I thought I would share where I am now and my new Intermittent Fasting (IF) journey.
I’m Shirley Dawson, age 69, retired from 33 years working as a civilian with the FDA. I’m married (to Mel) and we have a big black Giant Schnauzer “Boaz” who is like our 2nd child. We have one daughter who is married with 3 small children and lives in Papua New Guinea on mission as Bible Translators to the Mubami tribes of the western province. I have a step daughter who is married with 3 girls (one married and 2 in college) who lives with her husband in Oklahoma.
I was never overweight in my life until I got pregnant at age 34. I gained lots when I was pregnant and my back went out during my 7th month. It was bad, after my daughter was born, I could not even lift her and put her in her car seat. This was in 1988 and my back has been an issue ever since. I was very active all during my 20’s, playing and coaching both softball and volleyball. But when my back went out I could do none of that. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I think around 2000. I was first just prescribed metformin and then they kept raising the dosage until one day the Doc said just forget this, I’ll have the nurse show you how to inject insulin. So I began to inject insulin. During the following years my dosage of metformin and insulins have been increased several times. I now am prescribed 1000 ? of metformin twice daily, short term Novalog (24 units at each meal), long term Lantus (60 units every night) and Victoza (1.8 every night).
My blood glucose levels (BGL) have never been well controlled. My a1c’s have been as high as 10 and as low as 7.8 I think. I’m used to seen numbers in the 200s, 300s, 400s and even off the scale of my meter.
In addition to my back issues (degenerative discs) I have a blood disorder where my bone marrow produces way too many platelets (Essential Thrombocythemia or ET). I’ve been taking an oral chemo drug daily for years and years to control my high platelets. I also take a blood thinner for that. This disease makes me a clot/stroke risk. In fact several years ago, after a major hernia surgery, I threw a clot and had a stroke. Luckily for me, the stroke was one that caused confusion, not paralysis. After over a year of recovery and neurologist visits, I was finally able to do math again and to multitask once again. I’m pretty much back to mentally being the way I was before the stroke now -except if I get very, very tired.
After my FDA retirement in 2006, a friend and I ran a photography studio for several years, then because of my back problems I had to quit the studio and sold out to my friend.
I still love photography and editing images and I’m into art, both traditional and digital. I build blogsites and websites now (I can do that from my chair and desk). In 2014 I had a severe case of diabetic foot and leg ulcers. This was so painful, the worst pain I had ever been through. I prayed hard every sleepless night for God to cure me or take me home. This turned out to be an 8 month ordeal with several docs involved (both endocrinologists and dermatologists). Finally I saw a wound specialist who treated me with lots of prednisone, actually gave me pain pills and did wound debriding (quite an experience that was). The many wounds were finally healed, but that entire experience put me in a wheelchair and I’ve been in the wheelchair ever since.
I’ve seen a great neuro-surgeon who did tests on my back and told me I would require rods, screws, grafts in my back and because of my uncontrolled diabetes, I could be worse off than before surgery. He recommended I never let someone take a knife to my spine.
Because of my issues, I now avoid all elective surgeries. One doc recommended I go to the Cleveland Clinic for bariatric surgery but I refused that elective surgery.
My First Intermittent Fasting (IF) Attempt
In late 2016 I found Dr. Jason Fung and began reading his fasting book. His statement that Fasting was like “bariatric surgery without the knife” really hit me. So in Jan 2017 I started intermittent fasting and eating low carb. In 2.5 months I had lost 20 pounds and was off all of my diabetic meds. Things were looking up. But life got in the way. Our family had a crisis.
My missionary daughter got sick in the jungle mission field and the Wycliffe clinic did all the could put they could not help her. She was going downhill and my son-in-law was afraid she was going to die. She was med-flighted from Papua New Guinea to a hospital in Cairns Australia that Wycliffe had an agreement with. She was placed in their ICU and docs could not identify her illness.
My husband and I and one of my sisters flew from the US to Australia then to Cairns to be with her. Mel and I didn’t have passports but we found out we could go to Hot Springs Arkansas and get them in one day. We applied online for a vista and we flew from Dallas Fort worth to Sydney, Australia – a 16 hour flight (the longest one in the world at that time). I was fasting during that flight, but stress and fatigue got to me and I broke fast during the flight. We stayed in Cairns for a week. I had never seen my daughter so ill. But many, hundreds, of people were praying for her all over the world and the docs finally found antibiotics that began to work on the infection, drained fluids off her lungs and she began to recover. We had to fly back the day she left the ICU for a regular room. After a couple of months in Australia the clots in her lungs were dealt with and she returned to the mission field.
I didn’t go to back to my IF and low carb eating until the fall of 2022. I had read Dr. Fung’s latest books, the Obesity Code and the Diabetes Code and loved reading about fasting and keto. In the fall, my diabetes doc put me on an additional insulin (oral Farxiga). I began taking the pills and immediately got very sick at my tummy and had lots of gastro issues with bloating and gas. I started researching Farxiga then (I had not heard of it before) and what I read scared me. There were lawsuits ongoing because of damage to people taking this type of drug. They had severe damage and even awful flesh eating genital infections. I wanted nothing to do with a drug like that. So I figured I needed to do something else myself. My BGL were way up and in 2021 I had a TIA caused by my high BGLs; I knew I had to do something or I would never see my daughter and grandchildren when they return on furlough in 4 years.
On November 31st, 2022 I decided to begin IF and eating keto. (great time to start, huh, right before the holidays!) I started at an 18:6 protocol, but then soon changed to OMAD (one meal a day). During December I was just eating lower carbs. I started weighing 166 pounds, but I lost 17 pounds during December. In January it slowed down and I started counting my calories and macros. I realized I was still eating way too many carbs to be keto, so during January I started eating closer to real keto (20 carbs or less a day). I kept doing OMAD OR 20-22 fasting hours a day. I lost another 10.4 pounds in January.
During February 2023 I was concerned about the slow down in my weight loss. I kept reading on all the forums and started watching some videos. I decided to start doing longer fasting hours. So I did some longer hours, 36 hours and a 42 hour fast. I kept counting calories and was concerned that my calories were totaling in the 500-800 range and I thought that was bad. So I started adding more calories to my meals during my eating windows. I tried to reach 1200 calories a day or so. I was actually forcing myself to eat more. My weight loss plateaued. I had several forum “talks” about not counting calories, but to only count carbs. But I fought that thinking I thought I might go into starvation mode since I was not that hungry anymore and I was forcing myself to eat more to reach the 1200 calories a day during my eating days.
Finally someone on my Forums made me realize that it was ok to not eat 1200 calories, that it was ok to eat only 500-800 calories; I would not go into starvation mode because my body was burning additional calories from my fat stores. This was late in February, first part of March.
I am now doing 2×48 each week and really working on keeping my carbs at 20 or below although sometimes I still go above that. I lost only 7 pounds in February. I’m at 3 pounds lost in March and hope to get closer to 8-10 pounds lost for the month. I’m going to keep at this IF schedule and work on keeping my carbs lower the rest of the month.
I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet that I started in 2017 when I was doing IF before and I’m keeping up with my weight loss and the number from my body comp scale. I tend to weigh every day because I’m obsessive. Here’s my latest update on this second IF journey starting Nov. 31, 2022.
My Goals, I almost forgot to tell you. Here are my long term goals:
- Get off all my diabetes meds, Reverse my diabetes.
- Lose all this extra weight and get back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 140 with a BMI of around 23
- Get out of this wheelchair and walk again. I figure if I lose this weight, a total of 125 pounds from my staring weight of almost 266 on Nov. 31, 2022 and get healthy, my back should respond positively
If I can do this by next summer, I plan on traveling to Papua New Guinea and visiting my daughter and grandkids on the mission field. This gives me something great to look forward to.
Here I am on December 8 of 2022 with my sisters. I’m in the wheelchair. I don’t have progress pics because I couldn’t stand up and get pics. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that soon and add a progress pic.
I love to hear from readers and accept questions and comments. Leave yours below.