A Tale of Two Titties

It was the breast of times, it was the weightiest of times, it was the age of whole food, plant-based diets, it was the age of throwing scales out the window….

imageMichelle and I couldn’t be more different – one of us is young, the other youngish. One is slender, the other spongy. One has been a mom for three years, the other for three decades. Despite our differences, we share a similar pursuit – improving our health as one of us battles cancer, and the other obesity.

Since this is our last post under our Searching for My Tit mashup banner, we wanted to pay homage to our miraculous bodies. Actually, we wanted to focus on one specific area… our tatas. You know, hooters. Pillows. Cans. Knockers. Melons. Boobies. Breasts. We all have them! Big, small, perky, saggy, real, or plastic. Regardless of what you have been endowed with, they can be a target for cancer, which doesn’t discriminate against age, race, size, religion, socioeconomic status, or gender (yes, men get breast cancer too). And like Michelle’s case, cancer doesn’t care if there aren’t any risk factors, or family history.

We don’t mean for this to be an alarmist piece – quite the contrary – we just wanted to get a few things off our chest and impart a few breast health tips.

Hello my name is…

As an older, plus-sized gal, who has gained and lost hundreds of pounds over the years, my breasts are a little, shall we say, droopy. And as such, I affectionately call them, ‘The Clackers’. If you’re of a certain age, you know what clackers are. If not, allow me to show you what the girls are named after.

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Essentially, they’re two spheres (like my boobs), suspended on strings (like my boobs), and when you get momentum they smack each other and make a clacking sound (like my boobs), and if you’re not careful, they can put an eye out (like my boobs).

Putting them in their place

It doesn’t matter if your boobs are the size of mosquito bites, or bowling balls, get fitted for a proper bra. My daughter insisted I get fitted after she barged into my room when I was just wearing my under things, and after she stopped shouting, “My eyes! My eyes!” she asked me when I got my 80-year-old granny boobs. I started to explain the law of gravity, but she shushed me… ME! Her own mother! Then she grabbed my bra straps and hoisted The Clackers up to an elevation they hadn’t been at since Reagan was in office and voilà, instant boob lift! What’s more, I found my waist which went MIA back in ’89!

They feel better too now that I’m wearing the right size. Before, The Clackers were being skewered by the underwire causing pain and spillage… poor Lefty oozed out like Pillsbury dough when you whack the container against the counter 😦

Play doctor… with yourself!

Years ago, I was given a waterproof instructional shower card to remind me to perform self-breast exams. Over time, I became blind to it and stopped performing this lifesaving procedure.  Today, reminders have gone hi-tech. There are handy-dandy apps, like this one called, “Your Man Reminder” which provides you with great tips and prompts.  I’m having so much fun with it, that I’m programming reminders daily!

All kidding aside, if something doesn’t feel right to you, get it checked out right away – and push for the right tests, or screenings.  While Michelle was only 33 when she was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer, her family doctor was convinced it was a blocked duct, but thankfully still requested an ultrasound. When it came back suspicious, she was sent for a biopsy, which revealed it was in fact breast cancer.  After being diagnosed, Michelle was sent for further tests – the CT scan revealed it had spread to her vertebrae, making her breast cancer stage IV, however, her mammogram came back clear!  Mammograms are a controversial topic, but Michelle’s advice is if you are young, or have fibrous breasts, mammograms are not the best at detecting disease.  Just like you should eat a variety of plant-based, whole foods, screening from breast cancer shouldn’t be left to just one test.

Can a whole food, plant-based diet help reduce your risk of breast cancer?

Eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies means you are ingesting a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that support a stronger immune system helping to fight off unhealthy cancer cells.  Not only that, a whole food, plant-based diet helps manage a healthy weight, and can help protect you from other diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Other ways to lower your risk of breast cancer:

  • Limit alcohol
  • Avoid smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be physically active
  • Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy

Mammary Memoirs

I want to thank Michelle for her support on my journey. She’s been a wonderful coach and we’ve become bosom buddies along the way.

If you wish to read more about Michelle’s breast cancer journey, you can read the beginning on her Caring Bridge site. Later in her journey she began to document her experiences on her blog Tit Happens.

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Debunking Myths

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Today’s post comes to you courtesy of my dear friend and whole food, plant-base coach, Michelle of Tit Happens

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So, Marilina, you have decided to eat a Whole Food Plant Based Diet for a whole month – how many times have you been asked:  “are you crazy – no meat or dairy??!!”,  “where are you going to get your protein?”, “what about calcium?”, and “how are you going to survive off kale and spinach for a month?”

Well, the reality is, it isn’t hard to eat a filling, satisfying, delicious whole food plant based meal, all while getting the right amount of protein and calcium your body needs.

DELICIOUS SATISFYING MEALS

First, I will address the thought that this diet only consists of kale salads and carrot sticks.  While carrots may cross your plate more frequently than they would in eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), it doesn’t mean you are now the modern day Bugs Bunny.  Rather, a whole food plant based diet involves eating veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, mushrooms, beans, legumes and whole grains.  With a fridge and pantry full of these foods, the possibilities are close to endless.  Just look at Marilina’s past posts from this month to see the variety of delicious and nutritious meals and snacks we have made and enjoyed together – tacos with guacamole and cashew sour cream, bean burgers with a side of sweet potato fries, chocolate mousse, granola bars, and yes, a kale and cabbage salad.

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WHERE’S THE BEANS – TO HELL WITH THE BEEF!

Okay, so it all sounds delicious, but what about the protein?  Don’t I need to eat at least one Brontosaurus Burger a day to ensure I survive?  The answer to that is straight up, NO!  All of us need protein – it is needed to build and repair tissues – but it is found in so many other foods than just cows, pigs and chickens.  The building blocks of protein are amino acids – which are either created by the body or ingested through the food we eat. There are nine essential amino acids which our body cannot produce and therefore we must get them through our diet.  By eating a variety of plant based whole foods, our bodies will get all the amino acids, and therefore protein, they need.  There is a lot of talk about eating certain foods together to get a complete protein, however, many now believe that is not necessary – as long as your diet consists of a variety of  grains, legumes, and vegetables, your protein needs are easily met.  If you still aren’t sold, feel free to add in a protein shake.

To calculate your daily protein requirements: Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended protein intake (in grams). 

  • Sources of plant based protein:
    • Cooked Veggies (1 cup)
      • Peas – 9g
      • Spinach – 5 g
      • Brussels Sprouts – 4 g
    • Cooked Whole Grains (1 cup)
      • Quinoa – 8 g
      • Farro – 8 g
    • Cooked Beans and Legumes (1 cup)
      • Lentils – 18 g
      • Edamame – 17 g
      • Black beans – 15 g
    • Nuts and Seeds (1 oz)
      • Hemp seeds – 10 g
      • Pumpkin  seeds – 9 g
      • Almonds – 6 g

GOT KALE?

Now onto calcium –  if you aren’t drinking milk and eating yogurt and cheese doesn’t that mean your bones are going to start randomly snapping and your teeth are going to crumble the next time you bite into an apple?  NO!  We have been taught that the best sources of calcium comes from dairy, but the reality is the foods that grow out of the ground can easily give us all the calcium we need.

The daily value for calcium is 1,000 mg.  Below is a list of great whole food plant based calcium sources:

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (fortified nut, hemp + flax) = 200 – 300 mg
  • 2 cups of raw kale = 200 mg
  • 2 tbsp of chia seeds = 180 mg

Kris Carr’s Green Smoothie: 1 cup of fortified almond milk, 2 tbsp hemp seeds, 1/2 cup kale, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 banana gives you over 500 mg!

The moral of this story is, variety is the spice of life – by eating a variety of plant based whole foods you can get all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids your body needs.  The only exception is vitamin B12 – so if you plan to eat a whole food plant based diet, please consider adding in a B12 vitamin – other than that, enjoy all the benefits that come with eating a diet full of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals your body will thrive on!

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The delicious whole food, plant-based recipes mentioned above will be posted throughout the week… stay tuned!

To view my Week 25 food journal, click here.

 

We MexiCAN… and we MexiDID!

imageMichelle and I decided to have a whole food, plant-based Mexican theme night and made guacamole, cashew sour cream, and taco seasoning mix from scratch. Join us in the kitchen to learn just how quick and easy it is to make these delicious dishes without additives or preservatives!

To get the step by step recipe, please visit Tit Happens.

What’s Up Doc?

My senses have been doing the happy dance on the whole food, plant-based diet. Every morsel is bursting with flavour… tangy lemons, sweet pears, pungent arugula, earthy beets, minty mint, zingy ginger, and so on. The colours are vibrant like a rainbow exploded in my kitchen. Oh, and the aroma… it smells like a warm summer’s day in my dad’s garden when I sit to enjoy a meal!

Sounds like a dieter’s paradise, doesn’t it?! It is, until I get on the scale.   It’s not budging, which is a surprise given how much of the ‘inventory’ I move! Elimination has been effortless and plentiful on this plan… up to 3 times a day – whoohoo! You’d figure that would translate on the scale, but nada (meatless) enchilada 😦

So I took to my awesome coach, Michelle of Tit Happens, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, world renowned whole food, plant-based promoter, and author of The China Study, and my supportive naturopath, Dr. Emily Fitzgerald, to find out why.

Michelle Text

Michelle reminded me that she is not a dietician or a nutritionist, so is unable to explain why the pounds are not melting away. For Michelle though, choosing to eat this way had nothing to do with managing her weight, rather she believed this was the best diet to make her body as healthy as possible to fight her metastatic breast cancer. A diet full of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals is just one more weapon in her arsenal against cancer – and can be a weapon against many other diseases. While she is disappointed that my weight loss has been minimal, she is happy that I am giving it a try and in doing so, every cell in my body is being nourished to the max.

In The China Study, Dr. Campbell cites several studies in which obese patients achieved significant weight loss within the first month. One study claimed that, “overweight subjects were told to eat as much as they wanted of foods that were mostly low-fat, whole food and plant-based. In three weeks the people lost an average of seventeen pounds.” Humph! I’m not seeing those results. Why?!

Dr. Campbell explains, “Some people, of course, can be on a plant-based diet and still not lose weight. There are a few very good reasons for this. First and foremost, the diet includes too many refined carbohydrates. Sweets, pastries and pastas won’t do it. These foods are high in readily digested sugars and starches… these highly processed, unnatural foods are not part of a plant-based diet that works to reduce body weight and promote health.” Well, I’m not falling into that trap again Dr. Campbell! I did that when I went vegetarian before, when my only criteria was eating faceless foods. This time I’m only ingesting minimally (if any) refined whole foods, so this explanation doesn’t cut it for me!

He goes on to suggest, “the second reason weight loss may be elusive is if a person never engages in any physical activity.” Hmmm, does walking 10,000+ steps a day count, or is it time to kick it up a notch? Perhaps, after 6 months of testing diets, my body is plateauing and I have to incorporate a structured exercise routine to accompany plans going forward.

He goes on to offer one last explanation, “Thirdly, certain people have a family predisposition for overweight bodies, that may make their challenge more difficult. If you are one of these people, I can only say that you probably need to be especially rigorous in your diet and exercise.” This is where Dr. Emily comes in. She offers genomic testing which will determine “genetic inheritance” and how I can leverage this knowledge to support my journey.

As frustrating as this is, I need to remind myself that 12 in 12 is an experiment, and not a plan in and of itself. There will be months when I’ll lose weight, and others where I won’t. That doesn’t mean the plan is a failure – it means I’m learning what does and doesn’t work for MY body when it comes to weight loss. If this experiment was solely based on how I feel, then the whole food, plant-based diet would be getting high marks. I know that on a cellular level, by body loves this plan, however, as a plus-sized gal, my plus-sized cells need to trim down too.

To view my Week 24 food journal, click here.

 

 

It’s Time To Play…

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*cue music*

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: Hello, and welcome to Health or Consequences, where Mare from Searching For My After will play one of three games chosen by the audience: Step Off, Target Practice, or Hang Ten. Please remind the audience how each of these games are played Game Show Announcer Mare.

Game Show Announcer Mare: Think you can outstep Mare? Then challenge her to a Step Off! Whoever has the least amount of steps at the end of the week must do the predetermined consequence. Or set Mare’s step goal for the week in Target Practice – if she doesn’t reach it, then she will donate $10 to charity; if she does, you make a donation. And if she isn’t challenged, Mare will Hang Ten and play the original version of the game, where she aims to achieve 70,000 steps or more in a week, and if she doesn’t she must complete a consequence chosen by the audience.

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: Last week Mira G took aim and set Mare’s step goal at 79,797 for the week in Target Practice… that’s several thousand steps higher than her average. How do you think you did Mare?

Mare: I’m not sure, it’s going to be too close to call.

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: We’ll soon find out, but before we do, let me remind everyone of the stakes. Should you reach or surpass the target, Mira will donate $10 to the MS Society. However, if you did not, your $10 donation will go to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Mare: Spin that sucker, the suspense is killing me!

*The Fitbit wheel of truth spins… beep-boo-beep-boo-beeee-boooooooooo*

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Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: 81,413! You surpassed the goal! How do you feel?

Mare: Fantastic! Not only do I feel healthier the more fit I’m becoming, I’m also thrilled that the MS Society will be getting a donation to their worthy cause! I also want to thank Mira for the challenge and recognize her outstanding step results last week. Mira set her own personal weekly goal at 70,000 steps, and with persistence and perseverance, she too surpassed her target. As such, I would also like to contribute to Mira’s chosen charity to celebrate her success!

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: Well if that isn’t a win-win-win scenario, I don’t know what is!

Mare: It’s like you say, if we don’t choose HEALTH, we’ll have to live with the CONSEQUENCES!

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: Now that Mare stole my line, I’m going to punch out early and try to beat the long weekend traffic. Have a safe Victoria Day everyone!

Game Show Announcer Mare: If you would like to challenge Mare in either Step Off or Target Practice, please leave a comment via the blog, Facebook, or in person.

*cue music*

 

 

 

 

Mother Of All Mothers

This is the first Mother’s Day I was sans offspring to shower me with praise and adoration. Although there was an element of suckage to this, I’m actually thrilled that the fruit of my loins are in remote corners of the world, sinking their teeth into the tukhus of life, as they experience incredible adventures I could only dream of when I was their age. Nessa is teaching English to impressionable young souls in South Korea, and Telli is exploring the archaeological ruins and gelaterias in Rome…. Atta girls! I must have done something right!

Although no one was home to make me a delicious whole food, plant-based breakfast in bed this year, I was not alone as my family gathered to celebrate motherhood at my parent’s place with, you guessed it, food… lots of it!

My poor family, I make their heads spin as each plan in 12 in 12 varies considerably and they never know what I can and can’t have from one month to the next, so they cover all the bases. When I was doing Paleo, I missed out on homemade cannelloni, pasta, pizzas and breads. This month, I’m missing out on rigatoni drenched in homemade sugo and spicy oven roasted sausages. But no matter what plan I’m on, I noticed it never excludes fruits and vegetables.

imageAnd that’s when I realized, as I was enjoying this lovely whole food, plant-based meal, one mother gets overlooked every year, which is quite sad since she is mother to all of us.

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Like most mothers, Mother Nature is a giver – she nourishes us with her bounty, and captivates us with her beauty – that’s why I decided to spend my Mother’s Day appreciating all that she does for us.

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Mother Nature is always speaking. She speaks in a language understood within the peaceful mind of the sincere observer. ~ Radhanath Swami

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To view my Week 23 food journal, click here.

 

It’s Time To Play…

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*cue music*

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: Hello, and welcome to Health or Consequences, where Mare from Searching For My After will play one of three games chosen by the audience: Step Off, Target Practice, or Hang Ten. Please remind the audience how each of these games are played Game Show Announcer Mare.

Game Show Announcer Mare: Think you can outstep Mare? Then challenge her to a Step Off! Whoever has the least amount of steps at the end of the week must do the predetermined consequence. Or set Mare’s step goal for the week in Target Practice – if she doesn’t reach it, then she will donate $10 to charity; if she does, you make a donation. And if she isn’t challenged, Mare will Hang Ten and play the original version of the game, where she aims to achieve 70,000 steps or more in a week, and if she doesn’t she must complete a consequence chosen by the audience.

Mare: Woohoo! Can’t wait!

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: What will we be playing this week?

Game Show Announcer Mare: Hang Ten!

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: Are you ready to play Mare?

Mare: I was born ready!

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: Then let’s see what the Fitbit Wheel of Truth reveals.

*The Fitbit wheel of truth spins… beep-boo-beep-boo-beeee-boooooooooo*

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Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: Another great week! And to think, just a few months ago you barely reached half the daily minimum.

Mare: I know! Who’da thunk it?

Game Show Announcer Mare: This just in – a Target Practice challenge has just been declared for next week. Mira G is taking aim and set your step goal for 79,797 steps. If you reach or surpass this target, Mira will donate $10 to the MS Society.

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: Now we’re talking! That’s 7,202 steps more than this week! Do you think you can do it?

Mare: It’s a stretch, but I’ll do my best. However, if I don’t make it, my $10 donation will go to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Cheeky Game Show Host Mare: That’s all the time we have, folks. Join us next week to see if Mare hit the target, or was a sitting duck. This is Cheeky Game Show Host Mare, reminding you to choose HEALTH, or else you’ll have to live with the CONSEQUENCES.

Game Show Announcer Mare: If you would like to challenge Mare in either Step Off or Target Practice, please leave a comment via the blog, Facebook, or in person.

*cue music*