Sunday, October 03, 2010
Radiation treatments have started off well, no adverse reactions so far. Day 5/25 tomorrow. I'm still having problems with my finger and toe nails from chemo, but they're manageable. I don't look forward to having to wear boots this winter, but perhaps by then it will be over.
My biggest news, though, is that I went for a short walk in the woods today for the first time in over a year. A sore back has prevented me from doing much of anything for well over a year, but making sure I'm active just a little bit each day has given me a new lease on life. I mean, I expected to eventually get better with the combined exercise/weight loss, but I didn't think it would happen so quickly!
Ido not have the words to express my joy. I'm feeling really jazzed. Although I've had a few slip-ups, I've been staying on track with regard to my nutrition, and done a few weight training and cardio exercises. That's it. Nothing intense or sustained for long periods of time. Short bursts. Very manageable.
Success! Feels great! I have no doubt that it will continue, and that I'm going to be coming out of this cancer adventure much better than I was when I went into it.
Friday, October 01, 2010
This month is structured around my radiation treatments (rads) for the breast cancer, a treatment every week-day the entire month. My October goal in a snapshot is to balance my energy to minimize the side effects of the rads (which are typically skin irritation and fatigue) while protecting my progress so far.
To keep me focused and accountable, my first tool is tracking my “100-Day Challenge” (a count-down to the New Year) wherein I have committed to the following:
• Log in food every day
• Keep my sodium under 1500 mg per day
• Eat at least 5 fruit/veg per day
• Drink 8 glasses of water per day
• Do 15 minutes of exercise every day
I am also participating on the 10-Minute Daily Exercise Streak (I’ve just started week 2). My medical team doesn’t want me to overdo the exercise, because fatigue is apparently cumulative and they don’t want me exhausted when the rads fatigue kicks in. So my minimum for this is going to be walking (aiming for 5000 steps per day), and my stealth exercise (see Sept review post). Anything over and above that is bonus to me, and will be dependent on my energy levels.
The third challenge I’ve joined is directly relates to my medical team’s advice: to improve my sleep habits as healing is done in the REM period of sleep, which occurs about 4 hours into sleep. I have always been a very light sleeper, and a night owl. The combination means that sometimes I can go 3-4 days with only a very few hours of sleep. Not acceptable. So I’ve joined the “Official Better Sleep Challenge”.
Along with the challenges of meeting the above goals, I have Canadian Thanksgiving and an in-law 25th Wedding Anniversary party to contend with. On the plus side, they both happen the same week-end! The party is being hosted by a very, very good gourmet cook, and will be crowded (about 175 people), so exhausting. But it will be so, so, soooo much fun, I can’t wait!
Friday, October 01, 2010
I thought I would ‘close off’ September by reviewing what it meant for me. I started to actively address my lack of fitness on August 23, 2010. At that point, I joined an Internet weight loss group that I found interesting. However, I wanted something more, something with a wider scope, as weight loss has never really been my primary goal. My vision is actually to regain a level of activity and involvement that I had before I had thyroid and breast cancer. Losing weight is absolutely a part of that, but by no means the end goal.
Someone in that other group mentioned SparkPeople. I came to check it out, and it immediately struck me as being exactly what I’m looking for: a combination nutrition, exercise, and community support. I immediately signed-on: that was September 9, 2010.
Lessons learned so far:
• Some of the things that were certainties for me - my legs are stronger than my arms, I do eat a low-sodium diet, I know what a serving size looks like - turned out to be false.
• For this to really work in addressing my lack of fitness, I must approach everything as if it were new.
• It’s easy to sneak in exercise into my day – stealth exercise! I’ve been doing some every time I go to the bathroom, no matter where I am. Wall push-ups. Hip flexes. Whatever, as long as it’s something. Going to the bathroom happens regularly and throughout the day, without exception. Now, so does exercise. Easy. More importantly, I’ll be able to continue this when I return to work.
• It doesn't take much to make a difference. A month ago I couldn't do one aisle in the grocery store without my back killing me, and that was hanging on to the cart like a walker. On September 25th, I did the groceries alone while DH ran another errand!
• Keeping track of my food via SparkPeople is probably the biggest learning experience I’ve had so far, and I can’t imagine a day without it now. It’s not the calories; it’s the sodium and the potassium that surprised me (and are still a challenge!)
• I’ve re-discovered my love for music.
• I can survive Birthday Week without eating dessert, binging, etc. (my husband and my birthdays are in the same week!). And I didn’t feel like I missed anything!
In the interests of full disclosure, I started on August 23 at 258.4 lbs; on September 30, I weighed in at 243.2 lbs. Goal weight is 120 lbs (give or take).
Now on to establish my goals for October!
Thursday, September 30, 2010
The commitments I had undertaken are not going too badly - SparksPeople makes it so easy to track things. Big problem is still the unexpected: e.g. had a muffin yesterday at the hospital coffee shop. 820 mg of sodium! It's nearly as bad as eating seafood, but without the luxury, and that's just WRONG!
Rads are ok, I'm on 3/25 today. I've got some nausea, but I'm not sure that's due to the rads (just hope it's not the flu or something!)
I was able to do some cardio on the stat bike again today, and that always feels like a great accomplishment to me. I'll be walking at the hospital - should be able to get my pedometer set up properly today (I'll bring the manual this time to be sure LOL). I've also signed on for the sleep challenge, since my med team keeps telling me sleep is gooood (what a concept!). Apparently, healing all happens while you're in REM sleep, which kicks in about 4 hours into your sleep. I'm lucky if I sleep 4 hours in a row - never been a good sleeper.
I'm looking forward to the week-end. It always seems so quiet around here with my dh at work and my ds at school/soccer during the week. We want to go on one of the fall Artists' Studio Tours this week-end, and see the leaves at the same time. Everyone around here goes to Gatineau Park, but I prefer the Madawaska Valley. I'll post some pictures early next week (if I can figure out how to!)
Monday, September 27, 2010
I have two count-downs started now. The first was initiated by JUSTYNA7 on the People in Ottawa team. It’s a 100-Day Challenge that brings us to the end of the year. By my trusty Harvard Planner, today (Sept 27) is Day 95, so perhaps I’m a little late starting? But I’ll make up for it in vigour and determination!
The second count-down is less pleasant but no less necessary. I begin radiation treatments (rads) tomorrow; every day for five weeks (25 treatments). I know that maintaining a healthy diet and being as active as possible will help me in dealing with and recovering from the side effects of the rads. I am so thankful to have found SparkPeople when I did!
Because of the second, my commitments to the first are basic, and as follows:
• Log my food every day
• Keep sodium under 1500 mg/day
• Eat 5 servings of fruit/veg per day
• Drink 8 glasses of water daily
• Do at least 15 minutes of exercise daily
Aside from that, my goal is to get out more (as I didn’t get out much during chemo and post-mastectomy). Fall is my favourite time of year. The air is cooler but still comfortable. There is so much activity with all the animals stocking up for winter or (in the case of birds) for their long trek south. Although at first glance everything is dying, the colour and life around belies that. I need these cyclical reminders of time passing, of things growing, apparently dying, but then transforming into something else after their long winter sleep. Seasonal changes are forward looking for me, promises of things to come as much as of the current day. Despite my age, I still marvel at the wonder of it all, and am most humbled before its awesomeness.
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