Doctors Couldn’t Find A Reason Why She Rapidly Gained 100 Pounds Until She Found It Herself
According to Harvard Medical School’s Weigh Less, Live Longer: Strategies for Successful Weight Loss report, people generally become overweight because of the imbalance of calories consumed versus calories burned. That creates a simple equation for losing weight or maintaining a healthy body size. But there are rare instances when an individual does not have control over their weight due to underlying factors even doctors can overlook. Those can drug side effects, illnesses, and genetic disorders, each sometimes resulting in sudden and rapid weight gain.
Teens experience enough pressures and social stressors when weight is not an issue. Add rapid, unexplained weight gain to that mix of stressors and life can suddenly become very difficult and isolating for any teenager.
Lizzie Denison-Ward is now 20 years old and living a seemingly healthy and happy young adult life in the United Kingdom. What you cannot see by just looking at her today is that she struggled with an intense weight problem for two years. That, despite her otherwise healthy lifestyle and formerly slender physique.
In November 2013, Lizzie started gaining weight. Many teenage girls do, at that age when their bodies have stopped growing and they emerge from school mandated physical activity into only personally-motivated fitness. At around 18 years old, most young women must take control of their own bodies and learn how their physical selves react to calories and exercise. This learning period comes at a time when upward growth generally slows or has ended altogether.
In two years, formerly slender Lizzie gained 98 pounds. In a panic and highly frustrated by the physical changes, she sought her doctor’s advice. As is true for most patients, Lizzie’s diagnosis was that of slowing metabolism due to diminished growth and the transition from childhood to being an adult. The angst-ridden young woman was told to simply eat fewer calories.
Lizzie limited herself to 1000 calories per day to comply with her doctor’s recommendation. But nothing changed, except for a rash appearing on her face.
Concerned about her body’s reaction to calorie restriction and with something nagging in the back of her mind, Lizzie decided to look into other possible reasons for her weight gain. She ultimately paid for an MRI scan of her brain, despite no doctor recommendation or concern about any neurological issues.
Amazingly, Lizzie’s instincts were correct. A 4mm tumor was found in her brain, on her pituitary gland. This was the cause of her weight gain and prevented her from losing weight, despite strictly following the equation for weight loss, of more calories burned than consumed.
Armed with the MRI results of this tumor on her pituitary, Lizzie’s correct diagnosis was provided by doctors. It was Cushing’s disease, a potentially fatal illness when left undiscovered.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Cushing’s Syndrome provides several tell-tale symptoms. Those include rapid weight gain with a high concentration of that weight building around the midsection, upper back, between the shoulders and in the face. The skin becomes thinner and bruises easily, often with acne problems developing, cuts healing slowly and rashes or infections are not going away as they normally would. On the abdomen, thighs, breasts and arms, pink or purple stretch marks often appear, as well.
After having her tumor removed, Lizzie feels much better and has shed much of the excess weight. Within the first five weeks, she lost over 20 pounds. Her healthy and natural lifestyle, as before the weight gain, is rapidly resulting in a return to normal.
In most cases, a naturally healthy and balanced lifestyle with regular exercise provides for a healthy physique. Lizzie is an exception to that rule of normalcy, in that she had an underlying disorder. However, now that her primary cause of weight gain has been addressed and her body is returning to her ideal weight, she is able to continue living a happy, healthy life as a young adult.