Bad days and bad days

WHAT?? It’s like I don’t even KNOW that all fitness posts have to start with positivity and motivation. ūüėČ

I don’t know about you… or maybe I do, but everyday does NOT start out all “conquer the world” and positive. Especially when you are dealing with sickness (any kind).

I have breast cancer.  I own a gym and teach fitness for a living.

So I have lots to say about cancer. ¬†I don’t give it the honor of calling it “The Big C”. ¬†Fuck that. ¬†I tell my friends “I’ve got ‘the cancer'” just to make fun of a stupid disease we have most likely caused by cumulative laziness / ignorance in farming, manufacturing and legislature. I’ve had people say “I heard your devastating news….” but it’s NOT devastating, not for me. ¬†I mean many days have been devastated due to treatments and their side effects, but not my life, not my heart. ¬†Some people’s lives ARE devastated. ¬†Who doesn’t know someone who’s died of cancer. ¬†I have several family members! So, yes, it’s shitty.

Maybe it’s social awareness or emotional maturity I am about… It’s a luxury to meet people with the presence of mind to say “Oh, that’s too bad! ¬†How are you doing?” only to proceed by listening to how I am actually doing. (Thank you) I don’t need you to make it a bigger deal than it is… or a smaller deal than it is. ¬†“OH! ¬†Yeah… I BLISTERED from MY treatments” Everyone knows the “one-upper” LOL!. I gotta admit, that’s kinda me. I love sharing my stories and comparing notes, but I’ve learned to just let your story be important, because sometimes, I need MY story to be important. There are people who are too afraid to ask or engage at all. ¬†People who don’t want to be a burden so they don’t call or text. ¬†There are people who hear my diagnosis and pray at me. I see prayer as a conversation between you and god, and if you and god are having a conversation AT me… well, it feels weird. ¬†I have given MUCH thought to each person’s type of response and decided that none are wrong. ¬†Each person processes and reacts to triggers differently. Most people are giving what they feel is the best ‘gift’ or response they can. I suppose each affected person also likes different ways of being treated. My best guess is most people want¬†empathy without sympathy, help without complete care-taking (unless needed!), and validation that however bad / good they feel isn’t bad or good. ¬†It just is. ¬†But relationships are super hard. ¬†We always get SOMETHING wrong. Well, except me…just ask my husband ūüėČ

I am nearing the end of my 6-week daily radiation treatments. ¬†That seems extreme for what the Dr originally told me wouldn’t even NEED radiation. But once you get in there and see what’s really happening, things can change. ¬†HOORAY for modern medicine and Dr’s doing their best to help make people better!

I really expected me to be super optimistic as treatment is nearing the end. But TODAY, today I woke up super sad. ¬†Today is the StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor Certification in Chicago. ¬†They aren’t hear often and that (and RKC) are the “Gold Standard” of kettlebell certs. ¬†I saved my money, I trained and I got breast cancer. ¬†DAMN IT! So, as I watch other kettlebell enthusiasts posting on social media about this big iron gathering, I feel like I am Cinderella, not allowed to go to the Ball. And.. there is no fairy godmother. I’m just not going.

OH! ¬†I know,… you feel compelled to tell me; “It’s just for now. There will be another one. ¬†Maybe it’s for the best. It just wasn’t in the plan….” Thank you, because I know you want my heart to not be sad. ¬†But… shut up. ¬†I’m kinda not stupid. ¬†These things are all apparent to me. ¬†I am still super bummed. ¬†I will get over it. ¬†And with my disposition, probably in about an hour. ¬†All it took yesterday was a blooming lilac bush, for heaven’s sake! HA!

Yesterday, I decided to cancel my BodyCombat AIM1 course in May. (Per Doc’s recommendation…my body just won’t be up to it by then) It’s taken me years to muster the courage to take this advance instructor module. Hard to believe I have suffered from low self worth! I was more afraid of being found out to be a bad instructor than excited about the opportunity to learn. ¬†I am different now. ¬†But now I can’t go.

I’m not one of those fitness people who longs for the days when Step classes were new and we wore body suits of spandex and leg warmers. ¬†I am new to the world of fitness. ¬†I ran track/volleyball/dance in high school. ¬†Cross country skied and biked as an adult. Then after many years of illness found myself fat and hopeless. ¬†You can read about that story elsewhere. Today is about today. But that perspective may help you understand how at 54yrs, I feel that EVERY moment is precious. ¬†Every opportunity to get better and be strong (enough) is to be seized because there is a big downhill slope on the horizon! ¬†(We are NOT talking fresh powdered slopes, either!) Other instructors my age are feeling the wear and tear on their bodies, contemplating next steps and “can I keep doing this”. ¬†I am pressing my face against the screen door screaming “Let me at it! Let’s go! ¬†Let’s GO!”

Where am I going with this? ¬†It’s just this. ¬†I’ve had a few bad days…. it hurts all the time, my chest muscles spasmed so badly yesterday that I went to the hospital to make sure it wasn’t a sneaky heart attack, I am gaining weight like CRAZY and only craving comfort food… and I’m not able to train the way I am used to.(like… ugh, hardly any movement at all!) ¬†So…hello calories and HELLO poundage. (SIDE NOTE: This morning Guy was looking at the burns under my arm and said “oh babe…you are really swollen here.’ ¬†Then he compared it to the other side and said ‘Oh. it’s the same.’ with a sadness to his voice because he KNEW my next comment. “I KNOW!! IT’S FAT!”

I hear you. ¬†You are thinking “Beth, this is just a time in your life. You are strong. You will get back there. Don’t beat yourself up.” I know these things. ¬†But today. ¬†Today sucks.

Why does it take me an entire afternoon to write what it takes my brain 2 seconds to process?? IDK, but it does. ¬†So as I processed all this junk, there was a breath of space and I heard myself say, “Ok, what’s positive about today?”

Guess what? THAT list is SUPER LONG!

  • My kids.
  • Lyrics to my kids’ songs showing me they ‘get it’
  • Center-Fit friends
  • Non Center-Fit friends
  • I am alive
  • I am not stage 1,2,3 or 4 cancer
  • I don’t need chemo
  • Lilacs are blooming
  • Lilacs are blooming
  • I get to see my son and his girlfriend tonight
  • I have a husband that ADORES me…and if he could, would carry me to bed when I am tired. (I still ask him every night tho!! haha!)
  • My friends (and VERY long list of REALLY amazing people. ¬†no, really amazing)
  • Coffee
  • CX WORX, that I can do when I can’t do Combat
  • Clients
  • The people around me at Starbucks getting life done.
  • The man at Starbucks whose niece died of breast cancer taking time to encourage me.
  • Pam, who keeps trying even though she can’t breath.
  • The Radiators at Rush
  • Dr Reddy, Ellen and Dr Chang (Sp?)
  • People to take time to run a fundraiser to keep us from losing our house and business
  • People who pray at me, cause they are giving what they think is the best thing they have to give.
  • Lilacs are blooming
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Aloe gel
  • Hair color(s)
  • Jake who meets me for coffee and listens to me complain and then makes me a smarter trainer
  • Lundie who doesn’t miss a DAY talking to me
  • Businesses and acquaintances who understand when I say “I missed a payment because I forgot, because I have ‘the cancer’ and can’t keep everything straight”
  • People who forgive me forgotten appointments
  • Holly who volunteers her time to help me organize and frees up time for me to think
  • Jodie and Alina for thinking more of me that I could have imagined. ¬†Their husbands for supporting whatever it is they do.
  • Babies that weigh LESS than the hematoma I had up to 3 weeks after surgery! ¬†(No, really! OMG!) Thanks Tara, that little baby made me giggle!
  • Kettlebell gurus I can learn from online
  • music
  • Netflix and series I can binge watch as needed.
  • ice cream
  • People who hardly know us that want to make meals
  • I am not where I used to be. (see photos below!)
  • John came home safe from war… twice.
  • Friends who know JUST what colors to color your hair (Megan!)
  • Summer (well, this is tentative…)

I keep pictures like this around to remind myself of a few things:

Always have fun. ¬†Never miss an opportunity to let a punk rocker put ACTUAL glue in your hair. ¬†Don’t worry what you LOOK LIKE! Things could be much worse than they are right now. ¬†I worked HARD to get myself in shape, and I will be doing the same thing in a month or so…. for now. ¬†Radiation, Party, Rest.

mohawk cornerstone super women



Body Image vs Usefullness

It’s¬†good for your mindset to see things out of context every once in a while. Today while driving to work I saw a man running alongside the road. He seemed to be working really hard, lumbering, really. (He could have been a super hero bounding along!) As I got closer I realized that Oops! it’s¬†a woman. A very, very muscular woman. I immediately thought to myself “Wow! She’s a power lifter – or a bodybuilder trying to lean out or…?” And I drove on.

And then it occurred to me how horrible she looked running. And she couldn’t have been out running for enjoyment, because that did NOT look fun…and then I felt guilty for thinking bad things about a stranger who spent so much time building an incredible set of muscles! All I could think about was how bad and out of place she looked running. But here’s the thing, her intention was obviously not to build her body for running. Why was I even judging her on running? Have you ever seen a skinny person in the gym? Long lean muscles, not very bulky‚Ķ they¬†step up to a big weight and ¬†lift. But it’s anything but elegant. There’s no power or rawness. You’re probably hoping they don’t hurt themselves. But perhaps the person I just described has built themselves¬†a runner’s body. They didn’t build their body to be amazing at lifting heavy things. Why am I judging them on what they built their body for? Well, of course, why am I judging at all is a better question.

But this isn’t about what other people think it’s about what YOU think about YOU and why YOU are working out.

I have clients ask me all the time how do I lose weight between my thighs? How do I lose weight in my tummy? How do I make my butt look bigger? How do I make my butt look smaller? I want to look more like “THIS” (shows picture of someone much taller/younger/shorter/photoshopped… )Etc. etc.

Aside from talking weight training and asking about nutrition or diet, I tell my clients the most important question is “What do you want to use your body for?” ¬†What are you building? Do you want to be able to run and jump and play with your children – your grandchildren? Do you want to be able to work a construction job? Are you planning on competing in any specific sport? Do you have a sport that you love so much you want to condition your body for that? Why are you building your body at all? Then I suggest the most CRAZY notion: …what if you¬†let that dictate what your¬†body looks like?

train fight

What if we moved away from pure aesthetics, random social norms, and over-marketed over-Photoshop models’ bodies and focused on the usefulness of our own body? What if we didn’t judge ourselves based on our thigh gap – or lack there of. ¬†Or in comparison to someone we think is fatter or skinnier… ?

I am not talking about the new “Love your fat self” trend. ¬†Now, don’t get all offended. ¬†YES! ¬†Love yourself! Whether or not you are healthy. ¬†But you don’t need to love what is UNHEALTHY about you in order to love yourself. ¬†You don’t even have to hate it. ¬†You can just decide “I want to change this unhealthy thing about my body.” (or not) simple. factual. ¬†no judgement. But we don’t need a movement telling people it’s ok and beautiful to be unhealthy weight wise. ¬†It’s ok to be you. ¬†Regardless. Please, let’s stop celebrating the ‘curves’. ¬†Start celebrating YOU.

A new friend told me this story today. “I used to belong to a private Facebook group about loving your curves‚Ķ Or something like that. I thought, ‘Yes I can get into that.’ ¬†And so I try to love my curvy size 16 body and then I tried to love my curvy size 18 body. And then I noticed that my size 18 ‘s¬†were getting snug. That’s when I decided that this thinking was not helping me!”

Here’s what I think: it’s absolutely important to love yourself. Your self has a body, so it stands to reason loving your body is a part of loving yourself. I know, rocket science. So why is this so hard?

I think we’re too fixated on providing solutions. Mainly quick, sound-byte type solutions. Who can’t get behind “loving me as I am”?? Seriously, if you can’t you are actually either a bad person or sick or obsessed…just generally unhealthy. You all know what I am talking about. People are afraid to say “fat is unhealthy”. It’s not ‘shaming’ people. It’s science. I will not take the time to list the ways being fat is unhealthy for you. Google it.

Am I ashamed of or think less of people who have excess body fat? Nope. I kinda don’t care. I mean, if I truly believe that YOU have the power to change you in ways that you want…I have less personal investment. I don’t need to involve my ‘action-activating’ emotions in how you choose to live you life. (Aside from being a little sad, but I don’t dwell) I hope, tho….I hope you will ‘get it’ and find your way to a body that is useful to you for a really long time.

And this leads us to my ideology around fitness. My goal has always been to help people change their lives (in ways they want). When I’m approached by a client who wants less hips, less thigh gap, less arm fat – my first question is ‘why?’ (YOU have to understand your motivation…even if it changes) My second question is “What do you want to use your body for?” Me? I want to be able to lift a human if they need it, I want to be able to not die from falling off a cliff (Cliffhanger movie) I.e. Lift my own body weight. I want to run with my grandkids and I want to box/kickboxing as long as I can (and that means my sides are going to be thick – no skinny waist for this girl!) But, that’s my answer. So¬†I need to train slow twitch muscles for strength, fast twitch for speed and agility, core for overall strength and balance as well as cardiovascular endurance… Now it doesn’t matter so much what the scale says, what size I am wearing and whether or not I have a thigh gap! I continually look to improve what I have (my body) for the uses I have chosen. (Do I want a skinny waist MORE than I want to box? Do I want a thigh gap more than I want the energy I will lost by brining my body fat to an unhealthy low to shed as much fat as possible?)

Your turn. What do YOU want to use your body for?

Let’s train for that.