Yesterday I went for my first longish post-surgery walk. It was 5k and I threw in some running intervals!
Today I’m back on the spin bike, 55 minutes (longer than usual, but less intense)!
Since my diagnosis, I have expressed to people my desire to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight. I know that sounds funny because traditionally a lot of people lose weight during cancer and chemotherapy, but the truth with breast cancer is a lot of women gain weight due the medications for chemo side effects and the hormonal changes treatment brings on.
These days everybody is telling me how skinny I am, and then assuming that it’s because of stress or the cancer. It’s actually not! It’s because I worked for it! I did lose some weight when first waiting to be diagnosed, but quickly gained it back. I tend to be somebody who cannot eat during acute stress, but as soon as it becomes more normal I want to overeat! Knowing this, I’ve actually made extra efforts to eat well and exercise since those first few weeks (because my impulse was to be a lump on the couch watching Netflix and eating peanut butter by the spoonful for the past 2 months!). I currently weigh the exact same thing I did when we were in BlueMountain, and I worked very hard to get into that shape and to stay in it, particularly for the bat mitzvah.
Now, it is very important for me to keep up my habits. I know that there will be times I won’t be able to, but I also know the more that I do when I can, the easier it will be to get them back. This is so important to me for a few reasons!
1. I am fighting for my life. But I don’t just mean any life, I mean my life. I worked so hard to have a life that includes being fit, active and a healthy weight that I feel good about. Being this person makes me happy, I want to be the same person on the other side of cancer.
2. I don’t want to have to buy a whole new wardrobe!
3. Maintaining fitness and a healthy weight reduces my likelihood of recurrence. Right now I’m not even at the place where I need to be worried about recurrence, but I will be eventually, and anything I can do to avoid that is good for me!
4. Being fit and active it’s part of who I am. It’s my normal. Even though sometimes it’s hard to make myself work out, I always feel better when I do. Of course I gave myself a break after surgery, but was eager to get back to my regular activity as soon as I could. It’s my therapy! It makes me feel good about myself and strong, and I need that right now!
5. Being cancer free is not the only part of being healthy, the rest of my body still matters, and regular exercise and maintaining my weight is important for my health.
I’m not crazy, I know all these expectations I’m putting on myself to stay fit may not work out. I may not be able to exercise barely at all for a few months or a year, I may gain 10 or 30 or 60 pounds. I may have to start all over and if that happens so be it, it will be worth it to be cancer free!
But for now, maintaining my regular habits (and size) makes me feel normal, and makes me feel like I’m doing something to avoid a whole new battle (major weight loss) after cancer and well as doing something to minimize my risk of reccurance, and to stay as healthy as possible in spite of having cancer. For now, I’m just happy to be back being active as much as I can for as long as I can!