"Informative Great podcast with valuable information."
In this introductory episode, you'll hear my story of how breast cancer changed my life and eventually led me toward my passion.
As a Health Coach and wellness professional I know that a healthy lifestyle requires more then just food. It takes a fully integrated approach to lifestyle habits.
This was never so apparent to me as when I was trying to restore my health after completing treatment for breast cancer.
I'm happy to be at the point where I can now share that journey to wellness with you and to be able to work at supporting others as a result of my experience.
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Read the full transcript:
00:04 This is Laura Lummer, healthy lifestyle coach, personal trainer, and clinical and clinical Ayurveda specialist. You're listening to Let Your Lifestyle Be Your Medicine, your resource for creating and living a healthy life. In this podcast, we talk about nutrition, healthy thinking, exercise, and lots of other ways to connect with your body and live a healthy, vibrant life. Welcome and thank you so much for listening to this very first episode of Let Your Lifestyle Be Your Medicine. I'm Laura, and I'm going to tell you a little bit about myself. In this episode, I'm actually going to tell you a lot about myself. I'll give you my background. I'll tell you how I became a healthy lifestyles coach.
00:54 I will talk about what that even means when I say let your lifestyle be your medicine. I'm sure we're all familiar with the term, let your food be your medicine. But I really believe that more than food, and I think we can all attest to that, more than food is what makes you healthy. It's not just exercise that makes you healthy. There are many factors that go into your health; the way you think, the routines that you have, the habits that you create for yourself. Of course, food and exercise play a huge role. I'm all about I love food. I love exercise and I love all kinds of food, not just rice cakes. In fact, I don't even rice cakes. We'll talk about nutrition.
01:37 As these episodes move forward, we'll have different focuses for the episodes. We'll look at healthy thinking, mindful behaviors, meditative behaviors. We'll talk about food and how we can have a whole food healthy nutrition plan. I'm not going to use the word diet because diet, it seems this temporary state of deprivation. That's not what a healthy lifestyle is about. We'll talk about how to create habits that surround food so that you're making good unhealthy food choices and you don't feel deprived, that you feel fulfilled and joyful when you consume your food. We'll talk about exercise because exercise is super important in having a healthy lifestyle.
02:23 We'll look at how we get exercise into our life. What does that even mean? Because as soon as some people hear exercise, they're out. They don't want to do it. I want to help you understand that you can find ways to move in your life and be active in your life to stay healthy, that don't require you running like a hamster on the treadmill for an hour. That don't require you forcing yourself to do things that you absolutely hate doing. Those are going to be coming in upcoming podcasts because all of those factors play a role in having healthy lifestyle. I'll tell you a little bit about myself. Nutrition, exercise, athletics; those things have always been very important to me.
03:07 I was active as a kid, played on a bunch of different sports teams in high school. As an adult, I tried to work out as much as I could; having kids, raising kids, and working full time, squeezing in as much exercise as I could do. Really because I enjoyed it more than that I felt I had to do it. I am one of those weirdos that actually likes to exercise. In 2006, I became a certified yoga teacher. I also went to the California College of Ayurveda. Now some of you have probably never heard the word Ayurveda before. I'm going to spell it so it makes more sense. Ayurveda is A-Y-U-R-V-E-D-A. Ayurveda is a system of medicine that's used in India. I am not a doctor. I'm not going to refer to it as medicine because I don't treat people medically, but I am a clinical Ayurveda specialist.
04:08 I did study Ayurveda for two and a half years. For me, it is a wonderful lifestyle. It's like a lifestyle medicine. The different factors of our Ayurveda; the way that you eat, what you eat, how you eat, where you eat. It's a very mindful practice. It helps us to be present, which helps us to connect with ourselves. In my story, as you'll soon hear, that's really what I find to be such an important thing in our overall health and in our survival. When we're talking about breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, all of these things, if we can get to that spot in our life where we're feeling healthy and we're connected with ourselves, we're noticing when something doesn't feel quite right. Or we're noticing when a food doesn't give us maybe that satiation that we're looking for.
05:11 We'll go more into that. Just that connection with us and everything around us and everything that we take into ourselves. Finding that connection is something I think that Ayurveda is a wonderful support. Because as you begin to adopt those practices and work them into your life, they help to form that really healthy lifestyle. I'm a big believer in science as well. I'm a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise, and I received that certification in 2010. When I work with people, I'm very conscious of what science tells us as well as what intuition tells us over 5,000 years of people practicing Ayurveda. I like to bring the east and the west philosophies, practices and sciences together because I think that, for me, it brings a little bit of gentleness and balance into creating a healthy lifestyle.
06:11 It's not all about boot camp, and calorie counting, and weighing everything because, again, I feel like those are temporary states that not many people can sustain for long periods of time. We want to look for practices in our life that we can incorporate, that support our health, and that we find enjoyable, that you start a new practice. You don't walk around saying, "Oh, gosh. I can't go out to lunch with you right now because I have ... Can only have four ounces of boiled chicken today?" That, to me, takes a little bit of joy out of even the experience of eating. That's not what I advocate as a healthy lifestyle. It very well maybe for some other people. That's awesome, but that's not so much what I work with people to do.
07:02 I got my degree in Healthy Lifestyle Coaching and Health Sciences from Arizona State University. What really propelled me to become a lifestyle coach was my diagnosis of breast cancer. Again, going back a little bit in history. I loved exercise, love doing yoga, just I really enjoy physical activity I think ever since I was a little kid. I would watch my dad, who was a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff. I would watch him lift weights and practice karate. I just thought being strong was a really cool thing. I think, since that point, exercise has always been something that I've really enjoyed. Eating well, eating clean have been important things to me.
07:54 Being concerned about what I put in my body, because again, I think that I do believe you are what you eat in the sense that what nutrition we put into our body is what our body has to create new proteins with, to create new cells with. I've always been pretty conscious about what I put into my body. Now that being said, I'm also a major foodie. If I have a chance to stop by a top-chef restaurant and try out these amazing culinary works of art. I don't really think too much about how much butter went into it. I just enjoy the deliciousness. Again, talking about balance in food as well as movement in life is important to me.
08:37 In 2011, it was July 3, 2011, I found a lump in my breast. I knew when I found that lump, that something was very wrong, was never a question in my mind. That's because when we're talking about being connected to the body, I'd known for some time something wasn't right. I wasn't feeling right. I was experiencing a lot of fatigue. I was getting very frequent colds and flus and just really felt drained, had a very low energy. I'd been going to the doctor several times saying, "Something's not right. I just don't feel right." They'd checked my blood, they checked my blood levels, all this. "No, you're fine. Everything looks good." For those of you who are listening to this who may have or have had cancer, oftentimes those markers don't show up in the blood.
09:32 Even though I was going and I was being checked, as far as my doctor saw in my tests appeared, everything was normal. I sought out a natural path. I thought, "Well, let me look at this from a different perspective and work with a naturopathic physician. Maybe create a vitamin program. Maybe there's a deficiency that my MD isn't looking for." I did. We'll go into this definitely another episode. One of the vitamins that I was very low on was vitamin D. Studies have shown. I didn't know at that point. Maybe they already knew at that point. Since then, I heard and have become very familiar with the fact that low vitamin D levels are very common in people who have cancer.
10:19 That's common. They find that. We're now seeing correlations with low vitamin D levels and the occurrence of cancer. My naturopathic physician, she ran all the panels. We looked and saw that this was happening. There were some other vitamin deficiencies. I got on a vitamin program, made some tweaks to my nutrition plan to try to just get more vegetables. I was a vegetarian at the time, so that wasn't very hard. Just looking at the imbalance and what was actually in them and what I needed in order to support the vitamins that she was telling me I needed to have. I knew something a bit wrong. This had been going on for six to eight months. Then I found this lump.
11:09 I just knew. That's the thing. Sometimes when you you feel something or you notice something in your body and you think, "I'll go get that checked out." You're not really concerned, and sometimes you just know. Sure enough in about a week and a half, I had had my diagnosis. I did have stage two breast cancer. A little of the whirlwind begins. Again, for those of you who've been through this or maybe who are going through it now, you'll know that you get whisked up into the treatment regimen. That started off for me with a lumpectomy. From the lumpectomy, the pathology showed that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. When they woke me up, I was told that I had to go through chemotherapy because the cancer may be in my system.
12:02 Then later, after the post-surgical pathology, more bad news was that they didn't actually get all the cancer. There is a type of cancer that's called DCIS, stage zero cancer. That was surrounding the tumor that they removed from my breast. It was decided that when I finished chemotherapy, I would need to go back into surgery and have a bilateral mastectomy. That's the short part of the story. I did go through the chemo lumpectomy, bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction. Without going into too much detail on the surgeries and and the medical conditions, which we'll touch on it other times.
12:47 What was really important here is part of the story of becoming a health coach is that when I received my diagnosis, boy, I was lost. I had no idea what to do because my doctor, being a natural path, didn't work in the surgical world. She said to me, "I just don't have connections and I don't work with cancer patients. I don't know what direction to give you. maybe you could go home and google some information to understand what you need to do next." I was like, "Really? I'm walking out of here with cancer, and your advice is for me to google." Not so great, right? That's not a very good feeling. I went home, and I started googling.
13:32 I called a few of my friends and family members. I was so blessed to find one of my younger sisters had a friend, who knew a lady who had had breast cancer twice. This woman was a breast cancer mentor. She worked out of a local hospital here in Southern California, called Long Beach Memorial Hospital. She had been trained to be a mentor through this organization called Women Guiding Women. What they do is they train breast cancer survivors with specific skills to be able to coach and support other people. They match them up with newly-diagnosed breast and gynecological cancer patients. They just help you. They support you. They talk with you. They answer your questions.
14:26 There are women who have experienced this firsthand. For me, the mentor that called me had already had breast cancer twice. It was so wonderful for me, at that time, to have somebody that I felt safe with. Someone who had experienced those, who could help me understand what I might be walking into, what I could expect. that I could just turn to with real questions, that she didn't have to worry about what malpractice insurance was going to allow her to say. She could just tell me the truth. That was really important. You have to be a year out of your cancer treatment before you can become a part of the mentor program. When I recovered, I did go and I became a breast cancer mentor through Women Guiding Women.
15:16 That has just been such an amazing experience. It was really that experience that brought me to the point where I realized I could take my background, as a personal trainer, as a yoga teacher, my education in health and nutrition and exercise, and finally bring it all together. Because one of the things that I learned is that there were a lot of women out there in a similar position to me, who had finished their treatment for cancer, and now we're looking for ways to get healthy. There just weren't a lot of resources that addressed some of the specific things that we experience; going through multiple surgeries, being put back together, going through chemotherapy, going through radiation.
16:02 I heard from my physicians, "Oh, this is temporary. With time, everything will just go back to normal." Then you hear the other camp where people say, "Oh, this is your new normal. Once you get out of cancer treatment, this is your new normal." That's what I found to be true for me and for many women that I've worked with. For me, it was such an important and meaningful thing to finally be able to see that there was this need, that there were these women who had been through this treacherous and terrifying experience of breast cancer. That the resources that were out there so much for health and exercise, you get the general if you have diabetes, if you have heart disease, if you have cancer. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and get regular exercise. What does that really mean?
16:53 How do you do that when your chest has really been cut apart and put back together and your muscles don't work the same, and your range of motion is different? What do you do? How does somebody support you in that? That is what took me to the point that I am now, where I wrote a book on breast cancer recovery. That book talks a lot about what you do, how do you address these things emotionally, physically, and going forward and having a healthy lifestyle. This podcast isn't about the book. I just want you to understand that one of my focuses here is really offering that support to women, who are coming out of cancer treatment. That I understand what we go through, and lot of the changes that don't often get recognized by the medical field, but they're talked about a lot amongst those of us who have been through it.
18:00 This was a great opportunity for me because I never had quite figured out even though I loved exercise and nutrition. I had the certifications, and I worked with people. I'd always done it on the side because I knew that I didn't really just want to work as a personal trainer in the gym. I didn't want to just teach yoga. There was something more that I wanted to bring together with the background and the knowledge I had. The timing and my experiences and everything came together. I could see where I could put this together in creating healthy lifestyle programs. That's what I do. I work with women, as a coach, not as a trainer in the sense that I'm not here to tell you what to do. I'm here to help you figure out what's good for you.
18:52 To help you see what works in your life, what brings you happiness, what makes you feel healthy, strong, vibrant, and able to achieve the goals you want. Maybe the goal you want isn't to look a competitive bikini model. Maybe the goal you have is to have enough energy to play with your grandkids. Maybe it's to go and climb Mount Whitney. We all have different goals. We all have different views and different perceptions and health means something different to all of us. Finding that balance is what is important to me, and it's important to me to help other people to find that balance. That brings us back to when I said, "Let your lifestyle be your medicine." It's my tagline. It's on my logo. Why it's there is because, as I said in the beginning of this podcast, just eating healthy, in my opinion, is not a healthy lifestyle.
19:51 I've met many people who are in fantastic physical shape, who have clean diets and exercise regularly. Just are physically beautiful; but mentally, spiritually, emotionally, are nervous wrecks or not in a very happy place. For me, again, this is not a healthy life. Healthy encompasses all factors. It's how we think, if you're worried sick all the time, if you live in fear, which so many cancer survivors live in fear. Especially once treatment has stopped, there's that fear of getting a recurrence, not being watched so carefully.
20:35 It's this stage where, let's say when you're pregnant, right? If you've had the experience of being pregnant, people want to do things for you. Can I help you with this? Can I help you with that? Let me carry this for you. Let me do that for you, right? Well, when you're a cancer patient, oftentimes, you have a lot of support. People bringing dinner, people wanting to sit with you, help you. Get the kids where they need to be. Clean the house for you, whatever it is it with your treatments. Then, suddenly, it's done and your treatment is done. The expectation is that you're well. That's a very scary spot for a lot of women because even though they may have gotten that clearance that, "Yeah, you don't have cancer anymore. You're good to go." It's scary because there's always the chance that that's going to come back.
21:28 Getting your head in the right place, where you're not living in that fear and in that worry, is also a big part of your health. When we bring all these factors together; our habits, our routines, our way of thinking, our way of eating, our way of moving, this is what brings us to the point of our perfect health, creating a healthy lifestyle. That extends to relationships, your relationship with yourself, with your body, and with the people around you. Going into these next few episodes of Let Your Lifestyle Be Your Medicine, we'll be touching on all these in more detail. We'll look at food. We'll talk about cooking, We'll talk about essential oils, and some grass roots methods to treating joint pain or insomnia. Just supporting our body to get more rest and to reduce those effects that pain has on us oftentimes after surgeries and treatments.
22:27 Even just as we age or after menopause, many women go into menopause after their chemotherapy as well. I know I did. I look forward to exploring all of these areas with you more. I'm so excited because I'm so passionate about feeling well and being independent. Living a healthy, independent, thriving life is something that's so important to me. It's important to me to empower other people, and help them learn techniques to do these things. Understand ways to fit in, cooking healthy meals or preparing healthy foods with all the rest of the craziness in life. I don't expect anybody to make this 360-degree or 180-degree turn and change their life all the way over to being some a vegan fitness maniac. That's not what this is about.
23:22 I am going to give you lots of tips. We're going to talk to some people who are professionals and who work with cancer survivors, and who have devoted their lives to helping other people find happiness, and joy, and health and fulfillment in their lives. Thanks again for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I look forward as we move into future episodes, exploring some really great, wonderful ways to just create the healthiest lifestyles that we can have. Thanks again for listening. I'm so grateful that you were here today. I really appreciate you joining me and listening into this week's episode of Let Your Lifestyle Be Your Medicine.
24:09 If you what you heard here, please take the time to stop by the iTunes Store and leave me a review. Look for daily goodness that I put out on my Facebook page, Laura Lummer, and on Instagram and Twitter @Laura_Lummer. That's the number one. Please take the time to stop by my website, lauralummer.com, where you can download my free eBook, Six Habits of Healthy, Happy, Breast Cancer Survivors. You can also find out more about REVIVIFY. I'll talk to you again next week. Until then, let your lifestyle be your medicine.