Saturday, April 20, 2013

Guest Post: Fighting Cancer with Fitness

One of my biggest pet peeves about myself is how I tend to let life get in the way of my living - does that make sense?  Anyway, I am very excited to introduce my first guest blog post, "Fighting Cancer with Fitness"  by Milady. Melanie, also known as Milady, is "an advocate for natural health and cancer patients, so you will often find [her] highlighting the great benefits of different nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments that can significantly help those going through a time of illness."  I hope you'll enjoy the article, as it provides a different perspective to fitness.

Fighting Cancer with Fitness

For healthy individuals, regular exercise provides a means for keeping fit and relieving stress. While these same benefits apply to someone suffering from mesothelioma, there are additional challenges and difficulties when undertaking any exercise program.

Types of Exercise:
Aerobic exercise refers to anything that boosts cardiovascular function through increased blood flow and oxygen uptake. Cancer patients can benefit from aerobic exercise that is not too strenuous on the heart or lungs but improves overall function. Flexibility training involves stretching activities that promote muscle and joint movement. Resistance training strengthens the muscles while aiding in muscular endurance.

Limitations of Exercise:
Activities that cause rapid spikes in heart rate, such as running, basketball, tennis, or certain types of resistance training, may be contraindicated for some patients. However, most physicians will recommend that their patients pursue a healthier lifestyle through light to moderate exercise. It is essential, though, to obtain a physicians approval before embarking on any fitness regimen.

Benefits of Exercise:
Fitness activities, including walking, water aerobics, yoga, biking and light resistance training, can illicit great benefits for overall cardiovascular function, functional muscle maintenance and flexibility. Yoga is especially helpful for enhancing breathing ability and aligning posture while increasing range of motion.

There will be times when patients feel fatigued and they are physically limited. Engaging in even light exercises, such as stretching and flexibility training, can reduce unpleasant effects of bed rest, including bedsores and joint stiffness.

Loss of appetite is common among those undergoing chemotherapy. Exercise boosts the metabolism and can help to stimulate the appetite due to increased energy expenditure and caloric demands.

In addition to the physical benefits, exercise boasts a plethora of emotional advantages as well. Exercise can improve the appearance, which thus leads to a higher self-image. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety while simultaneously releasing endorphins that actually serve as mood enhancers.

Environment of Exercise:
It is critical that the patient feels comfortable not only with the exercise routine but also with the exercise environment. For those who are just beginning, exercising at home may be the best starting place. A gym, health club, or park can also provide a safe venue. Working with a personal trainer may be helpful for both motivation and assistance as long as the trainer is certified and familiar with routines specific to cancer patients.

Starting an exercise routine can aid the body in responding to cancer treatments and greatly enhance overall sense of well-being. Talk to your doctor today and get moving!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tipping the scales in my favor...

I have a confession.  I am obsessed with the bathroom scales. It's strange, but regardless of what number shows up, I LOVE weighing myself. I have absolutely no idea why. Perhaps it fills the void as some sort of mutated superstitious ritual, the sort of ritual I thrived on while playing softball in high school. Instead of bringing victory to the team, the scales dance is a victory against the weight. At least when the number drops from the previous day or week, anyway.

Calling it a "scales dance" is not far from the truth. I wake up, go to the bathroom, and place the scales in the spot in the room where I seem to weigh the least. The laws of physics are apparently fluid in the bathroom; sometimes I weigh three-tenths of a pound less if I slide the scales to the left along the floor about four inches. I have slid the scales around the linoleum a few times before realizing that I have reached the lowest number I will reach. Since our scales typically display lower numbers, I always weigh myself at least three times. Or until I see the same weight three times - whichever occurs first.

Some days I am pleasantly surprised to step on and not see an increase. I am elated when I see a loss even if it is less than half a pound. Of course, some days I step on and scratch my head, wondering why I gained so much in such a short period of time (most weight loss resource materials tell me that there is a one to two pound variation in weight day-to-day). I'd be lying if I said it never gets to me but I try to keep numbers in perspective.

Therefore I utilize body measurements when the scales are holding steadfast and denying me a sense of progress. It is extremely gratifying when I see the inches dwindle off my waistline (Fredo is not completely gone yet). Finding moments of self-satisfaction contribute to building and maintaining stamina throughout the weight loss journey.

On a side note, I am extremely excited to announce that my FIRST guest post will be up in the next day or two....I'm so excited!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Menu Planning...for next year

When the wind is whipping through your jacket and pants, chilling your hands and making you curse your climate, it can be difficult to imagine gardening. But when it's necessary for survival, you think about it daily during the dark days of winter - especially when the most recent harvest is fully depleted.

In preparation for this year, my mother and I have hoarded seeds like house-bound field mice in late autumn.  While shopping the Macy's of Maine, Marden's, we discovered packets of seeds for a quarter apiece. We loaded up on marigolds, beets, and I picked up some peppers. In fact, I picked up a lot of peppers this year - green peppers, carnival hybrid sweet peppers (literally a rainbow of peppers!), banana peppers, Big Jim Chili peppers, and pepperoncini. What inspired this pepperpalooza? I'm hooked on snacking on miniature sweet peppers...which none of these varieties are, but I am determined to make good use of whatever I can grow. Ma, on the other hand, chose to clean out Galusha's stock of shell beans since they are usually the only ones to carry that variety.

Today, we enjoyed the fun and exciting phase of Seeding. Ma pulled out her small plastic tubs, filled them with starter soil, strongly discouraged the cat from treating them as litter boxes as she ran upstairs to retrieve a knitting needle, and gave the soil a nice healthy drink before violating it with said knitting needle. My responsibilities included handing over seeds and plant markers inscribed with the intended crop.  After another soil drenching, Ma moved the temporary seed homes to the large basement window sills, again instructing the cat to leave them alone. Fingers crossed they will survive both the cat, and my inability to remember such tasks as, say, watering.