I get winded from climbing a flight of stairs. This is pathetic. Aside from having two tumors in my neck (which have no impact on my lung capacity) I’m not sick. I’m just lazy. I’m a skinny, out of shape weakling. I’ve always hated exercising.
I’ve been a dancer and choreographer most of my life. But to me it never was exercise; it was a profession. Since my first surgery I’ve suffered from dizziness that keeps me from dancing. I feel like I’ve been evicted from the heaven of the dance world and am now walking among mortals who have to face the drudgery of jogging, yoga, and stair masters. I find exercising utterly and mind numbingly boring. I detest it.
I’ve tried many strategies to get myself to exercise. Positive reinforcement: Reading clinical studies about exercise benefits for cancer patients. Negative reinforcement:Imagining myself with osteoporosis. Guilty reinforcement: Thinking of young adult cancer patients who are too sick to even walk. Creative reinforcement: Rearranging corners of my house as workout space. Retail reinforcement: Buying a new pair of Adidas. Practical reinforcement: Creating 20-minute exercise schedules n my mind. Writerly reinforcement: Writing tips in my book Everything Changes on how to get back into exercise after surgery and treatment. None of these tricks have worked.
As a cancer patient, I’ve learned that sometimes how I think and feel about something doesn’t really matter. Sometimes in life you have to force yourself to do things whether you want to or not, like having surgery or radiation. So if exercise is boring to me maybe that just doesn’t matter. Just do it. I’m lazy and unmotivated? Just do it. Maybe this is why Nike’s slogan Just Do It really stuck. Perhaps it appeals not only to motivated athletes but also to lazy consumers like me. I originally thought that writing this blog post outing my slothy lifestyle would shame me into exercising. I don’t think so. No trick is going to work for me. I just have to do it.
Do you have a love, love/hate, or hate relationship to exercise? How does illness impact your exercise choices?
Check out Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s for tips and recommendations on how to safely exercise after surgery and treatment.