Scale with an apple and hand weight on top with text overlay: Fibromyalgia and Weight Loss

Fibromyalgia and Weight Loss

The scale is not my friend right now. I thought maybe some little elves were getting in my closet at night and shrinking my clothes, but when I stepped on the scale, I knew elves had nothing to do with it…. It’s time to lose a little weight.

Losing weight can be difficult at the best of times. With Fibromyalgia (and many other chronic illnesses), it can be even harder. We have a few unique challenges when we live with chronic pain: we may be on medications that cause weight gain, our energy levels are usually low to non-existent, and pain often keeps us from moving as much as we’d like to.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just that we may have to be a little more patient with ourselves. We may also need to adjust our expectations to match our reality when it comes to deciding our target weight.

This week, I thought I’d share some strategies to make progress with weight loss while working within the limitations set by Fibromyalgia.

Remember — as with everything else where Fibromyalgia is concerned, each person is different, and and what works for one person might not work for another. Also, it’s always important to work closely with your medical team to ensure what you’re undertaking is safe.

Strategies for Weight Loss with Fibromyalgia

Know your “why.” 

As I talked about in Discovering Our “Why” for Wellness Changes, having a solid reason for making changes helps us keep going when things get hard. This “why” needs to be something meaningful to you. For example, my reason for wanting to lose some weight is to improve my health, but why do I want to improve my health? So I can better support the people I love.

Set goals, but focus more on the process than the end goal. 

When we only focus on the end goal, if progress is slow or if we hit a roadblock, we can become discouraged. If, however, we focus on the process – on being consistent with the behaviors we know will lead to goal achievement – the results will follow.

Prepare most meals at home using whole, minimally-processed ingredients. 

This can seem daunting when energy levels are low and we’re in pain all the time, but reducing processed foods and eating whole, natural foods can have a huge impact, not just on our weight, but on our health. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is the single biggest factor in maintaining a healthy body weight.

Control portion sizes. 

Controlling portion sizes doesn’t mean having to weigh and/or measure everything we eat, but it does mean paying attention to the food we’re putting on our plates and in our mouths. On Wednesday, we’ll talk about an easy way to keep portions under control without having to weigh or measure.

Eat mindfully. 

How many of us eat in front of the TV, read while we’re eating, or scroll through Facebook as we’re eating our meals? Have you ever been in a restaurant where two people are sitting at the table, both of them looking at their phones, for the whole meal? I have. Many of us have gotten out of touch with our satiety signals (the cues that tell us we’ve had enough to eat) already, and when we’re distracted on top of that, it’s easy to overeat.

Don’t drink your calories. 

Drinks have the potential to throw a big monkey wrench into your weight loss plan. One of my weaknesses is a mocha from Starbucks. Would you believe that a grande mocha has 363.7 calories? That’s not that much in the grand scheme of things, but if I had one every day, that would be 2545.9 calories in a week. Not drinking our calories is especially important for those of us who already have challenges with burning them off because we’re not able to be as active as we’d like.

Strive for “just a little better,” not perfection.

When we feel we have to do things perfectly, we could be setting ourselves  up for failure. Deciding to do “a little better” can help us make better choices, choose some healthier substitutions, and even have some of those treats we enjoy. Remember that grande Mocha I mentioned? I could completely give them up, but then I might feel deprived. If I just replaced it with a small, though, I could still get my mocha “fix” every now and then and save 165.3 calories each time.

Move more.

Especially when we’re chronically ill, it’s important to find small ways to work more movement into our day. Even if it’s just getting up and moving around a little every hour or so, the extra movement adds up over time. For some movement ideas, check out 21 Small Ways to Move More. Remember, it’s important to increase movement gradually.

Strength train when possible. 

Muscle is more metabolically active (which means it burns more calories) than fat, so gaining muscle can help us lose weight and body fat. Now, just a word of warning – if you’re strength training and gaining muscle, your scale weight could go up, at least temporarily. A better measure of progress could be the fit of our clothes or a change in measurements. For tips on getting started with an exercise program, check out I Like to Move It, Move it. It’s important, especially when we’re just starting out, to give ourselves plenty of rest between sessions in order to help avoid PostExertional Malaise.

Weight loss is almost never easy, and when we deal with additional challenges it can be even more difficult. One vital thing to remember is that the scale doesn’t tell the whole story of our health. Thin doesn’t necessarily equal healthy, and heavy doesn’t necessarily equal unhealthy. Whether the scale moves or not, these strategies can help us get on the path being as healthy as possible.

What have you found that works well for maintaining a healthy body weight? What have you found to be your biggest challenge? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

26 comments

  1. my weight has been a nightmare since my illness took a hold…………it is something that holds on for dear life no matter what I try. depressing!
    great post Terri! may the scale be forever in your favor 🙂

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling with this Wendi. It’s not easy to take weight off, especially when we’re dealing with these additional issues. I hope you’re doing well sweet friend! Oh, and I love the Hunger Games reference….

    1. Thanks so much Corinna! You make a great point about those elves on the scales.😁 You’re so right – the numbers on the scales are just numbers. My primary concern these days is just that I be as healthy as possible. When we live with chronic illness, we just have to be realistic about our goals. Blessings to you!

      1. I started looking up line dancing and tap dancing classes the other day. Hubby was very good – didn’t say a thing – let me come to my own realisation that I couldn’t possibly do either! X

      2. He’s a good Hubby, isn’t he? I ordered the Body Groove Delicious Dance DVD from Amazon. I really like it because the movements aren’t difficult, and they’re easy for me to modify to suit my energy and pain levels. I don’t even try to do the whole workout, either, I just do a song or two at at time. 😊

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Ruth! I think that’s one of the biggest challenges most of us who live with chronic pain face, and it’s a tough one to figure out…. I hope the seminar is helpful for you – I’d love to hear how it goes for you. Blessings to you!

      1. And being an introvert doesn’t help either! Tho I will say, since I got the shots in my back I’ve actually thought about going shopping (this is unusual for me because of the back pain)

  2. I’ve been watching my weight since I was in my teens. My biggest problem is that I am so small (height wise) and with doing so little exercise it’s just a never ending battle to keep on top of it. Xx

    1. Thanks for sharing Bar! Being petite can be a blessing and a curse, can’t it? I’m sorry to hear it’s a battle to keep on top of the weight. Sometimes we have to just do what we can to be as healthy as possible and not worry so much about the scale. When I was at my thinnest adult weight, I was also at my sickest. Now I may not be as thin as I’ve always been, but I’m feeling much healthier overall. Hope all is going well over your way. Sending hugs!

  3. “We may also need to adjust our expectations to match our reality”, so spot on and I think that applies to so much of life with chronic illness. Lots of great tips for those who’re looking to lose a little weight or even working at maintaining. Patience is so important too, and we probably all need to be a little kinder when we speak to ourselves about our weight.
    Caz xx

    1. Thanks so much Caz! I agree with you that needing to adjust our expectations can apply to a lot of different areas of our chronic illness life. Learning to be kind to ourselves can be one of the hardest and most important lessons we learn. Sending love and hugs your way!

  4. So true that it’s not a one size fits all Terri and it’s not even an individual plan but a flexible individual plan from day to day or hour to hour! Main thing, to keep making the effort, no matter how small!

    1. Thanks for sharing Marie! You make such an important point about our plan needing to be flexible from day to day and hour to hour. That’s a huge thing with Fibromyalgia – we have to learn to get back in touch with our bodies and adjust our plans as needed. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Blessings to you!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Jennifer! Yep, those baby steps that we can do consistently and build on over time are what makes us successful in the long run. As you said, it may take a little longer, but that’s okay. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Blessings to you!

    1. Thanks so much Mishka! Walking is such a great all-around exercise, isn’t it? It doesn’t require any equipment, you don’t have to go to a special place (like a gym) to do it, and you can walk whatever distance and at whatever speed you’re comfortable with. I hope you’re doing as well as possible sweet friend. Sending hugs!

  5. What a frustrating topic for so many of us! It really is so much harder to lose weight with chronic conditions. These are great tips. I’m sure many will appreciate them and some were a good reminder of things I’ve been slacking about lately. Thanks! Xx

    1. Thank you so much Michelle! You’re right – losing weight is much tougher when we’re dealing with the challenges of living with chronic illness. We just have to give ourselves some grace when things don’t move as quickly as we’d like and maybe adjust our expectations a little. Sending hugs your way!

  6. Great post with some really great pointers that are easy for anyone to follow! I really like how you put an emphasize on having attainable goals and going through the process. Disappointment derails the best of us! Thanks for a great post!

    1. Thanks so much Stace! As you said, “disappointment derails the best of us” and taking those small steps we can do consistently and build on can help us avoid that. We live in this “fast-food” society where we want immediate results, but those kind of expectations set us up for failure. I say let’s keep it doable and give ourselves some successes so we’re motivated to keep going. 😊 Blessings to you!

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