It’s Friday! And I’m pleased to welcome Sara Ryerson onto the podcast. Sara has an amazing story to share, and I think you’re going to just love it and resonate with it on a deep level, because of how she shares her experience. She dealt with an unexpected pregnancy and has experienced transformations both before having a child and after pregnancy. So let’s get into today’s “I Did It” episode.
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/182
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- Being in control and having so much freedom in making choices both enjoyable and effective (8:22)
- One’s success is inevitable and anything is possible (8:22)
- Making peace with one’s body (15:28)
- The beauty of having the community in BAB programs (0:47, 11:39)
- Learn to accept things and let go of control (11:39, 18:15)
- Life gives us lessons that we’re meant to learn (19:12)
- A powerful version of oneself (20:52, 22:14)
- It’s okay to not have everything figured out (23:58)
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You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 182.
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife, and mom of four. Each week, my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Amber B 0:47
Hey, hey, hey. Welcome back to another Friday episode of biceps after babies Radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke. And this is a continuation of our “I Did It” Series where we share stories of women who have done it so that you can start to believe that you can do it too. Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Ryerson. And I'm really excited for her to share her story. I do want to start this episode off though with a trigger warning that we do talk about miscarriage, we do talk about pregnancy, we talk about some pregnancy trauma, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety. So if those are triggers for you, I would probably invite you to not listen to this episode. Because we do talk about those topics in a pretty open and honest way. And I'm really grateful for Sara that she's willing to do that, because I think these topics are ones that can really be clouded in shame for a lot of women. And I think the more that we can share, and talk about them and bring them out into the light, the better it's going to be for all women, so that you don't feel alone going through these things. And that was the thing that Sara communicated to me ahead of time. Before we hit record, she said that one of the reasons she's sharing this is because when she shared inside of our private group, and the women in that group just like rallied around her and made her not feel alone and made her feel like she wasn't weird for having some of these thoughts and these feelings, that that was really a turning point for her to be able to help her get through this experience. And so she really wanted to have other people be able to have that experience of recognizing that the more we can talk about this, the more we don't have to cloak it or hide it in shame, the better it is women are going to be able to work through this experience and come out on the other side. And Sara just has an amazing story that I think you are going to just love and some of you are going to resonate with on a deep level because she shares such an amazing story of her experience.
Amber B 2:54
Before we dive into that episode, though, if this is your second or more episode that you've listened to, and you have not yet left a review, it would mean the world to me, if you push pause right now head to iTunes and leave a rating and review. I mean, if you're listening to more than one episode, you're coming back for a reason. Take it as a sign that you're actually enjoying these episodes and do that one little thing for me, it would mean the world to have you leave a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you to those of you who have done it. And thank you to those of you who are pushing pause right now and going and leaving a rating and a review. Let's dive into the interview with Sara Ryerson.
Amber B 3:36
A big huge welcome to Sara. Thanks for joining the podcast today. Sarah, how are you doing?
I'm good. Thanks for having me. Amber, I love that we get to sit down and chat today. This is awesome.
Amber B 3:45
So do I. This is gonna be a really great topic. We did a little bit of chatting before we hit record. And both of us agree that this is a topic that is not discussed enough. And I'm really grateful that Sara is willing to share her experience because I think the more that we can talk about these things that are normal natural experiences for women, the more we can kind of reduce the shame around it. So let's start at the beginning, or at least like some resemblance of the beginning and talk about when you first met me or what your first introduction was to me. And then what brought you into Macros 101 and kind of starting this journey with me.
Yeah, for sure. So I, like many others, found you through Katie Krokus so amazing. Yeah. I love it. Yeah. And actually, the funny thing is we have the same hometown. So I don't know Madison as well. I live in Tennessee now but connected with her just kind of through that common ground and we shared a co-worker in common. So I found her before she was famous. And she pointed me to you and I think you know I was at a place where I was constantly and this was my whole life constantly thinking about my body and like what other people think about my body and I was thinking about my body, like, do my arms look huge in this outfit, right. And it really robs me of a lot of joy in my younger life, which is pretty sad. But you know, I've done a lot of yo-yo dieting, tried every diet on the internet, right? Like all these taxes that lost skills when I was a teenager, I mean, just really sad to think back on and something I would never want anyone else to go to. And I think it's just the sad reality of our culture at the moment.
But I had found macros before you. And so I was tracking but not on the weekends, right? I probably was eating way over maintenance. But like totally white knuckling it during the week, thinking that, you know, if I just have more control, and more buckled down during the week, then I can do whatever I want on the weekends and go crazy. And through some of the coaching and Macros 101, I've realized this now, but I actually was using food and alcohol as a buffer for those thoughts about my body. So when I would go into a social situation, and be worried about, you know, what I look like or what I'm wearing, or what somebody else looks like, right? I would just eat more or drink more so that then I could kind of drown that out and feel more confident that you know, I don't have to think about that because I'm using food and alcohol as a buffer. So that's a bit about my story.
I also had run a half marathon right before I found you while I was dieting, which is like the craziest thing ever right?
Amber B 6:27
Was your experience terrible?
Yeah, so bad. Like I limped into the finish line. And I'm proud of myself for finishing, but like looking back on it, it's just, it's bad. So that's how I found you. And you know, it's crazy. Of course, biceps after babies, you know, you'd think it's geared towards moms, right. But I actually thought a different way of like, you know, if Amber can do this after having babies or if all of her clients can do it after having babies and like I for sure can do it because I have way more time and you know, my body hasn't carried a child yet. And so I actually kind of saw that the other way around versus you know, this is just for moms of you know, just that empowering. You know, they can do it. I can do it, too.
Amber B 7:07
Yeah. That's so interesting to me, because I do get a lot of people who are like, I haven't had a kid yet is this for me. And I'm always like, like, biceps after babies to me is like, that's my journey. Like, that's my story. But it doesn't mean that it has to be your story. And you know, the fact that you're 25 is that you said, I'm 27 now, it sounds like that. Yeah, we were 25. So like you know, they're like, there's a lot that can be learned in your 20s and done in your 20s. Like, you do not have to be waiting until after we have babies to like learn all the things that we're teaching people. So I just think that's so interesting, because I especially find when I do like Facebook ads, or people like have literally never heard of me and they see biceps after babies. They're like, either that's like, Oh, I'm a mom. So like, that speaks to me or I'm not I'm not a mom. And so like, This must not be for me at all. And it's always interesting to me to hear that. So, yeah, yes, it is for every woman. So, okay, so talk to us a little bit about during that Macros 101 experience, you had some aha moments, and maybe some ideas of like, hey, maybe the way that I wasn't doing it before was like, why I was struggling? What was that? What were some of those aha moments for you and things that really kind of started to shift your journey?
Yes. So the very first day that I was added to the group, I posted on the group and I was like, totally terrified. But I did it. Because I had kind of figured out that I was using alcohol as a scapegoat for my feelings. And it was a Friday, I remember and I was going to go out the next day and watch a football game at a sports bar with some friends. And I just hated that feeling of being out of control. Because I've learned about myself, I'm kind of a control freak, and anything I can control I love to. And so I had posted and asked, you know, like, how do I track alcohol? What should I be doing with that? Like, I've tried to just not do it, and then I end up drinking more or I've tried to say like, I only have one and then I still end up drinking more. And so Melissa coached me through that and was kind of like, well, what's the end goal of that outing? Like are you going to visit with friends? Or are you going to drink, right? And so in that experience, I decided like, Okay, I'm going to have two beers, and it will be done. And I did that and I was like, wow, okay, yeah, like I actually can make choices that allow me to still have a good time and meet my goals. And so that was kind of the first time where I was like, okay, yeah, like my success is inevitable. I can be in control of my thoughts and behavior and why I choose to do things. So that was kind of the first one. And I went into a cut during Macros 101, I lost 10 pounds. And then my life just got kind of crazy and you and I jumped on a live coaching calls and chatted through you know, it probably is time to end this cut because I have so many other things coming at me my husband I had just bought I have, and I just had so much going on in my life. And it was right before Christmas, I think that was like November. And so I decided to go up to the reverse. And I was terrified, because I've never done that before. And I had always, you know, just tried to knuckle on to restrictions. And so you coach me through, you know, let's just jump up your calories and see what happens. And I ended up losing another three pounds and getting up to like, 2250 calories. And that was my maintenance. And I hit it right before Christmas. Yeah. And so, at that point in my journey, you know, I just realized that anything was possible for me, I had so much freedom in my choices. And actually, what's really crazy is that it started to permeate into other areas of my life. And so I actually left a job that was really toxic for me, and I hated it and got a new job that was, you know, right in line with my morals and, and my beliefs. And I was making double what I was making at the previous job. Willing to jump, yeah, and so my life was just really pretty significantly transformed by Macros 101 outside of my body, which was super cool.
Amber B 11:05
That's so amazing. Yeah, I remember that call, like, I remember well, and then I also remember the next call that we're going to talk about too, which is, you know, when life throws random things that you don't expect, and how you can deal with those things. So talk to us. So after Macros 101, when you came and joined us and beyond, and continued with coaching, and then something unexpected happened. So can you kind of talk about what happened? And then what was the response to that? Like, what came up for you personally? And then how did you work through that?
Yeah, for sure. So like you said, I joined beyond during December, and was in maintenance, and planning to do another cut in March. And I was so excited because I felt like I'd finally unlocked like, I can have anything I want. And my husband and I had not planned on having kids until we were closer to 30. And in early January, I found out I was pregnant. And I was really terrified and freaked out. And I sat on that for a few weeks. And, really, I mean, in my life, I was exactly where I should have been to have my first kid, right, like, I'd been married for over a year, we were really financially stable, we had just bought a house, I had this great new job. But I was so depressed about it. And I sat on that for about three weeks and just kind of laid around the house and moved around. And then I decided that I needed to push into the beyond group and post about it because I had no one else in my life that I could truly share what I was feeling. And because I had gone through so much of a transformation with all of the people and beyond all the women really, you know, coaching each other and lifting each other up. I decided that was probably the perfect place to share what I was feeling. And so I made a post that I was, I just found out I was pregnant, and I was devastated. And honestly at that point, if I had had a miscarriage, I wouldn't have cared. And I know I would have you know when that happens. But that's where I wasn't a mindspace. Like, I was almost willing something to go wrong, because I just really didn't want this baby. And I was crying a lot about it. And it was just pretty rough. And what I found in sharing that with all the women and beyond is that even though what I was feeling maybe isn't normal, it's so common. And I got some great coaching. And more than that, a lot of women rallied around me and said, Hey, I felt like that too. And so because of that I just, you know, kind of learned that even though this isn't what I wanted, I kind of just have to accept it right and move on. And I can choose to be joyful about it, even though I'm not happy about it. And so, you know, that kind of started my journey towards accepting that I was going to become a mom a lot sooner than I wanted to. And that that was okay. But I was feeling the way I was feeling.
Amber B 13:55
Yeah, yeah, Sara, you know, we as we were talking about beforehand, she was like, I don't know if you want me to share this. And I was like, Yes, I really want you to share this because like Sara said, like there are other women out here who have had this experience of having an on like an unwanted pregnancy or a pregnancy maybe not unwanted. Maybe that's not like the right word is not unwanted. But just like it was not in the, there's not the plan. It was not now that's not what I wanted right now and and for a lot of us who like to feel like we're in control, it's like, no, I have my five year plan worked out and like baby happens on year four of the five year plan and like, you do have a five year plan. I'm not ready for this. And those feelings of like, not feeling ready or not even really like she said being like if I had a miscarriage, like, I wouldn't be sad. I feel like yeah, like I was willing not to happen. I think those things are so important to talk about because I think there is a lot of shame that can be associated with that. And the more that we can, you know, say hey, this is like this is a normal experience for a lot of women to go through you're not alone, in that experience is just a beautiful thing to be able to give to other women. So I'm so grateful that Sara is willing to talk about this. And so you didn't have a miscarriage. Spoiler alert.
Amber B 15:14
You had, you carried the baby. But like, that wasn't the end of like this a God telling you, hey, you're not in control. So there's a lot that is going to be coming. So talk to us about what happened after that.
Yeah, for sure. So you and I jumped on a coaching call again and I think there was about 20 weeks pregnant. And I was really afraid to work out. I had failed to work out but I was afraid to take action on it because a lot of my friends, or people that I knew of were having problems with their pregnancies, or stillbirth, things like that. And I knew in my heart, right, that working out wasn't gonna harm my baby. But my brain was just really holding you back from that. So you and I worked through that and I got into action, I started working out and once again, I was like, okay, like, I've got this, I'm back in control. Like, I want this baby now. And you know, I'm working out, I'm doing all the things and everything's going great. And then two weeks later, I ended up in the hospital for suspected preeclampsia. And after that I was on bedrest, modified bed rest for most of my pregnancy. And towards the end, I was able to, you know, not be sitting on the couch as much, but that's also not how I thought it would go. And I ended up being induced early for high blood pressure and with an emergency C-section for placental abruption. And when my baby came out, he wasn't crying, he was purple. And I was laying on that C-section table, shaking and still not sure that I wanted this baby, even though I had accepted it. And I remember sitting on the table, I'm crying, and I was shaking. And my OB was sewing me up. And she said, I hope those are happy tears. And I said, I'm not sure. And that was a really tough moment where I had to decide, you know, is this about me or is this about my baby? And I heard him start to cry. And that's when I realized that you know, I'm way more strong and powerful than I ever could have imagined in my body hadn't failed me, my original birth plan was to have an unmedicated birth. And of course, I was induced, and I actually labored for 12 hours without any medication. And because of that, I just learned, you know, how strong and powerful my body is. And that's something that you know, when you're a teenager, even in your young 20s, and all you can think about is your body and how you look, your body is worth so much more than that. And through my pregnancy, you know, I kind of made peace with my body for the first time, and wasn't thinking about what I looked like, and going into postpartum, you know, I think I could be judging my body at that stage as well. And because of everything that happens, and you know, I was very educated about childbirth, because I just wanted to have all the information I could have, which is also something I got from Macros 101. I just made peace with it all and realized that, you know, my weight is just a number and my body is so much more powerful than just what it looks like.
And so yeah, life just kind of kept throwing me curve balls over the last year. And after I had the baby, we actually got sent back to the hospital to Children's Hospital downtown, because they suspected that he had an infection in his body. And it turned out he was just too small and couldn't hold his temperature but he's okay. But we went back into the hospital and that was one of the hardest experiences I've also ever gone through. And a few weeks after that, I had really bad postpartum depression and anxiety. And my husband was so wonderful and got me help right away. But I think the last year has just taught me that we are just so not in control of this life, but the thing we are in control of is how we respond to it. And I think that was something that if I had not started in Macros 101 a year before I had this baby, I don't know how I would have come out of this because I just hadn't learned how to accept things and kind of let go of control.
Amber B 19:12
Yeah, I mean, what a powerful lesson and experience to be able to learn that. And I say this a lot is like, I really feel like life gives us the lessons that we're meant to learn. And it doesn't mean it's always fun. It doesn't mean it's always like that's the way that I would have done it. But I think that there is power in being able to look back. Steve Jobs said you cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect the dots looking backwards. And it's like when you look back over the last year, you know, year plus, you can kind of see how like, oh, like I kind of can see how those dots all connected and how I kind of needed to go through those things, but it definitely wouldn't have been the way that I would have put it together. Had I put it together. So tell me where you are right now with baby, with body, with like, you know what, like, what's changed over here. So, so much has changed. But you know what has changed for you over the last couple of years?
Yeah. So, I mean, being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. And I think anyone who is a mom can get that and you can't until you're in it. And yet, I'm the most powerful version of myself that I've ever been. Which is funny, because whenever I got pregnant, I was the smallest I've ever been, I was in control of everything in my life, I had all these good things going on. And I thought that I had made it. And now my life is really chaotic and messy. And I still have all of those things and I have a baby. And I'm still doing it. And so I think, you know, really stepping into that version of yourself and realizing how much you're capable of, is just really cool. And something that can kind of only come with motherhood, I think.
And so, you know, I'm actually currently the biggest I've ever been, like not being pregnant, I'm the biggest I've ever been. And yet I have the most confidence in myself and body than I ever have. I don't look in the mirror and think like, oh my gosh, my size looks so huge, or my arms look so huge, I will look at my body and be you know, all of the things that it did over the past year, and like my stomach's a little bigger than it used to be. And that's okay, because it carries my son and helps him stay. And so it's just a really cool journey that I don't think I ever could have pictured for myself. And when I look back at where I was a year ago, freaking out about being pregnant. And I would have looked at myself today and only seen the superficial things. And instead now being in the place that I am, I just get to see the strength and power in my body and realize that, you know, the way my body looks to the people who are close to me and around me is probably the least interesting thing about me. Because they love me for who I am. And if someone is judging me for how I look, then they're not going to be an important person to me anyway. And so, you know, it's just been kind of a school journey. And, and I'm so grateful for my son, and he's, you know, amazing and wonderful. But, you know, I think I had to go on this journey to see all of that and like knew what I needed before I did.
Amber B 22:14
I liked the words that you chose, because I think they contrast so much. You said before you got pregnant, you were the smallest you've ever been. And then you feel like now you're the most powerful. And I just love the contrast between those two words like smallest versus powerful. And if I had to pick between being the smallest version, myself being the most powerful version of myself, like I would always choose the most powerful. And I think so often we spend a lot of time in that other realm of like smallest, smallest, getting smaller, you know, tiny, are all those things. And not that there's anything inherently wrong with that. But what would happen if we focus on being the most powerful version of ourselves? How would that change our perspective? I think it changes a lot to focus on power.
It does. And the funny thing is, a lot of me becoming smaller and trying to become smaller was because I thought that my husband would think that I was more beautiful or loves me more. Which is totally not the case. But you know, that's the story we build up in our mind. And in him seeing me go through having this child and then you know, being a mother, he tells me now like the most beautiful I've ever seen you and yet I'm the biggest.
Amber B 23:22
So realizing that our weight doesn't define us is just a really cool, really cool piece of motherhood.
Amber B 23:28
Oh, that's huge. So good. Sara, this is amazing. Okay, so if, let's say that there's somebody who's maybe in like, you know, December, of you December like last year, right? So like, you're someone who's like, in where you were just a year ago. And you sat down and like, you know, had coffee with her and you're like sitting in me, let me put my arm around you and like, tell you something that's going to be really meaningful to you. What would you say?
Oh, that's hard. Because there's so much I would say. I think I would say that it's okay to not have it all figured out. And your worth is not in having it all figured out. Or what your body currently looks like. You know, I think things are going to take the time that they're going to take and life is going to be unexpected. And if it isn't currently it's going to be. Yeah, and so being able to choose joy, even if you're not happy, right, I think is something that I would tell myself and I think honestly, I had to go through not the depression, but you know, just feeling down. I think I had to go through that to really get to the other side to realize that so I don't know that I could necessarily help her avoid the pain. But I think making it easier by giving her grace. I think I lacked a lot of grace for myself. I'd beat myself up a lot, a lot of shame about a lot of the things I was having. And so I think, you know, giving her some grace is probably the thing that I would choose if I had to pick one.
Amber B 25:09
It's amazing. And I just want to do a little bit of a shout out to you as well, because what I saw in you as someone who was very coachable, I saw someone who was very open, like you struggled a lot. And you remained open to coaching and I really think that that's, that's such a beautiful thing to be able to say like, Hey, I don't know, I don't know, help me like, you know, reach out. And a lot of times that even that, like you said that putting up a post or like saying, Hey, I'm struggling, or getting on a coaching call and saying, Hey, can you help me is really, you know, that's the turning point for a lot of change that can happen. But you have to be willing to put that out there and to remain coachable. And I just saw that so much. And you have like, you struggled and you were very open to like, let's work through this and let's get to the other side. And so it's really cool to be able to connect with you and kind of see that other thing to the other side. Because I kind of got the middle part of it, which is really exciting.
Thank you. Yeah, the middle was messy. But in
Amber B 26:09
the middle. It's always messy. Always. And I'm
gonna be in the middle forever honest, like I've learned. It's just, there's no arrival, and especially in motherhood because the diaper is always gonna be dirty in 30 minutes, right? Like, no arrival.
Amber B 26:25
Yeah. And then when the diapers are dirty, Oh, yeah. When the diapers aren't dirty, then it's like you're dealing with teenagers and then driving and then like, then they're adults. And like, you're still a mother. Like, it's yeah, that is the beautiful part of life is it is constantly thinking, oh, I need to get to this next point. And then realize when you arrive there that there's a next point, and there's a next point and there's a next point. And that's amazing. Well, Sara, you've been awesome. Thank you so much for being willing to share your story. I know that it's gonna help a lot of women. And I'm just so excited to see where you're at this year. And then like thinking next year, where you're going to be and the year after that in the year after that, it's just been such a pleasure to be able to watch you grow.
My thanks, Amber, this is great. I'm glad we got to catch up.
Amber B 27:08
I hope you enjoyed that interview. I'm so grateful to Sara for having this conversation. And it just has been an honor to be able to watch her really blossom and grow and see how much can change in one year's time. And I think that's a really great thing to think about in your own life. Whether you're in a hard phase right now or not. Where could you be in a year from now? And I think a lot of times we underestimate how much progress can be made in a year.
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