Sunday, October 19, 2014

Balance

Cutting off 10+ inches. An important decision in finding myself.
The last four years have been an exhaustive and soul searching journey. They have been spent in introspective meditation, meaningful research, extensive reading, tears, smiles, and ultimately a redefining of the meaning of freedom. It is not likely I will share the minute details of this journey, or even the reasons for it. Journeys, after all, are essential in the human existence. I can't assume that mine would be meaningful to you; however, it was life-changing to me.

And yet, in all this "finding myself," I actually lost a bit of myself as well. However, not in the way one might expect. We moved. And I began a demanding job. For the last 4 years I have grown consumed by my work in such excess that I lost my hobbies and essentially, the past-times that made me "me."

I heard a quote about a month ago which stated that those with hobbies are the most happy. This phrase certainly rang true to me. After all, here I am, working 50+ hours a week in a thankless job, so tired when I get home I just want to lock myself in a room and turn off my brain. Only to get up and do it again the next day.

But this quote hit me hard enough that I decided I have to do something. I have to take my life back. So, if this idea rings true to you, join me on my journey to do just that. Over the next, who knows how long? I will be stealing my happiness back by documenting my loves: Running, eating healthy, gardening and ultimately getting my life back. The only obstacle? Well, that's the ultimate goal: Balance. A life of balance.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ginger





I seriously love these. They are lightly sweet and quite tasty. And did you know just how good ginger is for you? You didn't? Well, let me help!

Benefits of ginger:
*ginger improves digestion
*ginger is a natural pain reliever
*ginger helps nausea. There are some women who swear it gets rid of morning sickness!
*ginger helps inflammation
*ginger eases heartburn
*ginger helps cold and flu for both prevention and treatment (think ginger ale).
*ginger helps ease menstrual cramps
*ginger helps kidney functions
*ginger helps improve circulation
*ginger helps arthritis (through reducing pain and inflammation already mentioned)
*ginger lowers cholesterol
*ginger has been said to help ovarian and colon cancer
*ginger is antibacterial and antifungal in nature so it is good for many things.

All in all, ginger chews aren't the best way to take ginger. A better idea is fresh ginger root used in cooking and baking, but if you are easing into it and want a tasty treat, ginger chews sure are great! (Oh, and you can find them at Big Hollow for only $2.25 a bag).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bump it up!

This is a little off-topic, but I have been doing a bit of research on how to get the most effective workout. And I found the answer: interval training. So even though I don't love running at the gym, I have now found purpose to my workouts there!

Why? Well, here are some reasons (I especially love #3. In a magazine I read recently, an added benefit also included raised metabolism for up to 3 hours after an interval workout versus a slow and steady workout for the same duration only raising the metabolism for 30 minutes afterward), found here:
  1. Interval training increases endurance. When you alternate periods of speed with periods of rest, you engage both of your body’s energy-producing systems: the aerobic and the anaerobic. The aerobic system uses oxygen to create sustained energy fueled by carbohydrates, allowing you to run multiple miles. The anaerobic system draws energy from glycogen stored in the muscles, which provides short bursts of activity. This process doesn’t require oxygen and results in the production of lactic acid, which is what makes you feel achy after working out. According to Dr. George Brooks of the University of California at Berkeley, running intervals develops both systems, forcing the body to create lactic acid during sprints and then allowing the body to break it down as use it as fuel as you recover, preventing muscle fatigue and allowing you to work out longer.
  2. You can improve your speed running intervals. When you run intervals, you teach your body that it can run faster by making it run faster. You can’t sustain your fastest pace for more than a few seconds at best. By running fast for a short distance, allowing your body to recover, and then running fast again, your body starts to become conditioned. When you learn to run at high-speeds over short distances, you’re eventually able to sustain a faster pace over long distances.  
  3. You’ll burn more fat running intervals than you will running at a steady pace. Research presented by the University of New South Wales in Australia proved that incorporating speed intervals into a workout burns three times as much fat as exercising at a steady pace for twice as long. If you’ve reached a plateau in your weight loss effort, intervals could be the key helping you break through to achieve your goals.
  4. Interval training enhances neuromuscular coordination. This connection between your muscles and your mind is imperative for balance and injury prevention. As previously mentioned, running intervals increases the body’s efficiency, allowing it to process and create fuel more effectively and to achieve faster speed. This efficiency optimizes muscle coordination, and gives you better control over your muscles, both conscious and subconsciously. This control allows your body to automatically adapt and maintain balance while avoiding injuries without even having to think about it.
  5. Running intervals helps stave off boredom. No matter how much you love to run, there are always those days when lacing up your sneakers feels like a chore. Running past the same old landmarks or climbing onto the treadmills gets boring day after day, and interval training helps to mix things up. Use those familiar landmarks as sprint marks, or use the treadmill clock to keep time as you recover. Pushing your body to its limit will require all of your focus and determination – and boredom will be the last thing on your mind.
SOURCES:
University of California at Berkeley
University of New South Wales
School of Science and Physical Education, Esfahan University

So, the next time you find yourself on the elliptical or treadmill, instead of a slow and steady 10 minute mile, bump it up to a 7.0 or higher for 30-40 seconds and then bring it backt down to 6.0 and jog for 3 minutes. Repeat with the goal of about 7 or more speed intervals every 30 minute exercise.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Because I Need Motivation

I went ahead and gave away my weekend (I'm babysitting 9-5 Saturday AND Sunday). Dreams of treadmill money are the only sane reason for doing such a thing. Oh, and the fact that the woman I'm babysitting for is in dire need. She is moving on Wednesday and has to get the college classes she teaches turned into online classes asap.

Anyway, I now have to do my long run this afternoon after a full day of work. I don't know about you, but that is sounding dreadful. Especially since it will be 10 miles on a treadmill. Boring. So, to help myself get motivated, and perhaps motivate you too, here are a list of some of my favorite running blogs to read:

Barefoot Angie Bee

Skinny Runner

Hungry Runner Girl

Why I Run

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kind of a creepy picture, but I love the idea of it.
For the first time in over two months the weather was warm enough (the high reached 40! and the trail was free of snow) for me to enjoy another barefoot run. Boy were my feet missing it! I ran 7 miles and now, an hour later and my feet still feel great!

Also, for the first time ever I saw another barefoot runner. We passed each other a few times going the opposite way around the loop. Very cool. I'm glad to know there is at least one other person like me in Someplace, Wyoming. I usually get weird looks, but think nothing of it. Today I did a double-take when I saw him running.

To reward myself I enjoyed an amazing pita with homemade roasted red pepper hummus (I'll have to post the recipe on here sometime) and a delicious orange.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Alternative

...to Goldfish.



And they even sell them at my Wal-mart for under $3.00! Check out the ingredients. All understandable! And they taste every bit as good as Goldfish too!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Microwave

 
First, let me just state that opinions (and studies) vary widely. There is enough information on the internet to confuse anyone looking into the issue. You can find repeated proof that the microwave is dangerous for you. And you can find study upon study that says that there is absolutely no danger in using one. I honestly don't expect to persuade anyone and I do not want to cause a fight, but I will state my top reasons for choosing not to use a microwave. 

Second, before I actually state my reasons, let's talk about how microwaves work, shall we?
 
How Your Microwave Actually Heats Your Food:
Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation—waves of electrical and magnetic energy moving together through space. EM radiation ranges from very high energy (gamma rays and x-rays) on one end of the spectrum to very low energy (radio waves) on the other end of the spectrum.
Microwaves are on the low energy end of the spectrum, second only to radio waves. They have a wavelength of about 4.8 inches—about the width of your head.
Microwaves are generated by something called a magnetron (a term derived from the words “magnet” and “electron”), which is also what enabled airborne radar use during WWII. Hence the early name for microwave ovens: radar ranges.
A magnetron is a tube in which electrons are subjected to both magnetic and electrical fields, producing an electromagnetic field with a microwave frequency of about 2,450 megaHertz (MHz), which is 2.4 gigaHertz (GHz).
Microwaves cause dielectric heating. They bounce around the inside of your oven and are absorbed by the food you put in it. Since water molecules are bipolar, having a positive end and negative end, they rotate rapidly in the alternating electric field. The water molecules in the food vibrate violently at extremely high frequencies—like millions of times per second—creating molecular friction, which heats up the food.
If the food or object place in the microwave had no water it would not be able to have this resonance heating type effect and would remain cool.
Structures of the water molecules are torn apart and forcefully deformed. This is different from conventional heating of food, whereby heat is transferred convectionally from the outside, inward. Microwave cooking begins within the molecules where water is present.
Contrary to popular belief, microwaved foods don’t cook “from the inside out.” When thicker foods are cooked, microwaves heat the outer layers, and the inner layers are cooked mostly by the conduction of heat from the hot outer layers, inward.
Since not all areas contain the same amount of water, the heating is uneven.
Additionally, microwaving creates new compounds that are not found in humans or in nature, called radiolytic compounds. We don’t yet know what these compounds are doing to your body.
In addition to the violent frictional heat effects, called thermic effects, there are also athermic effects, which are poorly understood because they are not as easily measured. It is these athermic effects that are suspected to be responsible for much of the deformation and degradation of cells and molecules. [13]


My Reasons for NOT Using the Microwave:
*Questionable: Moms (and nurses and leche legue leaders) out there will tell you NOT to microwave breast milk. Why? Because it destroys the nutrients, kills essential amino acids and negates B12. If it can that to breast milk, why would it not effect other food? It has also been shown to kill the good microbacterial spores in honey (you know, the stuff that makes honey so good for you?).


*Although I use very little plastic, it is an argument out there: Carcinogenic toxins could be leached from plastic or paper plates or covers and mix with your food. See my post on BPA.

found that broccoli nuked in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of the beneficial antioxidant chemicals it contains. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. (Again, just another one of those studies that you can disregard if you are inclined).

*Perhaps the most concrete evidence of the dangers of microwaves comes from Dr. Hans Hertel, a Swiss food scientist, who carried out a small but high-quality study on the effects of microwaved food on humans. His conclusions were clear and alarming: microwave cooking significantly altered the food‘s nutrients enough so that changes occurred in the particpants‘ blood--changes that suggested deterioration. The changes included:
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • More leukocytes, or white blood cells, which can suggest poisoning
  • Decreased numbers of red blood cells
  • Production of radiolytic compounds (compounds unknown in nature)
  • Decreased hemoglobin levels, which could indicate anemic tendencies 
Whether this is correllation or causeation, again I am not here to prove, I am just stating why I don't use the microwave.


*Microwaves are used in the field of gene altering technology to weaken cell membranes. Scientists use microwaves to actually break cells apart. Impaired cells then become easy prey for viruses, fungi and other microorganisms.

*Some "studies" have found that the microwaves actually turn molecules into carcinogens (aka cancerous).

*In the end, I would just rather be safe than sorry. We honestly don't know what microwaves do. And it really isn't that inconvenient to reheat my food using the stove or oven. I actually find myself eating more fruits and vegetables for lunch at work because I don't have the "reheating leftovers" option. Win-win if you ask me.

Other "studies" you can learn more about:
  • A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C[6] .
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer[7] .
  • A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating turned 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk into an inert (dead) form[8] . This study has been cited by Dr. Andrew Weil as evidence supporting his concerns about the effects of microwaving. Dr. Weil wrote:
  • A recent Australian study[9] showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating.
  • Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria[10] .