Health and Fitness, Hobbies

My First Challenge Group!

I am really excited about having joined the Beachbody team and having hosted my first free challenge group! Finding the discipline to push myself through a workout routine has always been hard for me, so being the coach of this challenge group really helped to hold me accountable and build up the discipline I need to achieve the results that I want!

Before starting my own challenge group, I joined in on another coach’s group just to see how it was done. Her group was amazing and I hope that I did at least half as well as her!

My group was a multi-program group, which basically means that each participant was free to choose whatever regimen they felt they would best benefit from. This could be as hardcore as “complete the 21 Day Fix” program, or as simple as “drink water every day!” My role as a coach was simply to motivate, encourage, and hold each participant accountable during the journey. I posted little blurbs each morning that (I hope) were inspirational, and every Sunday I checked in with each participant personally to make sure that they were doing okay and to see if there was anything I could be doing to better serve them.

For my workouts, I decided to do Flat Abs Fix with Autumn Calabrese for the first 11 days. After that, I switched over to Shaun Week – which took me a few extra days to complete because we were busy moving! I used Beachbody on Demand to complete my workouts, which is an excellent resource in which one may find all kinds of workouts for all kinds of people. It is amazing!

It felt good to get into a challenging workout habit. I was also drinking Shakeology during my challenge group and enjoyed the extra boost of energy in the mornings after drinking it.

While I did see some physical results over the past three weeks of the challenge, the best result for me was the return of my ability to breathe normally, and the development of longer endurance.

If you were a regular reader here before my short hiatus, you already know about the medical issues I faced after giving birth. Being hospitalized with a blood clot was not fun, but it gave me a taste of what life could be like in the future if I don’t take care of my body now.

I spent a year and a half looking in on Beachbody and feeling skeptical about it before deciding to join. What I love about Beachbody is that it doesn’t make empty promises of quick weight loss or fitness solutions. There aren’t any easy fixes. Beachbody recognizes that health and fitness take work, are a way of life, and that fitness goals are more easily achieved when one has a support group that offers accountability and inspiration.

I’m excited not only to be on my own health journey, but to be able to help others on theirs as well!

Keep in touch with me and follow my progress here on the blog, on the Facebook Group TeamAdvance, or on Instagram @teamadvance_ !

And if you’re looking for any support or accountability, I’d love to serve you in that way!

Let’s do it together 🙂

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General, Hobbies, Uncategorized

Back To The Gym…

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Mondays and Thursdays are my new gym days. My husband hangs out with the kiddo while I get to go work out in our community gym (which is pretty nice, by the way). Today was my first time heading in there, and man…

I do not know what I am doing.

I didn’t recognize most of the machines and felt like an absolute fool in there. At first that was okay because I was alone. Then, the “regulars” started flooding in and doing their thing. And I just kind of hung out in the corner, hoping no one noticed me trying to figure out what kind of machine I was using and how to use it. Also, I almost died on the treadmill.

After my near-death experience, I decided to get off the treadmill and try something else. So I went to a machine in which I pulled weights, using a triangular, elastic handle-bar. Afterward, I did a few sit ups, and finally to another machine that I couldn’t really figure out well enough to get anything out of it. I tried the spin bicycle, too. It was mostly an exploratory trip.

I’ve never really been a gym kind of girl. I always have liked going to classes and working out in groups. In fact, fitness is one of the only things that I like doing in a group. Working out alone is boring. But I went. I went to the gym. And I’ll keep going and eventually things will get better.

I look forward to progress.

General, Hobbies, Uncategorized

The Road Back to Good Health

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When I was younger, I used to climb trees, roller skate or bike ride, race the boys in the neighborhood, and play high intensity outdoor games that left me excited and out of breath as I returned home for dinner in the evenings. I took ice skating lessons, dance lessons, and lots of hikes through the “woods” with my neighborhood friends. In high school, I took dance class, ran track, and was part of the step team. In college, I ran track, played tennis, and learned how to teach aerobics courses. As an adult, I’ve found enjoyment in Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, Barre, and anything that involves dancing. I guess what I’m trying to say is –

I used to be in such great shape.

I have always enjoyed being active and it isn’t until recently that I am realizing just how active I used to be! After having a baby and getting through a pulmonary embolism, I was told to slow down on the physical activity for a bit. But, I think I am starting to get back to the place where I can resume an active lifestyle. And, I can’t wait!

In the past, I wasn’t being intentionally active – I was just doing what I was interested in. This time around, I want to be more intentional about reaching certain fitness goals. I hate being in the hospital, taking medications, and having regularly scheduled blood tests. But, what I hate even more is how restricting the experience is. I can’t eat some of my favorite (healthy) foods because of the medicine I am taking. I can’t work out the way I want to until they are sure that my clot has dissipated. I can’t travel, sit, or lie down for too long without thinking about having to keep my blood circulation flowing. I have always been interested in health and fitness topics, but this experience has really taught me the value of making sure that I keep my body healthy.

Being in good health is a priceless treasure. If you’re already in good health, do whatever you can to keep it that way. If you’re not, do whatever you can to get back to it. I certainly look forward to getting myself back on track.

And I’ll be blogging the journey, of course.

Family, General, Hobbies

Life, lately.

Some of my blogging friends do this little thing called “Seven Quick Takes.” It’s a cute little way to catch their readers up on whatever has been going on in their lives. Since all my recent posts have been baby-related, I thought I would do a post about some of the other things we’ve got going on. Here are my “Seven Quick Takes” on some of the other aspects of my life!

1. We’ve found a church that we really like! Our entire 7 years of marriage have been spent looking for a church in which we feel like we are at home. This quick take deserves its own post, but suffice it to say that we have loved visiting this little church we’ve found and have thought about becoming members. The only thing standing in our way, is…

2. We are thinking about moving back home. If hubby finds a decent job in our home state before our lease is up, we are out of here! If not, we’ll move to a charming little city north of us, join the aforementioned church, and try to settle down and start a new life.

3. I am going back to work… Which both excites and terrifies me. I love what I do, and we need the extra money, but I don’t want to get caught up with work to the extent that I lose sight of personal goals. I feel strongly that I am in a place where I need to focus on (a) opening my own business (b) my writing, and (c) my love of language learning. Life is short and although it is good to work, sometimes the need to work and make money can actually be a distraction from what you really want to accomplish with your limited time on this earth.

4. I miss playing the Sims! Our PC broke down last year around this time, and I lost the ability to play the Sims as well as a lot of the stories that I was writing at the time. It was my most relaxing hobby to play the Sims, take screenshots of my gameplay, and write elaborate stories about the characters in my game. I am hoping we get a new PC soon so I can get back to that!

5. I am getting back to work on my infertility e-magazine. Last year, I started working on a project that I hoped would become an online magazine for those affected by infertility. Shortly after starting to work on that, our PC crashed AND I got pregnant. Then we moved! So the timing clearly didn’t work out. I haven’t stopped thinking about this e-zine, though, and I am looking forward to working on it again!

6. I’ve been taking coumadin, and I hate it! I had a blood clot in my lungs and was placed on the blood-thinner coumadin as a result. I don’t know how long I’ll be on this medication but I can’t wait until I can get off of it!

7. I never knew that the show “The Office” is so funny! My husband and I have started binge watching the office on Netflix when he comes home from work. I am not a huge TV person but I look forward to this time together every day! Dwight Schrute is, hands down, our favorite character!

So, that’s what’s been going on in my life, lately!

Infertility

5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Infertility

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me that she and her fiancé were wondering about what types of things they need to consider (medically speaking) as they get ready to plan a family. As we chatted about all of the different medical concerns that are part of the world of infertility, it got me thinking about the things that I wish I had known before my infertility journey began. Things that, perhaps, could have helped me to waste less time in my search for a resolution. If you are under 35 years of age, a doctor will not generally see you for infertility until you have tried to conceive for at least one year. If you are over 35 years of age, you may be seen for infertility after 6 months of trying. But when you want a baby, and month after month yields only negative results, six months to a year can feel like an eternity! Our first official year of trying was, for me, a living hell! I kept feeling like there was something more I could do to help our situation, yet I could not get any official medical advice because we had not been trying long enough!

But there are some things you can do during – or even before – your first year of trying to conceive (TTC) that will help speed up the process when you are ready to grow your family. Although I am not a doctor or medical expert, I do want to share some things that I have learned along the way that could help anyone who fears the potential inability to conceive. Please remember that these are my thoughts and experiences, each infertility journey is different, and you always need to consult with your doctor before making serious decisions about your health. Here are five of the things that I wish I had known, before we began trying to conceive.

I wish I had known that hormonal birth control can actually harm future fertility.

My friend and I discussed the sad hilarity of the fact that when you are in high school, your sex-ed class scares you into believing that you can get pregnant at any time! The result is that there are millions of women who think it is easier to get pregnant than it actually is, causing them to use forms of birth control that could actually (temporarily or permanently) prevent them from becoming pregnant in the future!

The truth is that you can only get pregnant in the days leading up to and the day of or right after ovulation. Ovulation happens when your ovary releases an egg into your fallopian tubes. The egg only lives between 12 and 24 hours. Your partner’s sperm, on the other hand, can live between 3 and 5 days! Therefore, the best time for conception is 5 days before ovulation, the day of ovulation, and the day right after ovulation. Knowing this would have helped me, because I would have just kept track of my cycles – instead of using harmful birth control pills that may have contributed to my problems with infertility!

I wish I had known how to track my cycles.

If you know how to read your body, then you may suspect infertility long before you are at the point where you want to try for children. It is helpful to learn what the different types of vaginal discharge indicate. If your menstrual cycles are too short (21 days or less from the start of one period to the start of another), this may suggest hormonal deficiencies or luteal phase defect. If there are more than 35 days from the start of one period to the  start of another period, this may indicate that you do not ovulate, or that you ovulate irregularly. Keeping track of whether you spot or bleed between periods, and of whether your periods are heavy, painful, or irregular can help also. In my case, my short (24 day) menstrual cycles were indicating a progesterone deficiency – something I probably could have taken care of long before trying to grow our family. By using information gained through discharge observations, awareness of menstruation, and through charting your basal body temperatures –  you can become familiar with your body’s patterns and find potential concerns to resolve before you begin trying to conceive. And by having an awareness of any potential concerns, you are better able to advocate for yourself when you are finally able to see a doctor.

I wish I had known how many different aspects of your life can be related to infertility.

There are some obvious factors of infertility – like past sexual trauma, sexually transmitted infections, or past abortion – but there are some more subtle factors as well. Do you clean your cat’s litter-box? Do you eat a lot of soy products? What kinds of products do you use to clean your home? These subtle factors will not affect everyone who is trying to conceive, but these are things that a person who is TTC should be aware of.

I wish I had known (earlier) about a good infertility support group.

It wasn’t until three and a half years into our infertility journey that I found any sort of support and/or infertility resources. I am so grateful for my group of gals who are a wealth of information and have really helped me to make good medical and life-habit decisions. Having a support group also helps you to sort through all of the various aspects of infertility – the emotions, the medical testing, the insurance questions, the “let’s try this and see if it works” diet, exercise, and intercourse ideas. There will be so much symptom-spotting and bodily changes that you go through as you try different medicines and treatment plans. There are so many questions that you will have about different diagnostic procedures and surgeries – and you can glean from the experience and wisdom that the women in a support group will be able to give you! If you are facing infertility – don’t do it alone! The knowledge you gain in a support group may actually help you to get pregnant faster!

I wish I had known how expensive infertility-related tests and treatments would be!

If you think you may be facing infertility, now is a good time to check with your insurance to find out what they do (and more likely what they don’t) cover. Since infertility is not considered to be “life-threatening,” insurance companies do not always cover infertility related costs. In addition, we live in a culture where pregnancy is seen as a “disease” or something to be avoided – as opposed to being the natural state of a healthy, sexually active woman. Insurance companies, for the mots part, have taken on the attitude that pregnancy is to be avoided (notice that most insurance will cover birth control, but not the costs of helping you achieve a pregnancy). Search for an insurance plan that will help cover your infertility costs, save money like crazy, and/or live in one of the fifteen states where at least partial insurance for infertility is mandated! In my experience, though, even in a state where infertility coverage is mandated, all of your expenses still may not be covered!

Here is a list of some of the tests you may need for an infertility diagnosis:

  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) / Hysteroscopy (to check for tubal blockages or uterine deformities).
  • Pelvic/Transvaginal Ultrasounds.
  • Bloodwork to test hormonal levels.
  • Postcoital testing (to test how seminal and cervical fluids react to one another).
  • Laparoscopy/Endometrial Biopsy (to diagnose, remove, and test endometriosis/endometrial lining).
  • Semen Analysis.
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone tests.
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone Levels test (to check egg quality).

Not all women will undergo each test, and this is by no means an exhaustive list of the different types of testing available. In the meantime, while you wait to begin TTC – learn to pay attention to your body, eat well, exercise regularly, drink enough water, and avoid toxins to be in the best shape for the beginning of your TTC journey!

Baby dust to you!

If you struggle with infertility, what are some things you wish you’d known beforehand?

Uncategorized

Everyday Paleo!

We are making great strides, so far.

We still have alot of non-paleo foods to get rid of in our house, but I’ve begun learning some paleo recipes for when we make the complete transition. So far, our breakfasts and dinners have been mainly paleo, with the occasional “eat it to get rid of it” non-paleo side dish.

I’ve been using the cookbook “Everyday Paleo” by Sarah Fragoso and I have to say, I absolutely love it! Originally, I was going to pick a different cookbook, but at the last minute my husband vetoed me and chose “Everyday Paleo,” and I’m so glad he did.

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The book has an easy layout with an introduction to the paleo lifestyle, recipes that are categorized either by food group (seafood or poultry)and by meal (breakfast, snack, etc). Afterward, the book has fitness tips – complete with pictures – to help on the journey of staying in shape!

It’s a great book and I am really enjoying learning from it. I haven’t had the book for a full week yet, so I have only made three meals: chicken and mushrooms with basil cream sauce, ground beef hash, and chicken piccata.

They have ALL been delicious!

A book like this is definitely making our transition easier, which is important as I will likely want to adapt an anti-inflammatory diet in order to increase my chances of fertility!

Do you have any favorite paleo cookbooks?

General

Going Paleo?

For the last four months, I have been going back and forth about transitioning to the increasingly popular Paleo diet as a means to improve my health (and possibly my fertility). I’m not normally one for keeping up with all of the latest trends and fads, but I think I need to really buckle down and try this one out. In fact, I have tried going Paleo before.

It lasted two days.

I just don’t have the discipline. There is a lot of preparation that is required and with everything that I generally have going on – I tend to feel overwhelmed and let the lower priorities on my list kind of slide. Before quitting my job, I also didn’t have the time. I spent most of my day at work, and the rest of it at school. I do love to cook, but there were some nights where my husband was lucky if I had the energy to make him a sandwich for dinner. Now that I’ve quit my job, I worry about having the money to eat fresh, whole, and organic all of the time. We aren’t huge fast-food eaters, but we’re very guilty of purchasing cheap microwaveable meals that aren’t much better for us than if we’d stopped at Wendy’s.

But I need to get it together. For years I have dealt with health issues that I suspect may be due to a slight gluten intolerance (can gluten intolerance be slight?). Now that I have proof of my soaring estrogen and plummeting progesterone levels, I can’t help but think that perhaps my diet is partially to blame. And my (potential) endometriosis could definitely be better managed if I were on an anti-inflammatory diet like paleo. There’s really just no reason for me not to try it. When you know better, do better.

I need to do better.

So I will be completely transitioning to the Paleo diet over the course of this month. I am going to get rid of (eat) all of the non-paleo foods in my house and not replace them. I am going to start stocking up on fresh, whole, and organic foods and learn the recipes for more paleo meals. I am going to come up with a system for when I get hungry in the middle of the day and need snacks that don’t need to be cooked or refrigerated. And by the time my birthday rolls around (the second to last day of this month), I will have transitioned into complete and utter paleo-ness.

I’ve heard plenty of success stories from people who have tried things like the Whole 30 and other paleo support plans, and I am hoping to see an increase in my energy levels and an improvement in the way that I feel on a day to day basis. I’ll need all the accountability I can get, so don’t be afraid to check in on me from time to time to make sure I’m doing the right thing!

And I hope and pray I will have the discipline to see it through, this time.