Thursday, June 14, 2012

Losing Weight After 3 Stagnant Years!

I am hesitant to write this.  I am wary to mention anything about my desperate weight loss saga, because I've thought I was losing weight before, and I was very wrong.  Before, it was just a fluke; simply the normal fluctuations my body goes through during the month. 

But my spirits are lifted today, because, over the course of the last two weeks or so, I have dropped from 208 to 204 pounds.  The first time I saw a bright red 204 on the scale, I thought it must be mistaken, so I weighed myself again.  And then a third time.  And then I weighed myself a day later.  And then the day after that.  And then that time, the scale said 203.5 pounds!  I weighed myself on the following day, and it was back up to 204.  But the point is, I think this weight loss may be for real, finally! 

As some of you may know, I've written extensively on my other blog A Life of Healthy Abundance about my traumatic experience of being on the Depo-Provera birth control shot for two years, the horrific weight gain I gained because of the Depo, and my frustratingly futile attempts at losing the weight while still on the Depo. 

Because I've written about Depo so much on the other blog, I won't go into too much more detail here, except to say that the Depo is such a high-powered dosage of the birth control hormone Progesterone (I only had to get the Depo shot once every 3 months), it tricked my body into thinking I was pregnant for 2 solid years, and thus made me gain around 50 pounds in two years.  I joined a gym and worked out 5 days a week for about 6 months, desperately trying to lose this weight that was sticking to my body. 

This intense workout regimen helped me not gain any more weight while doing it, but I did not lose a pound the entire time.  I was devastated, and I could not continue putting forth so much effort after such a devastating setback, so I quit the gym and tried to focus on eating healthier and doing less intense exercises (although I was keeping a food journal and eating fairly healthy already).  The weight gain continued, even after stopping the Depo. 

Once, I gained 10 pounds in two weeks (albeit while on vacation), but also while running 5 miles every other day during the vacation.  Definitely NOT normal, by any stretch of the imagination!  

I have been off of the Depo for 1 year and 3 months now, and I'm just now seeing some weight loss.  After three extremely difficult years filled with increasing fatigue/low energy levels, constant lower-back pain, and severe hypoglycemia occurring every 3 hours, I believe I'm finally on the track back to health. 

I wish I could proclaim from the mountaintops how horrible the Depo is for many women (although some women enjoy Depo with no side effects).  If you're on Depo, or know someone who is, I'd strongly recommend you encourage them to do their homework on their own and educate themselves about this high-powered drug, and don't just take their doctor's word for it, that everything will be fine. 

There is a fit and toned woman inside of me, who has been screaming to get out, for the past 3 years, and it has been hell on earth to see my weight skyrocket and being helpless to stop it.  After endlessly researching this topic online, speaking with female friends who've experienced similar weight gain while on birth control and/or during pregnancy, and by speaking with metabolic professionals about my issues with Depo, I found out that there was no way for me to prevent the weight gain while the Depo hormones were still in my system.  The only thing I could do was wait.  I hate waiting.  I had to wait until the Depo naturally left my system, in an excruciatingly, painfully slow fashion.  The research (and consumer reviews) say that after stopping Depo, it may take up to 2 years for a woman to get pregnant.  And I can attest to that (in a different way).  Just like the Depo may stay in a woman's system for up to 2 years, making it impossible for her to conceive, it stayed in my system for almost a year and a half, making it impossible for me to lose any of my "baby weight."  I gained weight from the non-existent "baby" that my body thought I was carrying for the last 2 years. 

Sometimes I joke that, "Now I'm fat, and I don't even have a baby to show for it!" 

But in all seriousness, this makes me very concerned about if my husband and I decide to have biological children someday.  Will I gain a ton of weight, no matter what I do to prevent it, when I am pregnant?  How much weight will I gain in 9 months of pregnancy, if I gained over 50 pounds during two years of my fake, Depo-induced "pregnancy?"  I don't know the answer to that question, but it haunts me.  And perhaps you think that's silly of me to not want to have children because I'm worried about weight gain.  But for me, this weight problem has been the bane of my existence for the last 3 years, and I cannot wait to get slim and healthy again.  I never considered myself very slim in the first place, so all I want is to finally get fit and healthy, for the first real time in my life!  I know I can succeed at my weight loss and fitness goals, if the Depo hurdle gets removed. 

I pray ceaselessly to the Lord that this weight loss I've experienced lately is genuine and is a hallmark of things to come.  And what a blessing it will be, to lose weight and be able to be healthy again!  Can you imagine?  No back pain, no Diabetes risk, no more having to buy or borrow bigger clothes that fit better, and no more feeling like my limbs have weights on them!  I'm 26 years young, and I cannot wait to feel my age!  Right now I feel MUCH older than 26 years old.   

What about you?  Have you ever been on Depo-Provera, or do you know someone who is?  Do you have any birth control horror stories?  Or perhaps your experiences were great?  Tell me about it!


  1. I haven't had issues with weight gain on birth control for the past 5 years, including Depo-Provera for the last 8 months. I HAVE had to control my EATING to prevent weight gain...even when running 40 miles/week, biking 25 miles/week, doing yoga, and lifting weights --- I could eat those calories back AND MORE and gain weight. From my experience and that of many people I know and have read about...weight loss comes in the kitchen, not the gym.

  2. Oh Anna, I didn't know that you were on Depo, yikes! I'm so glad you've not noticed any weight gain yet, and I hope you never do. Question: when you talk about controlling your eating, are you saying that you've only had to start controlling it to that extreme since you've been on Depo, or had you been doing it before you began birth control? Just curious. I would be curious to know how many calories you could eat, (while exercising) and not gain weight before you began the Depo, and how much you have to restrict your calories now (now that you're on Depo) in order to prevent weight gain.

    With the amount of exercising you do, it would seem you should be able to (and should!) consume more calories than the "average" female your age. Do you find this to be the case?

    A HUGE part of my problem is that the Depo gave me severe blood sugar drops every 3 hrs, so I had to eat every 3 hrs. And a small snack, like a handful of nuts, did not cut it. To stop the blood sugar crashes and hold me over until my next real meal, my snacks had to include both protein and carbs. My body was so out of whack that it was forcing me to feed it every 3 hrs or I'd almost faint. Eating every 3 hrs., even more "healthy" foods--well, those calories still add up.

    And the weight gain didn't start all at once for me, either. For the first year that I was on Depo, I was gaining some weight here and there, but I figured that it was muscle mass from all the working out I was doing. And some of it may have been muscle mass, but most of it is certainly fat, not muscle. I kept waiting, exercising, and cutting my calories, and the weight kept coming, and then during year #2 of being on Depo, that's when the weight really packed on, no matter what I did.
    I've read many observations about Depo saying that the longer you stay on it, the more compounded the effects. This means that, even though I gained around 10 or 15 pounds that first year, the second year I gained another 40 pounds. If I had stayed on it for another year, I may have gained an additional 80 pounds, which of course sounds ridiculous, but the Depo effects add up exponentially the longer you remain on it.
    Those are just my words of caution and my experience with it. Some women use it and claim no negative side effects whatsoever. Kudos to them, and to you, Anna, but please be cautious! You know your body, and if something ever seems "not quite right", that may be because it's not right!
    Another quick word about Depo: when a woman is pregnant and gives birth, if she breastfeeds her baby, the act of breastfeeding releases new hormones into her body, signaling the body that the baby is out and to stop storing fat. So breastfeeding signals fat-burning in a lot of women (but not all). But for those of us on Depo (certainly me), there will be no breastfeeding to signal the end of fat storage. There is no other option than to simply give the Depo time to naturally and slowly leave the body. For me, this has taken almost 1.5 years. The longer you remain on Depo, the longer it will take for it to leave your system after you stop taking it.
    Thanks so much for sharing this, Anna, and good luck!

  3. I always have to watch what I eat - on Depo or not. Being on Depo hasn't changed anything for me. Exercising as much as I do increases my appetite a lot which is why I have to be cautious. Plus, it's easy to want to match Ryan bite-for-bite when clearly he needs more calories than I do, even with my exercising. For my height and weight my baseline calorie needs are just about 1350/day, so I usually can add 400-700/day based on how much I'm exercising. It's REALLY easy to eat more than that, which is why I eat tons of organic veggies to fill myself up. Most people WAY under-estimate how many calories are in their food. It takes diligent measuring and weighing. One of the reasons we make everything from scratch (bread, yogurt, granola, sauces, etc) is so we can know exactly what's in it and what we're eating. That's why we rarely eat out or drink soda -- one meal out is a whole day of calories for me! Society has a very warped perception of eating and how much we can/should eat.

  4. oh and the reason I switched from the pill to the shot wasn't because I was unhappy with the pill. I was good about taking it on time every day and didn't have any side affects --- but through my work I can get the shot for free (visit & shot are free). Can't argue with completely free. Saves me over $120/year.