Managing weight fluctuations
What is a healthy weight?
What is your body mass?
A healthy weight is based on your Body Mass Index, or BMI. A normal BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy and associated with a lower risk of developing health problems. A BMI higher than 24.9 (overweight) or 30 (obese) is associated with a higher risk of health problems. Consult the table on the next page to calculate your BMI.
What is your waist circumference?
You can also estimate your health risk by looking at the circumference of your waist. Abdominal obesity is associated with a higher risk of developing various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and certain cancers. The waist circumference for women should be less than 35 inches (88 cm). For men, waist circumference should not exceed 40 inches (102 cm).
Involuntary weight loss
The amount of weight you lose and the speed at which you lose it are very important even if you could do to lose a few pounds at the start.
Significant weight loss over a short time can have dire consequences. Rapid weight loss scan weaken your immune system, slow the healing process, and limit your ability to perform daily activities. Most of the time, patients lose weight because they are eating less than normal. In 15–25% of men with cancer, the loss of appetite or desire to eat is usually present from the time of diagnosis and can lead to treatment side effects.
Unwanted weight gain
Weight gain is a common side effect of prostate cancer. The reason for this weight gain is often linked to hormone therapy and its various factors. Being overweight or obese can have repercussions on your quality of life and can also increase your risk of developing a more aggressive prostate cancer or relapse and decreases your chances of survival.
Tricks to remedy the situation
Tips to prevent unwanted weight loss
- Eat at regular intervals throughout the day (every 2 or 3 hours). Do not wait until you feel hungry.
- Have five or six snacks or small meals each day instead of fewer, larger meals.
- If you are really hungry, eat as much as you can, regardless of the time of the day.
- Avoid beverages during meals, as this can make you feel fuller faster. Drink between meals instead.
- Keep your favorite foods within reach. This may inspire you to eat more.
- Ask your dietitian about liquid or powdered nutritional supplements.
- Let new recipes inspire you and set up the table with nice dishes and cutlery.
- Choose liquids with higher calories and more nutrients. Instead of drinking plain water, coffee, tea or broth, choose dairy or soy beverages, juices, cream soups, smoothies, milkshakes and hot chocolate prepared with milk.
- Choose healthy, high-calorie snacks such as full-fat cheeses, nuts or seeds, nut butters, vegetables or crackers spread with hummus or other dip, granola, milk puddings, dried fruit and Greek-style yogurt.
- Add a few teaspoons of mild-tasting flavored vegetable oil, such as canola oil, to soups, oatmeal, smoothies or milkshakes. Each teaspoon of oil will add 45 calories of healthy fat to your meal. Olive oils, flax seeds or grape seeds are also a good choice, but their taste is more pronounced.
- Take a walk before meals to stimulate your appetite.
Tips to prevent unwanted weight gain
- Eat reasonable portions, but allow yourself to enjoy a wide variety of foods.
- Choose leaner meats.
- Select low-fat dairy products.
- Add less fat to food.
- Use low-fat cooking methods such as broiling, steaming, grilling or roasting.
- Eat when you are hungry and try to reduce eating for other reasons such as boredom, habit or when you are anxious or feeling down. Keeping a food diary may help.
- Find time to be physically active to help balance the extra calories you eat.
- Choose low-calorie foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods also contain fiber, which will help you feel full longer.
- Limit foods that are high in calories and low in nutritional value (processed foods, sweetened beverages) and alcoholic beverages.
Finding the right balance
It is important to keep track of your weight before and after cancer treatment. Weigh yourself every week so that weight loss or gain can be caught early and addressed immediately.
Embracing physical activities
I’m a sports fan but… Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be in a gym, community centre, or as part of an exercise class. Most of the time, the hardest part is getting motivated and actually starting. Need some inspiration?
Benefits of physical activity
Many Quebecers are physically inactive. Studies show that both adults and young people are sedentary for the most of their waking hours. They are not active enough to get the maximum health benefits from physical activity. Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
- helps healthy growth and development
- makes us stronger
- gives us energy
- keeps us independent as we get older
Physical activity is also one of the best ways to get and maintain a healthy weight. Men who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk of a more aggressive prostate cancer.
How to reduce your risk of prostate cancer
Each week, set aside at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) for moderate exercise such as fast walking, biking, or mowing the lawn. Evidence shows that walking 20 minutes a day, the equivalent of 1.6 km, reduces the risk of prostate cancer by 30%. Exercise must be vigorous enough to increase your heart rate without being too demanding.
Tips for staying active
Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to take place in a gym, recreation center, or exercise class. Most of the time, the hardest part is getting motivated and actually starting. Need some inspiration? Here is some expert advice on how to be active each day.
- Take a walk every day during your lunch break. This will increase your energy and concentration for the rest of your day.
- Choose a place to eat that is a 15-minute walk from your office (restaurant, park, riverside, public building, etc.).
- Use phone conversations to move. Get up, walk around, or go on tiptoes for several minutes. You can also hold a book or water bottle, filled with a litre/kilo of water, and do muscle exercises for your wrists and arms.
- Get into the habit of exercising while sitting in front of your computer: abdominal and dorsal contractions, shoulder rotations, stretching, etc.
- Replace your coffee break with stretching breaks. Find exercise ideas by visiting this website.
During your commute
- Don’t give into the temptation of taking your car when you can walk, bike, or rollerblade. It’s easier if you have the right equipment (warm clothes, comfortable shoes, backpack, etc.).
- Did you go too far? Park 15 minutes away from your destination or get off one bus or metro stop early and walk the rest of the way.
- Stay standing on transit: you’ll work out a few muscles and improve your balance.
- Boycott escalators and elevators. Heading to the 30th floor? Take the stairs part of the way.
- If you usually take the same path on foot or by bike, change your route once you’ve gained speed and confidence (continue for a few more blocks, throw in a hill or two, cross a park, etc.).
- Park your car as far as possible from the door. This has the double advantage of taking a walk and always having a spot.
- Carry your shopping bags while lightly flexing your arms and wrists instead of just letting it hang. It’s a great exercise for your biceps!
- If you only buy a few things from the grocery store, use a shopping basket instead of a cart. We bend our arms a little to carry it.
- Avoid takeout or ordering in.
Entering your house
- Increase the time you spend on housework. We use vigorous movement and you walk briskly from room to room. You’ll be more active and be done cleaning in no time!
- Keep your back straight and bend your knees slightly when vacuuming to work your thigh muscles.
- To scrub and scour the floors, bathtub, mirrors, and walls, use circular movements while regularly changing directions and hands to work both arms.
- We change positions a lot when we garden, alternating squatting, on your hands and knees, sitting cross-legged, and Japanese-style (buttocks sitting on your heels, back straight), etc. You can alternate the muscles that are working and those that are flexed.
- Use the time you spend dishwashing to work your calves. Flex your stomach, slightly stretch your core and head without lifting your shoulders and go up on tiptoe. Hold this position for a few seconds, release, and do start again.
- Don’t let things pile up at the top or bottom of the staircase. Instead, have more opportunities to take the stairs: it’s good exercise!
- Get into the habit of doing things yourself. Mow the lawn (not with a lawn tractor), shovel the driveway, rake leaves, tend the garden, stack wood, and wash the car. All of these activities use energy and work our muscles.
- Instead of letting your dog out in the yard, take your dog for a walk at least twice a day.
In your free time
- Take note of what fills up your free time. Ask yourself if you move enough during your free time. If the answer is no, look for an activity is more active: dancing, yoga, swimming, hiking, snowshoeing, etc.
- Use your TV time to your advantage. While watching your shows, you can stretch, weight training, or stationary biking.
- Every day, replace a half hour of television with a more physical activity. Instead of watching television, turn on the radio and do something else at the same time.
To know more… or move more: Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living
Physical activity after your treatment
The type and amount of physical activity that you can do after prostate cancer treatment depend on:
- The type of treatment you receive
- Your overall health and physical condition
Heavy lifting and strenuous exercise should be avoided for several weeks following a radical prostatectomy, in order to allow the body to heal completely. Talk to your doctor or healthcare team before starting or resuming an exercise or physical activity program.
Bones and muscles
As you know, regular exercise can help manage your weight, build muscle mass, keep your bones strong, and reduce your fatigue and anxiety. Physical activity can also help you with the side effects of prostate cancer treatment. Many prostate cancer treatments can have negative effects on your body such as osteoporosis and loss of muscle mass. Both side effects can be improved through strength and aerobic training.
Strength training consists of resistance exercises such as weight lifting, push-ups, pull-ups, etc. These types of exercises can help you increase muscle mass and maintain healthy bones.
Aerobic training consists of cardiovascular exercises such as fast walking, dancing, hiking, swimming, running, bicycling, and tennis. Cardio helps your body burn calories, improves your heart health, and increases your metabolism and blood circulation. Aerobic exercises are also effective at increasing your body’s natural level of antioxidants and eliminating inflammatory molecules that cause cancer.
Combining aerobic and strength training
The best way to optimise health benefits is to use a program that combines both strength and cardio training.
For example, you can walk for 30 minutes every day at a comfortable pace and lift weights three times a week. Be sure to work the different parts of your body and to rest between weightlifting days. You can work on your chest muscles and triceps one day, switch to your back muscles and biceps the next day, and continue with your legs and shoulders on the third day. You should consult a certified professional or physiotherapist to instructions on how to perform the various exercises and maximize the benefits from your workouts.
The key is to keep it enjoyable and interesting by choosing exercises that you like or that you can do with friends. Make sure that your physical training program fits your fitness level and personal situation. Talk to your doctor or medical team before starting any exercise regimen.