Exercise, Habits, Health Struggles

Accountability: Life with Chronic Fatigue

Getting some Exercise.

Workout RecordI have found a really nice way for me to get some physical activity in each and every day. It is a mild workout that I can increase or decrease as necessary. I have started taking my little dog for walks around our neighborhood. Some of these walks are quite short, less than a half mile. Others are a bit more.

This past week I tried something new. I was doing a little bit of strength training, or other body weight exercises in the morning, and walking the dog in the evening. It worked really well for me for about a week. On Saturday last week I took the kids outside and we walked around the neighborhood. It was a lovely day, the sky was so blue. When we got back to the house I was not ready to get back to the household chores so we stayed outside and played for a bit. I did some body weight exercises such as squats, and wall push ups. I did a very light jog from the front door to the driveway. It was a fun way for me to exercise with the kids.

I was very careful to keep my time short because I know that if I do too much I end up paying for it later.

Well, I did anyway.


Living with Chronic Fatigue

When I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue a decade ago, there was very little my doctor could tell me about the syndrome. Since that time doctors have learned a lot more about it. They have recently renamed it to:

Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease

One of the reasons Chronic Fatigue was renamed to Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease because it is a disease process that causes the sufferer to experience debilitating fatigue and weakness following either cognitive or physical exertion. (For more information about the name change see this article in the New York Times. 

The price I paid

Saturday my 10 minutes of over exertion, [very slight over exertion I might add.] was followed by a stress-filled Sunday morning with car trouble. I ended up spending Sunday afternoon in bed, and not really able to do much at all. My husband played outside with the kids while I sat and read a book after I took a 3.5 hour nap. What happened to me is what happens to many people with Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease. My body can’t handle too much exertion. I don’t fully understand why it behaves the way it does. I know it is very frustrating for. I want to be strong and capable of doing what I see others doing as they take long jogs and prepare for marathons. I don’t know if I will ever be able to do something like that. Perhaps, but I doubt it. For me it plays out like this:

I woke up Sunday tired and achy, but nothing too severe. I got going as I always do and we did our jobs to get the kids dressed and out the door for church. By the time we returned home and got lunch for the kids I was throbbing from head to toe. I said to my husband more than once, “I really don’t feel well.” By the time I made it back to my bed I felt like I had a high fever. My body ached, and I was very weak. It was even hard to just sit up in my recliner. So I went to bed and slept for almost 4 hours. I woke up and my body was still throbbing, but the weakness was better. I was able to sit in my recliner and help get the kids to bed.

Taking a rest.

Sunday I was able to get my walking time in during the problem we had with the car that morning. Since then I have not been able to exercise. I find this part of my health journey very frustrating. One of the treatments for Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease is exercise. The very thing that puts me in bed is exercise. Finding the balance that I can tolerate without pushing too hard is a difficult line to walk at times. So for now I will rest, and allow my body to recover.

My Plan:

  • Start walking my dog again and walking the shorter route.
  • Try and increase my walking to 20 minutes each day.
  • Wait to add back in my strength training for a few weeks to build up more endurance.

I hope that if you are dealing with a debilitating, chronic illness that you won’t give up hope. There are things we can do to try to improve our lives each day. My health journey isn’t going to look like yours, neither will it look like the powerfully strong ladies I see on the internet whom the lord has blessed in physical ways.  I want to find contentment in my journey, while seeking to glorify God in my life. I want to be healthy which means I need to keep working to eat better and to get some physical activity.


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