After a double mastectomy in 2012, complications and four years of reconstructive surgeries, I spent a lot of time lying around recovering. As a result, I gained weight. I wasn’t able to be active, and this coupled with being on meds for depression made for a fluffier me.
And a more depressed me.
I’d never been overweight, except for immediately after having my kids, but I’d always been able to slim back down. As many of us know, age as well as trauma to the body can slow things down immensely. It was the single most difficult experience I’ve ever gone through.
I can’t even tell you how many surgeries I’ve had just since the mastectomy. Probably somewhere around ten. There were complications, things failed. Thin skin, infection, implant extrusion, revisions, fat grafting. It all took a toll, mentally as well as physically. I did not have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. For that I am extremely grateful. Despite the multiple surgeries and disappointments, I still consider myself blessed and extremely lucky. My mastectomy was preventative. I know several people who were not as lucky and had to go through things infinitely more terrifying and difficult than what I had to endure.
It has made me a stronger person. I don’t take things for granted any longer. Life must be lived.
In August of 2015 I decided I needed help getting to where I wanted to be. I saw a documentary on Ernestine Shepherd, the world’s oldest female competitive bodybuilder. Listening to her tell her story of battling depression, high blood pressure and ill health after the death of her sister, I was inspired. I handed a photo of this woman–nearly 80 years old in the photo below–to my trainer and said, “I want to look like that.”
After stopping a medication I’d been taking for depression and myalgia-type muscle pain once my doctor told me the number one side effect was weight gain (seriously? wtf, how does that not depress you?) I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. It forced me to be accountable. I immediately began to feel better. Although the physical changes take longer, the mental benefits are immediate.
I began working out with the trainer three days per week, setting attainable goals each month and making small changes to my diet. It was all done very gradually. And it worked.
Once per month we took measurements to see my progress (or lack thereof) and what areas needed more attention. Each month saw more small changes, though there were a few times we didn’t see much in the way of change. This told us that we had to tweak something somewhere. I look at myself kind of like an ongoing experiment. As the one year mark approaches, I have gone down 7 pants sizes and lost nearly 30 pounds. While I have accomplished a lot, I have a long way to go.
My aim was to lose all of the extra fat I’d gained, gain muscle and get stronger. I feel SO MUCH BETTER than when I started. I am still actively working toward that goal. It is a daily struggle. Most workout-related updates are seen first on our snapchat and longer, more detailed workout updates are seen here on the blog. I hope you’ll follow along and share your workout journeys as well!