Starting Over At 46

In my previous blog I talked about the massive change in my life that happened these past two years when I became very sick due to a rare auto immune disease that attacked my heart and almost killed me.  When your health is attacked and everything you have worked for and built up from a physical and mental perspective is taken away from you, life can get pretty tough.

But life is all about the journey right? It’s about living every day, picking up the pieces and making a jigsaw puzzle from it all.

Over the past three months, I started the rebuilding process. Nine months of prednisone really tears apart your body. For those of you that aren’t familiar with this medication, I hope you never have to experience it. It is an immune suppressant medication that tells your immune system to ‘go to sleep’. Your adrenal glands shut down. Your body then deals with so many potential side effects. When I first was told about the medication my doctor said “There are pages and pages of side effects. Take some time to read them all” That didn’t make me feel very optimistic about it. You hope and pray that you are one of the special few that aren’t  affected by the side effects. Well I was wrong.

My side effects included:

Increased appetite, weight gain, moon face (yes your face blows up like a chipmunk), buffalo hump (the space behind your neck between your shoulders starts to collect fat and a hump starts to form, facial acne, mood swings, insomnia, and irritability. Just to name a few.

I am a fitness instructor and personal trainer and have worked very hard throughout life to watch my diet and exercise. But as soon as I inserted this medication into my body, everything I worked for disappeared. I gained 14lbs and lost almost most of my muscle that I had worked at building. I didn’t inherit a body where I can just sit around and enjoy being thin. I have had to work at it, every day.  

When I finally weaned off the medication, this past October, I started the journey back. And then it hit me “I have to start over at 46”. The late 40’s – the time everyone warns you about. The time when you start to gain weight, that you can’t seem to lose. The time when you start dealing with pre-menopause, where losing weight becomes impossible. And here I am, at 46, 14lbs heavier than normal and I have to start again.

So I started climbing another mental mountain. I believe that people that struggle with disease become mentally stronger because they have to work at staying alive. I realize that may sound a bit extreme but to a certain degree it is true. You have to mentally stay focused on getting better, ignoring all the little signals that try to drag you back into the ‘dark zone’ of negativity. That nagging question always at the front of your mind “is it coming back”’.

So it’s been 3 months that I am off prednisone. I have lost 7lbs. It has been the hardest 7lbs of my life! There are days where I think, this is crazy! My diet is clean, exercise regime is back and the weight is moving slower than molasses.

But I take a look in the mirror and think about one year ago, facing the news that I might die, because this disease took over my body. And I am reminded that life is all about the journey. This disease has made me stronger. I am stronger mentally, and slowly getting back to being stronger physically. I have met great people along the way. People that have shared their success stories and those that are still struggling.

One of the greatest things that has happened is the appreciation and joy that I am getting watching the growth of my clients through personal training. I know when they are tired, and I know when they aren’t. Pushing them to get to their goals, now becomes my goal. Watching their physical struggle makes me push them to realize that the struggle is really mental. The stronger our minds become then the stronger our lives become.

This week I returned to Hot Yoga. As I lay there in the heated Yoga Studio, and started thinking about the connection between body and mind, I began thinking about my life one year ago.  I thought, I am starting over, but watch out world, because I am coming back.