Fat Is as Fat Does -- Except When It Isn't
I used to think people were fat because they lacked self-control. While that may be true in some cases, I'm now convinced there are situations in which self-control is irrelevant.
In the past, I've shared my weight challenges since turning 42. If you aren't familiar with those posts, here's a quick recap. When I got pregnant with our first child, I was 30 and a svelte size 6. After the birth of each of our four children, I returned to within a few pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight. My shape wasn't quite as resilient. After the birth of our first child, I returned to my pre-pregnancy weight -- exactly to the pound, but I wore a size 8. At 40 years old, 18 months after our fourth child was born, I was thrilled to be comfortably wearing my pre-pregnancy, size-10 jeans.
I've always had the typical female weight swings of 5 or 10 pounds -- usually after a big stressor or life change: a move, a new job, a crisis. I'd rein in the diet, ramp up the exercise and get back into a healthy routine. The weight would come off and stay off... until the next big life change.
Between the ages of 40 and 42, something changed. The healthy routine became less and less effective, until it quit working altogether. Diet and exercise, even performed to hyper vigilance, no longer produced results of any kind. Despite my most disciplined efforts, fat kept accumulating and my weight steadily climbed. At some point, I gave up, abandoning healthy nutrition and hope. I lived in that depressing, humiliating state for five years.
When I finally mustered the courage to discuss my frustration with the doctor, he suggested a prescription medication. I was reluctant. My desperation won out. I filled the prescription but didn't tell anyone. Skeptical, I was saving myself the embarrassment of another failed attempt. That was three months ago.
Today I can wear that size-10 pair of jeans from seven years ago -- the only piece of clothing I couldn't bear to part with from my "thin" days, and consequently the only piece of clothing in my closet that currently fits.
I'm apprehensive about what will happen once I quit taking the medicine. The day this blog is due to post will be my first day off the medication, which has to be discontinued after three months. Since I have no idea what caused the shift in my metabolism, I have no idea if it's been reset. In an attempt to hedge my bets, I only changed my eating habits during these last three months. My plan now is to begin incorporating exercise in hopes of offsetting the effect that stopping the medicine may have.
Even though the inability to gain weight is widely accepted to have a medical cause, the inability to lose weight is believed to be entirely within an individual's control. My experiences in the past seven years have proven that belief to be an assumption and confirmed the "Don't assume..." adage to be true once again. I wonder how many beliefs I hold are actually assumptions waiting to be proven untrue.