Today officially marks 4 years since my life turned upside down.
It has been 4 years since I last exercised.
It has been 4 years since I could go out and run without a care in the world.
It has been 4 years since I felt invincible.
It has been 4 since I was naive to this terrible disease.
On this day 4 years ago, I started the morning with the classic new pregnancy anticipations. I was getting excited to be a new mom. I was looking forward to enjoying pregnancy and the belly that comes with it. I was looking forward to decorating a nursery. I was eager to feel my baby move and kick, revealing their unique personality to me in a way that no one else would get to experience. Heck, I was even excited for the traditional pregnancy symptoms like the sore back and heartburn. I know crazy!
On February 21, 2013, I went for a follow up doctor’s appointment that turned into a week-long hospital stay. From the moment I walked in the door, I was bombarded by teams of doctors, numerous tests and various medications.
In the span of just a few short hours the anticipations of becoming a new mom dissipated, and numerous fears flooded in. It seemed surreal. I can't believe it has been 4 years.
This photo was taken right after I received my official ARVC diagnosis through genetic testing on August 20, 2013. This winded feeling is exactly how I felt 4 years ago on this date.
What not to say
I really hate seeing blogs that say the top 5 things NOT to say to someone going through a certain situation. Some can be silly like what not to say to a vegetarian or someone who is gluten free. Or highly insensitive things to say to a new mom, a soccer mom, a hockey mom, a sanctimonious mom, a scrap booker! Or they can be for very difficult situations, like what not to say to someone walking through a loss, or cancer.
This type of thinking is absurd to me. Nothing is ever said to be purposefully malicious, and every single person is unique it what triggers an emotional response. I have had friends walk through extremely painful loss. For one when they hear "I am sorry for your loss." they become angry and upset. For another friend "I am sorry for your loss" has no impact on them at all, but the line "Heaven just needed another angel" makes their blood boil. Everyone's experience of grief is very individual and unique. Simply remembering 5 things not to say is not an efficient way to support someone walking though a difficult journey.
For myself in this adventure with ARVC there are a few lines that get to me, but I know the heart of where they are coming from. People desire to do whatever they can to provide comfort. Often the only thing that they can come up with is a classic one liner: “There is a reason for everything,” “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” “Just stay positive” or any of the “well at least…,” statements.
Any of you who have or are walking through something difficult can relate.
With this being said I feel convicted to share the one line that is like a punch in the gut every single time I hear it! I share this not to make everyone around me feel like they need to walk on egg shells, but to help others appreciate the amazing the gift they have and stop taking it for granted!
So, what is the one line that makes me want to scream and cry all at once when I hear it???
Drum roll please……..
“I wish I had your excuse to not exercise!”
I smile, but on the inside I am screaming:
“ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!!!!”
I am treated as though I somehow just won the lottery.
How lucky am I that I never have to exercise again?!! Lucky?!!!
NO NOT LUCKY and NO I DID NOT WIN THE FLIPPING LOTTERY!!! I ABSOLUTELY HATE not being able to exercise.
Sure, not exercising may be nice for a week or two, but after the first month it gets old quickly. Not being able to exercise for the rest of my life does not just include going to the gym to lift weights or going for a run. It includes hiking with friends and family, something my husband and I use to do every weekend in the summers. It includes not being able to snowboard or go skiing as a family. It includes not being able to go for bike rides, playing tag with my daughter, or running with her at her soccer practices. Heck it often includes not being able to clean my house to the level I would like it.
Additionally, I will never be able to set a fitness goal again and hope to accomplish it! I will never compete in another triathlon, or another swim meet (I was training with Masters swimming prior), I will never train for a run. There is such an amazing thrill of setting a fitness goal and reaching it! It also means an end to my career as a personal trainer!
This is always my favourite follow up comment, well can’t you just train without exercising? … Seriously?!!! First who wants to work with a trainer who can’t demonstrate and second, I couldn’t even watch the Olympics this past summer. It was such a struggle to watch 2 weeks of individuals being able to push their bodies to the amazing levels they should be able to. To the level mine use to be able to do and is now so fragile it can barely handle walking up a flight of stairs. So yeah, a career of watching others enjoying something that has been taken away from me sounds wonderful!
Why am I sharing this?
The goal of The Complete Plate has been to foster healthy relationships with food again. I believe so strongly that fad diets have ruined our connection with food. This is an epidemic that is becoming a major issue as we are seeing new disordered forms of eating developing. For example Orthoexia Nervosa is an unhealthy obsession of being so fixated on righteous eating that people become paralyzed by fear to eat anything.
March is Nutrition month and Dietitians of Canada is battling this growing concern by promoting the theme Taking the Fight out of Food! It is an absolutely amazing campaign! Check it out and go take the pledge today!
There has been amazing awareness of taking the fight out of food and changing our paradigms around food relationships! However, since my diagnosis I have also realized that this issue doesn't just exist around food. There is a major problem with society's relationship with exercise as well! So while March is nutrition month and focusing on bringing an awareness to taking the fight out of food, I will be supplementing this campaign with also taking the fight out of exercise!
With fad diets, fad exercise routines have also ruined peoples relationships with exercise! Shows like The Biggest Loser, and the growth of Military type Bootcamps have led to people hating exercise!
There is this belief that exercise has to be painful. It is something to be dreaded, a chore. I am tired of people viewing exercise as a punishment! So much so that they would rather be diagnosed with a rare heart condition than go have fun at a barre or spin class!
It is time to take the fight out of exercise and develop healthy relationships with physical activity again! Pledge with us to take the fight out of exercise by using the hashtag #takethefightoutofexercise
Read my list of 5 reasons why you should LOVE exercise!
5 Reasons Why You Should LOVE ExerciseAside From Weight Management
There are numerous other benefits to exercise aside from the lean muscle mass it provides for weight management, which you do not realize until it is completely gone.
1. Exercise provides cardiovascular and pulmonary adaptations
I know these are some big sciency words, but essentially all they mean is that exercise can actually change the features of your heart, blood vessels and lungs so that your body utilizes oxygen more efficiently. This is means our bodies become less fatigued and performance of various physical activities becomes easier.
These changes are not just while you exercise, but can become permanent and long term as a result of a regular exercise routine.
2. Exercise improves your mood
Whenever I needed a mental release, or an outlet to burn off some steam I would go for a workout. It was always a guarantee to lift my spirits and brighten my mood. I don’t have this outlet anymore and IT SUCKS!!!
Studies show a connection with physical activity and an improved mental state. Exercise provides a reduction in anxiety, a decline in depression, and improvement in mood by increasing self-esteem and self-concept.
3. Exercise boosts energy
Exercise improves your body's ability to transport and deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues improving energy levels and endurance. As your endurance improves your stamina enhances allowing you to more efficiently perform tasks.
4. Exercise helps you to sleep
Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Studies show that individuals who complain of sleep issues, notice an improvement in the quality of their sleep when they introduce a regular moderate-intensity exercise program into their routine.
So as you can see, aside from never having a lean fit body again, I am missing out on so many other amazing benefits that exercise provides. I want people to stop thinking that I am lucky and have apparently won some absurd lottery. Start appreciating that your body is strong, and you can go for a run without fear of sudden cardiac arrest.
My hope for this post is to help people re-look at exercise, not to view it as a chore or a punishment, but as an amazing activity that is therapeutic, relaxing, rewarding, social and fun! Enjoy exercise, embrace it! It is a gift and I miss it terribly. Appreciate how wonderfully designed your body is to be able to push it to truly amazing levels!