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Topic: Losing weight after breast cancer?

Forum: Working on Your Fitness —

Conversations about exercise, diet, and getting back in shape after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Posted on: Apr 2, 2020 09:28AM

Whatjusthappened wrote:

Before breast cancer I was very active and fairly happy with my weight. In the year following my diagnosis I put on about 20 pounds. I have lost weight successfully several times in the past through a calorie deficit and exercise, so I know how to do it. But this time, those pounds don't want to budge!

I know a lot of this is hormonal from the sudden menopause and Arimidex, and I have also had my thyroid medication dosage reduced. I'm also on a couple of other meds that probably don't help.

I am certainly not going to give up since I figure the pounds have to come off eventually. I am logging all my food and getting an hour of exercise almost every day. But it's frustrating to make all that effort and see that scale stay put. Has anybody lost weight after a sluggish start? Is there something else I should be doing?

BRCA2 positive; multifocal LCIS/ILC found after sugery Dx 2/1/2019, LCIS/ILC, Right, 4cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 2/22/2019 Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 4/23/2019 External: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Surgery 6/17/2019 Prophylactic ovary removal Surgery Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Apr 2, 2020 12:49PM Moderators wrote:

Hi WhatJustHappened,

This is a very common issue many have faced after breast cancer treatment -- you're not alone! We're sure others will be by shortly to weigh in with their tips and tricks to jumpstart their weight loss, but in the meantime, we thought it would be helpful to share this page from the main Breastcancer.org site on Eating to Lose Weight After Treatment. Also, our extensive Exercise section may offer some tips for you.

We hope this helps and that you see results soon! Keep us posted with what you're doing.

--The Mods


To send a Private Message to the Mods: community.breastcancer.org/mem...
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Apr 2, 2020 01:06PM SpecialK wrote:

I had never had difficulty losing vanity pounds prior to diagnosis by just stepping up my exercise and watching what I ate - usually following South Beach or Mediterranean eating. A lot of surgery, chemo, and then aromatase inhibitors caused a 25 pound weight gain and all the surgery made exercise difficult. I tried diet/exercise and lost zero pounds doing a 5 mile walk and 1,500 calories of sensible food over six weeks. Very frustrating! My former boss has extensive arthritis in her hands, is medicated for it, but was becoming more and more impacted by the pain. Her husband was searching for solutions and came upon an anti-inflammatory diet, called the Virgin Diet. This is a diet that removes the most common allergy/sensitivity foods for a period of time, then you add them back in one at a time to see if they cause issues. One theory is that inflammation makes weight loss difficult. She did the diet for her hands, didn't really care about the weight loss as that was not her goal, but it totally worked for her pain and she ended up losing 20 lbs. She was surprised to be back at her college weight and could make a fist with no problem. I did the diet and lost 22 lbs over six months with no exercise since I had three back-to-back surgeries during that timeframe with an open wound for most of that. The things eliminated are sugar, gluten, corn, soy, eggs, dairy, and peanuts. Might work out since you can't find a few of those things in the store right now anyway... I found that I felt so much better that I only added eggs back in - and only occasionally, and I have been able to maintain that weight loss if I stay on course, I will gradually gain back even though I am now off aromatase inhibitors if I start eating whatever I feel like - even if it is "everything in moderation" type eating, that just doesn't work for me. I was never hungry as this is less of a portion/calorie control way of eating, but I know that a lot of people are just not willing to eliminate this many things. I have found that there are a lot more gluten free and dairy free products available now, but sugar (in its many forms) and soy are in a lot of things I found that eating food in its whole form was key (much like Whole30), far fewer processed foods for the most part, lots of label reading. Here is a link that helps explain this process. I did get the book, but in retrospect, I could have skipped it. I also got the recipe book and found it worthwhile. Good luck!

http://www.chewfo.com/diets/the-virgin-diet-by-jj-virgin-2012-what-to-eat-and-foods-to-avoid-food-list/

BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 15 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3 Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Apr 2, 2020 03:31PM Whatjusthappened wrote:

Thank you SpecialK for the link. I am going to look into it. My orthopedic doctor also recommended I try an anti-inflammatory diet, since he saw a lot of inflammation in my hips on a recent MRI. Could be a two birds with one stone kind of thing. The only thing that confuses me is that I don't know why certain foods would bother me now, when they didn't in the past. Like you, I had no problem losing weight before. I guess the treatments must change the body's balance and chemistry?

Congratulations on sticking to it! It sounds tough. I'm looking at the list and thinking "What will I eat?" I have already given up most sugar, but I would have an especially hard time giving up dairy and eggs, as they are two big protein sources for me.

BRCA2 positive; multifocal LCIS/ILC found after sugery Dx 2/1/2019, LCIS/ILC, Right, 4cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 2/22/2019 Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 4/23/2019 External: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Surgery 6/17/2019 Prophylactic ovary removal Surgery Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Apr 2, 2020 04:48PM - edited Apr 2, 2020 05:25PM by SpecialK

whatjusthappened - I think that is the universal response to this way of eating - what can I eat? I mostly stuck to lean clean protein like chicken, shrimp, occasional beef, fish, pork. Non-dairy cheeses like almond cheese, almond or coconut milks, almond milk coffee creamer, there are some non-dairy cream cheeses, and goat products are ok in small amounts, so I did use goat cheese and non-dairy Parmesan. Lots of leafy greens, colorful vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and low sugar fruits like berries. I ate gluten free steel cut oats and had shakes made with vegan protein powder, frozen strawberries, and almond milk. I used rice Thai noodles and rice based pastas, made pasta salads and spaghetti with low sugar marinara and turkey spinach meatballs. I cook a lot so that probably made it easier for me to modify recipes, but it did take some experimentation. I baked fish brushed with mustard and garlic, and found that using some sauces that had no offenders was key in making edible meals. I can go through my pantry and list some good stuff if you would like.

I think, at least for me, even if I did not have issues with some foods and had lost weight fairly easily in the past, it may have been an inflammatory process set in place by the chemo and aromatase inhibitors, combined with slowing metabolism due to age. Rather interestingly, I did 23andMe and found that I am likely mildly celiac, revealed through genetics. I had a reflux surgery in 1995 and had issues after that - thought it might be IBS, but just lived with it. This diet corrected a lot of those issues, so who knows?

One thing to keep in mind if you are partial to some foods you have to eliminate is that you can reintroduce them after the initial period of elimination. If they don't bother you then you can continue to eat them. If they do you will know they may be culprits in the struggle to lose.

BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 15 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3 Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Apr 2, 2020 05:50PM Whatjusthappened wrote:

SpecialK, thank you for all the suggestions. My husband did most of the cooking during my surgery and recovery, and he really enjoys it so that's kind of become his thing. I hate to impose more restrictions on him than I have already 😉But I'm home during this quarantine, so maybe it's a good time to do some experimenting.

I do drink smoothies very often for lunch. What kind of vegan protein powder are you using? I bought some and I couldn't get it down, so I went back to using whey-based powder.

BRCA2 positive; multifocal LCIS/ILC found after sugery Dx 2/1/2019, LCIS/ILC, Right, 4cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 2/22/2019 Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 4/23/2019 External: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Surgery 6/17/2019 Prophylactic ovary removal Surgery Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Apr 2, 2020 09:34PM SpecialK wrote:

I tried two vegan protein powders, Vega and PlantFusion. They tasted roughly the same (I used the vanilla flavor) but after a while the Vega seemed to make me nauseous. So I stuck with the PlantFusion, but don’t use the full two scoops it says to on the instructions, I just use one. I am not shy with the frozen strawberries, and drink it with a straw. I also find if I make it pretty thick, then let it sit for a while - either in the blender or the cup, it seems smoother and more palatable. I have a pretty strong blender so that helps too. The chocolate flavor is ok with the addition of frozencherries, for a chocolate cherry shake, or almond butter for a “peanut butter” chocolate flavored shake. You could also use almond butter powder. I like Barney’s Almond Butter because the texture is great - not grainy, it is just like regular peanut butter.

BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 15 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3 Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Apr 3, 2020 01:58PM Whatjusthappened wrote:

Thanks SpecialK, I'll look into those. I have Garden of Life organic vanilla vegan powder, and it tastes like play-doh. I have found no concoction that makes it palatable.

BRCA2 positive; multifocal LCIS/ILC found after sugery Dx 2/1/2019, LCIS/ILC, Right, 4cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 2/22/2019 Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 4/23/2019 External: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Surgery 6/17/2019 Prophylactic ovary removal Surgery Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Apr 3, 2020 02:09PM SpecialK wrote:

whatjusthappened - I know that Whole Foods used to offer small packets of the vegan protein powder, might be worth looking into - its terrible to buy the giant tub and then hate it, right? I just looked at Amazon, and a couple of other sources online, and you can buy the packets but they come in a bundle. Not helpful if you don't end up liking it. I believe that in the store at Whole Foods - if you have one locally - they sell the packets individually.

BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 15 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3 Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Apr 7, 2020 10:30AM LinnyG wrote:

I was diagnosed August 2018, SMX Sept 2018, exchange/recon Dec. 2018 - at age of 70. On anastrozole since 11/1/18. I've always been 'fluffy' but very active - gym workouts, swimming and cycling. Pretty much tried all the ways to lose - you name it, I tried it. After surgeries and relative inactivity, got a bit fluffier. Started intermittent fasting around May 2019 and increasing workout and swimming time. I have slowly but consistently lost and am now down 27 pounds. My onc gave her blessing. For me, it's totally sustainable. My goal is 8 more lbs. but if I stay where I am now, I'm fine with that. If you want to try it, research it and run it by your onc. The struggle is real!


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Apr 8, 2020 10:17AM Whatjusthappened wrote:

LinnyG, congratulations on the weight loss. I'm curious, what do you mean by intermittent fasting? Do you not eat all for a period of time? How long?

Since my original post, I have finally lost a pound. It's not a lot, but it's something. I've been exercising a lot and am hoping that part of the problem with losing weight is that I'm gaining back some muscle mass that I lost during my period of inactivity.

BRCA2 positive; multifocal LCIS/ILC found after sugery Dx 2/1/2019, LCIS/ILC, Right, 4cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 2/22/2019 Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 4/23/2019 External: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Surgery 6/17/2019 Prophylactic ovary removal Surgery Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole)

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