We have all heard the expression, “Persistence Pays,” right? But is it something YOU, deep inside your core, believe?
As a chronic babe (or dude), you really should find the way to push that expression right to the root of who you are. This is a hard life! It inspires you to “get tough” in so many ways and taking that inspiration and turning it into something real is your key to THRIVING.
You all know I have fibro but most of you do not know this is not my first chronic medical condition. I will spare you the long version but my first chronic medical problem was a birth defect in my hips serious enough my family did not think I would be able to walk and eventually hypothyroidism found me. I would also learn I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which tacks-on insulin resistance and that is really where this part of my story starts.
Thyroid issues are widely known as weight loss speed bumps. In case you do not know, the thyroid is the master switch for the body’s metabolic processes. When it falters, the metabolism is not sure what to do. While I know that now, it was not something I understood until I had been a patient for over 10 years.
It is likely I was born with PCOS because once I was diagnosed and eventually learned all the tell-tale symptoms, I do not recall a time in my life they were not present. One of the non-reproductive hallmarks of this condition is obesity.
A double whammy.
When I first started trying to change the number on the scale in 2002, I had one goal bigger than any number on the scale:
To Live With Grace: For me that meant, avoiding stooping to the drastic and dangerous measures of my disordered-eating-past while learning to love myself. It also included not calling myself a cow every time I saw my reflection. It was not about my clothing size, the number on the scale, or anything else but being wholly, healthy with all me–faults, foibles, fat thighs and all. I knew I could not change my medical conditions but I was determined to find ways to mitigate their effects on my body. It was about evoking REAL change. It was about taking control of my health rather than feeling victim to it. Typing it out I guess it was my first try at THRIVING (I am totally chuckling that this is the first time I made that connection).
I did not have a goal weight then nor do I have one now–technically, I’ll explain later–because I knew I could not go back to being ruled by the numbers. I once had abs so tight I could do 75 sit-ups in one minute and legs so strong I could box squat 220 pounds but I hated that body.
In 2002, I was not sick yet but I was not sure I could reach those numbers again partially because hypothyroidism was going to make the whole project difficult so I had to learn to get tough, tougher than I had ever been. I was returning to college so I set a rule for myself to take a fitness class every single semester and to learn everything I could about the “right” way to lose weight and be healthy.
I kept those rules. I learned so much that my favorite fitness instructor used to email me questions about fads other students were asking her about. She probably knew it made me feel really good about myself to have the answer. I joined a support group on WebMD and started holding myself publicly accountable for my actions. I still have friendships from that group but in time it became a difficult place for me to be and hold fast to my original goal. As I would see the other “losers” dropping their weight doing the things I was doing, eating the foods I was eating and my scale would remain, stoically, the same week after frustrating week.
From 2002 to 2005 my AVERAGE weight loss was 1/4 of a pound per week. A freakin’ fast food burger…you know those things I gave up to accomplish that in the first place…a week!!!
I was working HARD too! I graduated from college with honors so that meant A’s in my fitness classes and they don’t just hand those things out like candy…err yoga mats. But, I graduated college smaller than I started by at least 60 pounds. I say “at least” because I never knew my starting weight until I had been losing for about three months but my pants were a snug women’s 28. My almost beginning weight was 274 pounds. My lowest weight was a few months after graduation, on 24 October 05 at 212.2. I was feeling mighty sassy in my juniors 19 flare leg jeans with the cut-off hem.
I maintained that loss until I remarried in 2007 and promptly put back 20 pounds when all of my healthy habits started slipping. It’s a long story but the relationship was doomed from the beginning and by the time it crashed and burned in 2009 fibromyalgia had already cast a shadow on my life but I would not know its name for several more months.
By some weird coincidence, I discovered this morning that I recorded my weight on my last day as a full-time, working adult–236.6 pounds on 21 September 09. As I was looking through my past weights I can tell you when I started taking Lyrica and Cymbalta just by my the huge spikes in my weight. But kudos to me that I was still brave enough to keep track.
And that brings me to persistence. Scroll back up and read my original edict to myself: To Live with Grace. Fibro helped me forget that for a while. However, fibro has also helped me reignite it with a depth of passion I never had before.
In the meantime, I learned my hypothyroidism is actually Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I am telling you I KNEW IT all along and I kept fighting for the test to prove I was right. When I brought the results back to my current GP, he slumped in his chair and apologized profusely for not believing in me. But, that knowledge is as powerful as the struggle to obtain it. It also forced him to make a radical adjustment to my medication and BOOM I started losing weight almost like a normal person. It is why I decided against weight loss surgery.
I say “almost normal” because I am averaging 1/2 a pound per week. It is actually 1-3 pounds on the weeks I lose and then 0 on the occasional weeks I do not. It is as close to “normal” as my weight loss journey has ever been. I am still fighting. I am still learning. I am still willing to be persistent.
This morning I reached a weight I have not seen since 17 April 2011, 261 pounds so I am here to beg you not to give up. If you have fibromyalgia, PCOS, Hashimoto’s, and/or 27 other diagnoses, do not let them stand in your way.
Focus on your good health because it will automatically improve your bad.
For now, I have the goal to see the weight I was on my last working day. It is important for me to reclaim that number. Then I will go for my lowest known adult weight because giving up my grasp on it was more dangerous to the real me than fibro will ever be. Perhaps I can even go for my very healthy former weight when I was anything but a healthy person.
For today, I am this weird mix of “YAY” for reaching this goal and “NEXT” as I look toward my next lowest weight.