This is long and if no one gets through it all I completely understand. I do appreciate help from anyone who does.
I'm 42 years old getting ready to turn 43 and female. I started gaining weight when I was in my mid 20's and didn't know why. I leveled out in my 30's to around 180-190 (at 5'6). I have taken a LOT of verbal abuse about my weight and body all of my life...either from being too skinny when I was younger to being too fat as an adult. It's amazing to me sometimes what people feel perfectly fine saying to others in regards to their bodies. Anyway, my weight left me baffled because the only way I could lose anything is by exercising about 2 hours a day and the minute I took a break because I couldn't keep it up it all started piling back on.
By the time I was 40 I also had severe acne, was suicidal much of the time, couldn't focus or concentrate or retain information, had terrible memory problems, could not be out of bed for more than a few hours without debilitating fatigue no matter how long I had slept, was on thyroid medication for hypothyroidism, had allergies that made my face and tonsils swell all the time, had joint pain to the point that I couldn't even open a jar for myself, and due to the fatigue sometimes even walking a lap around the apartment complex was too much. I would end up shuffling like an old woman with my husband walking slowly beside me, baffled and frustrated yet again because my physical symptoms kept us from enjoying a normal life. I had also ballooned up to around 220 lbs.
In my 20's I tried a low fat diet and as long as I kept up the hours of exercise I stayed around 140 which wasn't great but was better than being even bigger.
I went to so many specialists looking for help and all of them just told me they either didn't know what to do to help me or told me to eat less and move more, totally ignoring the fact that I could barely move so moving more was impossible. When you think it was a good day because you could take a shower and you can't hold down even a part time job due to your physical problems being told to "just exercise and eat less" is very discouraging and frustrating. One of my doctors suggested that I might have Celiac disease, but left it at that and I didn't understand what it was and he didn't explain so it was dropped.
While doing my own research online I stumbled across MDA and discovered that a lot of the symptoms that people have from eating grains were the some of the same ones I had and I started wondering if I really did have either a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease so I ordered Mark's book and changed my entire diet within a week. I dropped all grains, all dairy, and all processed foods. I drank nothing but water. Within a month I had dropped something like 20lbs and my acne was gone, my joints no longer hurt, I felt incredible with energy to spare, I went for long walks with my husband and my mental state was better than it had ever been. I no longer even dreamed of suicide and looked forward to a long, happy, healthy life that I didn't even think was possible before. It was one of those stories where it was almost too good to be true.
Around 193 lbs the weight loss stopped and I decided I needed to add in more than walking so I bought some free weights and watched some videos online as to how to work out. I asked around the forums a bit and saw that everyone was doing Cross Fit but that was not in our budget since I wasn't working due to the economy. I think what happened was I tried to do too much with the weights and didn't know what I was doing and I ended up fatiguing myself to the point that I couldn't exercise.
I tried HIIT with my elliptical and didn't see any results from that as far as fat loss so I decided I needed to join a gym. I did so and as soon as the owner heard about my primal diet he balked at it and told me that I needed 1 hour a day of cardio plus weights and the only thing that mattered was calories in, calories out. I tried to explain about the progress I had made but he just kept repeating himself and then told me that I may not need to eat grains, but I did need a personal trainer and if I got one and worked out I would lose 2-4 lbs a week. With my weight loss still stalled and starting to have some other confusing symptoms (hair growth on chin and jaw line, less and less energy again) I decided to get the trainer. Worst. Decision. Ever. !!!
Not only didn't the trainer not show up a lot of the time for our appointments but he worked me so hard that I found myself missing appointments because I was back to not being able to get out of bed due to fatigue. **I think it is important to note that I had dropped my carbs down to about 20 grams a day at this point and also became very suicidal again** My trainer told me to up my carbs and as soon as I did (in the form of fruit only, mainly oranges and apples, about 100 grams a day) the suicidal urge left and I had more energy. I didn't lose a single pound, however, no matter how hard I worked out. Very little carb + low calorie+ working out hard an hour a day = suicidal, but very slowly losing some weight. The same thing with more carb= no changes and I even gained a bit.
My trainer told me about these oils I could take for weight loss and I tried those. I can't remember the name of them but they were expensive. (I think it was CLA or something close to that) and while I did drop 10lbs (down to 182) my periods also went crazy (2 a month, then very irregular) and I had water diarrhea all the time. It seemed like everything I ate went right through me. That might have been why I lost weight.
My trainer finally screwed up enough in missing appointments that I went to the gym owner and told him about it and he fired the guy and decided to train me himself. The owner is a really nice guy, but he doesn't understand my health issues at all. I have explained it to him a million times and he just seems so baffled as to why I can't do his work outs (he's a former Marine and I actually really hurt my hip trying to lift the weight he wanted me to lift) and he seems to think my fatigue is just laziness.
After I hurt my hip I just quit. I was gaining back the weight I had lost, I had decided I was going back to school full time and that took all the energy I had, I was extremely discouraged that I had spent all this money and still ended up fat, fatigued, and injured.
The owner wanted me to eat about 1200 calories a day and a lot of fruit for energy and while I did have more energy eating the fruit I also just found myself more hungry all the time.
When I went back to school (Fall of '11) I tried to keep my calories down since I was sedentary, but it's hard to to when your food choices are so limited like mine are. **If I eat dairy, in any other form than hard cheese, I break out in cystic acne and have gassy, watery bowel movements that I can't control** So this is what I ate while in school:
Breakfast was usually about 600 calories and was sausage and water or coffee.
Lunch was a chunk of hard cheddar and some nuts OR some ground beef and an apple.
Dinner: either chicken w/ skin and a side veggie or ground beef with a very low sugar sauce and maybe a piece of 90% dark chocolate.
I didn't track calories but tried to eat only enough to keep me from being hungry.
So here we are at the end of January '12 and I have regained almost all the weight I had lost. I'm a little over 200 lbs. My period is really screwed up and I had it for the past month. My GYN says I have adenomyosis and since I don't want to take the pill because I'm afraid of blood clots at my age and I also don't want to gain more weight I am looking at my only option as being a hysterectomy. I have to shave my chin and jaw line every few days and I look "puffy" in my face like I'm retaining water all the time. Every time I do very much for activity (like my internship that I am trying to complete has me standing for 7 hours a day) I cramp and bleed and the cramps have been so bad that I was given a narcotic pain reliever at the ER.
Other food sensitivities include: severe stomach pain when I eat avocados more than about twice a week
Same thing with eggs eaten frequently
Other health issues:
Really bad heat intolerance and hot flashes at night (I live in the desert and it's to the point I can't even go for a walk in the summer because I nearly pass out from the heat. Even now in the winter I sleep with the window open and in front of a fan and still wake up sweating)
I take half of a 75 mg Levoxyl every day for my thyroid and even though my GP wants me to take more, when I do I get really scary heart palpitations.
Speaking of heart palps, I have them a lot right before my period and if I eat too much sugar. For example, there were some gluten free cookies that I thought would be ok to try and I only ate a couple when my heart started to flip flop around. Same thing happens with a bit too much fruit or any kind of sugar. I have had my heart tested by a very good cardiologist and I have no cardiac issues.
I'm sad, withdrawn and weepy all the time.
I have terrible panic attacks when my husband drives and small ones when I drive on the freeway.
I take a small amount of Klonopin (0.5 mg) everyday and have for about 20 years to help combat the panic attacks. The panic attacks started when I was a teenager.
Can anyone help me? I feel like such an incredible failure!! My weight affects everything, including my marriage and I cry all the time when I'm alone because I just feel so depressed about having tried yet again and failed yet again and never being able to complete anything I finish.
I'm sorry I told my whole life story, but I'm just hoping someone can give me even the slightest bit of help!
First off - I don't think you should call yourself Primal Failure. I read your whole post and I don't think you are a failure - rather that you have tried very hard to sort out your problems. My first thoughts are adrenal fatigue, hormones (any possibility of getting your hormone levels properly tested?), thyroid etc. Maybe a combination of different things?
I don't have any experience of naturopathic physicians but it would seem that some people get good results from an engaged physician. It seems to me that you've been left to muddle through all of this on your own & I'd like to think a decent naturopath would really try to work things through with you.
I'm sorry I don't have better advice for you - I really wish you good luck in getting better & I hope someone else might come along with some good advice.
Wow, you have really been through the mill. Are you trying to eat primal now? I would suggest get back on the MDA wagon, focus on eating well, and than add back the other stuff in a slow non stressful way. I am no expert but it sounds like you need to get your hormones tested, it is not normal to cramp and bleed, even after standing for 7 hours a day, among your other problems. Keep researching to find a paleo/primal friendly doctor who is on your page. Remember you made progress before, you will again.
If it is of any consolation I did a boot camp where ex army people were the instructors. It was quite possibly the worst week of my life, I cannot imagine how awful an ex-marine would be. All that don't be lazy shite they spout.
Start to trust your instincts about your health, you seemed to do well and when you stalled you panicked. It seems for women that they lose, stall, heal, lose slower, stall, heal, keep losing and it is a process. Some of the ladies here have noticed they are not losing much in winter.
But really, do the basics bed that down and then start the deeper stuff.
I am sure you will get lots of encouragement and information that will help in starting to solve your problems.
Life. Be in it.
Ok, I am not a doctor nor do I share your symptoms - but it sounds like you have systemic inflammation issues and some kind of massive hormonal imbalance (at which point you say "well DUH"). So... think about what you can do to alleviate those two problems. Your weight, at this point, should maybe be the least of your worries.
For the inflammation, I would try eliminating EVERYTHING that's potentially inflammatory. Nightshades, all vegetable oils, eggs, all dairy including your cheese (butter's probably ok though), any grains including rice. And I - just personally - would probably take a low dose of ibuprofen every night to aid sleep. And speaking of sleep, I would make that my #1 priority, along with JUST long walks at a brisk pace for exercise.
For the hormone stuff - make sure you're taking your vitamin D and get your iron levels checked (especially as you've been bleeding excessively), and examine your environment for stuff that could upset your hormone levels. Lots of plastic in your kitchen? Do you microwave plastics ever? I think for most people these things aren't problems, but obviously SOMETHING is messing you up so it's best to err on the side of caution. Try to eliminate plastics, scented products, most cleaners except soap, vinegar and baking soda. If you can, find out if other people in your area seem to be experiencing hormonal upsets too - maybe you're downstream from something.
It sounds like your overtraining and calorie restriction have put your body way out of balance. I think you need to correct that balance and regain some mental peace before it'll swing back again. Focus on rest, maybe meditation, eating enough to satisfy you of foods that aren't going to exacerbate the problem, sleeping well, and gentle exercise. And be okay with the notion that it will probably take a long time before you feel truly healthy, but that it CAN happen as long as you and the people around you are committed to making your health a priority.
Thank you so much to everyone who has responded. It means a LOT just to be heard. Sometimes it's hard to see people who have lost tons of weight when you struggle to lose any and then gain it back even though you still try to keep it off.
I haven't added grains back into my diet since the day I went primal and after all the trouble they caused me I never will. I went to the doctor this afternoon to pick up the hormone tests he ordered and all I got were some estrogen results that I have no idea how to interpret and a bunch of other results like ferratin and cholesterol (mine's not looking so good). I am happy to share the results with anyone who might be able to help.
I will look into all the suggestions made here and see what I can do to help myself. Thanks again to any and all who read and/or replied.
Hi! I will just add to the chorus of people are feel that you actually WERE successful when you were on a primal diet. You obviously really want to lose weight, but feeling mentally healthy and having good energy levels is much more important. If those things are in place, you will almost certainly lose weight. Think about this, it takes a long a long time to gain weight, why do we always expect to lose weight at super speed? Even if you only lose 1 lb per month, that's still 12 lb. per year! If your quality of life is good throughout that year and you continue on the same path, then you can look forward to another 12 lb. of weight loss in year 2. Try to be patient, and don't beat yourself up. I started eating primally in August and have only started losing weight in the last month. I don't know what took so long, but I stuck with it because there have been noticeable improvements in other aspects of my health.
There are a lot of people on this board who love to analyze labs so I'm sure if you post them, you will get some help. You might want to look into tracking your Vitamin D level and getting it to optimum level. I've joined the study at GrassrootsHealth and I think having an optimal D level has really helped with my energy and moods.