The 4th Trimester (and Beyond): What No One Tells You

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There is a lot of info out there about what to expect when you’re pregnant. We so diligently go to our frequent OB or Midwife appointments to get both ourselves and the baby checked up on.

But AFTER baby arrives? When they send us home from the hospital with a new human who doesn’t sleep and pretty much ZERO clue what we’re doing??? Yeah it doesn’t really look like all the beautiful hospital photos plastered over Instagram. You want to know the REAL SHIT?

Well, that’s what I’m here to talk about today.

For starters, I want to mention that I think it’s kind of ridiculous that we go to ONE follow up post partum appointment at 6 weeks to get a check up and then we are usually sent on our merry way to figure out shit on our own and deal. Babies get checked out SO often in the beginning and for legit reason! But why are post partum mothers so neglected in our system? We have just had a serious trauma on our bodies. A HUMAN just made an exit, one way or another…through a now gaping hole down below or via slicing our insides open. (Yep, not sugar coating this ya’ll. You deserve to know the truth!) But I think maybe checking up on the mother’s health: physically, emotionally, mentally, hormonally – ALL OF IT – needs to happen more than ONCE after having a child.

Okay, that is my rant on our current medical system…and now onto the good stuff. Here are some of the TOP things that no one tells you about the 4th trimester (the first 12 weeks of the postpartum period) and beyond:

Breastfeeding is a BITCH! – Yes, I said it. I have breastfed all three of my children, and eventually I promise, it’s beautiful, but Lord, it hasn’t been easy. For something that is supposed to be so “natural,” I’m flabbergasted at how incredibly hard and painful and time consuming it can be, especially in the beginning. Of course, you may be one of the lucky ones where everything goes smoothly from the start and never have any nursing issues. To you, I say, “Thank your lucky stars! God Bless you!” But for most of the moms I know, it hasn’t been rainbows and butterflies from the get-go. I have heard, “oh if they are doing it right, it won’t hurt.” I call BULLSHIT! It hurt every single time starting out. Not that it hurts for everyone, but I am convinced that some babies are just so tiny (and y babies were tiny) that it’s impossible for their itty bitty mouths to get around your ginormous milk filled titty. (sorry, that’s not my usual choice of word, but I’ll do anything for a good rhyme – well, not anything). Now if the pain never goes away, there could be something inherently wrong. I noticed with my 3rd babe that the pain level was BEYOND bearable. It was clear that something was truly wrong with his latch, and we ended up seeing lactation consultants, tongue tie specialists, craniosacral therapists, YOU NAME IT to help with correcting his latch. On top of the latching issues, I also had a CRAZY oversupply (which I feel like a jerk saying, because the flip side is that many mamas just cannot produce ENOUGH milk). But my oversupply and fast let down was causing baby to basically choke every time he tried to eat making things super hard for all of us. My first baby dealt with this by ripping off my nipple screaming at the top of his lungs while milk sprayed voraciously into the air. I felt so embarrassed to feed him in public, because I was already terrified of having my boob out in front of strangers (those covers are a pain in the ass), but now I’m SPRAYING and he’s drawing attention by screaming?! I had to pump for 3 months before he finally would latch and have a full meal. I walked around the house shirtless most days (because of the pain) afraid to go out by myself with the baby for the first 3 weeks. Your boobs leak milk whenever they feel like, and if they get too full you are at risk for super painful clogged ducts and even worse infections like mastitis! This shit is no joke. Even once we got into the swing of things with breastfeeding my children, you are still tethered to them if they can’t or won’t take a bottle, making it difficult for anyone else to watch them. I totally don’t judge anyone for choosing not to breastfeed if it’s not working for them. Everyone needs to make the best choice for themselves and their families. DESPITE ALL OF THIS – breastfeeding is something I was really committed to and wanted to make work. At the end of the day, I am definitely glad I did. It DOES get significantly easier typically after the first 6-8 weeks, it feels amazing to be the sole source of nutrition for your child (and kind of incredible actually), and I do feel like it’s been a nice bonding experience for me and my boys. So I don’t regret all of the hard work…but it IS hard work!

One resource that has helped me in the past during those brutal nights of late night breastfeeding was an online community hosted by Lynzy of Lynzy and Co. She created the hashtag #latenightnursingfeed for mamas to come together in the wee hours of the night (or anytime really) to talk about the ups and downs of being a new mama.

You will bleed – A LOT! – Oh, you just thought the baby comes out, and that’s IT? Ummmm no. I bled for WEEKS! And I’m talking filling up 4 humongous pads stacked together in a hospital granny panty diaper in a couple hours. During labor and delivery you may rip and need stitches which can make it really painful down there and you will be loaded up with ice packs and witch hazel in your crotch. It hurts every time you pee and you have to use a squirt bottle to rinse with warm water each time. Your body has some serious healing to do inside, and all of the afterbirth takes awhile to remove itself. Even if you’ve had a C-section you are not immune to the bleeding. It might be less, but it’s still there. 

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You will still look like you’re pregnant – Once the baby comes out, your baby bump doesn’t just magically go away! You still look like you’re pregnant for awhile. Instead of being a hard bump, it’s just all gooey and squishy instead. I wore pregnancy jeans for weeks after having my babies, even once I got back into exercise. This is totally normal, so please be KIND to your body. For some reason, society places so much pressure on us to “bounce back,” not just physically but in many different aspects…but this post partum time is not about bouncing back. It’s about rest and recovery which is SO important. Again, your body just went through something MAJOR. It took 9 months to grow a human and your body will take time to adjust and heal. Trust me…when you’re ready, I’m your GIRL, and I have a health + fitness challenge support group with your name on it. I’ve GOT you. 😉 It’s definitely possible to feel confident and comfortable in your body again. But don’t feel that you need to rush into “getting your body back” right away.

You will be STARVING! – I mean ravenous. You will eat a crazy large meal, and then want another one hours later. You just did WORK pushing out that baby! Your body is in overdrive making milk for a tiny human and replenishing constantly. This is totally normal to last a couple weeks or months if you continue to breastfeed.

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You may not INSTANTLY bond with your baby – I remember thinking that my first baby would pop out and it would be love at first sight! There was some element to “wow, I created this human, and I love him” but I didn’t feel that overwhelming GUSH of obsessive love that I thought I would right away. I knew that I would do anything for him and would take care of him with all my heart, but it took TIME and getting to know him and his personality and quiet moments together for that love to grow and grow and grow.

You may CRY for NO REASON – Your hormones are going super crazy right after birth. You have a new human who can’t talk, can only cry to communicate, and no idea what you’re doing. You also aren’t sleeping. You’re incredibly exhausted around the clock with 24/7 duties (remember the breastfeeding?) so it’s SUPER normal to just cry and be extra emotional.

Postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression can happen to anyone – This is one of the most important things to check in with yourself after having a baby and know that it’s COMMON and happens to MANY women. It also doesn’t have to happen right away. I was never diagnosed with PPA or PPD, but I was right on the borderline, especially with Baby #3 this time around. They give you those dumb questionaires to fill out where you know the answers that are going to diagnose you or not, so most people don’t fill them out truthfully or maybe they aren’t even sure WHAT they are feeling with all the craziness going on. I’m not sure if I answered in full truth with the first two kids…I honestly don’t remember, but this time around…I tried to do my best to answer as truthfully as possible. And I hit right below the line of diagnosis on the scale…but here’s what I experienced. The sadness came more frequently than what I had remembered in the past. I was in a foggy state some days. Things that would typically make me happy, didn’t neccesarily make me unhappy, but I was kinda just going through the motions. Remember, I was walking around shirtless and in pain while nursing, recovering in between nursing sessions, and going to multiple appointments to check up on the baby and fix his latch. Lots of tears. Typically when I’m stressed and tired and overwhelmed I tend to snap at people I love (something I’m not proud of and working on)…but I felt I didn’t even have the motivation to snap. Plus trying to give attention and love to two other children. It was a lot. EVERY day and every moment wasn’t sad. I was happy many days and moments also, but for a person who sees the bright side of most things and likes to stay positive, it was a weird feeling for me to be upset a heck of a lot more then normal. I thought about going to therapy, even if I didn’t have a real diagnosis, but I ultimately never went. It likely could have helped, but it felt daunting to add yet another thing to my schedule. It helped a lot to start exercising again, which is a great stress reliever for me, and as time went on and breastfeeding got easier, sleep got better, things got a little better. But I won’t lie…sometimes all of these things are still hard and I still have tough days that pop up unexpectedly and catch me by surprise even 8 months later. I talk a lot about it with the hubby and he has been super supportive. I think getting some alone time has been one of the best things that has helped. Being a stay at home working mom is amazing and a blessing, but it’s also tough to get a break. So hiring a babysitter for some mornings to work my business or run an errand, finding time to recharge and do something that feels like ME. Then I’m usually a much better to come home and be a better mom. I do think it’s also easier for me once they get a little older. There are different challenges, of course, but the baby stages with lots of crying are hard for me. Postpartum anxiety or depression is not something to be ashamed of though, and if you are feeling any of these symptoms, don’t be afraid to talk to a doctor or a loved one and get help.

Here is a resource called Post Partum Support International which is an online community of mamas along with helpline for support.

Your hair will clog up the drain like WHOA – Oh holy hair loss! When you are pregnant, your hair is thick and luscious and you don’t lose the normal daily amount. But post partum? Oh LAWD! For me this didn’t happen right away, but a few months post partum (maybe 4-5), and my hair just started coming out in CLUMPS, especially in the shower. It happened every day for a few months and just tons of it was coming out, I couldn’t believe I still had hair left on my head! I have two spots on the side of my hairline where it’s most obvious, and then it all takes forever to grow back in and looks crazy. But it does usually get back to normal over time.

Poopin’ ain’t easy – Hey, I warned you in the beginning, I was gonna keep it real here ladies. For whatever reason, after having a baby, it’s incredibly difficult to poop. I guess all of that going on down there and body parts shifting around makes things go outta whack. Usually it resolves after a few days, but I swear the 3rd time around going to the bathroom didn’t feel completely normal for over a month. Colace will be your best friend.

You’re not a playa, you just SWEAT a lot – This actually happened to me more in the months leading up to birth while pregnant and during labor and delivery than I really remember postpartum, but this is another thing that can happen. I remember kicking off all the covers every night because I was SOOOOOO hot and wanting to constantly sit by the air conditioner (granted it was a summer pregnancy!), but as a person who dislikes the cold and prefers warm weather, this was weird for me! I don’t sweat a lot typically, but hormones are crazy and it’s pretty normal to sweat it out during this time.

Bringin’ Sexy Back ain’t really that sexy the 1st time back – Yeahhhhhh, so after pushing a human outside of you and everything shifting around in there, hormones raging…doc gives the green light but whaaaaaaa? I was definitely not ready for that after my 6 week appointment!!! Haha! But when I finally felt comfortable again, it did NOT feel like normal! It felt painful, super dry, your boobs are probably leaking and you definitely don’t want them touched now that baby is touching them, and you may not feel like that sexy lady you once did because your libido is LOW. It took a few times (and a LOT of LUBE) to get to feeling back to normal again, but it does typically go back to feeling good again! If it doesn’t, there could be some underlying pelvic floor issues, and a pelvic floor therapist could be really helpful!

You’re only cool if you pee your pants – No, no, that’s not true. That was just in the movies. But you MIGHT pee your pants. Speaking of pelvic floor therapy, this might be a really good option if you can no longer control your bladder. Jumping, sneezing, coughing, and laughing just aren’t the same anymore after having a baby. It’s super important to strengthen those muscles if you want to get it as close to normal as you can. Kegels may help, but pelvic floor therapy could be a good option. Also aside from your bladder, if you are feeling any pain down below (regardless of whether or not it’s during sexy time), a pelvic floor therapist may be able to help.

Your abs might separate – Yes, your abdominal muscles might actually SPLIT apart from each other. Crazy right? I think having a strong core in advance can be helpful with this, but even still it can happen. You will know if there is more than a finger space between the right and left abdominal muscles when you are in the process of sitting up, but you can also check with your doctor. If this happens to you, I would be very careful when jumping back into exercise. Skip the crunches, sit ups and similar exercises or else you can actually make it worse. I had slight ab separation after Baby #2 and over time it eventually closed up. If the separation is drastic, then there are also physical therapists you can see to help with this as well.

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Your will never sleep the same again – Of course we all know that there is little sleep in the beginning. And it DOES get easier…but you still won’t sleep the same. That passed out cold, nothing can wake you up sleep? Yeah, no. As a mom, you are on constant alert and you hear EVERYTHING. And when you don’t hear ANYTHING? Then you’re awake, because you’re afraid something’s wrong LOL. Welcome to mom sleep.

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You will feel like a ROCKSTAR when you put on real clothes – What used to be an every day occurence…getting showered and dressed…will now feel like an ultimate luxury!!! You will feel like a total rockstar…even when you are still wearing maternity jeans.

Someone will tell you that you need to enjoy every moment and you will want to slap them – Hah. Kidding. Not kidding. So many people will tell you that you are so lucky and blessed (AND YOU ARE), and that your children will “never be this small again” so you just have to “ENJOY EVERY MOMENT.” Well, in that moment when you are exhausted, in pain, stressed out, the baby is screaming, you’re in a fog, and you can’t hear yourself think…it’s HARD to appreciate that moment, and you may just want to tell someone to eff off haha. Instead, just BREATHE. This moment was hard. You don’t have to enjoy this one. But you WILL get through this moment. And you can enjoy a different one later.

Alright, now that I’ve shared all the craziness and behind-the-scenes of the 4th trimester and probably scared you all off from having any future children… 😉

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I DO want to acknowledge that while the 4th trimester and the early days of mommin’ are HARD…it IS also very beautiful. You DO have many wonderful moments as well. Seriously, nothing can compare to a newborn snuggle sesh. There is something so precious about holding that tiny human in your arms and knowing they are fully dependent on you and they trust you, regardless of whether or not you have all the answers. Watching your partner hold your child and seeing them as a parent will send a beautiful wave of love and emotion over you for them that you have never truly felt before in that way. As a mom of three, watching your children bond with their new sibling for the first time will bring happy tears to your eyes.

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Yes, mommin’ is the hardest job I have ever done. But it’s also the most special. Things DO get easier as they grow and you start to figure them out and their unique personalities. Try to remember to have GRACE with yourself. You are also human and figuring things out. Life is forever changed and it’s a brand new adjustment for you and your family. You have a new needy little roommate and need to figure out how to live together.

So it’s OKAY if you don’t have all your shit together. It’s OKAY if you no longer have control of everything. It’s OKAY to not totally feel like yourself right now. It’s OKAY that you don’t recognize your body. This is all a normal part of what we moms go through. Have patience and know that this stage is a SEASON and it won’t last forever. Take things one day at a time. And my best advice is to find a mom group of support. Local is even better. That TRULY helped SO much during my experience as a new mom.

XOXO,

Gina

 

 

2018 In Review

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2018 was a busy year! From pregnancy, a super fun reveal, adventures, maternity workouts and clothing, prepping Nico and Luca for a new sibling, welcoming our sweet Baby Knox, and adjusting as a family of 5, there was a lot to celebrate all through the year. There were a few scary moments in time with illness in the family and a pregnancy scare, but happy to say 2018 ended well! Not sure yet what 2019 will bring, but here is a look back at the past year…

Hit my 4 year health and fitness coaching anniversary at the end of this year helping others get healthy and strong, and helping women start businesses from home. I am so incredibly grateful for what this opportunity has given me from being able to have freedom and flexibility to work on my own time from home, spending more time with my kids and family, while earning and income and building toward an income I am proud of. I am accepting new challengers and new team members for my challenge groups and coaching mentorships for the upcoming year, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have some goals to crush this year!

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Our little family announced there would be a new addition coming to The Notes Crew!

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Nico tried and loved gymnastics for the first time

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I really dove into matcha during my first trimester (because coffee made me feel yucky), and I became super curious about crystals and sage.

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I surprised Zack for his birthday and took him to the Alesso concert in Brooklyn which was probably not the BEST place for a pregnant lady to be and we realized how “old” we’ve become because we couldn’t last the whole night, but it was hella fun!

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I finally learned how to poach an egg…even better, I learned from Vanderpump Rules, because I figured if fricken Tom Sandoval could poach an egg, then so could I!

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Survived a week of HELL when we got back scary blood test results telling us that our baby’s chances for Trisomy21 were much higher than normal. We did further testing to reveal that he didn’t have this genetic disorder and these were my tears of relief after finding out.

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Became obsessed with dragonfruit. It’s seriously delicious!

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Continued to exercise all throughout my pregnancy and documented the growing bump on Instagram!

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Fulfilled my dream of making pasta from scratch on a date night with the hubby. We made ravioli and fettuccine!

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Found out we were having a 3rd baby BOY!!! Shots captured by Scratch Studios.

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Zack and I celebrated our wedding anniversary on a Spring Break trip to Charleston! Thanks to my parents for watching the kids!

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I gained a sweet new nephew!! Here he is with his older bro.

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Nico had an amazing year at Pre-K for his first year in NYC Public School. Luca completed his first year of school with a 2’s program, and while it was a tough transition, it truly made a world of a difference for him and school has been a breeze this year in  3’s!

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I traveled to Indianapolis for the first time to meet up with these fabulous ladies as we learned how to grow our coaching businesses together at our annual Summit. This was my 4th Summit, and it’s an event I never want to miss!

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We headed to Cape May for family vacation with my husband’s side of the family, and had an amazing time! We then hopped over on the ferry to Rehoboth, DE and continued the fun with best friends and some family! I also had a record breaking week with my business while we were away!

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Sissy and bro-in-law came up to Brooklyn and we took them to Coney Island for the first time to celebrate our birthdays. Even though I felt like I was about to pop, we had a total blast!

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Nico turned 5 and Luca turned 3 with a Firefighter themed backyard Birthday Bash

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We welcomed Knox Gannon Notes on 8/19/18 and officially became a #partyof5.

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While it was a beautiful and happy time, the first six weeks post partum were also rough with tongue tie issues causing painful nursing problems, sleepless nights, borderline post partum depression, and hormonal tears. I honestly thought three would be a breeze, and we were thrown for a bit of a loop in the beginning, but we had been through two kids before and we knew there would be a light at the end of the tunnel which kept us going. Happy to say even though there are still some crazy days, the fog has lifted.

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Took the boys upstate to go apple and pumpkin picking at Fishkill Farms. We also attended my cousin’s beautiful wedding down in Maryland for our first official event as a family of 5! They learn to travel young in this fam! LOL.

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Had an EPIC Halloween dressed up as a family of TROLLS this year!

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Started exercising again after having Baby Knox and starting to see some progress, though it’s also been even more beneficial for my sanity and clarity to be cleared to move every day again!

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Had such a wonderful Christmas season visiting our favorite NYC sites like the Bronx Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show, the Dyker Heights Christmas lights, and roaming Manhattan. We also had such a memorable season with our family and friends down in Maryland.

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2018, that’s a wrap! You’ve treated us well. We’ve grown as a family and grown with even more love to give. Looking forward to seeing what’s in store for us in 2019!

What were your favorite memories of 2018???

XO,

Gina & the Boys

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Pre-Pregnancy Jeans

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About 10 days ago, I decided to try on these pre-pregnancy jeans and I was pleasantly surprised I could BUTTON them!!! Only 1 week before, I couldn’t. They are still a little tight, but they are proof of the progress I am making on my post partum journey. I have completed two full fitness programs since I had my 3rd baby in August, and I am currently in the middle of another. I haven’t been super strict or hard on myself in terms of nutrition this time around. I am making healthy choices for the most part and following my plan (save some wine and some weekend indulgences), but I am nursing a tiny human! I want to enjoy balance and the holidays…and hell, I birthed a human…it takes TIME! I HAVE been staying very consistent with my workouts, because I know how important it is for me to move my body not only physically but mentally. And while these were a little tight to squeeze on, it felt good to know that the rest of my normal clothing is in my near future!

I had also been eyeing this gorgeous Cloudspun sweater from American Eagle for awhile, so when it went on sale for Black Friday, I had to scoop it up! Unfortunately this color is now sold out, but they have four other beautiful colors from which to choose!

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Cloudspun Sweater: American Eagle (unfortunately this color is sold out, but they have four other beautiful colors from which to choose and they are all on sale!) / Jeans: ZARA (my old pre-pregnancy jeans that I can finally button again, whoop whoop!) – similar / Booties: Target (old) – also like these / Earrings and Bracelet: Selah Box / Lip: MAC Heartless – discontinued, but try Brave Red

This week has been busy busy with holiday shopping and activities (Santa and Dyker Heights Christmas lights!) and trying out our brand new workout program that will be officially launching mid-January. It’s going to be only TWENTY minutes, you guys! I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty perfect for this busy mama. I’m filling up my group now, so for those of you who are looking for a plan of action in 2019, let’s get to chatting!

This weekend we have a few holiday parties coming up and we are taking the boys to the NY Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show, because they have pretty much been waiting to go back since last year. This time of year is my absolutely favorite, so while it’s busy with work, I’m trying to soak up every second I can with the fam!

What do you love about this time of year?

XO,

Gina

Basic

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Cardigan Sweater: Target / Tee: Target (this color not available online) / Denim: Motherhood Maternity (yep, still rockin’ em) / Booties: Target – these are old, but I’m also loving these and these / Sunnies: Vintage / Necklace: Stella & Dot / Travel Mug: Francesca’s / Lip: ModelCo – trio available on Birchbox / Nails: Essie Luxedo

Happy Fall ya’ll!!!

Excited for my first outfit post on the blog since having my little man, Knox. Fall is in full swing, and we are finally feeling those chillier temperatures. I always thought I was a summer girl, because I absolutely LOVE the beach, but lately the past few years of summer humidity have me enjoying the fall season so much! (And let’s be honest…I’m sure the huge preggo belly all the way through this summer also had me craving fall! Haha.)

We went apple and pumpkin picking the other weekend and Nico is begging us to carve pumpkins this year. Last weekend we went shopping to begin putting together our Halloween costumes. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (only behind Christmas), and our neighborhood really goes all out, so it makes things extra fun. We are also hoping to score a hike up to Bear Mountain at some point this fall before it gets too cold, because the foliage is amazing this time of year.

My outfit is a pretty basic fall get-up, but I loved the color on this cardigan and it’s super soft. It’s lightweight and perfect for layering during the fall season. I’m still rocking the maternity jeans at 8 weeks post partum, but I’m about a week and a half into my 21 day exercise and nutrition program that I’ve been following, and I’m feeling great! I haven’t missed a day of working out, and I’ve been been following the nutrition pretty well although I have had some extra meals/snack to compensate for nursing, and I’ve also had a few glasses of wine. Gotta survive #momofthree life, right?

Wishing you guys a Happy Friday and an awesome weekend!

XO,

Gina

 

Knox’s Newborn Shoot

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Oh my goodness, I am so excited to finally share these newborn photos of our sweet baby, Knox Gannon Notes, taken by Tyler Lyons of Scratch Studios! Tyler was so patient with our family as Knox was super fussy during the first half of the shoot until he finally fell asleep and allowed us to position him in cute poses haha. We also wanted to get some family shots with our new babe, and you know how photo shoots go with two toddlers! But Tyler was awesome and patient and did such a great job! These photos were taken when Knox was about 8 days old, and I can’t believe he’s now already over 5 weeks!

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So thankful to Tyler for these amazing shots, and it’s going to be tough to figure out which ones to print and frame for the house!

Since my last post, nursing has definitely gotten a bit better. The craniosacral therapy was MAGICAL and really helped with Knox’s neck tension. I felt a huge difference after this appointment, and I HIGHLY recommend Amy from CranioBaby. He still needs work with stretching out his tongue which we are working on with sucking exercises and we are doing more tummy time for neck strength, etc. We aren’t in a perfect spot, and it can still bit a little painful at times, but hopefully it will get better and better as he grows and his latch improves. The good news is that this mama is a milk machine, so he is still getting plenty and growing strong.

Sleep is going okay. At night he is waking up twice currently, eating quickly, and going back down in the rock and play. Naps are tougher as he is a pretty light sleeper during the day, and I have two other noisy boys haha. He also likes to be moving for naps so we have been either using the swing, the stroller, or the K’tan wrap. As many of you mamas know, things are constantly changing with newborns, and as soon as you think you figure something out, then everything changes. Am I right?! So it’s a day by day survival.

This week has been tougher on me as I’m trying to navigate three kids on little sleep, also running a business, and trying to find some time for myself to clear my head, which is insanely hard to do. I know it’s just a season of life, and I’m trying to soak it in, but some days you just need a good cry, and that’s what happened yesterday. I find it tough to meet the needs of a newborn at the same time as a toddler. Something I went through last time around as well. It’s almost easier having all three boys together, because at least the older two can entertain each other. When it’s only two of them, it’s harder, because everyone wants and needs mama’s attention. Being a mom is not for the weak my friends, and my babies need a LOT of me right now. I just have to remember to ask for a break when I need it. Whether I have my hubby take over, call a babysitter for help, go take a walk to clear my head, call a friend or family member, etc, it’s so important to keep myself in a good headspace, so I can be a better mom for my babes. I think it will also help once I am cleared to start exercising again as that is a good stress reliever for me. My post partum appointment is next week, so I am hoping to start back up with my exercise programs again on October 8 for those who want to join me!

As always, thanks for reading! And I hope you enjoyed these sweet little photos as much as I did! Wishing you all a fantastic end to your week!

XO,

Gina

Thirteen Journeys

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Today I am honored to share my story as part of the Thirteen Fit Apparel 13 Journeys campaign!!

My story is about an athlete. It’s about motherhood. It’s about challenges. It’s about entrepreneurship. It’s about hard work. It’s about priorities. It’s about putting your mind to something and accomplishing it.

I hope that something within my journey can connect or resonate with you today. We are all on our own journey toward becoming our #ultimateself, and I continue to work on mine every single day.

Thank you to Paige Festa for including me on this project, to the 12 other inspiring individuals who are also sharing their journeys in these next few weeks, and to Jocelyn Bold Photography for capturing the photos from this shoot.

Full story can found over at Thirteen Fit Apparel! Hope you can check it out!

Happy Monday!

XO,

Gina

 

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Meet Meagan: A Coaching Story

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Meet Meagan!!!
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Meagan and I went to college together at the University of Maryland and met on the Women’s Club Soccer Team. While we have a similar athletic background and we are now both mamas, I just love Meagan’s story. She is one inspiring lady who seriously does it all…she takes care of animals, takes care of her daughter, she’s an amazing wife/daughter/sister, and now she is back to taking care of herself as well. Meagan is working toward BIG goals, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled that she decided to trust in me to join Team SPARK! and take this journey as a coach alongside me. She is a TEAM player, a HARD worker, and she DREAMS BIG. Not only has she had incredible success with her health + fitness journey (she has lost at least 42 lbs post pregnancy to date of this interview…and possibly more now), she is also building her own team and making great strides toward achieving that type of freedom she craves with the business side of coaching. She has grown so much, and I cannot WAIT to see where this journey will take her next!!
 
Progress Photos:
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Beginning of Coaching Journey:
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Mid October:
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Without further ado, I will let you read my interview with her below and you can meet her for yourself! 🙂
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1) Tell us about yourself (where you live, family, hobbies, interests, anything else that you would like to include about yourself). I live in Baltimore, MD with my husband and daughter. We have 2 dogs and 2 cats. My husband and I are both from PA so our families are atleast 1.5 hours away. I’m the oldest of 6 girls so life for me has always been crazy/busy, non stop, always on the go. Living away from family means that help with our daughter’s childcare can be a little difficult at times. I work three 12 hours shifts in a row as a registered veterinary technician (nurse) at a very busy animal hospital with a very high standard of care. So work can be exhausting (mentally and physically) and stressful but I love it. I also bartend on Saturday nights at Phillips Seafood Restaurant where I have worked since graduating from college (this year makes 9 years!). My husband’s days off are two of the days that I work so he can be home with Charlotte. On Saturdays I go into work with Charlie and hand her off to Daddy and then he takes her home. So we only have to pay for one day of childcare. This plan, however, does not allow us to have any days off together. That has it’s own challenges, of course. I don’t have much time or the ability for activities for myself (I used to play football, kickball, and softball on local social club teams) but when ever I have off, I have my daughter (and daddy is at work) and it’s not always easy to find help to watch her if I need/want to do something. So, I can’t do it, unless I can take her.
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I love sports, animals, being outside and being adventurous. I like doing anything that I can take the dogs along for. They love to swim and fetch, they are very active and energetic but it’s hard to bring them with me sometimes since it’s usually just me with Charlie and both of them.
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2) What is your fitness background? I played soccer for 16 years. In middle school, I ran track and played basketball too. In college and afterwards I played on several club teams for kickball, football, softball, volleyball, soccer. If you need a person on your sports team, I’m your gal. Haha. I may not be awesome at all sports, but I can get by in most of them. My Dad was a soccer player (He played for the San Jose Earthquakes in the 80s) and he always played softball when I was growing up, so my love of sports comes from him— he taught me everything I know about throwing a baseball and football and kicking a soccer ball. My mom was always active also, she was a flamenco dancer in a dance company when I was young, trained with a body builder and would often go on long runs when I was in high school. She used to take me to an MMA gym where we would take a boxercise class and tae-ke-bo class. So my fitness always revolved around sports. I didn’t like running for fun until college which was when I picked up a love for yoga also. Both were a great way for me to de-stress and clear my mind. As great as yoga and running are for my mind, I have always loved team sports.
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3) Why did you decide to become a Coach on Team SPARK? I wasn’t expecting to decide to be a coach that day in May 2017. I saw one of your posts about daring to dream. I think it just hit home for me and I knew I had to jump on it, without much thought, I jumped in. I had been feeling very BLAH for months. I was in a funk, a bad one. I WANTED to workout more, but I just couldn’t seem to get it done. I had started taking regular walks with the dogs and Charlie in the stroller and I was more conscious about what I was eating. I was 160ish pounds in Dec2016/Jan2017 and by April I was hovering around 145. So, progress was being made but I knew regular walks weren’t gonna to get me where I wanted. I just couldn’t seem to figure out how I was going to get it done. My husband is naturally tall and thin and would choose to eat Taco Bell every night if he could (even though he is an amazing cook). He wasn’t going to be the one to motivate me. We had worked half way through P90X twice (we could only ever seem to make it to 45ish days haha). He grew up playing volleyball and baseball. We played kickball together on a social team and he can be very competitive and that’s how we got through P90X. I worked out during the day because I worked nights then and he would workout when he got home from his day shift— we always kept each other on track. Nowadays, he’d rather not workout— so that leaves me to motivate myself. It wasn’t going very well. I didn’t want to get a gym membership, becauseI knew I wouldn’t use it. Plus, not all gyms have childcare and like I said before, I always have Charlie.
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I’d also been dreaming of not having to bartend on Saturday nights anymore. It’s not a bad gig, but I’m just ready to call it quits. The money I make there each month pays my gigantic student loan bill and although we could probably survive without it.. it seems stupid to not work 4 days a month to be able to make that payment. I was trying to figure out what else I could do that would allow us the freedom we have financially without making any sacrifices. After several weeks/months of feeling like there was something missing in more than 1 aspect of my life, there was your post. Dare to dream. I had been seeing your posts for years. Busy mom, fit mom, working mom. Killing it. So I said, what the hell. Why not try it, what could it hurt. I knew just being a challenger would not be enough to make this a lifestyle change. Being just a challenger would probably get me as far as I got with P90X and then I would fall off again. BUT being a coach, being able to motivate and inspire others? That should do the trick. I always loved being a team captain, I loved coaching, and I had been thinking about taking looking into teaching at the local vet tech school. I wanted something to spend my time that was fulfilling, that would allow me to help others. But coaching/teaching was just another something that would take me away from the house and require additional childcare costs and less time with family. COACHING was it! I could check off all the boxes. PLUS, even if coaching wasn’t a financial success, I would hopefully have my athletic self back again. I had been missing since college. So, without overthinking it, I said yes. I’m so happy I did.
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4) What was the first Beachbody program you tried? What did you like about it?  P90X. I liked how challenging it was and I liked that variety of workouts. Since becoming a coach, the first program I tried was 22 Minute Hard Corps, because I knew I liked Tony as a trainer, and I was familiar with him so I picked that one first. Plus the shorter workouts would make for an easier transition into a fitness routine.
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5) What was tough or challenging for you?  The hardest part at first was waking up early to get my workout in before my long shifts. That had been an excuse of mine for a loooooong time. There was no way that I would be able to wake up before a 12 hours shift earlier than I needed to just to work out. I had been working on eating better for a few months, but nutrition was also a big part of what I struggled with. Not because I don’t like healthy foods, but because I was terrible at planning and I would stop at fast food restaurants all the time because I wouldn’t have food in the house. I would stop in the morning on the way to work for breakfast— because I wouldn’t give myself enough time to eat at home— and I would stop when I was out running errands because it was easy. I was getting fast food at least 3-4 times a week AND going out to eat with hubby once a week or every other week. Shakeology has really helped with that, it’s my breakfast in the car on the way to work and my go-to lunch on my days off when we are out and about!
 
6) What has your progressed looked like in terms of pounds and inches? How did you stay motivated to get to this point?  I’ve lost 15 pounds and 10 inches since becoming a coach. I went from a size 10 to a 4 (just realized I was in a size 4 the other day)! My motivation came from the accountability/support groups. Watching everyone live busy lives and still find time to workout and eat right was great. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I knew it was going to be a constant battle and somedays I may lose the battle was I was going to win this war. It all comes back to my love of team sports. That was this is like for me. We are all on a team, we win together, we lose together, we support each other, we motivate each other. We all have something to learn from one another, and I find that the most inspiring. The honesty and the open-ness of the group allows for a safe place to be honest and open with yourself. Sharing my story has helped me stay on track and hearing how people are inspired by what I’m doing when I run into them, that’s worth it. Even if they aren’t joining my group or supporting my business, they are driven by when I share to be more active and make better choices. That’s huge.
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7) How do you feel today, and what are your goals moving forward?  I feel awesome. My goals are constantly changing, which is so cool! I’ve surpassed my original goals which is sooo surprising! Instead of quitting because I’ve reached my original goals (which is part of the reason I stopped P90X midway through— I felt like I was at a good place and could stop), I make new goals. Now that I’ve lost the weight, I want to build muscle and tone my body. I want to be able to one day do a hand stand and at least 5 pull ups. I want to continue inspiring other people to reach their goals. My ultimate goal is to inspire my husband to join me and start his own fitness journey. Any wife knows that you can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do, so I’ll just wait for him to have the grand idea all on his own. 🙂 Haha. I just want people to realize that if they WANT to do it, they can do it. I’m a TV junkie. I love naps. I love junk food. I procrastinate. I’m always late, and I hit the snooze at least 3 times every morning. But here I am, surprising myself everyday. If I can do this, anyone can do this.
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8) How has your life changed since become a Coach on Team SPARK? My life has changed in so many ways! I LIKE waking up early before work to work out. I feel energized, accomplished, and proud. I make regular trips to the grocery store and keep my fridge stocked with good foods to eat! I plan more, plan meals for the week, plan my days, and plan to be better than I used to be. I’m happier. I don’t feel sluggish or tired (sometimes yes, but not nearly as often as I used to). I’m confident. I like the person I see in the mirror and not just because of my pants size but because of what I’ve been able to accomplish. Being a coach has given me my life back, I feel like myself again.
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So flippin’ proud of this girl, and can you just look at that SMILE!!!! That is EVERYTHING. 🙂
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All it takes is a leap of faith when you dare to dream. This girl is doing it. And this team is going places. Watch us. Or join us. Only you can make that decision spark that fire and FLY.
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Hope you are all making the most of your week!
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XO,
Gina

One Year Later

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This afternoon I shared my results from my recent Hammer + Chisel program with my Challenge Group, and I came across my first “Before” photo that I took at 6 weeks post partum. Whew! Hard to look at for someone who has always been an athlete and in shape in the past. I am proud that with my body I was able to give life to two awesome little dudes, but I was eager to look and feel like my old self again. My mindset was much different than after my first pregnancy.

After my first pregnancy, I never really tried to get back to myself for a long time…18 months long. To be fair, I had to figure out who I was at a person since becoming a mom and I just didn’t understand how exercise could still fit into my lifestyle. I had many excuses…many of them were legit excuses…work, time, travel, gym commute, etc….but they were still excuses. I finally found a way to find that time for myself again when my son was 18 months old. I started the original P90X at home, and was SO pumped to start!!! …and then 2 days in I found out I was pregnant again with Baby #2. So while I did start my path of healthy eating, exercise, and “me” time, my journey was a little different than planned. 😉

After having my 2nd son, I was SO eager to finally get back to my daily routine and finally get in real shape again. My mindset had completely shifted and I had made that decision to go after some goals. I whipped out that 21 Day Fix and did 3 rounds in 3 months. My journey continued this past year with P90X3, 21 Day Fix Extreme, CIZE, 22 Minute Hard Corps, Country Heat, and lastly Hammer + Chisel. I honestly cannot believe I have been able to stick to so many programs over the past year, and this is the longest I have stuck to a routine in YEARS. I feel amazing, strong, my endurance is up, and even with little sleep and two little ones, I somehow have energy. With my busy schedule, I now cannot even imagine spending an extra time commuting to a gym or classes. These 30 minute home workouts + healthy eating (with treats of course!) + daily Shakeology have truly been a godsend for which I am so thankful!

Looking forward to rounding out my year with the 3 Week Yoga Retreat and the new kickboxing/MMA program, Core de Force. I love knowing what I have coming up, because it keeps me on track and helps me stick to a daily routine. Knowing how I felt after having my first son and then knowing how I feel now, there is no way I could ever go back!

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Hope you all had a great weekend, and you are enjoying this lovely Sunday evening!

XO,

Gina

P.S. The Country Heat Giveway winner was announced on my Facebook page, so head on over there if you want to hear more details about the package and who won the prize!