Well, I’m gonna do it again. Step in to complete vulnerability and likely overshare.
Back in February 2020, I was feeling those inner nudges to get my body moving again. Since being diagnosed with Leishmaniasis in 2019, undergoing chemotherapy and fighting my way back from the bugs, I had gained 25lbs. Mostly from inactivity and having to keep my foot elevated for 6 hours a day for months on end, but also from cannabis munchies and eating carbs again. I had gone off of wheat and gluten about ten years prior because it simply didn’t agree with my tummy. During chemo, saltine crackers and toast were the only things I could keep down. Regardless, the pounds crept up, I was feeling lethargic, disappointed in myself and unmotivated in life. Some of this stemmed from the doctors discouraging me from returning to the gym, which over the years had been a happy place for me. Being immune compromised all doctors agreed that gyms were not a place for me to be during flu season. Those inner nudges prompted me to reach out to my friend Leanne Stamper who had recently started coaching through BeachBody.
I was reluctant to get into their nutrition program because Dr. Katrina and I were working so diligently with my nutrition, nutrients and supplements that I didn’t want to mess with what was working for me. So, I started with the program simply for the online workout programs. I made a commitment to myself to move my body for 30 minutes a day. I started with a program called 21 Day Fix and fell in love with the simple and challenging workouts. After those first three weeks, Ontario went into lock down due to Covid-19 so Canyon joined me for 21 Day Fix Extreme and we completed it together. I continued on with moving my body daily, some days I would do an online work out and some days I would go for a walk or do yoga. But I stayed true to my goal…until late April.
Late April, May, June and some of July found me authoring my debut novel “Finding the Well in Wellness” and oddly enough, I replaced my own wellness routine for the commitment to write. I moved some days, but certainly not consistently as I was. Instead, I sat, glued to my computer, pouring over journal entries, writing, editing, re-reading. I spent 14-16 hours a day immobile for the better part of three months. The world was shut down which meant my business was not able to operate and I found myself with this wonderful gift of time. A perfect time to settle into reaching a life time goal of authoring a book.
But I struggled.
I struggled mentally and emotionally to let go of a new goal in order to achieve an old one. I struggled to prioritize and I mentally berated myself for not finding 30 minutes a day to move my body. But, I also felt like I needed to take full advantage of this beautiful gift of time to write. One day, while I was deep in writing (and healing) I had this immense sense of joy come over me and I realized that I was LOVING what I was doing in that very moment.
It was a moment of clarity that left me with freedom.
How could I berate myself for not doing one thing when the thing I was doing was bringing me complete and utter joy?
In that moment, I gave myself permission to hit pause on one goal to really pursue a dream. It turned out, that permission set me free. It created space for me to just write and be fully present to the process.
It also created space for me to move my body when time allowed. I leaned into yoga and going for walks with the kids and Tim. But the pressure to perform, to succeed, to be perfect…was gone.
Once those final pages and edits were handed over to my Editor and Formatter, I picked up my daily movement again. On August 10th, I doubled down on my goal, I re-upped my commitment to myself and nothing, I mean nothing could stop me. With Leanne’s group of local women who are all BeachBody members (we call ourselves BOOST Ladies), we took on a brand new 21 day work out program called MBF (Muscle Burns Fat), and then we did another 21 days together with the MBFA (Muscle Burns Fat Advanced) program. And then, I liked it so much, I did the whole thing over again. Camping? No problem, pack the weights and workout at the campsite. Headed to the cottage? No problem, pack the weights and work out on the dock. No excuses and despite all obstacles was the motto. And then, having reignited my love of weightlifting, I started the 6 week LIIFT program. In between, I would give myself a few days of active rest. On those days, I would walk, do yoga or stretching.
In October, Dr. Katrina and I discussed me easing my way back into intermittent fasting. This was something that I did for years prior to Leish. Since high school, I would do 3 day fasts about 3-4 times per year. In my thirties, I had started doing more intermittent fasting and following the 16:8 format. I would fast for sixteen hours and eat in only an eight hour window. Some days, it would be more and some days less, but I was pretty regular to this way of life. With my body stronger and holding its nutrients a little better, we decided to ease back in to this familiar way of life that I had been missing. We also started incorporating protein shakes and high dose vitamin C drinks.
Since October, I have not missed one day of intermittent fasting. I started at 14:10, then moved to 15:9, then moved to 16:8, then to 17:7, then to 18:6. Some days I do 20:4, some days I do 22:2 and some days I only eat in a one hour window (which is a little more like one meal a day). Of course, there is science and technique to this and I am careful to get all my healthy nutrition in. I take a plethora of supplements, protein and collagen. My body, right now, feels as healthy as it has in years.
With Ontario being in lock down again for the Christmas holidays, it was easy to stay on track. I didn’t miss a work out or intermittent fasting even on Christmas Day and New Years day. It’s become a lifestyle and not a chore anymore.
The BOOST Ladies and I are now doing a brand new program together called 9 Week Control Freak (#9wcf) and I am loving it. We are accountable in our group, we challenge each other, motivate each other, hold each other accountable and we pick each other up when we need to.
Recently, my body crashed. I have IV infusions biweekly to boost my immune system and to help my body function on a cellular level. Chemotherapy is a terrible drug, that has unfortunatley left me with some lasting damage. I don’t dwell on it often, it is what it is. So some days are a bigger struggle than others to carry on with life. I experience nerve pain in my foot and leg some days that can be debilitating. Sometimes, I feel like I am on day 37 of taking Chemo all over again. There doesn’t seem to be rhyme or reason as to why, it just hits me and I have to work through it. I digress.
Anyway, I have been trying to stretch out the IV Therapy, mostly because it is hard on the pocket book. We pay out of pocket for these treatments, just like we paid out of pocket for all the other treatments for Leishmaniasis since it isn’t a recognized disease in Canada. I waited 19 days between the last treatment. On day 15 I felt great. On day 16 I felt great. On day 17 I started to dip. On day 18 it was a steady decline into a pain body, a sleepless night and the inability to focus on anything. Day 19 was IV day, which I met with enthusiasm knowing I always feel better (within 12 hours) after having a treatment. The infusion was slower than usual, almost as if my body was struggling to absorb it but as I was l leaving Dr. Katrina’s office, I had a spring in my step again. I stopped on my way home for a few groceries, and there, standing in line at the grocery store, it happened. I hit a wall. I started breathing heavily, struggled to load my groceries into the cart and then into the trunk of the car. Trembling, I sat in the driver’s seat for a few moments catching my breath and calming my heart. I made the short drive home and called Tim from the car to come and help me into the house and into bed where I fell into a deep sleep, full clothed.
When I woke around 6pm, the negative self-talk started, because I hadn’t moved my body at all, and in order to stay on track with the group, I NEEDED to get a workout in. But I couldn’t. Physically, mentally or emotionally I was zapped out. I didn’t want to let myself down and break a perfect workout streak of 195 days.
I’m ridiculous, I know.
I posted in our BOOST group, that I was struggling and was unsure that I would be able get the workout in. There were still 6 hours technically left in the day and I wasn’t giving up hope. If I’ve learned anything through Beachbody it is that accountability is important for me. It really does keep me motivated to stay on track. I pulled myself out of bed and had a short visit (even though I was pretty lifeless) with a friend. No appetite, but I had a nutrition shake and headed back to bed.
One of the things we do with #9wcf is nightly stretching for 6-10 minutes before bed. I was starting to feel like I could at least handle stretching, so as I sat at the edge of my bed, I put my hands together in prayer position, took a deep breath and asked my body what it needs. And my body whispered “move me.” This whisper was very different from the berating, judgemental voice that had been condemning me earlier as a failure for ‘not getting it done’ today. It was a soft whisper, a loving whisper and it was kind. I had a sense that I could move my body that night, but it wouldn’t be the intense weights and cardio that the rest of the group had done. It wanted gentle yoga, restorative yoga with twists and breathing and elongation. It wanted to be loved, to be honored and not taken for granted. It wanted to be thanked.
So, I honored my body’s request, and there in my pjs on my bedroom floor I gave it what it wanted. It was as if my body and my heart aligned and were working together to find it’s well. Full of gratitude, I logged in to post in our BOOST group my progress, only to see that virtually the entire group of ladies had all dedicated their evening stretch and/or meditation and/or workout to me.
They moved FOR me.
They did for me what I was unable to do for myself.
It was an active prayer.
It was beautiful.
I cried tears of gratitude for this group of beautiful, strong and compassionate ladies. And as I sat there on my bedroom floor, I knew that the only reason that I heard that whisper over the loud judgemental voice was because those ladies all coming together in an active prayer carried me when I couldn’t carry myself. They created a space for me to love myself, to let me know that even if I do fall behind in the journey they still have my back and will support me no matter what. It was a beautiful thing to feel their prayers.
We have just under three weeks of #9wcf left. I’ve caught up to the group. It took me a few days to bounce back, but I have realized a few important pieces since then:
- I was reminded that I am perfectly imperfect.
- My health is more important than my pocketbook. I will go back to biweekly infusions.
- It’s important to have a tribe. To lean in when we need to, and be the support for others when we can.
- To be thankful for a body that moves, every day.
- I can do hard things.
For accountability, I took my measurements and progress pictures this week. I am excited to say that I am officially the weight and size I was BEFORE Leishmaniasis. I feel healthier than I have in years. I am sleeping better, making better food choices, my skin is clear and my hair is growing like crazy (even if it is grey). I am stronger than I have been in years and I have energy to enjoy life with my family and to work with clients again. The number on the scale is just a number…but it is also the tangible measurement of progress and a means to celebrate. Since August, I am down 24.5lbs and 12″ overall. More than anything, I am so happy with all non-scale victories that I have acquired over the last year with BOOST Ladies and BeachBody.
Friends, if your body is nudging you to move. Listen. If your mind is ripe to expand into new ways of thinking. Listen. Take a moment, put your hands in prayer position at your heart, take a deep breath and ask your body, “what do you need today?”
And then honour it.
You won’t regret it. I certainly don’t.
PS. If you are looking for support, encouragement and the whole she-bang, Leanne is the Coach for you. You can find her on Instagram @positiveLEA_motivating or by email at email@example.com. We would love to have you join our BOOST community to do the hard things in life together!