While it may not look like it in my family picture on the previous blog post, I have always battled with the number on the scale. This has gotten worse since having 2 babies. My mom, sister, and I have been on every fad diet known to man. I have only ate cabbage on one diet to only eating grapefruit. I have drank shakes, and kept food lists. Nothing seemed to work long term because I was fixated on the scale. If I messed up or didn't follow something perfectly, I would get frustrated and just quit. I remember frequently saying to myself "I will just need to love myself fat." At my heaviest, I was 243lbs in 2012. To put that in perspective, I am 5ft 2.5 inches (yes that 1/2 inch matters). My weight should be 118-135lbs. "Loving myself fat" was impossible because I never loved myself skinny either.
It took a longtime for me to get up on the right side of the bed and find a lifestyle that worked for me. It started in January 2019, a little over 10 months ago. I had been doing weight loss management for nearly 2 years for patients in my clinic and was seeing huge success with weight loss medicine and low carb. However, what I saw was the patients would stop taking the medicine or eat a "cheat" meal and the weight would come right back. I had my own weight issues, but here I was trying to guide others to their goal weights.
Over the past 6 years, I had lost some weight exercising and crazy dieting from 243lbs to what I consider my starting weight of 189. The reason being 189 because no matter what exercise program, diet, or prescription weight loss medication, I could never get past 189lbs... ever. My husband and I had just completed P90x. I had followed the meal plan and exercises perfectly. After 12 weeks, I had shed a whopping 5lbs. I was livid. My clothes didn't fit any better, but I could do some crazy push-ups. Knowing that something was wrong with my metabolism, I made an appointment with my GYN for a physical just to make sure nothing else was going. That visit changed my life in a huge way. He examined me and noticed my thyroid was extremely large, approximately the size of a grapefruit on palpation. He panicked and had me set up with an oncologist the next day because he obviously thought I had thyroid lymphoma (a form of cancer). Here I am married, 2 young children, working as a provider in a hugely busy family practice office, I did not have time for the big "C" word. Now, like any medical professional, I canceled my oncology appointment.
A. We make terrible patients.
B. I ain't got time for that, I have 35 people on my schedule the next day.
With the help of my best bud Jenny Tarter, NP (She is wonderful, check her out), I got some lab work, got some imaging completed and found out I did not have cancer, I have Hashimoto Thyroiditis, a type of hypothyroidism that is autoimmune. To my dismay, the current guidelines say that I will be a lifelong taker of levothyroxine and I can never miss a day. I have never been a pill taker. I barely got 10 prenatal vitamins in my entire pregnancy with both kids. I knew I had to find an alternative. I started taking the medication. It made me moody, my hair fell out, and my heart raced, but that is what the doctor told me to do. On paper, my thyroid looked better, but I didn't feel better. I started researching alternatives, and came across the Paleo diet plan (will discuss in another upcoming blog post) which is how functional medicine providers treat some types autoimmune disorders. I started this diet plan in February 2019. Fast forward to May 2019, I was feeling much better. I had more energy. I was not nearly as moody. My hair wasn't falling out as much. I had not been on the scale since starting Paleo because I dove head first into the love yourself, love your food, love the world mentality. I had dabbled in the Whole 30 experiment, but was not successful in completing the entire 30 days (more to come on this). I had a follow up appointment with my endocrinologist who had started the levothyroxine and he was happy with my progress. I had gained 2 more lbs. My total now was nearly back to what I had lost with the stringent P90x program. To my dismay, he continued my levothyroxine. With that I started researching again. I came across The Obesity Code from friend Jennifer who recommended it to me. I started keto and intermittent fasting in June 2019 and by August 2019 had lost over 10lbs. I was down to 172lbs, the lowest I had ever been since having my two children. I was still kind of tired. My hair started falling out again, and I wasn't sleeping well. Again, I go back to the endocrinologist, who said my blood work looked good, and CONTINUED MY LEVOTHYROXINE AGAIN! Looking back, I cannot be mad because he was doing what the guidelines said. I was well maintained on paper with my labs and weight loss, but I didn't feel better. I had to wake up and realize that something I was doing could be the cause of my symptoms. So I started the Whole 30 Program. It is a 30 days experiment where you eliminate legumes, dairy, grains, sugar, alcohols, and most processed foods. After 30 days, you add each food group systematically to see if you have an intolerance. To my surprise, gluten, sugar, and legumes (including peanuts) caused most of the symptoms I was experiencing. Now here comes the amazing part. I had follow up blood work for my thyroid and guess what... MY MEDICINE WAS STOPPED! I had corrected my supposed "life long" thyroid disorder with food. Hippocrates once said "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Why are we the only species on the planet where we debate what we should be eating. Do horses argue about whether to eat meat or plants? I am now 164 lbs. Am I in my "doctor recommended weight range??" no... Am I completely happy.. YES! My goal was to get off medication, not to get to 135 lbs. My why had changed from all of those years of dieting from weight loss, to getting off of medication. I was able to stick with a plan and lifestyle change that worked for me because my "why" was strong enough. Making a lifestyle change is so much more than weight loss. If you do it right, it will result in weight loss. If you have been my patient before, you know the saying I stole from John Heywood, "Rome wasn't built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour." A lifestyle change isn't a sprint, its a marathon, a journey. Figuring out your "why" to sustain the lifestyle change, is the most important part. Stay tuned.. we will look at some of the lifestyle changes out there they may be a fit for you. I am also going to discuss some dietary options that treat specific disease processes.