Life Update

17 Months on T

Top Surgery:

Last week, I hit my 3 months post op mark. I’m feeling really good about my results. I’ve got all my mobility and range of motion back. For anyone that is worried about their outcomes/swellings immediately after surgery, I can say that it does get better. I was worried for a while about whether my swelling would go away on its own, and it did for me. Now, I think I just get to play the waiting game of the scars to fade. I ran out of Kelo-cote, so I’ve just been massaging the scars with some Eucerin lotion.

I’ve recovered from my time off due to surgery and have even set some personal records as far as my workouts go. It feels good to be back into it and know that I’m getting stronger and faster than I was before.

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11 days post op vs 3 months post op

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Face:

I haven’t done an update of my face/facial hair in a while. My beard is definitely filling in along the jaw line, and I’m getting hairs on my cheeks sprinkled about my face. It’s really hard to get good comparison photos, by the way. I tend to give people crap in my head for people who post comparison photos where they look nothing alike, but after trying to take photos for an hour or so that are like a photo that I’ve taken at earlier dates, I take back all the crap that I give, even if it is only in my head. Anyway, it’ll be nice to see what happens in another 9 months or so.

8.5 months on T vs. 17 months on T

8.5 months on T vs. 17 months on T

Life:

Last week, I had my last therapy session. My student insurance will be ending this weekend, and honestly, my therapist and I both agreed that I don’t really need it anymore. The real reason I even started going was so that I could get a letter for my top surgery. I will admit though, it was nice to have someone to talk to on a regular basis about my anxieties regarding transitioning. I have never had doubts about transitioning, but I have had anxieties about it, mostly dealing with the people/social aspects of transitioning: who to come out to, when to come out, which bathrooms to use, etc. Despite the difficulties and awkward situations, transitioning is the best thing I could have ever done for myself. For so long (basically my whole life), I could not figure out why I was unhappy. I used to think that I didn’t have a reason to be unhappy, so maybe I was just damaged in some way and would be unhappy forever. Don’t get my wrong, I still have my ups and downs, but overall I’m happy with my life and myself. Transitioning doesn’t fix everything, or maybe it doesn’t even fix anything, but it allows you to be who you believe you are. When you get that out of the way, it allows you to tackle the other things in your life. Anyway, I’m able to go back to therapy if I like at a later time. I also mentioned that in the future I may want to have bottom surgery, and my therapist is happy to see me if that’s the case in the future.

I’m currently looking for jobs. I’ve only been doing it about 30-40% effort so far. I’ve been working my student position through the summer part-time, but that position is ending for me as of tomorrow. So, starting next week, I’ll be doing the job hunt thing full time. I’ve put in between 25-30 applications so far. I’ve only heard back from three of them, and they were all messages saying they would be pursuing candidates that better match the skills/qualifications they are looking for. In all honesty, I was applying for jobs that I didn’t quite meet the qualifications for because it was in the industry that I thought I wanted to be in. I was applying for biotech jobs, but I’ve expanded my search to work in materials science as well. I am definitely learning from the experience. I’ve begun reaching out to people who I know that were in the industries that I want to be in, asking for advice and such. We’ll see what comes of that. I’m also thinking about hitting up some job fair or networking events. I’ve been looking at some defense contractors where my military experience would be an advantage for me. The only thing that makes me nervous about that is my DD-214 has my old name on it. Technically, they’re not supposed to discriminate based on gender identity, but it still makes me kind of anxious.

Anyway, hopefully something comes up soon on the job front. It does give me more time to work out and take care of myself until I do find a job, at least.

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3 days until top surgery!

I am just 3 days away from top surgery. Last Thursday, I got blood tests to check for clotting factors. Tomorrow is my pre-op appointment, and Wednesday morning will be when it finally happens.

I was wearing my binder all day today, and it has gotten so tight from mass gains that the hooks on the side stab me every time I take a deep breath. I’m so ready to be done with it. I’m ready to not have to worry about how my chest looks while I’m working out.

It will be nice to not even have to think about it. It will be one less thing I have to worry about.

Speaking of freeing my mind, my time in school has finally come to an end. I have spent nearly a decade in school (seven years to be exact). And except for last summer, I’ve taken summer classes every summer. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to come home and not have to worry about homework assignments, reading, and preparing for exams. What will it be like to do activities that I enjoy without having this nagging feeling that I should be working on school work?

In addition to that, the last year has been awkward for me in the school setting. I only came out to people I felt it was absolutely necessary. Then, I just attempted to avoid any old professors or classmates that weren’t informed of my transition. Needless to say, it made me slightly paranoid anytime I was on campus or in an area where someone might know the “old” me. I’m glad that I won’t be in that environment anymore. It was definitely wearing me down mentally.

I’m ready to begin my recovery and spend my time looking for jobs and enjoying some much needed free time.

Whole30 Complete!

Yesterday was the last day of the Whole30. It was a really good experience. I am so glad I did this with my gym. I tried to do a Whole30 on my own a few months ago, and I ended up quitting after about 5 days. It was really great having that support system from all the other people doing it at the same time.

I cooked a lot of food this month. I made sweet potatoes for the first time ever. They are probably one of my favorite things to eat now. I will definitely continue eating paleo after the end of this. I’m in the reintroduction phase now. Today, I added dairy in the form of heavy cream with my tea, a small glass of milk with my lunch, and some yogurt with fruit after dinner. I have kept a close watch on how my body reacts to these things today and will continue to do so for the next two days. After that, I’ll add in other things that I think I may want to eat occasionally like rice, soy, and beer.

Overall, I would definitely recommend doing this to anyone who wants to have a better relationship with food. It really makes you think about your food choices and your cravings. You really learn what your triggers are. In addition to that, there are a lot of other health benefits that you could experience. I talked about some of the things I noticed that have improved due to eating better. (My experience with the Whole30)

In addition to the health benefits I experienced, I made a separate post about my weight loss/fat loss and muscle gain. I wanted to keep these separate because I didn’t want to take away from all the benefits I saw just in case there wasn’t a change in body composition. (Photos and measurements post-Whole30)

And last, but not least, we did a workout before we started the Whole30. Today, we repeated that workout so that we could see how our performance improved. I blew my time out of the water. I was really happy about this. In addition to that, I hit 5 PRs during the Whole30. (Test workout)

I really hope I don’t fall too far off the bandwagon now that I can eat whatever I want again. I saw such great results. I hope to keep moving in the right direction.

Battle with the Scale

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always considered myself overweight. I was always a little “chubby.”

My obsession with attaining a certain number on the scale didn’t start until I joined the Marine Corps though. One of the first things that happens when you talk to a recruiter is they pull a scale out and weigh you. In my case, I was 7 or 8 pounds over my max allowed for me height. This should have been okay since I had a few months before I’d be heading out to boot camp. I could easily lose that weight with a bit of exercise and eating. (Note: I ate atrociously as a child/teenager).

However, one day, I was at home playing on my computer, and the phone rang. It was my recruiter. He asked me if I wanted to leave in two days. I wasn’t doing anything, and I wanted to get out of my house. I jumped on the opportunity. I was still overweight though. For the next two days, I ate next to nothing and sipped on water to “quench” my thirst. My recruiter took me to the gym to exercise (i.e. do lots of cardio) and sit in the sauna. I remember wearing plastic bags underneath sweat pants and shirts to lose as much water as possible. At the time, I didn’t know any better. I just did whatever my recruiter said. I managed to squeak by for my weigh-in at MEPS.

For the next five years, I struggled with the number that appeared on the scale. For every weigh-in, I stressed about what the number would be. In the Marine Corps, there were harsh repercussions to being even a pound or two over your max weight. If you were over, they would then pull out a tape measure and measure the circumference of your neck, waist, and hips if you were female, and your neck and waist if you were male. These measurements, along with your height, were plugged into a formula, and out popped your body fat percentage. Anyone who had to go through these knows that they are horribly inaccurate, especially for females who have what would be called “child-bearing hips.” For me, if I had to get tape measured, there was no hope of passing.

I would do everything in my power to make weight. I would not eat, drink fluids (or drink very little), and exercise for the days leading up to a weigh-in, sometimes even a week before depending on how far away I was from making weight. Despite my efforts, I’d sometimes be over my weight. I got punished by having to do two PTs a day, one in the morning with the “fat bodies” and then again in the afternoon with my platoon. I’d get talked to about going on calorie restricted diets. I’d get yelled at, made to feel ashamed because I was two pounds overweight. I took supplements that were supposed to burn fat. I obsessed. It had a huge psychological impact on my sense of self worth.

In the years after I got out of the Marine Corps, it still affected me. I still obsessed about my weight. I went up to 160 pounds and freaked out. I fluctuated a bit, but then finally ended up settling at around 145 pounds. This was an okay weight for me; it was only 3 pounds over my max as if I were still in the Marine Corps.

Then, I began taking testosterone. Within three months, I gained 15-20 pounds. But, this didn’t have the same psychological effect it would have had in the past. I saw my body composition change. As I put on more weight, I saw my body become more muscular. But even then, I still wished I could weigh less, but not because I wanted the number to go down, but because I wanted to lose the fat that I had before I started transitioning.

I think testosterone has broken a lot of the negative associations I’ve had with the number that appears on my scale, but I’d like to break away from relying on my scale as a measure of self-worth at all. It still nags at me from time to time. Last weekend, Stephanie from stupideasypaleo.com came to my gym and talked about nutrition. Later that night, she posted an article about how to love yourself instantly (which basically involves throwing out your scale). I’ve known for a long time that the number I see on the scale doesn’t reflect anything about my health, but I’ve never been able to take that step of throwing out my scale.

Starting tomorrow, I will begin the Whole30 challenge. I measured my weight this morning, and I will measure my weight again at the end of the challenge. I’m hoping by doing this, I will finally be able to convince myself that it reflects nothing about how I look or feel and especially not about my value as a person.

I started a blog on Tumblr to kind of document my Whole30 experience to not flood this blog with complaining about how I want to eat a certain food but can’t, etc. Please check it out if you get a chance!

9 months on T!

I can’t believe it has been 9 months already. Time is both flying by and crawling along. From the perspective of time I’ve been on testosterone, time has flown by; on the other hand, as I wait for top surgery, it’s crawling.

First thing’s first…

20140125 Back

20140125 Body

20140125 Body

Transition update:

More hair. I think my facial hair, at least the side burns, are even becoming visible in these photos now. I’ve noticed some hairs sprouting up on my cheeks now too. My butt is completely covered in hair. And I’ve noticed the last month or so that I’m getting hair on my chest and stomach area.

I’m starting to get a little acne on my back. You can see it in the photo posted above. It’s not much, but I’ve never had acne on my back. There’s also a little on my shoulders and chest. Acne on my face is a given, but I don’t think it’s gotten worse since it started.

I’m still getting more muscular or at least stronger. I got a new front squat PR this month, and I’m inching my way to my first pull up.

I am getting a blood test done at the beginning of next month to check my T and E levels. I haven’t felt any noticeable changes from reducing my dosage as far as appetite, sex drive, or mood. In fact, I feel like hair has been coming in faster since I cut my dosage in half. It’s hard to tell though.

Fat distribution… well, I still have hips. If you saw my last post, Fashion Fail, my shirts (and pants) still don’t fit the way that I would like. Though, my shoulders have definitely gotten broader, so it feels like I’m getting less curvy. I don’t know. I think I’m just going to be one of those guys cursed with wide hips.

Life update:

My gym is putting on a friendly Whole30 competition starting February 1st. This will mean a couple of dietary changes for me: no lattes from Starbucks, no rice, no protein powder, no milk, and probably a couple of other minor things. In theory, this should be like a reset for my body. It should make it less dependent on sugar and better able to burn fat. I’m hoping this will set me on my way to getting the body composition that I want. Right now, I’m shooting for 15% body fat.

In addition to the Whole30, I’ll be participating in another CrossFit competition, Battle at the Barracks. This time it’s a team competition. Teams will be composed of two males and two females. The workouts haven’t been posted yet, but listed among the movements is pull-ups. It makes me slightly anxious since I still haven’t gotten my first pull-up yet. But, I see it as incentive to work harder towards them. Plus, I have the additional encouragement from my teammates depending on me to get at least one for the competition. I’ve read a billion (okay, not really, but a few) articles on how to progress to getting a pull-up. Now, all I have to do is implement my plan.

School is rolling along. Monday is the beginning of week 4, and I have my first midterm already. Good news is this my second to last quarter. I suppose I should begin looking for jobs soon. I’m not really sure how I will approach professors for reference letters. I have only come out to one of my professors (who is also the PI of the lab I work in) so far… so I’ll probably need to get on that too. I hate having to figure out how to tell people about my identity, but it’s something that has to be done.

Overall though, I’m happy with how things are coming along.

New Year, New Goals

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions; however, I do have some goals I’d like to accomplish this year. They are mostly CrossFit/fitness related since it is the only thing I can really make solid, realistic goals. I’ll start with the non fitness related goals though.

  • Complete my Master’s degree (this is pretty much inevitable unless I fail a class or the comprehensive exam)
  • Begin the adoption process (we are currently saving money)
  • Post more on WordPress! (I want to post on a more regular schedule, in addition to my monthly updates)
  • Become more involved in the trans*community (In fact, I went to a transgender retreat over the weekend which I will write about in detail soon!)
  • Top surgery! (My date is set for June 18th!)

Fitness goals:

  • Do a handstand push-up
  • Do a pull-up
  • Do 10 unbroken double unders
  • Do one overhead squat at any weight
  • Increase the all of my lifts by at least 50%

I think these are pretty reasonable goals. As I accomplish my goals, I will make updates to my goals list. I hope that everyone’s year is off to a good start.

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Harry in the Christmas spirit (for 10 seconds)

 

Reindeer Games Complete

Yesterday was my first CrossFit competition. Yes, I said first, I do intend to compete more. Even though I came in last place (someone had to, I suppose),  I learned so much from this event. It does’t matter to me what place I came in, I did better than I have done in any of the practice sessions we had which is all that I could ask for. When I first signed up, I didn’t want to be that person that was in last, but as workouts got released, I saw how difficult all of it would be for me. I considered dropping out and found myself wishing I had just signed up as a beginner female, but I pushed through the self doubt. I’m proud of myself and all the others who competed who really pushed themselves.

(On a side note: I got correctly gendered all day. It’s the most I’ve heard people say man, bro, or dude to me in one day. It was something I wasn’t even thinking about or expected, so it was really nice.)

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A picture of our team and supporters after most of us had finished competing.

Note: This is a really long post and probably not terribly exciting to anyone except myself. =) Reader beware. If you want to see the conclusion, skip to the end.

I woke up the yesterday morning feeling pretty tired. I didn’t sleep well the night before, lots of tossing and turning. I packed my bag the previous night, so all I had to do was make myself some breakfast, take the pup out for a walk, and then I was out the door. I showed up and met up with my gym at their tent. It was a chilly morning for San Diego, but everyone was pretty cheerful and excited to be there. I got my score sheet. They hadn’t released the first workout, but there it was in my hands. It was a workout with a 5 minute time cap consisting of Shoulder to Overhead and Situps for 21, 15, and 9 reps, alternating between the two exercises (21 S2OH, 21 situps, 15 S2OH, etc.). The weight for the shoulder to overhead was pretty heavy for me (about 80% of my max). They lined us up to move to the workout floor. I was in the second heat, so we stood there watching the guys fly through the workout. Most finished in 2-3 minutes. Next, we were up. I stood in front of my bar. There were a ton of people from my gym cheering us on (and others from other gyms). There were probably over 200 people there, but once the time started, I only noticed the one of the coaches from my gym standing in front of me and the person keeping my score. I picked up the bar and cleaned it to my shoulders. I pushed it above my head a few times. The rest of the 21 were a real struggle for me. I had to drop my bar a few times and shake out my arms. It took me maybe 3 minute to get through the first set. I had to earn each one. I flew through the situps and then went back to my bar. I picked it up. I got one rep. The next, I just couldn’t push enough to get my arms completely straight. I managed to get 3 more before time was called. After that, all my competition jitters pretty much passed. I knew that the best I could do was to outperform my previous performances and not worry about anyone else. I managed to push out 25 reps at 80% max when we typically only do 2-3 reps at that high of a percentage of our maxes. I left pretty disappointed, but everyone congratulated me for my performance. I went back to the tent to grab some food, and then watched others from our gym compete.

I knew the next workout was going to be the toughest part of the competition for me. It was a front squat ladder starting at 95#, increasing by 10# increments, and ending at 185#. I knew the front squats weren’t going to be too bad for me. I had been working on getting the full range of motion in my squats since I started, and my max from about a week ago was 138. However, getting the bar up to position from the ground would be tough. In practice, I had only been able to get a 95# clean and 100# was just too much. I went in, I cleaned 95# easily and busted out the two front squats with no problem. Next was 105#. I went up, attempted the clean 3 times. Each time I got slightly closer, but just was not able to get the bar to my shoulders, so I was out. My last attempt, I actually had pulled the bar all the way up to my shoulders, but wasn’t able to get my elbows rotated in position fast enough. After that, I knew I wanted to do more weightlifting in the gym. It was slightly disappointing, but I wasn’t expecting to do this event very well. I watched the rest of the guys breeze through this event. Of course, some had a distinct advantage being at least twice my size. Everyone from our gym did so well, it was great to see.

During this event, it had gotten colder outside and started to rain. One of the few times it rains here, it had to be this day. It was a bit of a struggle to stay warm. Despite this, everyone was still in good spirits. There was lots of smiles and laughter as we waited for the final heats to be announced.

The last workout was up, and I was in the first group to go. We practiced this workout two weeks ago in the gym. I wasn’t able to complete it in the time allotted in practice. I went in just hoping that I would be able to do better than I did in practice. This was a workout referred to as a “chipper” because there are so many movements and reps of each that you basically have to chip away at it to get through it.

Beginner: 12min time cap

  • 100 Single Unders
  • 20 Deadlifts 155#
  • 40 Goblet Squats 30#
  • 20 Burpee Step-ups 20″
  • 20 Alt. Dumbbell Snatches 30#
  • 20 Jumping Pull-ups

The weights used for this weren’t terribly high, except for the deadlift which was 75% of my max, and there were 20 of them. This part slowed me down in practice. I had to break it up into very small chunks, 3-5 at a time. I knew this workout would be hard, but it was the one I felt the best about, despite not finishing it in practice. I think I made it to about 3 pullups.

As we began, I made it through the single unders nearly unbroken. My rope hit someone else’s rope once which kind of tripped me up. Next was onto the deadlifts. I pushed out 10 unbroken. I don’t even know how. Then, I broke up the last 10 into 2 sets of 5. I don’t even know how I made it through the rest. I just kept going one rep after another. Only taking a second or two of rest every once in a while to catch my breath. In the blur, I finished the workout in 11:31. That was way better than I did in practice. I was pretty exciting even though I was the last one to finish.

The end:

Overall, I am so glad that I competed even though there were times when I just wanted to quit. I didn’t want to go out there and be the weakest guy. I didn’t want to embarrass myself, but every day I went to the gym to workout, I got nothing but encouragement from my coaches and other people in the gym. At the end of the day, I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish as my training continues. I think I did the best that I could given that I’ve only been on T now for 7.5 months and have only been training for 3.5 months. I’ve already made so much progress in such a short amount of time. When I started doing CrossFit, all I cared about was getting a more masculine build, but now all I can think about is performing better (though, a side effect of that is that I look better too). Another side effect is becoming part of a community. I feel like this is where I belong, and I can’t say that I’ve felt that way in a long time. I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

(Another side note: I wasn’t out to my gym except for the one coach/owner, but now I’m at least out to the people who competed and showed up in support. No one questioned why I was competing with the males or anything, so it was nice.)

Now, it’s time for me to study for my finals this week and write a review paper.