My Final T25 Results

fitness

Yes! I did it! (Or nailed it! as my fellow Shaun T fans would say.) After four months I have completed the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Gamma Hybrid rounds of Focus T25. I am now 6 months postpartum and feeling very fit. Husband and I have now done Insanity twice, the Asylum twice and completed T25…do we get some sort of medal for that? I mean, it’s a serious accomplishment.

6 weeks postpartum vs. 6 months postpartum
6 weeks postpartum vs. 6 months postpartum

I love my results from T25. I am stronger , my muscles are more defined, my endurance is way better and I feel good. After a couple of months of T25 we added an extra 5 minutes to our workouts. Shaun T posts an extra 5 minutes to his Facebook everyday and being the loyal followers we are, we do them diligently. I’m also still getting at least 10,000 steps a day (thanks Fitbit!). The more I do, the better I feel and the better I feel the more I want to do. Getting back in to shape has encouraged me to eat healthier, be more active and definitely helps keep my anxiety at bay.

before and after Focus T25!
before and after Focus T25!

Event though I am happy with how I look and love my new muscles, getting back into shape has become so much more than improving my appearance. Being fit involves the health of my body, my mind and my soul. When I began T25 I was 6 weeks postpartum and far from healthy. My blood pressure and hormones have been WAY out of whack since giving birth. I was still suffering with anxiety and panic attacks. Even though I exercised through my entire pregnancy, I had managed to become very weak and lost lots of muscle mass during my hospital stay and recovery. Starting T25 was very difficult. I mostly stuck to the modifications. I felt sick some days. I had trouble catching my breath. I was disappointed in my abilities and knew I had a long road ahead of me.

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Throughout the 4 month program I watched myself grow stronger each week. After a couple of weeks I didn’t need the modifications any longer. After the first month I could complete every move and cardio sequence. Every week got better, and I became happier and more confident as each month passed. Now, I look forward to my workouts. I love being pushed to my limits. I love my body, stretch marks and all, because I love how strong it is. I have been healing my mind, body and soul all along.

Go me!
Go me!

Next on our list? P90X3. We start today and I am excited, but a little apprehensive. I’ve been with Shaun T for sooo long, not sure how I’m going to handle Tony from P90x… stay tuned for my review and results!

exercise

Cheers!

Moments of Gratitude

thankful

Do you ever have those moments of gratefulness overcome you? Moments when you think, is this really happening? Am I really this lucky? I love those moments. I get hit by them randomly, like when I grocery shop. Sometimes, I reach for something stupidly overpriced like organic kale or look at my full cart of food that I chose in the checkout line and am immediately overwhelmed at how fortunate I am. There are so many people in our world who will never get to do something as simple as grocery shop and get everything that they need.

I get lost in these moments. It hits me at all different times, when Luna laughs, when the dog fits perfectly in the nook behind my knees and sleeps with her head on my thighs, when Husband reads to Luna or makes me coffee or when I sit in a hot bath reading my Nook. All of a sudden I realize I have so much to be grateful for and I try to take a mental picture of that moment and file it under the “don’t forget this!” tab in my brain. I need these memories saved and easily accessed for those rainy days when I think life is one big pile of stink.

I had one of these moments of gratitude while riding bikes during our recent trip to Hilton Head. We were almost done with a 16 mile bike ride and I began thinking about a trip we took to Target just two weeks after having Luna. I was so weak and sick from the blood pressure issues and the drugs the doctors had me taking that I had to use one of those motorized wheelchairs to get around the store, and even that was a struggle. I remember getting tears in my eyes because I couldn’t help, but think “will this ever get any better”. Logically, I knew that I would/should, but under the influence of hormones, anxiety and feeling like crap I really wasn’t sure I’d ever be back to myself again.

hhi

Fast forward 6 months and I’m on a beach in Hilton Head with lots of family, doing yoga in the morning, taking a 16 mile bike ride in the afternoon, swimming in between and feeling healthy and extremely happy. I realized how much has changed in 6 months and thought I cannot forget this feeling.

bike ride

Then, I look at my Dad.

He was on bicycle in front of me. He had brain surgery to remove a tumor just 4 months ago. He is not only enjoying the beach with me, but he is also on this long bike ride. The realization of where we are and the strides we have made brought tears to my eyes. We are very very fortunate.

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I hope to never forget that grateful feeling I felt on the bicycle ride. I hope I’m able to remember it next time I wonder if things will ever get any better because they do. Things get better. They won’t always be the same… the truth is I’ll never be the same I was before I had Luna. No, I’ve definitely changed, but for the better. In fact, since having Luna I have many more moments of gratitude. I’m more aware of what I have to lose and what really matters, which is just making life more pleasant. Today, I am thankful.

Thankful Luna got to spend so much quality time with her PawPaw
Thankful Luna got to spend so much quality time with her PawPaw

Cheers.

My Post-Traumatic Postpartum Life

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Luna is about 5 1/2 months old now and it’s already hard to imagine life without her. What did I use to talk about? What does a full night of sleep feel like? Where did all the time go? It’s crazy how life can change so much, yet feel so complete and normal at the same time. I think it’s clear that I am really enjoying my life with Luna and everything she brings to the table. She has been perfect. I, on the other hand, have not fully healed. I’m almost 6 months postpartum, and I still feel like a stranger in my body.

Luna’s birth was not exactly ideal, the long road home was certainly no fun and now, the recovery, is much slower than I imagined. My physical body is good. Sure, I’ve got a few stretch marks and my belly button may be forever misshapen, but that’s nothing. I love my body and I’m proud of its abilities and strengths. It’s kind of amazing. It’s my mind and health that are still on the mend.

it's all about perspective
it’s all about perspective

Thanks to medication, my blood pressure is under control, but hopefully it will even out without meds soon…only time will tell. It sucks to be on medication and have to deal with ongoing doctor appointments, blood pressure monitoring, side effects, etc, but I know it could be worse. I am truly grateful to be where I am today and I can handle this challenge I’ve been given. It’s a lot more challenging than my new body, but I like challenges. They define us, right? Or, I guess the way we respond defines us, and I’m hoping to create a strong definition for myself. The biggest challenge, the one I don’t handle so well is the post-traumatic stress.

The first few weeks after Luna’s arrival were the toughest. Once, I stopped blacking out, gained some strength and realized I’d survive I began living life again. The worst was behind me, but I didn’t realize the tough road that lay ahead. I still have nightmares. I will dream that someone is taking my vitals in the middle of the night, I’m having heart attacks or something is keeping me from being with Luna and I wake up in a hot sweat and tears. Sometimes just getting to sleep is a struggle, which is odd considering it’s what I want most during the day. My mind races, as does my pulse and I get lost in “what if’s” that leave me wide awake and searching for anything to distract me from my negative thoughts.

Little things take me back. A hospital scene on a TV drama, a friend’s Facebook picture, the song that played during Luna’s birth or just passing my doctor’s office can send me right back to that dark hospital room. The flashbacks are as real and scary as the nightmares. They bring tears to my eyes and a lot of anxiety. I hate them. I hate that the memories of Luna’s birth bring so much anxiety and fear. I hate that our birth experience was so traumatic. I hate it for all of us.

It all feels so fresh. I get headaches from the tension I hold all day. I feel alone often, and when I forget how grateful I am I’ll let bitterness sneak in and make me question, “why me?” Why do I have to take so long to heal? Why can’t I pop out kids and hit the ground running like so many other women? Why do I have to deal with the not-fun-at-all side effects of blood pressure medicine at the age of 29? It’s dangerous to think this way.

It get’s a little easier at time goes on and I’m learning to talk about it more, which helps. I’m lucky and it could be worse, a lot worse, but that fact doesn’t take away the very real fears and anxieties I felt in that hospital. It doesn’t stop an anxiety attack when I lie in bed at night and flashback to the hospital bed where I thought I would never leave. It’s very real and if you have ever suffered from anxiety or panic attacks don’t feel guilty for your very real struggles. The more I heal the more I know it’s okay to cry, to let it all out and to break sometimes. It’s then that we see all the different pieces that make us whole. It takes time to put those pieces back together, but when you understand each piece and how it fits into the other, you understand what makes you whole and what makes you strong.

That’s where I am now. 5 1/2 months in and I’m putting myself back together again. Everyday I feel a little more whole and a lot stronger. I don’t know if or when these flashbacks and nightmares will end, but I’m facing them one day at a time. I hope you do the same.

Cheers

Why am I Blogging?

I took a break from blogging this last few days because I needed some time to step back and reflect on not only what I’ve been writing for the past few years, but where I want the writing to go in the future. I began blogging to keep in touch with family and friends while traveling overseas, and continued blogging because I not only enjoyed it, but it became very therapeutic and a much needed creative outlet. It’s true that writing benefits my soul and my need to “let it all out”, but I’ve learned that it does so much more. I’ve been able to make connections with people from around the world, find new friends and reconnect with old friends. It’s grown and I’ve grown right along with it.

Enjoying the beaches of southern Albania, where my blogging all began!
Enjoying the beaches of southern Albania, where my blogging all began!

Positively Panicked actually began as Adventures of a Teacher. My blogged centered around teaching and traveling in Europe for year, and I thought it would end there. Then, I moved to New York and decided to continue sharing my new adventures. Soon after, I created Positively Panicked as an outlet for my anxiety with a hope that I could reach out and relate to people with similar issues. However, a lot happened over the last three years and I began blogging about weddings, life in the city, reviews, giveaways, marriage, moving, buying a home and of course, having a baby. When I look back over my post it reads like a diary or a blog-themed reality show. Honestly, it’s a hot mess of ideas, stories and the misadventures of me.

A whirlwind of coming back to the states, going to Disney, getting engaged and moving to NY!
A whirlwind of coming back to the states, going to Disney, getting engaged and moving to NY!

The one theme that has remained is positivity. I try my best to be a positive person. Whether I’m chasing after a missed train in Italy, losing luggage in New York, crying in the doctor’s office, freaking out over seating charts, creating elementary curriculums, learning to live in the country or losing sleep because of a newborn; I have tried to find the silver lining or the light at the end of the tunnel and I owe that to this blog. I am definitely not always positive. My life has some really crappy moments like everyone else’s, but when I decide to write and share these moments with you I begin to look at those crappy experiences differently. As I write, I learn to find the good.

Trying to find our way in Stockholm.
Trying to find our way in Stockholm.

There are many days that I wake up wanting to do nothing. Sometimes (okay, lots of times) sleeping late, staying in my pj’s, ignoring my phone and binging on Netflix and frozen pizza is what I want most. Sometimes I give into these lazy days of indulgence because we all need a good pajama day, but most days I choose to find an adventure. I choose to get out, to live, to meet people, to face my anxiety, to jump off that cliff, run across the train tracks, buy that one way ticket, attempt to cook, attend that party and everything else. It all began because I needed something to write about. I needed stories to share, so I went out and found a story, and now? Now, it’s a beautiful habit. Now, I know I’ll be more than happy that I got out and faced some fear. Now, it’s easier to see the positive side of life. Now, I hope to encourage some of you.

Just "monkeying around" in Costa Rica
Just “monkeying around” in Costa Rica

Don’t let fear rule your life. It’s so easy to stay home, to make excuses and dwell on everything wrong in life, but why settle for easy? Challenge yourself to find daily adventure. Quit putting off that getaway, that coffee with a long-lost friend, that sewing project or that overdue doctor appointment. Look at it like a new adventure and search for that silver lining. It’s not always easy, in fact, it’s often a huge challenge, but that’s what makes life worth living. Some days you’ll fail and settle for a pajama day, but other days you’ll jump and you’ll wonder what you were ever so afraid of, and you’ll learn a lot about yourself and a strength you never knew you had.

Meeting Luna
Meeting Luna

That’s where I want my blog to focus. I will be sharing my adventures (the good, the bad and the scary), writing about the times I succeed and the many times I fail while searching for the good in it all. I hope you join me for the ride!

Cheers!

A Recent Panic Attack

Every since having Luna (remember that whole traumatic experience?) I have been battling high blood pressure and anxiety. The anxiety was expected. I’ve always had very high anxiety, so I just assumed it would be a little extreme after having a baby, with all the crazy hormones and whatnot. I did not ever think I’d be in the hospital for 10 days, be put on tons of medication and end up seeing a hypertension specialist at Vanderbilt. Since coming home with Luna, and a new list of prescriptions, I have  started (been ordered to) take my blood pressure daily.

For the first couple of months it was very low, like “my body only moves in slow-motion” low. The doctor cut my meds down and it stayed on the lower side so my meds got cut back again. (Woo!) About a week after cutting out one pill my blood pressure shot up. It was through the roof all night, and it sent me into a panic. And, in case you weren’t sure, having a panic attack isn’t a good companion for high blood pressure, nope not one bit.

My doctor is very cool, straight-forward and blunt. I called him late at night (bet he regrets giving me his cell number now) and tried in my calmest voice to say “Oh hey, so my blood pressure is high and also I am freaking out a little, okay a lot. Should I be worried about dying?” My doctor basically said, “Stop it. You’re fine. Take your medicine and chill out.” He so does not get “anxiety” or “panic attacks”. Anytime I mention it he just says, “Why? I don’t understand. You’ll live to be a 100. Calm down.”

His inability to relate or understand is somehow very calming to me. That night, I managed to go to sleep, but anxiety took over the next day. I don’t know what it is about health problems, but anytime something comes up with my health I completely meltdown. I kid you not, but for 2 straight days last weeks I was incapable of almost anything. I physically and mentally shutdown. I could not write, get dressed, run errands, clean, eat…nothing. I hate admitting this because it sounds lazy and selfish. It’s all so dramatic, but I truly can’t help it.

know that the more I do, the better I feel. I know how to take deep breaths, think positive and do all of that crap, but nothing would work. Whenever I panic, like for real panic, it seems impossible to reverse the effects. My mind was consumed with images of my funeral, with thoughts of Luna being raised without me and a constant stream of negativity. It’s awful and weird to admit these fears that reveal themselves during an anxiety attack, but they’re real for me. I don’t think I went half an hour without breaking down in tears for those two days.

I could feel myself sinking. As I got lower, everything good in life seemed further away. Husband, Luna, my life…they were all just above the surface as I struggled to keep my head above the water. By day two, I could see a little light. I could see the stress on Husband’s face when I broke down, and I knew I had to start taking steps. I remembered two very important words of advice at this point.

The first is a quote from my Grandmother’s journal.

I’m convinced that I will never be without problems of all sorts, but still I must never see the dark pit again. Only an idiot is continually happy, joyous and has no problems; but stupidity is another thing. A stupid person hangs onto that first step and enjoys all that muck he is in. Boy, this second step feels better all the time.

The second is something my Mom told me after having Luna.

Focus on the small victories.

I took their wise words and consciously made an effort to start climbing up that ladder and focusing on my little accomplishments. I forced myself to stop the negative thoughts. They still came, but each time they did I replaced them with something positive…like Luna’s face, dancing, good music, a smoothie, and yoga. I then took action. I forced myself to exercise (hallelujah, does that help!), I only talked about happy things, I hugged and kissed Husband A LOT and before long I actually began believing the positivity.

It wasn’t instant, but I was coming to life again. By the end of the week I was back to my regular kind-of-anxious self. By the time I went to my specialist this week I could actually laugh about my freak out and talk to him without crying. My health still isn’t where I want it to be, which is disappointing, but it’s not horrible either. I’m mostly healthy. I’m happy. I’ll most likely make a full recovery, but if I don’t that’s okay too. That’s why we have doctors and drugs, right? I think my doctor is probably right…I will live to be 100.

Cheers!

New Friend Friday: Meet Dina!

Today, I get to introduce you to a former coworker/friend of mine! Her name is Dina and her blog is My Un-Entitled Life. We met 6 years ago while teaching 2nd grade together. We bonded over student disciplinary problems and our principal’s unrealistic expectations. She was a great teacher to work with (hilarious), but she has also been a stay-at-home Mom, ran her own website, been an expert in cloth diapering (I have so much to learn!) and is a great blogger.

She wrote a piece for us all about living with anxiety, because well..isn’t it obvious? Check out her thoughts on parenting with anxiety…

Dina and her adorable daughter
Dina and her adorable daughter

When you are an anxious person anxiety is just a part of life. It makes you who you are and you just have to deal with it and manage it daily. But make no mistake it affects every decision you make with your children. As a mom of 3 I’ve learned a lot about managing anxiety where my kids are concerned. It’s not easy but it can be done. Here’s some ways that anxiety affects my decision making process with children and how I’ve learned to manage it.

We were young. Just a mere 29 with a toddler and we were looking to purchase a new to us home. We looked at lots of houses. Probably about 60 which if you’re a real estate agent you know that is a LOT. See the problem is I can find fault with each and every house that I looked at when using my parenting eyes. This one has a pool so my child can drown so it’s out. This one sits too close to the interstate so if someone was to snatch my child they’d be out of here before even I knew it. And the list goes on and on. Thank goodness for my hubby’s level head. But even with all the what ifs that run through my head we finally were able to make a decision that we could both agree on. Yes. House bought let’s move on with our life.

Then my oldest started school while I was pregnant with my second. I always thought I would homeschool my child. But he so desired to go to school. So after much anguish and deliberation I enrolled him in public school thinking that would be ok and if it didn’t work out I could pull him out later. We had 1 year out of 4 at this school that was a good year. The other 3 years drove me and my son insane. Finally one of his teachers sat me down and said look at his scores. He’s smart. He’s bored. So after a year from heck we decided to let him test to be in a magnet school. He got in with flying colors and had a really hard first year in. More agonizing ensured. But then it got better and he’s now a junior in high school and simply flying now.

My second son started school at the same magnet school. There were constant problems and I was always trying to figure out what was going on. I had a sleep study done because he was so angry. He had a compulsive need to finish any sentence he started. He couldn’t help himself. After dealing with this for 5 years we finally got a diagnosis. He has ADD. He’s on meds and is doing so well now. I’m so proud of all he’s overcome. He’s a rock star in my eyes. But it was not an easy process on an anxious mama to get him here. There was much hand twisting as I tried mostly on my own to figure out what was going on. The teachers missed all the signs too. He’s not the typical ADD kid but maybe none of them are typical. Being a parent is the hardest job. But it’s so worthwhile. Managing my anxiety now takes on different forms then it used too. I am able to make it work though. It helps to have a hubby who doesn’t have this problem. He makes sound decisions in a snap and probably often looks at me in wonder as I agonize over the smallest decisions. Parenting is a team process and that is a management tool in and of itself. If you are about to become a parent never fear that you will not be good enough. You will be. You just have to keep telling your anxious self that!

Thank you so much Dina for sharing with us! Everyone be sure to see what else Dina has to say on life with 3 kids, frugal living, crafts, reviews and much more!

Cheers!

My Postnatal Eating Plan

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I spent way too much time in high school dieting (i.e. starving myself) to “diet” as an adult. Truth is, I grew up and learned how unhealthy I was as a teenager (skinny does not equal healthy) and learned that eating real and healthy food is much better than no food at all. I began eating less fried food and adding way more fruits and veggies to my diet. Then, around 6 years ago I decided to become a vegetarian. Although, a year ago I started eating seafood again. The technical term for that is “pescatarian”, but I feel very douchey anytime I say that word. Basically, I’ve been a mostly healthy eater for a while now.

anti-anxiety

My diet is healthy, but I do not diet…that makes sense, right? Typically, I do not cut foods out of my diet either. I think the phrase, “everything in moderation” is tried and true. So, if I want fries or a dark chocolate bar, I have some. However, I share my fries and I eat the chocolate bar over a few days. I stuck to my regular diet during pregnancy, worked out regularly and gained about 28 pounds. After having Luna, I was sick, did not eat for 5 days, lost 30 pounds WAY too quickly and therefore ate whatever the hell I wanted once I felt better. NOW, I’m back to the regular diet again, but I’m about to do some tweaking.

chocolate

I stopped counting calories and weighing myself after my high school obsession. Instead, I focus on how I feel, look and how my clothes fit. Since, I am breastfeeding I need more calories than the average bear, but I also need to eat healthy because what I eat, she eats. My stomach is much softer than it used to be so I’d like to tighten that up. AND, I want to keep my anxiety at bay. Diet and exercise have a huge effect on stress and anxiety. I need a plan that will help me eat healthy, tone up and ease anxiety.

app

Here’s what I’m doing for the next few months (simultaneously with my “prenatal workout plan“.

-First, I am cutting out chips. Why? Because I have no self-control when it comes to chips. I cannot just eat a few. I always eat the entire bag, no matter the size, in one sitting. No good comes from chips, so while I get back into shape, chips are forbidden. (I almost deleted this one.)

-I am eating protein every morning. Studies show that eating protein in the AM can ward off anxiety throughout the day. It gives you more energy and keeps your blood sugar stable. Bring on the eggs!

-I am limiting caffeine. I know caffeine makes you jittery and heightens anxiety, but I am stubborn and do not want to cut it out, like ever. I am a passionate coffee drinker. Coffee is what I think about as I lie my head down at night because I cannot wait to wake up and drink a large hot mug of coffee on the couch. It’s a lovely tradition and one cup in the morning will not put me in a panic.

caffeine

– I am drinking a butt-load of water. Dehydration, even the tiniest bit makes you feel awful and definitely affects your mood. The more water I drink the better I feel, physically and mentally.

-I will start eating more vitamin B. Apparently, this vitamin affects your brains  neurotransmitters which fights anxiety. So, I’ll be adding more cauliflower, salmon, eggs, nuts and leafy greens. BTW, I tried making the trendy Mashed Cauliflower everyone keeps raving about and I failed miserably. I’ll stick to mashed potatoes for now.

-I am going to eat foods with more tryptophan. This is the stuff helps you sleep better…nuts, soy products, eggs, tofu, and fish all have tryptophan and are all a part of my healthy eating plan.

-Sadly, I must eat less dairy. I am lactose-intolerant and this can cause irritability and moodiness. During the pregnancy, I ate way more dairy than I ever do because I craved it like crazy. Now, I am trying really hard to cut it out again, but it is so not easy. How can I eat Mexican food and not eat cheese??? It just isn’t right.

-I am eating more healthy fats and fatty acids. Fatty acids actually have a huge impact on your brain and mood. I will be eating a lot of avocados, fish and raw nuts.

-I am also trying to cut out the majority of processed foods. That crap is just crap that can’t be good for our bodies or our minds. I know I won’t cut them out completely, but I’m making an effort to eat way more real and fresh foods.

slap

That’s the plan. I’ll still snack on popcorn, get dessert when we go out and share fries with Husband..definitely not depriving myself. After the next few months I think I’ll not only be ready to hit the beach, but I’m also hoping to be in a calmer state of mind. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to cut out the anxiety meds altogether, but that’s not my main concern. I just want to be healthy, happy and a good role model for Luna.

Cheers!