Mental health can sabotage your weight loss journey

Mental Health & Weight Loss

Did you know that your mental health can sabotage your weight loss?

We all made a decision to lose weight and get help to lose weight by having some type of bariatric surgery. There are so many unknowns when making such a life decision. One of them is our mental health and medications.

A little over a year ago I started to gain weight and nothing much had changed. I had eaten the same, worked out the same and yet I was gaining weight with what seemed no apparent reason. I was craving more carbs than ever. Carbs don’t hurt my stomach and are an easy food to digest.

In a way I was oblivious to how much I was eating in carbs and had become a grazer. How did this all happen. In 2018 I ran in the Chicago Marathon and had suffered a leg injury. When I was done with the race I decided to stop running to recover and did other workouts and then I got very ill and was diagnosed with Anemia. I almost died as my blood count was extremely low.

In 2018 I was diagnosed with severe GAD (general anxiety disorder) and was placed on a medication to control the unbearable nervousness and worried feelings that I was experiencing . For me to say that my life is horrible couldn’t be further from the truth. I have a very good life and a great husband. I worry or want for nothing. Pretty happy kids and extremely smart and respectful. What more could I ask for?

Medications and what do they do?

After being diagnosed with GAD I was put on medication and I instantly gained 15 pounds. I freaked out; but then I plateaued for a year in a half. The doctor a year later had to change my meds because they stopped working and switched my medication. I was still at a plateau and gained no weight. The medication was not really working and after several visits to my general doctor and with him being frustrated I went to see a psychiatrist.

My first visit was an evaluation. Being a human being I just wanted to jump into things and just talk and have the doctor tell me what to do. This did not happen. On my next visit I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I freaked out because I thought the doctor was telling me I was a Sybil (multi-personality disorder). The name of this disorder scared me so much I fell in to a deep depression and could not get out of the bed. My husband was so worried. I had to go back to therapy and barely found enough energy to go to see my therapist. I don’t just have one, I have two. The physiologist and my prescriber.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

It’s not what you think. We are not crazy. Here is the definition:

Borderline Personality Disorder; a personality disorder characterized by severe mood swings, impulsive behavior, and difficulty forming stable personal relationships. 

This may sound horrible but I am very much a good person and retired very successfully. But in my youth I was a very volatile angry person. I trusted no one for I had been abused as a child starting in the third grade by a nun and my home life was not much better. Raised by a mentally ill mother; who herself had severe mood swings and never had one positive thing to say.

Forming relationship with other people were hard and never kept friends. Until this day I can count on one hand who I consider a friend; I am working on this. I made bad choices when it came to men until I met my husband. The only man I ever truly said yes to when he asked me to marry him.

BUT, something I excelled in was working. I was always great at my jobs even though people hated me. I never made it to CEO level mainly because of my unstable moods and my insatiable desire to fit in and belong. I never belonged or fit in as a child. If my own mother didn’t want me why would anyone else? I always over tried and was super annoying to many. Being amiable is not a quality I ever wanted. I wanted to be respected and taken serious. But how can this happen when my own mother didn’t love me, respect me, protect me or even try to break the cycle of her mental illness?

How did I get BPD?

BPD is caused by a severe trauma, it is not genetic. Because I was abused at home and then by a Nun at school this set the path to my life. Because I was always rejected and abandoned, unwanted and much more. So sadly; I developed BDP.

Where does GAD fit into all this?

The older I got the more reserved and private I became. In public I never spoke about myself and shared anything about my private life to anyone. I got to the point where I stopped inviting people over to my home. For the mere fear of being judged or someone having to share their two cents about me and my lifestyle.

My volatile behavior became anxiety driven. All day everyday until I would resolve my issues. Even then I lived in an anxiety filled mind. Until one day I just stopped going out and stayed to myself other than my family. This is not a normal way of living especially not after losing 200 pounds. My mind was closed and dark. I obsessed about running 24/7 and only ate enough to stay healthy.  Obsessing over running covered up my anxiety. It was a distraction for others to see and not question.

I was in fact the queen of distracting. I was good at it. This prevented people from looking at me and how obese I was at the time. I was the jokester, the fact finder and informationalist. I was always about educating myself. People always came to me for fact finding questions in my field of expertise. This kept my mind busy, afloat and away from anxiety.

GAD had become my friend, my coping mechanism to prevent from being respected or taken seriously. I had one state of mind and that was to stay quiet, watch and listen but never let anyone get close enough to become a friend. But food was my friend and this is how I gained weight.

The GAD was taken away with meds and all of a sudden I am starving all the time and I became a grazer. From binger to grazer. Goodness! Why is this happening? This is why.

Do Medications make you gain weight?

Yes, yes they do. We don’t know it right away because everyone is different and different medications have different side effects. Well I got whammied with the weight gain, fatigue side affect. I am not happy about this but I have plateaued again another 15 pounds later.

I made the decision as a nutrition coach to join Weight Watchers because it is a program where I do not have to give up foods I like and feel deprived. Instead I have points that I am greedy with and wisely choose where I want to eat them. I play a mind game. I lost 7 pounds in the first week and then 2 pounds the following week. I had to find something where I could implement a good nutrition without feeling so deprived.

I am not loosing weight fast at all. After hitting 195 pounds I freaked out because it was only 5 pounds away from 200 pounds and that is a major no-no. But my meds had a huge part in me gaining weight. I had to bring this to my prescribers attention to find a solution on how to control this weight gain. Not sure what is going to happen but we will see when I meet with my doctor.

So, with all this being said, yes, untreated mental health medication can sabotage your weight loss journey and you have to be mindful of changes or the weight will creep up and your clothing won’t fit regardless of how much you workout and eat healthy. Always be mindful and understanding to yourself; this would be the only way to continue a healthy weight loss journey.

Always seek the help of your bariatric doctor and your psychiatrist.