Lupus and Weight Loss

Kellie McRae avatar

by Kellie McRae |

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weight loss and lupus


Daily, we are bombarded with weight loss ads promoting the latest powder, pill, or apparatus that help us achieve that thin look we seem to think is better than the way we look now. I’ve always found many of the methods being advertised interesting; they rarely offer any real health value beyond, possibly, making you thin.

Among the symptoms of lupus, one of the things I actually missed noticing was the weight loss. People would see me and ask how often I was going to the gym. They wanted to know what I was eating and described me as “looking great.” I honestly had no idea my weight was dropping, partially because the number on the scale never mattered much to me; I focused more on living life and enjoying as much of it as possible. That included eating out at restaurants, chomping down great appetizers at social gatherings, and so on. I was not overweight by any stretch of the imagination, but was not considered thin. Being a “thick girl” at just over 5’7″ and 170 pounds, I was happy.

The first time I was sent to the hospital, and stepped onto the scale there, was September 2015; the next time was just a little more than a month later, and my weight was in the 150s. This felt strange but still OK, and since I wore a lot of dresses, I didn’t require new clothes. Having always been a fairly healthy person, and loving to try new foods, I would still often opt for baked, broiled or grilled. When cooking at home, there would always be a healthy option on my plate. Nothing about my habits for eating had changed, yet weight loss was evident. No alarm bells for me yet, although there should’ve been.

‘Scary’ weight loss

By the time January rolled around, my curvy 170-pound body had melted away to 112 pounds. It was scary. Clothes in my closet no longer fit, and there was no desire to shop for anything new — heck, my energy to shop had gone, too. I’d already, at this point, started paying strict attention to not just eating but to everything. A bit of a social media junkie, whenever I shared photos of myself online I would get a minimum three or four private messages. They would either say the person was concerned with whatever was being done to lose this weight, or they would want to know what I was doing so they could mimic it. I would, of course, reveal that no active attempt was being made to lose weight, and would not recommend whatever was happening to me to anyone.

Upon being diagnosed, it was time to start talking more and more about the foods on my table, and why a lot of things were no longer being eaten. Sadly, people say they want to lose weight, but many would prefer to do so in a very unhealthy way, as opposed to making sacrifices to be thinner in a healthy manner. I would love to have my 170-pound body back. For one, I had a backside. Being ultra-thin comes with a lot of downsides, one of which is not being able to sit for any length of time, because I am pretty much sitting on my backbone and that is quite uncomfortable. Since lupus steals a lot of your energy, standing for any length of time can also be a challenge. Partly, this is because when lupus steals your weight, it does so by eating away at the muscle.

Here’s my point — thin does not equal healthy. If you are losing weight rapidly with no explanation, there is cause for alarm. The same can also be said for rapid weight gain. If you are experiencing either of these, contact your physician (I may sound like one of those pharmaceutical commercials, but it’s true). Something is a little off-kilter.  At 150 pound, my prevailing thought was that whatever’s happening is great, but now I realize that losing weight with no real change in eating or exercise habits is cause for alarm. When I now notice people who appear to be losing weight rapidly, I wonder if I should send them a private message, as some did for me.

Note: Lupus News Today 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 Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.