As I have advanced into my health journey, I have realized that I am quite literally saving my own life. The importance of this becomes more clear when I look at my son, who has high-functioning Autism.
When you have a child with special needs, the future becomes a bit cloudy. You often don’t know what the next moment might hold, much less who will care for them if, God forbid, you are not there in the future to do so.
My son has a lot of potential. He is intelligent, has a photographic memory, a verbal memory, and many other wonderful traits. But there are so many life skills for him to learn, in order to survive and thrive as an adult in this world later in life.
If I do not take care of myself, if I am bed ridden or die early in his life, he will be devastated. He thrives on patterns and on things being very predictable.
I do not want him to be one of those special needs adults that are pushed to the side, precious people that the government doesn’t know what to do with, so they end up in an institution or adult day care.
He is so much more than that, but it is my responsibility to bring that potential forth. That means that I need to be here, active, and healthy. I must be a voice for him until he can speak for his own needs and desires.
In fitness, we often speak of a person’s “why.” Why they chose to become healthy. Why they push every day, when it would be easier to just sleep in. Why we do the extra squats and push ups, when our body is saying, “No more.”
My “why” is sometimes a big jumble inside of me. I know that I got tired of looking into the mirror and hating myself, of feeling unworthy to exist. I know that I like myself better when I do things to make myself more well, and when I accomplish my goals.
I don’t miss the feeling of being out of breath when I cross a room. I left behind the overly-fast heartbeat that accompanied that action, and the sudden jumps in my heart beat from just sitting still.
I love the feeling of liking myself again. I missed the old me, the more slender me, so much. I am finding her again, but it is a journey. I do know that I am a more positive wife, mother, and friend when I like myself. That fact makes it worth the effort as well.
But when I look at my Autistic son, when I see his innocence and his open heart, I am reminded that I am still his guide in this world. I am his shelter, his teacher, and his defender. He needs me more than the average child might.
I have a responsibility to him. If God is willing, I plan to be here for many years to come. But I must do my part. That means saying no to the bad foods and yes to the exercise.
After a hard workout, I always know that I did the right thing. There’s a feeling of what I can only describe as purity, that says it was and is the right choice.