When Sarah was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 26, it was understandably a great shock. "I thought I was young and relatively healthy." The diagnosis prompted the Victorian into action. She returned home for treatment and decided to turn over a new leaf. "I never want to go through something like this again so I became very interested in what I was putting into my body."
Sarah set out to make real lifestyle changes. She had always been fairly physically active at high school playing water polo and basketball but her time overseas and a back injury, had seen her become more inactive. She joined a gym and started going each morning. "It's really important to make it just part of your life," she says adding as an unintended consequence she has also made lots of new friends at the gym.
The gym had a healthy eating program where she was encouraged to keep a food diary. "It keeps you honest. You can actually see how much you're eating." Sarah shook up her eating habits. She realised she was eating a lot of takeaway and chocolate so she cut back on these and increased her vegetable intake. "My change in eating was difficult at first but the determination of not getting cancer again got me through. I did go cold turkey on the chocolate for the first few months." She confesses she does "miss chocolate sometimes." But Sarah stresses that it's important to keep diet setbacks in proportion. "It's about eating well most of the time, it's ok to be bad on occasions." She also notes that healthy food needn't be dull for example, "air cooked popcorn can replace popcorn with butter and salt, still just as good and very satisfying".
She also decreased the size of her meals. Her new regime didn't impact her eating out, she simply chose smarter meals or asked for high calorie items such as sauces and dressings to be placed on the side of the dish.
Another lifestyle change she made was to limit her alcohol intake to special occasions. Alcohol is generally high in kilojoules. The major impact this has had to Sarah's social life is that she seems to be "designated driver more frequently."
Two years on, Sarah has received the all clear from doctors and is 24 kilos lighter and still counting. She's recently taken up running and is working on increasing her cardio workouts. "It's a slow process making lifestyle changes, but don't lose heart, it's worth it in the end."