Some thoughts and discussions from me.
Some thoughts and discussions from me.
Good morning, friends!
In my post a couple weeks back about pregnancy workouts I asked if anyone would want to hear the changes both Shane and I made to help us get pregnant. I got dozens of emails and DM’s saying YES, you would love to read more.
For some reason this was somewhat of a tough post for me to write. Partly because I’m not a huge fan of being vulnerable (who is?) partly because Shane is a very private person, and I wanted to make sure not to overshare on his behalf, and partly because this our journey – and no one else’s.
I want to elaborate on that third point. While it did take Shane and I a little more than 1.5 years to conceive, this is what I personally believe helped. I am absolutely NOT saying this is the case for anyone else. I’m simply sharing our experience, and measures we took along the way.
And who knows, it could have just been a crap shoot waiting game of luck.
The day after I found out – at just over 5 weeks pregnant
A few months after Shane and I moved into our new house we built here in Colorado, we decided to stop “not trying” to get pregnant.
To give a (very brief) backstory, I’d been off birth control for a good 3 or 4 years, but in 2012, I was diagnosed with PCOS, and then later my OBGYN in Colorado said that was a misdiagnosis and she actually thought it was hypogonadic amenorrhea. Basically, I wasn’t getting a period due to life stressors and hormone dysfunction. Through lifestyle and diet changes, I got my period back in mid-2013 and have had a somewhat regular cycle ever since.
However, since 2012, Shane and I always relied on the “family planning” method of birth control. We figured we wanted kids eventually, so if it ever did accidentally happen, it’d be ok. Basically, you don’t have sex during the week of ovulation.
Anyway, fast forward to July 2015 when decided to stop using that form of birth control and while we weren’t meticulous about it, did the deed no matter when it was in the month.
Many of my friends were very surprised to hear this, because I probably only told my mom and one or two other people that we’d started “trying.” I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and I didn’t want my friends to think I was pregnant any time I didn’t have a drink.
When nothing happened by Christmas, we started to try a little harder by using the family planning method — but this time as a means to get pregnant, rather than as birth control.
Throughout this time, since I know my body’s hormones can be touchy (as evidenced by the amenhorrhea in 2012,) I knew the following things disrupted my cycle, so I made sure never to do the following:
As long as I avoided these things I’d maintain a regular 30 day cycle. If I did any of them, I’d have a long cycle. And I figured as long as I had regular periods, I was fertile. So I kept my cardio to 3-4x’s a week, never let my body fat go past a certain point, ate breakfast within an hour of waking, and tried not to stress out over what was on my plate.
It wasn’t until I mentioned to my trainer in October 2016 that we were trying to get pregnant that I decided to drop my cardio way down, upon his advice. Some bodies can get pregnant while training for a marathon at 17% bodyfat; my body is NOT one of those bodies.
I dropped my cardio from 3-4 days a week of running, HIIT, hiking, and volleyball to just volleyball and a hike each week – along with daily 45 minute walks. I believe this is one of the biggest factors in helping me get pregnant.
Running a business is stressful, and all of the added cardio served as an extra stressor to my body. Granted, I was still also lifting 4 days a week – 2 upper and 2 lower and when I was training, I was training 100%.
As far as it goes for Shane, he started lifting consistently, 3 mornings a week. He added some muscle mass, but also was getting the hormonal and physical benefits of lifting and being active.
As far as what I ate? Nada. No changes. I kept on eating my gluten, dairy, sugar, and any other common allergen out there – as well as of course abundant veggies, lean proteins, carbs, and healthy fats. When I was going through my PCOS/HA thing in 2012, I tried elimination diets and all they did was stress me out. Thankfully, I don’t have an allergic reaction or ‘sensitivity’ to any food groups, and I was able to truly see that.
However, I will say that changing up my nutrient timing was key for me. Specifically, changing up my breakfast, post-workout, and dinner, set up in a way that best supports hormone function played a part (I believe.) This is actually the same nutrient timing guidelines I give my clients for fat loss and for optimal hormone function.
It helped me sleep better, helped my cortisol and insulin levels become as optimal as possible, and allowed me to be metabolically flexible. I kept my calories up to maintain weight, though, since my goal was not fat loss. Heck, at this point I didn’t even care to maintain any certain level of leanness – my goal was to get pregnant, and I wasn’t going to let my size interfere with that at all.
I wouldn’t say I made too many lifestyle changes, except to continually decrease stress levels. Shane made the biggest change here, and that was when he quit smoking. Yep…Shane used to be a smoker, and I’m confident that quitting helped our odds of getting pregnant. Shane also started taking a vitamin regimen supporting electrolyte, vitamin D, and vitamins which play a key role in men’s fertility, which may or may not have played a part.
All that said, again — it could just be that it was a game of odds and January of 2017 just happened to be our lucky month. I am not denying that one bit. But — I also think that decreasing my cardio, changing my nutrient timing, and our lifestyle changes had something to do with it.
I also understand that some couples struggle with infertility far longer than a couple years, and some, for a reason that’s completely unknown. It’s unfair. However, if you have a suspicion that it could be related to your cycles, level of leanness, or training, I would suggest to investigate.
I hope this was helpful to at least someone reading, or at least provided some clarity on our personal journey.