Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's That Bittersweet Time Of Year

In what seems like a lifetime ago, I was married to someone else. He is a good man, but there are sometimes people in your life who bring out the worst in you--we were that person for each other. After about nine months of marriage, we separated (my fault, I'll admit to it. I couldn't let go of the past) and were apart for a few months. After I realized that the past should stay there and a couple of families were almost ruined, my ex-husband and I got back together. I knew that I hadn't done everything I could to save us (like I said, my fault) and we got back together to try and not be another statistic. After just a few weeks of being together again, I got pregnant (whoops!). We were both still unhappy in the marriage although we wouldn't admit it to anyone, including each other. Selfishly, I saw that baby as someone who would always love me even if my husband didn't. That's a horrific thought pattern, but that thinking pulled me out of depression and saved my life. 

I had a pretty rocky pregnancy from the start with horrible morning sickness that left me sitting in front of a high-powered fan praying "Please Jesus, don't let me throw up!" I don't throw up. I hadn't thrown up since I was younger and the prospect every morning was terrifying. I had terrible cramping where it hurt so bad I had to fold in half until the pain subsided. When I googled symptoms, it said cramping was normal so I just thought it was normal. At 8 weeks my then-husband and I went into the doctor where she gave us all of these books and talked about what to expect. She had some time before the next appointment so she went ahead and did an ultrasound. From the moment she had it up on the screen, I knew something was wrong. She stopped chatting and smiling like she had been minutes before. I could feel my heart leap into my throat as I fought back tears. I had a blighted ovum which means I had a sac that was growing, but the baby had stopped developing. Usually the sac is crumpled looking or misshapened and mine was perfect. The doctor thought that maybe we were off on our weeks so she scheduled me for another ultrasound the following week and I had to go in for blood tests every three days to check my HcG levels. My levels were rising normally and the sac still looked normal at my next ultrasound so the doctor was hopeful that we were still off in weeks although I think we all knew that couldn't be true. My then-husband quit going to my appointments after that. The process still continued with weekly ultrasounds and blood tests every three days. The last appointment she started discussing D&C's and other medications that would help the miscarriage process along. I couldn't bear to do any of that in case were all wrong so I waited. The pregnancy symptoms grew worse with heartburn and fatigue. I don't know if there is a worse feeling than your body telling you you're pregnant in every way and your head and heart knowing better. I started miscarrying just after 12 weeks. I was at the movie theater watching G.I. Joe. It's funny how I can remember those details. The miscarriage itself brought on other problems. I had lost too much blood and was so weak that my then-husband had to carry me around. It was a weekend so I felt guilty calling my doctor. The next week when I was still in severe pain that should already have gone away, my doctor yelled at me for not going to the ER and said I had been lucky. The nurse that scheduled that appointment told me on the phone that what I was describing people had died from. That baby was due on March 1st, 2010. 

Obviously my first marriage didn't survive and I knew I had done everything I could to try and save it, but sometimes we make mistakes and we really just shouldn't have gotten married in the first place. I grew up in a super religious extended family and divorce is a big no-no and I'm not condoning divorce, but sometimes you have to realize that life is too short to be that unhappy. You may be wondering why I am sharing this. The truth is, I'm not really sure. I'm not looking for sympathy. In fact, your sympathies will only make me uncomfortable. Maybe if I share this next story about that baby I lost, you'll understand why I want to keep that memory alive...

The night before Brian, my now-husband, proposed, I had a dream. And I'm warning you now, this dream is WEIRD. I was sitting on a hill in the grass on a sunny day and I was crying. I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up to see a little girl about 5 or 6 standing there. She was dressed in a white dress with sleeves and the hem went to her feet--very old time-ish. She said, "Don't cry for me Mama. Jesus is taking care of me." This girl had my ex-husband's beautiful Italian coloring and black curly hair that fell to her waist. She had my green eyes and she was beautiful. When I looked at her, all I could think was "Ella" which was the girl name we had picked out for that baby. Weird, right?! The next day while Brian and I were skiing, I was completely in a funk. I was cranky towards him and couldn't get that dream out of my head. Brian was concerned and kept asking what was wrong but I just told him that I had bad dreams that didn't allow me to sleep well. We went to the top of the mountain for the last run before the mountain closed and he proposed. Poor guy! I had been rotten to him all day and that was the day he was proposing. Haha! No wonder he kept asking me if I was okay. He wanted to make sure he wasn't the reason I was upset. I never told anyone the details of that dream until I read a book called "Heaven is For Real" about a boy who almost died when he was four and said he went to Heaven briefly and he met his sister that his mom had miscarried before he was born and what she said to him about Jesus taking care of her was almost the exact same thing that Ella had said to me in my dream. Super eerie! That's when I started to tell a couple of people about that dream. You can believe me or not or just think it's coincidence but I really believe that dream was given to me for comfort. 

Now you're probably wondering why in the world I'm sharing this in a health and fitness blog. Well, I run from things. Literally. I accept that. When I'm having a hard time, I run. I get a sense of clarity about life. There is healing in a pair of running shoes. I ran a lot towards the end of my first marriage and after that miscarriage. Running was therapy for me then. Now I actually enjoy running although I do have the occasional bouts of being down that can be helped with a run. I don't only run when I'm sad or unhappy, but I always run when I am.

Obviously all of this comes to mind this time of year because it's almost March 1st. I'm sure I'll have a bag (or two) of Peanut Butter M&Ms since that seems to be my drug of choice. I don't know where my life would be had that baby survived. Would I still be married to my ex? My life now is perfect. My husband is amazing and we have the most amazing little girl. Ironically, we are having her 2nd birthday party with Brian's family on March 1st in Seattle. It's funny how things turn out.

My take away after this loooong post if you're even still reading is this: no matter how sad or bad your life is, things always have a way of working themselves out if you allow them to.

Protein Oatmeal Raisin "Cookies"

I was in the mood to experiment a little last night with a breakfast cookie recipe involving oatmeal, raisins, and bananas.

I don't know if I can really call this a recipe because the measurements will vary based on the size if your hand. So here goes:

2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 scoop of French vanilla protein powder
Approx. 1 cup of oats (you can feel this out for your desired consistency)
2 handfuls of raisins
1 handful of flax seeds
1 handful of chia seeds
1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Mash bananas in medium bowl.
2. Add protein powder and stir well.
3. Add oatmeal and stir.
4. Add the raisins, chia seeds, and flax seeds and stir together.
5. Add cinnamon to taste
6. Put on cookie sheet by spoonfuls (mine made 11 cookies)
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the edges start turning brown. 
8. Let cool and enjoy! 

I store these in the fridge but you could make bigger batches and freeze them as well. They may be a little sticky when you take them out of the fridge or freezer.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Magic and Empowering Women

I admit, I used to be one of those gym junkies who was always on a treadmill, rower, or spin bike or in the weight room with my head phones on and a Post-It Note on my forehead that read:  "PISS OFF! Talk to me or disturb my workout and you will see 50 Shades of Bitch come out!"  Obviously, that last part is not true, but I wore that look.  I didn't want to be bothered, especially by muscled guys who thought I needed a spot on the bench press. Their lurking was always insulting and I definitely showed them with my glare after I had no problem with whatever weight I was benching.  Yeah, I was THAT person.  Then something happened...

There was a girl that started working out at the Y the same time I did and she was a badass.  She had these beautiful muscles and moved through the gym with such ease and this may sound weird, but I desperately wanted to talk to her.  I wanted to find out why she lifted so much and if she was training for anything and just to tell her that I envied her arms, her thighs, her butt.  I realized that these were some of the things that people would stop me to ask and I always found so annoying.  Hmm, reality check.  I stopped wearing headphones and would start smiling at people more.  I started noticing the personal trainers. I was in the middle of getting certified to become a personal trainer and I wanted to see how they interacted with people.  I was absolutely appalled that they never said "hi" to any other gym members, they never returned my smiles, and a lot of times they would train their clients next to each other so they could have social hour with their co-workers.  I vowed to not be that way. I dreamed of smiling and saying "hi" to everyone and in between sessions, learn some of the regulars' names when I became a personal trainer.  Well, this never happened because we moved and I joined CrossFit.  Ahh, CrossFit.

The first few times I went, I was hooked.  Not because of the amazing workouts, although that is always there, but because of the relationships.  Our coach for On Ramp was fun and my husband and I were allowed to just be ourselves and joke around.  It was socially a good time. I've been going to The Pack CrossFit now for 7 months (wow, that went fast!) and I'm noticing something. Women talk about each other.  I always hated that gossipy thing that girls did growing up and tended to hang out with the guys and as I got older, became more of a loner because I wasn't like that.  I hate the "Did you see what she was wearing?" or "Oh my gosh, did you see her haircut/how much weight she's gained/*fill in any snarky comment here*?" I felt that way at the gym I used to workout out. When I got weird looks from other women I wondered if my shorts were too short or tight or if my shirt was too tight and I had a bulgy stomach after a food binge. Is that not the most annoying thing?!  Now I know I shouldn't care what other people think and I preach that philosophy whenever possible, but the truth is I'm human.  My fatal flaw may just be that I'm self conscious.  Maybe I was teased and bullied too much as a kid (middle school was particularly bad) and that has had a lasting impression on me.  Who knows!  But I digress...women, in general, tend to talk about other women.  However, there is a magic that happens at The Pack (and I really hope at other CrossFit boxes around the world).  I now hear and say things like "Did you see her abs when her shirt came up while doing handstand push ups?! They are amazing!" "Were you there the day she got her first muscle up? Man, she fought so hard for it!" "She has the cutest Lululemon pants that make her ass look ah-mazing!"  Do you see how that is magical?  In a world full of criticism that has made me shy away from social situations, here are these amazing women EMPOWERING each other.  It's not about your size or your looks.  It is about how far you have come and the things you do well.  That is incredible!  THAT is addictive.  For the first time, I have no problem going up to people at the box I don't know and saying "hi" or cheering for them in a WOD.  I have no problem telling someone that they are so strong or that their muscles are things to be envied.  Everyone is so accepting of your strengths and your flaws.  I'm fully aware that I'm terrible at Olympic lifts right now, but I'm also aware that I'm pretty awesome at handstand walks, running, and box jumps.  It's not about age because I can name a few women at our box that are older than me that can beat me in a WOD 9 times out of 10.  I always hear about how people who don't CrossFit get annoyed by those that do because they talk about it all the time or are always posting pictures.  It's because they haven't had a taste of the magic. When you are around the most encouraging, fun people you have ever met that become like your family and love you where you're at, how can you not talk about it?  Magic...