LUSCIOUS HEALTH: Here’s the very first and very personal post documenting my attempt to get my weight under control.
I’m sharing it to get some support and encouragement, as well as hopefully inspiring others who have also been struggling…
Oh dear. Another person blabbing about their amazing weight loss transformation?
Maybe, maybe not. As I write this, I am overweight and I’m definitely keen for a happy ending. But there is no smugness, I can assure you.
This new series of posts may not be to the taste of all regular Luscious Lifers, so feel free to tune out now. The rest of myLusciousLife will continue as normal, don’t fret.
For those of you who are interested, I hope to make it a weekly feature, outlining some of the issues I’ve faced and the ways, once and for all, to conquer this inability to lose weight.
The catalyst for this brave/stupid (depending on how you want to look at it) revelation, is that despite over a decade doing all the “right” things to lose weight, nothing has worked. So I’ve stepped things up a notch and been to see an endocrinologist.
This is the story of what happened next…
A lot of you already know about our 5.5 years of trying to having a baby without success. You can read about our one-and-only IVF/ICSI cycle and my attempt to accept our unexplained infertility and embrace childlessness.
But there’s more to it than this (although I assume it’s all related), so here’s a quick summary of the things I’ve been dealing with:
- hayfever and breathing issues
- lactose and fructose intolerance, and poor digestion
- long-term stress relating to family issues
- gum disease
- Seborrhoeic Dermatitis
- slightly elevated liver test results which may indicate non-alcoholic fatty liver
- a damaged coccyx.
Er, no, not very glamorous at all, is it?! Fingers crossed this new chapter will close some of these less-than-luscious adventures down once and for all.
For the record, this above list sounds rather dire but I consider myself to be a very happy person most of the time!
- Current weight: 96kgs*
- My worst ever weight: 100.5kgs
- Best weight for my height: 65kgs
- My ideal weight: 60kgs
Height: 160 cm
*as of Wednesday October 29, 2014
What I’ve been doing, until now, to lose weight
- Consulting a GP, psychologist, allergist and dietician
- Seeing a chiro
- Getting medical tests done to eliminate all other conditions (in conjunction with the IVF tests)
- Watching portion size of meals
- Trying to eat breakfast (not something I naturally want to do)
- Trying to eat dinner at a reasonable time
- Keeping a food diary/calorie counting
- Learning more about fructose and lactose intolerance, and what my body can cope with
- Adding more spices into meals
- Doing the 5:2 diet on Mondays and Thursdays (500 calories per day) with Mr Luscious
- Trying to accept that carbs are not evil, they just need to be “good” carbs and consumed in moderation
- Drinking more water
- Getting more sunshine (Vitamin D)
- Trying to turn electronic devices off much earlier in order to get a decent sleep
- Installing a treadmill desk and walking at a slow pace whilst working
- Walking and/or jogging on the treadmill with hand weights
- Occasionally cycling on our home exercise bike
- Swimming in our pool during the warmer months
- Talking our dog Mabel for walks along the beach
- Occasional gardening
- Wearing a pedometer to track my steps
- Trying to increase incidental exercise
- Starting tennis lessons, and more recently, joining the club’s competition series.
In the past, I’ve tried various diet replacement meals, diets such as Atkins, personal training sessions and going to a gym.
Recently, I also tried the weight loss drug Duromine for three weeks but it resulted in terrible acne problems, tiredness and dizziness. It did reduce my appetite (yey) but I only lost 0.5kgs, which hardly scratched the surface of the 30+ kgs I need to lose.
First appointment with the specialist
This week, I saw an endocrinologist/metabolic/weight specialist on the Mornington Peninsula, near where we live. I explained my medical history and what I thought the reasons were for my weight gain and inability to lose weight:
- I was prescribed Paxil (Arapax/Paroxetine) an anti-depressant about 11 years ago, and at the same time had Implanon inserted into my arm for birth control. Within a week, I gained at least 5 kilos and continued to gain steadily after that. My body has never been the same since. I stopped taking the Paxil after just a few months (I did want to give it a go, after all, and didn’t realise that the weight gain wouldn’t stop), and had the Implanon removed within 3 years.
- Working today purely as a writer and blogger, my “active world” has shrunk. For many years I was a communications, digital media and marketing consultant, commuting to work, seeing clients and being busy in an office, but these days I work from home and sit behind a computer almost all day. Combined with my age (now 43), it does not make for an active lifestyle.
- In my late 20s and early 30s, I made some bad financial decisions which have plagued me for years. Combined with the stress of Mr Luscious’s divorce and child custody issues, and more recently, a year of Mr Luscious having to deal with a workplace sociopath, it’s been about 15 years of accumulated angst. In the early years especially, I suffered from depression, ate badly and barely slept.
I said that whilst originally I wanted to lose weight to look good, now it was about health. I don’t want to get diabetes or be more susceptible to illness and disease, or limited our options when Mr Luscious eventually retires and we’d like to spend time travelling.
The specialist said that each of our bodies have a programmed “ideal weight” but it sounded like mine had reset itself to a weight of around 95 kgs after the combination of the aforementioned triggers, and no matter what I did, my body would resist.
The solution, she said, was about satiety (feeling full) and energy (expending more energy that I consume). To lose weight and try to teach my body to accept that my ideal weight is still just 65 kgs (not 95 kgs), the options for me include:
- undergoing a body composition test using the Bod Pod and DEXA scan
- having a gastric balloon inserted for 6 months, which sounds potentially useful but practically awful (weeks of living on liquids and throwing up!)
- finding more ways to increase my incidental exercise
- trying an anti-depressant drug (I think she means Bupropion/Wellbutrin, but will confirm this in the coming weeks) which helps reduce hunger and improve mood
- undergoing four weeks of reporting re: 2 weeks recording my current “normal” food intake, mood ratings and pedometer step counts, and then 2 weeks of a Bircher Museli diet – see below for more.
The trick, she said, was not losing the weight but keeping it off. And living on 800 calories a day for the rest of my life. Yikes!
For this she recommends Optifast (meal replacement shakes, bars and soups), but I told her I was sceptical about processed food, and wanted to rely on cooking my own food from scratch, as it was the only long-term way of understanding nutrition properly. We agreed to disagree for now.
Step 1: For the next two weeks I have to…
Establish a baseline by:
- my normal food intake, ie. not do anything differently to what I usually do
- my mood, three times a day, out of 10, eg. 6/10
- my steps using an Omron HJ-203 pedometer – I bought mine for about $40 at Chemist Warehouse but you can also find one online here and here.
Note: For non-walking “steps” eg. for activities such as sex or swimming when wearing a pedometer would be awkward, here is a handy chart for step conversion (steps per minute) and also here (which includes sex).
2. Thinking about the gastric balloon (which is about $4000 out-of-pocket, even with health insurance).
3. Organising a visit to do the body composition test.
4. Reading about Optifast.
Step 2: For the two weeks after that, I have to…
1. Cope with the boredom of a Bircher Muesli diet.
This means living on homemade Bircher Museli for breakfast and lunch every day for two weeks. I don’t like this sort of museli at the best of times, so having to consume it 28 times over 14 days is surely a test of endurance?
The recipe is simple, combining the following in an electric blender or food processor:
- 500ml of Jalna yoghurt
- 1.5 cups of rolled oats
- 2 apples, cored but not peeled.
This mixture then gets sealed and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, making 4 serves.
For each meal, scoop 1 serve into a bowl and add four freshly chopped fruits, eg. 1 pear,1 orange and 2 peaches. Note: 1 handful (eg. grapes) = 1 piece of fruit.
2. Dinner must contain:
- Meat, fish or chicken (1 handful)
- Salad or vegetables (4 handfuls)
It may include 1-2 drinks of alcohol per day, and no/low calorie drinks such as water, tea/coffee with skim milk, “slim” soups, and diet drinks.
It may not include fried, battered or crumbed food, nor snacks, biscuits, cakes or desserts.
3. In addition, I have to increase my daily average steps by 2000 steps per day.
At some point during these first weeks, I also need to have the body composition scan.
Step 3: For the third lot of 2 weeks, I think I’m supposed to…
I really don’t know.
I assume I continue to eat as frugally as possible and keep increasing step count?
Conclusion, to date
The next appointment is not until December 12, 2014, which is 6.5 weeks after the first appointment.
Whilst I’ve started with my spreadsheet, step counting and larger focus on water consumption, I do feel like the situation is simply a more extreme version of what I’ve been trying to do for years now. Which has lead to frustration and the fact that I just consumed a cupcake whilst writing this post.
The Optifast thing really puts me off but I appreciate that it’s a way of forcing you into a seriously reduced calorie controlled diet. 12 weeks of hell. Eeek.
And how anyone with a normal life is able to make all of these things happen is beyond me. With a job enabling me to work from home, and considerable freedom to organise my life to suit my needs and a supportive partner, I wonder how anyone else would be able to manage things.
For example, reading the material about the gastric balloon notes that you need time off work (because you’ll be throwing up for ages before your body learns to cope with this foreign entity) and will be living on fluids for weeks.
I think that between this, the Bircher Museli diet, and the Optifast for a minimum of 12 weeks, I may become suicidal with boredom. But I suppose that’s where the anti-depressant comes in.
I’m also annoyed that private health insurance (I’m with BUPA) and our Australian Medicare system doesn’t support more obesity related treatments. Isn’t it better to encourage me to find solutions now by assisting me with a significantly reduced gastric procedure, than me becoming sick in the future with all the obesity-related illnesses that are more than likely to strike me down?
Now it’s your turn
So, what do you think? What’s worked for you – both losing the weight and keeping it off? Are you happy with your health? And are you able to sustain it whilst still living a luscious life?
Feel free to leave a comment below, but please be kind. Being told I’m lazy is really not helpful.
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