Seeing actor Will Smith post that he was in the worst shape of his life made me smile. Because grinning in short shorts with his paunch on display, he shamelessly owned something I’ve often felt.
Getting and staying fit is tough. Sarcoidosis and other chronic illnesses don’t make it any easier. Ditching exercise happens. Sometimes it’s because we are struggling with symptoms, or maybe the desire just isn’t there.
That’s why the way Smith paraded his fall from fitness made me feel better. Because, like him, we need to smile at ourselves; there is no shame. We pick up and start again. If you need a nudge, May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in the U.S.
Battling back from fitness lows
I didn’t pack on unwanted pounds during the pandemic like Smith. But I’ve had plenty of low points that would put me in the running for “lazy lockdowner” awards, if they existed. Three imaginary categories I might win are:
- The Gluteus Maximus: Sitting until your butt cheeks hurt. The gold medal, which I found out the hard way, is a prescription for physical therapy to treat sciatica.
- One and Done: Carrying a seemingly impossible number of shopping bags inside all at once, just to avoid a second trip. Your shoulders and back will hate you, but your legs will applaud the effort.
- The Push-off: Claiming this procrastination prize is easy when you are tired, hurting, or feeling lousy. Just keep telling yourself you’ll do things tomorrow, when you feel better.
Smith parlayed his midnight muffin eating into a YouTube series about getting back into shape. I renewed my efforts in late February for the same reason he gave: “I wanna FEEL better.”
The prescription we need
I won’t be watching Smith sculpt his abs back to jaw-dropping glory because it won’t inspire me. What I’d love to see instead are videos showing our rare disease community how to overcome challenges in our quests.
Guidance is so often what we are missing when our physicians push us to become more active. Receiving personal coaching, especially when coupled with wearing an activity tracker, clearly benefits those with sarcoidosis.
It helps reduce our fatigue and increase our exercise capacity, according to the study “Benefit of Wearing an Activity Tracker in Sarcoidosis,” published last year in the Journal of Personalized Medicine. A study published in March found that a short, supervised exercise program in a hospital setting also improved the physical health of sarcoidosis patients, Sarcoidosis News‘ Vanda Pinto reported.
I achieved my post-diagnosis physical best after participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Before it, exercise made me feel worse. But having a doctor map out a specific plan, monitor my progress, and make adjustments as needed due to symptoms or injuries changed that.
I’ve struggled ever since without that ongoing feedback, especially in the last year. Like so many others, I’ll probably stumble again going forward. But that’s OK. Because as long as we keep trying, we can succeed. And there’s no shame in that.
Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.
- Cuts for charity: Skipped haircuts during the pandemic have resulted in a spike of donations to hair charities, according to The Washington Post. Donations climbed about 230% at Long Island-based Hair We Share over the last year. Monetary donations to charitable organizations making wigs for those in need are also up, thanks in part to stimulus checks.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.