Wednesday, November 28, 2018

My Experience with Pelvic Floor PT

I don't remember exactly where or when I first heard about pelvic floor physical therapy.  I think I randomly came across the topic while I was reading everything I could get my hands on about baby/birth/postpartum (and compiling my 30 page google doc full of information and links - yes I'm crazy).  I read that in other countries, seeing a PT after birth is standard practice, but obviously not in the US.  I also read about the many women who suffer with postpartum complications and never get help, accepting peeing during certain activities as a rite of passage, part of becoming a mom.  The topic can be embarrassing and shameful, so I felt compelled to share my experience to help other women.

After having an amazing birth with no drugs and very minimal tearing, feeling fairly normal only a few weeks after birth, and waiting over 3 months to get back to the gym, I thought my body would resume my regular activity without any lingering issues.  Instead I found myself peeing during certain workouts (just in case I didn't hate jumping rope enough already), experiencing a lot of discomfort when trying to navigate postpartum intimacy, and dealing with a minor prolapse issue.

I knew I didn't have to live with these symptoms, but I honestly avoided facing them for a while.  I dreaded the awkwardness of explaining them to someone and volunteering myself for more pelvic exams with a new provider.  But a friend gave me the encouragement I needed and a few months ago I finally called my OB for a prescription and made an appointment with a physical therapist that specializes in women's health.

The first appointment involved a full evaluation including a physical exam looking at my abs, flexibility, glute strength and more, as well as an internal exam and a long conversation.  Upon meeting my physical therapist I immediately felt at ease.  She is super easy going and always makes me feel very comfortable.  She also shared the history of how she came into this line of work and her passion for helping people.

And she knows her stuff!  I found out that my pelvic floor was very tight and was basically stuck contracted, so all the kegels in the world would have just made my issues worse!  I also had a small ab separation (diastasis recti), which is normal in pregnancy, but causes that nice mom pooch look and again it's something that I could have made worse if I just resumed my normal ab exercises.  In addition to a weak core and tight pelvic floor, the PT identified that I have weak glutes and I'm also tight in that area and my quads.  It's all related, which did not really occur to me beforehand.

My therapy is a mix of many things.  I have internal release and strengthening activities.  I also do ab exercises that literally started as just me squeezing my abs, lifting my head, and pushing my abs together at the separation.  I have recently progressed to more advanced exercises since my separation has healed, yay!  I also do a lot of stretching, stabilizing exercises, and glute work.

I see my PT every 2-3 weeks and I intend on going until she discharges me or insurance cuts me off.  I pay $75 per visit (with our high deductible plan) and I truly believe it's worth it. All of my issues are not fully resolved, but attending PT has definitely helped and it has also been very educational and given me lots of tools I can do at home myself.

I would recommend any postpartum mom (no matter how much time has passed) or anybody suffering with incontinence issues or pelvic pain to please seek help!  A few months of PT could change everything!

Please feel free to reach out and ask me anything.

Monday, November 5, 2018

What's Up?

Ye ol' blog... how you have been forgotten.  It's been a while so let's do a little check in!

Vienna is 13 months old and she is officially walking!  And by walking I mean running, we are in trouble!  A week ago she could only take a few steps before falling, but now she's walking the length of our living room.  She's also doing tons of babbling, always telling us stories that we can't understand.  She has mastered a few words (mom, dad, dog) but often repeats things back to us that sound totally legit.  I don't think she's going to be a quiet child... weird ;)  After months of trying 5 different cups, she's finally figured out a sippy cup!  She's working on a bunch of new teeth after not getting any since Memorial Day.  I think she currently has 8 and she's working on 9-11.  She loves climbing in and (and sometimes falling) out of her Pottery Barn chair, reading books, petting the dog, playing patty cake, eating bacon, and being chased up the stairs.

I'm a few days into a Whole20... with some planned cheats.  What I'm doing probably isn't in the spirit of Whole30 (do the program as written, 30 days, no cheats, etc.) but I know it works for me and I needed some kind of structure before the holidays!  I want to remember how tasty all the healthy recipes can be, look a little better in my clothes, and go into the busiest time of the year feeling my best.  We do have a few things planned that are food focused like the Bacon Fest we attended yesterday (worth it!), a birthday dinner out for my MIL, and a Friends Thanksgiving, that I've decided I'm just going to enjoy and not stress about.  But otherwise I'm planning to keep things clean until Thanksgiving... and hopefully maintain a healthier mindset throughout the rest of the year.

A few things on our menu: 

I've been making it to CrossFit 1-2 times per week.  I tried to set a Tuesday Friday schedule, which has helped, but I've still been kind of sporadic and I think I may need to switch my Tuesdays for Wednesdays.  I also probably need to start going at 6 am instead of 7... woof!  Sometimes I feel really strong, like when I hit a 15# PR on my overhead squat at 135# and still probably could've done a few pounds more!  Or when I hit a PR on my squat clean at 145#!  And then other times I feel completely out of shape, like during every single workout that includes running, which seems to be pretty often in our recent programming.  I'm really just trying to remember that this is just a season of life, my commitment and level of fitness will ebb and flow with life events.  And any time I make it to the gym is still better than nothing!  I also tend to forget that CrossFit is so tough.  Sometimes I wish I could bring in some average fit people and watch them get humbled.  Maybe I am an evil person... misery loves company lol.

But seriously, how is it November already?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Body After Baby & Whole30 Results

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

I started out 2017 at the top of my normal weight range in the high 150s.  I had enjoyed ALL the Christmas cookies and I was trying to get pregnant, so when my gym announced a nutrition challenge and there was some chatter in our Whole30 facebook support group, a January Whole30 was an obvious choice.  Things were going really well... until morning sickness took over and we ordered a pizza on Day 26!  Then, as you all know, I ate everything my pregnant little heart desired and gained approximately 60 lbs!

8 Weeks Pregnant (2/16/17): 158 lbs
39 Weeks Pregnant (9/19/17): 216 lbs

I lost about 30 lbs in the week after birth.  The human body is incredible!

39 Weeks Pregnant vs 10 Days Postpartum

I easily lost another 10 in the first month and wasn't feeling too bad about my body.  I mean don't get me wrong, there would be moments where I'd look in the mirror and question if I was ever going to like my stomach again, but then I'd literally say some affirmations out loud like "you created a human, you are strong, you are beautiful" and I'd feel better.  Overall I was happy enough with how things looked and I felt great physically.

1 Month Postpartum - RIP my beautiful long hair!

I think breastfeeding really did me a lot of favors.  For the first few months I was eating whatever I wanted and a lot of it and I was still losing a pound here and there.  I was doing some walking for exercise, but nothing super consistent.  I finally returned to the gym in January but only made it there once or twice per week at best.  It was some time in March that I finally decided I need to clean up my diet a little bit and I started trying to make some more Paleoish/low carb meals but we were still mixing in bread for BLTs, taco shells, etc. and not being strict at all.  The pounds were consistently coming off, slowly but surely.  I always had the 9 months on, 9 months off mentality and never wanted to risk jeopardizing my milk supply.

February // March // May // June

When summer came along, I plateaued.  I think it was a combination of my body trying to preserve the last 10 lbs to make sure my baby would always be fed, all the food centered fun that summer brings, and also knowing that my 1.5 year eating free-for-all was soon coming to an end.  I knew this Whole30 was coming and I had a lot of "last" indulgences that peaked during our 4th of July vacation down the shore.  I had been weighing in around 164-166 since May, but after pigging out and drinking all week, my Whole30 starting weight ended up at 170.

And then it was finally time!

Start Weight (7/9/18): 170.6 lbs
End Weight (8/8/18): 156.8 lbs
Weight Loss: 13.8 lbs


Other results:
  • It's a lot easier to get my rings on and off
  • I fit into some of my pre-pregnancy pants
  • So much energy!  I never felt tired during the day at all!
  • I somehow avoided the cold that Dave suffered with for over a week
  • I went to the gym twice per week consistently and PRed my overhead press

I though this Whole30 would be so hard, I mean Whole30 is hard enough but doing it with a baby would have to make it my hardest one yet.  But it honestly wasn't.  I think a few key things really contributed:
  • Keeping it simple: I stuck to easy meals that were quick to get on the table to avoid my usual mid Whole30 cooking burnout.
  • Setting myself up for success: If I wanted to do something more elaborate or I had plans to go to the gym after work, I would prep some things for the next day after the baby went to bed.
  • Having support: Dave was an awesome partner and always helped get dinner ready or keep the baby entertained while I was cooking.  He is also the master of dishes!
  • Waiting for the right time:  Things are really smooth with the baby in general right now, she's sleeping through the night and we were already in the swing of getting dinner on the table before she goes to bed.  I'm really glad I waited until the right time and didn't push myself into it too early postpartum.
A side note on weaning:  I dropped my pumps week by week and then got down to just nursing first thing in the morning and right before bed, but Sunday morning was my last session.  My boobs are super full and I'm still hoping that once my body figures out that I'm done, my giant milk jugs will calm down and I'll lose another pound or two.

I had amazing Whole30 results, but I'd be lying if I said I was 100% satisfied with my body right now.  I'm down to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I'm right at the top of my range where my pants barely fit and I'd be thinking about doing a Whole30.  I am really proud of all the hard work I've put in and losing 60 lbs is no small feat!  And maybe I just need to accept that my body may never look the way it did before I grew a human inside of it.  But I'm going to keep pushing to eat the way I know I should and rebuild my strength so I can be the best momma I can possibly be!
Someone go back in time and tell me to look at the camera...

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