Weight gain is something I have battled all of my adult life! Starting from early teens I was always on a diet or out walking the roads to reverse the weight gain from over eating. I saw this weight gain as a result of my personal faults – my laziness – greed – inability to control my eating! Therefore diets and exercise were effectively “punishment” for my faults!
Seeing as how the remedy for weight gain was a “punishment” of deprivation and exercise that I hated, I never lasted very long at it. Possibly 6 months at the most. I could keep going while I saw the weight gain reduce, but eventually I would give in and then all hell would break loose. I would tell myself that “I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb” and carry on eating all the stuff that I had deprived myself of, all the while knowing that it was the very stuff that caused the dreaded weight gain in the first place!
Diets & Exercise were “punishment” for weight gain
So there I was, caught in a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting. Weight gain followed by low self-esteem, followed by another “punishment”, weight reduction and back to the weight gain again. Totally ridiculous to some people, but that was my reality for almost 25 years. My moods were dictated by the numbers on the scales or the size of my clothes. When the numbers were low my mood was high and vice versa.
In 2011 I had to face the reality that I needed to change my overall lifestyle and approach to food. I got help from a counsellor which really gave me clarity on my relationship with food, emotional eating and practical help around eliminating junk food and sugar. Over the following 18 months I lost almost 7 stone. I started to feel really well and my overall mental and physical health improved. I had finally beaten the sugar cravings and the emotional eating was a thing of the past. I was doing great with my food and I was starting to exercise for enjoyment rather than punishment. I was running 5k a few times a week and I had stopped weighing myself every day!
Then in early 2013 I started to notice that I had low blood pressure, cold hands and feet and I was experiencing weight gain. I contacted my original counsellor and she felt that my body was adjusting to the changes. However, by October 2014 I had more symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, hair loss, acne, PMS and more weight gain. I was perplexed. At this stage I was studying to be a Health and Wellness coach. I went to my doctor, who was unable to help me as all the regular blood tests were coming back as within normal range. In January 2015 I decided to work with nutritional therapists to address my weight gain and physical symptoms.
Adrenal Fatigue & Hashimotos causing my Weight Gain!
Working with nutritional therapists I discovered that I most likely had adrenal fatigue, gluten intolerance, leaky gut and blood tests showed that I had high TPO and Tg antibodies indicating auto immune hypothyroiditis (known as Hashimotos). All of which cause weight gain along with a number of other symptoms, which you can read more about in My Hypothyroid Diary. Again I had to address my nutrition, even though I was eating a diet free from sugar, wheat, all processed foods, alcohol and caffeine. My years of poor nutrition, yo-yo dieting, excessive stress and late nights and the large weight loss had caused my body to start attacking itself.
I have so far managed to improve my overall health yet again through nutrition and lifestyle management. Presently I am still battling weight gain due to the auto immune and hormone imbalances. I am however far better than if I were still eating a diet full of sugar and junk food and am still totally medication free. However, as a Health and Wellness coach and as someone who had achieved her ideal body shape, weight gain is a very difficult symptom to accept. I exercise daily and eat exceptionally clean, and as a result the weight gain is slow and has taken 3 years. I have maintained a healthy lifestyle for almost 5 years, which before I could only manage up to 6 months. I now see the positive value in eating healthy and moving in a way that I enjoy. No longer is there “punishment” only positive feelings around my food and exercise. Now, do not get me wrong, I am not in the gym 7 days a week! I love walking with my dogs, cycling or a light jog through the woods every now and then. For me, being in nature has the added benefit of being good for the soul as well as the body. I have no doubt that I am the healthiest that I can be while working through this health difficulty, because I dread to think how bad it could be if I returned to my old habits and behaviours. I am still on a quest to get my Hashimotos into remission, and I hope to do so through natural sources.
Do not judge yourself or others based on weight
What I have learned about weight gain is that while some times it may well be as a direct result of eating the wrong foods and lack of exercise, this is not always the case. I absolutely know that dieting does not work in the long run, and continually going on and off diets can have detrimental effects on your health. Addressing overall nutrition, lifestyle and behaviour for life is the way forward. Focus more on your health rather than just the weight! If you, or someone you know is experiencing unexplained weight gain or is finding it difficult to lose weight despite dieting and exercise, understand that there may be some underlying cause. Please do not judge yourself or others based on weight. Weight gain which is not directly linked to excess calories may be a symptom of something else, so ask your doctor for help and advice or a nutritional therapist if you are more drawn to naturopathic medicine.
The most important thing is to NOT give up on your health goals, regardless of weight gain or other symptoms. As a Health and Wellness coach I help clients to keep focused and to plan how they will achieve their health goals. I believe that we have to take responsibility for our own health, we have to look after our body as it is the only place that we have to live!
The information in this blog is my PERSONAL experience with my weight issues. This is not intended as medical advice or diagnosis. The intention is to show that it is important to keep focus on personal health goals.