Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Drugs Are Making Me Fat

As my loyal readers know it is something I am very self-conscious about, obsessed over and embarrassed by. My weight. Ever since I was a pudgy little girl I have struggled with extra pounds. But in the past it was more a matter of calories in vs. calories out. A decision to eat healthy and exercise, and then doing it. When I look back at pictures from age 12 to 22 I do not see a heavy girl, I see a normal one. Since college ended and I domesticated I have been in a consistent yo-yo championship with my weight. Up and down, up and down. There was always a good reason it went up. I was working too much, traveling for my job and always eating out, every meal a quick throw down the throat. The first time I lost a significant amount of weight was for my wedding. We went to Weight Watchers and there was so much fake food involved to keep the points viable it is now what I would consider a poisonous way to eat. But I lost 30 lbs. and looked great on my wedding day! After my honeymoon I did not continue counting my Points and the pounds slowly but steadily packed back on over the years. Then I lost a bunch after my near-death triglycerides-in-the-7,000's pancreas attack. I stopped eating fried, creamy, cheesy and blatantly fattening. I did this for years and was very satisfied. I could eat pretty much anywhere. Even Taco Bell has a soft-tortilla grilled-chicken with tomatoes-and-lettuce taco. I also started exercising, a lot. Along came Yorkie who was a little hellion of a puppy. I would ride my bicycle around the snobby hills of the Peninsula with him chuggin' along right beside me, oblivious to the shouts of cruelty flying from the cars we rode past. He loved it, his little terrier spirit running wild and free. I went to classes at the gym. Weight training endurance, yoga, pilates. All in the same week, every week. I was in great shape and looking better than I ever had. The doctors marveled at me. Most patients don't make true and lasting change to their health after a scare like that, You are so committed and dedicated, on and on. Then one day I got sick and never got better.

I lost function, lost the illusion of a "normal" life. Fibromyalgia & CFS took that "decision" of diet and exercise away from me, for I was in so much pain and so fatigued I could hardly get out of bed in the morning, let alone exercise. I was extremely nauseous from the pain meds and could only stomach comfort food. That one there cost me about 20 lbs. My first nemesis was Lyrica. It helped me in dozens of different ways but once I got up to 450 mg the weight came torpedoing onto my hips and gut at the speed of light, faster than I could blink. And I found myself a whopping 30 more pounds with that one. Then I went off of it and lost about 20 lbs., really feeling I was on my way to slow and progressive weight-loss. The sustainable kind. But along came an intense and solitary tango with Prednisone...my arch nemesis! My hated savior. For it treated the Vasculitis-caused strokes in my brain while sending me into a frenzy of crazy. It was all I could do to keep from bouncing myself off the roof I was so high. And boy did I eat! I would pop truffles into my mouth faster than they could melt. I ate darn near a Costco-size tin of Danish butter cookies. In like 2 weeks. You betcha' I gained those 20 lbs. back, plus a lucky 10 more! 

Part of the weight I gained is my "fault", and partly the side-effects of various medications. But I have discovered blame is a no-win game in life. It does not really matter what put it there, all of it is my responsibility to deal with. But for a long while I was stuck, heavier than I had ever been and doing nothing about it but being absolutely miserable as the clothes I actually fit into dwindled down to stretchy tank tops and yoga pants. And then one day, about a month ago, I became aware of an ugly monster called deconditioning. I saw myself in a mirror wearing a bathing suite in broad daylight and  nearly cried! I noticed how droopy and hangy and jiggly everything was, and I quickly found my elusive friend motivation. My friend and I have since been pushing and pounding and stretching and bounding my body as many days a week as I can possibly stand. And yes, the weight is dropping off. For good this time, for I can't keep doing this up and down to my body. Yo-yo dieting is entirely more damaging than just staying overweight. This is one area where being fat is actually healthier and your body does not give you an A for effort. See when you diet, eat foods in ways that are limiting or restricting and not lifetime sustaining, you lose muscle mass as well. Then when you start eating like a normal person again, for you can only deprive yourself for so long, you gain the weight back. Plus usually a little more. And you don't get that lost muscle mass to come back. So you have actually raised your risk of a cardiac event and body fat percentage, even if you just go back to the exact weight you were before! So once again I have made a decision, and I am happy to report it is working. Can I please just not have any more health set-backs, please?

Thanks for joining,


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I've been thinking about this topic a lot the last two weeks. (After a visit w a family member who kept hassling me about my weight. Oh, and my hair cut!) I made a decision to join the Arthritis Aqua exercise at our public pool. I think that will give me a good start back in the right direction. That and re-reading this post about 20 times!

  2. I was anorexic and bulimic in my late 20s. This was back in the late 70s when there was no awareness of eating disorders. I went from a healthy weight of 130 to 89 lbs at 5'4". I finally started eating again and maintained a normal weight for almost 10 years. Then for the next 20 years I lost & gain & lost & gained, even resorting to a liquid diet a one point. And of course with each weight loss, I would gain my previous weight back & more. Then I was fortunate to join a group headed by a therapist & a nutritionist. I learned to love my body again, not use the word "fat" which is so derogatory and many other things. I miss the group. Here's a link to the website:http://www.intuitiveeatingcounseling.com/. I'm not saying that you have an eating disorder! But love yourself & your body, no matter what weight.

  3. Leah...I like your blog and the page on Facebook, and thank you for sharing and incouraging others to as well.I found them a few weeks ago.It is a comfort to realize I am not totally crazy. I have noticed you mention diet being a big factor in how you feel and would really like to learn the what to and what not to eat if it helps. I beleive that would be true! I have looked at some sites but most seem broad on the subject, I need to have it set out in front of me do's and don'ts, I would like to know what it is you do..