December 8, 2016

Living The Sweat Life: Gift Ideas and Inspiration

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I’m feeling really good these days.  Really, really good.  It’s funny, at my last visit to my Oncologist, I told her I was aging backwards.  Which isn’t as crazy as it sounds, considering that I started chemo as a hot young new mom, and finished months later as a feeble, gray-faced, bald old lady.

At least that how you feel, post-chemo.  The three years since my last treatment have been about me finding myself again.  I’ll never again be that young mom who walked naively into her first (and only) mammogram, but neither am I ready for the fast-forwarding of life that the chemo seems to do.

One thing that has played a major role in my long-term recovery has been Pilates.  During chemo I relied mostly on yoga and running, but at some point – after it was all over – I started to realize how broken my poor body was.  I still had a small diastasis from pregnancy (something I didn’t really have time to address before the cancer nonsense started), and the mastectomy left my shoulders rounded and my chest tight.  I was literally curling up, curling inward, with no core muscles to speak of, and terrible posture that I was unable to correct on my own.  I would see pictures of me taken from the side or from behind and I’d just…cringe.  Something needed to change.

Ultimately, that something was Pilates.  Pilates has been more like physical therapy than a workout.  But unlike physical therapy, there’s no graduation day.  You know you’ve made a major healing step when the workouts get harder.  I spent the first year (at Belly Pilates, if you are on the mainline) rarely working up a sweat.  Instead, it was a frustrating mix of finding (and reconnecting) to my core muscles – including my pelvic floor – trying to figure out how to breathe, and fixing some basic posture problems.  Oddly enough, despite the lack of sweat, my bum and arms never looked better.

Once we moved into Philadelphia, I had to find a new studio.  Pilates is a rather….picky sort of workout.  Most studios require a few private lessons before they allow you into group classes (this philosophy protects both you and the equipment).  I wandered on in to Urban Front Pilates, and was set up for lessons with Sue.  Sue is a mom of three (including twins!!), has a dance background, and could see my “cheats” from a mile away.

She lets me get away with exactly nothing.

As a result of working with Sue once a week, I’ve never felt better.  My core is stronger than it’s ever been (even before kids), Mike refers to my bum as a work of art [snort], and my posture?  Well.  We’re still working on that.  But it’s improved dramatically.

The fact that my guys, Mike and my little ones, have allowed me – no, encouraged me –  to get healthy, to take time (and money, let’s be real) to focus on my own health has been the greatest gift I could ever ask for.  Any mama knows how hard it is to create time and space for yourself, and the fact that they’ve never once made me feel guilty…well.  That’s been everything.  So if there’s one silver lining to All That Cancer Nonsense, it’s that Mike and I have both started making our health a priority.

Now if only we could get his ski boots fixed…..

(BTW – huge thanks for the comments on my earlier article – I’m calling that guy in the Poconos stat.)

Keep reading for some seriously fun pics from my latest Pilates session with Sue, as well as a little round-up of items (for girls and guys) that would not only make perfect gifts, but serve as some serious inspiration to live The Sweat Life in 2017.

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Outfit Details

hoodie: Scuba Hoodie IV (size 4 for reference)

fitted tank: Swiftly Tech Racerback (these have fun inspirational quotes woven into the hem – so cool!) – size 4

loose tank: Breeze By Muscle Tank – size 4

tights: Fast and Free 7/8 tight – size 2 for reference

legwarmers: Mantra Legwarmers

 

Shop Lululemon Favorites For Us

Shop Lululemon Favorites For Guys

If I ever need a fool-proof gift for Mike….I head to Lululemon.  They make seriously good workout gear for guys (it NEVER smells), and both Mike and Zack have fallen in love with some of the athleisure pieces that Lululemon has made recently for guys.

xo,

S

photo credits:  Redfield Photography

Thank you to Urban Front Pilates for allowing us to shoot in the studio!  (And for kicking my butt on the regular.  Love you guys.)

A huge thank-you to Lululemon for sponsoring this post!!  I’m always thrilled to feature items that are both hardworking and chic, and Lululemon has this in spades.  As always, all thoughts, opinions, and product choices are my own.  And readers, thank you for your continued support.  It doesn’t go unnoticed, and is so very much appreciated.

 

29 Comments
  • houseofboys
    December 8, 2016

    That blue Scuba is TDF. I have been meaning to get myself to our local pilates studio owned by a mom-friend/acquaintance! Maybe I’ll head there this week…

    • Shana
      December 9, 2016

      I’ll be curious to see what you think! It’s really hard to get into (at least it was for me)….but the reward has been totally worth it. (And Amber, if you are reading this…YOU WERE RIGHT. ALL ALONG. xoxox)

  • Amanda Martz
    December 8, 2016

    I also love Pilates so so much. I’ve never felt stronger and it only gets better and better. I do it on the mat at home with http://www.matandkitchen.com and it might be something you would like to do at home to supplement your studio practice. Each workout is only 30 minutes , requires little to no equipment, and the instructor is AMAZING. Just an FYI.

    • Shana
      December 9, 2016

      LOVE this! Thank you!

  • connie
    December 8, 2016

    You look great and it’s awesome that you are feeling great too. nothing beats that! lululemon makes great stuff and I’m hoping for a few gift cards this year. leg warmers look amazing, they are in my cart along with the hoodie. you’re my favorite shopping enabler 🙂

    • Shana
      December 9, 2016

      Thanks, Connie! xo

  • Nicola
    December 9, 2016

    Aside from the awesome clothes, you’ve inspired me by showing that it is possible to be a busy mom and still find time to take care of yourself. It’s awesome to see you looking so healthy and strong!! xoxo

    • Shana
      December 9, 2016

      Wow – thank you for taking the time to leave such a nice comment! xoxo

  • S
    December 9, 2016

    Shana this post brought tears to my eyes, I also started taking better care of myself after cancer. I wish I had started earlier making it a priority. Whenever I see young moms now I want to grab them by the shoulders and tell them to take care of their health!

    As far as the clothes, I need to stop looking. This website has cost me way too much money recently. haha.

    • Shana
      December 9, 2016

      S, I hear you babe. There’s nothing like being sick for months to make you suddenly realize how our health is….EVERYTHING. I’m so happy to hear that you’re doing well, too. xoxoxo

      (And sorry about the wallet issues, haha. If it’s any consolation, I usually shopping enable myself. Gah!)

  • Christine
    December 9, 2016

    You are such an inspiration! Would you be willing to share if you have changed your diet/nutrition at all through your journey?

    • Shana
      December 9, 2016

      You bet – we made a ton of diet changes. While I was going through chemo, we gave up dairy. We’re all lactose intolerant anyway, and I had so many….uh…digestive issues with chemo (we’ll leave it at that) and dairy was making things worse. Since then, we’ve been trying really hard to eat clean. I gave up sugar for a month just to cut the habit (it was BRUTAL, which told me something), we stopped eating so much gluten, and we eat meat only occasionally. But we’re foodies, right? So here’s our compromise: We eat completely clean during the week (no sugar, dairy, gluten) and then eat whatever we want on the weekends. It allows us to feel good, but not miss out on some of our favorite parts of life: REALLY GOOD PIZZA. 🙂

      • Christine
        December 9, 2016

        Love this. Thank you! I need to make some changes and this is what I needed to hear.

  • Liddy
    December 9, 2016

    My husband loves those Great Wall pants. I bought them for his birthday a couple of months ago and he has worn them non-stop since. I had purchased them almost as a joke (he makes fun of my “fancy” Lulu stuff), expecting him to return them. Jokes on me.

    • Shana
      December 9, 2016

      YES. This is our exact story, too. The joke is totally on us…we’ve created a monster(s).

  • Liddy
    December 9, 2016

    Shana – Do those legwarmers stay up? Reviews don’t look good…

    • Shana
      December 9, 2016

      Whoa! Those reviews are awful – I actually doubled checked to make sure we were talking about the same product! Not sure what’s going on, but I’ve had the complete opposite experience. These legwarmers stay up really well, despite the fact that I have skinny legs and am wearing slippery workout tights. Hunh. I wonder if it’s expectations with legwarmers in general….you do typically have to pull them up from time-to-time, but that was true even in ballet with the classic legwarmers.

    • lola
      December 14, 2016

      Hi Liddy – I actually bought these legwarmers as soon as I saw this post (thanks, Shopping Enabler) 😉

      I was actually just coming to thank Shana for featuring them when I saw your comment. I wore them all day yesterday (layered over Zella leggings) for the preschool run/ lunch with my Dad/ Xmas shopping/ back to preschool for an evening meeting…and they were *amazing.* By the very end of the day they were slipping down a tiny bit, but I wouldn’t let that deter you. I was warm, cozy and felt pretty adorable all day long. FWIW, I’m 5’8 with long legs and I found they pulled up nice and high without being stretched to the max.

      I am definitely considering a second pair, if that helps you with your decision-making at all… 😉

  • Kristy B
    December 9, 2016

    Dear Shana,
    I can’t even imagine how gut-wrenching it must have been for you and your family to have gone through what you did, especially with having two young children and not having your family close by. Your story is brave and courageous and I wish you nothing but Optimum Health!

    You are so lucky to find such a great Pilates instructor. Sue sounds amazing! !!

    I think that is so key..I compared it to finding a great hairdresser… not all cuts and colors look good on the same person and that goes for a Pilates regimen…. thanks for the inspiration and now I’m going to try to incorporate Pilates more in my weekly life! So key for a busy mom of two little boys..ages 3 and 5…

    Also great Roundup of workout clothes too!

  • Mary
    December 9, 2016

    Thank you for this… when my daughter was born I had a health crisis (not cancer, but no fun either) and I just have never bounced back into my exercise routine. She’s 5 (ha!) so the excuses have run out, and even though I’m not overweight, I’m tired all the time and hate how it can be hard to keep up with my little ninja pirate princess. I never felt (or looked) better than when I was doing pilates, so this has inspired me to start back, slowly but surely. It would be cool if you showed some moves we could do on the reformer, cause your butt is a work of art 🙂

  • Megan B
    December 9, 2016

    I’m almost in a reverse situation. I have to have surgery to remove a brain tumor (non-cancerous, thank god!) this summer, so I’m trying to get as healthy as possible beforehand. I feel like if I go into the surgery at my very best, I’ll hopefully have an easier recovery. Plus, we are going on vacation right before my surgery, so it never hurts to use a bathing suit as motivation too! I’m super interested in trying pilates–I’ll have to check out the website in the comment above.
    I’m so glad you’re feeling great!

    • Kristy B
      December 9, 2016

      Megan, I wish only the best for you before during and after your surgery! I’m sure that’s a lot of weight to carry on your shoulders… I can’t even imagine. Good Vibes sending your way..

      • Megan B
        December 27, 2016

        Thank you so much, Kristy!

    • Mary
      December 9, 2016

      Good luck, Megan! My health thing that I referenced up there was actually a brain cyst (no cancer) that had to be drained/removed along with some spinal work on my neck, and I can only imagine what it was like for you. All the MRI’s and waiting to hear… my daughter was 4 months old and I was so scared, but also somehow stronger than I’ve ever been mentally once I knew what I was dealing with. I’m glad yours is manageable, too, and the recovery for me actually wasn’t too bad. It did help to go in as healthy, rested, and well-nourished as possible. Because mine involved the lower skull/neck, the pilates was the one thing that helped as far as exercising, once I was ready. Yoga felt risky beyond basic positions, but pilates helped with posture and upper body and neck strength, plus kept some flexibility going.

      • Megan B
        December 27, 2016

        Such great information regarding pilates after the surgery! Thanks for the well wishes! I really appreciate it!

  • Carol H Liaw
    December 10, 2016

    I LOVE THIS! I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year (at 28) and was a week away from my first baby’s due date. It’s only been 9 months since my last chemo but this road to recovery is sooo much longer and slower than I thought it would be. For some reason I thought I’d just snap back into a 28 year old and instead I feel like I ended up the other side an old woman with saggy face wrinkles to emphasize it. I’ll console myself that there is such a thing as a hot old mom with residual chemo moon face…right? D:

    You look amazing and I lovee your updates 🙂

    • Shana
      December 12, 2016

      Carol, this comment broke my heart. Nobody should have to go through this shit, especially not a 28 year mama-to-be. And yeah – the phase you are in, one year out, I thought was one of the toughest: I felt like I should be totally recovered, but NOPE. Not even close. But this horrible, I’ve-lost-my-youth feeling? It’s just a phase, it WILL pass. You’ll spend your 30’s feeling like the hot mama you really are. Promise. xoxoxo

  • Shannon
    December 10, 2016

    What a great post. You are an inspiration and a horrible, awful shopping enabler! Hah! I need a hole in my head more than I need that damn hoodie that I ordered last night (before my size sold out!) mid manhattan…. ahhhh….

  • meg
    January 17, 2017

    Is your color hoodie the heathered alberta lake?

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