Insulin Resistance

This post is probably my most personal to date. But I decided to write it after finding so many people struggling in a similar way and a surprising lack of resources.

(side note – gentlemen, I talk about girly things in this post. Including girl body functions. Bail now if you’re uncomfortable)

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. It was around age 11 or 12 (when I hit puberty) that my body started changing. I had always been tall and just a bigger kid but wore average size clothing, was really active, and ate the same foods my younger brothers did. I didn’t hoard candy or food. I didn’t emotionally eat. But we all noticed that I was gaining weight much quicker and in a way that didn’t seem quite normal.

My pediatrician – who now I realize was awful at what he did, he let me have strep throat every 3 months for about 5 years before referring me to a specialist. Idiot – didn’t have any major concerns and just told my mom to have me watch what I ate and exercise more. I was really involved at my school. One year playing volleyball and doing cheerleading back to back. I was constantly running, moving, and burning calories. Still, I never seemed able to lose weight.

Obviously this led to an enormous amount of insecurities, wounding, teasing, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I was called the fat girl. I hated eating in front of people. I hated the way I looked. I tried starving myself and throwing up off and on for about 6 years. On top of my struggles with my weight I was going through awkward years. Bad haircuts, pre-braces, big glasses, just not a great look for me.

The older I got, the more I was able to fix the cosmetic. Growing out my hair, straightening my teeth, wearing contacts. Things I could fix. But I could never change my weight. It was the most frustrating thing in the world. I also noticed my period was very inconsistent. Because I was still young and not sexually active, no one really had any concerns.

This song and danced happened well into my twenties. My weight would fluctuate quite a bit. If I stopped eating certain foods altogether I could lose weight but as soon as I started eating semi-normal it would come back and more. I’d work myself out until I was throwing up or coughing up blood, I’d cry in the middle of the night trying to figure out how to fix it, I’d restrict my calories to so few I’d pass out. It was awful. It didn’t help by this point I was surrounded by super skinny beautiful Nashville girls.

When I found out I had Celiac, I cut all types of carbs out of my diet. I didn’t know how to eat gluten-free and there wasn’t much out there by way of instruction. I lost 30lbs in a month. It was crazy. Eventually I figured out what types of carbs I could eat and slowly gained it all back.

By the time I moved back to Colorado in 2009, I was miserable with my body. I tried a few different diets and was able to lose about 20 pounds relatively quickly. I yo-yo’ed for awhile until I went on the road this past year.

Within about ten months I found myself gaining close to thirty pounds. It made no sense. Whatsoever. I couldn’t eat most of the junk on the road, I’d work physical labor close to 70 hours a week, and I started doing Insanity in the middle of all of it! Instead of losing weight I gained it quickly. My periods also got more and more infrequent. I was at a total loss.

This was part of why I left the tour. I knew my health was more important than anything else and I was bound and determined to figure out what was wrong.

My friend turned me on to her doctor and explained she had some of the same things happening that I did. I quickly booked an appointment and tentatively walked into his office a few weeks later.

I explained all of my symptoms and talked through my medical history. Dr. Foley listened patiently and compassionately as I poured out my heart. I told him I felt like I was crazy. I didn’t understand what was happening. I couldn’t figure out how to stop it.

He looked at me and said words I will never forget: “You’ve done nothing wrong. You aren’t crazy. I can fix you.”

I started sobbing right there on his exam table. He explained that he suspected I had an insulin resistance. And when you have an insulin resistance your body works completely different from everyone else. He told me I was pretty much the poster child for this disease.

As we talked through more specifics, I knew my life was about to drastically change. The way I saw my body, the way I ate food, the way I worked out, all of it. I had been doing everything opposite from what I needed to be doing.

So I stopped working out. I stopped eating carbs almost completely. I started eating massive amounts of protein. I started taking medicine to help my body lower the amount of insulin it was producing and process the insulin already in my system.

And in 16 weeks I’ve lost 44 pounds. I’ve lost it in ways I’ve never seen my body lose weight before. My entire body has changed. Literally.

The reason I’m sharing this is two-fold.

1) The identity issues that have come with it (I’ll address those in my next post)
2) If I can help one person who struggles the same way I struggle, it’ll be worth it.

Dr. Foley told me about two patients who are in their teens and they’ve had tremendous success. I got teary-eyed and my heart leapt for them. I grieved momentarily for my own teenage self. Because if only I had known then what I know now, my entire life would have been different.

My life is completely different from how it was. In some ways it sucks but in so many other ways it has been the biggest blessing I could have ever gotten. I felt so hopeless for so long. I felt so ashamed for so long. I felt so confused for so long. And now I have answers. I have a game plan. I have something that works. I understand my body and how I need to treat it.

I’m not where I need to be yet – I’ve still quite a bit to go. And maybe when I hit that goal I’ll share numbers and percentages and all those other impressive things. I’m still a little too private for that.

But please friends, please, I urge you. If any of this resonates with you, email me. You can find me on the Here I Am page. I would love to talk to you and answer any questions you might have. And male friends who may have made it this far down, this is not just a female disease. Men suffer from it too.

So there ya go… now you know why I seem to have become the disappearing woman.

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6 thoughts on “Insulin Resistance

  1. So glad you shared this, Rachel! I thought I had insulin resistance for several years, until fertility testing just a few months ago ruled that out. I can so relate to your frustration with poor healthcare providers’ advice!

    Keep sharing, girl. God’s got good things in store for you!

  2. Pingback: I Want to be Beautiful | hello my old heart

  3. I have insulin resistance too, as well as PCOS which has affected my fertility. Are you on glucophage/metformin or other? I was put on it two different times and taken off because it made me very sick. I would love to hear any advice you may have for me. Unfortunately I havent been given much information about how to live with IR except by cutting carbs. Hardly good enough.

    You are courageous and so inspirational! I’m glad I discovered your blog (via John Acuff),

  4. I think my comment was deleted when I was directed to the log-in screen. If so i just want you to know i have IR, too. As well as PCOS. i never received much advice on how to handle the IR and my weight had been a struggle since my teenage years, too. It’s not often I randomly discover someone else with IR. You are so courageous and I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  5. Pingback: This is My Fight Song (A Health Update) | hello my old heart

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