Your Body is Not Amazon Prime

As a mom, I naturally filter a lot of things through the lens of parenting. I was looking through this lens the other day, reflecting on my own childhood in comparison to the world my children are growing up in. The differences are amazing, especially for such a short period of time. It terrifies me.

There has literally been an explosion of technology. The pace of society has been completely changed, which has completely change our mental perspective. Some good ways and some bad (most all of which scare the crap out of me). It just seems so fast, demanding and promotes instant gratification.

But it is also amazing, wonderful and promotes an insane amount of information and knowledge, which as humans, we crave. Our amazing human brain is one of the things that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. The pace of our modern world is a product of our outstanding knowledge and application of this knowledge.

But I want to talk about this from the position of our physical bodies, from my perspective as a fitness trainer.

  • Knowledge and wisdom are not the same things.
  • Instant gratification scares me.
  • More is not always better.

I want to talk about all of these. Because this MORE mentality is not isolated to the children’s generation. This has spilled over into pretty much ALL generations, and in my profession, often does more harm than good.

People, I can’t say this loud enough or often enough…Our physical bodies just can’t match this pace. It is biologically impossible. Stolen meme alert…Your body is not Amazon Prime…it isn’t going to show up in two days!

Knowledge versus Wisdom

This is a deep topic, but we are only going to scratch the health and wellness basics on the surface…

We all KNOW that to get healthy/lose weight that we have to exercise and eat better. The WISDOM comes in when you apply this properly. You are not going to get in shape sitting on your couch, wasting money on crappy protein powders, thinking about bicep curls…I may or may not know this from experience 🙂

Because if you DO what you know, you will grow! (I totally stole this from a podcast…but I like it and it’s true)

But here is the caveat on this…you have to LEARN what to do. And there is A LOT of misinformation out there. At my job, Eupraxia, this is what we do. We are awesome at helping you cut through this and I love talking about this stuff.

Because our technological world does not filter for idiots and they are also allowed to share and post stuff. Which leads me nicely into point two…

Instant Gratification

Here is a snippet of what came up when I did a Google image search on “weight loss headlines”:

  • Lose 25 pounds in 2 weeks!
  • Drop 2 Sizes in 2 Weeks!
  • Blast Belly Fat Fast!
  • The #1 Weight Loss Secret!

No wonder people are confused, wanting fast results, and then easily disappointed once they get going. Because I know the #1 weight loss secret…are you ready? Here it is…

It takes Change. Hard work. Dedication. And most importantly, it takes Time.

I’ve said this many times, I will say it again here. You don’t want to lose 25 pounds in 2 weeks. You want to lose it FOREVER.

More is not always better

Now I want to talk to the people here who are IN this already. Who have started figuring this thing out, and maybe been at it for awhile. You have gotten some results, possibly some great results, and are now feeling stagnant, stuck or even burnout.

We are basically shaped by our environment to enjoy(or avoid) certain things based upon the response we get from the action. Our two main hormone drivers in this equation are Dopamine(pleasure/reward) and Adrenaline(survival/strength). So what happens if the response we get from an action stimulates these? Well then we are psychologically driven to repeat this action. Over and over again. And unfortunately even when it is at our own expense.

Because it is awesome when your clothes fit better

It feels amazing being able to squat that heavier weight.

People noticing and commenting on your hard work feels great.

Finally seeing your hard work pay off makes it all worth it.

And we want MORE!

But sometimes more is just MORE…and that doesn’t make it better. While working out likely won’t actually kill you, you CAN do too much. More often than not, when we feel like our progress has stalled or we are not getting stronger, our first response is often to go HARDER. If some exercise is good, MORE must be better. If watching what you eat is good, cutting calories MORE must be better. Low carb was good, LOWER carb must be better.

The problem with this?

I’m going to repeat myself here…your physical body can’t keep up with this. Exercising twice as hard does not produce twice the results.

  • So if you are someone who has been at this awhile, maybe started off strong and are now wondering why you don’t have the same energy?
  • Have you ever felt completely exhausted and HAD to workout anyways?
  • Or maybe you have a nagging injury that just won’t heal…because you won’t take the time to let it?

If this is you, this is dopamine trying to convince you that you’re not doing enough. So to conclude here, I want to end with a few simple ways you can help remedy this. In short, I want to give you some knowledge 🙂 and it is your job to be wise with it.

  • Sometimes LESS is more. Plan to rest and recover. It is important to know that your muscle grows/builds on the REST days. You break it down when you exercise. If you PLAN to rest, then you won’t beat yourself up for taking a couple of days off the gym.
  • Sometimes LESS is more. (yes I wrote this twice on purpose). Just because you can squat the 80# kettlebell doesn’t mean you have to today. Especially if you really went after it earlier in the week.
  • Do more of the RIGHT things. Like sleep more. Eat more healthy REAL foods. Do more things to manage stress, like hike, read, take a hot bath…whatever this looks like to you.

I want to end here with one of my favorite sayings. Because this last point here is NOT an invitation to be a weenie. It is invitation you to take an honest look at where YOU are at in your journey and hopefully take away something that will help you be a better you tomorrow 🙂

Retaining my right to jump rope

I have been in need of an outlet for some emotions and this is long over due.  To the point where I am not even sure where to begin, because what I see in hind site is so different than what I felt being “in” it. My little man is now four months old and it is crazy how I feel so changed since I wrote his birth story just a few months ago.

Being a mom is hard.

But being a mom is also one of the BEST feelings I have ever felt in my life. I love love my job, but if we could afford it, I would quit in a heartbeat to stay home with my babies. We planned for both of our children, they were very much wanted and are very much loved. However, nothing could have prepared me for the level of hard that would come with having two kids.

A toddler + a newborn + a husband in mid season of coaching varsity baseball = one overwhelmed mama.

Looking back, there is no doubt that I have been dealing with some sort of postpartum depression/anxiety. Fortunately I feel like I saw it coming. Having dealt with a past in anxiety, I was more aware and already had some tools in my pocket; However my primary tool was not presently available to me…exercise. At least not at the level I felt I needed. Let me back up a bit.

What you need to know about me for the purposes of this post…

I am a pretty Type A personality, in that I like to stay busy. I am competitive (mostly with myself), outgoing, and I like to be on the go and really get after things. I have a hard time slowing down. But I have taught myself how to slow down. Mostly out of necessity and past health issues.

I love to lift weights and I love being strong. I was never good at sports in school and finding this made me feel like I finally found something I could do well. It is a huge outlet for me and for my health…the health of my body and my head!

I don’t keep big emotions or struggles or challenges inside. I can’t. I’ve tried. All I got out of that deal was IBS/increased anxiety and more. Enter blogging.

After this recent birth of my son, what would have been easy for me is to get back into the gym and attack things full force. Working out is truly medicine for me, the best I have ever found. And without it, I feel restless and anxious. But I learned from my first birth that rushing was not a good idea. I ended up with some injuries and had to take many steps backwards. It was about a year after my first child that I found Birthfit. This gave me the words and the knowledge to understand what I already kind of innately knew…that pregnancy is not a condition, pregnant women are STRONG! That unnecessary pressure is put upon a postpartum woman to return to her former glory. It  basically confirmed just how backwards our society had pregnancy and postpartum. I wanted to do it right this time.

I wanted to be kind to my body and take it slow. To give myself the space and grace to heal. I started with yoga and some light kettle bell work. I did the Birthfit postpartum series… yet even at this slow pace however, there were things in my body that were not feeling quite right. I was also not willing to accept the fact that I could no longer control my bladder. If I have learned anything over the years, it is that common and normal are very different things!

So I took some of the best advice I have ever gotten and took myself to a pelvic floor physical therapist. (Yes this is a real thing. I had that thought the first time I heard of this too. And in hindsight this is extremely sad and frustrating.)

Because I left that first appointment so angry. Not with her, or even so much with my diagnosis. But with the fact that I had just had my second child and it was the first time I had heard something like this existed. I can remember asking her, how the hell was this not standard of care for women in this country? Then I learned that there were SEVEN pelvic floor PTs on staff at just one of the two major hospitals in the area. This floored me. (pun intended).

Overall I really do consider this visit one of the best decisions I have ever made. Because what I have been learning over the past couple of months has taught me more about myself than I can recall learning in a long time. And I feel like I do a pretty good job staying in touch with myself.

TMI alert…She found that I have a mild prolapse of my uterus and bladder. In short, the little basket of tendons that holds up the pelvic floor organs took enough stress and strain that they are no longer holding things in the right place.

It took me a few weeks after this diagnosis to realize the magnitude of time that was actually coming with this healing process. I was so damned focused on getting back into the gym that I forgot to focus on healing. I was going through the motions of the rehab thinking “just a few more weeks.” “Maybe in another month.” But things were not getting better. In fact, I felt they were getting worse for me. More and more out of my control, which was making it hard for me to determine what I was actually doing incorrectly.

I went to a bit of a bad place for awhile. It got magnified when I found I was indeed doing a few things wrong. So after weeks of feeling more setbacks than progress, we dived deeper and figured some stuff out. I ended up with a super strange set of feelings…as I left this appointment feeling both hopeful, and yet discouraged.

I had originally entered this step in my life with the determined thought that I was going to retain my right to jump rope. It has become so much more! Because the amazing mind/body connection is so profound, especially when centered around the pelvic floor. The amount of emotions and security that are involved with this area of the human body are vast and very real. I can feel this experience changing me at my core. Because this experience has taught me something I did not realize about myself…

I did not realize how much of my self-worth I had wrapped up in my physical strength.

So I finally truly surrendered. I sat my butt down in the grass next to my little man and I surrendered. I prayed. I cried. I asked God to send power and energy from his amazing earth into my body to help me heal. To better trust Him and release my own agenda.

Emotionally, I felt better almost immediately. Crying is truly amazing. It literally releases your stress hormones. Then over the next 5-7 days I felt physically different… almost like things shifted, not unlike right after birth, accompanied by some cramping. But then, I felt BETTER better. Like I was not having to struggle to hold myself together (literally) anymore. I found I could carry my kids without discomfort. Then at my next appointment, 10 weeks after my first appointment, I confirmed that things had finally improved.

I still don’t know what all of this really means and there are days when I still struggle, physically and emotionally. Especially in my work setting when all I want to do is a burpee (or 50) with the rest of the class. But I find I can also step back and appreciate the fact the I WANT to do burpees!

And I will be able to again. Because SLOW is FAST.  These words from my friend Erica and Birthfit are written on my mirror, my notepads and the back of my brain. Why am I writing all of this? Because if just one mama reads this and feel empowered or inspired, then it was all worth it. Because it is NOT normal to not be able to control your pee. It is NOT normal to feel heaviness/pressure/bulging after babies. And you CAN heal yourself…if you are willing. Because our little ones are worth it, and so are you!

Linken’s Birth Story

“Don’t measure your energy level against the challenges ahead – the issue is not your strength but mine, which is limitless.” ~Jesus Calling

It never ceased to amaze me how totally different my two pregnancies were so it makes sense that the birth of my babies would also be different. My daughter was a bit early so I think I half expected this baby to be early too. That, coupled with some extreme end-of-pregnancy discomfort, made me more impatient than I care to admit at the end. I had also started feeling some changes happening a couple of weeks before Linken made his journey earth-side. About a week before he came, I had a solid 3 hours of steady contractions in the middle of the night and thought “this is it!” But then around 2 am, someone must have ordered a cease-and-desist because things totally stopped. My honest first thought at that point? “Crap, now I have to go to work…”

10 very long days later, it finally happened…

It was around midnight when I began having surges that were difficult to sleep through. Nothing severe, just uncomfortable enough to prevent me from getting a solid rest. I called my midwife, Tavniah, to give her a heads up. She was about an hour away and our plan was to let her know ASAP since this was baby #2 and things could move faster. I did some pacing, some coloring and some cat napping in the early hours of that morning. I sent a text to my friend and doula, Erica, so she would know when she woke that it was baby day. When my husband, Kevin, got up I told him we needed to change our plans for the day, it was time to have a baby instead. Our daughter, Charlie,  was pretty geared up for a farm tour we were planning on attending that day, so Kevin took her out to run some errands and get her out of the house for a bit.

Those couple of hours of being totally alone in my house (not something that happens often!) sticks out in my mind as one of the most peaceful moments I have had in years. The sun was shining, but not too bright, just enough to cast a dusky glow on the spring green in the back yard. The birds were singing and the breeze was blowing these awesome wind chimes I have hanging. I was able to surrender and just lay there breathing, praying, and talking to my baby.

Tavniah had arrived to check on me early afternoon and since things were holding pretty steady, she left to run some errands. We later sent Charlie to her grandmas to nap for the afternoon, as things were gradually starting to get more intense. I had originally hoped to have her there for the delivery and am now glad she was gone. I think it was probably around 3 or 4 pm when I noticed things really picking up, and I had to give more attention to the surges. Erica and Tavniah had both arrived to stay somewhere during this time.

The order and timeframe of things gets fuzzy for me…

What I do know is that things started happening FAST. One of the things I remember with Charlie’s birth was my ability to settle into each different phase and get myself into a rhythm. As the next phase would come, I would adjust and settle in. This time the changes happened too fast and it was all I could do to keep breathing and stay focused on moving things down…Down…Down. It was like a chant in my mind with every exhale.

I spent a lot of time at the foot of my bed, using the edge of the mattress to push into the top of my uterus during the surges. It helped with the pressure. I remember taking a bath. That felt SO nice but was hard to get comfortable. Erica had me try sitting on my Squatty Potty and that was hard for me as it seemed to make things so much more intense and open. I heard myself say this out loud to her and may have then actually laughed out loud as I said it…realizing that this was exactly what I wanted to happen, to be open.

I remember my husband’s strong arms around me holding me up during several intense surges. I remember him resting his hand on my back just letting me know he was there. I remember being back on the Squatty Potty with Erica supporting me for a time. I remember getting SO tired all of the sudden and wanting to sleep. Which is how I ended up in a child’s pose of sorts on my bed for awhile. Apparently baby didn’t want me to rest, because this is where I was when my water broke and things started getting intense in a whole new way. This was around 7:30 p.m.

Feelings I still can’t properly articulate…

“Baby is not liking this position, you have to move,” Tavniah said. She and Erica helped me stand and move to the foot of the bed. The urge to push started creeping in and I can really remember having a hard time mentally making the switch from breath to pushing. I had been SO tired during my first birth at this point that I don’t really remember a lot of the feelings and sensations. I was VERY away of every sensation in my body at this time and everything about this birth was so strong and so intense. It was not frightening so much as it was overwhelming. I think I felt a bit out of control of it all. Erica was amazing at helping me reconnect, talking and touching me to get me to redirect breath, feel the sensations and then actually push. It felt like this went on for hours. I found out after it was around 20 minutes.

The atmosphere in the room changed…

Tavniah suddenly had me changing positions often. Something I did NOT want to do and it took a lot of effort for me. She started checking baby’s heart rate more frequently and at one point I think I heard her say something like “I think we are going to have to go to the hospital, baby’s heart rate is dropping too low.”

I heard “hospital” and thought “oh hell no, I’ll move wherever you want me to!” And move I did. With nearly every contraction I was changing positions, trying to find one baby agreed with. Kevin in the meantime had called 911 and Tavniah kept saying “baby has to come out now, baby has to come now.” She told me that she was sorry, we can’t wait for contractions, that I had to push and push hard. I couldn’t even hear the heartbeat on the Doppler at this point and focused all my strength and energy on pushing. I prayed. I pushed.

“…the issue is not your strength but mine, which is limitless.”

I remember 3 things that had to have happened in 60 seconds or less…I heard sirens, I heard the door, I heard the gloriously loud cries of my baby. I couldn’t even tell you what position I was in when he was born, but I remember looking over at him and thinking “Thank you God!”

I saw the paramedics at the bedroom door and they had a brief conversation with Kevin and Tavniah, then left. We had not found out the sex of the baby, but I had had a feeling. I remember asking around this point “is it a boy?” Erica heard me and took my hand and placed it on his little bum and told me to “feel this.” and I felt the confirmation of my intuition. “I knew it was you, my little Linken.”

I learned later…

…that there was a fantastic lightning storm going on during all of this. Seemed fitting.

I learned I had pushed him out from pretty much the top of the birth canal to totally out of my body in something like 6-8 minutes. I have the broken blood vessels in my eyes to prove it. I am thankful for so many things…my faith, my birth team…but also for squats. Mamas, please do all the squats!

I learned that what had happened was something completely unpredictable. His cord was being compressed somewhere with the pushing, and his heart rate was dropping down into the scary range of 40 bpm. Not being 100% sure what was happening at the time, the paramedics were called so they would then be there to transport if needed. Fortunately he came out hollering and tested 100% on oxygen levels. It was something that if in a hospital situation, he would have likely been suctioned out with a vacuum. I appreciated the ego boost from Tavniah when she said that she didn’t think that would have been any faster than how quickly I pushed him out. Mamas…do all the squats!

Tavniah later asked me if I felt any trauma from the birth and the way things happened. It took me several days to process the events but I knew enough at the time to say no. I truly didn’t. What I felt was empowered, supported, loved and strengthened by my birth team and I am forever grateful.

Expecting while expecting…

I feel like Baby B #2 (along with my blog…and my pets…) is already getting a serious shaft in attention. It is no longer a surprise to me that I have a completed baby book as a keepsake, while my middle sister’s is about half done. And the baby sister? Well it has her name and some birth day stats in it…Poor girl…

As I presently near the end of my second trimester, I found myself realizing how well I documented my pregnancy with Charlie and how poorly I have documented this one! So many reasons and excuses could be made. Time, energy, distractions of a toddler…all pretty legit. Truth be told, the entire pregnancy has been very different. I was not by any means expecting them to be the same, after all no two children are the same. Heck I am not even the same person I was a few years ago, life is just entirely different! Change is the only constant, after all.

I make it a point in my life to always be learning. To always be growing. To never settle or remain stagnant. I always have some area of my life that I am working on. Be it relationships, soul searching, faith…you name it, there is always room for growth and development.

My focus and life lesson during my first pregnancy was learning to let go of control, to trust and let God run the show. It was funny how the pregnancy paralleled what I was already working on. But the lesson didn’t stop there, it just evolved right on into one of my present self-development mantras;

Letting go of expectations to free myself to accept things as they are.

The trend of the pregnancy parallel has continued as well…

While this was a planned pregnancy, it just happened SO FAST. I am very blessed in this regard! Once past the initial excitement, my first thoughts honestly drifted to the many women I know who are struggling to conceive. It almost felt unfair. I offered up a lot of prayers for these women, for all women struggling, in the early days.

Then I remember thinking what an amazing big sister Charlie will be. I am pretty sure this progressed to a lovely rose-colored image of 2 children playing joyfully together and leaving me alone in peace for more than 10 consecutive minutes. Rose-colored indeed. Deep down, I know better…

If I have had an ongoing lesson as a mom and wife, it is as mentioned above. EXPECT NOTHING. Expectations really do set the stage for disappointments. I will say this again:

Releasing expectations leaves you free to simply ACCEPT things as they are and deal with things as they come. (Easier said than done, but the intent is there.)

I had several internal struggles for probably the first 16-18 weeks of this pregnancy. I thought my belly grew too fast. (I know my butt grew to fast…) I had such bad nausea and food aversions that all the healthy things I really wanted to eat made me want to vomit. I still can hardly eat eggs. Out of desperation and hunger, I ate an embarrassing amount of rice. (Which is out of character for me and does at least explain the butt growth.) But most of all I struggled with how I thought I should be connecting with my baby. It just came so easily with Charlie, my first baby. I felt her kicks so early and so much of my heart and my mind were always with her. I am not sure I will be able to give the proper words to these feelings, past and present…

I was eager to do so many things that I found helpful the first time. I meditate pretty much every day, I regularly jot down quotes and scripture to potentially help me through labor and delivery, I sing to my belly…yet I would find myself almost straining to feel kicks. And then questioning the ones I thought I felt. I would have these little moments of panic because the baby wasn’t moving as often or as much as I had hoped…all these expectations I was ultimately putting upon my baby, myself and my pregnancy.

Then one day something beautiful happened. And it happened when I wasn’t even trying. I was driving in rare silence and the words of John Lennons song, Beautiful Boy, suddenly popped into my head. At almost the exact same time, I felt a huge whoosh of movement in my hips from my little one.

“Before you go to sleep. Say a little prayer. Every day and every way, it’s getting better and better. Beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful boy.”

Now I don’t know if baby is actually a boy, so I have since replaced “boy” with “baby” just in case. (But it sure does match my mommy feelings, so we shall see!) But in that moment, I felt like I KNEW my baby. It was just really really powerful and wonderful. All of the nausea, food aversions, restlessness, ligament pains…all of it was suddenly worth it. I am finally feeling freedom from my expectations and am looking forward to what my final trimester will bring.