Being Overweight with Fibromyalgia and How to Lose Weight
Is there anything worse than gaining excess weight? How about being overweight with a chronic illness? Fibromyalgia sufferers regularly deal with pain, especially those of them that are overweight.
Usually, overweight and obese fibromyalgia patients have difficulty losing weight. This is typically based on both their physical traits as well as common symptoms associated with this disorder.
When they work together, excess weight and fibromyalgia make your quality of life a lot harder. While it may be a bit difficult, it is possible to lose weight and improve fibromyalgia-related symptoms.
What is Fibromyalgia, Really?
Fibromyalgia is an illness caused by chronic musculoskeletal pain all over the body. Oftentimes, this disorder is linked to a form of physical or emotional trauma. Over time, fibromyalgia alters the brain’s processing abilities and increases sensitivity to pain triggers.
This condition usually occurs after a large physical or mental trauma. Common triggers include major surgery, an infection, and even immensely stressful situations. Sometimes, symptoms increase overtime without a traumatic experience.
How Do I Know I Have Fibromyalgia?
There are a number of symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. It’s common for sufferers to experience painful sensations on both sides of the body.
Sufferers also experience pain in both the upper and lower body. Victims usually categorize this pain as a dull ache that gradually increases and lasts for months at a time.
Fibromyalgia causes the brain’s chemical levels to increase at an abnormal rate, causing your brain to rewire itself. As time goes on, fibromyalgia-related pain alters the brain’s neurotransmitters by constantly stimulating the nervous system. This makes the body more sensitive to pain.
In addition to chronic pain, fatigue is a popular symptom among fibromyalgia patients. Fatigue creates a feeling of tiredness, even after a period of rest. Whether it’s pain or other underlying sleep disorders, fibromyalgia sufferers face frequent disruptions during resting periods.
While trouble sleeping or getting enough rest may seem like a minor problem, inadequate amounts of rest negatively impact overall wellness.
For example, if you don’t get enough sleep, operating a vehicle or heavy machinery becomes dangerous. You’re more susceptible to crashing, which can be painful or even fatal.
Inadequate amounts of sleep also slow the healing process. As you sleep, your body rests and makes repairs necessary to function on a high level.
When your body can’t rest, it works around the clock and breaks down even further. With the side effects associated with fibromyalgia, your body needs all the rest it can get.
If you have this chronic condition, it’s likely you’ll also have brain fogginess. Fibromyalgia fog, also known as fibro fog, is a symptom that causes mental fuzziness. Common fibro fog signs include trouble concentrating, lack of alertness, and a lapse in memory.
Some people find the mental disabilities associated with fibromyalgia more bothersome than physical pain. In some cases, fibromyalgia pairs with other painful conditions like painful bladder syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, and temporomandibular joint disorders.
Although both genders acquire these symptoms, women experience them at higher severity.
Based on the stigma of fibromyalgia being a female disease, men fail to get an assessment when they notice symptoms. Similar physical and emotional symptoms affect men, however, they’re more likely to simply deal with them. As men opt into getting an examination, more of them are diagnosed and treated for fibromyalgia.
How did I Get Fibromyalgia?
According to experts at Healthline, the specific causes of fibromyalgia are still unknown. There are, however, contributing factors that doctors believe make someone more susceptible to developing this condition.
Oftentimes, fibromyalgia sufferers have a number of family members who also have this disease. According to Mayo Clinic, healthcare professionals believe a family genetic mutation raises the likelihood of developing fibromyalgia.
Infections also trigger fibromyalgia symptoms. People suffering from the flu, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal tract infections are more likely to receive a positive fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Major physical trauma such as a car crash can also raise your susceptibility. Trauma-related disorders also impact this condition. PTSD sufferers are very likely to develop fibromyalgia.
In addition to traumatic events, high-stress levels also contribute to hormone imbalances, which can trigger this disease.
How Does Being Overweight Impact my Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
Fibromyalgia victims already suffer from chronic pain throughout their entire body. Being overweight contributes to the pain associated with this disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation website, additional weight makes everyday life, especially with fibromyalgia, more difficult.
The additional weight piled onto minimal amounts of muscle contributes to overall pain. Excess weight also worsens fatigue and other fibromyalgia symptoms. Being overweight with this disease is problematic because it causes increased pain and sensitivity.
Being overweight intensifies pain for a number of reasons. For one, fat tissue is a leading cause of full-body inflammation. The more you have, the higher rate the of inflammation
The additional stress put on your joints is another source of pain, especially on your lower body. This makes everyday movement more difficult.
With a fair percentage of patients being overweight, overcoming fibromyalgia is difficult for a lot of sufferers. Typical characteristics associated with being overweight also impact this disorder.
For some people, fibromyalgia causes weight gain. Fibromyalgia sufferers usually have a leptin imbalance. Leptin is a hormone responsible for activating the appetite. With fibromyalgia, your body has a sense of false hunger, which leads to overeating.
Some fibromyalgia victims also deal with thyroid issues, which negatively impact their metabolism. Everyday Health experts suggest that up to 25 percent of fibromyalgia patients have a slower metabolism, which makes digestion take much longer between meals.
Common Fibromyalgia Weight-Loss Barriers
If you’re a fibromyalgia sufferer struggling to lose weight, consider why you’re experiencing complications. Excess weight causes you to be sedentary, which depletes your overall stamina and strength. When you’re overweight, you also experience fluctuating symptoms that interfere with your ability to exercise.
One of the greatest setbacks surrounding fibromyalgia is the roller coaster-like symptoms. According to Verywell Health, you may go from a period feeling fine to symptoms that knock you off of your feet for days and even weeks at a time. Even during the so-called up moments of your condition, you’re still likely to experience symptoms.
During periods of severe symptoms, you’ll be lucky to be able to feed and bathe yourself. Even small workouts during these times would be nothing short of a miracle.
Not to mention the soreness and aches associated with exercising. Therefore, it may be best to avoid strenuous physical activity during these painful periods.
Once you do feel better, you’ve had days or even weeks of downtime, making it hard to get back into the swing of exercising.
Even when you’re feeling better, it’s possible you’ve lost the motivation you had before your symptoms arose. Procrastinating to get back to working out then becomes a hindrance associated with losing weight.
In addition to struggling to exercise, it may be difficult to stick to a healthy diet. Fatigue makes it difficult to grocery shop for healthy meals, which leads to eating fast food.
If fatigue doesn’t impact your ability to cook, fibro fog may make cooking difficult. Fibro fog makes it difficult to remember steps of a recipe or even the ingredients recently added to the dish.
Weight-Loss Techniques for Fibromyalgia
Losing weight is a great way to reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. Less weight on your bones, muscles, and joints relieves your body of added pressure and pain. Less fat also reduces inflammation, which is a large trigger for chronic pain conditions.
It’ll be challenging to lose weight, but it’s worth trying these tips to minimize fibromyalgia symptoms.
1. Keep a close eye on what you eat
It may not seem like a big deal, but certain foods you eat actually contribute to your pain. A diet full of processed foods, alcohol, and artificial trans fats lead to inflammation, which triggers pain. Overindulging in sweets is also responsible for both weight gain and inflammation. When making a shopping list, be sure to shop for healthier choices.
Pro Health contributor Dr. Mark Pelligrino makes recommendations on how to get healthy and lose weight with fibromyalgia. As a fibromyalgia sufferer, he’s created a diet plan to keep this disease in check.
To start, Dr. Pelligrino recommends a protein-rich diet. Lean meats like skinless chicken and fish are great sources of protein.
Eating red meat and sausages are sources of protein, however, they have a higher saturated fat percentage. Do your best to eat these in moderation.
You should also consume dairy, fruit, legumes, vegetables, and good fats. Common good fats include foods with omega-3s, avocados, and nuts. It’s okay to consume butter, however, use plant oils like olive and coconut oil whenever possible.
When you eat, make sure you’re full, but avoid overeating. It’s better for your metabolism to digest smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to fewer, larger meals.
Dr. Pelligrino also suggests sticking to your diet throughout the week and saving your so-called cheat days for the weekend. This way, you can still enjoy your favorite foods without overindulging.
You should also work on staying hydrated. Drinking water helps you eliminate toxins as well as combats fatigue, giving you the necessary energy for activity. If possible, strive for at least eight glasses every day.
2. Exercise in a heated pool
Both fibromyalgia and exercising cause soreness. If you’re one of the fibromyalgia sufferers who struggle to move after working out or symptom flare-ups, try working out in a heated pool. Warm water helps relax tense muscles, which relieves pain. With your muscles relaxed, everyday movement becomes much easier.
If you can’t find a heated pool in your area, there are alternatives. For example, you can take a hot bath or shower prior to working out.
This allows you to relieve tension and exercise without straining. Stretching, a necessary step in your exercise regimen is easier after getting in the shower.
3. Take it slow
Sore muscles, either from working out or fibromyalgia, probably won’t inspire you to hit the gym again. In fact, strenuous workouts force you to recover for days at a time, making them counterproductive.
When it comes to working out, put your pride aside, and start small. Exercising for as little as a few minutes every day provides a greater benefit than longer workouts two or three times a week. Once your body gets used to a few minutes a day, gradually build on your workout routine.
If you’re a bit nervous about creating an exercise regimen, feel free to reach out to a physician. They can provide an examination as well as a custom workout plan to get you on the right track. They also provide someone to discuss your progress and concerns during your journey.
Living with fibromyalgia can be a challenge, especially being overweight. While losing weight makes dealing with chronic pain much easier, it can be difficult to juggle weight loss and your symptoms.
The key to losing weight with fibromyalgia is maintaining healthy habits. Of course, fatigue, dizziness, and other symptoms will occur, however, losing weight makes them more mild and manageable.
Eating a balanced diet and getting enough water help drastically reduce painful symptoms.
You should also make sure that when you do exercise, you start slow and work your way up. You’ll need to wait until your symptoms subside to avoid further strain.
If possible, find a workout center with a heated pool. If you can’t find one, take a hot bath or shower to ease tension before your workout.
If you need extra help getting started, there are plenty of resources. Cindy Stewart has a short YouTube video on how to work out with fibromyalgia.
If you need additional help with losing weight, speak to your physician about healthy weight-loss solutions.