Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How I Learned To Love My Body

Being able to carry a child, grow a child, and then birth a child is truly astounding to me. It fascinates me how we create life. Our bodies are resilient, strong, and adaptable. I feel fortunate that this body of mine served as a vessel to bring me my children. Let's face it ladies, children change your body. Instead of complaining about all the ways having babies changed my body, I have decided to embrace those changes.

This is what I have learned along the way:

Commitment: About ten months after I had my first son I looked in the mirror and finally saw someone I did not want to be. I weighed the most I had ever weighed. I looked bloated, out of shape, and I was embarrassed that I had allowed myself to get to this point. I then decided I did not want to be this person anymore. Matter of fact, I never wanted to see her again. I was determined to not only get the weight off, but to keep it off. After six months of proper eating and running I kissed thirty plus pounds goodbye. I was committed to a healthier me and I work every day to keep up with that commitment.

Strength: I not only wanted to loose the weight but I wanted to be stronger. Running was a new outlet for me and I was seeing the changes in my body. My endurance increased and pushing myself to new limits was creating a better me. I was discovering new things about my body as well as myself. I relied on my inner strength to give me the push to be where I wanted to be physically. This continues to be a work in progress for me. I push myself because the reality is no one else can do the work for me. This is my body and any changes I want to make to it are going to require dedication and strength.

My children often imitate me when I am exercising; or in this case, Batman.

Courage: Change is scary. Change is hard. Change pushes us to learn new things about ourselves. Courage teaches us that we are capable of anything we put our minds to. My Mantra: "Always Believe You Can". You can change your body. You can be a healthier you if you want to. I wanted to be proud of myself. I also wanted my partner and children to be proud of me. My children help to give me courage and strive to be better. I want to give back to them what they have given me. I want to teach them that anything is possible and courage comes from within you and from those around you.

Acceptance: It is important to know what your limits are. You need to remember to be kind to yourself and that change does not happen overnight. Take time to know your own personal limits. Whether it is diet change or exercising, be sure that you do not push too hard and cause injury. Yes, be determined and stick to a plan; just be sure that the changes you are making are healthy ones. I have to keep in mind that with the changes that have happened to my body, some of it is not going to be reversed. I will never be a Victoria Secrets Model and that is OK! I have learned to love my body. I try to keep focus on the fact that no matter what, I am living a healthier lifestyle than I was five years ago.

Right after finishing my Third Half Marathon in April
I want to live a healthy, long life. I want my children to look at me and learn from my habits. Besides, it is because of them that I have changed. Maybe I would have gotten here some day on my own. My reality is those kids make me want to be better. They make me want to push and be the best me I can be. I work on this every day and will continue to. As I said, I am a work in progress.

Friday, April 24, 2015

5 Reasons to Love Date Night

It is Friday and tonight I have a date planned with the soon to be "hubs". We do not go out often so I am a bit excited about this. Tonight's date we are going to spend money we do not have an on a good dinner. Hey, we deserve it! Afterwards we will  mosey on out to look at wedding bands! Jewelery, food and drinks; you can't go wrong.

I use to feel anxiety leaving my children. Okay, so maybe I still feel a tinge of guilt. The reality is we will probably spend most of the dinner talking about them. I can say that I have finally gotten to a point where I do enjoy spending time alone with "The Man" without feeling the guilt of leaving my kids. I now know that I need to embrace these times. I started thinking about it and there are a few reasons why I LOVE date night. Let me share a few with you.

1~ Getting dressed up: These days I am either seen in my yoga pants, a pair of lounge pants or my running clothes. There is no point in getting dressed in anything other than this. Half the time I leave the house I am covered in drool and yogurt stains. I haven't worn a cute pair of heals in months. My hair is either in a pony or often resembles a birds nest. Who the hell has time to do their hair when they are trying to get two toddlers dressed, fed, and attempting to keep them from killing one another before noon?! Tonight I am going to take a shower, maybe even shave, and blow dry my hair. I will put on make up, perfume and even that new bra I bought weeks ago that I have only worn a couple times since I seem to have an unhealthy relationship with my nursing bra...Oh wait, it's because I have a nineteen month old who thinks my boobs are his. Not tonight baby, those ladies are coming out with me!

2~ Someone serves me: For once I get to sit my ass down and have someone take my order and serve me! There will be no demands, screams, or yelling coming from the kids mouths. I will be able to have someone else cater to me. I won't have to move anything but my arm to bring my drink to my mouth. There will be no crumbs at my feet, no dogs drooling from the other room, and food will remain on the plate and not flying across room as I duck so it doesn't hit me. I won't have to threaten them to eat their food, there will be no time outs, and no dishes to do after! I won't have to worry about wiping faces, hands or asses. I have left that task to Nana & Pop-Pop since they seem to think their grandsons are so cute.

3~ Enjoying A Few Drinks:  I enjoy a few too many drinks on the weekends. I am strict with myself all week and look forward to Friday night. It is amazing I make it through most days without hiding in the bathroom with a bottle. Most of these weekend nights I am lucky if I get to finish a beer before it gets warm or the baby spills it over. I also have suffered through two pregnancies where I had to watch The Man enjoy several of his favorite drinks while I had to patiently wait for my children to exit my body before I could take part in this "sport". It is in my intentions to not only have a couple of drinks but to be sure I get a good buzz on. Tonight the Man gets to drive MY ass around! No DD for this Mama.

4~ Quality Time: Since these moments between myself and The Man are almost extinct these days I am grateful for these times. I love being around him and even though I miss the creatures it is important to take time for US. It is vital for our relationship that we have these dates to come back to where it all began; with him and I. Some day our children will not want to snuggle us, play with us, and hold our hands. Someday it will be back to him and I again, just as before they were here. I want us to be sure to take time to share with one another. To continue to work on our relationship. To remember why we fell in love and to keep that fire burning.

5~ Returning Home: After the couple of hours that belong to this date we will go and pick up our children and return home. I will never get old seeing the look on my children's face when I have been gone and walk through that door. It is kind of like the puppy who won't stop licking your face even though you just went to get the mail. I love feeling those little arms wrap around me, the nestling into my neck, followed by as many kisses I can get in before one of them swats me away.

I am not sure when the next date night will be. We tend to go several months between them, have even once gone a full year without a date. Tonight I plan to enjoy each moment of Date Night!!

Now, time to figure out what I am going to wear...

Happy Friday! How often do you do date night?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Our No Bake Energy Balls

My four year old has always liked to help me in the kitchen. Little feet would follow me and ask to help me in whatever way he could. I was always propping him up on the kitchen counter as I cooked. Whether it was watching me, helping me, or licking the spoon, Chase was right there eager to lend a little hand.

In my effort to be healthy and eat foods that fuel my body, as well as my children, I stumbled upon a recipe over a year ago for No Bake Energy Balls. I liked that it was simple and something that we could whip up whenever we wanted. I also liked that it was a easy snack before a run or when my kids were hungry for the 100th time in an hour. I have made a few of my own "tweaks" to it and since my son Chase could not easily say Energy Balls, we renamed them: "Yummy Balls".

Here is our recipe:

1 cup dry oatmeal (We are a fan of Bob's Red Mill Organic Oatmeal)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use Earth Balance Coconut & Peanut Spread)
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 cup ground flax meal (I do not always put in the ground flax as long as there is flax seed!)
1/3 cup Agave Nectar (you can substitute with honey or maple syrup)
1 tsp of pure vanilla extract


Combine all ingredients and chill for at least a half hour before making balls

Last: Eat Yummy Balls!

This is a simple recipe and one which we all enjoy. I cannot get Chase to eat oatmeal by itself yet he has no problem devouring several "Yummy Balls". I have to watch him because he is notorious for trying to sneak a few extras when I am not looking.

I love how simple it is and the variations you can do with it. I have used Agave Nectar, Honey and Maple Syrup. Any of these works well with this recipe. I have even cut down on the peanut butter and the for less calories. 

These are addicting, sweet and "mostly" guilt free. 

We even have the nineteen month old, Wesley, hooked on them! 

Spending time in the kitchen is something which we do often. I even will suggest making something when Chase is having a four year old crisis. Making food together creates happiness in our house. It has become a place where we find balance, create laughter, make "yummy food"...and a mess!

Do you have a favorite snack you make with your children? 

There are things you do because they feel right and they may make no sense and they may make no money and it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other and to eat each others cooking and say it was good.Brian Andreas



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Being a Stay At Home "Mom-ster"

Growing up my mom stayed home and raised my brother and I while my father worked. She was always there. We were fortunate not to have to go to a babysitter or daycare. My mother was there for us morning, noon, and night.

I had always wanted the same for my children. I wanted to be there with them and raise them just as my mother did with my brother and I. When I had Chase I did go back to work. He was our first son and with a new baby, new apartment, and now new bills we both agreed I would go back to work. I decided to do four days on and three days off to make the weekends longer. At ten and a half weeks old here I was dropping my new baby off with someone else who got to watch him, hold him and see milestones that I would only see after she did.

I will say we were fortunate to have an awesome daycare provider and never once do I regret choosing her. His welfare was never a concern of mine. I envied her for the time she got to spend with my child. It didn't seem fair and it never felt right. Somewhere along the way I grew accustomed to leaving him and put myself back in work mode. It was difficult for me and my heart always felt heavy.

When we found out I was pregnant with my second son, Wesley, I knew I could not go through it again. I was not going to leave my child. After discussing it we agreed that the best thing for our family was for me to be a stay at home mom. I was elated that I would be with my children and this time around, even if Wesley was not getting a 100% of what Chase did when he was a babe (since he got the title of the second child) I would at least be there to see his milestones.

If you stay home like I do you also know that it is not easy with one income. You learn to sacrifice and say "NO" to things you didn't have to before. None of that matters to me in the end. Sure, it can suck. Which is why I work part time from home and sometimes out of the home. Every little bit counts.

You may be thinking what a luxurious life it is to be able to work from home. Well, my friends, it is not all fairies and flowers.

First of all, every time I sit down to get any work done suddenly someone is hungry. It doesn't matter if they just finished their second Pop-Tart. They need more! This annoys the shit out of me. Yes, I said it. My kids can annoy me!

Then it is time to make a phone call. Now there is screaming. Someone pushed the other. Someone got slapped. Someone took a toy away from the other. I haven't even hit send on my phone yet and chaos irrupts. They can be two rooms away and those little creatures just seem to know when I need to make a phone call. I have even had to go in my bedroom to shut the door to make phone calls. This of coarse is when I have to turn the TV on for background noise hoping the recipient of the call does not hear my eighteen month old screaming "Mama".

It is a good thing my job does not require a lot of intense mind work because some days I am down right exhausted. I have to stifle the urge to yell "Shut up" and I may have muttered "little assholes" a time or two to myself. Don't judge! You know you have thought it too!

Some days being a stay at home makes me feel like a "Mom-ster" I can feel my blood boil and I swear I have seen fire come out of my mouth a time or two. I am in toddler land these days and both boys have a fabulous way of pushing my buttons. How in the world do they know how to do this?! They have secret powers and I am not sure if I am jealous or down right pissed off about it!

It has been a long winter so I am hoping some fresh air and sunshine will bring some calm to our house. Monday I made sure to take a couple hours in between working to get the little monsters outside and run them. If you don't have children you might have a dog? Having toddlers is very similar to having puppies; you have to exercise them or else your house may get destroyed. True story.

With that being said I would like to extend an apology to my neighbors now that spring is upon us. I know you all are eager to open your windows and get fresh air, listen to the birds chirping and finally see some sunshine. Well along with that you may also hear the "Mom-ster" from time to time. She has a way of coming out at the most unpredictable times. Don't be scared, she usually calms down right around the time her kids go to bed. If you want to help her out offer her a beer or a glass of wine.

At the end of any day, crazy or calm, I wouldn't trade being home with them for anything! It is not easy, it is not always fun. This is my life and I love it. Every bit of chaos, every bit of mayhem, I would not trade any of it. I am not the perfect mom. Lord knows I am not going to win any awards this year. All I can do is try each day to be a little bit better than the day before. I do try, I will always try. Maybe one day I will get this thing right.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ready...Set...Go! Time for Another Half Marathon!

With only four days until my next Half Marathon I am happy to report that I am ready! In February I was feeling nervous. I was not sure I could get myself where I wanted to be physically and mentally to complete this race. I kicked my own ass in March and pounded those miles out. I am happy to report that I ended March with logging 123.04 miles. I wanted to hit 95 and would have been happy with 100. I was determined to get myself ready for this race and didn't even realize that I had surpassed my monthly mileage goal. I was pretty happy when the calculator revealed the number my happy feet ran.

In my last running review I shared that I was doing a Fit Abs Challenge. I joined a Facebook group called: The Fit Runner Club. I had no idea how awesome this group would be. Not to mention what an asset to my current training. I enjoyed the challenge and was motivated and inspired by the other runners. I even felt that by the end of the month I got to know some of the other group members, and looked forward to checking what everyone else had accomplished for themselves each day. Everyday I did my WOD (workout of the day), logged my points, shared my pictures (you share healthy meal photo's and work out accountability pics), and everyday I got stronger. I was able to see a difference in my core strength by the end of the month. I have continued to do my AB WOD and this month the group is focusing on Glutes. If you are a runner, or want to be, I suggest you check this group out.

In March I kept to my four days a week running schedule while adding in some walking with my children and cross training with Jillian Michael's Shred video. I have finally moved to level three of the workout and do this at least two days a week. The workout is quick, effective and I feel challenged in just the short time it takes to do it. With a four year old running around and an eighteen month old trying to use me as a jungle gym, sometimes a short work out is all I can fit in. Did you know that Jillian has a pet pig?! Seriously that made me like her even more than I already did!

I had a running goal for 2015 to hit a PR in distance of 15 miles. In 2014 the farthest I ran was 14.1. I did not have a plan as to when I would reach this milestone nor was there a specific deadline...well, it did need to happen in 2015. Sunday I went out for my last long run before the Half this weekend. It was a beautiful day. I took some back roads and found myself getting lost in my run. Somewhere around mile ten I thought about trying to hit my 15 mile goal. It was specifically at 12.88 miles that I made the decision to make that goal happen.

There is such an exhilarating feeling to do something you set out to do. The reward itself is in reaching the goal. I love being able to run a route that was once hard and have it be part of a routine rather than an obstacle. I believe in order to grow you need to create challenge. What fun would life be without a few good obstacle courses along the way ?!

Fitness and a healthy lifestyle are important to me. If you know me you know that I love running. The wonder of this is that I did not always love it. Running does not discriminate. You can start at 20, at 30 and even 60. Whatever it is you want to achieve for yourself, do not give up on that. The body is an amazing vessel. We can create, strengthen, and change our bodies. We are given the ability to be whatever it is we want. Any fitness goal takes time. Remember that you need to have patience. Results do not happen overnight. They may take months, sometimes even years. Remember this:

Always Believe You Can!

If you are interested in The Fit Runner Club check out the website! Trust me, it is addicting! : http://www.fitrunnerclub.com/

I would also like to share a video that proves you can do whatever you put your mind to. Please take a moment to view this short news segment on a first time marathoner and her story.
First time marathoner: Running to keep a Promise 

As always friends: Happy Running! 

Related Posts:
Giving Mother Nature The Middle Finger

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Scar Only I Can See

I have a scar on my left wrist I received when I was a little girl. I got it sliding down an icy hill in the winter. I was on my blow-up inner tube sledding down a hill and I hit a bump, went flying in the air, and slid on the ground. It wasn’t a soft snow. It was icy, hard and slippery. Somehow I managed to scrape my wrist and years later have the scar to remind me. There’s a scar above my right eyebrow where I had my eyebrow pierced in my early twenties. Then there is the scar that only I can see. I see it every day. It is my scar from my cesarean sections I had for both my boys.

I always enjoyed hearing other women’s birth stories while I was pregnant. It was intriguing to me to hear other women’s experiences. I would wonder how mine would be and was anxious to experience my own story. Labor with my first son Chase was a crazy ride, my own personal roller coaster. I labored for 17 hours before I was whisked away to the operating room for my emergency c-section. I was not prepared for any of it. He was not tolerating labor. Chase’s heart rate was continuing to drop and they needed to get him out fast.

It was traumatic for me. The moments before my partner, Jason, joined me in the operating room felt like hours. I was terrified. I felt like I was in my own personal nightmare. There were nurses scurrying around, bright lights shining down on me, and I could hear the doctors talking in tongues I did not understand. I wasn’t supposed to be lying on this operating table. I was supposed to be in that tub birthing my baby the way I envisioned him to come. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen.

I cried throughout the surgery. Eventually Jason was brought to be by my side. He was strong for me and I admired him for this. He watched the entire time so he could see our son when they pulled him out. Every second waiting for him felt like an eternity. I wondered if he was going to be okay. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I needed to see my son. Then, there he was. Chase was born at 10:48am on a cold January morning. He was stable and healthy when they assessed him. He just had other plans for his entrance into the world.

It was difficult for me that I had to have a c-section. I cried for weeks. It was as though something truly valuable to me had been stolen. I would never get it back. People around me kept reminding me of the fact that I had a healthy baby and that is what matters. I agreed with that. I knew how fortunate I was to have this amazing, beautiful, healthy creature to call my own.  I knew some women never get to hold their babies in their arms. Others never get to have a child at all. For this I am blessed. I knew it then, I know it now.

It is my story though and it was not how I wanted it to be. I wanted to say how beautiful it was. How amazing that first moment was when I saw my child. Instead, it was one of the scariest things I had been through. My first moments were spent lying on my back feeling so drugged from my epidural that I was afraid to hold my own baby because I didn’t have the strength.

When I was pregnant with Wesley I was passionate about having a Vaginal Birth after Cesarean  (VBAC). My doctors and midwives told me that since it was my baby that wasn’t tolerating the labor and nothing to do with me, that we could try for a VBAC. I was very supported. I had a wonderful pregnancy with Wesley. I even ran throughout my pregnancy. I felt amazing in a way I had not while pregnant with Chase.

Then it was time for Wesley to come. It wasn’t easy anymore! I had started laboring but my body was not making process. We ended up doing an ultrasound and finding out he had flipped, he was now facing upward; “sunny side up”. I had the option to go straight to c-section or continue on. I was determined that I was going to VBAC. I would wait agonizing hours to have him come the way I planned.

As many of you know, you cannot plan these things! Almost identical to Chase, Wesley could not tolerate labor. Once again I was wheeled into that same operating room where I had Chase. At 6:45pm on a Wednesday evening, during a red sunset sky, Wesley made his arrival via c-section. Just like his brother.

We are done having children. There will be no more labors. I will be honest, over a year later I still harbor this sadness that I had another c section. Just the other day I read a birth story that was how I envisioned mine to be and I cried. Tears burned my cheeks. I envied this woman. I can’t change my stories and the scar I bear will always be with me. It is mine. Maybe someday I will be able to look at it and not feel the sting left behind. In moments when I feel the sadness I look at my two boys and feel overwhelmed by love and joy.

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

Post originally written and shared for VT Mommies in the fall of 2014.