Going vegan was not a huge life battle for my husband or myself – the decision was quite easy once we really sat down and thought about what we were putting in to our bodies and at what cost. I spent most of my adolescent and teen years in the North Bay Area of California in the punk music scene where veganism and vegetarianism were as common as Converse All Stars. A fair amount of my friends was vegan or vegetarian and I myself was vegetarian for a good part of my junior and senior years of high school. So, when my husband and I fully committed to veganism two years ago, our families were not surprised and our friends didn’t bat an eye.
At the time of my transition into veganism, I was 28 years old and weighing my heaviest at 212lbs. In the beginning, going vegan was not about weight loss for me, rather a personal stand for my beliefs, the health benefits are just an added perk. It wasn’t until my two friends are I decided to trade our girl’s night out for girl’s night at the gym, that I truly found how beneficial a balanced vegan diet and proper exercise was to my health and mental wellbeing. My workouts were strong, my mind clear, and the weight started to melt off. I lost 10lbs within the first month and by the third month into the gym, I had lost a total of 40lbs. As the weight fell off, I gained more confidence in myself and my abilities, so much so, that I traded my trusty elliptical for the scary treadmill. Running was hard, really hard.
My first full complete mile without stopping took me over 12 minutes and I was thrilled! I had never been a runner, nor did I ever want to become one. I however, loved the challenge it brought and I kept it up, each time furthering my distance a little more. The three of us continued to push each other with our running and decided to join a local running group – The Sloppy Moose Running Club. This is a group of individuals from all backgrounds of running who meet once a week to do a 3-4 mile run and enjoy a cold beer after at a local brewery. We joined the Sloppy Moose Running Club the November of 2015 just before my 29th Birthday and it was nerve wrecking. Before this, I had never run outside with so many other people. I had no idea how I looked, how I would stack up, or if I could even run the three miles – running was still very difficult for me. November 5th, 2015 – I ran three miles in 32:34 – THREE FREAKIN’ MILES WITHOUT STOPPING!!! I’ll never forget this night. This was the night that I became inspired by those around me and my own abilities that I convinced my friends to run a Half Marathon with me. I found a 12-week training program online, the date was set for March 13th, 2016; we were on track to run Sacramento’s Shamrockin’ Half Marathon.
The day of the half marathon quickly approached, and we were all ready! We had followed our training schedule to the mile, my husband and I personalized our race bibs with “GO VEGAN” and 13.1 miles later, we all crossed the finish line with shiny new medals to prove it! That was it – I was hooked! I was a runner. A strong vegan runner who was more than capable. I made a list of running goals for my 30th year on this planet; every month I will run a race, I will do no less than three half marathons, and I will end my year with the California International Marathon here in Sacramento in December. So, this year, at the age of 30, I set out to run my second half and only my third race ever – again choosing to run the Shamrockin’ Half to beat my pervious time of 2:12:07. My training was on point! I had dropped my box gym membership and joined a specialized studio that helped build my muscles and strengthen my cardio through high intensity hot pilates classes. My miles were getting faster with every run, my breathing was under control, and I was set to break the 2hr half marathon mark.
March 12, 2017, my husband and I hit the pavement feeling stronger than ever and more prepared for this half than our first one. We found the 9min pacer and stuck with the heard for the first 6.5 miles, at mile 7 I hit my wall. I was beat. I had to stop and walk to take my Huma Gel and sip on my water. I watched as the 9min pacer sign ran out of view and I felt tears sting the backs of my eyes. I wanted this so badly but physically I could not will my legs to move at the pace I desired. All my hopes for a PR were fading. For the next mile, I would run a minute or two then must walk again. My mind was racing and I turned to my husband and blustered out my thoughts: “Babe, I’m sure this is the last thing you want to hear right now, but when we get home I think we need to take a pregnancy test…”
I finished my second half marathon with my supportive husband by my side the whole race and my parents waiting at the finish line at a time of 2:15:04. Three minutes SLOWER than my previous year. This was not the time I projected for myself and I felt defeated. My husband lovingly reminded me that the time of the race does not matter, what mattered was that even though I wanted to quit, I didn’t – I pushed through and I crossed that finish line. Shortly after our mini celebration at the finish line, we quickly rushed home and to the pharmacy for a pregnancy test. My whole morning was consumed by times down to the minute – but nothing felt longer than the three minutes it took for my at home pregnancy test to reveal its little secrets.
“PREGNANT” read across the little digital screen; was this real? “Don’t F#@k with me!” said my husband who was wide eyed sitting at the kitchen table. So, a second test under his watchful eye was completed to confirm. With both of us staring intently at the second test, the most perfect little blue positive sign appeared. Tears of fear and excitement filled our eyes. In just that little moment, our whole lives were forever changed. My year of goals I had made for myself just months prior were easily swapped for bigger better ones – I landed an even bigger PR than I could ever imagined. We are going to be parents! My husband went into over drive in the sweetest way possible. He ordered a new water pitcher to ensure I am drinking only the best filtered water, a few days later “Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide” arrived at the door, and we were ordering Deva vegan prenatals, DHA, B12, and Iron supplements for baby brain food.
I am 13 weeks along as I write this, and our little nugget is growing stronger every day on a plant based diet. All of my labs are well within normal ranges and there are no signs of deficiency in me or the baby. We have had the opportunity to watch our baby grow from a blueberry, to a gummy bear, into an actual little human the size of a plum complete with fingernails and fingerprints! I feel very lucky to have found out so soon as I want to be able to enjoy every moment I can. So far, my enjoyment comes in little bursts of energy that I am promised will get better once I am out of my first trimester. As a first-time mom, I am blown away by the fatigue, the amount of food aversion, and intense nausea I get at night when I lay down to go to bed. To me, the food aversion and nausea are the easiest to deal with. A little sad at times with the aversion as I can barely stand the smell of some of my favorite snacks. What’s most frustrating and hard for me to hide my emotions from is the fatigue. I work as a Urology Nurse in a very fast paced high procedure clinic, and there’s days that I come home from work and can’t move from the couch. I have never felt this level of exhaustion before in my life.
Since finding out I am pregnant, I have gone on a total of eight runs; eight runs all no more than three miles in the last two and half months. Prior to my pregnancy, I was averaging 50-60 miles a month; but right now, I simply have not had the energy or stamina to do more than this. I know I sound as if I am being hard on myself, but truly I am not. I want other expecting moms to know that its ok to rest, to not log the miles you were pre-pregnancy or that you feel you should. Your body is doing amazing things all throughout the day even when you are asleep and your baby needs you to rest now more than ever so it may thrive and do great things of its own. Don’t worry about the lack of running now, there will be plenty of running later!