Belly dancing and next steps with exercise
This week I officially graduated from the Living Strong Living Well program (LSLW) – sponsored by Stanford University and the local YMCA (nothing to do with Lance Armstrong). I must say that the program has been a lifeline for me. It got me to the gym and strength training shortly after my lowest time. I did my first class on my birthday back in early February. Looking back at the data from the Fitlinx tracking system, I see that I was leg pressing 60 pounds back in February. I’m now pressing 150 pounds. If I had had to pay for the program I likely would not have gone, and for that reason alone I’m going to donate some money to support the program. It made a huge difference for me, and I want to pass along that difference to others.
The LSLW program has helped me regain a lot of my strength, but towards the end I was ready for it to be over. In general, I hate exercising indoors. Going to the gym has been a means-to-an-end for me. I went to the gym to get stronger, so that I could do the things I want to do – like hiking and biking. At some point, however, the focus needs to change from getting stronger at the gym to doing more of the actual things I like doing. I am reminded about bike touring advice, and how no amount of training can replace time in the seat.
And with that, my focus needs to change. I’m debating whether or not to continue my membership at the Y. I had originally planned on continuing, but I wonder how much I will actually use it? How much will I wish I was spending more time on the bike rather than in the gym?
One thing the Y has that I wanted to try out is a belly dance class. I used to do belly dance, and I have always loved doing it – but that was before neuropathy and surgery. Last night I gave it a try. It was a little bit crazy, but also great to do. I definitely felt like I was working on some muscle groups that have not yet been worked on! I also felt a sense of familiarity with some movements and frustrations with others. I do think that it is something that I’d like to continue doing – mostly because it gets me stretching and strengthening in ways that is exceptionally good for my back and core. I need that. I am thankful that LSLW has helped me get back enough strength that I could successfully navigate the belly dance class.
I have also been looking at the variety of free programs available to cancer survivors. I’m planning on attending a weekly strength and stretch class, in part because I know the instructor is awesome, but also because I feel like it is exactly what I need. I’ve thought about yoga, but I’m not strong enough to hold many poses for any length of time. Again I think of means-to-an-end. Is Yoga something I want to do because I enjoy it or because I feel like it is something that I need to do to feel stronger? Unfortunately, I think it fall more into the latter than the former. Belly dance, on the hand is something that I really enjoy doing.
At this point I don’t know what my future exercise plans will be. Since my fall is looking crazy busy, I shall have to wait-and-see, but I definitely plan on staying active. I’ve gotten back in the pool and am swimming again – and starting to enjoy it too.
To the fellow survivors who are reading this blog, what do you do to stay healthy/strong post treatment?