I had just switched from my regular OBGYN to a nurse practitioner that my friend recommended, and I scheduled a visit with my new medical professional to get her up-to-speed on my heath issues. My last doctor never seemed to have the time to listen to my concerns, and I could tell right away that my nurse practitioner was different. We had an hour to talk and get to know each other.
I told her about my bad neck, and how I was having a lot of success with my chiropractor in the last few months, but that the exercise I was able to do was extremely limited while I went through this period of adjustment and my body’s alignment was in a delicate state.
I told her that I ate well, cooked a lot, but that I knew I needed to lose weight. The last time I saw my OBGYN, she reprimanded me about my weight, but with the limited exercise that I could do, it was really difficult to get the pounds off. With my height and age, I should be less than 155 pounds; I weighed 185 pounds at the time.
I told my nurse practitioner that I had stopped menstruating and that I didn’t really understand why, but I figured it was just something that happened. I knew my mother used to go months without menstruating, and I had always had irregular periods.
Another aspect of my body that I had also always come to accept is that the women from my father’s side of the family are all very hairy. I know. It’s gross. We have think hair on top of our heads, on our arms, and everywhere else.
Laurel Schaberg, my nurse practitioner, turned to me and simply said, “There is a reason for all of these things that are happening to you. I think you may have a problem with insulin resistance.”
The indicators in my life that I had insulin resistance were:
BMI Over 25. In particular, my BMI was 30, I was at least 30 pounds overweight, and almost all of the extra fat was in my torso. I tend to have an “apple” figure, particularly when gaining weight: big breasts, big belly, big waist. These are all huge indicators of insulin resistance.
Craving Carbs & Sweets. Carbs become sugar in the bloodstream. Insulin is the hormone that tells your muscles, “Dude! Blood sugar is in the house! Partake of it, my cellular friends!” If my muscels are not listening to the insulin, though, they aren’t getting the blood sugar they need, and so my body craves more carbs even though I’m already eating enough carbs or even too many carbs.
Inability to Lose Weight, Even Though I Ate Well. If you eat modest portions and healthy foods, but you have insulin resistance, you can still gain weight. Calories are not as crucial to my weight loss as are other things, like balancing carbs with proteins, and eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
Irregular Menstrual Periods. If you have irregular periods, skip periods or have polycystic ovarian disease, it could be because your insulin levels are messing with your other hormones, and keeping you from ovulating properly. It happened to me.
Hairiness (where there should be no hair). Again, the insulin imballance messes with your hormone levels, and one side effect can be un-feminine hairiness in women.
Jitteriness, Crankiness & Fatigue When I Don’t Eat. If I go too long without eating, it feels like the world is going to end. As a person with insulin resistance, I have trouble not only using the sugar in my bloodstream, but my body is also incapable of storing unused blood sugar like an healthy person’s body would. If Mr. Wetzel eats a big pasta dinner, his body will store the excess carbs and use them to sustain his body during a time of fasting (like when he sleeps or skips a meal). My body doesn’t do that. If I don’t use the carbs, they are turned into fat, and if I’m late for a meal, my energy reserves are all used up. The phrase “I feel like I’m running on empty” is very true for people with insulin resistance.
How My Life Has Changed
I now am on a diet that helps my body deal with its insulin resistance, and I also take Metformin. Together, these two changes have helped me lose weight, stay energetic, and feel better emotionally and physically. I now weigh 162 pounds…that’s a difference of 23 pounds! I don’t even have time to work out; that’s just from making the dietary changes.
The basic rules for eating are as follows:
(1) Never eat carbs by themselves. Artificial sweeteners count in this boat, as well.
(2) Never eat more than 30 grams of carbs at once.
(3) Always link carbs with protein. For every 15 grams of carbs you are going to eat, you need to balance it with at least 7 grams of protein.
(4) Protein foods include: all meats (beef, chicken, fish etc), all dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc), legumes (i.e. beans), and nuts
I used to run our of gas during the day, but if I ate a carb-heavy snack I’d go on a high and then crash again. I can now sustain a calm and persistent energy level throughout the day. Because my hormones are being kept in check, I also am not on a constant emotional roller coaster that coincides with my food highs or hungers. I feel more confident about my food choices, my appearance, and my emotional stability. Knowing that there is a medical reason for the way I feel help to make me feel less alienated, as well, and if reading my insulin resistance story help you to feel less alone, that’s what I was going for!
Are you struggling with insulin resistance?
What is your story?
If you want to read more about Insulin Resistance, how to determine if you have it, and how to eat differently to help counteract it, strongly I recommend that you check out The Insulin Resistance Diet by Cheryle Hart and Mary Kay Grossman, and that you sit down and talk with your doctor or nurse practitioner about your concerns.