Silence

I’ve stayed mainly silent on my social media posts and also on this blog. I’ve done it because I don’t know what to say. Just like so many others, I don’t feel I can articulate what I am feeling. I don’t feel well educated enough and I don’t want to say anything that will cause harm.

But I cannot keep silent any longer.

2020 has been so very hard. So very hard on so many. Covid-19 has changed our world on so many levels.

This meme is very meaningful to me and sums up my feelings.

For me and my husband, Covid-19 hasn’t really hurt us at all. Ron is in the cable business and more than ever, people have needed their cable and internet. He works alone and has gone in to work every day. He stays in the hubs and works tirelessly to make sure ten of thousands of people in our neck of the woods are able to stay connected.

My work can be done at home and my company closed our offices on March 12th. I’ve worked every day and have never missed a beat. Yes, my days have changed and I have gotten used to WebEx and Microsoft Teams meetings as the new normal.

Our storm has been the sprinkling one and has been quite peaceful. I struggled a bit being alone and was sad for a while but I snapped out of it pretty quickly and have really gotten into a great routine.

However, some people that are very close to me are experiencing this storm so very differently:

  • I have a niece that works in a furniture factory that has come down with the virus. She has several auto-immune diseases already and when she called me to tell me she tested positive for Covid-19, I could hear the fear in her voice. Thanks be to God that her symptoms have been manageable so far and her husband and children have tested negative and are symptom free.
  • I have another niece that has a small business that was forced to close down for many weeks. This storm for her has nearly killed her financially.
  • I have several close friends and family members that have lost their jobs. At first they were furloughed but now their companies have terminated them. The fear in their voices is so very real as they try to find new employment in the worst job environment since the Great Depression.
  • My 2 daughters work in retail and they have worked all through the pandemic. They’ve struggled with the fear of bringing home the virus to their small children and have stripped each day as they come home and do not hug their families until after they have showered and changed clothes.

I’m still scared about the virus but I know I cannot live in fear. I’ll keep wearing my mask. I’ll keep social distancing. I’ll keep washing my hands and trying not to touch my face. And I’ll keep praying every day for a cure.

Now for the other pandemic.

I first learned of what happened to George Floyd from my youngest daughter’s boyfriend. I watched the video and a part of me died right there along with George. I was numb for days and couldn’t speak about what happened.

This meme made me break down and ugly cry like I have never cried before.

I can’t embed the Facebook post that hit home the most for me. The privacy settings have changed or something. But it is the one of the man walking his fluffy dog holding his young daughter’s hand. I hope you have seen it.

You see, I can go for a run at most any time without a single thought for my safety. Yes, I carry mace for the random stray dog but I don’t worry about getting shot or harassed by the police. My granddaughter’s father cannot do this. The only way he can safely go for a walk is if he is walking my fluffy dog and holding on to my sweet grand-daughter’s hand.

On my social media feed you’ll continue to see my posts of micro-greens, juices, runs, workouts, and selfies with my hubby. But with every glass of juice, please know that I am so much more. From this day forward I am going to do my very best to become educated and not stay silent. When you see my feeds from now on, I hope you will know where I stand. And I stand with my granddaughter and her dad.

Much love and prayers for peace always!

How I’m Eating (and moving) Lately

So you guys already know that at the weekend before the pandemic hit, my daughter and her little family moved out and got their own apartment. I miss them so much but luckily they are only about 15 miles away and I have gotten to see them a few times over the last 10 weeks. Lydia and Cam both work at Target and have been on the front line every day. Our oldest daughter and her family live in Illinois and she works at Target too. Her husband is a professor and he has been teaching online but Andie just like Lydia and Cam has been out there making sure we all have the groceries and other essentials that we need. A huge thank you goes out to them and all the other essential workers that have kept our country going.

Anyway, with Lydia and Cam moving out, I was able to get rid of EVERY single cheat food in the house. That has proved to be the biggest secret to help me stay on track. For the first 2 weeks of staying at home, I got my hubby to go vegan with me and we did the Chef AJ program. Chef AJ is SOS (salt, oil, sugar) free and promotes eating potatoes similar to the Dr. McDougall program. I did really well but Ron missed his omnivore ways and went back to mostly veggies and healthy meats.


I am still following Chef AJ mostly but I do have a little salt now. Not as much as I did in the past but since I exercise most every day, a nutritionist friend of mine, wanted me to not be to afraid of the salt shaker. She says we need some sodium!

Here’s some shots of what I eat on a typical day.

I’m not having overnight oats or smoothies like I have lived on in the past. Now I’m having these awesome quinoa banana oat muffins.

I made the below video last Sunday when I was making them. But go here for the recipe. Tami at Nutmeg Notebook is amazing and I love her SOS recipes!

Sometimes if I am hungry mid morning I’ll have some steamed broccoli and a twice baked JSP. (Japanese Sweet Potato) I get my JSPs at Whole Foods and then I put them in the Instant Pot for 10 minutes on manual. I use the wire rack and put a little Berkey water in. Then I keep the potatoes in the fridge until I am ready for them and then I air fry at 400 degrees for about 12 or 13 minutes. These JSPs are amazing this way and you just have to try them!

For lunch I almost always have a huge salad topped with a yummy balsamic vinegar. Chef AJ and Tami and Nutmeg Notebook lead me to this awesome balsamic provider. I am in love!

That’s a lot of food so far so for dinner I’m usually not too hungry. I often get a bean burger and have some more steamed veggies and call it a night.

Here’s a shot of a wrap I got yesterday from Trader Joe’s. We had gotten the chips and guac from Costco and they are dangerous to have in the house. We cannot buy those often!

So that’s it! That’s how I eat most days. Oh and I have been getting back in to juicing. I made these this week and they are very yummy and so very healthy! The pears in there make it! Recipe from Kris Carr.

I’m down 8 pounds in these last 10 weeks and now that I’ve been getting out a little more, people are noticing. Yay! I had to go in to work for a few minutes last week and 2 work friends commented and said I looked great! Then yesterday I went to an in person physical therapy appointment. I had been having video therapy sessions but I hadn’t seen my therapist since the pandemic hit. She noticed too!

Our book club met on Thursday and they commented! One friend even said it wasn’t the weight so much but that I looked toned! I’m crediting the Beachbody On Demand videos I’ve been doing with that!

For the first 7 weeks I did LIIFT4 and now I’m doing Barre Blend. I am crazy excited over how much better my shoulder is feeling and how I’m feeling in general.

What are some fun things you’re making? Have you ever tried juicing? Have you ever tried the Beachbody on Demand workouts?

Much love and peace!

Melissa

How I’m Moving Lately

If you remember, how you’re moving is one of Kris Carr’s pillar’s of good health.   I know this can be an area of everyone’s lives that is difficult to find the time to do.  For me, I’m 10 years in on the exercise thing so it is second nature to me now.   Moving comes as natural as breathing.    Last year after complications with my reconstruction surgery after breast cancer, I developed “frozen shoulder” and movement was taken away from me for about 6 weeks.   It was the most painful time in my whole life and I will never take my health for granted ever again.

If you’re interested in my shoulder recover, I made a YouTube video.  Click here to see my progress from March 9-today.  I am getting there!  Woohoo!

But anyway, I do get it.  Moving can be so challenging.  Before I started running, I was right there with many of you.  Finding the time to exercise is HARD.

Let me slip down memory lane and reminisce on my movement trek and offer some hints and tips to help get you moving.

Back in 2009, right about the time I made my first Facebook post, my hubby got us a treadmill.  I can remember one of my first posts was commenting on how I had run for 3 days that particular week and was hopeful that I could keep it up.  What happened next changed the course of history for me.  My friends and family began liking my posts and encouraging me to keep it up.  Before long, I would post my weekly treadmill intentions and I swear, it was Facebook that helped me stay accountable.  After I posted what I was hoping to do, there was no way in heck that I’d let my friends and family know that I didn’t make it during any particular week.  I can remember jogging for 1 minute and then walking for 3 minutes and being thrilled about my progress.  I remember picking out a mailbox on my street and jogging from one mailbox to the other and then walking to the next mailbox.  Over and over and over again.

My niece commented on one of my posts and said, “Hey Aunt Missy, we should train and run a marathon.”  Now remember, she made this suggestion to me when I was still struggling to jog from mailbox to mailbox.  She had this book, The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer, and wanted me to order it and start training with her.  The crazy thing was I agreed and was immediately psyched to run a marathon.

That was the beginning.

I can’t imagine anyone really wanting to read all these old posts but if you are interested, check out my Race Recap Page and you can see what occupied most of my life for the last 10 years.

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What can I say?  I was hooked.  I drank the Kool-aid and dove in hook line and sinker into the running scene.  I loved every single thing about it!  My hubby (who was already a life long runner} and I ran so many races together over those years, I can’t even keep track of them all.  And come to think of it, that Races page isn’t even up to date.  I know there are some races I haven’t written a recap on.  Whenever it was time for vacation, our first thought after we decided on where we were going, was to see if we could find a race to run there.

Right about this time my sis had lost a lot of weight on a vegetarian diet and was encouraging me to give it a try.   When I started dabbling in the plant based movement, many of the healthy eating blogs I started to follow, were runners too.  If they weren’t runners, they were doing Cross-fit, or yoga, or they were tri-athletes or doing some sort of wonderful movement.

Here are the top reasons I have been able to make moving a habit:

  1. Facebook accountability
  2. Making friends and having an accountability partner – I loved running or working out in the mornings but I also loved sleeping in.  By having a friend I was going to meet, it helped get me out the door.
  3. Having a race on the calendar to train for.  Don’t like running in the cold?  Plan an pay for a Spring marathon.  That will keep you going and on track all through the holidays!  You’ll learn to love the cold.  Don’t like running in the heat?  Plan a fall marathon.  That will keep you running all summer long.Spring marathon
  4. Excel is your friend.   Back in 2009 I actually was just learning Excel for my job.  I know it had been around forever at that time but I had never needed it until then.  Once I learned Excel, I created so many running spreadsheets it was crazy.  I had them color coded and would print them out and check things off every day.  I got a lot of joy checking things off.  If I put down that I was going to cross train on M-W-F and run on T-Thur-Sat and then rest on Sunday, I wouldn’t let a week go by without being able to check those blocks off.  Kinda the same thing as the Facebook posts.  I loved having my spreadsheets to motivate me.
  5. Put your alarm clock a few steps away from your bed so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
  6. Pack your workout bag and your lunch the night before.
  7. Have your workout clothes set out already.
  8. Just the knowledge that sitting all day may be harder on you than smoking is enough to get me out the door.
  9. For every hour you run, you may gain up to 7 hours to your life!    I know this is debatable but you can’t deny movement is so very healthy!
  10. Grant yourself grace and modify when you need to!

 

I’m still running and I did enjoy The Donna Marathon (the national marathon to finish breast cancer) this past February.  (I’ll write a race recap soon I promise!)  It was fantabulous!

DonnaThe gang

However, with Covid-19, my other spring half marathon was canceled and all my running groups were closed.  I’m still going to do the half when they have it later this month but I’m going to walk it with Ron and we are going to do it virtually.

What I’ve been doing lately is LIIFT4 from Beachbody on Demand.  I LOVE it!  I have to modify a lot but I’m giving it my all and it really is helping my shoulder.

And you know I have a tracker!  Check it out!

LIIFT4How are you moving lately?

I pray you find some time to move someway during this difficult time in our world.

Much love and well wishes!

Melissa

 

 

In the Blink of an Eye

Last Sunday on one of my 2 daily walks with our dog, Lily, my world could have changed in the blink of an eye.

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We were almost home from our 1 mile walk and I spied 2 dogs trotting towards us.  I hadn’t seen them before in the neighborhood and since they were running loose, I immediately was on guard.  One of them was a Pit bull mix and the other one was some sort of Shepherd.  The Shepherd stayed farther away but the Pit bull started coming right up to us.  I yelled very loud with all I could muster for the dog to GO AWAY!  He paused and at first I thought he was going to go.  But then he came forward.  I was praying so hard that he’d just do the stiff thing and then leave but in the blink of an eye, he was attacking Lily.  I didn’t hesitate and started kicking him and hitting him with Lily’s leash.  Her leash and collar had slipped off in the struggle.  Thankfully, just as fast as he attacked, he left and trotted on off through the woods with the Shepherd.

Lily was okay.  She only had one puncture would on her hip.  And I didn’t have a scratch.  It could have been a different situation though.  Lily could have been killed and in all reality, that Pit bull could have killed me too.  My heart was racing!  I was scared out of my mind.  A neighbor that had heard me screaming came out and I’m sure she would have come to help if the attack hadn’t ended so quickly.  She did holler over to me and let me know that those same 2 dogs had killed her outside cat.   We are going to try and alert the Animal Control if we ever see them again in our neighborhood.

Later in the afternoon, on my daily Amazon order, I included some mace that I really should have had with me in the first place.   I also tightened Lily’s collar.

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It has been 23 days now since my office sent us all home to work remotely.  At first, I was so out of it.  I had home projects all around me that were in some stage of incompleteness.  My daughter, her boyfriend, and our granddaughter had just moved out of our home into their own apartment just the weekend before.  We had given them our old washer and dryer and when Ron hooked up our new ones, something went awry.  I noticed a wet spot in the carpet in our bedroom and I had no clue it was the washer.  The washer is in the kitchen for Pete’s sake!  I totally blamed poor Lily.  I thought she had had an accident.

It took us one full day to figure out that the hose on the washer was the culprit.  After Ron got the leak stopped, he ended up pulling up the carpet and the padding.  We had decided to replace the carpet and since we are laying the new flooring down ourselves, he said he’d just rip this spot up now.

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We were also in the middle of painting the laundry closet and putting up new shelves, so EVERYTHING was in an upheaval.  Luckily now, the new shelves are up and at least the laundry area is neat and tidy.

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My sis and niece and their husbands were going to help us with the new flooring and even though they said they’d still come up and help us, I’ve decided to heed the Shelter at Home advisory and just tackle the flooring later when this virus gets past us.   I know this is the right thing to do even though this flooring situation is so frustrating!

I’ve been trying to stay off social media as much as I can.  I try to limit myself to 2 quick sessions each day just to keep up with friends and family.  The one thing that I’ve really been noticing is all the memes that people are posting about the struggles they are having with food now that they are working from home.

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I’m not sure how I’m doing it but I’m really rockin’ the healthy eating!  The only thing I can think of is that I have absolutely zero cheat foods in my house thanks to Lydia and Cam moving out prior to the pandemic. When they lived with us, it was all I could do to not partake of all the pizza Friday’s they’d have.  The cinnamon rolls they’d bake all the time were also my downfall.  Heck if they were out of stuff, I’ve been known to eat all of Harley’s goldfish crackers or mini pretzels.  I’d always replace them the next day but it was so difficult for me to say no.

Ron has really been trying to lose weight and he just can’t make the scale move much at all!   So when they moved, we really did a huge pantry purge.  We decided to go on the Chef AJ ultimate weight loss program.

Chef AJ

I actually started the weekend before the pandemic so it has been a whole 4 weeks for me.  I’ve lost 6.1 pounds and feel fantastic.

weight

Ron stayed on the program for almost 2 weeks and he did lose a little but he said he didn’t feel good only eating plants and he has gone back to being an omnivore.  In fact, he went to Costco and stocked back up on meats and nuts and all his favorite Paleo foods.  He did promise he wouldn’t go back to the Bulletproof coffee though.  Ron had an AFib (atrial fibrillation) episode last month and even though AFIB is not the normal heart disease with clogged arteries and such, it is still very serious.  He promised me he’d cut down on the fats.  He also came home with 2 canisters of mixed nuts.  That little blip you see in my weight loss is me cheating and eating nuts last weekend.  I know that some fats like nuts and avocados are so very healthy but I can’t seem to partake of any without overdoing it.  They are such trigger foods for me.  Well nuts and a take out meal from my favorite vegan local restaurant.  I’m happy I was helping to keep the small restaurants in business by ordering take out but I swear, you can totally eat vegan food and gain!

Garden of Eden

That carrot cake was divine though and it was my only sweet in a whole month.

Here’s some shots of my normal daily meals.  I’ve really been cooking up a storm and eating oh so healthy!

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Quinoa Banana Oat muffins

Lots of Hugh Jass Salads topped with balsamic vinegars

caramelized onion gravy over rice

beet burgers

lots of potatoes air fried in Ron’s awesome new oven

mashed banana butter on Ezekiel muffins

I pray that that you are finding ways to cook and eat healthy while we weather out this Covid-19 storm.    Jesus and our health is all we really have.  Everything has changed so much and it really does feel that this all happened in the blink of an eye.

Much love and peace!

Melissa

 

Results!

If you have been around me in the last month and a half, I have probably showed you my Results Journal.  I’ve been showing everyone and singing its praises.

Results!

I mentioned it in my last post but I wanted to go into more detail now.  It really has been a game changer for me.  I found out about it from Kris Carr.  She’s that wellness advocate and cancer thriver that I discovered during my breast cancer trek last summer.

Every morning, usually after I work out, I take a few minutes and fill out my weekly checklist page and my daily page.  All the goals are focused on what Kris calls her 5 pillars of wellness:

  • What you’re eating
  • What you’re drinking
  • What you’re thinking
  • How you’re resting
  • How you’re renewing

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Weekly checklist

Kris wants you to eat 3+ fruits a day and 4+ veggies.  I was doing the 3 fruits a day back in January but I got to the point that it was too much for me.  I’ve cut that down to only 2 fruits and I’m hitting that every day.  I have banana in my oat muffin in the morning and then I have either an apple or a clementine on my salad for lunch.  My 7 cup salad at lunch every day hits the veggie goal out of the park!

For the what you are drinking goal, you are supposed to halve your weight and drink that amount of water in ounces.  I’ve been all over the place with this.  Half my weight in ounces is 72.  The cancer med I am on really sucks all the moisture out of me so I wanted to up that goal.  I settled on 83 ounces and I hit that most of the time.  I’m not gonna lie though.  It is one of the toughest of all the daily goals.  Some days I feel like I live in the bathroom!

The next goal is to take 2 mindful breaks a day.  I love this!  All you have to do is stop for a few minutes and take a deep breath and meditate or pray.  It doesn’t have to be a long break but it is meant to ground you and bring you back to what your intention for the day was.

Recording how much sleep I get is so helpful.  It really helps me stay focused on getting to bed on time.   Sleep is so crucial to our well being.  I’ve been going to the YMCA lately and participating in the LiveSTRONG program on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  I also go to Tea and Yoga at my church on Wednesdays.  I try to run on T/Th with my run club, run on Wed with a group of my very good girlfriends, and on M/F, I try to do my arm exercises at the gym before work.  With all this exercising I have to focus and get to bed so I can make it for the next workout the next morning.

As I am writing this I know it is a lot of exercise but by going in the morning before work, it helps me beat all the very bad traffic.  I have to leave early anyway so why not work out?!  Exercise is not an area that I need to work on.  I’ve got this pillar down!  Getting enough sleep and enough of healing H2O are my toughest 2 pillars!

The next to the last row on the weekly checklist is my very favorite!  It is how you are renewing.  On the snapshot above, both my “fun” outings also involve exercise.  I noticed that week after week, I was struggling to find things to do that truly made me feel renewed that didn’t involve exercise.  Running on Wednesday mornings with my girlfriends is more fun to me than exercise.  Yoga on Wednesday night at church is the same thing.  I love visiting with all the other ladies at church and hearing the devotion that we have before the yoga.  I wanted to make sure I had some variety in the weeks and I am doing better now.  Some of my fun things that didn’t involve exercise was a date night out to the movies with Ron, a brunch date with Harley and Lydia, and my monthly book club get-together.  Tonight Ron and I are going to the RV super show and tomorrow we are going to a Murder Mystery dinner theater.

The last row you get to pick a goal and I chose flossing my teeth.  I hate to floss but I’ve been doing it almost every single night.

Now for the daily pages.

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Daily thoughts and goals

 

You start the day off with reflecting on how you feel.  Every single day that I work out in the morning, I feel fantastic!  Almost every single morning that I don’t work out first thing, stress starts to creep in on me.  In the month and a half that I’ve been doing this I have noticed this pattern and I’ve decided to really strive to get to bed on time so I can wake up early enough to get a workout in first thing!

Next on the 2nd page, you write down 3 things that you are thankful for.  I LOVE this!  No matter how bad we are feeling, there is always something to be thankful for.

Then you write down your intention for the day.  Another LOVE.  You are in control of your day.  By writing down and focusing on how I want my day to go, I feel so much more focused.  During my 2 mindful breaks during the day I really try and come back to this and not let the day get away from me without working on what I intended to.

Then you write down your daily affirmation and your Big Sky Goal.  For me these are the very same thing every day.  I want to maintain vibrant great health and for Ron and me to get out of debt once and for all.

The last part is when you write down what you are going to do that very day to help you get closer to your goal.  Most of the days so far for me in January and February are exactly the same.  I have been working very hard to gain 100% mobility in my shoulder since my breast reconstruction surgery.  I write this down and then you have to write specifically what you are going to do and WHEN that day you are going to do it.

Like I said, TOTAL GAME CHANGER.  If you focus every single day on your most precious goals, you really look at all the millions of choices you make every day with a tremendously different mindset.

Here’s a choice I made this morning.  My favorite whipped banana oatmeal and some Glory juice from Wegmans.

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What are you drinking and eating?  What are you daily thoughts?  How are you resting and renewing?

Best wishes always and may all your Big Sky Goals come true and all your little choices you make every day help you get there.

xxoo,

Melissa

 

 

Favorites

I always love it when the bloggers that I follow most have a “favorites” post.  It is so fun seeing what other people like and picking up on new ideas.  I decided to highlight some of the things that are new to me that I am loving and also showcase some things I’ve loved for quite some time.

First up on the loved for quite some time is our wonderful church Mt. Zion!

Mt Zion

Last Sunday when Ron and I were walking in I snapped the picture.  I actually was trying to take a video because the bells were ringing and with the sun shining, such a feeling of calm and peace came over me.  Mt. Zion is a fabulous church and if you are in our area and are looking for a new church home, we’d love to have you.  I think one of the best things I like about our church is the community.  We have small groups that change up every so often and it is a great way to meet others and to fellowship.  Over the years I have led a couple of small groups and I need to get back to it.  One of the groups I led was on dog walking.  I think we only had about 4 or 5 of us in the group.  We would meet and walk our dogs and discuss different topics about how to sit, stay, and come when God calls.  I based the small group on this book.  Such great memories.  Another small group that I led was a Run for God group.  We trained and many of the participants went from the couch to a 5k.

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This group was so popular, we followed it up with a Run for God half marathon group.  We all trained and ran the Myrtle Beach half marathon.  Even after those 2 seasons, other leaders stepped in and continued the small group for many more years.

Some of the small groups that are just starting up next week that I have my eye on joining are the Talk, Tea, and Yoga for Women and the Beginning Ukulele group.  Click here to see all the small groups that are being offered.

Okay, back to favorites.

I adore Japanese sweet potatoes.  I can’t even eat a normal sweet potato anymore I love these so much!

Japanese sweet potatoes

I made these in the Instant Pot (10 minutes on manual) last weekend and I usually have one every night for dinner.  Most of the time I only have them with some broccoli and beans or stir-fried tofu but this week I added a new favorite, No Evil Foods.

No evil foods

The thing I love the most about this brand is that it doesn’t have protein soy isolate.  Isolates are when they process the heck out of soy and it becomes a “processed food” that I try to limit.

Here’s a shot of a basic dinner:  potato, No Evil Foods Italian Sausage, and some spinach.

dinner

Another old favorite is the awesome Juice Vibes juice bar.  When I was healing my breast cancer last summer, I would go here all the time.  I hadn’t been in a while but on Friday, I was doing so well in my PT exercises, I decided to celebrate.  I got the Green Detox smoothie.  It was delicious!

Next up on the new favorites list is this awesome new journal that I’ve been keeping.

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And right beside it are some new favorite pens.  I got my journal from my favorite wellness advocate and cancer thriver, Kris Carr .  She has lived and thrived with a stage 4 incurable cancer for over 17 years now.  I’ve always loved the art of journaling but I’ve never really been able to keep up the habit.  I’ve made it 11 days so far and I haven’t missed a day.  Below is a snapshot of the daily and weekly pages.

Kris says the secret to getting “Results” is to write your goals down every single day.

The pens that I am using were recommended to me by my oldest daughter, Andie.  Andie is an avid planner keeper and she uses Emily Ley’s planners.  She is crazy about Emily Ley and has now got me hooked on her too.  Andie got me this book for Christmas and I’ve already devoured it.  I can’t wait to read her other books.

When Less Becomes More

A couple more favorites and I’ll call it a morning and head out for my run.  It is Saturday and Saturdays for me means log run and I have 8 miles ahead of me.

Here’s a new toothpaste I found accidentally.

Fennel

I didn’t mean to get the fennel flavored one and boy was my mouth ever surprised when I first used it.  I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but I love it now!  Fennel has great health properties.  

And the star of the week were these banana oat quinoa muffins.

banana oat quinoa muffins

They are vegan, gluten free, sugar free, and oil free.  Since I’ve been working out every morning, I’ve needed more than my smoothie to tide me over until my lunchtime salad.  These have worked out great.  I made a huge batch last weekend and I’m all out now.  I will definitely be making these again this week.  So yummy!

Well that’s it for me.  What are some of your favorites?  Are you a journaler?

Happy Saturday!  Now, I’m off to run!

xxoo,

Melissa

 

Grace Not Perfection

Happy New Year!  I just know 2020 is going to be an awesome year.

Ron and I started the new year off with a 5k.  It was called the Commitment Day 5k and was a super way to kick off the year.  The weather was a little chilly but oh so beautiful.  The course was mostly flat and went through a pretty green-way and also on some sidewalks and roads in Cary, NC.

Ron and Mel Commitment Day 5k

All smiles at the start!

Ron

Coming in Strong!

 

Mel

I swear, I am running here at the finish. I have no idea why it looks like I am walking! LOL

Our times were 38:12 and 39.08 with me scooting in just a little bit ahead of Ron this time.

After the race we came home and I felt so energized all day.  We got the Christmas decorations down and put away and lots of other household chores.

The theme for the race was #onepositiveaction.  It really is amazing how one little thing can set you up for many more positive steps throughout your day.  Making my breakfast and lunches ahead of time is something that I have been doing for years and years and if I I miss this step, my week really can take such a negative turn.  I end up tempted to go to fast food restaurants and even if I do choose a grocery store or a healthier restaurant, I usually eat more and spend way more money.

So, here’s a breakdown of my my breakfast and lunches.

I used to make overnight oats but now, I’m hooked on smoothies.  I was hesitant at first about making smoothies ahead but they really have mostly the same ingredients as overnight oats and I figured they’d work out okay.  I’ve tried it for about a month and the last smoothie is as good as the first so I’m confident I’m going to be okay.  The silly reason I’ve started doing this is that I hate getting the flax seeds stuck in my teeth.  Flax seeds are so beneficial so I don’t want to give them up.  With smoothies, they don’t get stuck!

And here’s my lunches.  It is always a Hugh Jass Salad!

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Peppers, onions, and cucumbers. The apple there is only for one salad. I don’t prep those ahead.

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Celery, beans, carrots, tomatoes

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Spring Mix and Kale mix

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Don’t they look pretty!

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Ready to chop!

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Oops, forgot some herbs!

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Now all chopped up! I’ve timed it and this salad is a commitment in itself.  Takes me about 30 minutes to eat this!

So there you go.  There’s my positive actions that I try to do every week.  I don’t get bored at all and rarely deviate from these basic ingredients.  I do want to add some micro greens to the salads and I need to get my booty in gear and plant some.

My biggest goal of the year is to go SOS.  Salt, Oil, and Sugar free.  I first heard of this method of weight loss from Chef AJ and I do believe it is a very healthy way of life.  I’m a self-confessed salt-a-holic and I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to sugar as well.  Well I did okay on January 1 and 2 but by the 3rd I decided to add just a little Earth Balance to my rice noodles.   Then my hand reached for the salt shaker.  Before the night was over I had 2 handfuls of vegan chocolate chips!  I was sad yes but I didn’t throw in the towel and granted myself grace.  I’ve been hearing about Grace Not Perfection lately and it may be my 2020 mantra!

What positive actions are you taking for 2020?  I pray you grant yourself grace when you need it.

xxoo,

Melissa

PMA all the Way

So you guys know I’m crazy about Kris Carr now.  Well she has these guided meditations and I tried out a sample during lunch this week.

Speaking of lunch, I had my normal salad and I ate it outside.  I really am trying hard to take my full hour and also get outside for some vitamin D.   Another thing I am doing is after lunch, I take my shoes off and get my bare feet in the dirt and grass.  It is called grounding.

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This is when I put my earbuds in and listed to Kris’s sample meditation.  I loved it!  And this is what I got out of it.

Ever since the very beginning of my cancer trek, I have wanted to get a double mastectomy and not just the single.  This is a very common decision that many women make even if, like me, they have one breast that is disease free.  It is so common now that insurance companies are denying this request and are not covering removing a disease free breast as there is no medical reason to do this.  However, my insurance company will cover this.  I do meet 2 of the very long list of criteria.  (You only have to meet 1 and I meet 2)

  • I have very dense breasts that make it very hard for mammograms to detect breast cancer.
  • I also have one first cousin that had breast cancer before the age of 50.

I wanted a bilateral mastectomy (DMX) and no reconstruction.  I even joined the Flat and Fabulous Facebook page to gain support from others that have chosen this route.  Here were my reasons:

  • I wanted to never have to worry about mammograms or MRIs again.
  • I didn’t want to go through more invasive surgeries.
  • I didn’t want something foreign inside me. (implants)
  • I didn’t want to have to worry about replacing implants after 10 years.
  • I thought it would be great to run and hike without a bra.

However, my hubby was very against this.  He felt like I was “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”  It hurt me that it mattered to him.  I wanted him to be so in love with me that he only worried about my life and not what I would look like.

During meditation, I realized that Ron was in the denial phase when I first started talking about a DMX.  Ron loves me unconditionally and I know this.  This trek is not just one that I will go through.  Ron is going to be right there with me all the way.  I’m sure he is scared as well.  Finances, time off work, the logistics of getting the surgery done away from home, all of these have to be just as taxing on him as they are on me.

I have let go of these negative feelings that I felt in the beginning.  It is so critical that I harbor no negative emotions at all.  As my BFF says, PMA all the way!  (Positive Mental Attitude)

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So here are my new reasons for going with only a unilateral mastectomy and DIEP reconstruction:

  • I don’t plan for cancer to return anywhere in my body after surgery so there is no reason to take a healthy breast.
  • The surgery will be easier for me to recover from as I’ll have full use of my right arm.
  • Since I’m keeping the healthy breast, I’ll need some balance and symmetry.  With DIEP I will have a permanent and natural reconstruction.

After this first mediation session, I visited with an old high school friend that is battling cancer.   She confirmed that care givers go through many different stages of acceptance.  Then last night I texted with another high school friend who is a 14 year survivor of breast cancer.  She stressed that our thoughts and keeping them positive are the key to getting through this trek.  In fact that was her only piece of advice she wanted to share with me at this point.

I’m not perfect and I have many moments of worry that continue to plague me.  As I go forward this week, I’m going PMA all the way!

I pray this for you as well!

 

 

The Mayo Clinic

After the MRI on June 12th and while we were waiting on the genetic testing, my husband and sister were encouraging me to get a 2nd opinion.  Actually, my sister who had just went through her own cancer scare last year, kept really encouraging me to call the Mayo Clinic.  She had gone to Mayo in Rochester, MN for a cutting edge throat cancer surgery and had phenomenal success.  She lives near Charlotte, NC and was shocked to learn that Mayo was in network with her insurance company.  Click here to read about her trek.    And while you are on her blog, search around.  She has a few more updates hidden among all her travels.

She kept pressing me to just see if Mayo was in network for me.  Well since my hubby also wanted me to get that 2nd opinion, I figured the least I could do was to call them.  Mayo has a Breast Center in Jacksonville, FL and that’s only about 6.5 hours away from our home in Clayton, NC.  I called them on June 19th and our insurance was also in network!  I couldn’t believe it!  I was on cloud nine.  At first they gave me an appointment of July 22nd and I happily agreed.  However, after many friends praying for me and me praying like crazy, the schedulers called me back the very next morning and had an appointment for me on June 27th!  That was only one week and one day from the day that I called them!

I was a little worried about the logistics of making all this happen but my hubby and sister kept telling me not to worry about that so I’ve pushed all those thoughts away.  We are only going to be out the gas and lodging and hopefully that won’t be too bad.  My sister is the Airbnb queen so I know we are going to be in good hands.

Speaking of logistics and organization, my good friend Desiree, just happens to live in Jacksonville and she is going through breast cancer at this very same time.  She has been a world of support to me!  One of the first things she recommended to me was this book.  Now that I’ve read it cover to cover and watched the dvd thanks to my other rock star cancer survivor friend, Connie, I can also recommend everything from Kris Carr.  Go check out her website!   But back to logistics.  In the book, Kris recommends you setting up your cancer trek as a business.  I’m the CEO of “Save My A$$ Unlimited.”  I’ve elected my hubby Ron as chief record keeper and CFO.  He’s in charge of all the insurance stuff and bills.  My sister Rosa, is in charge of all travel.  My sister Tammy, is in charge of all things recovery and humor.  Tammy lives in Missouri and even if she can’t be with me during my entire recovery, she’s still in charge of making sure someone has my back.

Here Rosa and I are at an outside healing meditation area at Mayo.

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On my first appointment at Mayo, I could tell right away that things were really going to be different.  My Raleigh doctor was very experienced (over 34 years as a breast surgeon) and she was kind.  My only beef with her was that she wouldn’t give me her recommendation.  Heck, I’m a newbie in all of this and she just kept saying that we could try a lumpectomy and see if we can get clean edges.  But then at the same time, she said a mastectomy would bring the same survival rate.  I needed her expert guidance and she kept side stepping my every question.

My first doctor at Mayo didn’t hesitate at all to tell me her personal opinion.   She said without a doubt, she recommenced a full left mastectomy.   The comment that really hit home to me was when she also said that they could biopsy the satellite nodules that the MRI had reveled but that even if the biopsy came back negative, she would not believe it.  These areas of enhancement are in a straight line leading from the main tumor heading straight to my nipple.  I’m a layman and it really seems logical to me that anything at all showing up on the left side had to go!

Oh and by the way, my DO, also recommended a full left mastectomy.  He was the doc that I’ve been going to to help me with nutrition and whole body care as it trek through cancer.

So there you had it.  2 docs so far telling me the same thing.

On the 2nd day at Mayo, I met with the breast surgeon.  This guy walks in and I immediately think of a video gamer.  I thought to myself, that even if he doesn’t have a lot of years of experience, I think his hands are going to be quite nimble.  Then I learned that his mother was a breast cancer survivor and that is where his passion came from.  He as well didn’t hesitate at all and told me left mastectomy with no nipple sparing was my best choice.  It felt great to have 3 doctors telling me their honest opinion.

That was it for day 1 and 2 at Mayo but then they called me back and I had to go back on July 5th to meet with the plastic surgeon, the oncologist, and the radiation oncologist. These appointments all went great too.  Everyone is very hopeful that I won’t have to have chemo or radiation but because of those darn satellite nodules, there is a chance I may have to.  Bad part is, I won’t know until about 2-3 days after surgery.  And because of that, I can’t do immediate reconstruction.

My favorite appointment on this second Mayo trip was with the plastic surgeon.  We went over all the choices and again, I looked to the expert and asked for his honest opinion.  Should I go with implants or should I trip DIEP.  A DIEP procedure uses fat and capillaries from your tummy to reconstruct your breast.

He didn’t hesitate either.  He said that I was an excellent candidate for DIEP.  I was young (Yay!  I felt great to be called young at 54).  I was a non-smoker.  I was healthy.  And, I had enough fat and skin in my abdominal area.  (Yay for belly fat!)  Actually this is the only good thing that will ever come from my belly fat.  You have probably heard that carrying your weight around your tummy is the worst place health wise to carry your weight.  You know the apple shape is so much worse than the pear shape figure.  It is actually so very true.  My cancer feeds on estrogen and your body can make its own estrogen from belly fat.

So that is our plan.  He’s going to put in some tissue expanders right after the breast surgeon completes the mastectomy.  I’ll have to go back once a week for 3 weeks to get the expander slowly filled until the left reaches the correct size.  Then we can proceed with the DIEP.  Only slow down is going to be if I have to have chemo or radiation.  We can’t start with the DIEP until 3 months after the last day of radiation.  I am praying so hard for no chemo or radiation!!!

I got the call today with my surgery date.  It is going to be on August 2nd with an August 1st pre-op appointment.  These next 3 weeks can’t pass quickly enough!

Thank you all for your prayers and positive thoughts.  With God, I’ve got this!

xxoo,

Melissa

 

My Trek through Cancer

How do you like my new title?  I really couldn’t stand the “My Cancer Journey.”  It seemed depressing and sick to me.   I’m not sick!  And, I’m not depressed.  Heck, I’m already calling myself a cancer survivor instead of a cancer patient and I haven’t had anything other than tests and consultations.    So, since I love hiking, I decided on my trek through cancer.  Trekking through is is exactly how I am viewing this.  Even though cancer may be with me for the rest of my life even if it is only in my thoughts, I’m hoping to finish this through hike and make the most out of it as I go.

Let me pick back up from June 21st until today.

I decided to get the uber expensive genetic testing done to help me decide if I want to remove the disease free breast while we’re at it.  There are a lot of very rare cancers in our family and I didn’t really realize it until I had them all down on paper.  My sister lost an eye to the very rare ocular melanoma last year.  She also had HPV16 throat cancer.  I have a nephew that had melanoma at age 25.  An aunt that died of the very rare bile duct cancer.  And I have one first cousin that had breast cancer at age 47.   We have some other precancerous issues running in the family as well as some non-melanoma skin cancers.  With all those, the genetics counselor opted to run the full panel of cancer testing and not just the test for breast cancer genes.  They asked for a rush on the test and I got the results back on July 2nd.

Drum Roll!

I’m negative in all areas!  There are no variants in my genes that are known to increase the cancer risk for any cancers.  Woot!  Woot!  This was a huge relief not so much for me but for my 2 daughters.  They of course could still be positive but I am hopeful that since I am negative, it will mean they may not have to worry about breast or any other cancers as long as they take steps to stay healthy.

That brings me to the question of what caused my cancer.  Let’s face it.  I bet at least for the last 10 years since I have been running and trying to eat healthy, I have been one of the healthiest people you would ever meet?  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’ve had my on again off again vegan/vegetarian episodes over the last 10 years and have had my share of fast food and meats on occasion.  Sometimes, even the vegan foods I’d choose were really junk food vegan choices.  Hello Beyond Burgers and Newman O’s!

I don’t think it was the occasion bad food choices though.  No one knows for sure and I’m really trying not to focus on the why.  But if I had to bet, I believe it was the hormone replacement therapy that I was on for the last 3 years.  When I hit menopause, I got hot flashes like crazy.  I was handling it okay at first but then I started to get some other symptoms and I hope this isn’t too much information so this is warning.  Stop reading now if you don’t want to hear about female issues.

 

STOP!

 

I also got vaginal dryness and started having painful sex.  Bam!  I told you to stop reading.  LOL!

Anyway, my mother took HRT for years and years with no problems and even though I had heard about the risks, I figured I was so healthy anyway, I could take the chance.  I started Prempro almost 3 years to the day prior to my May 21st fateful mammogram.  If you Google Prempro, you’ll find that most cancers after Prempro show up 2.5-3 years after starting the medication.  The dimple or dent as I call it, appeared months and months prior to May 21.  I don’t know for sure when I first noticed the dent.  I know if was less than a year ago.  It was probably about 9 months or so ago.   When I talked to my primary care physician about this she of course said no one could know for sure.  One thing that she said was that many of her patients that were on Prempro would get angry with her when she wouldn’t renew their prescriptions without getting their annual mammograms.  Hmmm.  Wonder why getting a mammogram is the determining factor in whether or not she would renew their prescription?  Doesn’t add up to me.  Needless to say.  I am not taking Prempro any longer!

Another culprit may have been the very very strong antiperspirants that I used ALL MY LIFE.  Many will say this is an old wives tale but no one can dispute the increasing numbers of breast cancers that are in the upper outer quadrants of the breast. (exactly where my main tumor is)  I again had heard of the risk of using these strong aluminum based antiperspirants but I thought I was healthy enough in all other areas that I could cancel out any negatives from the aluminum.  I have switched to Tom’s all natural deodorant now and love it!  I have to apply more often but I think it is healthier.

Speaking of changes since May 21, here’s my list!

  1. Praying and keeping God in first place!  One of my good friends that is also a cancer survivor sent me her list of favorite verses.  This is one of my favorites!
  2. No more Prempro
  3. Completely vegan
  4. No aluminum based antiperspirants
  5. I’m juicing now.  I’m shooting for 64 ounces of fruit and vegetable juices per day.  Some days I only get 32 ounces or so and I have missed a few days but not many.  My go to ingredients are celery, beets, beet greens, apple, carrot, ginger, turmeric, and garlic.  All of these are super noninflammatory agents.
  6. Trying to get plenty of sleep.  I get 8 hours most nights now with only an occasional 7 hours.  In the past, sometimes I’d exist on 6 hours for days on end.  Sleep is critical!  I don’t have my cell phone charging on my night table any longer.  It is in the Living Room now.  I try to make our bedroom as dark as possible and I even wear a silk eye mask.  I keep the sound machine running for the first hour and I also take melatonin.  I don’t have any trouble going to sleep but the melatonin is helping to let me sleep through the 3:30am hot flashes that are now back with a vengeance.
  7. I stopped going to Burn Boot Camp and my Running Speed Class.  BBC and Speed were intense workouts and I am trying to let all my spare energy go to my immune system so it can fight like crazy to keep this cancer from growing or spreading any more.
  8. I am working out though.  Just on a less intense schedule.  I still run on Wednesdays mornings but on this run, we always keep it at a slow conversational pace.  I am also rebounding and have a trampoline in my bedroom. Click on the link to see the benefits of rebounding.  It is also great for your lymph nodes.
  9. I’m using my essential oils for relaxation and cleaning more and more now.  You should have seen all the toxic cleaners, makeups, and perfumes I finally got the nerve to actually throw away now.
  10. I’m seeing a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine now and he had even prescribed Frankincense for me.  I just paid for it today and it should be coming to me early next week.  His directions are to take 2 drops under my tongue morning and evening.  I’ve already talked to my sister and another cancer survivor who has been prescribed this special blend of Frankincense and I know it is going to really take some getting used to for me to be able to get it down.  Here is my doc if you are interested.  He is amazing!
  11. My DO tweaked my vegan diet.  He spent over an hour on a conference call with me on nutrition alone.  Now for at least for 4 weeks, I am not only vegan, I am gluten free, soy free, and oat free.  Gluten causes inflammation and he wants to keep that down all we can.  My diet is so simple now.  I have quinoa and blueberries in the morning, a huge salad with beans at lunch, and then a potato with broccoli at dinner.  That with all the juices I have is about all I can eat!
  12. One other crazy thing my DO has me doing is taking a  TBSP of EVOO with 10 drops of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.   It isn’t bad at all and is supposed to protect my gall bladder with all the changes in my diet.
  13. This one is a suggestion from my neighbor.  Her brother-in-law has stage 4 lung cancer and he is doing this and his tumors are shrinking!  I ran it past my DO and he said okay so I’m going with it.  Hey why not?!!!   It is one tsp of black strap molasses with 1/3 tsp of sodium bicarbonate.  (aluminum free)
  14. I’m practicing peace and meditation and am trying to keep all negative thoughts away.  Picture this.  Every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts.  Make sure they are positive!
  15. I’ve also tried Essiac Tea.  One breast cancer survivor that I listed to swears by this.  I’m out now but I will get again.  In the meantime I’m drinking matcha green tea.  No more caffeine for me.
  16. Not using any plastics and not using the microwave!

There are probably more but this post is so long already and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.  So sorry.  I’ll end now and I promise, tomorrow I’ll post an update with more details of my surgery choices.

Much love and happiness.  Now go out there and be at peace.  Eat your veggies and love one another!  Ditch the aluminum, save the world one straw at a time, and Check for the Dimple.

xxoo,

Melissa