Mom Wellness, Self Care, Women's Health

Trying to Conceive? Balancebuilding before Babybuilding

The motherly instinct we get as women kicks in long before baby gets here. As mothers, or future mothers, we need to plan ahead in creating the most fertile and healthiest environment in our bodies for the baby and ourselves. The road to a positive pregnancy test can be daunting so taking action months prior to conception can get your body at its peak level to support conception and a growing baby.

So, what are the first steps you should take after making the decision to expand your family?

1. Schedule an appt with your OB/GYN.

Scheduling a pre-pregnancy appointment where your physician can review your family history, health issues, past pregnancies, what to expect and a plan moving forward. And it is always a must to consult your physician before making any changes to your health regimen.

2. Check your lifestyle and manage your stress.

Now is a good time to engage in stress management tools such as yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, eating healthy, exercise or whatever you consider healthy self-care to be. Evidence states that everyday stressor can impact fertility but most experts believe that this isn’t due directly to the stress but the stress from the unhealthy habits that people turn to in response to the stress like smoking, drinking, overeating, undereating, neglecting to exercise, etc.

Using the Holmes-Rahe stress scale can help you calculate your own stress levels based on huge life events and everyday stressors. If you are under a serious amount of stress, talk openly to your physician about it so they can work closely with you to help manage it.

 3. Evaluate your health and diet.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), you should focus before and during pregnancy, on consuming a healthy, balanced, vitamin rich diet. Being underweight or overweight, going into a pregnancy, can have adverse effects on you and the baby’s health.

Risks to being underweight:

  • Fertility issues
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Low birth weight baby
  • Preterm labor
  • Labor issues
  • Health and behavior issues well into childhood and even adulthood

Risks to being overweight:

  • Fertility issues
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • High blood pressure
  • Preeclampsia
  • Preterm birth
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Macrosomia- Larger than normal baby
  • Increased risk of birth injury and cesarean birth
  • Increased risk of Neural Tube Defects
  • Increased body fat can make it difficult for your health care provider accurately monitor the baby.

These are definitely good reasons to start evaluating your health and start thinking about what you are consuming. It is also important to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet. It can be tough to get in all of the vitamins and minerals we need from food alone so the ACOG also suggests taking a prenatal vitamin even before becoming pregnant.

List of important vitamin and minerals to enable a healthy pre-pregnancy body (ALWAYS consult your provider before taking any supplements):

  • Zinc– Important for Men and Women prior to getting pregnant
    • 25-50 mg per day for fertility purposes
    • For women
      • Zinc helps the body utilize estrogen and progesterone in the body.
      • Regulates menstrual cycles.
      • Enables high quality, mature eggs ready to be fertilized.
      • Zinc deficiency can cause miscarriage, imbalanced hormones, irregular periods, and ovarian issues.
    • For men
      • Helps develop high quality, mature sperm and a higher quantity, making it easier to fertilize the egg.
      • Zinc deficiency can cause low sperm count, chromosomal defects (due to the low quality of the sperm that fertilized), which can lead to miscarriage.
    • Foods that contain Zinc
      • Sunflower seeds
      • Pumpkin seeds
      • Eggs
      • Beef
      • Turkey
      • Shrimp
      • Venison
      • Whole grains
      • Dairy that contains whole fat
  • Folic Acid/Folate
    • 400 micrograms daily at least one month before becoming pregnant
    • 600 micrograms daily while pregnant
    • Taking a supplement containing folic acid can help assure you consume enough.
    • When taken before pregnancy and during pregnancy folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects. Just by taking the recommended dose of folic acid prior to conceiving, you can decrease the chances of an NTD in from 4.8 in 1000 babies to 1 in 1000 babies, according to the Center for Disease Control.
  • Iron
    • 27mg daily for Pregnant women, half of that dose for a non-pregnant woman.
    • Iron is used by your body to make a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your organs and tissues. During pregnancy, your body needs extra iron to make more blood to supply oxygen to the baby.
    • Research shows only one in five fertile women starts her pregnancy with adequate iron levels.
    • A study on how Iron affects infertility shows that women who consumed iron supplements had a significantly lower risk of ovulatory infertility than women who did not use iron supplements.
    • Taking a prenatal vitamin supplies you with adequate Iron but you can also get Iron from certain foods including…
      • Lean red meat
      • Poultry
      • Fish
      • Dried beans
      • Peas
      • Iron fortified cereals
    • Iron rich foods are also more easily absorbed if ate with Vitamin C rich foods like…
      • Citrus fruits
      • Tomatoes 

4. Ditch the Toxic Products.

  • Scientific evidence accumulated over the last 15 years have shown that exposure to toxic chemicals before conception and during pregnancy can have significant and long-lasting effects on reproductive health, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
  • This research, along with the Environmental Working Group’s research, has determined that reproductive health problems linked to toxic chemicals in cosmetics and other personal care products include…
    • Infertility
    • Low birth weight
    • Preterm birth
    • Cancers
    • Birth defects
  • These toxic chemicals are not regulated and continue to be used in common household products and beauty products.
  • These toxic chemicals include but not limited to…
    • Pesticides
    • Synthetic fragrance
    • Phthalates- a family of toxic chemicals that have been linked to allergies and asthma, infertility, reduced testosterone concentrations, and abnormal development of reproductive system in baby boys.
    • Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen
    • Mercury- which can lead to kidney and nervous system damage
    • Lead- a known neurotoxin
    • Asbestos- a carcinogen
    • Isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben- research shows parabens can be linked to breast cancer and disruption to the endocrine system.
    • Toluene- toxic to the brain and nervous system
    • Triclosan- affects the thyroid
  • Do your own research and be your own advocate. Take action and replace your household cleaners and beauty products with more natural products. Research companies and take labels that claim they are “natural” or “organic” as face value because they are not regulated by the fda, so these companies are not required to show all ingredients or disclose what is really in the product.
  • Download the Think Dirty App to help you find out where your favorite products rank on a toxicity scale!

5. Start Exercising if you don’t already.

  • Exercise has so many health benefits so you can’t go wrong with starting a new exercise routine to incorporate in your Pre-Pregnancy health regimen that continues during pregnancy.
  • Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery, according to the ACOG.
  • Regular exercise during pregnancy benefits you and your baby in many ways including…
    • Reduces back pain
    • Helps digestion
    • May decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery
    • Promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy
    • Improves your overall fitness and strengthens your heart and blood vessels
    • Helps with endurance and strength to endure child birth
    • Helps you to lose the baby weight after baby is born
  • Exercise Guidelines for Pregnant Women- “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. An aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body (like those in the legs and arms) in a rhythmic way. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. You still can talk normally, but you cannot sing. If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and gradually increase your activity. Begin with as little as 5 minutes a day. Add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day.
  • If you were very active before pregnancy, you can keep doing the same workouts with your health care professional’s approval. However, if you start to lose weight, you may need to increase the number of calories that you eat.” https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy
  • Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity include brisk walking and general gardening (raking, weeding, or digging). You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts on 5 days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout each day.

6. Have fun!

Trying to conceive can be stressful and disappointing for so many, do your best to eliminate stress, become your best, balanced self and rely on your health care provider for any questions or concerns! Best wishes on your TTC Journey!

Sources:

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Good-Health-Before-Pregnancy-Prepregnancy-Care

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140529092816.htm

https://www.conceiveeasy.com/get-pregnant/zinc-and-your-fertility/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10559448

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/3150/pre-conception-and-early-pregnancy-iron-deficiency-harms-brain.aspx

https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2006&issue=11000&article=00015&type=fulltext

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Nutrition-During-Pregnancy#iron

https://www.ewg.org/research/exposing-cosmetics-cover/toxic-chemicals-threaten-healthy-births

https://www.ewg.org/californiacosmetics/toxic20

https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2015/11/common-preservative-in-personal-care-products-linked-breast-cancer

https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2008/12/phthalates-phthalates-everywhere

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy

Chemicals in Makeup: Controversial Chemicals, Popular Alternatives, and How to Learn What You’re Putting on Your Face

Self Care

Spirituality, Yoga, and Meditation for Beginners

Spirituality and religion get misinterpreted often when it comes to yoga. I personally have heard a lot misinterpreted information when it comes to this subject. You don’t have to be a certain faith or religion to practice yoga. Yoga is not affiliated with any organized religion. It’s the spirituality that yoga offers that makes yoga special. Spirituality is personal for each individual, but it is what makes us feel whole and complete. Spirituality is connecting with your authentic self and/or higher power. Our spirit is the foundation of everything we do, it is our moral compass and driving force in life. Yoga is not a specific religion but with pranayama (breath work), asanas (poses), and meditation, it is great at aligning each being with their source, whatever that may be. Yoga challenges us to sit in silence with ourselves and be accepting of who we are and where we are in life. It challenges us to release the past, be present, and be worry free of the future. This self-awareness has a profound effect on how we live our lives. The better self-awareness we have the better we make decisions for our greater good. The more consistency you have with yoga, the more access you gain to self-awareness and self-alignment. This is how showing up to the mat, can little by little, change your life.

The word yoga means “union” or “unite”. You can define what that means to you because that could mean something a little different person to person. For me, I believe it is the act of uniting our true authentic self with the mask we try hard to keep on. It is the union of our authentic self with our higher power. It is the union of our authentic self with our physical self. This trinity of wholeness between the mind, body and soul is something we all try to align with whether we are actively trying to or not. That place where we stop resisting that alignment is the place where your life begins.

Silencing your mind and sitting alone with yourself can be challenging. We live in a busy, fast world where we prioritize everything else before ourselves. We need yoga more now in this life than ever. A diligent yoga practice can bring up the not so pretty moments in your life that need healing, the things we distract ourselves from thinking about. But this is where true healing can begin. Bringing these issues up, feeling them and releasing them is how we stay present, balanced and blissful. Yoga empowers us to be strong and trusting of ourselves and to go with the flow of life. I believe yoga is one of the most underused life management tools and not to mention you only need yourself to start.

HOW TO SILENCE YOUR MIND: MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS

            If you are unsure of where to start, a good place is allotting just a couple of minutes to meditation daily and working on adding time as you go. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to focus and silence the noise. There are many types of meditations that you can explore that include concentration meditation, mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, and imagery meditation. There are meditations for everyone. This meditation exercise a good place to start if you have never had experience meditating. This is something you can practice anywhere, anytime.

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Bring your attention to your natural breath and how your body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. If your mind wanders or thoughts start taking over, return your focus back to your breath.
  • Maintain this for 2-3 minutes to start and then add time the more you meditate.

After a few sessions of this, start practicing deeper, more controlled belly breaths.

  • Inhaling into your belly, filling up your belly, then chest at a count of 4
  • Exhaling, emptying your belly, then chest at a count of 4.
  • Focusing on breaths. Imagining inhaling positive energy and exhaling anything that no longer serves you or any thoughts you need to rid your mind of.
  • Repeating this during your meditation practice.

No matter the active practice, I hope you are able to challenge your own self-awareness and deepen your personal spirituality by embracing your own unique practice in this world full of unknowns and challenging situations. Don’t focus on healing the world, focus on healing yourself. If every person heals themselves, how different the world might look.

Self Care

What is the Balancebuilding® Philosophy?

Balance can seem like something that is easily achieved, but it is actually something that so many people struggle to find. Struggling with balance is something, I have found, that no one really talks about. Society has placed this stigma that if you aren’t balanced, happy, aesthetically pleasing and centered at all times, then you are weak or a failure. I can assure you that everyone struggles at some point in their life with imbalance in some aspect. And that is where the Balancebuilding Philosophy was created.

The Balancebuilding Philosophy is living in a way to bring balance to all aspects of your life; mentally, physically and soulfully. There are a multitude of tools that comes with this philosophy to help in achieving this. Balancebuilding is the act of working on your personal mind, body and soul goals to achieve a life of overall wellness. Just as, let’s say, bodybuilding, it’s challenging and takes dedication, consistency, persistence and time. Balancebuilding is the same, but it takes into consideration the other pieces that need added to the foundation to be able to sustain and maintain the physical aspect of it. Everyone has a situation or certain circumstances in their life and your ratio of what balance looks like differs from the person sitting next to you. Our lives are ever changing and so does our Balancebuilding journeys. Instead of feeling guilt and shame for things we can not change we simply shift how we approach our journey.

I wear many hats including writer, Holistic Life Coach, Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Yoga Teacher and Mompreneur, but my main focus is collaborating all of these hats to bring the Balancebuilding Philosophy to everyone’s way of living. I am on a mission to get the tools out to others, to empower them to achieve their goals physically, while nurturing their mind and soul, working in while working out. I created the Balancebuilding Philosophy after going on my own journey to finding balance, recovering from the physical and mental extremes from competitive bodybuilding, going from a bodybuilder to a balancebuilder. The Balancebuilding Philosophy helps alleviate the dieting mentality, by combining information and tools to help others achieve complete synchronicity between the mind, body and soul, for a lifetime.

Message me for more information on how the Balancebuilding Philosophy can help you achieve your goals! I want to help you become a better balanced self!

 

Exercise, Mom Wellness, Nutrition, Self Care, Women's Health

5 Steps I took to go from an Extreme Mindset to Blissfully Balanced

My whole life I have been an extreme, self-competitive, driven, determined, structured, type A individual who can get deep into something I put my heart into. This is great for accomplishing things and with being a former national level figure competitor in bodybuilding, this was great for succeeding in the sport but I didn’t realize I had a lot of healing to do and competing only pushed me further away from myself. Bodybuilding is not to blame, I still love following the sport and love seeing my friends achieve their personal goals with it. I believe that determined mindset is also why I did so well. When I did well and kept improving each show, I was rewarded with my own competitive stage goals, that made me love the stage even more, creating a vicious cycle and an unrealistic expectation of myself in the “off season”. Being so lean on stage created a sense that when not competing and wanting results I felt like…

“I have to do hours of cardio”

“I have to eat the same foods and restrict calories to the extreme.”

“I have to be a slave to the gym.”

This mentality also cycled into…

Binge eating

Insatiable cravings

Fatigue

Feeling like a prisoner to food

Insecurities

Never feeling good enough

Hormonal imbalances

You don’t have to compete to know this cycle. I do believe there are many competitors and non-competitors who have the same mindset and suffer mentally, physically and emotionally from the years of an extreme mindset that causes a multitude of issues that affect wellness. There are so many people feeling this way, but it isn’t talked about because so many do not want to appear “weak”. What I didn’t realize during this rabbit hole I was in, was that these qualities were reactions of feeling out of control of my life, imbalanced, insecurities, past emotional issues and not truly loving myself. That is not weak, that is a serious issue that needs addressed. I hope by speaking about my own journey, it will encourage others silently dealing with the same feelings, to help themselves out of this situation.

I have friends who are competitors and non-competitors who understand this mental state, who have asked me “how did you change that extreme mindset and heal yourself from it because I don’t know how to change?” Everyone’s situation is different and healing looks different for everyone, but these are the first steps I took that started my journey of healing myself.

  1. I started making decisions for my wellbeing.

These decisions look differently for everyone, but I would challenge you to ask yourself, “what is holding me back from being my best self? What is it that is bringing me down?”. After some big realizations, I decided to quit competing and left a toxic relationship. These two decisions were the very first steps to improving my overall wellness and honestly were necessary to my health. My body was so exhausted and needed time to heal from the hormonal damage of extreme dieting for so long. I knew I needed to make decisions that put me in a less anxious, less volatile environment. I needed to focus on me and my mental, physical and emotional well-being.

  1. I hired a coach I trusted.

I hired a coach who helped me come up with a meal and cardio plan. I know what you’re thinking, “How could this be helpful, wouldn’t this put you back into the same situation?” No, this was necessary because if I made my own plan at that time, I would have made things worse. I needed someone to get me started in the right direction and someone that was knowledgeable and knew what they were doing. I was eating the right macros for my body, I was feeling full, I liked the food I was eating and also felt like I had someone who cared about the state of my body, mentally and physically. This helped me get to a point that I could rely on myself and my own awareness which is something I could never do before.

  1. I started listening to my body.

Being on a wholesome, balanced plan sparked enough confidence to start listening to my body, paying attention to my needs and truly taking care of myself. We know our bodies better than anyone but a lot of times we ignore important signs and wait until it’s out of hand. We can prevent a lot of issues just by living more intuitively, quieting the outside noises and extrinsic pressures, and really being real with ourselves.

  1. I started exercising for enjoyment.

I stopped exercising for a competition and started training for fun. I stopped punishing my body with exercise and instead rewarded it with exercise. That was a part of breaking that obsessive habit of only training the way I needed to for the stage and to please judges. I focused on what I liked to do and what made me keep going back. Exploring different kinds of exercise empowered me to break free of the obsessive-compulsive part of my mentality, while maintaining the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

  1. I stopped comparing myself to others.

There is nothing wrong in wanting to improve things about yourself while loving yourself and the process. It becomes negative and the opposite of loving yourself when you compare yourself to others. This is so crucial in our world of social media. Social media is a highlight reel of someone’s life, so you can’t compare your challenges to their best. There is so much behind the scenes that we don’t see and who knows where they are in their journey of life. No one is you and that is a beautiful thing to celebrate.

Healing and changing the way you think is challenging but staying in a toxic mindset is even harder. Time will pass anyway so always prioritize your own happiness and see what unfolds. These 5 steps that started my own journey to a healthy and happy mindset inspired many positive things in my life. I married someone who brings even more joy to my life, I got certified in personal training, fitness nutrition, and Holistic Life Coaching, created The Balancebuilding Philosophy based on my own personal journey, that has helped so many struggling individuals become blissfully balanced as well and most of all I have found my own internal peace and love for myself. If you are someone who struggles with finding a balance with personal goals, health, wellness, loved ones, and/or life in general, start with step one, be real with yourself, and start making decisions to better your well-being. Positive decisions create positive outcomes.

Peace, Love, and Positivity,

Brandi

Balance, Self Care

Hello, meet Ego.

Hi, I’m Ego and I am here to wreck your dreams.

Well, I, personally am not Ego, but we all have one!

Ask yourself…

Is your Ego blocking you from achieving your dreams?

What is the one thing you would do if that negative voice in your head stopped talking?

That negative voice actually has a name, meet your Ego! Your Ego could be holding you back from losing the weight and finally keeping it off, from finding your purpose in life, from freeing yourself of past traumas, from truly feeling happy, the list could go on!

We all have an ego, and most people associate ego with over confidence and arrogance. Ego can definitely be that but it is also the loud, obnoxious voice in your head giving you doubts about yourself, comparing yourself to others, pushing major insecurities and leading you down a path that is not true to your self. Ego causes self-limiting beliefs that can hold you back from achieving your goals and some of your biggest dreams. Ego heightens any fear or anxiety you have causing a false perception of the future. Ego just waits around for the perfect opportunity to talk yourself out of the things your soul yearns for. Just think of it this way, no one likes to hang around “negative Nancy”, so why would you let “negative Nancy” control your every move?!

Your soul is the exact opposite of your ego. Your soul is your true self, the self that is confident, authentic, a bright light that is ready to radiate from your body. A lot of people never let their soul shine because their Ego is too loud, masking their highest potential. Your soul is your gut feelings that you knew you should have listened to the first time around, it is peaceful and loving, warm and inviting, literally your own built in cheerleader! Your soul is what is connected to the divine, higher powers above and was given to you to lead you on your path step by step.

Unfortunately, so many of us, including myself, struggle with quieting the ego enough to listen to our soul. It is even more prevalent now with social media basically screaming ego each scroll you take. But there are tools that you can do to quiet your ego.

  • Meditation– Meditation is a practice that can help you focus on accessing your inner peace. It can train your brain to silence out those loud negative voices. It can be tough when starting meditation but it is like exercise, start in small increments and work your way up in time. You will start to really get know your soul by quieting the noise.
  • Mindfulness– Just being aware of your present moment and being mindful of everything will help you be clear of every decision you are making. Being mindful can help that inner voice be heard clearer.
  • Journal– Journaling your thoughts day to day is a good way to get out what you are feeling. Putting the good and the bad on paper and leaving it there can help to get any pent up emotions out of your body. When we build up anger, anxiety or sadness, the ego feeds off of that and can bring out false perceptions of people, situations or even yourself.
  • Turn negative into a positive– When you catch yourself being negative, immediately turn that into a positive. For example, if you catch yourself feeling like you aren’t good enough, think of at least one thing that you love about yourself. Eventually you will train your mind to just go to the positive.
  • Do more of what lights you up– Really think hard about what you love and do more of it! Ask yourself if there is something you can’t go a day without thinking about that makes you smile. That thing that makes you smile and you think about often could be the thing that pushes you to your inner peace and bliss.

These simple and effective steps could be the one thing that is standing in your way to achieving your dreams. These are all things you can do at your freedom with yourself, for yourself. Turn down the volume on your ego and let your soul shine!