Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Updated May 15, 2004

Overweight - Last Resort
by Gabrielle Mathieu, LAc

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.

Hello there,
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!!!!!!!!!

Thank you,

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 something strenuous.

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.


Join the PulseMed mailing list
About The PULSE
All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.

Copyright 1999-2074, Pulse Media International, Brian Carter, MSci, LAc, Editor