Exercise: “Get into the Groove…” and Move!

I used to exercise to offset the intake of wine and nachos.

A few extra step aerobic classes or Tae-bo sessions and, “Voila!” back to normal.

Alas, that stopped working MANY years ago.

Now, I exercise – or, I prefer to say, “move,” to get lymph flowing and better balance my immune system.

Some of my favorite ways to move:

Walking – This ranks as “best in class” for me. Especially outside in nature. I’m a fast walker and can sometimes move into something that looks like “wogging,” a combination of a walk/jog. Yep, I look ridiculous. And, yep, I feel super alive. But, I enjoy slow, too.

Last August I “loped” around NYC for the entire day, racking up over 35,000 steps and seeing a ton of Manhattan!

fitbit

My “half marathon” around NYC!

Rebounding (Mini Trampoline) – I do this one in short bursts. I weave it in to help me have a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) style of workout. I do a combination of two minutes on the treadmill, two minutes on the trampoline, two minutes of strength training, rinse and repeat… My Fitbit records it as a Basketball workout, which always strikes me as funny because I’m 5 feet tall.

Qigong – I started this peaceful practice when I was healing and continue to incorporate it into my morning and evening routines. I also add the moving and breathing techniques to many of my yoga and meditation classes.

Yoga – Yoga reduces my overall stress level and allows me to appreciate the state of my body on that particular day and point in time. It slows down my racing mind and increases awareness of how interestingly my body fits together. The final relaxation, or

xenasavasana

Sweet Xena (RIP) had the best savasana evahhhh!

savasana, is the cherry on the sundae! When I was younger, I used to skip it. These days, I take a yoga class BECAUSE of those final minutes of sweet stillness. I learned about yoga4cancer when I was recovering from surgery. A friend gifted me with this book and I followed the exercises as I healed. Now, I’m a certified teacher in the y4c methodology.

Cardio Kickboxing – This one is fun and brings me back to the glory days of Tae-bo. I feel strong and have fun doing it. There’s inspiring music, light weights, and I can constructively get out any latent aggression. S*^%*^o)#@%^r!!!

My cancer diagnosis prompted me to appreciate my body and love it more than I ever had before. I was so sad and scared at first, but then became so grateful for how well my body healed and continues to heal. The medication I am on has hurtled me into early menopause (THAT’s a future post – Oh, boy!). I’ve watched the scale steadily increase over the past few months and it’s been hard not to freak out. Both my oncologist and oncology naturopath explained how my body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do – it wants to offset the drop in estrogen by adding fat. But, fat can increase chance of recurrence, so I get stressed. But, stress can increase the chance of recurrence, so… I now focus on figuring out how to “be” with this new way of being. In the meantime, I move daily to balance my immune system. I eat nutritious foods. I meditate to reduce stress. I honor sleep. I practice gratitude for my body and work on navigating the changes I’m going through as positively as I can (and I carry a collapsible fan in my purse).

What helped: The Steps to Wellness Program at The University of Vermont Cancer Center. This program is open to any cancer survivor. It’s a 12 week supervised group exercise program which includes educational workshops on lifestyle management. The American Cancer Society recommends either 150 minutes of moderate exercise (that’s just 21 minutes a day!) or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise – or a blend of both – each week to help prevent recurrence and optimize recovery and overall health. Strength training is recommended at least two days a week.

What I wish I knew earlier: After many months, the weight gain WOULD eventually stabilize. It’s slooooow coming back off, but it’s finally beginning to occur.

Some things you can try right now:
Get up and go! Pick something that brings you joy. Like to dance? Try something like Zumba. Like to bike? Hop on a scenic path or try indoor cycling at a place like REV. Like being on the water? Try a kayaking adventure. Choose something FUN that you’ll welcome doing. I have been attending a Monday night Pilates class at Peace of Mind Pilates for the past nine years. An added bonus from this weekly ritual? I’ve formed forever friendships.

kayak

Have fun in nature with friends!

Break it up. It takes seven minutes to walk from my cubicle to the end of the parking lot and back. It clears my mind and always makes me more productive. If done three times in 8 hours – BAM! – 21 minutes of moderate activity.

Practice gratitude. Gosh, our bodies are freakin’ amazing. Think about it. That wonderful heart of yours has been pumping since you came into being. Your eyes are taking in this text and your brain is translating what it means. Maybe you’re listening to music, the sounds of nature or the laughter of someone you love. Or you’ve recently wrapped your arms around someone special – or petted a beloved animal friend. Perhaps you enjoyed an aromatic and delicious dinner. Your body is the vessel that carries around the unique spirit that makes you YOU for this precious slice of time. Walk, run, jump, play, and celebrate the body you have! Cherish it. Love it. MOVE it.

What are some of YOUR favorite ways to “move it, move it?”

Next Up: Flashes & Fear

Medical Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Medical advice must only be obtained from a physician or qualified health professional.

Geri Ann Higgins, owner of Fully Present, is a breast cancer survivor, Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Registered Yoga Teacher, Certified Yoga4Cancer Teacher, Reiki Master, Tarot coach and Marketing & Communications professional. Learn more at http://www.FullyPresentwithYou.com

Books

Since 1982, I have reread one particular book about every ten years. Can you guess which one?

Hints: A scarf and “not a hat”

Answer at bottom!

My nightstand is home to a variety of half-read books. The topic I select depends on my mood. Sometimes I engage in “appetizer sampling” and sometimes I dig into one delicious main course. Fellow bookworms understand when I say that “The End” just means “The Beginning” for yet another book to be discovered and devoured.

Somanybooks

So many books, so little time…

I’m a traditional hard copy, paper book gal. There’s something about the familiar form and weight of holding a physical book in my hands, mindfully dog-earing the pages and having the progressive visual of how close I am to completion. There are some books I love to revisit, some I wish could go on forever and some I just want to bring across the finish line and donate to the local Goodwill.

I read voraciously after my diagnosis. Most of it was online and much of it was conflicting information. Part of the reason was because I was searching with incomplete information. There were some facts I wouldn’t learn until after the surgery.

What helped: My surgical recovery phase allowed me to do a deep dive and COMPLETE multiple books. Some were gifted to me and some recommended as useful by others touched by cancer. I benefited from the specialized advice, nourishing recipes, traditional and non-traditional approaches, real patient stories and multiple research findings. Favorites included:

  • The Cancer Revolution by Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy
    • I liked the comprehensive nature of different approaches and their descriptions, plus the eating plans, recipe section, glossary and extensive footnotes.
  • The China Study Cookbook by LeAnne Campbell
    • I enjoyed the wide assortment of plant-based recipes and nutritional information.
  • How Healing Works by Wayne Jonas, MD
    • I loved the history he shared, how to heal with your environment and real-life patient stories.
  • It’s Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life & Cancer by Debra Jarvis
    • I appreciated her humor, candor and openness in sharing her group emails and lessons learned along the way.
  • WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink
    • This was not cancer-specific, however, it was extremely valuable to me as my return to work approached. I was still very tired, but this book offered strategies to better harness my natural energy phases. You can check out the book’s core message and the power of a “Nappuccino,” HERE.

      morefriends

      More old friends…

What I wish I knew at the time: Audiobooks! Of course I knew about audiobooks, but I’d never actually listened to any. They would have been a convenient delivery system of informational resources on my work commute in the first weeks after diagnosis.

Some things to try:

  • Check out one of the books listed above, if appropriate for you or someone you care about.
  • The next time you fly, use it as an opportunity to finish at least one book. Watch how it transforms the early arrivals, unexpected flight delays and long layovers into a more positive and satisfying experience. Pick one you’ve been wanting to sink your teeth into – you know the one. It elicits the “Just two more pages…” response.
  • When it makes sense, layer! Since my brother and his family got me a six-month membership, I’ve become a big fan of the audiobook. I recently heard Tony Robbins use the term, NET: No Extra Time. He was talking about time management strategies. Life is busier than ever these days, so listening to an audiobook is an example of utilizing time that you’re already engaged in doing something (driving, working out, cooking, cleaning) and layering on some learning that can benefit you (and possibly reduce some stress, depending on the topic!) without taking up any extra time.
  • Block time for down time. Although books and audiobooks are enriching in so many ways, it’s important to schedule regular doses of “white space” or “waking rest” into each day. This relaxing, agenda-free “down time” allows your brain to better process the multitude of learnings and experiences, increase the flow of creative insights and productivity and restore and relax your nervous system.

Answer to Intro Question: It is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry! I first read this on my 7th grade school bus (no talking was allowed that year, so plenty of time to read). It profoundly affected me. I stumbled upon it again after college and understood even deeper aspects of the story after a decade of life experiences. Since then, I commit to rediscovering it (and myself!) as I welcome in each new decade.

Which book do you reread and why? List in the comment section below.

Next Up: Cats!

Medical Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Medical advice must only be obtained from a physician or qualified health professional.

Geri Ann Higgins, owner of Fully Present, is a breast cancer survivor, Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Registered Yoga Teacher, Certified Yoga4Cancer Teacher, Reiki Master, Tarot coach and Marketing & Communications professional. Learn more at http://www.FullyPresentwithYou.com.