My experiences with Topiramate (one of the major ingredients in Qnexa)

My husband and I have caught glimpses of some recent news about the debate of Qnexa – which is a combination of Topiramate and Phentermine. I’m sure just the mention of these two drugs will bring all kinds of interesting traffic. But I thought I would post about my experiences with Topiramate specifically – because what happened to me was real and wasn’t some bizarre side effect that doesn’t really happen to most people. I can’t speak for Phentermine, as I have never taken that before.

I’ve taken Topiramate twice before. The first time was a few years ago for the treatment of migraines. I was getting them a few times a month, and my doctor was concerned that my taking “normal” migraine medication like Imitrex several times a month wasn’t a great idea. So we gave Topiramate a try (Also known as Topamax) It did a great job for my headaches. Little did I know, it also did a great job for my waistline. I was, at the time, trying to lose weight. Watching calories, exercising. During that time I was able to get my weight down to an incredible low. A number I hadn’t seen since High School! I thought it was all the exercise I was doing, and my appetite was under amazing control. But I did have some weird side effects. One I noticed was that (aside from the appetite reduction) I couldn’t taste carbonation. All carbonated beverages tasted flat to me and I stopped drinking them. Not really a bad thing – but just kind of weird. It makes you wonder what the heck is going on with the drug that makes you unable to taste carbonation! I wasn’t really aware of the biggest side effect the first time because most of my work was being sent to me by one single client, and I didn’t need to interact with anyone. Everything was done via email and Skype – so speaking wasn’t really an issue.

I stopped taking Topiramate because my doctor said there was a problem with taking it when you also use Mirena – it reduces its effectiveness. (DOH!!!) After I stopped taking it – all the weight slowly crept back on. My appetite kicked back into full swing. I had originally lost 30lbs – and before I knew it – all 30lbs came back on.

I started to take it again almost a year ago. A new doctor I was seeing didn’t think the Topiramate and Mirena together was a problem (at least initially). The side-effects came on instantly. And this time, they caused some serious problems for me. My work had shifted and I was doing a lot more client interaction. I was on the phone with clients discussing projects, explaining to them what my skills were and how I could help them, etc. But the Topiramate gave me terrible terrible brain fog. I didn’t realize what was happening at first. I thought I was going crazy. I was on the phone with a client, and I couldn’t for the life of me, gather my thoughts to explain what I did EVERY DAY. Words, ALL WORDS, were totally elusive. When I started doing some research online, I found some forums where people talked about experiencing “brain fog” while on Topirmate, and then it hit me that’s exactly what I was going through. That was it. I tossed the pills in the trash! My livelihood depended on my ability to interact with clients, and if I sounded like a moron – then my business was going to suffer.

Shortly after, my doctor contacted me and told me to stop taking Topiramate because she finally did confirm that it did reduce the effectiveness of Mirena. So that sealed the deal.

I’m sure under certain circumstances this new drug Qnexa will be the wonder-weight-loss drug some people have been waiting for. Given that the weight started coming back almost immediately after I stopped taking it (And the drug isn’t intended to be a permanent course of action) I question if it will really make a difference long term for people. I see it as kind of a temporary fix. In the same league as Jenny Craig. Once every meal isn’t specifically planned out for you, or in the case of this drug, once your appetite comes back to normal – that’s when you realize, despite all the weight your already lost – keeping it off will be probably be just as hard as it was losing in the first place. (In fact, it will probably be harder!)

I’m back to trying to lose that weight again and it’s going along, but a lot slower and more difficult than last time. I’m hoping this time once I get down to where I want to be, that I’ll be able to maintain it better than I did last time. I’m still also hoping that one day they’ll figure out a more permanent “fix” (or help) for weight troubles. (and don’t give me a story about how you just need to eat less twinkies. I’m eating very healthy and exercise for an hour 4x a week. I’m certainly living a healthy lifestyle – but the food that is made the most accessible to us is more often than not, unhealthy – and for someone like me – the “daily calorie allowance” is so low it’s practically a joke. It’s VERY DIFFICULT to stay in that calorie range and not feel hungry.)

Zumba Fitness Rush – Week 1

So this week I skipped the gym and stayed home and used Zumba Fitness Rush on the Xbox Kinnect. So far so good. Overall I’m very happy with it. I’m not sure if it’s really better than doing the exercise with just the DVD (I don’t have the DVD set) but I did burn a fair amount of calories. They actually tell you how many you’ve burned and they’re pretty accurate. The first time I did the “class” I wore my Heart Rate monitor so I could compare it with what it was saying, and it was dead on – scary enough. Although – my daughter joined me for PART of the class – and then disappeared – and it said she burned the same amount of calories – but maybe it’s just taking the average for the class.

Either way – I got a good fun workout at home. I was plenty tired and sweaty at the end of the hour – and I didn’t have to get into any fist fights with people to make room. So I would call this a success.

I do wish it would give more feedback during a *class* on how to improve. Some of the steps in the class vary more than they do in a regular in-person class – or they’re just a little difficult to follow. As well, some of those steps don’t have a “tutorial” mode on them so the only way I’ll figure them out is doing the same class a few times. I also wish they had a clock on there. More than once I’ve wondered how much more time to the class I had left. Again, though, I’m really happy with this “game” and plan on using it from now on as my main exercise plan.

Zumba without the stress?

I am so fed up with the Zumba classes at 24Hour Fitness. The gym that I go to – about a year ago – lost part of it’s class space – so they’ve only had one small classroom. They have no plans to expand or move to a bigger location. Basically this is the “budget” 24hour fitness. The bigger one – the one right next door – is the “Super Sport” building. Membership costs twice as much – I’ve never been in there, so I don’t know if their classrooms are bigger. But I get the impression that being the cheaper memberships of the two – corporate probably wouldn’t care if the roof started leaking – they’re not putting money in it – much less expand it or make the classrooms bigger.

They *do* limit the number of people that can be in the class – I think it’s 30 or 40… it doesn’t matter. The class is still too crowded. And either way – the problem I keep running into are just rude people. The only way I can see solving that one is putting tape down on the floor and designating spots. You see, I get a MUCH better workout if I can actually see the instructor. Makes sense. If I can see her, I can pick up what she’s doing quickly, and get into the rhythm more quickly, and then be working out more. If I have to spend the first half of the set trying to figure out what she’s doing – yes I’m moving, but it’s not as intense as when I know I’m doing the right move. So I get to the class 30mins early – so I can be one of the first ones in line to get in. When I get in, I try to get into the front row. Without fail – one of the following happens after that: Someone comes in and rather than stand a reasonable distance apart, they get up RIGHT behind me so that when I’m moving around, I can’t move as big because I’ll be bumping into them. OR I get someone who stands RIGHT in front of me (yes, I’m already in the front row – but I guess they figure they’ll make a “new” front row) but really that’s too close too the wall, so during the class they eventually keep pushing back further and further and I’m back and can’t see the instructor anymore.

Last night was no exception. Same routine. This time 3 people stood directly in front of me. 2 were friends of the instructor and were pissed I think they got there late and refused to stand in the back. Another was some guy I’ve never seen before. Same thing – they pushed me back, I couldn’t see the instructor and I’d had enough of it. I asked the guy to slide over a bit so I could squeeze in that row so I could see the instructor. He refused – insisting that I should be able to see better on an angle where I was. (except that one of the 2 instructor-friends was blocking me (she was large). So I told him he was welcome to stand where I was if he thought the view was better. So he switched with me – after one set I asked him if HE could see better there and he just kind of grumbled. I offered to make room for him – but again, he just grumbled.

I’m so done. Seriously. I want to work out and lose weight – and the class is becoming more stress than it’s worth. I was looking online and saw that there is an XBOX 360/Kinect game: Zumba Fitness – Kinect. In fact there is a new one coming out in just a few days: Zumba Fitness Rush

(Ironically – the new Zumba game appears to come with a trial membership to 24Hour Fitness. ROFL. DO NO WANT! LOL) The real question will be if I will be as consistent doing the game/class at home as when I take it at 24Hour (where I have to sign up for the class a month in advance to be guaranteed to get in the class at all. Oh, did I mention that too? Annoying!!)

So, come  February 13th – I’m running out and getting Zumba Fitness Rush. I’ll definitely post my results/review.

In the air

So many things are up in the air right now. I don’t believe in a god – so I have to put my faith in invisible unknown forces – karma – or whatever – that everything will somehow work out. I’m on the cusp to some big changes (which of course I can’t talk about in specific until something has finalized). There’s a few different options/directions that may work out – or maybe none of it will, and I’ll have to figure something else out. So hard to plow ahead like normal when you don’t know where “ahead” might be tomorrow or the next day. I’m going through the daily motions – waiting for an answer. Once you get an idea in your head – don’t you want it immediately? I’ve heard of people completely changing the course of their lives when they were so close to finishing something – and always thought that was a bit crazy… but at this moment it makes perfect sense. I want my new direction.. now. I want to know where I’m going right now. I don’t want to wait a few more days or weeks or months to know… Is it any wonder that anyone who proclaims themselves to be a psychic can make a decent living? It’s because of impatient, obsessive people like me! (But I’m not hiring any psychics. LOL)

Since I can’t talk about that – and really, at the moment there’s nothing to talk about anyway, yet – here’s weight-loss status update. My body took a two week hiatus from losing weight. Not me. My body. I continued to exercise, watch calories – and during these two weeks, I gained three pounds. Seriously? I have no idea what that was about. I was so frustrated I was ready to call my doctor to have them start running tests. And don’t say it was muscle – it wasn’t. I might agree that I could have been bloated from too much sodium. I was having those gazpacho soups daily for lunch. But according to my calorie log – that’s a lot of sodium. When I stopped having that soup every day – my body started behaving again and I’m back to slowly losing some weight. I started this journey – well technically at 158lbs – but shortly after beginning it went up to 159! (Grrr) – but I am now down to 151lbs. So either a 7 or 8lb loss in 2 months depending on how you look at it. 😉 That’s pretty close to 1lb a week which is the max I can loose at 1200 calories a day. Still doing Zumba – at least 2x a week, 3x week when I can. I’m now able to make it through the whole class without having to “tone it down” towards the end to make it to the end of class. I can go full steam ahead for the full hour. 😀

High Energy Child

My son has always been extremely active. He doesn’t ever stop moving. Ever. I signed him up for soccer in the fall and he loved it – but it didn’t necessarily have the desired effect which was to tire him out! He could exercise all day – come home and still run laps. With that much energy, it’s not hard to get into trouble. Our house isn’t big and there’s not much room to run – so furniture just becomes part of the raceway. I’m constantly on him to settle down, not run on the furniture, etc. etc. but it doesn’t make a difference. I was afraid that with so much activity – no one would want to set up any playdates with him. We don’t do many of them – but I swear that when he does have one, it’s because he runs circles around everyone so much that THE OTHER kid is sure to get a good night sleep. Mine, on the other hand? He’ll be awake until about 9 or 10pm. Sometimes even later on the weekends. (Even though his actual bed time is much earlier) Going to bed is a punishment – or at least that’s the way he sees it. I used to think that maybe the hyperactivity was just a symptom of him being overtired. But there is literally no “making” him go to sleep. He sleeps when he’s ready to and not a moment before – regardless of what I do. You can’t make someone sleep.

Last night I was at the end of my rope, and patience. I know he doesn’t have ADHD or anything along those lines – he is capable of sitting still. I’ve seen him do it at school. When he’s finished with his work, the kids are supposed to go to a quiet corner and read a book – which he happily and proudly does. I don’t get complaints from the teacher about him acting out – so I think he’s doing ok (although I will be grilling her next parent teacher conference on exactly how well he really is doing on that to make sure). So I turned to the all-knowing Google. “Kid never sits still” “Excessively active child” “High energy child” – the last one came up with lots of good hits. “High Energy Child” is apparently the key phrase to describe him – and he’s not the only one. Here is what I got out of the links I read:

1) Limit TV and Video Games. Big time. These will overstimulate him. Other kids get over stimulated, but not nearly to the degree a high-energy child does. So our new plan: I have a chore chart – when all the things on the chore chart are done he can either have ONE (and only ONE) hour of TV OR video games – OR he can have a quarter. (He loves to buy junky toys from those bubble-gum vending machines)

2) Did you see the movie Gremlins? I didn’t actually – but I know there was something about not feeding the things after midnight. Similar rules apply – with similar results when you don’t comply – but in this case it’s the TV and video games again. That hour of media entertainment? Not to be done before bed!!!

3) Redirection. This is where that chore chart comes in. Once he starts complaining about not having the TV and video games – I remind him how he can earn it for an hour for the day. Try to give him “jobs”. Keep him assigned to a task. If he’s idle – trouble will follow.

4) Whatever you do. WHATEVER you do! Don’t lose your cool. Getting angry will make things worse. It will make him amplify his hyperactivity and make you even angrier. You’ll begin a viscous cycle. That’s not to say don’t tell him to get off the furniture or don’t punish him when he refuses to listen. But all punishment and directions must come completely without emotion.

I’m trying to see the world through his eyes and it is helping me to understand how to deal with him. Imagine you have boundless energy… and then imagine there is someone there who is always trying to bring you down – make you go to sleep? How can you sleep when you still have enough energy to jump tall buildings in a single bound.

The good news is that he’s a good kid. He’s sensitive to others. (Well to the extent a 6 year old is capable of) He doesn’t get into fights. He has a lot of friends at school. He’s bright, creative, smart, funny and can focus on school work when needed. He’s going to grow up and be an amazing human being some day. If we can direct that energy to something positive, I can’t even imagine the things he’ll be able to accomplish.

We’ll see how the plan above goes as time wears on. It’s always difficult to maintain these things in the long term. I’m hoping we do, and I’m hoping it works so we can all live a more happy life together. It has been really stressful to say the least.