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Ep. 101- Breastfeeding as a Pro-Athlete: Interview with Sonya Looney

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This is Maureen Farrell and Heather ONeal and this is The Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships, and mental health. Plus, we laugh a little or a lot along the way.

Heather: So join us for another episode. Welcome to the Milk Minute Podcast, everybody. We have a very special guest today. Her name is Sonya Looney and she is a pro mountain biker who was actually the world champion in 2015 at a solo 24-hour race. So, first of all, what the heck? Like she’s, I can’t even fathom doing something like that. Clearly a Shiro and we are here for it.

Yes. And of course that’s not where she stops. She also has the Sonya Looney podcast since 2017. She’s a freelance writer published in all the major sports and outdoor magazines. She has her own apparel brand called Moxy & Grit and founded a plant-based community called Plant Powered Academy.

Maureen: Can I also mention that she has a master’s in electrical and biomedical engineering with a focus in neuroscience.

Heather: So, but then she was like, nah, I’m going to do marketing. Why not?

Maureen: Honestly, she’s very accomplished and intelligent. And we are so happy to have her on the show today to not only speak about all of that, but also having children and breastfeeding.

Heather: Yeah. I mean, she breastfed her first baby and she’s actually pregnant with number two and we are so curious to talk to her about what it’s like to be a pro athlete planning to breastfeed, how it went the first time, what she plans to do differently the second time around. And of course, how in the heck she maintains this high achieving lifestyle in so many different facets of life. I am so inspired by this woman and I can’t wait to get into the interview.

Maureen: But first let’s do a quick listener question. So our listener question today is from one of our patrons, Caitlyn, and she let us know that her 13-month-old son is nursing to sleep a lot, but it has become painful for her recently, especially right after he falls asleep, he’ll suck for a couple of minutes. And when he falls asleep, as he’s always done now, it’s getting painful. And she’s keeping him in the same position for feeding, not letting him roll away. So she’s sort of confused as to what’s going on there.

Heather: Hm. Well, if the position is good and the latch is good, we have a question, Caitlyn.

Maureen: I do always wonder when we have, could it be, have you taken, have you peed on a stick recently?

Could you be pregnant Caitlyn? Could it be? If that’s like a no, couldn’t be, also toddlers do tend to frankly get lazy about their latch. And it could just be that after he’s asleep, he kind of stopped sucking so deeply and then he’s like nipple chewing.

Heather: Yeah. So we, we don’t love that. So go ahead and just break that latch. And, you know, these are the times, you know, 13 months old, that is a very healthy time to set some good boundaries with breastfeeding.

Not like you can’t access it, but more just like, you know, if you’re going to have a lazier latch or you’re going to do drive-by feedings or have behavior problems with breastfeeding, you know, like twittling or anything that’s driving you crazy, it’s absolutely okay to set some boundaries there, break the latch, you know, change the activity, come back to it later.

Maureen: Now this is a good time if you have a partner who lives with you to be like you know who could do bedtime? You could. Maybe it could be you. Not that you have to night wean. You could consider it, especially if it really just is like weird, lazy sucking, or I’ve even seen toddlers who then start to like suck the nipple into their cheek or something? They are redonkulous.

Heather: Hmm, no, I’m drawing some lines, Caitlyn. And also I’m kind of secretly hoping you’re pregnant. I’m just saying.

Maureen: Only if that would be a good thing for you. We’re not hoping for disastrous things for you. So if you’re excited about it, we’re hoping for it. Okay.

Heather: All right. Well, Caitlyn, we hope that helps. We hope that helps all of you who are maybe in the same situation as Caitlyn. Let’s jump into this interview with Ms. Sonya. All right.

Hey everybody, Heather here with some good news for you. If you’ve been wanting a lactation consult with me, but you’re not really sure how to go about it, I finally can take some insurance. So if you have Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem, or Cigna PPO, there’s a very good chance that you can get your visits a hundred percent approved with me.

So if you fill out the short form, it’ll take less than two minutes in the show notes with your insurance information, we’ll know in as little as five hours if you’re approved and then we’ll throw you right on my calendar. And then we get to hang out and guess what? It’s not just one visit. I can see you prenatally.

I can see you before you go back to work. I can see you when you start solid foods. I can see you through weaning. I mean, we got this whole journey covered. So shout out to those insurance companies for valuing this as work and I’m here for you every step of the way. So click the link in the show notes to learn more about my private consults and make sure that we can get you what you need.

I look forward to working with you. Bye.

All right. So Ms. Sonya Looney, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Sonya Looney: Thanks for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

Heather: Yes, so, you know, not every listener we have is a pro athlete. The ones that are listening are probably just trying really hard to even complete a walk on their treadmill right now while being pregnant or postpartum or breastfeeding.

And it is absolutely inspirational to see somebody that has maintained this level of fitness and made it a priority in their life, more than a priority, and you’re still managing to balance it. So obviously your career as a pro mountain biker is incredible and something you’re very passionate about and you’ve worked super hard for, but when you became pregnant for the first time, did you have any like limiting thoughts about impending motherhood and career balance?

Because I think, you know, oftentimes our listeners struggle with this balance and anxiety about what’s to come when they first become pregnant.

Sonya Looney: It was more questions around what I could and could not do and finding the right information. So a great book that helped me was, “Exercising Through your Pregnancy” by James Clapp, who’s an MD. And then Catherine Cram, who has her master’s in exercise science. And she’s been on my podcast before, and she has her own consulting website.

So finding that resource was really helpful because it gave me the confidence to know what was okay because I think a lot of times our society thinks that pregnant women are injured or pregnant women are less capable.

And oh, you shouldn’t lift that or you shouldn’t go, you know, push yourself. But you can safely do that as long as, you know, your doctor has approved that you can do this, but there’s a lot more that you’re capable of. And if you think back to, you know, back in, when we’re on the Serengeti, you know, pregnant women weren’t sitting on a Lily pad, like they were having to move whenever people move. They had to like do all these different things with their body.

So I wasn’t sure how things would progress, but I was optimistic that if I kept myself as healthy as possible and I did my best, that would be enough. And everybody’s pregnancy looks different. Everybody’s ability to exercise or stay active through their pregnancy looks different, but my default was, I’m going to go see what happens instead of default of I’m going to be afraid to even try.

Maureen: I love that. Yeah. I think, I think it’s really important for people to remember that pregnancy is a state of wellness for most people. And I get it. It’s not always, sometimes it comes with illness, but by itself, pregnancy is not pathological.

Heather: And actually, so I teach nursing students at West Virginia University, and I just did a full audit of all of our little pre-plans that we have, because they all said EDC, like the estimated date of confinement and all the students were like, what is this confinement? And I was like, well, let me tell you. Back in the day they used to confine women after they had a baby and they would just hold them up in a room because they weren’t capable of moving anywhere.

So that was their estimated date that their confinement would begin. And the looks on their faces are just like, Ugh, like who would sign up for that? That sounds awful.

Sonya Looney: Yeah. I mean, there’s definitely a perceived risk level, like depending on what your sport is. And during my first pregnancy, some people would say it’s really dangerous for you to be mountain biking while you’re pregnant.

Like what if you crash? And that trail is too hard. You shouldn’t be riding that trail. But everybody has their own skill level and their own comfort level. So like somebody that’s been mountain biking for 15 years probably has a much higher skill level than someone who has been mountain biking for five years.

And the mom of the baby is the one who cares the most about the safety of the baby. So during this pregnancy, my second pregnancy, it’s not uncommon to see me hop off my bike and walk something because even if I’ve ridden a hundred or more times in the past, if I am not feeling 100% confident that day, then I don’t do it.

If there’s 1% doubt, I don’t do it. So whenever people are looking at other active pregnant women to know that that person is taking things into consideration and they’re meeting things where their skill level is not where your skill level is. Your being the person who’s doing the judging.

Heather: And that’s a really good point. I mean, I didn’t really think about, I didn’t really think about the athletic space as having in common so much, as far as like the mom shaming kind of thing, where we don’t trust moms to know their own bodies. And I guess it just translate into, it translates into athletics as well, who knew?

Maureen: Every space Heather, all of them. Well, I’m curious during your first pregnancy, did you always know that you wanted to breastfeed? Did you like take classes, do some prenatal, you know, nutrition planning for all of your endurance work or anything like that?

Sonya Looney: Yeah. Well, for me, health is one of my top values and I did all the reading and research around why breastfeeding is healthy and it was definitely in the plans to do that for as long as seemed to make sense. So yes, it was something.

The only sort of plans or training I had beforehand was I had a doula and she came over and she had like a little doll and she kind of showed you what you needed to do. And I did the reading as to why, so that the motivation level would be high. Like, why am I, why do I want to breastfeed?

What should I expect from breastfeeding? The book that I use to take care of my baby, it’s the baby whisperer. Can’t, I’m blanking on the author right now, but that book actually covers breastfeeding as well. And it’s a phenomenal book. And it said like, you might need, you might need 40 days to stick with it.

Like you might want to give up, but just stick with it for 40 days and then make up your mind. So that was my initial commitment at the bare minimum. But as an athlete, like I’m used to having to be consistent. I’m used to having to have ups and downs and push through discomfort, which it was uncomfortable for me at the start. And it was a great thing. And I actually really enjoyed breastfeeding and I’m excited to do it again.

Heather: Well, we will link all those books in the show notes, for sure so you guys can look at them too. But you’re also plant-based so that adds a whole other layer. And I think, you know, I think doctors probably when you walked into your appointment, they’re like, oh, she’s super healthy, but also so many hard questions because you will never meet a doctor out there, I haven’t met one yet, who’s going to be like a hundred percent, “You do it, you go mountain bike and you never eat meat.”

And it’s just so far out of comfort, their comfort zone for what they normally have to educate patients on. So did you get any pushback from anybody when you were like, yeah, I’m plant-based and I’m going to breastfeed?

Sonya Looney: No, because I didn’t actually ask for permission because whenever you’re, especially when you’re plant-based, you have to take responsibility for your own health and your own nutrition. And I think that goes for everybody. I also think that a lot of people assume that doctors have a lot of training in nutrition, which maybe obstetricians or, you know yeah, so I already knew that doctors don’t have that type of training.

So I took matters into my own hands and fortunately I have great access to resources. I actually wrote a blog post that summarized everything you need to know about vegan pregnancy, because I did so much research on my own. So there was no concerns whatsoever. And in fact, a lot of the guidelines around what you’re supposed to eat when you’re pregnant kind of fall along the plant-based lifestyle.

So the biggest concern, whether you’re an athlete, whether you’re a pregnant, pregnant woman or a breastfeeding mom is just making sure that you’re getting enough calories. Because if you’re eating a truly, a whole foods plant-based diet with minimal processed foods, sometimes it can be difficult to get enough calories if you’re not paying attention, or if you’re a busy mom and you’re like, I’m just going to grab some toast.

I’m busy. I’m just going to grab some toast again. And then by the end of the day, you’re like, I just ate toast four times. Being more aware and having planning around your nutrition. But as an athlete, that’s something I already had to do. And it ended up being also like, I don’t know what is myth and what’s not around foods that help you have better lactation.

But I was, I had just read some stuff about that. I’m like, these are foods that I eat regularly anyway. So in some ways it seems like eating plant-based might be even better for pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Maureen: Yeah. I mean, it, it can be a wonderful diet, right? Just like anything else. And also we can totally make it an abysmal diet if we don’t know what we’re doing. So I’m really excited to hear you talk about that blog post. I’ll have to check it out.

Every once in a while I get a vegan client and I’m like, yeah, here are a couple of resources, but you know, frankly, like it’s not my specialty and it’s not your OB’s specialty. So it’s really, it’s nice to have another resource. Thank you for making that.

Heather: Yeah. And you also have your community that you founded called Plant Powered Academy. So what does that look like?

Sonya Looney: Honestly, right now, I haven’t been as active as I would like, but it’s a Facebook group with over 2000 members and people can help each other out. And it’s mostly just a plant curious and people who are interested in just being fit and eating plant-based.

I also have a cookbook that I, it’s a digital cookbook that I wrote a few years ago and released. And it is just like a place where people can ask questions because it can be really intimidating. And like you said, not all plant-based diets are going to be effective for people. If you look at like a recommendation it’s a well-planned plant-based diet.

Well, what does that mean? That can mean a ton of different things. Not everybody is comfortable taking, you know, full reigns of what their nutrition should look like and all the information that you need. So it’s just to create resources for people. So if they want to explore that, then they can, and they can ask other people who are doing it already.

Heather: It feels like so much of the things that you do require so much time and planning. I have a hard time matching my clothing in the morning, and I feel like that’s a very nice goal for me. And I just want to switch gears into more of that. Like, how do you do these hard things? And I mean this in all seriousness, when I ask, which is harder, an endurance race in the Sahara desert or motherhood?

Sonya Looney: An endurance race in the Sahara desert is much harder.

Heather: I love the honesty.

Sonya Looney: Yeah. I’d like to say motherhood, but no, it’s just much harder. The thing about the endurance race in the Sahara desert is that that’s going to end, whereas motherhood does not end, but yeah, you mentioned lots of planning, but for me, like one of my number one things that I am passionate about, and that gets me excited is love of learning.

I love getting up in the morning. I’m always reading something, learning something, because that excites me to always be growing and learning and seeing what I could do. And there’s a lot of different things that I like learning about.

So it might seem like a lot whenever you’re learning about how to be a mom or how to breastfeed or how to be an athlete, but just like anything the work does, it does take time initially, but then once you start building on that, it’s really rewarding. And a lot of times people are afraid or intimidated about hard work. Like you’ll hear people say breastfeeding, that sounds like a lot of work or motherhood, that sounds like a lot of work or whatever.

But if you think about all the things that you’re most proud of in your life, those are the things that you had to work hard for. So there is, I like saying the work is the reward because that’s where the meaning and value come from. And I think that that is the spice of life. Like being able to work hard at something and then see results.

Heather: That’s so true. Do you think the hardest thing you ever did was get back on your bike two weeks postpartum? Because I saw that in one of your blogs and I was like, wait, I have to read the entire thing, because I think a lot of our listeners would have questions about that. Just like the logistics of that, like the mental, I mean, like what goes through your head mentally when you’re like, okay, a baby just came out of my vagina and now I’m going to get on my bike.

So walk me through that.

Sonya Looney: Well, number one, seeing other people do it inspired me and I had followed lots of others at the time. So knowing that that was possible, but also knowing that, Hey, like this might not work out and giving myself grace. So getting back on my bike didn’t mean that I was out there killing it.

It meant that I gingerly sat on my bike seat in the driveway to see how it felt. And then if it felt okay to go for a 20-minute, super easy pedal and see how that felt and then come home and see if there’s still, you know, lochia and bleeding and, and, and if it’s gotten worse or if it’s like subsided, like what’s the status of that.

So that’s how I, that’s what I use as my barometer of should I keep going or should I not? Should I add on, or should I not, is I paid attention to my body. Did I feel more tired after going for a bike ride because you are recovering from an injury post-birth and everybody, like, I think everybody has some form of injury of some kind just even the placenta wound post-birth.

So yeah, it wasn’t hard to do it because I didn’t push myself. I said, I’m going to wait until I feel the urge to get on my bike. And I’m somebody that loves riding my bike.

So the urge was there pretty early and then making sure that I was doing it safely and being really objective and realistic and also asking my husband to be another objective eye on me to make sure that I wasn’t pushing too hard too soon, because some people do need to take six weeks off or two months off.

It just depends on your birth. And I mean, who knows what’s going to happen this time for me, like I’m hoping for a similar outcome. But if that doesn’t happen, then just giving yourself the grace and I mentioned I was inspired by other people but making sure that you’re not comparing yourself in a negative way to other people, because you can’t control what’s going to happen during your birth and everybody is different.

So just meeting yourself with grace, but also allowing others to inspire you without making you feel bad about yourself.

Maureen: Yeah. It’s definitely a hard balance. You know, when my clients postpartum are like, well, when can I run? Well, when can I bike? When can I do this? You know, the advice I give them as similar to what you’re talking about.

Well, you can do it when you think you’re ready, but you need to focus on what’s happening in your body. And, you know, we hold ourselves to really high standards. So sometimes I say like, okay, so when you’re evaluating what’s going on, don’t, don’t hold yourself to your own standard. Ask, ask what I would say about it.

Like think in your head, what would my midwife say about this? About how I’m feeling, would she say to go rest now? Or, you know, because so many athletes are just, you’ve trained yourselves to push past it, right. To endure.

That’s the entire sport is pushing past pain and discomfort sometimes, you know, how do you balance that out in the postpartum with breastfeeding, trying to understand like, what is an actual injury or problem that I need help with versus something I just need to push past.

Sonya Looney: That’s a great question. And I think that it also applies to pregnancy and it’s knowing where your priority is. And it can be really hard for some people because your identity is tied up with being an athlete.

Your identity is tied up with, well, I’m mentally tough or whatever, and just always being aware of that. So like for example, yesterday on my bike, so today’s Monday. On Saturday. I did a great bike ride. I felt really strong. I was over the moon excited. Sunday, I yesterday I felt terrible and I probably walked my bike more than I rode it.

And it was frustrating, but I kept saying to myself, you have to meet yourself where you are today. And I went home early. So it takes courage to listen to your body. It takes courage to do less. And also with postpartum, there’s like pelvic floor you know, damage that happens. So it’s are you having leaking?

Are you having like symptoms? And if you are like listening to those and being aware that you might need to spend a little bit more time on that type of rehab than getting back out there. And just being honest with yourself, and it’s hard because you want to get back out there. You want to be yourself again, whatever that means after you have a baby.

And yeah, like, and just having supportive people around you. Like I used a midwife for my first baby and I absolutely loved that and we moved. So there’s some circumstances that didn’t allow me to use a midwife for this birth. And I really miss having the midwife prenatal care.

Heather: And, you know, I think as a, as a provider and also having been through pelvic floor stuff myself postpartum, I like to remind people that there are risks to sitting still for your entire postpartum as well.

You know, I mean, postpartum depression, first of all, you’re not moving your blood. You’re not moving your muscles. You kind of feel a little bit trapped. It’s hard to have an elevated mood when you never leave the couch or your dark bedroom. And my pelvic floor dysfunction was very severe. Like I was peeing myself before I even got to the toilet and I used to run prior to that a lot.

So instead of, you know, pushing through the discomfort and giving myself grace in the beginning, I sat still for a long time. And it just got worse and it really did become a depression that was sneaky. And I didn’t even realize I was going through it.

But then once I started getting back out there and being willing to pee myself a little bit, it got better and better and better. And so I always remind people like you can come back from it. You just have to be really, really nice to yourself.

Sonya Looney: For sure. And also like, you’re not going to be, as long as you go and see a pelvic floor physio like that doesn’t have to be the case forever. And a lot of the pelvic floor physios will say like, you shouldn’t be sneezing and peeing after a certain period of time. You should be able to work on those incontinence issues.

And initially, like that is going to be there. You’ve had an injury. Like I remember going for a walk the first week after having my son and being like, oh my gosh, if I have to go to the bathroom, I’m not gonna be able to hold it. Like I just, I can’t. So it was actually kind of scary to leave the house because I thought, well, what happens if I have to go to the bathroom and I just can’t hold it?

Heather: Girl, get some Thinx underwear or even the off-brand. That’s my new thing. I refuse to wear a tampon and work out anymore. I just, I refuse. I’m not doing it. It’s not comfortable. They don’t stay where they’re supposed to stay. So I’m just going to free bleed and urinate everywhere, and people can get over it. And it’s going to be the healthiest way I can live. And I’m sorry if it makes everyone uncomfortable.

Maureen: No, you know what? It’s fine. Other people can be uncomfortable. We it’s okay for us to be uncomfortable. You know, birth is uncomfortable. Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable and we don’t have to pretend like it’s not, you know. But at the same time, you know, when we acknowledge discomfort and maybe acknowledging our fragility, we also then have to balance that out with healthcare providers, right.

Who are treating pregnant and lactating people like they are too fragile. Right? And trying to scare them away from anything other than light exercise, whatever the heck that means. You know, I know we’ve talked about it a little bit, but what’s your reaction to that kind of general recommendation and what, what kind of bad advice have you gotten breastfeeding as an athlete?

Sonya Looney: I don’t know if I’m the right person to ask about this, cause I’m a questioner by nature. So doctors probably hate me because they tell me something and I’ve already done probably hours of research before I’ve even gotten there. And then I’m like, what about this? And what about that? So they probably don’t like me because of that.

But having agency and having autonomy in your life is really important. And that doesn’t mean that you should go against what your doctor says but being well-informed before you go to a provider can really be empowering and I’ll, I’ll share a quick story. So current pregnancy, this number two, it started off as a twin pregnancy.

And I had a vanishing twin, which to be honest, I was very happy about, but whenever you have that, you have to go see, in addition to your regular doctor, you to have to go see like a specialist. And I showed up to the specialist and she, she didn’t even read my file. She didn’t do anything before I even got there.

And she was spouting off all these things that were just not true. She said like, you know, we’re going to have to induce you at 39 weeks, even though my pregnancy was continuing on as a healthy singleton pregnancy. She told me that I am not allowed to exercise. She like, there’s just all these things that she told me and was treating me as if I was like a high-risk pregnancy.

And, but at the same, in the same breath would say, well, this is a healthy singleton pregnancy. So I knew that was all wrong. And I was really frustrated because if I hadn’t been as educated as I was about what I knew I was allowed to do, then I might’ve listened to her. And that would have really affected the course of my entire pregnancy and maybe my life.

So getting a second opinion, whenever you hear something that doesn’t sound right is really important and the doctor might be right, but just making sure that you get that second opinion, if it doesn’t sound right. And I went back to my regular prenatal doc and she’s like, none of that’s correct. I went to another OB GYN and she’s like, no, that’s not correct. So that was really awesome.

Maureen: Hold on. I’m sorry. I have to know, did you say anything in that appointment or where you just like, write it down for later?

Sonya Looney: I just kept my mouth; my husband was there too. I was like, I don’t need to argue, like, I’m just like, okay, I’m ready to leave.

Maureen: Yeah, I’m sure that’s the best road.

Heather: I’m sure your husband looked at you on the way out and just already knew that that was a no go.

Sonya Looney: But postpartum and breastfeeding, no, no one told me that I shouldn’t be exercising cause it could negatively impact breastfeeding. I had all the books, all the breastfeeding books that you can imagine. And I was reading all of them because I had my baby on March 15th, 2020, the very beginning of the pandemic.

So I didn’t have access to the postpartum care that I’m excited to be getting this time around. So I had to do a lot of it on my own. So yeah, I, I didn’t, I didn’t notice any drops in my supply from exercise. The only thing I will say is that, and this might come as a surprise to people, is that I was having trouble with maintaining my body weight.

Like I needed, after about four months, my body weight had dropped below what it was before I had my baby, because I was training like 15, 15 to 20 hours a week. I was breastfeeding exclusively, so I wasn’t eating enough calories. And I had to eat about 4,000 calories a day to maintain my body weight. And I didn’t realize that I needed that many calories. And that’s a lot of calories.

Heather: Yeah. That’s, that’s huge. I mean, honestly, how did you do it? How did you have time to train and eat that much, food prep and actually be able to eat that? I mean, what does that, what did your schedule look like?

Sonya Looney: Well, my husband was very helpful and supportive. So for me to be able to train, he had to take time off of work because again, global pandemic, no childcare, that kind of thing.

So he was really supportive for me to be able to train, but it was a lot of like preparation and like every single day writing down what I was eating, what the calories were and when it comes to like a plant-based diet, that’s like eating stuff that’s high in like nut butters and lots of grains and sure, eating vegetables and fiber, but just maintaining the higher calorie density foods, and lots of like quote, healthy cookies.

So like a healthy cookie would look like, you know, no flour, but like oats made with nut butter instead of an oil, because nut butter is calorie and nutrient dense, having like chocolate or dried fruit in it.

And then using like maple syrup as a sweetener and making cookies. And those were awesome because there’s probably like 250 or 300 calories in one of those cookies, and then I could eat quickly and easily eat that.

Like I remember in the morning when I would get up the first feed with the baby, I would have my coffee and I would have my cookie. And I’d be sitting there in the chair and I’d be eating that. And just, just always being aware of that. And that’s something as you get older, like as I have a toddler now, and he’s turning two next month, I still have to be on top of the calories cause I’m pregnant.

And sometimes I do wake up in the middle of the night hungry and my go-to is muesli because it’s not too strong of a flavor. And I also had to do that when I was breastfeeding. I’d wake up hungry at night and I would get up and eat instead of just denying myself eating, which I think a lot of us are programmed to do.

Heather: Ain’t that the truth? Did you ever crave meat?

Sonya Looney: No, no. I’ve been by base since 2013 though. So it’s not something that I had eaten in quite a while. The only it’s weird, like this is actually happened twice. The water needs to be cold water. I can’t, I will not drink normal temperature water while pregnant. It must be cold. And then I need to eat lots of fruit. Those are the two things.

Heather: That’s interesting. Yeah. I have a friend who was vegetarian for a very long time and she got pregnant and she was like, I’m just overcome with this urge. It’s like, I really just really want a piece of meat. And I was like, Lindsay, are you serious? She’s like, I’m just going to eat it for pregnancy. It’s what the baby wants. So I was just curious if that, I mean, maybe it was because, I mean, I don’t know how true this is, but you say that you crave some of the vitamins that you’re missing.

So maybe it was just that she could have replaced it with like iron rich, more plant-based foods, but, and her body was like, no, I remember how to get this. Steak.

Sonya Looney: Yeah. Like you do need more iron in pregnancy. And heme iron is more readily absorbable than non-heme iron. So that’s very possible.

Heather: So how do you maintain this high-performance life and your relationship? Because relationships require some planning and effort as well. So what’s your tip there please?

Sonya Looney: Yeah, I think this is a really interesting topic. And in fact, this is something my husband and I talked about in a podcast on my show that we just released a few weeks ago. It’s because in Emily Oster’s book, I’m sure you guys have heard of Emily Oster.

She has a, her first book is called, “Expecting Better,” which is about pregnancy guidelines and the data behind it. But she’s also written two follow-up books. And the next one is called, “cribsheet,” which is about raising a toddler and a baby and what the data is around stuff like potty training and I don’t know all the different milestones that your baby’s supposed to meet.

But one of the things in that book was about marital satisfaction and how having kids, well, the data shows that it drops your marital satisfaction. So he and I talked about that on the podcast. We said, okay, let’s be honest. Have we had a drop in marital satisfaction? And I would say that we have not had a drop in marital satisfaction, but our marriage has changed for sure. Like we don’t get to do the same things together that we used to do and that’s going to be temporary.

But I think the number one thing is communication with your partner. And if you didn’t have a strong foundation before you had a baby, it’s not going to be easier. Whenever the baby comes and you know, baby’s crying and you’re tired and all these things.

So I think as part of like prenatal planning, if you haven’t done any work in communication specifically like nonviolent communication and helping yourself say what you mean and being mindful about your communication, that’s going to make things really difficult once the baby comes.

And then there’s also a privilege involved. Like if like both of us own our own businesses and we can work on our own schedules. But if you have a, you know, you both have a boss, you both don’t have a flexible schedule, that can be incredibly difficult on a relationship. And if there’s financial stress that can be difficult to in a relationship.

So I think making sure that you take the time to plan, even if it’s just once a week, plan just like you, you and your partner time, where you can just talk. Like don’t watch Netflix, don’t do anything, just like have a dinner together, or have a coffee together where you can just talk about how things are going for both of you and truly listen to your partner, instead of trying to think well, I feel this way. Like truly listen to your partner and see how they’re feeling.

And another thing that we have talked about a lot is, and I’ve learned from him is not keeping score. Because in my family everybody’s keeping score. Well, you did this and I did this. And just, hopefully everybody’s doing the best that they can.

And there’s going to be days and weeks where maybe you are doing way more than your partner and it sucks. And like you feel that resentment feeling and like we’ve both been there. But then there’s going to be days and weeks or weeks where your partner is doing more and then they have to pick up your slack.

So just trying to understand that everybody’s doing their best, but also communicating about it if you feel frustrated that way it doesn’t build up into this huge thing. And having the space where you can communicate that to your partner.

Heather: Yeah, I’ve read some research where if you interview couples separately and you ask them what percentage of a certain chore that they think they do, and then what percentage they think their partner does, every single person overestimates what they do, their own percentage, and underestimates their partner, because you’re not the one doing it.

You know, you’re not doing it for your partner. You’re not there the entire time. So I’ve been just trying to keep that in mind, because I will say inherently, I’m a bit of a scorekeeper. I don’t know why. I don’t like this about myself.

Maureen: A lot of us were raised that way. You know, we’re, we’re all about the same age. I feel like our parents had a very, like, they, they were kind of like living through us in a way too, and everything had to be competitive and we all had to achieve. And also that happened in our parents’ marriages in between siblings and.

Heather: It’s deep. But just, you know, I read that research and I was like, Heather, this is a very good thing for you to know. So every time I’m like, oh, he hasn’t done the laundry today. I’m like, or has he? And I just don’t know that he’s done it today?

Sonya Looney: And I think we also expect everything to be equal all the time when it’s just not, and that’s hard because man, women do more than men. Like that’s not the case a hundred percent of the time, but it is the case most of the time. And that can be really frustrating.

Like, especially when you’re, you’re tired, like, or my husband, like I’m pregnant now. He’ll be like, oh, I’m so tired. Like, I’m like, oh, I’m just like, in my mind, I’m like, oh please.

Heather: You’re like, I grew a liver today.

Sonya Looney: And just like having grace. Like, I don’t know. I don’t mean to sound condescending to men, but like men just aren’t as capable as women in a lot of ways I think.

Heather: I love that. And echo that. Yeah.

Sonya Looney: There’s a reason why men don’t have babies.

Heather: Yeah. There are so many reasons why they don’t have babies. Yes.

Maureen: I think it’s something a lot of us struggle with. I don’t know. My husband and I, when we got together were very like, you know, he’s very feminist and we, you know, had these expectations of equality and reciprocity and then we had kids and frankly, it just fell the fuck apart because I was the one making the babies and feeding the babies. And you just can’t reciprocate that.

Sonya Looney: Yeah. I’d be interested to hear from female couples and to see what that looks like for them. Yeah.

Heather: Oh yeah, absolutely. So you talk a lot about realistic optimism and perseverance. So I’m imagining that you do that with your relationship as well, but that seems to be the key to your success as a professional cyclist. So, did you also apply that to your breastfeeding journey and what was your biggest breastfeeding struggle?

Sonya Looney: Absolutely. You know, when I say realistic optimism, I mean, being able to accept difficult emotions and not pretend that they’re not there because quote, toxic positivity is just saying, oh, everything’s wonderful and just denying and pushing down all the hard things.

Realistic optimism is feeling and accepting those things, but still believing ultimately that with effort or with time that things will get better. And that definitely applies to breastfeeding. Like I’m interested to see what my experience is the second time around, but the first time around, as I mentioned, I didn’t really have the support that I was hoping for.

And it freaking hurt. Like it was insanely painful. Actually making fun of, I was making fun of my husband a second ago. Like yesterday he went for this like 14 mile run and he came back. I forgot to put the band-aids on my nipples. My nipples hurt so bad. I can’t like take a shower. The water hurts it. The shirt hurts it. I’m like welcome to what breastfeeding feels like whenever you.

Heather: You’re like, wait, come here. Let me suck on them.

Sonya Looney: Oh, he’s like, yeah. I was actually thinking about that. I was thinking about you. And with that, because I didn’t wear a shirt. I couldn’t wear a shirt for like a really long time. The baby, like I was fortunate in that the baby was latching and getting enough milk and calories, but it was, it felt like razorblades were cutting my nipples and there was a hole in my nipple.

And then the doctor prescribed this nipple cream and I just kept using it and using it and using it. And it was actually making things worse because it was somehow like thinning the nipple. So, and that went on for like at least six weeks. So just telling myself like 40 days or however many days, like this isn’t normal, this is going to get better.

I’m going to be able to get the support. That’s the optimism piece. But also saying like this fricking hurts and this sucks right now and like, Oh, actually, I would say to myself, like, well, birth hurt really bad so I can get through this. Because it would, it wouldn’t hurt after a little while, once the baby got going.

But yeah, I would be a little bit nervous every time I was trying to feed the baby. It was a win when I could finally take a shower and not have the water hurt on my nipples. So yeah, breastfeeding is, is not I hopefully that isn’t the case for everybody where it takes that long for things to resolve themselves, but I knew that it would get better and that’s where that optimism and perseverance came in. And yeah, I think that that really helped me.

Heather: I’m really glad you brought that up about the all-purpose nipple ointment, because it has a steroid in it. And the steroid with long-term use does thin the skin and it makes it a lot more fragile.

So if the cause of the pain is like a weird latch or a tongue tie or something, and that hasn’t been resolved now, you’re just basically injuring it with even more fragile skin. So I usually have my patients stop using it after five days, because if it’s not resolved by then we need to be looking in a different direction.

We need to be trying to figure something else out. So thank you for bringing that up. And that was a perfect little thing to say there.

Maureen: Now, I wonder, you know, you’re pregnant again. And that experience that you described frankly, would cause quite a lot of people to decide not to breastfeed or to do things very differently. So are you planning something different this time? Do you have different support systems or, you know, what do you think is going to happen?

Sonya Looney: Oh, I’m planning to do exactly the same way. There’s the optimism piece. And even if it was the same way, I would still do it all over again cause I think it’s worth it. Hopefully I’ll have more support early on if something like that should happen. Like hopefully I could see a lactation consultant in person or, you know, that kind of thing.

What helped me resolve it last time was number one, stopping the nipple, all-purpose nipple ointment. And eventually I was able to have like a zoom call with a lactation consultant and she recommended trying a different position for feeding the baby in and it was awkward. It would have been nice to have somebody help me position the baby properly to try different positions.

Cause it just feels so weird and you have this like tiny baby you’re like, what am I doing? But changing the, the position of the baby, it was really helpful.

So those two things ultimately helped me heal and move on with breastfeeding and also seeing other women breastfeed and knowing that like, I would just see a baby like, you know, you’re, you’re trying to breastfeed you like trying to make, like, make the sandwich and you’re trying to like jam it up, up, jam your nipple up so that it’s like, goes back into the baby’s throat.

And you’re like, this is so complicated. And like, my husband was trying to help and all this stuff, and then you’ll see a woman just like the baby, just like grab, just opens the shirt, the baby’s just on the nipple.

So I knew that that was possible. And that eventually became a reality. It’s just, there’s learning, there’s learning process involved. So yeah, I’m hoping that I’m hoping that it’s not as painful this time around and that I know what I’m doing a little bit more so that it’s better, but also knowing that it will be easier to get the support if I need it.

Maureen: Yeah. I feel like the first two months of breastfeeding to me always feel like learning to juggle where you’re like, okay, two balls. Like God, I kept throwing them in the air. What are we doing with the third ball? They’re all falling to the ground. I’m dropping one.

I don’t know what I’m doing because every, every single time you’re like, I’ve got this and then something changes and it’s hard again. And there’s this whole human who can’t move their own body the right way that you have to wrangle.

Sonya Looney: Or two humans. My heart goes out to those people with twins. Like I did all the reading on how you’re supposed to do that with twins. And that would just be so hard.

Heather: Did you ever stop and think on your hardest day, you’re like, I’m a freaking world champ cyclist. I can figure this out. This breastfeeding thing.

Sonya Looney: I, I think that that’s where, I didn’t specifically think that, but I’m sure that that’s in there because anybody listening, like all the things that you’ve done, all your confidence comes from past positive experiences that you’ve had, and those all build upon each other.

So yeah, anytime you’re struggling with whatever it is in motherhood, in your life, just looking back at past positive experiences and things that you got through that helps you build resilience so that, you know, you can continue to get through hard things.

Heather: Ooh, that’s a good point too, because a lot of people, maybe even our young mothers, we might even have some teen moms out there. Shout out to you guys. That’s incredible what you’re doing if you’re choosing to breastfeed. And maybe this is the first really, really, really hard thing that you’ve done and just know that if you stick with it, it’s going to be that thing that you can be very proud of. And it’s a very good foundation for the next thing that you want to try to achieve.

And someday it will be like, well, if I can figure out breastfeeding, I can definitely figure out insert the blank, whatever you want to do. So thank you for bringing that up Sonya.

Sonya Looney: Yeah. And it does get easier. Just that optimism piece, like this will get easier. And you’re not alone. You’re not the only one experiencing this.

Maureen: Yeah. And you know, I want to encourage you too, and say it is usually easier with the second baby or third baby. Regardless of what happens with that baby, just because you’ve actually done it before and there’s yeah. Yeah.

And you know, I was really a little bit afraid of breastfeeding my second baby cause my first was a disaster for the first eight weeks. Everything hurt and it was terrible, but like you said, it got better mostly just cause I pushed right through it. And the second time I was like, oh right. Yeah. I remember the things that it took me eight weeks to figure out. I can do that day one.

Heather: Yeah. And even just having the confidence to make one phone call. And I’m glad that you had a really good experience with the lactation consultant over zoom because a lot of people don’t think that that’s a good option and there are lactation consultants all over the United States now that can do this through zoom and it is very, successful.

Maureen: I mean, we’re both doing it through zoom now, too, because it frankly, like people, you know, we’re working in a pandemic and I guess we’re just going to keep working in a pandemic.

Heather: Well, I mean, part of it, it’s not that I don’t like seeing people in person cause I absolutely still do that also, but it’s nice to have that extra tool available and know that it works because a lot of people just don’t want to leave their house.

Like people that are local to me are like, can we actually do zoom because I just don’t feel like leaving? And I’m like, sure, don’t put pants on. Don’t worry about it. But Hey, I’m I have a surprise for Maureen and she doesn’t know about this yet, but I told Sonya ahead of time. I’m going to give it to her. Okay. So I have here these Moxy & Grit socks by Sonya Looney.

So in addition to all of the other amazing things that she does, she has designed these super cool socks and you get to pick which one you want. Okay. Well the blue ones say fucking magical. And this one, this one says, do epic shit.

Maureen: I still want the blue ones. Yeah. Yeah.

Heather: They’re perfect. I kind of figured that’s the one that you were going to pick. I just love the optimism and just like this straightforward style that you have where you’re just like, yep, Nope. This is how I feel. So do epic shit and keep going. You’re fucking magical. I love all of that. And I love what you stand for.

And we had prepped our patrons ahead of time telling them that we were going to be interviewing you and we asked them for some questions. Do you mind if we hit you with a little bit of a lightning round of questions here? Okay. Lindsay wants to know; can you help me find a bike seat that doesn’t hurt my vagina bones?

Sonya Looney: Yes. So number one, it’s probably your sit bones, your ischial tuberosities and your pelvis. And the first thing I would ask is, are you wearing padded bike shorts? Because if you’re not wearing padded bike shorts, whether you’re on a spin bike or a regular bike, that’s probably going to be pretty uncomfortable.

Number two, using it’s called chamois cream, like a lubricant, every time you ride. That prevents chafing and saddle sores and things like that, like those are two things that you kind of need. Getting a proper bike fit as well, because think of the bike seat, like it could be pointed up, pointed down, forward, backward.

Like there’s a lot of variability there. So making sure that you’ve had a proper bike fit at a bike shop or with a bike fitter can, if you’re having crotch pain, like you just shouldn’t be having crotch pain. If your, if your sit bones feel bruised and you haven’t been riding very much, that is normal and that will go away over time.

In fact, I had my husband and I somehow had the flu in November for like two or three weeks and we didn’t ride our bikes at all. And getting back on my bike I actually, my sit bones, even though I’ve been riding since 2003, still felt bruised getting on my bike. So like, It just takes that takes a little bit of time.

And then trying out different saddles. So there are women’s specific saddles, but that doesn’t work for everybody. In fact, I don’t like women’s specific saddles for me, but a lot of people do. So trying different saddles, cause they’re all a little bit different.

Some companies have demo programs, so you don’t have to actually spend the money on a saddle, but really like the bike, having a proper bike fit, wearing padded bike shorts and using lubricant. Those three things will really help you.

And then finding a saddle that you like. The saddle that I like is they’re actually, they are not a sponsor. They’re just a saddle that I like. WTB is the brand. And rocket is the model.

And actually saddle companies will make different width saddles as well because everybody has different width sit bones and might actually measure narrow, but I still buy a wider saddle because that’s actually more comfortable for me, even though everybody kept telling me you could run into more narrow saddle and it wasn’t as comfortable.

So there might be a lot more information than everybody wanted to hear about bike seats. But yeah, you shouldn’t be in a lot of pain when you’re riding your bike.

Maureen: Yeah, no, I’m sure that’s a very appreciated answer. Well, we, we kind of went into this already, but I’ll ask it again. What do you think made the biggest difference for you with your milk supply as a pro athlete?

Sonya Looney: Just eating enough calories and just being as healthy as possible and being hydrated. Yeah.

Heather: Oh, Jacqueline Kelly, one of our patrons, she definitely had the same issue that you had. She’s you know, and this goes, you’ve already answered this, but basically she said she lost so much weight on her breastfeeding journey that her BMI was underweight. She’s interested in a plant-based diet that is nutrient and good calorie dense. So we’ll be sure to send Jacqueline the cookbook.

Sonya Looney: I’m going to interrupt really quick with two books that you can add. Vegan Pregnancy, I think is what it’s called by Reed Mangels. That’s a really great nutrition book. And I think she also talks about postpartum. And then the book Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis is just generally a great book if you want to eat plant-based.

And since then, there’s been two books that have come out for raising plant-based children and also plant-based breastfeeding and postpartum. One of them is Nourish. That’s also by Brenda Davis and Reshma Shah, who is a pediatrician or I think she’s a pediatrician.

And then the other book is I think it’s called Plant-based Juniors or the Plant-based Baby and Baby and Toddler. I’m blanking on the author’s names, but those are other great resources that involve breastfeeding, but also like, and beyond.

Heather: That’s awesome. Cause I’m sure we have a lot of people listening right now who have been interested in it, but frankly are too overwhelmed and they don’t know where to go first. So that’ll be very helpful at least as a good starting place for those people.

And then Susie Hirschhorn who we love, and she always gives us really good questions. She says, she’s interested in hearing about how, if and how cycling changed for you both during pregnancy and the postpartum era. Not just physically, but mentally.

Sonya Looney: Yeah, I think that, I mean, during pregnancy you have to ride differently. You just, you, you can’t do as much as you were doing before. I mean, maybe someone can, but I couldn’t. Even this pregnancy, which is physically, like, I feel like I’m able to push myself harder and I’m training a lot more hours than I was.

I still just have to ride differently because I can’t take risks. I can’t work on my technical ability. So that is different. And then whenever you get back on your bike postpartum, it’s strange because all of a sudden you had this huge belly and then it’s just gone.

So your center of mass has changed rapidly, whereas when you’re getting pregnant or when you’re getting more pregnant, you see your body slowly changes, but after you have a baby it more rapidly changes, so getting your balance back might feel a little bit weird.

And also the mental aspect of like, and this is just for mountain biking specifically, but if you’re a skier or another like extreme sports athlete, you could probably relate. Like when you’re pregnant, you are being more cautious. So your brain, you’re always looking at, you’re scanning to say, okay, do I need to stop?

Whereas when you’re not pregnant, that’s not what you’re scanning for. So you have to change that mindset of do I need to stop. But then there’s also the mindset of, well, I, I still don’t want to take too much of a risk because if I get hurt, I still need to take care of my baby. So that is a balance that everyone has to manage for themselves.

And that, yeah. And then also when you’re breastfeeding, you do have to think about like, I might not be able to train as long as I wanted to cause I have to get back to feed the baby or I have, I have to pump or whatever the reason is. So it can’t, training can’t be number one priority for a while.

Heather: Yeah. Do you plan to do a hands-free pump for longer rides and you know, pump while you’re riding?

Sonya Looney: I spent a lot of money on pumps last time and I bought both a regular pump and a hands-free pump and the hands-free pump just was super uncomfortable. I tried the different flange sizes; the yield wasn’t very good. And in fact, once my baby got a lot bigger, pumping, I couldn’t get anything out with the hands-free pump versus the regular pump.

Yeah. So I, that doesn’t really work for me. And I, I loved the idea of that because I have some big goals this summer, but I just don’t see that happening.

Heather: Which one did you use? Can I ask?

Sonya Looney: What the heck there’s only two brands. It wasn’t Elvie. It was the other one.

Maureen: It was the Willow. We have so many thoughts and feelings.

Heather: Well, if you wanted to try another one and it’s actually a more economical one, the Elvie Stride has a lower profile and they’re not as heavy because the vacuum is actually in a little pack the size of your cell phone that goes on your hip.

So it fits a lot nicer in your bra and it’s not as heavy and you can completely control it with your phone. So if you have like a phone dock on your bike or whatever, you can just hit the button and you never actually have to touch the pump.

And the Willow sucks your nipple in there and creates constant suction to even stay on. So that’s impossible to just like wear around. The Elvie Stride doesn’t, so you can comfortably just like wear it until you’re ready to hit start, and then it will then start sucking your nipple in.

Maureen: I have a question though. You reminded me of this because I skied a lot when I was pregnant. And now when I ski, I put my child in a sled behind me. Do you ever bike with your baby? Do you have a little wagon?

Sonya Looney: I had the, I had like this chariot thing that was supposed to be pulled behind, but honestly, finding the right axle for the bike proved to be such an issue because I, I couldn’t find the right one. So I had never actually put him in the trailer and used it. I used it as a running stroller.

The thing I did get there’s this thing, there’s different brands, but there’s like, it’s basically a seat that you just put on your top tube of your bike. And then the kid holds onto the handlebar. Some people are more confident doing that than I am.

And I was super nervous. Like I remember the first ride I took him on. It was just on the road. Like my legs were like jelly when I got off my bike, because I was so worried that he was going to let go and fall off because they’ll like take their hands off and point.

And now I would feel a lot more confident cause my son’s almost two and he can communicate and all these things. So I am planning to do that this summer, but with like a smaller baby, I’m not as comfortable or confident doing that.

Heather: Yeah. I mean, I’m barely confident on a bike by myself. I got problems. So Sonya. What do you have going on in 2022, as far as epic shit, other than birthing your second human, which is clearly more than enough?

Sonya Looney: Getting back to racing. Number one, like I didn’t plan to take this much time off of racing. I was ready to race three months after I had my son in 2020, but then there were no races, so I didn’t get to race in 2020. Then last year, 2021, I live in Canada, and the border was closed. So there were races happening in the US but Canada’s restrictions were much stricter than the US so there were no racing events in Canada.

And then if you wanted to leave, you’d have to come back and spend over $2,000 to stay in a quarantine hotel for three days, and then you’d have to go home and still spend 11 more days quarantining your house. And the government actually does check on you and call you. And there’s like, it was a $750,000 fine if you’re caught, like leaving quarantine.

So racing didn’t happen in 2021 because of all of that. And as I was progressing through that, I thought, well, we do want to have another kid. If I wait until 2022 to have the other kid, there’ll be another year off of racing. So we decided in the summer to try to get pregnant, which fortunately we did.

So it’ll have been about three years from start line to start line because I got pregnant June 2019, and my first race back if all things go well, we’ll be June 2022. So getting back to racing and it’s going to be really hard. Like it’s going to be super humbling because I haven’t done it in a while.

And when I left racing or whenever I, you know, got pregnant and stopped racing, I was at the top of my game. Like I was like winning most of the races I went to and that’s not going to be the case. And I have to have realistic expectations of that and be focused on small goals and small gains instead of winning, which is going to be fun and relatable, but also a good personal challenge.

So yeah, lots of races planned the summer. My husband is going to get to race too, cause we a family that’s going to be coming to help us and just trying to you know, set a positive example that there’s so much that you can do.

And so much, if you’re willing to try, it’s not going to look perfect and it’s not gonna go exactly to plan, but if you’re willing to try, like you, you can get so much more out of yourself. So that’s my process going into this year and I’m more motivated than ever to get back out there and race and to build back up again.

Heather: Listen, we are all here for it. You’ve got thousands of Milk Minute listeners who are behind you. We are going to be sending you all the best racing vibes June 2022. And we’ll definitely be thinking about you. So we’ll, we’ll keep everybody posted, especially in our Patreon and we’ll keep tabs on you.

Sonya Looney: Awesome. Thanks.

Heather: Absolutely.

Maureen: Well Sonya, could you give us a last plug for all of the places that our listeners can find you?

Sonya Looney: Yeah, I think my website’s the best place to find everything and that’s just I have a weekly newsletter I send out or I research a thought of the week and it’s, it’s always about performance and wellbeing. So lots of different things, you don’t, you don’t even have to be an athlete. It’s not even about athletics. It’s just about performance and wellbeing in life.

And then I have a weekly podcast, the Sonya Looney Show, which is also about high-performance and wellbeing and just social media. I’m most active on Instagram.

Heather: Awesome. What’s your handle?

Sonya Looney: @SonyaLooney

Heather: Perfect.

Maureen: Easy.

Heather: Super easy. Well, Sonya, thank you so much. This has been very inspirational and you’ve given us a lot of really good, tangible and tactical things that we can do to improve our performance as mothers and as athletes and mentally to just overcome a lot of the challenges of you know, quote unquote not being what we used to be.

It’s like, maybe you’re better? I mean, who knows? Realistic optimism. You got to get back out there.

Sonya Looney: Yeah, one last thing I want to say is that being a mom has actually helped me with my self-compassion, not the opposite. Because you have to. Like saying it’s okay when things are going well, when things are hard and things aren’t going the way that you want them to.

And also knowing that like, as a mom, you might not be able to achieve at the same level or at the same speed as you once were before you had a baby and still knowing that you’re going to be okay. Like self-compassion is I’m okay no matter what. I’m, I’m good no matter what. I don’t need the shiny things to validate that.

And being a mom has really helped me become even more in tuned with that self-compassion piece.

Heather: That’s beautiful. Thank you. And I hope that, that is my hope for all of our listeners as well and myself. All right, Sonya. Well, you have a great day. Thank you so much for coming and being on our podcast.

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I love Sonya.

Maureen: Me too. I’m really excited that we had that talk. I just, it’s been a long time since I even really thought about the cycling world. Like it’s been so long since biking was a big part of my life that I’m like, oh, I guess I could bike again.

Heather: You know what I like thinking about? I like thinking about all the things that I am not yet, that I will be.

Maureen: Yeah.

Heather: Who’s to say that I’m not going to be an amazing cyclist some day? You know, when you’re postpartum, everything feels impossible to a point. But when you come out of it, like my daughter is three now, and I do have a little bit of time.

Not really, but I, you know, I could, if I so chose prioritize a new hobby and knowing me and knowing the things that we’ve already accomplished, I’m very confident that I could probably get good at cycling if I wanted to.

And that excites me, you know, I, by the way, update on my 10K training. Oh. I ran for an hour and seven minutes the other day and it felt really good.

Maureen: Oh yeah? It was like, it did not feel like a slog?

Heather: No, it didn’t feel like a slog. So I think I’m like 22 workouts in, so I’m like 22 runs into a 32-run program for this 10K. So I’m loving it and I feel really good. And it’s taken me a long time to get here. So I mean, who the heck knows?

Maureen: This morning I got the Wordle in one guess.

Heather: Well, aren’t you smart? So whether your goals are to be a world champion cyclist and bike for a hundred miles or get the Wordle right today, we hope that the world is your oyster and you can continue to move towards whatever goals you have.

Maureen: Well, in that vein, let’s give somebody an award for whatever bad-ass shit they did. Today’s award goes to one of our patrons, Lauren. And Lauren told us that she’s finally enjoying going to her in-law’s house now as much as she can 😉 because she’s finally comfortable feeding her baby in front of them. No more sequestering herself in the cold bedroom.

Heather: Heck yeah. And what is the deal with in-laws always having cold bedrooms? I don’t get that.

Maureen: I don’t know. Why is it always uncomfortable to feed your baby at your in-laws? This is a universal thing we deal with, but congratulations. Good job building some confidence. I feel like this is a good award for this episode because we just basically talked about being confident in yourself and believing in yourself the entire time.

Heather: Yeah. And having agency.

Maureen: Well, the award we want to give you today is a bit of a mouthful, but we want to give you the Realistic Optimist Award in honor of Sonya.

Heather: Yes, you have to be realistic about what you can and cannot be comfortable with at your in-law’s house, but with enough perseverance and optimism, you can achieve your own level of peace no matter where you’re trying to feed your baby. And we couldn’t be more proud of you, Lauren. Yeah.

Maureen: Yeah. So good job. You’re a bad-ass and thank you so much for listening and being a patron.

Heather: And get your in-laws a space heater for crying out loud.

Maureen: Okay. Well, everybody, thank you so much for listening to another episode of the Milk Minute.

Heather: The way we change this big system that is not set up for lactating parents is by educating ourselves, our friends and our children.

Maureen: If you can, we deeply appreciate checking out our Patreon where you can contribute some money monthly to us and you get cool perks. And if you can’t, we really appreciate you just telling a single other parent about this podcast.

Heather: Yeah, know any cyclists? Know any people who really just enjoy being a super athlete or plant-based? Please send them this episode. It might change everything for them.

Maureen: Okay, everybody. And if you have any questions, wins you want to submit or just something you’d like to say to us, please feel free to email us at MilkMinutePodcast@gmail.Com. It’s been a Milk Minute. Bye.


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