Dedicated to all the Mother’s out there. You. Are. Audacious.
CrossFit and Clean eating, or Paleo, go hand in hand. I learned about Clean eating through CrossFit. At one point in my life I was an addict of both. My husband and I started doing Crossfit on a blacktop at NASJAX, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, in Florida when he was still in the Navy. We followed his buddy when he opened his first Box and as we moved from Florida to California to Oregon we joined other CrossFit gyms along the way.
Paleo, for me, was a digestive game changer. Having dealt with lifelong issues that resulted in multiple colonoscopies before the age of 30, going Clean literally changed my life. Not only do I have no digestion problems while eating Clean, I have more energy, balanced weight, clearer skin, better mental health... the list could go on. Eventually, I found that I could stick to 80/20 Clean/Dirty food and still reap the results of a Clean diet.
Then I had a baby. Then I started breastfeeding. Most people who have had a child intimately understand the emotional, physical and hormonal struggle of feeding your child. Every birth is different and there are infinite reasons why a child is fed by formula or breast milk or a combination of both. My struggle had a lot to do with my daughter being tongue tied and lip tied. She wouldn't latch properly and therefor my milk didn't come in properly. The first months were filled with blood, blisters and tears on my part, crying and fussing on Stella's (my daughter) part and major stress for my husband who just wanted to fix the problem. We worked through that incredibly tough time and at one point I could have fed triplets. By ten months, I was able to donate milk to mothers who could not breastfeed; one of the most amazing gifts I could give.
So how does this all relate? Just over two months after Stella was born, I was cleared to exercise and ready to start getting back in shape. I activated my membership at Crossfit Hood River, meal planned 100% Clean meals for the coming week and tried on every piece of workout gear I had to find the few pieces I could squeeze myself into. I was ready to be a dedicated CrossFit-ing breastfeeding mother. By Thursday of the first week back, my daughter went from happy baby to screaming, fussy crying baby. The change was so quick and so drastic that we took her to the doctor who immediately brushed it off as colic. We were exhausted and distraught.
At CrossFit that Friday, my husband and I were speaking with a coach about our week; lamenting that we didn’t think the doctor was right, or cared to help us work through the issue. Our coach, immediately asked what had changed… well, duh. Clean food, CrossFit, more calories out and very likely not enough calories in. It was a “smack your forehead” kind of moment. We’ve had more of these moments than I can count as new parents. It can be so hard to find reason in the moment and separate emotion and hormones just long enough to realize what’s going on.
In short, that night we had beer and pizza for dinner and all was well again in our house.
While my milk production was good at that point, I was simply not organized or focused enough to eat enough calories from solely Clean food, do CrossFit and breastfeed. I was so blind to how much food had to do with milk production; I needed to eat more than I did while pregnant. Even though my doctor had warned me about that, reality didn’t take hold until that week. Instead of slowing down and taking the time to figure out how I could make this work, I chose to fail CrossFit and go back to eating dirty food, and a lot of it. I supported my milk production to the detriment of my mental and physical health. I felt scattered, so far from the self I knew, however, I was feeding my child, a success that I had to force myself to choose over everything else. Blind focus and determination won out, but I could have succeeded by choosing a different path.
It is ok to fail. We will usually learn more through failure than we will through instant success. The most important part of failure is how you use it to find your next success.
Today, I look back and realize I should have asked for more help. Help meal planning, help cooking every week, help putting pre-prepared food at my fingertips to stave off those “hangry” cravings. Not focusing on the skinny jeans in my closet, but rather eating clean food that supports my child AND my health. Even though meal planning is in my bones, the unknowns of parenthood took all my ability to plan and think things through beyond keeping my child save and fed.
Stella is now two and a half, CrossFit and Clean food are now back in my life in a way that fits in with having a family and working full time. With it, a passion to help people make meal planning and clean eating a constant in their life. I’m always thinking about how I can support my goal and making plans for the future of Eating Clean, Cooking Dirty. Providing meal plans specifically for new mamas would be a dream come true and is something I’m already working on.
Hearing stories from other new parents, especially in the first months of parenthood, gave my mental health a boost because it reaffirmed that I was not alone, not the only one who has struggled with parenthood, not crazy because I’ve put my hand under my daughters nose 10 times in an hour to make sure she still alive and not the only one pumping in the ladies room. Parenthood is literally the hardest and most enjoyable path I’ve taken; sharing the hard and the enjoyable gives us individual outlet and contributes to community togetherness. Giving support to others can be a step to finding support for yourself.
Thank you for taking the time to read, share and contribute. The only recipe I'm offering today involves a glass and a bottle of champagne. Pop, pour and toast to all the mother's (and quasi mother's) out there. Happy Mother's Day!