It’s hard to even make you think I’m a good exerciser.
Because I’m not.
I start and stop a lot; especially over the past year or two.
But I’m trying… again.
And here’s why:
I Believe Exercise is Good for Me
Belief is powerful.
What we believe says a lot about us and drives us, often unconsciously.
When I think of how our beliefs work, it reminds me a lot of retirement funds.
A lot of us know it’s wise to have them.
Most of us assume if we put money into them, they will pay off in the long run.
Some invest a lot into this process (especially those who have money to invest).
Others do not.
But when it boils down to it:
We only invest in retirement funds if we believe they will produce a return and be good for us. If we don’t believe that – then we don’t invest.
For awhile, I treated exercise a lot like a retirement fund.
One day I was investing into it, and the next day I was not.
I’ll spare you the excuses on why.
Because here’s the real deal:
I stopped believing exercise was good for me.
Like… really believing. (The kind that leads to action.)
Not just “I know this information and don’t think it’s lying to me” believing.
So what happened?
I was helping create resources about exercise for colon cancer survivors like me (ironic, huh) and it hit me:
I didn’t believe what it was saying or else I’d be acting upon it.
So, I decided to change that.
That’s one quality of beliefs that I love – long-held beliefs, or unconscious ideas we carry, can soon change once they’re brought to light.
But there’s more…
I found some friends to exercise with
I don’t care if this blog enters all of the others in the universe recommending finding a friend if you want to exercise more.
Because it’s totally, 100% true.
Several years ago, I met my dear friend Nicole through personal training and her accountability, coaching and support kept me going.
Same goes with my other friends like Ashley and Amy who joined me on a 10K.
I used to meet up with buddies who took boxing classes with me.
Guess what – I used to box a lot.
Even though I like independence and sometimes take a walk or jog to get some space…
When I’m serious about keeping a regular exercise routine…
I cannot go at it alone.
This applies to almost every area of life but since this isn’t a sermon, I’ll just tell you my next reason I’m exercising more:
It helps me get rid of emotional pain
If you know my story, you know it’s full of trauma.
Colon cancer as a young adult (or at any age for that matter) is one of the many hard things I’ve lived through.
Radiation was my least favorite part of it.
But one day, I experienced this amazing sensation of letting it go.
Here’s what happened:
I was on a spin bike.
The pop music was blasting – it was amazing.
The instructor had us pedal for 3 minutes as hard and as fast as we could without stopping.
I thought I was going to die.
But every time I opened my eyes, I didn’t see the pearly gates or Saint Peter.
I saw a sweaty instructor and felt the uncomfortable seat riding up my butt.
So, here’s what I did:
I closed my eyes, listened to the music and let my mind travel back to the days of radiation.
The uncomfortable rectal exams by the well-meaning male doctors.
The hazardous symbol on the thick door that trapped me in the room with the big machine.
The sound of the laser frying my skin.
The sudden jolt of pain from the tattoos on each side of my butt cheeks, and one right above my tail bone.
The sunburned skin and its painful irritation in an area the “sun don’t shine.”
The humiliation of having to show someone that area at only 17 years old.
I thought of all of this, and I pedaled harder.
Three minutes didn’t feel like enough when I heard the song change and the instructor yell:
“Stop! You’re done!”
I didn’t only leave that spin bike physically stronger:
I left emotionally stronger.
The memories of radiation have haven’t hurt me as badly or as deeply ever since that day.
I accepted I need to take it slow
Now don’t get me wrong:
You won’t see me on the cover of any health and fitness magazines anytime soon.
And probably never will.
While I’m slowly beginning to exercise more, I am human.
This means it’s very likely:
- I will fall off the wagon again and hit a rut
- I will continue to eat peanut m&ms daily, ruining any chance I have at a competition-ready physique
- I will grow bored, weary and tired of exercising
- My side effects from colon cancer treatment nearly 17 years ago will continue to sideline me at times
But despite all of this, I’ve found one key of exercising that has really helped me:
Suck up my pride and take it slow.
I’m in my early 30s, and sometimes I think I should be somebody I’m not.
Somebody who is:
But truth is, I’m me and my body has been through a lot.
Some days, it cooperates.
Other days, it does not.
But on the days it does – I can use those as an opportunity to exercise little by little.
Even if it means taking it slow like:
- Walking around the neighborhood instead of running or jogging
- Modifying the exercises so I don’t pull a muscle or hurt myself
- Lifting less weight although everything inside of me wants to push it and prove I can do it
- Stopping to rest and not beating myself up because of it
- Saying no to the hard thing and saying yes to the easier thing
Why has this made a difference?
The permission to not be a badass exerciser has actually helped me exercise more.
And that, my friends, is how I’m slowly crawling out of an exercise rut…
and starting to move again.
My friends at Bodies Health & Fitness have helped me jump back into an exercise routine every time I’m ready to begin again. If you’re near Lee’s Summit, MO come work out with us!
(P.S. There’s an unlimited training special happening right now!)
If colon or rectal cancer is in your life, there’s a group taking a hike (literally) next summer in Colorado. It’s called Climb for a Cure, organized by Fight Colorectal Cancer, and it’s a great New Years Resolution.