredibly supportive of my struggles with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. As I talk to other Warrior Moms, the lack of understanding and compassion from spouses is appalling. “Suck it up” is not an appropriate response. That was an actual response from a husband to his wife who struggled mightily not only with postpartum depression, but also with postpartum psychosis. When I heard that response come out of his mouth, I glared at him. He understood after the fact that his response lacked compassion and empathy.

I am fuming after yet another local case of infanticide that was incorrectly reported as depression.  Why do we shame mamas into silence?  When mamas reach out for help, they are dismissed.  They are seen as “too emotional”, “too sleep deprived”, and “too sensitive”.  The majority of the household managing and child raising falls largely on mamas regardless of whether they stay at home, work from home, or work outside the home.  We do not have the family or social support that we used to.  We live in ever-increasing isolation.  As the lovely Lauren Hale stated so eloquently in this post, “Our village is in peril. Our village? FELL THE FUCK APART AND NO ONE GIVES A DAMN.”

Depression feeds on this isolation.  When I was depressed, I could not even think about reaching out to anyone.  I could not manage the strength to keep up any friendships.  I just put my shoulder to the grindstone and soldiered through each day until  I hit my wall.  I waited too long to get help.  I struggled through my entire pregnancy with severe anxiety.  I was not diagnosed until seven months postpartum with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  I struggled for over a year.

What has to happen before we stand up and take action? My husband has suggested that partners and dads (not the mama who just gave birth or adopted a baby) be given a sheet of signs to watch out for.  Everyone needs to be educated on perinatal mood disorders.  Oftentimes, a mama is so sick that she does not have the energy or the strength to advocate for herself.  Dads, partners, friends and parents, educate yourselves.  Let’s start a national conversation about the disgraceful state of maternal mental health ins this country.  Here is a place to start: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/every-mother-every-time-universal-mental-health-screening-every-pregnant-and-postpartum-woman/rG1jLyYj.  I support this petition whole-heartedly.  The village needs to assist.  This is not just a women’s issue; it is a family issue.  Families are in crisis, and it is time that we stand up and do something about it.

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Feeling like a fraud

I allowed my inner critic to beat me up for the past week.  I wallowed in shame and self-pity.  I felt like a fraud.  Who did I think I was?  Why did I even consider playing in the big leagues and taking risks?  I felt like I had let everyone down – my husband, my girls, my family, my friends, and my colleagues.  All I heard in my head was that refrain of “not enough” and “failure”.  I put so much pressure on myself, and I berate myself when I cannot live up to my impossibly high expectations of myself.   I realized that I have been this way since I was a young child.  My parents have always been extremely supportive of me in whatever I do.  All of this pressure is self-imposed.

I reached out to some trusted friends and family, and they reminded me that I am worthy.  I am deserving.  I doubted myself, my abilities, and my worth.  I let myself spiral down into shame, apathy, and misery.

I am climbing back out of the pit.  I am writing and reading things that inspire me.  I am working on my personal development to continue to develop my confidence in myself.  I am making time for self-care.  One of my biggest tools for self-care has been to get enough sleep.  I am just coming out of a bout of sinus infections and back to back ear infections.  I am recommitting to using my gratitude journal.  I want to thank my biggest cheerleaders, Jenna and Story, for encouraging me and letting me vent.

 

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#Pushplay and my amazing fitness mentor

 <a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/6279967/?claim=scudtbeftra”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>21 Day Challenge

I posted this picture on my Facebook, and I have never received so much positive feedback and encouragement.  I spent the past three years beating myself up for everything. I had resigned myself to a sedentary lifestyle.  The odds were stacked against me in terms of my genetic history. Why shouldn’t I eat what I want since I would end up diabetic anyway?  I might as well enjoy it while I can.  My tests results that indicated prediabetes had sent me into a tailspin of despair and frustration.

 Then I saw a post on Facebook from a dear childhood friend of mine who talked about being a part of a Facebook group where we could hold each other accountable.  I reached out to her, and we talked about my health and fitness goals.  I started making those small changes in my diet and my exercise routine that helped kickstart my fitness journey. 

I had so much fun, and I saw great results! I kept continuing with her groups.  Her positive energy was contagious!  I began taking sweaty selfies after my workouts, and I became inspired by the energy and support from the rest of the people in our group.  Thank you K for introducing me to an amazing group of people and a fantastic side of health and fitness that I did not realize was out there.  I had been missing the final component to my recovery from postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety – my physical health.  I finally feel comfortable in my skin, inside and out.

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