#9 What’s a dosha? How understanding your body through Ayurveda can lead to a healthier life.

I talk a lot about reconnecting with our body after cancer treatment, in fact the subtitle of the book I am working on is, “Reconnecting to Your Body Could Save Your Life.”

The reason that I put a lot of emphasis on this is because we have powerful intuition as humans, especially as women. When we are in a mindful state, tuned into ourselves and aware of what is happening in the moment, aka being present. We are able to sense what is working for us, mentally, physically, and spiritually.  

However, when we go through a life-threatening, frightening and difficult experience like cancer we often tend to tune out of our body and out of the present moment as we slip into survival mode. It’s not uncommon to hear and it wasn’t uncommon for me to say, “I just need to live through this.”

When I think back on my treatment days, the last thing I wanted was to have toxic chemicals pumped through my veins while I was swallowing dozens of other chemicals to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy. This was not a part of my lifestyle beliefs. However, the one thing I did want to do was to stay alive. So, I disconnected from my core values of living a mostly chemical free life, to doing whatever I had to in order to live.  I didn’t want to have my breasts cut off, but when the decision came down to them or me…they had to go. Another disconnect.
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Most of us cancer survivors, got through treatment doing what we had to do, which probably included things you really didn’t want to do. Now you’re living with a body that feels different, looks different, and maybe doesn’t please you aesthetically.

How do you deal with that? You disconnect. You don’t look at yourself. You don’t show yourself off to your partner in the same way you used to. Maybe your posture even begins to change as you subconsciously roll your shoulders forward protecting or concealing your surgical area.

It’s in reconnecting to your body, in getting a firm grasp of what it is that’s important to you that will help you move forward beyond surviving and into thriving. That’s where Ayurveda comes in and where it can help you.

What is Ayurveda

Ayurveda, is a Sanskrit word meaning the science of life.

The knowledge of Ayurveda dates back more than 4,000 years to  ancient texts known as the Vedas. Ayurveda is part of the fourth book of the Vedas, the Arthavaveda. It is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and is still used by the majority of the population of India today.

Ayurveda focuses on creating healthy habits, related to food, herbs, sleep, movement, personal hygiene, and personal surroundings including color and aroma.patient

The history of Ayurveda is complex and includes Sanskrit words and universal, spiritual ideas which go beyond the scope of explaining and understanding in this blog post.

Incorporating Ayurvedic practices into your life works to create an environment in your body that maximizes its self-healing capacities. When we gain an understanding of what our body needs, and we understand what it’s like to feel good and to be in balance, we also learn to distinguish what being out of balance feels like, and what steps we need to take to get back to feeling well.

One of the things that I love so much about Ayurveda is that even though it dates back thousands of years, it is a living science and can be adapted to our modern lives.

At its very core, Ayurveda looks at the energetic qualities and the interconnectedness of all things including, people, health, food, relationships and habits.  It considers how different energies affect each other to bring about balance or imbalance.

Once you learn the philosophy of Ayurveda, a structure begins to take place that paints a beautiful picture of how all of the qualities of the world and the universe work together, affect each other, and build upon each other. A significant part of this structure is that of life forces or Doshas.

Energetics of the Doshas

There are 3 doshas in Ayurveda, and all 3 exist in everyone and everything in different combinations. The doshas can be most easily understood as groups of qualities.

For example, if you know someone who has a bad temper, you probably refer to that person as a hot head. Or, if someone loses their temper we say they lost their cool, or we tell them to cool off. Notice the reference to the hot and cold energies of these emotions.

Let’s take a look at inflammation. Studies show that inflammation is the root of many of common diseases, including cancer. The qualities of inflammation are hot, red, and swollen. In order to treat inflammation we apply ice, anti-inflammatories, alkaline foods, or things that cool. This is a very Ayurvedic approach in that opposites bring balance, and like increases like.

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The doshas are combinations of the qualities of the five elements; earth, air, fire, water and ether.  When we are in balance, feeling great, having enough energy to get through the day, free of digestive and elimination issues that create discomfort, sleeping soundly and waking feeling refreshed, this is called our prakriti.

This is our natural state of balance where the energies and qualities of our bodies are in sync and working just as they were intended to.

Conversely, when we are in a state of disease, or we are overweight, lethargic, in pain, not sleeping soundly,  or experiencing frequent indigestion, this is called our vikriti, a state of imbalance.

Understanding what your balanced dosha or prakriti is helps you to become aware of imbalances when they begin so that you can take steps to correct them.

The interesting difference between Ayurveda and western medicine is that Ayurveda doesn’t just look at symptoms, but at the qualities of the symptoms.

For example, if you have a headache, you might say this is a stress headache because you notice your shoulders are tight and you have a lot on your mind. or you might say this is a sinus headache because you’re feeling mucus and congestion. Either way, you’ll take an aspirin or other pain reliever to relieve the pain.

However, in Ayurveda you would address the qualities of the headache with a change in diet, or nutrition or routine or even herbal support. If the headache is dull and congested, you would take steps to reduce those qualities through herbs or other steps that have the opposite qualities. Make sense? Ayurveda is looking at addressing the underlying energetics that are manifesting into the symptom you’re experiencing.

Kapha Dosha

Kapha (Kah-fah) is the combination of earth and water and all of the qualities of those elements including heavy, dense, cold, oily, sticky and liquid to name a few. Here are some attributes of the physical and emotional manifestation of Kapha:

waterPhysical– Big boned, overweight, oily skin and hair, but also thick  hair and nails, mucus and congestion, deep voiced, slow digestion, clammy skin, sleeps a lot.

Emotional– loving and attached, possessive or firmly rooted in specific beliefs, slow to anger and slow to change.

Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha is the combination of Fire and Water. The qualities of this energetic combination include Hot, sharp, mobile, oily, liquid and light.

Examples of physical and emotional manifestations of these qualities are: 
fire
Physical– fast metabolism, reddish skin or easily flushed a tendency toward heated digestive issues like heartburn, sensitive teeth.

Emotional sharp intellect and probing mind, acne or rashy skin, medium build with an affinity for athleticism, competition and a quick or intense temper. The western comparison would be the type A personality.

Vata Dosha

The Vata dosha is the combination of space and air. Vata includes the qualities of dry, light, cold, mobile, rough, and clear. Examples of Vata Dosha Are:

Physical- dry hair and nails, thin, constipation, fast talking and walking, stiff joints.

Emotional- Vivid dreaming, Creative, flexible, anxiousness and fear, cold hands and feet.space

Think about the person you know who is naturally very thin and seems to never stop moving or talking. The classic western ectomorph.

Dosha Accumulation and Management

These are just a few of the qualities in each doshas and it’s important to understand that everyone has all 3 of these doshas in them in different combinations. Some qualities being naturally more dominant than others and some changing with age, seasons, and  environmental circumstances.

For instance let’s say that you are naturally high in Vata qualities. Your thoughts move quickly from one thing to the next, you may find it difficult to focus on one thing or to complete sentences sometimes. You might have a fast metabolism and find it difficult to gain weight. You might also have a lot of creativity and you can run like Forest Gump.

As we age we enter the Vata time of life, so you will experience more dry, stiff, rough qualities in your body and let’s say it’s late fall which is a Vata season, cold and windy, add the holiday season to that which may create a lot of stress, planning around events, travel, and shopping.

fallIn this scenario you can see that vata qualities are piling on from every aspect of life. You may begin to experience unpleasant symptoms of high vata like insomnia, constipation, panic attacks, bloating and gassy digestive issues, painful bones and joints.

However, if you understand the concept of doshas and you become aware of  what’s happening in and around you, there are steps you can take to manage vata. You may incorporate vata reducing foods and practices such as eating warm gooey foods, (stews not cinnamon buns), or take hot, relaxing baths, create consistent routines around eating and sleeping and rub warm oils on your body to decrease all of the vata that is accumulating.

Hopefully from this example you can see that like increases like and that increasing any one dosha or group of qualities too much is where you experience symptoms of being out of balance.

When you apply nutrition and lifestyle habits to bring ourselves back into balance, they have the opposite qualities of what is troubling us. If we increase our awareness of what is happening in our body and in our lives then we can catch these imbalances early and make adjustments to support our health.

However, if you are not aware or you turn a blind eye to imbalance then the imbalances go deeper into our system and the manifestations become more and more severe.

Vikriti and Prakriti

It’s important to remember the difference between the natural state of a dosha in your body and the imbalance of one. If your naturally a high vata dosha, and you have more vata going on than any other dosha in your body,  but you feel good because this is your nature, this is your prakriti. However, if vata has gotten too high and you are experiencing physical or emotional discomfort, this is you vikriti and this is when you need to take steps to support your health.balance

The best way to understand your dosha, both your prakriti (balanced state) and vikriti (imbalance) is to have a thorough intake done by a trained Ayurvedic practitioner.  You can find a list of practitioners here, and of course you can contact me. 

In lieu of seeing a practitioner and to get a cursory understanding of your Ayurvedic constitution, you can take a simple online test like this one from Banyan Botanicals. My absolute favorite Ayurvedic supplement company.

Ayurveda and Cancer Recurrence

Ayurveda is a beautiful, gentle way of reconnecting to your body and to your life. It’s a way of understanding how your body feels when it’s well, and understanding the signals that it sends to you when something is out of whack.  

As survivors, a common source of anxiety is the looming threat of a recurrence and an excellent way of reducing that anxiety is by learning to understand your body and the changes its going through. That way you can distinguish between signs of too little rest, or too little movement, or too much of the wrong foods compared to identifying signs that something is wrong at a deeper level and needs medical attention.

I’d love to hear your questions or comments about Ayurveda. Please find me on Facebook  and share your thoughts with me and with our community of survivors.

If you haven’t downloaded my book, 6 Habits of Health Happy Breast Cancer Survivors, please go to my website LauraLummer.com where you can download it for free.

Until next time,
Let your lifestyle be your medicine,

~Laura
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#7 Five Facts You Need to Know about Ketogenic Diets for Breast Cancer Recovery

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An Invitation
Before I get into the meat of this blog I want to extend an invitation to you to help me celebrate my sixth year of cancer survival next month, July 2017 by sharing your stories of survival with me. I would love to have the privilege of sharing your story on my social media, through my blog, and on my podcast with other survivors. Please email your story to Laura@LauraLummer.com, and if your are interested in sharing your story in person on my podcast, please include that in your email as well because I would love to have some of you sharing through your own voice, on my show next month.

I truly believe that many women need to hear that one story that connects with them and helps them to believe that they can get through the struggle that often accompanies breast cancer survival. That story could be the one that you have to share. Let’s join our voices and create more support for other survivors in doing so. I’m looking forward to receiving some stories about not only how you survived, but how you thrive now. Tell me what changed in your life. Did you pursue a dream that you wouldn’t have if you had not gone through the experience of breast cancer, or do you have a different outlook on life now? I’d love to hear so once again please email your stories to me at laura@lauralummer.com

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All right let’s get into talking about a LCHF or low-carb high-fat diet otherwise known as a ketogenic diet. Before we get too deep into this I do want to acknowledge that as breast cancer survivors, many of us have special needs or continue to take prescription medications. I’ve shared in previous podcasts and blogs about my own experience with having very high levels of insulin, glucose, cholesterol and high blood pressure following treatment and especially when I was on tamoxifen.

It’s important for me to remind you that I am not a doctor or a registered dietician, although I spend a lot of time researching, reading and ensuring that the information that I’m putting out to you is valid and comes from professional, educated and credentialed resources it’s important that you always put your health and safety first. So please do your research, follow-up with your doctor on anything that you read here, especially if you’re on medications or have metabolic conditions that are under, or require medical supervision like heart disease or type two diabetes.

History of Ketogenic Diets
In my last blog, which was part one of this series on managing weight after breast cancer treatment, I wrote about the struggle I went through and all of the different avenues and resources that I exhausted while trying to manage my weight after treatment. Which was the first time in my life that I have been faced with this difficult challenge.

I also wrote about how I had seen people around me experiencing great successes with a low-carb high-fat diet, but I really had a hard time wrapping my mind around eating high-fat and being healthy. Also, I’ve never been a big fan of the so-called “diet” I’ve always been an advocate of balanced eating and moderation. Or at least what I perceived as balanced. But, I do try to keep an open mind to other options. I started to do some research into the ketogenic diet because I wanted to lose weight, but I also wanted to be sure that it was safe in the sense that it would not increase my risk of cancer recurrence.keto food

What I discovered was that there are multiple versions of a ketogenic diet. One version is a low-carb high-fat diet (LCHF) and the other is a traditional ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet includes up to 90% of its calories from fat. Whereas a low-carb high-fat diet is more of a modified Atkins diet.

The Atkins diet recommends 50% to 60% of calories come from fats versus the LCHF diet which recommends more than 75% of calories coming from fat sources. Atkins also includes more protein than the ketogenic diet or LCHF diets which recommend keeping protein intake between 20-25% of total calorie intake and then adjusting it downward as needed for weight loss. This is because, these diets are primarily concerned with controlling levels of insulin and glucose, and higher intakes of protein can cause more of an insulin release.

By no means am I criticizing the Atkins or any other type of diet, I’m just offering this comparison to help you get a better understanding of what the low-carb high-fat or ketogenic diet actually is.

One of the first resources that I was fortunate enough to come across when I began looking into the ketogenic diet was a researcher that I referred to in last my blog, Dr. Dominic D’ Agostino. Listening to interviews with him led me to other excellent resources, which led me to the surprising discovery that the ketogenic diet has been around since 1921, when it was discovered that this diet worked exceptionally well for children who suffered from epileptic seizures.

When children with epilepsy were put on a ketogenic diet the majority of them completely recovered and stopped having seizures. After a period of time, this diet fell out of fashion as more pharmaceutical drugs were developed to control seizures, even though many of these drugs did not have nearly the same success rate that the ketogenic diet did.

The Keto diet for the treatment of epilepsy was resurrected in the 1990s when James Abrahams, the writer of many movies you’re probably familiar with including Airplane, The Naked Gun, and Scary Movie Four to name a few, was searching for help for his young son, Charlie, who had severe epilepsy.

Charlie-Abrahams-epilepsyHis search lead him to Johns Hopkins where he became acquainted with a dietitian who recommended the ketogenic diet for Charlie. Even though all the drug therapies Charlie had been subjected to in the short span of his 11-month life had failed to manage his condition, the ketogenic diet succeeded. Eating this way allowed Charlie to get off of the drugs he was taking to manage his seizures, recover from epilepsy and live a normal life, even though his original prognosis was that he would live a life of seizures which would result in progressive mental retardation.

James was amazed at the results of the ketogenic diet and at the same time, angry with the medical institutions that didn’t give this information freely to so many people suffering from epilepsy. He was passionate about getting information about the ketogenic diet out to other parents that were in his desperate situation. He started the Charlie Foundation to spread the word and educate other people who desperately needed help for their epilepsy or for their epileptic children. He also wrote, directed and produced the 1997 movie, “First Do No Harm” featuring Meryl Streep. This was the story of an elliptic child whose life was changed by the ketogenic diet.

Since starting the Charlie Foundation, the ketogenic diet has been found to benefit many other conditions including Parkinson’s disease, ALS, cancer, Autism, Traumatic brain injury, and type two diabetes  As a result, the name of the foundation has been changed to the Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies in an effort to continue to promote the studies and trials of the ketogenic diet across the spectrum of these diseases. I highly recommend checking out their very informative website for information dietary plans and recipes.

I could go on for a long time about the science of a ketogenic diet as there’s a ton of science out there and it seems that more studies are popping up all the time. However, today we’re going to focus on how the ketogenic diet may support cancer patients and cancer survivors and improve our odds of survival. First, I’ll give you 5 key pieces of information you should know about ketogenic diets, and then I will give you five tips on getting started with a ketogenic plan.

5 ways Ketogenic Diets Benefit Breast Cancer Survivors
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1. Cancer cells need glucose to grow and survive
In 1923, near the time that the benefits of the ketogenic diet and were discovered for epilepsy, a German biochemist named Otto Warburg, publicly stated his hypothesis that cancer was a metabolic disease. Meaning something gone wrong in the body is the root cause of cancer and rather than it being caused by genetics, which was the accepted theory at that time. What Warburg discovered was that cancer cells used a different way of creating or accessing energy than normal cells. Cancer cells use a process called cellular fermentation even if there was oxygen present for them to use, which is what healthy cells would go to first. Fermentation requires glucose or blood sugar to be present. In fact when cancer cells do not have access to glucose they often die. This process of cancer dying in the absence of glucose to this day is called the Warburg effect.

SIDENOTE:
We all know that chronically high blood sugar is something we want to avoid. However, there’s also a common understanding that you must have a certain level of blood sugar or glucose in order to function. And that’s true, but when there’s not a lot of glucose in our blood we can use ketones for energy instead. When our body is using ketones for the majority of its energy rather than glucose we are said to be in ketosis.

It is important to distinguish that ketosis and ketoacidosis are two very different conditions. One is quite dangerous and the other quite safe. When we are in ketosis we are using the energy of the ketone bodies that our liver is making. When a person, usually a type two diabetic, is in ketoacidosis their system has become very acidic, their body is producing ketones, but just as their body has become resistant to insulin and is not able to correctly use blood glucose for energy, the energy from the ketone bodies is also not being used, so it builds up in the blood is filtered out by the kidneys and found in the urine. It’s important to realize that saying you’re in ketosis is not something to be afraid of.

Another situation in which your body produces ketones for energy is when you’re in a fasted state. At this time your body accesses your stored fat and your liver makes ketone bodies for energy.

2. LCHF/ Ketogenic diets keep glucose low and reduce insulin response
The bottom line here is that following a ketogenic diet helps to keep blood sugar and insulin levels low in the body. The is a benefit to cancer patients and survivors because cancer cells cannot use ketone bodies to create energy, to live, or to multiply. When our body is making ketones and we are using them for energy more than glucose, studies show that cancer cells don’t have the food necessary to grow and multiply. In a situation where people are currently being treated for cancer, this can be a supportive therapy for chemotherapy or radiation and in fact, tremendous success is being found using both fasting and a ketogenic diet in while patients are in treatment.

Dr. Jason Fung, Author of the “Obesity Code unlocking the secrets of Weight Loss”, is a kidney specialist in Canada, an advocate of the ketogenic diet and of intermittent fasting. Dr. Fung talks in his lectures and in his books about how important it is to keep the insulin response low so that our bodies don’t become insulin resistant which then leads to us having high blood sugar. It’s also commonly known that insulin encourages fat storage, I mean that’s its basic job, to store energy in the body. The more carbohydrates we eat, the higher our blood sugar goes, insulin we secrete, and the fatter we get. Let alone the fact that the higher our blood sugar is, the more fuel that’s just floating around in our body eligible to be picked up by cancer cells.
insulin

3. LCHF/ Ketogenic diets reduce metabolic syndrome and risk of diabetes
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase your chance of heart disease and your risk of becoming a diabetic when they occur together. Metabolic syndrome is a step in the progression of the development of diabetes. The progression may begin with chronically high blood sugar, resulting in weight gain and metabolic imbalances.

If you have at least three of the following conditions occurring at the same time, you are considered to have metabolic syndrome:

  1. A waist conference for females larger than 35 inches (89 cm), or for men, greater than 40 inches (102 cm)
  2. Chronically high triglyceride levels
  3. Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol)  Which is less than 40 mg/dL in men, and less than 50 mg/dL in women.
  4. High blood pressure, consistently 130/85 or higher.
  5. Fasting blood sugar greater than 100 mg/dL or higher.

On a ketogenic diet, studies have shown that all of these conditions are improved in most people. Additionally, most people experience a decrease in waist circumference pretty quickly after following a ketogenic diet. This is significant for more than just your favorite bathing suit, abdominal fat is the most dangerous place to carry around extra body fat when it comes to increasing your risk of disease. (It’s also the first place that body fat loves to accumulate after menopause.)weight loss

4. LCHF/ Ketogenic diets reduce cravings and hunger
There’s an ongoing debate as to whether people lose weight on a ketogenic diet because they eat less, or because they metabolize fat differently than carbohydrates (maybe both). In my experience and the experiences of those around me, the high amount of fat in the diet leaves you feeling so satisfied that you really do eat less. You don’t constantly feeling the need to graze throughout the day. As you become more adapted to eating this way you literally lose the cravings for sugar and sweets.

5. LCHF/ Ketogenic diets Improve Brain Function
For cancer survivors who underwent chemotherapy as a part of their treatment, chemobrain is no joke. The American Cancer Society (ACS) states on their website that even though the direct cause of chemobrain is uncertain the results are real and can include:

  • Memory lapses
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble remembering details
  • Trouble multi-tasking
  • Feeling disorganized, slowed thinking and processing of information
  • Trouble remembering common words or difficulty completing a sentence

ACS also states that these symptoms can last for months to years after treatment.

Although I looked for research on a ketogenic diet specific to chemo brain I didn’t find any, however I did discover many other studies on ketogenic diets and cognitive impairments. One study, published in March 2016 by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. This report said that part of the problem in Alzheimer’s disease is the brain’s lack of ability to properly use glucose as fuel. However, this report states that clinical trials have shown that increasing ketone availability to the brain through nutritional ketosis has a beneficial effect on cognitive outcomes in Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments.

How to start a Ketogenic diet
A traditional ketogenic diet, otherwise called a strict ketogenic diet, is a 4 to 1 ratio, with fat being four times that of your calories for carbohydrates and protein combined. You can imagine that that’s challenging for some people, not only to begin to cut carbohydrates back that low but also to increase fat by that much. There is also the option of a moderate ketogenic diet would keep the carbohydrate intake between 20 and 50 g per day.

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If you’re not one for calculating percentages, there are several online tools that can assist you in creating a ketogenic food plan. One that is particularly simple and yet thorough is called the 
Keto diet buddy. Just enter your information like height, weight, age, gender and this website will calculate your goals at a maintenance level, for a moderate calorie deficit, and for a large calorie deficit.  It’s pretty cool and it even has an app that you can put on your phone. I use My Fitness Pal and then which shows my macronutrient intake in a little pie chart. I recommend finding a tool that’s easy for you to understand and use. There are lots of resources out there and new ones are popping up all the time as this diet becomes more well-known.

I don’t want to turn a blind eye to the very real challenge that our society faces with sugar addiction. Thinking of eating a ketogenic food plan could cause a bit of panic in some of us because it means going through that emotional struggle of detaching from sugar. It’s important to understand that a ketogenic diet is not something you do halfway. You can’t be taking in large amounts of fat and eating carbohydrates and sugar at the same time so it’s really something that you have to commit to. Once your body adapts to eating this way, you can have a treat now and then, if you even still have a desire for it but you have to cut out the sugar when you increase the fat.

Simple steps to getting started:

1. Eat Whole Foods- One of the first steps that you have to take in beginning ketogenic the plan is to get the processed food out of the house. If food comes in boxes or bags when it shouldn’t it has had things added to it to keep it preserved and fresh for a longer period of time than it could in its natural state. You’ll find sugars in sausages, sauces, salad dressings and other places that you might not expect so please check labels look for sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, maltose, dextrose or sugar by any other name and steer clear of those products. This includes eating processed or fake low carb foods. Focusing on eating vegetables, meats, cheese, dairy products, eggs, nuts, and other natural foods.

I do just want to qualify something here because I’ve had this question from many people and I want to clarify that fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates. We have vilified the word carbohydrate so much that whenever we say it, people think of bread, donuts, cookies and that’s not always the case. Fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes are carbohydrate foods but they’re also rich in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All of that is important for a healthy digestive system and many other functions in our body. So, don’t be afraid of fruits and vegetables because they’re carbohydrates just be mindful of how many eat and how sensitive your body is to any or all carbohydrates

2. Don’t fear fat– We have been so programmed to fear fat that even when we are given free rein to consume it, we struggle to get our mind around the fact that it’s OK to eat. A ketogenic diet is not a high-protein diet, which is the first thing people tend to go to.  It’s a moderate protein diet so you want to keep the protein intake between 20% and 25% of your total calorie intake. I’ll give you an example of this. The other night while having dinner with my sisters, who are all following a ketogenic diet with a lot of success, I was helping one of them calculate the amount of nutrients she was eating in the My Fitness Pal app. When we saw that her fat intake was below 60% she was a little surprised, but as we reviewed what she had been eating, a lot of the foods were much higher in protein than fat. She was ordering a ribeye steak and a side of vegetables for dinner, so I had her order an extra side of drawn butter and some blue cheese crumbles to put on top of those veggies and that steak. Sounds delicious right? It was! So slather on the butter and don’t be afraid of cheese. Obviously, if you’re lactose intolerant you’ll work around the dairy and if you’re vegan you have many beautiful oils to choose from as well. On my last podcast show page, I even posted a vegan ketogenic cookbook along with other resources that you could reference for ideas.

3. Get a cookbook or sign up for a website that’s focused on a ketogenic diet- It’s a very simple diet to follow but make sure you have an understanding of how it works. Many people see quick weight loss when starting a ketogenic diet and then they plateau. If that happens, it’s important to know that you have options like drinking more water, reducing the amount of your protein intake, exercising a little more, and maybe adding more fat. I recently discovered a fantastic resource, the Dietdoctor.com. This website is beautiful, simply laid out, and contains interviews with physicians and specialists that can answer and address all of the concerns that you might have about eating a high-fat low-carb diet. It has delicious recipes, and if you choose the membership option it’s free for 30 days and then only nine dollars a month.

I went with the nine dollar a month option because you can choose all the meals you like and it prints out a grocery list for you which is awesome! I also love to learn and there are courses and interviews with tons of valuable information on this website. Whether you cook or you don’t cook, or you’re concerned that giving up sugar is going to be too much, there are all kinds of options and articles on this website to help you make an informed decision.

4. Be aware of the Keto flu- A common experience people have when they begin a ketogenic lifestyle and they’re transitioning from using glucose as their primary source of fuel in the body to using ketones, their body goes through an adjustment period and they can feel pretty crummy. Common side effects can include leg cramps, fatigue, constipation and lack of endurance. This is often called the keto flu. I personally experienced a challenge in getting through my workouts for about two weeks, and then surprisingly I showed up in the gym one day and felt like wonder woman. That’s when I knew that I had made it past the adaptation point. So be patient with this way of eating, and consider, being more gentle with yourself for the first couple of weeks as you’re adapting. Instead of intense workouts, take some walks, do some restorative yoga and give your body time to adjust as you eliminate refined carbohydrates from your diet. You may notice that your body flushes fluid very rapidly and you have to pee a lot!  Keto flu symptoms can be related to this loss of fluid and can often be remedied by becoming more hydrated, adding salt to your food, or drinking sugar-free electrolyte beverages.

5. Find a community or a buddy for support.- I highly encourage you to find somebody to begin this new lifestyle with. If you have children or a partner at home that will support you in this do it together. It’s fun to experience the results and try out the new delicious foods together. They’re also communities like my Facebook page where survivors can share their experiences and successes. Having support can make the whole transition a lot easier and help you stick to the ketogenic lifestyle when you’re at home or even when you’re out.

Be patient with yourself
Remember, we are all different and going through cancer treatment affects our DNA and the way that we respond to many different things. So be patient with yourself. Although I lost several inches and 10 pounds in the first two months that I followed this way of eating, my sisters and my husband have all lost a lot more weight than me. It’s important not to compare to others because I know that my body has been through a lot of stressors that their bodies have not and I’m really grateful for the success that I am seeing and for the difference that I’m experiencing in energy, the lack of hot flashes, joint pain, and fatigue.

I hope this introduction to the ketogenic diet has inspired a little bit of curiosity in you and that you’ll check out some of the resources that I have posted on my website. You can also email me at laura@lauralummer.com. I’m always looking for information that I can put out there to be the go-to resource for other cancer survivors and I really believe that the ketogenic diet has a tremendous amount of benefit to offer all of us.

Look for me on Facebook at Laura Lummer, on Instagram @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach and become part of our community of survivors who share wisdom and support with each other.

Until next time,

Let Your Lifestyle be Your Medicine,
~Laura

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Interested in working one on one with Laura? Email her for fees and availability.


#4 You’ll Love the Soothing Benefits of this Awesome Beverage

As a Breast Cancer Recovery Coach, I believe it’s important for me to help my clients find ways to incorporate healthy eating, physical activity, herbal remedies and mindful practices into their busy schedules in realistic ways.

As much as I love to cook and would prefer to start everything from scratch, my schedule, and probably yours, doesn’t always allow the time for that. So, I look for the healthiest alternatives that allow to me to consistently incorporate these practices into my day and I treat myself to the “scratch” version whenever I can.
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Golden milk is a perfect example of this. This amazing, anti-inflammatory,  drink is a pleasure to create from coconut milk, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and honey. Can’t you just smell it filling the house with fragrance already?

When I’m in a pinch for time (or just tired), the Gaia, organic, premixed version does just fine. I get the yummy flavor and all of the benefits, other than the pleasure of handling the individual ingredients myself. This mix is also vegan and a little different from most golden milk recipes in that it uses cardamom rather than cinnamon and it also contains ashwaganda which is a powerful rejuvenative herb. Ashwaganda is used in Ayurveda  to support those who have been weakened by chronic disease, and exhaustion is said to be particularly rejuvenative for  muscles, bone marrow and semen.

If you’ve never heard of golden milk, I’ll break it down for you.

  1. The primary spice in golden milk is turmeric (curcuma longa) known mainly for its active ingredient, curcumin. Turmeric has been called “the spice of life” in Ayurveda for centuries but, in the recent years it’s health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, have been studied more and more frequently which has shot turmeric to the top of the popular herbal supplement list in your local health food store.

When I searched turmeric in the PubMed (U.S. National Library of Medicine) database, I found over 1100 studies on everything from its effects on brain health to diabetes management to cancer protection.  Dr. Vasant Lad, a well known Ayurvedic physician and the founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico, has said that turmeric cures the whole person. Pretty sweet, right?

The power of nature is so awesome, and that’s one of the things that I love the most about golden milk. It harnesses the power of:

Ashwaganda (Gaia Version): tonic, nervine sedative, rejuvenative, aphrodisiac.
Cardamom (Gaia Version): Stimulant, expectorant (said to neutralize the mucus forming effects of milk according to Ayurveda), carminative, diaphoretic.
Cinnamon: Carminative (reduces intestinal gas), antibacterial, expectorant, diuretic, analgesic.
Coconut Milk: The benefits of lauric acid, capric acid (medium chain fatty acids), and antimicrobial lipids.
Ginger: Carminative, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiemetic (reduces vomiting), cardio tonic (good for the heart).
Turmeric: anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic, carminative topical anti-bacterial & antifungal, anti-atherosclerotic, anticancer.
Vanilla (optional): Antioxidant, sweetener and delicious.
Honey (optional): Sweetener, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant.
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That’s a lot of good stuff for one warm and yummy beverage and I say yummy in all sincerity, even my kids like it!

There are different versions of the golden milk recipe, including ones with black peppercorns which gives the drink a little more heat and detoxifying qualities as well as enhancing the bioavailability of turmeric by up to 1,000 times. You can also prepare a golden milk paste by combining the herbs and spices with coconut oil and storing it in the fridge, then combine with warm milk when you’re ready to have a cup.

Here’s a simple recipe that you can make at home if you want to take the “made from scratch” route:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (of course you can substitute with cow milk, almond milk…whatever delivery system yo need to get these herbs into you but coconut is the traditional version)
1  cinnamon stick
1 (1-inch) piece turmeric, unpeeled, thinly sliced, or 1/2 tsp dried turmeric
1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced, or 1/4 tsp dried ginger powder
1 tablespoon honey or 1 tsp vanilla or scrapings from 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
Ground cinnamon (for serving)
Directions:
Bring coconut milk, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, coconut oil, vanilla (if you’re using it) to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into mugs add honey if you like and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or cardamom. Enjoy!

 

Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com and keep updated on daily nutrition and exercise tips by following me on twitter or Instagram @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here .

Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com. Become a part of our thriving community of breast cancer survivors by following me on social media @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here , and subscribing to my podcast, “The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach”.

Until Next time,

Let your lifestyle be your medicine,
~Laura

Personal Branding and Business Headshots by TRUE BLUE Portrait

Find out more at LauraLummer.com


#3 How to Enjoy the Benefits of Beets in an Appetizer

The recipe for these delicious roasted beet and herbed goat cheese crostinis is coming up but first, let’s look at all of the reasons why you should look for ways to incorporate these beautiful root vegetables into your diet.

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Most people think of beets as the lovely, deep red root but, make no mistake the entire plant is edible. In fact, beet greens are a powerhouse of minerals and vitamins including A, C, K, and B6. The greens were originally the part of the plant that was consumed before the sweetness of the root was discovered by someone whom I can only imagine was one very hungry person. You can cook the greens as you would cook spinach or, clean them very well and toss them in a salad or, run them through your juicer.

Beetroots are not only a good source of Vitamin C and fiber but, recent studies suggest that the phytonutrients and betaine contained in these colorful roots fight inflammation in the body and may play a role in protecting against the formation of cancerous tumors in humans. Beetroots are also rich in nitrates which are converted into nitric oxide in our bodies. Nitric oxide has the effect of dilating or relaxing blood vessels. This improves blood flow and can help in lowering blood pressure. Good stuff right?
One thing that I haveIMG_1189 to point out is that the sweetness of beetroots is due to their high natural sugar content which makes them a cheap source of sugar and therefore, one of the most prevalent genetically modified crops. So, if GMOs are on your avoid list (and they should be), be sure to use organic beets in your diet.

These tasty little crostinis are just one of dozens of ways to incorporate the awesomeness of beets into your diet. Be sure to check out some more sources to discover lots of new ideas for enjoying the benefits of beets.

For this recipe, you will need:

1 baguette sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (Or just buy the pre-sliced bag)
1 40z package of herbed goat cheese (If goat cheese doesn’t float your boat, use any spreadable, herbed cheese such as Alouette)
1/4 cup pesto (I used the premade kind from Buitoni)
2 or 3 Tbsp of capers (Depending on how much you  like them)
Olive oil -For drizzling
Salt– To taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Scrub the beets clean and slice off the greens (Which of course you will want to save for eating later.) and the root tip. Then slice them into 1/4″ slices. You don’t have to peel the beets but, do try to keep the slices as even as possible so that they cook evenly. Lay the sliced beets out into a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt then pop them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.
They’re done when you can press a fork through them and they’re soft all the way through. These slices cook fast because they are thin so don’t walk away and forget them, you’ll end up with beet chips…which are actually delicious too.

While the beets are cooking, slice the baguette and toast the slices to a nice crunchy, golden brown.

Assemble your crostinis:
Smear a little of your spreadable cheese on top of a toast bit, lay a beet slice on top of the cheese and then drop a teaspoon of pesto on top of the beet, press a couple of capers into the pesto and hope that no one comes home before you get a chance to eat them all because they’re delicious!

According to MyFitnessPal, 4 of these Crostinis come out to about 294 calories, 38g Carbs, 13g Fat, 10g Protein.

 

Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com. Become a part of our thriving community of breast cancer survivors by following me on social media @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here , and subscribing to my podcast, “The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach”.

Until Next time,

Let your lifestyle be your medicine,
~Laura

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#2 How to Choose to Live a Carefree Life

A few months ago I was introduced to the Oprah/Deepak 21 Day Meditation Experience. I’m not really sure what my expectation of that experience was. Of course I have heard of Oprah Winfrey, I mean who hasn’t but, I had honestly never seen any of her shows so I didn’t have a personal understanding of why she is considered such a force of nature.

I downloaded the meditation series titled, “Become what you Believe” and I listen to it daily for 21 days. Sadly, in the free experience, each meditation disappears after five days so, by day 7 I had purchased the series because I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to listen to these meditations over and over again. Each morning  I would listen to a meditation and then as I got into my car to go to work I would  listen to them again. Obviously I didn’t meditate while driving in my car but, I would listen to the introduction where Deepak Chopra  describes the concept of that day’s meditation and suggests a thought to keep in mind for the day.image

It’s so helpful to be reminded of how the way we think impacts everything in our lives. Even though my life is committed to empowering others physically, spiritually and emotionally, I certainly don’t  go day-to-day without incident. Having that suggestion, that outside input on where to check your thoughts and how to steer them back into the right direction, was refreshing. (That’s why people use coaches right? ) So after listening to each of these 21 meditations repeatedly I decided to invest in a second series titled “Creating Abundance”.

In this series there was a particular meditation that lightened my heart and  has brought me back time and again to remind myself to live carefree. In this meditation, as in all others, Deepak offers a centering thought for the day that reminds the listener to be lighthearted and to trust in the universe and know that all is well. This sounds like such a simple task however, when you’re thinking about things like the choices your children are making, the property taxes coming due, the finances flowing out faster than they’re flowing in, whether or not the aches and pains you’re feeling are cancer coming back, being carefree it’s not really that simple…or is it?

I was once told, by a very wise Yogi, that I could choose to drop my anger at any time. I debated this of course, because we often are attached to our anger, as I was. I told him that it wasn’t that easy and that sometimes you have a right to be angry. So, he offered me the analogy of getting into a car and heading off to work feeling pissed off at the world for whatever your teenager or your spouse pulled before you walked out the door, or maybe you’re just having a bad hair day. But, once you get into those doors at work and the receptionist greets you or a customer walks in, you put on your smiling  face and you proceed with your work happily and gracefully.  So, where did the anger go? You dropped it. You left it somewhere else and maybe later in the day or on your way home you’ll decide to pick it up again but, you did make a conscious choice to drop it.carefree

Remembering this experience I started thinking that maybe I could just make that same choice to be carefree. I could  choose to drop the worry and pick up the lightheartedness. I could say to myself, “I choose to be carefree and to trust that all is well.” This is exactly what I did and what I have been doing, and it’s working.

There are some things in my life that many people might consider to be tumultuous.  But, as I stand here writing this, at this very moment I am healthy, my family is healthy, the mortgage is paid, the sun is shining, I have a job, and the list could go on for a very long time actually. Now, I fully realize that in the next moment anything can change but, that doesn’t mean that it could change negatively, expect miracles right? Things change every day, all the time and we have to find a way to live each moment with lightness and a carefree attitude because it truly is the only moment  we have, as far as we know, in this life.

How many times have you experienced a situation and thought,  “This is making me feel physically ill.” There are many studies that show that it actually is making you physically ill. Stress and negative thoughts have been shown to contribute illness. Your negative thoughts do create chemical changes in your bodies they can undermine your health. Of course everyone acts differently to different types and amounts of stress and some people can take more than others but, why take it at all if you have a choice to be carefree?

Remember that you are the mountain and just as the seasons change on the mountain, trees grow and fall, the mountain remains steady and strong in the midst of all of the changes.image

Why not choose to be carefree? Give it a try for a week.  Every time you catch yourself in some kind of a spin worrying about where things are going to come from or where things are going, take a minute and just stop. Say to yourself, “I am lighthearted and carefree. I can trust in the universe and I know that all is well.” Then, don’t try to talk yourself out of it. Keep saying it over and over and over until you feel your heart lighten up, just a little bit. Let me know how it works for you.

Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com. Become a part of our thriving community of breast cancer survivors by following me on social media @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here , and subscribing to my podcast, “The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach”.

Until Next time,

Let your lifestyle be your medicine,
~Laura

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Learn more at LauraLummer.com

 

 


#1 Creating a Jubilant Life After Beating Breast Cancer

When I was in elementary school, I used to love to write stories and enter writing contests. As I grew older, I  dreamed about writing a book one day, but I never imagined that book would be about recovering from breast cancer.

Health and fitness have been a passion of mine my entire life. When I was a kid I would watch my dad, a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff, practice karate and lift weights. He inspired  me to be strong and fit. I would read through his body building magazines and play with the weights that he kept in the garage while I watched for any sign of muscle to begin to show in my arms. Throughout my high-school years, I played on every sports team I could squeeze into my schedule. As I grew older and had children of my own, I loved cooking wholesome food, and learning everything I could about exercise and nutrition. In 2004 I was invited to a local yoga studio by a friend of mine and I was immediately hooked. I began to practice and study yoga regularly which motivated me to become a vegetarian and to focus even more on how I nourished my body. I became a certified yoga teacher in 2006 which was also the year that I graduated from the California College of Ayurveda with a certification as a Clinical Ayurveda Specialist. Ayurveda is the East Indian traditional system of medicine. The word itself means, the science of life. Like yoga, I was enthralled with Ayurveda from the moment I was introduced to it at a workshop in the yoga studio I attended. After graduation I began working at a wellness center where I developed lifestyle programs, and formulated herbal remedies for my clients based on Ayurveda principles.

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In 2010 I decided to take my exercise knowledge to the next level and I earned my personal training certification through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). I believed that I had a well-rounded understanding and approach to wellness and I was certain that I would live a long healthy life. Maybe I would even be one of those 80-year-old ladies who still looks great and does hot yoga every day because after all, I did all the “right” things to earn the privilege of a long, healthy life.

So, when I rolled over in bed on that sunny July morning in 2011, in my adorable condo thinking about my full, happy life and the fun of the upcoming 4th of July weekend and I felt a lump in my right breast, I was shocked. I had never had cystic breasts, so I knew right away that something wasn’t right. In 1993, my brother lost his young life to testicular cancer at the age of 32, and when I felt that lump, my heart dropped into my stomach as the memories of what he endured, and how it all ended came flooding back to me.  How could this be happening? This was not the way my life was supposed to go and certainly not the way it was supposed to end! I had so much living to do, children still to raise, cancer was not a part of my plan…until it was.

   I was diagnosed with stage 2, invasive ductile carcinoma on July 11th 2011. In August, after running through all of the scenarios for treatment options with my doctor, I had a lumpectomy because I thought that was the safest choice and the one that I  had the time, medical benefits and finances to deal with as a single working mother.

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During the lumpectomy, my doctor found that cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. The stage of my diagnosis was increased to 2B, and I was told I needed to have 6 rounds of TAC chemotherapy (Taxotere, Adriamycin, and Cyclophosphamide). To say I was devastated by that news would be an understatement. I just kept thinking about the suffering my brother endured for the last six months of his life. The suffering that I never wanted my children to have to watch anyone go through, especially not me. Fortunately, for me and my entire family, prescription management of the side effects of chemotherapy had come a long way since 1993, and even though my treatment wasn’t easy, it went better than my brother’s had and it had a better ending too.

While I was going through chemo, my post-surgical pathology revealed that I still had more cancer in my right breast. Because I was small breasted to begin with, it would have required as mastectomy to get all of the cancer and clear tissue margins around it.  At this point I wanted nothing more than to get this treatment done and never to have to deal with it again. I  was concerned that if  I  had only a single mastectomy, I would be back in that chemo chair in the very near future dealing with breast cancer again. Vanity also played a part in my decision because I wanted my breasts to be symmetrical and look somewhat normal after reconstruction. So, I made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy in March of 2012 followed by reconstructive surgery.

Between, expansion, infections, and slipping implants, I had four surgeries between March and November of  2012. I wrapped it all up by having my nipples tattooed on and I was officially done with everything in December of 2012.  Well, almost everything. I just had to figure out how to deal with the bone and joint pain, 40 lbs of weight gain, the neuropathy in my hands and feet, and accepting the changes that chemo had caused to my skin, my face, my eyes, my digestive system, and everything else in my body, including being chemically thrown into full-blown menopause!

I suppose this is where the real story began for me. During cancer treatment, I just had to follow the protocols, but when treatment was over and I had to deal with the aftermath, the struggle to regain my health was real and it took diligence, research, trial and error and more than a few frustrated tears.  However, it led my down a path of healing, growing and fueled a desire to serve others that I could never have imagined. Now, I use my experience with breast cancer, and my education as a Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Clinical Ayurveda Specialist, Personal Trainer and Yoga Teacher, to support other women who have survived breast cancer to find their way back to health.

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I believe that balance in all things is the healthiest way to live. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of ideas that did not contribute to my well-being while still pursuing the activities that I love the most including, playing with my grandchildren, yoga, challenging myself physically with exercise routines and mentally with practicing non-judgement (Of myself and others) and mindfulness. Now, I give myself permission to do what I can do, not necessarily what I used to do, or what everyone else is doing. I’m still a work in progress and some days are better, and easier than others, but every day I make a conscious decision to choose happiness and to fully participate in life.
I don’t take any medications now (lucky), and I concentrate on making my lifestyle my medicine and my vehicle to wellness.

Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com. Become a part of our thriving community of breast cancer survivors by following me on social media @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here , and subscribing to my podcast, “The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach”.

Until Next time,

Let your lifestyle be your medicine,
~Laura
Personal Branding and Business Headshots by TRUE BLUE Portrait

Find out more at LauraLummer.com