Finding joy in courage

By: Noelina Nakiguli & Life is Good

It’s no secret. Exercising with a health condition is challenging and scary. For those with asthma, chest pain and shortness of breath can trigger fears of an attack. But no matter the condition, you’re not alone.

Our own Marketing Project Manager, Noelina (we call her “NoNo”) developed severe asthma and allergy complications at 10 years old. Born and raised in Uganda, her physicians tried several unsuccessful treatments and weren’t confident she’d be able to fight the symptoms. Eventually, Noelina turned her difficult asthma diagnosis into a chance to push forward by staying positive. Here’s her inspiring story, in her own words.

“For the first time in five years, I felt a glimmer of hope. I was finally meeting a specialist to find a cure for the chronic condition that made life difficult. Breathing was my daily challenge. Several tests later, it was obvious that my lungs were weak and damaged. I was a high-risk patient. The specialist prescribed the highest dosage of the best asthma steroid on the market and revealed the harsh triggers for my condition — exercise, cold weather, and allergens like pollen, dust, and pets. I started the medication for some relief. And alas, it worked, but it became apparent that my life depended on this medication.

It was risky, but I needed to feel like I could move without depending on my inhaler. So, I stopped using it. I wiped my tears and started walking as much as possible. Months later, jogging became my fuel. Some days, I was out of breath before I started. But with each step, my lungs grew stronger and could actually support my somewhat-active lifestyle. It gave me the courage to keep moving.

Nothing came easy. Three years ago, I overhead a co-worker share her plans to run a half-marathon. I wondered if I was capable of running so much. There was only one way to find out, so I signed up and began training. I rediscovered my love for the great outdoors. I started to enjoy trail running in the woods and savoring the morning sunrise. And on race day, I finished in time. I was inspired to dream even bigger. I signed up to run a marathon the following year. And another half-marathon after. This year, I challenged myself to run my own half-marathon every Saturday.

My journey to fitness has been treacherous and long. It’s taught me the value of accepting and exceeding my own limitations. I needed to face my fears in order to imagine the possibilities, set goals, and go.”

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