Why Can't I Lose Weight?

May 15, 2020

“Lose weight.” It’s one of the first things you’re told when you’re diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Eat less and exercise more. Just push away from the table and go for a walk.

It’s not only exhausting to hear these things, it’s humiliating and demoralizing. 

I don’t know about you, but when I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I had been counting Weight Watchers points for years. I was exercising as much or more than most of my friends. Yet the first thing my doctor said was “We need to get you skinny.” Really. I’m not making that up. She said those words to me. As if I spent my life lying on the couch eating ice cream.

Fast forward all these many years later and I now understand how insulin resistance affects the body. I know that insulin resistance makes it easier for the body to store carbohydrates/sugar as fat instead of using it in the muscles as available energy. And, oh, so much more difficult to lose weight!

Insulin Resistance causes people with Type 2 Diabetes struggle with weight loss.

Yes, all the exercise I was doing was probably improving my insulin sensitivity, but the low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet I was eating (as recommended by just about every weight loss and medical organization) was working against me as my body just wanted to store all the carbohydrates as fat.

You may also remember this blog post, where I wrote about the weight gain I experienced when I started taking medications for my Diabetes. Adding insult to injury, certain medications for Type 2 Diabetes cause weight gain. These are drugs that lower blood sugar but often cause weight gain, that can make insulin resistance worse. 

The simple recommendation to lose weight, so flippantly tossed out at many medical appointments, is so much more difficult than simply eating less and exercising more. If it really were that simple, we’d probably all look like supermodels, right?

For people with Type 2 Diabetes, it becomes even more complicated. The first things that need to be examined are medications and food choice.

  • Is your medication keeping you from losing weight or possibly even causing you to gain weight? If you think this might be the case, talk to your medical provider to see if there are other options. Many medications for Type 2 Diabetes can actually help with weight loss.
  • Have you reduced your carbohydrates to the lowest level you are willing to maintain for the long term? Are you willing to replace your morning muffin with egg bites? Or try cauliflower rice in place of regular rice with your stir fry? These small changes can add up to big results over the long term. Of course, even larger changes (if you’re willing to maintain them) will lead to even faster and larger results!

No matter the result of your weight loss attempts, the important thing is your health, including your mental health. Feed your body the best food you can. Keep your body active and get adequate sleep. Take time to do things you love and spend time with your favorite people. Yes, losing weight may improve your Type 2 Diabetes. But all these other things are just as important. And doing these things are all part of your overall health. Feel good in your body, even as you take steps to make it healthier, whether or not it cooperates in getting smaller.

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