8 years ago the NHS (bless their cotton socks) diagnosed me with IBS. They then proceeded to put me on a bunch of various exclusion diets (read – starvation diets) with no effect for my symptoms than to make me very sick and lose a lot of weight. By the time we got to the correct diagnosis 2 years later (coeliac disease, lactose intolerance and a couple of other randomly unconnected allergies) I had not just lost 15kg in weight but i’d effectively lost all my muscle tone.
My current weight is 48kg which I’m not entirely happy about but seem unable to put it back oh. I’m 5″8 and 28 years old. I’ve TRIED the gym but I have nothing to work with and all the personal trainers I’ve had (4) just seem to be geared towards body builders or those who want to lose weight. According to some machine in my local gym my body fat percentage is in single figures which I personally find a little hard to believe but I can assure you, its probably not much. So I tried eating more. I’m coeliac and lactose intolerant and those diets are not the easiest to cope with and I just found myself getting miserable and bloated because I was trying to eat more.
Any exercise now levels me and I hate going to the gym as 2 minutes running on the treadmill and really i’m about to collapse. I will not forcefeed myself to give myself fat to turn into muscle as its only going to give myself a bad relationship with food.
So, what options are available for me?
It sounds like you’ve been through a lot, so I’m glad you finally received the correct diagnosis. Based on that, you may want to seek guidance from a Registered Dietitian (if you haven’t already) who may specialize in your conditions and ensure you are getting the proper nutrients. A specialized plan can be developed to help you put the weight on that you want.
Your nutrition will have a big impact on not only your weight, but also on your energy levels which impact your workouts. You mention that any exercise levels you (as opposed to doing too much too soon on the treadmill?), so I would start by making sure you are getting the proper nutrients into your body.
I hope others also have some suggestions for you as well…
Your situation is quite difficult. Just one of the issues would be a challenge. To have several digestive related issues is much more complicated. Have you found a protein source that you tolerate well? It is very important that you find a high quality source of protein. You may need to find two or three that you can mix to come up with enough complete amino acid combination for optimal muscle growth. I would also recommend finding a Registered Dietician to help you. It is very likely that finding one with experience with such a complicated history will be difficult. You may need to educate anyone you find so they can help you. Or at least direct them to resources that you have found that will help them to help you.
As to gaining back muscle/putting on more muscle. This will be slow. Again, attempt to find a fitness instructor that wants to learn how to help you in the most effective way possible. I would recommend that you not “run” for your fitness. Running beyond sprinting short distances is not conducive to muscle mass. I usually do not make recommendations without more information. And I caution you to pay very close attention when you are lifting/exercising. Stop if you feel any pain or symptoms like nausea, dizziness, etc. In your situation, this will be very likely to occur. Stop exercising and let the symptoms subside before attempting to continue. If stopping and returning to exercising makes the symptoms get worse, take more time between bouts of exercise as necessary. I would start you off with some isolation exercises for the major muscle groups and use selectorized machines for safety initially. These are machines that have weight stacks and belts/cables usually running over various pulleys attached to a piece of the machine that you push/pull with your arms or legs. I would have you work on building up your strength slowly over weeks (10 to 12 weeks) till you could handle using a heavy weight that you can only perform 4 to 6 repetitions with for all of the muscle groups. I would reduce the weight anytime you had more than mild muscle soreness after working out. Again it is very important that you find an instructor to help you with this. And it will take time to build up to an effective weight safely. How many sets of each exercise will also need to be progressed slowly as tolerated. The amount of exercise will depend on your ability to not only perform the exercises, but on how well you recover from each set and each session. This is where someone with knowledge on exercise is very important.
One other thing. It is also important to eat the protein you can tolerate as soon as possible after your training sessions. You may need to eat small amounts over a longer period to consume enough protein to make a difference in your muscle mass. But it has been shown that consuming about 20g of protein with 40 to 60g of quality carbohydrates within 30 minutes of exercising to be the most productive in gaining muscle mass. The effectiveness is reduced the longer you wait to consume this. And is almost not worth the effort of eating after about an hour to an hour and a half. Talk about this with a Registered Dietician. You may need to eat small amounts of the protein/carb mix while you workout. I don’t know how that will go with your issues. You and your RD will probably have to experiment with the way you do this.
I would be happy to help anyone you find to work with you. They can contact me through this website or my website, www.hawaiifitnessacademy.com . Again, I recommend that do not try to do this on your own. Your situation is very complicated. Best of luck.
Hello Karen Lannon,
I confirm that working with a registered dietitian would be greatly beneficial for you. If you do not like who you find, look for another until you find someone who will work with you. The same goes for a personal trainer; find someone you like for training sessions.
There is plenty you can do, do not give up hope. It sounds as though you should back off the intense cardio and do some bodyweight training.
Please remember to listen to your body; the professionals know their job, only you know your body.
Best of health to you,
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B FIt.
I love all these comments. The best advice I can give you is to never give up. I know you have had bad experiences with trainers in the past but there are some great trainers out there. Find a personal trainer who can help you in person. Maybe find someone who has been through something like you so they can relate to your situation. Don’t lose hope because the previous trainers have not done the best job. Keep looking! I would suggest not working with an online trainer yet. Let someone in person help you find something that will work. Once you know what works, then you can go the online coaching route.