Easy Steps to Tackling Your Nutrition and Fitness After a Cancer Diagnosis

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Easy Steps to Tackling Your Nutrition and Fitness After a Cancer Diagnosis

By: Athan Schindler
Monday, March 14, 2016 - 3:20pm

CAMPAIGN: LIVESTRONG Helping Individuals


Athan Schindler has been a health and wellness expert for over 10 years. He’s an Army Ranger, U.S. Army Master Fitness Trainer, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA), Licensed Master Social Worker, and Owner and Head Coach of Fortitude Fitness – CrossFit 78702 in Austin, TX. His first education in cancer came the hard way in 2005 when his father was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiform (brain cancer). Athan spent several years working as a LIVESTRONG Emotional Support Counselor for people affected by cancer.

We all know that living a healthy lifestyle is hard – even under the best circumstances. There are billion dollar industries that show that people are more than happy to throw some money at this problem in their lives. So, a life-altering event like a cancer diagnosis can feel insurmountable. I’ve got good news for you: It’s not. Not even close. In fact, I’d argue that in some ways, you have a psychological advantage. Taking authority over your nutrition and fitness give you control in a seemingly uncontrollable situation. What better excuse to get healthy than to kick cancer’s butt and let it know that it’s not going to defeat you? Below I outline some steps that are going to get you back on your feet and on the path to being a healthier you.

Get sweaty often.

Let’s keep it simple. The health and wellness industry can be overwhelming – even for those of us who are professionals in the industry. There are gazillions of websites, magazines, and books on the “right way” to get physically fit. Don’t overthink it or get caught in “analysis paralysis”. In all my years as a trainer, I’m 100% sure of one thing. They ALL work as long as you work them. Do something (anything!) everyday that makes you sweaty and that you might even enjoy (GASP!). Check our website to see if there is a LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program near you.

Eat LOTS of naturally occurring foods.

In other words, if it was alive and pretty much in its current state before it got to you, eat it. If not… Don’t! I’ve never seen a nutrition bar grow in the wild. Have you? I want to emphasize the word “LOTS”. If you are increasing your physical activity, you need to eat the number of calories that match that level of activity. In the theme of keeping it easy, download MyFitnessPal, answer their few questions during the set-up and they will tell you exactly how much to eat. Then, just enter in everything that enters your mouth. You’ll quickly know if you’re eating too much or too little. Eating too little is equally as bad as eating too much. I won’t go into the details too far, but how well does your car run without gas, oil, and radiator fluid? Enough said.

Develop a system of structure and support 

That may sound really complex to you but it’s not. There are lots of ways to doing it. Schedule consistent workout times with friends. Sign up for a program. Hire a trainer. Get your significant other to agree to workout and eat healthy with you. Bottom line: most of us don’t mind letting ourselves down but we usually will stick with something if we feel like we’re letting someone else down. This is really important in the beginning. After that, you’ll start seeing results and that will be your motivation to keep going.

Getting started is, without question, the hardest part to getting your health back. So, if you take nothing else away from this article, please just get started. The reason why the fitness and nutrition is so confusing is not because it’s so hard. It’s because people don’t want to believe how easy it is.

  • Take the first step.
  • Get sweaty.
  • Eat enough naturally occurring foods.
  • Stay on a routine.

That’s it. The first step is the hardest. Now, get out there and get started! I’m always available for calls and emails. Contact LIVESTRONG to get my contact info.