Let Food and Fitness Be Thy Medicine

I have been coming to terms with my diagnosis of Sjogren’s Syndrome and what it means for my active lifestyle. I have found that nutrition and fitness are critical to my quality of life.  A friend, Cassidy Bowie, posted the following in the hopes of motivating others to look deeper at their nutrition and their fitness – to live a life of high quality!  I was so moved by her post, I just had to share it with you. She has graciously given me permission. (edit: You can now follow Cassidy’s journey at her blog.)

“I was asked to share my story recently to help encourage others here it is for my friends and family here to read :

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
– Goethe

Shortly after my 21st birthday, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. This blow was hard to handle as I had been very sick for some time and being diagnosed with both at such a young age was a hard pill to swallow. For the next eight years of my life I became very ill and spent a lot of time at the hospital. Lupus and RA were controlling my life. I had numerous surgeries, blood clots, and a detached retina. All of this in a short amount of time. I used to joke if you looked at my medical history and file, without looking at my age, you would think I was someone much older. I went through trying, I can’t even count, many different medicines in order to try and control the two diseases and the damage they were causing to my system. I finally reached a point about three years ago when I decided that living miserably with everything wasn’t the way I wanted to live my life anymore. I had been so sick that I could barely walk most days. I had difficulty walking to the grocery store; I was given a handicapped placard so that I was able to park closer to everything so walking wouldn’t be a hindrance in my daily activities. This was a lifestyle that was hard to handle, being constantly sick and in pain. Not begin able to walk very far without being miserable.

I had a friend who encouraged me to run Tough Mudder. For those of who don’t know what Tough Mudder is, this race is a 10-12 obstacle course race. In my condition many thought of this feat as ridiculous. How can someone who could barely walk at times, and suffer so much pain just walking be able to finish a race like this? I set my mind to it and was able to achieve this race with my brother Alex and amazing friend Shannon by my side. I will never forget as I was almost in tears at the last few miles of the race my brother telling me big girls don’t cry we are going to do this I don’t care how long it takes. I crossed the finish line and broke down in tears, with my best friend Nikki and her mom there cheering me on. I was hurting after this amazing feat and at that point decided that I didn’t want to live my life suffering anymore. I needed to make changes to my life in order to live better.

With the help of a great friend and gym member Nicole Davis, I decided to completely change my eating style. Paleo diet is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that humans consumed during the Paleolithic era. This lifestyle change allows you to go back to the basics of eating real food. I decided that going cold turkey and cutting out all the crap of my current diet was the way to go. I went home and cleaned out my cupboards, I got rid of all the processed foods, grains, and dairy products. I donated what I could and gave other items to friends. This started my lifestyle change into a better living. I also began working out six days a week. I began with bootcamp style workouts and running ( a lot). With these lifestyle changes I saw my Lupus and RA symptoms diminish and started feeling better than any medicine would be able to provide to me. I was able to improve my athletic ability and overall health state. With all of these changes, my Lupus specialist is now able to take me off the toxic medicines that I have been on for so long. I decided to take the natural approach to living and a better lifestyle overall. This change was not easy by any means but it meant living a healthier life. This past summer I was able to compete in a total of 25 races, a monumental achievement considering where I was just a short three years ago. These 25 races included 3 half marathons, Spartan races, Tough Mudder, and a Ragnar.

I truly have my lifestyle changes of diet and exercise to thank for being able to achieve this crazy goal of so many races in a year. I have become a much different person and able to do things I never thought possible when I was sick. These lifestyle changes are going to allow me to live a healthier, longer, and happier life. My story needs to be shared so that people who are going through a hard and difficult time are able to see light at the end of the tunnel. This will allow hope and encouragement reach those who are effected by illness, discouragement, or doubt in their life. Next year I have many more goals that I plan on achieving. Now that I know I am capable of achieving what I put my mind to there is no stopping me.”

 

 

The Canary is Gasping for Air …

I fear that we will soon have new job offerings in the United States – that of hand pollinator. The news is dire for the Monarch butterfly and our honeybees. Are these species the proverbial canary in the coal mine? China is already using hand pollination for it’s apple orchards due to a decline in honeybees as evidenced in this article from February 2012 in China Dialogue, “Decline of bees forces China’s apple farmers to pollinate by hand.”

Farming and human health depend upon the ecosystem services provided by wild organisms; worms, woodlice, millipedes and a host of other creatures which help with soil formation, forests to produce oxygen, prevent soil erosion and regulate water flow, birds to eat insect pests, flies and beetles to break down animal dung, bees and other pollinators to pollinate crops.

Modern farming threatens to eradicate these organism, and so undermine itself.

Pollination provides one of the clearest examples of how our disregard for the health of the environment threatens our own survival. About 75% of all crop species require pollination by animals of some sort, often by bees, but sometimes by flies, butterflies, birds or even bats.

Crop pollination by insects has been estimated to be worth $14.6 billion to the economy of the USA and £440 million a year to the UK. Some pollination is done by domesticated honeybees, but the bulk of pollination of most crops is done by wild insects, including many species of wild bee such as bumblebees.

In the UK, for example, recent studies suggest that about one-third of pollination is delivered by honeybees, the rest being carried out by a range of wild insects. These animals need undisturbed places to nest, and flowers to feed on when the crops are not flowering.

However, bee diversity has declined markedly in Europe, with many species disappearing from much of their former range, and some species going extinct. The UK alone has lost three species of native bumblebee, and six more are listed as endangered. Four bumblebee species have gone extinct from the whole of Europe, and there is good evidence for similar declines in North America and China.

 

You may be wondering how this is related to my promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle on my blog. As I have grown older (I’m now 46yrs old) and now that my body is being attacked by it’s own immune system (Sjogren’s Syndrome), nutrition has become even more important to my health, longevity and quality of life. On any given day, you can read an article about how our adulterated food supply system is negatively impacting our health directly and thought to be at the root of many autoimmune diseases along with environmental contamination by heavy metals. Well folks, it’s also indirectly impacting out health. Increased destruction of habitats for housing developments, increased production of monocrops, increased used of pesticides and herbicides, have upset the ecological balance. We are losing pollinators at an alarming rate. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.small-wholefoods-bees-releasephoto

 

“The before-and-after photo (above) is shocking – as are the statistics. Whole Foods Market’s produce team pulled from shelves 237 of 453 products – 52 percent of the normal product mix in the department. Among the removed products were some of the most popular produce items:

Apples
Onions
Avocados
Carrots
Mangos
Lemons
Limes
Honeydew
Cantaloupe
Zucchini
Summer squash
Eggplant
Cucumbers
Celery
Green onions
Cauliflower
Leeks
Bok choy
Kale
Broccoli
Broccoli rabe
Mustard greens

– See more at: http://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/news/bees#sthash.iCjhnglR.dpuf”

 

 

This may be our future.

The most dramatic example comes from the apple and pear orchards of south west China, where wild bees have been eradicated by excessive pesticide use and a lack of natural habitat.

In recent years, farmers have been forced to hand-pollinate their trees, carrying pots of pollen and paintbrushes with which to individually pollinate every flower, and using their children to climb up to the highest blossoms. This is clearly just possible for this high-value crop, but there are not enough humans in the world to pollinate all of our crops by hand.

And what about my beloved Monarch butterfly? It’s not just beautiful to look at, but it’s long, annual migration to Mexico has intrigued people for ages. It too is a pollinator. The news about this years winter migration to Mexico is bleak, as reported in the New York Times today. Official numbers will be published in March 2014.

ON the first of November, when Mexicans celebrate a holiday called the Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the millions of monarch butterflies that, without fail, fly to the mountainous fir forests of central Mexico on that day. They are believed to be souls of the dead, returned.

This year, for or the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t come, at least not on the Day of the Dead. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers. Last year’s low of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.

Another insect in serious trouble is the wild bee, which has thousands of species. Nicotine-based pesticides called neonicotinoids are implicated in their decline, but even if they were no longer used, experts say, bees, monarchs and many other species of insect would still be in serious trouble.

That’s because of another major factor that has not been widely recognized: the precipitous loss of native vegetation across the United States.

“There’s no question that the loss of habitat is huge,” said Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, who has long warned of the perils of disappearing insects. “We notice the monarch and bees because they are iconic insects,” he said. “But what do you think is happening to everything else?”

There you go, the canary is gasping for air.

Native trees are not only grocery stores, but insect pharmacies as well. Trees and other plants have beneficial chemicals essential to the health of bugs. Some monarchs, when afflicted with parasites, seek out more toxic types of milkweed because they kill the parasites. Bees use medicinal resins from aspen and willow trees that are antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral, to line their nests and to fight infection and diseases. “Bees scrape off the resins from the leaves, which is kind of awesome, stick them on their back legs and take them home,” said Dr. Spivak.

Besides pesticides and lack of habitat, the other big problem bees face is disease. But these problems are not separate. “Say you have a bee with viruses,” and they are run-down, Dr. Spivak said. “And they are in a food desert and have to fly a long distance, and when you find food it has complicated neurotoxins and the immune system just goes ‘uh-uh.’ Or they become disoriented and can’t find their way home. It’s too many stressors all at once.”

We are living in our own food desert and it will only get worse if we do not act now. It is not too late!

There are numerous organizations and individuals dedicated to rebuilding native plant communities one sterile lawn and farm field at a time. Dr. Tallamy, a longtime evangelizer for native plants, and the author of one of the movement’s manuals, “Bringing Nature Home,” says it’s a cause everyone with a garden or yard can serve. And he says support for it needs to develop quickly to slow down the worsening crisis in biodiversity.

I have ordered Bringing Nature Home and plan to add more native plants to support our pollinators. I have a garden full of Milkweed Plants (be careful if you have pets that might eat this). We had numerous Monarch butterflies and raised 30+ caterpillars to butterfly-hood. I even increased my number and variety of milkweed this year and sadly, did not get a single Monarch. I saw very few honeybees this year as well. It was mostly bumblebees. So order the book and let’s have a discussion about what we can do to save them and ourselves. For more info about honeybees, check out the Whole Foods’ Share the Buzz.

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References
https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/5193
http://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/news/bees

Are your energy levels low? Are you tired and sluggish?

Are you suffering from a lack of energy?

I too suffered from a lack of energy. I would wake up wondering how I would get through the day, caring for my young children. Fortunately, a friend recommended P90X. From there I slowly started working on my nutrition, based on the nutrition guide, and my energy levels improved by leaps and bounds! That is why is just makes my heart sing when I can pay it forward and do the same for someone else.

“For the last 3-4 weeks I have been having Shakeology in the am 3-4 times a week. I decided not to take it on vacation…big mistake….HUGE… I can really feel the difference in my energy level. It is low and sluggish. I did not take it because I had ordered the big bag and did not want it to spill. Changing order to the individual packages so it will not happen again. Also decided to try the vanilla as well.”

Nutrition is so important. Don’t accept that fatigue is a normal part of the aging process or simply due to a busy life. Look at what you’re eating and make small changes and begin to nourish your body!

 

I received this post from one of my Focus T25 Challengers today!

 

“I started week 5 yesterday with total body. I still had the energy to complete the workout despite my two days off. My weight remains the same, however, I can move my watch to the next loop hole, my thighs or becoming smaller, my legs are toned, and my clothes are becoming loose. Not giving up just because the scale is not moving like I want it to. I continue to have a lot of energy, I can perform the moves faster and with better form, and I’m not taking a long nap after work, I’m sleeping through the night and waking up ready to go the next morning. I also notice I can return home and perform physical activities, such as, picking up the pine cones in my yard after my workout or after a long day of shopping. In the past I would usually sit lay down and go to sleep. So Alpha round almost completed getting ready for Beta.”

 

Can you change your life in FOUR WEEKS???? HECK YES!!! This is what it is all about! Sure it’s great to fit into that dress or bathing suit, but ultimately, it’s about QUALITY of LIFE!!! Sleeping well, feeling great, doing household tasks with ease, I got all teary eyed just reading this. This truely is what Beachbody is all about! These are the changes that keep you playing the game for the long haul rather than quitting once you reach that short term goal of fitting into that dress or bathing suit!

 

And here is another one!

 

“I am down 7.2 lbs, 2 inches from waist, and 1 inch from arms. Feeling good:) loving my shakeology with almond milk banana. Yes but honestly I don’t look much different:) however I feel so much better. I have a lot on my shoulders right now and I so happy I started this program it has helped tremendously with coping. That’s my real reward:)”

Do you feel like this in Middle Age?

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Photo by: Peter Cade/Getty Images

It is never too late to get fit! This weekend, Fauja Singh, a 101-year old marathoner ran his last race. He did not start running until the age of 89! Most people are dead before 89 due to poor nutrition and health!

Ernestine Shepherd, my idol, is the worlds oldest, female body builder. She is now 75 years old. She did not start body building until her 50s!!!

Ernestine Shepherd is in better shape than most people, decades her junior. Up at 3 a.m. every morning, she spends her days running, lifting weights and working out. She also works as a certified personal trainer at her gym.

Feeling better than she did at 40,”Bodybuilding champion Ernestine Shepherd shows us that ”being out of shape” as we age truly is merely an option — NOT a mandate! She is a role model not just for senior women everywhere, but for every one of us.

—————————->Do you feel tired and fatigued?<——————————-

I am in better physical shape in my 40s than I was in my 20s! Let me help you achieve the level of fitness and health that is right for you. You do not have to be a marathoner or professional body builder or die-heard Insanity fanatic like myself, walking and making healthy food choices will add many productive years to your life. If you have excess weight to lose, finding an activity that suits you is key to longevity rather than longer morbidity! Let’s make a plan for you!

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