- Question from Denise: Hi. I'm 51 years old and I was already overweight (about 30 pounds) when diagnosed last July. I had a lumpectomy in August, followed by radiation. I'm finally feeling "myself" again, but despite knowing that being overweight can contribute to recurrence, I just can't seem to get motivated to increase my physical activity and lose weight. Please help me!
You need to put some mental energy into this one. Sit down with a pen and paper, and plan out your goals in terms of how much exercise you're willing to do each week. I would add something about eating well also.
You also need to think about a three-day food record. Write down the food you eat over three days: when, where, why, and what you eat. A lot of food gets eaten while driving in the car, at your desk, snacking, etc. that can contribute to weight gain.
With the exercise, think about what you need in order to be more compliant. Do you need a friend to exercise with? A class to go to? At some point, hopefully this mental work will help you with what I call the "switch" where all of a sudden it just clicks and you just realize it's time to become more active.
I'm a real advocate of exercise as a part of socialization. Dr. Gralow talked about it with Team Survivor Northwest. When you have a goal you're working for, it's so much easier to train for than to just go out and exercise for the heck of it. So finding a group where you can socialize and have fun, and where you have a goal can be exceptionally helpful.
Julie Gralow, M.D.
I've just flipped open a copy of a book I'm a co-author of, Breast Fitness: An Optimal Exercise and Health Plan for Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer. I was pleased with some later chapters that dealt with this issue, and I'm reminding myself of the titles of the chapters—Develop a Health-Promoting Exercise Plan, Using Goals to Stay Motivated, and Overcoming Fitness Roadblocks. As part of this book, we created a chapter where members of Team Survivor Northwest talked about how they got involved and what they did for fitness. They were a real mix of women—some had been athletes, and some had never done focused exercise before. Different things worked for different people. Some of these women had to keep looking for what it was that would work in their lives and families.
There were successes right away, and some women had to work for quite a while to find how to achieve a healthy diet and physical activity. It really takes a lifestyle change and a commitment.
I find what keeps me motivated on these rainy winter nights in Seattle when I come home is my dog wanting to go for a run, and I come home to my husband who also needs to keep healthy. When we incorporate this healthy lifestyle into a family practice and commit to each other, that's what works best for us. Encouraging the whole family to engage in physical activity, or getting a close friend to help you can be helpful.
- Judith Sachs It's easy to let yourself down for exercising, but not if you have a standing date with someone else.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Physical Activity and Breast Cancer featured Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., Julie Gralow, M.D., and moderator Judith Sachs answering your questions about the many issues related to physical activity and breast cancer.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in January 2006.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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