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Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Food, Inc." Movie Review

I just got back from seeing "Food, Inc." with my sons at our church.

It's been on PBS all week, but I couldn't watch all of it. Its really hard for me to watch it, because it really speaks to me, and I was so affected by the issues it discusses over 20 years ago that I became a vegetarian for 15 years.

It saddens me to see the warnings of 20 years ago become today's realities. I feel somehow responsible, because it is my generation that created this mess, trying to feed the world, and eradicate hunger, and now we have a whole new mess on our hands because with the power to feed the world, also came corruption on the back of greed.

I now feel that becoming a vegetarian was wimping out. It is too passive of an action and doesn't really address the original problems. Vegetarian eating is healthier and helps with meditation, but it isn't an answer to anything.

In movies and television I saw as a kid, people used to make fun of farmers who moved to the city. They were portrayed as gullible and clueless, and became targets of scams. I think that they had the most honorable work -- feeding the rest of us. They should be our heroes.

The way farming is done now is very different and it has lost all its honor. It has become a black box that no one looks inside of.

I had already read two of Michael Pollen's books. I know what he is saying, but watching it on the screen was difficult. This is how black boxes work. We put things that are hard to look at inside the box. Out of sight, out of mind.

The end of the movie lists things anyone can do to make a different world for the future. I have been doing some of them:

The first thing was to have my sons watch Food, Inc. and discuss it with them. I explained that the movie was what guided how I have been shopping for the last few years, so they know why I do what I am doing.

This week I doubled the size of my small urban vegetable garden. I follow organic gardening practices I learned many years ago, but never had any place to garden. I have the tiniest urban lot, but I find that to be no excuse anymore.

A few years back, we were at the Milwaukee Zoo at the farming exhibit. The master gardeners had a very small plot of land next to the barn which was filled with every kind of vegetable possible. It was such an efficient use of the small amount of space that I could see that it was probably going to produce enough to feed an entire family. I don't have much of a green thumb. It's more Chartruse, but if they can do it, I can learn.

Two years ago I began to purchase all of my food organic, and as much of it locally grown as possible. Its more expensive, but if I cook from scratch, the food is much better and the expense is less.

I cook my own food, and we have meals together as a family. I love this part. I started out in college thinking I would never learn to cook because it wasn't that important of a skill. Now I have watched a few thousand cooking shows and I love cooking. Its a very sensual and purposeful thing to do. Cooking for people you care about is a great way to love them.

By cooking more, I can buy what is fresh, looks good and is in season, instead of relying on whatever is "on sale and stale."

The kids and I visit farms.
We go to the Farmer's Markets in the area.
I read labels. We sometimes buy organic meats, free-range, local products.
I am mostly a Pescatarian now, after being an ovo-lacto vegetarian for 12 years, a vegan for one year, and a macrobiotic for one year. I do eat some meat. The word that best describes my eating style is "flexitarian" something I adopted as a label after finding that going back to eating a lot of meat made me feel somewhat sick.

Flexitarian is nice for all those times when people make fun of the various labels that people use to describe how they eat. It isn't about having rigid rules that you follow to somehow save the world or yourself. Eating is mostly a cultural thing. It affects your social life most of all, secondly your health, and then the health and lives of all those who are affected by what you choose to eat.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned,

so as to have the life that is waiting for us. "

--Joseph Campbell

US folklorist & expert on mythology (1904 - 1987)

Optimists Live Longer

Optimists Live Longer -- Because they want to,

but also because others want them to, too....

"The Optimist Creed"

Promise Yourself

Begin each day by promising yourself to:

* Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

* Talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

* Make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

* Look at the sunny side of everything, and make your optimism come true.

* Think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

* Be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

* Forget the mistakes of the past, and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

* Wear a cheerful countenance at all times, and give every living creature you meet a smile.

* Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

* Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

--Optimist International
“So think as if your every thought were to be etched in fire upon the sky for all and everything to see.
For so, in truth, it is.

So speak as if the world entire were but a single ear intent upon hearing what you say.
For so, in truth, it is.

So do as if your every deed were to recoil upon your head.
For so, in truth, it is.

So wish as if you were the wish.
And so, in truth, you are.”

– Mikhail Nimay, Book of Mirdad

DRAMA, the thing everybody says they don't want, but pay money to watch...

"How to Create Epic Drama In Your Life"

"Are you getting your minimum daily requirements of chaos?
Do inner peace, gratitude, and contentment occasionally creep up on you and sabotage your ability to indulge in your anxiety?

Here’s a quick and handy two-step process for making sure your world is full of epic drama.

1. Believe and act like your safety, security, success and happiness are dependent on other people and forces outside of you that you can’t control.

2. Try to control them.

For those of you who prefer to keep it more complex and time-consuming, here are seven practical tips for making sure you achieve a high drama existence.

Let me be your drama director as we shout out the traditional opening words…
“Lights! Camera!! RE-ACTION!!!

The Seven Spiritual Steps To Successful Drama

1. Always Visualize The Worst Possible Outcome

Everybody accentuates the negative on occasion. What if I go broke? What if I lose my house? What if I get sick? What if I’m alone forever? What if I’m in this relationship forever? It’s perfectly human to use the power of negative thinking from time to time to conjure up worst-case scenarios about the future. But as your drama coach, I want to inspire you to focus all of your attention on the most negative possible outcomes all of the time. When this discipline has been achieved, you then relax into the certainty that you can always find something to freak out about in any situation, and that fear will never abandon you again.

2. Procrastinate & Downright Avoid Meditating

Being too busy and active to still your mind is essential on your path to drama-realization. Good drama requires us to be fully lost in our roles as actors on the stage, reading our reactive lines and getting engrossed in our stories. Meditation teaches us to become conscious of the part of us that is an audience member, witnessing and even enjoying our own performance. This detachment is the death of drama, and must be avoided at all costs. So keep busy, inside and out. Have you answered all your emails today? Is there something good on TV? Who needs a shoulder to lean on? Always make sure that your life and your mind are filled with clutter and free of those empty spaces between your thoughts that can threaten and disturb your absence of peace.

3. Get Good At Repressing and Exploding

Drama majors are often found swinging like a pendulum from one extreme to another, skillfully avoiding meddling with Mr. In Between, where the boredom can put you to sleep. All you need to do is to stuff your feelings till you can’t hold them in any longer and then explode without restraint or concern for anyone, especially the ones you care most about. As a practice, try being 100% nice and sweet in a relationship. Stretch yourself to accommodate as much and as long as you can, and then take the lid off and let the steam out, like Mt. Saint Helens does once in a while. Drama Queens (and Kings) know that there is nothing as satisfying as having a totally unpredictable volcanic eruption after being good, silent, and inactive for a spell.

4. Leave Your Inner Child Alone Inside You Without Parental Supervision

When our inner kids get scared, they create some really juicy drama, but only if we are committed to denying them our own re-assurance, empathy, guidance, and loving boundaries. When we have the will power to not succumb to such self-indulgent self-help nonsense, our inner kids will have no choice but to try to get those needs met solely from others, and usually through some pretty high drama antics. When two people in a relationship abandon their kids at the same time, oh boy, that’s when the fun kicks into high gear. The adults have left the vehicle, and you can guess who’s in the front seat, banging on the horn, flooding the accelerator, yelling out the window, and playing extreme bumper cars. Yippee!

5. Set Huge Goals, Maintain Unrealistic Expectations

There is nothing as beneficial to a dramatic lifestyle than developing the habit of reaching for the stars, falling short of your lofty goals, and punishing yourself for failing. Taking big leaps and falling flat on your face is paramount for maintaining low self-esteem, which is the foundation of all good drama. Reach for the mountain-top, and on the way don’t look down at your feet. Taking one step at a time is for people who lead uninteresting lives, filled with a lackluster sense of gentleness, peace, and other dismal downers that drama majors are skilled at sidestepping.

6. Judge Your Judgments

Every human being judges, but only the ones that have learned the art of judging their judgments excel in creating melodrama. Have you ever been known to shame and blame yourself for feeling afraid and stuck, telling yourself that there is something really wrong with you for not moving forward? Good! You are on the right track. Now, take your next step. Judge your judgments! Tell yourself that you should know better than to shame and blame yourself. Heap loads of guilt upon yourself for stooping yet again to the low consciousness of self-criticism. This will make you quite an energetic downer that can’t help but suck energy from those around you. You’ll be the lifelessness of the party! Can a good, high drama soap opera be far behind?

7. Get Grounded In The 3 B’s…. Blame, Blame, & Blame

Blaming yourself has already been covered. But don’t rest there. Blame everyone else too. Life’s not going the way you want? Blame! Blame first, ask questions and take responsibility later, if at all. Appropriate targets are Mom and Dad, friends (if you still have any), your mate (if they are still around), the Bush administration, the Clinton administration, big corporations, small minds, and, of course, God. Self-responsibility is highly overrated, and leads to issues losing their charge and actually getting resolved, which flushes good drama down the toilet. Instead, let it overflow, all over the tile of your life. Blame, Blame, Blame!

Affirmations for Good Drama

* Every day in every way I am stressing out over everything, real or imagined.
* Everything is working together to conspire to bring the worst possible outcome to my doorstep.
* Life is against me and I am doomed.
* I count my bills every day, and they are always more numerous than my blessings.
* God always gives me something to complain about.
* This, or something worse, is now manifesting for the highest cost of all concerned.
* I no longer have to work to create drama. Drama happens effortlessly and naturally, all around me.
* Whatever calamity I can conceive, I can achieve.
* I am always in the right place at the right time, successfully up to my ears in trouble.
* I always have everything I need to manifest everything I don’t want.
* All is hell in my world.

--Scott Kalechstein

“Respond to emergencies in a causal manner.”

~Norman Vincent Peale
"The Ten Paradoxical Commandments"


"People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway."

--From: "Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments: Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World," by Kent M. Keith


"Look to this Day, For it is Life,
The very Life of Life.

In its brief course lie all The realities and verities of Existence:
The Bliss of Growth,
The Splendor of Action,
The Glory of Power.

For yesterday is but a Dream
And tomorrow is only a Vision

But today, well-lived
Makes every yesterday a Dream of Happiness
And every tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
Look well, therefore, to this Day."

-- Sanskrit Proverb

Destiny is Achieved Every Day

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

~ Frank Outlaw

A Quote for Earth Day

"Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.'

Start where you stand,
and work with whatever tools you may have at your command,
and better tools will be found as you go along."

--Napoleon Hill

1883-1970, Author
"There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as if everything is."

--Albert Einstein
German-born Theoretical Physicist

Beauty Tip

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you never walk alone.

We leave you a tradition of the future.
The tender loving care of human beings will never become obsolete.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, redeemed and redeemed and redeemed.
Never throw anyone away.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you'll discover that you have two hands: One for helping yourself, the second for helping others.

You have great days still ahead of you.
May there be many of them.

Beauty Secrets
--As published in a recent "Dear Abby" column
Symptoms of Inner Peace

Be on the lookout for symptoms of inner peace.

The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to inner peace and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions.
This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.

Some signs and symptoms of inner peace:
- A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
- An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
- A loss of interest in judging other people.
- A loss of interest in judging self.
- A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
- A loss of interest in conflict.
- A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)
- Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
- Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
- Frequent attacks of smiling.
- An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than force them to happen.
- An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

WARNING: If you have some or all of the above symptoms, please be advised that your condition of inner peace may be so far advanced as to not be curable. If you are exposed to anyone exhibiting any of these symptoms, remain exposed only at your own risk.

~ From The Encourager – Dreikers Relationship Centers, Inc.
Fall, 1987

Fear is the Shadow


To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out for another is to risk involvement.

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is risk dying.

To hope is to risk despair.

To try is risk failure.

But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing.

They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.

Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave, they have forfeited their freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

~ Anonymous

"Security is mostly a superstition.
It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.

Avoiding danger is not safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

--Helen Keller
Let Us Have Faith, 1940

Bit of Unappreciated Wisdom

"It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes."

~ Douglas Adams

Code for Living Well

"Be An Instrument of Good"

"Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
Spend time each day with positive thoughts and ideas.
Own your personal limits.
Share your talents and time with the community.
Care for a plant, garden or other living things.
Learn to live with ambiguity.
Dress simply and neatly.
Reject consumption patterns that breed oppression for other people or the earth.
Find inexpensive ways to celebrate life.
Exercise regularly.
Help create an atmosphere that fosters contemplation.
Develop a deeper appreciation for all creation.
Let nothing distract you from your main goal – to seek God.
Learn to eat sensibly and sensitively.
Make recreation healthy, happy and gadget-free.
Know the difference between significant travel and self-indulgent travel.
Live now the way you would honestly like to live.
Join with others in reshaping institutions in order to bring about a more just global society.
Seek peace and pursue it.
Become acquainted with different races and cultures.
Choose work that is fulfilling and contributes to the well-being of others.
Recycle whatever you can.
Purchase goods that are durable, usable and beautiful.
Make a yearly inventory of your clothes and possessions and develop a habit of giving things away.
Practice conservation of natural resources.
Speak from your heart."

~ The Benedictines


"To understand how people view you, you must first look at how you view people.

Only then can you truly find self and be content with your self-image."

"Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion."

~ Robert Burns

Monday, April 19, 2010

On Being Different

"To be a person you are not, is to waste the person that you are."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I love giving lots of love to the things I like.

I love gratitude, for instance, even though I sometimes forget how great it really is.

Periodically I post about Ideoform's Favorite Things.

Things that work, things that have quality, things I like, and things I want to share with everyone I know. And sometimes its just things I enjoy doing so you can figure out what I am wasting (ahem) filling my time with.

Bookworm has wormed its way into my daily life. Its like Scrabble, or a crossword puzzle. But its a computer game. There is a free version on their website. Puzzles, brain-teasers and such are supposed to be good for your brain, so I must have an excellent brain. Except it is getting crowded in here with lots of useless information. I wonder if they can tell how much of a big brain is useful and how much is just so much trivia.

I give credit to my son's teacher for introducing it to my family. It helped my son with spelling. He used the program at school during in-between times. At home, he earns "points" for doing chores, and the points convert to money he can spend. He purchased the game for his Nintendo DS and then showed it to me because he thought I would like it. I was almost instantly hooked.

Sad to say, I come from a family that has addiction in it. So the brain pathways are there, and I have had minor brushes with silly things that I get into and then have to drag myself away from... I knew this about myself early on, and so I have completely stayed away from drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Whew!

However, you can't entirely avoid eating, (although I did avoid eating for 24 days straight once, and that didn't work) and so at times I have had to give up coffee, sugar, and all food things made of a white powder. This is generally good advice for anyone, as a white powder can be disguised to look like any other white powder quite easily and you can mix them and nobody can tell until you get very strange side-effects. I think the food industry is really on to something. They figured it out first; white powder = addiction. Then they added it to Coke, and the rest is history.

I found out I am allergic to the white powder that is called wheat flour. And so that white powder nearly ruined my life for almost 20 years because it is literally in everything.

Well, anyway, right now Bookworm has wormed its way into my brain, and I maxed out the game several times at level 47. I have the title of something like "Super Ultra Bookworm" or something like that.

So now you have been warned.

Danger! Danger! Will Robinson *

Danger at home and how we deal with it.

Fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, accidents at home. These are preventable.

We are so busy, with most homes having to maintain two careers, and the care of children and often ageing parents. We can put things off. Put our head in the sand, about danger at home.

Home means the safe place to go to. Well, if it isn't, is it really a home?

There are really simple and inexpensive things we can do to minimize danger at home.

We visited Holland, MI this winter and heard about the fire that leveled about a third of the entire city. And within the same week, across the Lake, another city had a massive fire. Hundreds of homes were destroyed all at once, overwhelming the city's ability to fight all the fires at once.

People used to light their homes with gas flames in sconces on the walls in drafty homes. I can't imagine what happened when the flame blew out...

Anyway, we have this recreational thing we do that involves lighting a roll of paper with various dried plants inside. Fire that is recreational. Matches left out where children can get to them, and people often drink and smoke together, and so they are not as responsible with smoking as they should be.

People still cook with fire, over open flames lit by gas, and electric stoves when unattended can cause a fire to start.

Fire Departments don't have an advertising budget. If they did, they would advertise having smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers in every home. As it is, they take some of their time voluntarily and go to schools to teach fire safety and they hope that the children teach their parents to do these things.

But children don't have the money to go out and buy a fire extinguisher, and even if they did, they probably would spend it on video games. I don't know about you, but when I was young my parents didn't listen to me that much.

Why are we relying on children to teach their parents, when often in the more fire-prone neighborhoods, the parents aren't around enough already? They are already overburdened, and the children have to fend for themselves a lot of the time.

I don't know why we don't have an ordinance that requires all homes to have a working fire extinguisher. We have had a big push in our city after a rash of fires to get working smoke detectors in all homes, even to the point of going around and giving away 9 volt batteries every year. This improved things, but even though people got out alive, their homes were often destroyed by the time it was all over. A working fire extinguisher could save the home, too. I know some people with beautiful large homes, fashionably decorated, that have not a single fire extinguisher in it that could stop a small kitchen fire from travelling throughout the house.

I was involved in being a presenter at a workshop on healthy homes, and the saddest part was the story the Firemen told of going into homes where everyone had died silently in their sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is odorless. A carbon monoxide detector doesn't cost much more than a smoke detector and might be the only warning you get besides a nagging headache.

We childproof our homes, but what about fireproofing them at the same time?
To be safe at home, a home should have a working smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector, an excape route and escape plan posted.

I think that every time we have a time change -- daylight savings -- we should do more than just check our smoke detector batteries. We should all have a checklist of simple things we can do to make sure our homes are safe. Some of these only need to be done once in several years. My carbon monoxide detector cost about $40 and it has been working to protect our home for 6 years now. Smoke detectors last at least that long, too.

Every home should have two workable exits that can be used in case one exit is blocked by fire. We don't have a back door, really. We live upstairs and there are two doors pretty much right next to each other near the front of the house. And one of them is in the kitchen, where a fire might be likelier to start. So at the back, I put an escape ladder that rolls up and is stored underneath a back window in my son's room.

I hope everyone reading this has:

  • A working fire extinguisher in their kitchen, and anywhere people regularly smoke, and a working smoke detector with good batteries in it, that they have checked to see if it is working twice a year.
  • A working carbon monoxide detector.
  • Two safe exits from their home.
  • A plan for what to do if there is a fire...several ways to get out, and where to meet outside the house.
Another more expensive thing to do is to install a sprinkler system in a home when it is built. It is way less costly to do this when a home is first built, and the bigger and more expensive the home, the more value would be saved by a sprinkler system. If the fanciest hotels in the world all have sprinkler systems, then any home can have them and not sacrifice appearance and that much cost.

Often the newer systems will have a way to only go off in the room that the smoke is. And not from smoking itself, or more hotels would have a problem with it. It is much better to have a few things in one room get temporarily wet, than to have to wait for the fire department to come and by then risk loosing the entire house, and even some lives of people and pets.

This is something you do just once, like installing a sub-pump in your basement, and then you have this protection for the life of the house. I bet you can get lower home insurance that would offset a lot of the cost of the system.

If almost every home in America now has a big screen television, a fancy cell phone, and a computer, then we certainly can afford these things which could save us so much heartache and expense.

I keep a small fire extinguisher in my car, too. I saw a car flip over in front of me on the freeway once. I stayed with the driver until the police came, but in the meantime, I was constantly worried that a fire would start. After that, I bought a small fire extinguisher for my car. It might not help that much, but I don't think I could ever stand by and watch someone trapped in a burning car and do nothing. If nothing else, the extinguisher could just buy the person some time for the rescuers to get there.

And with all the technology and safety systems cars have now, why don't they have smoke detectors too? This type could alert a remote location that a fire has started even if the driver is unconscious. The best part would be if there was a way to safely deal with a car fire automatically. Like a car sprinkler system. Wouldn't it be great if part of a car's self-defence mechanism could take all the fluids in the car that are used for other things, and redirect them to use to put out a fire? If the car has a gallon of wiper fluid, it could be enlisted in at least slowing down the progress of a fire. I think we should make cars that used two or more gallons of wiper fluid and have a system that could direct it inside the car where it could help a passenger survive a car fire.

I think every city should have a non-profit fund or foundation that will provide, install, monitor and maintain a working smoke detector, a working fire extinguisher, and a working carbon monoxide detector for every low-income household. This would keep the housing stock safer, even if there are absentee landlords, and prevent the problems associated with people who have the least resources to deal with it having to be uprooted, move and replace everything they own. Plus, we could then check on houses that might have become abandoned, because if they have a fire, by the time someone notices, they could have set the houses on either side on fire.

I used to wonder about suffering and why it existed. Suffering is never going to be completely eliminated, but in my lifetime, after seeing some truly horrific things, I have come to realize that the worst suffering is the preventable kind. Because there is a whole other level of suffering that is even harder to deal with over time, and that is guilt and regret. Physical pain can often be dealt with and adapted to, and it is often limited in time, but guilt and regret can poison a life for decades or longer.

A little bit of preparation, planning, and forethought can save so much hurt, expense and regret later on.

* For those of you too young to remember the TV show "Lost In Space" from 1965 - 1968, this is the show's classic line that the Robot routinely says in its deadpan voice to the youngest boy, Will, when the Aliens show up.


The same day I wrote this, a house blew up in my city. The couch flew through the front window, the house was lifted up off its foundation, and every room was affected. Luckily, no one was home at the time. The occupants were attending a funeral! It could easily have been their own.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Future of Makeup

The Next Thing In Makeup and Personal Hygiene Products

Makeup is perishable.

If nicotine patches actually work, putting the drug nicotine into your body through your skin, the same thing happens with whatever you put on your skin.

Many foundation makeups and body lotions have added ingredients to them to make the skin even more permeable to allow the product to sink into the skin, so they can deliver certain things into the skin that they are using to change the skin in some way. So when you apply these products your skin becomes vulnerable to penetration by other things, too.

We buy fresh food weekly or sometimes nearly every day because it tastes better, has less preservatives and is better for you. So why couldn't we purchase smaller amounts of makeup more often?

Makeup doesn't really need preservatives for its primary purpose. But it does need it for the convenience of how it is sold and kept at home and in our purses and pockets.

Refrigerators in the Makeup Isle?

There are many ways to keep perishable products fresh. You can dehydrate them -- remove all of the water -- which bacteria need in order to reproduce. This is the way that the mineral makeups work. They are gentler on the skin because they don't need to add preservatives, although I bet some of them do anyway.

You can refrigerate them, making the bacteria cold and inactive. Molds can still grow if you wait long enough, as everyone who has a vegetable bin knows.

You can use freezing, add salt, sugar, in great enough amounts to inhibit bacteria.

These are time-tested ways to preserve things that humans have been using for centuries. Too much salt and sugar isn't a good thing, though, and so these kinds of preserved foods can't be a big portion of our diet, but for use in small amounts for skin care products, hair care products and make up they might be OK.

Even with preservatives, makeup can be kept too long and become contaminated with sweat, tears, and bacteria from the user's skin and should be thrown away. All makeup that has any moisture in it has an expiration date beyond which it cannot be certain to be safe. If it is unopened, the lack of oxygen can prevent it from spoiling, but it will degrade with time in quality if it has any organic ingredients that can spoil like oils that can go rancid. By organic I mean made from living things like olives, seed oils, etc...

Petroleum products are unable to support life at all, because they are so different from their original source by the time we are using them. Mineral oils are similar.

Chemical Preservatives are Toxic to Life

They might seem safe in small amounts, but only because our bodies have an organ called the liver, devoted to removing them before they can cause too much harm. We keep adding stress to the liver when we add up all these "small" amounts and over the day we accumulate all kinds of things from the air, water, food and our living spaces. All this exposure is cumulative, even over weeks and years, depending on the functioning of our body's elimination systems. Preservatives function by preventing bacteria from digesting the food in the products we use. Makeup has significant parts that can be considered food by bacteria.

We have bacteria inside all our cells.

They are called the mitochondria. They take the food we eat, the water we drink, and the oxygen we breath, and turn it into energy. These mitochondria have their own DNA, different from ours. So when we test pesticides and preservatives on living cells, we need to consider that our mitochondira might be related to the very cells that we are trying to stop from digesting our food.

Some bacteria are good bacteria for us.

Bacteria digest all our food for us. We really need them to convert the components of food into things our human cells can use for growth, repair and energy. Yeast digest flours, acidolphus bifidus digest milk, creating yogurt, other bacteria which exist in the guts of the animals we eat, create all the vitamin B12 we eat. Our bodies cannot function without the good bacteria in our digestive systems to help us. Without them, the bad bacteria can overrun our immune systems and we would die.

Artificial preservatives prevent us from metabolizing anything correctly.

Unlike enzymes, which are in foods and help us to metabolize the food into energy, preservatives and some preservation methods work the opposite way. Some kinds change the enzymes, or some products remove all the active enzymes so that the products will not spoil. But if something cannot spoil it cannot be digested, either.

The definition of 'spoil' is really that some other living thing than us is digesting the food.

The world was made to automatically recycle everything on the planet; rocks, water, air, trees, food, all living things. The process of metabolism is really a variation of decomposition. One type of decomposition is healthy, and some are not. However, without decomposition our food would not, could not nourish us.

Makeup can be made to be like food, not in that it is the same as eating, but that it is made of things that will not inhibit the metabolism our bodies need to create energy for living.

If nicotine can get through our skin and affect our moods and our thinking, then preservatives and pesticides can do the same.... and to what end? Can it do any good, except to make it easier to store the products...

The methods for making personal care products were developed back when it was not as easy to assure that people could preserve things at the place they were sold and where they were kept at home.

Maybe some future makeups would simply be recipes, and we would make our own in small batches from a list of ingredients and keep them in the refrigerator.

Some other ingredients and blends might be better made by someone else, like a baker makes bread, and then put into creative containers and sold out of decorative refrigerated cases.

I think one of the reasons makeup manufacturers don't go in this direction is that it might be harder to have as high of a markup for products sold like foods. Americans are very contradictory in their attitudes; we try to spend as little as possible on foods we buy for eating in our homes, but spend as much as we can afford on personal care products.

Junk food cosmetics.

So now we have cosmetics laced with unhealthy chemicals just so we can buy them in department stores that have no food products and no license to sell food products. Yet products applied to the skin and scalp are absorbed into the body just like food is, but in smaller amounts. Just as junk food is bad for our bodies, no matter how convenient they are, junk cosmetics are bad for our bodies, no matter how expensive the label. You can take the most exotic ingredient and lace it with arsenic and it would not ever be better for you than the same ingredient without the arsenic if they are used before they spoiled.

If there are safer options, why take the risk?

Refrigeration, freezing, salting, drying, canning, are options that don't involve toxins.

The obstacles to this might only be some changes in how products are transported, displayed and purchased, and the markup could still be the same, the glamour could still be there, but without the invisible toxins hiding inside them. We can do all this with the resources we already have, but we might have to do some advertising to change people's attitudes toward how they select and purchase personal care products.

The ingredients could be transported separately to the place where they are combined into makeup and personal care products like shampoo and body lotions, just like soda is made. The water can be added at the last moment, and water is available everywhere at almost every distribution point. If you separate the ingredients, they can be more efficient to store and transport.

The packaging can be added last, even at the moment of purchase. And the packaging can be made returnable and reusable. A liner, or inner container can be brought back, sterilized and re-used, and replaced into the decorative dispensers.

Colors and styles change, and so a single glamorous package could contain several shades over several seasons. But some things are classic, like silver and gold, rhinestones, and cedar, bamboo and oak. If you could re-use some parts of packaging, you could spend more on an inlaid polished oak lipstick case, and feel even more pampered than before.

We all vote with our dollars.

We get more of what we all spend our money on. The manufacturers follow the money, and the trends, often creating trends to then sell their products. If we all think about what we really want before spending our limited funds, and then spend it on products that are as safe as they are beautiful and fun, we will help this process to change even quicker.

People wear masks to prevent contagions like bird flu, but think nothing about using 6 month-old mascara laced with chemical preservatives in it and putting it right into their eyes.

Another way to make this transition would be to make new standards for personal care products, having a level playing field for manufacturers to base their product sales on.

Other Trends In Makeup and Personal Care Products

Already we have organic versions of makeup, but we can do much more to have Fair Trade options.

* We can have the ingredients available at the point of sale, in separated form, and they could be added together based on individual recipes for shade, skin type, sensitivities and even for treating problems like age spots, irritated skin, inflammation, scars and sun aging.

A person could have a daytime color and formula that might have a sunscreen component, and a night time shade and blend that might have some glitter and no sunscreen.

A lot of places have dozens of types of already-made products, laced with chemical preservatives.
* Why not use computers to create the perfect blend on a screen, and then make the blend on the spot? Then a consumer could have hundreds of options instead of dozens.

I love products made with Aloe, for instance. However, I have a friend who is allergic to it from having used it while her hands were irritated from multiple washings required of her in performing her job in a health care setting. My foundation makeup formula would definitely have Aloe in it, and hers definitely couldn't.

I myself became allergic to the antibacterial soaps from having to wash my hands over 8 extra times per day because I needed to perform medical cares for my son. I had several years of cracked, bleeding hands, so bad it made it very painful for me to wash the dishes, and interrupted my sleep at night because of the pain. I had to wear special goo-ey creams on my hands at night with gloves on. How un-romantic! When I went to a dermatologist, I was told to switch to plain mild soap, and I was told mild soap cleans as good as anti-bacterial soap if you wash your hands correctly. Within two weeks, my hands healed and I never had that problem again. I discovered that for me, anti-bacterial means anti-skin! The cells in my skin felt the same way as the bacteria...both died.

Locally grown, locally manufactured.
To save on transportation burdens on the environment, and on transportation costs, have the Executive do the travelling and check on the way a local manufacturer is making a product to patented specifications.

Have as many of the components of the products produced locally as possible. Already we have local water, power (which could then be solar or wind power) labour and many types of minerals and manufacturing materials, many of which can come from recycled local sources. Food is the best example of this; we have the franchise, which combines advertising and business plans, with local labour, local food products, water, local energy, etc., to create a business that people like because it has a uniformity and label that is trusted by the consumer. How much can be done locally?

More transparency with personal care products.
* A complete list of ingredients, including those not required by law (there are thousands of ingredients that do not have to be listed.)
* Along with where they came from, perhaps available online.
* I would like customers to be able to trace the source of everything they buy from its origins to its ultimate destination.
* Any product should be produced in a Fair Trade way if it is made in another country than where it is sold.
* And the entire lifespan of the product, starting with its ingredients, should be transparent, trackable and influence-able.

* Manufacturers could voluntarily take responsibility for researching their ingredients, their manufacuring and production methods, and transportation methods.
* They could accept all of their unused products back, accept all of their packaging back, and hold themselves accountable for the ultimate destination of their products at the landfill, in the ocean, and whether or not they biodegrade there or interfere with the wildlife and fishing there.

Some manufacturers will list on their label what the product doesn't have, but don't say what the product does have, as preservatives. You can't possibly list every toxic thing you don't add to your product... How do you ask, even? Does this product use aluminum as a preservative? Who would know what to ask? Everything should be listed somewhere that is easy for the customer to access.

The world recycled everything before we started making our own things.
Perhaps we should hold ourselves to the same standards that the world has automatically --

that what we create can enhance our lives --
while going easily back to replenish the earth instead of poisoning it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Sun, The Son, And the Light in My Life

I was thinking about the sun on a recent spring day. The ancients used to believe God was the Sun. Or so we have thought, when really that was not intended to be taken literally. Maybe it was poetry, or lyrics to an inspirational song, and it became that God was literally the sun when young children were listening.

Its like the Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus. We invent the fairy tales to enchant and entertain and they inspire creativity and imagination, but can't be taken too literally because the story only goes so far as a fact.

The only light we used to have was from the sun, the moon, the stars, lightning, flourecence, and the tiny fires we made to cook our food. So light was out of our control, yet essential to life, and most all productive activity. That is a potent combination. It came and went in the morning and at night, so we noticed it more than, say, the air we breathe, or the water we drank, which we could carry with us, and follow along as we travelled along river banks. We could make our homes near water, but we couldn't pull the sun down out of the sky when we needed it.

But there is another kind of light. That inner light, that thing we often call spirit.

I think of spirit as what shines out of a child's eyes, or when you watch a puppy, a kitten play, and when people do things that demonstrate spirit, like pep-rallies, parades, singing around camp fires, displays of great courage and loyalty and surprising strength in the face of great joy or great adversity, and even during those quiet times, the every day times, when for a moment, we are so grateful just to be alive. I think deep forests have a certain spirit that can enter right into a person on a camping trip, and God's creation can speak to a human spirit visiting the Grand Canyon, or a Mountain range, or a great waterfall.

When my daughter was born, my first child, I really saw it. It was her, but it was me, too, looking through her eyes at a wondrous world. And it was the connection I felt to her by my fierce mother-hormones that would have compelled me to throw my life away to save hers if I could have. She became the light of the world to me. Some people light up a room with their spirit, and others drain a room of all energy. It is these examples that taught me to see the invisible light.

It seems the invisible light comes from the sun itself, invisible as it passes through the blackness of space, only to light up whatever it touches as it gets here to Earth. The plants grow with it, it powers the movement of water and air with currents, and temperature differences, creating the world we know. It warms us, and powers everything. The only other powers we have are the molten core of the earth, powering volcanos, and the gravitational pull of the moon, causing the tides.

Our oil and gas power comes from the sun.

Then I think about what God sees. If we were to call God the SUN, that wouldn't be very far off the mark. And we would all be God's SON's and Daughters. The earth itself, and all creation would be considered a Son of God -- a production of God, a creative act of God. God emanating outward into the material world from the inner world of invisible Spirit. It is like the rays of the sun, leaving the sun like the spokes of a wheel, outward, and invisible unless you look directly at the sun itself, until it touches something, lighting it up, making the material world visible.

Its like a movie in a movie theater, projected out to a screen. If you look up, the projection light is invisible -- you sometimes can see the rays of light because they hit a few specks of dust on their way to the screen, but it is the screen that lights up, creating all this movement out of a flat, motionless screen.

And so the ancient sages, trying to describe the invisible spirit, might have used the sun's rays as an analogy.

I was thinking why in the bible, we are called the Son of God, and Christ was called God's Son. If you change the word to SUN, it fits, too. I remember the light shining out of my daughter's eyes as I gave her a toy to play with. She lit up my world when she smiled. When she frowned it was like the rain clouds came. Perhaps God sees us like that. We are his creation, but in a way as personal as that of a child. Only his parentage is for all of us, yet not all of us recognize Him as our Father. This would be like having a child that doesn't acknowledge you. That would be like the rain clouds. And yet, God can't force a child to recognize its father. This is given to us as a choice, because love chosen with perfect freedom is trusting love. And only love with total trust will last.

I remember the phrase I learned long ago, that if you love something, set it free, and if it comes back to you it is yours, and if it doesn't it was never meant to be. Maybe Heaven is what God feels when he loves us, sets us free, and each child actually does come back, of its own free will to be with Him. Now that is heaven.

We always seem to label heaven, and the sonship as from our perspective. But heaven is a child that has left and you have worried about their safety, but you knew they needed to grow up and be independent to learn what they needed to learn, and to experience all the adventures they needed to experience. But they then come back all full of spirit and spunk, and have learned things you couldn't have taught them at home.

Maybe when I see God someday, his face will light up the world, just like my daughter's did. And I am His Light, and He is Mine.

I look forward to that day, because my belief is that I will also meet my daughter again, because she died as a tiny child, and for a while the light went out of my life, and my only comfort for many years was imagining her in God's hands, Him holding her gently until I could come to be with her again.

Police Flashing Lights

A Note of concern to all Policemen

I was just doing a lot of highway driving this week, and passed by a number of Police cars with their flashing lights on. It seems to me like over the years they keep getting brighter and have more individual lights and faster flashes.

It was at night time, and while I was driving on a curve, one Police car on the opposite side of the freeway was right in front of me, but still pretty far away (a few blocks) and yet the lights were bright enough to temporarily blind me for a second while looking straight ahead. I could see the Police car, but not the road directly in front of me, since there were no street lights at that part of the freeway. And the policeman himself was nearly invisible.

I remembered an article in the paper a while back that said that a certain type of commercial, and cartoons were banned in China because a number of Chinese children had had seizures while watching them. The main aspect that caused the seizures was flashing lights and the vibrating/pulsating visual patterns used in the backgrounds of the cartoons.

This suddenly reminded me of the police lights. I also recall seeing some very dramatic footage of policemen who had stopped by the freeway and were struck by vehicles who swerved right into them while passing the pulled-over cars.

I wonder if the police have considered the fact that Neurological Doctors use flashing lights to diagnose seizure disorders, using them to induce a seizure in the office to get a diagnosis.

I remember taking my son to a Neurologist to diagnose him. He was given a mild sedative, electrodes were placed all over his scalp, and then he was put into a darkened room and had a strobe light turned on him.

If using a strobe-like light is reliable enough to induce a seizure in a Doctor's office, I wonder how many people have to risk getting a seizure while driving on the freeway as they pass a police car at night.

Many seizures go undiagnosed because they are temporary and mild and only cause a very short loss of awareness that can appear just like a blank stare. Now, this usually wouldn't cause any trouble if you were, say in a classroom, or on the couch watching TV, and you might not even be aware that this was happening to you. Other people might think you are just not paying attention or are very tired and nodding off.

But it only takes moments on the freeway to drive off into the ditch when you are traveling at 65 miles an hour. Or perhaps you are driving right past a vehicle parked by the side of the road, and so you have even less time before your car hits something as it wanders...because you don't even have the pull-over lanes to give you some leeway.

And what if it is that vehicle parked by the side of the road that caused you to blank out in the first place??

Construction vehicles now have similar brightly flashing lights.

These very bright flashing lights might work great if someone is really nodding off due to lack of sleep, or to sedatives they might have taken the night before, or because they have had some alcohol.

But what if there is another entire group of dangerous people on the road? The sober ones who have an undiagnosed, or untreated, or under-treated seizure disorder? What if a person forgot to take their seizure medication that morning? By evening they might be in danger, but only if driving at night and passing a vehicle that has its flashing lights on.

I hate to bring up a problem and not at least attempt a solution. I suggest that perhaps there are frequencies of flashes that are more seizure-inducing than others. Perhaps some simple research studies could be done where a Neurologist could work with the Police Department to find out which frequencies, what brightness levels of the lights, what colors of the lights, and what number of individual lights would work best to both alert a sleepy or drunk driver as well as avoid inducing a seizure in susceptible people.

I remember that the lights used to be part of a solid bar of diffused lights with only two colors and the flashes were much slower. Perhaps the brightness could be adjusted so that if a driver were to be driving right at the car they wouldn't cause glare-blindness like I experienced.

Or if that is impossible, I suggest that all curved roads be marked off limits so that police would not stop at locations that would require oncoming traffic to look right at them. Or perhaps barriers could be put to interfere with the lights, even a pull-off that was further from the road and perhaps had some thin bushes to block some of the light. You wouldn't want a barrier that would allow someone to have secrecy along the freeway for illicit purposes, however.

At the time, an idea came to me that Police cars could have the kind of lighting that would simply shine light on the car itself, so that it would be highly visible, as a car. And the cars could use that under-car lighting that is popular now. Maybe a lighting designer could design a cool-looking police car that would be lit up at all the right points, but not be flashing brightly directly at oncoming drivers. You could have the interior lit up as well.

Preferably, the lights would be pointed downward, lighting up the road, the car itself, and perhaps the policeman's path as he walks toward the other vehicle, which is exactly the information needed by a driver to avoid a collision.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ratatouille - Style Chili

I made this tonight for Supper and it turned out so good I am writing it down so I don't forget it and can make it again.

Ratatouille - Style Chili
Vegan, GF/CF

All Organic
The fresh ingredients are locally grown

1 - 2 TBPSP Safflower Oil
1 TBPSP Olive Oil, Extra Virgin
2 TBSP butter
1 can of black beans, drained
1 can of diced Italian tomatoes
1/3 can of tomato paste
1 small Yukon Gold potato, sliced into crecents
2 small fresh carrots with tops, sliced thin
Big handful of fresh Turnip greens
1 medium fresh Zucchini
Large package of fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 large fresh yellow onion, diced
Butter Leaf (Boston) Lettuce, rinsed off and torn into medium sized pieces
2 cloves fresh garlic, diced
1/2 cup water
Salt and Pepper to taste.

In a large cast iron skillet, sautee the onion in a tablespoon of Safflower oil,
after they start to get clear, add the garlic, and a little salt and pepper,
sautee a few more minutes.
Then add the butter and the mushrooms, cook about 4 more minutes.
Add the olive oil and the rest of the fresh vegetables, and a little more salt and pepper.
Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, black beans.
Cover and cook about ten minutes until all vegetables are just soft, adding water as needed to keep the chili from getting too thick. I made mine so that there was almost a soup-like sauce at the end.
Don't overcook the vegetables. I added the Turnip greens last.

Arrange the Butter leaf lettuce on plates to cover the plate. Spoon the chili over the lettuce just before serving.

NOTES and Cooking Tips:

The small potato is mainly for thickening the sauce. Crush a few of the small slices as you cook to make the sauce as thick as you like.

Sauteeing each different vegetable in different oils made the dish taste more interesting. Don't use too much oil or it will taste greasy and overpower the vegetables.

I learned this tip of adding salt and pepper a bit to each ingredient as it was added to the dish, it is like layering the flavours as you go.

This is a good dish if you are dieting as it is very low in calories, and is a nice change from having cold salads all the time.

The zucchini is soothing to the stomach. Did you know that zucchini is not a vegetable, but is technically an unripe fruit? You can also eat the zucchini flowers, put them on the plate as a garnish, lightly cooked.

Fresh is very important.
I shop almost daily, get what looks good, is in season and try to find things grown as close to where I live as possible. This sounds like more work, but it is actually fun, and everything you make will taste better, you will use your refrigerator a lot less, and so you won't have to clean it out as much (no more wilted, mouldy stuff in the vegetable bin.) Vegetables taste so much better if you eat them the same day you buy them. Vegetables loose up to half of their vitamins to evaporation during storage and transportation. So you will feel more satisfied by the food you eat for a longer time, and will feel less hungry later on.

Don't forget to put your vegetable scraps in a compost bin. I use an old ice cream container with a tight-fitting lid, then take the scraps out to the compost pile when it is full. Even if you have a very tiny garden, you can compost all of your vegetable kitchen scraps. Just pile them up in a location that isn't right next to your house and put dead leaves and twigs over them, and mix it up once in a while. Your house's foundation bushes will love some compost once a year, too.

When you open a can of tomato paste, take a small zip-lock bag (I use the 1/2 size) and put a large spoonful in the bag, zip it up and put it in the freezer. I usually use only 1/3 of a can in any dish, and the other two thirds becomes two freezer portions. Then you can grab one out of the freezer and add it to any dish quickly and none of the paste goes to waste. The half-size zip lock bags are better for the environment for when you don't need a larger size bag, so there is less waste. I try to keep a variety of sizes so that I never need to use more plastic than necessary.

I store my leftovers in glass containers with silicone locking-lids. I found rectangular-shaped ones at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I like the square shape because they fit together better in the fridge and stack easier than the round shape, saving space.

My grandmother used to have a set of pretty rectangular colored-glass containers with fitted clear glass lids that I loved. Hers were yellow on the outside and white milky glass on the inside, but they used to come in other colors. I wish someone would make them again. You can only find them in antique stores now. I prefer using glass because they are re-usable, have no chemicals to leach into the food, produce no waste, and they are nice for taking along to pot-lucks since they look nicer than plastic. You can use them to warm things up in the microwave, although lately I have been avoiding the microwave and trying to cook without it.

Cast iron is a great cooking material. Cast iron is inexpensive, and will last longer than you and your grandchildren. Some people use them for many generations and pass them down as family heirlooms. (Good for the environment, since each generation doesn't need to buy a whole new set of cooking pots, and less pots end up in the landfill.)

You can get some of your dietary iron from cooking in cast iron. They require a little different care than other types of pans, but it doesn't take longer -- its just different. I will post more about cooking with cast iron in another posting.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ideoform's Tips on Weight Loss

I, Ideoform, lost 44 pounds.

Someone asked what I did. I tend to give out way too much information... so I have to cut myself off all the time. And I did. Then I realized that I could just post it all here, and then give anyone interested the URL for this page. Voila, instant weightloss booklet. No missing information.

OK, basically it is not rocket science. Eat healthy and exercise. Both together.

Everyone knows that part, but there is this endless discussion about the details; "Eat what?" "Exercise how?"

And then there is the elusive "tips" section that includes all sorts of alchemy and superstition, mixed with sometimes contradictory scientific studies.

The most important part for me was finding out that I was allergic to food. And allergic to ingredients that are added to almost all processed and preserved foods. "Well, that makes it easy to loose weight," you say, but I was also craving food all the time. So that's a real problem...craving what makes you sick. Well, wait a minute, this is the same thing most overweight people have.

The thing is, there is way more to it than that. Addiction. Allergy. Immune dysfunction. Insulin resistance. Stress.

So it started with me gaining weight in the first place, because I was sick. Then figuring out why I was sick, and then feeling better and able to eat less and move around more easily without getting tired. I suspect there are a lot of people who are not true couch potatoes, but have underlying health issues that make it hard to eat correctly and to exercise and feel good while doing it.

Figuring out why you gained weight in the first place is a big part of loosing it. You just reverse the process, right? (None of us was born overweight, at the risk of hurting our mothers...)

I am going to start out with the tips, then. This is just what I do, and what worked for me, and you can try these things and see if they are a good fit for you.

I stopped drinking soda, any kind of soda, even carbonated water. I transitioned to carbonated water for about a week, and then gave that up too.

Reasoning behind the tip:
I understand that there is a chemical in the citrus flavorings in carbonated sodas and waters that affects the thyroid, and so I went to filtered water, and sometimes added some real lemon juice (from a fresh real lemon, not from a concentrate.) Diet soda has Aspartame in it, which affects the brain and can lead to an addictive process, and headaches. Oh, and I saved a lot of money, too.

I stopped eating or drinking anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup.
HFC has been known to be contaminated with Mercury, and can suppress the feeling of fullness you get from eating so you never feel satisfied. It also is processed in the liver, which puts an added strain on your liver.

I stopped eating anything after 8pm at night.

You don't want to be digesting all night. This helps you sleep better. (Unless you are starving yourself all day, and then your brain won't have the energy to sleep well.) Also, Sumo wrestlers are known to eat mainly at night, and then their bodies store more of the calories during the night, turning them into fat instead of movement.

This goes along with the previous tip: I eat breakfast every morning with my kids. Most of the time it is two organic, free-range eggs, poached, or over easy. Don't overcook the yolks of the eggs, they have biotin in them that you need, and cooking destroys that. But definitely cook them just enough so the clear part turns white. Some days it is gluten-free waffles with real 100% maple syrup.

Eating with my family is nourishing to me and my kids in more ways than just with calories. It gives me energy for my day, and makes me less likely to eat late at night.

Meditation 30 minutes per day.

Stress reduction. Stress causes cortisol to rise. Cortisol makes you gain weight, especially around your midsection. Meditation also retrains your brain, interrupts the negative thought-cycles that cause you to eat more because you are worried about eating more, which is a vicious circle. If you stop projecting your thoughts, you can stop projecting your current weight outward into reality and being stuck there.

Plant a garden. Can be any size.

Food you grow yourself tastes better. Really. Plus, it is organic (unless you decide to spray it with chemicals) and there is a study that says that taking care of plants is a big stress-reliever, and makes people live longer. Even if it is just house plants.
It is much more fun to eat vegetables and you are more likely to actually eat them just because they are there. Plus, you don't have to store them if you pick them as you eat them. Refrigerated vegetables loose some of their flavor. And this is better for the environment than having vegetables and fruits transported from other countries. Eating vegetables in season is better for your health.

Eat only organic food. (See above.)

Sounds expensive, but if you add in the cost of health care, you might find that it evens out. Pesticides kill things. End of discussion.

Take vitamins. Get your levels of vitamins tested if you can. Supplement whatever you are low in. Get chewable vitamins with no preservatives or artificial anything. Or get a liquid version. Add them to your smoothies so they absorb better. Make sure they are fresh and not rancid. The oils can go rancid, so open one up right after you buy it and smell the oil. If it smells rancid, take them back.

Make sure you are getting enough minerals. Get your water tested and find out what's in it. If it has lead, arsenic, or pesticides, filter it or buy filtered water. Then make sure to take a balanced mineral supplement. Make sure the supplement doesn't have lead in it, either.
One of my son's was having trouble sleeping at night. We discovered he was low in iron. So we supplement iron. I then got rid of all of my aluminum pans and all my non-stick coated pans and switched to cast iron.

If you filter your water, and don't use well water, you might be low in various minerals, too. Aluminum can be toxic to the brain. Cast iron pans are inexpensive, and will last longer than you do, and outlive your grandchildren, too. And they help you get the iron you need. Check your iron levels sometimes to make sure you don't have hemochromatosis (a genetic disease that leads too much iron in your blood.) Men don't need as much iron as women do. Men can have too much iron, so men, give blood to your local blood bank.

I stopped drinking juice I didn't make myself from scratch. I make lemonaide:
Recipe: Boiled, cooled, filtered water. Lemons, Turbinado sugar. I do sometimes still drink 100% grapefruit juice.

The labels on juices are deceptive. They can add HFC and can be corrupted with things added during processing. Juices can have a lot of calories. I would rather eat more food and drink less juice.

I trained my taste buds to like water when I am thirsty. I boil water, filter it, then put it into used Snapple bottles (or whatever bottles are the right size) and keep about a dozen in the fridge. I take them everywhere with me.

Recycling is good. Convenience is good. Water is good. This tip combines all three.

Wear New Balance Shoes. Get your feet fitted with arch supports you can put into any shoe, if necessary. I credit Flylady for this tip. ( The minute I get up in the morning I get completely dressed, to lace-up shoes. I don't go anywhere without shoes on. Birkenstock shoes work also, and they have sandals that work great.

I used to have knee, ankle, and hip pain. All great excuses for not exercising. Most of it went away with a bottle of Glucosamine/Chondroitin. The rest went away from this tip. I think that as I gained weight, my arches couldn't support my legs, knees and, in turn, hold my hips in the right position. All causing pain. No, this is not a plug for New Balance shoes. They just have the best arch supports of any shoe I have tried. They last a long time, and they are made well. And they don't kill my sensibilities with a mountain of advertising.

I stopped eating anything with nitrates in it. I do eat some meat, but it isn't processed meat. I buy the whole chunk of meat and cook it in a slow cooker/Nesco. Nitrates are in bacon, and almost all processed deli meats like hot dogs.

Nitrates cause cancer when they are exposed to high temperatures. I suspect they also cause cancer at low temperatures, but that I can't say for sure. Processed meats include animal parts I would rather not think about, much less eat.

I buy free range, organic meats with no added antibiotics or hormones.

Free range means the animal gets vitamin D from sunlight, is healthier, and doesn't need the antibiotics to stay alive until slaughter. Why eat a sick animal when you can eat a healthy one?

I eat less meat and more fish. I have a vegetarian day for the entire family twice a week or more.

I was a vegetarian for 15 years. I know how to cook this way and still get enough protein. If you go vegetarian completely (as in vegan), be sure to take vitamin B12 supplements. Being vegetarian is an easy way to avoid saturated fat.

If you do eat meat, never eat the fat. You can cook with the fat, but remove it before eating. For instance, you can broil a chicken with the skin on, but take all the fat drippings and get rid of them, and don't eat the skin. If I buy chicken breasts with no skin on, I coat them in olive oil before cooking.

The animal's body's way of dealing with toxins that their liver can't deal with right away is to store them in the animal's fat cells. You are eating everything the animal's body didn't want, and couldn't handle. This little tip is also in the bible, of all places.

I gave up margarine. I didn't give up all fats. I use organic cold-pressed olive oil, walnut oil, safflower oil, coconut oil, and flax oil. I gave up trans-fats before it was the IN thing to do. I use organic clarified butter, mixed with the oils for flavour sometimes. Clarified butter is also called Ghee.

Trans fats will kill you. Well, maybe not right away -- slowly. Your body can't digest them correctly. Fat isn't the problem, its what kind of fat, and don't overdo it.

Smaller portion sizes. Weigh and measure all of your food for a while. Keep a food journal. Use smaller plates, smaller cups.

Knowledge is power. Know what and how much you are eating so you can't live in denial.

I eat one square of dark chocolate every day. I get the best organic, free-trade, dark chocolate I can afford. I eat about 1 to 2 inch square with my coffee or tea for a snack. The average chocolate bar lasts me about four days. If I get really good chocolate, I don't crave the entire bar. And I know I will be getting some every day, so I don't moon over it.

Chocolate is good for me. Its good for my soul too. But it has to be really GOOD chocolate.

I learned how to cook from scratch. I watch cooking shows and cook like the chefs do. I experiment all the time, and I get a lot of variety.

The better tasting the food, the more satisfying a reasonable portion of it is. Plus, the more fun it is to share it.

I learned to cook -- from scratch -- seven healthy evening meals for the entire family, that everyone will eat.

Once I had seven healthy meals memorized, I didn't have the excuse that I didn't know what to make for dinner.

I eat my biggest meal in the middle of the day.

I burn off the calories during the day, instead of getting all bloated and tired at night. My energy levels at night are better. My boyfriend likes this part.

I eat nuts. I have them out in a dish where it is easy to grab a small handful as a snack. I get organic, raw almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios.

Almonds have calcium and have anti-cancer properties. Just eat less than 10 per snack. Walnuts are good for the heart (folklore: walnut hulls are supposed to kill worm eggs that can get in the heart.) Cashew butter can be a cheese substitute in some dishes.

I avoid sulfates. Sulfates are in dried fruits and wine unless labeled sulfate-free.

Sulfates give me a headache, literally. I think it is the sulfates that cause the hangover more than the alcohol itself, although I don't drink much for it to matter to me. I drink about two glasses of wine a week, on average.

I try not to spike my insulin levels. This means eating three meals a day plus two small snacks. I eat at the same time each day, and I exercise to burn off some of the calories each day. I follow the principle that I eat until I am 80% full, then stop. After 20 minutes, I feel full.

Too much sugar in your blood is caustic to your blood vessels, leading to heart disease. So your liver and pancreas work to produce insulin to manage blood sugar. The body burns some of it with movement (or fidgeting -- this is why kids fidget.) The liver stores some of it, and what it can't store the insulin directs into the fat cells. So I try never to eat more at one sitting than I can burn up by the next meal.

I exercise enough each day to empty my liver of any stored calories.

On the eliptical the display shows the number of calories burned. The liver can store about 400 calories. So I try to "empty my liver" at least once per day. Then I am in "fat burning mode" after that. I can actually feel this happening at a certain point in my routine. It happens about 25 to 35 minutes into cardio exercise. I hit this low energy point, and after a few minutes my body switches over to a different form of energy burning, and then I can go on for almost forever...

I got my thyroid levels checked. I was mildly low, and now take a thyroid supplement. This really helps. But go slow adding thyroid hormone. It can make your hair fall out if your thyroid levels change drastically.

Thyroid hormones help set your body's metabolic rate, heart rate and other things. Low thyroid makes you feel cold all the time. Creating body heat requires burning calories, and so you can gain weight just sitting there if your levels are too low. Low thyroid makes you constipated, and so nothing is moving, letting toxins build up in your system.

I got rid of mercury fillings.

I couldn't afford to do this all at once, but I made sure that as they needed replacing, I replaced them with non-mercury fillings. Mecury does all kinds of nasty things, including messing with your immune system, and making you feel fatigued. I grind my teeth at night, not good for fillings of any kind.

I shop for food more often. I go to the Farmer's Market in the summer, and I shop almost daily for fresh items. I buy what looks good and then make it the same day.

The food tastes better, is fresher, has more vitamins in it, and I don't have wilted vegetables getting mouldy in my vegetable bin, so I throw less of it out. Broccoli looses half of its folic acid each day it sits in the refrigerator. Besides, the food has already usually been stored for a while during shipping and sitting at the store. Around the world, more people shop daily for food than we do, and it seems to be working for them. My goal is to never actually use my refrigerator. It is very empty-looking now. Shop. Eat. Pray. Something like that every day. It works.

Another reason; if you are busy having fun shopping, cooking, and eating fresh, healthy foods, you are less busy thinking about your next trip to the fast food place.

I made a pledge to see if I could go to the gym every day for six weeks. I set a time in the morning right after dropping my kids off at school. I stayed for at least an hour.

In my mind, I made it AS important as picking my kids up from school. After all, keeping myself healthy was as much a commitment to their future as to mine, and my kids will need me for a lot longer than most children need their parents, since both of my children are disabled.

I got a free six-week membership. I had to prove to myself I would use it if I paid for another month or six. The bonus was that going every day made it a routine. A habit. And then it stuck. This turned out to be Much, Much easier than making a fresh decision whether or not to go to the gym each day. No decision necessary after the first one. Saved me a lot of emotional energy talking myself into going...motivating myself, ect., ect.,....

Another way to do this tip is just to challenge yourself to see how many consecutive days you can get to the gym in a row. Make it a competition. It is way easier this way than to try to "decide" with your brain somehow each day. There are so many excuses, rationales, denials, and twists and turns your brain can come up with that you will easily be overwhelmed with them within a week.

I try to get 9 solid, contiguous hours of sleep every night. I have very dark shades, and have a very comfortable bed with lots of pillows, and keep it very quiet. I go to sleep and get up at the same time every night, and try to keep the same routine on the weekends.

If I am tired all day I won't have the energy to do very much, including exercise or eat right, which, for me, includes shopping and cooking. If you are tired a lot, get a sleep study done and see if you have sleep apnea. Good sleep will help you loose weight.

I learned to swing dance. There is nothing like the combination of music and movement. They just go together.

The funnest way to exercise for me is to music. I have a small radio I got from Radio Shack I listen to with earbuds while I work out. I have a playlist of exercise music, and another just for housecleaning, which makes housecleaning an indoor sport.

Find a gym close you where you live. My gym is only five minutes away by car. Find a gym you like, that has activities you like. If they don't have something, ask for it. My gym is now getting together a ballroom dancing class.

If its farther than the grocery store, you will be buying more food than burning it off...

On nice weather days, I walk to the grocery, I walk to the restaurant, I take my bike to places.

Save the planet, reduce my need for products made with imported oil.

Chop wood, carry water.

Zen dictate that means, do whatever is required of the moment with zeal and gratitude for life. Join Habitat for Humanity and literally chop wood and carry water... great exercise and you have something "concrete" to show for it.

OK, the above things anyone can do and I am certain they will help.

I did one at a time.

I made them lifestyle changes.

Not temporary things. Like for instance, I gave up soda seven years ago and I never went back, and never will. Its a permanent change.

First of all, I reassure myself that I won't commit myself to doing any change I am not willing to make permanent. So if I am not ready for the change yet, I just don't.

So it was worth doing just this one thing for the first entire year. I think it takes 21 days to make a habit. So if you work to make good habits, instead of bad ones, you commit to doing the change for 21 days. If you change too many things at once you will forget, or loose your resolve because it will be too hard, unless you are living at a health spa and this is all you have to do during the day...

I don't have the energy to be going back and forth on things a lot. So I make the decision once. Not thirty times over my lifetime. This actually saves me emotional energy.

And once I get one thing to stick, it is so rewarding, and I see improvements in my health and so then it is easier to be motivated to do the next thing because my confidence in my willpower and ability goes up.

Here's the more specific-to-me things I did, that naturally had an effect and helped me to loose weight:

Two years ago I went on a very strict GF/CF diet. I didn't do it for weight-loss reasons. I didn't even do it for myself. I did it for my son who has Autism. I was curious to see what effect it would have on myself, and so I followed it, too. And it was just easier and simpler to have the whole family follow this at once. Its not a "diet" in the traditional sense of limiting calories. Calories is not the point of this diet. It is avoiding of certain components of foods that cause problems for me and my son.

GF/CF means no gluten/no casein. Gluten is a component of wheat and several other grains. Casein is in all dairy products except eggs. (I don't know why they call eggs dairy products.) Dairy means the stuff that comes from cows, goats, sheep that they feed to their young, and everything that people make out of that stuff. Both gluten and casein are additives in other packaged products and so you have to read all labels to do this correctly.

The benefit of this to me was all my symptoms of Fibromyalgia, IBS, and other symptoms that I had been suffering with went completely away. The secondary benefit was weight loss, but not the way you think. I ate the same amount of food. It was just that all my cravings for foods went away, and I felt more satisfied by what I did eat. I had more energy, and so exercise felt good instead of making me feel worse. In fact, now, if I get any kind of craving at all, I suspect that I have been exposed to gluten. I get fewer cravings during the week when I cook all my own food from scratch, and more on the weekend when I tend to eat out more. I love the way I cook, and I buy all my favorite foods, so it isn't that there isn't good food to eat.

It feels really good to eat a healthy meal and not feel like I am still hungry an hour later. What a relief not to think about food all the time! I still like to cook, I enjoy cooking shows, and I like to plan my meals and shop at the market, but I don't do it because I am hungry all the time.

I think that one of the weight-loss side-benefits of eliminating dairy is that I was avoiding something that often has a lot of hormones in it that can cause weight gain in cows. Well, if it can cause weight gain in cows, and makes a calf grow to be full-grown in less than a year into a huge cow, then perhaps it helps to avoid it if you are trying to loose weight. You can get all of the main nutrients from other places that don't involve a lactating cow as the intermediary.

I don't know how much the following things have to do with weight-loss, but they do involve things I have done to eat and live healthier and I suspect that being healthier in general has made it easier for me to think clearly, stick to my resolutions, and to move around and burn up energy. I also have a very healthy sex drive, with the added benefit of burning calories doing something very enjoyable to me and my partner.

I avoid Aspartame and all artificial sweeteners. I do use all organic Turbinado sugar, organic 100% maple syrup, dark chocolate, and some honey. Artificial sweeteners just add to cravings later on for me.

I drink organic, fair-trade green tea twice a day, but not after 4pm at night, since it does have some caffeen. My favorite flavour is Jasmine. I limit coffee to times with friends, and during that time of the month, when it seems to help with water retention better than tea. I buy organic, fair-trade coffee beans, store them in the freezer and grind them myself.

I avoid artificial food colorings. You can get a variety of colors with vegetables and natural products. I eat a rainbow of colors every day. I prefer red bell peppers to green because they have more vitamin C. I try to have a plate that has at least three bright colors on it every meal.

I eat a lot of organic berries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, red cabbage, fresh garlic, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, onions, mushrooms, fresh ginger, fresh lemon, fresh orange juice from oranges.

I have two categories for saving food:
Good ways to save "preserve" food:
Root cellar, refrigerator, salting, home canning, freezing, making jams/jellies.

Bad ways to preserve food:
Chemical/artificial preservatives, nitrites, BHA, BHT, etc... pesticides, heavy metals like lead, arsenic, aluminum, mercury. Believe it or not, these have all been used at one time...

I avoid all these things in products I use on my skin and hair too. If the nicotine patch works, then how does the chemicals that are in personal hygiene products like soap, shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, body lotion, makeup, lipstick stay out of your body? Well, the answer is, they don't.

I make my own cleaning products. This is easy as cake. It only takes a minute or two to make any product like window cleaner. I scent them with food grade essential oils (non-synthetic) like lemon oil, vanilla, and almond oil. I preserve them with a capsule of vitamin E or citric acid. There is a book called "Clean and Green" where I got most of my recipes. They are simple, with ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, borax, washing soda, vodka (to use as a disinfectant instead of the more toxic rubbing alcohol.)

The idea here is to avoid having hormone-disruptors in my house. This includes scented candles, deodorisors, room fresheners, laundry soaps. There are many artificial scents, and chemicals that affect the body's hormones. This makes it difficult for your body to operate properly.

I open my windows and make sure to air out my house at least once a week in the winter and as much as possible in the summer. I practice deep breathing exercises because I was told I was a shallow breather. Oxygen helps your body to metabolize and create energy. I took voice lessons and joined a performing choir. This forced me to breathe more deeply and it is the second-funnest way to practice deep breathing. I sing around the house while doing housework.

I try to get 30 minutes of sunlight every day, and failing that, I use full-spectrum lighting in my house, and take vitamin D in the winter. (I have been taking vitamin D for many years now, way before it was noticed that most people are deficient in it.)

I do yoga. I think it is important to learn to stretch your muscles out, particularly if you are tightening them up with weightlifting. I am not that flexible, but yoga is paradoxically both energizing and relaxing at the same time. It is great for keeping your balance, both literally and figuratively. I want to learn Tai Chi soon.

I took a class in massage. I learned to give a really good massage, and I trade with people who also are good at massage. This helps move the blood in your body around and helps your circulation, and is great for energy levels. Don't get a massage from an angry, negative, cynical person.

I try to stay around positive people. I think that getting out and around lots of different people is good, but it is even better to hang out where healthy people hang out, because I can soak up their energy. Some people do the opposite -- they can drain the energy out of a room....or a person. Notice when this is happening to you and make some changes in your life if necessary to minimize energy draining.

I learned not to internally beat myself up. If I have a "slip-up" I go right back to my normal routine as quickly as possible with no guilt attached. Last month I got the flu and I gained a few pounds because I didn't go to the gym so I wouldn't spread any germs there (always a very good idea). I rested, took care of myself, and I didn't get all mad at myself, as soon as I felt better, I just went back to the gym again.

I read something positive every day. I plan ahead, set goals, and write them down. I also tell someone my goals -- to put them out there in the universe and set them in motion. My current goal is to loose another 40 pounds. I used to weigh 134 for much of my adult life before I got sick. I want to weigh around 140. I am 5'9" tall and very strong and this would be a good weight for me.

I wear comfortable clothes that fit me. If I gain I have clothes that fit. If I loose I have clothes that fit. I don't do traditional diets that lead to yo-yo weight gain, but I do always try to wear clothes that aren't too tight or too loose.

Try to love and appreciate yourself. I learned this one from Flylady also. If you are gentle with, and taking care of your physical self, and you are nurturing and caring of your emotional self, you will naturally be in a better mood to do what is healthy for you. This is different from selfishness. It is selfish to live in a negative, self-defeating way, that causes you to need more health care, medicine and other people's patience.

I want to say that almost none of these are my original ideas. I can credit Oprah's magazine, Dr. Phil's books, Dr. Mercola's website, Flylady's books, and others. I picked and chose from their ideas and suggestions what I wanted to try, and it is the above combination of things which finally worked for me. I know for certain now that if I am not sick with the flu or something, that if I follow this lifestyle I will continue to loose weight and keep it off, and to do it in a healthy way without risky surgery, starvation diets, or dangerous drugs.