Thursday, May 11, 2006

Eat Right, Exercise, Die Anyway

I once worked for a man who laughingly told me about the wisdom he found on a bumper sticker: "Eat Right, Exercise, Die Anyway". I think he liked it so much because it helped him feel better about the fact that he DIDN'T eat right, and he DIDN'T exercise. Of course, sure enough, because he was a heavy chain smoker, he did die anyway from lung cancer.

Those words came back to my memory as I considered the irony of my situation. A couple of years before my cancer diagnosis I had changed my eating habits. I was exercising every day - no exceptions. I was getting closer to a healthy weight and I felt great. Put those together with the standard Mormon ways of never drinking or smoking and not even drinking coffee, and I'd say I had a pretty healthy lifestyle. I was trying to avoid heart disease and diabetes, which based on family history were much more realistic health risks than some random, obscure brain cancer called "glioblastoma multiforme". "Eat right, exercise, die anyway" hit too close to home for me!

I would make a small amendment, however, to this unfortunately true statement:

"Eat right, exercise, die anyway - BUT - eat right and exercise anyway."

There isn't much I can control about my cancer, but I can control some lifestyle choices that will help me hang on as long as possible. I need to be a good surgical candidate, if surgery is ever needed again. I need to have physical strength to endure whatever treatments are needed. I need a strong immune system. Heck - I need to fit into the MRI tube!!!

And if all else fails...I need to leave behind some photos for my family that don't make me cringe! Steroid abs and multi-chins, GO AWAY!!!

I'm not getting into dietary extremes, but I am trying to incorporate as many phytonutrients and antioxidants as possible into my diet. Lots of fruits and veggies, as well as lean proteins to help heal damaged tissues. Brown rice instead of white. Whole wheat pasta instead of pasty white. Just little things like that whenever I can.

For those of you who have read from the early days of this blog, you may remember my lament over the breaking of my three-year daily exercise streak when I had my craniotomy. From that time I have had various restrictions placed on physical activity. When those started to ease up, I enjoyed resurrecting my clog dancing days and being able to pick up my baby girl. And then I had my stereotactic radiosurgery. And my high fever. Setbacks that restored some restrictions. But - hooray - I was recently told that I can exercise without restriction, provided that:
1) I ease into it; and
2) I breathe a lot to keep my blood pressure (and therefore pressure on my brain) to a minimum.

And so...I have decided to become a daily exercise fanatic again. I used the Relay For Life as my launch date, and every day since then I have done SOMETHING for exercise. Even with a nasty cold, there is something that I can do each day. The success of my three-year streak is based on a "no excuses" approach. If the question is changed from "will I exercise today" to "WHAT will I do for exercise today", then it becomes easy. Also, having a variety of exercise options helps a lot. When the weather is nasty outside, I have a treadmill and lots of workout tapes inside. I can do a short strength-training workout or take a long walk. Or we can put on our clogging shoes and dance. If I'm too sick and miserable and wiped out for a strenuous workout, I can do yoga or flexibility exercises. Just something every day, to stay in the habit.

The other day we went for a family bike ride - something we used to enjoy until about a year ago, when our daughter was born. She is finally old enough to sit with my son in the trailer that my husband pulls behind his bike. We toured the neighborhood and had a nice time, and as we returned back to our house, I alighted nimbly from my bike and wondered aloud why on earth I am still under doctor's orders not to drive a car!!!???!!!

Oh, well. Maybe driving will be a milestone to look forward to. Meanwhile, today is Day 7 of my new life as a daily exercise fanatic, and I hope to surpass my earlier streak of three years.

Gonna die anyway - someday. We all do. (Having a flashback to the movie, What About Bob?, when the psychiatrist's kid, Siggy, tells Bill Murray's character that "We're...ALL...GOING...TO...DIE!")

BUT - Eat right and exercise anyway.


Amber said...

Sigh... This has been my issue lately. I need to get to a healthy weight- but it seems so overwhelming. I need to change my attitude- but haven't found the 'clencher'. I do like the 'what am I going to do for exercise today?' thinking.

Teri S. said...

I like your "WHAT am I going to do for exercise today" thinking too. I've been trying to get back into exercising, so I think this mindset will help. Except, of course, I'll take the Sabbath Day off since we are commanded that that's a day of rest and a Holy day. If I walk on that day, it will be a leisurely walk to enjoy the beauties from our Heavenly Father that we are blessed with, rather than for exercise. Have a great day!

bryny said...

Did I double post that last comment? Sorry about that. Dang tricky these computers...

ClogOn said...

I like what you said about putting on your clogging shoes and using that as a form of exercise. I run a clogging website where we are committed to "keep clogging strong!" One of our clients, Penny Hall, who is 83 years young, uses clogging as a way to keep her blood sugar levels low. I definitely agree that having a variety of ways to exercise is the way to go - and clogging is a great option! To find out more about what clogging is go to ClogOn!