Tuesday, April 29, 2008
BTW, I can't believe Doug died! How sad...
Let me back up - I became lactose intolerant after doing the low-iodine diet for my cancer treatment where I couldn't eat any dairy. That means I probably was lactose intolerant or had a mild allergy to lactose all along, I had just gotten used to it. And since I ate dairy before, I figured if I could reintroduce small portions, I could get used to it again. It's not been so bad. I have some gastro-intestinal issues, but I really love yogurt and cottage cheese so I am willing to live with it to some extent.
But I am beginning to suspect that it is keeping me awake at night. I am not eating any dairy today to see if I am able to sleep better tonight. For the last few weeks, I haven't been able to sleep more than about 5 hours M-F and then catch up on the weekends because I am not able to fall and stay asleep! It's the weirdest thing, I am tired at the appropriate time, I get in bed and feel sleepy, then as soon as I get relaxed, I feel restless. I toss and turn for hours. Then when I finally fall asleep I wake again easily. The footsteps of a flea could wake me. And of course that starts the whole evil process over again.
In case it's not the dairy, I'm also doing a couple of things to try to manage my stress better. I'm committed to limiting TV and computer time in the evenings, as those have stimulant effects. I'm going to try it out and see if it has any effect on the sleep disturbance - it hasn't so far.
I'm also adding two herbs to my supplement regime - rhodiola and ashwagandha. These are adatogens that help the body deal with stress. Given my job and living in an urban environment and trying to keep up with my workouts, I figure I have a fair amount of stress even if I don't necessarily feel overly stressed. I'm also going to add ZMA (Zinc and Magnesium supplement) before bed, but I haven't ordered it yet from bodybuilding.com - it's supposed to help with the sleep issues. In fact, it's supposed to knock you out! From what I've read, most athletes are deficient in magnesium.
I used to scoff at supplements, but now I'm really on the bandwagon! My current supplements are:
- Whey protein (I'm hooked right now on Dymatize Elite Dark Chocolate)
- Greens+ (Berry flavor)
- Fish oil (Kirkland's brand from Costco, 6 caps per day)
- Probiotic (Vitamin Shoppe brand)
- Flax oil and Udo's Choice (rotating between them)
- Rhodiola in the morning
- Ashwagandha in the evening as it has a calming effect
- ZMA coming soon...
Every man, woman and child should be taking fish oil, at a minimum, but I'm reading more about the importance of probiotics too. That's for another post, maybe when I write about detox.....
Hope everyone is having a great week! Mine would be better if I could get some zzzzz's!!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
- Cigarette smoke
- Cleaning supplies
- Carpet fumes
- Food additives (like MSG, food colorings, etc.)
There are so many dietary toxins, some are listed above. The chemicals, preservatives, additives and colorings in processed and packaged foods are problematic. Pesticides are another major source of dietary concern. Incredibly, of the 2.5 million tons of pesticides used worldwide each year, less than 0.1 percent actually reaches the pests. The rest enters our environment, the air we breathe, the soil our kids play on in the yard, the water we drink and swim in (and that our food drinks and swims in). Herbicides, pesticides and additives have been linked with Parkinson's disease, behavior alteration, oxidative stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue. One of the most widely used pesticides, chlorpyrifos, has been shown to have long-term negative effects on serotonin production in the brain.
The cosmetics industry is also a source of concern. Cosmetics are minimally regulated by the FDA. Consider that 60,000 chemicals were grandfathered in to the EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) when it was first put into place. Cosmetics in the U.S. contain parabens, phthalates and other endocrine disruptors and known carcinogens. While the average hand soap is unlikely to be potentially dangerous, there are quite a few products marketed in the US that contain disturbing levels of carcinogens or reproductive hazards that are banned in Japan, Australia and the EU.There are over 1,000 carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxins (CMRs), which are prohibited in European cosmetics, regulated by the European Commission.
What about cleaning products? They are a leading cause of air pollution in our homes. They are also a cause of water pollution. I don't think I need to tell you that the bleach and other chemicals in your Tilex, Comet, Scrubbing Bubbles, etc are known toxins, carcinogens or hormone disruptors.
So what can we do?
Obviously it's not realistic to pack up your family and move to the Himalayas. You'll probably die anyway of dysentery or some other disease of poverty if you do that. Better to stay here and contend with the diseases of affluence - cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's... But we can reduce our exposure to these chemicals and also improve our "ecological footprint" by becoming more aware of these chemicals and making the choice to reduce our exposure whenever possible.
The first change I made and recommend is cosmetics. I threw out the majority of my creams, makeups and soaps in favor of paraben and phthalate-free versions, made from organic or botanical ingredients. I'm not 100% on this - I still use regular shampoo, for example, but most of my cosmetics, lotions and soaps are now botanical/organic. Burt's Bees is a great line, Origins has some good products, obviously you can go to Whole Foods and find all sorts of organic items in the beauty section.
What took me longer and is still an evolving process is the dietary change. My first switch was to more organic fruits and vegetables. Here is a guide to pesticides in fruits and veggies. You don't have to buy everything organic - some items are more important than others. Apples, spinach and peaches top the list of items with a higher pesticide load, whereas broccoli is safe to buy conventional. I buy organic when I can and I don't freak out when I can't. I also avoid most processed and packaged foods, but try to buy organic when I can of those too. If your diet is already mostly composed of foods from the outer aisles of the supermarket (as it should be!), then you shouldn't have much to worry about there.
My next switch was to organic dairy and organic, free-range meats. Not only do conventional meats have hormones in them, the food these animals are fed is contaminated with the same pesticides you are trying to avoid in you own fruits and vegetables. Organic and grass-fed or free range meats also have a better fatty-acid profile with more omega-3's.
The third major category of reducing toxic exposure and one I'm just recently starting to make is to use green cleaning products. Seventh Generation and the new Clorox Green Works brand seem to work pretty well. I still have a bottle of soft-scrub and regular bleach that I don't use very often. I'm working on this one!
For more information on this, the Environmental Working Group has a good website to peruse. I don't want anyone to get overwhelmed or worry constantly. Stress is a major source of oxidative damage too!! Just keep in mind that every time we consume anything - through our skin, mouths, noses, and even our eyes and ears - it's an opportunity to impact our health, physically, mentally or spiritually, for better or worse.
My own journey with reducing toxin exposure has been long and slow. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was shocked. Everyone I know was shocked. I already lived a healthier lifestyle than most people, and I got cancer. It was a real wake up call for me (and I like to think the people around me too) to pay attention to what I consume and to what we are doing to our bodies and our world, our environment. I didn't make any of these changes overnight.
Whew! That's it for now, folks. Next article on toxins will be on detox!!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I need to get off the couch and go run or whatever I end up doing today (is it raining again?)... but I'm waiting on the Oprah Ekhart Tolle show to download to my iTunes.
I think I forgot to update about my salivary gland ages ago. I went to an ENT finally who poked around and told me she didn't think I have a stone. I'm not so sure she's right cause I can kinda feel something in there, not sure if it's a stone or what? But it still hurts on the left side. She did scare the shit outta me by telling me if stones develop deep in the gland they will have to remove the whole thing and that is a major surgery and I DO NOT NEED ANY MORE SURGERY TO REMOVE ANY MORE GLANDS THANKYOUVERYMUCH. So. Still freaking out a little bit about that one. Will keep you posted as I will have to go back for MRI's and stuff if it's not gone by June.
Ooh, my file is done. Must motivate. I will have more to say about toxins soon, so stay tuned!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The views are great, though, hiking all along the river, especially south of Great Falls where you do some bouldering and can look down on Mather Gorge. Plenty of people were out, which was kind of annoying, but was the point of going there since I was solo and wanted to make sure someone would be on the trails besides me. Just in case. I've been lost out in the woods on solo hikes before and that is NOT FUN!!!
Once I got lost out at Bull Run mountain and ended up crashing around in the forest for a couple of hours before I finally found a dirt road that seemed to lead nowhere. At last a woman drove by and asked me if I was lost. Yes. She said hikers get lost all the time out there and she pesters the national park all the time to blaze the trails better. I thought I was following some trail markings but it turns out I was following someone's property line! Eek. Then she told me if I'm alone out there I should carry a big stick because there are wild dogs!! When she dropped me off and told me to head straight through the forest and drove away, I heard a sound in the leaves running near me and about shit myself. It was a deer. I'll never leave a clear trail again if I'm alone!
Yesterday I had my new GPS toy my dad gave me, it's a little Garmin Gecko. It was pretty fun, it tracks your route for you. I had that and my Camelbak and hiking boots that Adam gave me for Christmas and was feeling like a real pro hehe.
It's definitely springtime. There were these little purple flowers blooming everywhere along some parts of the trail. This is north of Great Falls.
It was so pretty and continued on like this for about a mile!! Just a blanket of purple flowers on either side of the trail. The sun had disappeared behind some clouds by this point, this was at the end of my hike. These pics are backwards from how they were taken!!
As I was stopping to peer at this curious sight and take a pic, a hiker came up behind me to explain that these are silkworms. They build these little nests and grow into beefy caterpillars and then when all the leaves are fully grown they come out and eat them all - they are a real scourge and the park service tries to prevent them from eating the leaves by putting sticky bands around the tree branches. Ew.
It's hard to see in this pic, but there were purple trees popping out in some places in the forest too. A real easter palette - eager baby-green leaves budding all over the trees and some purples thrown in for color contrast! Plus the purple on the ground...
Great Falls looks bigger in person.
I wasn't on the trail five minutes before I saw three deer! Can you spot them? Two babies and a momma! When they first saw me they put their white puffs of tails in the air and sprang off down the stream. Then their curiosity got the better of them and they stood still while I snapped some pics. They were pretty close to me, maybe twenty feet and stared at me wide-eyed with perky ears to get their pictures taken!
They are harder to see in this picture, they're right in the middle.
I just talked to Adam. He is doing well, he seems to be much better this time than last time he was out there in the desert. He said his office is in a plywood box. !!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
They recommended the website for the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy for further information, which was crashed all day Wednesday due to the influx of millions of Americans trying to find out if we are all getting slowly poisoned by our water bottles and tupperware. Despite the continued assertions of some U.S. health officials that there is nothing to be immediately alarmed about, Canada is about to declare an ingredient in the #7 polycarbonate plastic - bisphenol-A - as toxic.
I've been hearing for a while now that the use of plastics in cooking and food storage can carry health risks, but I never really paid attention beyond not heating or microwaving in plastic containers. But now I'm hearing that we should be concerned about hormone-disrupting chemicals from plastics leaching into any food or beverage, not just heated.
The Smart Plastics Guide says that "a myriad of petroleum-based chemicals go into the manufacture of plastics. Some can leach into food and drinks and possibly impact human health. Leaching increases when plastic comes in contact with oily or fatty foods, during heating and from old or scratched plastic. Types of plastics shown to leach toxic chemicals are polycarbonate, PVC and styrene. This does not imply that other plastics are entirely safe. These plastics have just been studied more."
The worst offending plastics are: #'s 3, 6 and 7.
#7, Polycarbonate, the one with bisphenol-A, used in most plastic baby bottles, 5-gallon water bottles, "sport" water bottles, metal food can liners, clear plastic "sippy" cups and some clear plastic cutlery.
#3, PVC or Polyvinyl chloride, used for cling wrap, some plastic squeeze bottles, cooking oil and peanut butter jars, detergent and windown cleaner bottles.
#6, Polystyrene, used in Styrofoam products.
What can we do? Tips from the Smart Plastics Guide:
1. Avoid using plastic containers in the microwave. Since chemicals are released from plastic when heated, it’s safest not to microwave food and drinks in plastic containers. Instead use glass or ceramic containers free of metallic paint. If you do microwave in plastic, use only plastic labeled "microwave safe." Note that "microwave safe" does not mean that there is no leaching of chemicals. Avoid using for fatty foods, as there is greater leaching of chemicals into fatty foods.
2. Beware of cling wraps especially for microwave use. Instead use waxed paper or paper towel for covering foods. If you do use plastic, don’t let the plastic touch the food. For plastic-wrapped deli foods, slice off a thin layer where the food came in contact with the plastic and re-wrap in non-PVC plastic wrap or place in a container.
3. Use alternatives to plastic packaging whenever possible. Use refillable containers at your local food cooperative. Bring you own take-home containers to restaurants. Bring reusable bags or cardboard boxes to the grocery store.
4. Avoid plastic bottled water unless you’re traveling or live in an area where the quality of water is questionable. Bottled water, because it is less regulated, has less-certain purity and safety than tap water, and is much more expensive. If you’re worried about tap water quality, consider installing a home water filter or use an inexpensive filter pitcher. Reduce or eliminate use of plastic bottles to avoid landfill waste and exposure to chemicals that leach from the plastic. You can also look for new biodegradable bio-based plastic water bottles.
5. If you do use plastic water bottles, take precautions. If you use a polycarbonate water bottle, to reduce leaching of BPA, do not use for warm or hot liquids and discard old or scratched bottles. Water bottles from #1 or #2 plastics are recommended for single use only. For all types of plastic, you can reduce bacterial contamination by thoroughly washing daily. However, avoid using harsh detergents that can break down the plastic and increase chemical leaching.
Babies and children are at the greatest risk. IATP recommends you should use alternatives to polycarbonate plastic baby bottles and "sippy" cups.
After my cancer diagnosis, I have slowly learned to reduce and better manage the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis, and when it comes to things like this, I don't take my chances, I go with REDUCE MY RISK. I dropped out of our water club at work in favor of a Brita at my desk, for example. Brita's website claims its containers are "safe" for use. For anyone wondering what to replace your Nalgene with, the Camelbak bottles are not made with polycarbonate plastic. Or there is the Kleen Kanteen. We can never get away from ALL plastics, but at least where the greatest risks seem to be presently, I will definitely be steering clear!
Monday, April 14, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I had a pretty good weekend. I went and had a pedicure with my gf Jen yesterday (heavenly) and then had a kick ass workout. I don't know if it was the bike sprints (10 seconds of glory, or 10 seconds all out sprinting with 50 seconds of rest) or the rope skipping but my calves are SO freakin sore today like I never experienced before!? The heck?
I went and saw Leatherheads. I thought it was great! Maybe it's because I was expecting it to kinda suck since the reviewers on Fandango didn't really seem to like it much, but I loved it. It was cute and fun and funny. I definitely recommend it.
Ah, Sundays are bittersweet, no?
Friday, April 11, 2008
Weather yesterday was beautiful too. I walked down to the Lincoln Memorial and walked around the reflecting pool. Days like yesterday when I still feel like it's cool that I live and work in DC. Most of the time lately I'm just anxious and frustrated and wanting to leave here. I think that's one of the reasons why I haven't been sleeping that well lately. I lay awake and worry and feel anxious.
On New Rules for Women -- Laurie, I don't think it's a man/woman thing like the BFL for Women book which was a total SUCK. In fact, I think much of the front matter of the book is much better written than the original and provides more information. I think EVERYONE could benefit from reading it. I think the workouts feel less challenging because the program is written to appeal to all kinds of exercisers, especially women who have been working out for a long time, even using weights, but haven't moved past "doing the machines." For someone who's never touched an Olympic barbell, you can't just throw them into a program with all kinds of crazy supersets like in NROL!! I'm just enjoying it right now, I'm trying to be better about not needing to go balls out 100% of the time. Sometimes it's ok to chill out a bit in the gym, work on your form and enjoy not feeling so trashed after a workout that you could get a nap!! Anyway, it looks like the program is about to pick up a bit as I'm done with the first phase after tomorrow. Then I move on to a 3x6 rep scheme, which I'm really looking forward to!
Catch y'all later...
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
You guys have GOT TO SEE THIS. I saw this last year, as my own cancer treatment was still fresh in my experience. If you do nothing else this week, you should watch this video. It's long - over an hour - but it is so worth the investment.
It is the "Last Lecture" of Randy Pausch, a 47-year-old computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who has terminal pancreatic cancer. He was given six months to live. He said goodbye to his students and the Pittsburgh college in September with one last lecture called "How to Live Your Childhood Dreams," on his life's journey and the lessons he's learned. I saw on the news this morning that ABC is doing a special on it tonight at 10p Eastern time. He's still alive; he has been on chemotherapy to slow the growth of the tumors. The chemo worked well until two weeks ago, when he was hospitalized with congestive heart and renal failure caused by the chemo. He is now at home, getting his strength back.
Or see it here.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Last night I was watching marathon episodes of Jon & Kate Plus 8. Have you ever seen this? They have two sets of multiples - twins and SEXTUPLETS! When I first saw this show a couple years ago, I thought, oh, that poor woman. Ugh! But now that the little ones are older - they're 3 - and they all have their own personalities, it actually seems kind of cool. I know, I sound insane. Maybe not having six babies At. One. Time. But having a big family - they just have so much love. More people = more love!
I'm still doing the New Rules of Lifting for Women workouts. I can't say they are the most challenging or engaging workouts I've ever done. I suffered through the original NROL workouts, and Afterburn, both of which kind of blow these workouts out of the water. It looks like they get better as time goes on, but in the beginning maybe just a bit too tame for me. I'm not giving up just yet! Maybe I'll add another set to make it 3x10 instead of 2x10.
Happy Tuesday, y'all. Hey, when is it Springtime??? So much for global warming..... LOL!
Monday, April 07, 2008
I like to read blogs that inspire or make me think. But I also like to read about the mundane day to day stuff like what happened on your lunch break or how many flavors of lip gloss you own. Other people just seem so much more interesting than me. Even their lip gloss seems somehow more relevant than mine.
I love to know that there are other people out there with the same problems and struggles and hopes, and I like to hear about it. I like to see how other people make it through their days and deal with their problems (or not) and how they achieve their goals (or not) and how they change and grow from it. How do you get out of bed in the morning, what coffee drink do you order, why do you love your significant other, how your kids drive you crazy, how much you like to garden, what books you are reading, what bugs you, what elates you, what inspires you?
I like to think you feel the same way.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
I'd probably be thinking the same thing in a year or so if I dropped everything and went out to Hawaii to be with Adam. But then we would be onto the next thing because his assignment would be up! But then maybe I would really regret leaving DC in the first place. Maybe not. Do you make decisions (or not) based on the possibility of regret in the future? I've never really been that way, I've always kind of jumped in head first come hell or high water... but this would be a BIG regret I think...
Friday night rocked! I went to see Kelly Willis at the Birchmere. Kelly was great, but even more I liked the group that opened for her, Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys. Amanda plays the violin... and I mean, that girl plays that violin! Click here and check her out! Listen to the French Jig. This doesn't even do justice to what she sounds like live - and she's only 17! So fun.
Yesterday I cleaned and cleaned off my bookshelves with a whole pile of books to get rid of, and cleaned out my closet, put up all my sweaters. Today is the gym, groceries, church, you know, Sunday stuff!
Here are a couple pics from West VA! And more here.
-Alan Cohen, The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
I made it to the gym this morning and did a NROL4W workout:
A: Front squat with overhead press (killer) - 55#
B1: Step up - 25# db's
B2: One point DB rows (bent over rows balancing on one leg - total body exercise!) - 25# db's
C1: static lunge with rear foot elevated - 25# db's
C2: pushup (these are easy, I do 'em slow to make 'em harder)
D1: plank (60 sec)
D2: horizontal cable wood chop ('nother total body exercise!) - #2 plate on the cable machine
It's getting rather a lot like spring here in DC. It's still a leeetle chilly - I went out today for a walk on my lunch break and was a bit cold in the wind, but it was sunny and lovely all the same. I am glad I will be able to resume walking on my luch break - I like to walk over by the White House or down by the reflecting pool by the Lincoln Memorial is also nice. My office is literally across the hall from the bathroom so if I don't make a point to go outside I could theoretically sit motionless all day. Except, you know, for the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard/mouse. Mouseclicks. I wonder how many calories that burns......
The Other Boleyn Girl was not a good movie. Adam and I saw it while he was here. It wasn't terrible, but it was spoiled for me because I saw the first season of the Tudors on demand and it was really good, and the movie was just poorly acted and tried to cover too much history in a short time.
Juno, on the other hand, was really, really funny! We liked it. Well, except that I thought it was a bit flip on the subject of teenage pregnancy: she gets pregnant and it's all funny and fun and everything just goes right back to normal afterwards... But if you look past that, it had some great lines.
Happy Wednesday, kids!