Today’s blog post is about illnesses and syndromes that are not obvious from the outside, but are very real on the inside. This definition encompasses a great variety of diverse illnesses ranging from chronic migraine, physical injuries, depression, psychological disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, allergies, organ dysfunction etc etc.
The purpose of this blog post is not to downplay your illness and ridicule you, but to put things into perspective and offer suggestions on how you can give yourself the best opportunity to embark on your fitness journey while dealing with and taking into account your specific illness.
The first thing we have to do is get the rant out of the way. If you have used your invisible illness as a reason for not exercising, chances are that you have received a lot of heat for it. Some people probably thought that you are making it up, others would think you are simply weak-willed and full of excuses, and yet others would have told you to suck it up and simply get over your illness.
Well, you know what? The reason for this ignorance is because the perpetrators of such comments do not know what you are going through. Because ignorance is bliss, they often assume that you are making things up, with the assumption extending to a judgment of an element of your character – namely being weak-willed.
While it is easy to get angry at such people and wish that they would one day go through what you do, having such feelings are completely counterproductive. At some point you have to come to the realisation that some people simply do not understand, and haters are going to hate no matter what.
I urge you to rationalise it this way – when someone makes a false assumption about you based on circumstances that they are unable to comprehend firsthand, that actually speaks volumes about their character, not yours! If their upbringing and mindset is so weak that they automatically extrapolate based on limited knowledge, what good will it do for you to worry about what they think?
Instead of dealing with haters and feeling upset or even sorry for yourself, the thought you should be having is what you can do to increase your quality of life and still deal with the illness that haunts you. This is called intrinsic motivation – when you and only you come to the realisation that you want to become fitter and healthier, and not because someone is forcing or nagging you to be.
So the obvious question remains – if I decide to become fit and healthy, how then do I start on my journey to accomplish this, given the difficulties brought about by my illness? Here are seven pointers that I have come up with that can help you.
One – Know your limits.
This might be the most obvious one to some, but the most difficult one to others. You have to be realistic in your current circumstance. If your knees are badly injured, you should not be undertaking exercises that will aggravate it. I’m not saying that your knees will never get better, but now is not the time to test its limits.
Two – Have self-belief, and match that with goal-setting.
If your aim is to lose weight, you need to believe that you can do it. This is a psychological barrier that no one can overcome for you. After you reach this phase, make a plan to reach your goals. Your plan has to be realistic, just like everyone else’s. However, yours needs to have an extra element of flexibility, and I will explain why soon.
Three – Learn how to deal with haters.
There will always be haters who doubt that you can reach your goals. This is not just for people with invisible illnesses, but for everyone who is thought to be punching above their weight. Be prepared for this, and make a promise to yourself to not let them get to you psychologically.
Four – Have a plan when you fail.
This continues on from point number two. You see, people without invisible illnesses can simply make a plan and stick to it. You have that extra barrier in front of you – a barrier that can, and probably will, slow things down. Since you know that it is inevitable, you need extra psychological strength to get back on track each time your circumstance forces you down.
Five – Don’t see failure as failure, but a learning process.
I cannot overemphasize this point, which by the way, is valid for anyone. If you do not meet your target for whatever reason, think of it as a temporary setback. Quitting is the only thing that makes you a failure! Instead, think of it as a learning experience and get back up again. Not many people succeed straightaway – it will always be a struggle. Acknowledge this!
Six – Do anything in your power to keep your motivation strong
You might not understand what I mean because this is a generic point. You really need to have a strong mindset to keep at it. There are no two ways about it. For some people, it might mean being accountable to somebody. To others, it might mean filling up their wall with encouraging messages. Find out what works for you and go for it.
Seven – Acknowledge that it might take longer to reach your goals, and that’s okay!
If you are reading this, I assume you really do have an invisible illness which you can feel, but others might not experience. You must be realistic about this. For example, no one would expect stroke survivors to undertake rigorous exercise. But if they have a strong mindset and good nutrition, they can still reach their weight loss goals. The same goes for you!
I hope that this has helped put a fresh perspective in your mind. I wish you the best in your weight loss journey while combating your illness. Who knows? If all goes well, the illness might even disappear one day.
If you feel that you need help with strengthening your mindset in order to commence your weight loss journey, do yourself a favour and check out the Winning Psychology Manual. In fact, some of the contents above are covered in this digital book!
If you wish to take things further, you can learn to clean up your diet with the Strategic Nutrition Guide and get a great exercise plan going with the Lifelong Fitness Blueprint. In fact, you can get all of these as part of a package such as the Granite Fitness Solution or the Granite Fitness Masterclass. Click on the images below to find out more.
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