The 4 in 1 post

Retirement: fifth anniversary

June 30 marks five years since I retired from being a parish pastor.

I’m still bummed out about it.

I still consider it to have been forced on me, having preferred to keep my gender dysphoria in check instead of leaving the ministry in order to address it.

I still wish I were a parish pastor.

I’ve accomplished a lot the past five years. I’m grateful about that. I have a lot more in mind to do. But I still wish it didn’t have to be this way.

Greg’s return: one year ago

July 9 marks one year since I made public that I had ceased experiencing any sense of being female, that I gradually got used to the idea that I would resume living as a guy, and that by late May I had been living full time as Greg.

I lived as a transgender woman for three years. I did everything a person can do to transition sexes.

It all feels like it was a dream.

If it were not for all of the evidence that I transitioned, I might not believe it had been real. When I ponder it, I find myself physically shaking my head in disbelief.

All my life, I wanted to feel like a guy. For the past nearly one-and-a-half years, I have. I wish I didn’t have to go through all that I did to achieve it, but I am thankful that I finally arrived at this wonderful wholeness.

Hormone update

I have passed the seven month mark since resuming hormone therapy. Each Sunday, I inject a low dose of estradiol (estrogen). The purpose is to protect my bones, muscles, and joints, and to stop the infernal hot flashes I had been having multiple times a day since May 2018.

When I started feeling like a guy at the outset of 2018, I stopped my hormone therapy with my endocrinologist’s permission to do so. I feared continuing to take estrogen would upset my sense of self.

In a few months, I started feeling sluggish. Then my muscles felt like mush. My knees protested when I got out of bed in the morning and when I walked stairs.

By autumn, I could hardly run. I returned to my endocrinologist. I had researched my condition and was quite sure what she would tell me. She immediately confirmed that my hormones were too low.

We debated whether I should take testosterone or estrogen. Long story short, we settled on estrogen. With either one, I feared upsetting what I believe to be a delicate balance with my gender identity. In November, I resumed weekly injections and held my breath.

Within two weeks the hot flashes had ceased and my muscles and joints were beginning to feel better. After a month or so, my body was back to normal. Best of all, I experienced no fluctuation in experiencing myself as a male, and I continue to feel great.

This spring, because I got my muscles healthy and worked at losing weight, I improved my running to where I was in late 2017, which was the best I had run since retiring. Last week, running six miles, I ran my fastest pace of the year.

The more weight I lose, the better I run. I love that, but . . .

Greight Loss on hold

I have put my Greight Loss on hold. I am grateful to have lost so much weight so quickly—twenty-eight pounds since my high of 260 in February—but the thing has occurred which I feared.

In my initial Greight Loss post, I explained that I intentionally put on weight last year so that my breasts might appear as man boobs. It worked.

Then it didn’t work. I hated carrying the extra weight.

Since I successfully adjusted to living as a guy with this busty chest, I hoped I could lose some weight and not be too self-conscious about my breasts. As I passed the twenty-pound mark in weight loss, my chest stood out so much more. It really bothered me.

Yet, I didn’t want to stop losing weight. I carried on.

Nearing the thirty-pound mark, I finally had enough. The rest of me shrinks, but my chest remains the same. When I go out in public, I have to select my shirts carefully, to disguise my chest. I have to wear a sports bra when I run, and that makes them even more prominent.

A few weeks ago, I began the process to see if our health insurance might cover the cost of my having a double mastectomy. I await word from them. I am not overly hopeful it will be covered. If not, I’m going to have to put up with these breasts for now.

I don’t know what I’ll do about losing more weight. I’d love to take off another thirty pounds.

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Greight Loss: the two week start

Weigh-in update. Monday, June 3, the scale was unkind, showing a three pound gain, from 235 to 238. Surely, this was water weight. On June 10, it was gone, plus a few more. I was pleased to see 232. I am now down 28 pounds from February.

Years ago, I noticed something, and what I noticed has proven to be true in both losing weight and exercising/running. For years, I didn’t run in the winter. Michigan, with its combination of cold and snow, kept me indoors from late in the year until spring. While I used either a treadmill or an elliptical in the winter, they work the body differently. When I resumed running in the spring, my muscles were sore.

I eventually noted that two weeks into running I could tell that I was already stronger. I then paid attention to that and, sure enough, year after year it was the case.

This turned out to be important for those first days of resuming jogging, especially as I aged and it got harder to increase my miles and quicken my pace. I had to learn patience, that I couldn’t be running five miles after only a week. It would have been easy to give up.

But, knowing how much improvement I would see in only two weeks was a motivator. Trusting that I would feel the strength returning to my legs helped me stick with it. And, I could remember how good that always made me feel, and the overall benefits I would receive from being stronger, such as with mowing the lawn and doing garden work, not to mention the emotional boost.

When working to lose weight, I found the two week start also to apply. We all know that restricting calories—which typically means also avoiding a host of favorite foods—is both physically and mentally challenging.

Raise your hand if you’ve given up on the chore after one or two days. For many, striving to eat less is as successful as New Year’s resolutions are.

Altering eating patterns and amounts are hard habits to change. And that mouthy stomach growls louder than some of the dogs that go berserk when I jog past their houses. So, to know that in a mere two weeks you will see positive signs, well, that’s huge.

I’ve always dropped a nice number of pounds in the first weeks. It was true this time, too. Sadly, I didn’t weigh myself the day I began, so I don’t know what I lost the first five days. I had been 260 in February. I was 252 on April 22. On April 29, I was 249. Today, I am 232.

I recall April 16, the day I decided to resume 1,800 calories a day. I knew it would be a challenge. I also knew my history of losing weight fast. I added to my thinking how much running I was doing. I was confident the weight would come off. I entered my Greight Loss period with confidence.

I have been blown away by my success.

And good begets good. Being nearly thirty pounds lighter than in the winter, and running five or six days a week, my running keeps improving. I now have days where I am running six miles. The day of my 232 weigh-in, June 10, I ran six miles and had my best time of the year, beating my previous best by 23 seconds per mile.

If you are contemplating losing weight or beginning exercising—whether it’s walking or running, or weight training or spinning, or swimming or you name it—be encouraged. Set your sights on week two. Trust that it will only take that long before you feel and see the first results.

It will feel so good! You will be on your way!

Greight Loss: May 27 weigh-in

I had another excellent week, losing five more pounds.

I now weigh 235. In February, I topped out at 260.

“Julie, I did it! I moved up a notch on my belt! Please, take a picture for me to post on my blog!”

I was hopeful the scale would reflect another good week of loss. When I got dressed for church on Sunday, I needed to move my belt to the next hole. That’s always one of the fun things about trimming up, a tangible way to measure progress. Soon, I hope, I will need to dig into my basement tubs of clothes in search of pants in a smaller size.

Last week, I ran or speed-walked six straight days. It was the first time this year that I was able to get out six times in a week—with the weather now more reliable, I hope to achieve that a lot more often. I put in 31.8 miles. My best run was 5.73 miles.

Because I ran so much—not to mention calories burned mowing the lawn and working in the garden—I allowed myself to be lax a few days with my 1,800 calorie goal. On no day did I go crazy—-for me, that would be second helpings of supper’s main dish that are just as large as the first plate—so that my intake didn’t climb very far into the 2,000s.

May 29 marks six weeks since I began my 1,800 calorie daily goal. I continue to feel good about it, steadfast in my desire. Attitude is just as important as one’s plan. Here, in short, is mine:

Greight Loss: getting started

You don’t need me to tell you about all of the diets out there. It seems there’s as many of them as there are calories in a bowl of ice cream.

I’m reminded of an old joke. Husband: Honey, are you losing weight on your banana and coconut diet? Wife: No, but now I sure can climb trees and pick fruit!

I bet you also don’t need me to tell you that extreme diets are not wise. First, to be healthy we need a balance of protein and fiber and fat and the whole shebang of the nutrition plate. Second, we can’t stick with extreme diets. And when we lose our resolve we commonly regain the weight we lost.

Who am I to talk? In my first post, I admitted that I eventually regained a lot of the weight I took off in 2007. The good news is, I didn’t regain it because I had been on a diet that wasn’t sustainable. The bad news is, I got lazy. I just plain ate too much. I enjoyed food more than what I weighed and how I felt.

I had learned much about nutrition, metabolism, calories—that one pound is 3,500 of them!—and everything one should know about food quality and quantity, and what was wise for me. When I stopped my 2007 counting of 1,800 calories per day, I was going to continue to count, but give myself enough calories so that I could maintain my weight. For me, that would be anywhere from 2,300 to 3,000 per day.

To figure out what is ideal for your size, age, and activity level, use this nifty calorie calculator: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html. These two screen shots show my info.

2,300 calories is about what I need on days when I am not very active, especially on days I don’t run or walk. On days that I run or walk, I burn from 500 to 800 calories. My rule of thumb is 100 calories burned per mile walked and 150 each mile I run, though my running app, and this website: https://caloriesburnedhq.com/calories-burned-running/, are more generous in their calculations.

The larger or smaller a person is, and how fast or slow the pace, affects the calories burned. Don’t think too much about them, because your attitude is not going to be, “I burned an extra 500 calories today, so that means I can have that bowl of ice cream right before bed!”

Those calories burned exercising speed up your weight loss and have so many health benefits. This article from Mayo Clinic hits the key points: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389.

Another key to counting calories and not feeling I am on a diet is my daily eating plan. I eat three meals a day. I rarely snack. I eat consistently: breakfast at 7:30 a.m., lunch at noon, supper at 6:00 p.m. I get full enough at each meal that, while plenty hungry by the time the next one comes, I have enough energy to keep me going.

Also, you need to train your body. If you always eat an evening snack—let’s say at 9:00 p.m.—then when 9:00 nears you are going to feel hungry. You’ve trained yourself to get hungry. Your body knows it’s going to get fed, so it gets ready.

This isn’t to say you have to eat three meals a day. There are intriguing articles where the data argues for two per day, and six per day. The key is to do what works for you, know how many calories you’re consuming, and be consistent.

Oh, and one thing everyone agrees on: evening eating is unhealthy. You’re going to bed, so you aren’t going to be burning those calories. This article provides helpful insights: https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/is-it-bad-to-eat-at-night-6-reasons-to-avoid-nighttime-meals-and-snacks/.

You might be thinking, “But I get hungry!” I know you do, but here’s the thing about feeding your evening and between-meals hunger. Just as you trained your body to call for food by eating between meals, you can train those cravings to cease.

I used to be a fierce evening eater. It was so bad, Kim, my first wife, would ask, “Didn’t I feed you well enough at supper?” Now that I am aware of how many calories are in things, those bags of potato chips and bowls of ice cream I was eating amounted to a second supper.

When I decided I needed to stop evening eating, the first few days were a challenge. By mid evening, my stomach was growling. Soon, I found the growls to cease, the desire to desist, and the ability to keep out of the kitchen.

Here’s what works for me to lose weight:

  • three meals a day, at consistent times
  • 1,800 calories per day
  • running and walking at least five days a week

What works for you? How quickly do you want to lose weight? How many calories is healthy for you?

Can’t run? Can you walk? Even a moderate pace is very helpful. Do you prefer a workout? YouTube has lots of videos you can follow for exercising right in your living room. Or go to a gym, or use a machine at home. Ride a bike—outdoors or a stationary one.

Do what you enjoy, so you’ll stick with it. I love running and walking outside. I am not a fan of any other way of exercising. I give up on them very easily. I’ve stuck with running all my adult life.

Do you prefer to eat more meals per day, or don’t want to give up mid morning or mid afternoon snacks? Then do it. Be happy about when you eat.

Do what works for you so that you can stick to it. So that you own it. So that you’re not on a diet, but on a lifestyle. So that you feel great about it!

Greight Loss: the first month

Greight = Greg + weight. It rhymes with eight, but think of it as great!

The Greight Loss Plan is my method for successfully and wisely shedding pounds.

If you read my first post, you’ll recall that I deliberately put on weight in 2018 because of my now too-large breasts, and that I topped out at 260 pounds early in 2019. When on April 17 I began consuming 1,800 calories per day, I had not weighed myself since February, so disgusted with myself I had become that I couldn’t bear to approach the scale.

I weigh each Monday, first thing in the day, with my regular clothes on. When I resumed hitting the scale, I might already have lost a few pounds as I have been running regularly and had a bit of success consuming fewer calories. Based on my first weigh-in, which was only five days after beginning my Greight Loss Plan, it sure seemed I had to be under 260 because I couldn’t imagine losing eight pounds in five days.

April 22: 252 pounds.

I was elated! This initial success was a huge motivation to remaining steadfast with my 1,800 calories per day.

I had wondered how successful I would be. I’m twelve years older than when I did this in 2007, and now I’m over age sixty. After sixty, we lose muscle. Muscle and metabolism are linked, so the less muscle one has the slower is one’s metabolism. Each pound of muscle burns six calories per day, while each pound of fat only burns two calories. All of this conspires against an older person trying to lose weight.

In 2007, at age 50, I averaged 2.5 pounds lost per week. And was it ever consistent. I rarely lost under two pounds a week or more than three.

Besides eating the same number of calories per day, I’m running about the same amount as in 2007. I can’t run as fast as then—and I now have to mix in walking some days, and take break days where I speed walk five miles because it serves as a bit of a rest for my muscles—but being retired allows me to run more often, usually one or two more days a week than when I was working. Thus, the calories I burn from running are comparable enough to 2007.

Holding onto my pleasant surprise from April 22, I was curious how weigh-in number two would go.

April 29: 249.

There it was: three pounds lost. Right where I want to be.

I had a third successful week of eating 1,800 calories per day—I had not yet given myself a break day, where I ate as many calories as I wanted. I even kept to my calories on pizza day!—so I hoped for another two or three pounds lost.

May 6: 244.

Yahoo!

I now was on a roll. After another seven straight days of 1,800-calorie-diligence, and plenty of running, I eagerly got onto the scale for weigh-in number four.

May 13: 249.

What??? I gained five pounds???

This was not the first time I experienced such a horror. In 2007, I weighed myself every day. Sometimes, I weighed three to five pounds more than the day before. Complaining about it to Julie, she had surmised that it likely was water, that perhaps what I had eaten had me holding onto excess liquid baggage. She assured me that I soon would be pleased with the number I saw on the scale. Indeed, within a day or two the blip had blopped.

With that in mind, I didn’t let that 249 get me down. I knew I had not gained weight. My belt told me so. The day before, getting dressed for church, I found myself nearly ready to move to the next notch. I remained in good spirits.

I weighed myself only four days later, because May 17 marked one month on the Greight Loss Plan. Whew, the extra weight was gone. Onto my next regular weigh-in.

May 20: 240.

Woo hoo! Fewer than five weeks into counting calories I was down twenty pounds from my winter weight!

I can’t predict that I will continue to lose weight at my 2007 pace, but the good start has me optimistic. What I’m doing works, so I’ll keep at it.

Losing weight is way more than eating less. To succeed, one needs a wise strategy. Mine works for me. Next time, I’ll share it with you.