The Rose Run: Register Now!

Roserunlogo

I’ve got the perfect 5K for you. It’s called The Rose Run, and it takes place on Saturday, July 17, 2010 in Petersburg, Michigan. Well, that’s one place it takes place. It also happens wherever you’ll be on that very day — Cleveland, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, heck, any location in the United States, really. You name it, you can run (or walk) it.

Call it a virtual run, a run from a distance, whatever you want — just gather a few of your friends, form a team, and plan to participate, because I promise you it will make Race Director Jessica Cribbs one happy girl. You see, Jessica lost her mother to breast cancer in January 2009, and this run is in honor of the brave and courageous Rose Hunt. It’s also in support of everyone out there fighting the same disease, and the money raised through the event will benefit breast cancer research. Last year, Jessica raised more than $10,000. Her goal was $2,000.

If you’re game for helping Jessica raise a bunch more cash this year, check out this scoop on registering. And if you do register, leave a comment and let us know from where you’ll be pounding the pavement. We’d love to know.

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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.

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Swim for Cancer Research

swim-400jd030210
Ladies and Gentlemen? Take Your Mark? Go!

I would so totally do this if it weren’t for the buckets of water that flood my nose every time I swim, or my hate-relationship with swimsuits, or the fact that sucking air at the end of each lap makes me kind of cranky. Swimming is just not my thing. Running, yes. Biking, sure. Just not swimming. It’s the one thing that will forever keep me from competing in triathlons. Wait, that’s a lie. I just don’t want to compete in triathlons. The swimming thing is just a convenient excuse.

You, on the other hand, might love swimming. Or maybe you don’t, but you’re willing to take a stab at a great challenge. If that sounds like you, then I want you to try this out, and let me know how it goes. Why? Because it helps us cancer girls and guys, and because if you do it, then I won’t feel so guilty for not taking the plunge myself.

Here’s the deal, all wrapped up in a pretty press release:

logo-400jd030210
swimchallenge.org
IN THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES – WHO WILL GO THE LONGEST?

Aqua Sphere Challenges Men and Women to Swim for a Cause

VISTA, Calif. – March, 2010 – Aqua Sphere, the leader in high-end, innovative swim products, dares to see who will go the distance—men or women?

As the sponsors of the Swim Challenge, Aqua Sphere, the company that promotes comfort and long-lasting performance in the water has thrown down the gauntlet in an effort to raise funds and awareness for breast and prostate cancer and in the process, determine who rules th e pool.

Beginning April 1 through November 30, swimmers of all abilities can sign-up and sign on to www.swimchallenge.org each day to log their hours (not their laps) in the water.  Whether they like it smooth or rough, on their backs or their stomachs – it’s not the stroke that matters but who will outlast their competition.

The Swim Challenge website will track the total time, men vs. women, via a “leader meter” posted on the website and created as a widget so that competitors can keep tabs on their counterparts. The site will also allow swimmers to individually track their personal progress in the pool, encouraging them to swim longer each day.

A $35,000 donation will be split between the Prostate Cancer Foundation (men) and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (women); allocations will be determined by the cumulative hours swum by each gender.

“Regardless who wins, they both win,” says Olivier Laguette, Director of Marketing for Aqua Sphere. “We’ve all been personally affected by cancer in some way or another but instead of simply writing a check, we wanted to do something fun that would promote a healthy lifestyle as well as some healthy competition – and a little bit of gender wars seemed appropriate.”

Aqua Sphere, the originator of the “swim mask,” is widely known for their line of comfortable aquatic eyewear includin g the popular Seal and Vista masks and the Kaiman and Kayenne goggles.  Designed for form and function, swimmers can simply fit the frames to their face and forget about them while they enjoy swimming for time, distance, exercise or just fun.

For more information on the Swim Challenge, visit us on the web at www.swimchallenge.org or join the Swim Challenge Facebook fan site. Twitter users can also follow swim_challenge for the latest updates.

About Aqua Sphere
Aqua Sph ere is the worldwide brand of choice for swimming gear, based on the highest industry standards of design and innovation.  Launched in the mid-90s as a division of the diving industry leader Aqua Lung, Aqua Sphere is committed to supplying eye protection for dedicated or casual swimmers, enabling them to feel safe, comfortable and at home in the water.  The company’s numerous innovations include the Seal, the first swim mask featuring 180° vision and Kaiman, the first panoramic goggle.  For more information, call (800) 775-3483, or log on to
www.aquasphereswim.com.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF) was founded in 1993 by Evelyn H. Lauder as an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding innovative clinical and translational research.  In October 2009, BCRF awarded nearly $28.5 million to 173 scientists across the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. BCRF perseveres in directing at least 85 cents of every dollar raised directly to research.  And for the eighth consecutive year, BCRF received Charity Navigator’s highest rating, four stars, thus outperforming over 99.8% of the 5,400 evaluated charities, while the American Institute of Philanthropy has awarded BCRF its highest possible rating of A+.  BCRF is the only breast cancer organization in the U.S. to receive these accolades.  For more information about BCRF, visit www.bcrfcure.org.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) was founded in 1993 to find better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer. Through its unique model for soliciting and selecting promising research programs and rapid deployment of resources, the PCF has funded more than 1,500 programs at nearly 200 research centers in 20 countries around the world.  The PCF is a force of HOPE for more than 16 million men and their families around the world who are currently facing the disease.  For more information, visit www.prostatecancerfoundation.org

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1/2 Marathon: Numbers Change

Official results are in, and I lied about my 1/2 marathon time. It’s better than 2 hours, 13 minutes and 53 seconds. It’s 2 hours, 12 minutes and 33 seconds. I came in 34th out of 49 in my age group (35-39) and 185th out of all women overall — not sure how many there were total.

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1/2 Marathon: The Numbers Are In!

Minutes from the finish line
Me, to the left of the guy in orange / minutes from the finish line

I’m not very good at math. In fact, my third-grader has pretty much out-paced me now that he’s mastering the metric system — yikes! But that doesn’t mean I don’t like numbers. I actually really like them when they have some significance in my life.

Finished!
Not as unhappy as I look, just tired.

I like to say I’m 39 years old (age is kind of like a badge of honor after cancer), that I’ve been married for 14 years, that I have 2 boys (born weighing 10 pounds, 9 ounces and 10 pounds, 2 ounces), that I went to college for 6.5 years, that I’ve survived breast cancer for 5 years, and, now, today, I get to add some new numbers to my bag of tricks. Here goes:

Today, I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 13 minutes and 53 seconds, and it was 29 degrees when I started. I scored 1 pretty medal, 2 hand-made little-boy signs (“Mom, you are a star” on Joey’s sign and “You are good moon mom” on Danny’s sign) and 2 free bagels and some water after the race.

With my mom cooking 1 glorious pasta meal for dinner and John promising me 1 massage later for Valentine’s Day, I’m counting this as a pretty good numbers day — although tomorrow might be a good time to start counting carbs (bagels, pasta!).

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The Body Fat Solution: Book Giveaway

thebodyfatsolution.com
thebodyfatsolution.com

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: http://www.burnthefatblog.com/

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!

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1/2 Marathon: Running with Ribbons

Running Ribbons
Ribbon Ready!

The 1/2 marathon I’m going to run next Sunday is kind of like me making a statement. And what I’m saying is that I’m really not that wimpy, after all. Yea, I cried whined the other day when a basketball smacked me in the face during a family game of P-I-G, and I always wimper about doing oh, five regular push-ups, but when it comes to the big stuff (like birthing big babies, beating breast cancer and running long distances), I’m kind of tough.

I’m also saying that the body is a miraculous thing. It can get sick, withstand tortuous treatments and somehow rebound into a healthy, fighting machine. I’ll prove it by crossing the finish line after 13.1 miles with the same legs that five years ago were so weak they could barely support me.

These statements aren’t really visible to anyone else, though — just the stuff that motivates me personally.

I will be running with some tangible statements on race day, though, when I sport one blue ribbon, one orange ribbon and one pink ribbon. Here’s what they’ll say: My orange ribbon will say that I’ve donated blood, my blue ribbon will say that I’ve received blood and my pink ribbon, well, who doesn’t know what that says. Pink is not really part of the event, I’m just adding it, but blue and orange are, because the Five Points of Life race I’m doing raises awareness for the five ways to share life with others through the donation of blood, apheresis, marrow, cord blood, organ and tissue.

Just one week until I make all my 1/2 marathon statements. Then I’ll have to decide on something else to shoot for: an injury-free game of hoops, maybe, or a personal push-up challenge.

Nah.

Push-ups make me crabby.

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Happy World Cancer Day!

Photo: istock.com
Photo: istock.com

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!

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Digging Deep for a Body Beautiful

Photo: istock.com
Photo: istock.com

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.”

Sigh.

“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.

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Fight Fat Now, Prevent Cancer Later

www.goodbooks.com/mayoclinicdiet/
www.goodbooks.com/mayoclinicdiet/

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.

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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?

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I Run For Life

Today, I listened to this song during my 4-mile run, and it’s the very thing that helped me finish. That means it’s definitely going last on my 1/2 marathon playlist, because just when I’m convinced 13.1 miles is way too much for one person to accomplish, I’m going to need a reminder that really, it’s totally and completely do-able. I’m running for life, after all — how hard can it be to pound the pavement for two hours?

(Melissa Etheridge)

It’s been years since they told her about it
The darkness her body possessed
And the scars are still there in the mirror
Everyday that she gets herself dressed
Though the pain is miles and miles behind her
And the fear is now a docile beast
If you ask her why she is still running
She’ll tell you it makes her complete

[Chorus:]
I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife
I run for you and me, my friend
I run for life

It’s a blur since they told me about it
How the darkness had taken its toll
And they cut into my skin and they cut into my body
But they will never get a piece of my soul
And now I’m still learning the lesson
To awake when I hear the call
And if you ask me why I am still running
I’ll tell you I run for us all

[Chorus:]
I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for your mother your sister your wife
I run for you and me my friend
I run for life

And someday if they tell you about it
If the darkness knocks on your door
Remember her remember me
We will be running as we have before
Running for answers
Running for more

I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife
I run for you and me my friend
I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for your mother your sister, your daughter, your wife
For you and me my friend
I run for life
Ohohohoh

I run for your mother your sister your wife
I run for you and me my friend
I run for life

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1/2 Marathon: Training Update No. 1

Race Day: February 14, 2010 / www.lifesouth.org
Race Day: February 14, 2010 / www.lifesouth.org

I promised updates when I announced I’d be running a 1/2 marathon in celebration of surviving breast cancer for five years. (Running 13.1 miles does qualify as a celebration, right? Or should I have gone for the shopping spree, pampered pedicure, yummy dinner at a fancy restaurant?)

Well, here’s update No. 1:

Training is going well, and up until last night when I hopped up quickly from my chair to answer the phone after an 8.5-mile run and realized that for a moment, I could see nothing but darkness and could not respond to the caller (I think that’s called nearly passing out), there really have been no problems — no soreness, tightness, issues with breathing, nothing. Well, my knee is kinda achy today, but I think that’s related to the whole nearly-passing-out thing — here’s the scoop on that:

My tri-athlete-inspired dad sent me some powder recently, and he urged me to mix it with water and drink it after my long runs — I can sip it throughout the run, too, but I must drink it afterward, he said. It’s intended to:

  • Improve energy and endurance
  • Prevent cramping and dehydration
  • Restore electrolytes
  • Improve glycogen resynthesis

And I have chugged back the drink on most of my long runs — but not yesterday. Not sure why, I just got caught up in a family game of Uno, I guess, and never did mix the thing up. I suppose that’s why I got all weak and wobbly when I raced for the phone, and why my knee feels funky today. OK, OK, lesson learned. I’m like that, you know. I do things my own way, thinking everything will be just fine, and then I realize that someone else might actually know more than I do. Like the clothing thing. My sister keeps telling me I need some marathon-appropriate gear so I can get all layered and then shed some skin as I warm up on my cool-weather jaunts — because those short shorts I wore in 40-degree temps yesterday just didn’t do my any favors, and it’s very likely that my 7:00 AM race on February 14 will be a bit chilly.

So, while it may seem like my training is not going as well as I report, it really is. I mean, I once was a 3-mile-only girl, and now I’ve conquered more than 8 miles at one time. That’s huge in my book. Plus, I’m feeling so strong on some runs, I just know I could keep going (but I don’t, except for that one time, because I want to stick to the schedule), and, well, I just feel really good about it all. I can truly visualize myself crossing the finish line, and most important in all of this is that I’m pushing my body to perform — the same old body that was knocked out by chemo and folded onto the living room floor with blood counts so low only a blood transfusion could help. Yep, that one. Amazing what the body can do — as long as the person attached to it follows the rules.

Next run: powder drink and some new functional fashion!

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Hope, Dare, Dream

note-paper-200jd122509
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.

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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?

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5 Years and a 1/2 Marathon

Not me, or my shoes. But a cool pic, I think / Photo: Perfecto Insecto, Flickr
Not me. Or my shoes. Just a cool pic / Photo: Perfecto Insecto, Flickr

You might think I’d celebrate my 5-year cancerversary by going out to dinner. Nope. Buying myself something fun? No. Indulging in a massage or pedicure? Well, the pedicure I’ll probably do, because my sweet sister bought me a gift certificate for one, but mostly, I won’t be splurging on anything in the spirit of survival. Instead, I’m signing up for a 1/2 marathon. And I plan to run. the. whole. thing.

The final four on “The Biggest Loser” Tuesday night convinced me I could do it. They ran a full 26.2 miles, but I’m starting small. I really haven’t ever run more than five miles at one time, so I’m putting myself on a 10-week training schedule in order to work up to the feat. It all started today with a three-mile run. Saturday is four. There will be some rest drizzled in, some strength stuff, and then on Sunday, February 14, I’ll hopefully crank out 13.1 miles for Five Points of Life.

Here’s the scoop: Five Points of Life raises awareness for the five ways to share life with others through the donation of blood, apheresis, marrow, cord blood, organ and tissue. Then there’s the exercise component — setting a goal of running or walking a marathon is a great way to commit to a fitness plan that can make a permanent difference in someone’s health and life.

This is perfect for me, because (1) I am a recipient of blood donation — when chemo knocked me on my butt and landed me in the hospital, two units of someone’s blood perked me right up. (2) I’ve also donated. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it — I got all dizzy, had to be carted off on a red chair and was fed cookies and juice until I revived. But hey, someone got my blood, and maybe a life was saved. (3) I’m all about being fit, since I’m pretty sure it might be my key to living a long life, and I figure this training thing will keep me motivated to stay in shape.

OK, so this personal challenge might not be all roses and sunshine. Thirteen miles is, yes, a lot of miles. Training could take a lot of time (which I happen to have, thanks to my no-job scenario), it could be really tiring, I’m going to have to tweak my diet so I’m getting the proper fuel, and I’m not really looking forward to the strength training thing — I just don’t love it. Still, I’m inspired.

So, I’m signing up.

Right now.

Before I chicken out.

I’ll be right back.

Done. I’m registered. I admit: It was hard to push that submit button (especially after realizing that it will likely take me hours to run this event), but it’s a done deal now.

I’m off and running.

Updates to follow.

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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.

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