How MG Changed My Relationship With Exercise and Weight
For most of my life, I’ve had a complicated relationship with my weight. I played sports in my early years, but because of my deep and abiding love for sugar and white bread, I was always a chubby kid. And while I wish I could get back to the svelteness I had as a toddler, my clothing size normally hovers around that of the average American woman. But as I’ve grown older, my thoughts about exercise and weight have become less superficial and more focused on physical health.
In the years before I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG), I’d describe my exercise routine as reluctant. I enjoyed moving around, but usually waited to exercise until I felt super disgusted with myself, such as after eating a ton of fried food.
MG created additional complications. At first, it caused me to lose weight. With muscle weakness affecting my ability to chew and swallow, I had a difficult time eating. And the less food I ate, the more weight I lost.
But because exercise was no longer an option, I eventually started to regain the weight. And once I started taking prednisone, my body immediately changed. My face and my stomach grew rounder, and the rest of my lost weight returned with a vengeance.
Another wrench was thrown into my complicated relationship with weight when others recommended that I lose a few pounds, in the hope that it would help me manage my illness. While studies have shown that exercise can help to reduce muscle fatigue, I wasn’t exactly in the mood to heed this advice.
Once I stopped taking prednisone, I lost about 20 pounds fairly quickly. At that point, my muscles were stable, and I could start exercising and moving around more. But after years of suffering from weakness, I was afraid to overexert myself and revert back to the worst of my MG. It took a while for me to feel comfortable doing anything more than walking around the neighborhood.
I now work out two to three times a week on my Peloton. I try to limit fried foods and sugary treats, but that will always be a work in progress. And now, when I think about weight, I focus on my insides rather than my outsides. When I choose a healthier food option, I’m intentionally caring for my heart, brain, and other organs. And when I hit “Start” on a workout, I feel happy and grateful that I can move at all.
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