Typically my goals for the New Year always revolve around work. Not that I won’t be setting work goals, but my personal goals are closest to my heart right now and where I want to intentionally put my focus.
Cody and I had many things to be grateful for in 2015 but I would be lying if I said it was our best year. We worked through many different situations that most people our age don’t have to encounter, nor would we want them to. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details too much for the sake of our privacy, but I will share some things that are pertinent to the backstory behind my 2016 goal setting.
I don’t want this blog post to overshadow all of the blessings in our life because we are truly grateful for all of the gifts we have been given–too many to even count. I also don’t want the overall tone to feel negative or for anyone to feel pity on our behalf. Right now, this is just a ‘season’ of life we are going through. We both see the rainbow through the rain and know that just like any season (at least in Indiana), it too shall pass.
Just a bit of a fair warning: The following blog post contains lady part information so if that is not really your thing feel free to click the X and wait for next week’s post.
It is overwhelming to find the perfect place to start. There are so many details to the story that I could write book, but I will try to stick to the major points.
Three years ago, I stopped taking birth control (I was on it for approximately 10 years prior to that) and I never regained my period. At first, I wasn’t overly concerned as it can take up to six months for your cycle to regulate. As time went on, I started to understand that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal. No periods, no ovulation, and no chance of conceiving. I worked my way through the typical order of doctors you would see: primary care, OB, and fertility. I tried chiropractic care and acupuncture, which I believe in. I have had multiple rounds of lab work done, different types of fertility testing done, and have been poked and prodded in places where the sun don’t shine. Through all of the hoopla no one has ever been able to give me a concrete diagnosis. I am counting my blessings on this being a good thing, as I don’t want something to be ‘wrong’, but on the other hand, a concrete diagnosis would be nice because then I could take the proper steps to correct it.
When we first met with our fertility doctor, he looked at our chart and with assurance, he said, “You won’t have a problem getting pregnant.” Cody and I both walked away from our appointment with a piece of hope. Our doctor delivered; he was able to get us pregnant but what he didn’t prepare us for was the miscarriage that soon followed. It happens to 1 in 3 women, and we were told that just because I had one it wouldn’t prevent me from having a healthy pregnancy in the future. You can imagine our disappointment when it happened to us a second time within the same year.
Ever since we started the ‘fertility journey’ I have had an internal battle going on. I fully believe in the body’s ability to heal itself naturally, yet instead of seeking this route, I chose to inject myself with the hormones necessary to produce follicle stimulation and ovulation. Never mind the underlying issue at hand, that my body isn’t working as it should. The only way I can make sense of my actions is that the ‘want’ of having a family is stronger than the desire to let my body heal naturally. I have spent a lot the past three years being fearful that I won’t be able to have children and fear encourages you to make choices that you might not otherwise make.
I don’t know what the future will hold with fertility treatments. I have learned not to make any promises one way or another but what I have begun to do is seek alternate, more natural options in an effort to let my body heal and regain it’s normal function while Cody and I take time away from treatment. I have done a lot of research on my own as to why women experience amenorrhea (no periods) or anovulation (no ovulation). There are various reasons but I have been able to rule out many of them based on previous testing and lack of symptoms. After ruling out many, the plausible reasons left on the checklist are mental stress, low body weight or low BMI, excessive exercise, a history of disordered eating, and thyroid issues.
This is the part of the story where I feel stuck, almost unable to articulate every emotion I feel. Some of the things above are partly subjective based on who you ask. What is interesting though, is most of them are lifestyle-based, which gives me hope that I will be able to make progress and regain normal cycles. I have always known these things can affect fertility but I chose to disregard them and not put myself into that category. The honest truth is that I feel the healthiest I have ever felt–physically and mentally. I will go into that more below, but I don’t think it’s fair that I should have to change some of the things that make me feel good.
How do you actually gage stress? I don’t necessarily feel ‘stressed’ but I think when you live in stress for so long you become immune to it. I have always been a self-inflicting stress type of person. I go gang-busters with work, am constantly thinking about the ‘next’ project, thing, or event, and am historically a ‘worrier’. I think these traits are good and bad–they are what makes me a self-motivated person, but on the other hand, they can create stress. I also don’t want to discount the stress that our situation has brought–even though we don’t put all of our focus on it, we have deeply experienced every emotion through our journey, especially over the past year.
I have a normal BMI and am at a healthy weight for my height. Even though my BMI is normal at 20.5, it is a bit lower than what is recommended for peak fertility. I have read that a BMI of 22 or 23 is optimal for conceiving, so there could be a change made there. Each body is so different–I preach this day in and day out to my clients. Some women with a much lower BMI are still able to get pregnant while others with a much higher BMI don’t. I think BMI is a piece of the puzzle and each woman has to find their own ‘sweet spot’.
I wouldn’t classify myself as an ‘excessive exerciser’ but again, how is this actually gaged? Many moons ago, I was an ‘excessive exerciser’, logging high mileage runs, working out every single day, getting up before 5 am to get to the gym even when I was exhausted, basing my self-worth on how long I worked out each day, etc. Now, I work out 4-5 times a week, take it easy when I feel the need, and even skip (gasp!) on days that I feel tired. Even though I have a positive relationship with exercise, I wouldn’t classify my workouts as ‘easy’. I suppose there could be a change made here. Sense my hesitancy?
In my early to mid-20’s, I suffered from disordered eating. That is another story in an of itself, but that was so long ago I rarely even think about it, nor do I want to. Of course, the things we go through in life always prepare us for the next step and I do know my prior experience with disordered eating is part of what fueled me to become a Wellness Coach in the first place, which I am grateful for. From the deepest place in my heart, I want all women (people, for that matter) to have a healthy relationship with food. I can’t help but wonder if this chapter of my life is partly to blame for my fertility problems. We can’t go back in time so I will never know, but instead of looking back, and I choose to focus my energy on moving forward.
I do have hypothyroidism but that is something I have known about and have been managing for the past 5 or 6 years, working to keep myself in the optimal range for pregnancy.
Over time, I have learned that everyone has an opinion or theory on what my infertility could stem from but there has never been anyone who could pinpoint it with exact certainty.
I have spent most of the past three years looking outward for help. This year, instead of looking outward for help, I am choosing to look inward and really take a hard look at if I am doing everything in my power to regain my cycles and fertility. Today, if I am being 100% honest with myself, I would say the answer is probably not. So, my 2016 goals are set to help me achieve what could possibly be the greatest thing Cody and I will ever do. At least when it is all said and done, one way or another, I can walk away knowing I did everything I could do.
I think it is important to say that ultimately I know we are not in control. There is a power greater than us and I believe God is working in our life. What feels ‘messy’ right now will one day bear a miracle. I know it will. I believe the day we receive our miracle everything will come together and make sense. It truly excites me to think of this day as I know it will be one of the best days of our lives.
Ok, that was a really long backstory to get to my goals! Without further adieu:
Gain 5 lbs. I know, this is so backwards to what most people are trying to do. I will be honest, I don’t want to gain weight. Like I mentioned above, I feel good and healthy, and am at a normal BMI. My clothes are comfortable, I don’t dwell on my weight, and rarely weigh myself. Being that I am a Wellness Coach, I worry that people may judge me if I become a little softer around the middle. I know I shouldn’t worry about that and all of my clients would be proud of me for making positive change in my life, but it’s the truth, and I don’t want to lie about it. A 5 lb. weight gain would put me into the range of an optimal BMI for fertility. On the bright side, this could be a good excuse to buy new jeans. 🙂
Add more fat to my diet. I eat a balanced diet and never eliminate macronutrients–I am not down with that. I don’t subscribe to a specific protocol, I just go with what feels good for my body that day. If a steak sounds good, I have it. Generally speaking though, I eat more plant-based foods than animal-based. Fats (saturated too) are an important piece of nutrition for those trying to conceive. I am going to work to incorporate more organic eggs, grass-fed meat, wild-caught salmon, coconut oil, olive oil, walnuts, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, nut butters, and avocado into my life. Wow, now that I just wrote all that out, I am realizing how awesome this sounds. This focus will help me with the 5 lb. weight gain. Adding in extra fats throughout the day will give me the extra calories in a healthy way.
Cut back on intense exercise. This almost angers me to write this one out. I have played sports my whole life, have always been competitive, and am addicted to the ‘natural high’ that exercise creates, but the truth is, intense exercise does put stress on the body. This goal will be very hard for me and will take a lot of discipline. While most people hate doing burpees, I love them. Is that weird? I know some of you can relate. I plan to modify, modify, modify in my group exercise classes–less cardio, going to my knees for planks, and less use of weights. I will also replace some of what I do now with walks or yoga. Considering I never do yoga now, a small step for me would be to go one time a month. As I would tell my clients: some is better than none.
Limit caffeine to one cup a day. I just love everything about coffee. Over the past year, I have cut it out or cut way down during fertility treatments and pregnancy but as soon as a treatment was unsuccessful or we lost a baby, I was right back on it. Coffee is a drug, even though I hate to admit it. There is no reason why I need more than one cup a day; it increases your risk of miscarriage and when I am ‘hyped’ up from caffeine I can almost feel the adrenaline running through my body. I will opt for decaf coffee, decaf hot tea, or hot water with lemon when I am wanting something warm to drink throughout the day beyond my one cup of regular coffee.
Take my vitamins and supplements daily. I have been working with someone I really respect on ways to heal my body naturally. She has given me some recommendations on certain vitamins and supplements that will be beneficial for my goals. Historically, I go in waves about being good with taking my vitamins. There is no rhyme or reason why–sometimes I take them and sometimes I don’t. I know consistency is most important, and I want to be more consistent so I can give them the chance to work.
Spend time in prayer, reading, and journaling as much as possible. Hands down, when I start my day this way I have more focus, joy, and peace. It is very easy to feel like there isn’t enough ‘time’ to do these things, yet I find time everyday to mindlessly scroll my Facebook feed. So, I want to channel some of that time into doing things that will be more productive for me. These practices will also help me cut down on and handle stress better.
Do I think all of these will be easy? Hell no. Excuse the language, but goals are not suppose to be easy, they are suppose to be challenging. As we say at B Present Studio, ‘challenge equals change’ and the changes that I desire will be fruitful to my life. I expect myself to fall off here and there–perfection is not possible and habits I have had for years will be hard to break. But just as I would tell my clients or the women who are about to start the 21 DAY TRANSFORMATION, even if you can do these things 90% of the time, you are better off! And that will be my mantra for 2016.