Investing In My Wellness Helped Me Get Through the Darkness Following a Miscarriage

Grieving the loss of my baby and dealing with life during a pandemic, I found that working on my mental and physical health helped me feel more in control of my life.

How Changing My Diet and Fitness Routine Helped Me Conceive Again a Miscarriage - Pregnant woman putting raw ingredients into a blender to make fresh homemade fruits smoothie. Healthy pregnancy lifestyle concept.
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Seemingly everyone is aware of the immense sense of loss that comes with a miscarriage. But when I experienced my own loss in January 2020. one thing I didn't lose was the baby weight — it stuck around as a reminder of the child I didn't have. That 10-20 pounds, all manifested right in front, made me look just pregnant enough as I trudged back into my first exercise class post-miscarriage. Once I was there, a woman actually asked me, "Oh are you expecting?" "Well, I was," I said and proceeded to tell her about the miscarriage. (Here's a lesson: Maybe don't ask if you aren't sure?)

From then on, I realized that in order to hopefully conceive again, I was going to need a lot more than just emotional recovery. I was going to need physical rehabilitation, too. And so I set up this seemingly perfect plan in my head: I would focus even more on bettering my holistic health and, in a few months, I would try to get pregnant again. Seemed logical enough, especially since a well-rounded balanced diet, as well as regular exercise, have both been shown to boost fertility, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (

As the months ticked by, though, I realized that the timeline I set up in my head — that within a few months I'd be able to conceive again all thanks to a few healthy tweaks to my lifestyle — was not exactly perfect (or, evidently, working). Sure I was still recovering from the miscarriage and going through life with three sons all under the age of 5 during a pandemic, but I continually wondered why my body wasn't cooperating with my personal conception timeline.

I spent the next nine agonizingly long months trying to conceive, being met with single pink line after single pink line on the at-home pregnancy tests. So much of the conception process was out of my hands and that, along with the ongoing trauma from my miscarriage and the veritable chaos of the pandemic, made me feel desperate to be in control of something in my life. I needed to feel less lost and hopeless, as I did post-miscarriage.

So I turned away from my stress-inducing schedule and tendencies to eat unbalanced meals, and I turned toward a more conscientious eating style and a new, challenging fitness routine.Taking back the reigns of these elements of my health gave me the agency I was missing. And, if I'm being honest with myself, I was motivated by the evidence that suggests, for example, that a lower-carb, higher-fiber diet can actually reduce your risk of infertility. (BTW, here's how to not overdo it during early pregnancy workouts).

I quickly learned that getting in shape and changing your eating habits healthilyis as challenging and slow as everyone who is "doing it right" (aka avoiding fads and gimmicky diets) says. I ramped up my circuit-style weight lifting and cardio classes from two to four times per week, making a conscious effort to spend more time trying rather than just coasting. I also met with a certified personal trainer who suggested Istart logging what I ate in a food journal. (

Despite my best efforts, I hadn't lost any weight, which felt defeating at first. Even still, working on my wellness made me feel slightly more prepared and ready for my next pregnancy — no matter the number on the scale or whether my triceps were visible. Plus, all the exercise helped me feel more grounded and to relearn an appreciation for my body during a time in which I'd lost trust in it.

Most importantly, during this time I took a hard look at my diet, and simply put, I was far from maintaining optimal eating habits. And through my food journaling, I noticed that some of the small decisions — whether on what kinds of foods I was snacking on or the lack of proper protein and veggies on my plate — added up. (

I increased my protein and healthy fat intake drastically and listened to my body's hunger cues. Instead of obsessing over ovulation tests, I redirected my attention to my macros for the first time in my life. This helped me progress toward weight loss goals by focusing on increasing the healthy, whole foods I was missing, rather than taking foods away.

While for many "weight doesn't matter, it's about how you feel," I knew on a deep level that, for me, this wasn't completely honest. Not only was I 10 pounds heavier following my miscarriage, but I had also the remaining weight I carried from my three previous live births. I somehow felt that the extra weight was signaling to my body that it wasn't time to become pregnant again yet. ICYDK, weight extremes can alter hormone levels and throw off ovulation schedules, making it increasingly more difficult to get pregnant, according to the Office on Women's Health. As such, weight loss can be particularly beneficial for those struggling with fertility who have a certain BMI (oftentimes above 25), according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (That being said, it's important to note that BMI isn't an exact science and there's far more to someone's health than one such measurement.)

I also started following people on Instagram who inspired me to continue to build my relationship with healthy eating in a responsible way. For example, McKel Kooienga of Nutrition Stripped is a dietitian and a leading voice on mindful eating. I watched her make high-flavor bowls of beautiful and nutritious ingredients, including legumes and quinoa, spinach, and kale, and I went from thinking "wow I wish I could eat like that" to "I can eat like that!" I began to research and understand the power that certain foods can have when it comes to conception. I reduced my intake of saturated fats and sugar while increasing my unsaturated fats, whole grains, vegetables, and fish — a research-backed plan for helping to improve fertility, according to research published in Frontiers of Public Health. "While there are many factors that affect fertility, including hormone imbalances, what you can control is following a healthy lifestyle," explains Kooienga.

Weight and diet were just two-thirds of my personal equation, though: I also wanted to feel ready for the physical challenges life was going to throw my way. I wanted to prepare my body physically to carry a baby, to know I'd done everything I could to best support a healthy, growing fetus ahead of time. So, I also started weightlifting more consistently. Instead of focusing on cardio to burn calories, I worked on building strength to lift my children, heavy boxes, and, eventually, physically carry a baby in my abdomen during a potential future pregnancy. This altered mindset helped me focus more on increasing the amount of weight I could lift and less on whether working out will really burn off what I ate for lunch.

Nearly a year after my miscarriage, and just about six months after implementing my diet and fitness changes, I conceived my "rainbow baby" (which refers to a child born to parents after a loss). And, yes, I choose to personally credit my lifestyle changes to the blessing of my fourth newborn son. At the very least, they kept me sane during a tough, post-miscarriage fertility journey. Every time I got a "no" on a pregnancy test, I was able to make concrete choices to care for my mind and body, keeping me from fixating on the negative result and reminding me that I do have some control over this process. In my heart, I truly believe my ability to conceive again aligned with my ability to curl 15-pound free weights, to choose a pile of veggies over a white bread sandwich, and to be willing to adjust my mindset. (

Plus, many aspects of pregnancy were easier due to my newfound diet and exercise routine. I was able to continue working out until the start of the third trimester when some pregnancy symptoms made it too unbearable, and the strength I'd gained beforehand carried my body through the end. I felt strong and ready during my unmedicated birth, which I was able to do in multiple different positions that were better for birthing, that I wouldn't have been able to do before I'd started my prenatal exercise routine.

Finally, postpartum life was much easier finding my way back to a workout routine rather than starting totally from scratch. Now, when my kids see me exercising and choosing healthy foods, I know that the miscarriage inspired a routine and lifestyle change that makes it easier to bear. It was the silver lining of my loss and is giving me the confidence to once again regain my strength as a mom of four.

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