As a healthy lifestyle coach and a breast cancer survivor, if I could give you only one thing to focus on that would improve your mood, strengthen your body, build your confidence, reduce your disease risk, support the maintenance of a health weight, reduce stress and even help you to sleep better...this show is all about that one thing.
If you think that sounds too good to be true...trust me, it isn't. Follow the advice in this show consistently for three months, you'll be writing to me telling me how it blew your mind and changed your life.
You already know what this step is, but you're probably not doing it, or at least not as often as you need to be.
So put on some headphones, get up and walk around while you give this a listen so you implement the action right now!
Read Full Transcript Below:
The one thing you must do to heal your body and mind
Hello and welcome to episode 70 of the breast cancer recovery coach I am super excited to be here with you today because we’re gonna talk about one of my favorite things.
What would you do if I told you that I had something that would not only reduce your risk of all causes of breast cancer but it would also reduce your risk of dying from breast cancer, it would decrease pain from any kind of osteoarthritis and improve the functioning of your body and the quality-of-your life?
This same thin will reduce your blood pressure and any progression or risk of cardiovascular disease, it would reduce your risk of dementia, improve your cognitive function, improve your sleep, reduce the risk and the severity of anxiety and depression, support weight loss, give you more energy and make you stronger?
Would you want that? What would you pay for it if it was in a pill form?
What would you be willing to sacrifice to get that thing?
Would you be willing to give up 20 to 30 minutes a day?
You know when we go through breast cancer we are so powerless over so many things. I think quite frankly that’s part of the trauma that we have to recover from when we get to the other side of treatment. A lot of times we struggle with this feeling like we’re at the mercy of whatever catastrophe the universe wants to drop on us.
And although that’s not entirely untrue there are things we do have the power to control and if we take control over those we do feel stronger, and happier, more confident and more secure. And that helps us let go of a lot of the fear, the worry and the anxiety that comes from surviving breast cancer.
What We’re going to talk about today is that thing. It’s the thing that you have 100% control over you can do this, you never have to leave your home, you can if you want to but you don’t have to. You have the ability to use this tool, to take control of your health, reduce your risk of all different types of diseases and to actually live longer.
All you have to do is move your body for 20 to 30 minutes a day.
Before you shut this off and reach for a different podcast give me a minute.
I know you’ve already heard this, I know you’ve heard how beneficial exercise is, but here we are at the beginning of a new year, the time when health goals are top of mind for many people so I want to set the record straight when it comes to exercise. Because if you listen to this podcast regularly, you know I’m a huge fan of exercise and I want you to become a fan too because.
in the words of Dr. Robert Nagorny from his interview on episode 69... exercise is actually a therapy.
It’s really important that we stop thinking of moving our body has some drudgery that has to be done at some expensive, trendy gym, with a trainer standing over you yelling to keep pushing until you’re ready to fall over unconscious on the floor.
That’s just ridiculous and I hate the people portray exercise like that because I know how much it can benefit you. That it can be fun, and social and I think we need to change her mind about exercise as a society so that we find the fun in it and we reap the benefits from it and we engage and connect with each other socially as a result of it.
One of the first myths that I think leads to the frustration around exercise is that you exercise to lose weight. This is a false expectation that leads to people making a commitment to an exercise program for X amount of time and when they don’t lose any weight, or not enough weight in that time they stop exercising.
Now it’s very true that exercise and building lean body mass supports weight loss if you are eating a nutritious diet and your hormones are in check and all of the other things that come into account when you’re trying to lose weight but exercise alone is not an effective weight-loss strategy.
That’s why anyone in the fitness world will tell you that abs are made in the kitchen , not in the gym.
Moving your body, getting physically active on a regular basis is imperative to feeling good and supporting good health.
Now that you as a survivor depending on what treatment you’ve been through, may live with a certain amount of pain. You may have lymphedema, so did I.
You may have nerve damage in your hands and feet, so do I.
You may experience cording in your arm and tightness across your chest, so do I.
These are not excuses to start moving your body these are reasons why moving your body is not optional.
Our bodies are these amazing creations they truly are the physical human body is absolutely fantastic...it can heal itself, it can adapt and transform according to its environment, and training and it’s designed to survive on as little energy as possible.
Which means your your body likes to be a little bit lazy. It likes to conserve energy and to stay put and be cozy and comfy and that’s cool I like to be cozy and comfy too. But if you stay in that place too long, your body does away with all of the things that use up extra energy like muscles and bones well they don’t do away with your bones and muscles, because that would turn you into a jellyfish, but your body won’t keep them up in the sense of building them maintaining your strength and endurance. Your muscles will shrink, and you’ll lose bone density.
Now the majority of them are 40 or over, according to the Susan g. Komen foundation, fewer than 5% of women under 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer which is one of the many reasons why being a young survivor is such a unique experience.
The point is that sarcopenia, or the loss of lean body mass begins at age 30. After that we go on to lose an additional 3 to 5 % of our lean body mas each successive decade. So by the time you’re 50, if you have not been doing regular weight bearing exercise, you have potentially 15% less lean body mass than you did when you were 30! That’s a staggering amount of muscle and bone loss. That’s one of the reasons that it’s more difficult to lose weight as you age, in addition to shifts in hormones. Your body just isn’t using as much energy because it doesn’t have as much lean mass to maintain unless you’re exercising regularly to maintain that glorious muscle mass that keeps you skin looking smooth and tight and keeps you functioning independently as long as possible.
When you start losing that lean body mass, you start noticing a change in the way your skin looks...especially under your arms, like your skin is too big for you now and you get what some of my friends like to call angel wings which I think is way too nice of a term for it or you take hold of your forearm or your bicep and it feels like jelly...that’s a big indicator that you need to get some muscles going. And not because it looks better but because if you’re becoming frail and if you’re over 50...frailty is not a road you want to go down.
As a survivor, when you were going through treatment you may have experienced cachexia which is a wasting of usually lean body mass like muscle that can also include body fat and it happens when we’re very ill with something like cancer or HIV your kidney disease or just a part failure all the stuff we don’t want to have.
But when you come out living on the other side you can rebuild this you can regain muscle mass you can increase bone density. And if you don’t make a focused and concerted effort to do that after cancer treatment you open yourself up to a whole plethora of complications and future increased risk of disease and I don’t want that for you!
I want thriving, energetic happiness for you. I want to see you enjoying life in whatever way that is for you if it’s climbing mountains, walking around the park, dancing, painting or playing with your kids or your grandkids.
I want you to have the energy and the clear thinking and the strength of your body to be able to enjoy those things and one of the most effective ways to do that is by getting regular exercise.
The second module In my online course REVIVIFY, is called RENEW and the focus is on renewing your body after breast cancer treatment. As I was creating the lessons in that module, of course I had to address the importance of exercise.
However, I was concerned that my ladies wouldn’t perceive the value of that lesson I didn’t want their eyes to glaze over because they think of exercise as a run-of-the-mill everybody says that blah blah blah, and they would just move onto the next lesson.
But I know that exercise is not an optional. I’m a personal trainer and a healthy lifestyle coach for god sake. I know if you want to feel better you have to move.
So I had to find a way to make that lesson fun and different to help my students shift the perception of exercise and want to do it.
Without that lesson I would being doing a disservice to my ladies because physical activity is not only important for all the reasons I just talked about but it’s essential for your mental and emotional health as well
I’ll share a little story with you.
The other day I was having some new technology installed on my computer and I was really excited about it because it was going to make my podcast easier to produce and edit but it just was not working. The implementation was just not going well, the performance that I had been expecting was not there...and I may or may not have mentioned this before but I have no patients with things like that...and I mean zero. I like to get in get done and move on.
So I was extremely frustrated because what was supposed to be a quick installation to make my life easier was making everything more difficult and taking
So in my frustration, as I was waiting for another reinstall to complete but I posted something on Facebook about having a bad day.
I asked people if a bad day was a real thing or just a mind set thing. And if it’s a mindset thing what do you do to get yourself out of that mindset when you find yourself having a bad day?
And not surprising to me everyone who answered and told me what they did to get out of that mindset had some form of physical movement in their solution.
They went for a walk, a swim, or a run, they did some kind of breathing exercise or took a hot bath but it all had something to do with physically moving their body. Isn’t that interesting?
Frustration is in the mind. You have an expectation that doesn’t get met and that upsets you emotionally.
That experience is all thought base yet moving your body, for the majority of people, relieves the tension from that mental and emotional block.
Your body and your mind are so interconnected that when you’re feeling fearful, angry, frustrated or sad if you move your body, your emotions will shift.
Rachel Hollis, an author and motivational speaker that I absolutely love... literally preaches this “move your body to change your mind.” And she is so spot on.
Let me give you a little scientific insight about mental wellness and exercise
In a 2018 article in psychology today titled “how your mental health reaps the benefits of exercise” the author Sarah Gingell PhD, tells us that
“exercise is not only necessary for the maintenance of good mental health, but it can be used to treat even chronic mental illness. For example, it is now clear that exercise reduces the likelihood of depression and also maintains mental health as we age.
She goes on to say that exercise appears to be as good as existing pharmacological interventions across the range of conditions such as mild to moderate depression dementia anxiety and it even reduces cognitive issues in schizophrenia that is some pretty amazing stuff you guys.
And this is her article is so good that I want to just read the whole thing to you. But Instead, I’ll post the link in the episode show notes. So please check it out at LauraLummer.com/70
So lets look at how exercise has such an incredible impact on mental health.
A study done by Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University and the Division of Psychology and Mental Health at the University of Manchester in the UK tells us that the average brain shrinks approximately 5% per decade after the age of 40 that sounds familiar doesn’t it?
This study looked at 14 different clinical trials and in those clinical trials the brains of 737 men and women were scanned before and after aerobic exercise programs
These men and women ranged from healthy adults to people that had mild cognitive impairment people and those who had clinical mental diagnosis including depression and schizophrenia
And what they found is actually contrary to the title of the study because they didn’t find that exercise actually caused the brain to grow, instead they found that when you exercise, a chemical that your brain produces, called brain derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF actually reduces the deterioration of the brain. So just like your lean body mass shrinks with age so does your brain. But, exercise can prevent or slow that shrinkage...pretty cool right!?
Equally as impressive are the results of studies that compare exercise to pharmaceutical interventions. They’re basically looking at exercise vs drugs and which one supports mental health the most.
One of these studies conducted by Duke University psychologist James Blumenthal and some of his colleagues looked at exercise compared to sertraline which is a drug used to combat depression you may have heard of it as Zoloft.
They took 156 people who had been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder and put them into three groups those who exercised, those who took the drug and those who did both. The exercise only group walked, bike or jogging for 30 minutes three times a week.
What they found was that exercise was equally as effective in combating depression as the drug but here is the really cool part..
Out of the 156 men and women in the study 83 of them were declared free of depression at the end of the 4 month study.
But six months later only 8% of those people who were in the exercise only group had relapsed with their depression compared to 38% of the medication only group.
And it gets even better because for those study participants that continued to exercise after the study they had 50% reduced chance of relapsing into depression as those people who did not exercise at all.
So we have to get past pooh-poohing exercise as a run of the mill recommendation.
No more saying I know, I know I should be...let’s move on to yes, i need to do that, let’s create a strategy to work it into your life in a way you enjoy.
I focused this information on talking about depression because depression is a common side effect of surviving breast cancer.
I call surviving, the unspoken phase of breast cancer.
Recovery is the time when we don’t know what to do, we feel without unsupported and all of the stuff we just went through starts to settle in.
We begin to process what that insane experience actually felt like and how much it changed us and our perspective of life.
I want to read you a quote from an article published on the cancer support network called “escape from fear: life after treatment. In this article the author compares treatment to being in prison and she tells the story of her transition back to life.
It was hard to say the word out loud to my friend. She wanted to know. It came out through a whisper and tears. As I said it, it felt like a million little knives were stabbing me. Trauma. I think that’s what I went through. I couldn’t see it when I was there. I was too busy trying to get better, to stay alive, to get out.
It is hard to face and admit that word, and allow those experiences to be faced. I don’t want to seem ungrateful or complaining. Here I am alive! Living! I am happy I got out. But yet I struggle.
That’s heavy and i t’s real. But it's also your turn to take back your power and to have some control over processing that trauma. It may seem too simple but trust me, exercise plays a powerful role in recovery.
When I finished treatment I was excited to get back to exercising and I remember going into the gym and feeling so frustrated and disheartened because my arm would swell, and my hand would look like a blown op latex glove.
I had lost my grip strength and the nerve damage in my hands made it impossible to hold onto the dumbbells long enough to actually work out.
I tell you this because I don’t want you to frustrate yourself and give up. I want you to manage your expectations and take things slowly and carefully.
Be honest about what you can’t do and find what you can do. I was not able to start off with strength training so i started to improve my grip strength by using the TRX which is a suspension trainer. I’ll post a link to my YouTube channel where you can see what it is and several exercises I’ve posted that you can start off with. I also got acupuncture on my hands and arms which helped a lot with the numbness.
It’s important to be patient with yourself and listen to your body so you don’t get injured or so sore that you don’t want to move again for a week.
Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you have mild joint pain or because you’re tired or because your hands hurt that you should not exercise or that you can’t exercise as I said earlier, this is why you must exercise.
Push yourself because exercise will actually make those conditions better
If you want to do resistance training, which you absolutely should...check out the Cancer Exercise Training Institute for reliable resources and certified trainers.
Another excellent resource is Exercise is Medicine.com as well as your health care provider. Almost all major insurances and hospitals now have wellness programs that include physical activity groups or support.
My insurance carrier has extensive wellness benefits as does Kaiser Permanente.
Even if you don’t have insurance, with a little googling you can find excellent resources blogs and videos online.
So let’s talk about how exercise is recommended and a couple of tips to get you going because I want you to be motivated by this information and take action...like today!!
The recommended amount of exercise is either 150 minutes of moderate exercise. Now, my moderate will be different than your moderate based on our levels of fitness so on a scale of 1-20, moderate exercise will feel like an 11-14. These are things like brisk walking, dancing, tennis, slow bicycling..not cruising though
If you want to exercise vigorously and get this done faster, you can do vigorous exercise for 75 minutes a week. Vigorous exercise is going to feel like a 17 to 19 on a scale of 1-20. These are things like strenuous hiking, race walking, jogging, swimming laps, or jump roping.
In addition to this, it’s recommended to do 2 days of full body strength training. You can use actual weights for this or you can use exercise bands or straps, a device like the TRX where your body supplies the weight or any other body weight exercises. There are lots of options here so be creative and have fun but build some muscles!
And please in the name of all that’s holy...unless you actually are physically limited or ill to the point where you can't stand..don’t do chair exercises.
The point of training your body is to preserve your strength and balance and to get you to sit less.
Does that make it harder, yes! And that’s the point it's called the principle of overload. You push your body to do a little more than feels comfortable to help it get in better condition.
Set up a system and cues to support you taking the time to make this happen. Actually sit down and plan where and when you are going to exercise and put your tennis shoes and Wo clothes on the bathroom counter, in your car, or by the door...whatever is going to trigger you to use them.
Make a point of sitting less. Can you stand at your desk, can you make an agreement with yourself that you only sit during certain times of the day. It’s like intermittent fasting we’ll call it intermittent sitting.
When you start walking toward that couch catch yourself and say nope this is not my sitting window of time so i better find something to keep me moving, guess you’ll have to walk around the block again or stand there and do squats while you stare longingly at the cozy spot you’ll cuddle in when you’re sitting time is upon you!
Well I could talk about this all day because I love this topic and I want to come up with every motivational tip i can think of to get you moving!
But, I have to wrap this up so I would like to know what your challenges I was starting a regular exercise routine I really would love to help you move forward with moving your body on a regular basis and finding a joyful wait till onto Facebook and find the breast Cancer recovery group
join the group and we can have a discussion about questions or concerns and we can support each other in recovering from breast cancer treatment and strengthening your body and moving forward with thriving lives.
You can also go to my website LauraLummer.com where you can download my free guide CARE 4 steps to healing after breast cancer.
This is a guide with four foundational steps to wellness both mentally and physically and one of those steps...the E in care is for Exercise and you’ll get some information and resources to support you in getting started with having fun moving your body!!