Unexplained weight gain – doctor says diet/exercise, refuses to look for reasons for weight gain

Jaye writes:

My story isn’t nearly as extreme as a lot of those I see on your site, but it still bothers me.

I’m nineteen. I’m about 5’4 and a half (the half is important, haha), and I weigh 230 pounds. Four months ago, I weighed about 200 pounds. A year ago, when this story takes place, I weighed about 180. I’ve gained a lot of weight in the past five to seven years, since puberty, for no real reason, but a lot more in the past year to a year and a half (maybe it started around two years ago? I’m not really sure, but basically, in the past two years, I’ve gained over 50 pounds). My lifestyle has not changed significantly. I’m not the healthiest person around, but I don’t eat loads of junk food (I could eat more vegetables, but I doubt I’m alone in that!), and I move around plenty. I don’t eat meat. My biggest health vice is probably a diet dr. pepper addiction; that stuff is tasty!

I already have a fear of doctors, but this is ridiculous; if I’m gaining this much weight for no real reason, something’s wrong, right? So, I decided to visit the doctor. I don’t have a regular doctor; I just go to a practice where my mother’s doctor is, and take whoever is available. Anyway, this appointment took place about a year ago, and I said, I think something is wrong. I’m gaining lots of weight, and I don’t know why. All I got was a long talk about how fat I was, and how I needed to change my lifestyle….without even listening to my lifestyle. They also tested some things, I never saw the results in numbers, but basically, everything was pretty normal. I then spent three months exercising (nothing intense, but some exercise) for an hour (usually my routine is half an hour) every day and replacing one meal a day with a small salad (and I’ve never been a breakfast person, so breakfast was usually, like, an apple or something, still is). I gained a few pounds, nothing major, but I definitely didn’t lose weight, or even stay at the same weight. I went back, and told them what I’d done, what they’d told me to do….and they told me to try harder. I’ve never done fad diets, but I have gone through phases where I restrict my calorie intake, and I’ve never managed to stop gaining weight even on less than 1200 calories a day. The only time in my life I’ve ever lost weight was when I was bordering on anorexic for 3 or 4 months, like, eating no more than 800 calories a day. I don’t have an overeating problem. I exercise. But no doctor will even look into the reason that I keep gaining weight! I’m okay with being fat, and if I felt like it was healthy and stable, I’d be fine, but I feel like something is wrong, the way I keep gaining weight, and no one will listen to me.

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48 Comments

  1. lilacsigil

     /  August 27, 2010

    50 pounds in a year with no reason is a serious weight gain. I gained 120 pounds in 18 months with thyroid cancer which went undiagnosed for exactly the reasons you list here.

    You need to get your thyroid, adrenal glands and (if you have any other PCOS symptoms) ovaries checked. Ask to see the numbers – when my doctor eventually checked my thyroid she said it was “normal”. It would have been if I was 85, not 25, but her chart just listed “range of normal”.

    Many doctors are predisposed to think women (especially fat women) are lying, because they’re lazy, arrogant and don’t like to say “I don’t know, let’s investigate.” But not all doctors are like that – keep going until you find someone who will listen.

    Reply
  2. Eve

     /  August 27, 2010

    This is so frustrating; some doctors really just seem determined not to see us as individual human beings, don’t they? I’m no expert, but I want you to get the help you need, and I second everything lilacsigil said.

    My roommate also had a thyroid problem that went undiagnosed because she was in the “normal range.” Apparently they need to adjust those ranges!

    Reply
  3. Julia

     /  August 27, 2010

    It wouldn’t hurt to have your hormone levels checked…that can sometimes reveal PCOS, and in my case it showed a pituitary tumor.

    Reply
  4. Say this: “I’ve gained 50 pounds in a year, which would be a lot if I were pregnant, which I’m not. Adults who are not pregnant do not gain this much weight this quickly unless something is physically wrong. I’ve INCREASED exercise and DECREASED calories and I’m still gaining weight. I need a referral to an endocrinologist. TODAY.”

    Reply
    • adie

       /  September 29, 2010

      i agree, im on thyroid medication for hypothyroidism after having first child, diagnosed 8 months after birth and it has been 2 1/2 yrs now on it, gone form 50 micrograms and 10o micrograms from April this year, i exercise at least 4/5 days a week burning around 250/300 calories, eating only about 900 calories a day, healthy lots of protein and vegies, no milk and low carbs and still putting weight on.went from 70kg in May and slowly put 2kg in 2 weeks and lost 1kg but not happy as weight is not coming off no matter how hard i exercise and eat right.Dr says meds ok and test ok normal as of mid September, but not convinced.Is there a possible adrenal problem or should meds be increased…

      Reply
  5. Fantine

     /  August 27, 2010

    I wonder how many fat people, especially women, have struggled with this–telling a doctor “I know something is wrong” and having them say, “You just need to eat less and exercise more.” For me, it was always just assumed that I was eating too much and not moving enough. Other possibilities for my fatness (including the idea that it’s simply natural for some people to be fatter than others) were never even considered. Fat is bad, therefore I was bad, and whatever had to be done to change it, no matter how unhealthy, was something I should be doing.

    I will tell you right now that dieting, especially crash dieting, is a sure way to guarantee that you will gain weight. Read the first half of Linda Bacon’s book “Health at Every Size” for an explanation of why. You should do your best to pursue medical diagnosis (as others have noted, get your thyroid and ovaries checked!), but probably the healthiest thing you can do right now is to STOP dieting!

    Reply
    • Kimmie

       /  October 17, 2011

      I love that book! I work with eating disorder patients and I wish that book were required reading for health professionals.

      Reply
  6. Layla

     /  August 27, 2010

    I second Fantine’s message. I highly doubt that dieting can be attributed to ALL your weight gain (I know it often fracks up people’s systems, but that badly?) but I’m sure it’s not helping whatever else is going on with your body. It sounds like something else is already screwing with your system, you don’t need calorie restrictions adding to the mix!

    Also, I’m just curious if you started any birth control before or during when this weight gain was going on? I ask only because I’ve probably gained about 30 lbs in the past two years but part of it was because I’d been sick and I was gaining back weight I’d lost from that, and part of it was weight gain from starting Depo (which I had to go off of thanks to other issues with it). Again, I don’t think that would be the root of all your issues, but it’s possible it’s a contributing factor.

    Oh and Fantine, even if you haven’t had weight gain, doctors still don’t seem to want to listen to fat (or in betweenie) women. When I was sick for 3 months and never got a diagnosis, doctors kept telling me to “take it easy” and “eat bland foods”. As if I could eat anything else! When I told them I was losing weight fast, one doctor actually looked at my chart like he wanted to roll his eyes. Yes, I was still in the class of “obese” but I’d dropped 15 lbs in about two weeks! It was the first time in my life where I was really freaked out by how baggy my clothes were.

    Reply
  7. A

     /  August 27, 2010

    I had the same kind of thing happen to me. I was about 100 pounds overweight when I started retaining lots of water.. with my ankles so swollen I couldn’t see the bone. I went to my doctor, and he prescribed a diruretic. It helped a little, but not completely. He took blood to do test, but his diagnosis was “you’re just a swelly person”. When I told him that I drink lots of water, and hardly any soda, he had the nerve to tell me that I needed to drink more diet coke. WTF? It wasn’t until I lost my weight (on Weight Watchers!) and changed doctors, I found the real reason for my water retention and swollen ankles. Years of being overweight for so long messed up the veins in my legs, and they couldn’t hold the fluid that well. I still control it with a diuretic and simple exercise like walking.

    Reply
  8. LT

     /  August 27, 2010

    I have had this exact same thing happen to me. I went from 140 to 230lb over several years – and during the time I was in intensive training for competitive boxing. One weight gain was 30lbs in 1.5 months. It was insulting regarding the “calories in / calories out” comments. I finally had to fire my doctor and find another that would listen and find an endocrinologist. I’m still not having any luck and the weight keeps going up.

    Please keep pushing for answers. I still am.

    Reply
  9. KellyK

     /  August 27, 2010

    I agree with pretty much all the other advice folks have given: get your thyroid and ovaries checked if you haven’t already, stop dieting, point out that you’re eating less, exercising more, and still gaining weight.

    I would also ask for copies of all your labs and look at the numbers yourself. Sometimes “normal” means “maybe normal, maybe not, depending on the range you use” or “slightly beyond normal” or any number of things. It’s good to have the info yourself and double-check it.

    Reply
  10. Kate

     /  August 27, 2010

    I’m going to also concur with everything the other commentors have said. And I’m going to say a lot of it again.

    First, stop dieting, fad dieting will most likely lead to you even greater weight gain.

    Do you know any other people above “normal” weight? Ask them about their doctor. Are you close with your mom, could she ask some of her friends/co-workers? Because you really need to find a doctor who isn’t going to just see your fat. If that fails, call around before making an appointment, talk to the nurse and ask some leading questions about the doctor.

    My only other medical thought is whether you are getting enough sleep because a sleep disorder can affect your weight pretty significantly.

    Finally, I’m sorry you are going through this, you have done nothing wrong, the medical system is designed for doctors to see the most number of patients quickly and they have cookie cutter answers because they don’t have time/won’t take the time to really treat people as individuals.

    Reply
  11. Maura

     /  August 27, 2010

    Wow, I *totally* feel for you, and thank you for sharing this story.

    About 10 years ago, I too had an extraordinary weight gain – nearly 80 pounds over about 30 months. (From 180-190 to 260-270.) During that time, the only major difference in my “lifestyle” was that I started taking antidepressants, specifically Prozac to start, but later also Wellbutrin.

    When I first raised the concern with my doctors (both an internist and a psychiatrist) that the Prozac may have caused some weight gain – after one year, maybe 30-40 pounds, I was totally dismissed. Prozac makes everyone LOSE weight, they assured me. Go on a diet, exercise more, they prescribed.

    The thing is, I did have a lousy diet then (rarely ate breakfast, rarely ate lunch, and then would stress-snack in the afternoon at work, and then eat a giant bowl of pasta or something for dinner) and was not a regular exerciser, though my job as a teacher kept me on my feet and moving all day, so I wasn’t sedentary. But the fact that my depression lifted a little meant that I was exercising and moving far more than before the medication, and my diet hadn’t changed. But still this extreme weight increase!

    I took myself off the medication after two and a half years, both because the depression had subsided somewhat but mostly because I was fairly certain that the weight was a side effect.

    10 years later, the weight is still on. But since then, I discovered two things: one, that I have sleep apnea, and have had it for a long time. Sleep apnea can not only cause weight gain, it can cause depression. Hm. But that possibility was never raised, even though one of my primary complaints at the time was total physical exhaustion. Second, most doctors now acknowledge that SSRI’s do cause weight gain, sometimes dramatic weight gain. It pisses me off that I was dismissed that way.

    I suspect there may be more going on – maybe something thyroid related, maybe something diet-related (not amount of intake, but perhaps an issue with gluten or sugar sensitivity). I may be pre-diabetic or even diabetic by now. Unfortunately, I”m unemployed and have no insurance. And it’s amazing how differently the world, especially potential employers, treats a person with my current body shape versus my pre-SSRI body shape. Then, most people would have considered me overweight or chubby at 180 and 5’7″ (and I certainly called myself “fat” as a pejorative) but I was still for the most part respected and valued, especially professionally. But at this size, the difference in how I am treated and the assumptions about my intelligence and work ethic are marked. And detrimental. And inaccurate.

    Had those doctors not been entirely dismissive of my concerns, had they not assumed that I was lying when I said that my diet had not changed and my physical activity had only increased yet I was gaining dramatic amounts of weight, I might not be where I am now. I’m hoping and rooting for a different (better) outcome for you. I wish I had had access to the fat-acceptance (and empowerment!) blogosphere then!

    Good luck and thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  12. cindy

     /  August 27, 2010

    I agree with everyone above, and would add, are you on any medications? I gained weight without increasing what I was eating while on certain meds. That’s the only other thing I can think of, other than what was already suggested.

    Reply
  13. Tal

     /  August 28, 2010

    The exact same thing happened to me at your age. 140 lbs at 19, 240 just five years later (and another ~60 lbs in the last 15 years–a much more reasonable rate of gain.)

    The combination of stress and as-yet-undiagnosed PCOS was the culprit for me. I never have been able to take off any of the weight I gained, but I did manage to get the gaining slowed down once I started getting the PCOS treated and got away from the stressful lifestyle I was leading (full-time classes plus two part-time jobs and a horrid breakup of a long-term relationship.)

    Reply
  14. Lynn

     /  August 28, 2010

    Yep. What all these other folks have said. Fire that doctor. You may want to go to an endocrinologist if you can. It is possible that the endo may give you the same line of BS that the first doctor gave you. Sadly, sometimes to get what you need, you must do some handling of the docs. For instance, when you go to the endo, you can say something like this.

    “I am here to see you because my regular doctor was concerned about the weight that I have gained. Because of my activity level and diet, I should be losing, but am gaining. He thinks that there is probably a metabolic issue going on – I guess that PCOS and hypothyroidism run in my family. He thinks that I need to have my hormone and thyroid antibody levels checked and he wanted me to get checked out by an expert who is trained in finding this stuff.”

    What this does is set the doctor up to help you. Another medical professional has already ruled out that you might be a fat crazy lady who hides cookie dough in your purse to snack on on the bus, so the endo can skip all that and get right to the actual helping. You have also flattered the endo a bit which does not hurt.

    It is ESSENTIAL that you get copies of your lab tests when they take them. They should mail them to you or fax them or you can pick them up. The new “normal” for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is anything over 3 is high. (It used to be 10 and then 5.) Some docs are still using the old ranges of “normal” and some docs will look at “borderline” too high and not act on it. My TSH was “only” 3.56 at its highest and i was full blown hypothyroid.

    Do not give up. You are young and the younger that you figure out what is up, the better. There is something going on with you. Doctors too often look at excess fat as a cause when it is very often a symptom of something else.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  15. Lynn

     /  August 28, 2010

    PS: Even though 3 is considered normal, it is interesting to note that people with no thyroid issues have TSH levels under 1. Some docs are saying that the range needs to be dropped further from 3 down to 2, esp. if there are symptoms consistent with hypothyroidism present. I know that I finally started to feel healthy when the meds pushed my TSH down to .98. I have a friend that feels better at .5.

    Reply
  16. I’ve resolved to avoid giving anyone advice if I can help it. But I simply would not advise anyone to stop a calorie counting diet cold, unless it was palpably compromising your health.

    I’d do it as slowly as possible, frankly, allowing your body to adjust to a return to normal in it’s own time.

    Reply
  17. What Lynn said. Get your thyroid levels re-checked, and don’t just accept “normal” but get your ACTUAL TEST RESULTS and the range the lab used for defining “normal.”

    It’s very common for women with PCOS to gain a lot of weight, usually in their late teens to early 20s but sometimes not till late 20s.

    Hypthyroidism can cause a large wt gain as well, even in “subclinical” ranges. It’s hard to find a dr to take that seriously but keep looking till you find one who will.

    As Lynn said, the range for “normal” has changed but not all docs use the new range. So a lot of folks are being told they are “normal” (euthyroid) when they actually are not.

    I had a large gain in my late teens/early 20s; about 100 lbs over around 3 years or so. Despite exercise, despite dieting, despite dr visits to figure it out. The endocrinologist I saw told me I was looking for an excuse for being fat.

    In my late 20s, I finally found a doc who took the thyroid issues seriously, saw my “borderline” levels, and tried a trial of meds with me. Completely turned around how I felt. I didn’t lose much weight but I stopped gaining and felt SOOO much better.

    Now I know that I am exquisitely sensitive to changes in TSH and I start gaining and having major symptoms if my TSH goes above 2. It’s best around 1 or so. It’s not easy to get a dr who is on board with such tight control of it, but it really helps when you have one.

    Read Mary Sholom’s website on thyroid issues, get your thyroid tested again if you fit the symptoms listed there, and GET YOUR EXACT RESULTS. Try a trial of meds if you are symptomatic and your results are above 2. See if that helps. If it doesn’t you can always stop and look for something else. But a carefully monitored trial of meds is a reasonable thing to try and might make a lot of difference.

    Reply
  18. Lyn

     /  August 29, 2010

    Yep. It turned out that I had both PCOS and hypothyroidism – both of which were missed for over ten years despite visits to three different endos and who knows how many visits to primary care doctors.

    Jaye, right NOW, your story may not be as “extreme” as some that you may read, but you are young. Add a decade of some sort of unresolved metabolic issue and the extreme may well come. The younger you figure out what is up, the better. With hypo and PCOS, people see the weight, but, honestly, it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how either of these conditions can impact a person’s life.

    Mary Shomon’s site is a great one and is the reason that I FINALLY was able to get help and reclaim my life. It is focused primarily on thyroid issues, but there is a lot of info for other metabolic disorders as well. There is a list of doctors that have helped readers and that is where I finally found the one that caught my text book case of hypothyroidism.

    Do not give up. You know your body better than any doctor ever will. If you feel that something is wrong, then pursue it. If a doctor treats you disrespectfully or dismisses your concerns with the old standby “you need to eat less and exercise more” then fire that doctor. Remember, a doctor really does work not just with you, but for you. There are a lot of choices and you do not have to put up with someone who is a barrier to finding out what is up with your body.

    After I was finally diagnosed, I went back to my primary care doc for an ear infection. I told her that she needed to update my chart with the new medications that I was taking since I had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. She curled up her lip and said “You do NOT have a thyroid problem! Your test results were perfectly in the normal range. Who did you get to give you thyroid meds?”

    I said “well the endo that I’m seeing at the cleveland clinic says that I do. I have lost about 70 lbs since the last time that I saw you WITHOUT making any change in my diet or exercise. My mind is clear. I’m not taking the 16 advil a day that you had me on for my horrible joint pain and…oh…yeah…I’m not going bald any more.”

    And then, I fired her.

    Reply
  19. La

     /  August 30, 2010

    I feel for you – I really, really do. I have had the same experience for many years. And, even the endocronologist that I go to said….lose weight, eat very little carbs, exercise, blah blah blah. Same speech! I was put on hypothyroid meds, told that I probably do have PCOS (no testing) and that I am probably now a Type 2 diabetic (was insulin resistent for 25+ years). They started trying meds on me (metformin and byetta). I had very adverse side affects to those meds. I don’t want to take them!

    It’s almost like I dismiss the doctors without even trying to do what they say anymore. I’ve lost weight and regained it so many times. The last time I lost 152 pounds, kept it off for 5 years, ruined both of my knees with over-exercising, had double knee replacements and gained all the weight back – and I’m only 47 years old. I weigh over 350 pounds now and my body just keeps piling it on.

    I’m going to try a new endocronologist and see if I can get anywhere. I truly feel like I am big enough and ill enough to shorten my life span. I don’t want to die this young – I have a husband and great son. I want to be here and be healthy. The discouragment, at times, can be overwhelming! Of course, compounding the problem, the discouragement sometimes causes you to totally give up trying to eat healthy and you gain more weight. It’s a pretty viscious predicament!

    So, you keep on looking for the doctor that will listen. I hate going to the doctor, avoid it like the plague – but, if we can find a caring and compassionate doctor, we may be able to get somewhere. Apparently, they are so rare that we will have to wade through a ton of bullshit before we get there!

    Good luck to you and to all of you who are struggling with this issue.

    Reply
  20. La

     /  August 30, 2010

    By the way, let me encourage everyone….if you have a bad experience with a doctor, PLEASE go on the websites that rate the doctors and leave your comments. Especially for those of us who are overweight, this information could save us so much time. For myself, if I am going to a new doctor, I take the time to research them and at least see if there are any comments about them that would let me know if they have any compassion whatsoever – or if there are any other issues that I need to be aware of before I put myself in their care. The internet is very powerful and we can all benefit from networking!

    Reply
  21. Lyn

     /  September 2, 2010

    Another factor that they are just now starting to explore: untreated ADHD is a factor is some cases of severe obesity. (Jaye – I am not suggesting that this is the case for you- it may or may not be a factor, just throwing it out as part of the discussion.)

    I was diagnosed this year with Adult ADHD – the inattentive kind. I noticed that when I began the medication, my extreme carb cravings went away. I was able to eat one bowl of cold cereal or ice cream and stop there. Before that, if I ate the first one, it was very hard not to have a 2nd or 3rd. This made me wonder if there was a connection between adhd and obesity and so i started to do some research.

    I found some interesting new studies. The percentage of people worldwide who are thought to have adhd is about 4%. Studies are finding that when adults who are very overweight are evaluated for undiagnosed ADHD, the percentage that tests positive for it is coming in at over 27%. When these folks were placed a weight loss program such as weight watchers, but divided into two groups – one which was medicated for the ADHD and one that wasn’t, the group that was medicated lost fat and the group that was not gained.

    They knew going in that the medication decreased appetite, but the cravings are not appetite – they are, they believe, related more to brain chemistry than the hunger response.

    The ADHD brain has a different need for dopamine than a “normal” brain. They believe that the ADHD brain is starving for dopamine and one way it has of self medicating is to eat – esp carbs.

    Interestingly, they also find correlations between reckless spending, risky driving and risky sex. These are all things that, again, pump up the dopamine levels in the brain. I’m finding it really fascinating learning about this. I always thought of ADHD as hyper little boys bouncing in their seats. To think that I have had this for the past 43 years is mind boggling since I am more of the absent minded professor type.

    Reply
  22. Jay

     /  September 9, 2010

    Pretty much the same thing happened for me. After I graduated college I went from 155-195 in about 6 months to a year. Oddly it never even occured at the time to go to a doctor.

    Reply
  23. Laura

     /  September 18, 2010

    I hate to hear about everyone issues. I have been dealing with the same stuff for 2 years now myself. I went from 184 to 262. I’m still struggling with being diagnosed. I’m curious how many of you are on oral birth control. I really didn’t start noticing weight gain till i started taking bc. Wondering if that might also be a factor. It’s nice to know i’m not alone. I’ve been so upset/depressed about it lately. So sick of dr saying exercise and diet. My coworkers join in on the fun too. “You don’t work out enough” Even thou. they know i’m a vegan. And i work 50+ plus hours a week. I still manage 3 hours a week of exercise. They act as thou. We are just lazy and useless.

    Reply
  24. Jackie

     /  September 22, 2010

    I saw an episode of Mystery Diagnosis on Discovery Health, I think it was the one where she either had Cushing’s Syndrome, or PCOS. You may want to look into seeing if it could be one of those disorders.

    Reply
  25. Taylor

     /  October 8, 2010

    I am totally in the same boat as you guys. Over the past 5 years I have put on almost 100 pounds. My diet hasn’t changed too much….in fact its gotten much better, and I exercise daily but still I am gaining weight. People keep telling me it must be how much i eat so then i made a food diary. During that time, i found out I have Fibromyalgia. I was very skeptical of this at first because I think this diagnosis can be a medical dumping ground for when doctors don’t really know whats wrong with you. But it turns out that I probably do have it. Still, a lot of doctors were telling me that there isnt a correlation between weight gain and fibro. Turns out thats wasy wrong and most fibro patients gain weight significantly for a lot of reasons. So i showed my rheumotologist my food diary today and she looked at it for 5 seconds and said she knew why i was gaining weight; because I eat fast food and because i ‘don’t eat breakfast’. Well heres the thing….ya I eat fast food but i make good choices about what i eat there and its not that i don’t eat breakfast, it’s that I wake up so late (due to the sleep issues fibro is calling) that its really more lunch than breakfast. I had another doctor (who wasnt too small herself) tell me that I jsut had a slow metabolism and needed to stop sneaking food. Then another tell me that my weight was making me have all my symptoms (which how weight can cause blackouts is still a mystery to me). I am having a hard time staying positive cuz I am only 23 and am 237lbs. Aside from the host of symptoms fibro has given me, the last thing i need is a doctor telling me that its my fault im fat. Please keep looking because its up to us to make our own lives better, goodness knows the doctors wont do it until we push them to.

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  26. I’ve gained weight steadily my whole life and figured it would even out and become stable around or just after puberty. It didn’t and I’m still slowly gaining weight. I was around 270 my senior year of high school, now, 3 years later, I’m 340 or so. I don’t know why I’m always slowly going up, but I’m terrified to tell my doctor for fear she’ll just put me on some diet or weight loss pill.

    Reply
  27. Eileen

     /  December 16, 2010

    I have had almost all the issues in these posts and I found Dr. Hotze in Houston Texas, I live in Colorado and went see him! http://www.drhotze.com. CHANGED MY LIFE!

    Reply
  28. Kit Kat

     /  December 17, 2010

    I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I can tell you’re obviously not alone! I’m having the same problem, and I’m currently waiting for the results of an ultrasound on my ovaries. I’m 27, and I have always been an active person, up until a few years ago after my second pregnancy. In junior high and high school, I was in basketball, track, and swimming. Earlier this year, I started working out at least 3 times a week, 30 minutes a day, cardio-aerobic exercise. So I’m being active again, and doing the best I can to eat healthy. However, now my weight is going up. I weighed only 180 pounds after my second pregnancy (with twins), and in June of this year, I was up to 230. After all this working out and eating right I’ve been doing all year, I’m now weighing around 260 pounds!!! Sometimes I feel like my doctor doesn’t listen to me either. You know the saying, something about how no one will take me seriously if you’re under 21? Well, I feel like no one will take me seriously about my health and weight!!! Do people think I’m fat because I’m lazy and sit around on my A** all day, eating junk food? That’s not me!!!

    Reply
  29. conitchewa

     /  December 17, 2010

    seems i am not alone. i just got back from my Doctors office today in tears…again…after being told the usual, eat less calories, no carbs and exercise more! I am so sick of hearing that.

    I AM hypothyroid…but i know there is something else going on. it took me a long time to finally get medicated for my thyroid, even with a family history they kept on telling me i was borderline. at age 28 i suddenly went from a size 1 to 14 in 6months. i was going to the doc in tears and he would say eat less, exercise more. it was so upsetting.

    at age 32 i changed docs and i finally got medicated. so i take eltroxin 200 and cytomel 25 everyday. this has gotten rid of some of my symptoms. about 6yrs ago i dropped 60lbs for no reason at all and now it has all slowly come back. its maddening…i can feel more weight piling on again…i cannot fit into anything. i just have to look at food and i gain weight it seems. i refuse to buy new clothes. i already have clothes from size 1 to 14 i am not buying more. i just want some help.

    last year they did an ultrasound because i was complaining of pain in my ovaries and i was told i have fibroid tumours on my uterous. but doc says i am getting older they will go away…today he says i am menopausal get used to it. he has no tests to prove this, he is going on the fact i have complained that i am having hot flashes where i almost pass out, trouble sleeping and my periods are sporadic. now i am missing more in a row …3months off one month on kinda thing…i am 45…i suppose its possible but i have had the same symptoms since i was 30 and they are just getting worse. i do not have any children and it looks like now i wont be having any for sure… i am so sad. i just got married in july and my husband who is a bit younger than me, 41, has no children. so when i brought this all up to my doctor and started to cry and he says to me,are you depresssed? i said no! i am disappointed that i am not getting any help and that i have to go home and tell my husband he better get used to it just being the two of us. i know something is wrong with me. he reiterates, less calories no carbs more exercise, its all you need…

    I already eat properly. no processed food, no junk food, no caffeine, no dairy….i eat breakfast every day…bowl of alpen with water…plus a healthy lunch and dinner. my doc just doesnt get it. i do not drink soda or juice ever just gallons of water. we have had this argument before. once he insulted me by showing me a canada food guide. i looked at it and i was angry…i told him i eat better than this…this is not my problem! and i walked out.

    in desperation i went and saw a naturopath earlier this year. cost me about 2000. but i found out i have a thyroid problem, which i already knew and she said i have glucose issues. the saliva test we did over 24hrs showed that. i showed him those test results and he did send me to the lab to run his own. he says the bloodwork says i am perfectly fine.

    meanwhile, i have dizzy spells, intermittent blurry vision, foot pain, muscle cramping, sudden onset eczema on the palms of my hands, i am itchy all over and tired and hungry all the time..plus i am craving sugar. doc says i am under too much stress…the only stress i feel i have is the fact i cant get any help.

    more than anything i do not like being overweight. i am treated differently. and not in a good way. i am the exact same person…but i am not treated the same. i feel like a little person trapped in this body. i have been a tiny girl my whole life and always received a fair bit of attention. when you are overweight you are invisible. i thought the discrimination was in my head until i dropped alot of weight and it was like some miracle happened…suddenly i was treated like gold again. thats pretty sad. i have made a point of having alot more compassion for larger people now as a result.

    anyways i just needed to vent. i am going to start a food diary for my doc. maybe he will see i am not kidding about my diet. more exercise will not kill me i just dont have the time.

    good health and happy holidays to you all.

    Reply
    • Krissy

       /  April 19, 2011

      Just out of curiosity, has your dr tested you for vit d levels in your blood? I had a problem last year with mild weight gain, but my main reason for seeing my dr was due to all of my other seemingly random symptoms. I was having horrible pms, irregular periods, memory lapses, poor memory recall, and I was exhausted all of the time. Even when I would sleep all night, I would feel exhausted and nap during the day on my days off. I was emotional, and had terrible cramps in my calves,no matter how much I would stretch them-felt like a vice grip was clamping down on them. My last straw was when I wore my shoes on the wrong feet all day and didn’t notice until I went to take them off, wondering why my feet hurt so badly (can laugh about that one now :)). So my dr who is wonderful and very thorough did a complete work up. At first she suspected thyroid, or early onset menopause(I am only 38) but when the blood work came back the only thing that was significant was my vit d levels were dangerously low. I never would have suspected that as I live in the hot south. She put me on a megadose (20,000 iu weekly) for 3 months, retested, and when back to normal has me now on a daily 2000 dose. Within a couple weeks I felt completely back to normal, and was sleeping well, and back to my old self. Apparently the symptoms mimck alot of other diseases and conditions. We have vit d receptors on about 14 different organs, so it plays a vital role in our overall health. Hope this helps

      Reply
  30. Kerri-Ann

     /  January 17, 2011

    HI Ladies –

    I have had all of the frustrations you all have had and then some.

    Always tested negative for Hypo but had all of the same symptoms. I used to be a skinny mini, athlete, all around healthy person and then I had my two kids! I eat well, work out a lot and have the occasional treat.

    I went to a new doctor and discussed what was going on and for how long it was going on and he had my Ferritin(sp)levels checked out. I tested wayyyy below the normal range and I ended up going on a Ferritin Sulphate supplement. My whole life has changed. More energy, no more weight gain (just maintaining current weight), low grade depression is gone, my hair is full again,sex drive is up, concentration is back. I feel so much better and my hypo symptoms are gone.

    I highly recommend you all ask your doctors for a Ferritin check. Its a simple blood test that can change your lives.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  31. Sarah Nowakowski

     /  January 19, 2011

    Their might be something wrong with your thyroid, you should get that checked out and possibly go on synthroid medicine. Look it up. Good luck!

    Reply
  32. Kary Rosen

     /  February 8, 2011

    Most specialists agree that the “normal” thyroid range has to be changed- so be sure to get your exact number, and then get retested by a specialist. Additionally, be sure to mention ANY other symptoms- even if they seem completely unrelated to weight gain. Are you tired? Does your hand hurt? Any digestion issues? Unexplained pain? Vision problems? Is your face mooning or retaining extra fluid? Are you starting to develop extra fat on your back? It could be an autoimmune disorder, or Cushing Syndrom

    Reply
  33. Mariah

     /  May 16, 2011

    Nuclear tests done in 50′s and 60′s spewed Iodine 131 and other toxins over large parts of the USA. I131 collects in the thyroid, and is known to cause cancer and other thyroid/endocrine issues. Those who were infants at the time (like me) are as much as 10 x more likely to have thyroid issues/cancer than if they were adults at the time. The radiation was in the milk, grains, produce.

    A map of the US with county by county exposures is available at many sites….National Cancer Institute, CDC, National Geographic, etc. There is also a book (which I have not had a chance to actually look at) that lists exposure to fallout county by county.

    All of this is documented on CDC, National Cancer Institute, World Health Org—not just the commercial sites. I believe many of us may have endocrine damage that is not being detected because of the pituitary origins. All I have read indicates treating with T-4 alone will not do the trick.

    I believe many of us are being overlooked by the medical community as many are not even familiar with this! Senate hearings back in the late 90′s discussed routine thyroid screenings. Untreated hypothyroidism puts one at risk of other health problems. I feel like I have no more hours in a day to devote to exercise, no way to eat less, and that I am (barely) holding things together with supplements. Menopause now has the doctor blaming that, or “normal aging process”. I know that I feel like someone has injected aloe gel under my skin—just gross. I want to nip this in the bud rather than wait until I am 100lb overweight and then try to deal with it……but I’m not “bad enough” yet and not being taken seriously even though I have watched 3 older sisters go the same direction…..2 of whom have died from female cancers.

    TSH in low acceptable range and fT4 in lower acceptable range could still be Central Hypothyroidism—numbers look OK because it is a pituitary issue.

    Good luck to all, and lets educate our medical community as to why there may be a reason to all of our frustration that really isn’t just us not having the sense to eat right and exercise!

    Reply
  34. jadepony

     /  August 28, 2011

    I agree with everything said here. I gained almost 100 lbs in just over a year, constantly going to the dr. about one leg swelling joint pain and just misery in general. I told him over and over I didn’t eat enough to be as big as I was, and my ‘doctor’ literally looked me in the eye and said ‘well you did’t get that way from eating lettuce and drinking water’. I just quit going to the doctor at all and several months later ended up in the hospital after I accidentally overdosed on Lasix trying to get the swelling down. Now I have a doctor that immediately found my thyroid/diabetes/high blood pressure..etc..but the weight isn’t going down. Now he says exercise and diet-your numbers are right now. But my joints are so bad now I can’t exercise much except for swimming, and swimming time is almost over here. Now I kinda feel stuck again…

    Reply
  35. dawnm92

     /  September 8, 2011

    Reading through these stories, I see a lot of my own experiences here. I ballooned from 135 to 180 within about a year when I hit puberty. At the time I was actively involved in multiple sports and eating relatively little. I’m 36 years old and I grew up in the country. My family didn’t have the money to eat out much or buy convenience foods. We grew our own garden and basically only bought staples and meat at the grocery store. So I did NOT get fat on fast food or any restaurant food, which is what is commonly believed. After getting to the 180s (at 12 years old when I hit full puberty), my body stayed there with little fluctuation for quite a long time. I dieted and exercised to try to lose but I could never lose more than 5 or 10 pounds and then I would gain it right back if I even smelled food. My body very much wanted to be in the 180s. At 5’4″, I was clearly not skinny. I did tend to be muscular so overall I was more fit than some people at 180 pounds. When I was 32, I decided I should quit smoking – for my health. When I quit, I did not replace cigarettes with food. I chewed a lot of sugarless gum for about two or three weeks until I had gotten over the oral fixation part of it, then I even stopped that. Even so, my weight immediately started ballooning up. When I saw that I’d gained like 8 pounds in one week, I immediately went online and joined a website where you could log your foods and count calories and track all of your nutrients and I went out and bought an exercise bike and started riding it for hours several nights a week. In a month of eating 1500 “healthy” calories a day of salads, healthy veggies, lean meats, etc (my maintenance level should have been around 2400-2500 calories) and riding the exercise bike several hours a week, I GAINED another 25 pounds. In the first two months after quitting smoking, I gained about 40 pounds, going from around 180 to 220 – all the while I was fighting it and losing. Then I seemed to level out at around 220 and no amount of effort would get me to lose more than 2-4 pounds, then I would gain it right back – as if my body knew I’d lost it and insisted that my weight go right back up to 220. Last winter, while following a strict vegetarian diet and being strict about my diet over the holidays and everything, I gained 15 more pounds between November 20th and February 15th. Since then, I’ve been dieting and exercising like a fiend. Most weeks, I’ve been logging 7-9 hours of exercise and still see no results. I’ve lost 2-5 pounds, then gain it right back while doing the SAME exercise and eating the SAME food/calorie level. I use an online food/exercise diary and track every single thing that I eat, even if I squirt a 1/2 teaspoon of mustard on something (about 5 calories).

    I have learned to avoid the doctors because they ALL just look down on me. They tell me my only problem is I’m fat and dismiss me as lying when I tell them what I eat and how I exercise. They completely ignore me. Meanwhile, my TSH was tested (they refuse to test T4 or anything else besides just TSH) and as of last November, my TSH was 4. According to their lab, that is “normal” but according to AACE (endocrinologists), above 3 is abnormal. Also, I’ve read on multiple web sources that if your TSH is above 2, it will be virtually impossible to lose weight. My TSH a year ago was TWICE that. But who can find a doctor who will listen????

    I am 5’4″, 36 years old, and currently weigh 230-235 pounds depending on the day! I am a professional woman with three college degrees and working on my fourth, but I work in a male-dominated field which is hard enough let alone if you are FAT! I am treated like I’m useless and stupid and lazy – just because of my weight. I watch all of my coworkers downing their Big Macs and pizza and soda every day at lunch while I eat the salad or cottage cheese that I brought in. Personally, aside from the daily disrespect, I worry about the future of my career and my ability to get jobs and continue supporting myself. I KNOW what the job market is like so I worry that if/when I ever need to interview for jobs again, I am basically screwed. It doesn’t matter how many degrees or years of experience you have if they look at you and see a fat woman, their opinion of you is pretty much set before you even open your mouth to speak. 235 is about a hundred pounds overweight for my height and there’s just no hiding an extra hundred pounds, but I also worry about how much WORSE it is going to get while the doctors ignore me and refuse to do anything about it. When I hit my 40s and my hormones start shifting around, will I put on another 60-70 pounds and weigh 300? Will I even make it to 40 before the next big gain hits?

    I feel for everyone on this site and I can understand much of what you are going through. With so many of us out there, you would think that EVENTUALLY someone would start to LISTEN!

    Reply
  36. Marie

     /  December 8, 2011

    I am a 62 yo woman, I have been thin almost my entire adult life. My normal weight was under 130 lbs. I have had a very stressful life — dealing with my husband’s illnesses & eventual death almost 4 yrs. ago. In 2005 I suffered from severe depression & dropped to 118 lbs. I started taking Wellbutrin in 2006 because I felt my depression returning. I felt much better but gained weight & reached about 175 by the time my husband died. I lost 30 lbs. during the next 8 mo. by avoiding ice cream & candy bars. I admit I have had a few “binges” but since early 2009, I have been continually gaining weight. I am now 210 & I feel like I am in someone else’s body & I hate it. I exercise 3 times a week for about 30 to 45 min. (treadmill, walking). I am used to eating just about anything I want without gaining more than a few pounds. I don’t live in the same area that I used to so I can’t see my former doctor. My new doctor just tells me that all my blood work is normal & that I should try Weight Watchers. I sometimes think she doesn’t believe that I have always been a thin person. I have worried that I might have ovarian cancer or some type of thyroid problem (altho I have taken medication for it for many years).
    I have anxiety issues & have been taking Lexapro for several yrs. with no weight issues. A friend suggested I see a endocrinologist. If I had only gained 10 lbs. or so, I wouldn’t be so concerned. But this is ridiculous. HELP!

    Reply
  37. Dee

     /  January 22, 2012

    Hey ladies like you I am struggling to get help. In February 2008, I weighed 107kgs, by August that year I was down to 76kgs without increasing exercise or changing my diet. I ended up in hospital due to an infected sebaceous cyst and on my discharge form they wrote “deficient in magnessium and potassium, query starvation”. I was not starving.

    Then after having my fallopian tube removed in September 2009 I noticed a 10 kg weight gain in 2 weeks, and within 10 weeks I was 30kgs heavier than what I had been. No-one listened. I was put on diuretics. They stopped the increase but did not bring the weight down. Then I was prescribed duromine.

    I am now 102kgs. And desperately want to know what to do. During a recent trip to the hospital they tested me for Cushings Syndrome, but then also told me to get a gastric banding operation. I am at my wits end.

    Reply
  38. jo

     /  March 15, 2012

    Hi there you need to go from doctor to doctor until you find one that cares, as I felt there was something wrong with me as well and no one would listen. I finally found one who took everything I said seriously and I then had an emergency scan, I had 2 tumors, my ovaries were removed and I am still angry to this day as I should never have gone through what I did all because the doctors didnt listen.

    Reply
  39. Reading your emails have given me hope. I will have a Endo Dr. check me out and get my thyroid test retestedl. Then I will get my thyroid tests checked or remeasured.
    JM

    If you know of what could be causing this weight gain (with a normal eating and excersize.

    Reply
  40. pnt

     /  June 29, 2012

    I will preface this with I am NOT a doctor, nurse, or otherwise trained in medicine. That being said, from everything I have read and experienced having low magnesium and/or potassium will affect the level of thyroid medication that reaches your cells, even if your blood levels are normal. Your body works on a feedback loop so if you correct your magnesium and potassium (or check them if you keep getting told your thyroid is fine, then correct them as needed) you may find your body starts getting the right levels of thyroid hormone. The easiest way to get the magnesium is a pill, but potassium can be found in large quantities in bannanas, potatoes, and tomatoes (fruit or sauce. pasta, anyone?)

    I don’t get on this board regularly so I probably wont see any replies to this, but I fought for years to a doctor to even admit I had a problem and stop trying to just give me a anti-depressent. Seriously. Doctor after doctor, every single one of them tried to give me an anti-depressent and pat me on the head. They didn’t admit something was wrong until the goitre got so large I looked like a tree frog, and my throid had turned cancerous, growing all the way around to my spine. I had the issue pretty much all my life, but my numbers looked almost normal until the very end.

    Magnesium controls access into the cell. If it is too low, you go hypo. I personally believe it is your body protecting itself from the flood of hormone, since the magnesium “control gate” is missing. Potassium allows your cell to use the hormone you have. Without it you will have a normal level of hormone in your blood, but not be able to use it. Usually if you take enough hormone it will overcome that, but good luck getting a script.

    Just my two cents worth. As I said, I am not a doctor. Some of this is conjecture, based on years of trying to get my thryroid sorted out, and paying hundreds to have a doctor look at me like I am a hypochondriac instead of a hypothryroid when I say I still don’t feel well. It got bad enough I schedule the whole day off after a dr appt because I knew I would want to come home and cry in frustration and disappoint but unable to stop hoping that maybe this doctor would be different. Anyway, I don’t advocate playing with things without talking to your doctor first, but mine all just shrugged and said go ahead and yours may too. Since magnesium isn’t controlled and potassium can be upped via diet it’s something you can do and hey, maybe it will help. It helped me. I still don’t feel great, but I do feel better. A LOT better.

    Reply
  41. Arlene

     /  June 30, 2012

    In a year and a half I gained 75 pounds for no apparent reason, at the same time I was bleeding to the point of becoming very anemic, told to go on the pill because I must have a hormone imbalance, but when I refused the pill no one would help me. Finally I became weak, dizzy and short of breath because of the blood loss, told I had hyperplasia, and finally had a D & C, after that the bleeding stopped and the weight gain stopped, but I was never able to get back to my prior weight. I overexercised up to 2 hours a day and only lost 20 pounds, it was very frustrating. Over 20 years later, I’ve just become resigned to being fat for the rest of my life. Did lots of exercise regimens, medical weight loss plans with aerobics, step aerobics which only made my knees crunch and only maintained my weight. Told I wasn’t fat enough for lap band, subjected to rude weight loss therapist and dietician who were condescending and actually made jokes about us to our face. I have given up, I do believe weight loss surgery works because it breaks the sugar addiction and I’m sure I have PCOS and insulin resistance, even have the dark skin, struggled with acne and facial hair for years, HTN. It is very frustrating because I don’t see a cure. It just feels hopeless!

    Before this nightmare I was actually very pretty and now I feel totally disfigured and my face is now a round moon face, had to be on steroids when I was young second to uncontrolled asthma so that helped destroy my once pretty face. Even though I’m almost 50 now, I still want to lose the weight and get back the good looks I once had. It hurts to look in the mirror and see the round moon face looking back at me, that is the worst thing for me!

    Reply
    • vesta44

       /  June 30, 2012

      Arlene – Steroids can cause weight gain, it happened to my ex-daughter-in-law when she had to take them for some of her MS symptoms. She never managed to lose the weight after she went off the steroids either. I don’t know what to tell you about the problems you’re having, but maybe getting a referral to an endocrinologist could help. An endo can check all kinds of hormone/glandualr problems to see if any of those are causing your symptoms/problems and recommend solutions. If your doctor won’t refer you to one, do what I did. Find an endo on your own that your insurance will cover, and demand a referral from your doctor (it worked for me, anyway). Good luck.

      Reply
  42. My mom was (and still is) what one could consider a fat person, & she had a lot of trouble getting people to understand that with her barely 600 cals a day intake (over a span of several years), she couldn’t possibly be fat due to overeating.

    It took fluids seeping out of her skin from a severe case of lymphoedema for the doctors to finally realize that something was seriously wrong with her.
    Now she’s getting proper treatment, & over the span of 3 days on medicines & therapy to reduce her excess fluid count, she lost 110lbs. 110lbs!!! In 3 days!!!

    If you larger people think that something is seriously wrong, you need to keep pushing and pushing! Keep changing doctors until you find one who’s willing to listen. Don’t become another horror story like my Mom’s; she could have gotten extremely ill (maybe even died, which a family members of hers actually did from lymphoedema), hadn’t the response to the fluid secretion been as quick as it was.

    Reply
  43. Hi,
    My name is Megan, and in my senior year of high school (2008) I weighed 350 lbs. A year later, I dropped 100 lbs, some how. I didn’t exercise, I drank soda, I ate lots of pasta and dairy. In 2010, I started gaining, in that year I gained another 60 lbs, but I’d stopped drinking soda, only drank water, and 100% juices. 2011-2012 I gained and lost another 100 lbs roughly. Again, my job was very physical (silver foundry), and I only drank water and juice, ate healthy. I’ve seen 3 doctors in the last year and a half, and the only thing they want to tell me is “exercise more, eat less, come back and talk to me in 6 months”. In September, I weighed 350 lbs again. Since September of 2013, my husband and I have been on the Paleo eating life style. I don’t like the term diet for this, because we weren’t in it for a week or 3 weeks, but we’ve been doing it since then, it’s now January, and I’ve lost 30 lbs, and he’s lost 40 lbs. But I finally get to see an Endo in February. I’m really hoping to figure something out…

    Reply
  44. OK so everyone here are in the teens and older when weight decided to take over. My daughter at 1 1/2 yrs old to 2 years gained almost 75lbs. She went from a normal Weight to an very overweight little girl. We have seen 22 specialist and are seeing a new one on the 13 of Feb. We have found no reason for the weight gain. To make matters worst she is 6 now and still gaining weight it is much slower now than the first big gain but she gaining. We have had her thiroid check every 3 to 6 months since the start, we have been check for several different things from her genetics to praetor Willis. We do know that she has asthma, allergies to just about everything, ezama,tubes in both ears due to several ear infection we see the ENT again at the end of the month, we had to have her adenoids and tonsiles removed, psoriasis, digestive problems and to add to All of this we went to the eye doctor finally due to she can notice her letters BC we had to wait for that. She has to wear glasses the rest of her life due to bad eye site. She has lost all but 2 of her baby teeth due to bad teeth she is allergic to height furitose corn syrup so this has cut most of kids favs out. My daughter energy level is high if not better an most she does daily exercise BC we r making her fat Yeah Right.. if at anytime I thought there was nothing wrongwwith my little one I would not put her thru all of this. But I know there is and we just have not found it. She is on 3 allergie meds, 2 different inhalers, heart burn meds, laxitive and breathing treatment daily if any of you can think of something it would be great.. thank you also we r getting tested for pcos

    Reply

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