Losing Weight with Chronic Illness

Prior to falling ill, I was EXTREMELY fit. No, like, I had 6 pack abs as a female. I did Tony Horton’s P90X. Twice. I could run for seven miles. Four miles was nothing to me in term of running. I loved weight training and was a “gym rat.” Once I got sick? This changed.

Back pain left me unable to walk. Severe joint pain and redness riddled my body throughout. I struggled with simple tasks. And the fatigue? It was bone crushingly unbearable. Like, so terrible that I would wait at least an hour just to get up to use the bathroom because I was just THAT drained of energy. And my sickness seemed to appear out of no where. I. Was. Devastated.

Now, today I celebrate being below 180 pounds for the first time in almost a year. For reference, my old average weight was 110-115 pounds. I gained weight from inactivity and because I began eating convenience meals, such as fast food, because I felt I didn’t have the energy to prepare food or stand long enough to cook. I still can not stand comfortably longer than ten minutes, as crazy as that may sound to some. Others reading this will get it. Weight loss when you’re sick is so hard because it hurts to move and it is exhausting trying to meal prep. But it’s possible. (I’m down 35 pounds from my highest weight thus far.) So, here come some tips that helped me slowly but surely begin to see a difference in my weight.

 

  1. Eating proper portion sizes. Weight loss breaks down to roughly 70% diet, 20% exercise, and 10% genetics. Obviously other factors, such as medications, play a role for some people and this is a general break down. But either way, you can see diet play the largest role. I PERSONALLY do not believe in any “fad” diets; I eat according to serving sizes with all that I eat and especially when I indulge in a treat.
  2. Add in healthier foods. Rather than remove all the “junk” in your house immediately, I found it to be helpful to slowly incorporate healthier options. For example, I made sure to add in a vegetable with my dinners. Taking away too much at once feels to restrictive to me, a person recovering from anorexia. (Seven years in remission though!) With breakfast, I try to add in a fruit. Slowly, you can push the unhealthier options off your plate as you get accustomed to properly fueling your body. This is a slow process, yes, and I’m sorry I have no magical weight loss cure but trust me that these tips will eventually help you see a difference.
  3. Try to do some type of physical activity. Due to my illness, I’m extremely limited. Hardcore exercise throws me into week long flares where I can’t move at all, but it’s not impossible. Remember that some is ALWAYS better than none. I try to utilize a recumbent bicycle or at least stretch every day. Lately, I’ve been taking my dog for a walk. It may only be around one single block, but I’m still moving. That’s still about 15 minutes I wasn’t at home sitting on my couch. It still burns calories. It still will help my joints maintain mobility. I personally LOATHE yoga, but some people swear by it for the fluidity of the movements and relaxation.
  4. Try to avoid drinking your calories. I refuse to calorie count after having anorexia. (Some people can comfortably do that and that’s fine, I just do not.) Let me tell you though, my previous Starbucks order was adding a lot of unnecessary calories. I try to leave my fancy iced caramel macchiato to once a week as my treat. I mostly stick to plain old water. I’m sure you’ve already been told a million plus times to guzzle water, so I’m not going to try and reiterate that. But cutting out sugary drinks DOES make a difference. Try unsweetened tea instead as an alternative to soda or energy drinks. Or make your coffee at home so you know exactly what is going into it.
  5. Be gentle with yourself. Remember, this is NOT an overnight process. And science claims the slower you lose weight, the more likely it is to stay off than if you do some crash diet. In my experience, this is true. Make your goals, STICK TO THOSE GOALS, and I know it’s hard but try try try to be patient with yourself! I know we all want amazing bods right this second, but remember that 1. You don’t need to be thin to love yourself. 2. The goal is healthy, not skinny.

With love,

 

Jessica.

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