Wednesday, January 22, 2014

7 Goals for 2014

I'm not a big resolution person but here are some of my goals for this year. I share these with you lovely readers so that you can help keep me accountable! We've moved into our lovely new house and soon we will have our second little boy here with us. With all the change and transition, it just feels like a good time to start building up some new, better habits. Without further ado, here are some of my goals for 2014:

  • Keep the house clean enough. I'm not shooting for Martha Stewart, picture-perfect every day here. I just want to keep the cleaning manageable and not feel like I need to apologize if someone stops by unexpectedly. I'll be posting a cleaning schedule later. I wrote it out today and will start enforcing it tonight!
  • No more medical debt. With all of Alex's health issues from last year and having two babies in two years, we've got more doctor's bills than I would like. We've been paying them off as we can, but I hope to have them all paid off by the end of the year! (Alex's pediatrician was paid off this month!)
  • Try new recipes. I'm in a rut. I cook the same 7-10 meals over and over again. Once new baby is here and we get a decent rhythm down, I want to try one new recipe each week. Each recipe will be a whole foods recipe and will hopefully help expand my culinary skills (I'm getting better!) as well as increase our dietary variety.
  • Make fitness a priority. This will be hard with two littles and a full time job, but it's very important to me! Yes, I'd like to lose some weight (maybe a lot of weight), but I really want to focus on helping my body to function better.
  • Decorate the house. I am not a big decorator. Home decor is one thing that just kinda didn't get downloaded into my programming. However, I want to decorate our little house and have it looking good. I'm giving myself a year here and it's gonna take me some time.
  • Build up a garden. I'm so excited to have a yard! Not only will the boys have a place to run and play, which Alex already enjoys, but we can have a garden! I want to grow many of our own fruits and veggies and herbs. Be watching for details as our plan unfolds!
  • Make our lifestyle more sustainable. While our lifestyle is already pretty "green" in some respects, I'd really like to make even more improvements. One area I really want to focus on this year is eliminating one-time-use products and extra plastics. I don't think this will be a difficult goal, but it will take some time to build up a stash of reusable items to replace our commonly used disposable stuffs.
Alrighty, that's quite a bit! Check in with me and keep me honest! I'll be posting about each of these goals through out the year and hopefully we can inspire and motivate one another along the way!

What goals do you have for this year?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cervical Cancer Risks: More Than You Think

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. As many of you know, cervical cancer is very near and dear to my heart. Just nine short months before conceiving my first son I had part of my cervix removed to prevent abnormal cells from becoming potentially invasive cancer. You can read that story here.

In getting ready for this month, I posted an anonymous survey to my Facebook just to get a feel for how my friends thought about cervical cancer. Wonderfully, most of the responders are up to date on their pap smears. Most say they have to have it for their birth control or their OB/GYN schedules the procedure for them so they just show up and get it over and done with. A few people mentioned the importance of early detection of cancerous cells or that they are HPV positive and therefore have been told to keep a close eye on it.

However, some claimed to not be up to date because they are "low risk" or "young." Most didn't even know what their personal risk factors are. It seems to me that the idea is thrown around that because most (not all) cervical cancers are linked to HPV infection, and as we all know HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, that some people might think that only the 'slutty' girls get cervical cancer. Oh how I wish that were true!

Cancer Treatment Centers of America lists the following risk factors for Cervical Cancer:

  • Having 3 or more full-term pregnancies or having your first full-term pregnancy before age 17.
  • Having a first order female relative (mother, sister) who also had cervical cancer.
  • "Risky" sexual behavior such as having sex prior to age 18, having a history of multiple partners or having a single partner who has had multiple past partners.
  • There may also be a connection between chlamydia infections and increased risk.
  • General cancer risk factors such as smoking and obesity.
  • Using birth control pills for more than five years.
  • Having a weakened immune system.
  • Your mother having taken DES while pregnant with you.
  • Having an infection of a "high-risk" strain of HPV.
Of my friends who responded saying they were "low" risk or didn't know their risk factors, almost all of them had one or more of the risk factors listed above.

Now, this post is not meant to scare you into the stirrups for your next pap (though if you're due, scheduling your exam sooner rather than later is a good idea). The point today is that we cannot take cervical cancer lightly. Know your risk factors and talk them over with your healthcare provider. With early detection, cervical cancer can have a 100% survival rate.