Your Life (Not A Slow Metabolism) May Cause Weight Gain
It is true metabolism is linked to weight, however; as much as we would like to believe a slow metabolism is the reason for excess weight gain, it is rarely the cause. Your food and beverage intake and your physical activity ultimately determine how much you weigh. And you cannot change one without including the other if you wish to see positive and dramatic long-lasting results.
I began developing my medical problems, similar to many of our patients, about 8 years ago including borderline hypertension, increased insulin resistance with elevating HA1C, high cholesterol, stress incontinence, joint pain, sleep apnea and weight gain with a BMI >29.0 placing me into the overweight column and quickly approaching the obese category.
I realized several factors contributed to my weight gain, some of which I had control over and some I did not. Several factors determine your individual basal metabolic rate (BMR) such as body size and composition, sex and age to list a few. Your BMR accounts for about 70% of the calories you burn every day. My personal factors included increased inactivity, inappropriate eating habits such as skipping meals, especially breakfast and partaking in quick go-to easy prep foods which are typically high in carbohydrates and calories, sugary beverages and snacks, very stressful life events with my family which included becoming a Mimi and the death of a parent, began a new job with many challenging requirements, advanced age which brought on menopause with its hormonal imbalances and sleep apnea which caused insufficient rest.
I felt like my body was getting attacked from all sides and all of these factors quickly added up to significant weight gain. I know many of you can relate to my story. As my weight crept up to an all time high, I was seeing no light at the end of the tunnel for resolving it. I had a choice to make: either take back my life and take care of me or stay on this path which may cause irreversible damage to my body and ultimately destroy my vital organs.
Surgical intervention was definitely on my radar if I had met the insurance criteria, but I wasn’t quite there……YET. After a lengthy and prudent process, my first line of defense was to find a way to create more time for me in my week so I would have the opportunity to be evaluated by my health providers for an approach to improve my medical problems, to increase my activity and to create better eating habits. I was truly blessed to be given a part-time position and be able to stay in the field I enjoy working in with such wonderful peers, who are now considered to be my friends and family away from home.
This change has opened up a workable time table for accomplishing the necessary tasks before me. My stress level has already improved drastically and with better sleep, my energy level has improved as well. I actually get up at 5:30 each morning now to work out prior to coming to the office which is a miracle in itself.
Next, I scheduled my annual physical with my primary care provider. We documented my baseline lab work, weight, BMI and health problems. We focused on weight loss as our first plan of action to improve my medical conditions. After 4 months, I have gradually managed to carve those hours into my week to exercise daily which has ignited my energy level even more. With the improvement in my energy, endurance and joint pain, I joined a fitness center with basically a personal trainer at each session 3 times weekly. I quickly learned I was NOT pushing myself as hard in my home gym as these trainers will and they keep encouraging me to go for the Gold.
So, I recommend spending time with a professional trainer to show you what you are capable of and once you feel you can continue that type of committed workout at home, you can decide which you like more! I cook my meals for the week in one or two days and freeze them in individual servings so they are readily available to take to work and to have when I get home in the evenings. Proper preparation of meals, including grocery lists, is a key factor in being consistent with a healthy eating lifestyle.
My husband and I realized we needed to cut back on our eating out so we could monitor everything we put into our bodies more accurately. And as we instruct our patients, keeping hydrated with plenty of water which helps to flush the toxins out of our body, eating high amounts of lean protein and keeping carbohydrates low with the proper portion sizes, are all essential to your success.
I am not due to have my lab work rechecked to evaluate my medical progress until the first of September, however; so far I have managed to lose 20 pounds and 9 inches overall. My body fat has decreased by 8.5 pounds which thrills me. My BMI has decreased from 29.4 to 26.2. Words can hardly reflect how wonderful you feel when you begin seeing these gradual changes in your body and the improvement in your overall feeling of well-being. That is the moment you realize you made the right choice.
It is embarrassing to say that I would tell my patients at their post-op nurse visits about proper nutrition and exercise, but then fall so short in consistently carrying my instructions to my own home. Now, I can honestly say “I am practicing what I preach!” I have a way to go to reach my ideal body weight, but I am so thankful I am now headed in the right direction and I CAN see the light at the end of this journey now. Thank you for all the support I have received along the way, support does truly make a difference.
Robin Saunders, RN, BSN, CBN
New LIfe Center for Bariatric Surgery Patient Advocate