I shared this article from the NYT yesterday on my Facebook page, After Cancer’s Calm, a Daughter’s Emotional Storm, but wanted to expand on it a bit more. This month marks 8 years since Scott’s cancer diagnosis. For those that are new to my blog, you can learn about how cancer changed my family by visiting my original blog Colon C-The Journey.
In the past 8 years, I learned that the life we live now is our new normal. The before cancer life was gone the moment we were told Scotty had cancer. We no longer had the life where we worried about the mundane stuff of life. I’m not saying the day to day struggles aren’t important. They are and we still are faced with them daily. But after July 2008, in addition to those life challenges, our family had to navigate a huge, enormous, mind blowing issue. Scott was 37 years old – he wasn’t supposed to hear ‘you have cancer‘. We were enjoying being parents, our careers flourishing, being with each other, creating a good life and in the blink of an eye we were dealing with the enormity of cancer. It was a real life lesson about life not being fair…
Here we are, 8 years later. Scott is cancer free. Things are great and we all move on, right? Well not exactly. What I have learned is that even though the physical cancer is gone, what my family went through has forever affected us. The entire experience changes you forever – there is a new and different normal to navigate. Some of the new normal is great. I approach life with a different perspective; more appreciative of my life.
My kiddos, who were relatively young during Scott’s treatment, have shown the effects of seeing their father go through treatment. During treatment, we were very open and honest about what was going on in a non-scary and age appropriate way. I let them both know what they may or may not see or experience during the chemo, and made sure to try to keep their lives as stable as possible. They had to deal with changing plans and being comfortable with having to be flexible. We showed them the IV Port and the chemo pack Scotty wore every other week. We didn’t hide what was going on — but didn’t make it scary either. It was a part of our lives for that period of time.
They certainly seemed to weather the storm fairly in tact. But there are signs of how it affected them. Both kids tend to be aware and more sensitive if one of us is sick – even if it’s as nebulous as the common cold. They both display empathy and caring for their friends and offer to help people in need automatically. They ask a lot of questions when they hear someone has died of cancer in our lives or even if it’s someone on the news. They won’t ever really remember the life we had before cancer.
Scotty, of course, has physical and mental repercussions of having cancer. I probably can’t even imagine some of the lingering effects, even 8 years after his initial diagnosis.
Remember even if the cancer is gone from someone’s life, the cancer never goes away…
This past month has been pretty stressful for me – and I’m not going to sugar coat it. My eating has gone to shit. The little excuses I have made have added up and now are full blown standard operating procedure and it’s not good. It’s being triggered by stress and emotional stuff going on but sliding back into old habits is not the path I want to revisit so it’s time to refocus. I am heading out on vacation next week. My long road trip will give me time to think about what’s going on and some much needed time away from what is triggering all of these feelings. Not to go into detail – it’s related to professional career issues and I know it’s only a matter of time before I need to make some hard choices.
But, let’s talk about refocusing on health and wellness…
I have mentioned before that I am a big fan and a long-distance friend of Christmas Abbott. She has always been kind to me and has embarked on an amazing path of helping others in a big way. She recently sent me a copy of her book: The BADASS Body Diet. I haven’t gotten all the way through it but when I am back from vacation, I plan to start the diet and workout plan recommended.
I already am appreciating that she doesn’t write for a one size fits all body type. She identifies three types of dieters -—Modifiers, Gainers, and Maintainers—and the suggested approaches can be tailored depending on which one you resemble. From the reviews I have read, many mention the suggested approach is simple and you aren’t left feeling super hungry. Although I have heard that many times from many other fitness and wellness advocates, I trust Christmas. She comes from the same world I am used to – women who lift and aren’t afraid to be strong.
Some of the book is fluff and entertainment but, that’s all part of selling the approach to those who still believe thin is better than strong. Those that live and die by the number on the scale. Just like any diet or approach recommended, one size does not fit all. My advice is to read the book – ‘meet’ Christmas, learn her story and understand how she approaches diet and fitness. From there, you can tailor it or not – to meet your own health and wellness goals.
I’ll share my experience from time to time as I start to incorporate her advice in my own fitness and wellness approach…
Buy the BadAss Body Diet by Christmas Abbott directly from Amazon and let me know what you think!
Christmas Abbott: The Badass Body Book (Amazon Affiliate Link)
I have had a series of recent light bulb experiences that have thrown me for a loop and served me a helping of reality…
Ack! My Parents Are Getting Old
I have 4 brothers and sisters and we have a half sister that is quite a bit younger. My Dad has been married to her mother since I was 6 – so a very long time. Since the early 90’s, my dad and step mother have lived in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Their health is failing and they have had serious financial setbacks for a myriad of reasons that I won’t go into. The bottom line is they can’t afford to stay in the Phoenix area and none of the family lives nearby. So, they decided to move to Ohio to be closer to their daughter, my half sister and they arrived there last week.
Seeing pictures of them during their drive out to Ohio shocked me. You know how you have this vision of your parents? Well, my vision didn’t match what I saw and it was a jolting reminder that time marches on and my parents are aging. Scott and I are very lucky to have both sets of parents still around – but health problems are starting to creep up and the unstoppable hands of time are spinning.
Seeing them look so frail, was a great reminder to me why taking care of my health and wellness while I am young is important. Exercise, eating healthy and maintaining a positive attitude towards any situation will go far as you age. Trust me on that one! Seeing the differences in how my parents are aging based on their life outlook and how they have taken care of themselves has been very educational for me. It’s night and day.
Oh No! I’m Feeling My Age
Britt’s wedding this past weekend was beyond lovely. Not sure if I have mentioned, but Britt is a bit younger than me – and hence, the wedding crowd was young. It was one of those experiences where I felt old. Not old enough to be a granny or anything, but old in the sense that I really didn’t want to ‘hang’ out. It’s not a bad thing — the wedding guests were nice but I don’t enjoy drinking and getting shit faced and it takes me forever to recover!
On top of feeling old at the wedding, yesterday, my tween daughter sent me pics her friend took of her (included below). Talk about feeling my age – she looks so grown up. How the heck did my little baby become a young woman? And to boot, she is about an inch or less away from being taller than me. She just seems so grown up.
It’s inevitable-we age, grow up, become adults, get old and eventually we will pass. The reminders this past week have left me feeling somewhat blah and melancholy about things around me. I will get out of my funk but it was an abrupt wake up call…
Life is short.
Act with good intentions.
Say what you need to say to those you care most about.
Cherish the moments.
Laugh a lot.
I was talking to my sister this morning about all of these nutrition programs like Shakeology/21Day Fix/Beachbody I see threaded throughout my Facebook stream and the question that both of us kept asking was Are these programs sustainable long term?
Here is some food for thought to consider…
It’s not the healthiest way to gain control of your health and wellness.
As Dani Stout, a holistic coach, writes in her post An Unbiased Review of Shakeology,
Shakeology is a company that touts its products as superfoods, as the best nutrition available, and as a safe, healthy and effective way to lose weight.
Is this true? Well, not exactly. Will it help you lose weight? Yes. Is it safe? No. Is it healthy? No.
Isn’t Whey A Great Protein Choice? Dani explains that Shakeology’s whey protein is not organic nor from grass-fed cows. This may not be an important point in your mind. But knowledge is power. So, if you are aware that their whey is derived from cows that have been fed genetically modified corn and soy, and have made the decision that it doesn’t bother you then this is a moot point and let’s move on…
Another interesting thing she shares is the way Shakeology processes the whey. They use ion exchange to extract it. Take some time to learn about what that entails via her post. According to the info she shares, this process makes chemical changes to the efficacy of the processed whey. Again, if you are ok with this process – it’s another moot point.
Then, she goes on to talk about their vegan shakes,
While there are benefits to this shake, there are also a ton of downfalls. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, mostly due to the fact that it would be so irritating to the GI tract.
She further explores some of the recipes shared by Shakeology. Many of the recipes suggest using products like Fiber One and Jello, and many contain processed wheat flour, soy, aspartame, and food coloring. They are clearly not whole, natural ingredients which means they aren’t the healthiest option from a nutritional standpoint.
Will it help you long term?
You may be saying that all the info about whey and vegan protein source does not change your mind. Fair enough. Your goal may be to lose weight and a nutritional shake can do that. True but if that’s the case, let’s talk about long term success…
Can you see yourself doing this type of program for the rest of your life? There is no quick 21 day fix to get healthy. It’s the sad truth. It’s hard work. It means you have to change habits long term. Do you remember when Atkins was the program of choice for people wanting to lose weight? They lost weight all right, but as soon as they veered off course – the weight came back on.
A few years ago, I would have said that Paleo was the way to go. I lost weight, felt better and generally embraced it. After a few years being Paleo, I found that I couldn’t live strict Paleo and live the life I wanted. I decided to make some modifications so that it fit my lifestyle but also still aligned with my healthy goals.
The changes I made allow for me to go and eat pizza once in a while, put cheese on my salad now and then but it also means that I consider and consciously make food choices. I know what healthier options are available and know what certain foods will do to me – short term and long term – and can make an informed choice. I ask a lot of questions and request modifications to food whenever possible to make them healthier. Generally, I eat a lot of salad – loaded with green leafy veggies. I don’t drink soda or any other sugary drinks. I eat more than the recommend amount of protein daily based on my activity level to help develop more muscle. While, I pass on fast food like McD’s, it doesn’t mean I don’t go to my favorite burger joint on occasion.
My point is you don’t have to live a hermit’s life and avoid food. If you want to add in a protein shake on the regular and it fits with your overall goals – then that’s OK. The goal is to develop the habit of making healthier choices more of the time and stop eating shit food regularly. Will you be super model thin if you do it this way? No, probably not. But you won’t feel like crap all the time, and you will get healthier. Your skin will improve, and more importantly you will feel mentally and physically better!
Combine that with some regular exercise –we are talking about just moving your body (go for a walk, a hike, climb some stairs, do some squats.) every day. You will be healthier and start to develop habits that last. I have experienced it personally, so I know it’s true.
What drives you to change?
There is no quick fix. You have to want to change. A protein shake and a social media cheerleader aren’t going to rock your world. You have to want it, badly. You have to be determined and become a pit bull in your pursuit of it.
Here’s the story of someone I know who lacks the desire and drive to change,
He was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. To begin his treatment, he visited a nutritionist, and was given suggestions on how to make dietary changes to lose weight and control the newly acquired disease. So, what did he order for lunch the other day? Chicken Piccatta with a side of pasta. No vegetable side, no smaller portion – and this isn’t just lunch. He has made few if any nutritional changes overall.
When I asked him about it, he says he can’t give up pasta or bread because he’s Italian. Bullshit – he doesn’t want to give them up to improve his health.
A serious health issue like diabetes should be enough to spur change. It’s a perfect example of someone who doesn’t want to change or isn’t ready. Of course, there are deeper issues that go along with making changes, not to mention it’s downright hard. But, if a potentially deadly illness doesn’t wake you up, I don’t get it.
What’s the key takeaway?
I’m not telling you to avoid programs and nutritional supplements like Shakeology. If they meet your needs and work for you – awesome – but make sure you consider what’s going in your body and your long term goals before jumping in!
Do your own research and make up your own mind based on facts. Don’t feel pressured or dazzled by all of the weight loss stories, the motivational images and other gimmicks they share on their social media streams. Keep in mind that while those ‘coaches‘ may truly believe in the products they are selling, they are doing it to make money.
A few months ago, my tween daughter told me about a beauty subscription service called Ipsy.
With infinite beauty product combinations in the marketplace, choosing the best items for your needs can be a challenge!
Each month, subscribers will receive a beautiful Glam Bag with deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products. Members can watch and play along with the stylists with the same products that they are using. All for only $10 a month.
I’m not a huge makeup wearer or someone who likes to experiment with daily different looks but I do like trying new stuff and staying current on trends when possible. And I also think getting a monthly package of beauty stuff in the mail monthly is fun. HB likes it I have given her some of the goodies that came in the Glam Bag. That’s the other thing – the samples and products come in a cute little ‘glam bag’ that can be reused.
The other thing I thought was cool was that the products are customized for you to some extent. You take a short survey when you create your account and based on your answers, you are put into certain style categories. They can be changed anytime online but when your glam bag arrives, many of the products are included based on your category.
It’s been 3 months now and for the most part I have been pretty happy with the products I have received. The June glam bag was a bit of a disappointment in that the products were mostly sample sizes and nothing really had a ‘WOW’ factor to it.
Would I recommend a Monthly Beauty Subscription Service like Ipsy?
I have actually gone out and purchased at least one of the products sent to me because I liked it so much – so it has definitely been worth it for me. In my mind, for 10 bucks a month, it’s a nice little monthly package of fun beauty products to treat your self to. If you have a tween/teen daughter or adult daughter who is into wearing makeup and trying new beauty products on the regular, it’s a fun gift idea!
There are a few beauty subscription services like Ipsy out there. I am sure each has pros and cons and appear to be available for around the same price and offer the same sort of products, so do your research and see which one best suits your needs!
I’ve been quiet on here the past week or so. Nothing really going on and nothing to really inspire me to write and as I have always said – if it has to be forced, then it’s not right.
I’m about to head out of town to see a dear friend of mine get married. Brittany was my intern at K12 years ago, and then we hired her and she worked for me for a few more years. Have you ever met someone and you just clicked with them right away? That was me and Britt Britt. I instantly felt connected to her and we have always had each other’s back. At K12, in our department, that was really important since it was such a cut throat/mean environment with everyone trying to one up everyone else. Looking back now, the best thing about working there was Brittany. She lives far away now which bums me out but I love that girl —
Have you noticed lately that it seems people seem to be over sensitive and over reactive about everything lately? I get some of the bigger issues but someone says an off color joke or makes an ignorant comment and the internet explodes. What happened to saying “Hey that person is an asshole” and moving on. Nowadays people rally together and the media grabs hold and before you know it -that person has been financially or publicly ruined or at least shamed. We all say stupid shit — some more than others and it’s not a crime. We are a free country and free to think and believe what we want to believe. When a celebrity says something super stupid – I don’t feel the need to publicly shame them. I just think to myself –well, they are out of touch, spoiled asshats and I move on. I may or may not buy their records, or give my money to their causes or movies. That’s my choice but it is still a free country isn’t it and we are FREE to say stupid comments without fear of what will happen publicly.
One of my favorite sayings is Grab some popcorn and watch what happens…
I have found asshat people tend to be their own worst enemy. Ultimately they will bring themselves down. Maybe you have a co-worker that is lazy and arrogant. Sit back and watch him hang himself. It may take time but it will happen. Same goes for mean spirited, nasty people. You don’t need to help them, they do the job themselves.
Is your kid athletic? Do they ride a skateboard or bike? Both of you read this article: Teen fights for his life after skateboard crash
“Robin wants everyone to remember this: “It doesn’t matter how old you are … you’d be a lot cooler if you wore a helmet instead of putting your family and friends and loved ones through this.”
Robin said she did not push him to wear his helmet because she wanted to be the cool mom, and she does not want anyone else to feel the heartache she does.”
I’m sure we have all been there – and made exceptions to rules that we know are in place for our kid’s safety. Some are more dangerous than others. Never compromise on them wearing a helmet!
A friend sent this article to me today: What Happens When You Follow Your Passion and it got me thinking more about how to do that… I’ve been struggling with finding a path to explore what I am passionate about. It’s frustrating for sure but as quotes say – sometimes the hardest part of any journey is right before a breakthrough…
Jury Duty Fun
Yesterday, I had a busy day. First, I had my turn at serving jury duty. After a few hours of sitting there and the selection process, I was dismissed as a juror for a criminal trial. I’ve never been in a court room, let alone seen how it all goes down. Just like on TV, it was pretty slow, stuffy, rigid and old fashioned. I couldn’t help but notice that everything in the court room was wood and rigid. Sitting there for an hour or so was not what I would consider comfortable.
During the selection process, the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney each took their turn asking generally benign questions. It’s so interesting to see how it all goes down and how people filter questions differently. But man it goes slow and seems to be very low tech. Anyway, I was dismissed for whatever reason and now I can say”been there, done that’ (until the next time…)
Later in the evening, I met up with my dear friend Mastaneh and we drove to [SolidCore]. You may remember me sharing my experience doing a class last March, when we hit up the one in Ballston.
What is [solidcore]?
Someone online described it as “Pilates on Steroids”. Ive never done Pilates, but I can tell you it was the kind of workout where I literally hated it while doing it but when it was over – i felt great and wanted to do it again to challenge myself to get the hang of it. You use a megaformer machine for the 50 minute class. It’s all slow, controlled movements focusing on core muscles. The classes are kept small so the instructor can give everyone the attention needed. Depending on the movement, you would do a 4-6 count to ensure you are really working the muscle.
This one just opened in the Mosaic District in Fairfax and we brought along some extra pals. Let’s just say that it was as hard as I remember and I was not the only one of that opinion. Even my boxing instructor, Alex, who joined us agreed.
When we were done, it was like a sweat festival. Not only was I drenched with sweat, my muscles were twitching for some time afterwards. I am definitely feeling the results of all that slow, deliberate core stuff today. Amd after the class, the instructor told us how great we were, especially because we were beginners and it was because of how strong we all were.
Thoughts about [solidcore]
I wish that [Solidcore] was closer and/or in Loudoun County. Right now they are focused on the immediate DC area. I’m sure the demographic is good there but Loudoun County is the richest county in the country so that should count for something.
I’m not usually one to balk at certain things cost wise. I believe that for me – my health and fitness is worth paying for if it works. I could pay 20 bucks a month at a regular gym but I know it’s not going to work long term for me. I need to workout with others and have an instructor lead the way. I’m willing to pay a bit more for it because it works. A lot of folks pay that low monthly membership at their gym but rarely go or go and do the same thing all the time – seeing little to any results. That is a waste of money no matter how cheap.
[solidcore] is pretty expensive even to me- up to $34/class although they are running specials. The classes are limited because everyone works on a reformer machine, so I get why they charge more but it still seems a bit more than I would be willing to pay on a regular basis.
The instructor was great and it was a great workout. Very different than the other stuff I do but different in a great way. I would definitely add a class or two into my regular overall monthly training if it were closer. It’s easy to see how strong, limber and flexible you can become by doing it regularly.
Stories of kindness and bravery are the stories we should be sharing and talking about more…
Dubbed the “British Schindler,” Winton helped 669 Jewish children avoid a grim fate by smuggling them out of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.