Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My test results are in ...

I got a call yesterday from my doctor's office saying the test results were in. My thyroid and insulin was perfectly fine, but my iron was low, and the doctor wanted to see me to discuss. I saw her this morning and first she said it was all good news. My thyroid, insulin, liver, even cholesterol were perfect, in fact everything was way better than before I started this weight loss journey.

So I said what about my iron levels? I have hemochromatosis, which is an iron overload disease. The treatment is phlebotomy. They drew blood weekly at first until my iron levels got where they should be, then I was just told to become a regular three-monthly blood donor to keep it in check. So I was quite surprised to find my iron was now low. Since they told me that yesterday I'd Googled all the hemochromatosis sites and finding possibilities like liver cancer, internal bleeding or infection.

She asked a few questions to find out whether I was losing blood somewhere and then suggested a stool test to check for bleeding there. I then asked if I should adjust the frequency of my blood donations. "Oh, you're a donor," she said, "that's where you're losing blood!" To be fair, she's not the specialist that prescribed the donation schedule, but I'm sure it's there in my records and it's the standard treatment for hemochromatosis, so I was surprised it hadn't occurred to her. So she said to cancel my next donation appointment and not have any more at this time. In about six months we'll test my iron levels again and see if that made the difference. It might mean I have to go less frequently from here on.

So this is all wonderful news, I'm healthy - all the test results were great. So she said "I know you were looking for an answer, a reason why you're not losing weight." Yep. Well basically she said having ruled out everything else she was confident it's the same problem most women my age have where they have trouble losing weight or even gain weight in their fifties due to pending menopause. Yippie. Not what I wanted to hear. I reminded her she'd said if that was the case there were things we could do ... what did she suggest? Well, she said she had been thinking Metformin might help, but since my insulin was perfectly fine, she didn't think it would do anything.

Obviously I was glad to be healthy, but disappointed not to have an answer to get the weight moving again. She said that she knew I wanted to weigh less, but the important thing to remember is these test results indicated I was the picture of perfect health compared to where I was in August 2013. I was pre-diabetic then. That's no longer an issue. My goal was never to get skinny, I wanted to get healthy - and I'd done that. She recommended I keep doing what I'm doing and be happy where I am. Great. Same thing my hubby says.

But I still feel I'm struggling not just to lose weight these days but to stop gaining any more back. I'm not sure what to try next. I said I knew some women my age have to drop their carbs extremely low to get the weight moving again but she said she didn't want me to do that. She thinks I should have the occasional healthy carbs like sweet potatoes and swedes (rutabagas) and not worry too much about it at this stage.  I don't know. I hate the idea of constantly feeling like I'm on a diet, and having to switch things up all the time trying to find the one thing that will work. It's probably wreaking havoc on my metabolism. But I also don't like the thought of staying where I am, or heaven forbid, regaining. I guess I'll have to put some thought into the game plan moving forward.

Anyway, that's it, I just wanted to check in. I'm healthy as a horse apparently.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Doctor's appointment went well

Yesterday I finally made an appointment with my regular doctor, and she actually had an opening today -- so I saw her this morning, and it went better than I'd expected! We talked about my weight loss and how I'd gotten down to 72 kilos at the end of July, just 4 kilos from goal -- and then a trip overseas brought about 6 kilos back again and I've struggled since then. I told her all the things I've been trying to get it moving again, including a return to Phase 1, intermittent fasting, LCHF, and other techniques. I said I'd been doing my own online research and in a list of 12 thyroid symptoms I had 8 of them, though some of those are also common to PCOS, so it could just be that.

I don't know what I was expecting -- I guess in the past doctors have always made me feel like I wasn't doing something right, I wasn't trying hard enough. She didn't do that -- I actually felt very positive leaving her office today. She could see how far I've come and obviously I don't need diet and exercise advice. She said the problem could very well be due to hormonal changes, even if I don't go through menopause until 55 like my mother did. What really made me feel better is she said if that is the problem, there are things we can do about it. But first, she does want to check my thyroid. Yay!

Then of course because I only come in when I have a concern rather than for regular check-ups, she checked my file again and said the mammogram can wait, but I was overdue for a pap test, and she wants to check my liver and iron (I have hemochromatosis) -- oh and she wants to do a Glucose Tolerance Test. Yuck! I had one before I started Dr Poon and that's when I learned I was pre-diabetic. The last time we discussed it she didn't care to do one because if I was still pre-diabetic her recommendations would be to change my diet which I'd already done. But maybe she wants to rule it out as contributing to my current problem.  So we got the pap out of the way there and then -- and tomorrow morning I go to pathology for all the other tests (I'm fasting from 9pm tonight).

As much as I am NOT looking forward to drinking that nasty glucose syrup drink, it will be good to at least have some answers. And I'm rather anxious to hear what she feels we can do about it if the problem is hormonal.

Lastly, we discussed the progesterone cream I've been using. I told her I believed I was estrogen dominant, and started using this hoping that it might help. While it has got my cycle back to every 28 days instead of three weeks, I haven't noticed any other benefits -- certainly not weight loss.  She didn't feel there was any point in continuing with the cream, and felt I should just let my body do its own thing as I approach menopause. She said it's common for your period to come more frequently in the last years, and that there are actually health benefits to being estrogen dominant, so I shouldn't worry about that. That surprised me, as it's not what my research has shown. Truthfully, if it had been helping with weight loss, I would stick it out anyway, but as it's not I'll finish the cycle I'm in now (the jar is nearly empty) and won't be buying any more. When I do eventually go through menopause, I can always start it again if I'm experiencing any bothersome symptoms.

Anyway, that's the scoop -- I'll let you know how I go tomorrow. By the way, she thought 68 kilos is a good goal weight for me. At my age, and given that I've spent most of my life morbidly obese -- I'll be thrilled with 68 kilos.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

How do I get off this roller coaster?

I'm doing everything I know how to do to lose weight, yet I just keep going down then up again. Everything that used to work no longer does. Or it works briefly then stops. On January 16th I had that big drop after a week of returning to Phase 1 eating again. Since then it's been a roller coaster ride. Seriously, here are the ups and downs.

16 Jan - 84.1 kg - 185.41 lb.
23 Jan - 85.3 kg - 188.05 lb.*
30 Jan - 86.7 kg - 191.14 lb.
06 Feb - 86.3 kg - 190.26 lb.
13 Feb - 84.7 kg - 186.73 lb
20 Feb - 87.6 kg - 193.12 lb.*
27 Feb - 86.3 kg - 190.26 lb.

I kept doing Phase 1 for those first few weeks. The star means I had my cycle that week. I should have dropped weight after that, yet the end of January and start of February I weighed more. So I returned to intermittent fasting. Slight drop 13th Feb, but of course another star week followed.

So this past week I changed it up again. Instead of going entire days fasting, which just wasn't working, I decided to fast 23 hours each day, eating just one meal at dinner time within a one hour eating window. I've done this for over a week now, and combined it with a fair bit of exercise. Besides walking about an hour each day, I've done heaps of work around the house. Things like raking, shovelling and hauling a gazillion wheelbarrows full of rocks from what used to be an above-ground pool area in the back yard, and tearing down an old shed by hand this weekend. My body is definitely feeling all the extra exercise lately, trust me, and there is a lot more to come. Did any of this help me lose weight?

Well, the first few days I lost some. Then I stayed the same for a few days, then back up today almost where I started. I am beyond frustrated. My husband tells me to just be happy where I am and just eat healthy and not worry about it so much, but if I am fighting this hard to lose weight and I stop fighting, I will regain even more! I know I will. Trust me, I would LOVE to give up the fight. But I'm not going to. So what to do next?

Well I still haven't found a chance to make that doctor's appointment, between all the extra work to be done around the house and being busy as hell at work. I haven't had a chance to call my doctor, but I will find the time. I'm thinking the progesterone cream isn't helping as I'd hoped though. So I'll try something else. What else can I do? I'm going to try heaps smaller portions. Literally cut my dinner portions in half, have just an Atkins shake for breakfast, and a small can of tuna or the other half of my dinner for lunch. I just don't know what else to do at this point. I feel like I've got nothing worth blogging about anymore, yet here I am. I guess I'm not ready to give up on that yet either.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hubby's results so far ...

I stayed about the same for a couple of weeks after my big drop, but went up a little bit this week which stands to reason given my cycle is due next week. I'm thinking it makes sense to just do a weigh in monthly now, after the event to avoid having to focus on those monthly fluctuations that are so frustrating. For now, let's get to hubby's results!

He's been avoiding sugar and carbs for two weeks now. The only sugar he's had is a little in his morning coffee. He eats his evening meals with me. He's not one to eat breakfast. He used to have sandwiches for lunch or ready-made meals at the store for convenience. Now he's buying chicken or tuna or deli meats, and instead of bread he's mostly putting it on a bed of salad with tomatoes, cheese and Dijonnaise. He has had lower-carb wraps a few times, but other than that he's had no bread or pasta of any kind. Instead of ice cream and other sugary desserts, he's been having sugar-free Greek yogurt.

It's funny, at the stores he's looking at labels now -- not just the carb count itself, but the ingredient list -- and if he sees sugar in the first few ingredients he gives it a miss. I'm so proud of him! He says he's actually enjoying what he's eating and doesn't miss anything, but has had an occasional beer. He's 6'1" and started at 99.5 kg (219.36 pounds). In two weeks he's dropped 2.9 kilos (6.39 pounds), and he's thrilled with that amount. I'm happy too, just to know he's eating healthier. Since he enjoys what he's eating so much, he sees no reason not to continue.  Hooray!

The meals we've been enjoying include:

I've been eating very minimally for breakfast and lunch. Just an Atkins shake for breakfast, and for lunch usually a small (95g/3.35 oz) can of tuna in zesty vinaigrette flavour, with a stick of tasty cheese. Dessert at night has been a small yogurt or Atkins bar. The yogurt is something I've only recently added because I found a great brand here that is not only fat free but sugar free as well -- they are Nestle Soleil and they have only about 6 carbs per serve!  It's so nice to have yogurt again!

Well that's it for now, I'll check back soon.  Hope you all have a lovely Valentine's Day! :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Dr Appointment that wasn't ...

I was so looking forward to today. Finally getting in to see the doctor and have the thyroid tests to find out whether there are issues that might be affecting my weight loss efforts. The appointment was supposed to be the 29th January, but they called and pushed it back to 3rd February. They did warn me ahead of time I would have to pay $250 up front, but I could get $100 back from Medicare. In fact in both calls, they reminded me of this.

I got there and it wasn't particularly easy to find a park, so I had to walk a ways. Waited in line for a while, and when I got to the front told them who I was there to see. They took all my personal details, scanned my Medicare card, and said they needed the $250 now. Up front? OK fine, and there won't be any additional costs for the tests? 'Oh no this is just the first time consultation fee for the doctor, everything else will be bulk billed.' OK, wow. American Express or Visa?  'Um ... cash.'  Cash? You don't take credit cards? 'We don't have a facility for that.' Gee, you might have told me that on the phone, I could have been prepared! 'Well there are ATMs across the road.' I said look, I don't have that much in my account right now to make a withdrawal, and I'm certainly not taking a cash advance on my credit card as that will incur fees. 'Well I'll see what I can do,' she says, and then I can hear her and another woman talking in a small room to the side.

'No, we can't give a receipt from that account, so she wouldn't be able to claim any back from Medicare. Well no it's a different account, the cash goes straight to the doctor, if the clinic accepted some other form of payment I wouldn't be able to give her a receipt that Medicare would accept.' This went on for a minute or two and I walked past and said you know what, thanks but I'll find another doctor. You really might want to let people know up-front that they're expected to pay in cash! I left really pissed off, as I'd taken time off from work and turned up, given them all my details and let them swipe my Medicare card, then had to leave. I wonder if they'll still bulk bill Medicare for this as if there had been an appointment? Since they did swipe my card, hubby thinks I should call Medicare and let them know there was no appointment.

I guess I can go back to my regular doctor and see if she'll do the tests, but I'm just really frustrated by this! What a waste of my time. Wish I had something to report, but I'm just not a happy camper right now.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hubby wants to eat what I eat!

How cool is that? We watched That Sugar Film last night and while we've watched lots of similar documentaries lately, I think the message finally reached him. He has gained a little weight over the last few years, mostly in the abdominal region, and he'd really like to lose it. Watching how sugar affected an average Aussie bloke who started consuming it in amounts that the average person consumes (amazingly that's 40 tsp per day) after not having eaten it for years -- well it was enough to make him think. This guy didn't eat sugary junk food, either -- just normal, supposedly healthy foods from the grocery store that we often don't even realise have sugar in them. He even traveled to the US at one point and found it was much easier to hit the 40 tsp per day there. If you're an Aussie and you have Presto, you can watch the film there, and I think the website offers other ways to view it, too.

So after the film my hubby asked me if he could eat what I eat next week. What? Sure! I would love that! Not having to work around each other in the kitchen making different meals would be great, and I'd love to see him eating healthier anyway. He's a big bread eater, so I warned that is likely what he'll miss most, but he's going to give it a go. Hopefully he likes it as it sure will make meal planning easier week to week. For the first week I'll be sure to plan things I'm fairly confident he'll like. Some things he has already had with me, he's just added bread or potatoes to his portion so he won't be doing that this time. I told him he doesn't need to worry about following Dr Poon guidelines to the letter, just eliminating grains and sugar will be enough to see a difference I reckon. It's generally easier for men to lose weight, so we'll see how he goes.

After my huge drop, the next week I went up a bit, and then last week my cycle came around again -- I counted the days and was surprised to find it had been exactly a 28 day cycle, starting again on day 29. That is incredible. Could the cream be regulating me that perfectly? I don't know but again I'll discuss with the doctor soon. I was supposed to see him for the thyroid tests on the 29th but they called me a few days before that saying they had to reschedule, so now I go on the 3rd February. I am very much looking forward to this visit, and I hope I like him as he's accepting new patients. I've not been very happy with the doctor I have now, and this guy is easier to get to with better parking as well.  Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes -- wish me luck!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

8 lb drop in 1 week? It's Week #1 again!

I'm back and doing well -- I'll talk about my 8 pound drop this week in just a minute, for those of you still interested. First, let me apologise for not writing more, but the fact is I didn't know what to say. Hi, I'm still struggling and had a holiday regain? Who wants to read that?! Well I have lost a few subscribers anyway. People follow and unfollow for any number of reasons, but I can certainly understand only wanting to follow bloggers that inspire you. Struggling for a long time to break a stall may not be very inspiring reading, but it certainly is real. Most people who lose a large amount of weight don't sail effortlessly to goal. I wish it were true, but it's not. It reminds me of that drawing about what people think success looks like vs. what it actually looks like.

Struggling to break through stalls and reach goals is very common and very real. I did promise to share the good and the bad on this journey, so I'll try to remember that even when the going gets tough. Stalls suck, but I'm proud to say I have not given up, so maybe that's inspiring in and of itself.

In any case, when I last posted it was just before Christmas and I had every intention of staying the course through the holiday break. I was not successful. We had family up and every time I turned around it was an eating fest, whether at someone's home or out at a restaurant. I gave in on more than one occasion and quickly found myself regaining. I haven't posted weights lately, so here goes. On 19th December I was 80.7 kg (177.9 lb). by 2nd January I was 85.9 kg (189.38 lb). The family all went back home shortly after that and I was determined to start over. This time I thought I would try strict LCHF. I've dabbled with it and tried a few recipes, but never followed it strictly before, so I did for a whole week, using delicious recipes from It was not easy eating that much fat and it was very high calorie, but I stuck it out for a week. On 9th January I was 87.7 kg (193.35 lb). What the hell ... I gained?!

Some people may do well on LCHF, but I didn't like it and was not about to continue! What to do? Going back to Dr Poon Phase 1 hadn't worked the last few times I tried it. But I had to do something, so I started again last Sunday (10th Jan). The next day I was down 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). Then another kilo (2.2 lb) the next day. I stayed steady the next day, then went up 100g (.22 lb), then saw another drop. Yesterday I was 84 kg exactly (185.19 lb), that's a loss of 3.7 kg (8.16 lb) in just 5 days. I haven't seen a drop that big since my very first week of Pooning!  In fact, that's exactly what I lost in my very first week! Today I'm up 100g (.22 lb) but that doesn't worry me, I'm still down 8 pounds! Now lest you think it was all water weight, my scale says it was over half fat.

So why did it work this week? What's changed? The only thing I can think of is I've started my 2nd month of progesterone cream. If the hormonal change of nearing menopause was causing my weight struggles (as it does for so many women my age) then maybe progesterone cream is making a difference. My cycle sure is behaving the way it used to a couple of years ago. No more of this every three week crap, it's more like 37 days now. I don't know whether it's the progesterone cream or not, but I plan to keep using it. And I'll ask the doctor about it.

Yes, I did schedule an appointment to have my thyroid checked. I scheduled it before I saw this week's drop, and part of me wonders if I should cancel (it's rather expensive!) but I don't want to assume one very good week means I'm back on track. And the thyroid could still be a factor. I have quite a few of the symptoms listed in the article Jan kindly shared with me, and while some of them could apply to PCOS as well, I'd like to be sure. The nurse told me the doctor would charge me $250 (I'd get $150 reimbursed from Medicare) but I didn't think to ask whether there would be any other charges (e.g. for pathology). I think it's important get tested though, so I think I should keep the appointment.

Anyway, thank you to those of you who are still with me, I appreciate it very much. I will be in touch more frequently, I promise. I'll leave you with another great success graphic, and I hope it helps you as much as it does me.

I'll be sure to let you know how the thyroid tests go. Hope your new year is off to a great start! :)