Day Six

Six days down. Twenty four days to go.

I’m feeling strong. I’m feeling proud of myself. And quite possibly the biggest thing that Whole 30 has taught me thus far is that there are countless times I have likely eaten something when I wasn’t even hungry. I’ve eaten out of boredom, sadness, anxiety, peer pressure, but oftentimes, it’s not due to hunger.

I have found myself really paying attention to the times I had just inadvertently taken a few bites of my daughter’s mac and cheese, grabbed a handful of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, relied on something less than ideal for a snack. It’s actually quite sobering to see just how often this happened.

That said, while I have visions of martinis and french fries dancing in my head, I’m feeling so proud of myself. I have stayed the course for six days, and the cravings are waning. My waistline feels smaller, my ‘pooch’ is definitely less ‘poochy’, and I can only wonder what the next 24 days hold.

Next week, we travel out of town, and this will be the ultimate test. Traveling, restaurants, cocktails, but no. I’m going to take it one meal, one day at a time.

For now, I’m victorious.

But, I’m getting awfully tired of eggs.

whathappens

This Is Just Bananas

I’m declaring war.

I’m declaring war on fat-shaming pregnant women.

As if we don’t have enough to deal with: ever-changing bodies, loss of modesty, hormonal swings that rival those with bipolar disorder, we also have to deal with weight issues and pressure from doctors, society, ourselves, family, and friends about gaining just the ‘right amount of weight’.

Trust us. We have watched our bodies change from the day we peed on the stick to the day we spread our legs and let a small crowd watch our vagina turn from a beautiful flower to something resembling a tunnel.

Trust us. We get it.

We know all the things we NEED to do, but we also know all the things we WANT to do. We KNOW we should exercise more, eat less, and maintain a healthy lifestyle, not only for us, but for our precious bundle we are carrying. But, we WANT a candy bar at 4:00 p.m., or ice cream at noon, or macaroni and cheese from a box for dinner. I suppose the most difficult part isn’t finding a way to not stuff the Snickers bar into our mouths, but finding that perfect balance between indulgence and moderation.

It’s a fine line, and when you begin to waddle, it’s not an easy line to walk.

Society tells us that pregnancy is a wonderful time, a beautiful time, and that we should embrace the changes we are undergoing. I dare say that statement applies not only to the woman carrying the baby, but every single person in a 50-mile radius of said parturient. Pregnancy IS a wonderful time, a beautiful time, yet we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about things that for some of us are just simply not within our control. I am a nurse, goddamn it. I know that the ‘ideal’ weight gain for a pregnancy is 25-35 pounds. Do I honestly think I’ll stay within that guideline?

Fuck no.

At 31 pounds gained at 28 weeks pregnant, I’m quite certain I’ll exceed that guideline with the next bowl of mac and cheese. And you know what? I don’t give a flying fuck anymore. I’m not Jabba The Hutt, sitting around shoveling food into my mouth 24/7. I’m a pregnant woman doing the best she can with the body she’s been given. The first half of this pregnancy was spent walking 2 miles almost daily until climbing the hill to our apartment simply became a feat beyond even the fittest Olympian. I’ve gotten creative with walking. I park further away at the store. I take the stairs when I’m feeling particularly adventurous. And yes, some mornings, instead of my usual toast, I’ll have a banana. And with hormones in overdrive, I’m counting on sex to burn at least 1,000 cals. A girl can dream, right? Even a pregnant one.

But, you know what?

That’s it.

With the nagging thoughts of weight gain, feeling less than desirable, longing for my lean body, I find myself losing joy in this moment.

This moment right here……my hand on my belly, feeling my daughter kick, roll, and punch.

I’ve lost sight of what’s truly important.

She’s right down there, waiting patiently to make her debut, and with every day that passes, I do the best I can to make good choices for myself and for my unborn daughter. I can honestly say that I’m in a better place health-wise than I was with my son 15 years ago. I gained 70 pounds with him, and was probably the fattest albeit happiest, I’ve ever been in my entire life. I didn’t care if my thighs rubbed together. I didn’t care if my legs looked like sausage stuffed into casings. I didn’t care that my face resembled the moon.

I was ecstatic. I was carrying a new life. I was pregnant. Fat. Happy.

I need to find the joy again. And I am asking everyone out there to cut a pregnant woman some slack. Is she fat? Sure. Some of us are, but we don’t need you, our doctor, or society telling us that very fact. We get it. We know. It’s on us to shed the pounds when this period of time is over. We have to deal with that singlehandedly, and we are quite aware of it.

Stroke our egos. Tell us we look beautiful (even if you DO think we look fat). Tell us how exciting this time is for us, if you’ve been through it before. Tell us how wonderful our belly looks. Ask us to join you for ice cream.

But don’t offer us a banana. We just might tell you to shove it up your ass.

Warrior Weapons

In keeping with the last post regarding a friend and her cancer, a reader expressed an interest in sharing some health and fitness tips for those who are fighting the battle. I am happy to share her article, and links to find more information.

Thanks to Melanie Bowen for the info. Keep up the good fight, warriors.

Starting an Exercise Routine After Cancer

Running, walking, yoga, and even martial arts has been shown to help cancer patients and even reduce the risk of cancer coming back. Evidence now shows that those who exercise daily can reduce fatigue related to treatment. There are a variety of other benefits, ranging from increased mobility to stress relief. With any kind of exercise during rigorous medical treatment like chemotherapy and radiation, it’s important to consult a doctor before committing to any plan. By speaking with an oncologist, you can find out what activities will better suit your health situation.

Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients

Researchers have shown that exercise, specifically cycling, running, and low impact exercises are some of the best ways to reduce fatigue and start building endurance, muscle strength and mobility. In some cases, cancer patients can benefit even more from daily exercise, such as mesothelioma patients after chemotherapy. Studies have also shown that physical activity can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Exercise also improves energy and mental health, which may benefit those who are going through depression after cancer.

What Kind of Exercises to Choose

Most patients first start with shorter and less strenuous exercise for 20 to 30 minutes a day. Even a short walk in the morning or night can contribute to better mobility and physical health. However, if you really want to start doing something for your body, low impact exercises are an easier way to start moving your body, build muscle and improve joint health. Low impact exercises include walking, yoga, strength training, cycling, elliptical machines, swimming, a Stairmaster, rowing machines and even kayaking. For those who want to get more exercise or need rigorous activities, start with running for short periods of time, then upgrade to kickboxing, regular jogs, cardio training and even high-energy dance like Zumba.

Risks for Those Starting to Exercise

Running and rigorous exercise isn’t the key to improving health in every cancer patient. Along with fatigue come other disadvantages after undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer. It can mean that your immune system can’t fight off infections and bacteria as well, making it difficult to stress the body with rigorous exercise or even go to public swimming pools and gyms. In other cases, your bones, muscles and joints may not be ready for high impact exercise. That’s why it’s important to start slow with lower impact exercises and build upon your body’s strengths as you go. In many cases, you should be able to warm up and go for a light jog before doing any sort of strenuous activity. 

What Else Can You Do

In addition to exercise, remember that nutrition, vitamins, the right diet and medication can also help with the side effects of cancer treatment. For one thing, ginseng has been proven to help with fatigue and allow for more rigorous activity. Acupuncture has also been recommended to help relieve fatigue in cancer patients, as well as lowering depression and anxiety. It is important to start taking the steps to become a healthier you, and it all starts with speaking to your doctor.

Exercise and Cancer

Mesothelioma 

Survivorship During And After Cancer

Runner Girl

“Are You A Runner?”

Runner Girl

Yes.

I am.

This question has been asked of me countless times, and it’s usually the result of the necklace I wear constantly. I purchased this necklace almost four years ago during the midst of my marathon training. I loved its simplicity, symbolism and meaning. From the time I put it on back in 2008, I can literally count on ONE hand how many times I have taken off this necklace.

It has come to define me. You see, it is literally in almost every photo taken of me:

Lisa and Runner Girl

So, yeah. The necklace has been with me for some time now. I don’t see us parting anytime soon.

I get the question a lot from friends, family, strangers and patients: “Are you a runner?” To which, depending on what phase of running I’m in, I’ll answer either, “YES!” or “Well, I’m on a bit of a hiatus right now, but yes.”

The bottom line is always the same.

I. Am. A. Runner.

I’m not fast. I’m not going to break any land/speed records. I’m not particularly competitive on the race course. I run for a myriad of reasons, none of which is placing in the top three in my age category.

In 2005, I found myself severely overweight and decided to finally do something about it. Friends at work were training for a local race and convinced me to join them. Prior to this, I was always the person who would say, “Yeah, I’ll run if someone is chasing me.” That statement soon changed, and within a few months, I had shed nearly 50 pounds and was entered into my first race. A 10-mile road race, no less. I was eating better, feeling better and completely transformed my body and my life.

I always look back on that time fondly. That time reminds me of where I am today. Still a runner, albeit not as consistent, but still a runner nonetheless.

Recently someone close to me inquired about a hamstring injury that I suffered as the result of overzealous attempts to waterski this past August. The hamstring is tender, torn and stretched, but as the result of the concern shown, I finally went to the doc to have it checked out. (FYI: nurses truly ARE the worst patients). Turns out the hamstring will get a little PT, an ultrasound and perhaps a little electrical stimulation to see just how damaged it is. Honestly, if the inquirer hadn’t been so persistent, I would have most likely put off any visit altogether, but there was always that little voice…..

“We need to get you healthy, so you can run again and keep running.”

Only when I view myself through the eyes of those closest to me do I really get it. Yeah. I AM a runner. It IS what I do. It’s not about a stupid necklace, but about a state of mind, a state of being and a lifestyle that means more to me than anything else. This body has endured six marathons, a handful of half marathons, 15Ks, 10Ks and 5Ks. I can’t let her down now. She has more left in the tank. There are more marathons just waiting to be tackled.

So, I suppose if I’m gonna continue to wear my beloved necklace, I gotta walk the walk, talk the talk and

Run the run.