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I’ve started this a thousand times.

I’ve started writing this blog post roughly a thousand times in my head. I’ve edited it, I’ve redrafted it, I’ve added, I’ve deleted… but I’ve never actually stopped to write a sentence down.

Our little one came in-

(sorry about that- she was crying and needed to be held… now, where was I?)

Our little one came in November and turned our family of 3 (husband, myself, and our dog) into a family of 4. To say she’s given us a run for our money is an understatement.

I’ve always been pretty protective of my schedule and my routine. I don’t like to deviate too much from what I know and am familiar with. Let’s just say that babies throw that ALL out the window. It’s been a total and complete adjustment, but in a good way. And to be honest, it’s taken me a few weeks to be able to say that- to say that it’s a good thing.

Change is hard. And harder for some (my hand is WAY up).

She cried a lot those first 5 weeks, and didn’t sleep a lot. I felt like a human milk machine. Showers were few and far between, while the tears rarely ceased (for both of us). I felt empty and defeated at the end of most days, just thinking “This is it? This is life now?!” There were times I mourned* the loss of my freedom and ability to shower each morning and eat a hot meal while it’s still hot and just get in my car and go to the store in under an hour. (*mourned=sobbed uncontrollably)

Luckily, it’s getting easier. She’s crying less and sleeping (a very little bit) more. Or maybe I’m just getting used to the sleep depravation- it’s anybody’s guess. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the kindness of others. It takes a village to raise a child, and even telling a mother that she’s doing a great job sparks a fire that I cannot describe in words. Feeling that love and support helps to refill my tank.

It’s a slow process. And I’m a constant work in progress.

As I became a bit more comfortable with my role as Mom, I longed to do the things that helped me feel like myself again- working out and eating things that aren’t necessarily  Spaghettios or Oreos. (Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE those and still enjoy them from time to time, but I also know they don’t make me feel as good as my leafy greens do.) I’m ready to start feeling better about the new person that I’ve become- inside and out.

It’s Love Your Body Week at UND- one of my favorite times of the year. I love the idea of celebrating yourself no matter WHAT. Love your body or not, it’s a great reminder that there is always something to be thankful for.

A friend asked me what I loved about my body the other day. The truth is, since having a baby there isn’t much. Sometimes I like the way my hair falls. And I like my eyes- they seem to be one of the only things that didn’t change with pregnancy and birth. Almost everything else stretched and expanded. It’s incredibly frustrating to have nothing that fits unless it has an elastic waistband or extra fabric gathered around the middle or 3 sizes bigger.

But this friend is one of the more resilient, thoughtful, and positive people I’ve met in my life; she helped me to remember that my body is not just a size. And I suddenly felt as though I had permission to look at my body with love and acceptance as I thought about it’s capabilities.

This beautiful body created and carried and delivered a baby (that’s pretty bada**). My legs carried me for many miles throughout the pregnancy, despite sciatic nerve pain that brought me to tears some days; and now they help me rock.and rock and bounce.and bounce.and bounce.and bounce until our little one finally quiets and drifts off to sleep. My arms are strong enough to carry her from place to place and give her a bath almost every night- a favorite time of the day for both of us alike. My mouth allows me to make funny faces and noises that bring a smile to her sweet face…oh how I love those sweet little smiles.

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Geez, when I stop and really think about it… my body is pretty dang awesome. Sure, my clothes may never fit the same again… or at least not for quite awhile… but in the meantime it’s doing exactly what I need it to be doing. And I LOVE it for that, and I accept where it’s at- stretchy waistbands and all.

And now I turn to you, Dear Reader, and feel inclined to ask:

What do YOU love about YOUR body?

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Keep Moving

I tried to get off the couch last weekend, only to realize that this baby inside of me is slowly robbing me of my ability to bend and move as easily… and sometimes, at all. Now I knew this day would come. I’ve had moments of struggling to bend over or get up off the ground… but not like this. This was laughable– like a turtle stuck on its back. I think my loving husband and dog enjoy the show every time I get up to use the bathroom or grab a snack.

When I sleep at night, it’s become a major feat to roll from one side to the other. Occasionally I will stop for a breather when I’m on my back. And to get up when I need to pee? Let’s just say I’m glad we have a firm mattress or we’d be in some SERIOUS trouble.

In the very beginning of my pregnancy, I was often so tired and winded that working out was something I dreaded and barely made it through, but I was determined to keep moving. I figured that by my 7th month I could possibly be couch or bed bound because this was my first pregnancy and you just never know about those things, so I made pact with myself to move while I could. I also mapped out strategies like looking into a swimming pass to help relieve the potential aches and pains I heard so much about.
But for the time being, I wanted to keep moving. Walking the dog. Making it to the gym most days of the week. Dusting off the ol’ walking videos in the basement. Zumba-ing my heart out. Whatever it took.

I’m proud and relieved to report that I’m at the point of “any day now” with my pregnancy and I am still able to take our dog for a “long walk” occasionally (FYI: “Long walks” are anywhere from 1.5-2 hours… “Walks” are around an hour… and “Barely Even” means that we walked 30 minutes or less) Granted there are days where she more or less walks me, but we get there. And back. And then collapse on the couch until it’s snack time- which cannot be missed.

I was thinking about it while being walked by the dog the other day… I cannot believe how fortunate I am to still be able to walk that long. Granted, it takes me a lot longer to walk a shorter distance thanks to constant potty breaks and occasional leg pain/numbness… but still. I’m moving.

And do you know why I think I’m still moving like this? Because in the beginning I kept moving. I stuck to my commitment. (I also LOVE double stuffed Oreos and peanut butter/peanut M&Ms, so I told myself I had to find some sort of “balance.”) No matter what the reason, I stuck with it for the past several months. And I truly believe it’s made all the difference.

Now… you may be reading this thinking, “Who cares?! I’m not pregnant. This is irrelevant.” But try to see the big picture. It’s been about making a commitment to physical activity or something to do with living a healthy life and sticking with it… and then seeing results. So maybe the scale isn’t where I’d like to see it at this point in my pregnancy, but I’m still moving. And I hope it will continue to be a reward with a faster labor and delivery. I guess we’ll (hopefully) find out soon!

What kind of commitment can you make today? It doesn’t have to be a big, huge, extravagant goal. You don’t have to walk forever like I do (for me, walking is thee BEST therapy). Start small and work your way up. I bet it will surprise you how amazing and capable your body is when you push a little bit at a time.

So what you do say?
Let’s make your pact…

A *bit* of Credit.

As I approach most new and different things in life, I generally have the same mindset.

It goes something like this:
“I can’t do this. I’m going to say the wrong thing. I won’t be good enough. They’re going to get rid of me/dislike me. Someone will do better after me. Someone did better before me. I can’t do this. I shouldn’t do this.” And so on.

I get stuck in a spiral of negative self-doubt.  It’s terrifying and… exhausting.

To be honest, I have no idea where it came from. I have been surrounded by a lot of encouraging and loving people in my life who have lifted me up and given me confidence in my abilities… yet… I still go back to that same black hole. Every. Time.

Motherhood is quickly approaching. Part of me wants to keep this little one safely inside of me forever. And to be completely honest, a selfish part of me is terrified of the changes we’re going to face when we add one more human to our mix. Right now, aside from the occasional leg cramp or ache, life is pretty predictable. I can come and go as I’d like. I can eat when and what I want. I can take a nap when I need it. I know my schedule and have a pretty good idea of how the day will go. And I like it like that.

But that’s all about to change. In just a few short weeks, our whole world will be flipped upside down. All of the control will go out the window, and our lives will be dictated by a tiny little creature that we created. If parental personalities and tendencies have anything to do with it, I already KNOW this one is going to be stubborn and independent. And Mom and Dad will learn a whole new level of patience and acceptance. (And Dad will be even LATER every time we left the house.)

I can’t do this. I mean, I’m not ready.

“How are we going to get through all of the sleepless nights without turning on each other?” “What happens when/if breastfeeding doesn’t come along quickly enough or easily enough?” “Will I have the love that I need to be a good mother?”

Those of you who are already parents are chuckling right now; you know the answers to all of these questions, and perhaps you’re reliving those “glory days and nights” of old…

It’s time to stop and get real.

I *CAN* do this. After all, it’s a little late to go back now, right? I’m guessing that the sleepless nights, breastfeeding, and love will come much more naturally and easily if I start by believing in myself. This little one is going to believe in me and rely on me… and the least I could do is give myself a *bit* of credit to start the journey off on the right foot.

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Where do you need to start giving yourself more credit?

A new kind of Bump.

When I was younger, my “life plan” was to be married by 20 and have at least one child by 21. I was also going to live in a purple house and play saxophone for the former President Clinton. (Because he was President at the time, also played the saxophone,  and I was obsessed with that instrument.)

Then life happened.

I starting losing weight… graduated from high school… started college… lost too much weight… struggled to find my purpose… switched colleges and degrees (again)… found a healthy and attainable weight… graduated from college… first “big kid” job in a new city… new job in a different city… met a boy and his dog… bought a house… got married… next job…

and now we’re here. I’m almost 29 years old and I don’t live in a purple house. I rarely play the saxophone for ANYONE- definitely NOT the former President.

But, now the “child” thing is happening. I’m 1/2-way to meeting our newest family member, and it’s been quite the journey so far. In terms of symptoms, I’ve had a ridiculously easy pregnancy. Aside from feeling like a walking zombie for most of my baby-growing time, I’ve had just a few aches and ailments, and I’m pretty darn thankful.

My loose skin which has hung so haphazardly for 10 years is now forming into a rounded “bump.” I love that little bump.  I’ve often found myself just holding it- holding my baby– to keep it safe and show love to both the child and my body. It’s important to do that. Just as important has been to surround myself with love having people who support me and lift me up, who encourage me with their words and actions. I’ve felt an outpouring of all of these things since sharing our exciting news and there are so many days that these people have been the reason that I am able to remember how lucky I am.

The biggest struggle in all of this has been in the growing. In the beginning, I can remember having conversations with myself about what pregnancy may entail, and that it WILL include a weight gain. A good and important kind. And there was nothing wrong with it- as long it was done in a healthy way.  I’ve worked so hard on losing and maintaining a weight loss of over 100 pounds, and for the first time since I can remember, I’m having to process that it’s OK to gain. That when a shirt or pant or skirt no longer fits it’s a natural part of the process rather than a sign that I need to kick myself for eating all those peanut M&Ms.
If any of you have lost a significant amount of weight before pregnancy, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a weird (for lack of a better word) thing to have to accept and be OK with. It’s even harder when you have the appetite of a linebacker and a strong addiction to cake and candy and French fries that no longer seems to be avoidable. I’m certain that lost a lot of my self-control, and I swear people can just smell it on me… and know just what to offer to make me drool and make my knees buckle. I mean, even the Ice Cream truck drives by me while I’m out walking and by my house at least 4 times a week (I wish I was kidding).

So for now my goal has now been to (try to) eat healthy about 90% of the day (and yes- I do count down the minutes), as well as try to get some form of physical activity in almost every day… I know I eat more than I should, so this way I rest a little easier knowing that I’m trying. Like I said, I’m by no means perfect (like the times I’ve eaten jars of peanut butter as a “snack,” or the entire popcorn cake by myself, or that pan of delicious double cake, or….), but I give it a shot. Every day.  Just like I did before I was growing a human.

I want my child(ren) to grow up with healthy self images and love their bodies rather than avoid any reflective surface because they hate what they see. I want them to see food as fuel rather than “good or bad.” And I want them to enjoy playing rather than feeling like they need to torture themselves with exercise. I know that all of these messages- negative and realistic- are out there. And I know I can be one of the first to send the “right” messages about bodies and health from an early age.

Until Baby D arrives, I can practice being a good role model to those around me by keeping my self-talk positive, by forgiving myself for the jar of peanut butter, by appreciating the fact that I can still exercise and eat what I want.
Being love and showing love.

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