#235 A Healthy Lifestyle After Breast Cancer is Hard Sometimes

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After breast cancer treatment, it can be difficult to begin or resume a healthy lifestyle, especially when physical and emotional energy is low or the body is in pain. 

Breast cancer treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, can take a toll on the body, leaving you feeling exhausted and depleted. This exhaustion can make it challenging to engage in regular exercise, plan healthy meals or even make wise decisions when it comes to food choices. 

Emotions can also be a big barrier to getting started with a new habit, and a lot of times it can be difficult to sustain those healthy choices. This can make it difficult to feel motivated to take care of oneself and engage in healthy behaviors, such as eating well and exercising. 

It’s important for women who have been through breast cancer to recognize that it’s normal to experience physical and emotional challenges. And that sometimes you’ll stumble along as you try to create and stick to healthy lifestyle choices. 

Check out this episode to hear more about: 

  • The challenges that come with living a healthy lifestyle after breast cancer diagnosis. 
  • Why it’s important not to look for an easy solution. 
  • You have to decide to be an individual and do what’s right for you. 
  • Resources that are out there that can support you in this journey. 

Referred to in this episode: 

Better Than Before Breast Cancer Life Coaching Membership 

90 Days of Wellness




Read the full transcript below:

Laura Lummer  00:00

You're listening to the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a Certified Life health and nutrition coach, and I'm also a breast cancer thriver. If you're trying to figure out how to move past the trauma and the emotional toll of breast cancer, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I will give you the tools and the insights to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer. Well, let's get started. Hello, Hello, friends. Welcome to Episode 235 of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm so happy to be here with you today here on this finally, Sunny kind of warm for Southern California day. It has been a cold, wet, cloudy winter in California like crazy. I lived here my whole life. And I'm telling you, I'm ready for some summer sunshine. So today's been a beautiful day Sunny, just above 62, which, honestly, it's been awhile since it's been that warm here, which is very, very unusual. So I'm very excited because you know, when the sun is out, I'm so motivated to go out, right. And I know across the country, it's been cold. And that's not unusual for some places where you live, but I know it makes it harder to get out. It makes it more difficult for all of us to get some sunshine to get out and have vitamin D to get out in nature. And nature is just so vital for our health. So healing for us. So healing for us emotionally and physically. And so getting outdoors and being in nature. And having feet on the ground, on the actual ground in the earth is just such a wonderful experience. And such a necessary experience to do as often as we can as often as weather will allow. And I am so proud of and always impressed by some of my clients who live in some of the coldest environments I've seen, wrap themselves up and bundle up and still go out on hikes and fishing excursions and all kinds of things in the freezing cold. So whoever you are, I hope you at least have some sunshine and you're able to get out there and, and do something good for your health today. And that's really what this show is all about. There's been a lot of things that have come up for me lately that make me think about how important it is for us to talk very openly about the challenges that come with living a healthy lifestyle. You know, I think it's important for me as a health coach as a nutrition coach as life coach, one to set the example of what I coach my clients on. And obviously, as someone with stage four cancer with metastatic breast cancer, living a healthy lifestyle is critical for me. And it's something I put a tremendous amount of energy and time and money into honestly. And so I think it's important to be really honest about that. And honest about the fact that it's not easy, right? Because after breast cancer, I believe that this is something that's always on our mind before breast cancer. Yes. Do we talk about healthy lifestyles? Do we hear about healthy lifestyles? Yes. Does it have the same significance as it does for us after a breast cancer diagnosis, I'm going to venture to say, not really, I'm gonna say becomes more significant. And because it becomes more significant, I think that we have a tendency to struggle with it even more, to struggle with what is a healthy lifestyle? What is the best thing for you to do? What is not okay for you to do. And something that has come up for me definitely, as I dive deeper and deeper into the metabolic approach to cancer, and the understanding of food and supplements and the role that they play in keeping our bodies as healthy as they can be so that our bodies can heal themselves. The deeper that I dig into that, the more I have had to be very aware and cautious of my own thoughts that actually bring up fear of food. And I think we can go both ways I think we can start to become afraid of food and afraid of whether or not what we're going to eat is safe, or the other way which is there's so much to think about that it's too much. So I'm not going to think about it and I'm just going to keep eating the way that I used to eat well inside there's really some turmoil going on. There's really the I don't think I should be doing this right we start shooting on ourselves and at think that there's another kind of fear that ends up being in the background, whether it's in the back of your mind. And that fear, I think also comes along with guilt and shame comes along with this idea that I should be doing more and I'm not. Now what if I get a recurrence isn't my fault, and it can just be this really ugly, dark rabbit hole, right. So that's why I think it's important to talk about. It's freaking hard to live a healthy lifestyle, right? It isn't easy, because it isn't about knowing what to do. I mean, I've said this before, I'm sure I'll say it again. Y'all know what to do. We all know what to do. We know, eat whole foods, right? Stay away from sugar, stay away from processed food, stay away from low, moderate alcohol stay away from sugary sodas, things like that. We all know that. Why don't we all do it, because it's much more complicated than that. It takes time. It takes planning, it takes preparation, it takes the belief that living this way is actually having an impact. You know, when I have talked about what I struggled with my first diagnosis in 2011, getting diagnosed with breast cancer, and then going well, what the hell, I had what I thought of as a healthy lifestyle that I ate healthy, that I was a vegetarian, you know, for many years before that, and doesn't that have a health halo? When we look at that type of a diet and say, Wow, that's a really healthy diet, but it's actually a really high in carbohydrate diet as well. And as we dig into what feeds cancer, glucose, right, consistent high blood sugar, which is elevated by carbohydrate intake, and I'm not speaking of vegetables, I'm talking about a lot of grains or flowers or things like that vegetables have a ton of fiber in them. So that's not necessarily going to increase your glucose levels as much as other carbohydrates. But also, whether or not that diet is the right diet for the body it's going into, and how do you figure that out? What lab work tells you that what DNA analysis tells you that it's can be so complicated. And so I think that when it comes to following a healthy lifestyle, these are the kinds of things that get in the way. So another thing though, that is a big factor about it is just energy. You know, it's mental energy, and physical energy. And once we've had breast cancer, and we've gone through whatever treatments we go through, or for managing living with breast cancer, going through treatments, those things zap our energy, right standard of care treatments, and I'm not talking trash on them. This is just facts. When you get a treatment and standard of care, it can be really hard on your body, right? Chemotherapy, freaking hard radiation, hard. aromatase inhibitors, right, everything has the side effects. And they have a tendency to zap your energy in addition to the changes they create in your body, right putting you into chemical chemically induced menopause, things like that are energy changes. And that makes it even more challenging to focus on and stay consistent with a healthy lifestyle. So I'll share the story with you something happened to me last week, I had a Zometa infusion. So for those of you who don't know this, so meta is an IV infusion, and it is at the simplest level designed to keep the calcium inside your bone. So calcium isn't leaching out of your bones, especially for someone like me who has metastatic cancer in the bones. It's also used as a adjuvant treatment nowadays. So if you've been through a cancer diagnosis and treatment, and you have no evidence of active disease, some oncologist now will give this to their patients, because it's been shown to perhaps reduce the risk of recurrence, since breast cancer likes to move into the bone. So it creates this kind of a hostile environment in the bones so to speak. So cancer doesn't grow as much in there. And so that's a good thing. But the treatment itself, can cause a lot of pain. And sometimes I get those treatments and it is no problem at all i breeze right through them. I'll get a feeling like kind of fuzzy in the head like a little bit of almost like a drunkenness for maybe that evening and the next morning and then I feel better. But sometimes I get that treatment. And it's as if everywhere that I have cancer lights up. It's incredibly painful. And this is last week was one of those experiences. And so I bring it up because


Laura Lummer  10:02

I follow a very, I don't want to say like strict, regimented and make it sound like a deprivation diet. But I follow a diet to stay in therapeutic ketosis because of the metabolic benefits that it has for my body. And because I do that, I'm very meticulous about weighing food and measuring food and following my macros to make sure that I'm getting the fat intake, but also all the vitamins and all the minerals and all the vegetables and having a really healthy, well rounded, well planned ketogenic diet. And that takes energy. So when you are not feeling great, and you're in pain, what is one of the things that is lacking? is energy. When we don't have energy, like people will say, Oh, well, you know, you have to have discipline, and you have to have willpower to live a healthy lifestyle. And maybe, you know, sometimes maybe, but I think that the much more powerful aspects of the the ability to carry through with that are one working on your thoughts about what it means to you why you make the choices you make, are really connecting on an emotional level with why you want to make healthy choices, that is so much more powerful than willpower. And the second thing is energy. Without energy, you need energy to make decisions. And if you haven't planned ahead, which is why the minute you start to work on a healthy lifestyle plan, somebody that's going to work with you tells you you got to plan, right? Plan your food, why do you plan your food, because what's going to happen is you go through a busy day living life doing all the things that are required of you, and then you get home for dinner and you're friggin tired, you're exhausted. And when you're tired and exhausted and overwhelmed, you don't have the energy in your brain, willpower takes energy, right? Making decisions, doing planning takes energy. And so that's why it's so important to plan ahead when you do have the energy so that you don't have to worry about having the energy later on. Now, when I knew I had this a metal treatment coming, of course, I knew that I planned ahead because I never know how it's going to affect me, I had several things that I needed to take care of for my business. And I wanted to make sure they were done before I went in for the treatment. And then I blocked off my coaching calendar. So I kept my coaching calendar much lighter than I normally would, because I don't know how I'm gonna feel. And I know I'm gonna help but I do know how I show up for my people, right. And if I'm not feeling well, and I've got a full calendar, that's either I'm not going to show up the way I want to for them, or I'm not going to be taking care of myself in the way I need to for me. So I plan ahead with time to make sure I can take care of myself, if this happens to be one of the treatments that hits me harder than others. So fast forward. Yes, it does. It hits me harder. And a couple of days into the treatment. It's kind of like the peak of whatever the side effects are, I am not feeling good. And my sweet husband constantly needs. What can I get for you? What can I make for dinner? What can I do for you and as so many of us want to do when someone we love doesn't feel good. We want to give them a treat, right? When we are helpless to make someone feel better. When we can't take away pain when we can't take away sickness? What do we want to do? We want to give them a treat, we want to give them ice cream, we want to give them chocolate, we want to give them something because we want to give that that little buffer right? I call that the buffer because we are I was in a place that was both physically and emotionally very uncomfortable, emotionally uncomfortable. Because when I have the treatment that creates that kind of an experience physically in my body, then my mind starts going to should I be doing this? Is this a good choice for me? Now of course I have evidence that shows me it is a good choice. And that shows me that it is benefiting. But when you're in the heat of it and the cost versus benefit is heavy on your mind. It's a very emotionally uncomfortable place to be. So here I am not feeling great, not emotionally great, not physically great. And my husband comes and he's so sweet. And he's like what can I do? What can I do for you? And in that moment, the only thing I wanted was a Five Guys hamburger and french fries. That sounded so good to me. Now, I never met a french fry I didn't like I love french fries. French fries are not a part of my plan, I haven't had one. And I don't even know how long and hamburgers. I mean, I could have just the regular burger and the veggies on it. But like on a bun in a hamburger I like I wanted, I wanted the real deal. And that is not part of my plan. And as I said to him, oh my God, that sounds so good. I followed it with that will kick me out of ketosis, and it's going to take me two or three days to get back into it. I already know that will happen. And he's like, Well, honey, maybe it'll help you feel better. And this is, again, what we call buffering. But sometimes we choose to buffer, right? Sometimes we say, You know what, I just want a buffer, I want a temporary hit, I want a temporary feel good. And I'm acknowledging, as I'm going into this, I know this is not a real treat, I know this is not going to be good for me in the end, in as far as I won't accomplish the goal that I'm after for my health, because it will kick me out of ketosis and staying in therapeutic ketosis is my goal. But I also know, I just want that right now. And I'm in a moment of weakness, because I don't have the energy, I don't have the energy to think about weighing out something else. I don't want to eat another avocado. You know, I just want some damn french fries. And, of course, he got them for me. And of course, they were delicious. And as I tell all my clients, if you are going to indulge, then do it on purpose, decide I'm doing this, I know why I'm doing this, I'm not going to kid myself and say it's actually something good for me. I know I'm doing it, I'm going to do it anyway, I know what the consequences are going to be. I'm prepared to take them on. And I will not beat myself up or shame myself while I enjoy this, right? Just enjoy it just go for it when we're human, right. So I have the burger and fries. And I think we're both roasted said to each other like 100 times, that was the best burger I've ever had. That was so delicious. That was so satisfying, right. But the point of it is that energy level was such that thinking about making a different choice, that would have been a healthier choice. And as far as the goal that I have for myself, and the plan that I follow for myself, the energy was just wasn't there. You know, there was a lot of mental fatigue, there was a lot of physical fatigue. And that happens to us throughout life. And it's not just because I had that treatment. You know, you all go through different treatments, you many of you are on drug therapies for 10 years after you finish your your first act of treatment for breast cancer. And then we have children, we have stress, we have busy jobs, there's a lot of things that go on in life. And so why I say it's important to talk about the fact that living a healthy lifestyle can be hard, is because if you're looking for an easy solution, you're going to constantly be disappointed. If you're saying to yourself all the time, it shouldn't be this hard. You're wrong. It is that hard. It does take a lot of intention and a lot of energy. And why again, that's important is because once a body has had cancer in it, we really need to be able to focus on how or what steps we can take to support ourselves in being the healthiest body it can be so that it can continue to heal itself, it can continue to thrive. But if we approach that lifestyle change with the thought that it should be easy, then I think that puts up another obstacle for you. Because when it isn't easy, then we fall off the wagon and we give up. And if there's anything that I could advocate for more than anything for each and every one of you, it would be to find that way and to be willing to fail along the way. Right To Be willing to know that there's going to be times we're going to have a hamburger and french fries. There's going to be times when you're going to have See's Candy chocolate Easter egg, there's going to be times where you don't follow the plan. And that happens because it's not easy. I think one of the most powerful aspects to think about when we're looking at creating a healthy lifestyle, when we're following a healthy lifestyle is the understanding the space for embracing the fact that there will be setbacks. Because if we can allow ourselves to know that there's going to be setbacks, then we don't beat ourselves up then we don't say we're failures We don't throw in the towel. But if we know there are times along this path, where I'm going to stumble, and then you stumble, then you can say, Okay, I knew that was coming. I just didn't know when I didn't know when it would come up. But I knew it would no problem, let me get back up. And that's the critical piece, right, moving forward in small steps that are realistic, understanding what your goal is why you want to be healthy, why you want to follow a healthy lifestyle. You know, I watched this documentary recently, and it was put on it was recorded by the Food Revolution network. And they had taken this group of people who were overweight who had diabetes, and were on medication, insulin dependent and had several other medications they were taking to support them like high cholesterol meds, high blood pressure meds, and they took them into this controlled environment into this home, where two chefs prepared plant based meals for them, that a physician overlooking their medications, reducing their medication. And this program was really short, it was only 10 days. But in 10 days, almost every one of those people got off of insulin, for the couple that didn't get off insulin, they reduced it by 95%. Everybody lost weight, and most of them got off of their other meds as well, then the show follows up with them as they go back out into the real world. And most of them ended up back on insulin, gaining weight going back into their old habits of eating. And many of the things that I heard them say, as they were being interviewed were, well, my husband won't eat that way. You know, I, I'm the one that makes the meals and these other people won't eat that way. Or here's my social circle, and the people in my social circle, don't eat that way. And I love this one gentleman, he said something to the effect of how he was in he and his wife were in this social circle of people who go out and ride motorcycles on the weekends, and how they had started sharing with their group of friends, the benefits they had learned by going on this retreat and working with these plant based chefs and learning how to eat whole healthy food, and that in doing so they were seeing their friends change and adopt these healthier lifestyles. And he was saying, you know, you have to make a decision? Are you going to be an individual? And you're going to do what's right for you? Or are you going to follow the group and just do what they do, even though you know, it's causing you harm. And I thought, that's a big concept. That's a huge part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Because Come on, we don't go through this life alone, nor do we want to, we've got family, we've got friends, and we've got people who may not have had cancer, who may not have health issues. I know there's two people in my family, men, of course, who can literally eat or drink anything they want and never gain an ounce and they're healthy as oxes. And don't I wish that I had some of their DNA. Yes, I do. So there's people out there like that as well. And then our thoughts get caught up in it. Why did they get to do it? Shouldn't I be able to do it? I'm gonna tell you, as I said, when I was not in a great place last week, and in this pain, I'm dealing with these treatments. I know another one is coming up, right? I'm already dreading it because I'm in it now thinking Christ, I gotta do this again. And then the mind starts to go with why? Look at all these other people that don't have to do this. Look, all these other people I know don't put near the energy into a healthy lifestyle idea. They don't have to do this right, we started going down that rabbit hole. And that's when we've got to pull ourselves back and ask, well, one, two thoughts like that serve us? Absolutely not. Right. They don't serve your well being in any way. They don't help you in any way, shape or form. But pulling back and saying, okay, am I taking individual responsibility for the choices that I'm making for myself right now? It is hard sometimes. Right? And especially when you're low on energy and not feeling well. So the reason I talked about so what do you do? What do you do this? Okay, great, Laura, you told me all about how hard a healthy lifestyle isn't especially hard when I'm not feeling well. But here I am not feeling well. What do I do? Well, my offer would be that you decide what you want that lifestyle to look like. You really make a decision. You think about it, you think what do you want to change and start with low hanging fruit? You know, don't start with being a vegan bodybuilder. Don't go there. Right To start with low hanging fruit and small changes, but really understanding why you want to do it for yourself, and then intentionally, which means literally pull out your calendar, I do this every week, literally pull out your calendar. And in that calendar, ask yourself, what days do I typically have more energy? What time of day? Am I more mentally focused and mentally clear. And whatever that is, that's where you mark in, I'm taking two hours on that day, at that time, to plan some food for myself, to chop up vegetables, right? To make a grocery list, whatever it is, that's really the next step. Starting with intention, starting with planning, now, there's going to be all kinds of thoughts that come up for you. And I say, What do I plan? How do I plan? How much do I eat? Start with low hanging fruit. Just start with incorporating more whole foods into your life, more vegetables into your life, more organic foods wherever you can, wherever your budget allows, write small, tiny things, and remind yourself, hey, this is a challenge I'm taking on. This can be a challenging thing, I'm going to have to figure out how to work this in with time, I'm going to figure out how to do this around energy, I'm going to figure out how to do this around money. Right? Because let's face it, groceries are expensive these days. So what are the resources that are out there that can support you in it? I had a post I don't know, it was several weeks ago about vegetables. And some someone responded to me like vegetables are out of the question. They're too expensive. And so I think that's really meaningful, you know, and so I want to share that there are inexpensive ways, there are lots of places that happen that are in local. They're kind of regional and local to people that supply food and produce that's like ugly produce that grocery stores don't want to sell. I think there's one that's a delivery service, that's called misfits. If you Google it and look for some of these resources, you'll see that there are people that actually give amazing discounted prices on produce. So that doesn't go to waste. And a lot of is organic produce even organic or different whole foods that can supplement your diet in a really healthy way in a really budget friendly way. So again, it takes time, right, you've got to look up those resources, you may have to drive to them, some of them deliver. But when you embrace the fact that


Laura Lummer  27:51

doing everything you can to support your healthiest body is one of the best choices you can make to reduce recurrence. And to give you a better chance of a longer, healthier life, then what's the next step? And then also, at that time, embracing, this is not going to be the easiest thing you've ever done. And that's okay. Because you can do hard things. And there's support out there for you to do hard things. So I just want to talk about that. Because I know, you know, before we had breast cancer was all about just weight loss, right? We talked about food, we talked about exercise, we talked about healthy lifestyles, but it was all weight loss focused. And now I just want to offer that yeah, weight loss is great, and a lot of us want to lose weight. And having a healthy BMI. Having a healthy lean body mass to body fat mass is also important in reducing our risk for cancer and cancer recurrence, living a healthier functional, longer life. But more than that, it's an act of self love and self care. More than any of those other things and weight loss at this point. It's how do I want to care for this body? How do I love this body? How do I want to treat it? And what am I willing to do? What am I willing to overcome? What am I willing to face? What am I willing to stumble through to figure out the best way to support myself in the healthiest way possible? And I think that starts first with making a decision on what you want. And then creating space, which means creating time for it. And then taking personal responsibility for what you're creating. That it is all on you and it's a lot right after breast cancer. What do I hear most often I don't want to do more. This has been so hard I need a break and I get it. Trust me. I get it. I live that life. I know it but I know at the same time that it is the single most powerful, important thing you can do. I was actually thinking about it this morning, I was taking my daily chemotherapy pill. And I was thinking, I'm so glad that I don't feel like the outcome from my life is 100% dependent on this pill. I'm so glad. And I feel so much more powerful knowing that I choose to take this pill because I believe it's part of what's contributing to me having less cancer and healing from I know, it's supporting me. And I know in other ways, it's creating undesirable side effects. But I feel so good knowing that I have a lot of power over the other choices that I make in my life, to support my body's ability to heal. And that in knowing I have that power and the ability to make those choices, I don't feel like I am this. I don't feel so much fear. I think that's what it comes down to. I don't feel the fear like ooh, if this pill doesn't work, what then because I feel like there's lots of resources for me, standard of care being one of them. But all the other decisions and all the other choices, mental spiritual, emotional food, exercise, environmental relationships, all of those things play a huge role in helping me to stay healthy and heal and live longer. And that's a really powerful place to be. And I want to see you in that powerful place to write if you need help with that. Come and join me in the better than before breast cancer life coaching, membership, or enroll in my 90 days of wellness, a heart centered approach to wellness, you can find all those programs on my website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com and just click at the top where it says work with Laura. All right, and I will talk to you again next week and until then, be good to yourself. Take care

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