Fitness After a C-Section

IMG_9066.JPG

On Tuesday, I ran my first 5K since giving birth to Riggins. It was a slow and steady run but it felt amazing. When we first came home from the hospital, I had no exercise or body expectations, but I had a goal of running a 5K when he reached 12 weeks of age. That day was exactly on Tuesday.  I had some mama’s reach out to me mentioning that they are too recovering from cesarians and asked about my transition back into the world of fitness and running while trying to heal, raise two babies, and breastfeed. I really hadn’t thought about it that much until I was asked questions like what are you eating? when did you begin exercising? how did you transition back into running?

When these questions came up, I really had to think back to when I was six weeks postpartum and what I actually have done to bring fitness back into my life.  Exercise has always been a huge part of my life. It hasn’t always been a positive part of it, unfortunately.  I was an athlete in high school and my degree is in Exercise Science. To this day, I still am not sure why I chose to study it, but at the time, I believe it was because I so badly wanted fitness to always be associated with who I was. I was teaching cycling classes, training for half marathons, working out in my apartment complex twice daily, and I never really enjoyed any of it. To this day I still have not run one half marathon - but for some reason back then labeling myself as ‘training’ for one made me feel significant. Quite honestly, I did not enjoy running when I was 23 years old. Not at all. 

I realize now that my exercise back then was completely motivated by fear. Fear of weight gain, fear of losing the fitness label I had worked so hard at earning, and really, I was completely insecure about my body and who I was as a person and for some reason if I exercised constantly, they became insecurities that I never had to face. 

For as much as I exercised, l really wouldn’t have described me as fit. A better description of the way I looked and felt was tired, overworked, sad, lonely, and afraid of who I was and who I was becoming. I was never overweight by any means, and I definitely had the motivation mentally to run 9 miles and teach a cycle class all in one morning, but I was not happy. I was 155 pounds and the only thing I had to show for a long and strenuous workout was a torn IT band and sadness written all over my face. I became really good at pretending to love it, pretending to be happy, but inside I was really confused. 

When I met my husband, I was a complete wreck. We were married after a year of dating and to this day, I have him to thank for pulling me out of a really dark hole. God puts people in our lives to make us better, and I have so much gratitude in my heart for his patience in helping me heal.  He helped me on this path of believing that I am wonderfully and beautifully made, and that there is a world beyond health and fitness that I had yet to discover.  Almost five years and two babies later, I have a completely different outlook on fitness, and a completely different perception of the way that I view myself and ultimately everyone around me. I became a photographer because I have a very strong creative side to my heart. But I also became it because I love to capture the beauty in people - their body language, their smiles, their personalities. It is always my goal to capture who that person is, who the couple is, so that they may embrace their shape, their color, and who they are on the inside as well. If I am able to photograph and share who someone is on the inside through an exterior photo, I know that I have done my job well. 

Through all of this, I can actually say I have a complete and profound love for health and fitness again. I do nothing with my degree and I don’t teach exercise classes but I am so over the moon thankful for my body and what it’s able to accomplish every single day, whether it’s exercised or not.  I have an appreciation for pregnancy, childbirth, surgeries, long workouts, short workouts, fast walks, slow walks, five days in a row of moving and eating right and five days in a row of resting and indulging in amazing foods.  The exact moment I started resting and eating more and giving myself grace and no longer fearing who I was if I didn’t workout, was the moment my mind and my body began to change. I have a passion for running now. I love yoga. I love food. I am 140 pounds and I feel so incredibly healthy. Sometimes I weigh a little more than that and sometimes a little less. But there is absolutely zero stress about that number or who I am if a don’t exercise. I move because it feels good and I eat because it tastes good and I don’t judge anybody’s journey in health or wellness, I only cheer for them. Always. 

All of that being said, I had no intention of losing my baby weight fast. I still have a few pounds to go and am in no rush to get there. But I do still give myself goals - and one of those was to run that 5K on Tuesday. And for those of you who asked or who are interested in how I healed and transitioned back into the world of fitness post-baby, see below :)

  1. Do absolutely nothing for 6 weeks. Truly, I didn’t do anything besides hang with my littles.
  2. I went for my first walk/run around 6 1/2 weeks. It was a total of 20 minutes and I was freezing and tired.
  3. I started incorporating a lot of stretching into each day whenever I had the chance. It helped my muscles remember what it felt like to work a little bit.
  4. I try to run 2 to 3 times a week. Each time I try to go a little further than the last. 
  5. Don’t focus on your speed. Before Riggins I was running 8 minute miles. Right now I’m running 10 minute miles. It’s all good.
  6. I am so not a lover of strength training but I do believe this has helped me heal and earn some strength back. Once a week, I try to do squats with my kettlebell and body planks and arm work with my resistance bands.
  7. I eat very often. I cannot have dairy currently which makes my diet pretty bland, but I do eat fairly often and I think this has helped my metabolism, energy for exercising, and to maintain my milk supply.
  8. Exercise when you can.  It doesn’t need to be first thing in the morning. Most days we aren’t even fully fed and functioning around here until after 9. Give yourself grace on your workout schedule. It will be interrupted when you have littles running around. I accepted this right away so that when it does happen, I’m not flustered or irritated.
  9. Give someone else a compliment.  We are all on this health and wellness journey together. Rather than comparing yourself and your body to others, cheer them on. Whoever they are and wherever they’re at in this journey, be kind. The best thing you can share with others is kindness.
  10. Have fun. If you are at a place in your life like I was at five years ago, please reach out. I have two really great ears that would love to listen and hear your story. I promise you that exercise and health and putting an end to shaming your body and fearing it is possible. 

Oh, and if you're pregnant and reading this. YOU ARE AMAZING. YOUR BODY IS AMAZING. Give your belly a rub and be thankful for your body’s ability to do what it is doing. Creating a home for a baby is an incredible task and I pray that we can all find complete beauty in it. 

Breastfeeding a Baby with Food Allergens

Riggins is 11 weeks old today! I can’t even believe he’s been with us for almost three months. If you follow me on Instagram you know that we went through a rough patch with him right around week five. We weren’t sure if he was developing colic, getting sick, or just transitioning from being the most calm and laid back baby in the world to the complete opposite of that.  After tears, complete meltdowns, and a lot of research, it basically came down to this:

My baby has a food allergy and I had to do something about it.

I am terrible at dieting. I went through a time in my life where I had distorted eating and exercise habits and it was terrible. Then, thanks to my hubby, I discovered food - REAL food, and how feeding my body made me feel so good.  And since then, I just kept on intuitively eating and have never looked back. Fast forward 4 years and all of a sudden I was 5 weeks postpartum, my infant wouldn’t latch when it came to breastfeeding, and when he finally did, he’d scream for hours and hours between feedings and wouldn’t let up. I was completely at a loss.  Do I keep nursing my baby if I’m hurting him? Do I really spend 15 minutes trying to get him to latch every single time he needs to eat?  I was so exhausted and my toddler kept telling me to make the baby be quiet please.  ‘I know honey, I’m trying,’ I would say. I talked myself out of the dairy free thing for a few days.  I told myself that it couldn’t possibly be the reason for his behavior, his pain. 

But this diet?  The one I’ve been following for six weeks now - let me tell you, I will never look back.  At least until I’m done breastfeeding that is. I started sharing about this a little bit on my Instagram feed and I’ve actually had quite a bit of interest from other mom’s regarding this topic.  Even those who aren’t mom’s have been messaging me questions and even offering tips and advice as I’ve seen a lot of people following the Whole 30 diet, which limits a lot of things, including dairy. 

Long story short, if you have been considering switching to an allergy free/dairy free diet - this post is for you. Below are the things that have helped me during the challenging times as well as some of my favorite substitutions and basically what I eat in a day to survive this switch.  

I will be honest and tell you that it.is.HARD.  Reading labels and cooking has been challenging, which is why I eat a lot of the same things over and over right now.  But I will tell you that the day after I changed to this diet, Riggins changed.  And over time it’s just gotten better. Within a week he was better, like almost completely. He stopped fussing, spitting up, and his baby acne cleared up so fast. He even started sleeping better.  And now that it’s been six weeks, I refuse to look back and feel so thankful to have my happy baby back.

So this is for you mama’s:

Remember Why: During the challenging times (like the times where you’re so sick of wandering the grocery store with two little one’s reading labels), just remember WHY you are making this transition. For me, I am willing to keep up with this lifestyle because I just can’t imagine seeing my baby scream like he was ever again.  It was heartbreaking and I felt horrible knowing that every single time he ate he would be in pain. 

Focus on what you CAN eat:  Since a lot of things contain dairy, soy, and eggs (those are the things I am avoiding), I really just try to focus on the things that I can eat every day.  Basically a lot of carbs and healthy fats.  I am not a huge fan of meat but I have had to increase my meat intake to ensure I get at least some protein every day - especially since I can’t have eggs.  The hardest thing for me has been giving up half and half in my coffee.  I am a coffee addict. One cup in the morning, iced coffee in the afternoon - daily.  Since I’m a huge fan of cream in my coffee, I’ve had probably 15 emotional meltdowns that I can’t.  I’ve opted for Almond Milk creamer which is definitely not the same, but my mindset is:  you can STILL have coffee.  It’s not the same but you can still have it.  So that is what I focus on.  I can’t have yogurt, but I can have fruit.  I can’t have eggs, but I can have turkey meatballs. I can’t have chocolate, but I can have Dairy Free Halo Top (which is amazing by the way). Focus on the things you can eat.

Reach out: Instagram has been a lifesaver for me. I used to be so timid about posting things on my story in regards to my personal life other than my kids.  But as soon as I started speaking into the phone and seeking advice from others like how do i make vegan bullet proof coffee?  or hey can someone give me their thoughts on dairy free creamers, I got immediate responses. And it’s been so wonderful and helpful and led me to other blogs and resources as I make my way in this journey.  Instagram is a platform that I truly believe is amazing for sharing our real lives.  It’s a great tool to connect with people, learn, and just overall be yourself on. My biggest advice is to never be scared to reach out! There are so many people out there going through similar things, or their own thing, and you just never know how the connections with others will shape your future. 

Take this time to learn: I am fairly knowledgable when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. But the Dairy, Soy, and Egg thing? It took me a couple of weeks to get a handle on it. These three ingredients are in a lot of foods and had this never happened to me, I probably wouldn't have ever taken the time to learn about this topic. A lot of foods like breads, chocolates, sauces, all contain dairy and egg! I found myself picking up a lot of things I thought would be okay to eat and immediately putting them back. Use this as an opportunity to learn about nutrition and foods and what they contain. And when it comes to the ingredient list, less is more!

It’s Hard, Mama.  I know.  But take it from someone who has made it over the hump.  It’s doable and so completely worth it. For me, the best motivation in the world has been having a healthy and happy baby.  Take it one step at a time, you both deserve this. 

Below is what I typically eat in a day!

Breakfast:

Lunch:

  • Turkey Meatballs w/ Sweet Potato
  • Avocado Toast with Fruit
  • Turkey Sandwich with lots of veggies

Dinner:

  • We eat a lot of Chipotle because it gives me calories and my hubby loves it
  • Grilled Chicken, Steak, Salmon with steamed veggies
  • Turkey Tacos
  • Chicken stir fry with vegetables 

For snacks I eat a lot of Energy Balls, Costco tortilla chips with salsa and guac, apples, trail mix, and Lactation Cookies made with coconut oil and dairy free chocolate chips (this recipe I'll share soon!) And I try to drink 100 oz of water a day so that I can maintain my milk supply.

How about you?  Are you or have you been on an allergy-free diet?  What tips can you share with your fellow feeders?

Welcome Riggins Samuel

 

Our second son was born on November 21, 2017. To recap a little bit about my first born, he was born via emergency C-section.  I actually had labored 13 hours naturally and had dilated to 9 centimeters, but within seconds, everything changed and I was being wheeled away from my husband and had to be completely put under. Nick wasn’t able to be there for the delivery until they knew everything was okay and I wasn’t able to see McCoy until three hours after I had delivered him.  He then was admitted into the NICU and we ended up staying in the hospital for six days until he was cleared to go home. I was extremely hard on myself with the birth of McCoy. I had every intention of delivering him naturally and every intention of going home the following day to begin my life as a new mother. I was tired and hurting and trying to heal, and I was sad. Looking back, I have realized that I learned so much during that time. I relied heavily on my faith during that hospital stay and long afterwards. My husband and I grew very strong as new parents.  And now, I fully embrace that experience and realize how much the human body is truly capable of enduring. 

Fasting forward to the present, I really didn’t know what to expect for the delivery of Riggins. I knew it would be a scheduled C-section and I knew my body had done it all before, but I wasn’t awake for any of it so I was actually quite nervous for the surgery. It didn’t hit me until about three weeks before his birth that I started losing sleep over the fact that I would once again be sliced open and once again be put in a situation where our hospital stay could be much longer than expected. I was doubting having a second child and became really hard on myself that McCoy would no longer be my everything.

I was assured by many, however, that this time around would be much much different (and that McCoy could and would still be my everything).

I was awake from midnight until we had to check in at the hospital at 5:15 the morning of his delivery. We pretty much just laid in bed and talked about how weird it was knowing the exact moment our baby was going to enter our life. I was five days overdue with  McCoy so my pregnancy with him felt extremely long. But with this pregnancy, the date had been on my calendar for months, so the anticipation was sort of killing me by November 20th, even though I was able to deliver him at 39 weeks.  I got out of bed around 4 AM, packed our bags, and showered. I remember looking at my belly one last time  and thinking, ‘this could be it, this could be our last pregnancy.’  All of a sudden the extremely hard moments in pregnancy disappeared andI truly felt beautiful. I realized that this is what my body was made to do. So let’s go have a baby!

We checked in, changed into our gowns, and settled into our room very quickly. The nurses had me prepped extremely fast. They were so casual, like prepping a lady to be cut open was an easy task and like handling needles and little tools was something they could pretty much do blind folded. Nick sat next to me, drinking his Holiday coffee, telling me I was doing great (as if I was in labor). There was music playing on the television sound system and then I was given two new nurses - the one’s who would be there during my delivery.  An emergency C-Section had come in that morning so we received news that we had to wait until she had delivered, so my 7 AM start time was pushed back a bit. I was so at peace with it all I didn’t mind. I also was quite fascinated just watching my nurses. If you are a nurse by the way- you are AMAZING and should be rewarded on a daily basis with coffee and cookies and do NOT get enough credit for the work you do, xo.

Before we knew it, it was time to walk down to the operating room. I held hands with Nick, got on the table, received my spinal, and literally 10 minutes later Riggins was born. It happened so fast, so peaceful, and with such ease, I truly could not believe it.

He was born at 8:54 AM weighing 8 pounds 5 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long. 

Pregnancy is amazing. Giving birth is amazing. No matter what situation you are put in.  Riggins is an extremely content baby and we were sent home a day earlier than expected (on Thanksgiving). We picked up McCoy, had a wonderful time with family, and quickly entered the world of parenting two. 

And it is so so wonderful.

What I’ve learned through all of this is infinite. Childbirth goes deeper than the tiny humans we create. Both deliveries have taught me that God is certain, He has a plan for your future, and he will take you to places in which you would not be able to go on your own, and for Him, I am so grateful.