Workout Wednesday: Getting back in the game.

It’s not “This is what your brain is like on drugs”… It’s more like: This is what MY brain is like in anticipation of the first workout after WEEKS of not being able.

First, the brain does a line of sheer ecstaticicity (yes, I’m going to go ahead and make up a few words today). The response is all the bright lights start flashing and sending, like a strobe picture show, images of barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, bands and more.

Next, the workout has been picked. Over-excitement sets in, because, let’s face it, you cannot wait. You wake up exhausted, every day, for an entire week because you’re doing this workout in your sleep. That’s how much you cannot wait.

Then, you realize, you possibly have been overzealous is picking said workout. It has been six weeks since you’ve done anything other than walk or lightly jog. By the time the doctor’s appointment arrives, you’ll be at 45-days postpartum. AND you DID just have your guts cut open practically… Hmm… Maybe we should rethink that workout.

So, you scrap that workout.

And pick a new one. Made by someone else. But that’s okay. You’ve done this one before and know it’s probably the best “first” workout for you to do.

Then that day comes. It’s like Christmas time. You’re actually awake before the baby is awake and ready to feed. That’s something that doesn’t happen yet. Instead of running to the window to see if there’s snow like you do as a child on Christmas morning, you come downstairs and grin excitedly at that basket of your select favorite weights. You might even wink at it and tell it “Soon my darlings, very soon.”

When the moment comes to workout… You completely blank on what the hell a snatch is. That’s right. You stand there, looking at your kettlebells thinking “How the fuck do I do these again?”

Muscle memory is awesome. It really is. However, memory only works when your brain is on board. And yesterday, my brain decided, as I was working through “The Great Destroyer” from Jen Sinkler’s first Lift Weights Faster, to take a temporary hiatus when it came to the snatches. Each time through.

Naturally, that effected how many times through I was able to do the circuit in the given time frame – not like I was expecting anything fantastical in that department. I figured if I could do three, I’d be doing good.

I managed to do just that. Swing, snatch, squat, clean, press, push up and row my way through three rounds in 15-minutes on the dot.

Back to muscle memory though… Untitled copy

Today, while my baby was napping happily in his swing, I got the chance to hit another workout. This time, it wasn’t a preset workout. It was more, futz around and get done what I get done. Testing my strength in certain areas so I can assess and draw up a solid workout plan that keeps me on track for NOT hurting myself (I find myself reminding myself that I did have a pretty big surgery and even though I look healed and feel top notch, it doesn’t take much).

Wrapping up my workout, I tested my balance and lower body strength. I suffered the most strength loss in my upper body, which was expected given that’s my “trouble spot” when it comes to strength. Lower body was still rocking it right up until I went into labor. And apparently, I’ve still got it.

I successfully did three pistol squats on each side. Yes, I was a little wobbly on one side as compared to the other. And, form on the last one for each side was hovering just at the “acceptable” line. But I did it. I didn’t have to cue my body to do anything really. My core knew when to tighten and hold, my legs knew exactly where to stay in line with, my upper body moved naturally with the movement.

Muscle memory. It’s a beautiful thing.

Foodie Friday: Jamie Eason’s Turkey Meatloaf Muffins.

Two things have changed in my life so far since becoming a mom. The first, it’s always going to take at least an hour for me to get out of the house now. The second? Getting my nutritional needs on target each day is a lot harder now.

Eating when I’m hungry isn’t always a possibility. And, if it’s not something that can be made, or held in one hand to be eaten… It’s a no go, because it’s not exactly easy.

Protein is such an important part of a daily diet, especially when you’re a nursing momma.

My younger sister had made a lot of Jamie Eason’s recipes from her Live Fit trainer when she did the program, and suggested the Turkey Meatloaf Muffins. Looking the recipe up on BodyBuilding.com, 20g of protein in each muffin? Um, yes please!

I gathered all of the supplies today, and with baby strapped to me in the Moby carrier (he was, of course, feeling needy for momma when I needed both of my hands), made my first batch. Since I only have one 8-muffin tin, I had to technically make two batches.

Which was convenient. Being super hungry, with said needy baby in hand, the second one from the first batch cooled, I taste tested… And holy cow these are good! wpid-img_20150327_204848.jpg

Ingredients:

Directions: Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Spray muffin pan with olive oil, then mix all of your ingredients together in one large bowl. Roll mixture into balls and put them in the muffin pan (muffins should be the size-ish of a racquetball). Bake for 40-minutes. The recipe makes 12, but I got a baker’s dozen of good sized muffins.

#takebackfitspo

Life never really goes as expected. Yet, we never fail to hope, and in some way, expect that it will.

The entire time I was trying to get pregnant, and even when that miracle finally came, I had expected to gain a crap ton of weight. On both sides of my family, history shows a pretty significant weight gain during pregnancy. And shallow me (which does come out once in a blue moon), held out the hope that I’d have a lot of weight to work with post pregnancy to build my dream body. That body that I could only get if I could gain weight and keep it on (dangnabbit ectomorph doom). What I never took into consideration was this: My lifestyle was completely different. My activity level, my eating habits, everything. When the scale tipped out at a 32-pound total weight gain just two days before I went into labor, I was actually heartbroken.

That same lifestyle has also quickly taken all of that weight off. No, I’m not quite active yet, as I had a c-section and am on the bench for the first 6-weeks, but I’m still eating the same as I was pre-pregnancy and while I was pregnant. Just two weeks after birth, I had lost 27 of those 32-pounds.

It was also the first time in my life that I ever had a moment of severe body-image crisis.

In the changing room at TJ Maxx, I found my glimmer of hope. As an ectomorph, I’ve never had any natural shape. I’ve had to use exercise to create any illusion of curves on my small frame. Up until the last two months of pregnancy, I was still wearing my regular, every day pants and slacks. When my belly started to drop, I hopped on the legging bandwagon, as much as I hated to (I’m just a jeans kind of girl). After I came home from the hospital, the day I was to go to my two week check-up, I pulled on a pair of those jeans, got them all the way up, and had just given into the fact that I just was going to lose out on all fronts when… I couldn’t get them buttoned. I couldn’t even get the button remotely close to the hole.

Does this mean I have hips now? Does this mean I no longer have to dig through the pant racks of the juniors department in search of a non-bedazzled butt?

Was the sun trying to part the cloud of doom that had started to crush me mentally?

It was. I could get them up, but I couldn’t button them. And after examination, it was because of hip bones, and not belly. I. Had. Hips.

I tried on, and fit into, at the age of 31, my very first pair of big girl pants (and they made my butt look amazing at that). My mood instantly improved.

Happily exiting the dressing room after I strapped the baby carrier back on, I filled my husband in on the excitement and swapping the jeans I had in my hand for my adorable, pudgy-cheeked baby, we set off back to the woman’s department so I could get more.

Half-way through my digging, I noticed my husband looking a rack over, with an annoyed look on his face. Looking over, I saw a fellow newby mom, her little one tucked inside a carrier as well. I smiled and nodded at her, and told her congratulations, only to receive a scowl in response.

Under my breath, I took back my smile and uncongratulated her. My husband said that she had been watching me like that since I had come in the store, and said she had looked me up and down and even rolled her eyes in my direction at one point.

Why? Why must we as women do this to one another? Over all of this time, society has ingrained it into our minds that we need to compete with one another. That we can’t just accept everyone for the reality of it all: We’re all different. We come in not just different colors, but all kinds of different shapes and sizes.

Some people tell me I’m lucky. While I think of myself as otherwise. But, to some, I appear to be just that – lucky.

My genetics are different. My lifestyle is different. One can’t be changed (and I took a long time coming around to accepting that), and the other can.

The one that can, always is subject to assumptions from outsiders. I workout and eat the way I do to lose weight. I workout to stay small. I workout to make others look bad (if I only had a dollar for every time I heard that one).

None of it is true.

I workout because it makes me feel good. It makes my aches and pains from spondylosis feel good. It keeps me going, keeps the spondy from progressing. It keeps my mental health on the level. I’ve always known a good run, or a good, solid workout session has kept me on even keel, but I never realized just how much it did until I hit the middle of my pregnancy.

I eat the way I do because it makes my body feel good. It keeps my cortisol levels in check (which with PCOS, cortisol will always be an issue), which in turn makes me feel good. It gives me energy to get through the day without a slow down. I get sick a hell of a lot less. It fuels me to perform athletically.

I don’t have to justify myself, no one does. Yet, we find ourselves so often doing just that.

It’s always funny to hear of peoples shock when I talk about my own body. Yes, I’m okay with the skin I’m in, but that’s it: I’m just okay with it. I am in awe of all the things this body can do (make a baby, push/lift the weight it can in the gym, etc…), but looking at it is completely different.

“You’re so confident though!”

I hear it all the time. Confidence does not even come close to equaling having good/positive self-esteem.

The absolute greatest thing I have seen out there today is Mama Lion Strong’s #takebackfitspo movement. wpid-img_20150321_163903.jpgHer words were “I decided I was tired of worshipping fitness model’s bodies online. So I started worshipping my own body. That felt WAY better.”

The reason behind #takebackfitspo is to empower women of all shapes and sizes. All fitness levels. To even put the fun back into fitness. Make it feel less like a job, because that’s what fitspo has done to us. Given us an ideal that we are supposed to idolize and want to strive for, despite the fact that in most cases, it’s extreme, unrealistic – and even at times: dangerous.

While I was pregnant, I did my best to squash the “ideals” of what fitspo images are (what this definition outlines), I wanted to promote that fitspo should be ANYONE, all shapes and sizes, etc… Working to just be healthy, and happy, and not trying to be like the fit pros, etc, out there. Not trying to shame anyone. Make them feel poorly. I don’t know if it worked, I don’t know if I helped break that cycle for anyone, I can just hope I did.

I don’t think this should just apply to the fitness world though. Take it, and spread it throughout.

Join the movement and #takebackfitspo.

Makers and Shakers: Moving It Monday

It’s interesting how sometimes you think you have that path of your life and goals all mapped out, but then at the snap of a finger, it changes.

While for the most part, my goals for post baby, have remained the same, they still have changed. Why? Have I decided that I’m going to give up my life of fitness? Stop training?

Not in the least.

Before baby, I had finally decided to hit the small stage. I was digging in deep, doing everything I needed to in order to successfully follow that path.

Then baby happened. Despite being off-railed, I decided that after the baby came, I’d get back on track to the stage. I also decided that I’d still follow the powerlifting path, in hopes of some day competing there.

I’m an athlete at heart. Always will be. I love to train, to work, to improve. I’m competitive, but not dangerously so. If I lose, I do so with grace. The loss pointing out the areas I need to improve upon. I’m not perfect, and there will always be room for improvement, so there will always be work that needs to be done. And I will do the work, and I will come back better than last time.

I have decided that no, I’m not going to hit the stage. In that world, I will remain behind the scenes as a trainer where I thrive and love to be. The whole idea for getting on stage stemmed from having everyone around me saying I should do it and me being “Sure, why not? Can’t hurt. I have the knowledge and the drive…” (Which is most definitely NOT the approach to take to anything, because then, your heart really isn’t in it. Just your head is, and for all the wrong reasons.)

In a few weeks, when I hopefully get the green light from my doctor, my ultimate goal is to build a better body than the one I had pre-pregnancy. Build the body that the athlete in me can be proud of.

Why?

I’m a runner. A sprinter. A kicker. A hitter. A heavy lifter. A climber.

I am not a poser. Nor am I a flexer (although I do occasionally partake in #flexfriday).

I am not going to represent something I am not for my son. It isn’t the role model I want to be for him. I don’t want him to see me travel down a road, towards a goal that really isn’t mine. Doing something just to do it, it takes time and energy away from the “something” you truly have passion for, what you want to do. Sets you back. Derails you.

Your heart really isn’t in it. Just your head is, and for all the wrong reasons.

It all sort of falls under the “Stay true to yourself” adage. That’s the mindset I want to show my child. Stay true to yourself, follow your dreams, and never let anyone or anything lead you astray.

So now I sit, re-writing my postnatal workout plans. Mapping out a training schedule for speed work, runs and getting me back on the pitch for soccer. Setting a timeline for reaching my first powerlifting competition. And doing a little yoga to stay balanced in the midst of it all.

I am determined to be the best I can be for my child, and show him how to blaze his own path and do so colorfully.

Workout Wednesday: Yoga and Kettlebells.

My fit pregnancy came to an end on Valentine’s Day, and I’m making the transition now to fit momma. Not yet though, I’m enjoying lots of baby snuggles and some time off from my day job right now. But I’ll get there…

If you’ve been following my journey, and reading my posts, you know that I got a lot of negativity about keeping my healthy and fit lifestyle on track during my pregnancy. Fortunately, I found and connected with an amazing group of women (some of them pregnant themselves) on Instagram, that most likely, unknowingly to them, gave me amazing support on my journey. Some of the women I connected with through ambassadorships with Sweat Pink and Strong Figure. Others I found because of their mutual love of picking up heavy things and putting them down.

Because of them, sticking with it was easier.

In the weeks before having my little hairy bundle of joy, I started cutting back on strength training and focused a lot more on yoga. I’m a horrible yogi, even after 13 years of it almost, but I do my best.

The Take The Leap Challenge I took part in was great. I became more focused on my yoga, and because I did, even with that giant belly of mine, I started becoming a better yogi. And I was getting myself stretched out and loose, just when I needed it the most. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started feeling super tight, and that belly made moving in certain directions very awkward.wpid-photogrid_1424717872724.jpg

The challenge, in which I had to take pictures of poses each day, also opened my eyes to my own image. Seeing the photos of me in the various poses I would post, shed a completely different light on how I was viewing my body during pregnancy. I never had a negative self image during the nearly 38-weeks I was pregnant, but I never truly realized how beautiful pregnancy was, on me. Maybe it was the lighting in my dining room, or maybe it was the camera on my phone…

The days approaching “The Big Day”, I also took on another challenge. This one started because one day, during a work-from-home day, I was frustrated with technology, which was failing me in a bad way that day. Instead of taking a baseball bat to everything, I grabbed some kettlebells and did some swings, and some goblet squats. By the end of the day, I had done 300 of each.

A few weeks before, I had read something a friend posted on Facebook about the 1000 kettlebell swing challenge. The idea bloomed that day out of determination. I wanted to do 1000 of each, the swing and the squat, in five days. 1500 if I was feeling super ambitious, felt well enough, and was able. I let my friend know what I was doing, she jumped on it, and it became something we were doing together and wrangling our friends and clients to do as well.

By Thursday of that week, I’d had my tally at 1100. And I stopped there. That evening is when the ball was set into motion, Baby Rebel was getting ready to come. Thus, that’s why I call the challenge my Water Breaker.

My belly is shrinking, my incision is better to the point where it’s like it’s not even there anymore… I feel great. But at the same time, I know that now is my time to leave the weights on the floor, let that yoga mat stay rolled up in the corner and just enjoy my time with my family right now.

A Baby Story

What a few weeks this month of February has been. It was, to start, just another month, the countdown to baby was on… Then chaos set in.

On the 12th, because of baby size and health factors of mine, a c-section was officially decided on. The date was set for the following Tuesday. Just a few short days away. Notice, yes, but short notice. After my appointment, I let my bosses know that the following day would be my last before starting maternity leave.

By the end of the day Thursday, things started happening. My husband and I began to make jokes about the baby coming before he could be unwillingly evicted.

Friday morning brought on a false alarm. I had thought that my water had broken, but a check by one of my doctors gave me the comfort that no, that had not happened, and I was not dilated yet. Back to work I went. But something wasn’t feeling quite right. My lower back was suddenly throbbing in a way it never did, even during a flare. Added to that, my lower abdomen was cramping up. After finishing work, I came home and set to the weekend-before-baby-comes deep clean. The kitchen and living room were done by the evening hours, so the head start I’d wanted was off to a good start.

By Saturday morning, I started trying to wrap my head around the fact it was highly possible that baby was coming sooner, rather than later. My back was in horrid pain, and the cramps were elevated. To top it off, a blizzard was moving in. My child was determined to come his own way, and not anyone else’s – and in a snowstorm.

Around 1:30 that afternoon, I had the dawning realization after running errands and hitting the lab to have my type and blood count screen for my surgery done, these cramps were contractions. And they were 20-minutes apart.

I called my mother to let her know it was a big possibility that she’d be a grandmother again before that day was over. I shot off a text to my older sister telling her that this baby was determined enough, it was looking like he just might be a Valentine’s Day baby.

The doctor said at 5 p.m. that night, once the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and lasted 90 seconds, to head into the hospital. Despite knowing my chart said c-section even if baby did decide to come earlier, and that by 6 that night, my contractions were literally one on top of the other, I rode it out a little longer. Let my husband shower and shave. Had him do the vacuuming upstairs I hadn’t been able to tackle yet that day. Maybe baby was getting his crazy stubborn streak from mommy too…

I set to work going through our refrigerator, grabbing all of the recently purchased produce and putting everything in food saver bags so that nothing would spoil. I didn’t know how long we would be gone for and we had just done grocery shopping the evening before. By 7:30, my dog was dropped off at my older sister’s house and we were at the hospital. My water had broken on the way over, so regardless of the c-section, I was still to be put on antibiotics because I had tested for Group B Strep. And just before 9 p.m. that night, I knew I was going to be getting, along with my husband, the best Valentine’s Day gift ever.

Being numb from just above the belly, down, is a feeling I do not care to ever experience again. That warming feeling shot down my left side first, then my right. I could no longer feel the contractions – or my baby moving around inside (which did, honestly make me panic a little at first). The last feeling I had amongst the tingle as everything went numb, was the awkward position they put my legs in for the surgery. So naturally, that’s how, even when they were straightened after everything was over, they felt they still were.

Now, the only surgery I have ever had was tubes in my ears as a baby. This would be my first surgery and it was a major one at that. Despite being one heck of a strong woman, I do pass out and I do occasionally puke. I warned the anesthesiologist of this, so that he and the surrounding nurses would be prepared. It wasn’t really the feeling faint that I experienced, shockingly enough, it was the nausea (which I was assured was totally normal, and given something to help ease it some). Focusing on not throwing up actually made it easier to distract from the fact I was about to be cut open.

I feel fortunate that, not only was I able to have my husband there with me, but my mother was able to suit up and come in as well. My husband, who is pretty tall, was able to see over the curtain and watched the entire procedure. Partly fascinated by it and the amazing job the doctor did. Partly concerned. Just days before when the c-section had been scheduled, he had told me that all he wanted for Valentine’s Day was for both the baby and I to be okay. And that over everything, he was scared something would happen to me.

My mother made a comment about hair, and two seconds later, I heard my baby cry. After years of trying, years of battling infertility, years of feeling like I’d never get a chance to be a mom… I had a baby. A baby with a full head of hair, long fingers, and as I’d already figured out – long skinny feet.wpid-img_20150223_205143.jpg

At 9:36 on the night of Valentine’s Day, my 8-pound, 1-ounce, 20-inch long baby boy came into the world.

After the pediatrician checked him, and declared him to be a very healthy baby, he was given to me to hold. The first thing I did was smell him. Something my mother had told me to do earlier in the week. It’s a smell that I can still, a little over a week later, smell. My baby boy was beautiful, and I can say that the love I felt rush through me and fill my heart the second I touched him, is like none that I have ever experienced before. He had my whole heart wrapped around just one tiny finger.

I’m not the only one either. My husband, who is perhaps one of the most manliest of men (my dad probably being the most manly man that I know), has turned into a puddle over this tiny little guy. He can’t get enough of him, and I can’t get enough watching them. Watching him with our son just makes my heart explode more.

So here we are, on his official due date, only a little bit of the way through this new adventure. It has been amazing, and I know it will continue to be that way.

Living, learning, growing.

In life, I have set out to always do my thing. I can’t really say blaze my own path, because, well, let’s face it, there’s always a lot of other people trying to blaze that path or who are already walking it.

I have just wanted to stay true to myself. If I don’t like it, I don’t. You can criticize me all you want, try to pressure me into changing my mind, but you will fail. And on the other page, if I like it, I like it. You can laugh, poke fun, criticize (it’s funny how you can be criticized at both ends, isn’t it?), and I’m not going to change my mind.

I’ve never cared if I stood out from the crowd that I’m in. I’ve never cared if I was different from them. Blending or fitting in has never been something that has been a priority of mine. I’ve always felt in doing so, I’d be losing who I was. I’d be giving up my identity. And that has NEVER been okay. It’s something I fully plan on instilling in my child. Never give up your identity, who you are at your core, to fit in.

I am unique to a point. But there are others out there like me. I know, because I have met them. And I continue to meet more of them in my journey (social media can be a great connection tool).

However, the majority that surround me, are the opposite. Some, still love me for all that I am. Some still appreciate me and stand by me. Most are sugar when I’m there, but salt when I’m not.

You know the saying that momma tells you: If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all? My child is going to be taught the golden: If you’re going to talk smack, be insulting, rude, crude, or say anything negative at all (that you do not intend to say to the person face who it’s about), don’t do it with people around who will take what you said back to said person.

My entire life, I’ve have friends and semi-friends disclose information that others have said about me. I’m too loud. I’m too boisterous. I don’t fit in. I don’t party enough. I don’t drink. I’m too responsible, don’t invite me anywhere. I work out too much. I’m trying to prove something. I’m trying to be someone I’m not. The list goes on. I’ve heard it all. So much that nothing shocks me anymore.

And my adult life, has been far from different.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a few people text, message me, call me… about things members of a few groups I’m involved with, have said about me. Everything from horrible things about my pregnancy, to nipping at me in the face about my fitness/healthy living lifestyle.

Back when I was younger, I would have gone on the defensive. I would have tried to defend myself, gone to these people and tried to set them straight. Make them see me for who I was, and tell them they were misunderstanding me. But, over the past decade, I stopped doing that. They see what they see, and I’ve done all I can to show them who I am, and if they still can’t see that, if they still misunderstand — that’s on THEM, not me. I have done nothing wrong, other than stay true to myself and be who I am, who I want to be and who I always will be.

When it all comes down to that finish line, I want to be able to look back and feel happy that I did what I could to always improve myself, to be happy, to be comfortable in my skin, to love the road that I traveled despite any downs, dips and turns. So far, I’m doing pretty damn good at it. Contentment is a wonderful thing. Life is beautiful when it’s a part of it.

Never look back and wish you could change something. Once in awhile I find myself wishing I could have gone back to my younger years with the outlook I have today on the negativity that has been thrown around mostly behind my back, but I know that it would be a bad idea, because I had to experience it the way I did, handle it the way I did, in order to learn and grow.

And by learning and growing, I am steady. I am happy. I am in love.

By learning and growing (and all those shoulder exercises, shrugs, etc because I just want to be Queen Fitness or a fitness queen and that’s all I want in life), I have found the road that has led me to an open heart, a place of peace, a place where I can be who and what I am without a care in the world.

If you’re not growing and learning, you’ll never move forward. And that’s absolutely no way to live. Stuck in the mud.