Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Your Biggest Support Is......YOU

Read that again.....

Believe in it.  I love this acronym so much and believe in it 100%.  Does it sound selfish?  I'm sure to some people it does and I may have believed it was selfish at one point in my life.  But these words are so true, if you don't love yourself it is impossible to love others, if you don't take care of yourself it is impossible to take care of others.  Fill your cup so full that it overflows with plenty to give.

This journey in life has certainly been testing me in so many ways.  Sometimes it takes someone you love to remind you of who you really are and that you need to find yourself again.

Deep down I have felt angry, not necessarily at myself but at my body.  My emotions have been all over the place and so hard to control.  I know a lot of that has to do with my hormones being completely out of whack.  My energy is low, workouts have been really tough and it just frustrates me because I can't fix it myself.

Realizing how I have been feeling about myself and knowing it affects how I have been with those I love has been hard.  At one point in my life I was doing really well with meditation and even got into tarot reading.  I let myself stop practicing those things without realizing how much of an impact it had on me.

A couple of weeks ago I started implementing daily meditation, even if I can only fit in five minutes a day.  I also began journaling and reconnecting with the Universe in my own way.  The changes I have felt by allowing myself the time needed to do this every day is amazing.  I know I will be a work in progress every day for the rest of my life and I am fine with that.  Giving myself the love to truly reconnect and see who I have come to be at this point in life has been the best thing I could do for myself and my family and all those I love.

There are still rough moments and I know there always will be.  Getting through training sessions recently has been rough.  My body just tires out faster, especially when I try to do heavier lifting days.  The dizzy spells come frequently and we have found that I really need to be careful with up and down movement right now.

March 9th cannot get here soon enough.  I am more than ready to get surgery scheduled and say "bye-bye" to my damn uterus!  It gave me the most precious gift in the world, our sweet Bella, but man has it turned on me.

If you find yourself struggling with self care, start off slow with even just 2-5 minutes a day.  Do whatever works for YOU.  There is no right or wrong way to take care of yourself.  

I used to think I had to meditate a certain way but learned that meditation is a very personal experience and there is no "wrong" way to do it.  You do YOU.  Start off with guided meditations like this one:

There are also a couple of podcasts that I listen to and they have really resonated with me in so many ways.

Bruce Van Horn is brilliant and I love the sound of his voice.  I am to really be at ease when I listen to any of his podcasts.  He has great advice for all areas of life and I highly recommend giving him a listen.

Trish Blackwell is the bomb!  I love her authentic enthusiasm and her direct approach.  Some of her podcasts are faith based and if that's not your thing give the other episodes a listen. She gives awesome advice and has so many great tips for all areas of life, she will help you to believe in yourself and forget the loud outside noise.

I believe I was meant to find myself in this place before my surgery.  Before a big part of me is removed and my hormones get a bit more wacky I will have better tools to help me get through it.  I am thankful for all of the support around me but also I am grateful that I am able to truly believe in and support myself.

Now go be the best YOU that you can be!

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Mental Game

The mental game can be incredibly tough, having an outlet is so important.  You need people in your tribe who you can fully trust and that you are completely comfortable sharing with.  We are all our own worst critics, especially when we are faced with unexpected challenges.  It takes time to train your mind to be positive, to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  I will forever be a work in progress and definitely stumble at times.  I am so grateful for those in my tribe who listen without judgement and offer simple love and support.

It was one week ago when I made the decision to postpone competing.  The first couple of days it really didn't seem real.  But then I had one day where everything just kind of slammed into me and I wasn't prepared.  It was a tough day due to a combination of things and I just needed to let out my frustration.

Currently I am reversing back up in my calories with the guidance of Chris with GPS Coaching.  Our goal is to have me back up to my caloric intake I was at before I started the cut, which is 2800 calories.

My caloric intake was 1859 on low days and 1998 on high days.  Because I had such a big cut to my maintenance calories Chris had me make a good jump in calories.  I am now at 2405 on low days and 2590 on high days.  I am one that can always eat more food thankfully because it really put me back up there in calories!

This is definitely something that mentally could mess with someone.  I spent 14 weeks cutting and focusing on seeing the scale go down.  This is just part of the sport of bodybuilding and if it something you choose to do you must mentally prepare yourself for this process.  I saw continual progress so to stop that and go the reverse direction was momentarily tough for me.  Of course I completely understand the need to reverse my calories back up and I plan to maintain where I currently am on the scale.  I gained not a even a full pound back after the increase in my calories over a week and a half.  I was very happy with that and plan to keep cardio in my plan while eating more food.  My calories definitely need to be where they were before so that when I do compete again the cutting process will be that much better.

My body continues to remind me that I have made the right choice for myself.  Saturday night Kyle and I went to workout and I did deadlifts and squats.  I pulled 275# easily but still couldn't get 300# dang it!!!!  I did go all out to see what I can back squat and was able to do 170# for three reps pretty easily.  After that I was DONE.  Cramps were kicking in big time and my uterus was SWOLLEN.  When I started the workout I did not have a protruding stomach, afterwards this is what my tummy looked like....

These photos don't do it justice, I was so swollen and it was rock hard to the touch.  This happens a few times a month with heavier leg days when I am really engaging my core.  I always engage my core while exercising but those heavier leg days cause me to focus on that even more.  It takes a few days for the swelling to go down and it SUCKS.  My jeans I always wear won't button and I just feel miserable.

This seems to happen when my cycle is at the beginning.  My cycle would usually start around the 26th-28th of each month and my worst days are those first 10.  Now I haven't had a break in my cycle for the last 49 days but this is around when it would normally be the worst for me.

I know I will get better, I know things will improve I am just ready for that to happen NOW.  Mentally I kind of go to a mean place with myself and I have to be honest about that.  Right now I feel like this body isn't even mine and it is so incredibly frustrating.  Honestly, I wonder what it is going to feel like when I no longer have my uterus and therefore NO PERIOD!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Change In My Journey

This quote is one I have always loved although I have to admit that when it happens to affect me so greatly it is slightly irritating.

I am 14 weeks into my cut and have decided to stop the cut and not compete in May so that I can have a hysterectomy.

This decision was incredibly difficult for me but I know it is the right choice for MY health.  This cut has been extra challenging with major issues I am having with my menstrual cycle.  If talking about women's menstrual cycles isn't for you then you may want to stop reading now.

Three years ago my period changed it became very heavy, longer and I had a lot of clots.  I went to my doctor and we discovered that I had fibroids in my uterus, one fairly large.  I got in with an OBGYN who happened to be the doctor who delivered Bella.  I was a couple months out from my competition and we decided an endometrial ablation would be my best option.  It would be limited down time and would hopefully help, if not my last option would be a hysterectomy.  My ovaries would also be removed putting me into menopause.  

Why do the ovaries need to be removed?  I am high risk for ovarian cancer and removing them is my best option.  In July 2007 my little sister Missy found out that she had breast cancer.  It was a complete shock to all of us, she was only 23 years old.  It was so scary and we have a large, close knit family so many of us went to her appointments with her.  The doctors were shocked, she was just too young to have breast cancer.  She is one of many women in my family who have survived breast cancer including my mom, my maternal grandma, many aunts and cousins.  Missy tested negative for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes but that doesn't mean myself or my sisters don't have it.  My family history is what causes me to be high risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

After the ablation it seemed like for a short while my menstrual symptoms eased up slightly.  I went on to compete and it was my best competition yet.  

My goal then became focused on growing my physique and go after my pro card in Figure.  I took a year to build and increased my caloric intake to the highest it had ever been.  My maintenance calories were 2,700!  I was so excited to see the growth I had achieved as I began my cut back in November.

I did have an appointment with my doctor before I began the cut to have my blood checked.  I found out that I was severely anemic, which explained my complete exhaustion in the gym after a simple set of warm ups.  Deep down I knew something was wrong with me, but I had associated all of the symptoms with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) which I was diagnosed with just last year.  It took me 19 years to get properly diagnosed with POTS and it was a relief but anytime I felt "off" I just excused it with that.

My doctor advised me to take an iron supplement and then we would recheck my blood in a month.  She reminded me that the next step to relief would be a hysterectomy.  It was 100% my choice to move forward with the cut.  My energy came back after taking the supplements and my iron levels vastly improved.

The problem was that my period was getting worse.  I had hoped that maybe it would improve as I went through my cut, man was I wrong.  My period would last at first about 18 days, then 23, then 26 and now I am currently on day 38.  It doesn't lighten up, the cramping is so intense I had to be prescribed medication to help me get through it and would typically not be able to go to work the first 3 days when it started again.  Thankfully I work for a truly incredible employer who is nothing but supportive and allowed for that type of rest, my incredible co-worker is an angel putting up with those crappy days I have.

One of that hardest things has been knowing how much it was hurting those closest to me who knew what I was dealing with and have had to watch me on my worst days.  Kyle is the most incredible husband and he knew as each week passed that the cut was getting harder for me.  Yet he never once told me he wanted me to change my plans, he supported me.  Bella started making comments to me that a period shouldn't last so long and we talked so she knew there was a cause for why they were so bad.  My mom and dad (I told you we are an extremely close family) support me always and they just want me to be healthy again.

In my head I continued to tell myself that I could push through.  I was halfway through my cut and seeing progress.  Even if a lot of days I was bloated I could see the progress in other areas and I was thrilled with the growth I had achieved.  But still I had moments questioning if I was making the right choice but I am STUBBORN.

This past week I experienced the worst amount of bleeding and largest clots yet.  A clot larger than my hand caused me to feel very faint after I passed it and it terrified me.  I broke down because I knew what I had to do.  Kyle didn't want me to make a rash decision which honestly kind of surprised me.  But I know he 100% understands how stubborn I am and how hard it was to admit that I truly was not ok and would not be able to continue with the cut.  My nutrition coach Chris gave me a great piece of advice, health before hobby.  She is so supportive of my decision and is going to guide me through a reverse to get my calories back up, just because she is amazing, kind and so giving.

This picture is one I stitched together last week.  The photo on the left is 16 weeks out from my 2018 competition and the photo on the right is from last week, 16 weeks out from the competition in May.

I was thrilled to see such growth and change.  Ironic I cut down just enough to really start seeing what was built after a year of consistent higher calories and lifting heavy shit!

With this speed bump in my journey I just want to share my experience throughout the crazy changes that are to come.  Speed bumps are bound to hit you at some point in your journey and you have to find a way to navigate over them and adjust your plan.  This is something I share with our members often and know that I need to take my own advice.

Although I wasn't anticipating this right now I do know that afterwards I am going to feel so much better.  I will be able to train without constant cramps and my body won't be losing a crazy amount of blood and my crazy purchases of tampons and pads will stop.  I look forward to feeling GOOD to feel more like ME again.  Although the menopause adventure might be interesting I would much rather deal with that!

My consultation with my OBGYN isn't until March 9th but I plan to get on her list in case she has any cancellations.  There is only one doctor that I want to do this and I will wait for her.  I will continue training as I have been up until surgery and we will see how everything goes.  I will compete again but only my body will let me know when the time is right.

For now be ready to read about lifting heavy things, nutrition changes for me and all about hysterectomies and menopause!