When I was a massage instructor, I was entrusted with the responsibility to ensure students utilized proper body mechanics while creating their massage techniques.  Often, I would get a student who would exclaim that they couldn’t accommodate a certain position because their musculature was too tight, or they weren’t muscularly strong enough, or they had a past injury that prevented them.  Obviously, some adjustments were necessary, but oftentimes, I would simply ask that student what might happen if they committed to stretching or strengthening their musculature, or working to genuinely heal the aftermath of a former injury.  Ultimately, if they were willing to insist on working toward a goal of maximum health that would improve their massage performance, stamina, and the reception of their techniques by clients. 

This past week, I’ve been watching a great deal of health documentaries that spell out the myths we’ve been led to believe regarding our overall health, as well as how to actually change the trajectory of our long-term well-being.  You see, individuals with chronic medical conditions make up over 39% of the workforce.  I discovered this while doing research a couple of semesters back for a final project in career development.  I learned how legislative employer regulations are not equipped to effectively manage employees with chronic illness, and thus many are encouraged to discover a way to be self-employed. 

As someone with a chronic condition who was self-employed for over a decade before recently moving, I can certainly attest to the decrease in stressors when trying to navigate doctors appointments or days where the condition renders one unable to properly perform their work duties.  But, mindset also plays a role in chronic illness by determining how empowered we will be in our lives. Just like my former students, where stretching and strengthening may not completely help them overcome a chronic injury, it certainly would have an impact.  Personally, I know the vision loss I’ve experienced is not returning, and I am fully aware of the fact that I may lose more.  But, I am also taking as much ownership of that as I possibly can by choosing to act in the areas of my life that I can control – diet and exercise. 

I’ve been a vegetarian since 1991, and vegan since 2016.  What this means is I eat a plant-based diet, where I eliminate all animal products – meat, eggs, dairy, or animal by-products.  I also don’t eat processed sugars (too often), and my partner and I have decided to make prepared foods  (like packaged veggie burgers or seasoned seitan strips) more of a once-in-a-while than a regular thing.  And while we currently prepare about 90% of our own meals, we realized there was more we wanted to do to empower ourselves as much as possible.  So, for the next month, we are fully cutting out refined sugars, as well as gluten, to see what changes.  To me, this is the equivalent of committing, like I once asked my students to do, to choose that which serves you best in your life.  It’s choosing yourself despite a busy schedule, despite fatigue, despite the convenience, and despite cravings!  It’s insisting that you are doing all you can to have your dream life, even with a chronic condition.

What is one thing you know you could be doing to improve your health?  What would it take for you to begin doing it?  What sacrifices do you perceive you would have to make in order to make this change?  Are they really sacrifices or more habits that bring you supposed comfort?  Because, if we’re being honest, when we don’t take care of ourselves, often we feel a sense of guilt and shame about it, so I’m not sure we should really even call them habits of comfort.  As I see it, the only failure is not trying.  I mean, if I can save even one-percent of my vision, I would call it all worth it!  What about you?  If you could (fill in the blank of that simple thing that you currently can’t do that brings you sadness) what would you do to have that?  Better yet, what could you to do to encourage your determination of having that? 

As a certified life coach and health coach, here is what I know… it’s one step at a time.  You don’t need super-schooling to know what is healthy for you.  Listen to your body.  If you get heartburn; gas; stomach ache; sluggish; cravings to eat beyond your satiation point, or you feel a sense of sadness after consuming it – it’s not empowering your life.  We may not be able to fully control our chronic illness’ but we certainly can still empower our lives. 

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *