The Experiment So Far: Day Thirty-Three

This morning’s weigh-in: 326.6.
Total pounds lost: 4.6

Sooooo, my period never really showed up despite a few hints that it would, but all of the effects did for well over ten days, whee. Last Friday I finally said, ‘Fuck this noise, I’m using the progesterone cream again.”

Et voila, things settled down and the water weight started coming off. I was really hoping to be a lot lower by this point, but to be perfectly honest as long as my malfunctioning cystic ovaries are still spitting out hormones I’m going to run into these road blocks. It is what it is.

I’m continuing the eating plan — I can tell it works. And I’ll just have to allow that for 10-14 days every month my body will do its absolute best to fuck me over until my ovaries finally give up and shut down as God intended.

The annoying thing is, I’ve been swimming every other day, and I’m adding in treadmill time today (I need to get some leg strength back). You would think that would have a positive effect on water retention since doctors always tell you, “Moderate exercise helps your body release retained water and reduce bloating.” Maybe for other people, but not for me.

The Experiment So Far: Day Twenty-One

This morning’s weigh-in: 328.0.
Total pounds lost: 3.2

I had hoped that by now I would be 319.2 pounds. But I am not worried. Why? Because:

  1. I am perimenopausal, which means my period comes whenever it damn well feels like it, including five days after it was supposed to start. Any water I retained during the run-up? Still there.
  2. My period started (kinda) yesterday. This may be the lightest Shark Week in the history of menstruation.
  3. Despite the lightness of Aunt Flo, my fucking hormones are pulling their usual shit and I’m retaining between 3-5 pounds of water, possibly more, judging by how big and tight my abdomen is, how bloated my face and limbs are, and how badly my joints hurt. Which means:
  4. In reality I weigh either 325 or 323 pounds, depending on the amount of retained water. I’m happy to split the difference and call it 324.

The important thing is, I haven’t gone back up over 330. I’ve been swimming every other day, and sticking to the eating plan very easily (although I have to be careful not to go too low on calories on fats days. It’s ironic that for a fat woman I often forget to eat or don’t feel like it). Metabolic confusion is still working — it’s just being borked a bit by hormonal confusion. (I mean, why, ovaries? I’m not having kids, you KNOW I’m not having kids, so why not just shut down and give me a break?)

In other news I’ve cleaned off our patio and have been writing out there in the mornings while the temp is still reasonable, which has done wonders for my productivity. Just being able to go out somewhere has been wonderful.

The Experiment So Far: Day Fourteen

This morning’s weigh-in: 326.0.
Total pounds lost: 5.2

Expected, since yesterday was a fats day, but still gratifying. And if I’m carrying three pounds of water weight as I suspect, my real weight is 323, which is what I assumed it would be by this point. The water weight should come off once the period is over next week, please God, as things go back to normal.

That being said, this is the two week point of this experiment, and so far I’ve been able to keep it up quite easily with regular food, haven’t blown the food budget, haven’t been hungry, and it does seem to be working. What will be interesting to see is what happens by August 13, which will be the one month period. If the weight loss continues at its current rate, I should be somewhere around 315 by that time.

I’m almost hesitant to hope after so many failed diets and weight loss attempts. But if that happens, that means the weight lost is pretty much consistent, which means I’ll drop below 300 on or around September 9. At which point I will feel comfortable contacting my chosen orthopedic surgeon and saying, “Yup, let’s get this knee replaced.” And the nice thing about this eating plan is that I can stick to it easily while I’m healing up from the surgery (in fact, I plan on stocking the fridge with pre-cooked dinners so that Lyndon can just pull out what’s needed and reheat it).

My God, I may actually be walking normally by October. Wouldn’t that be nice?

The Experiment So Far: Day Thirteen

This morning’s weigh-in: 327.0.
Total pounds lost: 4.2

Huh. So yesterday was a carbs day, but it was also a moderate clusterfuck of a birthday so I didn’t indulge much past a medium chocolate milkshake from Braum’s (and that was mainly for the PMS that had hit like a bitch mid-afternoon). Usually I go up after a carbs day, but today I went down. Don’t ask me why, it’s a mystery.

I’m also retaining at least three pounds of water (I can tell when my tummy gets super squishy and my face bloats up), so I’m guessing the actual weight loss has continued under the water retention. The interesting thing will be this Friday, when I have to go in to have some labs done for my six-month checkup. Granted, I’ve only been on this eating plan for two weeks, but I’d like to see if there’s any difference in my vitals (my triglycerides in particular) between February and now.

The PA I talked to during my televisit today also wants to bump my BP meds up a touch as I’m just over the border where they’d like to see me. As I had to use the BP measurement they took when I visited the dentist back in May (we have one of those sleeve units, but they do not work well on large women with bingo wings), that might be off, I dunno. I’ve ordered a blood pressure cuff so that I can check it accurately on a daily basis — if I start acting like a perseverating chimp, we can back off on the BP med dosage.

Also, isn’t EVERYONE’S blood pressure high right now? I mean, we’re living in a hellscape, so…

The Experiment So Far: Day Eleven

This morning’s weigh-in: 329.2.
Total pounds lost: 2

Yup, I gained some weight. But that’s not surprising because my period is supposed to start tomorrow (whether or not it actually does is a complete gamble at this point as I’m perimenopausal and my last period was on 5/5/20) and I’m currently bloating like a sick camel. I’d actually gotten down to 326.4 on 7/25 (probably would have been 325.8 but I lost my bottle of Synthroid and had to go without it for a day and a half) so I know full well this is at least three pounds of water weight. I’m squishy, people.

Which is annoying, but I know it’ll come off in a week or so. I’m going to stick to the eating plan because it got me back into the twenties and would have gone even lower if the Synthroid loss/hormone storm hadn’t collided at the precise wrong time. My only real problem at the moment is that I haven’t been eating enough on either the carbs or fats days. I already know I start doing this subconsciously when I lose weight in order to speed up the process, even though it actually stalls me out. Yes, calorie cycling is a good idea along with macro cycling, but you still need to eat enough in order to make that work, and I simply haven’t.

So today I’m going to stodge out on guacamole, egg scrambles, tarragon chicken salad with additional spinach, garlic lemon cod cooked in butter with green beans, and slices of hard salami and smoked kielbasa as snacks, and go for a swim after dinner. My life, it’s so hard.

The Experiment So Far: Day Seven

This morning’s weigh-in: 326.8.
Total pounds lost: 4.4

So I’ve been following a metabolic confusion eating plan for seven days, now (MWFSu are fat days, TThSa are carb days). Still not having a problem with it, still eating plenty and not feeling hungry or anything, and according to the scale I’ve lost about four and a half pounds, which is actually pretty damned good for a week.

I’ll be honest, this sort of thing has failed so many times before that I’m kinda afraid to plan ahead or hope. I’m trying to just kinda glance at it out of the corner of my eye and focus on getting a couple of books out in the next few months. I think I’ll have a better handle on how it’s working by August 6th, which will be the end of week three and when I usually see any weight loss slowing down, stopping, or even reversing.

I feel good, though. A little more flexible, a little more mobile. Which is really all that matters in the end.

Currently on the writing desk

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I not only have three novels and one novella in progress at the moment (all of them for my Nicola M. Cameron SF/fantasy/paranormal romance line), I’m also editing my first full-length novel to be published under my own name, A Most Malicious Murder (aka Edgar Allan Poe and Lewis Carroll team up to solve a murder in 1851 Oxford).

Granted, MMM has been in progress for about ten years, ever since I saw Jeffrey Combs’s one-man play Nevermore, and finished for about eight of those years, but I’m finally at the point where all I need to do is give it a good whack or two with the editorial machete, have my regular editor check it to make sure I haven’t screwed up anything, and it’ll be ready for release.

I hope. We’ll see.

At right, BTW, is the draft cover. Once I get the text done and off to the editor, it’ll be time to buy all the requisite images and do the final version. Oh, this is gonna be fun

Trying something new

As you may know, Bob, the knee that I violently dislocated in college (snapped a chip off the underside of the patella, required surgery to relocate it) has finally deteriorated to the point where I need a knee replacement. Well, to be honest I needed one about two years ago, but we weren’t in a financial position to afford that.

We are now, thanks to my contract work, but of course COVID-19 has made going into a hospital something of a crap shoot and I’m willing to put it off until the curve flattens to my satisfaction here in the clavicle of Texas. While I am waiting, I have decided to see if I can reduce my weight to the point where 1) it makes surgery safer and 2) it takes pressure off my bad knee.

Now, I’m a heroically sized woman with two metabolic disorders, so I’ve tried every frigging diet there is over the years. The only ones that ever seemed to work were some form of carb restriction, but for me those are hard to maintain because 1) buying all that protein and good fat gets expensive and 2) you have to do a shitload of cooking. Also, the moment I went off them the weight came back on, so not a long term solution for me.

In parallel, one of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that my metabolism adjusts really quickly to any sort of change. Calorie reduction diets tended to work for about a week, and then I hit a plateau as my body clearly assumed I was in a famine situation and it had to hang onto every ounce of fat possible, so it slowed to a crawl. In the back of my mind I’d mused that I really should try mixing up eating programs in order to fool my metabolism and get past those plateaus. Hold that thought because we’re going to come back to it in a minute.

Last Thursday, I was idly doomscrolling through Twitter when I saw a promoted tweet by a trainer inviting me to find out what kind of body I had and what my unique metabolism needed in order for me to get fit. Normally I ignore those, but since I was in “let’s get knee surgery” mode I figured I would check it out. It led to a website that asked my sex, age range, height, activity level, and what my body shaping goals were. I entered everything honestly, and a video started that told me I was an endomorph.

Yeah, no shit, Sherlock, kinda aware of that. But the trainer went on to explain that endomorphs are metabolic marvels because — ta da — our metabolisms will adjust quickly to any sort of caloric restriction and slow down to a crawl in order to save our lives because clearly we’re living in a famine. Once regular caloric intake is resumed, it starts storing fat again to ward off the next famine. Okay, knew that already.

He then explained that what endomorphs needed to do in order to get fit is engage in metabolic confusion. Essentially, instead of restricting calories we need to talk our metabolisms into not shutting everything down by cycling calories and macronutrients — days that concentrate on good fats are followed by days that concentrate on complex carbs, and low calorie days are followed by normal calorie days.

*blink*blink* Oh. OH. Like mixing up those eating plans. Like the times I was surprised when I didn’t eat a lot one day, then ate a bunch the next day, and on day 3 I lost weight. You mean, I was supposed to be doing that all along?

Now, the science behind this is still a little murky, and proponents admit this. But from an evolutionary standpoint, metabolic confusion does make a certain kind of sense. We’re descended from primates that were never sure where their next meal was coming from, so lean days followed by feast days was just another week for them, and we still have those genes. (Man, do I have them.) Also, this may not work for everyone. If you can eat whatever you like and not gain weight, obviously this is not a good eating plan for you, and it’s probably not the best thing for athletes or bodybuilders. But for me, a 54-year-old writer whose exercise methods have been curtailed by COVID-19 and a crappy knee, and who regularly hits plateaus on other eating plans? Yeah, it might just work.

So I figured fuck it, it sounds reasonable (moreover, it sounds DOABLE), and I’d try it. I didn’t have anything in the house for a proper low-carb day so the next day, Friday, was a carbs day with a serving of carbs at every meal. I masked up and hit Kroger to get what I needed, and Saturday was a fats day, Sunday was a carb day, and Monday was a fats day — my schedule for the next four weeks would be M-W-F-Su as fats days and T-Th-Sa as carb days.

Now, mind you, even on carb days I’m not going crazy with carbs — I’m eating vegetables and lean protein, and drinking 64 ounces of water, and I’m doing my best to focus on complex carbs. Have I had some cookies or ice cream? Yes to both. But as the occasional treat, not as meals.

Today is Tuesday. Last Thursday I weighed 331.2. This morning I weighed 327.8. I haven’t done anything unusual, didn’t even really start working out (that starts this week), ate plenty, never felt hungry, and dropped 3.4 pounds. But that happens every time I start a new eating plan. The question is, will it actually continue this time?

I don’t know, but it’s not as if I have anything else to do right now, so what the hell, might as well experiment. The goal is to get under 300 pounds because that will be a point where a surgeon will be more willing to take me on as a knee replacement candidate (it also means I can climb ladders with some degree of safety). If I can go lower, great, but right now I’m just focusing on those 27.8 pounds. And if it looks like I’m plateauing, I’ll switch it up to fats on MTWTh and carbs FSaSu, or even do it one week fats and one week carbs, and continue to switch things back and forth as necessary.

Let’s see how this goes.

A great end to a terrific con

This weekend I attended the last ever ConDFW, one of the excellent literary SF conventions in the DFW area. I’ve been an attendee and panelist since it first started in 2001, and I’ve followed it through four hotel changes and some absolutely amazing GOHs. This year’s guests were Charlaine Harris, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing on Saturday, and Yoon Ha Lee, who was interviewed by my friend and fellow Future Classic Michelle Muenzler.

For me, the con went out on a Queen of the Night-worthy high note. I hit a new personal best of moderating nine panels over a weekend (seven in one day), the interview with Charlaine went incredibly well and the audience enjoyed it, and I made a tidy sum in the dealer’s room thanks to a generous donation of a table by Gloria Oliver. Even better, I came home energized and pumped on a number of fronts, both creative and promotional, and tomorrow I’m going to get stuck back into writing with a vengeance.

My thanks go out to Dan Robb and his amazing troupe of department heads, volunteers, and everyone who has made this con run like clockwork over the last eighteen years. Y’all have done yeoman work with ConDFW, and will now get your well-deserved break.

Huh. That’s interesting…

On Tuesday, I had a doctor’s appointment to remove a small epidermoid cyst on my upper back. No big deal, totally benign, it’s basically skin cells that become envaginated inside the epidermis and slowly grow until the cyst is removed.

While I was stretched out on the exam table as Dr. W did his job, I mentioned that my BP had been elevated when the nurse had taken it (she’d done it on my left arm and had gotten a reading of 180/100, which scared the crap out of her. When she tried my right arm, it was 160/88, which was better but still not good) and how I’ve been having an elevated BP all year and maybe it was time to discuss hypertension meds. He agreed, took my BP again after the removal procedure (it had dropped to 130/84, go figure) and said, “Yeah, considering your history and all, let’s put you on an ACE inhibitor. It’s effective, dirt cheap, and the only side effect most people report is a dry tickle in the throat.”

So off I go with my spandy new prescription for lisinopril, get it filled, and take the first dose. No side effects, but I did notice that there was a certain loosening in my chest, which felt good. I then went home and researched my new med, and found medical studies that recommended taking it at bedtime so that it would be most available during the night when the heart repairs and remodels itself. Makes perfect sense, and last night was the first one I took a dose at bedtime.

Then I found another study on ACE inhibitors from 2008, an Australian one with an absolutely fascinating result. It had been reported in a lot of the news agencies at the time, then promptly disappeared. I did some more digging and found follow-up studies from 2012 and 2013 that seemed to reinforce the conclusion from the 2008 study. I don’t want to wander off into tinfoil hat woowoo territory so I’m not going to go into detail about this, not yet. Not until I’ve had a chance to see how the conclusion of the study applies to me, if it does at all.

Although if it does, I may have to fly to Australia and give those researchers some big ol’ kisses because it would explain one hell of a lot about the hot mess that is my endocrine system. Stay tuned.