From time to time, we have shared our adventures in exercise, working out, and just getting our bodies up and moving under the category: WWAC Warrior. Ardo has written about her adventures in boxing and Muay Thai, Wendy B has written about her experience using the Zombies Run app, and we have even interviewed game developer Brianna Wu about her experience as a motorcyclist. In our newest WWAC Warrior series, staff writer Lela Gwenn is starting a little early on the New Year’s resolutions and will be sharing her WWAC Warrior adventures. Read on to learn more about Lela’s lifelong battle with endometriosis and her experience as a personal trainer.
I’ve been sick for a long time, basically my whole life. I never knew what was wrong with me. For the seven to nine days around my menstrual period, I literally could not eat and was in so much pain I’d lay on the floor and cry. No one had an answer for me. Some doctors told me it was all in my head. Others accused me of being a drug seeker. It was and has been pretty miserable.
My response was to be the healthiest person I could be. I taught aerobics. For ten years, I was a personal trainer. I worked out five days a week for four to six hours a day. I got myself from a way too thin 125 lb. to a much more reasonable 150 lb. (I’m 5’10.”) My symptoms never stopped, but I learned to schedule my life around them and manage the bad days (“managing” = stay home, cry, and puke).
Anyway, all that ended when I was rear-ended by a giant truck. My neck was messed up in a way that made it unsafe to train clients, and my illness went into hyperdrive.
That was two years ago and in the meantime a magical thing happened: I got health insurance! (Go ahead! Say something bad about Obamacare! I’ll come at you like a spider monkey!) Ya know what happens when you have health insurance? Doctors actually care about figuring out what the hell is wrong with you. The gaslighting and accusations disappeared when the little Blue Cross Blue Shield Card came in.
It took a cyst on my ovary exploding and a cancer scare, but we figured out what was wrong: stage four endometriosis. Surgery was performed, and I am now recovering.
So here’s the thing: I need to get healthy again. I have two years of NOT working out as often as I want behind me, and I have at least a year of NOT SICK ahead of me. So I want to get fit again, and this is just the place to do it! I need to get myself out of the depression that I’ve fallen into, and as a former personal trainer, I can help people with my knowledge and experience.
So the plan is this: twice a month I’ll be checking in here at Warriors, sharing updates on my progress, and outlining my plan going forward. For right now, I’m still healing from my surgery, so I’m a bit limited. This means there is literally NO EXCUSE* not to join me because this is a pretty low key workout:
- 2 times a week walking 20-30 minutes
- Squats (3 sets of 10)
- 20 lb. dead lifts (3 sets of 10)
- 8 lb. dumbbell curls (3 sets of 10 reps)
- Bent knee push-ups (3 sets of 10)
- Calf raises (3 sets of 24)
If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to cheer me on — lemme hear it in the comments! I want to make this a space for all of us to be healthy and strong. But please — PLEASE — don’t make this about weight loss. Healthy bodies come in all sizes and shapes, and I can promise you that at 125 lbs (my lowest adult weight), I was not in any way my healthiest. My goal is to feel good and to be able to reliably open pickle jars when I need to.
* Of course there ARE excuses. If it isn’t healthy for you to exercise in this way, don’t attempt it! Talk to your doctor if you have concerns. Exercise is inherently risky, and you know your body better than I do.
*** What is endometriosis? Endometriosis is a disease in which the cells that should grow inside the uterus grow in other places inside the body. During menstruation these cells thicken and then shed, but the ones inside the body cavity have no place to go. Instead of passing normally, they build up creating cysts and scar tissue. This can cause pain, internal organ damage and infertility. 10% of women are estimated to have endometriosis, but many go undiagnosed. It takes an average of 7 years to get a diagnosis. It took 22 years to get mine. If you miss work or school because of period pains, if you know something is wrong, talk to your doctor about endometriosis.***