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.
You get nothing, except for my deep admiration and respect. And bragging rights in the comments, if you feel so inclined :P
They all guessed steel cut oats!
I’ve done pre-made frozen steel cut oats before, but I’ve never made them from home. When my old roommie gave me this beast of a crockpot, I knew that’s what it was destined for.
Before going to bed last night, I mixed one cup steel cut oats with 4 cups water and half cup unflavoured soy protein powder.
The water is a funny colour from the protein powder. I hate the texture of it when I mix it into cooked oats, so I always dissolve it in the water first.
I set it on low, said a little prayer, then went to bed.
I woke up at 6am to the smell of hot carbs. I was a little scared taking the lid off. When I did, I found this:
I was still able to mix up the stuff in the middle and get a hefty bowl’s worth.
It’s about 1 1/2 cups of the cooked oats, with pumpkin pie spice (out of cinnamon!!!), honey and almond milk stirred in. Then topped with dates, coconut and cashew butter.
Despite the crusty mishap, this was delicious!! I love the texture of steel cut oats. So wonderfully chewy :) In terms of nutrition, one serving of steel cut is nearly identical to that of rolled oats. Steel cut is a touch less processed though.
I ended up throwing the rest out.
Thankfully, I sprayed the sides first, so it was easy getting out. Next time, I’ll make a lot more ;)
Despite my lovely breakfast, I was still feeling very blue today. It was raining buckets, and I’ve just been feeling very down these past few days. I won’t go into detail, but my life right now feels very unbalanced (ironic, I know!). I just feel like I’m missing out on the things and people I love. I’ve been internally struggling if it’s all really worth it…
I skipped my morning workout today, because I could feel my body (and mind!) really needed it. I plowed through a loooong day. Including working my second job after my real one. I even copped out on dinner.
A sandwich. It was this or cereal. I thought a fried egg sandwich was at least a little more legit.
Two fried eggs, tomato, lettuce and laughing cow cheese. I felt like a college student all over again.
Even though I was exhausted, and my body felt like it was protesting every move I made, I dragged myself to yoga.
Best idea ever.
You know when people talk about runner’s high? Well, I think I got my yoga high. It’s as if all the stars aligned to give the just the class I needed.
We were a small class tonight, with a passionate instructor. She pushed us juuuuust enough. For the first time ever while doing yoga, I was able to really just let go and feel it. I’m the type of person who’s always looking at the instructor, or in the mirror, worrying if I’m doing it right. But tonight I just let my body go. It was wonderful.
It reminded me to live in the present. Part of my blues recently, have been spurred by my future plans. I’m not happy where I am now, so I keep thinking about what I can do to ensure I’m happy in the future. This is silly. I need to do what makes me happy now. Sure, I may not be in the place I want to be. But I should try to make it the best I can until my circumstances are able to change.
I also think I’m burning out. I’m taking my first vacation since March this weekend. Couldn’t come at a better time!!!
So I urge you all to do something today that makes you enjoy the moment you’re living in. And tell me about it!!
And because I’m extra curious: what’s your favourite kind of oatmeal? Unless you, ahem, hate oatmeal. Then just tell me why ;)
See you for Waffle Wednesday!!!
I’ve got a lot of food photos for today! Some days I don’t bother taking pictures of all my eats, others I’m all over it. Today was the latter, so let’s get to it shall we?
I reeeally wanted to make protein pancakes for breakfast this morning, but my plain cottage cheese had gone bad. I know tasting foods is always the best way to tell – but ew. Sour dairy freaks. me. out.
Anyways, the alternative was pretty stellar regardless – oats in a jar!
It was 1/2 cup oat bran, 2 cups water, 2 tbsp protein powder, cinnamon, raisins and almond butter, of course ;)
Looks disgusting but it’s ooohh sooo good. This is the best way to use up the hard nut butter at the bottom of a jar :)
I had the morning off, which meant time to go to step class! It was a different instructor today, she wasn’t as awesome as the last one. But the class was packed with energetic ladies, which perked me up! The moves are starting to come a little easier now. I noticed it felt like I wasn’t working as hard, so next time I’ll add a riser to my step (now that I’m almost sure I won’t fall of :P )
I was a sweaty mess when I came home. My shirt was soaked through! I stuck it out though so I could have a snack first.
Half of a homemade protein bar and a couple clementines. Or tangerines. Little citrus fruit??
Since I was eating lunch at home today, I skipped the usual bread or pita and went straight for a giant salad.
- romaine lettuce
- yellow pepper
- sundried tomato tuna
- Mediterranean cottage cheese
The awesome thing about putting cottage cheese on salads is that it not only ups the protein but acts as a dressing. Yum!
And since I’m photographing everything today, there’s the usual sweet ending.
I feel like I need something a little sweet to end every meal. So I like having half a square of Lindt chocolate. It’s only 25 calories, so it’s not like I’m breaking the bank. This is the fleur de sel kind. Just enough richness to tame that sweet tooth!
Unfortunately, big salads never hold me over that long. So I was snacky all afternoon.
I had some Mary’s crackers with soy nut butter.
For some reason the soy nut butter tastes awesome with these crackers. This was my first time buying them. They’re alright – really hard and crunchy. I’ve never been much of a cracker person though, so I probably won’t spend the $4.50 on them again.
I haven’t been having the best day mood-wise, so I decided to give the whole “baking therapy” thing a try. I’ve been wanting to make muffins forever, so I went to the queen of healthy muffin recipes – Steph Chows.
I opted for the Cinnamon Roll Muffins based on the ingredients I had on hand. I don’t have any pumpkin though, so I subbed it out with a banana.
I think I may have been a little too aggressive with my “swirling,” a lot of them just came out looking mangled! :P
I of course ignored all cooling rules and had one immediately.
With a little melted earth balance. Do I even have to say it was good? They taste more like cinnamon-y banana muffins.
The baking did help my mood a little too :)
Supper was totally random. Which in my kitchen always = delicious.
A tempeh sweet potato quesadilla and broccoli.
A wonderful combo actually! I pan-fried a cubed tempeh burger and miniature sweet potato in cajun spices then put it on an ezekiel tortilla with mozzarella and bbq sauce. Squeezed in the george foreman and dipped in salsa!
I’m leaving for Windsor on Friday, so I’m trying to go the week without getting food. Should be interesting!
Work this evening was a boring city council meeting, but included the highlight of my day. My dad stopped by!! He’s a lawyer, and in town working on a case. Our schedules don’t really match up over these next couple days, so he popped into the media booth to say hi. I’m a total daddy’s girl, what can I say…
More muffin snackage happened upon my return to the office.
Stuffed with a little PB… times two. This is why I don’t bake!!! I actually froze half the batch. Cheapest frozen muffins I’ve had in a while. Take that VitaExpensive. :P
Now I’m curled up in bed. Anticipating the results of my first slow cooker experiment.
Ooooh…. What could it be?? :P Gonna have to wait till tomorrow! Night night!