Guest Post: The Burning Truth About Skin Cancer

Welcome to Finding My Strong Blog’s first ever guest series. Over the course of the next 4 weeks I will be adding two guest posts from a wonderful writer who not only happens to be my best friend, but happens to be finding her own strong this year. Her journey through cancer, weight loss, and Hypothyroidism is one you won’t want to miss! Christy is a professional counselor and Mobile Crisis Team Specialist living in Annapolis, MD. Between lifeguarding for six years and subsequently responding to crisis situations with local police, Christy has learned to handle adversity, keep her cool, and how to make a plan of action. Christy is a strong believer in gaining support and learning from others and hopes to pass on some of what she has learned along the way. Christy’s journey to finding her strong is ongoing and you can follow Christy on Twitter: @beachnative27, on Instagram: beachnative27, and even on Snapchat for motivational gym snaps: (you may have guessed it…) beachnative27. Now join me as we learn more about to to build strong and healthy bodies through Christy’s inspiring journey.

Growing up I was that kid at the beach. You know… that pale kid… slathered in sunblock… wearing the oversized shirt… under the enormous umbrella. That was me from the time I was born until I became a teen and could conveniently “forget” to put on sunblock, or I could choose to toss off the shirt and escape the umbrella in search of a tan. I’m pale, that’s just a fact of life for people with strong German and Irish heritage; so the sun can be a major problem. I’ve always been pretty good about wearing my sunblock when I’m outside, and even though I have never once stepped foot inside a tanning bed, I still got cancer.

I love the sun! Growing up in San Diego on the beach and then lifeguarding each summer after moving to the East Coast meant that I saw a ton of sun as a kid. I still see it all the time between my various activities because my favorite place to be is outside. I was 18 years old when I was diagnosed with my first Stage 1 Melanoma. It was a small spot on my arm that I overlooked given my many freckles and moles; it simply looked like an extra dark freckle with a light colored ring around it. I asked my dermatologist for a mole check to have a baseline – for future problems I thought – when I was 18 and walked out with a bandage over my biopsy site thinking it was no big deal… but it was. I had cancer.

I am very blessed that all three of my melanomas were caught early and I have not had to undergo aggressive treatment like some of the people in the attached video. I have had one removed from the topside of my right forearm (2007), one removed from my left shoulder blade (2012), and one removed from the backside of my right ear (removed one month ago). The common factors about all three sites are that they see a lot of sun when you are not careful and consistent with sun block.

I’ve played sports my entire life, and currently I have gotten involved in league sports as well as pursuing fitness for my own goals. As I mentioned previously, I love to be outside so sunblock has become a permanent sidekick of mine. The various manufacturers have made it so convenient to wear that there are no good excuses to skip it. I’m outside a lot so I carry lip balm that has sun block in it with me at all times, and I make sure to apply sunblock at least ten minutes before my activity and then reapply every hour to two hours.  I also make sure to use a spray sunblock to go over the part in my hair and my scalp. I’m not perfect, I still get sunburns, but I do my very best to protect myself from further sun damage and cancer.

Don’t get me wrong, the sun is your friend. You need vitamin D for strong bones and you need sunshine to improve mood; but you don’t want to get so much that it ends up harming you. Learn from my experience and don’t face going in for biopsies of suspicious sites every six months (I have 12 scars from skin biopsies), wear your sunblock. When you go out running, swimming, biking, hiking, or any other type of outdoor activity… WEAR YOUR SUNBLOCK! Wear your sunblock even if you are only planning to be outside for an hour and wear it even if it is cloudy outside (cloudy days and water activity are deceptively dangerous for sun damage).

If you have freckles and moles, no need to panic! Just make sure that you know your body; keep track of your freckles, moles, and skin in general. If you notice changes in size, color, or shape be sure to get it checked out by a dermatologist. It’s smart to get freckles and moles checked by a dermatologist every couple of years just in case. As my dermatologist put it… skin cancer can pop up where the sun don’t shine … and she ain’t kidding.

If you really want that tan, consider getting a spray tan. Check out the link below and consider this… “Just one indoor tanning session increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20%1; and people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75%2. Knowledge is power, learn from others’ experiences and protect your skin so that it can protect you.

christy2

For more information please visit: http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts

 References:
Boniol M, Autier P, Boyle P, Gandini S. Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2012; 345:e4757. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e4757
Lazovich D, Vogel RI, Berwick M, Weinstock MA, Anderson KE, Warshaw EM. Indoor tanning and risk of melanoma: a case-control study in a highly-exposed population. Cancer Epidem Biomar Prev 2010 June; 19(6):1557-1568.

Winter Cross Training

This week has seen some of the coldest weather across the U.S. in HISTORY! -30 in the Midwest, 0 in Boston, 9 in DC? And that’s before windchill! Let’s be honest, few things deter this runner than the words “arctic blast” or “frigid” and “negative X degrees” so thank you Weather Channel (below) for inspiring this blog post.

cold

Thankfully we have a gym and I was able to run indoors when I needed to this week…but I am happy to say that I did get a snow run in on Friday and loved every minute of it. But what if we can’t get out and run in the sub zero weather? What are our options?

1) Move it indoors.Hit up your local gym (one of the biggest pro’s of living in an apartment in DC is that we have one downstairs), join a spinning or barre class, sweat it out in hot yoga, or slip in a workout DVD. One of the coolest things about the new Xbox One is their partnership with Jillian Michaels, Tony Horton (P90X), and Shaun T (Insanity) through Xbox Fitness which gives you access to great (and usually very expensive) workouts with the click of your controller. Looks like I do like my husbands Xbox after all! So to my male readers, if you are looking for that perfect excuse to buy n Xbox One and your significant other is against it…you can use this…and you can thank me later.

2) Find an indoor pool. Check with your local YMCA, near by schools, public pools, and universities for open swim hours. Before I competed in my first (and only to date…gotta change that!) sprint triathlon I would train at the indoor swimming pool at my alma mater. It was free to me and their open swim hours started after I got off of work each night!

3) Find your missing motivation. Some days are harder than others…but the bulk of my “hard days” seem to fall in the dead of winter. It might have something to do with my warm down comforter…but dig deep and remember what’s motivating you to get moving. Print it out/write it down and stick it somewhere you can see every day.

4) Enjoy winter sports. Use the Sochi Winter Olympics to inspire you and test out one of these great winter sports. Yesterday Max and I traded in our long-run day for a day on the mountain with my mom and dad. I was so happy to get my snowboard back on the mountain and get used to the sport all over again. It’s been at least 2 years since I was last on my board! It took only one run down a green slope to remember what a workout snowboarding is on your quads! Think squatting for an entire day…

Snowboarding – burns 430 calories in an hour

Ice skating – burns 300 calories in an hour

Snow shoeing – burns 500 calories in an hour

Cross country skiing – burns 500 calories in an hour

Downhill skiing – burns 430 calories an hour

Broom ball – burns 470 calories in an hour

Sledding – burns 450 in an hour (walking up those hills!)

cllage ski

But like many of you, nothing can replace the feeling of finishing a good run…even if it is 9 degrees outside and you cannot feel your legs! Runners World has a great calculator for what you should be wearing in various temperatures. I’ve used it for each of my races and they have been spot on. My general rule of thumb is add 20 degrees to whatever temperature if currently is and you should be set since you’ll warm up once you get running.

what to wear

Stay safe and warm if you do venture out into Narnia my friends! So what do you do for your winter cross training? How do you stay motivated? I’m off to try out p90x on the XBoxOne now…I’ll let you know how it goes. This is my first time doing any of the BeachBody workout videos. Yikes!

My Obsession: Road Runner Sports VIP Membership

Occasionally I channel my inner BrokeMillenial and get SUPER excited about saving on running gear. Let’s face it, running (as an action) is pretty much free…running gear is a whole different story! How many times have you walked into a running store or Sports Authority on a mission for running shoes and walked out with $300 in new gear? Guilty! That’s where my Road Runner Sports VIP membership comes in.

I love the store in general 🙂 but their VIP family membership is something that we have been a part of for over 5 years now. At $24.99 a year it pays for itself (see my math below). For years my dad (a cyclist and triathlete) had a VIP family membership with Road Runner and I would simply check out with his code. But two years ago his expired and he did not renew it and I knew, standing at the checkout line with my new shoes in hand, that I would SAVE money by purchasing my own. So I did — and I have never looked back even though they rang a really loud bell and cheered when I bought it.

So why am I so exited about a VIP membership? Let me explain…

1) 10% off on ALL of your orders. Who does not love a deal? Do the math…a pair of Brooks costs about $130. So 10% off means $13 off your shoes. Considering Max and I go through about 2 pair a year each that’s a savings of approximately $52 a year in shoes alone! That MORE than pays off the cost of the membership. But the savings isn’t just for shoes. We got $2 off an achilles tendon strap, $0.13 off each Gu Gel pack, and they always have great deals on Nuun so we tend to try out new flavors often. Want more than 10% off, just keep an eye out for their special VIP events where VIP members get 20% off or have VIP-only sales. A few weeks ago I got my Brooks Ravenna 4’s for $80. Yup….$80! Those are $100+ shoes!

brooks

2) Free shipping on all of your orders. There are Road Runner Sports stores all over the country but they are not a HUGE chain (yet). I recommend the membership to everyone regardless of their location because they can order their shoes for free and return them if they are not right. Best choice: get fitted at a store near you and order them from Road Runner. Trust me….it’ll be cheaper!

3) 90 day “wear ’em & love ’em” guarantee. So you buy your shoes, they fit great in the store, and you head out on your first run and they just don’t feel right (too tight, shin splints, pain, causing you to pronate, etc.). At most stores that’s the end of the line for you…you are stuck with them because you have already worn them. Not Road Runner. You can put your miles on them and within 90 days return them for a FULL refund, no questions asked. Last month Mr. Husband read about a new pair of minimalist-like shoes called Under Armor Speed Forms. They were flashy and great (and we ordered them online via Road Runner) but he has achilles tendinitis and minimalist-like shoes were his worst enemy.  We took them in today, got him back in a pair of Brooks, and returned the UA’s with the 90 day guarantee because of our VIP membership. We have one more week until our half marathon so we didn’t have a lot of time to mess around! We also love Under Armor (…one look at Max’s ALL Under Armor running outfits will tell you that) but these shoes were just not for him.

4) Their customer service is great and they are always attentive. Whether it is helping you get your shoes fitted via their Shoe Dog program (really cool!), or helping you find new gear or food, they are they to help you. During last weeks races I developed 2 blisters on the back of my heels. One is smaller so I can ignore it 🙂 but the other…the other was nasty! I’ve got moleskin’s and gauze and band-aids on it but need something more for next weekends half. Our Finish Line Expert, Richard, told me about a pair of socks they used to sell that were created by WrightSock that were thin/multi-layer socks so that the friction stays between the sock and off of your feet. He dug around in the back, found the last pair in my size, and gave me a huge discount on the 3-pack (originally $32.99 but sold to me for $13.72 with my VIP discount combined with a clearance discount). I’ll be thanking Richard at the finish line of next weekends race!

vip

5) They’ve got all the brands. Those fancy Under Armor shoes I spoke about above? We went to the Under Armor store and they didn’t even have a pair! Road Runner Sports did. Newton running shoes are another good example of running shoes that are specialized and hard to find. But yes, Road Runner Sports has them and even has “Newton Nights” where representatives come in to teach you about fore-foot running (sounds painful to me – but if you know more about it hit me up!).

7) It’s only $24.99 a year and if you order it online they have specific deals where you can get a one year membership for $1.99. That’s right, you can get the VIP membership online right NOW for $1.99. I might as well renew it right now…

No, Road Runner did not pay me to write this post. I am just an excited customer who was really happy with my experience there today (and every time I walk into the store). My family loves this store and my dad was there earlier in the morning to stock up on Nuun and check out socks. If you are serious about running you really should do yourself a favor and become a VIP member. It is worth every penny!

nun

Follow Along on Social Media

Hey Friends,

Sorry for the delay in posts this week, it’s been a little busy, but I’ll be working on a new blog post this weekend for you! I wanted to send along my Instagram and Twitter feeds for you to follow as well. I am constantly posting (especially on Twitter) all day long from Women’s Running, Runner’s World, and a ton of great health bloggers. So follow along @

Twitter: https://twitter.com/L_Schaef

Instagram: http://instagram.com/lbennett616

See you online! Keep finding YOUR strong!

-Laura