Strong? Well, Strong-ER!

I was never one for exercising. I was always a wiry little guy in pretty good shape with decent agility and high metabolism. I was always a big eater, a very big eater. But that metabolism kept me wiry for more than 40 years. Then I switched from a standing and moving job to a more sedentary one and in six months had a weight gain of 20 percent. I made an appointment with a dietician and she asked that I keep track of what I ate for the week before our appointment. She gasped when her calculator started smoking as it totaled my average daily intake: 4400 calories.

It was obvious that less exercise, age, and slower metabolism wasn’t going to handle a load twice what it should be. I did start to eat a little healthier and took off a few pounds. Fast forward to just recently when it started to happen all over again; enough weight gain to require up-sizing pants’ waist measurements! The only alternative to an expensive wardrobe update was another round of dieting. But that wasn’t enough. The old age and metabolism issues were more problematic than ever, and there I was, facing exercise as a necessary component to getting in shape.

Coincidentally, I heard about the “LiveStrong Program”. It’s the positive legacy of embattled bicyclist Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor. Our local Y offers the program.

Now, I have always been aware of the Y. I remember the old YMCA on Liberty St. with the pool in the basement with a ceiling so low it precluded standard diving techniques. I remember photography at the new pool and dropping off a camera before my supper break so it would acclimate to the heat and humidity by the time a swim meet was held in the evening.

I had a strange perception of the YMCA, though, since my experience was photographing its program participants. I would see only the body-builders, the driven athletes, the winners, the champions. These were healthy, fit, strong, people and it seemed being among them for any other reason than taking their picture would be intimidating. But since I had an adventure with prostate cancer, I qualified for LiveStrong and decided to give it a try.

This program is amazing. Chris, Jen, Jodi, Kim, and Kay generate a perfect blend of knowledge, gentleness, and expectations. There is nothing threatening and it is never uncomfortable. Over the 12 weeks, we were given opportunities to try a variety of the Y’s regular programs: weight machines, cardio machines, free weights, TRX straps, yoga, zumba and ideas about healthy eating, posture, mind-body connection, and more.

If you have had a cancer “adventure,” I encourage you to give LiveStrong a try. I promise it won’t be too much for you since there is a tremendous amount of individual attention paid to each participant.

As I went through the program, I became aware of some changes. I was becoming a little more energetic, a little more flexible, and, believe it or not, a little stronger. A little, a little, a little but you know what, that added up to quite a lot.