As a young adult, I had just completed my Masters’ degree and begun an exciting career in the mental health field, only to be completely debilitated by the onset of an autoimmune disease. Despite numerous different treatments, surgeries, infusions, and medications the best hospitals and specialists could provide, I remained housebound and bed-ridden for eight years.

So weak and sick most days, it was an accomplishment for me to simply get a shower and into fresh clothes by 3 p.m. Other activities of daily living, such as cooking, cleaning, or shopping were near impossible. Thankfully, I was blessed to have met my now husband who selflessly and so lovingly stood by me all of those years. He would visit after work and stay over on the weekends.

There were several close calls; twice my heart stopped and I was resuscitated with paddles. Although the prognosis was grim that I would ever recover, I never gave up hope. I would try a new treatment and it would fail and I would take a break and then try another. Eventually it paid off. In 2009, I started a medication and combined with an electronic medical device implanted in me, I slowly began my recovery back to health. It was an arduous process. Not only did I have to rebuild my strength and health, I had to catch up on all facets of life to include family, social, and career. Basically I had to build a new life from scratch and I used fitness as a avenue and metaphor to do so.

Starting slow, I joined “Silver Sneakers” (yes this is the Medicare fitness program for 65 and older). These ladies kicked my butt. As weak as I was, I started with a “pretend” step, the yoga mat!!! And then later progressed to the step and eventually added two risers. I remember that day. I felt so proud. From that point on, I continued to build not only my strength but also more importantly my confidence. This confidence became the very foundation and the source of strength that motivated me to rebuild my life entirely as it is today.

Recognizing that I was now fit for more intense group fitness classes, I joined Life Time for awhile and now I train at 24 Hour Fitness. I combined classes several times a weak with strength training and proper nutrition guidance from Max Muscle Nutrition in Parker, CO, which further improved my health greatly. Every time I stepped up my diet/fitness/supplement regime from Max Muscle Parker, my disease went into even further remission. Every day I was finding myself able to do more and more. The biggest pay off was returning to work as a Psychotherapist. This was a day I thought I would never see, given the fact that I signed a DNR and my family was aware of my wishes.

Today, I look at fitness as a metaphor for life.

How I approach my health mirrors how I approach all other areas of my life, including my relationships and my career. To be able to come to the gym and challenge myself in so many ways is simply a PRIVILEGE today. You would never guess that I was once debilitated, housebound, or used a wheel chair at times, but I did.

My health is not perfect today. Some days I don’t feel well, I have weekly medical appointments/treatment, and just the stress of managing it all. When people ask how do I fit fitness in my life, I say “How can I afford not to?” Surrounding myself with positive people, staying active, and adhering to my nutrition coach’s healthy diet is my best and first line of defense against my autoimmune disease. No life is perfect. We all have struggles and adversity, but I think the key is to adapt and modify and do what your body will allow. It is a matter of mind first over muscle essentially changing yourself from the inside out.

As one of my fitness buddies once said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, then it doesn’t change you.”

One of the most memorable occasions was when one of my instructors cut up my handicap parking pass in tiny pieces on stage. I hope to channel all of my gratitude, positive energy, and valuable life lessons taken from those difficult years and motivate and inspire others to face challenges with fitness and nutrition guidance from the professionals at Max Muscle Nutrition.

People of all fitness levels can succeed even if it means using a “pretend” step for those just starting. Group Fitness is about teamwork, togetherness, positive energy, a willing spirit, and a strong mind, which metaphorically speaking, is the body’s most powerful muscle.

I think it is good to share these facts because we all face adversity of different kinds, but the important point to remember is not where you are starting, but where you are headed that matters. We can use fitness as a tool to conquer adversity. And with the help of my nutrition coach Chris McKinney at Max Muscle in Parker, CO, I was able to do just that!

By Meghan Gordon, Max Muscle customer