The Mother I Was Meant To Be

Crush1 (1)She wanted to wait until the timing felt right. She wanted to be settled in her career and give her husband a chance to finish grad school. She wanted two children, one boy and one girl, like she’d grown up with (although she knew she would be happy just as long as they were healthy). She wanted to eat all the right foods, take all the right vitamins, read all the best books. She wanted to wear cute maternity outfits and to be told she was “glowing” even when she felt like an overstuffed whale. She wanted to call her parents and her best friends with the “news” and to hear their excitement. She wanted to commiserate and celebrate with the other moms about all the difficult and exciting milestones. She wanted a natural birth. After years of watching her mother as a midwife she knew that for certain. She wanted to come up with her birth plan knowing full well that it’s nearly impossible to plan something as unpredictable as giving birth. She would definitely breastfeed her baby. She would pick out a name from a list in a notebook she had kept since high school. She would go through the messy miracle of birth and come out the other side a part of an ancient tribe of women who have created life. She had never once questioned wanting all of this, never once doubted her dedication to motherhood. It was a job she knew she was born to do.

And then…she got cancer.

At 30 years old, in the same exact month my husband and I had decided to start trying for a family I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. It was stage 2 but incredibly aggressive. On the day I was diagnosed I told the doctors without a moment’s hesitation that I didn’t care if I kept my breasts I just wanted to save my fertility. I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to go through fertility treatments and freeze my embryo before I started chemo, a chance which, tragically, far too many young people are denied. At the time, I reassured myself with the thought that even if chemo destroyed my fertility and the mastectomy took away my chances of breastfeeding I’d still be able to get pregnant someday.

After a year of treatment, including 20 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy and 5 weeks of radiation I was declared cancer-free and sent on my way. I fully embraced life and adventure during those precious months when I thought I had beaten cancer, including a trip with First Descents rock climbing in Moab (link to post about trip?). But they were short lived. Just four months after treatments ended in January of this year I found a pea sized lump near my clavicle. One biopsy and a PET scan later and my worst fears were confirmed. I was diagnosed with what the doctors assumed was Stage 4 cancer. (The lump near my clavicle made it Stage 3C, but a spot that lit up on the scan in my mediastinum, which they presumed was cancer, made it Stage 4. That spot has not lit up on any subsequent scans.) That’s the stage that comes with labels like “terminal” and “incurable.”

In those first months after my recurrence being a mother was the furthest thing from my mind. All I wanted was to survive the year, to have more time with my husband, to find ways to show the people I loved how much I loved them. In my mind I was planning my own funeral while simultaneously fighting like hell to stick around. After 12 different doctors told me my cancer was chemo-resistant, radiation-resistant, inoperable and didn’t qualify for any available clinical trials I finally found an oncologist with an out-of-the-box approach who began treating me with a very promising, albeit extremely complex, protocol. It was expensive and I’d have to pay for it all out-of-pocket but it was my life and I had basically been given no other option. Nearly nine months later and the treatments appear to be doing their job. My small tumor is shrinking out of existence and growing increasingly dimmer on every scan.

As the cancer faded from my PET scans so it faded from the forefront of my mind. It stopped ruling every waking moment of every day, stopped dictating every decision, every emotion. I finally began to feel safe in my own skin again. I could finally see a future in front of me that stretched out past the next few days, weeks and months. I could breathe again.

It was only then, when I had finally managed to take a few steps back from the fear I’d been holding onto, that I realized an unexpected grief had moved into its place. I hadn’t noticed it until my husband received a call from a friend one day to tell us she was pregnant. The appropriate response would obviously have been joy and excitement for this dear friend of ours. Instead, I fell completely to pieces. I hid away trying to muffle my heaving sobs. It felt as though my heart had been ripped out of my chest. A numbness eventually overtook me followed by depression. My completely disproportionate reaction ultimately had very little to do with my friend and everything to do with the fact that my brain finally had the space to process the unspeakable truth: I would never get to become the mother I was meant to be.

The emotional reality of this truth is incredibly difficult to explain and filled with embarrassment and shame. I have unwieldy and unpredictable reactions to even the most subtle references to pregnancy. When a friend talks about “having kids someday” with an air of nonchalant certainty it can cut like a knife. Being in my early 30’s there is a Facebook pregnancy announcement, what feels like, every day.

My brain seems to have strange rules about whether or not I find a new pregnancy upsetting. If they already had kids before I had cancer I’m not bothered. If they had trouble getting pregnant or had to use some non-traditional route I can handle it. If I rarely see them anymore or we aren’t close it doesn’t faze me (much). But if someone close to me gets knocked up the good old fashioned way it ignites a feeling much deeper than jealousy. It’s an absolutely overwhelming incomprehension of how this is my reality.

That mother that I had planned on being was such a deep part of my identity, deeper even than what I do for a living now and even who I married, because it has always been there for as long as I can remember. It’s like a child who dreams their whole life of being a pilot, envisioning an entire life spent flying through the skies, and arrives for the first day of training to discover their eyesight isn’t good enough. Except every other person in that child’s life and nearly every person they meet and, indeed, most of the people in the world at some point in their lives get to be pilots, whether they wanted to be or not. They all get to fly and become all consumed by it and she has to stay put on the ground. And to make matters worse, in one way or another, nearly everything society values revolves around being able to be a pilot. It’s devastating to be that earth-bound child who wants nothing more than to fly.

On top of my well of grief are lots of other complicated emotions. I feel incredibly guilty for feeling this way. I just want to have joy for my friends’ joy and to celebrate new life unabatedly and be there for them when it gets hard. I feel sad and selfish that I’m not more emotionally available for my pregnant and parenting friends. I also feel guilty for even talking about having kids someday. I am surrounded by young people who don’t know if they will survive the next few months, or years, let alone long enough to have kids. I feel afraid of the day when even closer friends get pregnant and I worry tremendously about my ability to really be there with them and for them in a deep and meaningful way. And I feel deeply excluded from an ever growing community of women in my life who have had an experience I may never get to have. I’m on the outside of the mommy club when all I ever wanted was to be its pack leader.

Emotions aside, the logistics of this truth are also tricky. I know everyone wants to jump to solutions and thanks to technology there are many available to us today. Here are the facts as I understand them. I could adopt but it can be extremely difficult to do so when you have a terminal diagnosis on your medical charts. There are “cancer friendly” adoption agencies and even “cancer friendly” adoption countries but generally it’s even harder than a regular adoption process which is already extremely difficult and most of them require you are cancer free for a certain number of years and I have no idea how long it could take to reach that point. Emotionally I’m also not certain I could bear being viewed as an unfit mother not to mention that fact that, as selfish as it may seem, I would still like the chance to have my own biological children if at all possible.

Even though my fertility seems to be shot by the tremendous amount of chemo my body sustained I could still theoretically get pregnant with my frozen embryo. However, even if the cancer disappeared tomorrow I’d still need to be on preventative treatments for years to come, possibly for the rest of my life, and I can’t get pregnant while I’m on them. I just don’t know if I’ll ever feel safe enough to go off treatments considering how intensely aggressive this cancer has proven itself to be. And despite the lack of statistics on the link between pregnancy and recurrence I’ve worked so hard to create some balance in my body and nothing throws that off like pregnancy. Would I be willing to risk my life further just as I am bringing a new one into the world? I’ve found it an impossible question to answer.

Then there is surrogacy. While this option would still leave me without the experience of pregnancy like adoption, unlike adoption I may still be able to have my own children with my own embryo. The main obstacle in this case is primarily financial. We already spend about one whole salary on my treatments each year and hiring a surrogate costs at least that much. It’s incredibly difficult for me to imagine a day when we would be able to afford this option but it is definitely the most hopeful one available and the one that I cling to with the most optimism.

When my heart first broke over my new reality I was determined to come to terms with never getting to be a mother. There were too many unknowns, too many miracles that stood between me and motherhood to get my hopes up. But that sunk me into a deep depression and I realized that this life that I have been working so hard to save didn’t really have meaning if I didn’t get to become a mother someday. So I decided to do what I have become really good at doing over the last few years: fight. If I am capable of fighting off death surely I can find a way to fight for a new life. And like everything with cancer, I know I will not have to do it alone.

If there is one thing that cancer has taught me it’s that I am utterly and completely dependent on the people and communities around me. I wouldn’t be here today if my friends and family hadn’t cared for me throughout my first round of treatments and then raised money to help us cover the cost of my current treatments. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for brilliant scientists, courageous doctors and dedicated healers. The thought that someone, whether she is a stranger or a friend, might someday carry my child for me fills me up with such a tremendous gratitude for the generosity of the human spirit that it leaves me speechless. I have no idea how or when it will happen but I will be a mother someday. And I’ll tell my children that not only did their mother fight to save her own life but she fought like hell to create theirs.

KC_headshot_smallKATIE (CRUSH) CAMPBELL IS ORIGINALLY FROM MICHIGAN AND CURRENTLY LIVES WITH HER PARTNER, HER DOG AND HER CAT IN WASHINGTON, DC. BY DAY SHE WORKS ON INTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY AT ACTIONAID USA WHICH GIVES HER THE OPPORTUNITY TO TRAVEL ALL OVER THE WORLD. BY NIGHT AND ON THE WEEKENDS CRUSH CAN BE FOUND IN HER LOCAL CLIMBING GYM, BIKING, HIKING OR CAMPING WITH FRIENDS, PLAYING AROUND WITH ONE OF HER MANY CAMERAS OR WHIPPING UP A DELICIOUS VEGAN MEAL. FOLLOW CRUSH ON HER OWN BLOG AT www.katiecrushescancer.com.

 

A Look Inside First Descents Partner: Fishpond

First Descents is so lucky to have the opportunity to partner with amazing companies and organizations that are dedicated to making a difference in the world, and Fishpond is no different. FD and fishpond have been partnering for several years, and their commitment to spreading and supporting our mission has helped the growth of our organization. We took the time to interview Ben Kurtz, President of Fishpond, and he shared with us how Fishpond is making a difference, and how their company stands apart from the others.

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1. Tell us a bit about your company. How was it started, and by whom?

The company was started 17 years ago by our partner in the business. When he started it he felt that there was a huge lack in innovation within the fly fishing industry. Everything was khaki and green, and used inferior fabrics. With the launch of fishpond he brought practical designs, as well as color to a otherwise stagnant market.

2. How is your company influencing the outdoor industry?
We continue to push innovation of the industry the outdoor industry, as well as set benchmarks for others to try and reach. We recently became the first company within the fly fishing industry to become B-Corp Certified, and we believe that by leading the charge we will push others to evaluate their commitment to the environment and ethics. We also are currently the only company within the fly fishing space that makes nearly our entire line out of recycled fabrics.
3. What is your connection to First Descents? Tell us what First Descents means to fishpond.
I was introduced to FD back in 2008 when I was living in Vail. I instantly admired the organization, energy, and mission. My mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer before I was born, however she is living cancer free to this day, so it’s something that resonates with me at my core.
4. First Descents’ motto is Out Living It. Can you give us a description on what that means to you, and fishpond?
For me personally it means to live life to it’s fullest, and to be out enjoying the outdoors. Life is full of challenges, but it’s how you approach and tackle those challenges that dictates the outcome. At fishpond we have always believed that it’s not about the fish, but it’s about the journey that fishing takes you on.
5. Why is it important for your company to give back?
Giving back to organizations and causes has always been at the core of our business. Being a small company we cannot always financially afford to write checks, however we try and be dynamic in our approaches to maximize the impact. We often donate through percentage of sales efforts, time, outreach, and political means. We feel that we have a responsibility to give back by whatever means we can. Through our voice and support we hope to bring exposure to whatever issues are at hand.

FDhealthy: Phytonutrients: Eating The Rainbow

FullSizeRender (5)Hello FD!

In my previous articles I have talked a lot about phytonutrients/phytochemicals and how they are important to our overall health. Since this is a relatively new branch of nutrition based research, I wanted to talk a little about what phytonutrients are and what benefits they actually bring to the table (pun intended).

When you break down the word, ‘phyto’ meaning ‘plant’, and ‘nutrient’ meaning a substance that nourishes a living being, it is pretty self explanatory. Together the word phytonutrient refers to the approximate 100,000 chemicals that occur naturally in plants and help protect them from germs, fungi, bugs and other threats. When we consume these phytonutrients, we are able to reap the benefits of their protective functions. Some of the more popular of phytonutrients we have been able to study include carotenoids, flavonoids, resveratrol, ellagic acid, glucosinolates, and phytoestrogens. Each of these have different properties, colors and benefits and can be found in different types of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and teas. Even more interesting is that some phytonutrients are absorbed better if they are consumed with fat, water or paired with certain other phytochemicals. This is why it is important to have a varied and colorful diet, to ensure that you are feeding your body a healthy spectrum of nutrients and allowing them their best chance of absorption.

An easy way to get a boost of phytonutrients into your daily routine is by making a smoothie for breakfast or a quick afternoon snack. Try this delicious peach smoothie recipe to get started! Remember, you can use any fresh fruits and vegetables you have around the house to help keep an exciting and varied diet.
Sunrise Smoothie

Citrus Ginger Peach with Green Tea

Yield: 16 oz. – Recommended 8 oz. serving size

In a high power blender combine:

1 cup green tea, brewed and chilled

1 whole orange, peel removed

1 whole lemon, peel removed

1 whole peach, cut in half and remove the pit (Mango also works nicely)

2 small chunks frozen banana (about 1/3 of a banana)

Blend until smooth and enjoy the sunrise!

Tip: Brew a little extra tea when you have your afternoon cup and put the extra in a jar to chill in the fridge and use in your smoothie the next morning.  You can also pour tea into ice cube trays and use the ‘tea ice’ in your smoothies to make a frosty drink.

Source: Jenna Ortner, aka Lambchop

Below is a quick introduction to which phytonutrients are found in fresh fruits and vegetables and what their benefits are. I encourage you to check out the links at the bottom and do some research on your own to learn more about phytochemicals and how you can incorporate them into your daily life. Cheers!
Kinja

phytonutrient chart 2

Source: apathtohealth.wordpress.com

 

References on Phytonutrients:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/phytonutrients-faq?page=2

http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/phytonutrients/

Bio PicMy FD name is Kitchen Ninja (Kinja). I am from Auburn, AL. I graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a Bachelors in Culinary Nutrition. I am currently Sous Chef at Linger in Denver. My passion is creating nutritious food for others and spreading knowledge of health through food and cooking.

 

 

 

DO THE KIND THING

Now through August 18th, KIND is raising money for First Descents.
Over the next month, both of our organizations will be sharing stories from the members of KIND and our own staff of who’s keeping us inspired to be ‪#‎OutLivingIt‬, and they want you to do the same. For every story you share with a photo of you and someone who inspires you, use #OutLivingIt and KIND will donate $1 to FD. It’s all part of their ongoing book proceeds program for Do The KIND Thing. Click below to learn more- and check out the campaign on Facebook (@KINDsnacks), Twitter (@KINDsnacks), and Instagram (@kindsnacks)

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Wildflower Program Report

OBX 4Surfing with FD and Farmdog Surf School in the Outer Banks, NC is a true treat. The ocean turned on the waves to provide some spectacular conditions for the participants who journeyed from all parts of the country to join the FD family and shred the GNAR! For three days we donned our skin tight wetsuits, lathered ourselves with sunscreen and paddled our way through the crashing waves. There were moments of triumph, when someone would catch a wave, pop up into their surfer stance and ride into the beach over the roar of their FD friends cheering them on. There were also the wipe outs, when the waves would be a rainbow of brightly colored surfboards and their rider tumbling about in the whitewash.

OBX 3Every time, either after a great ride or a great wipe out the surfer would bust through the surface of the ocean with a smile as wide as the horizon. Farmdog and his team of instructors swam endlessly in the surf help us catch waves as well as helping us get back on our boards after a gnarly wipeout. They were also the varsity team at making delicious smoothie drinks back at the Farmdog Surf Shop after each day on the ocean. I was so stoked to be back in the field leading and being part of such an amazing week in OBX. Thank you to Farmdog Surf School and the FD staff and volunteers who made this program such a great success. The biggest thank you goes out to the participants who faced their fears with grace and determination and showed us all what it means to truly be “Out Living It”, you all made this Wildflower very proud! – Wildflower

 

 

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FD Healthy: Reading Nutrition Labels

Reading Nutrition Facts on Packaged Food | By Clara Darling

When trying to make informed decisions about what we are eating, we must always look at the nutrition facts on the packaging to see what is contained in a product and what our body will get out of it. When you want to know if a product contains soy, or when you want to know the sugar content in a beverage, all this information will be offered under the nutrition facts panel. Since this is the go to spot for most of your product inquiries, it is important to know how to decipher the nutrition facts and understand what they are really saying.

nutrition labelNutrition Facts labels are be broken down into 5 basic sections, not including the ingredient lists.

1. The first section tells you the serving size as well as servings per container. Sections 2-5 are then all based on amounts per that serving size. This is very important because more often than not the listed serving size will vary from what you actually consume. For example, a can of soda will have a serving size of half a can, but are you going to only drink half a can of soda? Probably not, in which case you will need to double all the listed nutrient amounts in order to get an accurate count of what you are consuming.

2. This section tells you how many calories are in a product and how many of those calories come from fat. Again keep in mind the serving size. If a serving size is ⅔ a cup, and you consume 1 full cup, the amount of calories consumed will be higher.

3. Section three describes the nutrients that should be limited in your diet: saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. Notice that only saturated and trans fats are listed here, not monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. This is because unsaturated fats are good healthy fats that our body needs to function properly. You will also notice that percentages are now shown to the right of each nutrient. These percentages are based off the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) published by the Institute of Medicine, which establish what amount of nutrients are appropriate for our daily consumption. These are discussed more in section 5.

4. Listed here are the nutrients that we typically need more of: dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. The exception here is sugar, which is listed in this section because along with dietary fiber it makes up the total carbohydrates in a product. Unlike dietary fiber however, you want to limit your sugar intake. There are natural sugars in most foods remember, so here we are talking mainly about added sugars from cane sugar, beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup, even honey or agave.

5. The last section is a footnote that focuses specifically on the Percent Daily Values mentioned earlier. The information shown here is based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet. This is very important, as very few of us consume only 2,000 calories a day. Depending on your age, height, gender, activity level you may need to consume more or less than 2,000 calories a day. And if you are trying to lose or gain weight, your calories will vary even more. To find out a basic estimate for your personal calorie needs, click here. Also in this section you will see a comparison of DRI recommendations based on both a 2,000 calorie and a 2,500 calorie diet. This is a good quick reference for figuring out how much of a nutrient you should be consuming. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat or sodium), choose foods with a lower % DV- 5 percent or less. If you want to consume more of a nutrient, such as fiber, seek foods with a higher % DV- 20 % or more.

Separate from the nutrition facts, but equally important, is the ingredient list. Here is where you can find what foods are actually in a product. The tricky part can be deciphering what some of these foods are and how much of them are in that package. The two main things to keep in mind when reading ingredient lists are (1) the order and (2) multiple names being used for the same product.

ingredient labelOrder: Ingredients are always listed from greatest quantity to least. Hint, if sugar is listed first, you probably don’t want it. Keep in mind that this list can be skewed; if you look at the label on salsa, tomatoes will obviously be listed first, but it could still contain a lot of sugar, salt, preservatives and additives. Hydrogenated fat could be listed last, but could still be in a higher quantity than desired.

Ingredient Names: Certain ingredients go by more than one name, which can make it difficult if you are trying to limit certain ones in your diet. Three big ones are sodium, sugar and trans fat. Sodium can be listed as salt, sodium benzoate, disodium, sodium nitrite or monosodium glutamate (MSG). Sugar can be in the form of cane sugar, beet sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose, agave or honey. Trans fats are usually listed as hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil. It can take time to really understand all of these, so if you are not sure what a word is on a food label, look it up!

Nutrition labels and ingredient lists may not reveal everything about a product from an ethical standpoint: how the farm workers are being treated, if they are using proper crop rotation, if they are giving back to their community, etc. However, for an instant decision in that grocery aisle when trying to buy the best product, what these labels can give you a is good base of understanding and a comparison between that product and its competitors.

For more detailed information on food labeling and nutrition facts, here is a link to the FDA Labeling & Nutrition Page: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm#see1

Bio PicMy FD name is Kitchen Ninja (Kinja). I am from Auburn, AL. I graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a Bachelors in Culinary Nutrition. I am currently Sous Chef at Linger in Denver. My passion is creating nutritious food for others and spreading knowledge of health through food and cooking.

 

 

FD Healthy: Impostor Health Foods

Impostor Health Foods | By Clara Darling

As we all know, there is always some new diet to try, new code word to look for, or new superfood that ‘cures everything’. We continue to give in to all these sales pitches in hopes that this time it will work, somehow forgetting the 20 previous fads we followed that did not work. We all do it, but why? Everyone wants to believe they are choosing what is healthy for them as well as their families, and most people learn what to think is healthy by reading articles online and in magazines as well as word of mouth from people around them. It doesn’t take much more than a statement that something is healthy, maybe some vague statistics, to make us believe it is true, because why would anyone lie about that?

Companies know this. They use it to their advantage. All businesses want to make money, and in order to do that they must somehow convince consumers that their product is the best, is unique in some way. This is why food labels often contain statements such as “all natural”, “organic”, “free range”, “made with real sugar”, “low sodium”, “paleo”, “vegan”, “non-GMO”, “fair-trade”, “local” and of course all the “frees”: “Gluten free”, “wheat free”, “fat free”, “sugar free”, “soy free”, “free of artificial colors and sweeteners”, “water free.” Ok I made that last one up but you get picture. All of these labels have good intention, however they quickly lose their meaning as companies find ways to manipulate these words, and make money doing so. So we create new words to convey health once the old ones lose meaning, and it snowballs to the point that no one knows what to buy anymore.

I wish there was an easy answer to all this, but the truth is there is no easy answer. There never will be. Mindless shopping and mindless eating is no longer an option for anyone wanting to live a healthy lifestyle. We have to think about where we shop, what we buy when we shop, where those products were made and most importantly how they interact with our bodies. Simply eating organic or eating gluten free isn’t enough. The food industry today is designed to keep you blind and confused. Don’t let it. Do your research and use your intuition. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Below is a list of five common impostor health foods that may seem like a good choice, but are often just empty calories with a pretty label.

1.) Free Food

Let’s back up to the word “free.” This one word is used to articulate product values across our grocery stores, but what does it really mean? In an ideal world, free means good, it means we don’t have to worry about something unhealthy being in our food. However, when a food is free of one thing, you can be guaranteed that it has been replaced with another to keep the flavor, texture and/or color recognizable. Usually this replacement will be something of equal or lesser value to your body, i.e. fat replaced by sugar, gluten grains replaced with a combination of processed starches and gums containing no nutritive value.

For example, when fat is taken out of ranch dressing, the taste is no longer appealing, so companies will add extra sugar and artificial flavors to mask it. Once it tastes better, they still need to add thickeners and artificial colors to make it look and feel like ranch (since the fat is what made the ranch thick and creamy in the first place). In the end you have a product, that although it is fat free, it is high in sugar and artificial processed bits that are no better for you.

Now this does not mean you should go douse all your salads in original ranch dressing, but on the occasion that you do, at least know what you are putting in your body.


How much sugar2.) Beverages

We all know that sodas are full of sugars and artificial flavors, but what about all those other drinks you buy at the store? Vitamin waters, sweetened teas, energy drinks, all of these things contain just as much sugar, if not more, than regular sodas. Read the labels, compare them to the label on a soda bottle, and pay attention to serving sizes. The label may say 38g of sugar, but a serving size is half a bottle. So if you drink the whole bottle you are getting 76g of sugar. As a comparison, the maximum amount of daily sugar suggested by the American Heart Association is 25g for women and 37.5g for men. Again, if you drink that whole bottle with 76g of sugar, you are getting over the daily maximum in one sitting.

Your best bet is always to just drink water. Water is necessary for every function of our body, and our level of hydration directly affects our concentration and mood throughout the day. If you need something with more flavor, put lemon, lime or cucumber in your water. Choose flavored soda water, unsweetened teas, or coconut water. You will be surprised by how much more energy you have during the day if you stay hydrated and avoid sweet beverages that spike your blood sugar.

3.) Yogurt (and granola)

This one is a particularly slippery slope, as it is often associated with healthy living in our country. To be clear, yogurt and granola can be an excellent health food. It contains many of the necessary nutrients our body craves: protein , fiber , carbohydrates , healthy fats, as well as assorted micronutrients (vitamins. minerals and phytonutrients). However not all yogurt and granola combos are the same, and most are not up to par with what could be considered healthy. Companies use advertising to make you assume that these products are good for you, when in all reality many of them are high in processed sugar, low in fiber and micronutrients. On top of that, the sourcing for their yogurt is often from cows raised on antibiotics and GMO corn, their granola from pesticide covered grains, their fruit preserved with extra sugar, and all of it stripped of nutritive value so that it can be shelf stable for a longer period of time. Again there are good choices out there, so do your research and make educated decisions on what you are buying.

Choosing your yogurt and granola:

First and foremost, make your own whenever possible.  Control what you are putting in your body, don’t let someone else decide for you. Choose a yogurt that is from a reliable source (this may mean you have to research the company or the area you are in). When possible choose yogurt made from cow’s milk that was raised organically, minimally processed, and without added sugars. If you don’t consume dairy, there are a number of yogurts made from alternative milks; again make sure these are minimally processed and don’t contain a high amount of sugar and additives(*note: alternative milks/yogurts will contain some small amount of thickeners or binders to keep them from separating).

Choose an organic granola that when you read the label contains whole grains, nuts, seeds and not a lot of added sugars and preservatives. Choose one without dried fruit and add fresh fruit to it. Or even better, make the granola yourself using your favorite grains, nuts and seeds. Try new ingredients you haven’t heard of, research them to find out their nutritional value. Have fun with it! Remember, the more you know about what you are eating the better.

hummus-and-vegetable-chips4.) Veggie ‘Chips’                                          

Just because a bag of chips is made from sweet potato, beets, cava root, or any other nutrient dense root, doesn’t mean that the chips themselves will be nutrient dense, or any better for you than regular potato chips. Veggie chips are still chips,  and chips are empty calories. When you thin slice a vegetable and deep fry it, the heat of the oil will kill the nutrients that were once present in that vegetable. On top of being devoid of nutrients, these chips are now soaked in oil that is usually a processed and nutrient-less fat. As if this isn’t enough, the chips are then covered in salt (sodium) to make them tasty yet addicting.

So what about baked chips? Granted these are better than fried chips since they don’t necessarily have the same high level of fat, but they are still going to be depleted of many of their nutrients from heat exposure and processing, and again covered in salt.

A better option: try buying beets, parsnips or carrots in the produce section at the store and slicing those into fresh veggie chips yourself. Keep a container of them cut and ready in your fridge so next time you crave chips you have something good to grab instead. These go great with hummus, bean dips, guacamole, and salsa. It won’t be the same of course, but if you make it a habit, soon your body will crave the nutrients from fresh vegetable instead of the salt from the chips.

5.) Cereal

One of the most common and deadly culprits hidden in food is sugar. As a country we are addicted to sugar, truly addicted. The reason is because it is in everything.

Cereal is an easy vessel in which to hide sugar and empty calorie ingredients. It is something that most of us eat, is considered a proper breakfast, and we grew up with it being sweet so we don’t think twice about it. But eating processed sugar first thing in the morning only makes your cravings worse, not to mention it will cause your blood sugar to spike which means your mood and energy levels will be uneven the rest of the day. Children’s cereals often contain as much sugar as eating a candy bar or drinking a soda, but do we let children have candy and soda for breakfast? No. So why would we let them eat, or let ourselves eat, a bowl of pure sugar for breakfast, often called ‘the most important meal of the day”. For one thing, the label is deceiving. It shows a nice long list of all the vitamins and minerals contained within that box. However these are synthetic vitamins that need to be added to make up for the complete lack of natural vitamins in a product, and those still don’t make up for the amount of processed grains, sugars and fats in that same product.

Even if you are reaching for the granolas, the whole grain cereals, the boxes with pretty pictures of green farms and fresh produce that just look healthy, take another look at that label. Ignore the pictures and the catch words on the front. Look at the little words on the label panel. Those are the words that matter. Look at the amount of sugar in that box, as well as the serving size. Serving sizes can be as small as ¼ cup; when was the last time you ate just a ¼ cup of cereal? How much fat, protein, and dietary fiber is listed? Look at what ingredients are in it. Look out for words like ‘enriched’ flour, it is enriched because they stripped the grains of all it’s natural vitamins and minerals and are trying to make it sound better by adding back synthetic vitamins and minerals. Studies do show that synthetic and natural vitamins react the same in our body, however we add synthetic vitamins to products like cereal because it is otherwise an empty calorie food. Don’t be fooled by sneaky wording and advertising, know what you and your family are eating.

Bio PicMy FD name is Kitchen Ninja (Kinja). I am from Auburn, AL. I graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a Bachelors in Culinary Nutrition. I am currently Sous Chef at Linger in Denver. My passion is creating nutritious food for others and spreading knowledge of health through food and cooking.

 

 

 

First Descents Tributaries 1st Quarter Event Recap

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FDTributaries got off to a great start for 2015! This year, each of our 10 Tribs will have four quarterly events that align with First Descents four core values: Community, Adventure, Challenge, and Humility. Our theme of community brought a lot of people together to share meals in their own unique ways.

Denver, Colorado-

We kicked the year off with the second annual Breckenfest in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. Going along with our community theme, we all shared a delicious chili dinner at the Bivvi- the rad hostel that we stayed at. After eating to our hearts delight we relaxed in the hot tub as well as played some fun games (heads up anyone??!) and just enjoyed the Denver Trib community. After devouring some eggs and coffee the next morning we headed to Frisco Adventure Park for a fun day of flying down some snow filled mountains in large inner tubes. If anyone hasn’t been snow tubing before..you are in for a treat! Tubing worked up a serious appetite so we headed to a local mexican restaurant for some queso and tacos. All and all it was a fun weekend and a great way to start off the Trib year with a bang! -Dizzy

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Austin, TX-

FDTribs Austin had a blast cooking up a healthy dinner for our Q1 community event. Not only did we learn about different types of healthy options for meals but also the best ways to prepare them. Afterwards we all sat down to share the incredible meal that we had created as a group! -Lil’ Sis

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Boston, MA-

FD Tribs Boston officially launched with a potluck at the Party Barn, a charming and decked-out converted barn owned by the family of Tribs captain Big Red! We feasted on lobster tacos from local restaurant Blue Ox as well as recipes from FD’s Out Cooking It cookbook! The raw coconut lime avocado pie that Sundowner made was a big hit. For some, it was their first FD event–a group of cool peeps joined us after the Dana-Farber Young Adult Conference that day. Tribs captain Rev gave a rousing, witty speech to the tribe, and as we mingled began to dream about our next big adventure together. -Big Red

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Los Angeles-CA

On April 16, fourteen members of FDTributaries Los Angeles had the pleasure of gathering at Hipcooks for an awesome culinary workshop. We were honored to welcome some new faces to the FD family and connect with others who had been around a little bit longer. There was dancing, singing, cooking, and tasting as we learned how to tweak recipes to our liking. We ate a lot of amazing Indian food and we laughed even more. We can’t wait to see where our next FDTribs adventure takes us! -Mrs. Kemp

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Minneapolis-MN

On April 6, six strangers met up for fun times with Korean food and Karaoke. In keeping with the First Descents spirit of community, politeness was soon thrown out the window as we each shared the highs and lows of our cancer experience. The food was great and the friendships formed were better. We showed up as strangers and left as good friends. -Ninja

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New York City-NY

Wowzers!  A wait list for healthy cooking!  FDer’s ROCK!  Sixteen of us arrived at the best culinary teaching loft in Chelsea.  This place is so great.  Warm and inviting and just one long kitchen counter for us all to gather around and get cooking!  Cha Cha and Gidget teamed up with a slew of healthy recipes perfect for the spring time, including asparagus and strawberries!  We started out with intros and jumped right into why, what, how and where our ingredients were chosen and their super powers.  Then we divvied up into groups tackling all the recipes at once!  This was magic time.  Each team identified their ingredients and naturally delegated the work.  It was sense overload in no time.  If anyone wasn’t hungry when we started they sure were now!!  There really is nothing like gathering around the kitchen and cooking to bring strangers together.  Everyone was chatting up a storm and staying on task.  I was SO impressed.  Once our delicious dishes were ready to plate, Gidget, Cha Cha and I served up our hard working chefs.  Each team took a moment before we dug in to talk about what they learned, what they found challenging and how well they felt their dish panned out. What an awesome way to provide some insight and natural gratitude for their efforts and our yummy reward.  From asparagus soup, to asparagus risotto, to asparagus and shrimp quinoa our mouths were in happy time and oohs and ahhs abound!  Then my favorite part…DESSERT!  The THREE desserts were just AHMAZING!  Cookies good enough to have for breakfast they were so healthy, but so tasty you could enjoy them any time!  Fresh strawberries swimming in mango custard to die for and the BEST strawberry crumble… it was HEAVEN.  Each team went above and beyond and could not have been more proud of their labor!  Best of all this team of chefs found friendship and camaraderie in the kitchen, sharing a bittersweet commonality that is made of pure strength and courage.  There is no question we all felt overwhelmingly nourished in body and spirit, as only one can with FD! -Sunshine

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Seattle-WA

What better way to spend a rainy Sunday in Seattle than with good food and FD family! The Seattle Trib gathered at Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co. for an Out Cooking It potluck in March. What an awesome way to try a bunch of recipes from one cookbook at once! Our favorites: Avocado Cabbage Spring Rolls and Paleo Sweet Potato Brownies-yum! -Spike seattle

 

 

10 Ways To Love Yo’ Body

10 WAYS TO LOVE YO’ BODY | BY KATIE CAMPBELL

I want to talk about loving our bodies and not merely in a bar soap commercial sort of way. Although it’s important to come to love and accept our bodies no matter what they look like on the outside the kind of love I am talking about is more than skin deep. I am talking about the kind of revolutionary love that connects our minds and our bodies and can heal us from the inside out, a kind of love that it took getting cancer for me to understand.

Before I get into how I think we can all find this kind of love I want to share my own journey through frustration, betrayal and eventually acceptance, awe and love for my body. Prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer I think I had a pretty typical relationship with my body for a 20-something-year-old. I saw it as serving primarily aesthetic purposes which meant I was often frustrated with it. I never hated it but always wished I was a little bit taller, a little less soft around the edges. My body also rarely performed the way I wanted it to. I was a particularly uncoordinated teenager and could never seem to run as far, swing the bat as hard or spike the ball with as much gusto as I would have liked. In some ways it felt like me and my body were in a constant battle and neither of us ever won.

Then, right around my 30th birthday, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and breast cancer in rather quick succession and I was overwhelmed by a feeling of betrayal. My body was literally attacking itself and in the process it was threatening my life. But I also began to feel guilty. Although I had always tried to eat healthy I had been doing so from a perspective of what would make me look good, not what would make my body feel it’s very best. I had been hard on my body, filling it with chemicals, demanding that it keep running at optimum levels despite the toxins to which it was exposed. I also felt bad about the treatment I was about to put it through. Over the course of a year my body sustained 20 rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and 33 rounds of radiation. It was poisoned, slashed and burned, as they say.

As my treatment went on, however, I began to realize how resilient my body was, how it would bounce back from beating after beating, ever striving to make me feel well again. The combination of guilt and awe that I now found myself feeling, on top of the desire to be as healthy as I could, led me to begin thinking about my body in completely new ways. I began to be gentle with it, started to try and listen to what it needed and wanted, educated myself on what was best for it instead of what would make it look the way I wanted.

By the time I was diagnosed with advanced metastatic breast cancer this past January I no longer felt betrayed by my body. Instead I was deeply in love with it. I devoted all of my time and energy to treating it with all the kindness and care I could muster. I love my body, more than anything else, for letting me be here, for letting me exist on this earth, for allowing me to explore the world. Before cancer my body was an impediment to letting me be the person I wanted to be and now I am in awe of this incredible vehicle that works ceaselessly to try and keep me on the planet enjoying my life for as long as it can. I used to take my sight, my hearing, my ability to eat, to run and jump and play for granted. Now I know that cancer or some other debilitating illness could easily take those away from me so I am thankful every day for what my body lets me do.

Whether you have had cancer or not we could all use a little more body lovin’ in our lives. Here are 10 ways to learn to love your fabulous body:

1. Just listen: Our bodies are pretty good at communicating with us but, unfortunately, we are even better at ignoring them. We see much of our bodies’ communications: upset stomachs, headaches, aches and pains, etc. as annoyances to be covered up, not necessarily messages that something might not be quite right. After several years of dealing with chronic illness I have come to realize that often I intuitively know when something is wrong. I have always been right when a new lump or spot on a PET scan was cancerous and when it wasn’t. I went to the doctor before I had any obvious symptoms of an auto-immune disease because something was just “off.” We are taught to ignore, suppress and not give credence to the messages our bodies are constantly delivering when really we should be leaning in closer and listening as carefully as possible.

2. Eat to nourish your body not just to please your taste buds: I’m not saying don’t eat delicious food. Goodness no! What I am saying is that we should eat with nourishment as the main motivator. I have actually discovered that food can be even better when we eat for our health rather than our taste buds. Often times that plate of pancakes looks tempting but leaves us feeling sluggish and unfulfilled. It’s because those yummy pancakes aren’t providing what we most need. I’m not advocating any kind of particular diet because I don’t believe there is a one size fits all. I do think that we should be eating, and teaching our children to eat, what makes us feel good, not just what tastes good.

3. Don’t work out, have fun: It wasn’t until I started rock climbing regularly that I realized how much fun a good workout could be. I used to force myself to go to the gym no matter how bored I was with my routine. Now I’ve let go of any strict rules I once had for myself (“must get x amount of cardio in every week”) and just try to move my body in whatever way is the most rewarding. Sometimes I really feel like a good stretch so I dig into yoga. Other times I feel like a nice sprint so I go for a run. Don’t be afraid to dabble in lots of different activities, to try something new, to go outside and to make playing your passion.

4. Recognize when your body feels good: We often pay so much attention to what is going wrong with our bodies that we fail to pay attention when our bodies feel good. Chemo was a really good teacher in reminding me to appreciate how good it feels to feel good. A good day during chemo was one where I didn’t have terrible mouth sores, I wasn’t terribly nauseated and I could get up and walk around for more than a few minutes without feeling exhausted. Today I try to appreciate whenever I am feeling strong, vital and whole and am grateful to my body for letting me feel that way.

5. Pay attention to the mind-body connection: Our minds and our bodies are intimately connected. Nearly everything we think and feel is playing out in some way at the physiological level. It’s easy to recognize this when we are feeling a negative emotion. When the tears start rolling or our hearts start pounding the connection is clear. But it goes the other way as well. Positive feelings calm our bodies down, release happy hormones and boost our immune systems. One benefit of paying attention to this connection is that when we are overwhelmed by negative emotions just concentrating on our bodies instead of the negative thoughts can help us relax. It’s an incredibly powerful connection that can keep us sick as well as help us heal. Just think of the commonly occurring placebo effect. Just believing we will get better can make a sugar pill as effective as medicine. That’s a mighty powerful mind!

6. Respect the R&R: We love to be busy. Our bodies (and our minds) do not. Our bodies love sleep and downtime but we so rarely give it all that it requires. Don’t be afraid to go to bed early, take a nap, let yourself unwind, allow yourself do nothing but just be present. Your body and your brain will thank you.

7. Build the right team of healers around you: You would never send your pet to a veterinarian who didn’t care about animals so why do so many of us put up with doctors who don’t fully respect us and our bodies? Contrary to popular belief YOU are the number one expert on your body so you should find doctors and healers who respect that idea above all others. You want a team who wants to work with you to help you find the root causes of your health problems and lead you on a path to ultimate wellbeing.

8. Forgive your body: It’s easy to feel betrayed by our bodies. We all deal with some sort of illness, or allergy, or weakness or cancer. Our bodies are fragile and we live in a pretty toxic world. Just as we often make mistakes so do our bodies. It’s part of our humanity. While it’s ok to wade through all the anger and frustration you need to come to a more accepting place I do recommend you give your body a break whenever possible and try to respect all the ways in which it is working for you even when it feels like it’s not on your side.

9. Don’t make comparisons: We all know we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to the unrealistic and heavily Photoshopped standards we see all around us but in reality we shouldn’t compare our bodies, what they need and their strengths and their weaknesses to any other body. Each one is completely unique. Each of our bodies has different needs when it comes to food, workouts, environment, medicine, sleep, etc. Don’t feel bad if your body is different from those around you. Just respect its little quirks and do what you can to meet its unique needs.

10. Be in awe: Our bodies are absolutely incredible instruments. The millions of billions of tiny little processes that have to happen every second to keep us breathing, keep our blood pumping, keep our immune system going are worthy of our unending awe. Our bodies are constantly fighting to keep us healthy, constantly recovering even when we don’t treat it very kindly, constantly doing everything it can to keep us here for as long as it’s able. If that isn’t worthy of our unconditional love I’m not sure what is!


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KC_headshot_smallKATIE (CRUSH) CAMPBELL IS ORIGINALLY FROM MICHIGAN AND CURRENTLY LIVES WITH HER PARTNER, HER DOG AND HER CAT IN WASHINGTON, DC. BY DAY SHE WORKS ON INTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY AT ACTIONAID USA WHICH GIVES HER THE OPPORTUNITY TO TRAVEL ALL OVER THE WORLD. BY NIGHT AND ON THE WEEKENDS CRUSH CAN BE FOUND IN HER LOCAL CLIMBING GYM, BIKING, HIKING OR CAMPING WITH FRIENDS, PLAYING AROUND WITH ONE OF HER MANY CAMERAS OR WHIPPING UP A DELICIOUS VEGAN MEAL. FOLLOW CRUSH ON HER OWN BLOG AT www.katiecrushescancer.com.

 

FD Healthy: Stay Hydrated!

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STAY HYDRATED | BY JENNA ORTNER

Dehydrated? You need more than a water bottle!  Pick up your fork!

When do we need to drink more than plain water to stay hydrated?

When you do high intensity exercise for more than one hour or in intense heat.  Your body loses not only fluids ,but also electrolytes: sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Electrolytes control a huge list of body functions including fluid level, temperature control, cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory rate, digestion and neurological function to name just a few.

Recovery starts before exercise begins.

Foods contain so many more electrolytes as well as vitamins and minerals and health protective compounds than sports drinks.  Not to mention, fresh whole foods do NOT contain added sugars, chemical, synthetic vitamins and artificial colors.

-Season when you cook.  Salt is a flavor enhancer.  Don’t be afraid to season your fresh whole foods when cooking.

-Eat lots of fresh fruits and Vegetables.  Bananas are high in potassium but also oranges, melons, sweet potatoes and leafy greens.

-For especially high water content (90% or more) cucumber, iceberg lettuce, celery, radishes, green peppers, cauliflower, strawberries and grapefruit.

-Dairy is not the only way to get calcium.  Dark leafy greens, broccoli, legumes, almonds  and sesame and sea vegetables are all very high in calcium.

-Magnesium helps fight fatigue.  Eat plenty of green veggies, whole grains, beans, lentils and nuts.

Coconut water is relatively low in carbohydrates and rich in potassium, but neither coconut water nor most sports drinks contain enough sodium or carbs for heavy perspiration.  For long bouts of exercise you may need to supplement with more carbs (think raisins, dates, or banana) to keep blood sugar up.

Ditch the chemical laden sport drinks and try this hydration drink recipe for a long day on the river, at the beach or on the rocks (pun intended).

Home-made-orade

Master Recipe

1 quart of liquid – plain water, green tea, herbal tea or coconut water

¼ tsp Himalayan sea salt

¼ cup fresh juice – lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit or any fresh fruit puréed

1-2 Tablespoons sweetener – honey, stevia,  or maple syrup

Great additions:

Fresh ginger root – brew in tea or hot water and then cool.  Ginger calms the stomach and may help reduce muscle pain

Chia seed are high in omega 3’s , potassium, calcium and antioxidants.  Make your own chia gel by pouring 1 cup of water over 3 Tbs of chia seeds.  Let it sit overnight in the fridge. Use the gel to stir into your drinks in any amount you like.

 

jennaJenna Ortner aka Lamb chop, is the chef manager for First Descents program nutrition. She currently lives in Virginia with her three daughters where she teaches yoga and health supportive cooking.