Learning to Celebrate Myself (Again.)

Last Sunday my friend Kate, of Kate the Almost Great, featured me in her blog’s “Spoonie Spotlight.” If you’re not familiar with the term, “Spoonie” refers to someone living with a chronic illness, and it comes from the popular “Spoon Theory” by Christine Miserandino (you can read it here). Kate uses this section of her blog to quite literally shine a spotlight on and raise awareness for those of us living with chronic illnesses.

I reread the answers to her questions that I wrote probably a month ago, and I realized that lately, I haven’t been doing a very good job of living my own words…

In October of last year, I made a commitment to myself to get back in shape after a summer of overindulgence. I cleaned out the fridge, dedicated time to meal prep, spent more time at yoga than the bar and worked out 4-6 times a week. By March of this year, my body was so transformed that I felt confident enough to share my before and after pictures on Instagram using the “Transformation Tuesday” hashtag.

Then in April my life effectively blew up: my brother-in-law passed away very suddenly, and on the day of his burial I spent three hours beforehand at Rheumatology for additional tests and full body x-rays after routine blood work indicated that my somewhat stable RA had gone off the rails entirely. The following week I started back on Methotrexate (low dose chemotherapy), and the combination of grief and the weekly chemo hangover put working out pretty low on my priority list.

Since then my weight has been all over the place: some weeks the chemo side effects are so bad that I can barely eat and others I eat everything – but mostly my feelings. Even more frustrating has been losing all of the muscle mass that I worked so hard to build. I miss feeling long and lean and, most importantly, strong.

These days I’m starting to feel a little more like my old self. I’ve figured out ways to mitigate the chemo side effects a little better, and I swear the Orencia is starting to work already! But while my body recovers from the last few months I need to be gentler with myself.

I need to stop comparing myself to others and where they are in their respective journeys – fitness or otherwise. I need to stop standing in front of my full-length mirror every day picking apart my stomach, thighs, and arms. I need to remember to not only stop comparing myself to others but to get back to the place where I proudly celebrated the resilience of my own body. I need to remember to celebrate my accomplishments again – no matter how big or small.

I’m getting there. I’ve started working out again, and I’ve been able to do so 7 out of the last 10 days! Are my workouts as intense as they were back in March? Nope. And I’m really trying to be OK with that. Sometimes that’s the hardest part – that feeling of “I can’t work out like I did four months ago so why even bother?”. How easy it is to forget all of the hard work between that first day back in October and my best days in March.

This October, exactly one year after those first steps so long ago, I am running my first ever Mudderella: a world class, 5–7 mile long, muddy, obstacle course designed for women by women. It seems like a pretty amazing way to celebrate everything that I have achieved this year – physically and otherwise. And, between now and then, my biggest goal behind training for the race will be to remember to celebrate all of my achievements, no matter how big or how small, between now and then.