Endometriosis and me – From surviving to thriving
Endometriosis? Yes, I can see you screwing your face up wondering ‘how on earth do I pronounce that?…’ (en-doh-me-tree-o-sis) and ‘what on earth is it – sounds contagious?!’
Well, it isn’t contagious but it’s as nasty as it sounds. Endometriosis is a condition that affects as many as one in 10 women. It causes the lining of the womb to grow in places it shouldn’t like; outside the womb, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and bowels. And, just like womb lining, it also tries to shed every month causing inflammation, internal bleeding, scarring and in most cases excruciating pain (doubled up on the floor, crying, screaming, wondering-if-you’re-actually-dying kinda pain).
So, why am I telling you this and what’s it got to do with the gym?
Well, one of the less recognised Endometriosis symptoms is fatigue (you know that feeling when you get into bed at night and think ‘I honestly just have no more energy, all I can do is sleep’?) and one of the best recognised anti-dotes to fatigue is exercise – there are others, more on those later.
So, in September last year, two months post-surgery, to remove more scar tissue, I decided it was time to get back to the gym and get stronger, healthier and fitter. The stress of surgery and underlying anxiety had caused me to lose a lot of weight (I weighed less than 7 stone when I first joined) and I needed to get that back on.
First visit to Xercise4less Derby
Starting at a new gym can be a bit like starting a new job, you don’t know anyone, and it can all be a bit intimidating – except it wasn’t! I’ve never been made to feel so welcome and I soon joined up to a transformation camp with the aim of gaining weight.
Three weeks into my first Transformation camp, I’d gained over a kilo in weight but more importantly I’d gained confidence, reduced my anxiety and made some incredible friends. Now on my third camp – I’m fitter, stronger and feeling better than ever! My back pain is all but gone, my fatigue has gone from being a daily drag to only affecting me two or three days a month – and even then, I’m so motivated that I’ve been able to push through!
So yes, exercise is a brilliant tonic for improving quality of life with a chronic illness but it’s important to recognise, it’s more than just the exercise. Having a robust, achievable and balanced meal plan (including chocolate) plays a fundamental role in keeping my body and brain fighting fit.
I’ve also recently started PT sessions with Derby’s female PT – Caitlin! Now, I might be biased because she’s one of my best friends (thanks Transformation camps!) but she is also one of the best PT’s that I’ve ever worked with – in the few weeks we’ve been working together, my weight has jumped up again and for the first time in over a year, I’m doing the skinny jean dance – and not just because I’ve got serious Endo bloat. Every session I’m hitting new PB’s further improving my confidence and I’m seeing real results with how I look – something I didn’t think I’d care that much about.
Caitlin’s advanced nutrition knowledge also means that my own nutrition has kicked up a gear and I’m eating better – again, contributing to a reduction in my endo symptoms! I’m really excited to see how much further I can progress in the coming months – I really wouldn’t be where I am now without Xercise4Less Derby, my amazing and patient boyfriend, Jamie and you, Caitlin – Thank you!
For more information, head to the Endometriosis UK website.