Archive for May, 2010

What the Biggest Loser Has Taught Me About Emotional Eating

Last night was one of the last episodes of the Biggest Loser for the season. The final four contestants went home for 1 month to do 2 things – train for a marathon and lose more weight. The marathon came, and my favorite contestant, Daris, ran that marathon in 4 hours. It was unbelievable. I think he’s my favorite because of his ability and love of running. Five months ago, he weighed over 300 pounds. Not he’s running 26.2 miles in 4 hours! Unfortunately, when it came time to get weighed, another unbelievable thing happened. He gained 2 pounds. It was disappointing but not totally surprising. There was a video clip of him while he was at home standing in his kitchen at 1am – eating and eating. He said that he wanted to eat something to make him feel better but then he just feels worse and eats something else to try and feel better. I felt really sorry for him and for me because I am victim of the same problem – emotional eating.

Emotional eating is not uncommon. I would bet most overweight people have gained their weight from it. You’re stressed, depressed, sad so you eat. You think that food will make you feel better, and it does but only for a moment. You feel guilty because you ate junk so you decide to eat something else to make you feel better and the vicious cycle begins. Now, there is a lucky population that can’t eat when they are feeling these emotions but many people do, including me and Oprah.

 

Being healthy requires you to eat healthy. Emotional eating does not support eating healthy. How do you stop it? I’m not a psychologist, but I do know that the first step is to recognize that you are an emotional eater. If you don’t know that is your trigger to eating, how can you stop it? The second thing is to find another outlet for soothing those emotions, and shopping isn’t one of them. I know several people who are emotional shoppers. Same situation, buying something makes them feel good so they shop. Unfortunately, they only feel good for a moment, so they need to buy something else. Different problem but same trigger.

I think the best solution to emotional eating is doing other things that make you feel good about yourself. Having confidence and believing in yourself trumps all those other emotions, and then you don’t need 5 cookies to make you feel better because you already feel great. Getting that confidence is actually quite easy. All you need to do is exercise. Exercise gets those endorphins pumping and you’ll get a natural high. Physically pushing your body can be very rewarding. You end the workout feeling strong and powerful. You raise your confidence level because you have accomplished something positive. Now you’ll start a healthy cycle. You won’t want to undo the great workout you just had by eating junk, and you won’t want to eat junk before you workout because you won’t be feeling your best. All you need to do is get off the couch and start moving, even if it is as simple as taking a 15 minute walk. If you find you’re tired in the evenings, set that alarm for 15 minutes earlier in the morning and get moving before you start your day. You’ll find what works for you.

What I love the most about the Biggest Loser is not the physical transformation that the contestants go through but the psychological. They start the season depressed and in emotional pain, sometimes so great that your heart breaks for them. As they shed the weight and gain self-confidence with their newfound strength and physical abilities, they emerge as happy, confident, and strong individuals. They smile so much more at the end of the season compared to the beginning. It is so inspiring to me to keep moving and eating healthy. I hope that Daris can resolve his emotional eating issues before the finale next week. We all slip up once in a while. Despite his setback, I’m still cheering for him.

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ADHD and Strawberries?

Just read this on CNN.  Pesticides are now linked to ADHD.  This finding completely makes sense to me.  The ingestion of chemicals into developing brains have to have some type of negative effect.  If you saw your child smoking a cigarette, you would rip it out of his mouth.  Cigarettes are filled with toxic chemicals and that addictive nicotine.  You can’t see those pesticides, so instead of knocking that strawberry out of his hand before he eats it, you applaud him for eating healthy.  All the while, that strawberry is filled with toxic chemicals too.  Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  Be educated and help your children to be as healthy as possible.  Buy organic when possible, or at the very least, buy local.  Keep the Dirty Dozen list handy when you’re grocery shopping and make smart, healthy choices.

Creeping Charlie Isn’t Hanging Out in the Front Yard Anymore

Recently, I wrote about my desire to get rid of a nasty broadleaf weed called Creeping Charlie. It has been on its way to taking over our front yard and back yard the past 2 years, and we have launched an all out offensive on its destruction. That might be a little melodramatic. Despite our green ambitions, we did spread weed killer on our lawn this year. I still feel guilty about the choice to use chemicals on our lawn instead of organic options, but from my research, organic options don’t exist for getting rid of this invasive weed. The only “natural” option that I read about was Borax, which is used in the laundry. Borax is a natural occurring mineral and will change the pH of your yard. Creeping Charlie grows better in a more acidic soil than grass. If you raise the pH of your lawn, you may successfully kill the weed. Of course, if you raise the pH too much, you’ll also kill your grass. The boron found in Borax will always stay in your soil, so effectively, you’re altering the entire composition of your soil. Borax is considered ”not acutely toxic”. That doesn’t mean that you can let your dog eat it and he’ll be fine. All that being said, I don’t see how using Borax is any better than a chemical treatment.

I really wanted to comment on the progress of our offensive, not go on a tangent about Borax. We haven’t seen much improvement in our back yard, but there is very little Creeping Charlie in our front yard. My husband did apply weed killer last Fall in the front yard (he never got around to the backyard). So, it seems the research that I did that said that most effective time to apply the weed killer is in the Fall is accurate. We’ll definitely wait and apply the weed killer this Fall. I’m optimistic about the results for next year.

There is a yard in my neighborhood that is perfect. It has no weeds. It is thick. The grass is dark green. Every time we walk by this house, I admire this lawn. The other day, I was out running and the homeowners were outside, so I asked what they do to keep their lawn looking so nice. I have always assumed that they pay big bucks for a professional lawn care company to come out and spray their lawn a couple of times a year. It turns out, I was wrong. He applies fertilizer 4 times a year – that’s it. He said up until a few years ago, he would put down grass seed too. Now he doesn’t need it. I guess it’s true. The easiest way to keep weeds out of your lawn is to have a thick healthy lawn. By the way, there are plenty of organic fertilizers out there.

Would you like some fruit with that pesticide?

2010’s Dirty Dozen of Produce has recently been released. The most notable change for me was the addition of blueberries. Here is the list including the amount of pesticides found on each type of produce.
blueberry
1. Celery (64 pesticides)
2. Peaches (62 pesticides)
3. Strawberries (59 pesticides)
4. Apples (42 pesticides)
5. Blueberries (52 pesticides)
6. Nectarines (33 pesticides)
7. Peppers (49 pesticides)
8. Spinach (48 pesticides)
9. Kale (number not provided)
10. Cherries (42 pesticides)
11. Potatoes (37 pesticides)
12. Grapes – imported (34 pesticides) – This includes wine!

What can you do to avoid these nasty chemicals? Buy organic. If organic doesn’t fit your budget, avoid buying the produce on the list. Focus on items on the Clean 15 List. These are items that are “least likely to have pesticides detected on the parts you eat, after typical washing, whether or not they’re certified organic.

1. Onion
2. Avocado (guacamole!)
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet Peas
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papaya
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomato
15. Sweet Potato

Trying to Understand Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)

We are definitely going solar. We put our deposit down on our system last week and in 2 months we’ll be generating power (barring any unforeseen circumstances) Not just any power but clean, renewable energy that will help offset the carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that are not being generated from using fossil fuels to generate electricity. That makes me feel good. It makes me feel even better when I think about the money involved. I know that sounds backwards, but the reality is if you’re thinking about installing a renewable energy system, now is the time to do it. Yes, it is expensive, and yes, you must pay for it upfront. However, the federal tax credit gives you 30% of those costs back when you file your 2010 taxes. That’s non-taxed money. Currently in Pennsylvania, there is a Solar Rebate that you’ll get approximately 3-4 months after installation that is also about 30%. That is taxable but still a good chunk of change. At the end of the day, we’ll pay less than ½ of the total cost to put in this system.

The money doesn’t end there. Our hope is to pay little if any electricity costs. Any extra power that we produce and put back into the grid will be paid for by our electric company at the end of the year. That means they’ll pay us for giving them power. The goal is to break even on electricity costs at the end of the year, which means that we’ll pay nothing in electricity. Lastly, we will be generating SRECs – Solar Renewable Energy Credits. This is where things get confusing.

I have been trying to understand what these SRECs really are and what their potential value is. Essentially, Renewable Energy Credits can be generated for every mega watt of power produced by any renewable energy system. Every REC is a tradable commodity. That means that it has a market-determined value (I haven’t figured out how that value is determined yet) and you can sell your REC for money. That seems pretty straightforward. What I struggle with is who and why are these people buying RECs?

Google has provided me a lot of information. People and business buy RECs as an opportunity to support renewable energy. The money is a motivator for people to install and use renewable energy systems. The money used to buy these RECs is frequently used to further invest in renewable energy sources. Basically, any individual person can buy a REC. Why would you do that? To support a green environment. Essentially, for you and me, it’s like donating money to charity. You’re funding an effort to make the world a little greener without having to make a significant investment such as installing a solar energy system.

What stumps me is why are businesses buying so many RECs? I’ve listed multiple links below to articles about different companies purchasing RECs. Every article cites the company’s commitment to green initiatives as one of the reasons for these purchases. Wells Fargo says that supporting the development of renewable energy is good for the strengthening the economy. I buy that. PPL says that buying the RECs will help in “reducing compliance costs and demonstrating good corporate citizenship.” I can’t figure out what “reducing compliance costs.” I’m really struggling with the “good corporate citizenship” line. Corporations must be getting something for buying RECs. Is it tax breaks? Do owning RECs offset a business’s federal requirements for emissions output? If anybody knows, please enlighten me. I may have exhausted Google in my research the last couple of days and am still not confident that I understand what is motivating businesses. Maybe I’m too jaded about corporate America, but I have a hard time believing that business are spending the money to buy RECs out of the goodness of their hearts.

Now that I am starting to understand what RECs are, I need to figure out what to do with them when I actually get them. Google – get ready.

What other businesses are buying RECs? Some of these articles are old but the information is still pertinent.
http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/4035283
http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/02/06/lockheed-martin-buys-recs/
http://www.blog.thesietch.org/2007/05/01/greening-up-the-sugar-water-industry-pepsi-buys-a-billion-kwhs-worth-of-renewable-energy-credits/
http://energypriorities.com/entries/2005/06/starbucks.php

No More Bottled Water – Wouldn’t That Be Nice?

This article caught my eye on cnn.com this morning. A town in Massachusetts is banning the sale of bottled water starting in 2011. This town’s motives are purely environmental. The hope is to reduce the consumption of plastic bottles that fill our landfills and the amount of oil used to manufacture those bottles. This article cites a statistic of 17 million barrels of oil needed to produce plastic water bottles. That number is just for water bottles. Think about how much more is needed for producing soda bottles, Gatorade bottles, juice bottles, etc. Next time you’re at the pump complaining about gas prices, I hope that you don’t turn around a take a sip of water from a plastic water bottle.