Pregnancy: The Good The Bad & The Ugly

Pregnancy is an amazing process, like no other, and I was lucky enough to feel pretty darn good for the majority of this time…with some definite exceptions. I realize that many women have it a lot worse (and a lot better) than me, this is just my own experience. At the end of the day, all of these pregnancy symptoms are nothing compared to the gift that we’re about to get as a result. With that said, let’s get real about growing a baby, shall we?

First trimester:

The GOOD: for whatever reason, I didn’t experience much nausea in the beginning. In fact, I’m happy to say that my entire pregnancy, I’ve probably been nauseous about ten times total. Sure, I experienced other “stuff,” (keep reading) but not so much of this classic symptom. The best part about the first trimester was the realization that I actually had a baby growing inside me! It wasn’t easy getting pregnant, (thanks to birth control throwing my hormones off) so we are that much more thankful that it did happen. Though it was still our little secret during the first trimester, I spent it on cloud nine just thinking about our baby-to-be!

The BAD: the first 13 weeks of pregnancy consisted of lots and lots and lots of naps. Everything made me exhausted, even sleeping. I didn’t stand a chance against this kind of tired – by early afternoon, my eyes were closing and my bed was calling…pretty much everyday. I guess growing a human is exhausting. Luckily, I was able to schedule nap time after getting everything done earlier in the day, so I often gave in, listened to my body, and napped like crazy.

The UGLY: instead of the typical nausea, my ‘ugly’ pregnancy symptom was much less common, but equally uncomfortable. Apparently, when baby starts to grow and push on internal organs, but still isn’t  large enough for everything to find its place in there, things can get a little ‘mixed up.’ Not once, but twice early on in pregnancy, I ended up in the ER with a distended bladder, meaning that my bladder had stretched out and was not able to contract to pee like normal. I had to get a catheter in order to drain my bladder. Twice. Told you it was ugly…

Second trimester:

The GOOD: sharing our baby news was definitely the highlight of the second trimester. At the 12/13 week marks, odds of miscarriage greatly reduce, so that is when people typically let the cat out of the bag. We shared the news with our families and close friends earlier on with much excitement. We even got all corny and put a ‘bun in the oven’ for our friends to find when we invited them over for drinks (seltzer for me…always seltzer for me.) After the three month mark, I shared on OHH and social media. At the beginning of the second trimester, I didn’t really look so pregnant yet, but soon after, strangers would start to comment, ask, or congratulate me. That made me realize that my body and my baby were really growing, that this process was really happening. Best of all, towards the end of the second trimester, I began to feel baby girl moving around inside me which is, by far, the coolest feeling in the whole wide world.

The BAD: the end of the first trimester and most of the second trimester was like one long aversion to meat. I typically get a good amount of protein from poultry, meat, and fish, so my diet was thrown off…not to mention my ability to cook dinner. The hubs definitely got the short end of the stick on that one…While we’re on the topic, I should mention that while I didn’t really experience abnormal cravings, my body definitely wanted more fresh fruit and refreshing smoothies. One thing that I’ve had every single day during my pregnancy is avocado and I’m pretty sure that habit will not stop with baby’s arrival 🙂

The UGLY: here’s another weird and ugly symptom for ya, as I seem to be the queen of them! After a perfect report at the dentist just a week prior, I started to notice that my bottom gum felt like it was splitting from my teeth and that there was some space there that wasn’t there before. Sure enough, it was the very start of pregnancy gingivitis. I was pretty shocked as I try to take really good care of my teeth, but apparently it’s not uncommon. Luckily, with daily flossing and mouthwash, this went away within a few weeks and hasn’t returned.

Third Trimester:

The GOOD: the best part about my pregnancy is that I’ve been able to continue to work out and stay active the whole time, which is pretty huge for my sanity and happiness! Fingers crossed that this continues these last few weeks leading up to the big day as I’ve heard that continued exercise can pay off during labor. Don’t get me wrong, I take things pretty easy, don’t let my heart-rate get very high, and rarely break a sweat, but the continued movement has been great for my well-being, mentally and physically.

While I don’t push myself the way that I used to, I have been able to continue jogging, spinning, yoga, light weight-lifting, and circuit training, while really listening to my body and taking it slow. If something hurts, or just doesn’t feel right, I stop. For the most part, working out always makes me feel much better, so I keep doing it. With additional size comes a bit more difficulty, so I imagine that things may slow down over these next few weeks and that’s o.k. too. At a minimum, daily walks and prenatal yoga help to get the blood pumping and are better than nothing!

I was also very relieved when my doctor accommodated my request to avoid the glucose drink (full of sugar and genetically modified ingredients) to test for gestational diabetes; he did a simple blood test to evaluate my sugar levels and rule out GD. Thanks, doc!

The BAD: in addition to the exhaustion, extra weight, constant trips to the restroom, swelling, nerve pain, stretching skin, and all else that comes along with the third trimester, I also had quite the scare. At 37 weeks pregnant, I was going about my day, feeling absolutely fine when all of the sudden, I felt an intense pain in my back. I happened to be in the pharmacy when this came on and actually had to fall to the ground as the pain prevented me from standing or walking. After causing quite a commotion, (Sag Harbor Pharmacy’s staff is the best and took such good care of me!) my husband arrived and we went to the hospital…wondering…are these contractions? Is the baby coming?! Fast forward hours later and it turns out that the pain was the result of a kidney stone. Apparently, they can be common during pregnancy (although I’ve never heard anyone else I know getting so lucky!) So, that was a crazy day. Although the bad was not fun at all, it’s nothing compared to the ugly…

The UGLY: if you thought that the catheter, gingivitis, and kidney stone were ugly, just you wait! Trimester three kicked off with the start of an itchy rash on my growing belly. The rash soon got worse and spread. And then it got even worse and continued to spread. Just when I thought that it couldn’t get any worse, it got worse and spread…until it was pretty much all over me, completely unbearable, and totally debilitating. At its worst, I couldn’t sleep, had no appetite, was an emotional mess, and struggled to focus on the baby…or anything but the rash. Known as “PUPPPS” (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) or “PEP,” (Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy) there is very little known about this horrible diagnosis.

I tried herbal treatments, topical steroids, antihistamines, biopsies, oatmeal baths, moisturizers, minimizing my wardrobe to a few select cotton shirts, and doing anything I could to get some rest and relief. Six or seven weeks of absolute misery finally lead to some relief in the dose of oral Prednisone. As someone who hates taking medication and prefers living life holistically, I was so torn about trying all of these drugs, but was too desperate not to. I trusted that my doctors would not put baby at risk and thankfully, the Prednisone helped to make life bearable again, so that I could return my attention to happily growing baby.

We still don’t know much more than the fact that pregnancy can cause the immune system to lash out (aka rash out) and the only known solution, along with some meds, is to hang in there until baby arrives, when things should clear up pretty quickly thereafter. So, that’s the plan…

My best efforts point to what I know: food. Desperate for some relief, I’ve minimized gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and caffeine in an attempt to tame this beast. Although my diet is pretty clean and healthy, I’m committed to doing my best to rule out anything that may be causing extra inflammation. I’ve definitely noticed that my symptoms worsen after consuming cheese, so I’ve broken up with cheese until further notice. While I’ve never really been a huge cheese lover, (I prefer peanut butter…by the spoonful) pregnancy has me craving fresh mozzarella and I’ve always been a fan of plain Greek yogurt. While they sure are tasty, it’s just not, at all, worth it.

PUPPPS affects one in every 200-300 pregnancies. When I was at my worst and I hadn’t slept well in weeks, I constantly wondered WHY ME?! But then I would remind myself that everyone is dealing with something, whatever it may be, and to keep my eye on the prize, a beautiful, healthy blessing <3 Fortunately, all of the wild and crazy symptoms I experienced affected me and not really the baby. Although times got tough, I wouldn’t change taking it for the team for anything. Some women love being pregnant, others hate it. My feelings on pregnancy are bitter sweet, as you can now imagine. That will never change the fact that I am 1,000% positive that it will all be worth it in the end when baby girl is here! The countdown is on!

One Healthy Breakdown: nothing good in life comes easy, right? Babies included.

Ya Snooze, Ya Lose

You’ve heard it a hundred times: 8 hours of sleep a night! Let’s face it – for most of us, that’s almost impossible really, really, really hard….

MP900181418…but now that these adorable puppies got your attention, let’s talk about why sleep is SO important! It’s not just about feeling rested (although isn’t that such a great feeling?!) Sleep, along with hydration and nutrition, make our bodies efficient, from the inside out to our very top layer of skin cells. Lets uncover all of the benefits of sleep, including, yes, you guessed it: weight loss.MP900385227

Sleep literally creates energy, so we function efficiently in all walks of life, at all stages of life, from the classroom to the gym, at the office, with our families, and beyond. Healthy sleep aids brain functioning, memory, creativity, and focus to ensure we’re on our A game. With a big exam or job interview approaching, the smart thing is to spend those wee hours sleeping instead of cramming.

The immune system is most efficient at prevent illness and disease with ample sleep. Sleep also controls inflammation and balances hormones linked to mood, stress, weight, and appetite. The likelihood of losing weight and keeping it off long-term is far increased by good quality sleep.

With ample sleep, we’re able to efficiently metabolize food, absorb nutrients, cleanse toxins, rebuild muscles, strengthen bones, and control our appetite. That’s right, the difference between a poor night’s sleep and a good night’s sleep can be the difference between choosing healthy foods and…not. Hormones that cue hunger and fullness are thrown off by lack of sleep, as are cortisol levels, causing unnecessary stress, which also adds to weight gain, and the vicious cycle repeats.

Along with healthy eating, regular exercise, and emotional balance, we can become better versions of ourselves with the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Like recharging a battery or filling up a car with gas, sleep is the ammunition that fuels our bodies, a huge factor in mental, physical, and emotional health. If we ALL got enough sleep, imagine the possibilities…!

One Healthy Breakdown: Do your body right – get your eight hours tonight!

Seven Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

I can’t be the only one around here with a serious sweet tooth. Move over salty snacks, it’s sweetness I’m craving 99% of the time. Since (added) sugar contains nothing good for the body, here are some healthier ways to satisfy that sweet tooth, sans the sugar high or slump!

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  • Fruit (“nature’s candy!” eat fruit fresh, frozen, dried, or even dipped in dark chocolate)
  • Sip on tea with honey
  • Go for a latte or coffee
  • Combine seltzer, fresh fruit, and a dash of stevia for a sparkling sweet drink
  • Make a healthy smoothie or some yummy banana froyo
  • Mix plain Greek yogurt with a little cinnamon, vanilla extract, and stevia
  • Try trail mix or homemade granola

One Healthy Breakdown: tame your sweet tooth without damaging your teeth or your waistline!

Food Guilt Be Gone!

Kiley’s Intro: Eating my way through Italy has me thinking a lot about food guilt and lack thereof. Everything tastes better here (of course it does, it’s all fresher than fresh, drizzled with olive oil, accompanied by wine, and followed by gelato!) Italy is pretty much foodie heaven and the focus seems to be on taste, pleasure, and indulgence instead of calories, weight-loss, and diet. What a refreshing change of pace.

FullSizeRenderAs a culture, we tend to infuse shame into indulging in culinary delicacies. We’re taught that sweets, carbs, and alcohol are “bad.” Therefore, instead of feeling happy after a pleasurable meal, we resort to guilt. Shame on us!

Fueling our bodies with nutrients is essential, but eating mindfully and satisfying cravings are also crucial for overall good health. So, how do we make this transformation and rid the guilt? Elise Museles’ (of Kale & Chocolate) provides us with some insightful tips on slowing down, eating mindfully, and replacing food shame with enjoyment…a concept the Italians have down pat!

Does this sound familiar…

I feel GUILTY when:

Indulging in unhealthy foods
Eating when I’m not really hungry
Making poor food choices
Indulging in comfort foods
Munching on sweets
Looking in the mirror

MP900182704And that guilt you feel? It puts your entire life on hold. Not to mention that it serves no useful or forward moving purpose.

Guilt zaps every ounce of energy you have. It drops you into an endless array of stress and pressure. It forces you into a constant battle between your body and your mind.

The minute you introduce guilt into your world, your inner critic becomes the loudest voice in the room. Suddenly, your mind turns into an evil villain – spouting harsh judgments that you instantly start to believe.

Here’s what I know:

Paying attention to your inner critic won’t help you lose weight.
Hating your body isn’t going to get you any closer to looking like a million bucks.
Always thinking “I should” do something will lead to nothing but stress and disappointment.

Are you ready to take the power away from the voices in your head and put it back in your body? Here’s how: you need to show your body some respect by learning to listen to it. Your body is smart. It has a lot to tell you … if you really tune in.

Going through life at warp speed and focusing on your never-ending to-do list, pushing and pushing to get everything done…will never rid you of guilt. Why? Because you’re too busy being a human doing rather than a human being, which prevents you from tuning in…and keeps you from making choices that are in alignment with what your body really needs.

Think about it. If you’re in go-go-go mode:

How can you really know if you’re hungry?
How do you notice the signals that you’re full or satiated?
How do you understand what your cravings really mean?
How do you experience a pleasurable meal and savor all the goodness?
How do you take in all the sensations when you barely have time to chew?

What’s the result of not listening to your body? Oftentimes, a big old serving of guilt.

Your ultimate goal is to find ways to slow down so that you can be more intentional and mindful to create the space to listen to your body. Instead of eating your meal mindlessly while standing up, try sitting down and noticing the smells, the flavors, the tastes and textures. Instead of beating yourself up for wanting the chocolate chip cookie, try paying attention to why you might be having cravings.
Instead of assuming that you need to finish your plate and then feeling uncomfortably full, try putting down your fork and checking in with yourself mid-meal.

guiltOne Healthy Breakdown: When you tune into the wisdom of your body and allow your actions to follow suit, you’re much more likely to make guilt-free choices with food… and beyond.

*Elise Museles is an attorney turned Certified Eating Psychology & Nutrition Expert. She helps women stuck in a motivation-to-frustration cycle adopt a more joyful & positive approach to nourishment that starts with the food on the plate, but ultimately extends to all areas of life. Enter a delicious world full of freedom, ease, and fun at Kale & Chocolate. For daily inspiration, join Elise on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kaleandchocolate.

Happy National Kale Day!

image(9)Today is the day. Wednesday, October 2nd officially marks the celebration of…KALE! Yes, kale is everywhere. Kale is trendy. Kale is crunchy. Kale is the king of superfoods. If you haven’t jumped on the kale train, you just may reconsider once you’ve tried the classic green juice’s indulgent, crunchy, yummy-in-my-tummy friend, kale chips!

Yummy (in my tummy) Kale Chips: Preheat oven to 325 degrees and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut stems off one head of kale, wash and dry. Cut into pieces and spread out on cookie sheet. Massage kale with coconut oil (no more than a tablespoon total.) Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes or until crisps. Let cool and serve as chips. So crispy, so light, so healthy…SO good! For more clean, lean green recipes, sign up for One Healthy Hamptons’ Fab Fall Cleanse!

One Healthy Breakdown: National Kale Day – let the celebration begin!