It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in touch, so with the help of my dear friend and book editor Jan Henrikson, I want to give you a health update and preview of what I’ve been working on for you during my time away.
Only today did I realize that I’d not updated my whole community about the chain of events that began in July of 2014. That seems like such a long time ago! I apologize for my delay in being in touch.
The reason Jan is helping me with this update is because some of the health issues I became aware of that summer have been the source of significant disruption and difficulty in my cognitive functioning – especially around writing. At the same time there’s been a tremendous increase in presence and creative energy resulting in new simple, powerful teachings and tools that I am bursting at the seams to share with you.
Together Jan and I came up with a creative way to honor my current writing limitations, give you an update, and share some inspiration for your soul’s blossoming this spring.
The video will take over from here. Simply click the video below to play.
The sound quality degenerates in a couple of places. We did improve the quality in editing but if you still can’t hear me due to the background noise and you can’t pretend it’s ocean waves in the background 😉 – thank to Jan – here’s the transcript. She edited it for readability.
Rebecca (and Jan)
Hi, it’s Dr. Rebecca Ocean here with my very dear friend and writing editor, Jan Henrikson, to share an update with you by video. She’s going to help me flesh out what’s been happening since the last time I’ve communicated with everybody.
J: So what has been happening?
R: Well, a lot. Unfortunately, not all terribly wonderful. Ultimately all good. The last time I messaged everybody was back in July 2014. I cannot believe it’s been that long. Things actually started going a little wacky even before that. In October 2013 I was not feeling well. I had all these strange symptoms that appeared out of nowhere. One of the most distressing, considering all the years I’ve kept 150 pounds off—20 years now—I gained 30 pounds in about 3 months out of the blue, for no apparent reason.
In addition to that, my digestion slowed down to a crawl. I was exhausted. I wanted to sleep most of the day. I just experienced a whole range of symptoms. It was so frustrating. I went to my regular doctor who was approaching it in the way she does, but we weren’t getting anywhere so eventually I found another doctor.
We were going through some initial testing when my best friend from college, Cathy Allen, was diagnosed with very fast growing brain cancer. As I always do with health things, I did a bunch of research on her specific kind of cancer to support her, her fiancé and her family. I discovered St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix was doing clinical trials on traditional treatment of brain cancer but they also included a ketogenic diet. [There’s a call for more research in this area. Ketogenic diets seemed to support the reduction of the growth of the cancer. [Ketogenic diets are very low in carbohydrate and prompt the body to shift to using ketones for fuel instead of glucose – the premise being that certain cancers may not be able to use ketones for fuel as readily as glucose which could starve tumors of their fuel source]. I asked her if she’d be willing to try the ketogenic diet to complement the radiation and chemotherapy the doctors were recommending. She said yeah. This was a dire situation. So I started cooking for her. It was such a crazy time. I wasn’t feeling that well and was just trying to make things as easy and pleasurable for her as possible.
She and I were diet buddies back in our early time together. We would go on and off diets together. I went on a medically supervised fast in a university research program and was having great success and she joined me. We both lost a huge amount of weight and then we both gained it back. I went in the direction of doing my doctoral research on the process of permanently healing obesity from a comprehensive perspective. I wanted to understand: why is it so difficult, even if you can lose weight, to keep it off for life? She, of course, knew I was developing programs and sharing what I was learning with students. It’s possible she saw I was eating differently and she felt she couldn’t eat that way because it was so different than how she was eating and may have appeared depriving. It didn’t feel that way to me. It was pleasurable on all levels. I not only felt the pleasure of what I was eating but I also felt the pleasure of feeling good in my body. I invited her to join me but I don’t think she was really interested.
During her treatment when she was open to finding out if this would work for her body, I was so excited and grateful to be able to share what I’d learned over these twenty years. I cooked every meal with things I knew she would like that were very low in carbohydrate so the cancer wouldn’t have that sugar as fuel for growth.
I made her homemade breads and pasta dishes and hamburgers with buns and dressings she would like, so she wouldn’t feel deprived. So she could have the experience of taking really good care of her body even in this terribly difficult situation and still find pleasure in eating and food. She was one of those people that found so much pleasure in life. I knew she wouldn’t be happy if she wasn’t enjoying her food. Very shortly into it, she was very excited at how delicious everything was. She said, “I’d like to do this as business together when I get better.”
I was so thrilled because we’d done so much work together during college—ok we threw a lot of parties—ha!—-but we also did some serious things too. We were good friends and always had a good time. I thought, “This is wonderful. I’m so excited we’ll be able to do this together.” Unfortunately this didn’t come to pass. In October 2014, she went for a followup appointment to see how the ketogenic diet, chemotherapy and radiation were working.
The doctor visit was very exciting. The brain tumor had gone from the size of the palm of one’s hand to the size of a thumbnail so the treatment was successful. We were all very excited and ready to celebrate. As can happen, there was a shocking turn of events. Within a couple of days she was in the hospital with sepsis and ended up dying.
In honor of her and in her memory—what that time with her inspired in me—was to offer people more on that practical level of cooking and eating. I’m much more involved in creating recipes and fine-tuning meal plans. There’s been a tremendous amount of joy in it. I’ve always loved to cook since I was a kid. But the inspiration has been continuous since then. Even when other things have been going on.
J: What are some of the things that have been going on in your life?
R: It’s been quite a time. About the same time Cathy passed, my test results came back. It was good to finally have some answers. They found I had a significant amount of mold in my system, that I was CDC positive for Lyme and also had a couple of other viruses. I ended up finding a specialist who was wonderful. His name is Sunjya Schweig. He’s in a practice with Chris Kresser in the Bay Area, called the California Center for Functional Medicine. He’s wonderful, very familiar with Lyme disease and very close to the cutting edge of understanding it. His wife had Lyme disease and another one of his relatives. He has been a tremendous support. He has the experience and knowledge to do some additional testing. I became so sensitive to certain foods I could hardly eat anything. He discovered I have SIBO which is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and parasites. He was very pragmatic about addressing things in a particular order so that when we eventually got to the Lyme treatment it would be the most effective. My body could only take so much at a time. I was just exhausted. It started to affect my cognition, my mental functioning in very significant ways.
To this day I have difficulty writing which is why we’re doing this together in video format. I’m able to write but it’s much much slower. I do everything much slower. It’s been a tremendous learning experience for me. I continue to heal. Things continue to move in absolutely an optimizing direction in all ways. At some point I’ll probably do a video specifically on the medical stuff because I know there are a lot of people that deal with this the same way I had—going from doctor to doctor, trying to find somebody. I’ll do more with that in a separate video for people who want that information.
Cathy’s passing was such a wake up call. She really enjoyed her life and I had been much more focused on work. I really took a look at where that came from in me. How that was not serving me. How the symptoms of my illness were pointing to things I needed to understand about my own conditioning and some of the unhealthy patterns that were still operating under the issues with food and weight.
I delved deeply into all these areas as I do with my clients. I’m not a medical doctor. But I’m an advocate for my clients with their doctors concerning the physical aspects they’re dealing with whether it’s weight or diabetes, or chronic pain or cancer or whatever is happening in the body. Symptoms can be symbols to show us what’s trying to be understood in the soul. I work with people with all types of conditions happening in the body. We also look at the emotional, mental, social, creative and spiritual aspects—the whole gamut—to really see what the body may be trying to reveal.
Ultimately, it’s a blessing. Ultimately what we learn when we look inward is a blessing.
During this time I put a lot more energy into my own self-care, into my own process. I was still working with clients that sought me out. Gratefully, I was able to continue with them.
I started spending much more time following what was really inspiring and pleasurable. There was this huge creative energy that came through, beginning with my time with Cathy. It developed into the new program that I call Finding your Flow with Food™. It’s designed to be the essential companion for making any healthy way of eating work for someone. If somebody already knows: ‘I feel so much better when I don’t eat processed food. I just can’t get myself to stop eating it’—-this can support them in creating flow with a way of eating that is pleasurable and enjoyable in terms of the eating process and in how one feels about it so there’s not this sacrifice and compromise. Often people feel like ‘I’ll feel so deprived because I don’t have all these things I’m used to eating that are pleasurable and bring up positive feelings because of what I associate them with—-my friend or grandmother or being on vacation.’ We compromise the physical pleasure on the taste level for the physical pleasure of being able to move freely, have a lot of energy in our bodies, and be symptom-free. What this program helps people do is know they don’t have to make that trade-off. We can have pleasurable eating and feel good in our bodies in a way that has a sense of flow and is permanent.
Because of my limitations cognitively, I was also inspired to make this program as simple and super accessible and as clear as possible. It can be incorporated into someone’s life in a way that is doable and sustainable. Since I began this work, it’s always been about people making this change in way that is pleasurable, practical and permanent. The three P’s.
We’re also going to be doing some free videos exploring the program basics so people can begin to shift their way of relating with their bodies and food and process of eating. So often there’s a struggle: ‘I have to force myself to do eat in a way I don’t really enjoy or feels to hard and then naturally I can only do it for a certain amount of time and then I go back.’ What this program helps them do is create a kind of alignment within themselves. Over time they learn they can experience both the pleasure of eating and health in their bodies in a natural, authentic way.
In the meantime if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to wait until the videos come out, email me or call me. I continue to work with people privately, individually. We’ll have a more official program we’ll be sharing later on in the Spring. For those who don’t yet know the ways of eating that feel attuned and right and true in their body, we also have a component in Finding your Flow, called the Awakening Cleanse —-helps people wake up to the foods that are optimal for their bodies – meaning foods that they enjoy that don’t exacerbate health issues or produce uncomfortable or damaging symptoms. So they create a pleasurable lifestyle and way of eating that allows them to rest at their optimal weight and be symptom-free.
I just wanted to take a little time to update people and share what’s coming and what’s been happening and start engaging with this wonderful community we have here in virtual space.