Friday, August 30, 2013

Hairy Cell What?

I've referred to my cancer in some of these writings, but have not elaborated on the specifics and how health care in this country addresses cancer treatment. It had been about a years and a half of not feeling well and worsening symptoms of fatigue, achiness, migraines, often feeling flu-like. When I finally got the diagnosis of hairy cell leukemia, a rare leukemia, I actually felt some relief. There was finally a name for what I had. Now, it is important to note that I had always feared cancer and avoided learning about it, always referring patients to cancer nutrition specialists. What I learned about this cancer is that it was slow growing, but progressive, usually affected males in their mid-70's. The only treatment available was chemotherapy. These chemotherapeutic drugs can improve function for up to 10 years if the patient responds. But, what is understated is that these very drugs can cause more virulent cancers, neuropathy and other side effects. After weighing the pros and cons of traditional treatment, I chose to look into alternative therapies. It is not easy to find out about alternatives and in fact, many of these programs were forced out of the United States and into other countries. Being the networker that I am, I was connected to a wonderful naturopath in Connecticut and an organization, People Against Cancer. This organization assessed my labs and provided me with information about traditional and non-traditional treatments specific to my cancer. The challenge was and remains that since this is such a rare cancer, there is less information about treatment protocols. For example, many solid tumors - breast cancer, colon cancer - do better with vegetarian diets, whereas I need red meat, lots of protein. I was connected to a program in Germany and went for three weeks. I learned about detoxification in ways beyond what I already knew, as well as spending a lot of time meditating, visualizing myself as being already healed. We spent time out in nature and organic meals along with alkaline water. We used a papimi machine that created a thumping sound, used to alter the energetic rhythms of the various organs. While working hard in this program, I was also on a very specific supplement regimen. I take over 100 supplements daily, some with food, others on an empty stomach. I refer to this as my chemotherapy because some of the mushroom extracts help with supporting the immune system, while others assist the liver in detoxifying the body. I have not been sick since being on this regimen. In addition to looking at the physiological aspects of the disease, we learned about the spiritual and emotional aspects of certain cancers. Leukemias refer to lacking joy in life, lacking self-love and I could certainly relate to this. My life had been dedicated to serving others without really thinking about what I wanted, what was my purpose and passion in life. While I love my work, music, being with my family, I had become a workaholic due to life circumstances. It was easy to focus on work and providing for others because I needed to do this, but what was totally missing, was stopping to take time to replenish. All of a sudden, it clicked - I did not give to me the way I gave to others. I did not show myself love and now my body came to a screeching halt. I was exhausted, unable to do things in the way that I once did - "the energizer bunny" of the past. But what was even more challenging is that my disease is considered low grade and I can still function, wanting to function, yearning to keep things as they were, being successful. As I started to feel better in the Spring, I fell into old habits - more work, taking on extra responsibilities, not listening to my spirit that needed rest and continued visualization toward balance. Speed on to July - blood work worsened, stomach involvement due to compromised immunity, low energy. But at least this time, I recognize that I have a choice - either workaholism that will kill me or stepping back into a period of true healing - work, fresh air, meditation/yoga, my various treatments - vitamin C IV's, infrared sauna, energy work. My spirit feels strong - I can heal, but it will take time. I continue to work closely with my medical team and coordinate my care which is time-consuming. I meet with my oncologist every 3 months, my functional medicine doc every 2 months, my naturopath every 2-3 months, consult with my People Against Cancer director to revise my supplement regimen and consider what labs need to be done. I look at this period as a "bump in the road". Life lessons are valuable and if these challenges can be seen as gifts, one can succeed with true healing. I've always taken the road less traveled and I will continue along this path - I know that this process will be an inspiration for others in the future. This is one of the gifts of my cancer. I plan to heal my cancer, listen to its message, not blast it away. After all, it is a part of me. In health, Julie

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Belly

I am so excited to write about this topic because it is one that is near and dear to many of us. One of the frequent questions asked in my office is, "can you help me get rid of this stomach", and as I walk around town, I see the expanding abdominal girth of many. Whenever I would gain weight over the years, it always went directly to the middle, bypassing my very skinny ankles and calves. My nickname was "chicken legs"! This summer has been a sobering one for me as I dress creatively to manage bloating and stomach discomfort. It is no coincidence that many of the clients referred to me are struggling with stomach distress, bloating and abdominal weight gain as well. Many of these folks have diets that are high in refined carbs or they may be on medications that have compromised gut function, thus creating an environment for the "ugly buglies" to grow - yeasts and bacteria. In my case, the cancer that I have suppresses the immune system, thus allowing the gut to be overcome by these yeasts and bacteria. What is interesting is that I was one of those who struggled with eating excessive carbs and craving sweets. As the years have passed, my eating habits have become very clean and I love my food. It is no longer a struggle to choose greens, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. And yet, the bloated belly is uncomfortable and we must remind ourselves that we are more than our bodies. What I am referring to is the self-esteem that can get caught up in body image. It takes a lot of self-talk to keep one feeling good about other attributes because often the superficial aspects of body image create a false sense of self-worth. As I have further explored digestion, there are other emotional and spiritual factors that can affect one's difficulty with the middle weight gain. According to Louise Hay, author of "Heal Your Body", she correlates diabetes and pancreas issues with a lack of sweetness in life. Other energetic healers look at the solar plexus (the middle abdominal area) as the area where one may hold onto old hurts, old angers, old ways of being. This "holding onto" can create bloating and constipation. One healer that I met with suggested a mantra that really resonates for me - "I release, I allow, I accept, I rejoice". not only If you struggle with belly issues, consider not only looking at the diet, which is certainly an important aspect, but dig deeper into the emotional aspects that might also be impacting your digestion. Are you truly enjoying the "sweetness" in life or are you feeding yourself sweet to make up for it? Are your holding onto old stuff that needs to be let go? Release, allow, accept and rejoice! Julie

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Satisfying the Palette

Saturday was the day to do focused shopping - my younger daughter heads to college next week, thus there were storage containers to purchase, toiletries and a quick trip to our favorite make-up store, Bare Minerals. My older daughter needed to find a dress for a wedding and also needed to replenish her Bare Minerals as well. I had heard about this company a few years back and knew that the claim to fame was few ingredients and allergic reactions. While in Germany last year for my alternative cancer program, I once again heard about this company from EWG (Environmental Working Group, an agency that rates cancer causing chemicals in skin care products, cleaners and other chemical-laden products. When I think about "palette" in this context, I am brought back to my concept of my tag-line, "Feel Great Look Great From The Inside Out". This concept was born when I learned about skin care, wardrobing and social presence and modeled for an agency during college. Prior to this experience, I was very unconfident in my presence. I carried this concept into my weight control classes that I coordinated in the health promotion department at the hospital where I worked and created a fun program for teens focusing on total body care - good nutrition, fitness, skin care and wardrobing for unique body types. In our family, we are cautious about what products we use on our bodies and are moving into changing cleaning products as well. The skin care line at Bare Minerals is nice and what I also really like about it is the natural look that is created, emphasizing one's unique beauty instead of changing one's look entirely. Consider taking an outing and create your own palette of color! The other palette that was satisfied Saturday evening was taste. I've mentioned often that being creative with food comes naturally for me. I love blending flavors and presenting food on the plate that appeals to the eye as well as the stomach! This week, the organic eggplant and tomatoes were abundant, so I decided to create a greek meal. I oven roasted diced eggplant with onions, then added diced tomatoes and a sprinkle of oregano, continuing to roast until the eggplant was browned. I then mixed grass fed ground bison with gluten free bread crumbs, an egg, onion powder, oregano and feta cheese. I made burgers out of the mixture and fried them in a greased pan. For the carb lovers, I made a focaccia on Samis Millet and Flax pizza crust. I order the millet-flax line of grain products from Samis Bakery as these products are wheat free, many are yeast free and the fiber content is high. I cut the crust into wedges, brush with olive oil, onion and oregano and bake to brown. Needless to say, our taste palettes were very satisfied. To finalize satisfying the palette, I took a short bike ride, soaking in the sun, blue sky and beauty of nature. Being active and being outdoors will surely help one to Feel Great and Look Great, From the Inside Out! I hope this combo might be worth a try! Julie

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Delicious and Nutritious Cookies and Quickbreads

Who doesn't like a yummy treat, yet in this day and age, often these delightful desserts push calories, fat and sugar over the top resulting in weight issues, elevated blood sugars and stomach problems. There is a way to create treats that fit the bill on both fronts - great flavor and texture, along with being low in sugar, fat and higher in fiber. For those who prefer gluten free options, it is an easy process to substitute the flours. Most quickbreads and cookies call for about 1/2-2 cups flour. Substitute 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup Benefiber or other soluble fiber. Do not use psyllium - it creates a tough batter. If using gluten free flour, I prefer to use mixed gluten free baking flour rather than one source. Add 1 tsp xantham gum to the flour mix to keep the bread from becoming crumbly. Use 2-4 tbl sugar per recipe and add 1 tsp vanilla to increase sweetening. If the cookie or bread goes well with cinnamon, add 1 tsp to the batter. This also increases the sweetness. For oil and fat, use 1/2 applesauce for the fat/oil. Try this favorite recipe, Banana Bread, yield 12 slices, 125 calories, 30 grams carb, 4 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar 50-60 min 1 1/4 cups gluten free flour 1/2 cup Benefiber 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp xanthan gum 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp baking soda 1 tsp cinnamon 2 tbl oil 3 tbl applesauce 2 tbl sugar 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla 1 cup mashed bananas 1/4 cup chopped walnuts preheat oven 350 stir dry ingredients together beat oil, applesauce and sugar add eggs and vanilla, beating well add flour mixture to egg mixture alternating with bananas, ending with flour mix until combined, but do not overbeat pour into greased 9x5x2 loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean To make this a Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread, substitute 1 cup pumpkin for the bananas and 1/4 cup chocolate chps for the walnuts. Bon Appetit! Julie

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Videos For Your Viewing

I'm slowly moving into the social media realm - not usually the most comfortable place for me.  While I love public speaking, teaching classes and engaging with individuals and groups, the "technology piece" has never come easily.  Luckily, I have a great behind the scenes team of folks to present my messages!

I have two video clips for your learning:  Supermarket Smarts and Jazz Up Your Palate.

I love to cook and to especially take decadent, rich recipes and lighten them up in order to increase fiber, decrease sugar, omit unhealthy fats and replace them with smaller amounts of healthy fats.

The supermarket can also be a daunting place for many and in this video, you will gain some helpful hints on how to approach the market.  For those who live closer, I am happy to take you to the local market for a tour.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lemon Meringue Pie: All Is Well

On Wednesday, it was my Mom's birthday and she is not a real cake person, but loves pies, especially lemon meringue.  I usually bake a homemade dessert for my family members on their birthday and have been doing this since I started baking and cooking in the 6th grade.  This year was a mixed bag with regard to celebration because my Mom has been quite ill.  She is on a renal diet and dialysis, thus many foods and beverages are limited.  In fact, she was supposed to be home from the hospital, but has had one complication after another.  When our family arrived to the hospital on Wednesday, she was not feeling well and was quite hungry because she had not been allowed to eat in order for medical tests to be done.  As we opened cards for her, showed her the flowers and old photos from the family album, we also presented the pie.  She  was happy to have a piece of the pie and felt better - I'm sure part of that was raising her low blood sugar from having no food all day. 

It is now Saturday and my Dad has been bringing her a slice every day.  When I arrived this afternoon to see her, Dad brought her in another slice and immediately her eyes lit up.  She savored every bite, seemed more content and I knew that while my Mom is quite ill with aging diseases, at least in this moment, all is well!

Food has so many meanings in our lives and one of those meanings is an expression of love.  Every culture has their expression of love being associated with food and this is wonderful as long as food is offered and not forced.  Never feel offended if someone does not accept a food offer - this is truly an individual choice.  Keep it simple and be grateful!

Next blog, I will share some tips for adjusting recipes to keep them delicious and nutritious at the same time.

With joy and gratitude,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"You Look Great"

Have you ever heard that from someone before and yet felt bad instead of glad?  I'm sure many can relate.  As I've said in my personal story and will also do in the blog, you will learn about me - my trials and my triumphs, as well as hot topics in nutrition, alternative therapies and psychology.

For years, I have counseled women with disordered eating issues, listening to how invalidated they feel when someone comments how good they look.  What goes through their minds are statements like, "I must be fat" or even worse, "She has no idea how depressed or anxious or fearful I really feel."  And so the unhealthy behavior continues, with underlying hopes that people will really see the pain, the fear, the inability to step into being a confident and responsible adult.

When I work with these folks, I help them to find their voice, to use their voice and to know that this will help in gaining self-confidence and attracting the people, jobs, things that are wanted in life.

While I do not have this specific issue with regard to body image, I have really struggled with this theme during my illness.  I feel that the cancer that I have has great meaning in my life.  It is a slow growing cancer, is not necessarily debilitating, but can be and it does not cause deformity.  While I have felt poorly, I have remained functional and usually on work days, wear make-up to create a bright and cheerful image.  My attitude is also generally upbeat and energetic, and even on days when I feel lousy, I normally don't let it show.  So often during this past year, people have commented how wonderful I look and while I thank them, down inside, I feel angry, invalidated, thinking, "Do you know how I feel?" 

This week, I had an "ahha".  I realized that I have not been in my integrity, not being upfront about how I really feel, thus how could anyone even know how I feel.  Talking to someone who is ill is often uncomfortable and as humans, we want  to avoid pain for ourselves and others.  The best way to avoid the discomfort is to tell someone how wonderful they look, trying to be supportive.  By learning to be honest about our true feelings - "I'm not feeling well these days" - we have an opportunity to allow others into our space, to be closer to us and to be able to help in some way.

The moral of the story is that it may be best to avoid commenting on how people look, but to say how good it is to see them and to ask genuinely how they are, intently listening to their response.  We spend far too much time looking at the outside without listening to what's going on inside.

Be well,

Saturday, August 10, 2013

GMO and Your Digestion

We have an underground war ongoing in this country about the use of genetically modified foods.  While years ago, scientists were researching ways to keep seeds and plants healthy through challenging environmental circumstances - rain, drought, heat, cold - it seems that these modern, technological advances have actually created more problems.  The genetic modification of seeds that become fruits and vegetables for our consumption leaves our digestive systems with an inability to interpret what the food really is and hence, how to digest and absorb the nutrition from it.

Part of the problem lies in how do we restructure the economics in this country to support local farming and to research ways to get back to the basics with regard to production and purchase, while feeding the masses. This brings to mind a teaching opportunity that I was engaged in a few years back.  A local charter school asked me to come and speak to the classes about organic foods, genetic modification, local farming etc, because the students were to be going on a week to live on a farm and learn about these very topics.  In my research to prepare for the classes, I had to review some basic facts:  organic fruits and veggies must withstand the elements, thus they are often higher in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants because these "phytonutrients" (plant chemicals) are in larger quantity in order to survive.  Wow - does this make sense!

The tip of the day is to choose non-GMO foods and organic foods (especially the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables) as much as possible.  Use farmers markets, local farms, BJ's and Costco, as well as Whole Foods and other markets that offer these.

Yours in health,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Are You Complicated?

Aren't we all?   Yes and no from my perspective.  I tend to attract clients who have been everywhere, have had every test, and by the time they arrive at my doorstep, they are frustrated, angry, often invalidated and told that there is nothing known that is wrong, so try some valium!

My first goal and often most therapeutic is to listen to their story, their hurts, their traumas and to validate his or her pain.  Next is get a chronology of the medical, lifestyle, emotional history and to begin to create a picture, a working canvas so to speak.

Why are we viewed as complicated.  I think in part because our health system tends to put labels on illness and conditions and by doing so, health insurance will pay for part of the treatment.  Only problem here is that we are not merely a body, but a body with a mind and spirit, and it is by weaving together a composite of all aspects of the person that we begin to really understand what is really going on.

Luckily, integrative medicine is emerging, more than just poking its head above water, but is really taking on momentum.  Modalities such as acupuncture, now have peer-reviewed research that lends credibility in the eyes of more traditional medical modalities.

Back to my original question - are we complicated?  When looking at the body-mind-spirit approach, not so.  Take low back pain for instance.  There can be structural issues that cause low back pain, but also stress from fear of finances, feeling insecure, can also impact low back pain.  Another example are digestive issues.  Challenges with food intolerances and allergies, and a lack of adequate digestive enzymes can certainly play a role in this major cause of US health complaints, but also being unable to take in what one needs on an emotional level and to eliminate toxic emotional waste, can impact one along the digestive path.

While these concepts may seem far-fetched, there is much written about weaving the body, mind and spirit together and it is a habit in my practice to look at these various levels of health.

I look forward to supporting your process along the way!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

To Carb Or Not To Carb

It seems that there have been an influx of stomach-related issues with clients being referred recently.  What is going on?  Many folks have long histories of dieting, on sugar-off sugar, many medications, lots of stress. We'll talk about GMO's next time!  Can you relate?

Our digestive system is very delicate and needs a balance of nutrients, as well as an atmosphere of calm in order to properly digest, absorb and eliminate.  What does carb (short for carbohydrate) have to do with this?  The US diet is very high in carbohydrate (starches, grains, snack foods, fruits and drinks-both alcohol containing and not), and much of this carb is refined, meaning it either is in the form of sugar or turns to sugar very quickly.  This sugar in turn, upsets the insulin response or becomes food for the "ugly buglies", as I call them.

When insulin levels become elevated, our bodies hold onto body fat in the mid-region for dear life, fearing the crash and subsequent starvation.  We know that we are going to eat, but our bodies are on auto-pilot.

Carbs are also fuel for yeasts and bacteria and this is quickly becoming a more prominent problem.  There are healthy carbs and less healthy ones and keeping the portions limited will help to keep balance and less chance for these "bad bugs" to overgrow.

If you are experiencing gas and bloating, constipation/diarrhea, stomach pain or discomfort, you may want to consider consulting a health professional about these overgrowth conditions.

Here's to a happy and healthy digestive system!