Monthly Archives: August 2015

Regaining Posture After Breast Cancer Surgery

Regaining a good, strong posture after breast cancer surgery is one of the first and most important things to work on, in my opinion.  Having poor posture not only affects your entire musculoskeletal system, but it can also hinder proper breathing.  The ability to breath well and deeply provides much needed oxygen and nutrients to  your cells, which promotes healing.

Breast cancer surgery is a considerable trauma for your body, and your body’s natural reaction is to protect itself.  In doing so, your shoulders will round forward to protect the chest, leading to weakened scapular, back and abdominal muscles, shortened chest muscles, and possibly lower back pain.  TRAM Flap reconstructive surgery is especially detrimental to posture due to the manipulation of the rectus abdominus muscle, a main core stabilizer.

As a fitness professional, I am very aware of my body, and make a conscious effort to hold good posture throughout the day.  After my bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, I felt my shoulders drooping forward and my upper body starting to “hunch over”.  It just sort of snuck up on me, but it was happening.  Time to get to work.

To work on good posture, several factors come in to play.  Strengthening your scapular muscles, stretching your chest muscles, and strengthening your core musculature are all necessary.  I suggest you first work on learning how to “pack your scapula”.  This simple movement will help strengthen your scapular muscles, open up your chest, and allow you to breath easier.

This can be done either sitting or standing.

Step 1

Starting Position: Stand or sit with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, arms by your sides. Engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine. By engage, I mean tighten your abdominals as if someone was going to punch you in the stomach.  Keep the chest lifted and your chin tilted slightly up.

Step 2

Inhale.  Exhale and pull the shoulder blades down and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Picture trying to put your shoulder blades into the back pockets of your pants.  Do not allow your low back to arch. Hold the contraction for 5-10 seconds for a total of 2-4 repetitions.

Practice this exercise whenever you can – watching tv, sitting at the computer or a restaurant, or driving your car.

Eggplant Zucchini Parmesan

This recipe was published in Women’s Health magazine.  It provides protein, antioxidants, heart-healthy fats, calcium, fiber, Vitamin C and iron, all in an updated version of the classic dish.

Ingredients

1 large eggplant

2 zucchini

2 T. olive oil, plus more for roasting vegetables

1/4 t. sea salt

1 c. low-fat mozzarella

1 c. freshly grated parmesan

1/4 c. chopped fresh oregano

3/4 c. quinoa

1/4 c. chia seeds

1/4 c. fresh basil

1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

1 jar marinara sauce (24 oz), no salt or added sugar

2 c. fresh spinach

Prehat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel the eggplant and zucchini and slice lengthwise.  Brush both sides with oil and arrange on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and roast until tender, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Combine the mozzarella, half the Parmesan, and oregano.  Separately, mix quinoa, chia seeds, remaining parmesan, 2 T. oil, basil and pepper.

Spread half the marinara in a baking dish.  Layer with half the vegetables, spinach, and cheese-oregano mixture.  Repeat.  Top with quinoa blend and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.