Monday, March 23, 2015

My Latest Asterisk



Call it a character flaw, call it lack of confidence, call it whatever you want.

Any accomplishment I ever have, I always feel the need to add an * to it.  I guess it's because I don't want anyone to think that I'm oblivious to whatever corner was cut, or that I'm unaware of an advantage I may have had.  So I always add an *.

Some examples:
I won my age group!! *I was the only person in my age group
I came in 3rd place in the 1650 Free at my college team's State Meet! *Only 3 people swam that event
I PRd my last Sprint Tri! *There were people through the finish line chute before I even got out on the run course


So here is my latest *:

I've lost 14 pounds since December.  *I took a weight loss pill.

The shame.  The humiliation of this admission.  Or not...

So here's the deal.  I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as S.A.D.  How I've dealt with it and trained through it is not what this post is about.  But S.A.D is what brought me to my doctor's office to get a renewal on my anti-depressant.  The conversation didn't go as I had anticipated.

The exam and conversation started out as normal.  I told her about training for Ironman. Then I veered into my perpetual whining about how mathematically, based on just calories in and calories out, I should have lost a significant amount of weight in the previous 18 months.  My doctor knows about my training.  We have had several conversations about it at previous appointments.  We passed each other on the greenway trail numerous times last summer.  She knows I'm not making it up.

She looked at me straight in the eye and said "You have been working too hard for too long to have not lost any significant weight.  We need to jump start your metabolism."  She then spent the next few minutes explaining to me the pros and cons of Adipex, and she suggested I take it for 3 months, the maximum she would prescribe.

I really was in shock.  I was also slightly thrilled.  First off, she suggested it.  I don't think I would have ever had the nerve to ask her.  Secondly, she justified my frustration by acknowledging that while I had been dieting and exercising consistently, by body's metabolism wasn't being cooperative.  I've often said that if I had worked out this hard in my mid-thirties, I would be a stick right now.  Something went awry the second I hit 40, and it was like a switch was turned off and the weight just decided to stay where it was.

I started taking it on December 17th.  My weight that morning was 197.6 lbs.

The first few days I did feel a bit revved up.  Adipex is an amphetamine after all.  A friend once called it Mommy Speed.  She was right.  I skipped morning coffee, and got a bunch of organizing and cleaning done.  But after those first few days, I really didn't notice a difference.  I went back to coffee, and survived Christmas.  I did notice I wasn't in my "dark and gloomy...just leave me alone and let me sleep" place, which was nice.  (I couldn't take an antidepressant and Adipex at the same time.)   Another change that I was aware of is that I couldn't just sit on the couch and lounge around in the morning like I have in the past.  I try to do my long runs on Saturdays with my husband, and if we were going to have to wait until late morning/early afternoon to go run...I would get really antsy.  Lots of cleaning and purging were done on those mornings!

Over the next few months, I became very consistent in my training with my times/paces improving.  I also didn't blow off workouts like I might have in the past, if I felt tired or my schedule got messed up.  I always seemed to find a way to squeeze some training in.  I did miss a few doses, but I didn't "feel" a difference on those days. For 13 weeks, I averaged 10:10 per week of exercise including Swimming, Running, Cycling (indoors and out) and Strength training.  I also sweat like a crazy person during those weeks.  My doctor said it was most likely the medicine.

I took my last dose on March 18th.  My weight that morning was 183.4.  That was 14.2 pounds lost in 13 weeks.  Just a tad over 1 pound a week.

According to myfitnesspal, the app I use to track calories in/out, I should have been losing 1.5 lbs per week for last 20 months, which would have currently put me at a scary 70 lbs.  For me, just watching calories and exercising regularly wasn't enough.  I DID need some help.

Towards the end of my "experiment" I wondered if the working out is what caused the weight loss or was it the medicine?  Was it the combination of the two?   Ultimately I don't care.  That 14 lbs is GONE.

Do I feel like I've cheated?  Yes and no.

  • Yes, I do feel a bit ashamed that I had to resort to a pill to help me lose some weight.  
  • No,  I have a very colorful calendar on Garmin Connect that shows all the workouts I've completed.  And those workouts were tracked by GPS and a heart rate monitor.  
  • Yes, I'm embarrassed that I couldn't do it on my own with just diet and exercise.
  • No, if diet and exercise alone was all I needed, I would have lost all this weight 5 years ago when I attempted to lose 40 lbs by my 40th birthday.  (I only got down to 183)
  • No, when asking the pharmacist about my next options, and confessing I felt a bit ashamed for cheating, his response was "I had gastric bypass surgery...THAT is cheating."  Personally, I do not think that type of surgery is cheating, but instead brave and bold.  
  • No, my diet has improved so much in the last year that I should have lost weight just from the decrease in processed foods and carbs alone.
  • Yes, I felt the need to give myself an * and to write this post.
What's next?  I'm weighing a few different options (no pun intended).  The first few days off the medicine I noticed some extreme fatigue, insomnia and tearfulness.  I nearly fell apart during spin class last Friday.  Only 14 minutes into the class, and I was desperate to get off the bike and lay down on the floor.  I was so tired.  I stayed on the bike but then my thoughts started spiraling out of control and I wondered if the medicine was the only reason I had been able to work out so consistently for the last 3 months, and what the hell was I thinking about training for an Ironman?  There was no way I was going to make it through the next 7 months of training let alone 140.6 combined miles in one day!!  After googling withdrawal symptoms I realized that they were typical for the first few days off Adipex.  Did a 10.5 mile run on Saturday morning, and a 25 mile ride OUTSIDE on Saturday afternoon.  Neither would set any speed records, but I got up and did them anyway.   I was tired, but it was a good tired, not a "I'm a waste of human flesh and I should just sleep until I'm dead" kind of tired.  

So what does this mean to you?  Well, now you know that I felt strongly enough that I needed to be honest about my recent weight loss that I'm blabbing about it on the interwebs.  If you are in the same boat, talk to your doctor.  Or don't.  I won't judge.  This is not a recommendation to take a prescription the help your weight loss.  This is just my story, and you shouldn't judge me either.  We are all hard enough on ourselves...we don't need others adding to the chaos in our heads!



On November 7th I'm racing in Ironman Florida 2015 on behalf of the Ironman Foundation.  Any donation big or small is appreciated!  Check out the "Donate" page above, or click on this link to contribute!  THANK YOU !

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