Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

i’ve lost a friend

August 4, 2011

When I started this blog 19 months ago, I didn’t know Nick Ryan. But as I began my quest for fitness and health, he became my trainer and eventually my friend.

Two and a half weeks ago he and some friends were hiking up in Montana. As their yearly trips went, this was not even dangerous, yet his amazing life was cut short from a fall.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this. It’s one of those inexplicable tragedies in life that seem so absolutely wrong.

Over the last few days, my husband and I have been watching Shark Week on Discovery Channel. The people in these shows are risking life and limb, literally, to film, and yet aren’t killed by their serious risk-taking choices. Nick, on the other hand, was just out with his friends hiking one minute and gone the next.

I’ve wrestled with God and asked questions about the seeming lack of fairness of it all, yet have to quiet my heart, and say, “You are God and hold our lives and times in your hands.” My heart aches, not only for my loss, but for Nick’s wife and two little girls who have lost a terrific man, husband and father.

I wasn’t able to attend Nick’s funeral, so wrote a brief tribute to honor him and his impact on my life. Here it is:

A Tribute to Nick

I first met Nick in January of 2010.

A friend of mine had begun working out at Fitness Together in October 2009, and I saw such changes in her that it gave me my first glimmer of hope in nearly six years.

I’m a two time breast cancer survivor. The second cancer experience left me physically very weak with a serious lack of balance, in addition to 50 extra pounds due to many drugs and lack of activity. I didn’t look like myself to me and I didn’t feel like myself either. I had become so discouraged with my situation, I thought, “I fought off cancer twice to live in a body that was hi-jacked by cancer and now doesn’t even look like the me I remember before cancer?!”

Dieting and exercise didn’t effect much change for me and I lost hope that my body could ever become strong and active. My heart was damaged by the chemotherapy and my lungs were damaged from the pneumonia. My balance was off for 7 long months from some unexplained inner ear malady that left me unable to drive or look at any movement without feeling severe nausea.

My upper body lacked physical strength from lack of use, but also from my chest muscles being “messed with” due to my radical bilateral mastectomy. I was in terrible shape and I felt old and worn out and weary.

That’s the Kris Beauchamp that walked into Fitness Together seeking help in January 2010. Although looking back, I was hoping for a miracle but Nick wasn’t going to promise me one! I was hoping I could get in and outta there in 2 or 3 months. He was gracious not to laugh or roll his eyes, but he told me realistically that it was going to be a longer commitment than that.

I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed of my fat body and horrified that he had to weigh and measure me. If it hadn’t been for my friend’s success I might never have gone back after those numbers were written down!

I’d go in, very quietly and do whatever was asked, thinking I was going to pass out from oxygen deprivation or hyperventilation, but he always pressed me just to the point I thought I couldn’t achieve and right before I’d pass out he’d let me stop! Nick got me to do more than I thought I could; more than I would have ever done on my own.

Nick was positive and encouraging. Always ready with a bright, friendly smile.

He took me where I was – didn’t make me feel ashamed for letting my body get in the situation it was in and looked at the facts and asked me where I wanted to be in 6 months or 12 or 24!

Initially I wanted to be able to enjoy life with my family. I wanted to lose some weight to feel comfortable again. I wanted to be alive for my future grandkids and be able to get down on the floor to play with them and be able to get back up again afterward too! Seriously. Once down on the floor, I couldn’t get up again by myself! That’s how weak I was!

I progressed ever so gradually, but Nick was always ready with praise for even the smallest increase of strength. I’d downplay it because of embarrassment and he’d remind me how far I’d actually come. No progress was too small to celebrate.

I’ve gone back and reread several of my blog posts about working out at Fitness Together and was reminded of just how monumental my progress actually was.

I remember telling Nick that I was out walking with my husband up a hill and I could feel a shift. All of a sudden I could breathe deeply, all the way in. I could fill my lungs and it was the best feeling ever! It was the first time in 3 or 4 years that I could completely fill my lungs with air!

I’m not sure, but I think I may be the only person who would ever leave a workout with Nick by thanking him. But I did. Yes, I paid him to work with me and it wasn’t cheap, but I still thanked him for making me a better, stronger, healthier, happier me. He’d tell me I was the one doing the work, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.

At my last workout with Nick, I told him that I’d lost three pounds since my last weigh in (which amounted to a measly half pound a week in my mind). He turned sideways and looking over his left shoulder at me from across the room he grinned, saying with exuberant conviction, “Kris! You are doing it! If you keep doing what you’re doing now, you will reach your goals!”

Nick and I would discuss things I’d blog about relating to weight loss, fitness or nutrition. He’d challenge my thinking and press me to see a different perspective.

One day I wrote about a quote by Horace Mann:

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

I know I’m just me, not a great person in the whole scheme of things, but I’m sure if you asked others, they’d feel the same way: Nick was a person who won a victory for me. He helped me conquer the ravaging effects of cancer in my body to become stronger, healthier and happier. His death is untimely for sure, but there is no shame in it. Nick won a huge victory for me by helping me find my way back to myself, back to even a better place of health and wellness than I ever thought I could.

Nick, I’ll do my best to carry on your legacy of winning some victory for humanity in my world. I’ll miss you, but I’ll do you proud.

Kris

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week 14

April 13, 2010

Okay, so please don’t judge me! I know I started the personal trainer thing thinking I’d only be able to make it happen for two months, three max. That’s all we had saved up. I’ve been praying, literally, for about 8 weeks that God would provide the money for me to continue. I take it a day at a time and God has been kind and generous and somehow, even though it comes down to the wire more times than not, I’ve been able to keep going twice a week! Praise God! I’d really like to ‘have it in the bag’ though and know well in advance! But, as long as I can keep going I won’t whine!

I have to tell you that I never dreamt it was possible to feel as good as I do! Apparently, it’s been way too long since I’ve felt good! Way too long!

Before I began at Fitness Together, I never really understood the whole personal trainer thing. Now I get it! But I don’t ‘get’ why some people settle for ‘good enough’ when they could experience the ‘best’, which is the training I’m blessed to experience. When I go to the gym, I watch people with their trainers and there seems to be very little going on. The person is doing a particular exercise while the trainer is usually mildly interested, glancing around the gym, not tuned in to their client. Granted, I’m not following them around the gym to see their whole session, but I can tell that I’m getting a lot more input, accountability and ultimately more strength and endurance for the money I spend than they are getting.

My trainers watch me, my position, my execution of a particular press and give ready feedback. They lightly touch the muscles that are supposed to be contracting so they know and I know if I’m doing it right. They give me instruction and reminders. They encourage and motivate and press me to do more than I could on my own.

I keep a log of what I eat. It’s such a good practice. It’s too easy to get lazy and knowing that my food journal will be checked is a good motivator also! My trainers point out if I’m not eating enough vegetables or fruit or if I’m storing up calories and eating them all at the end of the day (which I tend to do often!) It’s so helpful to have that other pair of eyes looking and evaluating. It’s also great to have a particularly good week and be praised! I don’t care how old a person is, we always love being praised!

So, at week 14, I’ve gone down three notches on my belt, had to buy a new belt and am ready to shop for some new clothes! My pants are all too big for the first time in 5 years at least! I’m not complaining! My saggy arms are getting tight and you can see the muscles! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen arm muscles on myself before! It’s not just about that though. I’m not having to catch my breath when I go up the stairs. I have much more energy throughout the day. I’m run/walking almost even times (walk 5 minutes, run 5, walk 5 . . .) and can see huge improvements lifting weights, doing lunges, and all the other things they have me do. Today was the first day I was actually shocked at the improvements! It is so encouraging! I leave there smiling!

The other thing I’ve noticed is that when I first began, I’d come home wiped out; completely exhausted. I’d get showered and then have to take a nap! For real! Then the next day I’d be so fatigued that I wouldn’t do any cardio. I figured just walking around with those sore muscles was good enough. By the next day I’d do some cardio and the following day would go back to train. It’d be the same routine. It’d take days to recover.

Well, now I don’t take naps! (I’m such a big girl now! Ha!) Seriously, I can run, walk, workout, whatever and don’t have to break between days. That may not seem like much to some of you, but coming from where I’ve come, this is worth celebrating! In addition, my outlook on life is affected. I’m emotionally energized and ‘up’ and love life even more! (No, no one is paying me to say this ~ you cynics!)

I’ve dieted, I’ve exercised, I’ve run and biked and swam. But never in my life have I seen the results I’ve seen in the last 13 1/2 weeks. I’d have never believed it, but it happened to me! It’s my body that is changing in front of my eyes! It has been so totally worth all the effort and money. It’s the best money I’ve ever spent. (If I figured what I’ve spent on medical bills over the last 10 years, I shudder to think the number of training sessions I could have paid for! Yes, it was all to help save my life and that is a good thing!) Working out with a personal trainer is extending my life, and makes the quality of my life enormously better!

So, there is my week 14 update. I hope it doesn’t sound like bragging. (Cuz I’m not.) I hope it doesn’t make your heart fill with disdain! (That’ll only hurt you.) Please don’t be jealous. (There isn’t any benefit from that.) And please, please don’t judge me. Judging is yuck. Instead, rejoice with me that God is answering my prayers! Please be as delighted as I am that I’m getting stronger and healthier! Be happy with me! You’ll be healthier too!

“A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing.” Proverbs 17:22

week five

February 9, 2010

Well, for anyone who’s following my progress as I pursue a healthier life, I’ve now entered my fifth week of being accountable to a personal trainer! Woo – hoo!  I’m not sure I’ve consistently exercised for four weeks ever in my life, except in college where it was required to graduate! So, that being the case, this is cause for great rejoicing! (Okay, so that was a little exaggerated, but it’s been 10 years since being this consistent. It feels great!)

Yesterday I went in and Ashley worked me over good! She’s always very encouraging, and even though I may feel like a mammoth middle-aged matron, she never makes me feel that way! She’s always saying things like, “Great job! Awesome! Way to go!” I can tell she’s genuinely meaning it, too.

I was doing my cardio (gotta love the lingo!) on the treadmill afterward (like a good athlete-in-training) and feeling pretty proud of myself that I was reaping the benefits from walking regularly while on vacation as I wasn’t huffing and puffing nearly as much as before! I was feeling stronger and was even able to run a few minutes at a time, a couple of times which may not seem like a big deal, but I’m not ashamed to admit my small beginnings! (I’m fairly confident I wouldn’t have had the same success on the eliptical machine, that thing’s killer! But that day will come!I will master it!)

While I was panting in rhythm to my steps, Nick, the boss/trainer came over to chat. It’s a little trick he does to see how hard I’m working! Am I talking with ease? Not working hard enough. Am I gasping for air and unable to utter a word? Probably working it just a wee bit too much! I was in that happy middle.

Nick asked about my vacation, and complimented me on my Baja tan, then got down to business in a friendly sort of way. (He’s supposed to – that’s why I’m going to him!)  How did I do with my cardio while I was away? (great!) Did I do any weights? (oops, nope) How ’bout the eating? Did I stay pretty well within the 3 small meals and 2 snacks per day routine? I happily replied, “I did!” (pant, pant)

As I trotted along  (plodding actually, but in my heart I was trotting!) I told Nick that I’ve never been so pleased with working out! Ever! I actually enjoy it! Look forward to it! It’s a marvel! It’s nearly a miracle!

So, these next few weeks I’m trusting I’ll be seeing some fruit from my workout labor. I’m definitely feeling results! I’ve got more energy and I’m sleeping better. I’ve already cinched my belt in a notch and my clothes aren’t so tight. (I’m not looking at a scale; it’s not about weight. It’s about being healthy and getting more fit, remember?) All these are encouraging things. Little strides are worth celebrating!

I’ve found that calorieking.com is a very helpful site to keep me informed about food choices. Check it out! And if you’re interested in meeting with Nick at Fitness Together, here’s his information. Just tell him Kris sent you!       402-932-5346        nickryan@fitnesstogether.com           www.ftomaha.com

week three

January 26, 2010

I figured maybe you were wondering how the whole physical trainer thing is working out! (I love it when I accidentally stumble into a pun!)

To stay accountable and be forthright with you, I thought I’d better write an update on my third week. (So you know I’m doing the work! Just like Bob, “I’m doin’ the work! I’m taking baby steps!”)

I’ve had 5 sessions with my trainer. I have to admit that I love going each time! I certainly didn’t anticipate that, so I’m pleasantly surprised!  I’m seeing changes already and feeling stronger and more energized and encouraged! (I also feel deeply sore and get very sleepy earlier at night, but I can deal with that! Yawn.)

The soreness is the main thing. My trainer switches things up each time, presumably so I don’t get bored, but it could also be that she wants me to work different muscles, which means I’m always sore someplace, or it could be that she just wants to hurt me!

The day I did all those lunges and squats I had no idea what was ahead! Now I do!

Today I did what felt like a billion squats. By the time we were done with the workout, I not only was feeling the burn, I was feeling the shakes, and my legs were wobbly like jello! That means that tomorrow morning when I get out of bed and go downstairs, my legs will be tempted to do whatever they feel like, not what my brain is pleading with them to do.

Do you remember those little wooden puppet toys with the button underneath? You push up on the button and the little toy crumples down to the base? The diminutive figure has something like fishing line holding all his pieces together, and when you push the button, it loosens the line and all the pieces fall. I had one that was Pinocchio when I was young and received endless satisfaction pressing the button and watching him fall to pieces and when I’d release the button, up he’d pop, standing taught and erect once again.

That’s the way I feel after a day of working my legs hard. (The falling down part.) Now as I descend the stairs, a slow fear creeps into my mind, like fog rolling into a gully,  that whatever little cords are holding me together could just give out and cause me to crumple to the floor! Or as I’m running on the treadmill, a wee question will waft into my head . . . “What if my legs just give out without any warning?”. . . and I continue pacing along, hoping that my legs will continue to carry me, ready to grasp the hand rails if necessary!

Other than that, I feel great! Really! Yawn. It helped that today was sunny and bright. That always makes such a significant difference in a day! Yawn…

Well, I’m starting to fade, and I need to make it up two flights of stairs to get to bed. I’m just so glad someone invented hand rails!