Sometimes, Diets and Exercise Do NOT Work

If you have found this post perhaps you are sitting there frantically searching the internet for what you could possibly be doing wrong.  Your diet is controlled.  You are a beast at the gym.  You are NOT losing weight.  You might even be GAINING weight.

Please feel this loving hug as I say I have been right where you are.  I have been there for over twelve years.  I understand how frustrating it is to know without a doubt you are doing the “right” things and not getting the “right” results.

However, those feelings were stirred again yesterday by the following comment to a Facebook post to a doctor’s timeline:

“Drugs or surgery aren’t going to fix what your body is telling you…exercise and eating right will….but if that’s too hard you can continue to abuse yourself I guess.”

I have to admit I typed out a rabid response.

“…abuse yourself…”

Oh hell no!

My very comment to my doctor is no one sees the care and attention I give my body.  I know people look at me and think I look this way on purpose.  I am not necessarily blaming anyone for thinking that because it is not that big of an assumption.

We are taught calories in, calories out.  If there is a deficit we lose weight, if there is a surplus we gain weight and if there is a balance we maintain weight.

Personally, I run about a 500 calorie deficit daily.  Sometimes I gain weight, sometimes I stay the same, and every once in a while my body gives up a pound just to screw with me–at least that is what it really feels like.

Then, I backspaced most of the comment only leaving the specific response to the doctor’s question.

If this person really believes that, then she cannot possible understand our struggle.

About 14 years ago I was working with a woman at a Curves for Women fitness center who said during a training meeting, “I don’t see what the problem is…I just have to think about losing five pounds and I do.”

As I read that comment, I remembered that young woman and her ignorance too.

Since then I have thought about all the times my doctors did not believe me.  I thought about the tears, the mental anguish, the confusion.  But I also thought about the determination and about how even when facing what feels like the most stubborn body on the planet I did not just throw in the towel, sit on the couch, and eat bon bons all day.

Nope.

That is not me and it is not you either.

We are tough chickies and dudes.

We know our journey better than anyone else.

We know how hard we have worked.

We know how few results we have had.

We know we have tried.

We also know we have failed.

That is the second time I have written about failing in the short time I have been chronically this journey and it is still uncomfortable for me to look at that word.

I failed.

For twelve years, I did my best.  For twelve years, I have felt bad about myself, beat myself up and have gotten to the point that whenever I eat something there is a little voice inside of me who says, “Don’t do that…it’s going straight to your ass and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

You see surgery has been off the table for me that whole time.

I have watched a couple of friends go through it and I have watched dozens of friends lose weight the “normal” way.  I wanted to be normal so a long time ago I crossed surgery off the list.

My current doctor suggested it a year ago.  I was so furious with him.

Two weeks ago, I apologized for all my evil thoughts about what an ass I thought he was.  The truth is he is a great practitioner and a really caring, compassionate person.

About a month ago, I let myself say “What if surgery is the thing my body needs?”

I mean she’s obviously confused.  She obviously missed memo about how to regulate body weight.  I have given her all the help I can.

I failed.

For the first time, I have been able to accept it was not “my” failure.

For the first time, I can say this is so far beyond my capacity as the owner of this body.

For the first time, I have been willing to look at surgery as a tool for success and NOT evidence of “my” failure.

Sometimes diets and exercise is not the answer.

Sometimes the only “abuse” I have given my body is my previous unwillingness to consider ALL weight loss options including surgery.

Sometimes, I can be a little stubborn.

Right Now

I woke up this morning with a strange sense of anxiety about the whole surgery approval process.  Interestingly enough, right now I am not afraid to have the surgery.

The process…OY!

You see I live in the desert–the actual desert which before the housing boom of the early 2000s was fairly desolate but now is the epitome of urban sprawl.   However, it is also a medical desert.

With or without insurance access to very basic medical care is better than most places.  When it comes to a specialist or if you have Medicare, finding an approved doctor or facility is often an exercise in futility.

Medicare does cover bariatric surgery but only at what they deem is a “Center of Excellence.”  A surgery clinic or hospital earns the designation by the sheer volume of procedures.  As with most things medical, volume equals predictable positive outcomes.  If the two are combined, Medicare stamps it excellent.

The closest Medicare-approved Center of Excellence is 175 miles away.  It also happens to be out-of-network with my advantage plan.  The next closest Center of Excellence is over 300 miles away and I have yet figure out if it is in-network.  The surgery center my doctor referred me to is literally just down the street from my house, is in-network but not considered excellent.

Since I obviously have yet to speak to a surgeon, I only know my procedure could be laparoscopic or open.  Of course, I am advocating for a LapBand and that procedure is laparoscopic.  Either way, the thought of driving 3-7 hours with fresh incisions and my history of blood clots does not sound like fun.

Thursday afternoon I spent nearly an hour on the phone with my plan provider.  A really kind, diligent woman named Jessica and her supervisor, who I never spoke to, spent most of that hour looking up all the details of my coverage and where I could go to have the surgery.  They both say the local surgery center 5 minutes from my front door is an approved location for my surgery.  The seemed confused about a Center of Excellence though.

Friday morning I took my insurance card to that surgery center.  I explained everything to the receptionist and she and another receptionist practically shooed me out the door.  But, I held my ground.  Finally they told me, the bariatric specialist was out of the office until Tuesday.  It was all I could do to convince them to take a copy of my insurance card so when the specialist and I talk on Tuesday she would at least have my information in front of her.  They agreed, reluctantly.

I was fine with all of this–I used to be an insurance agent so I am well aware of the process–until those moments when I was teetering between dreams and Sunday morning.

Right now, I am just anxious.

Right now, I am also wondering if my doctor has charted all my weight loss failure.  I have 12 years of failure.  Even though, he has only been my doctor for three of those years I just don’t know if he has written it down in his notes.  If not, even if I manage to have the surgery approved next week I will not be allowed to move forward until those four months of chart notes can be tucked in my file.

Right now, the thought of next 48 hours feel obnoxiously cruel.

Right now, the notebook full of notes and the pretty pink Post-it notes full of phone numbers and doodles are stressing me out.

Right now, I am going to click publish and try to move away from these tense, anxious feelings.

Right now I am going to be present to enjoy my lusciously creamy, lightly sweet coffee in my giant mug while I still can.

Grand Opening

Today, Victoria’s Secret opens in the mall just down the street from my house.

For just a moment, I let myself think about shopping there for something other than lotion.

Gotta admit…I liked those thoughts.

Most of my life I have done everything possible to shun the frilly, lacey, glittery, girlie-girl within.  Honestly, part of it is because I enjoy the part of me who is strong, confident, and intelligent and let’s be honest it is really hard to be seen for both.  But you know what I am both.

Several years ago after my husband left me and our four children for his cousin (oh yes, you read that right), I was understandably in this really dark space.  In that moment, the only way I saw to get out of there was to embrace frills, lace, glitter and Victoria’s Secret.

A friend had given me VS Strawberries and Champagne lotion as a gift.  I was hooked instantly.  It was not just the smell but the young college age girls recognizing the scent on my old-enough-to-be-their mother’s self.  Like many mothers, I was also carrying around more weight than any body needs to carry.  Some of them were just young enough to ask, “You shop at Victoria’s Secret?”

And in that moment, I realized the power in saying, “Why yes I do.”

I have been hooked every since.

In fact, at every majorly depressing junction of my life since then one of my most favorite things to do is go buy lotion and then strut my too-fluffy self around the mall just to watch people’s mouths gape.

Hey, it feels really good to be a old momma and catch some young stud staring at you and then that signature bag and back at you.

That hunka, hunka doesn’t need to know it’s only lotion and I really actually feel like my soul is dying.

But right at this moment, that brand new sparkly pink store is going to be open in just about 15 minutes.  And right at this very moment, I am wondering what my life after weight loss might feel like to go buy something other than lotion.

I’m pretty sure that feels pretty damn good too!

Yeah this is a journey to health, less pain and all the other blah, blah, blah practical reasons for using the Lap Band to override my body’s ignorant insistence on holding on to every damn morsel or crumb I swallow.

However, I’d be a damn liar if I tried to convince you, myself, or the repressed lace-lover within that I am not looking forward to taking my future junior sized self to the pink promised land.

Tiny clothes, lots of lace, feeling sexy…some of the greatest non-scale victories around.

I cannot wait to swing armfuls of glossy pink bags as I take a few laps around the mall.

I Think I Am at Step Five

StairsStep one: Decide to talk to doctor, referral for weight loss surgery…check  5/14/2013

Step two: Call surgeon’s office because they haven’t called me…check 5/21/2013

Step three: Call a Center of Excellence surgeon because the one I was referred to is not approved….check 5/21/2013

Step four: Fax new surgeon’s office my insurance and id…check 5/20/2013

Step five: Call to verify because they haven’t called….check 5/22/2013

I just hung up with the patient advocate at Surgical Weight Control Associates in Las Vegas.  She did receive my fax.  She took a brief history and said she could have the authorization as early as this afternoon.

I am literally shaking.

Deep breath….

Granted there was a lot before Step One as I explained in my “A New Beginning” post but for this part of my journey I am on my way.

Two scrambled eggs for breakfast and coffee, yes with creamer and sugar because I have decided to enjoy it while I still can, plus a little hand holding from one of my best friends.

All new beginnings start with a good breakfast and a great support system.

I guess Step Six is waiting nervously for the phone to ring…if it is not, it should be.

A New Beginning…

…and I arrived at this new beginning by being willing to change.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your  attitude~~Maya Angelou.

For at least 12 years, I have been trying to be a loser–a weight loser.  I have run the gamut, stopping just short of gimmicks or other things detrimental to my health.

I have failed.

Those three words are not words I string together very often–I’m a writer–so I know I do not put them together.  But, they are real and it is time I faced them.

I remember very clearly lamenting on some message board a few years back that the rules of weight loss seem to not apply to my body.  Some smartass started railing on me about it.  He even went so far as to call me crazy and tell me I did not deserve to be skinny because I was too stupid to understand how my body works.

Oh hell nooooooooo!!!!

The truth is I do understand my body and the rules of weight loss and that is precisely how I know with 100-percent confidence that something is broken beyond the PCOS and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis I already know about.  Those two conditions alone make losing weight a challenge.

Wait?  What do ovaries and thyroid have to do with one’s ability to lose weight?  Just everything, that’s all.

Let me explain as briefly as possible.

Both the ovaries and the thyroid are responsible for hormone production.  In fact, the thyroid is the control center for the whole body.  If either of these are not humming along at optimal levels, the body does not know how to regulate itself.  Either can inhibit one’s ability to lose weight.

Lucky me, I have both.  Yay!

However, there are ways to regulate both so the body is no longer confused.

Somehow, my body managed to miss that memo because all of my hormones are optimized.

In 2012 I started watching Live Big with Ali Vincent, the first woman to win The Biggest Loser.  From this program I noticed she wears a curious device on her arm.  So I did a search and found it is called a BodyBugg and it measures your every move and estimates your metabolic rate.  I was even more intrigued to find it had been clinically proven to be accurate.  I am a bit of a research junkie so I love data.  I also wanted something to show my doctor so he could better help me fix whatever is broken.

SOLD!

BodyBugg revealed something surprising.  My hormonally challenged body actually has a MONSTER metabolism!

What the hell!!!!!!!

There were multiple days a month my body was burning 3000 calories a day!

What?????  The?????  Hell????

You know I might have believe this device was bunk except I bought one for my husband too so I could see his results and compare them with my own.  This Bugg is cool!

But, it also became a torture device.

As I learned about my monster metabolism and weighed and measured every morsel I put in my body, and watched hopelessly as the weight stayed and even increased, I was crushed.  Now my computer was telling me–just like the doctors have been–that I’m not being honest about what I am eating.

Bullshit!!!

Thankfully, I was going through the experience with my husband so he could verify that every time I put food in my mouth I haul out cups and spoons and a food scale.  “Honey, you’re not crazy–this is messed up.”

When my initial six month subscription ended I did not renew, not because failings of the device, but because it had become negative reinforcement.

My body failed.

AGAIN!

During a doctor’s appointment in the BodyBugg period and when I was ranting about my thyroid, my doctor suggested maybe it was time to talk about weight loss surgery.

I left his office in tears.

He was not listening.

I almost never went back to him.

I was so mad.

FURIOUS!

So I kept using my Bugg and spent the next several months fuming.

I thought my prayers were answered when a thyroid specialist came to town offering a free consultation.  Though I do admit I waivered for awhile.

Emotionally, I could not be disappointed again.

Finally, I set the appointment and for the first time a doctor did not think I was crazy.  He ordered a full workup–even though I have had hypothyroidism for nearly 20 years I have never had a full thyroid panel.  The results were astonishing.  My body IS broken and beating up my thyroid.  Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease.

Let me just say I have been screaming for this test for YEARS!

Vindicated!

And now for the bad news….the doctor is not covered by my insurance, the six month treatment protocol is $8,000 out-of-pocket, and we cannot afford it.

It was like being in a car accident when everything is moving in slow motion and then the force of the impact hits you.

Well, I’ve used one swear word already so I’ll save you from reading more but please insert whatever expletive you use.

&*$%&$*%#$^%&*$&%^*@&^#*$^#*&$^^#(*&$^#*&$%^&#^%$&^%$&*#@^$&#^

Back to my regular doctor.

It has been six months since all of that happened.

My thyroid levels are back to normal.  Though my doctor and I are disagreeing on the right reference level but I am still stuck.

“Your body is just one that would survive the Apocalypse,” my doc said.

“For whatever reason, this is your lot…and I do not envy you one bit,” the trim and a touch handsome physician said.

And that is when the tears started.

I spent an hour with him that day–May 14, 2013.

We arrived at the frustrating conclusion that I am one of the “lucky” ones with what is now being called “diet resistant obesity.”

I learned about the term just a few days before that appointment and even emailed my doctor all the information.

When you can honestly say you have done everything and your doctor agrees, in his words, “the most logical and rational thing you can do” is agree to weight loss surgery.

The moment I did….I felt EMPOWERED!