…and the Health Saga Begins

In some ways, this story starts when I was about 10. In other ways, sometimes the history is not so interesting. Given that, like a good mystery, I’ll start the narrative in the here and now and relevant details will become obvious throughout the telling of this sad, and frankly very normal tale. So lets be a little Jessica Fletcher about this and start with the dead body, as it were: I find myself today, at 44, teetering on the precipice of Type 2 Diabetes (the diabetus) and with some mysterious kidney ailment that is causing every urinalysis I have to come back abnormal, and a literal skin reaction to a lot of foods. So…there it is.

What I know right now is that I need to get a grip on this now or its going to really spiral out of control–moreso than it already has. I believe these issues are related and I’m trying to stop the diabetus, which I believe is the source of the other issues, with food and behavior rather than Pharma because I have too much respect for myself not to. I also would rather spend my hard-earned, modest income on food of any sort rather than pills. No value judgments on those who think otherwise but I believe in keeping a healthy distance away from medicine at all costs. It’s just me (and I’ll be sure to elaborate on this as I go).

Also in short, roughly three months ago (in May of 2021) I started this exploration with the assumption that some of my age-old struggles of carrying a high body weight my entire life despite rigorous, sometimes borderline obsessive, dieting and exercise along with chronic sinus infections and, as I entered into adulthood, migraine headaches, are in fact, potentially connected symptoms of a larger culprit. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, let’s back up, of course.

Sick and Tired

The Covid-19 pandemic really took root here in the US in late March of 2020, shutting down life as we knew it. Along with the cancellations and shutdowns of work and school…and everything…came shutdowns to my Crossfit gym which, at the time, was fairly new to me although I was not a Crossfit noob by any stretch. When a former trainer I knew in Chicago gave me a call in February of 2017, inviting me to try out the box in which he just got a job, I figured why not. My tennis career of 2.5 years was not going to get me to Wimbledon and had also not rendered much terms of the weightless and fitness I sought and I was sick of buying equipment. I started playing tennis in the summer of 2015 to get outside and work out some rage caused by a job situation that was truly toxic before that was even a real descriptor living in the ether…and I also have really loved the game for a long time. Tennis was a multi-purpose affair. After a year of play, I felt on-track and good except for my weight so I remedied that: I undertook a diet in the Spring of 2016 and lost 30 lbs, the most I’d ever managed to lose. It didn’t matter that I was losing hair in handfuls and amenorrhea became I term I knew all too well. So it wasn’t healthy but it worked…and that’s all that mattered. No period, no problem. Added convenience, some might argue.

Trainer Marques serendipitously (maybe) called as tennis faded into the background, inquiring about Crossfit for me as a training methodology because 1) I have a natural penchant for lifting heavy shit and 2) lifting heavy shit mixed with metabolic conditioning (known in Crossfit as metcons) is the stuff of fitness genius. Most people who give it a go show marked improvements in fitness and, often, a corresponding weight loss if they tend toward the “thicker.” It seemed like THE ANSWER. So I showed up, lifted 260 lbs. as an opening deadlift with no training and we were off to the races.

As time went on, though, I was fitter but was gaining weight. “How is that POSSIBLE?!?,” I thought regularly as I watched my weight start steadily increasing. “Well you’re gaining muscle,” encouraging but not expert bystanders weighed in. “You’re probably eating too much,” a stranger literally walking through a conversation I was having with Marques offered. Marques thought I wasn’t working hard enough so we upped the metcons and I tried doing workouts fasted.

Things started to spiral downhill fast. My cardio was better than ever but I was clearly gaining fat. I was exhausted all the time, could never properly recover despite all the efforts, muscle soreness was off the charts, I acquired a hamstring and hip injury that was playing out in my knee (the female anatomy is a thing of wonder) and my anxiety was through the roof. And I was getting heavier. All the while tracking my macros that four (FOUR!!!) different health professionals had calculated for me that consisted of “clean” mostly Paleo foods. So don’t come at me with cupcakes and donuts because they just didn’t happen for years.

When the pandemic took root in 2020, I decided to spend a majority of the summer with my family in Cleveland while Marques moved to be near his family and that was the end of our Crossfit journey together. I was more than a little relieved. I was so tired. I needed a break, and except for a short stint at my new gym in November-December-January of 2021, I haven’t been back to Crossfit just yet. Mostly because I continued to gain weight.

Over the course of 2 years, I gained about 40 pounds total despite my disciplined workouts and macros and in May 2021, I could feel the train beginning to run dangerously off the tracks. I was gaining weight more and more rapidly and I was losing the ability to even stop it, let alone reverse it as my calories and macros were getting pinched lower and lower. The situation was bad.

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