I am fat. Well, technically, by body mass index, I am over weight. I have never been thin, but I used to be significantly less fat. I was once about 155 lbs, average for my height of 5′ 8″. I always have had trouble losing weight but about 4 years ago I started steadily gaining weight. Nothing super fast but about 5 to 8 lbs per year (you do the math to figure out what I weigh now). I could not figure out why I was gaining weight. I ate well. I meticulously watched my calories and macro nutrients. I exercised. I exercised some more. I started eating even less. I still gained weight.
To figure out why I could not lose weight over the last four years I have consulted the following:
- My General Practitioner;
- Eight different Registered Dieticians;
- Three Nutritionists;
- Two Therapists;
- A Naturopathic Physician; and
- A Chiropractor who informed me that despite all my failures that he could help me.
In pursuit of an answer I have spent well over $20,000 (writing that number is beyond scary) and countless hours logging food, traveling to and from offices all the way from New York City and Maine, breathing into gas exchange metabolic test machines, swabbing spit for cortisol tests (yes, multiple tests with different practitioners), freezing feces for analysis, preparing meticulously designed meals and gulping supplements by the dozen. At one point in time I was taking 12 Paratosin, 6 Biliven, 12 Allotocin, 6 Renovin, 6 HCL and 1 tsp of Max D per day. Yes, 42 PILLS PER DAY with absolutely no results. I stopped eating. I was diagnosed with “Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified” as I was way too fat to be anorexic. I just kept gaining weight. I swear that every person with whom I worked thought I was lying about what I ate and the amount of exercise I did. I figure they all imagined that I snuck peanut butter cups into bed with me at night. I started to avoid going to the doctor’s office when I was sick simply because I did not want to get weighed. I couldn’t face what a failure I was. All these people, all this money, all these methods and absolutely NOTHING worked. I got to the point that if I saw one more “testimonial” for the weight loss benefits of Shakeology on FaceBook I was going to assault the unsuspecting poster.
Last month things finally changed. While going through a pre-op physical for my upcoming knee surgery the doctor asked if I had any concerns. For the 100th time I stated that I cannot lose weight. I got the normal response about set points and maybe my body “liked” this weight. I then mentioned that I had been off a birth control for four years and had never been pregnant. That statement elicited a whole new series of questions — how regular is your menstrual cycle? do you have issues with acne? have you had glucose numbers tested recently? Rather than leaving with a pat on the back, I left with a referral to a gynecologist. The appointment with the gynecologist went as all other appointments have gone until she asked me whether I had any other concerns. Again, I told her I had concerns that I was unable to lose weight. She then asked me if I had tried diet and exercise. I literally burst out crying and recited my long list of failures (and this time included that I was unable to get pregnant for good measure). She referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist. After an hour of in depth questions by the reproductive endocrinologist and a vaginal ultra sound she diagnosed me with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (“PCOS”). Essentially I have numerous small cysts on my ovaries. These cysts interfere with hormone production and cause insulin resistance. So, pretty much no matter what I eat my body turns it into sugar and then stores it as fat. Finally, I have an answer. I’m scheduled for a ton of blood work to determine the best course of treatment. Perhaps, maybe, now I will be able to lose weight.
What floors me about this entire experience is not how long it took for me to get an answer, but rather than no one actually paid attention to what I was saying. I repeatedly told medical professionals, RDs, nutritionists, therapists, chiropractors and naturopaths that I was seriously trying to lose weight and that despite my best efforts I kept gaining weight. I must have been brushed off a dozen times. I am not shy, I do not cower or clam up in front of medical professionals and I do not mind advocating for myself. Despite all of this, it took relaying the fact that I have never been pregnant to get taken seriously. This doesn’t seem right. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that the system of health care providers I utilized was not working, here’s hoping that now that I have a diagnosis it may start working for me.