Heat Waves And Waiting Game

I’m writing this in my underwear at our wonderfully “warm” home during the biggest heatwave for a long time in Finland. It has been +25-30 degrees Celcius for weeks now and it shows no end. I would be very much enjoying this if it wasn’t for my adrenal insufficiency and being 35+6 weeks very, very pregnant… 🙂 No, actually, I’m not complaining. With a good fan and lots of fluids and rest I’ve felt pretty good this whole time. At the gym it’s not so hot (it could be cooler, I admit) and I’ve already had to almost quit walking due to pelvic pain and only do crosstrainer workouts indoors (with the fan on max!).

I haven’t had the energy to write more often as this end of pregnancy has been a bit tiring, and I’ve tried to finish most of the studies I can and also arrange my work so that there is no need to do coaching stuff right after giving birth. But I do have to continue stuff like coaching and my Precision Nutrition Level 2 nutrition coach studies pretty soon, though. When you’re self employed there’s no such thing as long maternity leaves if you still want to keep your business and clients… This year, something new and wonderful is happening with my coaching career but it’s a secret for some time still. I’ll sure shout it out when I’ allowed to! 🙂

I’m now an officially certified Pre- & Postnatal coach from Girls Gone Strong Coaching Academy!! ❤ ❤ In the future when I get back to more regular work schedule I’m starting my own pre- and postnatal training groups as well as plan some support group action for mothers. I’m really excited!!

A couple of weeks ago, I attended Finnish Fitness Alliance’s national summer camp with my client who is aiming to compete in wellness fitness. We had a great time and I enjoyed seeing my coach friends from last year’s course. I was able to go to almost all activities, but due to my asthma and the indoor air quality problems they have in the venue’s gym I was unable to attend the gym sessions. But the lectures were great, and especially the posing sessions for us coaches! I have to admit I was completely wiped out after the weekend and could only sleep and sleep…

You can still pose when very, very pregnant! 🙂

I promised to write about the workouts I’ve been doing. Now I’ve been able to hit the gym still 2-4 times per week depending on how I feel, and do endurance training 1-2 times per week. I’ve had no contractions or any adverse effect from training. I try to listen to my body, and when I’m tired I do easier and shorter workouts with more reps in reserve, but when I’ve felt well I can still do pretty hard workouts on machines especially, leaving only 1-2 reps in the tank.

I could squat and deadlift until about week 24-25, but then I started to have ligament issues, pelvic and back pain, and actually my back muscles got so tight I started to develop diastasis recti – separation of rectus abdominis muscles – a bit early just because the fascia in my backside were so tight they pulled the muscles apart. I went to a pelvic floor physio for that and after she treated the tight connective tissue the separation disappeared. Diastasis is normal in pregnancy as the abdomen stretches, but having it early on isn’t good and hard lifting would have made it worse. The pelvic floor physio also helped by looking with ultrasound if I could activate my core muscles correctly and keep the diastasis off in other lifting movements I changed the heavy squats and deadlifts into. I’m going to see her again after giving birth to get assessed on recovery to lifting etc. She also suggested I’d buy a corset to help support abdominal muscles after giving birth. You can read more about diastasis recti here.

I’m sorry for the workout programs below are messy, somehow the text editor got completely wacky when I copied them from my workout diary and wouldn’t let me fix them 😦 . I hope everyone can still figure these out.

Second Trimester Training program with powerbuilding (powerlifting plus bodybuilding work emphasis) :

WORKOUT 1

Face pull 4 x 12-15 reps
+PAIRED SET
High bar squat 4 x 8-10 reps
Rear delt raise DB 3 x 12-15 reps
+PAIRED SET
Hip thrust 3 x 8-12 reps
Full contact twist (20 kg barbell) 3 x 12-15 reps
+PAIRED SET
Leg curl 3 x 8-12 reps

All paired sets are done with about 30 second rest between exercises and 60-90 second rest between sets. I add sets, weight and reps, depending on exercise, almost every week for 2-3 weeks, then deload by reducing both weight and reps 30-50% for one week.

WORKOUT 2

Low cable row 3 x 6-8 reps
+PAIRED SET
Bench press 3 x 6-8 reps
Calves sitting 3 x 12-15 reps
 +PAIRED SET
Belt squat 3 x 8-10 reps
DB incline bench press 3 x 8-10 reps
+PAIRED SET
Upright cable row 3 x 8-12 reps

WORKOUT 3

Pulldown wide neutral grip 2 x 8-10 reps
/ DB bicep curl 2 x 12-15 reps
+PAIRED SET
Deadlift 65 kg 8, 60 kg 10, 10, 9
Face pull 3 x 12-15 reps
+PAIRED SET
Belt squat 3 x 8-10
Cable press down 3 x 12-15 reps
+PAIRED SET
Calves standing 3 x 12-15 reps
WORKOUT 4
Bench press 4 x 6-8 reps
+PAIRED SET
Low cable row 4 x 6-8 reps
Cable upright row 3 x 12-15 reps
+PAIRED SET
Pulldown wide neutral grip 3 x 8-10 reps
Calves sitting 3 x 12-15 reps
+PAIRED SET
Side delt raise 3 x 8-12 reps
You can see that most muscle groups are trained 2-3 times per week so training frequency is still at least intermediate but not too high to compromise recovery. Paired sets / supersets save time, and allow me to still train some endurance elements by keeping my heart rate a little bit up between sets.

Third trimester sample lifting program with 2 workouts from Girls Gone Strong Moms Gone Strong program and two own bodybuilding workouts :

WARMUP & MOBILITY before training (from Moms Gone Strong):
10 mins crosstrainer
Swiss ball rock 10+10+10
Clamshell 20 reps
BW squat 15
Wall slide 10
Deep BW squat hold 30s
Puppy pose 5-10 breaths
WORKOUT 1 (from Moms Gone Strong Program)
Biceps curl db 4 x 12 reps
+SUPERSET
Reverse lunge 4 x 10 reps
I had to change the lunge at one point to leg press, as putting weight more on one side caused pelvic pain, which is quite common especially at late stages of pregnancy.
Half-kneeling cable row 3 x 12 reps
+SUPERSET
Half-kneeling cable pallof press 3 x 10 reps
Side lying leg raise with miniband 3 x 15 reps
WORKOUT 2 (Moms Gone Strong)
Hip thrust w/miniband around knees 3 x 15 reps
+SUPERSET
Straight arm cable pulldown 3 x 12 reps
Offset goblet squat 3 x 12 kg 6-8 reps
+SUPERSET
Single arm incline db bench press 3 x 10 kg 10 reps
Half-kneeling cable lift 3 x 10 reps
WORKOUT 3
One arm incline db bench press 4 x 12-15 reps
+SUPERSET
Half kneeling cable row 4 x 12 reps
Face pull 3 x 12-15 reps
 +SUPERSET
Straight arm pulldown + single leg lift 3 x 12 reps
DB lateral raise 3 x 12-15 reps
+SUPERSET
Calves sitting 3 x 12-15 reps
WORKOUT 4
Leg extension 3 x 10-12 reps
+SUPERSET
Leg curl sitting 3 x 8-12 reps
Hip thrust + miniband around knees 4 x 10-12 reps
+SUPERSET
Face pull cable 4 x 12-15 reps
DB lateral raise 3 x 10-12 reps
+SUPERSET
Calves sitting 3 x 12-15 reps
You can find the Moms Gone Strong program here – I strongly suggest you get one if you are pregnant, the workouts were a great addition to my own lifting and I feel that the extra mobility drills were also really needed 🙂 . If you are interested in videos of exercises described here, you can find the exercise library here.
You can be hot & fit mama even at the last weeks of pregnancy! ❤
Posing & loving my belly ❤ ❤
Half kneeling cable row – a great exercise for both back and core muscles!

Regarding my diet, I haven’t had any hypoglycemic attacks now, but still get a bit low blood sugar levels from time to time. I always drink whey protein drink and eat some candy during working out, as it’s the most risky time for me to get hypoglycemic. Otherwise I eat healthily 90% of time with lots of veggies, a bit less fruit, whole wheats etc. Protein comes mostly from cottage cheese and other milk products, meat, and some fish (although I really can’t stand it anymore but I force it down) and pulled oats. Chicken is somehow still making me sick. I drink a casein protein shake before bed. Fats I get from fatty fish 2-3 times per week, nuts, nut butters and vegetable oils.

I’ve been taking a lot of supplements as I don’t get everything from food. I’ve worked with a registered dietitian with that. I’ve been taking maternity vitamin+mineral supplement but on top of that I take vitamin C for my thyroid, and combine it with iron once a day as my ferritin levels were going down, and also with glycine. Glycine is an amino acid that is used to make collagen = all new connective tissue for the baby and mother also needs it as our tummies grow. I also take vitamin B5 because of my blood sugar issues, and have taken Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG lactic acid bacteria as it’s shown to reduce babies’ allergies especially if mother has asthma and atopic tendencies. I took omega-3 supplements until week 32, but I quit after that as there is some risk that they can induce more bleeding during delivery. So now I try to eat fish and other sources of omega-3 (but you have to notice that some sources like certain seeds and algae are not recommended during pregnancy due to pollutants and too much iodine, and plant sources contain ALA that is not easily changed into DHA and EPA, the most important omega-3s).

My baby boy Leo has now been better. He’s had trouble growing and I’ve been followed on university hospital because of that. We have our next official control on week 37+0 and I hope everything’s fine then. This has been sometimes very tough, as every second time he was growing poorly and they even talked about having to induce labour or plan a C-section early because of that. Now it seems that we can safely wait for natural labour to start. I have to admit it scares the heck out of me due to adrenal insufficiency and worrying how my meds are handled during the birthing process. It would be great if we both lived through it, and also to be conscious during the whole thing… There seems to be different guidelines how to handle the delivery depending on hospital, and I think I’m just smuggling my own meds with me. One friend I know got up to 50 mgs of hydrocortisone im every 6th hour, for me the plan is 25 mgs iv every 6th hour. We haven’t talked yet what I will do at home when the contractions start. I guess I will have to inject but no endo has taken that into account and the OB/GYNs at the hospital of course cannot tell what to do, it’s not their field of expertise. In another uni hospital they bragged to my friend they have “lots of experience” with AI as they’d had 5 Addison patients give birth there in 3 years…

I’m seeing a friend OB/GYN this week for extra ultrasound ❤ . If I’m up to it, I’m hoping to write something before delivery. I still aim to continue working out through the end of my pregnancy. My plan is to do 2-3 lifting workouts and 1-2 endurance workouts per week. Otherwise I’ll at least try to rest, read something, chill, and sleep around the clock 🙂 .

xoxo,

Veera

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

Anxious And Overworked, But Hopeful

I seem to be able to write really seldom these days. The matter is I’ve been absolutely overworked and tired. I’ve done my usual consulting physician’s work and started my personal trainer studies, and on top of that had to start renovating an apartment I own and have been renting after a tenant left it in a bad shape… And of course I’ve tried to work out as usual. I had to end my diet last month as I was so tired with all my responsibilities I didn’t see a point in continuing a diet which would be an extra stressor.

I have also been anxious, probably due to all the stress and hurry. I worry about a dozen little things every day and chastise myself for not being efficient enough, smart enough, good enough doctor/athlete/friend/human/etc. I wanted to write about this as I know I’m not by far the only person in the world who feels this way in a modern society where people are valued based on what they do, how they look, how they perform… I’m sorry I don’t have an easy answer how to get rid of these feelings of worthlessness. If I did I wouldn’t see a therapist. My resting heart rate has gone up from 65 to 72 bpm and I wake up frequently in the middle of the night and my sleep seems to be much lighter than normally.

I’ve found some comfort by talking to my friends and other people who also suffer from same problems and by thinking about my core values – what is important to me in life and how can I incorporate things that make me happy into everyday living?

So here’s an impromptu list what I’ll try to add more of to my days:

  • Seeing my friends, making new ones and having fun
After a great, sweaty crosstraining session with my fellow pt course students 🙂
  • Reading more fiction

  • Taking long walks with Franz ❤

  • Remember to incorporate light, recovery exercise I also enjoy
    Relaxing in the pool after our gym instructor course training session
  • Managing my sleep better by getting to bed early enough, taking melatonin and meditating

  • Lifting hard and heavy but not too seriously 😉

  • Last, but not least – spending time with my man ❤ ❤ (who I see way too rarely)

This is just a phase in my life and right now the amount of stress is huge, but I know things will get better in the long run – in the meantime I have to be more mindful and forgiving to myself. I know I take too much responsibilities and try to manage every aspect of my life and often others’ as well. I have to remind myself I’m only one person and a disabled one on the top of that. If I want to be able to help others I have to start with myself.

xoxo (to myself as well),

Veera

Who’s Afraid Of The Big, Bad Endo vol. 2

Cortisone is a miracle drug. It keeps me and other people with adrenal insufficiency alive. It’s not your enemy, it’s your savior. It’s the thing that keeps you pushing forward when going gets tough.

The instinctual drive to survive and stay alive is strong. It’s ingrained to all living creatures, including humans. Medicine is supposed to heal the sick and wounded and alleviate pain and suffering. It’s what you expect your doctor to do when you visit her / him.

So, considering those above facts, how is it that when our endocrinologist suggests that we lower our cortisone dose dramatically, or even with secondary adrenal insufficiency patients, wean off altogether, we are called emotional, hysterical, overdramatic, mental?

How would you react if you went to the doctor and your doctor started to contemplate aloud whether to cut off your legs, lobotomize you or simply put you off your misery by execution? In my opinion, we adrenal insufficiency patients are way too well-mannered and proper when we simply sit and listen to those threats year after year without yelling, throwing things and surging out of the doctor’s office screaming after restraining order.

But hey, that’s just me.

Starbuck said it.

xoxo,

Veera

Back To Diet Mode Again

How fast time flies… I returned to work two weeks ago, and luckily have coped better than I expected. No stupid mistakes or brain fog. That’s thanks to my wonderful colleagues and friends who talked sense into my thick skull and got me to start taking my SNRI medication again. That was one of the medications I wrote about earlier that I was trying to quit in my post Not F***ing Giving Up. SNRIs are a group of drugs called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake and are used used to treat depression. The drug I was taking, venlafaxine, can also increase pain tolerance and alertness. At least it did both of those things with me. The withdrawal symptoms were only getting worse and also my mood darkened so I had no choice if I wanted to be able to function normally but to start taking venlafaxin again. I know there is a possibility that with enough weeks of suffering and triple-dosing cortisone might hae helped but as I really had to return to work I saw this wasn’t a viable option at the moment. I had to choose the lesser of two evils. Now I feel both mentally and physically fine – at least most of the time 🙂 .
This might not have been the perfect moment to start a new diet, but… Well, I kinda did. What can I say? An idiot is always an idiot… And I wanted to stick to the plan I had made earlier about starting a diet together with my man and a couple of friends so we could cheer and support each other. Now I decided minimal fuss with no progress pictures or measurements, and only twice-weekly weigh-ins. The diet plan is the same I used last summer, provided by Renaissance PeriodizationSo far in 3 weeks I’ve lost 2,9 kilos weighing now 65,1 kg. Perfectly on track! – thanks to RP! 🙂 I plan to diet another 4-5 weeks only, maybe cutting the diet even shorter if necessary health-wise. Now I had to increase my daily dose of cortisone by up to 33% going from 30 mg hydrocortisone equivalent amount of prednisolone to 40 mg. It’s still within limits of what can be expected as I just got back to working again so it’s a “new” stressor, and it’s perfectly normal that when dieting, cortisol values will rise in normal, healthy people, even up to double amounts.
I also started a new hypertrophy program for powerlifters, again courtesy of Renaissance Periodization. I can’t wait for my next mass season and the huge muscle gains with this! So far I’ve done 2 of the 4 workouts, all full-body sessions. Love the volume and the pump! Still leaving the sets 3 reps short of failure, with intensity increasing every week until deload by increasing weight used and leaving less reps in the tank.
Workout 1:
Stiff legged deadlift from deficit 3 x 60 kg 6, 7, 7
Belt squat 5 x 15 kg added weight 11, 11, 10, 11, 9
This is a new favorite of mine! Check down below for video of the movement 🙂
Wide grip bench press 3 x 42.5 kg 8, 10, 10
High bar good morning 3 x 40 kg 8, 8, 8
Ab wheel standing (assisted, with rubber band) 3 x 6, 6, 6
Workout 2:
Hack squat 7 x 30 (added weight) kg 6, 7, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6
Incline DB press 6 x 15 kg 7, 7, 6, 4, 5, 7
Parallel pullups machine assisted 4  x -20 kg 6, 6, 6, 5
Cable upright row 3 x 45 kg 7, 6, 6
Sit ups w/twist 5 kg plate 3 x 12, 10, 8
Here’s a great video of Marisa Inda, one of my favorite female powerlifters, training squat and also my new favorite movement, the belt squat. I have a relatively strong back compared to my quads so it’s an absolute must to start doing. I love the burn I get doing this ❤ !
Wishing all a great next week,
xoxo,
Veera