(16-05-08) Getting Back to the Gym

I used to be so goddamned judgmental when people would procrastinate or avoid getting back into exercising.  “Just go to the gym!” i would think, when time and time again i’d hear friends/family/acquaintances/girlfriends/coworkers complain about the extra weight they didn’t want on their bodies.  To me, these people loved to complain … or, worse, turn into that person who constantly made self-deprecating fat jokes before bringing the conversation around to MY body size, telling tell me how i have it SOOO easy because i didn’t just have a kid, or my metabolism is CLEARLY higher than theirs.

“Stop making excuses.  People can lose their pregnancy weight.  You have no proof that my metabolism is higher.  Yes, you DO have the time.  So what if you’re always tired after work?  Just fucking go to the gym.”

And since my slightly higher propensity for being judgmental is clearly one of the life lessons i am supposed to be working on throughout my cancer experience, i find myself relating to those people who avoid getting back into exercising.

Exercising when you are going through cancer treatment SUCKS.

For months, i didn’t go to the gym because i was too tired, weak, nauseous, lightheaded, and prone to infection.
Then the nausea and light-headedness went away.
Still i didn’t go.
Then my white blood cell count returned to a normal, stabilizing level, so germs on the L.A. Fitness machines were no longer a serious concern.
Still i didn’t go.
Then i was able to get through entire days at a time without having to lie down to rest.
Still i didn’t go.
Then i suddenly realized one day that my muscles no longer burned whenever i had to walk anywhere, and i was able to pick up items like the box of litter or the bag of groceries without problems.
Still i didn’t go.

It dawned on me last week that i was making excuses.  I wasn’t avoiding the gym because of my health.  I was avoiding it because i was embarrassed that i would have to start from the bottom.  I remember the first time i started working out.  I was 18 or 19 years old.  I was in my sophomore year of college, and Laura Capitano made me go.  I lasted five minutes on the elliptical and rewarded myself with a king-sized Haagen Daz ice cream bar afterwards.  By the end of my sophomore year, i was proudly staying on that elliptical for a whopping 15 minutes, and once a month i would lift a couple of free weights for five minutes (max).  I would go to the gym once, maybe twice, a week and eat Haagen Daz after every session.  That was 1999.  Flash forward to 2015, and i am running half marathons on the elliptical at a resistance level of 12-15.  I am exercising three times a week with cardio machines at the gym, racquetball games, and hiking expeditions.  It was now unheard of for me to spend less than 90 minutes working out.  Gym time was typically two hours, and hiking trips could last all day.

Truthfully, i was proud of my progress and the results i had to show for it.

Now i have to start over…

..and i don’t wanna.

So last week, i made an effort to get over myself.  I had an entire week off from work, a body that is clearly making physiological improvements, and this recent revelation nagging my conscience.

Monday, i went to the gym.  I lasted a whopping 9 minutes on the elliptical before i left, exhausted.

Wednesday, i returned.  This time i went with my roommate, partly because i knew it would force me to stay longer.  Sure, i had to take a break on the stair climber every 2-3 minutes because of the fatigue … but i stayed on there for 15 minutes, then went on the elliptical for another 12.

Today, i went back.  This time, i was rocking a newly purchased ensemble from Lululemon – ridiculously overpriced, but perfectly color-coordinated … and we all know how much color coordination is the key to a happy life.  I still had to take two breaks on the stair climber in a mere 7 minutes, but i spent a total of 30 minutes spaced out between the stair climber, the elliptical, and the treadmill.

gym - treadmill

Was i embarrassed at the gym today?  Yup.

Was i proud of myself for my progress?  Admittedly, no.

Was i shocked as hell when a complete stranger stopped me on my way out to tell me how pretty i was?  Fuck yes.

… but i took steps this week to stop avoiding and stop procrastinating … and, in time, i know there will, once again, be something to show for it.  So i guess that has to count for something.

And now i can spend the rest of the night feeling *perfectly justified* lying around with my dog and catching up on “my shows.”

Author: breastcancerat35

I was diagnosed with Stage 3C Invasive Breast Cancer in October/November, 2015. This blog is my way to process my experience and allow my loved ones to have ongoing updates about my journey.

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