I’ve been meaning to write for awhile now, and it seemed like having a Birthday was just as good as any excuse to do it. Summers fly by – and we have had a good time running around outside, hiking the Fells, discovering Sandy Beach, playing with friends, visiting Florida and our family – so it’s no surprise, that when the weather starts to slowly cool down, and our fall schedules begin to form, that August typically hits like a ton of bricks.
The month no sooner begins and we’re unpacking our bags from a typically 31-hour-long voyage and re-settling into our home and rhythm after a month away. Our kids – who were staying up waaaaay past their bedtimes in Florida – started going to bed at 7:30 – 8 p.m. simultaneously. After 20 months of Isaac’s life – with crazy bedtimes, butt patting, and overall sleep (or lack there of) insanity – Mike and I have begun to cuddle up next to one another and watch Parenthood (OMG. So. Good. Almost too good.) I have felt that this month specifically, we have hit some unforeseen sweet-spot in our parenting continuum where somehow everyone’s needs are happily, and easily, met – and as such, of course, all I want is another baby.
And that is definitely the feeling that I am ending on this year – a mountain-top-high – but it has certainly come from striving to cross a perpetual bump I couldn’t quite hurdle over. I wanted to share the top four things I learned and to reflect on what God has ultimately done in my life these last 12 months.
- Whole 30 and Working Out
I cannot understate how big of a deal it is for me to eat well and to exercise. Before I got pregnant with Marin, I was at my unhealthiest point in life – I had gained a lot of weight and in hindsight, am pretty certain that I was depressed when we were first married and living in Atlanta. I felt completely isolated from my Florida friendships, I ate ice cream in bed all day, our apartment was a complete mess, and if I so much as went outside, Mike would praise me as if I had performed a miracle. I had been let go from my job, (it felt like) my husband was always at school (because he kinda was), and I just remember feeling so incredibly sad and lonely. After he graduated, we went to Clearwater to stay with my in-laws for a month, then that June headed to Boston for 6 weeks to find jobs and move here. I started doing Weight Watchers, and by November, when I got pregnant with Marin, I had lost about 35 pounds. I was feeling like I had taken control of an area of my life that had become completely out of control and it mirrored the other aspects of my life at that time. What I didn’t realize then was that my health had less to do with weight gain and more to do with feeding myself foods that didn’t feed my body and its needs well.
Being sad and sick continually – to the point of always having some type of indigestion medicine in my purse at all times – weren’t the only ‘problems’ I wasn’t managing well. From living on a hilly college campus, and walking it daily, to suddenly being at a desk job and then in bed jobless, my body physically got weaker and weaker. Up until my 24th year, I felt utterly invincible – and I mean that wholeheartedly – until one day, I pulled ~ 60 lb cart of groceries off the T while 8 months pregnant. When I seriously injured my hip with Marin – to the point that I could not walk up hills, walk up stairs more than once a day, or walk further than to the bus stop in front of our home – I was utterly terrified. In hindsight, I should have been probably more scared than I was, and in looking back, it was the first time I went into a situation knowing that a ‘quick fix’ wasn’t possible or promised. After months of postpartum physical therapy and trigger point injections, my right side felt 95% ‘normal’, but still weaker than my left.
So after Isaac, when I had worked out regularly before he was born, and eaten healthier and healthier by eating full fats and protein, I am not surprised that my first and third trimester and delivery was easier. What I didn’t see coming was how hard his arrival affected me emotionally. In the middle of what was hands down the worst winter Boston has ever had, the transition to two kids hit hard. We were stuck inside, except for what-felt-like-hell-getting-to WellCare visits and our weekly playgroup. On top of that, I felt like I was trapped in a concoction of raging hormones and lack of sleep. As someone who certainly thrives in the company of others, and who needs a lot of sleep, suddenly being landlocked to our apartment, and not having the option to get out of it without someone in tears felt debilitating for me. As the snow melted, and the seasons changed, Isaac grew and Marin adjusted, and I wholeheartedly expected for me to grow and adjust too. It didn’t really happen. Isaac struggled to go down for other sitters and the feeling of being trapped was maintained. By September, I was still feeling a ton of anxiety and was ready to try a Whole30 – I’d been itching to do one for a couple of years.
I had tried once before when Marin was a baby, quit on Day 4, and had always felt guilty about it. This time I did it (with the help of Mike, who did it along with me for my birthday last year) – cut out legumes, grains, dairy, soy, sweeteners (including honey) and basically, anything but fruit, meat, fish, vegetables, and a whole lot of coconut milk in my coffee – for 30 days. My initial desire to lose weight shifted into a desire to be well. My anxiety became considerably more manageable and I felt like my brain could think clearly and logically again. Physically, my face was way less puffy, my skin quit breaking out (in all the places I’d typically blame on my cycle), I had way more energy and needed less sleep than ever before. By the time it was over, I was utterly convinced that everything Melissa Hartwig preached was inarguable fact and that inflammatory foods did play a considerable part in the poor health-related – physical or emotional – side effects that I’d experienced. (And I am convinced that everyone, especially those with chronic pain whether physical or emotional, should begin treatment (whenever possible) by looking at their diet too).
Now 11 months later, when on vacation or out for a meal, I am way less than Whole30, but otherwise, I eat pretty consistently Whole 30-ish at home (or I apply its guidelines for making successful choices in line with what foods that do feed my body well). I have found that having this piece in my own health journey’s puzzle to be incredibly useful when it comes to treating symptoms, avoiding sickness, or working towards a health goal. (For instance, heading into another long, grey winter, and knowing full well that it will be hard for me emotionally, I am trying to lay the ground work to be successful now). I think everyone should try the Whole30, not to do for their whole life (I certainly don’t and either do its creators!), but as a health experiment, and even opportunity, to become in-tune with the body you use and need everyday.