Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rapid Gains and Losses

If you've been reading my blog for long, you know I have a history of *very* rapid weight gains, and sometimes also rapid losses. Many years back, I gained 40 pounds in 3 months. Another time I gained 80 pounds in about 10 months. I've lost 10 pounds in 3 days, and 15 pounds in a month. But even in this past few years, when I have not been having nearly the binge behaviors of the past, my weight goes up and down ten pounds in a flash. The calories never add up. The whole 3500 calories = a pound does not compute if you simply add up all I eat during a gain or loss and figure up the pounds I *should* gain or lose. It always made me wonder about the other stuff going on in our bodies besides just metabolizing food. But for me, I have found an answer that makes sense.

We all know about water weight. People do retain water during certain times of the month or if they eat salty foods. But for me, eating sugar and carby foods causes an me to retain excessive amounts of water. My orthopedic doctor explained to me that with my severe arthritis, the pain I experience is often from inflammation. Inflammation is the body's response to injury or damage, whether it's in the joints or somewhere else. And you know what causes damage, inflammation, and swelling in my body? Sugar and refined carbs.

If I eat low carb and cut out the sugar, my arthritis pain is drastically less. As soon as I eat a cookie, my hands and knees begin to ache. My body apparently is super sensitive to sugar, etc, and reacts with inflammation. Maybe that also has something to do with my headaches. Widespread inflammation, or swelling, includes retaining a LOT of water in my case.

Now granted, I was also eating too many calories over the past 2 months, but I was not having binges daily, either. I certainly was not eating enough to gain 25 pounds in less than 7 weeks.

Yes, you read that right, I gained 25 pounds in less than 7 weeks. Crazy. I also have had a lot more joint pain and swelling. But guess what? Just one day cutting out the sugar and refined carbs, and four pounds is gone. My pain is cut in about half already, JUST from one day of lower carbs. The fluid is leaving along with the inflammation and I am starting to feel much better.

I've been eating a lot of eggs, low fat cheese, fat free Greek yogurt, veggies, raw almonds, and Medifast meals. So far so good.

A side note. I am a lot more aware than I used to be. And while there have been a lot of ups and downs on this journey, I don't regret any of them. I don't regret anything except the out of control binge behavior. THAT, I do not like. I regret that ice cream binge last month. But I do not regret making homemade macaroni and cheese, I do not regret the "off" times where I ate sandwiches and chips instead of fish and salad. My journey is not fast and is not a straight line but I LIKE my journey. I get discouraged at times when I think "I could have been at goal by now if I hadn't gone off plan," but honestly, "goal" is not really what I thought it was. It is not 165 or 145 or 130 pounds. It is not "no more weight to lose." "Goal" is what I am doing right now: learning, experiencing, taking the time I need to become healthier in the long haul. "Goal" is a rich life and self awareness. I have that. It is richer without the pain and extra weight, so I am working to minimize that, but the journey is very fulfilling to me, ups, downs, and all.


Marie said...

Lyn, I'm still confused about your previous post where you said drinking real sugar Coke is the only thing that takes your headache away? How does that fit in?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like looking into the Paleo style of eating would be incredibly beneficial to your health in multiple ways. For one, cutting out grains and sugar will reduce all of that inflammation in you body. Secondly, filling up on Paleo-style foods really helps deal with a lot of my binge eating tendencies. For me the binges come when I'm crashing from a sugar/carb high. With Paleo, there are no peaks and crashes....just a steady state of feeling good and strong.

Lyn said...


Well, what I *think* is going on is that wild blood sugar swings are the culprit. I think the headaches arrive when my blood sugar drops very low after being very high. Thus the morning headaches (no food all night). So it seems that the combination of sugar and caffeine is what makes the headache go away temporarily.

When I am going from a higher carb diet to a lower carb diet, I get a headache for about 3 days and then it leaves. They went away while I was on Medifast. Sooo, I think the headache solution is to keep my blood sugar relatively level or at least not let it spike too high and then drop/crash.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Lyn. Re: rapid weight gain not = to cals consumed. I hear ya, girlfriend. :}

I have gained 18 pounds in just under FOUR weeks. I was on plan at least half of the days. About a quarter of the days, I ate more cals than I should have, but 1800 cals at 180 pounds shouldln't have added up to much of a gain.

The other days, were bingey, carby, gluten/fat days. Ugly. But I kept track and I assure you, the food didn't equal 18 pounds.

It is not a mystery to me, however. It happens EVERY time I eat GLUTEN. Yep, gluten. Not the sugar, not the cals, not the fat--gluten. Now I'm not talking a little breading on a pork chop, but say some nice Italian bread for dinner, then half a dozen cookies...or so...later.

Anyway, if I eat gluten, I gain SIX POUNDS OVERNIGHT. Yep. The next morning--six pounds heavier. EVERY time.

It does not come off as easily as it comes on. I have a complication from gluten called gluten ascites. It adds fluid around my mid-section. And I get CHF. Yes, I know. You'd think that would be sufficient to keep me from eating gluten. You'd think.

At any rate, there may be a substance that is triggering that gain for you. It may be the sugar as you suspect...or the gluten. I'm just here to tell all of the naysayers that one can actually gain way more than the cals say. For some of us, it's not simple arithmatic. ANd its not just sodium induced water weight, either, that drops of in a day or two.

But we're hittin it now! I am convinced that we're both going to beat this thing as we aim for health.


Anonymous said...

Have you been tested for sleep apnea? (morning headaches is one of the symptoms...I also think you have mentioned heart palpitations too)

I totally understand the battle of food addiction...I struggle hourly too!!

I wish you well

BigFire said...

One thing I've always mentioned in my support meeting is that keeping a blog helps you keep yourself honest. God knows, mine have in some way keep me on track.

Theresa said...

I am happy that you are in less pain than you have been lately. I'm happy that you just keep blogging. Should we nickname you "doridieter" ? :)

Maybe that explains why I can't eat even a small amount of pasta without a monster gain? Hmm. How does one get tested for this kind of thing? thanks. :)

Lori said...

I've been really struggling to figure out what causes drastic weight gains with me, because I know the calories don't add up. Maybe this is it for me too. I'll watch it and see.

arlene said...

I have the same weight gain that makes no sense according to the "calories in-calories out" model. I read Gary Taubes "Why We get Fat...etc" book and I believe it holds the answers. I too have severe inflamation from eating carbs...diagnosed as Fibromyalgia. I cut out most carbs (down to 20 gms net carbs/day) last April. The wild fluctuations ceased, as did my cravings. I first heard of the carb link on a youtube video called Sugar: The Bitter Truth and the weight loss has been a pleasant side benefit with the decrease in pain being the real win!
I admire your honesty and determination a lot, and wish you all the best!

Shanita said...

Great post! Today is my first time finding your blog and I'm glad I did. It helped me to put a lot of things into perspective regarding my own journey. I guess I'll have to "take the good with the bad", learn from my mistakes and move on pressing toward the ultimate "goal".

Mandy @ The Fat Girl's Guide to Life said...

It's tough, especially as a goal oriented person, to really focus on the now. But your approach to focusing on the daily goals rather than the overall goal is a good one. Keep up the good work!

Princess Dieter said...

I agree that goal should be feeling good and being able to LIVE. I could stay at the weight I am now, though I am still overweight by nerly 40 pounds based on those met life charts. So what? I feel amazingly better and have ditched a couple meds. And that's what matters.

I believe you are definitely the inflammatory/retainer type. Anytime I see folks who can ditch 15 pounds in a week (and i have seen some), I assume they're big fluid retainers, cause they didn't undereat by 15 x 3500 calories. ; )

I'm an inflammatory type, too...so I do have to watch those inflammatory foods and have to include anti-inflammatory ones (ie, lots of veggies, healthy oils, vitamin rich fruit).

My finger joints hurt when I eat something I should avoid. They tell me. They hurt and swell. My airways tell me: they congest and spasm.

Your joints and vascular system tell you (ie headaches). And yes, moderating blood sugar spikes should help oodles, as well as eating in an anti-inflammatory manner.

Keep at it--as I know you will. The journey teaches us a lot! and print out that post where you talked about how crappy you feel and keep it posted where you can see it when the urge for ice cream and coke returns.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about what you said here. About not regretting the mac and cheese and about the goal not being a number but the learning - having a rich life and ...

You know when I say that to myself Lyn? I say it when I am heading back up the scale and I do not want to face it. Now I do not know if that is you. Maybe you are taking a breather and are reflecting. But taking a day where you eat a sandwich and chips or enjoy a bottle of wine and then get right back on your "journey" armed with the knowledge you gained is NOT the same as rationalizing cake and mac as not a binge but merely another day in the journey.

I know you might erase this which is fine and I understand because I might if I were you. But I will tell you this: I would give my right arm to have someone call me on my BS. I might be really really mad and be giving that person a very energetic middle finger, but later, if I read it and felt even the smallest bit of truth, I HOPE I would think about it and get back on track.

I say this in love and understanding. I have been there Lyn.

Diana said...

Hi Lyn - first my apology for my stupid comment I left on Monday's post. Of course there are worse problems than our weight loss, but for us, it's a pretty bug deal. Plus didn't mean you were "gluttonous". Poor choice of words. I seem to have some sort of brain-hand disconnect these days. :)

Glad to hear you got a good eating day under your belt. One good day leads to more good days. We can do this Lyn, together.

Jennifer said...

I can really relate to this post Lyn. I also have some form of arthritis they are still trying to identify. I am only 32 and have be suffereing on and off for a few years now. And I too recently noticed some similar differences in my body and how it reacts. I have put about 20 lbs on while training for a half marathon. I am trying to put the scale aside to accomplish this goal I have set for myself. But the truth is that I am training for a half marathon where carbs ARE necessary. I dont deserve these20 lbs (now 15)but it makes perfect sense that my body doesnt like the carbs. I too can gain weight quickly and it is so frustrating! I just wanted to chime into let youknow that I am going through something very similar. And after losing 65 lbs its quite annoying to put any weight back on. But we are both learning along this journey and figuring out what works and what doesnt. And for that we deserve credit.


Lyn said...


no, I understand what you're saying and actually think about that myself a lot. Maybe if I said that and was still eating cake and gaining... but, I am working at it, down four pounds ("on the other side" as I say) and still, I feel very much like every step in this journey is worth it. I love my life, I feel blessed even with the struggles and NEVER intend to give up working at better health... which, for me, means weight loss, too.

I do appreciate your comment and the others who "call me" because they care. I always reflect and do not just dismiss what someone says. Usually there is something I can learn from each of you! So thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, I'm not going to get too specific with what I'm about to say, but I think you'll understand.

You show an mpressive amount of grace in your response to commenters that are, uh-hmm, hard to love. I have often read and reread your responses to them just to learn from you. Your generous heart shows.

I am not naturally gracious, much to my dismay. I was raised by my father and tend to have the directness that men have when dealing with some things. (Well, that, and being an INTJ, I'm just socially retarded.)

Thank you for your example.


timothy said...

so been there sweetie, i too have arthritus and i "feel" it wqhen i binge. it's NOT worth it to cheat yet we still do it cause at that moment it is.............you'll get therte sweetie just remember your kids when you're tempted, is it worth it to shorten your time with them? obviously NOT! just keep on keepin on.

Anonymous said...

I think, reading the post and the comments, that there is a lot of confusion about the difference between fat loss and weight loss.

Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles as glycogen. Each gram of glycogen has about 2.7 grams of water bound to it.

So basically - eating lots of carbs can make you heavier but not fatter. This is why when people switch to a highprotein, low-carb diet they lose weight (basically water) BUT that doesn't mean they're losing fat. So eating more carbs in general means you will be heavier but not necessarily fatter.

The point is: don't trust the scale. AND if you are eating carbs you could just be heavier (not fatter) in general but that is not a reason to ditch them.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, hmmm...I am confused, since before you said that sugar was making your headaches go away, but now you are saying they are making you hurt everywhere else due to your arthritis? I'm no doctor, and I'm not you, but all these rapid gains and losses are horrible for your body. I think you should stick with a natural (NOT MEDIFAST) plan for a YEAR, and then see what happens. It takes our bodies months to adjust to something new that we are doing to it (a workout routine, a medication, etc.)

I wish you peace, because it seems like you desperately need it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lyn,

I absolutely loved this post. I completely 100% related to your honoring your own journey.

I ran screaming from the rooms of OA after having just one too many people judge my journey. Were they right to be worried for me? Of course. I was rapidly gaining as "I decided" (two most dangerous words in my vocabulary!) that I could handle sugar in limited quantities. 95 pounds later, two knee surgeries, and untold emotional trauma from depression, I now have absolutely no delusions or illusions about the damage of a high sugar/high carb way of life has on me. Sugar/carbs have exactly the same effect on my body as they do yours. I eat sugar = I am guaranteed to be in physical pain all day with a dash of depression on the side.

I was ready only when I was ready. No amount of judgment or concern on the part of anyone else was going to change one step. It's also possible though, that being as good of an addict as I am, that I just didn't want to hear it. I wanted to do what I wanted to do and wasn't going to hang around for anyone to confront me. But honestly, I was confronted. It didn't change one thing. Probably in reality made it worse.

Today I follow the MF plan. It works for me and I feel both physically and emotionally well for the first time in two years. I'm recovering from my second knee surgery, so I do hurt. But not in my heart or in my brain.

Bless you as you find your way.

Lyn said...

Anonymous (confused one)~

Yes, that is correct, sugar is an inflammatory and aggravates arthritis. It also can cause rapid blood sugar drops/crashes, which I suspect cause the headaches. A quick sugar fix like a Coke would immediately bring the blood sugar back up (and high) again. You can Google these issues if you'd like to learn more. You're right about the gains/losses not being good for me... working on that :) Thanks for the well wishes.

Anonymous (last one)~

I agree, and I am very glad you have found your way. I too know that my lifetime of eating has to be adjusted to be lower carb. I am wondering about the gluten sensitivity many have mentioned, too. I'll keep chipping away at it.

juan said...

It's amazing how many people don't realize how their excess weight affects their health. They always blame other stuff. I enjoyed reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of it has to do with not actually counting calories during these "off" times. I know with my history of bulimia/general disordered eating that when I take any sort of "break", I go completely insane. I still don't count calories on a regular basis, but with my history of eating, I'm sure I eat way more than I'd ever think. Little things add up biggg, you know that. Especially nuts and dairy, really packed In cals. I'm kind of rambling here, sorry, but my basic point us that what we might perceive to be not THAT much food could easily be 3X more than what we are thinking. I've gained lots of weight in the past , I know how heartbreaking it is. It takes fierce discipline and will to get back to normal, but after about 2 weeks, it gets easier. At least a little bit! :) hang in there.

Anonymous said...

*gained lots of weight in a short period of time.

Jes said...

Hi, Lyn

As I posted last week, Sugar is the gateway drug. I figured the Coke was helping by raising your blood sugar, which had gotten out of control.

Sugar is my addiction as well. Moderation on a daily basis is not something I can handle. Nothing is off limits forever, but some things are off limits on a day to day basis. Lower carb eating is the only way I can lose weight, full stop.

I think you are 100% on the right path.


Karen said...


You are back on track...way to go!! Getting started is always the hardest part. Those pounds are going to fly off and you will feel great!

Twix said...

I liked lower carb for the short bit I was on it. I went back to moderation for a bit while in search of more ideas of what to eat. Basically I want a wider variety and perhaps a bit more carbs to toss around than the 20 induction, say like 40ish. Dr. Bernstein has a nice book out. Don't hit this fatty with the skillet... I'd recommend adding in a little coconut oil. I'd heard it helps in the transition downward with the headaches. So I tried it and I didn't get the lc flu as bad as I thought. In the meantime I'm just experimenting with food. Can't say I recommend one diet over another. I do recommend Lyn's diet. A diet that's made just right for her. I like all that you wrote about goal. :)

Anonymous said...

I wonder about the low fat foods you eat. I enjoy full fat dairy and fatty meats but I ate a very low fat (often almost non fat) diet for years and years, and my weight went up, up, up, which limited my mobility and resulted in increased pain: my health suffered with high triglycerides, high blood glucose, high blood pressure, AND high cholesterol. Yep. On a very low fat diet. After I added fat back into my diet (mostly paleo style for a long time, now modified, and I eliminated most grains), I noticed I was very satisfied with much less food and my health risk factors were completely reversed. (Arthritis pain also went away, as did chronic back pain. I also lost over 130 lbs with no struggle to maintain a new weight that is my *happy* weight, just a little bit high by BMI standards but I don't give a BLEEPITY BLEEP). :) Maybe you could take another look at research about the "lipid hypothesis" and you may find helpful data to show that a satisfying amount of fat in your diet is not the health risk it has been made out to be. Otherwise, since there are only 3 categories to choose from: protein, fat, and carbs, you may continue to want more food and must select from the carb group (and it really does appear, based on your long-term self reports here, that excessive carbs--especially processed--are not your friend.) In any case, it's good to be listening carefully to the ways your body responds with different kinds of food. Best wishes!

beerab said...

*hugs* I am sorry you are going through a rough time and fluctuating again. I'm having a hard time dealing with the stress of hubby not having a job.

Marilyn said...

Just came across a book review of WHEAT BELLY (http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2011/08/30/book-review-wheat-belly/)
that spells out some of the differences between the wheat of our ancestors and what passes for "wheat" now - VERY interesting reading to those of us who appear to be gluten-sensitive! My favorite quote is:
Dr. Davis recounts an experiment he conducted on himself to compare the different impacts of ancient wheat and modern wheat on his blood sugar. He managed to find some einkorn wheat and made bread from it. Two slices of that bread raised his blood sugar from 86 mg/dl to 110. Not bad. Then he made bread from modern whole wheat – you know, the stuff the USDA says is the key to great health. Two slices raised his blood sugar from 84 mg/dl to 167. That’s diabetes territory. As Dr. Davis writes in another chapter after explaining the specific types of carbohydrates found in wheat:

Wheat products elevate blood sugar levels more than virtually any other carbohydrate, from beans to candy bars.
* * *
You're on the path to truly understanding and getting a handle on this obesity thing, Lyn! Thanks for your always-provocative blog!! XO - M

Anonymous said...


I disagree with your last post. Wheat products do not raise sugar levels more than any other product.

If you are eating the right kind of wheat products, they will have a low GI. A banana, for instance, raises your blood sugar level far, far more than low-gi bread or pasta made from durum wheat semolina. A piece of melon raises blook sugar levels even more than a banana OR than a slice of white bread even.

Karin said...

Lyn, I do hope you'll consider going the paleo/unprocessed route. I honestly believe with all my heart that is your answer. You will have headaches for a bit which can be attributed to "carb flu" once ridding your body of the processed crap (and i'm just going to say it, medifast IS processed). Just my opinion. I do hope you find what works.

Patricia said...


Marilyn based her statement on Dr. Davis's findings as set forth in his book Wheat Belly. He has been studying the effects of wheat on blood sugar for years and has also used a glucometer to measure the *actual effects* of wheat and other foods on his own blood sugar.

You wrote: "I disagree with your last post. Wheat products do not raise sugar levels more than any other product."

What evidence do you base your statements on? Or are you just parroting what is said in the media?

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia

I didn't mean to attack Marilyn - merely to say that I disagree. I think it is incorrect to lump all products made from wheat under the same label. I agree that white bread is NOT a good choice and that food made from white flour is also bad. But eating cracked wheat (in the correct portions) will not raise your sugar levels more than most foods. And some fruits and other things we wouldn't think raise our blood sugar level do in fact do so. For example, 1 Cup of Bulgar wheat has a GI of 48 and a GL of 11 (both low) whereas 1 banana has a GI of 58 and a GL of 12 (both higher and therefore more impact on blood glucose levels).

I have read many textbooks on nutrition (my husband is a sport scientist)and glycemic index and my findings are based on the scientific experiments and results from those textbooks/articles. There are many examples of glycemic tables out there and they come to the same conclusion for different foods on the value of the GI and GL (i.e. how much it affects your sugar levels).

Patricia said...


"I didn't mean to attack Marilyn - merely to say that I disagree."

I didn't think you were attacking Marilyn; I thought you were jumping to a conclusion without considering the research that led Dr. Davis to his findings.

"There are many examples of glycemic tables out there and they come to the same conclusion..."

The texts and articles *you have read and considered* come to the same conclusion, perhaps. Dr. Davis has come to a very different conclusion. What irks me is when people are comfortable to conclude they "disagree" with something they have not actually read. (If you have have read it, then my bad and I apologize. But that is not the impression I got from your comment.)

In any event, the point I really wanted to make (and kinda wish I had without going down this rabbit hole) is this:

The *only* way to know how any particular food effects *your* blood sugar (say Lyn's blood sugar), is to use a glucose meter and test yourself. Glycemic tables are certainly useful, but everyone's body reacts differently. Given what I consider to be Lyn's *extreme* carb sensitivity, she would do well to get a $12 glucose meter and test the living hell out of everything she eats to know *for sure* the impact any given food is having on *her* body.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I completely agree with that :)

Tony said...

water weight pretty much sucks. I have that issue too. Like, the masking of weight loss drives me absolutely crazy, even though I know in my head that it's just water. Cortisol usually has something to do with it.