This was my face this morning, after an ‘early start’ for a re-induction to the gym, which involved 4 mins on the treadmill, 3 mins on the bike, 2 mins on the hand-bike, 15 squats, 30 step-ups, 15 wall-press-ups, 15 lat-pull-downs on a light weight + stretches:
I walked to/from the gym (about 15 mins each way), and if I do that, then I don’t need to do the treadmill warm-up, but the expectation is that wet/cold = driving! The expectation is that the time will build up, and I’ll do 2 sets of reps, plus the PARiS coaches will add in new exercises as I progress. The important thing at the moment is that I get back into the habit of going. PARiS sessions with support run Monday and Wednesday mornings, but I can go anytime, plus think about which classes I can manage, and get back into swimming (team at work planning on joining the Swimathon)!
I have endeavoured to keep myself active, chasing Pokemon, catching bees, climbing the Law in Dundee (my calf is still in spasm from that on Monday, combined with taking a layer of skin off my knee, AND the flu jab yesterday, did not feel super-fit this morning!), and undergoing the exercise retreat with Jo Taylor, after which I knew I wanted to ratchet things up a bit more. Exercise is supposed to be good for post-cancer fatigue, and also as I’m now on medication that will thin my bones, I need to strengthen them. There’s also the question of weight, as lower weights may decrease risk of recurrence, but as someone with disordered eating, I need to focus on strength, wellbeing and health, rather than that aspect.
The PARiS Scheme
Just before I started radiotherapy, after a recommendation from the Breast Care Nurse (BCN), I went to Life Leisure and had my discussion about PARiS (looks wonderful in the calendar, but just stands for Physical Activity Referral in Stockport) with Vinny (with the South African accent in this video):
I really liked the way the conversation went. I was weighed/measured, but my wish not to know was respected. We talked about what I’ve done before – and it’s clear that I only really know one way to DO exercise – and that’s at full tilt, which is not going to work right now! There was no pressure to join, etc. As Claire explained at the Moving Forward course, the PARiS coaches are employed by government funding, but research has demonstrated that if they are based at a gym, people are more likely to go. Life Leisure is the current partner, but they are keen that you find something that you enjoy and WILL DO, so listen, motivate, and suggest that the time may not be right.
Before All This
I first joined a gym at the age of 17, and found that my A-Level grades went up by around 10%, plus I felt better (especially mentally), and this is what has returned me to various forms of exercise at different points. In Winchester, I went to the same gym for many years, particularly for circuit training, ab-solution, body pump, gym workouts and occasionally the more dance-type options … I got to know people very well, and so always had someone else to go with. Circuit training really suits me as if you don’t like something you’ve only got a couple of minutes on it! In Manchester I took up running (and more skiiing), and managed 2 x 10k, but later was diagnosed with shin splints …
On my global travels, I picked up a viral bug, which caused issues with breathing and fatigue, piling on a lot of weight when I returned…. In Durham I bought a house near a gym I wanted to go to (the pool looked such a lovely blue!), and mostly did karate, swimming, with some personal training options. Moving to Manchester, I resisted joining a gym, wanting to find other ways to fit ‘movement’ in, including joining hiking groups in summer 2016 (I’m always at the back, doesn’t matter), cycling to work from September 2016 (about 12 miles a day), and in August 2017 I joined a local gym … who thankfully refunded me when the BCN said I wouldn’t really get the benefit from it!
So that felt like I was starting from a million miles back from where I used to be, and now this feels like even further back! But hopefully with the right support…
Vinny gave me a set of home exercises to do, but a couple of weeks into radiotherapy, I was so tired, I stopped, and keep putting off doing them. Clearly I like exercising for function, by appointment, or where there is socialising. I am seeing this initial 6 month membership as an opportunity to see if I get back into the swing of things, and don’t feel like it’s another ‘burden’! If I enjoy it, and have found a way to fit it into my life, I’ll continue, if not, then I look for other options. As Beyond Chocolate supports the idea of ‘moving‘ rather than ‘no pain, no gain exercise, I’ve been a fan of that for a while .. and this was echoed by this nice piece of encouragement for National Fitness Day (who knew that existed?)
I came home, mowed the lawn, weeded the beds, sorted a few bits out before getting on with the day’s (paid) work! No wonder I feel a bit weary tonight!
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.