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  • Writer's pictureDrew Dotson

Take that, Labor Day

I spent many Labor Days in the hospital in my early 20s. As the seasons began to change, my lungs would get angry, leading to a cystic fibrosis exacerbation. It was Me vs. Ragweed, and I often tapped out first. Although it makes me a wee-bit nervous to say it, this is the best I’ve felt on Labor Day weekend in a VERY long time. The groundbreaking medication, Trikafta, gets a lot of credit for my improved health, but another thank you is in order.

I want to send my heartfelt gratitude to fitness guru Sydney Cummings Houdyshell, whose 90-day workout program I completed a few days ago.

When I started at the end of May, I envisioned a dramatic transformation in the before and after photos—undeniable proof that I’d pushed my body in new ways. Instead, the most perceptible change was that I’d gotten a haircut (and a pretty bad one, at that). But guess what? I don’t care because I’m in a much better place.

At the beginning of the program, Sydney asked us to write a letter to ourselves about why we were embarking on this journey. For some reason I couldn’t bring myself to write one. I feared I’d let myself down or my body would revolt. In the past, I’ve had to abandon workout programs when I got sick. Then I’d lose the progress I’d made, and the process would repeat itself. It was pretty darn discouraging.

But this time I made it!

Despite no obvious physical changes (except that dumb haircut), I feel way more confident than I did the day I chose not to write the letter. I’ve had a significant decrease in musculoskeletal pain, a common plight among people with CF.

Most notably, though, I feel a sense of agency I’ve always struggled to find given the unpredictability of chronic illness.

As body positivity became more prevalent over the past decade, so did my bitterness. “Focus on the amazing things your body can do” is hard to stomach when your genes are “wrong.” It pained me that I couldn’t appreciate my body at its most basic, functional level. However, the past 3 months reminded me how empowering it is to know you showed up for yourself —whatever that looks like for you.

I challenged my body and, more importantly, my mindset. And I’m better off for it!

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