Responsibility provides access to action and allows us to produce results with freedom and flow. It opens doors to a renewed sense of power and new options in pursuing and proactively moving forward with our goals. This article explores how responsibility as a Way of Being plays a critical role in maintaining health and fitness, particularly when dealing with a disability or challenging medical condition.
If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything
Keeping our health and fitness in good shape is critical if we are to reach our goals and achieve our vision. Yet many of us invest in gym memberships that seldom get used or make New Year's resolutions to lose weight and get fit that fail annually.
Consider what this can be like for someone who has a disability or a challenging medical condition. Some disabilities and conditions make the idea of exercise or heading to the gym a threatening proposition. For instance, there are accessibility limitations to many gyms and exercise equipment as well as the social barrier of wanting to fit in within these environments. Traditional exercise, such as cycling, swimming, jogging and even walking, presents an array of physical and emotional roadblocks. For example, if you are incontinent due to spinal damage, a walk around the block or laps in the pool would be major undertakings. If you are paraplegic, it might take two people to assist and support you when you go for a swim. Regular exercise becomes a team effort. And if you are dealing with chronic pain, it may feel as though any form of exercise is not worth the effort, as experience has taught you that the short-term impact can exacerbate the condition.
A world of solutions
The global market for weight-loss products and services is forecast to grow from $254.9 billion in 2021 to $377.3 billion by 2026. An endless number of solutions are offered, yet it’s evident both anecdotally and in the statistics that these solutions are very limited in their effectiveness. One oft-cited July 2005 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that:
- About 20% of people are successful at maintaining their weight loss over the long-term (at least one year).
- About 80% of people are not successful at keeping their weight off over the long term.
Many people appear to be investing in solutions for their health, but the vast majority are not getting the results they were promised or that they expect. Consider the storm that is brewing with a 20% success rate for those who want to lose weight, together with the social, emotional and physical limitations of disability. The outcome is likely to be resignation and a feeling of powerlessness.
Options, choices and effectiveness
Despite this ominous forecast, we know that anyone – including those with disabilities and challenging medical conditions – can rise above to be effective. Those who decide to rise above recognise their autonomy and choose to be responsible for their outcomes. They use accountability structures like check-in calls with a friend or coach to keep themselves on the hook. If they slip up, they quickly own it and get back on track. They assertively and proactively respond to the daily situations they find themselves in while also maintaining their momentum. Although they may be dealing with a challenging medical condition or disability, they choose not to play the victim. Instead, they choose to be responsible and take ownership of their circumstances, regardless of the source.
People with a healthy relationship with responsibility as a Way of Being are proactive about finding the best trainer with the skills and experience to support someone with their condition. They do the research and discover, for example, that their health fund includes a fully subsidised weight-loss program. They find a dietician and learn about food groups and portions. They keep track of their weight and waist measurements weekly. They make an ongoing commitment to focus on their health and well-being. They forgive themselves for their mistakes and move on, without resentment, to fulfil their goals. In this way, their responsibility, to a large extent, delivers the power to act and move forward with freedom, ease and flow.
The freedom and results that come with being responsible
Two years ago, as I stood on the scales, which read 91kg, my BMI was 28.4, the upper end of the overweight range and nearing obesity. Today I am 79kg and my BMI is 24.7, in the healthy range. The impact of this type of weight loss is significant, especially when you’re dealing with a disability, as I am – in my case, the condition is spina bifida.
Significant improvements in general mobility, ease of use of the bathroom, participation in the community, feeling good about ourselves and being noticed all build confidence, which enables us to take on even greater challenges. We do more of the activities we love and may even try new ones. We get outdoors and enjoy the peace of mind that nature brings. Looking into new mobility solutions opens new possibilities for being active and participating fully in life.
Being responsible for how you relate to your medical condition is a choice you make – a choice that moves you towards your goals with freedom and flow. It is a choice that builds power and integrity and brings fulfilment and joy to life. I know what it is like to feel stuck, resigned to not getting the results you want. This feeling is an indicator of an unhealthy relationship with responsibility. It is possible to powerfully choose your circumstances and ask: what am I not owning in my life right now? Taking responsibility for your health and fitness will allow you to take ownership of your situation and reap the rewards of avoiding excuses, putting in the effort and seeing results.