Monday, April 16, 2012

Getting Fit *is* a Challenge...especially with a chronic illness.

I saw a quote the other day that was very similar to something my mom always used to say and of course I loved it:

Anything worth having
is worth struggling for.

Several things about my first ever Lucy Monroe Reader Fitness Challenge have surprised me.  The number of entrants overshot my expectations by nearly two dozen.  The percentage of those willing to sign up for MyFitnessPal and keep a daily food and exercise diary absolutely shocked me: a whopping 93%!  How quickly the entrants started journaling and exercising once they had registered was also wonderfully astounding.

But nothing was more surprising and honestly heartening than the number of women signed up for the LMRFC, who like me, have chronic health conditions often including low to intense levels of pain on a daily basis.  It's hard enough for a perfectly healthy person (and believe me, I truly do appreciate just how difficult it really is) to commit to a more fit lifestyle, but for someone who battles their own body on a daily basis?  It's darn near impossible.

Or so I believed, before my Heavenly wake-up call and the determination it birthed in me to get my act together so I could be an active part of both my children and grandchildren's lives going into the future.

It's not's just hard.  And you have to take things in steps - sometimes itty-bitty-baby sized steps, but the goal is to move forward each day toward a healthier you. 

As someone with diabetes, a thyroid condition we're still trying to find the right balance for, migraines, agoraphobia and intermittent back and joint pain, I know this to be true.  But even more fundamentally, I hear this from the other coaches (who suffer things like fibromyalgia, clinical depression, diabetes, migraines, heart disease, etc.) and entrants (who are struggling with  things like lupus, a heart transplant, thyroid disease, diabetes, social anxiety, chronic joint or back pain, etc.).

The really cool thing?   Every single one of these women signed up for the fitness challenge anyway and they are all working hard toward getting as healthy as they can be.

In the search for understanding and a sympathetic friendship, we often end up allowing our illnesses to become the focus rather than efforts we can make toward better health.  Probably because there is such a terrible prejudice in this country against the obese, we struggle to be acknowledged not just as fat - but as sick and not *because* we are fat.

We aren't defined by our weight...or our illness(es)!  That's the truth we need to cling to. :)

Can I run a marathon?  Goodness, no!  But I can walk to the grocery store which is a mile from my house and three months ago, I couldn't walk around my block without huffing and puffing and lots of pain.  I still can't do regular jumping jacks, but I can do circuit training with modified exercises and it's making a huge difference in my stamina, my energy levels and my attitude.

Is it harder to exercise and lose weight with diabetes and thyroid hormone outside the normal ranges than it used to be for me?  Yes.  Is it impossible?  No!

I'm down more than 35 lbs since January 9th, but more importantly...I'm living a more active and engaged life than I have in several years.  I'm stronger, happier, and healthier!  And that's wonderful to me - I'm just so very grateful!  But you know what else I'm grateful for, what makes me smile and really just bask in joy right now?  72 other authors and readers are in this with me - people who took the challenge to get more fit and are running with it because they want to...because they can!