On Finding One’s Inner Athlete

Today I invited a guest to the blog. In full disclosure (as you will see), Carol is my client, but also my friend. In the months I’ve known her she has made real progress, and it’s been fun for me to watch how much effect exercise can have in someone else’s life. I know what it’s meant for my life, but it’s been interesting to watch the process unfold for someone else. I thank Carol for her kind words for me, and hope you will enjoy her story – and maybe find some inspiration.

Julie

My name is Carol, and in early 2006 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and spent the “better” part of that year undergoing the gamut of treatments.

The family story goes that when I was born, the doctor looked me over and told my parents that they have an athlete here. Well … I have never really considered myself to be an athlete. I’ve just enjoyed some recreational sports, have gone through periods of being more active and have had my couch potato moments as well.

Through my treatments, though, I found it very helpful to go out for walks on the days that I felt well enough to do so. And I believe that those walks had a great deal to do with me having more of those days, than not, where I felt well both physically and mentally. It was good to get outdoors and to feel that I still had some strength and stamina left in my body. And at a time when my whole world felt completely out of control, the exercise gave me a sense of having some control both over my ability to handle the treatments and even to positively affect my outcome. Walking also became time for me, a sort of walking meditation, which I looked forward to and which allowed me the opportunity to sort out into manageable bits the enormity of what I was going though. Keeping active, to the extent that I was able, became an indispensable part of my healing.

Now three (thankfully) healthy years have gone by and I’ve kept up my walking. But in this often surprisingly wonderful journey that is cancer recovery, I stay open and aware for more that I can learn and do to keep moving forward. I noticed that a fitness specialist, who herself was a breast cancer survivor, was giving a workshop at my local American Cancer Society and I was interested and even changed my schedule that evening so that I could attend. And that’s where I first met Julie.

I’ve since had several sessions with her over these past months and under Julie’s guidance my fitness level has been improving measurably. I know this not only because I feel it but also because Julie uses techniques to actually measure this progress. I am still walking and recently have begun running, which feels great. With the aid of Julie’s expertise and encouragement I feel like I just might discover that athlete that the doctor saw in me all those years ago.

I continue to heal and re-build my life and, at mid-life, I’ve enrolled in college again and am working toward a second career. And as everything in one’s life is interrelated, getting in better physical condition and becoming stronger and more focused makes me feel up to and better equipped to meet this new challenge as well.

An exercise program doesn’t have to make one strive to be an athlete, or be a spiritual or life-changing experience. But it can be. There are many benefits to be gained at any level of improving one’s fitness. The important thing is to just begin moving because you never know where it may take you.

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