The chronic disorder I need to learn to live with

Anyone who knows me knows that for the last 10 months, I have been on a mission to find out why I am still suffering from excessive swelling in my lower legs after my pregnancy. Towards the end of carrying Cassidy, I started to notice severe swelling in my lower legs. Everyone boiled it down to water retention because it happened to me a few years ago. But after giving birth, it wasn’t going away.

I suspected that this was not water retention. Surely that would come to an end by now? I visited doctors, wore strange suits to promote lymph drainage, went for sauna sessions, saw physiotherapists and trained as much as I could, all in the hopes that it would go down. I even allowed a doctor to talk to me about liposuction! I was actually at my wits end. Not only was the swelling painful and sore if I stood or walked for too long, it wasn’t very nice to look at. My lower legs had lost its shape entirely and I felt so disproportioned. Because of training, my thighs and butt were toning up slowly but surely, yet nothing was happening from the knees down. I felt ugly, I felt big, I felt unattractive and incredibly unappealing! I did not feel comfortable wearing shorts or short skirts and dresses. I stuck to maxi dresses and longer skirts. I’ve always preferred them but I liked the option of putting on shorts without feeling self-conscious. My skinny jeans and boots were not my friend. I could not find wide calf boots anywhere and resorted to finding a tailor to add a piece onto my boot so that I could at least purchase and wear the boot I liked. I was living this restricted and confidence sapping life and just got to a point where I was like “I need to start accepting this now.”

Chad always told me not to give up and that if I feel it is something that can be solved, I should do it. And that my health comes first. Things like this just don’t happen.

So I didn’t give up.

By sheer luck, I stumbled on an article online about swelling in the legs. And you know when one article leads you to another and then another and then a website? I started identifying with the symptoms presented to me. And I made an appointment with a clinic that specialised in what I suspected I may have to make the final diagnosis.

By the time I got there and met the lady who would check me out, I was so used to showing people the swelling that I just sat there and let her ask the questions and make the assessment. But what shocked me was that for the first time ever, I could identify with what she was saying. She was answering each and every one of my questions. She didn’t look perplexed or look at my legs like I was some kind of alien. She explained that I have a condition called lipoedema. It’s a chronic disease. In a nutshell, it is a disorder of adipose tissue and lymphatic vessel dysfunction “described as a bilateral, symmetrical, flabby swelling of the legs that arises from deposition of adipose tissue. It can occur from your hips to your ankles and even your arms. And it can affect people differently and in different stages. It’s often misdiagnosed at weight gain or water retention. For me, this was from my knees to my lower legs and was in very early stages. Small but noticeable swelling. It is hereditary and lays dormant until an imbalance stimulates it. Some call it a childhood disease that is ‘awoken’ by hormonal imbalance such as puberty, pregnancy or menopause. Mine was brought about by pregnancy. And stress. (Post Natal Depression)

Honestly, I was shocked. But Isla assured me that it was treatable. It cannot be prevented or cured, but it can be managed. And just like other chronic disorders, it is something I am going to have to treat and manage for the rest of my life. The ways in which we will manage it includes massage by Isla (until I master the technique she teaches me) which really does work! I could actually feel this flowing feeling in my body as she lightly stimulated the lymph nodes and we saw visible results testing it out. My legs looked less swollen after ten minutes of it. I would need to wear compression stockings for a while because it takes at least 3 to 4 months to re-sculpt a body part. I need to change my entire eating plan, which isn’t that bad because I have been steering clear of junk (Abs by 30 remember?), and stick to leafy greens, less sodium intake and less red meat. I need to increase my exercise regime to four days a week as a matter of priority. Low impact cardio is a must. Basically, the way that some people take medicine to get better, I have to change my lifestyle to manage this disorder.

We also called an ex-patient of hers with the same symptoms as I have. Also brought on by pregnancy. She’s been able to manage her symptoms by doing all the things I described above. I found out that should I have another baby, the hormones will bring the excessive swelling back and there is a risk that it can get worse, but it can be treated in the same way. Consistency is key.

I’m really glad that I have answers. Now I just need to make this a priority. I know what to do and I will put my health first. I am in the very early stages and I’m lucky to have picked it up because untreated, it can really get worse.

If there is anything that this has taught me, it is to trust my instincts. I listened to the doctor a long time ago, even though there was this nagging feeling in my heart. Had I listened to it, maybe it could have been treated a lot sooner. But I know now and I’m equipped in making sure that I will be here for my little family for a very long time! (Lord Willing)

Happy Tuesday xxx

CT Bloggers Meet-up

This past Saturday, I attended my very first CT Meet-up. It was an afternoon spent with awesome fellow bloggers, sipping on my new favourite wine, sharing tips and listening to some inspiring speakers.

The event was held at the very quaint Chinos Coffee House in Kenilworth. I will be honest, I was pretty nervous to attend. Many of the bloggers have been there before and I thought I’d stick out like a sore and awkward thumb. Cindy Alfino – the organiser and fellow mommy blogger – accommodated for this nervous tickle without even knowing it. On arrival, each guest was treated to a relaxing (and much needed) massage, courtesy of Rain Africa. As if that wasn’t good enough, the tables were filled with enough treats and snacks to satisfy your savoury AND sweet tooth.

Take a look at the guest list.

The talk by Abigail K was a personal highlight for me. Working in the advertising and social media industry, every tip she gave us resonated with me. I don’t think I’m mistaken when I say that she inspired every woman in that room with her passion and excitement when it came to photography. If you are thinking about hiring someone for a photo-shoot, I highly recommend Abigail!

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I’m not sharing my goody bag (sorry not sorry) but I will share some joy with you! I have an awesome R500 MooMoo Kids voucher up for grabs. They have the cutest range of goodies for babies and toddlers. I have my eye on a few things I can’t wait to buy!

All you have to do to stand a chance at winning is like their Facebook page, have a look at what would tickle your fancy and tell me what you are dying to get your hands on. You can hit me up on this post, Facebook post or privately messaging me. I’m not fussy.

So get cracking! I mean it’s A R500 VOUCHER!!

I will announce the winner next week!

The Nap Strap – product review

I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve checked the rear view mirror on long distance drives to find Miss Cassy slumped over in her car seat, fast asleep. It gives me such anxiety because I know that her tiny little neck is going to ache when she wakes up.

My solution used to be straining my arm to lift her head up – more than once during the journey. If push comes to shove, there have been instances I’ve pulled the car over to shift her. This is not ideal and not always possible especially if I am driving at night or on a road in which I can’t pull over.

When I was given the opportunity to review the nifty Nap Strap, I was ecstatic and ready to try just about anything. I love going on long Sunday drives with her and this seemed like the ideal product to help a mamma out.

I was sent the look book and had the option of choosing my colour and pattern. I opted for pink (obviously) clouds.

I was a bit hesitant at first because Cassy is not the ‘strap my head down and all will be well kind’. I don’t think any toddler is. But I found a way around that mountain. I always check Cassy’s energy levels. If I can see that she is in a ‘sing till we get to our destination’ move, then I enjoy the drive with her. But if I see that she will probably fall asleep soon, especially on a long drive, I have the strap ready and waiting above her head on the car seat. The long device can accommodate for any car seat and you choose the intensity of the hold. The material is soft to the touch and doesn’t irritate their head while sleeping.

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As soon as she falls asleep, I quickly slide the Nap Strap down and her neck is safe and secure. If I am alone in the car, I always keep an eye out for a safe destination to stop and slide it down, like a petrol station or shop parking lot.

Not once has it disturbed her sleep or irritated her. It kept her head completely secure. And if she wakes up, all she does is slide it off. No hassles.

In all honesty, I’m pretty happy with this product and I recommend this to anyone who wants to focus on getting to their destination safely, without having to worry about a slumped over sleeping child.

The nitty gritty:

The Nap Strap retails at R199 each and you can order via their website. Remember that you can choose from a selection of awesome designs!

Alternately, visit their Facebook page to find out more.

Happy Monday!

xxx

Life and beauty hacks ‘a la Mom’

Life with a baby is expensive. Life with a baby and planning a trip to the UK even more so! Life with a baby, planning a trip to the UK and wanting to look good reuniting with your man but you don’t really have the time to go for treatments and pampering sessions… Eish!!

But all is not lost. Over these last few weeks of training, eating healthy and going for my sessions at Jouvence, I’ve picked up a few tricks that will save you time and save you money. I call them “Life and Beauty Hacks a la Mom!”

Beauty Regime:

Bathing –

What I’ve found most helpful are products and tools that that have more than one purpose.  I’ve invested in a body sponge that along with my LipoSculpt detox and lymph drainage oil (for my swelling) works wonders for my body. Not only does the sponge and oil help with circulation, I use it all over my body as an exfoliation tool and add a few drops of the oil into my bath for silky smooth skin. The oil is costly but it has lasted me almost 2 months now and is only half way after using it every day! Invest! Invest! Invest!

Soft Skin –

Everyone knows that tissue oil is a great skin saver during winter. Don’t buy both products. Buy a cream that combines the two. Not only is it cost effective, but it is less time consuming to put on cream AND then put on your oil. I’m currently using Oh So Heavenly ‘Repair and Care’. My skin tends to get so dry during winter and this lasts me throughout the day. After I bath I put the cream on and wear thick socks immediately after. It retains the moisture and I’m left with silky feet. It’s seriously that easy. Paying for a pedicure for what?

Face Care –

Between the lack of sleep, the crappy weather and stress, this is not the best time for my skin. I have NO chance to recover or allow it to recuperate with sleep. I’ve always been a fan of anything Rooibos or Green Tea based. The anti oxidants work wonders for your skin. But seriously though, have you seen the prices of some of these products?

I have a little secret to calm my skin and exfoliate it when I feel stressed and my poor skin is suffering. I actually take Rooibos or Green Tea bags, break it open after washing my face and spread the granules over my skin. It makes an amazing exfoliator. Leave it on your face for a while and allow your skin to absorb the antioxidants. Rinse off and enjoy super soft skin.

If you’d like to go a step further and toner is your thing, you can buy some distilled water or boil the water and pop a Green Tea bag in it. Once it is cooled, put it in a spritz bottle and use it as a toner. Natural and cost effective!

Wraps –

I’m sure you have heard about detox and slimming wraps? And if you have investigated, you’d know how expensive it is. I went for a wrap to see what the hype was about but let’s face it; I just don’t have the time to make it a consistent thing. ! I purchased the LipoSculpt  Thermo gel (It’s also quite pricey – R400 – but it has lasted as long as the detox oil) at the salon and besides the recommended way of using it, I decided to try out other avenues. Here is what I do. I use the body sponge and Thermo Gel after I bath and wrap my stomach with cling wrap. I use my waist belt that I bought just after I gave birth to make it extra tight. Leave it on for about an hour – if you can handle the heat by all means leave it on for a bit more. You can even use it when you train. It makes you sweat even more and helps with those baby bulge centimetres. (Abs by 30 remember?!)

Make-up:

Primer –

I really do not have time for more than the basics on a daily basis. But since I’ve started working on Rimmel as a client, they really have won me over and I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a little and finding that it isn’t taking up much of my time!

I’ve never cared about primer. I just slapped on my tinted moisturizer, concealer and pressed powder and went on my merry way. Until I discovered Rimmel’s Fix and Protect Make-Up Primer. Ermahgerd. I can literally feel my pores close before I use my make-up. It’s wonderfully smooth and sets your make-up. That means less touch ups for me during the day which is fantastic because who has time for that? You don’t need much do I think it’s a pretty great investment. (Only R99,95)

Your gut:

Detox daily –

Your gut is so damn important! I’ve started to become more aware of what I put in it. I’ve spoken about a particular detox/fat burner drink before but it’s too good NOT to mention again! Simply add 1 lemon, an inch of grated ginger, 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper and honey to taste to cooled down boiled water. I haven’t felt bloated or gross in a very long time thanks to a glass in the morning and evening.

Currently, I have a bottle on my desk with extra cayenne pepper and ginger to combat any germs lurking around at the office.

Fresh pressed juice –

Don’t waste your money on fruit juice blends or expensive detox juice packages. Make your own. This takes a bit of time yes, but if you do it all in one go and freeze it, you save time and money!

My favourite juice recipes at the moment are:

Carrot, lemon, apple and grapefruit (Helps with cellulite)

Orange, apple and ginger (Immune booster)

Carrot, apple and orange (The only one Chad will drink)

Spinach, celery, cucumber, apple, orange (How I trick Cassy into eating spinach)

In summer, I pour my leftover juice into popsicle moulds. It’s a fun way to make sure we are still healthy.

I’m sure that there are SO MANY other hacks out there and I’d love to hear about them:)

Sharing is caring! xxx

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I have a confession…

As you know, Chad is doing his thing in the land of Shakespeare and I am kicking it with the little diva. I’ve done it before, this isn’t the first time I am holding the fort while he is overseas, but I truly think (AND THIS IS HARD AF FOR ME TO ADMIT) that I am losing it a little. It’s bloody exhausting this time round. And it took me a while to realise why and actually accept it.

I feel the need to first state that that little princess brings me the most joy. Before I list the string of factors that are making me want to crawl into a hole, I need to start with the good stuff. I LOVE that she can tell me exactly what she wants. I LOVE that I get to watch her grow up and experience the little things with her every day. I know it pains Chad to miss it. I love the bond that we are deepening – where no matter who is around, when I’m there, it’s Mommy. That feeling of want and belonging that I have craved my entire life is freely given to me by this tiny human. I LOVE the fact that I am given an opportunity to kick ass and remind myself that I can do it all. Its exhausting yes, but not everyone can juggle and still have a smile on their face. It’s a smile she gives me.

Now let’s get to why I am losing it.

1 – As much as I love hearing her call “Mommy”, she loves it too. So each time she calls, it’s a game of back and forth “Mommy” “Yes Cassy” “Mommy” “Yes Cassy”… You get the picture. And sometimes at the end of it, there was no point. Lol.

2 – The amount of things I have to lug back and forth has strengthened my arms like a Mo Fo but it takes forever to get to the car and back upstairs. And bless her soul she always wants to help, and then it takes another 25,000 years because I will never exceed her pace. Ever. That’s just mean.

3 – I miss sleep. Glorious sleep. It’s up extra early to get her done to go to my grandparents and then get done and go to work. And then in the evening after fetching her and getting home, it’s playtime, prepping for the evening as well as the next day and then cuddles and off to bed. I kid you not, last week I dropped her off and left with her bags. And this morning I put her slippers on the wrong feet. These are NOT mistakes I usually make and I beat myself up about it because I should be better. I know it sounds absolutely silly and you are probably rolling your eyes, but right now, the only way that I can juggle a full work day and life a la Cass, is if I can keep a clear head and get the basics right. And shoes are a basic! My Ma laughed and told me I need more sleep but if that is the only solution, I am screwed lol.

4- I’m always late and always tired. Unfortunately, I have come to accept the fact that I am not on my own time. I have another human being to look after and take care of sometimes before I can sort myself out. And in order to ensure that I don’t burn out, I pace myself to make sure that everything is done. So yes, this means that I may be a bit late to functions (especially if I factor in the 25,000 years if Cass wants to help me) and sometimes if it’s at night, I may come without Cass because it’s easier to have her stick to her bed time schedule. Especially while Chad is away and it’s not a family event. Yeah, this means I deal with the ridic “Where is Cassy?” and the “Why didn’t you bring her? I wanted to play!” questions from 10,000 people but seriously though… Unless you’d like me to sit in a corner with a sleeping toddler all night? Or have her get sick bringing her far out in the cold late at night. In winter. I mean come on guys.

5 – I miss Cassy. I have to admit that I am so jealous of the time my family spends with Cassy during the week. My heart aches when my cousins pop in and send me photos. I wish that I could spend that much time with her without it affecting the career I am building. Yes, I miss this loud, busy, incredibly active and inquisitive human who keeps me out of sleep and keeps me on my toes. Yes, I am losing my mind because of how seldom I get a day of rest – but yes, I miss her. I love every moment spent with her even if it means there are deep circles or I have dirty hair.

Being a mom has got to be one of the biggest life lessons on this planet. You have to humble yourself and realise that life will never be the same. And only the strong loyal ones around you continue the journey with you. And I feel incredibly blessed to have Chad and my girlfriends and family. Because they get it. They got it even before I did. They were always the ones reminding me not to beat myself up and advising about handling this the way I needed to. Even the ones that weren’t parents. I’ve realised that the good ones just need to know YOU and advise you accordingly. And even more so, the Grace of God has helped me hold my head high. Everyone asks me how I manage to do everything. The truth is I am winging it and leaning on His Strength each and every day!!

It was incredibly hard for me to admit that I’ve knuckled under the strain these last few weeks. It even took a while to admit it to Chad. I didn’t want him to think less of me or that I wasn’t equipped to deal with holding the fort or even his busy lifestyle as a cricketer. But it’s about time I cut myself some damn slack and see myself in the same way the people around me do. As a kick ass mom!

I just wouldn’t mind a nap now and again😉

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“Oh they look just like…”

I’m going to go ahead and say what you shouldn’t say. I tend to do that a lot…

I have a few girlfriends who, like me, have had children with guys who have very strong gene pools. I laugh about it, but let’s be honest… How many times does it irk you to have gone through 9 months of pregnancy, not being able to do the things you used to, body changing, hormone roller-coaster drama to have your bundle of joy look exactly like their father?!! Like exactly. Featuring 0.1% you. The universe must be having a fat laugh.

I remember being in the shop with Chad, buying some goodies to go on a picnic. Cassy was about 2 weeks old and it was a beautiful day. It was her first outing to the park. I was pretty excited to spend the day with the two of them. We got to the till and the lady was so taken by Cass. She looked at Chad and smiled and said “What a beautiful daughter you have.” She then looked at me and asked “Who is the mother? Are you?”

Wow.

Let’s say I was a balloon, freshly blown up. Dazzling and ready to take on the world. Pop that balloon…. Now that was me. Lol. Chad saw my face and quickly picked up the grocery bags to get out of there. Bless him.

Now I am beyond grateful that our princess is a happy, healthy little girl with the most amazing life. And let’s be real, I think her father is the hotness monster. (He hates this term, but I’m sticking to it). So obviously I have absolutely no qualms with her being as utterly gorgeous as her dad.  But it still stings a little. I want to feature too.

But thank you time and thank you fate. I’m featuring as she’s gotten older! Yeah I laugh when my family tell me that her personality is identical to my dad and I but I’m glad I don’t get the questioning “Are you her mom?” eyes anymore.

“Don’t mind me guys. I’m just walking around with and feeding a kid that isn’t mine!” Awks.

I was chatting to the above mentioned girlfriends and we had a fat laugh about it. The dads tease us mercilessly because it’s not really a big deal. We did come to one conclusion though: Don’t sit in the company of a mom and tell her that her kid could be someone else’s kid. That’s just not cool. And even the easiest going moms could feel a bit cringe. Read your audience.

There I said it.

Have the best Monday ya’ll!

xoxo

Abs by 30!

You survive 9 months of carrying an actual human in your stomach, you give birth and boom… Your body bounces back to normal… NOT!! Unless you are the very lucky few, it’s more like bounces in the most embarrassing places.

Cassy is almost a year and a half and I put so much pressure on myself to look as skinny as I did before I fell pregnant. To hide the stretch marks on my sides that developed after I gave birth. To not want to look in the damn mirror and frankly (deep down) hate on anyone who could pull off the crop top. I used to get so mad at the fact that I couldn’t train as much as I’d want to because I have to take care of my princess. That my time just wasn’t my own. This is not okay on so many levels. What made it worse for me  was that I developed a condition that my doctors are still looking into with the swelling of my legs from my knees to my ankle that still remained after I gave birth. I find that if I stand too long or if I walk too much it gets really heavy and painful. I never wanted to wear short dresses or skirts until something could be done about it.

I’m sure you can recall the Jouvence salon I mentioned in my previous post. Until something can be done about the cause of the swelling, their amazing sauna treatment is helping to alleviate the heaviness and ache in a big way. This  isn’t the only thing it is good for though. Not only does it eliminate toxins and ease achy muscles, the sauna treatments help reduce centimetres because you are literally sweating your life away. If you pair this with another one of their treatments, the lipo laser, great things can happen:)

This leads me to my very presumptuous but very attainable (I feel) goal this year. ABS BY 30. (I turn 30 in October). After chatting with Sharon, the owner, I shared my goals and commitment to reaching them by means of training with the legendary Gareth Sangster and a good eating plan. And actually sticking to it! I’ve paired up with three of my friends and we will be each other’s support structure throughout the entire thing! I’m anticipating very sore muscles but it’s all worth it, isn’t it?:)

Something quite exciting came my conversation with Sharon. She wanted the salon to be apart of my journey and if I was okay with it, document it through my personal blog posts and blog posts that I would write for them. I’d have both the lipo laser treatment as well as the sauna, which when paired with a good exercise routine and eating plan, helps you reach your goals more effectively. How flipping exciting!!

And I am all about sharing! We will be giving away a free session for you to enjoy at your convenience. This includes a consultation with Sharon in which you discuss your goals going forward. Make sure that you keep an eye out for my Facebook post and blog post and be sure to follow my journey on Instagram (lisa_bartlett410) and Snapchat (lisa_bartlett4).

I’m really excited about this journey, but mainly because I am doing it for ME. Not society, not unrealistic expectations, not even Chad. One hundred percent for me and what I would like going forward. I am over comparing my journey to another, because an Instagram post doesn’t show the struggle.

Here’s to being our own sort of beautiful!!:)

xxxx