Category Archives: Health

That one time I had a kidney stone while 6 months pregnant on vacation…

I’ve made vague references to this pregnancy being high risk and that there is a lot going on medically and etc. Christopher and I are pretty private people when it comes to personal things so there is a lot that I haven’t shared on this blog. But suffice it to say that this little girl we are pregnant with is quite the fighter and is beating lots of odds. She’s our very own little miracle. Because of that, I don’t ever want to complain about this pregnancy. Every week has been such a precious blessing that I can’t really be upset about the normal challenges that have come with pregnancy.

So… when I thought I was experiencing normal pregnancy discomfort on a Monday, I didn’t think too much of it. My thought process went something like this: “Back pain is totally normal with pregnancy as the belly grows, right? And all this pain I’m feeling must be the round ligament pain kicking it up a notch. Oh, and are those Braxton Hicks? My app told me this week that I might be experiencing more of those.”

Tuesday was pretty rough, but I just kept telling myself that it was normal pregnancy stuff. But then Wednesday was awful. Just truly and completely awful. Agony all night long. As soon as the doctor’s office opened on Thursday morning I called them. Based on my symptoms, they were concerned that I might be in preterm labor (something I’m at high risk for) so they had me come in immediately. Thankfully Baby Girl was still nice and cozy in there with no signs of her coming at the moment, but I was still in so much pain. They told me that it was most likely a UTI or a kidney stone. They started me on antibiotics for a UTI and sent me home with Tylenol for pain. They still cleared me to travel the next morning if I really wanted to as long as I promised that I would go to urgent care if I didn’t start to improve.

So at 6am on Friday morning, we flew out to California. All those photos you saw on social media and in our travel videos on the blog (here and here) – totally taken while I was still in a lot of pain. But there isn’t another time we would have been able to go on this trip this year so we decided to still go and just take it super slow.

And when I say “super slow” I’m not kidding. It probably took us an hour to walk a mile on Saturday and Sunday while seeing the national parks. We stopped at every stump and bench we saw for me to rest a few minutes before continuing on. Elderly people with walkers were passing me. Seriously. It was pitiful. But! I’m still so glad we went. It was such a fun trip despite me not feeling well. Thankfully by Monday when we got to San Francisco I was starting to feel much better.

We got home from California around midnight on Tuesday and I went in to the doctor on Wednesday. My results had come back negative for a UTI so based on my symptoms, lab results, and some TMI info you don’t want to know, the doctor said that it sounded like I had passed a kidney stone.

A kidney stone, you guys. Suddenly I didn’t feel like such a wimp for being in so much pain from “normal pregnancy stuff” ha! Christopher keeps telling me that since I was such a champ with the kidney stone that obviously labor will be a breeze for me now. Ha! Here’s to hoping that’s true! 😉

It took another week of rest at home before I really started to feel back to normal, but thankfully I’m back to 100% now! Here’s to hoping that was my one and ONLY kidney stone!

26 weeks pregnant 2.jpg

Have you ever experienced a kidney stone? What was that like for you?
Love Rach

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Health & Fitness in the First Trimester

So just last week I shared with you guys about my goals to be healthier last year and how well those paid off. I’ve had a couple of people ask what this means now that I’m pregnant. Going into this pregnancy, I felt so incredibly healthy and fit and I think that has made a huge difference in the habits I’ve been able to carry on even when I felt so sick. So here are the main things:

1. Obviously I’m going to gain weight. Most likely more than the 18 pounds I lost (my doctor told me anything from 25-35 pounds would be a healthy weight gain for me in this pregnancy). But this doesn’t bother me in the least. Those extra pounds were just hanging around making me feel sluggish and unhealthy last year. This weight gain will be for a great cause!

2. My gym time looks a little different sometimes. I still shoot for an hour on the treadmill five days a week, but there are days when I can barely make it to 35 minutes before I’m just totally worn out. And I’ve let myself be okay with that. I mean, I’m growing a person. That’s hard work. 😉 The past week when I’ve started to feel better has meant that my gym time has been back to normal and that has felt great! And I’m finally back to getting 10,000 steps a day which makes my Fitbit happier with me.

3. I have been cleared to continue weight lifting by my doctor, but honestly… I haven’t been lifting. My body has been so worn out this first trimester that making it to the gym at all has been a feat some days. My doctor said since my body has been used to it in the past, it’s more than okay to start it up again in the second trimester if I wanted to wait until I was feeling better. So now that I’m feeling better I’m looking forward to adding weights back into my routine.

4. My doctor told me to switch to prenatal yoga and asked that I not do any poses that require being on my stomach (even in the first trimester). So for those who would like to see what yoga videos I’ve been doing lately, I have them saved on a Prenatal Yoga list. The very first video on there is one that I got from Amanda and it is so great! I’ve done about half the videos on that list and as I continue to do more videos I’ll delete ones I don’t like and add new ones I find. If you have recommendations for prenatal yoga or prenatal workout videos, I’d love to hear them!

5. I am so thankful that I taught myself to drink water and hydrate well last year. I had no idea how important drinking tons of water while pregnant was. So that has definitely been a bonus!

6. Ah the diet. Pretty much all food made me sick up until last week. What’s comical is that initially I thought this was a mind over matter thing. “Oh, I’ll just force myself to eat this cottage cheese and it will be fine!” False. That was definitely false. A lot of my go to favorite snacks were ones I just couldn’t stomach at all (including eggs which is a staple for me). My diet overall wasn’t terrible, but it definitely included more carbohydrates than normal and lots more bland foods. Thankfully Baby Vendetti likes apples, bananas,  strawberries, clementines, watermelon, carrots, peanut butter, and Greek yogurt so even during the sickest days, I could still eat those. Since last week I’ve been feeling a lot better and am back to my normal super healthy diet which has me feeling much better over all! Here’s to hoping I stay feeling better!

7. Speaking of feeling so sick… I continued to use MyFitnessPal to track my food until week 10 of pregnancy when I just couldn’t handle thinking about food any more than I absolutely had to. I lost weight when I first got pregnant so I wanted to be sure I was getting enough calories plus I loved that I had such a long streak of logging my food into MyFitnessPal (it was well over a year). But alas, I just couldn’t do it anymore at week 10. Now that I’m feeling better, I want to start tracking again just to make sure that I’m getting a good number of calories plus making sure that I’m eating a balanced diet (I love how MyFitnessPal tells you about all the nutrients in your food, not just the calories).

Overall, I’m so thankful I had these habits in place before getting pregnant because otherwise I can guarantee you, there would be no way I would’ve started any healthy habits while feeling so miserable. But you know what has made it worth feeling so terrible? Knowing that Baby Vendetti is growing and healthy. Grow, baby, grow! Speaking of growing… wanna see a couple of pictures? 🙂

11-weeks

This was 11 weeks pregnant when I first started to show just a little. Such a sweet and emotional week in that way! Look at that sweet bump!

13-weeks

I’m sure many of you saw this yesterday on Instagram, but here I am this week at 13 weeks pregnant! Grow baby grow!

Any recommendations for health and fitness while pregnant? Either that you’ve experienced yourself or heard of?

Love Rach

Learning to be healthy (and losing 18 pounds along the way)

gym selfie

Most of my adult life I’ve weighed about the same amount (give or take a few pounds) until a couple of years ago when I started a new medication that messed with my hormones. I gained 10 pounds in a very short period of time. And as I changed medications and tried different things, I found myself continuing to slooowly gain weight even thought my diet and exercise habits weren’t changing. Until the point that I just couldn’t handle it anymore. In December of 2015 I was officially up 18 pounds from my previous “normal” weight. My clothes didn’t fit and I felt sluggish. I realized that if I didn’t take control of this, I would only continue to slowly gain more weight and not feel healthy.

To be clear: I was always in a healthy weight bracket, but that doesn’t always mean that I FELT healthy. I think there is a misconception that if someone is in the right BMI weight bracket, that they are healthy. For me, I have not found that not to be necessarily true.

So in December of 2015 I decided to make some serious changes.

Fitbit & Commitment to the Gym

First of all, I got a Fitbit for Christmas 2015. A tangible way to track my exercise. I committed to myself that I would go to the gym every weekday for at least an hour and that I would shoot to still get close to 10,000 steps on the weekend if possible. And so I did it. I allowed no excuses to get in the way. The gym was a priority.

My Fitness Pal & Honesty

I also started using My Fitness Pal in December of 2015 and made myself be 100% honest with it. So that meant that there were lots of days at first that I went over my allotted number of calories. But now I could SEE the proof. Those bites of something here and there really added up. I learned to measure out my food and my portions so I could be honest with myself about how much I was actually eating.

My Fitness Pal & the Fitbit app connect on my smartphone so as I worked out, I got extra calories to eat which was fun. I also would get a weekly report from Fitbit telling me exactly how many calories I had eaten over the past week, how many calories I had burned in the past week, and what my deficit was. It’s just a big math problem, you guys. Calories in, calories out. That’s weight loss.

Quality of Food

Weight loss may be calories in, calories out. But there are some calories that are far more helpful to us than others. I started really gearing my diet toward high protein foods to help keep me full longer. I also started taking my carb-distributed diet more seriously which  meant smaller meals and lots of snacks. And I started eating TONS more veggies and fruits.

Snacks

I mentioned this before, but I started snacking all throughout the day. Last year I shared with you guys some of my favorite snacks so feel free to check that post out here.

Meals & Portion Control

For the most part we have always eaten healthy foods at home, but I have not always been good about portion control. So one of the biggest things I had to learn was what ONE serving of food truly looked like. And if I chose to eat two servings, that was okay – I just needed to be honest with my calorie tracker and put it in there. This helped me realize how often I eat seconds just out of habit and not truly out of hunger. And knowing that I will be eating a snack again two hours after eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, made it easier to stick to one portion of food. For a list of our favorite healthy dinners, see this post.

Water

I have always been bad about drinking enough water. So I decided that if I was taking my health seriously (not just trying to lose weight, but trying to FEEL healthy again), that I needed to learn to hydrate myself. So in January of 2016 I bought a cute water bottle, brought it with me EVERYWHERE, and started tracking the amount of water I drank on my Fitbit app. Once I was in a good habit of drinking water all throughout the day I stopped tracking the exact amount and just made sure I was refilling the bottle at least twice a day. This made a HUGE difference in how I felt. Hydration is awesome. 🙂

Yoga

In August of 2016 I decided to incorporate yoga into my routine. I wrote about my experiences with yoga here for those of you curious. I found that it continued to tone my muscles and has helped with my incredible inflexibility. 😉

My Goal & Timeline

My initial goal was to lose 7 pounds. I didn’t think it was possible to be at my previous weight while on these medications, but I wanted to at least fit into my clothes. I hit that goal within 2 months. I continued to do what I had been doing and found that without working any harder, I was still losing weight. By the end of April of 2016, I had lost 17 pounds. At this point I was a little concerned about losing too much weight so I upped my calories to keep up with the work out routine that I had discovered I loved so much. I considered cutting back on gym time, but I realized that I loved how STRONG and FIT I felt. I was toned and just my overall health felt GREAT so I didn’t want to give up my gym time if I didn’t need to. I still lost one more pound over summer just from being so active, but I have stayed steady at 18 pounds lost since then.

How I Feel

Last summer I told Christopher that I have never felt so healthy in my entire life. I was even smaller weight-wise in college (by another 5-10 pounds depending on what part of college we’re talking about), but I never felt as healthy as I do now. Eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and spending time at the gym strengthening your body does wonders for your health. It wasn’t just about losing weight (though I did want to lose at least enough to fit into my clothes again), but about feeling better again. And friends, 2016 was the year I really kicked off awesome habits.

Also, I felt like a champ being able to lose weight while working against medication that was messing with my hormones. There were times that my calories-in-vs-calories-out equation showed that I should be losing more weight than was actually showing up on the scale and I think that was probably the medication I was working against. But with dedication and hard work, I still lost that weight and took control of my over all health.

Before & After Photos

There are no before-and-after photos in this post because I don’t believe that I looked bad 18 pounds heavier than I am now. Of course if you are curious, this is a blog… it’s super easy to find photos of me from December 2015. But it’s not about how much better I look, but about how much better I feel. About how much healthier I feel. About how my body is hydrated, nourished, fit, and toned.

Disclaimer

Many people say that this sort of hitting-it-hard approach of adding several new things to your life all at once is not sustainable. For me and my personality, it worked and has continued for a year now. I know other people may need a slower approach of adding one new healthy habit (starting a gym routine, starting a healthy diet, starting to drink water, etc) per month or even per quarter. For me, it worked well to just do a total overhaul all at once. So if you need to take it slower, that’s not a bad thing. I think that’s actually what many people recommend.

Closing Thoughts

I really struggled with whether or not to share this post here because I don’t talk about weight loss in general. I don’t like the way that our culture pushes this idea of weight loss and being skinny all of the time. It breaks my heart hearing young girls talking about dieting and wanting to lose weight. But at the same time, I want to show that it can be done in a healthy and safe way focusing on BEING HEALTHY and not necessarily just losing weight. It takes hard work, commitment, and honesty with yourself, but it can be done. I’m proof. 🙂

Love Rach

 

18 Favorite Go-To Healthy Recipes

A couple of years ago we found out that I need to control the number of carbohydrates I eat at a time. To be clear, it’s not a carb-restricted diet, it’s a carb-distributed diet. Meaning that I can still eat carbohydrates, I just need to limit how many I eat at a time. Which for the girl who loves giant piles of spaghetti and could put away a pizza by herself… this was difficult news. But in the long run it has actually been awesome for me. Once I started eating the way my body needs (carb-distributed, higher protein, and every 2-3 hours!) with good quality calories, I noticed a HUGE difference in how I felt overall. So today I want to share my favorite go-to healthy recipes that I’ve loved over the past couple of years.

18-favorite-healthy-meals

SALADS:

healthier taco salad

A Healthier Taco Salad

greek-salad-2

Greek Salad

cobb salad (2)

Cobb Salad

kielbasa and cabbage

Kielbasa & Cabbage Skillet (not really a salad, but I didn’t have another category for this to go in, ha!)

SANDWICH:

prosciutto and rocket sandwiches (2)

Prosciutto & Rocket Sandwiches (I’m generally not a big sandwich person, but I LOVE this one we discovered while in Italy!)

SOUPS:

Chicken Enchilada Soup (3)

Chicken Enchilada Soup

our chili

Chili (can also be used for Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes)

veggie soup

Vegetable Soup

taco soup

Taco Soup

minestrone soup

Minestrone Soup

CHICKEN:

cayenne rubbed chicken with avocado salsa3

Cayenne Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa

chicken broccoli bake

Chicken Broccoli Bake

chicken stir fry

Chicken Stirfry

SWEET POTATOES:

buffalo-chicken-stuffed-sweet-potatoes-3

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

enchilada-stuffed-sweet-potatoes-2

Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

sweet-potato-shepherds-pie-3

Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

SEAFOOD:

DSC_0779

Shrimp Fajitas

baked salmon (2)

Baked Salmon

Tell me, what are some of your favorite go-to healthy meals?

Love Rach

Things I’ve learned as a yoga newbie

At the end of summer I started doing yoga regularly. In the past I’ve done it for a week or two here or there, but it never really stuck. Partially because I’m super inflexible which means I’m pretty terrible at it and partially because some of the things the instructors said would strike me as so funny that I had trouble concentrating. Their floaty, airy voices combined with them telling me to connect my sacrum to the universe was just a little too much for me sometimes. But it struck me one day… wouldn’t it be cool if there was such a thing as Christian yoga? A way to stretch and practice yoga while quieting my mind and focusing on scripture. So I Googled it. And found out that it is, in fact, a thing.

mountain-poseMountain pose… on a mountain in Switzerland in September. 🙂

Things I’ve learned in the first few months as a yoga newbie:

1. A yoga mat makes a huge difference. I tried to use a rug, towel, and blanket and none of them were great. They would slip or slide or not be very cushy. In the end, I am so glad that I finally bought an actual yoga mat. Thanks to good deals at TJ Maxx (less than $15 each) we have an Aeromat Elite 1/4″ yoga mat (mine) and an Empower 1/4″ yoga mat (Christopher’s). I also got a RatPad for my knees and head for different poses and it is awesome!

2. It’s more of a workout than I first anticipated. I already do cardio and weights at the gym so I definitely didn’t expect any soreness from starting yoga. However, my wrists were super weak and had to be strengthened. And apparently whatever muscles are in your underarms are ones that I never used because oh my gracious did they hurt when I first started! So much soreness! But it passed within a couple of weeks and I’ve had no other issues since then.

3. Sticking with it really does generate results! My heels still don’t touch the ground in downward dog and I still can’t bend at the waist and put my palms flat on the floor, but I’m MUCH closer than I was when I started. My overall flexibility has definitely increased which I love. And I’ve been pleased to see how yoga tones my body as well.

For anyone interested, these are my favorite yoga videos

yoga-videos

Videos 1-5 are foundational videos that teach you how to do the poses properly. This was so important for me! It helped me know what I was actually trying to accomplish with each pose (even simple ones like downward dog or child’s pose). If you are a beginner, I really recommend those first five videos! Videos 6-10 are ones that I rotate through in the morning depending on how much time I have. Videos 11-12 are ones that I do if I want to try something different than the regular routine (or if my back is bothering me). And finally videos 13-15 are the ones Christopher and I rotate through at night time when we do yoga before bed. They are all pretty low key videos and help you stretch and relax before bedtime. We have loved these!

yoga-with-oreo

Oreo also loves yoga time! It’s not uncommon for him to share a portion of one of our mats while we’re practicing. He just loves to be close by. 😉

So tell me, do you practice yoga? Any favorite (beginner) videos I should try? 

Love Rach

Favorites: The Routine Things

You know how sometimes there are things that are just so a part of your normal routine that you don’t even realize how much you love them? Today’s post is all about me sharing some of my favorite routine things. 🙂

morning quiet time.jpg

Mornings kick off with my Bible, prayer journal, She Reads Truth devo, and a reading from Common Prayer (also daily online here). If you are looking for a good daily devotional – I really recommend She Reads Truth. And my husband really likes the He Reads Truth daily emails as well. We’ve been doing their devos for nearly a year now and while some have interested us more than others, we have definitely been blessed by the ministry as a whole. Also, I’ve been digging this smoothie again lately.

the skimm

After quiet time, I take a few minutes to check in on the news. I’ve used several different news sources over the years and theSkimm has been one of my favorites (thank you, Amy for recommending it!). It’s short and to the point and has underlying humor to it. {official disclaimer: if you use the link above to sign up, I get referral points which I think eventually lead to swag, but you guys know that I never recommend anything that I don’t actually use and love myself}

beautyblender.jpg{source}

I only wear make up once or twice a week, but I’ve found the most magic thing that makes me actually enjoy wearing makeup! The BeautyBlender! Okay yes, I know. Everyone else already knows about this, but until Elle from ElleSees really convinced me of how magical the BeautyBlender was, there was no way I was shelling out that much $$ for a make up sponge. And to be honest – I still didn’t at first. I put it on my Christmas wish list, ha! But I was given one and LOVED it. It has cut my make up application time in half because it blends so beautifully and easily. I’ve even bought a replacement one for myself since then which shows how much I love the BB since I spent my own money on it. 🙂 I’ve used both the pink one and the black one and like them both! Further Helpful Reading on BeautyBlenders: Why you should give the BB a chance, How to use the BB, and How to clean your BB.

gym selfie

This isn’t actually my gym (this photo was taken from a hotel we stayed in earlier this year), but I don’t have any photos of me at my actual gym so this will have to do. 😉 Anyway, time at the gym is another every-day favorite. I typically find myself at the gym for about an hour and a half every day, but it’s not a very intense hour and a half. I walk on a treadmill (with my face in a book) just fast enough to get my heart rate up, I lift light weights to tone & strengthen, and I do simple 10 minute ab workouts. My goal is to maintain my current weight and to keep my muscles (including my heart) strong and toned. So far, so good. 😉 If you have questions about my work out routine please let me know! I love to talk fitness!

fitbit on the beach.jpg{Rockin’ my FitBit on the beach last week. And if you look closely you can see Christopher’s clip-on FitBit on his pocket as well.}

My final daily favorite for this post: I love my FitBit. It’s a whole post for another time, but suffice it to say: I have loved having it this year. Competing with my family has been a lot of fun! So, if you have a FitBit and want to compete – I’m in! Let me know and I’ll add you. Unless of course you are going to kick my tooshy on the first challenge we do by running 10 miles and mowing the lawn all on a SUNDAY. Not naming any names coughKRISTENcough. Oh oops, it just slipped out. 😉 Just kidding, it was actually really great inspiration for me! 🙂

Do we share any favorites? 

Tell me about a favorite of yours! 

Love Rach

This is my Fight Song

Over the past couple of years I have received some difficult news from my doctor. Recently I got hit with another wave of difficult news from the doc. There have been moments in the past couple of years when we have grieved and been worried and we have definitely experienced those feelings in the past month, but like every time we hear hard news – we don’t stay there. Looking back, it’s amazing to me how much we have grown over this time. Each trial that comes our way, just draws us closer together. We are fighting this. Side by side. Hand in hand.

Lately I’ve had the chorus to Fight Song by Rachel Platten stuck in my head. Do you guys know this song? The whole song doesn’t really fit my situation, but the chorus is spot on. Check it out here:

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me!

Awesome, right? If you want to cry, watch this version where Rachel Platten sings it with a kid who is fighting cancer.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to deal with grief. I wrote about that a little bit here. We are definitely working through the difficult feelings and moments. But that’s not the end of it. We are looking forward. We literally name our blessings every day. Because we are grateful, but also to remind us of all the good in our lives. We are full of hope. And we are fighting this together.

Thanks friends for sticking with me through some of the more emotion filled posts. You guys are awesome. 🙂

Do you have a “Fight Song” that you play on repeat when you are dealing with something difficult?
Love Rach