No matter where I go these days, people ask me how much weight I have lost. I am proud to say I have lost 105 pounds! Many immediately want to know if I had weight loss surgery or if I had joined Weight Watchers or one of the other assisted weight loss programs. I proudly say I lost each and every pound on my own. While I still have 20 more pounds to lose, I thought I would use My Unplanned Life and a series of posts to share what worked for me as well as what I have learned about medication, food, exercise and the importance of paying attention to the way we treat our bodies. I have battled with my weight for several decades and believe as Maya Angelou says “when we know better, we do better.”
I remember the exact moment when I ‘got real’ with myself about losing weight. I was at an appointment with my Internist soon after I had been in the hospital with an a-fib and flutter problem. We were talking about my recent weight gain and he said, “We should probably talk about gastric bypass since you aren’t able to exercise like most people.” The words ‘most people’ struck me. Wasn’t I like most people…just because I have a spinal cord injury did that make me an exception? My second thought was people in wheel chairs are able to exercise…what is wrong with me?
The next day I woke up still thinking about the appointment and knew my current doctors, as well as the doctors in my past, were contributing to me feeling sorry for myself. I needed to own up to ME…spinal cord injury and all or I was going to have to consider weight loss surgery. I sat down and made a promise to myself with some specific goals and a timeline. I knew what to do…I just had to get it done.
The first and most important step in my weight loss quest was finding a new doctor, which is what I did – an endocrinologist, who I have written about in past posts. While I wasn’t thrilled about adding another doctor to my ever-growing list, I knew I needed someone different and new. Dr. U. certainly was like no one I had ever seen. Endocrinologist diagnose and treat hormone imbalances and problems by helping to restore the normal balance of hormones in your body. It’s my opinion every person should see an endocrinologist at some point since our hormones can easily be thrown off-balance and we may never know it. I knew my endocrine system had to be out of whack since my body had been through so much. If I have learned anything though this process is that our bodies do tell us things but we often choose not to listen.
Dr. U. immediately discovered some things in my blood work other doctors missed. I had Cushing’s syndrome from all the steroids I had been given during the last seven years and was diabetic. My body had also been under so much stress from the Dr. Liar court case and from all the medical problems since the injury. I needed to detox my body and not allow any of my doctors to use steroids of any type in my treatment plan. I knew it was going to be difficult since steroids were used to help in my pain management, but it had to be done. I also took a four-week class on how to manage diabetes.
In addition, every six months I had and continue to have blood work done, including my thyroid, vitamin B-12, iron, Complete Metabolic and Lipid Panels, Cortisol, ACTH as well as any other tests that may be needed. I take supplements and adjust my diet based on the findings of my blood work. I also have a sluggish thyroid, but have known about that since I was in my late 20’s. I manage that with medication.
I knew I had to find some type of exercise I could at least tolerate and could do with my injury without increasing my pain. With those limitations in mind I talked with my physical therapist about how I used to enjoy swimming. While I couldn’t imagine putting on a bathing suit, I swallowed my pride; bought two with the longest skirts I could find and began walking in our neighborhood pool in the evening with my husband. We walked and talked and the weeks turned into months. I found I loved being in the water and by the end of the summer I was signed up for aquatic physical therapy. The chore of exercising was suddenly something I really enjoyed and the days when I didn’t go to the pool…I missed it. Before I knew it, I was feeling healthier and stronger and the scale was beginning to move in the right direction for a change. Talk about being motivated.
Coming up…Getting REAL about food
©My Unplanned Life and http://www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2013