Women Overcome More than Breast Cancer

This post has been a long time coming.  I am a bit tired of the pinking which occurs in response to Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Earlier this month, I saw this tweet which really spoke to me.

 In addition to DVAM it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Watch Pink Ribbons Inc & stop buying pink stuff #rethinkpink pic.twitter.com/vEqXXFCuTm — Lauren Chief Elk (@ChiefElk) October 6, 2013

Not that there aren’t organizations out there which work hard to provide research support for breast cancer as well as those who provide support for women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment and their families.  But, there are so many products out there which appear pink-washed this month that aren’t actually associated with anything except profits.

Because of that, I felt that I should make you aware of some of the reasons why women get hysterectomies and organizations which support them.

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Endometriosis – this occurs when the endometrium grows outside of the uterus. Consider a donation to the Endometriosis Association which spends 88% of their operating budget in support of research, education, and support for effected women.

Ovarian Cancer – Consider donations to the Teal Ribbon Ovarian Cancer Foundation OR the Henrietta Lacks Foundation.

Uterine Fibroids – This is what I suffered with.  Tumors that ranged in size from apple seeds to grapefruits.  Young African American women suffer the most from this according to a report in the Journal of Women’s Health discussed in today’s Huffington Post.   As an African American woman and a fibroid sufferer, my money goes to the Henrietta Lacks Foundation.

I say all this to say that women are overcomers of so much more than breast cancer.  So on this Faith and Fitness Friday, I leave you with the following song which reminds me of how far I have come because of my faith in my recovery.

Being a Hysterrunner is What’s Beautiful

Last night as I have for most Tuesday nights of the past year, I ran with Twilight Tuesday’s Baltimore Black Girls Run group.  After the run, I led our brief ab workout which we started doing in May.  When I was cleared to go back to doing core work in March, I could barely do 10 crunches.  They were brutal.  When I planked with my husband in Brooklyn the week before the Cherry Blossom, my abs were sore for days.  Now I can do several types of crunches in sets of 1 minute several times a week.  I also can get through Bikram yoga and other core work in ways I wasn’t able to before.  I may not have a flat stomach or be an elite runner, but I truly can say that I have grown as a hysterrunner.  I have embraced the mantra of NO UTERUS, NO PROBLEM and it’s been beautiful learning about myself in this way.

Last night, I was reminded that there are other hysterrunners out there and others who one day may be hysterrunners or hysteryogis or anything.  You never know when someone may need to hear your story or in this case, my story.

One of the newbies to our group joined us last night.  She has been training for the BWC using the Couch to 5K and attending their sessions.  She made it through 2.5 miles with us in 35 minutes.  It was the furthest she had gone.  She then stayed for the ab work.  When we were done, she mentioned that she was so glad that she had come out because she had begun to get discouraged with her progress.  I shared my story with her which prompted her to tell hers.  She has had some health scares, including a hysterectomy in 2011.  She then proceeded to say that some days she feels as if her body belongs to an 80 year old woman.  Dawn & I talked with her at length about how with exercise and proper nutrition she can begin to feel better.  She was so happy to have found a group of supportive women that she almost cried.  I was glad that she was able to feel supported and hope she returns.

You see when I realized that my hysterectomy was inevitable, I searched for information about fitness and exercise post-hysterectomy.  I barely found anything.  I decided to start this blog because I knew there were others like me who needed to hear that it was possible to become fit and come back to your best self even if you weren’t the fittest chick before surgery.  It is my hope that my little blog can reach someone and support them in the way that meeting the newbie last night and sharing my story in person did.  I am still on this journey and I invite you to continue to join me.  I know that I am what’s beautiful.  I thank Under Armour for reminding women of that with their challenges.  But I also know that there are so many other women who are not a part of the Under Armour women community who need to be reminded that they are what’s beautiful.  For my hysterrunners out there, remember…

No uterus, no problem!

No uterus, no problem!

A Hysterrunner in San Francisco

The week after Memorial Day, I travelled to San Francisco for the Society for Prevention Research conference.  For those of you who may be new to my blog, in my non-running life I am a prevention scientist.  This is my fourth time attending this particular conference.  There is always a group fun run/walk on the Thursday hosted by the organizers which I’ve participated in each year.  But this year was different.  Last year, the conference was in Washington, DC.  I mostly walked the 3 mile loop from the hotel to the Mall and back.  This year, I am in much better shape as a hysterrunner.  So I did so much more than participate in the run/walk.

I arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon.  I checked in to the hotel and grabbed my yoga gear.  I had arranged to take a Muscle and Flow yoga class with my friend and Under Armour Women sponsored trainer Dr Shauna Harrison.

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The view from my hotel room!

I had been wanting to take this class with Shauna for a while.  When I realized that I would be in the Bay Area, I knew this would be my chance.  The train ride to get to Redwood City was uneventful.  The class was AWESOME!!!  It is not your average yoga class.  It is a fusion of different styles of yoga coupled with hip hop and R & B music.  If you are ever in the Bay Area, make it a point to get to this class. My only complaint was that about halfway through the class, jet lag hit me like a ton of bricks.  It got really hard to focus as my body started to shut down.  I had to spend a little time in half lotus pose resting to catch myself.  Other than that, I loved this class.  Shauna is going to be in the Baltimore area again at the end of this month.  I am going to try to get to the Hip Hop Cycle class that she’s teaching while she is here.  I was so tired when we left that I forgot to take a picture of us together.

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Above is the view from the train & a pic that Shauna tweeted about the #sweatpink laces I brought her.

Wednesday was spent completely involved in the conference.  I presented that day so there were no additional exercise breaks.  Thursday, however, more than made up for it.  I was able to get in TWO RUNS for the first time ever.  The first run was 3.39 miles from the hotel to Fisherman’s Wharf and back as a part of the fun run/walk.  I was able to explore the Embarcadero and even saw sea lions.

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The second run was possible thanks to a twitter connection.  Mizuno was hosting a Sunset Run in conjunction with Fleet Feet San Francisco.  There was a tweet about the Sunset Run which led to a series of tweets and DMs between me, Fleet Feet, and Seth and Jeff of Mizuno Running.  The Sunset Run was at Chrissy Field along the Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge.  The weather was perfect.  Every one there remarked that it is usually chilly and foggy when they host them.  I was glad that the weather held up.  The run was from 3-5 miles to the base of the bridge and back.  I was able to get 4.5 miles in total.  But, the best part about it is that I was able to try some cool new Mizuno Wave Inspire running shoes.  They felt great to run in.  They gave me the support that I need as a moderate pronator but they were so much lighter than my Sauconys.  I felt like  I was cheating on Team Saucony but that Mezamashii feeling was great.

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I wish I didn’t have to give back the shoes.  I really want to know how they would feel on a long run.  I did get a really cool glass and washcloth to bring back East with me.

If anyone had told me last year that I would not only be completing the fun run while away at a conference but also that I’d be fitting in time to do yoga and running twice in one day, I would have said they were crazy.  Now look at me!

How do you fit in exercise when you travel?  What is your favorite way to sightsee?  Tell me about it in the comments.

What A Difference A Year Makes…

Today is National Running Day 2013!

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Last year, after my high blood pressure scare, I was cleared to run on May 30th.  My first run with Black Girls Run was the next day – June 1, 2012.  It was a celebration run as BGR: Baltimore was celebrating its one-year anniversary with a fun run hosted by Charm City Run.  It also coincided with National Running Day.  I was just excited to be running again.  I did my first 3 miles using the Galloway method that day.  Two weeks later I ran my first 5K at the Baltimore Women’s Classic.

Today, I ran just under 3 miles in less than 40 minutes which after the year I’ve had is incredible.  I may have been sidelined by health issues but I have come back.  Throughout my recovery, running has been key.  Whether I run 1/4 mile or 13.1, I am a runner.  Running has helped me to stay sane despite my health challenges and to become healthier in the process.  I am several pounds lighter and my HBP is under control.

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The pic on the left is from 6/1/2012; on the right is from 6/5/2013.

To celebrate National Running Day, besides my run, I registered for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Philadelphia.  Last year, I would have never thought anything longer than a 5K was possible for myself.  This year, I have already run 6 races out of my #13in2013 goal, including 2 10-milers and 2 half marathons.

RnR half natl running day

I am truly proud of how far I have come.  I am looking forward to continuing to become that fit chick!  I love being a hysterrunner!

Did you go for a run for National Running Day?  How has your running progressed in the last year?  Share your responses in the comments.

Travelling & Tapering

I wanted to post another Wordless Wednesday but this one needed words to go with the pictures.  I spent the weekend in Brooklyn, New York visiting my family.  Erika at Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss was kind enough to share a running route with me.  However, we didn’t have enough time to do a full route.  So my husband and I set out on a shorter, make it up as we go along, route which covered about 1 1/2 miles around my Mom’s neighborhood on Monday morning.  The route took us around Brower Park so we had to stop on the playground to get some core work and strength training in.

My core work has SUCKED since I started back about 2 weeks ago.  The night before my surgery I did my last 175 crunches (different styles).  Now, I can barely do 10 at a time of any kind.  UGH!!! Anyway, I have managed to get 2 Bikram Yoga classes in in the past 2 weeks which has helped me to ease into core work.  At the park, I worked on some push-ups and planks.  I got 5 planks in of about 30 seconds each.  My core still hurts!  Here we are:

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Me- Planking in Brooklyn

Hubby - Pushups in Brooklyn

Hubby – Pushups in Brooklyn

Since I’m tapering for the Cherry Blossom on Sunday, I have one more run left on the schedule for this week.  I will probably get about 3-4 miles in tomorrow at lunchtime around the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore.  Then, no more running to have fresh legs for the race.

What about you?  How do you train when you travel?  Any one tapering for the Cherry Blossom this week?  Let me know!

Three things I LOVE!

Of course, I love myself first. If I didn’t, then nothing else would matter. It is because I love myself that I am aware of the three things I love the most.

Family– My husband and my son truly are my heart.  I focus on getting better every day so that I can be the best I can be for them.

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I come from a decent sized family.  Talking to any of them – my parents, sisters, brother, cousins, etc – is usually a joy and a blessing that I don’t take for granted.

Faith – I can do everything through my God who strengthens me.  Battling back from my hysterectomy has taken a lot of faith that I would heal.  Daily prayer and going to Mass regularly helps me to remain connected to God.  I hope that sharing “Faith & Fitness Fridays” with you helps you to connect as well.

Fitness – I may not be an elite athlete.  But, I truly love becoming that FIT CHICK.  Whether I am running, doing Water Aerobics, or shaking it in a Zumba class, I love pushing my limits and getting physically back to the way I used to be.  I have been enjoying this journey back to fitness and look forward to the next stage.  Speaking about running…

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The guys over at the runchat have asked this week for us to post things you love about running.  So to elaborate on one of my 3 things I love, here are the things I love about being a HYSTERRUNNER!

  • I can run! It doesn’t have to be fast or far.  But, I can do it.  I have come back from 0 miles/week to just under 20!
  • It has helped me recover.  Being in decent shape because of running helped me to manage pain better immediately after my surgery.  Getting back to running post-surgery has helped me get my body back.  Slowly but surely!
  • I don’t need much equipment to do it.  A good sportsbra & my Sauconys are all I need.  Of course, being that I run mostly outdoors, I have invested in some tech gear/cold gear/etc.  But I can just get out there and run – anywhere, anytime, anyhow!
  • It’s the one thing I have TOTAL CONTROL OVER!!!  My body still has its issues.  I don’t always know when I wake up if my incisions will twitch or if I will have swelly belly and not be able to fit in what I thought I could wear to work that day.  But I do know that if I get out and run even a little bit, I feel better mentally and spiritually which is better for both my FAMILY and my FAITH.
  • I love the running community.  The online community helped me to focus when I was lying in bed recovering and could barely walk much less run.  My Black Girls Run group encourages me and pushes me to run even when I am not sure what my capabilities are.  My Road Runners Crew is always there with tips, tricks, etc.  My offline running friends are always there with personal support.

So there you have it – the Three Things I love combined with what I love about running! How’s that for a Valentine’s Day!

runners_valentine_card_i_heart_love_running-p137917693705586184bfmxk_400http://www.zazzle.com

Faith & Fitness Friday

“I ran and ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, a sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened. The triumph cannot be had without the struggle.” Wilma Rudolph

I love this quote from Wilma Rudolph.  Her story is so inspiring.  If she could become a champion after overcoming polio.  I can achieve my goals post-hysterectomy. (The lovely ladies at Oiselle have this quote on a shirt which I love to wear.  Check them out!)

This week the awesome Erika at Black Girls Guide to Weight Loss’ Friday Five is dedicated to Five Original Fit Chicks Who Deserve Your Praise, including Rudolph.

 

12/12/12

Today is a once in a lifetime day.  In fact, it is the last alliteration day for 100 years.  With all that is going on in my life, I felt it was only fitting to discuss health goals for the next 100 years.

Causes of Death 1900 - 2010

Causes of Death 1900 – 2010

To know your future, you need to know your past.  So here is a table that shows the top causes of death at the turn of the century compared to now.  The top 5 causes of death then were: 1) Pneumonia and influenza; 2) Tuberculosis;  3) Diarrhea; 4) Heart disease: and, 5) Stroke.  We have succeeded in reducing causes of death from natural causes greatly.  There are even diseases which caused death in 1900 which we have almost eradicated today.  However, heart disease and stroke are still major killers now joined by cancer.

In the 1950s, my mother had Scarlet Fever.  Scarlet Fever killed many but not my mom.  She is one that survived.  However, it damaged her heart making her susceptible to heart disease as she grew older.  Most people today have never been exposed to Scarlet Fever thanks to the medical miracles of the last century.  Heart damage due to communicable diseases is rare today.

Doctors in 1912 looked to a future where communicable diseases would be eradicated and there was a cure for cancer.  Much has been done since then in eliminating diseases with vaccinations, etc.  However, we now know that heart disease  can be prevented with healthier lifestyles.  I hope that everyone will embrace fitness as a way of eradicating heart disease.  This will be good for both your immediate and the world’s long-term future.

The average life expectancy in 1912 was 47 years old; today it’s 78.7 years old!  We are definitely living longer.  It is my hope that by the year 2112, the life expectancy is 112 years old or longer! (Purely selfish reasons – my son will be 112 in 2112!)

What steps can you take to embrace a healthier lifestyle today?  Eat a vegetable with lunch.  Have fruit for a snack instead of a donut.  Drink more water.  Get up from the computer and walk around.  Whatever you do, start today!

Never Say Never November Goals

Usually on Fridays, I post “Faith and Fitness” motivational phrases.  However, today is the first Friday of the month so I will be posting my goals for this month instead.  Hopefully, it will be motivational to someone! Smile

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This month I am truly grateful to be alive.  Yesterday, I ran for the first time since the surgery!!! Woohoo!!! I ran again today.  There’s a blog post in there somewhere but I want to wait until I get a week’s worth of runs in to provide good advice for my fellow hysterrunners.

Although I can run, I know that my body is still not ready for long distances.  I also need to get back to a normal schedule.  I go back to work on Monday so I need to balance work, motherhood, and my fitness goals while my body still heals.  That being said here are my fitness goals for this month.

  1. Running – This month I am aiming for 10 miles a week.  This is less than what I was up to before the surgery but more than I have done for the past six weeks.  I’m aiming for 3 days a week – at least one with my Twilight Tuesday BGR group.
  2. #LungesforLeftovers – Girls Gone Sporty has a cool challenge this month.  They’re encouraging us to “Earn our Thanksgiving Leftovers” by doing as many lunges each day as you can.  I can do 20 right now – 10 on each side.  I want to maintain or increase this number if possible.
  3. Strength Training – I wrote a previous post about my upper body exercises.  I will be increasing from 3 sets of reps to 4 this month at least 3 times per week.
  4. Aqua Aerobics – I’m slowly moving in to cross-training.  No Zumba or Bikram Yoga or anything else high impact/energy other than running until my body has healed a bit more.  However, my doctor said I can workout in the pool since it’s low impact.  I have signed up for Aqua Aerobics on Wednesday evenings.  It doesn’t start until November 14th which gives me time to get used to running regularly first.

november promise

The motivational poster above was my inspiration to write down my goals.  I also have goals for work and my family, etc… just like I am sure you do. What are your goals for this month? Drop me a line to let me know!

Walking Works

For women who have had a hysterectomy, the doctor usually encourages light walking beginning a week after surgery.  Usually at this point, you may still be on pain meds and using an abdominal binder so light walking is just that – easy, light walking.  It may be to the corner and back then gradually increasing to around the block.  Since you can’t lift anything heavier than 5 pounds, taking it easy is necessary.  My first few excursions out of the house meant that I had to take a nap when I came back in the house.  Some days if I ran errands, I would be wiped out the next day.  However, I didn’t regret moving around and walking.  If anything, I beat myself up because I couldn’t do more.  Having a support network through the awesome website at Hyster Sisters helped.

About 2 1/2 weeks post-surgery, I was able to get up to 1 1/2 miles of walking done.  I took a break at the halfway point.  I also wasn’t able to do it again for a few days.  But eventually I did.

(This isn’t my first time walking for fitness. I walked 2-3 miles several times a week for about 2 years. I began running because I was bored one day and wanted a challenge. I would run from one streetlight to the next then walk for the next interval. It was my own personal run/walk method way before I knew who Jeff Galloway was.  I had just gotten up to running 2 miles at a time when I developed high blood pressure.  My doctor had me go back to walking until I got it under control.  I trained for the Baltimore Women’s Classic as a walker and was only cleared to run again 2 weeks before the race.)

By 4 weeks post-surgery, I could get 2 1/2 miles of walking done without a break.  The first time I did felt AWESOME!!!! I have now been able to do so every other day for a week.  Now this progress may not be the same for you.  It would be fast if you were not a regular exerciser pre-hysterectomy.  The key is to listen to your body.  It may take months before you are comfortable moving from down the block to 1 mile to a 5K.  But, if you are consistent and listen to your body, you can do it.  If your body tells you to stay with walking and not become a runner, that works, too!

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

Race # 10September 15th, 2013
Aiming for a PR!