Monday, May 7, 2012

A Different Kind of Journey

Recently, I have had many acquaintances and co-workers give me a sheepish look and very quietly and politely ask if I have a life threatening illness and if I am going to die. I know some of them are just nosy, but many others are truly concerned.

And then I wonder if a person can be labeled as nosy if you are not trying to keep a secret. I digress.

In the past 5 months, I have been given such a different outlook on my life. An outlook that is amazing, scary, hopeful, and depressing all at the same time. And about what!? Weight. Hence the title of the blog: Weighing In. If you or anyone you know has ever made the following statements, this is the blog for you:

  • When I look at a hamburger, I gain five pounds. 
  • If I could work out 4 hours a day, I would not have any weight problems.
  • I believe that people think I go home and eat buckets of ice cream every night.  
  • I wish I could eat like other people. If I do, I gain lots of weight. 
  • Eating less and exercising more is not giving me any results. 
  • I wish I had a new body. What I want to do in my mind, is hindered by my size.  
  • I exercise more than anyone I know, but I am still the largest. 

I have thought or said out loud many of these statements and more. This is my story on the struggle of weight loss, and this should be the path people take before they start fad diets, extreme exercise, or gastric bypass surgery. It is a long and complicated story, but I will start with the most recent history.

In June of 2011, I trained and completed my first official 1/2 marathon. My goal was under 4 hours and I made that goal. In the fall, a few of my friends wanted to do their first 1/2 marathons and I agreed to join them. We started training together. It was during this time, I had my annual physical and my doctor gave me that 'I have something very serious to say' look. 

You see, I had gained another 30 pounds over the last year. And after all this exercise and training I was doing. She really wanted me to start seeing a nutritionist. In the next two months, I completed my second 1/2 marathon (again just under 4 hours) and started to see a nutritionist.  

My nutritionist was horrified at my eating. And not how much I was eating, but how little. She put me on a plan. I told her right there I would gain more weight. No matter how much she talked about carbs being a log that keeps the fire going and protein being the kindling, I knew that with that much food (eating every 3-4 hours) would equal weight gain and not weight loss. We tried this for two months and those were exactly the results. More weight gain. I thought all hope was lost, but she was only encouraged. She then sent me to my current doctor who specializes in metabolic disorders (among other things). 

At my first meeting, I laid everything out on the table. And surprisingly, the doctor had even more questions about my life. She was 99.9% sure I had a whole score of things wrong, but I was not to worry because with treatment, it was guaranteed I could get back to a normal weight and have a healthier life. I was scheduled for my first blood test. Here were the results:

  • Cortisol High
  • Leptin lower than predicted
  • Insulin resistance (genetic, but reversible)  
  • Average Glucose over 3 months elevated (pre-diabetic levels)
  • 2 of 3 components of Metabolic Syndrome
  • Seems to be no Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) but birth control could be masking it. 
  • Thyroid is low
  • Vitamin D is low
  • Vitamin B12 low
  • Vitamin K and Zinc ok for now
That all seems pretty scary, but completely treatable. But it sure takes a lot of work. So now I am on a 6 week blood test and modification schedule. And this is what I am going to write about. 

For too long, all people have heard from the general population and media is that obesity is a three pronged approach: Eat Less, Eat Healthy, and Exercise More. But what happens when that doesn't work? In fact, 95% of all people who decide to try and lose weight by eating less and exercising more will fail to keep it off long term. Doesn't that tell you something is not working? It does. And many doctors know about it. It has been known for over 20 years. I have a hypothesis on why we don't know about it. First, it would ruin the weight loss industry. Second, it costs money to fix this problem. 

Here is some outside reading until I write next time.

So, I welcome you all in joining me on my journey and discover where I have been and where I am going! 

Capt Mel 

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