As if that wasn’t bad enough, the drug she was prescribed, acetazolamide, led to what her doctor called medication-induced type 2 diabetes.
But the longtime single mom who was used to working 12-hour nursing shifts and shuttling two boys to travel soccer practice had neither the time nor energy to deal with her weight problem.
It wasn’t until watching an episode of “Dr. Oz” that she finally confronted the reality of her situation: Her father had died at 42 of a cerebral aneurysm caused by hypertension and atherosclerosis. At 35, her health problems were escalating, along with her weight. She couldn’t bear the thought of missing all her sons’ milestones that her dad had missed with her.
“I just laid on my bed and cried,” says Giddens, now a clinical coordinator at a hospice in Fort Wayne, Ind. “My two boys are my whole world.”
Seven years and 225 pounds later, Giddens is now 42, the same age her father was when he died. A CrossFit competitor who can deadlift 325 pounds, she’s in the best shape of her adult life.
Best of all, she’s off her meds and no longer has to worry about either diabetes or pseudotumor cerebri.
“My blood work,” she says, “is about as good as it gets.”
Giddens’ transformation started when she signed up for Weight Watchers Online in January 2010.
“I did these 10-minute dance videos,” she remembers. From there she moved on to zumba and “Biggest Loser” videos. She started doing yard work, losing seven pounds in one week while digging a fire pit.
Giddens lost more than 100 pounds on Weight Watchers. Though still overweight, it was enough to reverse both her diabetes and the spinal fluid buildup in her skull.
Gaining momentum, she began waking at 4 a.m. to squeeze in two-hour workouts at the YMCA before work. The former high school swimmer and tennis player hired a personal trainer. From there, she moved on to CrossFit.
“One of the first workouts I did there was called the ‘Murph,” Giddens says. “It’s one of the most grueling workouts. But I just loved it. I knew I’d found what I’d been looking for.”
Giddens’ weight loss hasn’t been a smooth downhill trajectory. At one point, during a stressful period, she put 55 pounds back on. But she regained her momentum, and in May 2016 she accomplished something she never thought possible: Hoisting herself up to complete a pull-up at a CrossFit competition.
“We were so excited, screaming and yelling and celebrating,” that it never even occurred to her to try for more until her teammate reminded her. She wound up doing 11 reps.
These days she gets nutrition coaching from a friend who works for a company called Performance Macros.
“You can eat what you want,” she explains. “But it has to fit your macros” – target macronutrient numbers that in her case total 46 grams of fat and 175 grams each of protein and carbs per day.
“So I can have a little Snickers bar, but then I have to adjust how many grams of sesame oil I get to cook with that night.”
A planner who does all her prep cooking on Sundays, Giddens’ menu doesn’t vary much during the week. She weighs all her food “down to the gram,” including the 5 grams of coconut oil she puts in her morning coffee. She puts extra gelatin in her sugar-free Jell-O to get more protein for less calories.