While I have always been a health-conscious person (made easier by the fact that I grew up with a father who specializes in food allergy, candida, and taught me the value of avoiding gluten as a young child) — like so many of us, I didn’t really start to take my health seriously until I myself, or one of my closest people, had a health scare.
When my mother was first diagnosed 5 years ago with Stage IV ovarian cancer, I had a big media job in a big office where I worked long hours, and I fought “the good fight” so many of us have (or still do) to stay clear of the daily office offerings of pastries and treats. Within a week of my mother’s diagnosis, I had quit my media job, and took on a new full-time role as her caretaker — as managing a disease such as advanced cancer is, in fact, a full-time job.
Luckily, being the health-oriented family we are (for the most part), we quickly understood the value of changing her diet and the role nutrition would potentially play in her ability to fight her disease. My mother, never really having been someone who cared or thought too much about her health, and, to put it kindly, didn’t really know her way around a kitchen (aka I’m not sure she knew where the kitchen was), was going to need some assistance. We called on a talented and well-recommended nutritionist (who is now a dear family friend, and I believe added years to my mother’s life), Stefanie Sacks. She spent days with my mother, learning about her history and relationship with food.
I loved our meetings with Stephanie, and would just soak up her wisdom with each visit. I still remember her saying, “In an ideal scenario for your disease, I would put you on a raw vegan diet. However, there is no way in hell you are going to be able to stick to that, so we have to find a middle ground where you are eating clean and nutritious foods, but still feel completely satisfied by it — not just physically, but emotionally. I also know that you are going to need to hire a chef, as we don’t have time to teach you to cook, or, moreover, teach you to love to cook.”
So our talented chefs (who quickly became family) were hired, and a diet plan was set. Seeing as I was my mother’s full-time caretaker, I had the good fortune of eating right alongside her, and being nourished by foods I knew were good for me, but never realized how delicious they could be. From healing mineral broths, to scrumptious salads, to baked fruits, to wild-caught fish, organic chicken and eggs, and even the occasional grass-fed beef burger — not only did I feel completely spoiled, but I had never felt better.
It was then that I learned one simple fact, we should all be eating the diet of a cancer patient. A diet meant to boost and strengthen your immune system, to lower inflammation, to offer energy, to keep a healthy gut, and to load the body with as many nutrients as humanly possible. There was no thought of fat, or carbs, or calories — it was all about gaining as many nutrients as possible, and omitting as many potentially harmful ingredients as we could.
What was even more astounding to me, was how simple this all really was. It came down to eating fresh whole foods, letting go of processed sugar (I know, not easy, but essential), and if I was going to eat something out of a package, I had to know what was actually on the ingredients label. (There was a longer list of items like letting go of dairy and gluten, but these are larger, more complicated topics, best left for a future discussion.)
So why are we all waiting for that scare to come?! Do we somehow think we will get lucky and health problems will just pass us over? I am going to choose the opposite. After watching the one person in the world I thought of as truly invincible, get taken from me by something as common as cancer, I refuse to think I am somehow an exception anymore. I choose to invest in myself, invest in my health, and invest in my future. I promise, if you choose to make this investment in yourself, it is just so much easier than you would ever think.
This is exactly what our featured healthy food and lifestyle company this week, Sakara Life, stands for. Simple, plant-based foods filled with hydrating water and important nutrients. The founders, Danielle DuBoise and Whitney Tingle, are firm believers that once you start making the right choices for your body because you want to, and not because you have to, everything else falls into place. They also quickly realized that eating local ingredients and whole foods, made by loving hands, is hard to keep up on your own in NYC, so they deliver straight to your door — problem solved.
Really, many things in your life can be just as simple if you allow it, and make the space for simplicity. That’s what this week of content is all about: Citi Bike shows us the simplest way to get moving and see the city; ECOFashion creator Marci Zanoff explains why simple is better when it comes to our clothes and sheets; celebrity trainer and The 30 Second Body author Adam Rosante shows that “We are all stronger than we think”; and workout warrior Andia Winslow shares her simple secret for feeling good about her body — keep moving every day.
Last, we have a post this week to read and share with everyone you know: The Sweat Life’s 5 Commandments for Keeping Fitness Simple.
This is your life, this is your body, this is your health, this is your future. Make the investment. It’s that simple.
Until next week,
Founder, CEO, and Host
The Sweat Life