#TBT 2 years later

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2 years ago today I had my HM (heller myotomy) surgery to treat A (Achalasia)! It’s crazy the difference 2 years can make. Over the course of time since my surgery I went back to school, prepped and competed in my first fitness competition, got an amazing job at NASM, got pregnant and had a baby!

When I was first diagnosed with “A” it was super depressing. There were many days that I felt totally alone, despite the fact that I was surrounded by my hubby and great friends who were very supportive, I found myself frequently asking God “why me?!”. Finally, it was through the power of social media (and my oh so amazing hash tags) that a girl named Brie found me and reached out to me via Instagram. I have never met her in person but she also suffers from A. She introduced me to an Achalasia group on Facebook and finally I no longer felt alone.

After reading stories and posts from others suffering from the same disease my thoughts of “why me?!” Became “why not me?!”. A is relentless, it knows no age, gender, socioeconomic group or ethnicity. No two people are alike. We all suffer from different symptoms but the one thing we have in common is somewhere along the way our bodies decided to start attacking itself. I began to think to myself “God never gives you more than you can handle”. I am blessed to have been diagnosed at a young age, and because I am young fit and healthy my recovery has been quick. I was able to resume my regular activities 6 weeks after surgery and have never looked back.

My outlook on life has changed tremendously since my diagnosis. I no longer sweat the small stuff and I look at each day as another opportunity to be amazing and to be a blessing to someone else. Over the past 2 years I have had others reach out to me via social media and through my blog who are also suffering and looking for answers. Since it is a rare disease many times even the doctors don’t know what to tell people so I am always happy to lend some info and share things that did or did not work for me.

There is no cure for Achalasia so it will be something I will deal with for the rest of my life. But I am healthy and blessed to be able to eat (almost like a normal person) again. My 6 scars have faded but they will always be there to remind me that I am stronger than what tried to slowly kill me. Everyday I pray they find a cure for this and that my daughter will never have to know the struggle of Achalasia!

To those of you suffering who have questions about exercising please feel free to reach out to me 💪 I am pretty much a pro when it comes to post op activities. To those of you in the Facebook support groups and to my girl Brie, you will never know how much you have helped me through this struggle, and I am forever grateful! We are #achalasiaasskickers and we won’t let this stop us!

For more info on Achalasia visit:
http://www.achalasia.us you never know it could one day help someone you know!

See you on the flip side!

-Xoxo Izzy

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Broken not Destroyed

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This time last year I was in a hospital bed recovering from my Heller Myotomy surgery to treat #Achalasia. What a year it has been! In the past 365 days I have gained a new lease on life, a new job, new friends, and stronger bonds with my old friends and loved ones, and took home some hardware in my first fitness competition and became an official ragebabe for Rage in the Cage!
I know everything happens for a reason, and to be honest I don’t know too many people that could have endured the shenanigans I had to deal with and survived it like a boss #justsaying, but I am happy that my story has helped reach those who were suffering alone. I am thankful I can eat food like a normal person (even though I still get full super quick) but conscious of the fact that since there is no cure I will always have Achalasia. My scars have faded but are still there to remind me of the struggle that I and many have to face. I am hopeful that with the daily advances in modern medicine one day we will have the knowledge of what causes this rare disease and ultimately cure it 👊. Until then I will continue to be an advocate and hopefully a source of info for those looking for answers.

See ya on the flip side xoxo.

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#izzytakesthestage

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After months and months…….and months of anticipation it finally arrived! The ANBC Arizona Natural Physique Competition, and it was awesome! I feel sooooooo blessed to have such amazing supportive friends and family in my life which all helped to make my journey to the stage epic! After overcoming a diagnosis of Achalasia last fall while training to do my first show (more about that here) my goal was to gain weight(about 15lbs) in order to compete (bigger shoulders,wider back, and build a booty!)The show went great!!! Although my tan did start to turn green in the evening during finals (i think its the HULK in me trying to come out). I walked away with 4 trophies!!! That’s right 4! More importantly I set a goal and crushed it which is what I love to do…and I had fun (and looked good) doing it :). I also met a ton of cool new people at the show mostly everyone backstage was super friendly…the others were just mean mugging…. Big shout out to my trainer/hubby Donald, my nutrition coach Scott Keppel, and my posing coach Kelli Michelle for helping me look my best on show day! Another big shout out to everyone who came out to the show to support and all of you who have been supporting me from a distance!!!The feedback I got from the judges was that I have “really great glutes”(they better be great I’ve been on operation build a booty for 8 months and eating non stop to get those #gains!!!!) but I was borderline “too muscular for bikini…specifically my quads” (or i like to refer to them quadzilla) which I already had concerns about going into the show. Which was good feedback since that is something that can be fixed (the quad thing…I don’t have plans on softening up all over….just not for me)! I think I pretty much have competition fever now and I recently met with Donald and Scott to figure out what’s next. Since I don’t really want to get bigger and compete in figure I will keep working towards doing my 2nd Bikini show (I am pro card hungry)! So there it is! #izzytakesthestageround2 to come later this year! Until then I will be back posting my non stop gym selfies. For those of you who are #achalasiasurvivors like me I hope that my journey has been  an example that even though we are stricken with this disease which has no cure, and no known cause, there is nothing that we can not do! Like the Under Armour commercial says “I WILL WHAT I WANT”! Since I am on vacation I will keep this post short and sweet! Remember folks eat food, lift heavy and live life to the fullest!!!

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See ya on the flip side,

xoxo

 

“Sugar sugar, oh how i love you”

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So for the past couple weeks as part of my prep I have cut out sugars with the exception of pre or post workouts. I have to admit I didn’t really pay attention to the amount that I was eating until I had to cut down…some of my realizations have been SHOCKING! The Cream Top brand maple flavored yogurt I had fallen in love with from sprouts has 24grams of sugar alone!!!! I have cut my sugar intake from about 90grams a day (I was disgusted to find out I was eating that much, luckily I have the metabolism of a cheetah) to about 16grams. I have however found myself craving things that I never even ate before (note to self avoid the bakery section in Fry’s and Bashas). In my efforts to stick with things that fit with my macros #iifym I have been on a search for all things delicious yet low in sugar…#thestruggleisreal since most yummy deserts have a TON of sugars in them! On my most recent “post legday workout refeed/cheat treat” I ventured over to Dairy Queen. To avoid setting myself up for failure I checked both the DQ website as well as Myfitnesspal for the macros and sugar amounts in my favorite Strawberry Cheesequake Blizzard!  I was quite appalled to find that the mini version (remember I said mini…which is basically the kids sized version) contained this amount of sugar:

 DQ
So I ordered only half of the mini and the conversation went like this (Izzy)”Hi can I get a mini strawberry cheesequake blizzard…but I only want half of it” (DQ Girl)”Liiiiiiiike, half of the ice cream or half of the cheesecake stuff?!?!?!?” (Izzy) “half of the ice cream and half of the cheesecake…and I don’t want the other half so can you only put half in there” there was a brief pause followed by her looking at me as if I just ordered 5 newborn babies blended up  and finally I think she realized I was not joking and started making it. Well I got in the car and ate my 3 tablespoons of blizzard (seriously that was how much was in there since only half of that cup was full to begin with)

blizzard

and proceeded to the grocery store. When I arrived at the store I was on the phone with my mom telling her the story when she told me to “slow down” because I was talking so fast like I was on speed!!! That is when it clicked….OMG I just had half of a dixie cup sized portion of a DQ #diabetesinacup after being on a sugar restriction for one week and this is how my body reacted!  What I also realized was that while I was waiting for my 2 pinches of icecream to be made parents and kids were coming in by the truckload and ordering medium and large sized blizzards (insert open mouth shocked face emoji here) and then wondering why their kids are running around like crack heads! So this week I decided to try and get more “bang for my macros” when it came to serving size so I looked up mcdonalds info and realized I could have a small vanilla ice cream (with no cone) and it would fit 🙂 The icecream was delish, the size was about the same but the full portion fit my macros sugar wise 🙂 mcDONALDSAfter having my ice cream and heading to work I experienced the same effect as my DQ Blizzard had (basically a sugar high) but I was happy to have something a little bit sweet. People have asked me all the time during my prep if my food was super strict and I tell them straight up NO!  While most of my competitor friends are eating Tilapia (barffffffffff) carrots and water I have been enjoying burgers, donuts, and plenty of carbs :). If you are not familiar with the genius that is knowing and tracking your Macros you definitely want to educate yourself and if you are too lazy to look up the info yourself then head on over to CAPE to check out how we can upgrade your body and your meal plan. 

less than two weeks  until #izzytakesthestage

See ya on the flip side xoxo.

3 months later

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Its been 3 months since I had surgery for Achalasia! image I am so glad I did. Although I still have food limitations (mainly have to take small bites, drink lots of fluid with food, and eat slowly, and I get full super quick off almost nothing) I am pretty much a “normal person” in the sense that I no longer fear I will choke to death or projectile vomit while eating food! I am fully back into the swing of my workouts although my core is still not back to its full strength since they cut into me with the scope in 7 places, and my abs have yet to make a reappearance, BUT I am working hard to lift heavy, eat more and gain the size I lost while on my deathbed and then some! image The main thing people say when I see them for the first time since I was diagnosed is “well you sound great” which is ironic considering my surgery wasn’t done on my larynx I had a Laproscopic Heller Myotomy with Dor Fundoplication…but none the less its good to know people recognized my absence and were concerned :-P. I have officially decided to compete in the August OCB Show here in Mesa, AZ in the bikini division and I am PUMPED! the way my workouts and food are going I will def be ready to bring it when I hit the stage! If you follow me on FB (isabelle alexander), instagram @izzythetrainer , or twitter @izzythetrainer you’ve seen my check-ins and my hashtagging #izzytakesthestage and thats exactly what I plan to do. I will be attending the March NPC show to not only cheer on my many friends competing but I will be back stage helping out as well. I am super excited to get an all access pass of what to expect come August. I have had some Achalasia peeps reach out to me via instagram who haven’t yet had their surgery which I think is really cool. So for you #achalasiasurvivor and #achalasiaasskickers out there here is “Izzy’s list to a smooth sailing operation date” 1) top thing to puree while on ur liquid diet is chili and protein shakes. (Obvi not together) the chili will actually still taste like chili when mashed 2) dont take ur liquid pain meds on an empty stomach you will feel drunk and nauseated and you don’t wanna throw up after ur surgery cuz sneezing, coughing and even blowing your nose feels like death! 3) if u have to grocery shop bring someone with you! You have no idea how much core work is involved in pushing a shopping cart until you do it 3 days after your core has been mangled! 4) hydrate hydrate hydrate leading up to the minute your allowed to before your surgery!!!! Being dehydrated will cause you difficulty with the IV and in my case you will end up with scaring on your veins which looks and feels like bumps…gross! 5) bring with you in ur “surgery bag” a robe, loose clothes, slippers, movies to watch and peeps that love you! Visitors will make you feel better! 6) last but not least as soon as you are allowed to get up and go for laps around the hospital floor! The first time will SUCK! But don’t feel bad! Step by step you will make that lap your biatch!!! 7) as soon as your stitches come out or are dissolved and your scabs have fallen off I recommend using Scaraway silicone based scar strips $17.00 at walmart $19 at frys or kroger they really helped diminish size, color, and appearance of my scars and to help avoid keloids. image Achalasia sucks but it could be worse…you could be dead! Xoxo see ya on the flip side!! image

I’m baaaaaaack!

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image Wooohooooo so excited to be back teaching! Today was my first class back since Sept 28th todays theme was fan pride so I rocked my throwback GSU soccer t-shirt! I am so happy and excited to be back doing what I love the most! It was awesome to see some of my regular members back in class today and I hope to see everyone throughout the week. I’m teaching more classes this week so if ur free get ur butt to one: Monday 5:30pm BODYCOMBAT 24 HOUR FITNESS MESA DOBSON (neon glow theme) Tuesday 5:30pm BODYPUMP 24 HOUR FITNESS MESA DOBSON  (blackout theme) Wednesday 9am BODYCOMBAT 24 HOUR FITNESS CHANDLER (super hero theme) Wednesday 5:30pm Bootcamp 24 HOUR FITNESS MESA DOBSON  (super hero theme) Saturday 10am BODYCOMBAT 24 HOUR FITNESS MESA DOBSON! Jan 11-15th is fitfest so guests are FREE!! If you wanna come let me know and I will get you hooked up! Today was a good day! Even my scars are getting better they have flattened out and have faded a lot. image Fingers crossed they will go away all together! Now its Sunday so I gotta get back to clipping coupons and drinking this stuff so  my throat will stop feeling like sickness is coming on!! See ya on the flip side xoxo

Onward and Upward

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I am so thankful for the family and friends in my life. New friendships have blossomed and old ones have continued to grow stronger. I am super thankful for my husband, without him I’m not sure I could have gotten through the year with my sanity. Tomorrow begins a new chapter to the book we call life. I am so excited to see what 2014 brings for my family and friends. I embark on a new adventure returning to school in January and I am looking forward to see what blessings God has in store for the Alexander household. The ups and downs 2013 brought taught me to be greatful for every experience whether it be good or bad, there is always something to  learn from and grow from. Goodbye 2013, hello 2014 this will be a year full of greatness! Be safe tonight,  don’t drink and drive if you need a ride feel free to call me i’ll scoop you up! I love each and every one of you! See you on the flip side xoxo!
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