In the month of August our walking group met up for a weekly one hour of fresh air and chats walking Conningbrook Lakes. The most repeated topic of discussion was why did I gain so much weight during treatment and why is it so difficult to lose after treatment? The shock of a diagnosis, the disruption of your life, getting through and beyond surgery and radiation, the strain of relationships at home and at work, financial stress, and less physical activity all may contribute to weight gain. During chemo, extra fluids and steroids together with less physical activity and a yearning for sweets all combine to cause weight gain. And like many people, taking a hormonal therapy medication makes you gain weight and makes it nearly impossible to lose weight. This weight gain may be because of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which is controlled by insulin. This is the explanation from Breastcancer.org:
LPL sits on the surface of cells and pulls fat out of the bloodstream and into the cell. If LPL is on a muscle cell, it pulls fat into the cell where it’s used for fuel. If LPL is on a fat cell, it pulls fat into the cell and makes it fatter. It’s important to know that the hormone estrogen suppresses LPL activity on fat cells. This could be one reason why some women gain weight after menopause or after breast cancer treatment that dramatically decreases estrogen. With less estrogen in the body, LPL can pull fat into fat cells and store it there.
Losing weight becomes much harder, but it can still be done with careful diet changes and exercise. There are lots of good reasons to maintain a healthy weight. You’ll feel stronger, have more energy, boost your self-esteem and help to keep recurrence at bay. Because the hormone insulin plays a major role in how the body uses and stores fat, some research suggests that eating foods that keep insulin levels steady throughout the day — lean meat and fish, poultry, vegetables, and fruit rather than foods like sugar, candy, white bread and crackers — can help you maintain a healthy weight. There is no magic bullet or single food that will make you lose weight quickly. Breast Cancer Care suggests it’s important to set a realistic goal. Aim to lose about 0.5–1kg (1–2 pounds) a week through healthy eating and doing regular physical exercise.
A helpful place to find what eating plan perhaps can work best for you, may be the NHS how to diet pages of the healthy choices portion of the website. Lots of tips can be found along with regular email support if you sign on at: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/how-to-diet.aspx