My Recomp.

I have experimented with all types of exercise and I have had all kinds of eating habits, both good and bad. I started with doing group classes like zumba, kickboxing, and yoga, then I started adding in some weights but mostly doing isolation workouts with lighter loads. I really enjoyed the group classes and it was a great way for me to be introduced to world of fitness. The deal I got on the classes came to an end and it ultimately was not a sustainable routine for me. It was too expensive and the class schedule eventually didn’t match my life’s schedule. I tried running. I hated it. But I thought that was what was needed to be fit, and what I “should” be doing. Again, not sustainable solely because I hated it yet…and yes, I stuck with it for many weeks, even months, because people told me I would learn to like it. Wrong.

Then I found heavy weightlifting, which evolved into powerlifting. The Artist and I do it together, so it is fun, supportive, and something we are able to share together. I couldn’t even lift the bar alone let alone add any weights to it. Now I am strong and have developed muscles that have explosive strength. We are able to do this at a “regular” gym that is very affordable, but we hope to join a powerlifting gym one day. During my experimenting days, missing a workout or spending the weekend visiting family stressed me out big time. I was so afraid of gaining weight or losing stamina or something. But now, I can be busy, sick, etc. and miss a whole week, and nothing changes. I change my routine as my goals change. Finally, I have found what I truly like, that fits my life, and that is sustainable for the long term.

I am currently trying to “recomp”. I want to change my body composition by losing fat and building muscle mass. I know many argue that you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat and a surplus to build muscle, so this goal of mine will not be possible without bulking and cutting cycles. But I beg to differ. I am not trying to enter a competition or anything of that nature, at least not at this point in my life. I just want to go to about life and add working out into the mix. I want to be able to treat myself, and have a semi-relaxed diet and workout regimen. I knew progress would be slow, but that’s ok. I am in it for the long haul. I am gluten-intolerant, which has led to me minimizing my overall grain intake, which I seem to respond well to. I focus on eating a diet that is high in protein, healthy fats, fibre, fruits, and vegetables, eating a bit more carbs on heavy lifting days and a bit less on the other days. I don’t count calories, I don’t weigh my food, it is all just best guess. I treat myself once in awhile. I workout as often as possible while commuting for full time grad school, working, completing a student placement, and having a life. Right now, I aim to lift heavy doing the main powerlifting lifts twice per week, and hopefully be able work in 2 days of medium-heavy accessory work. But again, I keep it semi-relaxed to allow for a good balance of a fun, life, school, work, and working out.

Here is my recomp progress after 1 year and 11 months. I really wanted to improve my upper body strength, and seeing these photos makes me so proud! My back rolls and love handles are shrinking, the cellulite on my legs (photo of me standing to the side) is smoothing out, and I am growing traps!

And I know I am making good recomp progress because my weight is the same throughout- floating around 180lbs ūüėÄ

  

 

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No, I don’t want to buy your $5 per serving shake/meal replacement/smoothie/whatever you are selling.

Has anyone else noticed that everyone is becoming a representative of some sort of product lately? Skin care, food, kitchen supplies, make up, etc., but the most common thing I keep getting asked to buy and become a part of, is shakes. But the most common thing seems to be shakes and meal replacements, but for me, the answer is no. I get it, though. It is a REALLY tough economy right now and everyone is scrambling to find income and survive. And kudos to all the awesome people in my life that these things work for, who are on a journey of health and wellness and have created a business they love. But please understand, this is not for me. Here is why.

When I tell you I can’t afford it, I really can’t. When you say things like “you are worth the investment”, I appreciate it, and I know that that my health is important and worth a lot of effort an attention. But that doesn’t change my ability to afford it. I use my campus food bank, I budget like crazy, and there are still nights that I have gone to bed without dinner, simply because pay day was around the corner and I had no food because it all went to rent or another crucial bill. This is not the norm every night, though, so don’t worry. I still manage to eat healthy foods on a $100 or less budget per week, in Toronto, for two adult powerlifters with big appetites. We both have smoothies for breakfast that cost $1-2 per person. Mine packs about 40g protein, 10g fiber, 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, lots of fat and carbs, and an array of vitamins and minerals. Sometimes I even eat an orange or kiwi on the side which will up the vitamins and fiber too. These are dietary requirements that are specific to my needs, and meal replacements generally do not meet these needs. Also, I can’t have gluten, which is surprisingly in a lot of that stuff, and I choose not to eat much soy, because it is bad for, and aggravates, all of my weird bodily conditions.

When you say that if I join the business, it will help with my money problems, please understand that I am a full time university student with multiple part-time jobs that I enjoy- I barely have time to shower in a day, let alone participate in the constant social media presence involved in these things. I do enjoy social media, but not for posting every meal and workout I do in a day. And my part-time jobs are ones that are enhancing my life in some way, and I enjoy them.

When you say that I won’t have to step foot in the gym or cook dinners, because all workouts are done from home and dinners are a shake (for example), this does not sound appealing to me. I LOVE going to the gym and cooking. Mostly, I love eating home cooked meals. I do powerlifting, which requires a gym, unless you have your own gym, which would be incredible lol! When you say that I can get weights and modify the workouts to include them, the answer is no. I do powerlifting, it is not the same as getting some dumb bells and following a video.

So I ask that you understand that I have different interests than you, and that is ok. I am excited for you that have a business you love and are healthy and enjoy what you do. I also enjoy what I do, it just happens to be something different. I am so proud of you for working hard towards your health goals! I am also proud of myself. My goals are a little different, and that is also ok. I am looking to gain muscle mass and intense strength, which requires intense workouts at the gym and lots of calories consumed. Hence, low calorie shakes are not suited for me, and meals that cut calories are out of the question. My basal metabolic rate, which is just to maintain my body, muscle, organs, etc. at rest is a little over 1600 cal per day. Add in a workout that burns probably 700 cal AT LEAST, plus add in additional calories to create a surplus for muscle building…that is a lot of food.

So all in all, these shakes and meal replacements just do not suit my life, my goals, or my interests. They may suit yours, which again, is ok. Lets focus on encouraging one another to strive towards our goals, no matter what they are ūüôā

A breath of fresh air.

Sometimes we just need some fresh air. ¬†There is something about spending time with nature that is soothing, and helps you find peace with whatever you are struggling with. ¬†We really wanted to go camping (secluded style, not in a massive field full of tents), and although it is a cheap thing to do, we just couldn’t afford it. ¬†I was really upset, annoyed, etc. but tried my best to stay positive and come up with an alternative. ¬†We decided to take a walk at Castlewood State Park, and then a drive through Lone Elk Park instead. ¬†Our walk was very beautiful, and the air was very crisp- just the way we like it. ¬†There was a bench on one of the bluffs, so we sat down and just enjoyed the view for a bit. ¬†We breathed in that beautiful fresh air and just talked, and although I still want to go camping, I didn’t seem to mind as much anymore. ¬†It was very calming. ¬†Afterwards, we drove through Lone Elk Park, and briefly got to seek some elk and even a bison in the distance!

I often find myself craving to spend time outside or be with nature in some way, which I take as a sign that I am carrying around too much stress and need to take care of myself.  So, take care of myself I did.

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Chocolatey all-in-one breakfast smoothie!

I have been searching for a breakfast smoothie that is a “complete” breakfast, that I can take on the go, and that actually tastes good. ¬†Finally, I have discovered a combination of ingredients that tastes amazing and fits my breakfast needs! ¬†With breakfast, I aim to get a good source of fibre, a good source of protein, and at least one serving of fruit (or vegetable). ¬†Smoothies seemed like a good option to me for days when I am working in my office and can bring this smoothie to drink at my desk, but I struggled to find something that worked. ¬†The struggle is over my friends…..I am in love with this smoothie! ¬†It is so chocolatey, which for this girl, is a win. ¬†I could eat chocolate forever! ¬†There is no signal in my brain to tell me to stop eating chocolate ūüėČ

Note that this recipe is very forgiving, and each ingredient can totally be adjusted to your nutritional needs and taste preferences.  Below is what suites my taste!

Chocolatey all-in-one breakfast smoothie:

(approx. 20g protein and 11g fiber)

– 1 banana

– 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

– 1/3 scoop of vanilla protein powder

– 2 tbsp chia seeds

– 2 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder (***see note on this ingredient below)

– splash of water (***see note on this ingredient below)

– variations: drizzle of honey, scoop of peanut butter, etc.

– 2 or 3 ice cubes (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients, except the ice cubes, in a blender, and blend until smooth. ¬†Feel free to add the ice cubes if you want a more slushy texture, see below for how I like to make mine! ¬†I use a Magic Bullet blender, as it is so easy and uses less dishes because you make the smoothie in the cup you use to drink it…it comes with travel lids to screw on and everything!

Note on the Dutch cocoa powder: I use Dutch cocoa powder instead of the regular kind because I prefer the taste of it.  I had never tried it until recently, and have totally fallen in love.  It makes for a darker colour, and a more rich and chocolatey, sort of brownie-like taste.  I highly recommend trying it!

Note on the water: I add a splash of water and then blend it. ¬†Then add small amounts of water if necessary to adjust the consistency. ¬†Sometimes I am in the mood for a thicker shake, sometimes thinner ūüôā

Right before I head out the door, I like to add 2 or 3 whole ice cubes (the same way you would add ice cubes to a glass of pop for example).  This keeps my smoothie nice and cold- just the way I like it!  I like to keep the smoothie thick as this thins it slightly as the ice cubes melt.

Sometimes I like to switch it up with honey or peanut butter too!  Sometimes I have just this smoothie for breakfast, but sometimes I might have a handful of berries on the side or drink a small glass of freshly squeezed orange or carrot juice as well.

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Top 6 Ideas for Easy Preparation of Weeknight Meals (and even packing lunches too!).

My sister and brother-in-law are very busy career folk with 2 dogs, a house under renovations, and a million other things to do, and freeze a lot of meals for quick dinners on busy weeknights.  After a recent conversation, I was inspired to share what I do for quick and easy meals, and how this preparation and routine has helped me maintain a healthy, whole foods diet (for the most part, haha!).

1. Have cooked or thawed protein in the fridge at all times.

I like to buy in bulk and freeze meat, and there is nothing worse then being hungry for dinner and having to defrost something before you can even cook it!  I like to bake 5 or 6 chicken breasts in the oven, with a simple seasoning such as salt and pepper, or some herbs.  This way, they can be doctored up later.  Add a drizzle of oil for extra flavour and juiciness.  Chill in the fridge in a container for later use.  P.S. Cutting cooked and chilled chicken is so much easier and slices SO nice.  Now you can add it to a salad for an entree-style salad, make a quick wrap, or pasta.  You could also cook a whole chicken, bone-in chicken, etc. and do the same thing.  For pork and beef, I prefer to have them thawed and even marinated for a day or two in spices or whatever, or even cut up and put on kabobs for quick grilling.  This works with chicken too.  Or with thawed meat you can cube it or slice it when raw and store in the fridge.  Sometimes cleaning and cutting the meat takes awhile, but this way, it is already done.

 

2. Make a big batch of homemade tomato sauce.

When you have tried this, you will never go back to the canned store bought kind again.  I freeze it in batches and always have one ready in the fridge.  Chicken parm sandwiches, english muffin or pita pizzas, or pastas are made super quick easy.

 

3.  Triple recipes, or just make a TON of something at once.

Put on the radio, and spend some time in the kitchen on the weekend and cook up a favourite dinner. ¬†We love pasta dishes in our house and make huge batches of them. ¬†Mac n’ cheese is really delicious for leftovers, and can easily be healthified. ¬†We will make a pasta that has 4 or 5 chicken breasts in it and a mound of veggies is on the cutting board waiting to go in. ¬†Pasta is good for leftovers and re-heats well too. ¬†If you have a microwave at work (or like cold pasta) you will have lunches for several days, or leftovers to eat anytime.

 

4. Prep all your produce.

Wash, cut, and prepare all the fruits and veggies (including lettuce and greens) in your fridge store in containers (which also makes for easy snacking, I find I am much more likely to grab them if they are ready to go).  For lunches, I even take it a step further and portion them into baggies for small lunch containers for the week.  That way, all the work is done and I plop them into my lunch bag.  And having peppers and mushrooms sliced and washed already, and lettuce clean and dried, cuts dinner prep time way down.  I even sometimes do things 2-ways, for example, I will cut carrots into sticks for snacks and side dishes and also shred some for salad toppings.  Words cannot describe how useful it is to have a fridge full of washed and prepped fruits and veggies.  If I have edamamme, I will cook it and do the same thing (it is good hot or cold, or added to salad or stir fry).  Or I will have a can of beans or chick peas rinsed and ready in a container for salads and topping any dish basically.

 

5. Cook up a batch of rice.  A big one.

With your veggies already prepared and meat thawed, you can stir fry it all together and then serve over rice for such an effortless, yet delicious dinner.  I find rice re-heats well, in my opinion.  Or make a curry, which is really easy, yet really hardy, and serve with rice.  And combine leftover cooked rice with leftover cooked chicken, you get an amazing homemade chicken fried rice.  I even like our homemade, healthier version better then take-out now.  We almost never buy it out anymore.

 

6.  Use the slow cooker for everything.

Casseroles, meat, roasts, sauces, etc.  It does the work all day and you come home to a delicious meal!  For extra fast meals, do something all-in-one, like pork loin with potatoes/onions/carrots, seasoning of choice, and voila.  You could even add a side salad or corn on the cob for something extra.

Now I bet all of this sounds like a ton of work, and just really not do-able at all. ¬†But I don’t have every single example above ready in my fridge. ¬†My rule of thumb is: always have cooked or at least thawed protein available and abundant, and prep all produce. ¬†One week I might have a ton of cooked chicken breast and rice in the fridge, the next week might be more grilling with side salads, and the next week might be making loads of 1 or 2 dishes for leftovers.

I pick a day when I have some time, put on my favourite radio station (oldies or NPR usually) and head into the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. It’s very relaxing, because there is no time frame, I am not starving, and can putter around. ¬†Or the Artist and I will do it together one night, and catch up, be silly, or have really great talks about life, or all of the above. ¬†Being in the kitchen together is one of our favourite ways to spend time together. ¬†Sometimes we even take it a step further; the Artist will prepare a big dinner with tons of leftovers, and I will prep all the produce for the week, and we will pour drinks, turn up the tunes, eat the dinner by candle light, and make a mini-date out of it.

When these are all prepared, and I even pre-portion for lunches (so I literally grab my lunch from the fridge and plop it in my lunch bag in the morning), I eat a lot healthier and a much more balanced diet.  We are less likely to resort to junk or take-out when we get home tired after a long day because we can make something delicious and homemade in minutes.

The fastest meals, I would say in 15 minutes or less, would be: entree-style salads, tacos (using already cooked meat or beans), quesadillas, wraps, and grilled kabobs.

On the more medium side of things, in about 20 minutes, you could have: grilled meat, stir fry (less time probably if you use cooked meat instead of sautéing), pita or flatbread pizza, or grilled paninis.

And in about 30 minutes, you could make: spaghetti, chicken fried rice, any pasta dish, prepare pizza dough ahead of time by rolling it in desired shape(s) and freezing (you could even cook it for a few minutes to help it hold its shape) for taking pizza at home to the next level, spicy orange chicken with cashew nuts (or any Asian dish that doesn’t involve battering and frying the meat before starting), or larger cuts of meat including larger cuts of bone-in meat either grilled, or oven roasted.

In 30+ minutes: mac n’cheese casserole, sweet and sour chicken (or Asian dishes that include battering and frying meat), Mongolian style stir fry with Sriracha sauce, and of course things in the slow cooker. ¬†These just mostly require time for cooking and don’t need as much attention other then checking or stirring during this time.

And for all of these examples, having prepped produce will come in handy for easy and quick side dishes and salads.  For example; grilled peppers, corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus, raw veggie platter with hummus, and never ending combinations of salads.  And to keep things as healthy as possible, choose whole wheat options, make your own marinade instead of using a bottled one, and be aware of how much sodium and sugar you use so that you can adjust to fit your needs/wants.

I hope this was helpful ūüôā

 

Workout

I consider myself to be reasonably healthy and fit. ¬†I consider myself one who works out fairly often. ¬†I consider myself as being reasonably strong. ¬†I ride my bicycle to and from each workout. ¬†I enjoy challenging exercises and pushing myself hard. ¬†I enjoy that “high” after a good workout.

This however, was so out of league.  Did I miss the memo that this cardio class is for hard core athletes only?  What you are about to read is the honest truth of my experience.

I have been to lots of cardio classes, zumba, kickboxing, and general cardio that involved aerobics, steps, etc. and enjoy them all.  I started out in pretty rough shape, but I have improved a lot since.  I needed some cardio, so I tried this new class being offered right before the yoga class I normally go to.  these classes are drop-in style.  Only 6 of us were at the class, and the other 5 girls were insanely fit, muscular, and had been involved in athletics at least in high school (not sure if they are still doing it now in university or not).

As most of you know, I have been struggling in the intense heat that has been in St. Louis all summer. ¬†So the first sign that this class may not be for me was that we were starting outside. ¬†It was a sunny, hot day. ¬†Yes, the crazy hot days are getting less and less frequent, but this day was quite warm and the sun was blazing. ¬†No one grabbed water bottles or anything, and since I was new, I followed suit. ¬†So we started running around this little path of sidewalk at the campus (I workout on the campus where the Artist goes to school). ¬†I definitely should have brought my sunglasses out. ¬†And my water. ¬†And a towel. ¬†I kept up with group for the first lap, and we had to go again. ¬†Then backwards. ¬†Then backwards again. ¬†Try running backwards with my crazy flat arches and feet that don’t bend properly, and you get shin splints. ¬†I get shin splints often because of this, but running backwards does it in about 2 minutes. ¬†And yes, there were ledges to the sidewalk and I tripped. ¬†I didn’t wipe out though, phew. ¬†Eventually I had to take walking breaks, I am not a runner, I don’t know how to run properly, I look insane when I run, and I just overall suck at it, along with having no interest in it. ¬†So everyone laps me, and finishes, and starts doing walking lunges around this little loop. ¬†Again, I am last. ¬†And so far behind the rest they are all waiting for me at the end. ¬†So girls, if you by chance stumble upon this- I swear, I was trying my very best to keep up!

Then we go inside. FInally, air conditioning and some fans. ¬†My water bottle, and a towel to wipe my sweaty, bright red face. ¬†When I hear that that was the warm up, I think my eyes widened quite noticeably. ¬†We did burpies, planks, lunges with weights, jumping lunges, side lunges with weights, squats, sit ups with a partner passing a pilates ball, and lots more that I can’t remember. ¬†My lungs were burning for air, I couldn’t ever seem to catch a minute to catch my breath, no matter how much water I drank I felt like my throat was so dry it was going to crack. ¬†Finally, a 2 minute break. ¬†Time for water, yay! ¬†And I find my towel because I am soaked in sweat.

Back outside. ¬†Oh gosh. ¬†Running. ¬†Again. ¬†Then we did Indian running where you jog in single file and the person at the back sprints to the front. ¬†When we were told to do another lap, I couldn’t. ¬†I had to stop. ¬†It was either be embarrassed and stop, or faint. ¬†Even then I couldn’t catch my breathe before we were back inside doing all the same lovely things. ¬†I had to modify some of the moves to fit my abilities and needs. ¬†Obviously I was the only one to do this.

Crap, I ran out of water.  Ugh, and I need a new towel, this one is saturated.  Good thing they had a fresh stack.

As we put our weights and balls away I could feel my muscles quivering. ¬†As I put the equipment on the shelf, not only could I feel my muscles quivering, I could see them. ¬†My arms were shaking as I placed the ball on the shelf. ¬†I couldn’t make it to the floor to sit down for yoga, which was right after, and found myself “plopping” down on my mat. ¬†Thankfully, this yoga class is a regular I have been going to, and there was no way I could ride my bike home at this point, and at least the deep stretching this particular class offers might help my muscles.

I needed a bathroom break from all the water I drank.  As I got up, there was a perfect butt imprint formed by sweat on my mat.  You could even see the creases from my pants.  Good thing they were black.  As I went into the bathroom, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  Ew.  There are not enough words to describe my sweaty, red, face.  You know when you are swimming, and hop out to use the bathroom, that feeling of pulling your bottoms down and then back up again?  All wet and yucky?  That is what it felt like.  That is how much I was sweating.  How could one even produce that much liquid?  While sitting on the toilet, I noticed sweat running down my shins.  Yes, my shins.  As I was washing my hands, I noticed in the mirror the huge rings of sweat around my armpits, and on my back.  The collar of my t-shirt was drenched.

I headed back to my yoga mat, and realized I had to take my shoes off. ¬†Uh-oh. ¬†My feet probably smell really bad. ¬†So I leave my socks on for a bit so I can cool off and stop sweating a little first. ¬†Someone asked me if I worked out before the yoga class. ¬†Ha. ¬†What gave it away? ¬†I am surprised there weren’t crunchy white salt stains on my clothes. ¬†So I responded by saying yes, I did the class before yoga, and that if anyone smells something strange, it because I have been pouring with sweat for the last hour, and I apologize. ¬†Looking back, I was in a state of delirium. ¬†Especially based on what happens next.

This yoga class focuses on deep stretches and lots of floor poses. ¬†I have been going regularly for awhile now. ¬†But my muscles are so weak and tired and shaky, I was having trouble holding the poses for a long time, and was toppling over often. ¬†Then the giggles started, and for no particular reason. ¬†Probably because I was also getting hungry for dinner. ¬†It wasn’t long before my stomach was rumbling too. ¬†My giggling was getting out of control, and others started giggling too. ¬†I am going to pretend they were giggling with me, and not at me, haha. ¬†Luckily, the teacher likes to encourage us to smile and laugh his jokes while practising, but also having a time and place for meditation and concentration. ¬†So at least he got a chuckle out it. ¬†Normally, I am not so disruptive. ¬†But, when you try not to laugh, it makes it worse and you laugh harder. ¬†I had tears coming out of my eyes I was so out of control delirious. ¬†At this point, delirious from the previous class, but now from hunger too.

I come home and flop down on the bed. ¬†Exhaustion hits even harder. ¬†Taking a shower is a necessity, but feels like too much work at this point. ¬†And remember I had to ride my bike home. ¬†After I eat and shower, you would think I went straight to sleep. ¬†But I winded down with watch DVDs of Arrested Development and calling my mom. ¬†I told my mom this story and she is like, “what if you were filmed and put on the internet?”….no, they would need our permission first. ¬†And she says, “no like someone walking, like a pedestrian, used their phone when you were outside and filmed the crazy girl lagging behind the group, and they put it on YouTube?”

Oh crap.  I feel like that is a realistic possibility.  The Artist said the based on my recap, I will end up on the Ellen Show if someone posted it on YouTube.  Ha.

Then I proceeded to watch Arrested Development and after we turned the TV off, I got the giggles again.  The Artist and I laid in bed quoting Buster and giggling until like 2am.  And I had to get up early.

And the worst part is, like I said at the beginning, I consider myself a reasonably fit, strong person.

The next morning, my quads were so sore, I could hardly walk. ¬†And I had to get up early, and my day went several hours longer then it was scheduled to. ¬†And since I normally don’t bring a lunch because I get home around lunch time, I was famished. ¬†What a day.

But oh well.  That class, was definitely not for me.

I feel like I am prone to awkward, embarrassing, crazy situations.

Lets see what today brings! ūüėČ

Under-active Thyroid

It has been going on 9 years since I was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid, and every time I go to a doctor, for any reason, I still get nervous, anxious, and crippled with worry. ¬†Even if there is nothing wrong, or I am going for something routine. ¬†Blood tests, check ups, going for something unrelated like a cough or sinus infection- anything- and I get all worked up. ¬†To the untrained eye it looks like, why? ¬†It’s nothing serious, thyroid conditions are common, doctors are helpful, etc. ¬†But for me, it is more then that. ¬†I think I was, for lack of a better word, traumatized a little back when this was first diagnosed, and now every time I worry that something scary will happen again.

But first, I would like to tell you what an under active thyroid does. ¬†Most commonly it involves weight gain, fatigue, low mood, and feeling tired. ¬†The most common reaction I get is usually along the lines of, “I think I might have that too”. ¬†Why? ¬†Well because the biggest complaints among the Western world, especially women, are wanting to lose weight, have more energy, etc., especially for busy people who work long hours, get little sleep, have a family to care for, and the like. ¬†Well, for me, it is so much more then feeling just tired. ¬†When I am low or feel like I need a medication increase, I usually gain weight, and I am not talking like 5lbs, I have in the past gained as much as 20 pounds in less then a month. ¬†For no reason. ¬†As a young women entering adulthood, that sucks. ¬†I was even skating about 4 days a week for a good 2 hours each time, it is not like I was lazing around, although the fatigue wanted me to. ¬†Most recently, other then a bit of weight gain, was the extreme fatigue. ¬†Getting 10 hours of sleep a night was not cutting it. ¬†My brain was foggy all the time, it took everything out of me just to function for the day and stay awake, I was overwhelmed and stressed out easily, and by mid afternoon I was so tired I couldn’t stay awake. ¬†Yes, sometimes in life an afternoon nap sounds great! ¬†Especially during hectic times. ¬†But this was all consuming. ¬†If someone asked me a question, trying to respond was too taxing. ¬†I felt like I couldn’t control it, and sleep was coming for me. ¬†My eyes were heavy, my brain was foggy, I had no energy, and therefore despite my hugest efforts, I could no longer fight it at this point. ¬†Extreme lethargy is the best way to describe it, but even that doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head. ¬†And to the world, I just look like a lazy bones taking a nap, but really, I am trying with all my might to stay awake. ¬†I tried to take advantage of being in the car and would take a little nap then, or if I am home alone I would sleep for a bit so my life would experience as little interference as possible. ¬†Because in the end, wherever I was, I would sleep. ¬†At this point, falling asleep is beyond my control. ¬†On the bus, subway, in the car, at home, when I was in school- during class, on the couch, in bed, sitting up, etc. ¬†This is just the main way it affects me. ¬†Other things that have occurred include, thinning of my hair (all over my body, especially my eyebrows), constipation, low appetite, low moods, brittle hair (on my head), puffy face, among others. ¬†I take medication daily for hypothyroidism, which relieves most of these symptoms if I am on the right dosage. ¬†Occasionally I need an increase, which is usually accompanied by these symptoms to various degrees, and then after awhile on the new dosage, I feel better. ¬†But one thing that has never left me, is my need for sleep. ¬†Less then 8 hours- forget it. ¬†A good 8 hours allows me to function, but 9 allows me to function, feel alert, feel refreshed, and consciously be present and enjoy my day. ¬†I can cope with less then 8 hours once in awhile, but it can’t be a regular thing. ¬†It is a physical need for my body’s conditions.

So going back about 9 years, I was 15 years old and going in to see the doctor about my knee. ¬†He asks questions, doesn’t seem too worried, but runs some bloodwork anyways. ¬†Well it turns out, he found some hormones that were quite out of whack. ¬†My free T4 was extremely low, and my TSH was, literally, off the charts. ¬†The lab stopped counting at 600. ¬†The normal range is 0.5-5.0, I think. ¬†Something like that anyways, which pointed to a hefty case of hypothyroidism. ¬†So he ordered a “semi-urgent” MRI of my head to look at my pituitary gland. ¬†I went to the appointment a few weeks later, got the MRI, and they told us it would be a few weeks to get the results. ¬†So we asked where the nearest walk-in clinic was because I had a nasty chest cold, they directed us, and my mom and I went. ¬†When we got there and I handed them my health card, they told me my doctor was looking for me, and to call him right away. ¬†It turns out, they looked at my MRI images right away, found something, called my doctor, and told him we were planning on going to a walk-in clinic. ¬†He, in turn, called every clinic in the area asking them to watch for me to come in. ¬†So my mom was on the phone with him, crying, and dragging me back to the car. ¬†The doctor told me I had a pituitary adenoma, and arranged for me to see a neurologist immediately at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. ¬†We hopped in the car and drove. ¬†As a kid, if I was ever scared, I knew it would be ok if my mom told me not to worry, or went into my scary dark closet to check for monsters, and appeared calm. ¬†But she was crying, and exploding with worry all over. ¬†Hence, I was freaked right out. ¬†You know it’s bad if your mom is scared. ¬†The neurologist, and my family doctor, were concerned about my peripheral vision because my pituitary was so enlarged it was pressing on my optic nerves. ¬†But nothing. ¬†To their astonishment, my vision was, and still is, normal. ¬†He referred me to an endocrinologist, and ordered another MRI in 3 months time. ¬†Meanwhile, I returned to see the endocrinologist. ¬†She put me on medication, which is essentially synthetic thyroid hormones. ¬†She started me on a low dose, and increased it slowly over several months to avoid “shocking” my body with such a high dose. ¬†I went for the next MRI and to everyone’s amazement, everything was normal. ¬†The neurologist discharged me, saying he thought that it was mainly a thyroid issue, and I had follow up eye exams for a little while afterwards. ¬†They expected it to take a long time, but in a very short time, my images were normal. ¬†They continued increasing my medication slowly for about 2-2.5 years and I had found a comfortable dose, when I was about 17. ¬†Then when I was 20, I needed an increase, again when I was 23, and now again at 24.

So now, after that initial whirlwind, being terrified, I think it affects my appointments now. ¬†I went to the doctor to get my knee looked at and I was sent immediately to a hospital to see a neurologist because of a pituitary adenoma?! ¬†So when I see a doctor for a chest cough, routine bloodwork to get my levels checked, a physical, anything, you can see why I get a little anxious. ¬†Who knows what they will stumble upon. ¬†And at the time, I didn’t think anything was wrong. ¬†Symptoms don’t come overnight, they gradually take over your body, and from a day-to-day perspective, you don’t notice changes. ¬†But looking back, I had lots of gradual symptoms. ¬†I was 15 years old, with no signs of puberty whatsoever, I was less then 5 feet tall, I was very chubby, had a puffy face, pale skin, no hair on my arms, thinning eyebrows, 24/7 lethargy, brain fog, no energy or ambition, constipation, no appetite, and other things that are probably a little too descriptive for this blog. ¬†But feel free to ask me if we are Facebook friends ūüôā ¬†It is like being on autopilot, and when my medication gets adjusted, I feel like I come back to life, haha ūüėõ

Now recently at my last doctor’s appointment, I got a physical with the nurse practitioner, and bloodwork done. ¬†My free T4, which is my thyroid levels, were normal, but my TSH, which is what stimulates the thyroid gland to produce hormone, was high, at 29. ¬†So if one has hypothyroidism, TSH is high and free T4 is low, because the TSH is working hard telling your thyroid gland to produce, but it is not. ¬†She said that TSH can still be high when thyroid is normal, but it does need to be brought down, so she increased my medication. ¬†Initially she wanted a 6 week follow up blood test and a referral to an endocrinologist, because my TSH was even higher then my previous test. ¬†I was freaked right out. ¬†I had been discharged from my endocrinologist when I was around 17, because I was under control and could continue care with my family doctor. ¬†And now I needed to see one again?! ¬†Yikes! ¬†Obviously something is wrong if I am producing too much TSH when my free T4 is normal. ¬†But, she had misread something, and the blood test and medication increase that she thought was just 3 months ago, was actually 1 year and 3 months ago. ¬†So the TSH increase was over the course of a year, and not just a couple months was fine, and normal. ¬†She was only concerned because she thought I had a medication increase due to high TSH 3 months ago, and my levels got even higher instead of staying the same or lowering. ¬†So I now take 137mcg. ¬†She told me what to look for in case it is too much, and I get a follow up bloodwork check in December, provided I don’t have any big symptoms that it is too much for me. ¬†I have been taking it how for a bit less then a month, and my days of experiencing that mid afternoon crazy lethargy are now few and far in between. ¬†So, hopefully, this new dosage is all I need, and the blood test in December will at least show improvement. ¬†But I know too much for my own good. ¬†I can’t help but think why is my pituitary producing TSH if my thyroid is normal, and doesn’t “need” it? ¬†Or what if my free T4 gets to high from this dosage, but my TSH improves, then what? ¬†Oh the scary thoughts that run through my head. ¬†I try hard not to “google” it, because that will just make it worse. ¬†There is a lot of stuff out there that isn’t necessarily true, or reliable information.

But to make it all better, I have my Artist. ¬†He is extremely supportive, and drops everything if I get worried or upset or anxious around this stuff. ¬†He is so comforting, I am such a lucky girl to have such a great husband. ¬†He knows exactly how to calm me down, because in reality, I am not worried about some”thing”, but rather, what “could happen”. ¬†So he brings me back to Earth, somehow, and soothes me. ¬†“One step at a time, no matter what, we will figure it out.” ¬†“If that is what your body needs, then it’s fine, everybody is different.” ¬†And he always brings me back by re-telling me my own thoughts; life is precious, take advantage of your time, lets do something fun together instead, and if something happens, we will figure it out when the time comes. ¬†And of course, our mantra that we always say, “No matter what, we always have each other.” ¬†When one of us is stressed, worried, frustrated, etc. we say “no matter what….” prompting the other, upset one, to say “…we always have each other”.

And it is the truth.

No matter what.

That is all I need.

‚̧

P.S. ¬†The Artist always cheers me up, he is so hilarious, and can get a laugh out of me anywhere, anytime, ¬†Literally. ¬†One time he was in the shower, and I was sick, so I bursted into the bathroom and threw up in the toilet, and while I was vomiting, he said something that made me laugh ūüôā ¬†Haha. ¬†Currently, he has been having really bad allergies, and uses this as a trick to torment me ūüėČ ¬†He plays the “sick” role, and when I bring him something, what I think is a hug or snuggle, is really a trap to tickle me (I am extremely ticklish) or pull a prank of some sort. ¬†And it makes me laugh, sometimes to tears ūüôā ¬†I am so much less stressed then I used to be, and can handle things so much better now. ¬†Thank you, my Artist, for teaching me.

Happiness is contagious.

 

*Note:  This is my personal experience, and how a low thyroid affects me personally.  Everyone has different experiences, to varying degrees.