In my adult life, I have primarily vacillated between two ends of a 30-pound spectrum. And while even at the low end of my weight spectrum, I am still overweight. I have worked with trainers, I have tried all the diets. I have done 5Ks, a half-marathon, P90X, bootcamp-style gym class, custom designed training plans, yoga, Pilates, and there was a year when I walked at least 10 miles every week. That’s when my weight reached its ultimate low point (10mi/wk), which I have not seen since. Basically, despite all my weight, I’ve never not had some sort of athletic pursuit in my life.
The highest my weight has ever been was just recently, November 2015-January 2016. It was ten pounds north of the high end of my weight spectrum. Very uncomfortable and more than a little frightening.
Let me explain. So the last big athletic thing I did was work with a remote trainer* who designed weight lifting programs and monthly diets for me starting in May 2014. Over the course of our time together, the trainer introduced intermittent fasting and cheat days followed by fasting days. The end of our contract coordinated with that holiday season so I was doing more cheating-fasting combos then probably recommended.
Sometime in January 2015, I noticed that I never felt full. Like, ever, at all. I was chronically starving. It was insane. I could sit down, eat a full meal, feel physically full and still feel like I needed to eat. There were times I felt like I was literally full to the esophageal sphincter, which is very uncomfortable, and I’d still want more food. It was kind of horrifying actually. So over twitter, in February, I asked my trainer about it (I deleted half the conversation because I was embarrassed to admit most of what I said, and my recent ex-roommate had a penchant for twitter trolling/stalking and that’s definitely not ammo I wanted him to have so that’s the night that I also switched my twitter to private). The end of the advice that he gave me to try 5-HTP (it made me sleepy :\) and to do longer fasting periods.
The most helpful thing with that was eating more whole foods, less sugar (part of the massive hunger waves was specific desires for as many calories as possible, so that’s a lot of junk food). I slowly developed satiety sensations again.
Still, my weight continued to increase. In July I wrote in my LiveJournal that I was going to go to the doctors in January when I had health insurance again,*** because I didn’t understand why my body was doing the opposite of what it should be doing. In November, I wrote about how uncomfortable I was in my body at this size.
While I addressed my concern over my weight, I can’t find anywhere I may have noted when I figured out that I had developed a binge eating habit. I mean, sure, yeah, I emotionally eat during breakups and have had those “oh, girl, I get you” conversations with grocery store cashiers on a monthly basis, but I don’t think I truly had seriously disordered eating until last year. I’m certain it was between July and November that I finally figured out that I was gaining weight because I’d eat candy and donuts and cookies several times a week. Usually, I’d stop at 7-11 after my last client on my way home. Sometimes I’d just pick up extra food while at the grocery store. To be clear, I didn’t make this connection sooner because these were not conscious, well-thought out decisions to buy and eat several thousand calories worth of junk food several times per week.
In my research on binge eating, I noticed that the medication recommended for binge eating is also a medication for ADHD, which I was originally diagnosed with in 1999, but have had my entire life. There is also some correlation between binge eating and ADHD (impulsivity, mindless activity, hyperfocus). So after getting health insurance again, I went and jumped through all the hoops to get on this medication.
It is mostly a super expensive appetite suppressant. So lately I have been thinking about how I will probably need to be on an appetite suppressant for the rest of my life. It’s probably the only way I will ever lose weight again, it’s probably the only way I will ever maintain any weight loss.
Because I have realized that this isn’t the first time I have regained all the weight I’ve lost. I’ve lost these 30 pounds probably at least 5 times in my adult life. It always comes back because I cannot deal with the incessant hunger that nags at me when I reach the low end of my weight spectrum.
And then today, all over Facebook is this article, After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight. Despite the clickbait title, despite the first part of the article being about a sample size of six people, it actually addresses these exact things.
“What was surprising was what a coordinated effect it is,” Dr. Proietto said. “The body puts multiple mechanisms in place to get you back to your weight. The only way to maintain weight loss is to be hungry all the time. We desperately need agents that will suppress hunger and that are safe with long-term use.”
This is me, this is what I’ve been thinking about. I like the medication that I’m on, but it’s expensive, and maybe just taking some form of appetite suppressant from the drug store would be just as effective. Is it safe to use appetite suppressants for the rest of my life? Is this one of those things where I just don’t care because I prefer to not be ravenously hungry all the time? Probably.
Then, there is also this, from earlier in the same article:
It has to do with resting metabolism, which determines how many calories a person burns when at rest. When the show began, the contestants, though hugely overweight, had normal metabolisms for their size, meaning they were burning a normal number of calories for people of their weight. When it ended, their metabolisms had slowed radically and their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes.
Researchers knew that just about anyone who deliberately loses weight — even if they start at a normal weight or even underweight — will have a slower metabolism when the diet ends. So they were not surprised to see that “The Biggest Loser” contestants had slow metabolisms when the show ended.
What shocked the researchers was what happened next: As the years went by and the numbers on the scale climbed, the contestants’ metabolisms did not recover. They became even slower, and the pounds kept piling on. It was as if their bodies were intensifying their effort to pull the contestants back to their original weight.
Since I’ve gained and lost these 30 pounds (and some of their friends) over and over again, I confess to being concerned about the speed of my metabolism. Some of the contestants have to eat 450-800 calories less than someone of an identical size and age because anything more than that will just turn to fat. If this is a thyroid hormone test, then I’m fine; that’s one of the things my doctor had tested when I had my physical earlier this year. If it’s something else, I should explore that more.
I love this article because it makes me feel less crazy about the things I’ve been thinking about my body. And by less crazy, I mean exactly spot on. I hate this article because these are not comforting facts and it sucks that there is only so much you can do with a body that is so insistent on getting its weight back, and I really don’t want to struggle with my weight for the entire remainder of my life. Overall, still, 9/10, definitely recommend that everyone reads it.
Oh, and I’ve lost the overage and am just under the high end of my weight spectrum (specifically, I’ve lost about 13 of the 40 pounds I gained from my 2014 low). I’m eating less thanks to modern medicine, and eating a spinach based salad to help my allergies as daily as possible (probably a separate post). I’m not currently working out (also a whole other post), but I do really miss it.
* Why a remote trainer? Because the in-person personal trainers I’d directly hired have all hit on me, which as an overweight person is quite the mindfuck, given how most of society thinks that I am literally too fat to live.** This remote trainer lives on the other end of the country and is happily married. He seemed like a safe choice.
** True story: when I got a physical a couple months ago, the nurse gave me this dismissive look and snarkily said, “oh, your blood pressure is going to be high, isn’t it?” I rolled my eyes and replied that the last time I’d gone to the doctor it was because my blood pressure was too low. She actually checked my blood pressure twice and verbally confirmed with me that 90/60 is normal for me. Yeah, despite my physical baggage, I’m stupidly healthy in every other way (so long as I don’t have to stand up too quickly).
*** I didn’t have health insurance in 2015 because I adhd’d my way out of it. Ironically. Only having one time per year to sign up is not awesome for those of us who are terrible with deadlines due to how our brains are wired. But hey, welcome to 2016, where I have health insurance AND ADHD medication. 😀