Archive for the ‘health’ Category

A Dabble in Essential Oils

The Big Man caught a bit of whatever is going around. The Kid has a touch of it, too. I was determined that I wasn’t going to get it … but that was just crazy talk.

So we all had a bit of congestion/stuffy nose, and some coughing. Nothing too serious, but not healthy, either.

The biggest problem was that we’d wake each other (or ourselves) coughing.

Segue toโ€”

I have heard and read a fair amount on the amazing properties of essential oils and have just never given them a try.

But with this coughing problem, I remembered a tip I’d seen for shutting down nighttime coughing with essential oil. What better time to try it out?

We used eucalyptus oil. It is not advised to use it straight, as it can cause skin irritation (and probably other issues, but I don’t know a lot about it). The only oil on the list of those recommended that we had on hand was olive, so that’s what I used.

I put two tablespoons of olive oil in a little container with a lid (for storage) and added 15 drops of eucalyptus oil. At bedtime, I took a cloth wipe from the stash, rubbed some of the oil mixture onto The Kid’s feet, and put socks on him. I did the same to myself.

We both slept really well!

But his socks chafed (they had an elastic band in them), so I didn’t put them (or the oil) on again the following night. He didn’t sleep well.

Next night, new socks, used the oil: good sleep.

There it is, friends! That is all the evidence I need.

I posted about it on Facebook, and a friend said that she uses a diffuser instead of a topical application. Haven’t tried it, so I can’t say. You would need to be more amenable to the smell for that, but many of these oils smell really nice.

Give it a try!

I’m Making A Quilt for Christmas

I’ve decided to make a quilt for myself for Christmas. I have the following patches that I am carefully piecing together:

  • old (pre-cancer, post-college) eating habits
  • new (post-baby) eating habits
  • new (post-baby) schedule/time available
  • old recipes
  • new recipes
  • old exercise habits (spin! lifting, swim-bike-run)
  • new exercise habits (more at home, more time-efficient)

Some of those pieces are tattered and need to be patched before I can set them in place. Some of them are completely theoretical and need to be measured and cut still. Some of them are already stitched together.

But I know what the quilt looks like when it’s done. It’s a healthy, balanced life where I and the others in my house are well-nourished.

This is not something that will be easy to put together, but I know it’s possible! Change IS possible! I know, for the most part, what I need to do to make this happen.

It is my Christmas gift to myself.

So, on Christmas, my pre-pregnancy clothes all will fit (I’m into about half of my pants right now). My energy will be higher. I will be on my way to my pre-pregnancy strength (and from there, onto pre-chemo strength). I will be looking for a new 5K personal record in 2013. I will be back on the path that chemo both interrupted and fueled.

What are you giving yourself for Christmas?

Curbing Holiday Weight Gain

Depending on which study you look at, Americans gain an average of one to 15 pounds over the holidays. Obviously, gaining 10 to 15 pounds is not good, especially in the span of two months. But just one pound? What harm is that?

The problem with gaining one pound (or more)ย is that most people don’t take it back off. So let’s say you start gaining a pound per season when you’re 20 but the rest of the year, you maintain. By the time you’re 40, you’ve gained 20 pounds, have a spare tire, and have increased your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

There are some things you can do to enjoy the holidays and the treats that come inherent with the season and still not gain weight.

The most important is a shift in mindset. If you believe that you’re going to gain weight, that’s just how it is, there’s nothing you can do about it, well … I can’t help you. (“I want to do it but I can’t” falls into that same category.)

If you are already past Step 1 (above) and would like to learn more tips and tricks to avoid holiday weight gain, join a community of like-minded people who encourage and congratulate each other, then I have a program that you would be interested in

It’s calledย “I’m Gaining Nuttin’ for Christmas” and is all about maintenance. There are in-person groups in the Phoenix area as well as several online groups. But here’s the best part: if you have a group of people who want to do it together (you and a few friends, you and your family, you and some coworkers, you and some people from church, you and some people …. you get the idea), contact me, and we can set up a time and place for your group to do it together! This means, of course, that your group doesn’t need to all live together – we can set up an online group. And, as the organizer of the group, you get your fees waived.

Click through to go to the website for complete details and to register. The sooner you do it, the more time you have to work on it!

Breast Cancer Awareness: Happy Birthday To Me!

Today, I turn 37. As my birthday gift to myself, I am allowing myself to ramble ๐Ÿ™‚

When I was in my late 20s and starting to get fit, people who were roughly my age now told me to wait until I was their age โ€” then I would understand.

Now, creeping into my late 30s, people ten years older still tell me to wait until I’m their age โ€” then I’ll understand.

This is what I understand:ย those people have given up. They are blaming on age what is mainly a lifestyle problem.

I grew up eating crap. Even most home-cooked meals were skewed towards meat and heavily skewed towards highly processed crappy (delicious) carbs. We ate a lot of fast food. We watched a lot of TV. I was always chubby.ย You can’t say that I’ve just always eaten like this or grew up active.

In college, with the freedom to eat as I so chose โ€” and a local dairy with $1 homemade ice cream pints โ€” it only got worse. My slightly “big-boned” body got really fat. I loved all types of sweets. I believe I’ve been quoted as saying that “I don’t eat all that healthy shit.”ย You can’t say I don’t understand having a sweet tooth or a love of everything fried.

I changed slowly. What I fueled myself with started to look different. I joined a gym and read books on stationary bikes when I had free time. Then I started to spin. And take other classes. I started to feel better and look better, and I was hooked.

After finally hitting a healthy weight, having a body that didn’t jiggle, being strong, I was diagnosed with cancer.

I had five invasive procedures (three with anaesthetics), six months of chemotherapy, along with a six-month cocktail of other drugs, nearly a month of radiation. The cancer was decimated, and so was the rest of my body.

I started to eat well and exercise again. I started to reshape myself. You can’t say I’ve never started over.

Most breast cancers โ€” indeed, most any cancers โ€” can be prevented by taking care of yourself. Eat well, exercise often, maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke.

(As an aside: I mean a real healthy weight, not an American healthy weight, which, according to most of us, is at least 15-20 pounds over.ย Most people are in denial about their body and about their diet. I have had people telling me I am “skinny” since I was about three weeks postpartum. Nowhere close to skinny. While I’m not a huge fan of BMI, it is a decent indicator of some health measures for the average Joe.ย My BMI is too high. People look at me and scoff, saying that BMI must be wrong if mine is too high. No โ€” you’re just used to looking at really fat people. I’m less fat, so I look thin. You also know that I eat a fairly healthy diet and exercise regularly, which skews your vision. And, in some cases, just because I’m less fat than you are doesn’t make me a healthy weight.)

Post-cancer, I completed three sprint triathlons. The first one was amazing. My pride in training and completing it has been rivaled only once in my lifetime (see: senior recital). My body was getting stronger, and then…

I got pregnant. Most of the time, I didn’t go crazy on junk food. (Ladies, this is the time in your life when, more than ever, you need to eat well!) But there were weeks at a time when it seemed I couldn’t possibly feel full. I ate half of a large pizza one night and wasn’t stuffed. That is crazy. I know growing a fetus requires more fuel, but not that much!

Also, while pregnant, my body was tired. A three-mile bike ride took about half an hour and was exhausting. No exercise for six weeks postpartum, and then I climbed back on the wagon. Again.

I’m getting closer to my pre-pregnancy body … and then I’ll be continuing to work towards my pre-chemo body. It takes time, it takes diligence, it takes patience, it takes support.

There is nothing special about me that makes it possible for me to work to be healthy. It’s something that is important to me, so I do it. It is simple. It is not easy.

Assuming it is easy for other people is just your internal attempt to let yourself off the hook.

Make yourself accountable. Today. Now. Do it. You’ll be glad you did.

While I am in spin class, pushing myself as hard as I can on a bike that’s not getting me anywhere, this is my mantra:

You can use it if you want. Or make your own. Just make it positive ๐Ÿ™‚

When I turned 27, I was not inspiring.

Today, I have had many people tell me I have inspired them to change their lives. I have been witness to them do it. I have heard celebrations of how many pushups I can do, how long I can hold a plank, how I wasn’t tempted by some crap food that used to appeal, how my old pants fit again, how I haven’t been this size in 2/8/20 years. And now they inspire others.

You owe it to yourself and to the people around you to take care of yourself and be a beacon of hope and inspiration in your community.

Who are you going to inspire?

Your Tastes Change…

I went to a party over the weekend. It was a potluck with an “American food” theme.

Needless to say, most of the food there was junk food, though conspicuously, there was no apple pie!

Anyway, someone brought Twinkies. I haven’t had a Twinkie in years. I decided, just out of curiosity, to try a bite of one and see what they taste like.

They taste like chemicals. It was disgusting. I spit it out.

This is the thing: I used to like Twinkies. A lot. They weren’t a go-to food for me, but they were pretty delicious.

Taste buds changed, not as a result of time passing, but as a result of time passing without me eating crap like Twinkies.

As you remove garbage food from your diet and replace it with whole, real food, you develop a liking โ€” a craving, even โ€” for good, whole, real food. The more of it you eat (assuming you’re eating food you like), the more of it you want.

Did you see the fine print there? It needs to be food you like. If you decide to “go on a diet” (which is not a good plan in the first place) and eat lots of “salads” made of iceberg lettuce and carrot shreds and hate every minute of it, well, you’re not going to crave more of it.

Find produce that you like. Reduce the amount of cheese/dressing/sauce/dip you eat it with. Eat more of it. At the same time, eat less junk food, less processed food, less sugar and sugar substitutes.

As time goes on, keep eating more good food and less crap food, and before you know it, you’ve completely changed how you eat. I am a living testament to this process. People think I’ve always been healthy or that it’s always been easy โ€” but that’s just rationalizing why you “can’t.” It was no easier for me than it is for you.

Drop the excuses and get it done. Because you can. And it’s worth it. YOU are worth it.

The Winner In All New Fad Diets Is….

A friend tipped me off to this article last night. It is well-written enough that instead of trying to paraphrase it or do my own write-up, I’m just going to link you to it.

It is about the cycles of food mania in this country (low-fat, low-carb, organic, local, etc.) and how they have good and healthy intentions but we follow them mindlessly into the pockets of the rich-and-getting-richer processed food industry instead of to better health.

Read it here. Come back and let me know what you think.

Miss Me?

Hey! Look who finally remembered that she is supposed to post on Wednesday mornings! It’s Nichol!

Dear friends,

I suck! I totally missed last Wednesday. The worst part is, I didn’t even notice until Thursday morning, sitting in the Starbucks drive-thru.

A new semester has started and with that, I have started internship. With that, I have a whole new food issue. I need to figure out my food situation. Particularly Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

School days, I leave the house at 6:30am and I don’t get home until well after 9pm. Saturday I will leave the house at 5am and not get home until after 6pm.

How do you handle that? Does anyone have a portable refrigerator/stove/oven combination? Because that would be great.

In other news, I’m about 20 days from finishing P90. And I’m very excited about the 5Ks coming up (Color Run, Neon SplashDash).

I hope to have a better update for you next week, but right now I’m typing on my phone in the middle of SWG510, while my professor lectures.

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