Category Archives: Health

I’m Your Huckleberry

Just letting you all know that God is good! He’s kept me flu-free even to Day Six so I can care for my family. My husband needs your prayers–he succumbed last night and has the grand-daddy of all headaches accompanying the other symptoms. My crit partner, Rhonda, told me about putting two tennis balls in a tube sock, securing them with rubberbands between and at the open end and lying flat on your back with them at the very base of your skull. The balls need to be flush against the base points of your skull, one on each side at the top of your neck. So far, it’s giving dh some relief, and Rhonda says it works great for her migraines.

We’ve had some “hallucination scares” with dd age six when her fever got out of hand–both dh and I bawled and prayed her through them. She was seeing and hearing terrifying things that weren’t happening. I hope we never go through that again.

So, I won’t be blogging till we’re over this hump. Now, if you need foot or back rubs, long made-up stories, chicken soup, fresh drinks on the hour, or freezing cold washcloths for your headaches…

I’m your huckleberry!

Sick Family, Surviving Influenza

Day three of what I’d call influenza…high fever, chills, general malaise, occasional stomach upset. I looked it up online though, and found the following at the CDC website, and by the way, I’m still glad we didn’t get the flu vaccine!

Uncomplicated influenza illness is characterized by the abrupt onset of constitutional and respiratory signs and symptoms (e.g., fever, myalgia, headache, malaise, nonproductive cough, sore throat, and rhinitis). Among children, otitis media, nausea, and vomiting also are commonly reported with influenza illness. Uncomplicated influenza illness typically resolves after 3–7 days for the majority of persons, although cough and malaise can persist for >2 weeks.

We got through the first night by relying on our hand-held radio’s. Yeah, I felt like a night-duty nurse whenever my nine year old pressed the call button. Then last night, I thought I’d recharged the radios but I must not have had them plugged in long enough. At eleven P.M. my fever-flushed girl stumbled out of her room and ended up sleeping in the recliner all night. Since her radio had a low battery I slept on the couch beside her. Poor thing went to bed with a 103.9 temperature. I did give her a fever reducer since it was so high, and bedtime to boot.

Got up early enough today to grab a quick bath before toddler woke crying…and burning with fever.

Six year old feels hot to the touch but won’t let me take her temp. She says she’s “cold” but otherwise acts fine, so I’ll hope for the best. UPDATE: Not acting so fine…she’s joined the ranks…

Nine year old is still running at 101-102 degrees. We’ve had beautiful weather, even into the upper 50’s/lower 60’s which has really been hard on my outside girl! I helped her to the hammock yesterday–all wrapped up in warm blankets and left her armed with a radio while the rest of us girls did the dog chores.

So thankful for praying family and friends! And for juice boxes (I was constantly washing cups), digital thermometers, movies/books…and so far, good patients!

You should see my toddler ensconced on the couch wrapped in her favorite blanket (which she calls “my heavy blankie”–it’s a fleece throw) with a wet washcloth on her forehead. So cute and so sad all at once. I’m always amazed at how sickness affects high energy toddlers.

Well, I’m glad for the weekend starting tomorrow. We’ll be missing 4H Club Days/church/Awanas, but maybe dh will get a day off and be able to help me handle the sickies. The weather is supposed to be crazy all weekend anyway. Remember, if this strikes you guys:

Adults may be infectious and able to spread influenza to others from the day before getting symptoms to approximately 5 days after symptoms start. Children may be infectious and able to spread influenza to others for 10 or more days after symptoms begin.

And everybody, please pray for my friends Jana and Holly. Both of these dear women have 6+ children and they’re going through influenza also.

Love you guys,

Mary

Thursday Happenings

I’m blogging at Writer…Interrupted today on Word Power. More fascinating facts along the lines of my recent post Get Excited About English. I hope you come over and read about American dialects and Shakespeare’s unique contributions to our language…

In the meanwhile, please keep our family in your prayers. My oldest has the flu…her fever peaked at 103.3 and seems to be hovering at 102. Poor little darlin’!

Thanks so much,

Mary

Energy AND Fat Loss Part 3

Today we talk about how starved our bodies are for oxygen and water.

The Importance of Deep Breathing

Straighten up, no slouching! Good posture encourages good breathing and we are lazy, shallow breathing chair slumpers! Okay, even if we don’t slump, chances are we rarely take a good cleansing, belly-distending breath. Think of the productiveness and energy we are missing out on!

In Flip the Switch by Robert K. Cooper, PhD, we read,

Oxygen is the central fuel for metabolism and energy production. When you don’t take in enough oxygen with each breath, your metabolism automatically slows down, your cells are unable to effictively burn off excess body fat or resist turning new calories into stored fat.”

Poor posture contributes to oxygen starvation.”

Wow, something so simple as deep breathing can activate the fat-burning process?

The Importance of Water

Drink plenty of it. In fact, Dr. Cooper says,

A recent medical study showed that sipping 17 oz of ice water can raise metabolism by 30% for 90 straight minutes.”

Lesson #1: Maximize calorie burning by drinking your water cold!

Recent research at the University of Geneva indicates green tea may increase metabolism and fat burning by up to 35%”

Lesson #2: Iced green tea, more power to you! My friend Deborah recommends Calli tea available only through Sunrider International. (I like mine with a twist of lemon or lime!)

Most sources recommend drinking four to six 8-12 ounce glasses of water daily. Dr. Cooper shared that each member in his family carries a 16 oz stainless steel insulated water bottle. They can be bought at thermosonline.com.

When you think that you lose up to two cups of water a day by breathing alone, staying hydrated takes on even greater meaning. (And all that deep breathing you’re going to start doing? Drink up!)

Conclusion:

Activating your metabolism regularly maximizes your energy levels and burns fat. It’s truly the key to fat loss that lasts.

You control the switches that govern metabolism. Not the gym, not the hour that you exercise daily. You don’t need a special program. The key is eating light meals, healthy snacks, and activating your metabolism every 30 minutes throughout the day.

To read Parts 1 and 2:

Energy AND Fat Loss? Read on…

Energy AND Fat Loss Part 2

Energy AND Fat Loss Part 2

In yesterday’s post, I promised to go into more detail on what we can do to boost our metabolism and why we should bother.

To continually activate our metabolism, and raise our energy, we’ll need to explore several things:

  • The importance of breakfast
  • The importance of moving
  • The importance of light
  • The importance of water
  • The importance of deep breathing

I’ll tackle the first three today, and the last two tomorrow. Deal?

The Importance of Breakfast

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Autumn 2003) reported that those who miss breakfast are 4 ½ times more likely to be obese than those who eat a morning meal.

Robert K. Cooper, in his book Flip the Switch says,

In one study, moderately overweight women who regularly skipped breakfast were randomly divided into two groups. One group was asked to eat a low-fat breakfast every morning, while the other group was instructed to continue forgoing the morning meal. After 12 weeks, the breakfast eaters lost significantly more weight than the breakfast skippers.

Along with the fat-burning benefits of the breakfast habit come improved mental alertness, increased energy, more optimism/better attitude, in short, a better day for your buck!

A good breakfast, high in protein and fiber, moderate carb and low-fat will rev up your fat-burning potential for the whole day. Cooper suggests and provides recipes for protein shakes: combinations of milk, low-fat yogurt, whey protein powder, fresh fruit and ice. I cheat (time wise) and make a yogurt parfait, similar to those sold at McDonalds. For one serving layer 1/2 cup fat-free or low-fat vanilla yogurt and ½ cup fresh or frozen fruit (blueberries, kiwis and bananas–my faves) with a tablespoon or two of granola sprinkled on top.

Remember, according to Cooper,

When you skip breakfast, you not only keep the body’s fat burners in “off” mode, you turn on the fat-making process instead. You lose twice!

The Importance of Moving: Activate your energy at regular intervals throughout the day

Simple: Move at every opportunity. Set a timer to remind you to get up from your WIP (work-in-progress for you non-writers) every half hour or so, stretch and rotate your shoulders, breathe deeply, and/or jog in place for 2 minutes.

This activates your nervous, muscular and cardiovascular systems, flipping quite a few switches critical to your body’s metabolism. Just to be clear, the every-half- hour boosts can be as simple as standing, stretching and deep breathing. But make sure to include at least 4 toning exercises at different points throughout the day.

The Importance of Light

In addition to having breakfast, Dr. Cooper also recommends getting up at the same time each day, and upon arising, turn on the bright lights! Sleeping in or hitting the snooze on the alarm repeatedly causes an effect that Cooper calls,

…a jet-lag-like sleep disturbance that leaves you worn out and less alert.”

He talks about bright sunshine as if it’s a plethora of healing and life-giving energy. And isn’t it true? I’ve felt energized upon pulling the shades clear up and feeling the warmth seep into the room around me. He explains,

A brightly lit room has about 500 luxes of light (a lux is the scientific equivalent of the light from a single candle) compared with 10,000 luxes of light at sunrise, and 100,000 luxes of light at noon on a sunny day. To our metabolism, spending a day indoors is virtually the same as spending the day in darkness. It stimulates the inherent physiological processes associated with sleeping and gaining weight.”

There’s that reference to our tendency to want to hibernate like big lazy bears readying for winter.

I’ll finish this up tomorrow, hitting on the importance of water and deep breathing.

Energy AND Fat Loss? Read on…

What if I said you could do a few simple things every half hour to feel good, rev up your energy levels AND kick your metabolism into fat-burning mode?

Still not hooked? I know I can’t be the only one in blogworld that is finding the increased write-time not so good on the figure. Add fiction writing to that and…well, that’s why I’m researching subjects such as fats and fat loss!

Simply implementing a few changes to your hum-drum routine can reap huge benefits:

  • Breathe. Deep-belly-breaths, 5 in a row.
  • Stand up and stretch, get those kinks out.
  • Sip on ice water (hear that inner engine revving? it’s burning calories at a higher rate now!).
  • Lower the thermastat…cool temps make your body work to stay warm.
  • Raise the shades/blinds. A brightly lit environment keeps that inner self humming.

I mentioned Flip the Switch by Robert K. Cooper, PhD yesterday in my post about fats. According to Dr. Cooper, we are living life in hibernation mode. We slump. We yawn. We starve our lungs for oxygen and our bodies for water. We collapse at night in front of our TVs or computers.

“The typical American lifestyle seem to encourage inertia. Driving instead of walking, sitting instead of standing. Desk jobs instead of physical labor.” ~Robert K. Cooper, PhD, Flip the Switch

He brings up the fact that most of our ancestors (just look up some black and white photos) stayed fit without the aid of special diets or memberships to the local gym. The only fast food they ate probably occurred once a year at the county fair. Imagine shaking rugs instead of vacuuming them. Using a laundry tub and elbow grease instead of your man Maytag. Stairs instead of elevators/escalators.

The great thing when you think about it, is that these short bursts of activity throughout the day were all they needed to keep their metabolism revved up, and they stayed fit as a result.

Here’s more from Flip the Switch on the subject,

“They slept deeply in cool bedrooms with the windows open, played physical games instead of computer games, used their inventive minds instead of sitting while a media center beamed passive programming at them. I also suspect, very strongly, that they laughed (far more often than most of us do today) at life’s simple wonders and don’t-miss-it-moments.”

So Flip the Switch is all about flipping the switch of your Meta-stat (metabolism’s thermastat) from hibernation mode to full-speed-calorie-burning-mode. What I really like about the book beyond the author’s easy reading style, is he breaks up these switch-flip-triggers into manageable chapters that make so much sense you find yourself breathing deeply or stretching and immediately feeling the difference. He also devotes time to explaining the various hormones at work in our bodies and how to use them to our benefit. He even has a recipe section, courtesy of his wife Leslie.

Tomorrow, I’m going to post more in depth as to what some of these triggers are and why they’re important. Meanwhile, seriously think about getting this book.

And go have a glass of ice water, or iced green tea with a twist of lemon or lime…right after you drop ten on the office floor!

Nutrition: Facts About Fats

Fats. Foods have them. We eat them. In fact, my family loves them. Dh is threatening to strangle me if I mention one more of his faves that’s full of trans fats. So beware, dear reader. You probably know all this anyway; I did at some point in time. I needed a refresher course, maybe you do too.

The fats in the foods we eat either tend to accumulate in our body’s fat stores or get burned for fuel. That’s bad fats and good fats for you, in a nutshell. So what makes them different? What makes certain ones necessary in moderation?

BAD FATS

Bad fats~in cheeses, red meats, fried and processed foods, and the most harmful of the bad fats: trans fatty acids, aka, trans fats or saturated fats. Why are they bad? They’re the culprits that raise the bad cholesterol (LDL), contribute to obesity, and as a result, render their victim a whopping candidate for heart disease.

Plus, bad fats are usually high in sugar. Ice cream, pastries, chocolate, uh-huh. Calories consumed from these foods are more likely to go straight to fat stores rather than burned for energy. Watch out for:

  • Chips and dips. Especially avoid the deep-fried kind and instead have fat-free tortilla chips or pita chips.
  • Sandwiches. Skip the white breads and have 100% unrefined whole grain bread. Stick to lean deli meats (turkey) and no mayonnaise.
  • High-fat dairy foods~instead of whole milk go with skim, same with cheeses, yogurts, cream substitutes, and solid white shortening.
  • Practically all animal fats are trans fats/saturated fats.
  • Some dietary supplements contain trans fats. Check the labeling.

That bears repeating. Read labels. As of last January 1, 2006, companies were required by the FDA to list the trans fats in their products.

At the American Heart Association website, I found the following:

“Trans fat is formed when liquid vegetable oils go through a chemical process called hydrogenation in which hydrogen is added to make the oils more solid. These hydrogenated fats are used by food processors because they allow longer shelf-life, and give food desirable taste, shape and texture.

And that solidness goes straight to your arteries. My aunt takes part in a “Strategies for Diabetics” class at her local hospital. One of the things she recently wrote me, that was covered in a session on “fats” was this:

“Trans fat is comparable to Crisco. It hardens, stays put and doesn’t need refrigeration. In our veins. You may not notice or feel you have a problem till years later.”

GOOD FATS

Onto the good fats: the unsaturated fats or unsaturated fatty acids. The human body can reproduce all but two of  the many unsaturated fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid) and linolenic acid (omega-6 fatty acid). Because our bodies can’t produce these fatty acids, they’re called essential fatty acids (EFAs). We have to rely on our diet to provide these essentials.

EFAs are important in terms of energy and blood sugar levels. The omega-3 fatty acids, especially, are a huge contributor to the fat burning process.

The problem with EFAs, is that they’re fragile from a chemical perspective. Processing and storage reduce their effectiveness.

Here are some food sources of EFAs and tips:

  • Eat wild salmon or another type of fatty fish at least twice a week. Salmon along with mackerel, trout, and sardines are among the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. (Direct quote from Flip the Switch by Robert K. Cooper, PhD, page 235)

In the same breath, I’d warn you to research these fish as to their mercury levels. Pregnant and lactating women, women of child-bearing age, and young children are warned against eating them.

(Okay back to the list!)

  • Prepare foods with a mono-unsaturated fat like olive, safflower, sunflower, corn, or canola oil (I haven’t used vegetable oil in years, finally, something I’m doing right!)
  • Fish oil, linseed oil, parilla oil. I know very little about these, only that they’re available in supplement form and that you can get too much of them, so be careful.
  • Avacados in moderation (because though they are a good fat, they are still a fat!)
  • Walnuts, almonds, pecans or hazelnuts–again, in moderation.
  • Sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Wheat germ
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Lean meats: Poultry without skin, not fried. Lean beef and pork with visible fat trimmed.
  • Wild game meat. Animals that forage for food, or are farm fed, are rich in EPAs. Grain fed cattle, for instance, aren’t. (running from dh!)

In my search, it was hard to pinpoint an exact dietary suggestion of how many omega-3 fatty acids we should include in our daily diet. Most sources said EPAs should make up at least 1% of our daily caloric allowance. So if you consume 2,500 calories a day, that would translate to 5-7.5 grams of EPAs per day. It seems to be up for debate whether more would be harmful or helpful.

When you research it a bit deeper, you find that EPA is actually the lesser benefit derived from the omega-3 fatty acids. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is also found in omega-3’s, and is necessary for the structure of cell membranes.

But this is where I end my research, dear ones. At least for this day.

Dioxins and Health

I’m really excited about some upcoming posts I have in the works…all to do with health! Be on the lookout here next week as I plan to share from a great book I’ve been reading called Flip the Switch by Robert K. Cooper, PhD. This book is chock full of ways to rev your metabolism, and increase both your energy levels and the amount of fat you burn.

In addition, I’m researching trans fats and essential fatty acids. Am refreshing my facts and learning in the process, all fascinating.

One thing leads to another, and now I’m reviewing dioxins. I used to sell Pycnogenol (in the early 90’s) and so much is coming back to me (duh)… 🙂

Just to grab your attention, dioxins are one of the most toxic substances known to man. They’re part of the “dirty dozen”–a list of toxic substances outlawed by the Stockholm Convention.

A persistent organic pollutant (POP), here are a few things I gleaned regarding dioxin exposure from Wikipedia:

  • dioxin enters the general population through food consumption, primarily through fish, meat and dairy products…beef being the worst source.
  • occupational exposure (such as proximity to herbicides)

Sources accounting for 80% of dioxin emissions (taken directly from Wikipedia):

  • Coal fired utilities
  • Metal smelting
  • Diesel trucks
  • Land application of sewage sludge
  • Burning treated wood
  • Trash burn barrels

Also mentioned as responsible for minute amounts of dioxin were plastics, resins, bleaches, tampons and many food packaging substances.

“The use of these materials means that all modern humans receive (at least) a very small daily dose of dioxins–however, it is disputed whether such exceptionally tiny exposures have any clinical relevance.”

Exposure to dioxin can cause problems from acne to cancer to birth defects to diabetes. That’s why it’s important to keep fit and healthy and eat plenty of antioxidant rich foods. Vitamins A, C, and E are top on the list for antioxidant supplements, subsequently, foods rich in these vitamins are even better!

Blueberries, russet potatoes, small red beans, artichokes, and cinnamon all have antioxidant properties. For more, go here for an interesting line-up.

Antioxidants fight free radical damage to our cells, such as that from dioxins. These toxins accumulate in our bodies, and if left unchecked, over time they destroy cell structures making us more susceptible to disease, premature aging, etc.

I’m not an expert. I’m not an environmental whing-ding. I’m a mom seeking to broaden my knowledge base. If you have anything to add, please feel free. I’m a sponge!

Unique Gifts

Fun topic! Unique gifts… myindoing.jpg

It comes to mind because I was absolutely floored when dh brought in his finished shop project and gave it to the girls the other night. I knew he was working on something, but I was thinking a little more along the lines of…a doll house?

Seems he’s been putting his head together with the surfin’ cowboy (co-worker who takes his vacations surfing in sunny CA) . Dh made each girl their own “Indo Board” for Christmas. Here’s what about.com says about Indo boards:

“Indo Boards are the perfect all around balance trainers for any sport where balance would be key, such as surfing, skateboarding, wakeboarding – in fact, any athlete would benefit greatly from Indoing!

“The Original Indo Board consists of a wooden board and a roller. The board is shaped like an oval, with clear light grip on top (which can be used both bare foot or with skate shoes) and wood catches on the bottom tip and tail to keep the board from flying out from under you if you let it roll too far.”indoboarding.jpg

These boards are SO much fun! Hubby built them out of plywood and painted them with liquid rubber for a great grip. In no time at all, my little prairie girls are going to morph into surfer girls! (Modest ones, of course!) ;O) Best of all, Surfin’ Cowboy gave Dh a DVD instructional video, the one that came with his original Indo board. Hubby had us all sit down to watch it before he surprised us by bringing in the boards.

Got a unique gift to share?

A Recipe for Comfort

Comfort food. When I’m sick, I want my mom’s chicken stew with dumplings. Or my mother-in-law’s chicken and rice casserole. What does it for you?

It’s pouring outside, temps in the thirties, and my family is sick. We’ve all got one form or another of the common cold. The hydrogen peroxide remedy is having to work overtime on this bug! Can’t tell if it’s working yet…seems to be on some of us and not on others! I’ll keep you informed…

I opted to make the chicken and rice casserole tonight. Mainly because it’s very easy, and easy sounded good.

Chicken and Rice Casserole

  • 1 stick butter, melted; in separate small dish melt an additional 2 TB butter
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 3 cups cooked rice (doesn’t matter what kind)
  • 3 chicken breasts, halved (I cheated today and used 6 boneless skinless chicken tenders)
  • Paprika

Combine 1 stick butter and soups in saucepan. Heat, stir until smooth. Add cooked rice and pour into a 9X13″ pan. Lay chicken breasts on top. Brush with 2 TB melted butter and sprinkle with paprika. bake at 275-300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.

My hubby took the children to the monthly goat sale…we’re selling 3 head. By the time they get home, our supper will be ready.

What do you crave when you’re down for the count?