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.