Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Part of the Cure:  The Big 3 (with tips and apps)

One of the first things I asked when diagnosed with cancer was "what should I be doing now?"  and the answer was "be in the best shape you can be - before, during, and after treatment."  Specifically, focus every day on the big 3:  exercise, nutrition, and sleep, so I can rebound as fast as possible after each chemo session to get ready for the next one. 

So far, it seems to be working - my cell counts are outperforming all expectations and I haven't gotten confined to the house yet.  The way I'm going, it looks as though I'll stay in the safe zone for another few weeks. That freedom is WELL worth the effort!  And if these boost an immune-compromised system, just think what they could do for me afterwards.

8 hours of Zzzzs
You'd think this would be the easiest, but getting 8 hours of sleep has been the hardest of the three.  I didn't know how long it took me to fall asleep and I normally wake up several times a night - so how much sleep was I really getting?   Fortunately, there was an app (and gizmo) for that.  

I bought a Jawbone fitness tracker:  FitBit is similar, but I liked being able to leave the Jawbone on my wrist 24/7, even in showers.  I was surprised to learn that I averaged only about 6 hours of sleep a night, most of it light sleep.  Solution:  earlier bedtime, stop staying up reading.  Tip:  using ZzzQuil for a few days promptly drops you off to sleep and makes the new bedtime feel natural quickly.  I wish ZzzQuil had been available when I was travelling for work in different time zones.

Energy begets energy
When you're tired after chemo, the last thing you want to do is exercise but it's precisely what you need to do to get your energy levels back up.  The Jawbone has proved to be invaluable for me here, as it counts my steps, lets me know when I'm below or have hit goal, and asks how I feel each day.   The iPhone tracking from it shows clearly that walking or bike riding creates a good day and starts the next day off strong. 
Apps:  use the apps MapMyWalk and MapMyRide to get an accurate read on distance and difficulty. I frequently have to stop or slow down now, but it's the total distance, not the time, which matters!  

Five anti-cancer superfoods which should be on your list
We all know we need a high fiber diet heavy in fruits and veggies, but I'm consistently finding these 5 superfoods on all lists of what to eat to prevent and to beat cancer:  broccoli/broccolini, spinach, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and garlic.  Tip:  Did you know garlic is a natural antibiotic?  It's antiviral and antifungal - so a marinara sauce with a lot of garlic can help keep you healthy. If you're feeling a bit run-down, make a reservation now at your local Italian restaurant! 

Know what to buy organic
What do you buy organic and what do you buy conventional?  Pesticides are strongly linked to cancer, so this isn't a treehugger question, it's important to know.  I can always remember apples should be organic, they're the #1 pesticide carrier, but it's tough to remember the rest. Apps:  Check out the app "Dirty Dozen" from the Environmental Working Group;  it gives you a list of the dirty dozen (top 12 pesticide-laden fruits/veggies which should always be purchased organic), and the Clean 15 (safe conventional produce). 

So that's been my focus last week - eat, walk, sleep.  Not exciting, but it's working! 

Thanks to Anne L., who shared this great video - some wonderful fighters out there!

Thanks to MaryJane R., who shared this post.  It is so true, as I couldn't do this without Gary and the support of some wonderful friends:

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