women's health

When you Just Can't.

When was the last time you threw in the towel and said, "I Just CAN'T anymore"?

I can't do my workout today...my body is too tired/painful/beat up.
I can't even begin to think about what to cook for dinner...I'm so sick of it all.
I can't imagine having the time to do what I really want to do...there's always so much on my plate.

Well, there's a time to be a hero and push yourself to get off your tush and keep pushing.

Then there's a time to listen to your body and actually do what it is telling you to do. 

I've helped my clients to listen more, and you can learn too.

This may sound foreign to some of you, but your body is a well-spring of amazing information when you tune into it.

I have been reading Amy Myers book the Auto-Immune Protocol this summer and she reminded me of just how incredible the communication systems in our bodies really are.

For instance, when you eat you send a signal that tells certain hormones like insulin to be released to help direct your food where it needs to go.  You also set off triggers for your immune system in your body when foreign invaders sneak in.  Too much of the wrong foods can even send your immune system into a frenzy when your body identifies the food as a foreign object.  When you are over-tired your body tells your adrenals to work overtime to pump you up with cortisol and epinephrin.

These days I witness the miracle of the communication system in my body multiple times a day when breastfeeding.  Literally all I have to do is take 3 deep calming breaths, close my eyes, imagine a water fall and my milk lets down.  This is so crazy cool.

What I've learned is that it is best not to mess with your body's wisdom and to LISTEN.

Our problem is we get too caught up in expectations, should's, and ought to's- especially when it comes to exercise.

So how do you know what to do when you are on the fence about exercise?

Of course there are those days when you don't feel like working out, but in the end you know movement would help. 

How can you discern what to do to honor your body and still get in some soul sweat?

I developed a simple questionnaire you can use, particularly if you struggle with chronic illness, fatigue, or auto-immune issues.  And it's exactly what I use to hep my clients with their discernment too.

Movement might be the furthest thing from you mind, but as I witness my husband and his journey with Hashimotos and my own history with depression, movement nearly always gives us back our glow when we choose things that light us up.  Movement can come in so many different forms.  Use the questionnaire to help you know what's appropriate for you today.

If you know someone with hashimotos, infertility, lupus, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or other chronic illness...especially if their heart is to become a better mother, please forward this message to them.  I love serving wannabe moms and moms who are struggling to help them overcome the overwhelm and gain strength and soul through their journey.  

Wishing you holy, healthy, healing,

Nicole

P.S. I am about to launch my online Strength and Soul program and I cannot wait to reveal how this program will give moms in the making hope, strength, and stamina to help them be the mom they dream of rather than feeling tired, neglected, and overwhelmed.  Stay tuned!

How to work out your regrets

Holding on to regrets is like wearing a noose around your neck. 

In my last blog I let you all in on our family's pursuit of healing for my husbands auto-immune condition.  You can read about how I have been navigating this in my last post, When Not To Run.

We found out Dan had Hashimoto's about a year after moving to Colorado.  We'd been feverishly remodeling a basement in our first home for that entire time while Dan got more and more sick.  

Late nights and too many poorly planned meals had caught up to us.  It was also during this time that we finally had to face the music that we weren't getting pregnant. 

It took us 6 years and a whole lot of heartache to get out of that house and to finally get pregnant and meet our twin boys.  While I have so much joy now...boy have I let those years torture me with regret.

Life is simply too precious to spend wallowing in what might have been and the mistakes we've made. 

However, I've been guilty of allowing far too many missed opportunities haunt me and keep me paralyzed from taking action in the present moment.   The stress that those years have caused and the lost time I often covet can only be redeemed if I let it all go.  

Letting go ain't easy either.  It takes faith that those years will have meaning beyond the pain.  That God will heal the hurts and make beauty from the ashes of my past. And sometimes the only way I can step into that faith is to move.

Working out has always been and continues to be my number one way to process my grief, regrets, and confusion about why bad things happen in life.  I ALWAYS walk away from movement feeling lighter, more engaged with what my heart really needs, and a renewed perspective of hope.

If you struggle with lingering and persistent regret and even bitterness about what you have done or what has been done to you, then you must try THIS EXERCISE.

This "keep-up" exercise can be life-changing when applied in any situation where you need to literally throw your worries, regrets, and stress behind you.

Friend, if an auto-immune issue is keeping you down or holding you back from your dreams, be sure to download my new free resource

When not to run

I have a love for running- and yet, too often in life we are running away rather than leaning in.
 
Running has taught me perseverance. It has shown me my strength. It has brought me community and given me a place for self-reflection.
 
But running has also been a scapegoat at times.  At one point in my life I ran so I wouldn’t have to face people or deal with my own heart.  Rather than feel, I ran to see if I could escape. 
 
Sometimes it feels easier to run and hide in our fears rather than face the hard stuff of life.

My husband and I have been married for over 17 years.  While we were dating we ran a lot together and I LOVED it. 
 
In 2006 my darling husband was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition.  We have had to make the choice to lean into the healthy lifestyle practices that will help him (and ultimately our family) rather than run from the daunting changes we need to make. 
 
Since then, I have learned that there are times to run, and then there are times to sit, be still, and work IN rather than workout.

Having an autoimmune condition, or caring for someone who does is confusing, unpredictable, and life-changing.  It’s taken us years to work through living with an autoimmune issue, and while we haven’t solved the entire puzzle for him yet, we have learned quite a few things.

  1. You can’t run from your body.  Your health will chase you down and force you to deal with it…or at least if you don’t you will pay the price sooner than later.

  2. You are your greatest advocate.  The explosion of autoimmune issues is not well researched yet, and western medicine does a pretty poor job of helping people find optimal solutions.  Find the resources and practitioners who will be your partners for seeking answers for you to recover health in ways you can manage.  Thankfully there are now more resources than ever to help someone struggling with an autoimmune condition, such as: Amy Myers, MDIsabella Wentz PharmD, Datis Kharrazian PhDChris Kresser MS, L.Ac. and Dr. Mark Hyman and many others.

  3. Diet, sleep, and stress management are the keys to feeling better.  And one of the best ways to deal with stress is to breathe through calming movement.  Here’s a great example for you: Breathing Squats

  4. Communication is crucial for helping your loved ones help you.  It can be easy for those around you to think you’ve hit the lazy-easy button.  In reality, if you need an extra nap, or have got to get time alone to catch up on recovery, then say so and ask for what you need.  

When it comes to your health, it’s no good to run when you are having a flare-up (both literally and figuratively).

Even more importantly, it’s no good to run from your diagnosis.  You must face your issues and take action.  Your life matters far too much, especially to your family, kids, or the children you’ll have one day to ignore your body.
 
It’s my mission to help wannabe moms or moms in action who have an auto-immune issue to restore their energy and take back their health so they can parent with all of their soul strength.
 
If you know a woman who is struggling with an autoimmune issue like hashimotos, graves, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, multiple sclerosis, etc. please forward this message to her as I would love to be a support and light of hope for those who are suffering.

Blessings and Health to you,

Nicole

Compliments and Comebacks

What do you do or say when someone says, “You look great!”?
 
It has been 10 days since delivering our fourth little angel.  It took me 9 months of enduring sleepless nights, swollen legs and varicose veins, 30+ pounds of weight gain, and of course the ever-growing belly that was always getting in the way to get this little precious being into the world.
 
But trust me, I never really ever complained.  Seeing my body evolve and grow was always a fascinating and miraculous process.
 
When I read blogs about the recovery process of having a baby, it usually focuses on all the blood loss, pain, pelvic floor re-training, etc. 
 
What I really want to read and understand is how you can go from such a bountiful baby bearing body back to nearly “normal” in six to twelve weeks.  The way I see it, I worked hard to build up that 9 month body, and then it’s gone in just a couple months?! 
 
Already I have had a few people compliment me that I am really looking great.  Which is such a nice thing to say.  And I am sensitive to the fact that many new moms long to hear those very words. 

The funny thing about compliments is you never know what is going on the inside of the person you are speaking to. 
 
When I hear those words I want to cry- because it means my baby body is shedding away, and will likely never be again.  I do my best to enjoy the process of all of the change, and yet, there's a part of me that yearns to keep some of the curves, the baby belly, and the cushiony embrace my little one meets when he greets me now.
 
Which is a strange thing to hear from the fitness expert, right? 
 
Here’s the thing, compliments about a woman’s body are so complicated.  Perhaps one of the best things you can do is encourage a woman in whatever space she is in that she has a glow that cannot be undone by her size, shape, or circumstance.
 

A woman’s body is a divine wonder that brings light and life into the world.  Period.
 
And now, let’s talk about comebacks.  We all have times when life knocks us off our little path and forces us to hit the reset button. 
 
It has sort of been my rule of thumb to take it as easy as possible for the first 2 weeks after delivery.  As of this weekend we will be reaching the 2 week mark and here is my list of the first things I long to do for my comeback post-delivery:

  1. Go for a walk while wearing Nolan (I am a huge baby wearing fan)
  2. Work slowly up to 100 kegels a day (for the dudes reading this, those kegels are really good for your body too)
  3. Keep writing. 

Thank you to all of you who read these posts and for those who have reached out to encourage me.  You are part of my extended family and I love that you can find something that speaks to you through these words.  It means so much to me when I hear from you about what has created meaning for you.  Be sure to write me with your own “Comeback” list from wherever you are starting today!

Blessings and Health to you,

Nicole

Overcome a negative funk with movement

Overcome a negative funk with movement

When life gives you lemons, how do you make lemonade?  Self-compassion and movement.  Nicole shares her story at 27 weeks pregnancy and how she overcomes her negative funk.  Learn simple tips for self-compassion and how to get moving toward feeling stronger and more supported in your body and health.

What you do means more than you think

I was asked a week ago, "Nicole, what were you put on this planet to do?"  As an entrepreneur, this question is on my mind all of the time.  It isn't easy mothering a business (or two), and it is even harder when you have a couple of twins running around who are a big distraction!  But when I am asked this sort of deep deep question, I have to pause and consider that I've made some pretty significant decisions based on the answer. "Why am I here", of course begins with me wanting to be a devoted lover (and biggest supporter) of my husband, kids, family, and friends.  One of the major decisions I made outside of my personal life, though, was a very conscious choice to help all women and girls KNOW that they are valuable and beautiful. And I can speak for Erica when I say that she, too, has a deep passion to start a revolution that supports a tidal wave of positive body image to well up in the women of our world.

What drives our purpose and our decision to keep going is that we know that when women and girls don't have a foundation of love for themselves and their bodies, they can lose a lot of precious time and energy.  Negative self-talk can isolate women and girls from having authentic and meaningful relationships and careers, and poor boundaries can cause women and girls to extend themselves beyond human capacity.

It might be easy to brush it off and think, well, it's only really hurting me.  But if that is what goes on in your head, then you need to know the truth....

Everyone has at least 5 to 10 things they excel at. If you can sing, calculate odds, track bird migrations, or know which direction is north better than 100 random people or your high school class -- your gift puts you in the top 1% of the population.

When you start calculating the odds as you add in more of your gifts and talents -- your combination of 5 skills means you are one in ten Billion likely to have that combination. That is more people than are alive on the Earth today. And when you add in the other 25 + ingredients of your work potential, you get numbers that are astronomical. (from Manifest Your Potential.com)

Human DNA consists of more than 3 billion building blocks whose sequences form genes, just like letters spell a word. For any two unrelated people, these letters are 99.9 percent the same. But that leaves millions of single-letter differences, called SNPs (pronounced “snips”) that provide genetic variation between people.  To make this even more complicated, you are the result of the fusion of one particular egg with one particular sperm. Each sperm and each egg is genetically unique because of the process of meiosis. A fertile woman has 100,000 viable eggs on average. A man will produce about 12 trillion sperm over the course of his reproductive lifetime. Let's say a third of those (4 trillion) are relevant to our calculation, since the sperm created after your mom hits menopause don't count. So the probability of that one sperm with half your name on it hitting that one egg with the other half of your name on it is one in 400 quadrillion. (from huffington post)

The problem is, too many of us walk around talking poorly about ourselves and generally dismissing what a unique and amazing gift we have been given simply by being born.  The fact that we get a body for our soul to inhabit is truly a miracle.  So rather than beat ourselves up about not being good enough, or worthy of time to devote to your own well-being, or feeling like you are incapable of living up to expectations, why not start a revolution?  What you say and what you do with the time and the body you have matters, because in all of time and space, there is only one like you.  Let's start speaking to ourselves and our youth from the "I Am A Miracle" Perspective!!

Feeling like you could use some support to raise up your banner and charge ahead?  There are 2 ways to get involved:

1) Check out our Redefining Revolution at Inspired Athletic Movement: a 6 month support series dedicated to redefining how we interact with ourselves and our culture to cultivate positive body image.

2) Register to get more information about "Us Girls": A 1-day workshop for women and girls to come together to learn about loving your bodies with fun movement, a confident voice, and a centered sense of sexuality.  This workshop highlights Nicole Irlbeck, Catherine M. Houston, and Johanna Walker...3 women's health advocates who are dedicated to creating a world of where bold and authentic tweens and teens can thrive.

At the very least, give yourself a little pinch.  You are a living breathing miracle!!! You can be the example for all others to follow in how you act on your behalf to believe it with everything you do.

Fitness Beyond Definition

As many of you know, I have been an avid runner since the age of 13. In fact, I can’t remember ever feeling particularly out of shape since I first started running. So it’s not surprising that I recently told someone that I haven't been this out of shape since I was 12. After laying low to try to get pregnant, and then the restricted activity while pregnant, and then the recovery time, I have gradually turned to mush. This is a tough reality to swallow for a girl whose life work is all about healthy fitness. The bright side is that I have two beautiful and amazing little boy munchkins that are a great trade off, I get to empathize with my clients a little more, and I get to redefine what fitness means for me. Fitness and being “in shape” comes in all shapes and sizes. I have always known there were different varieties and levels of being fit because even within my own beloved sport, I was a distance girl, and didn’t train to sprint. I also played basketball, but put a softball in my hands and I was all thumbs. Which is to say, what does being in shape mean to us? Is it all about aesthetics, the ability to participate in particular sports, the way our fitness levels our stress, or how we improve our life expectancy?

Ideally, fitness is a multicolor coat that can change and evolve and become what we need it to be. In order to birth my two little boys, I needed to be fit mentally, emotionally, and to have a huge sense of calm and endurance in my body. Still, I long for that runner’s high after a long day on the path. But now that I am a mom, I am forever trying to squeeze one more minute out of my day, and one more ounce of energy to put toward my workouts. If I do get the chance to workout, it feels completely different, and it is definitely much harder than it used to be!

To keep my motivation up, I recently stumbled across some winning fitness blogs that were ranked by Fitness Magazine and its readers earlier this year. Their “Fitterati” blogger awards are broken into great categories like best healthy living blog, best running blog, or best nutrition blog. My favorite so far is MizFit and The Body of a Mother. But don’t take my word for it, check out the list and see if one of these bloggers catches your eye. Or, just keep reading here…I am passing on all I learn to you every day!