Nicole's Blog

From Fit Life to Mom Life

fitlife_1I’ve accomplished quite a bit in my 42 years of life. Upon graduating from college in 1994 I had a
7 year career at Nordstrom working in various capacities. Following that, I was a buyer for both Claire’s & Conair, a former NBA cheerleader for The Chicago Bull’s during the iconic Jordan years, an international fitness model and writer, a retired IFBB bikini pro & Olympian, traveled the world as a sponsored athlete, a former radio show host, a NASM CPT & Chek Holistic Lifestyle Coach, a soon-to-be published author, and now a new mom to a beautiful healthy baby boy. As exciting as my life has been, nothing on my resume compares to my title now as a mom and my selfless journey into motherhood.

Pregnancy, labor, and delivery, along with postpartum seemed very overwhelming at first. I made a conscious decision to research all of the above and surround myself with other moms who had natural birth stories. In doing so, I felt empowered. Of course I was scared, but everything I read and everyone I spoke with helped in keeping a positive holistic perspective through it all. Being a holistic coach, I’m pro natural everything. On becoming a parent initially there were things I thought I’d do and things I thought I’d never do, until I researched. In sharing with you, my goal is to keep moms and parents informed on the choices available to them. Birth is a business and more often than not medical intervention can be avoided if you’re educated. Many moms and couples are doing what the masses here in the U.S. do, putting all their faith in their doctors’ hands. Not all doctors have their patients’ best interests at heart. Shop around! I had my first ultrasound done at 8 weeks, and my gynecologist said you’re 41, you’re small, you are going to be a C-section. Many women choose that option but many don’t and are forced into a C-section by their doctors. After my gynecologist said this to me, I said, “Buh-bye!” I wanted a natural birth. I wanted a birth team that supported me on this, so I found a midwife group that does water births in the hospital. Plus, natural births are a lot less money than a C-section and better for both mom and baby. After watching a documentary called, “The Business of Being Born”, reading books, and talking with other moms who had natural births I felt confident in my body’s ability to birth a child naturally, the way God intended. I felt even better about my birth team. We had an in-home natural birthing class to prepare us for the big day. We learned different techniques that involve your partner to get you through early and active labor. We mapped out our birth plan. We also discussed what “could” go wrong and what our options would be then. Any mom reading this knows planning is great but things don’t always go as planned, so it’s important to be physically and mentally prepared for any outcome.

In August of 2014 I went into pre-term labor 6 weeks early. I had literally just met with my doula that same day to give her half payment for her services. A doula is a birth companion who assists the woman and her spouse/partner before during and after birth. Continuous support during labor is associated with several maternal and fetal health benefits, including lowering the risk of induction, medical intervention, and any pain relief. Little did I know I’d be calling her that same night to be at the hospital with me. Once at the hospital, since
I was pre-term, I was no longer in the hands of the midwife, and I was being turned over to the doctors. At that point, I wasn’t expecting to have a baby. I figured I’d get sent home on bed rest. On Saturday night, they gave me magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions. I was incapacitated. I had to call the nurses any time I needed help moving side to side or up and down in the bed.

I was only allowed water, broth, Popsicles, and ice chips. Monday morning rolled around, and I was 4 centimeters dilated. The doctor on staff said you’re not going home you’re having a baby today, tomorrow, or the next day. No sweat! I had my birth team, Kevin, my doula Kris, and my aunt Beverly (my mom died 3 years ago so my aunt was the person I chose to be there) who happens to be a retired labor and delivery nurse. I labored from about 9:30am until 4:30pm on my hands and knees on the edge of the bed. Each time I had a contraction Kevin would massage my back which is what we learned in the natural birthing class. My doula would coach me on breathing, and I would squeeze my aunt’s hands. This was how I could best cope with the pain from the contractions. The doctor that was on staff that day was very flexible. He allowed my doula and I to run the room and respected my wishes for a natural birth. I was on an IV since I had been admitted Saturday night.

I also had fetal monitoring. However, that was it’ No other medical interventions, not even pain medications. Dr. Martinez came in at 4:30pm, and I was 9.5 centimeters dilated. At that point my doula and Kevin made sure I didn’t wimp out because I almost did. At that point the contractions were very intense. My team did their job in helping support a natural vaginal birth without medical intervention. My midwife was allowed to come into the room then and helped coach me on the “push” while the doctor delivered a healthy baby boy, we named Grayson. Our birth did not go according to our plans, but according to God’s perfect plan. In the end it all worked out. We women need to support one another and continue to promote birth without fear. I felt amazing after.

Grayson was in the NICU for 10 days. He was born on Monday night, and I was released on Wednesday afternoon. He did not have any infections. but he just needed to gain weight in order to be released. Those 10 days allowed for my recovery, an easier adjustment to #momlife, breastfeeding education, and learning how to care for our newborn. Once home I carried Grayson in a wrap as much as possible and even slept with him on me at night. Being a premie, he should have still been inside of me another few weeks. Babies thrive with human contact from their mothers, especially skin-to-skin and breastmilk. In primitive cultures and in many other countries, moms carry their babies with them all the time. They can easily catch cues for hunger, sleep, and elimination, meeting their baby’s needs without any crying. Many think letting a baby cry it out is best. If you ignore a baby’s cry they grow up thinking their needs aren’t important. My message to moms and couples is more than returning to your pre-pregnancy body, it’s about giving our children a good start in life, especially their physical and emotional health. Years 0-6 are crucial for their health and emotional well-being. Infants whose continuum needs are fulfilled during the early, in­arms phase grow up to have greater self-esteem and become more independent than those whose cries go unanswered for fear of spoiling them or making them too dependent.

fitlife_4Each woman has a different postpartum journey, so what works for me may or may not work for you. I didn’t start working out until almost 6 weeks postpartum per my midwife’s orders. That first month back in the gym, I only had time to work out once a week. Then, by the next month I was able to work out twice a week, which didn’t affect my milk supply. Before giving birth I only did cardio once a week. As a Chek Holistic Lifestyle Coach, #forktomouthcurls are key, no matter what age, sex, or shape you are in. After birth I didn’t do any cardio, I only lifted weights twice a week. My consistent proper nutrition helped tremendously in my postpartum transformation. I’m 10 months postpartum, still nursing my son, and I’ve only taught 4 cardio kickboxing classes. Yes I’ve only done 4 hours of cardio in 10 months’ time. Personally, I wasn’t in a rush to get my body back nor did I have the time to do cardio. My body responds best to consistent nutrition and weight training. Given my resume, it’s been a hard pill to swallow patiently watching my waistline shrink. However, it’s also been humbling since I preach patience to my client’s in their transformations. I’m still not where I was. I have about 5-81bs more to lose and my hips and abs still have a little bit of fluff on them. Something I haven’t seen since my college days. I’m more concerned with being readily available to meet my son’s needs. The gym will always be there. Precious time with my infant will not. At 3 months postpartum, I went back to work, putting in about 10-15 hours a week. While it’s inspiring to see women bounce back to their pre-pregnancy body quickly after giving birth, that’s not the message I want to put out there. What point are we trying to prove by posting gym selfies 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks postpartum? Why does our society expect women to bounce back quickly? Why is there so much pressure to be skinny again? I admit looking at my postpartum body slowly transform back was very difficult. I even wanted instant, but it’s just not realistic. I’d rather be at home taking care of my son. instead of killing it at the gym 5 days a week. I now kill it at home 7 days a week taking care of my son, which also includes preparing healthy meals and getting 2 workouts in a week. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I love every minute with him. The more quality time we spend with our children during their first few years of life, the less time we have to spend repairing them as adults. Due to work, finances, and other circumstances, I know not every mom can be with their infants and toddlers as often as they’d like. Plus, there’s so much pressure on mom’s to “do-it-all” and still look fabulous, when really their main focus needs to be on their child. We moms do the best we can with the resources we have. As difficult as it is to not compare your journey with another’s and unfairly criticize yourself, remember each mom’s postpartum journey, personal choices, and resources are so different.

fitlife_3In last month’s issue, I shared some pregnancy superfoods. Those are also great postpartum superfoods. Nutrition matters when you’re growing a human, nursing a baby, and recovering from having a baby. It’s crucial for ensuring lifelong health, maximizing learning capacities, and preventing illness. If you listen to the mainstream, especially conventional physicians and nutritionists, they’ll brainwash you into believing you need a diet high in grains, low in fat and animal proteins, and to avoid seafood. It’s actually just the opposite. Hands down, healthy breastmilk is perfectly designed for baby’s physical and mental development, but this is only true when the mom supplies her body with the right nutrients. I do my best to get all macros in at every meal especially a variety of healthy fats. Grayson isn’t on a feeding schedule; I nurse him on cue per my doula’s recommendation, and it’s worked very well. I know for many the only choice they have or prefer is to put their child on a schedule. We started pureed foods around 6 months. I’ve incorporated more raw dairy into our menu to get the fat soluble vitamins needed. Raw or grass fed butter, raw or pasture-raised eggs, raw kefir and raw goat’s milk offer a plethora of digestive enzymes and probiotics, along with highly absorbable vitamin A that’s completely safe. Unlike mega doses of synthetic vitamin A which is toxic. True vitamin A is only found in animal foods. You’re also getting important nutrients like vitamins D & K. If you’re nervous about raw butter, opt for grass fed or Ghee, as all are great healthy fat additions to mom, baby, and even dad’s diet. In researching, I’ve found that breastmilk is all babies need in their first year. At 10 months, I’m still nursing Grayson a countless number of times each day and night and leaving it up to him as to what, when, and how much pureed foods he will eat daily. He’s a very good eater, too! Organs from sea and land animals are another way to get those much needed fat soluble vitamins in. My kid eats better than most of my clients! Here’s a list of foods that have been introduced to Grayson starting at 6 months and beyond and he loves them all:

  • Protein
    Grass fed beef, pasture-raised liver, antibiotic hormone-free bison, chicken, turkey, lamb, venison, pork, bacon, cod wild, raw & pasture-raised eggs, bone broth
  • Vegetables
    Spinach, carrots, bell peppers, kale, cucumber, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, cauliflower, onion, tomato, rutabaga, turnip, beet
  • Fruits
    avocado, peaches, banana, pear, blueberry, apple, strawberry, raspberry, mango, kiwi, pineapple, lime, blackberry, lemon
  • Fermented Foods
    raw kefir, rejuvalec, cod liver oil
  • Healthy Fat
    grass fed butter, raw cow and goat butter, coconut oil & coconut flakes, red palm oil, olive oil, chia seeds
  • Starch
    gluten-free oats, buckwheat, red potato, purple potato, sweet potato

And a few bites of mom’s Oreo McFlurry #truth #cheattreat : )

fitlife_6As you can see he eats from the land and sea the way our ancestors did. I’m always eliminating and adding in new foods. My nutrition continually evolves. The source is important! Most of all the produce is organic. All meat, poultry, and seafood are high-quality antibiotic-free, hormone-free, or wild. Eating toxic foods promotes toxic bodies.
I shop at 3 different grocers and local farms. Figure out what works best for your family and for your budget. Furthermore, get away from the mentality of “kiddie menus” or infant food being cereal and grains. The health of our country is failing, especially our country’s youth. Adults and children should be eating the same foods and the best way to give your children a good start in life is with breastmilk and foods that come from the land and sea.

If what I write sounds primitive, it is. The modern mother is drained especially because she doesn’t eat nourishing foods. If her diet is imbalanced, then her body may no longer be able to produce the hormones associated with breastfeeding. Our society gives out badges for moms (and dads) whose life quickly returns to the way it was before they had a baby. SMH! When you become a parent, life will be very different. Our job as a mom is to nurture our babies and meet their needs so they feel safe in the world. Parents say they want a healthy child but fail to follow-through or even do their own research on how crucial breastfeeding is to their health not just the nutrients, but human touch and the direct bond of closeness with the mother. Our culture doesn’t support prolonged breastfeeding, the most feminine and motherly acts. Healthcare professionals, parents, grandparents, and the general public need to know normal weaning
is anywhere from 3-7 years of age, however uncommon it may be in the United States.

As a NASM CPT & Chek HLC, I help people help themselves in changing their lives. Now as an informed mother I’m helping many clients do the same for themselves and for their families. You control your health and your child’s health. Be gentle and kind to yourself in your postpartum journey, slow down, and enjoy quality time with your child and don’t be in such a hurry to get back to life the way it was before. Embrace all the changes in your new life!

Westonaprice. org
Healing Our Children by Ramie/ Nagel

Photo Credit: Don Bersano
Article From: Fitness Most Magazine | July 2015