I used to work out because I wanted to look good. Chronic illness has changed that.
Now I work out for my future self.
For my mental health.
For muscle, strong bones, and a healthy heart.
Did you know the healthier you are the higher your chances of a quick and smooth surgery recovery?
With three chronic conditions, the possibility of surgery is never truly off the table.
- I work out in case I ever need a colectomy.
- I work out in case I need a liver transplant one day for my primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).
- I work out so if I’m hospitalized like I was in 2018, I won’t return home with weak legs, underweight, barely able to walk to my own mailbox.
Muscle Loss from Hospitalization
In August 2018, I was in the hospital for a week due to an entirely impacted colon—AKA the worst ulcerative colitis flare of my life.
I lost about 15 pounds (all muscle, because I naturally carry little fat) from the GoLYTELY bowel prep, all-liquid diet, and constant bowel movements.
When I was discharged, I was so thin. My pants needed to be held up by what felt like 15 belt notches.
I had lost so much leg and glute muscle. It was a struggle to walk from my apartment door to the mailbox across the parking lot, and I could not take a walk around the complex without taking multiple 15-minute rest breaks.
Mindset Shift: From Looking Good to Feeling Good
After that hospitalization, I realized that I needed to gain muscle and stay healthy for the long-term so this doesn’t happen again.
I shifted my mindset to focusing on exercising for FEELING good rather than for LOOKING good. I’m so much more motivated to stick to my exercise routine with this as my goal.
- Say, for example, one day I feel bloated and pudgy, but then I feel my strong, sore abs underneath, that’s a win because that was the goal.
- If I pass by the mirror and think about how my arms are skinnier than I’d like them, but I feel energized from my workout, then that’s what matters.
- If my average weight is fifteen pounds more than it used to be when I was in high school but I feel strong and powerful, then that’s more than enough for me.
- If I don’t have a perfect booty but I can walk up several flights of stairs or the giant, steep hill in our neighborhood without being completely winded, then that’s okay with me!
It’s funny how when you detach your goals from “looking” good and connecting them with feeling good, your definition of success changes.
In fact, when my goals are to become stronger and more energized (as opposed to getting shredded abs, sexy arms, and a fitness model butt) I’m much more committed to my workout plan and motivated to exercise!
My body type is an ectomorph, which means it’s naturally very difficult for me to gain weight—both fat and muscle. So adding muscle is a long-term process for me, which means I need to be working out for the right reasons to stay committed.
And I know that if, one day in the future, I’m laying on the hospital bed recovering from a colectomy or a liver transplant, I’ll be saying silent thank yous to my past self for the hard work I put in so that I can have a smooth recovery.
But if I happen to get a six pack along the way, then hey, you won’t hear me complain! 😂