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in love with lean

godstiming

the wait. that dreaded wait.  we all wait for something at some point in our lives.  His timing is….. impeccable though. perfect. every time.  but while you’re waiting, you don’t want to hear that.  and i wanted another baby. and when a woman wants a baby,  she wants one when she wants one.

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Sonny and i prayed and believed consistently for another Egwuatu kiddo. we knew Chiso was only the beginning. however, after stepping off the stage last year i was head over heels for my ‘new’, lean body.  you might say, ‘but you were already lean.’ there’s a huge visual and physical difference between 21% body fat and 10%.   i was thrilled at seeing 130- anything on the scale.  i had not seen the 130’s in this decade.  ‘long & lean’ was something i had always wanted to accomplish with my body.  so once I got there, according to my standards anyway,

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i wanted to stay there. here we go again…but on a much deeper level this round.

<<rewind<<

my menstrual cycle has always been flaky. it has always done its own thing since it finally popped up at age 16. late bloomer right here. from then on, Irregular City…which was prolly due to my active sports life.

i discovered my passion for group fitness and became an instructor for a few local gyms a few years after college graduation and marriage to Sonny.  i was extremely nervous just thinking about getting in front of a crowd, but the support and encouragement from friends, Sonny, and my family pushed me to just go for it.  i started with a BANG teaching 7-9 classes per week (before and after work) and local boot-camps on my own in addition to my full-time job.  then things got a little crazy with my body. i went from monstrous PMS symptoms including heavy cramping & bleeding, bloating, mood swings, swelling & breast tenderness every one or two days a month to absolutely no period and zero symptoms. nothing. when i first met Sonny in college and had an ‘episode’, he actually called 911, bless his heart.

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 it was just something i lived with, and something my family (mom, dad & brother when i lived at home) adjusted to. on the first day of every cycle, life stopped.  4 aleeve, vicodin, hot water bottles,  massive overnight – diaper sized pads, and my bed was my life for 24-48 hrs. so, this exercise thing was quite alright in my eyes. it was my saving grace.  can i tell you how happy a camper i was?  to not have to deal with any of that mess anymore was….. LIBERATING. living like a boy was fun. no tampons, pads, PMS, none of that. this went on for months…. maybe over 8 or so…unfortunately i lost count.  i later researched this to be deemed athletic amenorrhea, but back then i just referred to it as AWESOME.  when the time came for Sonny and i to really get serious about bringing some kiddos into this world, well i was not exactly in the best position to house a child.  i have never been on birth control. so after being a married woman and doing married woman things for over a year and never being  ‘surprised’ (which was fine by me) i had to really wonder what was up with me.  …or Sonny. which one of us needed to be ‘fixed’?

i learned along the way that you don’t even need to actually bleed to get pregnant…just ovulate. but bleeding helps you pinpoit when to expect to ovulate.  and hello, it just comes with the territory of being a woman!  without a cycle, i’d have to take an ovulation test, well, every single day. that got old and discouraging real fast. and obviously, not bleeding on my own meant that things just weren’t right.  Sonny wanted to expand our family from the jump, but his concern grew as time went by without a positive result.

at some point along the way Sonny did wonder what happened to my angry woman PMS symptoms and asked about them.  i explained how they simply vanished completely after i started exercising a lot…along with my period.  he stayed on me about going to the Dr., and i did. eventually.  he naturally felt irritated and annoyed with me for not taking our health seriously and waiting months to see my OB.  i put it on the back burner countless times and kept reassuring him it would come back on its own if i just exercised less and rested more.  gym members were excited about my classes and attending consistently!  slow down? i can’t now! i’m in demand!  i made so many new connections and met so many new fit friends during that time. i was simply enjoying the instructor experience and wanted nothing more than to keep it rolling.  but i also knew i wanted a baby…sooner or later.

so i prayed. then i dropped a class. and cried. and waited. and dropped another class. and cried. and waited. and dropped another class. and cried. and waited… for negative result after negative result, and no period.  after several months of this draining cycle, my OB referred me to a fertility specialist.  he prescribed me Provera which brought my cycle back the following month.

just. like. that.

i felt tons better and like a normal woman again. our strength and outlook on the whole baby-making process was renewed and TTC (fyi, that stands for trying to conceive from all the mommy-hood message boards i scoured at the time lol) became fun again, not a timed task.  but after a few more months of ovulation tests and scheduled intercourse, that stick just wouldn’t yield a positive result.  so, i had multiple tests run.  an HSG test was done to ensure my fallopian tubes weren’t blocked. what an uncomfortable day that was.  turns out they weren’t blocked though.  Sonny, on the other hand, passed all his tests with flying colors so he was eradicated immediately.  hopes were high again for the next month. negative.  i’ve never been a fan of roller coasters and wanted off this stupid ride. then the guilt set in.  i was extremely close to accepting that my negligence damaged me to the point of never being able to conceive a child.  around that time, God made two extremely special friends of mine even more prevalent in my life, just when i needed them.  they prayed for me, over me, and agreed in prayer with me that God would bless Sonny and i with a child in His time…… and under certain conditions.  i had to chill with the exercise.  i had to sacrifice the very thing i could not imagine going a day without.  i kept teaching my classes (i believe i was only doing 3 a week by that point) and did no other form of exercise outside of them except, walk. walk, walk, walk. nothing else.  this was because i would use my class as my warm up, then go do my own intense workout afterwards, every time.  even on the days i didn’t teach class, you knew where to find me.  after almost 2 months of sticking to the script, spending more time with the Lord (poof, i had a lot more spare time suddenly) exercising less, and giving my body the break it deserved, i had several friends including Sonny’s mom tell me about Clomid. i brought it up to my Specialist at my next visit.

after the very first round of Clomid (+ the self-administered Ovidrel shot, 😯 yikes), boom. our Chiso was on the way.

just. like. that.

35weeks

please read about my 1st fit preggo journey here!

>>fast forward>>

i was eager to return to my regularly scheduled workout program after giving birth….. i could not wait.  i was completely recovered (natural birth + episiotomy) after about 2.5 weeks total.

so, i loaded lil’ Chiso up into our new jogging stroller and hit the bricks! just to the mailbox and around the neighborhood though.  i was a good girl and waited the full 6 weeks to hit the gym again.  trust…Sonny made sure of it 🙄

>>fast forward>>

around Memorial day of 2012  (Chiso was almost 1-year-old), some friends of ours competed in a body building competition which intrigued me tremendously.  i’ve always wanted to be a bodybuilder!!!! always.  this only fueled my fire since it was so close to home.  Sonny has always wanted to compete, but only without the use of supplements.  more importantly to him were the new sleep apnea and blood pressure issues he faced for the 1st time in his life from the added 50lbs he put on after his college track days.  the dr. visit scare reminded him of his late father’s symptoms who passed away when he was 19,  just 1 year before we met.  not wanting to contribute to the possibility of leaving Chiso and I behind too soon, he instantly put his health in the forefront again.  anyway, i would always get crazy looks, comments, blank stares, and ‘are you serious?’ faces from friends and family about bodybuilding so i never took it seriously either.  not this time- Sonny and i agreed to train for our 1st competition together that would take place 4 months later on our 5th wedding anniversary, September 15th.  i still didn’t have a period at this point because i was breastfeeding Chiso regularly.

so we were off!  we committed wholeheartedly to our competition journey and started going hard with the weight training, sticking to our nutrition plans to the T, dropping body fat like crazy, and just training everyday with no breaks or rest days.  the ironic part? after somehow surviving that daily, strenuous, gym, work, home, gym again,  schedule, i was still lactating like crazy.  that was largely due to my diet, no doubt.  no processed or fried foods, only a combo of oatmeal (a big milk production booster), brown rice, sweet potatoes, egg whites, spinach, asparagus, apples, bananas, blueberries, chicken breast, lean beef, tilapia, almonds, and avocado, 5 – 6 times per day. no supplements, shakes, pills, powders were used or wanted because i didn’t want to pass any foreign ingredients to Chiso.

read about our 14 week transformations here.

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the end result? well, we made it! we even ended up bringing home some hardware! (hardware = trophies).  what a weekend and what a ride.

afterwards….. i was in love. i was super proud of my body and the new level of leanness i was able to achieve with the help of my former trainer.  i was fitter and smaller than before i got preggo with Chiso!  teaching my classes minimized my recovery time and got me back to my pre-preggo size quickly, but at the time i was convinced that was the best my body could do.  my clothes fit way different or just didn’t fit anymore at all, and i was slipping into things i hadn’t worn in years  that had been pushed to the back of my closet. my pride wouldn’t let me throw or give anything away.

Sonny and i headed to Jamaica to celebrate our wedding anni the sunday after our show and had a blast.  when we got back, i wasn’t necessarily interested in doing another show right away because, well, i told myself after i was done i would chill out and prepare my body for baby #2.  that was the plan…that fell through immediately.  from October 12 – June 13 i was living and training like i was about to compete in another show.  i’d wake up claiming that day as a rest day and found myself outside running or at the gym anyway raking up cals on my Polar HR watch.  now, being active is important to me.  i recommend daily movement to everybody.  but unless i burned a certain number of cals or was drenched in sweat, i wouldn’t leave the gym.  obsessed & unbalanced.  i was being stubborn and counter productive to my ultimate goal. again.

 let’s be real. we all want to look good, all the time.  for some competitors that desire is even more so magnified once we step off that stage.  when we start to look ‘normal’ again and go off our competition diet in the slightest bit, we feel fluffy, unfocused, and as if we’ve let ourselves go completely.  so, we flip the competition prep switch on.  in my case, i had no scheduled shows coming up.  since my body was on a way fitter level than before my 1st pregnancy, it was twice, no, quadruple times harder to let go of the exercise reigns.

the journey to baby #2 went in a somewhat similar fashion. this time though, increasing my body fat along with decreasing my workout intensity and activity level was number one on my to-do list. first, Provera brought my period back (after i stopped breastfeeding around 19 months it needed another jump-start i guess), then a round of Clomid.  and another round of Clomid. and another, followed by my very first IUI.  i remember speaking with my good friend by phone and expressing my frustrations as Sonny and i were on the rocky TTC road again.  she felt in her spirit that there was one constant clearly hindering the process. again.  and she was right.  of course she was right!  God was speaking through her because i wasn’t listening to Him.  then she politely reminded me about our agreement from my 1st pregnancy when she prolly should have screamed it into the phone instead.  we made the very same commitment with the Lord together in prayer and from that point on i only walked outside of teaching my 2 classes per week.  committing to do nothing but walk… don’t even get me started!  one of the toughest mental battles, ever.  i’d glance in the mirror every so often and see more jiggle here, a new softness there, and it would just make me want to say screw it and go sprint outside in the street!!!!  i could not disregard my promise or my priorities, and worrying so much about every little change in this temporary, earthly body of mine was ruining me.   this process reinforced spiritual discipline, submission, and obedience to God.  patience. faith.. the list goes on.  so while enduring the ongoing, daily spiritual growth (which is most important), there is something greater developing beyond my simple sacrifice:

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our 2nd blessing,

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*****

i have stopped asking myself  ‘why did i wait until 30 years old to finally do a bikini competition?’ and accept that the ‘delay’ was all apart of His plan for my life.  He knows me better than i ever will. He created me.   fitness will forever be my passion. i was born to do this! no doubt in my mind.  but abusing my gift and living an unbalanced, unhealthy lifestyle was never apart of the deal.  if balance is not present in anything we do, the snowball effect takes place.  you may think you can handle it and that things are under control for a few weeks….months….even years… but eventually the scales tip and fall over.  i highly doubt i would have been able to handle sacrificing my body for even one child had i dabbled in the sport of bodybuilding at a much younger age.  i’ve learned that menstrual cycle issues are such touchy and taboo subjects for women competitors, and some would simply rather not discuss it.  apparently some women never lose their cycle, and some cycles come right on back once that competitor’s body fat level rises to a normal range. does that happen for the majority of women competitors? good question. i don’t know. i do know that the road to conception is different for every woman…just like the pregnancy itself, labor, and delivery.  every woman’s got her story whether she chooses to share it or not.

writingishard

this post was months in the making.  part of me wanted it to come out perfectly, and the other half just wanted it to come OUT already.  i’m no longer ashamed or so secretive of the fertility drug discussions or questions.   7.3 million active and inactive women face infertility, yet it’s still such a taboo subject, especially in the bodybuilding and athletic arena.  the sense of feeling like less of a woman for being unable to conceive naturally can be overwhelming and lead to a loss of self-worth.  unfortunately, the same can be said depending on the way a woman delivers her baby!  there is nothing wrong with ‘help’. pain meds, epidurals, c-sections, etc.,–  they all go under the same umbrella in my eyes.  infertility is a medical condition, not a measure of who you are as a person.  breaking my silence has been incredibly empowering and played a crazy huge role in eliminating the ‘broken’ feelings i used to have about my body.  this ongoing journey has reinforced how living as a positive, balanced, realistic picture of health to my family and everyone i reach via social media, my blog, and on the street is such a vital part of my purpose.

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transparency is not easy. i feel the reader isn’t affected nearly as much as the writer spilling their beans and putting themselves out there.  regardless, it sure does feel good to share.

as always, thanks for reading.

le

34 replies »

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I had no idea how much you’ve been through. You are always so encouraging and inspiring, girl! Wow…teaching 7-9 classes a week…I would fall apart. I teach 3 right now and it is perfect! More than 4 every week was too much. Occasionally I like to sub though. One day I’d like to teach more if I get married and am able to leave my 9-5. Balance is so important!

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  2. As I sit here reading this balling like a baby I must tell you how proud I am of you for sharing. The Lord truly has his timing and it is so much better than our own. I’m so happy for you guys and so grateful that even when we don’t deserve things The Lord continues to bless up beyond our wildest dreams.

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    • yes! His timing is ALWAYS best. believing, thinking, and living like it is where i struggled, yet He continues to bless us through our stubbornness. thank you for your sincere words, Fallon.

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  3. Thanks so much for writing this. It is so encouraging to hear about your journey through it all and how important it was (is) to listen to God. I’m uplifted and encouraged as a woman whose also struggled with Aunt Flo and has been waiting for that BFP for what feels like forever. Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to read about when you get to finally hold sweet Odego!

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  4. Wow! Thank you for sharing your story, it really hit a soft spot for me as we are trying to conceive with no luck. But as you said “it’s God timing.” We are keeping the faith. This was so encouraging for me. Thank you

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    • be encouraged, Stacie. not knowing when we’ll receive His promises is the struggle, but He always delivers. always. He is always true to His word. thank you for reading- i’m honored to have encouraged you, girl.

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  5. Beautiful and so touching! God always knows what best for us and when it’s best for us. I’m so happy for you and your family. Best wishes!

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  6. This was a fantastic touching REAL post! Thank you for a good read and a personal insight. You have such motivation and determination that I think it shows so much strength and speaks to your character. I LOVE all your preggo posts on IG and here bc I totally treated my first pregnancy as a disability and pulled back on training. ur posts make me excited to conceive again and not be sucked into the disability category. Soo glad you were able to get that positive for #2!! How cN your sons not grow up strong happy men with parents like u all. Thanks for keeping it honest and real. U rock!

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    • aaaggh, Meghan you are such a ray of SUNSHINE! your comments always uplift and empower me to just keep going, girl. thank you x’s infinity for all your LOVE. YOU rock!!! 😉

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  7. Wow what a testimony. You have certainly overcame some huge obstacles, as women, we still want to maintain some of our vanity, it makes us feel good. I am glad that you did not let your anxiety win and showed us, we are all human. You are so inspiring. Go Leah!!!!!

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  8. Thanks for sharing your testimony! Soooooo happy for your family and the new blessing on the way. At times we get so caught up in life that we stop hearing God, but the fact that you knew that HE was speaking through your friend to tell you what HE wanted you to do is awesome. It speaks to your faith and obedience, and God honors and obedient child. Hence your 2nd addition. I did not have any infertility issues ( I got pregnant too easily I think…my kiddies are 9 months a part), but I do know how it feels to want to be confident in yourself/appearance. I always think of the scripture that I used as a running theme for all my baby showers, birth announcements, nursery décor, etc: Psalm 127:3 “Children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” God Bless you guys!

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    • yep this world does its best to drown Him out but we have got to keep our eyes and ears peeled at all times. it’s tough. love, love, LOVE that scripture and i sure do appreciate you sharing it, Jameika! God bless your family and thank you for sharing, lady 😉

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  9. Hi Leah!

    Congratulations again and again and again! May God continue to bless you and your family. Just wanted to let you know I’ve been a fan of your Fitfoodie blog since your first pregnancy blogging days years ago, and right now I just read this post and got more inspired. I especially loved the breastfeeding meal plan you were on while training for body building and breastfeeding your first son. The way you cared about what he may digest from what you consumed is exactly what I hope to practice because I too believe in mindfully practicing good breastfeeding habits for the baby’s sake. I hope to incorporate such a yummy meal plan when my mommy turn comes one day (by God’s graces) because I’ve already been a health nut since high-school days and got better overtime since then but the experiential insights you give about your pregnancy eating (the food group tips) and exercise habits made me quite hopeful and happy that I can at least look to someone familiar for guidance during any future baby period. Thank you for sharing your story bravely and inspiring!! XO `Ms Rexti`

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    • thank you sincerely, Charissa. yep, the pressure to be super duper lean at all times was just not a healthy, realistic lifestyle for me. and i really like ice cream. lol

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  10. Thank you so much for writing this. My story echoes yours in that I’ve struggled with extremely irregular periods ever since I was 15 and haven’t gotten it in lord knows how many months! I’m in that tampon-less boy period right now, loving it but the worries are always in the back of my mind. It’s so relieving to see that someone else has gone through similar struggles and come out successful! Thanks so much again 🙂

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  11. THANK YOU!!!! you are a blessing; all the struggles and yet you remain strong and full of poise. God is awesome and he brought the right people into your life at the right time! May the Lord continue to bless you and your husband and children. I am 36 and Emilio and I are finally in a stage where we both want children we haven’t conceived yet but I know we will be blessed to have a child. Sometimes I struggle with fear and anxiety for waiting so long to want kids but I must dismiss those negative thoughts and know that what God has for me will come to pass. Emilio and I have been together 7 years and 2 years into the relationship I wanted kids, but he wasn’t ready so we put it off(using protection); now we just have to keep trying. Thanks again for this blog you are truly appreciated!

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    • I am praying right along with you guys, Fedricka, you bet. thank YOU for sharing that!! I am blessed by your testimony and i’m excited to watch God WORK in your lives. You’re right, dismiss those negative thoughts and leave them at His feet. His timing is best! I keep learning that same lesson repeatedly. Love and prayers, Fedricka ❤

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