Still in the Fight

Losing a baby & getting your heart broken will cripple you in unimaginable ways. I consider myself a pretty strong person but this past year broke me. Every day since has been a struggle. I wake up in tears more often than I’d like to admit. I look back at pictures of the girl I was before I got pregnant – hot body, healthy, and happy. I was so damn happy – it’s like you can feel it through the pictures. I had everything I always dreamed of – then it was all gone in the blink of an eye. Since then, I’ve become a shadow of that blissfully happy, carefree girl.

A few weeks ago I was inspired by some female wrestlers, specifically the two who recently had babies. That inspiration hasn’t really led to much of a consistent routine though. I’ve done several at-home workouts, a few outdoor walks, and a gym workout. I keep telling myself to get my shit together. I keep trying to force myself to workout, to not just become healthier but to provide myself with a much-needed distraction and stress-release. Except sometimes that stresses me out even more. I just don’t have the motivation anymore. That hot body I once worked so hard for…it failed me. As a result, I lost everything that I cared about. I’ve been trying to just go through the motions, piece together my broken heart one jagged edge at a time – but it’s almost like I’m stabbing myself more every step of the way. That sounds super dramatic but that’s how it feels. I feel stuck. I want to get my life back…but sometimes I don’t even know what that means anymore. My priorities have completely shifted & so have my interests…and my life.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from my gyno with the results of my hormonal blood panel. It seems that my weight loss put my PCOS at-bay. My other hormones all seem to be in check and I was told that by the look of both my sonogram and blood work, my egg count was still relatively high. I’ve had three doctors (this one included) all tell me that based on how I conceived a baby on birth control, with two conditions that cause infertility, I should have no trouble once I actually do try. There is (unfortunately) no way to determine if I will be able to hold the baby or not – as I do not have anything currently indicating otherwise. However, this is all bittersweet. That blood work is a snapshot in time…right now. So right now – my periods are regular, body is in check, PCOS seems to have disappeared…if I were able to try, I’d probably get pregnant. No guarantees, of course, but it seems more likely now than ever before. Except I’m not with the baby’s father anymore…nor am I with anyone else. There is no way to “try” for a baby right now and it concerns me that when the time does come…however long that may take…maybe I won’t be able to anymore.

The doctor asked if I was still exercising as much and I said no – not since I got pregnant. She told me to begin that again and do what I was doing before…if it happened once, it could happen again. She also suggested starting either a multi-vitamin or prenatal along with vitamin d. It was a conversation with a shred of hope (and some defeat) that’s put things into perspective.

Last summer >> Now

I don’t have the same motivation or goals that I used to…and that will likely not change. I don’t really give a damn about having some shredded, hot body. That hot body from last summer was working out and eating healthy almost everyday.  That hot body may have failed me when I lost the baby…but that hot body also got pregnant, which is something I always thought would be impossible for me. While I may not give a shit about having that hot body anymore…I can spin the negative and turn it into something productive. Maybe if I can get my shit together and consistently workout again…when the time comes, it can happen again – and maybe now, with the doctor’s help, it will stay put. My current at-home workouts could be much better than they are…but I’m trying. Sometimes it’s just 10 or 15 minutes, and I can barely hold a 20 second plank anymore (hell, my core is total shit since that surgery) – but it’s much better than doing nothing at all. It’s been an uphill battle – I workout for 2-3 days and usually that’s that…but I’m using every last ounce of fight left in me to push forward.

My goals right now are pretty simple. I just want to be able to fit comfortably in my clothes again. I’d like to build my core strength back up. That’s important for everyday living but it will be especially beneficial when (and if) I get pregnant/have a baby. Ultimately though, I just want to be healthy. My body has enough obstacles – it doesn’t need my being overweight and/or unhealthy as another. It’s been 2 days – and so far so good. I plan on continuing with early morning workouts, so as to give myself no extra excuses (IE: being exhausted after a long day of working two jobs). Here’s hoping it sticks this time.

xo

Gina

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New Beginnings

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Thank you all for taking this journey with me. I started this blog about 4 1/2 years ago with the goal of offering support and providing hope that regardless of your struggles – it IS possible. To date, I’ve lost and kept off approximately 80 lbs; from squeezing into a size 14/16 to fitting comfortably in a size 4. I suffer from PCOS, IBS, and Endometriosis. I also struggle a lot with body dysmorphia. However, through it all, I was able to get it done and I decided to become a certified nutritionist & personal trainer a few years ago so I could help others in their own journey.

The purpose of this blog was always to share my experience – from the triumphs to the struggles and everything in between. With that, I’ve decided to change the direction of this blog, so as to be true to me. I’ve been MIA on here and pretty distant on social media over the last few months as I’ve contemplated what I wanted to do. You see, last October I suffered a miscarriage. It’s been the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to go through and it’s completely changed me & shifted my priorities. Despite the lack of support and all of the negativity around me, I’ve decided to be more open and share my experiences, so as to help others who may also be having a rough time. Other blogs & support groups on FB have really helped me this year, so I would love to pay it forward in any way that I possibly can to spread the word on an otherwise taboo subject & help other angel moms to see they aren’t alone.

The new blog will launch on my angelversary, October 1. We will still Fight to be Fit, because fitness is just as much (if not more so) mental than it is physical.  Sometimes things happen that completely rock your world – and change life as you knew it. That’s where I’m at now; I hope you will all continue to follow along through my experience with grief & how it’s changed me, as I embark on my journey back to life. I will also share some letters and quotes, as a way to honor my angel baby.  Regardless of how hard it is for me, I promise to keep it real – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Everyone has their own story & journey…but we are all in this together ❤

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

*In loving memory of my angel, Baby R – 10/1/2017*

Going Through the Motions

Here we are, nearly at my birthday and nearly at the end of another shred. Unlike the last three years, I’m definitely not in the same shape that I usually am at this point. This shred has not gone according to plan at all. I’ve followed my diet plan but I’ve barely worked out. I’ve used the excuse of time and being tired and being injured…which ARE all true…but the truth is I’m just not motivated.

As detailed in my last blog, these past 7 months have been the hardest of my entire life. It’s honestly felt like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from. As time has gone on, I’ve felt stronger overall but I still hit rough patches. Some days are just harder than others. Mother’s Day just passed and I didn’t expect to have as hard of a day as I did. It was crippling. Some days I wake up in a good mood, ready to face the day and move forward in a positive way; others are the exact opposite.  I stumbled upon another woman’s blog, in which she described precisely how I feel in regards to exercise. I’ve been in pretty good shape since losing weight, albeit slightly injured. I have worked out as much as I could and have followed a pretty good diet. This past summer, that all changed. I stopped working out once I realized what was going on with my body, in an attempt to try to prevent what ultimately happened anyway. I never started again. I filmed 1 or 2 more workout videos but that was it. I haven’t been consistent at all since everything happened – and the truth is, I don’t even care. My body failed me, despite being in good shape. So part of me feels like there’s no point.  I never thought about it in that way before…but it all makes so much sense.

Now, if I’m being logical I know my being in good shape didn’t have any impact on what transpired…but that’s genuinely how I feel. I feel that my body just totally failed me. The pain that I have endured physically hasn’t helped. I was referred to a specialist who believes that I have endometriosis, and has put me on a treatment plan to try & prolong surgery. Considering how much pain I’m in everyday, that surgery will likely happen sooner than later. It can be downright debilitating at times. Could I be doing more when I DO feel well? Absolutely…but I’m not. That’s where the mental breakdown comes in. I checked out. I’m making no excuse about it – I just totally tapped out. I have stuck to my diet plan and since beginning a new (second) job, have been walking every single day, that weather permits…but that’s where it ends. I’ve done a couple of at-home workouts here & there but nothing consistently. As a result, I don’t look the way I wanted to look. Quite frankly, I look nothing like I’ve looked at the start of the last few summers…and I can’t say I care all that much.

I’d like to guarantee some miraculous comeback story….but that just isn’t realistic. Instead, I will guarantee that I will continue to try my very best to get through every day – one day at a time. Some days will be better than others…and I’m gonna just run with that. On my less painful days, maybe I’ll force myself to do bigger workouts. On the days that I feel crappy mentally or physically, maybe I’ll stick with some cardio and try to walk the sadness out. Those are my new goals and I think they’re much more attainable as we head into summertime. My biggest goal is that I can stop going through the motions of life and that one day my rehearsed smile, will be real and that I will actually love life again.

 

 

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Angel of Mine

Nearly 7 months have passed and it still doesn’t feel real. Today, April 29, would’ve been your birthday. Instead of being in a hospital holding you in my arms, I sit here with tears in my eyes and a heaviness in my heart. I’ll never get to know who you would’ve turned out to be. I never got to see a sonogram picture or hear a heartbeat. I had many vivid dreams that you were a girl and while I never got actual proof of that, I know you would’ve been the most adorable baby anyone had ever seen. I hoped that you’d have your daddy’s blue eyes & light hair to go with the same outgoing, fun personality that we both have. I may not have had confirmation of your gender but I had a beautiful name in mind, should you have been the little girl in my dreams. You weren’t around long, but you changed your mommy & daddy’s life, as they knew it, forever. I may not know much for sure…but I do know that you were loved more than you can imagine.

Today marks the end of National Infertility Week. I am 1 in 4. This is by far the hardest blog I’ve ever written. I’ve made the attempt to type everything out & share this story several times over the last few months but I just couldn’t bring myself to write finish it. However, I know how isolating this feels and if sharing my story can help even one person out there to know they aren’t alone…it’s worth the pain it takes to write. After all, with experience comes knowledge & knowledge should shared.

I don’t cry as much these days but I still feel a sadness & emptiness inside. It’s a heaviness that’s hard to describe. I don’t have as many “bad” days and that may be due, in part, to the face that I’ve also come to realize that God may have, in fact, “known better.” As the weeks and months went by, I continued to feel physical pain in my lower abdomen which got progressively worse. After seeking help from two different doctors and having numerous tests, they found a polyp in my uterus which had to be removed via hysteroscopy. While there isn’t any way to know for sure, my doctor believes this could have led to my loss. I try to take comfort in knowing that my little one could’ve been harmed had it not happened. I also know that had it not happened I wouldn’t have investigated…and gotten answers to my on-going health issues.

Let’s back up. Throughout high school, I suffered tremendously every month. I had pain so bad that I would be doubled over in the nurse’s office, often leading to my going home. After high school, I had an episode of pain so bad that the college I was at in upstate NY thought I had appendicitis and rushed me to the ER. It wasn’t appendicitis and I was sent home. A few days later I went to a gynecologist who found cysts and after several tests, diagnosed me with PCOS. I was put on birth control and my symptoms were pretty much under control thereafter.

This past summer, despite birth control and all logic…I got pregnant. I was really scared. Not about having the baby…but about carrying it. I suffered a miscarriage in my early 20s, while on the birth control patch (why was that a thing?!) and combined with my age and PCOS…I knew it was a recipe for a repeat. Still, I did what I could to take care of myself. The pee-stick tests were all coming back negative (aside from one that had a very slight pink line) and a very early sonogram didn’t show anything. Why didn’t I go for a blood test? I don’t know. I thought a sonogram would be better…just in case I wasn’t actually pregnant. I was wrong. I had severe morning sickness and an adversion to coffee (of all things). I was also starting to get a little pooch and my boobs…well, they came back to life in the most painful way. I should’ve had the blood test to get the confirmation and extra care that I probably needed. I won’t lie – that has weighed heaviest on me. I genuinely thought that I was doing the right thing but maybe had we had the full confirmation, I could’ve been under a doctor’s care sooner & prevented what happened. I know that’s ridiculous and that ultimately these things can’t be prevented. Still, when you go through this type of loss you have feelings of guilt & genuinely blame yourself. It takes a long time to come to grips that there was really nothing you could’ve done.  Hell I still have days where I wonder if I could’ve done something different. That helpless feeling doesn’t make the situation any easier – it actually makes it worse. No one talks about that…but it’s real.

The reality of pregnancy was sinking in and I was getting really excited about this little one. Despite being so sick that I could barely eat or function normally, I knew it would be worth it in the end. Little did I know that the end..and my worst fear…would come just 8/9 weeks later. Early October came…and so did the bleeding. At first, it wasn’t a lot of blood so I didn’t think too much of it but within hours I was all but hemorrhaging. Knowing how the hospitals around me are..I waited it out a little. I figured if the bleeding slowed down, I’d be okay. The blood was extremely heavy, soaking through pad after pad. Still, I waited a little while. It didn’t totally slow down but within a few hours, it slowed enough to where I didn’t think that I needed to go. What I knew for sure was that it wasn’t a regular period by any means – especially when I saw the grayish mass. I knew what was happening. I was losing my baby.

A sonogram and blood test a couple of weeks later confirmed it. The weeks and months that followed were some of the hardest that I’ve ever had to go through. I put on my game face and went to work every single day but the minute I’d get in my car…I’d be inconsolable. Thankfully, I had a great support system/partner by my side through it all. I truly don’t know how I would have made it without him. The whole situation was hard on both of us, for very different reasons. The holidays, which came about a month later, were especially hard on me but once New Years came I made up my mind to not bring this sadness into 2018 and to give the guy…and myself…a break from it all.

Throughout this whole ordeal, I was experiencing dull to moderate pain in my lower abdomen. I didn’t think much of it, figuring this is what happens after a miscarriage sometimes. However, as the months went by, the pain got worse. I sought out a new doctor who, after 2 sonograms, told me I needed a hysteroscopy to remove a polyp in my uterus. Once removed, they would biopsy this polyp for cancer. That word completely shook me. We went ahead with the procedure and I was a nervous wreck. First I lose a baby…now a cancer scare. A couple of weeks later, I had another sonogram and follow up for my results. Thankfully, it wasn’t cancer. However, the pain persisted and while I do have cysts (common from my PCOS), they shouldn’t cause this much grief. My doctor sent me to another gynecologist who specializes in pain management, specifically that of pelvic pain & endometriosis. After a very thorough consultation and examination, she determined that I most likely have endometriosis. She even told me that my “appendix pain,” something that I’ve suffered with since the age of 18, was one of the most common and classic symptoms of a person with endo. She put me on a hormone treatment, which is essentially birth control but with progestin instead of estrogen. She also put me on a regimen of Aleve to manage my pain better. It’s her hope to prolong the surgery, or laparoscopy, as long as we can.

As far as the loss goes, I have been getting better everyday but now that the actual due date is here, I’m a mess all over again. Truth is, this shook me more than anything ever has. With every passing day and sharp pain that I feel, I worry that I may not be able to have babies at all. The doctors all feel otherwise, stating that getting pregnant is the hardest part and clearly I didn’t have that issue. However, I’m more concerned for my ability to carry the baby to term. There’s no way to even determine that…and it kills me. We’ve come so far in so many ways with medicine but we’re so behind in others. Women can suffer numerous losses and not have an explanation why…just because everything “looks good” or “shouldn’t be a problem.” It’s horrible.

Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy is by far the hardest thing a woman has to face. What people don’t realize is that you form a bond with that baby immediately. Your body starts to change. You start making these plans and daydreaming about what your baby will look like & grow up to be. Then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over. Sometimes it feels like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from.

To anyone reading this, please know that you aren’t alone. Your feelings are valid – you aren’t crazy. Despite what you may think or feel…this really isn’t your fault. Most people, including your partner, can’t understand how this feels and while they may try to be supportive, it doesn’t make it better. Above all please remember, you don’t have to “get over it” until you are ready. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! The healing process differs for everyone and its no ones right to dictate how long that should take. Allow yourself time to be sad but don’t stop living. I have gone through the motions for months, living my life the way I always have. I know that one day things will feel normal again – and I look forward to that day for me…& for you.

Stay strong ❤

-Gina

*In loving memory of my angel baby, ‘Baby R’, and all of the other angel babies watching over us in Heaven*

END the Silence

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March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. It is during this month where we raise awareness to an illness which affects millions of women worldwide.

1 in 10 women in the US are living with endometriosis and sadly, they are often suffering in silence. It is a disorder that is commonly misdiagnosed as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or simply ‘period pains.’ It can take an average of 10 years between symptom onset & proper diagnosis.

Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside instead. Endometriosis growths bleed in the same way the lining inside of your uterus does every month. This can cause swelling and pain because the tissue grows and bleeds in an area where it cannot easily get out of your body. The growths may also continue to expand and cause problems, such as: cysts, inflammation, problems in the intestines and bladder, or formation of scar tissue & adhesions which may not only cause pain, it may also make it difficult to become pregnant.

The pain that women with endometriosis suffer, which can often be severe and feel sharp or stabbing, occurs in the pelvis or belly and usually won’t go away with medication. Some women with mild cases have intense pain, while others with advanced cases may have little pain or even no pain at all. Other symptoms include excessive bleeding during and/or between periods, backache, leg pain, painful sex, painful bowel movements, and infertility.

While there is no known cause, there are several factors which place you at greater risk for developing this illness. These include:

  • Never giving birth
  • Starting your period at an early age or beginning menopause early
  • Short menstrual cycles
  • Having high levels of estrogen
  • Family history of endometriosis
  • Any medical condition that prevents the normal passage of menstrual flow out of the body
  • Uterine abnormalities

Unfortunately, there is no cure but there are several treatment options. The doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and take the one of the following steps to determine if, in fact, you do have endometriosis:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Imaging test, such as ultrasound or MRI
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbs like cinnamon twig or licorice root, or supplements, including thiamine (vitamin B1), magnesium, or omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Lowering your estrogen level by exercising regularly, taking birth control, or avoiding large amounts of alcohol and caffeine
  • Laparoscopy

If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of endometriosis, contact your doctor immediately. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can be on the path to feeling better.

References:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656
https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis
https://www.endostrong.com/#end

Winter Detox, Week 2

What a crazy few days! My apologies on the delay of this next blog. I’m sure you were all anxious to see what I’ve been eating 🙂

The first weekend of this winter detox went very smooth. Weekends are always a time where I get together with friends and (try to) de-stress from the long week. This weekend was no different. Here’s how I managed to stick to my plan and still have fun:

Friday:

Breakfast– egg white burrito (egg whites, low carb wrap, a little cheese, pepper strips, 1/4 avocado). protein apple juice. iced coffee

Lunch– turkey sausage (4 oz), brown rice (2 oz), butternut squash (2 oz), green beans (2 oz). Edamame (1/2 cup)

Dinner– rotisserie chicken (4 oz), butternut squash ( 1oz), brussels (1 oz), 1/4 avocado. lime seltzer

Snacks– rx bar, protein brownie, frozen blueberries with crystal light lemonade, 2 rice cakes with pb

*I did a very modified leg day, mostly using bands and body weight. My lower back was not amused

Saturday:

Breakfast– oats with pb, iced coffee with almond milk (dunkin), protein apple juice

Lunch– rotisserie chicken (4oz), brown rice (2 oz), 1/4 avocado

Dinner – Muscle Maker Grill: Mardi Gras Cajun Salad, 1/2 side of edamame. Raspberry lime seltzer

Snacks– Jenny Craig white cheddar popcorn, 2 rice cakes with almond butter, RX bar

Exercise– 30 minutes on the recumbent (aka old lady) bike, stretching/pt exercises

Sunday –  I love me football Sunday and no detox was going to stop that. especially for playoffs. Here’s how that checked out:

Breakfast(later than usual): City Island Diner – egg white omelette with pepper jack cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes. iced coffee

Lunch(also later than usual to coincide with football): Miller’s Ale House – Grilled Zingers (sauce on the side), 1/2 order.  Key Lime chicken salad – which I took things out of so it was just grilled chicken, cheese, tortilla strips, and lettuce. I had them put my dressing on the side and i drizzeled just a little of that and the leftover wing sauce. Drink of choice? Selzer with lime 🙂

Snacks– protein apple juice, 2 rice cakes with pb.

All in all a very good weekend, well spent with good friends. I was struggling for protein during week 1 so I made sure to up the anti for week 2. I even made egg muffins! Here’s how the week looks so far:

Monday:

Breakfast– 1 egg with a sprinkle of cheese, protein coffee (yay!)

Lunch– ground turkey (4 oz), brown rice (2 oz), green beans (1.5 oz), 2 mushrooms quartered

Dinner– rotisserie chicken (4 oz), lettuce, 1/2 small avocado, 2 mushrooms quartered. edamame (1 cup)

Snacks– quest bar, protein brownie, rice cake (no pb)

Exercise– stretches/PT exercises

Tuesday:

Breakfast– egg white muffins (2 per serving), protein coffee

Lunch– ground turkey (4 oz), brown rice (2 oz), green beans (1.5 oz)

Dinner– tilapia (4 oz), lettuce, sprinkle of cheese, brussels (1 oz)

Snacks– quest bar, rx bar, rice cake with pb, cold brew with almond milk (dunkin)

Exercise– stretches (PT)

Today:

Breakfast– egg white muffins & protein coffee

Lunch– tuna (lemon pepper pouch), brown rice (2 oz), green beans (2 oz)

Dinner– salad with ground turkey (2 oz), Brussels (5), sprinkle of cheese, 5 croutons, 2 mushrooms quartered. Raspberry lime seltzer

Snacks– 1/2 pack of lightly salted almonds, quest bar, cold brew with almond milk, triple zero Greek yogurt, rice cake with pb

Exercise– PT

I will follow up with you all again this weekend. Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you may have!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

Winter Detox – Day 1

Happy Monday & happy day 1 of our winter detox! The first day is in the books! I hope yours went better than mine. I’ve never been so happy to start a detox/shred.

As with many Mondays during football season, I woke up bloated and feeling pretty crappy. The combination of fattening, fried foods & beer always makes my stomach unhappy. That SHOULD stop me…but it doesn’t. We only live once, right? I love football sundays and they wouldn’t be the same without the delicious foods and beer. Thankfully, I can make it through 2 more weeks without an issue. Superbowl Sunday may cause some temptation but I’m already planning some alternatives so I don’t kill my stomach…and this detox.

I started my day with water. It’s the best way to start reducing that bloat and start ridding your body of the garbage. I wasn’t really feeling up to a big breakfast but it’s worse to not eat at all, so I had a rice cake with a tsp of peanut butter. I managed to get in 10 minutes on the stairmaster before my neck gave me grief. That grief lasted the rest of the day but luckily, the stomachache did not. So, around 2pm, I had my lunch (4 oz of ground turkey, 2 oz of brown rice, 1 mushroom quartered, and 1.5 oz of string beans). This was followed 2 hours later with a snack (quest bar). I wasn’t going to have coffee but the migraine was too unbearable so I got a cold brew with almond milk – no sugar or flavors. I only ended up having 1/4 of it. I felt like having eggs as the day went on so I had breakfast for dinner -3 egg whites, 3 mushrooms quartered, 2 oz of butternut squash, 1/4 small avocado. I also ate a lot of my sea salt edamame. I was still hungry (probably because I didn’t eat breakfast) and low on protein, so I had 2 oz of sliced turkey (and a protein cookie) to end the day. I drank 84 oz of water in total for the whole day.

Not every day will be perfect. Some days it will be harder than others to resist temptation or to motivate yourself. Focus on the end goal and it will get easier to push through. 1 day down…29 to go. Hoping for a smoother start to day 2 tomorrow – we got this!

-Gina