Eating Paleo on a Busy Schedule

Melissa’s Rap: I am a busy woman. Between being a mom, working a full-time leadership position, writing a blog and juggling a household, I don’t have a lot of extra time. So, when I decided to eat Paleo, I quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of cooking (and dishes) that came with it. With practice, though, I found a system that worked for me.

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Where’s The Beef?

Sarah’s Rap: Does anyone remember the slogan “Where’s The Beef?” from Wendy’s commercials? Well, this has been what I’ve been asking lately. Burgers are one of my favorite foods on the planet. Even when I went vegan for almost a year back when I was diagnosed with digestive issues (it was the wrong tact for many reasons!), the only meat I craved was a nice grilled hamburger – juicy, sloppy and covered with yummy toppings. Considering my love of this guilty pleasure, you can imagine my disappointment when a recent MRT LEAP food sensitivity test listed beef as one of the foods which I was not IMG_2577tolerating. Not only beef, but things like almonds, lemons, avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, salicylic acid and a few others made the list. This was definitely upsetting, particularly the last one. Do you realize all the things salicylic acid is in? I hadn’t until I started researching. It’s not pretty! But as upsetting as that sensitivity is, the beef one seemed to bother me even more. Probably because I felt like one of my last comfort foods was being taken away. If you’re wondering why I have so many food sensitivities, this is very common for people suffering from Leaky Gut, particularly with foods that are eaten often. Leaky What? For more information on Leaky Gut and the bane of my existence in recent years, check out this excellent article by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne.

Well, as you may know by now, I am not one to sit back and let something like a beef intolerance get me down. I’ve already given up dairy, grains, sugars, most fruits, alcohol, most nuts and starchy vegetables after all! Continue reading

Build a Network of Love and Support

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Sarah’s Rap: If you look at any truly successful, happy or healthy person you will notice that they do not stand alone. They are surrounded by people that love and support them. Synergy, one of my favorite words, is “the combined power of a group of things when they are working together that is greater than the total power achieved by each working separately.”* This is what a human support system can do for each of us. As this month of love closes behind us, continue to grow the love in your life by finding a Bert to your Ernie, a Brady Bunch to your Alice or a cheering squad for your own personal pep rally.

That all sounds well and good, you say, but how? Well, don’t despair! Sometimes the sources of love and reinforcement can surprise us. One thing I’ve learned in recent years is that just as one needs multiple pieces to build a puzzle, so does a support network requires multiple people of varying “shapes” to make your life feel complete and your own puzzle piece to feel surrounded and stable. That’s why it’s called a support “network”, not a “pair”. No one person can provide you will all the different types of support you may require, whether you are suffering from heartbreak, job loss, illness or just life’s general stresses. Continue reading

Un-“Extreme” Prevention: Choosing A Preventative Mastectomy

choose-the-right-direction-1536336_1280Melissa’s Rap: How do you tell your 6 and 10-year-old children you are having a body part (or in my case parts, plural) cut off – just in case? That has been on my mind lately. Honestly, it has been difficult to focus on much else.

A couple of months ago, I was diagnosed with Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia Bordering on Lobular Carcinoma In-Situ. My gynecologist recommended a mastectomy based on my history – 21 plus years of mammograms, where they always found “something”, followed by ultrasounds and needle biopsies and, five times during those 21 years, surgery.

My surgeon, however, felt it best to take things one step at a time, so I had a lumpectomy in January. Thankfully, the area they removed came back cancer-free. However, because of my original diagnosis, I was offered three options:

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Book Review: The Loving Diet by Jessica Flanigan

Sarah’s Rap: Last year I was walking with a long-time friend and after voicing my unhappiness with my health issues and resulting dietary regimen (for probably the millionth time), my friend suggested that I might need to accept that this was the way things were going to be. That I might not get past this. She had a good point, and for awhile after that conversation I tried not to be upset with what I COULDN’T eat and instead was satisfied with what I COULD eat, and all the other good things I had in  my life – a loving family, a good job, enough money to buy organic, high-quality foods and more. A strange thing happened. Just by deciding to change my mindset my stress-levels reduced and I felt more enjoyment in life.

Sadly, since then I’ve regressed and reverted back to fighting my circumstances and always striving to “get better”. On one hand, it’s a good thing to want to be better. I don’t sit idly by or decide to eat whatever I want no matter how sick it makes me. I got a new doctor, did some lab work to find more food sensitivities and bacterial overgrowth issues, bought a portable sauna for the house and started doing progressive relaxation. But this mindset of always striving for better health also causes stress and a constant dissatisfaction that my life is not what I want it to be. I’m always cooking, worrying about eating at social functions and turning a bit into a hermit.  What I need to find is a balance between the two. I need to bring more LOVE into my life and only I can control how receptive I am to it. Only I can generate love within myself for others, my environment and my life experiences. No one will do it for me. I am surrounded by love from others, yet I often feel dissatisfied and depressed. I am going to call this My Year of Love and I’ve just read an inspiring book that’s going to help! Wanna join me? If so, read on!love Continue reading

Puppy Love: The Power of Pets to Heal

Sarah’s Rap: As the month of love is upon us, I have been contemplating all the sources of love in my life. I am very fortunate to receive love from many angles – family, friends, spouse and children. Each kind of love is different, yet special in its own way. All this love has definitely helped me to cope with illness, stress and challenges over the years. Thank you to all those in my life that love me. I love you too!

A few other “loves of my life” are my fuzzy buddies. As a daughter and wife of pet-lovers, there have been very few times over my lifetime that I have been without a furry friend to love. Those times that we didn’t have a pet, the house felt empty even when it was full of people. What is it about the love from a pet that sometimes feels more comforting than human love? Do I take the human love for granted because I have always had copious amounts? Is it that pets love you unconditionally (as long as you feed them)? Is it because they are always so happy to see you when you come home or maybe because they snuggle so nicely? Whatever it is, the power of a pet’s love is amazing, as is the feeling of loving a pet in return. In fact, it’s downright therapeutic!

katie-and-me

This is Katie and I after moving to the Pacific Northwest. We had her for 14 years, after adopting her when she was a 7-week pound puppy. Although she is no longer with us physically, she’ll always be in my heart.

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You are worthy! Make self-care a priority.

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Sarah’s Rap: As I decide what positive habits I’d like to foster in the New Year, one thing I really want to focus on is self-care and ensuring that I make it a priority in my life. This is very important to my healing, sanity and happiness at home and work. Although the habits we each want to cultivate differ based on who we are as individuals and what our needs are, I believe that everyone needs to make time for self-care to be healthy. Self-care, as the name implies, is “care provided for you, by you. It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self-care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.” *

Does this sound like a foreign concept or an impossible task? As a working mom, I totally understand that setting aside time for relaxation, fun, exercise, meditation, massage or whatever activity one considers as downtime can be impossible to fit in. Well read-on, my friends, and learn more about why self-care is so important and how we can use habits to incorporate more self-care into our day. Continue reading

Guest Rap: “The Rules of Meditation Club”, a poem by Pete Bachman

The 1st rule of Meditation Club is: Compassion.
The 2nd rule of Meditation Club is: We treat ourselves with kindness.
The 3rd rule of Meditation Club is: We put our heads into the dragon’s mouth.
The 4th rule of Meditation Club is: We cannot fix ourselves.
The 5th rule of Meditation Club is: We sit up straight.
The 6th rule of Meditation Club is: We shift a little on our cushion.
The 7th rule of Meditation Club is: A rushing brook in the mountains of Hokkaido.
The 8th rule of Meditation Club is: Snow falling softly on a meadow in Argentina.
The 9th rule of Meditation Club is: We lose count of the rules of Meditation Club.
The 10th rule of Meditation Club is: There are no rules of Meditation Club.
The final rule of Meditation Club is: There is no dragon. Continue reading

Surviving The Holidays With Health Challenges

Melissa’s Rap: Despite who you are and what field of work you are in, the holidays are always hectic. More events, more things to do and buy. It can overwhelm even those of us who are the most organized holiday lovers around. When you throw a chronic health condition into the mix, the holidays can increase or exacerbate symptoms, making them difficult and seemingly impossible to endure.

When I was younger, I often found myself getting depressed at the holidays. I struggled to maintain the same level of energy and cheer that my family and friends radiated. It took so much energy to get through my everyday life, that the increased demand the holidays puts on us caused me to shut down more times than not. As someone who loves the holidays, and listens to Christmas music year round because of the peace and joy it brings me, this annual struggle was difficult to understand and cope with.

Over the years, as I have discovered my many health conditions, I have learned a few things that have helped me through the holidays. If you suffer from chronic health conditions or are a highly sensitive person and the holidays are a challenge for you (or they are just a challenge because it is your regular life on steroids), before curling up in the fetal position, try incorporating some or all of these recommendations: Continue reading