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Choose natural fabrics over synthetics

By | clothing & accessories, Sleep | 3 Comments

A man in San Francisco was recently arrested for stealing thousands of pairs of polyester underwear. When asked why he was doing this to people, he said that he was trying to save their butts. His attorney later commented that due to his client’s good intentions, he was expecting a brief trial. RD

Julie Genser, Planet Thrive blogger, lives in a small Arizona community with others who have environmental intolerances. Their bodies can’t handle the load of toxins in “normal” towns, buildings and even in their underwear. Cotton is one of the few fabrics tolerated by chemically sensitive individuals like Julie. Some people are so extremely sensitive that they need to boil the cotton and air it out for weeks to sanitize it before they can wear it. And some people are so sensitive they can’t even wear cotton clothing if it’s made with synthetic thread! Allergista

But why does this matter to you? If synthetic fabrics can have such a negative impact on some people, this may be a sign that natural fabrics are better for all of us. Your skin is porous. Have you ever had poison ivy or felt your hands burning after cutting hot chili pepper? If so, you understand that what touches your skin can affect you.

Synergy cotton organic cape jacket

Many people are careful about the foods they eat and the cleaning products they use. But you can also minimize your potential exposure to toxins by paying more attention to the fabrics that touch your skin. Whether you’re choosing clothes, bed linens, blankets or towels, look for items made from natural fabrics.

Cotton is the most popular fabric in the world.

Cotton comes in a variety of forms: chintz, corduroy, denim, flannel, khaki, Pima. Because cotton is soft, comfortable, durable, and washable, it’s used for just about every type of clothing.

If you live in a warm climate, you can build the majority of your wardrobe around cotton. When it’s too hot or humid, avoid wearing denim or corduroy. The thicker fabric doesn’t breathe as well and if you wash them and hang them to dry, they can take a day or two to dry.

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups

If you’re interested in adding more cotton to your wardrobe, check out companies that specialize in eco-friendly organic cotton such as SynergyEarth CreationsFaerie’s Dance, or H&M (Hennes & Mauritz AB), or check out EcoSites.org to find more.

Linen is synonymous with wrinkles.

No matter how well you press linen (flax), it creases as soon as you wear it. But like cotton, it’s cool and breathes well. If you don’t mind the crinkling, it’s a fabulous fabric for warmer climates. Although linen is great for casual activities, it’s not necessarily a good choice for business. If you want a softer look, launder it yourself and skip the ironing and dry cleaning.

Check out this clip from Renegade Health on the benefits of organic clothing . . .

Hemp is a renewable resource.

Hemp can grow in various climates and conditions around the world. In many cases, hemp and cotton can be grown without pesticides. This helps reduce toxins that end up in our water supplies, so it’s healthier for everyone involved: the farmers, textile workers and customers.

If you’d like to learn more about the many benefits and uses of hemp, take a virtual visit of the US Hemp Museum. According to this nonprofit, “hemp is, overall, the strongest, most durable long-lasting natural soft fiber on earth.”

Look through the many beautiful styles available at GramicciEarth Creations, Hempest or Rawganique.

Wool can keep you warm even when it’s wet.

Wool (Alpaca, Angora, cashmere, Mohair, rabbit) is relatively easy to spot-clean. It’s good for activities in cool humid or wet areas because its natural antibacterial properties help it resist moisture and mold. It also has superior strength and durability over other natural fabrics.

dry cleaning wool sheepBut wool has some disadvantages. First, it requires extra care and attention. Some pieces have to be dry cleaned, and others have to be washed in cold water, or they can shrink drastically. Second, wool has a beastly odor when it’s wet. If you wash and hang-dry a wool sweater indoors, it may smell for a day or two. Third, the texture of wool can be irritating to some. Wool tends to be bulkier than other fabrics, so it takes up more closet or suitcase space.

If you find wool irritating, avoid wearing it directly on your skin. Layer other clothes under your wool pieces, or try softer cashmere or angora wools instead. You may also find that lined suits or jackets that are wool blends may also be easier to tolerate than things made with 100% wool.

One good thing about wool is that it’s a renewable product, and the animals aren’t harmed in the process. But according to the Organic Trade Association, insecticides are applied to sheep to control mites, lice, flies and other pests. In addition, antibiotics are used for growth promotion to compensate for unhealthy overcrowded conditions, which contaminates nearby water.

Silk is smooth and soft without being slippery.

Because it drapes well and helps keep warm air near the body, silk is often used for scarves, blouses, dresses, suits, lingerie and pajamas. It’s comfortable, but not as durable as other natural fibers. If you get a spot on silk it can be tricky to clean, especially when you’re traveling. Some pieces require dry cleaning. If you launder it yourself you may need to use a steamer to get the wrinkles out or carefully press it with a warm iron. Otherwise you may damage the fabric. Many silk items can be fairly high maintenance, and therefore, are not necessarily ideal everyday use or travel.

Silks (chiffons) are produced by insects such as mulberry silkworms and moth caterpillars. When it’s harvested from cocoons, it kills the larvae, so some people who avoid it because “thousands of silkworms are killed just to make a small amount of material.” NGE

If you love silk, consider buying from a company who takes these things into consideration, like The Ethical Silk Company.

Leather can grow in comfort and beauty as it ages.  

When you first buy a leather product, it may be bulky, stiff or heavy, but it usually becomes more comfortable the more you wear it. If you have a favorite jacket, purse or boots you like to travel with, consider wearing them if you’re going by plane. Otherwise, you’ll need extra space in your luggage. Unless you’re traveling by motorcycle, leave your bulky chaps, leather bags and pants at home.

Leathers and suedes can stain easily and be tough, if not impossible, to clean. It can also be difficult to layer with other clothes (with the exception of belts) and, therefore, isn’t nearly as versatile as other fabrics.

Lots of shoes are made with leather because it’s a durable and warm material. If you’re expecting to use them in rain or snow, it’s best to waterproof them. Use a nontoxic product such as Bee Natural or Obenauf’s.

Leather is made from the skin of various animals: buckskin (usually deer, moose or elk), nubuck (cattle), suede (usually lamb, but sometimes goat, calf or deer) or lambskin. Because leathers are animal products, some vegans and animal-lovers avoid it.

Although leather is a “natural” fiber, the tanning process involves the use of many chemicals, some of which have a negative impact on workers and the environment. Every year, millions of cows, pigs, deer, lamb, and other animals are slaughtered for food. Their skin is be a byproduct of that industry. If you’re concerned about the welfare of animals, or the impact of the tanning process on the environment, you may choose to minimize the amount of leather (and meat) you purchase.

Natural Fabrics logo brownAll-natural fabrics are the safest option for your health. Natural fibers breathe and wick moisture better than synthetics. Even though they may be treated with pesticides and contain dyes and fixatives, they generally have fewer hazardous additives than synthetics.

If you want to be extra cautious, choose fabrics made from organic fibers which were grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or toxic herbicides and pesticides. But keep in mind that even they go through chemical processing before they become fabric.

If you’re interested in buying all-natural clothing like these, or others such as bamboo, check out Gaiam or Sweetgrass.

As you begin to transition to more natural fibers, begin with the things that are closest to your skin most of the time. For most people, this begins with underwear, basic tops and bottoms and pajamas or sheets.

If you happen to work in the medical field, check out the uniforms by Natural Fabrics. People who work in this industry are so lucky. Their work is called “practice” and they get to wear pajamas all day. Well, scrubs aren’t pajamas, but they’re just as comfortable.

Organic Consumers Association

Happy people stop working, but never retire or quit

By | BODY, BUSINESS, health, MIND | 2 Comments

Michiko Itosu has been running a rainwear shop in Okinawa, Japan, for the past 65 years. She has been working nearly every day from 8 am – 8 pm, taking vacation only during the New Year holiday. Her daughter and granddaughter also work in the shop, and the two of them speak fairly good English. When I stumbled upon their shop in downtown Naha, I discovered three friendly women eager to talk to me. Ironically, I was equally interested in learning longevity secrets from this 91 year-old shop owner.

Japanese 91 year old woman Michiko Itosu - Version 2When I asked her about her secret to good health, she said, “work every day and eat vegetables.” But I could tell by the look on her face that Michiko wasn’t really working. She enjoys helping people select rainwear. It’s not work to her. The smile that’s molded into her face is genuine. She helped me slip into several different raincoats, demonstrating the best way to snap and belt each one for the best look.

Do you spend the majority of your time on activities that you’d do regardless of whether or not you got paid?

For years, researchers and journalists have been curious about healthy old people in Okinawa. Reporters interview them for feature articles and longevity experts poke at them, literally, as they try to uncover the secrets to a long and healthy life. Some of the elderly seemed to be annoyed by Westerners like me walking around with a camera, while others were friendly.

Most of the exceptionally old people I interview say they enjoyed their work which they talk about as if they’re talking about a hobby they love. Whether farmers, teachers, doctors or artists, they’ve got a treasure chest full of stories. Most talk more about how they help people rather how much they earned. It doesn’t mean that they’re less motivated. In fact, they can accomplish more over their lifetime simply because they live longer. Turtles can win races against rabbits.

Do you love what you do enough to do it the rest of your life?

If not, consider putting a plan in place to change soon. When you do what you’re passionate about every day, not only will you enjoy life more, you’ll naturally reduce your stress. It’s so much easier to get up each morning when you love what you do.

Okinawans are known for living exceptionally long lives. Coincidently, the Japanese language has no word for retirement. If you visit the island, don’t be surprised if your taxi driver is in his 70s and the hotel concierge is in his 80s. That was the case for me. When I traveled to the island, I saw working elderly people in many places. When I asked their ages, most of them proudly told me. One taxi driver happily shared his age. At a red light, he pulled a case out of the center console showing his recognition medal of honor for more than 50 years of safe driving.

In the US, birthdays are happy celebrations up until the 21st. This celebration is the first legal toast with alcohol, the welcoming elixer to surviving the rat race. Many Westerners avoid talking about their age by the time they get to their 30s or 40s. When asked, they may pull out the “I’m 29 again” groaner to avoid revealing their age. If you took a poll on their favorite day of the week, more would say “Friday” than “Monday.” The US even has a restaurant in honor of the last day of the work week: TGI Fridays!

Short-sighted American companies often target “over the hill” people as the ones that need to be weeded out. This is justified, in part, due to the high cost of health care and the lower life expectancy of Americans compared to other first world countries. CIA Life Expectancy. Unfortunately, this results in a lot of great experience and wisdom getting extracted from organizations prematurely. Lots of great workers are put out to pasture, unwillingly, just as they’re reaching their prime.

IMG_8847 Okinawa rain wear shop owner (smaller)Even after 65 years of helping people in and out of raincoats, Michiko still likes to help people stay dry in the rain. “Years ago people bought more rainwear because they rode their bicycles,” she told me through her granddaughter who translated. Michiko, along with her daughter and granddaughter, work together selling rainwear 7 days a week.

“Today, lots of the young people go by car, so they only want umbrellas,” she told me. She has adjusted her inventory to meet their needs. Regardless of your age, you can make adjustments if you want to remain relevant in your field.

Many centenarians have habits that keep their minds sharp. They adopt new ways to remain proficient in their chosen field. Many centenarians in longevity hot spots never really retire from the work and activities they love. Although they may leave one employer or even close their business, they continue to share their talents and find ways to add value to society. They’re not quitters.

Have you mistakenly felt that you’re too young or old to be happy with your work? 

Centenarians didn’t get to their age by saying, “I’m too old to do this or that.” Many of them work well into their 80s or 90s doing what they enjoy. It keeps them alert and gives them a reason to get up and moving each day. Age itself is rarely the limiting factor in any country. Although there are laws which regulate minimum ages of doing things, there are very few things you can’t do because you’ve passed a legal maximum age.

Work satisfaction is one of the secrets of some of the world’s oldest people, and ironically, many are humble gardeners or laborers who are physically active every day.

Smart people sit at desks all day, while wise people get their hands dirty. Although educated women with desk jobs typically earn more money and have longer fingernails, they tend to lead more sedentary and shorter lives. Don’t be afraid of dirty short nails. If your work involves low-impact physical labor much of the day, you’ll probably be better off in the long run.

Whatever you do, don’t retire to a sluggish lifestyle. A sedentary retirement often leads to boredom, lethargy, depression, and a downturn in health. Even if your work is relatively sedentary, it still causes you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do.

Do you leave work each day with a healthy sense of satisfaction and well-being?

Some jobs are better for your health than others. Jobs that expose you to toxins, or require you to do sporadic shift work, put you at high risk of injury, or require you to sit at a desk all day, are likely to have a negative affect on your health. If your job is causing too much stress, what good is it doing you or your loved ones? Resolve the issue or find a different job. You’ll be much better off in the long run.

Health is the greatest form of wealth, but unfortunately many people don’t realize it until they’re facing illness. Although your income can affect the range of options you have in life, your economic status is no guarantee of happiness or health.

If you have a full-time job, you probably spend about half of your waking time getting ready for work, thinking about work, commuting to or from work, and of course, working at work. You give your best energy each day to your employer or customers, and your family and friends get your leftovers at the end of the day. Does this routine sound familiar? Doesn’t it make good sense to use all this precious time, your life, contributing to a product or service you believe in?

Are you passionate about your work?

One of the greatest regrets many people have late in life is that they didn’t take more risks to do what they really wanted. You probably know a few people who found a way to turn their passion into their source of income. They don’t even think of their vocation as “work.” If you’re already doing work you love, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you’re not satisfied with your job, consider finding one or two mentors who love their occupation, and ask for their guidance as you transition into more fulfilling work.

Don’t stress too much over any particular job. Be creative and put together a plan for your future. One of the best ways to reduce your work pressure is to keep your living expenses as low as possible. Use your time off work for retraining or making other changes that will help you to reposition yourself, if necessary. Or volunteer or take on a part-time job doing what you love. This alone may open new doors for you.

Remain positive through transitions. Knowing that you’re working toward a better future should help to give you the extra energy you need to get there. You may not be able to make drastic changes quickly, but if you plan carefully, get training as needed, you can find a way to support yourself while expressing your talents and interests at the same time.

What’s the point of burning away your days doing things that feel meaningless? Doesn’t it make sense for you to enjoy your work, get along with your colleagues, and be in an environment that’s conducive to good health?

Do happy people tend to find ways to like their work, you may wonder? Or is it that people who do the work they love tend to be happier? What I’ve noticed is that happy people who live exceptionally long lives never really work, retire or quit. They wake up every day and do the things that bring them a lot of pleasure and just enough income to meet their modest needs.

3 BIG Benefits of Flexibility Exercises

By | BODY, health, love | No Comments

man splitTommy Cooper asked his personal trainer if he could teach him how to do splits.
“How flexible are you?” his trainer asked.
“I can’t make Tuesdays,” Cooper said.

Are you ready to loosen up?

Imagine putting on a pair of loose pajama pants. You feel the softness of the fabric as you pull them up your legs and over your hips. You tie the drawstring, just enough to keep them up. They’re adjustable and comfortable.

Now put on a pair of pants that are tight. You suck in your stomach and shimmy to get them around your buttocks. As you struggle to pull up the zipper and fasten the button, you feel the strain in your waistline. You immediately begin to feel tense and cramped.

Strive to be more like your favorite pajamas. They’re simple but strong, soft but durable, symmetrical but flexible. They have plenty of wiggle room to allow for the movement of your body, thoughts and dreams.

You’re probably familiar with some of the foundations of fitness: strength, balance, endurance and flexibility. These are important not only for maintaining your physical health but also your mental and spiritual health. By practicing flexibility exercises in these areas of your life on a regular basis, you stand to gain three BIG benefits:

1. Become a more likable person.

Stretch your relationships. Who do you like to be around? Positive people who share your interests, profession, genes or personality, right? They comfort you without challenging you too much. When you’re interacting with others, you’re literally spending your time (your life) with them.  Surprise people with deep questions like, “What’s it like to be you?” Invite yourself into someone’s personal space one day and back off the next. Exercise your thoughts and consideration by giving your full attention to the people around you. Your days and your relationships are among your most valuable assets.

yoga group pose men womenConnect with strangers. Experiment with various activities which give you opportunities to interact with others. MeetUp is a great way to find others gathering for a common purpose. Be an active participant open to learn. Talk a little. Listen a lot. Imagine what life would be like if you happened to be the person you’re talking to. As you take time to partake in the stories that shaped their lives, it’s easier to understand their perspectives and beliefs. It can be an enlightening exercise for you as well as others. Give people the gift of not only of your physical presence, but also the presence of your mind. By practicing the art of connecting with others, not only do you gain strength, but so do others around you.

Become more tolerant of other people’s beliefs. It’s not worth getting upset with colleagues, neighbors, family members or anyone else because of the decisions they make. Their choices are based on the beliefs that saddle their heart. Notice your emotions as they swell up inside you. Your emotional triggers have all been customized to you based on a concoction of your significant life experiences. Meet, greet or dismiss your emotions as they come to you. Leaders, counselors and comedians make their living helping people with the physical, mental and emotional tightropes that connect them to others. Learn from these people and you’ll become better at walking your own tightropes, finding ways to tap into deeper connections with others by loosening your own saddle. Ultimately, you walk away from nearly every encounter in life free, as you always have been, to act on your own convictions. With practice it becomes quite easy to be agreeable to things that have little relevance in the long run.

2. Improve your health.

See yourself as you want to be. Everyone has needs and wants, and some people have ambition as well. A few people are compelled to achieve big goals like becoming an olympic athlete, a bestselling author or the next Nelson Mandela, while others have smaller objectives like learning to cook, losing 10 pounds or reading a spiritual book. Regardless of how big or small your objective is, it begins with a thought. Thoughts are like seeds–some multiply. One tiny apple seed has the potential to become a mature apple tree producing somewhere between 50-100 apples a year. An apple seed, given the right environment, can eventually produce apples, but it will never produce oranges. The Secret to good physical, mental and spiritual health begins in the thoughts that occupy your mind.

hatha yoga legs over head manStretch throughout the day. Lay down on the grass in the evening and look up. Take a few deep breaths. What do you see? Lift your legs straight up. Maybe you’ll see an airplane flying under your feet. Is there someplace you’d like to go? Slowly lower your legs toward your body reaching your toes toward the ground behind your head. Hold the pose for a minute or so if you can. With regular practice, you’ll be able to flex further. Maybe you can already touch your toes to the ground. Maybe not. Maybe you’ll be able to next month or next year? Maybe never. Release your stretch. Give in slowly to the gravity which is pulling your legs back down to the ground. Look up at the stars. You don’t need to go anywhere special to stretch. Wherever your body goes your mind will follow.

11 Equipment Essentials for Everyday Exercises

Expand or contract your spiritual rituals. Some Hindus, Buddhists, Seventh Day Adventists and other religious systems practice vegetarianism because of their spiritual belief systems. In some cases, they also back up their decision with evidence of physical benefits. Many Muslim women veil their bodies, exposing only their eyes and hands. They do it out of obedience to God or their culture. Some say it frees them from being judged by their looks or their body. Their beauty is reserved for their husbands only. Catholics tell their wrong-doings to priests to confess the sins on their conscious. This sacrament reconciles them with God. How are you exercising your spirit? Try practicing some new rituals or letting go of some that don’t feel right.

3. Generate valuable ideas.

Be a curious lifelong learner. To remain relevant, you need to be willing to do one of two things: adopt to the ways of younger generations or lead change. In some cases it’s good to keep doing a thing the same way if it serves you well . . . at least until it doesn’t. You need to know when it’s time to yield to change. If you like board games, learn a computer game. If you like connecting with people by phone, try texting, Skyping or doing a group video call in Google Hangouts. If you’re passionate about history, find new ways to bring it back to life. Stretch your imagination. Exercise your freedom to think about anything you want.

Make a habit of doing things for the first time. As each new generation comes of age, it comes with its own leaders who have the courage to question status quo. These change-makers bring new ideas, trends, technologies, and more. It’s normal to be afraid of trying new things, but it’s also one of the best ways to grow and discover treasures that are hiding all around you. Check out this clip. This is the first time I ever spoke to an all-male Toastmasters club. This is what it’s like at the amazing the amazing Club 1600 in the Bahamas . . .

Open your heart to other belief systems. Cultural, political, sexual and religious belief systems have been shaping you from the time you were born. Your perception narrows over time unless you take steps to exercise the connection between your conscious and subconscious. When you poo, it doesn’t even occur to you that you’re sitting rather than squatting. Are you pooping wrong? How deep is your squat stretch? You do countless activities each day without consciously thinking about the fact that you’re doing them, not because you choose to, but because you’ve been conditioned to conform to the local culture.

Warning: Old People and Frogs May Trigger Culture Shock

backbend yoga pose womanEach time you stretch your body, pay attention to the things going on around you. When you bend over backwards, it seems as if the whole world turns upside down for you. But you were the one who changed, not the world. When you practice stretching your body and reaching out beyond your psychological or spiritual comfort zones, you’re preparing yourself to be more adaptable to the inevitable changes that are coming your way whether you like it or not.

Your ability to adapt to changing circumstances may affect your lifespan. How flexible are you? Your mental, physical and spiritual flexibility measures are either increasing or decreasing little by little on a daily basis. The direction it’s moving in each area of your life is up to you.

Many centenarians have confident, robust personalities. They’ve been able to grow old, in part, because of their flexibility and open-mindedness. They have good self-esteem. They like interacting with others, but they don’t like becoming dependent on others.

Flexibility exercises begin in your mind. Then they become apparent in your body language. And eventually, if everything goes right, the benefits show up in your spirit.

Off the Mat Into the World logo

11 Equipment Essentials for Easy Everyday Exercises

By | clothing & accessories, Food, gardening, health | 2 Comments

It’s easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle, especially if you rely on a car to get around. But don’t worry, you don’t need to go out and buy expensive equipment to become more active. There are countless ways you can assimilate more activities into your daily life. It’s best to introduce small changes over time. You don’t need to go out of your way to exercise or go to the gym. There are many alternatives that are much more practical.

people walking

72-year-old Phil Woods is on a 2,700-mile mission (25 miles/day) to inspire older adults to walk more

Why exercise anyway? Many centenarians have spent decades doing activities that keep them up and moving around on a daily basis. But the activities not necessarily strenuous in the way you may think. You don’t need to join a gym or participate in a team sport in order to exercise.

Many centenarians were relatively poor for part or most of their lives. Many of them did, and still do, rely on walking, biking, or public transportation as their main mode of transportation. Some were farmers or laborers. Others have never worked outside the home, but raising a family, cooking, cleaning, gardening or participating in community activities have kept them moving around day after day for many decades. These activities are surprisingly simple, but profoundly beneficial over time.

Here are 11 equipment essentials that can help you live a more active lifestyle:

1. Walking shoes. A good pair of comfortable shoes is one of the most valuable investments you can make in your health. Walking is especially important if you work at a computer or have a desk job where you sit for numerous hours each day. Your body tenses up if you sit in one place for too long. If necessary, set a reminder alarm to go off every 30 minutes or so and get up to walk around and stretch. If possible, take a few breaks throughout the day to walk for 15 minutes or more. If possible, go for a brisk walk during lunch and after work. If you want to increase the intensity of your walk, pick up your speed and jog or run for part of the time. Women especially need to be reminded to wear comfortable walking shoes as often as possible. KEEN has lots of great choices on boots, shoes and sandals. High heels may be ok for some special occasions, but as these models demonstrate, heels are not appropriate attire for walking. Here’s why . . .



2. Broom. Sweep your floors. Clean your home. The next time you feel annoyed by the fact that cleaning is one of those jobs that never ends, think about some of the benefits. Be thankful for your home and the fact that you have the mobility to keep it clean. When you clean your home, you have opportunities to kneel down to clean things on or near the floor, lift buckets full of water, and stretch upwards while cleaning door trim or vents. Why pay for a membership to a sweaty gym when you can workout for free in your own home? Do cleaning exercises instead.

3. Drying Rack. When you hang your laundry up to dry, you get more exercise than you do when you toss everything in the dryer, especially if you’re bending over to lift items from a laundry basket and reaching up to a clothesline. By hanging your clothes up to dry, you reap numerous benefits. Washers and dryers increase the wear and tear on your clothes. When your clothes aren’t soiled, use the gentle cycle on your washer and skip the dryer. This also helps to cut back on your electric bill. The less time your clothes spend in the dryer, the better. Laundry exercises are much more practical than the bending and stretching exercises you do in an aerobics class.

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups

4. Music. People go to Zumba, in part, because they can feed off the energy of the music and the people around them. But you don’t need to go to an exercise class to listen to music that energizes you. Download some workout songs that you like and listen to them often, like when you’re cleaning your house or hanging up clothes. When you wear headsets, not only do you cut off other people, but you may even put yourself in danger if you’re out walking and don’t hear the honk of a car. Use them cautiously.

man walking up stairs5. Stairs. Whenever possible, use stairs and escalators instead of elevators. Even if an escalator is moving, you can use it like a staircase. Keep walking. If people are in front of you, excuse yourself and ask if you can pass by. In many cases, escalators give you a little extra exercise because the rise is typically a bit higher than standard steps. The best part about stairs is that you don’t have to pay for them. If you get out on a regular basis, you’ll find staircases in many places.

6. Cast Iron Cookware. Trade in your teflon and aluminum pans for cast iron. Cast iron pots, pans and muffin tins typically weigh a few pounds. So you get a mini workout every time you lift them, rinse them out or store them in your cabinets. Teflon and aluminum add toxins to your food, so it’s better to avoid them anyway. When you cook at home you have a much better idea of what you’re eating. So remember that it’s not enough to just buy cast iron cookware. You also need to get into the daily habit of cooking healthy meals at home in order to benefit. My kitchen is well stocked with Lodge Cast Iron Cookware. I pump iron every day.

7. Bike. The bike is one of the most efficient forms of transportation. Not only is it a great way to get around, it’s also good for you. Why buy a stationery bike that doesn’t go anywhere when you can buy a real bike that can take you places? By biking more you may be able to save money by using your car less. Be sure to get a bike that suits your size so you’ll be comfortable and safe when you ride. As you find more ways to use your bike, you might want to add some accessories, such as lights, a basket or a rear mount bike rack, so that you’ll use it more often. I love my Wald basket and bungee cargo net combination for quick errands. Bike riding helps you maintain balance and endurance. If you want a cardio workout, ride your bike in a hilly area or pedal faster. Remember to wear a helmet and a good pair of biking gloves.

8. Public Transportation Pass. People who rely on public transportation are more likely to walk more. If you own a car, do what you can to rely on it less and less over time. If you don’t live near a public transportation stop, consider driving to a commuter parking lot and finishing your commute on public transportation. If this isn’t practical, you may be able to find other ways to use public transportation. When you plan trips, look into your options of traveling by bus, train or plane instead of taking your own car. Next time you travel, see if you can manage your trip without renting a car. The less you rely on a car, the more active you’ll tend to be. ClipperCard

This CAR Game Will Drive You Crazy

old man woman gardening9. Trowel. Grow your own vegetables. Gardening helps you connect with nature and it has the added benefit of supplying you with of food. Even if you don’t have a yard, you can use a trowel to do basic gardening with potted plants. When you have plants inside or outside your home, you’ll get a little more exercise as you water them, repot them from time to time and swap them around to different locations in your home. If you have access to a balcony, porch or yard, you can grow more and get more exercise as you kneel down to do some weeding or bend over to cut clippings from your herb plants.

10. Sportswear. Wear comfortable sports attire as often as possible. This makes it easier for you to stretch and flex. Do more of this every day. If you get any resistance at all, you want it to come from your muscles, not your clothing. Depending on the type of work you do, you may be able to find lots of great sportswear that can double as casual wear for work. This makes it easier for you to walk, bike or stretch before, during or after work. Columbia Sportswear

11. Water bottle. As you increase your physical activity, make sure you stay hydrated with water. Avoid all drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup. If you head out for a walk, take a large water bottle with you. Fill it with water or a fresh juice drink. Drinking some extra water or fruit juice is a great way to flush your body and curb your appetite.

Drink Distilled Water to Detox and Defend Your Body

You don’t necessarily need to make these specific changes to your lifestyle. What is important is that you think about the simple things in your daily routine and, over time, make minor changes to incorporate more activity. Seek activities you enjoy. If it isn’t fun or rewarding in some way, it will be difficult to maintain anyway. As you find ways to be more active every day, you’ll find that there really is no need for you to do something silly like run on a treadmill in your garage.

Although running, weight lifting, or high-impact sports may be good for your heart, they tend to be damaging to your knees or other body parts that get overused. Most centenarians report that they were active throughout their lives, but typically not in highly strenuous activities. They’re more likely to work out in their garden than in a gym. They’re more likely to be walkers than runners.

Some people are so lazy, they don’t even exercise good judgment. Alfred E Neuman

Seek ways to add practical activities to your lifestyle. The more movement you incorporate into your daily life, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Active living every day is much better for you than irregular binge workouts a few times a month.

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Michael Mobbs offers 9 tips for a more sustainable home

By | authors, books, Food, gardening, health | One Comment

Would you like to cut your living expenses in half without giving up modern luxuries? Me too. That’s why I wanted to meet Michael Mobbs and see his home that’s (almost) off the grid in the heart of a big city. On a recent trip to Sydney, I had the opportunity to meet with Mobbs and get a private tour of his Sustainable Home. Here’s what I learned . . .

SusHouseCover2print.inddSince 1996 Michael Mobbs has lived in a unique house in the center of Sydney, Australia. If you rode by on your bike, you wouldn’t notice anything different from the outside. Only a plumber or electrician working on the inside would know the difference. With three other house friends, Mobbs’ total annual water and energy bills are less than $300 AU or about $280 US. His three bedroom home is about a 40 minute walk from the Sydney Opera House.

He has solar panels on his roof. The electric company sends him a check to pay for the clean solar electricity he puts into their main grid lines.

In 1996 he disconnected the water and sewer. He uses rain water that falls on his roof in place of tap water. He treats his own water that flows from his toilets, washing machine and kitchen sink. The system recycles the water back into the house. He uses the recycled water to flush the toilets, wash clothes and hose his beautiful backyard garden. He doesn’t pay any water or sewer bills. In his book, he describes how the simple wastewater system works.

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Michael Mobbs Sustainable Home backyard water treatment garden

The house is still connected to gas. The annual bill is about $200 US.

“I’m not special, kinda short, have no handy skills and can barely drive a nail. If I can do it, you can too,” says Mobbs.

Even if you do own a home, you may not be ready to generate your own electricity and collect and process your own water. But you can begin with smaller projects. I asked Michael for some tips that almost anyone could apply regardless of where they live. Here are some of his recommendations on how to save money even if you’re renting an apartment.

1. When one of your lights goes out, replace it with an LED bulb. LED lights are much more efficient.

2. Paint interior walls shades of white. This also applies to outdoor areas, such as fences. White reflects light back into your rooms. Avoid dark carpet, walls or furniture. Black eats light while pale colors bounce it around.

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Michael Mobbs Sustainable House

3. Install a water efficient shower head. You can take it with you if you move. It saves the energy that it takes to make the water hot and it also cuts down on your water usage. It can save over 15,000 gallons of water a year in a four-person household. This is especially important if you have one or more people in your household who take long showers. Even if you take short showers, you can relax knowing that the same amount of time will cost less.

4. Get a water and energy efficient dishwasher and washing machine. This can knock up to 50% off your energy and water bills. Efficient ones will use about 10-20% of what the standard guzzlers use.

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups

5. Get the most energy efficient refrigerator possible. It runs 24/7 and is typically the biggest energy-using appliance in your home.

6. Catch rain water if you can. You can use it to water your indoor and outdoor plants. You may be able to do this even if you’re in an apartment and only have access to a small balcony.

SusHouseCover2print.indd7. Grow food you can eat. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can grow mint, garlic, rosemary, lemongrass and other plants suitable for indoor environments or small spaces on balconies. Grow mung beans for your salads in a glass jar on your window sills. Get involved with a community garden if there’s one in your neighborhood. If you have too much of one type of food, swap surplus food with other gardeners.

8. Buy food from your local farmers markets. Fresh produce is always healthier and more nutritious than the store-bought refrigerated stuff.

9. Compost fruit and vegetable scraps to make soil for your pots and/or garden. Even if you don’t have a lot of space you can add worms to your compost and they will turn it into fertile black gold (dirt) in 1-3 months.

Mobbs says a modest meal which includes a small portion of meat puts a much greater strain on the environment than a meal that’s fully vegetarian. We need to think about our overall impact on the environment even outside our homes.

“The energy and water needed to keep me alive is about 20-40 times greater than the energy and water needed to run my house. Yes, my house saves over 100,000 liters (about 20,000 gallons) of dam water a year by harvesting the water which falls for free using the natural stormy energy of the skies. But in ten days of eating the typical Australian diet, there’s over 100,000 liters of water needed to grow, harvest, clean, store, package, transport and refrigerate my food. My little tummy uses far more water and energy than my house,” says Mobbs.

Michael Mobbs Sustainable House with Lorraine

Dr Lorraine Haataia with Michael Mobbs in front of his Sustainable House in Sydney, Australia

The costs, designs, products, materials, tragedies, mistakes, truths, and failures of his house and tummy are spelled out in his two books: Sustainable House and Sustainable Food.

“Plug the leaks in your home. When you take steps to reduce your living expenses and environmental impact, you may ultimately reduce your financial stress and have the chance to invest in new opportunities with the money you save,” Mobbs says.

A few years ago my husband and I traded in our big suburban home with a 3-car garage for smaller living quarters. This freed up both time and money giving us the opportunity travel to places like Sydney.

The next time you’re in Sydney, be sure to tour Michael Mobbs’ Sustainable House or see the scaled down version of his home at the Powerhouse Museum near Darling Harbour.

In the introduction of his Sustainable Homes book, Mobbs offers some of the key lessons he learned through the decisions he made with his own home. If you aspire to create a more sustainable home, look for others in your community who are making changes in their homes and lifestyles. You’ll get there much quicker if you share your challenges, successes and fears with them.

Steven Wright recently moved into an all electric house. One evening he forgot to turn off the lights before he went to sleep. When he woke up in the morning to let his dog out to pee, the front door wouldn’t work. 

Take a look at this candid interview with Mobbs as he explains how he handles some of the resistance he faces as a positive change-maker doing things that seem perfectly logical. His advises everyone to have the courage to say, “I can do this.”

It’s helpful when your cohorts share common factors such as weather, jurisdictions and local suppliers. And even better if they have some professional experience that might help to expedite projects. Mobbs happens to be an environmental lawyer by trade. In 2009, The (Sydney) Magazine listed Mobbs as one of Sydney’s 100 most influential people. See the About Michael page on the Sustainable House website to learn more about him.

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Meditation: The answer to all your problems

By | gifts, health, MIND, NONPROFITS | 2 Comments

Most of our daily lives are dominated by a busy outer world, much of which we can’t control. This causes us to miss what’s going on inside of us. We become disconnected with who we are and what makes us truly happy and fulfilled. Many people try to find prosperity in the outer world by striving for more and more things or experiences which only drains them even more.

Change begins from within. If you’re unhappy with some aspect of your life, you’ve probably been searching for the solution in the wrong places. Chances are, the answer has been within you all along, but you’ve never been taught how to get to it. When was the last time you thought about your thinking?

meditation meeting

Meditation is a simple mental technique from Hindu tradition. Here’s what you do. Get into a comfortable seated position. Then close your eyes and repeatedly think of a word, sound or phrase, your mantra. Many practitioners recommend that you do this twice a day for 15-30 minutes or more.

During this time you allow all thoughts and distractions to pass through your mind like clouds passing by in the sky. Let them flow without passing judgment or allowing them to destabilize your emotions or sense of balance. As you do this, you’re fully aware of your body and surroundings in the present moment, yet you let everything pass through you.

Meditation promotes deep relaxation resulting in greater inner awareness. Some people say it helps them to feel centered. David Lynch is film director, musician and actor who has been practicing meditation since 1973. He says that it’s like being in an elevator that takes him up.

“It has given me tremendous effortless access to unlimited reserves energy, creativity and happiness deep within.” says Lynch.

Not only does he get tremendous personal benefit from meditation, he saw how much it could help anyone regardless of their age or life circumstances. In 2005 he started the David Lynch Foundation for consciousness-based education and world peace. Today the foundation teaches meditation to children and adults in countries all over the world with sometimes astounding results.

You can meditate almost anywhere. The more you do it, the more creative you can become in finding new ways to incorporate it into your everyday life. Sogyal Rinpoche

Deep breathing can help to enhance your experience. When you become consciously aware of your breathing, it has an immediate calming affect.

You can also experiment with candles, incense, sunlight or other natural relaxants. Go out into nature whenever possible for even greater benefit. If you want to get some exercise at the same time, try meditating while breathwalking. Huffington Post

Some people incorporate yoga with meditation. When you begin by doing yoga to stretch out your body, it may help you to reach a more intense state of relaxation. Some people like to sit in a lotus position after stretching, while others prefer to lie down. It’s completely up to you. It’s best to do yoga on an empty stomach, so the combination of yoga and meditation can be a great way to begin and end your day.

Meditation has a way of removing filters, blocks, fears, doubts, torments and pains from within. Some say it helps to ward off their depression, anxiety, stress and more.

Meditation cartoon catsMeditation isn’t a religion, but it may help you to tap into your spirituality. Meditation isn’t a formal treatment, but it may improve your sense of well-being. Meditation isn’t a science, but you may get measurable results. BBC

Observe animals and toddlers. They live in the moment without passing judgment. Their bodies and minds are free. Meditation helps you free your body and mind as you move into a higher sensitivity to your surroundings. It recharges your mind and body in a powerful way that you can only discover over time.

Many people tout the benefits of meditation, saying that once they started, they wanted to continue every day. A surprising number of successful people practice meditation: Mahatma Ghandi (Indian nationalist leader), Rupert Murdoch (one of the richest people in the world, Dr Andrew Weil (holistic doctor, naturopath, author and professor), Dalai Lama (spiritual leader) and many other successful celebrities and executives. Business Insider

Russell Simmons - Transcendental Meditation

Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons says that meditation promotes happiness. “It teaches you to appreciate now. It brings you close to your power. Meditation is for any one of us who want the cycle of good to happen, want to be optimistic, want to be an inspiration, want to make everybody else’s lives better so they can be better. Meditation promotes stillness. When you’re still is the only time you can think.” YouTube 4-minute clip.

Meditation “transformed me and many of my friends,” said Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. “It was profound.” In his younger years, he created a meditation space in his attic complete with Indian prints, candles and meditation cushions. He read books like Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda (a book he read once a year ever since he was a teenager).

Challenges and difficulties can come at you at anytime day or night in the form of thoughts, physical symptoms, or other human or technological interventions. This sludge can cause you to lose clarity and focus. Meditation gives you a release valve to understand what’s most important now. That’s why companies like Google,  Twitter, Facebook and many others in Silicon Valley are also embracing Eastern traditions such as meditation. Wired

Meditation helps you to become more attached to the present moment, while become detached from worldly things and thoughts. Some find meditation so effective, even more powerful than the effect of drugs. It’s easy to get hooked on meditation because of its profound benefits. In the beginning, you might want to keep a journal to note your experience.

You can begin practicing meditation on your own now. If you’re looking for a layman’s guide to getting started, check out Meditation for Beginners 22-Day Course by Vern Lovic. He provides simple steps to calm the circus in your mind. I like this book because it’s a casual description of one man’s journey. Yours may be very different. 

As is true with any good habit, you get the most benefit with regular practice over time. You can’t expect meditation in itself to solve your problems right away. But it may become one of your most valuable habits in maintaining a more satisfying and balanced life.

Once you experience the benefits of meditation, you may want to get some training. Look for practitioners or a Meetup in your area. Some centers charge for their services, while others are nonprofit faith-based organizations. 

There are many different meditation techniques, so if you decide to get some instruction, don’t hesitate to experiment with different methods until you find one that’s right for you. David Wants to Fly

Are you ready to become an Urban Monk?

One day a student at the went to meditate with two monks as part of his education. They went to the opposite side of the lake from a monastery and were about to start their morning meditation when the first monk said, “oh no, I forgot my mat.” So he walked calmly across the surface of the water to the monastery and returned with his mat. Then the second monk said, “I forgot my sun hat,” so he ran across the surface of the water to the monastery and returned with his hat.

The student was astounded by this and at the end of the meditation he tried to walk across the water. He fell straight in and emerged soaking wet. The two monks watched his failed attempts for a while. The first monk said to the second, “do you think we should tell him where the stones are?” Metta

How to Live Forever: Laugh More, Eat Less

Please get back to me later to let me know what meditation is doing for you.
Telling someone about meditation is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
Pass it on.

Namaste

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How To Live Forever: Laugh More, Eat Less

By | Food, health, Movies | 2 Comments

Buster from How to Live Forever filmWould you like to see rare places where age is enjoyed, admired and studied? Places where people are old or looking for ways to extend their lives? Then you’ll enjoy seeing How to Live Forever and meeting stubborn characters like 101-year-old London resident, Buster Martin, a chain-smoking, beer-drinking marathon runner.

In this film, Mark Wexler takes you on a fun whirlwind of visits giving you insights on how to extend your life. Being stubborn, by the way, is probably more likely than smoking to extend your life.

The following tips represent some of the many interesting topics highlighted in the film. I don’t necessarily endorse all of them, but I like to keep my options open. Sometimes a girl changes her mind you know . . .

Participate in contests. A contestant at the Ms. Senior American Beauty Pageant says, “I might be 75, but I’m still hot. It just comes in flashes.” Have fun staying active.

Dr Madan Kataria Laughter Yoga

Dr. Madan Kataria

Laugh at least ten minutes every day. Dr. Madan Kataria is a medical doctor from Mumbai, India, where he’s known as the guru of laughter. He’s the founder of Laughter Yoga, a club he began in 1995 with five people in a public park. Today this movement for health, joy and world peace, has grown to more than 6,000 clubs in over 60 countries. Follow these instructions for your daily laughter yoga practice: Laugh for no reason. Laugh louder. Laugh more. Start over.

Learn from older people. If you have a 90-year-old or centenarian in your immediate family, that’s good news for you because you may have inherited some of the same longevity genes. If you don’t, ask your friends if they know an elderly person or volunteer at a retirement home to find some old friends. VolunteerMatch

Dear Diary, This is the Day I Decided to Drink Distilled Water

Live Young Forever by Jack LalanneStay active and set big goals. In 1984, at the age of 70, Jack LaLanne handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents towed (with his own strength) 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1-1/2 miles.

“Anything in life is possible if YOU make it happen . . .  and YOU CAN,” says Lalanne.

Learn more of Lalanne’s secrets in one of his many books such as: Revitalize Your Life After 50 (1995), Live Young Forever (2009), Celebrating 90 Plus Years of Healthy Living (2009). Lalanne, who started off as a weak and sickly bed-ridden boy, died strong at the age of 96 in 2011. Huffington Post

Work out (your brain) every day. A common quality among centenarians is that they’ve kept their brains active throughout their lives. It doesn’t matter whether you work, play games or participate in mentally stimulating hobbies. They’re all beneficial.

Suzanne Somers Im Too Young For This

Take hormones. Suzanne Somers touts the use of Bioidential Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). In fact, she’s written several books which encourage women to take hormones to remain youthful: The Sexy Years (2004), Ageless (2006), Bombshell (2012) and her latest book, I’m Too Young For This (2013).

Go on a calorie restriction diet. Calorie Restriction (CR) has been scientifically proven to extend life in animals and many researchers believe CR extends human life as well. FightAging.orgCheck out CR Society International for more information. You can probably get by just fine eating a whole lot less than you have in the past. Eat less.

Don’t retire. The Japanese associate negative images with the word retirement. This, along with their healthy diet and active lifestyle, are probably some of the reasons why they tend to live longer than people in most other countries, particularly in Okinawa. There is no retirement age in Japan. I personally witnessed this earlier this year when my husband and I visited Okinawa. We met countless people in their 70s, 80s and even 90s still working. Okinawa Centenarian Study

Phyllis Diller

Phyllis Diller

Treat your troubles with jokes. In her autobiography, Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy, Phyllis Diller shares her struggles and shenanigans as the first woman of her time to rise to the top of the male-dominated comedy scene, a feat she accomplished while caring for five children and an unemployed husband. Despite the many challenges she faced throughout her life, she found a way to laugh every day. “Some people say ‘who would want to be 90,’ and I say ‘anyone who is 89,'” says Diller, who died with a smile on her face at the age of 95.

Write your autobiography when you’re in your 90s. Eleanor Wasson believes that the best part of life begins when you get past 50. She believes in free will and free choice–that we let things happen by the choices we make. She wrote her autobiography, 28,000 Martinis and Counting, in her 90s and later passed away in 2008 at the age of 100. Santa Cruz Sentinal

Set a goal to be the oldest person somewhere. Everyone gets a nanosecond of being the youngest person on earth, but very few get the chance to be the oldest. In this film, you’ll get to see Edna Parker who, at the time of filming, was the oldest person in the world at 115. Perhaps you can live to be the oldest person in your family, your city, or even the world . . .

Embrace technology. In his book, The Singularity is NearRay Kurzweil spells out his belief that we’re moving into an age of a “new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.” Technology is used in medicine and many other industries to enhance and extend life. Soon it will be doing much more.

Say no to ice cream. John Robbins is the only son to the founder of the Baskin-Robbins empire. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps, he chose to walk away from ice cream and wealth to pursue his own dream of living in harmony with all life forms. He is the founder of EarthSave International and Board Chair of Yes! Robbins is also the author of numerous books including Healthy at 100.

Freeze your body and come back to life later. At Alcor Life Extension Foundation, cryonics is happening now. Alcor believes that “lack of legal status as a person does not imply lack of moral status as a person.” They welcome you to tour their facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, and walk among stiffs who are waiting to come back to life. If you don’t want to do business with a funeral home director, Alcor might be the alternative you’re looking for. You just might be one of the first to learn How to Live Forever.

Live until the day you die. “My boyfriend is older than me, but he can still drive at night,” said an elderly woman who still enjoys dating older men. Stay active. Get out there and keep doing the things you love to do. Laugh more, eat less.

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Got a Virtual Doctor Yet? If Not, Now’s the TIME.

By | health | 2 Comments

Dr Andrew Weil TIME magazineThe best TIME to search for a doctor is when you’re in relatively good health and don’t feel the need to see one. Many people ignore signals from their bodies repeatedly in order to avoid the inconvenience, expense and undesirable recommendations they often experience with doctors. Doctors are humans. They make mistakes like the rest of us. It can be equally unsettling when you think about the fact that doctors literally call their work “practice,” as if doctoring were a sport complete with physical risks and injuries. SW 

A headache, rash, itchy scalp, wart, hemorrhoid, digestive issue or any other nagging health concern is a warning sign. It’s your body letting you know that something isn’t quite right. Don’t let your mind ignore your body.

Pay attention to your body when you feel a symptom coming on. What do many of us do when we have a question about anything? We Google it! But don’t wait until you’re sick to decide who you want to trust. Find a healthy doctor so that you know where to turn when you want quick trustworthy answers. That way, the next time you need to rest and recover, you won’t have to waste a lot of time searching for advice from dubious sources.

My #1 virtual doctor of choice is Dr Andrew Weil. He provides down-to-earth advice about lifestyle, diet, nature, mind and more. I never feel like he’s trying to scare me into buying his specific vitamins or gadgets to improve my health, as many other health sites do. I trust him. I sense that he genuinely wants to help people avoid illness, pharmaceuticals and drastic treatments as much as possible. He has a comforting demeanor that’s calming. In case you haven’t already met him, may I introduce you to Dr. Weil?

He believes the primary role of doctors is to educate people about how to maintain good health. That’s the kind of doctor I want! Here are several more reasons why I search for answers from Dr. Weil:

      • He has written a number of books on the subject of health. His books are easy to understand even if you’ve never taken a class in nutrition or medicine. Invest in his books instead of over-the-counter drugs. You’ll be a lot better off in the long run. If you aren’t sure which one to read first, I recommend Natural Health, Natural Medicine since it provides a good overview of preventive maintenance as well as natural treatments and home remedies.
      • He offers a Q&A section on his website. Click on the Ask Dr. Weil tab on his website and search for answers to your health concerns. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can submit a new question.
      • He’s more likely to recommend medicinal plants rather than prescription medications. In addition to medical school, he was also trained in botany, and he traveled extensively while learning about healing practices from around the world. Most doctors have little to no training in botany, nutrition or healing practices in other cultures. They’re limited to their own specialty inside Western medicine and are not necessarily trained to look at the whole body, the bigger picture.
      • He offers a number of videos to help you learn habits which promote a healthy lifestyle. You can get to know him and pick up health tips by subscribing to his videos at YouTube/user/DrWeil. If you want more in-depth information, watch some of his videos. I recommend starting with Dr. Andrew Weil’s Guide to Eating Well. This is a “shopping cart guide to the healthiest foods.”
      • He’s over 70 and still doing what he loves to do. When I lived in China, I learned that the most respected Traditional Chinese medicine doctors are those who are the most experienced. I prefer get advice from a doctor with decades of experience (and in still in good health) rather than from someone just out of medical school.

Western medicine is set up to treat symptoms after you fall ill. It’s a sick-care system. If you want to do your best to avoid illness, focus on living a healthy lifestyle that may help you to prevent or delay the onset of disease or degenerative illnesses. Dr. Weil’s advice may help you do this.

If you feel you need to speak with a specialist, you may want to make a call before you head to a doctor’s office. Check your health insurance plan to see if they have a nurseline. Each time you visit your doctor or check in at a hospital, you put yourself at risk of picking up germs, being coerced into taking prescription medications, being uncomfortable for hours in an emergency room, or going through procedures you could delay or avoid. Wouldn’t you rather avoid all this whenever possible?

Call Doc logo

When you’re not feeling well, wouldn’t you rather get some advice online or make a phone call from the comfort of your bed rather than journey out to a doctor’s office? As healthcare continues to evolve, we’re more likely to see an increase in remote doctor-patient visits through innovative institutions such as FreeMD.comDoctorOnDemand.com or CallDoc.com. One thing I especially like about CallDoc is that they offer discounts to natural therapy professionals.

Make sure you find a reputable doctor that suits you. One of my friends recently did some self diagnosis after she was injured. She called a doctor and told him that she broke her leg in two places. The doctor told her to quit going to those places. Gwiz

Click here for more Jokes for Your Friends Who are Sick and Tired

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Dear Diary, this is day I decided to drink distilled water

By | Food, health, water | 5 Comments

Margie opened her door and welcomed me with a big smile as if I were a friend she hadn’t seen for a while. Her sunny one-bedroom apartment was tidy. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview this lively 91-year-old.

People in Loma Linda, CA, live 4-7 years longer, on average, than other Americans. This is why I wanted to visit this quiet haven outside Los Angeles, to meet with Margie and other 90+ year olds. Loma Linda is America’s longevity hot spot. I came here to ask the same question as many other researchers.

What is your secret to longevity?

water bottle - DropInTheBucket.orgMargie spoke openly right from the start. “I’m wearing a wig, but these are my own,” she told me as she smiled and pointed to her teeth.

As I asked about her diet and health habits, she recalled different people and life experiences.

“I have the same birthday as Hitler,” she said, “April 20, and I went to his bunker.” She told stories about living in Germany for six years with her husband who was a marine and passed away 15 years ago. Then she talked about homeschooling her two sons.

She told me about her 95-year-old brother (a farmer) and four sisters, ages 93 (a teacher), 89 (a nurse and dietician), 83 (a teacher) and 76 (a nurse educator) all still living and all vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists. She had one other sister who passed away at the age of 40.

She talked seamlessly about the past, present and future. “I’d like to get rid of my computer,” she said. When I asked about the wood elephants lined up in her windowsill, she had a story for each one. She got one in Germany, one in Africa, and another one at the local Goodwill.

Although I had to repeat myself a sometimes because of her hearing, she spoke with the energy and enthusiasm of someone decades younger.

“I’d like to move to New Zealand,” she said at one point. “The fruit they serve here at the Villa doesn’t have any flavor and I can’t afford to buy fresh organic fruit,” she said. “I just read a book about . . . ” and on and on she continued.

Here’s a summary of the health tips I extracted from her stories. These are some of the things she doesn’t do which she believes may have contributed to her longevity:

  • she never eats meat
  • she doesn’t drink milk (she says it causes colds)
  • she never drinks alcohol
  • she doesn’t smoke
  • she doesn’t drink caffeine (she believes that black tea is especially bad because it’s hard on the heart)
  • she avoids sugar most of the time
  • she doesn’t use fluoride toothpaste (she mentioned that baking soda and salt are safer)

When’s the last time you did a check up on your dentist? 

Here are some of her habits she believes may have contributed to her longevity:

  • she has been a vegetarian her whole life
  • she worked hard on the family potato farm for many years and she has always included a wide variety of potatoes in her diet
  • she used to be a primary school teacher, but she still loves learning, being around people and telling stories
  • she drinks homemade smoothies made with fresh or frozen fruit such as berries, banana or apple
  • she loves grapefruit juice
  • she eats soy products
  • she keeps busy and has something to do every day
  • she takes enzymes regularly (because her sister who’s a dietician advised her to do so)
  • she has access to great doctors in Loma Linda (but some of her prior doctors are dead now)
  • she is spiritually active (as a Seventh Day Adventist)
  • she has a community of friends she meets with every day (having common meals and social time with others who live in the same retirement villa)
  • she does her best to sleep well every night
  • she has been drinking distilled water for about 44 years

None of these things surprised me because many of her lifestyle habits are consistent with others who live into their 80s, 90s and beyond. But her distilled water story did stand out.

Margie Francisco 91 years old 20130728_113511

Dr Lorraine with Margie in Loma Linda on July 28, 2013

About 44 years ago, she came down with a debilitating strep/staph infection from well water in Idaho and was in and out of the hospital 32 times to treat cellulitis. This is when she decided to switch to distilled water to avoid going through anything like this again. She made a decision and stuck to it because she didn’t trust the water.

When it came time for me to leave, Margie slowly ascended from her chair and said with a smile, “this old grey mare ain’t what she used to be.” She didn’t want me to leave without seeing more of her recent artwork. She waved me into her bedroom and pulled a painting off the wall.

“You need to see it up close,” she said. “I used acrylics to paint these flowers.” Although I was impressed with the quality and detail of the painting, I was even more fascinated by her dexterity and strength as she leaned over her bed to pull a framed painting off the wall. Most Americans don’t make it to this age and of those who do, not many would be able to do this seemingly simple stretch-balance-strength task. I love being around lifelong learners with a positive attitude. I could have talked with her for days.

The day I met Margie, July 28, 2013, is the day I decided to drink distilled water. I made the switch immediately, beginning with bottled distilled water.

Over the next few weeks I did some research and learned that drinking distilled water is a great way to cleanse your body. Dr. Weil is one of my virtual doctors. When I’m looking for health advice, I often check to see what he has to say about a subject. Dr Weil drinks distilled water and uses it for cooking as well.

Got a virtual doctor yet? If not, now’s the time. 

So are you ready to chug some H2O? Water is as important to your health as sleep, but remember stop drinking liquids about an hour before you go to bed so you can sleep all night without having to get up to pee. BitofFun

After doing some research on distillers, I ended up choosing the Megahome Water Distiller. It didn’t take me long to conclude that this is the most important appliance in my kitchen.

Drink distilled water daily to detox and defend your body.

.

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What if You Come Down (to Earth) With Symptoms of Sustainability?

By | BUSINESS, gardening, health, NONPROFITS, Pets | No Comments

If you or someone you know has some of the following symptoms, you may be coming down (to earth) with sustainability. It can be contagious, but some people have strong resistance. Scientists believe that it may have something to do with a jean mutation. The jeans can be modified or removed, but some people don’t like to change because they’re comfortable just the way they are.

Sustainable World PeopleJust as a person who has obesity may begin to rely on a wheelchair to get around, a person who has sustainability may begin to rely on a bicycle to get around. Physical and mental conditions shape the surrounding environment.

Although some people feel uneasy about sustainability at first, they quickly begin to adapt to the condition. Some people do really crazy things like take up gardening or sell their cars. Once you catch sustainability, don’t be surprised if people with the mutated jeans call you crazy.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with sustainability, it’s helpful to join a support group with like-minded people who prefer trees over traffic and borrowing over buying. As the symptoms of sustainability increase, you may fall deeper into a wishful state of Utopia-euphoria wanting more people to contract your enthusiasm. Webweaver Earth

Here are some of the symptoms of sustainability:

Air. You go to parks and into the forest where the air is fresh and trees are plentiful. AIRNow

Banking. You closed your bank account and opened an account at a local credit union. Credit Union National Association

Whenever you go near a bank, you get withdrawal symptoms. PunOfTheDay

Bathroom. Your bathroom has a window which provides natural light and ventilation. American Restroom Association

Why are environmentalists bad at playing poker? They avoid the flush. Jokes4Us

Biking. Your bicycle is one of your main modes of transportation. People For Bikes

This CAR Game Will Drive You Crazy

Charities. You give generously to a local nonprofit or faith-based organization and they give back to the community. Charity Navigator

Cooperation. You quit your corporate job to work for a co-op. National Cooperative Business Association

Energy. Your home is drawing power from renewable energy sources. Renewable Energy World

Food. You have access to organic fruits and vegetables within walking distance of your home. GMO Inside

Gardening. You have fun working together with your neighbors in the community garden. American Community Gardening Association

Healthcare. You have access to affordable healthcare. Michael Moore’s Health Care Proposal

Housing. Your home is affordable and you help others who need housing. Habitat for Humanity

Laundry. You hang your laundry out to dry. Project Laundry List

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups 

Leaders. You’re a good communicator and leader. Toastmasters

Library. You enjoy going to your local library on a regular basis.

Lighting. The sun is your main source of light all day. VELUX

Music. You hear nature sounds or appropriate tunes that enhance your home, workplace and other public spaces. American Music Therapy Association

Names. You’re on a first-name basis with your neighbors and workers in local businesses. NeighborWorks

Organics. You buy organic foods in the local farmer’s market and grocery stores. CCOF

Outdoors. Your home and workplace outdoor spaces are green and welcoming. Alliance for Community Trees

What did the activist get when he sat on the iceberg too long? Polaroids. Jokes4Us

People. You treat everyone with respect, regardless of their age, race or social status. Grassroots International

Pets. You often take your dog along wherever you go. Go Pet Friendly

Plantscaping. You have plenty of indoor plants. Plantscape Industry Alliance

Prevention. Your healthcare provider incentivizes doctors for prevention. American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Why We Need to Do Doctor Reviews on Our Last Doctors’ Visits

Recycling. You have a donate box, a recycle bin and a compost pile, but you don’t have a garbage can. SCARCE

Sustainable Communities IndexSalary. Your boss doesn’t make too much more than you or your colleagues. Salary

Schools. Your kids attend schools which teach them how to create a sustainable future for themselves and the community. Edible Schoolyard

Seeds. You trade seeds and plants with your neighbors. Seed Savers

Sharing. You borrow stuff and lend a hand. mesh

Steps. The staircase in your workplace is more attractive than the elevator. StairPorn

Your Best Excuse for Not Going to the Gym

Students. Your kids are participating in solving real issues in the community. Youth Service America

Transportation. Your community is investing heavily in public transportation, bikeways, sidewalks and pathways. American Public Transportation Association

Volunteers. Your neighbors are engaged in making the community a better place to live. Volunteer Match

Water. Your drinking water is pure and safe. Local waterways are full of healthy marine life.  American Water Works Association

Weight. You’re healthy, not malnourished or obese. Weight of the Nation

Sick of Diets? Film Diet Plan Will Help You Escape the Fat Trap

Work. It’s easy for you to find work opportunities near home. Smart Growth America

If you’re experiencing several of these symptoms, stay calm. If you generate too much excitement, the zombie police with mutated jeans may try to attack. They are known to be mindlessly unreasonable, doing raids on people who sell fruits and vegetables, for example. Check out this raid on an organic food store in California.

Zombie Police - resident evil

What’s the difference between zombies and patched jeans?

Zombies are dead men. Jeans are mended. JokeIndex

If you or your loved ones are coming down (to earth) with sustainability, the best thing you can do is band together with other level-headed people and come up with a smart plan to protect yourselves in the event of a random zombie invasion.

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Why we need to do doctor reviews on our last doctors’ visits

By | health | 3 Comments

doctor illustrationWhen was the last time you made a decision about where to eat based on a personal or online customer review? Billions of restaurant and hotel reviews are readily available in multiple languages throughout the world. It’s nice to know where to enjoy a tasty meal or a comfortable bed, but isn’t it much more important to let people know about a doctor helped you heal, saved your life or killed your father?

Did you see this review? “My doctor gave me six months to live. I couldn’t pay the bill, so he gave me another six months.” Funny2Watch Sicko to learn more about how the highly profitable American healthcare industry stacks up to other countries.

US doctors are more stressed than ever. They’re overburdened with increasing demands of medical bureaucracy, leaving them less and less time to provide quality patient care. Check out this clip on Andrew Berkowitz‘s recent visit to his doctor:

As healthcare professionals begin to implement ObamaCare “improvements,” it’s important that we all take time to give kudos to the those who are providing great care and to point out those who aren’t. When you rate your experiences, either good or bad, you’re doing your neighbors a big favor.

Here are some tools you can use to search for doctors and write up reviews after your next appointment:

HealthGrades logoHealthGrades.com

This is a great tool to find ratings on specialists. Whether you’re looking for a family practitioner or cardiologist near your home or office, this tool can help you find one within 1 mile, 5 miles and so on. If insurance is the main factor, you can use the insurance filter. Let’s say you’re looking for a second opinion on fibroids and you prefer a female gynecologist. You’ll be happy to know they also have a sex filter. They claim to have more than 3,000,000 free online physician profiles. It seems to have more data than most of the other sites.

RateMDs logoRateMDs.com

Here you can find ratings on more than a million doctors throughout the US. After doing a few random searches, I noticed that lots of doctors only have 2-3 reviews, so they seem to be lacking in content. They don’t have an About page on their website or a description of the people behind the scenes, yet they want their users to login. This sort of thing always makes me suspicious.

vitals-logoVitals.com

When I searched for Chinese Medicine, acupuncture and chiropractor on Vitals, for each one I got a “we’re sorry, there are no results for that search” message. Because of their narrow-minded approach to healthcare, I don’t recommend this tool. One thing I do like about this site, however, is that they list their executive team and business leaders along with their profile pictures, so it seems that there are some legitimate people working behind the scenes.

Yelp logoYelp.com

Here you can find reviews on just about anything: restaurants, hotels, hair salons, financial services, churches, doctors and more. You can search by distance and by category, but it doesn’t offer as much granularity on doctors as other sites that specialize in reviews on medical professionals. Yelp’s biggest strength is that it’s a one-stop shop for people who like to give reviews. After you’ve narrowed your search on other sites, it never hurts to check Yelp before you pick up the phone to schedule an appointment.

ZocDoc.com

This is the place to go when you want to book an appointment online instead of by phone. This can be helpful if you’re searching for a doctor who has extended hours or if you don’t have the patience to make a phone call. You might like this if one of your loved ones has multiple health issues, you hate waiting on hold when calling a doctor’s office, or if you’re a hypochondriac. One thing I did like about ZocDoc is that it doesn’t have advertisements. Most of the others do. On the “About Us” page on their website, they mention that $95 million has been invested in their site, but as a potential user of their site, I wasn’t convinced that it was any better than the others. Perhaps doctors are benefiting more than patients?

DrScore.com. This site claims to have more than 340,000 reviews, so you might want to keep it in mind, but others seem to have more data.

HealthcareReviews.com. This site is up and running, but when I did some sample searches, it didn’t seem to have much data.

Angie’s List.com. This site is for paying members only. Reviewers waive the right to give anonymous reviews. The upside about this is that you have assurance that real customers are providing the reviews. The downside is that lots of people don’t want to announce their personal health issues so they’re less likely to do so on a tool that limits privacy, especially in a country that has a history of penalizing people for pre-existing conditions. Angie’s list is similar to Yelp, but paying members get discount perks and assistance with complaint resolution.

Some of these sites might be more or less popular depending on where you live. Use the one that best meets your needs. Some allow you to search for dentists. But before you search on one of these sites, I recommend that you read my blog post entitled:

When’s the Last Time You Did a Check Up on Your Dentist?

If more people took the time to say as much about their physicians as they do about restaurants and hotels, we’d all have more information to help us make better choices. Healthcare professionals agonize over poor reviews as much as restaurant owners and hotel managers, but no one can deny the benefits to the consumers who become better informed.

Doctors are fighting every day to figure out ways to provide good care despite the ludicrous US medical system. Doctors who care about their patients want feedback from them. They don’t see what you see as a customer. Your reviews give them that insight. Watch The Doctor to see a true story of a doctor who comes down with cancer and goes through a paradigm shift on how patients should be treated.

In a recent blog post by Dr. Douglas Farrago entitled, “Brilliant Analysis of Healthcare, Dr Farrago shares David Goldhill’s story about his father’s LAST visit to the doctor (at a hospital) and his discussion on “How American Healthcare Killed My Father.” Goldhill is also the author of Catastrophic Care: Why Everything We Think We Know About Healthcare is Wrong. Goldhill’s insights are priceless!

One review might not mean a lot, but when you can see cumulative ratings and reviews by 101 or 1001 people who were doctored by a particular doctor, some trends start to show up. It may be a coincidence that 1 in 10 people get sick after eating at Mon Santo’s Diner, but maybe it isn’t. The same logic applies to doctors and hospitals. We need to work together To Make Hospitals Less Deadly.

Jokes for Your Friends Who Are Sick and Tired

A woman went in to see her doctor.
“Your last check came back Mrs. Wise,” the doctor told her.
“Right,” she said,”and I scheduled today’s appointment to let you know that my arthritis has come back as well. Funny2

 FamiliesUSAlogo

When’s the last time you did a check up on your dentist?

By | health | 4 Comments

If you visit your dentist once or twice a year, then you know the drill. PunOfTheDayYou get your teeth cleaned by a friendly hygienist and the dentist stops by for a few minutes to poke around your mouth and give you a brief report on your teeth.
dental X-ray

If you’ve been going to the same dentist for several years and haven’t had any really bad experiences, you probably keep going back without even thinking about your other options. But you should. Here’s why.

Disease prevention begins in the mouth. Each dentist has his own flossify about how to care for his patients. PunOfTheDayIt’s up to you to make sure you’re seeing the best dentist in town.

In the past two years, I’ve had to find new dentists twice, once when I moved to China in 2012 and another when I moved back to the US in 2013. Searching for doctors in a foreign country can be a challenge when you can’t read or speak the language, but that’s another story.

United Nations mercury warningAfter we moved from China to California, looking for a new dentist felt so easy. I could search on my own and read reviews. I knew I wanted an amalgam-free dentist, so I started there. One of the sites that came up was Dr. Tom McGuire’s Mercury-Safe Dentist Directory. This is how I found my new holistic dentist a few months ago.

I was so impressed when I went in for my first visit. She spent about an hour with me asking about my prior dental experiences, and examining my mouth, bite and teeth. She had some special tools to look at the health of my teeth without doing X-rays. She reviewed X-rays sent from my prior dentists and asked about my dental hygiene habits. She’s the first dentist who ever asked me if I do oil pulling. I was happy to let her know that I do. She invited me into her office to continue talking about my teeth, eating habits and overall health.

When I moved to China, I left my electric toothbrush behind because I wasn’t sure whether or not it would work with their electricity. For more than a year I was only using a toothbrush.

She mentioned that I should start using a WaterPik water flosser to help keep my gums healthier. She believes that the water flosser goes beyond what basic flossing can do. She suggested that I add a little Under the Gums Irrigant by Dental Herb Company to the water. When I do this my mouth feels so fresh and clean.

Instead of standard toothpaste, she recommended that I use Rupam’s Herbals dental soap & tooth elixer. I’ve been using it for a few months now and I love the way my teeth look and feel after I’m done brushing. I was happy to find a dentist who shared my belief about exercising caution with fluoride and understanding of the need for fluoride-free dental care for certain people.

It’s been more than a year since I’ve used standard toothpaste. Now I can’t even stand the smell of it. When was the last time you read the list of ingredients and warning label on conventional toothpaste? Switch to Dental Herb Company Tooth & Gums Paste and you’ll be amazed at the difference.

The last product she recommended was “The Mouth Doctor” by ORA MD. It comes in a little bottle that looks like any other essential oil, and that’s just what this is. It’s a blend of almond, spearmint and peppermint oils. You put a few drops on your toothbrush and then bogobrush it onto your teeth and tongue. It makes your mouth amazingly minty fresh any time of the day. You can also keep a little bottle in your purse or laptop bag and put a few drops in your mouth to refresh your breath anytime.

 

The herbal products she recommended are fantastic. My mouth feels great every evening after I go through this process and I’ve noticed that my teeth seem to be whiter. It’s a refreshing routine.

In addition to searching for a mercury-free dentist, I also wanted someone who offered nitrous oxide. In the past I’ve found it to be quite relaxing at times when I’ve had dental work done. She said that she didn’t offer it, so I was a bit disappointed. But after my first filling replacement with her business partner several weeks later, I found that I did just fine without it. “Why take risks when you don’t need to?” they say. I like their approach.

She didn’t even give me a shot of lidocaine. Instead, I swished with a topical analgesic and she used some type of laser tool that also helped to numb the tooth. It was the best filling experience I ever had! When I left, my tongue was tingling, but I didn’t have that fat-numb-face feeling.

They don’t give out the free mini-samples I was accustomed to getting from other dentists in the US. But that’s a good thing since all those little plastic packages are so bad for the environment anyway.

When I first did a search on their practice, I found several review sites with lots of raving reviews. I suspected that they were asking patients to help market their practice, but when I mentioned it after my first visit, the office manager wasn’t even aware of it. I noticed that one of the doctors had a business card on the counter, but the other didn’t. When I asked about this, the office manager said that the other dentist didn’t have cards.

This partnership is truly succeeding by word of mouth! Everyone here is too busy taking care of patients to notice what’s going on in the virtual world.

How to find a trustworthy doctor for a dental implant

It’s too bad that a great dentist like this doesn’t get a big award. All she gets is a little plaque. Jokes4Us.

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