Tag Archives: Heart Disease

FOOD FOR LIFE TRAINING (PCRM)

After my last post, my life  jumped into a whirlwind of excitement that had me flying across the country, meeting medical and nutritional idols and being away from my family for FIVE days!

So do you remember back in March, I posted about the fact that I was headed to Washington D.C. to attend the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM) Food for Life Certification program?Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 8.35.58 PMWell folks, it’s official!! I am a Certified Food for Life Instructor!!! Certificate of Completion

The Tuesday after I finished Canyons, I hopped on a plane and flew to D.C. for my training. The plane ride left me with time to sit and recap the race in my head with the intentions of blogging while I was there. It happened, eventually (read my race report here).

Most of my time in D.C. however was spent soaking up SO MUCH information and meeting 25 of the loveliest attendees ever. Over 90 people had applied and 26 were selected. We had someone from Ireland and someone from China! It was amazing and to sit in a room with that many like-mined, empowered and energized people was unbelievable. Everyone was eager to learn and our instructors were hands-down some of the most intelligent and kindhearted people on Earth.

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Every morning, I would leave my hotel and walk the .4 of a mile to PCRM and the Barnard Medical Center. The weather was gorgeous and the walk was easy. Each morning they provided us with a plant-based breakfast! It was delicious.

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PCRM is the only nonprofit organization in the country that provides nutrition and cooking classes that focus on disease prevention and survival. It is 100% evidence based. It was founded in 1985 by Dr. Neal Barnard and has been growing and educating ever since.

Dr. Neal Barnard
Dr. Neal Barnard

Dr. Barnard spoke on our very first day. He truly has a heart of gold and a passion for animal rights and health.

In addition to his talk, we had some lectures on administrative stuff, a full-on cooking demonstration and a panel discussion where we were free to ask four PCRM dietitians anything we wanted! The last class of the first day however, was one of my most favorite!

The last class was called, Teaching for Understanding: What to say and how to say it so that your students truly learn. It was phenomenal! By full admission, I am a terrible public speaker so I am always looking for ways to improve. This class gave us plenty to think about and  techniques to implement when we are conducting classes. I loved it.

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The second day started even earlier than the first and once again, a full breakfast was provided.

The second day of the training consisted of an introduction into the many different classes we will be allowed to teach.

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There is a curriculum for Cancer (Food for Life: Cancer Project – Acquire knowledge about the link between diet and cancer) and one for Diabetes (Food for Life: Diabetes Initiative – Learn more about the benefits of a plant-based nutrition approach for diabetes and prevention) in addition to so many more!

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Lead the way in facilitating an office culture of health and wellness that employees can carry into their lives at home.
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Realize the savings incurred with healthful eating are not only by dollars but also in quality of life.
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Establish in children knowledge and skills necessary to form healthful habits they can carry well into adulthood.
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Discover the world of health through general topics ranging from digestion to blood pressure.
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Discover how simple qualitative dietary choices can lead to a healthy weight.

You get the idea … the possibilities and topics to teach are plentiful and best of all life saving.

We also had to perform our very own cooking demonstration in front of the group and our instructors. Afterwards, we were critiqued and given ways to improve or enhance our class.

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Not going to lie, that was a little nerve wracking but I think it was imperative to give us a sense of what we will be doing when we return home.

The group at PCRM thought of everything. They answered our questions and they helped us navigate the endless opportunities we might be able to find using our new found skills and tools.

PCRM gets nothing in return mind you. Their only hope is that we, as Food for Life instructors go forth and teach! The more people we can reach across the world, the better.

With over one million people being diagnosed with cancer and 25 million people being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in the United States each year – The Food for Life program is an innovative approach to a medical challenge.

So what is my plan? What is my agenda now that I am a Food for Life Instructor? Well for starters, I still have to study all the books, curriculum and information we received while at the training. I do have some ideas rolling around in my head though. I think to start, I’ll do a pilot program with a small group just so that I can get my “feet wet” and my materials ready.

The mighty 26 who are ready to TEACH!
The mighty 26 who are ready to TEACH!

Regardless, the fire has been lit and I am eager to get teaching! There is so much power behind food. There is no denying that it directly correlates to our health and well being. I think everyone knows and understands this but I also think, they could use a friend … a helping hand … a TEACHER to help them traverse what may seem like a difficult road ahead. I hope to be that person.

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

 

 

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TRANSFORMATION

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Heart disease is also 100% preventable. It is a life-style disease and if you have it, it can be reversed through diet and lifestyle changes.

February is Heart Health Month which coincides with Hallmark’s favorite “holiday” … Valentine’s Day. Quite obviously planned that way, I am sure.

What you may not know however, is that February is also the anniversary of my mom’s passing … from a heart attack. Do you see the theme here?

My mom.
My mom and a creepy clown.

She was 47 years old when she passed from a massive heart attack with very little warning. Two months prior, I had celebrated my 17th birthday and the joy of finally having a driver’s license.

My dad was turning 50 in early February as well and my mom worked endlessly planning a huge surprise birthday party for him.

She worked on every detail. She was so excited at who was coming and was busy buying all kinds of “over the hill” decorations.

It was also around this time, that I was making a more conscious (and vocal) effort to stop eating meat. Growing up I was never a huge fan of the stuff. There were a few things I would eat but I hated turkey and would always try and hide it under my mashed potatoes. 🙂

The party came and was a huge success. Two weeks later, she was gone.

The last photo of the four of us together - at my Dad's 50th party.
The last photo of the four of us together – at my Dad’s 50th party.

For those that know me now, that photo may be a bit of a shocker.

Me at 17 vs Me now
Me at 17 vs Me now

I’ve always admired the “success stories” that I see online of those who have been transformed physically that I guess I never really saw my own transformation until I revisited these photos recently.

Then vs Now
Then vs Now

Yet, the transformation that I love the most, is how my mind set changed after my mom’s passing. Whether intentional or subconscious, I made the connection between eating certain things and heart health.

The older and more mature I became, I would learn to research, read and understand the connection fully and more importantly, implement it daily.

Now it is a way of life for me. I can’t recall anything else and there is no other way I would want to live. Do you know why?

Peanut & Squeaker
Peanut & Squeaker

Those two blonde cuties right there. Having turned 40 not too long ago, it hasn’t gone unnoticed in my own brain that I am just now 7 years younger than when my mom left this Earth and more importantly my family. In 7 years, the Peanut will be roughly 16 years old herself. I am certain that history will not repeat itself.

How am I so certain? Because I am in control. I know that cholesterol only resides in animal products. Think chicken is a better choice? It contains the same amount of cholesterol as red meat. Eggs? One egg has as much cholesterol as a Double Whopper. Think about that. One egg!? And don’t get me started on oil (any oil) – it has the potential to impair the flow of blood to your heart significantly not to mention it is highly caloric and contains no nutritional benefits.

Don’t worry, I am not going to turn this into a “don’t eat meat or oil post” … (but seriously, don’t) instead, I want you to stop and think about what you are putting in your mouth in connection with how you feel on a daily basis.

I didn’t jump right into kale salads mind you. I went through a junk-food vegan phase. Sure, Frito’s and Oreo’s are vegan but let’s be honest, that is not food, not really. It took time.

And like me, you may still envision yourself looking a certain way when in reality, you probably do not look like your 17 year old self anymore. While we are at it, how are you FEELING?

Do you get out of breath easily? Is it hard to get out of bed? Can you walk a mile easily? Do you get leg cramps? Acid Reflux?  Sadly, heart disease does not often come with a warning. You don’t necessarily have to have high cholesterol or blood pressure either to have heart disease (my dad didn’t and he also suffered a heart attack).

There is a reason heart disease is called the silent killer. Sometimes the only warning that you get, is when you are having a full-blown heart attack and by then, it may be too late.

Don’t kid yourself. Everyone is getting older. Moderation is not “okay” anymore. As Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, the author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease has said, “If you eat unhealthy foods in moderation, then you’ll have a moderate heart attack.

I miss my mom every day. I often say: If I knew then what I know now, she’d still be here. Yet I might not know what I know now, if she hadn’t had a heart attack. I might still look like my 17 year old self, but with gray hair and quite possibly a few pounds heavier.

People often think Vans and I are so “fit” because we bike and run. That is only a small piece of the puzzle. When I was 17, I was playing basketball, softball and soccer – all year round and sometimes two sports at one time! You wouldn’t know it though by that photo.

Thin doesn’t equate healthy. I want you to look inside. I want you to really look. What is most important to you right now?

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Is it really worth jeopardizing your health, your life, your family to consume something that has the potential to stop the flow of blood to your heart? Forever?

Medication only masks the problem. It doesn’t fix it. Food, the right food (aka plant-based whole foods), can fix it. The right food, can reverse the damage that has already been done. The right food can allow you to see your children grow, walk them down the aisle and have grandchildren. The right food, can save your life.

We’re only given one heart … take care of it.

My heart belongs to these three right here.
My heart is no longer mine. It belongs to these three right here.

~Trailmomma

If you want more information, I urge you to please watch this video and read Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease or visit Dr. Esselstyn’s website.

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