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Life, loss, and silver linings

Published February 24, 2014 by Jennie

The last week has been difficult but had a few silver linings.  On Thursday, my parents’ dog, Peanut, starting acting very lethargic and stopped eating.  They took him to the vet where he stayed there for several (expensive) tests.  After an ultrasound, they still could not figure out what was wrong.  He continued to get worse and they ultimately decided to let him go.  He was 11.  Everyone experiences loss differently, but anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to a pet knows how hard it is to do so. When we got him at the shelter, he was so scared of everything and hid under the bed for most of the first few weeks we had him.  After he warmed up to us, he became a beloved member of the family.   I will miss him.

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This week is also hard because my brother would have turned 28.  We always had so much fun on birthdays.  I miss him everyday and more so on special occasions.   It always makes me mad when people tell me I should be thankful for the time we had together.  I am thankful for the memories I have.  Even so, I still can not bring myself to be thankful for having him in my life for only 19 years.  This may be because I lack insight or maturity but that is how I feel.  Also, even though I would never wish anything bad on anyone, I still do get jealous of people who have close relationships with their brothers.  While my brother and I were very different, we always supported one another and I know he loved me.

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Since it is difficult for me to be thankful for the time we had, I decided to identify things I am thankful for.  My list is not inclusive and in no particular order.  This one is for you, Mike.

Things  I am thankful for

My husband
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I could go on forever.  For now I will say that after 13+ years, he still makes me feel like a princess.  This might sound cheesy but I can tell he loves me just by the way he looks at me.

My parents
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Again, I could seriously go on forever. I never realized how lucky I was to have amazing parents until I grew up. As a kid, home was always a warm loving place. Even when I was in trouble, I always felt safe and protected. My parents did not spoil me but they were (and still are) my biggest cheerleaders (well maybe tied with my husband). Growing up, I participated in dance for about ten years. My dad attended every recital and would give me a dozen roses. I would pretend to be annoyed by them, but they always made me feel like the most special girl in the world. As an adult, I know they always have my back but they also let me be my own person. Also, after 34 years together, they are still a shining example of what a marriage would be.

My friends
Sometimes I feel like I won the friend lottery. I do not have lots and lots of friends, but the ones I do have are phenomenal. Yesterday, we had some of them over to make pizza from scratch and I had so much fun. I was also able to forget my fertility/life struggles for a while.

My education
It might sound weird, but I love school. I love how at the end of the school day, I leave with skills that I did not have at the beginning of the day. I am very lucky that I have the opportunity to go to school to pursue my doctorate. It required me to leave the regular work world for at least three years and I know that is not something everyone can do (another reason why my husband is my superman).

Exercise
Exercise helps keep me sane. When I am in the middle of a workout, all my stresses and challenges are temporarily suspended. I am so lucky to have a wonderful workout partner that lives two houses away. Sometimes I feel like I do not want to work out but I always feel better after going.  Having an exercise buddy gives me a much needed boost that helps me keep on track.

Trash TV
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Ok this one is a little silly, but every once and a while, I enjoy losing myself in a good trashy show.  I can admit that it is my occasional guilty pleasure.

So yeah life is hard but there are lots of things I am thankful for. I hope everyone has a great week! xoxoxo

To IVF or not IVF

Published February 15, 2014 by Jennie

This post is a plea for advice.  I completely understand that all women are different when it comes to infertility. However, I am kind of at a crossroads right now.  I love writing this blog because it allows me to connect with other people are are going through similar experiences.  I have been overwhelmed with the encouragement and support I have received.  No one understands infertility like someone who has gone through it (although I am lucky to have have additional support from my non-infertile friends).  So here it goes.

For those of you who may be new to my story, I have undergone an incredible amount of medical testing and procedures to obtain the coveted label of unexplained infertility.  You can read more about this journey here.  As a result, I have began to take a more holistic approach with a new focus on health.  I understand I can not do everything (no one can!), but here is what I have done so far.

* Gave up soda
* Eliminated caffeine
* Eliminated artificial sweeteners
* Read food labels to cut down on processed food
* Eliminated any food that have been modified to be reduced fat, low sugar, etc.
* Eliminated fast food
* Avoid foods that could possibly have listeria
* Avoid soy when possible
* Switched from cow’s milk to almond milk
* Switched to organic meat. This means they have not been feed antibiotics or growth     hormones. You can read more about it here.
* Sometimes switching to organic when I think it is worth it. I do not buy a food just because it is organic. I research it and then make a decision. For example, when I buy berries, I make sure they are organic but organic junk food is still junk food.
* Drink a lot of water. I recently learned about the multitude of benefits of lemon water. You can read more about that here and here.
* Make foods at home as opposed to buying them at the store when possible
(for example, I make pizza from scratch now which actually tastes a lot better)
* Exercise 4x a week (I am lucky to have an awesome workout buddy)
* Maintain a healthy weight. I have never been overweight but I have been underweight.
* Trying to get into yoga (I have a friend who is a yoga instructor and she
is willing to work with me on this one)
* Started acupuncture
* Started a blog (huge benefits here!)
* Actively trying to maintain an positive attitude.

We are currently scheduled to start IVF in May.  I am now starting to have second thoughts.  I do not know if all this stuff I am doing can actually make a difference.  Even so, it may be worth trying on our own for a while with these changes to see what happens.  Also, it may be worth trying another IUI. We previously did two and had great numbers both times (our doctors really thought it would work). Additionally, I think I am a little scared of IVF (is that strange to say?). I have seen other people go through it and it is a lot to take on. I know it can be worth it but I want to make sure I am prepared and I am not sure if I am quite there yet (if that makes any sense). I am 31 now which I know does not make me a spring chicken but I do feel we have a little bit of time to explore options. I sincerely appreciate any feedback that people would like to give. I do not judge and I am open to considering different options. As always, thank you so much for your support! xoxoxo

Confronting Old Demons

Published January 31, 2014 by Jennie

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This evening I was at my gym doing my thing when an old demon crept up.  I have always been into exercising  Even so, I have changed my motivation to work out.  In the past, I used to exercise because I was terrified of gaining weight.  I am not sure where it came from but I even remember as far back as when I was 11 and weighed 60 pounds and I wondered if that was too high.   I also remember the first time I weighted triple digits (I was 24) and I felt sick to my stomach.  In the past, working out used to mean running on the treadmill until I felt lightheaded and then running some more.  Today I saw a girl at the gym who could not have been above a size 2.  I want to make it clear that I do not judge her.  The is no one size fits all when it comes to body size.  I really hate it when people give others (especially women) a hard time for their body size because they think they are too small, big, etc.  When I saw this girl though, I had a temporary longing to go back to my old ways.  When I was smaller, I felt more in charge of my life.  I also liked the attention.  People used to frequently tell me how they wished they could be as small as me.

I know that being underweight makes it difficult to conceive.  Sometimes I get really frustrated though because I feel that I may never get so pregnant so I minus well go back to being the really skinny girl.  For a long time, it was my identity.  Fortunately, as time goes on, these thoughts occur less and less.  I know there is a possibility I may never have children.  Even so, I still should take care of myself.  There are more reasons to get healthy than just fertility.  This is all still a work in progress but I feel like I am going in the right direction.  Now I incorporate things into my workout (such as weight training) that I would never had considered in the past.  Tonight I danced my ass off in Zumba and for an hour, I forgot about this whole infertility thing.  I feel good.