My body doesn’t hate me! And other musings on life over the past 15 months.

Remember how last time I checked in, I was training for my first 1/2 marathon in foreeeeeverrrrr? And I promised I wouldn’t quit? Well guess what? I actually ran it, and I didn’t quit. I mean clearly, I quit blogging. But I didn’t quit running. I tortured myself with mid-day and after work runs because as we have previously discussed, I have borderline PTSD from almost a decade of rising before the sun for morning swim practices. So I suffered through 90% humidity and 98 degrees (both the temperature AND the boy band) in the summer months, and finally was rewarded with my first trip to Vancouver. I hung out with lots of really awesome new friends, I slept on a sidewalk, I shopped til I dropped the morning before the race, and then I got to do this:

SW1SW3SW4

Disclaimer: the first picture isn’t mine. I pulled it of the interwebs but it isn’t copyrighted as far as I know. The others I took and yes, Vancouver is that awesome. I won’t bore you with the minutiae about the race, other than this- I ran slow (by former Jen standards) and I enjoyed EVERY minute of that race. The first 8 miles were a breeze. The weather was phenomenal, the course was fun and not too challenging. I was averaging about a 9:00 min/mile pace. I really started to hurt around mile 9, as I didn’t run more than 9 during training because a) I didn’t carve out the time for long runs and b) my knee was giving me some grief the last couple months. Anyway, I made sure to just keep moving, no walking, no stopping. I had a smile on my face the entire way and when I crossed the finish line somewhere around 2:03, I was thrilled that I just did not quit. It was by far the slowest 1/2 I have ever run, 10 minutes slower than a pregnant half marathon I ran many moons ago. But it was hands down the best running experience of my life. And perhaps the pinnacle of the race? FREE BRUNCH AFTERWARD.

If I had recapped the race in the immediate aftermath, rather than 49 weeks later, then it would have been much more drawn out (yes, this is an abbreviated version), with many more details and gushing about the post-runner’s high that I had. But alas, the months have marched on and my memory has faded. Plus, I’m sure you’re not here to read about the last race I did. You want to know what else has so occupied my time that I couldn’t return to bless you with my verbal diarrhea for over a year. Well, this happened:

baby feet

Ahahahaha just kidding. The shop is closed.

I’ll tell you what happened. It wasn’t pretty.

Within a couple weeks after that race, I started dealing with a lot of “stuff” to put it mildly. I experienced some pretty traumatic events in my professional life. I won’t get into the details but that, coupled with the extreme exhaustion caused by ramping up my running, the travel to/from Vancouver, camping out in Vancouver, the race that I was ill-prepared for, being severely sleep deprived the whole trip, and some personal drama (save the drama for yo’ mama please) led to me suffering from some very severe fatigue, plus other not so awesome symptoms. The thing is, I didn’t hit “pause” throughout this. You can’t really do that when you have a job (that by the way, you HATE because you’re being harassed daily), three kids, and a very full life. So I kept on moving. I was going to Flywheel five days a week because at the time, I didn’t know what was going on with my body, and I knew that working out always helped de-stress me. But little did I know that this constant high intensity cardio was actually not good for me. So I gained 10 pounds (on top of the baby weight that I was still nurturing from 2014, oops), I was constantly fatigued, my blood pressure was high, and essentially left me feeling worse when it was time to go… than ever before. I felt like my body was attacking itself.

I started working with my endocrinologist to get to the bottom of my concerns, and he determined my body was over producing cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone.” It was in a constant state of “fight or flight” because of the physical and emotional stress I was undergoing daily. My thyroid was also acting funky again, so we adjusted my meds and he recommended taking it easy with the cardio, trying yoga and walking. Um what did you just say? WALKING? WHAT IS WALKING? Like that thing you do when you bring your groceries inside from the car? I don’t even understand these words coming out of your mouth, Doc! But at this point I was just so sad and frustrated, I was willing to do whatever he told me, besides give up Diet Pepsi. Sorry, it’s true. I have problems.

While it wasn’t that difficult for me to change my fitness routine, I had another problem: my career. I was so completely miserable in my job that it affected my interactions with most everyone in my life. Again, I won’t get into the gory details but I was desperate for a way out. When I was at my rock bottom, a wonderful friend/mentor linked me up with her friend. They counseled me through the situation, and eventually, helped me get a new job. The day I accepted this new job, it was like 10,000 pounds have been lifted off me. And I wanted to write 10,000 words to express how grateful I am to them, but I clearly cannot find the time these days, so this will have to suffice. THANK YOU GINGER. I am crying just typing this, because I was in such a dark place and assumed I would have to become jobless and then destitute and WHAT WOULD I DO WITH ALL MY LULULEMON????

Once I started my new job, everything changed. I had a beautiful on site fitness facility complete with a MASSAGE THERAPIST, a cafeteria that serves delicious sushi every Wednesday, walking trails, a commitment to wellness, a free nutritionist, rooms with treadmill desks, and hi did I mention the sushi day? Basically, it was everything I could ever hope for in a job, besides the fact that The Avett Brothers don’t play on site every Friday. That was an unfortunate downside of this company, but it’s okay, I got over it. My mental wellbeing changed significantly within days. But here is the thing… my weight/body did not. It was like I had permanently damaged my metabolism or something. And well, if you are a woman with a history of body dysmorphia, that kinda sucks.

So around New Year’s, I decided to start lifting heavy weight again. Mostly lower body, like squats, lunges, and deadlifts. Because who doesn’t want to turn their pancake butt into a peach? AmIright? I also began tracking my food intake, using the very nifty app My Fitness Pal. I calculated my nutritional needs/macro numbers at Bodybuilding.com, and then plugged all that into the app. PS- you may be asking what macro’s (macronutrients) are, and I would love to post a link, but most of the decent ones are tied to websites trying to sell you crap, so you can just google if you care to learn. Anyway, once I started tracking my macros and adding a little resistance training to my workouts, I started seeing changes in my measurements and my weight. Conservative but encouraging. Then I quit because well, I just have a really hard time sticking with stuff, as you have already seen many times if you have been following this blog. To those of you who have stuck with me, anxiously awaiting a post once a year, CHEERS to you!

I got down on myself again about the weight gain, because on May 8, 2017 I hit an all-time non-pregnant high weight. In fact, I *achieved* the weight that I was the day I gave birth to my first kid. I won’t share the number because that is unimportant to y’all, but it was completely demoralizing. I started in the mirror and thought “I don’t have a mom bod. I’m pretty hot, right? Where is all that weight hiding?” Oh right, I got that skinny mirror at Walmart and it makes my legs look long and lean, and all my selfies are taking with this miraculous phone that has a *slim face* feature. Wow, Samsung really knows what women want! And to dear sweet Super Dad, who said “but muscle weighs more than fat, right Honey?” BLESS YOU. But fool, I know my body fat percentage and I am not walking around with 3% or 13% or even 23% body fat my friend. That is not muscle. It’s fat. It’s a lot of fat. Oh sweet baby Jebus where did all that fat come from? Oh right, Bojangles. BISCUITS. FRIED CHICKEN. I’m hungry right now.

So how did I remedy this situation? How did I lose 12 pounds and 6% body fat in 8 weeks? Stay tuned, I’ll be back tomorrow. I PROMISE. No really, I have the post drafted and it is scheduled to post tomorrow.

Here’s a hint, and it doesn’t involve herbs or shakes or wraps or any of that other crap people try to sell me on the regular…

chang

 

I’m quitting quitting

I’m a quitter. I freely admit it. I hope you have your reading glasses on, and don’t quit on me. Because this post is loooooong. What can I say? I have like 9 months to atone for.

It all goes back to my childhood. I quit trying to be an older sibling, so I ended up an only child. When I was a young swimmer, I switched events because my friend started beating me. I figured, if I’m not doing that event anymore, she isn’t really beating me.

Then in college, when I did horribly in Chemistry my first semester, I quit on my dream to become a doctor. Because it was too hard, and because I was no longer the best at schooling. I was used to basically just breathing and getting straight A’s. In college- not so much. So I just switched to a major that I couldn’t fail at. And I ended up in law school. Where all my greatest dreams came true. Ummmmm.

When I took up running, I was finally doing something that I felt I could succeed at again. Because I didn’t excel as a collegiate swimmer or a future doctor or even a future lawyer (though somehow I ended up with a JD and a job). I hadn’t ever run a half marathon before, so my first half was a PR. And then my second, and my third, and so on. Then I picked up marathon running, and that resulted in PR’s. Until one day it didn’t. One day, when I knew I hadn’t put in the work and I went out too fast, I saw a non-PR on the horizon. So I quit. I walked, and I jogged, and I walked, then I came up with some lame excuse. And promised myself I wouldn’t quit again.

Then motherhood came along. And I learned how you can’t quit. You can’t just stop waking up for your baby, you can’t lay down and cry when she is sick and needs you. You can’t stop going to work when it’s too hard, or let your baby stick her finger in an electrical outlet. It just ain’t gonna happen- unless you want someone to call the authorities on you.

I started training for a marathon when SuperGirl was about 7 months old. And guess what? I didn’t quit. I finished within about 5 minutes of my PR, which I considered pretty good for someone who had to pump then strap on two bras in order to go out for a long run. I felt like maybe my luck had changed.

But then I messed up my shoulder and had two surgeries in the first 18 months of SuperGirl’s life, and it all kind of spiraled down from there. I couldn’t get my groove back. Gosh, I so feel for Stella. I dabbled in stuff- bootcamp here, cycle there, running shorter distances. Then I got pregnant and it was like “YES, I have an excuse not to train as hard or an explanation for why I didn’t PR.” Can you believe that crap?

I ran a half when I was pregnant with SuperBoy, and it was so liberating running for a pregnancy PR. I had no real time to beat, so it was such an enjoyable experience. I PR’d a 10k at 28.5 weeks pregnant, because I had never run a 10k (that distance is the WORST bt dubs). I did not really run during my pregnancy with SuperToddler, because I was nursing a back injury and decided to take up Crossfit instead. Huh? That totally makes sense.

Doing Crossfit during that pregnancy was awesome because everything was so NEW! Double unders! Box jumps! Snatches! Thrusters (DEVIL!!!) Being pregnant, kicking ass and taking names- it felt so good. I was on top of the world again. I was THAT woman Crossfitting with a very noticeable baby bump, and everybody noticed my fat ass waddling around the building carrying a sand bag. It felt good to be the best at being pregnant and exercising. HOW DUMB IS THAT???

After having SuperGirl I was convinced I would bounce right back and finally do an unassisted pullup – because seriously, trying to learn how to do an unassisted pullup for the first time ever, when you weigh 20 pounds more than normal, it’s not that easy. I would crush my back squat and deadlift PR’s because those were pregnancy PR’s and everybody knows that you have to hold back when pregnant. Right? Well I let the proverbial cart get ahead of the horse, and injured myself again and again. Have we discussed where I can purchase a nice bubble to reside in? Preferably one made by Lululemon? I’ll even settle for Athleta. Or that Ivy Park crap from Queen Bey.

 

I’ve spent the better part of a year learning how to accept my body’s limitations. I’m not 25 anymore, I’m 29. Ok, not really, but the point is that I am no longer a nubile young 25-year-old. I am fairly certain that SuperToddler broke my body and she’s very VERY lucky she’s so cute and sleeps 13 hours a night, because otherwise I would be super pissed. My thyroid tanked, I am a good 15 pounds over my normal fighting weight, my other hormonal dealio things are whacked (I blame ‘roids- not the fun make you super ripped kind, but the “I have pneumonia” or “my neck is screwed” kind), and my spine is definitely a wonderland. So where do I go from here?

For starters, I have been channeling my inner competitor at Flywheel since last spring. There is this Torqboard that is fantastic/horrible for maniacs like myself. You can see how you stack up to your competition, or you can elect not to participate in the board, in which case you are only competing against yourself. That’s cool I guess, but I would rather see your name in lights (unless you are beating me). SuperDad is concerned that this is only further fueling the fire that is my competitive psychosis, but I disagree, sorta. Yeah, I get very wrapped up in my score. But I also try to learn new ways to improve. I listen to my body, and when it’s sore, I just do what I can. I figure out different ways to engage my abs, my hamstrings, my BOOTY, and even my feet! It has made me so much stronger in so many ways. There are SO many times I have wanted to quit, and I’ve only followed through with quitting like 20% 40% of the time. That’s better than 100%, right? Throw me a bone here.

Although the status of my neck is still up in the air (read: I may need another surgery. I know, I don’t want to talk about it), I have decided to give myself an attainable goal to work toward. I am going to Vancouver to run the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon  this August. I will get to meet some amazing ladies that have helped me get through the past year. Seriously, some of the kindest, funniest, most incredible people I have ever had the pleasure of “meeting” in the way we 21st century earthlings meet. I can’t wait to snuggle them and braid their hair and spend alllll the monies on French pastries (do they have those in Vancouver? Because they should) and poutine and special edition Lulu goodies that we will camp out for. Because we are legit crazy.

And that is what is going to keep me from quitting. This is I want to experience so badly. Meeting people who I have laughed and cried with, running, partying, doing the yoga thang, shopping, and seeing THIS (that’s Vancouver right? Cuz I googled Vancouver and this image appeared)!

Van

Will I get a PR? Probably not. Will I quit? Nope. I’m done quitting. Which I guess makes me a quitter still.

 

You are what you eat… part II

Since my last post, I got a lot of feedback from people who said they could relate to my story about my battle with eating issues.  I am so glad that I was able to reach out to people who may have struggled in the past or are struggling now.  That said, I really wish that I was not such a hypocrite.  I am really frustrated about the fact that my body has not changed since I wrote that post about 7 weeks ago. I know I am still only 3 months post partum and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but I really am not used to having a jiggly belly.  I want to wear pants with buttons.  I still have to wear maternity pants to work because all my dress pants are really small.  Note to self: If you are not pregnant, and don’t want to look pregnant, don’t wear maternity pants. Yikes.  Getting dressed for work in the morning almost puts me in tears because I feel like I only have about 3 outfits that fit me.  Not to mention I can’t really wear dresses because I have to pump while at work and I don’t feel like being half naked sitting at my desk (in my office- door closed!) with my dress around my neck. Awkward.

I really didn’t worry about the scale for a while because as I mentioned before, the number isn’t all that matters to me anymore.  What does matter is how I feel and also, to be honest, how my clothes fit.  I really felt I was getting to a place where I felt strong and secure, but that all stalled out a few weeks ago and quite frankly, I know the culprit- my diet.  I don’t use the term diet in the sense of limiting what I eat.  Rather, I mean that my diet, or lack thereof, is holding me back in a lot of ways.

About a year ago, I posted about how you are what you eat.  I seriously wanted to commit myself to eating healthier and setting a better example for Super Girl and Super Toddler.  They are actually pretty good eaters.  They love broccoli, beans, squash, zucchini, and asparagus.  But, and MAJOR but here, they are also carbaholics like their mom.  I did pretty well sort of ok with the cleaner eating until I got preggo with Super Baby last summer/fall.  Then it was all downhill, which is exactly what you don’t want to do when pregnant.  You are supposed to nourish your growing baby with the good stuff, not Bojangles.

I continued eating poorly after she was born, and after I started legitimately working out again at about 6 weeks post partum.  In the interest of full disclosure, here is a sampling of my daily meals: Breakfast- Cinnamon Life Cereal mixed with Honey Nut Cheerios (not a trough full, just a regular sized bowl.  Still, probably about 3 servings worth if I was measuring out actual suggested servings) with 2% milk, a big glass of water, and a Diet Pepsi.  Stop judging me already! Lunch- A Beach Club from Jimmy John’s.  It has turkey, ham, lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese, and mayo.  I go easy on the mayo and cheese, so it’s probably only like 200 calories worth instead of 300.  Another Diet Pepsi.  Seriously, I know I have issues.  Snack- an apple, Cheezits, and maybe a 2% Fage yogurt. Dinner- whatever Super Dad makes (on a good day).  Most days- pizza, some sort of salad with Ranch dressing, or pasta.  Some days- a couple scoops of frozen yogurt. Or a bowl of grapes, strawberries, or blueberries on a good day. I am truly HORRIFIED actually reading this.  There is nothing good about this, except the days when Super Dad cooks tilapia, squash, zucchini, eggplant, and rice for us.  But with three kids and full time jobs, delicious gourment meals from my personal man chef are farther and fewer between.  I can’t complain because I squat, but I don’t do squat.

There really is no point in beating myself up over my terrible eating choices for the past, oh, 10 months. It’s water under the bridge. But my bad habits are rubbing off on the Super kids.  Super Girl pretty much expects dessert every day, even if it is just one small piece of chocolate.  I am pretty sure the first two words that Super Toddler strung together were “cheesy puff.” I am dead serious, but can at least sort of put the blame on my neighbor who ALWAYS has Cheetos around.  Man those things are good.  Anyway, I have had to put the kaibosh on the dessert and snacks which means that I also can’t eat that stuff every day either, because what kind of mom would I be if I tell them “do as I say, not as I do”?  I don’t want to set them up for having body issues like me, or an unhealthy relationship with food.

Also, I feel like CRAP. I mean, it doesn’t help that I can only sporadically count on a full night’s sleep and that I am trying to squeeze in the following on a daily basis: 1) raising three kids, 2) working out, 3) a full time job, 4) a new side job for an amazing company that I am totally in love with, 5) keeping up with the Kardashians, 6) hanging out with my girlfriends, and 7) not totally neglecting the incredible Super Dad. Phew, I am tired just reading that. Side bar- #humblebrag much? Beside the whole Kardashians thing.  I am 100% certain that the way I am eating is doing absolutely nothing to improve my energy level or the skin tightedness (I know that’s not a word) of my clothing. It’s a vicious circle. I’m tired, so I make bad eating choices, which makes me more tired, which sometimes causes me to skip a workout.  If I don’t skip a workout, it’s usually not a very good one.  And I’m even more tired, so I eat poorly again. Plus, don’t they say that abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym? If that’s true, then throw an apron on me because I need to get in the kitchen.

So it’s all on the table now.  I started my day with my cereal cocktail before my morning workout.  I mean, I burned all those carbs off right? I had a fresh pressed juice from Raleigh Raw after my workout, and I felt so incredible all day that I ran 10 miles after work.  Psych.  I know it’s going to take a while, and I don’t know if I am capable of giving up all my vices cold turkey, but I’m committing myself to it this time around because I can’t afford new pants.  And I can’t afford to continue setting a bad example for my family.

 

It’s getting real up in here

July 2013

July 2013

Whenever I go to the gym, run a race, or see people trying out new diets (ahem, “lifestyle changes”), I wonder what the impetus is.  Do these people Crossfit to lose weight? To get stronger (duh)? To work on their butts? Do my friends eat Paleo so that they can get leaner? Or maybe they are thinking about the long term health benefits of changing the way they eat.  I don’t really care what the answer is because it’s none of my business.  I just know that for me, exercise and nutrition have played so many different roles in my life and I am once again seeing their evolution now that I am a mother of three, just scrambling to keep my head above water many days.

The background on this somewhat totally rambling, TMI post is this: during pretty much every minute of my 20’s, I had an eating disorder.  I vascillated between bulimic and anorexic although I never looked thin like the celebrities and models whom everyone labels as anorexic.  I know exactly when/why it started in college, but that’s not something to get into here.  The only salient point is that I became bulimic for a number of reasons, one being that I loved food more than I loved myself. I loved the way donuts and ice cream and cookies made me feel. But then I hated gaining weight. So being the brilliant college student I was, I figured purging was a way to get the best of both worlds: eat a lot and not gain weight.  Oh wait. As any bulimic will tell you, you definitely do not lose weight with binging and purging.  In fact, you may (I did) gain weight. And you feel GROSS.  You also feel like you are deceiving so many people around you, including your loved ones.

Right before my senior year of college, I decided the bulimia thing wasn’t working for me.  I needed to find a different way to get control because bulimia made me feel out of control.  So I switched gears. I started counting calories and stopped drinking (Uh, I mean, I was only 20 so actually I made the decision not to start drinking when I turned 21 in the fall).  I lost a LOT of weight because I was swimming 4 hours a day, doing one hour on the ellipitical between practices, and subsisting off of chocolate chip scones, frozen yogurt, and salad.  I allowed myself 1300 calories per day but I was burning close to 4000. The weight melted off and I tipped the scales at 116 before the season started. I think my weight at weigh-in was 136 the year before. But I got a lot of positive reinforcement because I swam faster.  And my back fat was gone, so of course I was thrilled about that.

After graduation, I didn’t have all the hard core swimming to keep my weight in check.  So back to bulimia I went. My bulimia peaked while in law school.  The stress of studying and being away from my friends and family, the feeling of not being even close to the best but actually being below average when everything depended on your class rank… I just could not handle it. Things got so bad during law school that I considered taking a semester off to go to some really expensive recovery facility to deal with my eating issues. The cost was just too huge of a deterrent. I knew I was going to develop some serious health complications from my bulimia if I didn’t stop.  I decided I wanted to start running again to see if that would give me some of the self esteem I had lost after college.  I also thought it would help me lose all the weight I put on from my binges.

Picking up long distance running in 2005 was the first turning point in my eating disorder. I had something to focus on besides “where am I going to get my next meal… which will end up in the toilet?” I began to feel better about myself. I ran a half marathon after 6 months of training and was pleased that I ran under an 8:00 mile pace for my first half marathon.  A few months later I ran a half marathon around a 7:20/mile pace. My grades improved significantly.  The problem that lingered is that I continued to be bulimic, but it was more like “bulimic light.” As long as my training went well and I had a good run, or a good race, I didn’t rush out to buy ice cream and other junk.  But if I had a bad day or missed a run for some reason, I backslid into my old eating habits.

This pattern pretty much continued even after I became a real grownup, with obligations like law school debt, a car payment, and a mortgage. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with Super Girl that I had a wake up call.  I could not, I would not, do anything to harm this baby just because I was too ignorant or scared to deal with the underlying issues that contributed to my eating disorder.  I needed to make smart choices for myself and this child.  I continued eating biscuits and ice cream, but instead of just using it to stuff down my feelings and anxiety, I ate it to enjoy the way it tasted.  I ran during my pregnancy because it made me feel strong and empowered.  Yeah it burned calories too but I don’t think it’s a crime to run an extra mile because you had an extra scoop of Ben and Jerry’s.  Nobody is perfect.

I never really lost that focus on my weight and body image though.  I was determined not to gain more than 30 pounds and I “accomplished” that goal with Super Girl and Super Toddler.  The number on the scale was so important to me as it had been for years.  So even though I wasn’t bulimic anymore, I still cared so much about a silly number.  After I had them, I was frustrated my body didn’t just snap back to a version of me that never existed anyway.  Some Gisele Bundchen-esque figure with a 36 inch inseam and tiny waist.  I didn’t lose any sleep over it but I tried diets here and there hoping that I could get to my “ideal weight” of 130 pounds.  Never happened.

During this pregnancy, I really lost site of nutrition even though I was lifting and running a lot during the first two trimesters of the pregnancy.  I had so much anxiety because I didn’t know how we could handle three kids.  Also, I was worried I would have post partum depression again, as I did (really really badly) with Super Toddler.  So I ate my feelings, my old crutch.  I would joke with people about my Bojangles Baby, and I still do from time to time- okay, yesterday.  I rationalized that if I was working out that hard, I could eat whatever I wanted. I had been making that argument for YEARS.  I think it goes back to my swimming days in my teenage years when we quite literally could eat just about anything and never gain an ounce because we were burning so many calories each day.  But eating whatever I wanted wasn’t healthy for me or the baby.  And again, it was just a way I dealt with stress, as it always had been.

I watched the scale creep higher and higher each week.  When I delivered Super Girl, I had gained 38 pounds.  Wowzers.  I officially weighed more than Super Dad the last three weeks of my pregnancy.  And I delivered 3 weeks early.  So yeah, that’s kind of scary.  After having her, I have been focused on slowly getting back into my workouts because I was on bed rest for the last 6 weeks of the pregnancy.  But on the other hand, I would get so frustrated that the number on the scale has not just dropped by double digits every week.

I finally had an epiphany last week after Super Girl got on the scale three days in a row and asked me what her weight was.  She had been seeing me do it.  It broke my heart.  She wants to gain weight because she will be a “big girl,” but I don’t want the number to be something she obsesses over when she is old enough to care.  I don’t want her staring in the mirror examining her stomach or “Cabbage Patch Abs” as I call mine half-jokingly. I don’t want her to think that exercise is a means to an end of keeping her weight down or getting boys to like her.  I want her to feel empowered by sweating, the way I do every time I go on a run or finish a Crossfit workout.  When I was doing a WOD on Saturday, I felt strong even though it was only my second time back since Super Baby was born and I was lifting a lot less weight.  I felt hope for how much stronger I could get with each passing week.  I felt like my daughters would be proud of me not because of the number on the scale, or how my thighs don’t touch, or how much definition I hope to one day have on my stomach, but because I work out to be a better mom to them and a better wife and just a badass who loves herself.

I am not 100% comfortable with my body and I don’t know that I ever will be, but I’m getting there.  Being a mother has helped me realize that I can largely overcome the insecurities and issues that led to my eating disorder, because I would never ever wish that kind of torment on my children.  I just want them to see that eating and exercise do not have to be rewards or punishment, and that they can be strong and happy no matter what the number on the scale is. And that’s as real as it gets folks.

Cora’s Birth Story (AKA free birth control)

I know I know, it’s been a while. But I have a really good excuse.  I had a baby.

So just a disclaimer: there is a LOT of TMI in here.  This isn’t really an exercise post, unless you consider giving birth exercise.  Which you will after reading this.  But you may also vomit.  Sorry about that.  

As a little background… My last post was when I was 24 weeks pregnant.  I was hoping to continue Crossfit and running for another 10 weeks but unfortunately, I developed hypertension and then preeclampsia around 30 weeks.  My last WOD was at 30 weeks and 2 days.  I crushed it, but it was not pretty.  My lunge jumps were what my coach called a “white man’s ‘Running Man'” and on my front squat set of 60kg, he also gently suggested I could switch to back squats at any time.  Translation: “your form really sucks.”  A couple days later I went to the OB and my blood pressure was 150/95.  Normal is 120/80 and I had been hovering around 110/65 for most of my pregnancy.  I was sent to the hospital for monitoring and was put on modified bed rest later in the week, which meant I couldn’t really exercise other than light walking, and I could work from home. 

The remainder of the pregnancy involved two visits to the OB each week for monitoring, and a couple more trips to the hospital.  I started “spilling protein” and having headaches around 32 weeks, which are additional symptoms of preeclampsia.  The goal was to keep Cora cooking until 35-36 weeks.  I received steroid shots to speed up her lung development (not to improve my deadlift PR).  I went through the same ordeal with Super Toddler but had to be hospitalized for a couple nights while he was in utero.  That was no bueno. 

At almost 37 weeks, my blood pressure spiked yet again and the headaches were worse.  This despite my being a sloth for almost 6 weeks and (sort of) watching my diet.  We won’t discuss my weight gain during this pregnancy.  It happened, it’s over, let’s move on.  My OB decided it was time for Cora to come out.  She was measuring over 38 weeks for height and head size – no big shocker there. I had put my hospital bag in the minivan that morning because I kind of knew that it was time. I had been contracting like crazy and was 1.5 cm a few days earlier.  I was having regular contractions at the doctor that day and was at 3cm so she also thought I may have been in the early stages of labor.

A note about that.  When I started dilating a couple weeks earlier, one of the OB’s told me that because this was my third child, I may not know when I’m in labor and that it would go really fast.  Like, have a baby on the toilet fast.  The prospect of having a baby without an epidural was terrifying.  Listen, props to all you natural ladies but that is not me.  Never. Ever. Ever.  So even though I have always wanted to have that “oops, my water broke!” moment and not have to bring a child into the world riding a wave of Pitocin, I was willing to trade going into labor on my own for not having a baby on the toilet.

I headed to the hospital with the knowledge that I would have to be on magnesium sulfate (“mag”) due to the preeclampsia diagnosis.  With Super Toddler, I was also induced right at 37 weeks due to preeclampsia but for some wonderful reason I was not giving mag.  I have read horror stories about it. Just google it. Mag is used to stop pre-term labor.  It is also used to prevent seizures, which is the risk with preeclampsia and high blood pressure.  Now re-read that sentence about stopping labor.  I was being induced, but I was also being given a drug that slows down labor.  Those don’t really go together do they?  I would soon learn exactly how much mag and pitocin don’t get along.

I was started on pitocin around 8pm and was feeling fine because the dose starts out really low.  Since I figured the baby would come really fast, I let our family know that we would be having a baby on tax day.  My mom, a CPA, was ready to work through the night to meet some tax filing deadlines, then rush over but I told her to wait because with Super Toddler, it took almost 48 HOURS.  That is 2 days people.  I knew that Cora was not going to fly out but I figured it would be faster than 2 days.  At 8:30pm the bolus of mag was started.  Within about 30 seconds, I thought that I was dying.  Really, really dying.  My teeth were sweating.  I was ready to vomit. I felt like I had been overserved at a frat party that was taking place on the surface of the sun, while wearing a suit made of fur.  I had this moment of “Oh my gosh it is going to be like this the entire time until the baby comes out? Because I cannot do this. I would rather give birth to octuplet elephants with no epidural after doing an Ironman.” My blood pressure plummeted to 70/30.  From about 140/90.  I am pretty sure that you are clinically dead when your BP is 70/30.  The nurse immediately stopped the bolus and called the doctor.  She said it was okay to just start a slow drip of the mag.  I felt better within minutes.  

At around midnight I was having more contractions and was at 4cm. I asked for my epidural because again, this baby was going to come “really fast” and I didn’t want to miss out on my window to have an epidural.  After I got my epidural I slept for eight zero hours.  I was too excited about meeting my daughter.  And I was sure that the next time the doctor checked I would be at 9cm.  Well, the sun rose and at 6:30 am the doctor checked me.  Still at 4cm. No change.  WHAT? That cannot be true.  Did you get a hand transplant overnight?  Do you now have a gigantic gorilla hand which makes you thing that a couple fingers is only 4 cm when it is in fact 10? I was so pissed.  They upped the pitocin some more and finally broke my water at 8 am.  

A few hours later I noticed my contractions hurt a lot more and I could do leg raises with my right leg.  Hmmm, that doesn’t seem normal.  The nurse suggested I get my epidural redone, because I wasn’t having very strong contractions (really? Because these hurt) and once I had contractions that caused me to progress more, I would be miserable.  Translation: I can see you are a huge wuss.  You are complaining about contractions that have caused absolutely no cervical change in 12 hours. So you will pretty much pass out once you have a legit contraction. Okay, let’s do this.  The new anesthesiologist discovered the prior epidural had sort of come out.  So it was a good idea I chose to have it redone.  Except that this anesthesiologist apparently was coming off a 72 hour shift because it took FIVE TRIES to get the epidural replaced.  FIVE. I threw up three times during this 30 minute ordeal.  I was ready for her to just pull the baby out of my throat.  It was miserable.

Once that mess was finished, I was sufficiently numb.  But then Cora decided to do some river dancing, and I started having back labor.  The spasms in my love handles were unreal.  Way worse than my tiny contractions. They were unrelenting.  I wanted more drugs.  Anything to make the pain stop. The nurse said there was nothing she could do. I finally found a position where I laid on my side, grabbed the love handle closest to the bed with one hand, and shoved a rolled up towel against the small of my back. I asked Super Dad and my mom to leave so I could catch a snooze since I hadn’t slept in 36 hours.  Plus, I had not dilated at all in 13 hours so I knew we had a while to go. Yeah, one cm an hour after your water breaks or whatever- lies!!!

After sleeping for four hours 45 minutes, I woke up feeling a lot of pressure “down there.”  But the love handle pain was gone.  Woohoo! I told the nurse and she said I had been contracting quite a bit during my slumber.  Like, actual contractions that are strong enough clinically to cause change.  Apparently they have to be over 60 somethings on the monitor to cause cervical change.  They had been 50-55 from 9pm the prior evening until my second epidural, which is a terrible tease, but after the second epidural/”jab Jen with giant needles fest” and upping the pitocin to levels reserved for Godzillas’s wife, the contractions were measuring around 90-100.  The nurse called in the doctor and lo and behold, I was at 10 cm and full effaced.  Cora was ready to rock. What? 6 cm in 45 minutes?  I had to actually call my family back from the cafeteria.  Sorry I interrupted your pie eating Super Dad.

I immediately put my contacts in and put some makeup on.  I was fat but I still wanted my face to look good.  Doctor R. came in and said I could start pushing whenever.  She was putting her gloves on and looking around for some stuff, and they were waiting for the peds team to come in, but I could start pushing?  What if the baby shot out onto the floor?  No worries, it took three contractions (
about 10 pushes) to get her out. Overall it was less than 10 minutes, compared to an hour of pushing with Super Girl and Super Toddler.  The thing is, it was the hardest 10 minutes of exercise ever and (the lump of skin and tissue which used to be) my biceps were super sore the next day. I was so out of shape from taking almost 7 weeks off from working out.  I ran five miles the day before I had Super Girl. I only had to bed rest for three weeks with Super Toddler. So 10 minutes of laborious (pun intended) physical activity was exhausting. But well worth it.

Cora, henceforth referred to as Super Baby, was born at 2:01 pm on 4/15 and she was perfect.  She had a full head of hair and started crying just like she was supposed to.  I was able to have skin to skin with her immediately and she latched on right away.  She measured 6 lbs 3 oz and 20.5 inches, just 2 ounces less than her big sister, who was born at 39 weeks gestation! So yeah, she was small for a due date baby but quite large for being early.  She had jaundice just like her siblings but we got through it a lot more easily by supplementing and getting her on phototherapy right away.  By 2 weeks she was up to 6 pounds 10 ounces, thanks to being a champion nurser, which I am not used to after having two kids who basically would only take pumped milk from 2 months on. 

Overall, my birth experience with Super Baby was not at all what I had planned when I started having children.  I joked that I was meant to raise cute, super funny kids that sleep and eat well (knock on wood)- but I was not meant to carry them or give birth. I wouldn’t trade these babies for anything, and going through mag and being poked like a voodoo doll by the anesthesiologist was worth it to bring her into this world… but I am most definitely NOT doing that ever again. The shop is closed.  And my experience on Super Baby’s 2 week birthday only further solidified that.  More on that later…

 

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Halfway!

Wow, so I felt like I was just writing about finding out that I was pregnant with Superbaby.  Now, we are halfway to my due date.  And yesterday, we found out Superbaby is a girl! I was secretly hoping it was a girl because I can’t wait to take newborn pictures with her in a cute pink crocheted hat with a giant pink flower on it.  I totally missed that opportunity with Supergirl, so I need to make up for lost Kodak moments.  

Anyway, I figured I should update on my progress with my new Crossfit venture.  I am finding that I am getting stronger and much more comfortable with the exercises every day. I have been Crossfitting four times a week on average. I throw in an endurance workout on one of those days, where we do about 2 miles of running and hill sprints or other anaerobic exercise too.  That said, I can see a moment coming in the very near future where I will have to modify a lot more than just pull-ups. I remember a moment when I was pregnant with the other two where I stepped up to a box for a box jump, looked at it, and just said to myself “this is not happening.”  It wasn’t like I had to try and fail.  I simply knew there was no way I would clear the box.  That day is imminent. 

I also know that a day is nearing where I will not fit in any of my pants, INCLUDING my maternity pants.  I am trying to convince myself I am getting a Crossfitter’s butt, from doing tons of squats. The problem is, I am pretty sure I see cellulite and stretch marks on the backs of my legs, so it’s actually more likely that my diet, which I call “Survivor finalist who has returned home and is living out Groundhog Day, feasting on junk food 24/7 every single day,” is making me fat.  I know I whine about this to Superdad all the time, but then I do nothing about it.  Buying funfetti flavored protein powder and mixing it into pancakes isn’t helping. It’s just making my muscles AND fat bigger.  So, I have that working against me.  I may be getting stronger, but I am growing exponentially and I probably need to stop the insanity.  Does anyone want to send me some healthy and delicious meals that my man chef Superdad can make for me? 

Another random musing that is sort of funny: the other week some older lady at Crossfit, who I had only seen once before, asked me “so, what kind of restrictions did your doctor put on you during your pregnancy?” I thought it was a very passive aggressive way of saying “back when I was of child bearing age, you basically were on bed rest for 9 months, and I think you’re being irresponsible.” What did she expect me to say? “Oh gee, yeah my doctor said I should just do some light walking and curl 3 pound dumbbells, but I decided to completely ignore him.” 

Okay, to wrap up, I thought I would post some of my favorite and least favorite workouts.  You will see a pattern here.  My favorite workouts inevitably involve kettlebell swings or burpees.  I know right? Most people hate burpees.  Maybe I like them because I am short so I can get down to the ground faster.  Also, my favorite workouts are the ones where I can actually do the prescribed workout.

7 Rounds for time…
10 Super Deload Burpees
15 Plate Thrusters (15kg/10kg)
20 KB Swings (24/16kg)            

40 Hurdle Facing Burpees — as in, do a burpee, then jump over a hurdle.  These actually really sucked.
40 MB V-Ups (5/4kg)
40 Goblet Squats (24/16kg)
40 MB Catch & Release (5/4kg)   — 12 minute timecap

* Total time was 6:50.  

3 Rounds For time…
40m Farmer’s Walk (R) (24/16kg)
10 KB Swing (24/16kg)
10 Goblet Squat (24/16kg)
40m Farmer’s Walk (L) (24/16kg)

15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps of
Deload Pushups
V-Ups
KB Swings  — 15 minute timecap

*This was today’s workout.  I finished it in 12:26.  Deload (hand release) pushups are not so awesome when your big belly starts hitting the ground, so I will probably have to modify to knee pushups in a few weeks.  

Least favorite:

Every Minute on the Minute for 12′
5 Pullups
7 V-Ups
9 Burpees

*Pretty much the worst thing ever.  So every minute, you have to do all those exercises.  I of course had to use a band for my pullups.  So I had to get in and out of that band, jump off the box, then do the v-ups and burpees, then get back on the box and in the band before the next minute came up.  I got about 5 seconds of rest each round, but made it through all 12 minutes.

15 minute AMRAP of

40 jump rope contacts (DU or single)

30 plate thrusters (15 kg)

20 medball v-ups (4kg)

10 burpee pullups

*Ok no, this was the worst thing.  Mainly because a) I can’t jump rope to save my life and b) I cannot do a pullup.  Even though they were jump pullups, where you do one burpee, then jump up to do a pullup, then do that again 9 times. And do as many rounds of all that crap as possible.  It was frustrating because I wasn’t really aerobically taxed, as I kept having to stop during my jump roping.  I really really need someone to teach me how to jump rope.  I am SO BAD.  Also, my burpee pullups consisted of a perfectly executed burpee, then me jumping up to the bar and miserably trying to raise my body 2 inches toward the bar.  I wanted to cry when I read the workout online the night before, and I wanted to laugh and cry during the workout. But I guess it would have been worse if I had just skipped it because I was afraid of failing?

Well, that’s it for now.  It’s taking a bit more out of me to recover from workouts, although I am not getting quite as sore anymore.  I have become frenemies with my foam roller again.  We hadn’t seen each other after I stopped marathon training, but the foam roller has become just as important to me as stretching and staying hydrated.  It’s also super awesome looking now that Supergirl has decided to cover it in princess stickers!Image