Taking on the challenge after cancer battle

Shelly Steele of Abbotsford finds renewed energy and health after an eight-week lifestyle challenge

Shelly Steele is shown before and after completing an eight-week lifestyles challenge.

Shelly Steele is shown before and after completing an eight-week lifestyles challenge.

An Abbotsford woman is crediting an eight-week fitness challenge with helping her regain energy and feel healthy again after a battle with cancer.

Shelly Steele began the “8 Week Run and Thrive Challenge,” along with her husband, in October after posters promoted the endeavour at Apollo Athletic Club in Abbotsford.

Steele said she has spent much of her life yo-yo dieting, at times losing as much as 50 pounds. At her heaviest, she weighed 239 pounds six years ago.

She and her husband joined Apollo in April 2012 and began exercising regularly and eating better. Each lost more than 50 pounds over the next year.

Then, on Dec. 31, 2013, Steele discovered a lump on her breast, and she was diagnosed a month later with stage 2 breast cancer, which had spread to one of her lymph nodes.

Steele had a double mastectomy with reconstruction on Feb. 26, 2014, followed by 18 chemotherapy treatments between April and Oct. 10.

Steele said the period between her surgery and the end of her chemo was challenging.

“After my surgery, I tried to exercise but I was having to start over from the beginning. That was hard. I had come so far previously but now I was back at square one.”

She said the chemotherapy zapped her energy and she rarely went to the gym. As well, her eating habits worsened, and she gained 10 pounds.

By the time Steele saw the poster for the eight-week challenge, she was ready for a change. She and her husband began on Oct. 13 – just three days after she completed her cancer treatment – with the support of personal trainer Maria Dyment.

The challenge featured webinars from Mark Macdonald – an American diet, nutrition, fitness and health expert and author of the best seller Body Confidence – as well as videos and an online recipe page with healthy, well-balanced meals.

Steele exercised four to six days each week and incorporated weight training, fitness classes, walking and group fitness hikes into her routine.

At the six-week weigh-in, Steele was down 23 pounds and had lost 9.75 per cent body fat.

Most importantly, she felt better than she had in a year. “My energy level and exercise routine is almost back to what it was pre-cancer. I cannot believe the difference this has made in my life,” she said.

Steele said she is excited to see where the future leads her.

“No more yo-yos, except as a toy to play with.”