Tuesday Food Day 1

I am sure you have all had the same experience as me at any given point in your life, when you go into the doctor’s office and they weigh you and look at you and tell you how much healthier you would be if maybe you lost a little weight. Now when you are a breast cancer patient they get real serious about this. The data apparently is undeniable that the heavier you are the greater the risk of recurrence.

breastcancer.org gives the following statistics:

Compared to healthy-weight women:

  • women who were obese when diagnosed had a 30% higher risk of recurrence and a 50% higher risk of dying from breast cancer no matter the characteristics of the cancer
  • obese and overweight women diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer had worse disease-free survival (the length of time a woman lives without the cancer growing) and worse overall survival (the length of time a woman lives with or without the cancer growing)

The journal of Clinical Oncology gave this information in an article from 2014:

In conclusion, the growing number of observational studies consistently show that maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active may confer additional improvements in breast cancer survival beyond surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.13

 

More and more research is coming out with how having a lower BMI helps prevent some cancers and some recurrences. So with my doc gave me a stern talk and told me to get more exercise and to lower my BMI. Given this information I have come up with some goals. As part of this journey I will be working on three main elements of my life.

  1. Continuing to get fit. Making sure my body is always ready to do any challenge I feel like trying.
  2. I want to work on my mind. I have less patience than I used to and I want to work on that. I want to spend more time enjoying every moment with my family.
  3. I want to work on eating more vegetable and helping my family to do the same.

 

Now for reference I am not a foodie or a chef by any means. I am not the biggest fan of cooking and my dishes come out fairly mediocre. So any recipe I try better be easy! I also do not have a distinguishing palate so I can only say if a dish is good, bad, or maybe needs something. For the life of me will not be able to identify what is needed although I will always start with garlic!   Each week I will try some new recipes from around the internet mostly as I am too lazy to get in a cookbook and with four kids it is way easier to search on my phone here and there than it is to get out some books and not have them lose my spot. This week I went back to kale chips. Now I didn’t exactly use a recipe from online as I had done this before. However the last time I had done it I used parmesan cheese unfortunately one of the children had left it out and so I was left to improvise. Not a good spot for somebody who is not a great cook, but a common occurrence for a mother of four children. I decided to use this time as an experiment to get not only myself but my kids to eat more veggies.

First I started out with a nice bunch of organic Kale. I forgot to take a picture until after the end of the week so my kale looks a little weak but I will replace this picture with a nice one as soon as I buy more kale.

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I set the oven to 275°F. While the oven was warming up I washed two kale leaves and carefully dried. then I cut the main stem off and sliced them into bite sized pieces.

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I divided the kale into four bowls and sprinkled the will a small amount of olive oil, approximately 1 tbsp. Then I mixed the kale to make sure it was thoroughly covered. Next I added one of four different spices to each bowl: salt and pepper, garlic powder, taco seasoning and wasabi. I just sprinkled until they looked fairly covered after stirring it up. See this is where I fall down in the cooking category. Net time I will try to measure it out.   Oops. I then lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper as I hate messy clean up. I spread the contents of one bowl onto the cookie sheet and placed them in the oven.

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I let them cook for about 20 min and they came out perfectly crisp! Yay a win for me! Now for the results of the experiment.

  1. Salt and pepper- not too bad. The kids were not impressed. So I ate them.
  2. Garlic powder- very garlicky as I let one of my kiddos add it. The kids liked this one the best but agreed it was a little too garlicky. I ate them.
  3. Taco seasoning- this one turned out surprisingly well and was the second most liked flavor. I also ate these.
  4. Wasabi-the worst. I am not sure what I did wrong but these were horrible! There was no wasabi flavor or heat at all. I looked forward to these the most but was sadly disappointed.   I kept eating these hoping the next bite would be better. I was wrong.

In the end the kids were not impressed, but I remembered how much I love kale chips! I would however go back to parmesan as even with this experiment parmesan was the best. Unless maybe I added parmesan and garlic! Either way kale chips are super easy and can be a fun experiment!

 

Well that is it for the first food related post! I hope to do at least one a week and hopefully they will get better and more organized! Please comment and let me know what worked and what didn’t!

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Scars of accomplishments

This week has been a reminder of why I exercise. Alan Rickman and David Bowie both passed away from cancer. It is another not so subtle reminder that this lovely disease has made its mark on my life. But this is where I choose to let it end. I acknowledge my fears and concerns that my life may be shortened as these peoples’ lives were.   If I were so inclined I might even have a good cry. Then I let it go. I look in the mirror at my jagged scar on my chest and I remind myself how it looks like Harry Potter’s scar. Just like it served dually as a reminder of what could have happened it also serves to remind me of what I can do. Then I raise my arms and check out how my guns are coming along. Yes I have a slight obsession with my musculature because those muscles tell me what I can do.

I can swing around 40lb bags of pellets fairly easily.

I can easily pick up all four of my children. Not all at once but every now and then I lift three at a time.

I can heave around the Christmas tree I cut down in my yard.

I can do around 25 push-ups should I feel inclined.

I can literally hang around the playground with my children.

I can see my leg muscles becoming more defined and in them I can see what strength they have given me.

I can hike a 14,000 ft mountain in Colorado and they will take me on many more!

I can run 13.1 miles by the ocean in California or in the mountains by my house.

I can run around and goof off with my children on the playground.

I can do squats while holding my 80lb daughter showing her that strength and love will often coexist.

I can take on any challenge placed in front of me or more importantly chosen by me.

So I will head outside when I can and even when I feel I can’t because I must let those muscles be free to remind me what I can do.

 

 

The Background

To understand where I am now you must first understand where I have been.  I believe that everything in our past leads us to be able to accomplish what we must do in the present.  So here it goes.

In the summer of 2012 I was sitting pretty.  I had just turned 34 and had celebrated my youngest child’s 2nd birthday. I had just lost a few pound before going on a dream family vacation to Florida.  My four children seemed to be loving the beach, the ocean, and the pool. I was still nursing my youngest at two and I was even enjoying the ocean! I have a great fear of drowning and have always sunk in water so this was a huge accomplishment! I had received my first job offer as a math teacher and was getting an even more promising job opportunity while we were there.   I felt pretty healthy as I could keep up with my kids and even carry my two youngest around at the same time almost everywhere. Granted their total weight was a whopping 40 pounds, but I could do it for long distances!

Our return led to a great change in all that bliss. I breast lump that I had been watching for two years seemed a little different, but given that I had been watching it for two years I was not worried. Luckily my doctor was. This began the worst health year of my life as I was diagnosed with stage 2 or 3 breast cancer.   We don’t know the exact staging as I choose to start with chemotherapy first rather than surgery which is where they usually stage cancer. I had 6 rounds of chemo, a mastectomy, more chemo, a hysterectomy, and radiation. I tried a few osteoporosis medications but they left me crippled with joint pain. Now I am just on an anti estrogen medication.

I have a completely changed body from where I was 3.5 years ago. I have persistent joint pain in my hands and feet from osteoporosis medication. Some days I cannot grip things tight enough to open things due to the pain. I must ask my children for help or use scissors. My left chest and shoulder musculature are week and scar filled. I must be careful not to have any wounds or scratches on my left arm to avoid infections as I have no lymph nodes for that arm. I must also not wear anything tight on that side to make sure I have no fluid accumulation in that arm. My math brain is mush. I have a hard time doing simple calculations. I had to quit my job to focus on treatment and my children and I can no longer return to teaching as I have such a hard time with simple math. Teenagers generally don’t trust a math teacher who has to use a calculator for everything.

My body is different and so am I. I had a strong desire to spend a lot of time outside after the treatment was over and so I started hiking. I live in the mountains and finished treatment in the spring so this was a cheap easy activity to do. I had lost a great deal of musculature so the start of my hiking was slow as I gradually rebuilt my muscles. I had to be sure to workout frequently or I would lose what small gain I had made. I worked toward a goal of hiking a 14,000ft peak in Colorado. As I worked toward that goal I had to fit in short hikes where I could and one day I discovered I had a short amount of time before the sun went down. So I ran a few sections of the trail and discovered that running wasn’t altogether terrible! So I continued running with my dog who seemed to love the activity far more than I. The more I ran the less pain I noticed in my feet and hands! This activity that I had avoided my whole life seemed to be the only thing to keep my pain down in my joints!

I jumped in with two feet and started running 4 days a week. At first I would just jog as far as I could and then walk until I felt I could run again. I repeated this until I could run most of the way down my road. As soon as I had that down I had to work on the big hill that led back to my house! Once I conquered that, which took months, I decided that this new activity was really fun and my pain had virtually disappeared. Thus began my running life.

Since then I have run one half marathon and am training for a trail half marathon now. I have spent many hours reading and researching nutrition. I have become a vegetarian and every day I work towards becoming healthier to be around for my children and to help them to become healthier. This blog will be about my journey to better fitness and health and how I can help my family in the process. I hope that posting will help keep me trying new recipes and setting new exercise goals!