I am a mother of two precious boys that I never thought would be a part of my life. Throughout my adolescence and early adult years, I had a myriad of “unexplained” and seemingly unconnected symptoms that I saw a handful of doctors about over the years. So many times I heard the same thing… “You’re perfectly healthy! If it weren’t for…”; everything from irregular and painful cycles to joint pain, gastrointestinal complications, and more. Over the years I lost count of the hypotheses and possible diagnoses I received because it seemed that each doctor I saw was convinced they knew what was wrong with me, but had come to an entirely different conclusion to all of the potential answers I’d received before.
When I was in my early 20’s my doctor informed me that it would be “highly improbable” that I’d be able to conceive or carry a child to term because of the state of my ovaries, but even then I was diagnosed with endometriosis, and not PCOS. Not wanting to accept his prediction but coming to the conclusion that there was only so much help to be found in typical western medicine, I opted to do everything I could to improve my health and better my odds for someday starting a family. The problem was—I didn’t have the first clue where to start. I knew nothing about nutrition, hormones, holistic health, and had never even heard of the acronym IIFYM or “flexible dieting”.
At the time Crossfit was the latest craze and it seemed that everyone and their cousin was opening a gym or at least joining one… I jumped right in and signed up. My time there was the beginning of my love affair with nutrition, health, and fitness. I learned so much about kinesiology and how to maximize my workouts without risking injury and am still very good friends with the coaches/owners I met there. I was able to strengthen my body and finally gained some relief from the almost constant joint pain I’d experienced for the better part of 10 years. They also introduced me to the Paleo diet. It wasn’t until years later that I’d finally learn of the scientific evidence that confirmed what I had experienced for myself. The key components of this diet are similar to the primary factors one needs to balance hormones through food. At the time I was just thrilled to lose some of the weight I had gained in my teen years and finally begin to lessen some of my digestive concerns. But after the first few months, I was stuck just above the “normal” range for my height and couldn’t seem to get the scale to drop any lower. Life threw some curve balls at me and soon my husband and I were packing up and moving from California to Alaska to begin the next great adventure of our life together. During this transition, my focus shifted away from my efforts and many of my old habits reemerged.
Shortly after moving, we decided to start a family. After failing to conceive the “old fashioned” way, I made an appointment with a fertility doctor to discuss our options. He was the first to officially diagnose me with PCOS and his prognosis was equally bleak to what I’d heard before. He wasn’t a Reproductive Endocrinologist however, so should we need IUI or IVF (which he said was likely) we’d have to travel out of state; but there were a few things we could try before reaching that step. Through all of this, my husband was my rock; a constant source of positivity and encouragement in my darkest moments. The stress of the whole process coupled with the synthetic hormones and more than a few days of “eating my feelings” caused my weight to balloon up. In the end, we were incredibly lucky and we got our miracle. My last cycle before we’d receive the referral we were successful! I was pregnant; something I never thought would be possible suddenly became real.
Some women talk about the sheer bliss they experience throughout pregnancy… I am not one of them. As ecstatic as I was about my growing child, he was the only positive aspect of pregnancy for me. The joint pain I’d suffered from since puberty suddenly became much worse and by my third trimester I was walking with a cane and my weight had steadily climbed at a much faster rate than I thought possible despite my “clean” eating. After he was born, adjusting to life with a newborn was HARD, I had deep internal tearing from the birth that took months to heal but we muddled through. Over his first year, I’d managed to lose the 45 lbs I’d gained during pregnancy by working hard to rebuild the healthy habits I had learned before our move, but I just couldn’t get rid of the added pounds from the fertility medications – or the excess weight from before this journey even began. We knew we wanted another child, so instead of fixating on weight loss, I decided to focus on the other aspects of my health and try and be the healthiest version of myself I could be implementing all that I had learned about holistic PCOS treatments and hormone management. I began working to balance my hormones naturally through food and lifestyle changes and continuing to educate myself on the latest findings available for PCOS and other hormonal imbalance disorders.
When it came time to begin trying to conceive our second child, we got the (positive) shock of a lifetime… I got pregnant my first cycle trying!!! My second pregnancy was SO different from my first, I felt good the majority of the time, I gained exactly on the schedule my doctor had hoped I would, and best of all – I never needed to use my cane. My second labor and delivery left me with extensive physical trauma again but I was better prepared and made sure to take the time I needed to heal properly before focusing my efforts on body composition changes. When we were through the fourth trimester, I began working with a personal trainer who was familiar with pelvic floor restoration. Once again, I got back to my pre-pregnancy/post-fertility treatment weight fairly quickly, but I just couldn’t get the scale to budge beyond that. In an effort to keep losing, I tried counting calories based on the advice I’d gotten from a few “professionals” thinking that while I knew I was eating the right kinds of foods, maybe my portions were the problem. I started consuming 1600-1800 calories/day and while I was losing *some* weight (about 1 lb per month) my supply was suffering and I was getting nervous.
Someone recommended Fit Forward Mom, and I read Kristina’s journey. So much of it resonated with me; I purchased a slot the same day! I immediately increased my calories to 2,000 and shifted my macros based on her general guidelines. Once Kristina calculated macros, she increased my intake AGAIN! Coincidentally, about 2 days into my initial program with her, a wayward kettle bell fell on my foot likely chipping a bone, and I had to stop all workouts for over a month. But somehow, I was STILL losing weight and my supply was better than ever. Over the next 4 months, I lost over 30 lbs, gained a deeper understanding of nutrition, and a better relationship with the foods I was consuming. By the time my son turned a year, I not only lost the pregnancy and fertility treatment weight, I’d also lost my “Freshman 15” from college to land at my lowest adult weight ever! Since then I have continued my education on nutrition and health to better understand my path forward as I achieve goals I once assumed were out of reach for a busy mom of toddlers.
Through all of this, I was constantly astounded at how much BAD information is out there particularly about nutrition while trying to conceive, and throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Ultimately I decided I wanted to help change that. Meeting Kristina had a profound positive impact on my life, and my goal with working with her is to help others avoid the same struggles I went through. I am honored to work with each and every one of my clients and that they would choose to include me in their health and fitness journey.