Healthy Journey – Appetite

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m going on a healthy journey, a path that I call “The Journey to Genkijima.” 

I drew a map that showed a path to this mythical, but still very important island, the island of my own good health.  “Genki” is a Japanese word meaning, among other things, “energetic good health.”  “Jima” means island, similar to “Shima.”  It’s not just about being healthy, but being vigorous, positive.  You can see the map I drew here.  I placed gold and silver star stickers for every pound I lost.  I’ve set up different landmarks on the map and the destination, in my mind, looks a lot like the Fall Forest in Horse Isle 3.

At this point I’ve gotten past the lighthouse at One-Derland, and am crossing Bravery Bay.  I had to put more spots on the map to make a longer path because I realized that I should really end up at a hundred and forty pounds, not a hundred and fifty.

That’s been going pretty well actually, even after quarantine, and I’m sixty pounds lighter than when I started.  I still have forty-five or so to go but I already feel so much better.  My blood pressure is way down and my resting heart rate is sixty!

In any case, now that I’ve seen some real success over the long term, I’m going to start sharing some of the strategies that have worked for me.

So today’s topic is appetite.

Big topic! But it can really help if you learn to manage it. Since everybody knows the standard tips about using caffeine or drinking lots of water or eating lots of fiber, I want to go beyond that. As far as I’ve been able to find, appetite has three major causes.

Actual need for fuel/nutrients
Gut biota, number and types
Emotional and mental habits

I’ll take these one by one and show how I have been able to manage my appetite by keeping these things in mind. I have had no uncontrolled binges for about six months now and honestly… I haven’t gone that long without an uncontrolled eating session since I was maybe seven or eight years old, when I wasn’t in charge of how much I ate. I freakin’ love food. Always have. Especially sugar and carbs. So how did I manage half a year without any binges, and without going off the rails after a holiday meal?

Need for fuel/nutrients

A person will have massive cravings if they aren’t eating enough or if the food they are eating doesn’t give them the nutrients they need. If you are missing major nutrients that your body needs, you’ll run into problems, so I try to get a good range of foods to make sure that I am getting the right kinds of fuel. Also I’m eating more and more whole foods because they are likely to have nice little added bonus vitamins and trace minerals that other foods may not.

Gut biota

Increasing amounts of research is saying that the gut bacteria that helps us digest our food has a massive impact on what we crave or even want to eat. The good news is, you can change the population in your gut by persistently eating more and more of the foods that are better for you. Within a week or so, you can see some pretty big changes. For example, now lentils seem really good to me. I’ve also noticed that eating some fiber and prebiotics (the food that survives to the intestines and feeds the bacteria) can make me crave other foods. For example, I started off by cutting way back on sugar and eating more apples and veggies I liked, such as carrots, broccoli, that sort of thing. Before long I was really loving the idea of eating lentils, spinach, red cabbage, whole wheat, and more. Healthier foods actually tasted better to me because of this population change. Also my sugar cravings backed off so they weren’t so insane.

Example of an effect of this change: I thought I’d stashed some gourmet jellybeans for my birthday. My birthday was a “holiday” so I could eat sugar if I wanted to. These were some wicked nice jellybeans, bought at Trader Joe’s, made in Ireland. Yet, because I wasn’t craving sugar nearly as much, I was able to realize that they were left at work, where I couldn’t get to them, and I was able to go “it’s okay, I won’t have them” and continue on with my day. Previously I would have obsessed about it.

Emotions/habits

Our emotions can have a huge impact on our success. Most of us know that. For example, if there is a lot of self sabotage lurking behind the scenes, we might put ourselves in situations that could hamper our success. Habits are a huge part of this too. For every old habit we have, we need to replace it with a new habit. Habits can definitely cause us to be hungry at certain times of the day, and emotions can cause false hunger as well. So we might really need to do some work on ourselves to get to the point where we are ready to gain that health we so richly deserve, and convince ourselves that the effort is really worth it.

Being in touch with what is going on inside us can help us think “I’m not hungry, I’m just bored” or “why don’t I go have a cuddle instead of that bag of chips? That’s what I really want.” Doing that can help you realize that our bodies actually do crave what’s good for them, but sometimes those cravings are harder to hear at first.

With that in mind, I found it really helpful to plan my meals around when I am least and most hungry, and plan the type of meal accordingly as well. For example, I am not all that hungry in the morning – unless I eat a carb-rich breakfast with little protein. At lunch I know hat I’m not usually that hungry either, when I’m busy with work. When I’m not, I get bored more easily and also want more food. I usually have a mid afternoon slump, around teatime, where I really need something to get me through. My spouse and I both like a big dinner, and sometimes I snack in the evenings.

With all that in mind, it works best for me if I do something like this:

Small breakfast, invariably including protein, and caffeine when I want it. No sugar in the caffeine, and carbs must be complex. Example: eggs, a protein bar, a whole wheat flatbread with lentils, or oatmeal with a scoop of PBfit and a couple ounces of blueberries, or pizza if that’s what we had the day before.

Lunch needs protein in it too, so I’ll do something like a protein bar (my go-to if I don’t know what else to have), eggs and veggies, avocado with toast or flatbread, green soup and flatbread, leftover chicken from the dinner before, one of my breakfast options, or something random like roasted chickpeas, or an apple, PBfit, and a beef stick. Once I get back to work I’ll start eating more salads, or maybe sooner provided I can keep them good long enough to finish the leafy greens.

Afternoon snack is handled nicely with a protein shake or an apple with PBfit.

Dinner can be any number of things. It might be pizza, hommade sushi, a cup of rice with chicken on top, soup, chili, whatever. I usually save enough calories from before that I can have a bit more for dinner. I try to add vegetables when I can, and when we have something like udon or other noodles I weigh them carefully and pick a better option like buckwheat soba or brown rice vermicelli. Or we might have rice and baked salmon or a burger and grilled corn. I allow more in the way of carbs at dinner, but still weigh carefully.

Snack might be a square of dark chocolate or maybe some wasabi peas, nothing big. I might have nuts or something like that but I weigh those carefully too. I have a secret weapon if I wake up hungry in the middle of the night or need something right before bed – nonfat cottage chese.

I think this illustrates how appetite tracking works. If I know when I am likely to be hungry, and when I am likely to be not hungry, I can plan ahead and balance things so I get what I need when I need it. I can also plan ahead so if I am unexpectedly hungry I can do something about it – like have a cup of hot tea, or a protein shake, or some cottage cheese for example. I try to make my supplemental snacks either calorie free, or high in protein. Though I eat a lot of low fat foods, I do have fat in my diet, usually in the form of avocado or salmon or nuts or something like that, not usually in condiments. Besides, I would rather spend my calories on protein or good carbs, given a choice.

Other tips that have helped me:

Aside from the above strategy, sometimes it helps for me to have some warm miso soup (about 40 calories) or some tea, whether herbal or caffeinated. The warmth in my stomach gives me that full, warm sensation I’m looking for as well as hydration. This is good for when I know I’ve had enough to eat but I still want a bit of a snack.

Find the healthiest version possible of your favorite foods and work them into your diet.

For example, I LOVE pizza, so I figured out how to make my own, which is not only tastier, but when I make it I can keep it to about 600 calories for two generously sized slices. That’s not only better than any other pizza you can buy at a pizzaria, it’s real pizza, not pita pizza or cauliflower pizza or anything like that. If you made those you could probably do way better than me on the calories. My pizza is a handmade crust where I weigh the flour so I know how much is going into each quarter pizza, with turkey pepperoni, reduced fat mozzarella, black olives, boneless skinless chicken breast, mushrooms, and tomato sauce. The reduced fat cheese and the turkey pepperoni help shave off fat but don’t really affect the taste all that much.

Another example is chocolate. Love the stuff. So I found squares that fit into my calorie counts and I eat them slowly. Dove Promises work pretty well for this and Ghiradelli squares all have the calories on the individually wrapped square.

PBFit has been nice for my peanut butter fix, I make an apple dip by mixing it with cinnamon and water. I also have a favorite brand of protein shake that is lower in calorie and includes some added vitamins.

Weighing food has helped train my eye so that I can more accurately estimate what a proper portion is. It’s a learning tool as much as it is a tool to help me know exactly what’s going into me.

Along with understanding appetite and what causes cravings, thinking of my food as a “budget” helps me out a lot. When I want a huge bowl of noodles I think “is this actually going to satisfy me or is this going to make me want more, when I’ve already reached my limit? What could I do to this so I still get my noodles but I’m better satisfied?” So I’ll cut my noodle portion in half and add veggies. Or I’ll think “this looks delicious but if I start eating it, is the normal portion really going to be worth it, when I’ll just want more and this other thing will be better for me?”

Understanding not only when we are hungry, but why, really helps when we’re trying to retrain ourselves. It can be the difference between steady success and yo-yo dieting. It can also make our journey a whole lot more comfortable!

Unleash the power of snacking

If you’re anything like me and a bunch of other people, you want to start 2020 on the right foot.  For many of us, healthy eating habits are something we’re working on.  One of my biggest pitfalls was snacking… what I call “getting a case of the nibbles.”  I wasn’t really hungry but my mouth was bored.  It would often happen when I was working online, or at my actual job working, or driving.

I’ve started seriously logging my calories lately as well as working out a lot more (okay, working out at all – I didn’t start till December 10)  so that’s been pretty eye opening.  The logging is working because I’m finally being honest with myself about what I’m putting in, what macronutrients it’s made of, and what vitamins, etc, I’m getting.

Since I’ve started thinking of my daily 1700 calories as a kind of budget, I’ve naturally started thinking of snacking in a different way  Basically, if I were to eat something not so great for me, like a bowl of my wife’s fantastic stroganoff or a slice of pizza or something, I want to really enjoy it, right?  Because I can’t in good conscience go back for seconds.  I don’t want the calories to just go into my mouth and not even notice them.  It would be like saving up to go to a concert then not listening to the music!

Since I’m prone to mindless snacking though, I use that as a time to get good food into me.  For example, I’m honestly not super duper fond of mini bell peppers.  However, they don’t really taste bad and they have amazing amounts of nutrients in them.  So when I’m bored I bust out my daily six mini peppers.  I can mindlessly eat those – when I’m done I’ll feel better, have a shot of vitamins, and my mouth will have had something to do.  I also won’t be on the carb spike/crash cycle that will just have me snacking again.

So yeah!  Mindless snacking, when used correctly, can be a weight loss strategy!  Who knew?

Some good items to mindlessly snack:

Mini bell peppers

Regular red, yellow, and orange bell peppers (more nutritious and green) cut up with seasonings on them

Jicama matchsticks with appropriate seasonings

An apple, cut up with cinnamon on it

Carrot sticks

Cucumbers

Celery

Snow Peas or Sugar Snap Peas

Broccoli florets

…and more!  Just watch out for the high cal sauces and dips.

 

shallow focus photography of yellow and red bell peppers in basket
Photo by Nick Collins on Pexels.com

The amazing pineapple cure!

There is an amazing new cure that has been discovered, which will bless all humanity.  The results speak for themselves.  In the words of Jane Shirtwhistle of Toledo, Ohio:

“I used to weigh 462 pounds on a 4’11” frame.  This was caused by eating fast food all the time and never using anything but the drive through.  I had acne everywhere, I didn’t want to leave the house.  I was tired all the time.  I couldn’t digest my food properly either and I was bloated for most of the day.  My life was miserable!  I tried doctor after doctor, medication after medication.  By the end of 2017 I was taking 23 pills a day with no relief.  My dogs were bored because I wouldn’t walk with them.   I wasn’t sure where to turn.

“Finally my best friend, who is a raw foods advocate and has an organic pineapple farm, convinced me to try the pineapple cure.  She sold me a juicer and showed me how to shave the rind and crown leaves into strands fine enough to consume.  It was pretty fibrous but I persevered, drinking lots of filtered water along with it.

“At first it was really hard, eating a whole, organic pineapple a day, and the strings kept getting caught in my teeth.  I wanted my burgers and pizza and french fries and everything else I was  used to.  But in less than a day, nearly all cravings stopped.  I added lemon to my water and the rest of them stopped.  I started sleeping through the night and my acne was gone within a week.

“After the first week of eating one whole pineapple and a gallon of a day, I noticed that my hair stopped falling out and my blemishes were going away.  My body felt nourished.  I started having energy.  My friend guided me to adding salads for my evening meal but she reminded me not to add anything else.  She explained that I started moving around more.

“It’s been six months since the pineapple cure.  I’ve lost over a hundred pounds and am still losing.  I’m able to just eat half an organic pineapple a day, along with a gallon of water and triple washed, organic vegetables and fruits that I grow in my garden.  I’ve learned that the skin of the pineapple and the leaves help replenish the nutrients that we no longer get with our nutrient poor, Westernized diet.  I am off all my medications and I’m once again enjoying walks with my dogs.  I feel energized, revitalized and like I am in control of my life again.  Thank you, pineapple cure!”

You, too, can be like Jane.  If you want to eat a whole organic pineapple a day, you can, and it will have incredible benefits.  But you no longer have to.  For just a few dollars a day, you can use our freeze dried and purified pineapple powder, certified to contain all parts of the plant for a nourishing, whole health solution.  It comes in easy to use packets that are convenient for work, home, and travel.  You will enjoy lymphatic purification, whole body fat reduction, a cessation to cravings, stronger, healthier skin and hair, and a revitalized outlook on life.  It is the easiest, safest, most convenient way to gain control over your health and your life.  Some of our successful patients have also reported that mood disorders have disappeared, and they no longer need psychiatric medications.  We offer a money back guarantee, but you won’t regret trying our pineapple cure!

Of course, this is not something I’m truly suggesting.  It’s an example of what happens when quack cures are supported by testimonial based “evidence.”  I wrote this up out of whole cloth to demonstrate the key warning signs to look out for when trying to avoid quackery.  It’s getting harder to avoid, too, because quacks are getting better and better at slinging believable sounding medical terminology.

Here are some things to look out for when watching out for quackery:

Authors who only have degrees outside the medical profession.  For example, one totally quacktastic book I just read was written by someone who started out as a chemist and then had “thirty years in private practice” with no mention of medical credentials.  Chemistry is important to biology, of course, but you also need a good knowledge of physiology and a host of other subjects.

Textwalls containing lots of big words that don’t necessarily go together.  Some quacks will try to dazzle you with twenty dollar words that they hope you won’t analyze.

Testimonials.  If there’s no mention of peer reviewed studies, watch out.  Testimonials are often just made up by an imaginative writer but they can be strangely convincing.

Mention of parasites.  For the sake of good taste, I didn’t include passing a giant worm as part of what my “patient” went through, but that often comes up.  When in doubt, gross ’em out!  It deactivates the logic centers in your brain.

An overly restrictive plan.  Most of the time when someone says “you can lose x amount of weight by only drinking some exotic shake, eating some exotic fruit, etc, you can look out for the sound of ducks.

Hearkening to the “golden age.”  The fallacy of the golden age is commonly used.  Though there is a grain of truth to it, there’s usually a lot of exaggeration meant to scare you into opening your wallet.  Basically, it boils down to “we eat and drink nothing but poisons now, it’s a wonder we’re not all dead, when just a hundred years ago the soil was clean and the air was clean and everybody was happy and the kids were all well behaved and nobody was fat and there was a rainbow every day.”

The “Cure” being an exclusive line of products.  Obviously, this is a clear sign that someone’s main interest is selling you something.

Medically significant conditions cured by insignificant actions.  Again, there is sometimes a grain of truth to this, but in general you aren’t going to cure a significant disease just by eating a certain food or taking a certain supplement.  Especially if that supplement only provides testimonials as proof.

Any mention of homeopathy.  Again, for the sake of good taste, I didn’t put that in the testimonial, but take a really hard look at anyone who advocates homeopathic remedies.  You can see why by looking at the history of the “remedy,” and The Economist featured a good article about it here. 

Remember – don’t believe me just because I said it, think about what I said and the examples I gave and see if it make sense to you.  We all owe it to ourselves to evaluate what we do with our own health, get a good understanding of what’s involved, and question things if they don’t make sense.

Update on Nezumi

Recently I wrote an article on Katzenworld about how to tempt older cats to eat.  I was inspired to do this because I’m going through my own struggles with a 13 year old cat who has recently stopped acting kittenish, turned her calico nose up at food, and decided to open account at the local veterinary clinic.

Her blood test just acme back and the good news is that her kidneys, liver and thyroid are operating just fine.  According to the last visit she is also not feverish or dehydrated.  Eyes, ears, teeth and elimination habits fine.  But she’s also just under 7 pounds when she should be at least 10.

Anyway, the vet found a mass in her intestinal area, they think it’s likely lymphoma.  I think it’s likely a slow growing form of lymphoma, quite pragmatically because she’s still here, and though her decline has taken a few months, she’s still bright eyed and with us.  They started her on metoclopramide to help with her digestion and tomorrow I’ll fill her first prescription of prednisolone topical, something to rub on her ear flap, to help shrink the mass.  I’m glad about that one, she hates taking anything by mouth.

The pharmacist was amusing, by the way, when I went to pick up her medicine.  It’s a liquid, vanilla flavored if Nezumi cares about that, and I had to tell them I didn’t know her birth date because she’s a cat!  They understood but there was a slightly awkward pause when the older, white coated gentleman would have normally started to launch into a litany of possible side effects.

“Well, I suppose there could be drowsiness,” he said.

“It’s okay, I’ll be checking the usual veterinary databases,” I said, and wished him a good day.

It’s easier to think of it as a mass… rather than cancer, which is what it really is, even if it’s a slow growing one… and I hope it doesn’t grow in a direction that would block anything important.  There’s lots of hope here, partly because I need to stay functional, but also because she picks up on my every mood.  So does my spouse, and I don’t want to add to her already great burden of worry.  She has her own health issues, after all, the wages of doing hard and toxic jobs when she was younger.  Non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis isn’t fun, and neither is rheumatoid arthritis.  She and our slightly arthritic little feline understand each other quite well.

So I talk to Nezumi and I pet her and I protect her waifish nibbling self from the sturdy scoffer who is a proud 17 years of age and is used to eating very rapidly.  And I tell her she’s going to feel better soon, and I brush her and tell her she’s beautiful.  One way or another, it’s all absolutely true.

 

 

How to Become a Morning Person

Are you a night owl?

Would you rather be a morning person, either because of personal aspiration or because you have a job that requires you to wake up early?  It can be pretty rough to have to wake up early when it’s literally painful to hear that alarm and get up, head still foggy, wanting to stay in bed.

I was that way for most of my life.  I naturally was a night owl who preferred to get to bed at two or three in the morning and get up around nine or ten.  I hated, hated, hated to get up early and just couldn’t go to bed much earlier than midnight.  The alarm was physically painful and triggered an adrenaline dump, causing me to always be grumpy in the morning.

At this point I get up at five for most of the week, and maybe six or six thirty on days off, but rarely later than that.  I feel pretty good and I’m nearly as grumpy as I once was.  I do go to bed at ten, but I fall asleep right away and get proper rest.

If you’re interested in doing this too, here’s how I did it!

First, I grew up.  I don’t mean I’m more mature and that’s why I get up early, but rather that my brain developed to the point that I wasn’t quite as predisposed to be a night owl.  People in their teens and early twenties naturally need a little more rest and physiologically will sleep late if given a choice.  However, that wasn’t all, as I still had trouble getting up early in my mid thirties.

I tapped in to what motivates me.  My job got dramatically better and so I didn’t hate the thought of getting up for that reason.  You don’t have to get a new job though, because even when I had a terrible job it was easier to get up on days when I had a personal project that interested me.

I found a less disruptive and jarring way to wake up.  In this case, since I have to wake up in the dark, a light-based alarm clock with a dawn simulation really helped.  The light starts out soft and gets gradually brighter, triggering my brain to wake me up gently and naturally, and there is an alarm at the end that in case I manage to sleep through all the light.  This is the one I use, I like it because it’s rechargeable, inexpensive and not hard to use.

I kept my sleep schedule consistent.  That is a good idea anyway, and your brain will learn to fall asleep earlier if you stay with it and don’t ‘cheat’ too much.  You will also get better quality sleep.

I started my new routine at a time when my life was disrupted anyway, and I was unusually tired and ready to go to bed early anyway. When my life settled out I was already on my new schedule.

I don’t wake up right before I have to leave.  I give myself a little extra time to wake up and work on things before I have to be out the door.  This gives time to be creative, or to have breakfast if I want it, and it is a peaceful and often productive period.  For me, this lasts about an hour.

I don’t use ‘snooze.’  That little bit of extra sleep is rarely truly restful.  When I wake up early, if I don’t have at least forty five minutes more to sleep, I just get up for good.

I also sometimes have some tea or coffee in the morning, and I also sometimes have a balanced, light breakfast.  Those are both good ideas that can help you but I have an easy time in the morning even when I don’t do them, so I can’t trace my success to those activities.  I also have a shower first thing, which helps a little, but that doesn’t explain this new behavior either.

Though it pays to know yourself and understand your own personal needs, if you want to acquire a new habit like this it’s well worth it.  The traffic is better early in the morning, the grocery shopping quicker and easier with fresher produce and full stocks, and for many people, a creative peak occurs in the morning!

Swinging that blue lightsaber

A wise friend of mine said once, “some days it all comes down to whether you’re swinging a red, or a blue lightsaber.”

He was talking about the basic question of whether you will be a force for good or bad.  Will you be self centered or generous?  Gloomy or sunny?  Will you give or will you take?

Some days the world seems so depleted.  It’s amazing how little it takes to give a bit back.  I’m not even talking about charities, money, volunteer work or anything like that.  Those things are great, but it takes so little effort to spread some cheer around.

Today I wrote a letter, a real actual letter, on paper with a pen, and I mailed it to my favorite blog.  I sincerely thanked the founders for all they have done to enrich my life.  I’d been meaning to do that for a couple of years now and it’s embarrassing to recall how long it took me to finally do it.  Just one sheet of paper, and envelope and a stamp – but it was a swing of the saber, and a shot against the darkness.

A sincere thank you goes such a long way.  My current job is so much better than the one I had last year, and much of that is because I feel appreciated.  A smile in the grocery store, letting someone into traffic, a friendly wave to a neighbor, a sincere compliment.  We can show appreciation and share cheer with family and friends as well as strangers.

So cheap, so simple, and so priceless.  It makes you feel good, it makes them feel good, it builds community, and it begins to fill up what’s been depleted.

Thank you for reading!  I appreciate you!

 

via Daily Prompt: Deplete

Warning: I was almost eaten by the Clutter Monster

And when they come to look at that spare room they had to take soundings before they could navigate it.

Mark Twain

I had that room.

I’m great at collecting, which leads to accumulating stunning amounts of stuff.  I’ve done a lot of crafting and I’m an artist who sometimes work in analog. At the same time I’ve always hated cleaning.

Unsurprisingly, when I was young, my room was a staggering mess.  Most of the time there was just a walkway to get through it, or maybe a patch of cleared floor, and stuff all over.  Clothes, toys, art materials, books, half finished projects.

My favorite place to dump my extra stuff was my closet.  It was big and I didn’t have to live in it.

Later, my favorite place to dump my extra stuff was under my raised bed-platform.   Again, lots of space, no organization, and I didn’t have to live there.

If somebody said “clean your room,” it was like a death knell!

I had way too much stuff.

I had nowhere to put it.

That worked together to make cleaning nearly impossible, so I did it as little as I could.

So I got used to the mess.  I thought I was just naturally messy, and that couldn’t change.

Then I visited a neighbor who actually had bags of garbage in her living room, and lived with a chicken and a dog.  Trash was piled everywhere, ground into every surface, and there was no cleaning that place.  Later I started working, became an in-home caregiver, and saw things that were just as bad.

I’m talking stacks of dishes in the sink and all over the counter, mounds of unidentified stuff all over the house, baskets and baskets of dirty laundry, piles of cheap plastic objects, outgrown toys, disposable items, stuff piled in the closets in stacks so high that you couldn’t hang anything in them, half finished craft projects, and I was seeing a pattern.  Health hazards, tripping hazards, allergy sufferers beware!

Helping to clean up those messes helped me realize I didn’t want to end up like them, and I was closer than I thought I was.

How does a person get to that state?  Where they are ruled by the mess and it’s almost too bad to clean?  W

I know that I got a lot of my habits from relatives who, through utter necessity, always kept a lot of things around.  When you don’t have a lot of money, you tend to save things because you might need them later.  To make things harder, you don’t always have access to the best shelving or cabinets either, and when something breaks you often keep it around in case you can fix it later.  Not only that, but you are usually having to live in a very small house or apartment, so that makes it even more difficult to be organized.

Under those circumstances, it’s all too easy for the stuff to start owning you.  chaos-227971_640

I rejoice to see the decluttering sites and blogs out there.  My own Mom is preparing for a move and is beginning to see the decluttering light.  I heartily applaud her efforts!  Especially because the beginning of this journey can be a painful one.   Yet, I know she’ll make it, because her goal is something that’s very important to her.

If you are going to do something big and life changing, you need a solid goal that you want very badly.  For example, my Mom is moving into a beautiful 100 year old house that could be a museum, and she wants to live in a way that enhances that house, and not fill it with mismatched stuff.

When I did my first big purge, though utter necessity, it felt like I was throwing away memories.  When I gave away things people had given me out of love, it felt like I was throwing away their love.  I got rid of some very precious things during that time, because I simply couldn’t take them.   Do I keep a precious piece of art, or ten kilos of beans?  Well, which will feed me when I’m hungry?  Which will fit in the one vehicle I am able to pack things into?   There were many hard decisions.

I had to realize that my friends and family members’ love was still there, and mine for them.  The memories were still there.  They were in your head and in my heart.  That connection didn’t go away.  But most of the stuff did.  Ultimately, I kept the precious things where they belonged and then gave away the husks, the mementos, so that they could bring others joy.

I was able to keep a few things in storage, which helped me make some of those hard decisions.  I asked that person to safeguard my DVDs and CDs, and some of my art.

Do you know what I did when I got my other stuff back, much later?  I rehomed some of it, too.  What I had been so eager to save, really wasn’t needed anymore.  I’m really grateful to that friend for saving those things – I was definitely happy to get my media back.  However, it was also a very important lesson about what I really needed.

At this moment, I still have too much stuff in my house.  That’s because I’m a producing artist, married to someone who builds lightsabers.  That means equipment and materials.  I have that stuff organized though and I’m constantly thinking of old things to get rid of.  I no longer have stacks of books and papers.  The art materials have homes.  My clothes are actually organized so I can find everything.  Everything in the kitchen has a place.  You can see all the floors in our little apartment, and it’s easier to keep things clean.  I feel much freer.

I’m not tied down to junk.  Since it’s easier to keep the place clean, it’s also better for my allergies.  I don’t do caregiving anymore, and all honor to those who still do.  So I don’t have to deal with other people’s houses anymore either!

I wish my Mom well on this path toward freedom.  Maybe she’ll learn the sweet taste of organization, and having more space to move around in.  She’s already made a lot of progress and I’m proud of her for it.

For anyone who wants to talk that same path, the way to less clutter is pretty simple.

The first rule is, have and get less things.  Figure out what’s essential to what you need.

Have more places to keep things, like cabinets, shelves, etc.  Racks and specialty storage are good if you have a hobby that requires a lot of stuff.

Have some kind of system, so you don’t lose stuff and you can get to it.  That could be as simple as “keep all the tools together.”

The one year rule – unless you have a really good reason, if you haven’t looked at something in a year, you probably don’t need it.

Decluttering isn’t about having less stuff as much as it is about having more room in your life to do things.  There’s less time spent cleaning, you will feel more relaxed, and you will have a lot easier time when you have to move!

I no longer need soundings to navigate my room – all my floors are visible so I don’t even need a map!

 

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via Daily Prompt: Warning

Tending my health with “Fire Cider”

It’s cold and flu season where I am, and I am in the middle of helping teach a class of forty two adults, many of whom have little germ factories, I mean, kids!  This is in a highly populated building and I also have shopping and errands to do.  I also have narrow airways and wimpy sinuses.  Needless to say, I need something to help keep me well!

Enter Fire Cider.

This is a potent concoction consisting of apple cider vinegar that has had all kinds of good things soaking in it – like garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric root, horseradish, chili peppers, citrus, as well as various other herbs and spices depending on need and taste.  It steeps for about a month in a glass jar and then you take it by the tablespoonful.  You can mix it with raw honey, water, or both.  I use water currently and can deal with it just fine.  In fact, it’s tasty – I used a smoked chili in my mix so it has a lovely flavor.

If you don’t like heat, you can make this with weaker peppers, or fewer of them.  The onion and garlic really don’t make it that much hotter.  Some might not be able to handle the horseradish, but if that’s you, you can leave it out.  However, as for me…

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Anyway.  The whole point of Fire Cider is to harness all the good properties of these different roots and herbs in a way that doesn’t have you downing a bottle of supplement pills every day.

So far I have not been taking the full Fire Cider, but rather a concoction I made to use while the main batch is steeping – it contains ginger, black pepper, turmeric root, smoked dried chiles, onion, garlic, lemon from my boss’s tree (including peel since he doesn’t use pesticides), and organic apple cider vinegar.  It has many of the good properties of the main batch but probably isn’t as potent.

However, even this lesser batch has had the following clearly noticeable effects:

Improved energy (I use it sometimes instead of coffee)

Better digestion (there’s that ACV)

Improved mood

Better circulation (my legs don’t swell as much now)

And, this is the best part, I HAVEN’T GOTTEN SICK.  This is despite working very closely (like within inches) of people with various colds and strains of the flu.  In fact, when I start feeling run down, I just take extra and it seems to help.  Of course, during the wort days I did augment with extra garlic.  Still, I’m very pleased and am looking forward to starting the big batch at the end of the month!

For anyone who wants good info about how to make this, and more detail on the therapeutic properties, check out these two links:

The Organic Prepper Fire Cider making article, with video (includes “instant” version)

Mountain Rose Herbs Fire Cider article and recipe

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tend/

Profuse Excuses

Do you have a profusion of excuses for why you aren’t succeeding?

I know I do!

The secret to success is eliminating those roadblocks to success.  The first step is to admit they’re there, the next step is to identify them, then you admit it’s possible to overcome them, then you find ways to do so.

Sounds like a lot of work, right?  Not so fast – the first three steps take maybe a minute. 

Let’s use weight loss for an example.  And my own excuses – I make a great guinea pig.  After all, I’ve been known to squeak loudly at opening refrigerator doors!  I know I won’t really lose weight until I figure out what my excuses are, my roadblocks to success.

A good way to do this is to find times where I failed in the past, figure out why I failed, and come up with strategies to avoid the same problems this time.  Usually, there’s an excuse behind everything.

“I can’t stay on a diet, I get too hungry.”

Okay, I got too hungry.  That was my roadblock.  So I design a plan with lots of low calorie foods so I can be constantly eating.  Or I stay low carb and high protein, because that naturally makes my hunger go away.  Excuse nullified.

“I don’t have time to work out.” 

There’s about half a million ways to sneak in exercise, as seen in this article for example, and they are all great excuse busters.

“I get bored.”

Great excuse as that has been the biggest roadblock to many of my weight loss efforts.  So I switch out my healthy snacks, I use music when I work out, I seek variety.

“I don’t have enough money to eat healthy food.”

Another really good excuse.  Good thing vegetables are cheap, so are eggs, and it costs less to cook at home!  Roadblock removed, excuse nullified.

Once I have my biggest excuses identified, I am free to think of creative strategies to stop them in their tracks.  Then all that’s left is to take action!  A well planned strategy to overcome your own difficulties can eliminate your excuses.  This idea works for many personal struggles.  Budget, working out, losing weight, improvements at work, playing with your kids, and really whatever you want to do.

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/profuse/

Your strategy for an effective first aid kit

I never buy commercial first aid kits.  They either contain too much junk I’ll never use, too little of what I will use, are too expensive, or all three at the same time!

I like inexpensive and effective.

Luckily, it’s not that hard to build a decent first aid kit without breaking the bank, having to go to EMT training, or sacrifice quality.

Start by identifying  your basic needs.  What does your kit need to treat?  Where are you going to carry it?  How tough does it need to be?  Who are you going to help with it, and for how long?  I have one kit for my trunk, another for my closet, and I carry basic necessities in my purse, sans case.

Once you know what you want to treat, who you are using it for, and where you are carrying it, break it down a little farther.

Basic medical needs include wound care, illness treatment, and protection against germs.

Therefore, you want to pick good things to clean a wound or irritated area with, like alcohol, peroxide, wet wipes, saline, etc.

You need gloves to protect your hands – nitrile is good to prevent latex allergy and you can get them cheaply at any drug store and even most dollar stores.

You need something to treat and cover wounds with, such as antibiotic ointment, gauze, tape, band aids, etc.

You need to be able to treat basic health issues – allergies, diarrhea, pain, inflammation, and nausea at a minimum.  Luckily, that’s easy and cheap to do.

You can safely ignore useless items like tiny band aids, itty-bitty alcohol wipes that dry out quickly and are useless anyway, or anything that comes in a quantity too tiny to use.  That’s what makes up half of the commercial first aid kits I’ve seen.

Finally, you need cutting implements for dealing with tape and gauze, as well as a tweezers and a good container to put everything in.  That container should be sturdy and organize things well.  I use a small backpack in my trunk and plastic tubs in my closet.  Tackle boxes and tool bags are good too.

Here are some suggested kit items for Car, Closet, and Pocket.  You will find that they are quite available at your local 99 cent only store, Dollar Tree, grocery store, and pharmacy.  Buy generics freely except for the Neosporin – that truly is better in the brand name.

 

Closet Kit

Isopropyl Alcohol

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hand sanitizer

Bottled water or saline

Gloves

Epsom Salts –  for foot soaks or as a laxative

Calcium based Antacid –  for both helping stomach trouble and for muscle cramps

Aspirin – anti-fever and pain treatment

Neosporin or similar ointment

Anti itch gel – I like Calamine lotion, and Benadryl anti-itch gel.

Allergy medicine – Benadryl or generic (good for treating allergies and as a sleep aid)

Other medicines for diarrhea, nausea, allergies, pain, etc

Band-aids, including butterfly bandages, 2 inch giant bandages, etc

Gauze – both squares and roll gauze

Tape – both medical and athletic, plus at least one Ace bandage

Finger splint

Scissors

Tweezers

A good, sharp knife

A flashlight for seeing dark areas of the body

Plastic tubs or tackle boxes to put it in

Car Kit

For your car, you can pack smaller versions of most of the above and put it in a day pack for easy carry.  Some bulky items can be left out or reduced.  I wouldn’t worry about the epsom salts, for example, but would replace them with a portable ice pack.  Focus more on wound care and cleaning items.  Rotate items regularly since everything is being exposed to extremes of temperature.

Pocket

An Altoids tin with a few aspirin, a couple allergy pills, some band aids, and a wet wipe or two is good for starters.  That with your pocket knife can go a long way.

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This has been a very basic overview of the beginnings of creating a first aid kit.  I wanted to give you a start, and if there’s interest I’ll go much more in depth in the future.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/strategy/