I have spent the last two years struggling with weight gain I just could not explain.
I watched every morsel I put into my mouth, exercised like no one’s business and still could not get the scale to move -- except up. My middle (stomach area) was flabby and puffy and spilled over the top of my jeans. The kind of middle you read about that says it’s not good and leads to all kinds of nasty health ailments. I had never experienced this before, and it was alarming.
In addition to the weight gain, I also had issues with:
- Sleeping - I could fall asleep but I couldn’t stay asleep.
- Acne - My face started breaking out like crazy, too. I have never had a great complexion but this was cystic type acne. My dermatologist and concealer were my BFF’s. My acne never really cleared up and it was a constant battle to contain. Not to mention, I was popping antibiotics with every outbreak, which seemed constant.
- Foggy brain - I sometimes experienced having a “foggy” brain. I had trouble concentrating, was restless (more mentally than physically) and couldn’t seem to link two thoughts together at times.
Bottom line: I wasn’t myself.
During a routine physical, I talked with my doctor about it, and I have to say, I was surprised by the lack of support I received. I remember leaving my appointment feeling dismissed and not having any answers. It wasn’t until my next physical the following year that I started to press the issue more. The scale had risen – again. During this appointment, I was reminded that “things happen” as you “get older.” Age seems to be an easy label for a number of things.
I was desperate for answers and frustrated. I asked if she could run some blood work but she said there really wasn’t a need for her to do that. All signs pointed to the fact I was healthy – clear lungs and good blood pressure. Unexplained weight gain, acne, sleepless nights and foggy brain aren’t enough? In her view, they weren’t.
I’m the type that does not take no for answer very lightly. My intuition was screaming that something wasn’t right, so I went to Google U and started reading anything I could to educate myself. A Google bar is a great education tool. I stumbled on some articles about how hormones can affect your overall health and how certain foods can contribute to hormone imbalances.
I’m not a doctor and don’t claim to be – but research by Sara Gotfried, MD, resonated with me. She has done extensive research on hormone imbalances and she has written many books on the subject. One place she suggested starting was a food elimination diet to try and gauge what foods, if any, could be having adverse effects on overall health.
I had gotten a clean bill of health from my doctor, so I started the elimination diet. I didn’t see any harm in trying it. I don’t have any tests or extensive research to share but I saw positive results. For one, the scale started to trend downward. When you eliminate foods from your diet, this is common but weight loss was not the only point of this exercise. This is what I learned:
- Grains made me feel bloated (and gassy). When I really looked at my diet, I was eating a ton of them. I love grains.
- Dairy also made me feel bloated (and gassy). I love dairy products. I mean, I really love dairy products. Yogurt was a regular breakfast food, as was cereal with milk. Let’s not even talk about cheese. (I miss cheese!) I believe dairy might have played a big role in my acne.
- I’m addicted to caffeine. That was one dragon I could not slay in this exercise. I get sweaty palms just thinking about it! I made it one day without caffeine, had a caffeine withdraw headache like no other and immediately ran to a local coffee shop for a fix. What can I say?
Foods that I thought were healthy for me were having adverse effects on my body. I know there are a number of books and a great deal of research on our food production these days and how it has changed over time to deal with mass production, disease, insects and more. In short: Not good. I have to say, I believe I developed these sensitivities over time
During this process, my face started to clear up, my weight continued to decline and – one of the most important discoveries – I had more energy and was more alert. I started to feel like myself again.
I have read enough about diets to know that they really don’t work. It’s lifestyle changes and adopting new habits that are lasting and sustainable. I knew the food elimination diet was just the beginning.
I have been a runner for a good part of my life now. However, getting older, I knew I needed to improve my strength and stability. Both needed attention. While I have been committed to guiding my health and wellness, I knew I needed help this time. I’ll write more about that journey later.
I don’t want to make this sound like I did a couple of things and miraculously started to turn my life around. I don’t like reading articles or blog posts where you go from struggle to triumph in a couple of paragraphs. It was frustrating and hard work to try and figure out what was going on. Two years, in fact, before I started down a healthier path. And, I did it on my own.
I’m not suggesting that the food elimination diet was the be-all, end-all and that everyone should try it. I knew I had a clean bill of health from my doctor and felt confident I could do this without any harm to myself or my overall health. It’s where I chose to start. I’m sharing this with you as I wish someone would have with me.
Have you struggled with similar circumstances? What path have you taken to better health and wellbeing?
My intuition, which is pretty strong, told me something was not right and it fueled my desire to figure it out – even if it was on my own. If you feel as if something isn’t quite right, it most likely isn’t. Pursue it. Ask family or friends, do some research online or get a second option from another physician. There is a ton of information and research out there and you might be surprised what you might find. I know I was.