I Amuse Myself

I sit here, by myself, at my computer.  I’m watching videos (in this case ‘Arrow’) which has a very cute, very able young guy.  In-and-of-itself that’s good.  But what’s really good…I can have fun all by myself.  I enjoy hanging with other people.  But, really, I can enjoy myself.

I can talk to the video.  I can make comments.  And I can laugh.  I feel like I’ve felt guilty for a long time about just wanting to be myself.  That seems wrong.  And I don’t want to be myself ALL the time.  But a lot of the time?  Yeah, I like it.  In fact, I’d like more time by myself so I can do all the kinds of things I want to do.  Or, at least, try the things I think I want to do.

So perhaps I don’t need purpose.  I don’t need meaning.  For right now, I just need to amuse myself.  Enjoy myself.

So there.

Rage, rage, rage

The time is now.  The time is always now.Age is an illusion.  Who knows how much time they have left? There is no reason to stop, to give up, to abandon oneself. But it’s only you that can find your way. Your path, your journey is yours alone.

Things will change. Sure. But you can fight and, in the fight,  re-find your true self over and over. Letting others, even the other within ourselves, deny us, Rob us of that continued engagement with life is wrong headed. It is not others that define us. It is always, ultimately just ourselves.

I don’t know yet how to renew my zest but I know I can and I must.  I chastise others for looking outside themselves for their happiness, for their path…it’s time for me to take my own advice. So what if I have fears, pains, changes in mind and body? I’m still here. I can still matter. And that’s what I’m going to do.

Rage against my own latitude.  My own willingness to waste the little time we’re granted. Waste the gifts were given. Because there’s no purpose? Meaning? Destiny? Here. Now. Has to be enough.

You just don’t know what will happen next.  It’s not just true when considering what kind of trade or position but it’s a helpful metaphor.

The important thing, I currently think, is to remember that you’re just trying to get a sense of a market (a stock, future, whatever).  There’s no “predicting” there’s just guessing with some degree of probability.  

There’s no need to trade anything, anytime.You’re looking for a “good” trade for the market at that time.  You look at the market, watch it and learn to “feel” what’s going on.  That push and pull between buyers and sellers.

Why not?

I find myself having lots of judging thought.  You know. “You’re too old to do that.”  “No one wants to hear what you have to say.” “Your not ‘as good’ as…”  Like that.  But then I have to pause and really question that.  Why not do what I “want?”  Why not just try stuff even though you’re above a certain age.  If I’m not going to have fun, explore, push the envelope now…well, when?  Time no longer spreads infinitely before me.  And, even leaving aside the actual moment of death there’s the whole getting to death.  Sure I picture staying more-or-less the same into a “delightfully cranky” old age.  But who knows what that journey is going to be like?  Why not?  Why not embrace that experience.  Isn’t all that all there is really?

Sometimes I enjoy just playing solitaire and sort of watching video.  Is that bad?  Wrong?  Or, is it better to explore that.  Sometimes I enjoy doing learning activities like learning a software related thing, or an art thing, or actually doing something artsy.  Sometimes I just want to zone out.  But I’m learning myself.  But I’m limited by what I can see right now.

Thanks to the prompting of a reader I am finally getting around to posting about my progress with hormone optimization and the other recommendations made by Cenegenics.

In short, things are great.   I am taking supplements and hormones that I believe are making a significant difference.  Based on the dietary recommendations I am closely following a low-glycemic eating plan and have lost 11 pounds in the first 4 weeks!  Also based on the recommendation of the nutritionist/trainer I am exercising 4 times per week…a big change for me.  I do interval training twice a week and high intensity resistance training twice a week with some cardio.  My perceived fitness has improved a lot.  I can tell in my daily life as well during workouts that my cardiovascular capability is improving and I’m definitely stronger.  I just feel more comfortable in my body.

Of course, since I’ve change three significant things (supplements, diet and exercise) it is difficult to ascribe which of these is the thing that’s making feel lots, lots better.  While I can see very direct evidence that the diet and exercise components are making a huge difference it’s harder to discern the effect of the supplements so directly.  Most of what I’m taking are specific vitamins and such along with some hormonal supplementation (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid).

The personal coaching from “my” nutritionist has been phenomenal.  I send her a daily journal of my food intake everyday along with a personal journal of my feelings, thoughts, observations.  She always responds with encouragement and, when necessary, suggestions for modifications to what I’m doing.

Both the doctor and nutritionist are very responsive to my questions.  The doctor has made several adjustments and even prescribed, through my pharmacy, a topical anti-inflammatory gel that has really helped some tendinitis that I have experienced.  They both have assured me that this is just the beginning and that my full result…my “optimum” result…will take 9-12 months so I should just continue to feel better and better.

I certainly feel younger. I feel more alert, my concentration and focus are great.  And I continue to feel better week by week.

The only real drawback to Cenegenics is cost.  It’s (for me) an expensive proposition to pay for the supplements and their monthly fee.  My current feeling is that I will continue through my next blood panel and see what, if any, adjustments they recommend.  At that point I may have to evaluate whether to continue with them or try to find alternatives.

The on

After stopping the melatonin I am now feeling fantastic!  The first day after stopping the melatonin I woke up feeling different.  More energized and just really good. Since then (it’s actually only 4 days) I’ve continued to feel great.

I started my interval training on Wednesday.  As Jen recommended I got on the elliptical machine and (finally) have a use for my interval timer.  I set the intervals to 20 seconds/45 seconds.  I did a 5 minute warm-up then a cycle of 20 seconds high intensity (amped up the resistance and my speed)/45 seconds low intensity for three cycles.  Then 2 minutes of low intensity.  Rinse-and-repeat for 30 minutes.  I actually really enjoyed it.  You have to focus to kind of keep track of what you’re doing so it kind of takes your mind of the boredom of being on a machine.  I felt awesome afterwards.  Really energized and good.  I don’t remember every quite feeling that way after a workout…so cool.

I’ve since done one session of high-intensity resistance traning with some cardio and another session of interval training…this time running.  The running was fun too and again the interval thing made it more enjoyable for me.  For the high intensity part I tried to sprint as hard as I could (although Jen wanted me to keep my heart heart in a certain zone…really not a problem since I can’t really sprint that fast…yet).  Again I felt really excellent afterwards and still felt quite good for the rest of the day.  The kids were over with the grandkids and I had plenty of energy to plan and run around.  So much better!

I know that I am often very optimistic and kind of high at the beginning of things.  I really want to make a significant change in my life not just my weight.  I’m finding this whole combination of exercise, diet (which is working great too.  I’ll blog about separatetly) and supplements to already have made me feel lots better.  After I asked the doctor she indicated that it could take 9-12 months to get a “full” result.  I can’t wait to see what that’s going to feel like!

I’m now in week two of my Cenegenics directed hormone and supplement plan.  I have to say I’m now feeling pretty good.  I’m over my cold or allergies or whatever they were and, generally speaking, am feeling quite good.  Hard to know if it’s placebo effect or reality.  But does that really matter ultimately?  How you feel is the real measure.

Due the festivities around my mom’s 90th birthday this past weekend I’ve been pretty stressed and between that and the cold haven’t really worked out much.  My husband, daughter and I took a look walk in the canyon with lots of hills.  I felt strong (although a little cardio challenged occassionally) and enjoyed it.

I was planning on starting some interval training (as advised by Jen, my Cenegenics fitness trainer/nutritionist).  However, when I pulled into my driveway I felt so sleepy I thought “I’ll just close my eyes for a sec.”  Next thing I knew I was sound asleep and woke up (with my mouth hanging up…ick) about 15 minutes later.  That was a bit weird for me.  One of the things I hope to get from this program is increased energy but I’m not usually SO sleepy that I actually fall asleep.  Something similar happened the next day.  Late afternoon and I almost dropped off during a (boring) meeting.  Not like me.  I contacted my Cenegenics doctor and Jen.  The doctor advised that I stop taking my nighttime Melatonin (3 mg) and see if that’s what causing the sleepiness.  I’ll try that tonight although I will say I feel like I’ve been sleeping MUCH better but I’m taking so many things it’s hard to know what to attribute for that.

Also, I’ve been reading this really excellent book, The Power of Habits, about habits…how we get them and how to change them.  The book has some really interesting insights into how the brain forms habits and how one might influence that unconscious process to change one’s habits.  I definitely feel that’s what I need.  The book talks about the notion of “cues” that trigger an unconscious response.  For example, I noticed that as soon as I see food on a counter at home I feel an urge to have some.  I’m not hungry and, prior to seeing the thing, didn’t feel like eating.  As a result, I’ve resolved to keep things put away to avoid this “cue.”

I’m also thinking it’s important to take the notion of goals seriously.  In the past, I’ve made “committments” to doing things (exercise, eating better, etc.) but they were easily ignored.  The weren’t “real” commitments…more vague aspirations I suppose.  Realizing this here are my goals for the next two weeks:

  • Interval training – minimum twice/week
  • Strength training – 2/week
  • Journal all food consumption
  • Do some art thing every day (draw, paint, plan a project, sew something, practice quilting)

I don’t want to make too many commitments.  But these should be a good start.  I’ll try to post progress about them to help me keep them in the forefront of my mind and establish these things as routines.

I received my first shipment from Cenegenics of the various hormone replacements and supplements two days after my visit there.  It’s a LOT of stuff.  My Cenegenics doctor, Dr. Mayweather, sent me my schedule for taking them and the specific things they were addressing.

It was really nice when I sent her an email with a couple of questions and I got an immediate response.  I’ve gotten so used to the medical care system as it exists that it was a wonderful surprise.

I’m working on my “system” of remembering to take everything at the right time.  I have one pill that I’m supposed to take on an empty stomach without food.  So I put the bottle next to my toothbrush.  I have two creams that I’m to use in the morning so they’re on the bathroom counter with my other lotions and potions.  I have a pill case at my bedside and that’s where I put the things I’m supposed to take at bedtime.  Then there’s two packets plus four other things I’m supposed to take in the morning with food so I grabbed them this morning to have with my breakfast shake.  Another two packets and one pill at lunch or dinner time.  Phew!

I went there last Monday and today is Sunday.  It’s been a kind of stressful time since I was fighting lots of congestion (which I thought was a cold but am now pretty sure was allergies…Zyrtec seems to have done the trick).  My mother turned 90 and I made a celebration weekend for her.  I brought all my (3) kids into town plus my cousin flew down from Seattle.  I split the visits into two days so my mother wouldn’t be too overwhelmed.  Unfortunately, my mother’s mental condition continues to decline and combined with her lifelong emotional and personality issues…well, it’s not pretty.  She was able to pull it together for the “parties” but there was a LOT of upset and confusion before and after.

Even so, I maintained my diet and supplements.  I have lost FIVE POUNDS since Monday.  I don’t think I’ve ever lost that much weight in a week.  Obviously, I don’t expect to keep losing at that rate but it’s nice to see the scale move down for a change.

It’s hard to know if the supplements are “working.”  I definitely feel better and I noticed, last night, that I slept better.  When you change diet and take supplements and do some exercise…hard to know what to attribute the “better” feeling to.  There may be a placebo effect for all I know…that just taking them and believing they make a difference..they make a difference.

So…we’ll see.  The journey begins.

I had my Cenege…

I had my Cenegenics day yesterday at their Beverley Hills center.  My appointment was at the ungodly hour of 7AM. When I protested the time…yes, I can be that whiney…the very helpful Brandi said they could try but that traffic starts getting bad pretty early.  I opted to keep the early appointment and drove up to my son’s house Sunday night.  We had a lovely visit and I retired to their guest room with a blow up bed.  Not the most comfortable night’s sleep…I turned in early (since I had to get up so early).  The cats were quite annoyed that I had the temerity to lock them out of the room…and proceeded to periodically rattle the door all night.


Headed through the deserted LA streets at 6:30AM and arrived in plenty of time.  I was greeted by the delightful Jen, “my” fitness and nutrition coach.  Jen took me in hand and we started the day.

First Jen showed me a video made by one of the Cenegenics doctors.  It was actually an excellent explanation of how insulin works in the body and the general ideas of metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance.  He clearly laid out how a low glycemic diet can really address the ills of glucose and insulin surges.

Next Jen did the usual blood pressure, pulse thing.  Then a full body scan.  You lay on a machine that has an arm that hangs over the table and moves over you calculating your bone density, muscle mass, body fat and skeletal mass.  Jen is friendly and high energy which really helped keeping me involved and moving forward.

Next came the fitness test.  Height and weight (yikes!).  Then Jen had me jump on a stationary bike, put on a heart monitor and a VO2 mask.  The machine the mask is attached to calculates your bodies ability to use oxygen and perform.  You have to keep peddling in a certain range and the machine increases the resistance every 3 minutes until you give up.  I gave up earlier than I would have hoped.  My legs were SO tired.  What a wimp I am.

Then Jen had me a do a variety of physical things:  push-ups, plank, crunches.  The only thing I did pretty good on were the pushups.  Once that ordeal was over Jen set me up to the Cognitive Testing while she crunched my numbers.  The Cognitive Testing was quite straightforward.  It took about 20 minutes.  I felt like it was pretty easy.  Finally…something easy 🙂

Once I finished the test, Jen was finished crunching.  She then spent the next hour or so going over my results.  While it turns out bones are quite light (my skeleton weights 5.5 pounds…there goes my “big bones” excuse) and I have about 90 pounds of muscle the rest of me is, ick, fat.  It was upsetting and disappointing to see how high my body fat percentage is but, at least, I felt like I was trying to address that so skipped any weeping.  She also mentioned that the bone density around my hips showed osteopena (an early indicator of osteoporosis).  Since I already knew about this I wasn’t surprised.

Jen then walked me through the low glycemic diet, figured out how much protein I should have and had lots of advice about meal spacing.  She also recommended adding more cardio-based interval training and explained how that should work.  My current strength training (with the dear hubbie) is fine.  So I’ve committed to adding several days of interval training.  Go me.

Once we made it through that, the doctor came in.  She did a quick physical exam and we talked about my concerns and goals.  She was very warm and approachable.

Then we sat down and went through my blood panel results.  Holy cow.  I am out-of-whack.  The tests showed that my cortisol levels are very high which, apparently, indicates adrenal fatigue.  Since the adrenal glands are responsible for producing all kinds of hormones it’s not good if they’re “tired.”  Other hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) were quite low too.  My glucose and insulin were at the very high end of the normal range…also not good and potentially pre-diabetic.  My cholesterol, surprisingly, was pretty good.  Basically, the blood work showed some pretty significant deficits of various hormones plus DHEA and a few other things including a low T3 thyroid level.  The doctor indicated that my hormone imbalances could account for my weight gain and difficulty in losing weight.  Of course, she recommended the low glycemic diet and interval training (apparently interval training, in particular, is very helpful to reduce fat stores).

She then went through her recommendations for hormone therapy plus other supplements.  Pretty comprehensive list.  Biodentical estrogen (as a cream), progesterone and testosterone (as a cream too).  Multi-vitamin plus a special antioxitive supplement.  DHEA, melatonin (to help my sleep problems) and a few other things.  Cenegenics provides a package that includes most of what the doctor ordered…and then you can add other things that the doctor suggests.  They ship the drugs to you once a month.

It IS pricey.  The package plus the monthly fee is painful.  But I feel that I  piss away plenty of money without any real direction so I signed up!  I should be getting my first shipment tomorrow and we’ll see.

Unfortunately, I seem to have caught a nasty cold while in LA so now I’m snuffling pretty badly and feeling lousy.  I’ll baby myself today and get ready to start tomorrow.  It is a lot of money and I’m still not certain it is “worth” it.  But there’s really only one way to find out.

I’m looking forward to my visit to the LA Cenegenics facility on Monday.  While googling around I saw a suggestion for “cenegenics scam.”  That caught my attention!  Have I been duped?  I was (and still am) worried that I am getting value for the money I’m spending.  The article I read from that search mostly seemed to be saying that Cenegenics is providing supplements and drugs (most notably HGH) that one could get from your own physician.  However, in my experience, my physician is not terribly interested in prescribing tests to address aging issues (like reduced hormonal output) nor is he interested in things like bioidentical drugs (he has me on Premarin).  I’m going to continue to wait-and-see.  I’m pretty sure that the doctor I meet with will prescribe stuff.  After all, I am going there to get help with issues like my energy level, weight loss, etc. and I’m hoping they will have stuff to give me that will help.  I guess, ultimately, there’s only one way to find out.

This, of course, is the problematic side of the internet.  You can find all kinds of information but it’s really hard to know what’s for real, what are just people’s opinions (informed or otherwise) and what is just an expression of a person’s biases.

I’m actually hoping that blogging my experience will help others to know what I experience and whether I feel that I’ve been helped.  I remain optimistic that Cenegenics knows something since they’ve been doing this for 16 years and now have 7 centers around the country.  Seems like you’d have to get something right to be able to sustain and grow that much.  Or, maybe I’m just justifying a significant financial outlay.

I’ll be heading up to LA on Sunday to stay with my son and his girlfriend so that’ll be nice to have a little visit with them.  My appointment is at (ulp!) 7:00AM.  That is freakin’ early for me.  I called to see if they could make it later but was told that it’s a better time to travel as LA traffic gets really wacky later in the morning.  Given my experiences with LA traffic I have no trouble believing that so I kept the 7AM time.  <sigh> And I was hoping for a nice blowout (wine, martinis, food, dessert) before embarking on the New Improved Me journey.  I don’t think I’d enjoy the fitness test and such while being hungover.

In advance of my appointment maybe I should describe (for myself if no one else) what I AM hoping to get by going to Cenegenics.

  • Energy.  I definitely feel that I don’t have the degree of energy that I would like.  I pretty much always have trouble waking up and hauling myself out of bed even when I’ve had a reasonable night’s sleep.  I often start feeling really sleepy in the late afternoon although I get my second wind around 6PM.  I feel like my default state is “tired.”  If you ask me what I want to do, what typically pops into my head is lie around and watch TV.  I don’t, usually do that, but if I’m honest that’s the way I feel.  Like everything is an effort.
  • Weight loss.  I have fought the same 40 pounds or so for a long, long time.  But this past year I’ve picked up a delightful extra 10 pounds.  So, on top of feeling low-energy I’ve got too much of me to drag around.  My weight wreaks havoc with my ability to feel good about myself, my body, my sexiness.  I have tried pretty much every weight loss plan there is.  Most recently I’m doing a low-carb/paleo type thing but my results are dismal.  Very discouraging.
  • Youthful look.  I’m told I look young for my age which is awesome when it happens!  I’m blessed with some good genetics and my skin is relatively unwrinkled and unmarked by age.  (I’ve been religious about the sun and sunscreen for years.)  However, I believe that I could definitely look better.  Obviously, weight loss and more energy would help but I’ll be curious if there are other things I can do.
  • Fitness.  This has become increasingly important to me.  For years, I’ve extolled the virtues of exercise and fitness to my mother (who is turning 90 this month), harangued her about letting herself go and having no muscle tone, etc.  But when I take an honest look at my own efforts…let’s just say they’re lacking.  I’m pretty sure that an improved level of fitness and physical activity would help in lots of ways but particularly with respect to aging.  I’m not sure what they can do for me in this area other than suggest ways for me to workout.  If it were that simple it wouldn’t be a problem for me (or anyone else)…we’d all have rock hard bodies.
  • Mental alertness.  I feel I’m still pretty acute mentally.  I’m a software professional and I haven’t really noticed much change in my ability to focus or execute intellectual tasks.  I do sometimes have to strain to remember a word or an actor’s name…things that rarely happened to me earlier in life.  And it scares the crap out of me when it does happen.  My mother (again…turning 90) was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a couple of years ago.  Her mental decline is quite frightening and sad to witness.  I realize that I am not her.  I have remained mentally engaged, I’m always learning new things, etc. but if there are therapies or programs I can do to maintain or, even increase, my mental capabilities now and into the future…sign me up.

It’s an ambitious list and I know there are no magic bullets.  Whatever the doctor at Cenegenics recommends I’m sure it will require participation on my part (i.e., I can’t just take the recommended drugs and/or supplements and expect a miracle).  And that’s the rub of course.  I have embarked on “programs” before…my follow through record sucks.

If anyone reading this has had experiences they’d like to share I’d love to hear from you!