New Year, New Woman & Life-Changing Resolutions

As we usher in the beginning 2018, or any new year, the focus is always on creating a list of New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions that are either spectacularly achieved or broken quicker than the time it took to utter these statements into existence. I have been partial to this frenetic, societally pressured activity in January. Everywhere on social media, the world professes commitment to earnest, well intentioned and potentially life-changing resolutions with health, fitness and lifestyle goals being the most popular. The only New Year’s resolution which I made, and kept, was a couple of years ago whereby I committed to cutting back on my sugar intake for six months. I relegated Sunday as the only day I could eat anything remotely unhealthy. Proud of my achievement, instead of committing this to a lifetime action, I slowly relaxed back into my old eating habits and indulged in my go-to unhealthy treats of ice-cream, cakes, chocolate and crisps on a more regular basis throughout the week.

However, an event in September 2017 changed my life forever from which I committed to lifetime and life-changing, lifestyle resolutions. On the 14th September, the day before my birthday, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully the small four millimetre breast cancer lesion was successfully removed and my lymph nodes cancer free. Emerging from the initial shock and enormity of the situation, I knew that my long term after-cancer survival would require both subtle and drastic changes to the way I lived my life. With only four months passing since my cancer ordeal started, I am still at the beginning of my post-cancer journey; and who knows what the future will hold in terms of the cancer being banished for good from my body or whether it decides to pay me another unwelcome visit. Every day is a blessing and my commitment to a healthier lifestyle is steadfast, strong and lifelong.

Before cancer, I thought I was living a healthy existence 80% of the time, allowing myself to indulge in the not-so-healthy treats 20% of the time. My food intake consisted of primarily vegetables, fruit, seafood, meat, eggs, bread, grains, nuts/seeds and dairy with a few legumes and grain thrown in for good measure. I drank water daily, enjoyed my morning cup of tea or two and indulged in coffee on the weekends or when my energy levels really flagged at work. Rarely would I drink sugary soft drinks or grocery store fruit juice. My unhealthy indulgences were predominantly ice-cream, chocolate, crisps and the occasional fast-food meal. And yes, I drank alcohol which started in my late teens; which I now know increases the risk of breast cancer amongst other things like being a woman, late onset menopause, having no children etc.

As for physical activity, I grew up on a farm, rode horses throughout my childhood, played sport at primary and high school, and started fast-walking for exercise in my late teens and early twenties which continues on today. Over the years I have sporadically taken up gym fitness classes, running, yoga and doing exercise routines at home; however nothing really stuck with regularity except for walking. Gym junkie has never been a word used to describe my fitness type or approach. I’m more of an outside, fresh air fitness archetype and considered myself more in the middle of the fitness spectrum; being reasonably fit versus the couch potato or marathon runner side of things. Research has shown that 150 minutes of exercise can reduce the reoccurrence of breast cancer by 40%. And that this needs include vigorous cardio exercise. My walking three or four times a week wasn’t going to cut it any more.

Who knows why cancer arrived on my doorstep. Maybe my food, alcohol and exercise choices were not so innocent bystanders; maybe my mind, attitude, sense of self worth played a part in this story. Who knows? I would probably render myself insane trying to find the answer, so instead I choose to focus forward and on the things that I can change. I have added certain foods to my diet, reduced others like animal protein and completely eliminated others with the aim of nourishing my cells and body with natural, plant-based whole foods. Alcohol, dairy, refined sugar and processed food are off the menu. I have also upped my exercise game adding regular weight bearing exercises and vigorous, sweaty cardio activity. My next challenge is to sort out my mind and shake off doubts that cling to my soul; and push through the overwhelming fear that every so often leaves me paralysed, spinning on the hamster wheel of inaction.

Even though it’s relentless, my commitment to healthy, whole food plant based eating is unwavering. My commitment to regular weight bearing, sweaty and heart racing exercise is also steadfast. My commitment to manifesting my dreams and full potential still burns strong; whether in fashion or other creative pursuits. And thanks to cancer, at age 48, I am finally on the road to gaining the fit, muscle toned body I always desired. There is no other alternative but to stay alive, healthy and cancer free for many years to come.









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