Weight, weight, don’t tell me

by Diana on October 3, 2008 · 1 comment

in Breast cancer

As I come to the end of nearly six months of treatment for breast cancer, I find myself a little underweight.

I feel guilty saying it because I know there are many people who struggle with being overweight.  Even though I am only a few pounds underweight (and none of my doctors are worried about it) I can’t fit in any of my clothes, and it’s kind of hard to feel healthy.  A couple of people have even commented that I look skinny, and they didn’t mean it as a compliment.  (As a side note, dontcha just wish sometimes that folks would keep their opinions about your appearance to themselves?  Here I am, after 8 rounds of chemo and then surgery after that, I’m trying my best here folks.  I don’t need to be stopped in the parking lot at work and told that I look skinny.  You could tell me that I’m positively glowing from the radiation treatments, and I would chuckle with you; or you could tell me that my new hair is so soft and ask to pet it — people have done that, and I have to say that I really do like getting pets on my fuzzy head in the middle of the day — it makes me smile!  But being told you’re so skinny does not make me smile.)

Now that I am dealing with a minor weight issue, I suddenly have developed a new empathy for people who struggle with their weight in any capacity.

I have always eaten what I wanted to and never worried about it.  Extra piece of cake?  Sure.  Cream in my coffee?  Why not?  Indulge in a chocolate binge?  Of course!

I was a comfortable 155 lbs. before my diagnosis at the end of January this year.  Then, after my diagnosis, I immediately dropped 10 lbs.  I honestly think this was because I stopped drinking a decaf cafe mocha (or two) every day, and I started exercising regularly.  So, I didn’t worry about it.  But, since surgery, I have dropped another 8 lbs., and then I started to worry about it.  As I said, my doctors aren’t worried at all.  Even so, I decided to speak with the dietician at the radiation oncology center.

She was very helpful and taught me a lot about nutrition.  We discussed how I might bulk up a little, so I started really looking at food labels and putting extra consideration into what I was putting into my body.

One thing I learned is that all the big national associations for cancer (here is the nutrition page from the American Cancer Society, for example), heart disease and diabetes all agree on the diet that can help avoid these major illnesses.  They all pretty much say to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, to avoid red meat, to eat whole grains and that most of your diet should come from plant sources.

From reading labels I have also learned — and this is my new soap box issue — that a lot of common drinks, like sodas, teas, sports drinks and even lemonade, have just about 30 grams of sugar in an 8 oz. serving.  Yick!  That’s an incredible amount of refined sugar that you can consume in an instant!  30 grams of sugar.  That’s about 9 sugar packets or 6 teaspoons or 2 tablespoons.

So the trick for me is to up my calories and protein, without upping my refined sugar intake.  My big solution is a giant turkey club at lunch time, though I can’t yet do it without the bacon.  (But I’ll keep trying.)  With some avocado slices on there, I get a nice (healthy) fat and protein boost and stuff in a couple of servings worth of fruit/veggies.  Yum!

I also learned a trick that I hear is an old Weight Watchers stand-by: only weigh yourself once a week.

{ 1 comment }

1 Paul October 3, 2008 at 7:09 am

Woohoo – glad to see you blogging again! GREAT title, BTW.

I have a friend who has a tall, thin frame like you and me, and she tends toward underweight if she doesn’t eat A LOT… hummingbird metabolism, I call it. She has the same experience you describe: people that (one hopes, anyway) would never come up to someone and say “WOW, you’re sure looking chubby” seem to feel no compunction about telling someone they look like they just got out of Buchenwald.

WTF is up with that? I’m thinking it might be a backlash towards the media’s obsession with skinny actresses and models. Or, you know, that some people are just insensitive buttheads. Something like that.

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