Kris: Today, Mary B shares her success story. If you would like to share your own story, click here. These will be published on Fridays as long as they keep coming.
Welcome to ONE-derland
by: Mary B
Growing up I never had problems with weight.
Up until the age of 22 the most I ever weighed was 110 pounds. At 4’10” (about 147cm) that was a healthy weight.
Then things changed, and eventually I doubled in weight and was 220 pounds!
It’s not that I woke up one day and decided, “I’m going to be a fat, lazy slob”.
I had always been fit and active. I had never counted a single calorie, never ate ice cream and regretted it, never worried about my weight.
Then when I was 22 years old I realized I was getting more and more tired. I wasn’t my usual self.
After eight months of repeatedly going to the doctor, who was convinced it was just all in my head, I got to a point where I was rushed into an emergency room. None of the valves in my heart were working, my feet and legs were swollen and purple and I kept losing consciousness.
This is where my story really begins.
That night at the hospital was the most nerve wracking I’d ever had. When I was awake I was in excruciating pain. At one point I even begged them to just let me die. I was getting a blood transfusion.
I never thought that could hurt so much, but they explained to me that my blood level was so low (I basically lost about 80% of my blood, though at the time no one could imagine how) that my blood vessels had collapsed and some of my blood vessels (like the ones to my legs) have cut off letting blood through in an attempt to keep what little blood I had left to my vital organs.
The nurses wrapped me in heated blankets in an attempt to open up the blood vessels and lessen the pain. By the end of this ordeal I received 6 units of blood and had a bone marrow biopsy done, revealing that I had aplastic anemia (the bone marrow doesn’t make enough blood).
Which explained why I had been so tired and was feeling worse no matter how much sleep I got or how well I took care of myself. It also explained how my blood count could be so low, without having any wounds. (It wouldn’t have gotten this bad if my primary care physician would have listened to me and not just brush me off as some kind of hypochondriac.)
The hemotologist who took care of me in the E.R. told me that I would have a poor quality of life for the rest of my life (be in and out of hospitals all the time) and would most likely die within the next 10 years. Keep in mind at this point I’m still only 22 years old.
I’d also been informed that I should never try to have a baby because I wouldn’t survive a pregnancy. That bothered me more than the idea of dying young.
I was an elementary school teacher and love children. I had hoped one day to have children of my own. You can imagine how devastated I was. To make it worse, the doctor told me there was no known reason why I got aplastic anemia.
In fact he told me that if I hadn’t been so incredibly healthy to start with (I never smoked, used drugs, etc. didn’t have any health conditions: high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) I would probably already be dead.
Every time my blood count dropped too low I would go to the hospital and have a transfusion, which was about every 2 months.
Every now and then something would come up. A doctor would think of a possible treatment I could try, like antithymocyte globulin (ATG). But that didn’t work. I was put on cyclosporine which worked for a while, until it just stopped.
Then I got a new doctor who put me on a steroid with the idea it would stimulate my bone marrow to make more blood. Finally, something that worked. But it also made me hungry all the time, adding to my weight gain problem.
But the doctors were never concerned about my weight, because they thought I would die from complications from aplastic anemia long before being fat would kill me.
But then more than 10 years came and went by. I even survived a pregnancy! Yes, I am now a mommy!
At this point the doctors finally expressed concern about my weight. Their advice to me? “Lose weight.” That’s it! They had no suggestions or helpful tips. I was on my own.
So I turned to nutritionists, personal trainers and other health experts. Their advice was to eat less and move more.
Well, the moving more part is a bit hard. I’m chronically and severely anemic. Plus at this point I weigh over 200 pounds, so moving at all is a struggle. And eating less was tricky at best.
I tried several diets including Jenny Craig, which was too expensive so I had to quit. Nutri System, but the food was so processed it was nasty. Slim Fast shakes, but that was boring and I got so sick of drinking shakes.
Plus I was still hungry all the time. I might lose a few pounds but then gain them all back along with a few extra. At my heaviest I weighed about 230 pounds and it hurt for me to just stand up and walk around my house. But I wouldn’t give up. I couldn’t.
I didn’t fight through this freaky illness just to be beaten by something as stupid and simple as weighing too much.
I began experimenting, keeping notes on how different foods affected me. I noticed that when I ate certain foods high in carbs (pasta, a bowl of cereal, bread, etc.) I would soon feel hungry again.
But when I ate meals without them I felt full longer, even if they had the same or even less calories. It was an “a ha” moment! Foods high in carbohydrates made me feel hungry.
So then I started researching low-carb diets. I tried Adkins, but that didn’t work for me because it was too carb strict.
After a while I found what worked for me. I would eat meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish, lamb, etc.), fruits, veggies and dairy products.
I counted carbs and calories for the first couple months but then realized that I pretty much ate about the same calories from just eating what made me feel good (not hungry, not too full either). Now I just count carbs.
I try to keep it between 40g-50g per day. Some days I have as little as 25g and some days I slide a little and have closer to 70g, but after 6 months of this, I lost 30 pounds.
I know that seems slow, but I don’t care. All that mattered to me was that it was something I could stick to, and the weight was coming off. By this point I could comfortably walk and even dance, so I added a little exercise in.
I’ll never forget that magical day I got on the scale and saw a number other than 200-something.
I weighed 199, and I was thrilled. A friend told me “welcome to ONE-derland”.
Three months later I had lost another 15 pounds. Even though I still have a lot of weight to lose, each morning I wake up looking forward to life.