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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Boobs in Bra...Hat in Hand

I have recently had a major epiphany about my body, which is this: It's  the only one I'm ever going to have.  I can't have someone else's.  I  can't save up and buy a new one.  I can't call it mean names in the  mirror and expect it to storm off and leave me alone. This is it. So  I've got to start treating it with respect.

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:

"Limit alcohol."

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.

"Breast-feed."

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.

"Healthy Diet"

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.

3 comments :

daboo said...

Thanks for the great article Ann. It's very insightful, and is a nice reminder of how we should be living our lives. My wife signed us up for a gym earlier this year, so we're on our own difficult quest to get into shape. It's great to see your doing the same and sharing your experience with the rest of us.

Alma said...

Really nice of you to share your revelation with others. The road to physical health opens so many doors. You truly are loving yourself more by making the decision to put healthy food in your body and well as maintain fitness. Best wishes with your run! I too am on a similar journey except I am running a half marathon in January!

Gail said...

I wish you good luck and good health, Ann! You serve as an inspiration to all women.

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