How a harsh diagnosis can change the way we look at life.
I’d been without health insurance for two years and working independently when I got a new job with benefits. Hurrah! No more worrying about accidents in my daily life and, of course, routine health tests were included. The insurance provider was kind enough to pester me with reminders that it was time to get a flu shot or that, at my age (51), I should really check my poop and have a colonoscopy. But the one reminder that will always stand out is the one for a mammogram. I’ve always had them (when I had insurance) because they weren’t too inconvenient and now that I was covered, I made the appointment thinking that I’d be cleared as I always had in the past.
You know where this is going, right?
Sometimes you just know. Why did I Instagram photos of “my first pasties”—you know, those little metal dot stickers they put on you when you’re being squished? How could I tell by the way the radiologist said “Have a nice Christmas” that something was up?
Well, something WAS up and now I’m faced with decisions that sometimes overwhelm me and sometimes make me want to laugh out loud. I’m diagnosed with what is called a very early case of breast cancer with a terrific rate of survival, except I have it in two places in one breast and a “high” rating, thus necessitating a mastectomy and one “sentinel node” removed which, due to my luck with genetics and a larger set of “girls,” also necessitates some serious reconstruction surgery. The cancer should be out in one operation with no radiation likely, but the reconstruction will make the plastic surgeon my buddy for the next year.
And now, please allow me to be human for a just a paragraph or two.
While acknowledging my great fortune at having SO much: home, food, job, insurance, The Man Who Walks Beside Me, and early detection, I’m more than just a bit anxious about my new breasts. New breasts that I’m going to have to live with, even though they will not be the same breasts that took me forever to embrace after my teenage years, that nursed three children and that I was completely happy to grow old with.
I know I will learn to love them for the fact that they’re a symbol that I took care of myself and got the mammogram that possibly saved my life. I’m thankful that I have health insurance, a job that gave me said insurance and a good man who has told me (and I believe him) that he just wants me healthy. The issue on my mind is, how do I “realign the headlights;” with so many possibilities and configurations, it’s become overwhelming. DIEP flap versus Latissimus Dorsi Flap versus implants? Saline or silicone, expanders, immediate reconstruction versus later? Ugh, it overwhelms me.
While writing this, a good friend dropped by. I had finally decided to tell her of my diagnosis and although she is currently going through chemo, has lost her hair and faces at least a few more months of treatment, she came by less than 24 hours after I told her. Her diagnosis trumps mine, yet she called us “sisters” and it made me happy to have someone to share my thoughts with. She talked me into a better frame of mind, one that helped me put it all back into perspective. The main issue here is HEALTH, has always been health and nothing more.
Have you ever tried a diet aid or weight loss supplement in order to lose weight? Have you ever purchased a book on dieting, healthy eating or weight loss? Have you ever spent money on a product that claimed to enable you to lose weight? You are not alone. As a society, we are desperate to lose weight and the quick fix is always the most tempting. The weight loss industry knows our weakness all too well. It was a $61 billion business in 2012 and the numbers are increasing annually (according to a U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market study). They know how to sell us a miracle in a bottle, shake, or pill.
We all want to simply take a pill or drink a potion and magically become skinny in a week. That’s human nature. Trust me, I would love this too! Think about it, if there was an effective weight loss pill or potion we would all be skinny! The truth is that, according to the 2010 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 72.5 million Americans older than 20 years old categorized as obese. This does not include children. This is not only a national health threat, but also a major challenge.
Success lies in the basics. Eat right and live an active lifestyle. I think we make this so much harder than it needs to be. Rather than spending your hard earned money on a fake promise, I suggest you move your body 1 hour every day to increase your heart rate and don’t be afraid to sweat! Sweating is not only your body’s way of cooling itself during an exercise, but it helps increase body temperature in order to burn calories. It’s also a great way to remove toxins from your body as a result of poor nutritional habits and being overweight. On the flip side, if you feed your body what it needs with whole natural unprocessed foods, your body will simply function. Your body will naturally find a healthy weight and maintain it. As an added bonus, you’ll feel better, be more productive and reduce your risk for all major chronic diseases.
I get an influx of calls from people who became the latest victims of the weight loss industry’s cruel attempt to capitalize on our insecurities and lack of nutrition knowledge. It happens just about the same time every year. As soon as we’ve forgotten about the resolutions we made in January and after we’ve regained the weight lost via a trial of the latest magical pill, potion and powder. I give everyone the same advice. Get healthy and stay healthy by giving your body what it needs and craves. The rest will magically happen on its own.
I have such respect for NutriBullet. Yes, they’re a business that makes profit (that’s the beauty of this country!), but their mission is to provide a product that all Americans can use to improve their quality of life. They go out of their way to responsibly provide motivation and education via their interactive website and that will last a lifetime… certainly longer than a package of weight loss powder! That’s a wellness company that I can support and stand behind and believe in!
Kudos to NutriBullet for all that you are doing to make Americans healthier!
Can you train yourself to like healthy food?
According to The Guardian, there are certain ways to get yourself to not only eat, but actually enjoy, healthy foods. The first is through a process called flavor-flavor learning. Some tastes are innate, like enjoying sweet tastes and not enjoying bitter ones, and from that idea stemmed a sort of Pavlovian conditioning. When kids are fed sweetened broccoli and encouraged to enjoy it, they’re more likely to enjoy it plain in later years. Think about it – this same phenomenon probably happened to you when you began NutriBlasting. You started out with few greens and mainly fruit, and, heck, maybe even some fruit juice. Little by little, your taste buds conditioned and now you’re probably enjoying greener Blasts than you ever would have thought, sans the sugar.
Another way of adjusting your taste buds is through the feel-good factor. Food in all its forms gives us some sort of positive nutritional effect after we’ve consumed it. Our body gets a happiness kick after consuming sugar-ladden foods thanks to the burst in energy. If unhealthy, processed food can make us feel good, imagine how good you can feel after eating nutritious, whole foods. These not only raise your energy, but raise your metabolism, your immune function, and so much more. Often times, knowing you’re doing something good for your body is enough to make you feel good.
Finally, eating is a mental as well as physical act. You feel fuller when you eat standing up than when you do sitting down. You eat less from a smaller plate and feel just as full. While these tidbits seem obvious, few follow them and they could make all the difference.
Well, it’s official! Every one of my friends now owns a NutriBullet. The last one on board was my friend, Lauren. She is one of my dearest friends and was there by my side every step of the way through my cancer journey, regardless of what she was experiencing in her life at the time. Lauren is the type of person that focuses on everyone else’s needs before her own. The past year has been a stressful and life-changing year for my friend and, like many of us do when under stress, we ignore our bodies and this can have an unfortunate snowball effect.
Lauren decided that in 2013, she was going to focus on herself and make changes to live a healthier lifestyle, and she knew that one of the tools in this process involved the NutriBullet. Lauren’s commitment to improving her diet and health is nothing short of spectacular. She met this opportunity head on and is already feeling great!
I remember how excited Lauren was when her NutriBullet arrived. She had already started a work-out regimen and shopped for all of the ingredients to make her first NutriBlasts.
Over the past several weeks, I have watched my friend shed pounds and feel better, both physically and emotionally. In addition, her blood pressure and blood sugar levels are coming down at good pace.
It makes me so happy to watch the people that I love excited about how the NutriBullet can help them make the transition to better health. After all, they watched my amazing transformation. The NutriBullet isn’t just a machine that makes delicious drinks; it’s a tool that helps people focus more on what they are putting into their bodies. As we all continue to consume more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods, we’re making lifestyle changes that have a multitude of benefits.
So cheers to you, my beautiful friend, Lauren and to everyone out there who is making the effort to improve their health and feel better. It’s great that we can all do this together!
I’ve written a bit about my new eating lifestyle and The Man Who Walks Beside Me in my journey, but I feel like I should proclaim from the mountaintops just how amazed I am at his conversion, which is a much bigger accomplishment.
When I met The Man, it took me a while to realize that he didn’t eat like me. At that time, I ate just about everything I could try, except beef, pork and other red meats. I considered food one of the great pleasures in life and loved trying new things and eating fancy, expensive cheeses and cuisines. Nothing went untried.
I don’t know how I missed the signs. The Man would say, “No, thanks. I’m good,” when I offered him something I’d cooked or we’d discuss choices for restaurants for what seemed like hours before always deciding on the same old, same old. Finally, I figured out his deep, dark secret: he was a picky eater with texture issues.
He didn’t eat tomatoes (except in sauce), avocados, beans, lentils, ketchup, olives, soft cheese (the horror!), casseroles or goulash, soup (SOUP?), spices, sauces, green leafy veggies and the most shocking: mustard. I love mustard so much I’d marry it.
For years, we went round and round. He was impossibly fit while eating only quesadillas, pasta, grilled cheese sandwiches or chicken nuggets and ate so much ice cream and sugar it added to my worries. At the time, I was concerned for my own health, but more so for his, telling him that just looking fit didn’t mean he was fit on the inside.
Then, a couple of years ago, I tried an experiment. I gave him some small tomato plants, asking him since he was such a good gardener, if he would help me take care of them, so “I” could enjoy them with my meals. He told me he’d never grown vegetables before, but that he’d help me out. I’m a gardener by profession who was lucky enough to find a mate who also enjoys gardening, along with the added bonus of his loving to take over my projects. (Insert diabolical laughter here.)
The plan worked. By the end of summer, that man was a tomato expert and had tested enough of my tomatoes to start making plans for our next season of crops.
Crops? Had I created a monster?
At some point during this time, he started tasting more foods he’d never tasted before and I noticed, very quietly.
Then came the moment I decided to change my dietary ways for the better and forever. I wanted to be plant-based, no sugar or fat. I sat him down and told him that he could eat whatever he liked, but that I needed one month to focus on me and my health. Long story short, he joined me, but told me he’d need to supplement my new foods with meat and sweets while he was out and about at work. I agreed, but it never really happened because he never strayed from our new style of eating and proudly told anyone he spoke with that he was a vegan! Yeah, he became That Guy…
Over the course of a year, he then became The Man Who Ate Everything. Suddenly, that gorgeous dish of olives before dinner was no longer all mine; I had to share. When I ordered something different than him, he started snacking from my plate and one night, he asked me so many questions about my tomato basil soup that I decided to ask him if he wanted to try it. I’d given up asking politely if he wanted to try my food, but this time he said, “Sure, I’ll try a bite,” and then he asked so many follow-up questions, that I just handed the bowl over to him and he finished it off! Woo hoo!
Our lives have changed in so many ways since learning to eat better, but I delight in watching him discover something “new.” He hasn’t conquered mustard yet, but I know for a fact that day will soon come.
To those who live with people in their lives who are particular about food, don’t give up! And, most importantly, don’t give up on your healthy ways because it’s “easier.” People want to grow and learn and sometimes you just have to have faith (and maybe a little sneakiness) to help them along.