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Here we go again…it’s new year’s resolution time! Whether you love making resolutions or hate it, I encourage you to set some new goals for yourself this year. Personally, I love any excuse to set a goal for myself and see it through. I hope that you will embrace this time of year and use it as an opportunity to grow in some way.

I’m looking forward to hearing what your new year’s resolutions are. Truthfully, they don’t HAVE to be fitness- or health-related (although those are always good ones). I want to hear what you really want to accomplish this year, whether that be personally, financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically or otherwise.

There are a couple different ways to approach these goals, in my opinion. You can do a more traditional new year’s resolution and set one goal for the entire year, or, you can set 12 goals this year, focusing on a new one each month. I’ve got plenty of ideas to help get you started. Regardless, it’s important that you set some sort of reminder for yourself so that you can check in on how you’re progressing at different points in the year (or month). I find it helpful to set calendar alerts, others might benefit more from sharing their goal(s) with a loved one, someone they know will help them stay accountable. As always, I am here to help hold you accountable as well. You can share your resolution with a few close friends, or you can use the support system of those on social media via the Facebook page.

When you create your new years resolution, be sure to jot down how you will accomplish this goal as well as the goal itself. Studies show that by creating SMART goals, you will be more successful. SMART goals are:

Specific: Make your goal focused and well-defined.

Measurable: Put concrete numbers in your goal to know if you’re making progress or falling behind. Set reminders and track your progress.

Attainable: Create a goal that is realistic based on your schedule, workload and knowledge.

Relevant: Make sure the goal is relevant to your lifestyle.

Timely: Set a deadline. Otherwise your “goal” is just a wish. Pick an end date for your goal, and then break it down as follows: What will you do today to reach your goal? What can you do in 3 weeks and 3 months to reach your goal.

So there you have it! Let’s hear those new year’s resolutions! Post in the comments below!

 

Peace, love and success in the new year,

 

Melissa

 

 

 

As I sit down to write this, my sweet baby boy is 5 days old (posting at 3 weeks). It has taken me this long to be able to process and come to terms with everything that happened during the last few days of my pregnancy, labor and delivery and the first few days postpartum. Now that I have, I want to share that journey with you, in hopes that I can help other Mommas and Mommas-to-be.

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, I was dead-set on having an epidural during labor. After a tailbone injury many years ago and a spine doctor telling me it was going to break again during labor, I hadn’t really given it a second thought. That and labor terrified me, so if I had the choice of whether or not I could experience it with less pain, I was going to opt for less pain. Or so I thought.

The Bradley Method

My LWBF partner in crime, Holly Alexander, had highly recommended my husband and I take the Bradley Method childbirth classes. Bradley Method classes are also known as Husband-Coached Childbirth classes and focus on natural childbirth. I spent a few months debating on whether or not to take the classes, because I knew that if I did, I would end up wanting to go natural. After much discussion—and a conversation with the instructor where I explained that me taking these classes was in no way me committing to actually going sans epidural in the end—we ended up deciding to go forward with them. I knew that they would teach us what I would experience during labor and delivery, and being so health-conscious and Type A, it was important to me that I know what was happening to my body in order to best handle the situation.

We went to our first class, and it was awful. I cried the entire way home. It was overwhelming and uncomfortable. The lady’s house smelled like cat pee. I couldn’t breathe. When the instructor asked the class (approximately 8 couples) who was going to go natural, every woman raised their hand. Except for me. I talked to a coworker whose wife was a Bradley Instructor for years. He strongly encouraged me to find a different instructor, one that would be a better fit for me. Now in panic mode because most classes were full, I called an instructor closer to our home and during a time slot that was a better fit for us too. She had one opening.

We went to our first class and it was a completely different experience. It was fantastic. The instructor was personable, down to earth, and also happened to be a Group X instructor, so we immediately had things in common. The other couples in the class were warm and welcoming. This was a much better fit.

The Process

When we discovered I had a bun in the oven, I was actually without an OB-GYN. I had fired my last one because he rudely told me that I probably wouldn’t be able to conceive without medical intervention. You can read that story here. So I called friends, got recommendations and interviewed SEVERAL doctors trying to find the right one. I ended up switching care providers twice before finally deciding on who would deliver our baby. Or so I thought. (Are you seeing the pattern here?)

In the Bradley Method classes, many topics are covered, some of which discuss the chain of events (also referred to as the domino effect) that tend to occur when delivering at a hospital. There are so many rules, regulations, hand-tying and other things that happen in hospitals that make having a natural childbirth there nearly impossible. Typically, once you get to the hospital, you’re on the clock. Not progressing fast enough or Doctors are ready for shift change? You get pitocin. Got pitocin? Well, in a hospital they don’t start you on a slow drip, they’ll crank your dosage up to get you contracting and get that baby out. Good luck enduring that sans epidural. So now you have an epidural. But wait, they’ll need to insert a catheter first. un-anesthetized. Baby is posterior? You get a c-section. Oh did you want a say in this? Sorry about your luck.

All this sounded awful to me, and I wanted no part of it. The problem is, if you ask your care provider if they are “okay” with you going natural, they will probably tell you that they are. What happens in the delivery room, however, is another story. I was so appalled by the lip service I got when talking to care providers. It wasn’t until I dove much deeper that I found out that the likelihood of my care provider being on board with me going natural was slim to none. So it was time to switch care providers AGAIN. I was now 7 months pregnant and again, in panic mode. Fortunately, my doula (a doula is a birth coach, also our Bradley instructor), pointed me in the direction of a midwife. Midwives believe that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes and they seek to eliminate or minimize unnecessary interventions. Well, shoot, this is right up my alley!

The Birth Plan

My husband and I met with the recommended midwife and she was fabulous. We were perfectly happy with her and felt confident in our decision. She also had two doctors who backed her up, should anything “go wrong” and she had privileges to deliver at a natural-friendly hospital, which we wanted. Despite the risks we were taking delivering at a hospital (domino effect of medical interventions), this was our first birth, and we didn’t feel comfortable at a birthing center, which is where most midwives deliver. The hospital we selected was unlike others in that they are very “natural-friendly”, so we felt confident that our birth plan would be followed barring any medical emergencies.

During one Bradley class, we all created a generalized birth plan. We had little yellow strips of laminated paper that each had a short phrase on it. Things like “the use of pitocin”, “use of forceps/vacuum” and “access to water” were all things that were discussed, and we ranked them in order from most to least important. Our class’ birth plan looked something like this.  It was strange discussing the order of things like the use of pitocin because I knew I REALLY didn’t want that, I just assumed I wouldn’t have to cross that bridge. My husband and I then went home and wrote up our own birth plan that we would share with our midwife and the nurse staff at the hospital. It looked something like this:

Melissa Villamizar Birth Plan

Thank you so much for your help with the birth of our first child! We are extremely grateful! Please direct all questions to my husband, Juan, so that I can focus solely on my labor.

Before/During Birth:
• Water Birth—Would like access to the tub.

• No intervention—Would like a drug-free birth, please do not offer me pain medication. I would like to progress naturally, without the use of pitocin.

• No mention of visitors—Visitors will be welcome a few hours after birth so that we may bond with our new child.

• No separation—At least Juan or Melissa with baby at all times.

• Delay cord clamping

• Dark/dimly lit and quiet room—Please refrain from conversation.

• Bath—Use patient’s bath products on baby, be cautious of eyes, product is NOT tear-free.

• Save Placenta—We will be having a funeral home pick up our placenta, as we would like to encapsulate it.

After Birth:
• Minimal interruption—from nurse staff and visitors. Only enter room when Melissa is awake.

For Baby:
• No Vitamin K, No Hep B, No Circumcision

Thank you all so very much! 🙂

 

Ready For Baby

We had everything ready to go by about 37/38 weeks. The birth plan was complete, bags were packed, we had been practicing our relaxation techniques as much as possible, etc. I was ready for the baby…sort of. A baby’s normal gestation period is anywhere from 37-42 weeks. I hadn’t really thought about carrying to 42 weeks, I figured our perfect little angel would come at or around his due date. Our midwife estimated that would be the case, so we had no reason to think otherwise. I was quite disappointed when my estimated due date, August 27th, came and went. But hey, that’s okay—first time moms tend to carry until 41 weeks. Especially those with boys. Then 41 weeks come and went. Once again, I’m entering panic mode.

My midwife would only let me carry until 42 weeks. At this point, I was scheduled for an induction at 5am on September 10th. An induction. With the use of PITOCIN. I had devoted so much time and energy to these Bradley Classes and to preparing myself mentally and physically for a natural labor. To think that I might be robbed of the opportunity to experience spontaneous labor and a natural childbirth was making me sick to my stomach. I had a healthy pregnancy. I have a healthy baby. What is wrong with my body? I had a meltdown on Saturday afternoon. This wasn’t fair. Why is this happening to me? I cried to my husband and told him that at this point I couldn’t remain positive that our son would come prior to the induction date. Mentally, I needed to start shifting my mindset and preparing myself for the induction. I needed to be okay with the way my baby was going to enter this world, and this shift in thinking was going to take a lot of work.

Where is This Baby?

I tried everything possible to induce labor. On Saturday afternoon I saw a massage therapist for a CST massage (cranial sacral therapy). She was totally awesome and a little strange, making it even better. She had seen me for all of 20 seconds before asking me if I had ever had an injury to my sacrum. Crap. She did some feeling around, some energy work, etc. and spoke to the baby a bit. She said the baby is having trouble engaging because my tailbone was in the way. As weird as all of it was, I believed every word. I tried not to stress. She moved my tailbone with firm pressure, and I could feel the baby snuggle down lower and begin to engage, which was pretty cool. It was a great session but unfortunately, by Sunday, my tailbone had shifted back to it’s incorrect position and the baby was once again posterior. Ugh. Sunday I went for my second round of acupuncture, which went well. The acupuncturist told me it was a great session, that my body was much more open and receptive to the treatment. He felt the baby was ready and that I was right around the corner. However, I didn’t get too excited, as I had been hearing this for weeks now.

I took a bath that night, the first bath the entire pregnancy. I lit some candles and I prayed. I knew that God had a plan for me and for the baby’s arrival, I just didn’t know what it was. I told him that whatever the plan was, I was okay with it, and I trusted that he would bring the baby here safely. I went to bed in tears, clutching one of my old stuffed animals and one of the baby’s onesies.

Is This It?

After everything we tried to induce labor, I think all God and the baby really needed me to do was let go. I woke up at 2:15am Monday morning with what felt like terrible menstrual cramps. Was this it? I attempted to go back to sleep, but it was impossible. I knew it had the potential to be a long day, so I grabbed a banana to help get my energy up. I waited a few hours and texted my doula and midwife. The midwife was not going to be able to make the birth due to a family emergency. I wasn’t panicking, but my doula expressed her concern. She asked me about getting a back up midwife to do the delivery instead of the back up doctors. I wasn’t really sure how to handle the situation, so I didn’t do anything. I was really focused on the strong contractions I was having. Knowing my husband would need as much sleep as possible, I waited a few more hours until my his alarm went off. I walked into the bedroom and let him know he wasn’t going to make it to work today. Gosh I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long—to be able to tell him I was in labor! Needless to say, he was excited!

And So It Begins…

The contractions started off lasting about 45 seconds with 5-7 minutes in between them. They quickly jumped to 2 minutes apart, or anytime I tried to change positions. By 8:30am, I started throwing up (I never vomit, so this was a huge indication that this was for real), and we decided it was time to go to the hospital. My doula met us there, and assumed I was in transition. I figured I was too. Sadly, I was only dilated to a 1.5. Oh dear, this is going to be a LONG day (and night…)!

I believe I was on all fours on the hospital bed when one of the back up doctors came into the room. I think I scared him. He mentioned to my birth team that I was definitely a “midwife’s patient” and that he was going to call in a back up midwife for me. THANK HEAVENS. The back-up midwife was truly the most amazing midwife ever. I felt very blessed. Everything does happen for a reason!

My Sneaky Birth Team

I labored in and out of the tub (a small indoor pool looking thing that was set up for a water birth), in various positions and places throughout the hospital. Nothing was providing any relief at all. I was having terrible back pain and it was absolutely unbearable. I think it was about 2 pm when I asked for an epidural. I couldn’t believe I was asking for it, but I also knew I couldn’t continue like this. This pain was unimaginable and I just couldn’t fathom it getting any worse and actually pushing a child out. My birth team put me off, asking me if I could go another 20 minutes. I said yes, and it turned into an hour. We repeated this for several hours. However, a few hours later, I was deadly serious when asking for the epidural. I was in so much pain I would have rather have been dead. At this point this whole birth thing meant nothing to me any more and I just wanted it to be over. I was so severely dehydrated, in so much pain and so defeated, that I just didn’t care. Please give me the epidural. My birth team said I would need two bags of IV fluids prior to the epidural. Fine, hook me up, let’s go.

My oh-so-tricky birth team apparently set the IV drip to the slowest possible setting. It took hours to get two bags of fluids in me. I found out later that they could have given them to me in as little as 20 minutes, but again, were trying to stall me from getting the epidural. Have I mentioned yet what a fantastic team I had? Even if I didn’t feel that way at the time. Thankfully, I didn’t have enough energy to put up a real fight, so they got their way. I was on only a few hours of sleep, no food (so much for that banana) and we’re 15 hours into labor with a posterior baby who is not at all interested in making his grand entrance into this world.

My Husband, My Rock

The IV finally finishes and I ask again for the epidural. Each time I ask for it, they look at my husband to make the final call. Thank God he knows me so well. He knew that I was serious in asking for it, but that deep down that’s not what I really wanted. I am so incredibly proud of him for being able to do this and to be by my side this entire time. I couldn’t have done this without him. Still asking for the epidural, they tell me the anesthesiologist is stuck in traffic. Seriously? Fine. But let’s discuss other options because I cannot go on like this. They say they can give me a low dose of pain meds to take the edge off, or I can wait for the epidural. As natural and anti-medicine as I am, it was tough for me to decide that I wanted pain meds at that point. Luckily they would wear off before the baby’s arrival, and this was one of those cases where the benefits outweighed the risks. I decided to go for it. It was a good thing I did.

I ended up taking a 3 hour nap, waking up for the contractions and falling back to sleep. During some of the contractions, my midwife would shake my hips back and forth trying to get the baby down. Talk about painful! Eventually, the pain meds wore off and once again I was back to asking for the epidural. The team kept telling me the pain meds needed to wear off and I kept asking. My doula finally looked me in the eyes and said, “Melissa, if you get an epidural, they will catheterize you. They will likely need to use pitocin since the epidural will slow things down. Do you still want an epidural?” I reply, “Can they give me the epidural before they cath me?” My doula: “You don’t get a choice, it’s whoever shows up first.” Having had a catheter once, about 25 years ago and being scarred for life, I knew I did not want a catheter. Fine. No epidural. This sucks.

Time For Some Exercise

After the nap, the team got me up and wanted me to walk laps around the hospital to help use gravity to get things moving again. Walking through contractions = not fun. I was complaining about how much my back hurt during our super fun walk, when my doula looked at me and asked me why my back hurt. Confused, I answered, “Um, because of my baby?” She told me to start repeating “that’s my baby” instead of “my back hurts.” Apparently shifting my focus on something positive, like my almost-born child, was instrumental in my labor progress. I walked for about an hour before I tell them I will walk no more. We get back to the room and we check my dilation progress. I’m at a 6.

The team has me in various positions, and finally while squatting, some of my water breaks. (My apologies if this is too much information. If that’s the case you should have stopped reading a while ago!) In an effort not to alarm me, the birth team hides the fact that there is meconium present when the first bag of water breaks. The team kicks it into high gear to get this baby out. I get checked again and I’m at an 8, with a really soft cervix. The midwife asks if I mind if she manually breaks my second bag of water and dilates me to a 10. I couldn’t care less what she does at this point, please let’s just end this! I get to a 10 and they want me to change positions again. We head to the bathroom, which I’m dreading, because my contractions seem so much more painful when I’m in there! I’m sitting on the toilet and pushing with everything I’ve got. It’s so scary, because you’re being coached to push as hard as you can, but it hurts, and you’re scared about how much more it is going to hurt. They tell me it won’t hurt anymore, and I admit they were right. At some point you just “max out” on pain! I’m pushing for what seems like forever, I don’t understand why this baby hasn’t arrived yet. So many people filled my head with unrealistic expectations the entire pregnancy, one of which was “you’re so fit, you’re only going to have to push twice and he’ll be out!”. Um, yeah, for the record, that’s total crap. Being fit has nothing to do with how many times you’re going to have to push until your baby arrives. Especially a POSTERIOR baby with an inverted/deviated tailbone in the way. I’m pushing with everything I have, trying to remember that I stayed fit during pregnancy and that should pay off at some point, but I’m nervous, wondering how much longer I will have to push, because I don’t have much or any fuel left in the tank.

This Is Finally It

I kept asking my birth team how much longer this would take (as if they knew). My Type A personality needed some sort of tool to measure this whole process by. They keep telling me “I’m close.” After what I’ve experienced the last 22 hours, I don’t believe anything they say at this point. They are pretty intent on me getting this baby out quickly, and I hear someone mention that they’re going to call NICU. I try to stay focused but can’t comprehend why they would have to call the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in! What’s wrong with my baby?! They tell me that there’s meconium present, so when I push him out, they’re going to have to cut the cord right away and take him so that they can suction the meconium out of his lungs, ears, etc. That makes me want to cry but I have no energy or fluids for that matter, to even produce tears at this point.

My husband had been holding me from behind, so he came around the front side of me to watch our son being born. It wasn’t until I was able to see my husband’s face light up with excitement that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I reached down and could feel the baby’s head. Finally! I stood up, pushed a few more times, and then…it was…indeed…FINALLY OVER!

The Aftermath

After a brutal 22 hours of labor, our beautiful baby boy was here. I was in a complete state of shock. He was perfectly healthy and I actually did survive. I can say with 100% certainty that it is because of my husband, doula, midwife and nurse staff at Baylor McKinney that I was able to deliver this baby without an epidural.

As I sit here and tell this story, I feel proud. But it took me several days and several long conversations with my birth team in order to see myself as strong. I was traumatized by the experience and all I could focus on was the fact that I quit, asking for an epidural. I felt like I let myself and my team down. I felt the energy in the room shift when I asked for the epidural and I imagined everyone throwing in the towel. But they didn’t, and for that I am so grateful. My team reminded me that one of the most important steps in this whole process is putting the people in place that will help you be successful. Fortunately, a combination of my husband and I actively searching out care providers that would help us have the birth we wanted and of course, God being on our side, made that possible.

Had the back-up Doctors delivered our baby, I most likely would have ended up with a c-section. Thinking about that now scares me, but it also makes me incredibly happy, because we were able to change things.

I’ve been asked over and over if I would do it again. At 3 weeks postpartum, I can finally say yeah, I probably will. It’s a conditional yes, however. If my tailbone gets fixed, I will do it again. And I will pray my butt off for an easier labor! And definitely, no more than 2 kids. 🙂

Thank You

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations, I know it was lengthy. I want to thank everyone that supported me throughout this pregnancy, labor and delivery and let my husband know just how much he means to me. He completed me in a way I never knew was possible. I’m documenting this journey because I want to help other people that might have questions about natural childbirth. Even after a tough labor, I still highly recommend everyone aspire to do it. Natural childbirth is a woman’s birth right and too many times it is taken away from us. We are all capable of doing it and medical interventions should be saved for when they are really, truly necessary.

For those women that weren’t able to have the birth they wanted, I am praying for you. I pray that you can find peace and find comfort in the fact that your beautiful child is here on Earth, just the way he/she was meant to be. People say it doesn’t matter how your baby gets here, as long as he/she is healthy. But to those that worked hard for a birth they wanted, it is still a traumatizing experience, and I pray for peace for all of the Moms out there.

Peace, love and strength,

Melissa

Since I’ve started teaching morning boot camps, I’ve had so many people tell me that they just can’t wake up that early. (“That” meaning early enough to attend a 5:30am Camp Gladiator Boot Camp. If you just shuddered at the thought of that, keep reading.) Well, I beg to differ, so I thought I’d put together a quick list of tips that will help you transform yourself into a “morning workout person.” And believe me when I say, this comes from the heart. I don’t necessarily “love” mornings, but I have taught myself how to become one of those morning people!

1. Set Your Alarm

I know what you’re thinking…”duh”…but there’s more to it than just setting one alarm. Set your alarm the night before with just enough time to eat something light*, grab what you need and head out the door. If you allow yourself more time than you need, you will likely hit snooze and potentially sleep through the workout. Then, set a back-up alarm for about 2 minutes after the first alarm, in case you accidentally hit “snooze.” Make sure it’s something “alarming”, pun intended so that it really wakes you up! Lastly, you can always set your alarm across the room from you, forcing you to actually get out of bed to turn it off. Once your out of bed, STAY out of bed! Don’t go back there!

2. Prep the Night Before

Before you hit the hay, lay out everything you need, so that you don’t have to overtax your already not fully functioning brain early in the morning. Set out what you’re going to wear and anything you need to bring with you. I even go so far as to put everything I need to remember to take with me (that I’m not actually wearing) in the car the night before so that I can’t forget to grab it. I set a banana out as well, and as soon as that alarm goes off, I drink a good 8 ounces of water, have my banana, then start getting ready. This way, by the time I arrive at my destination, my banana is digested and I’m ready to work out! The less you have to think in the morning, the better your chances are for getting out of the house successfully!

3. Do It More Often Than Not

Consistency is key here. If waking up early is difficult for you, try to do it as often as possible. You give yourself a better chance of being successful if you do it more often. Try to change your sleep schedule so that more days than not you are going to bed early and waking up early. If you try to wake up early one day, then sleep in the next, etc., your body will never get used to the schedule and it actually becomes much more taxing on your body. Even on days where you aren’t working out, try to wake up at a reasonable hour so that it makes it easy for your body to continue your new schedule. Also, give it 21-30 days. It takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so commit to waking up early and going to bed early for at least 3 weeks. And of course, be sure you are getting to bed early too. Insufficient sleep will not make you a happy camper when that alarm goes off! Do what you need to do to eat dinner earlier, bathe the kids earlier, etc.

4. Recruit a Partner in Crime

Misery loves company, so recruit a friend to join you in your morning workouts. Although at first you will likely be complaining to each other about how tired you are, soon you will realize that this partner in crime is actually your accountability partner, and is equally important to your success in becoming a morning camper. I highly recommend carpooling with your accountability partner. Knowing someone is coming to your house to pick you up is a huge motivator for getting out of bed and even more so if you’re the driver that day! You can’t bail on your partner!

5. Reward Yourself

Enjoy the rest of the day thinking about how your workout is already completed, and the day is yours! Alternately, the guilt you feel when you miss your morning workout is extremely heavy—and even heavier if that’s your only opportunity to workout all day!

*Note: Eating prior to the workout is important. If you are in the process of trying to become a morning camper, just get something light in you prior to the workout. Something like a banana, a Larabar, some oatmeal, etc. (full or half) are good, quick, light items that provide glucose for your brain and muscles to perform properly. Failing to eat prior to working out will leave you lightheaded and not feeling well. Also, what does your body use for fuel if you haven’t eaten anything? You’re likely to break down muscle instead of building it. As your workouts progress and depending on your body, you will likely need to eat something more substantial. This post is just to give you ideas on how to start small and work your way up!

It’s that time of year again…time for New Year’s Resolutions! I truly love this time of year because it’s a chance to put a plan in motion to better myself. But for others, the thought of coming up with a New Year’s Resolution is daunting. Thinking about keeping one thing going for an entire year is overwhelming and let’s be honest, by the time April rolls around, no one can remember what their resolution was!

This year, I propose something different. At first, you may think this is even more overwhelming, but I assure you it is not. Think about this—if you have a weight loss goal of 100 lbs., thinking about how in the world you are going to lose that weight is so overwhelming that it makes it difficult to take the first steps. But if you were to break it down and say “this month I am going to lose 8 lbs., losing approximately 2 lbs. per week,” it becomes MUCH more manageable! Such is true with everything in life. Breaking a large goal down into smaller goals gives us a better chance for success.

So in terms of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m going to suggest you do the same thing. Regardless of the resolution, most of the time it focuses on bettering yourself in some way, shape or form. It could be mentally, physically or emotionally. Write down all of the things you’d like to accomplish or change in the new year and divy them up between the 12 months. Maybe you have 12 things on that list. If that is the case, pick one for each month. From there, figure out how you are going to accomplish each monthly goal, breaking it down by week and even by day. Not only are you writing down your resolution, you’re writing down how you are going to make it happen as well. Setting a plan into action will help you accomplish your goal.

Maybe you have five things on that list, but two are extremely important or difficult. I would suggest repeating those two important resolutions. You can repeat them in succession, for instance, the first resolution could be for January, February and March, or you could repeat them at random times throughout the year—maybe January, June and November. Do whatever will give you the best chance at being successful with that resolution. Everyone is different.

If you’re like me, you have many goals you’d like to achieve, so this is the perfect avenue to take in order to achieve all those goals! I have many things on my list, many of which I cannot post online just yet, but here are some examples to get you started:

  1. Try not to stress over things I have no control over
  2. Get more sleep
  3. Exercise more frequently
  4. Exercise “smarter”
  5. Incorporate more movement into my daily life
  6. Make smarter choices when eating out
  7. Slow down when eating, chew my food
  8. Be more patient
  9. Stop yelling at other drivers (see resolution #1)
  10. Eat more wholesome, nutritious food
  11. Educate myself on better food choices for my family and I
  12. Try a Group Exercise class
  13. Be more kind to others
  14. Do one exercise every night before bed (side plank, swivel kicks)
  15. Give more compliments
  16. Reduce my exposure to environmental toxins (maybe try organic deodorant?)
  17. Start eating a healthy breakfast
  18. Stop making excuses for not exercising
  19. Spend more time with my family
  20. Better/more frequently communicate how important and loved family and friends are

Thank you all for a fabulous year! Live Whole Be Free has grown so much and we are just thrilled that we continue to reach more and more people every day. Here’s to helping many more people make healthier choices in 2013!

Peace, love and healthy blessings in the new year,

Melissa + Holly

 

Fifteen weeks ago, I started training for the Miami Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon. It’s hard to believe that the day I’ve trained so hard for is almost here! I started training for this race very early. In fact, I was concerned I was starting a bit too early, but was just too excited to wait any longer. This being my third rodeo, I was anxious to start working on implementing the changes I made after trainings 1 & 2. To recap: In my first half, I was probably running 1-2 times per week and maxed at 11 miles. Considering I am not a distance runner and I have a laundry list of injuries, finishing 13  miles that day (a year and a half ago) was a sheer miracle by my standards. Looking back, my time was nothing to write home about, but that didn’t concern me. I was just happy to finish! For my second race, I trained a bit differently. I ran 2-3 times per week, and maxed at 12 miles. I hated every bit of those long runs, but had a goal time I wanted to crush. Come race day, I beat my goal time by 2 minutes, crushing last year’s race time by more than 9 minutes. So I’m on a roll, right? I mean, I must have this training all figured out! Unfortunately, this is not the case. After both races, I got incredibly sick. The first time with exercise-associated hyponatremia, the second time with severe dehydration. Both of these instances caused incredible cramping and abdominal pain that I just can’t put into words, (nor would you want me to try), both times lasting a full 8 hours. Something has got to change.

So this time, I have a new goal(s). First—have a good, strong race and feel amazing the whole way through. Second—not get sick after the race! I looked up several running plans, this time settling on Nike Running’s Race Coach Programs. I downloaded all three Half Marathon Training Programs: Level 1: Finish a Race, Level 2: Set a New PR (Personal Record) and Level 3: Lead From the Front. After reviewing all three plans, I decided I would base my training programs off of a combination of Levels 1 & 2, taking my teaching schedule into account (11 classes/week). I printed out blank calendars from August through November, and wrote down the low and high ends of the mileage for each week. I figured I would at a minimum follow Level 1’s program, and if I could, I would try to get as close as possible to Level 2.

As it turns out, I was able to stick almost perfectly to the Level 2 program, which means I maxed at 35 miles weekly and a 14 mile long run. That is the furthest I’ve ever run! Don’t get me wrong, it was not easy. There were SEVERAL weeks where I just really, truly did not want to go and could have justified not doing that long run. Knowing that I could get away with maxing at 11 miles and still have a good race made it difficult to keep on pushing. But, if training were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it! I ran in the rain and the cold (if you know me you know I despise cold weather), replaying the same phrases in my head that I tell my clients and group exercise classes —

“When you’re tired—this is where the training starts.”

That was key for me this training. My training STARTED at 11 miles because know I can do 11 miles. I needed to push myself PAST those boundaries. I wavered back and forth about whether or not I was

going to hit that 14-miler. But when it came down to the day to do it, I realized I had not worked this hard to give up now! So I did it. I felt great during the run, but ended up in an ice bath and very sick shortly after. I was devastated. The reason I have been training so hard was to avoid this sickness! What was I doing wrong?! After much research and with the help of my Doctor, we’ve so far concluded that it’s tied to my chronic thirst. I tend to avoid sodium but it is also an essential electrolyte. After realizing just how little sodium my diet actually contains, I think we may have found the answer!

RNR Miami Half Marathon

I eat an incredibly clean diet, but this lack of sodium proves just how important proper nutrition is. I’ve spent the last week and half consciously consuming increased amounts of sodium, with great pleasure I might add. I can finally eat salted pistachios without guilt! I hope this makes a difference come race day, but no matter what, I’m going into it knowing that I’ve done everything possible to prepare myself for this race, and that’s a fantastic feeling! I trained hard, I trained smart, I ate right, I rested well and got the proper care for my body when needed. Now fifteen weeks of training all comes down to one. single. race. Or does it?

In all honesty, I accomplished things in this training that I never thought I could. I ran 3-6 times per week with a schedule some can’t fathom having to deal with. I ran 12 miles several times, I ran 13 miles and I ran 14 miles. I got sick, I got better, I got smarter. Whatever happens on Sunday, November 18th, it’s okay—because I feel like a winner already! (But I wouldn’t mind if y’all sent me some good runner vibes from about 5:45am CST to 7:45am CST)!

Here’s to a strong, happy, fabulous race! Cheers! (I’ll drink to that…after the race of course!)

Peace, love and lots of electrolytes,

Melissa

This weekend, a miserable cold front blew through Dallas, keeping me inside for most of the weekend. What can I say, I hate the cold. Fortunately, it was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to catch up on several “indoor” things I needed to get done and also forced me to spend some time de-stressing. I was able to watch two health/food documentaries I’ve been dying to see, Food Matters and Hungry For Change. Although they were both awesome, I’m going to focus on Hungry For Change in this post.

Let me start by saying this is a must-see! I know, I say that about all these food documentaries but this time I REALLY mean it. In this film are some of the most influential advocates for health and wellness, ones that I follow closely, like Dr. Alejandro Junger (author of CLEAN), Dr. Joseph Mercola (author of one of the most popular online health newsletters) and David Wolfe. I feel like I’m friends with these guys. For instance, I just found out that Dr. Mercola practices in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, where I grew up and Dr. Junger himself has commented on my blog posts in the past. I mean, come on, we go way back!

As I review the pages of notes I took while watching this fabulous documentary, I’m realizing that I have far too information to discuss in just one 700-1400 word post. So keep in mind this is a short synopsis of what this film covers.

One of the most important things that is discussed is that diets don’t work. Amen! Really, anything with the word “diet” associated with it—I want no part of. The word “diet” should refer to how you eat on a daily basis, in terms of your lifestyle, not a temporary shift in eating in order to lose weight.

Up to two-thirds of those who are on a diet regain more weight than when they started. – University of California, Los Angeles

We, as Americans, are starving. We are starving on a nutritional basis. We could eat 10,000 calories a day and still feel hungry. Let’s break it down—when your body needs nourishment, the brain sends out hunger signals, prompting you to eat. When your body has received the proper nutrients, the hunger signals will shut off. However, if you eat processed foods that lack nutrients, your body will not turn off those hunger signals. You could eat 10,000 calories worth of junk food and still be hungry!

Man-made foods like bread, sugar and table salt trick your body into thinking you’re getting those specific nutrients but your cells aren’t getting nourished. Now you’re starving at a cellular level. – Jon Gabriel

Americans are not eating food anymore, they’re eating food-like products. That’s what we try to drive home with Live Whole Be Free. Eating whole food, that nourishes your body, will allow you to break free from fad diets and other miserable habits and allow you the joy to truly just live!

Some additional things that are discussed in Hungry For Change:

  • The food industry’s role in creating and feeding your food addiction
  • The risks of consuming artificial sweeteners (aspartame) and chemicals (propylene glycol)
  • How sugar, fluffy carbs (white bread, pastries, cereal, pasta, potatoes) and high fructose corn syrup make you fat
  • What are good detoxifying foods for your body
  • The benefits of juicing
  • How stress and lack of sleep contribute to weight gain
  • How to use visualization to help lose weight
  • Why loving yourself is important for a healthy life

Hopefully this is enough to convince you to watch this film. Although I’ve discussed many, if there’s only one you watch, let this be the one! It is available for download from iTunes. Also, stay tuned as I cover more of the specifics in future posts!

Peace, love and healthy lifestyles,

Melissa

 

I’ve been teaching Group Exercise classes for quite a while now and I have to say—the thing that irks me the most—is when the same people find excuse after excuse not to try your class when they actually really want to. I know people that for over three years now have used the “I have to get in shape before I come to your class” excuse. Or there’s the ever-popular “your class is too far away”…(I teach all over the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex), or “I’m busy that day”…(I teach 10 classes a week, you can’t honestly tell me you cannot make any of those), the list goes on and on.

Three years ago, these people were overweight, out of shape, unhealthy and unhappy. Their plan was to “get in shape”, and then come to my class. Again, that was three years ago. If they had just come to classes regardless of being “in shape” or not, I can guarantee you that they would not be in the same physical and mental condition that they are today—stuck.

I think sometimes the classes and instructors are taken for granted. Not in a bad way, just that it is assumed that certain classes will always be on the schedule and these instructors will forever teach classes at that particular club. Nothing is ever certain. Lives change, people change, the needs of the gym change, the only thing that is not changing—is you.

Yesterday you said tomorrow nike

If you live your life saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”, you’ll have to accept the possibility that there might not be a chance tomorrow, for whatever reason. I urge you to do it today. No more excuses, no more waiting. It’s funny—it wasn’t that long ago that I considered myself quite the procrastinator when it came to silly day-to-day duties. Call the plumber, return so-and-so’s phone call, pay this bill, return an email. I would hit ignore on the phone because I was too busy to deal with whatever phone call was incoming. But the truth is, that only created MORE stress in my life. Now not only did I need to return that email, but I needed to remember to return the email, put it on my to-do list so I wouldn’t forget, but then I would forget to put it on the list, so it would get missed entirely! Today, I’m much better about handing things as they come. It’s easier to get them crossed off the list before they even make it to the list!

Nike says it best…”Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.”

A quick reminder of my current group exercise class schedule, which may soon change…who knows! 🙂 Please inquire for personal training schedule. (Revised 12/31/12)

Peace, love and action,

Melissa

For up-to-the-minute updates on classes, follow Live Whole Be Free on Facebook!

Reason #97 why you can’t lose weight…because let’s face it, there are potentially quite a few things contributing to the fact that you can’t lose weight. It’s supposed to be easy, right? Burn more calories than you consume and you “should”, in theory, lose weight. But what if you don’t? Well, there’s a myriad of reasons why this could be happening. Without a full blood panel, it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly why that is, since it could be related to thyroid issues, hormone imbalances, etc.). However, something you may or may not have heard of as being a culprit is called homeostasis.

Human homeostasis is derived from the Greek, homeo or “same”, and stasis or “stable” and means remaining stable or remaining the same. In other words, your body is going to attempt to maintain stability within its internal environment when dealing with external changes. This is most often discussed in terms of survival, whereas the liver, the kidneys and the brain help maintain homeostasis by metabolizing toxic substances, regulating blood water levels and excreting wastes. Another example occurs as our body regulates temperature in an effort to maintain an internal temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. We sweat to cool off when we are hot and we shiver to produce heat when we are cold.

However, homeostasis also plays a role in terms of weight loss. As your body starts to change, it will also try to “hold on” to what it’s known for so long. For example, if you have been 30 lbs. overweight for the last say…10 years and you are beginning to lose that weight, your body will fight to get back to that 30 lb. overweight “place” because that’s what it’s known for so long. This is just one more reason why to truly lose weight and keep it off for good, you have to make lasting lifestyle changes, not temporary fixes. Short-term, lose weight quick diets will only hurt you in the end, messing with your mental state as well as your hormones and metabolism.

We all know that there are a bizillion (yes, a “bizillion”) reasons why it’s difficult to lose weight. However, the more responsible, knowledgable and committed you are as you embark on your weight loss journey, the more successful you will be. There will be roadblocks, obstacles, plateaus and the like, but be aware, be smart and be persistent and you will minimize this homeostasis issue.

Peace, love and responsible weight loss,

Melissa Villamizar, CPT

It had been a really long day at the office. I was tired. It was late. I was hungry, grouchy and did I mention tired? It was 8:15pm, the sun was already setting and I just didn’t feel like running. I work out all the time, I’m going to work out tomorrow, I’m injured, I’m pregnant… No. I’m not really, I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. 🙂 Point is—I had a million reasons to justify why it would be okay to take the day off from working out. But I put my trusty Nikes on, grabbed my iPod and left. I ran into my husband outside. “What’s wrong” he asked. Me, with a frowny face acting like the world was ending, “I’m tired and I really don’t feel like running.” “Oh well,” he said. “You’ll feel better afterwards.” I knew he was right, after all, that’s why I had my darn shoes on even though all I really wanted to do was eat something and sit on the couch for a bit.

So off I go on my run. About three minutes later, I had completely forgotten that I almost didn’t go. Even better, I figured I’d arrive home thinking “that wasn’t so bad.” Instead (as usual), I arrived home and thought “man, that was awesome.” I got a quick 2.5 miles in, finished with some pushups, bridges and planks, and called it a night. Although it’s a lot less than I normally do, I consider tonight a success. Tonight I got up and did something when I truly did not want to and had all the excuses in the world to slack off.

I say it all the time, but sometimes the toughest part of a workout is actually getting off the couch or walking through the gym doors. Tonight, that was definitely the case. I never regret working out after I’m through and tonight was no different. I feel so much better now—my mind is reset, some calories have been burned and some toxins have been eliminated from my body.

The next time you’re wavering about whether or not to workout, put your shoes on and just do it!

Peace, love and dedication,

Melissa

 

 

As a Group Exercise Instructor, one of the excuses I hear most often for not coming to class is “I have to get in shape before I come to your class.” Um… color me confused, isn’t that what class is FOR? It is indeed. There are numerous people I can think of who have fed me this excuse…. years ago. They’re still not in any better shape than they were the day they spoke those words to me. If they had just come to class instead of procrastinating, who knows, they might be in a better place than they are today. As with everything in this world, you have to WANT to make a change before it will ever happen. You have to want to come to class yourself, I cannot force you. You have to want to lose weight for yourself, get healthy, make changes, etc. Although I wish these things for many people, unfortunately I cannot do anything for them if they don’t want to help themselves first.

The excuses for not coming to class got me thinking, and I realized they all have one thing in common. They are all some form of a procrastination. “I have to get in shape first”, “I have (insert obligation here) tonight”, “I’m tired today,” etc. In all of these instances, people seem to be waiting for the perfect conditions to exist before they make a change, in this case, trying a group exercise class. This theory can be applied to anything, really. Trying a new class, changing jobs, going back to school, having children, etc. In all instances, people always seem to be waiting for the stars to align. Sadly, this is never going to happen. Although if it does, will someone please call me? 🙂

Once you realize that these perfect conditions you are waiting for never exist, you have cleared a huge obstacle. A class member and friend of mine recently experienced a chain of frustrating events, where she could easily have skipped her workout with VERY good reason—but she did not. I absolutely love this story and had to share. Here is her message to me:

You will be so proud to know that it is midnight here in Milan, after only about 5-6 hours of on/off sleep in the last 24 hours, one of Joe’s bags still MIA from the airport (where is tennies are), me with the worst case of IBS, we did 30 min NTC app our skinnies in the hotel room!! Lol…pure dedication to fitness!

That is the perfect example of someone who wanted something to happen, so they put all excuses aside and just made it happen—plain and simple. It’s perfect.

The truth is, you will never have enough time, money, this or that to do anything if you don’t REALLY want to do it. So ask yourself what the true reason is that you are procrastinating, and be honest with yourself. If you are not coming to class because you “want to get in shape first”, ask yourself “why?” Why do you want to get in shape before coming to class? You will get in shape IN CLASS, I assure you. So is that you are afraid that you will be tired during class? Won’t make it through class? Who cares?! If you don’t try, you will never know! Maybe you are embarrassed about being out of shape—no problem, I know the perfect place to help remedy that! I can also guarantee you that you will lose more weight if you just come to class TODAY rather than taking a month or two or twelve to “get in shape” before you do come to class.

Take a moment to think about the things you have been putting off lately, and make a promise to yourself to complete the first thing on your list. Then move to the second, etc. But quit waiting for those perfect conditions to arrive and just do it!

For my current group exercise teaching schedule, visit the “about” section on my Facebook page.

Peace, love and motivation,

Melissa