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I’m a busy boy this month, but wanted to give you guys a little something.  Lizzie here has spent nearly two decades dieting and was very eager to share her experiences with the 180 community.  She sounds like a typical case – gained weight due to some law school stress on top of a teenage alcohol, nicotine, and junk food diet.  This she met with more stressful overexercising, undereating, and restricted dieting… One thing led to another and, voila!  Hypothyroidism and a cluster of health problems relating to it!  And this has led to the typical dieter’s predicament… She desperately needs real food, but her long chain of diet bloopers has caused her to gain weight eating well.  Some encouragement please? 

Guest post by Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jaeger

I am a 44-year old wife and mother of two boys and I am hoping one day soon to be a “recovered” diet-holic … still recovering !! Although I was never really fat, I dieted lamely off and on through HS and college, drinking and smoking and eating junky food for the most part. Not until law school in 1993 did I see a major increase in poundage, rising to 160 at 5’6″. Like most people, I decided the quickest way to get rid of this must be through exercise and so I did.

I began running, because that was easy, and soon I was running 2-3 miles a day during the week and 5-6 on weekends, maybe one day off. As if that weren’t bad enough, I added a super-low-fat vegan diet into the mix (think, Ornish, McDougall, Susan Powter) … now you start to cringe, or maybe eye-roll …. AND, the ubiquitous fat-free soymilk, of course! … Yep, dropped those pounds – about 40 or so… left some muscle mass along the way (I now know) and … lost some hormoes too, apparently, as my husband and I tried to start a family around 1998 …. funny, two years of tracking 38-46 day cycles did not seem strange to me then ! …. Two miscarriages and a bunch of progesterone later, I did have my beautiful first son.

But the joint pain and fatigue that had started during pregnancy never went away and I really felt awful and …could not drop the last 20 or so pounds … but I thought that if I could just run and get back on my now-vegetarian diet (decided that it was OK to eat cheese while I was pregnant!), I would be OK – but I could not run because of the joint pain. Off to the doc I went, hoping for a referral to an orthopedist. Sometimes, as they say here in Georgia, even a blind pig finds an acorn – I got lucky and got a great doctor who wanted to do blood work – well, ok, and then he referred me to a book about …you guessed it – hypothyroid disease!

Yes, I won the High TSH award that week – it was 82 :) …. so, on to the Synthroid and then later Armour and then, around 2002, I asked him what I could do to lose some more weight and he suggested …Atkins …. well, ok, for an ex-vegan that was pretty extreme so I found myself sitting at my desk at work eating bacon and hoping my coworkers did not see me !!! And lo and behold, I did lose some more weight. So I kept at the Atkins thing, kind of an “organic Atkins” if you will …. oh yeah, I had those Schwarzbein books too – I thought it made a lot of sense but, well, who could eat all those carbs ???????????

Eventually tried to have another baby – failed, even with drugs. Decided that if I could not be pregnant, I would be thin – errr, yeah, that makes sense (not) …And so I worked out some more, ate a lot of protein shakes and bars (eeewwwww!) and … got pregnant babahahahahaa! …

Umm… there is a reason that YOUNG people have babies …. elder folks like me are not really supposed to … it was a very rough pregnancy, full of high blood pressure, elevated liver enzymes, and a lot of carbs … lots …. and so, when my sweet second son was born after being induced 5 weeks early, and I had an extra 30 pounds to get rid of … you got it … drink lots of coffee and diet soda, eat protein bars and shakes … and work at a very high-stress job while husband is running another business …. I can tell you that cortisol is very real. And makes you skinny fat ….. but hey, I was losing weight .. but not enough !

And so, I felt I had gotten to the end of my Atkins rope (sorry this is so long but it actually gets more ridiculous) … and so I started doing Body for Life – ya know, egg whites and oatmeal and weight lifting and cardio – twice a day – and I kinda hung around that for …. several years ….. until it wasn’t really working so much for me anymore…. I had quit my high-stress lawyer job by then to try to reduce the stress in my life and be home with my kids – so, then I hooked up with this series of trainers who kindly (for a fee) gave me some very strict eating (1300- 1500 low-fat calories) and workout plans .. as if Body for Life was not bad enough ….

And then …. can you say crazy ….well, I had read Nourishing Traditions and Price’s book and a bunch of others, including Gary Taubes, and I got the raw milk and the grass-fed beef and all… and yeah, intellectually, I totally got it … and I tried it … and I kept freaking out at the instant weigh gain – so back to the low-fat / high-protein / low-calorie thing I would go, rationalizing that “real food is all very well and good for people who are not so SCREWED UP metabolically, but I am too far gone and I can’t do this!” …oh yeah, and last summer, I found Mark Sisson’s site (heheh) – instant weight GAIN – of course I panicked …. and just kinda milled around all this past fall and winter trying to decide how crazy I was going to let this all make me …. eating a lot of protein powder and egg whites and peanut butter (omega 6?????) … So, hypothyroid, burnt-out adrenals, elevated liver enzymes – yep !

It all sounds pretty crazy and stupid, for a woman with a law degree, and a certified personal trainer (DOH!) and a great family, who loves for me to cook ! So, this is my LONG and by-now rambling version of how I got here and hopefully it will help someone not make QUITE as many mistakes as I have – I think I have made them all and now I HAVE to do this. I just wanted to thank you for putting it in such a way that has made me realize that now. I can’t take a shortcut because there are no shortcuts. I have to do a 180 LOL!!!

Thanks Matt !!!

-Elizabeth Jaeger;
Fitness Outside the Box

Got More Diet Bloopers coming tomorrow (Monday at the latest)!