The personal trainer sits across from me, glazed over.
He is used to troubleshoot, you see. If you need to lose a few pounds, he can help. Want to improve your body tone? He has a solution. Want to build muscle? He knows just what you need.
But he can’t troubleshoot my problem: to gain confidence in my body after breast cancer.
He sits, ill at ease, fidgeting. Then he plays the same old soundtrack about intense weight training.
I don’t need a personal trainer.
I need a body whisperer.
One who can eradicate my distrust in my body by whispering sweet everythings-I-need-to-hear in my ear.
I need to hear I won’t get cancer again.
I need to hear I will live a long life.
I need to hear my exercise regimen will help keep me healthy.
I know these are unrealistic requests. But I don’t care. I’m asking for a damn guarantee.
In life there are no guarantees. I know that. Or do I?
I grieve my pre-cancer self: the feeling of invincibility that came with good health. I miss those days when I naively believed that if I ate right, exercised, and took great care of myself, I would stay healthy. I mourn my sense of kind arrogance and exuberant confidence during the routine physical exams that I passed with flying colors.
Until the day when the routine exams stopped.
At my health club, I have a new self-imposed training regimen: I’ve started swimming again – and with a vengeance – complemented by light weight training. Now I walk with more bounce in my step and am more fit.
I feel physically strong again. I feel my body tone improving.
And with each swimming stroke, I tell myself I’m so lucky I can swim for a long time. It’s really wonderful that I can trust my body to take me from one end of the lane to the other, and I can relax a bit, trusting my body again. I tell myself that the proof is in the swimming, and swim I can. I also am a walker. I know I’m lucky I found alternative exercises to my former passion, running.
I feel physically, mentally, and spiritually great after a great workout.
But I don’t believe in myself.
The cancer diagnosis has shattered my trust in my body. Adding insult to literal injury, chemotherapy and other treatments have leached bone, causing my bones to fracture, heal, and fracture again.
It seems I’m swimming an uphill battle.
Yet, with each visit to the health club, I feel good. I reason that if I eat right, exercise, and take great care of myself, I am helping myself – even without that guarantee of everlasting health. So maybe I am developing a smidgen of confidence, after all.
Just a smidgen.