If you suffer from chronic fatigue, like me, here are some top tips on helping avoid burn-out and reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia for example…
1) Tips on chronic fatigue
It may say sound strange, but my top tip for chronic fatigue is movement. I’m not fond of the word exercise as it has specific connotations and expectations.
You can start with 3 mins every other day and build up over weeks. There are plenty of rehabilitation chair workouts and chair yoga routines available online or on YouTube for free.
All disease begins in the gut” – Is a quote attributed to Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. Look at your gut. Do you have gas? I.B.S.? Constipation? Pain? Do certain foods not sit well?
Begin to remove those foods and irritants, restore the gut and replenish. Remember, all food is not just what you digest from the plate. It is also your other things that affect your digestion, such as relationships, sleep, work, and creativity. It would help if you also nourished these areas too.
Bone broth is an excellent way of nourishing the gut. It is a great and cost-effective way to repair the intestinal lining and reduce inflammation in our digestive organs. You can make it and then freeze it in ice cube trays and then have a small cup before a meal or add to soups, curries, stews, add to boiling your rice, or even add to smoothies.
2) Tips for those with fibromyalgia
The first thing I recommend is to get yourself a food diary. You can print one out and fill it in daily, marking all food and drink consumption and doing a sleep and pain score.
Over time you will begin to see patterns emerging with certain foods, drinks and environmental factors. Start to remove and replace the “trigger” foods, address lifestyle choices, and see your scores transform in the sleep and energy section. All my clients keep a food diary. It is a great way of finding your triggers and building a new diet on and off the plate that supports your wellness journey.
It may be beneficial to do an elimination diet for 21 days where you remove all the common triggers and slowly introduce them in week four and see how the body reacts.
The common trigger foods are:
- Refined sugar
Sleep hygiene is a must. Many of us do not get enough sleep or wind down to prepare for sleep. I advise 90 mins of no screens or work before sleep, “90 before nightie”. Many smartphones actually have a bedtime setting to remind you when it’s time to slow down before bed. It’s a handy tool to remind you to turn off the T.V. or swap the Kindle for a paper book.
Stress is a huge burden on the modern body, a common complaint with many people, and just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s healthy. I advise anyone suffering from pain or chronic fatigue to do Nidra Yoga (also known as Yogic Sleep). A great deal of scientific research supports the belief that Nidra Yoga is a key restorative practice to relieve stress.
Studies reveal that it both repairs and regenerate cells. It has even been applied by the U.S. Army to assist soldiers in recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Yoga Nidra can be used first thing in the morning when you may not have had enough sleep or had interrupted or disturbed sleep. It is said that 20 to 30 mins of yoga Nidra is like having 2 to 4 hours of deep sleep for the body. I encourage clients who are able to take 20 mins in the afternoon to do a session of guided Nidra Yoga to combat chronic fatigue or that 3pm dip.
Look at reducing your intake of refined sugar; this can be challenging as it is many processed foods and has many names, such as fructose, sucrose, dextrose, molasses. All these words are names for sugars and are often lurking in much marketed low fat, low sugar and gluten-free products.
Sugar is a huge endocrine disrupter and also encourages yeast and candida overgrowth, which negatively affects the gut, where we all know that nearly 70 per cent of your immune system is housed.
I have one client that was on medication for fibromyalgia for years, and we followed the practices above. And after three weeks, she was already back to doing regular 10 to 20 mins of exercise three times a week. Her energy had risen from a 4 to an 8. She was now getting a full 8 hours sleep where for 2 years she had to get up during the night to take a pain killer. By week 10 of her programme, her medical team took her off her medication.
3) Specific tips separately on exercising for hormones and fertility
Many of us are led to believe that periods are painful, cramps and make us moody. They don’t have to. Your period should come and go with no headaches, no crying, no need for pain killers or lying on the sofa with a tub of ice cream and a hot water bottle.
I recommend getting a period tracker app so you can get to know your menstrual cycle and your body better and log in every day.
Flo Health is my favourite: https://flo.health, but there are many more out there to suit Android and Apple.
The four phases of the menstrual cycle are menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase, and within these phases, your different hormones rise and fall, and they have a direct impact on your energy levels as well as your flexibility and risk of injury. For example, around the Ovulation phase, your ligaments are more relaxed, so you should take care to take time to stretch and cool down to prevent injury.
- Relaxing flow yoga
- Bodyweight cardio
- Lighter strength training
- Resistance band training
The follicular stage
- Higher-strength training
- Circuit training
- Power yoga
- Gentle yoga
As with all guidance, this is general, and as I emphasised, we all have bio-individuality, so it’s not a one rule fits all. This is why it is so important to use a tracker to deepen your relationship of understanding your own personal cycle and begin to tailor your workouts to balance and get the best out of your body
To increase fertility fitness, it is advised to keep active, keeping inflammation low and the blood circulation flowing. As with everything, we all have different levels of fitness, and the key is not necessarily how much you do, but how often, little and often is better than slogging it out and having a burnout and placing extra stress on the body. Look at swimming, yoga, long walks, a frequent small burst of energy and resistance band training are all great fertility workouts.
Harvard University guide on fertility fitness and weight are:
Weighing too much or too little can interrupt normal menstrual cycles, throw off ovulation or stop it altogether. The best range for fertility is a body-mass index (B.M.I.) of 20 to 24. Working to move your B.M.I. in that direction by gaining or losing some weight is almost as good.
Harvard also advises reducing high-intensity workouts when trying to conceive. If you don’t get much physical activity and are above the fertility zone for weight, daily exercise can help improve fertility. But don’t overdo it: too much exercise, especially if you are quite lean, can interfere with ovulation.”
This also goes for men too, as excessive exercise could lower your sperm count indirectly by lowering the amount of testosterone in your body.
According to one study, overdoing it on cardio at the gym could harm fertility in men, as being too lean was found to be worse for sperm count than being overweight. Dr Yuewei Liu of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology states:
Our study provides evidence that being underweight and overweight are both associated with lower semen quality and highlights the importance of maintaining a normal weight for men
As with everything, we should encourage balance and not boosting our minds and bodies. When we come into balance, we lower inflammation, disease within the body, symptoms decrease or reverse, and the body has the opportunity to thrive.