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I posted the picture above in The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies Facebook group this morning, because it is something that I have to remind myself of often. Whether it be in regards to eating healthier or exercising, lack of progress feeds my insecurities and makes me wonder if what I am doing is really worth the effort.
I didn’t get where I am overnight!
One thing I have to remind myself of daily is that I didn’t get where I am overnight. The weight I gained came from years of inactivity and comforting myself with food. Sure, I could easily blame it on my chronic illnesses, but the truth is that fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, and endometriosis aren’t to blame, I AM! For years I allowed pain and fatigue to control every aspect of my life and as each year passed by, the further out of shape I became.
Getting real with myself
I have struggled with weight since high school. Prior to my invisible illnesses deciding to pummel my body with daily pain, I was at a healthy and acceptable weight. It took a year of watching what I ate and daily exercise to reach my goal, so it would be unrealistic of me to think I could shed the weight I have gained since the fall of 2003 in a few weeks or months. Another thing I have to consider is that I am 15 years older!!! I will be turning the big 50 this fall and let me tell you my metabolism is nothing like it was when I was in my early 30’s.
Accepting and rejoicing the progress I have made
I began getting serious about becoming as healthy as I can possibly be in January of 2017. Ten pounds is all I lost from that time until January of 2018. TEN POUNDS!! At first I was pissed off by the number, but then I realized that those were 10 pounds that I didn’t have to lose this year! Not only that, but I developed better eating habits and my body stopped craving foods that aren’t good for it. I also began craving physical activity. This is something that I have never done, not even when I was younger. Overcoming cravings, yearning to move my body, and losing 10lbs is progress that I never expected to achieve, nor would I had I done nothing at all. So far this year I have lost 5lbs. That’s 1.6666666667 pounds per month. I could let this number get me down or I can be proud of myself for losing them. I choose to be happy, because my eating habits and physical activity are continuing to improve. While I may not be seeing significant results on my bathroom scale, I am seeing it in the mirror, in pictures, and by how my clothing fits. I am down a pants size and am no longer embarrassed of having my body photographed.
I began my fitness journey with baby steps. I didn’t force myself into following a restrictive diet. My dietary changes have taken place one at a time. In time I will be following the diet that is perfect for my body, because I am taking small steps to allow my body time to adjust. Had I decided to go full speed ahead and overhauled my diet to be what I want it to be right from the start, I would have quit. Same goes for exercising. I didn’t begin with walking 4 plus miles a day or using my rowing machine for 60 minutes at a time. I had to take baby steps and began with 5 minute increments a few times a week.
My advice for you
Consider these three things if you are struggling to find a fitness routine that works with your disease:
- Search for physical activities that you are able to do, NOT what you wish you could do.
- Listen to your body and do what you can, when you can.
- Baby steps are better than no steps! You will never make any progress if you aren’t trying.
And when you’re feeling discouraged, remind yourself that:
- You didn’t get to where you are at overnight, significant progress will take time.
- You’re health is important! Having a chronic illness is not an excuse for not caring for your body.
- A bad day is just that, let it go and move on. If a setback or flare requires that you reduce your activity or dictates that you have to start back from square one, that is okay!!!
Whether you have a chronic illness or not, The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies are here to motivate, encourage, and support you in your quest to improve your health. Click here to join us.
Finding an exercise program when you have one or more chronic illnesses can be difficult. I suggest you check out Get Autoimmune Strong, an exercise program created for those who suffer from chronic pain. The creator of this program is fellow chronic pain warrior, Andrea Wool. The techniques and exercises she shares in her program have improved my personal routine.