Weighty Matters Part I and II precede this post and tell the delightful story of a somewhat cranky broad and her search for answers in a seemingly uncaring and uninformed medical community...
Dr. V was amazing. He explained all of the issues that I was having and that I had likely been suffering from Insulin Resistance from before that first IR test, but that smaller framed people who are only slightly overweight usually test within the normal range, even when they are not. Five years! I could have had this diagnosis 5 years ago if I had known to ask the right questions or if the testers had known the right answers! I was a bit peeved. But whatever, let's just figure this out. Why would someone who eats a fairly heathy diet and exercises regularly deal with this issue? I mean, isn't this an obese issue? A sedentary issue? Turns out, not necessarily. According to Dr. V my active, healthier lifestyle had been both a blessing and a curse. If I hadn't been doing those things, I would have likely been 75-100 pounds overweight. But if I had been that heavy, I would have been diagnosed years ago. Again...What the crap!?
Over the next 6 weeks I had to watch everything that went into my mouth. I had to keep a journal of all of it. The goal here was to keep my insulin levels even through out the day, instead of this constant up and down that was killing me. Quite literally. He asked me to eat at least 5 times a day at two to three hour intervals. Three meals and 2-3 snacks. I could eat anything I wanted as long as I ate only 30 grams of carbs at each meal and no more than 15g for each snack. My initial appointment with Dr. V was the week before Christmas 2009. I did not eat any of the Christmas goodies that came to the door. Or that were baked in my kitchen. That I freaking LOVE. I was determined.
The first two weeks were H--E-- double hockey sticks. Detox is no picnic my friends. I used Dr. V's name as a swear word on multiple occasions. But after two weeks I found I did not even crave sweets or breads anymore. I found that I was actually eating MORE food than before, just different food. Mind you I had always been trying to eat healthy carbs. Whole wheat everything, not a ton of sugar. But this was different. If I ate empty calories, I knew I would be hungry and therefore sorry after just a short while. I would be miserable for the next 2 1/2 hours until I could eat again. So I learned to eat good fat and protein with each and every bite, so I would stay full and satisfied until the next meal. IR is a tricky game and balance takes diligence. I found balance though. I did not change my exercise habits one bit, but I lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks. I went from 147 at my first appointment to about 132 at the 6 week check up. I was a different person when I stepped back into that office. I lost another 5 after that for about a total of 20 pounds (down about 30 from my absolute highest). I am sure my body fat percentage went down too, but I did not even bother to have it checked. I felt good, I looked good and I bought myself some size 6 jeans for my 40th birthday a couple of weeks later. That summer I rode my first century bike ride. I really felt like a normal human and I was seriously back in the game of life! Don't read this wrong, because it was not all about the weight. Yes, it was nice to feel fit and trim again, but really the other symptoms of IR are far worse than a little extra weight. I found I could stay awake all day and feel good. I did not need naps. I could read a book and understand what I was reading. I could even have a conversation with a people and not feel confused about what was going on or like I was blacking out. Yes, my symptoms had been that bad.
I wish that I could say that the story ended there, but it doesn't. I know now that this story will not ever really end. This is something that I will deal with for the rest of my life. At my 6 month check up in the fall of 2010 I had successfully maintained a healthy weight for all that time and I was feeling good. Then came the holidays again. I indulged. Like nobody's business. I got cocky. "I am cured!" I told myself. "Go ahead just eat what you want." I gained 10 pounds by January. Some of the symptoms started creeping back but I just put it to the back of my mind. I should have nipped it in the bud and gone right back to being diligent, but quite frankly being indulgent is so much more fun. That is, until you are fighting headaches, constipation, bloating and cravings you can't control and they find you curled up on the couch in a sugar comma with the empty chocolate chip bag still clutched in your fist. You know...just as an example.
So that brings us to now. I do not want to have to hit rock bottom again before I regain control of this thing. I thought perhaps if I got this out in the open and started a dialogue that might get rid of the shame of this Insulin Resistance. I am ashamed. Ashamed that I did this to my body. I honestly believe that that low-fat/high-sugar craze of the 90's and 2000's sent many of us into this spiral. Am I alone in this? I know what I have to do to feel good and to live a long and healthy life, so I am going to start reporting to whomever is listening, even if only for me to have some accountability. I hope though that others will take this journey with me.
Thanks again for listening. Let's get going.