A Healthier Me

In January of 2019 I was finished with chemo and radiation to hopefully zap any remaining microscopic jerks of cancer that could be lurking in my body after my lumpectomy in May of 2018. In order to hopefully stay cancer-free, my oncologist put me on tamoxifen, an estrogen receptor modulator that blocks estrogen and progesterone from feeding anymore cancer. I have to be on it for 5-10 years.

One of the side effects of tamoxifen is that it throws you into menopause if you are not already there. At age 40, I was not already there. It also causes weight gain.

I was not exactly slender when I went on tamoxifen. I was already overweight and had high cholesterol. That spring, when I was turning 41 and had my yearly physical with my primary physician, I asked about losing weight. Her response was, “I really don’t want you worrying about or focusing on that for a couple years. We need your body to adjust to the tamoxifen before we consider lifestyle changes. Tamoxifen is already a lifestyle change. Your body needs time to get used to it and to rest and heal from a year of trauma due to cancer and treatment.”

So we shelved it.

I am not a super active person (I hate sweating. HATE it. Nor do I have any kind of eye-hand coordination) and I LOVE food. That means the past two years were a whirlwind of adding an anti-depressant (since the tamoxifen made my previous one not nearly as effective) and weight gain.

By my 43rd birthday this past spring I was over it. I asked again, “Can we talk about this weight situation now? I have never ever weighed this much.”

We talked about it. She gave me some advice that I scoffed at a bit. That weekend, I found out that one of my best friends was doing the very thing my doctor suggested. “Do it with me!” she suggested.

Fine.

That was March. Now as we close out the year 9 months later, I am down almost 60 pounds.

It wasn’t easy, but what I chose with my doctor’s help and my family’s support is actually sustainable. It was a complete change in our food lifestyle, but as a family we are now healthier too!

The best part is that I actually feel great. I enjoy being in photos again. I like getting dressed because I feel cute again.

Committing to my health was the single best thing I did in 2021. And I vow to stay committed to it in 2022!

Coming Down the Mountain

This week begins Lent.

I’ve never much recognized Lent before. I know what it is; I know the meanings and many of the traditions and ceremonies behind Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, the Lent season, and all the Easter-related days.

Yesterday we celebrated Shrove Sunday (the Sunday before Lent) in church with a pancake brunch (sort of a prequel to Fat Tuesday) after the service where I read scripture during the service.  The scriptures I read were from Exodus and 2 Peter about Moses’ mountain top experience with God. The sermon was about how Jesus didn’t stay on top of the mountain, but went down among the people–the hurting, sick, and sinful people to bring them love and forgiveness.

It reminded me yet again that the greatest love we can show in this world is to humble ourselves as servants to each other.

I am also reminded of our (as humans) habit of relying on things and substances to help us cope with our lives.

I do this with food. I eat my feelings so that I don’t have to feel them. I rely Diet Coke and junk food. I figure one more cookie won’t do anymore harm. What is one more handful of Cheetos anyway?

It’s a problem.

It’s an embarrassment.

I hate myself for every soda I drink and every “fat” food I eat.

When I was pregnant and each bite or sip was not just going into me, but into one of my sons, I was so much more careful. Because it wasn’t about me.

Now all the crap I put in me is about me.

Lent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ. Many fast or give up something to prepare for Easter.

Christ gave his life so to relate lots of people give up chocolate. That always seemed dumb to me. Growing up we never practiced giving up something for Lent, and I think the idea was that in no way could we give up anything that could come close to symbolizing or relating to Jesus giving his life.

This year, though, I have been thinking about my addiction to putting junk in my body in order to try to stuff my feelings down and satiate an emptiness that I feel when I start to feel anxious or discouraged.

I have been thinking about how this body of mine was given to me to put love in the world and how I have grown two people in it. Why am I not taking better care of it?

So this year for Lent, I am giving up Diet Coke.

It sounds just as lame as giving up chocolate, but it’s a really big step for me. I hope to not just give it up until Easter, but forever. I hope that it will help me to remember to put nourishing nutritious food in my body rather than garbage that hikes up my BMI, my cholesterol, and my shame.

Because it’s hard go down the mountain to spread love and healing in a broken world when your own insides are hurt and broken.