Cancer and Body Shape

21 Sep

I came across this article today to discuss what body shape has to to do with cancer risk. Please click on Body Shape and Cancer Risk for further information on the article. I’d like to elaborate on the subject because the staggering statistic is that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their life time.

What are the risk factors?

Based on this article and other information I’ve read… I’ve developed the following list. Here’s my top five:

  1. Waist to Hip Ratio– This relates to where you carry your body fat. If you are apple shaped, most of your body fat is held around your middle. This indicates a higher risk of all forms of disease, not just breast cancer.
  2. Smoking– Need I say more?
  3. Level of Activity– This article indicates that if you are overweight before you reach menopause, this elevates your risk of a specific type of cancer. Being active helps lower the risk of all forms of disease.
  4. Nutrition– Although not mentioned in this article, let’s face it. Whatever you put in to your body will affect it’s overall health.
  5. Stress– Not specifically mentioned in this article, this is a big one. Anyone I’ve met and worked with cited stress as a big factor in their health. Learning to manage and work out the stress in your life will help manage the risk of ALL disease.

When I look at this list, you could really use it as a top five for any form of disease.  Let’s be clear about something that I don’t mention on this list. Genetics play a big role here as well. My list comprises of factors you can control. You cannot control your genetics. These factors, if managed well, can lower your risk factors and help manage the disease better. I’ve worked with people who by definition have done everything right. If it’s in your blood then odds are you COULD end up with the disease.

 You can at least control the factors that elevate your risk.

        I’m sure you’ve heard all the statistics before. I won’t repeat them here. My goal is not to preach about what you “should” be doing. You know what you have to do. My purpose is to encourage you. Manage the things you can control. Take steps to improve your risk factor.

Health and Wellness Belong to You.

The Weight of Your Success

19 Sep

What does her weight have to do with it?

I came across this interesting article on Yahoo. It inspired this topic for today. If you take the opportunity to read it, like me you might be furrowing your brow. You might be baffled as to how these stories continue to flow in the mainstream media. Yes, women can be successful.

            First of all, I watched a news program that stated that the “plus size” fashion industry is booming. Let’s clarify what plus size means. Anything over size 10 appears to be “plus size” and yet this is average. I hate the phrase “plus size” to label what is actually normal. The lady featured in the article is smart and just happens to be a curvy woman. Yet, an investor told her that no one would ever buy her cosmetics because of her size. Obviously this investor didn’t do his homework. The industry is now shifting. Yes! Curvy women exist! Why is this such big news? The even bigger question is why is taking so long for the industry to catch up?

I’ve come to a realistic conclusion. You can be a size 0 or a size 16. Women are judged by their looks no matter what size. What’s worse is we are still being stuck in this “one size fits all” box. If the women in this story looked for investment from a female, would she have gotten it? If the woman in this story was a size four, would the male investor been more interested? The point of the story is that she kept trying. She didn’t let one negative attitude deter her. I’d rather that be the moral of the story.

            The weight of your success is not determined by your body shape.

Oprah. Melissa McCarthy. Ashley Graham. Just a few familiar names there. I could go on… It’s an example I know you understand. If weight were an issue, how come they have been so successful?  It’s a shame some people still don’t get this point. We look in the mirror and decide we aren’t worthy of success because we quite literally don’t “fit” the definition of success. I guess you need to ask yourself, “What is MY definition of success?”. The only way you’ll ever change the attitude of those around you is by changing your own. Whoever sat down and decided that a smart woman needs to fit in to a particular size? Or that beauty comes in one size?

              The only person who decides her success is YOU.

As different as we may look, so is the definition of what success looks like. It comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. It really doesn’t matter what you hope to achieve in life, weight has nothing to do it. Self esteem and self love matters a hell of a lot more. The sooner we realize the power within, any dream we have can come true no matter who tells us, “it’s not possible.”

Take a look at the successful women you know. Do they look the same? Do they act the same? Do they fit in to the so-called box that is required for success? Probably not. What do you admire most about these women?

My definition of success is this…

“The only path to follow is the one you create.” 




Dementia and Alzheimers: Why Staying Connected Matters

13 Sep

I remember it vividly. It was Christmas Day…

A day for celebrating and sharing time with family. We arrived at the Nursing Home. I was anxious to see her. In a physical sense, she was that same beautiful person I remember. It broke my heart to show pictures of people she’s supposed to know. “Who are they?” She’d ask me.

Granny in her Mid 60’s

We used to share life stories in her small apartment in Downtown Toronto. Unfortunately things started to change. While staying down there, she had forgotten to turn the stove off.  Let’s face it, I’m sure we’ve all done that. This was different. There were other little things that were going on and that’s usually how it starts.

At the tender age of 75, she taught herself how to play the violin. “I can’t talk now! I’m practicing.” She’d often say when we called. Granny could play the Piano like a pro. Once again, practiced ferociously for hours everyday. My mom regails stories to me of a woman who never sat down. Granny rode her bike everywhere. She helped teach my Uncles to play Piano as well. Raising seven kids, it’s a wonder she had the time.

When I’d stop by to visit and asked her to play for me. By this time it was her mid 80’s.  She wouldn’t play anymore. In fact, she’d look for reasons why she shouldn’t. “I may miss a note. I haven’t practiced in a while.” I didn’t really mind. “That’s okay Granny. I love hearing you play.” Sometimes I would coax her in to playing. I knew if I had to coax her, something was wrong.

The decision was made to sell her car, piano and her entire apartment. Everything she once knew was gone. Slowly her mind became the same. Everything that made her independent was now slowly being removed. I wish deep down inside that it hadn’t happened. I wanted her to keep playing. I wanted her to keep trying. Slowly but surely, the woman I’d come to know was slipping away.

There’s a hard fact to accept with someone suffering from Dementia or Alzheimers. All you have is the moment. Your loved one may recognize you briefly but in that same moment wonder who you are. A lifetime is literally wiped away. “And who are you?” She’d ask me. “I’m your granddaughter.” I’d reply with a smile. I knew as soon as we parted, she’d forget who I was or even that we were there.

The one image that sticks out in my mind on that day was a woman. She was sitting in a wheelchair. I sat and watched her as she cursed at someone who wasn’t there. Slamming and banging her hands on the tray. I looked around me and saw people who once had a childhood and memories. These people were young and I could only imagine the lives they lead.

From then on I promised myself, if there was something I could do to help someone in that situation I would. If I could use my power to help somone maintain their quality of life in a healthy way, I would. I work with many seniors who suffer these same ailments. I do my best to help them stay active mentally and physcially.

Any research I’ve done on Alzheimers and Dementia states a few key facts. The mind and body need to move. Socialization is such an integral part of keeping the mind active. Feeling a connection to others is so important. I came across this article that further elaborates.

Granny at 86

      Being a part of a group and having that sense of purpose and belonging is imperative. When that is taken away, I noticed a sharp decline in my Granny. Physical exercise is at the top of my list of importance. The mind and body are connected at all times. Your brain is a muscle that needs to be used. It keeps the connections strong and can learn an infinite number of patterns.

The sad part is that when people are diagnosed with these issues, we are inclined to believe there’s nothing we can do. The worst thing you can do is nothing. The sooner you can get someone active after being diagnosed, the better. Social connection and physical exercise adds to a persons’ sense of self worth and self esteem.

Sadly my Granny passed away at the age of 86. A few days after my 30th Birthday. I’ll pass on the advice she gave to me,

Live for the day, because it’s all you have.”

If I can help someone do that, I will.

Thank you Granny.

Top Reasons People Don’t Want to Exercise

11 Sep
Published By:
Scugog Standard
Sept 7/17

Over the course of my career I’ve heard a lot of, “I can’t do that.” I believe people deserve to be happy and healthy. You can be your own worst enemy sometimes. Maybe there’s not enough money or time to be healthy. Is that a reason you can afford to buy in to? The purpose of this article is to encourage people to take control of their health. The thought of exercise doesn’t excite everyone and that’s okay!

No one ever said you had to join a gym to be active or spend tons of money to participate in sport. No one ever said you need to be well. A lot of people who have significant health issues want to particpate in activity. The point is you have an opportunity to be healthy and active on your own terms. Isn’t that what we all want?

My purpose is to encourage you to find what fits in to your life. If you like being in the gym then great! If not, that’s cool! There are opportunities for you to carve out and create that healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t even need to cost you a dime. Movement is free. Wellness is yours. Go out out there and get it!

Do it because YOU love it and makes you happy.

Hang Up your Hang Ups

10 Sep
You can tell I felt a little awkward…

 When I look back at pictures of myself, my mouth was never open. I felt ugly and ashamed. I was always afraid someone would look at me and say, “What’s up with her teeth?”

I’m a woman and have suffered my share of hang ups. Especially in the fitness profession, I’ve heard every version of self-depreciation…

What can I do to fix this?” A woman asked as she grabbed her stomach.

What can I do to get rid of my bat wings?” As she points to the extra skin on her underarm and proceeds to jiggle it.

What can I do to get of my thunder thighs?” She slaps her hips.

I never look at myself in the mirror” A lady told me as she proceeded to turn her eyes towards the floor.

“I don’t have pictures of myself in the house. It’s too embarassing.”

I have too much cellulite, how do I get rid of it?

This list can go on and on. I think back to myself and my teeth. As crooked and yellow as they may be, they are part of me. I shouldn’t be embarassed about it. We all have our hang ups. If it helps I have jiggly bits around my stomach, arms and legs. Cellulite too! I’ve exercised since I was thirteen years old. I’ve never had kids. I have stretch marks too.

My questions is this… what the hell have we got to be ashamed of? Where is the rule that says we have to be perfect? It’s all a state of mind. If you keep looking for reasons why you’re so “ugly” you’re going to find them. If you look for reasons why you’re “amazing” you’ll find those too. We all have parts of our body that we want to fix. The point here is not physical appearance.

Our lives can be amazing no matter what shape we happen to be.

Happiness takes on all shapes and sizes.

The point it this: If you don’t love yourself then any physical change you make will ever be enough. You are enough. You are enough to love and respect. You are enough to be worthy of any life you want. My teeth haven’t changed a heck of a lot. No matter how imperfect you may feel…


A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way

08 Sep

The best childhood memories I have are of my mom.  She took me and my three brothers to play tennis every Friday night. We went on countless bike rides and walks by the lake. I remember her trying to show me how to rollerblade up that big hill when I was a kid. It was a challenge, but I’m glad I did it. It felt like the biggest hill in the whole world. I’m so lucky I had a mother who gave me the encouragement.

I believe we all have our hills to climb. What looks big to someone may seem so small to another. It’s given me a greater appreciation for everyone else who is facing an uphill battle. It’s not my job to criticize or judge. The most successful people I’ve worked with have a change of heart before their body makes any physical change. You can’t show someone how to climb that hill. You can encourage them. You can offer those words that stir someone’s self confidence and self esteem.

Believe it or not the words you speak can make a difference. I meet people every single day who are trying to make healthier choices. If I was in their shoes, wouldn’t I want someone telling me I was worth it? I believe everyone is worth the best quality of life no matter where life has taken them. The first step in that journey can hinge on the encouragement you offer.

Health really and truly starts from the inside out. You can make that difference in someone’s life by offering that dose of encouragement. Remember we all have our hills to climb. When someone is rooting for you, that hill doesn’t seem so big after all.