After having Hockey Guy in 2002, I did what many other moms do. I bought a jogging stroller and got out for morning walks and runs to help lose the baby pudge. Baby pudge looked adorable on him, not so much on me. Then I started doing a 5K each month, and that was a lot of fun. We went as a family, and I would walk/run and the little guy loved his rides (most of the time). Through two more pregnancies, this is what I did for exercise while pushing babies in single and double jogging strollers, and mixed it up with yoga at home. We walked to the grocery store, the park, around the neighborhood, the zoo, and botanic gardens.
As the boys got older and went off to school, I got stuck in a chair in front of a computer screen for many hours a day for work, and you know what happens when life takes that turn: less movement, and the pudge creeps back. It’s sneaky, and sometimes you miss it until that awful morning when your favorite jeans feel tight and you promise yourself that you won’t stress eat and you will do the treadmill or bike before sitting down to work each day. So I did, and I had mixed success, so I committed to being even more diligent about what I ate, even though I’m a good scratch cook and my diet was already pretty healthy by most people’s standards. (Except for the stress eating part.) I even started swimming laps, which I thought was pretty awesome because I am not a swimmer at all, and I wasn’t even embarrassed to be in my swim suit.
In December 2012 I got a call from my doctor—they had found something in my mammogram. It’s probably nothing, she said, but she wanted me to go see a specialist as a precaution. It was just two weeks before Christmas, my grandmother passed away a few days later, we had family coming for the holidays; things were a bit stressful. And there were so many Christmas goodies everywhere.
So the next month I went to meet the specialist, who spoke the word biopsy, and I started to get a little more worried. And a week later, after an ultrasound biopsy and a stereotactic biopsy—on my birthday, no less—I got the call I never wanted. Happy birthday, Andrea, you have invasive cancer. By this time I was so stressed I had the opposite reaction—I could barely eat anything—and pounds dropped like crazy. After surgery was done and I’d had time to recover, and we got the wonderful news that I didn’t need chemo, the stress started to fall away. I felt pretty good and started walking again, and I made a goal to get back into the pool to work my arm.
Then I started my prescribed five years of hormone treatments, and life turned upside down again.
Some women do really well on the hormone treatments and have a few tolerable side effects, but I’m not one of those women. For the last year I have fought to keep myself healthy in spite of the side effects, including but not limited to exhaustion, weight gain, taste and smell disruptions, body aches and pain, and complications with other chronic conditions. I had to adopt a cancer eating plan to help keep me from gaining weight, and I have pushed myself to walk even on days when I felt like I couldn’t go any further. And I found some wonderful walking buddies, because having a friend to chat with while exercising is an excellent motivator when my body would rather have a nap.
I’m currently on a brief break from hormone treatment, and boy did I need that. I almost feel like my old happy self, and I actually want to exercise and eat again. So I’ve been working my body almost every day for the last two months. I even managed to do a three-mile walk last week and paddled a kayak for a few hours the week before. One year ago—even three months ago—I could not have done either of those. And next month on June 21, I’m doing a 5K!
So I’m in training for The Fit Foodie 5K Race Weekend in Fairfax, VA, the first of three race weekends in 2014 sponsored by Cooking Light and Health magazines. They even invited me to be a Fit Foodie Ambassador for the event! Me! The woman who could barely walk around the block a few months ago because cancer treatment was kicking my butt. This will be my first 5K since starting my new life with cancer last year, and I’m pretty proud that I’m already walking that distance after just a couple months of regular exercise. I won’t be one of the early finishers, that’s for sure, but getting through it with my head held high will be enough for me.
The weekend is all about healthy food, exercise, and having fun. They are offering several events June 20 – 22, including the Gypsy Soul Celebrity Chef VIP on Friday night, the 5K and Love DC Chefs Experience on Saturday, plus Celebrity Sunrise Yoga or Power Systems Obstacle Course Bootcamp and brunch on Sunday. You can register for events individually, or sign up for the whole fun weekend. The theme for the weekend is “Calories Burned. Calories Earned.” Boy, can I identify with that! I will enjoy working for my meals on Saturday at the race and Sunday at yoga.
One thing that I’m very happy about is that the event is also benefitting City of Hope, a leading treatment and research center for cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases. City of Hope will receive a donation of 10% of all race entry fees from the 2014 events in Fairfax, Austin, and San Diego.
As one of my readers, you can take advantage of a 10% discount off your advance online registration for the race and any of the other events, just enter my discount code ANDREASRECIPES when you register. And make sure you check out the website and the photos from the inaugural event in San Diego.
Hope to see you at the race!
[Disclosure: I am a member of the Cooking Light Bloggers’ Connection.]