Monday, December 31, 2012

Now or Never

December 31st.  Always a favorite day of mine, especially since my birthday is January 1st.  Each year, I get to celebrate New Year's Eve and the first few hours of my birthday in the same night!  In the past, this has always been a time for me to go overboard with, drinks, dancing, and taking advantage of everything Chicago/Clearwater Beach/Vegas/Ft. Myers or wherever we decided to celebrate that year had to offer.

This year won't be much different from a partying aspect.  Josh and I are headed to Chicago to a concert to see Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.  There will be dancing, and drinking (although not as much as usual and only low calorie cocktails), and soaking in the craziness that is Chicago on New Year's Eve.  But it will be different from a health standpoint.  It has to be.  I made the commitment and I don't want to lose sight of my goal on Day 2, end of the year celebration or not.  Tonight will be Challenge #1.

My mom called today and asked what kind of birthday cake I wanted.  I told her thank you, but could she please just buy me a cupcake instead.  But, she said no.  She was buying cake because the rest of my family wanted to celebrate my birthday with cake, and if I didn't want to eat it, that was my choice.  Ugh.  Challenge #2.

Here's the thing.  I could have waited until after the holidays and my birthday to start this project, but that's part of my problem.  I'm always waiting for the "right" time to start being healthy.  I went on a diet and exercised like crazy before I flew to see Josh in Washington before he deployed to Iraq. I didn't see him for three months while he trained and I knew I wouldn't see him for a year, so that was my motivation.  I got healthy before my wedding because I found the dress of my dreams in a size 10.  Again, great motivation. I usually try a new exercise routine before summer starts, or after the holidays are over and I feel like I've gained 5 lbs, or when my clothes start to fit a little too tight, but it never lasts.  This time, it has to last.  I have to commit.  And tonight is as good a night as any to start.

Happy New Year 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Story

I turn 31 on January 1st, 2013.  That's two days from today.  I always thought that by the time I was 30, I would be married with at least two children.  By the grace of God, I managed the married part, but my dream of having a baby is currently at risk if I don't follow through on the one thing that has been a struggle for me since I was 18 years weight.  I know, I know, so cliche.  A close-to middle aged woman complaining about her weight.  How novel!  In my defense, I have sort of a unique situation. 

When I was 17 years old, I started noticing some strange symptoms.  Heart palpitations, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating on my schoolwork, impulsive decision making; none of which were typical for me with my middle-child, peace-keeping, perfectionist personality type.  After several doctors, specialists, and countless medical tests, my mother was told that my symptoms were psychosomatic (i.e. all in my head) and that what I needed was a psychiatrist, not a physician. 

Flash forward to my junior year of college.  My symptoms were more intense.  I moved in with a boy I met on the internet, succeeded in alienating my best friends who I had known for years and most of my family by acting like a total bitch 90% of the time, and lost my job at the college library because I decided making out with  my boyfriend was far more important than keeping my commitments with the work-study program.  I would sit in class and not hear a word my professors said.  My hair was falling out, my eyes were bulging out of my head, I lost 10 lbs in a week without even trying, and I was having panic attacks on a daily basis.  Finally, a doctor decided to test my thyroid levels during a routine checkup, and lo and behold, my levels were off the charts. 

I was diagnosed with Graves' Disease a week later at 21 years old.  Graves' is an autoimmune disorder that causes the thyroid gland to attack the body.  If left untreated for long enough, it can lead to heart problems and even death.  In June of 2005, I ingested radioactive iodine to destroy my thyroid gland and have been taking a high dose of a synthetic thyroid hormone ever since.  As much as I try not to use Graves' as an excuse for my inability to lose weight, it does play a role.  I can't do activities that raise my heart rate too much because of the damage already caused to my heart from the disease going untreated for so many years.  It's hard for me to wake up in the morning when I haven't had my meds yet so early morning workout opportunities are shot.  Depression starts to creep in every time my levels are low and then I don't feel like doing much of anything, especially exercising. 

I have tried yoga, pilates, zumba, tae-bo, walking, running, aerobics, countless workout dvds, and cardio kickboxing.  I even had a personal trainer who I met with 3 days a week for 6 months when I was 25.  While I lost some inches, my trainer was shocked to find that, at the end of the 6 months, I had not lost one single pound.  My doctor still hasn't quite figured that one out either.

I know you might be thinking, maybe it's my diet, right?  I have a very simple diet.  A typical week of meals consists of oatmeal or low fat yogurt with granola for breakfast, salad with lean protein or a vegetable wrap for lunch, and lean meat, brown rice, and vegetables for dinner.  I snack on almonds, fruit, and vegetables. Occasionally, I'll have ice cream or dark chocolate for a treat.  I enjoy a glass of wine now and then. I don't drink soda and I stay away from sugar as much as possible.  I have my cheat days, of course, but overall my diet is very healthy.  I don't eat cheese, red meat, or eggs, and I don't drink milk, yet I have high cholesterol.  I am 5'4" and currently weigh between 160 and 165lbs depending on the week.  I know some of you will read that and think, "That's not fat!" or "I weigh over 200 lbs! What is she complaining about!?" 

Here's the thing: I have to be as healthy as possible to get pregnant.  For a woman with Graves' Disease, it is difficult enough to conceive without any additional complications.  Before I got married, I had to have blood work done every six months to check my thyroid levels, and if the levels were off, my medication was adjusted.  Now that I am trying to conceive, I have to have blood work done every month, since if my levels are off, it is almost impossible for conception to occur.  My doctor recently told me that my weight may also hinder my chances.  According to the BMI (Body Mass Index), I fall into the 25 - 29.9 category.  Overweight.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website says of people in that category, "try to avoid gaining additional weight. Additionally, if you are overweight with other risk factors (such as high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high blood pressure), you should try to lose weight."  A healthy weight for me would be between 108 and 145.  I am not doing this to be a size 2 or weigh 100 lbs.  I just want to be healthy so I have a better chance at being a mom.