Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Challenge, a Request, a bit of information..and a big thank you as well

Check this out....request and offer at the end...

Well, we learned something the past two days. When it snows in the south...especially the deep south... everything stops. Cold. Traffic on interstates and on side roads came to a standstill, schools and businesses were closed, emergency first responders were begging people to stay home. Over a few inches of snow. Of course it is true that as a rule we do not have to deal with snow as our neighbors to the north and west of us do on a regular basis.We don't have the snow removal and preventative equipment and we are distracted in our quest to obtain that bread and milk.

We were warned late last year that this would be a cold winter. Many scoffed at the idea, naysayers laughed and ridiculed those who were concerned and tried to prepare. My own husband mentioned that we were given pretty much the same warning every year so I shouldn't be worried. But I know me, and I don't do cold well. Once I get cold, it is extremely difficult to get warm...and when I get cold, I become a big baby. I whine...... I complain.....I drive my son to distraction as I try to get wood for our wood burning stove. (He is blessed in that he doesn't get as cold as I do and has been known to run around barefoot with snow on the ground.)

I say all of that to get to this.

You know by now that I am and have been a participant in and supporter of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life for the past 6 years. As a cancer survivor, I try to do what I can to help put an end to cancer. I support the fundraising in the hopes of supporting the research to find a cure/ preventative for cancer. I want to help fund the HOPE House, the Look Good Feel Better programs, the wigs/ hats, the rider programs and all of the other ways that the ACS is working to fight cancer.  One of the ways of course is in fundraising. Ever so often we are issued a challenge, the one meeting the challenge of course is recognized in some way, shape or form. And yes, we have been issued a challenge..
As shown in the picture.. the one raising the most money between now and Sunday Feb. 2nd will receive a Relay, that is something that would help keep me, if y'all would be so kind as to help me win this blanket by donating any amount, large or small, I will do two I will not complain about being cold (unless the power goes out or the temps drop to some record level) and I will give the person who donates the most a prize..I'm not exactly sure what yet but it will be something worthwhile I promise. You would then be accomplishing two things.. one you would be supporting the fight to end cancer and you would be gaining a time of quiet from me at least in dealing with being cold.....

You can see me personally, I will gladly accept a check made out to the American Cancer Society or..
You can donate easily online here: This is my personal page:

Remember as well, I have a fan page on facebook called HEART for a Cure. I'm sharing information that I find as well as personal stuff from time to time..Help put an end to cancer..we have all been touched in some way..together we can help so that no one else has to hear the words, "You have cancer". Together..
We are still accepting and collecting canned goods for the Lumanaria bags and taking orders for those same Lumanaria bags $10 each either in honor of or in memory of...we are also still seeking corporate sponsors just message me..
Thank you for all you do to help in the fight against cancer..

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

an apple a day.. lessons in fighting the choke

 I recently wrote about apples. I have often heard about their health benefits, that "....keep the doctor away" line repeats like a mantra in my head. The Good Lord knows after my cancer keeping the doctor away except for things such as annual physicals is exactly what I want to accomplish. The thing with me is that for some reason when ever I have attempted to eat raw, unpeeled apples the peeling would choke me. No, not the grabbing the throat, gasping for air, going to my knees choking but that coughing fit that has people looking at you as if they expect the a fore mentioned fit. I am able to eat cooked apples all day long, but raw, no.
 It was a shame too, apples are really delicious raw. You get that first crunch as you bite into them and the sweet juices flow into your mouth awakening your taste buds to something very special. How is it that something that tastes so good, is also packed with such a good for you punch? How many natural things curb your hunger? How many natural things have all those anti-oxidants and nutrients that help prevent cancers and balance blood sugars? And this is a very short only partial listing.  Still, that choking thing can be and actually is..embarrassing.
 When I thought about it, I couldn't help but wonder how much of the choking was real, and how much was something subconscious? Is it possible that at some point long ago in my childhood I did actually choke on an apple and a buried fear of apples and the possibility of another choking incident causes the coughing and therefore ending my desire for apples? Could it be that I'm simply not chewing them thoroughly enough allowing the bigger sections of peel to grate against the inside of my throat, and the irritation then causing the cough? I really doubt that I will ever ask the doctor that line of question. My doctors wonder enough about my thought processes, why make it worse?
  But now today, today was a different story. I had gone out the other day and purchased a bag of Fugi apples. My husband had eaten some of that type not too long ago and loved them, so I thought I would give them a try. I brought the bag home and placed it on the counter, then walked around it for days. I could see them there, waiting their turn. I saw them when I reached over the bag for my daily banana. I saw them as I went about cutting up the sweet peppers for my salad. I kept looking over the bag, knowing I purchased them, I needed to eat them.
 Finally I opened the bag and brought out the first apple. My first apple in a very long time. biting into the apple was an experience of many facets. There was that initial crunch, the flavor of the juice, the texture of the fruit and the knowledge I was eating better as the apple replaced that sandwich of peanut butter and honey on whole grain bread with flax seed. It sounds okay, but when I say peanut utter, I mean a layer thick enough to mire up automobiles. I ate the apple slowly, chewing carefully and fully, enjoying each bite. I managed to consume the entire apple without getting choked once.  I was almost arrogant in my joy as I moved to trash the core. Slam dunking it into the can, then wiping my hands but not able to wipe that smile from my face.
  You may wonder why I'm making such a big deal out of eating an apple. When I do something like eat an apple it means I didn't eat junk food. It means that I didn't consume half a jar of peanut butter on one sandwich. It means, that I ignored that long list of reasons/excuses that would have stopped me and I ate the apple anyway and in spite of the voices reciting the list with items such as candy, pastry, chocolate. It shows that I am growing ever more serious about this new healthy decisions I'm making.
  We can all do this. We can grow determined to be better, be healthier, be more in tune with what our body needs. We can fight back against all of the things causing us NOT to do what we know needs doing. We can make the time to exercise, even a few minutes a day makes a difference. Take the stairs, walk, don't spend all your time sitting, strength train, join a fitness club, etc...We can do what we need do if we so determine that we will.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Creating a health fanatic..step one.. getting back to one's roots..

                    no, it really doesn't have anything to do with healthy eating, but I liked it

I'm not a health fanatic--but I'm becoming one.

 Years ago because of my dad's health, my mother began cooking with less salt and more alternative seasonings. Because of that I don't use a lot nor do I need a lot of salt in my food. Now, I do love seasoned, flavorful foods, but that doesn't necessarily mean salted. I am weaned enough from salt that I have ordered food in restaurants that I have actually been unable to eat because of the amount of salt that has been added. When I purchase canned vegetables, I  go for the unsalted but still rinse before use as much as possible. You can rinse beans, tomatoes not so much.
 Thanks to my mother's quest to take care of my dad's health we learned to eat better and she prepared better, more healthy foods-not that her cooking was bad, my mother was and still is an amazing cook. It is my hope that someday my son will think as highly of my cooking. That in itself is another reason I've started working on making the changes that I have.
 I will confess that several years ago I fell into that convenience trap of using prepared foods. You know, those frozen, ready to microwave meals? Using them so much that I believe my son had dubbed me micro-mom. He never said it out loud..but. They were so easy, lift from freezer, remove packaging, pop into microwave and then wa la, a steaming hot..something.. straight from the microwave to the table. Now, I'm not saying that all these things are bad, but look at the sodium content. Look at the listing of ingredients, half of which I couldn't even pronounce. Then, when my cholesterol levels began to go up, I knew it was time to back track a bit. It was time to return to my roots of home cooked meals that you had a much better idea of what was in them.
  I've been collecting cookbooks for a while. I have heart health, I have slow cooker, I have good for you bad for you books, I have cookbooks that have been gifts from family and friends. Until recently I barely looked at them. It was only when I needed something special that the pages were turned. When my doctor instructed me (earlier it had been a recommendation, now it is an instruction) to go on a new lifestyle plan I began looking for information on what he was telling me to begin. Dr. Michael Roizen, connected often with Dr. Oz was what he told me to check out and begin. Internet searches brought me lots of tid bits but not the in depth information I craved. I now own a copy of a book titled You, The Owner's Manual. I have only begun to read it so I can't share much information on that. I know that this lifestyle first recommends avoiding sugar, walk no less than ten thousand steps a day, move, find ways to lessen stress among other changes. I also have a couple other books that are centered on more healthful choices and ways of cooking them. There is also the internet and the variety of information waiting to be found.
I have in the recent past mentioned that I have cut back on my sugar consumption. Now my cup of coffee contains only a minute amount of non dairy cream which I am slowly making my way away from. I no longer drink any sodas, and only the occasional glass of sweet tea. My two go to choices being my coffee and water. Being on well water I usually just fill up my reusable water containers and carry that with me to work. I am working on that sweet habit that I have. It isn't easy. Today my mother purchased a large bag of candy and a box of cookies for dad. I'm following her around these aisles and suffering big time. The temptation to add some sweet treat to my cart was almost over whelming. I was however stronger than the craving and made it out of the store without junk food. I have learned that when I'm home and the craving gets too bad, I can prepare a bowl of cereal with tiny dark chocolate pieces and that settles the desire. One thing I did leave the store with was a handful of seed packets, more on that in a minute. 
 I remember growing up there really wasn't a lot of sweets in the house. When mom went shopping she would purchase one bag of cookies and one bag of candy bars. That was to last the family a week, you had to ask permission to get any of it so that mom and dad could make sure it was distributed fairly. My addiction to sugar began some time around then as I remember actually hoarding candy and cookies. I was actually storing them in a drawer to eat in private. I was devastated when mom found my stash of junk food and removed it. I didn't start another collection but I still craved the sugar, often buying those fundraising candy bars at school. Years later I would carry bags of candy to work with me to eat through out the day. I could go through a large bag a day and think nothing of it. I have since learned that sugar is addictive. I know too that addictions aren't cured, they are managed. You are at constant battle with yourself over what your body misses and craves. It is up to you to decide whether you want to be healthy and strong no matter what addiction you are fighting as they all have their own set of potential problems.
 I have also learned that sugar is hidden in our foods in many different forms. One needs to learn the various names for sugar so as to know exactly how much they are consuming. Trying to be healthy and going "low-fat" check out how much sugar has been added to keep flavor in the food where fat has been removed. Oh and that evasive "artificial flavoring" ingredient, that scares me. Not to mention all the ingredients that only a scientist can pronounce.
  I'm sure my son is much more appreciative of real food for our meals. I know very little is left over, for that I'm glad. Tonight's meal was meatloaf made with lean ground beef, with added tomatoes and onions, oatmeal and eggs along with a seasoning mix. Mixed frozen vegetables and stewed potatoes from fresh potatoes cut up and cooked with a touch of sea salt and black pepper.
  I love fresh fruits and vegetables. I have added many to my diet and try new ones as I am able. I am already working on the garden I intend on planting for the coming season. I've spoken with my mother about using the place they had for a garden being they don't plan on planting one as their area gets much more and better sunlight than mine. I have plans on doing some container plants in areas of my yard that are no longer accessible for my plant eating dog. I hope to grow some tomatoes and peppers there, cucumbers where I had them last year as they came in abundantly enough to share and other vegetables such as beans and okra down at mom's. You can do so much with fresh, homegrown vegetables. You know what is in them, you know what you have prepared them with. You know what you have in the containers if you have enough to can or freeze. I know of very little else that tastes as good as something fresh picked from the garden. One good thing, vegetables are good for you, depending on how you prepare them, you can eat more without causing harm to your weight and waist.
    I realize that as I age, taking care of my health is going to be a growing challenge. As a cancer survivor I know the possibility of its return is always there. I don't dwell on it, but I don't deny that either. So I eat more raw produce. Every check of my cholesterol levels has been higher, I do NOT want to go on any medication to bring it down- so more raw produce. I do take a multivitamin and a few supplements, but I prefer to get as much needed nutrients from my food- which means more raw fruits and vegetables and less red meat. I do enjoy fish and poultry, and I've began to learn how to prepare venison as well, so I don't have to give up meat entirely, but in truth, I don't know how much I would miss red meat if I did walk away from it. 
  I'm a long way from being a health fanatic..and I use the word fanatic as in meaning one is determined to be more healthy and yes happy as time progresses and I learn and add more to this lifestyle change. right now, we'll go slowly and carefully and learn along the way. Along the way back to one's roots of cooking the old fashioned way from scratch and good, simple ingredients that one not only knows what they are, but can pronounce without a science degree.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

An apple a day.. what does the information say?

     So many choices, so much to learn, so much to appreciate. One of the things that we have repeatedly been told is to eat fruit. The amount may vary depending on who is doing the recommending, but the reason to eat it is always the same. We need to eat fruit because fruit is good for us in many ways. But, what are the ways? I decided to find out just what the benefits of the various fruits are. Starting us off, is the apple.

    I will admit that most of the apples that I've eaten have been baked in a pie. Even as good as apple pie is (especially with ice cream and coffee), unfortunately it should be reserved for those special treats with care taken in the size of the serving. The information at the following link gives the information on what is in those pies and why even though apples are healthy, baking them in a pie while it adds flavor doesn't add health benefits.
and this:

    What about raw apples? From the research that I have done  it seems that by all appearances apples are a super fruit. Especially if you eat it peeling and all. You want of course to wash the apple really well to remove any contaminants that may be on it. There are washes that you can purchase to wash your fruits and vegetables or you can make your own. You can find  directions and  tips for making your own here:

  If you've ever visited a farmer's market, an apple festival an apple farm, or even a super market you have probably noticed that there are many different types of apples. The different types also have varying degrees of the many nutrients they contain. Some apples are better for cooking and some for eating raw. Most bags will have the information on them as to which purpose they suit best.

One of the things that amazed me as I was dancing about the internet doing my research on apples are the many good things they do for our health. As a cancer survivor who is determined to do what I can to prevent cancer's return all this good news about apples is exciting to read. The over all cost of apples is not that great for the benefits they provide. Left unpeeled they are easily transported for that go to snack. There are many ways to prepare apples that are healthy and some may even give that pie a run for its calories.

As I have aged my cholesterol levels have started to go up. The numbers are not in a dangerous level but the fact that they continue to climb is of concern. That is the reason the doctor told me he wanted me to try a different lifestyle. One that encompassed a change of diet, a change of mindset, learning to avoid stress or how to deal with it and getting up from this chair and getting some exercise. That was one of the reasons I was excited to find this web page. The first benefit listed was of apples lowering cholesterol.

This next link has a listing of the nutrients in 100 grams of apple. To be the size it is, this is one fruit that packs a healthy punch. I could list all the benefits, but the authors of these pages have done an exceptional job on providing information. Each link has a listing of the nutrients and the health benefits for consuming this particular fruit.

The following link will take you to a page with some interesting apple facts.

Following are a few more links to information on apples and their benefits.
 I knew when I was diagnosed with breast cancer that I was beginning a journey that would last a life time. Now having cholesterol levels slowly elevating the journey takes another turn. As I learned how to deal with my cancer, I will learn how to deal with and combat this enemy. As we go along the way I'm hoping to post more information that I learn on eating healthy. I know that I have to make a change, and to make an effective change I have to know what I'm doing. so I search and research and learn. In the learning I grow, and I hope grow healthier.

An apple a day--along with blueberries and strawberries and banana and..

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Nutrition and news

So where does one begin when they want to improve their diet? What better place to start than the first meal of the day? What we have for breakfast--and we definitely should eat breakfast--is the day starter for better health.

I love eggs, always have, always will. There is a problem though with eggs and that is the discussion on whether they are good for you- or bad. When my cholesterol levels kept going up I knew that one of the things I was going to have to give up were my daily eggs. Two large eggs six days a week was too much by far, especially when the diet in the lifestyle change only allows two a week. I decided to simply give them all up, it was easier that way. So what does one eat in place of eggs and bacon or sausage, or ham? Yes, I did say in place of bacon, sausage and ham as those are processed meats with high fat, sodium and nitrates.

There are of course egg substitutes or eating egg whites for those who can't completely walk away from eggs. Another option is high fiber, whole grain cereal with low fat or even non-dairy milk substitute such as the one made from almonds. I've tried one of these, it has a very smooth taste but I should have gotten the unsweetened as the one I purchased is almost too sweet tasting. What I have chosen to do is prepare old fashioned oatmeal with the least amount of salt possible and add ground flax seed, cinnamon and then fruit such as raspberries and blueberries. Any fresh fruit would work. I have come to find that this breakfast stays with me until my first break at work and I'm not trying to find ways to get to the snack machine or having to bring extra snacks to get me through.

When it comes to my coffee I've managed to wean myself from that teaspoon of sugar and almost all the nondairy cream. I drink one or two cups before I leave the house and then the time spent at work is water but for the vegetable juice drink that I have first break. You've heard it, you know it.. we need water, lots of water. It keeps the body hydrated and helps to flush out the toxins and waste in our body.

 Breakfast gets us going. It awakens your dozing metabolism and gets it moving. You are better prepared to handle the day and less likely to seek out high calorie low benefit snacks. 

What, you may be asking, does all of this have to do with my usual, fight against cancer? Our over all health can and does go a long way in the helping prevent cancer. If we eat good, wholesome foods our body is healthier, more able to do the tasks that await us each day and we are happier to boot. Eating a variety of good foods has benefits. The oatmeal (not the instant as that has added stuff you don't want) :

Benefit of blueberries:,,20306607_1,00.html
Benefit of raspberries:

Our body needs many nutrients to function as it should. We can get some of them from supplements, but its much more enjoyable to get them through the food choices that we make. It is also much more satisfying when we know we are keeping ourselves healthier and  working to prevent cancer from making an appearance.

Now.. Relay for Life news. Much is going on with our Relay. First up is a fundraiser at Buffalo Wild Wings.. January 20th all day long, Buffalo Wild wings will donate 10% of all pretaxed food sales, (less alcohol and promotional discounts) to our Relay for Life event.

January 31st is the Barbecue at the First Baptist Church in Stanley. 11:00am to
6:00 pm $7.00 a plate, dine in or carry out. There will be delivery available for ten plates or more within a ten mile radias.

February 17th Niko's Grill will donate 15% of profit to Relay.

We are also taking orders for luminaria bags.. in honor of or in memory of or if you want to honor a caregiver..$10 ea. Get with me and I can fix you up on that.
If you want to be a corporate sponsor, or know someone who would.. I can set you up with that as well.

We are still collecting canned goods for the luminary bags. At the end of the Relay for Life event the team that has stayed all night and participated in the events will go into a drawing, the winner gets all of the cans collected to donate to the charity/ pantry/ food bank of their choice..

If you would like to help out, join my team, I'll put you to work. You can donate time, talent, goods or yes, money..sign up, if you're a survivor you get a survivor shirt and invited to dinner. If you are a participant and raise $100 you get a participant shirt..and my heartfelt thanks.

There's more to come.. join us to find out what's next..

its up to us to finish this. Its up to us to be strong for those who can't. Its up to us to stop this so that no one else will have to deal with cancer, its effects, the fight, the loss of loved ones..we can do this...together.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Not Diet... but a Lifestyle Change

  Here it is, day 7 of the new year. I am trying hard to get into a good routine for better health. I won't lie,it isn't easy. When you have been lazy for so long and then begin to make changes, the body and mind rebel. While I don't actually hear quiet or not so quiet voices in my head telling me that we could exercise later, or that a batch of hot brownies would be so good at that moment, I recognize the urges within.
 A lot of days I wear a pedometer at work, but I know that I meet and surpass the recommended ten to thirteen thousand steps so I don't wear it every day. I need to start giving it more attention at home and get back into my nature walks, weather permitting. For the days that it doesn't, I do have a manual treadmill  and an elliptical that I've had for who knows how long. Both have not seen much activity until recently. I'm starting slow and building up my time a little each day in the hopes of preventing injury to muscles unaccustomed to this type activity. It is becoming easier to work out when the television is on as it does help in distracting me from the screaming coming from my muscles.
 The current plan is, once the weather warms up enough, I will start using the hill behind the house as a way to build up my stamina and wind. Its a steep enough hill to cause exertion but not so steep as to need climbing gear. If I go up and down this hill several times I know I will be using most if not all the muscle groups and cleanse the lungs through some very deep and heavy breathing. I feel this hill will be my best bet for the build up I need, and being right in my own back yard helps.
 I am doing better than I thought I would as far as cutting back on the sugar. I have read multiple reports on how cancer feeds on sugar in the body. Recommendations are to cut out the sugar. That is what I am attempting to do as best I can. I do not drink sodas at work, and very rarely do I drink them at home. Usually the only time I drank any soda was after I did my grocery shopping I would purchase one and drink maybe a fourth of it. The rest would languish in the fridge until someone else would come along and finish it off. I've decided to cut them out totally. I've tried to quit purchasing bottled water to help keep plastic out of the landfills (having purchased a reusable container) but I'll buy water over soda. I've also cut my candy consumption back to near nothing. That, if you knew me, you would know to be a major accomplishment. The one thing that I had not done until now was to cut out or cut back on the chocolate pudding that I would take to work with me to eat with my strawberries. This past week I purchased the mix for dark chocolate pudding and a pack of small containers. I can now put just enough pudding in these to eat along with the strawberries and not have half a container left over to either  waste or consume. Being I don't like waste and no one would want to eat pudding after me I've been finishing it off. Now I won't have that to worry about. I'm also getting every close to drinking black coffee. I'm actually close enough that the other day when the small (less than an eighth of a teaspoon) amount of sugar didn't fully dissolve it was not a pleasant taste. Even though I am taking this slow, it isn't easy. Your body- my body- has become so used to getting that sugar that when it isn't there you do suffer withdrawals as if from narcotics because processed sugar is a drug. A highly addictive drug.
 As far as diet goes, I haven't really cut anything fully out. I will say that as I learn better methods and recipes I'm careful as to my portions. If I prepare a store bought pizza I take a small slice but prepare for myself a good size salad with plenty of fresh vegetables and greens with a small amount of dressing.  If I feel hunger pains later I have fruit on hand. The way I see it, I allowed the sugar addiction long ago, so now I have to own my mistake and retrain my body to like and prefer fruit and vegetables over the processed.
 I don't need to lose weight even though I am losing some. I need to stop the slow climb of my cholesterol levels. I need to live healthier in the hope and desire to prevent my cancer from returning. When I was undergoing to treatments I couldn't eat the processed sugars and could only stomach one cup of coffee first thing in the morning. Once the battle was over I slowly returned to old habits. its time to make some new ones. For better health for me, for a hoped for longer life that I may be here for my family, and that I may have the energy to reach out to others and do what I am able to help them.
It isn't a diet, not really.... its a lifestyle change, just as the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Learning Sugar and its many aliases with links

 The journey is key.

   I am beginning this new lifestyle. I am trying to be careful in the food that I prepare and that I (and my family) consume. 
 The first thing that has been severely cut back is processed sugar intake. I do not generally consume much in the way of soda. Usually I will take only a few sips from the bottle before I replace the cap and walk away. My drink of choice is coffee but I'm learning to like water. Simple, cold, calorie free, well water. I use a reusable container that I fill at home to drink from and carry extra water in a larger container that remains in my personal cooler. (Saves money and space in the landfills)  I don't like many of those little packets as so many of them contain sugar or sugar substitutes. The many fake sugars created from chemicals plain taste bad to me and I've yet to read much of anything positive about them. I do plan on finding the best ways to add real fruit flavoring to water for those days when I want something more. Not only will it be a refreshing change but with certain fruits it will be beneficial to my health.
  Water itself has many healthful benefits in that it prevents dehydration (caffeinated drinks do not prevent it and in some cases actually may lead to dehydration.) It keeps the body flushed out of the many toxins with in and helps regulate hunger and body temperatures.
 I'm also educating myself on the many ways that sugar is listed on food labels. Sugar has a lot of aliases and is not ashamed to use them. Here is a link to one listing:
 Another link to sugar information: has this:

One thing I have found is that many of the pages have links to good foods, substitutes for sugar, meal plans and more. Some of the things I read are well known, some are new to me. I have to remind myself not to think that just because I know the first items on the list I know them all.

One thing about my educating myself, once I get started on these online searches I get caught up in the information and quickly lose all track of time. There is an amazing wealth of information out there waiting for us to happen along and utilize it. One thing that I do have to watch out for is losing too much time that could be used in getting the exercise that I need or pursuing hobbies that is also a part of this new lifestyle.  Another thing about educating one self, I've read that as long as you keep learning new things, you are exercising your brain and helping to prevent or slow any age related dementia.