Archive for the ‘stress’ Tag

Pregnancy Exercise   Leave a comment

I really wanted to run through my pregnancy. Oh well. How some women train for and run in marathons while pregnant is beyond me. I dropped as soon as the first trimester exhaustion train hit me. For a couple of months I could barely go for a mile walk. At one point I thought I had my energy back and I went running. I went on my previous short run route of two miles, and got almost three-quarters of the way before I had to stop and walk because I was afraid I’d collapse. I waited a few weeks before trying again. Then when I finally did have my energy back I got in one run before the temperature shot up into the mid-90’s. Given how difficult it is to stay hydrated while pregnant, and the risks of elevated body temperature to fetal development, I would not run while the daytime temperatures were above the low-90’s. And since we started October in the 100’s, that meant that I’ve only had a month of cool enough temperatures to even think about running. I was hoping to get in one 1-mile run per week, but I’ve only managed two runs in a month. I’ll take it. Unlike all the people who warned me that I wouldn’t be comfortable running with all the relaxin coursing through my body and stretched ligaments in my belly, I’ve had no pain in joints or abdominal region while running. Really intense soreness afterwards, yes, but pain no.

Since I couldn’t run through the summer I tried to figure out alternatives. Walks with the husband are good. Healthy for the body, the mind, and our relationship. Belly dancing, “slow calisthenics”, and light strength training have also been on my list. I’ve been trying to get back into regular strength training for a while now, with no success, so it’s not surprising that I haven’t been able to make it a go in the last few months. Occasionally I’ll do a couple arm exercises and some lunges or wall sits, but it’s been really hit or miss. I’m doing a little better with the slow calisthenics. By slow calisthenics I mean most of the same exercises I did back when I ran track and rowed crew: high knees, butt kicks, shallow jumps, and deep jumps. But what makes them slow is that I’m doing them without the jumping part. Even without the jumping aspect a few minutes of these exercises are both an aerobic and a strength workout. They are also the perfect way to finish off a little belly dancing session, as well. I never managed to drag myself out of the house to take a belly dance class, so I’ve only used the one video that I’ve had for years. At this point I know the basic moves from the video, I just suck at doing them, so I wrote down the list and instead of belly dancing in front of the TV in the living room I’m now belly dancing to a CD in our bathroom where I have a couple mirrors. One thing about belly dancing while pregnant is that I can’t see what my hips are doing, and my perception of what my belly is doing is totally off since in my peripheral vision it looks like my belly is always sticking out. Using the mirrors helps me know what I’m doing, and also helps to make sure that I’m not arching my back.

But what about those exercises that pregnant women are “supposed” to do? Things like pelvic tilts (aka cat and dog), leg lifts, and groin stretches? Well in my opinion slow calisthenics and belly dancing are a more fun way of doing pelvic tilts and leg lift-type exercises. I don’t do them every day, but hopefully it’s enough to keep my muscles toned and ready for the squatting etc of labor. I don’t have back pain, so I’m not worried about not doing daily cat and dog stretches. When I get out of the shower at night and my body is warm I try to remember to do some quick stretches. I’m rather proud of the fact that I can still touch my toes (I don’t think it counts as cheating that I have to spread my legs a bit to make room for the belly). In the next month I hope to focus more on flexibility and stretching, as well as not stressing out and tensing up my muscles. While I’m an expert at making life difficult for myself, I’d really like to have toned and relaxed muscles for labor and not make that any more difficult than it has to be.

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Posted November 7, 2012 by mayakey in health, pregnancy

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Time to Take Care of the Nestee   Leave a comment

Upon reaching the unfortunate “1 year of trying to conceive without success” milestone (it’s closer to 1.5 years on the calendar but interruptions like gallbladder surgery messed with the schedule), I started doing some self-evaluation in addition to testing. One of the things that I realized was that I had gotten distracted in this process and had been neglecting myself. I suppose this is in general a problem for many people, and mothers especially, but when trying to get pregnant I’d guess it is counter productive. I’ve been so focussed on house stuff and financial matters, and the intellectual side of trying to become a good baby-host, that I kept procrastinating the stuff that was just for me. After years of being pretty good about monthly massages, I got ONE massage in 2011. After a few years of being good about monthly clothing purchases I bought a pair of jeans and some socks in the first 10 months of 2011, and both of those were almost-emergency purchases (translation: I had 7 pairs of socks left, and jeans with an impending hole). I don’t remember if I did any home facials all year, most weekends involved fairly extensive to-do lists and attempts at productivity, and I can’t remember the last time I cuddled up with a good book. It’s not that I didn’t do anything fun, or that I wasn’t taking care of myself in the basic sense, but that I wasn’t taking care of my emotional/mental self.

As my friend also pointed out, I usually approach everything in life with a rather spiritual/emotional perspective, but so far have been largely intellectual on the trying to conceive front. I’ve focussed on reducing external stressors, eating right, maintaining my exercise routine, charting, taking supplements, and house-projects (nesting). Yes, I was doing some visualization, and trying to deal with internal stressors, but entirely unsuccessfully.

It is time for that to change. I am re-committing to myself. One of my personal golden rules is that I am the most important person in my life, and I need to live by my own rule. February has been a good month to get that started with two massages (courtesy of a gift certificate), a hair cut so that I like the person in the mirror for the first time in over  a year, and a consistent visualization practice. I created a daily invitation/prayer to my future child, and am doing myofascial release treatments in the pelvic region to release stored tension (the pelvic region is the seat of the second chakra, which deals with relationships and sexual function among other things). Maybe the most important thing is mentally putting my foot down on the recent habit of putting the house first, and the inclination to be busy. It’s hard since there’s so much I’d like to do, and I enjoy doing it; but it creates internal stress and pressure to do-do-do-go-go-go. Internal psychological pressures are a bear! Especially for those who could be described as planners, or people who love to have multiple “projects” going on at any given time.

Some of this stuff is considered luxury by many even if it isn’t: like monthly massages, hair cuts, or clothing purchases. On a spiritual/emotional level taking that sabbath-time for a massage, even just one hour a month, has a huge effect. No, your muscles will not stay loose, but the benefits of a release of surface tension, break from mental stressors, and possible release of stored tension will last longer when it is a regular practice. And believe me, not liking what you see in the mirror or dreading getting dressed in the morning because your clothes are worn out or you have to wear the same things every week, has an incredibly negative effect on a persons psyche.

Can Something Be Unknowingly Stressful?   Leave a comment

Alternative title: When other people insist that something is stressful, but you don’t think so.

This past week we went to the doctor for a fertility consult and are starting to do some testing since we’ve passed 15 months of trying (technically 12 months + 3 months off due to gallstones/gallbladder surgery) to get pregnant. In addition to discussing testing options, the doctor suggested that while it has been very helpful that I’ve been charting so that I know I’m ovulating, I should stop because it is stressing me out. Apparently it happens all the time that people stop charting and then get pregnant because the charting is “stressful”. When we walked out of the office, though, I told Mike that I have no intention of stopping charting. I think it would be WAY more stressful to not chart than it is to chart. In fact, the month that we moved into our current house I didn’t chart and it was incredibly stressful for me because I felt lost in my own body. It was like someone had taken away one of my senses, and I didn’t like that experience. Am I missing something here?

I got introduced to Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness Method by my friend, and started charting more than a year before we started trying to get pregnant. I was immediately hooked! The self-knowledge and self-understanding that comes with observing fertility signs is an incredibly wonderful experience to me, and I intend to continue charting through menopause. So observing my fertile signs and charting is just as much a part of my day as brushing my teeth, and occupies about as much of my mental state. Taking my temperature in the morning doesn’t require any more thought than to roll over and stick the thermometer in my mouth when my alarm clock first goes off. (It’s a zen alarm clock, with chimes at increasing frequencies following the golden ratio). Checking cervical fluid is just a matter of observation throughout the day. Sure, there’s a little bit of stress related to timing sex during the fertile phase. However it seems to me like it would be more stressful to do so without  observing fertile signs and having no idea when your body is at its most fertile. And I also question the idea that I experience more stress around the time when I might get my period than someone who’s not charting. It seems like we’d be going through the same emotions regardless since most women have a sense of how long they usually go between periods.

This is probably partially a personality thing, after all I am definitely an engineer and someone who wants to be intimately knowledgeable about/involved with myself and my health and wellness. Maybe there’s also a difference that I didn’t start charting when we started trying to get pregnant for the purpose of trying to get pregnant. This doctor was not the first doctor to suggest that charting may stress me out as my naturopath suggested the same thing about a year ago. Unless I’m in total denial or completely missing something, though, I do not feel that observing my fertile signs and charting is causing stress in my life and interfering with my ability to get pregnant. Is it possible to have other people tell you that something is stressful for you and yet not experience that thing as stressful? I think so, obviously, but I’d love feedback.

Posted January 15, 2012 by mayakey in conscious living, health, pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, self-care

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Why Do We Not Respect Our Limits?   Leave a comment

This past weekend was the San Francisco Green Festival again. As usual, a good time was had listening to speakers and making some super-discounted (and desperately needed) clothing purchases. I got free worm castings and feel somewhat more confident about the project to turn the plastic drums in the backyard into rain barrels. The day was significantly marred, however, on the drive home when I pushed myself beyond my limits for too long. We left a few minutes later than planned, and encountered an accident that created a long backup, so in order to get back to Sacramento in time for my sister-in-law to watch most of the Sacramento State football game I had to really make up time. As a result, for over two hours I made myself drive faster than I was comfortable driving on the busy freeway at night. Why? I don’t really know. Getting back home quickly was definitely not necessary, and she wasn’t pressuring me. Let me be clear, while my speed was higher than I was comfortable with at the time, it was slower than I sometimes drive during the daytime and I was moving with the flow of traffic, so it’s not an issue of unsafe driving. It’s a question of why not respect my limits and instead push my mind and body to a tension breaking point for no good reason. All it took was a silly trigger just before I reached home to cause me to completely loose it: screaming, crying, shaking, and not being able to take a real breathe. I was a complete wreck. And for what?

This extreme was a new experience for me, but it’s not the first time in my life that I have not respected my limits. You’d think I’d learn since the results are never good. But I’d also guess that I’m not alone in this affliction. Again I ask myself, why do I not respect my limits? It is the exact opposite of the conscious life that I strive for. Why not listen to my body, mind, heart, and intuition in situations like this? I haven’t yet answered my question.

Posted November 14, 2011 by mayakey in conscious living, musings

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