TotallyADD.com is an independent online community dedicated to the education and support of adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and those affected by it, (family, employers, health professionals, etc.) to liberate themselves from fear, shame, and stigma and create a life they love.
My last blog described a case history of a very obese male patient who could not manage any diet or lifestyle changes, while being very adept at running a complicated business. Let me tell you what we found out about Peter.
To make a long story short, when we managed to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, we noted that while he could exert great focus on matters that were highly time sensitive, interesting, and important, he could not spend time on himself. He was unable to change focus from work activities to self care needs if he was involved in the business. He did not stop for food, got very hungry, and then binged once the work was over. He recognized his problem, but seemed powerless to stop work for even 15 minutes to have lunch.
In time, we discovered that he suffered from ADHD, combined subtype. Suddenly we had a reason for his weight loss failure. He could not time manage. He was impulsive, taking on the issues that were most interesting or time sensitive, and forgetting to eat, drink, or even sleep. He buzzed along for 18 hours at a time oblivious to his hunger, thirst, or tiredness, and was always rushing somewhere to help out in the community once the trucks were ‘put to bed’.
He was well liked, but felt so inadequate he always sought approval, garnered by helping people day or night with their problems. Aside from being exhausted and dangerously overweight, he was often quietly depressed, and angry with himself for being such a personal failure. He lived in fear people would discover he was not really successful but a “phoney” who barely managed to hold everything together. Once diagnosed and treated, he lost almost 200 pounds over the following 18 months, was no longer depressed, and was much more successful in having a personal life.
In 2001, Dr. John Fleming and I presented his case in at the annual ADHD convention in Seattle. Since that time we have completed and published other research studies which confirmed that as BMI rises, the chance that ADHD is the primary cause of obesity rises as well. Some of our patients began to have weight problems in childhood (generally those with more clinically severe ADHD symptoms), some in teen years, as demands for better school work or self regulation overcame their coping skills, or as adults, where life challenges also overwhelmed their ability to manage commitments, sleep, and so forth.
Eating became a way of managing anxiety, fatigue, inner restlessness when under-stimulated, and so on. For example, where BMI is 40 or more (meaning a person weighs roughly twice what the weight tables say they should weigh) the chance that ADHD is the cause of weight gain, and of failure to lose weight, is 32% by very conservative measurements. In the Paediatric field, it is now clear that at all ages kids with ADHD are fatter than their peers. Fat kids generally become fat teens, who become fat adults, who have serious risks for early heart attack, hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, and sleep apnoea. We have proven that ADHD pharmacotherapy of overweight kids and adults of all ages who have ADHD, results in significant weight loss that continues beyond 1 year.
In addition, treating ADHD vigorously also has the benefit of making people of all ages more productive, healthier, and safer. With what we now know about ADHD as a primary cause of obesity and of inability to lose weight, everyone with a weight problem should be screened for ADHD as a matter of medical necessity. Dr. Fleming is going to be blogging about how the diagnosis is made.
By Lance David Levy B.Sc., M.B., Ch.B., M.Sc., FRCP(C)Director of the Nutritional Disorders Clinic in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and author of Conquering Obesity. For more information, visit www.drlancelevy.com
Most days I see several new patients who were referred to me for the management of obesity. As obesity has become public health problem number one, everyone working in this field is trying to figure out why we have an ever increasing number of kids and adults who are overweight or obese, and as a consequence are facing serious health risks. Almost without exception, these individuals have tried all sorts of diets over the years and have not managed to lose weight and keep it off.
For many years it was felt that failure at weight loss was due to a lack of knowledge about diet, exercise and general lifestyle change. Often, seriously obese people were thought to be lazy or unmotivated. A research project I managed in 1985 showed that almost everyone with chronic obesity knew what they ought to do to lose weight; the problem was they could not sustain any method over a long enough time to be successful.
We also discovered that after failing at numerous diets, almost all with chronic weight problems felt defeated, and deep inside had no “drive for thinness” left in them. In other words they were highly sceptical they could lose weight and did not have the desire to devote more time to a “ project” that was doomed to failure. In short, they were turned off and angry if the word diet was raised in conversation. Well, we had to find a way around that scepticism, because it exerted such a negative influence and prevented a person from devoting both time and energy to a weight loss plan. The obvious way to determine why everyone felt so defeated was to discover why weight loss plans failed. It seemed clear that if roughly 98 % of people failed to maintain weight loss over a year, the problem was with the methods used and not with the people themselves.
After a number of experiments we determined that all diets end more or less the same way. Typically events occurred that were not planned for, and the effort and energy spent coping with, for example, an extra work load at ones’ job, financial worries, illness and so forth, meant that taking time to be mindful of what was being eaten, shopping adequately, and sleeping enough to be alert was not possible. Under the influence of unplanned energy and time sapping events, diet plans just fell by the wayside with predictable weight regain! Surely an individual could manage a diet and lifestyle change with a bit of planning and so stay on track.
Unfortunately our naive optimism was not borne out in fact. The fact is that people do well when they can, and if they can’t it is because they cannot, and not because they are lazy or uneducated. To find a reason for why keeping plans on track was so hard, we tried a variety of experiments on our patients. We found that as the degree of excess weight increased (higher BMI) the number of people with mood problems, daytime fatigue, chronic pain, digestive problems, and problems with impulse control increased in an exponential fashion.
In 1998, one patients’ story of weight loss failure was mystifying and caught my attention. I discussed him with Dr. John Fleming, a clinical psychologist I have collaborated closely with for 20 years. The patient in question was a man in his thirties. He was obese, with a BMI of 45, and ran a trucking business. He was brilliant at juggling all the truck routes and time schedules, affable, and good at dealing with emergencies, but terrible at self care. He simply could not follow the diet and lifestyle correcting plans I worked on with him; getting to bed on time, eating at regular intervals, grocery shopping, and taking a walk each day were totally beyond him. Convinced of his sincerity in trying to be compliant, we realized we were missing something. What we asked him to do was not “rocket science” yet it was impossible. In my next blog I will tell you what we found out and how it helped this man succeed in weight loss and in other ways as well.
Where: Old Post Office 12 Water Street South, Cambridge, ON See Map: Google Maps
Canadian comedy legend Rick Green (The Red Green Show, The Frantics,
History Bites, Prisoners of Gravity) to get the facts about ADHD.
At age 47, Rick found his life totally transformed by a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. As shock gave way to relief, excitement, and a curiosity to know more, he became a full-time educator and advocate for people with ADHD. With humour and humanity he has helped millions of people around the world let go of fear, get the facts, understand what’s been sabotaging their best efforts, and turn things around. Along the way Rick has won numerous awards and accolades, including the Order of Ontario and Order of Canada.
Ages: All Ages
Online: Please note an email address is required for online registration.
In person: Visit any Idea Exchange location to register.
LDAYR is proud to host it’s 1st Annual Corporate Breakfast and presents
Keynote speaker Rick Green!
Rick is the founder of the groundbreaking website TotallyADD.com, as
well as the producer of two outstanding documentaries on adult Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD): ADD & Loving It?! and
ADD & Mastering It!
With a gift for blending information and humor, Rick is also well
known for his television series History Bites; the alternative fiction
literacy series Prisoners of Gravity; the long-running comedy series The
Red Green Show; and as part of The Frantics comedy troupe.
April 2, 2019.
Registration @ 7:00am – Breakfast @ 7:30am
Sheraton Parkway Toronto North
600 Highway 7 Richmond Hill, Ontario L4B 1B2 Canada
$50 / each seat
$35 / nonprofit rate
To sponsor the event, sponsor a table or purchase tickets please call
(905) 884-7933 ext. 001
8 Sessions to Rebuild Trust, Deal with Anger, and Tap into Joy and Hope
Format: Sessions are given by conference call, which can be accessed by phone or computer, anywhere in the world
When: The next session begins March 26, 2019
Instructor: Melissa Orlov, a recognized ADHD and marriage consultant, provides understanding and concrete ideas to help couples rebalance their relationships.
Turn around your relationship and learn to thrive!
OVERVIEW: Adult ADHD impacts marriages in surprisingly consistent, and often negative, ways…but there is GOOD NEWS. Once you know the patterns ADHD introduces into your relationship, you can finally make things better. You can stop feeling frustrated, angry and alone and start loving each other again.
Melissa Orlov, a recognized ADHD and marriage expert, provides understanding and concrete ideas to help couples rebalance their relationships.
You will learn:
How to trust again
• The steps you need to take to let go of your anger and frustration
• How to move from “correcting our problems” to “enjoying each other”
• Why there is hope for you and your partner…and how to tap into it
• How to deal with a partner who is not yet in control of his or her anger
• Ways other couples have used that encourage ADHD partners to embrace ADHD treatment
• Finding joy and intimacy in your ADHD-impacted relationshipLearn more, read testimonials, and sign up here
Let’s start by saying that it can be really exhausting living with ADHD: for you and for your partner. When we depend on our executive functions to manage our jam-packed lives, we can quickly feel de-railed and impatient. The words frustration and overwhelm come to mind. So, none of these suggestions are easy. Just holding it together is often all you can handle, but here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Forgetting why you fell in love in the first place.
Maybe it was their spontaneity, or maybe their talent, or their compassion, or who knows what. But, when life gets on a treadmill, it can sometimes be pretty hard to even remember what you both used to do for fun. When the laundry piles up, and the punctuality issues leave you counting the minutes you’ve been inconvenienced, it may be time to book a lunch date, go watch her soccer game, see him in improv class: make the effort to see them out of the context of the “grind”.
Tip: Don’t just see each other at home after a day’s work.
2. Assuming that your goals are mutual.
Maybe as your partner’s attention issues have come more to light, you have changed too. Maybe as he has become more unstructured, you have held on by being more so. You start the day rolling your eyes that he didn’t think to make the bed, and her dish is on the counter, and you’re in the car waiting first, and before you’ve left the house “You have had it up to here”. Maybe your partner doesn’t notice or care if the bed is made, maybe she truly isn’t bothered by a couple of dishes on the counter, and you are the one holding all the anguish. Make sure you both know what matters to each other, so you’re not holding on to goals that are misaligned. Where can you give and take? How can you make sure the effort you each put in will matter to your partner.
Tip: Work to make mutual goals, and then own the goals that are just yours as yours. It will help you in the long run.
3. Letting resentment grow in silence until it has taken you over.
With so many couples I have worked with, growing feelings of resentment have been building for so long that the layers are deep. By the time you’re talking about it with each other, you are already drowning. “Fighting” is part of being in a couple. Compromise is normal, and hard. But, if you aren’t talking to each other honestly, the walls can get pretty high, and the pile just gets higher. You might think you have let go, but those feelings may be impacting you more than you think.
Tip: Talk sooner, even if the news is bad news, and even if you need to seek help to facilitate.
4. Not getting support for yourself.
The impact is real: seeking your own support is just as important as your partner seeking support. I have had so many partners say to me: “Am I crazy? What’s ADHD and what’s just a marital challenge? At what point is it about me getting help? How do I fit in with this? I’m relieved to learn about ADHD, but I am so tired inside!” Don’t think it’s just about your partner getting support. You deserve and need help too. ADHD is never an excuse, and it’s never about just one person changing. It’s a team effort, and with the right support, moving forward is possible.
Tip: Book an appointment for just you. You need a safe and objective space to find your way too.
5. You’re stuck in a parent/child communication dynamic.
I hate the idea of couples getting into a place where this is real, but it does happen, and it can be difficult to get rid of this dynamic. The sooner you can get on a level playing field you will see your partner find their full potential. When a person with ADHD is so stuck they aren’t using their strengths, and has lost their spark, their symptoms will become even more overwhelming. Build each other up. Be the partner each other knows you can be.
Tip: Work to treat each other as equals. You don’t have to agree, but make sure you don’t have a power dynamic where one is higher than the other.
So many people ask me about the symptoms of ADHD. What the signs of ADHD? What is ADHD? How does it show up?
Usually these folks admit they wondered if they might qualify, but then they cite reasons that they couldn’t have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. To their surprise, their ‘Non-ADHD’ trait, ability, or explanation is a common sign they might have this mindset.
“My whole family is like this…” Ah, let me tell you about the strong genetic component. It’s highly heritable. “What? Oh…”