Monday, February 28, 2011

Word of the Day: Astroturfing

I learned a new word today and then DH used it in conversation tonight at dinner. I was able to go "AH HA, I know what that means!" Love it when that happens. What I don't love, however, is what the word means and the fact that a word is needed to describe something so despicable. The word is "astroturfing". Astroturfing is defined quite well by Wikipedia so I'll wait while you click on the word and read the definition.

See? Crap like that is why I can NEVER, ever, not in a billion years, ever be a libertarian. They either don't know, out of naivete, or don't care, out of greed to profit from it, that stuff like that happens, and want to deregulate so corporations can do MORE of it! It's basically lying, and I'm sorry, but free speech to me doesn't mean the freedom to lie.

Did you see the acceptance speech at the Oscars for the best full length documentary? Did you hear the guy say that NOT ONE person has gone to jail for the meltdown of the financial industry? Not one. I don't know how many people have lost their homes and livelihoods over the greed that led to that meltdown, and yet no one is held accountable. So, what, no laws were broken? You have to ask yourself why it was that no laws were broken, if that indeed was the case. Doesn't that mean the laws, which are supposed to protect us, were flawed? And who made the laws? Our government. Our government that is made up of people who are all too often in the pockets of big business. When is the general public going to wake up and realize what's going on? Sometimes I wish I could just shake people and say "WAKE UP"!

And then there's the Wisconsin thing going on now. The governor has it out for the unions, trying to prevent collective bargaining. The Tea Party backed governor. Um hmm. Now what does that tell you about the Tea Party? They are anti-union. So Libertarians are against unions? I wasn't aware of that, but it seems to be that way now. Or maybe the Tea Party isn't as Libertarian as I thought? Oh, yeah, they are for the evil corporations while only TRYING to look like they are "for the people". Phhht. The veneer is cracking. Do you think there's any way Wisconsin will stay Republican in the future? I'm predicting a HUGE Democratic landslide in that state for the next elections.

So there you have it, my first post in a couple of weeks, a rant about politics. Maybe my writer's block is better now.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I'm not blogging! I'm in a slump. My fibro is flaring a lot lately since I can't schedule my regular "home days" the way I need to. I spend my time driving The Eldest around to her classes 4 days a week, which is super draining, and something is always coming up for the other days, including weekends, so I'm constantly on the go. I'm feeling swamped. It'll pass, though. Her current schedule will change at the end of the semester, and even better, she'll be driving herself around as of this summer. (WHEW!) Girl Scout cookie season has passed so no more cookie booths until next year. We have a lot of field trips coming up, including an over night, between now and the end of the month, but next month is looking a little easier.

When my schedule gets out of control like this I get flare ups; it's just part of it. I muddle through the best I can and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. It's not a permanent state of affairs; things will settle down. I'm so fortunate that I typically have more control over my schedule and the craziness is temporary. I hate feeling like I'm whining about things; that's not what I'm trying to do here. I want to explain so that anyone reading will have a better understanding of fibro.

I have a dear friend who is suffering with fibro-like symptoms. She's asked me about it, what it feels like for me and how I cope. It's draining, mainly. Although I try to not let it limit me, I do tire more easily than a healthy person should which is really frustrating. If I had to work full time for a paycheck it would probably do me in; I know I'd spend every second of time off trying to recover with no time to LIVE, so I'm thankful it's not an issue for me. I have sleep issues off and on. I have memory problems and "fibro fog" where I can't think clearly sometimes, especially when I am in a noisy or stressful situation or if I'm tired. As for pain/discomfort, I get sore like I did before I had fibro symptoms but now I don't recover for what feels like ages. Really bad flare ups feel like the body aches you get with the flu. I don't seem to have the classic tender points, although the rheumatologist disagreed when she diagnosed me. My back acts up, especially when I'm on my feet a lot and can't get horizontal a few times during the day.

As for coping, I am so fortunate that I have a fairly mild case and I can mostly keep it under control by living as healthfully as possible, eating right, watching my weight, making time to sleep as much as my body will let me, taking my walks every day, and not over doing things. Balance is really important. (I should take up meditation and yoga; they would probably both help.) When I have a big event to attend that will involve a lot of standing or walking I take my cane/seat thingy, which is a life saver. It got me through my trip to Europe and a lot of other places since then! The only medication I take is a daily Aleve to control inflammation. I've been to an acupuncturist. I can't say enough about how wonderful those little needles are for the muscle aches! (The only problem was the drive over to the office; that got to be tough to work in once The Eldest's classes started. It was one more thing on my schedule!) The kids help out. The Middle Child loves to cook so she'll frequently make dinner for us. DH is my knight in shining armor; he comes to my rescue all the time. His cuddles are my best sleep aid, and that's just for starters. I'm also letting things go like keeping up with housework. I still have our Christmas decorations sitting out in the living room, but I'll get them put away eventually. It's a little embarrassing when I have people over but I can't stress about it. When I'm flaring it's survival mode- only the essentials are taken care of. I'll get through it and deal with the fall out when I'm feeling better. In the meantime, I take as much down time as I can steal away from my crazy schedule and spend a lot of time reading! My silver lining- if I have to hit the bed more often than I'd like, at least I can have the pleasure of books while I'm trying to recover.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: Crazy Sexy Diet

I bought Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr early in January thinking it would be great to get a feel for a veg diet program. What to eat, healthy portions, all that kind of info. I finally got around to giving it a closer look over the weekend and I was so disappointed I returned it to the bookstore. While saying it's OK if you don't want to go all the way vegan it was still pretty negative about ALL food from animals, even eggs and dairy. Personally, with my soy issues, I don't feel I can give up eggs and dairy and still maintain a healthy diet. I don't need someone lying and telling me I'm eating "chicken fetuses" if I choose to eat an egg from a source that is as humane as I can find at Whole Foods. Last time I checked, they do NOT sell fertilized eggs for human consumption at the grocery store.

While there may be a lot of legitimate reasons to forgo eggs, such as protesting battery cages, the nutritional profile, and so forth, making the claim that the eggs are somehow baby chickens is a flat out lie that I found patronizing and irritating. In fact, if the chickens are treated well, eggs are the least offensive animal product. Chickens are going to lay eggs no matter what. If they are kept away from roosters the eggs will not be fertilized. If we don't eat them they go to waste, and where's the sense in that?

I didn't read the whole book. I read through the table of contents and only a few sections caught my interest. There was a lot of justification for eating a plant based diet (which is a good thing, but I get it already!) and not a lot in the way of practical recipes, meal plans, that type of thing. When I read the few sections that caught my interest, I found myself irritated by the author's chummy writing style. It was just too, I don't know, Valley Girl for me. Not with the "like, you knows", but very teenager-y, and gee, aren't we great pals?

I was really disappointed. It was like a nutrition text written by teens, for teens. I'm sure the author meant well and this might be THE book for some people, but it's not for me! I'm thankful the bookstore took it back.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Review: Eat Right America

After reading the Eat Right America Nutritarian Handbook I decided to give the website a go. Here's my disclosure- I bought the handbook for the regular price at Whole Foods and I paid the regular price to sign up for the website as well. No one has asked me to review either the book or the website and I will not receive any compensation for doing so.

Especially since I'm not that impressed with the on-line information. I signed up for the website at a cost of $19.95 and that gets me the initial assessment and a few months of access. To continue past the trial period you have to cancel or it will cost $9 something per month. So I signed up. The first thing you do is take their assessment, which I did. I found it to be very similar to the Real Age website, which is free. Once you answer all the health questions (and it's helpful to know your weight, your waist and hip measurements, and have the results of your last cholesterol screening on hand) then they give you your "prescription". I was kind of disappointed that they didn't ask things like "are you vegetarian" and "do you have any food allergies". I guess it didn't really matter though since they don't give you a particular set of menus like other diets, they only offer guidelines that are listed in the handbook. They also give information about your current health level and disease risk, which is on Real Age for free.

The only thing that's special about the website is there is more information and they tell you which of the three levels of the nutritarian way of eating that they recommend for you to try. But the handbook makes good suggestions for that, too, so the info doesn't seem to be anything new. There are recipes but I wasn't blown away by the few I looked at. There was a pie chart showing how I eat now and another pie chart showing how I should eat. (Up the veggies, although not much since I'm already doing well on that front, and less processed food, especially when we eat out. Which also bothered me- I feel like I make good choices when I eat out but that's not taken into consideration.)

Over all, I would say meh. Get the handbook, which I love; you won't miss much if you skip the website. My opinion may change as I play around with the website more; I'll let you know one way or the other!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

They Wrote My Diet Book!!

I lost 40 pounds in 2007 and I've kept 30 of those pounds off for over 3 years now, which means I'm beating the odds. 95% of people who lose weight regain it all within 2 years so I'm in the elite 5%. I did it because I figured out something I've finally seen confirmed in a diet book- it's not about fad diets, low carb, no carb, low fat, or grapefruits, it's about nutrients.

My first inkling about this occurred when I read a really negative book several years ago about how you'll fail if you diet so you might as well get used to the size you are and get over it, only I didn't believe it. There was one study in particular that was written about in the book but I disagreed with the conclusions drawn from the results of the study. It was a military study about calorie restriction. A bunch of soldiers were put on diets and lost weight to the point that they were below optimum weight. They studied the reactions of the men and found that they became obsessed with food. They talked about food constantly and even exchanged recipes. The book author said that meant they were going to pig out as soon as possible and regain all the weight. (Which they probably did.) I drew a different conclusion. They were obsessed with food because their bodies were looking for the NUTRIENTS they needed to be healthy.

I think that's what happens to us and why, as a nation, we are so overweight. We have become addicted to the empty calories that are so readily and abundantly available all around us. Our bodies get used to having to eat and eat and eat to extract even a minimal portion of the nutrients needed for health and survival. Our bodies get used to making us crave large quantities of food out of desperation. I don't think it's because our bodies want useless empty calories, but because our bodies panic since the good stuff isn't there in that McBurger. So then we must need to eat lots and lots and lots. We get used to that so when we do start to eat healthfully, our bodies don't trust us for the longest time. It's hard to reset our appetites. If we go about making every calorie count, nutritionally speaking, then our bodies will eventually calm down and adjust, and quit panicking. We'll be able to eat the appropriate amount to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

That's what I did, although I still have a few areas where I could improve my eating habits. I'm not perfect but I eat far healthier than the majority of Americans. I still include too much pasta and white bread in my diet, although I try to control portions when I indulge. I eat veggies including greens like collards, spinach, and romaine lettuce, broccoli, carrots, and lots and lots of tomatoes and tomato products. We eat a lot of beans and whole grain rice. I eat at least one small serving of nuts daily and I love, love, love fruit. I hardly ever eat desserts or sweets.

I also continue to read everything I can find about nutrition that strikes me as taking a healthy approach. I turn my nose up at anything fad-ish. I don't go for restricting food groups, although low fat makes sense to me. (Not no-fat; I love my EVOO.) When I was in Whole Foods I saw a little booklet on sale at the register and I picked it up, and now that I'm reading it I'm finding it is the diet book I would have written. Everything in it makes sense. What is this miracle booklet, you ask? It's the Eat Right America Nutritarian Handbook by Joel Furhman, MD. It says EXACTLY what I believe about health and eating right. If you have any interest in losing weight and/or getting healthy, get this book. There's also an interactive website but I haven't checked it out yet.

Give up processed food, make healthy choices about what goes into your body, get some exercise to the best of your ability, then live long and prosper.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Who Do You Trust?

I've been in a mini-debate with a cousin about political stuff. He's libertarian; I'm liberal. (I still love him anyway.) ;) During the course of our conversation (via FB) he asked about trust. Why do I trust a particular source I used to back up one of my arguments? That got me thinking. Why do we trust the news sources we trust? Then I ran across a comic that referenced trusting only one news source as a bad thing. That made me go "yeah, I can see that". I rely on more than one source for my news, which is something I'm proud of. I listen to NPR and watch CNN. I glance at the headlines in my local paper and read the op-ed section a few times a week. I read both the liberal and conservative columnists so I can see both points of view. (They do a "from the right", "from the left" thing in the paper.) I skim the headlines on Google, which draws from a variety of sources. I read articles as I "Stumble" across them on-line. I talk extensively with DH, who reads a number of political blogs. I catch Nightline once or twice a week. I occasionally take a look at the White House blog since I like to go right to the source. Oh, and of course, there's always Jon Stewart.

And I think about things. I think about whether or not the arguments the columnists use make sense or not. I think about spin. Can I see a hole in what is being said? Does it agree with what I already know about a given subject? What are they REALLY saying? I frequently find that I can find GAPING holes in the conservative arguments that leave their whole premise in shambles. Basic flaws in logic, usually. (Cal Thomas is bad for that; he doesn't even make any sense half the time.) Rhetoric and name calling, and I have to admit there are liberals and Democrats that do the same thing. (Thank you to Jon Stewart for calling them out on both sides of the aisle.)

As to spin, it's insidious and something to be watched for. I remember the first time I really became aware of spin and how crazy it sounded when you got down to it. It was during the 2000 elections when Gore was smeared by the conservatives as being "too smart". Elitist, out of touch, that kind of thing, but it boiled down to too smart. HELLO- don't we want someone smart to run the country? By casting our ballots and holding elections, we are basically acting as a company hiring a CEO. Would we hire a CEO who would be fun to drink a beer with at the local barbecue, or would we hire someone who is intelligent and knowledgeable and can get the job done if we wanted our company to succeed? Personally, I'm going for the smart guy.

As for my support for our president, that was sparked by one thing. I have children. I have children who have toys that were affected by the product recalls over lead paint. When Obama was in the US Senate he introduced a bill that would have put more safeguards in place to insure that lead tainted toys were kept out of our country in the future. The bill didn't pass, but he gained my respect. He wanted to stand up to the toy industry and protect MY children. He's had my support ever since, even in the primaries.

There's another thing I've come to hold as a basic marker for my decisions. Where does the issue stand in terms of "Big Business"? Because that's a whole group I certainly do NOT trust. From what I've seen over the course of my close to 50 odd years on this planet, Big Business would do anything to make a buck, even at the expense of my children, my health, even my very life. They endanger and cheat their own employees. They endanger and cheat the people that live in their communities. They rape our earth and destroy our environment. They make flawed products and then lie to get us to buy them anyway. They don't care about the suffering of the poor, of animals, of children. They buy off our politicians. I know this is not true of all companies, maybe not even a majority of them, but enough of them that it's scary. That's why I could never, never, never in a million years be a Libertarian. I don't have that kind of blind trust in Big Business. I do not in any way, shape, or form believe the "market" is strong enough to control the evil a large company can perpetuate against us all. I mean, has Toyota gone out of business over their faulty cars? Has BP gone out of business over the oil spill? All you have to do is watch "Erin Brokovitch" to know what I'm talking about. THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT US, they only care about the bottom line and profit, profit, profit. I am a liberal because I am hoping for government regulations to protect us against the evils of large corporate entities. I am hoping for honest politicians who will stand up and say enough to the corporations, you will not let greed cause harm to anyone.

But that's enough soap-boxing for now; the kids have schoolwork to do and Girl Scouts will be here in just a couple of hours so I'm signing off to get back to my family managing.