How i try to keep fit despite having ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia!
So i get asked a lot (and i mean AN AWFUL LOT) about how i try to keep fit and healthy despite being chronically ill. Now i say TRY, those are the most important words here. I am no nutrition/fitness expert, i just simply no what works for my body and what is best for me with the advice from Pain clinic teams, physiotherapists and neurologists.
The first thing i TRY (this is a running theme btw, i am trying not giving up, i may not have made any progress yet because i relapsed a little but i am still trying) to do is eat things that benefit my body. I cut out the things that literally do nothing to aid my fitness, health or energy levels. The things i cut out are carbs (except fiber) and sugars, which is a carb anyway so ALL CARBS (minus fiber) are evil for me.
I don’t know why its like this for me, well its not just me.. a lot of people react badly to carbs. I always have done to be honest, even before i was ‘sick’. If i ate a sandwhich i always felt bloated and sluggish.. porridge always made me so lethargic despite how much i love it.. potatoes weighed me down a lot too. Sugar has always been a love hate for me, it effects me so much and i get really bad energy crashes even if i eat the smallest amount.
So.. what do i eat if i try to cut out carbs? Well i don’t cut them out completely.. i do eat veggies.. LOTS OF GREEN GOOD veggies.. i also eat berries! I do however stick to under 20g of carbs a day. This does give me some leeway to play around with what i eat.. I use Stevia as a sugar replacement and almond/coconut flour as a zero carb alternative so i can bake lots of goodies that make me not miss sugary treats.
I also give my body a lot of healthy fats so it has the energy to burn and stay functioning.. and the right amount of protein to give my muscles their strength and to power them back up after exercise. This way of eating is known as the Keto diet. Basically high fat, medium protein, low carbs. It works for me and MANY of my friends. I enjoy it, its fun and doesn’t feel like a diet when i eat Bacon & Eggs every morning.
Exercise is my weakest point of trying to stay healthy, i am very weak physically now and cannot do much. However, i do find certain classes at my gym really benefit me. The main one i love is Body Balance, it is a mix of Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi, it is super relaxing, strengthening and has enough movement for me to break a sweat and burn some serious calories.. average is around 300-400 per hour long class. I also like a pure yoga class, this is more intense for me and is currently my upper limit but it pushes me and i need that little bit to keep me getting stronger.. i only do one yoga class a week and aim to do 2 body balance classes a week.
On top of these classes it has been recommended to me by my Physiotherapist that i start doing some small weights to build up strength in various muscles.. mainly my legs as my knees are constantly in pain. I do some leg lifts and various machines to strengthen them up. I also do short stints on a static bike to get a little bit of cardio in. I can usually last around 10 minutes on a bike before i feel like i may die. But it is all progress.
The most important part for me is staying healthy, by that i mean not contracting any additional illnesses, aka colds or flu or strep throat, meningitis (again) etc etc. I try to avoid going to multiple conventions in a row as i believe this is how it all started really. I don’t hang out with friends who are sick. I avoid the doctors surgery unless i really need to go in. I try to sanitise my hands a lot and generally just be wary of how im dressing and how certain things could make me sick.
Now, this is the tough part for me, i want to show you some BEFORE photos of my body. They are taken today, i am classing today, the 1st of October 2014 as my start date. Why? well because i have finally found an exercise and nutrition regime that works for me, i have lost 7 lbs before doing these things, my energy and happiness levels were super high and i generally was a lot more motivated for life and able to do things back in June. Since then i had massively relapsed after my trip to NYC and i have been working up my strength to get back into everything.
I know what i need to do, so hopefully showing you some before photos will encourage me to prove myself and not give up. Now before anyone else feels the need to chime in.. i know i am not overweight.. i know i am not ‘fat’.. i simply know this is not naturally the way my body should be.. i all my life have been on the slim side of things.. up until i got sick i was a size 8.. all my life. I am now a size 12 and my body is just not working the way it should be. I simply just want to get back to my previous body as much as i can despite my illnesses. I know the inside will never be the same and i will always be sick, but if i can get back in shape and control my nutrition i can have a better way of life and feel happy about myself again. This is not for any of you, its not even for Martyn (he is actually very happy with my body right now), this is FOR ME. So i feel better, happier and proud of myself. Now without any further explanation here is what i am currently working with.
Front on.. feet together.
Left side.. feet together.
Right side.. feet together.
Back.. feet together.
Front on.. legs apart!
Back.. legs apart!
Left side.. Legs lunged!
Right side.. Legs lunged!
I am very lucky that compared to some struggling with similar health problems (hugs fellow spoonies) that i am in pretty good shape considering. This is simply because i was stupidly thin to start with.. too thin for my taste, putting on this weight has shown me that i do like some curves, i like that i finally have a womanly figure. However, im just too heavy for my frame right now and would like to lose around a stone.
I currently weigh 10 stone 4 lbs. If i could get down to 9 stone 4lbs i would be VERY happy. A comfortable size 10 all round would be perfect.
Thank you for reading this, i hope this has helped those of you struggling too or just simply given insight to those of you who wonder what i do to try and be healthier. Hopefully sometime soon i will be able to share some progress pics if you’re interested and we can celebrate my successes.
As always thank you for being you, for supporting me when i am at my lowest and for enjoying my happy times too. <3