Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: Bests & Worsts

With about half an hour of 2010 left in my part of the world, I'm at home for the first NYE of my life. Why? Today, the temperature in Melbourne surpassed the 40 deg C mark, which is a deal-breaker in my relationship with the outside world. I had plans to go out and party, but the image of riding on public transport with sweaty, BO-drenched folk just to get to a club full of more of the said-same folk vehemently replaced the positive prospects of a fun night of dancing.

So, as my household counts down til the end of the first decade of the 21st century, I am encouraged to reflect on the mixed bag that has been 2010. Long-time readers will be familiar with most of the ups & downs that this year has brought me, but since I still receive some comments and emails that demonstrate a lack of knowledge about where I've been on this journey, I figured it would be helpful (to me as well as you guys) to have a look at what knowledge and experience I am bringing into 2011.

Let's start with the bad stuff:

The absolute worst event of 2010 was my February run-in with the horrific DepTran, prescribed to help cure a damaged, overly sensitive nerve ending. Within 24 hours of my first dose, I became desperate for food, with a raging appetite that could not be sated, even with 7000 calories thrown at it on one particularly memorable day. I stayed on the primal path, but watching my fat cells balloon whilst I miserably tried to stick to my usual intake levels left me with depression. I was allowed to cut out the drug after a month, since it was not helping the nerve ending, but by then I was back to my original weight. It felt like my efforts throughout 2009 were wasted. The hormonal effects of the drug stuck around for a good six months, and I have not been successful in my attempts to resume fat loss except for brief positive stints that keep inexplicably rebounding. Even following orthodox paleo, even tracking my carbs and calories, even exercising, even fasting, even with everything I know about health and nutrition - I'm still left feeling like a big, fat failure because I'm back to the size I was before I started trying to get healthy.

I know I've made positive steps and that it's not in vain, but try telling that to the clothes that don't fit me anymore and the people that - just 12 months ago - commented on how well I was looking. For the first time in my life, I was being told that I was 'gorgeous' and looked really healthy, and now that positivity has been stolen away from me. Saying that probably makes me look vain, but those comments, just like the newly-positive experiences I had shopping at clothing stores such as Alannah Hill, were so foreign and delightful to me that it was like I was finally granted access to this other world where normal people lived. Now I've been kicked out again - the lack of positive comments don't just remind me how much fat I've regained, but they also remind me that the average person will assume that I've regained it because I've been eating crappy food & that I'm ignorant about health.

I can no longer confidently be a positive role-model for the primal lifestyle - if I told anyone that I create and maintain a blog about healthy living, they would scoff and roll their eyes. Perhaps that is a little over-stated, since I have not regained fat in my face but only around my waist and hips/thighs - a sign of health and even fertility, really. However, there's nothing more compelling to an audience than having seen someone go from chubby to stream-lined, and I've lost that ice-breaker. When I get it back, I'll feel like a believable figure-head for the primal/paleo lifestyle once again.

So, I have learned a lot from this horrible experience: I have learned more about how my hormones work and what it feels like when they become imbalanced; I have been reminded just how dramatically my psychological aspects are impacted by physiological changes in my body; I have learned that when your body is being told to accumulate fat that it will succeed even during caloric restriction (I wonder how much muscle was eaten to feed my demanding fat stores...), and; I have had my hatred of Western medicine compounded, thanks to my specialist Doc who didn't bother to mention the "typical" side-effects of DepTran given that my experience on a similar drug had not caused any problems! The nerve damage is due to a problem that went improperly treated for too long, despite my pursuit of third, fourth and fifth opinions before finally finding this guy who picked up on the issue immediately. The kicker, of course, is that without sugar in my diet, that specific condition would not ever have flared up.

Time for some good stuff, please!

The psychological impact of the DepTran incident caused strain and damage in almost all of my personal relationships, but somehow we've come out the other side barely scratched. Rather than calling it quits, the beau & I are on the hunt to buy our first house, and everyone in my family is still speaking to me (even the ones who don't speak to each other!). I am in regular contact with good friends, some new this year, and look forward to maintaining those connections more effectively than I have in the past.

2010 brought me my best year of teaching thus far, despite my depression, with really enjoyable classes and mostly positive collegiate experiences (better than the bullying torment of 2009, at least!). I played Hero Teacher by orchestrating the inception of two new school traditions that were passionately adopted by the students, without causing me too much additional stress.

I discovered belly-dancing, a new passion of mine, and also rekindled my singing, which had been on hiatus since 2002. I have joined a belly dance performance ensemble, am on call for a couple of semi-professional choirs for when they need a strong voice to support their performances (so I don't need to be a paid member nor attend rehearsals, which works for me since I don't find their repertoire challenging enough to require rehearsal), and have made some contacts who will be part of my planned a cappella group next year. I hope that my 'recreational' participation in the performing arts will continue to grow in 2011, without adding too much stress to my already-busy life.

Of course, my knowledge about dietetics and fitness has continued to expand in depth and breadth throughout the year, with my growing blogreel devouring the time I used to have to spend on daily blogging! I plan on making an effort to photograph my meals again, since I feel that my cooking is my most visible and effective proponent of this way of life. I feel bad that I didn't photograph all of my Christmas meals, but I do have some waiting to be posted!

I finally took the next step in my jewellery making, devoting more time to the construction of new pieces (ironically, as part of my stress-reduction effort!), and starting a store online now that Zibbet has made it economically feasible to do so. Today, I also paid up for a full Zibbet membership, which means I no longer will be limited to only listing 50 items in my store. I have about 250 items waiting to be listed, so those will be posted incrementally over the next few days. Thank goodness I'm on holidays for another four weeks!

The final piece of positivity I'm bringing with me into 2011 is the newest member of my family, adopted just two days ago from the Lost Dogs' Home in North Melbourne:

Meet lovely little Oreo, our nine week old kitty - and the only Oreo you'll ever find in MY house! He's very energetic, and already prefers fresh fish to the carb-inflated dry kibble the vet recommended should make up 80% of his diet!

All the best for 2011!


Darryl said...

You will do well come 2011, your intention to continue your journey is admirable and honest. Best wishes and please keep us posted.

The Fitness Explorer

Monica said...

Ugh. I know just how you feel. I lost 20 lbs doing paleo, felt and looked great at my wedding (even though stress and not eating took off the last 5 lbs), and now I'm right back to where I started. It's so frustrating. In the past 2 months, I've gained 10 lbs without thinking about. (This is eating low calorie, fairly low carb.) I don't think my calorie levels are low enough to be going into "starvation" mode.

You mentioned awhile back wanting to try out Leangains. What happened with that? I've been following the protocol (best I can figure out) for about a week and it doesn't seem to have done anything so far in terms of weight loss. Obviously, it's a long term program, but I'm seriously frustrated that I can't seem to shake at least 5 lbs which would get me back into some of my clothing. I also do CrossFit 1-2x weekly. WTF? I'm now focusing on micronutrients and vitamins as the possible key as I've neglected that a bit these past few months, though I admit maybe my body just wants me carrying around these 30 extra pounds. (I certainly don't!) Very very frustrating to have helped many friends along the way with their health goals with my knowledge, while I'm still standing here with my fat ass. I know exactly how you feel about having lost credibility.

Keep plugging away, and I'd love to hear what works for you, if anything does.

Love, love, love! your jewelry. Seems we have some interests in common. I'm also a teacher (college biology) and I'm not creative and don't make jewelry, but I'm an independent rep with a company who sells it. Here's my website. Don't think it's sold in Oz yet.

brian said...

Hi Jez, I know where you are coming from in Dec 09 I was a slim paleo advocate at 87kg however with my elderly father taking ill I allowed sugar (coffee ) and beer back into my life, I am up to 100kg again.

Father is in a nursing home for the elderly unable to communicate or move and has been so for the last twelve months. This event coupled with career effecting ankle injury had a greater effect emotionally than I originally anticipated, however I'm on holidays now and focused on living closer to a primal lifstyle again.

Blogs like yours and the others have helped inspire the interest in me again. I'm glad you can share the good and the bad I hope you find the answer/solution to your concerns. Keep the faith.

Annamaison said...

Can't be a positive role model for the paleo-lifestyle? Bollocks! Of course you can! You are, you have been, and setbacks notwithstanding - continue to be.

As someone who has her own struggles with PCO, I think I can quite confidently say that you are a positive and effective role model.

And think about this - what would your health be like, and what would your weight be if you weren't primal.

Chin up, luv! You look fabulous and you ARE fabulous.

P.S. post more recipes please. I haven't got a creative bone in my body and everyone at my house is getting tired of eating the same old.

Darc said...

Thank you, once again, for your honesty on this blog, along with that of those who commented before me. This is the one place I know I can read real-life experiences.

I'm sick of the Crossfit, et al, bloggers and commenter’s who rave on and on about how Paleo, "saved my life", or, "I lost 40 lbs in 2 months and kept it off for 2 years", or, "one week on Paleo and I haven't craved a single grain of sugar or wheat", or, "it cured my ADD" (really, I just read that one this evening).

If that is their experience, good for them. However, I have not met a single person who can tell that story to my face and it certainly is not my experience.

I love Paleo food and believe it to be the best way to eat, but the fat on my body is clearly very happy to be here and is not giving up without a fight—fighting with my body only stresses me out and we all know what that does to us—so what's the answer?

I'll lose a few pounds over the space of 3-4 months, only to gain most if not all of it back during a week of being too stressed with school or work to eat just right. It's exhausting!

I'm not giving up, but I want you to know that your blog and the honest comments of your other followers keep me going in the wee hours when I am alone and fat.

I also love your humor, your recipes and your food pornography, as well as your newsy updates.

Your blog is just right, all the time. Keep up the GREAT work and Happy New Year, with whatever it brings to all of us.

PS That is one cute kitten! :-)

Liz Lamirp said...

I second the previous comments - Jezwyn you continue to inspire me, and no matter what our journey we are all still learning along the way.

I'm no ambassador for paleo either - I initially went primal after lots of reasearch and reading all the stories about it clearing up allergies and inflammation - and not one of my conditions has improved. I still believe it's the right way to eat though, so the change is permanent for me (and for my hubby who has lost 20kg without even trying and is a walking talking 'paleo evangelist' now lol). I still hate it when I have to admit to people that it hasn't helped my eczema/whatever and they look at me, knowingly, like I'm on some crazy uninformed risky self-experiment.

Haven't messaged you re jewellery yet, need my wallet to recover from xmas...but I know what I want.

All the best for 2011, thank you for inspiring me (oh, and my fussy kids have loved every one of your recipes that I've made). :o)
love liz

Jezwyn said...

Gosh, thanks lovelies! I'm a bit overwhelmed :) Looks like primal/paleo is the same as everything else in that you only hear about the extremes (successes and failures) and none of the middle-ground.

The hardest part of this is to keep up the clean eating hen I'm back at the same shape I was when I was eating junk food all the time! Even being a little lighter than I started would be enough of a support to keep me off industrial garbage, but I'm exactly where I started. I'm not even sure that I feel any better than I used to, since I never had any problems with grain and sugar other than weight!

I'm still interested in trying the leangains protocol, but have been a bit distracted. I will blog about it when I start. I haven't even been fasting all that much since I'm on holidays, so I'm pretty much stuck at home to avoid the weird weather!

I'm wondering whether my body just wants me to be at this weight too, Monica, especially since I just took another month off my birth control pill, and actually had a period! So that makes me wonder whether my PCO was triggered by the drop in weight/calories after all! I'll post about it when I've tried a few things.

Brian, I hope you do come back to primal/paleo and see an improvement in health again. I wish my weight gain was due to eating sugar - then at least it would make sense!

Thanks, Annamaison! Although, when I think about my health/weight were I not primal, I doubt there would be any difference. If anything, I'd have a healthier attitude toward food, and an unblemished lean mass & metabolism. My scales tell me I'm up about 3% body fat even though I'm back to my old weight. Boo.

No worries, Darc! I'm sorry that you haven't had the kind of success on paleo that others rave about. I was certainly gushing last year, pre-DepTran, about the amazing success I had. I'm still not that disillusioned about paleo/primal in and of itself, but am upset that my body has been so interfered with that nothing seems to work now. I have seen others in my life have those amazing experiences though - one of my students was utterly transformed from being a wild sufferer of ADHD to being quite calm and focused! I also don't crave sugar and grain, and had no problem cutting it out, even though I was a definite sweet tooth pre-primal. So I know that it certainly can work, but certain health issues need to be sorted out first. That's true of all things, of course. I hope I can get over these hurdles and start seeing the results I was getting two years ago, but I can't treat food as the entire medicine - I know that my body needs more help than that.

Thank you so much for the comments! I will certainly get back to posting recipes - I'm getting through the big job of listing my jewellery (130 items and counting!) on Zibbet, and then I have a couple of fall-back favourites to post about. It's getting hot here, so I'm avoiding the kitchen, and hot weather food is currently irrelevant for most of my readers ;) I'll try to find some middle ground!

Thanks for helping me keep my chin up! :)