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October 2010, AKA The Month of Protecting my Progress

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 ď100-Day ChallengeĒ (a count-down to the New Year) wherein I have committed to the following:
ē Log in food every day
ē Keep my sodium under 1500 mg per day
ē Eat at least 5 fruit/veg per day
ē Drink 8 glasses of water per day
ē Do 15 minutes of exercise every day

I am also participating on the 10-Minute Daily Exercise Streak (Iíve just started week 2). My medical team doesnít want me to overdo the exercise, because fatigue is apparently cumulative and they donít 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 Iíve joined is directly relates to my medical teamís 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 Iíve joined the ďOfficial Better Sleep ChallengeĒ.

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 canít wait!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JANLEEW 10/1/2010 9:35PM

    Just keep moving, even a little. I did not sleep well due to a job for 11 years. Not a good thing. Meditating is a good thing also. I only did the chemo part so no reference to radiation other than being an X-ray, CT, MRI Technologist. You will be fine. Keep moving, even a little, keep tracking!

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JOCALAT 10/1/2010 2:23PM

    Do what you want for exercise. My team would ask me everyday, Are you tired yet? Nope...I racewalked 6.0-6.7 miles a day everyday during my 33 treatments. I had a ton of energy.....The one tech even said that that marks she was using were coming off do to exercise and that I may have to stop...I told her to find something else to mark me with because that wasn't an option and my rads dr backed me up!!They couldn't believe how well I did through it....but exercise has always gotten me through anything.....It was great for me mentally and do what you want based on how you feel......its a great plan you have got going on.....

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DIANNEMT 10/1/2010 10:45AM

    Sounds like you have a wonderful attitude regarding your breast cancer treatments. From reading what you have written, I can tell you have the inner strength to be a survivor. My mom is--15 years this year--and two of my good friends are as well. So continue to care for yourself as you have been doing, enjoy the happy times coming up and get enough sleep!! You will be back to your good health very soon!

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September 2010 in Review

Friday, October 01, 2010

I thought I would Ďclose offí 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 Iím looking for: a combination nutrition, exercise, and community support. I immediately signed-on: that was September 9, 2010.

Lessons learned so far:
ē 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.
ē For this to really work in addressing my lack of fitness, I must approach everything as if it were new.
ē Itís easy to sneak in exercise into my day Ė stealth exercise! Iíve been doing some every time I go to the bathroom, no matter where I am. Wall push-ups. Hip flexes. Whatever, as long as itís something. Going to the bathroom happens regularly and throughout the day, without exception. Now, so does exercise. Easy. More importantly, Iíll be able to continue this when I return to work.
ē 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!
ē Keeping track of my food via SparkPeople is probably the biggest learning experience Iíve had so far, and I canít imagine a day without it now. Itís not the calories; itís the sodium and the potassium that surprised me (and are still a challenge!)
ē Iíve re-discovered my love for music.
ē I can survive Birthday Week without eating dessert, binging, etc. (my husband and my birthdays are in the same week!). And I didnít 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!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BELLALUCIA 10/1/2010 10:21AM

    You keep it up.

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Day 92... counting down to the New Year

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!)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

UP2ME_CC 10/1/2010 6:02AM

    I like your idea of counting down to the new year. I'm counting down with you. :-)

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JOCALAT 9/30/2010 1:08PM

    sounds like you have a nice weekend planned!! Enjoy...rads will be over before you know it!!

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The Count-Down Starts Now! 95 and Counting...

Monday, September 27, 2010

I have two count-downs started now. The first was initiated by JUSTYNA7 on the People in Ottawa team. Itís 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 Iím a little late starting? But Iíll 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:
ē Log my food every day
ē Keep sodium under 1500 mg/day
ē Eat 5 servings of fruit/veg per day
ē Drink 8 glasses of water daily
ē Do at least 15 minutes of exercise daily

Aside from that, my goal is to get out more (as I didnít 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.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTYNA7 9/28/2010 10:45AM

    There are so many places to walk. I even enjoy walking at malls as long as I don't have to shop. My preference is OUTDOORS though. Rocks, trees, water. Mmmm. People watching... animal and bird watching... you just never know what you are going to be part of. Day 95 works. Consistency is the goal. Accountability. We are a huge puzzle. Little pieces every day to finish this masterpiece.

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BELLALUCIA 9/27/2010 9:50PM

    Very good blog!

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It's over!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Well, the excesses of the birthday are over. I knew it would happen, I approved it for myself. That burger, with brie, pear, and caramelised onions, and those sweet potato fries. Yum! The excess came in calories, in fat and in sodium (but, yet again, not enough potassium!)

I wonít do anything like that in a long, long time, so I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Today, Iím back on plan. Itís encouraging that the scale went down yet again this morning Ė I expected it to go up with all the sodium.

I got 30 minutes of free weights in yesterday. Those are getting easier and easier, and I've pretty well recovered full range of motion in my arms. Today will be cardio (likely the stationary bike, as itís raining outside and I seem to be fighting a cold), and focussing on getting the food set up properly for the week. We didnít pick up fresh food mid-week last week, and I missed my fresh fruit. Weíve been going through fresh fruit like crazy since I put out two fruit bowls instead of keeping it in the fridge. Iíve come to realize that I enjoy the fruit more at room temperature than cold Ė another change for me, as it used to be the opposite.

Being on sick leave right now affords me the luxury of really spending time on re-learning whatís good for me, and Iím taking full advantage of it. Radiation therapy starts next week, and after that recovery Iíll be returning to work. Iím determined that Iíll be going back with good eating and exercise habits firmly in place!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTYNA7 9/27/2010 8:59AM

    I collect all the fruit that looks a little sad and pop it in zip lock bags for the freezer for later use (smoothies or homemade sorbet).

You sound like you had a great celebration. The works? My daughter's favourite.

Hey, another 100 day challenge person! I really need this and am determined to do my best at it. I know life happens but life is my downfall. I want something stable to fall back on rather that let everything fall apart. I think blogging every day will really help and logging my food is a great motivator for making healthy choices. I'll add you as a friend and keep up on your 100 days too!

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GATOR12 9/25/2010 12:09PM

    But it was a special time and you enjoyed the special treats and the time w/loved ones. You are doing lots of things right. We have to LIVE in this world and enjoy it!!!!

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JOCALAT 9/25/2010 9:12AM

    Sounds like a good plan...I too am enjoying my leave for 4 weeks to recup...trying to eat better and exercise everyday...getting into a routine....

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