Max is one week old

Ever since working with my first pregnant client,  I have observed how hard those first weeks postpartum can be for new mothers on a physical and emotional level. As such I had planned to not only document Max' growing up, but wanted to see how I felt week-to-week in those six weeks that are so crucial for healing but which are also without any support on the medical side and often any assistance on the logistical end if you live - like I do - in the US/ NYC without that proverbial village or your family close by. 

In comparison, women in Germany have access to a midwife that is assigned to them for six weeks to help them maneuver questions such as nursing, sleeping and self-care, whereas here, these services could probably be summed up in the work of postpartum doulas or babynurses who are difficult to afford especially as an entrepreneur that is taking a pay cut for the duration of their choosing, while recovering from childbirth. A friend in Germany who is in the same business as I am, was paid close to $2,000/ month for a full year of maternity leave. It makes me weep.

Anyway, I digress. We've made it to a week. Seven days ago, I was sitting in a hospital bed with an epidural in my back, had tracked some of my runners in the NYC Half Marathon and taken a nap. We even thought we'd watch a quick episode of "Call the midwife". But transition was fast approaching. I was on an IV of pitocin and they had broken my water... (*I can tell you my birth story in more frightening detail in person - I'll just focus on the positives here). Six hours later my doctor checked and it was time to push. 

I believe her exact words were: "I've only ever seen one woman push that child out in super fast pace of two contractions and she was an Olympic rower". Didn't she know who she was talking to? "Roma, this is not a competition..." Yeah, right. "I have to tell you that she tore BADLY!" Ok, maybe not two then. 

IMG_6335.jpg

Max came out 30 minutes later and he was perfect. Since then, he's taught me how to breastfeed him, we've passed the diaper test of soiling as many diapers per day as he is days old. He took a first sponge bath, gained an inch in length, met his pediatrician and managed to sleep through a friend's party as well as a few coffee outings. Some of my interactions with him feel incredibly intuitive, some others make me scratch my head. Like: how much can a little boy of 7.5 lbs possibly drink? 

As for my recovery, there are two things that hurt and are making moving around a little more difficult. One is the tearing that I couldn't avoid despite admitting defeat to the Olympic rower... The other is a self-inflicted (and self diagnosed) psoas strain, possibly from pushing. The latter occasionally robs me off breath and knocks the wind out of me. Both of them hurt laughing. Either will make it hard to resume running as a form of exercise in the foreseeable future. 

And you know what?

I.DON'T.CARE. I have just spent the most incredible week getting to know a person that we made. All we do at this point is dictated by his schedule and his needs. I have plans on the horizon and I have no doubts that I will get there. But how... that remains to be seen. 

One week in it is hard to believe that Chris and I were ever just the two of us. 

Despicable Carbs?

9102238750_bb36ec9269_b.jpg

I recently read this article about what athletes should eat in lieu of pasta and 5 yummy healthy things were listed. They provided antioxidants, essential oils, fiber and many other things. The thing they couldn't do is give athletes valuable energy that you need when you train for several hours each day. In this day and age where many people want to be fit and look young, many train hard and need to fuel their bodies to sustain energy and avoid turning their bodies against themselves. I know what I'm talking about as I have witnessed what can happen when you lose weight from all the training and feel like there is no amount of food to remedy that. Your blood sugar drops, general crankiness sets in and you are tired a lot. And if this continues for a long time, the body starts attacking itself. Some of the results are not necessarily visible immediately. It starts with less energy so the risk of injuries goes up, i.e. you are tired you become sloppy, you fall. Longer term issues can mean conditions such as osteoporosis, especially in women, which "only" becomes a problem when you're older.

So why is it that we condemn pasta (and rice and potatoes) so much? Do we fear weight gain? Or has the wellness industry put a stigma on them?

For some sports under close supervision of doctors, athletes carb-load. The shorter chain sugars are consumed to increase performance and give muscles essential energy during a half day or day of intense work. All energy bars, gels and drinks are essentially made from the same thing but somehow when we glue those to our handlebars it's less bad than eating a bowl of steaming (whole wheat?) pasta. A lot of Asian countries live on rice and in many African countries big portions of meals consist of maize (e.g. South African pap and Kenyan ugali) and people are for the most part slim.

I've told many people the very strict meal plan I used to be on before major events and it's no fun eating the same thing every day for approximately 10 days but boy was I happy that aside from healthy salads and lean protein there was a good pasta dish at the end of the day that ensured I would wake up refreshed. I am a no fun when I'm hungry, all the above mentioned symptoms kick in.

Where am I going with this? Back to YOU! Us as individuals.

Cake

With a gazillion options in what to eat and drink we have become less intuitive about what we need and enjoy. A healthy body will regulate the amounts of food too. There's a balance between full and hungry and the occasional indulgence is no big deal. So, listen to your body (the gut feeling- no pun intended) to be healthier, more frugal or if you eat more one day, balance it out with exercise the next day.

And in all of this remember that being a fit, healthy person is a state in which YOU lead a fulfilled enjoyable life. It should not be a chore.

I dare you to try it. Now go have a piece of chocolate.

xxR

5 Ways To Lead A Balanced Lifestyle

P1010117.jpg

Let's be honest. How many of us really lead a balanced lifestyle? What does balance actually mean?

My clients (and friends) often ask me this question and my first response is always that it can mean different things for different people and striving for that balance is an ongoing process. But there are a few things you can remind yourself of daily to make the process easier:

  1. Allow yourself to eat everything in moderation. We all know that starving ourselves or following every new diet neither makes us happy nor helps us maintain a healthy weight sustainably. Indulging in our favorite chocolate or savory treat now and again won't cause us to put on weight if it is an exception to our otherwise healthy lifestyle. I believe an 80/20 per cent rule ensures that we don't feel deprived.

  1. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you. Our lifestyles are often busy. Stress is the number one culprit that leads to issues with our weight, insomnia and adrenal fatigue and just makes us generally unhappy. Having good friends who help us maneuver through difficult situations, people to talk to and supportive partners, is key to dealing with the things life throws at us.

  1. Meditate. I have to remind myself to keep a regular meditation practice and when I do, it is so worth it. As much as meditation is introspective it also allows me to take a step back and assess situations more clearly with less emotional attachment. Keeping a journal for ideas that pop up during meditation has proven useful, too. Sometimes it's my most creative time of the day!

  1. Exercise or get moving. It is no secret, that physical exercise releases endorphins and a really good yoga class will leave you relaxed and ready to take on the world. I personally believe that if exercise is a part of your life that you enjoy and look forward to, rather than dreading it, it will lead you to making healthier food choices and other good decisions in our life. Just a stroll after dinner, now that the weather is warmer in the Northern hemisphere, has a calming effect and can keep you away from continuing to eat in front of the TV.

  1. Switch it off! Move away from your phone, laptop and television for a while. We are exposed to technology almost 24/7 so we need to make a conscious decision to stay away from social media and virtual communities to make room for enjoying the outdoors, having a meal in nice company without our phone on the table and allowing our other senses to kick in. When is the last time you've spent time sitting in the park watching your surrounding, listening to birds and smelling the flowers?