2019 Summer Shred

And just like that…it’s that time of year again! Summer Shred 2019 officially kicked off today and will run until May 22, which is right before my birthday…and Memorial Day weekend! This is my 5th year in a row doing this and I swear every year the diet gets easier to follow. Last year my whole world was upside down and, as a result, the shred didn’t pan out. My head wasn’t in the game…at all. I followed the diet but I didn’t workout, and without both the results just won’t happen. I ultimately ended the shred before the 30 days were up and I wasn’t even phased – I even went as far as to purchase a one-piece bathing suit. This year, I’m going to try my damndest to fight through every mental obstacle I have and get it done. I want to be healthier and I want to feel more confident on the beach…and in life. It’s going to be an uphill battle – but I need to do this. My stomach is still relatively flat and my weight has stayed pretty much the same so the physical goals for this shred are simple: to gain back some of the muscle that I lost & lose body fat. But really, this is so much bigger than a beach-body challenge for me this year. After being through hell & back, all I can hope for with this challenge is to not just get my body back…but to get my mind right again once & for all.

L – 2017, my “best” body / R – now

If you’d like to follow along on this 30-day summer shred, I’ve listed a shopping list below of the foods that I will be eating. Keep in mind, this is what works for ME. I will try to post here and on my Instagram so as to provide more guidance if you’re following. However, if you’d like a more customized plan or have any questions as to what foods will work in addition to what I’ve listed, feel free to email me at thefight2befit@gmail.com and I will be more than happy to help!

  • Oats
  • Egg muffins
  • Brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potato
  • Avocado
  • Lettuce
  • Banza (chickpea pasta)
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Chicken, ground turkey, lean pork, tuna
  • Turkey jerky
  • Veggies (kale, asparagus, mushrooms, string beans, zucchini, brussels, eggplant, peppers, etc)
  • Almonds, cashews
  • Cottage cheese
  • PB
  • Quest Bars
  • GoMacro Bar
  • Unsweetened vanilla 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. Also not listed, Apple Cider Vinegar. My day will always begin with an ACV cocktail – 1 tbsp of ACV mixed with 12oz of cold water.*

Time to be better than what I thought was my best!

xo

Gina

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I am 1 in 10

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. 1 in 10 women suffer from this debilitating condition. I am one and this is my story.

My symptoms started very early, probably around 15 years old. I was told it was normal cramps and that it was part of being a woman. However, the pain was so bad I would often be doubled over and end up visiting the school nurse’s office. Soon after high school, I found myself very sick. It was my freshman year at SUNY New Paltz and I vividly remember being in so much pain I couldn’t leave my bed. The pain was centralized near my appendix, so when I finally gathered the strength to get to the infirmary on campus, they sent me to the nearest hospital for what they believed was appendicitis. After 6 hours and several tests, I was told that was not the cause of my pain. Upon my refusal to have further invasive testing done there, I was told to go to a gynecologist. The doctor believed that my problems likely stemmed from that as opposed to anything else. It would take years but that doctor turned out to be spot on.

I visited a gynecologist, as instructed, and after more testing I was diagnosed soon after with PCOS and immediately put on birth control to try to alleviate some of my symptoms. The doctor told me that my pain was derived from cysts that were building up & bursting. The pill only masked my issues. While the period pain greatly diminished, I began years worth of suffering from undetectable stomach issues. My stomach would often blow up to the size of a woman about to give birth…for reasons I still don’t know. I also continued to get random pains near my appendix. I visited 5 different stomach doctors and had every test except a colonoscopy done – only to be told nothing was wrong with me & that I was suffering from IBS. Having been told by the gynecologist that my right ovary that was polycystic, I tried (and failed) for years to link my hormonal condition & stomach issues together. Every doctor refused to support my theory and no one would help me. This went on for YEARS.

Fast forward to the fall of 2017, roughly 16 years after my first severe pain attack & diagnosis of PCOS. I had just lost my baby and was no longer on birth control. I began to get very sick.  I started noticing that slowly all of the issues that I had in high school were coming back…but this time twice as bad. I went to two different doctors about my pain. After a couple of months & several tests, the second doctor ultimately found a small polyp in my uterus, which they removed and biopsied for cancer. The biopsy turned out to be negative but I was still very sick. The pain was unbearable & I didn’t know what to do anymore. The doctor also couldn’t help me – but he did send me to someone who would. She was a specialist for pelvic pain & endometriosis. I started to research this condition and finally it all made sense.

As I did the research, I noticed that everything I had been suffering with and seeking help for, was classic to endometriosis. For years, I had been convinced my stomach issues were related to my hormonal problems. Now I had the science to back me up. One of the most classic symptoms of endo is appendix pain…and IBS. Two things I had been suffering with for over 15 years! When I explained everything to this new specialist, she nodded her head and told me that I presented classic endo symptoms & she could help me. I started to cry.  For years, it felt like no doctors believed me – finally I found someone who not only believed me but knew how to treat me! She had me begin a new pill, which mimicked birth control but contained different hormones. After two months, I didn’t feel better so she presented other options, one of which was another drug called Lupron…which puts your body into menopause. I lost it when she even suggested such a thing so I opted for the other option, which was to have a laproscopic endometrial excision & appendectomy instead. My appendix wasn’t appearing to be sick, but since that was where all of pain was located (and since you don’t need an appendix anyway) out it came. The recovery was miserable but as time went on, I got increasingly better. For the first time in my whole life, I had regular periods with minimal pain and almost non-existent stomach issues! I made the decision to not go back on birth control. With my age and history – I don’t need anything else standing in my way when (and if) the opportunity to have a baby presents itself. I went to my regular gynecologist a few months later to check on everything and upon doing a sonogram and blood work. It came back great! I was told my body was in the best condition it had been in years…and was given the green light to try for a baby!

Everything really has been great, up until two weeks ago. For the first time since my surgery, my period was late….and all out of whack. I started getting that appendix pain really bad again – which is very strange because I don’t have one anymore. My stomach has been acting up, to the point where even water is bothering me, & I’ve had the most miserable fatigue. I’m hoping this is just a temporary, fluke situation and not the start of really bad flare-ups. I’m in the process of undergoing several stomach tests as well as another sonogram to determine the cause of this stomach issue. I know endo can come back, but I’m hoping this is something else – something I won’t need another surgery for.

If you or someone you know is suffering, don’t give up! We know our bodies best – and we know when something isn’t right. It took me MANY years to finally get answers…but I have them now and I couldn’t be more grateful! Be honest with your doctor about your symptoms and don’t settle for answers you aren’t comfortable with. Seek out second opinions, if necessary. Do your homework and really pay attention to your body. It may take some time but I promise, it will be worth it in the end.

xo

Gina

New Year, Fresh Start

Happy New Year & Happy Blogiversary to us! I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I began this blog. SO much has changed but I thank you all for sticking with me through every step of this journey we call life. I promise you…and myself…a more positive & productive year ahead.

New Years has always represented a chance at a fresh start. I gave up on resolutions long ago, as they never stick. This year I have one primary goal – and that is to put my life back together, one jagged broken piece at a time. As you know, I relaunched my blog a couple of months ago to reflect my current life. Everything has changed so drastically in my life, it just didn’t seem right to continue blogging as if it were the same. Writing has been a good form of therapy for me and I know it has helped others who have had similar experiences. I’m still a personal trainer/nutritionist but everything has been very different since losing my baby – and my business reflected that. My focus is to stop being so stuck in sadness and use all of the bad as a way to rebuild my life. For every negative, I’m going to try my damndest to spin it in a positive way.

I spent 2018 reeling from losing a baby, getting my heart completely broken, & suffering from health issues which required countless tests and two surgeries. My mental health also took a serious downward spiral. I had more bad days than good, in which I didn’t want to even get out of bed. I spent a lot of time crying in my car and in the shower. Even when good things happened, I couldn’t enjoy them. This year, I am vowing to take control back of my life and of my happiness. I may not have the life that I want or the life that I would’ve had if my baby were in my arms, but I can try to make the most of the life I do have. I can’t spend every day miserable and expect things to get better. So that’s my goal. I know it’s not going to magically get better over night. There will likely still be bad days, and more crying episodes, but over time I’m hopeful it will get better. Before all of this happened, I was in the best shape of my life…physically AND mentally. That led to a happiness I had never felt and can’t begin to even describe. While I may not have that same happiness, who’s to say I can’t find a different happy?

I’ve already begun taking steps to improve life a little. After months of debating, I’ve made the very difficult decision to leave what’s become a toxic environment. I’m also trying to focus more on taking care of myself, which includes a commitment to exercise for 30 minutes per day, everyday. Coincidentally, my old workout gurus of Tone It Up are running their Love Your Body challenge, beginning January 14. It’s quite literally the most perfect timing, as I want to get back on track AND love my body once again.

My body (and mind) has really taken a beating. After I lost the baby, I just lost all motivation – like if my body was in such good shape and that happened…what was the point? It’s taken me a long time but I’m finally ready to get back on track. I just want to get healthy again. As I’ve said in other blogs, I don’t care about how shredded I am anymore but I do want to fit better in my clothes and be healthy, for when (and if) an opportunity to try for another baby presents itself. I have no idea what I weigh – and I don’t really care. I want to build my core strength & shoulder strength back up, so I can stop feeling so much pain, as well as work on my endurance. I’m not trying to run any races but I’d like to be in better shape. I’d also like to do yoga every night, as a way to not only stretch & strengthen muscles but to relax. Those are my small goals for now. I think with the help of my Tone It Up girls for extra motivation, it will go well. At least….that’s my hope! I intend on building on the workouts more once I can overcome my consistency issues. So far, so good – I’ve done some form of exercise (at-home workouts, core rehab, outdoor walk, and yoga) every night this week!

I know this is going to be an uphill battle but it’s time to start climbing instead of staring at the mountain in front of me. I’ve struggled with things before but this has been by far the worst thing I’ve ever had to go through. I’ve said many times over the years that the key is to get your mind right & everything else will follow. When your mind isn’t right, you won’t be consistent and everything sort of falls apart. This year has been proof of just that – and it’s time to start taking my own advice. I’m just going to do my best & take it one day at a time – and hopefully, over time, things will fall into place again.

Thanks again for sticking with me – here’s to another year of staying strong & staying in the fight!

xox

Gina

Finding Hope in a Hopeless Situation

This month is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. I’ve participated in two walks – one on October 6th in PA with a support group called Unite and another this past weekend with another group called Go Pink & Blue which is based out of Brooklyn. Each of these walks were special in their own ways but the one in Brooklyn was extra special. It took place on the Brooklyn bridge as the sun was setting and ended with a candle ceremony, in which we all spoke our baby’s names out loud and honored them in the most beautiful way.

Heart of candles for all of our angel babies

10.1.2017 – the day my life was forever changed

With both of these walks, I looked around and saw so much support. Families, friends, boyfriends/husbands…and there I was, all alone. For the walk in PA, I had my good friend by my side but for the Brooklyn walk I did it alone. Sure I had other angel moms there, who were very sweet and kind to me & whom I’ve exchanged information with to keep in touch. I also finally met a fellow angel mom, whom I’ve been so grateful to meet through my Facebook support groups and who has become a good friend. I met up with her in time for the candle ceremony – which was perfectly timed because I would’ve been a complete emotional mess otherwise. It’s hard to look around and see so much support and know that you don’t have any of that.

Now here’s where I open up and get really vulnerable. That’s hard for me to do – I don’t want anyone’s pity but I said I would share all of my story – including the struggles..and maybe one of you can relate…so here we go.

I’ve struggled a lot since April (the due date) but this past weekend was extra difficult – and it’s trickled into today. Doing this walk alone on Saturday…seeing the baby’s father early Sunday morning (which didn’t end well)…and now having to get through another day where I honor my angel baby alone today (it’s World Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day) – it’s more than I know how to handle. I’ve struggled with things my whole life but this broke me. And every time I see the baby’s father, my heart breaks even more. Not just because everything fell apart with him (that would be hard enough) but because I look at him and see all that I lost. Sometimes I just stare at him – thinking of that little girl in my dreams who looked just like him – and it destroys me. I will always wonder if the baby would’ve really looked like him – if it was really to be that little girl. I look at him and I get instant flashes of how different our lives would be with an almost 6-month old baby. I think of how different things would be with him – how he wouldn’t have turned so cold & distant but rather softened up and become less selfish. I think of how (if it really was that little girl) his whole world would be upside down…and how different he would be towards me (and all women). But that’s all I can do – think & wonder.

A little over a year ago, I had everything I wanted – my dream guy…my dream of being a mother…complete happiness – things I never thought were possible. Then within the blink of an eye…it was all gone. It’s like some sick joke God wanted to play on me. I went from the happiest that I’ve ever been to the most miserable. I’m left to have daily interaction with a guy who wants nothing to do with me, largely because of our baby. Losing the baby caused me to all but hate my body for what happened – and having him be so distant/cold and be seemingly disgusted (which is my interpretation) by me, only feeds more into my insecurity. I’m left to wonder about SO many things it makes my head hurt. I barely sleep. I go from eating nothing one day to eating everything the next. I never want to workout or do anything really. I cry ALL the time. I’ve gotten to this awful place mentally where I don’t even want to get out of bed most days – because what’s the point. I’ve been going through the motions of a life I don’t want to live. All I ever wanted was to be a mom – that got ripped from me and rather than try to have another baby….I lost the guy too. I’m left with nothing but what if’s – and it tortures me every single day. No one really understands – I’m told to move on with my life, be strong for my baby, etc… but none of that is possible. I feel really hopeless and wonder what the point really is. I’m 35 – which is already bad news in baby years. I now know that I have two conditions which cause infertility (I’ve known about PCOS for years but after I lost the baby, I was diagnosed with Endo too). And, if those weren’t enough, now I’m all alone. I can’t just keep trying and hope to not only get pregnant…but that a baby stays put the next time…I don’t even know if there will be a next time. Every day that passes I get older and feel more hopeless.

Last week in my blog, I said it would be day one again – that I was going to focus on me and get my pre-baby/grief body back. That motivation literally lasted for 2 days. I try to be strong – to use my pain as something positive and help others. I have always struggled with sharing things like this, as I don’t like attention or pity. Writing has always proven to be good therapy and I know other angel moms can relate – so I’m sharing for us all. I’m sharing so you know that you’re not alone. Maybe you struggle to get out of bed everyday or find it hard to be a functional member of society.  You’re not alone – because I do too. I’ve gone through the motions of everyday life ever since this happened last year – hoping that one day I’ll actually love living my life again. That day hasn’t come – and the longer this goes on the more hopeless and sad I feel. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking – me too. And that’s why I’m being open and sharing this – for you and for me. When we lost our babies we all got initiated into this club that we never asked to be part of – but we’re in it together. My wish is to somehow find hope in this hopeless situation…I wish that for me and for you ❤

xox

Gina

 

Day One…Again

This past year has broken me in ways that are indescribable. I consider myself to be pretty strong but this was more than I knew how to handle. I’ve tried repeatedly to go back into the gym and on some sort of routine but I failed every time. Shoulder pains…endo pains…my fucked up head…it all stopped me. But here we are – a year + week post-baby loss. It’s time to kick my own ass back into gear.

Started from the bottom…now we’re here: May 2017 >> September 2017 >> Now

Last summer, I was in the best shape of my life & shooting workout videos for YouTube while being the happiest I’ve ever been. Then I got pregnant…something I didn’t think was possible. I stopped working out, in an attempt to try to prevent what ultimately happened anyway. Once I lost the baby I lost my motivation. I’ll be honest…I still haven’t found it. I don’t want to be 200+ lbs ever again but I also hate the workouts that my body is physically able to do. My bum shoulder still limits me in frustrating ways. Nonetheless, it’s time. No more excuses, no more bullshit. I may not be able to do my bootcamp/heavy lifting that I like…but I’ll have to experiment until I find new things that I enjoy.

The hardest part will be keeping myself motivated. I barely sleep and my diet could be much better. Today is a good day to start – not because it’s Monday but because it’s a hard day. I got little to no sleep last night – woke up a million times crying and definitely didn’t want to get out of bed….forced myself to get dressed and come to work. It’s that kinda day. Maybe you have these days too – maybe you’re having one today. Well this is my motivation for you…and for me.

I promised myself and I promised my baby that I was gonna get my life back and turn my pain into something positive. So here we go. Today is day one – again. 🙏🏻

-Gina

A Letter to My Angel On Your 1st Angelversary

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To my baby,

One year ago, on this very day, heaven gained an angel. I never believed much in angels and the like before, but I sure do now. You’d be five months old now and I know you’d be the cutest baby anyone had ever seen. You may not have been with me for long but you made a impact that will last a lifetime.

The morning of October 1, 2017 started out like every other had over those 9 weeks but something was different this day. Call it mother’s intuition or just knowing my body…but I knew something was wrong. You see, I felt your presence almost immediately but that morning…I didn’t. I kept telling your daddy something wasn’t right – I thought that I may be losing you. He did his best to reassure me and calm me down as we went about our morning. I was very sick that morning, more so than usual, and I had more pain than usual too. Despite us being busy, your daddy took good care of me making sure that I had plenty of water and trying to help me as much as he could. The discomfort got worse with time and he offered to bring me to the hospital but I wouldn’t go. I didn’t want to be there for the inevitable. Sure enough, that afternoon you were gone. I went numb. I feel guilty sometimes – maybe I should’ve went to the hospital that day…or maybe I should’ve had the blood test instead of a sonogram so early on. Maybe I would’ve had better care and maybe I could’ve saved you. I know that’s silly – that nothing can be done to prevent this sort of thing. Still, my heart breaks everyday that you’re not here in my arms.

I got the confirmation on the day that I would’ve seen your little body & heard your heartbeat for the first time. Instead of seeing all of those wonderful things, I got the confirmation that I was pregnant…and that I lost you. It broke me in ways I can’t begin to describe. I always will wonder what you would’ve been, if you would’ve been the little girl in my dreams that looked just like your daddy. Every time I see your daddy, I think of you and picture you guys decked out in matching wrestling shirts, just the way it was in my dream. I imagine how different life would be – and how amazing it would be to watch you grow. We would’ve taught you all about wrestling and sports, while giving you plenty of princess tiaras and barbies. I would’ve made sure you learned about life…but not the hard way like we both had to. You truly would’ve had everything that your daddy and I never did…and so much more.

I’ve spent most of this year questioning everything but the one thing I never have to question is the love that I have for you. You changed mommy & daddy from the minute we knew first about you – and we won’t ever be the same. I hope you are safe in your great grandma and grandpa’s arms, playing with little Coco. I hope you see how much mommy misses you and please know that daddy does too – he just doesn’t know how to show it. I’ll try to be stronger for you with each passing day, so you don’t have to see me cry so much. Please keep sending me little signs and watch over us both. I promise to keep your memory alive for as long as I live ❤️

Love always,

Your mommy

END the Silence

endometriosis_awareness_month_banner-224x224

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