Struggling to Lose Weight? It May Be Time to See Your Doctor
3 Medical Issues That May Require More Than Just Diet and Exercise.
“I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis? That’s great!”
This is not something you would expect to hear your client say with enthusiasm when you own a fitness and nutrition coaching business. When you’ve been doing everything in your power to lose weight, and nothing is changing, it may be a sign that you have a medical issue that nutrition and exercise won’t fix.
Seeking help from a Personal Trainer, Nutrition, or Health Coach can also help you recognize when to take it a step further. That’s what happened for my client, who I’ll call Tracy.
Tracy originally came to see me because she wanted to start exercising and had some physical limitations. She knew she wanted to work out, but didn’t know how to work around her “ouchies.” She also wanted to lose some weight, so we worked on her nutrition habits. Over the first six months, she worked hard. She showed up to every workout, gave it her all, made significant changes to her eating habits, and saw no results. She was complaining about feeling tired, even when she got plenty of sleep at night. When things didn’t change, I suggested she seek medical attention. She hadn’t been to see her doctor in a few years, so it had been a while since she had routine blood work done.
Like many women, Tracy was BUSY. She had teenaged kids, a full-time job, and a husband whose career took him away from home for weeks at a time. She ran a sports league and was extremely involved in youth leadership at her church.
After the first six months, every time I saw her, she was asked if she made an appointment with her doctor.
“No, not yet. Oh, I forgot. I keep running out of time. Next week will be a better time for me to call,” were some of her answers.
After another six months of asking every week if she made an appointment, she finally answered, “yes.”
Seeing her doctor was the best advice we could have given her. When she finally went in, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, her magnesium, and some of her hormone levels were off, and she had sleep apnea. Her numbers were so out of normal range that her doctor called immediately to refer her to a specialist.
While this may seem like bad news, it was great news. Tracy believed that her inability to lose weight and feel better was a personal failure. She thought she wasn’t working hard enough. She believed she couldn’t lose weight. She believed she was born this way. She believed she was too old to make a change. All of these beliefs crushed her and prevented her from reaching her goals. She believed it was normal to be exhausted all the time.
It is NOT normal to be exhausted every day.
It is NOT normal to work hard and have your body not respond to anything you’re doing.
It is NOT normal to gain 10, 20, 30 pounds in a short timeframe.
Tracy was thrilled to get a diagnosis because it meant there was a reason that the weight wasn’t changing. There was a reason she was so tired all the time. There was help available for her.
By working with professionals (me and my team), Tracy knew she had given it her best shot. She was stronger than I first met her, for sure, but she wasn’t changing. We also kept after her every week for almost six months to make sure she sought medical advice.
An underactive thyroid is just one of the medical issues that could be preventing you from losing weight. Here are a few others that you may want to speak with a medical professional about if you’ve been doing “everything right” and nothing is changing.
Low iron or anemia: This is pretty common among menstruating women. I have a friend whose iron was so low that her doctor came running after her as she left the office when she saw her numbers. She had felt tired for a long time (years) and had assumed it was because she was getting older (she was in her 40s), her kids had grown up and left home, and she was just kind of “meh” about life.
Vitamin D deficiency: This can masquerade as just about anything other than a Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin, and it’s involved in almost every biological process the human body carries out day-to-day. When we’re deficient (and it’s easy to be deficient), being tired all the time is one of the significant symptoms. A simple blood test will tell you if you’re within the normal range. Fixing this is generally cheap and easy, as Vitamin D supplements are one of the least expensive supplements you can buy. A little goes a long way, and you may find it doesn’t take you long to return to normal levels.
Vitamin B12 deficiency. Diagnosing a Vitamin B12 deficiency can be a bit tricky. You don’t just take some blood and measure the B12 in it. Instead, you measure homocysteine in your blood. Homocysteine levels are an indicator of B12 in the blood. The higher your homocysteine, the lower your B12 is. A B12 deficiency will also present as lethargy. If detected early, it’s also a cheap and easy fix…just start taking a Vitamin B12 supplement. If it goes untreated too long, you can end up with decreased motor skills and permanent, irreversible brain damage.
More serious conditions can also be contributing to your lack of weight loss success (cancer, heart disease, etc.). Be honest with yourself. If you’ve been doing “all of the right things,” and you’re not seeing any changes, get help. Sometimes we need a push in the right direction, but sometimes there’s something else going on. The only way to know for sure is to get yourself checked.
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