What a difference a year can make...

I haven't written on this blog in over 2 years but thought it would be a good place to share what I've been working on this past year. I am pretty embarrassed to share this story and these images with you but know it will help me to stay accountable and keep moving forward. I guess I can start my story from the beginning...high school.

In high school I was on cheer and we worked out a TON! I ate whatever I wanted and never worried because 3 hours of cheer practice would wipe it out. I always stayed in the low 120s...bigger than all my friends but very healthy for my height. I maintained this for the first two years of college...I didn't gain a pound!   In 2007 Brant and I got married and literally I started gaining weight the next month! What the heck?! No change in my {horrible} diet and no change in exercising {sometimes}. On the day we found out we were pregnant, I was 143. I was not happy with that...the year before I had been able to maintain in the high 130s with lots of running and a personal trainer. I didn't change my diet, though, and only lost a few pounds. By my first midwife appt I was down to 136...I really should not have lost weight but I was very nauseous and couldn't eat much. And much to my surprise, I could not stand the thought of sweets! I actually didn't touch very many sweet things until about 35 weeks. It took me forever to get back to pre-pregnancy weight and then on the day I delivered I had only gained 15lbs total...something I do not recommend. I dealt with pre-term labor and anemia of pregnancy...hmm both things coincide with poor weight gain during pregnancy. I was not expecting any of this...with how I had been gaining weight I thought for sure I would gain 40-50lbs...pretty common now a days with the food we consume...carbs and sugar! I came home 12 hours after giving birth and had lost 11 lbs...by day three I had lost all 15 lbs that I gained. By 4 months post-partum I was only nursing (not eating better or exercising) and was 137. I was pretty excited. But all of the sudden, my eating like I was still nursing 10-12 times a day caught up with me.  Brooke dropped nursing sessions much sooner than other little ones and while we made it to 15 months of nursing, she just didn't do it  more than was necessary to keep her little body going.

Long story short...by 18 months postpartum I was at 150.2 lbs. I felt AWFUL. I knew it could be much worse but I just didn't feel good. I had no energy and I was breaking out like crazy! This was not a "you just had a baby" problem. I decided enough was enough and I was going to change things once and for all! I worked on my eating habits first...lots of tracking what I was eating! Once I started to notice I was dropping weight from better eating, I then added in exercise. DVDs from http://www.momsintofitness.com/ really helped me get going. I also got back into running and was doing a local boot camp for a while. Over the last year I slowly dropped the weight and am now down to 130 lbs even...that's 20 LBS!!! I have SO much more energy {most of the time ;-)} and my skin has cleared up considerably. So without further ado...here are my before and after pics...eek! You can click to make them bigger...if you really want to, LOL! These are from this same week last year and tonight...

I have some toning to do now! Lindsay Brin from Moms Into Fitness just put out a new DVD series called Pretty Fierce: Lean Out for getting lean once you only have 5-10lbs left to lose and it's been at least a year since you've had your little one. I have my copy and I can't wait until next week to start...I wanted to give my darn knee at least two weeks to heal...darn runner's knee!

My diet has changed a lot over the last year...even from what I was initially doing to lose weight. As a nurse I knew I couldn't just eat in a way that I thought was "healthy" but wanted to do lots of research and find what was actually true! After LOTS of books, blogs, internet searches...I kept coming to the same conclusions...

*Our society's main issue is carbs and sugar...grains and processed sugar specifically. Huge spikes in insulin and blood glucose are not good and that's exactly what these cause. We tell type 2 diabetics to lower carb and sugar consumption...if they truly follow the diet their blood sugar levels stabilize and many not only lose weight but become much healthier all around. Why are we waiting to tell people to watch the consumption of these only once they are diabetic?! Many people (even skinny people!) are pre-diabetic and have no idea.
*Grains of any kind, even "super grains" like quinoa, can cause inflammation within your body...they cause lots of tummy upset/acne/migraines not just to those with true Celiac disease.
*Healthy fat is your friend...eating "low-fat" items is much worse because they have to put extra junk in it to make it taste better! Even skim-milk has more sugar than whole milk! The US went "low-fat" around 1957 and yet we have a bigger obesity epidemic than ever! Hmm...
*Obviously fresh fruits and veggies are good for you but it's also about WHERE they come from...if they are grown in poor soil and covered in pesticides they will NOT have the same nutritional value. Eggs that come from chickens that roam freely and eat what they please are proven to have my high Omega-3 fatty acid. Oh and meat...yeah our meat is NOT supposed to be eating corn!

Here are some great books/documentaries that really explained to me not only what was happening in my body when I ate what the government would call healthy {and no I am not a bigger government conspiracy person, LOL!} but also what is going on with the food in the US today:

*Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism (Maria Emmerich) http://www.marianutrition.com/
*It Starts With Food
* Food Inc
*Forks Over Knives (although I think becoming a vegetarian is good for some just not me)

Anyways, after all of this research {which I continue to do}...I think the answer for me is Paleo. There are tons of books and websites that go in depth and exactly what this is (there are more strict versions and more lenient ones) but for me it means:
*NO grains of any kind
*NO fake butter
*NO fake sugar (thankfully I never did "diet" anything before because I hate the taste it leaves. Did you know aspartame is actually an amino acid and one of the only "foods" that can cross the blood-brain barrier...not good!)
*Organic (as much as possible) fruits and veggies
*Grass-fed/free-range meats
*Organic/free-range eggs
*Organic/grass-fed butter
*Organic whole milk and cheeses (minimal amounts...and only white cheeses...did you know they die cheese yellow?! Yeah I didn't know that either until I began this journey.)
*Coconut milk/almond milk (finding ways to make our own because there is only one brand that does not contain carrageenan (dehydrated seaweed...which helps these milks to stay shelf stable and is thought to be carcinogenic but is not known for sure.)
*Coconut/almond flour for baked goods (low carb= no blood sugar spikes)
*Coconut oil for cooking and olive oil for dressings (never knew before that olive oil is not meant to be heated...it becomes unstable and rancid at high temps)

So as you can see it's not just about cutting out grains but eating from the best sources we can. It can be VERY shocking to see an $8.99/lb sticker on your meat but knowing it's actually healthy and not full of chemicals (like ammonia to kill e-coli from cows in meat packing plants) makes it worth it. I know eating this way is NOT an option for every family but as you cut out all the processed stuff...you realize you are spending less on the junk and can put more into the quality items you do want. Also there are farmer's markets for your fruits and veggies and farmers right here in AZ to get quality meat from in bulk which makes it much cheaper. I hope no one takes this as "You HAVE to do this" and "It's the only right way"...it is simply what has worked for me and now our family. In the end, everyone has to do what is best for their family :-)...even little changes can make a huge difference.

As far as Paleo, I want it to become just the way I eat...not a diet. I know I will have slip ups...most people say you really regret it when you do though because it hurts your tummy :-(. Which should tell you something...if you cut out veggies/fruits completely and then try to eat them again there are no side effects but a crazy night of pizza/pasta/cookies could have you in some real trouble! For now, it will be a day to day challenge that if I am serious about my health, will be completely worth it! I also want Brooke, for many reasons not just weight, to have a healthy view of food. I want her to know it's important to care about what she is nourishing her body with and also how her food choices impact the community around her. We may not think it's a big deal to buy food from all over the world but imagine if more people tried to buy locally what that would mean for just our area!

Thanks for reading my novel and if you are at all curious about any of the info I just rambled on and on about like a crazy person...just ask! Excuse any typos/grammar...so not my thing ;-). Oh and I wasn't paid for any of this...I really LOVE everything I recommended!


40 Weeks and Our Sweet Baby Girl...

That's right...in one day we made it to 40 weeks and welcomed Brooke into the world. She was born on her actual due date September 15, 2010 at 1:27am. Only 4% of babies are born on their estimated due date...we feel pretty lucky. She was 6lbs 12oz and 20 in long! After delivery our nurse also told me it was Neonatal Nurses Day...it must have been meant to be, LOL! I'm going to add more pictures but for now I will leave you with Brooke's birth story! It's kind of long but I wanted her to be able to have it for when she is older :-). It has truly been an emotional week but everything has been worth it for her and I am so glad I could document all that happened!

Brooke’s Birth Story

9/14 9:30am I woke up to contractions 6-7 minutes apart.

9/14 12:00am I think this MAY be the start of labor as contractions cont throughout day about 6 minutes apart but we have a midwife appointment today so we will see.

9/14 3:30pm At the birth center for midwife appointment and the contractions are 5-6 minutes apart…I need to sit and rock on birth ball while waiting for the midwife…Susan is our midwife today and she checks me. I am 5-6cm and 90% effaced with Brooke’s head low…it REALLY is labor. She tells us it’s ok to go home for now because the contractions are still far enough apart but that it would be tonight or tomorrow when she would come!

9/14 4:30pm We just left the birth center and WOW checking me must have kick started labor because contractions are 4-5 minutes apart and strong…I am feeling them in my back! I call Auntie Meg to tell her the news. We stop at Wal-Mart to pick up a “birth ball” for me to rock on…walking around Wal-Mart is a little uncomfortable. We then stop at Fry’s to pick up labor snacks…I tell Brant to go in alone and hurry because I am now very uncomfortable. I squirm like crazy in the car while waiting…sitting with back labor is NO fun! We fill up on gas just in case and grab Arby’s (I was starving and it sounded amazing!). I am so uncomfortable in the car now.

9/14 5:30pm I am eating Arby’s and hanging out on the birth ball.

9/14 6:30 I get into warm bath to relax…it feels great and makes a huge difference for my back…I get the feeling Brooke is OP with all this back labor!

9/14 7:30pm We start calling everyone to let them know labor has started.

9/14 9:00pm I continue snacking and drinking plenty of water.

9/14 10:00pm I am somewhere between late first stage and transition…think it’s time to lay down and having Brant give me the massage we learned in Bradley…I need to moan through each contraction now. Contractions are 4 minutes apart…I think I will be doing this throughout the night and until tomorrow some time.

9/14 11:15pm Oh m goodness…in one contraction I hit transition HARD…I jump up and tell Brant we have to go to the Birth Center NOW…there is lots of pressure and contractions every minute!!! Brant runs around like crazy to get everything ready and I call the midwife…she says come NOW! I have to stop every minute to have a contraction…I start crying because I don’t want to have her in the car!

9/14 11:18pm We are in the car and racing to the birth center…people are driving SO slowly around us and I am angry…I feel the contractions completely in my back L but I can moan through them…I can’t believe this is happening.

9/14 11:30pm We pull into birth center and run in…CeCe is the midwife on-call (she was also when Brooke tried to come at 32 weeks so we know her well) and Fania is our nurse…both are super amazing and talk me through everything. CeCe checks me and I am 8-9cm and 100% effaced. Brooke’s head is engaged. The tub is filled so I get ready and jump in! It’s a whirlwind of checking my vitals and listening to Brooke’s heart rate (which did AMAZING the whole time….I remember praying each time the Doppler went to my belly that I would hear that perfect little heartbeat…it was a little scary for me because I kept thinking like a NICU nurse).

9/14 11:43pm Back labor is INTENSE but I am so close I just have to deal with it and meet my little girl…my body starts naturally pushing on its own but I have to make it through some more contractions before I’m ready to push. I pray she doesn’t come too soon…if she waits just a few more minutes she can be born on her due date!

9/15 12:15am We made it to 9/15/10 her original due date and I am officially 40 weeks! I begin pushing and water breaks after two little pushes! Pushing is very hard with the back labor but my body just keeps giving me clues as to what I need to do…CeCe and Fania gently give me tips on what will help bring Brooke down. Brant is being AMAZING…he has not panicked once and knows exactly what he needs to do! This is happening so fast there is no time to really think. I know I can’t turn back now and keep saying out loud that I can do this! Laboring on your hands and knees usually works best for back labor but I think I may have pulled something in my back and my wrists are going numb from holding myself up…they have me get in the most comfortable position I can and it helps SO much. Brooke is right there!

9/15 1:00am My most effective pushing started about this time. I am still able to talk after each push…of course I would be able to J! This part is SO hard but the fastest…I have to be patient and breathe her out. Fania is fanning my face and it feels amazing. Brant is trying to give me as many sips of water as he can…I can’t get enough.

9/15 1:27am Brooke is born peacefully in the tub!!! She looks up at us from the water and Brant and I pull her up to my belly…we are both crying. Oh my goodness she is here and I…WE did this! She cried for just a second then lay calmly on my belly while we waited for her cord to stop pulsing. While we wait we all take turns guessing what she weighs…we all think 7-7 ½ lbs. It takes about 12 minutes or so then they let Brant cut the cord. They have Brant hold her while they finish with me and help me out of the tub. For the next two hours we lay in bed with our sweet beautiful baby girl on my chest. I sip lots of juice and eat cheese and crackers…I need my strength now more than ever.

9/15 3:45am Fania comes to weigh/measure her…she sneaks in just under 7lbs at 6lbs 12oz and 20 in long…she’s perfect! At this time they want me to get up and use the restroom…they know I am weak so the nurse goes very slowly. I end up passing out for a few seconds anyways and we decide it’s best to get an IV with fluids…I didn’t want too many medical interventions for her birth but when it came to our health and safety there were no questions asked. They also check my CBC just to make sure I didn’t lose too much blood or wasn’t anemic before giving birth. (I find out the day after having her that I am anemic and this leads to a whole other story…see the end)

9/15 7:00am Brant goes out and gets us IHOP…it tastes AMAZING and I can’t believe I’m eating IHOP after just having her. My mom, Aunt Gina, and sister arrive from Phoenix to meet her and help us the first day at home. Delivering her with just Brant and I was truly amazing but it is so nice to see family and show her off!

9/15 1:00pm We leave the birth center with our beautiful baby girl.

9/16 10:00 We go to Brooke’s first pediatrician appointment…she is doing great but I really do not feel or look good. The birth center wants us to come back for breastfeeding help and to talk to me about my H&H (Hemoglobin & Hematocrit results).

9/16 11:00am We are back at birth center and trying to breastfeed…I am in tears and in so much pain. They come back with my results and it looks like I am not only pretty anemic now but have been since before having her. After another blood draw I get two liters of fluids there and then after the results come back even lower we are sent to the ER for a blood transfusion. It was so horrible to have our sweet new baby in such a dirty place but her daddy was doing a good job of protecting her. They confirm that I  did not have a hemorrhage after birth but that I have been anemic and the birth put me over the edge. My mom, grandma, and sister show up from Phoenix to take Brooke home. We have to have them bottle feed her for the night with formula…when they take her away I can’t stop sobbing but I know it’s for the best.

9/17 5:30am After a very long night in the ER we arrive back home to our little girl and hope the craziness is over.

9/20 We had a few more speed bumps along the way but I am now feeling MUCH better. They said I could have tried eating very healthy but it would have taken 6 weeks to regain my strength without the blood transfusion. I am so glad I did it. We had a lactation consultant come to the house the afternoon after coming home from the ER and with her help we are now doing very well with breastfeeding. It’s a learning process and we are both getting better at it with each feed. Now only if we can get some sleep?! I want to mention how absolutely amazing Brant has been through all of this but words cannot describe what he has done for me…for our family. We feel truly blessed and thank God for how everything turned out.


7 days left...39 weeks!

**39 week midwife appt update** We had our 39 week appt today! I gained another pound...now up 15 lbs woo hoo! And she definitely dropped as my belly only measured 37 cm! Brooke tried to give us a little scare by having a low resting HR (which she had while I was in the hospital too) so our midwife put me on the monitor for a little while just to make sure. It was so reassuring to have her do this...I think had I been at a Dr. office they would have listened with the doppler for 2 sec and not even noticed. As soon as she put me on though Brooke decided to wake up and kick the monitor (she never has liked it, LOL) and did great through two strong contractions. We go again on Tuesday for our 40 week appt! It's at this one we'll start talking about natural ways to induce labor...I definitely do not want to go all the way to 41 weeks and need Pitocin...it's the devil, LOL!

That's right...just SEVEN days left until her due date! We've been working on lots of little craft projects to keep busy and are actually patiently waiting. I am pretty content with staying pregnant. Of course my back hurts but I love feeling this little girl squirm around inside me and know I only have a little while left to have her all to my self. We've been going on nice walks at Reid Park but no other crazy attempts to evict this little one. Many other mamas on my birth board are trying the entire gamut of "labor inducing" tricks but for the most part I feel too lazy or too scared to try them, LOL!

I actually woke up today and thought my water was leaking. We went in to the birth center to get checked and did an NST (where they hook me up to the monitor to watch Brooke's heart rate and my contractions). It wasn't amniotic fluid and Brooke looked great so we came back home. It was nice to see she was handling the contractions well that I was having...very reassuring :-). It was also wonderful not to have to go through the whole hospital experience over again to find out it's nothing...you just call the birth center, go in, and they have you sit in a comfy recliner in a cozy little room where they monitor you. We have been getting calls daily (sometimes more than once, LOL) from family to see how we are doing. We know they love us and can't wait for her arrival but I am starting think they think we won't tell them when she's coming HAHA! We'll just call a few days later and say "Guess what?!". But even if it's not in the next 24 hours...she is on her way...no doubt about that!

The belly...

Belly shadow :-)

It's getting pretty snug in there!

Sometimes it feels like a have a little watermelon in there...one with legs that likes to poke me, LOL!

Brant working on the belly cast.

Other craft projects from this week! I had a shadow box frame that came a in a kit from a long time ago. The paper that came with it was kind of ugly and I just never did anything with it. We have some adorable scrapbook paper and decided to decorate it on our own...love how it came out. The onsies were just a plain white set of newborn ones that I know she won't be able to wear for long. I just ironed these on...one even has cupcakes on the butt :-).

I already have my Moby wrap but I got email with a code to get this sling for FREE! It came with a matching bracelet and adorable little Babylegs! It'll be nice to have just as another option.


38 weeks!

I can't believe her due date is now just two weeks away! At this weeks midwife appt I didn't have them check me...it was a little too much to handle last time and I felt like I had to recover just from being checked, LOL! But again Brooke's heartbeat was perfect, my belly measure right on at 38 cm, and I have now gained 14 lbs! I am still feeling pretty good...although her little head couldn't be pushing down any harder :-). I think she is getting restless as she never stops squirming now. I am surprised I do not have large bruises on my belly from where she keeps sticking her feet out, LOL! Brant and I have been trying to grab them every time she does it :-). My contractions are starting to get much stronger but are still not consistent.
This week we have finished getting some more things for her room and we even went to Reid Park one night for a very long walk! I decided this week that since my "belly" will not be at the baby shower that I really wanted to make a belly cast as a decoration. We thought if it turned out we might hang it in her room as well. Instead of buying an expensive kit we just went to Michaels and got everything our selves...luckily my husband is very crafty!

The new blog background is called "Brooke"...perfect!

I can just imagine her sucking on her little hand like that :-).


37 weeks!

We made it to 37 weeks and couldn't be more EXCITED! Not only does that mean she is full-term now but that I can deliver at the Birth Center! We feel very blessed. On Friday (8/27) we went to our 37 week midwife appt and found out that I am now 3-4cm dilated, still 80% effaced, and her head is right there! It's weird to me that my body just keeps dilating without me knowing, LOL! Some people are screaming in pain at 3 cm! Now we just have to wait for actual labor to begin...I'm sure with consistent contractions the intensity of labor will kick in but that's what we have everything we learned in Bradley classes for :-). Brooke's heartbeat was in the 140s, my belly measured 36 cm, and I have officially gained 12 lbs (they were very happy about that!).
We were really excited to head to Phoenix after my appt but she said my water could break at any time and that we would need to come right in to have her hear rate checked and what not if this were to happen. We decided it would be safer to not go until after she is born...I was really bummed but I definitely didn't want something to happen to her just because we were 2 hours away or need to deliver at a hospital in Phoenix. Luckily my grandma was sweet enough to come and stay with us from Friday until Wednesday...it was so nice to have her! We were able to do lots of walking while she was here and get a pedicure...it felt wonderful!


New addition to Brooke's room...

Paintings by our wonderful friend Beth! Brooke's room is SLOWLY :-) coming together and when Beth offered to make some canvas paintings for us we couldn't resist.



I've been following a food blog for a while now {Picky Palate} and I made these last night...SO YUMMY!!!

Honeyed Banana Berry Cake Cookies….4 Ingredients!
1 box yellow cake mix
4 large bananas, mashed (about 2 1/2 Cups)
3/4 Cup dried blueberries
4 Tablespoons creamed honey or 2 Tablespoons normal honey
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place all ingredients into stand mixer and beat until just combined.  Will seem sticky, no worries.  Use a cookie scoop and scoop dough onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 11-15 minutes or until cooked through.  Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Original post: http://picky-palate.com/2010/08/19/honeyed-banana-berry-cake-cookies-4-ingredients/