After opening up about her battle with multiple chronic health conditions, former Biggest Loser trainer Tiffiny Hall has revealed the devastating impact the diagnoses have had on her physical and mental wellbeing.
The 36-year-old fitness guru told news.com.au that she has had to restrict her exercise to just 10 minutes a day since being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (aka CFS/ME) last year.
Those affected with CFS/ME feel extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn't go away with adequate rest.
At the same time, Tiff also found out she had Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS, a condition that affects blood flow and causes people to feel lightheaded or even faint.
'Trainer who can't train'
No longer able to tolerate her grueling regimen of weights training, strength, conditioning and cardio, the Taekwondo Black Belt now describes herself as a "trainer who can't train".
Tiff explained that if she pushes herself too hard she can risk triggering a condition called PEM or protein-energy malnutrition.
"It's when you exert too much and people with chronic fatigue have a certain amount of energy they can exert before they get physically ill," she said.
"So, if I do a HIIT [High-Intensity Interval Training] session, I get PEM, but low-impact strength training I can do – it’s progressive strength training though so for example I will start with 3kg one day for 10 minutes (or two five-minute slots), then build up to 4kg the following session."
To avoid overdoing it, Tiff has taken a step back from running some of her online TXO LIFE workouts which are now handled by personal trainers from her program.
The mum-of-one — she shares son Arnold, 3, with comedian husband Ed Kavalee — described the physical toll her illnesses have had, saying that just walking up the stairs leaves her 'puffed'.
"My body has changed, I don’t have muscle tone and I have gone up a [clothing] size and that’s never been the case for me. Not even after having Arnold (who is now three)."
Tiff said that she became suddenly unwell after a very busy time with her businesses which include TXO LIFE and an activewear line called FLEX.
"It happened so suddenly off the back of a few big shoots and I just couldn’t walk or get out of bed," she said.
She underwent test after test before eventually reaching a diagnosis, a process that had a huge impact on her mental health.
"That searching for a diagnosis triggered depression and it was the biggest mental health challenge I have ever been through.
"It was scary and it was rock bottom for me."
Nowadays, Tiff has a weekly appointment with a psychologist to make sure she looks after her emotional wellbeing.
In May, Tiffiny appeared on A Current Affair to share an update on her life with CFS/ME and POTS which she described as "horrendous, absolutely hideous" and her "biggest battle yet".
"The problem with chronic fatigue is it won't kill you, but it will ruin your life... I was smiling on camera and dying behind the scenes," she said.
Tiffiny compared the physical impact as feeling like her body is 'encased in cement' and revealed that at one point her mum and a friend had to move in to help her look after Arnold because she 'couldn't get out of bed'.
"My body was aching. It was like I had the flu," she said.
She also said she would be taking some time away from the spotlight to focus on her health so she can get back to 'being a good mum' and not always have to rely on Ed, 41, to drive her places.
"At the moment I just want to be mum. And I can't do that whilst I'm sick and chronically ill. So, I need to take this time out," she said.
Tiff's health battle
It was back in April that Tiffiny shared the news about her 'personal' health struggles with her followers on Instagram in a moving post.
"Okay, deep breath," she wrote. "I've decided to share something very personal with you today. For some time now I’ve been battling a little with my health. A lot actually.
"After a gazillion tests to figure out what could be wrong, I’ve recently been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME [myalgic encephalomyelitis] and POTS [postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome] – a blood pressure condition which in my case is genetic."
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