Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vacation/Cancer Update Post

If you've been wondering where I've been, I'm on vacation.   It's my annual It's Christmas week and the kids have a week off from school and I don't know what the hell else to do so we're skiing trip.  

My last radiation treatment was December 23.   Since then I first got caught up in the whole Christmas Eve/Day whirlwind, then we left for New Hampshire on December 26. 

I have to say, it was the perfect way to end it.    After my last radiation treatment, I didn't have a moment to think about what I'd just been through because of the whole holiday thing, and now I'm away from my normal routine.  If I was at home, there would be constant reminders.

Even better at getting my mind off what I just went through, this year I started to volunteer in the adaptive skiing program we participate in for my son.    Thus far I've worked with two students and it's been a wonderful experience. 

Less than one week out from my last treatment I'm already feeling less burned, and much of the fatigue has dissipated as well.

Even better, my psyche is on the mend as well.  

Unfortunately, there isn't much snow up here in New Hampshire.   While we've been able to go alpine skiing, Nordic is not possible.   

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bad Eating

I have to admit that although I try to be fastidious in my eating year-round, I always manage to slip up during the holidays.   I love sweets, including cookies, cakes, candy and chocolates, and although I only eat the "good" stuff (nothing too artificial), if I let myself, I can really go overboard.  The holidays is when I'm inundated with sweets, and most of it is the really, really, yummy, home-made variety.

How can you not indulge when confronted with entire plateful of home-made cookies?

Now, in previous years, I've been able to hold myself in check.    I was able to indulge, but limit the indulging.

This year, I have seen myself go overboard one too many times.    At my annual cookie exchange, one of my girlfriends made those peanut butter cookies with a Hershey's kiss on top.     I ate almost everyone I brought home, and would have finished them if my daughter didn't come home and scarf down the remaining ones.    The rest of the cookies where safely bagged into little cellophane bags for gift giving because I could move on to another cookie to indulge in. 

Then, my sister-in-law sent an entire 4 POUND TIN  of David's Cookies to us as a gift.    After overindulging in chocolate chip, peanut butter chip and white chocolate macademia chip cookies, I sent the entire tin of cookies into work with my husband to get it out of the house.

And, I can't seem to stop myself.   I'm on the tail end of my radiation treatments for breast cancer (only 2 treatments left), and I'm guessing that the additional stress of cancer has weakened my normal resolve.

Worse, I've been indulging in dairy more than I should.

Now, anyone who has been reading my blog for a while probably knows that I had to swear off dairy when I realized it didn't really agree with me.   On the advise of a naturapath, I went cold-turkey off dairy a few years ago to see if it would clear up a chronic post-nasal drip I had.

Well, going off dairy not only cleared up my sinus problems (my allergies actually improved as well), but I also noticed that my constant chronic flatulence cleared up as well.   I come from an extremely gassy family, and just thought it was something I had to deal with.

But, after a few weeks of indulging in dairy, my chronic post-nasal drip is back and let's just say you'd want to think twice before hanging out in a sealed room with me.

I know I have to get back to my usual strict food regime, but right now I just don't have the will-power to do it.   It's Winter, there's hardly any day-light, it's the holidays, and I'm being treated for cancer.    

I guess that's what New Year's resolutions are for.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Vegan or Not to Vegan, that is the Question

Today at lunch, the topic of becoming vegan/vegetarian came up again.

I was out with a group of gal friends and we all have teen-agers, and one of the hot trends coursing through this demographic is veganism and vegetarianism.  

Now, on the surface this sounds good because pretty much all the literature points to a mostly plant-based diet as healthy.   But, you can be a vegan and eat a completely junk diet, and that seems to be what these kids are doing. 

They're vegetarians, but they're not actually eating vegetables.  Instead, they're subsisting on carbs, and a lot of junk carbs at that.   One friend detailed how her "vegetarian" daughter was eating microwave Mac N Cheese five nights a week for dinner. 

We also had a good laugh over another friend's son who has never ate a salad in his life but now eats several "vegan" candy bars a day.

Now my teen-age soon is autistic, and there's no way he's going to ever be a vegetarian.    Let's just say that I doubt he understands where that hamburger comes from, much less make an ethical decision about whether to eat it or not. 

I myself have had the "should I be vegan/vegetarian" conversation with myself numerous times.   I eat mostly vegan/vegetarian because I believe that eating too much meat, dairy etc. is bad for one's health in the long run.

But, I've never been able to persuade myself to make that full-blown leap in veganism or vegetarianism for several reasons:

1.   I actually enjoy, meat, fish and dairy, and while I want to limit my intake, don't really want to completely restrict myself.

2.  I have zero empathy for animals.   I don't care that one died to be on my plate, and I have no problem with people hunting them.  In fact, if someone showed up on my doorstep and offered to shoot the deer that are eating my garden, I'd kiss them.

3.  I don't want to be a food pain in the ass (or FPIA as I call them).  I don't want anyone to feel they have to cook special or do anything special for me.  If I go to some one's home and they serve pork, I smile and eat (but usually not a lot just enough to keep the hostess off my back.)

4.  I'm not sure where to draw the line without being a hypocrite.  I.e., if I'm supposedly so ethical then, does that mean I can't wear leather shoes?   What about Jello?  Can I eat Jello?   How about fur?   I really can't stand that fake stuff, which is bad for the environment in any event.  

To say I won't eat animals for ethical reasons, seems to lead to the idea that I must then avoid ALL products that are animal based-not just those consumed.  

And, why should animals prevail over what's best for the environment?    Artificial man-made materials are often more environmentally damaging than animal-based products.  

After pondering this on, and on, and on, I usually just decide to keep eating an omnivore diet so that I don't have to think about these things.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stand and Wrap

Tis' the season to wrap, and wrap and wrap.   

Wrapping gifts (and creating gifts), takes up a major portion of my time every December.    

I used to sit while doing it.    I'd set up a wrapping station on the coffee table in my family room, turn on the TV, and sit on the sofa and wrap (and can easily watch a whole movie wrapping).

This year I changed things up a bit.   In response to all the news reports this year as to how sitting is so bad for you, I resolved to wrap all my presents standing.

It was fairly easy to do.  I moved the wrapping station to my kitchen island, which, luckily, also has a TV.   Every time I found some time to wrap, I'd find a good Christmas movie and wrap away.   

Since it usually takes me anywhere between 3-4 hours to wrap all my presents, that's time that I did not spend sitting.

Next step, finding a spot where I can stand and type.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cancer Update

The good news is that I only have five more radiation treatments left, and by this time a week from now, I'll be all done with that phase of my treatment for breast cancer.

The bad news is that I have what amounts to a REALLY bad sunburn on my one boob, and a completely mismatched looking set of breasts.

The mismatched boobs reinforces my desire to remain with my husband.   There's absolutely no way I ever want to get naked for the first time with anyone again.

At least my husband saw me in my glory days before the butt and boobs drooped.   Now I'd have to explain the reasons for the multitude of scars I've acquired through the years including the huge smiling C-section souvenir and the big gash under my arm where the lymph nodes were removed.  

It's a good thing that I actually like the guy. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

OK, You have No Excuses

Stairs will get you there faster than an elevator.  Here's the deal:

If you think you don't have time to take the stairs, you may be out of an excuse, according to a study published Monday.
Researchers at one Canadian hospital found that when they had doctors take the stairs instead of the elevator, it saved each an average of 15 minutes out of the workday.

The stairs were more efficient, it seemed, since there was no wait-time for a lift, according to findings reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

In general, experts recommend that people find ways to add "incidental" exercise to their daily lives. That includes small steps like parking farther away from your destination and bypassing the elevator in favor of the stairs.

But many people habitually head straight for the elevator, noted Dr. Thomas Wilson, the senior researcher on the new study. And the assumption that it saves time may be one reason.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sound Walking

 I'm very fortunate in that I live just a few miles from Long Island Sound.  

With the daily radiation, I've gotten into the habit of taking walks along the Sound prior to going in for my daily dose.   Whenever the weather is nice, I'm out there walking, alone or with friends.  

It's a great way to clear my head and calm myself.    Westport has an amazing beach area called Compo Beach.  I usually park my car there and walk along the sound, turning in one spot to climb a steep hill where I get to enjoy a beautiful vista, then I head back down the hill, and walk back to my car.

I'm a lucky girl.

Monday, December 12, 2011

You have a Yoga Body

In the last 2 months or so, I've had several people tell me that I have a "yoga body."  

Now, I practice yoga asanas at last 3 times a week, often more, so I am always grateful that my hard work has been paying off physically.  

Before and during my treatment for cancer, yoga classes were offered to me by my doctors (and their staff) as a way to "cope" with my illness.     When I informed them that I already had an established practice, many of them said "I can tell, you have a yoga body."

But beyond the physical benefits, my practice has helped me cope.   I made keeping my yoga regime intact during this ordeal a priority, and, on the days I am not doing asana, I "practice" my sitting meditation, so technically, I am now practicing yoga everyday.  

Even on the days immediately after my surgery, I was back at my Shala, practicing asana.   It may not have been the full physical practice I regularly do, but just moving and breathing made me feel better.  

My practice helped me to heal.

And for that, I'm grateful.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bear Mode is Back

It's that time of year again.   The sun comes up later in the morning, goes down earlier in the evening, and all I want to do is sleep.

This happens to me every year.   Despite every effort I make to get to bed earlier, when it's time to get out of bed in the morning, I just don't want to move. 

If I didn't have work to do, kids to get to school and a house to run I think I would just stay in bed until sometime after the sun came up.   At that point, I'd roll over and read a book for a couple of hours, then take a nap, then read a little more, and then just go to bed for the night.

I don't think I'd even need to eat.   All I want to do is stay in bed, under the covers and let the day slide by. 

Wouldn't it be nice?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We Need This

A new organization dedicated to food and environmental reporting

Let's face it, food, health and environmental issues are seriously under-reported in our current system of "news reporting." 

I mean, do you ever watch those "morning news" shows on the major networks?   Between celebrity gossip, advice on what to wear to office parties, and arranging weddings on-air, the closest thing you get to actual news reporting is when they briefly mention that a bunch of Republican talking heads debated in Iowa the previous night (but don't bother with you with informing you with what they actually said.)    

And, cable news is no better.   They'll tell you about the debate, and even show you video clips of what the debaters said before the commentators launch into their own tirades about it all means, and why candidate X is never going to win the nomination (and let's not forget Fox News extrapolating on endlessly as to why the Muppets are communists!!)

(I swear to god, you have to be seriously brain dead to take Fox News seriously.   What got me about this rant, was not just that they did it, but every time you thought the rant was finally ending, they brought out another "commentator.")

When you do get any food or health news in the "news" it's usually just some cursory report about some new study saying that peas are good for you (without bothering to tell you that the funding for the report came from the National Pea Producers' Association.).

So when I read about a start up which is going to do good-old-fashioned investigating reporting I immediately "liked" it on Facebook.  

Here's what they say their mission will be:

“Over the past four decades, coverage of food and agriculture has waned in the mainstream press at the same time as the impact of a more industrialized food system on public health has become increasingly severe,” said Ruth Reichl, editorial board member of the Food & Environment Reporting Network, Editorial Advisor to Gilt Taste, Editor-at-Large at Random House, and former Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine. “Without detailed investigations into food and agriculture, our understanding of humanity’s impacts on the environment is incomplete and related policy changes ineffective.” 
I can't wait to see future reports.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ten Cereals to Avoid Feeding Your Kids

HuffPo has a list of the 10 Sugariest Cereals.   Not surprisingly, it includes standards such as Captain Crunch, Apple Jacks and Fruit Loops.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Efficiencies/Inefficiencies of Locavorism

I've been a devotee of local farms and farmer's markets since before they even had a word for it.   Being a locavore may be all the rage now, but I was doing when people would think you were crazy for just not heading into the Stop & Shop to get all your food in one place.

Well, two bloggers are now debating the efficiencies/inefficiencies of being a locavore. 

Both make two points.

But, I've bought local primarily for three reasons.

First, I like to keep my area pretty rural.

I grew up in an area of Jersey which was, at the time, rural.  Now there isn't a real farm anywhere within 50 miles.

Why?   The farmers couldn't make any money and sold out their land to become shopping malls, housing developments and condos.

As I told my friends years ago, if you like seeing that farm everyday as your driving around, then you sure as hell better stop there at least once a week and actually buy something from that farmer.

The other reason, I like to meet the people who actually grow my food and find out how they grow it.  Something can have the word "organic" or "natural" slapped on it, and it can be pretty much meaningless. 

Meet the farmer, however, and he'll tell you exactly what he sprays on those vegetables, or what the chickens that laid those eggs cost.

Third, it's cheaper to eat organic and natural if you buy directly from the farmer.   Once you introduce that middle man, you're paying $5 for a dozen free-range, organic eggs.   Buy from the farmer and the price drops to $4.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yoga Glow

This weekend, I was fortunate to spend most of my time in a yoga workshop with teacher-extraordinaire, Beryl Bender Birch.   That's a picture of Beryl up top on the left, with my regular yoga teacher Val on the right.

How do you like their shirts?   It says "Celebrate Impermanence" and I bought one for myself.

The workshop was an early Christmas present to myself.  I thought with the whole cancer-thang going on it would be therapeutic to spend three days immersed in yoga.

And, it was.

I'm still on a bit of a yoga high right now, and hope I don't come down for at least another day or two.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Well, at Least One Boob is Looking Good

After today I am officially half-way through my radiation treatments. 


My radiologist recommended 32 treatments, and after today I have 16 treatments under my belt.

My last scheduled treatment is December 23.

Now, when prior to starting treatment, I was told that radiation gives the treated breast a bit of a "lift."

Half-way through I have to say that my one breast is looking very perky.   It hasn't been this high since I was in my 20s.

So, here's what I got going on right now.  I have one breast that is about a full cup size smaller than the other and considerably "higher" than the other.  

Plus, the radiated breast has quite a tan right now.

It's quite the picture, I have one larger, droopy, white breast, and another tanned, smaller, perky breast.

But you know what my husband says when I show him my breasts? 

"Uh, I don't see anything different." 

And, he really doesn't see any different.