I've decided to completely change my lifestyle. Not all at once. But I've realized that fitness and nutrition are not things that you do "until".
"Until" I fit in those jeans again.
"Until" I lose this many pounds.
"Until" I like myself again.
Fitness and nutrition should be as habitual as brushing your teeth. Like most Americans, I've been borrowing against my life. Smoking, drinking too much, eating too much, and sitting too much. I saw fitness and nutrition as these tools that would always be there, and I could pick them up if things got "too bad".
Well things are bad. They're real bad. We are in an epidemic of completely preventable illnesses, and I am just another statistic. And if that wasn't scary enough, consider this. We're fighting diseases that aren't completely preventable and that make those tools we think will always be there...maybe not always be there.
Like breast cancer.
That's why I'm so glad that Race for the Cure fell in the perfect time slot to be my first 5k goal race. Having a race as a fundraiser for breast cancer research isn't just fun; it's actually really symbolic. While we can't completely prevent breast cancer, there are lifestyle choices we can make to help prevent it.
Here's what the Mayo Clinic says we can do:
I know, bummer right? The more you drink the higher your risk of breast cancer. But I'm learning that the feeling I get from running and lifting weights and seeing the scale ooch down each week is a million times better than being bloated and tipsy. Plus I don't feel like crap about myself the next day.
"Control your weight."
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. Plain and simple. And the older you are, the higher the risk. So, it's time for all of us to stop living on borrowed time. It doesn't mean you have to turn into GI Jane overnight. Seven weeks ago I was 65 lbs overweight after having my second child. No more babies = No more excuses. For the first two weeks, I rested and let my body recover from birth. The only change I made was drinking more water. Then I started walking for a couple of weeks. Then I started Couch to 5k and counting my calories. A couple of weeks ago I started some light strength training and some cross training. Just small incremental changes at my own pace. And now I've lost 33 lbs and feel amazing! If I can do it, anyone can.
Obviously this is not for everyone. Especially if you don't have kids, because that would be...well...really weird. And probably a felony. But if you are preggers and considering breastfeeding then DO IT. Not only has it been linked with a lower risk of breast cancer, but it burns 500 calories a day. Plus, having breastfed 2 babies now, I can say with conviction that you will see your breasts very differently after they go from the show group to the working group. You will be kinder to them and value them more.
"Discontinue hormone therapy."
Long-term combination hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer. While these therapies are greatly beneficial, particularly after menopause (Hello, hot flashes) there is evidence to suggest that better fitness and nutrition can eliminate the need for these therapies in some cases. See how all these puzzle pieces are starting to fit together?...
"Avoid exposure to environmental pollution."
This statistic kind of makes me want to lock myself in my house with the treadmill and never go outside. But I know that getting out and walking, running, and cycling is just less time I'm spending in my car creating exhaust. Imagine if all of us went down this path.
Believe it or not, there is NOT much evidence to suggest that eating more fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of breast cancer. But before we all run out to McDonalds, consider this. Eating healthier, while maybe not directly correlated with a lowered risk of breast cancer, IS correlated with weight loss, which IS correlated with a lowered risk of breast cancer. Again, all the puzzle pieces.... Plus: eating healthier does reduce the risk of getting a host of other diseases you don't want either, like diabetes and high blood pressure.
So there you have it. Living a healthy lifestyle should be just that. A way of life. One last, and perhaps the most important thing you can do to prevent breast cancer is GET CHECKED and CHECK YOURSELF. Early detection may be the single best way to beat this disease until we can find a cure.
October 15th I'll be celebrating my first fitness goal: completing my first 5k at the Race for the Cure. I may be crawling the last mile on my hands and knees, but come hell or high water I will finish. Please consider sponsoring me or making a donation to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research. Or just come down and cheer me on! This fat girl is definitely going to need it!
We can beat this disease, and we can love the bodies we're in. Join me. I can use the company on this journey.