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November 18, 2013
(image source) Hey guys! Long time no talk, hey? Feels like it’s been a while since I blogged and I wanted to touch base and say hi today as the week begins!
As I wrote towards the end of last week, my weekend was filled up with lots of learning as I was in an Exercise & Cancer course at the University of Calgary Friday night and Saturday and Sunday from 9 am – 5 pm. Hence the reason I was not very present on social media (which was nice, actually!) as I was in a classroom setting with other fitness professionals and researchers. I learned a lot through the different sessions, including detailed information about the effects of chemo, radiation and surgery treatments on the body, the side effects and late-effects post-treatment, different medications and heard from people from all kinds of disciplines. Although much of the information was quite detailed, I wanted to share my top takeaways from the course that I am very grateful to have taken that apply to everyone, cancer survivor or not!
1.) Do what you can. In other words, it’s important to think about all that you CAN do during treatments, even if it doesn’t seem like much. I know many stories of people who, because of intense fatigue, could only get up to go to the bathroom, and even that was a struggle. Daily life tasks become extremely difficult, and the recommendation of 10,000 steps daily or the 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week is absolutely inconceivable. BUT…can you walk around your kitchen table once today? Great. Can you walk your son to the bus stop and make it home okay? Awesome. Do you have the strength for a weight circuit but at low intensity? Go for it! Do.what.you.can, and the little bits of movement truly add up and will make your recovery better and your energy levels higher.
2.) Move more. This ties in to the first point, but just reiterating the value of movement. Don’t worry yourself with “exercise” or even “physical activity.” Instead, think about ways you can simply move more in your daily life. This, along with “eat real food,” has always been my fitness mantra. Move.more.
3.) Listen to your body. I think one of the hardest things I went through with Mikey during our cancer experience was the loss of life before cancer. There is a real loss of what used to be compared to now what is, and, as it was for us, it can be very hard to not compare your “new normal” to who you used to be or what you used to be able to do. We all do this, and I think women especially compare (my biggest struggle? Comparing to the body I used to have, the way my muscles or stomach used to look, even though I am still active and fit and healthy now). But many people’s bodies drastically change, their energy levels plummet and life looks very different than it did pre-diagnosis. So respect your energy that day, listen to you body and only do what you can handle. Some days that will be more and others that will be less, and that’s okay.
4.) Trust the research. Without a doubt, 100% of the time, the research shows that exercise helps. Bottom line. In fact, as compared to many drugs it’s proven to help as much and sometimes more than the drugs. It IS a magic pill! It can be scary to trust your body again post-treatment and the fears and worries that weren’t there before now are, or are multiplied. But trust the research. Even 5 minutes a day of mild to moderate movement is proven to give you a physical and psychological boost! Many people can lose as much bone density in their treatments as a person does in 10 years of life! Yet another reason to strength train, starting with body weight and progressing to light weight and then adding pounds on. So, after talking with your health care team for clearance first, trust the research and take that first step to move more.
Of course it’s different as you move through a new phase of life with hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, treatments, a change in work and pace of life, etc, but moving while on treatment and the benefits it has for everyone also apply to the general public. Sometimes we feel (or are shown in the media) that exercise needs to be intense, like P90X or Insanity or CrossFit. Those modalities are all fine and great for many people, but the pressure to move need not be there – you don’t have to be extreme! It’s whatever you can do, that day, simply focusing on more movement and trusting that the little increases are not only good for you but contributing to a better quality of life. And that’s what it’s about, right?
Ultimately, exercise should enhance our quality of life, not make us more stiff or leave us wiped out with less energy to enjoy the rest of our daily life activities. So whether you are on treatment or off, struggling with managing a busy household or staff at the office or are coming off an injury, remember those tips above and implement them on some level into your life.
Do any of those thoughts resonate with you? Tell me a highlight of your weekend!
Thanks for letting me share my journey with you! Loving all I’m learning and seeing how applicable it is across disciplines and yet specific to people dealing with an illness specific to how their body is dealing with it. I’ll be back later this week with more life updates and a workout on the blog! Have a great week, friends! Live well & be well (and go move more!),
November 14, 2013
Because I like to climb, ski, spend time outdoors and spend my anniversary sleeping in the snow in a tent in our separate sleeping bags with my husband each year, people often assume that I am “extreme.” Okay, well, I admit that last one is a bit extreme… We’ve spent some celebratory years being cold outside together! But the rest of those activities are inherently safe with more a perceived risk than an actual risk.
When it comes to the day to day, I’m pretty run o’ the mill. What I mean is, I stay pretty regular and daily with my fitness and eating rather than bounce from one extreme to the other. Sure, I have days where I eat too many sweets, but other than that, I never cut out whole food groups and the most “extreme,” structured eating plan I’ve done is the Holiday Hustle (which was quite balanced and more or less just kept me in check).
When it comes to working out, I realized after leaving a comment on Heather‘s post about her upcoming first bikini compeition (which she has ROCKED – her prep has been so solid and consistent and NOT extreme! Love that!) that I don’t do anything too crazy in the sports realm. My training is near-daily and doesn’t require long hours or double days, but she had an interesting comment on her post that got me thinking:
A “relaxed style of fitness.” That’s definitely me! And that’s how I like it. I like to stay consistent, not stress about my workouts, not worry about what I’m doing the next day, I just know I will move in a way that challenges me somehow. I like to listen to my body but I also like to push it and move past the limits of what I think I can do. Although I know that structure can be good, I don’t need the push on the gym floor (for me that struggle is in the kitchen!) and know that I feel better if I move.
What I love about living well is that there is no right or wrong to it. There’s no need to go hard at every workout or to be a marathoner or to lift heavy. If you eat Paleo, great! If you enjoy your grains, that’s okay too! You can be vegan or a metatarian and still live well. Extremes do work for some people but not for me. It’s good to acknowledge who you are, how you function best and live in that realm of fitness and food!
(image source: EXTREME terrestrial!)
As a personal trainer, I was taught to teach people goals. How to set them, how to achieve them, how to help other people set them and focus on them. However, I’m not much of a goal-setter personally; I’m more concerned with looking at behavioral change and why (or why not) myself and my clients are able to hit their goals and how consistent their healthy lifestyle is becoming.
Are you structured? Are you extreme? Are you day-to-day, like me? I’d love to know why you are how you are and how you use that to your advantage! No wrong answer here, unless you’re struggling and you need to make some changes to help adjust your habits.
That being said, you don’t have to be extreme to do this workout! This one is in a gym setting (jump rope and cables or weights needed), so the next time you’re wandering around, unsure of what to do, give this one a shot:
I know this post is a bit rambly, but I hope it makes sense and encourages you to be who you are – “extreme” or not. And with that, I wish you a very happy Friday! I am training all morning and then heading to an evening of an Exercise and Cancer course through the University of Calgary. I can’t wait! It will be a busy, full weekend though – Friday night, Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm with lots of learning and social activities after class. I know I will have tons to share with you later!
Have a great weekend, friends. Live well & be well!
(summer shot from Loon Lake; backwards hats are SO EXTREME!)
October 27, 2013
It occurred to me on Friday, October 25th, that Christmas is just 2 months away. WOW. That means that Halloween is just around the corner and right on it’s tails are (American) Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. And you know what that means: drinks, treats and missed workouts. Of course, it doesn’t have to mean this, but it often means indulging in festive foods and foregoing workouts here and there. I’m here today to be that voice that reminds you not to throw it all away in the next few months.
You might be one of those people who sticks to their workout plan and says no to all alcoholic drinks and sugar-laden treats, and if so, GOOD FOR YOU! Truly! …and this post might not be for you. But for those of us who either indulge more over these next few months or use it as an excuse to go way overboard, I’m speaking to you. As you know, I’ve been off all processed sugars and foods, including alcohol and coffee, for the past 22 days or so. I’m excited for once my Holiday Hustle officially ends and I’m “allowed” to have some extra goodies, but I certainly don’t want to undo the good I’ve done my body – both inside and out – over the past month! I’ve been deliberate with everything I’ve put in my mouth, been mindful about what I’ve chosen to eat and not eat and am ready to reintroduce some “fun foods” despite knowing how good my body feels without them right now. In other words, I WILL have some candy corn on Halloween,
some frozen yogurt once or twice
and a glass of wine to celebrate my cousin’s wedding in December! However, if you’ve been consistent with your workouts and eating mindfully, you don’t want to lose it all by “letting it go” and reassuring yourself that you’ll “start in January.” Sure, it may only be a few pounds, but I want to remind you of a few truths BEFORE Halloween and the onslaught of leftover candy, baked goods and spiced ciders start to hit you home:
- You can’t out-train a bad diet, period. Don’t believe me? Check out this video and be hit with the truth of how EASY it is to eat more than you burn off. We tend to overestimate how much we burn and underestimate how much we’re ingesting.
- Whatever you choose to do, remember that you are choosing to form habits. It may only be for 2 months before you get “back on track,” but either way you are creating habits during those 2 months of either being mindful about your choices or not thinking about them. You’re either choosing sleep or lazy days over squeezing movement in the midst of family- and fun-filled days or choosing to say yes to “one more drink” or another cookie rather than choosing moderation. What habits do you want to come out with 2 months later?
- Be 100% behind every decision you make. Don’t feel pressured to try your aunt’s cake or have another beer if you really don’t want it. If you’re going to have a piece of pumpkin pie, enjoy it! Let it hit your lips and savor every bite, and when you don’t want it anymore or you’ve ceased to enjoy the rest of it, let it go and be done. If you feel like working out or going for a fall run, get out and do it and enjoy the movement! If we focus on enjoying our food and not feeling guilty afterwards, we’re more likely to not overindulge.
- More mindfulness when it comes to situational eating by a woman who seems to have mastered the balance of enjoying life (and food!) while being so in control and aware of what she puts into her body, Jill Coleman.
These articles are great reminders for me as I prepare to go away to Boston on Tuesday (wahoo! Will post the whys and whats while we’re there!) and a.) won’t be weighing myself, b.) will be finishing my Holiday Hustle plan while there and c.) will for sure find myself in different situations where I could have a glass of wine or eat some chowder “just because I’m in Boston.” Great reminders on the eve of a trip.
I leave you with a shot from snowy Calgary today – I think winter’s finally here!
Grateful for a beautiful, warm fall (and a perfect fall solo run Friday evening) and maybe, just maybe, ready for a bit of skiing. Live well & be well, friends!