“Healthy Pregnancy”

After the loss of our first baby in 2015, one of my hopes for 2016 was to be able to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.

“Healthy pregnancy” looks and feels different on everyone… I knew I wouldn’t be one of those awesome crossfit pregnant ladies who still had defined abs at 30 weeks, but I did know my body was capable of continuing to lift weights, being consistently active, and getting appropriate nutrients in the correct amount. I had very heathy habits the first time, but I felt even more of a desire to get it all perfect if the second time ever came around, as if that would somehow help keep the baby.

Pregnancy after miscarriage was a whole new ball game. I was no longer naive about miscarriage stats and all of the fertility struggles women go through. Everyday was and is time to be grateful to love the life within me, and I also slightly nervous about not being guaranteed that my child would make it to delivery.

Let’s just say the ideal perfection went out the window when for the first 3 months I was not able to keep much food down at all.  Between all day nausea, throwing up, and food aversions, the last thing I could even think about doing was eating or smelling vegetables. Just walking into the kitchen made me gag. I was mostly gluten and dairy-free before conceiving this time around and no sugar, but you better believe I did not hesitate to go for the saltine crackers, bread, and any carbs that would settle my stomach… oh and ALL THE FRENCH FRIES! I was in survival mode for weeks upon weeks, exhausted and very low-functioning. Praise God for my patient husband!

But allow me to also say that while this season was difficult, I am not complaining. I was grateful in a way for the sickness, because it felt like some sort of assurance that baby was progressing and a reminder that I was actually pregnant, no matter how hard it was to believe. I know what it’s like to pray for a baby month after month, and enduring whatever pregnancy symptoms was par for the course in my mind. In fact, I had prayed for a baby, no matter what symptoms I had to endure… watch what you pray for 😉 Nothing like feeling weak all of the time to push you to rely deeper on the strength of Christ!

So if you were wondering why I wasn’t as active with Soul Strong Fitness, it was because I worked out just a few times during that time, and had no energy before or after work to give unfortunately. I did feel sort of guilty that I wasn’t being very “healthy”, or really couldn’t be, but every time I went in for an appointment, they said the baby looked healthy and was growing! I did my best to navigate those months, and that’s all I could really ask for.

Fast forward now to 18 weeks. We’ve had several ultrasounds and I am able to feel more positive and confident about baby!  I’m also physically improved, and have some great anti-nausea medicine after a few really bad spells! I finally feel like Rosemary again! I’m breaking out of the dragging days and ready to get back on course and motivated! I want to finish this pregnancy strong; feel strong in labor, and feel strong as a mother!

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my health and fitness journey over the years, it’s that giving up is not an option and it’s never too late to jump back into it!

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slowly starting to bump! 🙂 and the endorphins from exercise help me to get out of “slumps”

A few constants over the past few months that kept me as healthy as I could attempt to be were…

  1. PDP_VitaminWaterZero_SqueezedLemonade_20ozlots of WATER! A few weeks in, water started tasting funny, so I’d have the Lemonade Vitamin Water Zero when I could. The electrolytes were good for hydrating after getting sick, and the extra B6 is thought to help nausea.
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  2. Vegan Chocolate Shakeology -I usually made with a banana and added some extra spinach for more fiber, even though it already has greens included. That spinach might the only extra veggie I got that day! When everything else tasted bad, my body LOVED the chocolate flavor, and it’s quick to make for breakfast when I have ZERO energy. I’m so grateful for the incredible ingredients in my daily shake!                                                                                                                                                         17387874
  3. These amazing gummy vitamins ! I started off with these organic whole food pre-natals, but couldn’t manage to keep them down. Gummies without extra sugars and artifical colors are the way to go! It’s really hard to find gummies that have folate (NOT folic acid), which is the nutrient’s natural form rather than the synthetic form. Not everyone’s body can process the folic acid, so most health experts recommend folate if possible. AND you don’t have to take a separate DHA! All in one! 🙂
  4. Forcing myself (my husband forcing me) to at least take a long walk everyday. The workouts I did manage to do came from Beachbody On Demand’s pregnancy workouts called the Active Maternity Series. Free 30 day trial to the online workouts btw!  thumb_IMG_3299_1024
  5. My mindset to not worry and to pray about every little thing is greatly assisted by journaling! A co-worker got me this sweet pregnancy prayer journal to notate how each trimester was going, prayer requests, and people to pray for who are currently trying to concieve. I think for those who have experienced pregnancy after the loss, the most important thing is to TRY to remain grateful. The last thing I wanted was to end up having a second loss and not really giving that baby the love and celebration he or she deserved. preg10

Due date January 6th! I’ll be using this page to keep me accountable and opening up a fitness group soon for anyone interested in getting back on track with me!

Toxicity

When someone is first starting their “healthy living” journey, one of the first tips people tend to give to him or her is to become ingredient aware– to check out the labels of what you’re eating. If the product has a ton of added colors, preservatives, trans fat, corn syrup, pesticides, artificial sugars, GMOS and the like, the advice is to steer clear. Simply put, science says over time, these foreign substances stuck in our body can poison us, lead to cancer and other diseases.

Different sources may say slightly different things about the affects of chemicals on our bodies, but the main takeaway should be to find the most natural sources of our products and be comfortable and knowledgable with whatever we’re using or eating.

Over the years I’ve learned more, and through small changes, the process of choosing what’s better for me has become more normal/easy to do. It’s no longer a “I should”, but an “I want to” take care of myself.

At first the hassle seems like too much work, but as you start to make little swaps, you feel capable of greater changes over time, and realize you have more energy, are more confident, feel stronger, and quicker on your feet. I at least aim for the most “natural” groceries, organic protein without added hormones and stick to getting the dirty dozen organic as well.

Recently, I read the book the Super Life by Daren Olien, a nutritionist and superfood expert.

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As much as I had been focusing on good nutrition and exercise, my eyes were opened a little more about the importance of some of the other life-forces that affect our health like oxygenation,  alkalization, and (what this post is about) detoxification. Our systems are overwhelmed and overtaxed, and constantly processing all of the crazy stuff our organs weren’t meant to handle. The more overworked they are, the more vulnerable, the less strong our immune system is to fight for us against mutated cells and other sickness.

 

I had been working on step 1: what I fed my body, and after reading the information in this book, was ready to move onto step 2: what I allowed into my body through my skin and breathing in the air.

Things like shampoo, makeup, lotion, aren’t regulated and can get away with a lot more chemicals and not labeling what goes into their products. Your skin absorbs up to 70% of what you put on it, so it IS important to think about what is getting in!

OH where to even START?!

SO I started digging. Google can be a good friend, and so can other women out there who are way further along on this non-toxic journey than I am!

So just as I did the first time with my eating, I decided to start becoming ingredient aware of all the products I use daily. It wasn’t pretty… surprise!! It seems like everything is bad for you! 😛

Below are some suggestions for some slow changes I’ve been making over the last month. It was overwhelming at first to feel like I’ve been doing many things “wrong” for so many years, but just like healthy eating and exercise, it is never too late to get started doing things a little better to take some stress off our kidneys and liver.

All the items below are simply things to think about, and you get to decide what to implement and what you feel like is best for you to look into. Same with healthy eating, it involves weighing the price/inconvenience against the potential harm. I believe you just have to do your best with the information you have! That’s all 🙂 IF you’re interested in this stuff like I am, read on!

If you get overwhelmed like I did, maybe focus on making one category each month a little bit better. As you run out of a certain toiletry or product, research something new to try instead of your normal supply! A lot of times we just use something because it’s the cheapest item or our parents used it, but we don’t really think about if it’s healthy or effective. Don’t drive yourself crazy, just be aware 🙂 I’m no expert!

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{Deodorant}

This one actually started to learn about when I first found out I was pregnant this past April. The aluminum in antiperspirants, the parabens, and the “fragrance” in the deodorant were recommended as ingredients to avoid because of the carcinogens (cancer causing) and could cause birth defects. I didn’t know how much to believe this at the time, as I’ve always been a “sweater” and couldn’t imagine not having the SUPER protective antiperspirant. But if it meant I could reduce my chances of cancer and any other complications, I figure it doesn’t hurt to try it out.

I made a switch to Tom’s Deodorant. Not going to lie, it doesn’t work as well as the aluminum that blocks you from sweating. I have to reapply it if I don’t want to start smelling at the end of the day. If you want to get really ‘crunchy’ and you have the time, you could try to make your own and give your armpits a break from the chemicals that are potentially interfering with your hormones and let yourself sweat those toxins OUT. Look for products that say “aluminum free” when you can! Our sweat is part of our body’s detox system!

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{Meal Containers}

I was microwaving my lunch everyday at work in plastic wear. Now, even though some of the plastic  is “BPA free”, that doesn’t mean that the plastic isn’t breaking down over time and releasing chemicals, like dioxin, into my food that otherwise wouldn’t be there; chemicals that could cause reproductive issues or once again, cancer.  I thankfully had a Container Store gift card, so I purchased a few glass lunch containers, to take to work when we have something to microwave, and still use the plastic containers just for food storage. Baby steps.

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{Face Wash} 

Everyday, since probably high school, I have washed my face, then used Clearasil astringent, and then used an acne medicated lotion… morning and night. That’s a lot of product going into my pores! The ingredient triclosan in my face wash, can be toxic to reproduction and can alter the thyroid hormone receptor.

I switched to Witch Hazel as a natural toner for the “astringent” step, and Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for the lotion part. I’ve heard Rose Water is also a good option as well as different kinds of essential oils. Coconut Oil is a GOLD mine and has tons and tons of uses for your skin and digestion.

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{Body Wash}

 Dr. Bronner’s has a wide variety of uses, is 100% organic made with vegetable and coconut oils. I decided to make the switch to this instead of my generic Dove-type body wash which has “fragrance” and several other ingredient linked to developmental toxicity, allergies, and cancer. My body wash was going all over my entire body very frequently, so I wanted to be sure to find a sure non-toxic solution.

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{AIR}

We spent a lot of time indoors, unfortunately. To improve our air quality in our medium size apartment, we got a plant! A beautiful peace lily (it requires very little sunlight and watering so we knew it was best for us! haha). It topped NASA’s list for removing all three of most common volatile compounds — formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. It can also combat toluene and xylene. Basically I figured if we had sketchy things in the air, it could at least help clean it up a little bit for us without us even trying!

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{Cleaning Supplies}

This is usually the category that people start with I think… or at least the one I’ve heard most about. However, maybe I don’t use cleaning supplies often enough to have thought of them first! Having a multi-surface cleaner was key because I do frequently wipe down counter surfaces in the kitchen and the bathroom. I would usually use Clorox Wipes for this. There are plenty of cleaning concoctions you can make at home with water and vinegar and baking soda! Give pinterest a search if you’d rather make your own than buy!

 

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{Candles}

We go through periods of time where we have 3-4 candles lit at a time in our apartment. We love candles, the smell and the mood they create. SURPRISE. The fragrance amongst other things is bad for you. You can also find others made of coconut wax and beeswax. This is a small business brand I found at a used bookstore. They have an etsy store if you’re interested!

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{Linen Spray & Air Freshener} 

Turns out, it’s not that “fresh” after all. Don’t be fooled! We keep the febreeze in the bathroom, as I think most people have some kind of spray in there!  Turns out this is pretty horrible….  haha I also would spray linen spray on our sheets to keep them fresh in between washes, but turns out spraying the chemicals on our sheets was potentially getting in our skin as we slept. I found this DYI Linen spray that I’ll definitely be trying out instead!

 

Finally, I have to suggest this app called “Think Dirty”. You can scan in any of your products and it will tell you what ingredients are dangerous and why. It gives them a rating of how harmful they may be, and suggests alternatives for you to check out. Ask around your friends, someone is bound to sell brands like Ava Anderson, Shaklee, Norwex, several different brand of essential oils that can help with cleaning or be used as with an air diffuser  with plenty of health benefits. Maybe next I’ll tackle my makeup!

Good luck detoxing your life!! It’s tough work out there!

You Make Me Brave

This song by the group Bethel Music has been playing over and over in my heart lately, and it seemed like the right time to process and reflect. Take a quick listen.

“as your love in wave after wave crashes over me, crashes over me, for you are for us, you are not against us…”

“So I will let you draw me out beyond the shore into your grace…”

The imagery in this song is one I experienced on a trip to Puerto Rico this past summer. My vacation was awesome with my family and husband, exploring old castles, zip-lining, going to different beaches, enjoying meals and games together.

However, one of the most memorable times of the trip was taking a catamaran to an island off the coast about 45 minutes. 45 minutes of (what we did not know would be) a super bumpy ride, crashing into wave after wave, jerking around those on the boat.

Multiple times each person in my family thought they were going to lose it. How much longer? How much more could we take before we all ended up like the kid in the front of the boat throwing up?

In an effort to get through the “storm”, my brother and I started singing songs that had the words “wave” or “ocean” in them, which I originally thought was fun distraction. We kept singing the song I posted above, over and over. I let my mind picture the water from the crashing ocean slowly washing over me, like the way God lavishes his Love on us in the midst of the waves of life.

I tried to let it all sink in.

It is in the deep, when we are being tossed about, that we often realize we need Him MOST.

And in life, just like on that catamaran, sometimes we are holding steady. The road is bumpy, but maybe we’re distracted or focused on not getting totally rocked. But then other times, we are so down and desperate, we feel like getting sick because we’re so tired of the “waves”. But then someone comes into our waves and goes through it with us until we find peace again, just like my brother and I did singing for each other.

So we finally arrived to a glowing white sandy beach with clear waters and clear skies, completely isolated. It was breathtaking. It was paradise! Looking back on the boat ride, I couldn’t see the clouds of fear, I saw the sunshine. I remembered how difficult it was, but I also remembered how we got through it–WITH each other, focusing on God’s strength and the words of the song to keep us focused.

The destination was worth it all.

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This year my husband and I faced a storm no one ever wants to go through. We lost our first child to miscarriage. I ache just typing that.

I don’t share this because I want to, I share it to perhaps offer a small glimmer of hope or comfort for someone out there who may have gone through something similar.

This song that we sang on the boat captures a piece of the journey I’ve been on this past summer, and calls to mind all the ways that He makes me brave.

Brave to get up each day and face the world with that tiny void and pain in my heart that was our baby.

Brave to trust that He is my sole comforter and His providence reigns.

Brave to trust that He is faithful when I don’t understand why, and to put my hope in the Lord’s promises.

Brave to know when my eyes well up in complete overwhelming sorrow, I still carry our child in my heart and in my prayers.

Brave to allow myself time to grieve.

Brave to minister to those who are going through something similar.

Brave to forgive others when they don’t seem to understand.

Brave to allow His grace to hold me when I can’t stand.

Brave to know the pain I feel is a reflection of how deeply we loved.

He makes me brave to recognize that I am not responsible for the life we lost.

He makes me brave to look to Him as the example of suffering in love and drawing near to Him in my own suffering. He knows our pain.

He makes me brave to think about what Mary must have felt losing her only son Jesus; What Sarah and Hannah must have felt like in their years of infertility.

And I pray He makes me brave to look back on this trying time and remember the joy we felt when God decided to entrust us with a child.

With all the topics out there being discussed, society is relatively silent about miscarriage. Miscarriage is common, affecting at least 1/5 of pregnancies, and yet there are still many misconceptions or misunderstandings. October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. Today, with this post, I want to pause, draw attention to, and pray for all those mothers who have experienced any kind of loss. I want to acknowledge your child.

There are plenty of women out there who suffer through it alone. It can be very hard to talk about and hard to share. When it happens so frequently but isn’t acknowledged, it can cause the woman to feel shame, as if it was her fault. In this secret loss, she may feel implicit pressure to “move on” without actually processing and properly dealing with the hurt in order to heal.

A miscarried child is not a “piece of tissue”, but a wanted and loved child of God knit together for a purpose. It’s hard to convey to others just how special and important that family member is when he or she seems to dart so quickly in and out of your life; but nonetheless, it is the loss of a family member, just like any other.

We should celebrate the lives of those in the womb, not pretend they were never there. We should celebrate the gift of participating with God in His creative nature and offer ourselves to nurture and cherish a vulnerable soul, even if God calls our child home. And, we should still celebrate mothers who birthed their children into heaven, instead of on earth.

This was not my plan, but God uses what can tear us apart inside to ultimately work for our good. I can have hope that God’s timing is perfect. His knowledge is more perfect than mine. His will is more pure than mine.

If you’ve experienced a similar type loss, please know there are people who want to support you. Even if others don’t understand what you’re going through, don’t know what to say, or can’t grasp the gravity of your pain, there is first and foremost a God who wants to walk with you through that. I hope this song reminds you that the Lord is FOR you and not against you.

And secondly, there are other women who can identify with you and grasp the myriad of emotions, as they’ve been through it too. They are living testaments that somehow, someway, there is a bigger plan. Their guidance and understanding was pivotal in my experience. Feel free to message me if you’d like to connect with a group like this. This book might be a good place to start as well.

I miss our baby everyday. And I strive to live out that call to motherhood by taking care of those around me. Although I am not in control of my future, I do know we will be reunited with our precious little one at the Heavenly banquet one day. We have been through the storm and know God’s blessings can come through the waves and the rain. I look forward to one day being united fully with my entire family in the true paradise.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2