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) and experiencing a lot of discomfort when trying to navigate postpartum intimacy.

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...

Friday, July 27, 2018

July Snapshot: Whole30, Dreaming of Folk Fest, and Other Ramblings

Today is Day 18 of my Whole30 and things are really just chugging along.  I thought this round would be so hard but it really hasn't been.  I think waiting until I was 9 months postpartum was a great choice because I was truly ready to make a change and the baby consistently sleeping through the night doesn't hurt either. Getting dinner on the table before the baby goes to bed is the biggest challenge, but I've been trying to pick dishes that come together quickly, Dave always helps, and sometimes I prep some things the night before after she goes to bed.

I feel like I never have time to post here and sometimes I think about just letting it go, but then I'll click through my old posts and I just can't.  So here we are with a quick snapshot of what's going on right now (inspired by this blogger).

FEELING:  Unbloated, energized, productive.  Tiger blood?  I'm not sure, but I know I feel good!  Emotionally I'm still feeling pretty mixed about weaning the baby, but tomorrow she will be 10 months old and I'm so proud we've made it this far!  And I'm done pumping at work!  HUZZAH!

EATING:  Let me say it again, Whole30 is not a diet where you eat boring unsatisfying foods!  We have been eating so many delicious things.  We do a lot of easy no-recipe meals like burgers, steak or chicken sausage with roasted or sauteed veggies, eggs, etc.  But we've also made some awesome recipes from the internet:

CRAVING:  GIMME ALL THE CHOCOLATE!  Apparently my sugar dragon is not yet slayed.  Dave and I have both been craving sweets at night which we have been battling with fruit and La Croix.  But dang, I want a Hershey kiss!

PLANNING:  Post Whole30 I am headed to Annapolis for my long time BF Jes's bachelorette party, then I have a short work week and we're headed to the Philadelphia Folk Festival!  I am so jazzed up for both events and I'm basically wishing away the next two weeks to get to the good stuff.  But there's a lot of prep that needs to happen in the meantime though!

2013, babies!

LISTENING:  I'm studying for Folk Fest and trying to get to know the must-see bands, so I'm listening to my Fest playlist over and over.  I love listening to some new genres and artists I'd probably never make space for otherwise.  Some of my top picks right now are Valerie June, Porter & Sayles, Earle and Coffin, Making Movies, and Earth Radio if you're looking for something new to listen to.

WATCHING:  I have 2 episodes left of the second season of The Handmaid's Tale and whoa.  It's so incredibly messed up but also amazing.  The show always makes me reflect on my pregnancy and the gift of motherhood.  I'm also super pumped for the new season of Orange is the New Black that just came out today.

MOVING:  I've been consistently hitting CrossFit once per week, sometimes twice, and I'm still getting my ass handed to me.  CrossFit is punishing when you're not in shape and going once per week is not really helping my cardio capacity.  But I still love it and the feeling I got from easily deadlifting + low hang snatching 90 lbs on Wednesday keeps me coming back for more.

As you can tell, life is good and busy as per usual.  I'll be back in two weeks with my Whole30 results and some body after baby updates!

Monday, July 9, 2018

It's Time: My First Postpartum Whole30!

Over the past year and a half, my body has grown and nourished a human being.  How incredible!  During that time I had given myself a free pass to eat ALL the things... and boy did I!  Now that's coming to an end!

I've been thinking about dieting for a few months now but I didn't want to do anything that would risk my milk supply.  Breastfeeding has been a wonderful journey and did a pretty good job taking off most of the 60 lbs I gained during my pregnancy.  But now I am ready to wean Vienna, kiss my pump goodbye, and drop the last 10 lbs of the baby weight.  And Whole30 seems like the perfect tool!

My eating habits have been based on feeding two people for a while now, so the Whole30 will truly be a reset for me.  I need to get back to the basics, focus on food as fuel, and kick my intense sugar cravings to the curb.  I am starting tomorrow 7/10 and ending 8/8!  I hope to blog a little, but I'll probably share more on my Busy, Bold, Blessed facebook page.

It's going to be SO HARD!  This will probably be my hardest Whole30 yet!  I know I am going to feel like crap while my body goes through a sugar/bread/alcohol withdrawal in the next few days.  I also know I am going to be tempted by fun summer events and free food (there's literally a free lunch at work on my first day tomorrow). Oh and I have a baby now!

So I'm taking steps to set myself up for success.  I'm rereading It Starts With Food to put the science behind the program fresh in my mind.  I've rallied the troops and I've got a group of 10 people doing it along with me in my private facebook support group (please let me know if you're interested in joining)!  I am meal planning simple things and trying to think of how I can do as little work in the kitchen as possible.  I ordered some sauces and other Whole30 staples from Whole Foods using the new Amazon Prime delivery service.

I am so excited and a little nervous.  But I am ready for the amazing changes I know I am about to experience!

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Belated Father's Day Shout Out

I wanted to post something nice on social media yesterday for Father's Day, but I didn't have time to construct the kind of post that Dave deserves.  So a day late... here we are!

Dave was a great father from Day 1.  In the hospital he changed just about every diaper.  He was more than supportive while I struggled to get the baby to breastfeed, assisting with every attempt, prepping all the pumping supplies each time, and continuing to keep me hydrated.

Once we got home, he was a natural at taking care of all his girls.  He took night shifts with the baby so I could sleep and never complained at all when I woke him up in the middle of the night.  He walked laps around the living room when the baby was fussy.  He supported my recovery in every way.  He cleaned the house so it always looked presentable for the guests we had coming to meet the baby.  He made sure the dog was cared for and loved.

He is so wonderful with Vienna.  You can just see how much he loves her every time he interacts with her.  He sings silly songs and reads to her.  He has taken over the bedtime routine.  He is totally fine handling her solo and has been since the beginning.  He has taken her to church, the mall, and the park without hesitation, which has allowed me to spend time out and about, helping me to feel more like myself and not just Mom.

But I always knew Dave would be an amazing father since he was such a great partner already.  He does way more laundry than I do, including baby laundry, towels, and our sheets.  He washes my pumping bottles and a lot of our other dishes daily.  The man scrubs our toilets!!!!  On top of all that he puts up with my crazy antics and tells me I'm beautiful all the time.

We are the luckiest.  Happy Father's Day Dave!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend Photo Dump

We took Vienna to the beach back in April, but it was freezing cold and windy.  This weekend we finally got her toes in the sand and then some sand in her mouth... and she loved it!  We went in with low expectations about how long she'd last, but she was perfectly pleasant for 4 hours and was even rocked to sleep by Gran and the ocean waves (which happen to match the white noise she falls asleep to every night).  The weekend was relaxing and wonderful until the weather and Vienna both turned sour Sunday night.  She cut one of her top front teeth and I think the second one is on it's way.  She's obviously in pain and has been unusually crabby, but hopefully she'll be feeling better once they're both out.  She turned 8 months today and I am honestly freaking out that she'll be a year in just a few short months.

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