I’ve always been pear-shaped but it never bothered me that much, because my stocky legs were my also my best asset; they were strong, they supported me to hike trails, climb mountains and cover hundreds of miles as an ultra-marathon runner. I loved my legs, they never let me down. Until suddenly, they did. When I hit my late forties they ballooned in size, then came joint pain, tenderness, weird bruising and worst of all, a horrible fizzing and popping sensation that made me want to scratch them from the inside out with a scrubbing brush.
I stopped running, it was just too painful. On a hiking trip I was forced to admit defeat after just a few miles; I sat on a rock and burst into tears. What was happening to me? Not being physically active led to general weight gain (ultra-runners love carbs and sugar, and my brain still thought I was a runner even if my body didn’t!). My mental health was also suffering; I felt robbed of the fit and active life I loved so much.
I was diagnosed quickly and offered compression, but nothing more. Inconsolable and feeling powerless I stumbled across a Talk Lipoedema event near me. As I sat down the woman beside me leaned over and I asked if I was there as a family member. She wasn’t being rude, just astonished as “I didn’t look like I had it”. It highlighted how misunderstood Lipoedema is, even within the community.
During an input on eating healthily I listened intently to the speaker explain how our bodies are full of inflammation, and the latest thinking between Lipoedema, the inflammation in our bodies and what we eat. It was a lightbulb moment; could there really be a way to wrestle back some control over this horrible condition? I took the information sheet on anti-inflammatory eating home and started reading about adipose tissue, our lymphatics, the breakthrough link between gut health and brain health and most importantly, which foods are believed to cause, and fight inflammation. I decided to go all–in. What was the worst that could happen…I’d eat better and maybe improve my general health? Not a bad outcome either way!
I started to think about food as nourishment, and that by looking after my body I’d be committing an amazing act of self-care rather than adopting a negative thought process based on missing out on ‘treats’ or ‘restricting’ myself. Taking the time to mentally prepare helped me transition more easily. Now I simply choose, in a very mindful and positive way not to eat foods that might be causing my body harm. I eat amazingly well, my husband has embraced it and friends and family are often jealous when I share pictures of our weeknight dinners! Another bonus, especially in todays’ climate is that our food shopping bill is much lower!
The big question is, has it made a difference? When I started following these principles 10 months ago I was in pain most days, worried about the future and unhappy with how I looked. Within 4 weeks my ‘fizzy legs’ had gone and by three months the joint pain in my hips and knees had vanished. It wasn’t the objective but I also dropped the extra three stone I had put on. I can honestly say I’ve never felt better and I’m back running and enjoying my outdoor life again. Do I have still have Lipoedema? Yes, I still feel it and see it. But there’s such a positive mental benefit that comes with feeling empowered and in control of your own health that I now confidently say, while I might I have Lipoedema, it definitely does not have me.