Thursday, March 15, 2012

Searching For Healthy Products To Use At Sundog

In just 90 days we will be living at Sundog full time, and it occurred to me that we will need to be much more environmentally sound in our cleaning product choices since we will be on septic.  No more detergents or "antibacterial" soaps!

Of course, I should have made these changes a long time ago, for the sake of the environment in general, and I have tried to get around to it.  However, for some reason I never seemed to "have time" to try anything new when I was working full time, and sticking with "what worked" was easier.  Now, as I pack my boxes for our move, I have to admit there is substantial room for improvement.   

Now that we are retired, money is also a factor.  Kim and I cannot afford to buy designer eco-friendly products.  So, whatever products we use need to (1) work reliably, (2) be septic system friendly, and (3) be affordable.  We are willing to put in some time to make a few things if needed, and we also want to keep it simple (the fewer ingredients, the better!).  I have a lot of notes and books on this topic that I have gathered over the years, so I will finally implement their suggestions and report back on the results.
If this is a topic that interests you, check out my new page on this blog titled "Healthy Home Products".  I am going to keep a running list of items that I use for cleaning and personal care at Sundog, and note how well they work.  You may be surprised to find a number of food items listed (like coconut oil, vinegar, and baking soda).  That is because many foods make great cleaning and health care products!  I know, it is a little scary to step out and try something new, but my life's motto has become "Just Do It!".  In the long run, being proactive has never steered me wrong.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What We Have Learned About Food!

Our ancestors were onto something!
In our quest for slimmer, healthier bodies, Kim and I have been reworking our "diet".  We are determined not to go on a crash diet (one that is temporary and unsustainable), but to change our diet so that we become and remain healthy.

Not only have we both found it is very hard to lose weight and keep it off (like most women our age), we have also suffered from a variety of minor aches and pains (due to joint inflammation), acid reflux and digestive complaints, tiredness and difficulty sleeping.

Well, that all seems to be changing, thanks to the elimination of grains, dairy products, processed foods (including sugars) and legumes.   It all started with a special cleansing diet we embarked upon in December that was designed to reset your system and reduce any built-up toxins in your body that might be contributing to aches and pains.  This diet eliminated most meat (other than fish and chicken), all dairy, coffee and tea (other than green tea), alcohol, sugar (other than what naturally occurs in whole fruit), eggs, processed foods, and most grains.  It was tough, because, up until that point, most of our diet came from red meat, grains, eggs and dairy, and we often had a glass of wine with dinner.

Once we completed the 30 day diet, Kim and I were surprised at how GOOD we felt.  Acid reflux, most of our aches and pains, and 10 pounds were GONE!  We felt awake and clear headed during the day, and slept better at night. We also noticed we were not having any sugar cravings, and the cakes, cookies and other sweets we passed in the market no longer called our name.

However, Kim was anxious to add back her morning coffee (with milk), and we both were looking forward to adding back STEAK, and many of the other items we had done without.  We were warned to only add back one item at a time to see how it affected us.  Eggs and steak (to our relief) reacted well in our new clean systems (no recurrence of former complaints), and goat cheese and yogurt were fine as well. However, cow dairy products no longer sat well with me, as was demonstrated by mild stomach aches within an hour of consumption and a sense of lethargy all the next day.  The same was true for processed wheat (ie BREAD)!  I tried adding them back several times to test to be sure it wasn't something else, but these symptoms recurred every time.

In the mean time, I began reading more about foods and diets that eliminate grains and dairy and hit upon a book called The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf.  Robb is a former research biochemist turned health guru, and he offers a fairly convincing argument for eating grain-free, legume-free and dairy-free.  I will not go into the details now, but suffice it to say it was enough for Kim and I to take up his challenge and try eating as he suggests for 30 days. Heck, we survived December's diet right? And it didn't even let us have BEEF!  At least the Paleo diet allows (and in fact encourages) eating meat as long as it is raised organically and the red meat is grass fed (in other words, the animals need to eat the food that is natural to them).

Another book that is influencing our food choices is called Plan-D, by Dee McCaffrey, who is also trained as a chemist.  Her diet plan includes whole grains and legumes as well as some dairy, so she does not share Robb's outlook on the dietary issues that might be caused by these foods.  However, like Robb, she slams processed foods of all kinds (including most processed and artificial sugars), and she goes into excellent detail about why these products are a problem. She also provides a great section on oils - which ones to eat and which to avoid and why (you might be surprised to know Canola oil is NOT good for you, nor are most seed and vegetable oils) - as well as what supplements to add and why.

So, Kim and I are now on the Paleo Diet, informed by the excellent information in Dee's "Plan-D" as well (although we are avoiding grains, legumes and dairy for the time being).  We will stick to it faithfully for 30 days, and see how we feel.

Getting Ready For Our Move!

Looking forward to long hikes with my boys at the Ranch!
Kim and I very busy preparing for our move to Sundog Ranch, which should happen late in the Spring of 2012.

First and foremost, we are working on our physical fitness.  Ranch life will be filled with activity and we want to be prepared.  We will be chopping wood, hauling hay, shoveling manure and dirt, and building shelters for our animals, not to mention riding horses!  Kim and I both realize we cannot sustain these activities in our current physical condition.

Most of my life has been spent behind a desk or training dogs.  The last serious aerobic activity I engaged in was 20 years ago when I was a touring cyclist and avid Tai Chi enthusiast.  I weighed in at 130 pounds back then, and had great muscle tone.  How I long for those days!  Since that time, physical injuries and work stress (not to mention over-eating) have taken their toll and added 64 pounds to my frame.  Yep, you read that correctly, I currently weigh 194 pounds (down 10 pounds from last year)!  I am at least 40 pounds over a healthy weight for my age.

Kim is in the same boat.  Although she has been physically active for all her 53 years, she has had to undergo several operations to correct the physical damage caused by heavy lifting as a delivery driver for UPS.  Long recovery times for these injuries have taken their toll, so that as of this year (just months before retiring), she also finds herself 40 pounds over her proper weight.

The solution?  Back to the basics - diet and exercise!!! Last September Kim and I started reducing our calories, eating better, and adding more exercise to our routine. Now that we are retired, we have the luxury of focusing on ourselves for the first time in our lives, and our attention has paid off.  Since we started paying attention to the food we are eating we have each lost 10 pounds, but, as I said, we still have 40 more to go!

More important than the weight loss, of course, is our aerobic ability.  At this point, the ladies over 65 in my aqua aerobics class are kicking my butt!   However, I will persevere and hope to be able to best them in a month or two! :)

In the mean time, I have been reading and learning a lot about food choices.  More on that in my next installment!