This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Counsyl. The opinions and text are all mine.
As a 2- time cancer survivor, I am always looking for ways to be proactive when it comes to the health of myself and my family. I try hard to stay balanced and find simple but effective ways to embrace health. Since my diagnosis 7 years ago, I have settled into a balanced approach to health that feels very good for me and my family.
I’m always trying to take small proactive steps to improve our health, without becoming overwhelmed by all the things one can do! There is a fine line between being obsessed with health which leads to fearful living, and being too relaxed and falling into ignorance. I try hard to stay in the balanced middle!
Here are a few simple tips that one can take to be proactive when it comes to health:
7 Ways To Be Proactive With Health:
Let’s start super simple. You cannot get more basic than water! I rarely have anything in our home to drink besides water…okay…coffee, tea, and water. I guess I should say I rarely have anything sweet to drink in our home. It just is not necessary. Even 100% juice has a lot of natural sugar in it and can spike blood sugar because it does not have the natural fiber of the fruit in it to keep it balanced. Juice can also be hard on the teeth!
My Todd is an exception to our rule. He embraces a ton of healthy habits, but what he drinks is not one of them. He is a cola-lover, but the rest of us stay away from it. We know that Dad’s cola is Dad’s cola…especially when he is known for drinking out of the bottle! He does not keep it in the refrigerator, which is great so the rest of us are not tempted by staring at it every time we open the refrigerator.
I drink a ton of water thanks to my double-insulated, 24-ounce tumbler. It stays super cold all day and has a large straw. I find I drink WAY more water each day when it is through a large straw. I also love adding a some lemon!
2. Vitamins and Supplements
I have my girls on a multi-vitamin, vitamin D, and fish oil. I’m on the same, plus a few more. Vitamins are a great way to be proactive with your health. They supplement a healthy diet and give me peace of mind that we are all getting the nutrients we need.
I am a big Vitamin D fan, as it is great for so many things, especially immunity. My Oncologist has me on high dose vitamin D, and I get my levels checked regularly. Studies have shown most women are low in Vitamin D, so it might be a good idea to ask your doctor about getting your levels checked
Turmeric is my favorite supplement that I take daily. There are so many studies that talk about the power of this supplement, and I find that it takes care of joint pain that I have due to a cancer medication that I take daily and its side effects. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and a nice bonus is that it seems to give my skin a bit of natural color from the inside out. I will be sharing my favorite Golden Milk (aka Turmeric Tea) here soon, so if interested, subscribe to my mailing list so you won’t miss a post.
3. Balanced Living
We work very hard as a family to keep busyness to a healthy level. It is not always possible with 3 teenage girls, but even on days where everyone seems to be going every which way, Todd and I are learning to keep a slow mindset even during those busiest days. Often that looks like taking a deep breath, recognizing that most of life is not an emergency and that rushing about does not help us get anywhere any faster. I have worked hard on this one, as I am not a naturally calm person.
I do a lot of small things each day to keep stress at a minimum and a slow, balanced living mindset to a maximum. Chill music, candles, a daily walk, yoga stretching, journaling, meditation…the list goes on. On days where there is only time to do a few minutes of one or two of these things, it is still so very worth it! Anything to chisel away stress even for a short time is a great way to be proactive in embracing health, and it also is a great example to your kids, whose eyes are always watching.
Because of my history with cancer, I am passionate about early detection, awareness, and screening. This is National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) week—September 24-October 1—so it is very fitting to talk about hereditary cancer screening. 10% of the time cancer is linked to a single change in a gene, or mutation, that has been passed down from generation to generation. This is called “hereditary cancer.”
I waited until the worse time to get screened for hereditary cancer, and that was when I was diagnosed with cancer. I remember being apprehensive as we waited for results. I had my sisters and especially my 3 little lovelies on my heart and thought a lot about what it would mean for them if I tested positive. Even though I worried about the outcome, knowledge is empowering, and it did bring peace to be proactive. Testing felt like the right, most loving thing to do.
Fortunately, I did not test positive. It was such a relief to know, and I have taken much comfort in that knowledge all these years. If you want that same knowledge, you can be proactive, too! There is a DNA testing and genetic counseling company that will help you understand your DNA and inform important health decisions called Counsyl. All it takes is a small sample of saliva or blood to look at up to 36 different genes associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. Counsyl’s Reliant™ Cancer Screen is a physician-ordered test, so you can ask your OBGYN about it at your next visit.
Our bodies love and need sleep. Sleep seems so simple but it is one of the most important things we can do for health! I do several things to make sleep a priority and prepare my body for the best of sleep. I have a cooling-gel pillow which keeps my hot flashes (another lovely cancer medication side effect) to a minimum. I take melatonin and I roll lavender oil on my temples right before bed. I set my kindle to ‘night shade’ screen if I read before bed. I also use an app called Sleep Cycle that can sense my breathing rhythms and tells me how many hours of sleep I get each night and the quality of that sleep. I try very hard to fall asleep and wake up at similar times each day. Remember…when Momma’s rested, the whole family benefits!
Movement is so important for health, and a simple walk can do wonders! It moves the joints, can get the heart rate up if brisk, moves lymph systems —which is very important for cancer survivors and health in general—and gets you out in nature which is always positive for health! As soon as I finish this paragraph, I’m going to take a quick break and take a walk. I’ve been enjoying walks so much lately. I’ve let go of having the perfect amount of time to get all my steps in, and just get up and walk for however long I have, whether it be for 10 minutes or 45 minutes.
I have a pair of shoes (Keen’s) that I can just slip on and go. I used to care about having a whole workout outfit on, which hindered my motivation in walking for short amounts of time, but now I just slip my shoes on with whatever I’m wearing, then get up and go! I may look ridiculous but I feel great! I love listening to podcasts (this one being my favorite right now) or jabbering away on Voxer app to my friends while I walk.
7. Know Your Numbers
There are many numbers to know! Blood pressure, cholesterol, vitamin D levels, iron levels, vitamin B 12 levels (if you are a vegan), blood sugar, and more! Be proactive in your health by knowing your numbers. Even weight is a good number to know. There are many diseases where rapid weight gain is a symptom, so know those scale numbers…just don’t obsess. If you keep up on physicals, most of these numbers will be available to you. Make sure to ask your doctor for your test results and levels. I always ask them to mail results to me so I have a paper form to refer back to and for personal records.
What about you?
Do you tend to get obsessed about health or ignore health?
Do you have any tips in finding the balanced middle?
What about screening? Have you been screened or thought about being screened?