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AUTHENTICALLY BOLD: REBECCA

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Empowerment

Accountability – Do We Owe It?

Personal accountability seems to be at an all- time low. Do you agree? Owning our actions, our words and every aspect of our daily lives seems to be tantamount. For everything that goes wrong in our lives, we seem pretty quick as a society to cast blame outwardly. Perhaps, it is time we start to reflect inwardly and own up to our personal responsibility for holding ourselves accountable.

accountability

My intention is for this to be a several part series as accountability applies to many components of our lives: from work, to health, to our children, and to each other as a society.  My first post hits a sensitive nerve on a topic way too close to home:  our health and cancer.

Nod your head in agreement as I casually comment on how the cancer diagnoses seem to be rising; or rather, how you know of this one and that one who has battled or is currently battling some form of cancer. Yes? Of course! Even though I am a cancer advocate, I am meeting someone new each week – EVERY @#$&%@ SINGLE WEEK – to whom I am introduced to by someone who wishes for me to offer the “been there, done that” spiel to their friend, their neighbor, their colleague, their aunt, or even themselves.

Personally, I am beyond frustrated as each year BILLIONS of dollars are poured into the various cancer fundraising vehicles….and yet, every week as I mentioned above, I am talking to *new* people with cancer regularly. The so-called quest for a “cure” makes me even more nuts as I do not believe the solution is on the horizon. I wish for the scientists to continue looking for the elusive piece of the puzzle, but in the meantime, what do we do *NOW*?

Why are we not talking about the responsibility we owe ourselves in ensuring our good health?

acccountability sign

What is *CAUSING* these seemingly higher incidents of cancer? Why are we not looking for the root cause just as much, if not more than, the cure?

Cancer is normal. Yes, cancer is very normal. Cancer happens to our cells as part of basic biology; always has and always will. What appears to be different is that our immune systems have become somewhat compromised and our ability to fight off various cancers has diminished. What on earth is compromising our immune systems? Where do we begin………

Whereas I do not wish to get into a scientific debate here, I simply want people to recognize the power of accountability. If we know something carries a higher risk of causing cancer, why do we do it?  Why do we not take a more preventative approach to better health?  Why do we take our bodies for granted?

Prior to 2007, I was one of those people who took my health for granted. I most certainly did. I was barely into my thirties at the time, why would my health even be on my radar aside from regular physicals?

Did I ever stop and think about what I put into my mouth? Sure, when I felt my love handles being more than a handful or when my folds of my stomach climbed upward into flabalanche status. I thought more about eating healthier for a few weeks at a time, but purely for the sake of losing weight for vanity sake. I never once thought about extra weight putting me at a higher risk for breast cancer.  Wasn’t I too young?

Did I worry about microwaving plastic, melamine, or using other modern day items of convenience, including Styrofoam? Why would I? I was much too busy and chaotic to worry about things that made my life faster, quicker, more convenient, more on the go and just *easier*.  Why would these things possibly impact my health?

Did I think about the lotion I rubbed vigorously into every inch of my skin post-shower? No. Why would I? I smelled good and my skin was soft. Did I think more about the different face cream I smoothed into the creases around my eyes or my smile lines? No. What about the cleanser I used at the end of the day to remove my make up?  Who cares what ingredients were in all of these different products?

Did I worry about the stress in my life? Sure, sometimes I did but not as a Mack Truck about to steamroll my very core being into a fight for its life. When I thought about the often times incapacitating stress in my life; I did not picture being able to make choices to *fix* my chaos, I only daydreamed about an escape…..or more so, a *time-out* so that I could focus on just me for a moment.

Oh, I got that so-called time-out alright.  What went wrong in me that I was just shy of a Stage three breast cancer diagnosis at age 33?  I have had plenty of time to consider all the potential *causes* of my cancer.  For a while, I racked my brain thinking of what *it* was that directly caused my disease:

  • Was it all the McDonald’s, Bagel Dogs and ramen noodles I ate in college?
  • Was it the chemicals I was exposed to all the times I spent hanging out with dad at his construction sites?
  • Was it the mercury I used to roll around in my hands after breaking an old-fashioned thermometer?
  • Was it all the body care products I used that were chock full of parabens?
  • Was it the insane amount of stress I was under from a ridiculously demanding job coupled with being a care-taker to my aging and high-maintenance parents while managing my own young family?

Who knows?  The list could go on and on and on…………

I will never know the precise *trigger* of my cancer and I am okay with that. However, I now know my health really begins with ME. I have to be accountable and held responsible for ME.

My children have a much higher rate of disease now, thanks to my diagnosis. I want to enable all three of my kids to be pro-active and make better choices than I was ever equipped to make. I want my friends to be pro-active instead of reactive. Why go through the horrors that I did?  Having watched my best friend go through a much different cancer battle in the past year makes me want to SCREAM this at all of you!

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Do we not owe ourselves some level of accountability? If we knew a battle lies ahead, wouldn’t we run out and get whatever weapons we could in our arsenal, to help us protect and defend our home lines; the very place where our most beloved reside? Of course we would! Why are we not using the same concept with our bodies and our health?

We *KNOW* that eating a palate of fresh vegetables, clean meats and plentiful amounts of water are ideal.

We *KNOW* that regular exercise is good for us.

We *KNOW* that exposure to certain chemicals increases a multitude of health concerns and issues.

We *KNOW* that stress wears us down, makes us sick and causes friction in our daily lives.

Where’s the accountability? What can we do to effectuate change *BEFORE* it is too late?

For me, I do not want to get cancer again so my changes have been pretty dramatic. I want my children to learn from me now, post 2007-2008 and post-cancer. I want my babies to be equipped to make better life choices than I ever did. Will they? I do not know but I want them to have a balance. Yes, Slim Jims are disgusting and totally unhealthy for you. However, having an occasional Slim Jim through-out the year will not cause extensive damage because you are eating your healthy nutrition all the other times, coupled with regular exercise, stress maintenance and using the lowest possible chemical exposure on top of it.

For you, promise me that you will *think* about your accountability here and there. Give yourself a handful of reasons why you should be pro-active when it comes to YOU! We live in a fast-paced, uber-convenient society that takes nearly every luxury for granted. Find five…….. (5)……only five (!) ways you can be more aware in your life. What matters most to you or what is easiest for you to own accountability for in your life?

Here are some easy examples:

Check your grocery cart before checking out. Are there any products that you can find a better version of that has less processed or chemical ingredients? Maybe you do not need that product at all.  Read your labels.

Check your personal care products. Find safe products or perhaps find ones that will work for you with less toxic chemicals. What are your children using? You will find them safer products, right?  Read your labels.

Check your exercise routine. You do not have to be all insane and crazy like some people we know. (Ahem, are you looking at me?) Even if you *despise* exercise, there are so many ways to incorporate a little more in your daily life: park further away, take the stairs, or find a friend to take a walk with before you share that bottle of wine.  What works for you that you will create a habit of?

Check your daily stress. Many of us feel trapped and unable to make a change. Sometimes, a lower paying job or reducing the household bills will make all the difference in the amount of stress taxing you on a regular basis.  Change begins with YOU.

Find a buddy to help keep you accountable. Write your five goals down and share it with your spouse or your friend. When you hit those five goals, aim for five more and before you know it – you have made massive lifestyle changes and you are paving the way for your children, our future generations, to live in a *hopefully* healthier, less cancer filled world.

Are you in?

steer yourself

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What Story Are You Telling Yourself?

Recently, I had three different people from different walks of my life tell me they were holding back from their exercise in particular; one was returning to her gym, another considering joining a new place to work out, and the third just wanting to do something but unable to just pull the trigger.

Immediately, and independently of one another, I asked each of them what was delaying their return or their actual start. Instinctively, I began coaxing them that each day they did not embark into their desired athletic routine was another day they failed to get stronger. What did they have to lose? Except another day of added strength and good health because they feared what? Get in there! So what if you need to start at what you consider “ground zero” from a fitness perspective; you will walk out of there stronger or fitter than when you first came in. Chip away at your fitness goals, but you have to take that first step in order to get there.

hold back

All three of them had various reasons why they were hesitant: one was ultimately scared, one was nervous about trying a new gym/exercise and the third just does not prioritize herself. Three women, one week, all putting up roadblocks to personal goals they sought to pursue.

And then I realized I had been doing the same thing – holding myself back.

Nearly two months post Boston Marathon, I have only recently returned regularly to my Crossfit and regular activities from a labral tear in my hip. Every day I would wake up and say to myself, “Today! Today is the day I’m back at Crossfit!” Every day for two weeks, something would come up – whether it was a kid activity, or a viral bug that went through the household, or even slight hip pain and I would not make it in to Crossfit. Enough with the excuses (whether they are good, bad or indifferent), the bottom line is that using my injury as an excuse was getting old and quickly so. I was holding myself back because I did not *feel* ready. Rationally, I knew my coach would help me modify my workout. Irrationally, I knew I would get caught up in the momentum and want to push myself further. Rationally, I knew my coach would be ALLUPINMYBUSINESS and not allow me to push beyond what was acceptable for my current state of mobility. Irrationally, I did not want to put myself into that position to have to tell him to GETOUTOFMYFACE (and risk further injury to myself at the cheap cost of some endorphins) as I proved to myself and the world that I was BAAACCCCKKKKK.

worst enemy yourself

Humble, humble, I tucked my little tail between my legs and resurfaced in my local Crossfit box a couple of weeks ago. I was welcomed beyond expectation as my fellow Crossfitters were happy to see me and cushioned my re-entry with kind words like “Welcome Back! We missed you!” Knowing, sympathetic glances were cast my way as my projected and envisioned trajectory into that day’s WOD would be a bumpy ride, at best. Yes, I baby-stepped my way right back into the world of DOMS (that’s delayed onset muscle soreness just so you know) and my brain gobbled up the swirling adrenaline rush and endorphin party. My muscles seem to have a better memory than my body’s fitness. The strength came naturally and the cardio nearly made me die. Snatches felt great (not MY snatch, the overhead barbell movement perverts) and burpees felt not so great. Okay, I lied, the burpees not only hurt my hip they crushed, steamrolled, pounded my ego with the resounding scream that nearly escaped my lips as I tried to bang out five @#$%&*! burpees every minute on the minute (amongst deadlifts and wall balls, thank you very much).

Holding myself back. Um, yes. Why? Because I feared not being able to perform like I was pre-marathon. Does anyone care how I perform? Um, no. Yes, I do. Yes, my coach does. However, the expectations, at least from normal people, are that you must build back up again. Why is that a fearful process? If a friend hurts themselves, the first thing you would advise them to do is go slow, steady and be smart and careful about working back up to their pre-injury routine. Right? Right. However, often times it is much easier to rationalize a different story for ourselves and mold our thought process to fit our justification accordingly.

The realization is that we need to stop and ask ourselves, “What Story Are You Telling Yourself?” Really. Yes! Ask yourself. Stop, breathe, ponder that question for a moment – and find out if your story is true to you.

What do I mean? Here’s an example: during my marathon traiing, endless numbers of people commented, “Ohhhh, good for you. I can’t run.” Reallly? You can’t? Or do you choose not to? It is okay if you choose not to, but do not say you cannot run. Everyone can run. You have two legs and unless you have a physical disability, you can run. Is your story that you cannot run? My question in response will be what activity is it you do like to do?

Running is not for everyone, nor is Crossfit. I happen to like both, for very different reasons. I do not like to Zumba or do yoga. My story is not that I cannot do them, because physically, I can. Dancing is not considered exercise to me, I only partake in busting a move when being goofy (like last week when “Buffalo Stance” suddenly came on the radio while I was waiting to pick up my kid at the movie theater), or when I have had a few drinks (and I suddenly think I am a former Fly Girl). Yoga is great, but not my preferred cup of tea (I prefer to literally kick my own ass). But I CAN do them.

doms

Lately, I have asked myself again, “What Story Are You Telling Yourself” with respect to other aspects of my life. As I seek to discover a way to morph more of my passions into the forefront of my life, I am tethered down with the need to earn a paycheck and pay bills. Alas, more thoughts of me holding myself back and I am forced to ponder what precisely I intend to do about it.

More friends convey similar patterns in their respective lives – afraid to make career moves because of the story they tell themselves. Do you have friends who are afraid to undertake particular activities? Is that person YOU? Are you going to settle for the same old, comfortable layer of explanations on why they cannot do something? Are you going to say you cannot? Because I will tell you that you CAN!

Everybody has the capacity to dream up and believe anything he/she wants to.  Why is it so easy to fall into the trap of your story? Chapters may not be rewritten, but future chapters are certainly open to strategic outline, careful planning and most certainly execution. Is it easy to hide behind the most comfortable version of our book of life rather than seek out the change we most desire? Most of you that I know are not lazy people by nature, so I know it is not languor that drags you down. Most of you are not fearful people, but is it fear or even anxiety that prevents you from tweaking your life story? When I find fear entering my life, I have to remind myself of the old question itself: What’s the WORST that can happen? In my particular version, I simply pick myself up and dust myself off a thousand times over. Sometimes, it is easy and other times, it is soul-crushingly hard. However, that person I am picking up is stronger, healthier, smarter, kinder, and resilient enough to go at it again and that feels good.

chase dreams

So, what story are you telling yourself?

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