Part I: Before
My struggle with weight began in August of 1998. Before then, I had always been thin and athletic. That month, I had a procedure done on my teeth, which led to a set of hidden infections that took eleven years to discover and clean out. In those years, the infections showed themselves in seemingly unrelated ways: near-constant illnesses, random allergy symptoms, bipolar symptoms, hypoglycemia, and a weight roller coaster where I would go up or down by 20-30 lbs in a few weeks unrelated to diet/exercise. In September 2009, the last infection was cleaned out, and within weeks, all of the above symptoms literally disappeared. At Thanksgiving in 2009, I began to work to lose the weight I gained while sick.
Before the first infection, I weighed 125 lbs, a weight that is actually undersized for my 5 ft 6, medium-to-large build (ie I look like a skeleton in photos). The ideal weight for my body type is between 140 and 160 lbs. By the time my last tooth infection was cleaned out in September 2009, my weight had reached 260 lbs. My goal was to lose 100 lbs to reach the top of my healthy weight range. Once there, I want to lose another 10-15 lbs, but my primary goal was to lose 100 lbs.
Part II: The First Loss
My weight loss journey began on November 27th, 2009 with three changes: an exercise challenge, trading in my dreadmill for an elliptical, and learning how to differentiate between physical and emotional/mental hunger. With these three changes, I lost 20 lbs in five months. I stalled out there because my exercise was never terribly consistent, I got lazy about paying attention to my body’s cues, and I had no social support system to rely on. I maintained the weight for another seven months, leading me to Thanksgiving of 2010, exactly a year from when I’d started trying to lose.
By that time, I was pretty depressed about my weight loss efforts and felt hopeless about ever losing more. The week of Thanksgiving, I woke up from a dream that I was writing a memoir about the four things fat women can’t do without people staring at her: eat, exercise, think, or be happy. Waking up from that dream sent me into an even worse depression, and I began to eat-as-punishment over the next few weeks. The worst part was knowing that that’s how I felt, that I was invisible when I wanted to be noticed, and noticed when I wanted to be invisible. I was walking around in a cloud of shame. I regained 5 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Years.
2011 – 2013
As 2011 approached, I knew I had to do something drastic. I HAD to change. I seriously considered lapband surgery, but chose instead to give myself one more chance to lose properly. I started the year with little changes again: consistent daily exercise (5-6 hours per week), more water (100 oz/day), more sleep (8 hrs/night), healthier but reasonable foods, and always paying attention to hunger cues (something I’ve discovered since is called intuitive eating). Using these basic guidelines, as well as help and support from Sparkpeople, I lost 54 lbs in 2011 and 27 lbs in 2012. I hit my goal of 100 lbs lost in February 2013, and then went into maintenance.
Part III: New Mystery Illness and Regain
Early in 2014, I underwent abdominal repair surgery. I continued to maintain my weight until I suddenly began gaining out of nowhere in May, entirely outside my control. If I look at the year as a whole, from January 1st to December 31st, I gained ~10 lbs. The bigger pattern had me maintaining for five months, gaining ~20 lbs for three months, losing ~15 lbs for two months, then starting back upwards again.
This was my big, bad year of regain due to a combination of medication, disordered eating, continued trauma for half the year, unexplained illness (turned out to be at least partly due to black mold and a new mattress I was allergic to), another cross-country move, a major injury (sprained and broken ankle/foot) that kept me from exercising, and probably about a dozen other factors that the doctors have never gotten to the root of. Overall, I regained ~50 lbs this year.
Another year, another cross-country move. I received the first of my new diagnoses, PCOS, that would later be discarded as my doctors attempted to figure out why my weight was increasing exponentially. The uncontrolled regain slowed significantly six months after I began sleeping on the allergy-mattress, in early March 2016, and stopped completely by the one-year anniversary that fall. My weight remained steady after that, and the total regain for the year was much lower: ~15 lbs.
2017 – 2019
These three years involved 1) recovering from my broken foot, 2) moving cross country for the last time, and 3) an illness in early 2018 that led to years of anosmia, dysosmia, and hive outbreaks accompanied by “catastrophic levels” of inflammation. Diagnoses came and went, with no longterm answers. During these years, I maintained at the same weight level I’d been at since the increase stopped in fall 2016, ~75 lbs higher than I’d been in 2014 before the mystery-gain began.
2020 – 2021
For most of 2020, I continued to maintain that same weight, even once the pandemic shut everything down. Symptoms, tests, doctors, and various prescriptions continued all throughout the year. In Sept/Oct, after four years of solid maintenance, a very bad reaction to Ozempic caused another surge upward in weight, which continued past the end of 2021. Over 15 months of rapid gain, I saw dozens of doctors and underwent hundreds of tests and procedures, including hospital stays and surgeries, and eventually lost mobility and my ability to exercise. Gain over those 15 months: ~40 lbs.
This year continued in the same direction as the previous 15 months, except with even fewer answers and a much slower rate of weight gain. By the end of August, I was up about 10 more pounds, making my total regain since 2014 a whopping 125 lbs, and putting me 20 lbs over my former highest weight from 2009. I began taking Mounjaro under my doctor’s very careful direction on August 30, 2022, and by the end of the year, I was down 16 lbs. There isn’t a huge change between my end of 2021 and end of 2022 photos – only 6 lbs difference between them – but it’s a step in the right direction that will hopefully continue in 2023.
Current info is on my Wellness Page.