the thomas twins birth story

I wish I could tell you that we made it to 38 weeks with no complications, but alas, I can not. It was a Thursday morning, I was 37 weeks pregnant and heading to the doctor for our last appointment before my scheduled c section. I was scheduled for an NST (non-stress test) and then we were scheduled to meet with the male doctor in the practice (we had never met him before). My blood pressure reading was over 160 during the NST, and the doctor was concerned that I was developing pre-eclampsia, so after speaking with my primary OB, they decided that I should go to the hospital and that I may be having the twins that day.IMG_7693

When we left the doctors office we decided to go straight home to pack our bags just in case. Walking into our apartment, I grabbed my dog and I sobbed. I’m still not sure why I cried at that moment; fear of delivering sooner than I had expected, sadness for having to leave my dogs, fear that if something happened to me during surgery and I didn’t not survive, I wouldn’t be around for my pets or these babies that I held inside me for so long, fear of the unknown, or a combination of it all. What I do know is that I wasn’t crying because I was happy.

When we arrived at the hospital, the nurse was very sweet and kept everything pretty lighthearted. She was the same nurse that we had met during our hospital tour so I was immediately comforted by a familiar face. They strapped my belly back up to the NST monitor and monitored my blood pressure for over an hour. All of my readings were normal, and after about 3 hours they sent us home with the expectation that we would come back on Saturday for more monitoring and that I would no longer go to work as I needed to limit stress.

Saturday (37 weeks, 3 days pregnant) we arrived at the hospital for more monitoring. Another few hours on the NST and blood pressure monitors and I continued to have normal readings. They sent us home with the expectation to go into the doctors office on Monday for a blood pressure check.

Monday (37 weeks, 5 days pregnant) morning I decided that I wasn’t going to the doctors office for the check. I was feeling fine and resting. My C section was scheduled for that Thursday (38 weeks, 1 day) and unless I began feeling signs of high blood pressure (headache, visual changes) I was going to just stay home and relax.

Wednesday night, we made sure that everything was packed in the car for Thursday morning. We had to be at the hospital at 5:30am for my scheduled C section at 7:30am so we wanted to be sure that we had everything packed and ready to go.

(I’ll make a post all about what was in our hospital bags, what we actually used and what we could have done without, at a later date.)

That night, we got a few hours of sleep but I was so uncomfortable from being so large that good sleep was not something I was accustomed to nor something that happened – at least for me. I was focused on making sure my husband slept because it was very important to me that he was well rested so that he could be there 100% present when these babies came into the world.

We arrived at the hospital a little after 5:30am on Thursday, March 1st, 2018. It was still dark out when we got there but I do remember it was a little chilly. We parked the car and walked in. At the front desk the security guard sent us right up to the 6th floor (the maternity floor) of the hospital where we checked in with our nurses and was brought right into the OR prep/recovery area. An IV catheter was placed and two or three nurses asked me many of the same questions – to say that I felt like I was being interrogated is an understatement, but they were all very nice. IMG_7886They asked about family history, medical history, if I felt unsafe at home, and all of the typical “being admitted to the hospital” questions. Before surgery the one nurse shaved the area that would be where my incision would be, after I apologized for not coming in clean shaven but I just couldn’t see/reach and figured they’d do a much better job than I would anyway (she laughed and said not to worry, as most people don’t). Around 7:15am my doctor arrived and had me sign a consent form for the surgery, and then she went off to scrub in. I was wheeled off to the OR while my husband was kept right outside in the hall while I was prepped. The nurses and anesthesiologist were great and held my hand/talked me through all of it. I was asked to sit on the OR table and lean over where the nurse stood in front of me to help keep me calm and help push my shoulders down. Apparently when you are tense, you scrunch up your shoulders which makes it difficult for the spinal to be placed. The anesthesiologist talked to me about what he was doing, and walked me through each step which I greatly appreciated since I couldn’t see what was happening. The lidocaine was an unexpected painful few injections. I don’t remember offhand how many there were but there were quite a few times where he said “just a little pinch, warmth, stinging.” I’m not too sure when the spinal needle actually went in because the lidocaine did its’ job with great success but I do remember not being able to move my feet. It’s a very hard thing to explain as I didn’t feel like they were missing, I just couldn’t move them. They laid me on my back and began prepping for surgery. The anesthesiologist and nurses put up the blue drape, strapped my arms down out the side (more on that later), and set up my IV fluids and monitors. Immediately I started asking for my husband, and they brought him in moments later. He sat down next to me on my left side and held my left hand. I started feeling very nauseous, and was having trouble breathing. The anesthesiologist said it was from the spinal and put a little kidney pan next to my face on the right side so I could vomit (which I did, multiple times) and kept assuring me that I would feel better and it would be ok. I’m not sure if they gave me zofran but I did begin feeling better soon after but felt like I was in a bit of a haze which honestly worried me that I was losing too much blood and was going to pass out (thankfully I did not). In the few moments that had passed after that, I asked my husband if he could see anything to which he replied that he wasn’t looking. I could see the reflection of what was happening in the surgical light above me, so I wanted to be sure he was okay and wasn’t going to pass out on me. I kept asking him if he was okay and of course he said yes. I remember the doctor saying “she’s having surgery and she’s asking if he’s okay? How sweet these two are” and the doctors (yes I had two – Dr Kleban and Dr Jhang) having conversation about their weekend plans. I remember laughing and saying to my husband “are they really just having conversation like we aren’t even here?” Soon after one of the nurses said “Dad, are you ready with your camera? Baby A is about to be born” followed by some “oh look at him” and the first of what would be MANY cries from our first born son. They immediately took him over the to warmers where they announced his weight at 5lbs 6oz, and his length at 18.5”. Seconds later the same nurse said “dad, do you have your camera?” Followed by cries that sounded almost identical to the first babies, from our second born, our daughter.IMG_8069

My sight was very limited as I could only see my husband, who was bright red with tears of shear joy streaming down his face and lots of people surrounding the two warming beds weighting, measuring and cleaning off our babies. They announced that Baby B was also 5lbs 6oz and measured 19”.  The nurses then asked what their names were. Our response: Baby A is Declan Gerard Thomas, and Baby B is Teagan Marie Thomas. Soon after they had left Declan in his warming bed pretty much alone and all of the nurses and baby doctors were with Teagan.  They explained to us that she was having some breathing issues which were totally normal for the second baby of twins to have and they were going to bring her to the nursery to be monitored. At this point the nurse distracted me by bringing over our son to take some photos of him next to my face. She took my glasses off which made me annoyed and I told her to put them back because I am never without my glasses, plus I can’t see without my glasses and I wanted to see my son.

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He was then swaddled and put in the bassinet for Daddy to wheel out while I was moved back to the recovery room where we could do skin to skin and begin trying to breastfeed. Soon after, we were informed that she was being transferred to the NICU for monitoring but would hopefully only be there for a few hours. We had to wait until she was settled in the NICU before my husband could go see her, so we spent that time with our baby boy, worried for her, but excited to be spending time with him. Once he was able to, he went to visit Teagan in the NICU. Little did we know, she wouldn’t leave the NICU until Sunday.

The following few days were a bit of a blur between visitors coming in and out, our daughter being in the NICU, settling into this new role as parents, and dealing with post operative pain management.

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… Stay tuned for more on our hospital stay, my thoughts on my c section recovery, being first time parents of multiples, and breastfeeding twins! 

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Pugs, Push-ups, and infertility?

There’s no doubt that the things I like are pretty straightforward – fitness and animals are kind of my thing… but babies?? Growing up I never saw myself as a mother. I mean, sure I imagined being old and having children that were older taking care of me but I never thought about being pregnant or birthing children myself. My husband and I spoke once in the beginning of our relationship about how lovely it would be to be able to adopt a child from Haiti (my husband is Haitian and Dominican) but up until a year ago the thought of having my own seemed unrealistic.

There’s a lot of reason for this I suppose; when I was 12 I was a victim of rape. He was a man who I knew and thought that I had trusted, the years following were some of my darkest. I had zero self-esteem or self-confidence and I looked towards men for the answers, for the love and acceptance that I didn’t give myself. It wasn’t until I had completely given up on relationships that I found my (now) husband. You see, I spent a good 18 years being pretty stupid. I was on birth control for only a short part of that because it was making me feel sick and I didn’t like it. When I was in college I experienced what I thought at the time to be a miscarriage while on birth control (the patch). I’m not sure if I’ve made up my mind as I’ve gotten older that it wasn’t, or that I am just really unsure about what it was and the doctor couldn’t fully answer my questions since I waited too long to go visit out of fear that my suspicions were true. Anyway, that was the absolute only time I have ever experienced even the slight possibility that I may have at some point been pregnant in my over 20 years since my first menses. That’s a lot of months!

Over the last 8.5 years my husband and I (who have been married for 4.5 years) have been having unprotected sex (sorry if that’s TMI.. but you clicked on the post about infertility .. if that was too much I suggest you look away now). We have had times where I’ve thought it were possible that I was pregnant, even went to the doctor because I swore I was twice! The first time the nurse made me feel horrible laughing at me because I was there for a confirmation when I had not gotten a positive on a home test. The second time I had gotten one (what looked like positive) but no other test was positive. The doctor confirmed that I was not pregnant but was hopeful that it was just a chemical pregnancy which means there’s hope that I could conceive.

In April 2013 I had a TV (transvaginal) ultrasound after a car accident that had found some incidental findings on my CT scan. In January 2016 I had another TV ultrasound which came back basically normal except for two small myomas in my uterus (the doctor called these fibroids but the scan report said benign myomas – the doctor also told me that these should not affect my ability to become pregnant). The ultrasound also showed follicles which means I have eggs — but does not mean that they are being released or that they are mature when they are being released. Anyway, we were sent off to try for a year, the doctor said since I was under 30 years old we should try for a year and that most couples are successful when they really try (not just once or twice a month) after 6 months.

Six months came and went and I spent many mornings peeing on ovulation predictor test strips, temping using a basal thermometer, and tracking every little twinge and tickle I felt. After about 8 months of getting my hopes up and then getting let down I began to take Vitex, a supplement that is supposed to help lengthen your LP (luteal phase). The only difference I noticed with vitex was that my cycles went from 30-33 days to 29/30 days long and I began to get more fertile cervical mucous (sorry, I warned you).

This month marks our 1 year mark. 1 year of trying. 12 months of doing everything we can think of to try to have a baby, 9 months of buying ovulation predictor test strips, 6 months of tracking my temperature (I wasn’t consistent with this one) and 4 months of taking vitex (This last month I actually just took it when I remembered as I started to think it wasn’t doing much). We’ve timed everything to a T and been let down time and time again.

Next steps:  My husband has an appointment for semen analysis on December 9th. My OB didn’t want us to do it right away even though I insisted. I’m pretty sure it’s better that we didn’t because my husband just came around to the idea and is really nervous. He’s beginning to think he’s the problem – even though I still think it’s me. It’s so hard not to think it’s you when you’ve been “able” to conceive for over 20 years, 18 of those years you were pretty promiscuous, and you have never actually been pregnant, at least not to your knowledge. Last night while I was unable to sleep I purchased 25 HCT tests from Amazon. They are planned to arrive on Tuesday so I will be taking one on Wednesday morning which will be 13dpo (days post ovulation) and 2-3 days before my expected AF (aunt flow/period).

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Although I love fitness, it’s not a secret that I’ve struggled with both my nutrition and my weight. I’ve also struggled with consistency in my workouts especially this year while TTC. In an attempt to do everything in my power to conceive I’ve decided to try to take a more plant-based approach to my eating style. Over the last few days it’s been pretty easy because I’ve really wanted this beet burrito at the local taco/mexican place. It has beets, goat cheese, rice and beans, salsa verde, and spinach. I’ve wanted it so much that I decided to recreate it today! It wasn’t nearly as good but it definitely hit the spot!  I’m not going to make assumptions but it is kind of weird that I want beets. They aren’t exactly a food that I eat often – but it’s so hard to say with my food cravings and eating habits because I have a long history of weird eating habits.

As I’m writing this I’m 10dpo. The last two nights I’ve had a lot of trouble sleeping, 8 and 9 dpo I felt like I couldn’t spend 5 minutes without having to pee. Yesterday I was exhausted and had this funny feeling – not necessarily nausea but something was very uneasy about my stomach. Today I have felt pretty good. I’ve had a bit of cramping/pressure in my right lower abdomen, this morning I had to urinate more but after I taught my class at the gym I haven’t had to pee more than normal I don’t think. I did have a burst of energy today – I wonder if it’s possible to nest way before you even know you’re pregnant! (that’s sort of a joke, sort of not). I cleaned my living room and moved my furniture in preparation of the Christmas tree going up (it’s supposed to go up tonight)! I cooked lunch (those beet burritos! So yum!) and I’m even doing laundry! It’s only 6pm but I don’t feel very tired today like I have the last two days. The only other random thing is that my nose was very stuffy the last two days but today it was running during my class and has been clear since. I really try not to symptom spot but this month we really did pull out almost all of the stops. We timed our intercourse perfectly, and I got the most positive OPK I’ve gotten all year! I can’t help but think how wonderful it would be if we could announce our pregnancy on Christmas day. How wonderful it would be to become a mom. How wonderful it would be to bring a child into the world (regardless of how F’d up it is these days) because I would love my child more than I’ve loved anything else in my entire life.

Well, this is the first blog I’ve written about our TTC journey and although I look forward to the updates, I am nervous that I will have to update this often in the future because I don’t know what lies ahead. We have discussed medical intervention and I think we’re prepared to do more testing first, to see if there’s a reason why we have been unable to conceive – starting with semen analysis. I am interested in finding out if those fibroids have grown, if my tubes are clear, if I’m ovulating appropriately, and if there is anything else we can do to be successful naturally. If we must, we would pursue IUI (intrauterine insemination) but IVF is not something either of us are prepared to do. I am also unsure if we would want to do clomid or any other medication that is supposed to help a woman ovulate because of the chances of multiples. I’m not sure multiples is something my husband and I are comfortable or prepared for (but please don’t get me wrong if we got pregnant and we had multiples I’d be in utter disbelief and extremely excited)!

I’ll end this here for now, I’ll know more about how much I’ll be updating once I know the results of that semen analysis and once I take this test on Wednesday morning to find out if I’m pregnant this month or not. If I am this blog series will surely be taking a bit of a turn (I can hope!!)

**Baby dust to all those TTC**

Update: this was supposed to be posted after the appointment on December 9th but I decided to post it sooner because my period came. I made an appointment with my OB on December 12th so we can start the conversation of what our next steps are. I will be starting a Youtube channel to document our journey to conceive starting with those two appointments and I will update here occasionally but I promised my husband that I would try to keep our story off the personal pages. I’ll update here with the story behind the youtube video’s I think — since some people would rather read and others would rather watch (I think?). Well, stay tuned for the updates as we’ll hopefully know more about where we stand in a week or two!

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GRIT, Sophie, and how I’ve been feeling lately

A lot has happened since my last post! So much that I keep thinking that I need to write a post about each individual thing and then I think that it would take me forever to do that! I figured I’d just start typing and see how much I get through – how’s that sound?

About two weeks ago I went to initial instructor training for Les Mills GRIT. If you’ve never heard of GRIT, it’s a high intensity interval training (HIIT) style class that’s 30 minutes long. The premise is quick bursts, followed by short rests, to burn fat fast! HIIT has been around for a long time, and has many benefits cardiovascularly as well as for your overall health! The weekend was long, grueling, and tiresome. My husband and I drove the three hours to West Chester University (in West Chester, PA) early Saturday morning to arrive at a quarter to 8am so that I wouldn’t be late for training!

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The training modules are two days long from 8am – 6pm, and include learning about the company, learning to choreography for the class, a physically demanding challenge, and teaching the choreography many times over the course of two days. After you have completed the two days you are given a grade out of 3.

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When the weekend was over, I had gained 10 new friends, was tired and sore, got a recipe for some amazing low carb/gluten free cookies, and passed with a 3/3!  After we were done on Sunday, my husband and I went to this burger place around the corner from the college and I had a huge burger with bacon and avocado!

The day after training I went to CrossFit (enter surprised smiley face here) and managed to complete the workout, but I was done for for the rest of the week! Exhausted really isn’t even the word!! Since training (which was about two weeks ago) I haven’t looked much at GRIT but after this weekend I plan to really practice and learn the choreography so that I can tape and pass to become a GRIT coach!

Later in the week last week, I went to an interview at another gym for both GRIT and Body Pump. They were interested in taking me on as a substitute instructor for now and willing to help me with my GRIT certification. I was very pleased with them and happy they want to help! I look forward to working with them and practicing! I am excited for what the future holds with these programs!!

This past week was actually a really rough week for me emotionally. At work we had a dog come in who appeared to have been hit by a car, she’s paralyzed in her hind end and had no microchip. A good samaritan brought her in, and with no known home we began calling shelters and rescues. Due to the nature of her condition none of the shelters would take her but we were hopeful in one rescue who said they had to call us back. I felt horrible, she was emaciated, and clearly mistreated. Depsite all of this she was extremely gentle and sweet.

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There’s no surprise that I fell in love with her at first sight!! They named her “Cali” and then changed it to “Joy” but I felt she needed a better name. I didn’t think Joy was appropriate so I began thinking of names for her. She spent one night in the hospital and the next day I came to work and asked what was going to happen to her. The doctor said that if they couldn’t find a rescue they would have to euthanize her. That just could not happen. I asked to take her home that night to buy her some time and so that I  could think of something to do. They told me a rescue had called but had to rearrange some things and would be calling the following day to let them know if they could take her or not.

When I got her home she ran inside as if she knew we were home! She smelt my whole apartment and took an interest in my boy Charlie. Where he went, she went. Charlie is kind hearted and wouldn’t hurt a fly so he quickly took her under his wing. She slept comfortably on my couch next to me snuggled up to my leg, melting my heart with each and every deep breath that she img_9827took. She was comfortable, home, and it showed in her demeanor that she was no longer scared, but happy to be in a warm home in a “bed” (my couch) with a loving human and friendly dogs. While I watched her sleep, the name Sophie (which mean wisdom) came to mind. I lovelingly named her Sophie.

The following day, I brought her back to work as she’s special needs and couldn’t be left home alone all day. Around 12pm I was informed that a rescue was coming to pick her up at 2pm and she was scheduled for an MRI the following day. I was prepared for this, but my heart was broken. I knew that it was best for her, but I wanted to take care of her, I wanted her to be mine. Saying goodbye to Sophie was one of the hardest things I’ve done in quite a long time. I know that she was getting the medical care she needed, that I would not have been able to give her right away, and she would be safe and free from euthanasia, but my heartached and I img_9839felt like the wind had been knocked out of me with the news that my sweet girl would not be coming home with me again.

Sophie had an MRI the following day and it showed that she has spinal inflammation likely caused by trauma and she was prescribed physical therapy. Sophie may or may not walk again, but the rescue is willing to give her the chance. If you’re moved by Sophie’s story – please considering donating to Oliver’s Orphan Oasis at www.gofundme.com/ooohelp.

 

If you read the explaination of Sophie’s story on that go fund me account, that tear-filled tech — yea that was me! Damn, I really fell hard for that girl!! She is such a sweet sweet girl, and will need a furever home. If you want to feel the love of a rescue pet please consider adopting Sophie, or another baby who needs a home!

I’ve had quite an interesting week between Sophie, my tire going flat on the parkway to work, getting peed on and bitten by a cat, and feeling like the world is out to get me. I really hope that next week is better, and that whatever is going on with all this negativity stops soon!!

On a good note – 41 days til I turn 30! I’m not sure why that’s exciting, butIMG_9871.JPG I like my birthday, and I look forward to another year older – hopefully I can continue to grow as a group fitness instructor, continue to grow as a person, and maybe just maybe become a parent — I was hopeful that this last one would have happened sooner but looks like someone has different plans for us!

Heres to learning Body Pump 99, GRIT 18, and hopefully having a better week!!

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Puppy Up Foundation – Dog Walk

Today, Charlie, Miley and I went to the 3rd annual Puppy Up! fun dog walk in New Paltz, NY at the Adair Vineyards. The Puppy Up Foundation is dedicated to finding the links between canine and human cancers – through education, awareness, and investment in research, they are commited to finding these links as well as the causes of cancer for both human and canine patients alike.

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Although Charlie doesn’t have cancer (and neither does Miley – I should note), we went to support both my job, my coworkers who have pets who have undergone chemotherapy, and the doctor that I work for – Dr. Sue Ettinger!

Dr. Sue Ettinger is known as Dr. Sue Cancer Vet, she co-wrote a book, speaks all over the country, and is a real advocate for canine (and feline) cancer – she loves her job and her patients! Dr. Sue spoke to the crowd about what it means to be an oncologist, why she loves it, and spoke about her passion — her new campaign — “See Something, Do Something – Why Wait, Aspirate!” Basically, there were never any real guidelines for lumps and bumps – how long do you wait? How big should it be before it gets looked at? So she set out to answer these questions with the See Something, Do Something – Why Wait, Aspirate campaign. If a lump is the size of a pea (about half the size of a penny) and has been there for more than a month, the new recommendation is that you bring your pet (this is not exclusively for dogs!) to your veterinarian to have it aspirated and have those cells sent to the lab for analysis.

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During the day, I had many people come up and ask me questions about their dog – one man spoke to me about his dog with two large lumps on his neck that his General Practitioner (GP) Veterinarian told him was cancer, but had never done an aspiration. The aspiration is not that big of a deal, doesn’t hurt, and can save an owner a lot of pain, suffering, and money in the long run! In general many times surgery alone can be curative if a malignant cancer (this is not a death sentence — quite the opposite if caught early) is found early.

After Dr. Sue’s speach, some announcements, and the honoring of both a canine and human cancer survivor, the walk began!

Of course Charlie didn’t last long and needed to be carried almost immediately!! But Dr. Ettingers son came to my rescue and walked Miley while I carried Charlie for two laps around the vineyard!

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One of the best parts about my job, and going to events like this is seeing the survivors! It just so happens that one of my coworkers, and a great friend of mine – Heather’s dog Hogan recently finished his chemotherapy protocol for lymphoma. Hogan went through his entire 19 weeks with little to no issues (except maybe a change in tastes which means he got to eat more of whatever he wanted)! Hogan is such an amazing dog, if it weren’t for his puppy cut hairdo (his hair didn’t really grow back after a haircut mid-treatment but should start to grow back now that he’s off of chemotherapy) and his bandana’s you’d never know that he had cancer!

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Hogan enjoyed his walk with all of his friends today and really enjoyed this photo op!! Throughout the walk there were either In Memory posters or Survivor posters of both humans and canines alike. One of the owners of a patient we had seen was also there and found me to talk to me about her dog and where the family is now after their loss of their sweet boy. She has rescued two dogs since the passing of her boy, and now with a newfound understanding of what it is like to lose a pet to cancer – supports foundations like PuppyUp! It was sad, but it was nice to see that she seems to be in a good place and happy.

After the walk we watched the police dogs do their presentation – it’s always cool to see what they are capable of. And to our surprise there was a pitbull as a police dog! This was exciting because it shows the public that pitbulls are not all fighting, scary dogs. They can be trained, they are smart, loyal, and even play frisbee (as the police pitbull abptly showed off his skills after the demonstration right before he ran into the food truck to beg for treats!).

All in all today was a great day, we helped to raise money for the Puppy Up Foundation, got some exercise, enjoyed a day with our team, and even got to taste some really good wine (and some of us even bought a bottle or two — or three)!

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For more information on The Puppy Up foundation head to puppyup.orgfullsizerender

  • Do you or someone you know have a pet with cancer?
  • What is your favorite foundation to give to?
  • What is your favorite type of wine?

 

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Couples Workout!

They say that couples that workout together stay together! We used to workout together all of the time, but in the last few years we have “gone our separate ways” – he, towards body building, me, to crossfit and group fitness. Although we still workout together occasionally, this work out felt like old times!

Yesterday, my husband asked me if we could go to the track because he has been feeling like he really needs to up his cardio. He’s gotten stronger at the gym, lifting weights he once only dreamed of, but it’s become apparent that he gets winded doing simple things and that has got to stop. So we headed to the track!

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1 lap around the track
50 walking lunges (25 each leg)
1 lap around the track
50 air squats
1 lap around the track
20 burpees
1 lap around the track
20 push-ups
1 lap around the track
20 burpees
1 lap around the track
50 air squats
1 lap around the track
50 walking lunges (25 each leg)
1 lap around the track

It was harder than I anticipated but it was really great to work together and help push each other. We were really driving each other to do more and to work harder! After the workout we played around and I did some hand stands – nothing like practicing being upside down after a long workout! Then we stretched and headed home!

It was really nice to be out there together. He seemed genuinely interested in some functional fitness, but did say he’d never make it at crossfit.. who knows, maybe after a few of these track workouts he’ll be more interested in getting stronger in different ways!!

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  • Do you work out with your significant other?
  • What are your favorite workouts to do together?
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Baked Zucchini Chips

I don’t often post recipes, but this one has become a staple in my house! Now that I’ve perfected it, I think it’s time to share!! 


Ingredients:

1-2 organic green zucchini

Himalayan Sea Salt and pepper to taste

Avocado oil, coconut oil or olive oil spray

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 230degrees (or just a hair higher than 225!) 

2. Slice zuchini thin, using a mandolin on the smaller setting is best (in my humble opinion)

I bought my mandoline slicer from Aldi for 4.99$ – best purchase ever!

3. Spray olive oil spray (or coat pan with oil of choice using a paper towel to spread oil thinly) on large baking sheet (may use parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean up) 

4. Lay out zucchini slices. It’s ok if they overlap as they will get smaller when baked, try not to layer too much if your slices are thicker

5. Salt and pepper lightly – since they get smaller once baked be careful not to put too much or they will be too overpowering. You can also use a seasoning of your choice! 

6. Bake in oven for 1hr, check that they are brown, but not burnt. If your slices are thicker or uneven, check every 10-15 minutes after that. If very uneven, take out baked ones and leave the rest until they are all a brownish color. 

7. Let cool and eat! 
What’s your favorite recipe?

Would you like to see more recipes posted on here? 

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Today we said goodbye

Today we said goodbye to one of our beloved patients. As a licensed veterinary technician who works in an oncology (cancer) department, I often hear the Oncologist quote things like “with [his type of cancer] the median survival rate without treatment is 3 months and with treatment: 12-18 months.” “T”, as I will call him to give his family the privacy and respect they deserve, outlived those statistics living to a staggering 31 months after his diagnosis! 


T was one of those dogs that everyone was scared of when he first came in, a breed that tends to be “not-so-nice” in the veterinary world, but I’m pretty sure it was love at first sight for me! His mom, tough as nails (just like me), his dad, a big teddy bear kinda guy who laughed despite wanting to cry. I met T right after his diagnosis, a scary time for his owners with a lot of unknowns. They were scared he might bite me when we met and insisted he wore a muzzle every time! Over time though, I showed them that their boy trusted me and that I understood him. In the last two years, we rarely ever muzzled him. 

He was one of those dogs that announced he was in the building, the kind of dog that would bark and bark until you gave him attention or treats! I fell in love with T and his family as each week/month/year passed. T truly has a special place in my heart. 


I’ve written about euthanasia before, and how hard it is for the veterinary technician to deal with the loss of someone else’s pet (so I’ll save the repeat post for another time). But, today that loss is as real as ever – it’s hard not to connect with animals especially when you see them so often and for so long. 

Today, as I saw those eyes, they were not the same as they have been in the past. His pain showed, his lungs struggling for air, my heart broken for him, for his family… I thought about all of the great times I had with T. All of the times I snuck away to hug him and give him extra treats, All the times I laughed with his mom about his quirks. Today, after we said goodbye, I cried, I sobbed, I even hugged multiple people (which is a clear indicator of how sad I was because of you know me, you know hugging just isn’t my thang).

T is sure to be one of the pets who leaves a stamp on my heart forever, one that I will likely shed tears for over and over again.

Tonight, I hope you hug your pets a little tighter… I know I will…. 

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Welcome back: CrossFit

That’s right, after three months, and no real financial change, I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter how much money I need to spend, I need to go back to crossFit for both my health and my sanity. 

CrossFit is more than just a gym, or a sport. It’s a community, a hard as F workout with a coach that’s monitoring your movements so that you don’t get hurt and so you get stronger. I love the variation, the camaraderie, and the challenge. I’ve spent the last few months really missing the members and the gym(box) as well as feeling a sense of deep seated anger that my husband didn’t give up his gym membership but I did so that we had some extra money – and nothing really changed in the way of finances, so clearly crossfit wasn’t the reason we had been struggling. 

Anyway.. I digress…

My first week back has been a doozy! 

On Monday the workout was literally 160+ lunges… So. Many. Lunges. And the assault bike which if you’ve ever rode on that thing you know that it would feel better to stick cleavers into your quads (too dramatic?). There were so many lunges on Monday that I still couldn’t walk right on Wednesday, but by Thursday I was able to walk better! 

Thursday I went back in and what was written on the board was a cruel joke .. It had to be… 1 mile run, 2000m row, 1 mile run…. 😑 …. I’m not a huge fan of running, mostly because I am not very good at it. But, I got through the workout and felt better about it at the end. I woke up in quite a crappy mood on Thursday morning so the second mile was hard mentally, it was difficult to get my head in the game and run for more than a few steps at a time. I finished the workout in 32:42 with a time cap of 35 minutes. I had planned to run the miles in around 10 minutes and the row in about 8:30 which didn’t workout but I was only about 4 minutes off. My first mile was 9:40, the row was about 9 minutes, and the rest of the 12 minutes was the mental mile that I barely ran. 

Overall I’m glad to be back, and plan to go tomorrow morning! The Festivus games are coming up in only a month and a half and it’s important I continue to get stronger and eat healthfully so that I can bring in my best for the comp! 

My ankle really hasn’t bothered me much this week which is great, although tonight I can’t say it’s been feeling great. Tomorrow I’m going to start stretching it after my workouts; doing specific stretches to help with mobility so I can squat better and take some pressure off this leg.

If anyone is wondering as a quick update more on this later  : I’m still gluten free and (mostly) paleo and feeling really good! 

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Liver, Sweet Potatoes, and Paleo!

My coworkers think it’s funny and ask me if everything is paleo. “Hey Suz, is this paleo?” “Hey Suz, I’m eating out of a plastic container – totally paleo right?” “We’re having Chinese food tomorrow, is Chinese food paleo?” It’s light hearted and makes me laugh, but it makes me think about how some nutrition strategies can be so foreign to some. Paleo is pretty simple, but it’s going to be a learning process – I’m sure I’ll be eating things that aren’t totally paleo – until I learn the ins and outs. Also, before really making the decision to remove gluten and follow a more paleo style I purchased some meal replacement bars that are low carb but definitely not gluten free or paleo, and a box of quest bars – that are gluten free but probably wouldn’t meet the paleo standards. Being that I don’t have a lot of extra money laying around and I literally can not stand the thought of wasting food, I plan to continue to eat these bars until they are gone, and then look for alternative quick meal bars for work. As a licensed vet tech (vet nurse) I often have to eat on the run, and meal replacement bars become a staple – it’s either that or eating the donuts that were brought by a client.

For more info on paleo click here. There’s a lot of info out there – a simple google search will do, but the website in the link above is pretty comprehensive and also has a link with research. 

For more info on gluten free I really suggest you read the book Wheat Belly by William Davis. It explains why one would consider taking wheat (gluten) out of their diet even if they do not have celiac disease.

Anyway, yesterday I mentioned that I was going to try to make a recipe with liver… Well, I made it, and it’s not bad! I only tasted it warm so I’ve put it in the fridge to cool so I can try it as the dip/pâté it’s meant to be! 


Want the recipe!!?? Check it out at healthfulpursuit.com it was a little bit messy but that’s because I don’t have a big blender! Shout out to my coworker Becca for the mason jar! 

For breakfast I had a beautiful veggie bowl that I concocted myself! I was so proud of myself I didn’t want to eat it it was so pretty! 


It consisted of alfalfa sprouts, kale and spinach sautéed with chopped onions, a half of a sweet potato, 1 egg, and 1 meatball that I got from the super market (it’s grassfed beef that comes in small round balls that I got at the local hannafords). It was so good! I’m really getting the hang of cooking! 

I ate my breakfast or first meal around 12, I wasn’t really hungry and sort of fasted without really intending to. Feels like eating this way will have me slowly and effortlessly easing into intermittent fasting as well. Anyway, I ate one of my bars for “lunch” and a few hours later had a banana and another bar. We were busy and a client brought us brownies so I was glad I had my bars as my emergency snack! 

For dinner I made some sweet potato and kale hash – I got the recipe from Fitfoodfinds.com and kind of just threw things in the hash – I didn’t have a red pepper so I used a green bell pepper, and I had some left over leeks from the liver pâté so I threw those in there! The balsamic really gave it the kick it needed at the end and I added some chicken legs marinated in a chipotle seasoning packet (I made sure it didn’t have sugar – it was a store brand). 


My husband loved dinner so much he had to post a photo on instagram! Ha! 

All in all today was a pretty good day. I actually wasn’t even hungry for dinner. I will say I have to lighten up on the coffee at work, I have small cups but 2-3 is a bit too much. I wasn’t tired today at all, so I’m not sure what that was about but I’m taking it one day at a time and will be better tomorrow! 

Well, that’s it! Gluten free and paleo journey is just beginning and I feel pretty good! I can tell my energy is much better, my inflammation feels less and I feel lighter. I jumped on the scale today even though I didn’t want to just to see where I’m at and I wasn’t exactly happy with the number, but it didn’t upset me or make me want to give up. I feel like my mind has finally shifted, and this is do-able. Plus, I haven’t had a headache all week!! 

Not sure what recipes I have planned for tomorrow but I have some left over sweet potato hash from dinner so I’ll probably add an egg to it for breakfast or maybe some of that beef like this morning! My doc is buying the service Chinese food so I’ll have to see if I can navigate through that! 

I wonder if Chinese food is paleo? 😉

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Gluten free AND Paleo?

So it’s no secret that I have a history of dabbling with different diet and nutrition strategies. Recently I read a book called “Wheat Belly” have you heard of it? 

It really opened my eyes to what it is I really have been eating. If you’ve read the book, maybe you agree that the author should have gone with “Bagel Butt” as the title as its more catchy and I totally have a bagel butt! 

Anyway, after much deliberation, my husband and I have decided to go ahead and transition to a wheat free (gluten free), paleo lifestyle. Yup, that means no ice cream, soda, cake, cookies, brownies, popcorn, or bread. That means “heart healthy whole grains” are out. 

I’ve already begun feeling better and have started to experiment with different recipes! 

I found a recipe for Rosemary balsamic chicken liver pâté but it takes 12-24 hours to marinate so I’ll be making that one tomorrow.

Stay tuned for the chicken liver recipe link and my opinion on chicken livers… I’m scared! 

I’ve read a lot that says paleo should be looked at like “if your great grandmother would eat that food and knows what it is, then it’s probably safe” and my great grandmother ate a lot of liver and onions, so I figured there has to be something to it! We shall see! Liver is supposedly super healthy for you, if it’s good maybe I’ll make it more often! 

Photos and recipe to come tomorrow so stay tuned! 

Anyway, we just started this adventure so stay tuned! I’m also going to start looking into a grain free/paleo style dog and cat food… I’d love to make my own for them if I can. I’m totally into experimenting right now! 

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