I Beard Your Pardon?

Well hello friends!

Holy smokes, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve logged in here. I knew I hadn’t updated my weight chart since October, but I didn’t realize I hadn’t actually written a post since September, yikes!

To bring you up to speed… I started a new job in November, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I truly love my new position, however I’m so busy, the days and weeks just fly by. I’m still getting my 10,000 steps a day – the streak is alive and well! I’ve plateaued at 168 lbs which I’m quite alright with. I needed to not be on a diet, logging every meal, and constantly being so critical of my food choices. It’s been a month or so since I stopped using my Up app to track my food, and I’ve maintained my weight – which is reassuring that I’ve learned how to make good decisions.

I hit a few milestones too… my period is back on track! While this isn’t newsworthy for the ordinary woman, coming from someone with PCOS, it’s quite the accomplishment. Mizz Flo has arrived right when my app said it should, either exactly on the day, or a day or two before/after.

And remember the skirt I talked about in this post? I never had the nerve to show the first picture (on left)… but here I am one year later, same shirt, same skirt:

IMG_3511

But one thing that hasn’t changed… my facial hair growth!

FullSizeRender

Usually I don’t let it get this bad, but I had forgotten to shave on my normal days. I happened to look in my visor mirror and was just so embarrassed.

And the hair isn’t just on my chin. Or upper lip. I get hairs along my jawline, too! Sometimes I don’t notice them for awhile, then I’ll find a crazy long one like this… you can’t see the hair, but you can see where it’s pulling from my cheek. (Rough pic, but I was on my way back from the gym). 

IMG_3584

I mean, what the heck?? How long had that been there? Have people noticed it and silently judged me? Thought weird comments?

Incidentally, the above picture is a different day than the first (you can tell by my t-shirt color), but you can’t miss the facial hair growth below my chin… see? It’s a never-ending problem!

But recently, I hit a new all-time feeling of “low”, when I cut myself shaving. See that red square mark? Yep, four little razor cuts b/c my hand slipped while holding the shaver.

IMG_3750

Could you imagine the conversation with a stranger? Excuse me ma’am, what happened to your neck? Oh that? I cut myself shaving my face.

meme-angry_00283374

So frustrating. I really need to save up some money and get laser hair removal. I’ve really had it.

But lets’s end on a positive note, shall we? On the left is the pic that inspired this whole journey (which still makes me cringe to this day). That was me at my conference in 2014. The pic on the right is one year later, at my conference in 2015, 11 months into my weight loss journey. I had people not say hi to me, because they didn’t realize who I was. That really put things in perspective as to how much I’ve been changing.

1

Are You Done Yet?

Working in a large corporate building for six years, I’ve gotten to know a fair amount of the other employees. Some are just a casual hello in the hall, and there are some that I’ve gotten to know pretty well.

As I’ve lost weight over the last several months, I’ve received various reactions. “Wow, you’ve shrunk!,” from some people who don’t see me regularly. “You’re doing great, keep going!,” from some I interact with daily. A few have even told me that my progress has inspired them to begin journeys of their own. That’s pretty humbling.

But recently, I’ve gotten a response that I didn’t expect… and I’ve heard it from more than one person.

Last week, one of my gym patrons said, “How much more do you think you want to lose?” I answered, oh, maybe ten more pounds or so. To which he replied, “See, you’re getting obsessed. You look good how you are now, don’t get too skinny.”

I chuckled and brushed it off, but in my mind, I was stunned – like I got slapped or something. What did he just say?

A few weeks ago, a coworker asked me how much I had lost, so I shared, with pride. Her response, “That’s awesome. Are you done yet, though? Just don’t lose too much more, or you’ll look like a crackhead.” Pardon me?

I was, and am still, completely taken aback. Normally I’m pretty quick-witted, but what do you say to that kind of comment?

I feel like any response will sound like I’m being defensive. And when you’re defensive, it looks like you have a problem. But I don’t have a problem, I’m just trying to lead a healthy life. And now it looks like I’m in denial.

giphy-18

What business it of anyone’s, but my own? If I want to maintain where I’m at, or lose more, its my prerogative.

Even sitting here, writing this post, I’m struggling to articulate the emotion those comments made me feel… it’s a mix of frustration, shock, feeling belittled and self-conscious. After staring at the screen for a few minutes now, I’m still not sure how to describe it, but of all the words that come to mind, none are positive. They didn’t give me the warm fuzzies, they made me feel like crap.

Unsolicited commentary is the worst. Society in general just seems to get more and more forward, saying what comes to mind, without thinking of how it will make the other person feel. I deal with it with infertility (“it’ll happen when you least expect it”), and now with my weight loss.

We learned it when we were kids, folks… mind your own beeswax!

Woops, that’s not it. I meant…  If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

And that includes back-handed compliments laced with judgement.

 

So Much for That Theory

After this post last month, I was very proactive about addressing my hair thinning.

Step 1: haircut. I was embarrassed to be so honest with my hair stylist about my concerns, but she was so sweet and understanding. I even overheard her tell the hair washer, “Be gentle with the shampoo, she has a sensitive scalp.”

She said that throughout the styling, she didn’t have a lot of hair coming out in the brush (no more than she normally sees), and she felt that was encouraging. She was glad to hear I had made an appointment with a doctor, and said that if they don’t reveal anything, she’s had personal success with Biotin.

Just below the shoulders is a new length for me… I’m so used to it being far down my back! I must admit, it’s so much easier to manage, and I’m saving a fair amount of money on shampoo & conditioner.

pic

Step 2: consult my physician. I got a physical a few weeks ago, and everything checked out great. Vision was 20/20, hearing was normal, and blood pressure was on par. Then I got out my list of concerns, & started at the top… what’s up with my hair, doc?

She seemed to think that many of the symptoms I was experiencing were thyroid-related, and ordered a blood test. I requested a “full panel”, which checked for other thyroid markers that basic thyroid test doesn’t cover. I also asked for her to test my Vitamin B12 & D levels, because some of my online hunting found that loss in both energy and hair could be related to deficiencies in both of those.

A few days later, a nurse called me with the results… everything* was normal. Thyroid levels were where they should be, and there were no signs of any vitamin deficiency. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.

I found myself getting upset, frustrated even. Under most circumstances, that’s a great call to receive… I didn’t want anything to be wrong, but I was hoping to find a cause to my problems, so that we could then work on a solution.

*So everything I asked to be tested was normal, but the doc’ also had run some other routine tests, and found that I had very high LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad” kind. The nurse went on to tell me, “The doctor recommends that you get 30 minutes of physical activity, at least 5 times a day, and to follow a low-fat diet.”

3q3iv7

 

It took everything in my being not to snap back with a rude comment. Woosah, woooooosah. 

ME: “Um, ma’am, I told the doctor that I exercise 80 minutes every day, without fail, and eat a very healthy diet. There’s not a lot that I could eliminate to make it healthier.”

HER: *chuckle* “Oh maybe it’s hereditary then. I take medicine for that, that’s how I get it.” *chuckle*

And that was the end of the phone call. No protocol, no next instructions, no sage advice from the physician herself. Just some empty, impersonal advice that I could’ve gotten from an ad in a magazine.

So here I sit, back at square one. Hair still thinning, but now I have high cholesterol too.  Sigh.

Dare to (Not) Compare

Unless you’re on a TV show, weight loss should not a competition. It’s about being the best version of yourself, making healthy changes to lead a longer, healthier life.

But when you’re struggling, and seeing others succeed, it’s hard to avoid the trap of comparison.

Scrolling through Facebook this morning, a friend’s post caught my eye. It was a picture of her feet, standing on the scale, weighing just about 1 pound heavier than my current weight. The caption reads, “When I started this weight loss journey about 3 months ago, I was 200+ pounds, wearing a snug Size 14/16. I saw this on the scale today, and I’m now in a Size 10 feeling so much better!”

I feel like a bit of a jerk for thinking this, but my first, visceral reaction was…

arial

THREE MONTHS? To get almost the same results that has taken me NINE MONTHS!?

I’m happy for her, don’t get me wrong. My reaction wasn’t even about her, really. It’s purely out of frustration of my recent plateaus. From afar, it’s so easy to judge & get snarky… Geez, I wish I had it that easy. Why do I even bother? I haven’t been making progress, why don’t I just have that cookie, or skip that workout, the scale isn’t moving anyways. 

Social media makes comparison almost unavoidable, but in my case, it’s not just online. Back in May, hubby got a Jawbone bracelet and started walking every day, as well as making better eating decisions. And already he’s down 31.5 pounds! It took me seven months to hit the 30-lb mark, and he gets there in three and a half months, exactly half the time. Men!

Sometimes it can be so defeating. Why does it seem, and I emphasize the word “seem” here – why does it seem so much easier for everyone else?

The hard, but necessary thing to remember is that everyone’s journey is different. We all have different circumstances that lead to our weight gain, and we all have different circumstances and hurdles that stand in our way of losing those pounds. Unfortunately for me, it’s four little bastard letters… P.C.O.S.

joy

For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m making an honest lifestyle change. Sure, there are days when my eating isn’t perfect, but being active is something I’m really enjoying. I was in Florida this past week visiting friends, and no matter what was in the plans (or how little sleep I got the night before), I got up every morning, and went for a walk or run to get my steps in. In fact, I haven’t broken my “10,000 steps a day” streak since April 13th! 🙂

Throughout this journey, I’ve found that reflection is just as important as saying no to french fries. It’s easy to get distracted by what others are doing. But when I take a moment to look in the mirror, and focus on myself, I am proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. I remember why I started, how far I’ve come, and why it all matters. I’m doing this for ME.

IMG_8930

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

PCOS is the gift that keeps on giving. But these are gifts that no one wants to receive.

There’s infertility. And depression. Facial hair growth. And weight gain. Now, hair loss? Just toss another shrimp on the barbie.

Hair thinning and hair loss is a classic symptom of PCOS, that until recently, I had managed to avoid. But over the last few months, I’ve been noticing more hair in my brush when I comb it out before a shower. And it’s really starting to freak me out.

I have long, curly hair, so “shedding” is something I’ve always experienced. Lately, though, it just seems to be a bit much. I’m noticing “thin” spots on my head. If I put my hair up in a pony tail, sometimes there are gaping “parts”, where my hair separates in a certain direction, and I have to brush it in a different way so they aren’t as noticeable. I’ve also been scrutinizing my hairline, and I am almost certain that it’s receding in the top corners of my forehead.

Whenever I think about it, it puts me in such a funk. Even sitting here writing about it, I have a pit in my stomach and I feel really gloomy. Facial hair can be shaved. Weight can be lost. And it doesn’t get much more invisible than infertility… a passerby would have no clue about the struggles I’ve endured. But hair loss? There’s no hiding that!

I’ve shared my concerns with a few friends, who all say they don’t notice any difference, even with me pointing it out. Part of me feels like now that it’s on my radar of concerns, maybe I’m being a little hypersensitive. But part of me knows that something is definitely different.

I started doing some web research, and came across this discussion thread on a PCOS support website, Soul Cysters (gotta love the name). The girl who posted it said:

When you are extremely deficient in Vitamin D (like I was), it will worsen your insulin resistance which will make all of our PCOS symptoms worse! Some articles I’ve read state that Vitamin D deficiency can cause PCOS in the first place. According to a study, 72% of women with PCOS have a Vitamin D deficiency.

*perk* Say wha?

Usually, I don’t read through long discussion threads, but I read every single comment in this 7-page chat. I could relate so closely to what these women were reporting, and consequently I’ve never made a doctor appointment so quick in my life. I want every possible test they can do… vitamin levels, hormones, thyroid, the works! This is all long overdue anyway, but now is no time for “I told you so”, lol.

In the meantime, I’ve stopped putting my hair up in a “foofie” (messy bun); one girl mentioned how that puts a lot of tension on hair follicles. I also need to get a haircut ASAP. The last time I got one was nine months ago, and someone in the discussion thread mentioned that shortening her hair seemed to have helped a little with her hair falling out – because it doesn’t tangle as easily, which can pull hair out.

In a panic, I bought a bottle of Biotin, which so many people have told me helps them with hair growth. But my friend S suggested that I hold off on starting any supplements, so that way the doctor gets a true reading on my levels. OK, that makes sense.

One thing I’m slightly concerned about is that maybe my diet caused this change. I’m a creature of habit, and I basically eat the same breakfast, lunch & dinner, Monday through Friday. I’m eating healthy, but is there something that I’m not eating, that may be effecting me negatively?  I did start taking a One A Day Women’s Formula multivitamin.

… OK… just scheduled a hair appointment for Friday. I’m a little embarrassed, but I feel like I need to voice my concerns to the stylist so she doesn’t go too rough on my precious follicles. I’m so paranoid of this getting worse!

Here’s to fuller manes!

Lion roar

 

The Allure of Cheat Day

There are a lot of diets out there whose trick to weight loss ultimately boils down to limiting your intake of certain foods… Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, etc. Unless you have the discipline of a Tibetan monk, the main reason most of these diets fail is because it’s just too hard to live with such restrictions on a long term basis.

Most health experts will encourage you to eat a balanced diet, and to have a cheat meal, usually one time a week. Registered dietitian Jim White explains, “After several days of consuming fewer calories than you burn, splurging can rev up your metabolism while stocking up glycogen for tomorrow’s workout. It should also satisfy cravings that may nag at your daily diet.”

Since I started this weight loss journey, I weigh in on Saturday mornings, so Saturday evening is my cheat meal – a fun dinner and some kind of dessert. Most times they are really enjoyable, but for the last three weeks in a row, there’s been a bit of a disconnect between my brain and my belly.

Over these last several months, one of my biggest cravings has been a chocolate chip cookie with frosting. Back in my unhealthy days, one of my favorite treats were what I called “devil cookies”; a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with sugary frosting in the middle, from Nestle Toll House or Mrs. Fields.

July 4th weekend, my parents, hubby, and I went to Atlantic City. We went to dinner at Broadway Burger in the Tropicana Casino; just down the hall, there’s a Mrs. Fields. Stepping over the threshold of the store, my nostrils were flooded with the intoxicating scent of freshly baked cookies. Shelves and shelves of so many delicious options. I was cookie drunk.

I selected this mamma-jamma, which was slightly larger than the palm of my hand. My “fat habits” were back, and I intentionally picked out the one with the most frosting on it.

IMG_7204

Hubby warned me, “Careful babe, that’s not going to agree with you.” Pfft! What does he know…

I could feel the buzz of the sugar rushing through my veins. IT. WAS. SO. GOOD. About halfway though, it was hard to stop eating, but I was feeling full and decided not to push it – so I packed away the rest of the cookie and decided to save it for when we were watching fireworks.

A few hours later, I couldn’t wait to finish off my treat. After the first bite or so, I still felt full. But this was cheat day! Time to indulge, right? Despite by better judgement, I finished the cookie. Ughhhhh… I felt disgusting. Sugar headache, bloat, nausea. Whyyyy did I do it? Hubby’s “I told you so” face was no comfort. I should’ve known better. Mental note: not worth it. Tsk tsk, fat brain. 

The following week’s cheat night found us at Grand Lux Cafe. I am obsessed with their Sonoma Salad, which has two of my favorite things: walnuts & goat cheese. For dessert, I got their rustic apple pie. Holy mother…

Grand Lux Rustic Apple Pie

The sugary crunch of the flaky crust was heaven; nice & light, not too heavy. The apples were delicious, as was the ice cream. I got halfway through, and that yucky, full feeling was back. I had to stop.

But other people at our table weren’t done eating their desserts, and we had an utterly dreadful server who wasn’t coming around to clear the table. So I started picking… another bite of crust… an apple with some caramel. Ughhhh. I was feeling gross. C’mon fat brain, knock it off! My stomach couldn’t handle any more, but I still felt the urge to keep eating. I literally had to cover my plate with my napkin.

This past Saturday, I met up with some friends in New York City. I had gone for an 80 min walk that morning, and did an intense 55-minute Jillian Michaels workout video. I missed breakfast, and short on time, had to quickly devour my fav’ Saladworks lunch to get on the road.

We went to Momofuku for dinner, where I had two pretty good steamed buns (filled with pork belly & hoisin sauce) & a pretty disappointing scallop dish (of which I only was able to eat 4 scallops). We went across the street to Momofuku’s famed sister location, Milk Bar. After that dinner, I was still hungry and excited to try out their famous desserts.

Tortured by so many amazing options, I narrowed it down to three selections:

  • a Compost Cookie (packed with pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch and chocolate chips, this cookie strikes the perfect balance between salty & sweet)
  • a small “cereal milk” milkshake (made with milk, cornflakes, brown sugar and a pinch of salt. it’s like the milk at the bottom of a bowl of cornflakes)
  • a slice of “crack pie” (toasted oat crust, gooey butter cake meets chess pie)

IMG_7884

The milkshake was surprising – it really did taste like cornflakes! Halfway through it though, I was kind’ve over the novelty. The crack pie was thick and dense, almost like a brownie. It was really good, especially the oat crust. I was content, so I saved the cookie for later. See… I’m learning. Sorta. 

As I waited for the train that night, I ate the cookie. Meh. It didn’t taste like anything special. I wasn’t even really hungry, I only ate it because I had it with me. Those are the worst kinds of cheats… just a pure waste of calories, nothing satisfying about it.

I read another article about cheat meals recently, which talked about knowing your “cheat meal tolerance”. Obviously, I’m still struggling with this. My brain wants all kinds of decadent foods, but my body just isn’t having it any more. While I know I shouldn’t eat these foods, and my body is having adverse physical reactions to them, I still feel like I’m missing out somehow by not indulging in these cheats.

Do you struggle with “cheat food”? Do you have any strategies that help you avoid temptation?

Three Saws, Pancakes and a Car Jack

If you follow me on Twitter, you know there’s a trail I like to walk/run on the weekends. It’s just over a mile loop, and it’s conveniently located just five minutes from my house.

A few weeks ago, we had a scary storm system move through our area. I’ve never experienced a tornado first-hand, but it sure felt like I was living in the movie Twister. Later confirmed as “straight line winds”,  the storm blew out fences, brought down hundreds of trees, and knocked out the power. We were without electricity for about 14 hours, but my friend C (from last week’s post) didn’t get it back for four days… and she only lives a few blocks from us!

This was the sky after the storm cleared out. The picture doesn’t even do it justice… it was the most vibrant gold glow! I’ve never seen anything like it.

0

Some of the trees that the storm brought down fell all over my beloved trail. The Saturday after the storm, I jogged around them. The second week, I jogged around them. Going on three weeks, it was getting old, so I texted my dad… “Do you have a chainsaw?”

Dad didn’t have a chainsaw, but he did have a sawzall. So when he and Mom came to visit us for July 4th weekend, he brought his tools. We also weren’t sure how legal this was, since it’s township property, but I figured that (a) it wasn’t high on their priority list, and (b) a lot of people use this trail, and there were some really steep areas that walkers had to traverse to get around the limbs… I chalked it up to community service.

There were for main areas where trees were down. They ranged from just needing a few branches trimmed to really requiring some Paul Bunyan effort.

1

After getting through a few branches with the sawzall, the battery pack died. Not to fear – we had a back-up pack. But then that one died too.

2

Not to be defeated, hubby & Dad decided one of the smaller limbs could be snapped by hand.

3

One path area cleared… only a few more to go. That was progress, right?

4

We drove over to Lowe’s and bought a bow saw. Clearly we were on crazy pills – why did we think a manual saw in that day’s humidity was a good idea? Dad and I are cut from the same frugal cloth, so the $10 price tag must’ve dulled our instincts.

After we all depleted our biceps, it was time for a break. We all piled in the car and headed to IHOP. Dad dropped Mom & I off to get in line for a table, while he and hubby headed to Home Depot for a chain saw.

Our conviction renewed, and bellies full of pancakes, we headed back to the trail. We packed power, and were on a mission.

Dad buzzed through branch one like a knife through butter… we’d be done in no time!

On branch two, the chainsaw got stuck. The weight of the branch somehow pinched the saw in between the cut area. Sparing you the physics lesson that we learned the hard way, we needed to push up on the branch from underneath to free Dad’s new saw.

Mom, ever the wise one, suggested, “What about a car jack?” G.E.N.I.U.S.

Hubby and I headed down to our Nissan Rogue to retrieve the jack. We assumed it’d be with the spare tire, so we unloaded everything in the trunk – no jack. I crawled under the car, maybe it was under the spare – nope. Under the hood? Nope. I got out the owners manual – the word “jack” was nowhere to be found. Hubby scoured Google, nothing. Seriously universe?

Dad came down to see what was taking so long, and in 5 seconds, he showed us there was this little hidden compartment inside the trunk by the left tail light. Ohhhh, why didn’t we check there? Grrr. Apparently, his is located in the same place in his car.

5

After several turns of the not-so-intelligently-designed car jack, the saw was free, hooray!

I asked Dad if I could have a try, after all, it was my idea that got us all in this unforseen, ill-fated mess. How hard could it be? Press lever, buzz through branches, easy peezy. Yea, after a few passes, somehow I popped the chain off the tracks.

6

While not taking pictures of our hijinks, Mom shaded us with my golf umbrella, which provided surprising relief from the sun’s intense rays.

I was quickly relieved of my sawing duties and assigned to branch removal. Rightly so, lol.

7

After Dad got the chain back on track, we only had a few branches to go, and the path was clear.

Look, our first “customer”! Mr. Runner was ever so greatful, shouting “Thanks guys!”, as he jogged through the newly cleared path.

8

Throughout this ordeal, I felt really guilty. What I thought would be a fun, quick little community service project turned into a long, hot, physically & mentally draining several hours. After we got home, and showered, I surprised Dad with his favorite ice cream, Moose Tracks, and we all laughed about what a day it was.

Hubby walks in the park every morning, and he’s seen several runners and walkers make comments about how nice it is to have the trail finally be cleared. And he’s yet to take credit. I have such a new respect for the demands of the township workers, we don’t mind letting others think they did it.

Ahhhh… the family that illegally landscapes together… Love them to pieces.

9