women's health

Meet The Sponsors: LEAD

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The Modern Woman Show & Expo is fast approaching and we want to take a minute to talk about Lead Pilates & Cycle and Integrated Health & Wellness. This amazing local business is a show sponsor, will be showing their studio-to-street fashion on Saturday night’s runway, and hosting not one, but two amazing workshops. 

Lead is Saskatoon’s premiere Integrated Health and Wellness facility. Home to over 80 weekly Pilates-based fitness classes that make you sweat, strong, stretch and move, The clinic offers Chiropractic, Naturopathic Medicine, Massage Therapy, Physiotherapy, Clinical Counselling, Reflexology + BodyTalk and Athletic Therapy.  

 
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At 10am on Saturday, April 14 the instructors from Lead are hosting a Pilates-based Bootcamp Fusion class that is sure to get your heart pumping, booty and legs burning, and your abs shaking. This class is perfect for the modern woman looking for a full body burn in just 45 minutes. 

At 10am on Sunday, April 15 Lead’s Founder, Jana Danielson, will be hosting “Love the Life You Lead”, an interactive workshop offering tools to improve your health and address the obstacles that may be holding you back. With a focus of nutrition, hydration, sleep, and movement, join Jana for what’s sure to be an inspiring and informative experience. 

Tickets to both classes are $10 and include the cost of the workshop, general admission to the show, and a swag bag. Who doesn’t love swag?

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Lead’s studio-to-street fashion will be featured on the runway for Saturday night’s fashion show. They will be showcasing spring pieces from their amazing in-house lines such as Alo, Body Language, MPG, and Free Label. You will be able to see these trendy and versatile pieces on the runway, and then shop the looks for yourself at Lead’s booth following the show!

Tickets to this event are $47 and VIP tickets holders have access to the lounge at 5:30pm for cocktails, appies, and music by DJ Kush. These tickets also get holders preferred seating, the chance to win amazing prizes, and an awesome swag bag. The fashion show hosted by CTV’s Chantel Saunders begins at 6:30pm. 

 

Tickets for all three events are available at www.modernwomansaskatoon.com 

 

See you there!

Katie

Xoxo

Take Control of Your Fertility

It seems so easy for some and so difficult for others. What can we do to help our bodies conceive? Photo cred: infertility blogger wakeupsurvivesleep.com

It seems so easy for some and so difficult for others. What can we do to help our bodies conceive? Photo cred: infertility blogger wakeupsurvivesleep.com

As an infertility blogger and advocate and director of an infertility based non-profit, I receive a lot of messages/e-mails in a day. The number one question I get asked is, “what can I do?” They want to get pregnant, have a beautiful full term baby and enjoy the newness of motherhood either again or for the first time. However, it’s not happening as they expected and they’re frustrated with a medical system that continually fails them. Unexplained infertility is on the rise. PCOS diagnoses is on the rise. It seems there are environmental factors at play preventing these women from conceiving that we can’t confidently identify yet. Knowledge is power so here are a few of the tips I suggest*:

*Note: I am not a doctor. I just know what has potential to help and I am sharing my own knowledge and advice based on my own experiences. Consult with your doctor or fertility physician before starting any of these.

 

SUPPLEMENTS and VITAMINS

  • Chasteberry (Vitex)

The go-to herb for women’s issues for centuries, chasteberry is believed to help with fertility hormones via the pituitary gland. It helps increase progesterone production and helps increase the luteinizing hormone hormone (the hormone that triggers ovulation to occur). It’s used to treat mild endometriosis. chasteberry has also proven effective in regulating menstruation. If you lack a proper cycle, take chasteberry. If you’re irregular, take chasteberry. If you need to stabilize your period after coming off of birth control, take chasteberry! It also helps reduce cysts growing in the uterus. DO not use if taking hormone supplements. It could interfere.

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  •  Evening Primrose Oil

Another great fertility aid, evening primrose oil (EPO) offers an array of help for fertility in women. For one, it helps improve overall uterine health and reduces inflammation and PMS symptoms. It also increases cervical mucous production- a vital key in helping sperm make their way home. Sperm need mucous to swim to the ovum. EPO is one of few plants that contain GLA: an omega 6 fatty acid, Gamma Linolenic Acid: a necessary acid required to make prostaglandin E. Prostaglandins are like messengers that tell the cells what to do and when. They are all over the body and therefore secretion is more immediate whereby it helps control the regulation of hormones. These same omega 6 fatty acids are believed to have a direct effect on the uterine cells. It helps the uterine muscle contract and relax, essentially toning and preparing itself for pregnancy. DO not use after ovulation. Natural Fertility Info suggests 1500-3000mg 1-2x a day for cycle days 1-14 if you are actively trying to conceive.

  • Red Raspberry Leaf

Raspberries are delicious but their leaves have immense benefit for the body as well. The leaves are rich in carotendoids, citric acid, vitamins A, B complex, C and E and fragrine; this contributes to its delightful capabilities as a uterine tonic, as an astringent to stop heaving menstrual bleeding, and an aid boost egg quality and nutritional deficiencies. A nutrient rich uterus is far more liable to conceive and carry a healthy baby. It’s also good for uterine trauma: if you’re recovering from a surgery red raspberry leafs healing and toning properties will help in the recovery.

Recommendations show drinking 1 cup, 1-3x a day HOWEVER because of its effect on the uterine muscles, if you have a history of miscarriages or a weak uterus and are wanting to conceive, start drinking this 3-6 months PRIOR to prepare your body and uterus for pregnancy. Similarly, do not drink after cycle day 14 if actively trying to conceive.

There are many other vitamins and supplements you can take such as nettle leaf, fish oil, dandelion and folate but I would be here all day with you explaining them. I chose these three because I believe they are the most effective and beneficial for immediate fertility health. Consult your physician to discuss which course of action is best for you and your diagnosis.

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NUTRITION

The food we put in our body is a big factor to our health, obviously! If you’re eating a lot of greasy, deep fried foods with little to no water and no nutrient dense meals each day, your body won’t give you a baby. We need a variety of fruits, vegetables and proteins combined with lots of water to give our body the optimal nutrition needed. If PCOS is your diagnosis, I strongly suggest seeing a nutritionist to discuss a change in your eating plan. No doubt that person will tell you to eliminate inflammatory foods such as diary, sugar and wheat. Inflammation wreaks havoc on the body. Eliminate the foods that cause you bloating, discomfort, swelling, sore joints etc. for optimal health. Also, eat for the seasons. This was impressed upon me by my homeopath and Carly Rae, a pelvis care specialist and they were both right. It is hard on our bodies to break down cold foods and it’s even harder in winter months. Our bodies work in overdrive to digest these cold foods. It’s suggested you focus on warming the body. In winter months, eat a lot of soups, stews and warming spices like cinnamon and turmeric. Drink golden milks and avoid raw foods (which are also hard on the body to digest). In summer months, eat foods that are in season and cooler. Follow the foods of the seasons and see if that impacts your nutritional health.

Food is thy medicine
— Hippocrates

SEX

This is tough because we all know that conception sex when you’ve been struggling to conceive is ugly and lifeless. We wait til the ovulation test says GO and we mechanically get the job done. But Aimee Raupp, an infertility specialist in NY, suggests having sex three times a week, EVERY week. A lot, I know but hear me (or her!) out. Our bodies see sperm as invaders. It’s actually quite crazy how a baby is even conceived when the body does whatever it can to prevent the sperm from meeting the egg. There’s follicles along the fallopian tubes to trap them. There’s a current they must swim against. There’s two routes to choose with only one having the egg. The egg isn’t easily penetrable. Needless to say, it’s a treacherous journey. With constant sex though, we prime our bodies to be more hospitable to those sperms.

 

ORGASMS

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Again, this is tricky. You could be in the midst of your journey where you stiff star-fish and hubby gets the job done because you’re sick of trying or maybe you’re one of many women who can’t orgasm. But the studies are there and they’re screaming loudly that female orgasm helps conception. The contraction of the uterus during an orgasm helps move the sperm up faster, getting more of them to the egg for optimal penetration (during ovulation of course). Another study showed that when women had their orgasm 45 minutes after male ejaculation (45 minutes though? Does that actually happen?!-just sayin’) there was still significant sperm retention. The retention was even greater when the woman climaxed one minute before her partner (that sounds more like it!). Basically, get your freak on and get it on often and with lots of orgasms. Fellas, take note.

THINGS TO AVOID

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Take a look in your bath tub or medicine cabinet. Look in your make up drawer and under the kitchen skin. Check the ingredients in your products. The products we use affect our health. If your shampoo is loaded with parabens and phthalates, change them. If your cleaning product ingredient label are words you can’t pronounce, ditch them. The internet is riddled with homemade, effective cleaning solutions. More and more companies are exploding into the market that are all natural and safe. It only takes six seconds for a product applied on our skin to get into our blood stream. Many mainstream products are essentially poison. Sodium Lauryl Sulfates (and variations of it) are in many products, usually as the number one ingredient after water, (ingredient labels are labelled in order of highest to lowest concentration), and is what gives us “lather.” It’s a known skin irritant and there’s strong link to hormonal imbalances (not good for the woman with fertility/reproductive issues!) among other issues such as poor eye development in children. If you are unsure about the product you’re using, download the app Think Dirty or check with the EWG.org website. Ditch the chemicals and spend the extra time and money on finding products that enhance your health, not endanger it.

OPTIONAL PROCEDURES

Fertility massage or ATMAT  can help break down adhesions and promote better circulation

Fertility massage or ATMAT  can help break down adhesions and promote better circulation

To maximize fertility, there are a few other options to consider. Fertility acupuncture is available. Chiropractic techniques can help in aiding fertility. Massage for promoting circulation and fertility are viable and relaxing options too. If your period colour is a deep burgundy red, your circulation is poor. You should have periods that are an oxygenated bright red colour. If it’s not, see your doctor or a homeopath or naturopath. Homeopaths and Naturopaths offer a completely different approach as well. My homeopath helped me strength my uterine lining, oxygenate my blood and ensure my nutrition was on the right track. Yoga for fertility is also an option. There are a lot of videos and practitioners willing to do sequences to maximize uterine health. Arvigo Techniques Maya Abdomnal Therapy (ATMAT) is another modality to consider. It’s a massage technique designed to align the internal organs and the uterus in their proper place. It improves the flow of fluids and energy and releases physical and emotional congestion. Look for a provider near you. If you’re in the Saskatoon area, I highly recommend Carly Rae for this. Perhaps if your infertility is unexplained; I would suggest a reiki session. It's an energy modality that helps release emotional and physical blocks and channel positive, universal energy that can work wonders on the physical body.

I hope this blog post leaves you feeling educated, empowered and inspired to take different actions. There’s much we can do for our bodies if we only have the knowledge and wherewithal to do it. Some are financially feasible while others may require some saving on your part, especially if you don’t have benefits. Some changes are difficult (what do you mean give up ice cream and cheesy buns?) and some may seem simple (ok, I can have a cup a tea today). Whatever you decide to do with this information, make sure you consult with your doctor. If you have a diagnosis already, much of this information may be futile to you. If it’s unexplained, this could be very beneficial. However, knowledge is power. Take this power and take control of your fertility.

 

 

It's Okay to Be Okay...or not.

The other day a new friend, a fellow Phoenix mama, expressed sympathy for my four recurrent miscarriages. She apologized for the losses and said, “oh, your poor heart.” While I certainly appreciated the love and her sweet, kind heart, I didn't feel the sting of pain. In fact, I felt nothing.  There was no sadness or anger or angst like there had been for years before. Instead, there was just gratitude for her acknowledging my journey and my angel babies. But I spent the next 24 hours examining myself. Was my depression creeping back in? Had I lost all capacity to feel somewhere between the second and third loss? Was I numb? Truth be told, I panicked a bit.

A few days later, I asked another friend for some blog ideas and she suggested this exact topic. She too was a Phoenix mama: she lost her son at 23 weeks. We discussed at length these feelings, or lack thereof, and that it wa scaring me. She reassured me with her own similar feelings and how, with time and grieving and support, we heal and that's okay. But yet, we still feel guilty for it.

It’s as though we think that if we move on and find happiness after the loss (and this can be any loss-not just infant or pregnancy) we are betraying them. We think we aren’t allowed to experience joy again when our world had previously crumbled. We think our happiness isn’t deserved and somehow, the loss needs to stay with us in some negative, cloud-hanging-above-us way that prevents us from forgetting what happened. Because, of course, if we’re happy and moved on, we think we will forget them.

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Similarly, when we find this strength and resiliency after a loss, we feel guilty for that too. I know I especially do. When I miscarried the third time, I had quite a bit of time alone to cry most of my tears and grieve. Plus I had a few tools under my belt for bereavement so I was able to process more quickly that time. A few days later, I had two friends bring meals for us (at separate times) and they both cried while standing in my living room while I awkwardly consoled them. I understood their pain in knowing their friend was going through a terrible loss but it was weird to be okay when it was happening to me and they weren’t okay. I felt like I was supposed to be hysterical and upset to show others how awful the loss was to us. I felt that if I wasn’t crying and grieving outwardly, the loss didn’t matter to me. I also felt like my strength portrayed me as unfeeling and bitchy. It can be strange to see someone be fine so soon after a loss but we all grieve in different ways and at different stages. It's never linear and it's never the same with each loss. When my friend’s dad died, she was more relieved he wasn’t suffering anymore and her grief didn’t show itself as hysterical tears when she told me his death story. Grief isn’t a one size fits all. And that’s okay.

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I’ve since learned that it’s okay to be okay. I can’t imagine any lost loved ones are looking upon us and wishing us ill will for moving on and finding happiness again. I’d like to believe my angel babies want me to be happy after suffering so many times before. Once in awhile, in a seemingly random and unexpected moment, I'm hit with that wave of sadness again but then I think about where I am in that exact moment and am thankful for the hardships because I am the best version of myself for that time because of what's happened. Moving on doesn’t mean we will forget them, not if we don’t allow it. That’s why many people want their loved ones recognized. When we say their names or send kind messages on anniversaries, we keep their memory alive. When we hang pictures and tell stories and shoot a shot in their honour, we keep them alive in our hearts.

And in our hearts is where it matters most.

I’ve also learned that it’s okay to not be okay. Sometimes grief is so heavy it smothers us. We feel like we can’t breathe and getting through the day seems damn near impossible. I rarely have these days myself now but I know many people that do. Your job as the okay person is to love them through it. Check in daily whether through email or text or a phone call. Bring a meal or a book or a bubble bath kit even if they say they don’t need anything. We always need something in times of grieving but can rarely decipher what it is so opt to saying, “It’s okay, I don’t need anything.” Grieving people don’t want to feel like a burden on others so more often than not, they don’t reach out. Thankfully there are so many online and in-person support groups now that grieving can be felt in a safe, healthy space with people who are also grieving. Many people are not okay, and that’s okay. There is always someone to listen, to cry with, to hug you, to bring you anything. We grieve to process and then heal. We only hope we come out of the other side of it strong and healthy, ready to move on with love and acceptance.

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To be okay is okay. To not be okay is also okay. We are all perfect souls in imperfect bodies trying our best to make the most out of this life. Whether you have healed and are okay or haven’t healed yet, there are many people in your corner rooting for you, including the ones you’ve lost. They’re in your heart, you memories, your energy awaiting your triumphant rise a new kind of happiness once again.

 

 

Don't Fear the Reefer

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Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. Why would one of the Modern Woman girls be blogging about weed?! The tragedy, the scandal, whatever is this world coming to?

 

Still with me? Fabulous.

 

We all know cannabis by many names, weed, reefer, dope, pot, marijuana, maryjane, ganja etc. As much as these were all the norm for the past several decades, we’re coming into a time here where cannabis is making it’s grand reappearance on the global stage. Not to get too history-ey but it is worth noting that cannabis has been used for hundreds, thousands, millions of years for dozens of different things.

 My favourite fun fact is that Queen Victoria did in fact use cannabis tincture to quell the pain of her period cramps, good ol’ Vicky and I have that in common. 150 odd years later, and here I am using that same cannabis tincture recipe to make gummy bears that replace the advil in my medicine cupboard. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve dealt with chronic migraines most of my adult life and I’d rather eat a gummy bear once or twice a day than roll the dice with what pharmaceutical painkillers are going to do to my liver down the road. That’s not to say pharmaceuticals are bad! That mostly says that I’m extremely paranoid and live in fear.

 

And that doobie you smoked in college while you were experimenting? Definitely not the same plant we’re seeing these days. Cannabis prohibition caused so many growers to breed out so much of the good stuff and bump up the levels of the psychoactive stuff (which is still good, but that’s another rant for another day).

 

As it stands in Canada here, cannabis is currently only legal for medical purposes, so that means we’re seeing more and more information and research surfacing on how cannabis can help and hinder us. And the way I see it, that’s great! Give me the lab tests, show me your lack of pesticides! Immuno-compromised? Try an irradiated product! There’s so many options out there for people nowadays that there’s almost no reason not to at least open your mind to it a bit.

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 That THC molecule that makes you so giggly and paranoid? In a therapeutic amount it will alleviate your pain and calm depression.

 

 The munchies? Imagine how that feels to someone suffering from an eating disorder.

 

THC’s best friend and partner in medicinal crime, CBD, has no to little psychoactive effect but is quickly becoming one of the most popular oils and buds that producers sell because it lowers anxiety levels, helps with inflammation and some studies are solidifying their findings of CBD slowing the development of certain cancers.

 

This is all great news to a lot of people who suffer with a host of illness’. I know, as someone who works in the medical cannabis field, I’ve seen amazing things happen. I wouldn’t go so far as to say miracles because, well, that’s a bit much. However, if I can see a simple plant improve someone’s quality of life, then it’s all worth it.

 

 I started out working in this field long after I became a patient myself, battling breast cancer when you already don’t have the hardest working immune system presents a challenge. All of the pills I was dependent on to live were starting to wear me down, in more ways than one. As a long time nay-sayer to weed I was reluctant to use it, medicinal or otherwise.

That all changed when I started chemotherapy. I hadn’t eaten or slept in days, I just laid there and cried about the pain in between reruns of Say Yes To The Dress. On day 8 of not keeping food down, I broke. I smoked a bowl and low and behold, ate the toast. I also stopped crying, my anxiety and fear that had been operating at 110% for weeks finally started to dissipate. It was like clouds parting, I was sentient, I was alive.

 

 Years later, here I am, writing this article and spraying peppermint flavoured THC spray under my tongue to deal with the wild lower back pain my estrogen suppressants give me. I’m in remission, but that doesn’t mean I ever stopped using cannabis, I suffer from PTSD as well and as anyone who’s ever dealt with that knows, flashbacks and triggers are exactly ZERO fun. THC allows you to step outside of that VCR-esque rewind and replay you get stuck in, which I wouldn’t trade for any pill in the world.

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All of this being said, I’m a huge advocate for recreational cannabis use as well.

 

Contrary to the typical ‘stoner stereotype’ that exists, I own exactly 0 bob marley merchandise, I have never had dreadlocks, and I do not live in my mother’s basement playing video games all day. I simply am a part of a generation that is pushing forward a change in how we see alcohol, cannabis and other vice-like past times.

 

 I’m no stranger to a glass (bottle) of wine every once in awhile, but I’ve also seen alcohol do some pretty terrible things to families and individual’s lives. So, in the name of hereditary alcoholism and my sad, sad liver I choose to partake in cannabis instead. Most days. I’m weak, don’t judge me.

Smoking a joint has the desired effect of taking away the stress of the day, while alleviating my aches and pains. Hip-hip hooray for no hangovers and a full night's sleep!

 

Smoking a joint? That’s so unhealthy! Correct, but we all have our crosses to bear and mine is the love of looking like a badass James Dean smoking in a leather jacket. Quote this article when I develop the black lung. Alas, smoking isn’t even the most popular way to ingest cannabis now! My absolute favourite part about using cannabis is that the world is your metaphorical oyster. Sublingual oils, concentrates, and edibles, oh my! Currently under health canada’s laws, approved companies can only sell dried bud and sublingual oils, but you can also tweak these two things to make your cannabis work for you. Use a hair straightener to make rosin, use your slow cooker to infuse coconut oil, whatever you like. Girl’s just want to have fun, after all.

 

Julie Vickaryous XOXO

Back To Good

I've recently spent a good chunk of time living in a zombie like state of chaos. I've been checked out mentally and physically and didn't even realize it. I felt like I was accomplishing my day-to-day activities, but then I blinked and maybe a month had passed, maybe two? Maybe 6? I don't know, but I DO know that we all get stuck in ruts from time to time. Sometimes our lives can unravel right in front of our noses. I'd like to say it happens to the best of us, but frankly, I have no idea what kind of life problems you people out there in Internet Land have. Let's just say that you can relate to this. If not, click the back button, cause this post isn't for you. If you've ever found yourself coasting day to day like that Groundhog Day movie, except not one bit funny... read on, friends. 

I was lost and I had no idea. The smiling, funny, ambitious, compassionate, adventurous girl I knew when I looked in the mirror had left the building, and a deadpan version had taken her place. I had become really good at faking it sometimes, sometimes not. That was not ok. Not for me, and not for those closest to me. Let's be real, the he ones you love end up taking the brunt of something like this, because we often take them for granted, or we don't notice how our actions even differ from one day to the next.

I ended up unexpectedly hitting a wall, and I was forced to realize that some changes needed to happen for me asap to break out of my Garbage Pail Kid state and find myself again. After all, how can you be the best person for for those you love when you aren't respecting yourself? They say you have to do it for YOU, but sometimes you want to do it for others too, and it pushes you that much harder. 

An authetic paparazzi capture of me currently trying to bumble through life. 

An authetic paparazzi capture of me currently trying to bumble through life. 

I started with small things and will keep working on cultivating my little personal growth seed. Things take time. When dealing with self-care, I tell myself each day is a new opportunity to be humble and do the best I can. (Chicken Soup For The Soul Anyone?? God, what has become of me?) Realistically, some days I get up and feel like there is no reason to do anything other than go back to bed. But its one day at a time with these things. We, as women, (and for those male readers who can relate to this), think. We are thinkers. We are often over thinkers. Sometimes that thinking can propel us forward with strength and grace, and sometimes it leaves us feeling defeated, internalizing the blame for everything you felt you've ever done wrong.  For now, if you're struggling too, here are my Top 10 little things for starting to get myself back to good. 

1. Making my bed. Seriously. Such a small thing, but something I started doing before anything else in the morning. Start the day with a small accomplishment that will be waiting for you when the day is done. 

2. Making sure my dogs get a run. It is a priority and a privilege to treat other living things with respect, rather than viewing them as a hassle. As humans, we are all they have. 

3. Feed and water myself. This should be a no-brainer, but not necessarily the case when you are a resident of Zombieland. I try to always have a huge cup of tea in the morning and strive for at least 80oz of water a day. This is aside from wine, mmmkay? Then eat something, anything, try to pick something healthy I guess. Or live off Triscuits if you must, its better that nothing. 

4. Make a plan. What do I need to get done today?  I make an effort to clean up and respect my space so I can have some clarity.  I may not get every daunting thing done at once, and some things may get done later than sooner, but I make a list and take it one task at a time. Yard work, fixing shit, decluttering, washing walls, it all sucks. However, it's satisfying when something gets done, because I can check it off the list. I love lists. 

5. Take the time to make someone else feel good about themselves. The smallest thing can make someone's day. I believe in putting little bits of good energy out there, because it will come back around. A little check in with someone can go a long way in today's checked out world. 

6. Cry it out. Sometimes you just have to. Sometimes it will come out of nowhere, sometimes in unfortunate places and situations. Often it happens at home, when you are alone. Sometimes it might feel like a private purge of emotion, but most times you will likely wish someone else was there to see you at your worst and comfort you. It's when nobody is there that you really are forced to dig down deep and find your strength. 

7. Make time for physical activity. Easier said than done, cause frankly, it sucks ass. But our bodies and minds are connected and if they are outta whack, we won't feel good. It gives us clarity. I try to pick something that I don't dread that day, maybe something new, take a workout friend, switch it up. Even just go for a walk. (Maybe I should get some of those weird walking sticks I see people with... google them, they are bizarre.) Just get out and move. 

8. Indulge. Watch a shitty reality tv show, read a crappy thriller, meet friends for a beer, take a soak in the hot tub, drink the expensive glass of wine. Do those little things that make you feel sneaky and awesome. Maybe it's sitting by yourself watching re-runs of Master Chef while eating cold ravioli out of a can... Is that beyond the scope of acceptable? #askingforafriend

9. Choose kindness. Choose optimism. Choose forgiveness.  Choose love. Believe in happy endings. It can be difficult in hard times, I know, but break out those rose coloured glasses whenever you possibly can. 

10. Sleep. I don't care how you do it. I do it my own way with good old fashioned sleeping pills because that's how I roll. it's about as badass as I get. But you can meditate, use breathing exercises, smoke dope, take melatonin, get someone to knock you out with a frying pan for f*cks sake, or by all means, join the pharmaceutical Valley Of The Dolls like me. Have a good bed, good pillows, and remember that your body can't function without proper rest. 

Are all of this things easy? Hell no. If they were I wouldn't be writing about this floofy crap. But but when things are sh*tty,, we have to start somewhere. Will my little things work for you? Maybe, but maybe not. We all need to find ways to plant our little seeds and try to feel calm, accomplished, and worthy of living another day. So even if there is one person out there who feels like you're living in chaos and cruising along in a big ol' rut - take a deep breath, ask for help, you aren't alone. 

Take it one day at a time. 

Start by making your bed. 

Katie xoxo

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness: step up

Fitness trackers. They are everywhere. Fitbit, Garmin, Apple ... you name it, they make it. So why are they so popular?

Well. Let me tell you why I love mine. I have a Fitbit One. It's a little bitty thingy that I clip on my bra that tells me what's what. Am I a sloth? Am I less of a sloth? If indeed I am a sloth that day, it is a techy reminder to get up and run around the block or whatever fit people do. 

These things also monitor heart rate, calories burned, stairs climbed, and even sleep patterns. It's pretty cool really. Many designers such as Michael Kors and Tory Burch have even jumped on board creating more fashionable ways to wear your tracker because, let's face it, they're ugly. (Hence why I chose the hidden clip model.)

There are two things I personally like about Fitbit. One is their customer service, it's awesome and you talk to real people when you have a problem. They understand the panic when you have an issue tracking your steps ... after all, if your Fitbit didn't track those steps, did they even really happen? Answer: No. 

The other thing I love is the challenges. I am a super competitive person so the fact that I can add a network of friends to my Fitbit world and have weekly races to get the most steps is motivation at its finest. Just ask my family and friends about the times I've been walking circles around the house or running on the spot to get ahead of so-and-so. True story. "Circle walking" has become a coined term when referring to my Fitbit antics. I have a group of people that routinely do challenges together, and although I know them all in one way or another - many don't know each other. All they know is that they are step competition and they must be destroyed. If you think I'm exaggerating, you've never been part of The Workweek Hustle or The Weekend Warrior.

My peeps... they vary week to week, but most of us are regulars!

My peeps... they vary week to week, but most of us are regulars!

They say you're supposed to get 10,000 steps a day. Ok, reality check. You might think that's easy, but for those of us who work at a desk all day it's not happening without some effort. 

On an average day if I did nothing but work, I would get only about 2000 steps. Status: Sloth.(In fact, yesterday I binge watched Scandal and got a corspe-like 884 steps. #sorrynotsorry) 

On a day when I did errands and worked I would get about 4000-5000. 

If I worked, ran a couple errands, and spent an hour on the treadmill I would get around 8000-9000. 

If I worked, ran errands, took my dogs to the dog park, and spent an hour on the treadmill - bingo. 10,000-11,000. But that's what it takes for me to reach non-sloth status in my real life... and for the record, I don't have time for all this shit. 

We just returned from a trip to Florida.  When I went to hop the plane I realized I forgot my Fitbit... Oh heeeelllll no, going without it just wasn't an option. Holidays are when I do my best Fitbitting! Believe it or not - I could buy one right in the airport, out of a Best Buy vending machine. I didn't, because they didn't have a model I was interested in - but my first stop after checking into my hotel was Walmart, where I purchased a Flex 2. Although it was a wristband (which I poo poo because they cramp my style...), it was water resistant and that worked well with my plans to drink several gallons of wine in the pool. The cool thing was comparing the two when I got home, and while the clip is most discreet - it was also more accurate step for step. Fun fact. 

I wore my band every day that were out hitting the theme parks, malls, stadiums, and night spots. Those days I was getting roughly 20,000 - 25,000 steps a day without even thinking about it. 

Moral of the story: Spend thousands of dollars on a vacation and you will meet and exceed your step goals. Ha. #fitspo

Seriously though, these little things are great ways to stay accountable to get up and get moving! If you have a Fitbit feel free to add me to your network! Just beware of my "circle walking". 

Keep calm and step on my fellow modern women!

Katie 

Xoxo

What do you mean I can't have a baby?

It just doesn't seem fair does it? You spend a portion of your life learning the importance of properly protecting yourself from unplanned pregnancies, use all the contraceptives, or perhaps you even abstain. Like how many times have you had a pregnancy scare and felt like your world might come crumbling to a halt!?! Fast forward a few years, perhaps even a decade and you literally couldn't get pregnant if you tried....like really tried. Everyday tried. Millions of doctors appointments, getting poked by needles, scheduled intercourse, more appointments, monitoring everything, waiting, disappointment, and more waiting. If you could only make money off all the times you were told, "Don't worry it will happen when it's supposed to". F*^$& that noise. 

Que sadness, despair, resentment, and self-pity. 

Infertility is a real thing. It's a really sad thing and I know way too many people in my life that have experienced it. No one tells you that your dreams of being a mother might not come true. What do you mean my ovaries are blocked and I have never been able to conceive? That would have been great to know 10 years ago! Could have saved lots of worry and some bucks. Yes, adoption is an option but it's not the idea you had in your head. And to start it all off you will wait months before the doctors will even look at you, then spend zillions of hours with specialists, now testing, waiting, hormones- great!, and more waiting. How far will you go to get that family you envisioned? Is IVF in your cards? And more importantly, how much can you endure to get there?

In 1984, the estimated percentage of couples with fertility problems was 5.4% [MediResource Inc. ]. In 1992, this number increased to 8.5%. And today, the estimated prevalence (total number of couples with infertility) is up to 15.7%. So whats up with that? Sources say that multiple factors could play a role into why we have literally tripled our numbers within my lifetime. Most noted would be the fact that women are simply waiting to have kids and as we age we become less fertile. Obesity, chronic diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase which can also play a vital role in these growing statistics. 

Now, I personally don't know what infertility feels like - i'm speaking on behalf of the many women in my life that have recently gone through it. I do know what miscarriage looks like. It's equally as ugly. It is heart-breaking and in my opinion brings up a lot of the same feelings that goes along with it's nasty neighbor - infertility. My reproductive reality happens to be recurrent miscarriages. unexplained. I could simply get sneezed on and I will be pregnant. Keeping it just isn't in the cards. It has been one year to almost the day since the last one. I found myself in the same situation as the rest - trying to hold back the flood of emotion, keeping it together as essentially few people even knew I was pregnant, and just told myself to move one foot in front of the next. It's okay...you are a seasoned vet by now. It's gotta get easier, right?

Now the doctors will tell you that it is SOOO COMMON. Among women who know they are pregnant, 1 in 6 pregnancies (some studies say even 1 in 4) ends in miscarriage [NHS Choices. Miscarriage. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/Pages/Introduction.aspx]. Really? What is just no one talking about it then? After my first miscarriage I spent hours researching this bizarre phenomenon - but how does a fetus's heart just stop? I became obsessed....I had to know everything I could because I certainly didn't want to go through that again and I think I had to reassure myself that it was not something that I did. 

Here is what I know about miscarriage and/or infertility, like the #truthbombs:

1) If you have experienced either, you literally will resent people that announce they are having a baby. It's okay! If 1 in 6 of us are going through this just imagine all the fake smiles and forced (but also well intended) congratulations that are happening. You are not alone. Grin and bare it girl!

2) Having scheduled sex is hard on your relationship. And so is peeing on a stick every month to only see one line. Also those sticks are over priced and there isn't one that is better than the rest. Ohhh digital...must be more advanced...sure charge double. If it gives me two lines then sure! Let me try it.

3) You become slightly crazy after a miscarriage and/or fertility drugs. I'm not sure if its the combination of grief/anger and the hormone changes but like bat shit crazy nuts. It goes away, you will eventually feel normal again. Soon you won't cry at a drop of a hat or lose your mind because the laundry didn't get folded. 

4) It's 100% not easy and you are not alone (see stats above). There are forums, chat rooms, and support groups. It feels better to know that someone is feeling the same way as you. It takes a little bit of that pain away. Source one out or talk to someone that understands.

5) For those of you that haven't experienced infertility or miscarriages - thank your lucky stars and be mindful of others. It seems common to ask, "Why don't you have kids?" Just don't ever ask that. Like ever! To answer your question, they either don't want kids or are trying.

6) Life is precious. The experience makes you realize how bizarre this whole livin thing really is! Our bodies are so complicated and it really is a miracle to be able to conceive and give birth to a healthy human. Slow your roll and enjoy life. We get wrapped up in our own ideologies and "our plans" that we forget that today is as important as tomorrow. So live it. 

There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes - David Platt

Supporting those you know that have suffered a miscarriage or battling with infertility can be difficult but it's important for the healing process. Even if you don't know what to say making yourself present goes a long way. To all those that are fighting the fight - stay strong - we are standing with you. 

Chan XOXO

 

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness: let's talk.

Let's talk about something extremely personal. 

 

Something almost everyone who knows me is surprised to learn I have Bi-Polar disorder. And not just a little bit. I have full blown Bi-Polar 1 disorder and have my whole life - and although I was diagnosed at 18, I was never fully and properly treated or made to understand what I was dealing with until my late 20s. I have a family doctor, a psychiatrist, an ObGyn, and a maternal psychiatric specialist that are all fortunate enough to have me as a patient. Ha. I take 3-4 different medications daily, some twice a day, and I will have to for the rest of my life. 

 

Some people will suggest that you can control an illness like mine with breathing exercises, physical activity, diet, or yoga and green tea. Those people are wrong. They are ignorant and need to get informed. In short, until they decide to hit up a library, they can go f**k themselves.

 

People also assume that being bipolar means simply that you have mood swings. Nope. Wrong. In the simplest way I can explain it, it's like you are either in the deepest depression or high as a kite. And I don't mean sad or happy, although those are emotions that can come into play. I'm talking about crippling depression that will keep you in bed for days, so anxious you can't breathe, angry, sad, and desperate. I'm talking about highs so extreme that people will think they are invincible, not sleep for a week, spend money on ridiculous things, choose terrible partners, and take on far too many tasks. Being in a manic (high) cycle can make you feel magic - but like my psychiatrist says, magic comes at a price. Long story short - what goes up, must come down. And when it does, it's a not a gentle landing. 

 

Let me tell you a story... 

 

Last winter I experienced one of the worst lows of my life. It went and on and on and got worse and worse. I would get up every day, get dressed and put my makeup on, and go to work with a big smile for each of my clients like everything was fine. Everything wasn't fine, I felt like I was drowning. I was functioning but only as an empty shell - like a puppet. I would come home and take out my frustration on my husband, I didn't want to engage in any social activities, I was confused and angry all the time. 

 

After my household was asleep I would get up about 3:30am every night and have such an intense anxiety attack that I would often throw up and sit crying on my bathroom floor. My best friend Ted was always by my side... for anyone who doesn't know Ted, he's a big, adorable rescue mutt that I got just in time to save his life from being shot, after living the saddest life a dog could live. And yet, time and again, I wonder who has really saved who? 

 

Finally, one night or early morning, my husband woke up to find Ted and I on the bathroom floor. He knew this had been happening but hadn't seen it for himself to fully understand where I was at. 

 

The next day he told me he wanted to put me in the hospital. My mind raced... what would people say?... this would be on my medical records... my career would never be the same... people will lose all kinds of respect for me... I simply said "If you do that, I will never, ever forgive you."

 

To which he replied, "Well I will never, ever forgive myself if I come home to a dead wife."

 

Never had I considered suicide. Let me be clear about that. I am WAY too stubborn for that. Ha. But the fact that my husband saw that as an end game for what was happening was like a cold shower. The jig was up, I couldn't live like that anymore. My meds had stopped working, I hated my psychiatrist, and I was sick. Plain and simple. 

 

Luckily (very, very luckily), I had access to someone who manages a psychiatrist's office who had always spoken so highly of the doctor she works for. She is a beautiful person and so very compassionate. I swallowed my pride and explained what was going on and asked for help. I saw him within a week. He tweaked my diagnosis, changed my meds, added some new ones, and focused on the holistic things I could do to help myself. He actually listened to me. He asked my husband to attend my appointment to understand the illness. Nobody had ever done that before. Most importantly, he didn't talk down to me. 

 

Let's get something straight. Somebody can have all the degrees in the world but nobody is an expert on a mental illness like the person who has it. Trust me on that. 

 

Flash forward to 2017 and a year of new treatment and a good doctor. I feel really good. I can't say great because I don't think I ever feel totally great. It's something I still deal with everyday and always will. But I'm happy, I'm social, I'm lucky to have a job (correction, jobS) that I love. I try to put effort, research, humour, and kindness into everything I do. I appreciate the life I've been given and I try my best to take care of myself. 

 

I love my husband and I am nice to him... Most of the time. Ha. JK, he's seriously the best. 

 

... And Ted is still my best friend. 

Photo by Leslie Kent.

Photo by Leslie Kent.

Photo by Leslie Kent.

Photo by Leslie Kent.

 

This blog series is about health and wellness. Mental health still has a huge stigma around it, and until we can accept these illnesses just like any other that needs to be diagnosed and treated, people will continue to suffer. Not everyone is as stubborn as me, not everyone is so stubborn that they refuse to let an illness beat them. Not everyone has an amazing husband, friends, family, and dogs that are by your side the second they sense something is wrong. 

 

People without support systems will continue to live in poverty, battle addictions, resort to crime, and alienate their loved ones. People will continue to fill our hospitals, jails, and shelters. People will also appear to live completely normal lives, but come home and suffer in silence. 

 

Open your minds, open your ears, and get informed. You might just be the person to help someone who is struggling. 

 

If you or anyone you know feel that you need help, ask for help. As Canadians, we have access to health care. Use it. It's there for you. 

 

Take care of yourselves and love each other. 

 

Katie

Xoxo

#bellletstalk

January 25, 2017 is the Bell Let's Talk day of mental health awareness that raises money for mental health initiatives. Talk, text, or use social media and let the world know your story. 

January 25, 2017 is the Bell Let's Talk day of mental health awareness that raises money for mental health initiatives. Talk, text, or use social media and let the world know your story.