Weight, Body Image, and Cannabis

I have struggled with body image issues my entire life. Yo-yo dieting, along with unhealthy and extreme measures to fit a certain “look.” Being diagnosed with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease at a young age didn’t help. Low thyroid slows the metabolism and makes weight management difficult. An emotional eater, I would fluctuate from periods of anorexia, bulimia, and over-eating all based on what the rest of my life was doing. Since the age of 18, I have gained and lost 40 or more pounds at least four times.

At 26 years old in 2000, I joined a weight-loss challenge in my office. Several of us joined a friendly competition to get fit over a period of 16 weeks. Each week, we would weigh in with a witness, and the person who lost the least amount of weight was awarded “The Phatty Award” which was a plaque that had to be displayed visibly on our desks. Humiliation is potent motivator – I lost 40 pounds.

I managed to keep the weight off for a couple of years before I started packing it back on. In 2007, while working in Des Moines, Iowa, a local publication advertised they were going to conduct a fitness challenge. I was already familiar with challenges like these and I knew the accountability of “going public” would motivate me to stick with it. Several groups of co-workers from various downtown businesses joined to compete in a very public fitness challenge. In addition, the magazine wanted to put together a group of complete strangers to compete against the groups which knew each other. I was chosen to be on the group of strangers.

The rules included a weekly reporting of our weight (honesty method). At the end of four weeks, four of the eight teams were eliminated at an official weigh-in at the newspaper office. I was going to the gym at least 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. I did cardio in the mornings before work, I did weight lifting over the lunch hour. On weekends, I attended a boot camp fitness class in my hometown. On week 7, one week before the end of our competition, one of our teammates admitted she had been lying the entire month and had actually gained weight. We had one week before the official weigh-in… as a competitor, I wasn’t going to lose. If you’ve watched a wrestler prepare for a meet weigh-in, then you know what I went through that week – nutrition went out the window, hot suits to sweat out water weight, saunas, body wraps, and extreme calorie and water deprivation for 7 days.

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But… our team won.

By 2009-2010, I was struggling with weight gain and body-image issues again. Despite winning the fitness challenge and having my 15-minutes of fame, losing my father to cancer in 2008 affected my emotional health, and suddenly the gym and fitness competitions were no longer a priority. Except, now I knew my potential, the frustration of not being able to lose weight added to my despair. I eventually went to my doctor and asked for help.

I remember the appointment well, I broke into tears telling “Dr. PillPusher” how ashamed I was, how much I regretted letting myself get so badly out of shape. The way he responded stuck with me…

“Kristi, I can prescribe you something to help you lose weight. We’ll use Phentermine, it’s pretty common and should help you get the jumpstart you need. But take a word of advice… try just pushing yourself away from the dinner table a little sooner.”

I was stunned and offended. I couldn’t even speak, but I walked out of his office with a prescription for legal meth. Phentermine is a dangerous weight loss drug which often results in heart failure, but at 36 years old and struggling with self-esteem, I didn’t care. Regardless of the risks associated with taking the drug, I took it anyway because my “dealer” told me it was safe, and I was desperate for the results it promised. The drug helped me lose weight for sure… by exacerbating my eating disorder. I lost 24 pounds in less than 6 weeks and over the course of the next 4 months I would lose 65 pounds.

The side effects from Phentermine included heart palpitations, agitation, irritability, insomnia, and an incredibly clean house. Most times I couldn’t sleep, so I found myself cleaning in the middle of the night. When I did try to sleep, I clenched my jaw so bad, I’d wake up in pain. It was meth… legal meth provided by a trusted physician who told me it was ok.

I met my husband in 2012, and we married in 2013 and moved to Minnesota. While we lived in up north, I admit… we had too much expendable cash. We had an incredible social life in Minnesota, and I made a lot of money in my job as an IT Manager, and our waistlines suffered. Our lives revolved around what we were eating, where were going, and who we were meeting for supper. With my husband’s medical issues, my job, and my mother’s diagnosis of cancer - the stress mounted, and we both gained a lot of weight. We were binge drinkers and often would come home work to drink a bottle of wine or three or four drinks to unwind. Weekends were always filled with food and drink. At one point in time in Minnesota, I had ballooned up to 225 pounds.

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Responsible Cannabis Therapy

When we moved to Colorado and discovered responsible cannabis therapy in 2016 for my husband’s chronic pain and legal opiate addiction, we had no idea the other benefits we would see. Who knew adding a daily regimen of marijuana to our routine would offer such a radical change?

Cannabis has offered a completely different approach to health, nutrition, and fitness for myself and my husband. At 43 years old, I am in better shape than I ever have been and I feel 15 years younger. Cannabis supplementation has helped balance my metabolism and virtually eliminated any cravings, snacking, and empty calories. I am more aware of the nutrients in my foods and what I’m putting in my body because I can feel the difference it makes in my health. I have lost 90 pounds in 18 months without dieting, without a gym membership, and without deadly prescriptions. I eat what I want, when I want, and go hiking as often as possible, but I don’t count calories, fat grams, protein, or carbs… I only count chemicals.

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Through our lifestyle changes and responsible cannabis therapy, my husband has seen the same benefits losing 90 pounds of his own and beating type 2 diabetes. He no longer needs cholesterol medications or high blood pressure medications. He also feels it’s easier manage food intake with marijuana, as it gives him a better awareness of being satiated, which eliminates over-eating.

Although cannabis can be used to stimulate appetite in those with anorexia or appetite problems due to cancer treatments or AIDS/HIV, after more than 25 years of struggling with my relationship with food and body-image issues, I finally have a normal relationship with food. I firmly believe, our approach to marijuana is part of the solution. My life revolves around what I’m doing, not what I’m eating, and my awareness of portion sizes is more acute. I feel like without the prescriptions dulling my senses, it’s easier to actually feel what my body needs. With cannabis, my metabolism is balanced and weight management is easy.

While the legality of cannabis continues to expand across the US, more and more stories like ours are being shared. Through our stories, the rest of the world learns, and together we can make a difference in how cannabis is perceived. Lifting the stigmas and showing the truth about healthy cannabis consumers and the life changing benefits we have found.

More by Kristina Etter