On Being an Overachiever | Fitness After Breast Cancer

I was definitely one of those type A kind of students.  I worked hard and got really good grades.  I remember that one time in high school when I got a B. On a quarterly grade report.  Well, that was a wake up call, friends.  (Oh, the wake up call that awaited me in honors organic chemistry in college…)

As a stay at home mom, there are no more A’s. No standardized tests where you can score in the 90th percentile. There are no annual evaluations where your boss tells you how valuable you are to the company and gives you a raise. If you’re lucky, you get an occasional thank you. Would you believe Emma Clare thanked me last night for putting her laundry in the dryer for her?!? And yes, she does laundry, maybe I’m better at this mom thing than I think! But for the most part, there are no more formal accolades.

But yesterday, I unwittingly walked in to a situation where I would be tested.  And I didn’t even study!  I went to Body Dynamics, Inc.– a fitness center offering physical therapy, personal training, and group fitness classes.  I’ve been wanting to spend a little time with a personal trainer to work on my upper body strength.  After my mastectomy, my back and pectoral muscles are all rearranged, and with the tingly nerves on my chest, my surgeon suggested I might avoid too much pec work to keep from agitating those already angry nerves. I’m fortunate and have great range of motion after my surgery, but the way the muscles are rearranged makes it important that I strengthen my back muscles to help keep my shoulders back.  If I’m also trying to do that without taxing my pecs too much, I’m gonna need some pointers.  To do any training at Body Dynamics, you have to do an evaluation first, so I showed up yesterday in my workout gear and sneakers, ready to go.  Basically, the physical therapist gave me all kinds of weird tasks to do “until fatigue” and she stared at me and timed me. (That’s after the weighing and waist measuring.) Awesome.

First up, the step test.  She stacked three step aerobics-style steps up and I had to step up and down for three minutes. At tempo– 88 beats per minute.  That’s less than one Mississippi between each step.  Then stand on one leg as long as you can, then switch legs and do it again. Then stand on one leg and do calf raises without bending your knee, then switch. Do squats as long as you can.  For all of the leg strength and the bicep curls, I got into the 100th percentile! That’s an A+, folks!  Several of the tests she stopped me because I’d reached the top percentile before I quit or she called time. Makes an overacheiver feel good.  Of course, it’s not to be overlooked that I did have some rather important muscles cut up, rearranged, and stretched out in the last eighteen months.  So my core, which draws a lot of support from the back, is in need of some serious strengthening.  We skipped the push up test and I didn’t last very long at the side plank, but it didn’t kill me, either.  I’ll head back next week to work with a trainer on my core and get some specific tips to work my back and arms. Of course, I’m already wondering about emailing the PT I worked with to find out how long I have to do the core tests to be in the 90th percentile. We can count this visit as the pre-test, but I’d like another chance to ace the real thing!

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