Getting Real

So, I’m feeling the need to get real with you, and myself.  My last post was as much for me as anyone else.

Throughout the month of December, our family ate more refined, processed and sugar-filled foods; we slept less; we moved less; and a glass or 2 of wine a night was not uncommon.  I thought I was simply relaxing – relaxing my ideas of what is good for us (and I mean good for us in every way).  Turns out that throughout the month of December, we were all crankier, we had less energy, we were quick to get frustrated with each other . . . which made us crankier, took more energy, and lead to more frustration.  So . . . where exactly was the relaxation?????

As we approach the end of January, a month where refined foods, and especially sugar have all but been eliminated from our diets, where we have focused on getting proper exercise and proper sleep . . .well, we’re all much more energetic, calmer, kinder to each other . . .

In life, I think we ALL want to feel good.  When we wake up in the mornings, we want to have energy, to move easily, to be pain free and disease free.  And yet what do we do to make that happen?

Do we, as a population really no longer believe that how we feed ourselves has no effect on our physical well being, on our mental well being?  Do we really expect that after years of feeding ourselves, and our kids processed, chemical laden food, while no longer prioritizing physical fitness that we’re all going to live long healthy lives????

Because of my tumour, I have become involved with Toronto General Hospital, and am working on a few projects to make services and programs for tumour/cancer patients more readily available.  Yesterday, I had a meeting at the MOST AMAZING cancer support centre, Wellspring, with not only representatives of Wellspring, but representatives from the hospital, including a Radiation Oncologist.  The services that places like Wellspring and hospitals like Toronto General and Princess Margaret are truly wonderful.  Tumours/Cancer are conditions that have profound effects and consequences for those that develop them, never mind their friends and family that care about them.  And when you look at the lifetime risk of developing cancer (1 in 2 for American men and 1 in 3 for American women, with a 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 risk of dying from cancer respectively – see Cancer.org for more statistics), more people than EVER are going to need these services.

And while millions of dollars are spent on these wonderful programs, and on research to cure these diseases, imagine if none of this was necessary?

Put differently, what are we doing to minimize the risk that we, or members of our family aren’t unnecessarily at higher risk for these diseases?   (While I fully realize that there are a lot of reasons why a person might develop a disease, we are, by now, all well aware of the fact that poor diet and lack of exercise play a significant role in the development of disease).

Which brings me back to the idea of “getting real”.  I get that we’re all busy – juggling work, kids, commitments and budgets.  And so the idea of quick, easy, cheap food is really appealing.  But what is all that quick, easy, cheap food getting us?

I’m right there with you.  I have the Husband that works long hours.  Two kids that have school and extracurricular activities.  And I have my work as well.

But here’s the thing . . . by focusing on good quality, unprocessed “real” food, I end up saving time, energy, and even money, and our family is happier and healthier.  And I know that I’m doing my BEST to avoid exposing us all to any increased risk of disease.  (and by best, I mean that I do like to have a treat – and I will have a piece of cake, or a special meal out – I do like alcohol, and I will have a drink from time to time – and I will let the kids have treats too, Fridays, for example are treat snack day where they can have ONE processed snack in their lunch – but on the whole, I am committed to eating real, unprocessed foods)

And if I can get “real” for a minute . . . I can make 60 of my gluten-free, sugar-free cookies in 20 minutes.  The kids LOVE them.  They ASK to eat them.  You can find 20 minutes in a day to make a batch of snacks that can last a week or longer (depending on how many kids you have).

I made my almond flour chicken fingers in 10 minutes this week – and even better, the kids made them with me, then trimmed the beans and chopped the broccoli – we had family time and a tasty dinner.  Oh . . . and there are enough leftovers that I can feed the kids this meal again next week.

 

Do organic and natural ingredients cost more?  Individually, sure.  But when I can make 60 cookies (which translates into 20 – 30 snack servings) for about $7, and a box of 6 packs of star wars cookies (the popular snack in my kids classes these days) costs just about $3, which is the cheaper option?  I won’t lie and say almond flour is cheap – but the chicken finger recipe can come together in under $20 – how much would  you spend if you bought fast food for your family’s dinner?

I’ve talked about choice before . . . what choice are you going to make to ensure the health and happiness of your family . . . today, tomorrow, in the days that follow?  Because I know that I am going to continue to choose the “real” option.

 

Choice Part II (Choosing Happy over Fear)

Choose Happy

So I woke up yesterday morning absolutely terrified.  I had a sense things weren’t going to go well, and I was scared.  I was so scared, that I even, through tears, asked the Husband to meet me at the doctor’s appointment, which I try NEVER to do (handling these appointment on my own is my feeble attempt at bravery).

 

As I was making my way through my morning routine, whirling around the house in a nervous tizzy, I stopped long enough to check on the news and see what new articles had popped up in my blog reader over night.

Which is when the universe stepped in . . . I came across this amazing article on Understanding Fear  . . .and in it was this quote:

“Regardless if you’re a fatalist or into free will, the reasoning is still the same: either all outcomes have already happened and you’re just catching up to the choice you’ve already made or, nothing’s happened yet, there’s plenty of time to make a sound choice and you’re getting worked up over nothing!”.

I fully accept that this same sentiment has been relayed to me over the years; I just wasn’t ready to really hear it  . . . until yesterday.

And as this message slowly sunk in, my outlook on the day slowly started to change.

And I ended up having a spectacularly amazing day.

The appointment with my doctor went better than I could have ever imagined . . . I am overjoyed to report that I all my results came back perfectly normal.  In fact, they were all so normal, that after I have one more round of testing in June coupled with my annual MRI . . . I’ll be freed from MRI’s for THREE years.  Which pretty much means I’m cured . . . It’s now time to really leave all of this “tumour stuff” firmly in the past . . . and move full steam ahead with our lives.

The day also brought some lovely moments with the kids, the opportunity to meet new friend while waiting for my appointment (we were having such a great time chatting, when the Husband arrived, I couldn’t remember why I had asked him to come), and a chance meet-up and dinner with my dearest friend.

When I chose to slowly let go of choosing to give into the fear, and instead chose to look for the good, for the happy, well, shockingly (hah!), I found the good, the happy.

And so I will end this with my favourite refrain.  There is ALWAYS a choice.  We can choose how we live our lives; from what we do with our days to how we care for and feed ourselves and our loved ones.  And we can choose how we respond to the situations we are presented with.  No matter what we do, how “good” we are, or how much “good” we try to do, bad things will happen . . . but we ALWAYS have the choice in how we respond.

Have a great day and I hope you too can choose happy today, regardless of what gets thrown at you.

On Choice

viktor-frankl-space-choose

I’m particularly fond of the saying “you always have a choice”.  And I’m really good at applying those words of wisdom in some parts of my life; in others, well, let’s just say I have some work to do.

Yesterday, I had to go down to the hospital to have my blood drawn for my endocrinologist, which in and of itself was no big deal.  There was no traffic on the drive down to the hospital, I got parked easily on the first floor of the parking garage (a minor miracle for downtown Toronto), there was a minimal wait in the blood lab, and the nurse who drew my blood could not have been lovelier or better at her job.  Truth be told, my search for a Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar that commenced after I was done at the blood lab was far more distasteful than having my blood drawn.

So what’s the problem?

Well, my issues start the minute the nurse tapes the gauze over the pinprick in my arm and sends me on my way . That’s when the hamsters in my head hop on their metaphorical wheels and start running.  For between that moment and the moment when I’m sitting in the chair in the endocrinologists’ office to get my results, my brain will literally process about a billion thoughts along the lines of “What if . . . . . . . .”

EVERY time I do this (I have to have these blood tests done every 3 months), I go through the SAME thing.  EVERY time, I enter into the process with the mindset that ” This time, it will be different.  This time I won’t let it get to me.  This time, it really will just be no big deal”.  And in fairness, I have gotten better . . . gone are the days of complete hysteria / panic . . . And in fact this time, I thought I would get through it this time with just a mild sense of unease or discomfort.

Thought being the operative word.

Because when I got into the gym yesterday afternoon, I (sub)consciously decided to do some pretty stupid things.  PR two lifts in one day after a 10 day vacation.  Yup.  That seems like a super idea.  Why???  Because I needed to (sub)consciously prove to myself that I was stronger than all of this.  Because I needed to (sub)consciously prove to myself how far I have come.  Because  I needed to (sub)consciously feel something other than butterflies in my stomach.  And when I was called out by the Coach for being stupid (my words, not his . . .exactly) . . . well, I didn’t exactly take it so well.  I (sub)consciously chose to give into my fear, and I wanted to stay in that place.

But, in the quiet of my yoga classes that followed the gym, and the stillness of this morning before anyone in the house was awake, I had time to think.

It may take a while before I can get through these tests without some level of anxiety.  But I DO have a choice in how I respond to those feelings of nervousness.  And so, between now, and 9:30 on December 2nd (well, 9:45 realistically, because my endocrinologist is never on time) when I get my results, I am going to CHOOSE to acknowledge how I feel, but then I am going to CHOOSE to let those feelings go; to stop the thought train in its tracks.  And maybe, just maybe, if I practice this enough, this process will get a whole lot more enjoyable.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of choice, I am also going to choose some new recipes to make this weekend with the kids; hopefully posting at least one new nut-free, kid-approved snack later today/tomorrow!!

 

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