Archive for December, 2012

Change is Coming!

Hello, loyal readers 🙂

I haven’t been posting much here, but I have been doing a ton of writing.

Second Chance FitCenter and Change Is Possible are getting a HUGE overhaul, and I’ve been working like crazy behind the scenes, getting it ready.

Moving, changing, reorganizing, re-prioritizing, etc., etc.

It’s not a new year’s thing — the timing is coincidental 🙂

In the mean time, if I see something and HAVE to share it, I’ll post it here, but otherwise, the only post remaining is to let you know where I’ve moved to (once it’s ready) and what’s going on that way.

If you want to read articles worth sharing that cross my path with health and fitness-related themes, please subscribe to me on Facebook — that’s (Sorry—I don’t accept friend requests from total strangers.)

Hope to see you in the new digs in the new year! In the mean time, celebrate, reflect, plan, be safe, be happy, be healthy!

Guest Post: What I Learned While Caring for my Wife Through Cancer

I received a request for a guest post from a reader who identifies with some of the writing about cancer.  I like to publish anything I can that might help others who find themselves on the cancer bus, whether as a patient or a caregiver, so I accepted his request. 

Without further ado, here is what Cameron learned during his role as a caregiver. (His wife’s name being the same as mine is a complete coincidence.)

My wife has often remarked that she can’t imagine what it must have been like for me as her caregiver when she was diagnosed with cancer. I hope that with this story I can give her a better understanding of that, as well as help anyone currently struggling through a difficult fight with cancer.

Heather’s diagnosis came three months after the birth of our only child. Lily was such a joy and we were filled with happiness to have welcomed her into our lives. We had no idea how quickly that joy would be replaced with fear and anger when Heather’s doctor gave us the news – she had mesothelioma. I watched as she cried and began to wonder how we would ever make it through this diagnosis. I was so filled with emotion that I almost broke down. It took the doctor’s many questions about medical decisions to bring me back.

I was so filled with anger after Heather’s diagnosis that I began communicating with profanity to vent my emotions. I knew it needed to stop, but it was so hard to be the rock that Heather needed. Eventually, I was able to control my temper and emotions when it occurred to me how selfish I was being. I began to understand that the last thing in the world my wife needed was to know just how scared I really was. From that moment on, I did my very best to be nothing but a stable source of hope and optimism for my wife. It wasn’t easy, but I did it.

My to-do list was so long every single day, as I inherited a multitude of new responsibilities for which I was completely unprepared. I had to work, make travel arrangements, take care of Heather and Lily, take care of our home, and take care of our pets. I also had to arrange for medical appointments and travel arrangements. I couldn’t do it all, so I learned to prioritize and accept the help that our loved ones offered. I was still overwhelmed, but this made it much easier on me. I will forever be grateful to each and every person who reached out to us with love and support during this difficult time.

The most difficult period for me was being away from Heather and Lily for two months. Following her surgery in Boston, Heather flew to South Dakota to stay with her parents while she recovered. Lily was already with them. I knew I couldn’t work and take care of Lily and Heather at the same time, so I stayed home and she went to recover and prepare for her chemotherapy and radiation with her parents. I don’t regret this decision, because it was the best one for our family, but it was so difficult. I am just so happy that we made it to a point that we had to make that difficult decision.

I saw Heather and Lily only once, for about a day. I drove 11 hours after work on Friday only to make the same drive home on Sunday so that I could go to work Monday morning. It was a lot of travel for only a few precious hours with my family, but it was worth every second.

It wasn’t easy to live like this, but I learned a lot. I learned that it is necessary to accept the help of others in a time of difficulty. Even more importantly, I learned never to regret or second-guess the tough decisions that cancer forced us to make. Rather, we learned to take comfort in the fact that we had the ability to make choices at all, as it gave us some small amount of control over a situation that often felt completely out of our control. It’s been more than six years, and despite the usually troubling prognosis for mesothelioma, Heather is now healthy and cancer free. I can only hope that our story can provide a source of hope and help to those currently struggling through cancer.

13 DAYS!

Nichol is here to share her bliss that she’s so close to being done she can taste it. . . and it tastes like candy cane.

It’s my favorite time of year! Cold time!

As you are reading this, I have less than two weeks of mile a day left. I could not be happier.

Someone (whom I love dearly) made a comment about the erratic nature of my posts. “I’m awesome!” “I suck!” “I’m awesome!” “I suck!” And said person is right. This has been a roller coaster of a year.

My life is vastly different then it was two years ago. My life is vastly different than it was one year ago. At the tail end of this year long goal of mine, I talk about how this year has almost made me resent exercise. And it has, to an extent. I hate having to do it every day. I’m obligated to this mile, I’m obligated to see it through to the very end and it has made me resent getting up and doing it.

I know I could just stop. But I can’t just stop. If you know me outside of this blog, you know that if I decide to do something, and really do it, it’s going to get done. Sometimes that makes me awesome, and sometimes that makes me a mental patient. I have thought about quitting, over and over. I’ve taken a day off here and there (sick, back injury) but at the end of the day (the end of the December 31st day, to be exact) I am going to be so proud of myself. Hell, I am already so proud of myself.

I make jokes about it too. I say that I am never exercising again, but those days I had to stop, those days that I couldn’t even start? I not only felt guilty, I craved the activity. I’ve been sick for the last week, but I kept pushing forward. I tried to stay in bed but I couldn’t. I had to do something.

Does that mean I will continue exercising/mile a day, everyday in 2013? No.

What it does mean is that my body and my brain need the exercise. It needs it more than it did before. The scale hasn’t changed as much as I’d hoped, my body is still a hot mess, but this body of mine now has endurance, it has stamina, it has strength and muscle and definition I have never seen before.

So will I mile-a-day for two years? I can’t. I literally can’t. The schedule I was working this last semester is continuing in January and it was just too much. That won’t be an excuse for not working this body out. Even if it means parking extra far from campus or hitting the elliptical for 15 minutes, or doing an hour and a half of yoga once every two weeks.

I feel that I’ve finally crossed the threshold where exercise has not become something I do as a challenge or as a way to get skinny. I will continue to exercise because I FREAKING LOVE IT.

A Dabble in Essential Oils

The Big Man caught a bit of whatever is going around. The Kid has a touch of it, too. I was determined that I wasn’t going to get it … but that was just crazy talk.

So we all had a bit of congestion/stuffy nose, and some coughing. Nothing too serious, but not healthy, either.

The biggest problem was that we’d wake each other (or ourselves) coughing.

Segue to—

I have heard and read a fair amount on the amazing properties of essential oils and have just never given them a try.

But with this coughing problem, I remembered a tip I’d seen for shutting down nighttime coughing with essential oil. What better time to try it out?

We used eucalyptus oil. It is not advised to use it straight, as it can cause skin irritation (and probably other issues, but I don’t know a lot about it). The only oil on the list of those recommended that we had on hand was olive, so that’s what I used.

I put two tablespoons of olive oil in a little container with a lid (for storage) and added 15 drops of eucalyptus oil. At bedtime, I took a cloth wipe from the stash, rubbed some of the oil mixture onto The Kid’s feet, and put socks on him. I did the same to myself.

We both slept really well!

But his socks chafed (they had an elastic band in them), so I didn’t put them (or the oil) on again the following night. He didn’t sleep well.

Next night, new socks, used the oil: good sleep.

There it is, friends! That is all the evidence I need.

I posted about it on Facebook, and a friend said that she uses a diffuser instead of a topical application. Haven’t tried it, so I can’t say. You would need to be more amenable to the smell for that, but many of these oils smell really nice.

Give it a try!

20 DAYS!

Nichol is enjoying not having to do anything but run miles and work. Here she is to tell you about them.

Hi friends. I’m down to my last 20 days of mile-a-day. It is going to be such a relief to have this monster of a goal behind me. I think it may have been infinitely more awesome if I didn’t also have to go to class and intern for the last four months of the year. That was so rough.

I also made a goal to run one mile each day until the end of the year, with my last few class/interning days as walking exceptions. I got sick one day. And the two others? I was hanging with my family and relaxing.

This goal has become such a burden and I have really been struggling with getting to the end. People have pointed out that I could just be done. Which is true. But I’ve already come so far, I would be so mad at myself for stopping now. So mad.

It’s my own brain, you know? I put so much pressure on myself. I’m definitely taking a different approach next year. I already have goals for 2013, things I want to accomplish, but I will be saving those for the coming weeks.

Here’s a teaser though: I will remain on a regular exercise routine. I will still eat healthy. I will not beat myself up about things that I eat or things that I do or don’t do.

Right now, I’m busy catching up on sleep, cleaning my house, and making sure I get in that mile.

End of the Road! (for four weeks)

Nichol is pretty tired, but she’s going to throw down some words anyway. She does not guarantee they make sense.

Hi guys!

I am going to make this short and sweet. I’m on my last week of exhaustion, so you will be getting bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Nichol for the next four posts.

Today marks my last walking mile day of the year. I have been okay at completing one running mile from the first of December. I had an extra walking day, but I was having quality family time.

So I’ll be back next Wednesday, full of energy, well-rested, and oozing miles run. Hope you are having a fantastic week!

Side note: Congratulations to my sister Lisa and her girlfriend fiancée Amanda who got engaged this weekend. Love you both so much!

When Should I Speak Up?

When you change your lifestyle, or at least any significant part of it, and it yields good results, you want to shout it out from the rooftops. You want to tell everyone and anyone what you’re doing, because you want them to find the same success that you have found.

So when is a good time to volunteer (unprovoked) information about all you’ve been doing, and all that someone else could be doing?

Almost never.

I would say never, but there are always exceptions tucked in dark corners, so I’ll say almost never to leave room for exceptions.

Do you remember yourself, back before you started to make changes? If you had spent a meal with someone, and they critiqued the food and your eating the entire meal, would that have changed what you ate? My money’s on NO. But it would have made you resent the person and perhaps do what you could to avoid eating with them again.

You become “that person.”

I’m sure there are things now that people could preach at you about that you’re just not ready or wanting to change. Everyone has different priorities.

For example: on Thanksgiving, I didn’t eat any turkey or gravy. Everyone there already knew I’m vegetarian, and no one — including me — said anything about it. I also didn’t eat any dessert. When offered, I said, “No thank you. I’m skipping sugar this weekend.”

Was there anything on the table I could have commented on? Um, yes. Probably everything. But we didn’t gather at Thanksgiving to eat a well-balanced healthy meal and discuss the merits of doing so. We gathered to be together on what has become a holiday spent with family.

If anyone had asked my thoughts on any of the dishes, I surely would have answered them carefully but honestly. (Carefully because someone in the room prepared each dish. It would be rude to cut them down, especially in front of everyone else.) If anyone had asked why I was skipping sugar, I would have told them. (Empty calories were a reason, but I had bigger reasons. Everyone just assumed I was “being good.”)

But no one asked. So I didn’t volunteer. And it’s OK. If people want to talk about it, I can talk for hours 🙂 But only by request.

The other piece is: if people ask me how I do what I do, then of course, I’ll tell them. I start in not too much detail and allow room for questions. It’s easy to launch into a soliloquy, but that’s typically not what people are looking for.

Again, it serves you well to tread lightly in many areas, and I don’t usually argue much when people say, “I could never [do anything healthy].” Of course they can. They haven’t chosen to do it yet. But it’s not likely that me pounding them over the head (with what amounts to guilt and shame) is going to change their life — or our conversation, or our relationship — for the better.

If you’ve made an obvious body transformation, people will ask if they want to know.

Everyone is on their own path. Let them.

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