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One Mom’s New Healthy Lifestyle May Have Saved Her Life

If you need a diet motivator, here’s a great one to get your butt in gear. After losing 80 pounds over a year and a half, CNN reported that Melissa Schaaf of Herndon, Virginia, had no idea her biggest battle was yet to come — and her tremendous weight loss and new healthy lifestyle might just help save her life.

When Melissa stepped on the scale on her 40th birthday, the 5-foot-4 mom knew it was time to take action. “I looked down at the scale and thought, ‘Oh my, I must really do something about this,” said Melissa. So she joined a gym and started incorporating exercise into her daily routine.

Although she was “jigging when everyone was jogging,” in her aerobics class, her ability to laugh at herself kept her coming back for more, and in just eight months, Melissa had shed 50 pounds. She decided to step up her game by joining Weight Watchers, and lost another 30 pounds. Everything was changing for the better — her aches and pains no longer ached or pained and her self-confidence was through the roof.

But in December 2011, when doctors found a stage 1 cancerous tumor during an elective hysterectomy, Melissa’s life should have never been the same — but she wasn’t about to let all of her hard work go down the drain. “So much of what’s happening to you is out of your control. I wanted to control what I could,” she said.

Instead of giving into the chemotherapy treatments and ignoring her short-lived healthy lifestyle, Melissa decided to stay the course. Her Oncologist, Dr. Amy Irwin, believes Melissa made the right decision to keep her body as healthy as possible. “We encourage [patients] to eat healthful meals, exercise, and continue in activities they enjoy.”

Melissa did just that, using exercise to help her sleep better and fend off some of the chemo drug’s side effects. “It helped me mentally — kept me strong, kept me balanced.”

According to the American Cancer Society, studies have shown that obesity is linked to a higher risk of many types of cancer, a higher risk of certain cancers returning after treatment, and low survival rates in certain cases.

Fortunately, Melissa is in remission and although she’d still like to lose those pesky last 10 pounds that most of us have hanging around, she’s in no rush to do it. “I think it’s all about being patient and…making the best choices every day. Do I make great choices every day? No. But you’ve got to be forgiving with yourself and wake up the next morning and say, ‘Today, I’m going to do better.’”

Source: CNN, American Cancer Society

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04.30.2013 / 12:02 AM EDT by Jo Aaron
Related: Moms, Health, Fitness

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