Work and work-out burn out

Hey everyone,

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I’ve been really enjoying my week off.  I even turned down some extra days of work this week because I needed a break.  Working all those hours last week really pushed me to the limit. As much as I like my job, it can be very stressful at times when there are some very difficult and threatening clients.

I know to remain objective and not take anything personally because of where many of these clients are at.  However, when there is a client that is agitated, 6ft and over 250lbs calling you names and stalking menacingly around the building, punching walls, and yelling, there are steps to take to ensure ones safety as well as that clients safety and the safety of the other clients in the home.  And also to make sure it does not escalate.  Honestly, he really shouldn’t be there and probably should be hospitalized because he’s gotten progressively worse. But anyway, I digress.  I maintained control of the situation, but I felt my instincts tell me not to turn my back to the door or to him and to remain calm. I felt threatened for my safety, however, and it has made work especially draining and very stressful.  I continued to treat the client with respect, and did not react to his attempt to intimidate me, but I remained composed and vigilant, noticing everything.  For the remainder of the week I decided one way to keep myself safe was to dress the part.
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It’s probably laughable, but there’s a reason cat’s hair stand up when they are angry and ready to pounce and defend territory. There’s a reason a Roosters feathers get ruffled.  There’s a reason a King Cobra billows out his majestic back.

There’s reason for when in the animal kingdom some creatures will puff themselves up in some way to either bluff or to say, “Don’t fuck with me.”  I wore my steel-toe Doc Martens, Norse Heavy Metal Shirt, and Camo pants. I know I look ridiculous, but it actually worked.  This client did not mess with me or try to intimidate me any more.  I still treated him the way I had been, but I pushed out the vibe of, “I’m in charge. Don’t fuck with me.”  I work again this weekend, and since my shirts have gotten tighter around my arms, my muscles show more, so hopefully it will be a calm weekend.


My cutting phase is really wroking.  I’ve cut 3lbs of fat so far, and I’m getting stronger. I’m lifting heavier, and my workouts have been very intense and gratifying.  It’s so exciting to be reaching these goals.  However, today, I think I over-did it because I’m spent. I feel very drained. And towards the end of my sets I just wasn’t feeling it. I also haven’t been sleeping well.  These are red flags of over-training. So I’m going to take a week to recover.


Acne is really starting to clear up.  I am really surprised at how much the medicine I’m using is working.


As far as cooking adventures go, I’m experimenting with curing egg yolks!

mix of coarse kosher salt, turbinado sugar, and a smokey herby blend of spices. Looking forward to having these on salads and soups.


 

This is a little TMI and kind of embarrassing.

So, before I started T, I had zero sex drive due to severe depression and dysphoria. That drive just wasn’t there, and it was devastating–that feeling of being alive was gone. No drive for food. No drive for sex.  Since I started T, my drive has come back. In a lot of ways I understand that T does that, but I also know that before my fall into depression I had a healthy sex drive, and so I believe that T has helped me feel at home with myself and alleviating that dysphoric depression.  My sex drive is mine.  Lately, however, it’s become very….in over-drive let’s say.  I  never been one to watch pornography, and for awhile I had not done so in quite a long time. Then I’d watch a little here or there. Now it’s like I watch it every night on top of a couple times during the day.  I masturbate 4-6 times a day. It’s gotten excessive and honestly I’m drained. It’s combined with over-exercise.  It’s like my life force is exhausted.  I have other things I want to be doing. I’ve been playing with the idea of not masturbating or watching porn for a week. I’m conflicted, because on one hand, masturbation is healthy. It relieves stress. But on the other hand it’s gotten to the point of disrupting my life.  I also am concerned of becoming addicted to porn.  I was watching it last night and felt really, really bored with it.  Like getting desensitized.   I don’t see anything wrong with watching porn, but for me personally I don’t like having my desires manipulated, and I don’t like the passivity of watching a fantasy I did not create myself.  If I am able to have the discipline to workout at the gym 5 days a week, I can have the discipline to control my drive.  I can channel this energy into other things and perhaps doing more creative projects.


So that’s it for my weekly update that I can think of.

Until next time,

Ravn Thor

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1 year, 6 months

 

The months are really flying by. On the 22nd will be 1 year and 6 months on T already. I’m looking forward to what the next 6 months will bring.  I look much different than a year ago, and I think a big reason is because of this acne outbreak.  Now that all that active acne has cleared the scars and hyperpigmentation will start to heal.  I’m looking forward to having that behind me.  I can say with confidence that I’m a hell of a lot happier than I was a year ago, and that I never thought I could ever feel this sense of embodiment or peace.  I’d rather deal with acne and putting a needle in my leg once a week than die an early death by suicide.  It feels good to truly feel like I’m in the present, rather than dissociated and caught up in ruminations of things beyond my control.

(Acne is clearing up. I feel hopeful that I won’t get the kind of scarring I thought I would.  Time and patience is what I need and I trust the medicine I’m taking to do it’s job).

I had a therapy appointment today and it went pretty well.  It felt good to be told of how much progress I’ve made since I started going in August.  Indeed, my depression and anxiety has become much more manageable.  There are many reasons for this. Number 1 is job security. That has made a very big difference.  2 is I’m looking more like myself and that alleviates so much dysphoria. 3 is that I’m exercising at the gym. Being able to tangibly see my goals coming to fruition has been a healthy channel for the anxiety or depression I have.  It’s also a mode of self expression and an act of self love by taking care of my body.

The Cut Phase of my fitness routine has been a bit of an adjustment.  Before I was like Garfield, eating as much as I could, getting all the calories. Now that I’m cutting, I have to be much more mindful.  I’m at a 500 calorie deficit.  I decided one way to start shredding fat is by integrating a bit of the cabbage soup diet to my regimen.

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I don’t follow the cabbage soup diet strictly.  I add a lot of protein via tofu or chicken and sometimes Buckwheat Soba or Udon noodles to the soup.  So I have a pretty hearty bowl of low calorie, high fiber, high protein, nutrient dense soup.  I’ve also been eating a lot of baked russets and playing around with twice baked potatoes.  Yesterday I had a twice baked buffalo chicken potato, and then today for lunch I had a Mediterranean chicken twice baked potato with olives and peppercinis.

Work was really intense last week. I covered some shifts and resulted in working 6 days in a row.  I’m very happy to be decompressing this week.  I spend my days maintaining my space, reading, going to the library or bookstore, working out, cooking, browsing the web, walking the dogs, going to the park, playing a video game here or there.  Nothing very eventful but I’m enjoying the mindfulness of it all and also am finally comfortable with doing things alone.  I’m wanting to go camping somewhere next month  for memorial day weekend.

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A kilted Gallivant on Good Friday with Duke

So things are in a nice homeostasis right now.  I’ll just keep on keeping on.

Until next time,

Ravn Thor

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Goals reached and other news

 

Hey Everyone,

I’m really excited to report that I’ve reached my 15lb bulking goal!

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2 months ago I was at 129lbs

Setting a goal and seeing it into fruition is so satisfying.  Those massive gain shakes I’ve been making really worked. I started my cut phase this week and have so far lost 1lb.

Taking some progress pics has been especially helpful. It’s really amazing to see all that hard work coming full circle.

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I love exercise.  I see myself as very different from the typical “Gym Bro” and more like an artist.  I view weight training and nutrition as an art-form with my body as my canvas and food the paints and the weights the brush.

I am in need of new shirts that fit! Everything has gotten so tight.

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My back injury has healed and I’ve been back at it.  I’m feeling really good and more like myself each day.

In other news, things ended up working out with those college friends in Moorhead.  We won’t be living in the same house they had been renting, but instead an apartment. Everything is all worked out and the first months rent is free. I still haven’t told work yet about moving, I don’t really plan on officially moving until probably end of summer.

CW: The following slide-show is NSFW


 

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I decided to try and make my own STP (Stand to pee) device.  I used 3/8 vinyl tubing, baby bottle top, and a soft pack.  It turned out decent for the time being until I can afford a much better one..  I’ve been wanting to be able to use the bathroom urinal just in case the closed stalls are all occupied.


 

I am working Easter weekend, but that’s okay.  Work is going alright. I’m a little overwhelmed but that paycheck next month is going to make it all worth while.

Frank easter

Have a great weekend!

Ravn Thor

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Silver and Patience

Hello,

Today, April 6th, 2017, I found my first silver/grey hair at age 29.

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I saw it this morning and could not stop smiling.   I remember back in my early 20s I thought about how excited I would be when I found my first strand of silver. Sure enough, that day has come and I’m absolutely joyous.  Of all places to find this hair, it would be in the new born chin whiskers.  To me, aging is something to celebrate.  I never thought I would live this long and I look forward to what comes next.  I also did not expect that the beard I’d grow to be one of salt and pepper!

I’m reminded of a quote by one of my  favorite TV characters from the show Northern Exposure.   In an episode titled, Northwest Passages, one of the characters, Maggie, is turning 30. Chris Stevens, the radio host in the fictional quirky town of Cicely, Alaska remarked:

“Here in the Western world, we have this morbid fear of aging, this simplistic glorification of youth.  In the East, Old Age is something to be revered—it’s the top of the heap, a time of wisdom and influence.  

People impose all these chronological imperatives on themselves.”

Indeed, I see this silver strand on my chin as a gift.  A reminder of all the things I’ve learned, and persevered.  My life is not linear and that’s perfectly okay. I feel sincere gratitude and openness to what comes next.


 

Last week I strained my psoas muscle.  I rested for a week and then yesterday I decided to do some light walking and upper body.  I figured that since I won’t be doing any lower body exercise the muscle should be fine.  I learned the hard way that the psoas muscle impacts everything.  I felt a bit worried that I  may have really messed up my back.  A few friends of mine offered words of encouragement, reminding me that Bruce Lee had a back injury.  Through rest, patience, and discipline he was able to train again.  I took that to heart and have been in full on recovery mode.  Most nights I relax in a warrior rejuvination soak, aka, an epsom salt bath.

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Over the counter anti-inflammatory meds cause severe stomach upset, and so taking them would just trade one issue for another.  I needed to look at alternative means of pain relief.  Tiger Balm is one of my go-to muscle rubs.

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I went to the Asian market a few days ago and picked up some ginseng tonics. Ginseng helps with inflammation.

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I’ve also been unwinding in the evenings with some Tonic water. The quinine in it can help ease muscle spasms (Leg cramps, back pain, etc).  That is if I drink enough of it.

Another remedy I’ve been using is Golden Milk. (Further reading). I tweaked the recipe a little bit.  Tumeric, ginger, cayenne, and ginseng are all wonderful anti-inflammatory ingredients. It’s also quite tasty.

Ravn’s Golden Potion
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder or 1in piece of raw tumeric root
1 inch piece of raw ginger
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon of ginseng powder
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
Put it all in a sauce pan and simmer for 10-15min.  Enjoy.

My heating pad has become a dear friend now.  Besides the back issue regarding my fitness goals, my bulking goal has stagnated around 139-140lbs.  I need to gain 4-5 more pounds to reach that goal.  Consuming enough calories has been very difficult so I decided to make my own epic mass gain shakes.
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All of that together added up to around 960calories of pure whole foods (besides the protein powders and other sups).  1/3 of my caloric intake goal of the day. These have really helped to boost my mood too, because I’m finally getting enough food in my system.

I’ve also been mixing things up a bit to make eating more enticing.

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Yaki Udon with fried tofu


My acne has been slowly fading. However, it’s leaving behind some atrophic scarring. I’m a little nervous about it at first, but there are a lot of ways to go about healing them, and some may stay forever.  I’m keeping in mind that it’s not a hopeless situation, and that this too is a lesson of patience.


This Saturday I work an overnight shift. This will be a new experience.  The week ahead I am also covering about 5 extra shifts. This will double my paycheck next month. Excellent!

Until next time,

Ravn Thor

 

 

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1 year, 5 months, 1 week

Hey there,

Things have reached a cross roads where the paths to choose from are infinite. I’m unsure where they all go and which to take.  Initially, I had been planning on moving back to Moorhead end of May early June, but the plans fell through with the people I was going to be moving in with. A couple people dropped out last minute, and the signing of the lease is on April 1st, leaving my friends in a sticky situation of being unable to find replacements (it’s in a house).  So that won’t be working.  They said they’ll keep me in mind once they find a new place.  After mulling it over for a week or so I decided that since Summer is coming up so fast that perhaps I should aim for end of Summer, early Fall. That way I have a few months to save up, keep momentum at my job(potentially ensuring a transfer to the Fargo location), have enough for a deposit and a couple months rent, and possibly find my own place.

I’m wanting to get the ball rolling on Top surgery.  As the weather get’s warmer and my shirts becoming tighter due to progress on my physical fitness journey, dysphoria rears it’s head more often than usual.  Wearing a binder is a pain, it restricts breathing, it’s becoming more and more uncomfortable.  I asked around and a trans brother of mine told me that MNcare has no enrollment date, so once I move to MN I can enroll.  He also suggested I make the phone call for a consultation to this really good reconstructive surgeon in the Twin Cities as soon as possible because the waiting list is about 3-4 months.  I’m starting to see that at this crossroads it’s perfectly okay to camp out for awhile, take out my maps, and plan ahead.

I finally got to see a dermatologist today! I got a refill on my Retin-A and then another topical called “Finacea” and also an oral med Minocycline.

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She told me that for someone of my skin tone (olive) the hyperpigmentation is going to take a long time to heal.  I asked her about the indentations on my face and whether or not they are going to cause severe scarring. She said it’s too soon to tell and that we need to just focus on getting the acne cleared up.  She told me that it’s a process, much like my transitioning.  It takes time.  I realized that this is an opportunity to really learn patience and self-trust.

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My face has really started to clear up.  I’m hopeful that once I start this new medicine it will continue to do so.  It’s all part of this journey.

Work has been going pretty well. Last weekend I had a late night, then early morning. As much as that sort of back-to-back shift is tough, I was okay with it because of what I had to do. At work we get food donations and one of the donations was a big one. I was tasked to cook an 18lb brisket.  I started it the night before mixing together a Texa’s-style rub and then wrapped it in plastic good and tight. It stayed in the fridge over night.

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I brought some mesquite smoking chips from home and when I arrived at work around 6:45am, I fired up the grill and prepped the chips. Then I put that beast in a big pan and set it on the grill at 250degrees. I let it smoke for 6 hours.  Then I prepped the oven and wrapped the brisket in foil(this is known as the Texas Crutch method).  I also put some mesquite chips in some water in a small pan on the second rack.  Ideally, I would have smoked the whole thing for 12-16hours. But since dinner has to be ready by 5-5:30pm where I work, the smoke first then oven method made it a few hours quicker.

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The smoked beast

The downside of this whole thing? I didn’t even get to taste it!  My shift ended at 2:45pm that day.  I was called into work today and apparently all the left-overs were gone.  The clients did say they really liked it.  This was a fun experience and I’m really looking forward to doing old-school barbecue experiments this summer.

I’m considering starting a food blog since I write so much about food anyway.  Could be a nice portfolio piece.

Here are a couple more things I whipped up:

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That’s all for now.  Looks like March is going out like a lamb this year.  Here’s to a good end of the month. Cheers!

-Ravn Thor

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Swinging into Spring Manic Depression

Around this time of year, especially during a season transition, it sets off a couple episodes of mania and depression.  I’m finally at a place where I can recognize symptoms  and work on alleviating them rather than exaggerate them.

All last week I was not sleeping.  Just a few days ago I finally got a good night’s rest. Mania can be fun and productive, but the lack of sleep can really turn it into a shitshow.  I’m looking forward to spring equinox and things will feel a bit back to “normal.”

My acne is clearing up a bit more.

I am going to see a dermatologist in the next couple weeks to continue treatment.

This week I enjoyed some cooking adventures.

Rainbow Garbanzo Salad

I also made Corned Beef and Cabbage.

Potatoes, carrots, and cabbage cut into wedges. Seasoned with Extra Virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme. I like to splash a bit of Apple cider vinegar on the cabbage when serving.

Really happy that it turned out. I’ve had a blast with the leftovers. I’ve been making Reubens and this morning had Corned Beef Hash.

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My fitness goals are getting there.  I may upload some progress pics in the future.

I have been lifting heavier this week and in the mirror I’m finally noticing some changes.

This is all for now. Will write more later.

-Ravn Thor

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A Trip to The Cities!

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Hello there,

It has been close to 7 or 8 months since I had made the drive to St. Paul for a check up pertaining to trans-related care.  It’s worth the 6 hour drive to the cities to get quality and affordable care at Family Tree Clinic.  I will be giving them a call on Monday to follow-up on what my Testosterone levels are at.  I’m treated with such compassion, respect, and understanding at this clinic. I sincerely wish there were more of these places available for people.  I asked about MNcare healthcare and if it’s safe from this current regime and I was informed that yes, it was safe.  I would also get top-surgery covered on it, as well as healthcare pertaining to bipolar disorder. So my decision to move has been finalized. I’ll be moving back to Moorhead come May or June and get on Minnesota Care.

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On the roadtrip there and back I was feeling very relieved at how 90% of all the bathrooms at the rest-stops had “family” restrooms–single room,etc.

I spent a good 48 hours in the cities and actually enjoyed myself!  I stayed with a trans-brother of mine who graciously let me crash at his place. It felt good to be around another transman and to talk about our experiences.  I took myself out for a savory and spicy bowl of ramen noodles. It was so perfect on such a chilly night in the North.

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Zen Box Izakaya is a must-stop-spot in Minneapolis. I had salmon sashimi and kimchi ramen. It was so delicious.

I regret not getting in touch with some of my film school friends that live in the cities. I plan on making another trip back in a month or so. I’ll make plans to see them for sure.

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Another must-go-to-spot in the Cities is Leather and Latte’s. It’s a gay coffee shop that sells coffee and leather/fetish gear.

Minneapolis is such a beautiful city. I don’t think I could live in a city, but I’d like to live nearby on my dream farm.  This was a much needed little get-a-way.

In other news,

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I am sitting at 141lbs, 3lbs away from my bulking goal. I took a week off lifting this week because I was having symptoms of  over-training.(Fatigue, restless nights, insomnia, poor appetite, etc)  I did get in 2 sessions of 25min HIIT though.  Coming close to reaching my goal has really alleviated some of my winter blues.  Soon I will be cutting, which will entail adding more cardio and switching my diet up a bit.

Update on the Acne Situation:

Here’s a collage pic from last week:

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and here’s one from today:

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My skin is really starting to clear up! I decided against getting a microderm and chemical peel because I read up that for people with olive tone skin it can permanently alter the skin color or something of that nature. So I decided to wait it out a bit longer, and if need be I will contact a dermatologist.

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And in other really good news, our film school senior capstone project is an official selection at The Artemis Women in Action Film Festival!  This really made my day. =)

Until I write again,

Ravn Thor

 

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