Ready, Set, Organize!

It’s hard to have a clean house if it isn’t (at least somewhat) organized. Being organized really comes down to habits; daily, weekly, seasonally. Here’s my basics:

Daily:

  • sort mail as soon as it comes into the house: recycle all junk, envelopes immediately, sort keepers into To Do, To Call, To File.
  • A place for everything, and everything in it’s place. Try to do a once over at the end of the day to get things back in place.

Weekly:

  • organize time with a schedule, and To Do/To Buy lists.
  • choose a drawer or closet to sort and organize once a week while watching a movie or talking on the phone
  • sort out kids crafts/papers

Seasonally:

  • sort adult and kids clothes, toys, shoes; donate, consign, or give items away to friends who will use them

Saturday morning, I plan to catch up on some home organization:

  • clean up our school cabinet (which is the dining room hutch pictured above. A Mess.)
  • file some paperwork
  • pack up my maternity clothes
  • look through the kids toys to check for broken and unused toys; the two oldest children will be away for the morning working on their AWANA cars, so it’s a good time to clean out without resistance.

Plan: don’t get distracted by details (don’t sit down to look through art work or photos, just file and move on), take donations that day/give aways within the week (keep in the garage so they down migrate back into circulation).

February Is Going To Be Busy

Looks like February is shaping up to be a busy month for me. Two at home/online events I’m planning to participate in, which you might be interested in too:

  • T-Tapp January Jump Start: 31 day exercise challenge runs from January 27-February 27. See the rules here: http://forum.t-tapp.com/showthread.php?70669-2011-JANUARY-JUMP-START-RULES
  • Health Diet Debate: a series of lectures, over the course of 7 days (Feb.6-12), from some of the “big names” in healthy eating. I’m not sure if this is a truly the “debate” that it’s billed as, or some fancy internet marketing for stand alone lectures, but the viewpoints of the lecturers run from Vegan to Meat Eaters…so should be quite interesting. Plus, it’s free. I’m looking forward to the talks by Sally Fallon and Donna Gates. Read more and register here: http://www.renegadehealth.com/ghd/register.html

So, are you in??

Vegetable Cleanses

[This is the second post in a series. Check out the introduction post on cleansing diets here.]

Now let’s take a look at some specific cleanses. These are all cleanses I have tried, or a close family member has tried, so what I share is just my personal opinion and experience, is not medical advice, and should in no way replace the recommendation of your trusted physician.

Vegetable and/or Fruit only Cleanses, including:

  • Vegetable juicing: using a juicing appliance to extract the juice from vegetables and fruits. A great deal of vegetable nutrients can be consumed in a small amount of juice, however the tendency to use sweet veggies and fruits (i.e. carrots and apples) can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes and exacerbate candida overgrowth.
  • Raw Vegetables: mainly a raw vegetable  cleanse, can include raw juices. Some people eat “raw” as a lifestyle, and often include nuts and raw dairy, which are often avoided for a cleanse. The idea is to benefit from the live enzymes in the raw veggies, which help to break them down. However, raw vegetables can still be difficult to digest in persons without sufficient supply of enzymes for breaking down fiber and other plant carbohydrates.
  • Vegetable soup cleanses: another variation on vegetable cleanses. More vegetables can be consumed than in a raw cleanse, but enzymes are destroyed in cooking. More fiber than a juice cleanse.
  • Grape cleanse: when only grapes and water are eaten. The high sugar content may exacerbate candida or other fungal overgrowth.
  • Seneca Indian 4 day cleanse: a combination of all the above: day 1 raw fruit only but no bananas, day 2 herbal teas with maple syrup only, day 3 vegetables of all kinds: juice, raw or in soup, day 4 rich vegetable broth only.

Unless you are using organic vegetables, you can forget it as a detox. Other than the detox properties of the cleanse (with organic only), vegetable cleanses seem to focus cleansing on the colon. Since this organ stores and then moves waste out of the body, it would seem a logical organ needing a periodic cleaning. A few days to a week has been more than sufficient in my experience, however every body is different. Note that “cleaning out the colon” does not mean that flora imbalances are corrected: if you have overgrowth of Candida (fungal) or harmful bacteria, this kind of cleanse will not correct that (you will likely need a combination of herbal and/or pharmaceutical medicines and probiotic supplements supervised by a doctor, with follow-up testing to confirm efficacy). Vegetable cleanses are excellent for breaking food cravings.

Cleansing and/or detoxing while pregnant and breastfeeding is not recommended, since toxins will be mobilized and could harm a baby in the womb or at the breast. This can be very frustrating for women in the middle of childbearing years, especially when they plan to nurse beyond a year with each baby, and find breastfeeding and pregnancies come back to back. I have been told by a Midwife whom I trust that the only “cleansing diet” she recommends to her moms is a raw vegetable/salads with lemon diet for one week while nursing (not pregnant). However, this should only be done after the milk supply is well established (perhaps after 6 mo. postpartum of full-time nursing). I did try this with my first baby, but had a hard time feeling satiated/getting enough calories, so I gave it up after 2 days.

There is no doubt: vegetables are good for us. However, I do not advocate vegan or vegetarian diets as healthy: they just haven’t held up to science or to my own experience. And don’t think that only vegetables help us detox; meat protein contains many amino acids not found in veggies . . . amino acids which detox certain kinds of chemicals accumulated or manufactured in our bodies. So (as I state in the intro post on this topic) the best cleanse is a long-term clean balanced diet.

Your body is detoxing every single day, whether you are on a special diet or not! Another way to approach the long-term detox lifestyle is to purposefully include more of the detox powerhouses into your diet:

Foods that enhance liver detox:

  • asparagus
  • grapefruit
  • artichokes
  • all dark leafy greens: kale, spinach, romaine, chard
  • onions
  • garlic
  • olive oil

Foods that enhance kidney detox:

  • cranberry
  • lemon
  • water, water, water (only purified)
  • cucumber

While systematically removing detox blockers from your everyday diet:

  • any kind of heated vegetable oil, such as found in fried chips, baked chips, french fries, box cookies
  • refined sugar
  • conventional dairy

Up next: some fasts and more specific cleanses.

Butter Review

“Mmm . . . butter is the most yummy thing to eat!” said my seven year old daughter as we enjoyed pats of butter and peanut butter on crackers.

It’s not only yummy, it’s good for you (assuming you aren’t eating it with enough sugars/starches to begin gaining weight). Butter is an excellent saturated fat for absorbing and utilizing the important vitamins A, D, and E, which are too often lacking in the western diet, as well as metabolizing the calcium and other minerals in our diets.

However, there’s a big difference in the quality of butters.

Here are two different colors of yellow butter. The one on the left is Kerrygold, which comes from cows in Ireland which graze on green grass. It is always yellow, and is cultured with probiotics during the butter making process. The one of the right is Trader Joes Sweet Cream butter; it is nearly white compared to the Kerrygold.

Here is a photo (mobile download from a friend; thanks Stephanie of beeyoutiful.com) of homemade butter (left) from fresh raw milk from cows eating the quickly growing green grass of spring, and a stick of Costco butter (right). This photo is not doctored; I’ve seen and tasted butter this yellow. It’s an indicator of the high levels of vitamins in the butter.

About a hundred years ago, Weston A. Price traveled the world to find the healthiest peoples. He discovered some astounding truths of optimal health, one of which was that cows and other dairy animals give nourishing milks when they are fed their natural diets of green grass. Cows kept in stalls in the city, and fed hay and grains, gave milk products which did not produce the excellent health, stature, and dentition in the people who drank it in comparison with the people drinking the milk from grass fed cows. (Whew! Did you catch that? It even confused me, and I wrote it. Bottom line: grass-fed milk=healthy people, grain-fed milk=not-as-healthy people.)

Here are two excellent brands of cultured butter (probiotics used in the butter making process). Little difference can be seen in the butter color, although there is a slight difference in flavor. Both are from pastured cows, which gives the yellow color, although not as bright as the spring butter. Both are from pasturized milk; the Organic Valley brand is unsalted. I found it interesting that these cultured butters were easy to cut with a butter knife, even straight out of the fridge, not rock hard like conventional butter. Both taste fabulous.

I purchase the “conventional” butter from Trader Joes (top picture, right side) to use when baking things for potluck or other groups where nobody cares a whit about the butter quality so I can stretched my grocery dollars further. This way, I can purchase Kerrygold for spreading on bread and vegetables at home.

I also regularly purchase Trader Joes Organic Butter, which is a little cheaper than the Kerrygold, and I purchase it for baking and frying at home. It is not cultured with probiotics, but does have a similar color to the Kerrygold most of the year. However, as I understand that Trader Joes uses a number of local vendors around the nation for their fresh products, their organic butter in your are may not be this yellow (indicating that it is not delivering vitamin A in good amounts).

Kerrygold runs around $2.69 for a half pound at Trader Joes (more elsewhere)
Organic Valley runs about $5.50 a pound at my local Fred Meyer
Trader Joes Organic runs about $4.79 a pound at Trader Joes
Trader Joes (Conventional) Sweet Cream Butter runs about $2.99 a pound at Trader Joes

Butter is an excellent choice in baking and frying (along with virgin coconut and palm oils, and beef or duck fat) since the saturated fats are so stable and will not be damaged into a trans fat form.

Body Cleanses: A Clean Green Start

Vegetable juicing. The raw food cleanse. The Lemonade fast. Water fasting. Coffee cleanses, Colon cleanses. Herbal cleanses. Heavy metal cleanses, Candida cleanses. Seasonal cleanses, Vegetable soup cleanses, grape cleanse. Sauna cleanses, Liver cleanses, Kidney cleanses. American Indian 4 day cleanse. The Twinkies cleanse. (OK, I made up that last one.)

It seems that there are cleanses for every organ of the body, and for more than a handful of the ailments afflicting mankind. So what are all these cleanses, and are they at all helpful?

The basic premise of most cleanses is that the human body collects toxins, heavy metals, acids, bad bacteria -in general terms, gunk- and that a periodic “housecleaning” is helpful to move on with greater health and energy. Some cleanses may be designed to rest a certain organ, like the liver, from its daily duties, or to help in breaking bad food habits, such as sugar or junk food addictions.

However helpful a cleanse may be, I’d like to pause before we begin to discuss actual cleanses and consider the following two thoughts:

1. The best body cleanse is a clean lifestyle.

Consider the following ridiculous conversation.

Patient to Doctor: Hey Doc, can you recommend a good cleanse for me? Maybe a colonic? Maybe a week of vegetables only?

Doctor: Well, you just really need to quit smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.

Patient: Oh, I know I should do that, but until I am able to, isn’t there like a one week diet, or herbs or something to clean me all up on the inside?

Please realize that I am not mocking those who smoke; I have a couple of dear friends who do and very much regret the addiction it is for them; quitting is not easy. However the above scenario highlights how silly it would be for a person to try to cleanse their body in a short amount of time, without removing the main source of the gunk going in.

It’s the same for all of us, whether your main “gunk” is over-the-counter-meds, pesticides or the wrong kind of food, or toxins you rub into your skin, drink in your water, or breathe in the air. Unless we make an effort to change our toxic exposure (where possible) short cleanses have little overall health benefit.

2. A helpful cleanse will be one that matches what needs cleansing.

No one cleanse will be helpful to everyone, and some cleanses may be harmful to some. Obviously if it’s the liver that needs cleansing, doing a kidney cleanse won’t help, and vice versa. If you just need more sleep, and different diet won’t fix that. This sounds so simple, and yet it is so easy to hear of a cleanse someone else has done and “how much better they feel” and assume that that diet must be what I need.

Consider carefully, and do seek the advice of your physician. Although many MDs have never had any training in these types of therapy, those who practice “functional medicine” or who have had additional training in natural or nutrtional medicine should be of more help.

Next Post: I’ll give a very brief review of some of the cleanses I’ve tried.

The Wellness Workout that Works For Me

Did you know that on average, Americans gain 8 lbs over the holidays? (Yes, I read it in two different national magazines.)

Not me. I lost 5 lbs, and 17.5 inches. Yeah, and I’m just as shocked as you. So read on.

In my last post, I mentioned that I’d be sharing with you the exercise routine that has actually worked for me. Well, here it is: T-Tapp (t-tapp.com).

I truly feel like I can recommend this program, since I am totally non-athletic, uncoordinated, and though I was within my weight range when I began T-Tapp a year ago, I was not toned or fit. Yet, it has helped me to become more toned, increased my stamina during pregnancy, and increased my coordination, in addition to other health benefits (more energy, immune enhancement, improved mood and sleep). And that 17.5 inches lost is hard to ignore.

T-Tapp (created by Teresa Tapp) is a series of movements that strengthen your core, while standing in spinal alignment. They pump the lymph fluid, which I think is the main reason that I feel so much better on the days I exercise. It’s isometric, cardio, stretching, rehabilitative to bad joints, low impact. And because the Basic Workout is only 15 minutes, I’ve been able to DO it, on average 3-4 times per week.

Before this workout, I had tried Curves, and gave it up after a year and a half when I couldn’t be consistent enough with going (6AM was my only time to go, and that’s hard to do when you have an infant). Although it was fun to go and I was certainly sweating through those workouts, it seemed to me that all the women going there never made any significant change to their fitness level (including me).

I’ve also tried a few workout videos over the years, none with much result, even with lengthy workouts. And I also felt like they were taught by fitness models, rather than health trainers. It sort of zaps your motivation when you consider that the instructor has a really different body type than yours, and probably has never been acquainted with a baby belly (or 4th baby belly!), much less with how to lose one. I don’t know that Teresa Tapp has ever had a baby, but there are tons of testimonials on her site from mothers with 6, 7, 8, 9 and more children, who have shed pounds and lost hundreds of inches of baby-weight doing T-Tapp.

Teresa also explains body types and how they affect problem spots, and determine what is realistic for you to achieve with your body. I happen to have the same body type which she has, long torso, short legs. I tell myself: if she can do this, I can too.

The Basic Workout Plus (15 min.) is tough (muscle and coordination wise), but it was designed for people with Chronic Fatigue, so it’s not going to exhaust you. This is what I started with, and I think it would be a good place for others to start. I did this during pregnancy, from the 3rd month to the 8th month. I started in again with this workout at 4 weeks postpartum, although I took it slow.

At 3 months postpartum, I began to add a few moves from the Total Workout, which I did for about 7 weeks over the holidays. This is where I really began to see inch loss. (Basic Workout is the first 15 minutes of Total Workout.) In the coming year, I hope to use a combination of Basic and Total Workouts on an every-other-day basis to become fit, and then drop back to just the Basic a few times a week for maintenance.

If this sounds like something which might work for you, check out the website. Make sure to enter your email in the 10 Day Drawing (winners drawn every 10 days). I entered several times from January-May of last year, then I did win in May. I just entered last week, and won again . . . so there’s proof that if you keep entering you will get picked sometime. The prize is a free workout video (which tend to be shorter, focused exercises) and free shipping. There is no purchase required, but they do also give you a coupon for 50% off a video of your choice (plus the free shipping), which is a great deal if you are wanting to buy a certain workout which isn’t offered in the prizes.

I am not an affiliate of this company, and do not receive any compensation for recommending their products; I’ve simply been impressed with their company and the results I’ve achieved while following this program. One workout is not going to be right for everyone; if you’ve found one that is working for you, stick with it! Consistency is what will really give results in the long term.

I Hate To Exercise, and Other Good Reasons To Get Moving

photo credit: weightwatchers.com.au

I hate to exercise. At least I used to, before I was able to do it successfully.

For me, success has meant that I was able to fit it in my day, and that it actually made a difference in how I felt, how my body looked, and how I felt about myself. I think these are good goals for exercise.

Success in exercise had never happened for me in my entire life, until this past year. This is one of a few things which has helped me feel better in 2010 than I did for at least the 10 years before it. That’s saying a lot. This non-exerciser/exercise hater/excuse Pro will now choose to exercise every other day because I feel better when I do.

Just by way of review, here are some reasons it’s good to exercise:

  • Good for your heart/oxygenates all your tissues
  • Enhances the immune system/moves lymph fluid
  • Improves mood and digestion
  • Increases energy/helps you sleep better
  • Helps detox processes/sweat is the skin’s method of toxin removal

Of course, these benefits will only be yours if exercise becomes a habit. Part of making habits is just doing it, and part is finding the routine that is going to work for you.

All my past excuses? I’m learning to turn them on their heads by choosing to:

  • embrace the interruption in my day, knowing that I’ll have more energy afterward to accomplish more in less time
  • appreciate a good sweat which is helping me detox through my largest organ (skin) and is an indicator that I’m in fat-burning-mode (and the more days I sweat, the less stink there seems to be . . . indicating a lower toxin level?)
  • be happy about the accomplishment of doing a tough workout

However you exercise, the main thing is that it works for you and that you do it. So find a routine that works, and get moving!

Next post: I’ll tell you about the exercise program that I’ve been doing (read: actually been doing) this past year. I feel like I can really recommend it to others, as it has helped me lose 17.5 inches in the last 8 weeks. . . and that was over the holidays!

[*Gasp* . . . can’t believe I’m blogging about exercise . . .]

A New Year: Make It a Clean Green One

Happy New Year!

Making changes to a clean, green lifestyle can be overwhelming at first. But a few successes arms you with confidence to keep making healthy changes for your family. And a schedule of topics can help you to know you’re covering all your bases.

That’s why I’ve put together a year’s worth of healthy habits for you. It’s on the tab (top of the page) title Healthy Habits Series. Think of each month’s topics as a challenge to make a clean green start, or take it to the next level. During that month, I’ll be writing articles to coincide with the topics, and I’d love to help you in any way I can to succeed in a major overhaul, or in fine-tuning. (Just send me and email! I’d also love to hear how you’re doing in comments sections of each post.)

Lifestyle changes are hard for me; but I’ve found that I can form new habits when I understand how important the change is, and only concentrate on a few things at a time. So we only have a few topics each month But, if you follow along, you can significantly improve the quality of life for yourself and your family in just this year.

Let’s make 2011 our healthiest year yet. Are you ready to make a clean green start?