The struggle of health, fitness & chronic illness

I feel like the struggle of health, fitness and chronic illness isn’t discussed nearly enough. For 4 months at the end of last year I was sedentary. I was very low in B vitamins which made me extremely weak and tired- even more so than normal. My house had several floors and I couldn’t battle the steep stairs anymore, unless I had to for an important appointment. Worse, my treadmill was downstairs so I couldn’t go work out unless I had someone to help me.

Having lost all the fitness I had built up at the rehabilitation centre, I’m now starting again from scratch. So far this week I’ve walk 35 minutes on the treadmill. I’m physically and mentally exhausted. When I was healthy it never occurred to me that people could struggle so much with movement and exercise. You can’t really understand what it’s like without experiencing it yourself.

Now I have a love/hate relationship with exercise. Being in a wheelchair makes fitness and weight loss more complicated. Most exercises need to be modified in some way. I’ve put on weight, which is mentally very hard. When I got my taste back after chemotherapy I would treat myself and eat anything with carbs and sugars, but I don’t have the energy to keep the weight off with exercise, so I end up with a very complicated and unhealthy relationship with food. When I notice another stretch mark I try not to wallow and spiral over unhealthy eating and a lack of exercise, but it’s difficult to control.

A great resource that helps me exercise is this website called physiotherapy exercises. It’s a free tool for creating exercise programs tailored to people with injuries or disabilities.

I also follow some instagram accounts that motivate and inspire me:

actively autoimmune

yoga_mybed_and_me

why_charlie

fibro_yogisticci

angiedixon

ownitbabe

This article from the wellness boulevard really resonates with me: 5 ways to safely workout with chronic illness-autoimmune disease. It’s insightful and well written. Personally I find it quite confronting because I exercise for my weight not my health.

I’m a little embarrassed about how little I can actually do, so I push myself a bit too hard sometimes. I know it’s unhealthy, but I just don’t know where I would start. ‘Do what you can’ doesn’t really work when you can’t really do anything.  I don’t even want to say it but I feel shame from my inactivity, weight gain and stretch marks. I want to get back to feeling good, but I feel overwhelmed. I guess I have a lot to learn about body positivity and just accepting myself.

The struggle is real.