My Story

Surely you have seen those 'Before and After' photos plastered on supplement packaging, or similarly, perhaps on the home page of a personal trainer's website. Regardless of how noteworthy these comparisons may be-well at least the ones that aren't doctored on Photoshop-I promise none compare to my own. But, before you think I accidentally mixed up the 'After' with the 'Before' photo, hear me out. As a former bodybuilder and currently certified personal trainer, I am all-too-familiar with the lengths my colleagues will go to in order to in order to produce an impressive before and after comparison. In fact, not long ago I read about a trainer that had worked for years to obtain an impressive physique, and then decided to stop working out entirely until he was deconditioned, just so he could start from scratch again. While, at the very least, this seems like a mildly insane way for a trainer to draw attention and subsequently attract new clients, I would be lying if I were to say the thought never crossed my mind before being forced into the exact same situation myself.
The obvious difference between the aforementioned trainer and myself is that, well, he voluntarily took a dive on his fitness and physique goals. I, on the other hand, got sick. Late in 2010, during a normal three-hour leg workout, I became disoriented, got the chills and my heart rate started spiking uncontrollably. I spent the next three weeks with doctors trying to figure out why I felt so awful, and the next [going on] three years with an unexplained case of prolonged mononucleosis. Unfortunately, after six-months of mono you get classified as having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I'm still trying to figure out if that or "the kissing bug" is worse.
As someone very much obsessed with exercise, having CFS for nearly three years has been rough. But, at the same time, the illness, as Michael J. Fox says about his case of Parkinson's, has been a "gift." It has taught me to live in the moment and be grateful for moderation. While I still fight through my days laid-out on the couch with a cocktail of debilitating symptoms-none more prevalent than unwarranted exhaustion-I appreciate so many more things now. Some days I am just so happy to be able to hop on my bike, even if it is just to ride down the block to the park. Other days, light stretching and yoga is enough to satisfy my dreams of once again deadlifting 400 pounds, or squatting to the floor with twice my bodyweight strapped to my shoulders.
I honestly have no idea whether I will be able to accomplish those feats of strength again, but I sure do love to imagine, and anyone that knows me will attest that I will try if it is at all possible. Along my journey with CFS, I have also realized one of the most important things in terms of fitness. However pleasing to the ego it may be, you do not need to lift 400 pounds to be fit. So, in the meantime, while I dream of bodybuilding again, I know that things like yoga, walking, riding my bike-and on good days- lifting a 20-pound kettlebell will keep me as fit as my body will allow. After all, going from fit to chronic fatigue syndrome and back again is a process that supersedes any agenda of laziness or motivation. And it certainly is not going to happen overnight.


hi, can't read, would be easier if you put more paragraphs in with spaces between each paragraph. most of us here have difficulty reading big blocks of writing. :) x

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