Monday, November 12, 2012

A Better Me

FACT: Did you know that the average projected lifespan these days is 78 years old? And I'm sure we've all heard that for the first time ever, the current generation is not expected to live as long as their parents due to obesity and disease. Things that make you go "hmmmmm".

My Mommie fell last December. This is my Grandmother who raised me. She slipped on some ice on the front porch in December and broke her knee cap in half, requiring surgery to have it repaired. Long story short, she subsequently got MRSA (an antibiotic-resistant staph infection) which required 6 weeks of daily IV dose vancomycin. The "vanc" caused an intestinal infection due to it killing off all of the good bacteria in her gut (dr's dont often think of details like protecting you intestinal flora while taking antibiotics, but this really is a NECESSARY thing to do! Probiotics are your best friend!). Well, it turns out that when you do not properly digest food, it is difficult to regulate blood thinner levels. So her platelets went so low (twice) that she required bags of platelets and the thinner levels were toxic. Eventually, the dr's decided to take her off of the blood thinners she was on for her A-fib (a chamber of her heart doesnt pump hard enough, allowing some blood to remain or "pool" up in the area and potentially cause clots). Then, she had a stroke. She recovered (thank Jesus) from her "moderate" stroke only to have her beta blockers (the meds that help stabalize her heart rhythm... it tends to beat too fast to make up for the ineffective atrium) hit a toxic level and land her in the hospital for a 10th time since December (it was only June!). Finally, in September, Mommie began to suffer from congestive heart failure and yet a new era of treatment has begun.

Is anyone else exhausted reading that? Can you imagine the effect that it has had on my 81 year old Mommie? Praise God, she is doing SO very well right now... but she has been at deaths door more than once this year...

Watching Mommie suffer through all her body has had to endure this year has made me really think about that earlier statistic I told you about. The average life expectancy is 78 years old. Mommie has already beat that by 3 years (but is anyone else thinking 78 sounds awfully YOUNG?! I'm pulling for 90!). But as you read, this last year has been hard, to say the least.

If given the chance to live to be 81, I'd really really like to be the healthiest 81 year old I can be. Everyone feels that way, obviously... but the question is, do our daily actions and choices reflect our desire to be healthy that far into our future. We all know that our choices tend to catch up with us. I like to think of myself as "healthy"; I have never smoked, have never drank alcohol, rarely drink sodas, etc... My cholesterol is low, bp is low, weight is ok (not great, but ok)... still, i KNOW that regardless of what the scale and bloodwork say, I really am not healthy. I have the facade of health only because age is on my side... for now.

But when I think about what I will be like at 81... well, that scares me. I am already pretty stiff (can barely touch my toes!) and I am a believer that the more flexible we can stay, the better we fare in terms of injuries. Cardiovascular-wise, I'm pitiful. I do not work out. I take my "facade" for granted and convince even myself that if I were in too bad of shape, I'd be heavy or have high cholesterol or something. But for those of us who are still "young", that is simply NOT TRUE!

The truth is exactly what I tell my slacker teenage patients ALL DAY LONG... while we are young, our bodies pick up our slack for us. Our liver and bladder and lymph system work overtime to clear toxins. Our heart beats very efficiently because it is still young and not yet tired. Our immune system takes care of bacteria in our mouths that we do not clear out via brushing and flossing, giving us the appearance of good oral health. And we take it all for granted. And continue to live our slack lifestyle.

And then one day, our bodies start getting tired of doing all the hard work. The immune system has to start working on clearing other bacteria/viruses that our livers and lymph systems are not able to clear as efficiently anymore. Priorities change for our organs, and our bodies start to "show their age" so to speak.

I am also a big believer in genetics. I have a patient who is a tri-athalon-er. He runs on average 40 miles a week. He swims. He bikes. He is a VEGETARIAN! He avoids alcohol and doesnt smoke. His cholesterol is low, bp is good and is a picture of health. However, at age 41, he suffered a MASSIVE heart attack and required a 5 bypass surgery. What the heck, right?!

People respond to this story one of two ways.
1. "See, it doesnt matter what you do... if its genetic, its gonna get you. You may as well live life and enjoy it and not worry".
OR, my response which is...
2. "See, even genetics can be overcome to some extent. Had this man not been conditioned and well trained and as HIS best health, that heart attack, NO DOUBT, would have ended his life. And instead, he continues to live because he was in teh best shape he could be and was able to live through what his genetics handed to him!"

I want desperately to be the latter of the two. I do not want to be a victim of genetics or circumstance. I want to take control and do the best I can to be a good steward of my health... so that no matter what happens to my body, I can live without (too much) regret, wondering if I could have changed the outcome.

So began my desire to be healthier...

I had a patient who came in, had lost 30lbs and was feeling great. She revealed that she was eating healthier and using Advocare's 24 day challenge to jumpstart her new lifestyle. "Interesting", i thought. And didnt think another thing about it... Until my friend, Danielle (who is insanely healthy!) started writing about it on her blog. I contacted her about the products, found out that she was a distributor and after talking to Jeff, we decided to BOTH do the challenge to kick start some better days ahead ;-)

The rest is kind of history. I lost 6lbs, am back in my pre-pregnancy clothing! and have more energy than I remember having in YEARS.

Jeff lost 11lbs and is feeling great! He actually recently decided to train for a FULL marathon! He has done lots of 1/2ers, but never a full! But he is feeling confident(ish?!) that he can get this off his bucket list and not die trying :-)

Since the challenge, I have continued with the meal replacement shakes for breakfast. Its such a SIMPLE, healthy, no brainer to start my day with a perfect 1:1 carb/protein ratio! and SPARK (i seriously love that!) to help me get through my afternoon "lull" w/o downing sugar that wears off quickly . Coreplex as my daily multivitamin in conjunction with omegaplex for the healthy omega fatty acids (hey, its Dr. Oz approved... as in ADVOCARE is Dr Oz approved!) and catalyst to help me with my muscle tone. I just ordered some O2 Gold which helps with Oxygen absorption during exercise and I'm hoping that it will help with being able to run and not get a side stitch :-) Boy, that would be AWESOME! haha. I have maintained my weight loss and am really enjoying feeling like my old self again, but BETTER! Healthier.

TMI, but i have "ibs" (irritable bowel syndrome). My Dr recommended back in the spring that I do an "elimination diet" where I eat boiled rice only for so many days, then add boiled eggs for so many days, etc... so as to identify what is aggravating my stomach. One reason I decided to do the challenge was because of the cleanse... I was hoping that it would help to "restart" my system. My IBS had gotten so bad that at times, i would have an allergic reaction of sorts to foods. Upset stomach was the least of my troubles... my eyes and throat would swell and itch, lungs got tight, broke out in hives... I for real thought I'd die some nights! Ok, maybe that sounds dramatic, but it was SCARY!

But since doing the challenge back in the summer, I literally have not had one episode. Yes, I'm eating healthier. But i really do attribute the improvement to the cleanse... because even before the challenge, I could be on a healthy eating kick and STILL get an upset stomach! SOOOO frustrating! So I'm thrilled to have gotten rid of that part of life :-)

Overall, I've loved the products. I've even started (prepare for it..... hold onto your chairs) started running! GASP! Something I've NEVER done before! Granted, its only a mile or so at a time, but its a step towards better health, and thats what this is all about. Making small, daily choices. Trusting and knowing that these good choices today WILL benefit me in the future. And more importantly, knowing that if i dont make these choices, I will regret it later.

Later is longer, folks. Now, thats some wisdom for you :-)
Its true, though. The discomfort of starting some better habits in food choices and exercise are short lived. The impact of choosing to NOT change will last.

So, heres to a better me... and I hope that some others may decide to come along. I'd love to have some friends in the retirement home when I'm rockin 90 years old ;-)

If you're interested in the challenge or have any questions, feel free to email me at You can also click the links above (text in a different color) to see video's about the challenge and testimonials on Danielle's blog or click HERE to check out any of the products on the advocare site.


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