How MG changed my relationship with exercise and weight

For most of my life, I’ve had a complicated relationship with my weight. I played sports in my early years, but because of my deep and abiding love for sugar and white bread, I was always a chubby kid. And while I wish I could regain the slimness I had as a toddler, my clothing size normally hovers around that of the average American woman. But as I got older, my thoughts about exercise and weight became less superficial and more focused on physical health.

In the years leading up to my diagnosis of myasthenia gravis (MG), I would describe my exercise routine as reluctant. I loved to move, but I usually waited to exercise until I felt super disgusted with myself, like after eating a ton of fried food.

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MG created additional complications. At first it made me lose weight. With muscle weakness affecting my ability to chew and swallow, I had difficulty eating. And the less I ate, the more weight I lost.

But because exercise was no longer an option, I eventually started to gain weight. And once I started taking prednisone, my body immediately changed. My face and stomach rounded out, and the rest of my lost weight came back with a vengeance.

Another key was thrown into my complicated relationship with weight when other people recommended I lose a few pounds, hoping it would help me manage my illness. Although studies have shown that exercise can help reduce muscle fatigue, I wasn’t really in the mood for this advice.

Once I stopped taking prednisone I lost about 20 pounds pretty quickly. By then my muscles were stable and I could start exercising and moving more. But after years of weakness, I was afraid of overworking myself and returning to the worst of my MG. It took me a while to feel comfortable doing anything other than walking around the neighborhood.

I now train two to three times a week on my Peloton. I try to limit fried foods and sugary treats, but that will always be a work in progress. And now, when I think about weight, I focus on my insides rather than my outsides. When I choose a healthier food option, I intentionally take care of my heart, brain, and other organs. And when I press “start” during a workout, I feel happy and grateful that I can move at all.


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