The first time was my daughter’s 3rd birthday. I was standing in line at the Chuck E Cheese counter waiting to order pizza for her party. A woman, whom I had never seen, with a beer in hand (yes, they sell beer at Chuck E Cheese, clearly to appease the adults through the midst of screaming children and blaring buzzers) stepped up to me and patted my lower abdomen.

“When are you due?” She asked all excited as if she were to be the godmother.

Floored, embarrassed and at a complete loss for words I replied, “Ummm, three years ago.”

The next time was at a party for an old friend who was visiting from out of town. Her stepmother smiled a toothy grin and asked, “Oh Heather! When are you due?”

“I’m not.” I chuckled in attempts to ease the discomfort for both of us, “I’m just fat now.” I said it jokingly, but talk about the cryin’ clown syndrome!! I was horrified. I didn’t cry that time as I did the first, but it stung just the same.

The third time I was walking in The Lighthouse Run. Same thing. Same everything. “Nope, just fat.”

Two weeks prior to conceiving my darling, body destroying daughter, I was put on a beta blocker (medicine) for a newly diagnosed heart condition. My doctors thought that is likely the reason I gained over 70lbs during the subsequent 9 months. At 5’6” and about 140lbs I was comfortable wearing a bikini and never really watched what I ate. And exercise? Forget about it! Hated it and never did it intentionally.

Leaving the hospital with new baby in tow, I caught a glimpse of my figure in the large front window. It didn’t even look like the kid was out! I knew giving birth wouldn’t take off 70lbs, but come on!! There was no visible difference whatsoever. And that was after dropping an 8 pound child and starving for three days. But, I was far too messed up in much more severe ways to think about weight loss for at least another month. Seriously, I was a wreck. It was a lengthy recovery, especially for a natural birth.

About 6 months after Cassidy (the body wrecker) came home, I started becoming strangely anxious and jam-packed with fearful thoughts. I was constantly paranoid that I was going to drop dead while home alone with the baby and she would be left abandoned. It consumed me enough to instigate daily panic attacks, which became debilitating. Finally I decided to see a psychiatrist with the consideration of starting a medication. I had been dead set against taking any more daily meds, but I simply couldn’t live like that any longer. I was prescribed Klonopin which ended up being a Godsend. The panic, the worry, the anxiety – gone. And when it would rear its disgusting head, once in a blue moon, it would be super minimal. Klonopin has been rumored all over the internet to cause weight gain. But it changed my life and that is all I was considering – a choice I still do not regret.

A couple years later, I began sensing the depression I had recognized from much earlier in life. I didn’t want to leave the house, talk to anyone and I cried at the drop of a hat. Again, I gave in to medicinal suggestion and was prescribed Cymbalta (an antidepressant). However, it was a new form which affects norepinephrine as well as serotonin and was said NOT to cause any weight gain.

I was on this medication for over 2 years. During that time I had been doing everything and anything to lose weight. I did end up going down about 35 just from my body readjusting and eating healthy foods prior to the Cymbalta. But the last 30-40 would not budge. I tried Weight Watchers, countless weight loss websites, Nutrisystem, Daily Chef, Alli, more and more exercise…just anything you can think of essentially. But, nothing. No results whatsoever. I cannot express the unbearable frustration.

We have a nice 20’ boat which my husband wants to pretty much live on during the summer months. I hated being on it. There was no way I could sport a swim suit and when it got really hot, I could not cool off in the water. I was just so mortified by the way I looked. I felt ashamed and even embarrassed for my husband. His tacky friends used to make crude remarks about my looks (which apparently in man-world is complimentary) but no longer.

Finally, this past February I had just had enough. I knew the medications were effecting the weight loss I had been struggling with for years now. I couldn’t go any lower on the beta blocker as I was (and am) already on the lowest possible dose. I could not give up the Klonopin as it literally saved my life and I never want to go through those panic attacks ever again. So, that left the Cymbalta. I started reading up on Cymbalta and weight issues. Seems I was SO not alone. Yet, the medical professionals (including my prescribing doctor and family doctor) refused to admit it could have any effect whatsoever. I did a butt load of research and decided to wean myself off of the med very slowly and the way doctors suggested.

It was about 5 weeks of pure hell. I was put on Wellbutrin instead, but it didn’t help. I felt nearly suicidal, I was relentlessly furious, cried endlessly and felt physically sick with flu like symptoms the entire time. After those weeks it increasingly progressed. The Wellbutrin seemed to help with the social aspects of the depression and it also gave me more energy, of which I had been consistently depleted for many years. And that is when the weight started to come off. Not by itself, mind you, but it did. I started logging all of my food and fitness on a website called I tried to eat very healthy probably about 80% of the time. I got to the point where I am now of exercising 6 days a week, 30-60 minutes each day. I also started taking Alli again. These are all things I tried over and over in the past with no results. It was painfully clear that Cymbalta was indeed not allowing me to lose weight.

I went off the Cymbalta completely by the end of February. And since March 1st, I have lost 31 pounds and dropped 3 pant sizes. I am continuing the same routine until I lose another 10. After that, I will have to find a good maintenance schedule/diet. Now, I try to stick to under 1200 calories on most days. I know I cannot do that forever. But for now, it seems to be working.

The loss is slowing significantly, but that is to be expected. And it isn’t going up – so that’s good!! But what is even better is the improvement that I actually FEEL. I bought and even wear a new swimsuit. No, not a bikini, not sure if I will ever be that chic again. But I am enjoying the summer more than I have in years. And Charlie is happy that I am getting out on the boat more often. I can jog for more than 30 seconds without puking now and my arms are more toned than pre-pregnancy. I am actually quite proud of myself. Wow. That is the first time I have ever admitted that and I almost just backspaced through it…but no, I am proud. It was hard work and I deserve it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still not body confident. I see pictures of myself from just days ago and see the lingering rolls and double chin and boobs which are still far too big. But at least I am closer to where I might just one day BE body confident. I cannot imagine what that would feel like but I sure as shit am looking forward to it.

Best of all, I don’t think I look remotely pregnant anymore…so hopefully I can look forward to the absence of belly pats and rude ass questions.


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