Overweight - Last Resort
Gabrielle Mathieu is a Licensed Acupuncturist,
with a graduate degree in Oriental Medicine.She has an
undergraduate degree in medical technology and worked
in hospitals as a lab technician for 12 years before coming
to Oriental Medicine.She integrates both medicines in
her Austin Texas practice.
by Gabrielle Mathieu, LAc
I am writing this email as a type of last resort type thing. I
have been overweight and trying so hard to shift it for as long
as I have had my kids - one is 8, the other 6 and another 4. I
am terribly unhappy with my weight and worried about where it
actually stops. Do I just keep getting bigger and then die or
is there a cure somewhere. The issue for me is that my will power
is zilch when it comes to dieting. I tend to go through phases
where I starve myself and loose some weight then put it all back
on again. I am even contemplating surgery - reducing my tummy
- but I am scared. I know there are all sorts of carb blockers
and fat burners being marketed and would like to try these first
to see the results. Do you have any recommendations? Or can you
help me? I have no one to really tell how I am feeling. I feel
like a zombie just going through the motions but I am deeply unhappy
and am sure I am depressed but I am so scared of being labeled
that I cannot tell my doctor any of these. I await your reply
and I do hope you can shed some light on my situation. I have
a feeling that my metabolism is actually not quite up to scratch
but I cannot prove it- its just a hunch. Please Help!!!!!!!!!
It sounds like there are many possible issues going on with your
weight, as well as your feelings. Certainly, we can help you by
restating some of the concerns that appear in your letter and
listing them one by one. That way you can decide on what steps
to take to address your situation, and which resources to use,
as well as what to avoid.
It seems a good place to start with would be your current weight.
First, be sure that you are truly overweight, and not just overweight
compared with current standards for models. Pay attention to the
way you physically feel. If you feel listless and bloated, it
may be true that you would feel better if you lost weight.
Once you have decided how many pounds overweight you are, set
a realistic and moderate goal for weight loss. For instance, if
you weigh 160 and are 5' 4", you might target a weight of
140. Then look at the possible obstacles that stand between you
and that goal, and approach them one by one.
You mention in your letter that you have several small children.
One contributing factor to your weight could be a hormonal imbalance.
Are you retaining a lot of fluid? Check your ankles for puffiness.
Are your periods comfortable, or something that you dread? Do
you have a feeling of distension in your breasts or fibrocystic
changes? As women, our estrogen/progesterone balance can really
influence our weight and overall feeling of well being. The Japanese
acupuncture tradition that I follow has a specific protocol for
hormonal imbalances, but other acupuncturists might be able to
help you as well, with herbs and/or acupuncture.
Yo-yo dieting can certainly affect the metabolism. A crash diet
teaches your body to conserve energy, and burn even less calories.
It is also possible that you could have hypothyroidism, meaning
that your thyroid gland does not work optimally. While your doctor
can test you, standard testing is not sensitive enough to pick
up every case. Do you get cold easily? Do you suffer from constipation?
You may want to get evaluated by someone practicing naturopathic
medicine. Many acupuncturists have also has successes treating
hypothyroid patients. By the way, exercise is great for stimulating
the metabolism. Been avoiding exercise for while? Start with a
brisk twenty-minute walk daily, and get checked out before trying
Willpower seems to affect your ability to loose weight, by what
you state. Look at your day strategically. Keep a written record
of what and when you eat. Do you eat when you are tired? Are you
eating sugar and chocolate to keep up your energy? You may be
hypoglycemic and not know it. Standard medical blood sugar readings
do not necessarily rule out symptoms of hypoglycemia. Try eating
small, high protein meals, and see if this reduces cravings. I
am not advocating the South Beach diet when I refer to high protein
meals. Rather than a cheeseburger with bacon, try some small pieces
of organically raised chicken with the skin removed, or some crackers
with peanut butter, or even a bowl of rice and beans. Cut out
diet sodas if possible, as they still have a lot of sodium, and
avoid other processed foods as well. Some acupuncturists will
also stimulate acupuncture points on the Kidney channel to help
will power, and insert ear seeds to curb the appetite. This might
help some, but remember that weight is a multi-factorial issue.
Use all the resources you can find.
Your letter also reflects occasional feelings of isolation, and
self-doubt. Most people who starve themselves put on weight again.
Don't be too hard on yourself. You mention that you are scared
to confide in your doctor about your feelings. Raising small children
can be an isolating experience, as women have little time to build
friendships. Can you try a group like Overeaters Anonymous or
Weight Watchers, so you can get some emotional support? We sense
from your letter that you are really reaching out. It is important
for you to connect with other people, so you will see that your
feelings and fears are normal for someone in your situation. There
are many on-line groups, if you don't have time to physically
attend meetings. Acupuncture can also help dispel lingering feelings
of depression and feeling "stuck."
Please reconsider extreme measures such as getting stomach-stapling
surgery. While complications are not that common, when they occur,
they can be debilitating and lingering. There are many dedicated
professionals to choose from who can help you structure a reasonable
weight-loss plan that you can stick to, with the aid of some support.