Weight Fluctuations Due to Chronic Illness

I wrote a post all the way back in May about my journey with weight fluctuations due to medication. At the time I was going to the gym 5-6 days a week, and eating incredibly healthy. So, what’s happened since?

I started trying to lose the weight I gained on Gabapentin back in April, and since then I’ve lost a little over 30 pounds! Honestly I can’t believe I’ve lost that much, and I never really believed I’d be able to do it. As I mentioned in my original post, I’ve watched multiple family members struggle with their weight, which was discouraging. Now that I’ve lost the majority of the weight I gained, I feel so much more like myself. After the weight gain, my body didn’t feel right and I felt uncomfortable all of the time. I don’t think we should equate beauty or self-confidence with weight, and I recognize some of these thought aren’t exactly body-positive. However, losing the weight has lifted the uncomfortable feeling that was dragging me down.

As of right now, my health is no longer in the place that I can work out as much as I was. The combination of school and declining health, doesn’t leave much time for anything else. I’m hoping once I get my IST under control, I’ll be able to work out again. I’m still eating pretty healthy, but I’m not as crazy strict as I once was. Every one in a while you’ve gotta live a little, ya know? Plus, you can only eat so many scrambled eggs and apples before you go crazy.

It will be a year in November since I stopped drinking any carbonated beverages or caffeine. While I wasn’t losing weight at the time, I do think that decision has made the whole process easier. Plus now that I’ve been doing this for a while it’s much easier. Even though I’ve loosened the reigns some I’m still continuously losing weight, and trying to live as healthy of a lifestyle as possible. Right now my main goals are to lose around 10 more pounds, and hopefully be able to workout again soon.

Chronic illness makes weight loss/gain super difficult, but not always impossible. If you are currently trying to lose or gain weight, don’t feel discouraged! It may feel incredibly slow, but the fact that you are trying your best is all that matters. If you’ve been working hard but your health gets in the way, that’s also okay. Sometimes you’ve got to take a break, or slow down in order to take care of yourself.

Do you have any experience with weight fluctuations due to chronic illness or medication?

I hope you are all doing well!

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Getting Back into Things

For the past 3 1/2 weeks i’ve been going to the gym.

I gained a ton of weight on Gabapentin, like a lot. It’s hard to gauge exactly how much it is since before the rapid weight gain, I had rapid weight loss. Pre-chronic illness I weighted between 120-125 lbs, then I gained weight from meds and went up to 138 lbs, then I lost weight because of Cymbalta and Topiramate, down to 112 lbs, and finally I gained on the Gabapentin and Amitriptyline weight all the way up to 170 lbs. If you count the weight gain from when I lost a lot of weight then i’ve gained nearly 60 pounds, if you count it from before chronic illness it’s 45-50 lbs. Either way it’s a lot and needs to change.

For reference i’m 4’11 and 3/4 so being 170 pounds makes me over weight. I can deal with the weight gain, because I know I can lose it, but the stretch marks are distressing. I don’t have the silvery-white stretch marks that are barely noticeable. Since mine are “new” they’re bright red and everywhere. They’re the worst on my arms, but they cover my thighs, have crept onto my calves, cover the side of my stomach, and have popped up on the front of my stomach. I feel like a hypocrite because i believe everyone is beautiful and shouldn’t love themselves no matter what, but I honestly hate the way my body looks right now.

Right now I’m on an upswing with my health. I’m out of a flare and feeling pretty well. The biggest thing to celebrate is that I’m actually sleeping, so I don’t feel like a zombie all day. There’s no way I could go to the gym 5-6 days a week if I was still feeling so poorly, so for now I’m getting in all the exercise I can. I’m definitely not someone who loves going to the gym, it’s kinda boring and I don’t like working out around other people. Once you start to go regularly though you start to notice things.

For one, everyone is in their own bubble and doesn’t care what you’re doing. Also you’re probably not going to be the most out of shape person there. Sometimes super thin girls will get on an elliptical next to be and look half dead ten minutes in and by fifteen minutes they’re done. This is just one of a million reasons why weight doesn’t always correspond with health.

So far I’ve lost 4 pounds, which isn’t much but it’s better than nothing. I’ve been out of town for part of the time so I couldn’t go the gym, but for the most part i’ve been sticking to it. To me working out isn’t the hardest part, it’s eating healthy. When you feel terrible you don’t want to make something to eat. It’s easy to grab whatever’s available and takes no preparation. The problem with that is the things that take no prep are often processed foods, with little nutritional value.

Finding a diet that’s sustainable has been difficult. I really don’t want to put a ton of work into this now for it all to come back in a year or two. I’ve watched everyone in my family yo-yo with their weight so I know this isn’t going to be easy. I’m also currently taking another medication that can cause rapid weight gain, so I’m hoping I can go off of it soon since it doesn’t seem to be helping the tachycardia issue.

I’m counting on this getting easier the longer I do it. If you’ve lost weight/ started trying to live a healthier lifestyle, how did you stay motivated?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

 

Chronic Illness & Body Image

I have a complicated relationship with my body.

I have never loved the way I look, which probably has something to do with my parents view of their own weight. I have bad genetics, and no that isn’t an excuse. Both of my parents struggled with their weight since they were kids, and I have watched them go on and off diets; gaining and losing weight.

Since as long as I can remember I have always been thinner than everyone in my immediate family. I haven’t had a completely flat stomach since I was around 8 or 9, but I’ve always been small. Still, most of my friends were skinnier than me, which always made me feel bad about myself. Not to mention tabloids, and TV shows only displaying beautiful skinny girls, is enough to make everyone question their own beauty.  This time last year I was the thinnest I had been in a long time, due to losing weight super fast from some medications I was on.

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Now, a year later Gabapentin, and amitriptyline have caused me to gain 45 pounds, making me the fattest I’ve ever been. Seeing pictures from last Christmas makes me sad, and I feel like I look gross most days. I know that I didn’t gain all this weight because “I’m lazy” or “eat too much,” but it is still hard to accept. I don’t want my picture taken, and I don’t like to look in the mirror; I don’t want to remember looking this way. My confidence was boosted so much when I lost weight, and now I feel worse about my body than I ever have before.  I’m trying to accept my new figure and stretch marks, but no one wants to gain weight if it isn’t the goal.

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The problem with being chronically ill, and gaining weight is that the answer to losing weight isn’t just “eat better, and go outside and run.” I can’t go outside and run unless I want to spend the afternoon incredibly dizzy, and the next three days in pain and asleep. In the new year I am starting yoga since its low impact, and won’t raise my already constantly racing heart too high. Yes, I too have been told “just try yoga, it will fix all your health issues,” and I think that’s bullshit. It is however a good option to keep me in a routine of doing light exercise. Most days I am too exhausted to walk downstairs every time I want to, so exercising seems completely out of the question a lot of the time. Doctors never seem to understand this, and say  “you just need to push through,” or “getting out more will make you feel better.” *insert eye roll*

Eating healthy also isn’t easy when many things upset my stomach, or I don’t feel well enough to cook a nutritious meal. Chronic illness and weight loss isn’t A+B=C. Many of us gain weight solely due to the meds we’re on. They cause our appetite to spike, or just “pack on the pounds.”

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I am definitely a hypocrite, because I think everyone should love their bodies, and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel negative about the way they look. Loving yourself isn’t an easy process; especially when you’re chronically ill. It is also easier said than done. Everyone deserves to feel attractive, and love their bodies, even when they don’t feel like they have the ideal body shape.

I never imagined I would weigh this much, but I know I should cut myself some slack. My body has been through so much in the past five years, that the fact I’m still alive seems crazy some days. I know I’ll lose weight; it just may take a while. There are good days when I love myself, and think I look good, but recently there are more bad days, with lots of negative thoughts. The only thing I can do is to try my best to eat right, and exercise to the best of my ability. If you’re chronically ill and have/are dealing with excessive or rapid weight gain, let me know what has/is working for you!

Lots of Love and Positive Body Thoughts,

Alyssa