It’s time to make a change

“Hm. ”

That’s never a good noise coming from a doctor.

“Your knee has quite a bit of fluid around it again. How long has this been happening?” I racked my brain to think about it.

“I’m not sure –  a few months? It comes and goes. It’s gotten worse since I put back on the weight I’d lost.”

He glanced at my chart.

He looked up at me. “You’re up 25 pounds from your last appointment, just six months ago.” As if I didn’t know. I shook my head.

“And what about the pain and swelling in your finger? How long?”

“Probably since about the time I saw you last.”

“You told me you stopped taking your meds last time…”

“I went back on them right after you gave me your strong talking to,” I admitted, giggling, feeling a little embarrassed.

“But the swelling is not going away?” he was asking himself more than me, as if to try to solve the mystery.

“I want to run some extra blood tests and see you back sooner than normal. I’m afraid your disease is progressing, but I don’t want to make changes to the medicines until after I’ve done more tests.”

I nodded my head, but these were the words I’d been dreading since I was diagnosed with Lupus almost eight years ago. I’ve had my fair share of flare-ups along the way, some worse than others, but he’d never mentioned “progression” of the disease.

He mentioned a change in medicine, but nothing about lifestyle changes.

It bothered me that he didn’t mention anything about losing weight, only noticed that I was up 25 lbs. Despite the fact that I invited the conversation. Despite the fact that I’ve done a lot of research on the impact of gaining weight and how it drastically increases the risk of heart disease (which runs in my family already), cancers of all types, diabetes, stroke (also a prime candidate as my father and his mother both suffered from strokes), despite the fact that being overweight is at least as bad as being a smoker. If I’d told them I was a smoker, I would have received all kinds of suggestions about the dangers and how I need to quit smoking.

Yet, despite the fact that those extra 25lbs that put me over 200 and solidly in the “obese” category, I got no advice about losing weight, eating healthy, adding exercise, drinking less alcohol, nothing. I am 5’2 and now am over 200lbs. These are not numbers I’m proud to share. I’m not proud to see them. In fact, I’m so ashamed of those numbers, I debated not even writing them down in this post.

But I’m tired of hiding behind my weight. I’m tired of making excuses. I’m tired of being tired.

And I know that the weight is a solid factor in my knee issues. Perhaps not all of the disease activity is related to what I’m eating and the weight I’ve gained, but we all know our bodies, don’t we? I know that as soon as I started gaining the weight, I began to have really bad pains in my lower back. If I sit in a certain way for too long, my whole left leg, down to my feet, swells. I don’t need a medical degree to know that there is something going on in my back leading to swelling and pain in my leg, and while it may not be CAUSED by being fat, it’s definitely aggravated by it.

So I took the first step and opened up a dialogue with him about lifestyle choices and health.

We then proceeded to have a long talk about the impact of food, in particular gluten, dairy, other foods that are known to cause inflammation, especially in people with autoimmune diseases like me.

My doctor is old school. Over the years I have been frustrated with his insistence on following the old regime. But I was pleased to see that he’s starting to do research into the effects of gluten, dairy, candida, and what leaky gut syndrome can do to the body. And leaky gut, by the way, can result in weight gain and almost every single symptom that you see with many auto-immune diseases.

We talked about how my dad has  had celiac disease (I then got all emotional because I said ‘has’ and had to correct myself since my dad just passed away) and the varying levels of gluten intolerance on people even that aren’t celiac.

He told me he wouldn’t generally prescribe a change in diet for his patients, as it pertains to the effect of gluten, dairy, foods that cause inflammation. He likes to conservatively stick to what he knows works – prescription medicines. I get it. That’s the way they were taught. Our medical system has been trained to believe the answer to everything comes in the form of a pill.

However, he said, with me, we’ve absolutely seen the impact eating clean has. He’s watched me do Whole 30 a couple of times over the 8 years I’ve been seeing him every 6 months. He knows that a clean diet has incredible results for me, reducing the swelling and inflammation, not to mention 20+ lbs lost in one month, and completely change the way I feel. And these results came not from starving myself – quite the opposite! – but from eliminating all foods known to cause inflammation. Gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and grains.

[bctt tweet=”Why is it so hard to give up bad foods even though we know they are literally killing us?” username=”losethecape”]

So, in my case, he said, since the evidence is clear, we agreed that’s the route I should take before we make any change to my medicine.

But… blood tests still required.

The changes that have to be made both mentally and in the way I live my life to be completely clean are massive. Have you ever thought of what it takes to eliminate dairy, gluten (think all pastas, breads, cookies, cakes, most snacks, and so on and so forth), sugar (it’s in EVERYTHING), etc etc? It’s not something you just wake up one day and say, I’m giving it all up.

It takes a lot of planning, consistent daily effort, and a lot of preparation.

I’m not a planner, y’all. Italian is my favorite food group. I love drinking wine and beer.

I left the office completely depressed.

A lot of things were running through my mind.

How could I let it get this out of control?

How will I be able to make this happen for the long term? The last time I did “Whole 30” I ended at Whole 8 because I wanted a glass of wine.

Why do I have zero willpower when it comes to saying no to yummy treats that I know impact me 1000 times more than other people?

Why, after I just watched my father’s health decline tremendously over the last five years and ultimately leading to a long, drawn-out and miserable death that was largely caused by bad health choices he made over the years, can’t I get my shit together and do what’s right for my body? I KNOW what the outcome is if I don’t.

And it’s UGLY.

I’ve battled my weight my whole life.

I didn’t know I had stuff happening inside my body that was literally making me fat. It makes sense now… the horrific stomach cramps, the upset tummy on a regular basis, the diarrhea, the migraines. All signs that things just ain’t right…

I hated being overweight. I hate seeing how we’ve let our society get so overweight. I got angry thinking about this video that’s gone viral recently about some very overweight woman who went to the doctor about her elbow hurting and he mentioned she should lose weight and her whole rant about how that doesn’t happen to skinny people, and how unfair it is.

No, you’re right. It doesn’t. Because being overweight in itself is a diagnosis. Yes, obesity shows up as a diagnosis when your’e obese.

It is NOT healthy to be overweight.

And honestly, I’ve been getting very perturbed by all of the dialogue about not fat-shaming and how big girls are beautiful and our gradual acceptance and even love of obesity.

I don’t want to make anyone feel bad for being overweight. It sucks. It’s hard. But I will not glorify it either. And I will not pretend that I am fine and beautiful and wonderful even if I’m overweight. #lie

Being fat is killing me. Literally. Being fat increases every chance of just about every disease out there. So if you’re overweight, being fat is killing you too.

It’s not about fat shaming. It’s about being real, being honest, and taking care of ourselves. Because being overweight is not healthy.

[bctt tweet=”It’s not about fat shaming. It’s about realizing being overweight is unhealthy and change needs to happen. ” username=”losethecape”]

My goal is this:

1 – get my shit together

2 – chronicle it all so that I can have some accountability and maybe this will make me try harder when that piece of cake is sitting right there in front of me

3 – provide inspiration to others who face the same challenges

4 – open some real dialogue about what is happening to us so that we might make some changes. Because it’s a massive problem. From chemicals and crap in our food that are making us ill to our dependency on sugar and quick, fast, processed foods. You pretty much can’t blame people who grow up in this country for being overweight. It’s the life we hand to them. It’s the lifestyle we lead. We need societal changes.

5 – get some accountability. Maybe no one will ever read this post. But just knowing someone MIGHT is enough to keep me motivated. As I went through the day today, I grabbed a box of Ritz cheese crackers to give my kids for snacks (another topic I want to address and fix in my life – teaching my kids good habits too!) and I came SO SO CLOSE to popping a handful in my mouth. I thought of this post, which was still not finished. I thought, “ah, what’s one more handful really gonna do in the long run?” And I realized… that’s my problem. That’s always been my problem. I thought of this post, the readers (even if imaginary at this point!) and just knowing that I would be reporting my food to other people made me STOP. I put them back in the box. And I grabbed a piece of chocolate instead!!!

6 – teach my daughters healthy body image – cause they deserve it. And so do I.

WHAT?? I know, it’s still sugar, still not great. But there’s no gluten. ONE CHANGE AT A TIME people. At least it was dark chocolate!

I laugh, but it’s really not funny. I had failed to plan. I had no good, easy option. I was hungry. (Newsflash, chocolate doesn’t take away hunger.) I’m making a start.

You have to start somewhere.

My journey begins today.

If you want to follow along, I’ll be posting weekly about my progress and (hopefully not) setbacks. You can join us in our Mom Squad Group too if you’d like a judgment-free mom zone.