Life Audit

Living Well

After Beating Cancer, This Lawyer Wants to Bounce Back, Better Than Ever

Posted Jul 13, 2004 3:48 PM CDT
By Jill Schachner Chanen

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For most of her life Janyce Katz has been an active, healthy adult engaging in favorite activities like horseback riding, swimming and ballet. Her active lifestyle ensured a hearty metabolism, allowing her to eat whatever she wanted without much of a second thought.

Then everything changed.

Six years ago, following a routine allergy shot, Katz noticed a bump on her neck. Testing revealed lymphoma.

“I remember thinking it was not right. Spring was bring­ing everything back to life, and I had, perhaps, just had a death sentence imposed upon me.”

But Katz, an assistant attorney general in Columbus, Ohio, was determined to fight. Intensive chemotherapy and radiation kept the cancer at bay for almost two years. When it resurfaced, Katz underwent a stem cell transplant.

Happily, Katz has been “clean” ever since, but the lifesaving treatments took their toll. Medications caused her to gain weight, and she finds she’s lost much of the energy that once allowed her to engage in vigorous exercise. Katz relishes the idea of returning to her precancer size and weight and, most important, feeling good.

She’s been trying to achieve that goal on her own, but confesses that she has not gotten very far. While the time commitment and expense of horseback riding forced her long ago to give up her most beloved sport, she tries to at least stretch every morning and walk whenever possible. She also wants to start swimming again.

On the food front, Katz says she tries to be vigilant about her diet, infusing all her meals with healthy portions of fruits and vegetables. Still, she admits to indulg­ing an occasion­al craving for rich cheeses and ice cream.

Life Audit health and fitness expert Jim Karas applauds Katz’s efforts, but says she can—and must—become leaner and stronger. “It’s extremely important for her to lose weight and get her immune system functioning optimally,” he says. “That all comes through a strong­er, leaner body.”

To accomplish this goal, Karas wants Katz to adjust her exercise prescription and improve her eating habits.

Karas says most people, including Katz, place too much emphasis on cardiovascular exercise. Spending 30 minutes on the treadmill or in the pool accomplishes little. That time could be better spent on strength and resistance train­ing, especially for women.

“The key for a woman in her 50s is to perform strength and resistance training. After the age of 20, the average person loses one-half pound of muscle per year. At the onset of menopause, the rate doubles for women,” says Karas. “This is critical because muscle is the body’s most metabolically active tissue. It burns between 35 calories and 50 calories per pound per day.

“Many women experience weight gain at this time simply because their metabolism is diminishing as their lean muscle tissue is diminishing,” he says.

Karas believes Katz will get the kind of results she wants by performing 30 minutes to 40 minutes of strength-training and resistance exercises three to four times a week, with a short cardiovascular warm-up.

He also encourages her to continue taking long walks around her neighborhood and parking her car far away from her office.

GRADUAL INCREASE YIELDS MAXIMUM BENEFIT

Karas recommends Katz use a personal trainer to create a strength-training routine for her that incorporates things like weights and exercise tubing or machines. But similar workouts are available through classes at health clubs, books, Web sites and videos. As long as Katz constantly increases the amount of weight and resistance she is using, she will see a stronger, leaner body developing. However, Karas says that Katz’s morning stretching and yoga are not effective. “Yoga and stretching are the last components to her program. Strength training is her first and foremost goal.”

Karas also notes that activities like horseback riding, rowing and gardening are other excellent ways to promote body strength.

To promote a leaner body, Karas says Katz must be more vigilant about her diet. Karas wants her to eliminate 500 calories a day to lose a pound per week.

To start, Karas says Katz should eliminate juice from her diet. She usually makes fresh fruit and vegetable juices and drinks them with breakfast each day. “Avoid liquid calories,” he says. “Case studies indicate that liquid calories do not tip satiety mechanisms like solid food.”

What’s the alternative? Try going straight to the source. Instead of drinking a glass of calorie-laden orange juice, simply eat an orange, suggests Karas.

Katz also needs to avoid eating the high-fat ice creams and cheeses. Instead, he encourages her to substitute low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese. Then again, Karas says, he’s not overly concerned about fat content. “Research suggests that we’ve gone overboard on fat content,” he says. “Some fat content is good because it helps satisfy you.”

Karas urges Katz to keep up the fruit and vegeta­ble consumption, but he encourages her to increase her intake of calcium and anti-oxidant-rich vegetables, includ­ing broccoli, spinach and kale, to help facilitate weight and body fat loss.

“She will lose weight by strength training and cutting calories,” Karas says.

As for enjoying life, well, that’s something she already knows how to do.

OUR EXPERT

Jim Karas

Jim Karas is the author of the health and fitness workbook Flip the Switch (Random House), and The Business Plan for the Body, a New York Times best seller. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business who flunked high school gym, he is now the owner of Solo Sessions Personal Fitness Training in Chicago. He also appears regularly on ABC’s Good Morning America.

VITAL STATISTICS

Janyce C. Katz

Position: An assistant attorney general of Ohio

Age: Early 50s

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 162 lbs.

Goal: To reach her precancer weight, feel good and stay healthy.

Life Audit Hot Tip: Swim Doesn't Equal Trim

Think swimming is a great way to burn off the fat? Think again, says Life Audit health and fitness expert Jim Karas. Swimming may actually stimulate the body to retain and build body fat to foster buoyancy, he says. If you are looking to lose weight long-term, limit your cardio and stick to strength training.

Sidebar

GAME PLAN

Strength Training

Focus on strength and resistance training, not cardiovascular exercise.

Concentrated Exercise

Spend 30-40 minutes three to four times a week exercising. Short spurts of stretching do nothing. Walk whenever possible.

Diet Awareness

Eliminate juice. Eat low-fat foods high in calcium and anti-oxidants.

WE NEED YOU! Got some room to improve? Get free advice from the experts on health and fitness, finance, home and office technology, business travel, entertaining and wardrobe—plus your mug in this mag—with Life Audit, the Journal’s monthly Lifestyle feature. It’s fun, fast and free. If you would like to participate in a future Life Audit, please e-mail Jill Schachner Chanen.

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