Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Merry Christmas!

Crazy week, and no time to post really, but I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

…stay tuned for new Goal Setting post!

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Top Words

I love how Facebook has all those end of the year applications that create collages or lists of your status updates, photos, etc. from the year.  When I used “Top Words” this morning, my top 3 words were:

  1. Happy
  2. Really
  3. Gym

Not so bad.  🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so grateful for every blessing in my life this year, and look forward to the upcoming holiday season!  I wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving with lots of love, laughter, and delicious food!

Did You See This?

I follow several different blogs, especially in fitness and nutrition, and I was somewhat shocked (and a little disappointed) to see this article, “America:  A Big, Fat, Stupid Nation” linked in a couple different blogs.  I should be clear, though, that I wasn’t disappointed that the article was linked, but that there is enough evidence to support an article like this.  In it, the author (Justin Stoneman) quotes several different research studies about the effect obesity is having on American society.  He credits the ADA recommendations to eat more carbs and less fat with the expansion of our collective waistlines, and mentions the scary prediction that by 2010, 75% of Americans will be considered overweight or obese.  Yikes.

Stoneman continues by quoting Einstein:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

This, according to Stoneman, is the prevailing problem with America’s food/obesity/sedentary lifestyle issues.  It seems that there is an element of pride around food – we all want to be “free” to make our own food choices.  No one wants to be a “slave” to calorie counting, or to give up precious TV time to hit the gym.  We deserve to relax, right?  But are we really FREE as we continue to gain weight and lose mobility, health, vitality, and so many other things that make life exciting?  Yet, this is the mindset shared by many Americans as they (we?) struggle to lose weight.  Everyone wants to be a bit slimmer, but no one wants to do the work to get there.  And there are a LOT of excuses – believe me, I know!

Stoneman takes this a step further with some insight into corporate America, the food industry, and the DIET industry and concludes that “an unhealthy America is, perversely, a very profitable America.”  Yikes again…  Check out this quote from the article:

“If I own a sock company, I need people with feet to maintain my business. Similarly, if I own a diet company (total combined U.S. industry value: est. $45-$100 billion), I need fat people. Luckily for the diet industry, the even more powerful food industry (estimated value: astronomical — U.S. food-based retailing alone >$1,200 billion) make their main profits from cheap processed foods. Foods which make people fat.”

So basically, our food industry is stocking our grocery stores full of crappy processed foods.  We eat them, and gain weight.  We then turn to the diet industry to help us lose the weight.  That can’t be right – where’s the impartial government regulation?  Oh wait – turns out that the American Dietetic Association is SPONSORED by food manufacturers.  The ADA is the primary (and one of the only) sources of dietary advice in this country.  More info from the article:

“With that in mind, who precisely is ‘sponsoring’ the ADA and the nutritional advice you receive?

My friends, it is a beautiful army. Partners (recent and current — and their latest annual revenue figures):

Coca Cola (revenue $31.4 billion), GlaxoSmithKline (revenue $42.5 billion), Hershey’s (revenue $5.3 billion), Unilever (revenue $55.8 billion), Aramark (revenue: $12.3 billion). There are even some ‘premier sponsors’: Mars (revenue: $30 billion), PepsiCo (revenue $44.3 billion), Truvia sweetener (revenue of parent company Cargill: $116.6 billion), Kellogg’s ($12.7 billion).
ADA ‘sponsors’ have combined revenues of over $400 billion.”

Oh boy.  Sounds like there are a lot of cooks in our government’s kitchen (big surprise, right?), and they all stand to profit from “official” guidelines.

 

So what do we do on an individual level?  Stoneman says:

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Spot the devil. Uncover the scientific facts about fat and carbohydrates. Stand up for the truth. Or stay big, stay fat and stay stupid.”

And I agree.  We need to be aware that there is bias in almost all advice.  We need to remember to eat good, wholesome foods.  One of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules is to avoid eating any foods that our grandparents wouldn’t recognize as “food.”  We need to increase our vegetable intake, too.  These are basic things – common sense – that could go a long way in helping people live healthier lives.

 

On a personal note, looking at the graphs and reading the statistics in the article scared the hell out of me.  Some of it is a bit alarmist (most journalistic health articles have some element of that anyway), but you don’t need to look far to see people making unhealthy choices and either feeling entitled to do so, or claiming it’s their only option.  One good decision leads to another, and I am going to continue to focus on that as I work on improving my own health.

A Weekend Adventure

Life has been tough lately.  I know things will get better, and I know I’m doing everything I can to improve my situation, but still…

I have always found travel incredibly restorative.  While exotic trips across the world aren’t realistic financially right now, little mini-vacations are definitely in the budget!  On Saturday afternoon, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed and a bit crispy (I’m not a fan of the term “burning out”), so I did a little research and convinced Jeb that we just NEEDED to go to Vermont!

This is prime “leaf-peeping” season in the Green Mountain State, so we had an enjoyable ride north before we hit our destination.  Traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected, and along the way,  we listened to “The Four-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss.

The Ben and Jerry’s Factory

We definitely underestimated the popularity of the Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour!  After wandering around a bit, we pushed through the crowd to buy our tickets.  Unfortunately, tickets were SOLD OUT for another TWO HOURS (that’s the next four tours).  We didn’t want to wait and essentially hold our entire day hostage for a free ice cream sample, so we decided to skip the tour this time.  I am a HUGE fan of Ben and Jerry’s products (who isn’t??), but we opted to wait and I left the factory without even a taste of ice cream!  How’s that for progress??

 

Magic Hat

I’m not a big drinker, but it’s no secret that I prefer microbrew and/or “craft” beers to anything that is produced in much larger quantities.  Our next stop was the Magic Hat Brewery in Burlington, VT.  We took a short tour and were able to sample some of their more unique varieties, like Green Apple and Wacko (which is made with beet juice!).  You can find descriptions of some of their other unique varieties here. One of my favorite parts of the tour was learning about some of Magic Hat’s “green” initiatives.  They consistently strive to find new ways to avoid waste and overall be more environmentally conscious.  While Magic Hat is not my favorite brand, knowing this motivates me to want to purchase it more often!

 

Vermont Teddy Bear Factory

Something tells me that this was NOT Jeb’s favorite part of our day.  We were able to tour the factory and check out some of the high-quality, extremely cute products!  After a lengthy search, Jeb and I also decided to buy a Hero bear for Talia.  Every time a Hero Bear is purchased, the Vermont Teddy Bear company donates a matching bear to EMS personnel for pediatric emergencies.  From my experiences as an EMT, I know how afraid kids can be when they see a fire or EMS vehicle arrive.  Something as simple as a soft, cuddly teddy bear can help them to feel calmer and more in control.  The company has also donated bears to children affected by disasters like Hurricane Katrina, through their Friend For Life program.

 

It’s so nice to travel outside of my local area and see how others are doing good things in the world – I truly believe that every difference, no matter how small, can have a huge effect on a person’s life.  This weekend was also a reminder of how much I really love exploring – I will have to do more of this!

Not half-full, not half-empty – just FULL

I received yet another email (forward) with a joke and a long list of all the misfortune that will befall me if I don’t pass it along to twenty of my closest friends.  I usually give these no more than a cursory glance, but this time I got sucked in.  Mind you, it wasn’t one of those emails that was inspirational or even overly original.  Basically, it referenced the optimist/pessimist argument of whether a glass is half full or half empty, but instead of arguing, it listed the varying perspective of several different types of people.  The one that struck me was:

The physicist would say that the volume of this cylinder is divided into two equal parts; one a colorless, odorless liquid, the other a colorless, odorless gas. Thus the cylinder is neither full nor empty. Rather, each half of the cylinder is full, one with a gas, one with a liquid.

Now I’m not going to get too introspective (at least not today), but the dormant scientist within me could definitely relate.  I think life is this way as well – there is always a dominant quality (the liquid) which seems to flood our perspective.  But there’s also an ever-present, constant quality that is both necessary and easy to ignore.

This blog will be about my life.  Sometimes it will be about my weight loss efforts (diet, training, healthy recipes, etc.), sometimes it will be about my attempts to find balance in my crazy life, and sometimes it will just be some random events.  I had another blog, which can be accessed at this link, but I felt I needed a fresh start.