Losing weight with fibromyalgia can be a struggle, but it does’t have to be.
In the United States, there are at least five million adults who struggle with the debilitating disease of fibromyalgia. Many of these sufferers are also overweight or obese.
Often, being overweight or obese is a symptom of the disease itself. In other words, the chronic pain, muscle aches and stiffness associated with fibromyalgia make it a challenge to stay active, and it can be difficult to shop for and prepare healthy meals with these symptoms as well. Some sufferers even turn to stress eating and general overeating because of depression and other emotional symptoms related to the disease.
But if you struggle with fibromyalgia, its important to know that you can lose weight despite the symptoms you face. You just need to get the right help and adopt the right habits. This step-by-step guide will help you navigate a healthy and effective weight loss plan while also paying attention to and dealing with the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Remember that you can reach your weight loss goals, even in the face of fibromyalgia.
Losing Weight With Fibromyalgia: The Step-by-Step Guide
1. Treat the Pain As Best As You Can
Pain and fatigue will be the two biggest things that hold you back from your weight loss progress, and pain should be treated first because it can often be the cause of additional fatigue. There are several ways to treat fibromyalgia pain.
First, remember that it’s best to treat pain with non-medication solutions. Physical therapy and massage can work wonders for many sufferers. It can strengthen your muscles and increase your range of motion. Your physical therapist may be able to teach you some self-massage methods as well.
Next, consider trying biofeedback. This is a process that helps you monitor and control your own body’s functions. It is a taught procedure that shows you how to notice changes in your body’s heart rate, breathing and pain levels in order to reduce muscle tension and pain on your own.
Acupuncture is another option for pain improvement. This procedure can improve blood flow and alter neurotransmitter levels in your brain.
Finally, if you haven’t already, talk to a reputable doctor about your options. Depending on your pain levels, they may prescribe medications to reduce symptoms. Just be sure to always follow the guidelines from your doctor. Some medications can only be taken in the evening once you’re in for the night because of associated symptoms.
2. Treat Depression and Any Emotional Symptoms
Depression is a common symptom of fibromyalgia. This is often because patients feel guilty for being so inactive and constantly in pain. It is essential to treat depression, anxiety and other mental and emotional symptoms before moving on to the other steps for weight loss because these symptoms can often hold patients back from attempting to eat right and exercise for weight loss.
First, many people who suffer from fibromyalgia will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. This form of therapy helps patients to identify dysfunctional patterns of thinking and develop new routines and techniques that can take care of negative thoughts.
Meditation is another way to calm the mind and release stress and anxiety. A racing mind, constant negative thoughts and other nonproductive thinking patterns are often the result of our fast-paced world. Meditation and daily mindfulness can help you slow down and clear your head.
In some cases, antidepressants may be prescribed to help reduce depression and increase the hormone, serotonin. Many of these treatments for depression can also help with pain.
3. Get Help for Fatigue, Insomnia and Other Sleep Problems
Chronic fatigue and other sleep problems are associated with fibromyalgia as well. Many of the remedies for pain and depression should help with fatigue, but the problem is that fatigue can often cause individuals not to partake in these habits because they’re just too tired.
That’s why treating fatigue is actually so essential, though, and the way to do it is to start slowly and work in small increments. If you would like to meditate, try doing it for just 5 minutes at a time. If you would like to try some self massage techniques, just do one for a few minutes instead of trying to do them all over the course of an hour.
Treating fatigue can help you treat the other symptoms of fibromyalgia, but treating the other symptoms of fibromyalgia will help you treat fatigue as well. In other words, you need to do everything at once, and you’ll begin to see progress in all areas. The key is to go slowly.
4. Learn How to Eat Healthy to Reduce Symptoms
Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is one of the best ways to reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Often times, pain symptoms are related to inflammation, for example, and inflammation is greatly influenced by the foods that you eat. In addition, junk foods tend to make anyone feel crummy, so the sooner you can cut those out, the better.
First, remember that vegetables and fruits should make up the majority of your diet. Lean meats like chicken and turkey breast and fish can be eaten in moderation as well. If you are a vegetarian, try to eat more beans and nuts, or eat eggs if those are included in your diet.
In addition to vegetables, fruits and lean meats, focus on whole grains. These will keep you fuller for longer and aid in digestion. You should also drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water every day. Just staying hydrated is a great way to treat fatigue.
Finally, talk to your doctor about dietary supplements. Sometimes a lack of vitamin D or a lack of the B vitamins can contribute to chronic fatigue.
5. Start Cutting Calories to Drop Fat
You’ve begun eating healthy, and this switch has likely already make some positive changes in your weight. Now, it’s time to take control of your caloric intake.
In order to properly lose weight at a healthy rate, you need to cut approximately 500 calories from your diet every day. But to know what your target caloric intake should be, you first need to know how many calories you burn on a regular basis. This number is called your AMR or active metabolic rate. You can calculate this number by finding a AMR calculator online that will take into consideration your gender, age, height and activity level.
From your AMR, subtract 500 calories, and this should be your target caloric intake on a daily basis. Reducing your diet by 500 calories per day will help you to lose at least one or two pounds each week.
Also remember that slow weight loss is okay. In fact, this is the best kind because it’s more maintainable than quick weight loss. And when you have fibromyalgia, you’re not going to get fast weight loss. Realizing this as soon as possible and preparing for slow to moderate progress is good so that you’re not disappointed when the fat doesn’t melt off overnight.
6. Begin Exercising Slowly
Exercise should be started slowly. Don’t dive into a three hour per day workout routine because it won’t be sustainable. Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia find that slow physical exercise like tai chi, yoga, light Pilates and swimming are the best types of exercise because they are gentle on your muscles and joints.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to have the same level of exercise intensity every day. Because there are “good days” and “bad days” with this disease, it’s essential to pay attention to how you feel and meter your exercise on this. Do more when your body lets you.
It’s mostly important to stay consistent, so if it’s a bad day, it’s okay to back off, but try to go through the motions. Even if you just do a few stretches, it’s progress. Exercise will be good for burning extra calories and helping you lose weight, but it will also be good for reducing pain and depression.
7. Learn How to Deal with Setbacks
Last but not least, it’s important to learn how to handle failures. Success is not a straight shot to the top. On the contrary, success is often a meandering path that takes you forward and backward. If you cannot learn to deal with going backwards sometimes, however, you may end up quitting early sabotaging your long-term success.
Dealing with setbacks is about realizing that you’re only human, and you’re going to make mistakes. Be gentle with yourself, and keep your eye on the prize. Don’t continue to screw up just because you made one mistake. Realize your mistake, forgive yourself for it and move on in a more positive direction.
You Can Lose Weight With Fibromyalgia
Losing weight when you have fibromyalgia may seem impossible at first. Crippling pain and fatigue coupled with all of the other debilitating symptoms that go along with this disease hold thousands of men and women back for even attempting weight loss.
But just because it’s going to be a challenge-ridden process doesn’t mean that you can’t lose weight when you struggle with fibromyalgia. Use the seven steps outlined above, track your results, and remember that even slow progress is better than none at all. In time, your successes will accumulate, and you’ll spur yourself to continue the worthwhile work that you’re putting in.
Losing excess fat to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is a good goal to have, and doing all of the things listed in this guide will only provide positive benefits for you. Start today with this plan, and jump on the path to success. Your weight loss goals are within your grasp; you just have to reach out and grab them.
So what’s stopping you from losing weight with fibromyalgia? Tell me your challenges in the comments.
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What no one talks about is mental health medication that is necessary but causes weight gain in anyone who takes that type. And medication weight gain is the most difficult weight to lose. I’m bipolar and there’s no medication that doesn’t cause weight gain. I also have health problems that make me exercise intolerant—my heart rate goes into the fat burn phase if I stand still for at least 10 minutes. I have a rare type of anemia that makes it impossible to check my blood glucose levels. I’m taking synthroid and my TSH level should make it difficult for me to GAIN weight. Doctors tell me to just eat less and exercise more, and I point out the that it only takes one organ in the digestive tract to effect how the entire system works. They don’t know how to answer that. I can’t just stop my meds without months of hell and suicidal thoughts. Yet NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THIS.
It is not very expensive to eat healthily It just needs so education which has lost to a generation through convenience foods.
Frozen veg just as good as fresh and pre chopped I get shops own brand or discount stores, 45c to 59c a bag get a number of meals per bag.
Tin pears and peaches good in their own juice just not syrup
Rice and Pasta can be bought in large quantities for reasonable prices in discount stores Just build up supplies week on week Swapping out good for bad until you are buying all healthy
I find meat is much cheaper in the local butcher shop too & you can choose what size cut you want etc.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot to eat well
Sounds simple right? It’s not! A lot of us are on disability and Medicare/Medicaid. They don’t pay for biofeedback, massage, acupuncture or aqua therapy. They will no longer prescribe pain meds. They recommend NSAIDs which ruin your liver. Eating healthy is expensive. I’m lucky if the discount food store has fresh fruits and vegetables I can afford, like this week 4 plums, 4 oranges, four apples. A bell pepper, two potatoes, head of lettuce and a tomato. Everything else is frozen or box foods. I can’t afford meat but I try to get brats, hamburger, chicken. My income is $1091 per month! I have utilities that take half my pay, home/car insurance, gas, Internet and meds. I qualify for $18 snap per month. There’s nothing left to eat well. You’d think I’d be skinny right? Not. So depression is huge, you reach for a bag of chips or crackers that was $1.89 on sale rather than $5 for a pack of strawberries or grapes. White or wheat bread .99, macaroni .89, box pasta .88, sauce 1.25. All generic.
I totally agree with you Tina… I live in the U.K. and to eat healthy fresh foods is very expensive. I retired from my career as a Police Officer early as I could no longer cope with my FMS and fatigue. I was not even considered for a sick pension. Luckily I was able to claim an early retirement pension as I was 50 yrs old and had served 25 yrs. This was back in 2007 and since then any increments have been minimal each year and not really matching the cost of living rise. I really don’t see how people who are on limited income can possibly afford to eat fresh fruit, veg and best cuts of meat to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
I agree with both of you ladies! I too am on disability $888 a month. My 14 yo gets $332. Together we get $132 snap. Luckily we have a Community Food Bank that helps with food. They give you fresh produce, but after a week there’s no money for fruit unless in season/ on sale. I cook from scratch which helps.
Hi, I’ve been diagnosed with fibro 10 years ago, picked up a lot of weight and about 3 years ago I got on the scale and it showed 120kgs & went to my hubby & said that’s it no more carbs, sugar & starch…& he was like here we go again…I know it’s only 3 words but everything contains carbs, sugar & starch, so I started reading food labels, allowed myself only 15g of carbs(incl. sugar) a day & I have lost over 42kgs. It’s not easy…now everyone says “o so you are on the keto diet” “no asshole, on the keto you use all sorts of replacement “almon flour” “coconut flour” etc. sugar gets relaced with stivia or what ever (I don’t care), do you know how many carbs is in that flour, so no I’m not on any diet I just started reading labels & used my own little peanut brain to think…I don’t even argue with stupid, uneducated people anymore, I just walk away…I am a go getter, I punish myself if I don’t exercise, I love impact sport, so kick boxing, taibo, shooting (not animals I love them too much) mountain bicking, get on the tractor & cut the grass for the cattle, you name it….but boy o boy do I pay for that not just for a day, I’m in a constant flare up, can’t sleep it’s to painful, so I stay awake and work…..story of my life
Almost Human says
Not sure you understand what Keto actually is, it’s extremely low carb and to replace them with things like almond or coconut flour defeats the purpose
Dawn Walker says
I have had fibro for 4 yrs , I have had total hysterectomy also around that time so going through the change to , I have always been slim and could loose weight easily by dieting. Now I can’t loose nothing at all I’ve gained 2 stone and am so upset about it , only meds I’m on now are 30mg duloxatine as reduced, amtryptaline, topiramate, I just don’t no what else I’m doing wrong I work full time and I’m so tired when I get home I don’t feel like doing anything. Please any help here ?
Geoff Bradbury says
Fortunately Dawn, I think you have already found the answer- the Harcombe diet.
With this diet exercise is totally unecessary ..as is the need to count calories which is a much outdated concept-it simply doesnt work. Ifit did then already the obesity crisis would have been sorted!
Even the advice above is wrongabove about foods to eat. The fear of fats has been ingrained into us for so many years and is just so ludicrously wrong. Society has swung towards a sugar based carbs rich diet and which are predominantly responsible for all obesity.
I guarantee that not only will you lose this weight by following the guide on what to eat and how you will also experience a massive uplift in your health generally.
I lost over 4 stones in 4 months, without exercising at all (Im disabled) without counting calories, or ever feeling hungry! And starting each day with a full English!
And then..to my utter shock and amazement- discovered it had CURED my hypertension for which I was on TWO sets of meds for and over decades!
And the consequence of eating plenty of saturated fat? My cholesterol halved right back into normal range! AND whereas I was noted as pre diabetic, my blood sugar also halved into normal range.
The diet does NOT avoid carbs!- it reduces them yes and adjusts which ones, but its perfectly accepted to eat a carb only meal.
Now tell me it doesnt work!
Avril Vencill says
There is noticeably a bundle to know about this. I assume you made certain nice points in features also.
Geoff Bradbury says
Most of this article addresses how to deal with Fibromyalgia and not, as its headed, to address weight loss.
But then when it does get around to doing just that, the information is poor, ill advised and behind the times. It is pointless going to your GP for dietary advice for example- they do not have a clue and are probably still stuck in this “low fat, high carbs” mentality that got us into this obesity mess in the first place. The “deficit calories” has pretty much been widely rubbished now as not working..just poor theory. As has your suggestion of eating lean meats only….nonesense, its the fats that we have deprived our bodies of and relaced them with carbs that is the problem.
One of the main issues is sugar…totally unecessary to the body, and presnt in processed foods and also whole fruits (berries excepted) Give these up..its easier than you imagine.
Contrary to previous teachings we need to increase the amount of fats- good saturated ones too- and decrease the carbs to which we have become addicted. Lose caffeine..this also stimulates the fat causing insulin. Stop snacking and have 3 decent size meals a day…dont calorie count, nor is there need to exercise. Dont combine carbs and fats in the same meal. Give up wheat- especially bread….its so antagonistic to the system and you can eat a wide range of meals that supplant that with good vegetables. Look up The Harcombe Diet- it explains all and has been successful for millions.
On this, I never went hungry, didnt exercise (Im disabed)and began eat day with a full English fried breakfast! Did I lose weight? ohh yess! In 5 months I had dropped over 4 stones as easy as that. And more importantly, maintained that loss for 18 months since.
What i didnt expect is that the diet is so acclimatising for the body that my hypertension for which Ihad had meds for 20+ years suddenly dropped to the point i had to dicth my meds and remain spot on 120/80. Oh…and yes, it cured my pre diabetic state too! my levels halved to normal rates now>
And by eating all that fat I bet you immediately think “oh yes but what about your cholesterol..?”
Well! To my docs amazement it halved from over 10 to just below 5! He just cant understand it. And THATS why you dont go to the GP for diettary advice.
Try it..I am not selling it…but you too could have a lifechanging moment too if you only care to research this.
Maria Lagillardaie says
I am certainly going to look into this, and thank you for your share. It was very inspiring!!! Keep up the good work.
I have been in chronic pain since I was 15 I got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 5 years ago I am an active person I’m constantly walking for my job ( Personal support worker ) I’m constantly doing yard work and house work there are some days I can’t even get out of bed I’m in so much pain. I hurt everywhere and my Dr and pain specialist say keep moving so I do I have never in my life been over 200 lbs with my medications for my fibromyalgia I’m 245lbs it seems it doesn’t matter what I eat, drink or do I just can’t loose the weight. My Dr and I have talked about it I followed her instructions and still it seems I’m still the same.
Adrianne Nguyen says
Hi Stone, I am very very sorry for the chronic conditions that u have. My #1 complaint to
with many of the articles being placed on the internet or anywhere for that matter is that they tell us that if we just reduce our calories by 500 KCAL a day and exercise we should see results and Improvement I am very confused by that and here is why I’ve done a lot of research over the 28 years that I have had fibromyalgia I’ve had a lot of time studying it. It affects our central nervous system it affects our metabolic rate just in and of itself not only from the pain that were in and lack of exercise and eating more, but fibromyalgia itself causes a decrease by 25% in our metabolic rate on average that means that is the equivalent of 500 calories a day less burned therefore it makes more sense to say that we should be decreasing our calories by a thousand a day and my frustration wait for it…. who can do that every single day for the rest of their life……not many.
I was very very active person 2 years back. But slowly and gradually my will power and motivation started to fadeaway.People around me have seen a massive difference already.They cannot understand how bad it can be.I have put on a stone within 8 months. I avoid to go at my friends.I have many other diseases too.But one thing is for sure constant pain creates too much in brain to deal with.I am constantly looking to motivate myself to loose only a stone as gain in weight become a barrier even for my daily walk.
Adrianne Nguyen says
I am discouraged. I am reading on line and through literature that I burn 500 calories less from having Fibromialgia. So, it this is true, then why does this article say that we only need to cut 500 calories daily to lose weight? If it’s true that we burn fewer calories on average already, then wouldn’t that mean we would have to cut upscale to around 1000 kcal a day? Not to mention if this is accurate who can cut that many day in and day out?
It’s just hard to get up and do things. No energy. No will power. No I’m new to help motivate me.
It’s hard to feel motivated to exercise when I feel tired, off-balanced and/or in pain.
I am too tired to plan and deal with family