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My entire body looked sickly.  My muscles looked withered; as if my body had actually been eating itself (I know now of course, that that’s exactly what it had done)!  I went into the shower so that my children wouldn’t hear; and I cried like a big ol’ Baby Huey.  My mother was obese, and so was her mother, and so were three of her four sisters.  My paternal grandmother became overweight after 60.  I had vowed that I would never become over weight; let alone obese.  


I had the knowledge, the willpower and the stamina to prevent it, and I had been determined that despite my genetics; obesity would not be my destiny.  Yet here I was, getting bigger and bigger by the day; and being openly subjected to the same attitudes from others about obesity, that I had held privately, myself.  The few, more sympathetic people I encountered would say: “It’s that middle-aged spread.”  Ok fine, I thought, but what is it that I had in my youth that kept me healthy and fit no matter what I ate, or how much I ate, that’s now missing or depleted now that I’m older; and how can I fix it?  That’s what I wanted to know.


St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital


By Donna R. Turner, MPH, CHES

My Weight History


I am not someone who had a weight problem in my youth.  My first bout with weight came when I was 38 years old.  I weighed 110 pounds when I got married at age 20, and 115 after giving birth twice.  In my late twenties I began to notice that if I quickly put on a few pounds, I could take them off just as quickly, by eating less and exercising more.  Five pounds eventually became 10, then 15; but I could still take it off as quickly as it came on; if I wanted; and I did, with relative ease. Then, at age 38 I suddenly went from a muscular 132 pounds and a size 3, to 153 pounds, practically overnight.  And it didn’t stop there!  As someone who had taught aerobics and weight training, I began doing everything I knew to do after the first five pounds magically appeared; but the weight kept coming!


I began to have flash-backs of the 40-something women who came religiously to my classes three times a week for months on-end.  I saw how hard they worked, yet they never lost any weight.  Although I continued to encourage them, I always thought to myself: “You say you don’t eat much, but you must be eating something!”  What other reason could there have been?  Everyone knows that people only get fat because they eat too much, and exercise too little; right?  Ok…so there is one rare but possible exception:  maybe, just maybe…they’re taking some kind of medication that piles the weight on; but c’mon…how common is that?


Oh yeah; I had all the answers.  Even when eating less and exercising more didn’t work for me, I still believed that eating too much and exercising too little was the problem.  I believed it so much, that in desperation, I completely stopped eating for a full 17 days!  During that time, I continued to do aerobics for four hours a day, and I took vitamin and mineral supplements, and drank lots and lots of water.  On the morning of the 18th day, I got on the scale and was disappointed to see that I had only lost 11 pounds.  But that’s okay, I thought, at least I’ve lost some weight.  It’s coming off more slowly than I was hoping; but it is coming off.  Then I went over to the mirror and stood there naked, looking at my entire body.  I was devastated at what I saw.  





When I told my doctor what was going on after I had quickly gained 15 pounds, he simply suggested that I go on a diet, and exercise.  When I told him that I was already doing that, and that if I ate three pounds of food during the day, that three pounds would show up on the scale the next day; he diplomatically ignored what I was saying and simply repeated his instructions.  I was at a loss.  I was gaining weight so fast, that I felt like the Eddie Murphy character in the movie The Nutty Professor.  No one believed me when I told them that I wasn’t over eating; that I did exercise…a lot; that my body acted like it was starving; hanging on to every morsel of food, and that something else had to be wrong with me; not even my own doctor!

How to Lose Weight When You Can’t

How could I be a Public Health professional and have a weight problem? I used to teach aerobics and weight training! It was a personal embarrassment. Finally, I found the answer. It wasn’t a quick and easy fix.  I had several issues that got in my way for years.  When I discovered what the issues were and corrected them, the weight came off.  Read on to find out what worked for me, and why I am convinced that I will never be obese again.


If you have struggled to lose weight like I did, then maybe some of the issues that I had, are issues that you have as well.  Please take note that none of the letters that follow my name are “MD.”  No, I am not a doctor, and I insist that consulting with a doctor who specializes in weight loss, especially if you have already been diagnosed with any type of medical condition, is your safest option.

1987  Age 25,  115 lbs.

Junk Food Junkie


I began teaching myself gymnastics when I was nine years old.  As a result, I was an extremely strong and muscular teenager.  At 18, I could arm wrestle boys my age and beat them, even when they tried to cheat by holding on to the table leg for more leverage.  A typical summer-time lunch for me was a Big Mac, a large fry, a large soft drink, a fish filet or double cheeseburger (depending on what I was in the mood for), and an apple pie.  No matter what time I ate lunch, I was always starving by dinner.  Corn chips and Snicker bars were my favorite snacks, Broch’s butterscotch discs combined with their root beer barrels were my favorite hard candies.  I ate these things nearly every day, plus a large bowl (more like a small mixing bowl) of cereal for breakfast and a hefty dinner.  Although I never counted calories, I now estimate that I consistently ate more than 3000 calories a day, when I was between the ages of 12-18.  I loved junk food so much, that long before it became a popular term, I jokingly referred to myself as a junk food junkie.  When I was 38 and suddenly put on so much weight in a short period of time, I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps by eating the way that I did in my youth, I had somehow quickly used up whatever it was that was that had been keeping me slim and trim.  How could I have been able to eat so much back then and stay slim, but at 38 eat 1100 calories or even 700 calories and put on 3-5 pounds in one day?


Part One to My Weight Loss


I read some information written by a medical doctor in 1972, that helped explain why I was in love with junk food, and how to change it.  It had to do with an overgrowth of bacteria called Candida Albicans and how that bacteria overgrowth causes a craving for sugar.  I explain in detail what candida is and how I got rid of the excess in another article that I’ve already written on this site, so I won’t go into details here.  Just click on the link above to read it if you think this may be an issue for you too.


Part Two to Weight Loss


Although my body temperature had always been 98.6, 97.6 had become my new normal. Sometimes I would take my temperature and it would be as low as 97.  A few years ago, I was watching an old episode of one of those realistic crime investigation shows.  The coroner examined a body and said: “The body is 97 degrees.  He’s been dead for about 3-4 hours.”  I thought:  Wow!  I have literally been the walking dead!  


I’d have it so hot in the car while driving, that my poor kids were practically suffocating. Sometimes I would be so cold, that I would run a tub of hot water and sit there for 45 minutes or longer, just trying to warm up.  When I asked my doctor about it; the same man who had been my doctor since I was nine years old; he said: “Some people just have a lower temperature; it’s normal.”  But 97.6 had never been normal for me.


From what I read, it appeared to me that I had a problem with my thyroid that was undiagnosed.  I began taking large doses of kelp in the form of tablets, and found that within a couple of months, my body temperature had returned to the normal 98.6.  I cannot say exactly how much I took.  It’s been too many years.  But I can tell you that I had also read that the FDA sets a minimum recommendation for supplements based on what it would take for someone who is in optimum health, to stay in optimum health.  So if you’re not in optimum health, you need much more than the minimum recommendation of any given supplement. Also, with the exception of vitamins A and D, it is nearly impossible to overdose on vitamins and minerals, because the body gets rid of the excess through the kidneys and urine.  With that in mind, I’m sure that I took at least 4-6 times the recommended amount.


Part Three


I discovered that, if the body is too highly acidic, weight loss efforts will be futile.  When I tested my pH, it was 5.0 which meant that I was highly acidic.  If you’re interested or think this may be an issue for you too, I explain in detail what acidity is, how to alkalize the body, its importance, and how to test your pH in another article I’ve already written, called: Alkalize:  What Does it Mean?


Part Four:  The Diet


After I got all three of the things above in check, I began Dr. Atkin’s high protein, low carb diet.  I was amazed at how quickly the weight came off.  I was back to a healthy weight within just three months (about 145 pounds), and reached 126 pounds about two months after that. I was more than happy with that.  I did pick up a few pounds soon after that, however.  My weight fluctuated between 135 and 140 for the next nine years.  After the ninth year, the weight started slowly creeping higher.  I was 49 and had begun enjoying some of the carbs I had given up so many years before.  I was not at all concerned because I had been so much bigger, and now I knew exactly what to do to get the weight off; whenever I was ready.  About two months before my 50th birthday, I had gained 20 pounds and was weighting about 160 lbs. I decided that I didn’t want to be 50 and fat, I wanted to be 50 and fabulous!  So I went back on the Atkins diet with total commitment.   


Where I Went Wrong  


I was heart-broken when the Atkin’s Diet didn’t work for me this second time.  My candida was in check, so was my acidity and thyroid.  So why was it that, the harder I tried to lose weight, the bigger I got?  Although it took much longer for me to get there the second time, I found that once again, I was tipping the scale at 193 pounds.  Agghhh!  Maybe it was hormonal.  I was going through “The Change” and my hot flashes were out of control.  So I started eating as many as six eggs a day for their DHA (the precursor for hormones) and eating freshly ground flax seeds and was able to get rid of my hot flashes.  By the way; eggs have gotten a bad reputation for cholesterol, but they have been shown to increase good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. Later, I discovered that spirulina keeps the hot flashes away just as well, if not better, so I started using that instead of eggs and flax seeds.  But still, I could not lose weight. Once again, I began reading everything I could find that might provide a solution.


Finally, again; after about three years, I discovered why my body was behaving as if it was in starvation mode:  It was behaving that way; piling on fat with every morsel of food; because in fact, it WAS starving.  For nearly 10 years I had stuck to the Atkin’s Diet.  Even as I headed towards the 10th year and chose to add more carbs, I was still basically following the low carb diet; eating more carbs only on weekends.  But the mistake I made was in not understanding HOW the body eats, which I explain in How the Body Eats.  Once I understood that, I needed to find a way around the undiagnosed hypoglycemia I seemed to have developed. That is, although I had symptoms of hypoglycemia, my new doctor said that my blood sugar was “within normal range.”  Okay…so here we go again.  I’m going to have to figure this out on my own.


In the meantime, with a better understanding of how the body eats, I added beans, lentils and rice to my daily diet.  I also included steel cut oats, because combined, I learned that these beans and grains (black beans, white beans, black rice, lentils, steel cut oats) have all of the 12 essential trace minerals found in tissue salts; and then some!  Some days, my body was so satiated, that all I ate was three cups of this mixture, one cup at a time, and had no desire for anything else; I wasn’t even hungry!  The cool thing is, they have such little flavor on their own, that you can make them taste like chili if you want, or whatever you like.  If I had stuck with this religiously, I am certain that the weight would have come off more quickly than it did. However, because I got tired of eating beans and rice all of the time, I ate other things as well; not because I craved other things, but because, as they say: “Variety is the spice of life.”  


Consequently, it has taken about a year for me to lose 35 pounds, and all I did was add the beans, lentils, and grains that I mentioned above to my diet on a regular basis!  No, I didn’t exercise.  My experience the first time around made it clear to me, that no amount of exercise was going to allow me to lose weight.  Besides:  I simply was not one of those older, heavier people who could jump around doing aerobics or even do those dance exercises.  I just didn’t have enough energy to lift my body off the ground, and at my age (54 at the time), I didn’t think it was worth the risk.  But now that I’ve lost a few pounds, I’ve begun walking 2-3 hours, 3-4 times a week.  Additionally, I have started treating myself with mega doses of vitamins E, C and B complex, to remedy my hypoglycemic symptoms, and will soon go back on the Atkin’s Diet, using black beans and rice as my go-to carbs.



June 2017, 163 lbs

November 2015, 193 lbs.

I began reading everything I could get my hands on, about weight; searching for reasons other than eating too much and exercising too little, or side effects from medications, that could explain why I had gained more than 60 pounds in less than five months.  It took about three years, but I finally found some answers and quickly took action.  I lost the weight and kept it off for nearly 10 years.  


When the weight started to creep back on, I wasn’t worried.  I figured I knew what to do this time, and 5, 10, or 15 extra pounds was nothing compared to the whopping 62 pounds I had gained before.  Approximately two months before my 50th birthday, I decided that I was ready to take off the 20 extra pounds I had put on over the past year.  I did everything I had done before; only this time, it didn’t work.  It was a total nightmare…again!  I continued to gain weight until I tipped the scale once more, at 193 pounds on a 5’3” frame.  It would be another three years before I could discover what had gone wrong with my body, the second time.


Now, I’ll share with you what I did to lose weight the first time and how I kept it off for nearly 10 years.  I’ll also explain what happened that caused me to regain the weight, what I’ve done to fix it, and why after losing 35 pounds this time around, I can be reasonably sure that I will never be obese again.

 


Selfie:  July 12, 2017 Age 55

Diet Success Secret

As mentioned above, you must start with a reasonably healthy body.  But you can turn your body into a “fat burning machine” by choosing a low-carb diet (whether it’s Atkins or another), and making sure that you eat a minimum of 1,000 fat calories per day.  It takes a minimum of 1,000 fat calories to kick on the “oven” and burn your stored fat.  If you eat 60g or more of carbs per day, your weight will remain the same unless you exercise; and maybe even if you do exercise.  But once your body enters the ketogenic stage (which takes about three days) and starts using fat for energy rather than sugar, you will need to consume 1,000 fat calories a day to maximize the benefits of your efforts.


Of course, my weight loss journey is ongoing, but I can be reasonably sure that I will never be obese again because, whether I eat or not; I will always make sure that my body is properly fed.  What I mean is; that in addition to keeping my acidity, thyroid, candida and hypoglycemia in check, I will make sure that my body gets the nutrition-packed, soluble fiber it needs to keep me healthy; whether or not it happens to be in the form of foods I might prefer, simply because they taste better or are more convenient.

Love, Sex, & Men:


What Every Girl Should Know

Love, Sex, &  Men: What Every Girl Should Know