Slow moving waters

Slow moving waters, while still moving, gently lift very light sediment and carry it long distances, depositing the sediment when the movement no longer has the force to support the mass of the sediment.

But slow moving is still moving…

The past few weeks have been hard for me. What felt like a complete stop in weight loss was dragging me down and causing me to question so many things. I kept having to refocus my mind on the positives—that I have in fact lost weight and that the slope of the line is still negative. But my focus was almost only on the scale and I was failing to see a bigger picture. After failing to refocus onto the correct positive, I finally had an epiphany—muscle weighs more than fat, and I have definitely been getting stronger!

Over the past two months I have been walking more and more with my husband. Our walking pace has significantly improved. My breathing function has gotten better as we walk faster and talk more. But I wasn’t considering that when I would turn to the scale in the morning and every positive win would be stricken from my mental record as I berated myself for failing to lose more weight.

Going forward it’s time to look at different metrics for my success. Am I feeling better while working out? How are my measurements doing, are they getting smaller? How is my sleep? How am I feeling feeling overall mentally?

For me to forget the power slow moving waters can have is rather amusing. Learning so much about the tons of sediment that can be held in slow moving waters years ago should have come to my brain earlier as a reminder not to underestimate the power of consistent, even if slow, movement.

For now I can celebrate 24.1 lbs lost and feeling much better while working out. Going forward will try to remember what the real goals are and it’s about losing weight and getting healthier!

Gold or Fool’s Gold

Life loves to play games with us… a precious metal or a worthless rock? Low fat and full of sugar or high fat and no sugar? When searching for that life changing “gold mine” there are so many things that can tempt us but be all wrong.

I have been teetering between the same 2 pounds now—my scale seemingly refuses to go down into the next lower tens place. Every morning I take off my clothes and weigh myself right after waking up. I see the digital numbers start to go up and then they tease me for a few brief moments, making me think the scale is going to show a lower number… then the hammer drops and I’m disappointed again that it hasn’t dropped. The mind games are ridiculous.

Why did gold become the desired metal and not pyrite? I guess it’s all about how gold melts easier and can be formed into beautiful jewelry. Pyrite… such a difficult specimen to use for much of anything really.

We, as Americans, spend so much time and energy manipulating things into something different. Gold, our bodies, the Earth—we have to change things to meet our will all the time. I think that is how the whole weight issue started. Something lightly sweetened with honey excited and captivated our minds like the bling of gold that we started searching for the next best honey—and the irony of the gold colors of both gold and honey is not lost on me at this moment. As our brains felt this immediate excitement and joy at experiencing the sweet taste of honey, we suddenly caved to the power of sugar and demanded more, we searched for more, we moved whole bee colonies to produce more, and we fought for control of more.

Now, I fight for something different. Doing Keto doesn’t give my brain that high feeling like when I had sugar, but doing Keto has made me feel like I’m back in control of something again. My brain is no longer controlled by the drive for more sugar. I don’t feel hungry like I used to feel—which was All. The. Bloody. Time. Instead, I finally feel like food is what it should be, energy to sustain the life I live and not something to control the life I live.

Since last writing I’ve lost a total of 21.2 pounds. Sometimes I become disillusioned at how slow the rate of weight loss has become, but when I choose to change my thought process I realize that I am still losing. I have years of bad habits that I have to overcome and correct. My body has to change its fuel source and learn a different process to access energy quickly. But, it is working, even if it is so much slower than I want, Keto is doing what my body needs.

Motion

Let me be perfectly clear—earthquakes scare the living shit out of me. They are such a fascinating phenomenon— the sudden, explosive movement of millions of tons of rock and soil. The pure force behind the movement seems unprecedented—packing more energy than our ‘other’ biggest fears, aka nuclear bombs, but earthquakes in Ohio are rare in any case, even though I have felt one. My fear resides more in the irrational knowledge of earthquakes from my undergrad where they loved to ‘wow’ us with the most extreme examples of earthquakes’ destruction, and that I also will be required to regularly travel to a region with regular earthquakes for work.

But this post is really about the force it takes to set something into motion, which today was my body. Wow… it has been a long time since I’ve done a workout. The winter evenings starting so early make it difficult to go out and walk since my husband doesn’t want me walking in the dark. I just haven’t gone in weeks. To take a quote from one of my daughter’s shows, “the cold never bothered me anyway.” If anything, I enjoy walking in the cold as long as my ears and fingers are covered well. I just haven’t planned for workouts and made them fit into my schedule. I could find the time, but moving my mental barriers has seemed impossible. For many reasons I didn’t introduce workouts until today.

The preparation to get moving today was minimal. After dinner I was bored, it was early, and I needed to fill the time with something other than cleaning. We recently bought the new Apple Series 6 watches to track our movement and so that we won’t have to take our phones with us while walking… whenever we start walking again since our side walks are covered in ice. But Apple also offers a free trial to their new fitness programs if you have the watch. Searching the TV for something to watch, I figured I’d see what some of the fitness videos were about to fill time.

I chose a dance workout for 20 minutes and just stood up and moved. While I expended about 200 calories in that short time, it was less difficult to move than I realized. I’ve imagined my first workouts at this weight requiring the strength to move heaven and earth—a nearly impossible feat. I’ve mentally held myself back from moving assuming it would be too much for my heart or blood pressure. All these bloody excuses after excuses.

Instead, tonight, as my daughter started dancing with me and as she watched my exercise ring close in that cute Apple celebration with fireworks, we both laughed and had fun together. I couldn’t do anywhere near all the movement the lady on the screen was doing, but the new motion felt good. My daughter also loved listening to the music, especially P!nk’s “Let’s get this Party Started” and she was going up to her room to find it on her iPhone after we finished to listen to it more. After just 21 minutes I had burned some calories, moved my body, and had a lot of fun.

I’m looking forward to more motion in the coming weeks. I’m interested in how that will play in to the weight loss and my overall feelings. This morning I woke up very bloated and my weight was up 2lbs… in the era of carbs that happened regularly but not in the era of low carbs. My blood sugar was high but my ketones were okay. Looking forward to more changes, day by day…

Step by step…

Ooh, baby

Gonna get to you, girl…

(And I’m still laughing! LOL)

Bernoulli’s principle

It shocked some people I know that we studied Bernoulli’s principle in my geology program. Working for the United States Air Force now, my colleagues only think about Bernoulli’s principle in regards to the lift equation associated with flight. But for geologists, they (because it doesn’t feel right to say “we” without ever using the degree) use geology as a part of fluid dynamics which covers liquids and gases. In college we would look at rocks and estimate the amount of water or wind flowing through an area and the speed by the size of the particulates deposited… well, maybe it is more correct to say we determined the amount of water by calculating the velocity required to move particulates of that size through a defined space. But you get the drift.

Things have been a little weird the past week. My blood sugar has been up and ketones down still… My husband’s have been consistently higher with the same food consumption… but not the same water intake.

It’s funny really, the affects of water on our bodies, on the world, are nearly infinite yet it feels like that’s one of the things we take for granted. Clean water availability. When I have something going in with my body the questions I get from family, my doctors, online, is whether I need “more water”… from being too tired in the middle of the day, “drink more water”… to my high blood pressure, “drink more water to flush out the salt”… to my blood sugar being higher, “how much water are you drinking?”

Across the board, water is proving to be the key for success here. Whether it is controlling hunger, keeping everything flowing through the body well, keeping my focus… so much goes back to whether I’ve had the right amount of water.

So I’m back to tracking my water consumption to make sure I give my body the right chance to lose weight. In the meantime, I’m down 15 pounds total and ready to start working out to see what happens with my body!

And let’s not forget… We won’t just need clean water today, but for always. Let’s make some changes to make sure we always have clean water available when we need it.

Lunar cycles

The summer after my sophomore year in high school I was selected by the National Science Foundation to attend the Exploration of Careers in Science Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. It was a life changing experience for me. To find friends who were nerds like me, who loved learning and being in a learning environment, it was almost magical. I didn’t want to come home, even though I missed my family, because for the first time I found friends with similar interests like me. Learning to embody the scientific method that summer became a key characteristic of how I operate. That summer I truly started to find “me”.

It was during this time that I was first exposed to geological sciences, studying a Sedimentology phenomenon known as “tidal rhythmites,” wherein the thickness of the lamina layers of the sedimentary rocks we were studying could be graphed into what was obviously cycles of the moon… measuring and graphing these tiny layers through petrographic microscopes would show years and decades of tidal cycles in an ocean basin. It was incredible!

Studying those layers so closely, we could see what we believed were large storms depositing significant sediment in a short time. We could hypothesize about major changes over time in the tidal basin relating to the development of mountains (known as an orogeny) and see where the progression and regression of the basin was happening between different core samples of the same era. To make the correlation between tidal cycles and lamina layers took so much data to prove our hypotheses and disprove old hypotheses that the laminar layers were yearly events like a trees rings or thousands of years. We needed so much data to analyze.

I’ve been collecting data just as closely about my weight, blood glucose levels and ketones, and I’ve finally hit my first full lunar cycle… or at least that’s what I call it. LOL. This week was my first menstrual cycle since collecting data and it was very frustrating. Not only were my hormones doing their normal thing, but I was also diagnosed with shingles last Monday and my doctor immediately put me on anti-virals.

Among all of these things happening in my body my glucose levels shot up and my ketones dropped. I started to research more about what was going on and learned that many women’s blood glucose can elevate during their cycles. The stress of the shingles (stress because it hurts like no other!!!) may also have increased my blood sugar. I checked to see if the anti-viral prescription could be increasing my blood sugar and that doesn’t appear to be so. So somewhere among all of the chaos of this week things went awry and it left me feeling defeated at points.

Why do I believe things went awry? Because my husbands ketones stayed right where they were and mine dropped. Our food consumption stayed the same, no real differences to what each of us were doing. My weight also fluctuated up two – three pounds keeping my total weight loss at 10 lbs.

So what is the point of all of this? Just like when I was researching the tidal rhythmites, I need much more than one lunar cycle worth of data to really understand what is happening with my body and to try to even suggest a correlation. While there is plenty of data that women’s menstrual cycle can elevate blood glucose, we don’t know enough yet about my data points. One single menstrual cycle isn’t enough data for me to justifiably make significant changes to my life, but it is a point to look at, track and prepare for. If I am like many other women whose hormones affect their blood sugar, then I’m just normal and need to know this will be part of my journey. I can accept it and passively watch it, or actively try to mitigate it by working out (or eventually working out more) during that week. But to understand what is right for me will take much, much more time. I can’t expect a perfect solution to my life-long weight issues in just one month.

So just as I did that summer, I will need to look at more data over much more time to make any real conclusions. But today I will just keep pressing forward with what I’ve learned so far on this journey. And I’ll take joy in the fact that this morning’s meal planning only took 10 minutes for the whole week. Things are getting easier… and that feels good. Now to keep pressing.

[And yes, these shingles still hurt, but they are better!]

Mistakes aren’t always bad

When I was younger I cleaned a pair of pearl earrings by soaking them in hydrogen peroxide. My mom had always used hydrogen peroxide to clean my ear piercings to keep them healthy so I thought it would work well.

That was an irreversible mistake—pearls will effectively dissolve in hydrogen peroxide. I had destroyed my first, and to date only, pair of pearl earrings. A lesson that was so hard to learn.

This week has been full of reversible mistakes—ones that I can learn from to change my behavior in the future and reap positive benefits. Ones that by learning from and adapting to now, will help me be more successful in the future.

But the earrings… they are forever gone and I still feel the sadness of my mistake 20+ years later. They were a gift to me from my now deceased Grandmother… but if she is reading this from her afterlife home, I hope she is proud of what I’ve learned this week.

Specifically, that I’m not doing my best when I intermittent fast and have only a soups for our meals. They do not sustain me as much as I need even if I have two bowls. Instead, I need to have one bowl and a large filling salad with it and maybe a keto biscuit or very low carb bread. Instead what I have experienced this week is by 2300 hours I’m hungry. I’ve had water after water, and I’m still hungry. It’s actual hunger. Ugh.

The past couple nights I tried to make a smart decision for a snack but it wasn’t smart enough. I had too many almond crackers and a no-carb cheese ball that was still just too high in net carbs. This morning I woke up with my ketones only .1 and blood sugar at 96. What I take this to mean is I had too many carbs that my body burnt and my body didn’t need the ketones for energy so it stopped burning fat. Damn.

What I take from all of this is a lesson for my meal planning in the future and what I do for my leftover soup I have today.

Ultimately, this is a long journey ahead and I will make more mistakes. Each one I need to make sure I root-cause to determine what the specific mistake was and then determine what best behavior changes will set me up for better success. This is about lifelong change for me… reversible mistakes can be good.

As of this morning my weight was up two pounds from earlier this week, but I still have lost over 11 pounds since Dec 16th—and even after a mistake, that is totally something for me to CELEBRATE!

Pressure Solution

Wikipedia defines Pressure Solution… In structural geology and diagenesis, pressure solution or pressure dissolution is a deformation mechanism that involves the dissolution of minerals at grain-to-grain contacts into an aqueous pore fluid in areas of relatively high stress and either deposition in regions of relatively low stress within the same rock…

Pressure solution… or Pressure dissolution. It’s ironic that 20 years after graduating from my utterly-unused Bachelors in Geological Sciences I’m coming back to geology terminology to describe my life, but that is where I am and it fits me.

The pressure of my complete failures to live healthier and do better with my life face me each time I look at my husband and children, and I cry worrying that I’ve disappointed my best friend Heather after losing her to colorectal cancer just three months ago. The pressure on me has increased to the point where change is only a matter of physics—either the pressure degrades my body into an unhealthy and likely to die young mess, or I choose to change the solution in which I live and find myself living a better life.

I’ve chosen to change the solution.

Not only have I found new life in meal planning, I’ve given up alcohol. I don’t know if going alcohol free is a permanent thing, it probably isn’t. But I’ve looked myself in the mirror and decided that the fastest and smartest way to find a better life just can’t include alcohol. For me this is a major part of changing the solution so that I can make healthier deposits in my lower pressure zones. By removing alcohol from the solution I’m changing the entire equation for living a better life.

One might ask—how much was alcohol playing a role in my life? Enough to make our alcohol bills obscene. I blame part of this on the relative affluence we have—we can afford wine, we can afford the higher cost whiskeys, and when we run out we just buy more. And I blame it on a social norm I’ve embraced from TV, discussions with colleagues, etc., that isn’t a smart social norm. People talk about coming home and having a glass of wine to separate from the day—but that isn’t the choice we should be making to separate from the day. I, in particular, should take a walk, do yoga, meditate, listen to music and dance, to separate myself from the work day and to prepare myself for a fun-filled evening at home with my family. Why, for so long have I chosen a glass of wine? Then… as more stress increased the pressure on me, and more funds became available to us, that glass unjustifiably became another glass… and another glass every hour over 4 or 5 hours in the evening and there goes a bottle. And depending on the evening, maybe I opened another bottle and started on that one, too.

A whole fucking bottle of wine… and more.

Just from me drinking it. No. One. Else.

Where that norm developed, and when, I don’t really remember. It was long before 2020 and the complete fucking dumpster fire of this past year. The meme’s that show stadiums full of alcoholics aren’t as funny to me as they used to be. We are threatened with a pandemic and instead of finding ways to live our lives to the fullest we revert to a state of comfortably numb inebriation that keeps us from living and makes it more likely that we will die younger.

I’m choosing to try my best to live longer, so for me that will mean alcohol must exit my life… at least for now.

As I’ve been modifying my solution for life, and since last writing my total weight loss is 11.8lbs in 24 days. This is the right solution for me… and I look forward to seeing what new, solid formation I create for my future, and the future of my family, out of changing the solution that is constantly reacting under pressure…

And I think I’m really going to like what I see.

Melting away

Today I am 8.5 lbs less after hitting an all time high on Dec 16th… meal prep is winning and key to organizing my families most important decisions for our health—making smart choices about what we eat for every meal.

I have also had the past two weeks to decompress and it has been perfect. I have no idea how much reducing the stress has affected me and my blood sugars but I have learned a lot already.

For instance… as part of the low carb eating, we have also begun intermittent fasting and I’m tracking my blood glucose and ketones (my husband isn’t interested in pricking his fingers as much as I am happy to do to gather data). I’ve noticed the past three mornings that my blood sugar has been high (for me)—110, 115 and 101. I read up about this phenomenon and learned about how our hormones fluctuate at night which can increase our blood sugar and another phenomenon that protects our body when our blood glucose gets low and our bodies release stored glucose from our muscles, etc., to increase our blood glucose to protect our bodies. This is fascinating and something I will watch more. We ate lunch (for my husband and me the first meal of my day) at 1230 hrs took a 2.2mi walk with the kids afterwards. When I returned I checked my blood glucose—it was down to 84 and my ketones up to .8 from .1 this morning. It is very interesting how a slow jaunt can reduce my blood sugar after eating and it shows the importance of working out, even walking.

That has me wondering how much of an impact working out in the morning will have on me vice working out in the middle of the day or evening? I know Dr. Berg has a YouTube video that briefly discusses this and I will need to understand it better. Regardless, it is nice having the ability to do a quick check of my blood sugar and ketones to see how things are going, and to confirm that I’m on the right track.

Being able to confirm things are working is important to keeping me going. In the past when I was only relying on weight loss, which takes time and fluctuates so much, I feel like giving up when I don’t see change. The negative thoughts dominate the positive and I say “it’s not working” and I quit. Instead, using the glucose monitor I’m able to see the changes in the ketones whenever I feel I’m losing confidence. To see that there are ketones in my blood and to acknowledge that I feel really good right now, tells me this is a good path to continue on.

Activation Energy

Google defines it as the minimum quantity of energy which the reacting species must possess in order to undergo a specified reaction.

When I think of activation energy, I reflect on the data we studied in my geology undergrad courses, looking at the graph of when solutions begin to form crystals under different temperatures and pressures. You can see an example of activation energy here in Ohio when you forget a water bottle in your car overnight during the cold winters and it is still liquid until you shake it and suddenly it ices over. Just that little shake is enough energy to take it from water to ice in seconds—and it has excited me for years to watch.

Every health journey someone embarks on requires some kind of activation energy if it is to be successful. In the past I’ve started health journeys with a simple statement of a goal… but there is more to goals if you really plan to achieve them. I know this—it’s the key to everything I do in my job everyday. Every project must have a clear goal with a well defined plan that has a clear start and a specific end state. Steps are planned out in a proper order with testing you can do to see if you’re on track with your plan. You develop a strategy to monitor your progress toward meeting your goals, and when required, making adjustments to the plan to keep things on track.

After the absolute chaos of 2020 I finally have the activation energy, a plan, metrics to watch, and the resources to get moving toward something healthier, because…

My health is utter shit right now. My blood pressure requires meds to control. My stress levels have been consistently high for over two years. I’ve gained so much weight I don’t even recognize myself in the mirrors. I don’t know when the last time was that I had a good night sleep. [Ironically, I felt like my sleep apnea test, which resulted in a moderate obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis, was the best night this year but based on 132 sleep apnea episodes, the pulmonologist thinks differently.]

I don’t live. I laugh, I love, I have friends, but I don’t live. I don’t take my life by the horns and direct where it should go. I monitor and control the hell out of my work projects but, the one thing that should matter more than anything, my life, I just don’t manage at all. I need to do what I reasonably can to be here for my kids and live a wonderful life with them and my husband.

Here is what has been happening to make this reality. I started by taking off two full weeks from work for the first time ever—for me. The entire purpose of this time has been to root cause my weight and health issues and come up with a plan to fix them.

The root cause—I don’t meal prep. I know so much information about weight loss, working out, all that. But when I’m working and it is the end of the day I am so exhausted and overcome by decision fatigue that I can’t (or don’t) make smart decisions about our dinners. Instead, I grab a glass of wine (or if it’s an especially bad day, a glass of whiskey) and pull up that DoorDash app for whatever is quick and sounds delicious. It’s obscene how much we have spent on DoorDash this year.

So without a plan, meals and ingredients all ready to go on the weekends, I start each week doomed to fail. But meal prepping isn’t all I need.

The plan must be clear on the method of operations as well. My choice is a keto-like plan coupled with intermittent fasting specifically recommended by my gastroenterologist for me. She has recommended no more than 70 net carbs per day with the majority of my food being as plant-based as I can. She didn’t direct a calorie count, just the carbs totals spread between 10 am and 8 pm. Holy cow did she throw me a challenge!

This time is different from when I tried this last year (and did lose weight rather quickly). I didn’t have a plan I could count on before starting work each week. I went into each day counting on energy I never had to make decisions I knew I’d be too tired to make about something so important like my health. I don’t even go into a staff meeting that unprepared.

As part of getting read for the change, today I made a long list of meals that are low carb that my husband and I both like. This time, he’s also on board with implementing changes to our life style and even watched an educational video with me today. Like friends, this is serious support from a key resource that just hasn’t happened before. He even initiated a discussion about what types of foods will be good for us that we enjoy.

The next steps are shopping and food prep so that come 1 Jan I have an executable plan ready to execute. I look forward to seeing what new solid foundation comes out of the activation energy I’m applying to this challenge. I’m looking to 2021 with a positive attitude… and I might even say “thanks 2020,” for giving me the final push I needed to believe in me.

My rage is so cold

I can’t stop thinking about screaming to the universe to give her back.

I told my best friend everything I needed on 7 October 2020. I realized as I was speaking that I’d told her everything before, when she could speak. I was so thankful in the moment. Heather was no longer able to speak or swallow solids. On the 10th of October, on her husband’s birthday, she passed away.

Heather Stoker was the person who challenged me to do and be better—be a better mom, a better wife, a better supervisor and leader. She has become the yardstick from which I judge my behavior. I judge the behavior of others on whether they create a safe, supportive environment or a caustic, hostile one that I still believe delayed her diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer. She was only 42. She had 3 extraordinary children. She was too young to leave this Earth.

And we need her, the empathy she felt for people, the passion she felt for doing the right thing. The support she was willing to provide for others to do what is right by humanity—not a party, nation, or religion, what was fundamentally right for each human being.

I desperately miss our chats… conversations over IM or text as we mothered our children or spent time with our husbands. We knew each other’s priorities and family was always first. The energy she put into her family was so selfless, so pure, I’ve never seen that level of devotion to others before.

The hole she has left behind fills and empties. It’s unstable. I cry quickly at the thought of something she did. Some unexplainable act of love for others that required her to pull together so much finite, limited energy to execute. Some days I’m filled with the “Thank God I had her as a friend.” Other days I am so angry that someone so caring was taken far too early. The ebb and flow… I’m emotionally exhausted.

I don’t think I’ll ever find another friend like her. A friendship, a sisterhood, so open and raw that my authentic self felt safe to learn and be guided by her. No. She was a clear, colorless Diamond among a world of so many people filled with vile inclusions that I can’t see beyond.

So many of our conversations were written so we could answer each other after addressing our family first that the only way I know can process the emptiness is here, writing about her, writing to her.

So if you are here reading, stop now and go to “The North Sea of My Mind” to understand the pain I feel.

Heather, my friend and chosen sister, I miss you so much. I love you, my friend. Forever.