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Thank you all for signing up for Survivor Strong! I am so excited to begin! It is my hope that this group will give you some specific tools that can help you lose some of those stubborn pounds.

I’ve done a lot of research on this topic, and basically what I have learned is that the weight we gain that is associated with hormones (i.e. menopause, hormone-driven breast cancer, pregnancy, etc) can be some of the most difficult weight to lose. However, there is HOPE! Just because it is stubborn, doesn’t mean it is impossible!

Based on my research and own personal journey, I have worked with our dietitian to develop this program. Initially, I will give you a list of “don’ts”, which may feel restrictive. However, it is my hope that as we walk through the next four weeks, you will learn the proper tools and tips that will help change your mindset regarding food. I pray you will feel empowered to make healthy food choices, rather than limited in your options.

Program Details

  • Next, take some initial measurements. Using a tape measure, measure the circumference of your hips (at the widest part), belly (at the level of your belly button), legs (5 inches up from the top of your knee cap) and arms (3 inches up from your elbow). Also, write down your weight. Finally, take a minute to write down how you feel – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Write down WHY you want to lose weight. When cravings hit (which they WILL!) you can go back and read your ‘why’. You might read something like you feel tired and achy all the time, or maybe you are moody. Maybe you have trouble sleeping. Maybe none of your clothes fit the way you want them to. All this will help you resist indulging in those cravings!!
  • Next, take a few BEFORE pics. Save them on your phone somewhere so you can track your progress!
  • Finally, put your scale AWAY for the next 4 weeks! Focus on how you FEEL rather than what the NUMBER is telling you!
  • Over the next 4 weeks, do your best to reduce your intake of gluten, sugar, and dairy from your diet. Research indicates that reducing your intake of these items results in positive health changes and can even help prolong remission (particularly with the dairy!).
  • Something else I’d like to give you the option to try is Intermittent Fasting (IF). As a disclaimer – there is very limited research on a cancer population, so please use your own judgement before trying it out. Intermittent Fasting is basically eating about 8 hours each day and fasting about 16 hours each day (give or take). It gives time for your body to rest and digest food. This is different from the traditional practice of eating small meals every 2 hours. I have been practicing IF for the last year, and have found it to be very easy to implement into my lifestyle. I usually eat breakfast around 10 in the morning, and then eat normal meals/snacks throughout the day, and stop eating after dinner, which is around 5:30 every night. Before trying IF, I had severe swings in blood sugar (I’ve had gestational diabetes 6 times, and am pre-diabetic). With IF, I have never had a single high/low with blood sugar. It is amazing! I have also read research that IF helps strengthen your immune system (if you think about it – you generally eat in smaller windows of the day when you’re sick, which gives your body time to heal itself). Again, research is limited – particularly in a cancer population. However, I know several people who said they were sick all winter long, and I never once was sick. That is even with seven germy (but adorable) children!! So give it a try if you want to see if it works for you, but you are not under any obligation to try it out!
  • Next, please download the My Fitness Pal (MFP) app on your phone and use it to track your calories! Log every single bite you eat! You can play with the settings on MFP to adjust the caloric intake to meet your weight loss goals. You can also enter your activity levels into the app (which I have never really figured out how to do so I typically don’t). With this app, you can see your macro breakdown for each day (Macros are carbs, fats, and proteins), and you can use it to make sure you are getting the right amount of each macro (50% carbs, 20% proteins, 30% fat). This allows for some discretionary calories each day – many people follow the plan IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). If it fits your macros and you want to eat a little treat, then go for it! If you deprive yourself too much, this program will get old real quick. I always keep a little bag of dark chocolate around for when cravings hit. Usually just one piece will help satisfy my craving and it usually fits my macros!
  • If you are stuck for meals, we offer a sample gluten free, dairy free, sugar free sample meal plan you can try! In addition, there are workout plans posted as well.
If you have any questions, please email karen.wonders@mapletreecanceralliance.org! Looking forward to working with you all!

Karen Wonders, Ph.D., FACSM