The Journey BeginsOn November 8, 2012, my journey began when I received a call from my doctor that I had breast cancer. Since then, I have had three surgeries and one procedure to complete the process of removing the cancer and being put "back together." Today, I am proud to say I am a cancer survivor.
Sink or SwimAs my blog description says, there comes a point when you have to make a choice: do you raise the white flag and sink or do you accept the path chosen for you and swim...I have chosen to swim. With my faith in God and the love and support of my family and friends, I have been able to do just that.
Bitten by the Fitness BugBefore I had breast cancer, I loved working out. I was bitten by the fitness bug shortly after my youngest son turned three. For many years after that, I was a self-proclaimed "gym rat" and was there religiously six days a week; on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I was at the gym by 5:00 am to lift weights and I did cardio kickboxing on Tuesday/Thursday evenings and on Saturday mornings! When I got laid off and couldn't justify the expense of a gym membership when the renewal came up, a friend let me borrow his P90X program and I did that for about two years. A couple months before I was diagnosed, I started running. I was a fair weather runner, however, and I didn't run far and was never very fast but I ran just because. And then breast cancer struck and that changed everything.
Starting OverShortly before my last surgery in September 2013, my husband and I joined the gym again. I only went a handful of times because I was so frustrated that with all the changes my body went through, I couldn't do things like I used to. Everyone said I had to give myself some credit and give it time because I was essentially starting over but I felt defeated. So rather than working at it, I chose to do nothing, making excuses I was too tired, too this, or too that to work out...that attitude only made things worse because not only did my mental state suffer, so did my weight.
The holidays came and went and 2014 was here. "A new year, a new beginning," I thought. I knew I WANTED to start working out again, I just didn't know where to begin. I will never forget the one morning my husband and I were talking about something and he asked "whatever happened to the girl I knew who bounced out of bed as soon as the alarm went off." "Yeah, what happened to her?" I thought. Now, it took everything I had to get up just to go to work and on the weekends, there were times I wouldn't get out of bed until 10:00 or 11:00 am. That morning I went to put on a pair of my favorite jeans and I could no longer wear them. I couldn't even pull them up all the way. Something had to change!
Spirit RenewedA good friend of mine from high school started a "juicing/smoothie" diet and was losing weight like crazy. She was posting recipes and pictures of her creations on Facebook, not to mention posting how good she was feeling. I was inspired so I thought I'd give it a try. Since I wasn't a big breakfast eater, I started making smoothies every morning. Just by starting to eat better, I started to feel better. Now I needed to start working out again. Rather than going to back to my former workouts, I decided to do something new, something where I couldn't "compare" the old me to the new me. I downloaded some Jillian Michael's videos and tried them. At first, I was frustrated because even the easiest of moves were difficult. But after only a few short weeks, I began to see improvements; at first I could barely do four push ups and but now I could do eight...and then twelve... Talk about a mental boost!
In March, I decided to try one of the evening kickboxing classes at the gym. It was a little rough at first because my mind wanted to do the moves just as intense as I did before cancer but I quickly had to learn to listen to my body because it wasn't on the same page as my brain apparently. Once I accepted the fact that it was ok to take it slow and modify when I needed to, I slowly started getting my confidence back. In only a week or two of taking classes three times a week (picking up the Saturday morning classes), I started to feel like my old self again. When my dear friend and sister in pink died of triple negative breast cancer in January, I vowed to run the annual Race for the Place 5k in June in her memory. It was already March and June would be here before I knew it so on the first nice (nice enough for me, that is) day, I went for a run. I surprised myself by being able to run two miles without stopping. Not too bad for a first time out. I really believe taking the classes increased my endurance which allowed me to go that far.
In April, I joined a group of ladies who, for the month of April, wanted to challenge each other and help make each other accountable for how we ate, what we did to exercise, etc. It was just the kick in the butt I needed! Not only was I taking the classes at the gym, I started getting up at 6:00 am to do a workout video (alternating between the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred or Yoga Meltdown and T-25) as well and started paying more attention to what I ate. When I went out for my second run, I beat my own record of running 3.84 miles without stopping, something my pre-cancer body NEVER accomplished. Victory! A couple weeks after that, I beat that record by running 4.1 miles! Not only that, but my clothes started feeling looser and I could put those favorite jeans on and actually button them! What a difference a month makes.
The Journey ContinuesThe challenge group was only meant to be 30 days long, so as it came time for it to end, it left me thinking about ways to keep the motivation going. Since I have been bitten by the fitness bug once again, I've been doing a lot of reading about various diets, exercise, foods that are good for you, etc. and I always thought it would be interesting to be a personal trainer. That's not really an option for me right now at this point in my life, however. After talking to my husband about my situation, he suggested I start a blog. So here I am. I am not an expert nor do I have all the answers, I just have an interest in health and fitness. As opinions vary greatly over what works and what doesn't, I don't have one either way and as I post various topics, I would welcome your thoughts and opinions.
For me, the threat of cancer will never be over and there is always a chance for recurrence, but rather than live in fear of the "what ifs," I have chosen to embrace life, live it to the fullest, and cherish the moments God has blessed me with. Since God has given me a second chance, I am going to make the best of the body He gave me in what ever time left He grants me.
***2015 Update...***A lot has happened since I started this blog. After I ran my first 5K in June of 2014, I was bitten by the running bug and I have been running races ever since! The blog has gone from being a place I had hoped to talk about health-related issues to more of a personal journal of my life experiences. I hope you enjoy my stories and perhaps in some way, they will help you just keep swimming, too.
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."