Weighty problems

Sometime, maybe around 3rd grade, I was with my mom at the mall, and she ran into someone she new–a cousin, a coworker, a friend, I don’t remember that much–and I recall overhearing that person saying that I was a bit overweight.  My mom’s response was “It’s baby weight. She’ll grow out of it.”

That stuck in my memory. I’m not sure exactly how long it took for me to realize it wasn’t true, but for the longest time, I was certain I’d be able to lose the weight.  I wasn’t inactive, even though I spent a large amount of time reading. And while I did like candy and ice cream, I didn’t go completely overboard when I ate.

Instead of losing weight, I gained. My weight continued to inch upward, edging from overweight in grade school to obese in college.

I tried pretty much anything you can think of.  Appetite suppressants. Low calorie, low sugar, low carb.  Exercise.


One of my most favorite snack combos, and one I have to severely moderate.

During all this, I did learn some stuff.  Potato chips have an almost immediate impact. Soda, too, though to a slightly lesser extent.  Other high carb foods like pasta, breads, candy, cookies, cake, and ice cream have varying effects, always dependent on the amount I consume, the other foods I’ve had that day, and how active I’ve been.

Of everything I’ve tried, low carb had more results.  Meaning, I lost maybe five pounds.  But I wasn’t willing to sustain it–I refused to cut out Dr Pepper and ice cream completely.  I know my food weaknesses, and I moderate.

When I got my job, and finally had decent enough health insurance, I started going to my husband’s general practitioner.  She did blood tests for pretty much everything.  Checked my blood sugar (within normal levels), triglycerides (high, but they always have been since Mom first tested them), thyroid (normal), and anything else she could think of.  She found nothing to explain my issues with weight.

So I started exercising more, and the food was a bit more regulated, leaning toward low carb.  I bought a new treadmill to replace the old one and bought a Wii and exercise games. I used both regularly for about a year, and my back stopped aching and cramping, muscles started getting definition, and my stamina and endurance got better.

Then I got sick and diagnosed with bronchitis.  The GP prescribed prednisone.  I stopped exercising because just breathing would make me cough, and I didn’t want to exacerbate anything.  I lost a few pounds–sick, and steroid-type meds.

The weight came back, plus some, once I got better, and since then, I haven’t been able to get back into the same physical health.  I still have some of the muscle; I still have the endurance and stamina, but I haven’t managed to get my core muscles back to where I don’t have to stop doing whatever to stretch my back.

When I turned 30, I decided to stop taking birth control. Weight was part of the decision–my GP agreed that stopping should help me lose weight–and the other part was stroke risk, since there seemed to be a possible familial risk there.

About three years ago, I started seeing an OB/GYN–I’d been previously been going to Planned Parenthood because of lack of money/health insurance–and the doctor believed I might have polycystic ovarian syndrome–PCOS.  Three main symptoms are irregular menstruation, excess androgen (male hormones) which can show as excess hair growth, and polycystic ovaries.

My OB ordered bloodwork–she tested my testosterone and insulin levels, and because of the history of stroke, tested for the possibility of genetic risk.  The test for stroke came back negative, so it seems like I don’t have any more risk than would be expected.The testosterone and insulin levels came back high.  My actual diagnosis is insulin resistant PCOS.

This means it’s difficult for me to lose weight.

One of the treatments is metformin, which is mostly used to treat type 2 diabetes.  The way my GP explained it to me is that my body overproduces insulin to keep my blood sugar low, but it doesn’t use that insulin efficiently.  The metformin is supposed to correct that.

I’ve been taking metformin for nearly three years, and while it’s been a slow process, I have seen some improvement.  The highest weight I’ve reached, when I first visited the OB, was 250–my personal highest, weight in the morning before any food, was slightly lower at 248.  This morning, my weight was just about 238.

Not a big difference, but a difference.  Especially when my weight tends to jump up and down a couple pounds before it finally drops, and then repeats the same thing.  And when I’ve been exercising inconsistently for a variety of reasons.

It’s progress, and going in the right direction.

About Rachel

I'm a writer in progress, and in my day job I copyedit/solve puzzles.
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