As well as being a cancer blogger, Laura Yeager is a religious essayist and a mental health blogger. A graduate of The Writers’ Workshop at The University of Iowa, she teaches writing at Kent State University and Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Laura survived cancer twice.
Both times I had cancer, I put on several pounds. The first time in 2011, I gained about 20. I never took those pounds off. The second time in 2016, I gained about five more. It was my inactivity during these times that put the weight on, coupled with depression. And lo and behold, I was up to 195 pounds. At 5’3,” this is a bit of a problem. So now, I find myself having to take off at least 25 pounds to return to my "before cancer" weight.
I've been dieting and recording the calories of everything I put into my mouth. I do this on paper with a pen, not with an app or anything fancy. At this point, I've lost about 13 of my 25 cancer pounds.
But something unfortunate happened. My scale broke. And there is no way I can make this weight loss journey without a trusty scale. So, I headed to Walmart to buy a new one. Our old scale had been an electronic one, the kind where the numbers flash when you step on it, but prefer the old-fashioned kind of scale, where you could see the dial spin. Walmart had both kinds.
Standing there in the Walmart aisle, curiosity got the best of me. I was dying to know what the dial scale would say. Last time I'd weighed myself, I'd been 182 pounds, again, exactly 13 pounds less than 195.
Cautiously, I opened the box and took the scale out. There was no way I was going to buy a scale until I investigated to see how much I weighed on it.
Stepping on it, I could see that this baby weighed me at 178. I liked it.
Then, I got greedy. If this one weighed me four pounds less than the one at home, could I find one that was even better, that weighed me even less?
I opened another one, this time, an electronic model. Out of the packaging it came. But this one weighed me 187! There was no way I was going to purchase this faulty thing.
OK. One more. So, I opened another dial scale. 184. Nope, not this one.
I wondered at this point if a member of the security team was watching me on a surveillance camera. If so, he or she was an extremely cool security guard. Maybe this person was overweight and understood my plight.
I didn't have the nerve to try another scale. Thank goodness the scale boxes sealed back up the way I’d found them. No harm done.
Of course, I went with the one that weighed me 178. Desperate times called for desperate measures.
A day later, I got on my new dial scale, and it said 175. I had obviously purchased the right one.
Losing the cancer weight is something I have to do one day at a time. And then, after the bulk comes off, I’ll tackle the rest of the weight I put on in middle age in general.
It is my hope to return to my “20s weight”—125 pounds.
Can I do it?
Probably not, but I’ll be satisfied with hovering around 150 or 160.
If you’ve put on pounds before, during and/or after cancer, I encourage you to lose them. Returning to good health has its benefits, and one of them can be getting skinny again!
Or at least pleasantly plump.