Down 10 pounds, 20 more to go

One month ago, I was heavier than ever.  After Norfolk Terrier Rigby died last August, I’ve walked less. I cancelled my once-a-week exercise with a professional trainer because it was a waste of money to work out so infrequently (how’s that for logic?) I joined the Y in my neighborhood, but hate getting on the treadmill.

So, what did I do? I worked 10 hours most days, ate little during the daylight hours, then would devour ice cream, chocolate covered graham crackers, pretzels, nuts, almond croissants, cheese and goodness knows what else at night while I stressed out over everything that’s happening in the world.

When I went to Dr. Smith to talk about the results of my blood work (everything was surprisingly good), I sheepishly asked him if he’d write me a prescription for phentermine to help me lose weight. He didn’t hesitate. And out I walked, excited to make a beeline to Duane Reade to pick up my miracle pills.

Now I’m 10 pounds lighter and one-third of the way towards my goal weight. I’d surely have lost at least a few pounds more if I had exercised, but I’ve vowed that I will start walking rigorously once I’m at the halfway point to my goal. I have no idea why I’m waiting, by the way. My mind works in funny ways sometimes.

OK, what’s phentermine?

As simply put as possible, phentermine is  a form of amphetamine (stimulant) that does something in the brain to suppress the appetite. And it works. It really works. Phentermine doesn’t kill your appetite, so you still eat, including some no-no foods, but I’ll literally eat maybe a tablespoon of ice cream once or twice a week. I haven’t had a single graham, pretzel, piece of cheese or almond croissant in a month. Or a pat of butter, and oh do I love any kind of warm bread and butter!

“Phentermine increases your metabolic rate and takes away your perseverating thoughts (constant thoughts) about food, which makes it much easier to adhere to a diet. You still must pick a dietary strategy that will work well with your personality and your lifestyle and stick to it. And you still have to exercise. Phentermine will help you succeed, but you can’t eat like you did in the first place,” said Dr. Kathleen Hallinan, an internist in Corning, NY, who has a keen interest in weight loss.

The warnings on the sheet that comes with the phentermine are no different than those that come with every drug and are written to try and protect the pharma companies from being buried by mountains of lawsuits. I did feel a bit jittery the first couple of days and my mouth gets dry for a few hours a day, but otherwise I feel the same as I did pre-phentermine.

Despite the benefits, some doctors are wary!

“You may have a hard time finding a physician who is willing or interested in treating with phentermine because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) puts it in the same category as amphetamines, which makes some doctors wary,” Dr Hallinan explained. “But the benefits outweigh the real risks of diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease to people who are trying to manage their weight,” she added. Dr. Hallinan recommends finding a doctor who is well versed in the medical treatment of obesity and related disorders, such as a bariatric physician.  “Phentermine is very safe, very effective and more subtle than ritalin for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but patients should have their blood pressure and heart rate consistently monitored after they start taking the drug,” she emphasized.

Dr. Kathleen Hallinan talks about phentermine, one of the weight loss medications she recommends

If the name phentermine sounds familiar, you may be thinking of a drug that combined phentermine with fenfluramine, another drug that was subsequently found to affect heart valves and was taken off the market.

Don’t buy phentermine off the internet, Dr. Hallinan advised. “Get it the proper way from a doctor who will give you the right dose, make sure to monitor you for potential side effects, and for your success.”

I’ve taken phentermine two or three other times in my life to kickstart weight loss, and it worked those times, too. I lost at least 20 pounds each time. I well know that I shouldn’t have let my weight yo-yo like it has over the last 15 years, and I’m going to try not to let that happen again.   But I’ve been struggling with weight issues for as long as I can remember and food always seems to win the match!