Archive for December, 2012

Beer for Dinner (and Other Coping Mechanisms)

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

My dinner

 “You are so inspiring.  I wish I could have your control.”  These are words from a friend of mine that read my most recent blog, “French Fries are not a Vegetable.”

Thank you, Lori.  Yes, I do have a lot of control but not always.  In fact, I had beer for dinner last night, a Stone Pale Ale or two to be exact.  I was having a hard day and the thought of another salad made me want to puke.  So there, I do lose control at times. 

It is impossible to be on top of my game at all times.  Honestly, it is exhausting! 

Life is hard.  Sometimes, it is really hard.  I get down and my cravings kick in, chocolate covered almonds, ice cream, chips and salsa, been burritos with melted gooey cheese and beer.  At times like these, the site of another green juice makes me gag and I want to chuck that rice and kale bowl out the window for a big fat juicy “In and Out” burger. 

You might be thinking this is quite the turn from your last blog, Deanne.  What happened to sugar is poison, alcohol can cause breast cancer, transformation, best thing I have ever done for myself?  I guess it’s out the window with my rice and kale bowl for the time being. 

But that’s OK, because I want you to all know I am not perfect.  I mess up at times.  I am human.  We are all human.

So, yes, I am strong but not one hundred percent strong.  This month has been difficult, and this week even more trying, especially in the wake of Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

Friday’s shooting hit me hard.  I was getting my nails done at “Happy Nails” for a fancy Christmas party.  I was looking forward to a nice manicure and pedicure, a little time to myself while Maggie was at poetry class.  As I looked up at the TV, “Breaking News, police cars, and 27 dead, flashed across the screen.  Any “Happy” I was hoping to get at “Happy Nails” was gone.  “Happy Nails” was just “Nails.”

In fact, not only was my “happy” gone, my holiday spirit, my optimism, even my gratitude, all kaput.  I began wallowing in the swamplands, again.  And when this happens, I break out the chocolate.

But then I read a post on Facebook from my nephew Shawn.  He helped me put the chocolate away with his poignant reminder:   

My nephew Shawn

The other day I was asked why I dislike slow, depressing music. I just shrugged and said I don’t like being depressed. Now that I think about it, it is much deeper and yet as simple as that.

I had an amazing child hood filled with amazing people! I had great loving parents Steve and Barb Johnson. I have 1 biological brother Chris, an “adopted” sister and brother Terra and Will, two step brothers E…don and Steven, and a load of family that I just fell into, Cathy, Jonathan, Monkey, and of course my lovely Rawr Muffin Amanda. In my life I have seen true tragedy first hand. I’ve seen family forcibly ripped from each others arms and ripped apart. I’ve seen friends lose the people closest to them. I’ve seen TRUE violent psychosis. I’ve seen police overstep their authority and abuse the very people they swore to protect. I’ve seen betrayal from the ones i love the most. I’ve seen peoples trust betrayed. I’ve seen what true depression is. I’ve seen a friend wreck and barely be alive. I’ve lost my own grandmother whom I was very close with. I’ve seen mental, physical, and emotional abuse on children and women who I know and love dearly. I’ve seen a child’s voice and needs go ignored and denied. I’ve seen a lot of dark things for my age more than I care to put on this status……

BUT and this is very key….

I’ve seen unconditional love. I’ve seen both my parents accept people and friends in need and it made the world for them. I’ve seen my cousins grow into the most AMAZING people. I’ve seen friends grow and prove their parents proud! I’ve seen my parents give a home to friends and make them family. I’ve seen family break the chains of oppression and live free from abuse. I’ve given a young man a voice. I’ve had my trust in people rewarded 10 fold. I’ve been invited in and made part of a business that is more of a loving family than a job. I’ve received so much love and help from a man that goes above and beyond the title of “Captain”. I’ve seen true deep seeded depression beat! I’ve seen bullies change their ways. I’ve fallen in love and am dating my best friend. I watched my friend get married. Saw addiction get beat. Saw my aunt kick breast cancer’s ASS! Watched my friend recover from his near death motorcycle accident despite what the doctors said and made it home for Christmas. I’ve seen families re united after weeks apart during rough times. I’ve seen beauty blossom. I’ve influenced a younger individual to turn their life around for the better. I’ve gained an amazing younger brother who i care for very much for. I won a game of alcoholic checkers against my “mother in law”. I hold my girlfriends hand through all the rough times.

I’ve seen a lot of beauty and amazing things in my life as well. When i listen to depressing music all the good fades from view. And I realized….. It is easy to forget the beauty and love in life and focus on the bad dark and evil. My father once told me “Your life is what YOU make it. The only bad days you have are ones you let happen. You can either sit there mope, cry, and get angry… Or you can stand back up and be determined to have a damn good day.” I have found this advice very handy and true.

So to my loved friends and family the moral of my long ass rant is this.

No matter how much tragedy you encounter there are amazing and beautiful things in your life as well, never fixate yourself on only the bad. So listen to some good happy nonsensical music and put yourself in a great mood. Realize life doesn’t suck. And have a truly amazing day.

I love you all.

Thank you Shawn for reminding me that in spite of all the bad, there is good, there is hope, there is love!    

We all have moments of grief and loss, when doubt hits us like a train and the pain is so overwhelming we cannot see the good.  I was having a moment like this.  But, as I have learned, this too shall pass. 

And it did, I drank a huge 32 oz. green juice today with a bowl of rice and kale and it was delicious!

French Fries are not a Vegetable

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

 Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food…. Hippocrates

The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease…. Thomas A Edison

Maggie has been home since the weekend with a sore throat, runny nose, and fever.  Last week, Casey was down for the count and missed three days of school.  Kevin has been battling it for weeks and Riley, well he seems to be fighting it because he is the only one in the family that takes my advice about eating healthy.  But not me, I am fine.  In fact, I am not just fine, I haven’t been sick for two years, not a cold nor flu, nothing.  It seems a miracle for someone who battled bronchitis twice a year my entire life. 

It’s not a miracle, however.  No, it is simply a result of my new diet and lifestyle.  As many of you know, I changed things up a bit after being diagnosed with breast cancer and it has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. 

And a special perk to boot, I can fit into my pair of black skinny jeans and better yet, no PMS!  Seriously, those days before my period when I couldn’t get enough chocolate, snapped at everyone, cramped, cried and wanted to kill my husband are gone.  Well, not the kill my husband part but that is for another blog. 

Ok, This is not me, but a girl can dream!

Many people, after hearing about my transformation, want to know what I am doing.  So, I have finally decided to write it all down in a blog and share my “modus operandi” with all of you.   

Although we still don’t know everything about cancer and why it grows in the first place, there is mounting evidence that cancer cells multiply when the immune system, our body’s natural defense is on the fritz.  So, to keep cancer at bay, I have made it one of my life’s missions to boost up my immune system!  How?  Living a healthier lifestyle, changing my ph balance from acidic to alkaline, and reducing inflammation. 

Low grade chronic and systemic inflammation is a leading cause in many diseases.  According to Young S. Kim, program director in the Nutritional Science Research Group at the National Cancer Institute, “Cancer is caused by many different processes and inflammation is one of them, and if you could inhibit that process it would be tremendously helpful.”

In fact, doctors are now recommending a baby aspirin a day to help prevent cancer.    Why?  Because, an aspirin (81 mg) a day has shown to decrease inflammation.  It’s not just to thwart heart disease anymore.  But aspirin alone is not enough.  If it were, we would all be cancer free.  No, the real cure is a nutritional diet coupled with a healthy lifestyle.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it.  I wish I could say it is as simple as it sounds, but it is not.  However, it can be done.  I am living proof.    

So, after lots of research, trial and error and more error, I have come up with the following plan and so far have been able to avoid that nasty winter flu, cancer coming back, PMS and committing murder.  Enjoy!

  1.  Take your mom’s advice and eat your veggies. It is pretty clear, we are what we eat.  But, just as important, we are what we don’t eat.   According to Joe Cross in his film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” Americans are not eating their vegetables.  In fact, for many, veggies only make up 5% of their overall diet.  This is not good.  Our bodies cannot live on carbs alone which makes up the majority of the American diet.  Do you know that potatoes are the most popular vegetable?  I call it the “white food group” which Maggie loves.  Potatoes don’t count!  You need some green stuff.  Veggies are packed with phytonutrients.  According to the voice of sustainable wellness, Frank Lipman, “phytonutrients help our cells communicate better with each other, help prevent mutations at a cellular level, some are anti-inflammatory, others are potent antioxidants and many have functions we are only beginning to understand. What we do know is they help prevent cancer, heart disease and most chronic diseases in general, are anti-aging, boost the immune system and generally promote health.”  An important tip:  cooking can kill enzymes in many vegetables and certain vitamins found in veggies, so make sure that you include raw veggies in your diet very day.  A salad a day keeps the doctor away.
  2. Drink your juice. A 16 oz glass of fresh green organic juice straight from the juicer is like drinking pure sunshine.  Power packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and chlorophyll, all that liquid love goes directly into your bloodstream instantly oxygenating your body, releasing stored toxins, improving your blood circulation, and cleansing your liver giving you tremendous energy. You truly can’t go wrong with this elixir of life.
  3. Chew, Chew, Chew.  Our digestive system actually begins in our mouths.  The combination of chewing and our saliva gets things started so our bowels don’t have to work so hard.  When our digestive system is on overload, all our healing energy goes to that area of the body taking away from other areas that may need the energy.  When our digestive system is working properly, all is right with the world. 
  4. Ditch the sugar.  Not only is sugar poison to our bodies, sugar is to cancer as oxygen is to fire.  Americans eat on a per capita basis 156 pounds of sugar per year.  This is equivalent to 31 five-pound bags. That’s a whole lot of sugar.  Beware of hidden sugars.  It’s in your salad dressings, ketchup, Spaghetti sauce and cereals.  Honestly, you are sweet enough without it.
  5. Limit your alcohol.  According to the Harvard Nurses’ Health study, drinking more than one alcoholic cocktail per day can increase breast cancer risk by 20 to 25 percent.  Imbibing in an alcoholic drink can certainly relax you after a long day or help you to break loose a bit at a social gathering but like sugar, cancer loves it as much as you do.  There are other ways to relax and have fun.  You may need to get a bit creative but the results are worth it. 
  6. Reduce your caffeine intake.   The jury is still out on this but some studies indicate that caffeine plays a role in breast cancer.  One thing known for sure is that caffeine increases levels of cortisol and stress hormones in your body.  Maybe you can consider herbal teas instead.  Slurp!
  7. Shake your booty.  Get active, go for a walk, ride a bike, go dancing, join a gym or swim in the deep blue sea.  Whatever your choice of activity, get off that couch, log out of Facebook and dance your heart out for thirty minutes or more a day.  The trick for getting the most bang from your walk, break a sweat!    
  8. Take your vitamins. Many of our foods today are depleted of their natural nutrients due to poor soil conditions, toxicity, pesticides, early picking, and many other modern agricultural practices.  To make up for this, it is a good idea to take supplements.  For example, most Americans do not get enough Vitamin D in their diet and low amounts of vitamin D are linked to some of the most aggressive breast cancers.  A glass of milk, fortified orange juice or a day in the sun will not give you the needed amounts.  This is one of the few times when popping a pill is good for you.    
  9. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.  Stay away from processed foods, chemicals, food dyes, and foods treated with pesticides.  We know MSG causes cancer yet all the big food companies put it in their products including the 4 most popular packaged foods, Hamburger Helper, Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix, Progresso soups and Campbell’s soups.  Also, most frozen pizzas, chips, processed vegetables, canned meats, frozen pot pies, seasonings and sauces contain MSG.  And do you know that all those salad dressings we dump on our healthy bowl of lettuce and veggies are full of chemicals, yes MSG included.  So, make your own salad dressing.  It’s easy and tastes a lot better than those bottled brands.  One last word of advice, never take a trip to fast food nation again!  When I think of all those Happy Meals I bought my kids when they were young I cringe.  Ban Micky D’s, try Pho Bowls instead. 
  10. Limit your exposure to non-organic foods and residual hormones found in dairy and meat.  In fact, limit your exposure to meat and dairy all together.  Albert Einstein said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chance of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”  Although I am not yet convinced that meat is horrible for you, I do know Americans eat way too much of it.  Instead, get the majority of your proteins from nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes.  If you eat meat and dairy, choose free-range organic chicken and eggs or wild caught fish.  And, if you are craving a big ass piece of steak especially around your period, make sure it is grass fed.
  11. Maintain a healthy body weight.  Estrogen is stored in fat tissue.  This stored estrogen is known to increase your risk of estrogen-sensitive breast cancers and PMS.  Maintaining a healthy weight also helps you to feel good, look good, and squeeze into your favorite jeans.  Hey, maybe those skinny jeans won’t just be for your daughter anymore. 
  12. Do a daily dry rub!  I know what you are thinking.  No, I am referring to rubbing your skin.  In Chris Karr’s words, “We dump tons of toxins out of our skin so it’s important to keep the pathway clear. Dry brushing loosens dead cells, stimulates acupressure points, tickles your chi, massages your meridians, moves the lymph, helps reduce CELLULITE, stimulates your immune system, wakes up circulation and makes your skin soooo soft and velvety!”
  13. Ok, here it is!  Have lots of orgasms!  Orgasms release endorphins (natures own happy pill), relieve tension, help you sleep better, calm your cravings for junk food, ease your pain, burn calories and simply feel good.  Need I say more?
  14. Get your zzzzzzzzzz’s.  Your body does most of its healing while you are sleeping.  Treat yourself like a princess.  Slip into some comfy pj’s, fluff your pillow, splurge on some silky sheets and drift off into wonderland for at least 8 hours every night.  I was listening to a radio talk show the other day.  The guest speaker, a health consultant, said if there is only one thing you can do on this long list towards getting healthy, get your sleep.  It is first and foremost! 
  15. Don’t worry, be happy.  There is an incredible mind body connection that we are just beginning to understand.  Our thoughts and feelings can positively or negatively influence our bodies.  As Lawrence LeShan, Ph.D. and father of mind-body therapy states, “Feelings affect body chemistry, just as body chemistry affects feelings.”  And Albert Einstein said, “I admit thoughts influence the body.”  You know what it feels like to be stressed out about work, devastated over a break up, anxious about those teenage kids or those unending bills.  Your muscles tighten up, your stomach churns, your head pounds, or a pain in your chest makes you wonder if this is the big one.  This is stress and it can wear down your immune system, making you vulnerable to all kinds of diseases.  So, sit with those negative thoughts, decide whether to throw them away or deal with them.  But, do not let them run your life.  And, practice your affirmations.  I am an amazing, beautiful, happy, healthy woman.  I am an amazing, beautiful, happy, healthy woman.  I am an amazing, beautiful, happy, healthy woman.  For the men, I am a strong, handsome, powerful and productive man!  Got it?  Good! 

We are interesting creatures. Many of us know that we should be taking better care of ourselves but it usually takes something like cancer or a new love affair to take real action.  We smoke when we know it causes cancer.  We sit on the couch and promise to exercise tomorrow as our muscles shrink and our bones thin.  We eat an exorbitant amount of empty carbs, sugars and bad fats as our waist grows and our energy is depleted.  We drink way too much alcohol even when it makes us feel like shit the next day and studies connect alcohol consumption to breast cancer.  We think French fries are a vegetable and Red Bull “gives us wings.” 

But it is never too late to change. 

If I can do it, you can do it!  I promise.  And, I can tell you first hand, not only is it worth it, you are worth it!

So, as this New Year approaches, instead of taking time to get a flu shot, go buy yourself a new juicer, eat your veggies, ditch the sugar, take your vitamins, get your zzzzz’s, shake your booty, have lots of sex and say your affirmations!  I am worth it!  I am worth it!  I am worth it!

Now if I can just get my family to do the same.