Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Getting Clean

Remember November?? Of course not. A bazillion things have happened since then.  I'm pretty sure I'm not even the same person. Well, that might be a little extreme. But you get the point.

I spent the first three weeks of November undertaking "The Cleanse".  It seemed like the perfect way to prepare for the holidays and celebrate moving into our new home - and to combat the missteps I'd made while we were in transition.

Anyway - Here's the overview of what I did:

Week 1: fruit, veggies, beans & nuts
Week 2: add whole grains like quinoa, barley and brown rice
Week 3: add white fish

  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • processed food
  • sugar, artificial sweeteners, candy, packaged snacks
  • fried foods, meat or dairy
Maybe some of you eat like this all the time. I don't.... and my heart healthy diet happily has room for coffee, wine, meat and dairy (even if sparingly so).  But, I sort of wanted to see if I could do it, just for the sake of doing something good for my body.

I went to Trader Joe's and stocked up on the Week 1 necessities - frozen fruit, almond milk and vanilla flavored protein powder for the daily shakes I'd be calling breakfast, a rainbow of vegetables and bags of dried fruit and raw and unsalted nuts. 

Truthfully, none of this looked like a "meal" to me.... but there was nothing in the cleanse about counting calories or balanced plates and so I forged ahead.

For the first 7 days, my meals looked like this:

Let's be clear - the first day sucked. I even puked after dinner. I'm pretty sure I ate some bad apple sauce. Brian was appalled as he brought me ice water and painkillers and kept saying pointedly "babe, I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to go like this." But as the week continued, things got much better.  I think I was scared about how I'd feel without the stuff I was used to - like coffee in the morning (And truthfully Brian was a little scared too - who wants to live with someone quitting coffee and wine cold turkey? He's a trooper!).  What I learned is when you stop putting the less good stuff in your body and replace it with the really good stuff, everything changes. You feel soooo good, and it's not "fake" energy - from caffeine or sugar or alcohol. It's a very internal, "clean" energy.  I slept better.  I didn't hit a wall after lunch. Even my skin looked better. One of the hardest things about it was having to really REALLY plan out my meals - I am totally "that girl" who makes bad decision about food when I get too hungry.

As the days turned into weeks and I could start adding more foods back in to my diet, I got a little cheaty.  One day I splurged on a decaf soy latte (I'm pretty sure there's caffeine in decaf). Another night, I was out with my former neighbor and we wound up stopping at a restaurant where a cheeseburger was the healthiest thing on the menu (I paid for that red meat splurge for days. ugh). Happily, there were other nights where Brian and Cam were stealing nibbles off my plate because I'd found great ways to make my cleanse food delicious. I had consulted lots of friends - vegans, gluten-frees, and vegetarians - about their faves. I tried lots of things I'd never had before or tried the things I like in new ways (try roasting root vegetables in pure maple syrup. Total YUM. Or tossing chick peas in olive oil and spices and baking till crunchy!). On the whole, it was such a good experience - so much so that I'm doing it again (Who wants to join me?) for the 21 days leading up to my birthday in June. 

All of this is the really long way to make this point - just freakin' do the healthy thing you've been putting off. I run into so many people, who when they learn about my heart attack, always say they need to be healthier. Or they wish they were healthier.  And then come up with a million excuses about why it's not the right time. It will never be the right time. Do you really want the right time to be after you've had a heart attack (because you might be kind of dead at that point)? Or some other horrible scare? 

I do like to slip on my bossypants now and then.  Summer is here, friends. Do something good for yourself :)

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”  ~Doug Larson

Saturday, May 4, 2013


 In January 2011, Cameron had grown to be a rather sizable bump in my belly.  I was headed into my third trimester, but to most, I probably already looked full term. The winter was icy and I'd stopped going to my favorite spin class after work because I was scared I'd slip and break my fetus. I had never heard of SCAD and definitely wasn't thinking of my heart. Ever. Brian and I (along with many friends and family) were just waiting, perhaps a bit impatiently, for Baby Boy Siebert to join the world.

At the same time (and halfway across the country) a woman named Judy Alico would suffer a SCAD at the age of 51 and pass away two days later. I can only imagine the shock and grief her family - husband, child, sisters - must have felt. Like many, they'd never heard of SCAD. There were living their happy, normal lives. And then Judy died. Her husband, Bob, had many questions for the cardiologist involved on Judy's case. There were no answers. Thankfully, this wasn't good enough for Bob.  Over the next six months, Bob Alico took the steps to create SCAD Research, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to fund promising research about Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. In his grief and in his wife's honor, Bob decided to take action.  Little did I know how Bob's strength and courage would come to impact my life.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the second annual SCAD Research 5k and Reunion.  "Reunion" is a funny word to describe spending time with people you've never met, but it couldn't be more fitting for the emotional component of experience. Last year, 21 survivors made the trip to Naperville, IL - birthplace of Judy Alico - to celebrate survival and support the search for answers.  There were ALOT of tears..... and laughter and hugs. 

A team from the Mayo Clinic has joined us for lunch to share the latest scoop on SCAD.  The presenting doctor said something that keeps swirling around in my head:

"SCAD isn't rare.  It's under-recognized.  And we're starting to compile the evidence to suggest that SCAD is a common cause of heart attacks in women under 50."

That wasn't "true"  two years ago when I scoured the internet for information and all I could find was course offerings Savannah College of Art & Design (inconveniently also 'SCAD'). Imagine, with Bob's efforts around SCAD Research, what the coming years will bring.

This year, 37 survivors came together.

Me getting jazzed for the walk (no rain!)

My SCADsister Karen.... who affectionately refers to me as her "Lorax"

SCADsisters Ellen & Meghan

SCADsister Nancy

Bob Alico had his wife taken away from him. And somehow, he's managed to create a legacy for her that has given a bunch of total strangers from all over the world something that he didn't get to have.


"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." - Henry Ford 

"From quiet homes and first beginning, out to the undiscovered ends, there's nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends." - Hilaire Belloc