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*

2018 Summer Shred!

It’s finally spring weather!! That means one thing – it’s Summer Shred time! I’ve done this shred for the past 4 years and every year I learn and improve for the next. Last year, I really got it right so I’m going to mimic what I did and tweak the workouts to be more functional, in accordance to what my body can actually do.

In 2014, I embarked on a 4-week shred and Mission: Hot Body challenge. I mimicked the very strict & regimented diet and workouts of bikini competitors. Super clean eating , 2-a-day workouts…you name it, I did it. It was crazy hard…but I got it done. After 4 weeks of extremely hard work, I had abs and was the leanest & most cut I’ve ever been. The problem was that as soon as the challenge ended, it was my birthday and with it came ice cream cake & plenty of drinks throughout the weekend. To top that off, just one month later I ended up seriously injuring my shoulder…which I have since had surgery to correct. Within two months, all of that hard work seemed to be for nothing. The next two years, I did slimdowns but couldn’t get it quite right. I still worked out and I continued to eat fairly well, but my body would only look how I wanted it to for a short time. Last year, that changed. Now, a certified nutritionist, I have combined my life experience and added a lot more knowledge to the bank. Last year, I did a 6-week shred that was strict…but didn’t totally eliminate things. I limited dairy and sugar. I upped my protein and kept my carbs early in the day. I lost about 10% body fat and about 10-15 lbs in that time span. My workouts were done with a fellow trainer (who is my magical ART guy as well), so while they were intense they were monitored. I killed it and looked great for my birthday…and throughout the summer.

However, the end of summer & end of year didn’t go well for me. Life events and health issues transpired causing a lot less workouts and a lot less motivation.

So here we go again. 4 weeks until my birthday…so a 4-week shred shall begin. I’m going to follow the same plan as last year for my diet (shopping list is below). My workouts will vary based on how I feel health-wise and injury-wise. There will likely be a lot more cardio along with some lower impact resistance training worked into the mix. I’ll post everyday for the first week, as I did last year, to give anyone following along a good gauge on what I’m doing.

In general, I eat pretty well…I’m just not super strict. For the next 4 weeks, I will be cutting out most sugar, alcohol, and limiting my caffeine & dairy intake. The food scale will also come back. Along with MFP, I found the food scale to be extremely helpful in keeping myself on track and accountable.

My ultimate goal with this shred, like every other, is to lose fat while gaining my lean muscle…and motivation…back. I’ve been pretty sick so I’m starting a little later than I planned but we begin TODAY (April 24) and go until May 23 (my birthday). You can continue the rest of that week if you choose, but since that’s my birthday…that’s when mine will end.

This is a list of the foods that I will be sticking to throughout the next 4 weeks, in case you want to reference it for food shopping:

  • Oats
  • Egg whites
  • Tuna
  • Brown Rice
  • Avocado
  • Lettuce
  • Chickpeas
  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet potato
  • Quinoa
  • Chicken
  • Ground Turkey
  • Veggies (kale, asparagus, string beans, zucchini, brussels, cauliflower, peppers, butternut squash)
  • Shrimp
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Cottage cheese
  • PB
  • Rice cakes
  • Frozen blueberries
  • RX Bars/Quest Bars
  • Unsweetened cashew milk/almond milk

**Not listed here are my kitchen staples (balsamic vinegar, spray/oil, hot sauce, mustard, spices, etc.) as well as my protein powder /BCAAs.**

I’m happy to help you with your own customized macros, meal plan & workout guide! Email me at TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com for more information. If you just want to follow along with me & be accountability buddies, that’s cool too! Shoot me a message so we can help each other out! Let’s get beach body ready & Fight to be Fit together!

-Gina

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