This is a huge leap into personal and away from book world, but I get asked about this part of my life quite often—more than I ever expected to.
More than I ever wanted to, if I’m being honest.
But God’s given me this certain peace about it, helping me feel really comfortable talking about it now. And if I start losing weight, my readers notice and get super encouraging and excited for me (um, I just love y’all). They want to know what I’m doing and if I am doing it to lose weight. They want to know if I’ve tried this or that and what exercises I’m doing. If I’ve had weight-loss surgery and if I would consider it (Doctors are very hesitant to operate on someone who has as many long-term health issues as I do, so, no). And since I’m pretty open about the changes I’ve made over the years for health reasons, I’m getting questions more than ever regarding the whys and hows it goings. So, here we are.
But to get into where I’m at now and what I’m doing, we should probably dive into how I got here.
I wasn’t always overweight, and I most definitely wasn’t always morbidly obese.
On the opposite side, I’ve never been toned. I have hyperelasticity in my joints, and it causes my body to use my ligaments instead of my muscles. Meaning: toning cannot happen and many, many ligaments snap and yayyyyyy, grandma body before adulthood. That’s another superlong conversation for a different day, however, I should also add here that ten or so years ago, I very painfully discovered that I have two degenerative discs in my lower back. Those two things combined make exercise a no-go. It’s basically walk, walk, walk, walk, or . . . walk because anything more will land me in the hospital. But take it easy even with walking because the wrong move will leave me in bed for a week, joints like to fall out of socket at random, and remaining ligaments still snap.
It is totally as painful as it sounds.
But I'm clearly a fan of walking . . . and walking. Also movie-quoting. That's a workout, right?
If you’re wondering, my joint and back problems are not something that can be solved with exercise or weight loss—despite what non-specialists have tried to tell me. The hyperelasticity started years before I ever began gaining weight, and my back problems started only about halfway into my weight-gaining journey.
Do I think they wouldn’t hurt as much if I lost weight? Absolutely. But I’ve been working on that for a long time.
Because of my hyperelasticity, I’ve dieted off and on since junior high to get rid of soft bits and to achieve a size-zero status when my curvy body was clearly made for a nine. But junior high and high school Molly (140lbs) didn’t get the memo that you could have big hips and breasts and not be a big girl.
She was ridiculously dramatic . . . shocking, I know.
Also in high school, I had my thyroid removed by radioactive iodine due to emergency circumstances. I gained a bit of weight in the following two years (170lbs), but even though I wasn’t loving those extra thirty pounds, I was a pretty confident person by then.
Then I went to college.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Freshman 15, where kids go off to college and gain fifteen pounds their first year away.
I gained fifty pounds during my first couple months at school. You read that number right. 50. (220lbs)
I panicked. Dieted. Kept gaining. We saw a new endocrinologist (specialist for thyroid) near the school and found out I went the complete opposite way with my thyroid diseases and had Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. Both in such an extreme and rare form, he couldn’t believe I’d had my thyroid removed or that I’d previously had Hyperthyroidism and Graves’.
My medication got switched up (this will be important later). I continued dieting. I dropped some weight. I gained it back plus a little more. Two separate times over the next year and a half, I gained twenty pounds in one weekend. As unbelievable as that seems, it can absolutely happen. Trust me. It’s horrific and devastating. One weekend. Twenty pounds. And it happened twice. Each time, it took months and months to get any of the weight back off, but I somehow always ended up at 230 pounds.
There was a lot that went on and went wrong during this time, thyroid-wise, but we’ll stick to the weight stuff.
I moved to Texas with my now husband and got married, gaining another fifty pounds in the handful of months before moving and getting married (280lbs). Then proceeded to gain another hundred over the next year even though I was barely eating or keeping anything down because of gastrointestinal issues where nothing was ever found to be the cause (380lbs).
Over the next few years, I went up and down before maxing out at 430 pounds when I found out I was pregnant for the fourth time—with twins. We’ve had a lot of heartbreak when it comes to pregnancies. The first three didn’t make it, and we lost the twin in the last pregnancy. But we know every pregnancy, no matter how short, was a gift. And we now have the most beautiful, sassy girl, and we’re beyond thankful for her.
But after having our daughter, I started dropping weight very quickly. I lost 120 pounds in a year doing absolutely nothing but counting calories (310lbs). If you’re wondering, because I got asked this about a hundred times in regards to the weight loss during that time, I was not breastfeeding. If you’re turning up your nose at that, step off your high horse, Regina George, I couldn’t breastfeed for medical reasons. A fed, healthy, and happy baby is what’s important.
Considering all the diets I’d done with little to no results, I was shocked at this turn of events.
However, right at the year mark, it turned right back around.
I was still counting calories. I hadn’t changed a thing. I was just gaining weight again like it was going out of style. I managed to stall out after gaining half of it back, which is much better than all of it, but I was still super down about the entire thing (370lbs).
Disheartened is an understatement.
I even tried cutting out all sugar for a few months, and I do mean all, and that did nothing except make me break out and feel like walking death for that entire time.
I didn’t know what to do because I’d tried almost every diet out there. So, I had a real come-to-Jesus moment with myself and decided that I just needed to be okay with who I was. I needed to love me for me. God had me the way I was for a reason, and I needed to embrace it.
I’ve since found out that the whole dropping weight right after giving birth and gaining it back thing is actually pretty common among thyroid patients.
A little while after my love-me-for-me epiphany, I decided to go Gluten-Free for health reasons. I should have done it long before—actually, Jillian Dodd was the first one to make me realize that I needed to nearly five years before I jumped in, but at least I finally got there!
I felt better instantly.
A lot of people asked if I was losing weight and if I was eating GF to lose weight, but I wasn’t doing either. I just didn’t want to feel like I was dying all the time. Bonus? I didn’t look swollen all over anymore, which was super awesome.
Almost a year later, I began taking a new medication for my severe migraines—which I’ve gotten daily since elementary school. About a week in, I started feeling so wrong. All wrong. I was out to dinner with my friend and couldn’t stay awake, and it was only 7pm.
I got in the car to leave and remember getting out of the parking lot, but then I was suddenly in my neighborhood—a good fifteen minutes away.
Now, I’ve had plenty of those drives where I think, “Man, I barely remember that drive,” or something to that effect, but I legitimately do not know how I got from the restaurant to my neighborhood. It scared me so badly that I slammed on the brakes (thankfully no one was behind me) and then slowly crawled the car home because I could not focus on the road and it felt like the cars parked on the side of it were moving even though I absolutely knew they were stationary.
I immediately told my husband when I got home, saying, “I can’t drive anymore. I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” then called my doctor the next day. He had me stop the new medication, however, my migraines were worse than they had been, so I was taking Excedrin every day—something I don’t usually do. When you grow up with daily migraines, you learn to deal with them and only take O-T-C medication for the really bad ones. These were all truly unbearable.
But over the next two weeks, I continued to get worse.
I couldn’t stay awake. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t walk without stumbling and slamming into walls like I was intoxicated. I was forgetting everything on an extreme level (not like pregnancy brain or mom brain). It took minutes to read through one sentence, and no one could understand me when I spoke, but I thought I was speaking fine. To top it all off, I gained twenty pounds (390lbs).
Then one day, it hit me.
This was college all over again. Everything that was happening was what happened in college (those things I skipped over) mixed with something else. Something I knew only from my husband’s explanations over the years.
Now, this next part might seem irrelevant, but it’s important, so stick with me. It’s crazy how everything tied together and changed my life.
Early in our marriage, I’d been prescribed hydrocodone for something I honestly can’t even remember at this point . . . maybe my back. I took the prescribed dose, and the next thing I remember was waking up in the bathroom to my husband freaking out. He refers to what happened as me turning into a baby because it’s the best way to describe it. I couldn’t make my body move properly. Couldn’t speak. Couldn’t do anything. Ever since, we’ve thought I was allergic to hydrocodone.
Now, when I was prescribed this new medication for my migraines, the pharmacist told us that it had the same dye in it as hydrocodone.
I had literally laughed and asked my husband, “Who cares about dyes?”
Apparently, my body does.
At my revelation, I called the pharmacy. After a very difficult conversation and struggling through typing the dye’s color into Google, I searched it.
One of the first things that popped up? My thyroid medication.
Once I realized I was reading things correctly, I clicked the link and spent hours reading through the site to figure out what it meant.
Well, that dye was obviously in my thyroid medication, but only some of the doses. Specifically, the doses I took in college and my first few years of marriage.
I told you that whole my medication got switched up would be important.
Those were the times when I was not only incredibly sick—similar and worse than what I explained just above—but also gaining weight at a rapid, unstoppable pace, no matter what I ate or how I dieted.
Turns out, that dye was also in the Excedrin I’d been taking every day for those two weeks, so I never actually stopped ingesting it. Which is why I’d continued getting worse after I’d stopped taking the new medication. It was also in other over-the-counter medications I’d been taking off and on over the years from cold meds to anti-inflammatories.
Thankfully, figuring this out was a life-changer because making sure I never took anything with the dye in it again has cut out one of the major causes of inflammation (along with Gluten) in my body and a major cause of weight gain.
Over the next eight months, I very slowly, but surely, lost the twenty pounds I’d gained from the dye (370lbs). But I also started not feeling the best, gut-wise, again. It wasn’t anything like when I was still eating gluten, it was just gradually getting worse when I’d been feeling so much better for a year +. For a handful of months, I toyed with the idea of giving up dairy, but it seemed so much harder than giving up gluten.
I’m Italian (and Irish).
We like cheese.
Like, it’s basically its own food group outside of dairy, right up there with garlic.
However, I knew I needed to at least try since I’d tried pretty much everything else.
So, I did, and oh my gosh, I’m pretty sure my body cried with gratitude.
That dye. Gluten. Dairy . . . GONE.
Once those major causes of inflammation were out of my system, the weight started coming off. I actually lost sixty pounds within a year of going Dairy-Free (310lbs).
I wasn’t doing any sort of diet because I’m honestly over dieting. Besides, I already took out gluten and dairy, I’m allergic or highly sensitive to quite a few other foods, which means I’m basically always reading labels or not eating if we go out somewhere, so I don’t see a point in limiting myself any more with a diet. I’m careful with portion sizes and try to eat healthy the majority of the time, and I treat myself when I want to be treated.
Which, let’s face it . . . if I find a treat that is Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, and delicious . . . I’m absolutely allowing myself that without any guilt because it is rare, rare, rare.
To put it mildly, I was pretty stoked about the weight I’d lost, but I stalled right around 310 for months—five, to be exact.
I tried switching up the things I ate, I increased how long I was walking each day, but the only thing it changed was three pounds over that five months. Even then, I bounced up and down from 307 to 310 that entire time. I kind of freaked when I got to 306, but then I continued my little yo-yo game.
But 300 was right there, in my grasp.
And I wanted it. Badly.
One, it meant just after that, the number in front would be a 2. Two, 300 is exactly halfway to my goal weight of 170 (from 430). Three, I’d been refusing to buy new clothes until I hit 300, and my clothes were hanging off me considering I’d been wearing them since I was nearly 400 pounds.
Then my sister told me she’d been doing Intermittent Fasting for a couple weeks.
I like trying new things, I really wanted to be able to support her, and if it helped kickstart my weight loss again . . . great! So, I decided I’d do it with her.
The morning I began, I woke up to find out I’d broken through that wall I’d been stuck at all on my own (303lbs). I was so pumped and even more excited to start IF.
However, the first two days of Intermittent Fasting sucked.
I felt like death.
But it got easier. By the second week, I actually kind of loved it. Most days, I feel amazing and more energized than ever. Some days, I really just want my DF raspberry mocha as soon as I wake up. But in all honesty, it’s incredible how quickly everything changed.
I'm not as hungry, even during the hours I can eat. My stomach has shrunk considerably, so my portions are even smaller. And on those energized days, I feel like a totally different person.
What I love most of all is that it isn’t a diet and it supports the way I’m already eating.
And, and, and . . . less than a week after I began, I did it.
I stepped on the scale and saw a 2 as the first number for the first time in ten years.
I might have cried.
It’s been a really long journey, and I have a long way to go, but for those of you who are always so excited and invested in what's happening in my life, that’s where I am. And I absolutely love each and every one of you for your encouragement and interest.
I don’t know what will happen. Anyone with thyroid or other autoimmune diseases knows just how difficult weight loss is, and how frustratingly easy weight gain is. But I’m trying. I’ve been trying. And that alone is success.
Each goal on the scale is a beautifully sweet cherry on top.