Tuesday, August 18, 2015

You have Breast Cancer - 4 words you don't want to hear

The past week and a half has been a whirlwind for me.  In July I noticed that I had a lump in my armpit.  I figured that it was a lymph node and that I was fighting an infection of some sort.  I decided to watch it.  A few weeks later I noticed another one.   I still wasn't concerned.   Then, I noticed that my armpit area was swollen.  I had recently started a new weight lifting program, Body Beast, that had me lifting heavy.  I figured that I had twisted something putting a weight down.

Finally, I decided I needed to go get it checked out.  I started Googling "lumps in armpit".   Well, Dr. Google and I determined that I had some weird form of Bird Flu Ebola West Nile H1N1 strain of flu.  But, I decided to let the real doctor's take a look.   The problem was, I didn't really have a doctor.   I called the Clinic to get a doctor's appointment, and said that I needed a general practitioner.   When I told her what was wrong, she said that I needed to see an OB/GYN, because the armpit is considered part of your breast.   Woah, Google didn't tell me that!  They got me in that very day, last Monday.  The doctor I saw did not feel anything during the breast exam, but the lymph nodes concerned her.  She referred me to the Komen Center for a mammogram.    I went there Monday at 8:30 am.  They did the mammogram, and then the doctor said that he wanted to do an ultrasound.   I could see his face, and it wasn't good.  He said he saw a mass in my right breast and then he showed me the lymph nodes in my right armpit.   He then showed me the ones in my left armpit.   They looked nothing alike.   He said that he wanted to do a biopsy, today, right now.   I immediately freaked out, momentarily, but pulled myself together.  They did the biopsy and made an appointment for me to come back at 2:30 on Thursday.  On Thursday morning, they called and said that the pathologist needed more time with my tissues, and they changed my appointment to Friday.

When we went back on Friday, it was the same as the initial diagnosis.   I had breast cancer and it has spread to my lymph nodes.   I felt like all of the air was being sucked out of the room.   How was I going to tell my Dad?  I had told my children, Ryan and Steff the night before.   I have 2 granddaughters.   How do you tell them this?  

The Komen Center is wonderful.   I have a nurse, a breast navigator, who will be with me the entire process.   She is scheduling appointments and making sure I get in quickly and don't get the run around or put off.   She has already pushed my appointments up.   She had already talked to my surgeon, who said that I will need chemo before surgery, and then radiation after surgery.   I don't know the extent of the surgery yet, it will depend on today's MRI and the PET Scan that I get soon.

Since then, things are moving quickly.  I went today, Tuesday, and had lab work done.   Then, I had an MRI on both of my breasts.   On Thursday, we meet with my oncologist at Illinois Cancer Care.  

To say I'm scared is an understatement.   But, I'm also at peace.   I know that, however things turn out, I will be fine.  I'm saved.  I'm not ready to leave, and I intend to fight every step of the way.  I think all of those years of teaching Turbokick will help me kick cancer's ass! 

I'm otherwise healthy, I eat healthy, I exercise, I'm STRONG.   I will continue to exercise, I will continue to eat healthy, I will continue to drink Shakeology (no soy!), I will continue to LIVE!!! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Perfect EASY way to fold a fitted sheet!!

The curse of almost everyone's linen closet is the dreaded fitted sheet.   How to fold them neatly?   Sure, there are several Youtube videos out there, with rather difficult instructions on folding the sheet.   To quote the infamous Sweet Brown, "ain't noone got TIME for that!".   

I have found a solution that works perfectly for me and my linen closet is ready for inspection!   The best part, I am willing to share what I do!  Okay, okay, I haven't cured the common cold or discovered life on another planet, but come on!   A neat linen closet is pretty important, right?

I take my whole set of sheets.   I pick up one pillow case and open it up.  I roll up the fitted sheet and put it in the pillow case.   I then put the flat sheet in the pillow case.  Next, I put the other pillow case in the pillow case.   I then take the pillow case and put it in the linen closet.  On my shelf, I have 3 sets of sheets, all neatly ensconced inside their respective pillow cases.   When it is time to change the sheets, I just grab the one pillow case and I have everything that I need.   No more rummaging around looking for the correct pillow case and having other people wreck havoc in my linen closet.   It's the little things, sometimes, that can make you smile.  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

How to get rid of puffy eyes while you sleep!

I have allergies.  Practically every night I would go to bed and, when I would wake up I was always struggling to breath.  It seemed like my nostrils would swell shut. It was a weird feeling.   Also, I would have puffy eyes.  I figured it was genetics and that there wasn't much I could do about it.  I used eye creams that helped a little, but I figured that there wasn't much more I could do - short of having my eye bags removed surgically - and I wasn't going to do that.

I was watching a Youtube video called HotandFlashy, by a lady named Angie.   She is in her early 50s and I really enjoyed what she had to say.   She recommended sleeping on your back, with your head elevated, to help with eye bags.   Now, this was really a stretch for me.  I was a tummy sleeper.   I couldn't go to sleep if I wasn't on my tummy!  Oh, but my journey to get rid of my eye bags prompted me to give it a try.   While walking through Bed, Bath & Beyond I saw a wedge pillow for back sleeping.   I thought, well, what have I got to lose?

That first night, I really struggled to fall asleep.   When I woke up, I was still on my back! I hadn't rolled over!   I went to the bathroom and guess what?   My eye bags were pretty much gone!   Then, I realized that, not only were my eyes not puffy, but I could BREATH!   My nose wasn't congested!  Wow.  

Seriously, I wish I had watched this video years early.   The bags are pretty much gone and I wake up breathing clearly.   It is wonderful!  Give it a try!

HotandFlashy YouTube Chanel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/HotandFlashy

Picture of Wedge Pillow.  I put my pillow on top of the highest part.  It is actually very comfortable!

Saturday, August 8, 2015


There is something about me that many people don't know.  I have a half brother who lives in Germany.   That in itself isn't so unusual.   What IS unusual is that I didn't know he existed until I was an adult.   I was out of school and married with a family of my own.  

My entire life I was a Daddy's girl.   Always.   Up until this revelation, I was under the impression that I was his only child.   He was a step father to my other half-siblings:  Susie, Bobby and Mike.   He was wonderful to them and they loved him.   But, I always knew I was the apple of his eye.  Always.   I'm ashamed to admit that when I first found out about Peter, I had my nose pushed out of joint for a bit.  All of a sudden I wasn't the center of his universe.   What a selfish way to think!   Here I was, living with my Dad while growing up, and I was jealous of my newfound brother, who hadn't grown up with him.   How self-centered and selfish of me.  Luckily, these feelings changed within a few days, and no-one (other than my husband) knew how I felt.

It DID explain a lot of things to me.   My Dad took on a widow with 3 children when he married my mother, who never worked outside the home (other than being the lunch lady at a grade school for a little spending money and something to do).  He treated those 3 kids with love and respect and made many sacrifices for them.  My brother, Mike, was sick a lot, and my Dad took care of him.   In my mind, it made sense.  He was taking care of Mike, and he was hoping that Peter was being taken care of as well.

I'm sure leaving Peter in Germany, and returning to the US was very hard.   It was 1960, and my Dad was in the Air Force.   He had to return to the states,  and his mother (a widow with several other children) could not leave her country.   There was no bad blood between them, but she said she would not send her son across the world to visit and have him grow up splitting his time.  My Dad said he wasn't even sure that Peter knew about him.

When Peter was engaged to be married, a friend of his mother's contacted my Dad and said that Peter wanted to meet him.   My Dad was thrilled.  My Mother, whom he met after Peter was born, had known about him the whole time.   My Dad and I made a trip to Germany shortly after that, and his family was wonderful to us.   They opened up their homes and their hearts and they were amazing to us.

I am thinking of all this now, because my brother Peter is visiting from Germany right now.   I am sitting here with both of them and my heart is full.  

I have lost my other siblings.   Mike passed away 7 years ago, and I lost Bobby and then Susie in the last year.   So, my message to everyone who reads this is, love your family.  Cherish your differences and celebrate the fact that you are connected by love.  Blood doesn't make a family, love does !

Friday, August 7, 2015

Get Organized with Labels, labels, labels!

I admit it.   I have a label maker, and when I pull it out, my pulse races slightly.  I love to make labels.  I label many things in my house.  I've had people ask me why I label something that is very obvious (like in my bathroom closet.  I have labeled Bath Towels, Hand Towels, Wash Cloths).   Those labels aren't for ME.   I know where everything goes.  It is for everyone else who puts their little paws in my closet.  I don't want them putting things back in the wrong place.  It's amazing how this works.   You put a label somewhere, and people put the item back in the same place.   Without it, they just put it anywhere.  I've labeled storage bins in the same closet, mainly so that people don't rummage through every container looking for something, getting everything all mixed up.   Seriously, this works!   Give it a try!

I also found these wonder labels on Amazon called Label Once.   They are of various sizes and you put them on your containers that you put in the fridge.   You can write on them what is in it and the date.   Example:   Chicken Breast, Friday 8/7    Then, people aren't opening it to see what is in it.  Also, you know how long an item has been in there and if it is safe to eat.  When the container is empty, you wash it (it does go in the dishwasher) and you just wipe off the writing on the label and use it again.   Easy Peasy.   I love these things!

Seriously, labels do make the world a better place!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cardio or Weights First?

It’s an age-old question. No, not which came first the chicken or the egg. Rather, which should you do first, cardio or strength? Many people ask. Most fitness professionals seem to have an opinion. And surely there are plenty of studies to support answers on both sides. So what’s the truth? Do you get your run or bike ride in first and then lift weights, or do you get your lifting in and then head over to your favorite cardio machine? Let’s look at the arguments on both sides to help you decide will work best for you.
Many people prefer to get their cardio in before their lifting. Some dislike the cardio portion so it helps to “get it out of the way”. Some say it helps to warm their body up more gently than lifting weights. Still others say they become more mentally focused during cardio, which leads to a better strength training session.
Experts on this side tell you to pay attention to your goals. If your primary goal is to increase aerobic capacity or lose body fat, then doing cardio first is probably your best option. This is where the bulk of your energy will be placed whereas doing weights first will zap some of that away leading to a less productive cardio session. The same goes for those trying to train for a 10k, half marathon, bicycle race or other cardio events. Your best bet is to put your energy into the cardio portion of your workout so that the quality of your workout is used to better your performance.
Just as some feel the cardio warms them up for the weights, others will claim the opposite. Plenty of people feel like the strength training and the range of motion involved gets their body prepared and pre-stretched for the cardio afterward. Some prefer to get the “lifting” portion of their workout out of the way so they can enjoy the cardio as their “dessert”.
Experts who prefer to promote weights first say that when you start your workout on the weight floor the strength training depletes the body of its carbohydrates or sugars so that by the time you get to the treadmill or bike you end up tapping into your fat as fuel to keep your aerobic system going strong. Essentially this means you will burn more calories, especially fat calories, during AND after the workout. It should be noted, however, that the evidence of this being a fact is still unclear.
In addition, those weighing in on weights first tell you that if your legs are pre-exhausted from running, biking or elliptical machines first you end up with sloppy form in your squats and lunges. If your goal is to build muscular strength it is better for you to start with strength training so the best energy is focused on that portion of your workout.
If you are still confused as to which order would work better for you, be assured that if your goals are general health and fitness, you can mix it up and still reap all the benefits your body needs. One week put the strength first and the next week focus on cardio first. Another great option, if you have the time, is to divide your workouts into one or the other. In other words, Monday is cardio-only, Tuesday is strength-only, etc. This way each portion gets the best you have to offer. A bonus benefit with this option: your workouts are shorter.
The fact that you are even questioning the order of your workout means you are working out. This puts you ahead of most of the population and this is truly what matters. If you are working out consistently, chances are the order of your workout will not make THAT much of a difference. Even the Mayo Clinic remains neutral. According to Edward R. Lasowski, M.D. “Whether you do weightlifting before or after an aerobic workout is up to you. Research hasn’t definitively shown that one way is better than another.” His words are supported by a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research which looked into the question of workout order to determine if one or the other led to more fat loss. The study titled, The Effects of Combined Resistance Training and Endurance Exercise Program in Inactive College Female Subjects: Does Order Matter?” investigated the matter using an 8-week exercise program on inactive college females. Feel free to click on the study for more details, but let me “bottom line it” for you: order didn’t matter! There was significant improvement for everyone in terms of lean body mass, VO2max and strength but the only participants who really saw their body fat go down were those who began to eat better!
So basically we are back to what we know: eat right and exercise – in any order you like best. This is how you get results!
Kim Pieper

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My first blog

I didn't think I would ever do it, but here I am blogging.   Truthfully, it is a natural fit for me.  I love to write, so I don't know why I was resistant to do this.  I plan on writing about a variety of things, not just health and fitness.   I want to bring things to you that I find interesting, and I hope you do to.   I am a crazy dog lady, with three loveable pooches that make my heart happy, so you know you will hear about them.   I have a large extended family that I'm very close to, and they provide me with many funny things to share.  

I plan on sharing healthy recipes - that actually taste good - because, let's face it, if it tastes like cardboard I don't want to eat it!  Eating healthy can be delicious, too!  Honest!

I also am very into organization.  Making a label makes me happy.  Weird, I know, but it really DOES make life easier.  I have lots of tips to share that I hope you find useful!

To my immediate family, I won't share anything embarrassing about you, I promise (crosses fingers behind her back)