What’s in a victory?

I’m in a couple fitness groups. One is on Facebook and the other is a challenge group with other people living the lifestyle.

It’s been a week since I’ve fully committed to this again. Back in the beginning of this year I had some major losses with inches and pounds. This time, not so much. I still lost, but the numbers weren’t as high so it gave me pause. I did the self-doubt thing, the shaming. Then I straightened myself out. Loss is loss. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I could have gained muscle, which weighs more than fat, so the scale wouldn’t have reflected that. Not to mention, I have non scale victories! I can sit up just by using my core. I don’t need to use my legs to grip onto or propel myself forward. I feel better, emotionally and physically. Whether or not I see it on the scale or on the measuring tape, I can FEEL the difference, and that’s huge!

So I’m going to exercise again today, tomorrow, and the next day. I’m going to do it because it makes me feel good.

3 more months

Another doc down! I went for my one month follow up at the plastic surgeon today. He said everything looks great. He felt around and said I don’t have any fluid build up and everything is healing nicely. Big change from the major surgery in May. BIG change. 

I go back in three months. The skin over my right nipple should be healed more by then and we’ll be able to talk about options for that, like a tattoo or possible reconstruction. 

Aside from my Lupron shots every four weeks, I don’t have another doctor’s appointment until March! Seems crazy since I have pretty much had an appointment every Monday for the past year.

Soooo, my plan is to return to Dr H in three months much thinner! I’m back to eating clean and healthy, and he said I could exercise, so I’m doing it. 100% balls to the wall exercise. I’m excited because this is the LAST TIME I’m going to experience that new exercise muscle soreness because I’m not going to stop this time. 

As Dr. YB said…I’m off to live my life!

This is the part where you find out who you are.

One of my Facebook friends posted this today and it resonated with me so much that I felt the need to share it here right now.

This is me in 2019. This is me now. I’m cancer-free, BS free, and working on maintaining a healthy mind and body in the new year and forever.

This isn’t “another one of those new year’s resolution” posts that we see so many of and criticize. Shame on us for that, too. We should always be lifting our friends up, not letting them down. If they’re making an effort to get healthy, we should be their biggest cheerleaders, regardless the circumstances. Maybe they’re doing it for the 12th time because they didn’t get the support they so desperately needed but were too embarrassed or proud to ask for in the past, so they’re having to do it again and again. Let’s lift those friends up.

This is a lifestyle change. A mind and body cleanse and overhaul. I’m eating healthy again and ready to be active. I’m ready to exercise my mind and do some personal development as well.

This is the part where I find out who I am.

How about you?

Still one drain…story of my life.

I had two drains removed yesterday, the ones in my chest, which is great because they were sore and itchy and nobody liked them. Ha. Seriously, though. I was so aware of those two. I kind of figured the belly one would stay, so I’m not surprised. I’m not even that annoyed about it, except this whole shower thing, but I’m about to bust out some plastic wrap so I can shower. Not even kidding. Shh, don’t tell.

I’ve had a BM since I last posted. I know that makes you as happy as it makes me. I’ve slowed down on my water drinking and I know that’s part of my problem, so I’ll pick that back up. Also, the anti-nausea meds can cause constipation and since I’m not taking oxycodone anymore, I’m not taking the anti-nausea meds anymore. I’m also getting a little annoyed that constipation isn’t coming up on the predictive text on my iPhone and I have to spell it out every time. It’s a long word, Apple, get with the program.

I’m working my way into my new food plan, and healthy eating is making me feel good. Yay! Should regulate some stuff as well. This time I’m doing something a little different, which I’ll talk about later, just to give it a try. So far I love it, and we’ll see if I have results. I also can’t wait to get this drain pulled so I can exercise, but for now it’s walking!!

That’s all the update I’ve got for today, so I’ll share more when I’ve got more. 💜

Is it hot in here?

Yowza! The last two weeks, the hot flashes episodes were off the charts. I even checked my temperature one night just to make sure I wasn’t overlooking a fever. They’re like how they were when I was going through chemo.

During the first few cycles of the Lupron, the hot flashes were just that…flashes. I’d blink and then they were gone. I thought they were a piece of cake. Ha. Hahahaha.

I should have known better. Nothing about life with C was easy, why should anything after C be easy?

I have an appointment with Dr YB tomorrow, so I’ll talk hot “flash” management with him then. That and sleep. I’ve had a heck of a time falling asleep this last week, which I don’t believe is related to the hot flashes since they don’t necessarily occur together. I forget what number my infusion cycle is tomorrow, but I know it’s close to the end. I want to say I have one or two more after this.

I also have an appointment with Dr H tomorrow. I’ll get drained again. I know this because I can tell there’s extra juice in my abdomen. Yay.

I’m restarting my clean eating tomorrow, and exercise, I’m looking forward to fueling my body with stuff that’s good for me again. I felt so good, physically, when I was eating clean before the surgery, and I wish I could have kept up with it post-surgery, but my appetite was just so off that I felt like I needed to just eat what I could.

Also, I’m creating a team and registering for the local Komen Race for the Cure. I’ll post the details here once I’ve got it all together, in case anyone is interested in joining or supporting the efforts. It’ll be Saturday, September 22.

Three down, one to go…

So this is a little late, but I had my follow up appointments with Dr H and Dr JB on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Dr H – Drain removed from left hip. Hopefully right hip drain will slow it’s roll, and the numbers will be low enough for it to be removed at my appointment on Monday. Seems like I’ll be losing my right nipple, it’s back to its black color regardless of the ointment/Vaseline. I’m ok with that. Dr H said we can reconstruct that later on, if I want to. My tummy wound is opening a little bit, but not a lot. (Seriously don’t Google it!)

Dr JB – Pretty much said the same stuff as Dr H. I did ask about these tiny little blister bumps I have around my chest. It seems that the surgical bra, that I have to wear like all the time, is irritating my skin. Yay! So I’m trying to give myself breaks from it, and I’ll wear a tight tank top to keep things contained instead. They also recommended lotion for the rash.

It’s just been a blah week for me. Lots of emotional ups and downs. I’m ready to go back to normal, you know? This has been dictating my life for several months, and I want to dictate my life again. I want to be able to go run errands and not be exhausted. I want to work! (Which I’m doing a little of next week whether anyone likes it or not!)

The week after next we go on vacation. I’ll be chilling poolSIDE for a week, unable to actually get in the pool due to my wounds not being fully closed. When we get back from the trip, I plan to return to work. I’ll have an appointment with Dr YB for my infusion and Lipton shot Monday the 18th, and I’ll probably have a follow up with the surgeons that same day.

I’m anticipating being in much better shape by that point. I think the key is going to be doing a little each day and gradually building myself up. I think I’m being too sporadic, and that’s the problem. Like going 75% one day, 50% the next, then 100%, 0%, and then back to 50% isn’t helping. It’s inconsistent and I think it’s confusing my body. So I’m going to try to start small and keep going up. I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself too far, I just feel like I haven’t been building myself up, I’ve just been randomly diving in, depending on my mood.

Anyway, something else to note is that I haven’t had much of an appetite post-surgery. I’ve had hunger, but I’m not 3-square-meals hungry. Like it’s after 1, I haven’t eaten, and I’m not even a little hungry. So, needless to say, I haven’t been sticking to my eating plan. I’ve been trying to focus on protein when I do eat, since I know I’m not getting a good sampling of nutrients and that’s the key nutrient for healing. I’m certainly not starving, I do get random cravings throughout the day and snack. I get late night cravings, too, and I have healthy snacks like fruit. I always eat dinner, it’s just breakfast and lunch are sometimes a wash. I am also having my superfood shake every day, which helps with protein and other nutrients. So hopefully my appetite will sort itself out soon and I can get back on track with nutrition!

Advice: Fit for Surgery

Whenever you feel well enough, exercise. This was a huge help for me before my mastectomy. I finished chemo in January and started to feel human in February. In March, I started exercising and eating well again. It may not seem worth it to exercise for such a short time (I had about 6 weeks between feeling good and my surgery), but it has made a huge difference.

Squats are fantastic because that’s how you’re going to want to sit down/lower yourself onto a chair or the toilet.

Overall leg strength is also so important because you can’t use your arms except for some no pressure balancing. You’re going to want your abs to be strong, even though they’re going to feel sore. They’re probably not actually sore though, it’s just the belly skin pulled tightly. You’ll need your abs to shimmy into position when you can’t use your arms, and you’ll need them to sit up, lay back, and gain balance.

Of course you can do these things with assistance, but you are eventually going to have to do it alone, and that’s a good thing, as long as you’re not pushing yourself with too much, too fast. But if you’re anything like me, you’re going to want your independence back ASAP.

Listen to your body, but don’t be afraid. I was terrified to sit up because I thought my gut was going to come out. It’s irrational, but the thought was there. That’s the kind of afraid you don’t need to be. Your gut isn’t going to fall out. Not even when you cough.

Don’t over do it, but don’t be afraid to try.

And of course, the sequence of your treatment or your physical condition may not allow for exercise. You may feel like garbage all the time, or you may have your surgery immediately, with no time to prepare. You may not be able to or even want to do it the way I was able to, but if you can even just squeeze in some walks or squats or lunges, you’ll thank yourself later, trust me!

Ten Years?!

Last week, on May 3rd, Brad and I celebrated our ten (10!!!) year wedding anniversary. I honestly don’t feel old enough to be married for 10 years, but I definitely am. I’m old enough to be married longer, but it just seems weird. We’ve been together for 15 years! Almost half my life. Crazy.

Each year, for our anniversary, we head to Concord, NC for Carolina Rebellion with Brad’s brother, Jeff. It’s a three day rock music festival held up at the campgrounds at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sort of like what I imagine Woodstock would have been, complete with the dirt and the stink. We don’t camp, though. We stay in a hotel, conveniently located directly across the street from the event. Because beds and showers, duh. I can’t imagine being sore and hot from being on my feet in the heat all day long, then having to sleep on the ground. Heck no.

Anyway, this year was as much fun as years passed. We get VIP tickets so we can leave the venue and gain re-entry later on, which we took advantage of when there were bands playing that we were less interested in seeing. We love to experience as much of the festival as we can, but sometimes we need a break.

I’ve been staying on my food and exercise plan as much as I can. It’s not easy eating clean at a music festival, but I’m doing the best I can and opting for the least processed foods. Surprisingly, it’s not impossible since there are a lot of food trucks at the event and you can get things that aren’t greasy or fried. I’ve also been exercising at the hotel (thank you Beachbody® On Demand!). I did cardio and yoga, and it felt good. Just the right balance of energy and stretching. My feet and legs didn’t get nearly as sore as they usually did at the event, and I think that goes back to my increased endurance from staying active over the last few weeks.

Anyway, if you like rock music and haven’t been to one of these festivals, I highly recommend going. Carolina Rebellion is awesome, but there are others that are part of the same series, like Rock on the Range (Ohio), Welcome to Rockville (Florida), Rocklahoma (Oklahoma), and more. So much fun.

And a lot of people say, “Aren’t you too old for that?” The answer is “No.” There are all ages at these shows, and I mean that. Babies to seniors, no joke. There was a woman in her 80s crowd surfing one year…someone in a wheelchair, even. You don’t have to be in the center of a mosh pit to be at a concert, there are plenty of safer, calmer places to be and still have a good time.

Plus, I’m a firm believer that you’re only as old as you feel. Some days I feel like I’m 100 years old, other days I don’t. Bottom line: I’m going to enjoy myself.

High-Five!

I’m at the oncologist at the moment, and I wish I’d brought some of the things I have to do from my to-do list! All this idle time! I’ve been updating my lists of things to do in between blood draws, meeting with the doc, and now sitting here for my infusion. I feel so organized.

Anyway, things are still looking good for me. I’m going to have to get another echocardiogram soon, so it’ll probably be planned for next week so I can get it done before surgery.

Dr YB told me to eat at least a fist-sized portion of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts) every day. I was like, I’m already doing that. I eat 5 portions of veggies, and one is almost always cruciferous because that’s what I like. He also said he wants me exercising, heart rate up to 150, 30 minutes every day. Well, I’m doing that already, too! He said he wants me to build to 150, I told him I’ve been doing this for weeks. He hive-fived me. So yeah, I’m ahead of the game, which is exactly where I hoped to be.

I’ve had 2 appointments with the PT where I’ve done different exercises. I’ll share about that in a separate post.

Some fun stuff…over the weekend I did the autism walk in Hampton Park in downtown Charleston with my nephew. I also attended my niece’s 6th birthday party! Then we had a funeral for a Brad’s Aunt on Sunday. It was a nice weekend spent with lots of friends and family.

At the birthday party was our friend, James, who was diagnosed with colon cancer several months before I was diagnosed. He’s had chemo and surgery, and is starting chemo again because it’s starting to come back. He’s in good spirits, like me, and it was actually really cool talking to (commiserating with) someone I know well, and who is going through something similar. We have a similar sense of humor, which only people going to through cancer or who are close to someone going through cancer understand. It tends to freak people out when we joke or laugh about stuff, but when you deal with the variety of BS cancer brings to the table, you have to joke and laugh. Some people get that and some people don’t. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Anyway, I’m trying to wrap up a bunch of things before surgery…tie up lots of loose ends! Wednesday is our 10 year wedding anniversary, and we’re going out of town for the weekend to a concert in Charlotte. I’m looking forward to the break before the surgery!!

And here’s a cute baby goose butt before I go. My view at the oncologist.

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Super cute siblings!

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Clean Eating & Exercise Results

I can’t even begin to tell you all the benefits I’ve been experiencing since deciding to eat clean.

What is clean eating exactly? Simply put, it’s not eating processed foods. It’s about knowing the ingredients in the foods you’re eating. It’s about eating healthy fats, oils, proteins, carbs, fruits, and vegetables.

What isn’t it? Deprivation. When I started this, I was afraid I’d be depriving myself, and I’m really not. I’m eating so much more on my new food plan. I don’t get hungry and I don’t get cravings. Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes I want cookies or ice cream or fro-yo. And guess what? Sometimes I eat cookies and ice cream and fro-yo.

The plan as a whole is about not punishing yourself for a little indulgence here and there. It’s OK to have a cheat day or a cheat meal, just pick back up the next day.

Honestly, I pretty much had a cheat day on Sunday. I did my best to stick to the plan, but we spent the day out at a concert and really didn’t have a lot of options in the healthy food department. We opted for smoked turkey legs because it was the closest thing on any of the food vendors’ menus to plain food. Everything else had sauces, grease, etc. When we left there we stopped at…ahemtacobellahem…and I ate a little more. Then we came home and I had a cookie, ice cream, and a caffeine free Diet Coke. When I head for a downward spiral, I seriously spiral…I am extremely compulsive, especially when it comes to food.

Fast forward a few hours and I was wide awake at 1:00 in the morning feeling like absolute garbage because I might as well have just poisoned my body with the food I ate. Could I have gotten away with a Coke? Absolutely, I occasionally have a Malibu and Diet Coke when we go out on Friday nights for trivia with absolutely no repercussions. Could I have had ice cream? Sure. I believe it was the combination of all of that, that made me feel like crap.

With that being said, I learned my lesson. Stepping outside of the box once in a while to eat a cookie or fro-yo, to have dinner out, isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a reward either, it’s just an indulgence. It’s not going to kill me. But it made me realize that in the last three weeks, I’ve spoiled my body with this awesome and nutritious food, and it (my body, keep up) has rewarded me with feeling amazing.

Exhibit A – My lactose intolerance is practically a non-issue. In fact, if I’d quit my ice cream and fro-yo cheats, I don’t think I’d need to take a pill at all. In my food plan, some cheeses are considered healthy fats. These cheeses are ones like mozzarella or goat cheese, cheeses that if I buy the most raw stuff I can find, I won’t need to take a pill anyway. I don’t know why, but I can eat fancy mozzarella without taking a pill. Maybe it doesn’t have lactose. I don’t know. The bottom line is that I was spending like $20+ a month on my pills, and I haven’t had to buy them in weeks. That’s a secondary win for me.

Exhibit B – I’m eating enough filling, nutritious foods that I feel good all the time. I have energy (except when I’m mentally exhausted from end of semester assignments!). I want to do things. It’s made me happy, which I’m sure isn’t just the clean eating, but the exercise as well.

Clean eating is also cheaper than dining out. I think I mentioned the cost of food once before, and I believe I’ve spent less on my clean foods than I have on processed. It’s also nice to be able to go grocery shopping quickly, basically only walking around the outside aisles of the store, since that’s where the fresh stuff is. Ever notice that? Produce, meats, and stuff are all in a ring around the outside of the store. All the processed stuff is in the middle. Keeps it simple, I just avoid those center aisles and voila! Done! Well, I do veer off to frozen foods for veggies, but you get the idea…

So my final results for the this exercise plan was 8.2 lbs lost, 3.5 inches lost around hips and waist, and about 4 inches gained in my arms, legs, and chest. I don’t have a problem with the gains, I think they’re probably muscle. My body was pretty much mush after chemo. I had very little strength at all and my muscles were soft. I have zero issue with gaining inches if it means building that muscle back up and making my body stronger. My waist is my problem area, particularly because of the upcoming surgery, and I lost there, so I’m good!

I started a new workout plan today, and I already love it!