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!

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The Cost of Health?

food blogAround this time of year, I get a statement from my bank, detailing my purchases on my debit/credit cards over the course of the year. I always find it interesting to look back and see where my money goes, and this year the longest list is by far for groceries. My first initial reaction was, “wow I spent a ton of money on food!” But as I kept looking over this statement, I realized that the bulk of my money really does go into other things…various household bills/insurance, etc. Most of you know this song and dance.

The more I thought about it and started breaking it down in my head, I realized that it was only around 10% of my income that actually went to food. I am even accounting for purchases that were made outside of this particular account…in my case, this includes the grass-fed beef that we buy in bulk. Ten percent, in the grand scheme of things, seems so small. Especially where our health and nourishment is concerned.
One of the things I hear most when I get on my “healthy eating” soapbox…eating like this (ie: eating organic and buying wild raised meat) is expensive. Yes, it is more expensive when you put it right next to the cost for the conventional produce and meats. But there are some things we can learn here.

  • You are not spending the extra money on the cheap snacks or junk food. These things add up! If you just drink water, you are not buying soda or juice, so that saves money right there.
  • In 1901, about 40% of a household income went to food.
  • In the 1950s, a mere generation ago, it was about 34%.
  • Fast-foward to a more familiar 2002-2003, and it was 13%.
  • The last report I could find was from 2010 where food had dropped down to 9.8%.
  • During this time, what has happened to our health? Lets look at just one chronic condition; type 2 diabetes. These rates have gone up so much that the name had to be changed from Adult-onset Diabetes to Type 2 diabetes. Why? Because too many kids were being diagnosed!
  • What really concerns me is I know too many people who have worked and worked, saving for retirement, only to retire and have their entire lives savings wiped out when they have a heart attack/stroke/cancer. Usually far to early in life.

Fun fact: aging happens inevitably, as the cells in our body are copied and reproduced over and over again. Like a copy of a copy of a copy, the quality of these copies simply decreases over time. The rate of these copies is determined by the stress and demands that our lifestyle puts upon our bodies over the years. If our cells are allowed to make copies at a their normal, homeostatic pace, we should get like 110 years out of our bodies before the copies simply become unreadable and we meet a peaceful end to what should theoretically be nice long life on this earth!

So lets talk about my eating habits and where my 10% went. Do I eat organic and wild meats? Yes, I really do, most of the time, on most things. My priorities towards food quality go to the things I eat a lot of. If I eat eggs 5 days a week, I am going to make sure they are good, free-range eggs from chickens that spend time pecking around outside and in these winter months, are not being stuffed with GMO soy and corn. This is important to me. If I am out at a restaurant, do I go hungry if the salad is not organic and the burger is not grass-fed? Of course not! It is the things we eat/do the most that matter the most.

That 10% really seems nominal when I think about the monthly cost of the now-mandatory health insurance bill. I really find it quite disconcerting that my family pays the same in healthcare costs and the family who is on 5 prescriptions or insulin injections. Apart from well-baby checks, no one in my family has been to the doctor in almost two years.

Please note, I do think there is a time and a place for modern medicine. Two years ago, when I did make my last trip to a hospital, it was because I split my shin open and exposed bone/muscle. I was super grateful for the actions of those medical professionals who helped me clean and dress the wound to help prevent infection. No amount of healthy food and stress management would have fixed this acute injury. (I did not include the photo. You’re welcome. 🙂

Notice that I have now used the terms “chronic” and “acute.” This is where we need to differentiate between the use of hospitals/doctors and the use of say chiropractors/exercise/healthy lifestyle choices. If you fall and break an arm, I hope you are not going to try and treat it with a grass-fed steak and salad. If you have a heart attack, I do hope you get to an ER and a cardiologist, not a gynecologist. However, after the heart attack, are you going to take nutrition/lifestyle advice from that same heart doctor? I hope not. This doctor will have had little to no education in food and nutrition for the body. It would be like calling the fire department back to rebuild your house after they put out the fire. They simply do not have the right tools.

Healing from chronic conditions really is like healing your house after say mold/fire/flood. You have to do some rebuilding on your house and that can start with the food you put into it. Food and the nutrients it provides, are what replenishes all of the cells in your body. Your skin is your body’s biggest organ and it replaces the outer layer (the epidermis, the part we see) every 35 days. Every 6 weeks you get a new liver, and every 2 months you get a new brain! Every 5-7 years you actually pretty much get an entire new body. We are amazing creatures! If you give your body what it needs to do all of this, you really can heal yourself from the inside out. The ideal situation would be to just keep the proverbial house clean as the years pass. Basic maintenance if you will. When it comes to the only place you truly have to live, it is in your amazing, wonderfully complicated body. Don ‘t you think you deserve to give yourself and your family the best chance possible?