Over disinfecting

antibacterial

Kitchen Cleaner?

Are you still using antibacterial soap and cleaners in your home? My family has been opting out of both for a while now, and I just assume everyone lives like we do. But recently a friend of mine sent me this FAQ titled, Ditch Disinfectants, by Dr. Andrew Weil. I thought I would share the article because is has a lot of good information about how the ingredients in disinfectants, triclosan in particular, are building up in the environment and, “potentially making germs tougher and more harmful to us.” If you’ve never heard of him, Dr. Weil describes himself as a, “world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit.” The FAQ is really interesting, stating that antibacterial products are not, “necessary except in nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare settings where there is a high risk of spreading infections from person to person. There’s no proof that the antibacterial soaps and washes marketed for home use serve any useful purpose. Soap and water do just as good a job of cleansing.”

Marketing for antibacterial products has done a number on us for years now, especially moms. The ads make you think that your house will be crawling with bugs and harmful germs if you don’t use antibacterial cleaners. Here is a snippet from Lysol’s website, “LYSOL® Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner cuts through grease to help clean kitchen messes and kills 99.9% of germs* to help protect your family from the spread of foodborne bacteria like salmonella*.” Scary, right?

I’m a full believer in the science behind, “dirt don’t hurt.” We like to play in the dirt, and the only thing I don’t like about dirt is trying to get it out of my kids clothes. Call me old school, but a good soap and warm water scrubbing will kill everything you come into contact with, plus it doesn’t smell weird.

If you are looking for an anti-antibacterial cleaner, I wrote a post a while ago on how to make your own glass/counter cleaner using castille soap, vinegar, and water. And there are hand soaps out there without antibacterial chemicals in them, Softsoap makes a version, you just have to look around at the grocery store and you’ll find them. I’m still searching for a hand soap that has no chemicals, and more soap. I’d love to hear from you guys on what soaps you use, I need recommendations!

Nutrition 101

healthy walking

Get outside for a healthier you.

I have so many questions about food, and most of the time I like to go out and research and find the answer myself, but sometimes it is nice to talk to an expert to clear up some things. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Betsy Templeton, a Health and Nutrition Coach in Carrboro, NC. I threw some random questions at her and she did a bang up job of following my train of thought. Be sure to check out her diet/exercise tips below for busy moms and dads.  Here is our interview:

Question: It completely overwhelms me to think about whether or not we are getting all the vitamins and minerals we need in our diet. Is there some simple chart, or system that you use to advise your clients? We take vitamins to supplement what we don’t get from food, but still, I’m uncertain.

Answer: Whether to supplement or not is a controversial issue indeed. I believe that a good diet is the best path to optimum health. There are no simple charts or calculations to determine the need for vitamins and supplements. But there are factors other than one’s diet to look at when considering the use of supplements. Some of these factors are: age, medical history, family history, alcohol consumption, exposure to chemicals and toxins, stress level, and if the individual is or was a smoker. There are some specific groups of people who can benefit from vitamins such as women of child-bearing age, people over 50, people on a vegan diet, and folks recovering from an illness or operation.  I strongly believe that most healthy adults can satisfy their vitamin and mineral needs by eating well and I mean really well every day! When I am working with a client, I look at the whole picture and also have them consult with their doctor. Another key point is the quality of the vitamins and supplements. There are so many of these products on the market with varying degrees of credibility. I am very discerning as to which brands I use myself and recommend to my clients.

happy family

Betsy and her family

Question: I personally feel like whole foods are the only thing we can trust when it comes to food, is that too simple? I know there a ton of diet plans out there, but I feel like I’ve been able to maintain my ideal weight (after having two kids) by just eating healthy foods and exercising.

Answer: I think you have the right approach. Diets don’t do anything but sell diet books! Eating whole foods and exercising on a daily basis is the key. Of course we all need a splurge on occasion but it is the solid day-to-day habit of eating consciously that is the path to a healthy life.  In addition to whole foods there are other facets of our lives that play an important role in being truly nourished. These aspects are healthy relationships, our work, physical activity and spirituality. In my experience when we work to achieve balance in these areas of our lives we feel more satisfied and are less likely to fill the voids with unhealthy foods.

yoga teach

Find balance in your life.

Question: My dad had open heart surgery and heart disease runs rampant on that side of the family. My question is, do genetics really matter that much when it comes to things like heart disease, and other medical conditions? I would like to believe I can control my future with diet and exercise, but do we have any control?

Answer: Great question. Let me speak from experience. My father had vascular disease, very high cholesterol, and a massive stroke at 54. Through extensive rehabilitation and a super healthy diet he lived to be 85. I am the youngest of his 3 daughters. My sisters both have high cholesterol and take medication for it. I have been eating mostly a plant-based diet and a gluten-free diet for many years. I have been practicing yoga almost daily for 15 years. I am 55 and my doctor proclaims that I have the best cholesterol panel he has ever seen. Not trying to brag here, I am just saying that I do think it is possible to decrease your chance of some genetically disposed diseases. Again, diet, exercise, and stress management must be a part of one’s lifestyle for this to be possible. That being said, you can not escape genetics.

Question: On a lighter note, any diet/exercise advice for busy moms and dads?

Answer: I think you have a great way to exercise by including your kids. Why not make exercise fun for the whole family? There are many ways to fit exercise into a busy schedule.

  • First, turn off the TV and see how much more time you have!
  • Cordless jump ropes are cool and handy for the busy traveler.
  • There are many great yoga and Pilates DVDs for home use.
  • Using a pedometer to count your steps is fun; set a daily goal for a certain amount of steps and find a way to meet it!
  • Having a dog is also a great way to stay in shape and wonderful for families.
  • Taking the steps versus elevators is productive as is parking on the far side of the parking lot.

I know that cooking for busy families can be a struggle. Finding a good resource for quick, healthy recipes is important. Also using slow cookers can be useful. I like to teach my clients how to cook once and end up with 2 or 3 meals. Meal prep and planning is vital. I recommend getting the whole family involved in the meal planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning! I strongly encourage families to eat together at the table as often as possible and avoid eating in the car!

Question: What do you personally do to stay healthy?

Answer: I have a dedicated yoga practice and teach two classes a week. I also take a Pilates class and have a weight routine that I do at home. I walk my dog daily and my husband and I hike with him on the weekends. I am lucky because I adore cooking! Cooking and eating healthy food brings me joy as does sharing my passion with others. We have a nice vegetable garden at home which provides me with lots of amazing ingredients and inspiration! I also meditate to keep my stress level down. It took me a while to discover this, but yes it works.

glasshalfull

Glasshalfull in Carrboro

Betsy also owns a small business in Carrboro, Glasshalfull. It is an awesome little restaurant, wine bar and wine shop. I’ve heard wonderful things about the place and asked Betsy to tell me a little more about it. “Since I spend most of my time as a Health and Nutrition Coach, I am only at the restaurant on the weekends. When I am there it brings me much pleasure to see people having fun, relaxing and sharing great wine and delicious food at Glasshalfull.   It is a lovely spot for a fun date or a perfect place for groups to gather. We are fortunate to be a few blocks from the Carrboro Farmer’s Market where we try to support the local farmers and bring the best products available to the table. There is something for everyone and all are welcome!” Check out her restaurant if you live in Carrboro or are planning to visit the area soon.

Here is Betsy Templeton’s contact information:

www.goldenbeetwellness.com
betsy@goldenbeetwellness.com
Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach
Member of the American Association of Drugless Practicioners
Certified YA YogaWorks Instructor

And cheers to healthy living!

Do you consider yourself healthy?

I’ve been on a mission to eat healthier since I started this blog. Mission isn’t the right word. There have been things I’ve ignored over the years because I was pretty sure I would have to make some changes. And I felt like those changes were overwhelming to even consider. If you asked me a year ago, I thought that we already ate healthy, patted myself on the back constantly for how ‘healthy’ I was. I’ve come to realize we can do better, and hopefully feel better from some minor changes in our diet. There were things I knew weren’t good for us, like MSG in our salad dressing, and SO MUCH sugar in our delicious granola bars, but I kept buying them because I didn’t do the research and decided to just stay in the dark because it is easier to keep doing what you do.

Since writing this blog I’ve been empowered to try making my own salad dressing, and living without those lovely granola bars that won’t be named, plus so many other new things. And I’m actually excited, because changing isn’t as hard as I feared. It does take time, and most of us don’t have an abundance of time, but I’m going to keep at this for now, because it feels right. If you think about it, isn’t being healthy worth your time? I mean what is your time worth, if you don’t feel good while you are living it?

This led me to wonder if everyone feels that way about their health. If you aren’t having pressing health issues, do you just assume everything is fine? Is your medical doctor the only person you feel can tell you whether or not you are healthy?

If you really think about your diet, and how much you exercise, and the stress in your life, do you consider yourself healthy?

Forks over Knives, movie review

I recently watched an interesting food documentary, Forks over Knives. I’ve been watching a lot of them lately, but this one stands out because of the interaction of these two dudes. One is a scientist, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., and the other one a medical doctor, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.. They believe you can prevent and even reverse disease with a plant-based diet. If you are interested, here is the full synopsis.

One point in the documentary that I haven’t heard before was about how the typical American diet of highly processed foods and animal-based meals fool your body into thinking it isn’t full. Basically – your mechanisms of recognizing fullness aren’t working properly when you eat these foods. People who eat this type of diet aren’t necessarily lazy, they just have to overeat in order to feel full. If you eat a plant-based diet then you will feel more full, even though you will be eating more often, and more food overall, but you will not be overweight. The documentary compares processed food to having a low-grade addiction. WOWZA!

The documentary also suggests that processed food and a animal-based diet not only make you fat, but cause diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. There are lots of examples of people who were going to the doctor and being given pills for all their different symptoms, but their doctors weren’t really sure what the problem was. People were taking pills they didn’t want to take, with side effects that were causing even more problems. The authors believe you can reverse the damages of these diets/pills, with a plant-based diet.

I guess my purpose in writing about this documentary is simple – if you are feeling sluggish during the day, having problems sleeping at night, having a hard time finding energy to get stuff done during the day – maybe, just maybe, you should try a different diet. Processed foods and animal-based diets should be questioned. A lot of people don’t realize that you can and should feel good all day every day – you don’t have to get rid of meat, just use it for flavoring instead of the main part of your meal. And processed foods, yeah – no excuse, get rid of them.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a meat eater and a work in process with getting rid of ALL processed foods, but I think what these authors are saying is really interesting, and worth a try if you are suffering and want to change your life.

Birthday Week

Birthdays

5 birthdays?

So this is my oldest kid’s 4th birthday week. She has had/will have 5 parties in seven days – ridiculous, right? In my defense, I only planned 2 of them, one of which is her actual birth day and you have to make that a party, so I feel less than 50% responsible. As a mom I’m required, or feel required, to prepare for all 5 parties. We also have family in town for the birthday girl, which means I’ve only run once this week. One big fat lame 2 mile run and I’m starting to feel the grumpiness creeping in on me.

I really need to run more, but it seems I’ve run out of time this week. I am planning on doing a really hard-core trail run on Sunday with one of my great buddies who has been preggo for about 10 months, and is getting back into running, YAY! I will be back on track next week with strength training and running all over the place. That is the wonderful thing about running, you can always pick back up where you left off. You may have to start off a little bit slower, and cut your mileage back a little if you’ve been out of the game for a while, but you can always go back.

My husband thinks I’m crazy, as I’m sure a lot of people do, but running keeps me sane. When I run, it releases all these delicious endorphins that help relieve stress, and make me smile. And who doesn’t love to smile. I guess running is more of a need, than a want at this point. It’s how I self medicate. Side effects include early morning wake ups, happy moms, healthy hearts, great lung capacity, eating ice cream every now and then. I could go on and on.

Have a great weekend, ya’ll! Go OUTSIDE!

Weekend Cooking Extravaganza

Out and About

Out and about, loving the outdoors

One of my runner chick friends, Stephanie Gupton, and her family, came up with this fantastic idea for working parents, or non-working parents. This “Cooking Extravaganza” idea is a fast, efficient way to cook a ton of your weekly meals, make sure those meals are healthy, plus spend quality time together. I asked her to give me the low down on how it works, mostly because I want to copy her, but also because I thought it might be a nice idea for other families who struggle to eat well during the hectic workweek.

Question: Tell me about your family’s weekend “Cooking Extravaganza”. What prompted you to start doing this, and what was the result of doing this for you, your family?

Answer: In our lives, before Abigail, Jason and I would get home from work and exercise each weeknight. Afterwards, we would make dinner together, and we always made enough for leftovers for lunch the next day at work. Both of us are really good “leftover eaters,” which was key for our “Cooking Extravaganza” to work for us.  We both are really interested in eating healthy and whole foods. I wish we ate less meat, and more local… but at this point, I think we are doing well.   After Abigail was born, and before I went back to work, I would prep for dinner while Abigail was napping during the day, be ready for a run as soon as Jason got home, to give them some alone time together, and then cook up dinner after the run.

Once I was back at work though, I didn’t want to lose a second of my dwindling time with Abigail after work by cooking or exercising, and neither would Jason.  Thus we came up with the idea of “Cooking Extravaganza,” and exercising while Abigail sleeps.  It started meekly, with just trying to cook dinner for 2 days, but this experiment quickly turned in to trying to make it so we don’t have to cook all week-long, or at least until Thursday night.

Fresh Veggies

Fresh veggies, on the chopping block

Every weekend that we don’t go out-of-town, and on the lucky ones where we get back in time on Sundays, we do our “Cooking Extravaganza” on Sunday nights.  This usually starts with grocery shopping as a family on Saturday, and then on Sunday afternoon, we pull everything out of the fridge.  We are fairly sexist about it, Jason cooks the meat, and I do the veggies/grains, but it works, and I’m not going to try to liberate it. Normally Jason grills on the charcoal grill: a fish (usually salmon), chicken (like thighs and breast meat), and some pork (chops, tenderloin, etc). But on a rainy or cold, or lazy day, it all goes into the oven/broiler. My job is to make a salad, steam green vegetables: like asparagus/broccoli/kale/green beans, make some potatoes: sweet or russet, a grain: rice or cous cous, pasta, etc.

Sometimes we’ll do a crock-pot meal: soup, chili, pulled pork, etc. Usually there is an all-in-one meal, for instance casserole, chicken pot pie, curry, or burritos. Then we just eat everything we’ve cooked for lunch and dinner for the rest of the week.  We try to pack it individually a bit so that is easier during the week as well. Abigail is getting to the age where she will help me in the kitchen. Last week she ate 10 cherry tomatoes while I was doing salad prep.

Question: Tell me the pros and cons of doing this, in your opinion. Did you feel like it was a huge amount of extra work?

The End Result

Voila – almost a week’s worth of delicious, healthy food

Answer: The pros clearly outweigh the cons here.  Sunday this work takes about an hour of Jason and I both cooking like maniacs, and then we all eat together, put Abigail to bed, and then clean up for 45 minutes. It is definitely more work than we want to do on a Sunday, but it makes the rest of the week so much easier. We heat up food for dinner, and only have to put dinner plates in the washer each night, not scrub pots and pans. We normally make it to Wednesday at least, but usually through lunch on Thursday.

Question: What do you personally do to stay healthy?

Answer: We have reorganized our workout schedule since having Abigail because neither of use want to lose any time with her. I run from 5:30-6:30 am, and Jason works out from 8-9 pm at night.  It is hard, but well worth it for the fun times with our sweet girl that we get every day.

 

The Toussaints truly make the most of their work/family life, including adding in working out to their crazy hectic schedule. It’s one of the things I love about Stephanie, she never complains about not having enough time, or not being able to find the time to do the things that are important to her. She makes it happen. What a great example Jason and Stephanie are setting for their daughter. You can do whatever you set your mind to, you just have to get up and do it!

One seriously cool cleaning trick

Simple 'Green' Cleaner

These two ingredients make a simple, ‘green’ cleaner

The smell of bleach never fails to make me feel sick. For most of the day after I use bleach for cleaning, I feel like I’m breathing the horrid smell back in. Actually, I feel this way about most cleaning products, the smell is just too much. I have eczema and if I don’t wear gloves when I clean, my skin goes bonkers. I always felt like it was a necessary evil in order to get our kitchen and baths clean. I’ve spent many a nap cleaning bathrooms, showers, and toilets, and recently noticed that the bleach smell was permeating the entire house. Then it occurred to me, if my nose and lungs were hurting, then my kids were probably suffering, too. Probably more so than me, since they are still growing and developing.

I started researching and asking some of my brilliant mom friends, and discovered you can use baking soda and vinegar to clean your sinks, tubs, toilets, and showers. When my friend told me, I was doubtful, it felt too good to be true. I figured I would give it a try since I already had the items on hand and had a nasty sink to attack. (I like bullets and don’t get to use them enough, so here goes.)

Recipe for Sink/Tub/Toilet/Shower Cleaner

  • Shake some baking soda in a wet sink
  • Pour a bit of vinegar in on top of the baking soda
  • Scrub the fizzing solution until clean

When you mix vinegar and baking soda, they start fizzing like mad, like you are performing your own little science project. Maybe I’m 100 years behind the times on this one but it really made me so happy to not have to use something that smells bad. I have these two items in my home already, they are mostly environmentally friendly, and they don’t stink, or burn your nose when you use them. Everybody wins! Well, not the cleaning products industry. I feel like I’ve purchased so many “green” cleaning products that don’t really get the job done or over-promise on what they can do, plus they are expensive. It was nice to use something I had on hand, and I know is safe for all of us to breathe in. You should try it, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.

*Improperly diluted vinegar is acidic and can eat away at tile grout.