Sunday, May 26, 2013

Here's To Your Health and to Your Self-esteem

The Food Lover

There was a guy that loved to eat. What could be better than eating really tasty foods? When he was at a restaurant, he was there for the food not the ambience.

He believed good tasting food didn't come from a package and so he would take the time and effort to make recipes from scratch. He had a subscription to America's Test Kitchen. He followed food blogs, and he liked seeing tasty-looking food dishes on Pinterest. In a pinch though, if it was late or he was tired, he wasn't opposed to eating prepackaged food. 

Over the years he slowly put on pounds. When he was out and saw another guy with a big tummy he would ask his wife, "Am I as big as that guy?" She tried to be kind. Finally he had to admit he was overweight, really overweight. He was not very physically active, it was too hard to pack all that weight around. Getting up and down took real effort.

You Shouldn't Have to Starve

He really believed you shouldn't have to feel like you're starving all the time to lose weight and keep it off. He knew any diet that required counting calories or keeping track of food consumption would not work over time. With those diets the dieter usually has a weight loss goal. If the goal is reached—and frequently it isn't—the dieter stops worrying about keeping track and goes back to old eating habits. The end result is always the same; the weight comes back. He didn't want that to happen.

A lifestyle change was what he was looking for. He reduced the amount of highly processed snack foods he ate, and he tried to cut back on his use of sugar. He managed to lose twenty-five pounds and felt good about that, but he had a long way to go and he had stalled. He wasn't really losing more weight.

Then he came across the book Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Dr. Fuhrman recommends natural foods and for the most part eaten in their natural state: leafy greens, vegetables, beans, mushrooms, and fruit. He recommends a strict six-week program to get your body off all unhealthy foods and to break addictions.  This was more radical than what the food lover was looking for, but he was sick of being fat. This book gave hope. He figured he could do the six-week program and then decide if he wanted to stay with it.

No Starving, Great Eating

The results were immediate and significant. At the end of the six weeks he had lost another twenty-five pounds. Best of all he felt great and he wasn't starving! As his taste buds recovered from years of being subjected to unhealthy foods and too much salt and sugar, food was tasting better all the time.

Hello out there. I know I'm getting visitors to my website, but I don't know if anyone is really reading it or if they just land, see what it is and fly. If you got this far, I figure you're reading it.  I'd love to hear from you. The story I just told is about myself and it's true.

Building Confidence

The point is, I'm losing a lot of weight and my self-esteem is improving. I've learned that self-esteem comes from accomplishing things for yourself. It comes from learning to be self-sufficient. So I'm also growing a garden, not just any garden, a square foot garden. I have five times the number of vegetables in my garden this year than usual, using less than a third of the space. Vegetables that will provide much of what I eat throughout the summer and into the fall.

I'm excited, but it doesn't stop there. I'm taking back my life. I feel more independent. I have cut out TV; I did that several years ago and what an improvement. I spend more time studying and I'm learning wonderful things. The more independent I become the more I want to do things for myself. I especially don't want to rely on the government to take care of me or solve the problems in our society. Independent thinkers, millions of them, are where the solutions to our problems lie, not with bureaucrats or power hungry politicians.

I'm looking for like minded people. As I learn and grow, as I become more independent, I look more closely at those who seek to govern and the direction they are taking our society.  I believe this is true of all independent thinkers. But as individuals we have no chance of taking back control of our society. As millions of independent thinkers we will have the power to change the direction of our society, regardless of what country we live in, and whether we all believe exactly the same way.

The Garden

We harvested the first vegetable from our garden: radishes. The radishes are for my wife; I'm not a big fan, but we all had to try one. It was a fun event.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Healthy Living and Becoming More Self-sufficient

My Garden

Well the frost came and the frost won, kind of. My garden boxes were covered with canvas tarps and I still had damage to my cold-intolerant plants. The eggplant and spaghetti squash are goners. The tomatoes may survive. Their roots look undamaged and there are a few tiny leaves, but the four inches of beautiful green growth is gone.

Before: Look at the tomato in the lower right corner.

After: The same plant, all the top growth is dead.

I know there are ways to protect cold-intolerant plants from frost, but I still haven't figured it out, short of building a greenhouse or waiting to plant until all chance of frost is past. I want to plant these cold-intolerant plants earlier for a longer harvest season. I know a Wall 'O Water works because I used some several years ago, but they are hard to get off the plants once the cold weather is over and they're heavy and would smash the soil in my garden box, something you don't want to do in a square foot garden. I'll have to experiment with this.

I had two pepper plants: one green, one red. The green pepper is probably a casualty, but the red pepper looks just great. All my other cold-tolerant plants came through the frost without any problem.

The pepper that survived.

The green pepper, it may have a chance. Those are peas in the background.

Self Confidence

Being in control of my diet, more in control of my personal health, and succeeding at growing a large variety of healthy foods is a huge boost to my self-confidence. I am doing this. I'm cultivating the vegetables, fruits, and herbs that will make up my diet. I know exactly what went into the food I will be eating and there's no long list of ingredients I can't pronounce. Ingredients whose base terms sound like derivatives of sugar and salt. I'm learning as I go. I'm doing my little part to improve the environment. And, most important of all, I feel closer to nature. I'm developing a greater respect for the earth and a desire to live in harmony with it. Psychologists and feel-good coaches tell us if we are self-confident we will be more successful. I think that is turned around. When we are successful at doing something we feel more self-confident.

Healthy Living

Shouldn't foods that are healthy for our bodies taste good? Genetically speaking, I think our bodies want to be in optimum condition so they should thrive on healthy foods. That means healthy foods should taste good. And I've learned they do!  But before I could discover this I had to break my addiction to unhealthy foods. I started out strictly following the healthy eating program explained in Eat To Live by Doctor Joel Fuhrman. It was probably about two weeks before I began to notice healthy foods tasted good and were satisfying.

In hindsight, I realize I was being overpowered by my addiction to bad foods; my taste buds were desensitized. Now that I've been through detox, healthy foods taste really good. I still have cravings for foods I was addicted to—addictions never go away completely—but the cravings are less frequent now. On occasion I have given in to a craving and eaten some unhealthy food. It still tastes good in my mouth, but how I feel afterwards isn't worth the fleeting high. I give in to those urges a lot less frequently.

Addiction is a strong word, and the right word. Addiction means our thinking and our senses are out of balance. Addiction leads to over consumption of food; our bodies crave addictive foods even when we have recently eaten. Dr. Fuhrman says true hunger doesn't crave certain foods; addictions crave certain foods. I think most Americans are addicted to unhealthy foods. I have no statistics or recent polls to support that, although I'm sure there is information available. I don't need them, when I'm out around people, my eyes tell me it's true.

I visited a website that was touting a weight loss program. It had a catchy little animated sequence accompanied by audio narrative (all very professionally done). The narrator explained how, using his program, you could eat some of what he called the bad foods and still lose weight. He talked as if the bad foods were the only foods that really taste good. As if good foods are like taking bad tasting medicine. Isn't that backwards?

Although I eat mostly leafy greens, vegetables, beans, and fruit, I'm not a vegetarian. I do have a few small portions of meat a week—not every day. It's usually chicken, turkey, or fish. To me healthy food is fresh, unprocessed food. The more processed a food is the more unhealthy it is. Often what makes a particular food unhealthy is what we put on it. You can eat a completely vegetarian diet and still eat a lot of unhealthy foods. Sugar, salt, and refined white flour top my list of unhealthy foods.

I prefer to eat my vegetables fresh and uncooked, but when I do make soup or cook vegetables I try to use my Sun Oven. I love my Sun Oven. It uses no energy except the sun and the food cooked in it is always good. I'll have more to share about my Sun Oven in coming blog posts.

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ahhh! Save the Square Foot Garden

The first big test

There is an alert for a hard frost in my area tonight, May 1, 2013. I hope my tomatoes and peppers survive the night.

Here are my plants two days ago.

Spinach on the left radishes on the right.

Green pepper upper left, spaghetti squash lower left, and a Roma and cherry tomato lower right

Red pepper upper left, peas lower left, and two Early Girl tomatoes lower right
Last night, April 30, 2013, it got down to around 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Here are the covers I had over the boxes, the one on the right blew off during the night. I went out early this morning and put the cover back on.

This morning we celebrated the first day of May with a spring snow storm; it was typical, by 9:30 a.m. there was no sign of snow, but the cold left its mark. The tomatoes in the box where the cover blew off were looking wilted, but the pepper plant looked ok. In the box that didn't lose its cover, the pepper plant was looking wilted. The tomatoes looked at least better than the ones that were fully exposed to the cold.

The cover material is see through, but the manufacturer says it will protect against frost. After last night I wasn't convinced. So, with freezing temperatures in the forecast, I'm taking extra precautions tonight. I left the covers in place and put tarps over them. 

For the third box, I took the cover off and laid down a plastic tarp. This box is almost completely planted with vegetables that are supposed to tolerate the cold. All the plants are still quite small and shouldn't be damaged by the tarp. There's a little space under tarp because of the wooden grid.

At least with my square foot garden boxes the area is small enough I can easily cover them. 

My fruit trees are another problem.

All the trees are in bloom except one peach tree that always blooms later than the others. The trees cover a much bigger area than the garden boxes. I put sheets over parts of each trees, but I have no idea if that will help at all. Here are my fruit trees.



Every year freezing temperatures get to the fruit trees. Some years blossoms survive and I've had a good yield; some years I've lost everything. Last year I got no fruit from my favorite apple tree. Tomorrow brings a brighter dawn, I'll see if any of this paid off.

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