Reteaching Wonder

Today’s Happy Note: Spending a wonderful weekend with USB!  He loves to talk/cuddle/eat/have adventures/walk…pretty much all the same things I like to do!  It is nice to have someone who wants to have adventures with me.  We still do lots of things by ourselves though — yesterday I went to a map-making class while he did an introductory yoga workshop!  It’s a wonderful balance.  I have been hesitant to say this, because I am afraid of somehow jinxing it, but I’ll just go ahead and say it anyways, because it’s true: USB is, plain and simple, the most wonderful thing that has happened to me in years. I even have a picture today.  Look!

Okay, so referring to that as a picture of him might be a bit of a stretch, but take what you can get!  I don’t have a lot of pictures and wouldn’t really feel comfortable having him on the blog, at this point.  But he does have nice hands, right?

Thanks for your sweet comments about it yesterday.  I feel silly talking about him sometimes, but it’s a good silly. I’m completely smitten and it has all happened so suddenly.  Each moment with him is a new lesson in blessings and gratefulness.  He has retaught me how to wonder. I was a hopeless romantic before, and now, well, I’m downright sappy.  So I apologize for my sappiness.  You’re just going to have to deal with it for a while. 😉

In the above picture, we are eating delicious wraps from this Noodle Shop. We got one of the tofu and one of the duck, and each had half of each.  They were really tasty!  They are definitely snack-sized and not meal-sized though.  Or maybe that’s just my marathoner’s perspective.

I squeezed in a long run today, between studying, cleaning, and cuddling.  I did about 12.4 miles in 2:10-ish. Somewhere thereabouts.  I think I was probably around a 10:30/mile pace overall.  Didn’t feel great, didn’t feel terrible.  For parts of it, my legs felt powerful and strong; at other times, they felt sluggish and sloooow as molasses. Sometimes within minutes of each other.  Weird, no?

It was my last long run before the marathon, so I’ll take it.  My body was happy for the shorter run, and is happy about the lower mileage in the next two weeks.  Less than two weeks from today I will be an official marathoner!  I even got my number in the registration pdf today!  I am number 40920.  Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

Other eats today weren’t too exciting, but did include this very necessary froyo monstrosity:

It’s a mixture of pinkberry original and pumpkin flavors, with my own toppings (seriously, always bring your froyo home and do your own toppings — so much cheaper!).  And yes, pinkberry now has pumpkin flavor.  It isn’t very strong at all and I kind of like it!  I added chunky pb, a part of a crumbled chocolate chip pumpkin cookie, and more chocolate chips.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but I have been *sort of* making an effort to eat less carbs.  The key words here are *sort of*.  I  would estimate that I’m eating about 20% less carbs than I was a few weeks ago, in the heart of marathon training.  I have always liked my carbs, but I have never been obsessed with them.  I don’t love bread.  I actively dislike rice.  I like quinoa but am usually too lazy to cook it.  I also like whole wheat pasta but again, it takes a long time to cook, and it is more of a treat for me.  I have been consuming more sweet potatoes and squash (they’re in season, so it’s easy), about the same amounts of veggies, a little less fruit, and less sugary carbs.

I have made the switch to totally plain yogurt.  I have also started actively buying more proteins and fats lately. Here’s whats in my fridge/cupboard at the moment:

Protein — natural honey maple turkey, TJs grilled chicken, Fage 2%  greek yogurt, eggs, Amy’s spicy vegan chilibeans (refried pinto and plain), natural tuna, and half a block of tofu.

Fats — avocados, TJs guacamole hummus (it’s alright — but not better than either hummus or guac on their own), an assortment of nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts), peanut butter, earth balance vegan butter, Fage 2% greek yogurt (does double duty!), TJs goddess salad dressing, olive oil.

I think that variety in protein and fat sources is key.  I make an effort to do different combinations and flavors and textures.

I am not doing this as part of some silly diet or fad weight-loss craze.  You guys know I wouldn’t do that!  Rather, one of the most widely accepted treatments for PCOS is a lower-carb diet.  For many PCOS patients, it is the only way to manage their weight. I don’t event know if I have PCOS or a different disorder, but I have, in the past, experienced success with a lower-carb diet overall (I am using “diet” in the general sense of what I eat here, not to refer to any type of restriction).

So it’s just something I am trying.  It is easier now that I’m running less.  I am seeing an endocrinologist next week, and will start dietary/medication experiments the following week (after the marathon is over).  It is going to be an interesting journey, to say the least.

Favorite protein?  Favorite fat?

Best part of your weekend?

Are you sappy and romantic or serious and collected?

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Something Is Not Right

Today’s Happy Note: Catching up on most of my schoolwork.  Okay, so the actual act of doing the work isn’t “happy”, but having it done makes me happy.  So there.  I deem it worthy of a happy note. 🙂

Sorry to have disappeared on you friends!  I truly wish I could blog every night and it makes me sad that sometimes I have to hit the books instead. I have quite a lot of reading this semester, but not a lot of assignments.  This means that it is quite tempting to put off the reading, but then when the assignments come around, I would be screwed.

I know I have talked about priorities before (blah, can’t find the post), but I have been reorienting myself the past few days.  School already was a priority, but it needs to be even more of one.  I just kind of need to grit my teeth and get it done.  Meh.

Anyone else out there feeling mid-semester blues/overwhelmed?

I saw something fun on Angela’s Blog today!  Apparently, it is National Love Your Body day today.  I’ll get to that in a minute…

First, I have some training notes to catch you all up on!

1. Monday: I did an easy 25 minutes of weight lifting followed by my easy yoga class (it’s for school).  The instructor wears sweatpant booty shorts.  He is a man.  That is all.  My body was grateful for the easy day.

2. Tuesday: Was supposed to be nine miles of speedwork.  I really didn’t want to do it during the day and finally set out around six, planning to stay on the streets.  But it just didn’t feel right.  My body was moving in all the wrong ways — my lower legs seemed to be doing something completely different from my knees, which were doing something completely different from my quads.  You get the picture.  I listened to my body!  This is something that I have really struggled with in terms of exercising, so I was proud of myself.  I cut the run short and did four miles, with 5×100 strides in the last mile.

3. Wednesday: I figured I would just get in my nine miles today.  But.  Again, something wasn’t quite right.  Mostly, I was terribly tired.  I couldn’t seem to get out of bed in the morning or after my afternoon nap.  So I just did my easy yoga class. That was it.  Taking it this easy is hard for me!  I feel a lot of guilt.  But I know that taking the rest is a good idea.

I think there are three reasons why I struggle with guilt when I don’t workout hard everyday:

1. I tend to have an all-or-nothing mindset.  I feel like I’m either completely sedentary all day (in reality, this isn’t true) or insanely active.  I struggle to find an appropriate balance.

2. I overexercised at an unsustainable level for years — I think this is tied to the ways in which I was active as a child and adolescent.  From when I was four until I was fourteen, I was a gymnast.  The last few years of that, I would practice about 20 hours a week.  Then in high school, I did diving, track, and swimming (sometimes at the same time).  I would often be working out for hours a day — senior year, I swam for 3-5 hours a day during the fall season.  Thus, my expectations for physical activity were shaped unrealistically at a formative age, and thus it is truly difficult for me to understand that not working out that much is okay — normal people in the real world do not typically work out for more than two hours a day.  Even an hour is more than enough.  I think that, for me, mentally, moderate exercise is actually best.

3. I still feel the need to “make up for” everything I eat.  I probably eat slightly more than the average 20 year old female college student (although really I have no way of knowing this).  But I really am running a lot, and I also have a significant amount of muscle mass.  Regardless, I feel like if I don’t run 6+ miles a day, I am just another slovenly, greedy American who overeats and doesn’t move.

A few weeks ago, L pointed out to me that I would never say the things I say to myself (in my head) to another person. I would never, ever be that cruel to someone else.  So why do I do it to myself, over and over again? I don’t know.

I think this post is going in a slightly different direction that what I intended.  That’s okay though, since these are the things I need to talk about.  FYI: the rest of this post is about weight and related health concerns/body image issues. Please feel free to skip this part.

I typically weigh myself every 1-2 weeks.  Sometimes I go even longer, maybe every 3-4 weeks.  I am not obsessive about it and don’t record it or anything.

But.

I did weigh myself this Monday and a pattern clearly emerged. Or maybe the pattern has been there for a while but I just noticed it.  Whatever.  Thee point is simple: I have been gaining weight at a rate of almost exactly 1 pound per week since leaving the hospital.  It’s been just over three months, so approximately twelve weeks.  I have gained 12-14 pounds.  I was already a few pounds over my “happy weight”; I would estimate that I have about 17 pounds to lose at the moment.  This is very scary for me.  Very scary for me.

The reason it is so terrifying is that, as far as I can tell, it is something that is either largely or entirely out of my control. Something is wrong in my body.  I know my body and I know when something isn’t right.

Well, something isn’t right.  This weight doesn’t make sense.  I should not have gained 14 pounds since I left the hospital.  Not only have I been training for a marathon, but I have also been fairly careful to keep my eating in check.  I stopped taking birth control as soon as I was diagnosed with my pulmonary emboli. I am not a doctor (in fact, I pretty much suck at science in general), but to me, it seems like the birth control was doing something in my body that was good, and now that it has been taken away, something is going unchecked and rampant in me.

I saw the women’s health Nurse Practitioner at my school a few weeks ago (is it weird that there are a grand total of zero gynecologists for a college student/grad student population of like 30,000 students????).  I basically told her the same things I am telling you guys.  Something doesn’t make sense.  I want to know what is going on.  And, unlike many health conscious young people, I have no aversion whatsoever to medications.  I would happily take several medications, daily, if it would fix this.  I already take about four medications a day — I have several more types too.  I joke to people that I have my own pharmacy.  Taking pills really doesn’t bother me, nor do I feel like I’m somehow polluting my body. They’re pills. Scientists made them to help us, for the most part. It actually kind of bothers me when people get all purist and shit and say “oh, I don’t take pills, I don’t put chemicals in my body, I treat things naturally.”  Great — it’s really nice to know that you have never been burdened with serious medical conditions that require drugs.  I am so happy for you.

Okay, so that was completely tangential.  I’m a writer.  What can I say.  I like talking.

Getting back to the main storyline here.  The NP I saw referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist.  I called her office a week or two ago and she isn’t taking new patients until January.  I am not trying to wait that long, so I got a referral to someone else.  I will schedule the appointment tomorrow.  Hopefully, it will be in the next few weeks.  This is causing me a lot of anxiety, as you can tell.  I want to get to the bottom of it.  Fast.

Unfortunately, medicine doesn’t always work that way.  Our bodies don’t always work that way.  Sometimes they do not want to reveal their secrets, even when their secrets are hurting us.  I hate how medicine is simultaneously so scientific and so unpredictable.  Anyone else find this duality unsettling?

My guess is that, starting after the marathon, we are going to have to do some serious screwing around with my diet and medications.  Probably accompanied by some serious blood tests.  I may have a weird adrenal disorder.  I may have PCOS.  I may not have it.  I may have pre-diabetes.  I may have some bizarre hormonal problem.

So, things are complicated.  I know that’s a really lame conclusion, but it’s all I have for now.  And I need desperately to share my struggles.  Thank you for listening! 🙂

One other note: Any inquiry into/treatment of my hormonal/adrenal/endocrine problems is severely constrained by my history of PE and accompanying clotting disorder.  I cannot take any hormones.  I cannot take anything that might interfere with my Warfarin.  I cannot take anything that  might predispose me to further clotting.

I truly am sorry for unloading all of this on you guys.  But I just need to get it out there.  USB has been amazing about it all — I never would have thought a love interest would be interested in my bizarre medical problems.  Especially not when they make me fat.  But he listens to me and soothes me and tries to help me in whatever way he can.

So.  The Love Your Body post shall be saved for tomorrow, I think.

I’ll leave you with my latest purchase!  I’m going to be wearing these on marathon day!

Katie is giving away a massive amount of Artisana. I want it.  Bad.

Anyone out there, by any chance, happen to have a simultaneous history of PE and PCOS/unidentified endocrine disorder? I know it’s a long shot — I haven’t met anyone else with this combination of problems.  But if you have had similar experiences, I would be thrilled if you would let me know your story!

For everyone else, what is the most frustrating health experience you have had?

What are you grateful for about your health?

I’m grateful for my body’s tremendous ability to untangle its clots.  Seriously.  The clots are long gone by this point.

Medical Stuff, Part I

Today’s Happy Note: My run started out terribly and then miraculously turned wonderful!  Love when that happens.

I had 11 miles of speedwork on the schedule, which I was not looking forward to.  It consisted of:

2 miles warmup @ GP (goal pace=10:00/mile)

3×2 miles @ tempo pace (9:00 miles) with four minute easy jog between each

3 miles cooldown @ GP

My body felt so swollen (more about that later in the post) during the first two miles that I thought I was going to have to call it quits.  I was tight everywhere and could literally feel water weight all over my body.  It’s a strange feeling.  I am not sure if it has to do with my period/hormones, but I think it does.  I haven’t had a period in almost two months and I can tell that my body feels weird not having cleansed itself — something is up.

But the tempo repeats ended up feeling great.  I sometimes wish I had a garmin, only for speed workouts really, though.  I am guessing they were between 8:30-9:00 per mile pace.

Yesterday we just had an orientation for the yoga class, so I did not get to do any yoga, sadly.  I did lift weights for 40 minutes though, and my arms felt dead afterwards (in a good way!)

Medical Talk

A bit of background: I was diagnosed with PCOS 3.5 years ago.  Most women with PCOS are overweight and do not have periods.  This was not the case for me, so for a long time, no one could figure out what was wrong.  When I was diagnosed, by a very clever gynecologist who works with my mother, I was put on birth control.  Over the years I have been on yaz, yasmin, and, most recently, ocella.  My PCOS seemed to be under control with the BC.  I reached a roughly stable weight and maintained within a five pound range up until this summer.

In July, I was hospitalized with multiple massive pulmonary emboli in the main arteries of each of my lungs.  I was hospitalized for three days.  Here I am in my hospital room:

Part I of the hospital stay can be found here.

Part II here.

Hormonal birth control (or any other hormonal treatment) can serve as a risk factor for clotting (pulmonary embolism means clotting that occurs in the lungs, which is very dangerous because it can cause you to stop breathing).  Once you have a blood clot of any sort, you can never take birth control or other hormones again, unless you’re on some sort of suicidal mission.  This has obvious implications for sex, but that’s not what I want to talk about.  The problem for me is that the birth control was controlling my PCOS.  Now that I have been off of it for two months, my body’s hormonal and endocrine systems (which are related) are going haywire.  Literally haywire.

I had a really long appointment with the women’s doctor yesterday.  She was extremely nice and helpful and seems like the first doctor who has ever really taken the time to figure out what might be at the root of my hormonal/endocrine problems.

For one thing, I am gaining weight uncontrollably.  I am eating only a little bit more than I was pre-hospitalization, only now I am training for a marathon.  I am running 40-50 miles a week, in addition to strength training twice a week and yoga twice a week.  I am an active, healthy young woman.  There is no logical reason for me to be gaining weight and not having a period, among other things.

Our bodies have many, many hormones, not just estrogen and progesterone and testosterone.  Two of these other hormones are known as LSH and FH.  I don’t know precisely what my levels of these homrones are (or even should be), but I do know that their ratio is 1:1.  This is very bad.  A normal woman has a 1:3 ratio and someone with PCOS has an even higher ratio (e.g, 1:5 or 1:6).  A ratio of 1:1 is typically only seen in anorexic women or over-exercisers.  I suppose marathon training could count as overexercising, but I think she was referring to thin over-exercisers who have lost so much body fat that it screws up their hormones.

Sigh.

The only conclusion at this point is that I might not have PCOS, but may have an adrenal or endocrine disorder. I will have to see a specialist in hopes of figuring out what exactly might be going on.  I know my body quite well, and it has never been more clear to me that something is awry.  It was subtle at first, but has gotten worse over the last few weeks.  I am worried, but I feel comforted by this latest doctor, who was extraordinarily thorough and compassionate.  She saw me for over an hour.

I may need to try a medication called Metformin, which would help my insulin resistance.  As far as I can tell, the only other non-hormonal treatment for PCOS is a low-carb diet.  Have you ever tried eating low-carb while running 40 plus miles per week?  Not fun.

I am scared and confused.  I want this to be over with.  I have a million other things to deal with right now.  I wish my body just worked the way it was supposed to.

In addition to all of that, I just found out that my INR (measure of the effectiveness of the anti-clotting medication) is only 1.5.  This is bad.  Very bad.  This means that I will have to gt my blood drawn every three days until we figure out what the correct dosage of the Coumadin should be.

So basically my life is really fun right now!  Okay, so that was a little bit sarcastic.  I do have many things that bring me joy though, and I am going to list them for two reasons.  First, because this post has been a total downer and second, because I need to cheer myself up a little bit.  Happy Caronae=Healthy Caronae!

Things that bring me joy right now:

Fresh fall apples

Baking on the weekends

Studying (aka not studying) with friends on weeknights, chatting, playing

USB (he is amazingly soothing and gentle)

My crazy professor (today I spent 75 minutes learning about how minute differences in wheat/barley vs. millett/sorghum/rice/teff cultivation changed the course of history — it literally is both fascinating and hilarious)

Blended grain “soups” (just had some for dessert with nut butter and dark chocolate, of course)

Crossword puzzles in the newspaper

Yoga

Fall breezes/temperature drops (it’s my favorite season!)

Cuddling with USB

Bubble Tea

Massages

Books of all sorts

See, I’m not all negativity right now.  Just mostly. 🙂  This post was actually originally intended to go in a completely different direction.  Therefore, I am deeming it Part I of a two part series.  The other part will happen tomorrow, and hopefully it will make a bit more sense where I’m coming from at that point.

Goodnight friends!

The Farmer’s Market And A Brief Rant

Today’s Positive Note: I think I’m a good leader.  Sometimes it’s because I’m bossy, but I think I do have a natural tendency to guide others within a group setting, and I try to do without being domineering.  I like to think this is a good character trait!

Run: 5 miles (1 warm up, ~2 tempo, ~2 cool down).  the tempo was more like 2.3 and the cool down 1.7 to make it an even five.  I did it all on a treadmill again.  What’s up with my little indoor-runnin streak?  Weird.  I also did 15 minutes of arm weights, and got in a solid number of moves and reps.  I should have taken a picture of my lunch because it was so delicious, but I forgot.  It involved pumpkin butter, almond butter, and chocolate chips.  All between two slices of bread.  Can you guess what it was?  I get serious chocolate cravings the week of my period.  I’m sure there’s no scientifically proven connection here, but I eat more chocolate that week than the rest of the month combined, easily.  I have learned that trying to deny the chocolate beast will only make things worse, so I try to incorporate little bits into my day here and there.  It’s a pretty good strategy.

Today was Farmer’s Market Thursday on my street!  This always makes me happy.  I acquired salad greens, a delicata squash (since I always see them on Stef’s blog), a sweet potato, and my usual ten billion pounds of apples.  Still no sign of Ronnybrook farms for my milk though.  Sad. 

I have seriously been so spoiled by the CENYC Farmer’s market system.  I’m an addict.  I would go get fresh produce and bread every day if it were right outside my door.

Mmmmm, squash.

And now for some slightly less happy talk.  At least, not food-related or running-related talk.

I was inspired to write about one of my perceived “flaws” after reading this post from HangryPants.  If you don’t want to listen to me talk about my weight, my body-image issues, or some minor medical things, I recommend that you skip this section.

I have always been very strong, and I was never “thin”.  I was always very fit and never fat, but I was not a skinny kid (unlike my sister; boo genetics).  I had very early symptoms of puberty, probably from the time of eight or nine.  My mom kept me in swimming and gymnastics, hoping to delay the onset of my period.  I was typically intensely active 15-20 hours a week as a kid/adolescent.  This was actually quite a good strategy on her part, and it prevented me from getting my period too early (both of my parents are doctors).  This may all sound very random, but she had a suspicion from my very early onset puberty that I might have PCOS.  Lo and behold, my astute mother was right.  She did me a huge favor by making sure I didn’t begin my period too young; I suspect that if this were the case, the PCOS symptoms would have become much worse and I would probably have ended up overweight (I don’t really understand the science behind this, but whatever).  I was officially diagnosed with PCOS when I was 17 and I saw a gynecologist for the first time.  There is no treatment, per se, other than taking birth control pills to maintain a regular, strong cycle.   

A majority of women with PCOS are either overweight or obese.  The reasons for this are complicated, and involve various hormones and insulin.  I myself am a bit insulin resistant (I have had fasting blood sugars of 130-150 multiple times.  This is not good.) and must be careful about how I eat.  Some women with PCOS become infertile, but because I started taking birth control pills from a relatively young age, this is unlikely.  There are many other symptoms, most of which are typically things you would associate with an excess of testerone, i.e., lots of hair growth, acne, and an increased risk for a wide variety of other diseases.  Anyways, my point here is not to give you a lesson in PCOS.

I have had “body image issues”, to put it delicately, for the last several years of my life.  I have always felt fat (even though that really hasn’t been the case).  But today, as I settle fully into my adult body, I realize that truth betold, while I am not bigger than most women, I am at the very upper range of what is considered an acceptable BMI.  To put the numbers concretely, I am 5’7 and weigh 155 pounds (my weight fluctuates between 148-158, ideally I’d like to stay at the low end of this range).  I am not trying to justify my body-hatred (I’m really working on getting over this), but I am trying to explain where it comes from.  There are weeks where I run 40-50 miles.  I cross train.  I lift weights.  I eat what I onsider to be a wonderful diet (although I am by no means perfect) full of fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, and grains.  It is not unusual for me to eat 7-10 servings of fruits and veggies a day.

So basically, I follow all the rules.  I exercise (sometimes too much, even).  I eat wonderfully.  I even try to take care of my spirit.  But because of the PCOS, I doubt that I will ever weigh 130 or even 140 pounds.  I will never have a BMI in the low or middle range of acceptable.  And slowly, I am coming to terms with that.  I can’t even begin to describe to you how hard it is for me to lose weight.  The only time I remember actually losing weight like a normal person was when I was eating 1200 calories a day of basically fruits, veggies, and cottage cheese.  I was not a happy person then!  Have you ever heard of marathoners and ultramarthoners losing a few pounds (sometimes even 10+ pounds) after a long run?  Well I have done many a long run (15+ miles) and this would never happen to me.  In fact, I once weighed myself before and after a long run as an experiment, and I believe I gained three pounds.  To put it politely, this is how screwed up my metabolism is.  But this is also the way my body works, and I am not going to get another one. 

Additionally, I take an anti-depressant which most liekly also makes me gain weight easily.  Not being on this medication is not an option right now, and I’m okay with that.  I also don’t have the greatest genetics when it comes to weight and body shape.  My mother, if I recall correctly, was unable to eat for a large portion of her pregnancies.  Despite not taking in any food, constantly throwing up, and surviving on IV fluids for weeks on end, she still piled on the pounds.

So there are a variety of circumstances in my life that seem to have determined my body shape and size.  I can either tell myself that I am healthy and beautiful, which are both true, or I can wallow in the fact that I’m not thin.  I am making a conscious choice to see my body in a positive light from now on.  I do what I can do.  I don’t need to weigh 130 pounds to be healthy, happy, or glowing.  In fact, I think I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life right now.  And I weigh 155 pounds.  I think I’ll survive 🙂