From Bed to Ben Nevis
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has had a significant impact on my physical health and fitness. It has also made me appreciate and want to challenge myself to experience and try new things. In honour of this and to help me on my road to recovery, and with a bit of help from my friends, I have set myself (and them) a challenge. On the year anniversary, of finishing chemotherapy and treatment, we will scale the three highest peaks in the UK. We are unlikely to do it as the proper challenge in 24 hours, as that may be bit too much!!
Here I plan to chronicle my progress towards that target and share more about my personal challenge. Currently my treatment continues so the date of the event is yet to be decided, but with my new fitness tracker watch in place and knowing how much I am able to do at the moment. I am hoping to be able to gradually increase my activity levels over the next few months.
My Physical Journey
I signed up a my sister, best friend and better half up to the challenge and with the help of my new fitness tracker watch could begin to see how much of an uphill battle it would be. In March, I managed an average of 2300 daily steps, 4% of the estimated number of steps I will need to be able to do for the challenge (although there were definitely no hill steps included).
I had two really positive days this month, where I managed to top the 5000 mark in number of steps achieved, amazing what friends can help you achieve. Although there are still low days, that is to be expected, and I know it will take time before I am able to be consistent in the number of steps and amount of physical activity I am able to achieve. In April, I improved my average daily step count by nearly 700, which I am very happy with. Still no hills, but 2% closer to that final step count!
This month was full of ups and downs, I had a positive start to the month and managed to do another two days where I topped the 5000 mark and seven days where I achieved over 4000 days. Unfortunately sickness later in the month followed by chemo on the back of not being fully recovered led me to register my lowest average day count since I have started recording to. But I know this journey isn’t an easy one and like everyone out there trying to do the same, it will have its ups and downs. There is positivity in the fact that despite my illness I still achieved the same average this month compared to last month. I still have a long way to go before I am in a position to climb those mountains, but what an achievement and journey it will be.
So this month there have been some real highs. I achieved one day ,thanks to best mate trip to London a whooping 11,288 which combined with some family days out of over 6000 steps, I managed almost 20,000 steps more then any other recorded month to date in this journey. Now don’t get me wrong, I have had some really low days too where I have literally felt like my body has hit a wall and the fatigue is insatiable. Those days are really hard! I have had to take on more of my usual childcare role due to other half having significant work pressures, and nursery runs add quite a lot of steps to my daily routine. But I rest when I need to and encourage myself to be active when I can. This month I have also managed a few Yoga sessions (not as many as i hoped but it all helps) and a couple gentle gardening sessions. This all combined has jumped me up to just over 7% of my end target that need to be able to manage. Still away to go but its on the up!
My trip to London was really enjoyable but it really did bring home to me how hard a journey this is going to be. By the end, I was struggling to climb the stairs up to the bridge and walk back to the station. I got a few funny looks from strangers as I granny walked up them. But I did it, and although exhausted when got home and could feel every muscle in my body, I rested and I was proud of myself. I didn’t shy away from having a good time, just cos my body isn’t 100% game. I’m determined to get myself back together, and its gunna be a real challenge and a long journey. But I will do it. There is just too much life to live.
This month has been much more of an emotional rollercoaster than physical for me. As many of us will know, emotional ups and downs impact on your physical capabilities. I was on target for averaging over 4000 steps per day, and then after my final chemotherapy, Bob took one last punch and a bout of sinusitis lasting over a week towards the end of the month knocked me off from that target. The positives though is that I managed to maintain my average step count achieved in June. Once again I managed a few Yoga sessions achieving longer sessions this month compared to last month.
The biggest achievement this month, is that I officially finished chemotherapy and officially in remission. This means that we now have a target date!! For me there were a number of big milestones that happened in completing my chemotherapy that all occurred over about three week period. They were, my last chemo session, removal of my PICC line and results of my scan. Each of these mountains will represent one of these massive milestones. I can already see that this will be a very emotional challenge to achieve. So all being well weekend of 12th July 2019 will mark the start of my three peaks challenge. I have a very long way to go but the main focus now is about rebuilding myself; emotionally, psychologically and physically.
What a difference a few weeks can make, I am definitely starting to gain more energy and getting a bit of a spring back into my step. My main issue is definitely endurance but as the month has gone on I have seen small improvements in this already. This month my priority was to try and gain some consistency in my abilities as oppose to having great days where I managed lots and then crashing and burning for few days. I set myself a target of 4000 steps a day (roughly speaking a 1000 steps equates to 0.5mile), and I wanted to build up to being able to achieve this 5 out of 7 days of the week. This week I achieved that goal which I am really stoked about. At the beginning of the month I managed 3 days of 4000 steps, middle of the month 4 days, and last week of the month 5 days. Overall this is a 15% increase in my activity levels for the month!!
In addition, to this I have managed a few yoga sessions, and attended my first aqua fit class which was hard going but was enjoyable. Although as yet there has been no impact on my weight, I have noticed improvements in my posture and feeling that my muscles are more switched on then they have been for a long time. I have also signed up for the colour run 5k next year, which looks super fun and be good starting fitness activity before we climb the three peaks a few months later.
Its been on the whole a good month. I wanted to aim for 4500 steps a day, building up as last month to achieving this 5/7 days of the week but my fitness app had other ideas. They only go up in 1000 step intervals!!! so the new target was set…5000 it was. I achieved this on 19 out of the 30 days of the month, managing 5/7 days by the end of the month. That equates to 63% of days. compared to achieving it on 54% of days last month.
On top of this, I have started weekly aqua fit class. I have set myself the target that when I can complete a class without looking at the clock, then I am ready for aqua Zumba! And there has been improvement in this, the first class I looked at the clock after 10 minutes and every 10 minutes there after, and the last one managed 20 minutes before looking and only looked 3 times in total. To me all of these may seem small but they are achievements in themselves. They help to demonstrate to me small improvements, helping to keep me motivated and engaged. I find aqua exercise a really good place to start especially as it has been significant time since undertaking exercise as well as the impact lymphoma and chemotherapy have taken on my body. It works my muscles hard, but the water is soothing and helps to reduce impact. In addition my cardiovascular system has experienced stress from the chronic anaemia and this exercise works by cardiovascular system without putting it under too much stress, giving me confidence to exercise again. I am starting to see improvements in this area too which is really reassuring with my average heart rate daily sitting more often in the 80s then in the 90s or 100s.
All in all it has been a positive month, and even with a little blip in the form of a throat infection that lingered a bit too long for my liking I was still able to continue to press forward with my physical programme, hit the goals I set for myself and move onwards and upwards. For the next month though, I want to gain consistency, as I feel to enable myself to make longstanding changes I need to embed changes that enable me to make my target daily step counts into my day, every day. So for October I am continuing to aim for 5000 steps per day, but am aiming for this level on 90% of the days.