Losing Weight with ME

I’ve been trying on and off to lose my excess weight since I gained it which is going on 12-13 years. I did lost a stone early on and another stone and half some years ago but it’s crept back up and I’ve been flipping back and forth a stone.

I turn 40 next Autumn and I don’t want to still be fat by then. So it’s a good milestone to give me the incentive to finally focus and lose the extra weight. But it’s not easy with my illness.  Exercise is very difficult and cardio exercise pretty impossible without worsening my overall condition. Strengthening work, toning and stretching are possibilities but most be done modestly.  Add in that my gut issues already restrict what I can eat and that helpful things for my gut don’t always fit in with healthy eating plans (lots of soluble fibre like white rice, white bread, potato) and it’s going to be a tricky balancing act.

I’m 8 weeks in to my healthy eating and upping my stretching/toning/moving about. I’ve lost 7lbs so far which I’m really pleased about. I’ve also lost so far 3″ off my bust, 1.5″ off my waist, 2″ off my hips and 1.5″ off my ankles (who knew I had that much to lose off my ankles!).

I’ve had some pilates exercises that the physio gave me for my back problem many years ago which for most people would be considered the warm up to a main session.  I’ve also added in a sitting down workout on DVD by Rosemary Conley which is achievable for me on better days. It’s a 12 minute routine, all seated, which can be made a little more energetic if that suits.  But it’s stretching muscles I don’t normally use so it’s a big thumbs up from me.

I’ve dug out my fitness gym ball to do a little bouncing and also some chest exercises.  Some work with small weights is a definate possibility for me in my current level of function though I have to be careful as even that sort of exertion takes it’s toll. Using a rebounder for ME/CFS is another possibility for low impact exercise that will get my lymphatic system working (apparently the PT Rebounder is the one to get as others as not soft enough for PWME)

I have a 2nd DVD to try which is aimed at seniors by Jane Fonda but looks a bit more active than the Conley one.  Some of the exercises are standing up (using the chair for support) and the first routine is 20 minutes. So I’m working up to that.

[UPDATE 13 April 2012: The Jane Fonda Prime Time Fit & Strong DVD is an achievable workout for me. It's 25 minutes long and alternates between seated toning exercises and standing exercises where you can use the chair as a support. Whilst it's a longer session there's no cardio element to it at all, no lunges or jumping. Just using your muscles. She goes at a moderate pace with quite a few reps of exercises but it's been fine for me. There's quite a bit of chat about getting older as it is aimed at seniors but a lot of the things apply to myself with chronic illness such as the importance of balance exercises to avoid falls, ankle strengthening to avoid stumbles and by how much seniors can build muscle mass with simple exercises. I've noticed it's helping with flexibility and with posture. It's also good that it's different exercises to the ones on my other DVD and I get some variety on those better days.

I'm also now doing the warm up and some extra exercises suitable for my back injury from Lynne Robinson's Pilates DVD. The warm up is slow paced, all the exercises are done lying down on a mat and it's a more gentle relaxing set of exercises for those not so good days.]

I’m also thinking I’ll try using the Eye Toy we have for my husband’s PS2 and some silly games that get the arms moving. If I do a short session sitting down it’s fun and it’s get the blood pumping hopefully without overdoing the cardio.  I also bought Kinetic for PS2 Eye Toy which is a fitness programme and mini games based on cardio, toning, mind/body (like Tai Chi and yoga) and some martial arts.  I’m still exploring that to see if it is suitable for me. This is my budget version of getting a Wii. The Wii is used by quite a few disabled people to help with fitness but it’s a bit out of my budget at the moment.

[UPDATE 13 April 2012: PS2 Kinetic using the Eye Toy has proved a bit challenging not least because you need 3-4 metres of clear space from the tv even with the special lens adapter for the Eye Toy. I have used the Play for Eye Toy games again but the cardio aspect is a bit too challenging. I can stretch and tone but cardio type work leaves me flattened within minutes.]

The other thing is just to try to stretch muscles and move my feet when I can without going totally crazy.  It’s a tricky balancing act and so easy to wear myself out as my motivation to be active is very strong.

I’m using the site MyFitnessPal to help my weight loss. It’s works by tracking calorie intake and exercise, has a strong community and a large database of foods which you can add to.  Calorie tracking alone isn’t enough but it does work out allowances of things like carbs and fat, so along the way I’m learning good choices and bad choices to keep on track and not feel hungry.  You enter your activity level, how much you want to lose and at what rate (I’ve opted for a pound a week) and it figures out the calorie intake appropriate to you.  Mine is currently 1400 calories a day.  The members forums have helped me learn good foods to eat to not go hungry and we’ve made lots of small changes to our diet.  Seeing as my main tool for weight loss is going to be diet this is a really positive step.

I’ve made a few friends on the site who also have health problems that limit that exercise abilities. I’ve even met someone with ME who manages to work part time that manages to do some mild cardio using the Wii and kettlebell work (kettlebell workout for ME/CFS).

thermal comparison of a 250 lb woman and 120 lb woman and what that extra weight does to the muscloskeletal and visceral system

I’m drinking more fluids, eating more healthily and doing specific exercises to help stretch and tone. I have 50lbs to lose in total, 43lbs to go and if the plan works I’ll be at target this time next year.  It’s a long journey but slow and steady wins the race.  I’m giving myself rewards for every 5lbs lost and I keep looking at beautiful clothes I can wear once I’ve lost the weight :)

I figure losing 50lbs has to make everyday life a little easier and be so much better for my body especially going into my forties and my risk factors increasing for certain diseases.  I’ve finally made the connection that fat isn’t just love handles and thick thighs but fat is around my internal organs too. I have to lose the weight so my body doesn’t have to work so hard.  It’s not going to be easy but I’m determined to make it stick this time.

Created by MyFitnessPal – Free Calorie Counter

9 Responses to “Losing Weight with ME”


  1. 1 Happy (@HappyMECFS) March 31, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    I really want to lose weight as well, but for me ‘exercising’ is walking to the mailbox. There’s no way I could use a rebounder or do arm exercises. Right now, I’m just focused on maintaining my weight and not gaining more, but I’m hoping to make some dietary changes soon, after we get moved and settled.

    • 2 rachelcreative April 1, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      I’ll be honest I’m trying to find different words to use instead of exercise. I know a couple of years ago I couldn’t have done the arm exercises I’m doing now as my muscles weakened a lot faster than they do at the moment. I’ve been heartened on MyFitnessPal by lots of people who have sucessfully lost weight through diet alone. It takes longer, it’s not easy but it’s possible. Walking to the mailbox counts as exercise in my book. My calorie allowance is based on a sedentary life so any extra movement is a bonus. You can even work out how many calories you need if you just lay in bed all day ( a reality for many with ME) and adjust your calorie intake to a small deficit. Of course like I say it’s not just about calories it’s about healthy choices. And it’s not easy especially when you factor in medication, suppliments, dietary needs and so on.

  2. 3 Rachel M April 8, 2012 at 3:38 am

    You are very disciplined woman! And congratulations for your efforts already showing encouraging progress.

    I’ve been keeping my food/calories log at About.com more than a year. Since I’ve already built up my food data base, I better stay there. I cannot do much exercise, but little housekeeping/life maintenance tasks also burn some calories. They are my excercise. ;)

    The benefit of keeping the log for me is that I’ve learnt a lot about food and nutrition. And it alerted me to take vitamin & mineral supplement. With such a low calorie intake and limited food variety, it’s impossible to cover all recommended daily amount.

    Good luck. It’s good that you are also having some fun with it. I can already visualise you turning into fabulous 40 with pride and big smile. ;)

    • 4 rachelcreative April 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      I absolutely believe that the small every day tasks count as exercise when our levels of health are very low. I read early on in my diagnosis that just moving yourself to and from the bathroom to use the toilet is enough to keep you mobile. All those small things are what kept me with some muscle, some strength, some mobility and flexibility which is what I was able to build on as I got a moderate improvement with medication and suppliments.

      It’s goo to hear that logging food has helped you with nutrition. It’s finally clicking into place for me too now. I can certainly see why my iron stores got so low for instance.

      At least this illness gives me some time which I am currently able to use to be disciplined with food and toning/stretching/rebounding. At other times that discipline has been used for art or reading or looking out the window not stressing (depending on how well I was at any time). I hope I can keep the momentum going and stay focused for over a year!!

  3. 5 Tanya May 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I’m glad your weight loss is going well! I hate how difficult having M.E. can make losing weight – it’s an ongoing frustration that drives me crazy sometimes but it makes progress even more satisfying :-)

  4. 6 pyroluriac June 8, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Hi
    Found you through researching chronic fatigue and rebounding. I’ve restarted rebounding lately for lymphatic drainage. (Am now in the middle of a healing crisis.) I have had CFS for probably more than 20 years.
    I grew up a skinny celiac kid, then when I went GF I gained a lot of fat. I thought I was home free, now I can absorb fat, that means I’m absorbing nutrients! WRONG. I was starving even though I was overweight. It took many years to find out about low stomach acid, but now that I have I’m doing so much better. People don’t recognize me. I started taking Betaine HCl w/Pepsin many years ago, but only in small doses with meals. For some reason I decided to take more, and the more I took with meals the better I felt. The weight started melting away and is still coming off slowly. I suggest you do some research into low stomach acid or hypochlorhydria. There are some cautions with using Betaine HCl w/Pepsin: don’t take it unless you’ve eaten a meal with protein, don’t take it if you have an ulcer, don’t take it if you use NSAIDS. If you are using acid blockers, you will be making your problem worse. I believe a lot of obesity is caused because people are HUNGRY! I know I was. Even though my stomach was stuffed, I still had cravings. My meals stayed in my stomach for hours, but still I wanted more.
    BTW, my cravings, yeast, reflux and sleep apnea also went away!
    Also avoid MSG in all it’s pseudonyms, the newest being “natural flavors”. It is designed to make you crave what they are selling.

  5. 7 Patricia Gimlin February 27, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Anecdotally I find Betaine HCL to be VERY effective for digestion. I can feel and see the difference. I’ve tried just betaine HCL supplementation, as well as the NOWfoods Super Enzymes that Robb Wolf recommends. I prefer the Super Enzymes. I find it hard to believe that many big names in the fitness business are wrong about this. ^

    Latest write-up straight from our own blog
    <.http://www.healthmedicinecentral.com/can-men-get-yeast-infections/


  1. 1 Losing Weight with ME progress report – 19 weeks « ChronicallyMe Trackback on June 26, 2012 at 11:24 am
  2. 2 365 Days of Weight Loss with ME « ChronicallyMe Trackback on February 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm

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