I was a pretty active kid - soccer, baseball, basketball, track & field, swimming, biking, skiing, sweatin' to Jane Fonda's workout tape (yes, I CAN feel it, Jane!) - but when grade 11 hit, hanging out with skater boys and doing a variety of "other things" was hella more interesting.
Physical activity became pretty random. Other than dancing at clubs or walking everywhere when I lived close to town, my late teens and twenties consisted of occasional trips to a gym to try to build up some routine. It never took. When I had babies, the walks were legendary (and sanity preserving), but still only walks. Since my diagnosis in 2010, I've tried to make running a habit, but the misery of it has never transformed into the legendary high.
I still walk and hike occasionally with my kids, the bike comes out on sunny days, I own a rebounder and a gaggle of workout vids that never come close to Fonda and I throw a mean Prince dance party on Friday nights, but if I have a choice on how to spend my free time, it involves reading or writing. I'm like one of those pale, cooped up English writers without the actual English writing talent.
This is a huge embarrassment in my life. I'm surrounded by friends and family members who have found their exercise groove and make it part of every day. Two diagnoses and all this research later and I'm still holding onto the ridiculous justification that I've never had a weight issue so it's not urgent I change. See what I mean? Embarrassing.
There are three stats that have embedded themselves into my eyeballs over the past four years:
- based on my situation, there's a 30% chance I could die from this cancer
- regular alcohol consumption increases the chance of recurrence by 50%
- 3-5 hours of exercise each week reduces the chance of recurrence by 50%
The death one only peeks out in the darkest of nights. The alcohol one I've tried to take to heart, but I can't say I've been diligent about not having wine with a good pasta. The exercise one hangs over my head like a humiliating test score. This humiliation needs to end.
In the past week I've decided to dive into my natural dilettante tendencies and try a little bit of everything to see what sticks.
I bought a 10-session card to the gym at my local rec centre and have donned my red hat to use the treadmill and elliptical twice, surrounded by old women who are fitter than I've ever been and UVic students sweating off Felicitas beer.
I went to a 75-minute yoga class yesterday at a new studio by my house and did my downward dog behind a farty autistic man who kept shouting "what song is this playing?!" Despite the sensory overload, the yoga was hard and good but I felt a bit douchey walking to and fro the session with my yoga mat under my arm. I became that woman (I swear I wasn't wearing lulus) and I was ashamed, my friends.
I'm also determined to be a good wife to the Englishman and take up gardening for real this year. In the one day I did it on the weekend, it made me a good sore and I loved it.
There are a thousand reasons why I haven't been successful at this, but none of them are valid. I haven't made this a priority. Which sounds fucking ridiculous when you look at that stat. So I'm embarrassed, but I'm doing this now. All in.