Chemo therapy can weaken your muscles, joints, and bones so much that even the simplest of daily activities can become difficult or impossible.
Your doctors will advise you to take it easy, but if you’re anything like me, that isn’t really in your nature! So here’s my approach to getting back into shape after cancer treatments have left me feeling like I’m 90 years old.
This after chemo plan helped me lose weight and regain energy and control over my body again—it can work for you too!
Set Realistic Goals
When you’re going through chemo, it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself. It may be that you don’t feel like doing anything other than staying in bed, or maybe you have the energy for some small projects.
Whatever your situation is, make sure that whatever goal you set for yourself is something that will keep your mind off of treatment and allow you to take care of yourself.
Find a Training Buddy
Finding a training buddy can be a great way to keep yourself accountable for your workouts. Plus, with the added motivation of someone else, you’re more likely to push yourself harder and stay committed.
All you have to do is find someone who’s going through the same thing you are, or who has gone through it before.
It’s nice to work out with someone who understands what you’re going through, but don’t worry if that doesn’t seem possible.
If you can’t find an existing buddy, join a local group that trains together like your favorite charity team, or ask at one of the local gyms where they may have memberships specifically designed for cancer patients.
Start with Cardio After Chemo
Cardiovascular exercise is the best way to get your heart rate up and keep it there for a sustained period of time.
Walking, jogging, biking and swimming are all great options that work different parts of your body.
Just do what feels good for you! The key is consistency and sticking with it.
Incorporate Weights After Chemo
It is important to maintain strength and muscle mass during chemotherapy treatment and recovery. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of light aerobic activity three days a week, and two days a week of resistance training with at least five exercises.
Start by choosing five lifts, such as bicep curls, lunges, crunches, push-ups, and squats. Perform each one 10 times and then repeat all five in order.
As your fitness level improves, gradually add weight or more repetitions until you are able to complete 20 reps of each exercise comfortably.
Give Yourself Time to Heal After Chemo
It’s important to give yourself time to heal after chemo. Take care of your body and mind by doing things that are good for you, such as exercising or taking a yoga class.
Sleep is also an important factor in recovery, so be sure that you’re getting enough rest.
And don’t forget about the importance of family and friends—it can be tough going through this alone, so surround yourself with those who love you.
Exercise has been shown to improve mood and help manage pain, so take some time for self-care even when you might not feel like it.
Eat a Healthy After Chemo Diet
After chemotherapy, it is important to eat a healthy diet. There is no one perfect diet for everyone; however, a general guideline is to eat more fruits and vegetables. Eating a healthy diet may include the following:
Eating 5-6 small meals per day with snacks in between
Avoiding processed food, sugar, soda and alcohol
Eating lean protein such as chicken or fish at every meal
Eating low glycemic carbohydrates like oatmeal or whole wheat breads and pasta.
Get Plenty of Rest After Chemo
It’s hard to imagine getting back into a normal routine after chemo, but it will happen. One of the best ways you can recover is by getting plenty of rest.
Take naps, sleep in as much as possible, and make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard. If your symptoms are severe or are starting to interfere with your quality of life, talk to your doctor about medications that may help you feel better.