I recently went through quite an experience with my health. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2015. Following my diagnosis, I underwent a treatment regimen of chemotherapy, double mastectomy, and then, 28 rounds of radiation. 

Before my diagnosis, I felt the healthiest I have probably, in my whole life. I was exercising regularly. Eating, conscious of my health. And after birthing three kids in 6 years, finding ways to focus on myself once again. And then — WHAM — cancer. 

Excuuuuuuuuse me?!?! Cancer?!?

I was, for all intents and purposes, a 33-year-old with great habits and a great mindset about health. But, even healthy people can endure health struggles. And so, you just have to learn to roll with the punches. 

During chemo and treatment, it was difficult for me to exercise much more than walking to a mailbox or an occasional run. And then, by the time I hit radiation, my immunity was shot. And, I’d be starting the daily regimen of shutting my hormones down and blocking them to prevent future cancers and was warned that could make for weight gain and other side effects. 

So now, I am even more focused on little (and some big things) I can do to keep this mama’s bod healthy and to hang around for as long as possible. 

Here are 20 easy things I do or have recently made a focus and YOU can do them, too {big fat disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, a dietician, a doctor, or any sort of medical professional. Please consult your physician and figure out the correct changes for you!}:

  1.  Kick the soda habit: oh oh oh. I loved myself a Diet Coke. But what the heck is aspartame?! I really don’t know. Do you? I mean, I know it’s something that did not come from nature. So, less fake in means I decided to give up my daily one or two sodas. For now, my exchange has been to drink iced tea if I want caffeine, sparkling waters or just plain ol’ tap water instead. I’ve been off soda for a little over a month now and went at it cold turkey. 
  2. Apple cider vinegar: one shot daily helps me perfect my duck face. And according to my chiropractor friend, it also helps like every part of my body keep well-oiled like the tin man. It keeps gut flora healthy and can help seasonal allergies and colds stay at bay. And, it’s known for its immunity boosting super powers. 
  3. Coconut sugar: this is another one from my chiro friend but apparently coconut sugar breaks down differently in your body than even organic sugar or sucralose soooo – why not give it a shot it baking and coffee, if that’s your thing?
  4. Greens: something green on every plate. Even if it’s just the green hat marshmallows in your lucky charms (clearly not true.). This keeps the pipes unclogged and it helps the bones from gettin’ brittle. 
  5. H2Ohmyyess: water. Water. Water. Allllllll day. Allllll day, people. In fact, if you made one change to your daily routine and simply made sure to have ten 8 oz glasses a day, I think you’d be thrilled with the way it makes you feel. 
  6. Pump (clap) you up: or run. Or walk. Or yogafy. Or do Jazzercise. Or swim laps. Get your body moving every day in some way. This does not mean you have to be in full P90x sweat every day. It means that the more you are sedentary, the more your body gets used to that and it starts to operate under the assumption that you don’t need it to be in shape to get physical. 
  7. Buy local: in talking to doctors, health professionals, and even farmers, it would seem that while organic is the buzz word of the time we live in, it’s actually even better for your body if you buy local. You can actually ask the producers what they use on their crop or what they feed their livestock and you are giving back to the local economy. Win/win. 
  8. Daily vitamin: actually take it. Daily. But don’t count on supplements to do the heavy hitting. They are only meant to do exactly that — supplement — fill in as needed. You still need a balanced diet. Chock full of real stuff. 
  9. Switch your milk: if you are concerned about hormones for any reason, switch to a nut milk (or as one of my friends like to refer to them “nut juices” because where are the udders?). I traded regular milk for cashew milk. It’s one little change I can make to take soy or extra hormones out. And the taste and I are good with each other. 
  10. Eat dessert first: I truly believe this. If you really want dessert, eat it. First. Then you’re not stuffing yourself fuller when you’re already full. 
  11. Don’t eat clean: call it moderation. Call it healthy. But nothing irks this survivor more than the term “eating clean.” I think it sends red flags to your brain that all other foods are “dirty” or “off limits” and if you eat them, you should feel bad, or “work them off,” or deny yourself your cravings. And none of those things are healthy habits to me. Food is fuel. Food is enjoyable. Let it have a place for both in your stomach and in your mind. 
  12. Moderation: this is essentially the same as the previous bullet but when I asked my oncologist what I should do with my diet, he and my surgical oncologist both agreed: eat everything in moderation. Taking out all carbs or all sugar or all meat or all fat or all dairy would be depriving my body of some essential things it needs. So, moderation. The key. Unless you have major issues within your body from a certain food that has been verified by a doctor. Then, it’s legit to quit. 
  13. Portion control: I mean. Restaurants are out of their gourds most of the time on the serving sizes. Eat until you are satisfied and then stop. Enjoy food. Don’t engorge on food. 
  14. Pray. Meditate. Read. Get sunshine. Deep breathe. Do something that takes your focus off all the noise. Rebalance your mind.
  15. You can always get what you want: again. If you are out to eat, don’t get some crap off the “skinny menu” because it has the word skinny in it. Get what you want. Enjoy a reasonable amount. And be happy that you don’t have order envy the rest of the day. 
  16. Make your own…: dressing. Mini corn dogs. Breakfast sandwich. Oatmeal. If you can’t read the ingredients and there are 17 bazillion of them, look for an alternative to make. If nothing else, you’ll have tons of fun taking pics of Pinterest fails. 
  17. Call in a sub: sub quinoa for pasta. Sub black beans for refried. Sub hummus for mayo. Look at things that you don’t really care about and figure out what a healthier substitute might be. 
  18. Try something new: every time you are getting groceries, buy a new item from the produce section and figure out how to prepare it. It’s like an adventure every week.
  19. Laugh. Daily. Surround yourself with people who truly make you happy. There is nothing like a Debbie Downer to drown your positive energy and leave a toxic trail behind. 
  20. Throw spinach in smoothies. Flax in pancakes. Ground turkey in spaghetti. Garbanzo beans in your salad. Black beans in with a jar of pre-made salsa. Find ways to bury healthy foods within existing foods and recipes. You’ll feel fuller with the good stuff. And you’ll get your vitamins covered for the day. 

So, my friends, those are this mama’s thoughts. Make health a lifestyle. Not a pant-size goal. Not a number on the scale. Make it something you can sustain and take on for the long haul, otherwise, after your “cheating” or your time off, you’ll feel like a failure. And ain’t no mama got time for that. Healthy attitudes flow down to our kids and make healthy habits for generations ahead. And that may be the most important goal of all. 

Share with us, what are your fave healthy attitudes that transform your life each day, give you energy, and make you feel like your body is ready for every adventure. 

Ashli Brehm

Ashli Brehm = Thirtysomething. Nebraska gal. Life blogger. Husker fan. Creative writer. Phi Mu sister. Breast cancer survivor. Boymom. Premie carrier. Happy wife. Gilmore Girls fanatic. Amos Lee listener. Coffee & La Croix drinker. Sarcasm user. Jesus follower. Slipper wearer. Funlover. Candle smeller. Yoga doer. Pinterest failer. Anne Lamott reader. Tribe member. Goodness believer. Life enthusiast. Follow me at http://babyonthebrehm.com/