December 22, 2023

Kic helped me find my confidence again

At Kic, our community is the driving force behind everything we do. Without our dedicated Kic Squad, we wouldn’t be where we are today. As we continue to grow and evolve, we want to hear and celebrate the positive impact that Kic has had on our communities’ lives.

Meet Jess Van Zeil, she’s been a Kic community member since 2021. She’s a cancer survivor with a positive attitude. At 21, Jess was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer, Conjunctival Ocular Melanoma. For 8 months Jess went through countless surgeries and then unfortunately was given two options; either remove the eye and close over the eye socket for good or keep her eye and have less than 5 years to live.

Jess switched her mindset about feeling defeated about her diagnosis to feeling empowered. “I realised that this was not going to beat me, I’d been given a second chance. I have my whole life ahead of me, I’ll put my fists up and fight. I woke up the next morning feeling powerfully positive and decided that not only was I going to wear an eyepatch and have the most incredible collection of eyepatches the world has ever seen.”

Jess unfortunately had another scare a year later, where she experienced unexpected seizures. They soon found Jess had one large tumour and several small ones in her brain. Jess underwent brain surgery and was filled with an even greater determination to make the best of her situation. 

“8 hours out of surgery, due to a lot of determination, I moved my leg. I got it an inch off the bed and I let out an excited squeal, it was in that moment I realised I really could do anything I put my mind to! From there I spent the next 7 months in and out of hospital, on treatment and learning to walk and eventually run again. It was an emotional journey filled with a lot of frustration but every day I focused on being grateful, for the people around me, the opportunities I have been given and the life I have lived.”

Jess is now living a healthy and powerful life, filled with positivity and resilience. Jess has been an active and vibrant member of the Kic community since 2021, and we are so lucky to have had the chance to chat with her about why she loves Kic and why she’s focusing feeling good. 

How long have you been with Kic?

I have been with Kic since the start of 2021. One of my best friends had been using Kic and recommended it when I was looking for an alternative way to move my body at home through the Melbourne lockdowns. I was missing the gym a lot!

How has Kic impacted your life?

Kic for me is so deeply embedded in my day to day life. I use all elements of the app – programs, masterclasses, meditations and meals. I use the meditations every night to help with sleep. We have quite a few of the recipes on rotation in our household. The chicken and broccoli pasta, one pot lasagna, the zucchini and pearl cous cous salad, and the fajita tray – just to name a few! They’re quick, easy and incredibly tasty – just what we need after a big day at work. But, the biggest impact for me has been the movement and exercise element. Pre-cancer and even pre stage 4 diagnosis, I was incredibly active. I loved running, weight-lifting and I grew up as judo athlete. I have always loved moving my body and trying new sports. However, going through the cancer and more so the loss of my eye, which impacted my depth perception, really impacted this. The brain surgery had me relearning to walk and altered the way my body moved and functioned permanently. As a result I really struggled to get back into a stable routine with exercise after my stage 4 diagnosis.

Kic helped me find a way back to routine by making movement and exercise accessible with short sessions that are easy to adapt and follow from home. I have loved making my way through different masterclasses and most recently getting back into the gym with the lift program. I had lost so much confidence in my bodies ability and had struggled to get back to lifting weights because I didn’t know where to start, I just knew I missed feeling strong.

I have also had to work on my mindset and create a space for grace and compassion to myself that movement will look different every single day. My goal I work towards every day is to consciously move my body for at least 30 minutes, that could be a walk, a Kic Pilates class, a Kic stretching session, a run from the running program or a lift session. I don’t put parameters on myself because I know what my body needs changes every single day.

Lastly being able to reach out to an online community when I have questions or need to adapt an exercise for my abilities has been such a bonus! It’s also so nice to read everyone else’s wins and questions. It makes me feel a little less alone.

Why do you think it’s so important to focus on feeling good, rather than looking a certain way?

I think this question is so much more complex than people often think. For many of us we are undoing decades of mental programming about looking a certain way and that is so hard to do. A few things I have learnt through everything I’ve been though is that my body changes day to day, in the way it looks, in the way it functions and in what it’s capable of doing. My body (and all of our bodies) are freaking phenomenal! My beautiful body is capable, adaptable and resilient. It allows me to move and experience life and joy and pleasure daily. I have never felt better than when I stopped focused on how I looked and started to appreciate, respect and (eventually) fall in love with my body and in turn focusing on what my body needs and wants rather than punishing it.

I have the blessing of understanding and appreciating the fact that getting to move and fuel my body, in anyway, is a privilege and something not to take for granted.

We are immensely proud of our community for their growth, evolution and the positive changes they have made in their mindset about health and fitness. If you’d like to share your story, fill out the Q&A here.