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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

It’s the start of a new year, and with that comes the traditional New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s sad, really, that we need something as simple as a calendar change to do the things we should have been doing the whole year before (or whole life before).  Yet every year people worldwide set goals to better their lives.  I’m guilty of it too.  And just like many others, I’m guilty of breaking them after a few months.  You get busy, you fall back into routine, and, well, life happens.

It got me wondering, though, what the most common resolutions are.  What do Americans think matter the most?  You can probably guess most of them.  Like I just said, it’s the things we should all be doing anyway.  And I really wonder why it’s so hard to follow through with them…

Losing weight, eating better and working out always top the list.  As does quitting smoking or drinking.  It’s easy to understand the reasons behind these.  Especially after the calorie laden crap we all eat and drink around the holidays.  Overindulgence is what the holidays are all about.  I’ll admit, working out was one of mine.  For a few years in a row.  (One week in and I can now run on my elliptical machine for a good 15 minutes without passing out!)  But why is this one so hard to accomplish?  Mr. T made a good point about this today.  He was trying to find a healthy fast food lunch option and spent almost an hour researching nutritional information of fast food chains.  Many of the “healthy options” like salads have just as many calories and as much fat as a cheeseburger.  “It’s easy to see how so many people just say F-it when it comes to eating right,” he said. And he’s right.  It’s a pain in the ass.  It takes time and effort, and let’s face it, most of us are too damn lazy.  Hopefully it won’t take a heart attack or another new year for people to accomplish this goal…

Next on the usual suspect list is making more money, getting out of debt, and getting a new job.  Again, really sad we need to wait until a year begins to work on our budget.  This one too comes after a season of maxing out credit cards to get friends and family “that perfect gift.”  I wonder what would happen if we all took the money we were going to spend on gifts and instead opened a savings account.  With regard to making more money, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “no one has ever been on their deathbed wishing they spent more time at the office.”

Also on the top list – stress less and volunteer.  Well, perhaps if we all worked out, ate better and actually went though the effort to save more money we wouldn’t have so much to stress out about.  As for volunteering; again, we’re lazy.  We don’t have time to do things for us, so where would we find the time to volunteer?  But perhaps if we saw what those with less lived like, we would stress less about our own lives and the things we didn’t own.

Now for my personal favorite – spending more time with family.  Come on people, this one’s free!  Not only is it free, I can provide ways to keep the other resolutions listed by simply doing this last one.  First of all, cook dinner and eat together.  There have been numerous studies linking better overall health and diet when a family eats a meal together. [i] Go hiking, take walks or even play active video games together.   My brother brought his X-Box with Kinect to our last family get together and we all got quite a work out (and perhaps even burned off dessert…or at least we told ourselves that).  Smoking and drinking?  That’s an obvious one to quit when you have kids…  Getting out of debt and saving money may be a little tougher, but it’s attainable with support from a close family.  Establish a family budget with your partner and get your kids involved.  We didn’t have a lot of toys and games when we were kids but we did have imaginations (they are free, by the way) and parents who enjoyed spending time with us.  Besides, my daughter’s favorite toys are the ones lying around the house (boxes, kitchen utensils, plastic bowls, etc.).  And if you’re spending your free time being active with your kids you won’t have time to spend money on things like cable TV, magazines, and other non-essential items.  Now for the last two – stress and volunteering.  Looking for something to do with your kids that’s free?  Der, take them with you to volunteer.  Show them how other people less fortunate live and perhaps it will teach them to be thankful for the toys they do have.  With regard to stress, well, look inside yourself.    If you are fortunate to have a close family (whether blood relation or friends so close they might as well be), are in good health (or at least working on it) and have a dollar to your name, you’ve got it pretty good.

So this year, let’s all try a little harder to actually follow through with our goals.  Like I just demonstrated, many can be attained with just accomplishing one.  And if you find yourself back to the old routine in March, don’t say “maybe next year.”  In the words of George Eliot, “it’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

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Unless you’ve been living in a hole (which, if you have, thank you for using your first venture out of the hole to visit my blog!) you’ve likely heard that eating organic foods is safer and therefore better for you.  You’ve probably also noticed that most organic food costs a lot more money than its non-organic counterpart.  I sure have.

But I’m not cool with feeding my family food saturated with pesticides either.  I was a little grossed out to learn that eating the 5 daily servings of USDA-recommended fruits and veggies from the 15 most contaminated meant I could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day.  Don’t despair though. You won’t need to spend your life’s savings on strictly organic food.  According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest.  [i]

So what produce tops the most contaminated list?  Here’s the updated 2010 list, complements of The Daily Green:

Celery: Without a protective skin it’s hard to wash off all the 64 pesticides used on it.  64 – yummy…

Peaches: These fleshy girls get pounded by 62 different pesticides.

Strawberries: Since they are now available year round (but can’t be grown year round in the US), they are more likely to be grown in countries not so concerned with the amount of pesticides used.      (59 pesticides found on these tasty gems)

Apples: To ensure you don’t have worms and other critters/pests eating your fruit before you do, apples have been detected with residue from 42 different pesticides.

Blueberries: You could pop up to 52 pesticides in your mouth when chomping on blueberries.

Nectarines: Residue from 33 different pesticides have been detected on nectarines.

Bell Peppers: These thin skinned (yet delicious) veggies get saturated in up to 49 different pesticides.

Spinach: One of the most contaminated of the leafy green veggies (in case you’ve read my Spinach post, yes, I buy organic), spinach can be laced with up to 48 different pesticides.

Kale: Less than spinach, but still enough to be on the top 12 list.

Cherries: Ok, cherries seem to be expensive regardless (unless you live in a cherry growing region, in which case I’m severely jealous), however, buy organic when possible.  (42 different pesticides)

Potatoes: A sad day for Irish Americans…as many as 37 different pesticides found on the spud.

Grapes: Oh no.  Wine is made from grapes.  And grapes can harbor as many as 34 different pesticides.  I’m screwed…now I have to buy organic wine too?

Those are the new 2010 Dirty Dozen – however, other offenders from frequent years to avoid are leafy greens (lettuce), carrots, pears, and tomatoes. And that’s just for the produce section.  Meat, dairy and coffee can also be loaded with pesticides, additives and even growth hormones that I won’t go into today.

Scary, huh.  I thought so…which is why I spend the extra money at the store on organic.  I also try to buy from local, trusted sources.  And the best way to avoid pesticides – grow your own produce!

Hopefully this will help when you’re freaking out in the store about what to buy organic and what you can save your spondoolies on (that’s apparently a slang term for money…I’m not kidding, look it up.)  Happy, safe eating, everyone!

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