by Christel Swasey
Not long ago, I sat at the funeral of my friend who had died young, of breast cancer. I vowed to do everything in my power not to die young of cancer.
Well, most of the cancer prevention guidelines out there (with obvious exceptions like using sunscreen and not smoking) all relate to eating right and exercising. And I remembered my friend telling me that she was trying to eat loads of veggies, trying to avoid eating refined sugar or white flour, hoping to keep the cancer from growing. How she struggled, refusing (and then not refusing) to eat her favorite treats.
Then she died. Was her death avoidable? Researchers suggest that many cancers are truly avoidable. At her funeral, I vowed, in abject terror, to quit eating refined sugar and to quit feeding it to my family. I vowed to base our meals on veggies and whole grains.
But did it last? How quickly did I get distracted by the smells by the local bakery? Sigh.
So what am I doing today to prevent cancer from striking? I had leftover birthday cake for breakfast today, and I have not exercised in a week.
It is time to get back on the wagon, the healthy living, anti-disease wagon. (It matters less how many times you fall from your goals; it matters more how many times you get back up. I am now getting back up.) I hereby begin, by reviewing the guidelines from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) on exercise. Wow. Look what they say about exercise:
- People who are physically active for about 7 hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early (than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week)
- You don’t have to do high amounts of activity or vigorous-intensity activity to reduce your risk of premature death. You can put yourself at lower risk of dying early by doing at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
The Mayo Clinic offers these tips on eating:
1. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and foods from plants — such as whole grains and beans.
2. Choose fewer high-fat foods, particularly those from animal sources. High-fat diets tend to be higher in calories and may increase the risk of overweight or obesity — which increases cancer risk.
Hmmm. From zero exercise (me, now) to seven hours a week of exercise (me, soon); from eating virtually nothing healthy (me, today) to eating everything that’s healthy (me, soon). How do we get from here to there?
It’s got to be baby steps. I think I can, I think I can. We must tailor a plan that we can realistically do.
Think, think, think. Okay, here it is.
For today only, this is My plan. Voila. Be it ever so humble, it’s mine:
1. I will allow myself to take a few more bites of birthday cake, but then I’ll take a brisk, invigorating autumn walk, and enjoy a bowl of veggie
soup and a slice of whole wheat toast.
2. Toss the rest of the cake in the disposal and have a stalk of celery to celebrate my strength of purpose.
3. Start an exercise and healthy eating log book. Keep it in the kitchen. Write in it, truthfully, about what I ate right,
what I ate foolishly, what I fed the family for dinner, and what exercise I did, each day.
4. For dinner tonight, I will feed the family this great, easy recipe that I just found online:
Alfalfa Sprout Sandwich
good whole grain bread
heaps of alfalfa sprouts
some great bacon
5. And just for today, skip dessert,* offer the family some fresh fruits in dessert’s place, and spend the time and energy not doing extra dishes, and enjoying the family instead.
* P.S. So, why is a woman who ate birthday cake for breakfast skipping dessert tonight? Because she just read that every 11 pounds gained by an adult can increase the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer by up to 5 percent (American Institute for Cancer Research) (!!!) I may be foolish, but I am not unteachable.