I AM the lucky one….

Three weeks ago I had my yearly echo and today I’m finally getting my results back! What a loooonnng three weeks it’s been. Hoping and praying that my results haven’t changed since I was diagnosed with a heart condition two years ago. All I want to hear today is that my aorta hasn’t dilated any further. I’ve worked hard this 12 months to maintain my fitness and weight loss, which gives me the best chance of keeping my blood pressure down. And have I lead a stress free life like I’m suppose to? As much as you can when you are a prep special Ed teacher and mother of 3 children who are 7,5 and 2!

As I sit here in the hospital waiting room I’m feeling sick and nervous. I was hoping that starting to write this blog would keep my mind occupied but it doesn’t completely stop me from feeling worried. I can’t believe another year has passed. It only feels like yesterday that I was here and another year before that, waiting in the same room. As I walked from the carpark to the Mater hospital and through the corridors, all the memories I’ve lived at this hospital come flooding back….birthing my three children, having a curette after my miscarriage, having half my thyroid removed and the biggest health challenge yet my heart! But with each memory lived the door was closed behind me, this door is different, it’s one that will stay open for the rest of my life. The Mater hospital will be a place I visit indefinitely……

Thankfully my name was called out about 15 minutes after I sat down, which was good as it didn’t give me much time to think! As I took a seat in my cardiologist’s office I felt calm and ready to hear whatever I was to be faced with. We had our usual discussion on how my health has been over the past year. He was happy with everything. My blood pressure was perfect and he is extremely impressed with my fitness and overall well being! AND the best news of all my heart is no worse than last year’s echo….to say I’m thrilled is an understatement!!!!!

As I thank god that I’ve made it through another year, I’m also so very thankful that I’m even aware of my heart condition. Each time I visit my cardiologist he reflects with me how lucky I was to have this picked up while pregnant with my third baby. It is unknown how or why my heart’s aorta is dilated, but he believes I was born with this condition and in most cases you are unaware until its too late. At this time of year I’m always brought to tears as to how different my life could have ended up if we didn’t have Mia…my angel baby!

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I will spend the rest of my life kissing this baby for saving me!!

Like so many people who are faced with health complications, some can be fixed and so many can’t. I feel so blessed that my condition is now known and I now have the chance to live a long healthy life! I AM the lucky one. Yes I have to live the rest of my life with a defect on the organ that keeps me alive, and yes I can’t do EVERYTHING I want to do from a physical perspective and therefore I must be extra careful and cautious, BUT no matter how I look at this situation I AM the lucky one and there are far more people worse off than me!

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So where to from here?…The next step in relation to my heart is to have an exercise stress test, to check to see what my blood pressure does while I exercise. Then I’ll be back to the hospital in March next year for my annual echo. I am to keep doing what I’m doing in terms of keeping fit and eating healthy and I have to keep as stress free as I can. I could lye down and not move and rap myself up in cotton wool, but that’s one: not a life and two: not realistic! I don’t look at this as I’ve been given a death sentence, I look at this as I’ve been given a second chance. A chance to take the best care of myself. And I will spend the rest of my life giving myself the best chance to live a long, healthy and happy life with my beautiful family.

Today I feel blessed. I feel like I can keep going for another year. I feel free again for a while. Free to live, free to love and free to enjoy the simple things in life! Cheers to my heart!

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A Change Is as Good as a…..

Since deciding to get off my butt and finally regain the fit healthy me I use to be before becoming a mummy over 6 years ago, I’ve achieved a lot when it comes to my running! I’ve taken almost 10 minutes off my pb for my 4km run that I started 6 months ago and I can now run up a hill without losing the feeling in my legs! Plus my longest run I’ve done so far is 6km which I never thought I’d do!

Why run? you ask…there are lots of reasons why I’ve chosen running as my main form of exercise. I love to run because:
*I feel free…free from the worries of the world!
*I can think…think about my blog topics and projects I’m working on!
*I feel energised…to get through my busy days!
*I feel challenged…to improve on my pb each time!
*It makes me happy…that I’m doing something for myself!
*And I love going for a run because I can!

Running is one of those exercises that can become boring at times. I spent the first few months running without music so I could solely concentrate on my breathing. I look back now and think how did I do it, I couldn’t run without my tunes now! I’ve been running the same 4km route for 6 months now and I challenged myself to running it in 20 minutes. It took 5 months but I finally ran it in 19.55 mins. I always said once I reached that point I was ready for a new route!

Prior to this I was already starting to get a bit bored with it, so I started a new route that included hills, as my original route had hardly any! I’m happy to say I’m so glad I challenged myself to what I call my ‘hill run’ because I now have a positive spin on running up a hill! It also helps that I tell myself when running up a hill “once I’m up I have to come down!” Busy roads surround where we live, so if I run one way I have to cross a railway but is quite flat (which is what I’ve been doing) and if I run the other way I’m challenged with hills! But I’m ready for the challenge!

Last Sunday I started running my new route and even though it is harder than my original route, I’m loving the new challenge! I feel like running and I are friends again. I’ve managed to run it three times now and have taken over a minute off my pb which is now 21.07 mins:) Now when I run I think about my new challenges. My aim is to run from one end of warrigal rd to the other which would total at least 6km….but my biggest challenge to myself is to hit the 10km eventually!

I’ve recently started to run to my parents house when we go there for a visit, while my husband and kids drive. This is something I want to continue with to various places! It’s just another reason to run:) plus if the day is crazy busy and that is my only chance to run I’m certainly not going to pass the opportunity!

I don’t want me wanting to keep fit and heathy to be a chore. I want to happily do it! I was happily exercising for a long time but just recently felt like it was becoming a chore. I realise now it wasn’t me or the exercising, I just needed a change. Now I know for next time when I’m feeling like that again I will seek out a new challenge and mix it up! As the saying goes a change is as good as….for me it’s a new lease on running!

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Who else has made good progress with their fitness lately?

The Battle of the Bulging Belly!

If you could change one part of your body what would it be?

Mine would be my belly!

I’ve always been smaller up top than the bottom and if I put on weight it always goes straight to my thighs and butt. Throughout my pre baby days I had a flat stomach and never had any troubles with putting on weight in that area and then I had one baby, two babies and before I knew it 5 years had past and I was cradling my 3rd baby!

When I first fell pregnant with my son almost 7 years ago, I never once worried about what it would do to my body. I was so thrilled that I was growing a little life inside my belly. I am one of those people that start showing early on in my pregnancies, so by 20 weeks I always had a decent size belly, that would just seem to grow and grow by the second! I first gave birth at 38 weeks to my beautiful baby boy Bailey Kane Trew, who was 9 pound 5 – ouch much! Again even though I still looked like there was a baby left inside of me two days after he was born, I was happy and content with our new bundle of joy and our new little family that we created!

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Days before giving birth to my 10 pound baby girl!

Because I was less than 60kgs when I fell pregnant and ended up carrying close to a baby elephant at the end, I ended up with a 4cm stomach muscle separation….but trust me I can push them out lol! After seeing a physio weeks after giving birth and taking good care of myself and following the physio’s exercise plan, my muscle separation went back to normal and by the time Bailey was one my belly returned to its normal flat state:)

Then a whole new world began for me when I fell pregnant with my second baby! Where I craved not much other than slurpees with my first pregnancy, I craved anything fatty, juicy and sugary the second time round! And milk, I couldn’t get enough of the stuff….frappes by the dozen!! When I think about it, I really ate myself stupid! Which is why I put on over 20kgs and alas gave birth to a 10 pound 2 precious baby girl Sienna Lynette Trew! She came out running and looked 3 months old compared to most other babies lol!

At this point the state my belly was in didn’t even cross my mind. I’d just given Bailey a little sister and we now had a bigger family to enjoy, but i was sore!!! Sienna was so big that she left my insides hurting for a long time! My stomach, ribs, kidneys, it felt like I’d been in a boxing ring.This time round I ended up with a 5cm stomach muscle separation, but that didn’t phase me as I was confident things would go back to normal just like it did after having Bailey….not so easy!

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6 months after Sienna was born, belly still ‘pregnant’ looking!

I went to the physio again, who like last time gave me the same exercises to do, but having a 2 and a half year old in toe this time round, life was far more challenging and of course things like myself got pushed to the side. Things were different this time too. I had to wear a support compression belt for 6 weeks after having Sienna and when this time was completed, I had to wear those belly support undies. After 6 months my belly had gone down considerably, but I was left with a bulge that had so much loose skin hanging from it, as my skin was stretched beyond repair!

I didn’t get even a hint of stretch marks with Bailey, but with Sienna I did! I mean I really should be grateful to only get what I did….she was 4.6 kgs born!!!! I remember approaching Sienna’s 1st birthday and my belly was no where near back to its flat state that it was pre baby and post Bailey! But I came to accept that this is how it would be now and if that was the result of being able to conceive, carry and give birth to two beautiful precious gifts, then I was ok with that!

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At the races for my 30th birthday, nearly 2 years since Sienna was born and still sporting a belly!

The kids loved my belly. It was like a big bowl of jelly that they could mush their little hands around in. I still remember Bailey coming into our bed in the mornings and lifting my pj top to play with my belly. I wasn’t phased by it at all! They would always ask me “why is your belly like that mummy?” and I’d reply with telling them how they grew inside my belly and everytime they grew my skin would keep stretching and stretching and eventually it stretched so far that it didn’t go back anymore! They loved that story!

My support undies became an essential to my wardrobe and I never would go out without them on. I know it sounds stupid but I lacked confidence without them. Things I use to wear nicely, didn’t look as nice anymore and I always had an overhang whenever I bent over or sat down! I was often asked if I was pregnant or not, but all I kept thinking of were my two precious babies and how blessed I was to have them! Then I did fall pregnant with Mia. By now my thoughts were more focused on crap 3 kids how am I going to manage this as apose to how will my belly look now!

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Hours before giving birth to my third and final baby….my belly had reached its peak and will never be like this again!

Mia’s pregnancy was a cross between my first two so I didn’t put as much weight on as I did when pregnant with Sienna, but more than I did with Bailey and I finally got my wish for a baby in the 8 pounds lol! At 38 weeks, weighing 8 pound 13, Mia Natalie Trew was born and completed our beautiful family! Mia’s birth was very bittersweet as I was diagnosed with a heart condition a week prior so the last thing I was thinking about was my belly, I was happy that I got through it without any complications to Mia or myself!

It’s amazing how different your body feels after giving birth to an 8 pound baby as apose to a 10 pound baby! But third big baby in 5 years, it was always going to take its toll and this time I ended up with an 8cm stomach muscle separation:( Between my heart and my belly, I wasn’t able to do any heavy lifting for the first few months, bit hard with 3 kids under 5! I saw a really awesome physio this time and within 4 months of having Mia, my muscle separation was back to 2 and a half cms, which meant it didn’t need to be surgically fixed….I was stoked!

20120511-142148.jpgBailey and Sienna meeting their baby sister for the first time….my belly is like a shelf in this photo!

Again the excess skin and bulge was as bad as ever and the kids thought it felt as squishy as ever too. As much as I was beginning to miss my lean flat belly, the belly I had now was a beautiful reminder of the three precious babies I carried and nurtured while they were growing inside of me. But something was changing, I was starting to feel a strong urge to reclaim my original body shape that I’d given up hope on, while I was getting use to being a mum of 1, then 2 and finally 3 children. Knowing Mia was our last, the time had come for me to put myself first and do something about my bulging belly!

It’s been 7 months now since I started my weight loss journey and I can happily report that it is possible to win the battle of the bulging belly! It takes time, but with patience, determination and perseverance, the battle can be won! I haven’t spent hundreds of hours at the gym, nor do I spend hundreds of hours exercising each week! I simply walk or run for half an hour each day and follow a healthy eating plan. It took a long time for me to finally put those running shoes back on to reclaim the person I once was, but the timing was right and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

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15months after giving birth and 7 months of exercise and healthy eating, my belly is close as it will get to pre baby:)

I feel like I have a new lease on life now. I’m so much happier, fitter and healthier, which reflects on every aspect of my life! The kids love me exercising and join in with me whenever possible. I have thrown all my belly undies away and feel as confident as ever! When I tell people I have 3 children, they look at me and say “you!” and I think “why not me!” People stereotype mums and what we should or shouldn’t look like or wear. At the end of the day we are humans and should be allowed to do things for ourselves that make us happy! Losing weight hasn’t affected my mothering duties, I think I’m an even better mum now. My belly will never be back to its original state prior to having children, but it’s as close as it will ever be and I’m so satisfied with that!

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