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

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

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

New Year, New Healthier US!

Happy New Year and happy blogiversary to this little engine that could. 4 years ago, I started this blog in the hopes that by sharing my story & struggles I could help inspire some of you. I just want to show you that despite every obstacle & hardship, it IS possible.

A lot has changed over the last 4 years. When I started this blog, I was in the middle of my own weight loss journey. I was down 50lbs and starting to really figure it out. Since then, I’ve completed a Spartan race, WipeOut race, 4-week bodybuilding prep (did not actually compete), ran my first 5k – coming in first in my age group, and became a personal trainer. I went from a size 12/14 to a size 2/4 and dropped about 80lbs along the way. This journey saw some incredible highs…and lows. In that WipeOut race, I ended up with a SLAP tear which I didn’t get checked out (and operated on) until 2 years later. I also have had a variety of issues in my personal & professional life, which have caused me to slack on this blog from time to time.

2017 was a year filled with some of the very best…and worst…moments of my entire life. Despite my best intention, I haven’t posted a lot on here…especially recently. Truth is, I’ve had a rough couple of months in my personal life. However, after a lot of thinking, I’ve decided to share with you all. The purpose of this blog was, as I said, to help people, so while I tend to keep my private life private…maybe sharing this can help someone see that they aren’t alone. I will detail everything in an upcoming blog. This past year also saw me recover from major shoulder surgery…only to be set back further. I’ve recently been diagnosed with bulging discs in my neck. This has caused incredible pain to my traps & shoulder…and is likely the cause of the migraines that I get. I don’t need surgery but it’s going to be a long road to get back to normal. Suffice to say, I am happy to begin a new year and hopefully begin a new chapter in this book of life.

I start physical therapy again tomorrow. This injury is a HUGE setback to the intense workouts that I’m accustomed to. So, I’ve decided to begin working on some functional stuff. I’ve had terrible balance throughout my entire life – so I’ll be starting there. I;d like to make my ankles less wobbly & strengthen my core. I can’t lift heavy or run, but I’m determined to figure out a HIIT workout that I CAN do. I will be trying to design a different plan to keep myself motivated.

In addition, I will be hosting a winter “detox” beginning January 15. Unlike a lot of the typical new year cleanses and detoxes, this doesn’t involve any juice or extreme diet. Instead, we will be focused on super clean eating; Detox the body from the holiday goodies…and garbage…that we’ve filled it with and get the new year off to a healthy start with a nice clean slate. I will be posting a shopping list next week to get everyone started. Similar to my last shred, I will post everything that I eat daily. I’m not calling this a shred since I can’t do those type of workouts. However, I will be doing whatever I possibly can and posting that here as well. Anyone interested in joining me on my mission to healthier living, shoot me a message – thefight2befit@gmail.com – and I will try to help you out!

Thanks for following my journey! Let’s make 2018 our best & healthiest year yet!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

How to Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season for family get-togethers, office parties, and lots of delicious foods & drinks. It’s a common belief that people pack on the pounds during the holiday season. That isn’t necessarily the case. The truth is, while you may gain a couple of pounds, chances are it won’t be anything significant. The holidays don’t necessarily signify weight gain – but overindulging does, and that can happen at any time of year. The key is learning balance. It’s important to focus your time on loved ones rather than counting calories. You should enjoy yourself and some treats, but there’s no need to be reckless! Here are some tricks to beating the bulge this holiday season:

Don’t skip meals! Often times, people think that if they skip a meal it will give them more calories to use later on. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, you’re doing serious damage to your metabolism when you skip meals. Your body will go into starvation mode, and instead of distributing the food the way it should, it turns to fat. Ultimately, you will end up being twice as bloated and feeling worse than if you had just had a small meal or snack prior to your party.

Bring your own healthy dish to the festivities. Let’s face it – time is of the essence this time of year. I’m sure the host will be more than appreciative for the help. Offer to make a healthy side dish or dessert. This will not only be a big help to the host, but it will allow you and your friends &/or family to enjoy the time together and not to worry about what’s on your plates.

If making something isn’t an option, practice portion control. This should be something that’s done all year round, but it’s especially important this time of year. Begin with salad or veggies and be sure to pace yourself by eating slowly before going back for seconds.

That being said, you want to choose your indulgences wisely. No one is saying you can’t have your favorite dessert or your family’s secret, delicious dish. Less is definitely more. Have a little bit of everything you really enjoy and move on. The easiest trick to ensure you won’t overindulge is to load up on water & veggies. That will keep you fuller and keep you from grazing the table.

Be realistic with time. This is another big one. Do your best to keep up with exercise – just 30 minutes a day can make a big difference physically AND mentally. This can be walking around the mall or walking when you first wake up in the morning – every little bit counts and will even serve as a great stress reliever.

Above all, focus on what’s truly important this time of year. If you do eat too much or don’t get as much time to exercise, be kind to yourself – you’re doing your best. Don’t feel guilty – just do better the next day. Life is short – don’t waste precious time agonizing over an extra serving of pie or an extra glass of egg nog. Spend that time with your loved ones; you’ll be happier for it in the long run.

Happy holidays to you & yours!

-Gina