Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Inspiration

In life we all have set-backs

Tim Redd
 
By Timothy Redd

“You are an Inspiration!”

How many times has someone told you that? For me, it has been my whole life. How do you feel about it?

First, let me say inspiration porn shakes my soul and I find it offensive. Inspiration porn is when you see a person with disability doing something normal with a quote along the lines of “the only disability is a bad attitude,” or something similar. Let me say as a person with a disability sometimes my attitude is bad, and it has nothing to do with a disability but everything to do with be a human being.  We all have a bad day and I’m no exception.

When people tell me I am brave or courageous I don’t know how to take that. In my mind it’s a matter of sink or swim.  I get up every day and go to work like most people and I do what is needed to take care of myself. That is not being brave or courageous. It’s being an adult.

I mentioned earlier that people are always telling me how I am an inspiration to them, these days when it happens I ask the person “Why?”

I still get the occasional you are brave and courageous, but the majority of the time it’s actually because of something I am doing. Yesterday a random Facebook friend messaged me with those famous four word, “You are an inspiration.” Of course I asked why? 

“I have struggled with my weight,” He said, “and reading your posts and seeing your dedication and conviction really moves me…not only that but your courage and passion to speak on things that you think are wrong.”

I was surprised and talked to him more about weight loss. To be honest I had no idea I was inspiring him to take charge of his weight. He let me know he was changing his eating habits and was asking how did I jumpstart my weight loss.

At the beginning of the year after a physical my doctor informed me that my diabetes were progressing and that I would probably have to take insulin injections four times a day. Seeing for myself how diabetes has robbed people of their vision, relegated people to grueling rounds of dialysis three times week, and caused way too many amputations and more. I knew I did not want any of those things to be my story or more importantly I had to change. I developed some poor eating habits and I felt really crappy for just not taking care of myself.

I started reading about better nutrition and went on a low-carb high-protein diet in January and in February I linked up with a trainer. The first training day I felt like the fat guy who did not belong after seeing folks whose bodies looked like they’d been chiseled from rocks. Pushing past my reservations. I made it through my first workout, by the time I got home I was literally hugging the toilet purging out my lunch.

In my mind I thought “I can’t do this,” but I visualized my goal and with the vision I went the next day and the day after that. Slowly the weight started coming off and my glucose levels started decreasing as well. When I first started on the weight machines 30 lbs. was tough. Today, I can bench press 100 lbs.  I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta, brittle bones and in spite of it I have realized I am strong.

Today August 7, 2017 I have lost 30 pounds, I’m packing on muscle too, and the greatest accomplishment is that I no longer have to take insulin or metformin for my diabetes. While I am happy about my progress, I am not done so the work continues. This has been an amazing and hard journey. I would not trade it for nothing because it made me recognize my own strength.

I can tell you it starts with getting off the couch and pushing yourself and telling yourself that you can. I never set out on this venture to inspire anyone or even wanted to be an inspiration, my goal was to actualize the vision I have for my life and part of that is fitness. I just want to be great. I never want to be an inspiration on the merit of my disability because a disability does not define or stop my life, but if my journey inspires folks; I hope it inspires them to believe in themselves enough to smash their goals and love themselves enough to know that they matter and are absolutely worth it.

When it comes to speaking out about things I think that we all have a voice and when we see things that just are not right we have to speak out and resist. This past spring, I went on an action with ADAPT. For five days we protested and participated in civil disobedience with the demands to save our Medicaid. Being thrown in an activist group made me see the power of resistance and the importance of speaking up and speaking out.

One of my favorite shows is Luke Cage and the recurring mantra of the show is always forward. In life we all have set-backs, but you have to be pulled backwards in order to go forward and that is what inspires me to keep going. If I inspire people to start anew or decide to keep going, I’m perfectly glad to be a source of inspiration.