This year forced me to reflect on my workouts. A year ago today, March 29, 2019, I received a phone call that made me pause. I had cancer. How? I was 36 years old and in the best shape of my life. I was numb. I wasn’t prepared to process this news. The next day, I went to the studio - my home away from home, my safe place - and had a great workout. Working out has always been an outlet for me. A veteran personal trainer and fitness studio owner...none of it made sense.
Since my diagnosis of rectal cancer, I underwent two major surgeries and had three hospital stays. I had some very serious health issues that continue to affect my everyday life. I had a colorectal resection and an ileostomy reversal a short time later. I completely underestimated the effect this would have on my health. In my mind, I was still a strong personal trainer. In reality, my strength and stamina were much weaker. My body completely changed. There were times I struggled. There were times I struggled to walk to the end of the driveway, let alone the end of the block not even a quarter mile away. I couldn’t strain too much, so lifting weights was completely out of the question. I was rapidly losing muscle mass and it was obvious to everyone around me.
The easiest thing at this point would be to give up and stop working out because walking to the end of the block was not the intensity I was used to. However, this situation changed my perspective on fitness even more.
Throughout my recovery, I continued training clients. On good days, I was able to stand and demonstrate exercises. On bad days, I would have to sit on an exercise ball or take a knee. I’m grateful for my team and clients support through everything; your support and my FR family kept me going.
My clients work out for different reasons. Some people work out to improve their health and some want to look their best. The past year has changed my view on a lot of things - most significantly wellness. I’ve never had a serious injury or surgery before. I was a former collegiate athlete and would tweak my back or a little muscle strain from time to time, but for the most part I was healthy and could do whatever I wanted when I wanted.
Starting a fitness program is hard! We’ve been conditioned to believe that we have to do an hour of intense work or that we have to change our nutrition 100% to be fit. What we NEED to do is focus on overall “wellness”. Meet your body where it’s at. It’s completely okay to not feel your best, and it’s very important to make changes - one small one at a time. If you can walk to the end of the block and back, do it. If you can hold a 10 second plank, do it. If you can eat better just at lunch, do it. Wellness and feeling better is a great goal and doesn’t need to be a complete life overhaul to make it happen. We have to walk before we can run, and my health situation reminded me of that.
There are so many times that we beat ourselves up in life. Be kind to yourself! Celebrate the walk to the end of the block. Celebrate the great salad that you had at lunch, or the fact that you had an extra serving of vegetables. Stop the negative self-talk over the fact that you didn’t run for an hour on your first workout, or have the rock hard abs that are constantly bombarding us on social media.
Build on your success! The next time you get a workout in, go a little longer. Feel a little stronger every day. It’s been nine months since my last surgery. I’m not where I ultimately want to be, but I feel so much better and stronger every day and that’s what I CELEBRATE!
On the difficult days, I remember my reason why and keep going. The ultimate goal is to feel better every day. It is not easy, but if you change your mindset, it can make all the difference.