Sunday, October 15, 2017

Phentermine Side Effects, and Weigh In

Yesterday marked the end of seven weeks since I started taking phentermine at the urging of my doctor. I think that's about halfway to the point when I will have to stop taking it, since she stated that usually it stops working for people after about 3 months. So far I feel fine on it, and have had very few of the noted side effects that phentermine (aka Adipex) can cause. The most common side effects (found on include headaches, dizziness, tremors (nope, I had none of these), dry mouth (nope, but I do feel thirsty more often and drink more water, which is good!) and diarrhea or upset stomach (nope). I did experience a few of the other common side effects in the first week. I had trouble falling asleep at bedtime for the first few days; I felt wide awake and just couldn't get to sleep until late. I fixed that issue by taking my phentermine earlier in the day and skipping the afternoon dose for awhile until my body got used to it. The only longer-term side effect I have had that is listed is (TMI) constipation, even though I eat fruits and vegetables and drink lots of water. I even added a fiber supplement with no luck. Now I just drink a cup of Senna tea once a week or so to keep things moving along.

Since phentermine is a central nervous system stimulant, one of the other common side effects is feeling restless or "hyperactive" and insomnia. Well, I wouldn't say I ever felt "hyperactive" but for the first week or so I *did* feel more energized and had the desire to get moving more. I sure got a lot of housework and cleaning done that first week! I'd say in the second week, when I was taking half at 7AM and half at noon, the insomnia went completely away along with any jittery feeling. Since then it's been a pretty even keel of yes, having more energy to get out and exercise or get things done during the day, but not as much as I *wish* I could have! Just a bit of a boost. But thankfully, my blood pressure has not gone up and I've had no issues with heart palpitations or racing or anything like that (less common side effects). My doctor sees me once a month to check those things and make sure I'm doing okay.

Mainly the phentermine works in two ways: as an appetite suppressant and an energy booster. I do find I am not as hungry as often and can get by with less food. You can't just take a pill and eat whatever you want, though. You still have to do the work. I went back to what I know best: lower carb eating, based on meats, fats, and produce. I do still enjoy some starches and grains once in awhile but I am really careful to keep them limited. I might have a few corn chips at the Mexican restaurant with salsa, but the rest of my meal would be carne asada and grilled vegetables... no beans or rice or tortillas. And if I am at a potluck I might have some chicken soup and salad and even had 2 bites of a muffin with butter, but I won't have croutons, crackers or dessert. It's moderation and eyeballing my carbs to stay under about 70-80 grams, which isn't too hard for me to estimate after tracking carbs for months and months on other diet plans. I'm not measuring, counting, or tracking anything... just using my knowledge of nutrition to make good choices. As far as an energy boost goes, it's not even the kind of boost you might get from a few cups of coffee. It's more like *just enough* of a difference to get me to go walk the dogs every day instead of blowing it off sometimes, or *just enough* to go ahead and do some yard work instead of deciding to watch TV.  My doctor told me that phentermine also would give my metabolism a "boost." I've found conflicting information about that online; some sources say it does speed up metabolism, and others say it only does so by getting a person moving more. Maybe it's a little of both.

Today I weighed in at 236 pounds... a loss of four pounds since last Sunday. It wasn't until Monday that I hit my 239 goal and posted last, but my usual weigh in day is Sunday and I count pounds lost weekly on Sundays. Here's how it has gone each week since starting Phentermine at 258 pounds on August 26th (which was incidentally, a Saturday, so the first week weigh in is one day longer than the rest:

week 1:  -9 pounds
week 2:  -1 pounds
week 3:  -3 pounds
week 4:  -3 pounds
week 5:  -2 pounds
week 6:  -0 pounds
week 7:  -4 pounds

Total so far:  -22 pounds.

Although it *feels* like a super rapid weight loss and my first month's loss of 17 pounds *is* the most I have ever lost in a month, it's really not overly fast. If you take out that first week loss, which was likely a lot of bloat and water from eating more carbs in the weeks prior, it averages just over 2 pounds a week. That's a nice, steady rate of loss that is within the usual guidelines doctors give for safe weight loss. I'm really happy with this. I can't even explain how much better I feel with 22 pounds gone!

Well this post has gone on long enough. I just wanted to share a few details about the phentermine and my experience. I'd be glad to answer any questions in the comments. Going forward I probably won't be writing about the drug itself much, but more about this process of re-losing, yet again, lots of regained pounds, and hopefully for the final time, escaping obesity.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Next Chapter

A little over two months ago, when my blog hit its ten year anniversary, I had this overwhelming sense of failure. In those ten years, I went from 278 pounds down to 175 pounds (a loss of 103 pounds) and then back up again, slowly and gradually over the last seven years, to a bit over 250 pounds. It wasn't without work, either. If you've been a blog reader for long, you know I have tried and lost and gained and done everything from Whole 30 to AIP to carb counting to biking across America over those last seven years, but still, as my Weight by Year page shows, I steadily gained about 15 pounds every year until 2015, when I *lost* about 15 pounds. But I sure made up for it in 2016, going from 229 pounds to 260, a one-year gain of 31 pounds. Honestly, it has really sucked.

Least year on my 9 year bloggiversary I was SO determined to get the weight off once and for all. But that didn't happen and one year later (this August) I was a bit over 250 pounds. That's when I left. I swore I would not write again unless and until I got under 240 pounds.

And then I kept gaining.

You know me. I had no accountability. I let go and ate whatever. I went to the fair and had lemonade and a cheese steak and beer battered fries and a caramel apple. "But hey, I didn't eat an elephant ear or any ice cream!" I dunno, I guess I just felt like ten years is enough and maybe I just should be who I am. And by August 26th, I weighed 258 pounds. And then I looked in the mirror and thought, this is NOT just who I am. This is not who I am at all. This is not a lifestyle I can be happy in. It makes me UNhappy and I just feel crappy.

I guess in a way I wondered: if I have NO ONE following me, no one watching what I eat or how much I exercise... no one waiting to hear how I did this month or what my weight is... then maybe I could feel happy and free and not guilty for just eating what I want and being who I am. So I figured it was time to close up the blog. Stop with the audience. Just be.

But it didn't work that way. Even with NO plans to ever come back here and report anything, or give any update online anywhere, I found myself not comfortable at a heavier weight. I was not getting a sense of excitement and pleasure from my food like I used to a decade ago when I would binge. Somehow, even the stuff I *did* eat that I knew was not really good for me did not taste that good. Not like I remembered. My son bought donuts and with NO guilt I picked one and started to eat it, but it just felt gross. I didn't even want it. No one was judging, looking, or hearing confessions and yet I did not want it. And when my pants got so tight I could no longer wear them, and when not only my knees but my hips started clicking and hurting when I walked, I came to the conclusion on my own that this is not me. It's not what I want, even if nobody is watching and nobody is judging.

I went to the doctor near the end of August... the endocrinologist, actually. I went to her for a regular checkup on my blood sugar (which was fine), and as always they weighed me and jotted down the gain, but said nothing. I decided to bring it up myself. I said, "I am really uncomfortable at this weight. I have done xyz and have not lost weight. Even going back on thyroid medication did not have any effect on either my weight nor my energy level. What should I do?" And she looked at me and said, "Well, you're right. You do need to lose weight if you want to keep your health. So I think I would recommend phentermine."

Um, NO. I told her about how that drug could raise my blood pressure... and she said "it might, but being obese is worse for your blood pressure and your heart, so you could try phentermine and we would monitor your blood pressure." Um, NO. I did not want to use drugs to lose weight. Remember back in 2012 when I wrote this post: Here, Have a Diet Pill? My primary doctor had recommended Adipex (phentermine) then, too. So I objected again this time... but the doctor persisted. She said that it was a very old and safe drug, *except* when combined with another drug back in the Fen-phen days. Alone, she said, this could really help me get some weight off. And once I get some weight off, I'd have more energy and motivation to lose the rest... without phentermine.

Believe it or not, I agreed to try it. She had me start on a half dose (half of a 37.5 mg tablet) and then after a few days I went up to half in the morning and half after lunch. And from August 26th to September 26th, I went from 258 pounds to 241... a loss of 17 pounds. I have *never* lost 17 pounds in a month before. Ever.

Well now it is October 9th. It took almost two weeks to drop another 2 pounds (I had an unusually long, 11 day plateau at 240 pounds. Psychological? Body needed a break?) and today I finally hit 239. Nineteen pounds gone so far, and still going. My blood pressure is better than it was before phentermine. My doctor said I could take phentermine for about 3 months, and then it would lose its effectiveness. I am taking advantage of the next month and a half and getting off as much weight as I can.

Thanks for sticking around, and checking in to see how I'm doing! I am definitely back.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

10 Years of This

This past Friday marked my 10-year Bloggiversary... ten years since I started this blog back in 2007. Ten years of this! I lost 103 pounds and gained most of it back, and last year I swore up and down that I was so done messing around with this and was DETERMINED to get the weight back off by my ten year blog anniversary, or quit blogging.

Obviously I have not gotten the weight back off. I hit 260 pounds at the start of this year, and have only lost about ten pounds since then. I also made a goal last year to finish my "Fat Mom Across America" biking journey by my ten year anniversary. That didn't happen either.

Well, enough with the talk and no action. So I won't be posting again until I am under 240 pounds. If I never get under 240 pounds, I won't be posting again. At all.

Hope to "talk" with you again soon. But if not, it's been a good run. I loved the wonderful highs of seeing my body getting smaller and healthier, reaching new goals, seeing the difference in photos every ten pounds. I so enjoyed the great community that blogging created. Getting to experience the rewards of all my hard work was worth it, and a blessing. Thank you for being here along the way.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Oh, the Food!

I am really hopeful that this time is the last time I have to lose this weight. I very much want to succeed at this once and for all, even though I know maintenance is the next phase in this journey... a phase that never ends. So far I feel good, I am tracking my calories and biking every day. All I need to do is continue. Sounds pretty simple, but I know there will be hurdles along the way. 

Today I enjoyed
Breakfast: Egg beater omelet with bacon, spinach, avocado, and olives and iced coffee with sugar free syrup and half and half
Snack: protein shake
Lunch: light string cheese, ham, and a peach
Snack: Moon Cheese, pretty good stuff and no carbs in most flavors!! Was out and about and grabbed this on the go. Crunchy and yummy.
Dinner: the last of the calabacita (beef, tomatoes, onions, summer squash, and corn) with a bit of sour cream
Snack: chocolate protein bar

So this was a more processed day because I was busy. I have had a lot going on the last few days. Another day this week:

Breakfast: protein shake, coffee with cream
Lunch at a restaurant: grilled chicken breast over a Romaine salad with Parmesan, bacon, and Caesar dressing. Side cup of chicken enchilada soup. Plain iced tea with lemon.
Snack: sugar free pudding
Dinner (potluck): shredded pork, one deviled egg, spinach salad with berries and red onions in vinaigrette, cabbage slaw in a not-creamy dressing, pickles, asparagus, watermelon, and a Clementine.

Even on days that I am eating out, I am estimating my portions and tracking everything. I stay as low carb as I can while still enjoying every bite!

Tomorrow I only have one appointment so will be preparing all my meals at home, including chicken breasts, salad, and sauteed vegetables. Some cucumber slices with hummus will also be on the menu.

Can I just say that I really enjoy cheese, bacon, avocado and chocolate? I am never going to eliminate those foods completely. I am going to fit them in and lose weight while I eat them. Of these, the most problematic is cheese because I could eat it all day! It's too high in fat (even lower fat versions), sodium, and calories, So I do limit it and watch for weight loss stalls when I am eating it too often. But don't hate on my bacon, avocado, chocolate and cheese! You can hate on my Doritos, but not my fab four.

Hoping the scale continues the trend downward at my weigh in this weekend. I am not feeling restricted or deprived AT ALL and think this has been pretty fun so far! I will enjoy the easier times while I can.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Weigh In

Thank you for all the comments on my Update Photo post the other day. Now I have a non-photo update to make.

Last week I tracked my calories 1 day and biked 1.7 miles. I did not lose any weight.

This week I tracked my calories 5 days and biked 7.3 miles (through Sunday 7/16). I lost 2 pounds.

This is progress. Someone had made a comment on one of my posts last week saying that I don't even have a plan or any goals, like how many pounds to lose each week , losing 10 pounds as a mini goal, or a set calorie and macronutrients goal. So I wanted to clarify that I do have goals! My goals are to not look like this anymore, and not feel like this anymore. In the years of weight loss efforts I have discovered that setting something like "lose 2 pounds a week" always results in my feeling like a failure. There are going to be weeks that, even though I stay totally on track, my body hangs onto weight for whatever reason: PMS, water retention, natural weight loss cycles, sodium, etc. And if I set a pounds-per-week goal for myself, I am going to "fail" that goal at least once a month. I would rather focus, not on the numbers, but on the behaviors. Then the pounds-per-week takes care of itself! I love to look at numbers as data once the weight loss or gain has happened; I always keep track of what I lose or gain each week, month, year. But no, there is no number goal right now. My "behavior" goal this last 2 weeks has been to get used to tracking again, be accurate in my measurements, start using more time and energy towards buying, prepping, and eating healthy options and smaller portions, and getting back into the habit of biking. I'm accomplishing that, and am proud of the progress! Biking almost every day, even if it is just one or two miles, is going to take me in the right direction and help build the habit and endurance to go longer and farther.

Ending this post with a couple things I enjoyed this week:

Spinach, onion, avocado, bacon, and olive omelet with fresh berries (a great breakfast!)

low carb avocado bacon omelet

Calabacita with fresh corn off the cob added (this was so good, I ate it for dinner for 3 days!)

calabacita recipe

I also enjoyed plenty of peaches, berries, a Wendy's Queso bacon cheeseburger with no bun, and one donut. Pretty much everything else was vegetables, beef, chicken, eggs, and the occasional protein bar or shake. I also bought an Instant Pot this week and will be cooking some chicken breasts to add to salads. I plan to eat fish this week too, along with the veggies I'll pick up at the farmer's market.

Here's to another good... even better week!