Everyday my illness bring symptoms. Some days more then others. Sometimes I can jump out bed and others I’m crawling. Having fibro means that you need to learn how to cope with your symptoms and how to ‘avoid’ flare-ups. Everyone that has this illness is very different, therefore we all have different ways to cope with them. Here are two things that I’ve done that has helped me control my symptoms.
Insert eye roll until you can see your brain here.
I know so many fibromites that when you talk about adding physical activities roll their eyes at you. There’s many reasons and the biggest one is: You need to have energy to exercise, you don’t have energy because you’re sore and you don’t sleep and you don’t exercise because it makes everything worse.
My advice start small and slow and with something you enjoy.
There’s a multitude of things you can add to your day.
start small , slow and enjoy it
By starting slow I mean pace yourself. If you find going for a walk around the block too exhausting start by just walking from your living room to your bedroom a few times a day. I promise this will get easier and less painful and exhausting. Once you feel good with that add on to it. Walk to the end of your driveway and back. Do only 5 minutes of yoga and increase from there ( restorative or yin yoga is a slow pace both of them have a different meaning and do different things for your body. Research the differences and decide what is better for you). Get a treadmill or a stationary bike. Start by just standing and sitting multiple times during a show.
Being active does not mean you need to go to the gym. It just mean you need to move and the more you do that better you will feel. Try a multitude of things and find what you enjoy and what is right for you. A 2 minute a day walk will eventually turn into a 5 minute walk and so on. There will be days where no you won’t be able to do it because you will have a flare-up but I find for me not moving makes things worse.
How I did it
I used to work a very physical job at a deli. I spent my days standing on cement floors, taking clients orders, hand bombing skids and doing overstock. It was busy and I enjoyed it. I decided though after 5 five years of absence in my field that it was time to go back it. This allowed me to work less hours at a job that was less physically demanding and more financially beneficial.
The issue with this is that I became less active. I noticed my weight creep up but also how much more my symptoms got aggravated. I was more sore, more tired and less motivated to do things. You would think with a less physically demanding job I would feel better. It wasn’t the case and I found out why when I stuck a fitbit on my wrist. I walked almost 20,000 steps a day at the deli and with this new job I barely walked 5,000 a day. The weight gain and the lack of movement meant I sat more and moved less.
I knew I wanted to get back to being healthier and more active but how to start when walking 7,000 steps a day made me exhausted. I set myself a goal, I was determined to get back up to atleast 10,000 steps a day. That’s when my journey to moving more started. I started small, I started parking farther away in the parking lots ( I am a PSW that goes from home to home to take care of clients) , I started doing stairs, and sitting less ( which I did once I had finished all other tasks needed), I walked around my house from one end to another. Eventually I felt better and my energy came back up but I still wasn’t up to where I wanted to be ( I started this in September). It was winter and I don’t like cold, so youtube became my best friend and so did “Walking at Home with Leslie Sansone”. I would put on the program and go and by March I had exceeded my goals and was able to do 15,000 steps a day.
It was now time to upgrade. At the time I didn’t want to invest into a gym membership but I knew I had to step up my movement game. I then again turned to youtube. I did HITT workouts 3 days week, at first I was lucky if I lasted 10 minutes by the end of the month I was doing 30. My wonderful fiancée was motivated to start getting back into shape again. He went to the gym and signed us both up for a year membership. This was really dreadful for me, I had just started finding my groove at home, I was nervous people would look at me or that as I had done in the past would push myself too hard and then crash and burn.
The first month was a huge learning lesson. I had my workout plan in hand and a great motivator ( my fiancée), I was ready to hit this ball out of the park. I would show up at the gym doing 3 workouts a week. I would push myself to my limits, lifting the heavy of weights to gain maximum strength and doing as many reps as I could. Boy, did I learn. I learned that even though I was able to lift the weights and push out those reps that my fibro would not allow me to. I would then spend the next day at work pushing through exhaustion and pain waiting for bed.
Then something changed. I learned my cues as to when I needed to stop. I had to learn when my muscles felt a certain way that it was time to stop and not push more. Today I go to the gym 3-5 times a week I lift heavier weights and am looking at adding cardio soon. I still have days where I don’t go, hell I just went almost a month with only 2x a week if that because I had no motivation and ate a bunch of crap. I am basically starting from scratch , but that is a story for another time.
I now feel better and stronger. My energy is up and my flare-ups are down. I can do more with my kids and not crash at the end of the day.
Drink water, be mindful of food
Our bodies are anywhere between 50-65% water, take time to think about that for a minute. It plays a big part in how our bodies functions: from lubricating our joints, removing crap ( toxins and waste) from our bodies and helping to provide nutrients to all of our cells are just some of them. Every aspect of our bodies require water and if you don’t have enough you eventually get into trouble. Being dehydrated can have major symptoms where you need a saline I.V., the signs can be very small and often over looked.
Headaches, body aches ( muscles and joint), low energy, strong pee are just a few examples. People with chronic pain conditions often just assume that it’s because of their illness that they feel that way. Water consumption can often help these symptoms become less. Avoiding things like pop, caffeine, alcohol and juices and replacing them with water will also help your overall health.
Eating is also a big part of how well our bodies functions. It provides vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats to help keep our body functioning well. It is also what can determine how crappy we feel too. Avoiding things like fried food, too much processed meats and foods are a few things to avoid. Dairy, gluten and meat alone can also affect how you feel if you eat to much.
Instead go for fruits, vegetables, some grains, legumes, meats and nuts. If you eat well balanced it will help keep you balanced. Doing these few small changes can help you lose weight , reduce inflammation, give you more energy and achieve better sleep. There is a ton of research on this. We are constantly told this and yet we often overlook it.
How I did it
I used to eat what ever I wanted before, candies, a ton of meat, greasy food, bread and pasta. We all know how we should eat but as most people we don’t look at our food until something happens. In search of some answers I watched countless Netflix documentaries that mostly lead to veganism*. I tried it, going mostly vegan for a year and it was not easy and not for me ( at least not yet). Since going vegan I eat more vegetables and fruits now. We have smaller portions of meat and I try to have a vegetarian or vegan meal at least 2-3 a times a week.
I limit, not avoid because let’s face it we’re all humans and we crave things and I found completely eliminating things from my diet makes me binge on things I shouldn’t and that’s a disaster. Caffeine, sugar, deep fried foods, alcohol, juices, most dairy and now gluten ( I found out I have a sensitivity to it boo).
I didn’t just cut out all this food at once. I started by eliminating pop and juices. I am not much of a coffee drinker and drink tea on occasion I keep to one sugar, one milk compare to the triple, triples I used to drink. I wasn’t much of drinker, I mean of any fluids to begin with. My fiancée couldn’t believe I went a day with only drinking at most 3 cups of anything. I was lucky because he helped me a lot with my water drinking habit. He drinks a ton of water, when he’d come home he would slap a glass of water in front of me and tell me to drink it. The moment I was done he’d get another one, next thing I knew I didn’t need him to remind me to drink water it became a habit. I still sometimes get into the habit of not drinking and I catch myself doing it when my body starts getting to sore. Once I started drinking regularly a few things happened: My migrains were less frequent ( daith piercing helped eliminate them almost all together) , I was less sore, had more energy ,more focus and the constant peeing ( us fibromites tend to have frequent urination issues) after while settled down once my body got used to the water intake although I still do pee a lot.
As for eating that became a bit of needing to a] eat healthier foods 2] Dimish take out 3] stop emotional or mindless eating. Ok , I won’t lie this is still the hardest part for me is the eating. I have learned to make meal plan, avoid trigger foods and be self-aware of my food eating triggers. I started eliminating the junk food out of our house which helped me to not eat them. Meal planning is becoming easier and is helping me stay on track to stay away from take-out, we still have it about once a week which is better then what we used to do and bonus we got a bit more money in our pockets.
I did step by step, if you are capable of just taking everything out without being overwhelmed please do. I am incapable of doing that without being overwhelmed. I know I tried and it just lead to binging. I started with my water habits and then eliminating the junk food out of the house. Next came adding more vegetables, I add vegetables to anything I make for example: Taco night, I add celery, onions, peppers, and carrots to the meat, I then add tomatoes and lettuce to the top ; spaghetti, I sometimes use spaghetti squash or spiralize some zucchini into the pasta itself, I again add zucchini, carrots, celery and really any other veggies I have left in the fridge. I do this with everything, not only does it bring our veggie count up it also lowers our meat consumption and stretches our meals further.
I added more fruits and lowered my gluten intake by having smoothies ( made with almond milk, 1-2 cups of fruits, chia seeds, vegan protein powder to keep me full, cinnamon/turmeric for anti-inflammatory power and sometimes kale or spinach), I also have oatmeal which I add fruit too and I am working on eliminating the sugar that I put into it ( I started eating oatmeal recently, the taste is still a bit of an issue for me). If I do end up having toast which isn’t often anymore I eat a fruit with it. I don’t eat fruits mind you after 12.
I still have a lot to learn and improve in my diet but I find tackling on elifestyle change at a time is a good way for me. I am for progress and not perfection ( no clue where I heard this but it changed my life). I’m signing off now spoonies.
Have a great day.
*Please keep be mindful and do your research. Yes, I watched a lot of documentaries on Netflix but I also did my own research after watching them. Many networks gear their shows based on their opinions or views.
** Please view the disclaimer**