I have been asked by several people how I am doing working with Dr. Jeff Donatello.  I’ve generally avoided answering the question as I have only been working with him for 4 weeks and I’ve committed to a 6 month program.  That being said here’s my first interim report.

The Good – I am sleeping better.  I’ve never slept well.  Normal for me was passing out at 9 p.m. and waking up between 10 and 20 times per night.  For the past few weeks I’ve been sleeping much better.  Some nights I go 6 or even 7 hours without waking up, although on the “good” nights I’ll wake up at 3:45 or 4 a.m. and be up for the morning, which is a little early even for me.  My training is also going well.  I don’t know if this had anything to do with the supplements and the diet or the fact that I took two months off from training and began training again in January with my head and my heart in a really good place.

The Bad – Unfortunately right now the bad is very bad.  Over the past four weeks I have gained 8 pounds.  I am 5′ 8″ tall and weigh 190 lbs.  In November of 2011 I weighed 155lbs.  Over the past 2 years and 3 months I have gained 35 lbs while training on average 15 hours per week and avoiding sugar and processed foods.  While the weight gain has been dramatic, the last four weeks were the fastest I have ever gained.  Based on BMI I am currently borderline obese.

The weight gain is difficult both physically and emotionally.  On a physical level all my clothes are tight and uncomfortable and I can feel my fat squish and compress every time I move.  In many ways I feel as if I am wearing a poorly fitting borrowed fat suit rather than living in a body that is my own.  I understand the need to love your body and be appreciative of everything that it can do but its really difficult to love something that feels like an unwelcome intruder.  It is also difficult to reconcile my fitness with my current physical state.  I know that I have very large aerobic base and that there’s speed somewhere deep within me but its difficult to get it to come out when I’m carrying around so much extra weight.  Weight may be a limiter but in my case its become both literally and figuratively the most massive limiter.  During my run today I was thinking I should start training wearing a weighted vest so I can prepare my body for the additional weight that seems to be inevitable.

On an emotional level the additional weight gain is devastating (actually devastating may be an understatement, I was in a puddle of tears several times over the past week trying to bring myself to accept the numbers on the scale).  Even though I know on an intellectual level that I’m doing what I am supposed to do in order to lose weight, on an emotional level I cannot help but label myself a disappointment and a failure.  What’s worse is that it is difficult to express my frustration and despair without receiving well meaning, but inapplicable and irrelevant advice in return.  Over the past 2 years I have spent over $10,000 seeing various doctors, a half dozen RDs and nutritionists and now Dr. Donatello — telling me about portion control and whole foods isn’t helpful, I was there two years ago.  Sometimes I just want a shoulder on which to cry and a space to be vulnerable.

I also feel bad for Shaun.  I know he wants to do anything and everything he can to make me feel better but unfortunately other than being there to allow me to vent and cry, this is my problem and mine alone.  I don’t need support or encouragement to prepare healthy foods on the weekend, or to wake up early to get my training in, those things are all like clockwork for me.  Unless he can fix my body or re-wire my brain to make me accepting of my size, there’s not much he can do and it frustrates him to no end.

I have made a 6 month commitment to Dr. Donatello and I know that this is a process, not magic.  That being said, while I am trying to be hopeful at this moment I am having a very hard time.  I also know that if I don’t stay committed to this process there is really nothing else for me to do.  When starving myself results in weight gain there just may not be any solution.  Hopefully when I report back in at 8 weeks I will have some good (or at least better) news.

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Kelly Burns Gallagher

mccarter english employment litigator / oiselle team runner / coeur sports triathlete / sonic endurance coach & race director / witsup.com writer / dartmouth '02 / emorylaw '05


Karen Moy · February 23, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Hi Kelly! I have written before on your post, don’t know if you remember me. Anyway, I can really empathize with some of what you’re going through. I am older than you (I’ll be 59 in August), but I have had weight issues all my life. I started swimming when I was 4, running when I was 14, and became a serious cyclist in my early 30’s. I did my first tri in 1986 when I was 31 yrs. old. Over the years, I have completed 60+ triathlons. I competed at Louisville in 2008 and made it half way through the run. It was really hot and I was having issues.

I have worked out 15-20 hours per week for about 15 years, until this past year when I hired a trainer and nutritionist, both of whom had helped me in the past. My one BIG THING–I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis about 12 years ago when I was 46. GAME CHANGER! After having two kids when I was OLD–38 & 42, I had to work really hard to lose the baby weight. But it did come off. With RA and the meds I’m on, in addition to going through menopause–well, let’s just say it’s been a huge challenge.

Last February I totally changed my diet. I’ve eaten “healthy” for years, and was a vegetarian until I was pregnant with my son. However, I discovered that I have a ton of food allergies, or sensitivities. Gluten, soy, wheat, dairy, corn, peanuts are really bad for me. I also have to stay away from night shade foods–tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, etc. Cutting those out of my diet really helped me lose weight. I dropped 25 pounds last year. I’m 5’2″ and feel best when I’m around 130-135. Now, I’m really struggling again. I have not changed my diet, and still workout six days a week for 8-9 hours. But, my medication has changed several times, and I really think for me that is a huge issue. Also, I tend to not eat enough when I’m not losing. I’m about 5 lbs. heavier than I would like to be.

We all know that under-eating can cause weight gain. I just heard a doctor this morning speaking on weight loss, metabolism, and toxicity. I don’t know anything about the doctor you are working with, but I assume he knows what he’s doing.

I hope things change for you soon. It must be so hard, what you’re dealing with. I will keep you in my thoughts and look forward to some good news soon. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would just like to vent. Hang in there!

Karen Moy

Joan · February 23, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Kelly, I love you so much. Unfortunately, I know every thing you are feeling.
I can only wish you peace.

Love, Aunt Joan

Dani Kennedy · February 24, 2014 at 4:52 pm

You will find the solution to this, Kelly. You are too smart and too determined to not be successful in the end. It’s just a question of figuring out what successful is. It might be a frame of mind, not a number on the scale. In the meantime, you should know that the rest of us appreciate you for the person you are, not some random number or silhouette. You are you no matter what you weigh. I hope you can find contentment.

Leana · February 26, 2014 at 10:21 am

Kelly, I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately. It takes a lot of courage to be so open and honest about this. I’m the same height as you, and I’ve been the same weight as you and I know how much it sucks to carry that around. I’ve done an IM at that weight and climbing Richter and Yellow Lake on the old IM Canada Penticton race course was so tough. And it is so frustrating to work out so much and to see such little change.

My weight has yo-yo’d since university and I’ve found it really hard to make that scale budge these days. The good thing is you’ve made a 6 month committment to this. I know you desperately wanted to see something more positive the first four weeks in. Hang in there…trust the process. Please know that you are strong, healthy and beautiful no matter what and that you inspire so many of us.

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