For years, I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m unable to lose weight and I finally think I have a lock on the situation, so I wanted to share it in case others are also struggling. It’s a complex situation, but not one that would indicate weight gain or even stability in weight. I am a large woman who has been overweight my whole life, though prior to becoming ill, I had little problem with losing weight with proper diet and exercise. However, since I’ve become seriously ill, the pounds have gone up and up and I have had little control over anything, no matter how hard I try, until now.
There are a number of things that make it difficult to manage my diet. I have dysautonomia, specifically POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). Until the last year, I’ve spent a few years bedbound or housebound at least part time. I have a number of vitamin and mineral deficiencies that indicate that I probably don’t digest food properly and I know this is TMI, but it certainly doesn’t look like much gets processed in the end result, either as most of the vegetables I eat are still clearly visible in my stool. I can no longer process most carbohydrates and can only have a small portion of the ones I’m still able to process (and these are fruits and vegetables, folks). I have diarrhea more often than not. I have a lot of food allergies and have been fighting inflammation in my GI tract for years. I don’t seem to have any thyroid issues when it’s tested, but people with EDS are infamous for having fluctuations in hormones that can easily be missed by one-off blood tests and as I review my TSH testing over the years, it graphs like an amusement ride. To make matters more interesting, I’ve been unable to consume more than 1,000 to 1,300 calories a day for at least two years due to delayed gastric emptying. I couldn’t over eat if I wanted to, let alone get the amount of calories recommended for my weight.
Despite all of these issues, I’ve been unable to lose weight at a rate of more than 1-2 pounds a month. I really began paying attention to things when I had my hysterectomy (I kept my ovaries, so this probably isn’t hormonal and again, testing agrees). That was in February 2015. I weighed 307 lbs. At a doctor’s appointment on October 20, 2017, I weighed 263. It took me 32 months to lose 44 lbs, for an average of 1.375 lbs per month. Even if I look at just the 12 months prior to October, I only lost 17 lbs in one year, an average of 1.42 lbs per month. During this time, I was no longer sedentary due to my condition. In fact, I was even exercising, using the fasciablaster, recumbent bike and doing a strengthening program along with using most of my protocol, but there were no significant changes in the amount of weight I lost.
However, from October 20 to November 9, I have lost 6 lbs. 6 pounds in under 3 weeks. Every time I go back to the scale, I can’t believe I’ve actually lost more. I have to keep pinching myself. With everything I’ve tried to improve my health, I’ve hoped and prayed that it would finally be the thing to change my weight loss situation, but it never makes the needle on the scale go down any faster. Always I’ve come away disappointed. That’s until I started taking a high quality organic multivitamin.
Of course I didn’t start taking a multi with weight loss in mind. In fact, it was really the last thing on my mind. After all, I’d been told that taking Vitamin D and Vitamin C would help me lose weight, but I’ve been taking them for years and they didn’t seem to be helping. My investigation into vitamin and mineral deficiencies in Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome actually began when I googled causes for the thickening of the cornea, a condition I’ve been dealing with for several years, that could result in the cracking of the cornea and loss of sight. What I found was that a vitamin A deficiency can cause the corneas to thicken.
I began researching about vitamin and mineral deficiencies and how prevalent they are in EDS and gastroparesis, which I strongly suspect I have, but haven’t gotten confirmed. I also realized how many symptoms I have that are related to vitamins that I’ve never been tested for deficiency in, while I already know I’m deficient in vitamin D, magnesium, iron and several B vitamins.
I thought I would probably have to go with methylated vitamins because I don’t digest anything well, but I decided to try a high quality OTC multivitamin first because methylated vitamins can be quite costly and there are only so many that you can get that way, anyway. Turns out I made a good decision. Within a week of taking the multi, the weight started pouring off, as if my body said “Finally! You’re feeding me! I can let go of all these fat stores!”
Other interesting things have begun to happen, too. I’m experiencing a lot less diarrhea. My solid BM’s are changing, too. I’ve had pencil thin stools for a couple of years now, but since I started on the vitamins, my solid BM’s are actually going back to being a normal size, color and consistency with a lot less undigested food. Now, I wonder if this could also be in part because of the PQQ I started taking approximately 2 months ago, since it fights C-Reactive protein (CRP), or is perhaps a combination of the two. I’ve also noticed that I’m no longer reacting badly to soy protein. I used to bloat and break out anytime I had soy, but I’ve had it on three different occasions over the past two weeks without any side effects. Be it the vitamins, the PQQ or a combination, something is definitely healing my gut and I look forward to seeing how this will change other allergies and intolerances.
Interestingly, on searching the web, the only thing I could really find on vitamin deficiencies preventing weight loss is that Vitamin D deficiency can, but again, that alone wasn’t enough for me. It wasn’t until I started taking the multivitamin that significant weight loss was achievable for me. Perhaps this article explains it. The article states that a study found that being deficient in a wide range of vitamins can actually cause weight gain. While it doesn’t state that deficiency can actually prevent weight loss, it seems a strong possibility and I would be interested in seeing what a study would prove. It also might explain why obesity is somewhat prevalent in people with EDS.
Still, it’s a lot more complex than just adding a multivitamin. With autonomic dysfunction, the body goes into flight or fight mode and this causes the body to store up fat, just in case food becomes scarce or eating isn’t an option. We can’t eat when we’re running, after all. It’s imperative to address any autonomic dysfunction you’re dealing with. I take ORS, midodrine and florinef to control my blood pressure and tachycardia and mirtazipine to help control my anxiety and depression, but the PQQ has also brought about a much greater sense of calm in me, so much so that I’m contemplating weaning myself off of the mirtazipine to see whether I need it anymore.
It’s also really hard for a body to drop weight when it’s inundated with inflammation, especially in the gut and I’m sure the PQQ’s work of fighting CRP has helped. Inflammation is the same as fluid retention and it will cause your weight to fluctuate. If you’re inflamed, it stands to reason that your body probably isn’t going to operate normally anyway. It’s too busy trying to put out that fire.
I’m a little alarmed at how quickly it’s suddenly coming off, but since I have over a hundred pounds to lose, I don’t suppose I have anything much to worry about for a while. More than likely, I’m losing at such a rapid pace because my diet is essentially ketogenic. I’m not able to consume enough carbohydrates for it to be any other way. It’s not a bad thing, but some schools of thought are that rapid weight loss isn’t sustainable and is hard on the body. However, since I eat mostly grass fed meats and an almost entirely unprocessed organic diet and am supplementing my vitamins and minerals, I’m probably in a lot less danger of being malnourished now than I was before despite my weight.
My hope is that my GI tract will continue to heal and I will be able to consume enough food to sustain a healthy weight once I get there. If not, I will have to enlist the aid of a dietician and consider measures such as supplemental nutrition shakes and TPN. I’m not sure I will know who I am as a thin person, but I will deal with that identity crisis if and when I manage to get there. I have already long since dealt with most of my food addiction issues; I wasn’t given much choice.
I will definitely continue to write on the subject and provide whatever knowledge I glean along the way. If you too are on a similar journey, I’d love to hear your experiences and what you know about the challenges of nutrition, weight and EDS/GP!