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The Perfect Storm: 7 Medical Factors that Impact Weight Gain
I was hit by a “Perfect Storm” of a rare combination of adverse health factors during the past 5 years. Have you struggled with any of these medical factors that can cause weight gain?
When I left 5 years ago for Brazil to adopt our sons, I was in great shape. I ran 25 miles a week and lifted weights 3 times a week and worked with a great trainer Angie Kirk. I weighed 125 pounds and my jeans fit great. Today, I still exercise 6 days a week and eat a healthier diet than before, I am now 185 pounds. What happened?
I experienced a “Perfect Storm” from a rare combination of adverse health factors hitting me all at once. Have you struggled with any of these medical factors that impact weight gain?
1. Stress: The physical AND emotional factors of weight gain.
Stress is the most common factor affecting women today that can impact weight gain. When you experience a high level of stress the hormone cortisol is released which stimulates the release of insulin to maintain your blood sugar. The end result is that you are more hungry. In addition to the medical reality of cortisol, I tend to be an emotional eater. Emotional eating is when you eat for other reasons than hunger, such as anxiety, fear, worry, boredom. We were in Brazil for 6 weeks staying in an apartment with our sons. They only spoke Portuguese and we only spoke English. It was very stressful. I included a picture in this post of me and Dre (who was 12). We also had many opportunities to eat at their famous Churrascarias.
2. Immune System
I came home from Brazil with continued stress of adopting two sons, caring for our other daughters, and working full time. Ten months after returning home, I suddenly became sick and began to vomit. After 2 hours and 12 times of throwing up. I finally woke my husband up in the middle of the night and told him we needed to go to the emergency room. When the nurse who was admitting me said “Honey, you are in a lot of pain, we are going to give you morphine.” I cried with relief.
After the appendectomy, I didn’t recover. I just seemed to get worse. I had a full out war going on in my immune system. I didn’t realize at the time that that appendix was made with lining of the lymphatic tissue that is a part of the immune system which makes antibodies. My immune system had been compromised.
3. Hormonal Changes –Aging –Sleep Disturbances
All during this time, I was seeking medical help. I had so many tests. My main Difficulty in getting help was that I CONTINUED TO LOOK HEALTHY ON THE OUTSIDE. I was gaining weight. I continued to press through the symptoms even though my sleep was impacted most nights. One doctor took some blood tests and falsely diagnosed me with menopause. I said, “How can that be, I am still regular every month.” Even so, if you are any where near “the change” you know that things are not quite like they used to be. Even though I still haven’t come into menopause, I am on the journey where every hormone is changing. I will be turning 50 in December and it is not like being 20.
4. Autoimmune Disorders
Finally a blood test determined that I had an autoimmune disorder called Hashmioto’s Thyroidism. My body’s immune system was attacking my thyroid. No wonder I was struggling. I began to feel better with medication, but I continued to gain weight. I thought that I would take thyroid medicine and I would finally lose weight. Surprise, I just kept gaining.
5. Spinal Injuries
During this whole time, I am trying to maintain my exercise regime. One day after an intense weightlifting class, I was in extreme pain. My whole arm was becoming numb. In the middle of the night I awoke with shooting pain like someone was putting a knife in my spine. I had no idea what was going on as I walked around the house with my arm in a sling. Again with the help of doctors and a wonderful chiropractor named Dr. Skye, I began to be treated for a bulging disk that just happened to be at the same location as my thyroid in my neck. I had to change some of my exercising. I had regularly done 100 push-ups 3 times a week, but this exercise was hurting my neck. I also had to watch the impact of my running. Ugh, the change of exercise meant more weight gain…
6. Leaky Gut – Inflammation – Clogged Liver
I continued to look well on the outside, but I became increasingly sick. Finally I consulted an incredible nutritionist who had helped a friend of mine when she had cancer. Elizabeth R is a tiny tenacious power house who looks for the root of the problem. She began to help me heal my leaky gut. By this time I had already gone off gluten and dairy and a number of other things but my body was inflamed. She recommended a medical fast to help cleanse my liver. As I prayed about this, I personally felt called to a 40 day (medical) fast. This really was my turning point.
7. Parasites/ Bacterial Infections
As I came to the end of the 40 days, we discovered parasites (YUCK) and a very rare bacterial infection that I got from Brazil. The weight that I had lost during the fast quickly came back on as my thyroid antibodies that were supposed to be under 60 were at 8,000. My nurse practitioner Dani Williamson and Elizabeth R helped me get through this to the other side. I am so thankful for these precious experts who have become my friends.
By this time you may feel like you know way too much about my health issues. I have been on a healing journey to get the toxins out of my body. Yes, I was the child that ran behind the DDT tractor, leading the parade as I breathed in these deadly toxins. I was the tomboy that played in corn silos that had mold. I was the courageous teenager that did missions in Belize and came home with my legs infected with insect bites. All along I looked healthy on the outside, but my body was battling all the toxins on the inside until I came to a tipping point at middle age.
I AM SO THANKFUL TO BE HEALTHY. Yes, I am becoming healthier every day. My main residual health issue is the excess weight on my body. I’ve had a turn around and I am on my path to health.
So what have I learned and why am I writing about it in a blog:
1. We need friends along the journey
I continue to find more women who have faced huge health issues. It may not be the Factors that I have named, but others equally as damaging to your health. We need to know we are not alone. That is why Dani Williamson began a regular support group for Hashimoto’s. (You can join the Facebook Support group here).
2.We need to become experts on our own body
No one else knows your history or how your body feels. We can look fine on the outside and then be diagnosed with cancer the next. My father died of colon cancer and had only 3 weeks from the time he was diagnosed. He was only 12 year older than I am now. It is sobering. Trust God to help you find a team of EXPERTS in the health profession to help you get to the bottom of anything you are dealing with. YOU CAN BE HEALTHY!
3. We need to make radical AND individual shifts in our diet
If we just try to fit in with American culture and eat what everyone else eats we will be sick. We can believe for better! We can choose better. Let’s eat food as close to how God made it – rather than how McDonald’s packages it.
Your diet strategy needs to be individualized. Have you ever noticed that what works for your friend may not work for you? My body reacts negatively to a vegetarian diet – but I have plenty of friends that live a healthy vegetarian life. For me, I need a low carbohydrate diet that avoids certain trigger foods. That is why I have begun the Virgin Diet. (I will talk about this more in later posts).
4. We need to change our lifestyle
Making room for life includes resting and enjoying life. What is your lifestyle today that may be adding to a “perfect storm” in your life? Be willing to embrace change so that you can courageously move into the future. No matter what your age, you can be vibrant, healthy and full of LIFE!
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