I used to be obese, but I had to quit. I was diagnosed with both a thyroid nodule and fibromyalgia when I was 23. I inadvertently managed to cure myself of the thyroid disease, and I’ve been symptom-free of FM for so long that my current doctor believes I was misdiagnosed. “People don’t get better from fibromyalgia.” (All right then; study me, I’m game). I’m turning 40 soon, and when new people meet me, they see no trace of my chronic illness years. They see me as this size zero marathon runner. Other women have asked me what I weigh and what size I wear, and then they swear at me. I hear a lot of “You don’t know what it’s like,” followed by a litany of issues, most of which I have experienced. (How do you know I don’t know what it’s like?) I have always been willing to share everything I’ve learned, because I can’t stand the thought of someone else suffering from chronic pain, or fatigue, or migraine, for the many years that I did. I’ll do anything to help.
Food intake is the major factor. There is huge resistance to this concept, because it’s tied to ideas of morality and willpower and shame and psychological disorders. We prefer the idea that we can just add exercise, and we totally will, just as soon as we’re less busy or we get over this cold or the weather is more cooperative. Now, I’m an active person. My motivation for being athletically fit is so that I can go on backpacking expeditions and drag a third of my body weight uphill all day. It’s been my experience that exercise has virtually nothing to do with weight loss or gain. In fact, I steadily gained weight while training for my marathon, because I run around with a belt pouch full of cookies and trail mix. It takes me 37 miles of running to burn off one pound of body fat. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m too lazy to rely on anything that strenuous when I want to meet a goal!
Everyone is on a diet all the time. We’re either maintaining a range of body weight, or losing weight, or gaining weight. Over the course of a year, we’re either going to stay the same, be leaner, or have a greater quantity of adipose tissue on our bodies. Those are the options. It was something of a shock to me to realize that I was on the Steady Weight Gain diet plan. I gained 17 pounds in a year, and my health went into a nosedive. I was getting migraines on a weekly basis. I had the first FM flare-up I’d had in years. I was having night terrors. I felt awful. I started keeping a food log. What I learned was that I was eating about 150% of what a person my height needed to eat. Over a three-month period, I meticulously measured and weighed and read labels and wrote down every single thing I put in my mouth. I lost the extra weight. I’ve “kept it off” for over a year, although I don’t really think of it that way. I think of it as “living.” I created a new normal that allowed me to stay at one size.
Now I live the same way as everyone else. I eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks every day. I go to the grocery store and choose food and put it in my cart and bring it home. I go to restaurants and order stuff that looks good. The difference is that I do it as a lean, strong person, and I do it with full awareness and knowledge of the cumulative effects of my individual choices. When I see something that Past Self used to eat, I have the twin thoughts of “Yum” and “Uhoh.” Nothing tastes as good as pain-free feels.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.