All posts by thinkadmin

Nutrition: Tell Me Something New!

We all know that proper nutrition plays an important role in thriving despite a breast cancer diagnosis, but does anyone else think that healthy foods can be, well, boring? How do you overcome this barrier of finding actual tasty AND healthy food?
Healthy food doesn’t have to be a salad, or something raw for that matter. Some simple substitutions in daily eating habits can make food significantly healthier! For example, in a recipe that calls for ground beef, try opting for ground turkey. Ground turkey is much leaner than ground beef, and most of the time the person eating it can’t tell a difference! Another good substitution is quinoa (pronounced keen-WAH) for rice. It’s a great source of phosphorous and manganese, which are two essential minerals! Sweet potatoes are also a great addition to a dinner rotation. They are high in carotenoids, which are precursors to vitamin A. Vitamin A is important in eyesight, immune function, and acts as an antioxidant (that means it helps fight off cancer and signs of aging)!
Want a recipe using these healthy diet staples? Try this comforting sweet potato and quinoa turkey chili, perfect for a cold February night. The recipe is listed in the scroll box on the right side of this page.

-Kayla Lewis, BS

Don’t wait up for Santa

The holiday season can be a stressful time. With extra family members around (that you may or may not get along with), it’s easy to lose sleep. When extended family is visiting, it’s normal to want to keep the house in perfect order and make sure everyone’s favorite snack and beverage are available. All of these extra responsibilities can take a toll on the body and make restful sleep more difficult to achieve.

It’s important not to take all of these added responsibilities on by yourself! Utilize the extra family members around to share the workload, and designate different family members to be responsible for activities. If you’re responsible for making breakfast, let someone else handle dinner. When you relieve the extra stress it will be much easier to get the necessary rest needed each night.

Maintaining your regular bedtime routine will also help your body rest better, despite the additional company. If you normally wash your face and read a book right before bed, keep doing that so your brain knows it’s time to fall asleep. Try to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone in the evening as well. The blue light emitted from the screen interferes with your brain’s sleep/wake cycles. It’s also important to stay away from the peppermint mocha lattes in the afternoon despite the temptation! Caffeine after 3pm can hinder your ability to rest at night, along with consuming alcohol right before bedtime. All of these tips can help you fall asleep and stay asleep at night.

Remember, it’s the kids who are supposed to stay awake all night for Santa, not you!

-Kayla Lewis, BS

Getting Down (Dog) at Yoga Class

So, this blog comes to you from someone who previously thought yoga was simply just stretching. Well, I decided to start taking classes back in June, and I am forever a changed woman.

For starters, just for some comical background, I have NEVER been flexible. I vividly remember when I was in fifth grade my dad took me to my gymnastics class, and he said we were never coming back. I was in a class with 4 year olds who were legitimately all better than I was. After a few months in the class I still couldn’t do a cartwheel, backbend, or even touch my toes for that matter. I basically gave up on all things requiring flexibility because those were embarrassing times. (I actually thank my dad for pulling me out of that class. Parents are there to tell you when you’re making a fool of yourself, even when you’re 11).

Jumping back to present day, I decided to start taking yoga classes because I wanted to become more flexible for running. I had heard from multiple people that yoga can make you a better runner. After I looked at the gym’s class schedule, I found a class from 7-8am 2 days a week. There really were no excuses since that’s before my work day begins. My first day in class I felt so out of my element. The instructor was calling the names of poses, and I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I was a pose behind the entire class, and apparently this class was *vinyasa yoga*, not just your run of the mill stretching class. By the end of the hour long class I had sweat through my shirt like I had just ran! I told myself that I was going to keep attending, though, because flexibility really was something I needed to work on.

The purpose of the word “namaste” is to display respect for yourself and for each other (1). Considering I go to yoga first thing in the morning, I don’t think that’s a bad way to start my day. It’s important to be aware of the respect you have for yourself and others. It’s not a chant or a mantra; it’s a reflective word. I know that’s something I was a little confused about at first, so I’m sure I’m not the only one!

It’s now been four months since I started going to yoga, and I absolutely love it! I’ve learned so much, and the flow of vinyasa yoga has gotten easier (even though I still sweat the entire time). As a beginner, here are some take-away points I have for anyone interested:

  1. Yoga is an individual practice: don’t compare yourself to others in the class. Do what you can, and modify where you need to. Be your best self, not someone else’s best self.
  2. The breathing you use in yoga helps in your everyday life! I was recently at the orthodontist and all the stuff they had in my mouth was very uncomfortable. Instead of dwelling on the discomfort I focused on my breathing, and before I knew it they were done!
  3. Laugh it off anytime you fall out of a pose! Everyone in the class is learning and trying to improve, so if you fall out of a pose, shake it off and try again! I think that’s a great attitude to have towards life as well. Anytime you mess up, laugh it off and try again. Don’t take yourself too seriously because life’s too short for that!
  4. Build relationships! Everyone who is in class with you was a beginner at some point in time, or they might have started at the same time as you. Laugh together, build together, and hang out together! Find someone to grab lunch or coffee with you after class. Each friendship you make is accountability to help you get to class every week. Maybe that person is the instructor! I know my instructor will ask me why I missed class, and she now knows poses that I struggle with and can help me get better at them.

Studies have shown that life is better with yoga for breast cancer survivors (2)! As with beginning any new form of exercise, though, talk with your health care provider. Overstretching can damage joints and ligaments, so you may want to start with low-impact yoga! Check out our SurviveAL website for some more information on exercise and yoga for breast cancer survivors (3).

*Vinyasa yoga coordinates movement with breath to flow from one pose to the next. It’s basically cardio yoga, and I thought I was going to pass out the entire time. I never wanted to hear the words “chaturanga dandasana” ever again.

  1. http://yogadork.com/2015/07/27/what-are-we-really-saying-with-namaste/
  2. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/for-breast-cancer-survivors-life-is-better-with-yoga.html
  3. http://surviveal.org/expert-advice/diet-and-exercise

My yoga instructor in the Birmingham area is Cheyenne Batson. Her business Facebook page can be found at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/LittleFoxYoga16/
She also took the header photo.

Namaste,
Kayla Lewis, BS

Getting “race day ready” for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is on Saturday, October 7 this year at Regions Field in Birmingham, AL, and I know I’m going to see many Survivors, families, and friends there. Hopefully you (yes, you reading this) will be attending. So, how do you transition from attending to participating?

Maybe you’re like I was, with no prior experience walking or running 3.1 miles! That seemed like a very daunting number. 3 miles? That’s as far as my house to the grocery store! One of my friends had told me about the Couch-to-5K® program, and how it helped her train for a 5K without being overwhelming. She was right! This program is now an app you can get from the App Store on your smartphone, but you can also find the program online in picture format that you can print out or copy to a notecard, which is what I did. The program starts out with mostly walking, which gradually switches to all jogging by the end of the program. Without this resource I definitely would’ve burned myself out by trying to do too much at once!

Need some motivation to stick with the program? Find yourself a buddy and register for the race here! Once you register for the race you’ll feel more obligated to stick to the program. Can’t wait to see you there!

-Kayla Lewis, BS

Summer is here. Are you drinking enough water?

In the summer, when we tend to sweat and spend prolonged time in the sun, drinking plenty of water is critical.  Drinking your daily dose of water helps keep your skin clear and hydrated, allows your body to move more smoothly when doing physical activity, and helps you think more clearly.

How much water do you need?  The answer is based on your body weight.  You should drink 1 ounce of water per 2 pounds of body weight.  For example, a person who weighs 160 pounds should drink 80 ounces of water per day.

It can be challenging to drink all the water you need on a daily basis.  Try these tips:
• Drink water first thing in the morning
• Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day
• Drink most of your daily water before 6:00 pm

How do you know if you are not drinking enough water?  If you are not drinking enough water you may experience poor digestion, sluggish thinking, skin breakouts, headaches, bad breath, and fatigue.

Be Grateful For Your Health By Practicing Self-Care

The ancient Roman poet Virgil said, “The Greatest Wealth is Health“. There is no amount of money in the world that can replace good health. However, we do not always appreciate what we have until it is gone. So, be grateful for your health every day by loving yourself and practicing self-care.

Eat Well: Drink more water, eat more plants, & reduce processed foods

Sleep: Dim the lights before bed and make your bedroom comfortable

Exercise: Choose activities you love and walk more

Be Happy: Prioritize joy, make time for play, and think positively

What will you do for yourself today? 

Spring Into Health

 Are you ready to Spring Into Health? Add a little spring to your step by starting a walking routine.  Get yourself a walking buddy and a pedometer.  Set a goal of 5,000 steps a day and hold each other accountable.  Make walking pleasurable.  Try walking at the botanical gardens and  take time to stop and smell the flowers  that are in bloom. Spring is a great time to make lifestyle changes.  So get out there and get walking.  The clock has sprung forward, now how about you?

Glorious Greens

Leafy green vegetables are missing from the daily diets of most Americans. Greens are a nutrient power-house and are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micro-nutrients and phytochemicals. There are so many greens to choose from. Broccoli, kale, collards, spinach, and chard are just a few. Find greens that you love and eat them often. When you get bored with your favorites, be adventurous and try greens that you’ve never heard of before. Try a variety of methods like steaming, boiling, or sauteing in oil. If boiling, boil for under a minute so that the nutrients in the greens do not get lost in the water. Raw salad is also a wonderful preparation for greens and is very refreshing. Whenever possible, choose organic. However, eating non-organic greens is much better than not eating any greens at all! Get into the habit of adding dark, leafy green vegetables to your daily diet. By eating greens you will naturally crowd out unhealthy foods. Try it out for a month and see how you feel.

8 Weeks to a Healthier You!

It is a new year and a perfect time to begin your journey to a healthier you.  Making lifestyle changes can be difficult.  One approach is to focus on adding in healthy choices each week for 8 weeks.

Week 1: Drink water
Drink a least 64 oz. of water a day

Week 2: Eat greens
Add greens into your daily meals

Week 3: Eat whole grains
Substitute brown rice or quinoa for white rice

Week 4: Eat plant-based protein
Add more beans, nuts, seeds, or tofu

Week 5: Vary your veggies
Eat the rainbow

Week 6: Eat 3 meals a day
Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with no snacking in between

Week 7: Move your body 30 minutes a day
Move your body and do something you love

Week 8: Create a healthy balance
Balance nutrition, physical activity, relationships, career, and spirituality

As you begin your journey to a healthier you key tips are to:

  • take baby steps
  • each day is a new day, start again
  • have love and compassion for yourself

Does yoga help your brain?

Does yoga help your brain?  When stress levels rise, you tense up, your heart races, and your attention shifts. This shift to “fight or flight” mode is automatic, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of your control. Yoga teaches you to gain control over your, movement, breathing, and mind with the aim of turning on the body’s “relaxation response”. When the body is relaxed your brain can function better. Just 20-minutes of yoga may help you think better. So the next time your head’s feeling foggy, consider skipping the energy drink and go for a yoga class instead!

Free Yoga Classes: Many local Affiliates of Susan G. Komen offer free Yoga classes. Click here to find Komen in your area. For those of you in the greater Birmingham area,  the North Central Alabama Affiliate hosts yoga every Monday night for survivors and  co-survivors at 6:00 pm.  Call 205-263-1700 for more details.

Find a Yoga Class Near You: For those of you who may not live near a local Komen office, YogaFinder.com can help you locate a yoga class near you.