Exercise (R)Evolution

My exercise routine has gone through quite an evolution from college to motherhood and life on the transplant list.

Sept. 15, 2015 | 5 min read
Tara Telford

In March 2015 I finally heard the words that I had been waiting 18 months to hear: “We would like to activate you on the waiting list for a double lung transplant.” Music to my ears, and my old tired worn-out CF lungs. I'm 39 years old now and it's time for that Hail Mary pass, if I am so blessed to receive it, as all the CF treatments in the world have been exhausted on my worn out body.

As a child growing up with three siblings, I did all the things that other children of the '80s were doing. We rode our bikes past dusk, went rollerblading around town and built a skateboard half-pipe in our backyard. We played roller hockey in the street, basketball at the high school, ran the track just to see how fast our skinny knobby knees could run a mile, swam at the local pool, and of course, played in our own backyard. During grade school, I also played recreational soccer, which I took a long hiatus from but came back to in college.

My Exercise Revolution

I spent nights at college running from league to league, playing up to three games in one evening. I would often finish a roller hockey game, then skate to soccer and then hike to the pool.

I had finally awakened my competitive spirit. My college years were the most active years of my life. 

After graduation, I started working full time. I found a workout partner and we took our lunch breaks at PE classes at the local community college. During winter months, we signed up for yoga and weightlifting after work. I also played in an adult indoor soccer league. By the time I got married at 25, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life; but I had to work extra hard at it. My CF lungs were getting more diseased and my FEV1 slowly dipped year by year, no matter my compliance or exercise regimen. 

A Shift in Priorities

When I was 28 years old, taking care of my infant twins became my life. I had to give up rigorous exercise. My idea of exercising was walking around the block, pushing a double stroller.

Me, the kids, Paul and our dog, Orion, at the Sacramento Great Strides walk in 2005.

Me, the kids, Paul and our dog, Orion, at the Sacramento Great Strides walk in 2005.

When the twins were 5 years old, in 2009, I decided to take up running. I was running nine miles a week to get ready for my 5K race in October 2010. I ran with an oxygen tank strapped to my back cranked up to five liters per minute. I finished the 5K in less than 50 minutes. My legs felt stronger, but my FEV1 was still declining. I decided running was not for me after a 12 month trial.

Over the last four years, I have become very sedentary. I used to bike to drop off the twins at a variety of local after-school activities, but eventually I started driving them to said activities. As my health declined, I focused on raising my twins and keeping up with the daily regimen of CF treatments. In the winter of 2015, when I was being considered for lung transplantation, the team asked me to start exercising again. This seemed daunting as I was chained to oxygen 24/7, but I agreed.

My husband, Paul, and me at the Sacramento Cowtown 5K in 2010.

My husband, Paul, and me at the Sacramento Cowtown 5K in 2010.

Exercising Today

As my CF has progressed, I've begun to view my exercise revolution from college as just a part of my exercise evolution of life.

Today, my exercise goals are very different than those of my college days. I commit to walking half a mile around the block. I have also added squats to my routine. It's very important to have strong legs and a strong core before transplant because you cannot use your arms for stabilization due to the placement of the surgery site.

When I think about exercise post-transplant, I am ecstatic. I can't wait to hit the gym. I am looking forward to exercising like a beast and turning my limp extremities into lean mean muscle machines. But most of all, I can't wait to dance, play soccer, swim and keep up with my 10-year-old twins. 

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

Share this article
Lung Transplantation | Fitness

Tara lives in California with her family and received a double-lung transplant on January 1, 2016. She attributes her successful recovery to the abiding support of her husband, mother, two sisters, brother and in-laws, who live nearby.

November 2017 -- We were deeply saddened to learn of Tara's passing. Tara opened her heart to the CF community through our blog. She will be missed by many.

Recent Community Posts
Cycling Across America
Blog | 5 min read
Reflecting on 50 Years of Volunteering
Blog | 5 min read
How My Brother Inspired Me to Give Back
Blog | 7 min read