Friday, March 30, 2007

The Struggle to Rebuild

I have something embarrassingly irrational to confess: I have a deep superstitious neurotic fear that the sheer hubris of insisting that my hideous port come out early will be punished by an immediate relapse of the cancer.

There's been so much in the news lately about The Evil Cancer Coming Back: Elizabeth Edwards, Tony Snow; I'm sure there's not a cancer survivor alive who doesn't shudder with terror when these horrible headlines start flashing all over the place, reminding us daily of our tenuous reality. Yes, it could happen. The odds are uncomfortably high that it WILL happen. And marching confidently into the Department of Minor Surgery and having the hideous port yanked out two years ahead of schedule seems to be just asking for it, you know what I mean?

But here's how I rationalize it. The hideous port is holding me back from lifting weights at my full capacity, and therefore it's preventing me from regaining the significant amount of muscle and bone I lost during the past year to cancer and chemotherapy. With the hideous port gone, I can get my game back. I can repair the damage, restore the lean body mass, rebuild the strength I will most definitely need to fight and even to survive if the cancer does come back. So it's not about vanity, it's about staying alive.


Skinny little pipe cleaner arms: not good.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the gym where I used to work as a personal trainer asked to help out with teaching a weight loss class. Never mind the appallingly bad taste in having an emaciated cancer patient get up and instruct anybody about how to lose weight. I can't tell you how frustrating it is, trying to reeducate these women who've been brainwashed into the whole conventional starvation diet combined with excessive cardio mentality. They are slowly killing themselves with their unhealthy eating habits. They turn in their food logs, and when I see things like "Breakfast: 1 slice of toast and a Coke," I want to scream and tear out my pitiful little peach fuzz (fortunately it's too short for me to get a good grip and pull). No no a thousand times NO!

I try to tell them to stop thinking in terms of breaking their bodies down and literally destroying themselves, and start thinking in terms of building their bodies up. The way to be healthy and lean is to think good health, think excellent nourishment, think superb strength and beautiful muscle. But they refuse to listen. And I guarantee they will fail. I also guarantee that if they ever find themselves fighting for their lives, they'll be at a severe disadvantage.

My favorite inspirational quote of the decade comes from my all-time top role model and weight lifting guru over at Little Professor. She says:

"My email inbox is full of women complaining about how strong they are getting, and how much they desperately want to be frail. I started weight training and now I am too big! Too strong! My shriveled sinews are suddenly plump and energized! My metabolism that I fucked up from years of ascetic rice cake rationing is suddenly zippy and industrious! I may not die a horrible death from a crumbled hip at 65! The horror!

What the fuck is wrong with young women that 200 years after the first wave of feminism they are still whittling away at their bodies, starving, plucking, shaving, stumbling around incapacitated? Where are the daughters of the mothers who screamed Keep your laws off our bodies 30 years ago and now buy tickets to the Vagina Monologues? Do they not understand that they desperately need to hoard muscle and bone density and overall wellbeing like an obsessive compulsive cat lady hanging on to National Geographics and bits of string?"


This is exactly why I'm having my hideous port removed on May 1st, two years before the doctors recommended. Because I desperately need to hoard muscle and bone density, in order to fucking survive.


Slowly but surely, it's coming back.

And here, by popular demand, is the super healthy high-protein blueberry muffin recipe.

Preheat over to 400 degrees F.

Blend dry ingredients in a bowl:

1 cup milled flax seed
3/4 cup soy flour
1/3 cup Splenda
3 scoops vanilla whey protein
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup whole flax seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds

In a separate bowl, combine wet stuff:

1/2 cup egg whites (or Egg Beaters)
3 tbs. flax oil
1/2 cup nonfat milk (or soy milk)

Add dry ingredients to wet stuff and stir until just blended.

Fold in 1 1/2 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh), or any other berries or chopped fruit. Batter will be thick. Fill oiled muffin cups (I use canola oil spray) about 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Yields 12 muffins.

Enjoy!


Tomorrow: more about my workouts. Stay tuned.

9 Comments:

Blogger Hathor said...

In one weight training class a few women started to complain that they were getting too muscular, after three weeks. I would wonder why would they worry about that when they were already pretty much butterballs. Some women both fat and thin just fear muscle.

3:35 PM  
Blogger saraarts said...

Reinforcement ('cause I know you know this):

Taking out your port will not bring back your cancer. If it's going to come back, it's going to come back. The act of removing an intrusive device that you don't need right now from your body will not change the cancer's mind one way or another. You might as well live your life.

4:27 PM  
Blogger BeckelyBeck said...

Hey, Liz, why don't you farm out your personal services (training, nutrition, fat loss counseling) online for some extra $$$? Legally speaking, you don't have to be a nutritionist to give someone a "meal plan" or general macro guidelines...I'd be first in line to sign up!

4:44 PM  
Blogger UrbanCowgirl said...

Exactly!

When I was in the market for a new gym, I visited one which was a 'women's gym' and expressed dismay at the total lack of any free-weights except one stack of dumbells weighing up to 10kg.

I was told that 'well, we don't like to do exercises that make women too big. You know? For the ladies? We want to achieve tone, not muscle.'

Gah! What the hell is 'tone', anyway?

Thanks for posting the muffin recipe :-)

3:40 AM  
Blogger Forest Dweller said...

Dear Liz,

I used to read your CRON blog, and then found this blog of yours more recently. I admire you infinitely!

But why I really wrote today was to second beckelybeck's suggestion that you start an online consultancy in training, nutrition, etc. Assuming reasonable rates, I'll sign up!
(I'm a moderately healthy vegetarian eater with a BMI of about 21, but who is a bit of an intellectual couch-potato with the exception of being a good long-distance hiker). To get you started... I'd like a gentle intro. to a daily weights regime.

Love, Alison (in beautiful downplanet Australia)

7:36 AM  
Blogger viola power said...

Like you, I have noticed how I cannot even open the paper, watch TV or even take a walk down my street without some sort of cancer information thrust upon me. Gah.

I could also benefit from a weghts regime, and would happily pay for your advice! I'm training for RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride across Iowa. My radiation treatment took it out of me pretty good, and I lost a lot of fitness, mostly because I didn't even want to move, much less do a set of 20 arm curls...

11:58 AM  
Blogger the oh said...

hello...I love this post. My super fashionable friend has expressed discomfort with the ease in which i build muscle. So not feminine or dainty. This post makes me feel ok to be muscular and a woman. You look great.

2:58 PM  
Blogger iena said...

I've been lurking for awhile now. I just wanted to tell you how amazing your blog is, as well your overall outlook on life. I'm glad I stumbled upon the site.
Thanks for the wonderful posts and so many gorgeous flower photos.

1:50 AM  
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11:21 AM  

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