Tag Archives: health

The Love Is Powerful

The love is powerful…..

Just last week, I was spending the day with my family. This is a usual occurrence, and I am always so happy when the day comes around. My relatives all seem to feel the same way as they often mention how much joy this time brings them.

During this particular gathering, my grandmother made a comment about how she’s positive that these family events are one of the things that keep them going. It is no secret that negative human emotions can cause serious health problems. Illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity can all be results of anxiety and stress. My question was if positive human emotions that one feels when surrounding themselves with people they love, could have positive impacts on the human body and on human life spans.

I did some research, and I was able to find some scientific facts that could indeed prove that theory. For starters, relationships of love release a certain hormone known as Oxytocin in our bodies. This “love hormone” has been proven to bring us feelings of extreme happiness. That Oxytocin also has the ability to lower hormones such as Cortisol that weaken our immune system. Therefore, these loving relationships can directly lower the rate of sickness. Another proven fact is that people with older age experience less physical pain when they have close family relationships. The more emotional pain they feel, the more physical pain they feel. Along with that, people of older age that are in loving relationships tend to have sharper minds since those relationships have the ability to slow down mental decline over time. All in all, the quality of the close relationships in your life have the power to drastically change your physical and emotional well being.

By surrounding yourself with the people you love, you are proven to be healthier and more importantly, happier.
-Dani <3

Why I Wear Pink

There is a reason why I wear pink in October…

“It’s cancer, but I’m going to be okay”, she said as she moved around the kitchen making dinner.  My brother and I stood there speechless.  In typical fashion, my brother went on about his business of the night, while I, being the emotional basket case I am, immediately burst into tears.  My mom came over, wiped my tears, hugged me tight, and like a true mom does; comforted her daughter when in fact she was probably the one in that moment, who needed comforting.

My mom was 46 years old when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  The original course of treatment was for her to have a lumpectomy followed by radiation treatments.  After the lumpectomy, the doctors realized that the margin zones were too wide of an area so plans then had to change.  My mom then had to undergo a mastectomy and opted to have tram flap reconstructive surgery, where they took tissue from her abdomen to reconstruct her breast.

During her surgeries, treatments, and hospital stays, my mom was the epitome of strength.  I don’t recall ever seeing her cry, complain, or ask anyone for anything.  Throughout it all, she continued being…well, our mom.  The questions kept coming.  How were my classes going in college?  How were things going with my new boyfriend?  Was my brother doing his homework or going to his job?  Had someone, anyone, washed the towels or done a dish?  In true mom fashion, she was still more concerned about us than herself.  Friends and family came to visit and she would ask about their days or their lives; never focusing on the fact that she was sick.

Some people get a diagnosis like breast cancer, accept that they are sick, mope, or get angry at the world.   Not my mom.  She worked hard and did what she had to in order to become strong and healthy.  She researched natural healing, dietary changes, and exercised even more regularly.

I don’t know where she drew her strength from. Maybe from watching her own mother, my grandmother, be diagnosed and beat the same disease just a few years before.  Wherever it came from, she was an inspiration.

My mom has been blessed enough to have remained cancer free for 13 years now.  After her diagnosis, she became an active volunteer in the breast cancer community, and has spent even more time working with these organizations since she retired a few years ago.  She works with the American Cancer Society working at events like Bark for Life or the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk.  She donates her time to work with two local cancer organizations in our area, Hope Club and CRAAB; whether its performing administrative work, helping a cancer patient choose and get fitted for a wig, or just sitting with someone while they receive chemotherapy to provide comfort and moral support.

Almost four years ago, the cancer returned and yet again she fought like a warrior to beat this nasty disease and triumphed. My mom accepted her diagnosis both times and fought her illness with grace, dignity, positivity, strength, and determination.  During it all she continued babysitting her two small grandchildren and helping me, her single mother daughter, deal with my own breast cancer scare. Knee replacement and a broken femur followed later that year and again, not once did she complain or whine. She fought, worked hard and did whatever was necessary to get better as soon as possible all while taking care of her family and putting all of us and our needs first.

I urge everyone out there, young and old, to perform self-exams regularly and get their annual mammogram.  Know your family history and know your body.  Early detection is one of the best ways to fight this disease until we can find a cure.  Breast cancer is a terrible disease.  It doesn’t discriminate.  It can affect us all, young, old, black, white, rich, poor, etc.. It affects mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, friends, etc… But it can be treated and you can fight against it.

My mom accepted her diagnosis and fought her illness with grace, dignity, positivity, strength, and determination.  She is my hero.  She is why I wear pink.  My mom didn’t just beat cancer and get better…She kicked Cancer’s butt!

-Chrissie <3

What I’m Fighting For

What I’m Fighting For…

I’ve heard the worst of the worst in my 40 years of life.

“We found a mass. Quite honestly, I’m concerned.”
“It is malignant.  You have a 10 cm tumor.  There are also 2 spots in your left lung.”
“It’s stage 4.  Our best guess is you have a 10-15% chance of living the next 5 years.”
I’ve now been battling stage 4 colon cancer for 3 years. I’ve had 27 radiation treatments, 22 chemo treatments, more surgeries in the last 3 years than most have in a lifetime. I’ve somehow had such bad Sepsis that I was within hours of death.
Twice.
There is a looming fear that I have about 2 years left. That my 8 and 5 year old children won’t have their mom by their side as they start middle school and grade school. I try not to worry about that. I try to make every day the best I can for them. I want them to remember when I taught them to ride a two wheeler. And that I practiced their spelling words with them every single morning. I want them to think of fun zoo trips and every single Muffins With Mom event at school.  I pray they will remember what I went through for them. But not so much that they remember how sick the chemo made me. I want them to know that as sick as I was, it helped me be with them even one more day.
I’m fighting.  I’m fighting every single day.  I never want my kids to think I gave up on them. On life. As hard as it is, my will to live is for them. As I gear up for another round of 12 treatments, I worry about telling them. But I hope they’re proud. I hope they see what courage and strength there is in fighting Cancer.  I hope they remember that strength and courage when I’m at my weakest. And I hope they remember the light on the other side. When I can tell them, “The chemo worked.  The cancer is gone. No more chemo for a while.”
Because while the bad has been very bad, the good has been SO much better. We appreciate everything more. They don’t know my time is limited. They just know that I do what I do in order to be able to do the fun stuff later.
And while the Cancer fight is hell, it’s sure as hell worth it in order to take one more trip to the zoo next year.
-Kate

Change Is Hard But If There Is A Will There Is A Way

Change is always hard but if there is a will there is always a way.

When I was in class for my real estate license I became extremely sick. Severe bronchitis, and it wasn’t being made better by my 18 year cigarette smoking habit. One exhausting morning of coughing, hacking and not being able to breath I caught myself trying to smoke!  Then a first happened to me, I got angry at my habit/ dependance on cigarettes. I threw my pack away, and swore I would never touch one again.

This is not the first time I have tried to quit. I have attempted and failed many times. I knew I should quit and why I should quit, but there was always something holding me back. I would cling to the idea that it was a stress relief, or that I enjoyed it.  I’ve come to realize that’s all rationalization for what i truly had-an addiction and a pretty bad one, at that. I was smoking up to a  pack and a half to two packs a day and not slowing down.

It has been six months and counting since I have quit cold turkey. I currently live with a smoker and I do not miss it, one bit! I cannot stand the smell and I feel better. All it took was not allowing excuses to give up. Change is hard, especially a change like this but anything worth doing is going to be difficult. No more excuses, if there is a will there is away and I have found my will.

Always be unapologetically yourself,

-Ali

It’s A Win!

It’s a win!

I’ll be totally honest…sometimes doing the right thing to get to your goals can literally suck the life out of you. As someone who’s had Hashimotos Thyroiditis since I was 8 years old I now struggle with more than just my thyroid because I was put on synthroid at such an early age and it has degraded my bones. A lot of people who know me know I’ve been dealing with slipped discs, degenerative disc disease, & arthritis over the past few years. Two years ago I was having to do physical therapy just to function without pain (I am very anti meds which makes a lot of doctors dislike me or see me as a problem). Plus my TSH had creeped up over 7 (higher is actually lower & it should be between a 1.5-3) even on Armor Thyroid & I wondered if I would even be normal again on an even functional level.

Fast forward two years later. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of the negative people and stressors in my life, gotten a divorce, exercise, & limit my processed food intake. I’ve also lost a lot of weight-maybe not the quick fix way that’s popular these days but it’s been a slow and steady trip and in all honestly I’m still not at my goal weight or energy level. I still struggle with being motivated to get up, get moving, & out the door some mornings I’ll admit I drink a ton of coffee to function and be cheerful on the phone. But I’m working on myself-I’m just not speedy. Hopefully I’ll be there someday.

But….I did hit a huge goal this week….I hit single digit pants sizes. It’s an 8. Progress & I’m a functioning adult taking care of my boys and able to move without pain. Ironically this wasn’t with the huge weight loss I wanted (I weigh myself twice a day) but I noticed my pants (10s & 12s) were literally falling off-so I ran out one kid free night to find some pants. It’s not perfection but I’ll take it.

~Bethany

You can follow Bethany on her blog at https://fake-it-until-you-make-it.com

A Bunny Makes A Great Listener

As I am feeding fluids to my daughter’s new bunny with an eyedropper, I am abruptly reminded of my daughter’s first years where I had roughly the same fight each day. This bunny means so much to us and I tell him this. He needs to stick around.

There is no accurate way to describe the heavy, sick feeling of desperation and terror that accompanies having an infant who cannot breathe, who cannot nurse or easily drink. This bunny forces me to remember just how much I hate that feeling. “I can’t lose this one” should not be a mantra for your life yet it was mine for a very, very long time.

This little bunny reminds me of the painful past we both survived.

This little bunny reminds of all we do as Moms.

How we beat ourselves up, turn ourselves inside out, drag ourselves to work and back, power through a stomping child’s tantrums, emergency room visits and the landfill of toys that is your house.

This bunny reminds me of what I have done.

With complete certainty, I knew my daughter was meant for me. She was my Rory Gilmore. It was going to be rainbows and puppy dogs forever. We would hold hands and skip off into the sunset.

So why can’t we get out of our own way? Why can’t we just enjoy each other each day?

Sucked down in the muck of trudging to work (and school), the sadness of leaving them only to have your hopes dashed at the end of the day when, excited and happy to see your child, you get a possessed Linda Blair instead.

Why can’t I handle her moods better and create a warm-happy-daydream evening for us every day?

I dream of long vacations where there are no time constraints, no looming job over my head, no homework, no chores, no mess. When we do get a vacation every few years, it is bliss and flies by in a blink. So how do I create a vacation kind of bond with my child? How do I feed that tethered link of love and connection every day?

The answer I have is to listen.

Listen with my nose in my phone? Nope. I must listen with my whole being. Listening with all of my heart and my eyes wide open is like directing a beam of light shining down on her that says,
“I care. I give a crap. I want to know what you do, how you think, what you dream about.”

Obvious, right?

My challenge, see how long you can listen to your child without putting away groceries and turning away, without putting away clothes, cleaning up a mess. Just stop. Maybe it is not always feasible but the times you can, do it. Make it a habit. Research suggests it takes 21 days to form a habit so try for 21 days to take moments of the day to stop everything and listen.

I know. I am the only one that keeps us on a schedule too and in the morning I often say,
“You can tell me in the car.” ”You can tell me after we get home.”

Sometimes she just needs me to stop and I feel I have forgotten this.

This little bunny is part of my elaborate plan for everyday is a vacation, when you are doing what you love with the people you want to be with. This means mom-daughter bonding moments in the care and cuddling of bunnies and road trips to rabbit shows. We joined 4H, which means among other things, visits to farms, joining a rabbit club, holding and posing animals. “I recommend 4H for every child. There are limitless opportunities to grow and learn with 4H. Real world opportunities for kids to master their future. And for us, 4H is the vacation in everyday life that we get to repeat every week.

A lot rides on this little bunny. My daughter now has a little furry person of her own to worry about, to care for, love and cuddle. Who will hopefully drink.

Thank you little bunny. Good talk.

Bernae

Life Ain’t Always Beautiful

 

 

I’m the baby of five children with eleven years separating me from the youngest of my siblings.  You can rest assured that I’ve been asked at least fifty-eleven times if I was a mistake.  The short answer is no.  Have you ever known me to stop with the short answer?  Okay, so you know that this time is no different and you know that I have a story to tell.

My grandfather, my Mom’s dad, was an electrician, and they moved around quite a bit.  When they lived in Kentucky though, they lived about a block and a half away from where my dad grew up.  My mom and my dad went to the same school during those years and walked the same sidewalks and my dad thought my mom was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I made my mom tell me this story.  She was so very shy.  She knew that Dad had a crush on her and so she would see him coming and she would cross the street to the opposite sidewalk to try to avoid running into him.  Lord knows that every socially awkward statement that has ever come out of my mouth was the exact reason my mother opted to go with avoidance.  I regret nothing.  I wish.

By high school, my mother was living in Michigan and my dad was in a military boarding school.  Their lives had moved in totally different directions.  Mom graduated from high school and got married.    Mom had four children in a very short period of time.  Which is why when I say she was always the most patient person alive, I can speak with confidence.  Dad joined the Army, got married and when the Vietnam War began he found himself in Japan.

Then the unthinkable happened.  My mother’s first husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident.  My mother was a widow and my siblings had lost their father.  I can’t imagine what that time was like for my mother but she ended up packing up her four young children and moving back to Kentucky.  Around the same time, my dad was newly divorced and also making his way back to Kentucky…

So this is NOT where I’m going to pretend that their marriage was magical or perfect or even hard in the way that every marriage is hard because I don’t think that would be accurate or fair.  I think it was pretty difficult.  But I also think that my mom really, really, really, loved my dad, (and I know she still does), and I know that my dad really, really, really, loves my mom and always has.

Dad is in the hospital.  It’s becoming the norm lately.  I guess that’s how it is when you have stage four cancer.  I have sat with him through appointment after appointment and over and over I have heard doctors ask him what he wants.  What his expectations are.  What his concerns are.  What questions he has.  Over and over I have heard  his answers begin with, “My wife has Alzheimer’s…”

Tonight was no different.  The cardiologist asked him if he wanted them to try to resuscitate him if he coded and Dad began with his usual, “My wife has Alzheimer’s.”  Then he continued with the same responses I have heard him give every single doctor since he was first diagnosed.

My wife has Alzheimer’s.  She’s in Calvert City.  I just want to be able to drive there to see her.  I don’t want to be too sick to do that.  I just want to be able to see her as long as I can.  She looks forward to seeing me.  She has the biggest smile when I walk in.”

Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but maybe love doesn’t have to be.

Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful life.

<3 LA

You can see more of LA at https://sweeterinthesouth.blog/

The Life Of Normal

I am normal. What I consider to be normal anyway. I have brown hair and blue eyes. My skin is nothing spectacular. My body is what I consider normal. I am 5’7” and have the body of a mom of 3. I am a size 14. I have the dreaded C-section shelf (I had 3). I have saggy boobs but they still look pretty decent. I am a B/C cup. I have a kind of saggy butt. My thighs shake when I walk and I have cellulite. My arms aren’t bad but they jiggle. My stomach is…well…my stomach. I have a muffin top. I wear minimal makeup…don’t get my toes done…or my nails…or tan in a tanning bed. Normal.

I am also divorced, a mom of 3 and 36 years old. Yeah…there is all that!

So I would say I am pretty normal. I am working on feeling better about my normal self though. I will never be perfect. I will never be skinny. I will never have the perfect stomach and that is okay…most of the time.

I can however have a body that I am more comfortable it. That doesn’t mean starving myself or running until I pass out. It doesn’t even mean joining a gym.

Let me tell you what I have been doing for the past 2 months. I have slowly been changing the way I eat. I do mean slowly. I have been watching my calories…not stressing but really keeping an eye on them. I have been trying to eat healthy. You would be surprised how many calories you can consume when you don’t think about it. Don’t get me wrong…I still eat the damn cake!

I have also started adding in exercise. I hate it. I have 3 kids so where is the time…where is the privacy…and don’t get me started on interruptions. I use workouts on YouTube. These workouts are 4 – 10 minutes. You don’t have to about die to feel like you have done a work out. You don’t have to have hours to incorporate them in your day. Just minutes. Let me tell you…I feel so much better when I do them. I am not as consistent with them as I would like to be but baby steps, you know!

Society tells us that we have to take that major jump…keto…30 day challenges…but I am telling you we don’t have to add this stress to our lives. Believe me I have enough to deal with being a working, single mom of 3 kids! I am sure you do too! So I guess the point is…baby steps. A little effort will go a long way and don’t be afraid to be normal while you are taking those steps!


~Ann~

Halfway To 90 and Still Going Strong

My next birthday will fall upon Wednesday of next week. I will be halfway to the age of 90.

Let me take a breath to take this all in, insert heavy pregnant pause here. This drove my mind today. Try as I might, the numbers weren’t posting because my brain was sitting in Las Vegas. At a very posh hotel, baking in the sun, drinking a pina colada. This was how I celebrated 40.

What could I say at 40? I pontificated while sunbathing by the pool. Trying to feel adult and put together a respectful lesson to deliver on the return  to KY. Have I found the key to success? Did I have it all? Was I ever going to go back to college? Chase my career of working in law? Too heavy a subject for that day. I did keep asking myself: what is 40? Until I came home. And for the next 60 days, it was the same question. My much anticipated aha moment came in August.

Literally, overnight, a rash erupted on my lower arm. The biopsy returned with sjogren’s syndrome and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. I sat in shocked silence. This was the answer to my fatigue, to the butterfly rash on my face, the reason why my eyes are dry. Yes! I have the reason. Great! Flip that onto the not so great. I have two autoimmune disorders that are incurable. Chronic for the rest of my days.

This was the awakening that I was having for 40. It was time to chuck the small mindedness of everyday life. It was the kick in the backside to learn to enjoy my time on Mother Earth. It was time to live my life out loud and to do as I please. It was time to step forward and “do me”.

Five years later, I still wake up with the same credo. It hasn’t failed me yet. Don’t wait for the diagnosis to get your attention. Step up everyday and “do you”. It’s the best feeling in the world!

Striving for exceptional-Tristen Ahlsey

COLOR Me Healthy!

Color Me Healthy…..

Powerful Phytochemicals

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you should eat fruits and vegetables. That’s like telling someone they should breathe clean air and drink pesticide-free water and not sit naked on an ice block; common knowledge stuff.

But despite the universal recommendation to eat fruits and vegetables, few people know why, other than the usual vague generalities. Go ahead, ask someone. Ask your mother. Maybe she took an introductory nutrition class in college so she’ll say, “Because of the riboflavin, honey,” but she’d be only partly right.

The reason fruits and vegetables are good for us isn’t only because of the vitamins and minerals in them (although they’re certainly a plus), but because of the incredibly wide array of phytochemicals they contain.

Whenever you hear someone ascribe some miraculous power to a fruit or vegetable, like avocados cure cancer or that pomegranate gives you hefty, carrot-like erections, it’s because of the biologically active compounds in plants known as phytochemicals.

Some, however, appear to be far more powerful than others and may keep your liver healthy, shore up your heart, give you super night vision, coerce your fat cells into disgorging fat, and preferentially cause nutrients to be stored in muscle. Luckily, the most powerful of these phytochemicals can easily be identified by their color.

The Color That Shouts “Eat Me”

Here’s how the classification system breaks down:

  • Phytochemicals contain major categories like carotenoids and polyphenols.
  • These major categories, in turn, include phenolic acids, flavanoids, and stilbenes/lignans.
  • Flavanoids include the flavones, flavanones, flavanols, isoflavones, and anthyocyanins.

It’s possible to break them down even further and in different directions, but it’s this last subcategory that contains phytochemicals of particular interest, and that’s the anthocyanins.

They’re found in teas, honeys, wines, nuts, olive oils, cocoa, cereals, and certain fruits and vegetables. Some foods, in particular though, are colored red, purple, or indigo (blue), and that means they’re stuffed with anthocyanins. It’s the blue or indigo color that might be the most powerful of all, though.

Why Anthocyanins Are So Dang Cool

Here’s a short list of some of the things anthocyanins do:

  1. Shrinks body fat and grows muscle: Science is always looking for a pill that mimics the effects of exercise. We already have one. It’s called the blueberry. The fruit is rich in a particular anthocyanin called cyanidin 3-glucoside and multiple studies have shown it causes muscles to slurp up carbs from the blood. That way, you give muscles what they need to grow while simultaneously preventing fat cells from expanding.
  2. Fights diabetes: Since anthocyanins, cyanidin 3-glucoside, in particular, help muscles become more insulin sensitive and absorb more sugar, they have the potential to be a functional food against diabetes. In one study they fared better than the anti-diabetic drug acarbose in inhibiting alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase, two enzymes that break down starches to glucose.
  3. Prevents cancer: Various studies have shown anthocyanins to stop metastasis of breast cancer cells; to block tumor cells from forming in cases of prostate cancer; to fight colon cancer; to prevent pre-cancerous mouth tumors from becoming malignant; and to stop cancer metastasis in general.
  4. Boosts brain power: Anthocynanins have been shown to slow the rate of cognitive decline.
  5. Improves vision: Anthocyanins can improve night vision and prevent eye fatigue.
  6. Promotes liver health: Livers fortified by anthocyanins are much less prone to alcohol damage.
  7. Ensures heart health: A study with over 93,600 young and middle-aged women found that anthocyanins reduced risk of heart attack by 32%. The phytochemicals also keep blood pressure low.

What Foods Contain Anthocyanins?

As mentioned, any natural food that’s red, indigo (blue), or purple likely contains a good deal of anthyocyanins, stuff like blueberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, eggplant, plums, grape juice, prunes, red wine, apples, red beans, red beets, purple rice, and strawberries.

The only problem is that the bioavailability of anthocyanins is ridiculously low. Studies have shown that after eating plant matter rich in anthocyanins, less than 1% were detectable in plasma and urine, which is all the more reason to eat as many of them on a regular basis as possible (the theory being that the more you eat, the more anthocyanins you jam through).