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How I Made Exercise Fun After Surviving Cancer

The important thing about exercising is doing something that you enjoy look forward to, it’s important to make it enjoyable.

I remember going for a walk and barely having any strength to go up and down the street. That was in 2014. It's now the end of 2016, And I’m almost able to walk as long as I used to, I'm almost back to my normal levels. I was never crazy about doing cardio but I found a way to enjoy it. I realized that I either had to involve myself with other people or turn it into a game and I did both.

Going to a class at the gym isn't very appealing to me. First, it's in an enclosed indoor space with florescent lights. Second, I have to pay for parking which I don’t like. After I got over those two minor reasons to not go to class, I started to really get into it and appreciate what the classes offered.

Being around people keeps me from turning off the yoga video on my computer and find something else to do. Having a teacher guide me through the steps even though I’ve done it a hundred times before allows me to follow the instructions without having to think about how long to do something or when to do it.

I didn't like the type of yoga that was repetitive, with constant motion and very little pause. One reason was that I wasn't sure how to hold the poses and I was constantly looking around to see if I was doing them the right way. I was used to power yoga; you hold poses for a long time. I've come to appreciate Vinyasa/flow yoga because I can escape in a way, halfway listening because I already know what to do--I am just guided to the motion.  

Being in class also forces me to stay the full hour. One habit I’ve stopped doing is looking back at the clock to see what time it is, I’ve realized that it doesn't matter and it was a habit that took away from the experience. Now, I set up my mat so that I can’t easily see the clock, with a banister blocking it or way up at the front of the class directly in front of the wall that the clock hangs on. I no longer have that distraction.

I also do peak interval training, running and walking. This means I jog for 2 minutes to warm up. Then I do an interval: run for 30 seconds, then walk for 1 1/2 minutes. There are 8 intervals total. Working out in short bursts of energy, then cooling down speeds up the metabolism. I also notice that I get a better workout this way than simply jogging at a slow pace, which I find boring anyway. The 30-second bursts of exercise also pushes your body, you can increase your running speed by doing this.

After going for a run-walk, I feel great. If I start off feeling angry or grumpy or just down, I feel so much better by the time I’m done. It wards off cravings and I sleep better. When I sleep better, I don’t wake up grumpy. And when I don’t wake up grumpy, it’s a win-win. I’m happier and my interacts with people around me are better.

I first started playing tennis about 10 years ago. I was lucky enough to have someone to play with and available courts. We were both learning together and after playing a couple times a week, I was noticing improvement. So much time has passed since then that I needed to get myself back up to speed. Since most of my energy is during the daytime, especially in the morning, I had to find a way to do this on my own.

Because of my budget and my time limits, I started to practice at handball court. I didn't have to deal with finding a partner, finding a time that works for both of us or one of us canceling.

The closest court to me isn’t in the nicest area. There’s debris scattered about on the courts, sometimes trash, it’s dirty. I drove out there for the first time and saw that it was situated in right in a neighborhood. There are houses directly across the street on all sides and the streets are narrow with limited parking. It didn’t feel too safe, but I am usually not chicken about that sort of stuff. So, I go ahead and hit the ball around for a while. When I'm done, I head to my car and as I drive off, I see a young guy who looks like a gang member. He walks out of his house which is across the street from the court, and onto the sidewalk and stares me down, mouthing something to me as I drive off. I think to myself that this isn’t such a good idea to come here anymore, that was unsettling.

So, I start searching online to see what other options I have. I quickly realized that there are very few handball courts that exist and the next closest one was a 15-minute drive away, which doesn't sound long but I know that this slightly longer commute is going to keep me from staying consistent with my practice.

I decided to go again anyway and take my chances. Almost half of the time, I see someone rifling through the garbage bins or a homeless person milling about in the park.  I start to pay attention to see if I need to be worried, but it's never a problem. I've been going to practice 2 to 4 times a week. I haven't run into the gang-banger looking guy. No one bothers me. The drive to this court is all but a few minutes. I'm getting better each week. I'm building my strength and my energy; I hit a little bit harder, sprint a little faster and take shorter breaks.  This progress has been in very small increments over a year and a half. Sometimes it didn't feel like I was improving, but when I did notice, I felt victorious. When I continue to feel and see the benefits, there is an optimism in me that is contagious in a way. It touches other parts of my life, making things seems possible, dissolving worries and opening up a whole world.

My Best New Habits The Year I Was Declared NED—2016

Almond-Coconut Granola Recipe

Almond-Coconut Granola Recipe