April Goal Check-In

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April showers may bring May flowers, but apparently they also brought an early summer to Portland this year. We’ve enjoyed more than one day in the 80’s this month, which made for some lovely outings to combat my nonstop-couch-sitting-cabin-fever from the past eight weeks.

The good news is that I’ve managed to make a bit more progress toward my goals this month…although the downside is that we’re still in “newborn mode” so the zealousness which which I usually like to attack projects has been somewhat tempered. Sleep deprivation will tend to do that to you.

Although I’m not complaining, having our cute little bundle to love on all day 🙂

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

At my six-week follow-up appointment, my OB officially cleared me to resume regular activity. Well, within reason, that is.

Aside from a few leisurely walks, my first official workout was a 30-minute kickboxing session which kicked my butt. My brain was ready to get back in the game, but there was a huge disconnect with my body.

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It’s not so much that pregnancy set me back — I worked out pretty regularly throughout, up to the day of delivery, in fact — it was the six straight weeks of doing nothing except trying to keep the baby alive after you give birth that really takes a toll.

So after prying myself out from between the couch cushions, I’ve been dabbling with barre and strength training to try to build back a base of fitness. Specifically, I’m working on reconnecting with my long-lost ab muscles, regaining my balance now that I have my old center of gravity back, challenging myself cardiovascularly and working to develop muscles that have since atrophied.

2. Training

My first official post-baby race is on the calendar! Wanderlust 108 asked me to help lead the 5k at their “Mindful Triathlon” (running/yoga/meditation) on May 15, and I’m thrilled not only to be a part of this great event but also to have something to aim for as I ease back into running. Sign up and join us!

Speaking of — I haven’t run since about week 26 of pregnancy, which (when coupled with postpartum recovery) is the longest non-running stretch since I started the sport more than two decades ago. Quite frankly, I had no idea what to expect during my first few forays, but it wasn’t as horrible as I had anticipated.

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Sure, I’m slow as heck, out of shape and super sore…but over the course of the past few weeks I’ve already seen some progress with my pace and am feeling stronger. But it’s going to be a long road back to racing shape, people.

I’m eyeing a few summer events on the calendar but nothing’s set in stone except for the Portland Marathon this fall. More details on the game plan for that very soon!

3. Community

Our second season of Team LUNA Chix Portland Run is underway, and it started off with a bang! We’ve had fantastic turnout for practice each week; it’s clear that this crew is pumped for another year of bonding while we sweat it out on the track.

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In addition to our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm) at Duniway Track, we’re also planning a community week in May to help spread word about what we do, as well as highlight some of our favorite local businesses, so if you’re in the Portland area and want to join in on the fun, like our Facebook page for details.

You can also follow along on the fun via our Instagram and Twitter accounts, as well. We’re all over social media trying to recruit women to get involved; not only do we sweat together, but we do a lot of good, too, by raising money for the Breast Cancer Fund.

4. Career

Learning that juggling work with a baby is simply not possible at this point, so I’m likely staying on maternity leave through May unless Wyatt magically starts sleeping through the night or taking longer naps during the day…

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I’m stealing in a few moments where I can, though, to keep Pulse Creative moving forward. It’s the double-edged sword of working for yourself, although I’m grateful to be able to take the extra time for Wyatt as he needs it.

5. Life

Remember my big goal of utilizing “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” to overhaul our apartment?

Pffft!

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At this point, I’m getting used to our new state of total disarray. When there’s a newborn in the house, it’s almost impossible to take on organization projects let alone keep things tidy.

I do, however, try to get a few minutes of cleaning done here and there while I wear Wyatt. He sleeps pretty soundly in his wrap at this stage, which buys me precious time to wash bottles, do a load of laundry and get ready for his next round of feeding!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

March Goal Check-In

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Between a new baby, c-section recovery and getting hit with a nasty flu bug that’s been circulating around Portland a week after Wyatt’s arrival, this month was about one thing and one thing only: Survival.

Sometimes it’s less about looking forward and more about living in the moment — or just getting by from one minute to the next.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

I’m still not sure where March went; quite frankly, it’s a blur of dirty diapers, newborn cuddles, sleepless nights, non-stop breastfeeding, pediatrician appointments and a whole lot of staring and smiling at this new little man who has now made us a family of three.

Workouts and training are on hold for at least a few more weeks until I’m cleared by my OB (more on postpartum fitness in a coming post). I have managed to sneak out for a handful of walks when the weather’s nice, which helps me manage the inevitable cabin fever that comes with caring for a newborn ’round the clock.

Work is also on hold for the time being until we can find our groove; Wyatt’s on the gassier/fussier end of the spectrum, so I anticipate it’ll be at least a few more weeks until we get an uninterrupted nap or extended stretch of zzz’s at night (hello, sleep deprivation).

Prep for Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season two, however, has been in progress and I’m happy to announce that our first workout will be on Monday, April 11 at Duniway Track from 6:30-7:30 p.m. As always, it’s FREE and open to women of all levels and abilities (not to mention we’ve got yummy LUNA bars and great LUNA swag for participants), so follow our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for details.

Until then, it’s just one foot (or feeding…or diaper change…or snuggle) in front of the other…

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

February Goal Check-In

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And, just like that, my last month before baby is a distant memory…

Despite the desire to squeeze as much as I possibly could into the past four weeks, my body (thankfully) kept me in check. Waking up at two-hour intervals to pee pretty much every night and getting contractions when you exert yourself with more than a gentle stroll will tend to do that to a person.

So, yet again, we are adjusting goals, resetting expectations and wading into what appears to be the “new normal” — at least for the foreseeable future. And this is all pre-baby, so I can’t imagine what March’s recap will be like!

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

February was all about listening to my body. And, boy, did it have a lot to say. 

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This extra 30 pounds I’ve gained earned over the past 10 months really started to take their toll (in the form of back pain, hip pain, foot pain…see a theme here?), and I could tell my body was getting prepped for the main event (contractions!). So while workouts remained consistent, I’ve definitely tapered things off in the past two weeks.

I credit regular movement, however, for helping me stave off a host of other pregnancy-related conditions (swelling, and other random maladies, etc.), so I’m thrilled to have been able to be active well into the home stretch. Especially since it’ll be a while before I can resume my usual activity levels…

2. Training

Nada at the moment, but I am making tentative plans for a half-marathon relay with a mama runner friend, Tiffany, later this summer. We may not be the fittest or fastest out there, but we’re determined to put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving.

Getting my 2016 Coeur Sports team kit in the mail was another major highlight this month. It got me super excited for when I can ease back into some kind of training schedule. Eventually.

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In the meantime, I’m so thankful to be working with a company who supports women of all levels, abilities and stages of life! This really is the year of the #coeurbaby, and I love how we can show that healthy mamas = healthy babes.

3. Community

While our Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season hasn’t officially kicked off (stay tuned — April!), our planning sure has. The team’s 10 leaders gathered on February 20 for a retreat, which included some movement and food in addition to the business at hand.

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We’re really excited about going bigger and bolder this year, so keep an eye out for all kinds of great sweat sessions, events and activities. We’ll be resuming our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm) in April, so follow our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for details.

4. Career

After a bustling January at Pulse Creative, February was all about wrapping up open projects and getting everything set for maternity leave (always a double-edged sword when you work for yourself!). My tentative plan is to step back for two months (March and April), which makes me nervous in the short-term, but I know it’s what’s best for our family in the long run.

As a girlfriend put it, there’s no use in half-assing work, baby, family and self-care during such a tumultuous time. No one will win in the end. And sometimes a step back helps you take a leap forward, so I know a little time off will further inspire me when I resume my work with clients later this spring.

5. Life

My grand plans for Kondo-izing our apartment before baby were a big, fat fail this month. While nesting instincts were in overdrive, I simply didn’t have the energy to tear everything apart and do a big purge.

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So instead of following the guidelines in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” to the letter, I settled for a weekend closet clean-out. I ended up with one bag for Goodwill and another for eBay, and I’m happy with that for the time being.

After all, we’ve got the rest of our lives to clean — and our last month as non-parents had to take precedence, right?!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

My External Cephalic Version Experience

Source: PregnancyVideo.net

Source: PregnancyVideo.net

Sounds like a fancy spa treatment, doesn’t it? Well, if you’re not already familiar with the term, spoiler alert: It isn’t.

An ECV or “version” as it’s more typically called, is a procedure where your doctor lubes up your pregnant belly and uses their hands to try to manually flip a breech baby from the outside.

As I mentioned previously, Baby H has made himself/herself very comfortable lounging with a head in my left ribs, feet in my right ribs and butt nestled on top of what I can only figure is the nice cushion of my bladder. No wonder running was super uncomfortable as soon as s/he started getting bigger…

And after trying a number of natural remedies and old wives’ tales to get him/her to move, my doctor gave me the option of trying the ECV to see if we could encourage a somersault to get Baby in to the correct position for delivery (although some will attempt it, it’s my hospital’s policy to not deliver breech babies vaginally).

Because Google is every first-time pregnant woman’s best friend and worst nightmare, there are a lot of horror stories circulating about this procedure. Some are true — when it goes poorly, there are major risks that shouldn’t be taken lightly, such as tearing of the placenta, water breaking prematurely, emergency c-sections and even stillbirth — but there are also success stories, so I wanted to share my version of the version (pun intended) in case you find yourself at the same crossroads. Believe me, I spent many sleepless nights and hours on the Internet trying to make the decision whether or not to give it a shot. 

First and foremost for any pregnant woman is the rule that there’s no eating or drinking past midnight the night before a version. This is fine if you’ve got a morning appointment, but I was scheduled for 12:30 p.m., so you can imagine the extra anxiety this created.

Both Ben and I prepped beforehand — I was really, really hoping Baby wouldn’t get distressed and have to be evacuated via an emergency c-section where they’d have to knock me out cold and I’d miss the actual birth — so we figured we’d prepare for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best. Hospital bags were packed and loaded in the car, and I took a quick shower before we went over and checked into the Labor and Delivery unit of the hospital a bit before noon.

Now, despite watching my sister give birth and visiting my father-in-law after back surgery, this was pretty much my first time IN a hospital, let alone being a patient there. So despite trying to keep my cool, I could feel my heart start to race and fought the instinct to flee as they led us to a delivery room and I was instructed to get into a gown and lay down in the hospital bed.

Once the nurses took my vitals and asked a bunch of health-related questions, they put sensors on my belly to monitor Baby and put me on my first-ever IV. I was having regular/minor contractions due to the dehydration of not being able to drink for a good 13 hours, so they gave me a liter of fluid in my IV…but it was really there just in case things went south and they needed it for anesthesia for surgery.

After getting a baseline for Baby’s heartbeat — strong and healthy! — I got a shot of terbutaline in my arm, which would relax the muscles of my uterus. A common side effect is feeling anxious, flushed or like your heart is racing, but I didn’t experience that, most likely because they gave me another pill by mouth to help counteract the effects.

At this point, I was actually hoping to feel woozy, but I was completely coherent when the doctor came in and double-checked the position of Baby H via ultrasound. Then she laid the bed back, oiled up my belly and quickly got to work.

I’m not gonna lie; it was pretty uncomfortable as her hands dug deep into my belly to try to grab the baby’s head and bottom and slowly twist him/her around. I tried to focus on my breathing, but my original in-for-four-out-for-seven plan went out the window as all I could do was brace myself, and try to relax as much as possible while clutching Ben’s hand for dear life.

The first direction (counter-clockwise) was halfway way successful; I could feel the baby move sideways, and I remember saying, “This feels SO WEIRD” as s/he rotated within me. But the butt simply couldn’t seem to make the turn out of my pelvis; the doctor checked the ultrasound to see if we were able to clear it, but Baby had promptly popped back into place.

They also checked heart rate at this point to see how Baby was tolerating being poked and prodded. I remember hearing a slower thumping rhythm as it dropped from the 130’s into the low 90’s at one point…and I started to panic that it would keep dropping, but — thank goodness — it went right back up to normal within a few seconds.

We attempted the other direction (clockwise), and the pain was intense. Any kind of controlled breathing disappeared and I had to fight to keep from holding my breath as the doctor tried using her knuckles to get underneath Baby’s butt in my pelvis. Ben could see the pain in my eyes and knew it was time to pull out the big guns and make a joke to try to distract me as she gave it one final try.

But Baby H simply wouldn’t budge. 

I was relieved when the doctor called it because I didn’t think I could take another round at that point. Not only was she starting to break a sweat, but my stomach was also super sore and I felt shaky when I was cleared to get up to go to the bathroom a few minutes later.

She congratulated me for being such a trooper, and I thanked her for giving it her best shot. We agreed that if Baby was going to turn, this would have done it because neither of us was holding back, so she suggested that my pelvis angle might be playing a part in keeping the little guy or gal from being able to flip.

It was now around 2 p.m., and as the adrenaline slowly left my body, I realized I was starving. But Baby H still needed to be monitored for another hour before I could eat or drink, just to make sure everything was ok.

Fortunately his/her heartbeat remained strong and regular, so around 3:30 p.m. I was cleared to eat and Ben ran out to get me some ramen and steamed buns with fried chicken. In the meantime, my nurse brought in snacks — fruit plate with yogurt, blueberry muffin, cheese sticks, pudding cups, crackers and ice water — which I promptly wolfed down.

Baby H was still being monitored for an additional hour, but between the hospital snacks, food from Ben and TV in the room, I was a pretty happy camper. Both our vitals stayed steady, so we were able to check out around 5 p.m…and I proceeded to keep eating and drinking over the course of the evening until it was time to go to bed.

For the next few days, I was tired, had some minor cramping and felt like I got punched in the gut — or did a really, really hard ab workout — but Baby H was moving around as if nothing happened. My guess is that s/he is in there, just contentedly lounging, and I’m just fine with baking the little bun for a few more weeks.

In terms of where we go from here, there’s a very small chance that the baby will flip on his/her own in the home stretch, in which case we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but Baby H will most likely be making his/her debut via c-section. Regardless, I’m happy we gave it our best try, grateful for the wonderful hospital staff who took fantastic care of us and mostly just relieved that it didn’t end in an emergency situation.

And you know what? It’s taken me a while to process, but I’ve come to learn through my experience and by reading and hearing about others’ that Baby will come how s/he is meant to come. The best scenario isn’t necessarily the one you’ve planned for (Me: “Pregnancy really is a crap-shoot, isn’t it?” My doctor: “Welcome to OB!”); it’s the one in which both mom and baby emerge happy and healthy.

As much emphasis as we place on the “birth story,” I’ve realized that it’s really just a lot of unnecessary pressure on moms, and we need to take it easy on ourselves when things don’t go the way that we (or society) expects. After all, I’m pretty sure the best “stories” are the ones yet to come. 🙂

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional; this is merely my experience with a procedure from my personal perspective. It’s not meant to replace advice from your doctor, so be sure to check with him/her before making any medical decisions. 

Looking forward to introducing you all to Baby H in early March! 

I’ll (Try to) Spin You Right Round, Baby

It’s said that “most” babies are head-down by around 36 weeks (I’ve read as much as 96-97% of ’em), getting ready to make the journey from womb to world.

Of course, Baby H had other plans and remained comfortably in a stubborn “sweet little breech ball,” according one ultrasound technician.

My doctor first broached the topic around 32 weeks, but when our little nugget still hadn’t budged by 34 weeks, I took matters into my own hands to try to facilitate a flip naturally.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t run in a few months. Or maybe it’s because I’m not following any kind of training schedule. But either way, my inner Type A-proactive-planner took over and I enjoyed researching, laying out a game plan and getting to work on the following options for encouraging a breech baby to turn:

Moxibustion: A Chinese medicine practice of burning mugwort on or near the outermost point of your pinkie toes. Apparently there’s an energy channel located there, and getting things flowing in a downward direction may help baby’s head to do the same.

Inversions: Whenever I’d feel Baby H get particularly active, I’d try out different inversions to see if I could give him/her more room in my belly to move around. A number of people recommended SpinningBabies.com, so I tried a bunch of the moves on the site (again, much to Ben’s amusement).

Acupuncture: Similar to moxa with the energy channel hypothesis, this uses needles to balance your “Chi” and get baby to turn. It’s been shown to have a decent success rate in studies such as this one, and I found it to be a great way to relax for an hour, as well.

Swimming: Whether it’s the change in pressure, buoyancy or body position, some people think that getting in the pool can help get baby re-oriented in the right direction. There are no official studies on this, but being in the water once a week definitely felt good and, I think, decreased swelling.

Chiropractic: The theory here is that if your skeletal structure is out of whack, it could affect your inside organs (i.e. uterus) and baby’s positioning or ability to move. Chiropractors use a special move called the Webster Technique, which is supposed to restore proper pelvic balance and function.

Old Wives’ Tales: Other suggestions for turning a breech baby include things using cold packs, talking, music or light to incite movement. Again, none are proven to be particularly effective or supported by studies, but they’re something to consider nevertheless.

Although ultimately unsuccessful for us, I do feel these techniques are well worth a shot if you find yourself (and your baby) in a similar situation. But — and I probably sound like a broken record with this — pregnancy really is a total crap-shoot, so don’t go into anything expecting guaranteed results.

The only thing I can guarantee? A laugh about the whole predicament, if you read this post from Pregnant Chicken.

And as for me, I’m learning that this process — along with expecting the unexpected and just going with it — is all a part of preparing for the next adventure: parenthood.

Disclaimer: I’m not a health professional, so be sure to consult yours first before trying anything new!

Anyone else out there have experience with a breech babe?

Baby H: 36-Week Update

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We’ve reached the point of what I’ve dubbed the “ninth-month conundrum” where you’re so ready to NOT be pregnant anymore…yet you’re so NOT ready to not be pregnant. Meaning, it’s starting to hit both Ben and me that — wow — this kiddo is imminent.

And although I feel like we got a lot accomplished this past month — baby shower, childbirth class, car-seat installation, car tune-up, clothes washing and hospital bag packing, just to name a few — the to-do list is still very much in progress. As in, my priorities are tying up loose ends at work for my maternity break and getting the apartment really organized (read: obsessively cleaned) and ready for Baby H’s homecoming.

So here’s where things stand at our 36-week “bumpdate.”

Month Nine: In the last month alone, baby is estimated to have almost doubled in weight (~5-6 pounds) and measures somewhere around 19 inches long. It amazes me that with all this technology we have now there’s not a more accurate way to gauge his/her size, but I guess the exact stats are part of the fun of delivery day!

Weight Gained: Right around 25 pounds. I’m still loading up on good fats and doing lots of snacking to help Baby H pack on those final few layers of adorable chub. I’m trying to up my water intake, too, to keep well-hydrated and to maintain good fluid levels.

Workouts: While they’re nothing like my old intensity, I’m thankful to still be moving at least 5-6 days per week. I’m listening to my body carefully, steering clear of high-impact activities (they’re neither appealing nor comfortable) and limiting myself to a maximum of 30 minutes of “easy” cardio per session, whether it’s the recumbent bike, elliptical, stair stepper or walking. I’ll toss in some yoga, barre or strength training a few days a week, as well, just to keep my muscles awake and engaged.

Symptoms: Normal-sized meals are now totally off-limits, unfortunately. Even my strategy of hardcore, well-paced snacking is pushing it; despite aiming for healthier Superbowl fare this year, I still ended up propped up on the couch for hours afterward, in misery, with my digestive system struggling to process the remnants of our Mexican fiesta. Bending over is non-existent, although I’ve come up with a number of ways to contort my body to accommodate the belly, much to Ben’s amusement. And I get out of breath with even the smallest effort — like going up a flight of stairs, getting out of the car or even putting on socks — so I’ve learned to allow for extra time to keep myself from having to deal with the cascade of Braxton Hicks contractions that will inevitably result.

Food Aversions: Nada, thankfully. Well, aside from the lactose-free milk that Ben accidentally grabbed last week instead of our usual 2% — gross!

Food Cravings: Oranges. So much so that I plowed through a 10-pound box last month. And now that those are gone, I’ve moved on to clementines, apples and raspberries. But cheese sticks, milk and cereal are all in heavy rotation — along with pints of ice cream that keep finding their way into our freezer (thanks, Ben). So it’s safe to say that dairy’s still up there on the cravings list, too. Oh, and sweets…although I *try* to limit my candy consumption to a few pieces per day or chocolate or chewy fruity things.

Sleep: Not sleeping well is now the norm, so there’s not much to add here. I’m guessing that this means we’ve truly begun our transition to parenthood?!

Looking Forward To: As small as it seems, setting up the crib. Because then it’ll really feel “real”…and hopefully we’ll feel somewhat prepared. Big picture, though? Meeting him or her soon! Both Ben and I are excited to find out who this little person is that’s about to rock our worlds.

Boy/Girl Suspicions: None. And I hope to keep them that way until delivery day because we’ve made it this far! We’re still getting feedback that’s pretty evenly split, so your guess is as good as mine. Wanna weigh in? 

Any Fun Stories? Baby H is what I affectionately call my “breech ball baby” because s/he is still settled butt-down, curled into a comfy little ball. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it “fun,” we do have some decisions to make over the next few weeks that will potentially affect our labor and delivery options. In the meantime, I’ve been doubling down on acupuncture, chiropractic, moxibustion and inversions in an attempt to get him or her to bust a move and head south. More on that soon!

Stay tuned for what could be our ten-month update (yikes!) in just a few weeks…

January Goal Check-In

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Ok, 2016 — ready or not, here you are. Although it feels like we’ve just begun the year, we’re already a month in.

I’ll admit, pregnancy has given me a more leisurely attitude to this year’s goals…well, at least at this point in the game. And purposefully so.

Not only do I want to be kind to my body right now, but I’m also trying to stay present, cut down on unnecessary stress and enjoy the final weeks of Ben and I being responsible for no one but ourselves. All that’s about to change, and I know we’ll get back on track and into our competitive pursuits again eventually…but until then I’m making a concerted effort to keep things casual.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand at the moment:

1. Health & Fitness

Until Baby H’s arrival, I’ve been hoping to be able to stay active. That means continuing regular workouts with a mix of cardio, strength and flexiblity work throughout the week with one day off to allow my body to rest.

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Fortunately, my doctor’s fully in support of this plan. Despite some minor aches, pains and first-time-mom freak-outs (Me: “There’s a bruise around my belly button; what did I do wrong, and should I stop working out?!” My doctor: “Nope, that’s just pregnancy.”), she’s great with the fact that I keep moving so the baby will keep moving…ideally into the correct head-down birth position.

2. Training

As I mentioned in my initial post on 2016’s goals, I’m signed up for the Portland Marathon and am considering a few smaller races leading up to that (recovery permitting, of course). Since then, I’ve further revised this goal so it’s more about completion than competition; meaning, I’m going to train to be able to finish events without any expectations of times, PR’s or age-group placements.

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While that’s the stuff that typically gets my juices flowing when it comes to training, it’s been a relief to let it go and give myself permission to not feel like I have to push so hard to prove something. And in the meantime, I’m working on maintaining a solid foundation on which I can build post-baby with an ultimate goal of remaining injury-free.

3. Community

Earlier this month, we officially announced the new roster for 2016’s Team LUNA Chix Portland Run. It’s a fantastic group of women of all ages, abilities and interests…but the one thing they all have in common is that they’re stoked to be able to once again connect with the community, promote the sport of running among women and raise money for our charity partner, the Breast Cancer Fund.

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Next up is our team leader retreat next month where we’re setting some goals and doing a little bonding before the season officially starts in April. Mark your calendar! We’ll be resuming our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm), and you can find up-to-the-minute details via our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

4. Career

Now that the holidays are over, things have been ramping up again work-wise at Pulse Creative. I’ve got several projects in-progress with clients, including website audits, messaging workshops and content creation, along with ghostwriting articles for Forbes and other outlets on behalf of C-level execs — flexing my old journalism muscles has been especially fun!

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But as I attempt to wind things down for my maternity leave, I’m already contemplating the direction I want to take my business when I return. In other words, what really lights my fire, work-wise, and how can I do more of that? 

It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately — not only in terms of where I can make the most impact for clients, but also how I can continue to create a sustainable career that allows me to find fulfillment yet maintain a healthy work/life balance. I want to continue to do this same type of project work, but I’m also exploring how to package up my favorite services for clients so I can serve them even better in the long run.

5. Life

Despite being proudly Type-A-organized, I will admit to having what I jokingly call a “Monica’s closet.” Look closely and you’ll see a bike helmet hung next to blazers and a hydration pack mingling among my purses. Yep, #fitpeopleprobs + #cityliving = interesting storage solutions.

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While my original goal was to finish  Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by mid-month so I’d have an update on it being in action for two weeks now, I’m behind schedule. I finished the book, but I know that one month isn’t realistic to be able to follow all the instructions laid out in it.

So I’m revising my timeline — this is about year-long goals, after all — and am aiming to tackle step no. 1 (my clothing) by the end of February. So if you don’t see me for the next few weeks, you know where I am…or what I might quite possibly be buried under!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

Baby H: 32-Week Update

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A girlfriend (who also happens to be pregnant and due around the same time) recently shared with me a great description of what it’s like at this point of pregnancy: It feels like you don’t have much time left, but there’s still a long way to go.

As in, there’s a lot that needs to be done before our new roomie arrives — crib setup, car-seat installation, clothes washing, hospital bag packing! — but then again two more months of living day-in and day-out in this state feels like it might get old…very soon, if not already. So, without further ado, here’s our 32-week “bumpdate”…

Month Eight: Estimated at a little more than three pounds (as of our most recent ultrasound) and anywhere from 17-19 inches long from end to end, Baby H’s new job is to start packing on the pounds in preparation for life outside the womb. According to my app, all senses are operational, too, which is exciting because I’m constantly wondering what’s going on in there with each little thump or squirm that I feel!

Weight Gained: Still hovering at a little more than 20 pounds. I was expecting that number to be higher after all my holiday indulgences, but my doctor says I’m tracking just fine for total gain, so I’m just loading up on good fats with things like eggs, nuts, avocados (and maybe the occasional ice cream sundae) to help Baby H build up that fat to help with temperature regulation and energy after birth.

Workouts: It’s high time to take it down a notch. Not only am I limiting cardio to 30-minute sessions, per my doctor’s recommendation, but I’m also following the talk test more strictly. And I’m also sticking with low-impact cross-training, which means more barre, Pilates, light weights, yoga and the like.

Symptoms: I miss being able to eat whatever I want without feeling full very quickly. Maybe it’s the way Baby H is sitting, but my eyes are quite literally bigger than my stomach at every meal. Normally, I’m a three-square-meals kinda gal with snacking in between, but I’m learning that six smaller ones might be more my speed at this point.

Food Aversions: None, thank goodness. Just getting a little tired of my snack of choice (nuts), so I’ve been searching out new products and recipes to keep from getting bored while trying to consume enough good fats. Stay tuned for more on that!

Food Cravings: Oranges. I can’t get enough of ’em. Which is also convenient because it’s peak cold and flu season, and I could use all the immunity help I can get. We got a box of our favorites delivered direct from Florida, and I’m in heaven. Otherwise, it’s been tough to try to limit the sweets so I can leave some room for high-density foods, such as eggs, avocado, nuts, coconut, etc.

Sleep: It never fails — get a group of preggos together, and inevitably the conversation turns to how much sleep we’re not getting at this point. It fluctuates, depending on the night, but let’s just say I’m operating on average numbers that I’ve never before considered sustainable. Yet, I know I’ll be looking back in a few months and wishing I was getting as much shuteye as I am at the moment, sans baby!

Looking Forward To: All the nesting, which means things are getting real. We’re starting to plan our hospital bags, logisticize a dedicated space for Baby H in our apartment (much to our dogs’ dismay, as their domain is shrinking), wash tiny clothes (Dreft smell!) and gather all the other necessary gear.

Boy/Girl Suspicions: I still don’t have a strong feeling. Ben’s mom surprised us over the holidays at a family dinner with something really fun — she had a dozen each of pink cupcakes and blue cupcakes, and people got to vote by selecting their dessert. In the end, blue won. But it’s also worth saying that my new chiropractor, unprompted, said her vote is for pink. So I think it’s safe to say that this kid’s got everyone stumped.

Any Fun Stories? Baby H apparently has a sense of humor. And some impressive flexibility skills. Or we’re just getting a sneak peek at a future trouble-maker. At my last ultrasound, s/he was sitting comfortably breech — butt down and legs up overhead — although s/he usually prefers to tuck both feet under my ribs. Apparently I have a few more weeks until Baby H may settle into a final position, although s/he seems pretty darn comfortable hanging out as-is!

Stay tuned for the month nine update in a few weeks…

My 5 Goals for 2016

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‘Tis the season to look back at 2015’s learnings so we can get another batch of goals going for 2016!

But first things first: It’s been really tough to get as specific and measurable as I’d like when I know things will be up in the air with the arrival of Baby H in March. Since I’m not sure exactly what my own labor, delivery, recovery and life with a baby will entail, I’ve decided to take a more “agile” (read: iterative) approach and make educated guesses at goals, which I’ll revise quarterly throughout the year.

And in case you’re wondering — yes, I’m still working toward my long-term goals of going further (another 50k and possibly an eventual 50-miler) and faster (sub-4 marathon), but I’m realistic enough to know that this may not won’t be the year for all of that. So my plan is to continue to lay the foundation to be able to focus on some stretch goals down the road.

As you’ll see, not all my goals are fitness-oriented this year because there are some other areas in which I’d like to focus good chunks of time. But in the meantime, here’s what I’ll be working on for the next 12 months (well, aside from that whole ‘having a baby and keeping it alive’ thing):

1. Health & Fitness: Until Baby H arrives, my goal is to continue regular workouts with a mix of cardio, strength and flexiblity work 5-6 days per week. I’m hoping that my continued prenatal movement classes and other prep will allow me to avoid a c-section, but you never know…so depending on how delivery/recovery goes, I’m expecting anywhere from 6-12 weeks of easing back in with long walks and gentle cross-training. From there, my next step is to get back into ZOOM+Performance around April or May to get baseline measurements done so I can set more specific goals and a timeline for getting safely into a training cycle.

2. Training: There’s no better way to get motivated to get back in shape than with a race, so I’m already signed up for the Portland Marathon next October. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can start training for it in June, but my plan for the race (to simply complete it or run for a time) is TBD until after Baby H arrives. In terms of other events, they’re also pending recovery, but I’m eyeing my first duathlon, as well as some other shorter events (5ks, trail races, etc.) in between, so I can proudly represent as part of the Coeur Sports 2016 team!

3. Community: We’re baaaaack! Team LUNA Chix Portland Run is gearing up for its second season, and we’re in the process of going through applications for new team members. I’ll announce our new team in mid-January, and in February we’ll have a local retreat before the season officially kicks off in April. We’ve got some ambitious goals in terms of growing the team and raising awareness, as well as fundraising $1500+ for our charity partner, the Breast Cancer Fund — but we couldn’t be more excited to ring in a new year together!

4. Career: While this blog is what I call my “passion project,” I’ve actually got a day job in marketing and PR. In fact, as some of you may know, I launched Pulse Creative (my consulting business!) in 2015 after years of agency life and working in-house. It’s been growing steadily in the sixth months since its inception, and I’ve been very fortunate that most of my work has been referral-based, but my goal is to double revenue for 2016. So, shameless plug: If you know of anyone in need of marketing, PR or copywriting services, please let me know; I always appreciate referrals 🙂

5. Life: Finally, after hearing rave reviews from friends about Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” I’ve been inspired to de-clutter our apartment. Whether it’s nesting instinct kicking in, or just the fact that I’m tired of keeping half my clothing in our storage unit, it’s high time to shed all of those unused goods and make space for more streamlined living. My goal now is to finish the book by mid-month, and then I’ll put it in action in January and February. I’m nervous because it’s tough getting rid of “stuff” you think you need — but I’m excited to bring Baby H home to a place that feels lighter and brighter as a result!

What’s on your to-do list for 2016? 

One Look Back at 2015 to Go Two Steps Forward in 2016

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Kicking off 2016 without defining your health and fitness goals is like taking a road trip without knowing your final destination. Sure, there’s a time and place for wandering around aimlessly — but it’s not what you want to do if you’ve got an idea of where you’d ultimately like to go, which most of us are in the process of mulling over right about now.

One of my favorite posts on this exact topic from last year was, “9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Next Season,” based on my fellow Coeur Sports teammate Kecia’s blog post evaluating her 2014 triathlon journey in order to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for 2015. She just did the same for her 2015 season, and it inspired me to do a reprise, as well.

The point here isn’t just to pick a few things to accomplish willy-nilly over the next 12 months; it’s about reflecting on the previous year and taking a look at what went well and what needs improvement before planning for the future.

As a reminder, here were the five goals toward which I was working in 2015, as well as how I think I did on ’em:

  1. Seek Balance. I did have a nice mix of races for time and for fun, so I’ll give myself an 80% for this one!
  2. Train Smarter. I’ll give myself a 50% on this one because I was consistent, but it could’ve been more measurable. 
  3. Face Fears. Ditto — 50% here. Points for recent consistency in the pool, but toward what am I working?
  4. Push Myself. The duathlon, ultra and century ride all fell through after Baby H came into the picture = 0%!
  5. Give Back. This one’s my only 100%; we knocked it out of the park with LUNA, and are pumped for 2016.

So with that in mind, here’s my stab at the nine questions outlined in this article from USA Triathlon, which will allow me to more effectively evaluate the season and plan for next year:

1. In hindsight, were your season goals clear and attainable?
Did you achieve what you set out to do at the start of the year? Knowing what you know now could you have aimed higher, or were you somewhat unrealistic in your expectations of your time, commitments or the physical skills you needed to develop? Use hindsight as a barometer for thinking ahead to next year and create goals that push you and inspire you to go for it.

Hm…yes and no. Knowing in the back of my head that we might be starting a family this year — and having the timing of it up in the air — prevented me from being as specific as I would have liked with respect to my goals.

For example, when it came to “training smarter,” I talked about building an aerobic base using heart rate, continuing strength training and pre-hab to activate glutes, along with regular cross-training for flexibility and functional fitness. All great things, yes, but I should have made them measurable — e.g. hit a certain range for heart rate training or designate a number of days per week to focus on pre-hab, etc. — in order to be able to better track progress.

2. What were you most proud of this season?
Was it the improvement you saw in your swim, bike and run splits? Or your dedication and ability to balance your other responsibilities around the sport? How you overcame setbacks and still performed at a high level? Think of the big things and the little moments that you look back on with pride and delight in what you accomplished.

Although I’d love to claim a shiny new PR here, this just wasn’t the year for that. But I am most proud of the fact that I’ve been on top of my game when it came to cross-training in 2015. From kettlebell to barre, bootcamp to yoga, spin to kickboxing — you name it, I’ve tried it and had a blast challenging myself in the process.

3. What would you like to duplicate next year?
Perhaps it’s working with the same coach or training plan, continuing to do a variety of races and taking on big challenges that excite you and motivate you to train consistently. Of the things that you really enjoyed, what would you like to be sure you experience again?

The first half of next year will be interesting, to say the least, with Baby H making his or her entrance on the scene. But I think, at least at this point, I would like to try maintain some kind of consistency when it comes to working out to re-build my foundation — as well as weave a heavy mix of cross-training into my marathon training in the second half of the year.

Signing up for different classes this year kept me from falling prey to boredom, but I have a feeling that being committed to classes in 2016 will be more about holding me accountable when I’d much rather be cuddling a cute little baby…or catching up on sleep.

4. What frustrated or disappointed you the most this season?
Did you struggle to see consistent improvement in your speed? Fail to summon your determination when things got hard? Were you unable to overcome nagging injuries? What concerned you and took some of your energy away from the positive things?

Just like last year: injuries. Although my plantar fasciitis has cleared up, my SI joint has been plaguing me for two years now.

Pregnancy has caused it to flare up for different reasons, and I’m hoping some time off from running will help. But I know this will be a big goal for 2016: Finding the root cause of this SI trouble and addressing it so I when I’m able to train, it’ll be full speed ahead.

5. What do you not want to happen again next year?
Were you unprepared for some races and found you performed better in training than in racing? Did you take yourself and the sport too seriously, forgetting to have fun along the way? Look for insights from question four — things that you need to avoid in order to be at your best. Put emphasis and focus on things that you can control or influence.

Basically, a repeat of years past where I know there’s a lingering issue but don’t address it before proceeding with training. If it’s there now, it’s not going to go away as I push my body harder and harder.

6. What did you learn by going through these experiences?
We all have good and bad days (and races and seasons) but what you take away from them can make all the difference the next time around. Despite the challenges or painful times, what valuable lessons did you learn? What meaningful lessons can you take forward as you build on your experience as an athlete? How can you catch yourself from slipping backward the next time you hit a rough patch?

It’s not always about the PR, the epic race or going longer/further/faster. Some seasons are for that, yes, while others are more for taking time to regroup, reflect and refocus. And grow babies!

I’ve also learned to keep the bigger picture in mind (being pregnant definitely helped with this). Health and fitness is about playing the long game, and there are so many ways to honor your body and feel a sense of accomplishment, so it’s been rewarding getting to explore different parts of that.

7. What decisions did you make that were empowering for you?
Think about the conscious decisions you made about what you committed to or improved: your nutrition, getting support from a coach or community, your approach to training and recovery, how you managed your life around your workouts, the number or frequency of races, etc. What were some of the most important decisions of the year for you, both related to triathlon and other parts of your life where relevant? And therefore, what decisions must you make for next season to experience even more success?

Opting out of races, whether it was restraining my itchy trigger finger the day a race’s website opened for sign-ups or even bailing on a grueling century ride in poor weather conditions when I knew my body was in need of rest. I felt torn every time, but am happy in hindsight that I went with my gut in those situations.

Also, I’ve enjoyed dipping my toes into the waters of alternative and preventative medicine, be it chiropractic manipulations, acupuncture sessions, regular massage or prenatal movement classes. Not only have I learned a lot about my body through this kind of work, but it also feels great and helps to (hopefully) keep some of those injuries at bay.

8. What habits seemed to hold you back from achieving your potential?
We all have them. Recurring ways of behaving and thinking which sometimes we realize — even when we know it’s not in our best interest — and sometimes we don’t. What causes you to skip training sessions? What do you tend to say to yourself during a race or training session, or when the alarm goes off before sunrise? In which ways has your diet been limiting your body’s potential? Where have you procrastinated or not been as disciplined as you’d like to be? Be really honest and list the items that you must change in order to achieve your goals.

I probably sound like a broken record, but I need to quit ignoring my body when it’s trying to tell me something. I’ve learned time and time again that if something’s bugging me, putting my head down and trying to train through it is not going to make it go away.

So while I would like to make at least a goal or two that really pushes me in 2016, I won’t until I know that my body is strong enough and healed enough to handle it. I won’t let my enthusiasm for going after a new goal with my usual zeal get the best of me again!

9. What decisions should you make in order to have your best year ahead?
Building off your insights from all the previous questions, what will you continue to do, where do you need to get extra help, what will you stop doing? This is a critical step, take your time and identify the key decisions you need to make.

I know myself well, and that means I’ll be anxious to jump back into things as soon as possible after Baby H comes in March. But rather than leap-frogging to a crazy goal to get myself motivated, I know I’ve got to have the resolve to take baby steps in order to build a solid base.

I’ve got to be ok with a half-step forward instead of the alternative — going too quickly and having to take two steps backward — as I heal and get “my” body back. 

For example, starting up a marathon training program before I regain my post-baby continence (something I’m genuinely worried about after reading up on the subject and chatting with other mom runners) is probably not the best idea. It took 10 months for my body to make a baby, and I know it may take a while afterwards for it to figure out what the “new normal” is.

And, in the meantime, the most important thing for me to remember is to not put the cart before the horse. Or, in this case, the race before the runner!

Stay tuned for my 2016 S.M.A.R.T. goals…

What were your biggest lessons learned from 2015?