In July, it will be three years since I had major surgery to remove my bowel and rectum and to make an internal pouch called a J Pouch. This surgery was the last hurdle after ten years of living with Ulcerative Colitis which disabled my life completely. Since this time, I have been on a journey to become fit and healthy AND improve my confidence and feel more feminine (bowel disease has a tendency to destroy all of these things). I talk about this a lot on my blog, particularly as part of my Finishing School which shares some of the things I've learned on my journey to being feminine and fabulous, in the hope of helping others do the same.
|Me just after my operation|
When you suffer a long term illness, which culminates in major surgery, your life and health become that much more precious and you take far less for granted. You are never more acutely aware that being fit is essential to maintaining good health and/or improve on bad health.
This doesn't come easily for me as I HATE exercise. Loathe it. Would rather eat a sticky bun and veg out with a good book then step foot in a gym but, unfortunately, this doesn't make one fit.
As well as recovering from my op, I had also started to suffer headaches that would see me popping ibuprofen and laying down far too much. I don't have the luxury of swooning onto a fainting couch and being revived by my servants with smelling salts. No sirree. With two boys, five and seven, demanding my attention, and a determination that I will not let another health issue beat me, I knew I had to be proactive in tackling my health and fitness.
After a few trips to the Drs and eventually a trip to an Osteopath, it became clear that my posture was to blame for my headaches, and my surgery and years of doubling over in pain had completely destroyed any good posture I may have had. I did a little work on it with the Osteopath and it improved, but you know, I hate exercise. 20 minutes a day in my lounge doing stretches......sooooo dull.
I wanted to be free of the headaches, be more generally fit and improve my posture which aside from causing me pain problems also looks dreadful and for a lady who loves to wear vintage as I do, looking hunched over is not an option.
Then I got lucky and six months ago, we moved from the UK to the San Francisco Bay Area, Northern California. Well, it was all change here. There's no evidence of the USA's obesity crisis in this part of America. They're all flicky haired, yoga bodied, fitness freaks. Freaks is not too strong a word. To see someone around here wearing anything other than gym gear is unusual and the things they do! You see them riding all sorts of strange contraptions, running in shoes that look like gloves, cycling up mountains that I couldn't even contemplate walking up and generally living a life which goes something like this:
· Coffee Shop
· Zumba Class
· Coffee Shop
· Play with the kids
· Coffee Shop
· Gym Class
· Coffee Shop.
It's a hard life eh?
It helps enormously that I happened to make friends with two ladies who love the gym and yoga and they helped introduce me and ease me in. I'm (surprisingly) super unconfident when it comes to doing things like this for the first time.
Okay, and the sunshine helps. A little.
And the fact that around here, exercise comes hand in hand with a low fat version Yerba Mate (pronounced martay don't you know!) helps too.
I have discovered that there's an exercise for everyone, even me. Right now, I favour yoga; for you, it may be swimming, or dancing, or football, or running. I've had to try a lot of dull exercise to get to one that works for me and who knows - yoga may stop working for me but until it does, I'm going with it.
My physical and mental health are THE most important things to me as without them everything else falls down. I believe that if I can bounce back from an illness, get fit and be healthy whilst being a Mum to two small children, anyone can. It takes determination and probably a lot of support but if you're reading this and you're not there yet, I urge you to keep going as it really is the best thing for you.
I'm now off to kill myself with some flow from Down Dog to Yogi push ups. CLEARLY I'm insane..........but fit and healthy with it.
Firstly, thanks to Lottie for telling her story today. I'm sure you agree that she has transformed her appearance in a relatively short time. What her story proves - in my opinion anyway - is that, once again, the things that work best are different for everyone. Most importantly, it's things you enjoy, that you'll keep doing even when the chips are down, that work for you. The challenge is finding what that is for you!
Do you have any experiences of recovering your fitness and health after a major illness? Feel free to share your experiences via the comments below. My guest posters really do appreciate the messages of support they get from readers.
If you would like to share your fitness story, then please contact me on Twitter or email me on the address on the About Me page. Posts can be partly or fully anonymous, or if you are happy to be named, I will link back to your blog. All contributions are really appreciated so do get in touch, even if you feel yours is not a worthwhile story. If it's a personal experience, it is. And I mean that even if you have failed at something, because it is still YOUR fitness story and you learned from it. If you want to read previous posts in this series, click on the My Fitness Story... tab above and they are all linked on that page.
Thanks for supporting My Fitness Story... and do come back for another guest post next week.