Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Unspoken Side Effect- Weight Gain After Chemotherapy

Every six months, I visit the Oncologist to go over bloodwork and make sure cancer has not made a reappearance.  And I'm coming up on being a 3 Year Cancer Survivor within the week.  Yay! I'm excited to be healthy, have great bloodwork, and to get another year under my belt.  But...

There has been a notable downside of going through chemotherapy.  Most cancer survivors I read about have the big issue of fatigue for years following treatment.  And I can definitely see that as a problem, but my issue is something different.  For the past year and a half, I've steadily gained weight.  Not a lot at a time, but a pound here and a pound there.  About 10 pounds up, I asked the Oncologist about it.  His response was that it wasn't a big deal, and I had it in all the right places.  Obviously, that did not put my mind to ease, because I could see the difference in the mirror and the way my clothes fit.

Although I didn't have a "workout" routine since starting full-time work a year ago, I did get exercise throughout the day.  In one year's time, I had given 550 tours of the assisted living community, not to mention all the times I walked the building in anticipation of those tours.  I was getting a good 10,000 steps in daily (in high heels!)  In addition, I ate well.  I never drank sodas, I didn't overeat, and I focused on healthy choices (with dessert sometimes).  Yet, the weight continued to creep up.  And to top it off, I noticed that my body composition had changed.  Cellulite? Sagging skin? Low muscle tone?

It's not that I think I
 look bad, but more about
how my old clothes fit me
By the beginning of August this year, I had gained 22 pounds from the date of cancer diagnosis 35 months prior.  And I had no real reason for the gain, as I refused to believe that it's my age to blame, so I started to research (as you know I love to do). Turns out, weight gain after chemotherapy is a thing.  Apparently it's quite common for women to gain weight 1-2 years after cancer treatment, and it's not due to overeating (see study here).  No wonder my Oncologist was so dismissive about the whole thing.

In addition, it's also common that body composition changes after chemotherapy.  Loss of muscle, loss of bone mass, and an irregularity of insulin, causing insulin resistance, are all expected changes.  Why aren't we told these things up front?  Regardless, what's done is done, and I'm on a mission to fix the issues.

There isn't a whole lot of research on HOW chemotherapy changes someone metabolically, but I can tell from my own body that, despite food intake and physical activity, I will have to do more than just "diet" to make a difference. Knowing that the body's insulin is affected by chemotherapy, I'm also guessing that how the body processes Triglycerides and fat retention is also affected.  I really wish there was more research on these effects.

Anyway, around the middle of August, I started a new regime for getting my weight and skin under control. First, I joined Sparkpeople to track my calories during the day, trying to keep around 1200 a day, with one cheat day a week (so my body doesn't think I'm starving).  Daily, I use organic plant protein meal, organic superfoods, and collagen peptides full of amino acids that spark HGH (human growth hormone) in my morning coffee...along with my supplement regime to include Silica now.

Then I use two things about an hour before lunch and dinner; one is Garcinia Cambogia and the other is Glucomannan.  First, the Garcinia Cambogia keeps your insulin low while you eat, preventing your body from retaining fat.  And second, the Glucomannan is a soluble fiber that has digestive enzymes, probiotics, and helps fill your stomach so you don't eat as much.

Then, when I do eat lunch and dinner, I take CLA and L-Luceine.  The CLA aides in fat loss and L-Luceine helps your body retain muscle mass while losing weight.  I have a tendency to forget the ones before meals, but usually remember to take these two fairly religiously.  I also try to get back to reducing carbs, eating more veggies, and taking a break from dessert, although I do have dark chocolate occasionally, so I don't feel deprived. It really just depends on what my calorie count is for the day.

Now, I realize that this regime seems somewhat intense with regard to pills, but apparently that's what I needed to jump start weight loss now that I know I'm fighting a cancer treatment battle.  And this may not be sustainable in the long run.  But the goal is to get the weight off, build the muscle, and maintain a healthy lifestyle....all without being miserable from not eating the things I enjoy.

So now, 19 days in to my new treatment for metabolic homeostasis, I'm 9 pounds down, and there is a very noticeable difference in my skin.  That's 3.32 pounds lost a week, and my skin is starting to look tighter on my face and thighs, and even my hair and nails are looking better.  I'm hoping to continue this routine for another 20 pounds, and I'll be setting myself up for better success in beating cancer long term...as we all know that obesity is linked to higher cancer rates.

We'll see how it all goes, and I'll keep you updated on the progress!

UPDATE 9/5/16: I'm down 12 lbs!!

To read more about weight gain after chemotherapy, just type this into your google search box...
weight gain after chemotherapy treatment pubmed

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