In my last post in this series – What You Need to Know about Hormone Imbalance – Part 1 – I left off at the point in my own story in which I had gained a hundred and twenty pounds, and then I lost a hundred and twenty pounds. What I didn’t tell you was how I released a hundred and twenty pounds of excess fat from my body and went from a size 20 back down to size 4. I also didn’t tell you that what I did was very dangerous, and that it further damaged my already weakened metabolism. And that’s the part that I want you to pay special attention to, because if I had taken the advice then that I’m about to share with you in this series, I would have a fully healed metabolism now – which applies to a hell of a lot more than just how much you weigh and what size you wear.
The Discovery of the Low-Carb Diet
I was twenty-seven years old, a hundred and twenty pounds overweight, working a high-stress job, engaged in a high-stress romantic relationship, and not getting enough sleep. The pounds were packing on relentlessly, no matter what I did. One day, I just decided I’d stop trying. I got on the scale, noted the number, cried till I couldn’t see, and then imagined the number where I wanted it to be. Then I got off the scale, shrugged, and told myself, “someday, I don’t know how or when, but someday, I’ll be me again.” And off to work I went. Later that week, I sat at my desk, the telephone rang, and it was a co-worker calling about a computer problem he was having, and it was my job to fix it. The thing was, though – he was so happy. I wasn’t used to getting happy people on the end of that line at the beginning of a call. I sure could use some happy, I thought, and I couldn’t resist asking him what he was so happy about. He excitedly told me that he had just started a diet that drastically restricted carbohydrates, and that in the past two weeks, he had lost fifteen pounds. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. So he grabbed his book, brought it to my desk, and gave it to me. I began reading it on my lunch hour that day, and in the hour that I read, I became so convinced that the Atkins Diet was the solution for me, that when I left work that day, I stopped at the grocery store, bought $250 worth of meats, cheeses, and vegetables, threw out everything I had in my refrigerator, freezer and cupboards, and proceeded to start the Atkins Diet immediately.
I couldn’t believe how incredible I began to feel. Energized. Alive. My chronic heartburn had disappeared. I felt good. Really good. And to top it all off, I released twenty-five pounds in my first two weeks. I read the book from cover to cover and determined to follow it to the T. But I didn’t.
Dying to Be Thin
You see, the Atkins Diet is actually healthy when you do it right. I did it wrong. The 2-week no-carb (20 carb grams a day or less) induction period is not meant to be extended out to the entirety of your diet, or your life. And that was how I damaged my metabolism and endangered my health and my life. I demonized all carbohydrates, and I starved myself to be slim, without even realizing that I was starving myself. Every time I would gradually increase my carbohydrate intake, as the Atkins Diet dictated, I stopped dropping 5-7 pounds a week, and I was too impatient to enjoy a mere 1-2 pounds per week drop in weight that happened when I raised my carb intake. So… I stayed on induction. My daily diet consisted of two eggs with cheese and bacon for breakfast, no lunch, and an Atkins shake for dinner. I didn’t like water at the time, so I drank all the coffee I wanted, hot or iced, and lots and lots of diet soda. And that was it. And every month or less, instead of buying bigger bras and clothes, I was going shopping to buy the next size or two smaller. It was actually the most fun I’d ever had in my whole life, watching that scale go down and down, getting back into a size 4, wearing bikinis to the beach, turning heads and being approached by talent scouts for singing and modeling. Life was fun.
But then my health began to suffer. The first thing that happened was a herniated disc. Down in the L4/L5. It happened because I felt so good, I went running on the beach in the uneven sand. Well, that was what made the disc go “pop.” But that happened because I’d dehydrated myself and had not eaten fruits and vegetables or adequate carbohydrates. I didn’t know back then that carbohydrates helped keep you hydrated. I was lacking in both water and carbs. So off to the doctors I went, but the doctors misdiagnosed me. I say doctors, because by the time I finally got a correct diagnosis, I was on my 7th doctor. The first one sent me to physical therapy with a misdiagnosis, which further traumatized the injury. Then he sent me to another doctor, who sent me to another, who sent me to yet another… I thought that a sports injury doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, could certainly tell me what the pain was. But he gave me a diagnosis of bursitis, injected me with cortisone, and sent me on my way. I kept coming back when the pain got even worse, he kept injecting me, until finally he threw up his hands and told me he didn’t know what the problem was, that I had some sort of a weird injury, and he was sending me to a DO. In the meantime, I had asked each one of these doctors for an MRI because the chiropractor I’d gone to see suspected I had a herniated disc, but none of the doctors would consider that the chiropractor might know what she was talking about, and each doctor, including the sports injury doctor, dismissed my request for an MRI. Until finally I went to see the DO. As soon as I opened my mouth, she said, “You have a herniated disc, and I’m sending you in for an MRI.” Well, glory hallelujah, finally a listening ear. So she gave me potent NSAIDS that eventually got pulled off the market, muscle relaxers, prednisone, and a prescription for physical therapy for the correct diagnosis.
I’ll spare you the details of the pain and all that I went through with the spinal injections and pain – if you’ve ever had a herniated L4/L5 disc, you know exactly the pain I’m referring to. But what happened next was that I began to have strange vision problems. Flashing lines of light, black fluttery things, and strange pressure in my head when I would stand up, followed by more light flashing, lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting if I didn’t sit back down right away, and blinding (literally) headaches. I thought it was an eye problem, so I went to see an ophthalmologist. And he diagnosed me with glaucoma. And my particular version of glaucoma was beyond his skill to treat… so he sent me to a glaucoma specialist, who gave me various beta blocker eye drops that were supposed to lower my eye pressure but didn’t, drilled holes in my eyeballs to allow for the drainage to happen, which didn’t, and more steroids – the kind that come in eye drops! – to combat the inflammation in my eyes following the laser drilling… until she finally began to discuss the possibility of doing surgery on my eyes to install shunts for drainage. Which was the point at which I flew like a bat out of hell and never went back.
In the meantime, yet more symptoms began to manifest after I was taking all those eye drops – things like weight gain again, ridiculously rapid weight gain once again, even though I was still following my extreme low-carb diet, and eating less than 750 calories a day, unbearable menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding, lumps in my breasts that had to be biopsied… I was scared out of my mind and hadn’t a clue what was going on.
Enough is Enough
It was at this point that I had an experience with my cat, and my intuitive vision opened up – which you can read about in my book The Space Between, if you want to know about that – which put me on my path to natural healing, which ultimately led to energy healing and spirituality. At this point I began to take responsibility for my health by doing things like researching the prescription meds I’d been given. Come to find out, those innocent little beta blocker eye drops were causing all sorts of side effects, like weight gain, liver damage, and estrogen toxicity. The cortico-steroids I’d been given for the herniated disc had caused the glaucoma. The extreme low-carb diet I was on, along with my refusal to hydrate properly or eat any fruits and vegetables had caused the herniated disc, along with the other adrenal issues that accounted for the dizziness and fainting upon standing up. The starvation I was putting myself through also damaged my liver, which also accounted for the eye problems and estrogen imbalance.
In my next postings in this series, I will be explaining what was actually happening in my body, because I want you to understand what happens when you take an extreme low-carb approach to your diet. Now I’m not glorifying carbohydrates by any means. A diet too high in carbohydrates – especially refined, unnatural carbs – is just as damaging as a diet that is extremely low-carb for extended amounts of time. Many of you reading this may have done a low-carb diet or an Atkins diet, and perhaps it worked for you for a while, but it’s not working for you anymore – and you may be struggling to understand, like I was, why what worked for you before isn’t working now? So stay tuned, because I’m going to explain all that in this series, and let you know what you can do to have a healing and healthy metabolism that allows you to live at your healthiest weight.
Click here to continue on to Hormone Imbalance – Part 3: The Hypothyroid – Low-Carb Connection
Very informative! I remember this diet and going on it together, and the all weight released. I also remember you getting sick, and not being able to get out of your office chair because of the pain!! I look forward to hearing the rest of your journey to optimal health.
We had fun though, didn’t we! 🙂