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Trinity's Journey to Optimal Health

Discussion in 'My Optimal Journal' started by Trinity, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. Trinity

    Trinity New Member

    Trinity's Story: Part 1

    My story begins with my conception because I've come to understand that some of the conditions that predispose us to a life-long battle with obesity are already in place before we are ever conceived. My mother was severely leptin resistent, clinically hypothyroid, and morbidly obese when I was born. I don't blame her for my problems. She was as much a victim of her environment as I am of mine. I do, however, aknowledge that her health issues probably affected my metabolic development.

    I was a chubby child... Not hugely obese by any means, but I was bigger than most of the other girls in my classes. I remember becoming aware that I was "fat" in the first grade. As it so happens, this was also the age that I attempted my first "diet". My early efforts at dieting weren't particularly successful and it almost goes without saying that I went on to become an obese teenager. Being an obese teen was tough and my self confidence was quite low during this time in my life. I tried lots of diets, but they never really worked... I would yo-yo up and down 10 pounds or so, never loosing enough to achieve a healthy weight. I didn't understood what was wrong with me. My diet didn't appear to be any worse than my skinny friends. In fact, many of my our meals were home cooked and regularly included vegetables.

    I remained obese until I began college at 18. Around this time, I remember my mom telling me about a new diet that my uncle was trying. It was the Atkins diet. I thought it sounded really interesting because it allowed you to eat most of the foods (red meat, cheese, ect.) that I had always been told to avoid. I decided to give it a try. It worked marvelously. I was finally loosing weight without feeling like I was starving to death. Within a year and a half, I had lost somewhere around 70 pounds and achieved a normal, healthy body weight of 135 pounds on my 5'5" frame. In many ways, this success probably marked the beginning of my decline in health.

    As Dr. Kruse has stated, low carb diets are great for taking off fat... But they are not so great at keeping it off long term. You see, when you become obese, not only do you increase the size of your fat cells... You also increase the number of fat cells in your body. Once you have too many fat cells, you are in big trouble if you ever hope to loose a significant amount of fat and keep it off. The problem arises from the interaction between fat cell volume and leptin signaling. Larger fat cells produce disproportionately more leptin than small fat cells. When you loose weight, your fat cells become smaller but they don't disappear. Most importantly, smaller fat cells produce less leptin.

    It is well established in the research literature that dieting causes a drop in circulating leptin levels. Furthermore, this drop in leptin causes a "starvation response" that results in physiological stress, increased hunger, and an overall metabolic slowing. According to researchers,

    "studies strongly suggest that the weight reduced state may be regarded as a condition of relative leptin insufficiency and that prevention of weight regain might be achievable by reversing this leptin insufficient state".

    Indeed, this is the biological mechanism that underpins weight regain amoung successful dieters. Furthermore, it also appears that this diminished leptin response is mostly irreversible. Essentially the successful dieter's body fat stores become spread out over a large number of starving fat cells, none of which produce sufficient leptin to maintain normal weight and metabolic function. As a result, the research unfortunately suggests that a formly obese person will never regain the metabolic function of a non obese person.

    As a formerly chubby kid, I suspect that I was probably starting out with more fat cells than the average person. The problem got worse as I grew up and gained more weight. The low carb diet was successful in reducing the size of those fat cells, but not in reducing their number. The ensuing leptin signaling issues likely made my determination to permanently maintain my 70 pound weight loss a recipe for disaster.

    It quickly became clear that I was going to have to exercise to keep the weight off. For the first time in my life I felt good about my body and I was determined that I was NEVER EVER going to go back to being a fat person. I was willing to do anything not to gain the weight back so I took up exercise with a vengance, running and lifting heavy weights 1-2 hours per day, 6x per week. This worked for a while. A low carb diet in combination with heavy exercise actually kept most of the weight off for another 5-7 years... But little did I know. I was wearing my body out fast!
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  2. Trinity

    Trinity New Member

    Trinity's Story: Part 2

    Having enjoyed resonably OK health most of my life, I didn't understand what was happening when I started to experience a host of strange symptoms including extreme fatigue, insomnia, unstable blood sugar, irregular cycles, hair loss, freezing cold extremities, mood swings, and depression. I could tell that the mood swings and depression were strongly correlated to my cycle. It got to the point that I wasn't sure who I was anymore. I seemed to be two different people depending on what time of the month it was... One was "normal me" and the other was some mean, angry, depressed monster that seemed to come out of nowhere. I was in grad school at the time and the fatigue eventually became so bad I started curling up on the floor under the desk in my office. It was the fatigue that finally drove me to see a doctor.

    Of course, the findings were largely unremarkable according to the doctor. That is, if you consider an enlarged thyroid, thyroid hormones at the bottom of the reference range, sky high cortisol, and menopausal levels estrogen and progesterone "normal" for a 26 year old. His advice was "watchful waiting" on the thyroid, a prescription for synthetic "birth control pills" to regulate my cycle, and a suggestion that I consider an anti-depressant and counsellor for the mood and fatigue issues. I said no thanks to the anti-depressant and shrink. Although I felt depressed, there was absolutely nothing going on in my life to explain the feelings. They were clearly tied to my cycle and I was pretty sure that the menopausal levels of sex hormones were to blame.

    This doctor visit ushered in an era of ever worsening mental and physical health. I saw several doctors during this time and I came to fear the humiliation of being told over and over that there was nothing wrong with me except for what was "in my head". Eventually, I stopped seeing doctors.

    It was the insidious and inexorable weight re-gain despite increasingly aggressive efforts to control it through diet and exercise that finally convinced me to try again. I was convinced that I had a thyroid problem. I had a family history (mom is hypothyroid), all of the clinical symptoms, an ultrasound showing an enlarged thyroid gland, and labwork going back 5 years showing low thyroid hormone levels. After much research, I settled on a doctor that was more holistically oriented and known for using natural dessicated thyroid supplementation. Being a bit more open-minded, it was not hard to convince him that I had a thyroid issue. I walked away with a prescription for dessicated thyroid.

    For the first month I felt much better. The fatigue lifted. My mood was better. This must be the answer! Unfortunately, I soon ran into a period of stress surrounding a move to a new house... The stress of the move combined with thyroid hormones and marginal adrenal status (unknown to me) was the straw that "broke the camel's back" and resulted in my first "adrenal crash". I had no idea what was happening. My entire autonomic nervous system destabilized with wild swings in heart rate and blood pressure that led to panic attacks. My circadean rhythm was destroyed as I started waking like clockwork every morning at 3AM with adrenaline rushes burning through my abdomen. My muscles became chronically tight and painful now matter how much I tried to stretch them out. My stress tolerance evaporated. Even a ringing phone would startle me to the point I would start shaking and feel like I was going to collapse. I discontinued the thyroid medication, but the symptoms never went away.

    It took me some time and research to understand what had happened. My cortisol, thyroid, and sex hormones were tanked. My circadean rhythm was destroyed. After this turning point, I literally went a whole year unable to sleep more than 3-4 hours per night. I could barely function in my life or work and I had next to no support from my family who seemed convinced that I was a neurotic hypochondriac. I was, however, extremely fortunate to have a partner that stood by me and believed in my the whole way. Because he lived with me, I didn't have to convince him that I had a physical problem. It was him that finally encouraged me to find a good doctor and get help.
  3. Trinity

    Trinity New Member

    Trinity's Story: Part 3

    Approximately 5 years from the point this nightmare began, I found a good endocrinologist. I was pre-diabetic, my progesterone was non existant, my thyroid was in bad shape with low free t3 and reverse t3 elevated more than double the reference range, and my adrenals were shot with low cortisol and an upside down rhythm. I began my slow climb to health with prescriptions for bioidentical progesterone, supplemental cortef, and cytomel. I also found out that I was gluten intolerant with low iron and a Vitamin D level a mere step above "rickets".

    By this point, I had given up on weight loss or exercise. I had to conserve what little energy I had just to function minimally at my job... I ate a reaonably healthy, low glycemic diet (could no longer tolerate extremely low carb), but the weight and fat just piled on. I finally accepted that I was going to be fat and there was nothing I could do about it. Being able to have enough energy to function at my job took precedence over what clothing size I wore.

    Over a period of about two years, I recovered some of my former health. Though still no where near optimal, I got my iron, vitamin-d, and progesterone up, improved my thyroid function, and stabilized my nervous system through a combination of cortef and daily neurofeedback / meditation. I felt mostly "OK", but still had little sense of well being or productive energy. Despite better thyroid function, my metabolism was still shot. Eventually, I tried to loose weight again by eating less and getting back in the gym only to have it backfire on me. According to before and after DEXA scans, I actually lost muscle and gained fat from eating less and working out! To my extreme horror, I was now 51% bodyfat. I wasn't "obese". I wasn't even "morbidly obese". I was "super obese"; that special category for those unfortunate individuals with a bodyfat percentage over 50%. And somehow I had gotten there on a reasonably low glycemic, albeit SAD diet, that was mostly free of sugar and junk food!

    Beyond my severe obesity problem, the other thing that never significantly improved was my sleep. Even with the Cortef, my ASI continued to show an upside down rhythm. Being quite analytical and research minded, I started doing regular adrenal stress tests and testing various doses and timings of Cortef supplementation in effort to fix this problem once and for all. No matter what I did, I could not eliminate the upward trend at night that was causing my chronic insomnia. After a number of these tests, I started to suspect that Circadean rhythm might be independent of the daytime cortisol concentration.

    It was while researching Circadean rhythm that I first ran into Dr. Kruse's website. He presented an entirely unique perspective and I began to finally understand how obesity, leptin, dopamine, and circadean rhythm are all inter-related. I finally understood that some of the conditions that predispose us to obesity are in place before we are born. I finally understood how some of the physiological factors related to fat cell volume and leptin signaling cause dieters to develop hormonal problems, become depressed, and regain lost weight. I was not a personal failure because I had these problems! I had made an honest efort to do the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time, but the cards had been stacked against me, maybe even from birth!

    All of a sudden, my life made a lot more sense :) The knowledge I gained from Dr. K's amazing blogs and this forum actually released me from a burden of guilt and sense of personal failure. Best of all, it has offered me hope and the possiblity of meaningfully improving my health, permanently conquering my obesity, and generally living a more optimal life.

    In PART 4, I will describe my new, more optimal plan to recover my health and some of the positive results I've seen so far.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  4. Trinity

    Trinity New Member

    Trinity's Story: Part 4

    I began my journey to Optimal health in January of this year. While I still have a ways to go, I have made progress accross the board.

    C/T has been a huge focus of mine. I will have to post pics of my CT setup sometime cause it beats the crap out of hauling ice around :)

    In fact, I just posted elsewhere on this forum about my massive increase in IGF-1 (growth hormone) from regular CT. Although I do not have a baseline from the very beginning, over the past 4-5 months of cycloset + regular CT, my IGF-1 levels have increased by more than 100 points. In fact, I am now above the reference range at 373 ng/mL (range 53-331). From what I've researched, this is quite high for someone my age (34 years old). My endocrinologist said that he does not see levels that high very often in his patients and was quite interested in my CT protocol. Apparently Dr. K got the same results (i.e. a 100+ increase in IGF-1 levels) from his CT experiment.

    I am in this CT game for the long haul. As a morbidly obese person, I fully understand the absolute necessity of CT and the need to induce fat cell apoptosis. Without permanently destroying a significant number of my fat cells, long term fat loss will be physiologically impossible to sustain. I know this from first had experience because it was the substaantial weight loss earlier in my life that severely damaged my endocrine system. I kept the weight off for several years through sheer force of will combined with unhealthy dieting and aggressive exercise... But in the end my self discipline backfired on me and hormonal havoc ensued. Despite my best efforts, I gained all of the weight back and then some along with a host of new problems including adrenal dysfunction, low DHEA, massively elevated reverse t3, trashed progesterone, pre-diabetes, and a destroyed circadian rhythm. I have spent what were supposed to be the best and most productive years of my life trying to recover my health with little assistance and a great deal of bitterness towards the conventional medical establishment.

    In addition to the massive increase in IGF-1 I mentioned, I have also seen other improvements from CT that support everything Dr K discusses in CT-6:

    1) My t3 levels have improved over the past few months *without* increasing my cytomel dose

    2) I have managed to get off of Cortef after almost 2 years on it. My cortisol is still not optimal, but its getting better. Sleep still isn't perfect either but my chronic insomnia has noticeably improved in response to CT, rigorously minding the light cycles, and now a magnetico pad.

    3) I am noticing that I have become quite resistant to weight gain for the first time ever! In fact, I just bought pants 1 size smaller because my old pants were starting to look a little sloppy. I have only lost 4-5 pounds so I am guessing that there must be some muscle gain occurring in addition to fat loss. The truly amazing thing is that this has happened without any calorie restriction or increase in exercise!

    Conventional wisdom's admonishment to restrict calories and exercise myself to death is simply not part of my plan to conquer my obesity anymore... That road led me away from health rather than towards it... And as they say, stupidity is defined as doing the same thing over and over expecting different results...

    My new strategy is three-fold:

    1) Use CT to work towards long term fat cell apoptosis: I actually invested in a commercial grade water chiller that I have hooked up to a submersible pump sitting in my bath tub. It is on a timer and starts chilling my water about an hour and a half before I get home from work. So far it has worked really great because it has allowed me to control and very gradually reduce the temperature as I have acclimated. It will cool down to 37 degrees and that is where I'm heading over the next few months (currently at 42 degrees).

    2) Reduce Inflammation and Improve Mitochondrial Function: Although CT helps with this, I am also supplementing with Tumeric (Meriva), poly-resveratrol, CoQ10, Magnesium, D-Ribose, and am working on improving my dietary omega-3 ratio. I also recently purchased a Magnetico core pad. I have become aware that morbid obesity is a highly inflammatory state and CT-6 really confirmed my need to reduce inflammation when it talked about the inflammatory factors blocking leptin from binding to the receptor.

    3) Work on improving circadian rhythm: To this end, I make a point to consistently get light exposure first thing in the AM and wear my blue blockers after 7pm every night. I am also consistently in bed by 10PM and sleep in complete darkness thanks to heavy duty light blocking curtains and a sleep mask. On the weekends, I make an effort to spend a few hours outside in the sun during the morning or early afternoon.

    After reading CT-6 at Dr. K's suggestion, it appears that my results might be even better if I adopt a ketogenic diet. I am currently eating paleo and plan to gradually move in the ketogenic direction as the fall and winter approach. I have taken the carb reduction a bit slow because past efforts to go fully ketogenic have really backfired in terms of the effect upon my mood and energy. I now understand that this is because I have not been able to burn fat very efficiently. With my broken metabolism I have no idea how long converting to an efficient fat burner might take. I am currently planning to use D-ribose to temporarily fill in the gap as I attempt to make the adjustment. It is interesting that I have still gotten some of the benefits from the cold pathway without being fully ketogenic. The benefits I've seen so far are definitely motivating me to keep moving more towards optimal!

    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  5. Trinity

    Trinity New Member

    In case anyone is interested, here is my CT setup. It beats the crap out of hauling ice and was cheaper than the commerical ice makers that I priced out. It consists of:

    HP EcoPlus commercial grade water chiller (1/2 HP)
    EcoPlus Eco 1056 Submersible Pump 1083GPH
    10-20 ft of 1 inch tubing

    I have it on a surge protector and timer set to come on about an hour and a half before I get home from work. Because I got the bigger 1/2 HP model, it takes less than 2 hours to cool my bathtub down to ~42 degrees. Most of the time I really look forward to my CT sessions. Strange as it sounds to most people (this forum excluded ;) ), I find CT quite relaxing. It is also an opportunity for me to take some quiet time and catch up on reading on my kindle (housed in a waterproof case, of course ;) ). It has taken me 7 months to work my way down to 42 degree baths, but it has been a completely painless process. Because I can precisely control the temperature, I have simply adjusted the thermostat down a degree or two every week. Likely due to an extremely slow acclimation, I haven't shivered at any point during the process. There tends to be a mild adjustment period of 5 minutes or so when I first get in before I am 100% comfortable, but no shivering. I have actually observed that my body temperature seems to rise and maintain between 99-100 degrees throughout the bath. Even 30-40 minutes into the bath, I am often still holding around 99 degrees. I also meaure my skin temp and have found that it is currently running about 52 degrees in the 42 degree water. When I get out there is a warm up period of about an hour, but I am rarely uncomfortably cold. The only exception is if I lay down and stop moving around. I find that I need to do my CT at least 2 hours before bed to avoid going to bed uncomfortably cold. Warming up has gotten progressively easier though. I actually remember being much colder after completing a 70 degree bath several months ago than I am today after a 42 degree bath. I guess I can finally consider myself cold adapted :)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  6. fitness@home

    fitness@home Silver

    Thank you for posting Trinity!

    My husband is very handy and I am going to ask him if he can do this for me :)
  7. nicld

    nicld Gold

    Oh Trinity, your story sound just like mine except you are a little farther in the healing process then I am.

    This line really hit home for me "I was not a personal failure because I had these problems! I had made an honest efort to do the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time, but the cards had been stacked against me, maybe even from birth!" That is a hard one to get over, seeing yourself as being a failure.

    I too read my kindle in the bath. I just made a board to go across my tub so I can set my kindle on it with a stand and it work great. It also allow my new kittens to cross the water too and sit and watch me...hahaha.

    Wishing you lots of success with this and know that we are on this journey together.

  8. Trinity

    Trinity New Member

    Hi Nicole,

    Yeah, that one has taken me many years to start moving past. I think in our society we are conditioned to think we are a failure if we are obese. There is a perceived stigma that we lack self control. After all, if you are obese it MUST be because you sit on your ass all day watching TV and eating Twinkies, right? If you can't loose weight on a diet, it MUST be because you are lying to yourself about how much you eat, right? Or maybe you just sabotage yourself because you're an "emotional eater"? :rolleyes:

    Realizing that I honestly HAVE done the best with the knowledge I had and the cards that I was dealt has been liberating. In my late teens, I knew next to nothing about metabolism or hormones. I didn't yet have the background or the motivation to dig through clinical research studies. Given my circumstances, I can't blame myself because there is nothing I could have reasonably done to cause things to turn out differently. And as much as I've struggled with my health over the past few years and in spite of the resulting not so infrequent "self pity parties", I have to admit that the experience has also forced me to "grow up" in some ways that I might not have otherwise. I've become more compassionate and less judgmental of other people. I've also realized that I'm not a quitter and that I'm actually a hell of a lot stronger than I ever realized or thought when I was younger.

    I do, however, still struggle with a lot of feelings of bitterness and resentment towards the medical profession and, to some extent, toward my family for their lack of support towards me. When these feelings come up I keep trying to remind myself that they didn't (and mostly still don't) know any better. They were (and mostly still are) just as much a prisoner to "conventional wisdom" as I was earlier in my life... But completely letting go of that anger and bitterness is something that I still struggle with...

    As Dr. K is fond of saying, "now that I know better, I will do better" ;) I told my mom recently that my goal was to be able to say "I feel great!" (and truly mean it) when someone asks me how I'm doing!

    Haha! I have cats too, but they're not kittens anymore. My 20lb maine coon is quite fond of water too ;)
  9. nicld

    nicld Gold

    That is exactly how I feel. I have tried everything I knew how to do but still could not "succeed". I ate right and exercised myself to a disorder. I am a little pissed at some of the medical professional I saw. I had one tell me no woman should eat more than 1400 calories no matter how much they workout and another who told me that concentration camp survivors came out of there fairly healthy, WTF!!!!

    I just got 2 new kittens a couple of week ago (Sully and Mr. C Matthews, brothers) after we had to put one down due to old age and my cat got killed by something when she went outside. My kittens are intrigued with the water but don't want to come in. Now my nieces cat that I get her for Christmas TAKES a bath with her. Gets soaking wet at Jade dumps water on her.
  10. cantweight

    cantweight Gold

    I am telling you ladies...we are 3 peas in a pod! I swear I could have written these words...lol! Chubby kid, I remember in the 80's my mom had these diet caramels called Ayds..I loved them, size 12-14 in high school until senior year...was put on prozac and birth control and ballooned to over 200. A little phen fen got me down to 170's, a college waitressing job and tequila diet got me down to 145. Add wellbutrin and trazadone and bi polar diagnosis put me over 250 at age 24, got married at 25 at 165....had a baby, and another and another....havent seen the 100's since 2004.

    I got very ill and recovered from things people often dont. I have stopped dogging myself about my weight....I have moved medical mountains and no longer blame myself for being fat...it is the end result of a big ass mess and i am working on it. I still have to work out my hormone issues and some gut issues....but it is happening....slowly

    I want to punch people in the throat when they tell me I should try weight watchers or nutrisystem. And I loathe that they look at me like I must sit on the couch with a box of donuts every day....but I will get beyond this and amaze them all.

    I am learning so much from you both....and I have begged my husband to buy me that water cooler....great idea!

    Cant wait to hear more :)
  11. caroline

    caroline Moderator

    What a great discussion ladies......

    we learn so much from each other......
  12. Hemming

    Hemming New Member

    I'm looking forward to following your development. It seems like you're doing a lot of things and it will be interesting to how quickly you see improvements.
  13. Jack Kruse

    Jack Kruse Administrator

    This is precisely why the obese need CT........CT is the only way to make adipocytes undergo apoptosis permanently
  14. Hemming

    Hemming New Member

    For how long do you stay in the water at your CT sessions?
  15. Trinity

    Trinity New Member

    On weekdays, I usually stay in 30-40 minutes. On weekends I try to do a bit longer, maybe 45 mins - 1 hour.
  16. Trinity

    Trinity New Member

    Yup, that is why CT has been and will continue to be a huge focus in my journey back to health.

    For anyone else that is obese and interested in why they might have found fat loss virtually impossible to maintain through diet and exercise, this link explains it pretty well. The problem is biology, NOT a lack of willpower!


    I feel like this is an extremely important message that needs to be heard and understood if you are obese. The conventional wisdom approach of eat less and exercise more won't do much more than trash your metabolism and hormone panel over the long term if you don't address the adipocyte hyperplasia problem. The only way to address this problem permanently appears to be cold or liposuction (and lipo probably isn't a viable option if you carry fat all over your body as I do).

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  17. Nathan

    Nathan New Member

    Trinity, love this idea, thank you! I luckily have an extra fridge and have been freezing large blocks of ice myself but it sure is a pain. This looks so much easier. Very happy to hear about your success and best wishes to your continued improvement in your health.
  18. freesia

    freesia Old Member

    Congratulations Trinity!! :D I love your water chilling set-up. How clever and resourceful!
    Anyone questioning their ability to do this needs to read:
    :D :D :D

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