Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's Not About the 6-Pack: Fitness for Cancer Patients

Recently I had the opportunity to meet Melanie Bowen, a Masters student who has researched alternative nutritional, emotional and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illnesses. Some of her research relates to fitness and how it can produce better outcomes in cancer patients.

Two weeks before I graduated high school, my mom was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). One thing she said during her illness has stuck with me to this day. One day in the hospital she said, "If I ever would have known that there was anything in my life I could've done to prevent getting this disease, I would have done it hands down."

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2011 - Race Beneficiary: LLS

Now, Mom was a healthy, active person, and unfortunately we don't know what causes AML, but we  do know that obesity is a significant risk factor for multiple types of cancer. In a 2007 NCI study, it was estimated that over 84,000 new cancer cases were diagnosed due to obesity. That's 84,000 moms, dads, spouses, friends, who received this earth-shattering diagnosis because of something that is absolutely preventable. This is the driving factor behind my work as a fitness coach - to prevent one person from losing their loved one too soon.

Through Melanie's research, she has found several factors and considerations for how and why fitness can be an important factor in preventing and navigating a cancer diagnosis:

1. Prevention - physical activity may remove carcinogenic toxins from the blood, effectively managing blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy blood pressure, protecting the heart.

2. Coping with stress - exercise is known to boost the mood and increase a person's ability to cope. Cancer treatments also wreak havoc physically, and staying active can help flush toxins through the body and allow medications to spread through the blood stream more quickly. It also helps fight fatigue and nausea - common side effects of cancer treatments.

3. Modifications - a disease or treatment may require a change in fitness regimen. Adjust for both comfort and enjoyment. Consider yoga, swimming or cycling for an aerobic workout that's gentle on joints.

4. Remission - once in remission, regular exercise can reduce the risk of recurrence. What a great time to celebrate and take full advantage of a new, healthy lifestyle!  Many communities offer fitness programs specifically for those in remission.

*For more on this topic from Melanie, please visit her site.*

So, you see, "this fitness thing" isn't just for muscle-bound men taking 50 different supplements and lifting 50-lb dumbbells. It's not just for cute, petite little Kelly Ripa lookalikes decked out in Lululemon. Fitness is for every BODY, and it just might save your life.

If you've seen Randy Pausch's Last Lecture, you know about "head fakes" - when he says the lecture wasn't for the audience...it was for his kids. So here's my head fake: Fitness isn't about the 6-pack. It's about being around for the people you love.

If you or someone you know is ready to make a change, I would love to help in any way I can. Please contact me.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Just Start.

Just Do It. Nike's tagline has been a staple for as long as many of us can remember. I actually really like this slogan and its application to fitness. It cuts through all the crap, all the excuses. "I'm tired," "I'm not coordinated," "I don't have time." Nike challenges us to forget all the things telling us we can't and just do it. But what do you do when "it" seems insurmountable? Or you don't even know what "it" is? I'd like to amend that slogan for anyone who struggles with any excuse for not working out. 

My slogan: Just Start.

Last weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to meet and work out with Shaun Thompson. You know him as "Shaun T" from Insanity...or maybe you recognize his face abs.

The event was part of a Team Beachbody training where I also got to meet some other inspiring people.

First I met Doris. I would guess Doris is in her late-40s. She purchased Shaun's program, Hip Hop Abs, several years ago. Like so many in-home fitness programs, it sat on a shelf, lonely and unopened. One day last year, Doris found herself overweight and unhappy, and she decided she had to do something. Just start something. She popped in her Hip Hop Abs DVD and just started. Then the next day, she started again. Now, a year (and 129 lbs later), she is still going and happier than ever! She ignored those voices in her head telling her she was too big or uncoordinated to do the dance moves, and she went for it anyway. 

Then just before Shaun came out, the group was introduced to Jeannie. A 2nd-time mom, Jeannie fell into an innocent habit of napping on the couch holding her newborn. Then napping turned into napping/snacking. After several months of this, Jeannie was trapped in a vicious cycle of Exhaustion-Napping-Snacking-Depression-More Exhaustion-More Napping...AAAAHHHHH! Jeannie got fed up and fired up and ordered Insanity. She lost her baby weight (plus some) and her depression, but what she's most proud of is that she is setting an example for her children that physical activity is a normal part of everyday life. What a gift!

No matter where we are in our fitness journey, every single day, every workout, every meal, we all start again. We don't have to wait for a new year or for Monday. Ignore all the reasons not to, and just start

If you or anyone you know needs help just getting started, I encourage you to email me. I am sponsoring a Beachbody Challenge Group and would love to add some more people who are ready to commit to just start for as little as 30 days. Receive free online coaching and the opportunity to win cash prizes, while doing the fitness program of your choice (ALL fitness levels welcome). Adam and I will be doing Insanity!

And in case you need any more incentives, check out some of the current deals from Beachbody:

$25 off on P90X Challenge Packs and P90X2 Challenge Packs: Save a total of $80 with these comprehensive packages including nutrition, fitness, AND support at the lowest price ever offered on 2 of the most popular fitness programs in the world.

$22/month savings FOR LIFE when you place a chocolate or greenberry Shakeology HD order before March 31 (email me for information on how to redeem this offer).