Fast for hunger

Today’s radio news had a segment about some teens who did a fast for hunger. They went 30 hours without food to try to understand what hunger and famine are like. After the segment, my husband turned to me and said we should do that.

I think it’s a great idea too. Often in this country we say we are hungry or starving, just by going an extra hour between meals. We have no idea what real hunger is. Food is plentiful and relatively cheap. The big difference between a timed fast and real hunger is that you know when you will eat again after a fast. During a famine or true poverty, people don’t know when they will eat again.

I would like to do a fast for hunger. Only instead of just fasting and praying, I would urge people to donate the amount of food they would have normally consumed during this time to a food bank or the cost to an international food aid. This would be 4 or 5 meals per person. If you have a group doing it, perhaps consider donating to the Heifer Project. This project buys farm animals for poor families to help them be self sufficient.

While there are many details to be worked out if we do this, I think it should be done. I’d like to get a group together and do this as a community service project. While there are many canned food drives, this one would add a new dimension to make it more personal for participants, giving a glimpse into the other side.

2009-2010 homeschool Feb update

We’re about two-thirds of the way through our school year. It’s been a good year. Both Richard and Karen have learned a lot.

They each do language arts, reading, and math at their own level. I try to have them both working on the same subject at the same time. This keeps things easier. My new weekly schedule has been working great. This month they started swim lessons twice a week. That made for some disruption to the schedule, but are now getting used to the new routine.

Karen is where I remember Richard being at this stage of kindergarten. She’s reading three and some four letter words. We haven’t finished the alphabet yet, but she’s gaining confidence. She misplaced her workbook last week and we haven’t found it yet so I’m going to skip to the next one. I’ve been having her read short books instead but she’s ready to get back to the workbooks and learn more sounds.

I like the Christian Light Learning to Read program much better than Abeka K4-K5. Handwriting in incorporated in the same workbook. There aren’t a bunch of different workbooks to do each day. Instead she just does several pages in one workbook that covers phonics and handwriting. Soon we’ll add language arts. Then she’ll continue separate language arts and reading workbooks.

She’s learning place value to 100’s in math. Using the blocks for Math-U-See is making it easy.

We’ve been doing science on Wednesdays. Richard reads about it then we all do a project. He’s doing solutions today and we’re making homemade cola. We’re also looking at separation of juice so show liquids can have different layers. I don’t want to have two unrelated science programs. I can have them both study the same thing, but him do more details than Karen. He can read independently and I’ll read a simpler book to her about the same subject.

Richard just started the eighth out of ten workbooks for reading and language arts this week. He’s done a lot of grammar including adjectives, homophones, synonyms, and sentence diagramming. In reading, he’s learned to skim for details in a story.

Richard’s history hasn’t had many projects, but he’s enjoyed the reading. We finally finished the civil war and western expansion. It was rather odd to teach homesteading as history since we do many of those activities. It was almost like reverse teaching since I had to explain why most of them aren’t commonly done today (most people have running water, electricity, small hobby gardens instead of large subsistence ones, etc). WinterPromise also had a section about the Klondike gold rush which I added onto for a little Alaska state history. He was supposed to do a gold panning kit, but my husband wanted him to wait until summer when we can do it for real at a nearby creek that still gives gold. Now he’s studying early industrial revolution.

He’s really picked up on multiplication for math. He’s not using the blocks. He likes to find patterns. One of the boys in his swim lessons asked to learn the multiplication table after Richard told him that he knows it. This week he learned greater than, less than, and equal signs. They have finished the multiplication table and are moving into multiple digit multiplication problems. I really like how Math-U-See integrates word problems rather than just problem sets. They also have things like measurement equivalents (pints and quarts in a gallon, feet in a yard, etc) in the proper lesson instead of separately.

Last week I did evaluations for Richard’s progress report. He was ready to advance in 4 subjects: math, technology, social studies, and career development. I haven’t been having him do math tests until this year so I had him take the district exam. It was over 100 questions! There were only a few questions for each aspect (addition, subtraction, geometry, statistics, etc) but together they added up. I broke it into 2 days with lots of breaks so he wouldn’t have to sit doing math all day. The assessments for the other subjects were descriptions of projects he’s done.

I’m starting to plan for next school year. Richard will be in fourth grade and Karen will do first grade. He’s going to continue with Christian Light Education for Bible, reading, and language arts. She will be finishing the second half of their first grade reading and language arts program (reading 100 and language arts 100). That should take half the year. Then we’ll do First Favorites collection from Veritas Press the second part of the year. They will both continue with Math-U-See. She’ll do Alpha (single digit addition/subtraction) and he will be in Delta (division). I’m not sure about science. I have a basic science program from WinterPromise that I’ll probably do with her. I’ll wait and see what he’s interested in this summer before deciding science for him.

No more easy credit

New credit rules go into effect soon. I’m not sure how they will affect me, but don’t mind if they help keep credit stable long term. The new rules will limit who can get credit. It will also change credit interest rates and terms so those who have the most at-risk credit will pay more. I think it’s about time for this change. I don’t have much sympathy for those who run up massive amounts of credit then complain when they can’t pay the bills.

Easy credit made it possible for people and companies to live beyond their means. They could charge what they wanted and make small monthly payments. They got used to a higher standard of living than they could actually afford. What many people didn’t understand is that by lowering the monthly payment, they were actually increasing the time they would need to pay the item in full. In the meantime, they pay interest on the amount, which could potentially double the price of the item now that higher interest rates are likely.

New rules on who gets credit will make it so those who are the most financially responsible will pay the least and those more at risk will pay more. This is fair. Credit companies and banks are businesses not charities. They take a risk when they issue credit that you may default on the balance leaving them holding the bag while the consumer has the goods. Higher interest and lower limits for the more at risk consumers helps limit their risk somewhat.

While I understand that during a low economic period may not be the best time for consumers to have the new credit rules take effect, it is the best long term solution as it will help insure credit stays available for those more worthy of it.

“Not everyone either deserves or should have an open-ended credit card,” said Roger C. Hochschild, chief operating officer of Discover Financial Services.

Joining those who won’t easily get cards: college students and others under age 21. The law strictly limits card marketing on campuses, ending giveaways like T-shirts and pizza. Cards can only be granted to applicants who show they have the means to repay, or those who have a co-signer who can pay.

I had trouble getting credit in college before the days of easy credit because of this. However, I paid all my small bills on time. Then I was approved for a car loan and paid that off early. I try to only use credit as necessary, not on a whim. I only have one credit card. I did buy a new mattress set on credit, but paid it off within a year so I wouldn’t have to pay interest. Now I have good credit and lower interest rates, but still live within my means.

The credit bubble has burst.  It isn’t necessarily the fault of the lenders. While the lenders may have made lucrative offers or targeted those more at-risk, ultimately it was the consumer who used the credit and made the purchases. They made a choice to use credit rather than living within their means, now they need to be accountable for it.

Unfortunately, it will be harder for those who charged money indiscriminately to get caught up. I would urge people to get credit counseling and educate themselves about how to use credit and prioritizing wants. They need to learn to live within their means. This may mean lowering your standard of living. However, if you can’t afford it without increasing debt, you probably would have to do this eventually anyway. The sooner you realize this and take action, the sooner you can start to recover financially. A good company is Crown Financial Ministries. They offer many different credit counseling and financial planning packages and programs to help people reign in consumer debt and learn to live within their means.

Some people think a government bail out for defaulting consumers and companies is needed. I don’t think the government should bail people out. I feel sorry for them, but why should a person with good credit have to pay the debts of those who aren’t financially responsible and won’t live within their means? Besides, our government already has massive amounts of debt itself.

The U.S. government also needs to learn to live within it’s means too. New social programs are nice and sound like a good idea, but where will the money come from? At some point taxes must go up. We can’t keep borrowing from our future. That’s what created this problem. All a bailout or new social program would do is shift the debt from individuals to the public in the from of higher taxes. It’s unfair to penalize those who make good decisions to pay for those who made bad ones (both privately and corporately).

This is just how a free economy works. Some make money, others fail. While I feel sorry for employees of companies that made bad decisions who are hurt through no fault of their own by job loss, this is normal and long term helpful for economic stabilization. Being free to take risks, is what drives companies to profit. No one complains when the risk pays off. Then they call it good business. When it falls apart, people cry foul and beg for regulations. But, the more regulations on a business, the less risk they will take. Therefore they will have less profit and will either pay lower wages or have fewer employees and dividends. How does that help recovery long term? It doesn’t. Reform legislation should achieve a balance between protectionism and risk.

I like what I’ve seen of the new credit laws. It protects the lenders from high risk consumers. They protect consumers from predatory lending practices. While their may be a sudden changes for some people, overall, they seem more fair as long as lenders don’t take advantage of possible loopholes. The days of easy credit are over and our country will be better off for it as people start to live within their means again.

Starting a Health Fitness Specialist degree

As I stated in another post, I’ve been approved for beginning an Associates in Applied Science (AAS) degree program in Health Fitness Specialist. Everything just about is complete for my entrance. My ACT scores were finally received, and I scored well enough that I can get out of 4 foundation classes usually required. 🙂 Speaking of classes, I still haven’t heard which of the UAF classes were able to transfer to the other university on my transcript. I’m hoping a lot of them transfer so I don’t have to take any general classes, but can get right down to the degree specific courses.

I have to do an interview for financial aid (required even if paying your own way) then I can register for classes. I was supposed to have done the interview this week, but with only one vehicle since the accident, we were extra busy and I wasn’t home during the times available. Hopefully this can be done on Monday. Then I can register for classes and arrange book shipments. I’m excited to start classes in early April.

Why a degree as a Health Fitness Specialist? I’m definitely not your typical health nut, nor do I necessarily consider myself one. I’m 35, not athletic by any means, and overweight. However, I do see the value in being fit and want to help others learn that you don’t have to be athletic to be fit. Nor is being fit just being skinny. Being fit is a lifestyle and as such, full of choices. I want to help others make healthy choices. This degree will give me more knowledge to do that.

I want others to know that you can change your life from unhealthy to fit. I’m doing it. It’s not always easy, but worth the effort. Not someone who hasn’t been there saying what a health book says weight loss should be. Nor someone drastically overweight telling how to get thin. I’ve gotten advice from both these types. Neither of them were especially helpful, even though they were both informational. Instead, it added to my frustration because I felt they didn’t understand where I was coming from. I want the book learning to go along with my personal insights so I can help with a range of fitness problems whether it be loosing weight, toning trouble spots, or injury rehab.

For this degree, classes include human anatomy, movement, nutrition, fitness evaluations, and how the body responds to exercise. There’s also some business classes. It’s more detailed than what most fitness instructors and personal trainers have and I’d be able to pass those exams. This is a 2 year degree with the option to continue into a bachelor’s degree which has more specialized training courses.

I’m taking most of this for my own knowledge rather than wanting a specific job. However, I would be able to work in almost any health setting including gyms and health clubs, physical rehab centers, schools, and even corporate settings. It’s definitely a portable degree. That’s good since I could likely get short term or part time positions while traveling if I ever wanted to. I want to help people as a wellness coach and fitness instructor to get over the blocks keeping them from being fit. I’ve already been approached for a potential fitness instructor position.

Fitness update 2010 #5

They fit NOW! Being a conservative Christian woman, I don’t wear jeans. Instead of having “skinny jeans” to try to fit into, I have skinny dresses.

A few weeks ago, I ordered 3 smaller dresses in the hope that I’d be able to wear them by this summer. The dresses I buy aren’t sized with regular numbers or SML, but instead are by chest and waist size (you get a more customized fit this way too). I ordered these smaller in the waist (40B, 36W). They arrived yesterday. I tried them on this morning and they fit! One is a little tight, but it zipped. Even though two are elastic waist, the elastic is loose. It’s great to have a real waist that’s smaller than my chest again! Hopefully, the next time I order dresses, I’ll be able to get them smaller chested as well.

Unfortunately, I gained back 2 pounds this week. Not surprising though because I haven’t done much exercising and ate poorly since the accident. I’m starting to feel better so may do a bit of light exercise later. The insurance company has let me rent a car therefore I can get to the gym again. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do Turbo Jam with all it’s twisting and kicking, but I can do slow swimming. That’s better than nothing. I haven’t needed as many pain pills the past few days which is a good sign.

The weather has been really warm. It’s in the low 40’s today. While that may feel good, our refrigerator is not working. We do have a small freezer to keep the frozen things. We can’t set stuff outside to keep cool with the warm temperatures. This makes keeping fresh stuff very difficult. I’m not sure what we’re going to do about that. In the mean time between lack of proper refrigeration, stress, and pain from the car accident our diet has been pretty sorry.

My plan for this next week is build up my strength again. I don’t want to overdo it though so I’m going to go pretty slow. Hopefully we can fix the fridge, but if not then we can eat healthier frozen and canned choices or go to the stove every few days. It’s just a matter of coping, which I’m not very good at.

Fitness update 2010 #4; still shrinking

Today was a good morning (before the car crash that is). I took my monthly measurements and have shrunk again. My waist and chest are another inch smaller. I’ve lost the 3 pounds that I gained earlier in the week pigging out for my birthday which puts me back to 165. While I only lost about 1/2 inch from my thighs, I am starting to feel some new definition to the muscles so hopefully those numbers will go down soon. One of my arm measurements actually went up a little, but I’m pretty sure that is muscle I’ve added.

The new Turbo Jam routines are great and we’re getting quite a workout in water aerobics. She has us doing jumping jacks and power jacks. I seem to be the only one who likes those because everyone else complains. I think power jacks are fun in the water and after doing so many jacks with the new Turbo Jam, they’re pretty easy. However, with the soreness from the crash today, I think I’m going to take it easy a few days.

Aside from pigging out for brunch buffet the day before my birthday, I’ve been eating pretty good. We went to Chili’s for my birthday lunch. I was good and had a mixed grill of Margarita chicken and spicy shrimp with veggies and beans (instead of heavy loaded mashed potatoes). The yummy spinach/artichoke dip and chips appetizer was shared between all 4 of us. The shrimp were a bit greasy, but the chicken was wonderful. I enjoyed ice tea instead of soda. I’ve been drinking more water, avoiding seconds, snacks, and sweets as per No S Diet. It’s been pretty hard not to snack in the evenings, but I managed anyway. I haven’t even had a birthday cake this year.

The plan for the next week depends upon how sore I am and if I need to go to the doctor or not. I’ll have to wait and see on exercising, but will continue eating well. I’ve gotten so I’m craving healthy instead of junk foods now (see my selections from Chili’s for proof) which is nice but weird.

Car crash

I was in a car crash this morning. I was driving on the highway when an oncoming car turned left across the intersection in front of me. I saw him, but assumed since I had a steady green light that he would yield before turning left. Instead he turned in front of me and I hit the passenger side with my front end going about 35 mph.

The impact spun my car until it was facing the opposite direction and pushed him into the front of a car stopped at the light. My shoulder is sore so an ambulance came. They gave me a sling. There were plenty of witnesses who all agreed it was not my fault, but the fault of the other driver not yielding. The police didn’t even want my statement after I got out of the ambulance. I may go to the hospital tomorrow morning if it’s still so sore.

Both doors of his passenger side are smashed. The glass is totally shattered. It flew up over my windshield. That looked like loose snow. My car had very slight looking damage to the front end. It pushed the bumper back toward the wheels so had to be towed, but isn’t rumpled or dented. The third car front is dented in the driver corner.

The insurance company has been notified. Now I get to deal with his insurance company since he was at fault. Luckily he was insured. They are calling in a day or so and then we will decide what to do.

Both kids were with me in the back seat and are unhurt. Needless to say, we didn’t make it to their swim lesson today. Instead they got to tour public safety vehicles (fire truck, ambulance, and 2 police cars). Since I had no way to get in touch with my husband (we don’t have cell phones) the police brought us home in one of the cruisers. Oh, as the police car was pulling away onto the highway, he had the toplights on and another car didn’t yield to him! I think he would have given them a ticket if he didn’t have us with him. He even commented about “blue lights mean yield” as the car drove by.

Great TJ workout pair

Whew! I just finished a great hour of Turbo Jam. My 7 new Turbo Jam videos (the Fat Burning Elite package) have been torturing me on the kitchen counter for several days. Tonight I decided to get busy. One is a 50 minute workout. Another is 45 minutes. The others are half an hour. I decided to start with one of the half hour.

Turbo Jam Live: Booty Sculpt + Abs was my first workout this evening. I didn’t really know what to expect from the description on the box. It was fun and a bit silly. You shake your butt and more silly things frequently while doing other exercises like arms and even squats which keeps it from getting dull like a lot of targeted videos often are. I haven’t used a flat rubber band since high school and let me tell you, my legs were burning by the end of that section. This video is a condensed version of Turbo Sculpt focusing on abs, butt and thighs with a little arm work thrown in too. My abs, butt, and thighs will probably remind me of this workout tomorrow. That’s a good thing though because my thighs are my new trouble spot since my upper arms are now toned from using Turbo Jam. The half hour felt like only 10 minutes. It was intense but doable and fun. I used 5 pound weights and should have used more, but can’t find my 10’s. I’d really like some 7.5’s.

Following that, I did another half hour Live workout, Cardio Party Remix. This is an intense Cardio Party. It’s only half an hour, but WOW! It really gets your heart pumping even before the double Turbo. That’s right, two Turbos, and they’re back to back. I’m glad I did this after the Booty Sculpt because I don’t think I would have energy left if I did this first. There were a few new moves, but they were easy to catch on. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this for beginners to Turbo Jam. It’s pretty fast paced throughout.

Together these two videos made for a great, hour long workout. I needed it since we went to a brunch buffet to celebrate my birthday. If I did just these two, I think I’d see great results fairly quick. They compliment each other nicely with the strength training on Booty Sculpt and intense cardio of Remix. Since they are each only half an hour, they are easier to fit in than the full 45 minute TJ workouts, yet more intense than the 20 minute. I can do one in the morning and the other in the evening. I think I’ll do that this week then try some of the others next week.

Oh, a cute side note. My daughter is learning to read. She’s 5 and doing homeschool kindergarten. When I laid out the new videos on the floor to decide which I was going to do, she came over and looked at them a minute then said “Beach Body”. I didn’t prompt her. I asked her to point where it said that and she did! Who knew Beach Body promotes literacy too 😆

Climbing the ladder

A few years ago when I first became interested in healthy eating, I stumbled across Michi’s Ladder. It looked neat so I printed it off for reference. Unfortunately, I lost the link where I found it, so I could only share paper copies. Tonight I found it again at Team BeachBody! It’s been updated with more foods since I originally printed it so it’s now even more helpful.

Michi’s Ladder isn’t a diet plan. Instead, it’s a 5 tiered ladder to show how healthy foods are. The first tier are the healthiest foods (mostly fruits, grains, and vegetables). There are a few meats like broiled fish on level 1 also. Level 5 has all the junk: fried foods, sweets, gravy, creamy dressing. Everything else falls somewhere in between.

You can use it to design healthier meals and snacks. Making substitutions of higher tiered foods in place of those lower down will make a healthier dish. The idea is to have as many of your foods up as high up as possible. Looking at Michi’s Ladder (instead of the traditional food pyramid) shows that it is possible to eat vegetarian and still not eat healthy, it just takes more effort. This is from using canned instead of fresh, frying or adding sauces.

Starting tonight, except for maybe Monday (my birthday), we are going to eat all vegetarian for at least the next week. My family is very supportive of this decision. Happily, most of the ingredients for the vegetarian meals I have in mind (except the quiche) are from tiers 1 or 2. The meals I planned for this week so far include a spinach pie with Feta cheese, spaghetti, lentil bake, vegetarian sloppy joes (uses lentils instead of meat), and broccoli quiche.

To partly make up for Monday’s planned splurge, tonight I made homemade Falafel with yogurt based dill cucumber sauce in whole wheat pitas. These garbanzo bean (aka chick pea) mush balls are traditionally fried, but I baked them after a quick spray with Pam so they would brown in the oven. They were a hit! Yummy and filling. I made the mush last night. I don’t have a real food processor, just a hand crank chopper so it took awhile. I made enough balls to freeze for a quick meal another night.

Breakfasts will be either toast and jam (both homemade) or oatmeal with fruit. Lunch probably pb&j. I need to stock up on fruits and snack veggies like baby carrots and celery. Some sunflower seeds and nuts would be good snacks too, especially for the kids who need more (good) fat and calories.

One great thing about higher tiered foods is they tend to be easier to clean up since they are low fat. I also found if I must fry, using olive oil instead of butter, canola or other vegetable oils will make clean up easier. I’m not sure why, just know it is. Plus, it’s on tier 2 whereas butter and canola oil are tier 3, and vegetable oil is way down on tier 5.

If you are interested in eating more healthy or even just curious how your favorite foods fit in, I urge you to check out Michi’s Ladder. I’ve seen a lot of food lists, and this one is the best and easiest to understand I’ve seen.

2010 fitness update #3

There here! My new Turbo Jam videos arrived yesterday and have been torturing me in the box on the kitchen counter until tonight. Now I just need to decide which one to do first. I also need to clear more space on the shelf.

I am still at the same weight. Not surprising since I haven’t really been doing much exercise this week. I smashed a hammer into my shin last Thursday while helping to remodel a house. Ouch. It’s almost well now but still a little tender so I think I’ll do one of the shorter (30 minute) Turbo Jams tonight. That limits it down to half of them.

Ugh! A furnace just went down. I need to deal with that rather than exercise tonight. 😦

I did manage to go to water aerobics last night. The class is also on Monday evenings but I don’t go because that’s our busiest day for apartments. You’d think people would want to see them on the weekend, but no. Monday and Tuesday are the busiest days. They were having a raffle and I won. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there so she drew another name. Oh well.

I’m going to be going back to school this spring. I’ve been accepted for a degree AA in Health and Fitness Specialist. There’s lots of courses in anatomy, kinesthetics (human movement), how the body reacts to exercise in different situations and ages, and even a few business classes. When looking at the course list and considering an online course or two, most of them were interesting so I decided I might as well get a degree. I’m pretty excited about this. If I want to after finishing the AA, I can continue and get a BS. I’m not doing this to get a job. It just sounds so interesting.

The kids started swim lessons this week and are doing great. Karen’s beginner class is first then Richard’s intermediate. They are 45 minutes each. I don’t swim laps because there isn’t enough time after she starts before he has to get ready. Then I help her shower and get dressed. After that, there’s only about 15-20 minutes left in his class. It’s fun watching the kids and I help a little with them at the diving board.