Why I don’t wear sunscreen.

I’ve had stage 3C melanoma. And I don’t wear sunscreen.

Many of my melahomies are screaming at me through the computer as they read this. I can hear the outcry of “WTF are you THINKING!!” Every dermatologist or oncologist who reads this is rolling their eyes and saying “You DO know that the best way of protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays and melanoma is sun safety. I recommend sunscreen with SPF 30.”

I hear you. I hear all of you. And I understand that you have serious concerns. And I know that you all truly believe that what you say is 100% true.

But I completely disagree with your SPF theories. Someone with melanoma avoiding the sun is like a heart attack patient avoiding exercise because it may give them another heart attack. Seriously…think about that. After my dad had a heart attack and bypass surgery, they had him on a resistance bike 3 times a week at full speed. Part of his rehab was to get that heart pumping hard again.

But melanoma patients are supposed to COMPLETELY avoid the sun – something that’s been around for BILLIONS of years and before mankind even existed – because it’s “bad” for us?! How does the thing that gives life to plants and other living things have “harmful UV rays?” Why is sunlight demonized in a way that makes us fear the sun which is NEEDED for life to exist on Earth? How does this even make sense?

So instead of following this completely nonsensical line of thought, I’ll explain to you my own “sun safety” theories.

My previous post on Vitamin D explained a very important part of my sun safety protocol. I try and get a little bit of sunlight every day. According to many sources, including this article from US News, experts suggest 10-30 minutes of sunlight on your arms and legs to get the proper amount of Vitamin D. You could also supplement this with certain foods  like fatty fish (such as salmon) and eggs.

courtesy of http://www.independentnurse.co.uk/clinical-article/is-vitamin-d-important-for-melanoma-patients/154321/

This makes sense – it’s easier for our bodies to process Vitamin D from natural sources rather than a pill formula.

A professor, a pharmacist at my graduate anesthesia program, once said that Americans have the most expensive urine in the world. We take more supplements than any other nation, and $21 BILLION is spent on supplements yearly. Yet, most Americans don’t get enough nutrients from diet alone, and only 9.7% of Americans get the recommended amount of Vitamin D. We try and use supplements to make up for our shortcomings – but rather than making us healthy, this only thins our wallets.

Vitamins when taken in pill form absorb poorly, virtually failing to do what we expect them to do, and only “supplement” as long as you continue to take them. This is similar to a trendy, “shed the weight” diet pill – it kind of works, but it’s not healthy for you long-term and as soon as you stop taking it you’re back to square one. Unless you’re trying to fill the gap for a short period of time (perhaps the winter months) what’s the point of taking a supplement for vitamin D when you can get the same thing from the sun, free of charge? Getting your Vitamin D from a supplement for your entire life in pill form just isn’t logical.

The second part of my “sun safety” thought process is that we Americans spend ENTIRELY too much time indoors. Seriously. According to the EPA, Americans spend somewhere around 93% of their time indoors.

So let me get this straight… Melanoma rates have doubled since 1973 in the US. Yet, with our office cubicle 9 to 5 lifestyles, we now spend more time than ever inside…meaning out of the sun. Meaning…away from the thing that every doctor wants to blame as the cause of melanoma.

Your sunscreen may be blocking your Vitamin D absorption! Courtesy of http://www.simplysunscreen.com/goth-sunblock-clothing.html

To top this all off, many of the ingredients in sunscreen have been proven to be dangerous! No joke! The Environmental Working Group (as quoted here from CNN) has a list of potentially dangerous ingredients used in sunscreen that can potentially CAUSE CANCER! I really wish I was joking here, everyone, but I am not. Read the article for yourself and then go and look at the ingredients in your “safe” sunscreen. You slather this stuff on your skin and then use the sun to bake all those wonderful cancer-causing ingredients right on in.

So WTF are we supposed to do?!?!?!

There are many natural oils which have a small amount of SPF – you can find a great article here on all the SPF abilities of natural oils and make your OWN natural sunscreen! Or you can visit one of my favorites – Dr. Axe – and see how to make your own sunscreen here.

Find a great recipe for sunscreen here: https://draxe.com/homemade-sunscreen/

But what if you’re not prone to becoming a DIY apothecary? What can you do?

Condition your skin.

No, not with conditioner, silly. Get enough sun every day, in slightly larger doses, until your skin is used to the sun. It’s like working out – you don’t just jump right in to a marathon without prepping. You gradually train and prepare for it. Just like your heart, you have to train and condition your skin for optimal health.

If I feel like my skin is turning slightly pink, I immediately find shade. I’m not one to “lounge” by the pool because there’s so many things I want to explore and do. But If I really need that zone-out beach-style “someone bring me a Mai Tai” time in the sun, I only do so until my body has had enough. It’s simple – listen to what your body is saying and don’t burn.

Now one thing I have to say. If you ARE going to be outside for an extended period of time (because, you know, life is fun outside) then please DO prepare. Get enough sun so that your skin is getting more exposure than normal, but DO NOT burn. Just don’t do it. Find shade or cover up when your skin has had enough.

Getting multiple sunburns over time DOES damage your skin and cause skin cancer. So if you’re going into a situation where you know there’s a chance you’ll burn, then please DO seek shade and wear sunscreen. But make sure it doesn’t have any of the nasty cancer-causing ingredients!

Do YOU wear sunscreen? Tell me why in the comments below!

All The Newest Buzz

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this very important announcement.

…Drum roll please…

WE HAVE BEES!!

Yup, that’s right. We just picked up our new hive from the bee supply place. (If you’re interested in where we get our bees and supplies, you can follow this link here.) They usually have 2 deliveries in the spring and we signed up for the first possible delivery!

When we arrived to pick up the bees, it was like “Move-In Day” at college. There was a line of cars to pull into the small parking lot and no open spaces, two lines to check out and people getting irritated with the wait.

Bees all packed and ready for transport!

But, as with all things in life, everything that’s worth having is worth waiting for. And bees are always worth the wait!

We plopped the bee carrier in the back with a few other supplies we purchased. Once we got in and shut the doors, I realized that we were in the car with a few hundred bees.

A FEW HUNDRED BEES!! Buzzing away right behind us!! Ahhhh!!

I had to take a few deep breaths and remember that they’re locked into the bee carrier. But still, it was a few seconds of panic. I’m usually in a hood with the ability to run away (if necessary). There’s no running away in the car!

We all made it home safe and sound. And while we were opening the container, OF COURSE it began to sleet/snow.

So we tried to hustle the ladies into the hive before they got wet. Unfortunately, we lost a fair number that either hit the wet deck or couldn’t find the hive before it got cold that night. I hate to see all the dead girls on the deck – I feel responsible for the ones who didn’t make it.

But I know that nature has to take its course. And the hive will bounce back (much) bigger and better than ever. We just have to give it time and the best fighting chance to survive.

Zee Bear Zapper fence!! And yes, we unfortunately still have some of the white stuff 🙁

And to help give them a leg up against the bears this year, we put up an electric fence. The fence is literally called the “Quick Bear Fence” from Premier 1 Supplies. We also purchased the solar energizer so no crazy car batteries that may run our of juice at the worst time.

We had a wooden fence up last year, and I walked out of the house to see a bear chowing down on the pushed-over hive in November. I scared the bear away using the car (which is a story unto itself), but the damage was done and the hive flew the coop. Fingers crossed that the electric fence keeps those bears’ sticky paws out of the honey this year!

Week 2 on the Elimination Diet

Has it really already been 14 days?!  Wow I can’t believe it! The past 2 weeks have only been sliiiiightly torturous.

OK, OK, really, it hasn’t been bad at all! I promise!! It’s actually gotten much easier as time has gone by. The cravings have lessened and it seems easier to “throw” a meal together. I’m not as anxious about how the meal will turn out – having a select few foods makes it easier to master what works best at mealtime. My husband and I haven’t gone to bed hungry once in the past 2 weeks.

And to top it off, he’s lost another 2 pounds and is coughing much less!! He’s down to ONE Prilosec every other day and only coughing about once a day! A HUGE improvement for his coughing. At first, he was skeptical and thought it was a fluke. But 2 weeks later and consistently coughing less has convinced him this is a step towards FINALLY finding the dietary culprit.

I’m not sure how or why, but I think simplifying mealtime to focus on nutrition rather than purely about taste makes it easier to me. There’s much less of a work up throughout the day to create something delicious at dinnertime. My husband no longer asks about dinner while eating his breakfast (his usual MO) and I rarely even think about dinner until close to 6pm. Being this restrictive is really just simplifying.

The week 2 meal planner and shopping list

And not just simplifying the mealtime routine. It simplifies my grocery shopping, too. I no longer wander the aisles, wondering if I have this or that in the cupboard to make something that I haven’t done in a few weeks. Since I use the same things every day, I know what I need and how much. Decision making has become MUCH easier for shopping and meal planning.

It also simplifies the daily routine. Breakfast is no longer a struggle of “what do I feel like today?” I have 3 choices – chia seed pudding, coconut rice porridge, or sweet potato hash with turkey sausage. Having only 3 things really makes mornings so much easier!!

And to make YOUR lives easier, here are 3 recipes to help you get through your own elimination diet.

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Chia Seed Pudding

I found this recipe online at PopSugar Fitness a while ago, and dug it back up for this diet. It’s great for a fast on-the-go breakfast. You can find the recipe here.

 

Breakfast Maple Sage Turkey Sausage

I created this one because every kind of breakfast meat was FILLED with preservatives and icky stuff. I’ll definitely use this recipe FAR beyond the elimination diet. The “sausage” is easy to make, tasty, and once cooked keeps well in the fridge. I usually make a batch at the beginning of the week – they usually get eaten within a few days!

1 lb ground turkey

10 fresh sage leaves – chopped

2 T maple syrup

1 T “Jane’s crazy mixed up” seasonings (or your own mix of salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, and celery salt)

1 T poultry seasoning

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Mixture will be slightly sticky (due to the maple syrup). Form small amounts into ‘links’ by rubbing turkey between hands. Cook links in batches in non-stick pan, turning to brown on all sides. Refrigerates well for about 5 days. Incredibly tasty when served with…

Maple Sage Turkey ‘Sausage’
Yummmmmmy!

 

Sweet Potato Hash

A super easy recipe that takes less than 10 minutes to cook in the morning. I chop all the ingredients at the beginning of the week and refrigerate in separate containers. I also pre-cook the mushrooms (2 packages of sliced white mushrooms) in olive oil at the beginning of the week so I can use them for breakfast or dinner whenever I need them. Super tasty and filling!

1 T coconut oil

1 C shredded sweet potato

2 T chopped onions

¼ C cooked mushrooms

Melt the coconut oil in a pan on medium setting and add onions. Stir until covered in oil and beginning to brown. Add sweet potato and mix in with onions. Allow sweet potato to brown slightly, stirring occasionally. Add in mushrooms, stir all hash ingredients together and allow sweet potatoes to brown. Serve once sweet potatoes are cooked through, about 7-10 minutes in total.

 

Hope you enjoy the recipes! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

The Elimination Diet

I HATE the word “diet”. Nothing is worse than that word. Saying diet is voicing a symbol of restriction – just the sound of it makes me cringe with yearning for a plateful of meatloaf and mashed potatoes. It makes me think of heroin-chick models of the 90s who need to eat a burger STAT. Nothing good can come of a diet….right?!

And yet, I’m doing it. I’m going on a DIET.

OK ok so before I whip myself with a wet noodle, I’ll explain myself.

My husband has been battling acid reflux for the past many years. His only symptom is a chronic cough. His voice sounds like he’d been out partying the night before, but never once has he have the feeling of heartburn. His symptoms never went away…the catch in his throat, the hoarseness, the coughing…was it a chronic cold? Pneumonia? Lung cancer? What could it possibly be??

Doctor after doctor, medication after medication and finally a GI doc did a scope and we had a diagnosis. He found that his esophagus was “like a Florida sunset” – red, inflamed, and angry due to constant acid reflux. This reflux was going allllllll the way up his esophagus to his vocal cords and causing his chronic cough.

Silent symptoms of Acid Reflux. Courtesy of: http://www.doctoroz.com/article/silent-reflux-epidemic

So we tried the classic medication for reflux. A proton pump inhibitor (aka PPI – something similar to Prilosec) twice a day. Everyday. For the rest of his life.

And it worked!! But we didn’t like this as a long term solution. The doctor suggested he take calcium supplements as a PPI can inhibit your absorption of calcium. We figured this CAN’T be good in the long run. So we tried to ween him after a few months.

But the cough came back.

So we tried to take out the highly acidic foods from his diet.

And the cough came back.

And then we tried a glycemic index diet that was described in a book titled Heartburn: Fast Tract Digestion by Norman Robillard.

And the cough came back.

Back to the point where my husband is on the pills again twice a day. It progressed to the point where it is embarrassing to be with him coughing all the time. People look at him as though he’s contagious in public places.

So I looked into the most drastic thing we could do diet-wise where we could potentially find the culprit foods. An elimination diet fits the bill.

Soooooo what the heck IS an elimination diet??  It’s just that – you eliminate ANY potential allergen or irritation causing food for a few weeks and slowly work in other foods to see what’s causing the symptoms.  Foods such as: gluten, soy, corn, dairy, eggs, beef, alcohol, caffeine, citrus, legumes/beans/peanuts, nightshade vegetables, and anything processed. It sounds pretty simple in concept, but in reality?

courtesy of: https://wholelifenutrition.net/articles/elimination-diet/free-elimination-diet-resources

What the heck do you eat???

In a lot of ways, this is probably the simplest diet you could ask for. Chicken, rice, and veggies are going to be staples for the next few weeks. But eating the same thing every day in this household is NOT an option.

So I’m going to have to get creative with recipes and finding ways to keep the husband’s belly happy throughout this journey – there has already been one breakdown (OK I admit it was me having a fit when I realized that I couldn’t have eggs for breakfast and there are VERY limited options in the cereal aisle!)  I’m sure there will be plenty more to come.

I know this won’t be easy. But I’m hoping it’ll be worth it in the end. If this is what it takes to find out the culprit of my husband’s reflux, then I’m there 100%. I want him to be happy and healthy, and I’ll do anything I can to get him there.

Keep following for recipes and grocery lists – coming soon!

My Top 2 Realistic Holistic Travel Tips

I travel a lot. I mean A LOTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.

I’m on the road every week for work. Yes, EVERY WEEK!! I spend more time away from home than actually enjoying the presence of my husband and fuzzies.

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Hitting the road last fall with a nice view

When I took this traveling position, I knew that I’d have to really make an effort to keep a healthy lifestyle and keep the stress down. It’s hard enough making the right choices when you’re at home surrounded by healthy food and a healthy routine. But add in the hustle and bustle stresses of airport life, “grab and go” travel-type foods and living in hotel rooms and being healthy is hard. Like, getting out of bed at 4 AM on a weekend hard.

So I always try to make living a healthy life foolproof when traveling. I don’t always succeed, but I always continue to try. I’ve discovered these 2 things that are ABSOLUTELY VITAL to helping me stay on track while hitting the road.

1 – Traveling well is all about preparing.

There are plenty of things that you can do to prepare for your travels – especially in the food realm. If I’m traveling around mealtime, this is the most important thing I can do to keep myself on track. Nothing is worse than hitting the road when I’m starving and I’m driving past every possible bad option. The temptation is simply too much for me to take. The “Hangery Lauren” sets in and next thing you know I’m gobbling down the first thing I can shove into my face. So if you’re traveling around mealtime, take the time to think it through BEFORE you travel.

If I’m hitting the road early in the morning, I set out travel mugs and program my coffee pot to brew before I leave.  I also prepare something I can eat in the car so I’m not tempted to stop at the fast food breakfast place. A breakfast muffin frittata or chunky granola or fruit travel very well.

If I have a few extra minutes, I make one of my favorite breakfasts: an egg over baby kale with cream cheese and/or avocado on toast. It takes me literally 5 minutes to make and it’s not rocket science. I’ve fallen in love Ezekiel bread – TONS of fiber and sprouted grains to keep me feeling full. Avocado as a healthy fat or cream cheese for a more decadent flavor with baby kale for a great morning veggie. And a hard fried egg as my protein. Viola! Complete meal and I’ve been known to eat this as I’m packing my bag/doing my hair/driving in the morning!

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Yummmmmm

If you’re traveling daytime, pack a small bag of nuts and dried fruit. Believe it or not, you can bring FOOD through airport security, but not liquids. So pack a sandwich. Or a fruit salad. Maybe you’re in the mood for a burger. One time, I saw a girl chowing down on slices of ham that were tucked away in Tupperware on a plane. Pack it in! Just skip bringing on spaghetti slathered in Mom’s famous pasta sauce and you’ll be good to go!

2 – Take the time to destress.

We all get caught up in the stress of traveling. Traffic, airport security, and time crunches make it easy to go from 0 to 100 when that a$$hole cuts you off and you’re running late. If you’ve prepared (as in tip #1) then hopefully you’ll incorporate time into your preparedness.

I wake up an extra 10 minutes early so I can fit in a few yoga sun salutations and still have extra time to get where I’m going. Many of the stresses of travel can be lessened with giving myself extra time and BREATHING. Instead of rushing through security at the airport, I get there a half hour early. Big meeting in the morning? I prepare and pack my presentation the day before. The fewer pieces I have to put together when I travel, the less I have to be stressed about.

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Rush rush rush rush rush rush

You might say “spending an extra 30 mins at the airport is a complete waste of my time”. Really? You have NOTHING else to do, no one else to call while you’re waiting? Bring your planner, then, and get stuff done!! Plan your kid’s birthday party coming up next month. Look into vacation spots for your anniversary next year. Dream about the life you’re building for yourself and your family.

To me, keeping my stress down allows me to live a healthier life that I can look forward to sharing with my family. Even though I’m constantly on the road, I’m living a life that I love. Every minute of it, even the hours that I log while in transit. I look forward to vacations like everyone else – but I don’t HAVE to run away from reality to destress. My vacations are time to share experiences and explore rather than pretend I don’t have to go back to work on Monday.

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Take the time to BREATHE when you travel and enjoy the moment

No matter how you travel, you CAN do so in a healthy, stress-free way if you follow these 2 tips!