April 18, 2021

Week 4 - 4/18/21

I took the week off this week. Like, completely off. From Sunday to Saturday, I did no exercise at all, to see if it would help the weird foot-swelling issue. It didn't. Every day was exactly the same as if I'd been exercising like normal. Oh well. 

It was another tons-of-medical appointments this week: dentist, metabolic testing, two MRIs that then turned into three MRIs. (Like, they called me an hour after my foot MRI to tell me that they needed to redo it because for some bizarre reason, the doctor actually asked for an MRI of my heel rather than the top of the foot, which is what hurts and is swelling. Which makes me worry about this doctor. In any case, I can't get my results until the 27th (foot) and May 14th (wrist) because the doctors won't get them to me until my appointment. Which means that tomorrow, I'll be on the phone with the radiologist to request my results be sent directly to me. UGH.)

I've entered the really hard time of the year for me - April and May, every year, between oak allergies, the heat rolling in, and the PTSD crap from May 2014 and May 2015. I guess it was a pretty poor time to think I could start writing here again. 

Win for the week: Metabolic testing confirms that my metabolism IS very high/fast, about 20% faster than other women my size/age, and that I burn about 2200 calories at absolute rest, and more like 2800-3200 per day depending on activity. So I can absolutely confirm that it's NOT overeating that's causing my body to be unable to lose weight. One more medical test out of the way!

April 15, 2021

TBT: Portland Food

March, 2014. Jason flew to Portland for a work conference and I tagged along for the price of my own ticket. For three days, I met with three Portland-area friends that I'd never met in person before, and walked 6-9 miles a day around downtown Portland. I would describe this particular vacation as one of the happiest times of my life, and I have a lot of nostalgia surrounding it. I adore Portland. It's one of the only places in the world that I would one day consider moving again, if I were to ever move again.

And in some ways, I adore the person that I was at that time. The photo I chose was of my lunch on the afternoon I spent with a friend named Cindy. At the time, I was very strictly gluten-free. (I didn't know it yet, but the reactions I was having to gluten were caused by a medication I was on.) Portland not only knew what was in their ingredients - even at the food trucks - but had plenty of alternative options. This lunch was on teff bread, an open-faced sandwich with tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, feta, and chicken. Looking at that photo now, I think about how beautiful that sandwich was, and how there's no way in hell I'd eat it right now. I was slightly wary at the time, tbh, but willing...and it was delicious. See, I don't like mushrooms or olives or raw tomatoes. And yet, I trusted the restaurant, and trusted my body, and gave it a chance. The difference between 2014-me and 2021-me is that the former was willing to eat just about anything, and the latter has relapsed into pre-veggie days of fear and limited diet. I miss 2014-me, and not just because she was thin.

I haven't been around much lately. Honestly, I've been quite overwhelmed this last week with medical appointments and tests. I've seen three doctors, a dentist, had three MRIs, and a metabolic test all within 7 days. At the same time as five other events to attend (from hikes to chauffeuring my kid to his theatre audition). I have several things scheduled for the rest of the week, and soon I'll have the follow-ups to all the MRIs, and meanwhile the things I normally take care of day after day are falling behind, both household chores and fun stuff like blogging. Hopefully soon, I can have a week or two OFF, and catch up!

April 12, 2021

Week 3 - 4/11/21

I meant to write this yesterday, but had to be up early for a hike and then I was pretty much busy all day. Honestly, it doesn't matter much, as I didn't do much this week. I had a very upsetting appointment with an endocrinologist early in the week, filled with fat stigma that I ranted about via Instagram day-of, and spent most of the week simultaneously angry and depressed. Yesterday's hike was a journaling hike about self-acceptance, and it helped me to realize a few things.

First, I am the queen of self-sabotage. The thing is, I'm 100% aware that I'm doing it. I'll talk about coffee in more detail sometime soon, but the short bit is that I'm 95% sure that coffee is at the root of my inflammation and inability to lose weight, as well as my massive weight gain in 2014/2015. But giving up coffee is hard, and not just because of addiction. Part of me is afraid that even if I do give it up, that 5% of me that isn't sure I have the right answer will be correct, and then I'll just be left adrift, unsure what to do next, and unable to do much at all. That is terrifying. Letting go is tough, letting yourself hang off the precipice and just hope that the parachute you've told is working will catch you when you jump. And I'm not a very brave individual.

(Self Sabotage)

Second, if I'm not ready to face that fear, I'm going to need to work to accept the new body I'm in. I'd gotten to a point, at 230 lbs, that I'd accepted the body I'd been in for many years at that point. But with this additional 20 lbs of gain, it's tougher. I have a lot more physical problems, none of my clothes fit, and I'm just downright uncomfortable. Each day this week, as we went through a major heat wave that had temps almost in the 100s, I would pull out summer clothes to wear and realize none of them fit well anymore. I don't want to buy a new wardrobe for a measly 20 lbs, but I'm going to have to. It feels so different, buying clothes here and there for fun, vs having to buy them because you're too fat to fit into your old ones. I told Jason last night that I'm going to need a little extra emotional support right now, because I'm beating myself up and frustrated and angry and irrational a lot of the time.

Most of the exercise I got in this week was just walking around my bedroom while I listened to podcasts. I've been trying not to aggravate my foot, but there have been days when I even after resting all day, it swells up in that weird localized triangle. My MRI is Wednesday, so hopefully I'll have answers soon. I did go on two hikes, and got a single yoga session in. But I ignored my strength training and higher intensity exercise, just too tired and angry and frustrated to do much more. 

(Honestly, I'd guess that my frustration and anger, which led me to stop tracking my food or focusing on eating more carbs, has led me back into eating too much fat, which is making me more tired and depressed, and the cycle continues.)

I haven't stepped on the scale. The last time I was doing so regularly, it was starting to climb up again, and I'd guess I'm closer to 250 today. Only 10 lbs under my highest ever weight.

Win for the week: When I experienced the extreme fat-phobia and fat-bias at the endocrinologist, I spoke up about it, first on social media, sharing my experience, and then to my primary care doctor, letting her know that I would not be going back to that particular specialist and asking for a referral to someone new.

April 10, 2021

Love My Body (2, 3)

I missed this last Saturday. Oops.

Reasons I love my body:

My body always tells me when something is wrong. It may tell me chaotically, and I may not be able to understand its language all the time, but its voice is very loud.

I also really like the shape of my ankles. (Pic from Nov 2013)

April 8, 2021

TBT: Muscles

June, 2013. At goal weight, and about to start a strength training plan with my three boys, who at the time were aged 12, 10, and 9. (They took pictures like this, too, so I had to include them below!) It was our summer goal, to train together. I'm not sure how far we got (ha!) but it was fun.

April 7, 2021

The Big D

A big part of my personality is that I look for patterns in life. Sometimes these are useful (like noticing health trends) and sometimes they're purely psychological (like seeing significance in the fact that my grandfather passed away exactly a year after the man who sang the song played at my other grandfather's funeral). The Big D is one of the latter. In my mind, it's a kind of boomerang situation that involves a lot of predetermination/fate and "the right path," combined with happiness and purpose in life. Let me give the example that first caused me to remark on it.

In 1989, my family packed up and moved from South Carolina to Texas. I was ten years old and absolutely didn't want to go. We left on August 1st and arrived roughly two days later. But I remember August 1st specifically. In my mind, it marked the day my life was knocked off the path it was meant to be on. I struggled for a good many years. The move to TX caused major culture shock right at the beginning of puberty and adolescence, and I went from being a carefree, extroverted, outspoken child to a withdrawn, silent observer of life. I developed complex PTSD from bullying and the rampant crime in my neighborhood, not to mention basically becoming a third parent due to our extreme poverty. For about four years, everything was awful. Then I entered a period of time when things became okay. I started to return to my normal state of being. I started talking again, made friends, felt part of a group in my swim team, etc. For a number of years, things were no longer bad, but they weren't good or right either. They felt like they were swinging back to the right place, and the pace of it increased over time (like the upswing of a bungee jump). By January 1999, I felt like I was sprinting toward the right path, and that culminated in a four-day "everything is perfect" period from Aug 1 to 4 in 1999. Everything in my world felt perfect and right and exactly as it should be for the first time in years.

My brain saw it all as a big D - speeding away from the "correct" path of my life (represented by the line), slowing to the curve, and then speeding up back toward the right place again. And this isn't the only time I've felt my life swing out of control, off the path, and out onto the curve of that D again.

This time, I don't have a particular date. Bad Things began to happen in mid-2013, but I weathered those knocks and kept myself together. But April/May 2014 destroyed me, and nothing has been right since. True to form, things were worse in the beginning. Mid-2014 to mid-2015 was probably the worst year I've ever suffered in my life. I was destroyed mind body and soul until there was nothing left of me remaining. The next few years were an exercise in pain, no longer the excruciating sharp pain but a longterm damage that never lets up. Things began to move toward an equilibrium in late 2017, and for 2.5 years, they stayed fairly neutral. In December 2019, they began swinging back toward that straight line of my D. 

I don't know how long this particular D will last - or if it'll become a B or some other letter, heh - but part of me follows the pattern and expects April/May 2024 to be magical. As things stand, there is already improvement, and I feel like I'm getting back on track, no longer wandering lost, pushing toward the path I'm supposed to be on again. It feels nice to not be flailing anymore, and I look forward to the day that I can heal enough to feel whole and complete again.

Because this is really what it's about, all patterns and timelines aside. The shape of grief and recovery from trauma. These things truly take time. I'm really just happy to be on the upswing (downswing? in-swing?) again.

April 5, 2021

Training Goal: Emory Peak

In mid-October, a certain number of women from my hiking group is heading out to Big Bend National Park for a week. Some are camping - I'm going to be in an AirBnB with a few others - and we're going to spend the week hiking. (Of course!) There's one trail that is going to test us all: Emory Peak. Emory Peak is a ten-mile roundtrip hike with a 2500-foot elevation gain. Some of us (likely not me) will scramble up a sheer rock for 25-50 feet at the very end for an even more panoramic view. I have no idea how steep the trail is (except for the last bit), but one way or another, this is going to be a difficult hike. And it will require training.

I have six months to prep for this hike. Maybe less, if my MRIs next week result in me getting my foot booted. I'm still looking for good training plans, but I know what I need to combine:

  • progressively longer hikes/walks to get my body used to longer distances
  • heavy strength training, especially lower body, for the elevation climb
  • yoga yoga yoga!! I need to keep my muscles limber and flexible, and prevent further injuries
  • foam rolling (more injury prevention)
  • high-burst anaerobic cardio (rowing, boxing, running, difficult hikes with steep grades), especially in intervals, to strengthen heart/lungs
These are not all things I love. Not a fan of heavy ST or interval-training in particular. But I know I've been overly reliant on gentle/easy-paced hikes and walks over the last few months. There's nothing wrong with this kind of exercise, but my body definitely improves overall fitness if I have more diversity in type and difficulty of exercise. After the strain of the Enchanted Rock hike, for instance, my max heart rate and lung capacity both improved noticeably. Gotta challenge your body to grow, yeah?

Hopefully I'll also be able to get some weight off me before Big Bend. Otherwise, a ten-mile, 2500-foot climb is going to be tough no matter what I do. But I plan to be in much better shape - regardless of weight - come October than I am now!