Thursday, July 29, 2010

We Walk Because We Must...

We walk because we must.  We are strong because the journey demands it.  Together in body and united in spirit, we lay down our footsteps for this generation and the next.  This is our promise:  a world without breast cancer.

This is a mantra, of sorts, amongst the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure walkers.  Screen-printed on t-shirts, printed on posters, recited in promotional videos.  These 40 words hit the nail on the head for me.  They so accurately describe this journey we walkers are on.  I've been wanting to write a post about my experience thus far for a while now, but the words just never came.  Until now.

When I first signed up for this walk, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  It was February, and September seemed so far away.  And $2,300 seemed easy to raise.  This year has flown by, and in 8 short weeks, I will be packing my bags to head to Seattle.

For those of you who don't know, the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure is just that; fifteen 3 day walks, each 60 miles.  Participants are required to raise $2,300 in order to participate.  Walkers train all year, logging hundreds of miles to prepare themselves to walk 20 miles a day.  A complete tent city is constructed in each location, filled with hundreds to thousands of pink tents, food stations, medical care, portable showers, and entertainment.  Cheering stations are set up along the path, with people showing up to cheer walkers on.  The walk concludes with all the walkers marching into a stadium filled with family, friends, supporters.  From what I'm told, its a very emotional and life-changing experience.

I decided that if I was going to participate, I wanted to go all-in.  So, I signed up to be a Training Walk Leader.  I didn't know anybody else who was walking this year; I was going solo.  When I first started leading training walks in April, I got to know a few people here and there.  I was kind of on my own team, hoping to recruit some people to join me.  What happened instead was I was recruited for a different team.

Now, there are about 15-25 of us who get together every Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine (or scorching heat!) to "lay down our footsteps."  We dress in pink, encourage each other, and explain our mission to anyone who asks.  We take pictures, make up cheers and songs and dances, and bond.  I think that is what I have come to love most about this.  The continual bonding between us walkers. We have men, women, husbands and wives.  At the beginning of each walk, we stretch, go over the route, apply sunscreen, Abolene, and Body Glide.  And w go around the circle, telling our name, how many years we've done the 3 Day, and why we walk.  People get as personal or impersonal as they want.  And often times, tears are shed.  We get to know our fellow walkers, and keep up with the progress of the people they are walking for.  We offer shoulders to cry on, hands to hold, and smiles to help heal broken hearts.

Sometimes, the walking gets tough.  It can be hot out, or pouring down rain.  We give up sleeping in on the weekends.  We also give up large chunks of time on our weekends.  Our feet hurt.  We get blisters.  Our legs get tired.  Our backs and hips hurt.  We get mosquito bites (maybe that's just me...).  And every time I find myself even starting to think, "This sucks.", I remind myself this:  This is so easy compared to having breast cancer.  I only have to walk 60 miles.  I'm healthy; I can do it.  I'm doing this for those who can't.  Raise $2,300 and walk 60 miles in 3 days?  No big deal.  I'll walk 60 miles each day of my life if it means  no one has to face a diagnosis of breast cancer again.  This doesn't suck.  This ROCKS!!!

Our team name is "Hello Cupcake", and we are #7 on the list of Top Ten Fundraising Teams.  So far, our team of 21 has raised $38,716.75.  Our goal for the year is $50,000 and I have absolute faith we will exceed that goal.  Here are some photos from our training walks:

 This is myself and sweet Tori.  She is such an amazing women!  Dedicated, strong, caring, H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S, and a truly great friend.  She is also a fellow TWL (Training Walk Leader).

 This is our poster that comes to every walk.  Each new walker signs his or her name, and who they are walking for.  This poster even took a dip in Capital Lake (on accident, of course). 

Just yesterday, I received an email letting me know that registration is already open for the 2011 Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure.  I haven't even completed my first walk yet, but you can be certain that I already signed up for next year.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Whole Food Diet

Back when I adopted my cat, Hallee, the vet I saw mentioned trying some whole, raw foods for her, either as a supplement to her dry cat food, or instead of it.  This was a completely new concept to me.  I tried a few raw things for her, but she had no interest in them.  So that was the end of that.

When we took Molly, our 4 month old Labrador/Golden Retriever mix puppy to her first vet appointment, he really started telling more about the whole food diet.  And it made sense.  Think about it - take Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy kibble.  Its made with chicken, eggs, fish oil, grains, and some vitamins.  And its also processes, and preserved.  And dried.  Why not just feed our puppy fresh chicken, pure fish oil, and a supplement?  Isn't non-processed food without preservatives better for her?  Just like it is for you and me?  Josh and I debated long and hard on whether or not to fully enter into this diet.  After all, its a lifestyle change for all of us.  I talked to some people who have their dogs on a whole food diet, and I heard rave reviews.

So, we are making the switch.  Just last night, I made the first batch of what our vet calls "Crock Pot Dinner".  Here's what I did:

The recipe called for a 2.5 - 3 lb. whole chicken, but I could only find a 5+ lb. chicken.  So I doubled the recipe.  I started by boiling the chicken in a pot of water for about 10 minutes, and then simmering it for about an hour.

I bought some cheap plastic containers that I could dedicate solely to Molly's food, since sometimes we will be feeding her raw food, and I didn't want to have to worry about the plastic being contaminated and then storing cookies or something in it (I'm OCD about that stuff).  I washed and labeled them with her name while the chicken was cooking.
Still cooking...
This is what it looked like after 1 hour.
After cooking the chicken, I removed it from the pot and placed it on a plate to cool. 
I then added 2 lbs. of brown rice to the water in the pot, and allowed it to cook on a low heat for about an hour.  The vegetables in the picture will be used later in the recipe.
I got bored waiting for the rice to cook, so I decided to label the lids to the containers as well, to make them easier to find.

(I'm missing four pictures here, as I accidentally forgot to transfer them onto my flash drive from my laptop, and I'm posting this from work!  I will update this later tonight.)

I removed all of the chicken from the bones, and shredded it into small pieces.  Right before the rice was done cooking (about 15 min.), I added all the chicken back into the pot, along with a bag and a half of the frozen vegetables.  I then let that simmer for the remaining 12 min. or so.

I then scooped 1 cup portions into each container.
I let the containers cool for a few minutes, and then popped the lids on and stuck them in the freezer.  The recipe made a lot more than would fit into the containers I had, so I put the rest of it into a large bowl and into the refrigerator.  We'll feed her portions of that this week and weekend, and then start pulling containers out of the freezer one or two at a time.

I couldn't believe how many meals I got out of the recipe for $10!  And the best part was watching Molly eat it.  She loved it!!  She was licking the bowl afterward, and kept giving me this look like, "Mom, can I have more?!"  We go back to the vet next week for her last set of shots, and we'll talk more with the doctor then about portion sizes for her as she gets older.  It may seem like a lot of work initially, but it really wasn't difficult, and seeing how much more she enjoyed it than her normal dog food sealed the deal for me.