Perhaps this describes you:
When you exercise, you crash. It seems like your body fights you. It fights back.
You feel betrayed by your body, disappointed, saddened and confused. And sore.
Scenario one: You used to love to run, but now you feel SO WEAK. You feel DRAINED, and even though you eat really healthy, you have less energy and way less ability to run than the people around you who eat burgers and crap! WHY??!!
Scenario number two: Exercise is something you wish you could do, and people keep suggesting you do, to help deal with your moods and the increasing softness and puffiness of your figure, but every time you try, you feel MUCH WORSE after. Your body aches, you are fatigued.
Both of these cases are versions of the same issue:
Yes, it’s a thing.
In both cases above, you have an expectation of what your body should be able to do based on what you think is normal, what it used to be able to do, what you think is average for your health, weight, age, etc…
But, your body isn’t cooperating, and you don’t know WHY.
Your expectation send you back out, trying again, trying to prove that you are not lazy, not making excuses…and this expectation sets you back, because the next thing you know, walking around the neighbourhood is tiring, or walking the dog just KILLS your arms, or for some reason you have bruises of unknown origin, and then in the evening even sitting down to type feels difficult, because either you are too tired, or your whole body is in pain.
In other words, if you have Exercise Intolerance, pushing too hard and doing too much is clearly not working, and you pay the price for it later.
Wikipedia defines Exercise Intolerance as:
“a condition of inability or decreased ability to perform physical exercise at what would be considered to be the normally expected level or duration.”
So, why might this be happening?
There are two main reasons why a person may have exercise intolerance.
One major reason, the one most likely in scenario one above, is low iron, a deficiency or anemia.
Low iron can create fatigue, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, lack of stamina, and weakness. It can also cause poor concentration, low mood, cold hands and feet, a shadow under the eyes, and more, and it is more common in women, people who avoid red meat, and long distance runners.It is the leading cause of fatigue amongst women.
The second major reason is an autoimmune condition, recognized or not.
This is likely what is happening if you feel like your body is MUCH worse AFTER you get back into an exercise groove.
Andrea Wool, Founder & CEO of Autoimmune Strong, a platform to help people with AutoImmunity learn to exercise again, says:
…Someone living with autoimmune disease can do less physical activity than what someone living without autoimmune disease can do…we aren’t lazy or incapable. We are just medically able to do less. And it’s incredibly frustrating- because autoimmune disease is often an invisible illness. We underestimate the toll it can take on our bodies.
I relate to this so bad!
I will get a “flare up” of symptoms, like inflammation, sore joints, and not be able to continue. This has happened to me so many times!
Does this mean that we shouldn’t exercise?
No! The right kinds of activity can improve our exercise intolerance if we have autoimmunity, and the right eating and supplementing can correct low iron levels, enabling us to exercise again.
We need to learn to exercise is a gentle, supportive way, and not be so hard on ourselves.
It means that if you have low iron, you may need to make some changes: Improve your HCL levels to digest your food better, so that you absorb iron, check your iron levels, eat more red meat, clams or pumpkin seeds, maybe try a supplement. See your doctor.
It means that if you have an autoimmune condition, you should rest, eat nourishing food, and incorporate short sessions of gentle regular exercise, planning to build your tolerance VERY gradually.
Even though you may feel broken, you are not, you just did not have all the information.
Set your expectations and plans with your exercise intolerance taken into account, and ask for support.
You can get back on track!