This is Only the Beginning

Well, it has been a week since I decided to share my fitness journey with all of you, and I am proud to say that I worked out 4 of those 7 days! Go me! To top it all off, I didn’t do a single class. I decided to jump in feet first and start doing my own workouts. Now I will be the first to admit that I definitely didn’t push myself as hard as I could have most of those days, but I am okay with not being super sore. Especially when I have to chase a toddler around all day, among everything else I juggle.

Here is a glance at the workouts I did each day…

Day 1

  • 20 minutes of cardio
  • Triceps
  • Biceps

I used the machines at the gym that targeted these areas. I wasn’t feeling the workout vibe this day as I didn’t sleep much the night before (shift work!), so I kept it short and sweet. The days you don’t feel up to it, are the days you don’t push yourself as hard, but you still do it! You won’t regret it, but you will regret not going at all.

Day 2 – a few days after day 1

  • 10 minutes of cardio
  • Upper back
  • Shoulders
  • Biceps
  • Chest
  • Abs

This day I was feeling great. Super energized and ready to work my muscles! Again, I used the machines that targeted each area. I find the machines easier in the beginning as I don’t have to try to figure out which exercises target which muscle. I just decide what I want to work, and find the machine that does that.

Day 3

  • 10 minutes of cardio
  • 5 minutes on the stair climber (thanks to my friend!)
  • Legs
  • Lower back
  • Abs

So, doing the stair climber before doing legs is not something I recommend, but my girlfriend insisted, so I did it. I felt it when it came time to work those muscles ha! I am trying to get a little bit of cardio in every time I work out because I have horrible cardio. If there was something chasing me I would for sure die, either from not being able to go fast enough or from a heart attack, so I feel the need to work on it!

Day 4 – Today’s workout

  • 10 minutes of cardio
  • Upper back
  • Lower back
  • Shoulders
  • Abs
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • 1/4 of a pull-up

My girlfriend and I decided to set a goal of being able to do 5 pull-ups by this summer. So, as you can see, I have a log way to go! Today I worked on whatever I felt was the right thing to do next, so I was kind of all over the place.

The next 2 days I can’t go to the gym so I will be working out at home. Tomorrow I plan on having an active recovery day with some yoga and some muscle rolling, but we will see how I feel. Up next, progress pics, or should I say beginning pics!

How are your workout goals coming along? Tell me in the comments below! Feel free to add pics as well!

Cheers!

Leah

March – Endo Awareness Month

March has become one of my favorite months because the Endo community is finally starting to have ways of raising awareness for this invisible disease that we live with everyday. Because people can’t SEE what we are dealing with, most of them will write us off as over exaggerating our pain. Some days are worse than others. There are days I can move through the pain, it is there, but I have learned to deal with it. And then there are days where I am stuck in bed, in the fetal position, heating pad cranked to high, waiting for a break in the debilitating pain that came that day.

While Endo can be controlled (for the most part) by changing our diets, there are still many other factors that we have to figure out on our own that cause flare ups. Unfortunately, finding someone to help us and take us seriously, or someone who knows anything about this disease is a hard task to accomplish (but not impossible).

I was diagnosed about 8 years ago, although I lived with this for much longer than that. I still remember when I went in for my follow-up appointment after my surgery. The doctor sat me down, told me I had Endo, and told me there was nothing I could do. When I was done having kids I could come back in and get my uterus and ovaries removed and then I would not have it anymore. I believed him.

It took me 3 years before I found out that my diet choices were a HUGE contributing factor in my pain. Before then, I spent about 75% of my days in horrid pain. I even had 3 weeks were I couldn’t move off of my floor because of a flare up. Being a single mom at that time, having to take 3 weeks off of work because I couldn’t move was not an ideal situation. Once I started researching the Endo diet and cutting out some of the items that were deemed not okay, I noticed a huge difference in the amount of pain and how often it was happening. I was astonished but it still took me until recently to really take the diet seriously.

Why? Because every time I went to see a doctor I was told some new non-truth about this disease and thought that there was no way I would ever have a normal life. So, if I was going to be in chronic debilitating pain anyway, I may as well enjoy what I eat, right? No, but no one told me any different, so I believed that for years.

A few years ago, I got serious into working out. I was lifting weights 5 to 6 times a week and I was loving it. I never felt so good. I was eating right, my body was in amazing shape, and I rarely had pain days. So, once again, I had learned something on my own, by accident, that was very beneficial to my health and my Endo. Unfortunately, my second pregnancy was very hard due to my Endo, and I was unable to continue working out because I was in so much pain all the time from my uterus stretching with all the scar tissue and lesions on it. So, I am back at the beginning, but I do intend on getting there again.

So, why am I telling you all of this? I want to share a very small part of my journey with Endometriosis to help raise awareness. We all have a voice and most times we are not heard when we need to be. I also want to share some very valuable resources in this post so that I can help anyone who is struggling to find out where to start when it comes to healing themselves and getting back to a “normal” life.

Books

I have read A LOT of books regarding Endo. But, here are some of my favorite that gave me the best information and a place to start.

  • Heal Endometriosis Naturally by Wendy K. Laidlaw – This book was the first that I ever read. It helped to give me a different outlook on this disease and how to go about healing myself.
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – While this one is not Endo related, I wanted to include it as it is a fantastic read and helps to change your mindset and the way we look at our situations that arise.
  • You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay – This one is more on doing the mental work to heal your ailments. According to Louise, we manifest our illnesses by our thoughts. For Endo she says that possible causes are “insecurity, disappointment and frustration. Replacing self-love with sugar. Blamers.” I know when I read that, it struck a chord or two.
  • The Endometriosis Health and Diet Program by Dr. Andrew Cook & Danielle Cook – This is the book I am currently reading. It goes in to great detail about why Endo reacts to certain things. It talks about the diet and WHY each food may affect someone. It talks about our hormones and what role they play in the disease. It gives exercises that are beneficial as well as a whole diet plan that will detox, and rebuild your healthy gut bacteria and maintain a healthy lifestyle that will aid in your healing process. Highly recommend this one.

Exercise

While I won’t give specific exercises to do because we are all different and I don’t want to tell you to do something that may cause pain, I do want to talk about how beneficial this is to women dealing with Endo. Exercise is already highly beneficial to everyone no matter who you are, but when you are dealing with Endo, it can actually help more than most women will admit.

When you are starting out, you need to take it easy. I know when I first started, if I pushed myself too hard, it meant I was down for the count for at least a week. When you are fighting back against this disease, you don’t have time to take a week off to rest and heal. So start small; light weights, light cardio, and body weight exercises. When I am in too much pain to do a good workout, I will hop on the elliptical or treadmill and walk slowly for about 20 minutes. I almost always feel a bit better, and I am always proud that I did it, even if it wasn’t much. I know sometimes I have pain that goes away when I move, and sometime it gets worse. So, pay attention to your body and don’t overdo it.

As you start to feel better, or you are having a good day, use those to increase your weight, or walk/jog/run longer. When you are feeling good, always try to use those days to push yourself as much as you feel comfortable. But remember, if it hurts, stop what you are doing. You never want to cause more pain, because that is only going to set you back.

Another great option for recovery days, or when you are in too much pain to workout is yoga! It has been a lifesaver for me when I can’t do much else, or I’m just not feeling the workout. It still moves my body, gives me an active recovery day, relaxes my muscles and relaxes my mind. As we all know (or should) stress is a huge factor in Endo flare ups. Yoga is a great way to let go of the stress and reset.

Diet

Diet plays a huge role in our well-being as I said above. While there are many resources and blogs out there that talk about the diet, they are all very general. No two women are the same, and not all the foods that put me in pain will affect you the same way or at all. I suggest reading The Endometriosis Health and Diet Plan that I talked about in the book section. It will help you to understand so much more about the disease and get you on the path to finding out your trigger foods.

I also suggest the Facebook group Endometriosis Nutrition and Holistic SupportThey have some fantastic information in there and will give you another great starting point on eliminating foods and finding out what affects you.

What Next?

There is so much information out there and it can be hard to know what is good and what is just a bunch of fluff. All I can say is that you need to fight for yourself. If you get a doctor that tells you there is nothing to be done, go find another. Never give up on yourself and research everything! Unfortunately, we almost always know more than any doctor, even the specialists. So go with your gut, if something doesn’t sit well with you, ask questions, and do more research.

I hope that this helps even a few people. I know I could have used more resources like this when I was learning what to do and how to handle the disease.

Is there any other amazing resources out there that have helped you? Leave a comment and share the knowledge with our fellow Endo Sisters!

Until next time.

Leah

 

*This post contains affiliate links*

Sexual Health – Why is it Such a Taboo Topic?

One of the things I love most about being a Pure Romance consultant is the ability to create comfortable environments for women to openly discuss sexual health. But, I wonder all the time, why is it such a taboo topic outside of the inner circle with a sex “expert”?

Well, in our society, it is not a topic that most families will talk about around the dinner table. We are made to feel as if we can’t talk about our sexual health openly and that we must keep it to ourselves. I am here to tell you that this mindset is bogus! We should not have to hide our feelings and what is going on with us just because it might make someone else uncomfortable. Too many women (and men) are not talking about things that they enjoy, or any health issues they are having “down there” out of fear of what others might think.

I heard something new the other day that made me stop and think. I was listening to an audio book called Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and she said “what other people think of you is none of your business.” Say what!?!? I have given up a long time ago caring, for the most part, what others think of me. In my business I need to be open because if I’m not, then how can I tell others to be…

But this statement really spoke to me. I was still holding on to some fear that someone at one of my parties may not like me, or the way I do my presentation. But, it doesn’t matter. They don’t decide my happiness, they don’t put food on my table, or pay my bills. So, why should I care what they think? The same goes for every single one of you that are reading this. Especially when it comes to sexual health.

There are too many of us out there that don’t understand that a lot of the “truths” we have grown up knowing are actually quite bad for your intimate health. I want to go into detail on a few of the top concerns I have after meeting hundreds of women who didn’t know any better. (P.S. they do now!)

You ALWAYS need a good lubricant when engaging in any type of sexual activity

Yes, even if you don’t think you do, you still do. Friction can cause women to dry up, and when that happens, you are opening yourself up to a world of possible issues. One being that it is much more likely that you will have vaginal tearing. You know that burning feeling you have gotten once or twice when you are peeing after sex? Yep, that is microscopic vaginal tearing. This heals as scar tissue, and will decrease your sensitivity over time. Nobody wants that, we already have a hard enough time getting our big O!

Another big reason is that women’s vagina’s can be very sensitive to infections and our PH balance is so very temperamental. Using a good lubricant can help to prevent us from getting UTI’s, bacterial infections, and keeping our PH balanced.

Soap and water is totally fine for cleaning your bedroom accessories – Not!

No! Straight up, NO! I have heard this from women time and time again. I most definitely understand why they think this would be okay, but let me tell you why it is not.

First off, soap is not toy friendly. It was not created to be gentle on your bedroom accessories and will cause them to break down faster. Especially when you pay good money for them, you don’t want them falling apart well before their time.

Second, soap is not PH balanced and vagina friendly. Especially for those women who are super sensitive, this is not going to keep your vagina feeling very happy. This can create something I like to call, angry vagina. Soap will not kill all of the bacteria like a good toy cleaner will. It was not designed to do that. But, wait, doesn’t it do that for your hands? Well, yes it does. But that was what it was created for…your hands. So, please, if you are going to invest in a good bedroom accessory (or even a cheap one) please invest in your vaginal health as well. It is worth the money!

One thing you want to look for when deciding which cleaner to buy is that it is PH balanced. Yes, some products created are not looking out for our best interests. Just like non-sexual products aren’t always what they seem, this can be the same for sexual products. Make sure to do your research and buy one that is right for you.

Women can just jump right into sex like men can – Again a big nope!

On average, women need at least 10 – 15 minutes of foreplay that they find sexually arousing before they are ready to engage in sex. Men don’t need quite so much time. If a women doesn’t allow herself sufficient time to become “ready” she can experience issues such as vaginal dryness and discomfort during intercourse. When given enough warm-up time, a woman’s vagina will also expand and start to lubricate naturally.

What kind of activities can you do for foreplay? That is going to depend on each person. But here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Using a bedroom accessory
  • Receiving a body massage from your partner
  • Engaging in dirty talk
  • Using props like blindfolds, feathers, cuffs, etc.

There is no right or wrong way to engage in foreplay, and there are endless ways to go about it. You need to find what works for you and your partner and build from there.

Engaging in foreplay also helps to bring a new sense of intimacy to your relationship as you will begin to explore and learn new things about each other (or ourselves). One of the biggest components to foreplay (or sex) is communication. Make sure to always communicate what you like, or don’t like so that you can enjoy the experience much more.

Anal sex – Where do I begin?

First thing you need to know before ever engaging in anything to do with back door play, is that any toy you use NEEDS to have a stopper on it. This is a non-negotiable when it comes to anal. Why? Because, our rectum’s are like vacuum cleaners, and will suck up anything that goes in too far. (hint: this is why we don’t poop ourselves on a regular basis) On top of that reason, our colons don’t have an end point like our vagina’s, so when it comes time to get out what went in too far…? Well, let’s just say that it will one VERY embarrassing trip to the ER to have it surgically removed.

So, now that we have covered that…let’s talk about ways to make it more enjoyable for you.

First, you need to make sure you use a silicone-based lubricant. Silicone lubricants have bigger molecules which means it won’t absorb into the skin as fast. Because we don’t self lubricate back there, we need to make sure that there is sufficient lubrication to make it easier and more pleasurable.

Next, you need to make sure that you are relaxed. When you are tensed up, so are your anal muscles, which means that it will be a lot harder to get anything in there. If you don’t want to have a drink or 2 (but maybe don’t get drunk the first few times) you can buy products such as “Booty Eaze” by Pure Romance which will help to relax the muscles around the anus allowing you to have a much more pleasurable experience.

And last but not least, make sure that you start small and use good communication. Tell your partner if something doesn’t feel right or it hurts. There should never be pain when engaging in anal play. Communication is key in so many aspects of our bedroom life, and especially when it comes to anal.

Questions?

There are so many things I could talk about when it comes to sexual health, but it would go on forever.

If there was anything the interested you, or something you had questions about, feel free to leave a comment and I will reply. If you would like to leave me suggestions on what you would like to know more about, I will work on creating more posts based on what everyone would like to know!

I hope that some of this information was helpful or intriguing, until next time…

Leah

Endometriosis – What is it?

In my about me page, I told you all that I live with a disease called endometriosis. It is actually quite a common disease that about 1 in 10 women live with during their reproductive years.

What is Endometriosis?

In my own words, it is when the lining of a women’s uterus (endometrium) starts growing on the outside of their organs (ovaries, uterus, stomach, intestines, etc.). That is the plain and simple version of what it is. But, for those of us who live with it know that it is much more than that.

During menstruation, the endo on the organs breaks down and sheds just like it does inside the uterus. The only difference is that it has nowhere to go inside of you but to other organs. Every month, when a woman gets her period who has endometriosis, she bleeds internally as well. This is how the disease spreads to different spots of an organ, or to other organs all together. Once the endo is bad enough, many women will begin to develop cysts and adhesions, as well as scar tissue and it increases our chances of having infertility and ovarian cancer.

The truth is that unless you have it, there really is no one way to explain it. Every woman who has it will have different symptoms and it will be in different places inside the body than the next woman. No two woman’s disease is alike, which makes it hard to explain to other people what it is and how it affects us.

Causes of Endometriosis

No one knows the exact cause of endo, but there are a few theories out there. All of which could be true and make sense.

  • Sampson’s Theory of Retrograde Menstruation

This theory proposes that menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows backwards through the Fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity rather than out of the body. These cells that should have been shed during menstruation can then lead to implantation and further spreading of endometriosis lesions.

  • Stem Cell Theory

Some believe that the cells responsible for regeneration of the endometrial lining during menstruation may also play a role in the development in endometriosis. The spreading of these stem cells to ectopic regions can then lead to the differentiation of endometrial cells and cause endometriosis.

  • Genetics

This has been studied through a micro perspective in the case of changes in gene expression to a more macro level in terms of what it means to have a family history of endo.

These are just a few of the many theories out there, but unfortunately none have been proven or disproven.

In my own opinion, I fully believe that the majority of endo is caused by the crap in our food. The hormones in the plastic and tin that our food comes packaged in. The chemicals sprayed onto our food. The hormones injected into the animals we consume to be able to mass produce.

By cutting these things out of our diet, we can help ease the symptoms and how fast the disease spreads. I will write a post on this at another time and go into greater detail.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

There are many symptoms that come with endo, and not everyone has the same ones. Some of the most common symptoms of endo include:

  • Painful periods
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Pain with urination or bowel movements
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infertility
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • chronic fatigue

Again, these are not all of the possible symptoms that you could have from living with endo. Some women experience all of the symptoms, while others experience only a few or even none. Each experience is different, which is why a lot of doctors don’t understand the disease itself. It is also why a lot of people don’t believe or understand what we go through because this is known as the “invisible disease.”

Early Warning Signs

If you know what to watch for, you may be able to catch the disease and get a handle on it before it gets too bad. Some common early warning signs of endo include:

  • Heavy painful periods
  • Abnormal monthly bleeding

While many women can have a lot of the symptoms mentioned above right from the beginning, some women only have the two mentioned here to start with. Many doctors will write this off as a common “woman problem” and won’t look into it any further. This is what happened to me. My periods from day one were debilitating, and I often was stuck in the fetal position for days. If you know that the pain you are feeling isn’t normal, push for someone to look further into what it could be.

Treatment Options for Endometriosis

There are a lot of options out there to help manage your symptoms of endo, but there is no cure. The route you go for managing your endo will depend on you level of comfort when it comes to hormonal treatments or surgery.

Personally, I have always turned away the drug options as the side effects are far worse and last far to long after stopping than it is worth. Some women have had great success with drug treatments, while others have experienced horrible side effects and no relief from the endo pain.

I have thrown around the idea of surgery, but still not 100% on that option either. There are always side effects to having any surgery and I haven’t decided if it will be better than the pain itself yet.

One treatment option I am sure we can all agree on though is healing naturally! I have started reading a book called Healing Endometriosis Naturally: WITHOUT Painkillers, Drugs, or Surgery by Wendy Laidlaw. She talks a lot about why the traditional options can do more harm than good, as well as how much hormonal imbalances can affect endometriosis. So, if you are willing to put in the hard work, this may be a great place to start!

What Now?

There is so much information out there on what endo is and how to deal with it. But at the end of the day, you need to find what works for you. As I said above, no woman will have the same symptoms, and no woman will have the same outcome to drugs and surgery. You have to find what makes you feel good. It is a lot of work, but it is possible to live and (almost) pain-free lifestyle with this disease.

One of the best ways to manage your symptoms is by checking out your diet, and eliminating any foods that are inflammatory. There are plenty of resources out there that explain what foods are bad and why, but I just read the book called “Heal Endometriosis Naturally: Without Painkillers, Drugs or Surgery” by Wendy Laidlaw. There was a lot of good information in there and helped me to see this disease in a different light, and to create a new plan to living with it. It can be found in the Amazon Kindle app.

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