Sam’s monthly check-in: What’s up, what’s down, the January version

Blue and pink sky, outline of mountains
Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

I like Catherine’s idea of a monthly “where I’m at” post. This is mine for January.

The image above is one of the lovely pictures you get when you search for “highs and lows” on Unsplash.

First the bad news, the lows, my knee is still injured. Progress is slow. I’m in pain a lot. It’s not fun. I’m meeting a surgeon on the 29th of January. This limits my physical activity and my time outside, since I only enjoy winter outdoors if I’m warm and moving. Brrr. I’m sad because I’m not cross country skiing. I’m not riding my fat bike. I’m not snow shoeing. And I’m not learning to downhill ski.

On the bright side, I’ve got a new job that’s keeping me really busy so there’s less tension between play and work than there might be otherwise. I’m also doing other things like cooking (I’m using the same delivery plan that Susan wrote about here) and reading books. (Including Wellmania, by Brigid Delaney, which I’m also going to review for the blog later.) Also, I’m spending time with Zippy, my cat, indoors rather than outdoors with Cheddar, the dog.

I’m also riding my bike on the trainer, doing lots of physio exercises, and icing my poor knee three or four times a day.

There’s more bad news that’s complicated. And to be clear here I don’t want medical advice. I have lots of doctors. I feel well cared for. And it’s about a subject that Tracy has pledged not to write or talk about, weight.

Mostly I agree with Tracy but I also think that’s easy to say when you’re in the normal weight range for your height, when your weight is unremarkable. That’s not me.

So I’m going to talk about weight. If that’s not your thing, if it bothers you, please look away. Read no further.

Saying that makes me feel like Lemony Snicket:

Thanks to the combination of menopause and thyroid surgery, oh and the knee injury, I’m at the highest weight I’ve ever been in my adult life. I’m working hard not to freak out about that. The issue is getting thyroid levels right in the midst of the hormonal storm that is menopause. I’ve been having frequent blood tests and meetings with doctors. A few of my friends have also been through this and have shared their stories. It isn’t fun.

Let’s just say it’s a challenge. There are two aspects to the the challenge, one is hunger and the other is metabolism.

Of course it also didn’t help not being able to walk much during the Christmas season. I was aiming to walk fewer than 2000 steps a day while surrounded by cookies and holiday chocolate.

But back to the thyroid issue….

From the Livestrong website here’s a short explanation of the ways things can go wrong.

Your thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck, below your voice box. It plays a major role in taking iodine and converting into the two major thyroid hormones —triiodothyronine T3 and thyroxine T4. Oftentimes, these hormones are referred to as TSH or total stimulated hormone. These hormones absorb iodine and combine with tyrosine to make T3 and T4 hormones, explains Endocrineweb. Your entire body relies on T3 and T4 hormones for regulation of metabolism. When your body reduces the amount of hormones that it makes, your metabolism throughout your body is affected, resulting in increased cholesterol levels, increased liver enzymes and low sodium levels. This can cause any type of food you intake for fuel to be stored as fat, leading to weight gain. You may also have an increase in appetite, even after a large meal.

It’s a challenge not eating when you feel hunger pangs. Your mind can know that they’re just caused by out of control thyroid levels but that doesn’t make it any easier on the rest of your body.

I’ve had the version of this without any hunger signals. That made riding my bike hard. I wasn’t hungry, at all. But I couldn’t ride without food. Now I’ve got the all hunger, all the time kind. Rawr! I’m like a hungry lion stalking the kitchen.

There is also this piece that’s been making the rounds on thyroid problems as a feminist Issue.

I’m not so worried about looks. I’d be okay being this size. I’d be okay being larger. I’ve got larger friends who I think look great. Our bodies are what they are. We should care for them and love them at all sizes. I’m even okay about the practical things like replacing clothes. I could use some more Dean-ly outfits. But I’m worried about extra weight on the injured knee. I’m worried about trends. I’m worried about the race wheels on my bike and their recommended weight maximums that I am now way over. Less, but still very real, I’m also concerned with making it up hills quickly.

I’d like hunger to be a reliable cue of something but in my case, it is not.

So once again, I’m tracking and counting and watching what I eat. But I don’t want to feel part of the great January diet culture either.

I’m trying not to panic. I’m trying to believe that doctors will sort this out. Deep breaths!

Finally, on the Guelph exercise front, I’ve joined the university gym. It’s super close to my office. And I’ve got a locker and towel service which I figure will be good in the summer for showering after long rides. I’ve got a Guelph physio person and I’m feeling positive that they might have some tweek, some new trick, that will help my knee.

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