What Are You Waiting For?

I ran into a friend the other day. We spent a few minutes on the street catching up. After talking through all of our recent doc visits (she’s also a cancer survivor), talk turned to more fun things – exercise.

I talked about my most recent 50-mile race. We both talked about the wonderful addiction of exercise, especially running. But then my friend sheepishly apologized for not getting back to running more seriously since her treatments. Compared to what I was doing, she felt her few miles a week were insignificant.

I never want anyone to compare themselves to what I’m doing! I work out at a pretty intense level most of the time, and I fully admit that what I’m doing is a little crazy. I don’t expect anyone else to do what I do.

Fitness achievement is only about you. Your improvement (or lack of) is just about you and where you started. It’s a comparison with no one but yourself…. Are you able to do more than you could last month or last year? Are you stronger? Do you feel better than you did before?

The other thing that came up in conversation was the idea that she was sure she’d get back to it once she was through with XXXX. This is a really common idea – Let me just finish chemo or whatever, and then I’ll get back to exercising. But there are a couple of problems with this thinking.

First, why wait? Why wait until after treatments, after interviews, after whatever that’s keeping you from exercising? I think this idea stems from having basically one idea about what exercise is. We get an idea of what our workouts are. But there’s no one way to exercise, and no set amount. Just because you don’t have the time or stamina to do the same workout you did before doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Do what’s appropriate for you right now. If that means shorter or less intense workouts, fine. It’s still a workout. Do what you can given your current circumstances.

Second problem is that putting exercise off becomes a habit, just like exercising can be. I used a quote from Martin Luther for yesterday’s Life-Cise Daily Tip: How soon “not now” becomes “never”. That pretty much sums it up. The act of exercising, as well as the exercise itself, is beneficial. The act of regularly doing something becomes a habit.

In my profile this month for Lucy clothing (www.Lucy.com), I talk about exercising all throughout my cancer treatments. I say that exercising always kept me headed in the right direction, toward health and toward life. My workouts definitely changed through the course of my treatments, but the act of working out didn’t. I did whatever I could. I stayed in the habit of choosing health.

I always encourage people to keep exercising. You don’t have to do the same things you did last month or 10 years ago, but choosing to do something keeps you in the habit of choosing health. 


This entry was posted in exercise and cancer, exercise and chemotherapy, lucy clothing, motivation. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to What Are You Waiting For?

  1. Anonymous says:

    This blog is completely insensitive to people who have or have had cancer in the past. Do some research and find out the actual toll chemotherapy can have on ones body BEFORE suggesting people not use it as an excuse to put off exercise.

  2. Kim says:

    Julie your post is a wonderful encouragement and motivating! Thank you for giving us the grace and encouragement to start where we are…
    Thanks again!
    PS. Disregard the post by anonymous…I thought you were very sensitive!

  3. Anonymous,
    I am sorry you feel that way. And I am sorry you didn’t read the post carefully, or read further. Had you, you would realize that, in fact, I know a great deal about the actual toll of cancer treatments. I am a cancer survivor, as are most of my clients. I have had clients who were in the midst of their treatment, after treatment, with lymphedema, and have also had clients with metastatic disease.

    I certainly never mean to be insensitive. We all experience cancer and treatments in very individual ways. That’s why I am so insistant that people exercise at an appropriate level for them at that time – even walking to the mailbox is all it is.

    And Kim, thanks so much for your kind words!

  4. gillian says:

    I do think chemo and other cancer treatments affect everyone differently and, as I might have written in response to one of your postings before, I was banned from exercise FROM EVEN BEFORE I STARTED TREATMENT -but, until I was told to up the intensity about halfway through my radiotherapy sessions, I went to a biokineticist and did a combination of low-energy exercises – eg leg stretches with a theraband and lifting your leg 20cm off the ground, holding it briefly, and then lowering it again – as well as simple restorative yoga poses. I do agree with you that putting exercise off until after XXXXX is not a good idea. I don’t think that your blog is insensitive. However, I also do think chemo has a huge impact on one – saw a teenager today strolling in a mall with her hair patchy from chemo and thought how remarkably fast she was walking. I remember being pretty strained, but still going out….

  5. Gillian, that’s the most important factor I think – that we all have specific, individual needs. Good for you for always sticking with it – with whatever you could at the time.

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