Taking My Life Back at 46… The Journey, by Tamara Campbell, RN

Where do I begin?  My journey to take back my life began at age 46, as a journey to become healthy.

I am the wife of an amazingly supportive husband and mother of 3 boys. My youngest was born with cerebral palsy – spastic quadriplegia, which would later leave him dependent on a wheelchair and full care.  This meant I had to work the night shift to be home to care for him during the day. My 2 eldest boys were very active in rep hockey from the age of 5 through 16 with my oldest continuing on when drafted into the OHL.  This meant if I wasn’t working, I was at appointments by day with my youngest or I spent most evenings at a hockey rink.

When I wasn’t parenting, I had an incredible career as a full time RN.  My career started at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit where I worked for 2 years. From there I moved to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and stayed for 10 years.  The stress was starting to show. My commute was an hour long before and after my 12 hour shifts.  I often found myself in tears driving home after a difficult day at work.  I loved the work but for how much longer could I do it?  I made the decision to move to a hospital closer to home.  They didn’t have a pediatric ICU, so that meant returning to class to complete certification in adult ICU, yet another stressor, but I saw it as temporary.

I settled into my new position in an adult ICU close to home.  My commute was 12 minutes.  My kids were getting older and less dependent. Then it happened. I attended a family gathering and of course pictures were taken.  I was shocked.  Who was this person?  I always saw myself at a healthy weight, but not this person in the pictures.  What had happened over the past 15years?  I guess I was delusional that because my life was so busy, I must be fit. After all, I had been  athletic in my younger years, and I still felt young.. I could give a million excuses. I had had 3 kids,  I was tired, I was busy going to appointments for my son on my days off. Basically I had devoted every spare moment to my family.  Somewhere along the way I had forgotten about ME!  I had taken a back seat for everybody else.  It was time for ME!  I hadn’t realized it, but the stress of life had taken a toll on me physically and emotionally. I was depressed  at the fact I had let myself go.

The “Before”

I needed to start practicing what I had been preaching to my kids.  You are what you eat. Don’t just settle on mediocre,  give anything you do your all. Once you start something you finish it. After all, my eldest boys had excelled in hockey, and my youngest had excelled beyond doctors’ expectations.  So at age 46 I joined a gym, and with it I got 20 sessions with a trainer.  To be honest I was not going to do more than those sessions with a trainer. I thought I would learn the exercises and be done.  From there I could do it myself.  And so began the journey.

The first few months were agony.  My trainer kept pushing me.  After 6 months it started to feel somewhat less painful. I was losing weight, my endurance was better, and people were seeing me happier and healthier. Besides seeing my trainer twice a week, I was doing spin classes and jogging when my kids were at school. My confidence was increasing.  So much so that I thought I could do a half marathon.  Nope, I don’t start with a 5 or 10 km race.  10 months after I started my journey I had completed a half marathon!  I had the bug. What else could I do?

I was feeling great. Exercising was the key to stress relief. I needed to keep going. I needed to keep setting goals for myself. When I wasn’t exercising I wasn’t happy.

The gym I attended was having an indoor triathlon.  Swim in the pool x 10 minutes, bike on the stationary bike x 30 minutes, and run on the treadmill x 20 minutes.  I could do that and see if I liked it.  Well that was the beginning of triathlons for me. I started to train towards a “real” outdoor sprint triathlon. Within 6 months I was ready for my first sprint. Since I didn’t even have a bike, I rented one from the local bike shop. I didn’t want to commit to buying a bike until I had actually done a real triathlon. Unfortunately, due to water conditions, it ended up being a duathlon.  By this point the Canadian triathlon season was over.   I was determined to do a “real” triathlon. It was going to be a goal for the next year, and in the meantime I would continue to train each discipline.

By the time the next spring rolled around I was in the shape I wanted to be in.  I had purchased a bike.  I had lost weight and I thought my conditioning just might be enough for an Olympic distance triathlon. Was I crazy?  I hadn’t even really done a triathlon.  Well as it would happen, our family vacation to Tennessee happened to coincide with an Olympic distance triathlon.  Truth be told, I think my husband planned this.  As it would happen I won my age group in that race. My first “real” triathlon, and I win my division.  This as it turns out qualified me for the US Nationals the following year.  What an experience that was.  What an incredible supportive group of athletes.  I haven’t turned back since.  This year, at the age of 50, I trained for a 70.3 Ironman. My first attempt resulted in a concussion on the swim from a kick to the head.  Having done the training I wasn’t going to let that be it. On my second attempt, 5 weeks later, I completed my first 70.3 Ironman.

I keep setting goals for myself. It keeps me going, and it keeps me healthy both mentally and physically.  People ask me how I do it. I tell them it gives me time, and space to myself. It’s my stress free zone.  My life is busy. I am coming up on my 17th year working full time in the ICU, 29 years in nursing.  I am still relatively new to triathlon, with just 4 years under my belt. My youngest is now in high school, and striving for independence. My older boys attend university and college. My husband is still by my side encouraging and supporting me with whatever I set out to do.

The “After’

Tamara was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She studied nursing at George Brown College in Toronto and has been an RN for 28 years, specializing in Critical Care for 26years. She has been married to her husband for 26years, who is also an RN. Together they have 3 boys.  When she is not training for triathlons she enjoys sunny vacations, family barbecues and jujubes. She has a secret passion for Veterinary Medicine. She is grateful to be surrounded by supportive and always cheering family and friends.


45 Replies to “Taking My Life Back at 46… The Journey, by Tamara Campbell, RN”

  1. I know you better and deeper. Realize that it life is not just a shot of tequila. I am so proud to call you my friend your journey is an impt life transformation that I can relate to .thanks for sharing your story. You are a good example for people who forget about the importance of the word ME..
    Thanks Tammy !!!

  2. tam– i did not know much about your children but i am very proud of your story…. i also met you during the time of “how shocked” you were to realize about how you almost forgot about yourself… although you always were very nice/funny as a MET nurse, always had fun talking with you… i am so glad to be a witness to your transformation– remember all the pointers you would give me about proper exercises as we talked in the morning …. and the sport competitions you’ve been a part of and i always cheered on… so proud of you !!!!!! you look amazing and is still very nice !!! P.S. i am still in pain from the exercises you showed me years ago– hahahh…

  3. What a wow moment. Fellow Canadian. Just did my first Exterra Tri at our Sleeping Giant park past August to celebrate my 65th. I love the challenge. I drive my cardiologist crazy with my goals. Keep going

  4. What a fantastic story to share, I think so many moms can relate! Myself and many friends have just turned 40, and say we are all at our fattest!! It’s hard to make time for yourself, but so important. Way to go, and thanks for sharing!

  5. Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this blog. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very difficult to get that “perfect balance” between usability and visual appeal. I must say you have done a fantastic job with this. Additionally, the blog loads extremely quick for me on Safari. Excellent Blog!

  6. I really love your blog.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you build this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m wanting to create my own personal site and would like to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Kudos!

  7. Hi, Neat post. There is an issue together with your website in web explorer, might test this? IE nonetheless is the marketplace leader and a huge component to folks will pass over your magnificent writing due to this problem.|

  8. I got this web site from my buddy who shared with me regarding this site and now this time I am browsing this web page and reading very informative posts at this time.|

  9. I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your information. This great article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to book mark your blog and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.

  10. whoah this blog is magnificent i like reading your articles. Stay up the good work! You know, a lot of individuals are looking round for this info, you could aid them greatly. |

  11. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

  12. Thank you for sharing superb informations. Your web site is so cool. I am impressed by the details that you’ve on this website. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched everywhere and just could not come across. What a perfect web-site.

  13. Hello, I think your site may be having internet browser compatibility problems. Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic website!|

  14. excellent publish, very informative. I ponder why the opposite experts of this sector don’t understand this. You should continue your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  15. Hello! I realize this is sort of off-topic but I had to ask. Does managing a well-established blog like yours take a lot of work? I am completely new to writing a blog however I do write in my diary everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!|

  16. Link exchange is nothing else except it is just placing the other person’s weblog link on your page at suitable place and other person will also do similar in favor of you.|

  17. I seriously love your website.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you build this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my own personal website and would like to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Kudos!|

  18. This is a good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate information… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

  19. I am really loving the theme/design of your weblog. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility issues? A handful of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari. Do you have any tips to help fix this problem?|

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *