I don’t know if you guys know this about me or not, but going to the gym intimidates the living daylights out of me. Even in my I-can-eat-three-cheesburgers-in-one-day-but-still-look-dang-good days, it still intimidated me. It always has!
I have this weird notion in my mind that I am the least fit person there that has a stamina of a 90 year old and the only one that has no idea how to work 95% of the machines. I have to prepare myself mentally before I go to the gym, it’s ridiculous!! I will give you a little glimpse of what my mind sounds like before I go “k, soo if there’s too many people working out, I am just going to stick to the treadmill or elliptical. That I can do without looking stupid, unless I fall or trip, which I hope I don’t do” “How the heck am I going to get back in shape if I am just running for a short time? maybe I should get a personal trainer. But what if I can’t do what they expect me to do, because of my health, and then I look stupid … “Oh gosh, I just hope no one is there” … and it goes on and on! I mean, this is incredibly silly, isn’t it? I promise I am a sane person … most of the time :)!
I’ve been encouraged by a few friends to join a circuit class at the gym I go to, since I’ve talked to them in the past about really wanting to get back into shape. I would just say things like “Oh yeah! That sounds awesome .. maybe I will.” but I’d walk away and think “ahhh no! That ain’t happening” … I just felt like I wasn’t physically able to do it.
Until one day, I get to the gym and one of the trainers there catches me off guard and asked what I was planning on doing in regards to workouts, and because there were so many people there and I didn’t want to embarrass myself with doing regular workouts I said I was going to do cardio. He then asked me if I would be interested in joining the circuit class that was starting at that time, since it was cardio. I made a few excuses but he came back with too good of reasons to say no, so I begrudgingly relented.
As we walked to the class, me some distance behind him, I hurried to get closer so he could clearly hear what I had to say and that’s when I blurted out something I deeply regreted afterwards. I said “make sure you tell her I have Lyme Disease!” Right after I said that I felt a sick feeling in the pits of my stomach. It didn’t stop there, as soon as he introduced me to the trainer I shared all that I had gone through with my illness the last 5 years in a span of 2 seconds. To my surprise, and I say surprise because in my crazy Aisha mind I pictured trainers to be harsh military men that made you workout until you had vomit coming out your nostrils and mouth, but she was so understanding and willing to modify the workouts to what my body could do, and guess what?! I lasted 40 minutes and was actually able to do most of the workouts that all the others were doing. I was so proud of myself! But the entire time I was there I had a nagging thought that wouldn’t go away, and quite frankly, made me feel a little embarrassed, “why did I need them to know so badly I have Lyme Disease when I am doing so much better with my health?”
I realized in that moment I still use Lyme Disease as a crutch and as an excuse to not do things out of fear of failure.
I was not okay with that!
Us chronically ill folks know that chronic illness is not for the faint of heart. We have doctor appointments to go to on a regular basis, we have medications/supplements to take daily, we are constantly searching for the cure-for-once-and-for-all treatments, sometimes our treatments requires us to travel extremely long distances. The day-to-day-day struggles; it challenges marriages, extreme fatigue to the point of being unable to get off the couch, symptoms that are in the way of accomplishing simple daily tasks, cancelling out last minute on friends or appointments because we are too sick to get off the couch, the feeling of inadequacy as a wife and/or mother because we chose to lie on the couch to recuperate from a busy day instead of cleaning the messy house, make meals or spend time with our loved ones. The list is unending.
Living with a chronic illness is HARD, plain and simple! In the state of health I was in a few years ago, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do a circuit class or a lot of the other things I am able to do now and I would have most certainly used my chronic disease as a dang good reason for not being able to do those things. But now that I am doing much better and able to do a lot more than I have been in the last five years, I still catch myself once in a while pulling out the “I have Lyme Disease and I can’t do it” card without even trying!
I’ve somehow convinced myself that because of Lyme Disease and Co’s I don’t have what it takes to do certain things, when in fact I most certainly do because I survived one heck of an illness!!! If I have the determination and persistence to survive a chronic illness as complex and as tough as Lyme Disease is, I am pretty sure I have what it takes to accomplish other challenges in life.
It made me think of the many times I was knocked down over and over during my illness from trying different treatments that didn’t work, side effects from medications, new symptoms that would emerge from new treatments, the awful herx that made it feel there would never be an end to the suffering, yet day after day I chose to get back up and fight.
Whether you’ve recovered from Lyme or you’re in the thick of it right now, you choosing to get up every day to take the 30+ meds that were prescribed to you, or the 30+ supplements that need to be taken every day, making nutritious meals to heal your body, getting rest because your body needs it even though you’d much rather be out and about doing fun things, and all the other regimens a Lymie is supposed to do on the road to recovery. That is courage … that is strength … that is resilience …. and that is the persistance and determination that will get you to the other side of this journey.
It sounds so cliche, but if we truly set our minds to a specific goal and give it our all, we will accomplish it. For you it may be getting to a healthier place in your chronic illness journey. The path we choose to take to accomplish our goals might look different for each one of us individually and that is okay. Some may go down that path a lot quicker than others, and for some it might be a much slower path, but guess what? the end results are the same!
Now that I am better I truly have to train my brain to think differently and speak life and positivity into what I do and not use Lyme as a crutch anymore, it’s going to be a challenge but I am determined to do it. There’s a quote on the TV screen at the gym I go to that says “You are a lot stronger than you think you are” and it is so true! Our chronic illnesses made us a lot stronger and resilient than we were prior to our illnesses. If we can set our minds to recovering from a chronic illness and get to the other side of it, then we can do that with anything else!
This chronic illness journey is an interesting one …. but let’s never give up! Always believe, always have faith in Christ because apart from Him we can do nothing, always have hope and always pick yourself back up after you fall, not matter how many times you fall!
We’ve got this! <3