Feet on a scale checking in on weight gain

How Can I Shift This Weight When I’m Hungry All the Time?

I’m one of those irritating people who has never had much trouble with their weight. I’ve been tall and skinny all my life. Even when middle age hit and I put on a few pounds, they were easy enough to take off again. So yeah, for a lot of people: Deeply irritating.

When I left school at eighteen, I didn’t exercise at all until I reached thirty, which coincided with the mid-80s when it was all Jane Fonda, aerobics and legwarmers. I’ve never played any competitive sport since leaving school, but I’ve paid regular visits to the gym, though my days of doing aerobics are long gone.

Weight gain after treatment

At the back end of 2017 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and the doctors indicated that a prostatectomy would not be a good treatment for me. My cancer was very near my bladder, and one slip of the surgeon’s knife might mean colostomy bangs and all kinds of other horrors.

Instead, I took the hormone and radiotherapy route, which has done what old age and a slowing metabolism failed to do. I’m now hungry most of the time. My "I’m full, I don’t need to eat any more" off switch seems to have been gummed up by the hormone juice, and now I could eat all the time. The pounds have piled on, and my slim 32-inch waist has expanded to something I don’t even want to mention.

Pounding the pavement to keep fit

I’ve always believed in keeping fit, and as I’ve written before in these pages, a doctor friend told me when I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer that the best thing I could do was to exercise and stay healthy. She said she wished there was a pill marked exercise that she could prescribe.

Of course, it doesn’t work like that, and I’ve been pounding the pavements and riding my bike. Unfortunately, because of Covid, the gyms closed over the winter months, so my usual exercise was denied me. With summer upon us, the outdoor space beckons.

But a problem remains. I’ve never believed that exercise alone helps much in the weight loss department. You must be a serious gym bunny to lose wight by exercising alone. What you eat dictates to a large extent what the scales tell you and what your waistline confirms.

The 5:2 diet

Which of course brings us to – agghhhh – diets! My wife keeps slim by monitoring what she eats; she weighs the portions of her food. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a guy, but this really doesn’t work for me, so I have arrived at another solution. For two days a week I go cold turkey. It’s called the 5:2 diet, and you may know it. For five days I eat normally (well, as normally as I can these days), and on the remaining two days, typically Monday and Wednesday, I eat only 600 calories.

Initially I tried to divide the meagre amounts of food into three very un-square meals. Two boiled eggs for breakfast, 300 grams of soup for lunch, and then a salad at about 6 p.m. Somehow this didn’t work, so now I eat nothing until 5pm when I have a bowl of soup. Then about an hour later, I eat some grilled fish and salad topped off by a single cookie and an apple.

I know this sounds like hell, but it works for me, and I can’t tell you how good the following day’s breakfast tastes! I’ve now managed to lose a few pounds, and my weight is starting to get to where I want it to be, but heaven knows it’s a struggle.

Side effects that refuse to step aside

I’ve now been off hormone therapy for almost a year; my final jab was in August. But the side effects remain, including my gargantuan hunger. This seems profoundly unfair, as does the continued loss of libido and the hot flashes.

So come on guys, if you find yourself in the same position as me, how are you dealing with weight gain and an ever-expanding waistline? All tips will be gratefully received.

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