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Baby steps

Life is a balancing act

Damn. I’m possibly, living proof of the power of endorphins, the healing power of positiveness due to exercise, and the power of a positive mindset. Just a week ago, I was still feeling a little depressed and sorry for myself. I thought, who cares about 2016. I’m miserable, fun has to stop.

Then something changed. That something, could be labeled as “Taking Control of My Situation”. I started to Ex-er-cise. That’s right. The first thing I did last Monday was head to the pilates studio where I worked and spent half an hour doing basic pilates. It nearly wiped me out, which meant, I was feeling a little down. I mean, pilates was my thang! A few hours after that, I had my first chemo session, which if you recall, I wasn’t expecting and felt a little blue about.

Although I can’t recall the exact days and activities, but over the course of the last week, while I didn’t manage to head to the gym again, I went on a few hour long walks with The Rock, and also did some pilates at home on my MOTR. The MOTR is a nifty pilates equipment that I bought a couple of months ago, mainly for my workouts at home. I’d never used it, because then Cancer came a knocking and I just wasn’t interested. Using the MOTR I’m able to do pilates exercises that I normally do on the reformer, but all the while lying on the roller which challenges balance, and also works the core. I only did one workout on that, and it’s relatively light resistance, but it suits my situation now. Oh, I also did some jump rope.

You know how you see boxers jump rope for an hour, doing these nimble jumps and some cool tricks using their rope, all the while with a healthy sheen of sweat on their bodies. And they look like they could do it all day? Yeah, well, that ain’t me. In the past, I’ve always had my jump rope with me tucked in my workout bag. I used to do interval training using the jump rope, and it’s a friggin hard workout. Plus, taking into account the pelvic floor, you need to be close to the loo, if you catch my drift. But, back to how hard it is.

If nothing else, it’s the damn coordination. I mean, skipping like an little 8 year old, is easy. You lift your knees up, and it’s a slow pace, you’re able to sing a song while you do it. And you can keep it up for a while. But, trying to do those quick nimble boxer skips is different. It takes a while to actually get the coordination right, and to not stumble on the rope and basically, to try to keep jumping for longer than 10 seconds. Plus, your arms get Super tired. And your heart is going insane. So. What was I doing again?

Oh yes, so, I had a plan. I set my GymBoss app timer, to do 10 seconds of all out Rocky style skipping, then 60 seconds of light, easy skipping. And to do 10 rounds of that. Sounds easy right? Like hell it is. There was a lot of swearing as I kept stumbling and tripping up over the rope which meant I had to stop, regroup and start again. But secretly I was relieved. Because it meant that I. Could. Stop. After the first round I realised my 60 seconds of “easy light skipping” – which was supposed to be a chance to recover inbetween my 10 seconds of hard core speed skipping – was unachievable. Instead, I spent 30 seconds of that time just walking around gripping my sides and my heart, snorting like a Derby race horse. Frothing at the mouth. And then, a very light school girl type of skipping. Until my beep on my timer went and for 10 seconds I went all out again. I did this for 10 rounds. Which, if you’re doing the math, is a total of 11 minutes and 40 seconds. That, is what they call, high speed interval sprinting. And, it’s very hard. This type of workout is more effective in the short time frame than a 30 minute steady state run.

NB I feel I need to say something about my fitness level prior to the Big C. I could jump rope for longer than this, I mean, the coordination was better, but it was still an incredibly hard workout ok? The more you jump, the better you get at actually jumping without having to stop every time you snag the rope on your feet, and then, you can keep it up and get fitter etc. 

So, in one week, I had done some pilates, some jump rope, some walks, and some pilates at home on my MOTR. Then today, I hit the gym. And that’s where the magic happened. I had a Programme, which was to last an hour and I shan’t bore you with the details, but it was a full body workout, using weights, and doing dead lifts, squats, rows, lats etc. My legs were shaking, my arse was screaming, but my upper body wasn’t worked as hard. Mainly because I was just being cautious. I felt quite weak still, and that’s going to change as I get stronger. But my point is this.

I was working out. Hard. My heart rate was elevated, and my body felt pushed. When I walked out the gym, I felt like I was floating out of there. Because I felt on cloud 9. I finally felt, fuck* you cancer. You had a hold on me for nearly 2 months. Well Guess what. I’m in control now. Sure, I have chemo tomorrow, and every week for the next 10 weeks, but screw you. You’re not taking Me away from me. I don’t care that I have cancer, because, I do. I have it (or had it, depends on your point of view. I had it, then I took it out, and after all my chemo the point is that the cancer isn’t going to be there anymore). And that’s not going to change. I may care one day again, when I’m feeling down and miserable – which, I know being human it’s going happen. But, for now, I’m doing stuff that’s normal to me, and I’m not lying in bed crying or wanting to slit my wrists or feeling sorry for myself. I’m fortunate enough that my chemo treatment is the “mild kind”, so the symptoms aren’t going to be too severe. But, for now, things are looking up.

I’m also wondering if I’m going to workout with a hat or scarf, or just brave it and do it poky haired and all. Part of me wants to do that. Initially, my vanity got the better of me, and I didn’t want to see anyone whilst looking weird, and didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. But now, I’m thinking, maybe I should walk in loud and proud. Not quite high fiving people in the studio or gym going “hey buddy, I’ve got cancer! Boo-ya!”. But, silently going, “yeah, see this weird shaped head with the straggly hairs sticking out? I earned that. It’s my stripes. And I’m not going to wear a scarf or hat to make you feel better. Because it’s too hot buddy.”

I don’t know, maybe people will talk. Maybe in hushed tones they’ll go “see that woman frothing at the mouth there? No, she doesn’t have rabies, she has cancer”. And maybe then they’ll mention it to others, and it may eventually get to other people who have cancer and they may go….. Maybe … Just maybe….

Maybe they too will feel that they can do something about it. It doesn’t have to be hardcore, or “right” by whatever standards people set. No one is going to judge and if they do sod ’em. But, by moving, getting stronger, and taking control, this may mean that they too are saying, fuck you cancer.

Here’s hoping.

* I’m not apologising for my language ok? I realise my parents and in-laws are reading this, and I don’t ever swear to their face, but when I write, if I feel a naughty word works, then it’s going in. 

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