GET­TING HEALTHY AF­TER CANCER

How to make changes to a health­ier life style

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Prof. El­iz­a­beth Eakin

It is es­ti­mated that in Aus­tralia there are cur­rently over 900,000 peo­ple liv­ing with and be­yond cancer. Once treat­ment has fin­ished many strug­gle with a range of side-ef­fects, such as fa­tigue as well as ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fear about the cancer re­turn­ing. Most want to do all that they can to im­prove their health over the longer-term. En­gag­ing in reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, eat­ing a healthy diet and main­tain­ing a healthy body weight can help. Re­mem­ber

to check with your Gen­eral Prac­ti­tioner be­fore com­menc­ing any health and fit­ness pro­gram.

Like a lot of Aus­tralians, cancer sur­vivors can find it dif­fi­cult to make life­style changes. They may have ex­pe­ri­enced long pe­ri­ods of time where they found it hard to do any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity at all and eat­ing healthy foods may have been a chal­lenge. They may also have gained weight due to the treat­ments they had to un­dergo. This can re­sult in un­cer­tainty as to how to go about mak­ing healthy life­style changes.

HOW TO START YOUR LIFE STYLE CHANGES:

The first thing to do is to think about your main rea­sons for mak­ing healthy life­style changes.

• maybe you want to have more en­ergy to play with your kids or grand­kids

• per­haps you want to feel more in con­trol of your health,

• and to feel less anx­ious about your cancer com­ing back.

You might want to write down your rea­sons and save them. If, down the track, you find your­self los­ing mo­ti­va­tion (which is ab­so­lutely nor­mal – none of us are per­fect!), look back at your rea­sons and re­mind your­self of why you de­cided to make these healthy life­style changes in the first place. You might find that this gives you the push you need to get back on track.

An­other help­ful tip is to set your­self small, achiev­able goals that you can work to­wards. Try to make sure that these goals are SMART (spe­cific, mea­sur­able, achiev­able and re­al­is­tic) for you and in­volve details about time. For ex­am­ple, if you would like to be more phys­i­cally ac­tive you could set your­self the fol­low­ing goal: ‘I will walk for 30 min­utes on Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Fri­day af­ter­noon af­ter work, start­ing from Mon­day next week and con­tin­u­ing through­out the whole month’. It’s good to keep track of your progress and at the end of the month re­ward your­self, per­haps with a new pair of walk­ing shoes, a trip to the movies, or a copy of your favourite magazine. Once you’ve met your goal, set a new one – you’ll be sur­prised what you can achieve!

WHAT TO AIM FOR:

Rec­om­men­da­tions for cancer sur­vivors are no dif­fer­ent to those for the gen­eral Aus­tralian public:

• Be as phys­i­cally ac­tive as pos­si­ble, aim­ing for at least 30 min­utes of ac­tiv­ity on 5 or more days per week

THINK & WRITE DOWN YOUR REA­SONS, SET & CARRY OUT SMART GOALS, THEN RE­WARD YOUR­SELF

• Eat a healthy, low sat­u­rated fat diet, aim­ing for 5 serves of veg­eta­bles and 2 serves of fruit each day

• Main­tain a healthy body weight

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you feel like you would ben­e­fit from some ex­tra sup­port to make healthy life­style changes you can sign-up for Healthy Liv­ing af­ter Cancer. It’s a free health coach­ing pro­gram for cancer sur­vivors run by Cancer Coun­cil and avail­able to res­i­dents of New South Wales, Vic­to­ria, South Aus­tralia, the ACT, Tas­ma­nia, Western Aus­tralia and the North­ern Ter­ri­tory. It’s open to those di­ag­nosed with any type of cancer who have com­pleted treat­ment and al­lows you to re­ceive up to 12 health coach­ing calls over a pe­riod of 6 months from a Cancer Coun­cil nurse or health con­sul­tant. If you are in­ter­ested in find­ing out more about the pro­gram or would like to sign-up to take part, please phone Cancer Coun­cil on

13 11 20 and ask about the Healthy Liv­ing af­ter Cancer pro­gram.

Pro­fes­sor El­iz­a­beth Eakin is a be­havioural scientist at the Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land in Bris­bane. Her work fo­cuses on in­ter­ven­tions to pro­mote healthy life­styles among cancer sur­vivors. You can find out more about her work here.

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