Kicking cancer’s tail: The Superfood Dog Diet

So many people have asked me how my 12-year old dog, Emmy, is whipping cancer. She’s  transformed over the last four weeks. Here’s how we’re doing it.

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After a kidney cancer diagnosis, and a less than one year survival prognosis — if we removed the kidney and followed with chemo — we decided to fight it with science and nutrition. The goal, no suffering, and good, happy days for as long as possible. So far, we’re winning.

At diagnosis (4/12/16), Emmy had periodic vomiting, very little appetite, and lethargy. She was losing weight, was disengaged and mostly wanted to be alone, which is very unusual for my girl. I knew she didn’t feel good. Was she leaving? My first goal was to see if I could get her eating again.

The day after diagnosis I changed her diet from Simple Formula Wellness dog food (which I believe to be a high quality food) to an all human diet plus a superfood supplement. We started with scrambled eggs cooked in a tiny bit of coconut oil. She went for it.

My friend and animal healer, Nancy Seymour, inventor of the superfood supplement I’m using, is using her years of nutrition experience and guiding me every step of the way.

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“We just want her infused with clean, healthy, easily digested food to not tax kidneys.  My supplement will boost her immune system. We can build on that.” – Nancy

We started with foods that fight inflammation and are high in anti-oxidents: sweet potatoes, blueberries, pumpkin, coconut oil. I blend them in the Vitamix so they’re super easy for her to eat and digest. Each day we added new foods: Greek yogurt, butternut squash, green beans. Smaller meals, more often. Each meal, I add the Shining Star Pets supplement (dosage by weight).

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What’s in it?  My well dog, Lola, also loves it!

“It’s all chemistry and nutrition fueling her immune system. Appetite and poop are important to us. We tweak… She eats.” – Nancy

Her appetite immediately improved, but she was losing weight, down to 52 pounds. So we increased the carbs. I alternate oatmeal and brown rice at meals, always sweet potatoes, plus a small amount of protein. A snack can be cottage cheese mixed with canned pumpkin. Peanut butter on mashed banana. I make greek yogurt blueberry pops as a superfood treat. We limit the protein to no more than 20% of her diet so we don’t tax the kidneys. Anything that isn’t processed (meaning — you can see it in her poop!), I put in the blender. Easier to eat, easier for her body to digest. Every nutrient of the food is used by her system.

To be clear, this isn’t a table scraps diet. It’s a low salt, good oils (coconut and olive), good fats, good carbs and a controlled amount of protein. It took me about a week to get the hang of it.

Our results so far: She’s jumping up and down when it’s time to eat. She rolls around in the backyard. We walk 2-3 times a day.

That doesn’t look like a dog that’s dying to me. The cancer is still there, but she isn’t suffering. She’s happy, engaged and making the most of every day.

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It makes me think, if we can transform a dog with cancer in just a few weeks using whole foods and nutritional supplementation, shouldn’t we be considering that option for people in the same predicament?

Have you ever tried a whole foods diet with your dog? Would love to hear about it.

Life Lessons from a Pit Bull

Pit bulls are the poster children for discrimination. They’re mean. They’ll rip your face off. They’re fighters. 

Two months ago, we adopted Lola, an American Staffordshire Bull Terrior, otherwise known as a Blue Staffy Bull. Judgment started when we started telling our family and friends we were considering adopting a “pit bull.”

What? Why in the world would you want that kind of dog? Aren’t you scared of it? Won’t it kill Emmy (our Golden Retriever?)

We felt the discrimination from a neighbor, who had always been friendly towards our Golden, who threatened to poison our dogs if they did their business in his yard. Coincidence?

We felt the breath-holding gasp when we took her into the vet waiting room the first time. I could feel the “Uh-oh pit in the house. Be careful!”  stares.

Pit bulls have gotten a bad rap. They used to be known as the “Nanny dog” for their gentleness with children. Credible canine organizations call them “eager to please, faithful and enthusiastic friends.” Yet, people are afraid of them. Somewhere along the way, gangs, dog fighters and thugs chose the pit bull as their dog of choice, and danger and fear replaced adoration of the bull.

Are some dogs just inherently “bad?” Consider a dog whose ears were butchered with kitchen scissors, presumably to make her look mean, a dog who was used as a breeder for 4-5 litters of puppies in three years, a dog who was then discarded…THAT dog, the one found emaciated, with broken ribs and a broken shoulder…THAT dog is the sweetest, most trusting, loving, snuggle muffin dog I’ve ever met. Are pits inherently mean? I think not. 

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Lola changes hearts and minds everywhere we go. Starting with mine. I wasn’t totally for this adoption in the beginning. Not because she was a pit bull, necessarily, though it did give me pause. I had an 11-year old “only dog” I’d had since she was weeks old. How would she adapt? Would she welcome another dog?

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To learn about the breed, I started watching Pit Bulls & Parolees on Animal Planet. Host Tia Torres is a force of nature. She says she rescues pits and people, and is on a mission to change the perception of the world’s most misunderstood breed of dog. While she’s at it, she’s giving both people and dogs a second chance. Tia’s tattooed, pierced and hard looking family and her parolees began to soften my heart. I started noticing my unspoken fears and judgment, and I completely changed my mind about these dogs and the people saving them.  I opened my heart and Lola came right on in.

Pit bulls, like people, can be trained to be mean. Like people, they can learn bad habits. But what if they, like people, are born wonderful, loving, trusting souls? What if those inherent qualities are there no matter what’s happened to them? What if they’re here to teach us these life lessons? Our Blue Staffy Bull has done just that. Lola has rocked my world in the best possible way.

 

10 Favorite Gluten Free Products

A “bad stomach” was one of the most memorable things in my childhood. I’ve been tested for celiac and while I don’t have it, I so obviously feel better when I don’t eat it. Changing my diet changed my life. It’s not as hard as it used to be to go gluten free. Here are 10 of my favorite products to get you started.

10. Trader Joe’s Quinoa Pasta: Since becoming gluten free five years ago, I’ve learned to love quinoa. This is the best pasta I’ve found. The texture is like regular pasta. Be careful not to overcook! It’ll taste like rubber fishing worms. OK, that might be a little strong. Bottom line, cook it right and it’s good. I haven’t found ANY gluten free pasta that’s good as leftovers so only cook what you’re going to eat in a sitting.

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9. Kikkoman Wheat Free Soy Sauce: Yes, you can eat stir fry veggies again! Cook with it for great flavor.

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8. Blue Diamond Nut Thins: Light, airy, flavorful. I love them with peanut butter or as a scooper with hummus.

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7. Glutino Crackers: A little denser than Blue Diamond. More substantial.

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6. Udi’s Bagels: Only when smothered with butter and toasted! Seriously. You can’t gag them down without it.

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5. Rudi’s Gluten Free Tortilla: Best when lightly toasted in a toaster oven! Keep in the refrigerator.

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4. Kinnikinnin Pizza Crust: Load them up with your favorite toppings, cook them right on the grate in the oven right out of the freezer. Salty, good texture.

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3. Three Bakers 7 Grain Bread: I’ve searched for more than 5 years for good gluten free bread. THIS.IS.IT. Moist. Great flavor. Not heavy and dense like most GF breads. Toast it for best taste! Best found online or at specialty stores. Downside: super expensive.

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2. Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking Mix: You can make anything with this stuff. Pancakes, muffins, cobbler. Great flavor, great texture. Your friends will never know.

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1. Trader Joe’s Soft-baked Snickerdoodle Cookies: I could seriously eat the whole box in one sitting. Hands down, the best gluten free guilty pleasure of all.

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What are your favorite gluten free products?

Why Relationships Are Like Bank Accounts

When you open a checking account, you have to put in a nominal amount of money to get it started. Over time, you put some in, take some out. Maybe you try to save a little. The basic goal is to make more deposits than withdrawals so you don’t overdraft.

Consider relationships like bank accounts. Any kind of relationship: Husband/wife. Business Partners.Parent/child. Staff/boss. All relationships need more deposits than withdrawals. Sometimes they need refunds (but that’s for a different blogpost.)

Leaders: Pay attention to the number of withdrawals you make from each of your employees — asking them to stay late, come in early, take on extra projects for the team, work a holiday they were scheduled to be off — those are all withdrawals on your ‘relationship’ account. I know, you pay them to do a job. I’m not talking about the usual showing up stuff, I’m talking about consistent extras way beyond the cultural expectations of your organization.

Make a deposit:
Give them a day off when they don’t expect it. Take them to lunch. Don’t charge them PTO/vacay time when they need to go to their daughter’s swim meet or they have a doctor’s appointment. Acknowledge all the extras and how those actions impact and support the team.

People feel appreciated and supported when their relationship account with their job/boss is at least at a break even.

While I’m not advocating creating relationships (of any kind) that are completely transactional or keeping score all the time, it’s important to just pay attention to your balance. I’m talking about time, the mental care and feeding of people, doing the right thing, giving back, life balance.

If you’re blind to the number of overdrafts, your fees can come by way of resignation and divorce. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

#QOTD: “People rise to the conversations you grow around them.”

Credit Simon Mainwaring for that little piece of brilliance. He was speaking at the PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas about engaging our broadcasting audiences using social media by investing in their interests, celebrating them and what they care about.

Share something inspiring on your station facebook page and watch how the conversation immediately shifts:

Inspiring = Engagement

Inspiring = Engagement

When we honor, uplift, stand up for, and wrap our arms around the people who count on us, they will reach back. You just have to retrain them by what Simon says is “ringing the same bell over and over again.”

Now, apply this concept, of inviting people to rise to the conversations you want, to your life. Ever notice if you’re complaining all the time, everyone around you is complaining? You’re like a magnet for misery! The same is true about people who are happy. You just feel better around them.

You want your viewers to love you? Give them something to love. You want the conversations around you to be more inspiring? Start one. You want to work in a culture of creative expression? Wear funky shoes.

Release Your Creative Flare in Everything You Do

Change is not your friend.

Am I right? Wouldn’t we all just rather keep going, bopping along, with everything in its place, just like it’s always been?

ImageCould you walk through your house in the middle of the night with no lights on and not end up doing a header over the couch? Yes? Clearly your mother didn’t move the furniture around like mine did! Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to embrace change.

Of course, I had no idea that’s what I was learning when I listened to my Dad do a faceplant over the recliner chair in the middle of the night as he rushed out of the house half asleep to answer a fire call. The blankety-blank chair wasn’t there yesterday!

The structure of your life changes. People change. The world changes. Roll with it, baby. Your job is going to change. People come and go from your team, inherently changing it’s chemistry and it’s abilities. Your boss is going to change. Your whole business is going to change. (Did you even know what social media was 5 years ago?)

Better make change your friend, friends. If you need practice, call your Mom and ask her to come and rearrange your house while you’re at work. You’ll either change it back or learn to live with it newly. Either way, all the dust and dog hair and crud that’s been living under the couch for 15 years will get cleaned up, and there’s inherent value in that.