April 22, 2009
I was raised by parents who were both scared (and scarred) by the Great Depression. My father was the only son of an Ohio farmer who died when he was 17, leaving my dad as the man of the house and man of the farm. My mother was the youngest of a family of eight kids and her father died when she was a baby, leaving my Grandma a widow, to raise and feed, if you can imagine, eight children from the age of 18 years to 18 months, (without Costco!) and amidst the Depression. Both of my parents grew up poor although I never heard them describe it that way. My parents’ childhood activities, to my teenage kids, sound prehistoric. I might as well mention dinosaurs when I talk about how my Dad baled hay, milked cows and tended the hen house and how he spent the 3 hours before and after school, not playing soccer or X-Box, but doing farm chores. As I read that back to myself, it sounds prehistoric to me! My dad really did walk 3 miles to school, as annoying as that was to hear all throughout my own childhood. My mother still talks of homeless people she called hobos, who’d come to their backdoor with their hat in hand and ask for something to eat. Grandma Wilson would leave a sandwich or whatever she could skim from the already limited kitchen supplies for them to eat on the back porch swing. The JC Penney catalog was “recycled”- in the outhouse- in ways I’m sure Mr. Penney never intended and I still remember Grandma eating the core of the apple (!) and preferring the heel of the bread loaf, although I now suspect that she’d eaten the heel, the wing, the burnt piece, for so many decades that it was a reflexive choice. My mother was way ahead of her time when it came to not wasting ANYthing. She was the world’s best recycler before the word “recycle” had ever been invented. Along with my four siblings, I remember that Mom could never throw out an aluminum pie tin (the cupboards avalanched them if you opened a door too fast). She rinsed out baggies for re-use and even folded up gently used tinfoil if it appeared to have some life left. Leftovers were progressively re-served at each meal and stored in smaller and smaller containers even if there were only two bites left. To this day in a restaurant, Mom will ask the waiter for a doggie bag and often has to point to the small bites of left-over food to prove to the waiter there’s actually something on the plate worth taking home; “Here! Wrap up this one bite, here!” Cake batter bowls were barely worth licking after my mother scraped it bare.
Waste was a sin in my parent’s book and this was a permanent part of their psyche as unchangeable as their skin color.
Throughout my 20’s and 30’s, I made a point of what I now recognize as “uncycling”, simply because I’d had enough of my parents’ conservative lifestyle. What for them was a survival mode now appeared to my generation as cheapskate. I never took so much as a sweet-n-low packet from a restaurant (unlike Mom, God bless her) not to mention that doggie bags embarrassed me too much to ask for one.
No tinfoil, bag or baggie survived more than one use in my kitchen and I was proud of it. My not needing to scrimp and save felt better to me and seemed a symbol of my financial stability. The world offered me more, often more than I needed and I greedily (or so it seems now) took it, used it, pitched it.
Fast forward ten years. Our eyes have been opened- Thank you Mr. Gore-and we now know that there are not only Earth-friendly reasons to re-use and use less, but also the recent economic climate has given us more down-to-Earth reasons to spend less and save more. Recycling, either with or without a Depression, is vital. And isn’t it a testament to our (my) human capacity to mentally adapt that we (I) can change our (my) perspective 360 degrees on the subject of recycling. That someone like me can change my thinking in ways I’d never imagined possible- to think like my MOM! -That’s radical! It is encouraging for all humankind.
I chuckle to myself to think that my 20 year old self would be mortified that I now have a corner beside my dryer (same spot as Mom)that is stuffed with more plastic bags than I can use in a decade. I rinse out the bottom of the Tide detergent bottle to get one more load. I scold my kids to take shorter showers. I ask for doggie bags. And I eat the heel. I channel my mother on a regular basis as I refold, re-use and refill. I have to say this: Mom, you were right, even if you weren’t doing it to save the planet. I guess that’s what we call wisdom.
April 20, 2009
This is what my last few weeks have looked like; I won an Emmy. Battled a brush with death in my kitchen with my beloved George Foreman Grill, despite the fact that my two geriatric fire extinguishers refused to ex-ting. Grounded my son. Met Dr. Oz.
Lost my new phone. Found my new phone. Bounced a check. Found a $100 bill. Scored 4 for 4 with family April Fool’s pranks. Waited in line all night at Buffalo Wild Wings Grand Opening so my son could win a year’s worth of free wings. Won a year’s worth of free wings. Realized the extreme insanity of waiting in line all night in order to spend the next 52 Friday nights at Buffalo Wild Wings. Got $20 in extra bucks on my CVS receipt. Texted my friend and hit send the moment I realized he was sitting two tables away at Starbucks. Washed seven loads of laundry on the first sunny Saturday of the season. Saw three Broadway plays, compliments of my Emmy goodie bag, which also held a netty pot, a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup but no partridge in a pear tree. Peeled 14 potatoes in ten minutes (my previous best time has never been more than one potato per minute, yay me). Burnt my hand (dinner seems to come around every friggin night). Stepped on a pop top, blew out my flip-flop, cut my heel had to cruise on back home. <silence>
Okay, the part about the pop top was an exaggeration but the rest, I swear, is true. Whether I was in sync with the universe or out of sync, my recent past has been filled with high and low moments of grace. Life truly is a highway and it is easy to cruise straight ahead if there are no pot holes to avoid but, just like a driving overcorrection, once you start swerving, it sometimes takes a few miles to get back on the blacktop.
What does this have to do with fitness? Fitness is what keeps me sane when my life starts swerving from one gutter rail to the other. That and God’s grace.
Give me 30 minutes of vigorous movement during which I can quiet the yammering hyenas in my head and I can deal. Without this, without the mental clarity that exercise provides for me, I am not a very nice person, to drive in front of or sleep beside.
Even on days when the coffee kicks in and life is percolating along smoothly, my workout releases me from the grip of “not enoughness” that wakes up with me each morning. Say I’ve had a few too many consecutive nights of ice cream and find myself tugging at my lycra waistband in discomfort. Even if my bloat doesn’t vanish after I exercise, those bloated thoughts do. So I can concentrate on things that really matter. Like what to buy at CVS with my 20 Extra Bucks.
April 7, 2009
If you’ve seen any of the adds on Facebook or Google for the acai berry you probably think it is the latest version A snake oil. I would too if I didn’t know so much about the acai berry already. The real reason there is so much marketing
hype and the real reason it seems like a fake fad is because, even though it is not a miracle berry and will not cure all that ails you, it is an extremely powerful source of antioxidants and one of the
most nutritious fruits on this planet.
Why are antioxidants such a big friggin’ deal? To name a few, antioxidants help maintain good cholesterol (HDL) and therefore they fight heart disease. Essential fatty acids and antioxidants in the acai berry help
fight bad cholesterol (LDL) while at the same time maintaining the good. This helps fight heart disease. Essential fatty acids also help in the absorbency of necessary vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E, and K.
The acai berry can also improve your vision in a roundabout way. It contains a kind of antioxidant called
anthocyanins, which are known to improve vision. During World War II, British pilots ate large amounts of bilberry (which also contains anthocyanins) as they said it improved their night vision.
Also, even though the acai berry is red it is a way for you to go green and support the Rainforest. Before the recent demand for acai berries,
local farmers used to harvest the entire acai tree for palm hearts to use in fancy salads. Luckily, now that the acai berry is becoming more sought after, the natives are paid more to harvest acai berries. This means that Brazilains now want to protect the trees instead of cutting them down.
In addition, the acai berry contains amino acids that relax your muscles and allow for better, more restful sleep. It also contains Vitamin B which
helps to regulate the dopamine and serotonin production in the brain. These are both
neurotransmitters that improve sleep,
To Brazilians, the acai berry is
Locally known as an effective anti-bacterial and anti-viral
agent. To us this means it helps our body fight diseases and boosts our immune system. This is due to the Amazon having some of the richest soil in the world.
So it is no surprise that the acai berry is packed with natural minerals and nutrients that bolster immunity.
Brazilians are some of the most active people in the world. It is not surprising that their high energy and stamina might be connected their diet which is chock full of acai. They also mix it with Guarana, a food derivative found naturally in Brazil that is a potent stimulant, so much so that it is not approved by the FDA, even though it is found in nature.
The internet is full of false claims about acai being a fat burner. Musch of this is based on the truth that this berry’s natural combination of antioxidants, essential
fatty acids, amino acids, phytosterols, and amino acids DO work together in a potent way. This helps your body function better, process food easier,
and burn fat more efficiently.
I chuckled to read about Matt Laurer’s recent trip to the Amazon. He was amused to find that the acai drink he had just finished is referred to as Amazon Rainforest Viagra! Locals swear acai has libido enhancing qualities. Combine those qualities with
the increase in energy, stamina, and better overall body
function and it’s understandable why the acai berry is compared to that Viagra.
There has also been some recent scientific studies on the cellular level (meaning not in the human body, so reaction to this is cautious but still). These studies suggest that the acai berry may fight cancer cells by causing them to self destruct. More studies in the human body are being done right now.
To me, the most exciting benefit of regularly drinking acai juice is it’s effect on the aging process. Free radicals, which are on-the-loose molecules that attack the healthy cells in your body and damage your DNA. Free radicals are the culprits of many age related issues
such as inflammation, cancer, arthritis, , atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s. The antioxidants that I mentioned early are the cellular heroes that come in and stabilize free radicals and the acai berry is absolutely loaded with antioxidants. If you are familiar with the ORAC scale which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, this is a method of measuring antioxidant capacities of different foods. The acai berry is off the charts with an ORAC rating higher than blueberries, the former queen of antioxidants.
April 6, 2009
How many times have we heard the embarrassing story of a child in a store pointing and blurting out “Mommy, why’s that lady so fat?” Or how about the teenage girls who snicker when another heavier girl walks by in the cafeteria? Or are you one of those moms who looks in the bathroom mirror, grabs her own thighs in disgust or even in a joking manner and says to all within earshot “Look at these fat thighs!”?
Here are 6 quick tips if you want your children to get that way:
1. You act disgusted, using your physical reactions every time you finish an interaction with someone obese. No need to use words. Your kids can pick up your shudder or an eye roll. The message is clear.
“Fat people make my parents feel uncomfortable, therefore
fat people are bad.”
2. You negatively comment on the people on TV shows like The Biggest Loser or while leafing through People magazine. Or you whisper to a friend over coffee how so-and-so has let herself go and is as big as a house! No need to say it too loud. Little ears hear everything!
3. Laugh or agree when your child cracks a fat joke. Or better yet, add your own fat humor. If you laugh, it will tell your child that it’s OK to say demeaning things about obese people.
Or even if you say nothing, it can have the same effect.
4. Brew up some stereotyping as well as sizeism by discriminating. Don’t let heavier kids do things like jump on a trampoline or have second helpings when their thinner siblings can have all they want.
5. Moms, this one’s important. Show your kids that big is bad in the way that you accept yourself. Joke
with your family about needing to
lipo your huge gut. While driving the carpool look in the rearview mirror and bash
your double chin or swear loudly when your skinny jeans don’t fit. This really works. If we don’t accept what makes us who we are, then we can’t expect our kids to
accept themselves. This way, us moms can teach
children to reject features in themselves as well as
6. Surround your children with sizeist
people who make statements riddled with prejudice. No faster way to influence kids than with family and peers. Grandpas sometimes fill the bill here. Your kids have a better chance of adopting similar prejudices and if Grandpa says it then it must be okay for them too.
You can start to watch your actions and your reactions and teach them tolerance rather than fostering hate and prejudice. Although this is much harder than 6 quick tips.
April 3, 2009
The biggest drop-out rate for newbie exercisers is in the first few weeks of an exercise program. In the trickle-down theory, this is directly related to that horrible feeling most everyone gets in the first six to eight minutes of exercise. This “ugh” feeling is why people don’t keep at it. They never get past feeling awful. And the less they exercise the more awful they feel in these introductory moments.
This is founded in basic physiology. Here’s the Science as I understand it.
In order for you to produce energy aerobically (meaning in order to work hard) your moving muscles must consume oxygen.
When you take those first few steps of a jog, your body still doesn’t get it and is still pulling in only enough oxygen to do what you were doing five minutes ago when you were sitting at the kitchen table lacing up your shoes.
This phase, which I call the UGH phase, is officially called oxygen uptake.
This phase lasts about six to eight minutes. During the UGH phase, your amazing cardiovascular system recalibrates to meet the increased demand on your system. It is often bearable, especially if you are a regular exerciser. Exer-veterans may not even notice this time frame. But for exer-virgins,often it is horrible.
Think of it this way. Your body is a restaurant. A good restaurant. It’s 6:45pm on a Saturday evening and all the tables are empty but the pantry is stocked, the tables are set and the waiters are here but they’re out back taking a smoke break. Suddenly the evening rush of people arrives, seemingly all at once. They are sitting at the tables. Until the servers can actually stub out their smokes and get back to work, there’s some lag time but once these guys get moving, they can handle six 4 tops and an 8 top all evening long (or at least I could as the kick-ass waitress that I once was, all through college.) Once they get up to pace, that is.
It’s during these few crucial minutes that exercise-haters drop out (or some diners turn around at the hostess stand and go elsewhere.) SImilarly, the exer-haters turn around and go home, never reaching the next, less awful phase which is officially known as steady state. This is the physiological equivalent of a muscular “aha” moment. The wait staff is cranking.
Established athletes can always grunt out the first few minutes of exercise because they know it will get easier as they continue. Regular diners can wait more patiently if they know good food and good service is on it’s way. The bodily ease comes because your body is matching the demands you are making on it with a bigger oxygen supply.
So the bottom line is to stay with it at and within ten minutes, you will be less miserable and your workout will be more worthwhile. And you don’t even need to leave a tip.