Sep 182015
 

I’ve tried a lot of different things in my journey through the crazy world of health and wellness. It’s hard to capture all of them in my 10 Steps, so here are 10 specific things that I believe were game-changers in my success:

1. I learned how to relax and enjoy life in the least relaxing situation ever. Not easy, but until I figured this out, the rest was just slapping Band-Aids on a seeping wound. Life is risk, we’re all here to learn, and I reached out for help when I needed it. Find what works for you to neutralize emotional chaos.

2. I juice vegetables, not fruits. I want to EAT my fruits to get all the good fiber they bring to the table. Fiber also helps slow down my body’s absorption of fructose, so I can avoid insulin spikes.

In contrast, vegetables usually pack less fructose and more anti-cancer nutrients into every square centimeter, so I juice them to make that goodness even more concentrated. (Note: I only juice organic vegetables, which have less pesticide on them. Why would I want to concentrate pesticides in a cup?)

Side note: When I juice vegetables, I add beets and carrots to my green juice. I believe in a rainbow of flavors — and colors. I believe adding a beet is a huge benefit for me, because it kicks up my liver and helps it work better.

3. I eat a pack of organic red raspberries whenever I can. I used to be a pack-a-day eater. Red raspberries can shut down the type of cancer I had, so I viewed it as cheap insurance, not expensive berries.

4. I eat watercress whenever and wherever I find it. Watercress is hard to find where I live. But whenever I see it, organic or not, at a supermarket or a restaurant, I snap it up and eat it, because I believe it’s the healthiest vegetable on the entire planet.

5. I take organic dandelion root powder. I want to help my liver be the best it can be. So I take half a teaspoon of this wonderful herb daily.

6. I eat flaxseeds. They pack a punch against cancer in different ways than the other foods I eat.

7. I ate button mushrooms and drank green tea almost every day for two years. I read about this trick in Patrick Quillin’s book Beating Cancer with Nutrition. He’s a registered dietician (there are good ones out there! A few…), and he wrote that eating both foods in a single day could reduce the risk of breast cancer by about 90%. I followed this advice religiously for a long time.

8. I filter my water. I didn’t go crazy with a whole-house filter system, because I was renting a New York apartment when first diagnosed with cancer. Instead, I bought an Aquasana countertop water filter for the sink (which I installed in the bathroom since it wouldn’t fit on my kitchen sink – you do what you have to do!) and an Aquasana shower filter. I also bought a Waterwise water distiller and used it for the first year of my recovery.

Travel tip: When traveling, I use a portable filter bottle, and I drink venti green and herbal teas at Starbucks since they triple-filter their water, sometimes with reverse osmosis!

9. I take a great probiotic. After much research, I settled on Garden of Life RAW Probiotics. I love that they use a wild kefir culture to provide a huge variety of different probiotic strains. These probiotics require refrigeration, so I’m careful about where I buy them.

10. I rebound for exercise. I bought a Pure Fun rebounder from Amazon for about $38 and started bouncing. I love trying to touch the ceiling as I jump, but you don’t have to be an acrobat to use this type of mini-trampoline. When I first started, I did “the health bounce,” which just involves standing on the trampoline on the balls of your feet, with feet shoulder width apart, and bouncing without leaving the surface. Why is rebounding so great? It increases lymphatic flow and gets your whole body moving — much like swimming!

What are your personal game-changers for wellness? I’d love to hear about it- send me a message!

Sep 012015
 

I reject the phrase “the new normal” because to me it means “the less-good-than-before.” That’s almost always the subtext when this phrase appears.

I reject it because, yes, I made adjustments after I had cancer. I’m not the same person I was before. But my “new normal” is AWESOME.

It’s awesome because I didn’t let others dictate how my future health would be. Because after I finished initial treatment, I balanced my vitamin, mineral and hormone levels. Because I repaired DNA damage and my radiated breast became soft again. Because the new dark spots that my dermatologist said would get worse have disappeared. Because the tingly irritation on my scar disappeared. Because a nodule disappeared. Because I feel great. Because I rarely get colds anymore. Because I’m in better shape. Because I put better fuel into my body, I drink better water to refresh my cells, I sleep better, I enjoy sex more, I enjoy life more, and I feel comfortable with myself for the first time ever.

Because I overcame. I learned that when I am pushed to the wall, I will always find a solution. It will be a solution that I am comfortable with, that I have researched, that feels right at a gut level and at a logical level. I learned, firsthand, that waiting for scientific studies is great when you have plenty of time. When it’s just you, right now, with the resources at your disposal, you do the best you can with what you have. And sometimes THAT IS GREAT. But it’s a decision that only you can make, in your moment.

Finding Peace – the Hart Part

Knowing that I will find a solution puts me at peace. And part of that solution — and this was the hardest part, the absolute hardest part because it didn’t involve any tests or supplements or nutritional-balancing — is to trust in the universe. This one’s a bigger leap of faith than all the others, a dive off a platform into… who knows?

But it’s the best part of the solution I found. Because now I can just breathe. I never could relax before. In my “old normal,” I’d sit on the couch to watch movies for a day and panic. My mind would conjure scenarios that would set me pacing around the room, worrying and worrying, until I created something for myself to do and never got to watch that movie. If I wasn’t producing, I couldn’t breathe. I got a lot done. But this was unhealthy. I never felt at ease. It was always, “What if? What if?”

Well, “what if” happened. (Yes, cancer was one of my what-if scenarios.) And I freaked out. I hated how I felt, how powerless and pathetic and pushed into decisions I felt not-right about, and I decided this was not going to be my future.

Less Stress, More Time

Now I am sometimes less productive. I don’t feel driven to stay up until 3am. I don’t produce, objectively, as much output as I did before. And sometimes that’s frustrating.

But the output I do produce is better thought-out, with a stronger foundation. The projects I take on make sense from a strategic perspective. I get more bang for my buck and have a better-balanced life.

I make time to eat real food instead of skipping meals. I try to sleep 7 hours a night. I nourish my relationships, because they are what’s important in the end, not how many hours I spent at work. I nourish my goals — the really important ones. I let the less-important ones drop by the wayside. I try to serial-task, not multi-task. Sometimes I really do just breathe, and relax. It takes time, but if it gives me more years on the earth, then I have gained time by doing less each day.

Never Give Up

Some things still suck. Because I allowed, against my better judgment, a sentinel node biopsy 1, I have trouble at high altitudes — and even not-so-high altitudes. Although I feel totally normal at sea level and have no problem lifting heavy things, exercising, taking hot baths/saunas or anything else, I notice a weird sensation in my arm above 1,000 feet (EDIT: 2,500 feet. Hurray!). I haven’t ski’ed in five years. I haven’t been to the mountains (EDIT: Yes, I have.). I wear compression sleeves and fingerless gloves when flying because I don’t want to risk lymphedema, though I bought black ones that look more ninja than medical. I try to limit my flights per year to a reasonable number. I HATE this problem. It limits my life. But I also am 100% convinced that, ultimately, I will solve it. And when I do I will feel SO much better about myself than I ever did before. That’s just how I approach things.

I already found a few limited solutions. For now, here are the tools in my toolbox: Lymphdiaral drops, which work for me within a few minutes. Cleavers Tea. Indigo Drops if I need them.

My goal is not just to muddle along as a shadow of my former self, but to KICK ASS and project GRATITUDE, LOVE, and JOY. Every day, no matter how many days. That’s my “new normal” — my new life.

Notes:

  1. This is a procedure where one or a few lymph nodes are removed to check if cancer has spread. I didn’t want to have one because the type of cancer I had almost never spreads.