After many trips to various doctors, I received a diagnosis. I had hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid that can speed up metabolism and cause weight loss—but of course didn't make me lose a single pound) and then gradually started moving into hypothyroidism (a sluggish metabolism that can cause fatigue and weight gain). My doctor prescribed medication and warned me that I must "learn to embrace hunger" or I would immediately gain weight. Believe me, no part of me was prepared to embrace hunger.
It seemed as if the struggle I'd had with weight my entire adult life was now officially over. I felt completely defeated. I thought, "I give up. I give up. Fat wins." All these years I'd had only myself to blame for lack of willpower. Now I had an official, documented excuse.
The thyroid diagnosis felt like some kind of prison sentence. I was so frustrated that I started eating whatever I wanted—and that's never good. My drug of choice is food. I use food for the same reasons an addict uses drugs: to comfort, to soothe, to ease stress.
I switched doctors and still gained weight. At one point I was on three medications: one for heart palpitations, another for high blood pressure, another to moderate my thyroid. Who knew this tiny butterfly gland at the base of the throat had so much power? When it's off, your whole body feels the effects. [For more information about thyroid disorders, see The Truth About the Thyroid.] I followed my doctor's orders to the letter (except for the part about working out). I took the prescribed medication religiously at the same time each day.
Being medicated, though necessary, made me feel as if I were viewing life through a veil. I felt like an invalid. Everything was duller. I felt like the volume on life got turned down.
I realized this to some extent, but I wasn't fully aware of the effect of the medication until I had a conversation with my friend Bob Greene. He'd given up lecturing me about working out and eating well, but we were walking together one day and he said, "I think something's wrong. You're listless. Your movements are slower, even when you're just doing normal stuff. Twice I've told you something and you don't remember it. There's no sparkle in your eyes. I think you're in some sort of depression."
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