Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that keeps you well is very rewarding and can give you a sense of life-enhancing well-being. Looking after your mind and body is equally important in managing the condition, helping you to remain symptom free.
The recommendation for everybody is to exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week. For people with LPLD/FCS exercise can be seen as another helpful strategy in managing the restrictions the condition imposes upon them.
The benefits of exercise are many. Exercise lifts mood and helps put a positive spin on your life. It kick-starts your metabolism and helps reduce feelings of sluggishness and raises your energy levels. Doing regular exercise can give you a feeling of control, feeling fit can encourage you to make better decisions about what food you will eat.
Remember that exercise can be as simple as walking to the next bus stop before you get the bus, or climbing the stairs rather than taking the lift or the escalator.
Try to find something that you can do regularly. Walking to work or round to a friend’s house. Or maybe something that doubles up as a social activity which might encourage perseverance like playing tennis or badminton, or joining a boot camp. You will know what appeals to you. Start slowly and build up pace. Aim to do something at least once a week and build up your fitness from there.
Food can be very linked to emotions. From our earliest days food is the stuff that nurtures us – just watch a tiny baby howl one second and then contentedly feed the next.
Depending on how we were brought up as children, food can be linked to reward and punishment. Food can often be labelled as a ‘treat’ and the withdrawal of food as a punishment. ‘Comfort eating’ is a well-recognised term – using food to make yourself feel better.
Food can also be the centre of social interaction – the family meal, the dinner party, cultural festivals, meeting friends in the evening, a work meeting over lunch or a conference or team building event. Different cultures give the preparation and sharing of food a different emphasis. Holiday seasons and festival days can be tricky times to negotiate for people with LPLD and the related conditions.
How can I manage my mind to keep the right focus?
It can be very helpful to practice a technique that helps to centre you and reduce stress. This will hopefully help you to make good decisions around food.
There are many approaches to calming a busy mind and making space for clear judgements, including many different forms of yoga, tai chi, meditation and mindfulness. Local classes are generally very easy to find. You may find your doctor can refer you. Most important is to find the technique that works for you.
You may find it easier to do something in a group or alone, or a mixture of both. Repetitive exercise like swimming can also bring on a meditative state.
You could try to create a routine in which you touch base with yourself at least once a week to begin with, slowly building up to whatever suits your lifestyle.
Keep a journal: Keeping a mood/food journal allows you to see how your mood affects the food that you eat. It makes it easier to identify ‘trigger points’ and makes it possible to develop different strategies for you to use in those high-risk situations.