Exercise, Weight Loss, and Chronic Illness

2020 has been a blur, hasn’t it? So much has happened and I can hardly believe it’s all been packed into five months! While our nation and the world is in all kinds of chaos, there are certain things that have not changed. Chronic illness stops for nothing. So, I will continue to support you by bringing you some new insights and information as I find them.

This month’s topic has been near and dear to my heart for over twenty years as I’ve struggled with my weight, diets, and exercise that all promised great results but delivered bupkis.

I’ve been steadily gaining weight since I had my son almost 21 years ago and I began my perimenopause journey. However, a little more than three years ago, I had a total hysterectomy and that’s when my body decided to make up for in width what I lacked in hight! Since I was mostly a healthy eater and had no issues with cravings, stress eating, or portion control, I was at a loss to find something that actually worked for me.

As I mentioned before, limiting calories to 1200/day had not worked AT ALL for me because left to my own devices, I was only eating 900 – 1000 calories/day. So, my attention next turned to exercise. BUT…there’s a HUGE problem with exercise for those of us with chronic illness. Here’s an excerpt from an article I found online:

It’s basic physiology—when you feel sluggish, unmotivated and fatigued, getting up and doing some exercise causes changes in your body that boost your energy. Exercise also releases endorphins in the brain, and endorphins are great pain killers. So when people say those of us with Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome would feel better if we got “more exercise,” there’s something to it, right? Actually, no. In normal, healthy people, yes—exercise creates energy. Problem is, we’re not normal and healthy.

And what are these endorphins people speak of? I’m pretty sure they don’t have those on my planet. My husband always told me that he feels GREAT after exercising and taking a shower. I never had enough energy after exercise TO take a shower. The best I felt after a “work out” was slightly more tired than you normally feel when you have the flu!

In my experience, even as a teen in high school (after eight months of doing two back to back 30-minute aerobics tv shows), I couldn’t get off the floor to take a shower and go to school. As I got older, it only got worse. In recent years, I have never gotten past two or three weeks of “gentle walking” on the treadmill without having a flare and giving up for a month…or several.

The dangers of exercise for chronic illness sufferers are flares and injury. Doing too much can cause a flare in your pain and/or fatigue and that flare can last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks or longer for some. Injury is a concern even for those who don’t have a chronic illness but don’t exercise regularly. After walking on the treadmill a while back for as much as three weeks, I injured my foot requiring six surgical procedures!

The most difficult part of this for me is knowing when is too much. I can have no problem for weeks and suddenly, in a matter of a few seconds, I’m done! I’m exhausted. No warning. Nothing telling me it was coming. Anyone have this? And further, when something is too much, I have no idea how long my recovery from a flare will be. Sometimes it’s a few hours. Sometimes it’s seven weeks.

I have no way of knowing, but some people can feel it coming on. Some can tell when they are going to need to stop and some know that doing X will likely cause Y amount of time to recover. Some know when it’s too much but have no idea of how long recovery might take. I have no indication of either.

If you can start slow, build slowly, and you can find what works for you, there are many benefits of exercise for chronic illness. For some, exercise is a way of feeling healthier or building strength or even easing some of their pain symptoms. For some, the goal was weight loss.

I was never able to exercise enough to contribute to any weight loss. I was way too fatigued to do enough of it to yield any weight loss results. After gaining 50% of my weight in FAT, I thought I’d never lose it.

Everyone gave me lots of ideas, but nothing worked for me. I heard about the Keto Diet but found it too complicated even for those who lost weight with it to explain it to me in four sentences or less. I had all but given up when I found a health coach that was able to tailor a plan just for me and tweak it along the way when things went sideways. And that’s how things work on my planet so that happened a LOT!

I think most of the issues we, as chronic illness folk, have with traditional programs of any kind are that we aren’t your typical, average person. We may not even be typical for whatever diagnoses we have! I know I’m not!

Just like I was blessed to find a doctor who not only understands my chronic illnesses but who is willing to listen and tweak my treatment, what made all the difference for me was my health coach. I found one that knows her stuff and also is open to listening to the issues I was having that weren’t normal. If someone had told me what the average person needs to do to lose weight and left me on my own to figure it out, I’d have quit after my second week!!

After losing 15 pounds, I finally began to notice an improvement in my fatigue, sleep, and a decrease in the number and severity of my flares. Fatigue is still the BIGGEST issue I deal with even more so than the pain. It’s no where near gone, but there is a noticeable improvement!

Each one of us has to find what works for our individual needs. My coach, Mary, has been such a blessing! At the time I’m writing this, I’ve lost 15 lbs and 17 inches so far. If you’ve had a tough time losing, check her out. She’ll talk to you about how she can help with no obligation whatsoever! If you do, tell her JoJo says hello!

What diet, eating program, or exercise have you found works for you?

Make sure you check back next week when I’ll be sharing some insights I found about food that has proven very interesting to combat fatigue!

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Happy New Year, Survivors!

I started this blog almost three years ago with the intent to support those with chronic illness and conditions because it’s the chronic part of those terms that make life so much more difficult. It can be a lonely life because chronic issues can limit what we can do or how much of it we can do. It’s isolating.

My heart was to bring some joy, information, support, and humor to a group of weary people who often feel alone and hopeless to control a life they don’t recognize anymore.

My goal is to help others to find the road to living a Life Beyond Surviving! I pray you’ll join me in 2020 to make it your best year with chronic illness yet!

I’d love to hear how this blog has helped you so far. Please leave a comment with your thoughts and suggestions for future posts. Until then, Happy New Year, Survivors!

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Merry Christmas, Survivors!

I pray that this blog has been a blessing to you in 2019. I hope you keep coming back for inspiration, support, understanding, and tips. It’s my mission to uplift those with chronic illness and other chronic conditions and to give them the support they need not only to live better with their chronic issues, but to live a life beyond surviving!

May we continue to journey together in 2020 to bridge the gap from here to there.

Merry Christmas! May God bless you and your family!

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One of the Worst Things to Say to a Believer Who is Hurting-Repost

I want to follow up on my two-part series on Polly Positive to bring you this article I wrote many years ago for my Art of Eloquence communication blog. I was talking about how we communicate with those who are struggling with chronic illness actually affects them, even if the person’s intentions are good. While Polly’s intentions are to bring the person back to Jesus, the timing isn’t right and the message that comes across is quite damaging and, in fact, not biblical:

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” -Proverbs 16:24

Sad

I’ve seen it so many times. A sister in the Lord opens up to share a struggle she is going through in the hopes that the fellowship will bring strength to a weary heart. Instead of support, sympathy or understanding, she receives condemnation by well-meaning and faith-filled believers. In place of words of peace and comfort, they rebuke the poor sinner for not having enough faith. They remind her of the mustard seed, how faith can move mountains and how big God is, but what does that do to her suffering? Does it relieve her suffering or does it, in fact, increase it and place the blame squarely on her?

This is actually one of the worst things you can communicate to a believer who is hurting. Why? Because what you’re saying is:

1. Your suffering is your fault

By telling a believer that she doesn’t have enough faith in God, you are telling her that she wouldn’t be suffering if she only had more faith. Since she either doesn’t believe she has little faith or doesn’t see how she can have more, she feels you are telling her that she is ONLY suffering because of her own lack of faith. Essentially, this belittles her suffering. After all, people don’t feel as sorry for those who cause their own suffering as we do for those who are suffering through no fault of their own.

2. You wouldn’t suffer if you only had more faith

After being told she has caused her own suffering through unbelief, the only option given her is more belief. This is sort of like telling someone “Be happy!” Have you ever been upset and been faced with a situation in which you had to go out and put on your happy face? It was difficult, wasn’t it? Magnify that tenfold and think how difficult it would be to put on your happy face after having lost a loved one to cancer or after being faced with financial ruin. Can they do it? I’m sure some could, but what does it require? It usually requires a time of mourning, a time of rebuilding after a period of support and strength that comes from fellowship. Telling someone to have faith after you just told them they didn’t have any, isn’t helpful and it can be a huge detriment to their ability to bounce back after a devastating event.

3. Your suffering is not going to stop until you have more faith

This poor hurting soul who was reaching out for comfort and strength is now frustrated because she is being told that, no matter how the struggle began, it is now her fault, the only cure is more belief and she cannot find an ounce more in her suffering so it’s never going to end. She is now convinced her suffering will go on indefinitely! Struggles are difficult enough when we believe they are somewhat temporary, but when we see no end in sight, struggles take on new depths of sorrow.

We can all build our faith. Even the most faith-filled Christian can become even stronger in the Lord, but this growing in faith usually comes after a period of mourning the loss at the root of the struggle and a period of gathering strength from family, friends and the Lord.

Telling someone their suffering comes from their unbelief is unbiblical. Here are just three examples from scripture:

1. If all suffering comes from not having enough faith, why was Paul suffering?

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” -2 Corinthians 12:7

2. If all suffering can be reversed by having more faith, why wasn’t Paul healed?

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” -2 Corinthians 12:8

3. If Christians are not supposed to discuss their feelings when they are suffering, how can you explain Job?

“Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.” –Job 23:2

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” –Job 42:10

Telling a person who is suffering, especially when the suffering is new, that they simply need more faith is not only unhelpful, but it can frustrate and depress the person even further. This is where more communication skill is needed. Be careful at this vulnerable time in this believer’s life that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29

Please share your comments, thoughts, and experiences here.  I’d love to hear from you.

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I’m taking a blog hiatus

Just a quick note to let you know that I’ll be taking some time off from my blogs and newsletter for the next several months while I concentrate on my health and a project my husband and I are working on together.

I recently added a few new diagnoses to the growing list. Last year I was diagnosed with Essential Tremors and just recently with an esophageal issue. It’s going to take me some time to find some treatments that can help, especially since my fibro has kicked up another notch.

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Insomnia FUN

So as many of you know, I have had insomnia daily for over 19 years – even on meds. The other night was especially difficult and when I had some coffee in me, I created these memes. Whatcha think?

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Living on BONUS Time

It’s my birthday today!  I’m 55.  On the one hand, it seems too soon for me to feel 55, but on the other hand, I could have been denied the opportunity.  If you’ve read my Miracle Story, you know that it’s entirely possible that I would have never made it to see my 55th birthday.  No matter what chronic health issues or other issues I face now, I can look to that and feel blessed that I had the extra time to feel however I feel about that issue.  It got me thinking…

You know that old saying, “I’m living on borrowed time?”  I was thinking the other day that I’m living on Bonus Time.  There comes a time in some people’s lives when they are keenly aware of being given extra time here on this earth.  You may not be aware that God saved you from being killed in a car wreck by diverting your traffic to a different street.  You may not be aware that you narrowly missed a gun fight at the OK Morale, but you are keenly aware of the bonus time God has given to you when you hear several of your doctors all in awe of the fact that they found a rare and aggressive cancer in its infancy when most women die because it’s found too late to help them.

Living on Borrowed Time means to me that you have a short time left, but Living on Bonus Time means I have no idea how long I have on this earth just like anyone else.  But it does make me more likely to want to do more with whatever time I have left than most people might.

For all of you who have escaped a death sentence, you know how blessed you are and I’m willing to bet that you don’t want to waste the time you’ve been granted.  But for all the rest of you out there, I’m going to challenge you.  Like me, you have no idea how much time you have left.  You could live another 50 years or you could step off a curb tomorrow into oncoming traffic and it’s all over.

What are you doing to do with whatever time YOU have left?

 

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About Me

I’m JoJo Tabares.

I’m a child of God, wife of 31 years, retired homeschooling mom of two, author, speaker, self-professed goofball, and purple lover from waaaay back!

I remember a phrase used by my Bradley birthing coach when describing how I’d feel just prior to giving birth.  When you feel like you can’t stand the pain anymore, that’s when the birthing journey is almost over. You can endure anything for a short time, but it’s the chronic issues that wear us down and shake our faith.

I’ve learned some life lessons along the way and I aim to support and uplift those who suffer from chronic illness and issues who are in desperate need of hope, love, support, understanding and uplifting,

I look at life through scripture sprinkled with humor because, when life’s not fair, I have found that you can still find laughter and joy if you look hard enough.

I keep it real.  No rah rah here!  BUT I always bring us back to the Lord!  Come join me, won’t you?

 

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