Throughout my life, I’ve always had to keep an eye on my weight. Unlike my siblings, I could put on weight with the blink of an eye. Luckily, I was athletic and as long as I watched meal portions carefully, I was able to keep a healthy body weight as an adult. That changed in 1998, when I heard news many of you have gotten as well, about elevated protein (creatinine) in my urine. I listened to and followed directions: “…eat this, but not that…” I found I was tired all time.
The cause of my kidney disease was an autoimmune disorder. On top of the dietary restrictions, chronic fatigue, and the sensory and emotional impacts of end stage renal disease, I was prescribed prednisone and gained a whopping 30 pounds in 3 months. Unfortunately, this time my weight gain didn’t end easily.
Although we haven’t all had exactly the same experiences with kidney disease, I’m sure we’ve each been frustrated by body image issues, by depression due to medication or a special diet, or by difficulties times in life due to our illness!
So how is a girl (or guy) supposed to preserve or regain a healthy figure while living with CKD? The good news is once you develop a plan and begin to see results, the awkward feelings about CKD diminish and life becomes more enjoyable!
Make a plan
Those of us with kidney disease are lucky to have access to frequent medical visits and renal dietitians. We can use this access to get personalized help with developing a strategy! The first step is to find out what is safe for you. In consultation with your doctor and dietician, create a plan including Diet, Exercise and Technology, addressing every specific medical need you have.
First, determine with your physician that losing weight is safe and appropriate for you. Second, make an appointment with the renal dietitian to develop a dietary plan that is safe for your medical condition.
Next, ask your physician what type of exercise has been beneficial for patients like you, and what type of regimen is likely to work for you.
Use the Internet to research diet, exercise, and fitness trackers that suit your needs. Before you adopt any plan, be sure to have it approved by your physician. Helpful technology available online includes the new tracking devices Fitbit and Jawbone, which have online applications to help you monitor your exercise, dietary intake, and fluid intake. Shop around, ask around, and ask your physician if one of these devices would benefit you. My health insurance plan allowed me to have a small Fitbit as part of my health benefits!
Find a Buddy
Seek out and invite a family member, friend, or colleague to join you on your journey. Obesity is a national problem. Finding someone to join you will help to provide motivation! Having trouble finding someone with the same schedule? Reach out to find online buddies through social networking, Kidneyspace.com, Facebook or Twitter!
An appropriate body weight, healthy diet, and beneficial exercise are all achievable when you make a plan, confirm it with your physician and dietician, utilize technology and/or the internet, and adopt the Buddy System! Best of luck on your journey toward a healthy, fit enjoyment of life!
About the Author
Cher Thomas, RDH is a Registered Dental Hygienist and a renal transplant recipient. After her kidneys failed due to ANCA positive vasculitis, her brother, Robert, was her donor in 1999. Cher utilized her experience with peritoneal dialysis and organ transplantation to explore the relationship between oral and renal health. She lives in Galveston, Texas.
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