Finding Fertility Balance – An Infertility Nutritionist Shares Goals for 2016
As we close out 2015, I find myself looking back. Not just at 2015, but further back still. We human beings mark time, some of us more than others. Even those of us who don’t notice birthdays or anniversaries have no choice but to take notice of New Year’s Eve.
It demands attention. We have the next day off, most of us. There are all sorts of celebrations, festivities, parties and more. Even if we are trying our best to avoid it, it’s in the stores. It’s on TV. It’s on social media.
Infertility marks time too. Not in ways that engender celebrating. Looking back and seeing the time spent without the babies we are longing for can be heart wrenching. We know that. That’s why we’re here. For you.
PathtoFertility is yours. It was created for you, about you, to send a message each day that we are most concerned with you. PathtoFertility is now six years old plus. And in looking back, I find treasures that are sometimes now half buried.
Here’s a treasure from 2011, written by Carolyn Gundell, MS, one of the Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut, (RMACT) fertility nutritionists.
Some things are changed to reflect this year 2015 and the coming year, 2016. Otherwise, I’m leaving it as is. Carolyn’s a wonderful writer. And this is a wonderful foretelling of RMACT’s new program for 2016 – #OneSmallChange. Read all about it on January 1, 2016.
Enjoy. ~ Lisa Rosenthal
How soon do your New Year’s resolutions start to take a back seat to shoveling, cleaning up after leaky roofs, and work-life commitments? Despite your best intentions, do you keep reminding yourself of the resolution(s) you have yet to accomplish— lose weight, exercise, stop smoking, get pregnant?
It is your time to try a fresh new approach to 2016 resolutions without the added stress, pressure, and sense of failure that infertility patients too easily put upon themselves. Researchers agree infertility causes a great deal of psychological and physical stress and more recent scientific evidence reveals that this stress can also delay conception. 1
Why should it take a new year to make a resolution? Well, I think that some of us may need this ritual to set intentions that bring meaning to our lives. It is a time to remember what we have learned and to make promises to ourselves to make better lifestyle choices. So, why do millions of Americans find that by February their New Year’s resolutions have become distant memories? Research conducted at Harvard Medical School reveals that failure to follow through on New Year’s resolutions might have more to do with the actual goals chosen and the strategies we choose to try to reach these goals. Many resolutions ask us to do better than we have in the past.
Finding Fertility Balance in 2016
On the flip side, wouldn’t it be nice if your New Year’s resolutions could help you catch your breath, help you to remember your desired purpose in life, help you to recognize your successes, and help you to have a baby? I believe that we have a greater chance of turning our goals into success if we recognize that with each breath comes new opportunity. Throw the old resolutions out the window and start practicing self compassion and look for different ways to reinvent yourself. Stop the self-evaluation and criticism. This can be a great year to re-balance mind and body— to improve health, fitness, peace of mind, and fertility— and to have a baby.
The following listed resolutions and resources aim to help you create fertile balance, reduce stress and to help support your RMACT physicians with your fertility treatment plan.
Eight Fertile Resolutions for the New Year
1) Make an Appointment for your Annual Health Checks.
When women become very busy with their fertility treatment visits, often times these very important medical visits get postponed. Maintaining regular dental, gynecological, eye care, and physical exams is very important for pre-conception care and your healthy and successful pregnancy. 2
Ogle, Amy and Lisa Mazzullo. Before Your Pregnancy-A 90 Day Guide for Couples on How to Prepare for Healthy Conception.New York: Ballantine Books, 2002.
2) Don’t Count Calories, Count Healthy Fertile Foods.
Restricting foods can lead to feelings of frustration, food cravings, and deprivation. Eating balanced and structured meals made with nutritious foods will decrease stress, fat percentage, diabetes and cholesterol risk, and at the same time, increase immune response and fertility. Practice mindful eating and fertility diet recommendations. Preconception is not the time to go on fad and restricted diets or herbs and supplements without MD approval. Eating should be enjoyable and not stressful. So drop the calorie counting approach and count the colorful fruits and vegetables on your plate instead. There are no good and bad foods. Come to one of my seminars or individual sessions to rebalance your nutrition and your body.
Willet, Walter and Jorge Chavarro. The Fertility Diet. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.
Ward, Elizabeth. Expect the Best-Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During & After Pregnancy. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2009.
3) Get Moving Daily.
10,000 daily steps can reverse diabetes risk and that means gestational diabetes as well. 3 Physical activity can also lower stress levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. Activity does not need to be intensive, just consistent and enjoyable. Pregnancy is not a time to start new activity so find realistic ways to enjoy daily movement now and throughout your pregnancy. Try tennis, swimming walking, snow shoeing, Zumba, or biking.
4) Practice Self-Compassion.
When we accept ourselves just as we are, we are able to accept change. Eat to nurture and be physically active without self-judgment. Change is often challenging. Remember to love yourself first and change will follow. Be realistic and recognize every small step as positive. Choose goals that match your own interests and values rather than responding to outside pressures. If you are a perfectionist this may be helpful in staying on track, but be careful to not set a goal with too high expectations. If you procrastinate don’t punish yourself, start with baby steps and acknowledge your progress.
Fain, Jain. The Self Compassion Diet. Colorado: Sounds True Inc., 2011.
5) Be Aware of Stress and Respond to It.
Prolonged stress increases risk for hypertension, diabetes, overweight, sleep disturbances, and infertility. Practicing stress reducing techniques such as Tai Chi, Fertile Yoga, exercise, meditation, and seeking out mental health support can be very helpful.
Cheung Lillian and Thich Nhat Hanh. Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life. New York: Harper One, 2010.
Domar, Alice and Alice Lesch Kelly. Conquering Infertility. New York: Penquin Books, 2004.
6) Changes, One at a Time
Small steps reduce anxiety and move us forward. Break larger jobs into smaller ones. Several small, practical changes add up to be big behavioral progress that lasts long term. Pick a resolution carefully and back it up with concrete change strategy.
Harvard Medical School, Simple Changes, Big Rewards. Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu
7) Jump into Life – “Life itself is the proper binge.” Julia Child
Remember to laugh. Be spontaneous. Don’t forget date night with your spouse. Listen to music, dance, and be mindful.
8) Reach For Support & Be An Active Participant in RMACT
Connect with RMACT services. We are here to support you and your fertility plan with MD and nursing support, acupuncture, Fertile Yoga, Ladies Night In, individual and group nutrition education, health seminars, and individual and group infertility support. Connect with friends. Sometimes it helps to find a buddy or let someone know that you are working on a resolution
So here I go, my New Year’s resolution is….. I have always wanted to take up Tai Chi and I have decided this is my year. Doesn’t this just sound great? “Experience the gentle flowing, movements of Tai Chi and treat your whole body to a gentle and relaxing workout. Say hello to feeling cool, calm, refreshed and energized. Just 15 minutes a day is your passport to better health, fitness, peace of mind and so much more, as your mind and body work in harmony for superb results.”
Hello Tai Chi!
1. Shapiro, Connie. “New Research on Stress and Infertility.” Psychology Today.com 20 August 2010.<http: //www.psychologytoday.com>
2. Please check the RMACT event calendar for upcoming events and programs.
3. Bumgardner, Wendy. “Top 9 Best Pedometers.” About.com. 4 July 2010 <http://walking.about.com/od/measure/tp/pedometer.htm>
About Carolyn Gundell, M.S.
Carolyn Gundell, M.S. is a nutritionist, specializing in PCOS and fertility. With over 20 years of nutrition experience, Carolyn has a special interest in helping women with conditions that affect fertility, including insulin resistance, diabetes Type1/Type 2, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), lipid disorders, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, underweight and overweight concerns. Carolyn earned her M.S. in Nutrition from Columbia University and completed her undergraduate studies in Biology/Nutrition at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. She is trained as a Research Associate in Clinical Skills Training, and is certified in HIPAA, CPR, First Aid and Food Safety & Sanitation. Previously, Carolyn worked at Pediatric Endocrine & Diabetes Specialists, The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, both in Norwalk and at Yale University Medical Center’s Obesity, Diabetes, PCOS Clinic and The Yale Fertility Center.