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Healthy Weight Center

Can I Ever be Normal?

02/23/2010

Question:

I have been a yo-yo dieter for over 50 years.

The standard advice to "lose weight slowly" by "making small changes" and either decreasing my calories or increasing exercise simply doesn`t work for me. If I increase exercise and/or decrease my calories by, say, 500 calories per day, I simply wind up becoming a horrible grouchy witch and sleeping more but I don`t lose any weight.

The more I decrease my calories, the more I sleep and the grouchier I get. I mean, I literally can`t keep my eyes open, even if I try to compensate by using caffeine to force myself to stay awake. (Believe me, I`ve tried it without caffeine too, so its not the caffeine that is causing the problem, but it doesn`t solve it either.)

Its as though my body automatically compensates for any increase in exercise or decrease in calories I impose on it and I end up not losing weight.

What am I doing wrong? The only way I can lose weight is by doing something much more drastic, and of course then I gain the weight right back as soon as the more drastic portion of "the program" (whatever it is) ends.

All of these "more drastic" programs have been medically supervised with registered dietitians and psychologists and MDs and personal trainers and behavior modification specialists and whatever supervising them (not "fad" diets by proprietary diet mongers) but they still don`t work long term. Some have been residential programs where you can`t possibly "cheat" because they provide all the food and weigh and measure all the portions and physically supervise every single eating and exercise session to make sure you do them right.

Then when it doesn`t work (or when I gain the weight back after leaving the residential program) I get blamed for "doing it wrong."

Apparently I am the stupidest person on earth, since I have been repeatedly "doing everything wrong" for over 50 years and am nothing but a spectacular 100% failure.

What am I doing wrong that I end up becoming a horrible screaming witch and sleeping so much whenever I am actually eating little enough or exercising enough to lose weight? I mean, I develop serious personality changes when I am dieting that have cost me jobs, my marriage, custody of my kids, etc., whenever I am eating little enough so that I actually lose weight.

Usually the thing that makes me fail when I do manage to lose weight is that I can`t stand the personality changes that happen to me. When it gets so bad that I can`t stand the depression and horrible, horrible, horrible grouchiness any more, I start eating more and then I gain the weight back. I just can`t stand living that way though, and -- believe me -- neither can anyone else. I have lost good jobs and been in danger of becoming homeless when my personality is so destroyed by dieting that nobody can stand being around me.

They have tried giving me anti-depressants, etc. but those neither help me lose weight, nor do they prevent the personality changes that happen to me when I force myself to under-eat enough to actually lose any weight.

The thing is, when I am NOT dieting to try to lose weight, I am a completely normal, nice, non-depressed, non-witchy normal person in every way, except I am fat.

What am I doing wrong?

I will soon be 60 years old and have been struggling with my weight since I was a toddler. The first weight loss diet I remember being put on was before I started kindergarten.

My lifelong dream is to live for at least some small part of my life NOT being treated like a "disgusting fat person" but where I can just walk down the street and be treated like a normal person (i.e., not like a fat person) AND not be so depressed and grouchy that nobody, not even myself, can stand to be around me.

I`m becoming afraid that I will grow old and die without ever getting my wish. Is there any hope for me?

Answer:

It sounds like you have had a long struggle with weight loss. It is a complicated process to "get healthy". I recommend that you set an appointment with your primary care physician to go over options for weight loss.

For more information:

Go to the Healthy Weight Center health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Lisa  Martin Hawver, MD Lisa Martin Hawver, MD
Formerly Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery
No longer associated