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Posts by Stephy
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!