Are You there God? It’s Me Hope,WTF?

11 11 2018

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It‘s beginning to feel like a big prank. I am looking around for someone, or maybe something like a hidden camera because I love a good joke. But it could be karma or some kind of payback, or maybe it‘s just you God, testing me again? For what, I‘d sure like to know. Seriously, who is this puppet master behind this life debacle and what exactly is it that I did to be thrown all these crappy things over the last few years? I‘ll admit I was a mean girl in high school when I kissed Suzi‘s boyfriend Bill. But I only kissed the guy once, I didn’t screw him. They even got married!!! Meanwhile look at who got cheated on and divorced. And how about that surprise open heart surgery tossed my way in 2016? That was no walk in the park. Seriously, I just finished paying my medical bills and along comes another one of life‘s surprises. Enough with testing my strength. It’s weakening my savings account by paying lawyers and medical bills. Money that needs to instead be going towards two weddings and a facelift. Who or what decided it was time to pull an Alan Funt with a “Surprise You have breast Cancer.”  (for those of you under the age of 50 insert Ashton Kutcher for Alan Funt)  Regardless of the 5 Ws, I am shocked because I know I am not being punk’d but once again being tested. Someone is really trying to break me. However, I am a competitor and I love a challenge. Let me remind you, I hate to lose and my track record reflects that fact. So cancer, you probably should have checked with Karma, God, Suzi and even my ex-husband because they all would have told you, you picked the wrong bitch. I fight hard and I fight dirty. I am a Philly girl. #fucancer #bringit

                                 A LUMP OF FAT ( and it goes a little something like that)

While on vacation in Iceland, I felt a slight pain on my left side of my chest. I see several heart doctors who routinely ask “Are you experiencing any chest pain?” My answer is always no, and I always find this a rather strange question. The doctors have all told me that my heart is strong and healthy and that I just had a bad valve. So I‘ve never looked for nor worried about chest pain. However, being out of the US, I began to worry. This slight pang came and went so I remained calm knowing in less than 24 hours I would be hearing the pilot say “Welcome to Philadelphia.”  Once back in the City of Brotherly Love, my plan was to call my cardiologist first thing in the morning. However, that quickly changed to my gynecologist when I discovered that evening that this dull pain was not coming from my heart but rather an oddly shaped lump in my left breast.  Oh boy was I relieved. 

To say I know my body is huge understatement. My unknown congenital heart defect began to show signs when I was in my mid-forties and the complaints I voiced to my doctors were dismissed constantly for 6 years with them all telling me I’m fine, it’s stress and of course the reason all women are crazy…MENOPAUSE. Turned out it was a bicuspid aortic valve that formed an aortic aneurysm. This thankfully a new doctor caught it in time before it had ruptured. From May of 2017 up to my diagnosis of breast cancer on February 2018 I had this eerie deja vu feeling. Instead of hearing the words “You‘re fine“, I heard “There’s nothing there.” First, after having a breast exam by my Gynecologist I was sent for a diagnostic mammogram and an ultra sound of my left breast. All of these tests came back normal showing no mass. So, I was told to wait 4 months until my next visit because it was “probably a lump of fat or a lymph node” and “would likely go away on its own.” When I was still feeling the lump 4 months later in September I was sent to see a breast surgeon. I was excited that this appointment would give me peace of mind and a definitive answer as to what this lump could be. I was, after all, seeing “Philly’s Top Doc” of breast surgeons so she should know, right? Ushered quickly into an examining room I am informed that the doctor has a meeting so she needs to see me right now. My vitals will be taken “after” the doctor examines me. “Everything off from the waist down. Ties open in front.” I am handed the gown in a plastic bag in which I change into and I sit hopeful, my legs dangling off the end of the table and my boobs dangling in my gown. Without even looking at my face, the doctor entered the room, introduced herself as she went to the sink and washed her hands. She asked me a couple of questions.  “Does breast cancer run in your family?” “No,” I said. I was instructed to lay back. Normal for a breast exam. When did you first feel the lump“The end of March, but I need to stand up to find the lump for you.” She told me to sit up, and I watched as she quickly made some notes on the computer and then stood up and walked to the door. The “Top Doc,” said she really doesn’t feel anything and that it’s probably a lump of fat or a lymph-node and that I should come back in a few months if I’m still feeling anything. Before I could get a question out she was gone. She did have a meeting“But Doctor… can I get an MRI?” I have questions, “umm is she coming back in? What about my vitals?” These questions weren’t really asked. No one came back for me to ask them too.  I tossed my lovely gown in the bin, got dressed and left. Vitals? Not taken. My blood pressure was HIGH! I did however go get that second opinion you should always get. Surgeon number two and her tech could not find a mass on the ultrasound, so once again I was told it’s probably a fatty deposit or a lymph-node. This time I asked the doctor for an MRI but am told to come back in 6 months if I still feel something. As I leave, I am frustrated but know regardless I will not be back to this hospital, they don’t even have a Starbucks.

 

PAGING DR. GOOGLE & MS. KNOW-IT-ALL

To speak beyond ones sphere of knowledge is called a ultracrepidarian. Dates back to the story of Apelles, a famous greek painter who heard a cobbler criticizing how he had rendered a foot in a painting. The painter remarked back to the cobbler that he should stay in his own station and not go “beyond the sole“, hence the latin phrase ultra crepidam.  Often, when I am running my mouth about something I just made up, half read, googled, might have overheard, my really good friends will laugh in my face knowing I am talking “out my ass“, hence the verb “bullshitter”.

My daily research on breast lumps, bumps and lymph nodes was giving me a feeling deep in my gut that I needed to be persistent, so I kept an appointment I made way over 3 months ago and went and saw surgeon number three. Facetune_04-11-2018-15-56-24I was prepared to be an ultracrepidarian. Sitting in the exam room, I knew I wanted an MRI, and therefore wasn’t leaving without being sent for one. Petite Dr. Julia Tpchou entered the room and I don’t just jump on her, I attack. Full on crazy patient with tears. Here‘s where the movie director will add the violins: For 6 years I saw zillions of doctors complaining about not feeling well, only to find out I had a BAV and an aneurysm. I know my body! There’s a lump in my breast that should not be there. It’s not fat! I know my body! I know that mammograms are 87% correct in identifying breast cancer (I just threw that stat in my blog) and all of my ultrasounds shown nothing but I can feel the lump. I know my body! Dr. Tpchou told me that when she was in medical school a professor taught her that when a patient says they know their body, they usually do. Thanks Mr. Professor. She examined me thoroughly and she felt the lump, and she sent me for an MRI. That Friday afternoon following my MRI, I received a phone call from an office assistant with the results of my test. Great news. My MRI report was normal.

 

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“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
Edgar Degas

THE RENDERING WAS WRONG. THE COBBLER WAS RIGHT!

That Monday morning following my Friday afternoon call, I received a call that Dr. Tchou wanted to see me at the hospital immediately, so I knew something was up. I finished training a client and drove straight to The University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Over the weekend, Dr. Tchou explained that when she saw that my MRI report had come back normal, without even a “suspicious mass noted, she decided to look herself at the MRI images. She pulls up my MRI on the computer. With my eyes focused on the screen she fired away at the enlarge key, and I watched as this tiny white dot appeared and grew bigger.  “There’s your lump.”  Finally a doctor who listened. I was scheduled for an ultra sound guided needle biopsy. University of Pennsylvania being a teaching hospital, usually has a fellow who checks on you before the attending physician. “The lump gets lost when I lie down.” This fell on deaf ears. The fellow, although determined to locate the lump on the ultrasound, did not succeed. Moments later the Radiologist entered. Petite woman, with a rather large presence, and she says to me “find the lump.” I need to stand to find it, so she firmly says, “Stand up. Find itPut your thumb on it.” She took the cold, gelled probe, placed it firmly right where my thumb was and instantly started measuring the white looking image, aka: lump that appeared on the sonogram screen. In what was her last year of residency, the young doctor commented to me how she learned something new today. Was it that you can do a breast ultra sound to a standing patient,  or that you should listen to what a patient has to say? Days later I found out that all six samples from my ultra sound guided needle biopsy had all come back inconclusive. I would next be scheduled for a lumpectomy. You know to remove a lump of fat.

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BIG GIRLS DO CRY

I am told that I wear a tough exterior, but these past few years I know I have become softer inside. I cry a lot easier, which according to the real Dr. Google is hormonal. But the kind of crying that takes your breath away, leaves you unable to speak, feels like a panic attack… well, that has only happened twice to me. The first being when I put my dog Rocki down, and the second was when Dr. Tpchou phoned and told me that I had breast cancer. When I finally caught my breath, I replied “I really did not expect “it” to come back positive. I know what you’re thinking. Really Hope? Yes really! No one in my family has ever had cancer. Sitting on a Bosu ball in the private place where I went to take this call, an empty aerobic room, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought this can’t be happening.  I call my very quiet, kindhearted boyfriend who not only listened to my crazy lump stuff for the last 6 months, but also spent his birthday sitting in a hospital while I had my lumpectomy. In-between sobs I very angrily tell him that I’m not a hypochondriac and “it” wasn’t a fucking “lump of fat.” I HAVE FUCKING BREAST CANCER and yes, I was right. I‘m always right! It wasn’t nothing and go ahead dump me. He should dump me. I would dump my sick ass. We’re not married so heres your chance to get out now. RUN! I  won’t be mad at you. When I was done with my well justified rant, he assured me he wasn’t going anywhere because he said “That would be really bad juju.” “Ok then, sniff sniff You know I am so fucking mad.” He knew. With my adrenaline up I stuck my headphones back in walked out of the aerobic room and finished lifting. #chestday I did not tell my family, friends or announce it on Facebook. I knew nothing so there was nothing to tell. But what I did confirm is I have a few special people in my life whom I cannot thank enough for their help from my appointments to answering my questions to just being there. 
In February, 9 months after I first discovered that darn lump I had a lumpectomy, followed a few weeks later with a lymphadenectomy. The latter is done to see if the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes. Thankfully it had not. While I personally experienced more pain and difficulty in healing from my lymphadenectomy, I did not have a mastectomy, and would not dare to compare my procedures to the surgery of a mastectomy.

THERE IS NO “I” IN TEAM

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Lumpectomy, Lymphadectomy & Proton Radiation (skin reaction 2 weeks after Proton partially due to  sweaty jog bras)

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Now

A slice of my tumor was mailed off to a lab for an Oncotype DX breast cancer test. The information gathered from this test would determine my cancer treatmentI needed this test to come back with a number that would allow me to skip chemo and jump right to radiation. While most patients discuss the side effects of their treatment with their doctors, I just needed to know if I would complete my treatment in time to go on a safari in Africa. For this amazing trip, tops on my bucket list, I was lucky to be asked to be part of prior to my diagnosis. The results of this tests held that answer. I sat weeks waiting for my oncotype score (because of a mix up) but finally got the results. I would not need chemo and that meant a shorter treatment plan. This was a giving me hope for Africa. It was now time to  meet my “C” team. To my list of doctors I now add an Oncologist, Radiation Oncologist, and a Cardiology Oncologist. The last doctor, who will approve my treatments, Dr. Joseph Carver, wears giant red Beat-like cordless stethoscope headphones. His specialty is cardiac problems and cancer. He is my bonus doc because of my heart valve replacement and other leaky valves. 

                                                               LET THE GAMES BEGIN

As if I was just here yesterday, I ran around the busy Perlman Center alone at Pennsylvania Hospital. Dressed in my work clothes (gym clothes), there I am squeezing in and out of crowded elevators, grasping my files, holding my Starbucks, running up and down the escalator, dropping papers, meeting doctors, googling words, spilling my coffee on myself, scheduling test appointments, checking my Facebook, and ducking familiar faces all while thinking, “is this for real?” The only things that have changed were the locations of the waiting rooms and the doctors. First, I see the quarterback of my team, my Oncologist. She sketched everything out for me. Explained and confirmed that there was nothing I did that gave me cancerNot even drinking from the hose while playing outside as a kid. Having lost my period at 43 years old this caused me to enter menopause at a rather early age, and therefore produce higher levels of estrogen, which most likely fed the tumor causing it to growI found this tumor that wanted to hide and a lot had to do with having low body fat, and the pain I felt causing me to explore that area. But it was also found with persistence. Had I been older, heavier, would I have found it? Would I have listened to the doctors and have been satisfied with what they were saying along with the normal test results? My doctor assures me that my cancer cell being fed earlier gave it a chance to be found earlier and that was actually a good thing. I caught it at at stage one. 

When cancer came calling I was ready. Since I live with the belief that exercise is a gift and something you should not take for granted, I am always in training for life. Knowing I have an upcoming open heart surgery within the next 8 to 10 years, possibly sooner, I will be prepared.  As with most health issues, it’s always quite fascinating how several people can have almost the same exact diagnosis, and yet have totally different methods of treatment and recovery. Your overall health plays a major role in this.  For my game plan, I sat with Dr. Gary Freedman and he sketched out for me several radiation options. All of the standard treatment plans would span 8 to 10 weeks. However, in a circle on the right side of the paper was the word “PROTONS.” Explaining the difference between photons and protons, Dr. Freedman informed me that I was an excellent candidate for Proton therapy. This treatment would in fact be a better option for keeping the radiation away from my heart.  He offered me twice a day treatments, early morning and again later in the day that I could bang out in one week. I could hear the elephants from the savannah at that moment. Timing was perfect. I’d finish with enough time to grab my safari hat and my anti-malaria meds. But before I began any treatment I needed to tell my home team, my “A” team, my daughters. Tell them why an awful lot of their calls have gone to voicemail this past year, and why I’ve seemed so short lately.  I have one living in NYC and one away at PSU, and I am their only parent. So I must do what I do best at times like this…..lie. I just found this little lump in my breast and the doctor took it out. (Insert joke and laugh) it was a little cancer, blah blah blah, it’s gone, went bye bye. Mom’s all good now.  Just going to get a couple quick zaps of radiation before I go away….. And like deja vu from a few years ago when I gave my “I’m having a little heart procedure” speech,  it worked perfectly for one of my two favorite daughters.  Cue: violins, beating drums and  cello …..Tears, anger, and fear.

 

THE WORLD AIN’T ALL SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS

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Wanted: women of Russian/European decent for extras in Creed II, being filmed in Philadelphia. According to my mom mom, and backed up by my Ancestry.com results this describes me. I love the movie Rocky, named my female boxer Rocki, and have seen all of the Rocky movies. This is my chance to use that college theatre degree and hopefully see Sylvester Stallone and Dolph.   So what are my odds of receiving an email saying I was selected to be an extra for Creed II and it’s in the middle of my proton therapy? Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 3.13.27 PMI‘ll tell you, according to real data much smaller than this Askenazi Jew of Russian decent getting breast cancer. FU cancer! #iwillbreaku

 

I thought I was strong and could do this myself, but apparently I was wrong. The 6am driving into the city was easy. I would come home and train one or two clients, workout, shower and then drive back for round two. While I was told, fatigue would kick in by mid week; it never did. Nor did it really kick in the following week. The metallic taste came quickly by day two. But seeing all of the children with cancer, nothing could prepare me for that, and the sadness that still resonates inside of me.

IMG_3026There are five treatment rooms that contain four gantries or cyclone machines and two waiting areas.
IMG_2993That week I sat in the same waiting area with the pediatric cancer patients from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia dressed in my hospital gown and them in their own little gowns. Children of all different ages. A college kid popped in every day in-between his classes. I listened one day as he sat talking to a parent giving her hopes that her daughter would get the same positive outcome he was having. I’ll never forget my second treatment on my first day. When I came out of the dressing room in my gown, an entire family filled the patient waiting area. This little boy, about six, was giving a tour of his super cool looking proton cyclone to his huge family. They had all come to celebrate his last treatment. “They look like spinning space tunnels”, I said to his parents. I learned that he and most kids didn’t know the cyclone spins because they wear a molded mask to keep them immobilized and often use headphones to listen to music.

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Making My Mold

These masks, some painted by the patient to look like a fake super hero, hung along side my body mold and too many other real super hero’s masks all week. When the little hero rang the bell, which is a distance away in the main lobby area, I was laying in my proton bed awaiting the beam, but I heard the bell, the applause and the cheering. It was a beautiful ring. I knew I was a lucky mom and a lucky woman. That week, twice a day I sat in the waiting room like the kids in a routine matter and when one of the Proton techs said  “Hey Hope… Let’s do this.” I too would pop up and go into the space tunnel. Cause I too thought it was really cool

 

 

Hey Nike, this is what a fitness addict looks like. My athletic apparel took me from the gym floor to the cyclone, and back to the gym.  I even taught a spin class.

 

 

On my last day I thanked the wonderful technicians who pulled, pushed and aligned my body up so precisely for the proton beam. With my left arm stabilized over my head and my bare boobs marked up, tattooed up and stickered up, I would wait for the beam to be directed to my cyclone.  IMG_3118Every treatment seemed surreal. On my final day I bent down to say  goodbye to a little boy about age 7, who was playing a video game on the floor. He had a brain tumor that had grown back for the third time and now he was trying Proton therapy at Penn.  “Hey buddy I never ever want to see you here again. Ok?”  Ok, strange lady, is what I’m sure he was thinking as he looked at me oddly and then went back to his video game. His mom told me that everyone says that to him, but he doesn’t get it. I think to myself, that’s a good thing.

Friday night around 6 pm at the time when most people are rushing home from work or to happy hour to hang with friends I concluded my proton therapy. Check out from this weeks stay included one last visit with Dr. Gary Freedman, who is the brilliant doctor that prescribed my beam’s precise pathway, it’s dose calculations, and everything needed to stop the protons in the bad area and keep the healthy organs and tissues healthy. While knowing that I do still have follow up appointments with my other doctors regarding future treatment, I ask Dr. Freedman the magic question, “Do I still have cancer?”  He tells me I am a survivor. So like a little kid, on my last day I showed off my super cool cyclone spaceship to my daughter and my boyfriend who came to celebrate my final treatment with me. We then headed straight to the usually very crowded lobby so I could go ring that big silver bell. I pushed open the door and proclaim a big WTF? It’s 6:30pm on a Friday night the lobby is bare. The pranks just keep on coming. I rang the fuck out of that bell. ( Actually God it would have been even more funnier and pathetic if Madison and Kevin had not been there and I had to go ask someone to take my picture)

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THE BIG “C”

Cancer, yet another eye opener in my life. I got even more clarity on where I stand in peoples lives. Your actions, not your intent, not what you post on social media, or who you claim to be, speaks louder to me now. Busy people make time for people that are important in their lives. Selfish people are always too busy, and only make time for themselves. Having a stressful day or a bad week is not an excuse for rude behavior. It’s called being a selfish asshole. Have a blessed day, you’re not sitting having cancer treatment. 

I discovered I had this lack of knowledge about cancer and the medical “scientific facts”, and was woken up to people’s ignorance they are willing to spew from non-scientific sources. I do not have cancer from foodmedicine, surgery, traveling, or too much exercise.  Using organic soap and essential oils would not have prevented me from getting cancer. #womenlovewastingmoney Yes, people asked me some of these questions. Yes, I am a trainer. Yes, I am well aware I‘m not as strong or cut as I use to be I don’t need you to point this out. I‘ve been kinda busy. Yes, I eat a healthy diet. No, I am not giving up meat. There is no scientific evidence that changing your diet to just eating “alkaline”  rich foods such as fruit, green vegetables, and other plant-based products discourages the growth of cancer cells by raising blood pH levels. This is not going to change the pH levels of your blood, because they are tightly regulated by the kidneys and lungs regardless of foods consumed. While a good diet is always important, it can’t cure cancer. (Please stop saying that a certain food “cures” cancer) There are cancerous cells in the body of every person that at any given moment and through lifestyle choices can become a full-blown disease. Some these cells will divide and become abnormal and cause cancer for no reason other than bad luck. Breast cancer does not run in my family. I am the first one to have been dealt this unlucky card. That does not mean my daughters will get breast cancer. So before you ask, I did get genetic tested. In fact I got the entire breast cancer panel test done which included the following genes: ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, CDH1, CHEK2, PALB2, PTEN, STK11, TP53 (a total of 9 genes). All were negative. Regardless, this does not mean I will not get any of these cancers; it just means I am not carrying the gene. Just as if any had come back positive, it does not positively mean I will get that cancer. It just means I carry a gene and depending on other factors my odds would increase. Having a genetic counselor through Penn’s Cancer Risk Program conduct these tests, and a full evaluation of me and my families medical history pertaining to cancer and discuss how this all works was very comforting and informative. Probably fewer mastectomies would occur if all women had access to these tests and also had genetic counseling.   #healthcareforall

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ON WEDNESDAY’S I WEAR BLACK (Actually everyday I wear black)

Around the same time I received my diagnosis of Stage 1 breast cancer a friend was diagnosed with a much more invasive cancer. It sucks that my friend’s battle is tougher,  and all I can do is drop off food, a FUCK CANCER tee and drag her out to dinner and a cabaret. #thecountessandfriends  There’s no ribbon for her rare cancer. Plenty of pink ones for mine. I find nothing pretty in pink about cancer and am not one to be a member of this pink ladies gang.  It is, however, the color associated with the most successful marketing for a cause in history, raising a lot of money in the name of breast cancer awareness, but not for prevention and finding a cure. Despite all the pink products being sold, each year 40,000 women die from breast cancer.

While breast cancer is one of the top 4 cancers, it is lung cancer that kills more men and women than breast cancer and the other three top cancers combined. Just saying the word “cancer”, one feels they must whisper. She has cancer.But no one whispers she has heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of all women, more than all cancers combined. I‘m all for saving the tata‘s, but if the heart ain’t beating do I really care about my breast? Being that there are over 100 types of cancer can we just agree they all suck, wear a black ribbon for all of them, and have 100% of the money raised go to finding a cure for this awful disease? Please? Oh, that’s already taken by skin cancer. 

Another storm survivedMore contacts to the list, more tests pre-scheduled and now these awful meds I am being told I should take to prevent breast cancer from coming back. But who knows what storms lie ahead or in my body, and if there is anything to stop that storm from coming.    

September 2018 MRI

9/18 Post MRI Coast Looks Clear

If I learned anything this past year,  it would be that no matter how physically prepared I am, I might not be mentally prepared to have the words when fate is questioned. I don’t need to always have the right words or the right answer but I will always speak from my soul and of course beyond my sole. #ultracrepidarian

 

 

 

I don’t know
Only god knows where the story is
For me, but I know where the story begins
It’s up to us to choose
Whatever we win or loose
  And I choose to win               

So God, Please NO MORE DRAMA in my life!          

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CANCER, KARMA AND YES YOU TOO GOD ……I WIN!

My intent for writing this blog was not just to share my experience, but that hopefully someone who is ignoring a lump reads this and goes and gets it checked. I also found it frustrating that as a fitness professional over the age of 50, and someone who entered into menopause at and early age, 43 there were no blogs or info that I found giving me insight into treatment, recovery and especially the medicines and their effects on post-menopausal women who still lift weights..heavy. There are plenty of blogs and articles from ladies in their forties and below in the fitness profession who are pre-menopausal.  Maybe eventually I’ll get to writing something for the fitness gals in their 50’s and 60’s who are still hitting the heavy weights, doing pushups galore etc. and discuss more of my personal issues. In the meantime feel free to message me if you have a question. As for the treatment plan I chose moving forward after my Proton therapy and the medications that were offered to me to avoid breast cancer I’ll leave it at this.

Everyone has their own journey and sometimes you have to go with your gut. 

 

 

AFRICA – KENYA 2018 Checked it off the bucket list! (Thank you, Jill Schuler) 

 

Please help CRUNCH out Pediatric Cancer. This past September these amazing folks rode with me at Crunch Fitness for this great cause. Please donate to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cancer Center.

 

I also was so fortunate that during this past year, the weekend following my Lumpectomy to be part of an event that was so close to my heart nothing could have stopped me called the PHILLY SPIN-IN. A giant cycling event raising funds for pediatric heart disease. This event was truly amazing. A giant event for little hearts.  This year the Philly Spin-In will take place March 9 & 10. If you would like to make a donation or be part of my team HopeHeartStrong please message me for information.  Corporate donors for this event are always wanted! hope@motivatehopestrength.com

PHILLY SPIN-IN

 

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MOTIVATEHOPESTRENGTH.COM

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Contact Hope Nagy

Email Hope@motivatehopestrength.com

 

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WORLDS WORST PERSONAL TRAINER

11 07 2018

No, I am not fat shaming my dog Marley. Last year at her check up I was told by her vet who by the way I personal train, that Marley needed to lose weight for health reasons. I thought for certain that at this years check up there would be a slight decrease. I was not prepared to see that the scale that read 80 lbs last year was now saying 83 lbs.   Of course I tossed out the standard excuses I hear from clients. Check her thyroid. She didn’t poop today. She’s in menopause. She’s getting her monthly thingy lol But I am her care giver, her scooper, her treat giver. Her saboteur. Well in all honesty there’s other saboteurs in the house when it comes to treats and table food. Well,I am ashamed. I have failed. So I will prolong this bitches life that officially starting today Marley is ……and I will call it what it is …..she’s on a “DIE”t. Oh the paw will smack our legs at the table, the slobber will disgustingly drool while anyone is eating anything that she thinks is ice cream and yes she will cry, ring her bell to go in and out the door to be rewarded with treats for going to the bathroom still at age 7 but this trainer will be strong.

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Smile for your “BEFORE” Pictures.

I will not give in to puppy dog eyes and bad breath kisses. If I can look at my clients and tell them their knees hurt cause they’re overweight and to stop drinking alcohol if you want to lose weight then I can look at this fur ball and say NO TREATS FOR YOU! Recently I thought she wasn’t jumping up on my bed at night anymore cause she was getting old and sick. Laying on the floor to sleep. Nope not the case. She’s just fat! Not barrel chested. Not sick. Didn’t gain more muscle in the last year. She just got fatter.

fullsizeoutput_97This additional weight bogs her down and causes more stress on her heart, joints and ligaments and can lead to respiratory problems and even diabetes. Sound familiar? Yes these are all the same ailments that accompany weight gain in adults.I know I tell my clients this daily. So take a look at your pup. Is he or she gaining weight? Have you? Maybe its time for both of you to make a change and start a diet plan. I can tell you right now Marley’s has begun today!

 


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HOPE NAGY, Personal Trainer

motivatehopestrength.com 

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contact Hope Nagy at hope@Motivatehopestrength.com 

 

 

 





ICELAND on the EDGE

4 07 2018

 

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The “Bucket List“.  An itinerary of things one may want to do, or places one may want to visit before one dies. Iceland was high on my bucket list for quit some time. Years ago, 2010 to be exact, while watching the Bachelorette, they were in Iceland and I said to my boyfriend who was not paying attention to the show  “We’re going to Iceland.”  He just said ok to placate me, but I meant it and knew if we could bike there he would go.   But for the same reason  people sometimes are triggered to create a bucket list, I suddenly had a medical mishap. This out of the blue heart defect thingy sidelined me for a little while. *See Fit,Fifty & WTF.  But if theres one thing a life threatening  illness or in my case open heart surgery does is makes you realize that time is not guaranteed to no one and you need to stop putting off what you can and want to do today.  So to celebrate the two year anniversary of my new aortic valve  I knew it was time to check it off the list and away we went to the land of fire.

While Iceland is a “hot” place to visit when you tell people that’s where you are vacationing they ask you “Is it cold?” Followed by “Where is Iceland?” and “Are you going to bike in Iceland?”   Now before you assume I surround myself with people of little geographical knowledge, know that 64% of American’s have never left the country.

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“Welcome to the land of the ice and snow.” (Repeat. But this time sing it like you’re Robert Plant.) So impressed with Icelands majestic terrain “The Immigrant Song” by the great Led Zeppelin was inspired to be written.  Iceland is an island in the Atlantic Ocean and the second largest island in Europe. It is also the most sparsely populated country in Europe. A quick 5 hour flight from Newark Airport and we were there.

 

Time constraints and busy season prices, we opted to take a chance and go in late March. This  is what is known as the beginning of their summer season.  Temperatures ranged in the high 50’s to mid 60’s.  Along with this choice of gambling on the changing of the seasons we did encounter the negatives that we had hoped we would somehow avoid. Our scheduled Volcano mountain bike ride ended up getting cancelled twice due to extremely high winds and bad weather. To give you an idea how windy it was when we were there the headlines of the newspaper read “Winds in Iceland cause flying trailers and trampolines.”  The beginning of summer is known for it’s  more severe glacial winds and this can cause the closing of sections of Ring Road also known as Rt.1. and if you can’t use this thoroughfare your trip plans get messed up!  The most popular attractions  are along the “The Golden Circle” section and our first two days we could only venture by car to sight see a certain radius along Ring Road because of road closures.  Finally, on the day prior to our departure our prayers were answered by the weather goddess.  Which meant we would finally get  to “The Edge”, the ride we pre-selected from the bike tour company  Icebike Adventure  . You can check out the many rides offered on Icebike Adventures web sight and make sure to follow them on Instagram.  Our guide Magne arrived at our hotel and we headed about 20 minutes outside Reyjakvik  towards the beautiful blue hued Bláfjöll volcanic mountain range.

Rain gear and trail shoes, not bike shoes as told from IceBike Adventures, who were awesome answering my questions via email prior to our trip, because although we would be riding we would be doing some walking on jagged terrain.  Armed with our fat tire bikes hiked on our shoulders, Magne said “Follow me” and he took off like a rabbit hopping thru a green patch of moss.  Obviously this bumpy moss covered terrain was a texture Magne was well accustomed to, however from the second I started our 1/4 mile trek threw this multi level green matted lava rock the Philly girl in me surfaced. “WTF”   You have this green sponge substance anchored over lava rock. Moss likes water so it looks pretty but you’re  trying to walk, see where you’re going so you don’t lose a limb  in-between a crevasse. I also am looking around for a martian to pop out  because it it so surreal and seriously looks like the set of a space movie.

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The higher part of the Volcano still had some white stuff that had not melted so we got to ride through some sections that still had some snow. And as we encountered these little white patches Magne would traverse down like Alberto Tomba as did Kevin my boyfriend. Me, I instantly would hit the snow and instead of peddling through, fall over and find myself sliding down sideways.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And to all of the snow riding experts out there, here’s my million and one excuses.  I never rode a fat tire bike. This particular bike was way too big for me. No the seat wouldn’t

IMG_2998adjust lower and I never rode a bike in the snow!  As we descended down the “Edge” we did so along with the run off of the earlier rains and the melting snow.  The trails are deep and muddy.  Which is why you are riding a fat tire and not a 26″ or 27.5″ tire.  While the scenery was spectacular, and the ride epic, it did at times become frustrating for me. Since I was on a bike that was way too big I did not have the steering control, and therefore every time my front tire hit something the bike would ricochet back throwing me and my vajayjay forward on to the bike bar.  Which brought again lots of F-Bombs out of my mouth and left me with a bruise the color of the blue lagoon.

By the bottom of this 3 plus hour majestical ride the sun appeared, the sweat dripped and we were now clad in T-shirts, mud and big smiles.  The colors, terrain and the textures unlike anything I have ever seen or ridden before in my life. The beauty of Iceland is simply breathtaking, and to be able to take in this magical ride is something I certainly do not take for granted. It is days like this that reinforce why I have a bucket list. Why it is so important to me to do things, see things and experience things rather than have things. Good health is not guaranteed. And certainly something one should never take for granted.  We can do our best to live our healthiest, but as I found out sometimes the cards have been dealt prior to birth and we never know what is lying in our hands or genes. What I can tell you is that I will always continue to add to my bucket list and always strive to check things off no matter what challenges should come my way.

The world is big and I want to have a good look before it gets dark. ” John Muir

The white hummer awaited us at the bottom with cold drinks thanks to Magnes staff.  The day was perfect and thankfully we were not repacking our clean bike gear for the trip home. That would have really sucked. Iceland CHECK!

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*For the Road riders you can ride or book with a bike tour company to travel parts or even the whole “Golden Circle” also known as Ring Road. This would be for those riders who can withstand the extreme strong winds, various terrain of tarmac and gravel along with various weather related road conditions along and steep hills.

Accommodations: We had debated on whether to stay at one of the bigger Hotels chains however even in the off season the rates seemed rather high and I personally preferred a location within a close walking distance to the main area of downtown Reykjavik.  Airbnb apartments will often showed up in your search as hotel rooms on the large travel sights so make sure when you are booking that you realize that a lot of these so called apartments are actually turn key hotel like rooms that are over other buildings with no lobby. There were many of these type rooms being built all over this area. We opted for small new Hotel called  Hotel Klettur  and were very please with our choice for it’s location, free continental breakfast, that went beyond just cereal and muffins and for its comfortable bed and linens.  It was furnished basic Scandinavian style furniture or as we American would say “looks like Ikea.”  If you are looking for fancy, book elsewhere.  

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Not So YOUNG, a Little WILD and Valversary THREE.

12 04 2018

 

Each year as April 8th approaches I look forward to going to the hospital and taking tests.  My goal is to pass tests and  by pass the surgeon. And by that I do not mean not bypass surgery, I mean do not have a reason to see the surgeon.  By heart I have the day’s routine down. Quick Cat Scan and off to Ultra Sound. Let me give a shout out to Ben at Penn Medicine for the “extra touch” of music videos.  Seriously watching Coldplay and then turning my head to see the ultrasound monitor showing my valve open and closing to the beat of Adventure of a Lifetime was  paradise. Really was cool.

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Once my tests are complete, I sit in a room in my surgeons office.  And although I know I feel great and that I exercised and trained hard this year to make my heart my strongest muscle, I sit and stare at the door in hopes Dr. Bavaria does not walk in.  Seeing him in his blue blazer over his scrubs would mean something isn’t pumping right, or he’s about to tell me the words I fear to hear one day that  it’s getting close to valve replacement time.  Knowing that this day will come and my aortic valve will need to replaced again is what drives me to take care of myself.  I am determined to walk in and walk out upright.  (Tissue /bioprosthetic valves have an average lifespan of  10 to 20 years) 

But lucky for me, GOD the name I like to call my surgeon, did not enter the room. I passed my tests, hit the elevator button, hit Schuylkill Expressway  and of course hit the gym for a long sweaty heart-pumping workout.  Another year down and time to train again for the life I so appreciate.  Diet and Exercise… if a doctor could write it on a prescription pad it would be the most prescribed medicine. Because people love to medicate then prevent. Gym floor or hospital floor?  Why would anybody choose the later.  While I have learned that my genes and cells  have come preprogramed for me at birth and that although I might do my best to live a healthy life style, I can’t out run, out lift or out program what unfortunate I was dealt with. What I can do is to be  physically and mentally strong to deal with anything that should be thrown my way.   A healthy heart BEATS a sick one.   So I workout like my life depends on it, cause it does.

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THREE YEARS  AGO , 5 DAYS POST OPP PEDDLING FOR MY OWN HEART.

THIS YEAR I PEDDLED FOR LITTLE HEARTS AT THE PHILLY SPIN-IN

I couldn’t of thought of a better way to celebrate my 3 year Valversary than to be one of the instructors at the Philly Spin-In for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.   Words cannot begin to tell you how appreciative I was to be a part of this event to raise money, awareness and a cure for congenital heart defects. To hear the stories, see the signs, see all the teams spinning and feel the love for all the heart warriors is a day I’ll remember and one that makes me feel blessed. The fund will run till the end of April so please donate cause little hearts need to grow up to be big hearts. You can donate at: Philly Spin In

It’s been another heart full year.

Hope

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Hope’s Heart is Spinning at The PHILLY SPIN-IN

12 01 2018
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This is my cousin Scott. We are both members of the zipper club. A club neither of us chose to join but came with the Congenital Heart Defect membership we both received at birth. That’s the reality for many parents. One of every 120 children is born with congenital heart disease.Others are diagnosed with a heart condition during childhood, and some acquire heart disease as they grow. All told, there are millions of children living with some type of pediatric heart disease. That is why my heart is spinning and why I need your heart to spin too. 
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On Sunday March 11, 2018 I am so excited and proud to be one of the Spin instructors at this years Philly Spin-In for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — a fun, high-energy, indoor cycling party to help children with heart disease. It truly is a big workout to help little hearts.  Like my cousin Scott who was born with a congenital heart defect known as TGA-Transposition of the great arteries Scott spent his first 17 days of his life at CHOP. Turning 14 years old next month Scott is a normal healthy active boy with no restrictions.  His parents are thankful for the amazing doctors, nurses and the whole team of professionals at the Cardiac Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
I am Spinning for a cause that couldn’t get any closer to my very own heart.
I was born with a CHD, a Bicuspid Aortic Valve and found out at age 50 when an aneurysm developed. But no parent should ever have to hear the words “Your child has congenital heart disease.”  That is why the Philly Spin- In is raising support for the Cardiac Center to make tomorrow’s breakthroughs possible at Children’s Hospital.
Please join me, other cycle instructors and hundreds of people for this amazing event to benefit Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
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RIDE/DONATE or DONATE 
Be on my team Hopeheartstrong  by making a donation and signing up to ride at this link:
As a team we need to raise $1000. The more we raise the more bikes we will have at the event. 
Or please DONATE.  You can make a donation to the event
Details on the Philly Spin-In at: PHILLY SPIN – IN
Philly Spin-In
Corporate Sponsorship info is also available on-line and by contacting
Amanda Calabrese
Associate Director, Peer to Peer Fundraising
3401 Civic Center Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19104
267-426-6477 ● f 267-426-6530
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While I am passionate about Health and Fitness and am a preacher of heart health even more so now after my open heart surgery, anyone who knows me well knows I am a Spinning lover! ( I am sure people who take my classes have other adjectives to describe me)  However, having been an instructor for almost 20 years I credit spinning and so did my doctors to the reason I made it to age 50 with a CHD.  Spinning gave me a strong healthy heart, a genetic defect gave me a bad valve.  On Sunday March 11th at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia I plan on spinning my heart out because I physically can! Because I am grateful for those that provided me the medical advances, technology and skills that keep my heart pumping. I hope that events like the Philly Spin – In forge new discoveries in cardiac care, bolster training programs, advocate for children in underserved communities, and quickly respond to new opportunities that may — one day — cure all children with pediatric heart disease. Please donate.
Thank you from my heart ❤  Hope
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SIP AND SNIFF THIS

23 10 2017

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3500 calories = 1 pound of Fat. Burn 500 calories a day more than you consume, you will lose about a pound a week. Increase you caloric burn and eat fewer calories. Sounds simple enough. Sorta like second grade math right.  So how is it that if you are smarter than a second grader you are not being wise enough to stop wasting your money buying diet products, powders, shakes and oils to lose weight and get healthy from “Karen” aka also known as Lindsay’s mom from school.  Maybe it’s “chick at the office” who friended you on social media. She invests money monthly in a  Shake program and posts before and after pictures of people’s success stories that she doesn’t know. They  are sent to her by the company and she has to post them and people comment “great job.” But they weren’t her clients. She has to post a certain amount of posts promoting the shakes in order to have the privilege to sell this product.  That’s why she’s hogging your feed all the time.  My very favorite is the friend who is now a Health Coach/Life Coach but last time I  spoke to her she couldn’t figure out her own life but she has now she took an on-line class on life and printed out a degree.  I not sure if she got a degree in Psychology or became a sommelier because if she’s not selling lotions, potions or oils she’s posting about wine. ” Thank god it’s “wine o’clock”, “Tonight forecast is 99% WINE” “You know what rhymes with Friday…Wine”  and “I can’t wait till the kids go to bed so I can pour myself some dinner.”

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I see  posts in my feed for “oils” and how wonderful and healthy they are for me and my children and my kitchen sink.  I see they have no chemicals and how safe they are for the environment. Is that gas guzzling SUV you’re driving mom safe for the environment. Does oils make hair dye? Hair spray?  Do you like parties?  Well apparently   women reach an age where getting out of the house becomes so vital that anything that sounds like a party is an excuse to put on your mom jeans, feed and bath the kids a little early and high tale it out to an “Oils Sniff and Sip” or maybe your party was called “Wine, Oils & Chocolate Pairings” or I like the one that was called “Hangover Rescues with Oils.”

 

I am a personal training aka ….. Therapist, Life Coach, the person people tend to vent to (we are like their hairdresser). I know what goes on at the party. Y’all are sitting around while Karen is peddling her oils telling you how you can lose weight by dabbing oil on your wrists  or dripping a drop in your sneakers before a run. You are drinking large goblets of  wine, eating and talking smack about the women who didn’t come to the party. They were smarter than a second grader and I know you really are too.

Now no one loses weight sniffing, drinking or dabbing oil on your wristlets before they workout. You lose weight by …….go up to the first line of this article.  Remember you are smarter than a second grader.  Wine is an alcoholic beverage. Some people think because it’s not “liquor”  it’s perfectly fine to have several glasses or a whole bottle.  Wine in moderation has been said to have some health benefits, but if you’re overweight, making your heart work extra hard for its age, clogging your arteries from a poor diet and lack of exercise , wine is not going to save you from heart disease or cardiac arrest.   And because wine is touted as beneficial to ones health, like dark chocolate women will tend to use this as an excuse to consume it.   Unfortunately  most women don’t drink wine in moderation. An average woman on a light drinking day, maybe while cooking dinner will drink an excess of 300 calories. That’s 2 glasses of wine or 1 large goblet.

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Now remember, you are smarter than a second grader.  Alcohol interferes with the brain and how it works. People make irrational decisions when drinking. They also make bad food choices often followed by  the  “I am so mad at myself for eating all that …” next day blues.    The long-term effects of drinking, here are a few:  fatty liver, high blood pressure, cirrhosis, problems with the pancreas and weak immune system and not to mention a list a cancers associated with excessive alcohol,  drinking doesn’t seem so whimsical.  People get caught up in the glitz and glamour of a glass of wine or a cocktail but alcohol is a drug killing 80,000 people a year. That’s not including drunk driving accidents. So just as alcohol and healthy seem odd in the same sentence, “Sip & Sniff” seems even more ridiculous.

As we drift into the final two months of the year you will be flooded with sales pitches, TV Ads and infomercials for all the diets and exercise plans that will be awaiting you and your New Years Resolution. If you are like most people you might be saying I’ll wait till the holiday’s are over to start. Why?  Scared to get on the scale? If the thought of stepping on a scale scares you now  imagine the fright January 1 of the new year or when you’re in your fifties and your metabolism really starts to slow, or when Bed Bath and Beyond doesn’t carry a scale that goes up to your poundage. Scary is being told you need to lose 50 pounds in order to have gastric bypass surgery which is needed in order for you to live another 5 years and you are only 53 years old.

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There is no tomorrow if you woke up today healthy. Thank your healthy stars and begin today.  There is no tomorrow if there is one second today you didn’t think about how you need to lose weight, how you shouldn’t have eaten something.  A scale usually tells us what most of us know already by the way our clothes fit.  It’s not going to bite you, it’s going to tell you how much you weigh. Naked or with your clothes on you can love it or hate it but it becomes a wake up call for most.  There’s a reason why you step on it at the doctors office…..because weight gain and weight loss in excess can signal a medical problem. I recommend to my clients stepping on the scale only once a week, Monday morning. Knowing this sometimes keeps them in check over the weekend so they don’t have a “weak“end. I have them text me a -1 (minus) or a +1 (plus) that’s it. I do sometimes get +2  and we talk about it when I see them.  But the client knows what happened. But Monday is the day to re-boot, re-start if need be.   No BS I tell them, just get back on track and not back on that scale till the following Monday.  Remember that fitness cannot be bought.  And a Registered Dietitian nutritionist is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements including: Earned a bachelor’s degree in this field. Make sure “Karen” has the proper degree before taking any health and nutritional advice. Would you let Karen operate on your heart? Would you let Karen give you her prescription heart meds. Well then don’t let her sell you anything that could affect you heart or your health.  With the increase of adults combining prescription and over-the-counter medications with supplements there has been a rise of serious side effects. You never want to take anything that can interact with your medication. Oils and natural supplements can reduce a drugs effectiveness as well as enhance it.  Be safe and be smart.

Remember you are way smarter than a second grader.

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This Workout is Brought to You by the Letter PEE

10 10 2016
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Excuse me while I step inside this room and put on my super hero cape.

I know what your saying. Pee, like peed your pants? Yep, like a piddle in your yoga pants or a leak in your running tights. Some young girl who is reading this is saying “Ewe Gross who does that?”  Just like I would have when I was young and had a perm, wore leg warmers, was queen of step aerobics.  A grapevine over the bench certainly would never have caused me to panic but after child birth came a new meaning to the phrase I laughed so hard I peed my pants.

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SUI, Stress urinary Incontinence or better known as “I just peed.” is a real problem and no laughing matter. I train a lot of women so I hear this often and when they say it we both usually laugh.  “I don’t like to jump a lot cause I’ll pee” is often heard. Well ladies you are far from alone. 1 out of every 3 women who have vaginal births have the same problem and even women who have never experienced child birth can have a weak bladder or weak pelvic floor muscles. Also as you age this muscle can weaken. The pelvic floor muscles control the urethra which is the bladders opening and this muscle like all muscles needs to stay strong.

Look at me, I am typing a blog but I bet you can’t tell I am also strengthening my pelvic muscles. That’s right I’m doing my kegal exercises. I’m not a giant leaker. Why? Because when I was pregnant the older women I worked with talked about this peeing problem  so much and they told me to do kegal exercises all the time.  I got so paranoid that for nine months I walked, drove, ate, worked and even peed doing my kegal exercises. Pee a little in the toilet and stop and pee a little and stop. I still do this.  I could break someones neck with my va-jay- jay by the time I gave birth but daughter number one and two decided to be C-Sections and didn’t take the route of the birth canal therefore not stretching out the scenery along the way.  Occasionally though I will forget to empty my bladder and start teaching a spin class and hello tight pelvic muscles ….do your job cause I cannot jump off this bike and leave my class hanging.

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Throughout my 15 years as a personal trainer I have suggested to my lovely ladies of leakage to insert a tampon. The pressure of the tampon can add pressure and  support the uterus and stop urinary incontinence. Some makers of tampons have gotten smart and now market basically a tampon for SUI. I also know a lot of gals wear a panty liner. But they all say it’s annoying, moves and is gross. Especially with workout clothes. So when I saw an ad for Pee-Proof undies called Icon I thought let’s give this panties a wiz.

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Loaded up on my usual cups of coffee and lot’s of water I put on my big girl panties by Icon, tighten my ponytail and began my workout which consisted of some treadmill running, jump rope, lot’s of squats with jumps, weight lifting and abdominal exercises. Most of the time when one of my client’s say’s “I’ve got to run to the bathroom I leaked” it’s during abs. So I made sure to hit the abs hard. The Icon panties have a built in absorbent liner and it was not bulky nor cumbersome. You could not see the panties through my tights and I normally go commando in my workout pants so this was great. The Icon pantie comes in a thong, bikini style and a high waist and are  $30 a pair.  While that might sound pricey to you, but unlike a panty liner you wash them and wear them again.  Pantie liners  are $3-$8 a box and tampons even more. I tested the black bikini in a size medium.  I should have gone with the small.  I also should have, knowing I was going to put these through the workout test and I get major *SWASS  should have ordered the thong style. I may not be a major leaker but I am a major sweater and wick away underwear wouldn’t help.  You can go on their web sight and check out the styles and their sizes.   Now I do not look as sexy and gorgeous as the models above in my Icon panties which is why there is no picture of me leaping across your screen in my panties but I am giving you an honest review of this product as I often am asked to promote things and most often say no. The icon pantie was really nice. Felt great. Looked nice and being someone who has worn bike shorts, I really felt nothing in crotch area. SUI is a serious problem for women so I do recommend these  panties cause nothing makes you feel less sexy than grabbing those old granny panties in the back of the panty drawer, oh you have them,  and sticking a piece of paper with a glue strip in the crotch. It’s reminds me of the mouse traps in my basement and that my friends is ewe.

Here is a link for $10 off your Icon order: $10 DISCOUNT ICON.COM

*SWASS noun. A contraction of the words sweat and ass. A non gender-specific term used to describe the sweat found around a person’s ass.  Better known as “sweaty ass” and “swamp ass”

“IF I CAN MAKE AT LEAST ONE PERSON SMILE, LAUGH  OR PEE THEIR PANTS  A LITTLE THAN I DID MY JOB FOR THE DAY.” Hope Nagy Personal Trainer

 

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