It occurred to me that new readers might not be familiar with my long, loving track record with the Whole 30. It's not a success...Read More
I Love My Body
A few weeks ago, I promised you a post that would get real about where I am with my body image right now. This is that post.
I’m in a state of confusion about what to do regarding my somewhat uncooperative body. Over the last two years, I’ve slowly gained weight — and during the last two months, it’s accelerated to the point that I’m getting a little nervous about my wardrobe. (A girl’s gotta be able to wear cute outfits!) I wanted to share all of this with you because (1) it’s not cool for me to keep complaining without offering more information, and (2) maybe some of you are having similar issues and it will help to know you’re not alone. I like to be able to give you answers, but right now, I only have questions.
I’m hoping that my appointment next Monday with my doctor will at least provide some direction, if not definitive answers. At this point, it seems like all of the advice I find contradicts the other well-reasoned advice I find…
– eat more calories / eat less calories
– track your food / just listen to your body
– low carb for weight loss / moderate carb for weight loss
– train harder / go easier
– try intermittent fasting / if you have any stress, do not try intermittent fasting
… and on and on like that.
So I’m turning to a professional to see if between blood work, the doctor’s clinical experience, and the paleo philosophy, we can cook up an n=1 experiment that makes sense because my self-experimentation is failing pretty miserably.
Before we jump into the fray, there are a few things you should know:
1. I am not being hard on myself.
In fact, I’m treating myself better now than I ever have before. I eat when I’m hungry (which, as a lifelong dieter, I didn’t always do.) I sleep when I’m tired (which, as a lifelong over-achiever, I didn’t always do). I workout with commitment but not abandonment of good sense (which, as a CrossFit admirer, I didn’t always do). Everything you’re about to read should be absorbed with this context: I love my body for all it can do, and I want it to be as strong, healthy, and sexy as possible.
2. I have a history.
For new readers, you might not know that this blog began in 2008 when I was new to CrossFit. I’d joined a CrossFit bootcamp to fight the good fight against the ravages of turning 40, and that was just one step in a continuum that included Weight Watchers, the Zone, Roller Derby, step aerobics, and running. I’ll skip all the interim details and give you the stats: I started my odyssey at 5’4″ and 192.5 pounds. When I reached my goal weight — just a few months before a thyroid nodule required the removal of my thyroid — I tipped the scales at 145 pounds of fury. I felt the best I’ve ever felt in my life: energetic, confident, fierce. Food wasn’t the enemy; working out was fun. I felt so strongly that I was finally becoming my true self. Then I had my thyroid removed, and my new-found, healthy body started to disappear. My self-experimentation began, and since my thyroidectomy, I’ve never felt as good again.
3. I want to lose weight.
I know that statement is considered un-PC in many (CrossFit, paleo) circles. I guess I’m supposed to say I want to “lean out,” or “improve my body comp,” or even the somewhat more accepted “look good naked.” I’m old school: I want to lose weight. That doesn’t mean I’m going to step on the scale — another behavior I’ve jettisoned in the interests of treating myself well — but I want my clothes to fit and look good. I worked hard to learn to love my body and to reach a healthy, fit weight, and I’m not ashamed that there is some vanity driving my goals. I suppose there’s a good argument to be made that if I’m healthy, the size on the tag inside my jeans shouldn’t matter. I agree; I don’t give a damn what the number is on the tag — but I want the jeans to fit. Right now, they’re stretching the bounds of “fit” and “girlfriend, go up a size.”
So here’s the deal:
In November, I embarked on The Healing Experiment to see if dialing down my high-intensity workouts, managing my stress, and adding more carbs to my diet would counteract the slow weight gain I’d been experiencing. There have been some very positive outcomes from my experiment:
1. I love yoga and meditation.
If you read my yoga and meditation posts in order from oldest to newest, you’ll see that I was a vehement skeptic. I went to my first yoga class figuratively kicking and screaming — now I can’t imagine my life without my crazy-groovy Kundalini classes or the Saturday morning laugh-fest that is Hatha Star. There is no doubt that my guided meditation recordings have helped me relax and focus while I’m doing them, and have taught me tools I can use in the moment when I’m about to spaz out. Breathing properly is just about the greatest thing ever.
2. Taking a break from high-intensity was a relief.
Once I’d gotten over the obstinance of not wanting to give up CrossFit, I had to admit to myself that I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Writing Well Fed while holding down a full-time job and doing all of the usual life stuff — training, cooking, socializing — wore me out. But as long as I was on the treadmill of life, I couldn’t admit it to myself. A wise friend told me that I shouldn’t return to high-intensity workouts until I could no longer tolerate not doing them. That time only arrived a few weeks ago — and it feels good to be moving hard and fast again, although only once or twice a week now, instead of four or five.
3. The 12-hour eating window and “no snack” policy are kickass.
My first few days of my new “no snacking” rule, I was pretty aggro. I even said to Dave, “I feel like someone put me on a diet.” But a very interesting, awesome thing happened after about three days of no snacks: my appetite decreased. BLAM! Just like that, I was no longer looking at the clock to see when I could eat my snack — and once I got used to eating dinner early like a penny-pincher enjoying an Early Bird Special, chowing down on dinner at least three hours before bedtime was no big deal either. These are two habits that I’m going to keep.
4. Gaining a little weight is not the end of the world.
I have a great life. I’m in love with my husband, and that man is not only easy on the eyes, he’s smart, funny, supportive, and talented. Plus, there’s my loving family and Smudge and all of you. We published a cookbook of which we’re immensely proud, and I left my full-time job to work in support of our business. I am all optimism and excitement about life right now. So no, being a few pounds over my personal ideal is hardly a tragedy. But it is a troubling annoyance. And frustrating as all get out. And I want to fix it.
Here’s my thing…
I can remember how good I felt a few years ago when I had my lightest, fittest body. I could knock out a 5k like a walk in the park. I bounced out of bed in the morning and went like gangbusters until bedtime, without a glitch. I had zero stress when it was time to get dressed because everything in my closet fit, and I liked the way I looked in all of it.
Last week before a special event, I tried on and discarded four dresses, on the brink of tears (that threatened to smear my carefully applied eye liner), before I settled on the one dress that made me feel the least unattractive. I don’t like what that experience does to my psyche.
When I say, “I want to lose weight.” all of the above is rolled into that statement. I want to grab outfits from my closet with abandon. I want to run around the lake without thinking about it too hard. [vanity alert] I want to see the lines of muscle in my shoulders and feel my jeans sit loosely on my hips. I want to feel like the best version of me — and I refuse to think that there’s anything wrong with those desires.
I love my body for all it can do, and I want to dress it up and show it off.
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AMEN Sister! Swap derby for road cycling and take out the thyroidectomy and I’m right there with you. Thank you for articulating these feelings so well. I can tell you you’re not alone. 🙂
Hi Melissa, I’m new to your blog and I intend to read it all when I get the chance. I really like what you’re doing and I have shared your blog with everyone I know. I wonder if you wouldn’t mind sharing your stats, including your age since it has a lot to do with how our female body reacts to diet and exercise. TIA and good luck, I’m rooting for you!
Welcome, Sheila! Glad you found me…
I’m 43. (44 on May 1)
165-ish (? I never get on a scale anymore.)
I peruse your blog often, i think its fantastic. I did not know until now, your age height and weight. I have a better respect for you because we are pretty much the same. I just registered a blog name and plan on getting it up in the next several weeks called “deadlifting the hill” a place for people in our age bracket to speak frankly about the struggles of weight lifting, crossfit along with eating habits…beyond 40. Thank you for posting this particular blog today. I can relate on every level! I hope i can get you to visit my blog once complete. Keep up the great work. I admire you very much!
Hells yes! I feel the same way. I work my ass off. Eat right and do good. I just got a 205lb deadlift, but my big girl jeans are now my skinny jeans. I work so hard at working hard. I want people to look at me and see what I have worked so hard for, for so long. Also I kinda feel like I’m invisible. Keep us updated!
Double Amen, Sister!! I am with you.
You are not alone! I relate to what you are saying and I know so many others do as well.
WOW Melissa! thank you thank you thank you for posting this! I have been going through something similar the last few months and it is so good to hear that I’m no alone or feel guilty about wanting to get back to the best version of me. This post helped more than you know!
Thank you for the warm welcome and the information. I’m about to be 53 and any information you can find or share to help my age group would be greatly appreciated too. 😉
I have a non-existent thyroid and have finally found a doctor who treats me well. That has helped a lot. This site (no affiliation) has been my godsend for all things thyroid:
I follow the primal plan and it wasn’t until my thydroid meds were increased that I started to lose that stubborn belly fat.
http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com literally saved my life. I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with potential thyroid problems (and if a traditional doc tells you that you are borderline or in the normal range, but you have symptoms, than you likely have a thyroid problem!)
I can’t recommend Janie and her site highly enough!
I’ve been paleo for a year now and have slowly gained at least 10 lbs. lots of muscle for sure but I’m with you on the jeans remark. Too tight. I’ve recently discovered a thyroid nodule too. Keep us posted on your findings. Thanks for your blog.
This is a great post, Melissa! It definitely sheds more light on your situation, and having read your blog for a while – this is what I extrapolated from your post on Monday, but you worded it so perfectly here. I wish you the best in finding answers.
Your blog and Whole9 have been such key parts to me switching to paleo last summer, something I’m so grateful for doing. I LOVE reading about your adventures, the way you share your life with us in such a witty way, and ALL of your amazing recipes. Your cookbook is appropriately dirtied-up in my kitchen, and I appreciate every stain on it. It’s only been four months, and it’s become my food bible of sorts. I not only love it for the recipes in it, but just as much I love it for the recipes you inspire me to create!
I know those little tidbits of info don’t relate to your current situation, but I’ve been meaning to share them with you for a while!
Sending you oodles of positivism for your appointment next week, a fair trade I’d say for all that I’ve gained from discovering your blog.
There must be something in the air. I’m struggling with this issue myself. I know I’m doing the right things — exercise, eating Paleo/Primal (with a few too many glasses of wine thrown in there) — but I’m just not happy with what I’m seeing in the mirror. At 43, I really want to get past this once and for all! Thank you for being so honest and awesome.
Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. And yes.
Thank you so much for your honesty. So nice to see someone putting it all out there. I love your attitude. In a world where people hedge their words online based on what is expected of them, it is fresh air indeed.
That’s really all I wanted to say. It’s a relief to read this stuff. Best of luck.
Love this post….I feel the same way except I am scale obsessed. I eat Paleo and crossfit 2xwkly..I fluctuate in a 5 pound range and it has been months. I try to focus on the positives like having more energy and hardly ever feeling hunger. Women definitely seem to struggle with this lifestyle more than the men:(
Your honesty is refreshing! I don’t think it’s wrong to want to have your best body, to want more than basic health. Loving your body is key in all of this, though– it is working SO HARD to do you right!
You posts are always so inspiring and real.
Having thyroid issues as well although I still have mine it doesn’t work worth a darn, I know the feeling of doing everything ‘right’ but not acheiving desired results all to well. It is disappointing and frustrating.
I have no answers for you, but I do empathize.
Thank you for posting and allowing all of us to use your advice to become the best version of ourselves.
I wish you well on your endeavor to find what works for you body, soul and mind you inspire me to do the same.
Melissa, very brave of you to go against the tides here. Not only are you having to address CW’s usual advice, but you’re having to address Paleo/Primal’s too! I, too, find it frustrating when people trying to be supportive say things like, “But you look great!”, “You don’t need to lose weight!”, and “It’s probably muscle!” without realizing that it’s not supportive at all, especially to someone who feels, deep down, that something just isn’t right. You know what is supportive? Just listening without speaking or a well-placed, “Oh honey.”
So to you I say, “Oh honey!” I wish you well on your journey. I’m also mildly jealous that you get to consult with Lane Sebring, because he is obviously one smart smarty-pants. I hope he provides you with the help you seek.
I also meant to introduce myself at PFX and thank you profusely for your carnitas recipe (which I made again a few days ago). But I am bad at interrupting people when they look busy. 🙂 I’ll try again if you’ll be in Boston in August.
Well said Melissa. I agree there is something wrong medically. The thyroid and andrenals and those organs that make us female have to be balanced, and when one of them is not, they all seem to go sideways and upside down and backwards wrecking havoc on your vibrant energy and physical body. I’ve been there.
Thank you. I’m in my 60’s, love your blog, love your food. Everyone notices my brighter eyes, skin and hair since eating Paleo/Primal. Love your honesty; I’ve given up jeans for trousers, am more relaxed and vibrant than I was at 40. My last wardrobe update was a new lipstick!
I feel you girl! I’ve been there so many times, putting on clothes that just don’t fit right anymore and feeling down and out about it. I love that you are putting yourself out there, and actually trying to find a solution. N=1 experiments are hard and take lots of patience. Good luck!!!
Thank you Melissa for your post. I am 5’5″ and around 175. I know how I’ve lost weight in the past and I also know it burned me out to the point of not working out at all and gaining it all back. I’m trying very hard to create a lifestyle based on movement and whole foods, yet the weight is not moving at all. I want to lose weight too. My muscle is there already. It’s just covered. I know I’m 20lbs from where I start feeling good and 35lbs from where I feel my best. It’s frustrating.
Girlfriend, I feel your suffering. I’m in the same boat with regard to weight. It’s a chore getting my jeans on in the morning. I’ve gained 10# since the first of the year and nothing seems to get it off. I’m going to be more mindful of snacking, though, I like what you say about that.
I hope Dr. Sebring can help. I might have consulted with him myself if I hadn’t hooked up with Chris Kresser first. I look forward to hearing about your progress.
Thanks for making me feel that I am not alone! I have had this same experience. After seeing another Paleo friendly dr here in Austin, I found out that even though tests indicated that I was on enough thyroid medication, I was not converting my t4 into t3. A change in meds has really helped me to finally lose some weight. I still have a way to go, and it seems to take a lot more for my body to let go of fat than other people. I have to do a few things that for other people might be ill advised.
Don’t give up until you find what works for you, and don’t worry if the answer is a little contrary to what other people advise.
By the way, we were in the same weight watchers class back in the day. I’m so grateful to be a strong paleo girl now, rather than a dieter.
Thank you for all you do, and for the motivation you give me every day. You are one awesome chick!!!
Thank you for sharing all of this. I know much of what you discuss is a struggle for all of us, especially dealing with all the contradictory advice out there from mostly reputable sources.
You always make me smile, thanks for that.
Wow! Reading this post is as if took the thoughts right out of me. Thank you for putting everything into words. Like you I have been struggling with a little extra weight in addition to some new RA pains. In fact, I was little discouraged to find I had gone a size up from last year at this time. I have been paleo for 1.5 years and find this to be a little disappointing. (I am about 90% compliant) Like you I am being gentle with myself and making sure I am providing a calm environment for myself. Still, it is hard.
Each day that my body is in an RA flare, I take time thank each part of my body for the wonderful work it does despite the pain. Really, our bodies are amazing! Today, I am doing the same with the extra roll of stomach fat that seems quite content to be a part of me.
Good luck with the new doctor and please keep us updated as this post is a motivator for me to keep searching and keep being kind to myself.
Yes to this! It’s hard to admit, as a strong woman, that you want to lose weight. Coincidentally, I also visited an integrative medicine and holistic doctor this week for the first time. I just don’t understand why I’m spending so much physical and mental energy trying to be healthy and I don’t see results (unlike past times in my life). I’ll be following you and looking forward to updates.
Melissa – you are great. I hope you know how many people benefit from being able to relate to your honest and thoughtful posts. I am hypothyroid with adrenal fatigue, and have had to tone done the cardio/weights/pilates workouts I was doing fiercly 4-5 times a week, as I just couldn’t recover from the fatigue and burnout I felt after. I’m working with a great integrative physician but am still trying to figure out what the correct dosage of the thyroid meds is. I hope your visit with Dr. Sebring gives you some new insight, I can’t wait to hear what he has to tell you. Hang in there, sister.
I know exactly what you are going through, it’s like a tug of war! A lot of people will tell you to have your thyroid tested but what they don’t tell you is to have your hormone levels checked. If there is any imbalance, even a slight imbalance, you can suffer from headaches, weight gain, feeling sluggish, acne, and so on. But you have to ask for this test. Unfortunately, it’s not something a doctor will offer simply b/c “it’s part of aging.” So go ahead and ask to have both your estrogen & testosterone levels checked.
Good luck and I know you’ll keep us posted. You truly are a healthy role model for our nation!
PS: As for the jeans, i know you don’t want to hear this but buy yourself 1 pair in the next size, 1 pair only…to get you through those days when everything else shrinks but not enough to make you commit to the next size up 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing!!!! I can relate to everything that you said. Nice to see that I’m not alone feeling this way. I had to have a radical hysterectomy about a year and a half ago and it has been a struggle dealing with all the changes with my body since being thrown into menopause. Like you, I just want to be the best version of my 42 year old self 🙂
I love your honesty. I love how in touch you are with your body. I love that you know what you want and why you want it.
Good luck with Dr. Sebring! I’m looking forward to reading whatever part of your journey you choose to share 😉
I love it when we share from our hearts and share with honesty because we immediately see that we are not alone (in fact, very much in community) and that by sharing we have encouraged ourselves and so many others. This is all a journey and we can learn so much by being upfront and vulnerable. 🙂 Thanks for being both of those things! Always makes me laugh when I read a blog from a “stranger” that I start to consider a friend. Hugs!
So well said! I say “ditto”! 🙂
I loved this post. So many people today act like it’s some crime to want to be thinner. As long as it is about being the best YOU and not about fitting into someone’s image of you there is nothing wrong with it. Life is a balancing act and with so many things (health problems, work, society) often working against our efforts and constant challenge. Just keep listening to yourself, give it time and cut yourself some slack when you lose it from time to time 🙂
Best post! It’s like a virtual hug. You are not alone.
Good luck, Mel. You have clearly explained the perplexing situation of many women. My bestest friend has a similar story. Reading what you wrote today rang so true. She keeps searching for answers as well. It should be easier than this. I wish good things for you, for her, and all the sisters out there struggling for answers.
Melissa, you are such an inspiration to me in the “learning to treat myself well” department. I still struggle with it but am getting better the more I practice 🙂 I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to “lose weight”. You have such a healthy vision of yourself and you acknowledge your successes. I think we can all relate to that feeling of wanting our clothes to fit well. As someone who just turned 50, I wanted to point out one thing you may not have thought about and that is that you may be in perimenopause, in which case it could be hormonal, too. Something to ask the doc about. Good luck to you and keep up the self love 🙂
Melissa–thank you for this post and all of your posts. You are such an inspiration to me and to so many others. Your recipes kick ass and your passion downright rocks. Your honesty is so refreshing and the fact that you and your message is 110% REAL is a feat to admire.
You deserve all of the happiness that your hard work can bring. Here’s to getting some answers and figuring it out. Know that your community is cheering you on.
Mel! Thanks for your honesty. You are a high profile way-paver and I appreciate you openly sharing your downs as well as your ups. Feelings are about perspective. Draw strength from the fact that you have a rock solid foundation of nutrition and fitness, and there is nothing your haven’t done to set yourself up for success. Also, take heart knowing that there are many who would love to be in your shoes right now, health/strength/weight/bodycomp wise. Its TRUE!! I.D. the lies you hear and flick’em away. phil.4:8
I am new to your blog and I’m so thankful I found it! The way you can articulate yourself is awesome, and I relate to you easily. And hopefully I can learn from your positive life lessons that you share! I also completely agree that it is perfectly good to want to fit nicely into your clothes; it is a part of our self-confidence.
YES. all this. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting something to show for all your hard work.
Girl, thank you for this post! I’m really excited to hear about your appointment, because I’m in a very similar situation – lighter than I used to be (a few months into Primal) but stuck about 15-20 pounds OVER where I need to be for my height…um, with leftover baby belly that doesn’t seem to budge no matter what advice I follow (I’m so there! More cals? Less? IF? No IF? Track food? Listen to body? GRRRRR!). Anyhow, looking forward to hearing more 🙂
Wow, thank you for the transparency Melissa! I hope for good results/direction from the doctor… it can be a journey but you’ve got a great support system it seems like.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! It’s so refreshing to find someone who can say “I want to lose weight” and NOT have it be all about self-loathing, or fitting some worldly ideal. I feel like although our circumstances are very different, you’ve articulated many of my thoughts on the subject. I sincerely wish you all the best in achieving your goals, and finding clarity.
It seems so unfair to me that you have to deal with this. You work hard, eat well, even gave up booze (which to me should make you a “leaned out” “body comp superstar” Saint). It seems to me that its the type of thing that a doc needs to tinker with and hopefully you will be able to get this thyroid issue sorted out. You deserve to reap the benefits of your efforts without some weird hormonal thing interfering.
I admire your honesty too. I hate it when people claim they don’t care about their weight and only munch on celery all day to enhance their performance. I call BS on that…
Thank you for sharing!
I’m right there with you. It’s tough to go through hard workouts, run your butt off, sweat like hell in yoga and only see and feel your clothes get tighter and tighter. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE to enjoy good food but when it comes to sticking to Whole 30 or paleo I stick to it.
Please keep us posted on what your Doc says. I would love to know what to do differently.
Melissa, my head was nodding on every line. I hit the same wall in the same place doing the same thing. I got so frustrated that I could drag a tractor tire but I could not loose the tire around my 42 year old waist. I verbalized this to my gym and was told…you aren’t 20 anymore. I quit. Everything. When I read this I felt vindicated. I started doing yoga (my life is nuts too just like everyone: 2 kids 4 and 2 yrs old, active duty military hubby who is deploying, work full time, travel for work yadda yadda) and will go back to CF when I miss it too much to stay away. Thank you for putting the words to the keyboard and the heart in the words. I know I’m not alone in my quest to be 40+, healthy and still able to leap buildings in a single bound with an S on my chest without spanks on. Please keep the candor and words flowing. You are speaking for many.
Thank you so much for this post! I appreciate your open and honest communication on this topic. This post hit me hard and inspired me to keep taking proper care of my body because I too LOVE my body!
You are an inspiring woman!
As is so often the case, this post really hit home with me. I don’t share your thyroid issue, but do share your frustrations in a body that feels uncooperative, even though I do appreciate it in so many ways and treat it well. I too want to lose some weight and get back down to that size you speak of when everything in my closet fit and I felt more comfortable overall in my skin. I get frustrated because when I was at that size I actually wasn’t eating a Paleo diet or lifting weights… I was doing the ole’ count calories, don’t eat too much fat, and my only exercise was about four hours of cardio per week. I’ve always been naturally strong, so I didn’t even look or feel skinny fat, just looked “fit.”
Now I’ve been eating “better” AKA Paleo and added weight lifting in place of some cardio workouts and have gotten the opposite results I was hoping for… my clothes have just gotten tighter and tigher, even when I’ve focused on eating low carb. Like you said, the contradictory advice is what gets to me… I feel like I could follow any diet or exercise guidelines if I just knew it was the right thing to do and, yes, would help me achieve my weight loss goal. All of the knowledge I’ve gathered from Whole 9, Robb Wolf, Nora G., you, and countless other paleo brains makes so much sense to me, but it’s hard to keep on that path when I’m not seeing results.
Anyway, all of this to really say that I’m sorry you’re going through this and I’m rooting for you!
Sounds like you have a high level of awareness. One of the ways awareness manifests itself is in a FEELING that something is so, or right, or true for you. Learning to refine the ability to sense yourself and to recognize your feelings/intuitions/recognitions about what’s true for you is a way to move through it faster. A modality that really helps with this, both in my own experience of becoming more self compassionate, and according to scientific research in how we relate to our own body image is feldenkrais. I don’t know where you are, but you could check out a new offering by Frank Wildman, at the Omega institute in NY. He has a book out, but it’s an experiential process and so a workshop is much more to the point! http://eomega.org/omega/workshops/101ab812d32984ed0be6c6197e3fef94/
And again, here is another reason why I feel so in tune with you and the things you write. I’m also 5’4″ and I just turned 44 last month. I totally get your struggle – I have the same one except that I have a fully functioning thyroid. I love what my body can do, but I always wish it looked better doing it. In fact, my tagline is that I’ve always been an athlete but now it’s time I looked like one. I get it. Really I do. I’ll be watching your progress like a hawk. I think that working with someone who is an expert (and paleo friendly) is a great idea and I hope you find what works for you.
Also, have you seen this post? Kind of timely, I think: http://ancestralizeme.com/2012/03/27/paleo-women-are-phat/
There’s nothing wrong with saying you want to lose weight. A wise person once told me to make sure I always spoke my truth and at times when I’m fumbling around in my head or trying to explain myself I always remember that. You’re brave for saying it and I admire your honesty. Here’s to getting your jeans back on and finding some answers xxx
Thanks for the post. I agree with the comments from fellow followers in admiration of your honesty. Yes, you love your body. But, it doesn’t mean you don’t want to lose weight.
I found my langauge shifted when I started to CrossFit. Conversations about “losing weight” and “fat day” don’t happen in the gym. But let’s be real – I hate seeing my stomach rolls when I’m on a rower.
I am a belieiver that the gratification for working hard should be looking amazing. You are working hard. Now it’s time you get your sexy back, Mel!
I loved ya before, but I love ya even more now! Your post practically brought me to tears because I can so relate!
When you are in the “expert” business, it’s not always easy to admit the cold hard truth, but you did.
Bravo sister! You are an inspiration and a true talent!
For the first time in years, I love my body. Actually, I don’t remember a time after high school that I’ve loved my body more. Mostly this is due, I think, to ditching low-fat and embracing butter.
But I want to lose weight.
I don’t have a missing thyroid, but I do have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and losing weight has been, how to put this delicately? Oh yes. A pain in the ass. The lowest I’ve been is 149-ish, and that was working out 4 days a week with a trainer, eating 800 calories a day, and hating my body.
Personally, I’d rather be 152 and loving my body, because those three pounds really didn’t do much, and I gained them back the moment I glanced in the direction of a steak.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with an eating window between noon-ish and nine-ish. I drink coffee for breakfast with a splash of cream, and I can hear the “MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY” screaming, but eff ’em. Common wisdom wants me to limit my calories AND eat three meals a day. I say: two meals a day, forget the breakfast, get the benefits of fasting and caloric restriction without feeling like I’m starving myself.
I could never have done this when I was a carbmonster, but nowadays not eating breakfast doesn’t give me headaches or cause me to Hulk out.
This is all a little stream-of-conscious-y, but I’m really interested to hear what works for you. Because I’m hoping it’ll work for me, too. And I’ll let you know what works for me. We’ve been having one or two birthday celebrations around here, so it’s been all-gluten-free-caramel-coconut-pie all the time, but I’m back on track. If I manage to tip past that magical point in the scale that I’ve been aching for, I’ll let you know.
Am I the only male who comes on here? First, thanks for your book, it kicks major ass! You’re simply fantastic, and you’ve got one lucky husband. As for all of this, it sucks a lot about the thyroid removal. I’m very sorry to hear. You’ve got some very qualified friends though in this paleo movement, and I know they’ll figure things out to get you moving in the right direction again. And for whatever it’s worth, you look fantastic, for any age/weight. Thanks for all the blogging and being real.
Wow, thanks so much for this post. Love the honesty, and it’s really encouraging to know that I’m not the only one having trouble losing weight despite pretty huge lifestyle changes. Congrats on having learned so much during your experiment!
Thank you (!!!) for this post. It’s as if you peeked into my soul and heard some of my frustrations. I, too, want to lose weight, and people at my gym look at me like I have 2 heads. I have tried similar strategies (WW, Paleo, counting calories, etc). I look forward to hearing more of your story. Thanks again!
Thank you so much for sharing. I too have dealt with thyroid issues for about 11 years now. I also have had issues with my hormones since last September. I can totally relate to your post today. My weight can fluctuate dramatically from day to day. I have been eating Paleo since Sept. When I made a commitment to my health. I am seeing improvement but I can be super hard on myself & my weight & size. I look forward to hearing what your doctor says. Hang in there! You are NOT alone 🙂
Thank you so much for such a candid post! Love the things you are loving about yourself, the fact that you admit vanity issues since I’m pretty sure we all have some of that and I hope you find the answers you’re seeking at the doc’s!
I know where you’re coming from.
I know exactly where you want to go.
I don’t know the way.
But I know none of us are alone.
Yes! This post hits at exactly what I’ve been struggling with for the past year. Switching from vegetarian to paleo has felt so so good in so many different ways … But I’ve gained weight! I’m trying to go with the flow and accept that my body knows what size it wants to be, but I wanna fit into my skinny jeans, dammit!
Ahhh this post really hits home for me. Only since I started CrossFit and Paleo have I been able to START the process of loving my body. Self-esteem and self-love will likely be a life-long struggle. But your triumph is heartwarming.
A big thanks (plus a hug/hearty handshake) to Mel and all y’all!!! 47, 250lbs, and struggling with the same damn 5 lbs for the last 2 months. I lost 50lbs last summer via Paleo and weight training. Loved it! then life got in my way and I gained 10 back. Now I cannot kick those 10 at all! I’ve got to find what works for me.
Your honesty is so appreciated. Thank you.
I’m so inspired (always, whatever the topic) by what you write!
I relaxed just a little too much and was rewarded with an extra 10 pounds. No Prob! I know how to lose it, ’cause I’ve done it before. Well, it wasn’t as easy as I thought.
I don’t have thyroid issues, as far as I know. But I am 64 and have never been athletic, prefering mental exercise to the physical. It is what it is, I am what I am.
So, to use a very old term (Atkins, anyone?) I’m back to the “Induction phase”. Strict. Pushing the reset button. Will it work? We’ll see.
We will each figure out what our own template for success is. I have to believe that, because the alternative is to just give up. Not my style, nor yours.
Hugs, handshakes and encouragement to you all.
This is an excellent post — I so relate! You look gorgeous, hang in there!
Melissa: I could almost be your (older) twin! I was almost in tears reading this post. I have had low thyroid for 15+ years and discovered a nodule 10 years ago. Turned out that during surgery, it was actually two cancerous tumors. Complete throidectomy, radiation, and 9 years later, and I am still trying to get my life back to “normal.” I have been Crossfitting for 3 years, Paleo for one year, lost 22 pounds in the past year, but still don’t like myself! Medical docs are no help. Oh and to add to my struggles, I am 3 years POST menopause at 45 (yes it was confirmed by blood tests. No I am not too young. No it is not “fabulous” that I no longer have periods. I would happily trade having them for the awful side effects I continue to experience). Thank God for Robb Wolf, Whole9, and people like you! I am now your newest fan and faithful reader! Please continue your journey and your blog! I am hopeful that one day I will progress to embrace my body and all it can now do (RX most wods, run 2 half-marathons, compete in the open)! Rock on Sister Thyroid!
Thank you. I love your honesty! Thank you for reminding me that this isn’t easy for anyone- everyone is working at it, every day. I’m anxious to hear about your appointment next week, and I hope it brings you some good news!
I’m in a similar situation. I’m 43, 5’11”, 178lbs which is about 20 lbs heavier than I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s. I was able to maintain that weight through diet and exercise despite thyroid issues(both hypo an hyper) until I turned 37ish. Then it was like a switch flipped and everything quit working. I experienced about a 40lb weight gain over the course of 18 months. I have managed to get off 20 of that but my body seems to refuse to let go of the remaining 20.
I started cross fitting about a year ago which led me to do a whole 30. I lost 12 lbs that way. But most of that came rushing back once I deviated slightly. It was so frustrating. I did a second whole 30 in January, did it even more “perfectly” but only lost 5 lbs. Once again the weight found me within a few days of slight deviations. I will not go that route again.
I feel like I have major diet/nutrition confusion. I don’t know which direction to go and I don’t know where to turn.I don’t know who to believe or who to listen to. Its exhausting and it really has become a huge source of stress in my life.
For the time being I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing even though I’m not where I want to be. At least I’m maintaining my weight for now. I just can’t face anymore exercise and diet changes right now. I cannot face more doctors visits, tests, medication changes. (I’ve been dealing with a very tricky thyroid since I was 16 years old) I’m going to give myself a mental break from all this for a while and then hopefully I will have the strength to look for answers again.
I wish you lots of luck in your quest for answers and I hope you find what works for you.
@Catherine C: I feel your pain! It took me 10 years to get my thyroid meds correct! Please don’t give up! I finally found an MD who actually listened to me! I am now on Armour Thyroid because of research I did and dosages my MD perfected. I agree that leaving your diet/nutrition challenges for the time being will benefit your stress level. Keep going sister! I am happy to friend you on facebook if you would like!
You know I love you, girl…and I love that you posted this! I saw Dr. Sebring yesterday and I am excited about the future now! I have been feeling pretty hopeless (as we have talked about), but seeing the doc yesterday just changed my perspective! He is delightful to be around and has so much experience. He was confident in the conclusion he came to about my issues, and that made me confident that he could help. I can’t wait to hear how your visit goes. Just allow A LOT of time…it takes a while:) He likes to chat with all his patients, so take a book to read. <3you! Here's to our future and grabbing whatever we want from our closets to wear!!
Hi Melissa! Have you read Stephan Guyenet’s series on Food Reward: A Dominant Factor in Obesity? This may be worth checking out. I had a baby last year and the only way I was able to get rid of the last 10 pounds was by simplifying and reducing the palatability of my foods (resulting in less food and calories). It also helped me to not think about food too much. Here’s Part 4 of this series which explains how to implement his theories:
There’s another great article that covers this subject on Richard Nickoly’s blog:
Oops! I posted the wrong link for the series. Here’s the correct one!
I’m overwhelmed and so touched by the comments from all of you. Thanks you very much for the support and for sharing your own experiences. It’s so gratifying for all of us to know we’re not alone when we’re staring down a tough problem. I’m very grateful and appreciate all of you more than you know.
Rest assured, I’ll respond to your comments individually, too — but I wanted to share my thanks now before signing off for the weekend.
Thank you. For real.
My sister, who reads your blog daily and gave me your cookbook for my recent birthday, sent me to read this post. We were at dinner and I was expressing my frustration at my thyroid. I’ve been fighting my thyroid since 2006 and feel like I could have written this post myself. I’ve recently lost 20 pounds and now I’ve just stalled… 15 pounds away from where I would like my “high” weight to be and 25 pounds away from my dream weight. The one thing I may be dealing with that you aren’t (yet) is menopause. But I’m there. I’m menopausal and I guess I always thought that once I was there and not really dealing with hormonal fluctuations anymore, this would be easier. But it’s not and I just know it’s a thyroid thing.
I love and appreciate the body I have now, for sure. But I do want to finish losing this weight.
Melissa, I too struggle with thyroid problems although I haven’t had my thyroid removed. I had normal stats in my blood work but was lacking in energy and unable to loose weight on Synthroid, I was consistently gaining instead. It was only when I ran into the site: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com that I figured out what the problem was. Apparently there are countless people struggling with the same issues. I asked my doctor to change me to Armour Thyroid, natural desiccated thyroid that contains all of the hormones, not just T4, a natural thyroid produces that I started to feel better. Once my dose was adjusted the weight fell off me and my energy levels are finally back where they should be.
Without reading all the comments, I know that I am just one more saying the same thing….Thank you. I am a 46 y/o woman who crossfits, and my throid is a might off, and I try to eat clean and….and I just want to lose a little more, and don’t know why the weight stays on. I usually think if I did everything just PERFECTLY instead of half-assedly I’d be golden.
Your blog makes me think more and feel good about where I am…wherever that is.
Hi Melissa, I really enjoy reading your posts and love your cookbook too, I use it weekly. I have experienced so many good changes since turning to Paleo nutrition four months ago but I have noticed I got bigger before I started to get smaller. I think it may be because I’m putting on muscle but not necessarily burning much fat. I think I’m finally in fat burning mode now and I feel I can attribute pushing away from the table. When I made the Paleo change I think I was just eating too much for my body, justifying it by thinking ” hey, it’s Paleo” Unfortunately, I do think that there is a limit to how much the body can burn before it stores excess. In my case I don’t think I had enough muscle on my body to burn all the fuel I was giving it, hence fat gain. I really am truly working on listening to my body and pushing away from the table when I feel I’ve had enough. I really appreciate all your help in our quest for living the healthiest lives possible, and I agree, I do feel that body image acceptance is included in that.
I look forward to seeing what you do next. There seems to be a lot of advice saying if your thyroid or adrenals are fried, intensity is bad. Only doing things that reduce stress work to heal. It’s hard to really take that seriously because when you want to look good so bad, you’re ready to do anything intensely to get what you want! You’ll do anything to your diet and exercise plan to get where you want. And then you’re left with only this – don’t force it, just relax. I’m at the same point you are. I actually have gotten stronger through more intense weight lifting, but I’m not getting smaller. I’m left thinking relax is the only thing I can do.
That doesn’t mean eating cheetoes and sitting on my ass all day. It means keep on taking care of yourself with diet, but make the regular exercise truly stress-relieving. So basketball, yoga and hiking could work. The sprints and the weight lifting? I don’t know. I’m part of a Best Your Stress Month thing on the MDA forums right now and all we’re focusing on is stress management this month ( … because nothing else is working). I think I might still weight train once a week just to maintain the strength I do have, but I’m not going to try to go beyond it.
Hey Mel! Great blog!
I am in the same boat as you. I’m 26,I am 5’4 ..weighed myself today and I am 164.6 lbs. I have put on some muscle since starting CF last october. Last August I was doing HIIT training and like you running 5k’s like walks in the park. I was at my lightest since having my second child at 147 lbs…and I had some definition in my belly showing. I put on a bikini for the first time since 2005! Now I have great muscle def with a thick layer of fat on my mid section and thighs. I dont mind the crossfit butt…its great. I try not to care as much but I want to be able to grab clothes, throw them on, and go. Right now, I have to try many outfits on to see if they even fit. : / It’s fustrating. I love my body…I just want that comfortable feeling back again. Thank you! Its good to see i am not alone.
Mel, I’m really glad that you are approaching your current goal of losing weight with the same balanced, no nonsense attitude you approach most things with! As you can tell by the profusion of comments, people can definitely relate.
May I please give you one leetle piece of advice? As you work on “leaning out” and “improving your body composition,” please pick up a few outfits or pieces of clothing that fit your body as it is RIGHT NOW and make you feel sexy and sleek. You are a hot and sexy lady and there’s no need to be getting down on yourself for not fitting into an old dress or old jeans… as you work towards your goal of slimming down, pick up a few things that make you feel good RIGHT NOW so you don’t lose that feeling. It will encourage and motivate you on your goal. (I am a member of Missus Smarty Pants, and I can’t tell you how many letters from members I’ve read that explain how much doing this helped them stay on track with losing weight and feel better about their bodies.) Hope you try it – you deserve it.
As someone (5’7″) who used to weigh 245 lbs (now 153 with arguably another 5-7lbs to lose) and who engaged in what she calls a “blood battle” to lose the weight, I am right there with you, girl. Yes, I LOVE having more energy, feeling well, and getting A’s on my health “report cards”. Those things are all of tremendous value, add immeasurably to quality of life, and anyone whose had a major health situation to deal with knows the impact of both good and bad health in one’s life.
But. But, when we eat clean and work our asses off, many of us also want to see the results, too, and be happy about how we fit in our clothes. For those who don’t give a flip about that, my kudos go to them. They are more spiritually advanced than I am. I, however, want to look good in my jeans after doing 5 years of squats and pretending that (most) cupcakes don’t exist.
I don’t have any special advice for you. Especially since you have a thyroid situation going on and also because you sound like you have your head on straight here, anyway. I hope it something that you can resolve whether by medical intervention or diet/lifestyle. I will say that even being Paleo/Primal and watching carbs plus exercising 5 days a week does not give me carte blanche to eat as much as I want. If I hit the coconut butter too hard, I pay for it on the scale. Sometimes it seems like if I zig-zag my calories and/or carbs, that helps. (There is a huge thread on the MDA forums about “carb re-feeds” if you want to check that out.) In the meantime, keep feelin’ the positive self regard, remind yourself what a friend you are to yourself, and know that you are gorgeous inside and out. Everyone here appreciates so much what you are doing.
Dear friends! Thank you for your wonderful insights and for sharing your experiences. I feel so supported and have definitely added some new ways of thinking about my situation to my arsenal.
To those of you who SMARTLY advised me to buy a few new things to wear, I did just that last week when we were in Minneapolis. Yes, I visited the Mall of America and walked out with leopard print skinny jeans, leopard print shorts, and black skinny jeans with black leather fringe down the side. VERY practical. I’m also regularly wearing my “size up” jeans — exactly like my favorite Levi’s, just one size up. A few years ago, I decided that it was mean to myself to keep clothes that were too big and clothes that were too small — both seem like judgments. I’ve moved the stuff that fits but is too tight to wear to a corner of my closet, and everything that fits comfortable is right in front of my eyes. Thanks for the reminder to be good to myself!
And to those of you who wisely cautioned to keep an eye on caloric intake, I’m doing that, too. Over the last year, I moved away from food logging because that seems to be a component of paleo. However, I do much better if I measure my fats and track my nutrients over the day because my eyes, my stomach, and my brain don’t always agree about how much I’ve eaten. I don’t mind food logging, and I’ve always preferred measuring, so for now, I’m keeping this habit as part of my “paleo lifestyle.” I’m sure paleo peeps didn’t weigh, measure, and log their food — but they didn’t live in our crazy times, either.
Thank you, again, for having my back. You really are all the best.
I am in the same boat…thyroid disease (thankfully still have mine) and it has completely rocked my life the last 2 years. I am slowly getting back to normal but I too suffered from weird weight gain (mine has even gone to places, I typically dont gain) and not being able to work it off no matter how clean I eat and how active I try to be (figured out over-excercising is about as bad as not exercising at all!)
I too have people tell me i look fine and should be happy, but we all know what our happy weight is, and i just want to get back to feeling like I have tons of energy and can do anything with ease…i dont recognize myself in the mirror and i hate that i have great wardrobe…that i cant bring myself to wear. its not silly to be upset about that and i too have broken down in dressing rooms…shopping used to be so much fun for me and i loved fashion…now i just feel sad when I see clothes that i’d love to wear but cant bring myself to try on
I’m working on my hormones as we speak (“dzuganlogic” people), plus continuing to eat paleo and staying active. thanks for a great read!
ps – sounds cheesy but read up on hormones : uzzi reiss (?) has a great hormone book as does suzanne somers (ageless…written years ago but surprisingly paleo!). I also second the “stop the thyroid madness” info…
also- jack kruse has written a ton on Cold Therapy – claiming even those without thyroids can benefit from it- basically says it makes it so not having a thyroid doesnt matter…worth looking into!
Wow…I could’ve written this post a few weeks ago. I was just diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, and after beginning treatment I’ve dropped several inches (don’t weigh myself) in 3 weeks. Long story short, my symptoms were unexplained weight gain and night sweats. Because I didn’t have any of the other numerous symptoms, the doctor tested my thyroid, which was fine. I insisted something was up, and after doing an ultrasound, they found out there were so many cysts on my ovaries they couldn’t count them.
What’s crazy is that one of the main ways this disease is treated is through diet…lean meat, veggies, little/no carbs, and healthy fats. Sound familiar? My doctor noted that my Paleo diet was preventing the disease from getting out of control, which in turn prolonged a diagnosis. I have gone back to being really strict with my diet (which I would say was about 80/20 at the time I discovered it), got put on a birth control pill specific to this condition, and started Metfronin, which is used to regulate insulin (failure to do so is a result of PCOS).
I didn’t realize how crappy I felt until I got this straight. If you don’t get the answers you’re looking for, an ultrasound might be worth the time!
Meghan, thanks for sharing your story and insight! Man! Our bodies are tricky business, no?!
Good luck to you, too. Hope you’re feeling better.
I also am dealing w/ thyroid issues. Just got back blood results thinking that my Cholesterol #’s would be better after 4 months of paleo, but they are higher. I’m not too stressed, especially since I feel better than ever, but I’m looking into the idea that low T3 levels are playing a role in the increase, but my Dr. is not cooperating. I’m also in the Austin area & wondering if you have any recommendations for physicians. Thanks!
I see Dr. Casuabon at Texas Diabetes & Endocrinology (http://www.texasdiabetes.com/). I’ve been seeing him for a few years and have generally thought he was pretty good — but lately, I’ve been frustrated because I keep telling him I’m gaining weight and my energy is wackytown, and he hasn’t really done anything to investigate that. He listens and he’s very nice, but in his opinion, I think, he sees me as “not sick” so we’re done experimenting. I’d like to be “super healthy” and that requires more than just managing my TSH.
So now I’m also seeing Dr. Sebring (http://www.sebringclinic.com). He’s not covered by health insurance so I’m paying for it myself. If it works, it will be totally worth it. I’m working on a post right now about what he’s investigating with me. Interesting stuff.
Good luck to you! Also, definitely check out http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com — it seems to really have helped a lot of people.
I am so in agreement w/ you about doing more than just managing the TSH! Looking forward to reading the post you’re working on. Thanks for the links. I’ll definitely check them out.
Wow. I’m a bit late to the game reading this but wow. This is where I am right now. Four years ago, I was light, I was active, I was healthy, I felt great. Three years ago, after a move from hippieville to Darkest Suburbia, I started gaining weight. In three years, I have gained 70+ pounds. No amount of activity or calorie restriction seems to help. I’ve gone through 3 doctors – they all do thyroid tests and then tell me, “Everything looks normal. Just add some cardio to your routine and eat a balanced diet. Diet – there is so much conflicting information out there, and I feel like I’ve tried almost everything. I’ve done vegetarian, vegan, South Beach, detox, Atkins, keto, you name it. I’m currently on the I Give Up diet. Reading this blog entry had me in tears – I’ve felt like a freak because I can’t kick this weight, and for some reason, this touched me tonight. My husband says he loves me no matter what size I am, but right now *I* don’t love myself very much. I’m tired of buying jeans that are a little bit bigger every few months, I’m tired of watching the numbers creep up and up on the scale. At this point, even losing 10 pounds would feel like a tremendous victory. At least for this moment I don’t feel so alone. Thank you.
Hi, Tina. I’m really glad you found me and that this post helped you. I’m sending you a virtual hug right now, and I guarantee you my readers are, too.
I don’t generally like to give advice, but I do have two suggestions for you:
1. Keep looking for a doctor that will work with you. A specialist like an endocrinologist or a naturopath might be a good first step because they often interpret blood test results differently — and have different ideas of “normal” — than general practitioners. If you don’t feel ‘right,’ then you deserve to find someone who’ll help you figure out what’s going on.
2. It’s true that diet advice is very contradictory — that’s why I like Paleo so much. It’s not about eating weird foods in special combination, or starvation, or deprivation. It’s all about eating real food in adequate quantities. I know diet burnout can be really tough, but if you want to try another food-related approach, I recommend the Whole30 (http://whole9life.com/2012/08/the-whole30-program/). It may or may not help you lose weight immediately. But what it will definitely do is help lift your mood and help you feel strong mentally — which will make it easier to tackle the other stuff. You might not be ready to take on the challenge of the Whole30 right now, but if you are, it will most likely really help. If you have any questions about it, feel free to post here or email me at the address above (below my photo).
3. Learning to love yourself and your body AS IT IS, while still wanting to improve/change it, is tricky business, but it can be done. I recommend to other blogs to help with that:
I hope this helps. Please keep me posted on how you’re doing!