Sugar Addict Anonymous: My Weight Problem

scale_webI hate doctors. Don’t get me wrong. I have a great deal of respect for them (really) because their job is to provide good healthcare and keep you well. I just hate what they usually have to tell me.

Last Tuesday, I had an appointment with my gynecologist. It had been about a year since my last exam and she was not happy with the state of my health. I held my breath as she silently clicked through charts and my latest weigh-in.

After four or five minutes, she pulled her eyes away from the computer and peered at me over her thick Prada frames. Let’s call her Dr. Emerald (the color of her nail polish that day).

“J…do you realize that since you’ve been a patient here, you’ve gained almost 40 pounds? You started at a fit and trim 122 and now you’re teetering at 160,” she said. She was right. A mere four years ago, I was still obsessed with exercising five times a week. I was also miserable and hungry because I chose to deprive myself of anything remotely salty, fattening, or sweet.

For most people, 160 pounds is not a lot. But, I’m barely pushing the 5 foot mark.

“I really didn’t think it was that much. I thought my clothes fit a little snug,” I said sheepishly.
Snug? More like the seams of my old size 4 jeans threatening to burst into a cloud of dark blue denim.

My doctor shook her head and shut the laptop. I could tell what she was about to say was serious. I didn’t like how uneasy I felt, but I knew I had to listen because my life was at hand.

“You have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which we both understand can make weight loss very difficult for you. There have been studies that women who have PCOS often secrete high levels of insulin which trigger frequent carb cravings,” Dr. Emerald said. “BUT you have to learn to control it. You’re pre-diabetic, J. You have to adjust your lifestyle and work your way back to a healthy weight.”

I sat there in stunned silence as she continued to mention how important it was to remember my family’s history of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes. She also reminded me that (with PCOS) I am at high risk for certain cancers. The only way to mitigate these health risks was to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Diabetes could have killed me. Instead, it saved my life.” – Sherri Shepherd

I’ve battled with my weight for the sake of vanity, my entire life. My motivation always had to do with bad breakups, being a bridesmaid (wedding photos last forever), or squeezing into a nice pair of skinny jeans. Now, I’m fighting for my life.

My doctor emphasized the importance of losing weight slowly and with real sustainability. She recommended that I enlist the help of a dietitian (if covered by health insurance) and find a physical activity I enjoy to start.

I drove home that afternoon feeling completely deflated and overwhelmed, processing everything my doctor told me. I couldn’t argue with her or make excuses anymore. I promised Dr. Emerald I’d start working my way towards better health that day.

I passed my neighborhood coffee shop and had the urge to pull into the drive thru for a giant, faux-Italian-sized-frozen-coffee-drink topped with a mountain of whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.

I slowed my car down, took one last glance at the iconic logo and hit the gas.

I have an appointment with Dr. E in six weeks and she’s holding me accountable for my health.

I have to start somewhere before I get anywhere. Even if it’s just saying no to a blended coffee drink.

J is a single, young adult living and working in Central Maryland who loves wrinkly puppies, Ryan Gosling, and everything sweet. Her life appears happy and healthy, but she’s been keeping a secret: she’s a sugar addict. Witness her journey toward healthier living inside and out here on Well & Wise.