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How to Track Macros While on Vacation

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


DON'T.

Yep, that's right, I said it. Don't track your macros while you are on vacation. Unless you WANT to or have some serious goals you are trying to reach, one week/weekend away from tracking is not going to hurt your progress. In fact, I think it HELPS your progress! Tracking macros can be mentally exhausting. Taking a week/weekend to not track and just enjoy life is necessary in my opinion. Constantly worrying about how you're going to log food into My Fitness Pal is not healthy. It can lead to obsessive behaviors around food and restriction which can lead to eating disorders. 

Even though there are no "good" or "bad" foods when it comes to macro counting, there are certain foods that are challenging to fit into your daily diet. Impossible? Absolutely not. But challenging, yes. A macro counter might plan to have a FroYo treat so they are mindful to eat lower carbs throughout the day in order to compensate. Which is great! But when you're exploring a new place with your favorite person or people, you don't want to worry about if a certain food is going to "fit your macros". And you probably don't have an idea of where you are going to be eating everyday. One of my favorite things to do while exploring a new place is to dive into their food by just walking around and following the smells (or Google reviews). 

The last thing you want to do is regret not eating that flaky croissant, or trying every single gyoza in Japan (just me?). Life is way too short to not eat all the foods. EAT ALL THE FOODS!

So you followed my advice, went on vacation, ate all the foods. 


Now what?

Go back to life as normal! Don't restrict. Don't reduce calories. Just jump right back in where you left off! If you've been tracking macros for awhile you will probably notice that you are craving plain, wholesome foods. Chicken, rice, fresh veggies maybe? That's what I crave after a weekend away! Keep it simple, and again, don't restrict.

All of that being said, there are some things that you can do while on vacation to keep your health game strong.

Don't skip meals. Bring some instant oatmeal or cream of wheat that you can easily heat up in your hotel room while getting ready for the day! I like to bring some whey in a baggy to mix in for extra protein and to keep me fuller longer. I hate when I'm starving and trying to find somewhere to eat in a new place. I always end up settling on something that isn't necessarily good and regret it! Some other things that are eat to pack and keep you full are Belvita crackers, almonds, mixed nuts, trail mix, protein bars, nut butter, apples, clementines.

Eat your veggies. Get a side salad or steamed/sautéed veggies with your burger and fries. Micronutrients are still important, even on vacation! And you'll feel better, too.

Drink water. Traveling can be very dehydrating. I don't know about you guys, but whenever I'm flying, driving, training (is that right? lol), I tend to forget to drink water. Especially with a baby now! So I always make sure I have my Hydroflask filled with cold water and in a convenient place in my luggage so that I see it and remember to drink it. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger so staying hydrated will keep your hanger at bay :)

Walk. Walk whenever you can. If you're in a new city, awesome! You have so much room to walk and explore. If you're at the beach, even better! Who doesn't love a long walk on the beach at sunrise or sunset?? If you're visiting family, great! Take a long walk instead of sitting around the TV. I bet the conversations will be much better!
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I absolutely love macros as a tool for overall health. I truly believe it is a great way to understand your body and its needs. It's a balanced approach that requires patience, but the results you get (both physically and mentally) will last a lifetime. It's time to put an end to yo-yo dieting and extreme exercising. Eat what you love and exercise because you want to. Go on vacation and feel good in your shoes. Enjoy the season of life that you are in. You got this!

Have questions about macros? Shoot me an email or reach out to me on Instagram! If you're ready to get started with macros, click here to see what I offer. I would love to hear from you! 



Eleanor Anne: A Natural Hospital Birth Story

Saturday, June 30, 2018




Sunday, June 24th
Chris and I got up and went to church, went out for breakfast afterwards and came home to relax. We sat outside for about an hour and then I went inside to take a little cat nap. It was a pretty normal day! I talked to Chris about our appointment scheduled for the following day and whether or not I should get my membranes stripped. After talking to him more we decided to just let my body do its thing and opt out. After all, I was already 4cm dilated, 90% effaced and baby Elle was at station 0. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, a lot of lower abdominal cramping the week prior and I lost my mucus plug. We cooked a delicious dinner together and stayed up a little later than usual, watching Netflix and just enjoying each others company. 

Monday, June 25th
I woke up around 12:15am to some serious, full on contractions. They started in my lower back and made their way to the front. I decided to wake Chris up at 1:00am because the back pain was getting worse and I needed some counter-pressure. He started timing the contractions and they were lasting 3-4 minutes and were 10-15 minutes apart. We got out of bed around 1:45 and got on my hands and knees on the birth ball, where the contractions intensified and got closer together. At this point Chris contacted our doula (Amara, she’s amazing) and she recommended getting into the bath and trying to relax a little bit and to let her know when they were 5 minutes apart. I sat in the bath for about 20 minutes while Chris got everything ready to go to the hospital. The contractions were getting longer and stronger and were hard to track because they had two “peaks”. They would start off slow, intensify, slow back down and then intensify again before tapering off…it was not fun! When I got out of the bath I went straight back to my hands and knees on the birth ball with Chris applying counter-pressure to my back. By 3:40am the contractions were 2-3 minutes long and just under 5 minutes apart, so Chris had Amara head over. I continued to labor on my hands and knees on the birth ball and when Amara got here we pretty much decided it was time to go with how quickly the contractions were intensifying. We were out the door on the way to the Midwifery Center just before 5am.

I hardly remember the drive, just that the pressure from sitting was unbearable and that I could not wait to stand! We got to the ER (the Midwifery Center is attached to a hospital) about 15 minutes later and the check-in process was as ridiculous as it is in the movies…that’s about the only thing Hollywood got right LOL Even though I had done all of the pre-registration, I still had to fill out a little form, give my social and ID and wait for a nurse to escort me in a wheel chair. By this point I was in a lot of pain and pretty vocal with my contractions as I was humming through them. 

The ride in the wheelchair up the the midwifery center was also terrible, because like I said, sitting was unbearable for the pressure and back labor. When I got to my room the tub was being filled up and everything was ready for me to go, but I had to be on the fetal heart monitor for 20 minutes before I could get in or walk around. As they were checking baby’s heart rate they checked my cervix and I was 7cm dilated!! SEVEN CENTIMETERS! I was so happy. I was terrified that I was going to be only 4-5cm. At this point the sun was starting to come up so I think it was around 6-6:15am and I got into the birth tub. IT WAS AMAZING! I got on my hands and knees for a couple contractions and then Amara recommended lifting one leg up and lunging through some contractions. 

I was in the tub for about an hour and I started feeling the need to push so I got out. This is when the midwife asked me if my water had broken, and it hadn’t. She brought up breaking my waters just to speed up the process and I decided to go for it. This is where the story gets interesting…

The midwife broke my water and discovered A LOT of meconium (baby poop). This can be concerning and opted me out of continuing to labor and give birth in the midwifery center, and I had to be transferred to labor and delivery (just down the hall). I honestly wasn’t as upset as I thought I would be at the transfer…I think I was just hyper-focused on Eleanor and getting her out healthy. I knew that I could still successfully do this unmedicated, no matter where I was. Once in my L&D room, I had to be on continuous fetal monitoring which limited me to the bed, but we made it work! We raised the bed and I went through some contractions on my hands and knees, and some lunging, and I had to continue to fight the urge to push by doing lots of shallow, quick breathing and “horsey lips”. I did not realize how hard it was to fight the urge to push! But it also made me think about how smart my body was and to trust it, my midwife and my doula. 

It got harder and harder to not push, so the midwife checked my cervix again. I was 9.5cm dilated, BUT there was just a lip of cervix stuck on Eleanor’s head. So with the next contraction I pushed while the midwife moved the cervix. This was around 8am. I pushed on my hands and knees for awhile and then the midwife suggested that I empty my bladder…this was impossible for me. I sat on the toilet for a minute but when the contraction came i jumped up because I thought she was going to fall out in the toilet! LOL if only it were that easy. The nurses put wireless monitors on my belly and Amara got out the Rebozo and secured it to the bathroom door because she knew I wanted to do some pushing in the squatting position. I think I made it through 2 contractions here and realized it wasn’t for me! I couldn’t get the hang of pushing in this position. I went back to the bed and after pushing on my hands and knees for awhile, the fetal heart monitor showed that Elle’s heart rate was slowing down so the midwife suggested I get on my side. I labored here with the peanut ball between my legs for awhile (I completely lost track of time), and soon they called in the Labor & Delivery doctor to check out baby’s heart rate. He told me that if her heart rate didn’t improve, we might have to intervene with forceps, vacuum or worse case scenario, c-section. At this point I was in full on “get this baby out mode” and was determined to not have any interventions so it was GAME ON. Apparently while I continued to push the nurses brought in the vacuum but I didn’t even see it—Chris told me this later. But, after switching pushing positions a couple times Elle’s heart rate was back to normal! 

I continued to push and push and finally the midwife says, “look at that hair!” It was the motivation I needed to keep going—I was getting TIRED. I continued to push for another hour from that point. Yes, you read right. AN HOUR! Once she was further down in the birth canal, I actually got to see that head of hair and experience the “ring of fire”…they are NOT lying with that name! That was the only time in my labor (I think lol) that I said “it hurts”. But, I reminded myself that I was built for this, pain is temporary and Amara kept saying, “breathe and stretch“ which was SO helpful in reminding me that I did not want to tear. My midwife also kept getting warm wash clothes and pressing them on my vagina which felt so, so good. Once the midwife realized that Eleanor would be here soon, she told me that if she comes out crying, she can come straight to my chest, but if she doesn’t make a noise she’s going straight to the nurses. I slowly but surely pushed out her head, and this is when they realized she was “sunny side up”, meaning that her belly was facing my belly. This is why my cervix was stuck and why I had such bad back labor. I was so amazed when I looked down and saw her head, I couldn’t believe I still had to push out her shoulders! But with the next contraction I did just that and at 9:59am she was HERE and she was crying! She came straight to my bare chest and I looked at Chris and we both had tear-filled eyes. We did this! And she was so alert!! AND I did not tear! I pushed for a total of two hours. It honestly was such a blur it doesn’t feel like it was that long! I found that the most comfortable/efficient pushing position was laying on my side, holding my legs up. Since I had never pushed before, this was easiest for me to really bear down. 

The nurses started cleaning her off while she was on my chest—she was COVERED in meconium. Chris cut the umbilical cord, and then it was time to push out the placenta. The midwife pushed on my belly and gave a little tug and with one last push the placenta was out. It was GREEN from the amount of meconium in the womb! I have a picture, but i figured I would keep that to myself lol 

After I got some skin-to-skin (maybe 10-15 mins), they took Elle to get all of the meconium out of her belly and nose. They had to stick a tube down her throat to get it all out, but I am thankful that they did because it was A LOT. You know what else there was a lot of? Blood. Yes, I knew there would be blood but I didn’t realize how much would be coming out of me! Anyways, after the placenta was out and Elle was all cleaned out, we got our “golden hour” with her. We were able to establish breastfeeding with the help of Amara and I could’t believe how alert she was! She had an APGAR score of 9. I was so proud! The rest of golden hour consisted of Chris and I staring at our beautiful baby girl, him telling me how proud and amazed he was by me and talking with Amara about the crazy-amazingness that just happened.

Even though things did not go perfectly from the outside looking in, it was absolutely perfect from the inside looking out. We got our baby girl in the end. I had my husband there cheering me on the whole time. I did it unmedicated. Eleanor is healthy. I am healthy. GOD IS SO GOOD. 

Here are some photos that Amara snapped: 
Right when we arrived at the midwifery center and had to be monitored for 20 minutes.

By far the most comfortable I was all labor! The tub was AMAZING. And look at Chris...he is the sweetest. I could not have done this without him. 
After being transferred to L&D...stuck to the bed but making it work! 

My unicorn baby! She had a perfect 7cm circle on her head.  
So, so happy <3


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Why I am Choosing a Natural Childbirth: The Facts

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Let me start out by saying that there is no right or wrong way to have a baby. Your choice is your choice and mine is mine. In the end, we all are trying to do what’s best for our little ones! We can do the same research and come out with different opinions. And that's OKAY! I just wanted to share a little more insight on why I am choosing a natural, unmedicated birth. 

In my previous post about choosing a natural childbirth, I talked about my inspiration (read here). Today I’m going to go into the facts and my (condensed) research, with a splash of opinion, about natural childbirth. My goal for this blog post is to educate others and share facts that may not be commonly known. My goal is NOT to tell you why medicated births are bad/wrong (because they're not!) or to offend or guilt anyone. How you want your labor and delivery to go is 100% up to YOU, and I do not judge any momma out there for their choices! There are reasons that interventions exist, as they have saved many women and babies. I am not here to pass judgement on others, or to scare people into having an unmedicated birth, or vice versa. Do your research and make educated decisions that best suits YOU! 

Alright, time to dive in...

First and foremost, I have to point out that God handcrafted women to cary and bear babies. We ARE capable! We ARE strong! We don't [all] NEED interventions! I am confident in my ability to go forth with an unmedicated birth because He gives me strength. He created this body, crafted so perfectly to grow and birth a baby human. How amazing is that?! When we stop thinking about childbirth being a punishment (some believe that women experience pain in childbirth because Eve ate the forbidden fruit) and start thinking about it as a gift that we are blessed to be able to experience, our mindsets change. Change your mindset, change your life :)

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10 

Babies born without an epidural or other pain medications are more alert.
Babies born without and epidural have a higher Apgar score. This is a quick way in which physicians measure the health of a newborn by their appearance, pulse, grimace (reflex/response), activity, and respiration. Midwives and physicians all around the globe have observed that babies born without interventions are more alert. 
Why is a having an alert baby important?
One (very important) reason is breastfeeding! Your baby already has those instincts, and adding medications to the mix can interfere with them. A drowsy baby is less likely to be interested in breastfeeding due to lack of energy and also interference with natural hormones (mom's and baby's). Oxytocin (aka the love hormone) is released naturally during and after birth and while breastfeeding, aiding in the bond between mom and baby. It also is responsible for contractions during labor, helps slow down bleeding after birth, and contracts mom's uterus post-birth. I'm getting off topic, I could talk about the benefits of breastfeeding for hours :) 
In the end, there is not enough evidence (for me, at least) to prove that an epidural or other pain medications do not affect the baby or have long term affects on the mom. Actually, the FDA has addressed that they do indeed cross the placenta and therefore to the baby.

[Opinion: We are told all throughout pregnancy to never take these medications, don’t eat these foods, don’t lift more than this amount of weight, etc., because it they are bad for the baby. So why is it all of a sudden okay to be pumped with pain meds when going through labor and delivery? I mean, we can't even have Ibuprofen for crying out loud! Just a thought.]

You are free to walk around and move to whatever position is comfortable.
The freedom to walk around and change positions is crucial for me. I don't sit still long. Ever. And I know I will be the same while laboring! I like being in control of my body and being able to feel movements (hence the love for working out and weight training!).
Epidurals limit you to the bed. When an epidural is chosen by the patient (or physician), so is an IV, continuous fetal monitoring, blood pressure monitoring and in some cases even a catheter. So not only are momma's legs numb from the epidural, but she also has an IV and fetal monitor attached to her, keeping her in one position. This forces momma to push on her back which, in my opinion, is the least effective way to push a baby out. This position narrows the size of a woman's pelvis, making it more difficult for baby to get through the birth canal, causing stress to the baby and could potentially put mom at a higher risk of tearing. Add this increase in baby's heart rate to momma's fever (side effect of epidural) and you have yourself an emergency c-section in the making :(

Unmedicated births have a decreased risk of an unnecessary cesarean.
This topic is a little controversial. As with everything else on this post, do your own research and make the best decision for YOU! Generally speaking, labor interventions do cause more labor interventions. 
I think the easiest way to explain this is by describing a typical hospital birth:
(my opinion, based on research and fellow momma's birth stories)
  1. Mom gets medically induced (stripping of membranes, administering oxytocin/pitosin)
  2. Mom can't handle the pain from the contractions that the Pitosin is causing (Pitosin contractions can be more intense and last longer with little-to-no breaks than naturally-occurring contractions) and opts for an Epidural.
  3. The Epidural helps mom's pain but the contractions are just as intense, causing baby to become distressed (increased heart rate), and/or Mom gets a fever as a side-effect from the medications.  
  4. Baby's distress is recorded on the fetal monitor, Mom's fever is recored and doctor stresses that it's time for this baby to come out. Mom is either given and episiotomy, the doctor has to use forceps or vacuum extraction or Mom is wheeled out for an emergency cesarean.
So, you can see in this scenario that Mom could have reduced her chance of a cesarean by letting her body labor naturally. Again, this is a GENERIC scenario that I have seen and heard many times. I am by no means putting blame or guilt on any Mom out there who chose/chooses interventions! The end result is a healthy baby and that's what matters. My point here is to show how one intervention leads to the next. 

The rate of cesarean in the US is 31.9%. To put that into perspective, the World Health Organization recommends a cesarean rate of 10-15%. While we are down 1% since last year, we still have a ways to go in improving this statistic. Babies born vaginally have a lower risk of respiratory issues and are exposed to protective bacteria that boost their immune systems. Not to mention, cesarians are a major (expensive) surgery! They cause mom to be bed-ridden for weeks after having baby. This is can affect mom and baby's relationship, breastfeeding and can even cause postpartum depression. All things that I would like to avoid if I can! **I am NOT saying that every momma will have these affects post-cesarean. Every momma is different. Every baby is different. Every birth is different**


Unmedicated births are less expensive. 
Now, I must say that your insurance, country and state all play huge roles in this. I'm sure there are cases out there where a medicated birth was less expensive than an unmedicated one. You could have a medicated birth and it cost next to nothing with your insurance, or pay $1000+ to have an unmedicated birth at a hospital having no insurance. This is something you would have to look into as an individual. But on average, medicated births do cost more money. You (or your insurance) will have to pay for an induction (e.g. pitosin), pain medication (e.g. Demerol), epidural, c-section (this is a major surgery, people!), extended hospital stay due to complications from those listed, so on and so forth. Either way, the hospital is making more money off of a medicated birth.
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Most important thing: Make an informed choice for YOU from a place of knowledge and NOT out of fear. Don’t choose to have a natural birth just because you read this blog post. Don’t choose a voluntary C-Section or induction because that’s what some other blogger said. If you want an unmedicated birth, do your research. If you want a hospital birth, do your research. If you want a home birth, do your research. If you want an epidural, do your research. If you want a c-section, do your research. I can’t say it enough: Do your research! And don’t believe every little thing you read or hear. Find the FACTS! 

No matter how you choose (or chose) to give birth, you are no less or more of a woman than the one who chooses (or chose) to do the opposite. No matter what you choose, realize that things can change in a matter of seconds [while my intention is to have an intervention-free labor and delivery, I will always do what is best for baby]. No matter how you labor and give birth, you are a super woman and don’t ever let anyone tell you different. 

I want to leave you with this quote by Dr. Robert Bradley, developer of The Bradley Method, from his book "Husband Coached Childbirth": 

"Birthing, like swimming, although a normal function, requires knowledge and training to perform. Both can be an exhilarating experience when properly performed and a very dangerous experience when fear or ignorance interfere."

As always, thank you so much for reading. This was one of the toughest blog posts I've ever written, just because the topic is so controversial. I hope that I was able to strike a fire within you to want to learn more <3




















PREGNANCY

The Second Trimester

Thursday, April 05, 2018


Hi friends!

I made it through the second trimester, which is weeks 13 through 27.

I was really looking forward to the second trimester. The trimester that the miscarriage rate decreases tremendously, that my nausea was supposed to die down, when we will find out the gender and share the news with everyone! 

Everyone told me, "don't worry it'll all go away once you're in the second trimester!". WRONG. I was still miserable those first couple weeks. I could only eat cold foods until about noon, and then I could maybe eat normally without feeling like I was going to vom. Overnight oats, green grapes and mandarin oranges were my JAM! 

I started my job when I was about 13 weeks along. Like I said above, I was still feeling nauseous in the mornings, but I was finally starting to gain some energy back which was convenient! God's timing, man. It's always perfect! 

At week 15ish I caught a nasty cold that had been going around the office 👎 To say I was miserable would be an understatement. Runny nose, sore throat, body aches, sinus and ear pressure...the whole nine yards! And that baby stuck around for 3 stinkin' WEEKS! Phew, we made it though fam. Homemade chicken noodle soup, Netty pot, Vick's Vapor Rub, and cough drops FTW. There is nothing worse than losing the ability to taste...especially when you have all the cravings and nothing can satisfy them! Lol.

At 18 weeks, I felt movement for the first time! I had actually called my Doula that morning because I was worried that I hadn't felt movements yet. I fell into the comparison trap and thought that since this girl who is only a few (gestational) days ahead of me has been feeling movements since week 15, something must be wrong with me! *eyeroll* Luckily my amazing doula talked some sense into me, explained what movement feels like, when you usually start to feel like in your first pregnancy (18-20 weeks) and told me how great I was doing thus far. So I decided not to call the midwives and give it a few more days. That day at work I was just typing away and *BOOP*, there she was! I immediately pushed my hand against where I thought the movement came from and *BOOP*, there it was again! So I sat there smiling and choking back tears in my cubicle 😅  That night laying in bed, reading Ina May obviously, I felt it again! I grabbed Chris's hand a brought it to my belly. We waiting patiently and after about 3 minutes she *BOOP*'d us again! What an amazing, incredible feeling. I am so thankful Chris was able to feel it too. This is when things really started to feel "real" for us. 

At week 19, my mom, sisters and mother-in-law came to visit and we did the 3D ultrasound where we found out the gender! Chris was there too, obviously. It was such a cool experience! You better believe I cried when the ultrasound tech told us "it's a girl!". The weeks leading up to that day friends and family would ask me if I had a preference of gender and every time I would say, "There are pros to both and cons to neither" 😊  I had absolutely zero intuition on what baby's gender was. They say that momma knows, but this momma had no clue! But, when I had to guess for a poll I took I said boy. The poll results were: 9 votes for girl and 3 for boy. Chris of course "knew" it was a girl the whole time! 

Baby girl did not want us to see her face for this ultrasound, but had no problem showing her hiney! Which I am thankful for, because if it were the other way around we may have not been able to tell her gender. We will just have to talk about modestly in a couple years 😉


Baby butt and feet. At least she was a lady and crossed her legs! 

How cool is it that you can see her spinal cord?? Absolutely amazing. 19 weeks.
At 20 weeks I got to SEE her kick, or "BOOP" for the first time! I was laying in bed reading (Ina May, of course) and I felt her kick. I put my hand where I had felt it and continued to feel her move while I read. Then it occurred to me that if I could feel her kick, I might be able to see her kick! So I lifted the covers up and watched for a minute and *BLOOP* there she was! So cool. A couple nights later Chris got to see. 

Also at 20 weeks was our second and last sonogram. It was so special to see her again. The ultrasound tech looked at all four chambers of her heart to make sure they were working correctly, as well as her brain and stomach, and even counted all of her vertebrae! It's so amazing what they can see through a sonogram. The ultrasound tech said I have a "great pelvis" and that she would sonogram me any day of the week! Haha 


Weeks 20-28 were great for working out. My energy was up and I started working out early in the morning before work! It feels great to just get it done. The only complaint I have about this timeframe is the heartburn. I have never ever dealt with heartburn before and I get it from the weirdest things! Like cheese and trail mix. Not citrus fruits, pastas or spicy foods. 

Things I learned:

Placenta brain is a real thing. I am constantly forgetting where I put things, why I walked into a room and having a terrible time trying to concentrate! Days that I start off with some good, healthy fats definitely helped. 

You can never do enough research. I am constantly reading new research and books about childbirth and learning new things- and I LOVE it! I encourage all momma's-to-be to take some time out of their day to read about how they can have the best birthing experience. 

Cat-cow yoga movements are way underrated. I started doing these at least once a day around week 23, along with child's pose and down dog. They have helped with my breathing, engaging my core, opening my hips and basic stretching!

Cravings:
Cucumbers and vinegar
Anything spicy (Indian and Thai food, hot sauce and/or Sriracha on everything)
Green grapes
Blueberry anything (waffles, bagels, english muffins)
Pancakes/waffles

Books I'm reading (in addition to those noted in First Tri recap):
Husband Coached Childbirth by Robert Bradley
The Vaccine Book by Robert Sears
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman 

Anyways, I hope you all enjoyed this little recap and maybe got a couple laughs out of it! I love sharing this journey with you all.