We all have a list. Lose ten pounds. Exercise more. Eat more fruits and vegetables. But as we all know, life gets in the way.
For me, right now, life is kicking my butt. I just got off deadline, have another book due before end of year, and work a day job. Finding time to walk the dogs can be a struggle, let alone find time to go to the gym or put a fitness video into the DVR.
Yet I know, it’s those things that will help me reach the items on the list. And, I know one more thing. As a breast cancer survivor, I have to prioritize my health, just like I make my daily word count.
In 2006, we moved from Idaho to Illinois. I got a new job, and then, when my insurance kicked in, I scheduled appointments with all new doctors. I even got a mammogram. When I got the letter in the mail saying everything was okay, I almost threw it away unopened. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had.
Because it wasn’t a thanks for coming in letter. It was a return for more tests letter. Within a week, I had been diagnosed. I had cancer. I also had a new job with little to no vacation or sick time. I didn’t qualify for the short-term disability program as I hadn’t been there a year. In fact, I didn’t even qualify for the federal family leave act because of my short tenure. My employer could have said, sorry about your luck and come back if you live.
But they didn’t. They worked with me through my surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation that year. When I hit a year, I actually had leave allowing me to get paid when I ran to doctor appointment or to get blood drawn. At the end of chemo when my body was totally exhausted, I was admitted to the hospital for three days. The day after I was released, I returned to work. Because I had to – Financially and mentally.
2007 was the year of cancer. So 2008 became the year of fun. But still, I wasn’t living healthy.
So I started walking. And then I added fruits and veggies to my diet. I cut out most alcohol. (I still enjoy a beer every now and then.) These small steps helped me lose most of the weight I’d gained during the year of cancer.
Since that time, I’ve had gains and losses. But I’ve learned a few things I’d like to pass on to you.
First – Practice Turtle Thinking: You know, slow and steady wins the race? This hint works for weight loss and writing. I’m always more excited to write on days where I know where the book is heading. Developing a daily writing habit makes me a healthier writer. Developing a daily exercise habit makes me a healthier person.
Second – Practice Scale Living: Not the bathroom scales. You need to balance your life. For me it’s a mixture of work, writing, me time, family, and fun. Typically fun gets the short stick in my house. My husband and I bought four-wheelers for our anniversary and we’ve spent a summer having fun. You don’t have to go to that extreme, but really, when was the last time you did something like fly a kite or go swimming?
Third – Love Yourself Today: Good or bad, heavy or skinny, you need to accept who you are today to move past the fear of becoming a better version of you. I can’t count the number of times I’ve held off buying a new coat or a pair of jeans until I lose weight. Be the best person you can be now. And later.
After surviving breast cancer, I have one boob (can I say boob here?) that’s bigger than the other. I have scars from surgery and the port where they took blood. Mentally, I have other scars. Walking into the hospital for my semi-annual well baby checks, I always worry. Is this the time they’ll find something strange. I’m by nature pretty positive, but not on those doctor appointment days.
I’m a different person than I was in 2006. Now, I’m a survivor.
So, readers, your turn. What one thing are you going to stop beating yourself up about today?
USA Today and New York Times, best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.