Living With The Weight Gain Brought On By Prednisone

Let me preface this by saying that I know what causes people to gain weight, I also know how it comes off. This was meant to be a rant about about the frustrations of living on prednisone.

It’s no secret to anyone that people, especially women, have been struggling with their weight since the beginning of time. Some people feel they are to heavy and want to be thinner, while some are insecure about being so thin. And many look back to their younger years when they thought they were “fat” and wish they could go back to that weight. There are a million and one causes for people to gain or lose weight so I am not going to dive into all of them. That being said one MAJOR cause of obesity in the chronically ill community is due to side effects of medication especially prednisone.  It is a fabulous drug for what it does but it sure has nasty side effects, one of which is weight gain.

As if we didn’t deal with enough on a daily basis living with a chronic illness without adding the struggle of our weight.  I don’t know how many times over the last few years that I have been told if I would just lose some weight I would feel better. And while that is a valid opinion it just isn’t that easy.  If I could snap my fingers and lose 20lbs or more I would do it. And I would do it in a heartbeat! But sadly that isn’t the way it works. And if anyone tells you that the weight you gained from steroids will just fall off after you stop taking steroids, they are LYING!!! Because the weight doesn’t just FALL OFF. It takes time and a strong concentrated effort to get the weight off.  One of the most common side effects of Prednisone is weight gain and redistribution of weight. Meaning you will gain weight in new places. Like in your face, you may develop a moon shaped face. Yep, that’s fun. Or you may develop a hump at the top of your back. Yep, also fun. But people don’t know that your change in weight is from steroids and most will assume the worst.

I don’t know how many times since I have taken steroids that I threatened to start carrying a sign saying “I am not overweight because I am lazy, I am overweight because of Prednisone.” While I know this would do no good, it is tempting. When people see a person who is overweight it is easy for many to make a snap judgement and assume that they are overweight simply because they sit around and eat donuts and never exercise.  They don’t think about the fact that they might be overweight because they are taking medication to treat our life altering conditions and gained weight because of the medication.  Medications have side effects that cannot be eliminated. And yes some of us may not exercise. But that is also because of our condition. Some days it is hard to just get out of bed much less spend thirty minutes exercising.  I’m sorry, but drinking the zucchini, spinach, blueberry, and pomegranate smoothie with aloe, acai, flax and the freshly ground dried toad does not make weight fall off. (This was sarcasm and not recommended for actual consumption.😊)

I know what some of you are thinking. She just doesn’t want to take the blame.  It is easier to blame a medication than it is to take the blame on her lack of exercise and poor food choices. And there is some validity to that. Yes, I may not exercise like I should. But that isn’t the point. My whole point here is that people as a whole need to think before they make such big assumptions about people. Just because we are overweight doesn’t mean we are lazy. It could be that we are treating a severe condition with very HIGH dose steroids with hope that we will just get better.  Sometimes we have no choice but to take the medicine because our body is to busy trying to kill us.  We take these medications in hope that maybe, just maybe, we can find some kind of a normal life again.  So today, I carry extra weight.  Do I long for the days when I was thinner? Yes!!! Yet I also know that this weight symbolizes battles I have fought and will continue to fight.  I will struggle with this now because of a chronic illness I didn’t ask for.  I will struggle because my options are take the medication or let my body attack and kill me.  Before you make an assumption about my weight or anyone’s…. just pause.

With Love,

Amber

How Many Times Have you Heard, “Just Lose Some Weight”?

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard over the course of my life that losing weight would help, I would be a rich rich women by this point in life. Yes, I know that getting to and staying at a healthy weight is important! So is eating the right foods and exercise. But in the long run will losing weight really fix or cure your health issues? Yes, I’m sure it probably will help some. But it’s not going to fix everything!! People like to throw that comment out for every issue. Oh you have headaches, lose some weight! Oh you have IBS, lose some weight! Oh you aren’t having any luck dating, lose some weight. Oh you’re having problems getting pregnant, lose some weight. I assume in the majority of cases people truly do not mean to be a Debby downer by telling others this. But they also probably have no idea how it feels to hear that from people you loved and respect, and expect some sensitivity from. If you’ve never struggled with your weight you have no idea how it feels for a friend or family member to direct those three words at you. “LOSE SOME WEIGHT!”

As a person who has struggled with my weight since High School I understand what a touchy topic this can be. I look back at my teen years and would give anything to be back at that weight now. But sadly that Amber was about 40lbs ago. But I didn’t just get fat due to poor choices and lack of proper food, just like many other chronically ill. Most of us probably took the DEVIL drug, aka Prednisone. Yes, prednisone fixes many many things. But it is also known to cause weight gain due to the cravings many deal with while taking the medication! And not like 3lbs weight gain. We are talking like 25, 50, 75 lbs. And it came on FAST. Your symptoms are mostly gone but now you got all the bonus weight. Sigh. The weight no one wants.

But it’s not just Prednisone that causes weight gain. Hormones often used for birth control can also cause weight gain, as well as Lyrica which is used to treat fibromyalgia! There are many many more that can cause weight gain. The point I’m trying to make here is that every over weight person you see did not just sit on the couch eating chips and watching Netflix all day! Even though that is what people automatically assumes, it is not always the case.

Did anyone think that maybe those of us who gained weight while on Prednisone might deal with a LOT of daily pain or extreme exhaustion!?!? Have you ever lived with so much widespread pain that literally every joint, bone and muscles hurt so bad that it’s torture even getting out of bed. Much less taking a walk or going to the gym. Does anyone consider the fact that many of us who are over weight can’t stand the way we look and can’t look at ourselves in the mirror. Many of us who have gained weight due to medical conditions or medications never asked for this. We didn’t just give up on ourselves and sit and eat chocolate all day. We got sick!!! And because of that many have taken medications that can cause rapid weight gain that doesn’t come off easily.

There are also those in the chronically ill community that gained weight because of the pain. They may have not felt like being the most active person. Every step, every tiny movement make your whole bodg ache. Then when someone throws out the “just lose some weight,” comment and you just wish they could live in your shoes for 24 hours so they know what’s it’s like. It’s honestly really hard to do anything at times, even low impact exercise can hurt! So what I am saying is when you already hurt in places you didn’t know could hurt the last thing you want to do is “hit the gym!”

If you really think you are giving offering up some groundbreaking piece of advice to work out and eat healthy. YOU ARE NOT! We’ve heard it from family and friends and even the doctors. I will admit the best I’ve ever felt was when I wasn’t walking in the morning before it got hot and ate a diet low on gluten. (gluten has been found to mess with inflammation in everyone.) It just wreaks havoc with the chronically ill. But let’s be honest eating healthy can be really expensive! And no that’s not a cop-out, but if you have ever tried to eat a gluten free diet, it’s hard at first and it’s expensive. And let’s be honest until you are ready to make a big change it isn’t going to happen. We are the only ones who can decide that we need to change the way we eat &/or our activity level. No one else can do it for us.

I guess the takeaway from my rant and rambling is that I wish people would work on their delivery. If you are kind and truly concerned about my wellbeing, I’m going to be more apt to listen to you. More than I will listen to the person who just tells me I’m fat and I need to lose weight. It’s not a surprise I know what I look like. I understand that research shows “When patients lose 5-29 percent of their body weight, the symptoms of chronic Conditions will improve!”Per the Cleveland Clinic. I know this but sometimes just getting your body moving and making that first move is the hardest part.