I haven’t blogged since May, which is when I went to Melbourne for my 29th birthday. It has been a bit of a slog since then through a frosty winter and more, and I am shocked now (and somewhat relieved) to find myself in September with wattle and blossoms starting to spring up all around. Thank god.
So what was the slog?
I have been exhausted. For months and months. But finally, after years of frustration about not being able to shift weight despite furious efforts, after the exhaustion, after great pain and great inconveniences, after some of my hair even started to fall out, I recently got diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Which explains so, so much.
I ummed and ahhed about whether to write about this all on my blog, since I don’t make a habit of talking about my reproductive system in mixed company, but since it has already tumbled out in conversations and was skillfully drawn out by friends from what I thought were rather benign Facebook posts and so on, why not.
Anyway, even though I was relatively unsurprised about the diagnosis as I’ve always felt something was amiss, it’s always upsetting to find out your own body is working against you. To hear you might have trouble conceiving down the track too is a worry (though number one barrier to that at the moment is Canberra dating ). But I was especially upset to find out that the associated insulin resistance had already messed with my blood sugar.
The only solution I have been offered is ‘lifestyle’ and weight-loss-even-though-it-will-be-really-really-hard-for-you (and certain varieties of The Pill allegedly help too).
So of course, my immediate reaction was to throw myself fully into some sort of huge sweeping lifestyle change to try to correct the whole blood sugar catastrophe. Because frankly, it is terrifying to be told at 29 that your blood sugar is somewhat rooted already and you are at a very high risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
So I have now cut out all refined carbohydrate and sugar from my diet. No breads, pasta, rice, flour or grains. No sugar and nothing sweetened at all. No potatoes. Limited dairy. And trying to count calories too (1200-1500 per day). I guess I’m basically paleo (except for that I eat some dairy and my portion sizes aren’t half a boar, five sweet potatoes and six eggs for dinner like some of the Crossfit types).
Of course, being me, a no-nonsense type who likes to get things done (willpower has never been my problem, patience yes…), I went cold turkey on all of this. MY GOD. Nearly two months of misery before my body got used to it. And it’s still not all the way there (as I type I have some nice stomach cramps). The first month of the new regime led to splitting headaches and exhaustion on top of exhaustion, to the point where I was in bed by 8pm many nights. I endured a month where I felt like I was starving 24/7.
Anyway, this new, hectic and food restricted schedule led to further exhaustion. Add on top of this that I was getting used to a new pill that temporarily sparked hand-trembling levels of anxiety and epic mood swings (thankfully this seems to have settled now).
And since exercising three times a week wasn’t cutting it, I now walk 3.5km every single morning, then after work do Body Pump twice a week, run on the elliptical for an hour twice a week, swim once a week, and then either go on a long walk or a long gym sesh on each of the weekend days. I also wanted to do Couch to 5k but my own stupid ankles are knees are conspiring against me on that one so far, and my shoulder injury from last year is working against me on the Yoga/Body Balance front. Maybe in a couple more months.
I also started all of this in the depths of the Canberra winter, which meant morning walks in -6 degree temps. Fun. So I am particularly happy spring is arriving when I crawl out of bed at 6.30am each morning now.
So that’s been the last few months. Everything is levelling out now, but I still feel some days that I’m running myself into the ground. I also feel like I’ve just been lacklustre this year. My writing hasn’t sparkled and I haven’t got the things I wanted to do done. It’s harder for me to concentrate sometimes on this very very low carb diet. And now that all of this is my major preoccupation, it’s a major eater-up of my time. I hope I can handle all of this and be successful at losing some weight while still doing well at the other things I want to do well on.
I guess you might be wondering if I have seen any results (the new lifestyle changes have been implemented since the beginning of July, like a new fiscal year but where the accountant is auditing carbs)… only a tiny bit. But I guess that’s better than nothing. I’ve lost perhaps half a clothes size or thereabouts… enough to make me concerned some pants might fall down, but not enough to invest in new ones yet. And my boobs have shrunk, because they always go first (Mother Nature is cruel). So I’ll just have to keep chipping away at it.
The most frustrating thing about all this is that I know what I have been putting in my mouth all these years, and I know the amount of exercise I do/have done. Yes, I wasn’t an angel, but I wasn’t guzzling soda, eating cake all the time, serving up huge plates of pasta or gorging on bread. I wasn’t sitting on my arse in front of a TV every evening. I walked 50km in a week pretty easily just in March. Yet the only thing that seems to make even a dent in the weight loss battle are full-on measures.
It’s hard to not feel frustrated and upset by it all, especially when I think about how much I love trying new and weird foods when travelling (hopefully if I can make some more progress then I can take a break from the regime if I travel, but my trip to Jakarta in a fortnight will need to be rice and noodle free… a real challenge). But there have been blessings too. First of all, it’s better to know. Knowledge is power, yadda yadda. Wish I had known 10 years ago and maybe saved some anguish. Second of all, my friends and colleagues and family have all been incredibly supportive and good (even if I haven’t revealed the full details of the issue to them and they’ve just known I’m run down, or that I’m trying a new diet, and so on). I’m not the sort of person that asks directly for help, I tend to put my head down and soldier on, but I feel very lucky to be surrounded by so many good people who have offered up more direct support, or just general niceness in the past few months. So I need to thank all the people who have so kindly put up with exhausted, emotional me lately.
Other than that, expect to see some weird recipes on this blog if I find time to write (or reviews of other people’s weird recipes). Strange alternatives like cauliflower rice and zucchini pasta are now firmly part of my life… I even made my own sugar-free ketchup recently because the store stuff tasted ridiculously sweet.