Category Archives: Out of Your Comfort Zone

Are You a Warrior?

Warrior Dash 2012 was held last Saturday here in NM for the first time.  My sister Rosa was a true warrior completing the race in one piece.  Her account of this right of passage follows:

Warrior Dash was a thrilling race!  There were many warriors prepared for battle.  It took place on Saturday, May 5th in Edgewood, NM at Founders Ranch.  There were 14 obstacles to keep you busy as you completed the 5k course.  It is a race to run with friends.  We dressed as tigers and zebras this year, but we’re already preparing for better costumes for next year’s race. 

My favorite was the ending.  We had already completed 3 miles of hilly terrain and 7 tough climbing and crawling obstacles.  Just as we were hollering because we were near the finish a 30 foot wall with a rope ladder to climb comes into view.  Up and down we climb.  As my feet touch the ground I smile thinking I didn’t miss a step the whole course.  Then, I turn to see there’s still more.  Next is the mud slide – my friends and I roar as we dive into the mud to slide to the next obstacle:  FIRE!  I truly feel like a warrior as I leap over the flames, my body covered in mud as the crowd cheers.  Not done yet.  The finish line is only 30 yds away, with 20 yards of it being barbwire that is only two feet off the ground.  As we struggle to figure out how to go under the barbwire the crowd yells for us to barrel roll.  I have no more energy to think so down we go rolling our way to the shallow mud.  Dizzily we wade through the mud using our arms to pull us to the end. Finally, we stand up grab hands, cross the finish line, receive our medals, and collect our hard earned ice cold beer. 

Warrior Dash brings race, mud to NM

(photo from krqe)
I will definitely be the first to sign up for this race next year.  It was well organized as we were able to quickly and easily get our registration packets and turn in our bags to be checked.  The only downfall of the event was the traffic to and from.  There was food, music, beer, and a big screen tv to watch warriors complete obstacles.  And the best part of it all is that it benefits St. Jude’s hospital!
Warrior Dash brings race, mud to NM
(photo from krqe)
Thank you Rosa and friends for your bravery and courage in completing the Warrior Dash! 

Blissful Birth?

My Baby Girl was born on the last day of the year.  She’s beautiful and perfect.  This post is not really a birth story – that is really quite personal and far too involved for this blog.  Rather, I’d like to share with you how the hypnosis classes worked or didn’t work for my labor and delivery.

First things first – Blissborn was great, but T is a rockstar.  He was simply amazing and perfect throughout.  Okay, back to the story . . .

As you may recall, I decided to take the BlissBorn series of classes to prepare for childbirth.  My original purpose in taking the classes was to achieve control of my mind and body and develop a plan to work with T as a team through the labor and delivery.  Frankly, when I first signed up I wasn’t even trying to really reduce pain, I just wanted a plan and a sense of control and calm when delivery time came along.  With each class, my perspective evolved into something more profound.  The class was also huge help in preparing a Birth Plan that I was able to show to my providers at the hospital.  They read it and respected my wishes.

T and I took the BlissBorn classes and practiced hypnosis at home.  Mind you, I did not practice as much as the program recommends.  T and I practiced together even less often.  The BlissBorn method calls for daily hypnosis sessions, on my own and with the use of the audio guides.  Sometimes, I’d practice 6 days each week, sometimes just a couple.  In retrospect, I am sure things would have been even better with more practice.  As it was, I am very satisfied with my labor and delivery and I owe a large part of that to BlissBorn for preparing T and I.

As with most everything in life, things didn’t go according to plan.  One week before my due date I learned that would need to be induced.  I was bummed.  I was disappointed that right from the beginning my labor wasn’t going to be totally “natural.”  In the reading the materials for the BlissBorn classes, I learned about an intervention “domino effect” – that is, one intervention tends to require another and another and so on.  I was worried that being induced would change everything and I would have to have an epidural, maybe a cesarean, and who knows what else.

Speaking of natural childbirth and epidurals – the class did change my mind on this subject.  At the outset, I was somewhat ambivalent about epidurals.  I thought, if I don’t need one then why get one?  But if I do want one, what’s the big deal?  Part of the class homework involved reading Ecstatic Birth – Nature’s Hormonal Blueprint for Birth by Sarah J. Buckley.  After reading it, I was convinced that a natural birth without pain medications was the best choice for me and Baby Girl.  At the risk of being too concise, the article basically explains that women’s bodies have a perfectly customized hormone cocktail that makes natural birth ideal for mom and baby (and not necessarily painful).  My body was built to birth naturally so why mess with Mother Nature?  On the other hand, I reserve no judgment for how women choose to birth their babies – to each her own :)  At any rate, I highly recommend reading the article for a fascinating and scientific account of all things hormonal that go on during labor and birth.

So back to labor:  I used the hypnosis techniques that I learned in the class and listened to the final hypnosis session on my iPod once the process of being induced began at about 4pm Friday afternoon.  Things were slow early on; just small contractions.  Then around midnight, after my second dose of misoprostol, my contractions grew much stronger.  By 2am things were moving along and the contractions were strong, just not very regular.  However, by 4am Baby Girl was well on her way and the contractions were strong and close together.  With the hypnosis audio guides I was really relaxed early on and until about 4 am I was able to doze off for several minutes at a time between contractions.  After 4am I relied completely on T and the techniques that I learned, but not the audio guide.

A key strategy I learned was to accept each contraction for what it is:  each one is a step toward the opening of the cervix.  I was taught to think “open and relaxed” with each contraction and visualize the cervix opening and my body getting ready for the birth.  So rather than fight against the pain of a contraction, I welcomed them as being one step closer to meeting my sweet Baby Girl.  And more than just welcoming them, I learned to make them even bigger in my mind so that I was going with the flow and helping my body move closer to birth.

Just one problem – I wasn’t anticipating so called “back labor.”  I’m not going to lie, this was pretty painful.  I couldn’t exactly picture how the pain in my lower back was supposed to be helping this process along but I stuck with the mantra “open and relaxed” with each contraction and I swear that really got me through that painful part of labor.  I held on to T (he was right there for every moment) and said the words aloud at times “open and relaxed,” thinking my body is just opening and I’m relaxing to let it all progress as it should.  I repeatedly used the technique of saying “let go” while breathing out to relax and go back into hypnosis.  (You can come in and out of it at will.)

I did not stay very deep into hypnosis once I began pushing.  I did still feel in control and continued the “open and relaxed” mantra throughout the labor and birth.  The pushing stage, beginning at about 7:15am, seemed to last forever (it lasted about an hour and forty five minutes) and if I had practiced the “shrinking of time” technique I probably could’ve used that, but I didn’t.  Maybe next time ;)  Oddly enough, the only really painful part was the “back labor.”  I didn’t feel a lot of pain otherwise.

For some context, the midwife explained that another woman who had been induced earlier in the week with misoprostol took 19 or 20 hours from being induced to birth.  She also explained it could take up to 48 hours.  Yikes.  As it was, from my first dose to Baby Girl’s grand entrance, about 17 hours elapsed.  I’d like to think that the hypnosis kept me relaxed so that my labor could progress.

Anyway, the bottom line is the hypnosis worked.  I didn’t take and didn’t need any pain medications.  During labor I heard the nurses and midwives commenting that I was so calm and doing so well during labor (that boosted my confidence too).  I also felt pretty great afterward.  I like to think that since Baby Girl was so alert right from the beginning and looking to breastfeed within minutes after she was born it was partly because I didn’t introduce any pain medications during my labor.  The fact that I was alert afterward was probably as a result of that too, especially considering I’d been awake for about 24 hours.

Eight weeks later, Baby Girl is beautiful as ever.  I feel great and, yes, I can actually entertain the thought of another one . . .

Blissborn Class Update

A few weeks ago I wrote about the birth education/preparation class that I’m taking, BlissBorn.  Today, I’ll let you know what the classes were like and in the new year I’ll get back to you with how everything turns out.

So we took five one-hour classes over five weeks.  I learned how to quickly enter a state of deep mental and physical relaxation (hypnosis).  In just a few moments I can dial down my chatty conscious mind and allow my reptilian brain (subconscious) to take over.  I’ve got about six weeks to continue practicing the techniques that I learned before the real deal requires me to use them.

Simple tools for hypnosis

One of the most fascinating parts of the course was the fourth class where we learned some pain control techniques.  Not surprisingly, this is the most anticipated class.  As part of the class, I placed a clothespin on a somewhat sensitive area (my earlobe) and experienced the discomfort out of hypnosis and then again after going into hypnosis.  What a difference!  Neither was outright painful but I was much more attuned to the discomfort out of hypnosis.  Under hypnosis, I pretty much forgot all about the clothespin pinching my earlobe.  This particular class was definitely a confidence booster.

Listening to the hypnosis tracks on my mp3 player.

One of my favorite classes was the session on fear.  With this class we identified and spelled out our fears about pregnancy and childbirth and learned to transform them into peace, relaxation, and comfort.  We were guided with specific instructions to identify our fears, talk about them with our partner, develop a strategy to deal with them and transform them into positive affirmations, and then use hypnosis to imprint these positive thoughts onto our minds.  This provided an excellent opportunity to really think about the things that made me nervous or worrisome, talk about them with T, and then work through them.  This class gave me more confidence in my ability to handle the unexpected situations that can arise during childbirth.  Basically, I feel less panicky and more prepared.

Best of all, this class has given T an important and defined role for labor and delivery.  Before the class, T was sure that his main job would be make sure I had a steady supply of ice chips.  No joke.  Frankly, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted him to do either.  Now, he feels much more confident in his role in supporting me and talking with the medical staff.  Better yet, we have a mutual understanding and agreement about our entire birth plan.  T still jokes about the ice chips, but thankfully, now it’s just a joke :)

What things did you or your partner do to prepare for labor and childbirth?  I’d love to hear all about the classes you may have taken or some of the books that you enjoyed (or hated) reading!


Delivery Room: Bliss or Chaos?

This week I began taking a childbirth education class (there are many to choose from).  It’s not Lamaze and it’s not the Bradley Method.  I’ve signed up for Blissborn.  Essentially, Blissborn will teach me to use the natural state of hypnotic focus (deep mental and physical relaxation) to control my own mind and body to create the birthing experience that I desire.

Blissborn workbook and dvd

When it came time to think about delivery and what I wanted, I wasn’t really sure at first.  I knew what I didn’t want:  a panicked state of emotion and screaming in pain and anguish.  Basically, I don’t want to be freaking out and I don’t want to be angry and yelling at T.  I wanted a plan, but what exactly?

I investigated water birthing:  it looks calm, peaceful, gentle for mom and baby, and Lovelace Women’s Hospital recently opened a natural birthing center with options for water births.  However, I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to forgo an epidural or try something that my doctor may not have ever done before.  Then my cousin, an obstetrician, mentioned that one of the most calm deliveries she’d ever seen was with a woman who used hypnobirthing.

I looked up the concept and was sold.  There appear to be about three major hypnobirthing classes available:  HypnoBirthing, BlissBorn, and HypnoBabies.  After researching classes in Albuquerque, I settled on Blissborn.  It’s comprehensive childbirth education with the goals of educating women to be prepared and empowered, shortening labor, reducing interventions and complications, reducing fear, and increasing confidence.  It doesn’t zonk (is this a word?) you out so that you don’t know what’s going on and there are no brass timepieces swinging back and forth (much to T’s dismay).  Rather, you learn to relax and control your mind to make childbirth quicker, safer, and more comfortable.

Oh yeah, another cool note on Blissborn is that the founders live and work right here in Albuquerque!  Although I’m not taking the class directly from the founders, my class is being taught by Ryan Chambers at Inspired Birth and Families on 4th Street in the north valley.

I plan to update you along the way and come January, I’ll let you know if it worked for me!


Keeping Fit as the Belly Expands

I knew before I became pregnant that I wanted to continue exercising throughout my pregnancy.  The consensus is that it’s beneficial for mom and baby.  Sounds straightforward enough, but when I started really trying to investigate exactly what type of exercises I could do and how intensely I should workout I wasn’t finding what I wanted.  I found many suggestions to begin yoga.  “Okay,” I thought, “I’ve done yoga before and it can be very challenging, so this could be good.”  Then when I would read about the sequences of poses that were suggested by various books I was really turned off.  They looked to be mostly resting poses where this silly sketched pregnant lady is propped up with pillows and blankets and just lying there.  It wasn’t “exercise” as I had envisioned.  (Caveat:  check out my post about prenatal yoga at Hot Yoga Downtown.)

Already bummed that I would have to take a break from soccer, I was looking for something more along the lines of running, spin, and weight lifting.  Instead I read that I should “try the elliptical,” “try walking,” “don’t let your heart rate exceed 140 BPM,” and “stop doing abdominal exercises.”  As someone who shuns the elliptical in favor of running and stair-climbing, likes to see her heart rate reach 180 in spin class, and cherishes her core-focused workouts, this did not sit well and so I had to look harder.  I know I need to adjust, but are walking and yoga really all there is?  The health of my baby and me are my number one concern but does this mean cardio and maintaining muscle mass are out of the question?  I think not.

Elite Runners: Paula Radcliff and Kara Goucher

 At first, I read about Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliff (professional runners) in Runners’ World running throughout their pregnancies and using gravity defying running machines.  While I was inspired, I was quite intimidated and, oh yeah, running isn’t my job.  Little by little I uncovered some gems of inspiration like this blog by a gym in Richmond, California that is packed full of inspiring pregnant (1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester) women working out with kettle bells.  I also found these blog posts (and this one) about pregnant women keeping fit by weight lifting, water running, swimming, and kayaking.  My friend also gave me a handy instructional book for trainers about working with pregnant women.  I love that it’s written from the perspective of a trainer with information about the “why” and “how” and not just “do this move, not this one, then do this move, etc.”

With all of this in mind, I’ve taken up spin again at the YMCA in my neighborhood.  It feels so good to get some cardio I can’t believe it!  Although I can still jog, my pace is so slow it’s sort of frustrating, hence, spin.  I like that I can hop on a spin bike and still pump out sprints and hill climbs.  Also, I continue to enjoy the strength workouts that we have our JV soccer team do during practice.  At this point, I can still do most of them.  (Of course, I’ve consulted with my OB regarding my workouts.)

So I guess I didn’t find the magic book, “Rebecca:  Here is Your Guide to the Kinds of Exercise You Would Like Throughout Your Pregnancy,” instead I’m writing it as I go, drawing upon the experiences of many different women.  Based on how I’ve progressed so far, I’m sure I’ll need to continue adapting and adjusting my workouts as I get closer to my due date.

 Lastly, I will keep this mama in mind when it’s time to start working out after I have my baby (if the video in that link doesn’t encourage you to get moving I don’t know what will!).


Hanging up Your Boots?

Have you ever given up the sport you love because the physical toll has become too much?  In September 2009  I tweaked my knee and I thought I would have to give up soccer permanently.  I took about 4 months off of soccer, running, and cross training. 
Prior to my injury, I was working out 3x per week with a trainer.  I was the strongest I had ever been and certainly the most fit.  After about 2 years I decided I could work out on my own.  I signed up for a gym membership and after about 1 month I fell off the wagon.  Two months later, soccer season started up and I figured I could jump right in as normal.  Wrong.  In the second game of the season I tweaked my knee and by the third game I was limping around.  I realized that all the work I had done to stay fit and strong was what kept me from getting injured sooner.

I got an MRI and was able to see an orthopaedic surgeon who delivered the good news:  I didn’t have to give up soccer or running, but I needed to do physical therapy to strengthen certain muscles.  I worked with Sandra Knudsen, a physical therapist over at NM Orthopaedics, and she was fantastic.  She understood my problem, my fear of injuring it worse, my desire to continue with the sports that I loved, and how to get my legs back in working order.  She explained how the muscles and ligaments around my knees worked and what I needed to do to maintain them.  “Maintenance!” – that thing you have to do if you want to keep playing strenuous sports as you age.

This February race in Jacksonville, FL was my motivation to get well.

Luckily for me, I had not seriously damaged my knee.  After that 4 month break and several weeks of physical therapy (including an awesome boot camp at XPAC Fit with Marsha Gonzales), I ran a half marathon and felt great.  Yes, my muscles ached and my knees were sort of swollen.  But I took care of them with elevation, stretching, massage, heat, and ice.  Ever since, I constantly remind myself that if I want to keep playing soccer, tennis, and running I absolutely must maintain my fitness (strength, cardio, and not least of all, flexibility). 

 That experience was a huge wake-up call.  I’ve also scaled back my intensity on the soccer field.  I satisfy my competitive drive in other ways – I push myself in spin class, run races, and now I’m coaching soccer too.  This way I get to participate in the team sport that I’ve always loved without trashing my joints.

 Have you had to give up something you love because your body couldn’t take it anymore?  How did you cope with it?

Way-Too-Early Morning Spin

I usually get my workouts done after my regular workday, preferring to use the early morning hours for sleeping.  Makes perfect sense to me.  However, to prepare for a half marathon back in February of this year (in Florida – 2 hours ahead of MST) I thought it wise to get up an hour earlier a few times to get my brain and body used to being up and moving at that unholy hour. 

 I questioned my own judgment each morning when NPR started up on my alarm clock at 5:20 a.m.  (Yes, that’s early for me!)  I trudged out of bed, shoved in my contacts, got dressed and headed over to spin with Amy Baldwin at Body Language.  Ten minutes into the class I was already feeling better and quite proud for being there whilst my better half lie asleep in our cozy bed.  The women (no men when I went) in class were energetic and happy, but not annoyingly perky.  Amy was great too – a nice balance between “Good Morning!” and “Let’s just get it done, ladies.”  Good music can make all the difference for spin class and she mixes old and new seamlessly.

 Do you work out in the early morning, midday, or evening?  What motivates you to leave the warmth of your bed for a workout?

P.S.  This little plan did help on the big day of my half-marathon in Florida.  Yay!

P.P.S.  Be sure to bring a mid-morning snack with you to work after you try an early morning workout because spin class put my metabolism into overdrive and, despite eating my normal breakfast after class, I was starving by 11:00 a.m.

P.P.P.S.  I could not keep this up.  Turns out I’m not much of a morning person because I’d rather squeeze in a workout at the end of the day than drag myself out of bed that early :)


Swim Lessons

the class practicing their kicks

Trying to keep my son busy over the summer time without getting bored can be challenging at times.  Between playing soccer, geo-caching, hiking, and camping I just didn’t think we would really have time for anything else, but I have managed to squeeze in swim lessons in the evenings.  This has proven to be my best summer idea yet!

swimming to his instructor

My son just turned 6 and I figured it was about time for him to swim on his own.  He has been ‘swimming’ for a couple of years now, but I never felt like I could leave him in the pool alone.  My goal this summer was to ‘waterproof’ him and I have done this by enrolling him in swim lessons at Valley Pool.  I enrolled him for 6 weeks of class and by the end of the second week he could float on his back and stomach, blow bubbles out his nose, and jump in without holding onto the side.  By the end of the 4th week, he could swim an entire lap of the pool, jump into the 10 ft. dive tank and swim out, and swim with his face in the water.  I’m excited to see how he progresses over the next two weeks.

getting ready to race

I feel like this has been a great experience for him and even more importantly – a great life skill he has learned.  He will be ready to vacation with us when we snorkel and next summer we want to put him on a swim team.  The city of ABQ offers many swim lessons around the city for $25 per lesson.  Each lesson is a two-week block for about 40 minutes a day Monday-Thursday.  Click here for more info.

I am very pleased with the results!


Laser hair removal anyone?

Laser hair removal anyone?

I don’t know about you but I am fed up with waxing!  I go to a salon to get my eyebrows and upper lip waxed with ALWAYS the same result – bumps and redness that persist for an entire week.  I have tried very upscale salons and spas that  ‘promise’ not to leave you with bumps, I have tried hard wax, exfoliating and neutralizing my skin’s pH.  You name it – I have tried it, and all with the same disappointing results.  So in my frustration with the curse of sensitive skin, I thought I would give laser hair removal a try.

I did my research and found what I thought was a reputable place here in town.  It had received a ‘Best of ABQ’ award and they also had the latest technology, which made me feel good about my decision.  Upon arrival at the business I was not impressed.  I could not read the paperwork I was signing and the woman who was administering my procedure was wearing a baseball cap and gym clothes.  However, I went ahead with the procedure.

All I can say is that it was AMAZING!  The woman put a slimy gel on my upper lip, asked me to put on some silly looking glasses and then she started on what I call my ‘problem area.’  It took about 2 minutes to do my upper lip and it was less painful than being waxed.  It felt like someone was very lightly flicking a rubber band on my upper lip.   Before I knew it, I was done!  I had no bumps or redness on my skin and no other reactions to it that could be seen.  However, I did feel like I had a mild sunburn on my upper lip for about two days but it wasn’t visible. I am very pleased with the results and I am going to be making plans for my eyebrows next.   I highly recommend laser hair removal if you are tired of wasting your money on waxing.  Have any of you tried something out of your comfort zone?


Mudd Volleyball Fun

our mudd volleyball team

Our mud volleyball fun started on Friday as we went to the site off Rio Bravo and 2nd street to set up camp.  We brought our pop up tent for shade along with some tarps, chairs, and a table.

game time preparations

Our first game was at 9:20 a.m. on Saturday morning, we arrived early at 7 a.m. to beat the crowds.  The buzzard for our game began and we lost 16-25.  It bruised our egos but we were ready for the next match which was against our friends who take this tournament very seriously.  The Shark’s have been playing together for 5 years and needless to say kicked our butts!  Our last 3 games ended in victory and we ended the tournament with a 3-2 record.  I would say I’m pretty proud of that record considering none of us have played volleyball together before.  We didn’t make it to the winners tournament, but that is ok because it was the best time we have had helping our local hospital raise money.  Our preparations for next year are underway.  We have recruited other team mates to buy some pop up tents, we have come up with a theme for our tent, and I can’t wait to do this again.  It was a great time for everyone!