How I’m tackling my challenge of losing weight with MS
Since being diagnosed with MS in 2001, my weight has crept up until I can no longer ignore it. I feel bloated, uncomfortable and miserable. I’ve reached a body mass index (BMI) of 30, which is considered obese.
Enough is enough. If I'm not careful, I'm going to continue putting on weight. I know I won't be happy that way.
It's not a vanity thing. I've gotten used to my curves, and quite like them. But I want to lose weight for practical reasons. If I’m lighter, I'll have more energy and it will make things easier with my two young kids.
So what to do? To lose weight you eat fewer calories and do more exercise, right? But what if doing more exercise is challenging? And how many calories should I be eating anyway?
First, I found out how many calories I should be having a day. I used a basal metabolic rate (BMR) calculator. It uses your age, weight and height, and shows you how many calories you burn if you are resting over 24 hours.
We're told that the recommended calorie intake is 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men. But if like me, you aren't burning many, you'll put on weight even if you stick to the recommended amount of calories.
My BMR came out at about 1,500 calories a day.
I used the MyFitnessPal app to calculate my BMR, and now I use it to record what I've been eating and to keep track of my calories (I confess that at first it was a bit of a faff...it gets easier though).
Managing fatigue and exercise
How can I do more exercise when I'm not feeling good? I have to manage my fatigue, so if I decide to do some gentle exercise, like walking, I need to weigh up how much energy I'm going to be left with.
My solution was to try to build up my exercise in the late afternoon or evening. I started by trying to walk the dog every afternoon. I know that if I come back tired, I don't have long until bedtime, so it's manageable.
I’ve found that with each day, my strength builds up, and I can manage a bit more every week. I've even worked my way up to climbing some hills - a real achievement!
No quick fixes
I've realised that losing weight with a condition like MS is all about the long-term. There are no quick fixes. A manic exercise regime coupled with a fad diet isn't going to work, so it's best to set realistic goals.
I've given myself a year to lose weight and get as close as I can to the 'normal' BMI bracket for my height. If I lose a pound a week, I'll be on track, so I'm definitely celebrating the small victories. A pound a week for some might be disheartening, but for me, it's all heading in the right direction.
About Chloe: Chloe has relapsing MS. She lives in Bristol with her husband, two kids and a miniature schnauzer called Obi. She's been blogging about being a mum with MS for six years and is an aspiring writer.