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.
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
Last year, on a whim
, I decided to join the NYC chapter of Moms in Training. I came across it at a time when I was looking for somewhere to volunteer. This was a no-brainer…. get some exercise, meet new moms, help cancer patients and be a good role model for my children. Perfect!
This was before Moms in Training went national with 30 cities across the US and Canada. This was before there was a Moms in Training Leadership Committee, which is made up 100% of moms who thought so much about the program that they decided to volunteer whatever spare time they had to this great organization. This was before I met Lucy, Alex’s mom who writes about her journey on Alex Fights Leukemia
Alex was 15 months when she was diagnosed with leukemia and has been such a brave little girl. She hasn’t known life in any other way than in and out of hospitals. Alex has become our local heroine, and my first race was dedicated to her recovery. She still has a way to go, but last time I saw Lucy she gave me the great news that Alex has the green light to start attending mommy and me classes, and interacting with other children.
Imagine not being able to take your child to the supermarket, or a playground for fear of germs. Imagine sitting by your baby’s bedside in the hospital for days and weeks at a time, over and over again. Imagine holding your baby in your arms while she receives anesthesia, and walking your sleeping infant into the operating room for yet another surgery. No mother should ever have to go through this.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) was one of the first organizations to invest in Dr. Carl June’s research when everyone else deemed his research to be too risky and unconventional. Treating leukemia patients with a strand of HIV virus? The results are astonishing. LLS has invested $30 million in Dr. June’s research since 1990 and continues to invest in cut-throat ground breaking research like his (I highly recommend you watch this video
to find out what he’s done – it’s amazing!).
The survival rate for childhood leukemia in 1949, was zero, while today it is 90 percent. To date, Moms in Training have raised over $500,000, 95% of which goes straight to the cause, either towards helping patients or medical research. Most of LLS’s medical findings are tested and eventually rolled out to fight other types of cancers as well. I have been so overly impressed by the organization, I can’t even put it into words.
Now I am about to embark onto my third season with Moms in Training. I have met new neighbors, made friends, and lost some of my baby weight (I still have a bit to go – but it’s getting better every day :)!) I ran 2 races already, which I never would have thought possible a year ago. I have joined the leadership committee and am trying to recruit new moms to join our growing little family, because no mother should watch her child suffer.
Would you like to learn more about LLS? Are you interested in finding out if there is a Moms In Training team in your area, or maybe even starting your own team? Do you live in NYC and would you like to join our team? Go to or you can ask me directly in the comments! Would you like to support me in my next race (coming up in June)?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Maman Aya.
Photo credit to the author.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer.
My bookshelves were bursting with myths and legends, tales of epic journeys and magical enchantments and warriors and warlocks and princesses; talking animals and terrifying villains. I read many of them over and over and would always think, when I closed the covers, how wonderful the author must have felt to have created such a thing.
I started writing my own stories, on sheets of rough paper, taped or stapled together. I would write the title first, then the author – me – beneath, then carefully index the chapters, number the pages and sometimes, if feeling really enthusiastic about the content, provide rave reviews for the back. I showed my parents, my friends, my teachers. People nodded and smiled.
I grew up, and kept writing. I studied English and French literature, and kept writing. I studied journalism, and kept writing. I got a proper job, and kept writing. Then I had a daughter, and stopped for a while. When I came back to it, I wrote furiously for several months, then realised the embarrassingly semi-autobiographical nature of the novel I had crafted, and put it aside. I got married, and got divorced, and had another child, and got married again.
There wasn’t very much time for writing, let alone for cudgeling my exhausted brain into thinking of something interesting to say.
Then my elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. It had taken us years to find out what it was that was ‘off’ – what the teachers saw, and wondered about, and what her peers saw, and walked away from, and what I saw, and thought was just my eccentrically lovable child. Finding out that my daughter had autism was like discovering she had been living behind glass for 8 years and that I had been oblivious to the sound of her banging her fists on it.
We were sent off with a label, and little support. Grace started to be bullied at school as she grew older and her differences became more apparent and other children were drawn to her weirdness and capacity for combustion when they pressed her buttons. They found all her buttons.
Grace spent a lot of time crying. I spent a lot of time crying. We both felt very alone.
Then one day on the way to work, I pulled out my notebook and emptied the thoughts in my head onto the pale blue lines. I scribbled and scribbled, oblivious to the other commuters, thinking that if I wrote everything down then I might be able to make sense of it. I came home and said to Grace: “Shall we write about what’s happening to us?” And Grace said: “Yes. Please tell them what it’s like.”
So I wrote. I wrote a blog and called it Grace Under Pressure. I wrote about how it feels to be the parent of a child with autism. I wrote about the things I was learning and about how much I realised I still had to learn. I wrote about Grace’s marathon attempts to fit in and understand her own limitations and learn to cope with the limitations of classmates who had no sympathy or understanding. I wrote about running a marathon myself in order to raise awareness among those who had no sympathy or understanding of autism.
People started reading the blog. Then more people read it, and more. Eventually, someone said: “You know, you should really think about making this into a book.” A publisher called Little, Brown agreed.
My book is not the book I ever thought I would write. But it is the kind of book that I used to read. It is the tale of an epic journey, and a magical enchantment, and a courageous princess. I am very proud of the princess, and I am grateful to her every day for letting me tell her story and for taking me with her on the adventure that changed our lives.
Grace Under Pressure: A Girl with Asperger’s and her Marathon Mom, by Sophie Walker, is published in the United States by New World Library, and in the UK by Little, Brown (Piatkus).
**Enter to win a free copy of Grace Under Pressure! Comment on this post for a chance to win — we will be choosing a winner on Friday, December 13th! **
This is an original post by our writer in the UK, Sophie Walker.
The image in this post is credited to the author.
In early April I decided to step way outside my comfort zone and do something that I never thought I would do. I decided to run a race! I told you about my decision to run this 10K when I first wrote about it. It turned out to be a harder goal than I thought! Every Saturday morning, the Moms In Training team met in various parks around the city.
My group met in Madison Square Park with an amazing trainer, Meri of Mommy and Me Fitness, who had an hour-long workout prepared for us. We walked, jogged, ran circles in the park. We did squats, lunges, planks, jumping jacks, push-ups and other concoctions that she would throw at us. We worked hard, and had fun while doing it!
Lindsey, a fellow Mom In Training, described the way I felt very well when she wrote about her experience with Moms In Training, “Somehow I left my comfort zone behind and decided to join. With the help of a wonderful trainer, Meri, and the support of the other moms, I trained for the 10K. On the day of the 10K, I was joined by another mom who stuck with me through the entire race and definitely kept me running WAY longer than I thought I would or could.” (more…)