Tag Archives: health

Pregnancy challenges – 22 weeks

One of the themes that’s developed as I’ve written this blog has been dealing with the unexpected challenges and setbacks that are a part of being active in the outdoors (and a part of life in general). Whether those come in the form of mental blocks like fear or pushing outside of my comfort zone, or in the form of physical setbacks such as injury or ability or weather. We all have dreams and goals and ideas about how we want things to go. When something gets in the way of those, we sometimes learn more about ourselves than when everything goes perfectly. I think about that quite a bit, and so I write about it quite a bit.  Sometimes the story ends with pushing through fear or discomfort to accomplish my goals, sometimes it ends with changing plans or backing down instead. No matter the outcome, I always grow as a person. Every time.

When the situation is one in which I can’t do the things I want to, I refer back to wise words from my kettlebells instructor:

Focus on what you *can* do, not on what you can’t.

20 weeks

Me at about 20 weeks

As of writing this, I’m 22 weeks pregnant (right around 5 months), and this pregnancy is turning out to be a lesson in exactly that. Focusing on what I *can* do.

For years I’ve followed adventurous and active women who have chosen to start families. They have awed and amazed me, and helped me to believe that I could do it, too. That if I have a child I won’t have to hole up in my house and never see a piece of rock again. It’s just not true, and these women have showed me that time and again.

Many women are able to stay active throughout their pregnancies, continuing their activities with adjustments along the way. I’m grateful to women who have written about their experiences for all to see.  Erica Lineberry has had two children now. With both, she climbed hard throughout her entire pregnancies. Michelle Kobzick was ice climbing in her pregnancy harness all winter last year. Amanda Mary Perry owns a gym in Boston and just had her second baby. She made adjustments to her fitness routine, but was rocking pull-ups until the very end. I’ve watched women in my own life do the same thing. Women 9 months pregnant kicking butt at the climbing gym. And just this last year I got to see a woman in my kettlebells class train throughout her entire pregnancy. It was awesome.

I’m pretty active. I love to climb, and I love my 3x/week kettlebell classes. Both challenge me mentally and physically and have become anchors in a somewhat hectic life. As soon as I had some confidence that this baby was going to stick around, I ordered a maternity climbing harness. My plan was to climb until the baby popped out, and to keep my kettlebells training up as well.

But then there are those setbacks. The unexpected ones that don’t fit into the arbitrary goals that we set for ourselves. Mine? Pregnancy related pelvic instability that suddenly made climbing really painful. This happened sometime around 17 weeks. One week I was working on my 5.11c project at the gym, and the next week I couldn’t climb a 5.6 without a lot of pain. I thought I had injured myself somehow, but later found out that it’s very much pregnancy related, something that happens to some women, but not all. Although I can mitigate the discomfort, things probably won’t fully stabilize until I have this baby. My dreams of climbing right up until the end just went *poof*.

As far as my workouts go, I had to stop doing about half of the movements that are a regular part of our classes. They were just too painful. I knew I would have to make adjustments along the way, but never imagined the adjustments would be so dramatic so early on.

So, back to the motto: “Focus on what you *can* do, not what you can’t.” Another lesson, for me, in being flexible and adjusting my plans and expectations based on the current situation. That’s definitely not something that’s ever come naturally for me, but it’s a skill that climbing and physical training has been teaching me over the years. I’m much better at it than I used to be.

I had to reevaluate. Ask myself *why* it’s so important to me to keep climbing and training throughout my pregnancy. Turns out that the most important thing for me is staying active and feeling strong (which are good for both me and my baby). With a bit of creativity, I can still do that. I’ve made a list of movements that don’t cause any pain and my kettlebells instructor has developed a training plan for me that uses only those movements. Three times a week I can still get my heart rate up and a good sweat going. I can still lift bells above my head, I can still do push-ups and swings and cleans and snatches and planks and deadlifts. I’m able to stay active and feel strong.

New trellis for the garden

New trellis for the garden

So there’s lots that I *can* do, despite the things that have been crossed off the list. I’m keeping up some level of fitness even though my body isn’t working exactly how I’d like it to and that is awesome. Without climbing this summer, I have a little more free time, too, which I’m enjoying quite a bit. I’m a homebody at heart, and not pushing myself outside of my comfort zone feels totally fine right now. Maybe I’m not out having a bunch of great adventures, but I did build a pretty sweet trellis for my spaghetti squash yesterday.

I’m pretty amazed at what my body is doing right now. It’s incredible that it inherently knows how to grow a human being. The little one is already moving around enough for me to be able to visibly see my stomach moving. It’s weird and cool all at the same time that there’s another person in there. And at the end of this whole thing, that little person will be joining our family. Definitely worth a little discomfort and time away from the climbing walls.


Seeking Balance

I haven’t climbed in two weeks. Honestly, I haven’t climbed much since my Red Rocks trip. Partly due to some nagging injuries, partly because gym climbing seemed so bland in comparison to where I had just come from, and partly because… I was just worn out.

Climbing: just one of my happy places.

Climbing: just one of my happy places.

It’s been a busy winter, with *lots* of climbing. Lots of climbing, lots of exercise, lots of fun things with my awesome friends, much of which was centered around… climbing. On nights I wasn’t climbing I was swinging kettlebells or had something else on my calendar.

It’s been a fun year. But I missed my music. And my knitting. And all of the other things I used to do before I became obsessed with climbing. Suddenly, I missed those things a LOT.

Last week I didn’t climb at all. In fact, most nights I just stayed home. I played my banjo quite a bit. I worked on the sweater I’ve been knitting (it has cabled owls on it and has the potential to either be super cool or super uncool). I caught up on emails. Spent time with my husband, just the two of us. And generally just took it down a few notches.

I realized that I’ve been focusing so much on work, climbing, kettlebells, climbing, travel, climbing, etc… that I’ve lost touch with all of the *other* things that I love to do.


I’ve been feeling one-dimensional. On Twitter and on this blog I focus on climbing and adventure, with the occasional other thing thrown in the mix for variety. Mostly, though, I’m known as Eliz the climber, Eliz the adventurer, and sometimes Eliz the kettlebeller. As time has gone on, I’ve focused mostly on those things in my offline life as well.

I love climbing and adventuring, don’t get me wrong. They are an important part of my life. But, if this blog and my twitter account truly represented my interests, you’d see the full, 3D version:

My new album cover

My new album cover (not really)

Eliz the climber. Eliz the adventurer. Also… Eliz the musician. Eliz the audio engineer. Eliz the radio producer. Eliz the vegetable gardener, the knitter, the introvert. Eliz the not-very-good juggler. Eliz who loves the mountains, and loves Minneapolis even though it’s far away from the mountains. Eliz who draws colorful, chalked sidewalk art with the neighbor kids. Eliz the homebody, who really really likes a quiet night or three at home with nobody else around. Etcetera.

The past year or so, I’ve watched myself become more and more one-dimensional in my day-to-day life, just like my social media persona. My non-work time has become all about climbing, adventures, and kettlebells, and I’ve filled it so much with those things that there’s no room for anything else. It makes me not very fun at parties. Time to re-diversify.

It’s probably good timing, this pull I’m feeling to regain some sort of balance. I mentioned before that I’m dealing with some nagging injuries, which, if I’m smart, pulls me out of climbing and kettlebells for at least a few weeks while I rehab. I see quite a bit of banjo playing in my near future. More bike riding and concerts, more cooking and gardening and knitting. And, of course, there are always tiny adventures to be had.

Right now I’m off to fly this kite that’s lying next to me. Because I’m not heading to a kettlebells class or the climbing gym, and I suddenly have the time.


After the Whole 30

A little over a year ago, Seth, myself, and a few friends banded together for the Whole 30 food challenge. What is the Whole 30? In a nutshell, it’s 30 days of eating whole, unprocessed food. Lots of veggies, fruit, nuts, protein, etc, without the sugar, grains, and dairy. It’s 30 days of getting your body functioning well so that you really know how the things you eat affect you. We had a good experience with it, and learned quite a bit (here’s my initial report).

So that was more than a year ago. Have we kept it up? The answer: kind of.

whole30 food 2Here’s how it went. I got done with my 30 days of eating whole, unprocessed, delicious food. Tons of veggies, protein, fruit, nuts, and good fats like avocado and coconut milk. For that 30 days I cut out sugar, alcohol, dairy, and grains. I felt pretty good. Once the 30 days were over, I started eating the stuff I hadn’t been allowed to eat. I tried to add one thing at a time, but after 3 or 4 days I went into binge mode and just started eating everything in sight. And that’s when I realized how good I had really felt at the end of my Whole 30.

Now I was bloated. I was waking up with headaches and sinus pain again. The way that I had felt all the time *before* doing the Whole 30. I just felt bad.

I had a few weeks of that, and then I just wanted to feel good again. So I swung back the other way. Not because I was doing another challenge, but because I wanted to feel great again. Now it’s been over a year, and I go through cycles. At home, we very much stick to that style of eating. Our meals are often a big pile of veggies, some protein, some healthy fats, and a bit of fruit. They are delicious. If we’re having a good week of cooking at home, those leftovers go to work with me, and then I’m eating that way even *more* of the time.

It’s the times when we’re busy, don’t have time to get groceries or cook ahead when we don’t consistently eat as well. I’d say I make good decisions only about half the time when I’m eating out. Last week I passed on a sandwich and ordered a salad with walnuts and chicken on it instead. A few days later I ordered a few mini burgers and a whole lot of fries. Some weeks I’m really good about having a hard-boiled egg and a banana for breakfast. Other times I find myself with a pastry in front of me.

So, sometimes I eat well, and sometimes I don’t. And that’s ok! Seriously. Because I know now the effect that my food decisions have on how I feel, and how my body functions. That’s the biggest thing I got out of this whole experiment. I make those decisions consciously now. Keeping grains and sugar out of my diet makes me feel my best. I know that now. But, sometimes I eat a delicious cupcake. I know when I eat that cupcake that I’m going to feel a bit hazy in 20 minutes, a bit bloaty, and then I’ll crave more sugar later. The thing about it is, I know that now. And I make that decision consciously.

Here’s something: on Day 28 of my Whole 30, I did 6 pull-ups in a row, from a dead hang. The most I had ever done. I felt strong. A week later, after introducing all sorts of food groups back into my diet, my max dropped to two. Within a week. True story.

I don’t believe that there’s *one* way to eat for everyone, or *one* way to exercise. Everyone is different, and different things work for different people. The important thing is knowing how food affects you, and that’s what I’ve taken away from the Whole 30.

Wilderness First Aid

It was a cold, rainy November day. Seth and I were on a hike down by the river bottoms when we heard some groans from ahead on the trail. We turned a corner and saw a mountain bike strewn across the trail. To the side lay a woman tangled in the bushes, leg wrapped around a tree. We did a quick scan of the area and ran over to help her. She had been riding at a good clip, lost control, and landed here. The details were foggy. Her leg was obviously injured, and she had a pretty good bump on her head.

Ok… before you get too far into this, you should know that this didn’t really happen. This is a fake scenario that was presented to us in the Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course that we took earlier this month. Alright, continuing on….

Marianna's fake head wound.

Marianna’s fake head wound.

Seth held her head in case of a c-spine injury, and we had her hold a handkerchief to her head wound to stop the bleeding. We checked her airway, her breathing, and her pulse, and I did a more thorough assessment to see if there were more injuries. Her spine was sore, and her leg was most likely broken. We made her as comfortable as we could, kept her head stabilized, and I constructed a make-shift splint out of what we had on us. We decided we would need help getting her out, so we called for help and kept an eye on her vitals while we waited.

Once we were finished with the assessment, our mountain biker stood up, brushed the dirt off her pants, and we all headed back into our classroom to discuss what we had done right and what we could have done better.

This particular WFA course was through the NOLS Wilderness Medical Institute. 16 hours over a weekend. A fair amount of time was spent in the classroom learning about the basics of first aid care. We wrapped ankles, built splints out of sleeping pads, learned the symptoms of shock, hypothermia, dehydration, etc, and we learned how to give a thorough and helpful report to a rescue team if needed.

That knowledge was immediately put to use in scenarios outside, where folks would pretend to be hurt. Our injured included climbers, skiers, mountain bikers, hikers… fake blood, fake bruises, and even fake compound fractures. They were armed with details about their allergies, their medications, what they had eaten that day, and even the last time they urinated. The grand finale was rescuing a woman out of an avalanche chute. We had to make tough decisions about how many people to send in, and how much to treat before moving her (and us) to safety. By the end we had her wrapped up in a burrito to keep her warm and called for a rapid evac (after moving her out of harms way, of course).

It was a fun weekend, it was a very informative weekend, and I learned a lot. I’d recommend a course like this to anyone who’s doing any serious playing in the outdoors. I walked away feeling very fortunate that I haven’t encountered any serious injuries on a trip up to this point. Now I feel equipped to assess the severity of a situation, if it arises, and I can administer basic medical care until more definitive care can be reached. I hope I never have to use these skills, but I’m glad to have them. I’m also glad to know how to tape an ankle.

Thank you to the NOLS Wilderness Institute, and to REI for hosting this course.





Changing of the Kettlebells Guard.

The only thing constant in life is change.

That’s how the speech started. Ron had just put us through one of his grueling workouts. Purposeful and calculated, as always. Ladders of strength and conditioning in neat little packages.

He left with very little notice, and very little fanfare. He kicked our butts one last time, gave a short speech at the end of class, and he left.

If I look back through my life, I can point to a handful of people who have had a real, lasting impact on me. People who acted as mentors, either purposefully or not. People who helped to guide me, encourage me, and served as examples of what I aspire to be. Ron is one of those people. He’s passionate about training, about kettlebells, and about teaching, and his enthusiasm is contagious.

Ron leads a kettlebell demonstration in downtown Minneapolis.

Ron leads a kettlebell demonstration in downtown Minneapolis (photo courtesy of Hennepin County Government Center).

I began kettlebells at a small studio near where I work. I loved it right away, and was hooked, but a few months later, the instructor closed up shop and moved across the country. I didn’t know where to go. My husband stumbled across Southside Kettlebells on a bike ride, and I went to a class the next week. That’s where I met Ron, and that’s where I stayed.

I was still new to kettlebells, and new to strength training in general, but eager to learn, eager to improve my form, my strength, and my conditioning. Ron took me under his wing, like he did for a lot of students. He encouraged me to work hard, I developed good form, I got stronger, my fitness improved, and Ron was always there, guiding me in the right direction.

Photo credit: Hennepin County Public Affairs

Photo credit: Hennepin County Public Affairs

Ron helped me figure out how to eat correctly to fuel my body for training. He took extra time to help me correct form and meet my personal goals. I wanted to learn how to do pull-ups, Ron gave me a program to follow, progressions that would get me to my first one. And then, when I got that first strict pull-up, Ron shared it with class. Both congratulatory for me, and inspirational to others. Kettlebells training took me to the top of the Grand Teton last year, and that fitness is with me on all of my adventures. My quality of life is greatly improved, and Ron’s support has played a significant part in that.

So, for Ron… thank you. Your generosity, compassion, and dedication to your students will be missed by all who attended your classes. There are many of us who are truly your students, and a hole will be felt for quite some time. You, and your particular brand of ass-kicking workouts, will be missed at Southside.

Our Whole 30 Food Challenge

After finishing my Whole 30, I was pretty sure that I would want to do nothing but binge on cheese. And bread. And sugar. And chai lattes.

Instead, something wonderful has happened. I actually *want* to eat whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense food. A plate of protein, sweet potato, and veggies is a delicious meal. And I don’t really *want* milk in my coffee. I’m not lying.

whole30 food 2

Baked sweet potato, steak, and veggies

The Whole 30 challenge is 30 days of eating whole, unprocessed foods. Protein, veggies, fruits, nuts, healthy fats, and spices. All the good stuff. 30 days of making good food choices, with no cheating. That’s right, no cheating. No 80/20 rule. Why? Because the purpose is to form new habits and recalibrate the body’s hormones and taste buds. It worked. Somewhere around week 3 I had a tangerine, and it was heavenly. I didn’t need anything sweeter. Continue reading

3000 Pullups

The tally. Page 1.

3,000 pullups. That is our goal.

Now that I’ve joined the team of people who *can* do pullups, Seth and I have set a little challenge for ourselves. Together, we are working to rack up 3,000 pullups.

The number came about sort of randomly; at the time my max was 2 reps and his was 4, so he was going to do 2000, and I’d aim for 1000. Instead, we decided to squish it all together and work as a team for the full 3000. As you can see, he’s far ahead of me right now, but he did a full workout with pullups and squats yesterday, whereas I went to kettlebells and had only a few left in me when I got home.

We’re going to be pullup champions when this is done.

Kettlebells in the Park

We didn’t make it to our regular Tuesday evening kettlebells class last night. So, Seth and I grabbed the bells we have at the house and walked over to the neighborhood park for our own workout.

I’ve always loved the *idea* of swinging outside, and doing my own workout, but I’ve avoided it because I was self-conscious. Turns out, nobody really cared. We found our own little spot and weren’t bothered by anyone. And we got to enjoy the beautiful fall evening while we were at it. Continue reading


I’ve been on a mission to simplify my life.

Making room for the important things

It started a few years ago with my time. I was busy. Stressed. Anxious. Then, one day, I realized that the way I spend my time is my choosing. So, I made some changes and simplified my schedule. Cleared out to the essentials. Suddenly, I had a lot of open time, and that time that had previously been filled with obligations was filled, instead, by the things that I enjoyed. I had time to take walks. See my friends. Relax. Smile. Continue reading

Staying Healthy when Life Gets Weird

The blog’s been a bit quieter than usual lately. Mostly because I’ve been quieter than usual in general. I’m in the midst of a nine-month stint of overnight shifts, and my usual hermit tendencies have been amplified as a result. Numerous studies have been done on the physical effects of working at night and sleeping during the day. In addition to affecting amount and quality of sleep, it affects hormone production and very basic things about the way the body functions.

In response, I’ve been making a very conscious effort to maintain my health physically and mentally. This is always important, no matter what my situation is, but when there’s an extra item in the negative column working against me, it seems even more so.

So, here’s what I’ve been focusing on:

Continue reading