Imagine sitting on a couch with a heating pad having taken pain medication and crying because the pain only gets worse. Nothing you do stops the sharp shooting pain from radiating through your arms and legs as you slowly shift your body weight as you move an inch; your elbows and knees as you bend your limbs; your rib cage as you breathe in shallow breathes.

In November 2008, a week after Thanksgiving, I started to feel ill. My bones hurt. My muscles felt fatigued. My joints began to stiffen and it felt as if my body – quickly – became riddled with pain. It was as if my body was giving up on me. And for awhile, it did. I went through about a year’s worth of testing, during which I heard words like Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, to name a few.

I went from hiking and running 3-5 miles a day (sometimes twice a day) to having difficulty walking up the street. I shuffled. I cried in pain almost every day. It hurt to be touched or hugged by friends. I drank my drinks with a straw, because I couldn’t pick up the glass for any length of time. I was constantly cold. And I was put on heavy medications. And from those medications came a very unwanted side effect, especially to someone who has struggled with eating disorders. I gained a lot of weight.

However, the pain started to subside in May of 2009 and I started to slowly feel better. I still do not know what ailment hit me; however, the hard climb back to being in shape has not been a steady one. Even though I religiously kickbox three times a week (for almost a year now) and am now in pretty good shape, my body is not where I want it to be. Nor is it even remotely as thin as it was in May of 2009. I was put on a series of medications that not only made me heavier, but also have caused my metabolism to come to a screeching halt and enable me from loosing the weight I gained.

Over the years, my health has been on a rollercoaster – as I have heard Lupus once before – and gained a substantial amount of weight from medication when I was 21 and 26 years old. For several years I ebbed and flowed between somewhat slender and heavy, but by the time I became sick again in 2009, I had successfully dropped the unwanted weight and had become a slim 5’6” small/petite.

Some people may not understand the importance of being slender after the exhaustive experience of being ill – especially accompanied with the fear of one day having to use a wheelchair; however, one’s comfort and security with oneself can be (and usually is) tied up with how they look. When I was slender in November 2008, I finally came to a place where I felt not only attractive, but also confident. Confidence was what I truly gained and then sadly lost with my declining health.

I must admit that being in shape at this weight gives me a sense of confidence that I did not truly have when I was heavy before. I may not be slender, but I have stamina, strength and increasing boxing skills. To see myself successfully grow instills a new confidence, which is a lot like the confidence I had when I was an athlete.

My steady climb towards my goal weight started in March of 2008. I was tired of feeling unattractive and heavy and wanted to take control of my life. Looking back at one of my earlier posts back in December of 2007, I saw how positive and focused I truly was:

A few years ago I did a three-week vegetable/juice/protein shake detox that made me feel fabulous and, after it was over, I began a very restricted way of eating that involved eating mainly nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, brown rice, and meat. I was walking six miles a day and had a wonderful schedule that involved waking up at 6 A.M. and journaling for a couple hours before I began my work. (I am a writer.) I was writing for about ten hours a day, with two days off a week, which I tried to keep open for strictly fun stuff.

Soon after this lifestyle began – and I call it a lifestyle, not a diet – I was then diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which restricted my diet enormously, and Candida. I went on a stricter diet that involved limiting my fruits, as well as my vegetables…

It’s amazing how important it is to have a streamlined lifestyle in order to be a successful, happy, healthy individual. And I don’t want to use the word “restricted,” because then I am setting myself up for failure. I have so many things that I want to do with my life and I know making sure that I am healthy will help, aid, propel me forward in my work. Our bodies are our vessels, our machines, our temples, and if we don’t take care of it, we will not work the best possible way we can. If you don’t put the good gasoline in your car, it won’t work as well as if you had.

To be healthy, in shape and slender again is my renewed goal; however, it is very difficult to stay on track when you get derailed. I realize that I have problems committing to things that make me feel restricted – “I don’t want to use the word “restricted,” because then I am setting myself up for failure” – and I have to create a new way of looking at regaining my slim self. Perhaps it involves thinking of myself as an athlete again. Thinking that I have a goal that I am training for.

When I was a runner, my goal was to break school records. Which I did. When I was an ice hockey player, it was to be the best player on my team. Which I finally became. When I was a soccer player, it was to be a varsity starter. Which I was. When I rode horses, it was to connect with the animal. Which we did.

I have no athletic goal to focus on. There will be no kickboxing matches in which to spar. Part of me wonders if I should consider my goal to be never to become ill again. But I cannot promise myself that; however, I can promise myself that I will work hard every day towards becoming healthier and healthier. And with that, more secure in myself – emotionally, physically, mentally and professionally – as a person. I want to take control of my life. Again.