"Bounce Back"? Bounce Forward.

This whole journey of becoming a mom has revealed (on top of everything else) my personal anxieties around my body. I thought I was too grounded to be someone that jumped the gun postpartum and started working out too hard too soon. Well, turns out, I’m not that grounded at all.

Since the beginning of my pregnancy people have been saying to me “you’re so fit, you’re totally going to bounce right back”. It felt good to have the confidence of the people! I felt mostly confident myself, but I did also have some concerns. The reality is that sometimes the “bounce back” is not a reality for everyone in the way that they hope for even if they are fit and healthy going into their pregnancy. I had major postpartum body goals thanks to some of my amazing mama/trainer friends and of course the countless celebrity bounce back paparazzi beach photos (let’s not pretend we aren’t influenced by those). I thought these “goals” were perfectly normal until now.

I dropped about 15 pounds and went from looking 9 months pregnant to about 51/2 months pregnant pretty quickly in the first few weeks after delivery. But then that was it, the last 5 months aka 20 pounds have yet to say goodbye. So first of all, let’s note that this is normal. Everyone’s body is different, everyone’s recovery is different. Also, everyone’s expectations are different and sometimes they are harmful instead of helpful. For a while I was being “patient” and letting myself heal and focusing on the important things like nourishing baby Z and recovering. I mean let’s be honest, it really hadn’t been that long after all, being patient shouldn’t be that hard, right?!  At 4 weeks post delivery, all of my so called patience evaporated and I had a full flung anxiety attack.

Before I started doing burpees every minute on the minute from breakfast till dinner, I reached out to some of my friends for advice. Luckily I have some brilliant-mama-fit friends who talked me off the ledge and told me to take hard chill on trying to speed up the process. Every single one of them waited the at least the full recommended 6 weeks if not longer before getting back into real workouts. I mean think about it, intuitively we know it would be crazy to start working out intensely after a major surgery or injury without fully recovering first. Completely crazy. With everything we go through from pregnancy to delivery, why would pregnancy be any different.

It was a revealing moment for me, because underneath it all, I was questioning whether I would be able to love my body at every stage of healing and beyond. What if my body didn’t “bounce back” like I expected, also like everyone else expected? What if there were no more 6-pack nike shoots in my future? Then what? Was I going to spend the rest of my life avoiding mirrors and withholding love and acceptance from myself?

The best advice I got from two of my friends when I was panicking, was to take this time to reconnect to my body. Both of them recommended breathe work, walks with my new little one and of course kegels. I was extremely grateful they shared their wisdom. Allowing myself the space to actually feel and respond to my body has been an bonus I didn’t expect. I’ve added the breathe work into my day whenever I remember (walking down the street, grocery shopping, drinking tea). Sometimes I wonder if I’ve ever truly been connected to my core at all before this!

Having a baby is an incredible gift. It is undeniable. I spend every day in awe holding this little being. I find it interesting observing all the emotions I have around this amazing change. I feel lucky and overwhelmed with gratitude and I also feel resistance to change in some areas of my life all at the same time. The truth is having a baby means your body has changed. Like the rest of your life, it won’t be the same. You have brought life into this world, how could anything stay the same after that and why would we want it to. So instead of trying to bounce back, it’s time to move forward. And I don’t mean we should accept a less than badass version of ourselves, I just mean shouldn’t the way we treat ourselves, heal ourselves, train ourselves level up like everything else? That takes honesty and patience and diligence.

I’m at week 9, which is really barely any time at all when you think about the lifetime we spend in these bodies of ours. I’m still the same distance from my original fighting weight and shape. But my mindset and my values are shaping up. No, I have not yet resolved my issues around my own body love and self image, but I have committed to nurturing myself and to the process of becoming. I offer this post because so many of us struggle with these issues at different point in our lives. Please know you have an friend wherever you are in your journey. I will be writing about my journey along the way, so please reach out, tune in … let’s journey together.

 

 

 

A Precious Gold Nugget

My precious little nugget was born one month and three day ago. It has been the most incredible whirlwind and I don't know where to start telling the story ...

I spent my entire pregnancy trying to prepare for motherhood. Trying to prepare for that moment that happened on this fated day in March, when she finally came into this world and took in her first dramatic breathe. It was nine months of journaling, questioning, meditating, crying, praying, laughing, reading, listening, singing, dreaming, wondering, connecting, all of this was an effort to prepare myself for the gravity of being responsible for another human life. 

Even though I as struggling with nausea throughout my pregnancy, I tried to stay as active as I could. I would take classes several times a week at my partners gym. The balanced approach of focusing on strength, stability and some flexibility was perfect. He gave me modifications through each trimester which helped me feel empowered to change things up when they didn't feel great. On the hardest days I would do mini spin sessions or go for walks.  

The mental battles were even harder than the physical ones for me. In my third trimester I went to see a psychiatrist, in a sense to ask her if my overwhelming emotions were harming my unborn child. The conclusion of course was that my mood swings and stress levels were normal considering the circumstances (both the pregnancy and the many big life changes I was adjusting to all at once). I was "coping well" she said at the end of our session. Whether my emotional state was normal during my pregnancy is a question I will probably continue to revisit for years to come. I certainly hope not. I suppose one thing I discovered from that visit is that it is not uncommon for women to have low lows and major mood swings during their pregnancy. The deeper realization for me was that I didn't want to live a life just coping. 

Fast forward to now and I have the most beautiful, sweet, magical, fussy baby on the planet. The one thing that I have felt from the very beginning of my pregnancy was the intensity of my state of mind being essential to another humans ability to adjust and thrive in this world. This is a responsibility that is far deeper than eating the right things, avoiding the wrong things, doing the right workouts, buying the right diapers, researching the best hypo allergenic detergent and cleaners, reading all the right blogs and the latest baby research. It's the work, the gritty internal work, that must be done continuously with diligence in order to grow, to thrive and live a fully. 

A couple days after her birth, the euphoria started to wear off, my hormones started crashing and my anxiety started coming back. What if she's unsettled because I'm unsettled? What if I didn't do enough during my pregnancy to give her a calm, well adjusted start to life on this earth? What if despite my efforts I'm not capable of settling the deep seated (perhaps generational and/or genetically programed) anxiety. These are the moments when you start forgiving your own parents for the ways you think they failed you in life, because suddenly you realize that they, like you, are simply human. 

So here we are, one month and three days into motherhood. Baby Z has spent 31 days on this confusing planet of ours. What I know for sure is that there is no beginning or end to the love that I feel for her. It is a feeling that is impossible to explain and the reason that no matter what there is a drive to move forward, to do better and to be bette

When the Struggle is Real

There have been a lot of changes happening in my life over the past 6 months. I got married, got pregnant, became a stepmom, moved to a new country and essentially gave up my career in New York all in one month. So, you can imagine it has been a whirlwind.

The physical and emotional highs and lows that have come with this journey have been tougher than I imagined. For one, I have had morning sickness (which is actually a 24/7 affliction) from the beginning and it is showing no signs of stopping. Then you add in the fatigue and all sorts of physical changes and ailments (I won’t disturb you with) on top of that, working out has been one of the last things that I want to do most days.

All these major changes have triggered emotional and mental battles on top of the physical ones. There are many days where I feel super low and isolated. Sometimes I feel heavy from my mind to the tips of my toes. These are the days where the smallest things, like going for a walk, feels like a major accomplishment.

Being in the fitness industry sometimes I feel disconnected from my peers, who according to social media always jump out of bed psyched for the day and their next workout. I have not felt like that in months. I often wonder when I will feel like that again. But what I am learning from this moment is how important it is to reconnect with your true motivators and how important it is to have support.

I am super lucky because my partner is completely into health and fitness. He has helped me through the passed few months in ways he doesn’t even know, by encouraging me to stay active and eat healthy, but also not judging me on the days when my workouts are literally only 15 minutes spinning on the bike then 45 minutes of child pose (to quell the nausea). Find a friend or a partner who will support you by both their example and their words.

At the end of the day, regardless of our support systems, it’s up to us to make decisions that will support our own health and wellness. On the hard days, you have to know why you are getting out of bed and putting on your gyms shoes otherwise you won’t do it. As a fitness model in New York, there have been many years where my driving force was aesthetic goals. Right now, I want to have a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby and I want to boost my mood and energy levels. These things get me moving over bikini body inspiration hands down these days, because they are connected to my values and deeper goals of who I want to be today and tomorrow.

Whether you are having a tough pregnancy, a tough year or just a rough week, and taking care of your health feels like a true struggle, know you are not alone. Think about the role fitness can play in your life now and in creating the life you want. What are your deeper goals that you can go to when the going gets tough. Write them down, post them on your mirror, tell your room mate, partner, best friend, accountability partner and keep striving to live a healthier life.

 

 

 

The Start of Something New

For at least a year I have been thinking a lot about what is missing in the fitness community. I don’t have a definitive answer to that still. But what I do come back to over and over is the question of what is health? What does true, vibrant health look like on a day to day basis?

The World Health Organization’s definition is as follows:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

This definition resonates with me deeply. It is something I want to explore personally as well as a trinity I want to tease out with my clients, friends, family and anyone who is ready to start having a broader conversation about how to approach a holistic health in their lives.

Thus, I’m starting this blog at a time where this balance has become particularly important and particularly challenging for me personally. When I look around me and I see what is happening in the world - intimately and in the world at large, I know I am not the only one struggling with this quest.

I hope that ongoing dialogue, epiphanies, solutions, community will come out of opening up a space for exploring topics around physical, mental and social well-being. The name Chisel Club was born out of this idea that we get to “chisel” our own lives; not just our physical presence but our mental and emotional well being as well. In order to do that we need tools, we need support, sometimes we need a blueprint for inspiration. I hope you will join me in this conversation, sharing your own insights, inspiration,  questions and challenges along the way.