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!]

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