Sharon DeVellis: Inside Scoop


Why 10 Minutes is All it Takes to Help Prevent Cancer

...and How Will Ferrell Can Help Make You Live Longer

Ten Minutes Is All It Takes to Help You Beat Cancer

My mom died when she was 59. That thought crosses my mind every day of every week, and when I think of all that she - that we - have missed, it breaks my heart.

I used to be a couch potato. When I first met my husband, he went to the gym five days a week. I sat at home and watched television or read. Running was a foreign concept to me and my idea of exercise was a night out dancing with girlfriends. Even after my mom passed away, I didn’t make any changes. But with age comes the realization that you aren’t invincible and mortality is the great equalizer.

When I first started to work out “for reals” a few years ago, I had an “all or nothing mentality.” If I couldn’t fit in an intense workout, I wouldn’t work out, period. Unfortunately this meant there were many days I didn’t work out at all which defeated the whole purpose.

I don’t want my kids to grow up without me so I implemented small changes that made a big difference in my health. If there is one piece of advice I want you to take away from this, it’s this: 

You don’t have to do a complete overhaul in order to be improve your health. And there is no failure because creating a healthier lifestyle is an ongoing journey. If you fall off the wagon, you can just get right back on.

Here are five simple things you can do to get back on the healthy wagon and help you live a longer, healthier life.

1. Start Moving More

You can’t swing an exercise ball without hitting an article about how sitting still is killing us. I want you to take a moment and be honest with yourself. How much of the day are you sitting? I’m an active person who works out five to six days a week and when I did my own honest assessment the answer shocked me.

If you are sitting more than you’re moving, it’s time to change that. Buy a pedometer and monitor your steps, take more trips up and down the stairs to put away your laundry, park further away in the parking lot and make an extra trip around the mall when you go shopping. One of the things I did was download a Skype app on my phone. Now when I have weekly Skype meetings, I pace my house the entire time.

Secret Fact: This is the first time my boss, Erica, is reading about my walking Skype meetings.

2. Add in Greens

Here’s the simple truth: When you’re eating more vegetables, you’re eating less crap.

I have the focus of a gnat on amphetamines, so whatever is front and centre in my fridge is what I tend to snack on throughout the day or eat for lunch. Now when I go grocery shopping, the moment I come home, I wash and cut up veggies and give them a front row seat at eye level, so when I open the fridge, it’s the first thing I see.

Also, add frozen kale to your smoothies. I swear on my life you can’t taste it.

3. Get to Know Your Body

Years ago when my son was six months old, I was exhausted—bone-crushingly, can’t-keep-my-eyes-open, exhausted. Everyone told me it was because I was a new, sleep-deprived mom, even my doctor. For four months I walked around in a zombie-like state, and the simplest things left me exhausted and wanting to sleep for hours. I finally went to a clinic where they did a blood test that determined my B12 levels were extremely low. Six months of B12 shots did the trick and I’ve been fine ever since.

You know your body better than anyone else - listen to it.

Learn to understand the difference between being sore from working out and being in pain, or being tired from not sleeping and being completely exhausted. Check your body when you shower and look for lumps in your breasts, changes in moles, or anything that may seem “off.”

Your body is the most important thing you have. Take care of it.

4. Understand Your Risks For Cancer

Like you, I know many people who have had cancer. Some have survived while others have passed on, all of whom I loved. I used to think cancer was about “bad genes” and there wasn’t much I could do to control getting it. While there are some risks I can’t do anything about, there are other factors I can control.

Did you know that as many as half of all cancers in Ontario could be prevented by eliminating known risk factors. Half!

Cancer Care Ontario has created an online cancer risk assessment where you can learn your risk of getting breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer.

It only takes ten minutes to complete the My CancerIQ questionnaire (I did mine standing up at my desk) and you’ll not only learn your risk factors, you can get the information you need to help focus on specific changes you can make to lower your own cancer risk.

And I know you have ten minutes because you’re sitting here reading this, right?

5. Laugh More

When’s the last time you had a big belly laugh, the kind where you can’t breathe and tears are streaming down your face, or even just a laugh over something silly with your husband or a friend. Lack of sleep, stress, deadlines, work, your kids arguing...all of it can add up to:

As we get older we tend to laugh less. I’m no doctor but I do know the more I laugh and smile, the better I feel. Plus, laughing is calorie-free, costs no money, and is better than caffeine for an afternoon pick-me-up. And at the end of the day, I guarantee nobody ever looked back on their life and wished they had laughed less.

Now go use the Cancer Risk Assessment and then Google Will Ferrell bloopers.

It’s good for your health.