My Selfish Blog

Lately I have been posting quite a few ‘then’ and ‘now’ photos on my social media accounts. It’s not because I think I look more beautiful when slimmer (as some have alluded to). It is because I have totally ‘wowed’ myself as I honestly never believed I would be as fit and as healthy as I am today.

Recently, I found an old body analytics sheet from 2017 – the year of the diagnosis and  the year I stopped eating meat and dairy. My body fat percentage was 42%! Today it is 32%. This has shocked me to the core. I have lost 10% body fat in the last 2 years. The figure still isn’t as I’d like as apparently my ideal lies somewhere in the early 20s. Also, I now run regularly! I never used to be able to walk on the treadmill for more than 5 minutes!

Seeing my body fat loss, sparked off my search for more ‘then’ and ‘now’ photos.The ‘then’ photos are from my biggest days which lie somewhere between 2009 – 2013. All the ‘now’ photos have been taken within the last month.   So, this blog is a short one really and is definitely quite a selfish one because I plan to keep coming back to this page, to constantly remind myself, how far I have come.

 

Oh and if this inspires you too, fantastic! 🙂 No really, I hope that you too might be inspired to make healthier lifestyle choices. Our lives depend on it.

 

Who’s That Girl?

Who’s that Girl?

….La la la la la la la – Becky’s that girl la la la la la la la!

Excuse me as I indulge in the rapper Eve’s classic chorus with my own twist.

I’m feeling kind of sweet right now. A big contrast to this time two years ago when I was psyching myself up for the big op. At the time I couldn’t imagine the future. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t make any plans, I had no view of what my life beyond that moment might look like. I didn’t know if the operation was going to be successful. I had read stories about doctors operating to rid the body of cancer, only to find huge tumours that had been previously missed, and were too far gone to be dealt with.

But boy has time moved on and my outlook changed! I have been extremely fortunate, and I don’t let myself forget it. I had cancer and now I don’t. Now I am working very hard to stay cancer-free. So, what does that involve? I’ve spoken about some of this stuff before and so I won’t go into great detail but generally:

  • I try as much as possible to stay in positive environments and around uplifting people (I am surrounded by some wonderful souls who help me do this).
  • I have eliminated all meat and most dairy from my diet.
  • I take a vitamin D3 supplement every day.
  • I do not drink alcohol at all because it there is evidence that alcohol increases your chances of getting breast cancer. You can read more here.
  • I stay prayed up – yeah I’m a God chick, who knew?
  • Probably the biggest change I have made is to my workouts. As a survivor I have it etched in my brain that working out 5 times a week decreases my chances of getting a recurrence by 40%. Check out what the NHS is saying about that here. The International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation states: “ Physical exercise has repeatedly been shown to prevent recurrence among breast cancer survivors. The findings of these studies suggested that high physical activity levels are associated with a significantly decreased risk of breast cancer mortality or overall mortality. Breast cancer patients with higher physical activity levels may have improved prognosis with a lower risk of recurrence and death than sedentary survivors.”

I can’t ignore the evidence! If working out 5 days a week lessens my chances of getting cancer again by such a huge amount, why would I not get with the programme?

Rachel and I at the 3ness fitness weekender 2019

I’ve been on it! Helped by my fellow cancer survivor friend Rachel, we have been killing it in the gym and at home. Rachel lives in London and me, Birmingham. We hold each other accountable to our workouts and eating via Whatsapp on a daily basis. I also take part in boot camp and power bag classes at Alexander Stadium with the ball-busting Martin and militant Steve. These guys are amazing and know their stuff, they push us to our limits! With incredible results.

More recently, I have discovered running. Let me tell you now, I do not love running in the slightest. I really would rather not run. However, I am getting better with each circuit around the track, I know it’s great for my health and on an egotistical tip, it is shaping up my body a treat! I have been averaging 1-2 runs a week alongside my other workouts. However, I recently saw gospel artist Kirk Franklin on the Breakfast Club and he said he ran 20 miles a week! He is nearing 50 and looks incredible. This has inspired me; if he can do 20 miles a week, I can at least up my game to 9 miles by increasing my runs to three times weekly.

Anyway, this blog is turning out to be longer than planned. I simply wanted to report on how wonderful the exercise and general healthy lifestyle has made me feel. I was looking back at some old photos of me and I wondered: if I had known back then how delightful and fulfilling it would feel to live such a healthy and fit lifestyle, would I have done it sooner? The answer would be: ‘Most definitely yes!’ I feel confident, beautiful, healthy, fit, inspired, youthful and hopeful. I am what Michelle Obama describes as ‘Becoming’ at the ripe old age of 42 and I love it!

So, when I see my new reflection in the mirror and remember what it took to get me here, I am not coy to reply to the imaginary Eve in my head:

‘Becky’s that girl! La la la la la la la!’

Olive Oil vs Rapeseed Oil

Last night I was speaking on Facebook Live in my Living on Purpose 2018 group about plant-based eating, and some really interesting topics arose. One such subject was around the types of oils we use to cook. In particular, we spoke about what we perceived to be the benefits (or not) of Rapeseed oil. My knowledge on it was very sketchy but what I did know was that Rapeseed oil has a high smoke point. This is a positive attribute because it means that it can be cooked at high temperatures without breaking down. Once it breaks down, it loses its health benefits and can actually become toxic and carcinogenic (cancer causing). But admittedly, I didn’t know much more beyond this.

Olive Oil has long been touted as a healthy oil but again, I could categorically tell you why. So, today I set about doing some research and this is what I found:

Olive Oil vs Rapeseed Oil

Personally, I need to be drizzling extra virgin olive oil on my salads for those antioxidant polyphenols. But as for my cooking, it has to be Rapeseed oil all the way, mainly due to its high smoke point. What’s the point having a so-called healthy oil, if it becomes toxic when heated? Which do you prefer?

Zumbathon for Breast Cancer Care

“I’m a bit sensitive and don’t want to be a blubbering mess. Is it okay to come back to you by Tuesday with a reply?”

P1020859

About 2 weeks ago a long-standing Zumba colleague, Andrea Edwards, told me she and her Zumba partner Helen Challis, were having a Zumbathon in Tipton for Breast Cancer Care. This is just one of the charities that took great care of me whilst I was going through my cancer ordeal. Andrea had asked me to speak for a few minutes about my experience and to create awareness of the disease.

Though I have happily shouted from the roof tops on social media about my experience, being faced with a hall full of ladies, telling them about my experience and having my breasts stared at (because people do look – it’s natural I guess), unnerved me. I am still wrapping my head around what has happened and sometimes I do get tearful. I didn’t want that to happen in front of an audience.

However, my fear of breaking down was not realised. I did my 5 minute speech where I warned women to:

  1. Watch out for signs of breast cancer: dimpled skin, dry skin, inverted nipple, nipple discharge as well as the notorious lump
  2. Insist on getting genetically tested for BC if your mum, sister or auntie had breast cancer.
  3. Act quickly if they do find anything untoward as early detection saves lives.

 

p1020868.jpgThe event was full of joyful vibes, it was visually poppin’ and so well organised. The atmosphere was buzzing! About 200 people came adorned in their pink, reppin’ for Breast Cancer Awareness

Though I still can’t bounce due to my scars (they hurt like hell when aggravated), I did what I could. I remembered why I fell in love with Zumba in the first place. My heart nearly exploded with joy when I led my routine to Mr Vegas’ ‘I am Blessed’.

Thank you so much to Andrea and Helen for inviting me to your much needed event. You are fab instructors who clearly mean a lot to your local community, this is evidenced by the great turn out. 

In my hospital bed, about 4 days after surgery, I said to myself “I want to speak to other women about breast cancer so that this disease kills less people.”

I guess I have now started on that journey and…

…it feels right. 

 

Blowing Darkness a Goodbye Kiss

Thailand 2007
Bangkok 2007

I am my own angel but never knew it! I wrote this poem back in 2007. Ten years ago! I wonder if I had followed my own advice to the letter, if I would have still been diagnosed with breast cancer? Perhaps I felt I was too radical at the time and was just being a conspiracy theorist.

I don’t support everything I wrote back then. For instance, I no longer eat meat and I am very respectful of medical professionals in general. Their knowledge, skills and understanding around cancer, saved my life. However, I know there is a lot of truth to the research I did. What I am saying is, that when profit-making is connected to our health and well-being, there has to be adequate levels of supply and demand. We just need to be informed so that we remain healthy individuals and not merely bodies from which our illness make corporations billions of pounds yearly. 

Read it, and take away what you need.

Blowing Darkness a Goodbye Kiss

by Rebbecca Hemmings 2007 (c) 

Recently I made a decision

If you let it, the system will kill you

And I’m not ready to go, so

I’m on a natural tip

No more cows’ milk; its Soya all the way

The taste is an acquired one

But preferable to decay

 

The caffeine that used to get me hyper

Has now all but disappeared

Recent reports say it causes stunted growth

Now I’m not the tallest person in the world so

I guess the damage has been done

But bun that cos I’m more informed now

We’re eating goat, we’re savouring  lamb,

Yamming foul, consuming ham

Cancer causing carcinogens

Make your blood cark, it’s dark!

meat-1816719_1280

Now I’m not preaching

I suppose I’m just teaching

Blowing darkness a goodbye kiss

Breaking news; ignorance is not bliss

 

I’d be lying if I said I don’t eat meat, Chicken is the one!

Giving that up ain’t no easy feat

I have to work on them one by one

But the levels of consumption

Have seriously depleted,

One more step to getting the pharmaceuticals defeated

 

Cos you understand that don’t you?

It’s important you understand

If we all lead a natural lifestyle

We’d be taking money from the man

You understand?

They make billions from the tablets, and the medicines we digest

They don’t want you to get better

“Take these pills and get plenty of bed rest”

medications-342462_1280

Now I’m not preaching

I suppose I’m just teaching

Blowing darkness a goodbye kiss

Breaking news; ignorance is not bliss

 

Yeah I did it, I got a colonic

My system needed to purge

I was turning bionic

Cos what had happened was

My system had overloaded

With the chemicals that had invaded my flesh

I started to imagine me eroded

The monosodium glutamate and the starchy Acrylamide

The mercury and the arsenic

Not forgetting the sulphur dioxide,

Box-side!

If the chemicals were black they’d be up for attempted murder

But their in their nice bright pretty container

Buying them seems to be a no brainer

 

Now I’m not preaching

I suppose I’m just teaching

Blowing darkness a goodbye kiss

Breaking news; ignorance is not bliss

 

So I’ve taken my body back from the powers that be

Giving her what she deserves

To be treated nicely

She likes it, so in return she pays me back

With energy, sprite and immaculate health

And a body to be proud of

I’m telling you boy, I love my new self.

Can’t say I don’t miss certain things

Coco bread and pattie

I have to put them to rest

But at least I know the black stuff

Will find it harder to reach my breast

 

We wonder why we’re all getting fat

Well we all know who has a hand in that.

Just stop the wheel, and get the hell off!

You and your children are in danger

Don’t  tell me seh me never warn you

When your body becomes a stranger

Treat your body right and look after your own

They rely on you not knowing

How do you think the Stock Exchange has grown?

 

Don’t take my word for it, do your research

But I’m telling you

You will find, if you search

Well time for me to go now,

Go drink some herbal tea, its criss

But before I go, please acknowledge this

                                                                                   

I really wasn’t preaching

I suppose I was just teaching

Blowing darkness a goodbye kiss

Breaking news; ignorance is not bliss

 

You can see me perform this on Youtube here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bangin’ Joints & Cancer

I remember about 2 weeks before my mastectomy surgery, I was getting ready for a party. It’s was my friend Petra’s 20170520_220419 40th birthday so it was a big deal. I was looking forward to celebrating with her. I knew there would great people, tasty food and some bangin’ joints (just to be clear that means ‘extra good music’, not any other kind of joint). I hadn’t been out for a few months prior to this night and I was particularly keen to release some tension on the dance floor (I love to dance) as the last few weeks had been considerably taxing mentally.

I had put on my favourite white shorts playsuit, pulled my hair up into a curly bun and was applying my make up in the mirror. I had DJ Milktray playing in the background. He is a motivational DJ from London who knows how to hype up the airwaves. I was swaying whilst applying the finishing touches to my mascara. My mood was that of excitement and ready to par-tay! “You look good” I thought to myself and I admired the image staring back at my entire being.

Then it was if someone had yanked out the plug from my mp3 player, switched the bedroom light off and a shone a harsh spotlight under my chin. You know the kind of lighting that shows up every bump, lump and blemish? For the first time, I looked at myself seriously as all those wonderful feelings fell to the floor like a broken vase and were replaced by a hunk of dead mass in my insides oozing with the pains of my current situation. “…but you have cancer”. For the first time in 4 weeks, it had finally hit home. I had cancer; it was very real. It whacked me like a mallet to the head.