At the beginning of the summer, new research revealed what all of us in the Shitty Sorority already knew: Cancer makes you fat. It was a relief to read it in peer-reviewed writing instead of hearing my oncologist tell me that I’m just “menopausal” or “can never, ever eat bread again” or I should “exercise more.” Doctors and CrossFitters and SoulCyclers will also go on and on and on about this “exercise” fad, but I’ve found most everything that elevates my resting heart rate is unpleasant and sweaty. And I’m a lady. Sadly, my go-to weight management plan that included an evening bottle of Prosecco and magical thinking wasn’t working. But I maintained great faith that persistent fatness could certainly be fixed by doing something from the couch.

All of us have at least one Facebook friend posting before-and-after midriff miracle work, and attributing it to the probiotics they are peddling. These earnest salespeople promise the shedding of pounds as their power pills button up leaky intestines and soothe fat-inspiring inflammation. During graduate school, I spent four years dissecting Peyer’s Patches from mouse guts and have a fundamental understanding of microbiology. So, I stopped mocking the pseudo-medical speak long enough to wonder if maybe all of those poisons and steroids I took during treatment repopulated my innards with an eviler blend of bacteria that never want me to wear skinny jeans. I went to the Organic Market to ask Chad which probiotic would allow me to squeeze back into my size 2s the quickest.

Chad was very helpful and steered me to the packets of pills that don’t require refrigeration or put a significant dent in my fancy shoe budget. There are as many probiotic formulations as there are vague symptoms to thwart. I decided on a daily dose to promote “digestive balance,” but it was nice of Chad to steer me away from the geriatric blends and to inquire about my vaginal health. Right there. Next to the frozen edamame and organic EVOO. I washed my first capsule down with a cold-pressed kale juice and Chinese character tattoos appeared at all of my pulse points. I’m your life coach now. Namaste.

With a profound sense of self worth and calm gratitude, I twirled out of the Organic Market and embarked on an entire month of poo improvement. I was sure I already felt amazing, and immediately began shopping for a toe ring. With a swig of cold water each morning, I came closer and closer to complete insufferability and the real chance of posting an ab selfie.

But it must be cold water, friends.

Attempting to swallow the vegan capsule with hot coffee leaves you with a mouth full of sticky pus and a sudden awareness of how sad and deluded one is to voluntarily purchase and ingest shit’s main ingredient in the pursuit of Chloe’s Revenge Body. And after my 30-day trial, I can tell you this: I’ve gained 5 pounds. I’ve also endured some rather alarming moments that a lady would never put in writing. Respectable cancer research reports an extra 11 pounds is my reward for three months of chemotherapy, but no suggestions about how to get rid of them. An extra 50 billion bacteria a day doesn’t seem to work for this girl, so it’s time for a different approach that can be initiated from the couch.

Sober September. Results to follow.

Prosecco with berries might be the source of my 11 pounds, and also might be worth it.

Prosecco with berries might be the source of my 11 pounds… and also might be worth it.

10 responses

  1. I’m so glad u did this trial for us so we wouldn’t have to!!! Please keep experimenting and let us know what works. By
    Ttw- I’m pretty sure I would like ur before picture to be my forever more picture, but also look forward to seeng ur “after”!

  2. Ha! Too funny Britt. I definitely noticed a difference in my gastro-intestinal mechanations after radiation and chemo. Just the thought of fat makes my stomach upset. I used to enjoy fast foods like Mickey D’s and KFC and now I find them repulsive. And I too have put on weight – which is rather paradoxical given that I eat less – much less – fat. Mind you I drink less now than I did before (lower income) so I don’t think alcohol is related. I suspect I have found the culprit though – carbohydrates. I sometimes run low on food towards the end of the month – being on a fixed disability pension due to the peripheral neuropathy side effect of the dialysis that was a side effect of the radiation treatment destruction of my kidneys (a rare side effect that was a result of scar tissue forming in the ureters.) Anyway, when I do run low on food, I cut out bread (which I love) and other carbs. I keep my protein and other food groups intake high for medical reasons (dialysis tends to remove many nutrients including vitamins that have to be replaced each day or your health fails quickly and bad stuff happens fast – like your hair falling out and your skin developing blood blisters). Carbs, however are throw away in the short term. When I stop carb intake my weight plummets as much as 10 kilos (22 pounds)in two weeks. And I feel healthier. Then I get my disability check and I’m back to bread and such very quickly. Ha! My weight varies enough that the hospital dietitian has identified me as being high risk for malnutrition. Which makes no sense as they do blood work regularly on all dialysis patients and mine has always been exemplary – great protein levels, all lytes solidly in range, etc.

    Anyway, try reducing your carb intake Britt – I think we survivors may be processing carbs a bit different than others. Oh, while I was on radiation treatment my radonc suggested that I drink more – not less. So I wouldn’t worry about your alcohol intake.

    • Wow. I have so many responses to this. First, I’m so sorry your cancer treatment has taken such a toll on your body. And honestly, Paul, I’m always surprised and saddened to learn that anyone… ever… finds himself running low on food. Immediately I want to send you a gigantic gift basket of carbohydrate-laden goodies. And an edible arrangement. And come over and cook you dinner (I’m actually rather good at that.) But mostly, I pray you have good people in your circle who are looking out for you. The words you type here suggest to me that you are loved. Your spirit is that of a survivor… but I hear you Paul. This is another part of Cancer no one talks about. And it’s very important. xoxo

  3. You are a funny girl, Britt! I have multiple FB friends, including my son, making such posts. I mostly find them amusing and wish them all well. Personally, I am fortunate to have weight that fluctuates about 3 pounds regardless of alcohol intake, exercise, reading habits, gardening circuit training, or whatever else. I still think I need to lose 15 pounds. Whatever. I’ve tried the alcohol-free thing, too, with some moderate success, so I wish you the best! Oh, and if Chad asks, my reproductive system seems to be doing just fine 🙂

    • There is TONS of money to be made in this probiotic peddling world. My 30 day trial was about $1.50/day. Add the ten dollar kale juice I bought to wash it down, and you’ve got yourself a pack-a-day habit, or Starbuck addiction, or Netflix membership!

      What I didn’t write here is the main reason I’m not 11 pounds slimmer is because I actually believe I look fantastic. And who wants to give up carbs when all of your clothes are cute and your main squeeze tells you every day you’re tops?

  4. Pingback: Day Nine | Blooms and Bubbles

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