Our miracle RAINBOW BABY BOY arrived 8/2018

1st IVF = BFN
2nd IVF = Baby A, born May 2015
3rd IVF = Miscarriage at 14 weeks
4th IVF = BFN
After we paid for 5th IVF, positive pregnancy without IVF!

Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Tummy Tuck Time!

A tummy tuck (also known as an abdominoplasty) is a cosmetic procedure that reshapes and flattens the abdominal area by removing excess fat and skin, as well as tightening the muscles in the abdominal region, the goal being a tighter and firmer abdomen. But it does a lot more than help women feel comfortable in a bikini again after having babies. This major surgery is considered more invasive than a c-section with a longer and more difficult recovery for one main reason: the muscles. 

I have a condition common post-pregnancy called Diastasis recti, where the two bands of muscles that come together in the middle of the abdomen are separated by the growing uterus. And when this happens, there are no exercises in the world that can help. The only solution is surgical repair. Not repairing the abdominal muscles can lead to back problems down the line. While some people feel that I should roll the dice and only have surgery once I have back problems, I don't want to ever have back problems if it can be avoided and also don't want to have major surgery when I'm any older.

Although there are muscles being repaired, abdominoplasty is never covered by insurance, and only done by cosmetic surgeons. And, let's be honest, if no muscle repair was needed, I would still want the procedure because I was huge with Cha! So large that when I sent my before picture to a friend, she thought I had altered it and responded with "You never looked like that!" But I did...and here's my proof:

While I worked hard to loose the majority of it, I still found myself larger than I wanted to be, and larger than I felt comfortable weighing. My BMI was still too high, and last summer, a plastic surgeon that we had a consultation with told me that I had too much visceral fat. He was brutally honest, and even though it wasn't what I wanted to hear, it needed to be said. He told me that a tummy tuck could not help with fat around my organs, which is the worst type of fat to have, medically speaking, and that it would work against the procedure. Another surgeon explained that I needed to get down to my goal weight before having a tummy tuck. Its okay to gain some weight after the surgery...but you do not want to loose.

I was pretty frustrated because I had been running more than ever; three miles almost every single day from March 13, 2020 until the picture below, on the left, taken in April of 2021.

So I decided to work smarter, not harder. Knowing that weight is only abut 20% how much we exercise and 80% what we eat, I backed off on my running, added in weight-training two days a week, and upped my intermittent fasting, which had been key to all my progress up until this point. I remember taking the photo on the left, and being worried that there never would be an "after" to compare it to.

For several months, I did nothing. And a few months after that...nothing. But then we put down the deposit on my surgery, picked the date and it was time for the rubber to meet the road. I was out of excuses and ways to justify how I looked and felt. Ohh...it's tougher to loose when you're older was countered with the knowledge that our metabolism only slows 3% a decade. Or well, I'm a Mom now was quickly countered with yes, I am and for that reason and more I want to be around as long as I can, and be healthy; feel healthy! Being in shape does not just add to the quantity of our life, but to the quality as well. I have more energy and am in a better mood when I'm on my game.

Also super helpful to me in shifting my mindset was Candace Cameron Bure's book, Reshaping It All. This book helped me view self-control as being more in line with Biblical teachings than gluttony and self-indulgency. 

In Reshaping It All, she continues the story, inspiring women to embrace a healthier lifestyle by moving faith to the forefront, making wise choices, and finding their worth in the eyes of God. Candace shares a candid account of her struggle with food and ultimately her healthy outlook on weight despite the toothpick-thin expectations of Hollywood.

More than a testimony, here is a motivational tool that will put readers on the right track and keep them there. In addition to practical advice, Candace offers a biblical perspective on appetite and self control that provides encouragement to women, guiding them toward freedom.

Look, I love food more than most people. And being a distance runner, I have gotten away with being able to have more than my fair share. In fact, I famously ate more than my husband who is 6'4" (and full of muscles) on our first date because I was training for an ultra marathon. I mean, I actually went back for thirds, which did concern him a little! But the problem is that a mile still only ever burns 100 calories, and when I'm not logging the miles, it can be too easy to get used to eating more.

As a runner, I felt like I was brainwashed into thinking I had to eat frequently, at least every three hours. But when you're eating that often, there are too many opportunities to slip up. For me, it is much easier to make one decision: to not eat for a period of time, rather than trying to make 15 healthy, good choices each day! I mean, I work in a school where there are always unexpected pastries materializing out of thin air. When I'm fasting, I feel like I have a magic shield activated and I am able to say no. I have even driven the kids through the in-n-out drive through and not had one bite, not even their leftovers. No matter what your weaknesses and pitfalls are, there are ways around them. It just took me a few decades to find mine. I've tried a lot of different techniques, but intermittent fasting is the only thing that has worked for me. When I used to track my calories, I felt like it put food on my mind even more! And once I messed up, usually by 2pm each day, I quit tracking for the day and said I would start over tomorrow. My advice is to find what works for you; there is something. And every time you fail, you're one step closer to succeeding. For reals, this time.  

I feel like I'm on a great path now, and it feels good to be in control. I'm hopeful that the picture on the right is not my "after" picture, but rather my "during" picture, which I can eventually place next to my true "after." I look back on the time when I was eating for two adults (not myself and my fetus) and I can truly say that I did not enjoy it. When you can have anything you want to eat, any time you want, you do not appreciate it. Now, I enjoy my occasional cheat meal or Two Good yogurt (with only 2g of carbs) way more than I ever enjoyed that second bowl of ice cream. I look forward to my cup of tea. I feel proud when I wake up and weigh myself.

My surgery is only four days away, on 7/7, and I am more excited than nervous. I check into the surgery center at 6am and stay until 6:30 am the following day. Always the over-sharer, you can count on regular updates from me. Here's a preview: I will have two drains in for two weeks, and won't be able to walk upright for awhile! It going to be tough not being able to help around the house, swim or play with the kids. I think I'm even going to miss the gym and sauna! But I'm fortunate to have made it to this stage, and be a good candidate for this. Here's to a speedy recovery and health and strength. Oh, and patient kids who won't mind several days (weeks?) filled with Disney movie marathons, and lots of reading and snuggling.

May, 2022

 Pool construction continues, and continues and....

...there is light at the end of the tunnel. The whole process has been a nightmare for my hubby, who bears the brunt of the decision-making process as well as all financial matters. But the finish line is sight, and we are beyond excited. He even shelled out the $12,000 for me to have a swim jet, so that I can get a good swim workout in! We never dreamed that a swim jet would cost that much, nor could we conceive the final cost of the pool! He said that of he had known the cost of putting in a pool, he would not have purchased our home. Thank goodness we were in the dark, because our home is prefect, not just inside but we love the location. We're at the end of a cul-de-sac and back up to open space that can't be built on and hiking/running/mountain bike trails which is a dream come true not only for me, but for the kids in years to come, as well as our dogs.

May is always a special time for me because the month starts with my birthday, and ends with our girl's birthday and we have mother's day in between! I marvel at how fast she seems to be growing, and just how quickly the time passes. 

Her birthday party was a success! This was the very first time she only invited girls, and only her class (plus cousin & neighbor). We were limited to 12 girls, but could pay a little extra to have up to 14 at the venue, Le Petiet Princesse. It was tough to not have some dear family friends there, but with the new school, we were hoping this would help her make some connections. I had no idea that all the girls would come! To make it special, and last a little longer, we had the girls all meet at our house and then took a limo to In-N-Out, and then on to the spa and tea parlor, where each girl received hair, makeup and nail polish before putting on a fashion show, having a tea party and a surprise visit from Aurora!

It was cute because on the limo ride there, all the girls were a bit reserved even though I was playing. But on the way back, they were dancing and giggling and being silly. 

The celebrations continued after her birthday party, with an evening at Chuck-e-Cheese and Great Wolf Lodge with her neighbor friend Mara and her cousins. She had her first sleepover there, when the girls stayed in the bunkbed area.

On Mother's Day, Elsa had 10 puppies! Ten! All survived, and are healthy and thriving.