A guest post on fitness and cancer

First things first, I was approached by a lovely woman a while ago about sharing an article of hers with my reader base. I think it’s great information and considering that almost every knows someone who is struggling or has struggled with the big C-word, it’s really pertinent. I think most people know I’m a pretty huge fan of alternative therapies or combination therapies, and showing the benefit of fitness in helping with cancer? Oh, I’m so excited.

Melanie is currently a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness.  To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

Fitness and Cancer – A Brief Overview


As many health experts know, cancer can be a very difficult disease to grapple with. This is the case for many reasons, including the fact that cancer can make an individual feel helpless and subsequently fall prey to a variety of negative emotions such as apathy and depression. Additionally, cancer can be a very expensive condition to treat, thereby precluding sufferers from spending money on things that they desire. Finally, cancer can have a very adverse effect on one’s health and increase one’s susceptibility to other debilitating conditions. Despite the health challenges cancer can create, however, there are a variety of things individuals struggling with the condition can do to walk in greater health. One of these things is exercise. View the three types of exercise listed below and decide which type of workout and fitness level is most appropriate for you or for someone you know. 


Light Exercise Recommendation 

 

Light workouts are a good form of exercise for individuals who are not very physically fit or have been advised by a doctor to avoid intense activity. One great light exercise cancer patients can greatly benefit from is breathing exercises. These exercises involve inhaling and exhaling slowly. Some of the benefits that result from breathing exercises include improved blood flow and circulation, reduced fatigue, ability to do self-care, and improved lung function. Breathing exercises can be especially beneficial for individuals struggling with mesothelioma or other lung-related cancers, in which case a lung may be removed. With simple breathing exercises, mesothelioma patients can take in more oxygen and improve respiratory function.     


Moderate Exercise Recommendation 

 

Moderate exercises are a great tool for individuals who have at least some experience exercising as well as the cardiovascular stamina necessary to complete such workouts. With moderate exercise, individuals will notice a quickening of breath yet will be able to carry on a conversation. One great form of moderate exercise includes yoga. In short, yoga is a form of exercise that maximizes the individual’s mental and physical potential through stretching and controlled breathing mechanisms. Some of the benefits that result from doing yoga include decreased cortisol (stress hormone) levels, improved physical functioning, decreased fatigue, improved flexibility, better quality sleep, management of psychosocial and physical distress of treatments, and decreased pain. In many places, cancer centers offer yoga for individuals struggling with the condition. 


Advanced Exercise Recommendation 

Advanced exercises are a great form of physical activity for individuals who have attained a formidable level of fitness. This type of exercise is often advisable for cancer patients who are entering the later stages of their recovery. Some signs that one is engaging in advanced exercises include deep and rapid breathing, an inability to sing, and the development of sweat after several minutes. 

 

One great type of advanced exercise is weight training. Generally, weight training involves lifting weights of varying sizes for the purpose of toning muscles and/or increasing cardiovascular strength. Some of the benefits of weight training include improved cardiovascular system, improved muscle strength, and feeling more energized. As you increase your amount of resistance and increase your volume of activity, the American Cancer Society states that you will experience increased benefits.   

 

Although cancer can be a difficult condition to grapple with, adopting healthy practices such as exercise can make dealing with the disease easier. One of the great things about using physical activity to generate greater wellness while recovering from cancer is that there are a plethora of activities one can engage in. In so doing, the cancer patient is likely to begin living a much more powerful and productive life. 


I hope you enjoyed the article! 

Have you ever had a cancer scare yourself or known someone who has?

What are your thoughts on alternative therapies?

-a.

 

Who ever would’ve thought green smoothies could taste like happy?

Good morning all, happy Saturday! This month has been kicking my butt, in a totally acceptable way. My veganism challenge is going along swimmingly, minus one time when I accidentally ate something with whey in it but oh my god it was ONE TIME.

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 For the most part, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of finding new things to eat so I don’t get bored and being mindful of my own eating habits. The first day I accidentally only packed food for dinner and zero snacks. I snack all the time. I snack constantly. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t gain weight from it and could eat salt and vinegar chips and peanut butter bananas ALL DAY ERRY DAY. I can’t. But basically, I almost died on that first day. I had never been that hungry for that long in a while. It was a pleasant surprise though. I hadn’t realized that my snacking habits were bad enough that I was never truly hungry before a meal. So, this has forced me to plan ahead meals and snacks so no matter what, I know what I’m eating. The first week or so was fine craving-wise, but this past week I think I actually dreamed of cheese. I became irritated by others eating cheese. I stared wistfully at the shredded mozzarella and block of goat cheese in my fridge on more than one occasion. I can honestly say that cravings for dairy far outweigh any craving I’ve had for a cigarette when quitting (except perhaps when I’m intoxicated…that’s rough). But, when I thought about it, I’ve been eating dairy products my entire life, as opposed to cigarettes. For the most part, however, I’ve really really enjoyed a plant-based diet. I can feel the difference with my energy and stamina. I feel good.

So what do I eat? ImageMornings usually consist of either Kashi cereal and Almond milk (I really like Berry Fruitful or Blackberry Hills or god forbid a combination of the two that is like god is reining down sweet heaven on my face), oatmeal made with any combination of ingredients, or a green smoothie. I make mine ala OhSheGlows with a frozen banana, two handfuls of spinach and/or kale, a cup of almond milk, a few ice cubes, chia seeds, and a tablespoon of peanut butter. I’ve mixed it up with cocoa powder, almond extract, and similar fun things. So good. I’m drinking one now. 

I think I’ve mentioned my weird work schedule before but I usually don’t eat another meal until around 5pm with the patients. I’ve done a lot of big bowls of veggies, or pasta with kale, or tofu wraps. I’ve eaten a lot of wraps. Spinach wraps, hummus wraps, yellow pepper and broccoli sprouts with whatever else I can find wraps. I’m a fan. They’re fast, easy, and filling. Snacks are usually one serving of a carb and a snack bag with a half-serving of craisins and almonds. I’ve made the best roasted broccoli I’ve ever had in my life this month. 

I’m lucky; there’s a My Organic Market (or MOMs for short) near my house that stocks every vegan thing you could ever want. I purchased my vegan cheese there (daiya is hands down the best – I prefer it melted to straight out of the fridge though), coconut ice cream (craving satisfied – better than regular ice cream), nutritional yeast (inactive yeast – I put it on basically everything), chia (surprisingly hard for me to find elsewhere) and any other odds and ends I couldn’t find anywhere else. They also have the best selection of kombucha tea, which I personally adore. I could drink it every day.

I’m considering sticking to a mostly plant-based diet after this month. Regardless, I honestly prefer how I feel now even with the cravings for cheese. No, but seriously the only thing I crave is cheese. That and one day I had a craving for one of those gourmet fancy burgers with bleu cheese, bacon, and a fried egg on top. I wanted to get it all in one visualization, I think. That still sounds so good. Image

Eating out has been the hardest thing to maneuver. Though I think everyone in my life is sick of hearing about vegan this and that, I’ve had a lot of support. Minus my one coworker that keeps asking me if I want bites of his chicken or beef (COREY). My response is to the right. My parents have been surprisingly tolerant of my constant use of the blender, my friends for the most part don’t mind eating vegan with me, but when I go out I feel very limited with options. I’ve found a few websites that locate nearby restaurants and stores that are vegetarian and vegan friendly, or just straight up vegan. I’ll post them ASAP for you guys. All in all it’s been a fun change, a harder challenge than not drinking for a month (aka last year’s challenge), and eye-opening. I have had to remind people quite a few times though that I’m not doing this for the bunnies and after August, I would be maintaining a plant-based diet rather than actual veganism. Meaning? I’m still drinking wine and beer even though it’s often fined with animal bones. Yup. I know, it’s gross.

Exercise-wise, I haven’t been getting out there all that much for a lot of reasons. One? I did something to my hip/lower back area. I’ve been told it’s a pinched nerve, my mom thinks it’s just an inflamed muscle, who knows. But I haven’t wanted to exacerbate it. I’ve still walked and jogged a few times but I don’t want to lift until I am seen by a doctor. I have been doing light yoga though and forgot how much I’d loved it. I’m trying to incorporate it more often. I also seem to be struggling with finding the time. No, really! My morning is very full of cooking, planning, and then attempting to clean up my messes before work (I don’t always do well with that). After work I like to read or relax to unwind before bed. I should try to add yoga in then, I think. Or perhaps a bit in the morning and night!

Lastly, I’m going to be posting an article a very nice woman asked if I would share of hers on cancer and fitness. While I forgot that I had another email account for this blog (probably not my shining moment), I finally was able to get back to her. I think it’s insightful and interesting. I should be able to get it up tomorrow for everyone!

Side note: I’ve fallen completely in love with maxi dresses. I think it’s a bit of a forbidden type of love because I’m 5’2″ and they’re always about six inches too long but I went from 0-4 in a month time span and wear them quite literally all the time. 

Alrighty then, I’m off to find a recipe for vegan cupcakes to freak the actual shit out of my friend later and then I have some birthday prezzies to purchase!

– a.