I can’t believe how much I have changed this year and I am not just talking about my appearance (and that has changed a lot).
The beginning of the year started off with me registering for the Body Transformation Program at Manimal Athletics. This was a big deal for me because other gyms would not let me join because I did not have appropriate footwear or they felt that their programs were too strenuous for someone with lymphedema. I was so happy to have a chance to go to a gym. I took it very seriously since I didn’t want to waste this opportunity. I believe that just doing this one thing was the base for most of the changes that I have experienced this year. Here are some of the ways that I have changed:
- Confidence – My confidence has improved in a lot in different areas of my life. The confidence that have I found through having success at the gym has spread to other parts of my life. I talk to a lot more people now. I start up conversations with people where ever I go. I feel comfortable talking about the gym, real estate, my lymphedema or just about anything.
- How I deal with stress – This was a big one for me this year. I have had the most stressful year of my life. It started of with having a major car issue that was going to cost thousands of dollars to fix and I still owed thousands of dollars on it. Then the plumbing in my house started leaking and the furnace gave out. Plus some bank issues. I am not even sure how I got through it all but I did. Normally when I was stressed I would have tried to eat my stress away. This year it was totally different. When I was stressed I went kickboxing. Hitting the pads is an amazing stress reliever. I definitely hit a lot harder when I am having a bad day. lol
- Stamina and strength – I am definitely a lot stronger now and I can be active for much longer period of times. The gym has made me physically stronger. I can lift and push things much easier now. I had to push my husband’s truck out of a parking lot a couple of days ago and I did it without even thinking about it. I also helped to empty a shed and storage unit a month ago and I was able to lift and move items all day long. That was amazing. Last year I could only do physical activities for about 15 minutes at a time. This has really helped me with my real estate career. I can now show houses all day long without a break and that includes homes with a lot of stairs. Last year I had some major issues with stairs because, with my lymphedema, my legs are very heavy and I didn’t have the core strength I needed to lift them (especially by the end of the day).
- Appearance – I have gone from someone who wore clothes that were a 2 o r 3 X to now wearing a large. I have also chopped off my hair. Oddly enough, the change in my appearance is not as big a deal to me as my other changes even though that is what most people probably think I mean when I say that I have changed this year.
- Promoting Lymphedema Awareness – I spent most of my life hiding my lymphedema, never mentioning it and definitely never showing anyone my legs. I am now dedicated to promoting lymphedema awareness. I started this blog. I talk about it. I show my legs to anyone who wants to see them. I have worn shorts at the gym (and even to my favourite drugstore (The Medicine Shoppe). I can not even tell you the last time I wore shorts in public. I posted photos of my legs on Facebook and on this blog where they were seen worldwide. I am now organizing a Lymphedema Awareness Seminar that is going to be held on March 5, 2016 in Lower Sackville, NS. If you live in the area please contact me for more info.
There are probably many more ways that I have changed this year but these are the ways that came to my mind immediately. I am sure my husband, family, friends and coworkers could come up with some more. I believe all of theses changes have been very positive and I am looking forward to seeing how I will continue to change in 2016.
*This post repeats a few things that I said in other posts but I wanted to give the people, who have not read my other posts, some background about me.
I spent two years of my life being “disabled”. I did not work outside my home. I spent most of my days laying on the couch. The less I did, the less I was able to do. Yes, my legs looked a bit better (not a lot smaller but they didn’t look like they were about to explode) but I realized that this was not the life I wanted to live…I was not living…I was just existing.
I decided to go back to work . I entered the world of real estate where I get to meet a lot of people on a daily basis. The first time people see my legs they think that I am very limited in my physical abilities and rush to find me a chair to sit in. They see me as disabled. No matter how many times I say that sitting is worse on my legs than walking, people really don’t believe me… UNTIL one day I mentioned that I was going kickboxing that evening. I immediately saw a change in the way they treated me. They stopped trying to get me to sit. 🙂
I didn’t start kickboxing to change people’s perception of my abilities but I have to say that it was an unexpected bonus. I originally started working out at the gym to lose weight and to feel physically healthier. Kickboxing was a small part of the program I was doing but the moment that I put the gloves on I realized that I was going to love it. I started taking kickboxing classes. During these classes I came to the realization that kickboxing was going to help me fight to not be disabled. Having to lift my legs to kick is helping to strengthen the muscles I need to lift my legs in every day life. There have been times in my life where lifting my legs to get up stairs or get in or out of a car have been very difficult. I was very used to tripping up stairs at the end of the day. That hasn’t happened in quite a while. 🙂 Here is a Facebook status that I wrote recently:
“Thank goodness I have been going to the gym. Thank you Ryan Manimal Staples. The house I just showed had rock stairs going down to the home that were not legal rise/run. Each stair was at least the height of my knee and there were a lot!!! I think if I had shown this home before I started going to the gym I would still be stuck there. Going up the stairs I had to lift my legs as high as I possibly could and, did I mention, there were no handrails…”
This status shows just how much going to the gym has helped me.
I have had some concern from the lymphedema community with regard to me kickboxing. They feel that the impact will be bad for my legs but, as I have explained to them, I kick for height so I do not hit the pads with my legs with a lot of force. My goal is to kick higher, not harder.
I love kickboxing and I love what it is doing for the quality of my life. Will I ever be a great kickboxer? NO (I am just not that coordinated 🙂 and I don’t kick hard) but I don’t care. It is something that I am doing for myself and I feel the more that I do it the less disabled I am… I am Fighting to Not Be Disabled!!!
A lot has changed in my life in just over a year. In January 2014 I had been spending the past 2 years of my life lying on the couch with the world passing me by. I knew I wanted more. Yes, doing nothing caused me the least amount of pain with regard to my Lymphedema but I wanted more out of life.
One day on Facebook, Angela Leaman-Bowden posted “have you ever thought of being a real estate agent?”. This wasn’t sent to me, it was just a general post on her wall but at that moment I thought “Yes I have”. It was something I had wanted to do for years but I always felt I didn’t have the “looks” to do it. Every agent I have ever known are pretty confident in their looks…they have their photos everywhere but I have always been the type who hated getting her picture taken. I decided to follow through anyway. I met with Scott Grace and Angela at the Exit Real Estate Professionals office and I decided to look into it. I talked to other real estate agents and friends and family and asked them to give me their honest opinions on whether they thought this was something I could do (both physically and personality wise). I was amazed at the support I received. People just didn’t say yes, they actually wrote me letters saying why they thought I would be a good real estate agent. I decided to go for it. I started studying for the Real Estate exam and I passed it on the first try. (Thanks Scott Grace for the study sessions) Whew!!! I started work as a real estate agent the next day. I could not have picked a better office. They are amazingly supportive. I could not have a more supportive broker than Scott Grace. He really cares for all of the agents. Thank you Scott for getting the fruit tray to go along with the donuts for the breakfast meeting when you knew that I was trying to eat better. That seems like a small thing but it meant a lot to me.
Another big change that has happened this year has been that I have found a gym that would let me join. I had been looking for a gym for many years but due to my lack of appropriate footwear or because of lack of Lymphedema awareness, no gym would work with me. Ryan Staples of Manimal Athletics has taken me on as a client. I started out doing the Body Transformation Program that they offer and now I am also doing a Kick Boxing Program as well. Can you imagine a person with lymphedema issues in their legs doing kickboxing? Neither could I, but I am doing it and loving it. I have been at this gym for almost 2 months now and have lost around 30 pounds already. I have just signed up for another 2 months… Thank you Ryan Staples for taking the chance with me!!!
You may all be wondering what all this has to do with Lymphedema. Well, I still have it but it is not holding me back from doing what I want to do (other than wearing pretty shoes). I am working full time as a real estate agent and a lot of people do not even realize that I have Lymphedema. They think my long dresses are a fashion choice and not a necessity. Once I get to know my clients I do mention it just to bring awareness of Lymphedema to people who may have never heard of it.
So what was the purpose of this long winded essay??? I am not sure but I really wanted the people in my life… my family, my friends, my coworkers, my clients, and anyone else that may have had an impact on my life to know how much I appreciate their support. I have come a long way in a year and I expect the year to come will be even better!!!