Choose to be a conqueror

I was warned pre-pregnancy what having kids would do to my body.

I’d seen pictures. I’d googled stretch marks. People told me all the time how I’d be sacrificing my body forever. I would never look the same again. It sounds vain, but I’d put so much work into my fitness regimen that I just wasn’t ready to give that up.

However, after one of my regular cross-fit sessions, I randomly took a pregnancy test. I’d been sleeping a lot and according to the test, I was definitely pregnant. I was shocked, but not as shocked as finding out a few weeks later that I was having not one, but two babies. Twins.

Along with this discovery came another diagnosis.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It puts regular old morning sickness to shame, and in other words, it feels basically feels like death.

According to HER Foundation, “Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It is generally described as unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids.

If severe and/or inadequately treated, it is typically associated with:

  • Loss of greater than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight (usually over 10%) dehydration
  • Affects the production of ketones
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Metabolic imbalances
  • Difficulty with daily activities.

To put it into better perspective, Hyperemesis Gravidarum occurs in only .3% to 2% of all pregnancies, and (before treatments were in place) was a cause of maternal death. I was the lucky 2% and while fortunate to be living in the 21st century, it was still a terrifying experience.

Not even a royal could dodge this bullet. Sorry, Kate.

I struggled through the majority of my pregnancy, with this debilitating illness which also prevented me from doing any type of physical exercise.

I was depressed and heart broken. I’d lost my connection with the fitness world I’d once lived in. My gym friends went on to live life without me, while I could barely move or get out of my bed.

I spent many months making ER visits, getting admitted to the hospital with IV bags, bruised veins, and medication.

About 6 or 7 months in, I started to feel better. I was eating solid food again. So of course, I began to wolf down, guzzle, and stuff myself like no tomorrow.

FYI: You don’t really appreciate being able to eat like a normal human being until you no longer able to do it anymore.

So, I ate and ate and ate. Like a herd of elephants. I went from being underweight to 50 pounds over what was even expected with a twin pregnancy.

What could I possibly have to complain about at this point? Zero exercise.

I’d done my research on how beneficial exercise is during pregnancy and the benefits for babies. My pregnancy had been categorized as high risk, so working out was a no-no.

How in the world was I going to attain these glorious benefits? I wasn’t.

I sat around depressed, eating pizza (now that I could) and drinking orange soda (my official pregnancy craving) sulking about the ultimate destruction of my body by children.

It all changed one day during pout session, though. I remembered a promise I’d made to myself. I didn’t want to be one of those women who was defined solely by having children. I still wanted to be me. I still wanted to do things I loved. I wanted to pursue a career, be active, look good, feel great, and be a fantastic mother. I wanted it all.

So, what’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. I resolved to no longer feel sorry for myself. If I was going to be who I wanted to be, I had to cut myself a break. I was bringing two lives into this world. I had to give myself credit at the very least, for that.

Once I gave birth to my twins, I took things very slow. I didn’t obsess about the weight. I breastfed for the first few weeks, and I waited for the doctor to give me the green light for exercise. I was itching to start before that, but I promised myself I’d be fully recovered and ready before pushing myself into some crazy exercise regimen.

I stayed away from celebrity pregnancy “bounce backs” in the blogs and on the internet.

When my doctor gave me the ‘go’, I started with walking. Just walking. Walking turned into jogging, and jogging back to running again. Every session fueled the next.

I remembered my struggle with HG and it motivated me to move as far away from that depressive state as I could. The fresh air, the exercise, it felt amazing. I was getting back to being me.

I also realised there were so many things I could do in the comfort of my own home to improve my health. I didn’t need to use the “I can’t get to the gym” excuse. I could do so much in 30 minutes or less, that were just as effective being in the gym for hours.

When I chose to start giving myself credit for what I’d already achieved thus far, I also chose to stop beating myself up for the past.

I wanted to move forward. That meant starting somewhere. Just starting. That’s half the battle. It didn’t matter if I missed a workout here or there, because that’s just life. Sometimes things happen. Sometimes you’re dead tired. You simply take it one day at a time. You resolve to do at least one thing better than you did the day before, and you start to realize how many good things come from choosing that alone.

With work, two almost-two year olds, a house to clean, errands to run, and a deployed military spouse, I’ve long-since been ready to throw in the towel. More times than not. It’s often hard to make myself a priority, but I’m choosing to do one at least thing better each day. Taking time to nourish my body and mind is at the top of my to-do list.

Pregnancy and motherhood are hard work. It’s a tough job. It’s not for everyone, but for those of us who truly do it all (working and SAHMs), we know what it means to not have the option of quitting something. This isn’t tee-ball or third grade piano lessons. It’s a 24/7 gig.

So, apply that to your own life. I train hard, because I just can’t quit on myself. Through hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), postpartum depression (PPD), stretch marks, and plain old post-pregnancy body image issues, I’ve made it this far. No matter how many times I fell off the wagon, I just wasn’t ready to give up.

So I didn’t.

A true bounce back will never be what you see in a magazine. You’re human. It’s choosing to let no odds, exile, doubt, fear, or expectations from others defeat you that makes for a real comeback.

Choose to be a conqueror.

About the author: Minda is a strong, working Mom who we discovered on Instagram through the #zovafit hashtag. She loves spending time with her gorgeous twins and keeping healthy.

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