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Published On: Sat, Dec 8th, 2012

Staying Fit During Cancer


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-by  Tamara St. John; M.B.A.

I started working out back in 2007 to lose weight and I knew one very important fact about myself, the gym is boring.  So, I embarked upon ice skating partly because I always wanted to learn how to ice skate and also because it is a great activity to lose weight while having fun.  I am all about fun, so if something can’t hold my attention, (i.e.; the gym), then I am not doing it! 

After I had lost the 40 lbs through ice skating and changing my eating habits, I  found out that I had cancer in 2009.  At this point, I realized that exercise was even more important to keep my body in condition while fighting cancer.  I also found out that your skin is your largest organ and sweating through exercise is a way of detoxifying the body of harmful toxins within the body. 

 I also discovered hiking in the summer of 2009 and started hiking like a fiend!  I enjoy hiking because it brings out the explorer in me, love being out in nature, taking in the sunlight, and breathing in the fresh air to increase the oxygen within my cells.  Hiking has been great therapy for me during my cancer battle and has also kept me in great shape.  Hiking is not only great exercise but it is also emotionally stabilizing.  I never get bored of hiking because there are always new things to see, such as deer, squirrel, bighorn sheep, foxes, bobcats, and even snakes! 

If you want to lose weight, a great piece of advice is to walk 10,000 steps a day; this equates to about 5 miles per day.  Start out slowly, and do what you can, and work your way up to 5 miles.  If you only can walk for 5 minutes or once around your block, it’s a start and is better than sitting on your butt in front of the television.  By starting with baby steps, you will find that before you know it, you are walking at least an hour a day.  Another suggestion is to do something you enjoy.  The gym can sometimes be monotonous and boring.  Chances are that if you find an activity that you enjoy doing; it will be easier for you to stick with it during your weight loss and beyond.  The best way to begin is to start with an activity that you have always wanted to learn; such as, tennis, dancing, skating, swimming, yoga, etc.  You can often find inexpensive classes at your local community center or community college.  Even if money is tight, remember that hiking and walking are always free! 

I still ice skate and hike to keep in shape.  I have found that if I stop exercising and go back to my old ways of eating junk food, the weight comes right back on.  In my case, (because of my health compromise), I had to make a complete lifestyle change of healthy eating and exercise.  I don’t believe in dieting because it is a “yo-yo” and is ultimately ineffective.  Making a “lifestyle change” and adjusting your eating and exercising habits is essential to staying fit and fabulous into old age! 

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