Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
Fat cells can harbor extra estrogen. With this in mind, doesn't it make sense for women affected by estrogen-fed cancer to become conscious of their weight?
The new year is here, and with it come many well-intentioned resolutions. One of the top resolutions made every year is to lose weight. In order to accomplish this lofty goal, one either has to increase their amount of physical activity or decrease their consumption of daily calories. In theory, it seems an easy thing to do, but in reality, it's not.
For those of us dealt the cancer card, we know there's a great responsibility to do whatever possible to maximize our life expectancy. Taking good care of our health is tantamount. And since estrogen-fed cancer really loves all those extra fat cells, it behooves us to reduce or eliminate as many of them as possible.
Excess weight is unhealthy. We all know that. It puts excess strain on our bones, our organs and our joints. But, for one affected by cancer, that excess weight poses even greater risks. Excess fat can prompt a recurrence of some types of cancer. For me, that's a scary thought. You see, right after my diagnosis, the medical team discovered my cancer was fed by both estrogen and progesterone. I was told that excess fat on my body was dangerous. Fat cells fueled by estrogen could make the likelihood of a recurrence higher than normal in my case. With that knowledge, I knew I had to do something about it.
I'll admit it. I'm carrying around a few more pounds than I'd like. It would be wise for me to shed a little weight. I'd feel better, look better and hopefully be adding a few more years to my life. Every time I take a bite of food, I wonder if I'm not only feeding my body, but also feeding those greedy little cancer cells potentially lurking in my body. I definitely don't want to feed them! So, in an effort to keep cancer at bay, I decided to put myself on a new health regimen that included an increase in physical activity and a decrease in the amount of calories I consume on a daily basis.
With plan in mind, for Christmas, I bought myself a pretty little watch-like gadget I can wear on my wrist to track steps and heart rate. Ten thousand steps a day is the suggested minimum daily activity. That sounds like a lot of steps, but really, it's just under five miles a day. I also bought a cute set of spandex workout clothes. Although no one other than myself would see my attempts at exercise, I wanted to look the part. I thought if I looked like I knew what I was doing, I might just accomplish great things! I added a large-capacity water bottle to my fitness arsenal and stocked my fridge with healthy fruits and veggies. I was gearing up for conquering those extra pounds. With just a few days remaining in the old year, I gave myself permission to enjoy some of the holiday goodies, vowing to work hard in the first week of the New Year to rid myself of those extra calories.
Well, the first day of the New Year rolled around and I did pretty well. I watched what I ate all day long. I did my best to move more than usual and managed to clock 795 steps, most of which were to the bathroom and back after having increased my water intake dramatically. Toward the end of the day, I felt my sweet tooth rising. There on the counter was a platter of leftover Christmas delicacies and they were calling out my name with a vengeance. Before you even read it, you're right. I caved. I gave in to those yummy chocolate cookies as I totally forgot my well-laid plans. After my hunger was satiated, the remorse set in. I'd failed. I'd probably given some rogue cancer cell enough fuel to start growing. So, I did what any other dieter would do, I told myself I'd start over again tomorrow.
Anyone out to lose weight battles those types of urges every minute of the day. It takes a lot of restraint to keep fit and trim. But for those of us who've battled cancer, we know we have the resolve to do whatever it takes to win the war and by golly, we work hard to do it.
With a good plan in mind, chances for success are great. Limiting calories, moving more, drinking more water and eliminating sugary desserts may seem like a form of punishment, but ultimately, those efforts will pay off.
If you find yourself on the higher end of the healthy weight spectrum, be realistic as you're setting goals. Smaller goals are easier to accomplish than larger ones. To lose a pound of fat, you'll need to burn 3,500 calories or reduce your current caloric intake by 500 calories a day for a week.
I see by my activity tracker that I've only logged 823 steps today so I'd better get up and get moving. I have an appointment with my oncologist in February, and I'm hoping to have lost at least 20 pounds at that weigh in.
Knowing I'm controlling what I can about my health makes me feel good. Cancer doesn't necessarily have the upper hand in my life anymore, and I'm extremely glad about that. And even on the days when I don't feel like exercising, I'm going to commit to do it. My fitness tracker will help keep me accountable if I remember to walk into my office and charge it up.