I've seen healthy people lose their battle to cancer because they were blindsided by its surprise appearance. They thought, "It couldn't happen to me... I'm healthy... I eat well, I train well, I do this." The next thing you know, it's too late. Learning from the many experiences from the survivors as well as those who didn't make it, cancer is sneaky and can sometimes surprise you- but there are many cancers that can be predicted, detected or can be sought out ahead of time based on your genetic makeup (genetic screening) or heredity.
In this interview, I can't help to weave in and out of the many similarities between the struggles and the need for staying fit and the where-with-all of keeping cancer away. For example, taking care of our immune system is a major part of the fitness lifestyle- AND the prevention way of life. Immunity is an important part of our body designed to keep the bad things away- and keeping this healthy and functioning well is a big part of prevention. (for more on the immune system, visit: IMMUNOLOGY TODAY)
A major influence in our lives is being greatly driven by our ATTITUDE - prompted by what things we truly VALUE. It completely defines who we are that will often determine how we end up. The commonalities between cancer prevention and fitness training are actually astounding! When you think about knowing your body, eating healthy foods, keeping away from sugars and fatty foods, staying hydrated, maintaining good sleep and stress free- they're the exact regimen for both studies.
As each passing day brings me closer to 50, the wellness & prevention attitude becomes that much more crucial to my very existence and to my loved ones. When I first started getting into fitness, I was concerned about my future and what was going to happen to me over time? Was I going to be able to be around for three daughters? I started worrying about later on in life, thinking, "Wow. I better do something now before it gets too late. If I don't start thinking about it now, 50 or 60 will look pretty bad - and reversing that physical state would be impossible."
I realized that none of this happens without getting into shape. Getting fit and healthy doesn't happen with a quick push of a button. It all takes time. The reason why it's taking so much time is realizing that you're kicking the crap out of your body. You're basically hurting yourself over years of abuse. Somebody once said to me, "...if you want to lose 30 pounds, it took you 10 years to put it on. You think you can lose it in 10 days? It's not gonna happen."
THE FIGHTER'S MIND SET
Step one is getting to know yourself. Take the high road of recognizing your weaknesses and you're halfway there! Essentially, you need to have a mental attitude to recognize what you've done to yourself so far- and then turning it around with a new plan.
The neglect and reckless disregard for personal care that people put themselves through over time will result in major damage and almost impossible to get over. I was at the point where a horrible diet and lifestyle was next-to-impossible to get over quickly, so I had to do something pretty hard core and pretty fast, and really work strong and stay diligent with it for a while.
Every winter I'd take off, because I worked hard during the season. I'd take off the winter and I'd put on 15 pounds. I was very complacent, and my diet changed dramatically. You realize that each time you do that to your body, it puts a lot of stress on both your body, mentally, and it's harder to get out of that rut again. You think each year it's going to be no problem. The first time it happened, it was easy. The second time, it wasn't so bad.
Embracing a lifestyle and a life plan is like any financial investment. You have to stay on top of it-- and be prepared for adjustments when necessary. Change your strategy. Do things differently. Taking steps up front, knowing what your goals are, knowing what you're going to have to do, thinking about those things is similar to basically, preventing these disasters.
Step two is to evaluate and re-assess your daily routine and be proactive in the way you think. Prevention in a nutshell means AVOIDING THE BAD and KEEP AWAY THINGS THAT WILL CAUSE YOU LONG TERM HARM. The most important term that I've learned over the last several years is being ahead of the curve and thinking about preventing the many bad habits that carry risks to my health. Similarly, with all diseases, you have to stay on top of your health to address any potential problems while they are still in a manageable state.
To me, it doesn't make any sense in life to pay attention when you're in the thick of the problem. Today, we have all the tools and technologies that diagnose and provide us with advance warnings right in front of us. Yet so many take a blind eye to this disease; they still smoke; they still ignore checkups and delay prostate exams and mammograms. The information is completely available for us to know what we can prevent and how to keep it away. How could you not take advantage of learning what preventative care is, and using it to your advantage?
FEAR: A POWERFUL MOTIVATOR FOR CHANGE
"What are your goals?" As a trainer, I try to get them to tell me more than this. I also ask "Why are you doing this?" Usually, what motivates people the most is the fear of loss, fear of struggle of lack of personal control.
On the cancer stage, people begin to take cancer seriously because they lost a loved one. Sometimes they take fitness seriously because they've lost somebody or they have a fear of not being there. Like me, I had a fear of not being there for my children when they turned that age to get married and walking them down the aisle. That was a major fear of mine.
I had to take action first, to have a problem resolved before it became a "real" problem. Driving words that I live by, "You can start a plan today.... don't worry about what it took to get here. Don't worry about what you could be later, whether it's healthy or unhealthy. Worry about today. Do something today to make sure that down the road, it's going to take some time but you're going to have success."
BATTLING THE UNPREDICTABLE TRUTH
Cancer's unpredictable and malicious nature is what scares me the most- enough to think two steps ahead of it whenever possible. As healthy as I think I am, as much as I eat well, as much as I train a lot-- cancer's a different thing. Cancer DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE... it could affect me as it can affect anybody.., in areas and ways that we least expect. I've seen the healthiest of people get diagnosed. Being a triathlete and staying healthy and eating well is truly a great start- but so is getting regular checkups, screenings or looking into preventative care. What I'm doing today is my investment in my own life. I don't want any interruptions to that because I wasn't smart enough to take those steps to be cautious for something that can affect me or anybody else.
- IMMUNOLOGY AND THE SCIENCE OF SELF-HEALING- By Dr. Jesse Stoff
- IDENTIFYING A WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM AND HOW TO BOOST IT - by: Dr. Jesse Stoff
- CANCER DETECTION 101- By Dr. Robert Bard
- "EARLY DETECTION EARNED ME BETTER TREATMENT OPTIONS" - By Jennifer Hunt (from AFAC Survivor Stories)