Training When Pregnant With Adrenal Insufficiency

…is not easy, but so worth it!! Without training, my mood would most likely have been even worse than what it was this spring. I had the chance to experience that I’m capable of something. Getting endorphins from exercise helped with my depression as well. AI wise it’s still weird that physical stress doesn’t affect me as badly as mental kind. Of course it’s easy to just go to the gym, put some good music on and focus on the movement. I still forget almost everything if I don’t put an alarm on my phone and use calendar, remainders and do-it notes. Focusing on complex things was dead poor as well. Only now I feel I’m getting my brains back and am really happy and grateful for even a couple of clearer and more focused weeks during this pregnancy.

I’m also really grateful for the help my husband has given me by driving me to the gym (of course he trains there too), and for friends who have sometimes come to train with me while I’m at my mother’s in Espoo or otherwise traveling.

Resting enough and not having to work has helped to lower my cortisone dose from the really high amounts in the first trimester when everything was a mess in my life, but I still need a bit more than what I used to take when not pregnant. I take Prednisolone 5 + 3.75 mg every day, and if I have something really taxing to do such as a course that lasts for 6-8 hours I need even more. For workouts, I have now taken 10 mgs hydrocortisone for an an hour lasting lifting session. Endurance training I can normally do without extra.

It’s weird that for the first time, summer heat hasn’t bothered me. I can stand being in the sun at midday, and am loving that I haven’t needed to updose with cortisone and stay indoors. Normally I can’t tolerate sunlight and heat almost at all. So the start of this summer with lots of warmth has also helped to uplift my moods ❤ .

I want to share some of my workouts for others to get an idea what you can do when pregnant. The most important thing is to listen to your body. If something feels off, causes pain or discomfort, or if you are just having a day when you are tired, trust your body! Quit any uncomfortable exercise, and rest adequately. You have all the time in the world later on (depending on your child and help you are getting for childcare, of course) to get back into harder training. But taking care of your body and making sure you are keeping yours and your baby’s health at first place during pregnancy is number one. I will write about some exercise guidelines in this post and then share some of my workouts later on.

Latest research has already buffed some myths regarding training when pregnant. Mothers who are used to exercising at moderate to hard intensities can continue to do so as long as they feel okay. And for mothers who haven’t been exercising, NOW is the best time to start! You will lower the risk for gestational diabetes and musculosceletal pains if you exercise when pregnant. You will also most likely deliver a healthier baby, and recover from the delivery sooner. Just begin with really low intensity and make sure to rest enough, and don’t progress over moderate intensity training.

Other myths are that you can’t lie on your back after a certain week. Well, if you feel fine, you can lie and sleep on your back until the end of pregnancy. The risk of the fetus and placenta to pressure your vena cava, the biggest vein to bring blood from the lower extremities to your heart, is not so big as once thought. If you feel nauseous, off in any way, headache, tingling or other off sensations in your legs, then you should avoid lying on your back and use a small incline or side lying positions. The blood flow to fetus is usually good enough if you are performing an exercise on your back and then rise up to sitting position to rest.

Also, if you have been doing high intensity interval training = HIIT, you can continue during pregnancy as long as you feel fine. But if you haven’t, it is not recommendable to start.

A great resource for training during and after pregnancy is Girls Gone Strong and their articles! I’m currently studying to become a Pre- & Postnatal Coach in their Coaching & Training Women Academy ❤ .

Here are some exercises I’ve liked to do during this pregnancy, the pictures are all from second trimester workouts:

Belt squat is a great quad exercise when pregnant and if regular squats begin to feel uncomfortable, as it’s easier for your back

Bench pressing is still okay when pregnant!
Incline pressing is a good alternative for regular bench
Both vertical (up- and downwards) and horizontal rows are a staple in pregnancy training
During pregnancy, different rows are really important as your breasts increase in size – without training your upper back muscles, it can affect your posture negatively and cause back pain.

Half-kneeling side lift is a great core exercise suitable for all trimesters in pregnancy 🙂 :

I’ll also write more about nutrition during pregnancy later on, but I just wanted to add that it has been a big test for me to really think why I’m choosing healthy foods and have a healthy and flexible attitude towards eating. I want to provide the best building blocks for my baby. Even if I’m not able to help having many medications during pregnancy, one thing I can affect is the foods I eat. Eating healthily and enough will not only affect my child but also my possible grandchildren and so on, through epigenetics. You can read a lot about epigenetics online, the main point is that you can affect how the genes your baby (and his/her offspring) has are expressed by how you act during your pregnancy – how much stress you have, what you eat etc. I also want to embrace good eating habits because I will be an example how to eat to my baby boy Leo when he grows up ❤ .

Getting a variety of good quality meals with veggies, starchy carbs and protein as well as healthy fats will provide the energy to train and nutrients for the baby to grow 🙂 ❤

Besides lifting weights 2-4 times per week, I have been doing cardio, mostly walking although it feels a bit uncomfortable now and has been so after about week 16. I started to have light contractions after longer than 30-60 minute walks depending on intensity. Rowing was out of the question also after about weeks 14-16 when my belly started to grow. The best I’ve felt is doing endurance training sessions on crosstrainer indoors, or water running. I haven’t been doing any HIIT training, just walking on basic endurance levels of heartbeat and on crosstrainer. Sometimes I use indoor cycling (usually at my mom’s who only has a bike). I do both basic endurance and some light speed endurance sessions 1-3 times per week if I have the time and feel good. I like the bike, but it has started to cause both tail bone and pelvic pains so the crosstrainer at home is my most precious friend right now when it comes to endurance training 🙂 .

Having a great time at FAF Running Trainer course with my personal trainer friend Eeva ❤

Last weekend I attended a two-day FAF Running Trainer course to learn more about technique analysis and drills, running economy and running training programming with a personal trainer friend of mine. The course was fantastic – I got a huge amount of new knowledge and am thrilled I have a couple of running clients I can start to work my new skills with right away! I also got the chance to get analysis of my own running technique and how to improve. I was a bit surprised but in a nice way, as my technique got praised and the only thing to really focus on improving was to raise the cadence of my running and use shorter stride length. Running with bare feet and focusing on drills and cadence got my running form already into a great shape. We’ll see if I one day decide to start running with my baby after giving birth 🙂 ❤ .

Running technique at slow motion after two days of technique drills and without running shoes, aka “look, a pink elephant is running” !! 😀 :

I was already pretty exhausted from having a short weekend holiday with my mother at Tampere – it’s funny how we adrenal insufficient people need a vacation to recover from a vacation! 😀 And now the really intensive Running Trainer course wiped me out completely. I will now take a break from writing and training too hard and will sleep a lot, and hopefully am in the shape to get back into writing later in June 🙂 .

I wish everyone great workouts, tasty meals and sunny summer days!! ❤ ❤

xoxo,

Veera

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What I’ve Been Up To (And Down From)

It has been such a long time I wrote this blog that a lot has happened. To point out that I have done something else than just sleeping and feeling awful I wanted to share some highlights from this year 🙂 . I’m blessed with lots of friends and possibilities to do all kinds of fun and interesting stuff as long as I have some energy and a chance to rest enough afterwards. I’m not giving up on trying to live my life even when my adrenal insufficiency makes it difficult. But I do have to say I never thought or understood how tired one can become when pregnant! If AI exhaustion was bad, then this… More times I can count I’ve literally fallen on the sofa or bed, just to fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow, or have my feet give up under me completely. No amount of willpower could keep me awake and functioning.

Me with Anni celebrating her book launch on February ❤

On Feb I had my 35th birthday (that I spent working) but before that I had the chance to go and celebrate my former coach and friend, Olympic athlete and weightlifter extraordinaire Anni Vuohijoki’s book launch. Anni published her first book, Voima kanssamme (Power with Us) this year and yes, it’s a great book and especially I recommend it to all women who are interested in becoming strong both mentally and physically in their lives ❤ .

I couldn’t have been happier for Anni when she won her first weightlifting European Championships medals this year – bronze on clean&jerk and on total ❤ ❤ !! She is an exemplary athlete with professional team supporting her and has made huge progress the whole time I’ve known her. She makes a great example that if you want to reach the top, you need to have everything in order – your health, nutrition, mental game, finances, great coaching on all aspects and still remember to have fun!

Anni also keeps an English vlog nowadays, go and check it out here !

Anni is simply the best !!<3

I’ve had lots of issues with my pregnancy that are still difficult for me to go through without crying. I will try to write about the health stuff later. But there was a scare that my baby wasn’t growing normally – there are still issues that are followed, and I had to change my maternity hospital because of not getting treatment and consultations I needed due to both my adrenal insufficiency and problems with extremely low blood sugar that caused symptoms and was one factor why I was unable to work. I got symptomatic hypoglycemic attacks they simply refused to study and treat and was forced to go to private doctors and registered dietitian to try and sort things out with my health. The mental strain was unimaginable and if I wasn’t fighting not only for myself but also for the sake of my unborn child I don’t know how I would’ve made it sane.

I also had troubles believing I was pregnant as I didn’t have a big baby bump until on my fifth month. Because of some suboptimal nutritional decisions made in the early pregnancy I gained almost 6 kilos in the first trimester (!!) and mostly felt like overweight person, not a pregnant woman. Also my placenta is placed very anterior so that I only started to feel real kicks on weeks 23-24 – I had only slight, weird, light touch sensations that could have been anything before.

I had to look at the ultrasound pictures over and over again to realize I was pregnant before the constant kicking started 🙂

On Easter, my Christmas came early when my favorite lecture team from Renaissance Periodization finally came to Finland to present all things related to recovery and nutrition for serious athletes ❤ . Science is truly stronger! Last time I saw Drs Israetel, Hoffman and Davis was on their London seminar two years ago. Read more on my trip on post “Nutrition, Training & Recovery” -seminar in London 🙂 .

Once again, the seminar was absolutely fantastic. I can wholeheartedly recommend everyone serious about their fitness and progress to check out RP’s website and especially their ebook section as well as RP+ membership!

As a RP fan who follows their work there wasn’t so much new to learn as for many others attending, but I got some cool new insights into volume landmarks in training and was able to ask tons of questions at their Q & A and also got them on video to share with my fellow fitness coaches on my fitness team Finnish Physique Academy with their permission. That was great! Especially I benefited from info about transitioning from diet to mass phase with female physique athletes and different methods of progress during a mesocycle when training petite females. I also got to ask questions my fellow coaches wanted to find out.

Dr. Mike tells more about MY favorite type of massing diet!

More on high carb, low fat massing:

Dr. Hoffman presents everything you need to know about recovery strategies!

To really learn all you can about recovery and adaptation and training volume, get RR’s books Recovering From Training and How Much Should I Train? as they are both golden!

Melissa’s diet presentations were great as well – especially the dieting mindset part! ❤
We had a great gang of eager students and simply the best teachers ❤ – and special thanks to my friend Ulrika and her husband for company during the course!

I have had issues with training as my tiredness and low mood have prevented me from doing as much as I would’ve liked, and then not accomplishing anything has made my mood even darker with lots of self accusations and shame. I know a lot of women are too tired to exercise as much as they’d like during pregnancy and I have my AI as complicating issue as well. If I was all fired up and energetic and feeling good I wouldn’t be on sick leave now would I?? But coming to terms that my brain wasn’t working at all and my body didn’t respond to my wishes was a tough thing. Having friends to cheer me up was really important. There were a lot of times I felt really alone and sad in Hamina, as I only have one close friend there and I was too tired to reach out to even her most of the time.

Luckily I have lots of good friends in the Helsinki metropolitan area I got to see every time I had energy to drive to stay with my mother in Espoo ❤ . We went to train and have lunch with my personal trainer friend and see a mutual friend’s gig in Helsinki with another. I’ve been to water running again – only once, but this week I’m going again with a friend to a nearby swimming hall. It also has outdoor swimming pool open in the summer and I’m already waiting anxiously to go! I’ve had troubles to go and do stuff by myself due to tiredness, brain fog and depression issues. Especially starting something has been almost impossible. I just procrastinate until forever, it seems.

A good meal after a good workout with a friend ❤
I had a chance to enjoy a friend’s gig at legandary Raffaello’s terrace in Helsinki with good company
Dance Storm, you rock !!

On Mother’s Day, we drove to Loviisa to visit my mother-in-law with my husband and the dogs. The weather was wonderful and afterwards we sat for a while in the city marina. We also visited the ruins of Loviisa bastioni, a fortress built in the 18th century.

The weather has been exceptionally warm and sunny for most of May here in Finland. Even warmer than in Spain I heard !! I don’t feel so good in high temperatures especially AI wise, so most of the time I try to spend the hottest hours indoors and go out later in the evening. We had a nice picnic with my hubby one day at local Pitkäthiekat (Long sands) and he took both Franz and Maksim swimming. Franz actually hates to swim but he can if he has to… Maksim seemed to enjoy his first dip in the ocean, though! Afterwards they both were satisfied as the grueling heat had gotten to them, and refreshed from their swim they played at the beach for a while. There is still birds’ nesting season and they were on leash and what a circus they made as they got tangled all over…

Franz and Maksim enjoying a wonderful Mother’s Day weather in Loviisa
Taking my little ones and my tummy out to check Loviisa bastioni with hubby ❤
Maksim after his first ever swim in the ocean (!)
In our first picnic this year enjoying the weather at the beach in Hamina ❤

These past two weeks have probably been my happiest during this pregnancy. I’m not crying anymore, and I feel I have more energy to do things. I still sleep about 12 hours per day, but I’m not as brain fogged all the time as I was and have been able to exercise more consistently 3-4 times per week at the gym and do some light walking as far as I can. I’ve started to get contractions and low back pain if I walk too much. But I’ll write about my pregnancy exercise routine more thoroughly next time!

Wishing you wonderful summery feelings,

xoxo,

Veera

Some Kind Of Monster (Inside Me)

Whew, this must be my longest break in writing this blog. Don’t think I’ve given up, though. I may have given up on myself on occasions during these long months. But it’s not my fault. I have an alien growing inside me. An alien that drains me of energy and nutrients and has changed my physiology and behavior totally. In a few months, it will break out of my body violently….

No, not this 😀 … (photo source)
THIS !! ❤ ❤

I’m pregnant – how weird is that !! ?? !!

Sooo. That is why I haven’t been around. I had a crazy last year and had already exhausted my resources with trying to finish personal training studies, fitness coach studies and continue my nutrition coach Level 2 studies with Precision Nutrition. And then we got the best Christmas present we could ever hope for with my husband. A positive pregnancy test.

I’m going to be frank. This baby was kinda pre-ordered. And really longed for. I had been diagnosed with infertility and anovulation issues already almost 10 years ago before my adrenal insufficiency diagnosis. I knew getting pregnant would be an issue and after trying for a few months I went to new round of tests and the problem was still there. So our only option was infertility treatments. I’ll maybe write more later if I have time and energy. But in short, our little baby was a result of ovulation induction and insemination treatment. But we succeeded ❤ ❤ . And after all the troubles we went through last year, at least we could both be sure we really wanted to build a family together – without the strong drive it would have been easy to give up after months and months of negative tests and disappointments.

Leo Kristian is expected due 23th August ❤ ❤

This year has been a total roller coaster of mixed emotions and hardships that have lead to me being on looooong sick leave again since end of Feb, and it will continue til the start of my maternity leave. Both my physical and mental wellbeing have really been tested but I’m still here. If not kicking and going strong, then at least limping and crawling my way through. The reason why I didn’t write this blog was because of the horrible tiredness, brain fog and depression from my problems. I hope that now as summer is coming and it seems I’ve been through the worst life can throw upon me I will have more strength and energy to write about how I’m doing and what this pregnancy has been and is like – there isn’t much information about adrenal insufficiency / Addison pregnancies around.  Sadly, not in the hospitals either and OB/GYNs are quite oblivious about us as patients.

I’ve been able to work out through the pregnancy so far and that has probably kept me from going totally insane. I’m tired as hell and have to rest most of the day – I sleep about 10-14 hours (!) and then lie down most of the time awake as well, but have managed to lift weights 2-4 times per week. My aerobic fitness is probably quite awful right now, though…

From small…
…to a bit bigger baby bump

What else have I done? At the beginning of this year I actually felt better, had no nausea and I was taking more cortisone to be able to do my work and finish my fitness coach studies. I was dancing at the edge of total exhaustion, though, and the crash at the end of February was probably unavoidable and should have been seen already on January. I just tried to be a good doctor, good student, and lots of things that my body just couldn’t handle. But I did manage to push through on my studies and am now an official FITNESS COACH by Finnish Fitness Alliance! 🙂

Me with Finnish Fitness Alliances chairman KP Ourama whos also a distinguished IFBBs international judge, and executive manager Ville Isola 🙂
Hanna Saario placed 6th last year on IFBB World Championships body fitness categorie, shes a great gal, personal trainer and sister of my med school classmate :). 
Hanna is an exemplary athlete, and my idol in being an exemplary mother as well ! ❤

I’m happy and excited to find new fitness & physique coaching opportunities as soon as I get well again…and manage my health and taking care of my baby, of course 🙂 . I currently have one athlete I coach who is aiming at competing in wellness fitness in near future. She has made great progress already! From posing lessons to nutrition and different kind of smart and evidence-based training regime. At first her calories were waaayyy too low for a serious female athlete but now after following my instructions her progress is amazing. From 1500/1100 kcal (training/non-training day) in dieting with less than stellar results, she is now after 4 months maintenance with pre-planned calorie increases dieting with 1650 kcal every day and losing over 0.5% of her body weight every week! I’m hoping to get more athletes in my roster next year and help them shine on stage 🙂 .

I can also now reveal my new fitness team I’m working with – all our coaches and support personnel are simply put awesome persons and all interested in coaching in evidence-based way, athlete’s health and mental wellbeing put first, and focusing on long-term development of our athletes both in sport and as human beings ❤ . Go check out Team Finnish Physique Academy (in Finnish)!!!

Of course, all this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my husband and my mother, who have taken care of lots of daily chores so I could rest and try to finish my studies despite horrible tiredness from early pregnancy. And they have helped heaps with my dogs… Ups! 🙂

I have a new chihuahua puppy, Maksim !! ❤ ❤

Little Maksim at 5 weeks ❤
This is Maksim at 8 weeks in Easter ❤

Franz and Maksim were best buddies from first evening 🙂 ❤

Maksim moved to live with us this Easter. I love him so, so much – he’s such a good and very calm boy, very unlike Franz who was a complete rascal 😀 . I decided Franz needed company as he’s been a real momma’s boy and now when we have a baby on the way, he is not going to get as much attention as he is used to in the future. It turned out to be an excellent decision, as Franz and our new hairy baby Maksim have been best friends ever since he moved in. I have now more free time as they keep each other company and I can rest more. It’s a win-win!

It’s great my dogs love to sleep as much as I do!

Despite all these wonderful, uplifting things I got really depressed as I couldn’t continue to work anymore as a doctor and and was so tired I missed lots of my nutrition coach studies that still continue, not mentioning not having the energy to even read or see my friends for ages. I just slept and cried. And as I’m pregnant, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to compensate a stressful period in my life by taking extra cortisone as too high a dose could have adverse effects on the developing fetus 😦 . Now I even had to quit using caffeine altogether. So there is nothing that could keep me awake. I also had to quit many of my medications that helped me with being more alert and have energy during the day. I still have had feelings of uselessness and shame because of that. I’ve now talked with my fitness team’s mental coach and it has helped to focus my thinking. Right now I kind of understand that my first priority is to take care of myself and that way also of my baby. But in this society where humans are valued only by how much they work, now after a great last year I can’t help feeling like a failure that I suddenly collapse.

I hope this blog text will be a new start to me, kind of different work instead of paid work-work. If I can help someone to realize they are not alone with adrenal insufficiency, having a difficult pregnancy, wanting to work out and lift heavy things during pregnancy (in a safe and science-backed way, of course), writing this was worth it.

Please comment if there is something you might want me to write about, considering pregnancy (with AI) or resistance training during pregnancy.

Hope to write again a bit sooner, 

xoxo,

Veera

 

A Very Fitness Christmas & New Year

Wonderful Christmas and New Year Holiday time for each and everyone!

I’ve again been working and training through both Christmas & New Year… Could have done without the work part, but after many months of sick leave without pay this year I have to earn a little to spend a little :).

Just before Christmas, I had again such a great time in Vierumäki Sport Institute of Finland in my second part of Finnish Fitness Alliance’s coaching certification course, and got to know our group of fitness coaches a bit better.

We learned more about dieting strategies, fitness and bodybuilding research done so far in the world, evidence-based nutrition and supplement guidelines, doping regulations and many other subjects. We also had to plan and run a posing practice to each other in small groups. My group had kind of advantage as we had IFBB bikini World Champion Anna Virmajoki giving us a couple of hints how to do it 😀 …

At Vierumäki with my fellow fitness coaches

The best lecturer in Vierumäki was one of my favorite dietitian / nutritionists in Finland, Patrik Borg aka Pöperöproffa (The Mush Professor 🙂 ). He is renowned from his work on obesity and sports nutrition and he writes a very popular blog in Finnish: http://patrikborg.blogspot.fi/ . His talk was about eating disorders in sport. Some of best pieces of Patrik’s lecture:

-How do you stay relaxed and keep a normal relationship with food and eating? The answer is not discipline and tight control.

-Food is food. It shouldn’t be a reward or a punishment. Allow flexibility in your diet and make conscious choices by free will – “I could have some cake, but I choose not to today”.

-“Shouldn’t” -type of thinking leads to problems, as well as denying yourself certain foods or food groups or stigmatizing some as “bad” or “unhealthy”.

-An alarm should ring in your head if you notice feeling guilty about eating, or anxious when thinking about eating or about certain foods, or you “buy” allowance to eat by (over)exercising.

I’ve had issues with body image, self image and disordered eating when I was a teenager and exercised a lot. I hope Patrik’s message about relaxed and permissive eating would reach as many people suffering from same issues as possible. Now as I’m older and thankfully wiser I’ve gotten through that phase. Still, many others need therapy and help of a dietitian and other health care providers to heal themselves. A good coach/personal trainer can also help with disordered eating habits, preferably in co-operation with aforementioned professionals.

A few years ago, Precision Nutrition’s coaching program helped me focus on how I perform instead of how I look, and noticing and naming the feelings and thought systems behind my actions that made me overeat junk food or starve myself. If you’re interested in learning more as I’m a certified Precision Nutrition Level 1 coach (and happily doing my Level 2 Cert program!), shoot me a message 😉 .

Finnish winter is long and dark but great teaching, atmosphere and my thirst for knowledge kept me awake at Vierumäki!

I feel so happy about my decision to start the fitness coach course. Fitness is something I’m really passionate about. The sport of fitness, whether it be natural bodybuilding, bikini, physique, figure, etc. requires incredible amount of dedication, determination, patience and self belief, and really teaches you to walk the walk – live by healthy eating habits and regular exercise every day of the year. I’m thrilled and privileged to be able to work with other fitness enthusiasts and famous coaches and athletes ❤ . I hope I’ll be able to finish my powerlifting coach certificate next year, too, though. I still love the bench, deadlift and squat, too (not necessarily always in that order 😀 ).

I’ll be finishing my Finnish Fitness Alliance’s level 1 coaching certificate next February, and have decided to continue straight away to level 2 course that starts only 2 weeks from now! ❤

Aaaannd…. I’m also now a certified personal trainer!! 🙂

http://www.trainer4you.fi/koulutukset/personal-trainer-koulutus.html

I finished my written, case study and live coaching exams this month. ❤ I feel so relieved the long year of studying is finally over. I’m not sure if I learned much new since I had so much past knowledge and experience about training, nutrition and coaching, but now I have the certification to prove it.

The last weekend of studying at Trainer4You was probably the best. We had one of Finland’s gurus of functional movement, physiotherapist and Anatomy Trains -instructor Ari-Pekka Lindberg to teach us movement analysis ❤ . 

When I have the chance in future, I’m want to learn more about functional movement and movement screening. Before my personal trainer studies, I’ve studied fascial manipulation techniques, manual back therapy and acupuncture for my physician’s work. But next year 2018 my focus is on becoming a better coach for my athletes, and learn more about fitness sports, especially the competition prep. I’m happy I have such good contacts and already a great fitness team I can fit – more on that later 😉 .

After New Year I have more time to rest, but just to keep myself in good health and performance I’ve fitted short naps and other relaxing breaks such as cuddling with hubby watching Netflix around my each day.

Me and Franz getting some rest before I hit the gym
Franz takes his naps seriously 😀

I got the spend Christmas with my husband in Hamina – even though I worked, we still went to the gym and had some fun and relaxed time together – that’s all I needed and asked for for this first Christmas as a married couple ❤ ❤ .

We found a new way to put hubby’s medals into use in Christmas decorations! 😀

A very Merry Franz Christmas! ❤

I managed to squeeze in my regular benching session and squats on Christmas Eve :).

After a couple of first hectic weeks of year 2018, I hope I will be sharing more and more often here on my blog about my journey into coaching, how I manage stress nowadays, what’s in my workout program and about my athletic and other aspirations for new year.

xoxo,

Veera

20+ Pictures Is Worth 20,000+ Words..?

I’ve been away from writing for so long I thought seriously should I even bother. Well, I should. Because this break has been important, unavoidable and much needed for me. I really love writing and hope I soon have the time and energy to start doing it again regularly.

My autumn has been spent dealing with several crisis in family, which I hope are soon turning for the best. And studying, I’m soon to become a certified personal trainer and fitness / figure / bikini coach. And training. I’ve seen great progress even though I’ve dealt with stressful situations in my life and have had to travel between two cities all this time.

Today we’re celebrating Finland’s 100st Independence Day. I’m working (on call), but nicely it has been pretty quiet so we’ve been watching interviews and Independence Day’s parade on TV with my mom and later will probably watch Linnanjuhlat, Presidential Independence Day reception.

I wanted to share some pictures from my summer and fall with you ❤ . If I’m okay, I will try to write something new in the becoming days.

I’ve officially moved to Hamina now ❤
I got to meet Mike Tuchscherer in Ireland !!
…and got a hug from Stephen “Screamer” Manuel 🙂
I got to spend an evening with Eric Helms himself!
Franz has been traveling a lot with me
Last summer was busy but great 🙂

I’ve had some great dinners…
..and treats!

 

I started studying for my powerlifting coach certificate

I GOT ENGAGED LAST SUMMER !! ❤ ❤ We had our engagement party at Clarion Hotel, Helsinki.

The bling ring ❤
View from our hotel room at Clarion Helsinki
A summery day view to Helsinki
The Clarion Hotel
Morning swim was refreshing after our engagement party 🙂
On a cruise to Tallinna
This fall we went sightseeing and trekking near Kotka
Independent Finland for 100 years !
Sometime Franz just isn’t up to walking…

AND SOME ADDITIONAL INFO: I GOT MARRIED 10th NOVEMBER !! ❤ ❤

Me with my husband at a friend’s wedding last summer ❤
I’m so happy with him!<3

What else? I’m training physique-style at the moment, for a change. I want to see how big improvements I can get on my look – add muscle and lose fat – for a while. One of my coaching clients will compete in figure next year. And I’m still coaching nutrition and lifestyle for people around Finland, and even have a few abroad clients.

My own journey has been long, but now as I’ve gone through Precision Nutrition’s ProCoach online coaching that I offer as well, as a client to a fellow lifestyle coach, I’ve seen great improvements in my daily habits and how I take care of myself. I’ve started to think and act more proactively, and take active measures to rest and recover better, and have been revisiting my life values and what is important for me, as well as what I have strength to do and what should I delegate or leave altogether.

Even with adrenal insufficiency, I have two great coaches and science behind my great physique transformation and energy ❤

Hoping to write again soon,

xoxo,

Veera

 

 

Having A Lot On My Plate Right Now

I wanted to write a quick update on things to prevent a massive procrastination event coming where I would delay and delay posting until next Christmas.

I’m stuffed with things to do – and food! I needed to find a new goal for myself as I’m not going to compete in a powerlifting meet – so I started massing, instead 🙂 . I’ve got tons of delicious, healthy food to eat and am hoping to gain some serious muscle during this autumn! My coach Jen from Renaissance Periodization has given me full reins to eat more. Way more. I’ve been indulging myself with copious quantities of peanut butter and my other favorite foods like oatmeal 😉 – not forgetting fruits, berries and veggies, though! I’ve got 360 grams of carbs on lifting days and am too ashamed to even tell the amount of fat on top of this….

I started a new hypertrophy mesocycle with less volume per week as I was having problems to recover from training and all my other responsibilities of work and studies. Today I had my second squat workout with good mornings and leg curls as accessories. I was feeling a bit nauseous and really tired with low motivation to train but managed to grind through. Even my fiancé helped by sending me a meme! I had some serious shakes going on after lifting, though.

Franz is his lovely and mischievous self and keeps me company wherever I may roam. We’ve been sleeping together, going for walks – sometimes accompanied by a friend – and found some great spots for picking blueberries in Hamina (don’t bother, they’re gone now 😀 ).

My coaching group is almost 2 months old now – how time flies! The ladies in it are very different from each other but I’m happy to have the chance to help them with their health and wellness. We are in this for the long run and making lasting changes to their habits regarding diet and nutrition and that’s not an easy task. We had such a great time working out together with my friend who is also in the coaching group ❤ .

I’ve also been tiptoeing on high heels practicing figure poses – but for the benefit of being able to coach my athlete(s) competing in figure better. Some news may be upcoming about my aspirations for a figure coaching career later this year… 😉 But first I have to do some more work, continue with another weekend of personal trainer studies followed by powerlifting coach studies the next weekend, leading up the AFPT Convention in Oslo, Norway. See ya soon!

xoxo,

Veera

This Awesome But Hectic Life Of Mine

Hiya! Right after getting my strength back I’ve been living life to the full last few weeks – maybe even a bit too full… I’ve had so much fun, met and hung out with friends and enjoyed every moment of it ❤ .

I was invited to my friend’s bachelorette party near Tampere a couple of weeks ago. I was pretty exhausted from all the traveling I had had to do in the near past but wouldn’t have missed her day for any price. I guess I was also suffering from a little bit of post-travel depression since returning from Ireland. Spending lots of time just resting and sleeping isn’t something that I like to do. It’s something that’s required of me if I want to stay functional but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I normally love being around people and not being able to really gets to me. Being all alone and weak in the bed makes me moody and sad.

I guess I would have been more energetic if I hadn’t spent the previous evening attending my friend’s singing gig at Helsinki, but I really wanted to hear her Dance Storm band play there – we had such a great time there with my friend Johanna ❤ . The gig was awesome, my leg twitched like crazy as I would’ve wanted to dance but really then I would’ve missed the bachelorette party due to total exhaustion.

The bachelorette party venue was Vaihmalan Hovi, a hotel and a spa near Lempäälä. The weather that day was fantastic; the sun shone brightly and we spend lot of time outdoors. The bride to be got spa treatments and we had planned some outdoor activity and a treasure hunt for her to test her wits 🙂 . I really enjoyed getting to know the other participants as I had never met most of my friend’s other GFs.

Our bachelorette party venue
We all got pretty hair pins to match ❤
Front yard at Vaihmalan Hovi

I would really have liked to go swimming but I forgot my bathing suit…

The day spent in sun and having numerous activities totally drained me and I spent the train ride home shaking and popping extra hydrocortisone. I have no recollection of the evening after I got home…

I haven’t been able to lift as often that I would’ve liked. Well no shit Sherlock. If I’m traveling around Finland and Europe, doing my job and hanging out with friends on this and that occasion I can’t split myself up any further. I have to really start to think about my priorities in the becoming few weeks as I miss lifting and 3 times per week – barely, may I say – just doesn’t cut it for long. I want to get to better, to set PRs, get more muscle. The way I’m living now won’t produce those results. I just need to choose what is most important to me in my life.

Still managed to hit the gym both in Hamina and in Espoo at least a couple of times 🙂
Last set of deadlift drop set left, lunges await…

I have missed spending time with friends and traveling, stuff that I loved to do before I got diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency. This spring and early summer I have been in the best shape ever since diagnosis. I think lots of reasons attribute to it:

  • My body is recovering from the long lack of enough cortisone and DHEA
  • I have learned to recover faster by taking small breaks throughout the day and sleeping wherever and whenever I can
  • I’m in better shape thanks to my powerlifting practice and the rowing sessions I started this spring
  • My nutrition is on point thanks to my nutrition coach, Renaissance Periodization’s Dr. Jen Case 
  • I’ve had a lot of help from my mother ❤ who takes care of Franz while I travel and work
  • Last but not least, I have a wonderful officer and a gentleman in my life who takes care of me when I’m tired or sick, walks beside me and supports all my aspirations in life ❤

Due to all the above, I’ve been able to work part-time since the end of my over 3 month sick leave last winter, begin my studies to become a personal trainer and finish my nutrition coach degree so I can help others.

I now have my first online nutrition coaching group that started in June and I have been so happy and amazed by the people that have trusted me to help them get in better shape and health. We have our own Facebook group and do group training and meet-up sessions at least once a month now. I have had much help from Precision Nutrition‘s ProCoacha nutrition coaching software for their certified coaches that helps me deliver daily educational lessons and workshops to my clients and help us monitor their progress and keep in touch. One month in, and many have already noticed big changes in their mindset about nutrition, fitness and life in general, as well as in their waistlines! 🙂

We had a blast in my coaching group’s outdoor training session!
Just hangin’ my hair out on summery pt course break 😀

My powerlifting coach certificate studies begin in August. Thankfully I only study one or two weekends per month and some evenings. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do my doctor’s work that pays for my “pt hobby” now. Hopefully next year I will be a certified personal trainer as well and can deliver excellent and holistic health services to my clients by combining these two professions.

As always, Franz is being his own cute – and at times annoying – self and keeps me company in my both homes at Espoo and Hamina ❤ .

The summer heat gets to even Franz at times
Franz having a little flamingo action 😀

For an adrenal insufficient individual, I think I’ve done more than well managing my life for the last few extremely busy weeks. But my illnesses are catching up with me at the moment and I really need to slow down soon or I will crash and burn. Right after my annual Utti Krav Maga Summer Camp this weekend, that is 😉 .

I will try to post an update next week about my trip to the European Powerlifting Conference as well as the Utti summer camp. Right after I’ve recovered. Already looking forward to spending time just resting, reading and watching movies, and when I’m up to it, hitting the gym again 🙂 .

xoxo,

Veera

So… Why Am I Even Doing This Powerlifting Thing Anyway?

I returned last week from the European Powerlifting Conference. My trip to Ireland will be covered in a new post – sooner than a month from now, promise! Now I’m in midst of recovery and new cycle of studying and working until exhaustion – tired but at the moment happy. ❤

I have to tell I had big problems with training motivation before leaving to Ireland. I was aiming at competing in Finnish Powerlifting Nationals this year but just recently I found out it wouldn’t be possible and never will be.

I guess part of me had feared this as I had postponed going to a sports medicine specialist doctor to ask about therapeutic use exemption regarding the medicines I am using that are prohibited by WADA. Well…DHEA is a problem. That big a problem I cannot overcome. I need it to help with my menstrual cycle which was haywire before I started using DHEA, as well as for overall wellbeing and mental health. With my normal dose of 1.5-2 tablets of 25mg DHEA my blood levels of the most biggest metabolite DHEAS are just above lower limit of normal values. Not any higher. But WADA’s rules only allow exemption for DHEA use for patients with primary adrenal insufficiency. Well, as a secondary that was it, then. No bother to fight against that. I can’t make myself primary and even with primaries the highest allowed dose is 25mg.

I’m pissed off and disappointed but understand the reasons behind not allowing DHEA use. It’s still testosterone precursor and I could be getting unfair advantage due to using it, albeit I don’t produce any naturally. And there isn’t a Clinical Practice Guideline considering DHEA use with secondary adrenal insufficiency. Doctors/endocrinologists aren’t unanimous in prescribing it though many or even most secondary hypocortisolism patients lack DHEA. But as long as it’s role is controversial and there’s no consensus I understand and just have to accept WADA’s ruling that it is prohibited to use by me should I choose to compete.

I had a really tough time re-thinking about my motivations about powerlifting. I have always wanted to compete. I’m a competitive person. I wanted to show by competing that even a person with as many illnesses and disabilities like me can with hard and dedicated training and nutrition following evidence based program and training principles can get to lift at a National level. I wanted to set an example. To test my limits. To win. Now I have to rediscover all the other reasons I love my sport.

Of course I could go and compete in some other alliance’s meets. An alliance’s that doesn’t test it’s athletes. But as a doctor and an athlete and a person who stands for fair game and being healthy I cannot see myself to associate with a powerlifting alliance that allows it’s competitors to use doping. I think that it would make me part of the problem. That there is no straight and honest talk about the wide spread use of performance enhancing drugs in strength sports. And I don’t want to silently accept the false status quo that while (almost) everyone knows some lifters are using PEDs, no one admits it and rarely anyone talks about PED use in the sport freely. I want to represent and speak for clean sports. That you can be strong – as a woman, as a lifter, period – without succumbing to doping use. By hard work and perseverance. This is just my opinion and I don’t see a problem with people using PEDs as long as they’re honest about it and don’t try to pass as clean athletes. I hate cheating. Period.

So…I just have to make do. Without competing. Probably ever, if WADA doesn’t change the rules one day ;).

I was for a couple of days really disillusioned. Wondered why the heck am I doing this shit. Sweating. Grinding. Dragging myself to the gym when I was tired and overworked and probably more in need of a whole week just resting and sleeping. Doing all these heavy squats and hip thrusts and deadlifts until my legs burned and ached and shook. I could be doing something else! Something I enjoyed – loved – to do. Something that made me feel good about myself. Where I could have a sense of achievement. Get stronger mentally and physically. Find new friends across the globe. Something like…well, like powerlifting. As I thought about it, a chance of competing was always such a tiny amount of the allure of the sport that now when it’s taken away my love for powerlifting isn’t any smaller.

Once a powerlifter, always a powerlifter. All the wonderful things it has given me can never be taken away. The progress I’ve made as a lifter and a person and the friends I’ve found. The new level of ability to function and how much better I am now coping with my illnesses. This is, and will be, a huge part of my life, no matter what.

xoxo,

Veera

Great Powerlifing Resources – Sigma Powerlifting Podcast

I want to really recommend everyone interested in powerlifting to check out this new podcast concentrating on powerlifting – Sigma Powerlifting Podcast by Danny Lennon from absolutely fantastic Sigma Nutrition (that I’ve talked about so many times 🙂 ). Danny interviews clearly the hottest (or coolest) names in powerlifting, already the cast is starting to look a list of who’s who in the sport. Definitely worth listening to! ❤

Check it out here:  SIGMA POWERLIFTING PODCAST

The above episode is so far my favorite interview, although all the episodes have been great 🙂 . I’m really fascinated in Mike’s approach to powerlifting training, especially the RPE system – check out Reactive Training Systems – RTS to learn more! I also tend to aim for more higher volume and frequency -based training Mike tells he often uses in his programming. As a smaller, less experienced female athlete it’s of course very reasonable to do so – I can recover must faster than, say, a 100 kg advanced male powerlifter.  I’m just not able trash my body so completely with training with my minuscule muscles 😀 . At least when my cortisone dosage is optimal. If I take too little I can easily work myself up to ER condition, though…

I have pretty amazing news – I’ll be attending the European Powerlifting Conference in Ireland this July! The speaker list is awesome – these guys are powerlifting rockstars and the best thing is we attendees get to hang out with them on Saturday at a beer & barbeque party! I’ll be going with my friend and we’re gonna spend one night in Dublin as well. I’m really looking forward to the trip as I’ve never been to Ireland 🙂 .

Learn more about the European Powerlifting Conference 2017 !

I’m already so excited, only a month to go! ❤ ❤ I will certainly give a detailed report from the conference (if I manage my cortisone dose to stay up and functioning from all the excitement…)

xoxo,

Veera

Practice What You Preach (And Take Photos While Doing It)

I had an absolutely fantastic weekend and I feel so much better now both mentally and physically! 🙂 I managed to hit most of the goals I set to myself on my last post Anxious And Overworked, But Hopeful and it made such a big impact to get a whole 3 days off work and finally I got to spend time with my beloved ❤ ❤

Last Friday started great already when I got to try real Olympic rowing for the first time in my life. My friend competes in the sport and she was supposed to give me some pointers in my indoor rowing technique but when we got to the Rowing Stadium (it was built for the 1940 Summer Olympics in Helsinki), the weather was so nice she asked if I’d dare to go to the sea on her double scull. It was great! The sun was shining and I tried to get the hang of rowing technique which is, I can tell you, a lot harder than using a rowing machine 😀 … I absolutely want to try that again!

Töölö Olympic Rowing Stadium, Helsinki – photo source

The weather was perfect for my first Olympic rowing experience!

Afterwards I just made time to my 90 minute sports massage aka the torture 😀 and then we headed toward Hamina with Franz ❤ . I had missed my boyfriend so so much and getting to spend a whole weekend with him was such a treat ❤ .

Franz instantly reclaimed one of his favorite sleeping places in Hamina 😀

The weekend was quite busy as we spend most the time with our favorite hobbies, working out and shooting 🙂 . I’m not much of a shooter yet but promising, perhaps? At least I have a really professional private tutor ❤ . The only negative thing was I overdid my practice by shooting way too much with rifles and shotgun that had that much of a recoil my right shoulder got irritated. By Sunday it was bruised and swollen and I was unable to do my benching workout which was a bummer 😦 . But I got a lot of practice (that makes perfect) and lots of sun – the weather stayed fantastic the whole weekend with nearly cloudless sky and above 20 degrees Celcius – enough for my very Finnish taste 🙂 .

And, I have forgot to write, I had SMILE laser surgery done to correct my vision at Eiran sairaala – I had both myopia and mild astigmatism and had to use glasses from time to time. Now I saw clearly and it felt so good to be able to aim and shoot straight without glasses when shooting from longer ranges without scope.

Only 50 meters here – on Sunday got farther to 100 m
Handgun practice is fun, too!
I guess not bad for a beginner learning how to shoot a revolver? 🙂

I’m getting used to shooting and only took some extra hydrocortisone due to the heat – we were at the range about 3 hours on both days on midday. At least I got some tan besides my bruises 🙂 . I have a lot of work to do to improve my technique but I guess that is why I like shooting so much – every little detail matters. I need to focus more on squeezing the trigger the right way and to the right direction, and holding the squeeze long enough after the shot is fired, for one. And I need to stabilize my position better, now my muscles aren’t used to static work and get tired holding a gun. I also use them too much and the wrong way to support myself. But it’s so fun and rewarding to learn!

Last set of deadlifts always feel heavy whether you are in Espoo or Hamina…

I’ve still been doing RP’s powerlifting hypertrophy template and next and fourth week will be the hardest before deload. I don’t feel extremely tired still but I know I need the extra recovery especially for my left glute which is still irritated. My sports physio now gave me new rehab+strength exercises so I’m now doing one legged hip thrusts and nordic curls twice a week before squatting and deadlifting and cable hip abduction+adduction once a week as my adductors were a bit lazy as well.

Last Sunday I did:

Hip flexor stretches

One legged hip thrust with weight 2 x 8 kg 9, 8

Nordic curl 2 x 10 reps

Block pull sumo 5 x 90 kg 9, 8, 7, 7, 7 reps

Leg extension 30 kg 11 reps, 35 kg 13 reps, 40 kg 10, 8, 9 reps

One arm DB row 5 x 22.5 kg 11, 9, 7, 7, 7

DB lateral raise 4 x 10 kg 10, 9, 9, 7, 7 reps

Full contact twist 3 x 25 kg 8, 11, 10 reps

All sets were left approximately 3 reps short of failure this week.

Here’s a video of my last set of deadlifts, I was already really wiped out:

And we did do other stuff besides lifting weights and shooting, too. The last time I got to go sightseeing in Hamina was actually two years ago, the time I had just started writing this blog. The weather was perfect and warm and sun shone so it was about time we packed ourselves and Franz into the car and drove around the town to see and visit a couple of harbors and some beaches 🙂 .

This week has still been busy, busy, busy with work and working out since I got back this Monday, but after getting some quality time with my boyfriend I feel a lot more relaxed and happy so bring it on! 🙂

xoxo,

Veera