High cortisol - nothing working for weight loss. Help wanted.

allicamp27
allicamp27 Posts: 4
edited October 2014 in Health and Weight Loss
Hi, it's my first time ever participating in a message board, so I hope I'm doing this right. After 8 months of strict exercise and healthy eating I have lost 0 pounds. My doctors are officially "stumped" - their words, not mine. I'm just extremely frustrated. I'm wondering if anyone out there might have some ideas, thoughts or experience that might help provide a new direction towards weight loss results for me. Any help would be appreciated, so here's the facts (though quite long, *apologies*) of what I've been doing the last 8 months and medical history that is relevant. I'm putting everything out here in the event it helps someone connect the dots.

- 2007: constantly ill with head colds, sinus infections, eyelids would swell with red rash. Diagnosed with allergies to dust. Starting taking claritin, zrytec in the morning with a benadryl at night to control allergic reactions.

- 2009: my weight got out of control (reached 245lbs), had pain in right flank & was diagnosed with fatty liver. Experienced severe memory loss due to high levels of ammonia in my blood. I routinely was tired, with muscle/bone aches, my hair would fall out and nails would break/tear. My skin look pretty crapy too. Started P90X, followed the P90X diet and completed 3 rounds losing 55 pounds bringing my weight down to 190lbs. Healthy eating habits were established (lean protein, low complex carbs, high veg) plus I started taking vitamins regularly (B complex, multi-vitamin, iron, k, d, DMEA). I couldn't break through plateau of 190lbs.

- 2010 through 2012: couldn't lose weight despite trying different exercise programs or varying my diet. Weight would range from 190 to 210 depending on how often I would exercise. I could never get lower than 190 though....

- Continuing to feel like crap, in March 2012 diagnosed by blood test with celiacs (on gluten free diet since that diagnosis) - felt amazingly better, dark circles under my eyes were gone, things were looking up but my weight did NOT budge.

- In July thru August 2013 I tried a extra low calorie diet (Bob Harper's Jumpstart to Skinny) to break through the plateau. It worked and I lost 15 pounds eating 900 calories a day. I went from 200 to 185 breaking thru the 190 barrier for the 1st time. However it went back to 190 in 2 weeks (even though I continued with proper diet and exercise as the book recommends.)

- December 2013 proved a busy month for me work-wise and I let my exercise lapse by January 2014 I had gained 20lbs in 4 weeks. My food had not varied greatly from what I had done previously, just lack of exercise.

- January 2014 @ 210lbs: determined to fix my weight problem once and for all I planned to leave my job in February and focus 100% on diet and exercise. In january I focused on a daily workout schedule of 45 mins per day with a diet of 1350 calories. Once I left my job (and for the next 7 months I did 30 minutes of P90x3 plus 2.5 miles in the morning (before breakfast) and 2.5 miles in the evening after dinner. I'd add in yoga and pilattes plus step 3 times a week.

- I had my RMR done in April 2014 and it determined an optimum calorie intake of 1350 to 1550 for weight loss. I continued with my gluten free, 40% protein, 40% carb, 20% fat diet.

- June 2014: after not losing weight my doctor ran tests for hypothyroidism. It came back within the "normal" range but because I had numerous symptoms of hypo, she put me on a low dose of levothyroxine to help my body convert T4 to T3 optimally to help weight loss/ metabolism. I feel better on it, have more energy.

- By August 2014 I had lost 0 pounds. It seems my body is not converting fat stores and muscle growth is not significant (no matter how many squats or push-ups I do).

Further testing commenced and here are the results: cortisol is high, cholesterol is fine, no diabetes, liver is good, and I have low blood pressure. Dexamethasone suppression test for Cushings came back negative.

I don't know what to do now. Do I try working out 5 to 6 times a day? Do I try a riskier diet like that HCG stuff? Is there some secret to boosting your metabolism that I haven't tried yet? Is there something medically going on that the doctors are missing?

Any help or insight is appreciated. If you made it to the end of the post, THANK YOU for taking the time.

I'm so desperate to be healthy, happy and active. I miss running around WITHOUT the 55+ pounds of additional weight that's on my body. Prior to the age of 25, I maintained a healthy weight of 135 and a six pack (good muscle tone). I so want to return to having an active lifestyle and this weight just keeps dragging me down.
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Replies

  • Aine8046
    Aine8046 Posts: 2,122 Member
    How do you know how much are you eating? Do you weigh your food?
  • allicamp27
    allicamp27 Posts: 4
    edited October 2014
    I forgot to put notes on my current nutrition - whoops! I weigh portions and....

    I try to grow most of my food. What I don't grow I purchase local veg at farmers markets (year round here in CA). I do eat legumes but I do not eat processed food of ANY kind with the 1 exception of gluten free pasta 1 time per month as a treat. I have 1 fruit portion at breakfast per day, 1 to 3 glasses of wine per week otherwise no additional sugar. I purchase grass fed locally raised meat or bison, organic & hormone free chicken. Grains/starchy carbs that I consume are (in order of greatest use to least used): rice, rice thins, sweet potatoes & regular, yams, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, polenta, pirates booty.

    I allow myself 1 meal a week to eat out and enjoy different foods but that is often limited by the whole gluten free thing (I do get a desert though!) I do like wine but I try to enjoy with moderation.

    AND here's a list of supplements that I am presently taking:

    Ultra Omegas DHA 500mg/EPA 200mg by Countrylife
    HI potency B complex (time release) by Countrylife - all B vitamins
    Daily multi vitamin by Countrylife
    Iron 25 mg
    Vitamin D
    Vitamin E
    Vitamin K
    Maxi hair plus by Countrylife
    DMAE

    Allergy meds-

    Benadryl (2 @ night)
    Zyrtec (1 in the morning)
    Claritin (1 in the morning)
  • yarwell
    yarwell Posts: 10,479 Member
    I wouldn't do vigorous exercise every day if cortisol and stress is an issue, when does your body get to repair itself. You have a long list of carby foods and 40% protein is at the top end - have you considered a reduced carbohydrate higher fat approach ?

    Something like 40P / 20C / 40F perhaps to start with, although 30/10/60 is more "mainstream" LCHF eating.
  • Liftng4Lis
    Liftng4Lis Posts: 15,151 Member
    can you open your diary?
  • I am also having success with a low carb, high fat approach. If you would like to message me, I'll help you. I can suggest resources so you can learn more about it as well. All the best.
  • funchords
    funchords Posts: 413 Member
    Since you have nothing left to lose, I'd start over. Your effort is too complicated, there are too many variables. Although exercise is important, 80% of weight loss is diet.

    1. 1350 calories (eat up to 1550 only if you have 200+ cals of exercise)
    2. Light cardio only 3x-5x week - nothing punishing that gets the heart above 75% of max for your sex/age or that builds new muscle.
    3. Make sure you're getting a healthy amount of fats (20-40% of calories from fats -- treat it like a target -- not too much or too little). OK to average it over a week.
    4. Continue with the garden vegetables.

    That's it. Stop the other efforts. Stop the supplements unless you can identify via a lab test something essential that you're definitely missing. The goal here is to stop the difficult program and the stressing -- which creates cortisol and turn this into a gentle enjoyable effort.
  • SweatLikeDog
    SweatLikeDog Posts: 272 Member
    Crank up your omega 3s to start. Also, read the Metabolic Typing Diet by William Wolcott.
  • WalkingAlong
    WalkingAlong Posts: 4,926 Member
    There's very little mention of calories in that. Are you actually eating 1350-1550 every day, not just assuming that 'eating healthy' and exercising is probably good enough?
  • Thanks all so much for the responses! I'm overwhelmed and very appreciative. I'll do my best to answer questions here:

    Yarwell: I've been hesitant to consider a low carb, high fat approach - I guess I'm afraid that I'll gain more weight from the higher fat content (I realize this isn't scientifically correct but when you're as heavy as I am you hate the idea of adding to the problem!) You & GardenGoddess have both recommended it, so it is definitely something I am going to thoughtfully consider as it is helpful to hear that others have had success. Perhaps fat is what my body is craving?

    Lifting4Lis: I just joined MFP yesterday when I posted this, so there isn't anything to share. I've been using my own calendar/notes system to track food and activity for years now and the Nike+ app. This is what my doctor's been reviewing, unfortunately there's no easy way to share that out.

    Funchords: I agree with you. I think over the years my diet plan has become a snowball falling downhill, growing more complicated with every spin and picking up snow. The vitamins I take are all due to deficiencies in my blood (the doc put me on them years ago and it is monitored every 6 months to make adjustments). The cortisol is a recent diagnosis and I'm learning from various articles that heavy exercise may not be the best thing. You advice reflects this - thanks!

    SweatLikeDog: thanks - I'll definitely take a look!

    WalkingAlong: not certain what you're asking.

    Thanks all - really appreciate the help and insights!!! :smiley:
  • lioness2307
    lioness2307 Posts: 16 Member
    Hi there: I agree with the others in that your body is probably stressed out right now. Give it a rest.
    1. You need to bring the cortisol down. Your body is in constant fight or flight mode and won't let go of the weight if the cortisol stays that high. So no stress, no caffeine, less exercise and adequate sleep.
    2. Low-carb, high fat. Yes. From what you're telling us here, this may sound like an option to pursue. Keep your blood sugar low and stable.
    3. Tracking adequately. You are already doing that. Daily calorie allowance should be reasonable, not starvation-mode low.
    4. Allergies: that's an interesting point. I have only ever heard of 1 tablet/day for hayfever. I am obviously not a doctor, so would suggest further tests to look into some of the bigger issues - maybe test for Adrenal Fatigue, Hashimoto's...

    Good luck!
  • WalkingAlong
    WalkingAlong Posts: 4,926 Member
    I was asking if you count calories daily and stick to your goal range of 1350-1550. A lot of people think it's enough to count one day or one week and think "That was 1500 and about what all my days are like, so I'm sure I'm eating around 1500 a day all the time. I don't need to actually count." But the act of counting itself does make us eat less.

    If you think you're eating 1500 AND counting you're probably eating at least 1700 due to normal human measurement error. If you think you're eating 1500 and NOT counting/logging, you're probably over 2000.

    If you think you're eating 1500 because you eat 2500 and 'exercise off' 1000, that's a problem, too.

    Eating 'right' and exercising your butt off won't do anything for weight loss unless you're in a caloric deficit.

    And I agree that your exercise level is hurting you and probably hindering your weight loss. Five workouts a week is good for you. Twenty-five isn't.
  • VelveteenArabian
    VelveteenArabian Posts: 758 Member
    You need to get your cortisol down. Have your adrenals checked.

    I'm in a similar situation as you. The levo helped me lose some but now I'm at a new plateau.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,508 Member
    I'm going to suggest it's stress and lack of sleep (even though I know nothing of your life outside of the gym and your sleeping habits).

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png
  • MelodyandBarbells
    MelodyandBarbells Posts: 7,636 Member
    I was asking if you count calories daily and stick to your goal range of 1350-1550. A lot of people think it's enough to count one day or one week and think "That was 1500 and about what all my days are like, so I'm sure I'm eating around 1500 a day all the time. I don't need to actually count." But the act of counting itself does make us eat less.

    If you think you're eating 1500 AND counting you're probably eating at least 1700 due to normal human measurement error. If you think you're eating 1500 and NOT counting/logging, you're probably over 2000.

    If you think you're eating 1500 because you eat 2500 and 'exercise off' 1000, that's a problem, too.

    Eating 'right' and exercising your butt off won't do anything for weight loss unless you're in a caloric deficit.

    And I agree that your exercise level is hurting you and probably hindering your weight loss. Five workouts a week is good for you. Twenty-five isn't.

    Yep! The basics. I know you're dedicated, so it should be easy peasy Ms. Original Poster to put in the work to find out if you're in a calorie deficit. Read these:

    http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/1296011/calorie-counting-101/p1

    http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/1234699/logging-accurately-step-by-step-guide/p1

  • Hi @ Walkingalong - yes I count daily with Calorie Counter app and I have the goal set to 1350 daily and eat to that amount knowing that human error can cause lots of issues! So, agree completely.

    Thanks to this community I'll be cutting the workouts down significantly to work on the cortisol level and work on evening out the blood sugar levels with a lower carb, higher fat diet. These have all been awesome suggestions - thank you!
  • msmi1970
    msmi1970 Posts: 60 Member
    Hi,

    Low Carb, High Fat has been effective for me, BUT, I suggest you do your research before trying it.

    From what I understand, it is considered an inflammatory diet and may raise your cortisol levels even further.

    I have crazy high C Reactive Protein levels due to chronic inflammation (as a result of long term T2 diabetes) but 3 weeks after starting LCHF my levels rose even higher!! My cardiologist is allowing me to persist with it because it has profoundly helped regulate my Blood Sugar which is the most critical issue I have.

    I am testing my cortisol levels in a couple of days as I read that LCHF affects that as well.

    So, as I said, you might want to read up on it and make a considered decision.

    Hope it all works out for you!!
  • stevehawkins99
    stevehawkins99 Posts: 6 Member
    you looks your eating a lot of carbs and fibre.. and not enough protein..

    I only eat high carbs when im bulking and putting on muscle weight..

    You need a ratio more like 40% Carbs / 40% protein / 20% good fats...

    On the cortisol level your in a catch 22... you sound pretty stressed which raises cortisol which is making you more stressed increasing it further... cotisol is a big factor in fat storage.

    On the training side also add some weight training to your cardio
  • dbmata
    dbmata Posts: 12,952 Member
    You workout 5 or 6 times a day?

    That's a little much.
  • Flab2fitfi
    Flab2fitfi Posts: 1,349 Member
    Cannot offer any advice but my hubby is in the same boat - both docs and PT can not find any reason for weight gain . He does have raised cortisol to being very stressed a work. Finally changed jobs and dropped hours and its slowly coming off.
  • Hrafinhyrr
    Hrafinhyrr Posts: 7 Member
    Have your doctor check to see if you have a vitamin d deficiency. Its a simple blood test and it could be an issue for you. I know I have had issues with my vitamin d level and when it is low am not only extremely fatigued it also throws my metabolism out of whack. There has been lots of research done about how important vitamin d is to over all health and metabolism.