Hello. I’m a 17 year old female still in high school. I am 5’8 and weigh 245-250 pounds. Obviously I’m obese. My weight has shattered my self esteem and love for myself. I can’t look in a mirror without shedding a tear. I have tried to diet but that has resulted in binging. I’m currently in a long distance relationship with someone. I really love him for he makes me feel beautiful. We’ve been dating for over a year now. I’ve sent him pictures of my face and he says I’m beautiful and shouldn’t be so negative towards myself, but he doesn’t know about my weight. What I truly fear is that when he sees me in person, he’ll run off as quick as he can and that’ll completely shut me down for good. I love him, he loves me for my nice, caring and funny personality, my facial appearance and etc. I have been dieting a lot but all attempts have failed miserably. Recently I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and that has made it even more challenging to lose weight. I go to school and envy the girls with good and healthy bodies. I can never discuss this with friends because they’re all healthy weight themselves. At this point, I’m lost in a world of hurt and confusion. I honestly don’t know what to do. I feel hideous and just disgusting. Please help me. Thank you.
A: Thank you for writing in with this important letter. I’m sorry that you are struggling so much with your weight and body image. None of us like finding out that we have a medical condition, but many times it can be the key to finding answers to our personal challenges. At least now you know that there is a legitimate reason you have trouble losing weight and that it’s not just about will power or the right diet.
PCOS is a complicated condition and I would suggest that you and your parents seek medical professionals who have experience treating it because that might be key, not only with weight loss, but helping your body be healthy in the years ahead. I would suggest working with a medical doctor or nurse practitioner, a nutritionist, and a personal trainer, as well as a therapist or support group. You will need to attack the issue on many levels to find lasting success.
As far as your friends and boyfriend go, they can’t offer you their support if you aren’t letting them in. We all struggle with something and many of us make the mistake of thinking that we are alone in our struggle when that is rarely the case. Reach out and share and I bet you’ll be surprised by what you get back. If you come across those who aren’t supportive, or who are overtly mean, it lets you know who your true friends are. You can “lighten your load” by cutting those folks out of your life.
Physical appearance is obviously only one aspect of who we are. While you are working on becoming more physically healthy, explore and celebrate your other qualities.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts