Tag Archives: mental health

Anyone up for a summer health challenge?

As I lay on my yoga mat this morning, I remembered the way my body felt at the end of my pregnancy. Compared to my non-pregnant self, I was disabled. Each movement required effort, changing positions in bed was a conscious act, a walk around the block left my hips and lower back aching. I wanted so badly to run at full speed down the street when we walked the dogs. I swore I was going to make the most of being able to move when I was no longer pregnant.

Three months postpartum I have not made good on this promise. While I am slowly getting stronger, I have been generally too tired or too preoccupied with baby tasks to exercise beyond our evening dog walk, (which took about a month to do comfortably). The first time I tried downward dog a few weeks ago, I practically fell on my face, my arms weak, my wrists throbbing. At the two yoga classes I have attended, my hips, back, wrists, legs have all creaked and ached in ways I never expected.

Put simply, I did not realize postpartum recovery would be such a slow process. I assumed the six week doctor’s visit would coincide with my miraculous return to postpartum health. After all, I eat well, take care of myself, had a natural childbirth… Ha. Apparently sleep deprivation and the act of carrying and then pushing out a baby take different tolls on different people, naturally-oriented or otherwise.

In talking with friends, I have realized postpartum recovery differs for everyone and it really can take anywhere from a month to a year to feel normal. Three months in and I am ready to take matters into my own hands. I want to move better than before and be stronger than I have ever been. When you have known what it feels like to be unable to move, moving suddenly takes on a much greater value.

Which brings me to this post. A year ago, I had just finished a 30-day yoga challenge and felt the strongest and healthiest I had felt in a long time, (also when I got pregnant, hmm…). I want to come up with a new health challenge to get back to (or better than) that point. While I am in no way ready for our next kid, I know I am going to have to be strong and healthy to go through that all again, (I really think if I had been in better shape, my delivery would not have been as taxing and I may have had the energy to actually use a pushing position other than the classic inclined hospital bed).

Using year-ago post-yoga-challenge me as my inspiration... I don't expect (or even want) to ever look exactly the same as pre-baby, I just want to FEEL the same if not better. This picture is probably the healthiest I have ever felt.

Using year-ago post-yoga-challenge me as my inspiration… I don’t expect (or even want) to look exactly the same as pre-baby, I just want to FEEL the same if not better. This picture is probably the healthiest I have ever felt.

So, I need a little inspiration. My time is limited and it is also 100+ degrees outside (yuck!). The more I can do with baby indoors the better. I need goals/ideas for:

1. Healthy eating: I’m already on a restricted diet to help with her colic, (no dairy/wheat/processed sugar), but other processed foods are still a major weakness, (hello Mojo Bars, Late July tortilla chips, turkey jerky, etc). I need easy but filling inspiration, (and when I say easy, I mean no more than 20 minutes to prepare, since baby girl will only sit and watch me for about half that time before she starts fussing). Oh yeah, and I need to drink more water, duh.

2. Exercise: This makes me giggle. I have never been a runner (despite my pregnant fantasy of running at full speed). It’s hot outside. My baby doesn’t wake up until 9AM. I hate exercise videos. I’m full of excuses. I pretty much only like yoga and walking, but I’m going to need some serious encouragement to do enough of either to make a difference. Really, I need a buddy to force me.

3. Mental health: Hanging out with other moms has helped and will definitely be an important ingredient going forward. Writing is also key, but comes at the expense of household chores, exercise, food preparation, etc. Obviously exercise helps, but it already has its own category. Limiting technology makes this list, I find myself sucked into internet on my phone while I nurse, which doesn’t seem good for anyone involved and takes me out of being present with my daughter, (must break addiction)… I digress.

Whether you’re recovering from baby or not, I figure pretty much everyone could benefit from some new health goals or focus. Excited to hear your thoughts/secrets/tips as I develop a new plan for myself. I also encourage you to come up with your own summer health challenge. Life is too short to waste time unhealthy.

{And, side note, I managed to bang out this post in one sitting without baby girl waking up. We’re making real nap progress! Going on two hours! Woohoo! Now to see if there is time to actually proofread, might be pushing my luck…)

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Feelings Jar Part II: End of Week Purge


This afternoon I dumped a week’s worth of feelings onto my desk. Originally, I planned to let them stack up inside the bear container, but it was confusing to keep track of which ones I had read and which ones I had not, (not to mention the voyeurs peaking into the clear container trying to read each other’s secrets). So, the bear cleansed his feelings. He feels much better now.

Frustrations, anger, happiness, excitement, crushes, hurt feelings, jokes, concern over the imminent end of the world…

I have to admit, I felt a little bit like an advice columnist this week. Case in point:

Dear Mrs. M,

I have a problem. My friend likes this girl and I like the same girl but I don’t want to hurt my friend, what do I do? I think she likes me too…



Funny how early these problems start. I remember the same conundrum, which actually resulted in my relationship with my husband. My friend liked him first. Tricky territory. I told the kid it seems important now but it won’t be forever, be kind and don’t worry so much.

Sifting through all the feelings this afternoon, making sure I did not miss any cries for help,  I discovered my own lesson. The jar was good because it gave me a space to deflect some of their stress instead of instantly absorbing it. I was able to deal with their energy when I was ready. Likewise, throwing out the pile at the end of the week left me cleansed, too.

Have anything you need to throw out this week?

No time like the present.

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Hot Yoga: A Lesson in Anxiety

Today I overcame my fear of suffocating heat.  I went to hot yoga.  It was 105 degrees and I had to be talked into it, by three people.  Before I left my house, I almost bailed.  I was having real anxiety about not being able to breathe in a hot, crowded room.

One of my first real anxiety attacks occurred in a small, hot space.  I was on a mini-bus in Madrid.  Poor planning left the interior of the bus heated to over 100 degrees when we boarded.  Silly girl that I was, I sat in the last row, where the air strained to reach me.  It was my first real taste of claustrophobia.  I thought I was going to pass out.  I almost asked the bus driver to pull over so that I could get off.  I survived by closing my eyes and breathing.

Anxiety is a funny thing.  I remember going to the doctor in my late teens and describing some of my phantom symptoms:  random dizziness, upset stomach, shortness of breath.  The doctor asked if I had anxiety.  I said no.  I really did not think that I did.  By the time I reached 25, I figured it out.  I had anxiety, he was right all along, I just could not believe that something in my head could have so much control over my body.  I refused to medicate.  I was determined to overcome it by myself.

Flash forward a few years and most of the time I do overcome it.  I read a lot of books and realized that I need to face my fears.  This may seem simple, but real anxiety can be debilitating.  There were days that it was easier to hide from everything, to avoid life.  I had a week-long anxiety attack when I quit my job and started my teaching program, but I just kept trucking.  If I ever get a tattoo, it will say “Be brave.”

So, yesterday, when I felt anxiety’s nasty little symptoms creeping in, I knew what I was dealing with.  That’s half the battle, knowing your enemy.  The other half is facing it.  No matter how much my stomach hurt or I could not sleep thinking about it, I had to go to hot yoga.  And, yes, there were moments when I felt like I was going to pass out, when I sat on the floor and closed my eyes and breathed while everyone else kept moving.  But, I also caught myself smiling as I fought through it.  Anxiety wins if it stops me from doing something new, I win when I do it anyway.  Today, I’m happy to report I kicked anxiety’s ass.

I survived hot yoga, drenched in sweat, but smiling.

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