Wednesday, September 29, 2010

There's No Place Like Home...

Sorry I have been kind of silent again. I am going through one of those periods where there is lots going on but very little to say. I hate saying the same things over and over, so I have just been silent. 

The plateau continues, it has been over 8 weeks now with no movement on the scale, that part is frustrating and a little scary. Training with Nick is going well, it feels more and more natural as the weeks go by. I feel like the corner has been turned from where it feels like something I was forced to do but am glad about to just something I am glad about. It was a good change for me.

My eating is still a challenge, but I feel like I am learning a lot more about my eating issues in the last couple weeks than I have before and hope that will help me control it better. My realization for this weeks has been that it is not just one issue, but at least two and they each manifest very differently. The first, which I talked about in a previous post, I believe to be a true biological issue, where something triggers my body to not want food and to not be hungry. When this is in play I feel sick when I try to eat and nothing tastes good. But there is also a second stress related component that also leads to me not eating, but doesn't cause the food repulsion feeling or sick feeling, I just don't think about eating and if it isn't easy and convenient food isn't worth the effort. I wrestled with the second on my trip this week. The first I don't feel I have a lot of control over yet, since we don't know the trigger, but this second one I need to get better about. I need to force my way through that mood.

Part of what was stressing me out this week was being away from home. That sounds so weird coming from someone who loves to travel and who is a "road warrior" but I realized this week it is yet another one of the changes in my life over the last year. In some ways it is a good and comforting change, in some ways it is a negative I need to figure out.

First the good. This is going to sound odd to those that don't know me well, but for the first time in my life in the last year I have been homesick. It sounds weird to call that good, but what is good about it is that for the first time in my life I do feel like I have a home base that I am connected to, that I miss. While I have lived in many cities and homes in my life, I never really connected with any of them. This is the second house I have owned, but the first I truly feel is a home. Beyond just my own house, I feel that way about my life in general at home. For the first time in my life I have places I feel I belong, I have a routine I am used to and being away from that is unnerving at times for me. When I am away I feel off kilter and can't wait to get back. I feel lost when I am away. This is a totally new and unusual feeling for me.

The second part, and the part I am trying hard to overcome, is how unstable my eating and workouts become when I am on the road. Part of the instability comes from being in situations where I don't have control of my time and access to food, but part of it is also just reverting back to that stress reaction.

This week I truly had no excuse to let my food and workouts suffer. While I am traveling my days were spent working at the home of a dear friend and colleague. Hilary is an amazing house, keeps her house well stocked with very healthy foods, is totally supportive of my food restrictions and issues, and yet I still had two days where my calories were SIGNIFICANTLY below where I should have been. I have no one to blame for that but me. Add on top of that that I packed multiple food items to suppliment things if needed, and still I didn't eat enough.

The sad part is I have myself stressed over how food is going to go before I even leave and probably sabatoge my first few days before I am out the door. I have a short vacation coming up in late October and today started panicing over whether to go or not because of food and being away from the gym for that long. The trip is over 3 weeks away and I was obsessing on it already. I came very close to cancelling, but luckily I have friends around me who remind me that I can't stop living or all that I have accomplished is wasted.

I would be lying if I said I don't miss the joy I used to find in traveling, for work or pleasure. I miss it being a natural part of my life where my greatest concern was if I would be upgraded or not. I want to find the fun in new cities like I used to. I want the carelessness back I had with food and eating on the road before, but I know this last one will never come back. Because that carelessness was typically just not eating and I can't go back there. But I do look forward to the day when this new way of eating will feel natural and manageable and not be a roadblock to me wanting to leave home.

The good news, I get to go home tomorrow!!!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

From Zero to Warp Speed Overnight........Maybe this is why I fight with food....

WOW! There really is not another word to explain how the last 48 hours feel. I wrote in here how I felt very little was happening about trying to figure out what is going on with my body and not losing weight. I had barely pressed the post button and that all changed. Since Sunday afternoon I feel like I have gone from stuck in neutral to moving almost too fast to think. So if this post seems a little disjointed I apologize, my mind is going a lot faster than my fingers.

First the back story, no one who has read my blog before needs to be told I have eating issues. I have covered this extensively. But what has become really clear in the last few weeks is something is triggering it. I do really well for a period of time (a few days, a few weeks) and then like someone throwing a switch I have a day or more when I just cant deal with food. I really hadn't noticed this pattern until I started working with Nick and focusing on my eating. He had asked me when we hit a previous couple days of anti-food if I thought it could be weather related, or something I ate the night before and I kind of blew off the ideas, they seemed too simple. But yesterday when I hit another hard day I did notice it was grey and rainy out and started to research if there could be a link with weather.

I started my searching with a question to Todd (who is now officially part of my team doing my metabolic testing this weekend, but more on that in a minute). I asked about weather and appetite research and he sent me some great information on Melatonin. I figured that was the end of the topic but boy was I wrong. That set off a chain of emails, phone calls and reading that has me for the first time in my life fully realizing maybe the food issues are NOT just me not trying or being emotional, that there may truly be a biological a cause here, and the ironic part, we may have known the cause for the last 15 years and just never put the pieces together.

This next part may be confusing, I will do my best to share this without going tooooo neuro-geek! If you read back in the blog I have mentioned many times my neurological issues in the 90's. At the end of a very long battle with Pseudotumor Cerebri (aka Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension) in 1996 we realized that I have something called a Sulfa Conjugation Deficit Disorder. Simply put there are some enzyme issues in my liver that if I eat certain foods (anything high in Tyramine or anything with artificial sweeteners in it) or take certain medications my body totally wacks out. And for me this imbalance results in excess production of the fluid around the brain and spine (known as CSF or cerebrospinal fluid) and terrible headaches.

So why does this happen, because the enzymes that are out of balance in my body are the start of a long chain of events. For the geeks in the group...the chain is too much MAO (monoamine oxidase) is produced, MAO breaks down serotonin (so I have too little at times) and too little Serotonin lets the body make too much of the fluid.

The great part to the story is that we learned all this and resolved my medical nightmare by accident. I found an old article about CSF and MAO in the medical library and after I found that things moved VERY fast to finding my answer. I feel like I may be standing at the edge of another one of those moments.

In the 90's we stopped digging after we solved my PTC, we never went on to look at what else this might mean. For 14 years I have avoided certain foods and medications and never gave all this more thought til yesterday.

Being stuck on a plane for 3 hours I started digging for more about the Melatonin Todd had mentioned (got to love google and in-flight wifi) and how it all worked. Specifically I wanted to know if there had been any studies on Melatonin and Anorexia. I still thought I was on the sunlight path at that point, boy was I wrong.

One of the first things I started to see what that there was a link to serotonin and then I saw it.....MAO is involved in the Melatonin production process. Too much MAO can lead to too little Melatonin and too little Melatonin can lead to anorexia/anorexic tendencies. It was all there in black and white. At 37,000 feet I finally felt for the first time in 35 years that maybe this wasn't all my fault. That there could truly be a biological explanation for why I fight so hard with food at times, and it is all the same path that we already know is deficient in my body.

As I read more I realized that the sunshine path wasn't important (or was a lot less important) but it was Nick's other suggestion that was probably on is things I am eating the day before. The same foods that have the potential to trigger my CSF issues are possibly the cause of my eating issues also. In full disclosure I had a hot dog Sunday at the farmer's market, I know it is not a safe food for me, but I wanted it so I took the risk. That single hot dog could very well have been the trigger for my bad eating days the last two days. Something so simple could be behind all this, as it was with my years of spinal taps and surgeries for PTC.

I have spent the last day picking the brains of people I respect on this topic, including my previous Neurologist, and it seems like this is a real possibility and I thought that is where this would stop for now. At this moment there was nothing concrete I could do to know if my Melatonin was off or even go farther with the theories.

Then tonight I came back to my hotel and had an email from the nutritionist I saw a few weeks ago. One of the tests he had done on me finally came back. The test measured Adrenal Gland related levels. One of the results was a DHEA. DHEA is also part of this overall system (it is broken down by the same enzymes in the liver that we know are abnormal for me) and as I flipped through the results I saw it, my DHEA was elevated. Back to google and I learn that Melatonin and DHEA are often linked, if one is up the other is down. Yet another sign that this may really all be tied together. I may finally have an answer. And even if I don't have an answer, we have a path to examine.

So what comes next.....

I have an appt with the nutritionist to go over the test results (I have mixed feelings on this as he kind of bailed when I wasn't eating, but he is very knowledgeable on all this neurochemical stuff so I figure at least I will gain more information if nothing else)

Todd is redoing all my metabolic testing. I am having my Calorie Point (calories needed to just exist) test and my Cardio Point (heart rate ranges the highest percentage of fat are burned in) test repeated. We are also going to go over all my old blood work and see if there is anything obvious we should be re-examining.

None of this may come to anything, but I have to admit if even if this just a false blip on the radar, it has helped me a lot by just making me feel there is hope. That there could be a biological answer for all the struggling I am doing with food. That I am not just weak and unable to cope with food, but that there could be a reason this is happening. Even if Melatonin isn't the right answer, it has me back on the mission to find the answer.

PS for the geeks in the crowd.... the graphic at the top is a ribbon diagram of an MAO molecule.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sundays at Lakeville, 400 lbs and rainbows from the rain....

"I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go. You believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so even better things can fall together" Marilyn Monroe

Life never ceases to amaze the bad can reveal good, how a place of discomfort can become the greatest place of growth and how the changes we fear the most can turn into the greatest gifts. I have learned, or probably relearned, all three of these in the last 8 weeks.

Have all the lessons in all the change I have been going through been positive, no, I wont pretend they have. I have been reminding  that sometimes those you think have your best interest at heart truly can have alterior motives, that speaking your mind with some people is a waste of energy and that sometimes people you think are good at what they do were merely lucky.

But I am choosing to focus on the positive lessons, because the good far outweighs the bad over the last two months.

I guess the best way to explain what I am talking about is to recap where I am in life (along with apologizing for how long it has been since my last post).

Workouts and Trainer...

The trainer change has become a great blessing. For all my angst over needing to find a new trainer and then over trying to choose between Nick and Todd, it couldn't have turned out much better than it has. I am loving training with Nick and still have Todd as part of my "team" helping me with the metabolic side of things and an amazing support person. Instead of feeling like I had to pick one replacement in the ended up with a team of people around me and it is better than I could have imagined.

Nick has turned out to be a great trainer. In some ways a much better fit than Gui was for me. He gets what drives me, being a goal orientated person, and has worked with me to tap into that. We have come up with a list of goals for my workouts, my cardio and my longer term physical goals, and we re-evaluate/tweak them weekly (or as we cross each one)

The goals started out on Sept 6th as: a 10K on the treadmill, get the 5K under an hour (at that time it was taking 73 minutes)
TRX....30 straight squats
Strength Upper Body....up my bench press max by 10 lbs a week
Strength Lower Body....leg press 400 lbs
Nutrition....1 month of all days over 1500 calories
Long term goals....getting back to down hill skiing, scuba certification, 3 day breast cancer walk and rock wall climbing

I added one other in my mind, not sure if Nick agrees with this one, but I truly want to be at 199 lb by New Year's Eve!

For me having these goals has been really empowering. I do my best when I have a focus.  I am proud do say in the almost two weeks since we have set these I have met a good number of them...

Cardio....did the 10K last weekend, on the 5K today I brought the number down to 58 minutes and 45 seconds.
TRX...done last Tuesday
Strength lower body....last Tuesday I did the 400 lbs!!
Nutrition.....12 of the last 14 days have been over 1600 calories and most were over 1700.

My goals for the next a 5k outside at least twice, lose 5 lbs, get my TRX number to 50, my upper body weight goal to 100 and my lower body to 425.

I am incredibly proud of myself for these accomplishments. It is only looking back that I can see how complacent both Gui and I had become with my workouts, how I had been coasting and just doing it and really wasn't moving forward any more. I feel like I am back in the game and it feels wonderful.

And the best part is that with the changes in the people around me, I am now surrounded by people who get as excited about when I reach as milestone as I do, and that is helping me truly value my own level of pride in myself because I am not letting other people's indifference make me indifferent to it. And having that positive energy around me pushes me to try to go harder, longer, faster and reach even further.

The end to the story is I am actually glad the change happened. I still hate how it happened, and still have some anxiety over how unresolved parts of it feel to me, but I would never go back. I am glad I have the new people around me I do, they make me a better person in ways I could never have expected.


I wish I had as much positive to say here. This is probably my greatest area of frustration now. I am still up 4 lbs from where I was 7 weeks ago and nothing I do seems to be making a difference. I am working out, I am eating all this food, I am avoiding carbs, most dairy, sugar and still nothing. I feel like I am trying so hard and not making any forward progress.

There is part of me that is really scared too. I try to fight the thought but I still wonder at times if I have lost all my body is going to let me lose or if there is something more major metabolically/biologically that we haven't addressed and unless we figure it out I am doomed to stay where I am at.

And if I am totally honest it is stressing me out that we aren't being more aggressive about trying to figure out what is going on. I know I should probably be more patient, but I feel like we are wasting a lot of time with very little action to try to find an answer to why I am stalled. I know I am seeing this with a greater sense of urgency than everyone else, but I am just scared the longer we let this go on the harder it is going to be to get it moving again.

But just like the trainer change, I am trying really hard to focus on that at some point some good will come out of this frustration also.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Another LTF Goodbye....Lance....

Just found out another member of the Eagan LTF team is moving on, time for more more mixed feelings. And I have to admit I am not sure what the proper expression of my reaction is, which is why I am blogging about it, trying to figure my head out again.

This time around it's Lance who is leaving. He is being promoted and the position he is moving into is at another club. First and foremost Lance congratulations!!! The members at your new club are very lucky to get you, you are awesome at your job and am really glad LTF realizes that and is recognizing you by promoting you.

I have talked about Lance in the blog before, but for those who are newer readers the background. Lance is one of the Member Advisers (the term for the membership sales folks). He was the first person I met at Life Time. From our first meeting he has been incredibly supportive and my greatest cheerleader. Any time I hit a milestone it was Lance who was the first to congratulate me and often he was not only proud enough to tell me but was also (without me knowing it) sharing my photos and story with others within the club. It was Lance who first mentioned the Twins nomination to me and it was Lance who was there celebrating with me that night.

While I have valued Lance all along on this journey, in this last month he has also been my safe spot at the club. More than once I have ended up in his office in tears over the trainer changes and before my first session with Nick he was who I went to for advice and as a sounding board. That night turned out as well as it did because my talk with Lance opened my mind to what a great possibility Nick could be.

While I am really proud of Lance and happy for him on this next step in his career. I have to admit I felt the wind knocked out of me again when I got his email that he was leaving. I feel like I am losing another piece of my support system at a time when I am barely managing losing the last piece (Gui).

The difference is this time I am truly afraid to tell him how much I am going to miss him and how much him leaving saddens me because of how bad that blew up in my face with Gui. So my first reaction was I was going to go in today, smile, pretend I think this is wonderful and all that, but truth that is not who I am. I can't be fake, I can't lie about how I feel, and truth I am not sure I even want to. If the roles were reversed I would want to know people were sad I was going, that is a great compliment! We only get upset over losing those we value. But after how much grief admitting I was upset Gui was going caused I truly don't know what to do. At this point I am sorta hoping he is busy, that we don't cross paths at all and I don't have to deal with it. I know that is a cop out, but am too confused what face I am supposed to put on to deal with it. At this point no goodbye will be easier than messing up another valued friendship with honesty.

I wouldn't be completely honest in this post if I didn't say this didn't (again) have me kicking myself for letting people into my life and becoming dependent on their support. It is one of the changes I have made in the last year, letting people like Lance matter to me, that I am still not sure is the best thing I have done for myself. Don't get me wrong, I know the benefits have been immense, I have gotten to know some great people who have truly enriched my world, but the downside is that it seems to be resulting in an awful lot of goodbyes also, and right now I am just not handling them well.

I am sure many of you reading this are thinking, wow she is way over reacting to some sales guy leaving. But this is a part of the realities of my life I think are hard for a lot of people to understand. I am single, I live alone, my interaction with my family is next to nil (I talk to my brother on Facebook but beyond that I have no interaction with my family). My support system is solely made up of my friends and acquaintances. And when it comes to my journey in the last year that has been primarily centered around key people at LTF. This is the second of those key people I am saying goodbye to in a matter of weeks and it does feel like that part of my support system is slipping away from me. I realize nothing is permanent (I can hear Gui's words repeating over and over in my head on that one) but I just feel like I am losing my safety nets before I am ready for them to be gone. Especially after the weight gain of the last month.

I am sure there are also those of you reading who find this post incredibly selfish. And truth, part of me feels that way even admitting my feelings about all this. Please do not mistake me, I am exceedingly happy for Lance (as I was for Gui). I wish them only the best and the greatest success and happiness the world has to offer them. I would never want them to have less than that to make my life better/easier. But despite that, my life will be changed and I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that change saddens me and makes me feel alone in all this.

Now it's time to get ready to head to the club, put on a smiley face and not end up in tears on Nick over this. The chances of that feel fleeting but its the goal!!!!

Good luck Lance, I know you will do a great job in your new position. And know you will never be forgotten for all you have done for me! Always remember sometimes having fun instead of trying to make the sale can be the start of changing someone's life!!! Thanks for doing that for me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A secret club and those who treat you different without the fat........

A dear friend shared an article with me tonight she said made her think of me...

I have to admit reading it brought me to tears because it is so on the money. And if I feel that way only part way to my goal I can't imagine what it is like when you are truly there.

I think the part that hit me most was how different people treat you. I have really struggled with this. Anyone who knows me for any length of time hopefully realizes that honest, straight forwardness and integrity are the three qualities I value most in the people around me (and a lack of them is the quickest way to have issues with me). I have much more respect for someone who tells me to my face they hate me than someone who pretends to my face they like me and then trash me behind my back. I have very little room in my world for game playing and faking things. I'll tell you how it is, you tell me how it is and we will get along great. Some call it a "NY attitude" I just think it is the right way to be.

So it has been a challenge for me over the last year to learn of people in my world who used to pretend they accepted me how I was that I have since learned used to make really nasty comments about my weight behind my back. I just recently learned of a coworker who knowing me merely minutes who made very derogatory comments to another colleague about my weight, but had pretended for over a year to be a good friend.

It has also been a real challenge for me to watch opportunities open up for me (professionally and socially) that I was held back from before because of how I looked. Looks to me are such a fleeting, unimportant thing, and to know that I wasnt considered good enough for these people and opportunties before but I am now, when nothing about who I am has changed, but my outward appearance has has been jarring. To learn of a conversation between coworkers about how I am now "acceptable" to be in front of a group brought me to my knees and left me hurt in a way I am still feeling months later.

As the author of the article stated so well, I also find that since my body has changed I trust new people around me less and question their motives more. That sounds so weird if you haven't been in this position. But when you are over 300 lbs you know that most people in your life for any period of time are there truly because of who you are on the inside. They love you DESPITE what you look like. As the weight melts away you have to wonder more. You no longer have that safety filter that gets rid of the people who are there for shallow reasons.

It is going to sound really bizarre to everyone, except my fat or formerly fat readers, but there is a big part of me that worries about what this will be like if I ever do get my body to my goal weight and become what I would consider attractive. Will I know who is in my life because of me, and my brains and what I have to offer and who will be there because of looks. Obviously this is going to be the hardest issue related to dating and intimate relationships. Again when you are fat you know if they are even willing to date you that isn't why. Having beenf at my whole life I don't feel like I yet know the skills for handling dating and relationships of that nature without that filter, and it is a new direction that I do think about.

Even with less intimate relationships, I have to admit I don't know how to react when someone makes a comment about how I look, be it my hair, my figure, whatever. I have been fat since I was 5. These are not comments I am used to hearing or more importantly trusting. The only time I heard I was pretty growing up was quite frankly when I was being abused by my father and he was trying to manipulate me. I have never had anyone I dated or around me tell me until the last few months that I was pretty, or looked good or they liked my clothes or any of this new, and I still don't know what to do with it.

At first I thought it was an issue of not being able to take compliments, a topic I discuss with a friend quite often, but the reality is that isnt the case. When the compliments are about my work or things related to my brains, I have no problem taking them. This is different. This comes from that "brain fat" I have blogged about before. When someone tells me I look good or how great I look now I truly don't know how to believe it. I still figure I am being lied to, or they feel they need to (or are supposed to) say it and I just file it away as BS or they want something. I know I need to get past all this, but if you have never dealt with it before how do you get used to it.

There really needs to be a school for joining the world of the "beautiful people" because it is not intuitive!

I will say as much as changing has lead me to question those new to my life. It has also made me truly value those people who genuinely loved me fat and who love me now less fat and who I know will be there if I ever get to skinny. I can count that group probably on two hands, the number isn't large, but the value is. To those of you who have treated me the same no matter the number on the scale...THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!