Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the day “February 9, 2014”

The Challenge Of Getting Fit


For at least a month now, I have been going full tilt at the gym, trying for the umpteenth time to get myself back into shape. I am not motivated by the “people who are overweight are more likely to have cancer or diabetes” or “having to buy an adjoining seat on an airplane”. Quite simply, I know I feel better when I exercise.

My problem is not will power or guilt. Whenever I try to get back into an exercise routine, like what I did back when I was in high school (okay, I am not in denial either – it has been thirty years since then), I usually have some sort of setback. That setback can be health related, or lack of motivation related. Just the other day it was power related as the gym suffered a rare closure due to power loss from a huge ice storm that we had recieved.

Breaking from the stereotype of patients who undergo chemotherapy, looking emaciated, I actually gained weight, more than fifty pounds. I suffered from “pumpkin face” as my weight ballooned due to my increased appetite from the prednisone I was taking to counteract one of the other chemo drugs I was getting. By the time I was done with my treatment, I weighed over 200 pounds for the first time in my life. Just as I got through my treatments however, I was just as determined to get the weight off. I lost sixty pounds within four months, half the time that I was on chemo with strict diet and exercise.

Over course, aging slowly and a destroyed thyroid (from radiation treatments) helped me to regain the weight, and again I made yet another attempt to restore my weight and physique. I was successful at it too, if it weren’t for the tightness in my chest. In spite of being in good condition, a major heart issue was discovered and required emergency heart surgery (see “CABG – Not Just A Green Leafy Vegetable).

So, following that surgery, I had to give yet another shot at getting my body back into condition. It was a bit of a slower process because I needed to be careful with issues concerning the heart. But my determination was still the same, to get back into the condition that I was in before the surgery. But then I started seeing my doctors for follow ups, and then realizing that I was dealing with late developing side effects from my cancer treatments, for the first time in my life, I was beginning to feel defeated. Conversations with my doctors became more about what I should not be doing. Exercises that gave me strength and power were now of the list of things I could do. Slowly, I began to let the rest of my physique suffer and it seemed as if the late effects were also progressing a little more quickly.

Two months ago, I took the bull by the horns. No more “can’t”. I have been posting my accomplishments on Facebook, not necessarily as bragging, but rather as accountability and to show, that you can, and still need to take care of yourself. I am hoping this week to accomplish two goals. First, tomorrow, not only will I have achieved the calorie burn I was at when I had my heart surgery, but I will also be at the weights that I lifted. Emotionally this is a huge milestone for me.

The second is a shirt. I plan on wearing a shirt on Friday that was intentionally purchased a size smaller than I normally wear. So, not only am I feeling better physically, mentally, I am hoping to look better as well. Like my doctors told me when they first discovered my late effects, they cannot reverse the damage, but they can slow them down. And that has been my challenge to get fit.

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