Saturday, July 23, 2016

Getting Fit And Healthy Again -- Some Reviews

Hi again! Sorry the Blogging is more sporadic these days. There are all sorts of reasons for that. But some of it is that I am just busy. Busy doing stuff around the house. AND busy making sure I’m getting my work outs done and healthy food planned for and made.

Which leads me to this post.
I’m kinda un-excited about sharing my photos. For numerous reasons. But I know photos help me when I’m looking into things. So I’m sharing them for your benefit. Not for like a “look at me” moment -- cause I cringe at that.
Befores / Afters
I’m assuming most of you reading this know me and my story, but in case you are just stopping by for the first time I’ll fill ya in on why this journey to health is such a big deal right now.

In October 2014 we found out we were expecting our third baby. I was super excited, and fairly certain I’d rock this pregnancy, as I was now an old hat at this stuff. My first two pregnancies were by the book, sensation wise. And my second pregnancy was very healthy, food and fitness wise. 
Well, life threw me a curve ball and gave me 42 weeks of relentless, hard, painful, nausea. For some reason, working out would increase my nausea level to unmanageable for the rest of that day. I threw up very little through the whole ordeal (although some days were epic ), but generally I felt like I lived a whole year of my life with a very, very debilitating intense flu. My body basically put me on bedrest, since I couldn’t physically function. Everything hurt and my brain started to break after enough time of that. One of the only things I could manage to eat was ice cream. (No, this was not just in my head -- I know because durning my second pregnancy I was able to swear off sugar and was STRICT about food.)

I gained 41 pounds. Which I didn’t think was too bad considering the whole situation. But my body felt like it was broken down and totally trashed by the end.
Last pregnancy photo-- taken in labor

So once the pregnancy was over, and I had my sweet baby, I thought I could just get back into gear and eat what I wanted, work out and you know have my life back.
Surprise. Not that easy. It actually took me a few weeks to un-nauseate. And then it took me months to feel safe about food -- as I had come to be emotionally traumatized by most foods, except things like ice cream. Post Traumatic Stress with food -- it’s a real thing. So initially I just gave myself a free pass on getting the baby weight off. I just wanted to make it back to “normal sensation me.”

Right about the time I was just getting into gear where I could think about losing the weight, my grandpa died, followed a few months later by my 30 year old brother. I wasn’t really expecting my grandpa’s death, but I was definitely not expecting my brother’s death and it was (is) a total shock to my system and so I went back to the ice cream bowl.

(Things like that are so hard to put into context, I’m not sure exactly what to say. But I feel it’s important to share it, for making everything make sense.)

After I gave myself enough time to grieve ice-cream style (I’m still very much grieving these days, but I was ready to give up that version of grief) I started to use a few different tools I had available to get back on track with my health.

Just because I feel like it should be said -- I didn’t purse healthiness for any other reason than I know it’s healthy. I know how it feels to be healthy, and how it feels to be very, very unhealthy. I wanted to pursue health, live as best as I know how, and honor the blessing it is to be able to be healthy. (I know it’s not always an option -- now that I’ve lived through all that, I don’t want to take it for granted at all!)

So anyway today I want to share those different tools I’ve used, and my thoughts on them with you , incase you find any of those helpful.

Also internet disclaimer: These results and circumstances are my own, and are not meant to promise anything, imply anything, or judge anything about anyone else at all. I’m just sharing to give you a frame of reference if you’d like to consider anything for yourself. As always: please be true to yourself, make your best choices inside your own circumstances.

So here goes --  a bunch of reviews of things...

In the middle of April I started using a workout program called MuTu System. (MuTu stands for Mummy Tummy. -- It’s creator is British -- they are mums there not moms. ;) ) 
(So now that I’ve mentioned that - -you should know listening to her is wonderful. She reminds me of Mary Poppins in the best possible way -- like having my own magically, sweet, calm, and capably in charge, person guide me through who just happens to have a beautiful voice.)

(Also, please note I get no money for sharing about this program -- I just am deeply impressed and grateful for it.)

Found this program because I wound up with a diastasis recti during my pregnancy. (That’s a separation in your outer abdominal muscles.) It’s a fairly common occurrence in pregnancy. But it’s something that really should be address in order to heal it correctly. I know I had one after my first pregnancy (I had a c-section, and in the surgery they actually need to give you one to allow room for the baby) and mine healed without a specific program back then -- but I feel pretty lucky in that regard, I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know I had one, and I could have messed stuff up without knowing it. I feel like a dodged a bullet back then. 

(If you are wondering if you have one, just google diastasis recti check and watch a couple youtubes and you’ll get it all figured out.)

Anyway, so this time around I knew more so I bought this program. When I started I had a separation of a 1 finger gap in some places, and up to a 3 finger gap in other places (Mine was worse above my belly button.) With it being a pretty deep indent in my belly button.
Just had the baby (July 2015) above.
June 9th, 2016 below.
July 23, 2016 Above

Now that I’ve completed the course:
Under my bellybutton has zero gap and feels rock solid between the muscles. (NOT saying I have rock hard abs -- I’m saying it’s like the ab division line has zero evident of separation between them there. I can’t push through the space.)
At my belly button I still have a finger width. (That’s the most normal place to deal with one -- hence mommas getting outty belly buttons at the end of pregnancy. So sometimes you just always have a tiny separation there.) But this is smaller than it started out, for sure.
And above my belly button in some places it’s totally closed, but not as solid between. OR I have about a finger, or like a half-a-finger width.
That’s a pretty big improvement over three fingers. And I’m going to keep up with the methods to keep it strong.

Now I REALLY want to hand it to MuTu’s creator, Wendy. She is VERY knowledgeable about the body. I’ve never done a program where I feel so certain that the creator is working off of a deep knowledge. She’s doing everything she’s doing because she gets exactly what a postpartum body has gone through and what it needs to regain “normal.”
Her stuff is designed to help heal. And it’s not just for a smaller belly via closing that gap. It’s also aimed at restoring the pelvic floor. Which is what’s amiss if you’re leaking after childbirth. The pelvic floor has weakened.
And this is WAY bigger, and much more effective than kegals. This is a deep holistic fix. More muscles than you’d think, play into this. She’s targeting it, but in a whole body way. It’s really pretty amazing the way it all works. My bladder wasn’t too bad off, but know I have more bladder control after this program. If you have issues in this area -- I’d not hesitate to point you to this program.
So yeah, while she did all that -- she also seriously toned my legs! It was a very unexpected bonus.

The coolest part is, it’s not very difficult. There is work involved. But she paces it SO WELL. I never felt like it was “hard” it just felt like I had to put in effort to make sure I did it.

I will say I think my results with her could have been even more impressive, because for the first two months, I didn’t have the wear-with-all yet to eat right. I lots maybe 5 pounds at most during that time (due to ice-cream relapses and the like.) But the amazing thing was, she was still shrinking my body way more than 5 pounds worth! I can’t really imagine how well it would have gone if I could have eaten better initially. 

Well after those two months were done, I felt really ready to commit to this stuff.
So I joined a beach body accountability group. I didn’t have enough emotional reserves to stop myself from stress eating, without back up. 
A friend of mine lost a lot of weight, did amazing things, and became a coach. So I reached out to her and joined her group.

This group has been the real key to my success. Without it I know I wouldn’t have stuck to what I REALLY wanted, and caved at the things I wanted in the moment. (Chocolate grief medicine/Momma-life-stress medicine. )

The group is set up like this: with the friend I know as our coach, and then a group of ladies I do not know, all on a private Facebook page. This recipe is SOO perfect for me. I don’t feel anonymous (because I actually KNOW the coach) but I also don’t know the ladies. Which for me is nice, because sometimes in other situations, I can get to taking on wrong-guilt if I do better than someone else does that week and it makes me want to quit.  But here, If I don’t know them, I am separated from that type of issue -- and I am free to be competitive, and do my actual best. It’s working really well for me.

We have different little assignments, goals, or check-ins each day to keep us on track. And every Monday I email my weight to my coach. That’s also magic -- because weekends had been what would un-do my efforts every time. If I know I have to report back in every Monday, I behave over the weekend. :) I really need that!

One thing we do is share our meal plans every week. This keeps us accountable to planning ahead and sticking to it. We don’t just plan out dinner. We plan out everything we will eat all week. That was a head-tilt moment for me. I was immediately impressed with how helpful that is. That was a game changer.

But one thing that really intimidated me was the family dinner planning. My kids have lots of food allergies. And also are really picky. I needed healthy food that was yummy. And I still really hadn’t gotten over the hump of the pregnancy’s leftover food weirdness. I wasn’t sure how to mix together everything I needed to mix to accomplish every goal. 
I was honestly considering hiring a nutritionist to help me figure everything out. But I wasn’t excited about the cost of that. And I wasn’t sure they’d fully grasp our every issue combined. They are each very unique in and of it self. Add them together and it’s a hard puzzle.

Enter "The Fresh 20".
I forgot that I had bought their Dairy Free Meal plan a couple years ago. I pulled it up and started to look it over. Low and behold, it was actually very easy to adjust to exclude ALL our allergens. And it sounded yummy. So I gave it a whirl.
I am thrilled!
If you have a reason to avoid Dairy and would like help planning your meals, I could not recommend this MORE. We have loved it. Well my pickiest still won’t try most of it. But that’s normal for her. My less picky has started eating some of it with us -- which is thrilling.
(To accommodate my pickiest, we also always have one food we know she will eat on the table. And hopefully someday she feel safe enough to branch out. This is advice found in a very helpful book for picky eaters. )

I’ve made this "Fresh 20" food for company, and every single thing I’ve made they asked for the recipe for -- it’s seriously delicious stuff. And it’s all very gourmet seeming. But easy to prepare. (This has cured me of the whole food-is-werid problem pregnancy gave me. I’ve literally been sighing and “mmm"-ing through these meals. I love loving food again -- all the better that it’s so healthy!) 
The Fresh 20 types out your grocery list for you and so it couldn’t be easier to shop. I just add our other needs to the bottom and hit the store.

The reason for their name is they plan the week so that you are just buying 20 fresh ingredients.

For us this is saving money because we had gotten to be such a mess grocery wise -- after my pregnancy where I didn’t know what I could eat from moment to moment, and the kids issues and trying to feed them while I couldn’t look at food -- it was crazy. So when adding a newborn to those habits (then grief), nothing changed. Our grocery shopping was happening like ALL the time -- and randomly without any plans.
So this is actually super beneficial in that regard.

If you’d like to look into this service (It’s not like Blue Apron -- they don’t send food to your house, they just provide menu plans.) you can see (and use) a sample week here. (It’s a “classic meal plan” and  “vegetarian meal plan.”)

The diary free plan we use, isn’t an annual subscription like their other plans, so it’s cheaper. Which is pretty cool. But then there are less recipes. But we like them so much, we like repeating them. For our plan there are 4 weeks planned out per season. (So you can shop what’s in season.)

If you’d like to buy a different plan they have a 25% off sale on the annual plans right now, if you use the bonus code SUMMER25. (I get zero dollars for sharing this with you -- I just really like this meal planning service -- it’s been a game changer for me.)

Ok so….also in the realm of foods I’ve been using Shakeology.
Now I gotta be honest with you -- there was a point in my life where I was certain I’d NEVER EVER buy shakeology. This stuff is expensive!
 And I used to be able to lose weight all under my own steam.
But -- like you saw -- my life’s circumstances are not screaming “super easy to lose weight right now.” So I’m using Shakeology, because in order to be in my Beach Body accountability group, I need to make a beach body purchase per month that I want to be in the group. (That’s how my coach get’s paid for what she does.) Yes, it’s kinda a pyramid scheme. Yes there are other ways to lose weight. But you know what -- at this point I DO NOT CARE. I just love getting all the physical and emotional support I can right now. This is working SO WELL for me. And it’s been really emotionally healing as well. It’s really nice to have emotional supporters in any regard right now -- this is therapeutic for me. So I’m thinking of my shakeology bill as a "personal trainer bill" that throws in a free meal shake. (If you feel like joining in you can buy some from this link to give me a tiny monetary kick back. I’d love that, but no pressure. If you are interested in the accountability group -- let me know and I can get you details.)

Also I will say, for us, and the mess we were in with our groceries and meals and the chaos that came with it prior to me joining this group, I still think we are saving money on the whole with all the changes we made -- even with paying for the pricey shakeology. So it just all depends on everything, if this is worth it for you. For me, right now, it’s a HUGE yes.

So ok--

Then, after I finished up my MuTu program, I “graduated" myself to PiYo about three weeks ago.

First let me say -- I am VERY glad I did MuTu first. My core absolutely needed that to start with. I could not have jumped right into this -- I would have damaged my muscles further. (And there are still a few moves I have to opt out of and do something different instead to keep my core healthy right now.) I also needed MuTu’s gradual acclimation to fitness before this program’s more rigorous pace.

But I am very much enjoying PiYo.

The first couple days I wasn’t sure about. The initial impression I got was this wasn’t very hard. But once we got going -- hooo-weee! Some of these workouts are INTENSE!
But the cool thing is, already just in three weeks I can really clearly see improvement in my abilities. My tricep-push-ups (while I’m sure are still hilarious looking) are so much better than they used to be. My legs burn so much less than they used to in the hard parts. It’s actually fun to experience that. 

I like Chalene. (The workout creator.) I like what she says while you are working out. It’s always encouraging. I don’t always like what workout people say during workouts. But I like what she says.
 (By the way MuTu lady doesn’t really say much of anything at all during hers. Per stage, she has an intro video where you get instructions, and then a separate workout one that has very little talking -- which I also appreciate.)
I’ve become aware that I don’t want my workout videos implanting subtle messed-up-stuff in my kid’s heads while they see me workout. (Like if the instructor is saying stuff like: “Do this to fit in your bikini.”) I want my kids to think of working out as strength, and enjoyment; not like a punishment or a looks-oriented-ordeal.
But Chalene basically just says kind stuff to you. Like: “You look great doing that” “You’re awesome.” 
“Smile, you have so much to be grateful for.” “You can do this, this is making you so strong.”

The best part is, I honestly need to hear positive things right now. And I’ve been so interested in experiencing hearing them while I am physically open and expending myself -- there’s no barrier in front of my heart when I’m working that hard -- so when she says those sweet things I don’t have a choice -- I believe her. They almost always make me tear up. My grief ridden heart is so blessed it can’t handle it.
(There is one workout where I’m not sure what she says is ideal for my kids ears -- but it’s not horrible either. Here’s what it is --
So --There is a killer hard workout, and during a part where you just can’t stand it anymore she says “The best revenge on anyone is being in awesome shape. Who do you want revenge on?” And honestly in the moment you might need that to power through THAT burn, cause it’s HARD. So yeah not ideal role model words, but it doesn’t deeply offend me or my sensibilities. But I'll maybe keep that workout to bedtime? (It’s ‘Buns’ if you are curious.))
But overall I’ve been really appreciating her words and the feeling of this workout.

I’ve also been really happy I’m doing this right now. I didn’t think I had it in me. AT ALL. But I’m finding so much comfort in the endorphin release and the help inside that. And when I have a bad day, it’s really nice to come back to a workout and see improvement -- it’s a boost for sure.

So that’s what I’ve been doing.

In theses After photos I’ve done 12 weeks of Mutu, 3 weeks of Piyo, and a month and a half of healthy eating combined with Shakeology.

Befores (A year ago):

Below are pictures of me on June 9th when I very first started my accountability group. And pictures of me today. I lost 15 pounds of “baby” in these photos.  (41 pounds since giving birth.) And I’m very happy about it!

Befores and Afters:

(The white waist band is rolled down initially because of the scary muffin top affect it was having then. It’s not rolled down anymore in the afters!)
(Still not the most flattering shorts though! You should feel loved, for getting to see them on me!)

Before /After

Top is Before, Bottom is After

Top is Before, Bottom is After

Before /After

I’ve gotten the pregnancy weight off now. I’m going to stick with the group a bit and really just focus on health and continuing fitness, and maintaining my mental place with this. I don’t want to fall back into the ice cream bucket. (Not that I’m never going to eat ice cream again. That’s not what I mean.) I just really truley do like feeling this way. (Meaning healthy. Walking around right now, physically feels SO MUCH BETTER than it used to.) And don’t want to forget when my grief roars. It’s really nice to have a understanding group to lean on.
Maybe I’ll have some more After photos for you in a bit. Piyo (while you can do it for as long as you like) is set to last two months. So I’m not done yet. 
But either way, I want workouts to just be part of life -- it’s better that way.


  1. You are looking awesome!! What a great job you have been doing to regain your health :-) Thank you so much for sharing-- I have a very similar build to you but I really really struggle with motivation and accountability as far as exercise goes. My husband's dietary restrictions and me not wanting to cook multiple meals help me eat pretty healthy mostly, but working out has never happened consistently. I am watching for ideas once I hit post-partum and am healed up enough to work out. This is so encouraging for me!

    1. Aw Thanks Yvonne! Hope I pointed you in a good direction. Let me know if you have any questions later (or sooner than later, about other stuff) and I’ll do my best to help ya out! :)

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  3. I have been MIA for months but I am very happy to read this and may be checking out some of those links. I think my baby is a tad younger than yours (she will be one on the 23rd) and I have just finally lost the baby weight. I need to work on being healthy and setting a good role model for her, so I like what you had to say about the Piyo videos. Thank you for sharing and congrats on your improved health :)

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