By Member of the Month
We are thrilled to introduce Candace as August’s Member of the Month! Candace has been an inspiring member at LIVE WELL South Delta since 2019. We’re so happy to see you back in clinic and we look forward to more of your amazing WINS!
Everyone who makes the decision to join LIVE WELL has a story to tell and a journey to take. I am no different. We all share the common goal of needing or sometimes wanting to make positive changes to improve our health and lifestyle. Whoever it was that first said “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” was mostly right, but not entirely. Change is hard. Very hard. Especially when making changes where diet and exercise are involved. These were my hurdles to jump.
I joined LIVE WELL in September of 2019. I was born with cerebral palsy and although I have managed my disability well, and I was active as I could possibly be for most of my life, time and lifestyle choices took their toll on my body. As I aged into my late 40s, I found my pain levels increased greatly and my flexibility, stability and range of motion in my hips diminished gradually but steadily.
Over time, I began to feel very unbalanced and unsure on my feet. I tried using a cane for a while. When that was not providing me with enough support, my anxiety increased. My mobility began its decline at a rapid clip. I no longer felt comfortable walking without an arm to steady me in spite of using my cane. I tripped more frequently with my lagging left foot. Refusing to use a walker, because I felt I was too young and not that disabled, I started using a rolling cart under the guise that I had so much stuff to carry. I loaded that cart up with things as well as stress and anxiety to make it heavy enough that it had enough resistance to provide me with the level of stability I needed to make my way from point A to point B. When that became insufficient, my world became very small. I went to work, I went to physio and massage and I never went anywhere on my own. I became a prisoner to my vanity and anxiety, and eventually became depressed.
As I became more and more inactive, I did not change what or how much I ate and drank. As a result, my weight ballooned and my self- esteem and self-confidence deflated in equal measure. This went on for a few years and I finally gave in and started using a walker. Slowly I began to take my life back.
I continued on with physio and massage to keep me moving as much as I could. When LIVE WELL opened, I would talk with a member about her experiences which were incredible and inspiring. I kept telling myself I should try it, but the thought of going into a “gym” and try to exercise in front of people was a terrifying thought. What if I looked ridiculous? Even worse, what if I couldn’t do it? If I failed, what was left to try? Although I used to be as active as I could be, I knew I was never going to an athlete.
By the summer of 2019, my weight and pain levels were at their absolute highest. That little voice in my head kept pestering me to try Live Well. I visited the website often, read inspiring stories, and by the end of August, I called LIVE WELL and signed up for a trial period. Like it or not, I plugged my nose, and jumped into the deep end of my journey into Live Well, and I’m not a strong swimmer! Not only was I nervous about joining LIVE WELL, the LIVE WELL team, although enthusiastic and optimistic, were unsure about how our swim together in these uncharted waters would go.
I initially signed up for a twice weekly membership. My CEP’s Raj and Timothy acted as my “lifeguards”. They encouraged me to put on my water wings as I dipped my toes in the water and waded slowly into my exercise journey at LIVE WELL. Raj and Timothy were always super kind and super supportive as they helped me gain the confidence to begin exercising in ways where I felt relaxed and above all successful.
I knew I had finally found exactly what I needed to compliment the physio therapy exercises I was already doing. I increased my membership to three times per week. I discovered that not only was I able to exercise, I looked forward to it. I read my lessons, I set my action plans and recorded the occasional win. I was making tremendous gains with building my core, strengthening my entire body. I was achieving and surpassing my weekly goals and 3-month habits. By the end of my third month, my core and balance had improved so much I could move freely around my kitchen without having to use my walker.
At my six-month assessment, I had doubled my lower body strength, improved my posture so much I stood an inch taller, my blood pressure had normalized and I was 12 pounds lighter. I was over the moon. I renewed for a one-year membership for three days a week.
Life was great. I was happy, my pain levels were greatly diminished and my body felt a decade younger. Things were going swimmingly. I was so glad I jumped into the deep end of the LIVE WELL pool. Not only was I treading water, but I was learning to swim. Then the undertow—COVID-19 hit. My last session in the clinic was March 13. The plug had been pulled on my swimming pool, and the water drained quickly.
While in self isolation, I tried to keep up with my exercise. But I found it difficult without having my lifeguards Raj and Timothy on deck. I tried to stay on track with my diet, however, I failed. Miserably. The uncertainty and anxiety of COVID-19 got the better of me. The undertow pulled me down deeper and deeper, and I fell back into many bad habits.
Every morning I woke up and said “OK, today is the day I’m going to get back on track. Today is the day I’m going to begin again. Again….” I started so many days that way. In fact, if I’m truly honest, I did not get back on track until Live Well threw me a life preserver and started up the LIVE WELL Remote Program. I began the long dogpaddle to the edge of the pool.
Was my virtual attendance perfect? Nope. Did I notice an improvement during the weeks I remained committed? You bet I did. However, I believed I had lost all the gains I had made. But in reality, the physical losses we far less than the weight I gained. Unfortunately, that all came back and then some thanks to stress baking and stress eating. But that’s on me. On my hips, my thighs my abdomen…. oh my!
I was beyond thrilled when the clinic reopened its doors! However, the first few weeks back were hard. I felt like I was back at square one. Although I tried exercise on my own, I wasn’t nearly as successful. I needed my lifeguards Raj, Timothy, Keegan and Karl to keep me in check, to make sure I was doing things right. I needed to be accountable to others. I needed the emotional support of my LIVE WELL community members. I guess you could say it’s sink or swim for me without all of these things.
I am grateful I took the plunge and joined LIVE WELL last year. Although I have many more laps ahead of me, I feel as though I’m in the swim of things now. I know LIVE WELL will continue to buoy me when my momentum flags, or when I swim out of my lane. With the knowledge and support of the Live Well team behind me, they have shown me I can do anything I set out to do. For now, I’ll just keep swimming.