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When Docs Don’t Help, You Help Yourself

I did say that I would be doing a post explaining some of my frustrations with the doctors that I’ve dealt with in my life so far.  Hopefully this will be the only rant-ish post I make on my blog…normally I try to be a pretty positive person!  But, as part of me coming to terms with the fact that nobody is going to lose weight for me, I’ve had to come to terms with how I feel about doctors in relation to my struggle with weight.

Before I begin, I should probably add that I don’t really think somebody is going to lose weight for me.  I know there’s no panacea – no miracle drug – that will just cause the pounds to magically melt away.  So, I certainly would never expect for a doctor to just give me a pill and send me on my way.  What I did expect, however, was for my doctors to listen to what I was saying.  No, not just listen – REALLY listen – HEAR me.  Can’t say I’ve had much luck on that one.

My family physician when I was younger didn’t really do a whole lot for me.  I was athletic all through high school and still overweight – maybe even obese already at that point.  I suppose 16 years ago maybe they didn’t really know a lot about insulin resistance/Syndrome X/metabolic syndrome (take your pick), or maybe it was just her.  The cure for my absent periods was to start me on birth control.  When I went to college and would see her for an annual check up, I’d tell her about my problems with my weight.  I didn’t feel like I was overeating, and I was still relatively active at that point in life – but I kept gaining weight.  When I told her what I was eating, her main focus was that it was good I wasn’t eating lots of burgers and greasy things…and that all the spaghetti was perfectly okay as long as I used marinara sauce but not Alfredo.  Great!  I don’t even like Alfredo sauce!  Yet I kept gaining weight.

Shortly after DH and I got married in 2000, we started trying to conceive.  That’s when I found out I have PCOS and insulin resistance.  My doc put me on Metformin and suggested we try Clomid to help with my ovulation.  I didn’t really know what that meant for me in terms of how my body dealt with food – just that it wasn’t good for TTC.  Years of TTC passed and we finally were able to conceive our son (with a little help from a reproductive endocrinologist and a turkey baster).

After our son was born, I started having pains in my gut – my gallbladder was going crazy.  After several attacks (and subsequent visits to the ER), I sought out a surgeon that I hoped would be the one to take it out.  She was recommended by a friend of mine, so off we went.  This was by far the worst experience with a doctor that I have ever had.  Honestly.  She told me I shouldn’t be worried about my gallbladder and instead should be worried about getting gastric bypass surgery.  Needless to say, she’s not the one I ended up choosing to take my gallbladder out.

Are you sensing a pattern?  Either docs aren’t giving me much information about how this whole food thing works, or they’re quick to suggest solutions without actually taking the time to talk with me.  I even had one doctor tell me it was simple math – if you take in more (calories) than you expend, you will gain weight.  Wow, you’re kidding?  It’s that simple?  Here I sit, having majored in physics in college and having taken quite a few advanced math courses, and the answer was right in front of my face.  I simply had to believe in math.

The problem is that math is not my issue (and as I find out more about insulin resistance it certainly gets more complicated).  I know what I should eat.  I know how much of it I should eat.  My issue is with willpower.  I just didn’t have enough.  I was starting to feel hopeless.

Fast forward to a year ago when we started TTC again.  The new reproductive endocrinologist we saw actually explained to me what insulin resistance was and how it was a vicious circle in terms of food and weight.  With all the hormones, I ended up gaining 15 pounds, bringing me to my heaviest weight of 350.  As I sat in my current family doctor’s office and cried because I was at my wit’s end and didn’t know how I could get my willpower under control, he listened.  He said he doesn’t believe in weight loss surgeries or pills because they don’t address the root of the issue.  (Sidenote:  Can’t say I really believe in them either – but I was at least hoping for something that would assist me as long as I did the bulk of the work myself.  Something like Alli – where as long as I did my part, I’d see some additional results.)  Then, he gave me a big pep talk.  Then, he was told by a nurse that he really needed to get moving and see his next patient – and that was the end.  In November, when my new reproductive endocrinologist told me he couldn’t get a good look at my ovaries due to my size, that was the last straw.  I asked him for help too – and he said he’d refer me to a nutritionist.

It was at that point that I realized nobody was really going to help me in the way that I wanted and needed to be helped.  I needed to see some results quickly – to have that confidence boost that would keep me going.  So, I signed up for CalorieKing.com and started tracking every single thing that I ate.  Okay, so not so much at first.  I’m a “drive by snacker” – especially when my son goes to bed – and trying to remember every little handful of popcorn or piece of chocolate or cookie was not something I could deal with.  I’ve now cut out a lot of that stuff just because it is a major PITA to try and track!  My sweet DH – who has Type 2 diabetes – and I also decided that we would start exercising in earnest.  In January, we began riding our recumbent bicycle (downstairs in our basement) on a regular basis.  I’m up to 30 min. a day, at least 4 times a week.

All that has led to a 20 pound weight loss so far.  But, I kept feeling that at 1800 calories a day and 30 min. of exercise, I should be losing more weight.  So, at the recommendation of my cardiologist, I raided Barnes & Noble and bought everything they had on the South Beach Diet.  (For normal people, I’d just recommend the library, but I get a little obsessive sometimes…)  And you know what?  The principles make sense.  I’ve always thought it was just another “fad” diet – kind of like Atkins – but the more I read, the more I like.  It makes me feel good that I don’t have to give up carbs forever – just change the way I eat them and focus on good carbs.  And, I like the fact that it has you focus on eating good fats – rather than relying so much on foods high in saturated fat.  (Not knocking the Atkins diet – I know some people that have had huge success on it.  But it just isn’t for me.  Maybe South Beach Diet won’t be either – but it’s at least something I’m willing to try!)

Which all brings us round about to today.  My goal is to start on the South Beach Diet Monday.  I have a lot of planning to do between now and then, so it might end up being Tuesday/Wednesday.  Mondays aren’t the best days to start a diet, anyway – or at least that’s what I’ll tell myself if I don’t quite make it.

Categories: Weight Loss
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