Why I didn’t follow my Doctor’s Weight Loss Advice.

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I was walking through the grocery store when my vision began to change.

My periphery went black. I had grown used to my hands shaking, but had never felt my knees trembling the way they did that day. I broke out in a sweat, the room started to spin, my heart raced. I felt like I might faint. I took a bottle of orange juice from the dairy case, opened it and started to drink. That’s when I realized, it had been days since I had eaten anything.

Visiting the doctor was strange when I was morbidly obese. Usually, doctors didn’t even address my weight. The extra hundred pounds I carried around the world with me literally felt like the elephant in the room.

We talked about lots of other things related to my weight. My doctor diagnosed me with Type 2 diabetes, and we talked about the cycle of insulin resistance. At that time, she recommended a diet lower in carbohydrates to help control my blood sugar. She prescribed a pill for me to take to help my insulin receptors become more sensitive.

A couple years later, she diagnosed me with high blood pressure. She wrote me another prescription for blood pressure medication. She mentioned that cardiovascular exercise might be beneficial, but urged me to start slowly to prevent injuries.

By the time I was 32, I weighed almost 250 pounds. I was taking medication for diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. I had constant pain in my feet and back. I literally spent my days on the couch, eating in front of the television.

Each time I went to the doctor for prescription refills, I hoped she would tell me how to lose weight. I knew I would feel better if I could just figure out how to make my body well. She never brought it up. After a few appointments of hinting at it, I decided to speak up and ask for help.

When I finally asked my doctor to help me lose weight, she had a few suggestions. The first was to take a medication called Phentermine every day. Phentermine is one of the “Phens” in the dangerous diet drug Phen-Phen. It’s a stimulant drug that suppresses your appetite. She wrote the prescription, and told me to eat three times a day—whether I was hungry or not.

“What should I be eating?” I needed to know. I needed a clear plan to follow if I was going to be successful.

My doctor recommended that I eat pre-packaged, frozen meals from the grocery store. She felt that they would take the guess work out of portion control for me. She advised fruit and yogurt for breakfast, and the frozen meals for lunches and dinners. She told me to eat whatever I wanted in very small portions.

I was excited to have a plan. I had read somewhere that losing just 10 percent of my body weight would improve my overall physical health. Losing 100 pounds felt overwhelming and impossible, but 25? Surely, I could do 25.

I picked up my prescription and went to the grocery store to stock up on frozen meals that I could microwave twice a day.

Naturally, the medication came with some side effects. Though she had given me the smallest dose, phentermine is a powerful stimulant. It made me feel shaky and anxious. It did what it was supposed to do—it completely suppressed my appetite. I never felt hungry. I was instructed to eat whether I was hungry or not, but when I did, I felt queasy. Usually, food was the furthest thing from my mind.

When I went back in a couple weeks for a check-up, she was pleased with the results. I had lost a few pounds already—which was the goal. However, my heart rate had increased and so had my blood pressure.

I told her about that day in the grocery store when I almost passed out. She gave me a lecture, reminding me to eat, even when I didn’t feel like it.

She recommended that I have a stress test done to check the health of my heart.

First we would do the test without the Phentermine. If that test looked normal, we would repeat it the next day, an hour after taking the medication, to see the effect on my heart.

When we were done with the second test, she had some new recommendations. I was to continue with the Phentermine for weight loss—but because it was speeding up my heart and increasing my blood pressure, we would increase the dose of the blood pressure medication I was already taking, and add a second medication as well to help stabilize my heart rate.

That’s when the light bulb went off for me. I realized that she could only recommend pills or surgery. There was nothing else she could do. I felt like the only recommendations she could make were dangerous. I declined the new prescriptions and stopped taking Phentermine that day.

If I was going to get well, I would have to be my own advocate. I began learning about nutrition. I started exercising. I went to therapy and discovered that my weight struggle was much more emotional than physical. Around this time, I also got divorced and started working toward becoming happier in my life.

I began to accept that I had the eating disorder people don’t talk about—I was a binge eater. I started working to identify and manage my triggers. I had to forgive myself for years of self harm. Today, I’m still learning and still managing my disorder. I have days of feeling completely in control and days of wondering if I will ever feel in control again.

Managing my weight is an ongoing process—one that has taught me much about myself.

Mostly, I’ve found a new compassion for my body. Her able cells have carried me through nearly four decades on this earth. She has given life to two of my favorite humans ever. She suffered much abuse the years that I didn’t cherish and respect her the way I should have.

Today, I know that ignoring my body’s natural cues for hunger and eating highly processed, packaged foods is never going to create long-term health for me. Basically, the opposite of that advice turned out to be the healthiest thing for me. Listening to my body, eating real food and finding ways to exercise doing things I love have helped me make huge changes in my lifestyle and health.

Just a few years ago, I was a size 24. I was on four prescription medications. I was inactive and quite unhappy. Today, I barely recognize the woman I was then.

I’ve never been happier as a curvy size 14. I take no prescriptions. I’m a licensed fitness instructor. My skin is clear, my eyes are bright, and I have tons of energy to do everything I want to every day. Most of all, I’m happy. My physical health is a reflection of my emotional well-being.

I’m grateful I chose not to listen to my doctor’s weight loss advice. Getting physically healthy was about getting to the heart of why I eat what I eat. It’s about making more conscious choices that are good for me and for the planet. And it’s about letting go of the unrealistic ideals we learn from our media about what a woman’s body should look like. It’s about choosing to love myself, flaws and all, every day—and making choices that reflect only love and acceptance.



Author: Renee Dubeau

Image: Author’s own

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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Renee Dubeau

Renee Dubeau is a lover of all creatures, a dreamer, rebel, and unapologetic supporter of underdogs everywhere. She is an avid reader, an outspoken feminist, and self-proclaimed princess of the hippies.

Renee began blogging years ago to document all the crazy things that happened in her hometown in rural Michigan. As she has grown as a woman and a writer, her work has shifted from mostly humor to more serious spiritual and social issues. She continues to use her voice for good in the blogosphere while working on her books.

Renee lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her finance and their four children. When she’s not writing, you can find her on a yoga mat, at the local farmer’s market, playing in the kitchen, or dancing naked under the full moon. Her favorite color is turquoise, her drug of choice is coffee, and her favorite food is cheese.

You can connect with Renee on her websiteFacebookInstagramTwitter, and at Elephant Journal. You can also check out her new author page on Amazon! She is always ready for a friendly debate, and welcomes your comments and questions.

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Diana Martines Tola Jul 28, 2018 12:09am

I've lost exactly 30 Lbs in 2 months! The best part is knowing that I did this myself. look at the method I use to lose weight here: => the2weekdietnow. com/red-tea-detox <= (Google it) Look at the method I use to lose weight on my facebook profile. I published it there. There was no one telling me what to eat or when to eat it. I made all of those decisions myself, and there's a freedom in that. There is also a very unique sense of accomplishment and self worth from recognizing that each pound lost came directly from me and my choices, not someone else's idea of the "right" way to lose weight.

Katie Batrax Mar 30, 2017 1:13pm

Becаuse оf excess weight, I hаd а lоt оf psychоlоgicаl prоblems thаt I wаs sоlving with fооd, which mаde me even thicker. (Lооk аt the phоtоs, nоw I'm nо lоnger аshаmed оf them) I hаd tо аdmit thаt I hаve оbviоus prоblems with bоth heаlth аnd self-esteem. I hаd mаny different weight lоss prоgrаms, sоme wоrked, sоme nоt. And аlthоugh my weight becаme lоwer, I did nоt like the result. I cоntinued tо seаrch until I fоund the methоd thаt suited me. This is nоt even а methоd, but а wаy оf life. My life is chаnging, аnd with cоnfidence I cаn sаy thаt the lifestyle thаt I chоse mаkes me hаppy.

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Sherry Tuinstra Feb 7, 2017 5:06pm

Thank you Renee. I know there are different ways we find peace and wholeness with food, body image, and weight. I'm so glad to read your journey here! I turned a corner when I began going to 12 step meetings for food, and began to connect with a whole loving community of people who had used food as a drug to survive emotionally. Essentially, what I've been learning is the same one you have shared. Realize that wellness and wholeness physical, emotional and spiritual are more important than what we look like. Find forgiveness for ourselves and compassion for others. Seek connection and help on the spiritual plane-whatever that may look like for you. Continue to connect with others who share our compulsion, and give service to our fellow sufferers. Do what is healthy and life-giving rather than what is destructive to our health and hearts. Finally, and most importantly, live a big life!!

Renee Dubeau Feb 3, 2017 12:48pm

*and sharing. Andrea must be your autocorrect nickname! 😜

Renee Dubeau Feb 3, 2017 12:47pm

*and sharing. Andrea must be your autocorrect nickname! 😜

Renée Dubeau- Author Feb 2, 2017 6:33pm

Exactly! Gosh, there are so many of us. Thanks for reading, Andrea sharing your story with me! �

Jeanine Galvan Feb 2, 2017 2:02am

when you know better you do better...peace

Deb Ketchum Underhill Feb 1, 2017 5:47pm

This is uncannily similar to my story. Good for you, we all need to educate ourselves and become our own healthcare advocates. Did you know that the 3rd leading cause of death in the US is our healthcare system? Yes, sometimes prescription drugs are necessary. But real food is the best medicine. I wish the medical community would educate themselves better regarding eating real, wholesome food and consistent, moderate exercise instead of always trying to fix everything with more drugs. You are an inspiration, thank you for sharing your story.

Renée Dubeau- Author Feb 1, 2017 4:38pm

And YOU have made mine! Thank you so much for your kind words. ��

Renée Dubeau- Author Feb 1, 2017 4:37pm

Thank you. We are never alone in these things! �

Laurie-Beth Robbins Feb 1, 2017 2:55pm

This is single-handedly the most beautiful piece I've ever read in the elephant journal bar none. Bravo to you brave woman! Keep on being you! You made my day! XO, LB

Traci Marsh Burnam Feb 1, 2017 1:07pm

You told my story, and you did so beautifully! Awesome.

Renée Dubeau- Author Feb 1, 2017 11:16am

Thank you so much for writing! You're doing it right. Nutrition, I feel, is the most important piece. Good job taking responsibility for your healing. I wish you much health and happiness! �

Rechele Mays Feb 1, 2017 4:24am

Good for you! It's unfortunate that many people believe doctors to be the one's with all the knowledge. You're absolutely right that they can only prescribe drugs and surgery. Although I don't have an issue being overweight, I've always struggled with food. As a teen, I was diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia. No one could help me. Had I not, by God or a pure stroke of luck, realized that the core of my emotional and food issues was a deep rooted feeling of shame, a need for control in my out of control life, and an unconscious belief that I was unworthy and unloaded, I truly believe I would've died. Fast forward 10 years and at 27, I was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroiditis. Because my thyroid was not yet destroyed, the doctors simply told me to "wait it out" and eventually my thyroid would destroy itself, at which point I would be put on thyroid medication for the rest of my life. They claimed that changing my diet couldn't solve anything, but after countless hours of research and support from others with autoimmune disease, I decided they were just flat out wrong. It still hurts to go to the doctor and have them invalidate my concerns, but I also know that diet has a HUGE effect on all aspects of a person's life. While I am still figuring out what to eat more of and what to stear clear of, the changes I have made have made a huge difference. The bottom line is that we have to trust our guts (no pun intended!). We know our bodies better than anyone else and we know when doctors just keep prescribing med after med, that something isn't quite right. I'm grateful that you were able to figure out how to listen to your body and you followed your intuition about your health. I'm also very grateful for this article, because so many out there are still struggling and still furthering the damage to their already unhealthy bodies by simply taking pills that cause more problems or by doing everything their doctors may tell them, without doing their own research. I look forward to reading more of your articles and wish you continued health and well-being!