Recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

This post is being written in response to the following email I received today:

I came to you site via a search for something about chronic fatigue.
Based on your posts it seems your wife was doing pretty poorly and
over time has greatly improved. I also have CFS and it is really bad
right now. I wondered if you’d be willing to share with me anything
your wife did to help her improve (medical treatments and self care,
lifestyle changes etc.) I am desperate and rarely see anything posted
online about people who’ve improved so I really would love to know
what you wife did, didn’t do etc. I really appreciate the help if
you’re able to share some info. Thanks soooo much.

There were a lot of changes made in her lifestyle, my lifestyle and our family dynamic that have contributed to her (continuing) recovery. It would be unfair to say that she has completely recovered from this dastardly illness, but she has made huge improvements and advancements when it comes to her health. Several things have contributed to her improvement, some of which are:

  • She saw a doctor who prescribed different medications for different symptoms of her illness. Out of respect for her I won’t go into that publicly (feel free to email robert [at] robert-gonzalez [dot] com) but the medications she took helped her tremendously in the way of sleep, piece of mind and overall physical health.
  • She became more physically active. I don’t know if this was a matter of willpower or a renewed sense of energy but activity actually helped her get more active which continued to help her improve.
  • She took on a hobby. Last summer she got bitten by the theater bug and began to devote an extraordinary amount of time to it. The demands of performing and rehearsing required her to devote all of her resources to it and, without really being able to NOT commit (without letting down her theater family) she just continued to indulge in her passion. This alone, I think, has sparked a tremendous amount of recovery for her.
  • She has taken on a new outlook on what is and isn’t important in life. That might sound almost lame to have to say that, but one of the things that seemed to cause her a lot of stress was worry over the things that were going on at home, with the kids, with our money and with our family. As she began to find peace in where we were, right where we were, the stress that she was feeling began to gradually minimize, freeing her to live without the burden of having to “perform” in order to maintain order in her life.
  • She prayed. A lot. And so did her friends and family. If you are a religious/spiritual person then prayer will be invaluable to you. It was to her, and she would attest to that fact.
  • Lastly, and probably most importantly, she had help. Lots and lot of help. From her family (the kids and I), her extended family (sister, parents, in-laws) and her friends. Many a night were we served by friends bringing meals over for us or family helping us clean our home or take the kids somewhere. I’m sure it wasn’t easy or convenient for them, but in the end they showed our entire family what true love was all about by really stepping up and helping us out in pretty much any way we needed it.

I’m sure there is plenty more that has help contribute to my wife’s recovery over the last few years. And while she has made tremendous strides in healing, she will admit that she still has bad days here and there. Still, she has plenty more good days than bad and she strives everyday to make each day count. She has become incredibly active in the kids’ lives, education and hobbies. She has taken a renewed interest in learning and teaching and she has developed a penchant for spirited fun and adventure. She has also gotten some semblance of control over her sleeping patterns, started to watch her diet and began talking a lot with her friends and family.

Essentially she has gotten to the point where she is able to live life again in a healthier way that allows her to continue to live each day as fully as she can. Again, she still has bad days, but at the end of the day, she is doing worlds better now than she was just two years ago.

Thank you for the email asking this question. If you have any other questions feel free to email me directly at my email address that I posted inside of this post. Thanks.

Insanity: Day 63 – Fit Test

Skip to my fit test results
I had a great final fit test today. It was a heck of a way to end my first Insanity journey and showed me areas that I need to improve as well as areas that I have improved dramatically.

Looking back on my progress it would seem that I am maxed out on some of my fit test exercises. I say that because there was very little improvement in them today over the last fit test. My thought is that I have hit the most I am going to get out of that exercise. Of course, that may be jumping the gun a little bit since I still have a lot of weight to lose and after I lose that I should be able to work out harder. So perhaps I have only maxed out for this round of Insanity because I have yet to push deeper into it. Who knows?

Still, I was rather impressed with my results this morning. Especially in the area of power jumps. I had no idea that I could do that many in a minute. I am really, really stoked about that.

So, without further ado, here they are, my final fit test results for Round 1 of my Insanity journey.

Today’s fit test results

My Insanity Fit Test Results for Day 63
Routine Reps Day 1 Reps Day 15 Reps Day 36 Reps Day 50 Reps Day 63
Switch Kicks 41 50 63 69 71
Power Jacks 35 42 54 56 58
Power Knee 69 95 113 118 119
Power Jump 20 32 35 40 60
Globe Jumps 6 7 8 9 9
Suicide Jumps 11 13 13 14 16
Push Up Jacks 16 27 25 29 28
Low Plank Oblique 35 46 45 50 55

My Insanity weight loss progress through May 15, 2010

As you may know from previous posts, my main goal in doing Insanity was to lose weight. I personally believe that people who have their weight under control experience fewer health problems than overweight people. I don’t say this to deride people who struggle with their weight. I am one of those people. Weight control has always been a problem for me and because of news given to me by my doctor, I had a choice to make. That choice was to start taking medication regularly to help manage my blood pressure as well as potentially dealing with diabetes or get healthy enough so that my body would naturally do that for me. Seemed to me that losing weight was the easiest way to handle this issue naturally.

When I started insanity on March 15, 2010, I weight 289.5 pounds. I had been fluctuating in weight between 289 and 295, and as recently as July of last year had weighed in at 307 pounds. Looking at the exercises in the Insanity program I thought it was reasonable to expect a significant weight loss over the course of nine weeks, so I set a weight loss goal of 40 pounds. That meant that as of the end of my ninth week I wanted to weigh 250 pounds.

Today I am happy to say that I have hit that goal. I weighed in this morning at 249.5 pounds and I am beyond excited at the prospects this presents. I have so much more energy now than I did nine weeks ago. I have a zeal for living life again. I feel like I have earned my life back and that my health, fitness and weight is now something that is totally within my control as opposed to me being controlled by it.

I have not felt this accomplished in a long time. I have not felt this driven, this motivated, this inspired or this hungry in a long time. I wish I could put into words how awesome a feeling it is to hit a goal like this in the time I did it in. But honestly I think the only way for you to get a real grasp of how it feels is to try it and do it for yourself. Short of that, all I can say is that I am on cloud nine right now and feeling unstoppable. I really wish I could share this feeling with you.

To get a feel of what 40 pounds of fat loss coupled with some pretty good muscle development looks likes, check out my before and after picture.

My weight loss results through eight weeks of Insanity
Week Date Weight Loss Total
0 03/15/2010 289.5
1 03/20/2010 289.5 0 0
2 03/27/2010 285.0 4.5 4.5
3 04/03/2010 277.5 7.5 12.0
4 04/10/2010 271.0 6.5 18.5
5 04/17/2010 269.0 2.0 20.5
6 04/24/2010 266.0 3.0 23.5
7 05/01/2010 261.0 5.0 28.5
8 05/08/2010 255.5 5.5 34.0
9 05/15/2010 249.5 6.0 40.0

Insanity: Day 62 – Max Cardio Conditioning and Insane Abs

Good grief, what was I thinking?!?!?!

I decided to put as much into my workout today as I could and to do that I chose to substitute Insane Abs for Cardio Abs after doing Max Cardio Conditioning. I haven’t done Insane Abs yet because of time constraints in the morning. But since I had no time constraints this morning, I went for it. And I think I am paying the price for that now.

Actually, it isn’t that bad. Well, yes it is, but only because it piggy backed on top of another already intense work out program. I think Insane Abs could be a workout in and of itself. Coming out of Max Cardio Conditioning, Insane Abs is nearly impossible to complete in any capacity. The core work, the leg work… even the shoulder work are incredibly challenging. Combine that with the fact that the program is 33 minutes long and you can imagine that after killing yourself for 50 minutes or so with something like Max Cardio Conditioning, Insane Abs becomes quite the workout.

Max Cardio Conditioning was challenging this morning, but only because I was able to push harder through it than I have ever been able to do. I completed more circuits and more routines than I have ever completed on the program and was able to push harder through many of the jumping exercises. In fact, the first half of the program this morning I was able to keep up with almost all of the routines. The second half did destroy me, but I can understand that given how hard I worked in the first half.

I have one more day of Insanity left. And that day is tomorrow, when I do the Fit Test one last time for my first round of Insanity. I’m hoping to blast through that and put up the highest numbers I have so far. I will be sure to post them tomorrow when I finish.

Until then, I have a little celebrating to do. I weighed myself this morning and, all I can say right now is, I am really, really looking forward to writing my weight loss progress post. 🙂

Insanity: Day 61 – Max Interval Plyo

Only Shaun T would be so evil as to put switch leaps AND power jumps in the same circuit. Ok, perhaps evil isn’t the best word, but this morning, when my legs felt like they had red hot lava flowing through them, I sure thought he was evil.

I loved this morning’s work out. I can totally feel my energy and stamina increasing through the max programs. I wish I would have gotten to this point sooner, but I’m glad I have gotten as far as I have. The first circuit, consisting of switch leaps, squat push ups, wide in-n-out abs and power jumps were awesome this morning. I was able to push all the way through the first two rounds of the the first circuit, which is something I have not been able to do ever. The third round was a different story, but I was able to get most of it completed with only taking minimal breaks. Of course the challenge exercise, one-legged V push ups, devastated me, but I still managed to get through some of them.

The second circuit destroyed me. I think it was a combination of the effort I put into the first circuit and the fact that I am battling this stupid bug, which seems to have turned itself into a chest infection. Regardless, I had very little to give in the second circuit so it was all hard work from that point on. The second circuit consists of the pogo, power push ups, globe twists and level 3 drills. All of these were hard for me to stay into. Pogos are hard because my balance stinks. On the right leg I am alright, but on the left leg I am all over the place. Power push ups I am actually now able to do, but not nearly as fast paced as I’d like. Globe Twists hurt me primarily because my quads are still very weak. And the level 3 drills… well, those are just insane from top to bottom. I was able to get through the very first rep of the first circuit of these without stopping, but after that it was a challenge just to get off the floor.

The challenge for the second circuit is switch lunges into hop squats. Two of each a total of eight times. And strangely, even with weak quads, I was able to get them done with only missing one for rest. I actually felt accomplished in this challenge today because I was able to do more of them than ever before.

The third circuit was a one-time through series of exercises: side push ups done 15 per side, kickstand touch the floor done 15 per leg, 8 power knees into 4 diamond jumps done twice on each side alternating between sides and balance pushups done 12 times alternating each side. Pretty much every one of these kicked my butt today. I was able to do all of the side push ups on the left and about half on the right. I was able to do all of the kickstand exercises without stopping, but the power knee to diamond jumps were nearly impossible for me. I was able to do about half of the balance push ups.

Given that I was competing not only with being tired but handling a chest cold at the same time, I’d say I did pretty well in today’s program. I’m looking forward to tomorrow when I do Max Cardio Conditioning and Insane Abs. It’s sort of my very last chance to nail a great workout and hammer out a huge weight loss for the week. Wish me luck. I want to be at 250 pounds tomorrow.

Insanity: Day 60 – Max Interval Sports Training

Today was a wonderful workout day for me. I really, really love working out to Max Interval Sports Training and I think when I go through Insanity again I am going to replace Core Cardio and Balance with Max Interval Sports Training throughout the program.

There is something awesome about the way this program is put together. I don’t know if it is the pace, the circuits, the way that we workout or what, but it totally captivates me and makes me want to kick its butt so bad. There were only a few of the exercises today that really challenged me – like the football drills, where we stand and sprint step very quickly then hit the ground in a down plank position and move across the floor, and some of the later jumping exercises – but overall I was pretty stoked about my ability to do the exercises this morning. Even more when you factor in that I may very well be getting the front end of a chest infection even as I write this.

Another thing that I love about this workout is since I enjoy doing it so much I don’t find it nearly as much “work” as “fun”. Because of that I kinda get lost in the exercise and end up drenched in sweat at the end. Today was no exception. So combined, I am getting a huge workout and a wonderful weight loss out of the deal every time I do this workout. Which for me is the best of all worlds when it comes to my health. The end result, for me, when doing this workout is a massive sweat, a major sense of accomplishment and huge boost in my energy with a strong desire to hit it again.

Speaking of which, I have just two more days until my final weigh in for this Insanity journey so you have to know that I am digging deeper than I have and pushing through as many limits as I can to hit my goal of 250 pounds by Saturday. I’m pretty stoked about it. And I’m pretty stoked about posting some before and after pics. If you are a friend of mine on Facebook you may have seen a few of the recent pics I posted in my Insanity photo album. Saturday I hope to post a few more.

Until tomorrow, stay strong and stay hungry for success. It is yours for the taking. Will you take it?

Insanity: Day 59 – Max Interval Circuit

Today was a monumental day of exercise for me. Even though I’m still fighting a bug in my system, I got closer to completing all routines in a Max program than I have ever been before. I worked harder than I have worked since I started the program, sweated more than I’ve sweated in any program and actually completed some of the 45 second quadriceps based jumping exercise segments for the first time ever. It was quite an accomplishment for me to say the least.

As has been the case lately, I was able to blow through the warm ups. I was even able to complete the first of the three segments in the first circuit, which I thought was pretty neat. From there it began to get really challenging but I was able to get back into the swing of things quickly every time I stopped to rest. I love that I am progressing as much as I am in this thing, and I love that I can push myself through my own limits even now, at this stage of the game.

This excitement, and the sheer number of web site hits I am getting from searches that people are performing on Insanity, is leading me toward the launch of a new web site. I am not going to go into great detail just yet, but I have an idea for something very helpful to anyone that is either thinking about getting started or is in the process of their Insanity Journey. If I do decide to launch it, it will be very informational, hopefully motivational and somewhat instructional. We’ll have to see if this is something that I am indeed intended to do.

But before I get into all that I need to make sure I finish my own Insanity journey. Which I will be doing this Sunday. The last day of the program, the fifth and final Fit Test, is this Sunday. And it is this Sunday that I am planning on launching myself into another round of it. If I hit my preliminary weight goal of 250 pounds by Saturday that will leave only 30 pounds to go to hit my overall weight goal of 220 pounds. Which I know I can do.

So until tomorrow, when I push through yet another set of limits toward my 250 pound goal, I dare you to dig deeper and look for your own limits so you can blast through them, destroying them forever as you push onward toward a more healthy, fit you.

Insanity: Day 58 – Max Cardio Conditioning and Cardio Abs

Today was a hard work out for me. Hard as in it was difficult for me to do. I think my body is trying to come down with something right now. My wife got sick about a week ago and I think I may have gotten whatever bug she had, so this morning it was a chore to get up and get motivated. I still worked out, but it was hard for me.

It was a strange feeling, honestly, being able to work out while being sick. I was able to do some of every routine this morning, including the ab work out. But it was challenging, and I had to stop in every single one of them except the warm up. I felt energized but only for short durations. So while I managed some work in every routine, it was only about half the routine that I was able to work out in.

No matter, I still worked out, still pushed myself and felt great doing it. I wish I would not have been fighting this bug because I would have tore it up if I could have. I’m really trying my hardest to dig into each of the exercises this week to push through to my goal. I don’t want any excuses. I want to be at 250 on Saturday.

I’m also preparing myself for what’s next, so I want to make sure I get as much out of each work out as I can. I’ve always had that mentality, but this week i’m looking for all new personal boundaries to push through. I’ve been fortunate enough to push beyond what I thought I could bare so far. I just want to test myself a little more this week to see, really, if I can push any more so that next week, when I start what I think I am going to start, I will be well prepared for it. We’ll see.

Insanity: Day 57 – Max Interval Plyo

This morning was an awesome workout. I’m going into this week with the attitude that everything needs to be left on the floor come Saturday and it showed in my workout this morning.

The workout was hard, as is the case in all Insanity programs. But I felt refreshed, energized and well able to do pretty much anything this morning. I blasted through the warm ups and was able to handle pretty much all of the first circuit. The second circuit was definitely more intense than the first and was equally more challenging. I was able to push through a lot of the second circuit as well, but I noticed that I was slowing down quite a bit during the second circuit.

The third circuit destroyed me. But that is to be expected. I don’t suspect I will have enough stamina to make into the third circuit of a Max Insanity workout any time soon. Still, I was able to get some work out of it.

While I couldn’t do everything in the routine this morning, I was able to do a lot more than I have been able to do so far. I noticed that I have significantly improved in the area of push ups as I was able to do pretty much all of the push up exercises today. Of course, as has been my greatest weakness so far, my quadriceps failed me numerous times today, especially in the power jacks and diamond jumps.

Still, I have no complaints. It was a great workout and a great way to start my day. I’m looking forward to tomorrow when I try to destroy myself with some Max Cardio Conditioning and Insane Abs. Here’s to tomorrow.

Insanity: Day 56 – Rest

Oh good God I need some rest today. I am so tired and so sore. And I don’t think it’s from my workout yesterday, though it could be since it was a new workout yesterday working out new muscle groups in new ways. I think it is a combination of our workout, all of the running around we did yesterday and the late night exercise we had moving props and such around.

Whatever the case, I am tired. And sore. And I am so taking advantage of this rest day. At least until Sandi wakes up, when my work for today will really start as I tend to her every motherly need with the kids. 😉

Enjoy your rest today, especially if you are a mother. Mother’s work harder than anyone I have ever known. If there was ever a day to be deserved for honor, Mother’s day is it.