Weight should not matter. How you feel should be what matters and only what matters. If you feel good, physically and mentally, then your weight should not matter.
Everyday I try to teach myself that I am not defined by my weight. Admittedly and embarrassingly so, my weight is directly tied to my self-esteem. But I am working on that. And that, is a whole other post for another day.
The picture on the left is what I call “the normal me”. It was taken in my favourite place in the world, Hawaii. Funnily enough, by all rights that Hawaiian pineapple should have been inexpensive right? That pineapple right there was more expensive that any pineapple I’ve had in Canada. Hence the holding it like an Oscar.
The middle picture was taken not long after I was diagnosed in the winter of 2016 back in my favourite place. You will note the smile is not quite as big as it is in the picture on the left. I wasn’t exactly happy as I was defining myself as being fat and I’d just been diagnosed with Lupus. I figured life as I knew it was all but over. If you’ve read my blog, this was the trip with the spiders and when I realized the extent of the anxiety that comes with Lupus.
The right was taken today. Do you see those abs? I cannot tell you how proud I am of those. For someone with Lupus muscle tone is hard to come by but key in my mind to surviving Lupus.
You can clearly see my ups an downs in weight. I am still 20 pounds heavier than I was in the first picture but I am significantly stronger than I was in the middle picture.
When I started back with weight training last year I could not do a simple body weight squat. Three reps of them would fry my entire nervous system and I would have to sleep for 2-3 days.
My coach and I have gone through a lot of trial and error in learning what works for my body. I have had to learn from scratch how to train, how to exercise, a body with Lupus. He actually had me start by walking the length of the gym simply holding a 5lb weight. He calls it the suitcase carry. Trust me, I reacted the same as you are. “This is stupid and beneath my capabilities. I used to be able to….fill in the blank”. I stuck with it because he asked me only one question, “How is what you know working for you now?” Followed by, “If it is working well, then you don’t need me right?” UGH! FINE! I will listen but only with one ear!
After many frank discussions (which I needed as I am a bit (or a whole lot) stubborn). I was forced to place my ego on the shelf and do what he asked. For the record, I am sure he thought how I shelved my ego was done wrong too!
For interpretive sake, consider the definition of “frank” to be equal to, “argumentative”.
I spent the first 6 months progressing VERY slowly thus challenging my mental state and every ounce of patience I had. There was no change in my weight, or measurements, the gains in strength were VERY slow to come. The capital letters on VERY as to ensure you understand how much patience I had to muster here. I mean, it was a lot of patience.
On my bad days, the days Lupus won, I had to cancel training sessions. But he hung in there. He believed in me. He cheered me on. He made me understand that it was ok to not feel well one day because tomorrow was another day. And tomorrow we would try again. There was more than just physical things learned in these lessons. I learned how to be kinder to myself and my body.
Suddenly I wasn’t ashamed of what I could no longer do. I never felt judged for how slow things were going. I had a lot of coaches in my life. But after falling ill and after explaining in Lupus in depth. They continued to question and challenge me about my eating habits, if after 4 weeks my weight wasn’t significantly changed. Obviously I had to be cheating on my diet and was not willing to admit it. Looking back I cannot believe the shame tied to those training sessions, to those coaches. And I bought into it hook, line, and sinker.
If you are training with one of these trainers that make you feel ashamed then I need you to do something for me. Dump that idiot! They are saying these things because they don’t know what to do. All they know is if you work out hard enough and barely eat then you should lose weight. Or calories in and calories out = weight loss, it is that simple right? Wrong. They simply don’t know how a lupus body works, and/or don’t know anything about your body. They know that one thing only, work out, eat less, lose weight. If that doesn’t work, they are stumped. Lose ’em!
A good coach, my coach, kept telling me it was going to be ok and that I would get to where I need to be in time. He simply asked me to stick it out. He reminded me over and over again that I was worth fighting for even if it was just a tiny bit a day, I was worth it. There were many times that I literally said, “Screw it, I’m out, this isn’t working”. Ben (my coach), would ask me, “It isn’t working? Don’t you feel better? Aren’t you getting stronger? Haven’t you been sleeping better? Haven’t you been able to give up those 2 naps a day that your body forced you to have? Aren’t you now able to wake up, shower and dry your hair all in the same day?”
The answer to all of it was “YES” of course but there was one thing I couldn’t shake. One nagging thing that I couldn’t see past. My weight. I wasn’t losing weight The scale was torturing me. It mocked me every single day. With the patience equivalency to 10 kindergarten teachers he would say again, “But does that matter when you aren’t bed ridden anymore?” Unlike me (see above) he wasn’t focused on me as a “before and after”. He wasn’t using me as an advertisement for his services. He was invested in me as a person. I know he actually cares about my outcome. My feelings and my everyday quality of life mattered to him. He wanted to ensure that all of that got better. And my bathroom scale oddly enough, he wasn’t a fan of and cared very little about its success in life.
I am now weight training 4-5 days a week. I no longer have to interrupt my day with two naps. In fact I don’t need to take even one nap (more often then not). Remember the body weight squat? I can now squat 110 pounds. And I can do this for 3 sets of 5-6. I can dead lift 200 pounds! And can do push ups again.
I take great pride in these accomplishments. They have filtered through into my everyday life. Building strength in dead lifting has provided me with the simple grip strength needed to open a jar. I couldn’t open a jar for my life a year ago. That stupid walk thingy (suitcase carry) with 5 pounds across the gym. Remember, I almost quit right there. Well now I do that with 40 pounds! That has now given me the ability to bring groceries in from the car without needing to lay down in the foyer for a 30 minute rest before I could put them away. I can play with my daughter at the park. Last week, instead of sitting and watching her play I did the monkey bars. All the way across I might add. My daughter was delighted, she was really thrilled! Her face lit up as we both played on the bars.
Lupus almost literally sucked the life out of me.
Training, the right training, with the right coaching, gave it back to me.
I train now because it makes me happy. Training makes me feel strong. I no longer train because I hate my body but because my body needs it, it deserves it. I may not yet love my body, that will come in time, but I no longer want to punish it because it doesn’t work like it used to. I spend time in the gym because I want to, because I like how it makes me feel. I like the gym and what it gives me. I know without training, I would risk my mobility entirely. I won’t take that risk.
Weight training with my coach and his team of experienced people has given me my life back! Experience matters when hiring a trainer/coach. It’s key. There are coaches everywhere out there at the big gyms, little boutique gyms, home gyms. You need to meet as many as it takes to find someone you mesh with. Your personalities must work well together. I have a bit of a potty mouth, and my coaches find me quite amusing. They love my colourful word choices. That’s a good personality match. It was important to me to find a group of laid back people who would take me as I am. I had to feel comfortable really quickly with them or why would I go every day? Will you go work out when you don’t like the gym, the trainer, even the people around you? I doubt it. You have to think about all this when you pick a trainer.
Is your trainer actually listening to you? This is not an overnight thing. The right training does not equal the magic 2 pound weight loss per week you see advertised on TV every day. How is it possible for every body type out there to magically lose 2 pounds a week guaranteed? This is not about your, “Three month goal” if you are struggling with something like Lupus. That does not work for us. Training with Lupus is a day by day, month by month and year by year experience and it’s for a lifetime. There are no magic pills, or fad diets to cure what Lupus can do to our bodies. Of course our Lupus medication matters as does diet but you know what I mean here. There is no easy way out. And for God sakes, there are no ‘one size fits all’ approaches. That term makes me crazy. How is it humanly possible for one size to fit all? It’s not possible, it’s that simple.
You know what they say, “If at first you don’t succeed then try doing what your coach told you to do the first time” .
Damn it! I hated having to admit that I may not know everything after all!! This statement only holds true if you have a good coach, it’s imperative that you have someone with education behind them. A weekend course to get “certified” just won’t cut it especially with bodies that have special requirements to train healthily. Take your time, do the research, ask for references but most of all believe that you are worth that. You are worth fighting for. If you’ve forgotten that, if that’s gotten lost in you somewhere then dig deep and spend the time pulling your self-worth back out.
Time passes, that’s a fact, you might as well spend that time passing investing in yourself.
Trainers and coaches, they’re expensive. What if you cannot afford a coach? Is there something in life that you can give up that isn’t as important as your overall health and happiness is? The luxury coffee every morning? Could you make your own instead? How about the manicure every two weeks? Could you do that at home with your daughter perhaps? What about the dinner at a restaurant you like to do monthly, maybe you make a nice meal at home instead. I don’t know what you have that you could give up but I highly recommend trying to make this happen. Give up something that you may enjoy but don’t really need because this is something you may not always enjoy but you REALLY DO NEED! Perhaps your local YMCA/YWCA, church, community centre, high school has help for you? Even Social Services? Perhaps there is a coach in your neighbourhood that has karma classes where they offer a discounted rate or may know how to guide you as to how you can begin on your own. If you have insurance you may be eligible for some strength coaching through physiotherapy? Don’t give up because of money constraints there has to be an answer.
Fight for yourself, you deserve this!!!!!!
Thank you Lean Strong Fitness – Ben, Austin and Pam! xoxo