It has been exactly 138 days since I last set foot in a gym. In other words, 19.7 weeks, or 4.6 months. I know this specifically because I went to the gym the day before I was admitted to hospital with a 14cm mass in my chest. In retrospect, a moderate elliptical workout when there are veins protruding from your neck is NOT a good idea. But going to the gym was just a part of my day. It was a habit I spent a long time establishing and became one that was not easily broken.
I bring this up because I’ve been thinking about the gym a lot lately. When I first got sick, exercise of any kind was the furthest thing from my mind. I was on bed rest in the beginning, so walking wasn’t even an option. By the time I started chemotherapy, the cancer was pushing on my lungs and making me short of breath. The biggest roadblock so far has been the fact that the most active part of the cancer is wrapping itself around my superior vena cava – one of the main veins that brings blood into my heart. I have to be careful when I get my heart rate up and blood pumping because that area is being squeezed.
Even though I was a self-professed fitness fiend (so much so, I even turned it into my work as a personal trainer!), giving up fitness has been strangely easy for me. I still try to move my body every day for the sake of keeping it healthy for treatment. Since getting Buster, I like to save my energy for dog walks lasting 30-90 minutes each day depending on how well I’m feeling. But for the most part, I haven’t spent much of the last 138 days missing my old fitness routines and active lifestyle. It’s actually been a nice break to be lazy for a while!
That is, until recently. Over the past few weeks I find myself daydreaming about how I’m going to learn to run again, what kind of exercises I want to focus on to get my strength back, and even rejoining the gym. The trainer in me is thinking up schedules and plans to get my fitness level back up when this chemo thing is over in two months (so long as I don’t need radiation after). It’s nice to feel that motivation again, and start to feel hope that maybe, maybe, I’ll be healthy enough one day to take on an active lifestyle again.
Apart from the cancer and chemo business, I still have more roadblocks to get through until I can get there. There is of course my broken arm, which surprise, is still broken! I’ve gained a lot more mobility with it over the past few months, particularly with rotating my hand. But I’ll never be able to straighten my left arm fully, and I still can’t put any weight on it. I mentioned before that I took a gentle yoga class a few weeks ago. While I could do most of the movements, I was still very limited with my arm. Sun salutations and downward dogs are officially out of the question for me, most likely forever. Upper-body strength training will always be a challenge.
On top of that, there’s the new development of lung toxicity. The chemo poisoned my lungs and I’m experiencing decreased lung capacity because of it. I’m on Prednisone steroids now which have helped with the coughing and shortness of breath a lot. Before, I couldn’t get off the couch without gasping for air. Now I can at least yawn without breaking into a coughing fit. Next week I will start the two month process of weaning myself off the steroids, so hopefully the symptoms won’t come back. I’m also going to start seeing a respirologist to help “rehabilitate” my lungs. Here’s hoping the damage to my lungs is reversible and that they’ll be able to withstand running again someday!
I know full well that I won’t be back to my “old fighting form” as soon as all of this is over. I have learned too much throughout this experience that I don’t desire the same sort of vanity fitness goals I had before. The trainer in me is instead considering my roadblocks and thinking of ways to work around them to still have a healthy, happy, post-cancer, post-injury body.
Like any endorphin-junkie, I can’t wait to work up a sweat again. But until then, I know to keep up my daily walking routine, while enjoying this rare opportunity to be lazy. This past weekend that included lots of Beverly Hills 90210:
Chemo brain food.
As well as near-effortless meals made in the slow cooker and rice cooker:
Crockpot Chicken Coconut Curry:
Cube and brown 4-6 chicken breasts in a pan.
Cube 2-4 medium sized potatoes, slice 2 small onions, and add them to the slow cooker.
In a bowl, combine:
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 tbsp curry power
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp Kashmir chili powder (or cayenne)
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
Add chicken and sauce to the slow cooker, cooking on low for 9-10 hours, or medium for 6. This is not a super spicy curry, despite all the curry powder (which isn’t very spicy to begin with). Just enough heat to make your nose run a little, but all the flavours are able to shine through.
The rice was an extra special treat. I finally cracked open the saffron I brought back from Toronto!
I’ve been hoarding this and knew it would lose its flavour if I didn’t use it soon. This little box cost $10!
I used this recipe with the addition of 1 tsp parsley flakes and 1 tbsp salted butter instead of fish sauce. It was perfect in every way.
Now, I will admit that it is sometimes really hard to sit back and watch people around me do the activities I love. I’d be lying to say I don’t feel a pang of jealousy when I see a runner out on a gorgeous day, or hearing about the fitness goals and accomplishments of others. Seeing as I can’t currently do most things fitness related, my interest in it has kind of plummeted.
But I keep reminding myself that this is my time to heal. I am currently doing what is best for my body, which is completely different than what is best for someone who is in a different stage of their life. Fitness is not a linear path. It’s all about the ups and downs and dealing with the roadblocks as they come. I am trying really hard to enjoy my lazy days with 90210, the slow cooker, and casual walks, while using my daydreams of fitness routines at the gym as something to look forward to and work towards.
Ch-ch-check out the sweet headband I got from Matt at No Meat Athlete. Thanks Matt! You’ve just helped me plump up my future personal trainer wardrobe ;)
Okay, honestly, I had no idea how to start this post, but at least I now have your attention :)
Totally loved hearing all the personal items y’all need with you at work. Hand cream and chapstick were definitely the most popular, with pictures and post-its slightly behind. Although Emily has rubber bands in the shape of zoo animals and Janetha suggested a day-by-day calendar. I was actually quite entertained by the responses!!
In other news, I was up at 5:30 am for spin class today. It was stellar as per usual. I’m actually starting to get to know some of the faces in the class. Not to mention, I feel hardcore in the bike jersey Chris got me for Christmas.
Came back home after to shower and celebrate Waffle Wednesday.
Work eats look disgusting, but I promise they were fantastic.
Morning snack was yogurt mixed with vanilla protein powder and strawberries. For lunch I had leftovers a la Leah! I have a fridge next to my office, and I’ve been eating in a cafeteria with a microwave. It feels like such a luxury to have a hot lunch! (how sad is that?). Anyways, it was Indian Cauliflower Stew with added shrimp. Afternoon snack attack was two carrot cake protein squares and a cheese string.
Nothing exciting to report from work. I ran into an old colleague at the drug store after, and he was asking me all about switching from journalism to communications. Or as reporters call it – “going to the dark side.” PR work is a whole different ball game. Totally different than journalism work. I feel like I have so much to re-learn (and forget!).
I bought a can of baked beans a while back after seeing them on Caitlin’s blog so frequently. I suddenly had a hankering for them and eggs for dinner.
Breakfast supper of champions.
With an egg scramble. Various veggies from the fridge with cottage cheese and laughing cow cheese. What really made it was the green olives I added. Green olives and eggs are such a fantastic flavour duo!
My three addictions wrapped into one. Date + PB + M&Ms. Times two.
So a while back, I was a recipient of a Beautiful Blogger Award by Averie – a beautiful blogger herself ;) It’s about time I display it proudly!!
- I don’t like wine. I’ve tried, numerous times. But I just never developed the palette for it.
- Babies scare me. They’re cute to look at, but please don’t ask me to hold or interact with one.
- I refuse to have the colour pink anywhere on my road bike.
- A childhood friend died downhill skiing when I was 10 years old. I’ve since developed a fear of ski hills and have only ever done cross-country.
- I only own two exercise bras. Instead of doing laundry every day, I often hand wash them in my sink between washes.
- The Beatles are my favourite band of all time. You will be “shushed” if one of their songs comes on the radio.
- I’m still wearing that headband. It’s keeping my forehead warm!
I must pass this on to seven other bloggers. In order to keep this fair, I randomly picked seven people who commented on my last post. Kinda like a giveaway, except it’s a jpeg and not something you can eat ;)
Wow, random.org is pretty smart. All totally deserving and beautiful bloggers in my opinion!!
Speaking of smart websites, I urge you to go check out www.cleverbot.com. Ask it something, although the responses aren’t always that clever..
Okee, bedtime! See ya tomorrow!
Happy Tuesday all! I apologize if I’m a little “off” this week. Trying to get settled into the new job,and spending my spare time “catching” up on some things. Also, I’m frantically trying to get through my personal training textbook before my classes in Moncton next week (okay, how exciting will those be!? Can’t wait to share it with you!)
Anyways, tangents aside, I did indeed get up at 5am today to hit the gym before work. I swear it’s not that hard to do. Maybe it’s because I’m not very good at falling back asleep. Once I’m awake, I’m usually anxious to get my day started!
My first week of scheduled workouts is already all wonky from taking the day off yesterday. I’ll still get them in, just on different days. So that means I went for 40 minutes running, shoulders, and abs today.
First, the treadmill. I don’t feel like typing it out, but I started with 5 minutes walking. Then I did the following sequence:
5.6 mph, 5.7 mph, 5.8 mph
5.7 mph, 5.8 mph, 5.9 mph
5.8 mph, 5.9 mph, 6.0 mph
…until I got to 7.0 mph, which took 40 minutes :)
Weights/abs were alternated again:
I tore through the last part, finishing in 65 minutes. I wanted time to go back home to shower and make a nice breakfast :)
Custard oats topped with cashew butter and molasses. I am obsessed with custard oats. My protein powder oatmeal just isn’t the same anymore in comparison. Oatmeal lovers – I encourage you to give it a try! The creamy texture is out. of. this. world. All I do is whisk in an egg with the oats and water before I bring it to a boil. Then I reduce it to med-low and simmer for 15 min to make sure it’s all cooked in.
I’m the desk on the right, office-mate is on the left. Office-mate is a sweetheart, and a very similar worker as me. Both of us are pretty quiet, but like to stretch and take chit chat breaks occasionally. I’m not a huge fan of people who blab my ear off while I’m trying to get work done.
The boxes you see are full of university apparel. Apparently we’re also a “sweatshirt shop.”
I don’t mind actually, makes it feel more school-like :)
And a window!! My old newsroom didn’t have a window.
Those flowers are already starting to wilt in my presence…
My desk! My very own desk :D
Classes don’t start until next Monday, so it’s eerily quiet in the building. I’m on a floor with classrooms, so it should get lively shortly! It is so SO weird being back at my university as a staff member and not a student. SO weird!!! I totally flipped when I got my parking pass today…
It doesn’t say “student!” Plus, staff parking spots are in all the prime locations ;)
It’s definitely neat learning all the “behind the scenes” stuff of my university. Even more, having a hand in what goes on there. I feel like such a proud alumna :D
Got all my assignments done for the day just in time to come home starving and impatient for a meal.
I didn’t even feel like cooking a chicken breast, so I threw a can of tuna in with some Indian Cauliflower Stew. Tuna was definitely not the right meat for these flavours. But whatever, it was hot, edible and healthy.
I’m already exhausted, don’t think I’ll make it through the Biggest Loser tonight! Got a 6am spin class on the sked for the morning. See ya tomorrow!
Question of the Day: What is one personal item you must have in your office/workplace? Anything you think my desk could use? I need to have hand cream and chapstick within an arm’s reach at all times! At Starbucks I kept them in my apron pockets ;)