In this third of a series podcast episode, Valerie Sans shares how her cancer experience had a dramatic impact on her life. After surgery and chemo treatment, she left a career of teaching to co-found a travel company, French Escapade, and explored alternative healing modalities including the Budwig Diet, homeopathy, immunotherapy, Beljanski Protocol, acupuncture, Papimi, and a more plant-based diet.

For those of you unfamiliar with sophrology — which includes me — here’s an introduction. Valerie talks about meeting with a sophrologist as routine in the French healthcare system.

If memory serves me correctly, the phrase garbage in, garbage out refers to the quality of computer programming. But it can also be applied to how we eat. Think about it. You’ve heard we are what we eat, but…our poop definitely reflects what we eat. Indeed!

Okay, I crossed that line. I talked about poop. Since we now have poop emoji maybe the discussion is not as profane as it was when I was growing up.

I can’t remember ever being asked by a doctor about my poop/defecation/elimination routine. If you had diarrhea, you talked about it but it was not an in-depth conversation regarding the size, shape, and color of it.

In the mid-90s, when I first went to an acupuncture clinic, there was deep talk about some deep shit (ha!). Until that point I’d not really shared anything about my daily multiple bowel movements. I assumed I had IBS which every other woman I knew seemed to have. But the acupuncture practitioner spent time listening to what my diet consisted of – both food and beverages. She seized on my large glass of fresh organic orange juice each morning.

Even though I started eating a vegetarian diet in college, I still had some GI issues. Once I gave up the daily juice (huge blast of sugar in my system) and the inexpensive veggie restaurant meals, my GI system got some welcome relief. I became the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) poster child for the perfect one poop a day.

Another eye opener for me happened just a few years ago at a Stanford University Neuromuscular Patient Conference. A young charismatic gastroenterologist introduced the Bristol Stool Chart to us. She reviewed how to use it and gave it her MD blessing. Finally, there was a language to use to talk about poop and not feel juvenile.

Health Storylines Stool Diary Tool

The Health Storylines app has a Stool Diary feature that uses the Bristol Stool Chart to help you maintain a record of your elimination (or poop!). Now, why would you want to do this?

Lots of reasons. The first that comes to mind is to use it along with the Food Diary so you have a better understanding of what you eat and how your system responds. Garbage in, garbage out.

The second reason is cautionary. Just today I was reading an article, “How to Lower Your Risk of Cancer” in the April 2019 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter. Warning signs for colon and rectum cancer include diarrhea or constipation and bright red or very dark blood in your stool. Warning signs for esophagus cancer include black stools.

If you listened to an early podcast episode about a friend who battled colon cancer, you’ll recall she ignored some early signs of blood in her stool. Your body often sends you messages that you should be mindful of. Keeping track of what you eat and how your system responds is a good way to keep that conversation going.

In the second part of this podcast episode series Jeanette Marin shares her story about a thyroid cancer diagnosis and how it changed her life. Jeanette is married with 4 children and a stand-up comic.

To see Jeanette perform, follow her on social media: Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

How does a diagnosis of cancer and treatment change a person? In this 3-part series you’ll hear different stories on how a woman – diagnosed with cancer (breast, thyroid, and ovarian) – experienced the changes.

In part 1 Shannon Lee Knorr, a Pilates and yoga instructor, shares how her own yoga practice and teaching style changed.

So, what is fatigue? It’s not a fancy word. Most of us probably think it’s synonymous with being tired. But, is it?

Wikipedia’s entry for fatigue includes:

Fatigue is a subjective feeling of tiredness that has a gradual onset. Unlike weakness, fatigue can be alleviated by periods of rest. Fatigue can have physical or mental causes. Physical fatigue is the transient inability of a muscle to maintain optimal physical performance, and is made more severe by intense physical exercise. Mental fatigue is a transient decrease in maximal cognitive performance resulting from prolonged periods of cognitive activity. It can manifest as somnolence, lethargy, or directed attention fatigue.

There were frequent times when I felt like I had a good night’s sleep but I would experience sudden fatigue during the day. It didn’t make sense until I started paying attention to when the fatigue would appear. It took awhile before I fully understood a pattern and started to have more control over the bouts of fatigue.

Aside from doing my best nightly sleep hygiene, I changed my diet to smaller, more frequent meals. My body can’t handle larger meals nor certain types of food. Once I made these dietary changes, my bouts of fatigue became less frequent.

If you’re using the Health Storylines app, you might want to explore the Fatigue Manager tool to help you track and identify the cause of your fatigue.

Fatigue Manager Tool in Health StoryLines app

February 28 is International Rare Disease Day. There are over 6,000 rare diseases or disorders with 80% having genetic origins. Global events are planned to draw attention to the need for medical research.

This brief, light-hearted podcast episode shares a few less critical aspects to having a rare disease. For a deeper dive, check out last year’s Rare Disease podcast episode.

Make sure you become a Subscriber to our YouTube channel. All subscribers are entered into Glass Half Full give-aways. Picture yourself sipping your favorite warm beverage…

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An echocardiogram technician told me I have a beautiful heart and that got me going. What makes for good heart health? What role do genetics, lifestyle, and environment play?

Dr. Erica Pitsch talks about the Framingham Heart Study, John talks about congestive heart failure and Mended Hearts, and Saurabh shares how yoga and meditation help his stress level and coping with myotonic muscular dystrophy. For additional tips on heart health, check out the Harvard Heart Letter.

Earlier podcast episodes you may find of interest:

Hopefully you have already downloaded the Health Storylines app and are using it to record and monitor your self-care goals. If you’re new to our monthly Self-Care Challenge, check out this earlier post.

My recent podcast episode, Yoga & Walking: Ease Pain, Reduce Stress, focuses on Katrina, a yoga instructor’s health journey. Katrina discovered the healing benefits of yoga after experiencing prolonged back pain after an injury.

In the last few years Katrina became involved with Girl Trek, a national movement with the sole mission to get African-American women and girls walking. Walking together with friends or walking with a large group of women and making new friends.

Group of GirlTrekkers on a coastal hike

What do we know about the power of Walking?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the practice of walking has both physical and emotional health benefits such as:

  • Preventing or managing various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthening bones and muscles
  • Improving mood
  • Improving balance and coordination
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

When I began this monthly Self-Care Challenge, back in July of 2018, I bought a FitBit watch. This has been a very satisfying health investment. Unlike other electronics or gym accessory purchases, I still use the FitBit every day. How many stationery bikes or stair masters have you seen sitting on a neighbor’s front lawn at a garage sale or inside serving as a temporary wardrobe rack?

My FitBit has made me more aware of my daily movement — everything from intentional walks to doing house chores. They all add up as steps. Each hour my FitBit reminds me to get up off my butt and move. I glance at my steps throughout the day and half the time, an hour or so before bedtime, if I’ve hit 10,000 daily steps I am rewarded with a little noise and digital fireworks on the FitBit display.

My groovy FitBit watch

And Yes, that does motivate me.

You know what else motivates me? Seeing my progress in Health Storylines. It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to synch the FitBit.

Health Storylines Menu

First you want to select Sync a Device. Follow the steps to synch your FitBit or other supported devices (Nokia, iHealth, MapMyFitness, Runkeeper, Strava, Movable, Misfit, FatSecret, or VitaDock).

At any time you can visit My Storylines to see your daily progress with walking and other Self-Care activities you’ve chosen to monitor.

Only two days of hitting 10,000+ steps. I better get moving!

One yoga teacher’s health journey. Katrina LaShea was able to ease her back injury and subsequent ankle injury pain through a yoga practice. What once worked as a treatment, later became her passion. Today Katrina teaches yoga to African-American women and girls at GirlTrek retreats as well as at her Oakland yoga studio.

Beginning this February, the GirlTrek founders will be visiting 50 cities across the country bringing the message of radical self-care and healing at teach-ins and wellness festivals. The Road to Selma culminates this summer in Selma, Alabama.

Need help with sleep? David — resident DIY expert — explains how to decarb, squish, and infuse cannabis. Unfamiliar with these terms? No worries. These terms, and more, are explained for the novice. Podcast episode, and complementary YouTube video, demonstrate the processes involved with creating cannabis tinctures and infusions for making edibles.

An earlier podcast episode features six people sharing how cannabis helps with their physical and/or emotional challenges including cancer, depression, muscular dystrophy, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, bone fracture, and bipolar disorder.

Once you’re familiar with the process known as decarbing, you may want to check out this podcast episode featuring a fine dining chef who prepares meals infused with cannabis.