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!

I’ve Lost 6.8 lbs in One Week!

Yep, you read that right. I’ve lost 6.8lbs (and a couple inches) in one week!

What is it? I’m so glad you asked! It’s fantastic exercise and nutrition program.

You all know how important food is to me. I love to eat. I love tasty food and I enjoy variety. I don’t like being told what to eat, and I don’t do well with restrictions. This blog has been live for just a few short months and I think I’ve communicated my passion for food quite well in that time. Why is this important? Because I wouldn’t choose a food plan that didn’t allow me to still be passionate about food. That’s how awesome this plan is.

So a new nutrition plan, exercise…my gains so far in this program aren’t just related to the scale. I also feel a thousand times better overall. I have become more regular, which has been a pretty decent issue for me since chemo started back in September. I have better endurance. I want to get up and do stuff. I also feel good mentally. I’m happy to be doing something and seeing results. It makes me feel good.

Anyway, this post probably sounds like an advertisement. It’s not really. It is a testimonial though. It’s me sharing my success because I’m so excited to have found success and I feel like I need to share it because I want anyone else who wants to be successful to find theirs, too.

If you want to talk to me more about the program, please reach out. I want to help.

So I’ve got the oncologist tomorrow. Should be uneventful, just my Herceptin injection. Next week will be the evil arm shot. I’ll post an update if something exciting happens.

New Nutrition and Exercise Plan

So last Monday I was pretty bummed following my appointment. I’ve done well this week to get some extra exercise in and be careful about what I’m eating. I haven’t devoured a bunch of junk like I usually do, although I did chow down on some awesome carrot cake sandwich cookies I found at Publix. I allowed myself the little splurge after a week of being good. Not sure if it has made any difference as I don’t typically weigh-in until Sundays.

Anyway, I’m super excited about this new plan I’m starting. It’s not a diet, it’s similar to what I was doing when I was counting calories, only it’s looking at quantities of food in a different way. I’ll go into more detail after I’ve completed the first week and have a bit more to share. It’s going to be challenging, but I feel like it’s going to be great, too.

I have a great coach, and I’m not even certain how it came about exactly, but we connected on the subject and boom! A plan was born. A plan I feel good about, which is exactly what I needed. I’m already feeling motivated by the group, and I haven’t even officially started yet. The science behind it seems pretty simple, which is what I like. And what I appreciate most is that the nutrition aspect is something I can keep up with while I’m stuck being a lump after surgery, so yay for that!

2018 will be a year of positive change for me!  <— New mantra.

Happy Easter!

Trying to Get Fit

As mentioned in my previous post, my doctor wants me to lose some weight so I can have a better recovery after my mastectomy, and better cosmetic results. To be honest, I’ve wanted to exercise, but I was afraid to lose weight because they’re using my belly fat for the reconstruction. Apparently, I can still stand to lose a few pounds, so I’m working on it.

In the past, I’ve done a few different things and had successes. Before my wedding, I used Weight Watchers and lost about 20 lbs. I’ve also done simple calorie counting, and that’s worked for me, too. I don’t like fad diets. I don’t like anything that requires you to fast or not eat a certain type of food, nutrient, ingredient, or whatever. And I’m not here to argue why those things work, or join a bandwagon for why they don’t work…I’m just here to say I don’t dig them. Personally, if I deprive myself of something, I just want it more and will binge once I get my hands on it. I’d rather have a good relationship with food and take whatever I want in moderation. Believe it or not, calorie counting helps me to do that and it’s so easy for me to do.

I tried Weight Watchers again for about 2 days. I don’t like the new point system. I don’t like how it calculates exercise points separately from food points. I don’t like how there are so many zero point foods. I don’t care who you are, if you eat 30 chicken breasts, it’s not good, even if they are zero points each. Something has to give there. So I quit Weight Watchers. I can’t do what I don’t understand.

So calorie counting it is. And My Fitness Pal makes it super easy to do. There are tons of other apps that accomplish this, but I am comfortable with MFP because I’ve used it before and I like its features. It also syncs with other apps I use (FitBit, MapMyRide, etc), which is awesome. It takes into account my activity level, gives me an amount of calories/nutrients per day, and takes into account exercise calories. I love it. It’s simple math. It makes sense to me.

For exercise, I’ve been riding my bike and doing yoga. They are things I enjoy doing, so convincing myself to do it is not hard at all.

I lost 2.4 lbs last week. Score!

I also love the emails MFP sends out. Lots of easy workouts if you need some variation in your routine or something quick to do with little time. They also include recipes that look so delicious, I’m eager to try.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I’m trying to make smart food choices and stay active. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to eat cookies, and it doesn’t mean I’m going to work out every single day. It means I’m changing the way I do me.

What’s New?

Not much going on here, but a lot going on at the same time…if that makes sense.

As far as this cycle goes, it’s been about the same as the last. Maybe, dare I say it, easier. I’m either use to this crap, or the still reduced dosage of Taxotere is making my life easier. Hot flashes, diarrhea, head fog, fatigue, etc.

I can eat (a.k.a. tolerate) pretty much anything I crave, though I’m avoiding potatoes in case I have those starchy texture issues again (don’t want to ruin a favorite food for myself), and fresh brewed sweet iced tea tastes like dirt. I know, I know, not the best food/drink choices. But considering how finicky my tastes have been throughout treatment, I eat what I crave so that I can actually eat. I like and I eat healthy foods, but I can’t force myself to eat what I don’t want at that moment. It’s probably definitely most likely at least 90% mental, and that’s ok. This whole experience has been about the mental and the physical, not just the physical.

I missed my first two classes last week, but I spoke to my professors beforehand and they were cool with me missing. I’m hoping I feel well enough to go to class Thursday (Monday’s class this week was canceled for the holiday) since I’m going to miss my Thursday class next week due to surgery (future post coming about that!).

Brad and I are supposed to be going to a concert tonight with this brother, which will be nice. There’s seating, it’s not just general admission, so I feel comfortable going and not getting jostled. We’ll just have to see if I’m feeling up to it. I sure hope so. It’s In This Moment, P.O.D., Ded, and New Years Day at the Performing Arts Center.

I think what makes me feel the worst these days is muscle soreness and shortness of breath. It’s from the fatigue. I get so tired after the chemo, I end up laying around and doing nothing. Then when I want to actually do something, my muscles are like, “Yeah right,” and my lungs are like, “Yup, walking from the bed to the couch is now considered high rate cardio, ya bum!” So once I’m able to start moving again, I have to move at a sloth’s pace and work my way up to a normal human speed.

So what’s next? Here’s a little bit of what I’ll be talking about the next few days: Surgery, Roy, Road Trip, Snow, and Moving Fun!

Peanut Butter is Kind of Cool

Why, you ask?

Because it kind of, sort of, almost (but not entirely) masks the metallic taste in my mouth the week after chemo.

So, one of the other side effects that irks the heck out of me is the metal mouth taste. It ruins the taste of food and is all together unpleasant.

I noticed the other day that when I’d eat Reese’s Puff cereal, don’t judge, the metal taste wasn’t as persistent. It was still there, but it was covered up a bit. So I proceeded to eat the heck out of the cereal. First, it tastes like it’s supposed to, and second, it kind of hid that metallic taste. Win, win.

Of course, I can’t whip out a bowl of Reese’s Puffs every time I want to get rid of that taste, and (unfortunately) it doesn’t really have a lasting effect on the metal mouth.

What’s the alternative? Peanut butter! Straight peanut butter. Right out of the jar, with a spoon. Yummo.

Again, it doesn’t eliminate the taste, but it masks it pretty well. And the straight peanut butter is thick enough that it lasts a bit longer than the Reese’s Puffs taste. It helps before bed, because there is nothing worse than trying to sleep with a metal taste in your mouth!!

And mouthwash, gum, Biotene, etc. does not help at all. If anything, mint makes it worse. So I do brush before bed, but after rinsing that mint taste out, I opt for the peanut butter chaser!