Five for Friday: The Breast Cancer Awareness Edition & Colonial Candle Giveaway

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and as women in our 40s that has significant meaning for us in particular. The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older). But it’s not all bad news. Over the past few decades breast cancer cure rates and treatment options have gained strides and there’s an ever increasing network of support and resources for the women, and men, affected by breast cancer. Here are five helpful websites and organizations that support prevention and finding a cure:

1.  NBCAM – National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is a collaboration of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to services.

2. Prevent Cancer Foundation Prevent Cancer Foundation strives to reduce cancer mortality rates by focusing individual behaviors, public policy and discussion, and research on prevention and early detection.

3. Men Against Breast CancerMen Against Breast Cancer educates and empowers men to be effective caregivers to those impacted by cancer.

4. The American Cancer Society – Comprehensive breast cancer pages on The American Cancer Society site offer information on understanding pathology reports, signs, symptoms and mammogram reminders.

5. Avon Foundation: Breast Cancer Crusade – Since 1992, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade has worked to help prevent, treat and ultimately eradicate breast cancer. With more than $780 million raised and donated to breast cancer programs around the world through 2012, Avon is the leading corporate supporter of the cause globally. This year Colonial Candle is teaming with the Avon Foundation to support research to find a cure. 10% of the proceeds from sales of Colonial Candle’s Pretty in Pink candles will be donated to the Avon Foundation. Pretty in Pink is a 16 oz. 3-wick oval jar candle. The fragrance is a soft floral blend of gardenia and jasmine topped with fresh greens.The candles retail for $25 and are available online.

To help spread the word about available breast cancer awareness resources and about Colonial Candle’s Pretty in Pink promotion, Women at Forty is giving away two of these beautiful candles. To enter the drawing, simply hit like on the Facebook , Twitter or any of the share buttons below or repost directly from our Facebook page. Only one candle per household/family.

Edit: Please leave  your first name & last initial in the comment section at the bottom of the post so I can properly track your entry. The FB like button isn’t including the proper info (but please, keep liking too) – Thanks!

Thanks for reading and sharing. Let’s keep working towards prevention and finding a cure!

You don’t have to hate who you are to want to change

You can want to be stronger, more fit, slimmer, heavier (yes, those women exist) without telling yourself that you hate the woman you are now.

I don’t think you have to shame the body you have to want to change it in some way.

But for some of us it’s very hard. The weekly weigh-ins that inspire some, trigger anxiety and stress in others.  The “Fitspiration” images that cover Pinterest walls (including mine) motivate some while indicting others. The carbs that fuel runners before a race can send those with gluten sensitivity and other issues into a downward spiral.

And if you’ve ever struggled with an eating disorder, the simplest news story, blog post or image can trigger a cascade of negative emotions and self flagellation. But it doesn’t have to be like this. It shouldn’t be like this. Our bodies are our blessings and we should treat them that way regardless of their shape or size. It takes practice to be kind to ourselves – to replace negative thought with positive, shame with appreciation.

I found this great infographic, from The National Eating Disorder Association, that helps us practice. I printed it out, laminated it, and stuck it to my wall. If you struggle with an eating disorder (or even if you don’t), you should too…

Drunken Wipeout Asana and other things I’m learning from practicing yoga

I once thought yoga was the domain of lanky, toned women with hipster yoga pants and tiny yoga tops. It was a practice for the incredibly calm and fit, not for women in their 40s and beyond, and certainly not for women like me who sweat like the men in those World Strongest Men competitions who pull aircraft across fields. And, if you did yoga in a hot room, you could lose weight. Or pass out. But you’d be smaller when you passed out.

That’s pretty much what I thought yoga was about. Oh, and a lot of weird chanting and finger poses.

Then I met Lisa and learned that yoga is so much more.

Lisa teaches yoga at her studio (among other locations) here in Atlanta. As the name of her studio proclaims, Yoga is For All Bodies. Lisa’s classes are a diverse, beautiful mix of women and men of all shapes, sizes, ages, spiritual beliefs and ethnic groups. She also has a wicked sense of humor. None of which I’d ever associated with yoga before.

After I injured my knee I was looking for something to do that would keep me moving without further aggravating the knee. And, as with so much of what I do in my life (somewhat unfortunately but I’m working on it), I wanted to do something that would help me lose a bunch weight (that day!) or at the very least, not gain any.

But instead of a practice that focused on weight loss, burning calories or out-yogaing (that is a word) fellow classmates, what I got was a practice and a teacher whose focus is on the whole self, the importance of breathing, and listening non-judgementally to our bodies – no matter our shape, size or age.

I had a chance to talk to Lisa after class one afternoon and several things she said resonated with me;

This practice is about surrender and acceptance.

It’s about viewing our bodies more compassionately.

As we get older, our fitness is less about appearance and more about practicality – for example, a strong core might look good, but more importantly it means a healthier back.

And through regular practice with someone who gets the mind-body connection…

I’m learning that in the pause between the inhale and the exhale there’s a stillness and quietness that gives me strength.

I’m learning not to refer to my “bad” knee or “wonky” back, but instead be grateful for the knee that challenges me to listen more carefully to my body and as a result treat it better.

And I’m learning that even when you wipe-out so badly while attempting a pose, that you bounce off a wall and crumple to the floor (heretofore known as Drunken Wipeout Asana), it’s all good.

Initially I thought I’d just take yoga classes until my knee got better, but I’m so enamored with it now I’m thinking Na-ma-ste :-).  I couldn’t resist.

 

Lisa Cohen has been teaching Hot Style yoga for nearly 7 years with 100 hour certifications in both Hot Core Power Yoga and Hot Vinyasa yoga. She has recently finished her 200 hour yoga teacher training to become certified to teach Pranakriya yoga, a kripalu based hatha yoga lineage. You can learn more about Lisa, her very  affordable yoga classes, and Decatur Atlanta Yoga for All Bodies here.

 

 

I fell off the wagon. It involved a talking brick pizza oven.

I fell off the wagon.

And then it fell on me.

And it wasn’t so much a wagon as it was a brick pizza oven.

And it took me two three four days to get it off me.

To make matters worse, somewhere along the second day, the wagon brought in back-up in the form of a brownie, a piece of chocolate cake and maybe curly fries, but by that time I was so delirious, I may have been hallucinating. (I was not.)

What’s the backstory?

On my fit-at forty quest to become the healthiest and best me yet, a few months ago I cut out simple carbs and sugar.  I’m not a dessert person by nature so giving up sugar wasn’t hard. The pasta and the bread though…not so much. But after a few weeks I didn’t miss it.

So we’re clear, I’m not suggesting that the only way to get or stay fit at 40 is to completely give up bread, pasta and dessert. Millions of people eat those things every day and are healthy, in good shape, yadayadayada. I am not one of those people. I never will be. I have come to a place where I’m ok with that.

So last Wednesday when I met some friends at an Italian Restaurant, I went with the best of intentions. Salads are always on the menu, and lucky for me, I love salad.

But the Italian restaurant had an authentic brick oven whose fiery pits roared seductively, “Grace…Grace…andiamo, andiamo!”

Never able to resist anything with an Italian accent, I relented, and ate.

And ate.

And then, in case I had forgotten, ate some more.

The thing I know about me and simple carbs is this: I just can’t do them. We don’t work well together. Not even a little. We’re sorta like this pre-k ballerina throw-down, except the teachers don’t step in in time to break us up. The signal that turns itself on to let me know to STOP EATING, is apparently also easily seduced by an Italian accent.

The wagon and I fought a vicious battle for the next 72 96 hours, with the wagon having a particularly strong Friday night.

But, the battle isn’t always to the swift, or the strong, and victory belongs to the last woman standing, which I was finally able to do on Saturday Sunday morning.

I make light about my battle with compulsive eating and carb-addiction, because frankly, after nearly 30 years of dealing with it, if I don’t make light of it, it will defeat me. If there’s one thing I’d caution anyone involved in the care, treatment and loving of young girls, it would be this – guard intensely, the messages she gets about her self-worth as it relates to her body and beauty. Don’t allow her to define herself by her measurements, her weight, her skin color, her hair length, and on and on and on – and DON’T add to the chorus of voices from the media, other family, society etc. that tell her that that’s exactly how she should define herself. Because as she gets older, it will be very hard for her to quiet those voices in her head, no matter how smart or strong she is. I know because 30 years later I’m still battling those demons.

The beauty of doing all this in my 40s is that while my body is still (relatively) forgiving if I give it time, it remembers. Our bodies forgive, but they no longer forget. Gone are the days that I could plow through the mystery meat at the college food truck at 1:00am, and hop out of bed the next day as if nothing had happened. And that’s a good thing.  My body won’t let me continue to treat it badly. It’s had enough, and so have I.

Fallen off any wagons lately? Share your thoughts in the comment section or email me at grace(@) womenatforty (dot) com.

The devil is a liar and so is that scale I stepped on this morning…

In my fantasy world, at 40+ I wouldn’t still be having this conversation/battle/issue.  My MIND knows that the scale is not the only indicator of health, what I did or didn’t do right last week, or how great a human being I am. My mind knows this. My HEART though, sinks, every time I get on that *&!#@ scale and it hasn’t budged, a bit. Or worse, displays a number that is mind bogglingly higher than it was the day, week or month before. Sinks. Every time.

I’ve been journaling since I can remember. I have years worth of cute little journals dating back from when all I longed for was for so-and-so to do such-and-such or my heart would shatter. As I got older the heartfelt pining  evolved into writing about my faith, the world around me, gratitude – you name it. The one constant? Writing about my weight – how much I weighed. How much I didn’t weigh. How much weight I would lose this week and the week after that. When I got computer savvy I even started including charts and graphs detailing goal weight vs. actual weight, calories, carbs, proteins… I may have even included some algorithms and theorems. No.

All of this plotting, planning and predicting served to place the emphasis on the numbers on the scale and not what I was putting into my body. Ironically (or not) the time in my life when I was at my healthiest – when I was taking Karate classes (yes, I am, in fact, a yellow belt), playing tennis a couple of times a week, going out bowling with friends and eating a mainly vegetarian diet, I didn’t own a scale. I had no idea how much I weighed, and I couldn’t have cared less.  I also couldn’t have been happier. I miss being in that place. My mind misses that place, and so does my body.

So, why do otherwise intelligent women beat themselves up about that number? Why do we abuse ourselves mentally (and sometimes physically) in a manner we wouldn’t allow anyone else to treat us? Is it about health? For many of us yes, but it goes beyond a quest for health for many others and borders on the edge of self-acceptance and self-worth.

As I was reviewing the draft of this post I came across this post from a blogger I follow. It talks about the vicious cycle of daily weighing and why we shouldn’t do it. I couldn’t agree more. Yet, I still find myself wanting to check the scale more mornings than not.

What’s your relationship with your scale? Is it different now than it was when you were younger? Please share your thoughts in the comment section or on the Facebook page.