Karen Windsor was finally diagnosed with lipoedema in 2015, after an earlier diagnosis of lymphoedema in 2005 masked the condition. Anger and a feeling of hopelessness after further diagnosis in 2016 finally gave way to a revelation that something had to change. Since then, Karen has dedicated her life to fighting lipoedema and raising its profile on her Instagram account through a number of non-surgical techniques, fitness and diet, all with the help of an inspiring group of lippy ladies who aim to raise each other up. Her story is one of hope and relentless determination, it’s well worth a read…
Name: Karen Windsor
Instagram name: @kaztalks
You are clearly an inspiration to your social media community – what is it about your posts that you think people resonate with so much?
I think it’s because I’m a real person. I don’t pretend to be anything other than myself. The good the bad and the ugly.
When were you diagnosed with Lipoedema?
My story is complicated as I was diagnosed with lymphoedema first which happened from secondary surgery and my lymph becoming impaired. My lymphoedema was so bad it was masking lipoedema, but I was finally diagnosed with lipoedema in 2015. From about 2010 I was constantly asking if I had lipoedema and I was told ‘no’, then the blow came that I did, in fact, have it.
How did you feel after getting your diagnosis?
I was so angry I knew I had got it and had been through so much already. I didn’t cope well with my diagnosis.
Did/has the diagnosis of lipoedema affect your fitness regime and/or your diet – did you have a fitness regime before your diagnosis?
When I was first diagnosed with lymphoedema I was a size 26 and around 24st. I didn’t have any fitness regime, I just thought I was useless, pointless and a complete tie to my family.
Then in 2016 I saw a consultant privately and was told that year I had Dercums disease, fibro chronic fatigue, Eds hypermobility and now osteoarthritis, my knees are so bad. It was after seeing that consultant I got fiercely angry and decided enough was enough and decided I’m not living this life. I started changing my life around. It’s taken years and years of trial and error with fitness and diet and treatments.
For those suffering from lipoedema, what sort of diet and exercise would you recommend?
I would recommend a ketogenic way of eating and heavy lifting with low impact exercise.
You mention in a recent post about ketogenic and fascia blasting, what exactly do these things entail?
Ketogenic is a carb and sugar-free way of eating, in fact, you eat high fat (healthy fats – I don’t eat butter and bacon). I have eliminated all the inflammation in my body because of eliminating carbs and sugar. My body is fat adapted now which means my fuel source is purely fats! Carbs and sugars create inflammation and help with the progression of lipoedema.
I changed my size through keto and exercise I changed my shape through fascia blasting. Our bodies are made up of fascia. Fascia holds the affected fat in the body but once you start breaking through the fascial layers you can break the fats down and manipulate it.
You’re the Southeast Rep for Talk Lipoedema, a brilliant community of ‘lippy ladies’, do you think support groups like this and talking to likeminded helps individuals come to terms with their diagnosis – what other benefits do you see it having? How did it help you personally?
Without Talk Lipoedema I wouldn’t be who I am today, you really do need a support network and a lot of ladies don’t get that at home. There is so much negativity (and misconception) surrounding lipoedema as fat or obesity, my ladies are told they are lazy and criticised daily. In support groups we do nothing but try to motivate and bring everyone up and help them to realise they are not alone in this.
Talk to us about compression garments, are you now wearing garments?
I used to wear ccl4 compression but I’m now wearing ccl2. I only wear it when I have to (i.e. on a hot day and my legs swell or if it’s that time of the month and I swell). I also sleep with my legs up which helps a lot. I just put quilts and pillows under my mattress and that lifts the mattress up.
What advice would you give those living with lipoedema who want to stay fit and healthy?
I have a good 100 women doing what I’m doing and seeing success, Ioana (@Ioana_fit on Instagram) for example, she follows me to the letter and is making huge improvements with keto, exercise, fascia blasting and dry brushing and cupping. I also do RLD which is reflexology lymph drainage.
WATCH KAREN’S CHAT ABOUT HER JOURNEY WITH IOANA BELOW:
Can you outline a short meal plan and exercise plan below as an example of what you might suggest for other lipoedema ladies?
Keto is easy and there is the diet doctors guide that will help anyone with that.
Exercise is key, I suggest things like low impact cycling, rowing, resistance bands and high-intensity interval training. Then there are weights which target a different body part daily. Lift heavy for short reps.
You note that you often use low impact exercise, why is this sort of exercise better for those suffering from lipoedema?
In my case, my joints are already damaged from carrying heavy lipoedema for years. So low impact won’t affect the joints as badly as high impact.
How are you planning on helping to spread the word about lipoedema? Will you be doing any programmes specifically for those who have the condition – are you planning to start videoing your journey?
Yes definitely! This year I have found far more social media support so I’m putting more out. It’s hard building on an illness no one really understands or knows about. Plus you want to get interest and the only way you’ll get that is through your own success.
Would you ever consider surgery in the future or is it something that you’ve decided is not for you?
I haven’t ruled out surgery, but for me, with all my added diagnosis it just doesn’t seem right at the moment. Everything I do is to prevent this illness getting worse when I’m older. There may come a day where I have no choice and I’ll cross that bridge if and when it happens.
What is your advice for lipoedema sufferers who are struggling to motivate themselves to get active?
Believe in yourself if I can do it then others can. Motivation is hard when you’re hurting emotionally and physically. Take things slow to jump into something baby steps that’s what I did.
Anything else at all you want to add?
I’m really grateful that The Karri Clinic is allowing me to voice my opinions and truths of this illness. How I’ve dealt with this is personal to me and I know everyone is different.
All the views and in this article are Karen’s own. Lipoedema is a very personal condition and what works for one may not work for another.