Thursday, March 22, 2012

Run Beyond Cancer: Outrunning Lung Cancer: My interview with Julie Guarducci.

    There is increasing evidence that being physically fit can play a vital role in disease prevention, recurrence and recovery. This is especially true for cancer, a disease that often leaves people feeling helpless and out of control. As a personal trainer, I have been deeply effected by the number of younger women I have met and worked with, who have been diagnosed with cancer. Last year I became certified as an ACSM/ACS Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer in order to learn more about how we ALL can use exercise to fight against this horrible disease.

 This is the first installment of my Run Beyond Cancer series of interviews with cancer survivors. The women I will interview have used running and other forms of exercise to move past their diagnosis and into a stronger healthier life. The strength and courage of these ordinary women who have gone through extraordinary battles, has inspired me. I hope their stories will do the same for you.

                                          RUN BEYOND CANCER:
           Outrunning Lung Cancer. My interview with Julie Guarducci.

Julie Guarducci
Heels and Hills and Him Race; September 2011 
  Julie Guarducci is like a lot of women.  She is a  Mom of two beautiful girls, Nicole 27 and Julianne 26. She can't believe she is almost 50. (which is really the new 30) She is a runner. She is also a lung cancer survivor.
  She was born and raised in New Jersey by her dad who she and her sisters referred to as St. Jimmy. They called him that because they knew that any man who could raise three girls was a saint!
  In 1992 Julie got divorced and moved to AZ. She is now currently residing in Dallas Texas where she works and plays.
Here is my interview:

Julie, why were you interested in sharing your very personal and difficult battle against lung cancer?
 I hope by sharing a little about my experience with lung cancer and the treatment, I can encourage others who have been afflicted with this horrible disease to exercise. Exercise is one of the most powerful drugs, it clears the mind of all negativity and assists in healing the body.

Were you a runner and exerciser before you were diagnosed?
   Yes. I was an avid smoker for 30+ years. After I quit, for two years I was an exercise fanatic. I was doing spin classes 6 days a week and then I started running about 6 months prior to diagnosis because I wanted a change of pace from spinning.

What type of Cancer were you diagnosed with and how long ago was that?
I was diagnosed with stage 3a NSCLC (non small cell) Squamous carcinoma in July 2010.

What type of treatment did you have and for how long?
  My thoracic surgeon felt he could remove my right upper lobe so I had a Thorocotomy in Aug 2009. Once in there he realized the cancer wrapped around my pulmonary artery making surgery nonviable. I went through 2 rounds (6 days each round) of chemo and 41 session of radiation between August 2010 and October 2010.  The drugs used were Cisplatin and  Etoposide.

Do you think the physical strength you got from exercising and running, helped you get through your treatment and recovery?
  ABSOLUTELY!    I don't think I'd be telling you this story if I wasn't such a freak about exercise. I went from one very bad addiction to another, healthier one. I don't think my recovery would have been as quick if I weren't exercising prior to treatment.  After a Thorocotomy, it usually takes patients about a week to recover, but I was home after 2 days. 

Were you able to run/exercise during treatment? If not when did you start working out again? 
 Chemotherapy treatment knocked me on my ass, so no, I wasn't able to workout during that part. But, I was still receiving radiation treatments when I started running again. I don't want to say it was against my Doctor's advice but I didn't ask either. I was extremely tired all the time, but knew if I didn't get up and do it, I would become a couch potato.  I couldn't even run a 1/2 mile at first. I was only out of the running scene for about 2 months, but boy did that chemo break me down. But I'm a determined person and didn't give up! I kept going out day after day until I was able to run without walking, just a little at a time.

Do you feel that running had a mental effect on your recovery? 
  I'm certain it did, how exactly I'm not sure. If I had to guess I'd say it helped because I didn't lay around worrying 'what next'. Also, since I run with a running group I was able to socialize as I was getting back in the swing of things. Running also helped alleviate stress.

Where are you now in terms of your health and fitness?
  I'm currently 2 years cancer free!! I continue to run 5-6 times a week and try and work yoga into my schedule as well.

What are your long term fitness goals?
  Since my diagnosis I've completed 3 half marathons, several smaller races and a few 10K night trail runs! 

   I have 2 half marathons scheduled for the weekend of 3/24/2012, a 208 mile relay 3/31/2012-4/1/2012, and at least one 18K night trail run this summer. Plus, I start training for the October 2012 Chicago Marathon in May. I can't stress how excited and even more nervous I am about this. I mean 26.2 miles???!!!? Right now I seem to hit a wall at 10. I can't imagine what it's going to be like to train for and run TWENTY SIX POINT TWO MILES. Oh Em Gee!!

I think that it is incredible that you ran 3 half marathons after you were diagnosed! Did you run any before you had Cancer?
 I never even thought about running a marathon before being diagnosed! I think my wanting to inspire others to exercise and run after diagnosis is what inspired me to consider running a marathon.

How would you describe how you feel about running and what it means to you?
 I love running no wait, I hate running. Maybe the best way to describe how I feel about running is to say I love to hate and hate to love it.
  I hate it for the same reasons I love it. I have to get off my butt, get up out of my comfy chair, go out in the heat or cold, there are so many reason or better yet, excuses not to run that my mind is too confused so I have to run to clear it.
   What I love is the camaraderie, the friendships you form, the encouragement, that no one judges you … no matter how fast or slow, in shape or out of shape, how old or young runners accept you. Let's not forget the health benefits … it's great cardio work, a great way to shed a few pounds and the best benefit, runners butt! Who doesn't want a nice tight, round bootie?
  For that reason alone I'll keep running and continue my love and hate relationship with running. But mostly, secretly loving it. Remember, tough times don't last tough people do!

What is your personal message to other women who are battling lung or any other type of cancer?
  My message is not only for women but for anyone with a life threatening illness or debilitating disease. Don't give up! Don't wallow, cry and ask "why me?". It's God's will, he choose us because he knows we're strong and can handle what he throws at us. Prove him right, do everything in your power to conquer your disease or illness.  FIGHT!

       I would like to send a big thank you to Julie for being so brave in sharing her story!

    Always make sure you check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Here are some links where you can find more information about the connection between exercise and cancer:

Cancer Prevention: Nutrition's Role
Cancer: What Your Weight and Exercise Has to Do With it.

American Cancer Society
The National Lymphedema Network

American Council of Sports Medicine

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How to Bring Romance to Your Valentine's Day

 Are you trying to think of something romantic to do on Valentine's day? Something that will get you and your partner in the mood for LOVE? Something that will get your hearts beating fast, muscles twitching, palms sweating and give you both a feeling of euphoria? 

                                  GO FOR A RUN TOGETHER!!

Why is running so romantic?

  It warms your body up for other romantic activities:
    Running is a fantastic cardiovascular workout. It increases your blood flow, which carries oxygen, hormones, and nutrients to all tissues and cells. This increase in blood flow, to all parts of your body, helps to enhance sensations and aids muscles in performing at their best, during other activities.....

 It is a natural mood enhancer:
 Running decreases the stress related hormone cortisol and increases the feel good hormones called endorphins. This blissful feeling can last for hours after your run. So running together will put you in the mood better than a box of chocolate! And it burns calories too!

  It increases self esteem :
  Running helps you feel good about yourself. It makes you feel strong and confident in the way your body looks and moves.

 It is a great bonding time:
  Running together bonds you with your partner in a very special, intimate way. It is challenging and fun. It gives you an opportunity to support each other and share common goals and achievements.
 Long slow runs are fantastic times to talk about important things that you might not have an opportunity to bring up during your daily routine. They are also perfect times for sharing some great laughs!
  When you run together you create an intimate space and time for just the two of you. You can use it as a way to escape the world together, even if you just have a short time to spare!

   So if you are looking for something romantic to do on Valentine's Day with your partner, why not go for a run together? You can always redeem your massage coupons when your done!

Id love to hear if you like to run with your significant other and how that enhances your relationship.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Transitioning to Tangible

 " No one can go back and make a brand new start. Anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."~Unknown

The first step to making your fitness resolutions a reality, is to create an emotional connection to your goals. (you can read my last blog post about how to do that here) The next step is to transition your abstract goals into tangible ones.
                      Tangible goals can be seen, experienced and measured.
   They bring your dreams to life by allowing you to experience them everyday.

Here are 7 proven ways to make your weight loss and fitness goals tangible:

1. Write your goals down:
  Think specifically about your goals and write them down. Make them your cell phone's wallpaper so that you see them all day long.
  Break them up into specific long and short term goals.
  A specific long term goal could be  "I want to lose 50 lbs in 30 weeks" rather than a general goal of "I want to lose weight".
  A specific short term goal could be "I will  decrease my caloric intake by 250 calories and I will increase my caloric expenditure by 250 each day so that I can lose a pound a week" or " I will stop eating fast food"

2. Weigh yourself:
 Studies have shown, people who are the most successful at losing weight and keeping it off, weigh themselves everyday. This allows them to make adjustments to their diet if they start to see significant weight gain. (remember, your weight can fluctuate for a few days by a pound or two depending on salt intake or other reasons. However, if your weight continues to increase or increases and doesn't go back down, you know you need to adjust something.)
  Weighing yourself also gives you a way to stay accountable and measure progress. If you do not like to weigh yourself everyday you can weigh yourself a couple times a week, however, do not go more than one week without weighing yourself.

 3. Keep a food journal:
  If you want to be successful at losing weight, you must keep a daily food journal and total up your  calories every day. I want to stress how important I think this is. My clients that have lost the most amount of weight have kept daily food journals.  It is impossible to remember and accurately track how much you have eaten, without a food journal. Your mind often forgets the 10 oreos you ate standing up!!
 Also, people tend to stay on track more often when they are writing down everything they eat.

4. Keep an exercise journal:
 Write down all your workouts and estimated calories burned in an exercise journal. It will be motivating to see all of your hard work in written form. It will also allow you to see if you are sticking to your planned workouts and create progressively harder ones as you get fitter and stronger.

**Remember that 3500 calories = 1lb  So if you want to lose 1 lb a week, you need to make a caloric deficit (between food and exercise) of 500 calories a day. Click here to get an approximate number of calories you need to net at the end of the day to lose weight. This number will change over time as you weight goes down.

5. Tell people about your goals and daily progress:
  Staying accountable to others helps motivate you to stick to your goals when you might be tempted to slack off.  There are lots of high tech, fun ways you can share your goals:
       You can post your daily accomplishments on Facebook or Twitter. You can even post a weight loss or exercise challenge to your friends.
       You can start a blog about your journey
       You can use websites like The Daily Mile (which I just started using) to post your workouts and connect with others who are doing the same. I find seeing what other people are doing for their workouts, really inspiring. 

6. Schedule and plan out your exercise times:
  Schedule all of your workouts a week in advance. Treat these appointments as unbreakable, as if you had a meeting with a very important person...because you do. Plan out what your workout goals for the week will be and what exercises you will do. This makes an abstract idea of "I'm going to work out this week" into a tangible goal you need to get done.

7. Get in Gear:
  Investing in quality sneakers can help you stay injury free, which is especially important when you are first starting to workout. Visit your local running store (even if you aren't a runner) and have someone analyze how you walk so that you can buy the appropriate shoe for your foot. It really makes a huge difference! You can also check out my favorite brand, Mizuno's, shoe finder here. Also when you have a new pair of kicks, you feel very excited to workout!
 If you can, buy yourself some new workout clothes. It doesn't matter if you are not the size you want to be right now. Wearing a new t shirt and seasonal gear will help you feel more excited about working out and ready to face the elements, so there are no excuses!! UnderArmour has great cold gear that you can check out here.
  Whether you have new clothes or not, get your clothes ready and put them where you can see them the night before. This is a visual reminder that motivates you each day to get it done!!

Transitioning your resolutions from the abstract to the tangible will help you stay connected to them everyday. When your goals are tangible, they are more likely to be reached.

Let me know how these tips work out for you and if you have any other ways to make your goals tangible.