I need you to know that I never meant to inspire anybody.
Not even for a second.
It never crossed my mind.
I seriously did it because I didn’t want to disappoint my doctor.
Or maybe it was another reason.
Weight loss is tricky that way.
The most frequent question I get is “How did you stay motivated?”
I don’t really know. I just did. The same way I stay motivated to take a shower every morning, or clean my clothes every week, or drive to work five days in a row. I just did.
Only, everyone knows losing weight is much harder than taking a shower every day.
So for this, I had help. My doctor.
She approached me about my weight in July. She said my blood pressure was getting high and that I could stand to lose a few pounds.
Of course I could. I was 5’3″ and 198.
I could stand to lose more than ‘a few.’
I told her that I wanted to. I told her what I ate everyday, and that I really did work out regularly. And then, I told her that the only time I’d every lost a significant amount of weight, I was taking diet pills.
She said, ‘I prescribe diet pills.’
Just like that. Like she was talking about Vicodin, or Lipitor or Yaz.
So we had a very candid conversation that involved me tearing up, during which she told me about Phentermine. She said it would make me not want to eat and that it wasn’t a magic pill, but it would help and, that she’d be willing to give me a prescription.
And I told her I was interested.
I’d have thought the whole thing would have been a lot more formal and in-depth than it was. I’d have thought getting diet pills from a doctor would somehow be harder than it was. But in the end, she basically said I had to come in every month to be weighed and if I lost weight I got a another month supply.
That was it.
Just keep losing weight and I’d keep getting more.
I started taking them Aug. 1.
At first, they made me a little bit insane.
My body would sleep for one hour a night at most, because they gave me horrible insomnia. And my emotions felt like, well, they didn’t feel like emotions so much as either overwhelming bursts I couldn’t control or nothing at all.
Most importantly, I didn’t want to eat anything. Ever.
Some days I literally went 24 hours without any food. Or, well, probably more like 36 hours. Other days, people would see me eating a cheese quesadilla from Taco Bell and wonder how the heck I was losing weight, but they didn’t realize that was it was the only thing I was eating in 24-hour period.
That’s the kind of stuff that messes you up. And so, I had a break down about a week in.
A full-blown freak-out during which I cried for about two days because I couldn’t even fall asleep long enough to calm down.
Eventually though, I adjusted as best I could.
I started sleeping about four hours a night. And walking four to six miles a day to burn off as much energy as I could. And, I was losing about one pound every other day.
In fact, in the first two months I lost 27 pounds.
That was great.
Twenty-seven pounds in two months is no small accomplishment, no matter what drugs you’re on.
And so, I kept going. Eventually, the pills became less effective and I started losing more like seven pounds a month. But seven pounds a month, plus seven pounds a month, plus seven pounds a month has added up to 56 pounds.
Fifty-six freaking pounds.
I mean, when I try to picture where on my body 56 pounds was hiding, I can’t. I can’t even come close to understanding how I carried 56 extra pounds.
But now you know how I lost them.
Now you know I’m no superwoman. Although, I’d like to point out that I never pretended to be.
I didn’t want to write about this because I was really scared about how people would react. That somehow my efforts – which really did include hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of working out and avoiding temptations – would be lessened. That somehow you would think I didn’t earn this. That I didn’t exercise ALL. THE. TIME. and give up soda and avoid McDonald’s fires.
But, the pills haven’t made getting up at 4:45 a.m. to go to Jazzercise any easier, or saying no to a Coke with my dinner any less important.
Beyond that, I’ve also started to worry about the people who say I’ve inspired them.
I worry they’ll say things like ‘Oh, well she was taking diet pills. That’s the ONLY reason she lost weight. That means it’s impossible to do it any other way, so I shouldn’t even try.’ Which I would hate to have happen.
So, until now, I’ve only told my very closest inner circle about this. They’re the people who would leave their wedding to come to my aid if I was stuck in a ditch somewhere or give me $1,000 if I really needed it, or love me at any size.
I have to say that I’ve been surprised to see who I’ve let in to this part of me.
It wasn’t all people I expected, which has made me realize who I really hold dear.
Thankfully, I’ve chosen well. They’ve all told me my efforts were worthy and that what other people think – other people who don’t love me – doesn’t matter for even two seconds, and that I didn’t have to tell anyone about this ever if I didn’t want to.
But I feel like I’m not being totally open and honest if I don’t write about it here. And I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot of people out there looking for help. Looking for a way to take back control of their bodies. People who don’t just want to lose 10 or 15 pounds, but 50 or 60 or 150 pounds.
So I want to do my little part to start taking the stigma away.
To let people know that there is a way to do it. A safe way that isn’t magic, but does help. And that food is an addiction, like smoking or alcohol, so it’s OK to ask for help.
And, that if you’re serious about losing weight, you should go see your doctor. Make an appointment today. Tonight. Go talk about it, and admit you have a problem and have a candid conversation about some realistic options.
And to everyone else, I want to say, it’s time to stop pretending people can lose weight if they just stop being lazy. The Biggest Loser isn’t real people. That’s just TV. In real life, people can struggle for years and not lose even one pound.
So maybe it’s OK to get prescription the same way someone trying to quit smoking gets a special gum or someone with Diabetes gets insulin.
And, the sooner we all accept that, the sooner people can get beyond the stigma of diet pills and start using them to change their lives.
For those wondering, (and I know you’re wondering) I’ve personally been weaned off phentermine for about two weeks now. During that time I’ve lost two more pounds, so I have a lot of hope that this is the new me. That my doctor was right when she told me I’d developed new habits, so the weight would stay off.
Yes, I know that for the rest of my life I will have to make the decision to not have a Coke with my dinner. But, now, I know it’s possible to make that choice – I just needed some help to realize it.– Start weight: 198 / Current weight: 142 / Current me: Happy.