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My Birth Adventure & Lessons Learned

 

So i’ve written and re-written this post a few times over the past week. My birth story is pretty long and kinda epic and a million paragraphs long. I tried to cut parts out, but it was all important, so I decided to scrap it. Basically, my story makes for a better short story than a blog post. So instead, I’m going to summarize what happened to me and focus more on what I learned and am taking forward with me from my birth experience.

Reader’s Digest Birth Story

  • Duration of labor & delivery: 24 hours
  • Water broke at 11pm on April 2nd
  • Labored unmedicated from 1:30am – 2:30pm April 3rd
  • Pushed unmedicated from 2:30pm – 5:30pm
  • 5:45pm epidural administered and I labored down (rested) for 2 hours
  • Pushed for 2 more hours with epidural
  • Emergency c-section performed and our baby girl arrived at 11:00pm

What I learned

If you get cleared for it, workout for the duration of your pregnancy with a concentrated focus on breath, deep core muscles, and mind/spirit connection to the body. I was only able to labor and push for as long as I did because of my physical condition and mental/spiritual strength. It’s sooooo important to connect with your Transverse Abdominals (TA muscles) and Diaphragmatic Breathing BEFORE you deliver. It made laboring and pushing so much more powerful (only reason it wasn’t successful is because our baby girl was poorly positioned). It also has made recovering post laboring and c-section so much quicker – I even had nurses, midwives, and doctors comment to that effect!

Prepare as much as you can, and then be ready to go with the flow. My birth experience did NOT go as planned! I prepared A LOT for it. I planned to have an unmedicated labor (I did have that) and an unmedicated natural delivery (I did not have that). I thought it would go quickly and smoothly. My body was ready, my mind was ready, my team was ready. However, things don’t go as planned. One of the best things I did in preparation for labor and delivery was to learn about all of the different labor/delivery options. We took a birth class that covered unmedicated, natural, as well as medical options. From there, I was able to write a comprehensive birth plan. This plan made it easy for me to know when it was time to move to the next plan. I didn’t feel like I “failed” when I needed the epidural and I sure as hell didn’t feel like I failed when we ended up requiring a c-section. Because I wrote down my wishes for each of these cases, my preferences were always honored and I always felt part of the birth experience rather than feeling like things were happening to me or being decided for me. Having a plan and being flexible with it allowed us (even with all the craziness) to have a truly positive birth experience.

Eat something as soon as you go into labor! I did not do this and I was without food for about 32 hours! You never know how long it’s going to take, plus it’s good to have that extra energy!

Surround yourself with a team that knows and cares for you. Our experience was intense, it could have been a lot scarier feeling, and it could have been a negative one instead of the positive one we had. It was because of the amazing people we surrounded ourselves with that we felt so good. My mom, my husband as well as the nurses, midwife, doula, and OBs were our pit crew. They knew our wishes, they respected our wishes, and they honored our wishes. Everyone there was there for both me AND baby. We never felt opposition, judgement, or scared – even as everything progressed and plans began to change.

One tip for everyone – GET A DOULA! Seriously! No matter what your birth plan, you should have a doula. Nurses, midwives, OBs, etc. are in and out of the room and I can’t imagine being left alone for even 5 minutes the experience was that intense (and new!). A doula is YOUR person. They are your teacher, advocated, masseuse, coach, and partner support system. I would not have been able to do what I did without ours.

Keep your ego in check! It would have been easy for me to feel like I failed. I didn’t achieve the birth experience I wanted. It would have been easy to feel like I cheated by having the epidural or that I did something wrong that required me to have a c-section. The bottom line is, so much of this experience – much like most of our baby girl’s life now is and will be out of our control. All we have control over is our attitudes. Because I was prepared and informed, I know that I made the decisions that were best for both me and my baby given the circumstances. This experience wasn’t about me getting a trophy for accomplishing a fully unmedicated birth and delivery. It was about both of us leaving the labor and delivery floor alive and as healthy as possible. I wanted an unmedicated birth to give myself and my baby the strongest start, but with our particular situation that was proving not to be the strongest start so we pivoted to the next plan to achieve that end. I’m not any less of person for requiring intervention and whatever you decide for you and your baby – you will not be any less. Birth isn’t a competition – it’s about bringing another life into this world. It was only by going through what we went through that I have truly learned that lesson.

Conclusion

Labor and delivery was a tremendous experience for us. It didn’t go as planned, and was more intense (and yes more painful) than anything i’ve ever experienced. So would I do it again? Am I scared for next time? Yes i’d do it again and no i’m not scared.

How can that be? Well we’ve all had that marathon running friend who tells the story of that race they ran that was mostly uphill, in the rain, and ended with many blisters and missing toe nails. They tell that part of the story and then talk about how happy they were crossing the finish line and how ready they are for the next race. That marathoner views that race as an intense challenge where they earned their stripes and they talk about their “war story” with pride. That’s how I feel about my birth experience. It was the most challenging, painful, grueling, scary, intense, life-changing, humbling, loving, amazing experience I have ever had – and I can’t wait to do it again.

Primarily, because this the trophy you get when all is said and done.

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A New Kind of Strong

Well – it’s official – I’m making a comeback to the blogosphere. For the past 10 months I’ve wanted to get back to it, but I guess I wasn’t ready until now.

For those of you that don’t know, I have spent the past 10 months pregnant and then giving birth to a beautiful baby girl!

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For someone who is obsessed with fitness, wellness, evolution, and strength – it’s been a TREMENDOUS experience. I worried about this blog turning into a mommy blog – part of the reason I haven’t written at all in so long – but this morning it dawned on me that this blog is called “Size Strong” for a reason – because strong knows no special size, strong knows no specific life stage, strong knows no ONE single kind of person.

So with that in mind I’m going to begin sharing my story of strength once again from where I’m at now. Hopefully, no matter what life or strong stage you are in personally, you’ll be able to take something from my adventures.

Now to start crafting HOW to fill you all in on all that’s happened and all that I’ve learned while mixing in what’s going on with me now😉

Hope you all had a tremendous weekend!

Lina

 

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Me Time is the Most Important Time

So today’s post is on a topic that’s really near and dear to me — taking care of yourself. More specifically, taking time for yourself.

It’s so easy when you’re a Type A, motivated, involved, passionate go-getter to always put yourself last. I find myself all the time canceling my “me time” because other things that I feel like I should be doing. Though every once in a while that happens and it’s fine, I’ve found myself recently in a pattern of neglecting my “me time.” So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to commit myself to MAKING the time and TAKING that time for me.

So great, “me” time is valuable and needed, but how do you actually make the space in your day – and in your mind for it? Well, here are the steps I’m taking to ensure that I give myself some time each day to connect with myself.

1. Acknowledge that “Me Time” isn’t selfish – it’s necessary. Taking the time for yourself allows you to be better at everything that you do and for everyone you interact with. Me time allows you to refocus, recharge, and replenish your energy stores. Releasing your mind from your obligations, from your to-do list from the cares of the world and turning your focus inward allows you to checkin with the most important person in your life – YOU. Now you might think, “whoa there, that’s a really self-absorbed thing to say,” but it absolutely isn’t. You have to secure your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else. If you’re stressed out, scattered, and exhausted that’s all you can provide to those around you. If you are centered, happy, and in-tune with yourself you are SO much better for everyone in your life. So basically, making time for yourself, your health, your happiness will make you better at everything you do for others.

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2. Put it in your calendar – Every Damn Day – one hour for YOU. It doesn’t always have to be an intense workout (and shouldn’t be!). Commit to one hour of presence for you. Whether it’s going for walk in the sunshine, a mani-pedi, a stretchy yoga class, or people watching outside in the sunshine. Give yourself the gift of an hour each day to meditate, recharge and be ready to tackle the rest of your day from a centered and energized space.

3. Leave guilt behind. It’s easy to embrace the idea of Me Time, but it’s not easy to actually let go and enjoy your time without the bouts of guilt or feelings of self-centeredness or like your time is better spent answering emails or filling out expense reports. You need to actively remind yourself that taking an hour for you will actually help increase your productively, happiness, and balance your stress and fatigue for the following hours.

Taking steps toward “Me Time” won’t always be easy, but the more in-tune we are with ourselves, the more opportunities we give ourselves to recharge the more solid and stable we become. The happier and more grounded we are, the better we become for everyone in our lives. Take a moment and think about the kind of person you want to be for everyone in your life – now take the time to FIRST be that person just for YOU.

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The Perfect Spring Dessert Treat

Hey Friends! I’ve been getting a lot of recipe requests for the Coconut Crusted Caramel Tart I made for our Passover Seder last week. This thing is totally delicious, easy to make, and feels light and fresh for spring. Enjoy!

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 Coconut Crusted Caramel Tart

Caramel Filling Ingredients

  • 12-15 dates
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Caramel Filling Recipe

PaleOMG’s Caramel Pecan Bars Filling

Topping Ingredients

  • Sliced strawberries or other fruit
  • Chocolate chips (optional

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of Salt

Directions for  Tart

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease a 9″ baking dish with coconut oil (preferably circular)
  3. Mix all the above ingredients in a mixing bowl until fully combined
  4. Press firmly and evenly into baking dish
  5. Bake in oven for 10-20 minutes (depending on your oven)
  6. Coconut should be lightly golden on top
  7. While crust is baking, make caramel filling according to PaleOMG’s recipe linked above
  8. Once crust has cooled, spread all over evenly
  9. Decorate with toppings of your choosing – I went with strawberries, blueberries, and chocolate chips
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Exhale & Smile to Brighten Your Day

Today’s post is going to be a short one. I just want to remind you today how truly AWESOME you really are. NOBODY is like you, NOBODY can be you, and only YOU get to have your life experiences. You are smart. You are capable. And you are hungry to live your best, fullest, happiest life ever – and you won’t settle for less. That’s something to be really proud of. But managing your awesomeness, managing all the amazing things you want to do with your life can leave you feeling stressed, unfulfilled, lonely, and frustrated. I know this, because I go through the same thing regularly – being frustrated with the present as I look to the future I want to build for myself. So do me a favor – when those thoughts and feelings creep up on you:

  1. Acknowledge them
  2. Go find a mirror and look at yourself
  3. Take in your whole face. Embrace the sparkle, the wisdom, the imperfections, the perfections
  4. Take a deep look into your own eyes and see past your face into your passions and ambitions. See your struggles and your successes. You’ve been through a lot and that’s what makes you, YOU – and that’s why you are the awesome person you are
  5. Take a deep breath in filling up your belly with fresh air, exhale and let all the thoughts that aren’t making you stronger leave with that exhale
  6. Now smile at yourself in the mirror and feel the peace and joy that breath and smile are bringing you in this moment. Research has shown that just putting a smile on your face can make you feel happier

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Look at that beautiful smile! You’re ok. In fact, you’re better than ok. You’re a warrior, a fighter, a lover of life, a lover of a good challenge. The strength is in the struggle, and you my friend are STRONG. It’s wonderful to be ambitious, but let’s not lose sight of the great person you already are in the present moment. Look within, exhale, smile – and change the course of your day!

30 Minutes to Amazing Lamb!

I don’t know about you, but prepping dinner can either be a really good stress release, or it can be incredibly stressful. In my experience, I’ve found that the fewer ingredients involved, and the shorter the prep time, the more fun I have preparing my meals and the more I inevitably enjoy them. On that note, I want to share a quick and easy lamb recipe with all of you!

30 MINUTE ROAST RACK OF LAMB

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Ingredients
  • French Rack of Lamb ( I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • Seasonings (I used sea salt and South American Smoke – a Trader Joe’s spice)
  • 2 tbsp Cooking Fat (I used duck fat, but coconut oil, lard, or butter are fine choices as well)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit
  2. Place your cooking fat into a cast iron skillet on the stove and let heat up. In the meantime, season your lamb with salt/pepper/spices…whatever you like on both sides.
  3. Once skillet is heated and meat is seasoned, place the lamb, meat side down, on the skillet to sear
  4. After 3-5 minutes, flip over and sear for another 2-3 minutes. Both sides should look browned
  5. Once seared, place the cast iron skillet into the pre-heated oven and roast for 12-15 minutes. The time only depends on how you like your meat cooked. I personally am a fan of medium rare, so I took mine out in about 12 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, when the meat temp reaches 125F, that’s medium rare.
  6. Remove the meat from the oven, cover with a foil tent and let the meat rest for about 10 minutes. That’s also the perfect time to get your vegetables sautéed!
  7. Cut the rack into 2 bone pieces
  8. Serve along side vegetables
ENJOY!
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It’s Time to Face Your Fears

I have a confession to make…starting this blog and continuing to grow and develop it has been a REALLY scary process for me. I have so many ideas that I want to share with you, so many things that I want to do through this platform – I want to write you an ebook, I want to lead workshops and give lectures, I want to start to carry cool fitness retail, and I want to impact your life every single day with meaningful content. I started working in the fitness industry because, for many years, I made unhealthy choices physically, mentally, and emotionally – and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through it alone! I want everyone to find their inner self-worth and work toward healthy goals like strength and wellness. I want to end the self-shaming and punishment and I want you to truly find the things that make you happy and practice happiness everyday.

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My goal is to help you define your life from the inside out.

These are lofty goals, and for the past few months I’ve been terrified by them. What if I spend a ton of time, energy, money, and passion on these projects and no one likes it? What if I’m all alone at a workshop presenting to no one? What if I upgrade my website with a bunch of shiny bells and whistles and only 10 people view my page? On and on this self-doubt went and my reservations grew and grew. I became paralyzed by this fear. Instead of taking actions to move forward, I took steps backward justifying to myself that with enough reading, research, and prep I would feel ready to proceed. However all this prep for perfection, all this pumping of the breaks, is me just stalling because I’m scared.

The first step in facing my fears, came in admitting to a really good friend and mentor of mine that I was, in fact, scared to fail. Even just admitting that out loud to someone began the process of helping me to face my fears. My friend went on to ask me what truly terrible things would happen if I did actually fail? I thought about it and imagined the failures, one after another. Even though each scenario kind of sucked, I didn’t die. Failure isn’t a permanent state – but I was allowing the fear of failure to keep me paralyzed in a state of inaction.

Here’s what I’m learning while working through my fears to reach my goals: if fear is your foundation, then there  is no room for genuine inner strength or progress. Through the eyes of fear we can only see threats, danger, and doom – none of those things encourage us to move forward. Fear can be all consuming. When we are fearful we can’t allow other emotions like joy, happiness, or excitement to surface. Fear robs us of our inner power and passion. Making decisions from a place of fear is the epitome of playing small and if your goals are big and grand, there’s no room for small. That doesn’t mean that fear can’t be a helpful too. In small doses, fear can be helpful because it keeps us humble, keeps our egos in check, and the bump in adrenalin can give us extra energy and heightened awareness – but we can’t let fear be the foundation for our actions (or inactions).

So today, I’m going to ask you to look at your goals, the things that you want most in your life and ask yourself what’s truly standing in your way. Is it fear? Acknowledge it, look that fear square in the face and take your power back. It’s time for us all to stop playing small and work from a foundation of strength, passion, confidence.