How Extreme Dieting Damaged My Body

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by Kat Rees |

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Before receiving treatment, navigating Cushing’s disease was extremely difficult for me, not only because of the painful and fatiguing symptoms, but also because I started to gain weight like never before in my life.

I was always a thin person, so this aspect of the disease left me feeling embarrassed. I never had to think about what I ate or how much I exercised before, so I had no clue how to properly diet. One thing I wish I hadn’t done in response was to starve myself and excessively exercise, thinking it would help with weight loss.

Once I started gaining weight, I began eating healthy foods and exercising like anyone who wants to lose weight would. But when that didn’t work and I ended up gaining substantially more weight, I barely ate anything at all.

People close to me didn’t believe me when I told them I was eating only tomato soup and carrots every day. Or that I was going to the gym for an hour each day. I had to show them proof to be taken seriously. Of course, starving yourself is never the correct way to lose weight, and in fact, as I was going through Cushing’s, all it did was hurt my body even more.

Cushing’s disease is hard on the body. The excess cortisol that is produced does some pretty bad things that make exercising even harder. I eventually lost the will to diet due to insatiable hunger, and I had to stop exercising because I eventually couldn’t even walk on a treadmill.

I started to wear knee braces because my knees were painful and always red and swollen with injury. Bone loss due to excessive cortisol is a symptom of Cushing’s, so by extreme dieting, I was really hurting my body. Excess cortisol makes it hard for the body to absorb carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, which the body needs for energy. At that point in my life, I was running on fumes until I simply couldn’t go on that way anymore.

Toward the end of my journey, before having surgery to remove the tumored adrenal gland, I needed help to get out of bed every morning. I was so weak, and all the suffering I experienced from starving myself and exercising excessively amounted to nothing.

When you struggle with Cushing’s, it is nearly impossible to lose weight, which is a diagnosing factor as well. Essentially, I suffered for nothing, as I lost all the weight I had gained naturally with no diet or exercise within a year of my surgery.

I hope anyone out there struggling with their weight due to Cushing’s will make an effort to take care of their body. Be kind to it, feed it the nutrients it needs, and know that one day, all will be well again.

Read more columns by Kat Rees.


Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.


Jane McBride avatar

Jane McBride

I did the same thing before diagnosis, eating under 500 calories a day in a desperate attempt to keep the weight down !


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