Remember, one of the most important things you can do to reduce recurrence risk and improve outcomes is to get moving and keep moving more often than not – even if it’s only for a short amount of time (which depending on how you execute it, could be considered a half-ass workout.)
Begin with the end in mind.
Props and full credit to Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People for those words of wisdom.
It’s good advice.
In some situations.
Let’s say you come to my house to bake a cake with me (vegan of course, because that’s how I bake/cook/eat – don’t worry – you’ll adore it.)
We choose the largest bowl from my vintage Pyrex collection and begin to dump random ingredients into it (without measuring or even discussing what sort of cake we’ll make.)
We’d be careening toward a disastrous – not to mention failed and not delicious – outcome that you most definitely wouldn’t adore.
So, in a from-scratch-cake-baking situation, beginning with the end in mind is excellent advice.
The final destination we want to reach; a lip-smacking, full-of-nutrients cake must be determined in advance.
But when it comes to fitness?
There is no final destination.
And that’s the message I want to leave you with as I wrap up this 6-part series.
Why Your Fitness Journey HAS NO END
I’ve been a personal trainer for 20 years.
As to why women are not always keen on exercising?
I’ve seen and heard IT ALL.
Every excuse. Every fear. Every hesitation.
But there inevitably comes a day when the excuses, fears and hesitations get pushed aside in order to plunge headlong into the world of exercise.
All in the quest for one-single-thing-and-then-I-can-stop.
“I HAVE to lose this weight so I’m going to start _______________.” (Insert exercise of choice)
A nickle for every woman who’s said that to me would quite nicely fund my dream of living in Europe for a year or so.
A dime for every woman who two weeks later stopped ______________ (insert exercise of choice) because she didn’t. . .
- lose enough weight
- get a flat enough stomach
- go down a big enough pant size
. . .would quite nicely fund me living in Europe (in splendor) for the rest of my life.
Because here’s the unvarnished truth.
You simply cannot make exercise a part-time, temporary part of your life as a “one and done” approach to health and expect to get any sort of benefit out of it.
- Not weight loss.
- Not improved energy and stamina.
- Not reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence.
- Not better outcomes from breast cancer treatment.
What to Do When You’re Just Not Feeling It?
We all have them; days when we didn’t get enough sleep the night before, when our energy, focus and body feel depleted, when we ache as the result of a medication or procedure.
On those days, it’s perfectly fine to half-ass your workout.
Half-ass’ing your workout is getting it done, just not at the level you typically would.
A half-ass workout is NOT the same as a missed workout.
A missed workout is exactly that.
And missed workouts are, in my opinion, to be avoided at all costs.
You need to be moving unless you’re. . .
- under anesthesia (like, you don’t even know what’s going on)
- recovering from a procedure and your doctor directs you NOT to be active
- are in possession of a doctor’s order to completely avoid any and all activity
Because for most people, a missed workout starts the slippery slope toward an extended period of missed workouts.
Remember, as I wrote in this post, one of the most important things you can do to reduce recurrence risk and improve outcomes is to get moving and keep moving more often than not – even if it’s only for a short amount of time (which depending on how you execute it, could be considered a half-ass workout.)
As long as you keep up the consistency (52 weeks/year doing some level of physical activity), it’s perfectly reasonable to have days where you ratchet down the INTENSITY, shorten the TIME, or choose a more gentle TYPE of exercise – that’s the FITT PRINCIPLE at work.
Which is another way of saying, there’s always a work-around for “off days”, so you have no excuse not to keep going!
Fitness Series Wrap-Up and Take-Away’s
To sum up all the goodness of this series (it was fun to write, but it’s been even more fun hearing from readers!), here are highlights that will make a definite impact:
- Exercise has a biologic effect on the body, meaning at the cellular level, changes take place that support risk reduction and improvement in your strength and/or stamina.
- Levels of insulin, estrogen, and certain growth factors associated with breast cancer development and progression are reduced through physical activity.
- Surprisingly, exercise is not a panacea for weight loss, yet it can serve to help prevent and reduce obesity. Obesity is closely linked to insulin-resistance, a condition where the body’s cells fail to respond to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. Elevated levels of circulating blood sugar (vs. dietary sugar itself) are linked to increased breast cancer risk.
- Reduces inflammation, a condition that some research suggests may increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
- Improves immune system function, potentially by improving circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely to do their jobs efficiently.
2. The FITT PRINCIPLE can be manipulated in an infinite number of ways to get the results that make the most sense for your specific fitness goals.
- Frequency (duration), Intensity (level of effort), Time (how long) and Type (cardio, strength, balance, flexibility, etc.)
3. A stronger body better tolerates surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy.
- Prepare for your upcoming treatment as you would any physically challenging event. Taking a PREHAB approach to your fitness routine as soon as you’re diagnosed can help improve your outcomes, while at the same time potentially help reduce risk of recurrence, which can occur up to 20 years post-diagnosis. (3)