First picture is at my heaviest on June 24, 2017 178 pounds; middle picture is July 24, 2017 and last photo is from August 2017
I have been posting a lot on Instagram (follow me @thetimebetweenis; I follow back) about my weight journey post breast cancer treatment. It is strange to be sharing so much - I do not know if I will ever get used to it - including the photo of my naked chest...
Anyway, my whole life post puberty I was about 135-137 pounds and almost 5 foot 6 inches. I was never happy with my body. I do not know why - when I look back on pictures even before I went down the road of breast cancer, I do not know what I was complaining about. I looked healthy and curvy. I wanted to be 120 pounds though. HA! (Picture on the left is on the night of my high school ring ceremony when I was a junior in high school.)
I was never a very active person BUT I had a wicked fast metabolism. I would eat so much junk - my house was Entenmann’s Central - my grandma would go to the outlet for the baked goods and load up once a week. I remember trying to weigh less but not really caring enough to eat a vegetable or do any exercise.
When I moved to Italy, I walked like no one’s business but only on weekends. During the week, I had work each day in the office and classes 4 nights a week oh and homework. Living in Italy, I was called “fake skinny” by my friends who put me on a scale during one of our infamous all night study sessions. It was in kilos though so I did not really understand but they both told me their girlfriends did not even weigh ½ of what I did which led me to believe their girlfriends did not get anywhere near a scale around them.
So for me once I returned from Italy and could read my scale I had gained 10 pounds but I am sure it was muscle. No really, I am sure of it. You see, in Europe and basically everywhere except here in the USA portion sizes are “normal”. When you go to an Olive Garden (for example) and order a pasta dish, you are seeing a size of plate that is at least 4x larger than the size of a dish you would order in a restaurant in Italy.
All of that walking and moving when I lived in Italy (I had no car so every errand was done on foot especially my solitary Sunday walks from my apartment near the Vatican to the city center and beyond). Once I returned from living overseas, I went back to my car and driving everywhere so those pounds of muscle became something else.
Then, before I knew it, I gave birth to two children - with my daughter, the scale was in the 200's and everyone thought I was carrying multiples; with my son, I lost weight until the 6th month of pregnancy and at my heaviest right before delivery I was 170-175. I creeped up each year, it seemed, little by little until I was hovering more in the 160-170 range than the 135-145 range even 7 years post the birth of my second child.
It does not sound like a big difference but it is when you think about height. I was never ‘overweight’ but I was definitely heavier than I should have been.
THAT BEING SAID IN NO WAY DO I THINK MY BREAST CANCER WAS CAUSED BY MY WEIGHT. I understand there are “risk factors” to cancer and that people like to think about prevention and how to avoid these diseases but the fact remains that even at my “heaviest” I was nowhere near obese and in fact smaller even than many people in my life - all of whom have never had gotten breast cancer (that I know of).
I have exercised for an hour a day since April 2014. I meditated daily since 2015. I did yoga and other stress reducing exercises. I gave up all processed foods in 2014 when I was misdiagnosed with a corn allergy. There is an idea of “prevention” and “it won’t be me” that does not quite exist. I should have never gotten breast cancer but I did.
Now post cancer and the huge amount of weight gained during treatments, I decided I was ready to get moving. This was something I was not ready to do until after I finished treatment and healed from radiation.
I began slow but stuck with it. The weight began to come off but so slowly. I was eating super clean and not much of anything and moving but my weight froze at 158-160. I could not lose any more. I met with the integrative medicine doctor at Sloan and he recommended that to limit my risk of recurrence I should weigh 147 pounds.
I was incredulous. I was already working out daily, eating so healthy it was ridiculous and I straight out told him I cannot lose anymore - I lost 20 pounds and that is all I can do. He told me to get the book 10 Day Smoothie Challenge by JJ Smith so I got it. (Again, I am very medically compliant).
I began the cleanse on September 12 2017 and did it until September 20 2017. In those 8 days, I dropped 10 pounds. The only reason I stopped was because my dad was being admitted for open heart surgery and I could not get smoothies while I was with him. However, since that smoothie challenge, I have found that I am not as hungry, that I am not interested in eating as much volume and I am keeping the same routine for some parts of my diet plan.
I did the modified cleanse meaning I ate a small lunch. I also snacked on veggies and apples and unsalted nuts throughout the day, as needed. I continued to bring these snacks with me when I was away from the cleanse and away from home. I have been eating healthier and feeling lighter. My weight is now 148 pounds. I am 1 pound away from the “suggested” weight.
I did not do this to get “skinny” - to be honest with you, even when I weighed more I kind of still looked the same. I carry my weight in my stomach so I either look pregnant or I do not. That being said in June when I was at my heaviest, you could see the weight everywhere. I am including photos to show my journey here in this blog.
I hope you, when you are ready, consider getting fit in a healthy way. Make sure it is not too much for you. Do not stress your body during treatment. I have never appreciated just being me before - now I love every inch of me even the inches that used to house my right breast. I hope you can be at peace with your body. I love my body even when I weighed the most. All of this is post cancer though - I was the 16, 26 and 36 year old who was not happy in my own skin and now I am just so damn happy to be alive and my focus is staying that way as long as possible. I know weight is not the key to this but I figure it is never a bad thing to be as fit as possible…
This is what I do in the time between..
I think about this a lot in the time between - who am I? Am I still me post breast cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment. You see, I always knew that I was made of strong stuff. I have had an interesting life, to say the least and have had many strange (and wonderful) things happen to me along the way.
When I first found myself, my true self, it was the first time I lived away from my family. For some people, that is when they go to college but for me it was when I started my MBA program across the Atlantic Ocean. I was home for college and then had the once in a lifetime opportunity to study abroad for a full year (well, 11 months to be exact) and to get my MBA at 21-22 years old.
This experience changed the course of my life. It changed my professional opportunities, my personal life even my love life - but that is for another day. Let's just say my life was pretty much set to be a certain way, a certain path, and then I up and moved to Rome, Italy and everything changed. The way I spoke changed, the way I dressed changed, the way I did my hair changed. I mean, can I stop and digress on the hair?
I went every month to a hair salon near Piazza Del Poppolo owned by Sophia Loren's sister -- her SISTER -- and my hair stylist, Jorge, was amazing. I kept going shorter and shorter and shaved the back of my head for the first time. It is here where I finally found a way to manage that thing that was on my head the bouffant that made a girl in high school nickname me "Medusa" for a short while when we were all still being mean to one another.
The changes did not stop there- I carried myself differently, learned how to take care of myself (with the help of a very special person who is now in my life and helping me DAILY as I fight cancer - you know who you are --- Antonella) and I just got to understand what being "free" meant - while still keeping an almost 4.0 GPA because I have and always will be (at heart) a nerd.
When I returned home, things just did not "fit" anymore and lots of things changed even more. I began a career that took me around the world and just hammered in the fact that there is a professional me and a personal me. I also got boring. Well, first I got married and had a child, then another and then I got really boring.
But before my diagnosis I had started to find myself again - putting myself out there with my small business and really using social media and blogging and being the "expert" on things - which in the same way limited myself from really free expression.
Now, I think of myself and say, "Who am I?" Am I someone to "pity" - NO. I mean it was earth shattering to be diagnosed but all things considered I look back on my feelings and fears and think it was all justified. I went through those stages of grief rather quickly but then I am no stranger to having life up and change on me last minute and traumatically. Not everything that changed in my life was as amazing as living in Rome for a year. There have been lots of hard times and obstacles and things that just seemed like, "How will I ever make it back from here?" But I did it and I made it through.
I thought the same way about my cancer diagnosis - life sucks sometimes but despite all of that, I have still been lucky. It is more than luck, though, it is something I do not often share publicly because I have spent my life still being that mix of "professional" me and "personal" me and there are somethings you do not share -- but I would be remiss if I did not credit what, for me, has helped me be strong when I had no other choice and that is my faith.
I am working on another post to go in more detail about my faith - I am not a prophet and I do not want to convince anyone of following religion or believing in something just because I do. I do feel though that it is an important piece of what makes me, me and I am willing and ready to share it.
For now, though, I just want to say that I am still "me" - I can still be "boring" though I am working so hard on changing that on pushing myself to do things I have not done in over 12 years. I want to be a better friend and also to be better to me and my needs and not just subjugating myself to the needs of the people I love. I love them still the same but I cannot be who I was before. With each new experience, we change- at least if we are still living, we change. And I am ready for this new change.
My body has been beaten and battered (all for good reason to kick cancer's ass) and I will continue to persevere and smile. People do not understand that about me - how I have kept such a positive attitude and when I am asked how, I tell the truth, "I have no choice." That statement means a lot - I have no choice to be but who I am - positive, hopeful, fighter, hard worker and a little bit crazy.
That is why despite stage 3 breast cancer I can still say I am happy to be ME. I would not change spots with anyone in the world (I mean, I would have preferred NOT to get cancer but I cannot change that so I must accept it). And, I know who I am and also what I aspire to be - someone who is cancer free and able to take care of me in all the variations of me that there are -wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, entrepreneur, educator and blogger/writer. Most of all writer. This is what keeps me going - sharing who I am in the time between.
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