Question of the week: How to Snag a Muse?
I get this question often, so I answered it on The Elder Glade Chronicles Here: Snag Your Muse
Progress is starting to show.
Reached the next big milestone, and did some updates to photos and videos to stay current. It's likely I'll hit a plateau in about five pounds or so, which will mean a change in diet and exercise and planning. I'll keep on at the current rate until I hit the wall, then plug in a new program. I went through the closet and got rid of anything that fits a larger me. Will do it again at the next dress size drop. Huzzah!
With twenty down, I'm almost to the halfway point. Little by little, I'l get there. So far, it's right on schedule.
Just checking in.
Keep on keepin' on, folks. <3
The Genetic Panel
How do I get to strong and confident? I don’t know yet. A bit of science (The beauty of a DNA genetics panel below) and a metric ton of mental re-conditioning.
To be honest, I’m guessing 80% or more of my transformational work in the next eight months will be mental, rather than physical. The psychology of transformation from hermitage to public platform is significant. Just as it was significant to close down all my public blogs, shutter my books, and leave the city for the woods. So, I’m already wrapping myself into the brain patterns of what I need to prepare in order to meet with the intentions I’m designing for my next chapter.
That being said, the physical element—the physicality and appearance of it all is significantly easier. Dropping 50-60 lbs, and reformulating a beauty routine is easy? Yes, compared to the brainpan work, much easier.
Here’s why. Body morphology science is relatively easy to calculate (caloric intake/ caloric burn/ protein build and so on). Transformation is just basic math plus effort & discipline/time/focus.
How bad do you want change, right? In my case, it’s overdue—so the momentum is stacked toward progress by sheer volume of readiness.
I do have few significant advantages: 1) I’ve done this multiple times so I know the helpful pathways that will get me where I want to go 2) I use a supplement that helps me burn fat (chemically induced ketosis) during lean down phases 3) I use a genetic fitness panel report (DNA report) to support my body with its genetic pre-dispositions while in a transformation phase.
What is a DNA fitness panel?
Well, a hundred years ago one of my corporate jobs was at a molecular genetic startup lab. The genetic study and pharmacogenomic research we were doing at the time was leading edge, and often unvalidated. In order to validate test and research results, we needed large population panels and raw genetic data to pull validation metrics from (that’s the easy answer)—which meant most of us at the lab donated our DNA to the testing pool at one time or another, and cross referenced that genetic data with other labs doing similar work. Since my genetics were basically plastered all over the place, I went ahead and donated my DNA to science, and to places such as 23andMe when they were still working through their validation processes. Like I said, it was a long time ago. Also, the science is fucking badass.
This means I got tons of genetic reports, validation profiles, and my core GATTACA data. I still get updates and new tests for validated assays cleared using my DNA from 23andMe. (If they use my genetic material to validate a test process, they provide me a copy of the report. Sometimes I understand the report, and sometimes I have to ask my genius lab friends to put it in a nutshell for me.). If I gained nothing else from that awful employment situation, at least I left with data and a rudimentary understanding of genetic profiles.
All this is to say that ultimately, I got a DNA and fitness biology report for my genetic contribution. If you’re going to purchase a DNA fitness profile, I think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of four or five hundred bucks, but don’t quote me.
Anywhoo, body transformation can be boiled down to science and discipline. We are all genetically predisposed to specific genotypes that make up our metabolic process—however, that should not stop you from achieving a goal…all it will do is force you to work around what you may perceive to be an obstacle and find a way to maximize or support key areas elsewhere in order to meet the end result you’re looking for. I’m all about the shortest route to the best answer, right?
For many years I couldn’t figure out why what felt like excessive dieting, exercise and conditioning never really resulted in mass loss or fat loss. I was constantly exhausted, chubby, and frustrated. After I got my genetic panels and started looking at my diet and exercise routines I realized: I wasn’t working out for the DNA I was born with. There’s a point in your daily struggles when you get fed up and pissed off enough to start doing your own research into why something isn’t working. So, I dug in deep.
My report explained I’m a rapid metabolizer for caffeine, alcohol, vitamins and minerals, and a slow metabolizer for fats and proteins. I changed my diet from fatless and high vegetable to a high fat (MUFA’s, essentially teaching my body to burn fat rather than glucose so I don’t store reserves), medium protein, low carb (ketogenic) with anaerobic weight conditioning plus HIIT and I saw almost instant fat loss, and a gain in muscle tone. (Obviously, that’s the simplified version) But most importantly…rapid metabolizer for caffeine and alcohol! YAY!! Bring on the margaritas!
Now, it may seem counter intuitive to switch to a high fat diet when you’re a slow fat metabolizer—in fact the report suggests a very low-fat diet to encourage weight loss (less than 22 grams or 200 Kcal a day). However, I’d been doing that for years, and was still gaining or at least not losing. The jump to a high fat diet in the face of the genetic report was a secondary source on Paleo genetics (I don’t recall the white paper now) and how the “Hunter-Gatherer gene” was responsible for obesity in populations with high carbohydrate diets, etc. and so forth, and that pushing toward a hard burn with lipids as a fuel source eliminates the reserves as well as allows for incoming caloric intake to move directly to combustion.
So, the first thing I checked was APOA2- rs5082 (APOA2 gene is located on chromosome 1 (1q23.3) for lipid metabolism). On the hunter gatherer “thrifty” gene I scored a mutant variant: GG which accounts for 7.6% of the population. Suddenly, I realized why I would gain five pounds if I even looked at a slice of cheesecake-but not because of the fat, but rather the fat mixed with carbohydrates. (This is also supported with a genetics report from 23andMe showing an embarrassingly high percentage of Neanderthal genes…oh, and Viking, but I already knew about the Vikings. I mean, have you seen my brothers?) This GG essentially meant that if I ate a slice of cheesecake, my body would burn the carbs immediately and store all the fat for an emergency. Once it’s behind the emergency storage gate: the feast or famine rule applies to the fuel usage and I have to be starving to break through the gate. Mostly with APOA2 this applies to saturated fats-so to trick the gate mechanism, so to speak, I switched to MUFAs (Monounsaturated Fatty Acids) and high omega 3 fatty acid foods. This choice was supported by a second gene mutation in FADS1.
FADS1-rs174547 also had an allele mutation: CC with a population percentage of 14.6%. FADS1 located on chromosome 11 (11q12.2-q13.1) “encodes for all delta 5-fatty acid desaturase”. The CC mutation accounts for “4/mg decrease in LDL ratios, and increase of 3.5mg in triglycerides” on average. “and 18.6% variance in the lower levels of arachidonic acid”. So—in short—eat more omega 3 fatty acids known to lower HDL cholesterol. Also supported by PPARG-rs180128 on Chromosome 3 (3p25.2) = with Wildtype: CC. Population 87.5%.
But…crap. The report said to limit fat intake…but, well, that meant my body would likely never burn its reserves unless I cardio ran myself to death, or starved—because I was surviving almost completely on complex carbohydrates and protein at the time and seeing nothing change at a 25% lower volume of intake than recommended.
From the report, I have a body morphology that will gain mass easily. The catch is, I gain both fat and muscle with minimal effort—so I have to consciously choose which mass I want to build and support.
So I took a leap of faith on the information in the Paleo white paper, combined with the known genetic data—and went high fat (MUFA Ketogenic). Once my body adjusted to the transition, I felt SO much better. I felt stronger. I slept better. My thoughts were more clear. I was burning fat reserves AND the incoming caloric values. The most responsive exercise came from High Intensity Interval Training, which gave my body a more simulated hunter gatherer pattern for cardio and exertion. While my genetic report suggested higher than average DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) I wasn’t interested in long endurance workouts suggested to avoid the pain. I just took the warning, and carried on with high intensity and short bursts, even with the weights. I opted for the pain so I could get it over with faster. (Not a huge fan of public gyms. Ick. Get in and get out.) The first time I put the whole plan together and ran it, I dropped thirty pounds of fat, and gained about eight pounds of muscle in five months. So, I knew it worked. I also learned that my body just really loves ketosis. It loves it so much my skin, hair, and joints all change and feel better after about two weeks on the diet. I love bread, but my body loves fat. Alas.
While the genes might be known, named, and are in the process of being studied—not even labs have all the right data for your body all the time. Work with professionals, and do your own research. Listen to your body. It will tell you when something isn’t working. The data can give you information, but new understanding is coming in every day. The report I work from is almost seven years old, so the core genetic data is the same, but the research associated with it, and the suggestions for managing said data has changed significantly.
Changing my process was a night and day difference in how I felt, and how fast my body responded to my demands. I was able to eat less because my food was more satisfying, feel better because I was getting stronger, and muscle tone made me leaner. I never really care about the number on the scale (the BMI scale is a liar, seriously) as long as my shape is where I want it, and I have the energy I require to do the things I want without dying. (Although I still like some fluff in some areas) Ultimately, my athletic days are over, but I still want to have fun without an injury or falling too far behind my pack while hiking, you know?
All this is to say, even with a DNA report and a ketogenic process--I still have to put in the time. I still have to make the hard choices. I still have to turn down that second margarita or extra burrito. It’s still a matter of showing up to exercise when I’d rather sleep in. So yeah, it’s still work. But I’d much rather be doing work that actually has a payoff I’m aiming for, than run endlessly in circles and have nothing but frustration to show for it.
The reason I don’t consider my physical appearance to be the difficult part of the coming out of the woods transition, is that this is a method, a practice that I put on rails and then forget about it. Plan ahead, then lean into it and let the practice carry me. Don’t stress about it. Don’t fret and wobble…just show up and let the science/discipline reward me for showing up. When you start to realize the equation is that simple, you stop letting your weight/shape be something that defines you—but rather something you adjust whenever you want—or whenever the mood strikes. You stop letting weight gain be terrifying, or intimidating, or something to fear (which is probably how I got so sloppy…I stopped stressing out about it because I knew I could fix it later). You stop letting it have control over you, because you know you can change whatever you want when you’re ready to do so.
And I’m ready, so that makes the process exponentially easier. Willingness is half the battle. The only question now is, what shape do I want to take on? What body/image do I feel like wearing that’s going to broadcast the message I’m about to bring to a platform? Picking a skin…that’s the crux. Still, it’s not that much of a challenge, because I know I can always change my skin again if I’m unhappy with the choice, see? Knowing a practice that works means you’re never really stuck.
The difficult part for me will be the parts that I will have to think about literally every day. The next steps of building platform, plotting course, re-thinking a decade of literary material, sculpting a brand and then standing in front of public feedback. That’s the tough stuff. How do I represent?
Everything else will catch up eventually. Even if there’s a hiccup, a plateau, a skip…it will all work out in the end. My teeth are locked in, so it will happen one way or the other.
Fitness Panel Genomic References for my fellow nerds: The understanding of the following data will change over time and with yet more research into the nearly infinite factors at play in gene expression related to external and environmental factors. This list was used to generate a preliminary report of data related to my diet and fitness panel. You can look up these genes and SNPs on almost any genetic portal and cross reference your own DNA report. Some key information in meaning and comprehension may vary from paper to paper—use your best judgement and brain power. Have fun!
Gene + SNP:
Day 12 just 258 to go...
The first big milestone is down. Ten pounds and a mental mind shift to tackle the ongoing plan to re-emerge from the wooded bracken. It's taken quite a few journal entries to lock my brain into the rightness of this decision, and hold it there. That being said, this theme of turning 40 kept coming up in my journaling, so I'm logging the entry here in order to refer back to it as needed.
Hitting 40 changed almost all the mental metrics of safety and comfort for me. Hiding has long been about not being able to feel safe, right? I won’t go into the hundreds of reasons safety has been an issue in the last twenty years, but most ladies I know will understand exactly what I mean when I say—security both emotionally, and mentally can come from being invisible. Your very freedom and independence can rely on flying below radar. I’ll circle back to this some other time.
For now though, there is something sad and yet wonderful about the reality that crossing the 40’s threshold feels a lot like surviving the cultural gauntlet.
YAY! 40! I made it through the worst of the god-awfully unjust, sometimes physically dangerous, power imbalance, sexually toxic, shallow, shaming, social posturing of youthful/beauty/fertility as defined by our culture for women.
I’m not going to lie, crossing the 40-marker felt a lot like winning home base. Whew. SAFE!
I made it through the 20’s and 30’s without getting trapped in a toxic loveless relationship, or held back from my dreams by a lover’s “more important career goals”, or stuck in an backbreaking stressful attempt to say relevant and lovely in order to maintain a sense of value in a paradigm that is catastrophically stacked in favor of the house.
The fabulous part of being 40 is the knowledge that being myself in the ways I want to be, including physically on the outside—I am safe, because I’m no longer culturally expected at 40 to be youthful, beautiful, or childbearing. Now I can come out and not worry about attracting any unwanted attention from the strata of people who are focused on only those parameters. (IE: the dudes who are shopping for arm candy, a womb, a mother, a replacement mother (Oedipus complex?), or a house bunny who will step back and support his dreams and wishes without needs of her own, ALSO women who assess ad judge one another based on all of the above.)
That is not to say there aren’t amazing, secure, phenomenal people out there shopping for legitimate true partnerships. Within true partnerships, negotiations about children and sexual compatibility and so on are all part of the partnership balance. This post is not to say those needs are irrelevant or unimportant. Everything is relevant and important in a true partnership brokerage. (After 40, for women, the discussion around children is more intentional and will have to be explored in a more conscious aware partnership mentality (IE: What options still exists? In the 20-30’s gauntlet, it’s often just assumed, or worse desperate.)
This post is to say, if you happen to be one of the women who has powerful dreams, big visions, desires for “something more than this provincial life,” as Belle would say. If you’re one of the women who believe a person’s ability to be a true partner is more priceless than the sum of culturally defined gender values (male or female) then dating in the middle of the gauntlet years is a nightmare.
This is what I mean by sad and wonderful. Wonderful for my freedom and expression as a woman. Sad for the world we live in to assume 40 is the cultural equivalent of shelved or pastured for the ladies.
I for one, couldn’t be happier about capturing the 40s flag, but I expect this is not the case for many of my sisters. I imagine it’s very discombobulating and hard to hit 40 for women who have defined themselves by any of the metrics society told them were important…only to have the rewards of those values revoked at an arbitrary birthday, or at the first natural appearance of wrinkles.
This brings me to the full circle of this coming out - emerging from the forest... yes, it’s tough to want to put my 40-year old un-moisturized, chubby mug on camera, but this feels like the beginning of a new kind of liberation. A door opening to a freedom and confidence to finally be myself in every possible way.
The clock has finally run out on the social expectation for women to be something for someone else. How utterly delightful!
The really exciting thing is that all sorts of internal stuff has been in the cocoon cooker while I’ve been hibernating, waiting for this new personal spring. I’m bubbling over with all the things I want to try out. Ideas. Yearnings. Desires I wouldn’t let myself tap into until I was in the safe zone. Hungers. Curiosities. Concepts and innovations I’ve been pondering about relationship dynamics, female sexual emancipation, and oh, my, god---the adventures….
I can’t even. There’s so much to explore now that the timing is right. I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life to get here, ready to pop out of my birthday cake and learn a whole new sexy tango.
This series is about the shedding and preparing—but it is by no means the end to a journey. To put it all in perspective, I’m basically packing my luggage for the trip I’ve waited my whole life to embark upon. This nine months will be going through my clothes, choosing my wear, planning for possibilities and explorations, and deciding what to take on this sojourn, and what to leave behind. (Starting with rancid old makeup, right?)
I have no idea where I’ll be going at the end of this series—but with an air of cheerful optimism I can’t help but be excited to see the world from the vantage point of a newly unshackled identity.
On my first public outing since making the effort to come out of the woods, I found myself in a situation that I was unprepared to handle with grace and patience.
I need better tools and dialog to better handle these kinds of interactions.
If you are a non-binary individual, how can I better support you and your needs as a human when I’m confronted with these situations?
How can I improve my dialog and use my platform to be a better ally to you?
You are valuable, beautiful, and worthy just as you are—how do I help push the tide to give you breathing room, and protection?
I’m in a stable ketosis, and down 8 lbs. Got out for a hike with Dakota today. A very much needed escape to the forest. Transitioning on so many levels at once can be overwhelming and strangely emotional. I’m frayed around the edges, snippy, and short on patience. I feel exposed and vulnerable—so it’s taking a lot of energy reserves to keep from wilting.
In this video segment I answer a question from a person I’ve known all my life. He called to ask about being a better partner to his wife. I don’t think I’m the best qualified to answer, but I’ll take a crack at it.
This video is also my second attempt to practice some makeup techniques I’ve been watching on youtube.
OHMYGOD. I have so much to learn about makeup and physical presentation. It’s easy to watch professionals do their makeup—then sit down to try it and self-judge until you’re too scared to try. The first thing that went through my mind was, “Holy shit. Compared to them I’m like a fucking dumpster fire…”
Comparison will always be the thief of joy, right?
So I have to remind myself what the mission is: Find a way to feel strong, presentable, and pulled together so I can stand in front of my books.
I’m not out to be a pageant winner. I’m not out to aim for magazine covers or runway events—I just want to feel strong about standing in front of my work publicly. When put like that—the bar is actually pretty comfortable. A bar I can absolutely achieve in 8.5 months. This is doable with baby steps.
Lastly, I feel like in this it’s important to be as authentic as possible. I want to question beauty, question physical expectations and appearance metrics. Why aren’t we talking about these more? Our societal value on beauty is so epically disproportionate and unrealistic…inhumane, even.
Even as I’ve been watching the videos on Youtube to get ideas on how I’m supposed to be doing this—I’m heartbroken by how many of these amazing, beautiful women are so terrified of aging, of maturing, or of being natural or themselves.
It’s been hard to watch some of these videos. I have a great deal of empathy for the struggle they are forcing themselves through. I decided that this platform is useless if I don’t try to be as honest about my transition process as possible.
People have funny ideas about what writers should look like. I hope my honesty, and my attitude help to dispel any ideas people may have about the glamorous lives of literary grunts. We’re not glamorous. At all. Well, at least I’m not.
It also became apparent that if anyone else is watching these, I need to be finding a balance between beauty/presentation—AND –quality of life, and depth of more meaningful content. So, I’ll work on that.
To that end I decided that for every selfie I post with makeup/filter/lighting trick etc. I will also post an un-doctored raw, makeup free selfie. It only seems fair to show both ends of the spectrum. If we humans are made of multitudes—that includes our sweaty, unwashed, unadorned faces.
My transition is not going to be pretty, or even sexy. Far from it, it’s an adventure and an exploration.
In the meantime, #questionbeauty #challengestandards #wreckexpectations #freeyourself #chooseyourstory #trustyourstory #bringjusticetoyourstory
Made it into a state of ketosis. Whew. The first week of transitions are always rough. Ugh.
It’s hard to start new, vulnerable ventures in public. Being willing to suck at something, being willing to show your most unattractive, bared, naked face –no filters or lighting tricks, dry skin, wrinkles and so on is not easy. To do it publicly is doubly difficult.
As a culture we have such an unhealthy correlation with aesthetic beauty/youth and the concept of personal value in relation to beauty/youth perceptions.
As a culture we are unhealthily obsessed with the unrealistic expectation of perfection.
To intentionally put your ugly face forward seems like inviting people to label you as “low value”. That’s okay. Let them. It weeds out the riffraff.
We also have a cultural inability to recognize the uselessness of unsolicited criticism or other people’s personal projections. That’s not to say some criticisms aren’t worth hearing, noting or taking into consideration—BUT being capable of separating RELEVANT truth in relation to your personal mastery and desires versus IRRELEVANT external opinions. Well, that comes down to practice, and cultivating the kind of community you can trust, whose truths are significant.
Regarding my body shape I rely on the truth and opinions of exactly two people outside myself; my doctor and my trainer. No one else’s opinion of my diet or exercise routine, or my size/weight/shape/jiggle/or sleekness/tone/strength actually has merit. Not even my lover’s opinions get to have import regarding my physical shape.
People offer their opinions, good or bad, or neutral—but I blink, say thank you, and promptly dismiss it. If my TRAINER says, “I don’t like this routine/diet you’re on.” Then I listen, adjust, and change course accordingly.
I’ve spent several decades wearing every size from 4-18. Up and down. Muscles and body building. Lean down to a competitive swimmer/fencer physique, puff up to hide myself with fat, lean down to pose for pinups, puff up to hide from gross pinup feedback, lean down to sculpt and compete with weights, puff up to hide from unwanted attention, etc. and so forth. I have hidden in plain sight by putting on chunk quite comfortably for several yo-yo rounds. I can swing a seven-dress-size-spectrum when I’m shifting, hiding, or re-emerging after a cocooning. For reference, seven dress sizes is roughly 60 lbs give or take accounting for muscle mass and tone.
I know people who are so afraid of being fat, or ugly, or being perceived as low value that they project those fears onto me, unintentionally. “Are you sure you want to add that much dressing to your salad? Dressing is really fattening, and well…” Or “If you just tried to wear some makeup, or try to look nice, you might find a boyfriend…”
Those folks are the kind of people who rely on visual aesthetic power and value. It’s hard sometimes not to let a barb hook and sting—but the truth is, I’m never going to be one of those people who cares that much about the visual power of appearance. It’s illusory. It’s pretty and fun, but not an anchor point to my identity. I connect with a completely different sense of power and value.
And when one of those barbs does occasionally wing, I remind myself that my appearance, or lack of, has been my choice. I’ll step out when I’m ready and not a moment sooner. (Woe to the poor fool who tries to drag me out of my comfy nest before I’m ready. That’s a sure way to get a face scratched off. Ever try dragging a barn cat out from a haystack? Not a good idea.)
AND when I’m ready to tuck back into a cocoon and rest, rejuvenate, and grow comfortably fluffy—I will do exactly that. On my terms. When I feel like it, regardless of what anyone else thinks or wants my body to look like.
So accounting for these seasonal shifts in my body shape I’ve gotten pretty good at packing on quickly, and dropping quickly. It takes roughly 8 months to drop a full 60lb, and another month to gain 5-7 back in muscle and tone. The routine is simple; strict, but simple. It’s just math, and focus. Then nine months later, give or take a couple of weeks—I’m out of the cocoon. This is the body type I like to wear, and feel most comfortable, energetic, and flexible in. It may still never meet the standards of physical beauty or aesthetics according to popular culture—but those metrics are irrelevant to my sense of being in my skin comfortably. (I usually end up happily at a 7/8)
Losing the mass is not the hard part. The hard part for me, personally, is how do I navigate new interactions without my puffy camouflage. It’s like being naked in school. It’s vulnerable and distracting. So distracting that it breaks my focus on other more important work. To be successful I need to mitigate the distractions, and discomfort by putting in guardrails and boundaries.
Because, remember? I’m on a mission and I’ve got work to do. Work I deeply care about. Distractions are annoying, and I do get irritable when I’m prevented from my target or focus. Stopping to answer questions about my body, weight loss routine, etc. is to say it as gently as I can—tedious and aggravating. Because quite simply my mind can’t comprehend WHY my body shape is important to anyone else, even as a desire to know how to achieve similar results. My body is mine, and I’m not interested in talking about it with people who are potentially caught in the old paradigm of physical value. My shape, or size is not a relevant conversation OR an invited topic outside this channel and series. This respectful boundary will allow me to feel more secure and comfortable while dealing with the emotional and mental shifts needed to un-wrap the old baggage and slip into a new skin.
I often find myself flabbergasted in interactions after coming out of a cocoon, when someone has a chance to ask me literally anything they want to know about me, and they want to know what I ate to lose weight. Really?
This is partly why I was so excited this time around to make it into a video and blog. I will just refer people to the documentary material, and move on. The topic is covered here, so I don’t have to revisit it again.
To re-iterate: Body shape, weight comments and questions—ONLY ON THIS SITE. If you want a writeup of my routine, email me through the comment box and I’ll send you a statement.
Questions and comments about: hair, makeup, beauty routines, fashion choices (of which mine are pretty lame) or products—YES. Open for discussion and feedback.
Other topics of a sexual nature, or gender related, or societal need to stay on point to the current blog or video. Keep relevant.
All that being said, I do hope this adventure will be fun, engaging and connective. Welcome to the big break out.