Sunday, August 17, 2014

I detoxed... and then I ate a Big Mac

After completing my first 10k on Aug. 11.

This spring, I found a rather delectable-looking clean eating meal plan on Buzzfeed and followed it religiously for about five days. It was a bit burdensome to cook three meals a day (usually I buy lunch at work or grab take out on the way home) but it was fun to try news things in the kitchen, like roasting fennel and adding unexpected ingredients like blueberries to my salads.

Eating healthy made me feel better for a split second, but by the time the weekend rolled around I was exhausted and too busy to cook. One night, I went out on the town with friends and inadvertently ended the night in the McDonald's late-night walk-up window. As I sat on my futon eating a Big Mac, french fries, and a sugar-laden soda, I decided that something needed to change.

Chicken, snap peas, and cucumber salad.

As a patient advocate and health blogger, I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about health, beauty, and self esteem, so how had I become someone who was binging on junk food and feeling awful about my waistline?

In June, I joined my cousin and signed up for a 21-day fitness challenge. During the month of June, I ended up exercising 19 out of 30 days. Whether I was weight lifting, jogging, or doing pilates, I got off the couch and made myself sweat even when it hurt. For three weeks, I cut about 95 percent of the crap out of my diet. In doing so, I learned that I can survive without sharp cheddar and that the world won't end without ranch dressing. I can look Ben & Jerry's in the face, drool a little, and then walk away. More importantly, I learned some pretty interesting things about my body, like it's easier to wake up in the morning when I don't go to bed with a full stomach, and my energy levels vary based on what types of foods I eat.

Indulging in an occasional post-race beer? Fine by me.

Every time I read the news, there's a new article saying that exercise prevents cancer, that it lowers our risk for dementia, or that sitting at a desk all day is probably killing us. But working out every day? Easier said than done. 

Three months after my "you shouldn't be doing this to yourself" epiphany, I'm not perfect by any means, but I've made strides to challenge my body and mind in new ways. On Aug. 11, I ran my first 10k, which was a rugged, off-road trail run. It was by far the hardest race I've ever done, but I finished it and it felt awesome. I've also been taking a ballet class for adults, which has been a great way to meet new people and learn something completely new and different. (Side note: ballet is way harder than it looks.)

Why am I telling you all this? As friends and regular readers of my blog, you are the people who hold me accountable for my actions. When I quit tanning, you helped keep me on track. I hope that by sharing this with you, I'll be less likely to slip up and fall back to old habits. We all have room for growth and improvement, but I hope that I never forget to keep loving and taking care of myself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tips for staying safe and stylish in the sun

Safe and stylish in the sun!

Summerskin Dolman top in kiwi / Banana Republic Zoe hat / Supergoop Everday Sunscreen SPF 30 / Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglasses / Bare Minerals Ready Foundation SPF 20 / Clinique Glosswear SPF 15 / Summerskin Endless Summer scarf in Grey

We're in the midst of a 90-degrees-until-the-end-of-time heat wave here, so when I'm not locked up in my air-conditioned office, I like to spend as much time as I can outdoors. Delightful as it can be, too much sun exposure leads to premature aging and ups risk for skin cancer. HSN recently launched a campaign to encourage bloggers to share their tips for staying both safe an stylish in the summertime. As both a beauty and sun safety devotee, here are a few that I swear by:
  • Indulge in an SPF you love: One of the easiest ways to protect your skin from UV rays is to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that's SPF 30 or higher. I used to look at $20 tubes of sunscreen and run the other way, but now I think of it as an investment in my health and beauty. Like any beauty product, if you buy a sunscreen with a cute bottle or a fun fragrance, you're 10x more likely to reach for it at the beach. (Looking for a new SPF? Check out these picks from HSN.)
  • Look for clothing with SPF built in: Once upon a time, cute sun protective clothing was an oxymoron. Now, more and more brands (hello, J.Crew) are making clothes and swimwear with sun protection built in. I recently purchased one of these versatile scarves from SummerSkin and I love it.
  • Seek the shade: Sometimes, sitting in the sun is inevitable, but if I'm lounging by the pool, I always try to snag a spot next to an umbrella. Not only do you avoid the sun, but you can keep your cool (i.e. sweat less) under an umbrella. You can also create your own shade with a cute floppy hat.
  • Enjoy happy hour: The sun's rays are strongest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., so I like to hit the pool between 4 and 6 p.m. Bonus: The pool is less crowded after 4 p.m., which means you don't have to fight for a lounge chair with an umbrella.
How do you stay sun safe and without sacrificing your style?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Road tripping

I just got back from a four-day road trip down to Southern and Central Oregon with Tim. Even though it's only a few hours away, I hadn't been to Crater Lake or Bend since I was a a kid. Our trip wasn't as glamorous as my trip to Cabo or Napa Valley, but it was AWESOME.


Our first stop was Crater Lake in Southern Oregon. In case you've never heard of it, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. and the 9th deepest lake in the world. Because the water is so deep (and clean) it's the most jaw-dropping deep blue you could imagine. While we were gaping at the view, Tim and I met a lovely couple who was visiting from New Mexico. They snapped this picture for us.


Tim and I did a hike from the rim of the crater down to the water. It looks like an innocent, 2-mile hike, but the steep drop in elevation makes for a beast of a walk back up. (In case you were worried, I'm wearing SPF 50 in this picture.)


After Crater Lake, we drove up to Bend, which is a growing town in Central Oregon. About 15 miles south of Bend, we found these incredible lava caves. Apparently, tubes of lava from nearby volcanoes carved out tunnels in the rock. Now, you can rent a lantern and hike about a mile deep into the lava caves. Needless to say, it was pretty freakin' cool. I'm also quite proud of myself for overcoming my claustrophobia and not totally freaking out about being 30-minutes deep into a cave full of bats and goodness knows what else.


In the decade since I've visited Bend, several trendy microbreweries have also sprouted up. We visited a few of them, including 10 Barrel and Crux Fermentation Project. Rumor has it they're opening a 10 Barrel taproom in my neighborhood soon. I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of their flagship beer--the Apocalypse IPA--but the food was great and I can never say no to a taster tray.


As you can see, it was a pretty action-packed weekend. Not to sound like too much of a cheeseball, but I feel pretty lucky to live within driving distance of mountains and lakes and rivers and waterfalls and so many other beautiful natural resources. If you've never visited the Pacific Northwest, I highly suggest you book a trip.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The 5 stages of event planning


Whether its a giant fundraising gala, a business conference, or a wedding in your parent's backyard, event planning can be incredibly stressful. Last month, I was involved in planning three big events, and let me tell you: I'm exhausted.

If you've done any event planning yourself, you know it isn't all about the big day. There are months and months of preparation that go into planning that one three-hour meeting or that one two-day trip. I've discovered that I experience several stages of emotion during the months leading up to and following a big event. In fact, they share some similarities with the five stages of grief described by Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross. (I'm kidding! Kind of...)

1. Denial

Commonly characterized by: "My event is still nine months away. I don't need to start planning for it yet." Or, it's still two months before the big event and you still haven't sent in the required site permits. You'd rather drain your phone's battery on Pinterest than figure out which vendor to work with. Sometimes, the list of to-do's is so long that you don't know where to start. But it's OK. You've still got time.

2. Anger

Your event planning committee is driving you nuts. Your volunteers are driving you nuts. Your boss is driving you nuts. Your boyfriend is driving you nuts. The person who messed up the floral arrangements is driving you nuts. Basically, everyone including your dog is driving you nuts!!!

3. Bargaining

You find yourself asking everyone and their second cousin for a favor. "If you buy a ticket to my event I'll buy you a drink!" "If you sign up to volunteer I'll be forever in your debt!" "If you print 100 color copies I'll take you out for coffee!" "If you help me make these centerpieces I'll sell you my soul for half price!"

4. Depression

A few days after the event, it hits you like a brick: Now that your event is over, there is no meaning in life. What is the point of breathing if you don't need to micromanage a team of 12 volunteers anymore? You're totally burnt out from working a 16-hour shift on Saturday. Oh, and you'd rather not have to think about all those thank you notes you still need to write.

5. Acceptance

Now that it's been a month or two since your event, the whole event planning process doesn't seem so bad. Looking back at the photos, you give yourself a little pat on the back. Maybe you won't mind doing the whole thing over again next year...

Fellow event planners: Can you relate?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Is there such a thing as cute UV-protective clothing?

I'll be the first person to admit, even with my history of skin cancer, I'd rather wear a teensy weensy bikini to the beach than dress like this:

Cute on the kiddos. Less so on me. (Image credit)

I know that sunscreen is not perfect, but it's hard to cover up when everyone else is flaunting it.

When SummerSkin, a Portland-based sun protective clothing company, became a sponsor of the AIM walk I'm organizing later this month, I promised I'd give it another shot.

Since then, I've been introduced to Summer Kramer, the creator of SummerSkin. Like me, she's a patient-turned-advocate who is doing great things both locally and nationally to raise awareness about melanoma.

I am very excited to share that Summer and her team have just launched an Indiegogo campaign where you can test out items from SummerSkin's clothing and accessories line at a fraction of the normal retail price. Plus, 10% of proceeds go to OHSU Knight Cancer Institute melanoma research program.

Here's a sampling of what she's offering:




I don't usually plug brands on my blog, but this is a company and a cause that I am 100% supporting. Please help spread the word on Facebook and Twitter: #SPFyRevolution

And, of course, get shopping!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where did April go?

When life gets tough, I just need to remind myself: I climbed this!

I can't believe it's almost May. This month has been a blur. It probably seems like I've gone MIA, but I've just been really, really busy with melanoma-related activities. Earlier this month, I traveled to Utah for a meeting with SolSurvivors, a patient advocacy organization based in Salt Lake City. (This is the group I'm working with on the PCORI-funded project.) Then today, I had a chance to meet with this guy in Seattle. Everyone I've met since I began working on this project has been incredibly receptive to the idea of involving patients in the design of cancer research and outreach projects. There's still lots of details up in the air and lots to figure out, but I'm feeling very confident about being able to engage more laypeople in the melanoma research process going forward--and that's incredibly, incredibly exciting to me.

Meanwhile, it's crunch time as we prepare for the Northwest Melanoma Walk on May 31. I've connected with several new partners for the the walk this year, so it'll be interesting to see how the event evolves from last year.

Protecting my skin from the hot Cabo sun.

On a slightly unrelated note, this month I also accomplished something I never thought would be possible: I turned off my iPhone for five full days while I was in Mexico.

Coming from someone who checks her email at least 50 times a day and practically cuddles her phone when she goes to sleep, I was expecting to go through withdrawals. But, surprisingly, the company I kept while I was vacationing was enough to distract me from that constant nagging feeling that I needed to check my email. I suppose the margaritas and shrimp tacos didn't hurt either.

Disconnecting during an incredibly busy time--both at work and for my patient advocacy activities--was oddly liberating. I embraced relaxation to the point where I barely felt like myself anymore. I danced until 4 a.m. and climbed a huge mountain of rocks (see photo above), even though I'm ordinarily scared of heights. I heard people talk about their tans and sunburns, and I barely batted an eye.

My amigas!

I think one of my strengths as a human being is my ability to be empathetic and compassionate to others. But let's be real: caring is exhausting. It was nice to know that I could almost "turn it off" for a few days, just so that I could get a little down time.

Coming back to work on Monday was a bit of a rude wake up call. My inbox was full and I had several major deadlines to meet. Regardless, Cabo '14 will go down as one of the best trips ever. Crazy adventures with great friends--and I was finally able to chill out enough to enjoy it. Definitely just what I needed to get me through my busy season.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

7 things that drive me absolutely crazy

While I'm typically the kind of gal whose glass is half full, there are a handful of things that drive me completely and totally batty. I pre-apologize if your pet peeves list includes bloggers' pet peeves lists. Mine includes:

1. Anything (or anyone) that stands in my way of being on time
I absolutely hate being late for meetings, appointments, events, etc. Even worse, I hate when being late is completely out of my control. For example, if I'm getting a ride from a friend to a birthday party and she shows up late, making both of us late to the party... %&#$@ Beware, you will feel my wrath.



2. People who are rude to bus drivers
This morning, I witnessed a man yell profanities at my bus driver for no apparent reason. I don't care if your wife just left you, if you just went bankrupt, or your March Madness bracket is busted--don't take it out on people who are simply doing their job.


3. These absurd "Got Vitamin D?" ads
These ads are in virtually every ladies room at every bar in downtown Portland. It's also currently on the billboard I have to walk past in order to get to the gym.


Stop trying to tell me that tanning is healthy. Because it's not. Just stop.


4. The words "We'll find out...... After the break."
I'm looking at you Chris Harrison. I cancelled my cable recently, so I missed the bulk of the most recent season of The Bachelor, but is it REALLY necessary to have that show go on for TWO HOURS?! No. Stop dragging it out. Just send the girl home.

 

5. #hashtags
Sorry folks. I don't like them. #sorryimnotsorry



6. Blogs that have so many ads on the sidebar that it takes 20 minutes to load
I came here to read your content, but now I can't, so I'll catch you later (or not).




7. When people cancel at the last minute
Saving the best for last. I think my all-time biggest pet peeve is when people cancel on me at the last minute. I'm like the dentist - I need 24 hours notice or I'm still going to send you the bill.



What drives you crazy?