Fertility Smoothies

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If you have been in the TTC world long, you have probably heard about fertility smoothies.  For the longest time, I put it off, because it seemed so overwhelming.  And annoying to have to make a big old smoothie every day.

Well, a few months ago I joined a TTC accountability group and one of the first things the leader wanted us to do was to make a daily smoothie.  I finally took a deep breath and bit the bullet.  Lo and behold it wasn’t that complicated, and some (most!) of the smoothies tasted great!

fertility smoothies

Life happened and I stopped making them daily, but my goal is to get back to daily or at least every other day.

Fertility smoothies are a great way to infuse your body with foods and boosters that will aid fertility.  First of all, I want to talk a bit about some of the ingredients I’ve been using and how they relate to fertility.  Then I will include a few of the recipes I have tried.

  • Kale.  Kale is an amazing source of iron, calcium, vitamin C, folate, antioxidants, potassium, etc.  Kale can help alkalize your body, which is important in a culture where our diet is so acidic.
  • Spinach.  Spinach is another one that is full of antioxidants, iron, folate, zinc, and iron.
  • Celery.  This is another one that helps to alkalize your body.  Eating foods like this will help to balance your body’s pH.
  • Flaxseeds.  Rich in Omega-3!  Flaxseeds can help balance hormones as well as cleanse the colon.
  • Chia seeds.  Another great source of those necessary fatty acids.  Omega-3 can help balance hormones, increase cervical fluid, aid ovulation, and increase blood flow to the uterus.
  • Berries.  Again, lots of antioxidants.  Antioxidants are great for egg health, as well as keeping reproductive tissue healthy.

Those are just a few of the things you can include in your smoothies.  If you would like more ideas, I highly recommend Natural Fertility Info.  Here is a list of items you can include as well as a 10 Day Smoothie Challenge that they have put together.

So here are a few “recipes” that I have used.  Honestly, they aren’t even recipes.  I usually just look to see what I have in my refrigerator and freezer, and throw stuff in the blender.  Only a couple have turned out badly (don’t worry, I didn’t include those 😉 ).

2 cups kale
1/2 cup frozen dark cherries
1 small banana
1 tbsp flax seed
1 tbsp almond butter
water

2.5 large sprigs of kale
frozen dark cherries
1 medium banana
one big spoonful of almond butter
water

Almond milk
2 celery sticks
1 cup spinach
1 medium banana
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1.5 teaspoons chia seeds

There are lots of ideas on Pinterest as well for fertility smoothies.  It is a great way to get super foods and fertility-friendly foods into your day!

Enjoy!

Have you ever made a fertility smoothie?  What did you put in it?

-Bonnie

 

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Exercising and TTC

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When I was TTC our first baby, I was paranoid.  Every month, from ovulation on, I really took it easy on my body and I tried to not do any kind of lifting, heavy working, or strenuous exercise.

Well, then I got pregnant with my son (praise God!!) and I realized that my body isn’t quite as fragile as I was afraid it was.

Then I started studying to be a pre and post natal fitness specialist and I really realized that our bodies are not fragile!  We are intricately created beings with the capacity to move, bend, lift, and ideally to achieve and sustain pregnancy.

exercise TTC infertility

If you are TTC, I highly highly recommend some form of exercise.

  1. It is good for general health.  Heart health, muscle health, weight health, etc.  A lifestyle that moves is much healthier than a sedentary lifestyle.
  2. It is good for TTC.  A lot of physical problems that affect fertility can be relieved or sometimes cured from exercising.  Plus, the more toned and in shape you are now, the better your body will handle pregnancy and labor…and the faster you will be able to get your body back after pregnancy!
  3. It could reduce infertility problems.  One study showed that exercising 3-5 times a week can reduce a woman’s chance of ovulatory infertility by 25% or more.  Exercise also helps keep your androgen at healthy levels, which is necessary for proper fertility health.
  4. It is good for stress relief.   TTC can be an incredibly stressful process.  And stress can negatively impact fertility.  It can be a vicious cycle.  There are many studies that have shown the correlation between exercise and stress relief.

 

Try to work out three or more times a week for at least twenty minutes.  Push yourself so that you reach the point where you feel you are at a moderately hard level.  A general rule of thumb is to work out so that you can talk, but not sing.  It is important, whether you are TTC or not, to not over-train your body.  That can just lead to other health problems!  A good workout should leave you feeling good, not drained.

Watch your posture.  Make sure your body is in alignment, even when working out.

Watch your core.  The best explanation I have heard for this came from Lindsay Brin.  Pretend someone threw you a football and you caught it with your stomach.  Think of that “Hut” sound as you pull in your belly.

If you are just starting to work out, now (TTC) is not a good time to jump into some crazy intense workout.  It’s hard because you want to feel like you’re really DOING something that will help you get pregnant, but if you over train you could cause more problems.  Start gently.

Walking is a great way to start out.  Yes, you may not feel  like you are working out, but it is a fantastic way to get your body moving, build up some endurance, and to lower your stress!

Once you have more endurance, running is a great way to exercise.

Take a class at the gym or do some at-home DVD workouts.  Personally, cardio kickboxing is my favorite!

Make sure that your workout routines incorporate aerobics, strengthening, and stretching.

One thing that I didn’t know until recently was that exercise can and should change depending on where you are in your cycle.  Making Babies by Sami S. David, MD and Jill Blakeway, LAc recommends the following:

“Phase 1 (Menstruation)

  • Avoid strenuous aerobic exercise during your period.
  • Try workouts with a meditative bent, such as yoga, tai chi, or qi gong.

Phase 2 (Pre-ovulation)

  • Spend twenty to thirty minutes a day on aerobic exercise.

Phase 3 (Ovulation)

  • Exercise gently; try swimming, walking, yoga, or qi gong.  Avoid exercise that involves high impact, such as running or step aerobics.  Exercise gets the blood moving, which encourages good blood flow to the uterus, so it’s particularly beneficial around ovulation.

Phase 4 (Potential Implantation)

  • Get moderate exercise to keep the qi and blood moving after ovulation, when an embryo may be trying to implant, but avoid intensely aerobic exercise or high-impact exercise, such as jogging or trampolining (unless you are sure you are not pregnant).  Walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, and qi gong are all good choices.”

I have a working theory that everyone will love some kind of exercise.  If you hate working out, maybe try something different and you might just discover something you enjoy!  I hated working out (even though I knew it was good for me) until I discovered cardio kickboxing.  Now I actually enjoy it!

-Bonnie

31 Days ttc infertility

Society, Beauty, and the Myth of the Real Woman

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I have a beef with society’s concept of beauty.

I know that many people do and many people before me have blogged about it.

My take I feel is probably going to be somewhat unique.  And it might rub people the wrong way.  Bear with me.

Today’s culture is definitely putting a lot of pressure on women, teens, and tweens to look a certain way in order to be beautiful.  In order to be beautiful, you must be a certain height, have a certain bust size, and be thin.  I find this shameful.  Our daughters, and even ourselves, should not feel that kind of pressure.  Makeup, hair dye, cosmetic surgeries, eating disorders…..personally I think all of those are far too common.

But….that being said, I have a beef with society’s response to that push.  There is a vast movement of people (rightly) attempting to counteract the stereotypes and negativity.  Their campaigns run something like this, “Real women have curves.”  “Real women aren’t a size 0.”

My beef is two-fold.

First off is the use of “real women.”  In their attempt to not shame the average woman, they instead are shaming the real women who are thin.  There are real women who have skinny waists.  There are real women who have fast metabolisms.  There are real women who have small busts but their curves are no less gorgeous or sexy.

To use the term “real women” implies that the women who fit those labels are fake women.  False women.  I have seen so many blog posts or comments on social media in response to these fake women.  Accusations galore of eating disorders or photoshop or plastic surgeries.  Don’t get me wrong…eating disorders are a very serious reality for many people.  I do not at all mean to downplay that.  And I do recognize that a lot of these “perfect women” in the news are photoshopped or have had surgeries to achieve their “perfect bodies.”  But not all.

I have been ruminating on all of this for years.  I have always been thin.  I have been accused of having an eating disorder.  I have memories that are both awkward and painful because of what people have said (either directly to me or what people have said online to “my kind”).  I have had to overcome a lot of things in my personal life to accept that I am a real woman.  I have had to overcome a lot of feelings of shame about myself.  Some of it I am still working on.

God creates real women of all shapes and sizes.  So my first beef with society is that they limit real women to anyone greater than a size 6.

And now for my second beef with society.  And here I tread lightly, knowing this could be taken the wrong way.  Please know that I am not trying to be offensive.

I find it concerning that we have this big ban on saying anything about (whispers) overweight people.  I understand that bullying is a real and, unfortunately, not uncommon problem.  I understand that society is trying to correct the horrible trend of bullying.  But the answer is not to swing the opposite direction and jump on anyone who says anything about anyone being overweight.

There are some celebrities today that are plus size.  They receive a lot of accolades for accepting themselves the way they are and being a role model for the younger generations.  In some ways I totally agree.  I do not think that anyone should try to change themselves just to fit in with society.  It is hard to be different from the so-called perfect body size.  So I do applaud these celebrities.

But my question is this.  Is that really the kind of role model we want?  Do we really want to just unconditionally accept others or ourselves as overweight?

Again, in a way, yes.  Yes, we want our daughters to see people who are not bending to what culture says is hot.  We want role models who are women who aren’t afraid to embrace their talents because they aren’t what culture says is beautiful.

But, and again I tread lightly here…..being overweight is a problem.  Being overweight can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, sleep apnea, liver and kidney disease, and pregnancy problems.

It’s ironic that in our culture it’s ok to call a thin woman anorexic (because they aren’t real women, remember?)  but if someone is overweight or even dangerously close…the polite thing to do is say nothing.

To be fair, I know that there are many things other than over-eating that can cause a person to be overweight.  Sometimes medications for other health problems can cause someone to gain weight.  Some people just have big bone structure.  So I definitely would not want to narrow the discussion down to just diet.

But at the same time….to be honest, the polite thing to do is not to just keep silent.  Being overweight can have serious consequences.  So can being underweight.  Being underweight, having anorexia, over-eating and obesity all can be life threatening.  Why are we so worried about offending people that we would rather watch them slowly fade away or die of a heart attack than to just lovingly communicate?

I am not advocating that we just approach people and confront them about their weight.  That would be rude and highly offensive.

My suggestion is that rather than society talking about “real women” or what not….we should be talking about health.  The goal for every person should be health, not a specific number on the scale.  What is healthy for one woman may not be healthy for another woman.  Being underweight is not healthy.  Being overweight is not healthy.  What I think that all women (and men. and kids.) should be working toward is overall health.  Eating healthy.  Exercising.  Following good sleep patterns.

This post hits the nail on the head.  The goal is not to be skinny.  The goal is not to be large.  The goal is to be healthy.

-Bonnie

 

 

Diastasis Recti

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I had heard about diastasis recti before, but I was hoping to escape it during pregnancy.  Well….I didn’t.  Somewhere in my second trimester I discovered that when I sat up, my stomach formed a peak.

Diastasis recti is when the abdominal muscles separate.  Between 35 and 62% of women have diastasis recti.  It is very important to know if you have it and to take the steps to heal it, as this abdominal separation is closely linked with the pelvic floor muscles.  If you get those muscles out of whack, you will potentially encounter other problems, such as incontinence or organ prolapse.

It is possible to close this gap, though, even if you have had it for years.

One might think that the best way to close this gap is to just work out your abdominal muscles.  I thought sit-ups should be able to quickly close gap.  It turns out, sit-ups can actually be detrimental.  The key is to close the diastasis recti working the muscles from the inside out, not the outside in (which is what sit-ups do).  If you focus on the outer abdominals, it is possible to actually make the diastasis separation worse.

Here is a great video that explains more about what diastasis recti is, how to see if you have it, and some great exercises for closing it.  This is a great post with information and accompanying photos.

One of my favorite workouts has been Lindsay Brin’s postnatal boot camp.  She also has a YouTube channel, Moms Into Fitness, with some great workout videos with some specifically tailored for those with diastasis.

-Bonnie

Low Carb Eating: What I’ve Learned

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After about five months of eating low carb, I’ve learned a few things….

1) I learned how many carbs go into my body.  There’s nothing like having a low carb diet to shock you speechless when you look at the carb count on food you normally wouldn’t have given a second thought.  Or the time that my husband and I went out to eat…I consumed my usual low carb meal….his meal came to a total of about 150 carbs (can’t remember what all he had…burger, onion rings, soda?  Whatever it was it added up).  When we got home his blood sugar was perfectly normal!!!  How did he do that???  😉

For most people, a hamburger and onion rings are okay for the blood sugar.  And that’s fine.  But it was rather eye opening to realize how many carbohydrates I typically eat!

2) I learned self-control.  I learned how to walk through the grocery store and walk by all the delicious breads, pasta, cookies, egg rolls, ice cream, ______ (fill in the blank) that called out to me.  I learned how to scroll quickly through Facebook posts of people’s donuts.  I learned that I don’t need dessert sugar to fill a sugar craving.  (Fruit is seriously amazing!)  In short, I learned how to say no to myself.  I had never before had to say no to something that sounded good, so it was rather new to me.  It’s been good to learn and practice self-control over my body as one of the fruits of the Spirit.

3) I realized that healthy eating will look different for different people.  Most people when they talk about healthy eating or diets are all about calories.  Counting calories.  But calories aren’t what everyone needs to be concerned with.  I just found it fascinating to glimpse a whole new realm of health and taking care of your body through diet.

4)  I learned how to creatively ration.  At first I conscientiously avoided all sugar and all dessert.  Slowly I realized that when I keep my blood sugar level, it’s okay to sometimes have a couple bites of ice cream.  Or eat that higher carb piece of fruit.

Even after the baby is born and I will (probably) not have to worry about high blood sugar anymore, I definitely want to still be aware of our family’s carb intake.  I plan to still make a bunch of the low carb meals I’ve found.  But….I will also definitely be adding in things like pasta and bread (I’m ready for a plain old sandwich again!) to our meal plan!

While this diet definitely has been difficult and there have been many times where I felt like “there’s nothing to eat”, I really appreciate all the opportunities to learn and grow on so many levels.  Changes in health and changes in diet don’t have to be horrible and dreaded.

-Bonnie

On Asking the “Why?” Question

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Those of you who have read our blog for a while know about some medical issues I have been going through.  (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)  Last Friday I had my very last procedure done.  A couple days ago we got the results and I am so, so thankful to say that we and the doctors are now (finally!) satisfied that all things are normal in my body.

Praise the Lord!!

Sometimes I do wonder “why?” though.  Not the gut-wrenching kind of “Why?”.  But more of a…”Whew!  Now I wonder why that all happened?” type of why.  Why did God decide for us to go through these difficulties?  Why did I need to go through so many emotionally difficult and physically unpleasant procedures if it turned out to be nothing?  Why were The Pilot and I both pretty sure that I was pregnant back in May only to find out (the day before Mother’s Day!) that I was not?

Honestly….I don’t know why.  I don’t really understand.  But what I do see is all the ways that God taught me and changed me through it.

  1. It caused me to see the love and support of the body of Christ in a deeper way.  I was honestly overwhelmed by all of the comments and love from friends and even complete strangers after this post.  I didn’t expect to receive that kind of encouragement.  To know that some people were not judging me or telling me I was over-reacting, but were understanding my words and feelings meant so much.
  2. It taught me how to both rejoice and weep.  “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”  Romans 12:15.  This verse….is so amazing.  During this time I have been able to have my heart better in sync with others.  My heart has broken and I have cried real tears with family and friends (both in real life and in the blog world) who have gone through the severely difficult processes of infertility, infant loss, and miscarriage.  On the other hand, I have been called to put aside my own heartache, pain, and questions, in order to rejoice with others who announce pregnancies and welcome babies.  It is amazing how a time of trial and testing in my life has refined this one verse in my life.  Because of this, I am better able to minister to others!
  3. It taught me to know and understand more of the presence of God.  On one of my doctor trips, I was so nervous and just so, so ready for the appointments and visits to end.  I sat in the car, listening to “Blessings” by Laura Story and crying a bit.  Suddenly I was just overwhelmed by the fact that I was not alone.  When I set foot in that doctor’s office, I wouldn’t be by myself.  God was with me.  I was not going through that process in general, that visit specifically, by myself.  God is with me 100% and He already knows exactly what is going on inside my body.
  4. It taught me again that God truly is in control.  Even when I had no idea what or how or why….I could know beyond a shadow of a doubt that whatever was going on….would bring God glory.  From in the middle of that situation, I might have been confused or unsure or in pain…but God is above the situation and is carefully orchestrating it all.  It will bring God glory.   And it will be for my good.  Regardless of the outcome.  That was sooo comforting!
  5. It taught me the great value of a baby.  Pretty much everyone I have ever known or talked to agrees that a baby is a gift and a joy.  But going through this process really showed me the truth of that so much more.  God took something that for years I probably took for granted (in that I assumed that of course “someday” I would likely get married and we would have a baby) and showed me what a great treasure that really is.  He caused me to examine my motives for wanting to have a baby.  A dear friend of mine who has struggled with getting pregnant is one of the most joyful mothers I have ever met.  She is someone who knows that the time that she can spend with her daughter now is  a tremendous, tremendous gift from God.  After everything she has been through, she is truly a mother who doesn’t take her children for granted.  Even though the Pilot and I have yet to have a baby….I definitely appreciate how God showed me that.  When we do get pregnant (if the Lord wills!), I will not forget the years of not knowing if I would ever face that moment of seeing the positive pregnancy test.  I really think that going through this will make me a better mother.  I never want to take our children, their lives or their milestones, for granted.

Are these the answers to the “why” question?  I don’t know.  I don’t know what God’s reason/s was/were.  But I at least know that these were some of the results.  And I thank God for that!  I can’t wait to see the next chapter of our lives!

-Bonnie

PCOS Update

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Just wanted to make an addendum to my series of posts recently on PCOS.  As of right now, I do not have PCOS and have been cleared by all doctors.  At this point it looks like my doctor visits are over and I have great overall health.  Obviously we do not know what the future may hold as far as health, but whatever it is, I know that we can face it because God is directing it and He has taught us a lot over the past few years.

Thank you all again for your sweet comments on our blog, on Facebook, and in real life.  I can’t even believe how sweet and encouraging you all have been.  That means so much and I am so thankful for each of you!!

-Bonnie