Three Glorious Words + My New Favorite Gadget

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I have three words for you:  Almond.Butter.Fudge.  Oh, did I mention that they’re three glorious words?  When you try to eat healthy, you often times feel like you need to completely give up your sweet tooth.  But I am here to tell you that it’s just not true. Don’t believe it!  But instead of diving into that cookie dough batter with tons of flour, sugar, and butter, try these instead.  Just four (yes, four!) ingredients.  So easy to make (and if you don’t have cocao powder on hand, I highly recommend the trip to Whole Foods to get some. It gives you that chocolate pop of flavor without the sugar).

I have been following Deliciously Ella since she was mentioned in Self Magazine maybe a year ago?  Since then she has sprung up everywhere:  The cover of magazines, Instgram, Facebook, and now she has her very own cookbook!  I don’t remember how I found this recipe, but actually it’s Oprah recommended (i.e. once Oprah touches it, you are turned to gold).  And this is gold.  It’s “Gold Jerry, Gold!”

http://www.oprah.com/food/Almond-Butter-Fudge-Recipe.

Can I tell you all a secret, though?  I know that I’m supposed to be totally on the almond butter bandwagon, and I am, to a certain extent.  I love it in smoothies and sweet desserts and the like.  But my real love affair is with peanut butter.  So when the recipe called for 1/4 cup of almond butter + two tablespoons, the first time I made it I tried the batter and decided that it was almost too almondy-buttery for me, so I added in a little peanut butter.  Now if you could smell my kitchen right now, you’d know that I’m making another batch to freeze, only this time, I added 1/4 cup of almond butter and simply added the two tablespoons of peanut butter instead!

It really has the consistency of fudge, but without all of that extra nonsense.  Now this is still a dessert, so I wouldn’t recommend eating the whole batch at once (oops), but freeze it and cut it into bars and viola, a perfect sweet treat when you need one!

Now, on to the Fitbit info that I promised you. (http://www.fitbit.com/). You may be drooling over the Apple Watch (though I don’t quite get it: $500?!), but I had wanted a Fitbit for quite some time, so my birthday seemed like the perfect time to hint. Unfortunately it was on back order for weeks (other than the black color, which seemed a bit too masculine for me).  Fortunately it arrived in the plum color, fit well, and I love it!  I got the HR Charge (https://www.fitbit.com/charge) because I thought that making sure that my heart rate is OK while resting and exercising was important. So far, I love it.  It’s totally comfortable on my wrist (I wear it on my dominant hand) and I can sleep with it and not even remember that I’m wearing it.  It tracks my steps (making 10,000 steps a day is harder than it seems; so far the most that I’ve gotten is almost 8,000, and that even includes a day that I worked out!), calories burned, heart rate, how many flights of stairs I’ve climbed, etc.  It even vibrates a little bit if a call is coming into my cell phone!  So if I don’t have my phone on hand I can just look at the FitBit and the number of whoever is calling me will appear across my screen.

It also syncs to my iPhone so in the morning I can look up and see how I slept that night; how many hours, when I fell asleep, how many times a night I was awake or restless.  I haven’t been sleeping well lately so it’s been interesting to see how often I’m restless and at what times.  I think that for people with real sleep difficulties it could prove quite useful and give you more information to go on if you need to see your doctor before a sleep study.  What I like the most is that I’m more conscious of how many steps I take now, so if I see an opportunity to climb the stairs instead of take an elevator, I may be more inclined to do that instead (and you can sync up with friends to motivate each other!).

So there you have it kids:  Almond butter fudge and a Fit Bit.  Delicious indeed.  xo.

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It Takes a Village

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I realized today that maybe I am a perfectionist.  I looked in my drafts folder on word press and saw that the last time I wrote a blog post, I had like 38 revisions.  Maybe part of the reason why I haven’t written much lately is because it can be exhausting trying to get every single post (not to mention every single word) to feel perfect.

So I’m just going to put it all out there today.  Marathon Monday/Patriots Day here in Boston. It can bring up a lot of painful memories for a lot of people, but I also adore how my city comes together and how we remember, honor, cherish, and celebrate.  It was cold (in the 40’s) and raining cats and dogs here today, the poor runners!  I guess if I think I’m tired, I should just think about all those who ran the marathon today!

Which reminds me of just much we compare ourselves to others, doesn’t it?  I can’t be tired, because other people are (or vice versa).  I think that the temptation to compare myself to others is what makes life even more difficult  than just the day-to-day challenges.  When you have cancer and you compare yourself to somebody that doesn’t, it just seems like everything in their life is just easier.  That may be untrue (I know it is), but that’s just how it feels.  And being so in tune to how fragile life is, that too takes energy.  I thank my lucky stars every day for just that, though– the energy to be able to be thankful for the day.  And for a multitude of other things as well, including the blessings bestowed upon myself and my family and friends.

I’ve been so tired lately.  Perhaps it’s the gray and rainy days here in Boston.  Perhaps it’s the stress at work.  Perhaps it’s the constant pressure to take care of myself in a way that is yes becoming more easy and natural, but can still take a lot of thought and effort.    Maybe it’s all three.  My guess is that right now work is taking up a huge amount of space in my brain and my body, even though I think that I disconnect from it when I get home.  There’s more work than people these days and a lot of negativity to boot.  I work on boundaries and trying to be the light and having fun and laughing with my coworkers, when I can. That’s what I can do.

Sometimes I think that trying to figure out why I’m so tired is actually part of what makes me so tired.  It’s exhausting going around and around in my head!  Since being diagnosed with cancer the second time around, I put a lot more stock in any symptom that I feel, and my doctors are so cautious that I know if I told them half the things they’d have me in to their office in a flash for tests.  I’m so grateful for how on top of things that they are, but sometimes I miss the pre-cancer days of feeling like I could have frozen yogurt or forget to work out and feel more relaxed, I guess.

Speaking of cancer (as we so often do here), The Cancer Hope Network asked me the other day if I would be able to talk to a match who was also recently diagnosed with a stage IV cancer that has spread.  For the first time in a long time (if maybe ever), I asked if I could think about it (to which of course they replied yes, because they’re awesome like that).  My inclination was to just jump up and say, “Yes!  Of course I will!” because how can you say no to helping somebody that needs help?  But I also knew that it could bring up a lot of anxiety for me as well, and so I slept on it (which FYI, I do with most important decisions) and meditated on it as well.  I practiced what I preached and listened to my gut on this one.  My intuition said that I could handle it. That this person was in need.  That maybe I could offer support and maybe, it could make a difference in their life.  I didn’t get here overnight (here being not curled up in a fetal position crying every.single.day), and I didn’t get here alone, either.  It takes a village.  Not just to raise kids, but to take care of each other, too.

I’m so glad that I said yes (and the CHN also kindly asked me how I was going to take care of myself while trying to offer support to this man), but the truth is, it did bring up a few things for me.  And it reminds me that to take care of ourselves can feel like a very selfish act, when in fact, if we don’t take care of ourselves, a) nobody else will, b) we can’t take care of others, and c) we deserve TLC just like everybody else does.  It’s cliché and said often for a reason, because it’s true!

I’ve heard a lot of people say recently that they don’t have time to take care of themselves or they have too many people in their life who need them and “don’t want them to take the time for themselves.”  I find this hard to believe, unless it’s an extreme circumstance. And while there may be days where you really simply don’t have a minute to yourself (your kid gets sick, you get a flat tire, your boss moves up a deadline), I really do belive that if we ask, we can receive.  If you explain to the people in your life that you need to take a step back or find 30 minutes to work out or when your kids are older, set a timer (making it part of a routine so that they witness you taking care of yourself and understand that this is a good thing for everybody) and go off the grid for 10 minutes to meditate, well why wouldn’t they want to support you feeling your best?  Try it.  You may just be surprised at the response of your loved ones, and the results could be extraordinary.

Somebody recently asked me how I take care of myself, and although I don’t have kids (which makes me feel like I need to defend the fact that I too am busy– I know that’s just my hangup and projection), I do need to make a real effort to carve out that down time.  It’s not as easy for me as it used to be, for some reason.  But these days I always feel better when I work out, make a healthy recipe, spend some time writing, meditating, connecting with a friend, or even doing 3 minutes of yoga stretches (it’s not uncommon for people to walk by my office and see me listening to the video “Yoga with Adrian” on YouTube, even while I’m sitting at my desk with my headset on, waiting for a call to come in).

So more to come soon on spending a good amount of time offering ourselves up some #TLC (If I tweeted, that’s what I would tag), including the best almond butter “fudge” recipe ever (yes, desserts can be part of the self-care routine!), and my new birthday pretty plum fitbit.  I can’t wait to tell you all about those things.  But right now, I’m going to carve out that down time that we just talked about.

And I am only writing one draft of this blog post tonight.  xo.

 

The Day I Ate a Cheeseburger And Enjoyed It

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You know those weeks where you feel like there will just never be enough time to work, rest, and play? Well I’m in the middle of one of those right now.  The last week or two at work has been so busy and draining that as is true with most people, when I get home at night I just can’t seem to find enough time to rest and play (wish that I could say that I couldn’t find enough time to work!).

Probably also like many of you, I’m tough on myself.  I strive to get it all perfectly, the exact right amount of productivity at work and rest/sleep at home with ample enough play time.  Shouldn’t I walk the walk and talk the talk, especially if I’m going to be blogging about recipes or meditation?  Doesn’t my encouragement of others to take better care of themselves (whatever that looks like for you) mean that I’m the poster girl for fruits and veggies, not to mention yoga and quiet time?  I wish.

The truth is, if I look at things in a broad stroke picture of my day-to-day and all of the places where I can “miss the mark,” I wouldn’t want to look at the canvas at all.  But if I look for the rays where I am shifting things for the (my) greater good, the light is bountiful, because it’s about perception.

I ate a cheeseburger last weekend.  Oh, and onion rings too (I wasn’t going to tell you about that, but if I’m going to share my story, then it should at least be the real story, right?!).  And you know what?  The best part of eating that cheeseburger (and onion rings) is that I didn’t feel guilty afterwards.  It may sound silly to say that a burger actually made me feel healthy, but in a lot of ways—at least mentally and emotionally—it did.  I realize that as somebody living with cancer I could actually make myself sick hemming and hawing over every little thing that I eat or drink (as my Dana-Farber nutritionist said to me once—“I’m not concerned about what you’re currently eating or drinking.  I’m concerned about just how much stress you’re putting upon yourself wondering what to eat and drink.”).  And I know this because I’ve done it to myself for the past year and a half.  You may see me eat something when we’re together, but what you don’t see is the negative self talk that can occur on the way home.  (Even if it’s not something that others would deem unhealthy, I now think of myself as “different” because I am living with cancer, and that feels like a lot of pressure).  It’s only been recently that I’ve been able to slowly let some of that guilt and anxiety (read: fear) go.

I’ve never been in all-or-nothing person.  I love that people now are touting moderation as the key to good health.  Sign me up!  If you told me that I could never have another slice of pizza (never mind the fact that I at least try and pile the veggies on now) or piece of chocolate again, I wouldn’t be happy! But if you told me to try and eat clean and healthy 80-90% of the time, I feel that I can strive for that (it still sounds like a lot, I know.  If this speaks to you then my recommendation is to go at your own pace. Forget about what books and magazines and websites are telling you about “clean” eating.  Start slowly if you’re not used to it.  I started by cutting more meat out of my diet, which is ironic since I’m blogging about that cheeseburger, I know!).

I hadn’t had a burger in months and onion rings to me symbolize the fact that I feel good, which I know makes no sense, but let me explain.  When I was sick after cancer treatment I couldn’t eat much.   If I even tried to derail off of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast), my body was so unhappy with me.  I remember at one point thinking, “If I could only have some onion rings right now!”  It kind of became like a joke with my friend A and I; as soon as I started to feel better she was encouraging me to go out and find the best darn onion rings in the Boston area!

With cancer, we just want to feel like something is in our control, so it seems pretty normal that we’d try and revamp our diets.  Not only does what we put into our bodies feed that sense of control (excuse the pun), but research has shown that not just cancer patients but everybody of course can benefit from a healthier way of living.  The trick is, for me, to be more mindful about my choices; to think about how my body feels while I’m drinking a juice (and afterwards) and how my body feels after I indulge too much (ahem, my birthday this year).  And to know that I’m never really deprived, because if I decide that today isn’t the right day to have that burger, another day will be.  Another trick?  Not to get stuck if you do feel that you overindulged.  It took me a few weeks to bounce back from my birthday, not just because my body didn’t feel great, but because my mind was constantly picking out all of the things that I felt I shouldn’t have eaten.  I finally woke up one day and said “ENOUGH!” and let it go.

I used to think that since I don’t get it perfectly (at all) I had no business writing about it, sharing my experiences, or even talking about it.  Unless I’m juicing 3 x day and completely vegan, I’m really doing a total disservice to my body and I’m a complete sham on this blog, right?

Not right.  Why?  First of all, I tell myself, there are plenty of good things that I’m doing for my body.  And I need to actually stop and consciously remind myself of that, not just sweep all of the better choices under the rug (this goes for working on better boundaries and even forgiving others.  It’s certainly not just all about our diets).  And the truth is, if we have something to share that’s authentic and could serve others, then we don’t need to wait until we get it perfectly (because we’ll be waiting a long, long time).  Let’s break it down like this: Think about something in your life that you’ve wanted to shift (remember how much more I love that word than change?).  Then think about any small steps at all that you’ve made towards your goals, or intentions. Can you recognize that those small steps are, how shall I say it, AWESOME?!  If you want to save money, do you expect to wake up the next morning and be a millionaire?  Of course not.  But if you put any amount of money from your last paycheck into your savings account or decided not to buy that new pair of shoes, you are taking a step towards your higher goal.  I want to be healthier, so I invest in myself as much as possible.  Does this mean that I wake up tomorrow and never have another potato chip again in my life?  For some, all-or-nothing may really be the answer.  But for the rest of us, moderation and a deeper love for ourselves than for how we look (i.e. it’s more important how you actually feel) is the ticket to greater overall health and happiness.  If I focus on how great my body feels after eating well or exercising, that propels me towards greater overall health than looking in the mirror does. Does this resonate with any of you?  It sure does with me.

I’m going to be writing a lot on the negative effects that believing we have to be perfect put upon us.  Because in the end, we’re actually reversing what we’re trying to do, which is to take better care of ourselves (mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually).  And I can tell you that true self-care doesn’t stem from perfection. Whether it comes from your body, mind, or soul, do me a favor, will you?  Love yourself.  Love yourself with all of your imperfections and love yourself for trying and love yourself for messing up and love yourself because in your own way, of this I’m certain, you’re worth it. xoxo.