Saturday, 4 August 2012


I don't post very regularly on my blog. That's largely because I don't have a lot to say. However, as my daughter is going away to University in September ( fingers crossed ) I'm going to see if I have more time for and interest in blogging again. No promises, though  !  I have a surprising number of draft posts that I never finished or thought better of making public. I will try to finish a post and hit the publish button before the perfectionist and coward in me steps forward.

I've just returned from holiday and have taken an interest in the Olympics. The coverage on tv is great. I'm getting interested in sports that would normally leave me cold. I think that's got to be put down to the commentators who are doing a great job of making it all really exciting. We listened to radio 5 all the way home from Cornwall ( 7 hours !! ) and anytime I sit down I take a peak at the tv coverage. it's so tempting to just sit down and watch it all ! But that's kind of the opposite of what the Olympics is about - sitting down and watching passively !  But really tempting !!

Steve Redgrave - Sir Steve Redgrave, rower extraordinaire and Olympic gold medalist many times over - has been on the tv. We had a gold medal for the two girl rowers and he was drawn into saying that to decide to defend your title is a very big decision. He said that the World Championships require a years full committment, but the Olympics require 4 . Four years is a huge commitment. That's 4 years of dedication and single minded hard work. It's clear that athletes make huge sacrifices for their sport. Their preperation involves diet and all the sacrifices that implies. No drunken Friday nights out with friends ! No icky sticky creamy sugary buns ! No salty, fatty, fried and crispy snacks ! No chemical laden processed and marketed foodstuffs. Their bodies need clean nutrient dense foods to build them into lean mean fighting machines. Their preperations also involve excercise to build their muscles, their reflexes, their stamina and strength, their flexibility, and their skill. We had a talk by an Olympic athlete at Boroughbridge High School 2 years ago and he was fascinating. Sadly I can't remember his name, but he was an incredibly able and motivating speaker. He was a rower and described a particularly cold, dark and rainy winters training morning when he dragged himself out of bed at the crack of dawn. It was the last thing he felt like doing.  He was the only person creeping out and down to the water at that ungodly hour. But as he eased his boat out into the river another rower was just coming in from his own mornings rowing. That lone indiviual was Steve Redgrave. This is the kind of dedication and self discipline, not to mention bloodymindedness that it takes to get to the Olympics.  There's no question that it takes character to be a sucessful athlete. Real strength of character is what it takes to achieve excellence and push your body to its limits on a regular basis. When friends are going out to party, when friends are enjoying down time and chilling out with drinks and relaxation, these athletes are in training with all that it implies. I am in awe of them. Their beautiful bodies are not just a gift given freely. They work for them constantly. They don't come free !! I am mesmerised by these athletes from all corners of the world. They are talented admitedly, but they are clearly incredibly self disciplined. I wish I could claim I had a smidgen as much as they have. As I say, I am totally in awe. And there are many athletes who just didn't make selection who I'll never see. And that's not to even mention the paralympic athletes who are to compete after this set of Olympic Games is over. I can't wait to see them and am so glad they are given so much more media coverage ( at least I hope we see as much tv coverage ! ).

Why am I talking about the Olympics ? Well, Steve Redgrave got me thinking. I have trouble maintaining motivation. It can feel very lonely to be fighting cancer with lifestyle choices ( yes, yes, also with medication it's true. ) Having just returned from holiday where someone else caters for me morning, noon, and night I can reaffirm that I march to a different drummer to the majority of the population. On the dinner menu there were 5 choices for meat dishes and one for fish. There was a special vegetarian menu at the first hotel with about 5 choices, but ALL had dairy as an intrinsic part of the dish. At the second hotel - with the same hotel chain - Brend Hotels - there was just one vegetarian option, one fish option and about 5 meat options. It can feel quite frustrating I can tell you. I am paying the same as the meat eaters, but given no real choices. Vegetarians could feel punished if they chose to take it personally. This isn't very fair of me as the restaurants all did what they could with their menus to accomodate my dairy free meat free demands. I did have something to eat and it was delicious. I just get a bit tired and find it a little stressfull when I see what everyone else eats. And don't lets get me onto desserts ! They just look so pretty and indulgent !!! I do get the bonus of coming away without gaining weight. No heavy breakfasts, no rich sauces, no excess sugar for me. But it's hard not to feel a little sorry for yourself when you compare yourself to a room full of diners and can see what everyone else is indulging in.  I know other people with dietary restrictions, so I'm not alone. We are just in the minority. But here's where the Olympics comes in. If I want a role model or two I should look to the athletes. They are on restrictive diets. They are buying into restrictive lifestyles. Time when they could be messing around with friends eating fish and chips and wasting time is spent training, and training till it hurts. I am not an athlete. If you saw me you would never associate me with them. I'm bigger and older and haven't their determination and self discipline. But they are my people - or I would like them to be. I feel they are experts at what I am attempting. So if I feel the need for an example, a role model, a motivator and a coach - someone who's blazed the trail - then I need look no further than these athletes. I've read a great deal about survival. I have a library of books on survival - how to survive, stories of survivors, and of the qualities they share. I intend to now  make a study of athletes. I have criticised having the Olympics in Britain. The expense of it. The inconvenience of it for many Londoners. The unfairness of it all being in the extreme south of the country. I believe I would still have come to this conclusion wherever the Olympics were held, but I think we have better tv coverage because it's being held in London, and that means I am exposed to more of these athletes.

Now to the point of this post. I would like to publicly commit to seeing myself as an athlete in training for the Olympics. I will not look like an athlete. I will not excercise like an athlete. But I can adopt their lifestyle choices and motivations.  I think it is a way to crystalise my visualising. I may not look like an athlete in the mirror, but I can see myself as such in my head. I also have the advantage over the athletes that I can shorten the timescale. I can commit to being in great shape for the next winter Olympics - that's 2 years time. ( 4 years is a long time ! ) Once I reach that milestone I can recommit to the next 2 years. 

I have started a food diary and will try to post this regularly. Feel free to comment if my choices could be better. It's a learning curve. I will also periodically give other details such as my meditation and visualisation schedules and experiences. I'll also keep a record of my excercise. A note here though. I started excercising more enthusiastially earlier this year only to find that my tumours moved. This had happened before, but I had forgotten. So I won't be indulging in strenuous excercise. It frightens me. It's a handicap when you want to model yourself on an athlete but I don't see it as a deal breaker. I'll just have to content myself with low impat, low stress forms such as walking. Perhaps I could train for some walking marathons - as long as my bones and joints don't complain too much ! I know that my challenge doesn't incorporate competition or stressing my body physically, but I feel I can take something from the spirit of the Olympics and the athletes who compete. I will concentrate on their superior powers of self discipline and endurance. If they can do it I can do it.

If you read this post and want to join me in my Olympian Challenge please do. Anytime ! Post a comment. I don't think there are many people who inhabit bodies  ( and who doesn't ?! ) who couldn't benefit from adopting an athlete as a role model.  Here's to the next Olympics. May we all achieve Gold Medals for achieving our goals