It’s Not About Calories

If you listen to media or look through any magazine, you would think we Americans are obsessed with our weight. And you are probably right. All the popular diet books preach that they have the answer to long-term weight loss, but they don’t emphasize the need to eat healthy. They do make billions of dollars every year selling the newest diet craze!  Even Weight Watcher’s, who has been around for years, makes most of their money selling their own brand of diet food. It comes in a box. Food in a box is not healthy, at least long-term. Any so-called nutrients are removed through processing and artificially re-added in some laboratory. Artificial anything cannot hold a candle to the real deal, Mother Nature.

These days our food not only contains chemicals, there are genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) we have to contend with and WE DO NOT EVEN KNOW WHICH FOODS CONTAIN THEM! (But we have a rough idea) That is because the chemical companies (like Monsanto) lobbied our government officials to prevent them from passing laws to get those foods labeled. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (like Kellogg’s, Pepsi, Con Agra) is guilty of this as well. However, they are willing to put information on their packaging that adds up to diddly squat and ends up confusing consumers even more. My recommendation is: don’t eat any of that crap. If you make your own: salad dressing, granola, etc. you at least know what’s in it. If you insist buying packaged foods, at least go for organic or NON GMO verified. Organic doesn’t mean there isn’t a bunch of sugar or salt added though.

We humans come in all shapes and sizes. I have been naturally slim most of my life but I still got cancer. I called my self a vegetarian for eight years prior to my cancer diagnosis. Eighty percent of my calories came from processed foods (made from GMO corn and soy). I ate cheese and yogurt and drank milk (with added rBGH) by the gallons. I love milk but now I know it is bad for my health so I stopped. I don’t even miss it anymore.

I was like you, the average American. I went to the store, picked out what I wanted and ate it. I never thought about it. If it was sitting on the grocery shelf, it had to be  safe to eat right?  After all, we have government agencies like the USDA and FDA that made sure our food was not only safe but is healthy. Boy was I wrong!

It took a cancer diagnosis to wake me up and inspire me to find out why I got sick. Colon cancer does not run in my family. Heart disease does so I figured I was eating the right foods to make sure my ticker kept ticking (my dad died of cardiomyopathy at fifty-three).  My radiologist told me to keep eating and it didn’t matter what I ate, just so I ate something (weight loss is the number one side effect for cancer patients. Chemotherapy and radiation can make food taste bad and some patients just doesn’t feel hungry). My doctor’s advice didn’t sound right to me so I went to my go to place when I need to verify information to be correct. All the cancer survivors I found ate healthy, organic, plant-based diets. That’s all I needed to convince me. If you want to be successful at something, find someone who already is and do what they do.


I now understand it isn’t all about being skinny. The majority of us will never look like the models on magazines covers and we now know that even their photos  are air-brushed!  The main thing to be healthy and feel good. It’s important to love ourselves enough to eat foods that keep our bodies running at their optimum best.


I came across a post by Dr. Lipman, integrative doctor and author, who calls himself a Health Evangelist (I love that!). He writes about the importance of eating healthy and forgetting about counting calories. Here’s a snippet of his article:

If you think that a calorie is a calorie – and it doesn’t matter if it comes from kale or cookies, then it’s time to rethink what you think you know about calories. Contrary to what your Momma, track coach or even Doctor led you to believe, all calories are NOT created equal, and thinking you’ll lose weight simply by counting them or cutting them will likely leave you hungry, irritable, malnourished and not much lighter than you were when you started. So instead of slashing and burning the caloric field, let’s level it with the following food for thought: read more here.

So throw away the scale and fill up your pantry and refrigerator with nutrient-rich foods. Your body will thank you.

Eat Your Veggies!




Cussing My Way Back to Health

Girl with Black Eye, 1953


I am not a “touchy, feely” person. I used to get in rock fights with boys when I was six years old. My rock fighting days came to an abrupt end when one of the boys threw part of a brick that nearly knocked my right eye out. I remember proudly showing my bloody war wound to my mom who almost fainted. When she recovered she called my dad, who told me over the phone that I was to start acting like a girl. Girls did not throw rocks. So when I entered the third grade I got in to fist fights with the boys on the playground.  I remember sitting in the principal’s office and being shown the “paddle.”  He told me, the only thing saving me from a good “paddling” on my behind was the fact I was a girl. I stopped fighting and graduated to “swearing.”

I grew up next door to a couple of retired Marines. They were husband and wife and they had a vocabulary that could strip the paint off a wall, especially when they were fighting. I was forbidden to get in to anymore physical fights so I picked up a few choice words from my neighbors that seemed to get the job done when it came to dealing with the opposite sex. During my years in grade school, I firmly believed that boys were stupid and if I couldn’t clobber one, I could tell them in a “colorful” way what I thought of them.

I didn’t know what cuss words actually were. They just sounded good to me, but that soon changed when I told my teacher that I knew “the goddamned answer!”  I found myself sitting in the principal’s office again getting a lecture about acting like a girl and that it was not lady-like to swear, and where did I hear that kind of language? Me being eight, I had no idea what he was talking about, so I asked him, “What the hell are you talking about?” And he replied (or did he yell?) “That’s exactly the type of word I am talking about!”

That afternoon I found out that a bar of soap does not taste very good. I also decided that being a girl and acting like a lady was not for me: too many restrictions.

Fast forward to when I was diagnosed with cancer. My first words were, “rectal cancer my ass!”  I was now a fifty-five year old female but my inner tomboy never went away. I now speak fluent smart-ass and on occasion throw down some f-bombs when needed — for emphasis.

My “scrappiness” helped me get through thirty radiation treatments. The actual radiation beam did not hurt but soon after (especially when I pooped) it felt like a hot poker being shoved up my ass. Don’t get me wrong, there were times I cried but not out of sadness — I was pissed off! Then my doctors introduced me to the wonderful world of pain killers and I became this bubbly, happy girl, who loved everybody.

Drugs turned me in to a mushy girly-girl, much to my family’s angst. Who was this person? James, my son, wanted his mom back. He was tired of living with a beauty pageant contestant.  I do recall waving at strangers and telling them, “Hi!” everywhere we went. My husband told me after I was well that my “niceness” was so over-the-top it made him nauseas. James picked fights with me to see if he could get me mad, but I always responded with some sticky sweet answer. The day I told him to “fuck off” he cried with joy!  His mom was back and he knew I would be ok!

Everyone has their own way to deal with a crisis and having cancer qualifies as a crisis… no matter what stage. I just think it’s better to get mad than feel like a victim. Anger is a good motivator. Feeling sorry for oneself just makes things worse. Having cancer sucks, no argument there, but getting depressed won’t change things either. I’m not saying it’s never ok to feel bad, just don’t get sucked into a “black hole.” It’s too hard to climb back out.


I took pain meds to control… pain. There are meds your doctor can prescribe that can help you deal with emotional pain. Smoking cannabis can help if you are open to that. I never had a bad time when I was stoned (but that’s another story). Talking to someone who has gone through what you are going through is also a good way to release anxiety. The American Cancer Society has a group called Imerman Angels. They match up cancer survivors with newly diagnosed patients. I am available to mentor as well. Just send me an email. You can find that information on the “My Story” section.

I firmly believe you are stronger than you think.

Be well,











“A bodhisattva doesn’t have to be perfect. Anyone who is aware of what is happening and who tries to wake up other people is a bodhisattva. We are all bodhisattvas, doing our best.”

By Thich Nhat Hanh

I came upon this quote today on a person’s blog that I follow. I am familiar with the term bodhisattva, I read about them in some other Buddhist literature. There are several bodhisattvas who work at the hospital where I volunteer, some are even patients, but they probably aren’t aware they are. If I were asked to explain what a bodhisattva is, I would say it’s anyone who wants to make life better for another sentient being without asking for anything in return. You probably know a few as well.

The Internet introduced me to a whole world of bodhisattvas. I am so grateful that I live in this age of technology (even though I get pissed off with it more than I like to admit). There have been so many bodhisattvas that directly affected and influenced my life, most of whom I never personally met. They shared their stories of healing; their strength and determination; they taught me healthy eating habits; they showed me new ways to see the world; they taught me that I matter. They reminded me that it’s ok to put myself first, to rest when I need it and to say “no.” They made me laugh. When I thought the world was “going to hell in a hand basket” and I thought nobody cared, bodhisattvas sent me invites to actions and events to tackle those problems that made me feel helpless.  They inspire to make me keep going and to work on becoming the best part of myself. They show me the glass is always full. I just need to know where to look.

Mister Rogers said, “Look for the helpers. Always look for the helpers.”

The bodhisattvas are those helpers.

How great is that!?

I bet if you think about it, you know a few bodhisattvas in your life who inspire you to be the best you can be.