Healthy Living

Lifestyle Changes I Made After My Cancer Diagnosis

I have mentioned in previous posts that I made some big changes to my lifestyle since the cancer diagnosis. I wanted to share these with you because I think they helped me get through my treatments. In the long-term, I hope that these changes will help my body fight off any recurrences of the disease.

I’ve also mentioned before that one of my grandparents must have had the faulty gene. They lived into their nineties and neither ever had to go through cancer. They lived very healthy lives. This is why I think our lifestyles can make a huge difference.

The Key Changes I Made To My Lifestyle

When I look back to the lifestyle changes I made, there were five key things I changed.

1. Regular Exercise

Yoga is part of my exercise regime

Returning readers are likely to know already that I wasn’t doing much exercise before the diagnosis. From November 2018, we both went to Yoga classes at a local yoga studio. But then as, unknown to me, the tumour grew and grew, attending yoga classes became challenging. There were times the bleeding was so heavy, I couldn’t attend because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get through the entire class with one pad. Then, other times, I was in too much pain to attend.

Following the diagnosis and reading about cancer risks and benefits of exercise, I began exercising regularly. I started with walking around the park until I had recovered enough from the surgery to run. We started going to yoga again as soon as I was allowed to.

It was easy to fit in exercise while I was off work during the treatments and then again during the lockdown. It can be harder when working. But remember, little can go a long way and cycling to work and back definitely helps me meet my weekly exercise target.

2. Pigging Out On Fruit And Vegetables

I love fruit and vegetables, but before the diagnosis I hardly ever ate enough. Especially fruit. I wasn’t too bad with vegetables as I would often have salads for lunch. Also, as many you know me personally know, I love cucumber. I can quite easily eat a cucumber a day. Often, I’d combine my cucumber snack with slices of cheese, though, which wasn’t that healthy (although one of the best food pairings in my opinion). Now, I have my cucumber without the accompaniment.

Fruit and vegetables are a part of my lifestyle changes
I love my fruit and vegetables

I’ve also increased my fruit intake. I have berries with my porridge in the morning and take fruit for snacking at work. Sometimes you hear people say you shouldn’t eat too much fruit because they are high in sugar. However, the sugar you get from fruit is very different from added sugars. You don’t have to take my word for it, but can read more in this article from Medical News Today.

3. Ditching Processed And Sugary Foods

I used to eat lots of ready meals. Especially when I lived alone. It was just so easy to pick up a few ready meals and stick them in the microwave. Alternatively, I would eat a lot of pasta with tuna and cheese. Lots of cheese. I love cheese. Mild cheddar is my favourite. Which is why I rarely buy it now. Instead, we buy stronger cheeses that I don’t enjoy snacking on because cheese is calorie-dense food.

Now we rarely buy ready meals. Pasta is still a regular on the menu, but with less cheese and more varied combinations. We also eat less processed meats. Processed meats include bacon, sausages, hot dogs, salami, corned beef, beef jerky and ham. In fact, I don’t eat them at all anymore, although I miss having ham on my pizza and bangers and mash.

It helps that I have discovered that I’m actually quite good in the kitchen and quite enjoy it, too. I like trying out new recipes and have even tried out my own combinations. Some have been more successful than others.

I combined some of my favourite recipes into an article I wrote for a food writing challenge.

4. Sleep More

Dave loves his sleep (I miss looking after him)

The recommendation for adults is 7-8 hours per night. I rarely got anything like that before the diagnosis. I’d stay up too late watching TV and wake up in the morning feeling groggy.

Getting enough sleep has many health benefits, which I will go into in a future post. And if sleeping enough is good for the health, then the flip side is that not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to our health. Researchers have found some evidence that links lack of sleep with an increased risk of certain illnesses including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Sleeping more has been one of the key lifestyle changes I, we, have made.Of course there are still times when we don’t sleep enough. But we are doing better. We try to have a regular bedtime, especially during the week. But sometimes we slip. Like when watching the first episode of this year’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.

5. Practising An Attitude of Gratitude

I start each day with a positive thought and end it with saying thanks for all that I can be grateful for. I used to find it a bit corny when people talked about positive affirmations, but the power of the mind is an amazing thing.

There is growing evidence of how practising gratefulness benefits all areas of our lives, including our emotions, personality, social and work-life and physical wellbeing.

I’m trying to get Justin to be more consciously grateful, too. I ordered us both little notebooks where we can record things we are grateful for. I got the idea from a study conducted by Dr Emmons and Dr McCullough.

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Until next time!

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