Tag Archive | perks of cancer

You Are Blessed

If you awoke this morning with a roof over your head, you are blessed.   An estimated 100 million people around the world are homeless.

If you awoke this morning and there was food in your cupboard, you are blessed.  Every four seconds one of our fellow human beings dies of hunger.

If you awoke this morning with a spare dollar in your pocket, you are blessed.  Half of the people in the world are living below the poverty line and 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty.

If you awoke this morning and you are healthy, you are blessed.  There are countless diseases, illnesses, injuries and accidents that could change your life in an instant.

If you awoke this morning, you are blessed.   If your heart is beating and you are breathing, there is a lot more going right with your body than is going wrong. 

There is always something to be grateful for.  Let us give thanks for our many blessings.

Florence Strang

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Click on book to learn more

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The Best Presents

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My daughter Kaitlyn (L) and her friend Shelby (R)

These two young ladies have the Christmas thing figured out.  Rather than exchange presents each year, they gift each other with a rare treat: time spent together.  As Christmas approaches, they set aside an entire evening to go out to dinner and then just relax and catch up on each other’s news.  I am pretty sure that at their age, had one of my friends suggested just hanging out in lieu of exchanging gifts, I would have opted for the presents!  However, the older I get, the more I appreciate the PRESENCE of my family and friends, as opposed to the PRESENTS they give.

Of my 48 Christmases in this world, this has been the most precious one to me because of the presence of my family and friends. First of all, I have been blessed with three beautiful children. While I miss the days of playing Santa and wrapping dolls and toy cars, I now get to experience the excitement of waiting for my daughter, Kaitlyn to come home from University and have them once again all together under one roof. The presence of my three children in our home is by far, my greatest gift.

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L to R: Donovan, Ben, Flo and Kaitlyn

 

I am also thankful for the presence of my 95 year old grandmother. While Nan has enjoyed good health for most of her life, she suffered a stroke a couple of years ago and we worried that that Christmas might be her last. But I am very happy to say that she has mostly recovered, and continues to regale us with her stories and songs.

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Flo (L) and Nan (R)

While so many of my friends have lost one or both parents, I am very grateful to be able to share the Christmas season with both my mom and dad. This year, my sister Lynette came from Florida to spend Christmas with us in Newfoundland, bringing together all but one of my siblings.

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L to R: Mom, Juana, Sherry, Flo, Lynette and Dad

While my “Calgary sister”, Celeste, was not able to spend Christmas with us in Newfoundland, I was very fortunate this year to spend New Year’s Day with her in Alberta. I am so thankful that she made the three hour drive from Calgary to Sherwood Park with her son, Ryan, to spend a fun filled day together. This is the first Christmas season in many years that I have had the opportunity to spend time with all four of my sisters, and for that I give thanks.

 

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L to R: Celeste, Ryan and Flo

I have also been blessed this year with the gift of new love. I met Steve in May, and the past seven months have been a whirlwind of romance and adventure! Not only are Steve and I in a long distance relationship, but it is what I call a “double long distance relationship”.   Steve’s home is in Sherwood Park, Alberta, while I live nearly 7000 kilometers away in Newfoundland. He spends three weeks at home and three in Newfoundland where he works as a helicopter pilot. However, even when he is working in St. John’s, my home is 350 kilometers away in Lewin’s Cove. Despite the geographical challenges, Steve and I have somehow managed to spend a lot of good quality time together. Fortunately, I was able to spend a week of my Christmas vacation visiting him at his home in Sherwood Park, and meeting his beautiful family.   Thank you, God for the gift of this wonderful man whose presence in my life is more precious than any present I could ever receive.

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Flo and Steve

Finally, the good Lord has blessed me with the gift of good friends. With our busy lives, it is not always easy to carve out time to maintain our friendships, but I am happy to say that I managed to connect with most of my friends this Christmas season. I also experienced my own little Christmas miracle by reconnecting with two very dear friends, whom I had lost contact with for nearly four years.

As I reflect back on 2015, I have so many things to be grateful for. As a cancer survivor, good health will always top my gratitude list. Next to my health, it is the love that I share with my family and friends that means the most to me. Intellectually, I have always known that people are what matter most in life, however one of the perks of having cancer for me was the experience of knowing that truth on a deeper level. When I was too sick to care for myself, it did not matter how many degrees I had, the size of my house, or my bank account. My very survival depended on my loved ones taking care of me. While I always had an appreciation for my family and friends, I now make a more conscious effort to put time into my relationships, and I strive to be fully present with them when we are together.

Wishing you much health, happiness and the love of good friends and family in 2016!

Cancer: What Your Doctors DON’T Tell You!

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I never tire of hearing stories about people who survive cancer against the odds. You don’t read about these stories in medical journals. You’re more likely to find them in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, or on a blog. In rare cases, you will find collections of these “miraculous” stories gathered together in a book ( such as, “From Incurable to Incredible”, by Tami Boehmer). But it’s not the stuff that science or modern medicine is made of. After all, if a doctor TELLS you that you have six months left to live, he is not going to shout it from the roof tops when you are alive 38 years later! Such is the case of Carl Helvie.

I first read about Dr. Helvie on Elyn Jacobs blog (read the whole story here). His credentials are pretty impressive: “Dr. Helvie holds an M.P.H. and Dr. P.H. from John Hopkins University and has 58 years’ experience as a nurse practitioner, educator and researcher. The author of seven books, he is host of the Holistic Health Show on BBS Radio. Thirty-eight years ago, he developed lung cancer and was given six months to live by a conventional physician. He is now among the longest living survivors of lung cancer.”

I don’t know a lot about lung cancer, being a breast cancer gal myself, but I do know that it is considered one of the deadliest types. When Dr. Helvie was diagnosed, his prognosis was grim. With just six months left to live, he decided to try to make himself as comfortable as possible. However, using a combination of alternative therapies, prayer, meditation, affirmations and visualizations (which by the way, are ALL talked about in our book, 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It)….he cured himself of cancer and has been cancer free for an amazing 38 years!

I devoured every word of Dr. Helvie’s interview, but this is the line which really caught my attention: “Cancer treatment is a multimillion dollar industry in which drug companies make lots of money, hospitals have wings donated, the American Cancer Society stays in existence, there is lots of research money available, doctors make money and on and on. So there is not much incentive to disturb the status quo and find a cure. Alternative doctors have offered successful treatments for over 80 years but when one practitioner gets too successful the anti quack law is pulled out and there are attempts to put them out of business. Many such cases are documented.”

So is there stuff our doctors are NOT telling us about how to survive cancer? Damn right there is! Here are some of the things that my doctors did not tell me about how to survive, and prevent a deadly recurrence:

-By following a regular exercise program, I can reduce my risk of having a cancer recurrence by as much as 40%.

-By eating a mainly whole food, plant based diet, I can reduce my risk of recurrence by a whopping 30%.

-Studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. I live in Newfoundland (enough said….) People who live in northern climates are at high risk of being deficient in this vitamin, which in turn puts them at risk of developing breast cancer. To reduce the risk, take a supplement (new studies show that you should take K2 along with D3……don’t ask me why.)

-Numerous studies have demonstrated the power of natural substances such as curcumin, mushroom extract, and dandelion root, just to name a few, which in lab studies have been shown to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells.

I could go on and on sharing my “quackery” with you but the bottom line is this: people believe what they want to believe, and for the most part, they don’t want to hear the bad news about their bad habits.   It takes guts to make lifestyle changes, and change is not for the faint of heart. Are you ready for a change?

Sign up here for our FREE newsletter, giving you cancer fighting tips; delicious recipes using foods with a powerful cancer-fighting punch; inspirational stories, and MUCH MORE! www.cancerplanforlife.com

 

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Which of These 5 Things Do YOU Want for Christmas?

What is the one thing that you REALLY want for Christmas?  If you are like most people, I am willing to bet that your true heart’s desire is one of these 5 magical things:

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-Weight loss without dieting

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-Fitness without exercising

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-Detoxing the easy way

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-Finding your soul mate

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-Discovering the true secret to happiness

(Now don’t be greedy, I said ONE thing!)   What if I told you that everything you need to know to make these five dreams become a reality can be found in one simple resource?   The resource I am referring to is a book, a 465 page book to be exact, which is a simple guide to happy and healthy living.  If you haven’t guessed it by now, the book I am referring to is: 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It.    This book clearly fulfills its promise of giving you literally hundreds of tips for healthy and happy living, but these five tips in particular are worthy of honourable mention.

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Weight loss without dieting:  Let me start off with the clincher, there are many foods mentioned in 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It which are “guaranteed to melt belly fat”, to paraphrase the esteemed Dr. Oz.   By which I mean, if you follow the tips suggested in the book, and include more whole-plant based foods and less meat, you are pretty much guaranteed to shed those unwanted pounds, without that dirty little four letter word, “diet”.  Not only will you learn the health benefits of powerhouse foods such as kale (p. 193) and quinoa (p. 267) but you also get delicious recipes to prepare these health promoting super-foods!  (What?  Foods that make you healthy AND skinny at the same time???)

Fitness without exercising:   Yes, you heard me right, it is possible to get fit without the use of traditional, boring exercise.   100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It will teach you how to “Rock Out With a Different Type of Exercise”, which is really not an exercise at all, and something that we all love to do! (p. 205)  If it is traditional exercise that you enjoy, such as walking, then this book will teach you how to make the most of your walking (p. 251).  Included as well are easy to follow directions for walking, which are scientifically proven to make you………well, walk of course!

Detox the easy way:   Learn to detox the EASY way, with no strange diets, concoctions, or detox kits (p. 67).   You will have to read that chapter to uncover the REAL secret to detoxing your body, and trust me, it does not involve the use of an enema bag!

Find your soul mate (Even if you are in the middle of a health crisis).   For those of you who have given up on finding the man of your dreams, this book proves that there is always hope. (p. 9)  And if you are lucky enough to have already found that special someone, 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It, gives you tips on  how to keep that spark alive while making your “kitty” purr (p. 10).

Discover the true secret to happiness:  How did the authors of  100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It ever manage to maintain a happy and positive attitude in the face of a life-threatening cancer diagnosis?  Well, if I told you that, I would have to kill you.  But if you buy the book, you too can learn how to change your mental attitude and boost your emotional well-being through simple lifestyle changes.  Not only is the book jam packed with tips to improve your physical health, but you will also learn how to reach your optimal level of mental and emotional well-being, through simple practices such as: deep breathing (p. 406); forgiveness exercises (p. 257); and gratitude (p. 125), just to name a few.

By now, I am sure you are completely convinced that 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It, makes the perfect gift for anyone!   Whether you are a cancer warrior, who is currently battling the disease; a cancer survivor, who wants to avoid a reoccurrence; or a cancer AVOIDER, who is interested in prevention, this book has something for YOU!  But if you need just a little more convincing, I urge you to check out this website:  www.100perksofhavingcancer.com.

Order now to have it in time for Christmas:

In Canada:   http://www.amazon.ca/100-Perks-Having-Cancer-Surviving/dp/1591203562/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386243625&sr=8-1&keywords=100+perks+of+having+cancer

In the USA:  http://www.amazon.com/100-Perks-Having-Cancer-Surviving/dp/1591203562/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386243688&sr=8-1&keywords=100+perks+of+having+cancer

Happy Shopping Games, and may the odds be ever in your favour!

My Simple/Perfect Day!

Well, bonjour mes amis!  It has been far too long since I’ve talked to you…nearly 3 weeks to be exact…..  which happens to be my longest blogging hiatus ever!   Believe me, I have felt obligated to blog several times, but to be quite honest, I have just not been feelin’ the love.  Truth be told, had I written anything uplifting over the past few weeks, I would have been faking it.   Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of blog worthy moments, like Susan’s fabulous visit to Newfoundland last weekend, for one.

Flo, Shawn and Susan (caution: Flo does not actually look this good in real life: good hair day, good make up day and good lighting)

Flo, Shawn and Susan (caution: Flo does not actually look this good in real life: good hair day, good make up day and good lighting)

However, I digress.  Despite there having been many blog worthy moments over the past three weeks, I have been feeling just plain down in the dumps. (Hey, what can I say?  Even us Psychologists sometimes have a bad day!)  Oh, don’t worry; It is nothing that you said or did.  It is just how I get this time every year.  When the clocks turn back, and it gets dark before supper time, I start to feel my spirits slip.  I suppose it’s because I am so in tune with nature and my garden that I think I too should be able to just pull a blanket of snow over my head and sleep until the spring.  But alas, I must face the darkness.  And face the darkness I have done.

As the early night closed in around me, I found myself conjuring up old hurts from the past, and re-living them as if they were fresh new wounds.  Often it was silly stuff, like, “I can’t believe she didn’t invite me to that party in 1988!”  And then in my mind I would re-live the experience, sometimes creating a new and improved version of the event in which I told her right where to go!  Not that that helped me to feel any better. Then, when I tired of living in the past I would project myself into the future:  “What if the cancer comes back?  I can’t bear the thought of going through chemo again.…….and what if…..how can I be sure???????”

So that’s how it has been for me for the past few weeks, kinda Jeckyl and Hyde-ish.  But I’m back!  What brought me back, I think in part, was having a “perfect day”.  Hmmmm……I guess I should stop you before you let your imagination run wild!  After all, a “perfect day”, for you may conjure up images of jetting off to Tuscany on a wine tasting tour, making love to a tall dark stranger, or even eating the best cheesecake ever.  Well, my day wasn’t THAT kind of perfect, it was just perfect for me.

It all started with a surprise phone call one morning.  I set the alarm for 6 a.m as usual, stumbled down the stairs to grab a cup of coffee, when lo and behold the phone rang.  I grabbed it quickly, wondering who could be calling at such an ungodly hour, when I heard the recorded voice of my vice-principal:   “Due to slippery road conditions, school will be closed for the morning.”  SNOW FRIGGING DAY!   And I was not even aware that it had snowed over-night. What an unexpected and pleasant surprise!  It is amazing how much you can get accomplished around the house when you have 4 surprise hours added to your day!  By lunchtime the sun was shining and the snow had melted so it was off to school for me and my sidekick/son Ben.  I went to my office and examined the piles of files sitting on my desk.  Where to begin?  But I dug in, and for the entire afternoon, I did not get one phone call, no one knocking on my door, and no troubled kids sent to see me (I guess they were all on a high from their snow day).  So once again, I got LOADS of work done!

Feeling a great sense of accomplishment, I decided this would be a good day to get back on track with the exercise portion of my “Survival Plan”, so I dusted off my sneakers and went for a 5 km walk.  I could actually feel the negative energy pass out of my body as I pounded the trail.  Next it was home to cook a delicious veggie stir fry, worthy of making love to, it was that good.  Finally, the icing on the cake:  My 16 year old son, Donovan volunteered to watch Ben for a while so that I could take a bath.  A rare treat when you are the single parent of a little boy with autism.  So that pretty much concluded my perfect day.

Hey, who said that?   Did I just hear someone suggest that I must be living such a boring life to find happiness from these simple things?  Well, I’ve learned a few things in my 46 years on this planet.  One of the most important lessons I have learned is that true happiness is found within.  Given the exact same set of life circumstances, one can find either happiness or misery.  As the old expression goes: two men looked through prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars.  I think there for a while I was seeing mud.  I was getting weighed down with pains from my past and worries about my future, and I forgot to live in the present moment.   When I “got out of my head” and just enjoyed each moment of my simple day for what it was worth, well, then my simple day became the perfect day.  So go on then, you go out there and enjoy YOUR perfect day today, my friend!

…3…2…1…Blast Off!!!

blast off

“Houston, we have lift off”  were the words echoing through my mind when the Perks of Cancer Booth opened in Nashville on August 23rd, officially launching our book into the world!  Literally within seconds we were swamped by fans, in a mob-like frenzy, charging at us for a chance to get an autographed copy.  I cringed as I saw one elderly lady with a walker being pushed over by a couple of younger cancer survivors.  Luckily, Susan shouted to security to help her up before she got trampled by the fans.  It was like a scene from an English football match, I tell you.  Gone mad, they were!  As the last copy was sold, a hush fell over the crowd and then, with what looked like a re-enactment of the Cabbage Patch Kid Frenzy of the early nineties, a roar went up as they tried to snatch books from one another.  My panic was rising and I was seriously considering bolting for the nearest exit, when……………. Shawn nudged me and I woke up.

But seriously folks, the launch was a great success, and both Susan and I are simply thrilled with all the great connections and new friends we made in Nashville.   I am sure you will be hearing lots more about this adventure in future posts, but for now, I would love to share with you just a few highlights of the trip:

DSCN3995[1]The Perks of Cancer Team at the National Women’s Survivors Convention in Nashville!

The Fashion Show:  Much to my surprise, I was chosen to be one of 12 cancer survivor models at a fashion show on Friday night, modeling really cool and comfy Coldwater Creek clothes.   It all started with a make-over, where a whole team worked on me for well over an hour, fussing with my hair and make-up to make me fit for the bright lights of the runway.  They really made me feel like a super star!  I sat with bated breath, as I watched my co-models being transformed before my very eyes from ordinary women to gorgeous cover girls.  I just could not wait to see how I looked!  So you can only imagine my horror when they swung me around to see myself in the mirror, and what I saw was a drag queen looking back at me.  And I don’t mean one of those really sexy drag queens who throws you for a loop when you hear a man’s voice coming from a woman’s body.  Nope.  I was a butt ugly drag queen, with spiked hair and the eyebrows of Groucho Marks.  If I had opened my mouth to speak, I am sure people would have pointed to me and shouted, “Oh my God, that drag queen sounds just like a real woman!” And mothers would pull away their petrified children whispering, “Don’t stare at him, it’s not polite!”  (BTW no offence to drag queens….I wish I looked half as sexy as y’all.)  However, when I explained that I did not want to look like an edgy-punk-rocker-model, I wanted to look like a middle-aged-cancer-survivor-model, they fixed me up right pretty. As a PERK, I got to keep one of the outfits I modeled.   (Thanks Melanie and the folks from Coldwater Creek for the opportunity, it was awesome!)

modelFlo the model, with Susan, the Model Buddy

Dana’s Song:  My friend Dana Blackwood Cox is a phenomenal woman, who is not just surviving with cancer, she is sur-Thriving!  Although she is living with metastatic breast cancer, she continues to inspire others through her music and her winning attitude.  At the convention, she had the opportunity to sing her song “No Time for You” on stage and she rocked the friggin’ house!  I am so proud to call her my friend.  Dana hooked up with a big time songwriter in Nashville (FYI…he co-wrote the Dirty Dancing song “She’s Like The Wind” with THE Patrick Swayze.  How cool is THAT?).   So remember that name, folks:  Dana Blackwood Cox, cause y’all just might be seeing her on stage at the Grand Ole Opry some day!   A big Newfie thank you to the organizers, especially Karyn, Judy and Melanie who helped to make Dana’s dream come true.  You ladies rock!

DanaDana, with her signature “Believe” guitar, giving one of her many performances.

Grand Ole Opry:  No trip to Nashville would be complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry, and what an experience that was!  I just cannot put into words the feeling that came over me as I sat so close to the stage where every major country super star has made an appearance.  We had pre-purchased our tickets to see Martina McBride, and I was expecting a “Martina McBride concert.”  However what we got was not a concert, but the full Opry experience:  a star lined show with performances by legendary singers, like Ricky Skaggs (A Simple Life), John Conlee (Rose Colored Glasses) and  Jeannie Seely (Ode to Billy Joe), just to name a few.  A lot of them were Golden Oldies, I will admit (so old in fact that it prompted Shawn to say, “Jeeze, next they will be wheeling them out in coffins to perform!”).  But there was nothing “old” about Martina McBride.  Her music is so touching.  There was not a dry eye in the place, least of all mine, when she sang, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”, which is an anthem for many women cancer survivors.

MartinaMartina McBride at the Grand Ole Opry

So there you have it y’all, lots of laughs and loads of great memories.  I am actually writing this post while sitting on a Greyhound bus en route to Memphis where I will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief and just have some fun after working so hard at my book launch.  So stay tuned for the sequel to this post when I share with you my experiences in Memphis…..a post which I will likely title, “The Hangover”.

hangoever-copy(Oh yeah, and in case you haven’t noticed, I picked up a new word down South.  Can y’all guess what it is?).

 

Vegan Delight!

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You would think that by now, three days after my 21 day vegan challenge has ended, I would be “face and eyes” (Newfie expression) into a hamburger.   But strangely enough, I have no desire to eat meat.  In fact, I would have to say that the 21 day challenge was not a “challenge” at all….it was more of a delight!  Let me explain…..

First of all, I am not what you would consider a real food lover.  I enjoy food, sure, but eating does not usually top my list of things to do.  In fact, there are days when I actually forget to eat a meal.  It is not unusual during gardening season for me to go outside after breakfast and become so engrossed in my horticultural endeavors that I realize the sun is setting and I have actually forgotten to eat!  (I know, Sherry Inkpen, you hate me…)  However, since I started eating a plant based diet, I look forward to every meal, and I am actually excited about food for the first time in years!

The second delightful thing about plant based eating is trying new recipes and discovering that traditional Newfoundland meals can easily (and tastily) be adapted to a healthier, plant based version.  Case in point: fries and gravy, a Newfie favourite.  I consider myself to be somewhat of a gravy connoisseur.  Even blindfolded I can tell the difference between chicken gravy, pork gravy and beef gravy.  I have even been known to dabble in turr gravy , and you need a seasoned palate for that!  Obviously one of the key ingredients in traditional gravy is animal drippings (doesn’t that sound gross?).  However, I have discovered a new way to make gravy which rivals any gravy I have ever tasted: mushroom gravy (recipe to follow in my next post).  And now for the fries….sweet potato fries, oven roasted with olive oil and a dash of sea salt and pepper.  Yummy!

I would be amiss not to mention the third (or turd) delightful thing about plant-based eating: the B.M’s.  I’m a little shy about getting into the details of what constitutes a healthy BM, but if you are interested in knowing what your poo says about you, you must read what the Savvy Sister has to say on the topic!

Like my “vegan coach”, Susan, I am not quite comfortable with the term “vegan”.  Mainly because it makes one sound like an alien:

Martian:  Greetings.  I am a Martian who hails from the planet Mars.

Me: Na-nu Na-nu, I am a Vegan who hails from the planet Vegs.

I much prefer the term “plant-based eating”.  Being a plant-based eater does not mean that I can’t ever have eggs, cheese, or even a bit of meat on occasion.  It just means that my diet is MAINLY plant based.  I can do that!

So, to conclude my “challenge” I would like to thank Susan for all the helpful tips and words of encouragement.  While she is the epitome of healthy eating, she is never preachy and never  hardly ever forces her opinions on others.  What says you, Susan?

Savvy Sister

 

Thanks Florence! And congratulations on your accomplishment! Please print and proudly display the certificate below (or just read it):

certificate

Your lifestyle changes are just that: YOURS.  Unfortunately, people have preconceptions about what a vegan diet means and see it as something negative…”I will have to GIVE UP so and so…”

But as Flo has shown us, with eating plant-based, you are getting so much more variety, color, flavor and texture, that you will never get bored.  And you will exercise your mind by trying new things.  (New experiences create new connections in your brain)  For example, I just tried Yacon syrup for the first time yesterday.  Yacon syrup is a root (like sweet potato) that is used as a sweetener but it is not like sugar, does not raise your blood sugar, (so diabetics can eat it) it helps build bone, and can help with weight loss!

I think you’ll find Flo that as time goes on, you will continue to feel better, and have more energy and enjoy fixing meals, which will reinforce your decision to remain plant-based.

I invite everyone reading this to go out today and bring home one new item from the produce section and find a way to prepare it.  One suggestion is spaghetti squash. There are two recipes on my blog, The Savvy Sister,  you can use.

Baby steps now…soon you’ll be running a marathon!   And we’ll be here to help you!