By: Katie Austin
Today was the day that life would take me on a detour. I had been procrastinating for some time, waiting for the perfect “tomorrow” to start working out and eating right. To think, almost two years ago I was battling breast cancer and struggled to keep food down as I battled nausea from my chemo treatments. Now, I love the taste of food and my body is paying the price. It was time to take action to become the healthier version of myself.
My intentions were good that Thursday afternoon as I took off across the Lake Murray Dam the stretches from Lexington to Irmo. I parked my car, took a swig of water and told myself that today was the day. I felt good as I walked and at times, I ran as far as I could, then walking fast to keep up a good pace. I made it to the other side in Irmo (approximately 1.7 miles) and was motivated to travel the same distance back to Lexington. I have to admit, a motivating factor was that my car was parked on the Lexington side of the dam so if I wanted to drive home, I would have to walk back 🙂
I made it to my car and as I sat drinking the rest of my water, I was feeling pretty good about starting my exercise program. I was already thinking about what I would do the next day to keep myself moving in this healthier direction, but when I woke up the next morning, things would change. I would spend the next three weeks trying to figure out what was wrong with me.
I awoke the next day with pain in my upper-right back like I have never experienced before! I had a lot on my plate that weekend and chalked things up to soreness coming from starting a new exercise routine. I ignored my back pain and didn’t seek medical attention until the following Tuesday. What would follow next was a series of doctor appointments, scans and tests to rule out whether or not my cancer was back. Talk about stressed out as I felt like my life was spiraling out of control again! They ended up ruling out a cancer recurrence (thank goodness!!) and determined that I had pulled or torn a muscle in my back. I found myself extremely relieved that it wasn’t cancer, but at the same time frustrated, worried and one big ball of stress as I just wanted to know how I could make the pain go away.
I really pondered how a simple brisk walk with short sprints over a 3.4 mile stretch could cause the pain that I was in, but then it hit me – I didn’t take baby steps to get back into shape, but a full leap forward which stressed my body out. Since completing my breast cancer fight, I haven’t really taken the time to get my strength back, ensuring that my “core” is where it should be to support my new workout. Did I really think I could jump back into life, doing my normal routine and playing sports without taking the time to ensure that I was physically ready? I have since relieved my back pain after seeing a physical therapist and reversing my bad habits that weakened my back to begin with.
Sometimes mind over body needs to be the reverse. If I can give any advice to those beginning their workouts, take it slow, listen to your body and set reasonable goals. My mistake was that I was trying to accomplish a lot in a little bit of time, which ended up setting me back several weeks. Now, I have a new focus and direction which gives me hope that I will continue on my path to better health.
“He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.”
I wanted to share this recent personal experience so that if there are readers going through something similar that it gives you hope that no matter what comes your way that, in time, things will get better. I am feeling better, healthier with each passing day and I know that I will reach my goal in due time even if it takes many baby steps to get there.
If you have a suggestion for a health program that works best for you, post it here! I hope to see some of you during my walks on the dam. I wear pink in honor of my breast cancer sisters, so I am sure I will be easy to spot 🙂