I am 1 in 8: National Infertility Awareness Week

The last two weeks have been pretty quiet here on the blog because we’ve been stuck in what I’ll not-so-creatively call, “Sick-ville.” For the last 10+ days, our girls have been on a roller coaster of sick including a virus that spiked their temps to 102+, ear infections, lots of crankiness and not so much sleep. Josie had a double ear infection coupled with a virus last week. And this week was Isla’s turn. The same virus and an ear infection so bad mucus was coming out of her eyes.¬†Sometimes parenthood is gross.

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Yet, as I’ve been tending to my sick babies, trying to muster as much patience I can (not always successfully), getting by on less workouts yet plenty of carbs (hello cupcakes, ice cream, way too many handfuls of animal crackers, and a glass of wine here and there too), I keep reminding myself I literally cried and hoped for these challenging days, for years.

Despite the chaos in our home during this National Infertility Awareness Week, I couldn’t let the week end without paying homage to a chapter of life that shaped who I have become, and who my husband and I are as parents. 1 in 8 couples are affected by infertility. I’ll admit, sometimes the memories of our infertility journey feel buried underneath the beauty and fatigue of parenthood, and other times the memories still feel fresh enough to bring back some of the same anxiety and pain. Like when I drive by a local clinic where I had blood drawn to confirm yet another miscarriage. Or when I discover the ovulation test kits I still can’t bear to toss out next to a box of pads in my closet. Or when I see or talk to another woman hurting and yearning for a baby as hard as I always did.

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To read more about our infertility struggles, here are a few posts I shared previously, relating our own story:

But as I am present in this week of awareness, I’ll briefly share a fact I’m connecting most with this year: A baby’s cells stay in a mother’s blood, organs, and even have the ability to manipulate her DNA long after a mother gives birth, and is even changed after a miscarriage.

Despite having “two under two” this year, this fact reminds me it’s okay to feel connected and to sometimes still struggle with to our darkest years of unexplained infertility and multiple losses. Because at least three more little people have changed me forever, even if I never got to meet them. And truthfully, as we consider maybe adding to our family again someday, I know some of the same experiences or others could await us again perhaps in the form of secondary infertility or more losses.

So yes, as my current life is emptying yet another box of tissues wiping tiny noses (I should seriously be buying stock in Kleenex…) and missing a few more hours of sleep to soothe another cry, I’m a mixture of thoughts and emotions, but most of all–I am grateful. If this is my calm after one of the most tumultuous storms I never saw forecasted, I wouldn’t trade these times–gross AND beautiful–for anything.

Wherever you are physically, mentally, or emotionally during this infertility week–may we all feel a little more connected and less alone. And for those weathering your own storm, may this mom’s crazy life be a beacon of hope. Because you never know what (or who) will be at the end of your own rainbow.

If anyone ever has any questions or is seeking support, please always feel able to reach out–either in the comments below or privately.¬†

Motivation Monday

This week’s motivation comes whipping in with a nasty and cold rainstorm. Definitely a day that may go more smoothly with some extra help!

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But, on this Marathon Monday, despite the nasty weather in Boston, lots of people are astounding themselves by one of their greatest accomplishments despite freezing rain, wind, and one of the longest runs of their lives. And that is wildly motivating to me today.

A few years ago I finished my first (and so far, only) marathon. I didn’t run fast, but I crossed the finish line and it helped me feel like I was capable of so much more than I thought just a few hours before when I first toed the start. It helped propel a lot of my accomplishments to come in the following years and often still inspires me to keep pushing myself. It’s amazing what our spirits and bodies are capable of!

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So, whatever weather or mood you’re experiencing today, feel inspired. Start your week working toward accomplishing all the goals you set your heart and mind to. On the days my to-do list seems its longest or hardest, when I get everything done (or at least most things), I feel proud and fulfilled. No marathon for me today, just a HIIT workout and more laundry, but I’ll be trying to make every moment count. Get out there and astound yourself.

Happy Monday!

Motivation Monday

Happy Monday! Every time I utter these two little words together I wonder if it’s a total oxymoron or if I should be laying the sarcasm on extra thick. Happy and Monday? Are Mondays ever really happy? A quick internet search using these two words comes back with some hilarious memes and I’d say the pop culture verdict is Mondays stink.

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For most people Monday signals the start of the work week so it’s not such a happy day. Now that I’m not working a regular “work week,” I guess Mondays aren’t so bad, except dad goes back to work, and mom (me!) is left with the chaos and mess of the weekend, loads of diaper changes, buckets of laundry, etc etc etc. Okay, I guess it can be a lot for everyone who isn’t waking up on vacation.

Getting back into the weekday grind means that oftentimes the LAST thing I want to do is exercise and eat healthy, but I think Mondays are actually one of the most important days to stick to your healthiest habits so I have a few tricks that help keep me on track. Don’t get me wrong–every day, meal, and moment is a spanking new opportunity to do your best to make better choices, but there’s something about a new week–kind of like the new year–that helps me hit that reset button.

Perhaps it especially feels like this because I love to let myself have more treats and variety in my diet and relax my exercise routine on the weekend. And Monday is the time where I have to get back to the business of taking care of myself and committing to my health. Monday is the day I sign back up for a whole 5(ish…Friday is the weekend at 5 pm around here) days of healthy habits.

One of the number one ways I stay motivated is with quotes. I have a couple quotes hung above doors and on the walls in my house to serve as simple reminders of positivity. I have a favorite workout tank top with a quote that makes me feel strong every time I put it on. And I have quotes saved up in my Pinterest account and flagged on my Instagram that I can draw from when I’m having a down or tired moment.

As an old college English major, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I find words to be so powerful. But thinking of the power behind a simple phrase motivated me to help motivate you! Instagram is full of all kinds of catchy hashtags, one of them being #motivationmonday, and this hashtag inspired me to take some of my favorite motivational quotes and brand them for my page. I’m excited to start sharing these momentos, not just on Instagram and Facebook, but here on my blog too!

So, here is one my all time favorite quotes. It’s applicable many Mondays for me, and I think it’s an especially excellent quote for those starting in my fitness workout group today (feel free to sign up and join all week to catch up on the workouts, recipes, and motivation):

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This simple quote is my reminder that I don’t need to do anything extraordinary on a day I might be feeling pretty ordinary or less than all of the super amazing athletes I follow on social media. Instead of comparing myself and quitting, my goal shifts from feeling like I need to keep up with them to just being me. Starting where I am and using the skills I have means I get to be me and do the best I can. I just have to try. And I think that’s a wonderful and simple reminder that most of us can apply to our lives every day.

How do you stay motivated? What are some of your favorite quotes? Share in the comments below. 

Peek-a-Boo Obliques (At 9 Months Pregnant)

Today’s post is about side planks, one of my favorite exercises. I love side planks. My clients generally grumble when I have them do side planks, which I’ve learned can only mean one thing. They’re great for you!

Side planks help me feel super strong. You’re working the arm and shoulder and all of your stomach muscles. And I won’t lie (though maybe I should), from a vanity standpoint, I love that side planks help me keep a visual of my obliques throughout pregnancy. 9 months pregnant, 25 pounds up, and sporting some peek-a-boo abs? Oh yeah! I have worked so hard for that and I think it’s fair to be proud. You definitely can’t see a six pack (I have a short torso and my baby bellies grow!), but a little side ab on mama’s ever-expanding belly? I’ll take it, haha. No, but seriously. It’s nice to just see a bit of my old self in my rapidly transforming body. (Left my belly is relaxed. Right, my belly is flexed. Disclaimer: this is after breakfast, lunch, and a giant snack of way too many maple sweetened peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.)

And doubly seriously: side planks are really an excellent ab exercise. I don’t just have my clients do them to torture them. Like a regular plank, side planks require engagement of all layers of the abdominal muscles: transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and the obliques. These muscles wrap together like a corset. They also work to pull your core in tight (bracing). And they keep your body elevated.

The biggest mistake I’ve encountered with this exercise is clients will shut down their abs and instead use their hips to hold themselves up. Let’s be clear. You should feel this exercise in the bottom side of your stomach–the side closest to the floor. If you are feeling this in your lower hip, make a change. Lift your hip a little higher and squeeze your abs a little harder. If you still feel it in your hip, modify the exercise by dropping down to your bottom knee.

Today I’m showing three different types of side planks. Yes, these are pregnancy approved. But these are for everybody! I promise, this blog isn’t just for the pregnant ladies. Boys–get off your butt and try these. Your belly will thank me!

  1. Side Plank Hip Taps
    1. Start in your side plank. Either legs stacked, or bottom knee supported on the ground.
    2. Lift your body using the underside of your abs (the side closest to the floor).
    3. Place your hand on your top hip (or on the floor as a modification for added assistance).
    4. Drop your bottom hip to tap the floor.
    5. Lift the bottom hip again hip until your body is parallel with the floor. 
    6. Repeat.
    7. Switch sides after 8-15 reps.

  1. Side Plank with Weighted Arm Extension
    1. Start in your side plank. Either legs stacked, or bottom knee supported on the ground.
    2. Hold a dumbbell in your top hand.
    3. Drop dumbbell under lower obliques.
    4. Lift the dumbbell until your top arm is straight.
    5. Repeat.
    6. Switch sides after 8-15 reps.

  1. “Thread the Needle” Side Plank
    1. Start in your side plank. Either legs stacked, or bottom knee supported on the ground.
    2. Lift your hip until your body is parallel to the ground. Place your top hand on your top hip, or on the floor for added support.
    3. Drop your top hand to tap the ground OR literally “thread the needle,” wrapping your arm under your lower obliques. (If you’re pregnant, opt for the tap vs. the wrap. You don’t want to twist your obliques too much while pregnant.)
    4. Raise your top arm to the starting position.
    5. Repeat.
    6. Switch sides after 8-15 reps.

To check out some videos and see these exercises in action, visit my Instagram account.

What’s your favorite ab exercise? Share in the comments below.