Dr. Ruth Heidrich, Ph.D
Ruth Heidrich, Ph.D. is an internationally acclaimed speaker and authority in health, nutrition, and fitness. Known as the “other Dr. Ruth”, this six-time Ironman Triathlon finisher has held age-group records in every distance from 100-meter dashes to 5K road races to ultramarathons, the pentathlon, and triathlons, including 8 golds in the Senior Olympics. She has completed more than 60 marathons all over the world, including Boston, New York, Honolulu, Moscow, and has held 3 world fitness records in her age group at the famed Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. She has also been named one of the “Top Ten Fittest Women in North America”.
She is the author of Senior Fitness, A Race For Life, an e-book, The CHEF Cook/Rawbook, and Lifelong Running, and has an “Ask Dr. Ruth” column on her website, www.RuthHeidrich.com. A graduate of UCLA, she holds a Master’s degree in Psychology and a doctorate in Health Education. She has also lectured in this field at the University of Hawaii, Stanford University, and Cornell University.
As of the year 2018, she has been vegan for 36 years and a daily runner for 50 years.
Here is her amazing story:
Cancer Caused Me To Step Out of My Comfort Zone
It’s been said that it’s harder for folks to change their diet than change their religion. Talk about comfort zones! If you, dear reader, are eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) or the more common Western diet, what follows should illustrate this quite well.
I grew up eating the SAD diet and in college studied nutrition. I was taught that we needed lots of protein with the “best” and “complete” sources being lean meat, especially chicken and fish. For strong bones, I was told that dairy products were required as the “best” source of calcium. As a result, I ate this way for the first 47 years of my life, confident that I was providing the best possible nutrition for my body. Confidence was bolstered by the fact that I’d taken up daily running fourteen years before and had worked up to running marathons. Since I was lean and fit, and, I thought, healthy, you can imagine the shock I felt when told by the surgeon that the golf-ball-sized tumor he’d just carved out of my breast was cancer — in fact, a 5 cm infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC), a moderately fast metastasizing form of breast cancer. This explained the severe bone pain I was having which not even narcotics could dull. It explained my sky-high liver enzymes.
Then they found a tumor in my right lung. This made it Stage 4! My life as I knew it had just been dumped on its ear! My burgeoning, exciting career as a fast-rising female management-type in the U. S. Air Force suddenly lost all importance to me.
Comfort zone? What comfort zone! For the next few days, I walked around numb, alternating between tears and anger at the betrayal of my body. After all, hadn’t I done everything right? When I asked my doctor why I got cancer when I was doing everything right, he said nobody knows why we get cancer. Somebody must know, I thought. I got a second opinion. When that agreed with the first, I got a third and even a fourth. All said, “We don’t know why we get cancer and, yes, yours is definitely advanced cancer.” I went to the library and checked out every single book they had on cancer and searched through them all – and still, no answers.
Since I hadn’t yet gone back to work, I happened to see an item in the local paper and the words, “breast cancer” jumped out at me. It read: “Wanted: Women with breast cancer to participate in diet-related research. Call Dr. McDougall…” with his phone number. I found myself talking to the doctor himself. I was so surprised I sputtered the words, “I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer.” I barely heard his response, “Get your medical records. I need to talk to you.”
As he was going through my records, I heard “Hmmm. Y’know, with a cholesterol of 236, you have as great a risk of dying of a heart attack as the breast cancer.” As this information sank in, I was thinking, first, breast cancer, and now, heart attack? I was stunned! Wait just a darn minute — I am running marathons, I eat a good diet, but then the thought occurred to me. I’ll show him that my diet has nothing to do with cancer and heart disease.
My next surprise came when I was told the conditions of entering the study. First, no chemotherapy or radiation because there had to be only one variable – the diet. Then came the conditions of the diet. “No meat…” I interrupted, saying I only eat chicken and fish. He explained that the muscle that moves a hoof is the same as the one that moves a wing or a fin, so, meat is gone. Going on, he said, “No dairy” I interrupted again. “Oh, I only drink instant powdered milk”, thinking that because it was so low-fat, it had to be okay. Turns out that animal protein, and dairy protein, in particular, are cancer promoters, he told me.
My comfort zone shrank further. What was I going to eat, thinking that there wasn’t much left. He and his wife, Mary, gave me all the bad/good news. I could eat all I wanted of whole grains, potatoes, yams, vegetables, and fruit. Then, another surprise, no oil – not even olive or coconut oil. More comfort zone shrinkage!
A full two hours later, I left the office full of a mixture of hope and despair. My whole dietary world was turned upside down. I was told that animal products both initiated and promoted cancer and that by eliminating these from my diet, my immune system could start doing what it should have been doing all along. He pulled open a file cabinet drawer, saying “Here are the epidemiological studies and also the results of the animal research. You are welcome to spend as much time as you want to go through these files.”
The next attack on my comfort zone came when I broke the news to my husband. His reaction was a shocker. “You’ve fallen into the hands of a quack!” I countered with “No, I’ve seen the research.” Then, scoffing, he said, “I gave you credit for having more intelligence than this.” This was really insulting because I was a graduate of UCLA, had a master’s degree, and at that time, had all but the dissertation for my Ph.D. I knew at that moment that I was going to do this but that it was going to be without his support.
A few days later I was transferred from Surgery to Oncology and met the oncologist who would be in charge next. When he talked about scheduling me for chemotherapy and radiation, I told him that my only treatment was going to be a low-fat vegan diet. I imagined what was going through his mind, probably even having to suppress some laughter as he heard what he must’ve thought was the most ridiculous treatment for advanced breast cancer he’d ever heard. He said, “Diet has nothing to do with breast cancer, and besides, you can’t possibly get enough protein without meat. And there’s no way you’ll get enough calcium for your bones without dairy.”
Back I went to Dr. McDougall who pulled out the USDA food analysis graphs showing how all my dietary needs would be met. I’d also started feeling the results of the new diet in the form of bone pain disappearing, liver enzymes normalizing, chronic constipation is gone, no more need for the prescription for my disappearing arthritis, and, a wonderful surprise, my running got faster and I took 17 minutes off my next marathon! I was totally convinced!
Then I heard about the Ironman Triathlon, a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and then you run a 26.2-mile marathon! I thought this would be a great challenge and a chance to prove that Dr. McDougall was on the right track, that if I could do the Ironman on this diet AND reverse cancer, that the whole world would soon take notice and change their diets as well.
Cancer is gone and Ironman completed. That’s when I discovered how hard it is for most people, husbands, and doctors included, to step outside their comfort zones.
I’m still waiting…
Dr. Ruth is joining us for a GLOW Heartfulness Webinar on 14th July 2018. She would answer your questions live.
Please register for the webinar here – http://webinar.heartfulness.org/webinar-registration/?id=14
In this webinar, you’ll learn how Dr. Ruth reversed a shocking diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer, changed her diet and went on to win hundreds of gold medals in races ranging from the Ironman Triathlon, dozens of marathons, to eight gold medals in the Senior Olympics. She will cover the benefits of daily exercise, how it helps the heart, lungs, muscles, bones, and even the brain. She’ll describe the ideal human diet, and how easy it can be, to implement. You’ll also learn the importance of eating a whole food, a plant-based diet which gives the body the carbohydrates it needs, the right amount of protein and fat. She will also discuss how money drives most diet decisions and how that causes the most common health threats we face today: obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and dementia.
Overview & Takeaway
- What the ideal human diet looks like and how it provides all our nutritional needs.
- How the right diet supports your goals and sets the stage for better meditation.
- Why daily exercise is important, the best time to exercise, and the best exercise to do.
- How to reverse the most common conditions causing the need to be put on medication.
- An experiential session of Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation.
We are approaching summer in my part of the world, which means prime hiking season! I hike with my two boys all year round, but I love this time of year when things are a bit less wet. We live along the Cascade Mountain Range, so there is no shortage of amazing vistas and gorgeous forests to explore. I have been hiking with my kids since they were babies, most often on my own. My sons are now elementary school age, and while some things have gotten easier over the years, some have not. Endurance and motivation are continual challenges.
All of those lovely photos on social media usually have some rough backstory moments. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so we keep at it.
Today I share some tips on planning a hike and keeping little feet moving along the path.
Choosing a Trail – It’s important to start any journey with a clear plan. Map out where you will go. Depending on where you live, there are often trail websites as well as guide books available that will tell you which are good hikes for kids and when is the best time of year to go. Take into consideration the drive as well as hike length and elevation gain. Are you considering a hike to a destination such as a waterfall or lake, or do you want a no-pressure meander in the forest? Find out if there is a bathroom at the trailhead. And if you do pick a hike with water features, have a plan for when your kids get wet, because they always do.
Safety – Once you have some ideas, make sure to check weather and trail conditions online or with the closest ranger station. Provided the trail looks good and you have any required permits, you can start gearing up. Make sure to pack the 10 essentials plus extra clothes, food, drinks, books, games, and toys for the car. If you are heading to a trail that will be near any ridge, look out, or peak, have a plan to keep little ones safe. I always liked to bring a special blanket that we called the safety mat. When we were in situations where the kids needed to stay put, I brought out the safety mat and they knew there was no leaving the blanket. You may even offer stickers or other rewards for following safety protocol. Lastly, whether you go solo with kids or with friends, have another adult who is not on the hike as your check in buddy. Let them know where you are going, when you plan to return, when you will call to check in, and where they should call if you don’t.
The Drive – Hopefully your kiddos enjoy all those goodies you packed and let you focus on the road. I always keep an eye out on the drive for fun places to stop for a meal or a treat on the way home. I keep it under wraps, but there comes a point on a longer hike when saying “let’s just get to the car, and we can go get ice cream” helps a ton.
Hiking Goals – If your kids have a concept of distance or elevation, talk to them about what you are doing. Give everyone a map if available. Or better yet, give them pencil and a little notebook and have them draw the trail with noticeable landmarks. Consider having them take photographs along the way. My kids LOVE having a camera to carry and will take tons of photos. If the kids are younger, consider picking a favorite tv or book character to pretend to be and act out an adventure on the hike. My boys loved Thomas the Tank Engine, so we’d pretend to be the engines on the narrow-gauge line up on the mountains. If your kids are older, try geocaching, because everyone loves treasure hunting.
Bribery – There is no other way to put it. I bribe my kids. If the drive is super long, they get to play extra video games in the car for being good sports and coming along. I pack treats along with all the healthy stuff. In the photo above, my boys are shown on a mountain peak. Leading up to that moment, my youngest was beginning to bonk at the site of the final climb. I let him know if he made it to the top, he could eat all the cookies before his lunch. He was thrilled, and as the photo shows, we made it. Maybe video games and cookies aren’t going to work for you, but there is something special you can do to reward all that effort.
The last piece of advice I will offer is to always know that at any time you may need to bail.
Maybe it happens on the drive or on the trail, but set a clear expectation with yourself that it will be whatever it will be, which may mean only a few feet down the path. But the more you get your kids out on the trail, the more accustomed to the work they become. And before you know it, you are on top of a mountain having the cookie party of a lifetime!
Do you explore the outdoors with your children? What tips do you have on keeping them safe and moving?
This has been an original post for World Moms Network by Tara B. Photo credit to the author.
As a wife of one and a mom of four, it seems like I am always learning and discovering! I know I am not alone. Let’s just admit it: The world is a big place, life is a lesson, and children can be the best teachers. Normally my series, Life Lessons with Mexico Mom, is hosted on Los Gringos Locos, but today I am posting here on World Moms Blog.
Here are my insights and experiences as a Mexico Mom after we climbed Parícutin volcano in Southern Mexico. I don’t have the images edited yet or I would share! Stay tuned and watch for them on my blog. In the meantime enjoy our crazy experience. (more…)
My husband’s affair began after he received some really bad news from his Doctor. These things happen. I had the proof! Crumpled receipts from fancy restaurants and out of the way cafes; unanswered calls; and worst of all, excessive gym workouts after a long day at work.
At first I was angry, and I wanted to confront him, but I thought it might be better to see how far he would go. It was easy, and I can’t think of how long I played his game. I do know that it took every fiber of my being to not lash out and demand the truth. Instead, I forced something – I don’t know what it was – back inside of me…smoothed it out and kept on going. (more…)
Last Sunday I ran my first 5K race. I still can’t believe that I actually did it – and in the tropical heat, no less. Although I have vaguely considered it a worthy goal, running an actual race wasn’t on my radar even two months ago.
It turns out that 2015 is the year of living dangerously…out of my comfort zone.
My kids often talk about being “risk-takers”. It is one of the ten traits included in the school Learner Profile and students are encouraged to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective. While these traits are all deemed equally important, being a risk-taker is a concept that seems to be especially resonant outside of school too: “I am a risk-taker: I am willing to make mistakes. I am confident and have the courage to try new things.”
For my generally confident (and fruit-averse) daughter, this might mean: “Look Mommy, I’m a risk-taker, I’m eating a mango!” My son takes a more reflective approach – acknowledging when he feels nervous about doing something and emboldening himself with his risk-taker status to eventually take the plunge. Though risk-taking will probably have a different connotation when they are older, I embrace what it means for them now – trying new things and not being afraid to make mistakes.
It’s an important lesson for grown ups, too.
In January, after three years of living in Jakarta, I was starting to feel like my daily life was becoming somewhat routine. Gym, work, grocery store, repeat. To change things up, I found myself saying YES to things that I might not usually consider.
When a friend asked if I wanted to join their early morning running group, I said YES. I knew that the group would likely be too advanced for me but figured that I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try. “What’s the worst that could happen?” I asked myself. I would walk, that’s it. I did walk some at first, but I set my own goals and improved each week. Now we’re training for a 10K.
When another friend asked if I would like to be part of their dance group for an upcoming fashion show event, I said yes to that too. Other friends and even my husband were surprised. Performing a dance routine in front of a huge crowd is WAY beyond my comfort zone, but again I thought: “Why not?” In this case I try not to think about the worst that could happen (falling off the stage comes to mind) but I’m proud of myself for doing it and am actually looking forward to the big night.
I’ve continued with the YES theme in other areas of my life and have already seen positive changes: improved health, new friendships, new possibilities. I’ve realized that pushing my boundaries in this way is also about adjusting my own perceptions of myself. “Oh, but I’m not a runner,” I would repeatedly explain, trying to somehow qualify my actions.
Well now I am a runner. And a dancer. Among many other things.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Our kids may not recognize some of the bigger risk-taking decisions we’ve made (like moving our lives halfway around the world), but it’s often the smaller actions that resonate the most.
It feels good for them to see that I can be a risk-taker too – I can be afraid sometimes and I can also be brave, just like they are.
When I walked in the door after the race, finisher’s medal around my neck, both kids jumped up from the couch with wide eyes. “Mommy!” my daughter exclaimed, “I didn’t know you would win the race!”
Not exactly…but YES! In my own way, I did.
What risks are you putting out there for yourself this year? How are you embracing these challenges?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by our mom of twins in Jakarta, Indonesia, Shaula Bellour.
The image used in this post is attributed to the author.
Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
I live in Kimberley, the diamond capital of South Africa. Kimberley is a smallish, dusty town that gets extremely hot in summer – living here sometimes requires a good sense of humour, ha! I was born and raised just a short distance from here – in Bloemfontein in Central South Africa.
What language(s) do you speak?
Our home language is Afrikaans, but I’m fluent in English as well. South Africa has 11 official languages, plus a number of unofficial ones, so I’m really far behind as far as that goes!
When did you first become a mother?
I was blessed with a beautiful, peaceful little girl at the beginning of 2012 at the age of 34. My son, a busy, happy little guy, was born 22 months later at the end of 2013. It’s been an overwhelming, busy and blessed two-and-a-half years – what an amazing adventure!
Is your work: stay-at-home mom, other work at home or do you work outside the home?
I’m in the very privileged position to work from home as an ecologist. I feel extremely blessed to be able to be here for my kids all day (we have a nanny who looks after them while I work) and be able to do a job that I love.
Why do you blog/write?
Writing is my passion – I love, love, love it! Combining writing with my other passions, namely my kids, running and healthy living, is pure bliss.
How would you say that you are different from other mothers?
I’m quite a health nut! At the age of two-and-a-half my daughter has never seen or tasted something like a soda and very rarely eats junk food – we just don’t keep it in our house. She and her brother both love fruits and veggies – perhaps because it’s all they know? I also love running with both kids in our double jogging stroller – it’s one of our favourite things to do!
What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?
There are so many! Keeping them safe in a country known for its high crime rate; teaching them to value and accept themselves in a society where pressure is immense to be and look a certain way; teaching them to respect others in a world where respect for others is on the decline; teaching them to be active and take care of their bodies in a world where technology makes everything so easy… The list goes on and on. Only by grace!
How did you find World Moms Blog?
I love reading about other mothers’ experiences on this crazy adventure called motherhood. An online search led me to World Moms Blogs, where I’ve found so many inspirational stories about moms from all over the globe – I love it!
This is an original, interview post for World Moms Blog from our new writer in South Africa and mum of 2, Karien Potgieter. You can read more about Karien’s running adventures through life at her personal blog: Running the Race