It’s all about the science (oversharing #4): I haven’t wept in days.

IMAG0662I’m starting to feel a hell of a lot better. Haven’t yet returned to the doc for followup, but I can tell my optimism is back; it’s a lot easier to smile; I haven’t wept in days (except at a particularly beautiful musical arranging moment by Brendan on our song “If You Believe,” which I cannot wait to play for you as part of Just Getting Good); it doesn’t require superhuman effort or tractor-hauling to get me out of bed in the morning; I don’t feel itchy or apathetic or like I’m crawling out of my skin; and I am nearly back to being myself again —as well as clearly a bit leaner, though still about 10-12 pounds heavier than I would like.
In this intricate dance of hormone balance and health which I’ve been chronicling over the past several weeks, here’s what is now DIFFERENT and appears to be helping:

  1. dialing back on the estrogen/progesterone, which I didn’t realize was being freed up/increased by my strength training – who knew??
  2. changing my longtime thyroid medication from Synthroid to Armour, which addresses the T3 as well as the T4 aspect of the thyroid (I actually think this is making a huge difference in my energy level)
  3. having ONLY one cup of coffee in the morning (as we get older the caffeine can affect our adrenal glands, contributing to anxiety and fatigue), and
  4. truly staying away from most sugar and carbs (except for one weekly “refeed”/carb festival).

The next paragraph is going to get super-geeky in the fat science department. Brace yourself.

It’s so heartening to see my trainer Ian Lane’s guiding principles being corroborated in the national news! Ian (who as a biochem student and varsity gymnast contracted Lyme disease, gained 100 pounds, and then shed it all very intelligently and systematically, using his passion for science and physiology to make it happen as efficiently as possible) advocates a low-carb, high-fat, low-sugar approach to nutrition. He can frequently be found battling it out on Twitter with traditionalists and others who disagree, citing study after study in the growing body of research on the subject (I believe he took on the venerable Dr. Sears recently and they had a lively debate)…and it was wonderful to see the New York Times headline last week echoing exactly what Ian keeps saying:
Cutting carbs, eating lots of good proteins and fats, including saturated fats, WORKS and is not harmful; in fact it is tremendously beneficial in many many ways (in the NIH study, markers of inflammation, triglycerides, and heart-attack-risk factors plunged as the low-carb high-fat group lost weight, as opposed to the traditional low-fat group). I certainly am feeling better already: more upbeat/energetic/even-keeled…

It’s amazing to hear from so many people on email and Facebook in response to my posts. Thank you so much for this wonderful supportiveness, and let’s keep the conversation going; there is such strength in community and we really can help each other. Let me know your thoughts! What’s working for you?

PS now that I’m not so much of an anxiety-ridden, weirdly itchy, exhausted, miserable mess, I will resume posting workouts. Here’s the last one:

3 sets of:

  1. single arm cable rows
  2. bent-over dumbbell rows
  3. bent-over lateral shoulder raises
  4. upright row with weight plate
  5. isometric chinup, otherwise known as TEN SECONDS OF TORTURE closely related to but harder than that ancient elementary-school demon, the flexed arm hang. This one is done with arms at about 90 degrees instead of with your chin above the bar. In my case, I struggle valiantly but end up inexorably descending little by little until I have drooped all the way down. This is known as “working to muscle failure” and is the best way to get stronger fast. It’s also psychologically almost impossible to achieve alone – the presence of a trainer or another person exhorting you to keep trying is the only way to make this happen, unless you are a MUCH BETTER PERSON than I.
  6. isometric wall squat, 20 seconds at each of 4 progressively more difficult positions farther and farther down the wall. Again, virtually impossible to do ALL THE WAY TO FAILURE by yourself.

Have you had similar experiences? Let me know!
(Those isometrics are such killers, and make you feel SO GREAT afterwards…)

PPS before I get back to practicing: I have discovered a little age-related bonus. Twenty-somethings all over the place are dyeing their hair grey; it is very cutting-edge and fashionable right now, my friends. MY hair is now suddenly coming in almost entirely silvery-grey at the roots, so that my wonderful hairstylist Meli no longer has to bleach it before putting on the blue. I feel like an iridescent mermaid.

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