Cystic Fibrosis and Exercise by L. Strimple

If you don’t believe in the power of exercise and proper nutrition now is the time to become a believer. I am about to tell you a story of how proper nutrition and a proper work out routine has pushed me into the stratosphere of good health and well being, although I’ve battled Cystic Fibrosis all my life.

I’m not writing to give my life story but I have to give you a brief intro as to how having Cystic Fibrosis has affected me and the severity of the disease in general. When I was first diagnosed with CF, the doctors immediately started to educate my parents on what it meant to have a child with CF and the responsibilities entailed. They were very up front with them in letting them know that if they did not employ intensive therapy treatments and medication correctly, that I might not even live past my teenage years. Well needless to say I’m 22 years old, completely healthy and at the top of my game, and you’re wondering, how did I do it.

I’m here to let everyone know that know matter what health situation may be, proper nutrition and knowing the correct way to exercise and LIVING BY IT, will improve your health. No, it may not cure you, but it will improve your situation. CF is a genetic disease that has no cure as of yet. But over the past few months of implementing clean eating habits and training with Coach Jamie Hale, my situation has improved tremendously and I can work out as hard and do as much if not more than almost any person who sets foot in our facilities.

Doctors have always encouraged me to eat a calorie loaded, high fat, high protein, high everything diet. The main objective was always to put on as much weight as I could. They mentioned exercise but only briefly. They would maybe tell me to make sure I did about 30 minutes of cardio a day. There was no mention of weight and resistance training. Telling someone to do 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity is far too general. I thought as long as I was walking around during the day, I was doing exactly what they said. But to be honest, they never emphasized working out at the level they should. Now let’s set the record straight, I have much faith in my doctors; they look after me as though I was their own child at times. However, even a doctor can do only so much for a person. There comes a time when you have to take matters into your own hands and use good old common sense.

I have to admit that my journey of learning about nutrition and exercise from Coach Hale started as an effort to improve my physical appearance. I had taken my doctors advice of eating everything under the sun and lots of it and found myself a good 15 lbs. overweight at only 5 foot tall. I had a high fat composition and little muscle mass. But I weighed a lot and in the doctors eyes that seemed to be a great thing for a kid with CF. In CF, high weight is associated with good health which I believe is not true in all cases, especially not mine. I started exercising hard and frequently. Also, when it came down to exercising, I did exactly what Coach Hale told me to do. Remember, knowing HOW to exercise, is as important as the exercise it self. I started implementing good eating habits. I ate good carbohydrates, lots of lean meats, green vegetables, and started taking protein supplements. Needless to say, with doing all that I dropped a lot of weight and not just weight, FAT! My fat composition went down and my muscle composition went up. I dropped about 20 lbs. over all and I had the doctors a little worried, but for some strange reason, my pulmonary functions tests went up by 10 percent. That was as much of an improvement as I could have made doing 10 days of intensive IV antibiotics in a hospital setting. What happened to this theory that high weight is associated with good health in a CF patient? I dropped body fat and put on muscle. So here’s my theory, its not what the scales say that make the difference in your level of health, but muscle composition, and level of over all physical fitness. Every CF patient should be asking themselves these questions: How much physical movement do I do? How long can I perform it? Am I making an effort with my diet and exercise to put on excess MUSCLE MASS! Not just excess weight. Remember, weight comes in many forms, bone mass, fat tissue, muscle tissue, water even. The main objective is to increase muscle composition. Eating a diet that is simply high calorie/ high fat is not going to help you put on muscle mass. You may gain weight by doing so, but your muscle composition will stay exactly the same. So, instead of being so focused on gaining pounds I became focused on increasing my body’s muscle composition. It helps me breath easier and puts me in a better state of health. I mean, that’s what being muscular will do for anybody, why not implement these body building methods with the CF patient? It only makes sense. What’s more important than anything is the fact that I feel great. I don’t face mass congestion in my lungs like I used to, simply because I’m so physically active and my healthy eating habits have boosted my immune system through the roof. Therefore lung infections don’t stand a chance.

To summarize what I’m trying to say, exploring clean eating habits and getting a personal trainer on your side that is as well educated and skilled as Coach Hale will give you your life back! Again it may not cure you, but it sure as heck feels that way. I believe modern medicine and doctors are truly a gift from God, but you have to go that extra mile and do what you know is right not just for your disease but for your body. Doctors and medicine can never give you that. All I know is that I’m twenty two years old. I can do just as much intensive aerobic and anaerobic activity as well as weight training as anyone else. In my life, I’ve seen other patients battling CF who can’t even walk from one end of the hallway to the other without getting out of breath. Now, that speaks the truth about what proper nutrition and proper exercise can do for a person; especially for those facing chronic illnesses. Coach Hale helped me to find the truth about proper nutrition and physical activity, and the results I’ve gotten make me never want to abandon it.

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