Thinking Woman’s Weblog

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So-called “Health” food March 9, 2009

Filed under: health,organic food — Thinking Woman @ 2:54 pm

Lots of people, single income families especially, do whatever they can to save extreme amounts of money on their grocery bill.
Little wonder; other than real estate, in a frugal family, this is generally the highest expense and it’s wise to chip away at it where possible.

One such friend proudly posted a photo just now on FaceBook showing her latest shopping trip all proudly laid out on the counter.

I. Am. Stunned.

Well, no, I’m not, really. I’ve seen her post before what she’s spent on grocery trips and how much she saved by using shrewd tricks to get double coupons and BOGOs.

I ignore coupons because, by and large, they are not for anything I’d want to actually use! Here is what she proudly took home, and my opinion of each item:

  • 2 plastic enclosed cases of small bottled water (buy a filter; stop filling environment with plastic!)
  • Multi Grain Cheerios – many boxes (wheat is not healthy but we’ve been brainwashed it is, especially if it says Multi Grain)
  • Honey Bran Cheerios (more processed wheat crap)
  • Ocean Spray juice (full of sugar; we should never drink juice unless it’s freshly juiced. Devoid of nutrients)
  • Pillsbury flour or pancake mix (more wheat)
  • Lots and lots of cheese (way too much – must be having it for lunch and dinner daily)
  • Hellman’s Mayonnaise (sure full of preservatives and other nasties as is everything above – pesticides, antibiotics,  hormones, super processed)
  • Tropicana Orange Juice (again, no juice unless you juice it fresh plus this has additives and extra sugar added even if it says it doesn’t)
  • Gallon of milk (hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, pasteurized and homogenized so dead and not digestible)
  • Chocolate pudding (sugar and chemicals – ick!)
  • 1 pint strawberries (yahoo for something fresh. But oops – this is in the top 10 for Must Have Organic so still very bad)
  • 3 packs frozen spinach (Horrah for a green vegetable! But one that has been blanched and frozen and this in a country with easy access to fresh vegetables in abundance this time of year)
  • 4 pack yogurt (no live probiotics in this non-organic brand)

Okay, I had to get that off my chest since I can’t comment on FaceBook for obvious reasons. There she is, so proud to have come home with $200 worth of groceries for $70. I am sure she would be fine with paying $600/month for health insurance if the plan her husband has isn’t good enough, but groceries are not worth spending any extra on. Or rather, she believes she is feeding her family a healthy, balanced diet. I so wish more people understood what is really healthy food.


Metabolism increase! Finally! February 24, 2009

Filed under: health — Thinking Woman @ 2:37 pm

When I was in my 20s, I got fit for the first time in my life. I’d never done any exercise as a child, owing to the unfortunate circumstances of being severely anemic (undiagnosed), not a visual learner so it didn’t come naturally, and not coming from a family where physical ability was valued or promoted in any way. Luckily, I actually became fit quite easily as I did not have stick-to-it-ive-ness and would easily have given up if results were not quick.

I am glad I had the opportunity to see and feel the process of going from sluggishness to total fitness so I could really notice the changes to my body. That is helping guide me this time around.

One thing I am still waiting for is more energy. I already have a lot more energy than I did before I started applying myself, but I still feel like I’d rather lie around and read a book instead of getting off my butt and getting important things accomplished. Once I get moving, it’s now not a big deal to keep moving, unless I’m sick. Perhaps it’s a motivation issue. Perhaps it’s a thyroid issue. I don’t know. I’ll be addressing both my motiviation and any possibility of underlying health causes.

Anyway, today, I woke up hungry! My last two workouts, I continued my new trend of pushing harder and expanding the envelope. Sunday night, I incorporated a lot of new techniques from the podcast I blogged about. I hope I can continue to find the space in the gym to work out like that. I went from one station to the next and focused on holding at the heavy point and on slow negatives. I also focused a lot on legs and butt as they are the largest muscles so will increase metabolism when stimulated. I didn’t do anything all that long as I feel pretty foolish lunging around the gym or doing a zillion step-ups. I kept my heart rate bouncing – extremely high so I was sweating and panting and then just enough rest to catch my breath and on to more of the same or the next thing.

None of the new machines do butt for me so I sought out an ancient machine I remember already being dusty and rusty when I worked out in my 20s. It has some steps and you can put a padded waist belt on and do squats (or dips or whatever, but I can’t do those with just my own weight so I certainly can’t be adding more!) I don’t recall it being so difficult to get up with the waist belt on but I managed it. Maybe I was doing it wrong? I really had to crouch to get it up over my hips. I like doing squats that way as it doesn’t compress the spine. I really do not think it’s wise to put a heavy barbell across your shoulders. That’s not a good kind of pain. After the squats, I climbed up to the top step and jumped into the top of a pull-up and held it, then lowered myself down slowly until the point of dropping. That’s a bit scary as it’s impossible to know where the step is but I did find it every time.

Last night, I did the escalator. I don’t know what it’s really called but that’s what I like to call it. I set it to intervals and managed to get through a boring 15 minutes. My test of working hard enough is that I’m not feeling faint but I couldn’t easily manage a drink of water until about 20 seconds into my recovery interval. So one minute where I’m breathing very hard by the end and then, in that case, 1 minute of recovery. I would prefer more like 30 seconds to recover but that’s not how the program worked. I am learning to drink less water – just a tiny sip here and there so it’s not sloshing in my stomach. After that, I did this new (to my gym) arm pedaling machine that my husband thinks is a joke because you only see, um, rather large people on it. Yeah, sure, it can be nothing if you make it nothing, but if you set the level and pedal quickly, it gets the heart rate right up there. I know from years of aerobics classes that incorperating arms increases heart rate but sometimes, I just like to do arms so I can really focus on them instead of flail them around randomly. And do weight bearing heart rate increasing work. I felt like I could really get my back and abs into this and I am focusing more on doing that as much as I can think of it. I have finally learned that there are no abs exercise; the core is not meant to be worked separately but rather as part of whole body movements.

And today? I’m hungry! I woke up around 6:30 am and could not sleep any more. The bad news is I was stressed. I need to get my life to where I wake up calm and peaceful. The good news is I was rested and ready to get up instead of wanting to lounge for hours. After waiting a bit to be certain, I did get up and had a light breakfast. Two hours later, I was starving again. That’s the way to eat, anyway; so much better to split one large meal into two smaller meals. I know this but I haven’t been doing it. Actually, I was out of big bowls and that’s the main reason I had a small first breakfast. Whatever it takes! Now I know to just eat in a smaller bowl or plate to have a smaller meal and be hungry again two hours later. But that’s not all of it; I feel the way I felt in my 20s when my appetite was revved and I needed to eat all the time, and I do mean all the time! I have been researching like mad and, I thought, working out hard. But perhaps it was only hard for where I was then and now I am getting to what only took 2-3 months last time. I guess, now that I think about it, if it took 2-3 months and now it took 8 months, that is not horrible. I’m still getting there! I am starting to actually believe in the possibility of light at the end of the tunnel!!!


Bidet adjustments February 23, 2009

Filed under: environment,health — Thinking Woman @ 4:25 pm

I bought an inexpensive bidet on Ebay a few months ago and my husband finally got around to installing it a few weeks ago. It only does cold water, which takes getting used to, but not as much as you’d think.

The problem right now is it’s not entirely accurate. I just asked him about this and he thinks he can tweak the aim a bit. Just now it’s mostly shooting up my back. Nice.

He’s going to pull the nozzle forward a bit or move the whole contraption and here’s hoping it’s on target!

It did not solve the issue of needing toilet paper as it is such a directed spray as to only be useful for cleaning the tush. Oh well. I had hoped it would have more coverage and perhaps a pat dry with a wash cloth would do the trick. I guess I could still switch to using wash cloths once we’ve got it aiming correctly. We shall see! At least this is way more sanitary than just smearing! Ick!


Quick Fat Burning Workout Tips February 18, 2009

Filed under: health — Thinking Woman @ 7:43 pm

Stimulate greatest muscle mass and muscles greatest range of motion. Resistance training. To increase these use “intensity techniques”.

Ex: Squat (legs, butt, hips) – burn a lot of calories after workout over, much more than cardio does

Intensify by working different levels of strength during the movement. Pushing up is not the only important part. The lowering and static at top also can provide opportunity for intensity and stimulating more muscles. So try just negatives (using partner or machine). Choose higher resistance than you’d use. Move slowly and controlled. Start at bottom and ask help to get to top. Do none or little of pushing. 30% heavier than normal. Lower it yourself slowly for 7-8 seconds. Do that until you can’t.

Another tip is static level of exercise. Limited on exercises because not a lot of resistance on top of something like squat. But chinup – hold at top which uses a lot of muscles instead of just letting yourself drop. Static level of strength is strongest level, even greater than lowering. So have someone assist to top. Then just hold for as long as possible. This can last for a minute (not likely but possible). Maybe 10-15 seconds. You will be able to add 5-10 seconds per workout if you do these ever workout or every 2nd workout.

These are muscles you are not normally using. Also requires more rest. And shorter workouts. Reduces time spent exercises and perhaps get even better workout – in terms of strength building and calorie burning.


Burn Belly Fat Tips February 4, 2009

Filed under: health — Thinking Woman @ 7:29 pm

1. Cut artificial sweeteners (duh, did this 20 years ago)

2. Quit Sodium Benzoate (I don’t eat processed foods so I don’t even know what that is)

3. Exercise largest muscles (quads/glutes) – squat is good

Here’s a link –

Okay, I am long successful with steps 1 and 2 so it looks like I am not hitting step 3 hard enough. Yes, I’ve been working out hard for about 8 months. And I’ve been super fit before. But either results can’t come as quickly as I’d like due to my age or I am just not working hard enough/doing the right things/enough of the right things.


The Damage it Does to Families to Report them to CPS January 23, 2009

Filed under: parenting,personal growth,social interaction — Thinking Woman @ 11:46 pm

Today, I finally had an opportunity to discuss with the other mom who was wrongly reported to CPS what it is like. We both have had close to a year to distance ourselves from this evil thing. We both feel so very suspicious and  bitter over this. We both changed from being completely forthcoming and joyous, very out and about moms, to much more private, isolated, suspicious moms. For the first time, we compared notes on who we thought might have done this. We both felt highly suspicious of two people in particular. Not good! Not knowing means that the suspicion is still being directed towards some innocent people and the underlying hostility we both try to keep in check is undeserved!

Our children have most certainly suffered. Were there good intentions for us having been reported? Not really. Did anything we do in the way we parent change? Not exactly. Certainly not in the way the reporter must have intended. We just keep our precious children more in, more to ourselves, which is a shame for them and a shame for those that miss out on their company. A loss all around.

What horrified me even more than the fact that we were wrongly accused for malicious reasons is that other people were spreading around a few rumors, one of which was that I made the report on the other family and then lied about my family having been reported. What sort of people are women that they could be listening to crap like that and not shutting it down? I checked around and found that and another few rumors to have been quite widespread. This group is about as safe a place as one could expect and it deeply disappointed me to finally realize that this is just how women are. I aspire to be better than that. Gossip is some nasty business.

It’s not all that easy to be the most positive parent you can be when feeling bitter and suspicious. I would like my children to feel they have a loving and joyous mother. I have only just reclaimed my joy in the last month or so. I finally put my foot down and made a decision to focus on joy and have joy now and I really do feel the difference, thank goodness. It’s been, in so many ways, an unnecessarily rough year.


Compost Pile: Going Native January 22, 2009

Filed under: organic gardening — Thinking Woman @ 10:19 pm

I’ve been feeling like I had to organize my compost. At first, I secured a second hand black plastic composting bin. You put stuff in the top, and, in theory, compost comes out this nifty door at the bottom. Only, in actual fact, that is not what happened.

According to the “Humanure” book, which should be read for the wealth of composting information, even if you don’t plan to compost your own poop, it is absolutely not a requirement to turn your compost. There is no point discussing this with any gardener who thinks otherwise. As with people who practice straight line gardening as compared to square foot gardening, some people are entrenched in what they (think they) know. So no. Clearly it’s not necessary to turn compost as evidenced by the fact that when I poured my bucket out today, its contents were steaming. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Composters feel you must have some sort of a bin. But when I was growing up, we dumped everything on a huge pile, which, magically, stopped growing. I absolutely adored taking food waste and putting it on that pile next to our garage. I expected a mountain with all the stuff I was stealthily scraping off plates (I was a very picky eater) but in fact no mountain ever materialized. This mystified and disappointed me then. Now I think it’s wonderful! It fully demonstrates that compost works all on its own and does not require being dug nor turned nor, in fact, fussed with at all.

Back to my foolish bin. Knowing I didn’t need anything that turned and that I would eventually have compost, I happily added to the top and waited for rich compost to come out the bottom. I took the temperature a few months ago and was disappointed to find only one hot spot; the rest was at air temperature. And when I managed, with much effort, to slide the door at the bottom open, I found it crawling with large scary insects but the stuff did not in any way resemble ripe compost. As I have some fruit trees that will go in the ground in the spring, I really am needing my compost to be ready sooner rather than later.

After a great amount of struggling, interspersed with running away because of the big scary bugs, I managed to lift the compost thing off my heap of compost. Much to my relief (composters do get excited about strange things, don’t we), I did observe some steam rising off the lower parts as the pile slid apart. Most of it was too solid and absolutely disgusting for me to even think of using a pitch fork or in fact anything to muck with it. So I simply used my handy dandy rake to gather up some leaves from around my garden and bury the pile. I have learned from the Humanure book that if compost smells offensive, all that is required is to cover it. They recommend sawdust but I can’t see the logic of spending money and I am not composting poop, so I use what’s readily available: leaves. This works brilliantly. My plan with this pile is to simply leave it a few more weeks and see how it goes. I expect it’s zipping along nicely under its cover. All those bugs tell me good stuff was going on.

Meanwhile, because I need something within a few months, I started a new pile so I can leave my current one undisturbed. I have heard from a few sources that a great way to make a nice pile is to take four pallets and wire them together to make a cube. That is a very large cube! And then, perhaps, a second cube so there are two piles going; one to use and the other in progress. But really? Must compost be contained? And if it were contained in an open structure like this, how would you get the cover material on top which so nicely cuts down the odor?

I am going native. I didn’t have the four pallets so I kept putting off starting my new compost pile. Then time ran out when I had the looming deadline of the spring tree planting so I just started a pile in the back corner of my yard under a tree. Of course it stank the first time I dumped my bucket so I put an extra rake near it. I dump my bucket about once a week, it seems. It takes a few extra minutes to rake some leaves on top of the pile. As I dumped the contents today, I saw lovely steam rise up. I bedded it all down nicely with natural (and free!) yard waste, and with some time and some luck, this pile will mature nicely by the time I need it. Starting a new pile will be a matter of choosing location. I see no reason to do anything other than help it keep its shape. I certainly don’t feel inclined to try to haul things up and over the top of sideways place pallets and especially not yard rakings. And I most certainly don’t intend to go buy sawdust to put on my compost to keep the odor down.

Perhaps large scale operations need neat and tidy bins. But for just our little family, the pile seems the way to go. I can’t wait to be proven right!

By the way, the buckets I am using are brilliant. When I bought the Humanure toilet (as insurance in case, for whatever reason, we ever find ourselves without plumbing, not because I actually intend to use it), it came with four or five lovely large covered plastic buckets. I am using one of these for my compost and it’s much better than the previous container I had which attracted a house full of flies when used on the counter, filled my freezer when placed there, and was just too darned small to be convenient. Plus it required me to keep buying foolish compost liners which may well be biodegradable, but still, they cost money! The buckets I now use hold five gallons. I simply rest the lid on top so it’s very convenient to add to it. The mouth is wide so it’s easy to scrape plates in without missing. The handle is comfortable so I don’t mind lugging it outside when it fills. Brilliant! And we are blessed with occasional warm days even in winter so I am able to keep up with it. But as I have 4, I know I have the option of starting up a second bin if I need to. I could see that happening in the long muggy hot summer or during the rainy season when I won’t want to muck in the mud.