Let me start off by apologizing for my lack of posting recently. I truly think about posting way more often than I actually do it. Recently, I've been doing a lot of "thinking" and "organizing" in my own head. As I am sure you know, when your mind is filled with that sort of activity, it is really hard to share with others what is going on. I suppose the best term to describe my current situation is soul searching. I would really love to be typing up posts about my workout programs, and my eating plan, and how they are working great for me. The truth is that they are not. Don't get me wrong, I HAVE seen some great results from my 8 weeks of Hammer and Chisel...I know, you are expecting some before and after pics, and I will get to that. The thing is, my results are not at all physical in nature. That is frustrating to me. I didn't lose ANY weight from the beginning to the end of the program. Realistically, I did not expect to lose much either. After all, it is a muscle building/sculpting program, and muscle is much more dense than fat, which meant that if I am increasing my muscle mass, my weight should increase too. Even, if my inches decrease. Which they did....a little. After the first 4 weeks of Hammer and Chisel, I lost 4.5 inches off my waist and hips. I was feeling pretty awesome, and was ready to see what month 2 would bring. I continued to follow the workout schedule, and modified my eating to better fit my needs. By the end of the month that 4.5 loss shrunk down to a total of only 2 inches lost. REALLY? All that hard work...for nothing? I know that is what most people would think. Yes, those thoughts did cross my mind. However, I REALLY did see some fantastic progress. Just not stuff that will show up in a before and after pic. Some personal victories for me as a result of the Hammer and Chisel program:
- I challenged myself with my weights. Going from 5-8 pounds on most upper body exercises before Hammer and Chisel, to 15-18 pounds. For the lower body, I went from 12-15 pounds to 20-30.
- I am able to do push-ups. I know that sounds silly, since I do them all the time. The truth is that I almost always do push-ups on my knees, maybe cranking out one or two on my toes. Even then, I was only able to do about 10 push-ups before needing a break. Now, I can do about 10 on my toes before having to drop to my knees, AND I can keep going. I still struggle with doing more than 20, but that is still a huge accomplishment for me.
I know these are not huge victories to most of you. I would much rather have seen a lot more progress on the scale or with the tape measure. But, the one thing I have learned over my journey is to focus on where you found success, not where you had failure. After all, failure is just success in progress.
That brings me to what has been weighing my brain down over the past month. Part of the reason that I am not seeing the results I want, really doesn't have ANYTHING to do with whether or not I am following the program, or sticking with my eating plan. The problem is that the same health issues that were plaguing me this time last year started to creep up again. This whole situations is just getting completely ridiculous. I am seriously struggling with my weight. It doesn't matter if I am sticking with a plan or not, I am slowly seeing the scale go up. Not that the number on the scale is that big of a deal, but when it creeps up 30 pounds in several months time regardless of diet or activity level, something HAS to be wrong. Before you say anything, I am still pushing for thyroid tests. Hypothyroidism runs in my family, and I am very much aware that I am likely to struggle with it. However all of my tests keep coming back normal.
What do I do now? I start researching. I am one of those people that will put my symptoms in on WebMD and then look up every possible condition to see what might be ailing me. I am not trying to self diagnose (well, maybe a little), but I like to be armed with information. What have I been experiencing? Fatigue, brain fog, shifts between low and high energy, steady weight gain, bloating, gas, digestive issues, sinus congestion, insomnia and trouble sleeping, low sex drive, appetite shifts (hardly hungry for days, then struggling not to eat everything on the planet), increased backache with my periods, that may or may not go away for weeks on end, and a general sense of just not feeling well. With a list that long, there are a number of things that could be behind this. I found a lot of "conditions" that could contribute to some of the symptoms, but when it came to the weight gain part, the symptom was often weight loss, not gain. Kind of a relief, because all of the really bad stuff was usually accompanied with unintentional or rapid weight loss. I kept coming back to IBS and PCOS and the 2 things that seemed to be a hit for more symptoms than not. I have struggled with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), that was attributed to gallstones. After I had my gallbladder removed, those symptoms went away pretty quickly. I was a little concerned about the PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) because many women that suffer from PCOS have problems losing weight. Still, I wasn't convinced this was in fact the issue. I couldn't figure out why all of a sudden, in my late 30's would this start to be a problem? The more I read and researched the more I considered that I likely was suffering from some sort of hormone imbalance. It just seemed to fit. Additionally, Epstein Barr Virus, which I have, can often lead to issues with hormone function. After a lot of reading and searching for answers, I FINALLY came across an article about birth control that really got me thinking.
FYI – this might be more information than you really want to know, but…
Almost 5 years ago, in 2011, I opted to get the Mirena IUD birth control. My youngest son was about 18 months old. It seemed like a good choice for a busy mom of 4, with no intention of having more kids. No hassle, low hormone, birth control. I was also looking for something to help with crazy mood swings and really heavy periods. For the first few years, it was FANTASTIC. This was about the same time I started my fitness journey, so I was feeling great, eating better, and exercising regularly. My periods were lighter and more regular. And, I was losing weight. I felt it was slow weight loss, but still moving in the right direction. Then about halfway through 2014, things started to slow down. It was around the same time I started doing the Piyo workout program (which I LOVED). I thought perhaps I just needed a little more cardio in my life. I kept working hard and focusing on my eating habits, but I stopped making progress. Then in December of 2014, I gained 10 pounds in 2 weeks. At the beginning of 2015, I started this blog. I'm not going to repeat all of my posts from last year (you can go back and read about my journey, if you want more detail), but I will tell you that my weight has been making steady progress in the wrong direction ever since. Then to add to the issues, over the past 9 months, my periods became irregular. I would get all the PMS symptoms each month, but only get a period every other month. I think by the time December roller around this year, I decided that I was done with the Mirena. I was going to have it removed at the end of my 5 years (coming up in May), and switch to something else. However, in mid January, I started really struggling with all of my above symptoms. After stumbling across this article, I really started taking a good look at the Mirena, and noticed that I had almost every symptom on the "uncommon" side effects list. That was it. I set up an appoint to have it removed. So that brings us to now. The Mirena is gone, and I am trying out some other birth control options. I am really leaning toward hormone free birth control because I want the control back over my body.
So that is why I haven't been posting much lately. It isn't that I didn't want to share my progress and my struggles. It is because I am going through a really difficult and personal time with my health journey, and I didn't quite know how to share it. I do want you to know that we all have struggles, and perhaps that sharing mine might help you to figure out what may be causing yours. If you have gone through something similar, I would love to hear your story :).