Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Running Highlights of 2013

Hello friends and Happy New Year's Eve! 

Today I want to share some of my running highlights of the year. Many great things happened this year for me. For example, I was able to log a decent amount of miles despite being pregnant, I completed three races, I participated in a calendar shoot, I gave birth, etc. I tend not to be a numbers person because I believe that a good training session is based on the quality of the workout versus the amount of miles, however I surprised myself with these numbers since I was pregnant for most of the year. So, let's see...it all began in January...

January
-Miles completed: 195 miles 
-January 22: The birth of my blog!!!

February 
-Miles completed: 215 miles
-February 17: I won 1st place at the A1A Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon (1:21:17)
-February 24: Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando, FL





March
-Miles completed: 414 miles

April
-Miles completed: 111 miles
-April 15: I completed the Boston Marathon in 2:59:00; I was the 113th female overall (and I was 1.5 months pregnant!!!) I was injured at the marathon when I punctured my knee at mile 23.
-April 16: I found out I was pregnant!





May
-Miles completed: 75 miles and I biked 51 miles (I was treating a knee injury during this month that I sustained at the Boston Marathon).

June
-Miles completed: 180 and I biked 12 miles

July
-Miles completed: 153 miles and I began doing High Intensity Interval Workouts (HIIT)- 145 minute worth of circuit training.
-July 28: Wildside Running Calendar shoot for the 12 fastest South Florida female runners.



August
-Miles completed: 127 miles and 80 minutes worth of HIIT.

September
-Miles completed: 115 miles

October
-Miles completed: 50 miles (I began winding down with the running because I was 8 months pregnant and feeling very tired and uncomfortable).

November
-Lots of walking and the elliptical machine. 
-Mental preparation for labor and delivery.

December
-December 13: Baby Myles was born!!!



Calendar Shoot 



Total Running Miles Completed: ~1,687 miles

Share your accomplishments for this year...

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I am grateful for Pandora Radio.
The lullaby station puts Myles to sleep in no time!



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Saturday, December 28, 2013

I'm fat and I want to lose weight

Hello everyone and Happy Monday! 

I'm fat and I want to lose weight!

For some reason, this is the phrase that I most often here during this time of year. For most people (about 40% of the US population), it's a New Year's Resolution year after year, but with no success. We all want to improve ourselves, whether it's physically, emotionally, monetarily, etc, but for all intentions, only a tiny fraction of us (research suggests that only 8% of us achieve our New Year's goals!) keep our resolutions. 

Let's take a look at this picture. Why do people fail so miserably at goal-setting? Are they less apt than those who succeed? I don't believe that some people are more capable than others in achieving goals. I think that there's a strategy to goal-setting and achieving whatever it is you want to achieve. There are however, some steps to take in order for you to follow through with your goals. 



Make small attainable goals. Many people will use the New Year to make huge goals for the following year, but quite honestly, Americans have so many competing priorities that they inevitably fail to follow through with many of their plans. The key is to keep your goals simple and attainable. Instead of "wanting to lose weight," you could plan on cutting back on sugar, salt and simple carbs. By making your goals not-so-big and overwhelming, you are making it easier on yourself to progressively lose the weight you want to shed. 

Be specific about your goals. When you have decided on a goal for the New Year, make sure to create a plan and be specific on how you're going to carry it out. So for instance, don't say "I want to lose weight," you must clearly define how you're going to lose weight. It's much easier to follow a plan that says "I won't drink beer or eat pizza and I will go to the gym every Monday and Friday for a spinning class." If the goals are vague, the results will be vague too!

Make yourself accountable. When we share our goals with others we tend to carry them out successfully. You could tell your family and friends or you could use social media as a motivator. For example, I use my fitness blog as a way to educate myself about health, fitness and running, but also to motivate myself to be a better runner. I would also suggest writing out your goals in a board that you see every day or making a vision board. These are all great ways to remind yourself to stick to the plan you have determined to carry out. 

Believe in yourself.  This is probably the most difficult part of goal-setting: believing that you are capable of doing anything you want. Oftentimes people find themselves on a bumpy road and they are quick to fall off the band-wagon. They begin making excuses and rationalizing their behaviors, which inevitably leads to self-sabotage. Let me be the one to say that You Can Do It!!! 

I've heard people say that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," but I don't believe that's an accurate description of the human body. The body thrives on physical challenges. As humans, our bodies were meant to explore both pleasure and pain. I believe it's people's ill-spirit that doesn't allow them to persevere. Remember this, you have as much will-power as you think you have. 

*Wishing you all the best for the upcoming year. May it be filled with lots of joyous training sessions, exciting and heart-pounding races and delectable and healthy meals!!!*


What are your New Year's Resolutions?

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I'm grateful for fresh , mouth-watering
fruits that quench my thirst.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mondetta Performance Gear $500 Giveaway!

Hello friends!

So now that the holidays are over, I'm sure it would be nice to win some mula ($$$) for fitness apparel. Well, today is your lucky day!! Mondetta Performance Gear is having a year-end review survey contest to award one lucky winner a $500 shopping spree on MPGsport.com. 

To enter into the contest is ridiculously easy! All you have to do is click on this link -> https://www.facebook.com/MPGSport/app_203880543018005 and answer one question: Did you reach your fitness goals this year? All you have to do is click "Yes" or "No." It doesn't matter what the answer is. 

I'm a huge fan of their clothing (for their clothing review click here) because it's a) very good quality, b) it fits your body nicely, c) the material is conducive to sweating, and d) it's fashionable for any kind of athlete. 

So go ahead and take the survey. Good luck!!!



Have you ever worn MPG clothing? What's your favorite fitness apparel?

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I am grateful for girdles. 
They are helping me get back into shape!
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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

Hello friends!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from my family to yours!!!


May your day be filled with love, laughter and some good and healthy food ;)

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I'm grateful for sharing this 
Christmas with my two favorite boys!

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Wild & Sexy Calendar Shoot

Hello everyone and happy Monday!! 

Do you guys remember back in July when I had a photo shoot that was put together by Wildside Photography for the 12 fastest female runners in South Florida? Well, guess what? The calendars are in!!! And yours truly (ME!), will be featured in it!!!

If y'all are interested in getting a copy of this ultimate sexy and bad a$$ calendar, click here.


This calendar will make the perfect gift for you and your runner friends or anyone who wants to see a wild and sexy runner posing for the cameras!!! The best part is that the profits from the calendars will be given to 12 different charities (each runner picked their own charity- I chose Friends of Greyhounds). Go and check it out!!!



What are you buying your runner friends for Christmas?


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I am grateful for a wonderful and
supportive family. 

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Friday, December 20, 2013

My Birth Story (with pics!)


December 10th had finally arrived, the day that baby Myles should have been born, but nothing happened. I was anxious and ready to have this baby. Besides wanting to see his adorable face, I yearned to experience labor and delivery as the anxiety of what the pain felt like was making me extremely nervous.

Anyway, I had an appointment with the midwife, Barb, on December 12th and after completing my check-up, she said I was 3 cm dilated. She said I was progressing nicely, however she suggested that I try some natural remedies to initiate "active" labor. So, what’s the remedy Barb? I asked with curiosity. “Nipple stimulation,” she responded. What in the world is she talking about? I questioned myself. She told me to go home and walk for 40 minutes and then she said to pump both of my breasts for 3 hours. Barb said that the pumping might cause some contractions, but reassured me that they wouldn’t hurt too badly. That sounded brutal and painful, but I was willing to do whatever I needed to do!

I went home that night and walked around the neighborhood feeling seemingly energized. When I returned home, I cleaned the house, ate dinner, put on the movie “Ghost” (I love that movie!), then I sat down for 3 hours and pumped away. To my surprise, the pumping did not hurt at all. It felt a bit awkward, but it was completely painless. I wondered if the pumping really worked since I didn’t experience any kind of contractions or cramping in my abdomen. I guess we’ll see what happens, were my thoughts.

I woke up 3 times that night with the urge of going to the bathroom. I felt a slight discomfort in my tummy, but nothing that alarmed me. I woke up at 7:00 am that Friday morning, December 13th, feeling a bit tired. My husband asked me if he should go to work (work is 30 miles away for him, by the way!) and I responded with a quick “Yes.” “I feel fine,” I told him. So away he went to work. Half an hour later, I rushed to the bathroom with a “stomach ache” and an urge to push my bowels. Every time I would push them, the stomach ache grew in intensity. I was so confused. “Why do I have a stomach ache,” I asked myself. Then it dawned on me- I think I am having contractions! I began timing my “stomach ache pains” and to my surprise they were 3 minutes apart. This can’t be! I thought. Three minutes is way too close, I said to myelf. Then, I decided to call the birth center.

Betty, the other midwife at the Center, answered the phone and while I gasped for air, I told her my contractions were 3 minutes apart. “Okay hun, you need to come over here now,” Betty said. I immediately called my husband and told him he needed to return. Nervously he said, “I’ll be there as fast as I can; I’m stuck in traffic!” Oh great! That’s exactly what I wanted to hear.

While I waited for my husband, I sat in the toilet allowing gravity to ease the contractions. After a while, I stood up and leaned over the kitchen countertop and swayed my hips side to side. I didn’t know why my body moved that way, but I simply complied to the demands of it. While my body contracted, I found myself drifting to some far away place. I felt as if my body was going on a rollercoaster of pains. Up, up, up the pain went and swoosh, down it left. As the pain would escalate, I would take a deep breath and exhaled as it left. Somehow I managed to rhythmically sync my contractions to my rollercoaster of pains and breathing patterns- I felt like I was in the twilight zone.

My husband finally arrived at around 9:00 am. I immediately got into the car and he sped away to the Center. He tried talking to me, but my contractions wouldn’t allow me to talk. I was completely mute and lost in the pain. We finally arrived at the Center at 9:30ish am. When Betty saw me she knew it was game time. She checked to see how dilated I was and calmly answered 7 cm. I couldn’t believe that I had labored all night without feeling it- I got lucky! She asked me if I wanted to lay in the bed and I gently laid myself on it. I immediately felt stabbing pains on my back so I quickly got up and stood over the examining table. I found myself swaying my hips side to side once again. “Good job,” said Betty, “that relieves the tension.” She then asked me to change clothing, which consisted of being naked plus a bra. I didn’t care at that point; I had lost all inhibitions.

While I changed my clothes, Betty prepared the birth pool. She ran a hose inside of it and told me it would take 20 minutes to fill up. In the meantime, I just stood over the pool while I continued moving my body back and forth. During those 20 minutes the contractions grew worse and worse. They felt like period cramps but magnified to the tenth power. I felt like I had no control over my body. My body began shaking as if I were cold, but Betty said that was a natural reaction during labor.



As soon as the pool filled up with water, I got inside of it. The warm water immediately eased my contractions- it felt heavenly. I then squatted down inside of the pool. Again, my body told me to do this, so I complied. While squatting, my hips continued moving side to side and I leaned my torso over the edge of the pool. I gripped my hands together and began breathing louder and louder. 



With every breath I took, I would release a loud moan as if being seduced by the vibrations of pain. It was now about 10 o’ clock in the morning and my midwife, Barb, walked in. I was so happy to see her. In my hazy vision I saw Barb in her white scrubs as she leaned over me. Barb is a petite Haitian woman with the most beautiful dark skin and Rapunzel-like dreadlocks. She has the softest voice and the most tender touch. She squatted in front of me and said, “Hi mami, how are you feeling?” I lay my head on her shoulder and she rubbed my back.



I was now surrounded by Barb, Betty, my doula Michelle, my mother, sister and husband. I asked my sister for the time and she said 10:30 am. I couldn’t believe that 3 hours had passed since my first real contraction began. My time orientation was completely warped, but it seemed to be flying by.



All of a sudden my body felt the urge to push. I had no clue what was happening, but my mind began to drift away once again. This time however, I felt like I was in a trance. I was focused on the urges to push and the loud cries that accompanied them. Barb held me once again and told me to put my head on her shoulder. My cries grew louder and louder. I told myself “I could do this.” I repeated the phrase “Pain is good. You are almost done.” But at one point my mind tried to fool me by telling me that the pain was not bearable. It felt like someone was stabbing and ripping my body apart. Barb looked at me and gently said, “Erika, you’re wasting your energy on your screams. I need you to focus that energy on your pushes.” I continued to push with every violent stabbing pain I felt. “Surrender yourself,” said Barb. She said, “Don’t squeeze your sphincter because you’re not allowing the baby to come out. Relax your body.” I released all tension from my bottom part and began pushing again. “The head is out. Just a couple of more pushes Erika,” Barb said excitedly. I pushed a few more times and out went the body. “Catch your baby Erika,” she said, but I was still in a trance and unable to get out of it. I felt like I was going to faint, but she screamed “Erika, Erika come back, look at your baby.” I felt like I was in another world.



Suddenly I snapped back and looked at my baby boy. Barb gave me the baby and I held him tightly in my arms. His cries reassured me I was back to life. At that moment all the pain went away (literally!). It was as if I had not been in any kind of pain at all. I felt so accomplished and fulfilled.

I never imagined that I could endure the pain of labor and delivery without drugs, but I learned that day that it was all a mindset. I had programmed myself to believe that I could do it and I did. I told myself that the pain was temporary and bearable and the pain was indeed short-lived. I reminded myself that this would be like a race with a lot of pain and mental hurdles, but that an amazing award would be given at the end and I did in fact receive the best gift God had ever given me, my baby Myles. Four hours later we were on our way home =)

People have asked me why I chose this method of delivery and all I could say is that it felt like the right thing to do. I truly wanted to experience the pain of birthing my baby- I believe that's how nature intended it to be. 




What are your thoughts on the birth pool?


-----------------
I am grateful for the
gift  of motherhood.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I GAVE BIRTH!

Hello friends!! 

The time has finally come. Baby Myles arrived on Friday, December 13th at 10:51 am. After a mere 3 hours of laboring, my baby was born into this world making me feel like the most accomplished and blessed human being. It's been a very busy four days since his birth, but please stay tuned to hear all about my birth story. I will share my experience from beginning to end.

As you all may know, I opted to deliver in a birthing pool without any medication or epidural. It was a surreal and out-of-the-world experience. Thankfully, everything came out as planned and both Myles and I were healthy and ok. I hope you enjoy reading about my birth story as much as I will enjoy writing and reminiscing about it.

Please feel free to ask me any questions or to drop a comment. STAY TUNED....

In the meantime, enjoy these photographs...

Me and my little man

Myles Day 2

With the most handsome boy

My little fella weighed 8.8 lb and 21 inches in length

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I'm grateful and ecstatic of this
new chapter in my life.  

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Exercise Prevails Again

Hello my friends and happy hump day!
 
 
I have by no means forgotten about y'all. I wanted to drop by and give you an update on my pregnancy. So, my official due date was yesterday, but at this rate, I think I'll be giving birth in a month. Ok, ok, so I'm being a bit dramatic, but this belly is getting huge and heavy. If baby Myles comes out anything like his father when he was a baby, he'll be surely weighing over 10 pounds (ugh!). Anyway, I've opted not to induce labor artificially (unless I pass the 42 week mark) so, that leaves me with only one option: inducing labor naturally!
 
I don't even know if there's any truth to those natural remedies, but I have already tried a few and nothing, nada, zilch, zero!! Let's see, I've tried walking (which I'm still doing during my lunch breaks), cinnamon tea and some "contact sports."
 
According to some doctors, exercise may help induce labor as well. They recommend doing the following exercises to ripen the cervix (yummy!) and tone the uterus:
 
1. Lunge and push up against a wall. This stretches the muscles that connect to the cervical tissue (might help with effacement and dilation). 
 
 
 
2. Vertical lunge. This stretches the lower back and the tail bone.
 
 
 
3. Climb stairs. This encourages the baby's head to drop lower in the birth canal (aka "station").
 
 
 
4. Squats. Theoretically, the muscles you use during labor are the same muscles you use when squatting.
 
 
I don't know if these moves will work, but they're worth a shot right? Let's put these exercises to test!!
 
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I'm grateful for non-swollen
hands and feet.




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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Prepping for the BIG Race

Hello everyone! I hope you all enjoyed reading my last post about choosing to have a natural, drug-free water birth. I've gotten some criticism over it including, some comments about my intentions of wanting to be some kind of super hero for opting out of drugs. That's okay because those comments were expected.

My intentions are not to be Wonder Woman or to boast about my labor. I have chosen this route of childbirth because I truly believe that women are capable and strong enough to bear the pain of labor. I feel that women are amazing creatures and oftentimes we are not given the credit we deserve. My experiences throughout pregnancy has given me a new perspective about what women can do. We are absolutely powerful and tough. We were chosen to have children, not by coincidence, but because of our innate ability to endure and withstand pain.

Personally, I want to experience the pain of labor and truly get a feel for what it takes to be a woman. I never thought I could get pregnant, so this little bundle of joy has been a miracle and blessing from God. As the days get closer to the birth of my child, I am prepping for it in the same ways I would prep for a marathon.

I plan on using the following techniques to cope with the pain of labor:

1. Mental Imagery
2. My "Special Place"
3. Relaxation
4. Breathing Techniques
5. A Positive Attitude
6. Mantra/Positive Affirmations
 
 
 
These are the same techniques I use during a long and painful marathon. The race usually starts off easy, but as it progresses, things begin to get a little more interesting. It's at about the 20th mile that I begin to use all of my mental strategies to get through the race. I envision every step that I take and I subconsciously watch myself run (Mental Imagery); I mentally place myself out of my body and imagine that I am somewhere relaxing and beautiful (My Special Place); I try to relax my body and avoid tensing it because that aggravates the pain (Relaxation); I control my breathing by inhaling through my nose and out through my mouth in order to avoid cramping and hyperventilation (Breathing Techniques); I tell myself that the pain I am experiencing is "good" pain and only temporary (A positive attitude); and I repeat phrases that motivate me to continue running, such as "You CAN do this. It's do or die. You are almost there." (Mantra/Positive Affirmations).
 
So, as I prep for the BIG race, I will continue practicing my mental techniques while keeping my faith on my strength and keeping my eyes on the prize.
 
 
 
How do you prep for a race?
 
 
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I am grateful for mental fortitude.
 

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Choice for a Water Birth

Hello friends!! So the time is getting closer and this baby should be coming any day now. As I anxiously wait for my baby (*while twiddling my thumbs*), I've been mentally preparing myself for labor. When I first found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted a drug-free birth. I had planned on a natural, epidural-free birth at a hospital until I learned about the birthing center.

After going to an orientation at the birth center, I knew that was the right option for me. I liked the fact that birthing in a pool or tub was an option and I appreciated that their philosophy was centered on a holistic approach to life. They believe that the birthing mother should dictate her birthing environment, so she's free to decide who stays in the room with her, how she wants the rooming conditions to be, how she labors and delivers her baby (they are allowed to catch their own babies), what position she wants to deliver the baby and what procedures she wants her baby to have after birth.

As I've blogged throughout the months, you all have come to know me as someone who is extremely health-conscious, but also as a person who enjoys having freedom of choices. When I learned that labor and delivery in a hospital was strict and regimented, I opted not to be a part of that. I want the freedom to move around when I'm laboring; I don't want to be strapped down to a fetal monitoring device; I don't want to wear a hospital gown; I don't want to deal with impersonal doctors; I don't want to lie on my back while I give birth; I don't want to be told how to push; I don't want artificial drugs for inducement; I don't want an epidural; I don't want a C-section; I don't want loud, opinionated nurses in and out of my room; I don't want certain drugs/vaccines given to my baby and I don't want the nurses to take my baby to a nursery. So, as you can see, the list keeps going and going. You may think you have freedom in a hospital, but what usually happens is that doctors and nurses instill a bit of fear on birthing mothers and they end up acquiescing to whatever the doctors and nurses say. I want none of that.

With that being said, I have opted for a water birth at a birth center in Broward County. It'll look something like this:

 
 
 
Did you know that these celebrity moms had at home water births?
 
 
 
What are your thoughts on a water birth?
 
 
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I am grateful for my faith-driven
decision to have a natural water birth.
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