As you may have noticed, our Low Carb Sisters blog has been very quiet over the past 10 months. I’m finally able to fill you in a bit on what’s been going on. I’ve had some unanticipated challenges in my life that have tested me and my low carb way of eating. Through trial and error, I’ve developed a few strategies that have enabled me take low carb through the curves. Perhaps they can help you on your own road to health.
It was about this time last year that our 10-month old blog experienced a burst of attention when my weight loss story was featured in the cover story of the January 23, 2017, issue of Woman’s World weekly magazine! It was an exciting time, and Deb and I looked forward to growing our blog over the year to come.
Life, as it sometimes does, had other plans for me. About a month later, in February 2017, I was hit hard with what appeared to be a nasty bout of influenza. After a month of extreme fatigue and body aches, I slowly began to improve over the course of a few weeks, when I suddenly relapsed and my symptoms intensified even further. The joint pain became chronic and I eventually needed to be on medications around the clock in order to manage the pain. I also struggled with fuzzy thinking and difficulty in concentrating (beyond the side-effects of my medications).
Months went by with no improvement. My doctor suspected that I was having a relapse of a similar 4-month-long illness I had experienced 3 years earlier, but which my doctors were unable to diagnose at the time, even after I gradually recovered. That episode was frightening, but it also emphasized to me the fragility of health. The experience served as a catalyst for me to finish losing the last 75 pounds of a 130-pound weight loss and reach a robust level of fitness I hadn’t known in 30 years. That journey of reclaiming my health is what ultimately led to the creation of this blog.
I was devastated to find my life hijacked yet again by a mystery illness that left me house-bound and wondering if I would ever recover, or even if the cause would be revealed. After 7 months and many medical tests, including a lumbar puncture and other neurological testing that ruled out a long list of diseases and conditions, my doctor diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). It’s more commonly known as CFS in the United States, but often as ME in other countries.
Without going into great detail, ME/CFS is a disabling and complex long-term condition affecting the brain and other systems. Debilitating fatigue is the most prominent symptom. Other common symptoms include body pain, unrefreshing sleep, and mental confusion (brain fog). Symptoms may come and go, or there may be changes in how severe they are over time. People with ME/CFS are not able to function the same way they did before they became ill. It can last for years and sometimes leads to serious disability. There is no cure or approved treatment for ME/CFS. However, some symptoms can be treated or managed that might provide relief for some patients but not others.¹
While ME/CSF sounds pretty grim (and it certainly can be), the good news is that it is not terminal and there is hope for improvement over time. While the past 10 months have been the most difficult of my life, the average of my symptoms has been slowly improving over the past few months. The most frustrating part is how unpredictable my symptoms are day-to-day, and how little I’m able to accomplish compared to my life before.
8 Strategies for Challenging Times
You might be wondering how this past year has affected my low carb way of eating and my weight loss maintenance. The short answer is that it has changed the way I eat to a degree, but I still follow a low carb, grain-free diet. I’ve managed to maintain my weight in within 5 to 10 pounds of my goal weight of 135 pounds, even with the very sedentary lifestyle I now have as a result of my illness. There have been numerous adjustments I’ve had to make, in terms of how I eat and nearly every other aspect of my life. Let me just say that it hasn’t been easy, and it sure hasn’t been Instagram-worthy. 😉 However, as with most big challenges, I’ve learned a number of helpful strategies, and I thought I’d share a few of the major ones with you:
#1 Embrace ‘Good Enough’
#2 Ask for Help
#4 Break It Up
#5 It’s OK to Get Discouraged
#6 Give Yourself Time to Adapt
#7 Look for the Wins
#8 Choose ‘Acceptance with a Fighting Spirit’ ¹
Of course, these lessons apply to many facets of life, but I want to specifically address how I’ve worked to implement them in order to keep on low carbing through my own challenging times. In the spirit of Strategy #4, Break It Up, I’m going to share the details (my tactics, if you will) in an 8-part series, Staying Low Carb During Challenging Times, coming soon.
We’d love to hear about the ways you’ve helped yourself take low carb through the curves. It’s OK if your wheels wobble — mine do, too. 😉 Feel free to share in the comments section!
More Resources for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)carbing
¹Bruce Campbell. Managing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia: Feel Better, Take Charge, Regain Hope. CSH Press.