Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Toxic Release?

I just received an online invitation to one of those weight loss body wrap parties.  This is so odd to me. (a party? at least 5 people?)  I somewhat understand the concept.  You wrap your body up like a mummy in cloth dipped in some kind of minerals.  You move around to sweat some, and an hour later you remove the wrap along with the toxins in your system.  As a result you have lost inches.  Sounds like a quick fix to me, I really wonder how long it would last, because getting fit is more of a lifestyle change than it is the quick fix.  I hope the quick results do motivate some to change their habits to maintain it.

So what caught my eye...  Someone asked how long it lasts.  Here's part of that answer "If you drink a lot of diet soda, smoke or do a lot of tanning, you will have more toxins in your body.  The wrap will still work, but it may take more applications due to the toxins in  your body"  It goes on to talk about results varying, lifestyle, etc..

I was glad to see that it mentioned tanning.  In the melanoma and skin cancer community we all know all about the damage that tanning causes our skin. I know the answer says that it is due to more toxins, but I have heard of a tan being related to a scab as your body heals itself.  I wonder if the toughened, damaged skin also makes it more difficult for the skin to release the extra toxins gained by tanning.  Could be quite the cycle there..

Reclaiming My Health

I am reclaiming my health.  One step at a time.

This is long, but bear with me.

Growing up I was very athletic.  I was in amazing physical condition and my weight was never truly an issue for me.  Sure I let my weight conscious friends get to me from time to time, but it never really stuck.  Once I became a mother, then divorced at 21, depression and hormones kicked in.  Fast forward to age 35, I am obese.

Back in 2004 and 2005, I worked in a gym.  I was overweight, but I worked out with the members, and we all shared in our results together.  It really was a win-win situation.   The owner was an AdvoCare distributor.  She started out by telling me about all the products, so that I could sell them. I was immediately in love with the Spark.  It is an energy drink, composed of all vitamins, but the reason I was hooked, was the mental focus it provides.  I also began using Catalyst.  It aids in protecting the muscles, post workout so that the fat is attacked and the muscle is able to recover faster.  Just using those two products, I lost the most weight I had lost since having my son.  Eventually the gym closed up, the owner moved to Florida, and I took as much Spark and Catalyst with me as I could.  After my daughter was born, I could not find the owner/distributor, so I was at a loss.  I would see a car with a AdvoCare logo on it, but never could get the number off of it.

So from 2006-2010, I tried diet after diet.  None stuck. Add to that frustration that as I was starting to feel results in the gym, toning wise.  I was diagnosed with melanoma.  I had incisions in my right arm, left calf, then later my left arm, right thigh, abdomen.... Working out at the gym has become almost nonexistent.  I would do yoga, Zumba, belly dancing, walking.  Nothing worked like strength training.  Just having muscle burns fat.  I needed muscle, but couldn't work out to get it.

In September, I was at a festival, and there was an AdvoCare booth.  As I got closer, it was a friend of my aunt and uncle.  I ran up and said "You sell AdvoCare, I need Spark!"  As soon as I got that first canister, clarity began to return.  I felt better, I got things done that my husband was always frustrated with me for not doing.  I was happy, not tired all the time.  I even finally managed the transition from night owl to early bird that my children's schools required.  I don't nap during the day anymore. It is great.

So how does melanoma tie into all this?  In December, I had a biopsy done from the top of my original melanoma scar.  It came back as lentigo maligna.  It was described to me as an age spot, but as I did my own research, I found that it is actually a precursor to melanoma in situ.  In the exact spot my melanoma was removed from!  Whether they were concerned or not, it freaked me out.  Over the course of the past 2 years, by changing eating habits (paying attention to how each food made me feel and adjusting accordingly), I had lost from a size 24 to 18, but had drifted back up to a 20 through the holidays.  I decided that if the beast was trying to worm its way back into my life, I needed to be as healthy as possible to fight it.  Maybe I was being alarmist and exaggerating, but it was definitely motivation.

So in January, I did AdvoCare's 24 Day Challenge.  I was in a very tight size 20 when I started.  By day 9 I had lost 6".  At the end of the challenge I had lost 6 lbs and 10.25".  I was comfortable in a size 18.  I had a head cold the entire time, so I did not exercise.  I just took the supplements, which are not diet pills, to balance out my nutrition and ate smart.  I can say one thing, even had I not lost inches or pounds, I felt so amazing.  Let me repeat that, even sick, I have felt AMAZING.  As a result, my husband is now drinking Spark and taking the supplements. One of my friends is doing the challenge now, not to lose, just to become more healthy.  My cousin is about to do it too.  I noticed something yesterday.  My newest spot on top of my scar was itching.  As I rubbed it, I realized that my arm underneath was feeling firmer than it had in a while.  I looked closer, and the scar is not as puckered up on the ends as it was, my skin isn't as stretched.  It's the little differences that will add up into one big difference...

I know this has been long.  I wanted to share what is going on with me, what I am excited about, and why I have neglected this blog and my facebook page the past few weeks. I'm getting healthy again. I can share about melanoma being a motivating factor for me.  I am really happy.  Don't worry, I wont be pushing product or anything like that.  I do want you to know that this opportunity is out there.  I will have a link to my AdvoCare store on my blog.  I may occasionally update on my personal progress but I'm not going to keep bringing it up.

So if you are curious about the Challenge, you can learn more here.  If you want to learn about Spark or Catalyst you can click them, or contact me. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Campaigns and Our Stories

Yesterday my friend posted this picture of a poster she saw in the dermatologist on her Facebook page. I cant find a link online (if anyone can, send it to me and I will trade it out), and this is a picture of the poster, so it is a little blurry.  It says "80 PERCENT OF SUN DAMAGE BEGINS BEFORE AGE 18"  and below "PROTECT YOUR KIDS WHILE THEY'RE STILL KIDS. SUNSCREEN, PROTECTIVE CLOTHING, AND COMMON SENSE CAN PREVENT PREMATURE AGING AND EVEN SKIN CANCER"  Since my personal feeling is that kids need to be taught about sun protection early, because it just needs to be a part of their lifestyle, I liked it.  

Well, one of her friends commented that she didn't feel the poster was effective and that it didn't make her want to apply any more sunscreen to her children than she already does.  While we can all agree that the effectiveness of a campaign also depends on the receptiveness of the audience, I did chose to focus on the "than I already do" part of her comment.  It made me think a little beyond "Ooh, I haven't seen that one. I like it"

It is hard to imagine an infant still in diapers with sun damage and premature aging.  It is much easier to take a group of 20-30 year olds who have varying degrees of age spots and wrinkles and be shocked that they are all the same age category.  Although I have age spots, with make up they blend with my freckles (I know they are there), I am often told that I look like I am closer to 30 or even 25, than 35.  I was even mistaken for a high school student last August, I think that is a far stretch. There are people in the 25-30 range that look much older than I do.    

When I was 20, a work friend revealed to me that her twin sister had come to town.  She was excited to see her, but even though they were identical twins, they looked very different now.  They both had fair skin and red hair.  My friend had never tanned and was dedicated to her skin care routine, her sister on the other hand, did not. She said her sister looked to be about 35-40, I was shocked and said she looked to be about 25 at most.  She thanked me and revealed that they were 30.  From that point forward, even though I tanned, I was very diligent with my skin care routine.  I think that would make for a very effective campaign. I also think that personally knowing someone who was an example, perfect DNA proof, had a big impact on me.

Back to this picture, and the comments associated with it.

Another friend commented that she had received all of her skin damage as a child, and years later she did have skin cancer on her face.  She asked if that was more effective.  My friend responded with the following, "You and my friend Tara are the most persuasive examples to me of why I should be more concerned about mine and my children's skin health. (Tara had melanoma on her arm and just had some precancerous cells removed from the scar from her first surgery.) This poster is effective enough for me, but it's not nearly as effective as knowing people I care deeply for have been effected by skin cancer themselves."  This is not the first time that she has shared with me that she is now more sun-aware and sun-safe as a result of knowing me and what I went through.  

I believe that campaigns like this are effective.  Some more so than others.  You see a poster like this and you think. You wonder why it is there, what the message is, and hopefully are receptive and curious enough to look further into it.  They plant a seed.  They open or at least crack the door.  They are a conversation starter, just as my friend proved by sharing it.

The important thing though is that we, the survivors, advocates, loved ones, warriors, friends and family, have to keep sharing.  We have to put a face to this disease.  The real disease, not the "got it cut out and fine now side"  We have to share so that our friends, family, and loved ones will know.  So they will share themselves, so that they will notice that odd poster on the doctors office wall and look closer and start their own conversation.  If we keep it to ourselves, that door that is cracked by the poster, wont be opened by knowing a familiar face.

Think about it.  When you see a ribbon of any color, how often do you think of a friend or loved one that was affected in some way by that disease?  Yes, you think of the cause, but you also think of that familiar face.  You can detach from that ribbon or poster, but if you know someone, then it becomes personal.

Unfortunately, we are the face of this beast, and we need to make sure people know about it on a personal, not detached level.