Thursday, 1 March 2012

Iron Will

Yesterday morning, I taught an intense but really fun step class. After class, I went to the changing room to wash up; change and blow dry my sweaty hair. I know that sounds gross, but I had another class later in the day, and if I washed my hair after every workout, I’d be styling and blow drying way more than I want to.

While I was in the changing room, a young woman came up to me and asked if she could ask me an “ab” question. I said “absolutely”, fire away. She asked me how she could lose her belly fat. She explained that she had had a C-section three years ago and was still struggling to lose the weight around her tummy. She lifted her shirt to reveal the ugly fat, but in my opinion, it wasn’t bad at all…a little extra skin we all get to keep along with the bundle of baby joy. I showed her some exercises right there on the floor of the changing room and she told me about her current exercise routine. I talked about strengthening the transvers abdominal muscles using the exercise ball and how to increase core strength with planks etc. and I assured her that she looked great and was on the right track with her cardio and strength training program. She thanked me and left and as she walked away I wondered if she had any idea how beautiful she was and how her belly fat paled in comparison to the rest of her beauty. Most people would be captivated by her gorgeous smile; big blue eyes and wavy hair…belly fat? What belly fat? Who is going to notice the little roll around her waist when they are staring at her face?  I also thought about Mike and how he exercises in a desperate attempt to extend his life and maintain some independence. Most of us exercise to look good…feeling good is just a bonus.
When I got home from the gym, Mike was just coming in from the garage where he rides his stationary bike. I asked how his ride was and he said, “Great!” He said he felt good and that he is still strong cardiovascularly and his legs are strong and with a smile he said, “Even though I can barely walk.” He told me he rode his usual 10 miles at level 8 (out of 10) and then said again a few time that he felt great.

Mike believes that a good diet and exercise are very important for his condition. Mike went to Toronto in January to visit his family for a couple of weeks. He had a great time, but didn’t keep to his diet and exercise regimen and when he got home, he couldn’t walk without help…he couldn’t really do anything without help. We both were very alarmed at how quickly his health declined, but after a few weeks of being back on his schedule, he improved…what a relief!
Mike attributes his ability to ride his bike to a strong cardiovascular system and strong legs. Which is true however, I attribute it more to his mental strength, an iron will, a positive attitude and a desire to live…not just exist, but LIVE!

I am very privileged to watch and learn as Mike continues to display such courage and determination. It’s a humbling experience too. I have to admit, I am just like the woman in the changing room; I have complaints about my body and want to improve how I look…what woman doesn’t?  But I’m learning to be more appreciative of my health; my ability to move, to exercise, to walk and jog and run around the house with my graddaughter on my back while the dog chases us.
Thanks Mike for your compelling example and for doing what you can to be with us for as long as possible. I am so proud of you!

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