Posted in know better do better, mindset, physical health

We’ve been duped

We’ve been duped.

We’ve been trained to believe that we’re not clean unless the cleaner is bubbly.

We’ve been trained to believe that we need a different type of cleaner for every surface in our homes.

We’ve been trained to believe that we need a lot of it in order for it to be effective.

We’ve been trained that making it all anti-bacterial makes it even better.

We’ve been trained to believe that as long as we don’t ingest it, it’s all safe.

It’s all false.

We can use just a little.

It doesn’t need to be foamy.

We can use the same products on almost everything.

Anti-bacterial is causing a wide range of problems, from loss of good bacteria to resistant bacteria.

Ingesting is only one way to get it into our bodies.

You can clean most of your house (and body, for that matter) with baking soda and vinegar. It doesn’t foam. (Well, it does if you mix them. Fun to watch, but not super effective for cleaning.) 

What to do about it?

First, recognize that what we’ve been taught was based on making money, not based on being clean or being safe. (The history of toothpaste marketing is an interesting one, for example…)

Second, try something different in one area of cleaning.

If your brain adapts to that pretty well, add another. In no time, you end up with fewer bottles of toxic chemicals in your house (extra nice if you have small children—one less thing to worry about!), more dollars in your wallet, and fewer toxins in your body.

It’s win-win-win. The only thing stopping you is your mindset.

Posted in about me, food, know better do better, mindset, motivation, physical health

The journey begins with a single step

When I graduated from college in 1999, I was pretty heavy — over 200 pounds on my 5-foot-4-inch frame.

Near the end of my first year living on my own, I decided that something needed to change, so I made a new rule:

I will eat ice cream no more than once per day.

If this sounds silly to you, it’s because you have no idea my love affair with ice cream. I ate it by the pint. Literally.

There was a great little place called Halo Farms right near college, and they made their own ice cream on site. Sold pints for $1. It was fantastic.

In the dorm, there wasn’t a freezer that would accommodate a pint-sized container (those little fridges have even smaller freezers) and I couldn’t waste it, could I? (Well, eventually I lived in a dorm that had a communal freezer, but I didn’t want someone else to eat my precious Halo!)

Campus dining room: soft serve in place of milk in my morning cereal. The best with Cap’n Crunch.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the Freshman 15 (and Sophomore 15 … and Junior 15 … and Senior 15…) came from. I’m not a drinker—it wasn’t from beer.

When I lived on my own, I would keep a half gallon in the freezer. Ice cream for (or with) breakfast remained on the menu. Ice cream after dinner is what ice cream is for. And sometimes, on days when I wasn’t working, there might be a third (or fourth…) serving in between.

Once a day was no easy feat.

It caused me to be thoughtful and to plan a little. If I knew I was going out for ice cream later with a friend, I couldn’t have ice cream for breakfast. Which brought me to the realization that perhaps I shouldn’t keep it in the freezer.

It worked. In the nearly 20 years since then, I have had ice cream twice in one day very few times, and they have been closer to now than then.

I still don’t buy it to keep at home—that helps the most—though by this point I don’t usually crave it. When I do eat ice cream, I can almost always eat a fairly small amount and be content. (Even if I eat too much now, it’s still substantially less than what used to be a serving.) It was hard for a while to stop at “content” and not at “but this is good so I’m just going to keep eating anyway.” It took time, but it worked. 

And it was worth it. Because ice cream is good, but it doesn’t taste as good as being healthy feels. (Yeah, I know that sounds hokey, but I just don’t feel as good or have as much energy when I eat sugary foods. You don’t realize it until you cut them out. False friends, all of them!)

You know what was harder than limiting consumption? Being OK with dropping the “ice cream lover” label. It was part of who I was. One of my badges. Everyone who knew me at all knew I loved ice cream.

The problem wasn’t even that people didn’t change with me. I just had to let my brain catch up to my habits. Not stand in the way of myself.

I do still enjoy ice cream, but I don’t think it would be in the top five ways friends would describe me at this point. Definitely not in my top five for myself.

So. Pick a thing and go with it. It will be hard, but it will be worth it.

Posted in audience participation, connections, ebb & flow, know better do better, mindset, motivation, parenting, physical health, thoughtfulness

Know better, do better: your dollars

The short version: my goal is to help people be educated so they can make decisions in an informed way.

I am not trying to scare people or to be a downer, though I acknowledge that these days, most of the news is bad news.

The fact is that in a capitalistic society, the main goal is to make money. The people who produce food, who create processed foods, who make cosmetics, soaps, detergents, toys, furniture, clothes are all in it to make money.

Making money is not inherently bad. We need to make money to function in society as it exists. 

But making money has become The Most Important Thing. More important than families. More important than our own or others’ health. More important than honesty or integrity.

As a result, it’s all gone to hell.

Problems in the food supply are real. Problems with the water supply are real. Problems with the chemicals in our personal care products are real. Problems with the chemicals in toys are real. Problems with the chemicals in our household goods are real.

Most of the time, the exposures are low. (Corn, soy, sweeteners including but not limited to sugar are exceptions—exposures to these are off the charts.) But when you put them all together, they’re not low at all.

Is this reality scary? Yes. Does it mean you need to live in constant paranoia? No. Does it mean you need to throw away everything and start over right now? No.

But if we all keep on living as if nothing was wrong, they’re going to keep manufacturing as if it’s OK. We pay the price with our health, our children’s health, and all aspects of the environment.

One step back from that—we can’t decide if we want to make changes or take a stand if we don’t know what’s going on.

So we need to be educated. (That’s my job! To help educate.)

Then we need to speak out with our voices. (If nothing else, online petitions take almost no time to sign.)

But even more than that, we need to speak with our dollars. Because in America, dollars speak louder than anything else.

Posted in connections, mindset, motivation, physical health, thoughtfulness, tips

A letter to my future self

June 15, 2000

Dear 35-year-old Heat,

I’ve finally admitted to myself something that I’ve been denying or avoiding for a long time: I’m fat, and I’m rapidly getting fatter. I’m 70 pounds heavier than I was when I graduated high school just 7 years ago.

I could blame it on genetics, Heat. Mom is fat. Dad is fat. Their siblings and parents are/were all fat. 

But blaming it on genetics only allows me to continue to live in denial. They were all slender in their youths—they just didn’t (and still don’t) take care of themselves. I’m strong enough that I can look at this face-to-face and own it.

It’s my fault I’m fat.

Heat, I decided today that I’m going to eat less ice cream. I hope this sounds ridiculous to you, but I’m going to limit myself to one serving every day. It’s going to be hard. I’m not even worried yet about how much is in one serving. But my eating habits are out of control, and this seems like a good place to start.

I’m doing this for you, Heat. In the here and now, I just want to eat. But—thanks to the generations in front of me—I see what that does. I don’t want that to be my story, too, but the only way to stop it is to start to change now. It doesn’t happen overnight.

I know you’ll appreciate this change. I hope that you’ll pay it forward to 45-year-old Heat.

Sincerely,

25-year-old Heat

You’re looking at a dessert menu, deciding whether or not to order dessert. Do you defer to yourself right now, someone you know, someone who is here right now? Or do you honor yourself in the future, someone who is a stranger, someone who’s not sitting at the table with you?

As it turns out, it’s easy to ignore our future selves because they’re strangers. And because they’re not here right now.

A few little studies have popped up—all in the realm of personal finance, but I believe they still apply.

What the studies found was that people who felt more connected to their future selves were more likely to make decisions that benefitted their future selves. People who felt disconnected from their future were more likely to give in to immediate desires.

You can read about those here and here, or watch a great TED talks about it here and here. (That second one is about how language affects future-oriented behavior. I thought it was fascinating!)

What does that have to do with health and wellness?

Everything.

What you eat has an effect on you … later.

How much you exercise, and at what intensity, and for how long, all affect you. Later.

So how can you become better-connected with your future self to help you make better decisions now?

Well, you can use the website referenced in this article (also linked above) to get a picture of yourself down the line. Or if you have a vivid imagination (or strong family resemblances), use your imagination.

Once you have a picture, either in front of you or in your mind, get to know that person a little. What do they like? What are their values? What are their struggles? What are their fears? Do you feel acquainted?

For me, it’s the struggles and fears that really motivate me now.

I’ve been through chemo, so I know what kind of toll that takes on a young, healthy body. It can only be worse on an older and/or less healthy body.

I see friends, relatives, coworkers struggle against chronic disease. I’ve seen them go through massive surgeries to try to repair themselves.

I don’t know what the life expectancy is of healthy people in my family. No one in my parents’ generation or their parents’ generation have taken care of themselves. One side of the family is littered with auto-immune disorders; the other has a solid disposition to heart disease.

My past self was ever indulgent. Fortunately, a more recent past self decided it was time to do something and did it. And most of the selves in between kept at it. (And the ones who didn’t keep at it have not done too much damage.)

I know a few people who have journals that they are going to pass onto their kids when their kids get older. They are writing down milestones, things the kids do, etc.

You could do this for your older self as well. Keep a little journal, and tell older you what you did for them today. Tell them why you did it and how it made you feel.

Connecting all of this to emotions will make the experience—and the results—more powerful.

Is the path you’re on now taking you in the direction you want to go? Is your future self at the destination you want?

Do what you can to align with Future You. You’ll be glad you did.

You’re bound to your future self. You can’t escape her. You can alter what she looks like, what she feels like, what her situation is like. What can you do to make her happy? To make YOU happy?

Are you going to try to envision your future self to instigate change? (It’s a little scary, isn’t it? All the more reason to do it!)

Posted in food, physical health

Healthy, frozen summer treat

There are a lot of recipes circulating that claim to be healthy “treat” food. (If we’d stop using language like that, it would take away some of their power.)

Unfortunately, all of the ones I’ve seen and/or tried are either not actually healthy or not actually tasty. Sure, I can make cookies out of oats and applesauce, but the results are unpalatable.

This recipe, however, is different! It is healthy! And it is delicious! (Unless you hate or are allergic to bananas…)

The Safeway near us occasionally has “overripe” bananas for cheap. At least half of the bananas in the bag are at their peak of ripeness — not crunchy, not mushy. Perfect. But the skins have brown spots on them, so people won’t buy them. (People, you are foolish!)

Your folly is my gain! I get a bunch of ripe bananas cheap.

Some of the bananas are a bit past their prime. And by the next day, maybe two, they’re really not delicious to eat any more.

What do you do with overripe bananas? Well, you can make banana bread, but anything with that much sugar in it isn’t really bread—it’s dessert. And while banana bread is delicious, it’s not how I want to spend my calories.

Peel the bananas, break them into pieces, lay them on a plate or a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. No need to cut out minor flaws. After a couple of hours, they’ll be frozen, and you can put them in your storage container of choice. (We’re a glass family here, so no plastic bags.)

In buying a watermelon recently, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. We ate some; the rest we chopped up to eat later.

When later came, we decided to turn it into ice cream. Or a smoothie. Whatever you want to call it.

We put about two frozen bananas and maybe two or three cups of watermelon pieces in the Vitamix, turned it on, and voila! Delicious frozen treat!

Cold, creamy, sweet, perfection!

We did it again a day or two later (these things are a staple in the summer around here), but instead of watermelon, we used peaches. (Organic, please—peaches are on the dirty dozen.)

Actually, we’ve done this one with a variable—with room temperature peaches and with frozen peaches. Frozen peaches win. I was surprised at how different they tasted.

Went to the store, bought two peaches, cut them into chunks, stuck them in the freezer for a couple of hours. (You could also just buy frozen peaches.) Put the peaches and two frozen bananas in the Vitamix. I added a couple of spoonfuls of plain yogurt and a bit of water. With fresh fruit, water isn’t necessary, but if everything in there is frozen, maybe a quarter cup of liquid gets the job done. I would have liked to try almond milk, but we didn’t have any. 

I sometimes will throw in some spinach. If you put in just a handful, it turns the whole thing green, but it doesn’t taste spinach-y. I find that the blender chops frozen spinach more efficiently than fresh. So even when we have fresh, I put it in the freezer. (It freezes really quickly!)

The possibilities and combinations for this are nearly endless. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and nut butters, seeds and seed butters, milks, maybe even a dash of cinnamon or cocoa powder. (Cocoa powder is bitter, so use sparingly.) As long as what you put in it is unsweetened and not highly processed, you should end up with a delicious healthy treat!

You can also take this and pour it into popsicle molds. Yum!