You might find this surprising: I was never, ever into sports or exercise for most of my life. I liked dance as a kid and did it for much of my childhood/early adolescence, and a bit as an adult. I was the girl who thought girls’ high school sports was for aggro chicks who liked knocking each other down. I was the girl who got sent out to right field for softball in gym class and I spent my time looking for 4-leaf clovers, chatting to my best friend, who was similarly afflicted with sports-dislike.
I loved walking, always. Same with hiking. Tennis was fun, but just a little went a long way. Beach volleyball, which didn’t even happen until after cancer, is a lot of dabbling and doing skills, because there’s no league to join…and I don’t know that I’ll even join one if I could, after the pandemic. I got into gym-going to keep my partner company, and he started teaching me stuff in the weight room, and it was ok. A thing to do.
There was never a passion for sports movement with me.
I look back at the patient records from my first round of physical therapy for lymphedema and low back pain, and saw my future neck & spine issues between the lines of my PT’s notes. In 2007. I already had some loss of range of motion in my right shoulder and neck, but it was about to get much worse. Less than 10 years later, that area went through a series of cascading degenerative changes that would 100% have gotten me to consider surgery, if any of the surgeons thought surgery would fix it. (They didn’t – it took a few years of exercise and ice packs to round the corner.)
Right there, a path diverged in my life. I could have taken my fledgling interest in PT and started thinking about how to provide exercise services to women with breast cancer – and what I realize is that I might have arrested my cervical spine degeneration before it worsened to a life-changing state. I don’t feel angry at myself, I don’t feel guilt, and I don’t mourn for a thing that never happened. But I do see how there was potential for a very different physical outcome.
So when I tell you that exercise is necessary, and that it’s going to change your life in good/great ways, trust me when I say, “I understand that you don’t want to be an ‘exerciser’”. I didn’t either! But the fact is – you are an exerciser. I am. We all are. We were born to move. Your body needs you to grab that, claim it as the privilege it is. Movement for something other than work, something not tied to household/yard chores, it’s your time to connect to yourself, to feed your muscles with oxygen and fuel, and get to know all the small things that make the great thing that is you. Yes, you’re an exerciser, and you’re beautiful and strong – even if you don’t know it right now.