How Many Times Have you Heard, “Just Lose Some Weight”?

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard over the course of my life that losing weight would help, I would be a rich rich women by this point in life. Yes, I know that getting to and staying at a healthy weight is important! So is eating the right foods and exercise. But will losing weight really fix some issues? Yes, I’m sure it probably will! But it’s not going to fix everything!! People like to throw that comment out for every issue. Oh you have headaches, lose some weight! Oh you have IBS, lose some weight! Oh you aren’t having any luck dating, lose some weight. Oh you’re having problems getting pregnant, lose some weight. I assume in the majority of cases people truly do not mean to be a Debby downer by telling others this. But they also probably have no idea how it feels to hear that from people you loved and respect, and expect some sensitivity from. If you’ve never struggled with your weight you have no idea how it feels for a friend or family member to direct those three words at you. “LOSE SOME WEIGHT!”

As a person who has struggled with my weight since High School I understand what a touchy topic this can be. I look back at my teen years and would give anything to be back at that weight now. But sadly that Amber was about 60 lbs ago. But I didn’t just get fat due to poor choices and lack of proper food, just like many other chronically ill. Most of us probably took the DEVIL drug, aka Prednisone. Yes prednisone fixes many many things. But it also causes weight gain! And not like 3lbs weight gain. We are talking like 25, 50, 75 lbs. And it came on FAST. Your symptoms are mostly gone but now you got all the bonus weight. Sigh. The weight no one wants.

But it’s not just Prednisone that causes weight gain. Hormones often used for birth control also cause weight gain, as well as Lyrica which is used to treat fibromyalgia! There are many many more that can cause weight gain. The point I’m trying to make here is that every over weight person you see just say on the couch eating chips and watching Netflix all day! Even though that is what people automatically assume it not always the case.

Did anyone think that maybe those of us who gained weight while on Prednisone might deal with a LOT of daily pain or extreme exhaustion!?!? Have you ever lived with so much widespread pain that literally every joint, bone and muscles hurt so bad that it’s torture even getting out of bed. Much less taking a walk or going to the gym. Does anyone consider the fact that many of us who are over weight can’t stand the way we look and can’t look at ourselves in the mirror. Many of us who have gained weight due to medical conditions or medications never asked for this. We didn’t just give up on ourselves and sit and eat chocolate all day. We got sick!!! And because of that we took medications that cause rapid weight gain that doesn’t come off easily.

There are also those in the chronically ill that gained weight because of the pain. They may have not felt like being the most active person. Every step, every tiny movement make your whole bodg ache. When you feel like that and sometime tells you to go for a walk or get yo the most would want punch them. (I never encourage violence, it was a mere figure of speech.) It’s honestly really hard to do anything even low impact exercise can hurt! So what I am saying is when you already hurt in places you didn’t know could hurt the last thing you want to do is “hit the gym!”

And if you really think you are giving me some groundbreaking piece of advice to work out and eat healthy. YOU ARE NOT! We’ve heard it from family and friends and even the doctors. I will admit the best I’ve ever felt was when I wasn’t walking in the morning before it got hot and ate a diet low on gluten. (gluten has been found to mess with inflammation in everyone. It just wreaks havoc with the chronically ill. But let’s be honest eating Healthy is really expensive! And no that’s not a cop-out, but if you have ever tried to eat a gluten free diet, it’s hard and it’s expensive.

I guess the takeaway from my rant and rambling is that I wish people would work on their delivery. If you are kind and truly concerned I’m going to be more apt to listen to you. Over the person who just tells me I’m fat and I need to lose weight. It’s not a surprise I know what I look like. I understand that research shows “When patients lose 5-29 percent of their body weight, the symptoms of chronic Conditions will improve!”Per the Cleveland Clinic. I know this but sometimes just getting your body moving is the hardest part.

Exercising with Chronic Illness

Exercise is not something I have talked a lot about in previous posts. Because it’s not something I have been doing. And it’s not something I enjoy, or to be honest know that much about. But honestly it’s time! The cardiologist cleared my heart and we are looking at my lungs. But recently a doctor that I love and respect very much reminded me that the shortness of breath and high heart rate I have been experiencing could be something as simple as deconditioning. So it’s time for me to get back to exercising. And to make getting fit a priority. As I started researching how I should get back into the fitness world I thought others could use the information as well. So today I wanted to share a bit of information on what kind of exercise is good for those with chronic illness/pain and joint issues.

Before we get into any suggestions about exercise I wanted to remind you about a few things.

  • Before beginning any exercise program you should ALWAYS contact your physician to get the okay.
  • You should always start with low impact and go slow! You can increase your impact and intensity slowly.
  • Always move at your own pace and never try to keep up with someone you are with or with a class.
  • Lastly if your pain level increases by more than 2 points from where it was at the start of the exercise you should stop &/or modify that specific exercise to try to ensure that you don’t cause a flare.

It is recommend that everyone do a combination of stretching exercises, strengthening exercises and cardiovascular exercises! Stretching will help to increase flexibility, loosen any tight or stiff muscles, as well as improve range of motion. Everyone should be doing some stretching EVERYDAY!! Strengthening will help to build up muscle strength. And cardiovascular exercise has a plethora of healing benefits. Now let’s look at what specific cardiovascular or aerobic exercises you could be doing.

1. Walking – is an excellent form of light aerobic exercise. It helps to bring oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, helps rebuild stamina, boosts energy, and will reduce stiffness and pain. Other options of low impact aerobic exercises would be riding a stationary bike or using an elliptical.

2. Yoga – Practice the most gentle kind of yoga you can, preferably the Hatha form of yoga. This kind of yoga is a combination of postures, breathing, and meditation that will reduce the physical and physiological symptoms of pain. A study that was published in the Journal of Pain states that participants reported significantly less pain when doing yoga. Yoga will also help to build endurance and energy while improving sleep and concentration.

3. Tai Chi – The benefits seen with tai chi are very similar to those seen in those who do yoga. Tai Chi is a very low impact kind of exercise where the participants slowly, gradually and gracefully preform a series of movements. Studies show that this form of exercise may even be better to relieve fibromyalgia pain than yoga!

4. Swimming & Water Aerobics – Any exercise in the water is good for people with chronic pain or joint issues. It is also an excellent alternative to walking for those with mobility issues. Being in the water provides a low-impact cardiovascular exercise that helps to keep you moving without putting added stress on joints and muscles.

The last point I want to make applies to all people. Not just those who are chronically ill. It is something I have struggled with love you whole life not just the last six years since I’ve been diagnosed. I don’t know about all of you but if I don’t have an accountability partner I am less likely to stay accountable and stay on track. If I have someone who is checking in on me a few times a week saying hey how is your diet, and how is your exercise routine going? I am more likely to actually stay on top of those things. So I strongly recommend finding someone in your life to be that person for you. So make sure you find someone to help you stay on track.

We took a brief look at some exercises that are good for those who have chronic pain or have joint issues. So maybe this will give you an idea of where you could start. I did not cover stretching directly because most people have a basic idea of how to stretch. I also didn’t cover strength training, because it can be very complicated and vary dramatically from one person to the next. However, there are articles for reference on both below. If you do plan on starting a new exercise plan please let me know what you plan on doing. I know for me having an accountability partner works best for me. If I don’t have someone to keep me accountable then I won’t stick to my plan as well as I do with that partner. So that is also something for you to keep in mind. If I can help you in any way please let me know. I would be very happy to help!!! I hope this helps some of you. Below are some articles for references on exercise with chronic illness for you.

With Love,

Amber

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise-and-chronic-disease/art-20046049

Expert Advice: How to Overcome Obstacles to Exercising with Chronic Illness

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20047971

https://www.fmcpaware.org/exercise/strength-training-for-the-person-with-fibromyalgia.html

Setting Goals For The New Year!!

Happy NEW YEAR Friends!!! I can’t help but sit here and reflect on all the things that happened in 2017. There were ups and there were downs, sadly this year was full of downs and not so many ups. But that’s just life. The world throws all sorts of things at us all the time and it’s how we deal it that really matters!!! I also can’t help but think about what I want out of 2018. I won’t be setting resolutions because I seem to never follow through. So this year I will be setting goals. Both short term and long term goals so I have something to always be working on. And I want to share with you how I set my goals.

When I set goals I use the acronym SMART to set them.

S- Specific – what exactly you want to accomplish. What is you want to do. For me a specific goal would be that I want to do some sort of exercise for 10min 1-3 Times a week.

M- Measurable – This means how you are going to measure your accomplishments and how you will know when this goal has been achieved. For example, if your goal is to make $10,000, make sure you have a time frame. I want to make $10,000 by December 31 so it is measurable.

A- Achievable – Make sure you set goal that are achievable and not so far in left field that it will never happen. (For example, don’t set the goal to run a full marathon in three months when you can’t run 100ft currently. A more achievable goal would be to say you will walk/run a 5K by the end of summer.)

R- Realistic – Make sure your goal is something you can actually do. For example, setting a goal to become president of the United States for most people would not be realistic. A goal of become a local representative or sitting on city council. That would be more realistic.

T-Timely- This one is the easiest. Simply when do you want to accomplish your goal? One month? Three months? A year?

I’ll give you an example of a smart goal. I want to start exercising 1-3 times a week for at least ten minutes, by doing yoga or walking in the house (too cold right now to be outside). I want to be doing this in full by March 1st!

That is just an example. But I have several long term and short term goals that I will be working on. Another bit of advice I have for you is to write your goals in a place you will see them. For me, my goals often are out of sight out of mind. So I will write them on a dry erase board that I see every day. You could even write them on a mirror you use everyday. Just put them somewhere so you can be reminded of them daily.

I can’t say that I’m sad to see 2017 go. It was one of the harder years I’ve had with all the health issues I have had. And losing the ability to drive due to my health has really been hard. I feel like I’m 15 again and have to ask someone to take me everywhere. I know many of you have had a rough year as well so we are going to take 2018 and make it ours. I am going to do everything in my power to make this a positive year both with my business, and in my personal life. And I encourage you to do the same!!! Set goals, and use them as a point to work toward. I feel like if we don’t have something to work toward we become stagnant. For us spoonies it is so easy to focus on the negative. We have so many bad days and get bad news often. But if we can focus on something positive, Life might be a little more positive. I know you are thinking that it is easier said than done, but it will really make a difference. I will be honest I get stuck one the bad things all the time. But this year I am going to work on being positive!!! And I am here to help you with your goals if you need me to and help encourage you along the way!!

Feel free to share some of your goals in the comments. If you share your goals with others I feel that you are more likely to work to accomplish them! So share with us!! I hope and pray that all of you can make 2018 a positive year!

With Love,

Amber