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Health & Support
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Fitness and Health Issues

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I'm a 24 year old female, 5'7 and 150 lbs, I eat a diet high in protein and vegetables with low sugar and low sodium (about 1800-2000 calories/day) and I'm not by any means overweight, I'm aiming for a fitter body and to improve my respiratory system - but I've been consistently running into issues with my fitness goals.

Sadly, despite taking care of my body, I consistently have anemia, sometimes it's to the point where I have zero colour in my lips and gums because my iron count is so low.  I take supplements and drink chlorophyll to counteract the effects, but it's only just keeping my iron at a reasonable level; I have been to the doctor, his only suggestion was to keep taking supplements on top of my current diet. 

I'm also a student in health care; my co-op has me on my feet for 7 hours a day starting at 5 a.m.  I spend my day constantly walking, lifting, and bending.  At the end of my shift, I have a 25 minute walk home followed by another 20-30 minutes of walking my dogs.  I also tutor a classmate several times a week and take Tai Chi on tuesdays.

The problem has become that by the time I get home, shower, do homework, and have a meal, I'm finding I have zero energy left to exercise.  I have the urge to - in fact, I feel very much driven to exercise - but my body is refusing to co-operate with me, I feel like a drained battery.  Does anyone have suggestions for increasing my energy without resorting to caffeine?

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you are my twin :P

What I've resorted to-and don't running to work in the morning

 I have no time or energy left at the end of the day to work out (anemic here too-single mom/45hr work week/own my own home and maintain it myself)

Anyways-my walk to work is about a mile and a half,(25 min as well, but fast pace)and I was running late one morning-so I had to run to shave 15 min off the walk, and when I arrived to work I was ENERGIZED-and my whole day was pretty awesome.

I throw my suit/lunch/purse in a knapsack and change when I get to work. I don't get sweaty on a 15 min run so no need to hit the shower

Sometimes we need to work with what we got

Do you have a very heavy period? Or do you ever have visible blood in your stools or are they ever a dark, tarry color? It's common for women to be anemic because we lose blood every month when we have our period, but it sounds like you have pretty severe anemia that probably contributes to you feeling so tired at the end of the day. Has your doctor ran blood tests to be sure that you have iron deficiency anemia and not another form of anemia? If you did have another form of anemia, taking an iron supplement wouldn't help and it seems like taking iron isn't really helping improve your symptoms.

As far as exercise, walking/moving around nonstop for 8 hours a day and taking an exercise class 2 times a week sounds like decent exercise...Sometimes when you're in college and working and having other obligations you just have to make the best out of the limited time you have. Can you exercise in the morning? It sounds like you already have to get up really early so that might not be do-able. Can you just spend 30 minutes a night at home doing muscle toning exercises since you probably burn enough calories throughout the day with just your normal life and then go to the gym on Saturdays and Sundays?

Sorry this isn't more helpful. :/ If your doctor hasn't done a full set of blood work and actually diagnosed you with iron deficiency anemia, I think you should pursue being tested for other types of anemia because that's probably contributing to your exhaustion a lot.

I think the biggest thing here is sleep- how is your sleep?  are you getting enough (can you wake up without an alarm clock?)  i say more sleep, in a completely darkened room.


If you are constantly tired, exercising will only make everything worse unless you are getting the rest you need- it sounds like the amount of walking you are doing now is stressing your body out enough....  focus on reducing stress, and go to bed early- i'd be willing to bet you don't get 8 hours a night, probably closer to 5-6 is you are getting up at 5AM.  

Also, depending on the type of anemia, it could be due to inflammation, in which case you may be sensitized or intolerant to gluten- perhaps cutting out grains for a time will help you determine if that could be an issue.  There has been a strong correlation between Iron Deficiency and Celiac... especially as related to affects on physical labor.  Do some googleing about it


World Journal of Gastroenterology 2009 June 14; 15(22): 2748-2753,  “Pre-endoscopic screening for Helicobacter pylori and celiac disease in young anemic women”. ( H. pylori, is a bacterium found in the stomach that can cause  malabsorption of iron.)

3 Replies