Reaching the Peak
As the founder of Timeless Skin Solutions I am often asked to support other organizations. And when I am, I focus on two fundamental initiatives. The first is education and the second is health care. I consider it a bonus when the two are combined. One year ago, I was asked to sponsor Peak Human Performance in their first 8 week challenge. Since the challenge involved improving health through education and action – I was all in! I not only sponsored it – I joined the challenge as well.
In the opening session, challenge participants we were asked to record their thoughts to this one question. “Why are you participating in the 8 week challenge?”
Since I am in my third challenge, and Timeless’ third round of sponsorship, I thought I would share my why with you.
Why did I choose to participate?
I am a lover of lifelong learning and believe I am offered the chance to become the best version of myself every single day. Some days I am better at it. And some days I prefer to not push myself out of my comfort zone.
For those of you that don’t know, most of my life I was healthy and in good shape. My inner eye still sees who I was when I ran 1/2 marathons and lifted weights in my early 40’s. On May 6, 2005, I was three weeks away from running another 1/2 marathon, and one week away from opening my first location of Timeless Skin Solutions in Dublin – that was the same day my physician told me I needed surgery for signs and symptoms that were linked to ovarian cancer. I called my friend and let her know I didn’t think I’d be able to run the 1/2 marathon with her in early June. I remember asking my surgeon when I could get back to running again. He said he knew someone who was running 2 weeks after surgery. I liked the sound of that even though she was 60 and probably not raising a family and starting a new business – but those were mere details to me. I was sure I would be running at 2 weeks – better than the 60 year old!
I had one surgery, with a second surgery one week later, and a diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer. One week after my surgery, I could only walk about 100 yards, would be fatigued, and have to nap for two hours. I could not eat. I would eat three grapes and be full for most of the day. My lack of nutrition was not helping my recovery – but alas at two weeks, I began to run – if the 60 year old could do it – so could I. I ran 300 yards and could go no further.
Chemotherapy started shortly thereafter, and with the challenges of a growing family and business, my workout regimen became walking every other day. I would walk until I was exhausted. If I had any video of me walking – I am sure it was at a tortoise’s pace. I knew neuropathy was one of the side effects of the chemotherapy I was on. Having known many people with neuropathy, I read and did everything I knew to prevent this side effect. Unfortunately, I had it. After I was on my feet at work or walked – my feet were in so much pain I would lay flat on the floor and elevate my legs on the wall in an L shape for about 2 hours to relieve the pain. My doctors and nurses told me I would “feel like myself again about 3 months after completing chemotherapy“. I kept my sights focused on that. On the way home from my last appointment, I called my running friend and said “let’s plan a 10K in three months – because I am going to feel like myself.” She asked if I would consider pulling my goal back and settle for a 3K. I wasn’t happy about it, but agreed. I still have not run a 3K and it is 12 years later. I am not sure I ever returned to myself – maybe I should have focused more on becoming the new me rather than returning to the old me.
I have tried to run again every year for the past 12 years – sometimes several times a year. I am a positive person. When I was sick my personal health focus was to imagine myself running again and feeling the wind in my hair. I would watch runners on the paths in Dublin and close my eyes and remember what it felt like. I have not yet been able to run any distance without my neuropathy kicking in and causing tremendous pain. I tried to regain my fitness by doing P90X. I tried having a personal trainer come to my home. I tried biking. I tried swimming. Nothing was clicking.
My nutrition was not great. A result of poor nutritional advice. I had lost 15 pounds post surgery and looked like a skeleton. When I asked for nutritional help – I was given the advice that processed foods would bring the weight back. I knew sugar was addicting and I was afraid, but I was more afraid of continuing to starve, so I added them back into my diet. Addiction to processed foods and sugars is real. It’s an evil addiction that can kill you. The result for me – I gained my weight back plus 60 pounds.
My business continued to grow, two of my children left for college, and our youngest had her driver’s license and was working out at Peak Human Performance. For a year prior to the spring of 2015, Alex frequently asked me when was I going to start to workout at Peak? I did not make my health my priority. Raising my family and growing my business had been my priorities.
I was fortunate to pass the five year mark after treatment where the chance of survival was only 18%. I have now passed the 10 year mark, and while cancer was not back, I was not healthy. It was time for a change, and at the time I was ready, Peak Human Performance began their first 8 week challenge. The program offered many areas of learning: correct exercise performance, nutrition coaching, understanding our body’s response to food, exercise, stress, and rest. The challenge members were coached through different types of workout formats. There was support from the peer group as well as the coaches. The tools were provided and it was up to me to use them. I started to become healthier one day at a time. I was not looking for an overnight change. I cried at the end of the first week because I was so tired and sore. It has taken me a full year to rid my diet of processed foods. My food choices are much cleaner. Workouts have become a scheduled priority. I organize my grocery list and coordinate it with meal planning. I purchased a scale. I measure all my food and log it into myfitnesspal. I know what I am eating and I know why I am eating it. Food is my fuel. It allows me to live my days in the best health possible fueling my brain and body to perform at their peak. My body is stronger. My spirit is stronger. Peak performing is still my goal and I challenge myself daily to make small improvements. I have the right habits and I am back on track.
Timeless Skin Solutions is honored to sponsor Peak Human Performance for the third challenge – to help those dedicated to becoming the healthiest version of themselves. Healthy skin paired with healthy bodies! A perfect match. Thank you to the coaches at Peak for their dedication to health and education!
PS. This is my scale- small enough to travel with and to take to restaurants
Carol L. Clinton, MD