Meat Linked to Increased Bladder Cancer Risk

In a recently concluded 12-year study, scientists found that people who eat meat regularly, especially meat that is well done or cooked at high temperatures, may have a higher chance of developing bladder cancer.

Surprised? I didn’t think so. The study, undertaken by scientists at the University of Texas, joins previous research linking meat with bowel, pancreatic and colon cancer. So while I’m glad these studies are making headlines and getting coverage, it’s worth pointing out that this “news” is not exactly new.

Many people I know, who profess to be concerned with their health and the health of the planet, are so jaded by the constant discovery of new carcinogens that they shrug them off, saying, “yeah well, these days what doesn’t cause cancer?”

I understand how overwhelming it can be to feel surrounded by toxins in our environment. We take comfort in food, and we want to imagine that our dinner, at least, won’t kill us. However, if we look around at the rising rates of morbid obesity, heart disease and cancer, we can see that our dinner, if it includes meat, is killing us. We can hide behind the fatalistic argument that we’re all going to die anyway, or we can make the basic changes to our diet that will alleviate the risk of cancer, and improve our quality of life.

The distinctions are not that difficult to make. Study after study confirms that meat is not good for our health. To date, I have yet to find a study saying sweet potatoes are not good for our health. Ditto on taro, papayas, bananas, pineapple, kale, collard greens, bell peppers, tomatoes or cucumbers - and that’s just what’s growing in my garden right now. Switching to a plant-based diet is the single most important thing a person can do for their health. You don’t have to be fatalistic or jaded about the risk of cancer. Just plant a seed.

The most recent study found that people who consumed the most red meat were 48% more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who consumed the least. The report further studied the effects of high temperatures on meat. They found that “medium” meat was linked to a 46% increased risk of cancer while “well done” meat was lined to a 94% increase in risk, compared to meat that was “rare.”

I found it odd that the study only compared people who ate lots of meat to people who ate less meat. What about people who ate no meat? It might be useful, for example, to know that a heavy smoker cuts eight years off his life expectancy compared to a light smoker, but wouldn’t it be more useful to know the life expectancy of someone who never smoked at all?

This particular study didn’t include any data from vegetarians, but there are plenty of other examples from previous studies. One 11 year long study from Germany found that people who eat no meat are less than half as likely as the mainstream population to develop any kind of cancer.

In the University of Texas study, the scientists looked at the way meat was cooked, and concluded that chemical reactions between amino acids (the building blocks of protein and creatine (a chemical found in muscles) react under high temperatures to form heterocyclic amines (HCA’s), which are carcinogenic. The authorities stopped short of recommending a vegetarian diet, however, issuing the following statement instead:

“The UK Food Standards Agency says people can reduce their risk from chemicals that may cause cancer by…cooking at lower temperatures for a longer time, but warns that undercooked meat can cause food poisoning.”

So, cooked meat gives you cancer and uncooked meat gives you food poisoning?

Pass the sweet potatoes, please.

Cultivating Healthy Skepticism

I mentioned in the comments to a recent blog post titled "What Dietary Changes Inhibit Cancer in 100% of Cases?" that a reader wrote to share some concerns.

First, they were worried that the title was too strongly worded, and the citations were lacking. Both of those concerns were valid, and I have since made the title more specific and added citations from Dr. Campbell’s book The China Study. However, the reader also expressed skepticism about the remarkable claims Dr. Campbell makes about the health effects of adopting a plant-based diet, and I wanted to address that skepticism more in depth.

I’ve been asked, more than once, "well, if adopting a plant based diet has so many health benefits, why haven’t I heard about it before?" The assumption is that if something is definitely proven to be good for you, everyone would know about it. But, in my experience, this doesn’t always happen. Unfortunately, in the world today, money talks, and there isn’t a lot of money in telling people to eat a simple, whole foods, plant based diet that they can grow in their own backyard.  You may have heard of the beef lobby, a huge organization with a lot of political clout and advertising dollars, but have you ever heard of a broccoli lobby?

If an idea is unfamiliar, that isn’t a reason to reject it out of hand. If there are more dollars behind advertising Coca Cola than kale, and Cheese Doodles than cherries, then it’s up to each person to help spread the word about healthy living and healthy eating to whatever degree we can. While I’m not in a position to defend Dr. Campbell’s research, and I recognize that people have raised concerns with some of his methods and conclusions, overall his research is in line with the conclusions of virtually every major health association in the United States.

The American Dietetic Association acknowledges that a vegetarian diet can result in "lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; ... lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer." The American Heart Association explains, "You don't need to eat foods from animals to have enough protein in your diet. Plant proteins alone can provide enough of the essential and non-essential amino acids, as long as sources of dietary protein are varied and caloric intake is high enough to meet energy needs. Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds and nuts all contain both essential and non-essential amino acids. You don't need to consciously combine these foods ('complementary proteins') within a given meal.” The American Diabetes Association cites a study that demonstrates "that a low-fat vegan diet and a diet based on ADA nutrition recommendations can help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood glucose levels and lower their chances for heart and blood vessel problems. These improvements were greater with the low-fat vegan diet."

Each person needs to make their own inquiries into diet and health, guided by their best judgment, the advice of authorities and the wisdom of their body. Skepticism is necessary when evaluating recommendations that have the potential to affect our bodies in a dramatic way. But we should try to exercise a healthy skepticism. Just like we shouldn’t immediately jump on the bandwagon of the next fad diet, we also shouldn’t reject an idea immediately because it’s unfamiliar or conflicts with our beliefs. When we hear from sources that we trust, we can gain the confidence to make gradual adjustments in our diets, such as eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and eliminating some animal fats and proteins. Ultimately, each person will be most convinced by experiencing the results for him or herself. Good health is it’s own motivation and it’s own evidence.

Prepare for Summer Sun

When I was young, I remember tracing a scar on my mom’s leg that extended a hand's length across her upper thigh, like a gouge in clay. She had skin cancer, and the scar was from a tumor she had removed in her thirties, around the time I was born. As I grew up, I remember her always checking the moles on her arms and back, worried if they were black or irregularly shaped. Maybe because she’d had it as long as I’d been alive, it never occurred to me to be really worried. It was just always there, like an eerie hum in the background of our lives.

Growing up, my mom loved the beach. She was the captain of her swim team and she spent hours in the water. She remembers getting badly burned on many occasions. As far as she knew, sunburns were painful, but not dangerous. But by the time she was thirty years old, she had melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. As a result, she was always careful about taking us into the sun, and when we did go, we would be lathered head to toe in sunscreen.

Because the danger of ultraviolet radiation from the sun was not well understood in my mom’s generation, skin cancer is now the most common form of cancer, occurring more often than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined. Every year, it will affect over two million people.<sup>1</sup> According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and the vast majority of mutations found in melanoma are caused by ultraviolet radiation.  Check out the Skin Cancer Foundation for facts about skin cancer:

Skin cancer isn’t the only negative side effect of too much sun exposure. Premature wrinkles, sun spots and other visible signs of aging are caused or accelerated by the sun. A good friend of mine, who’s in her sixties now, came over to Maui when she was seventeen. She would spend her whole day catching waves, and the danger of the sun was the last thing on her mind. Now, besides having several cancerous tumors removed from her face and chest, her skin is so thin that it feels like paper, and even bumping up against something abrasive can cause it to rip and bleed. When she meets a young kid whose goal in life is to be a beach bum, she holds up her arms as a warning. Most kids aren’t interested in looking ahead, but she knows from experience that if you don’t preserve your health while you’re young, you will experience the consequences for the rest of your life.

With regular self-checks and annual doctor’s visits, skin cancer can be detected early and it is more easily treatable than other types of cancer. Still, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And something as simple as sunblock and shade can make the difference. My mom remembers that when she was young, hardly anyone wore seat belts. The mother of one of her friends insisted that all three of her children wear seat belts, and everyone felt sorry for the kids and wondered if their mom was a little neurotic. Back in the fifties, sunscreens were like seat belts, used only by the most cautious people. But like seat belts, we’ve gradually come to understand that sunblock is an essential tool in our everyday safety kit. As summer approaches, it’s good to take time to review the guidelines of sun safety.

  • The best way to avoid exposure to dangerous UV radiation is to stay out of the sun, especially between the hours of 10am and 4pm, when UV radiation is at its highest. You can also cover up, and wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • If you do go in the sun, use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and apply 1 ounce to your entire body every thirty minutes (this is twice what most people usually apply). Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you go swimming, sweat excessively or dry yourself with a towel.
  • Eat foods that are high in antioxidants, which fight the free radicals that contribute to cancer. Foods high in antioxidants include all berries, oranges, pineapples, grapes and many other fruits. Leafy greens are also high in antioxidants, as are most brightly colored vegetables.

My mom did find another malignant mole when I was in my teens. She had read a lot about diet and cancer prevention by that time, and she decided that the recurrence was a wake- up call to take her health seriously. In addition to practicing sun safety, she follows a blog by Dr. Terry Shintani, one of Hawaii's well-known physicians, who advises that it is possible to reverse disease through a plant-based diet. Check out his blog at

Often, disease can help motivate us to make our health a priority. But, like my good friend would say, “Be akamai! Learn from my experience and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief later on!”

  1. Skin Cancer Foundation. Available at:

Pop Quiz: For Breast Cancer Prevention, Collards, Carrots, or KFC?

Over the last month, while the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign was in full swing, some have questioned the effectiveness of what they call “pink washing,” or slapping everything from lipstick to a Ford Mustang with a pink ribbon and selling it in the name of breast cancer advocacy.

We might be hesitant to criticize companies for what appear to be well-intentioned efforts to raise awareness about a disease that will affect 1 in 8 women in America. However, when KFC starts selling pink “Buckets for the Cure,” we have to ask whether these companies really have the best interests of women at heart. Many ingredients in cosmetics have been linked to breast cancer, as have pollutants found in car exhaust. And the link between buckets of fried, tumor-ridden, estrogen-pumped chicken breasts and breast cancer should be obvious. Even the National Cancer Institute warns on its website that many studies, "have shown that an increased risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer is associated with high intakes of well-done, fried or barbecued meats."

Meanwhile, the American Institute for Cancer Research reports that 60 to 70 percent of all cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Their number one dietary recommendation is to: "Choose predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, legumes and minimally processed starchy staple foods."

Three recent and reassuring studies released in the past month support the finding that lifestyle changes centered on healthy diet and exercise are the best way to prevent breast cancer. Here’s a roundup:

A team of Harvard scientists reviewed data from over 95,000 women gathered over a 20 year period and found that women who regularly take brisk walks are 15% less likely to get breast cancer than women who walk less than one hour a week. The study’s author, Dr. A. Heather Elliassen, noted that while there is a growing body of evidence that women who are highly physically active are at a lower risk of developing breast cancer, this study was encouraging because it suggested that women do not have to engage in vigorous work outs. It is enough to simply walk roughly three to four miles an hour, at a pace where it is harder to hold a conversation than when casually strolling.

Two studies in China have found that women with a higher intake of soy experience a lower risk of death or recurrence from breast cancer after menopause. These studies were conducted on women who had been eating soy for most of their lives. Doctors in the U.S. stressed that there was no evidence to suggest that women who have never eaten soy should begin after diagnosis. However, the China studies do suggest that women may experience a benefit from integrating soy into their diet as a preventative measure. Soy foods are rich in compounds called isoflavones, which affect estrogen metabolism. In the most current study, women with the highest soy intake consumed more than 42 milligrams of isoflavones per day, roughly equivalent to one and a half cups of soy milk.

Researchers at Boston University found that eating lots of carrots and cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and collard greens, could lower risk of breast cancer. The study focused on an aggressive type of breast cancer called ER-negative that is resistant to estrogen therapy. The researchers found that women who ate at least two servings of vegetables a day had a 43 percent lower risk of ER-negative breast cancer compared with women who ate fewer than four servings of vegetables each week. The data was particularly significant for African American women, who are often diagnosed with this type of breast cancer. The author of the study, Dr. Deborah A. Boggs, noted that her earlier work showed that a diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables led to a lower risk of ER-negative breast cancer in African American women.

So, next year when October rolls around, let's start calling it Breast Cancer Prevention Month rather than Breast Cancer Awareness Month. KFC, Estee Lauder, L'oreal and Ford have all succeeded in making us very aware of the prevalence of breast cancer. Unintentionally, their efforts have also made more people aware of their contribution to breast cancer. But awareness is not enough. Prevention is what we need. We don't need pink buckets of fried chicken and pink-striped gas guzzlers. We have science on the side of health.

"Fun for You": Corporate doublespeak for "Bad for You"

Pop quiz, everybody:

The opposite of good is:

  • bad
  • fun
  • Pepsi

If you answered a), you’re probably a mom. If you answered b), you’re probably a kid, or a PepsiCo executive. If you answered c), you’re 33% less likely to become obese.

Unless you have an addiction or a profit incentive, you probably know by now that soda is not good for your health. Soda delivers empty calories that you’re body doesn’t recognize as food, and which carry no nutritional value. Drinking soda on a regular basis is linked to tooth decay, obesity, diabetes, kidney problems, and a host of other health problems.

Under assault by common sense, the bloated soft drink industry is clumsily lunging for a makeover. PepsiCo is trying to remake its image from being the purveyor of sugary, salty snacks to being the purveyor of slightly-less-sugary, slightly-less-salty, but no-less-delicious snacks it calls its “Fun For You” line. That’s compared to its “Good For You” and “Better For You” lines, which are mostly composed of Quaker, Dole and Tropicana products.

The Economist reports, “To that end, on March 22nd [company president Indra Nooyi] unveiled a series of targets to improve the healthiness of Pepsi’s wares. By 2015 the firm aims to reduce the salt in some of its biggest brands by 25%; by 2020, it hopes to reduce the amount of added sugar in its drinks by 25% and the amount of saturated fat in certain snacks by 15%.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’re bowing to public opinion and at least making an effort to improve the healthiness of their products. But PepsiCo trying to reduce the amount of sugar in sodas sounds a bit like Phillip Morris trying to take the nicotine out of cigarettes. The reason people drink Pepsi is for the sugar and caffeine rush, just like the reason most people smoke cigarettes is for the nicotine rush. If a company knows that their products are unhealthy and addictive, the honest thing to do would be to completely revamp their product line, or get out of the business. Making minor alterations to an essentially unhealthy product is not enough.   

First Lady Michelle Obama, continuing her Let’s Move campaign to reduce childhood obesity, recently called the major food conglomerates on this behavior. At a recent speech to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, she was, by all reports, tactful but direct in her assertion that their products contributed to childhood obesity. She called on them “not just to tweak around the edges, but to entirely rethink the products that you're offering, the information that you provide about these products, and how you market those products to our children.” The audience, including representatives from PepsiCo, Coca Cola, Con Agra, McDonalds and Kraft, gave her a standing ovation.

What accounted for their enthusiasm? It could be that they believe they are already in compliance with her requests. In an official press statement, the GMA claimed, “Our industry is an enthusiastic supporter of Mrs. Obama’s ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative and its goal of solving childhood obesity within a generation. In recent years, our companies have reduced calories, sugar, fat and sodium in more than 10,000 products. They have also enhanced the nutritional profile of many products with the addition of whole grains, fiber or other nutrients and created the informative and convenient 100-calorie pack.”

Here’s a question: if PepsiCo is so committed to the health of its consumers, why do they call their most unhealthy products “fun?” Doesn’t this give kids the message that foods that are bad for you are fun? Diabetes is not fun. Obesity is not fun. So let’s cut the corporate doublespeak and call it like it is. I’ll let the courageous Mrs. O have the last word:

“…what [change] doesn’t mean is taking out one problematic ingredient, only to replace it with another.  While decreasing fat is certainly a good thing, replacing it with sugar and salt isn’t.  And it doesn’t mean compensating for high amounts of problematic ingredients with small amounts of beneficial ones -- for example, adding a little bit of Vitamin C to a product with lots of sugar, or a gram of fiber to a product with tons of fat doesn’t suddenly make those products good for our kids.

This isn’t about finding creative ways to market products as healthy.  As you know, it’s about producing products that actually are healthy -- products that can help shape the health habits of an entire generation."

Too good to be true? Water cures ulcers, high blood pressure and asthma

The story of how one man discovered the healing properties of water sounds like the makings of a medical thriller. It even has a mysterious hero – Dr. Batman, MD.

As he relates in his last interview with Mike Adams of Natural News, the late Fereydoon Batmanghelidj was a well-respected doctor in his native Iran, when the Iranian Revolution broke out in 1979. Dr. Batman was jailed at the infamous Evin prison for three years, along with other intellectuals and professionals who were considered a threat to the new regime. Conditions were barbaric and supplies were slim to nonexistent. At one point, he had to treat a man crippled from the pain of a peptic ulcer. Having no medication to treat him with, he gave the patient two glasses of water. After a few minutes, the man uncurled from the fetal position and stopped screaming. Doctor Batman was surprised, and prescribed him two more glasses of water at three-hour intervals. The man was pain free for the duration of his four-month stay at the prison. He continued testing his water treatment on over 3000 patients during his stay, and even refused early release in order to continue studying the effects of water on peptic ulcers and other stress related conditions.

After he was released from prison and sought refuge in the US, Dr. Batman applied his medical training to discover the scientific underpinnings of his findings. He found that most so-called diseases of the modern era are actually symptoms of chronic dehydration. When an area of the body becomes dehydrated, the body sends a warning signal in the form of pain. It also takes measures to preserve the remaining water resources. After years of substituting juice, tea, coffee, soda and alcohol for water, many people are chronically dehydrated and don’t even know it. According to Dr. Batman, one of the effects of chronic dehydration is that you gradually lose your thirst sensation.

Dr. Batman points out that modern medicine attempts to treat the symptoms of dehydration without understanding the cause. As a result, the condition steadily worsens, and most people find themselves on medication for the remainder of their life. Consider Dr. Batman’s explanations of a few modern epidemics:

High Blood Pressure

Conventional medicine

Cause: Cause of High Blood Pressure is unknown in 90-95% of cases

Treatment: Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blocking drugs, beta-blockers and diuretics are used to target the chemicals in your body that constrict blood vessels, and to decrease the volume of water in the blood.

Possible side effects: diarrhea, slow heart rate, rash, impotence, high cholesterol, dizziness, depression, suicide

Dr. Batman

Cause: When the body is dehydrated, the blood vessels constrict in order to pump water from the bloodstream into drought areas of the body.

Treatment: 2 quarts of water day, a half hour before meals and 2 and a half hours after.

Possible side effects: none


Conventional medicine

Cause: unknown

Treatment: Long term control and quick relief medications such as fluticasone, budesonide mometasone, triamcinolone, flunisolide, beclomethasone, montelukast, zafirlukast, and zileuton that target the chemicals that cause bronchial constriction.

Possible side effects: agitation, aggression, hallucinations, depression, suicidal thinking and increased risk of a severe asthma attack.

Dr. Batman

Cause: Every day, a quart of water is lost through respiration. When water resources are low, the body automatically constricts the alveoli in the lungs to prevent further water loss.

Treatment: 2 quarts of water day, a half hour before meals and 2 and a half hours after.

Possible side effects: none

The implications of Dr. Batmanghelidj’s studies are far-reaching, and maybe for some, far-fetched. But the beauty of his water cure is that anyone can test it. You don’t need a medical degree; you don’t need a prescription. Unlike most experimental treatments, it won’t put you in debt. It has no negative side effects, and accidental overdoses are not common.

Could it really be that simple? There’s an old principle of logic called Occam’s Razor which states, “the simplest answer is usually the right one.” Unfortunately, it is usually overriden by another principle called Corporate Interest, which states, “the simplest answer makes the least money.”

For more information, visit Dr. Batmangheldij's site.

Happy New Year from the Love Life Team!

Photo: Silouette of Woman Jumping

Every January we like to focus on getting a strong foundation for our health to set the tone for the entire year. Making resolutions is easy, but following through with them is the challenge. We know that having support is the key to the success of our resolutions and Down to Earth is here to help!

This month our outreach calendar is full of workshops that are going to help you on your healthy journey for 2016. We started the year with our popular monthly cooking classes on January 2nd in Honolulu and January 5th in Kailua.

Guest chefs Andrea Bertoli and Teresa Jordan will be joining us for special detox classes. Andrea will do a New Year Detox class on January 13th, which will be a combination cooking and fermentation class. Chef Teresa, aka “Raw Mama T” is a well-known Raw Vegan Chef, and will be coming from Los Angeles. She will be teaching a two-part raw class January 16th and 17th that is sure to please every palate.

On January 14th and 16th we will host a free lecture on “Oliginol”. Oliginol is a lychee extract that is reported to contain anti-aging properties and to help with circulation, in addition to other benefits. You won’t want to miss this lecture.

Have you heard of Keawe Bean Flour? Vince Kana‘i  Dodge, owner and founder of Waianae Gold, will join us January 23rd for a keawe bean lecture and demonstration. Learn how to make his famous “‘Aina Bites”. They are healthy and oh so ONO!

Maui, we have lots in store for you too! Our regular raw class will be a little different this time. We are bringing the Oliginol lecture to you on the scheduled class date January 19th, and I am going to host a raw food pupu party for all the students that come to the monthly classes. This is an appreciation for supporting the class all year long.

For times and reminders of dates for all of these wonderful classes and workshops please visit our Events Calendar.

We want to wish you all a Happy, Healthy New Year. Let’s make 2016 our best year yet! Let Down to Earth help and support you on this journey. If you have any questions please call us at 947-3249. We look forward to seeing you all at our upcoming classes!

Happy New Year!!!!!

Love, Mama T

The More I Learn About Noni, the More I Love It!

Photo: Noni Tree with Fruit

Aloha Kakou. What a beautiful summer we are having in Hawaii Nei. Even with it being a little warmer than usual this summer, there’s no place I’d rather be.

I am so excited to share my newest obsession of this summer. Now, if you live in Hawaii you’re probably well aware of this amazing fruit. But in the 12 years that I have lived in Hawaii, I have never really delved into it, until now. It’s absolutely a miracle food to me and I can’t get enough. Ok, have I piqued your interest? Well this incredible fruit is… noni!

The more I learn about noni the more I love it. Did you know that noni…

  • Is known as the “pain killer tree” and may help to alleviate headache, joint, and arthritic pain.
  • Contains substances believed to balance mood.
  • Is often used as an immune booster.
  • Is rich in nutrients and phytochemicals for healthy skin and hair.
  • Contains ingredients believed to fight cancer.
  • People have found that it helps with cholesterol.
  • Is often used to aid in digestion and relieve constipation.
  • Contains antioxidants.

All of these are incredible reasons why I can’t get enough of noni these days. I have been taking Puna Noni’s noni supplements. I have also been using their liquid noni in my smoothies. Noni has such a strong smell, and some people are not able to stomach it because of this, but these ways of taking it are perfect. I have also been using the Puna Noni shampoo and conditioners, and they are incredible! Puna Noni mixes noni with natural aromas from orchids, coconuts, plumerias, tuberoses, and mangoes to make the best smelling products ever! I love the coconut and tuberose lotions; they are my favorite!

Anyhoo, I just wanted to share with you a little about noni and perhaps you’ll try something new too. Please visit any of our team members in our Wellness Departments for guidance to the wide variety of noni products that we carry. I would love to hear about what you try and how you like it, or perhaps you can share a noni recipe you make at home. 

Wishing you a fabulous summer!

Aloha Nui, Mama T


*The health and nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

A Marathoner’s Yoga Practice

Photo: People in a Yoga Class

My family knew I was that boy from a very young age. Jumping from couch to couch. Digging in the dirt. Running around the yard with our dogs. I was that boy who just could not stay still! I loved the feeling of roaming free in the great outdoors. In fact, I still do!

My 2016 New Year’s Resolution is to run the Honolulu Marathon. That’s right…run. What was I thinking?! I’ve never run for sport in my life! It wasn’t long before I felt the early effects of running. I felt achy all over, but especially in my knees. What is an aspiring runner to do? In comes yoga.

I do yoga every day. In the Marketing Department, we do daily morning yoga stretches as a team to help us stay flexible and pain-free throughout the day. I find that I feel more awake and ready to get to work. It helps me to feel more centered throughout the day. Even doing a few quick yoga poses during the day helps to manage stress.

Yoga has helped me tremendously in my marathon training. If I feel pain in my knees, I do several stretches to help release some tension. My yoga instructor says it at every class: Listen to your body. When a certain pose feels good and alleviates pain in the long-run, something must be working. If it hurts too much, stop. Yoga has helped me to be kinder to my body, to be more mindful not to overdo things. If I feel too achy or exhausted to go for a six-mile run, just take it easy and walk. It’s okay to get into Child’s Pose when you’re too exhausted to join the class in their headstand. Listen to your body.

Breathing is another aspect of yoga that has really helped me in my training. It seems so simple. Breathe, Jordan! Breathe! But when you’re going for that inversion at the end of a long steamy yoga class, sometimes you forget to breathe. It’s important to breathe deep, controlled breaths in yoga. It helps you to concentrate and come back to your center. Breathing deep yoga breaths during my runs have helped me to complete long-distance runs without getting distracted or discouraged. I found that a deep three second inhale and exhale breath cycle works for me. It also helps me to enjoy the present moment. Breathe in, enjoy the bright sun…breathe out, enjoy the cool wind...

Whether it’s to help you become more flexible, to strengthen and tone muscles, or help you to feel centered, everyone can benefit from yoga. There are many yoga studios in Hawai’i to try out. Some are donation based and some have class fees. Bring a friend with you and have fun! There are also many free yoga videos online to practice yoga from the comfort of your home! With International Yoga Day coming up on June 21st, there will be many opportunities to embrace and celebrate yoga this month. I’ll continue incorporating yoga into my life, even after the Marathon.

Yoga has proven to be instrumental in my pain management as I continue on my path to the 2016 Honolulu Marathon. It’s helped to prevent and alleviate pain before a major injury happens. Yes, I am still that boisterous little boy on the inside. But yoga has reminded me of the importance to look deep within. Listen to your body. Breathe. It calls me back to the stillness within despite all the movement around me. Yoga is a truly beautiful practice that I recommend as a part of everyone’s fitness journey.

Telling my parents what to do... Finally!

Fruits and Vegetables in the Shape of a Heart

by Cynthia Cruz

Reflecting on American Heart Month this February, the first thing that came to mind was my parents. They take pretty good care of themselves, but they could definitely do better. (Actually so could I!) We've talked in the past about what they could do food-wise to help prevent anything medically serious from happening. As much as they love me, I can see why it's difficult to heed their bossy daughter. I'm the one who gets told what to do, not the other way around. They've been relatively healthy all their lives without any serious hiccups so why should they listen to me? I used to send them dozens and dozens of links and recipes to see if just one more article could change their minds. As many people can probably attest to, there's only so far you can push others toward doing something that they're not familiar with or even mildly interested in. 

The last couple of years though, more and more family members or friends have unfortunately had to deal with a serious heart condition. The situation has increasingly become the norm rather than the exception. My parents started sending me texts here and there to ask me what the heck healthy fats are, and is avocado toast really a meal? Catching a whiff of interest in eating better for their health caused me to send an avalanche of health articles including this excellent one. As expected, they were a little put off by my... let's just call it "over enthusiasm" and gently told me to back off. Sensing a different approach was needed, especially when my mom told me I was overwhelming her with information, I started to ask them what they were interested in and slowly began to just talk with them, rather than talking at them. Then one day, they started sending me articles! Not to mention correcting me on a few facts -- it pays to read, not just skim apparently. Nowadays, we talk about doing some heart-health eating challenges together (still hasn't happen but I'm pretty sure it's going to happen soon), what kind of new nut mix they're snacking on, and more. 

Now that February is here, instead of me nagging my parents about this heart health situation, they are sharing the things they've learned with their friends, co-workers, and the rest of our family. Of course they don't give me my much-deserved credit for pushing them towards a healthier lifestyle! The injustice, I tell you. Now, when I tell them they should try to eat more spinach or try more smoothies, they finally listen to me! It might have taken a long time (years!) to get them more actively invested in their health but it was worth being a pain in their butts. Now if only I could get them to give me an allowance again. I know, I know, one life-changing problem at a time.