Slash Breast Cancer Stats: Eat Less, Exericse More

Up to a third of breast cancer cases in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more.

Photo: ppdigital, Flickr
Photo: ppdigital, morgueFile

Breast cancer may be a mystery in many ways — why did I get it, for example? — but it’s becoming more and more evident that eating too much, exercising too little and packing on the pounds can spike your risk of developing the disease that already gets 1 in 8 women.

This news, which isn’t really all that new, was sprawled across the front page of the Gainesville Sun this morning, reminding me once again that nixing the packaged goods (I know, it’s so hard) and moving my muscles is the smart way to motor through life. It’s why I’m renewing my vows with all things healthy — starting. right. now.

Here’s one way to think about it: there is so much about cancer we cannot control. But what we put in our mouths and how we move our bodies — totally up to us! Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have moments of indulgence (I’ve been having a moment since Halloween). It just means that mostly, we need to monitor our input and ramp up our output, because, well, our lives depend on it.

Soy: Safe for Survivors?

Soy milk on your cereal? Might be OK. Photo: TheBusyBrain, Flickr
Soy milk on cereal? Your call. Photo: TheBusyBrain, Flickr

Soy doesn’t concern me much. It’s just not something I’ve ever really wanted to consume. So when docs and nutritionists advised me against it due to my breast cancer status, it never took much effort to steer clear of the stuff. For those who have been holding back, however, research is starting to say it’s A-OK to savor the soy. And not only is it maybe not dangerous, it could actually be good for you.

Why the initial soy scare? Says one article: “The concern stems from substances in soy called isoflavones, which behave like weak estrogen in the body. Estrogen, a hormone that controls the menstrual cycle, has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in women.”

There’s more to the story than this, but I don’t want to get all scientific on you, so feel free to study up in your spare time. Just know this: Soy may be safe, but of course, you still should be cautious, because, well, you just never know — just look at chocolate!

Chocolate: The New Chemotherapy?

Photo: rosevita, morgueFile
Photo: rosevita, morgueFile

If research says it, it must be true, right? I’m not so sure about that. I mean, some science says as little as one drink per day can up your breast cancer risk, and extra weight by way of stuff like chocolate can do the same. Yet new research presented just yesterday reveals that Cabernet and chocolate are cancer killers.

Yes, food matters. And Angiogenesis Foundation head William Li, who has been rating foods based on their cancer-fighting qualities, says: “What we eat is really our chemotherapy three times a day.” I get that — when it comes to blueberries, garlic, tea and a whole bunch of other healthy goods. But alcohol and candy? It’s all so confusing.

It might help to know that it’s actually red grapes and dark chocolate that apparently choke off blood supplies to tumors, starving them to death. Yes, red grapes are used to make red wine, but can’t we just eat the grapes? (Any smart nutritionists want to weigh in?). And the chocolate, well, the dark version is much better than all others, so if you want to enjoy, then, by all means, do! Just keep in mind that a portion size is something like 1 ounce.

So, even though headlines might have you all giddy about the permission you’re getting to indulge, you might want to think twice or at least commit to some careful moderation. Well, on Monday, anyway — you know, after Valentine’s Day.

The Body Fat Solution: Book Giveaway

If you are concerned about your body fat (and you should be, because carrying excess weight is linked to a whole bunch of cancers), then here’s a book you might want to get your hands on: The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight.

The book is written by Tom Venuto, fat loss expert, nutrition researcher, natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder and author. And lucky you, because what follows is some great insight from Venuto about how we can get fatter as the temps get colder — and whether you live in Ohio or Orlando, you know it’s been mighty chilly outside. Something else follows, too: a chance for you to win a copy of The Body Fat Solution. So read on, check out the giveaway rules and leave your comment.

Does Cold Weather Make You Store Body Fat?
By Tom Venuto,
Author of The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight

Do you get fatter in the cold weather? It’s a good question right now, and the answer is yes!

First there’s the psychological explanation: in warm climates, people are wearing less clothes and enjoying the outdoors and people want to look good when they’re exposing more flesh! In the cold, you’re covered up, so there’s less self-consciousness and no public accountability. Therefore, most people tend to stay on a diet more diligently and train harder when summer rolls around.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been studied at length by psychologists. Often more than just the “winter blues” but an actual type of depression, SAD occurs during the short days and long nights of winter and fall, when there’s less sunlight and colder temperatures. Symptoms include depression, cravings for specific foods, loss of energy, hopelessness and oversleeping. Obviously, these types of symptoms can contribute to weight gain.

Because of their tendency for fall and winter weight gain, many people have suspected that cold temperatures influence weight gain on a metabolic level, not just eating more. Exposure to cold temperatures can cause a shivering thermogenesis which means there’s an increase in metabolism to produce more heat (heat production = calories burned).

However, if you just got the bright idea of turning off the heat in your house, or going for a swim in the cold surf every day to “burn more fat”, I wouldn’t recommend it. Deliberate exposure to the cold, either cold air or cold water doesn’t pan out into real world fat loss results, even though there are actually “fat loss gurus” who recommend it.

Here’s why:

If your body uses some energy for shivering or heat production, it can compensate later for that energy loss by increasing your appetite. Not only that, research at the hyperbaric environmental adaptation program at the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland reported that, “The combination of exercise and cold exposure does NOT act to enhance metabolism of fats . . . Cold-induced vasoconstriction of peripheral adipose tissue may account, in part, for the decrease in lipid mobilization.”

It’s just not practical to freeze your butt off in an attempt to speed up your metabolism a tiny little bit, so your fat loss scheme wouldn’t last long if you tried.

A great example of how cold temperatures affect energy balance is in the case of swimming. For years, people thought swimming actually made you fat. There were all kinds of theories, like, “it makes you retain a layer of fat for insulation, like seals.” Actually, the most recent research shows that swimming is a perfectly good fat burning exercise, except for one thing: Swimming, especially in cold water, increases appetite dramatically.

The seasons affect your activity levels too. Pedometer research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise uncovered a huge difference in the number of steps taken between the summer and winter:

7616 steps per day in summer
6293 steps per day in fall
5304 steps per day in winter
5850 steps in spring

Most people blame winter weight gain on the food, but it’s not just the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s celebration feasts, it’s less winter activity that also contributes to the holiday pounds.

You have to keep up your training and nutrition program in the winter, or else.

Although studies have found that seasonal weight gain is usually very small, it’s the type of slow weight creep that goes unnoticed. Over a period of 10, 15 or 20 years, it’s enough to accumulate into overweight or obesity.

Thus many men and women wake up one morning at age 40 or 45, look in the mirror and ask themselves, “How did I get so heavy?” Answer: just a pound or two a year, after each winter season, left unchecked.

To stay lean all year round, you have to remain alert about increases in your appetite and decreases in your activity. This is a YEAR-ROUND LIFESTYLE! Stay active, stay diligent about nutrition, stay accountable, and if you start to experience weight gain, nip it in the bud — fast!

© 2010 Tom Venuto, author of The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight

Author Bio

Tom Venuto is a fat-loss expert, nutrition researcher, and natural, steroid-free bodybuilder. Since 1989, Venuto has been involved in virtually every aspect of the fitness and weight-loss industry — as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, motivation coach, fitness model, health club manager, and bestselling author of the popular e-book Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle, as well as other digital programs such as MP3 teleseminars and weight-loss membership websites. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

For more information:

And now for the free stuff:

  • Leave a comment and share how this book can change your life!
  • Leave your comment no later than 5PM ET on Thursday, February 18, 2010.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia, who are 18 and older.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Two winners will receive one copy of The Body Fat Solution (valued at $17).
  • Winners will be notified by email, so make sure to check next week to find out if you’ve won!

Happy World Cancer Day!


It might not seem very happy that there must be a World Cancer Day, but if we use the day for good, well, then, it can be a happy February 4. Set the dismal stats aside (without intervention, an estimated 84 million people will die of cancer between 2005 and 2015, uugh!), and instead, do something that ensures the disease will one day fade into the shadows. Some ideas: stop smoking, limit alcohol consumption (yea, that too), eat right and exercise well, get your recommended screenings (like mammograms and skin check-ups) and ditch the stress.

Another idea: honor those in your life who have done battle with cancer, because you know what? They are the ones who pave the way for the progress we do see in the fight against such a crappy disease.

Today, I thank all the women who went before me and volunteered their bodies to test the wonder drug Herceptin, which happened to become available just when I needed it. It might just reduce my chance of recurrence by something like 50 percent, and that, well, that makes me very happy.

Happy World Cancer Day!

Digging Deep for a Body Beautiful


Breast cancer made me fat. Well, not fat like being pregnant made me fat (yikes!), but it definitely left me puffy, bloated, soft and about 10 pounds heavier than I like. It’s why I took full advantage of a trip to Canyon Ranch a few years ago — I soaked up a bunch of tips and tricks for eating clean and exercising enough, made lots of lifestyle changes when I got home, and by golly, it worked. I dropped 15 pounds and found a number on the scale that made me happy.

And now, in an ironic turn of events, the very fitness that I’ve worked so hard for is making me fat. Well, not fat, but this 1/2 marathon training is making me thicker, bulkier and about 4 or 5 pounds heavier than I like. I know, I know, it might be muscle, but still, I don’t like it. I mean, I’m burning something like a thousand calories on my long runs, and, well, isn’t that supposed to help me maintain my weight? I know, I know, it might be muscle.

I think the point here is that I’m never entirely content with my body. Why is that? Well, I know partly why — OMG, all those impossible-to-attain media images. All skinny models and actresses aside, though, I’ve got to start loving what I’ve got. Like Danny loves what he’s got.

Six-year-old Danny is a lollygagger. He takes his own sweet time to accomplish anything. It seems like a pretty nice existence (low stress!), but when matters are urgent, his approach is a problem. Take school mornings: rolling around on the floor before he gets dressed and savoring each bit of breakfast just doesn’t work when we’re racing against the clock to get out the door. And today, the guy was in no hurry to brush his teeth and hair. He just stood, staring in the bathroom mirror, completely still.

“Danny, come on!” I urged him. “We need to get in the car!” And then he shared what I’ve been thinking about all day:

“Mom, I’m just checking out my beauty.”


“You are a beauty,” I told Danny, and I let him admire his image for a minute longer (but just a minute, the clock was ticking).

Sometimes wisdom comes wrapped in first-grade packages. Danny looks in the mirror and sees nothing but beauty. He doesn’t see his big tooth growing in all crooked, his messy hair or his clothing that rarely matches. He just sees good. When I look in the mirror, I see gray hair, wrinkles starting to crawl across my face, and the dreaded thigh-ulite. When I really dig deep, I do love my body — gosh, it birthed two humongous babies and beat cancer — but I need to do better at appreciating the goodness on a daily basis. That’s why, starting today, I’m going to take a little more time to look for the beauty.

I think you should, too.

Fight Fat Now, Prevent Cancer Later

The Mayo Clinic has a lot to say about breast cancer. Click over here, and you’ll land at some pretty good information about biopsies, breast cancer staging, treatment, coping and support. You’ll even learn a thing or two about obesity, because, well, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you know that being overweight or obese increases your chances of developing the disease. I know, it’s a bummer you can’t eat whatever you want and lounge on the couch all day. But you just can’t — well, not if your wish is to keep cancer from invading your world.

“The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity,” says The Mayo Clinic website. And the book The Mayo Clinic Diet, written by Dr. Donald Hensrud and other weight-loss experts at the Clinic, is chock-full of tips for eating well, enjoying life, and, yes, losing some weight.

Now, this is not a scheme to starve you skinny in no time (that’s just not healthy, or sustainable), but the book does feature a two-week quick-start plan, and then lots of material for helping you continue to lose and maintain (that’s key, after all). Think 1 to 2 pounds per week until you reach your healthy weight. Sound good? Good. Here’s more of what you’ll get in this book:

  • How to determine your healthy weight
  • How to break bad habits and create good ones
  • How to control your portions
  • How to best burn calories
  • How to handle slip-ups
  • How to make easy meals

This is a glossy, colorful and friendly book — I’m looking right now at the yummiest picture of a Blueberry and Lemon Cream Parfait — only 125 calories, 1 gram of fat and 9 grams of protein — and I can tell you for sure that the tips for overcoming barriers are really quite do-able: on days when you honestly don’t have time to cook a meal at home, for example, stop at the grocery store for a healthy deli sandwich instead of that fast food burger, fries and large Coke.

It’s still OK to eat out now and then (whew!), and this book offers the dirt on healthy dishes to order at ethnic stops, like Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese and Mexican restaurants. It’s also got the skinny on alcohol — best to avoid it, lots of calories (and linked to breast cancer, too) — and you’ll love all the charts and tables. Did you know that one serving of cashews = 4 whole nuts? Yea, that’s why I avoid them. Just can’t stop at 4. More on serving sizes in the book. Oh, and you might want to get yourself The Mayo Clinic Diet journal companion, because jotting down everything you do to fight the fat is a good idea.

Time for me to stop, and you to start — losing weight, that is (if you need to). For more book information, visit here. And for the scoop on the guy who wrote the book (and The Mayo Clinic, too), just read on.

About Donald Hensrud, M.D.
Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine and a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. He is also an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. A specialist in nutrition and weight management, Dr. Hensrud advises individuals on how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. He conducts research in weight management, and he writes and lectures widely on nutrition-related topics. He helped publish two award-winning Mayo Clinic cookbooks.

About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy that the needs of the patient come first. Over 3,600 physicians and scientists and 50,000 allied staff work at Mayo, which has sites in Rochester, Minn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz. Collectively, Mayo Clinic treats more than 500,000 patients a year.

For more than 100 years, millions of people from all walks of life have found answers at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic works with many insurance companies, does not require a physician referral in most cases and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

1/2 Marathon: Training Trouble

Photo: joey.parsons, Flickr
Photo: joey.parsons, Flickr

So, I’ve been training for a marathon (training: I love that word — sounds so athletic, which I am totally not), and it’s been going really well. Oh, except that I’m hungry all. the. time. which means I’m eating all. the. time. which means my number on the scale is not exactly what I want it to be. But hey, it’s temporary. Once I cross the finish line, I can back off on the hard-core stuff and get back to modest exercise and moderate eating.

Anyway, the actual running has been great, and I know I can conquer all 13.1 miles on February 14, because this past Sunday, I ran 12. And that leaves just 1.1 to accomplish, and I’m pretty sure I can drag my tired old body that distance to finish the race — well, barring any injuries, that is, which is why I’m writing this update.

Today, 4 miles was my goal. But not long after I started pounding the pavement, something like an ache or a pain twinged in my foot, and it wouldn’t go away. I mean, it did go away for a minute or two, but then it resurfaced, and there was just no way I could put running pressure on it. So I walked, and even that wasn’t pretty — it was all limpy and wimpy, and boy am I bummed. This is the first time I have not complied with the training schedule. Just a blip on the screen, I suppose, so I will take it easy today, and I’ll get back out there tomorrow, because I’ve got 5 miles of ground to cover, and I really, really want to run the whole distance.

I really, really want to stop inhaling food, too, so let’s just hope all my dreams come true, OK?

Giveaway – The Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes for Your Naturally Thin Life


If you’re a fan of “The Real Housewives of New York City,” then you know Bethenny Frankel. She’s not only a reality TV girl, though — she’s also a celebrity natural food chef, columnist for Health magazine and best-selling author.

First came Bethenny’s book “Naturally Thin,” detailing 10 real-life rules for escaping a lifetime of dieting, and now she’s written “The Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes for Your Naturally Thin Life.” This is where she shares fast, practical and economical healthy recipes, then teaches us how to live without them. How perfect for those of us trying to live cleaner lives in less time!

Bethenny also dishes on how we can minimize the “cooking noise” in our lives. Keep reading for some inspirational nuggets — and for the scoop on how to win one of her books.

  • Do you hear yourself saying any of these things: I have no food in this house. I don’t have the slightest idea what to make for dinner. There is nothing to eat! I don’t know how to cook. That’s “cooking noise,” and you can stop it, and you can learn to feed yourself without stressing about it.
  • Food is one of the most powerful tools you have for building a healthy body and a calm mind. Food can make you strong or weak, energized or depleted, skinny or fat. You are what you eat — it’s true.
  • Being naturally thin is a practice — you will never be perfect (no one is), but you can choose a healthy path and keep plugging along on it.
  • Recipes are a bit like kindergarten. You learn some basics (how do Whole Grain Blueberry Pancakes, a Healthier Cobb Salad and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies sound?), then you gain the confidence to branch out on your own. When you know how to cook, you won’t need recipes anymore.

OK, I could go on, but then you wouldn’t need the book, and I really think you should get it. Or you could enter this giveaway for a chance to win a free copy. Details follow:

  • Leave a comment and share why you need this book!
  • Leave your comment no later than 5PM ET on Tuesday, January 12, 2010.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia, who are 18 and older.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • One winner will receive one copy of “The Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes for Your Naturally Thin Life,” valued at $16.00.
  • Winners will be notified by email, so make sure to check next week to find out if you’ve won!

Want another chance to win? Same giveaway going on at Braving Boys. Click here and enter again!

Hope, Dare, Dream

Thanks, Mom!

I asked my mom for note paper this Christmas. Just something simple for jotting down all the stuff I’m always scribbling (lists are my life, they’re the only way I stay sane). And like always, my sweet momma delivered. She didn’t just grab a few boring pads of paper, though. Nope. She found the inspirational stuff that makes me motivated to live like it matters — you know, to be a good mom and wife, help others, run a half marathon, eat healthy (after the holidays, I promise!), take risks, kick cancer’s butt, that kind of stuff.

And here sits my stack of stationery, right next to me on my desk, reminding me to hope, dare and dream. Oh, and she threw in a cute pad with apples on it (another reminder I need to get a grip on my nutritious ways, maybe?), and two pretty personalized pads, too.

I got a lot of great gear for Christmas this year — a hot pink sports bra and running shorts for those 13.1 miles, yummy body lotions, delicious candles, a trendy little vest for chilly Florida days, a mom-made scarf and more. The paper: A definite favorite.

Thanks, mom, for everything — you know me so well.

Prevent Cancer by Kicking Butts

isabel bloedwater, Flickr
isabel bloedwater, Flickr

As you may have noticed, it seems like just about everyone is getting breast cancer nowadays, which makes it critical that we do every itty, bitty thing we can in the spirit of prevention — like quitting smoking, even if it’s just an occasional habit.

According to the Breast Journal, women who smoke 100 or more cigarettes in a lifetime increase their odds of getting breast cancer by 25 percent. So, kick those butts, and make sure all the young women in your life know why it’s so important they never start puffing away.

Oh, and while you work at ditching the smokes, you might want to shed a few pounds and start working up a sweat, because getting fit and  slimming down can cut your cancer risk, too. Hey, no one said being healthy was easy, right?

Slim Down to Cut Your Cancer Risk

cohdra, morgueFile
cohdra, morgueFile

This isn’t always true, because I was not overweight prior to my breast cancer diagnosis (which means something else caused my unfortunate turn of events), but carrying around extra fat on your body is definitely linked to an increased risk for developing the disease. My friend, nutritionist and author Jonny Bowden says so — “Researchers estimate that extra body fat causes 33,000 breast cancer cases a year,” he says, and guess what? Probably 21,000 cases of endometrial cancer and more than 13,000 of colorectal cancer are caused by too much weight. Scary stuff, isn’t it?

There’s good news: You can reduce your risk by losing as little as 10 percent of your current body weight. (Well, if you are overweight, that is. No need if you’re currently maintaining a healthy number on the scale.) Here’s a bunch of tools to get you started. Oh, yea, and if you’re in the market for breast cancer treatment, be prepared to pack on some pounds. It happens (I was in the 10-pound club myself) — who knows why (the drugs, maybe) — but you might very well need to shed some skin after the fact. So these tools may come in handy down the road, even if you don’t need them now.

Can a Bra Cause Breast Cancer?

Tomás Fano, Flickr

I once had big boobs — really big boobs. So big I had them reduced and lost 4 whole pounds of tissue. Had I not had a breast reduction, my tumor might have been buried deep inside all that stuff, never to be found by me. But I did find the cancerous mass, because it was right on the surface, and so I’m very thankful that my small-ish boobs may have saved my life.

But that’s another story.

This story is about the bras I wore with those big breasts, because they were underwire bras, meant to heave those two things up and place them right in their intended spots, and there’s a doctor out there claiming that this very type of bra can cause breast cancer. Essentially, those contraptions I wore for my big boobs might have caused the cancer I found after they weren’t so big anymore.


Sure enough, says medical anthropologist Dr. Sydney Singer, author of the book “Dressed To Kill: The Link between Breast Cancer and Bras.”

Basically we are impairing our circulation of blood flow,” Singer says. And if the flow of both blood and lymph is constricted within the breasts, this will cause the buildup of toxins, which can cause disease. Of course, family history, bad genes, poor diets, obesity and more play a role, but bras — well, they are apparently pretty dangerous all on their own.

Not so fast, says the American Cancer Society — they refute the claim that bras are a risk factor for breast cancer. Although Ken Smith, an American Cancer Society Breast Health Facilitator, does agree that more research is necessary on this topic. Probably won’t happen, though, he says, because many hospitals and breast cancer research centers are supported by undergarment sales profit. Hmmm. Good point. There are more good talking points in this article, which is all about the bra-breast cancer connection. Take a look for yourself, and tell me what you think:

Are bras to blame? Or not?

DIY Breast Cancer Prevention

Olive Oil
foodistablog, Flickr

Extra-virgin olive oil could suppress a breast-cancer promoting gene if used as your primary kitchen oil, says the team at Family Circle magazine (October 1, 2009).

That’s not the only do-it-yourself tip FC offers. Apparently, apples can help too (phenolics in the fruit may combat malignant tumors) and vitamin D can aid in the prevention of cell division and the activation of a tumor-suppressing protein.

And the one I love the most: Reducing calorie intake and exercising regularly can slow tumor growth and lower the amount of leptin (a fat-released protein linked to the disease) in the bloodstream.

Got any DIY tips for keeping cancer away?

Get Fit and Get Your Mammogram

We don’t know what causes breast cancer, but we can take steps to decrease our risk. Here are two.

Simple enough, right? OK, maybe the getting fit part is easier said than done. But you can find some great inspiration for slimming down and working up a sweat over at That’s Fit — I’m an editor and writer there, so I’m partial to the place. And to make good on that mammogram (yes, it might hurt, but I promise it’s not as painful as breast cancer), check out these American Cancer Society recommendations for who should get a mammo and when. Self-exams are important too. Here, how to do them.

Share Your Success Story!

tape-measure-200jd070809This isn’t entirely a post about breast cancer. It’s more about weight loss, which really does connect to breast cancer in a way, because there are many women (like me) who revamp their lifestyles, clean up their diets and get fit after a run-in with the disease. It’s a good idea, you know? The whole clean life thing.

Anyway, if you have a great weight loss success story and would like to be featured on That’s Fit (I write there too), then please leave me a comment, and I’ll be in touch. We’re sharing inspiring Biggest Loser sorta stories, and all you’d need to do is answer a few questions and submit two photos (before and after). Check out Mel in this post. And Roni in this one. And visit That’s Fit on Monday at 11 a.m. and check out Heather — impressive. These posts will give you a sense of how your spotlight would appear.

If you are not a candidate for this project of mine but know someone who might be, please send that person my way.

Pretty please.

And thank you.

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt, Flickr

The Everything Flat Belly Cookbook


This isn’t a breast cancer book, but it’s related in a kind-of, sort-of way. You know how we hear all the time that eating a clean diet can help ward off cancer, and how breast cancer recurrence is less likely if you feed yourself mostly nutritious foods? Well, The Everything Flat Belly Cookbook is chock full of healthy recipes — 300 of them, to be exact — and the best thing about this handy, dandy book (except that my friend, neighbor and former trainer wrote it) is that you can whip up these eats in no time at all — and for not much money either. There’s nothing extravagant about the dishes you’ll find here, there are no fancy ingredients you’ll need to hunt down and I’m pretty sure adults and kids alike will gobble up these goodies. I mean, who doesn’t like toasted cheese? It’s in there, and you can make it with a mere 177 calories and absolutely no fat. Like taco salad? Me too. Especially the kind with only 233 calories and 2 grams of fat. And don’t worry, you can get your chocolate fix too. A dark chocolate pretzel rod will fill you with just 76 calories and 3 grams of fat. You won’t want to suck these down, of course, but a bit of chocolate here and there is definitely do-able.

There’s no question this book will help you stay healthy. It’ll keep your abs in fighting flat shape too. Now that’s a two-fer you’ve got to like.

Weighing on my mind

I admit it, I’m concerned about my weight. Not worried about it, just concerned about in a way that makes me work at keeping it right where it is. But I don’t exercise and eat right (yesterday doesn’t count) for weight reasons alone. I also do it for my overall health, which really is a bigger concern for me than the numbers that stare up at me from my scale each day.

A healthy lifestyle as it relates to cancer prevention gets a lot of press. It’s pretty much a fact nowadays that by eating certain foods, ditching all the junk and working up a good sweat most days of the week, we can ward off all sorts of disease. Simple stuff. Also pretty high pressure.

Now that I’ve had cancer, I know that the way I live my life can quite possibly keep me from getting it again. So I do my best. But when I cheat and eat that plate of chicken nachos or skip a day (or week or month) on the workout circuit, I feel guilty, as if I’m rejecting the medicine that can keep me well. It’s a weird mix of motivation and burden. Knowing I have the key to a long, healthy life makes me want to eat veggies for all of time. But knowing I have the key to a long, healthy life makes me feel like I’m doing myself a major disservice when I steal fries of my kids’ dinner plates.

I know, I’m human, and I can’t be perfect all that time. Still, it weighs on my mind. Which is why today, I walked for 3.5 miles, and tomorrow, I plan to lift a few weights. A fruit salad is on the menu for breakfast this morning, and I’m recommitting to a ban on most packaged foods. It’s the least I can do to ensure I’m here for the long haul.

Photo courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography on flickr

25 Things About Me

1)    I have two beautiful boys who made big entrances into the world: One was 10 pounds, 9 ounces and the other was 10 pounds, 2 ounces. No C-sections. Just lots of drugs, lots of a pushing, a vacuum and two whopper episiotomies.
2)    My big boys left me with big tummy skin. Five years after the second baby arrived, I had a tummy tuck. I must say it was one of the best moves I’ve ever made. Something about sitting down and not having a roll of skin flop over the top of my pants is quite liberating.
3)    My biggest boy (Joey, he’s 8 years old) won’t stop growing. The kid wears my same shoe size, is something like four feet nine and weighs well into the 80s. His doc thinks he may be six feet six when he “grows up.”
4)    A tummy tuck is not the only surgery I’ve had. Before kids, I had a breast reduction and lost 4 pounds of dense, heavy tissue. I went from a 34 DDD to a 34 C. Another great move.
5)    My reduction may have saved my life, because 8 years later, a cancerous tumor showed up in my left breast. Had all that tissue not been removed, the mass could have been buried deep inside, detectable perhaps only at a late stage.
6)    My breast cancer was caught early (I found it while taking a shower). It was stage I, with no spread to lymph nodes. Still, it was aggressive and so my treatment was quite harsh.
7)    Being bald was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to endure.
8)    I am a licensed cosmetologist. Thought I didn’t want to go to college, so I did a vocational program in high school. Then realized I did want to go to college and spent the next seven years there.
9)    I got my undergrad degree from Kent State University and my grad degree from the University of Florida.
10)  I was born in Ohio and lived the majority of my years there. Yet Florida seems more like home, maybe because my mom and sister live here.
11)  Someone I know thinks my mom, sister and I look exactly alike. I guess that means I look 62 or my mom looks like she’s in her 30s. I’m going with the latter.
12)  For 30-some years, my sister and I were never told we looked alike. Then my hair grew back brown instead of the blonde it had always been, and it’s like we’re twins or something.
13)  I have very poor vision. What someone with perfect eyesight can see from 400 feet, I can only see from 20 feet. I hid my glasses in my bedroom closet for the whole year I was in first grade. Wonder if that made things worse.
14)  It took me 37 years to learn how to eat well. I figure a healthy lifestyle is my key to surviving cancer so no red meat, alcohol or sweets for me. I only drink water (although not enough, I’m pretty sure) and try to consume lots of fruits and veggies. I watch calories and fat but sometimes go overboard on the bad carbs. I just can’t resist restaurant bread.
15)  I’ve been known to exercise obsessively (to maintain my weight and stay healthy too) but am sad to report that I’m just not feeling the motivation lately. Burnout, maybe.
16)  I’m a neat freak but not a clean freak. I don’t clean once a week or anything, just when I notice the dust piling up. But everything must be in place at all times.
17)  I traveled to Europe just after graduating from high school and for the whole month I was away, I wanted to be home. I never want to go back.
18)  I hate to travel. I hate packing, driving or flying long distances, living out of suitcases. I was miserable on a flight to Hawaii many years ago, and while traveling from Ohio to Florida as a kid, I could will myself to sleep for almost the entire drive.
19)  My boys have never seen snow but can’t wait to see it. And I can’t imagine ever getting them to a snowy location, because it will require travel.
20)  My boys want a baby sister. I don’t want another baby.
21)  I miss my grandma, who died three weeks after my second guy was born.
22)  I love candles and silence.
23)  I love when my boys are really happy. My heart breaks when they are really sad.
24)  I have been married for 13 years. John remembers exactly what I was wearing the day we met. I remember that he complimented me on my cute toes.
25)   I’ve worked at a hair salon, a yogurt + tanning salon, as an RA at Kent State and a judicial officer at UF, as a college administrator, a preschool assistant teacher and as a server of booze at Blossom Music Center in Ohio. My favorite jobs, though, without question: Mommy and writer.