As if having breast cancer isn’t bad enough, many women find that they put on unwanted pounds due to the specific treatment they’re on and/or feeling too tired to exercise the way they used to.

I am not a metabolism expert but did some research and found that the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism says women on aromatase inhibitors have a greater percentage of body fat and insulin resistance compared to those with no history of breast cancer. They are also more likely to develop high cholesterol, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, speak to your doctor about it and ask for targeted advice for your situation. What you are going through is tough and they may have recommendations to refer you to a nutritionist. Other women in the breast cancer community also rave about the Live Strong program, which also provides participants with a gym membership.

The emotional side of weight gain

As for how you feel about yourself with that extra weight, I would love to wave a magic wand over you and help you appreciate your body regardless of the numbers on the scale.

When I was first diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, I realized just how precious this bag of skin and bones is to me. I had been quite critical of it until then, finding flaws by comparing myself to others and my own ideal image of myself.

Then, all off a sudden, *poof*, my body was my favorite place to be in the whole universe, and I wanted to stay in it for at least a few more decades.

All of us who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and gone through therapy could look down at our amazing bodies and say to them, “Wow, you’ve dealt with so much. Thank you for coping and getting me this far.”

Not only does kinder self-talk feel better, it could also help us achieve our health goals. According to research by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, being dissatisfied with one’s body leads to poorer health behaviors like binge eating, lower levels of physical activity, and less fruit and vegetable intake. It’s like we’re punishing the poor things for not being the way we want them to be.

On the other hand, people with positive feelings about their bodies were more likely to engage in healthier behaviors.

Simple steps anyone can incorporate include:

  • Starting the morning off with a big glass of water to wake up your insides. I love the visual imagery of water washing over my body!
  • Incorporate movement into your day. Perhaps a stroll after dinner to wind down, or a few quick 10-minute walks throughout the day. I recently started Taxol, which has sapped my energy so much that even a stroll down the block and back feels like a long walk, but the movement makes me feel so much better.
  • Capture your feelings in a journal – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then offer yourself some words of encouragement.
  • Try choosing one day a week where you eat vegetarian or vegan; play around with new recipes.
  • Check out free exercise videos on YouTube, from aerobics to yoga to zumba.

No matter your weight, shape, or size, you matter. You are lovable, loved passionately by the universe, and deserve to be kind to yourself.

I’ll let the poet Mary Oliver take it from here:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.


Do you need kind, compassionate support to bounce back from a negative experience? If so, then get in touch with me now, and let’s make the most of your precious time, energy and love. 


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Kristen Carter

Kristen Carter, Certified coach, author, and breast cancer survivor. More

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