Wednesday, May 27, 2015

TFW Transformation & Advocare 24 Day Challenge

When I first got pregnant with Camden, I immediately knew I was going to want to do something to kick start cleaner eating and post-partum weight loss after his birth.

Given that I was on bed rest, followed by a C-section, I was limited in what I could do for a pretty decent period of time.

One of my best friends, Malerie, is an Advocare Distributor. I've seen her results and the results of her friends and family when they've completed challenges in the past, but I was still hesitant to try. What if it doesn't work for me? What if the herbal cleanse portion makes my sensitive tummy upset?

When Tyler's place of employment, Training for Warriors, began advertising the start of an 8-week fitness and nutrition challenge/transformation, I knew it was game on. You can read more about Training for Warriors here.  After signing up for the TFW transformation, I ordered the Advocare 24 Day Challenge kit, grabbed my water bottle, and it was game on.

Malerie's cousin, Karli, documented one of her Advocare challenges and I thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every entry. It was extremely helpful for me to read some of her meal plan ideas, and to get an overall idea of what her days looked like while on the challenge. I decided to document some of my experiences during the next 24 days and 8 weeks. Maybe it will help someone like Karli's blog helped me, or maybe it will just hold me accountable. Either way, I've convinced myself it's a good idea. ;)

So far on the TFW Challenge, I have started drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of water day (usually more like 70+) and can feel a big improvement in my energy level. I also am focusing on eating cleaner, whole foods (at least one from the Warrior 20 list every day), and more fruits and veggies. I'm also attempting to be more active, regularly.

The Advocare part of my challenge begins this Friday. To prepare for this, I did the following:

Reading, reading, and even more reading. I literally read every.single. blog and Pinterest entry I could find on the challenge and how to best organize myself. I made a list of the "tips" and "hints" I found while, you guessed it, reading.

Bagging. I used sandwich sized baggies to divide out all of my vitamins and supplements into individual days, 1-24, with a few specific notes on days with changes (i.e. when I switch from the cleanse to max phase on day 11, when to measure/weigh, etc.)

(Meal) Planning. I planned out every single dinner (including take out or eat out nights) with whole, clean foods. For example, a whole chicken cooked in the crockpot with lemon slices and fresh rosemary sprigs, with a side of quinoa/brown rice mix. For breakfasts and lunches, I wrote out ideas to choose from during the weeks. I also made a "grabs" list of snack ideas to choose from. I then typed out my meals, created a grocery list, and posted dinner/day assignments on my fridge.

Shopping.  I picked up a blender bottle for my Spark and Fiber drinks, groceries, an extra reusable bottle for water, and a few other goodies to help keep me on track.

Measuring. The benefits to being married to a personal trainer are many. I am being measured on Thursday so that I can track any changes that might occur to my body in the next 24 days and 8 weeks.

You can read about the products I purchased to help me kick start cleaner eating and a post-baby, healthier lifestyle here.  The one optional product I added to my 24 day bundle is the Catalyst, if you were wondering. :)

I'm ready for Friday - wish me luck!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dear, Camden.

Dear Camden,

If all goes as planned, we are one week away from meeting you! For the last several months I have gotten to know you from your kicks, wiggles, the way you respond to music and laughter, and the way in which you are a night owl just like your mommy (used to be).

I know how much you like orange juice, and how you'll respond to my first sip of coffee in the morning. I know you enjoy the soothing feeling of a cat purring, right up against your little body. I know how stubborn you can be in ultrasounds and when others try to get you to perform for them, but I also know that you have the resiliency and strength of someone much older.

Of all of the things I have learned about you so far, my favorite thing has been feeling you learn, in secret. Our secret. I felt you the first time you started wriggling around. The first time you tried stretching your little legs and arms. The first time you began to react to the sound of my voice, and eventually the music and sounds around you. The first time I saw your face on a big TV screen, practicing moving your lips and eyes. The first time you kicked me so hard I thought my rib might fracture - it was simultaneously one of the most painful and beautiful moments of our time together, just the two of us. I remember the first time I saw you "practice breathing" and how happy that made the doctor. I am certain you must have felt my heart beating out of my chest with pride for you.

Camden, I am already so proud of what you have accomplished. While I might not miss the pain, anxieties, and troubles that went along with some of my pregnancy, I will cherish forever the little "getting to know you" moments that you and I have shared.

As I get ready to share you with the world, I want you to know that even though you won't be able to hear my heart from the inside anymore, even though you will no longer rest, blissfully unaware, in my womb; I will always keep you safe. I will always be as proud of your accomplishments, big or small, as I have been for the last 9 months.

I know you're going to be scared. There's a reason God designed it so that we don't remember our birth! I know you won't understand the procedures, the testing, why you had to come early until much later in life. What you will know, at the time of your birth and for the rest of your life, is how very much you are loved.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

34-35 Week Updates

How far along? 34-35 weeks

Total weight gain/loss: About 30 - give or take a few for fluid. I've started retaining some per my OB so I've kind of stopped paying much attention to my weight since they monitor it.

Maternity clothes?  Yes - on weekdays that I have high-risk appointments, I wear maternity jeans and sweaters. On days that I am just home on bed-rest, my uniform consists of non-maternity yoga pants and baggy maternity shirts.
Stretch marks? Still no - trying not to scratch, and to keep my skin hydrated!

Symptoms: Lots of pressure. He is sitting extremely low these days. Lots of nighttime wake-ups/insomnia, contractions and cramps.


Sleep:  Few and far between. I may as well have a baby to feed and change and cuddle if I'm going to be awake this often! ;)

Best moment this week:  Every bit of good news we got about Camden - good fluid levels, good practice breathing, good size, good heart accelerations, etc.

Worst moment this week: Finding out my protein levels are steadily increasing. If they continue on this pattern next week, I will have to be hospitalized and monitored more closely. Every week I get to keep him growing on the inside is a blessing, and I'm trying to focus more on that than my anxieties and fears.

Have you told family and friends: Yes.

Miss Anything? Freedom. Being able to run to Target, take walks, walk around without being exhausted, not having to weigh myself, take my BP, get bloodwork, and go to doctor's appointments so frequently.

Movement: Yes! I love that he is so responsive to my touch and voice now. When I laugh, he rolls his whole body around. He let Tyler see his alien movements of rolling his knees and bottom around my whole stomach this week. I think I enjoyed the look on his face more than even the actual movements. :)

Food cravings/aversions:  Cucumbers and baby carrots. Not sure where that came from.

Have you started to show yet:  Yes!

Gender prediction: It's a B-O-Y! Camden James

Belly Button in or out?  Continuing to pop - not all the way yet (keep cooking, Cam!)

Wedding rings on or off? Off.

Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy, although I do feel more emotional lately. Part gratitude, part excitement, part anxiety, part exhaustion, part hormones.

Looking forward to: Making it past 36 weeks. My goal is to cook this little turkey for at least 36 weeks.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

32-33 Week Updates & Maternity Sneak Peek

How far along? 32-33 weeks!

Total weight gain/loss: More than 20 and less than 30! ;)

Maternity clothes?  Oh yeah.
Stretch marks? Not yet!

Symptoms: More than I care to remember these last two weeks. The highlights: high blood pressure and contractions.


Sleep:  Several wake-ups a night but I've been falling back to sleep pretty quickly lately.

Best moment this week:  Baby showers!

Have you told family and friends: Yes.

Miss Anything? Not being on bed rest. It's going to be a long next few weeks, but I know it's what's best for baby Camden.

Movement: Tons.

Food cravings/aversions:  Strawberry limemades. All day, everyday.

Have you started to show yet:  Yes!

Gender prediction: It's a B-O-Y! Camden James

Belly Button in or out?  More and more every day it pops.

Wedding rings on or off? Off.

Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy, although it's been a rough week.

Looking forward to: Camden growing a few more weeks and then coming out to meet us!!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Florida Baby Shower

With Camden's attempt at being a little escape artist last week, a few hospital visits, a lot of resting and some tears, our Florida shower was a very special treat last weekend! When I walked in, I was immediately blown away by how beautiful the space was, and noted every little detail Tori and Megan created to make the day so special. Not only were we extremely grateful for the hostesses of the beautiful shower, we were so thankful for our out-of-town family and friends in attendance, and blown away by the generosity of everyone who showered us so abundantly! Here are a few of my favorite highlights from the day in words:
  • the lemonade!
  • the jars, straws, and labels for the lemonade
  • the drop off and baggage claim stations
  • the cake pops and their wrapping
  • ALL of the decorations
  • the delicious food
  • the diaper messages
  • visiting with all of my wonderful guests
  • opening gifts - everyone wrapped them so beautifully!
  • I could go on forever :)
Now for a few highlights from the day in pictures:

I honestly feel like our baby showers were two of the most beautiful, tasteful, enjoyable showers I have ever attended, and we feel so blessed by everyone who was involved and attended. We are also thankful for those who couldn't attend but have reached out to us since. Camden is a very loved little man!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A mood-boosting take on the "New Year's Resolution"

Last year, Tyler and I decided to make a list of resolutions. Our list consisted of individual goals and aspirations, and then some as a family of two. Some of our goals really have been accomplished; attend church more regularly, save for a baby (glad we did this one with my current state!), etc. Some of our individual goals, maybe not so much. That's kind of disappointing to me, given our Pastor discussed in church this past Sunday the true definition of resolution. When we are resolute about something, it means that we have already made up our minds to follow through 100 percent. This got me thinking: maybe this year it would be more beneficial for me to focus on quality, not quantity. While I do believe it is good to have aspirations, I think focusing on one that encompasses several areas of my life might be more attainable this year.

Listening to the message on Sunday, coupled with a text message received from my mom this week, inspired me to try something new. My mom shared with me that she was reading an article that suggested choosing a "just-for-you" word to set the tone for the new year, and using it to direct your attitude for the year ahead. The idea is to keep it somewhere you will see it often - a mirror, in your car, on your phone, etc. My mom had some fantastic ideas for what her "just-for-you" word might be, so I began to give mine some serious thought.

After a few sleepless (thanks, pregnancy insomnia) nights so far this week, I've had plenty of time to reflect on the most appropriate word for my upcoming year, and the one I want to set the tone for me, my family, and those around me.

The word I've settled on thoughtfully selected; grace. Grace, grace, and more grace. I googled for a better word. I tried for a more insightful sounding synonym. However, since God's grace is what first saved me, I couldn't think of a better word to describe what I was looking for.

Going into my 8th month of pregnancy and knowing I am just a few short months away from becoming, "Mommy", makes me reflect upon how hard I am already being on myself as a mom. From the time I found out I was pregnant until present, I have stressed about how every action I take might effect my son. Those early pregnancy fears have been replaced as of late with anxieties about my ability to balance. Will I be able to adequately balance my relationships with my friends, my family, my patients? Will I be able to be "supermom" to Camden and still have dinner on the table for my husband every night? The answer is a resounding, "probably not". I will probably not be perfect at balancing every aspect of my life. I will probably not be supermom and wife of the year every day of the week. And that's okay.

For so long, I have tried to give 100 percent of myself to every area of my life. One-hundred percent to my family, 100 percent to my friends, 100 percent to my job, and 100 percent to my church attendance and acts of service. Frankly, it's kind of lonely. Giving 100 percent of yourself to everyone else, leaves 0 percent for yourself. This is not me complaining, this is me making a realization that this expectation I have for myself of 100 percent, cannot carry into motherhood. I need to give myself....grace. Grace as I learn how to be a mom, grace as I attempt to settle into a new lifestyle, and grace as I make mistakes along the way.

This year, I also want to strive to have more grace for my husband. It is so easy for us as wives, I think, to get caught up in, "he just doesn't understand" or "he should know by now this is what I do or don't want". Attention women (myself included): men are not mind-readers. As much as I would love to be able to make eye contact with my husband across a crowded room and silently communicate to him my every desire at any given moment, it just doesn't usually work that way. I would like to really focus this year (and every year) on being more patient with my husband, more communicative of what I need from him instead of giving him "the face", and remembering to give him more grace.

Lastly, and maybe most impactful, is my desire to show more grace to strangers. In social work (and in life, really), we are taught that everyone is fighting a battle, and to treat them gently. It's a very noble idea, but when you are running late and the Grandma in front of you seems to have nowhere to go but slow, it's a little harder to live by. I have found my patience waning over the last year, and while I know that some of this is definitely pregnancy related, patience has also never been a spectacular asset of mine. Before allowing anger to brew within me and effect my interactions with others, I want to take a moment to breathe, and to truly remember that everyone has an untold story. Frankly, some people are just annoying and choose to drive that slowly, but I digress. The point is that I don't want my automatic reaction to annoyance to be anger at others. I want to conduct myself more gracefully

I wrote this mostly for myself as a reminder of my chosen word to set the tone for 2015, but I also want to share it with some of my mommy friends because I think they need to hear it, too. Show yourselves some grace. You deserve it!

Happy 2015!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

28-29 weeks & Happy 2015!

How far along? Combined 28 and 29 week updates.

Total weight gain/loss: Let's just say I was slightly over 20 last I was weighed.

Maternity clothes?  Yes! Loving my Jessica Simpson maternity skinny jeans lately, and maternity dresses with scarves.
Stretch marks? Not yet!

Symptoms: Some swelling in my feet this week, horrible pain in the cartilage between the ribs in my back.


Sleep:  I sleep ok. I still fall asleep pretty quickly and have 1 or 2 wake-ups for bathroom trips.

Best moment this week:  Surprising my parents with a 3D/4D ultrasound at A Stork's View and getting to watch him move around and make adorable faces for 30 minutes. Also, reaching the third trimester! Home stretch. It was also really fun working on the nursery with my parents and purchasing the mattress and glider.

Have you told family and friends: Yes.

Miss Anything? Bending over to do the laundry without getting out of breath, laying on my belly, no pelvic bone discomfort.

Movement: Oh, yes. Mr. Camden is an active little guy!

Food cravings/aversions:  I can't think of anything I'm currently craving, but I do need to eat every two hours or so or I get exhausted.

Have you started to show yet:  Yes!

Gender prediction: It's a B-O-Y! Camden James

Belly Button in or out?  My belly button is half popping. I'm curious to see if it's going to go the rest of the way.

Wedding rings on or off? Off.

Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy and excited, though easily annoyed with drivers and crowds.

Looking forward to: Starting to pack the hospital bag(s), our "babymoon" next weekend, maternity pictures in a few weeks, and my Florida baby shower the end of this month!