Exercising my way to better health

Exercise has always been an important part of my life. I’m one of the ‘lucky’ ones who enjoys physical activity so I don’t find it difficult to get motivated to move. Obviously that changed, albeit temporarily, after my seizure. While we were figuring out what disease or disorder I had, I was told to rest and not exert myself. Then there was only around a week between my diagnosis and the brain surgery … and I wasn’t about to run the Tan straight after having my head cut open.

I was also on so much medication post-op that I really didn’t know where I was half the time. The steroids in particular, whilst amazing at reducing cancer-related swelling, made it almost impossible for me to sleep more than a couple of hours a night. Until my dosage was gradually reduced and my sleep started improving, I could barely muster the energy for a short walk to the shops.

I started slowly with small walks around my local park and stretching at home. One day I got a call from my Goodlife gym to check-in. They had suspended my membership at no charge when I told them what was going on and they wanted to know whether I was ready to come back in. I said yes, but probably didn’t go for my first session until a couple of weeks after that. Then I got another call from a personal trainer there called Bella. After chatting to her and sharing my story she suggested coming in for a super light trial with her as my PT. The first one would be free, I had nothing to lose, so I agreed.

As soon as I met Bella I had a great feeling about her. She was super friendly and sweet. She was tiny but perfectly proportioned … a little pocket rocket! She told me she had worked with people who suffered from seizures before and that as long as I was committed to taking my medication, she thought regular exercise could be fantastic in my healing journey. And I knew she was right. But I was scared. I knew, especially at the beginning as my body readjusted to intensive exercise, that I was at risk of seizing if I over-exerted myself. So I had to trust Bella to push me enough to get results, without going too far. And whilst it probably took a few weeks, three months later I trust her completely. She knows I always work hard, so if I say I need a break between reps, she tells me to take my time.

We have a lot of laughs during our sessions. I find Bella hilarious and she appreciates how much I laugh at her (in a good way!). And she’s helping me get results. When I’m at the gym on my own I do cardio, so Bella and I focus on strength and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). My body shape is changing, I’ve got more muscle tone and less fat and I feel strong, which is a great feeling!

Whilst obviously I’m past the point of exercising to reduce my risk of contracting cancer, I’m convinced it has played a huge part in my healing process. It helps me maintain my energy levels and to sleep, helps me manage my stress and makes me feel light on my feet. And apart from those first few sessions where my body was like ‘WTF are you doing to me?!’, I always walk out of a session feeling better than when I walked in.

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