Marathon runner, can't lose weight, doctors have no more ideas
Please, I really need some help. I'm male, 29, 6'1'' 240 lbs. I've been overweight my entire life. I've seen doctor after doctor with the same advice of "eat less, exercise more." The problem is, I've taken that to the limits and it hasn't helped me.
I've always been athletic. Every time I was told to "eat less, exercise more" I would kick up my activity level and decrease my food intake but it would never seem to help. I picked up running, and ran in multiple marathons. I also started competing in Triathlons. About 6 years ago, convinced that something was really wrong, I started STRICT calorie tracking so I would have some numbers to back up my feelings. Every calorie in and every calorie out is counted, right down to my morning cup of coffee (2 calories, no milk).
Every few months, seeing no improvement in weight, I would reduce calories in, increase activity level, and track those amounts. These efforts hit their peak about 2 months back when I was on a diet of 1500 calories a day, and averaging 1000 calories a day of pure exercise. I was able to keep that level up for 2 weeks before I simply ran out of energy. I lost 0 lbs. I spoke with my doctor who recommended, wait for it, eating less and exercising more. "You know, a 30 minute walk a day makes a world of difference..."
Yesterday I saw a new doctor. I went in with spreadsheets of calorie information, calculations based on several different models of BMR (basal metabolic rate) TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), and other figures. He talked with me for a while, looked over all my numbers and in the end told me he was completely stumped. His advice to me was, quote: "learn to live with it" because I was likely going to be overweight forever. I nearly broke down in his office.
I'm at the end of my rope. At the moment I'm eating about 2000 calories a day and averaging about 900 calories a day of exercise. I'm 16 weeks into marathon training; tomorrow I'm running 17 miles. I'm pretty much at the limits of what my body can take, and I can't keep this going forever. I'm tired all the time, my joints are starting to be a real problem, and I'm only getting older.
Please help, any advice you can offer would be so appreciated. I would travel to another country if it meant seeing someone who specializes in this sort of thing. Really, terribly, desperate for answers.
Common causes of weight gain like overeating, lack of exercise, diabetes, hypothyroidism have to be ruled out in your case. You must then look for other causes. One is water retention due to low serum protein. This along with anemia can cause unexplained weight gain. Adrenal gland problems are the other cause. Cushing’s syndrome should be looked for. The kidney function too should be assessed. Late night snacking and poor sleep too can cause weight gain. If all these causes are ruled out then you can start a diet and exercise program to lose weight. If you want to lose weight, then you must do it the scientific way for long term benefits, healthy glow, and a good physique and body. It's best to join a nutrition expert and a physical trainer and follow their advice. Incorporating yoga into this regimen takes stress out of this exercise to lose weight. Also the diet should contain more of green leafy vegetables, fruits and protein and less of spaghetti, potato etc. I suggest you eat frequent small meals and stop counting calories. It is best to eat lots of fruits and non-starchy green veggies, go slow on fats, eat carbohydrates in moderation and increase your protein intake (lean cuts, whites of eggs etc). Drink plenty of water and non fattening fluids such as clear soups etc. Look for hidden calories in salads and soups and avoid them (eg: cheese, butter, dressings etc).
Also, you need to exercise regularly. Just running marathons may not be the right way for you. A combination of aerobic, strength training and stretches works best. Many people find it difficult to fit an exercise regimen into their lives. The best way is to join a gym. If that is not possible, try building exercise into your daily life. If you lead a busy life, then walk to work, or to bus stand etc, climb stairs instead of using lifts, walk while talking on cell phone, or briskly walk to any place you are going to. See how you can change your lifestyle to incorporate exercise. Hope this helps. Take care!
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