Two days ago, I woke up with a feeling of such deflation and sadness.
There were two parts to it, the realisation that I had been trying to get back to the weight I was in my early 20’s, and the wondering if I was ever going to get slim again.
23 years of my life I have been unhappy with my body and how it looks – that is a very long time to not be happy with yourself.
Emotional or Physical
There is so much in my history that has created this situation – a combination of my thoughts and beliefs (both my own and those I got from my parents) and health issues that have contributed to the weight gain.
I feel like it’s been a long, slow pendulum swinging between the mental and physical basis contributing to how I am today.
And as I’m sitting here writing this, I first think, well, it started with an emotional trigger in my early twenties – because it was after this event that my weight actually started increasing. But then I think, no it was earlier than that. I noticed physical issues (health not weight) in my early days at uni when I was in my late teens and then glandular fever in my early twenties (and I’ve also read that glandular fever is correlated with thyroid issues).
Side note: There were so many signs during my four years at uni, that I wish I’d paid more attention and taken them as shoves to get me to leave something I wasn’t happy doing.
But there is more further back, lactose intolerance around the time I started my period in my early teens.
Or earlier still, the emotional trigger of my grandmother dying when I was 10 (she had breast cancer but I don’t think that was what she eventually succumbed to).
Or perhaps moving interstate, leaving my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on my Mum’s side, leaving my school and my friends and attending 4 different schools in four years. Technically skipping a year because of they difference in the Victorian and South Australia school systems and so being a year younger than everyone else in my year level for the last two years of primary school, all of high school and entering uni.
There is still so much more – my whole time line is punctuated by emotional and physical triggers – my own and my Mum’s (while she was pregnant with me – e.g oestrogenic drugs she was given to help stop miscarrying – but she was young so why hormone imbalances and did they impact me in utero?).
I’ve looked at all of my historical events over and over, hoping to find the one clue, the one loose thread that I could pull on and unravel the entire story so I could find the root cause, dig it out and be done with it forever.
I perhaps think that at each point in time, the trigger at the time just got piled on top of the others and now, I don’t know how to unravel it.
A clue to progressing forward
I’m really impatient. I want everything to happen straight away and of course it doesn’t.
Yesterday my husband and son and I spent the afternoon at my Mum’s place helping her with some garden maintenance.
I didn’t want to go because thinking about where to start was overwhelming. I went anyway.
I picked a contained area of garden near the letterbox – bordered by the driveway, front lawn and footpath. It wasn’t just weeds but runners from the lawn that had infiltrated the garden bed, so there were effectively weeds and grass growing in amongst the plants. It was a mess.
I started pulling weeds, and then ranted about how ridiculous this was, a useless waste of time, I could be doing something else.
I went back to weeding.
Then I ranted some more, my mind desperately trying to find a solution to make the whole situation more logical and to find an easier path forward.
I was coaching myself while I was weeding – what else would I have been doing? Sitting on a computer inside, either trawling Facebook or if I was feeling motivated, working on my Everyday Homeopathy welcome email sequence?
Instead I was out in the daylight and fresh air, sporadically chatting with my Mum – she was staking her climbing roses while I was weeding.
I realised there was no easy out. I eventually quieted down and settled on to the plastic bag covered cushion on the driveway and pulled out weeds.
It took four “go overs” to get a patch of earth visible and looking tidy – the actual plants free of weeds and the earth ready for mulching.
The first go over was pulling and ripping at the long weeds and grass.
Then I was able to get into the earth with a tool and loosen roots and pull out the loose stuff.
There were still individual green shoots sticking up (the tops had been ripped off) so I had to go through methodically and grab each individual shoot and wiggle it to get as much root out as I could.
Finally I was able to comb through the dirt and pull out (hopefully) the remnants of roots in the soil.
Then move on to the next patch for weeding and repeat the process.
This weeding was such a great parallel to how I’ve been approaching my weight loss both in the past and more recently.
I really have spent years trying something then ranting or rebelling (i.e. self sabotage) because it was difficult, or not working. I’d give up until the next time my weight was really in my face and I felt pushed into doing something about it again. The cycle just kept repeating.
The last couple of years though, I’ve been reading intensively about the thyroid gland and how it’s related to liver health and oestrogen, progesterone levels and how all of this impacts the entire body.
And this is where the layers come in, like the weeding.
I knew at uni that I had blood sugar issues – I started making sure I always had something with me to eat, usually a piece of cheese.
In my mid twenties I started reading about oestrogen dominance and insufficient progesterone – I went looking for bio-identical progesterone cream to try and counteract the oestrogen dominance.
Before I left Adelaide to move back to Melbourne, my doctor gave me thyroid medication because she said I had an under-active thyroid. When I arrived in Melbourne I visited one of the referrals she gave me to a Naturopath/GP.
And so it went on through the years to follow.
Through intense periods of low carb (which I’ve now found out works for a bit, but then wrecks your metabolism and thyroid even more).
I stumbled across Dr Ray Peat’s work in 2002 when I was looking for answers to my daughters seizures. We stopped using vegetable oils and switched to coconut oil and switched from regular to organic butter and milk. Unfortunately I still kept using fish oil and flaxseed oil – the mainstream alternative information was still so compelling.
But after many years of trying what I thought were “serious” eating plans for weight loss (no crazy fad diets for me) – Donna Aston’s eating plan, ketosis while I was training with a particularly hard core PT, paleo (with it’s excessive meat, nuts and no fruit) with another PT, to finally ditching all of that when I started reading Ray Peat’s work again in late 2015.
This happened only after tests done at the doctors showed I had high thyroid antibodies, high TSH, normal T4, low T3, slightly higher than normal cholesterol, higher than normal liver enzymes (and I’m not an alcoholic), low vitamin D =====>>>>> All of this points to thyroid issues and liver issues (the inactive thyroid hormone T4 is converted to active thyroid hormone T3 in the liver – if the liver is overloaded trying to deal with high oestrogen in the body, then it can’t do it’s job converting T4 to T3).
It’s all so complex and intertwined – like all of those weeds in the garden.
So while earlier years were like the rough, surface weeding, the last two years or so have been part of the deeper and more effective weeding, but still not the embedded stuff yet.
I’ve been eliminating things like nuts and seeds (the polyunsaturated oils are anti metabolic) but I’m still not super diligent about this when I eat out and things have been cooked in vegetable oil.
I only use coconut oil, organic butter or ghee for cooking and olive oil for the carrot salad.
I’ve introduced milk back in (after so many paleo years of not drinking it and only having a small amount in tea) and still eat cheese.
I eat fruit again (& not just the low sugar berries as advised by Charles Poliquin (another weight lifting “guru” I was introduced to by a previous trainer). And shock horror, I also drink plenty of orange juice now.
There are plenty of foods and drinks I’ve added back in after years of demonising them. And funnily, while they were taboo and while I wasn’t consuming them because they were “fattening”, my weight just kept going up despite me doing all the things I was told I “should” do.
It’s now been about 2 years of walking my own path (while binge reading Ray Peat’s articles and feeling improvements in some areas but not everywhere I want (excess fat – I’m looking at you).
Logically I know that health comes first, then weight loss. But I really, really need to lose weight.
There’s the surface level stuff: I hate shopping for clothes & I’ve avoided bra shopping for 5 years because who wants to buy another H cup bra.
There the slightly more serious stuff: I want to have one more baby.
I lost my first child when she was only a year old. (That in itself has been stressful enough for me to point the finger at as a major factor in my weight gain.) But thankfully I have an amazing son and I so want him to have a sibling and as I’m already in my mid forties, I can’t really “wing it” from a health perspective, I really do need a healthier body so I can grow a healthy child.
On the serious side though, I have breast soreness every cycle, especially my left breast. And considering my maternal grandmother had breast cancer, and with all the reading I’ve done, I know this is oestrogen related, so I don’t need to be scared by it, I just really need to get my hormones doing what they should be doing in the right quantities in my body ASAP.
In my head, this is all a battle between being accepting of where I am (because 23 years of not accepting has given me the opposite results to what I want), but also feeling that being overweight is a direct indicator that your body isn’t healthy.
So I need a more structured approach to my health and I need help (because if I knew how to do it on my own, I would have succeeded by now).
For so many years I’ve craved freedom and consequently have rebelled against any type of structure.
But recently I’ve started implementing a small amount of structure in my morning routine (& it’s still flexible), so now I am ready to implement some structure in my “regaining health” journey (because my haphazard, go with the flow style hasn’t gotten me the results I want).
A new program
I have days where I feel totally disillusioned.
But, there are other days where I still have faith that I will find the help I need.
Last year I signed up for a program that included coaching and loads of information.
The info was stuff I’d already been reading on the Ray Peat website with a few snippets that provided some extra clarification.
The main thing to be implemented was an eating plan with tailored macro nutrients and calories based on my current weight and activity levels.
Looking back now, I can see that it’s a little funny to think that someone with deep thyroid issues (that include brain fog) will be able to implement all that I needed to. I felt overwhelmed every time I thought about trying to create my eating plan and track calories and macros every day. I felt like I was thrown in the deep end of a pool with a big instruction manual – kind of useless.
I had to look at this as another thing to add to my knowledge of what to do and what doesn’t work for me.
Can another program work for me (can I work it?)
This week I’ve signed up for a different program (there is still belief inside of me that I can succeed). There are multiple components to it and as I was reading the sales page I was feeling apprehensive. I’d looked at this program before and decided against it, but now it was my next step.
I was so relieved once I opened it up. It has a 60 day, step by step, daily guide to get you started along with all the other resources.
I’ve peeked ahead a few days and it gives you an action item (that I already know how to do) and some chapters from the accompanying book to read – super easy. I can do this! It looks methodical and orderly (which I really like).
This journal entry was supposed to be the exercise for the first day – to write out my goals and purpose for life, but it’s turned out different to what I expected but a step forward in my healing nonetheless.
So for now, I’ll leave this here and go start a new journal entry to write out those goals and purpose to give me a solid reason for embarking on this program and getting the results I want.