TV violence

There are many parents who don’t monitor or care what their children watch on tv. They allow children to have tv’s in their room. They think as long as the child is staying out of trouble, it doesn’t matter. This is wrong.

Young children have a difficult time telling fact from fiction. Especially today with all the real crime dramas that often mimic events shown on the news. Sometimes, it can even be hard for an adult to tell a short clip of one of these shows from a news clip. Children do not yet have the discretion to tell them apart. As such, they assume it is all real. Yet they do not understand the consequences of real violence are real and permanent.

Children learn by example. If they constantly see violence, they will subconsciously become hardened against it. They will also mimic what they see. If they see violence on a daily basis as an acceptable way for a character to get what they want, that is what they will do too. Just compare the play of groups of children who watch violent tv to those who either don’t watch violent shows or watch no tv at all. There is a marked difference. This difference continues over into adulthood. Only instead of sticks and play guns, it is real clubs and handguns.

This was shown to me today. I brought my children to a park after church. It was one we hadn’t been to before, located in an area of rent subsidized low income housing. I’m not saying that having a low income means you will have violent children, however, they are more often allowed to watch violent tv. The girls wanted to play house. However, their idea of playing house was full of verbal abuse, swear words against the “child” from the “mom”, hitting, and other domestic violence. They thought this was fun. All 4 other girls took turns being the mom and the violent parenting style  was shown by each of them. They may have been acting out home situations, but also may have been imitating what they see on  tv.

If you only show violence, children think this is normal behavior. They don’t know any better. After a few minutes of this, my kids came over and told me it was time to go to another park. My kids who are not exposed to tv or home violence did not think this was fun or normal. They knew it was wrong and didn’t want to be around it.

Being a conservative Christian mom, I also have to consider Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” Video game and TV violence falls short of this standard. Therefore, we should not allow them.

So what can you do to protect your kids against tv violence other than banning tv? Monitor the shows they watch. You don’t have to stay in the room with them all the time, but check them periodically to be sure the show isn’t violent and to make sure they are still watching the show you expect them to be. Explain to the kids why you won’t allow violent shows. Do not allow tv in the kids room. You are less able to monitor what they are watching. Limit the time spent each day watching tv. Finally, have other activities available for them to do if there is nothing without violence on tv so they aren’t watching it anyway out of boredom.

Diet and exercise

You’ve heard it time and again. Diet and exercise together to lose weight. But what does that mean?

You need to change your habits to get rid of those that led to gaining the weight back. Do not use pills, starvation diets, clenses, or any other gimiks. They may work short term, but unless you change your habits, as soon as you stop using it, you will gain the weight back. 1-2 pounds/week is considered a healthy reasonable weight loss and is not very hard to achieve with a little self discipline.

The key to healthy weight loss is healthy nutrition including portion control along with exercise. You need to do cardio 3-4 times/week and strength training 1-2 times. Start with just a few minutes then gradually add time and intensity until you are doing 45-60 minutes at once.

The Couch to 5K program is good. It takes you from no exercise to running 3 miles (5K) after 2 months.

If running isn’t your thing, consider home exercise videos. I love TurboJam from Beach Body and have gotten some great results. If you like more traditional aerobics and weight training consider Slim in 6. If you are ready for a challenge try P90X or Chaleane Extreme. These are a bit expensive, but guarantee results. You may be able to find them cheaper on E-Bay. If you aren’t willing to put in the time and effort, no program will work by itself.

It doesn’t matter too much what you do. The best exercise is the one you will stick to. Everyone has something different they claim is the best. Just move with moderate intensity for at least half an hour several times a week.

An easy way to help eat better is the No S Diet. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s more of a sensible eating plan than traditional deprivation diet. No counting point, calories, carbs, etc. Just 3 simple rules.

1. No seconds.
2. No sweets (this includes sodas and other sweet drinks)
3. Not on S days (weekends and special holidays you can cheat)

If you want to have pizza, fine. Two regular or one large slice will fit on a plate. Chicken with rice? Just one serving. Pie ala-mode? Better make it on the weekend. The best thing about this is that unlike most traditional diets, it can be followed for you entire life without putting yourself in danger of malnutrition because it doesn’t limit the type of foods you can eat except sweets.

You can still have your favorite foods, just in moderation. You aren’t feeling deprived or guilty because you can eat what you want on the weekend. Just be sure you don’t overdo it and wreck all the good progress you made during the week. This also gives you something to look forward to the rest of the week. You don’t need special foods or to make a big deal around your friends and family.

Some people have #2 as no snacks. I find I get headaches if I don’t eat more frequently. I’ll allow myself a healthy snack of a small piece of fruit or veggies. Just be sure no dressing or peanut butter with it. Studies have shown that it is better to have 3 medium size meals and 2 small snacks rather than just 3 large meals. This helps keep blood sugar more steady. Plus you won’t feel so hungry at meal times.

Following this, you should start to see results in a week from the healthier diet (but you probably will be hungry this week as you get used to lower portions and lower calories) and bigger results in 2-3 weeks when the exercise starts showing. Plus, this is a healthy eating plan you can follow the rest of your life without any negative problems because other than sweets and unhealthy stuff which you shouldn’t be eating anyway, you aren’t limiting what types of foods you eat.

Fitness update 2010 #5, 14 days of fitness

The last few weeks my weight has stayed steady at 170. Not great, but at least I’m no longer gaining weight. Now it’s time to start the scale moving down again. I’ve been reading fitness blogs today to get myself motivated.

My husband is away on business for the next 2 weeks. I plan to take advantage of him being gone to get myself back into shape. I don’t expect miracles, but something is better than nothing. The gym wants me to attend several of the other aqua classes as well as a land cardio class. I have to choreograph a 15 minute water exercise routine. On top of that, I plan to jam in some TurboJam. I’m starting tonight with Cardio Party.

I know exercise is only part of a healthy weight loss plan. Diet is another critical part. We don’t have a lot of money right now so can’t afford extras. I want to spend what little grocery money I have on healthy options, not empty calories. That means we’re getting back to basics with beans, rice, fruit, and veggies. I literally scraped the bottom of the gluten bin at the store so I can make homemade multi-grain bread. We have chicken and frozen meatballs.

While he is gone, I am in charge of the business. Plus the kids have homeschool. It’s definitely going to be a busy 2 weeks. Hopefully fitness won’t be squeezed out. I’ve got nothing to lose but weight while I wait for him to return.

Don’t drink your calories

Many people are working out and eating healthy, yet aren’t losing weight. Why? While they are watching what they eat, they fail to take into account the calories in what they are drinking or they are drinking things that they think are healthy which really aren’t.

While some drinks are obviously bad for your waist like soda and other sugary drinks, others aren’t so easy to spot. Take for instance tea. Tea is generally good for you. That is until you bottle it with a bunch of sugar or corn syrup. Instead of bottled tea, brew your own then add a teaspoon sugar or honey and put it in a sipper in the fridge overnight.

Another diet buster is juice. That’s right, juice. While it may be packed with vitamins and natural, it definitely is not low calorie. For an 8 ounce serving, orange juice has an average of 115 calories, apple juice has 120 calories, and grape juice has over 150. This is because while whole fruit is mostly juice and fiber, it takes several pieces of fruit to make one serving of juice. Most bottled juices have more than 8 ounces in them so they are even higher in calories if you drink the entire bottle. Plus juice it is very low in fiber since most of the fiber is lost in the juicing process. Instead of juice, have the real thing. A piece of fruit is just as healthy but lower in calories and high in fiber. Another thing to be careful of, especially with kid’s drinks, is to be sure you’re getting 100% juice. Some “juice” drinks are just 10% juice and the rest is sugar water and chemicals. Read the label and stay away from these juice imposters.

“Health” waters include vitamin water or those purporting to give you extra benefits over plain water. Don’t be fooled. They are mostly sugar water with a little flavoring. Take a good multivitamin/mineral supplement with a glass of plain water instead.

Energy drinks traditionally have a lot of calories. While they may have caffeine in them, they also get their energy from sugar. Calorie content varies though so check labels or just have a strong cup of coffee instead. I also have concerns about constantly subjecting your body (especially kids and young adults) to all those chemicals. It’s easy to become addicted to them. Plus they are expensive.

Coffee, like tea, itself isn’t bad. It’s what you put in it that will get you in trouble. Coffee stand and bottled coffee drinks like mocha, lattes, espressos, and flavored creamers may taste good, but pack in the calories while draining your wallet. The money spent on such drinks really adds up over a year. If you figure $4/drink and you have one every working morning, that’s around a thousand dollars spent every year just on coffee!

Finally, don’t forget about alcohol. It has a lot of calories, ranging from 80 to 200 calories per serving. Compare this to sodas, which have around 100 calories per serving. Now you can see why your scale went up after a night of drinking, even before you consider anything extra you ate.

A good chart for comparing the average calories in what we drink is put out by the Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness. Drink This, Not That posted an online article listing the 20 worst drinks in America for 2010. I hope your favorite drink isn’t on the list.

Ready, Set, School!

The kids have both been begging to start school. My son went to visit his aunties last week. I told them we would start school when he got back. Well as soon as he got into the truck at the airport they started asking when we would do school. We usually start mid-August.

I was late ordering, but we do have enough things to begin, mostly finishing up from last year. So it looks like Monday will be our first day of school at The Kitchen Table Homeschool. Don’t you just love that name? It seems very appropriate because my kids always say they go to school at the kitchen table when someone asks  😆

Today I started organizing. Why was I still keeping my son’s old kindergarten workbooks since he’s going to be in 4th grade this year? Out they all went. In fact the stack was a foot and half tall of old workbooks and such that we don’t need anymore. Then I combined items from several different boxes into one double width box. His CLE workbooks are on one side and hers are on the other. After tracking down the other first grade teacher guides, I’m pretty much ready. In the process, I discovered the first of the two second grade readers and teacher guides are missing. I also realized I forgot to order the plan books to record the work they do.

I think it is important to start the school year off with a clean house. I’ve been sick this week so our house is rather messy. Instead of a mad dash to do it all at once, I’ve been doing it a little at a time throughout the day. I even prodded the kids to start cleaning their rooms.

We need to buy just a few school supplies. However, since we homeschool, we can still use most of the things from last year that are still in good condition like crayons and pencils. That’s good because money is tight right now and I don’t think we could afford a huge school supply list.

I’ve laid out the guidebooks and workbooks for Monday. We are all getting back into our earlier sleep schedule. The reward for finishing school will be a trip to the post office to see if any new materials have arrived.

Ready, set, school!

What do you use water for?

My husband and I own many apartment buildings. All the units have modern low flow toilets and shower heads which cut our bills in half when we installed them. On average, they currently use about 50 gallons of water/person every day. Not 50 gallons per apartment, but 50 per person! That seems incredibly high to me but it is the average in all the buildings so it’s not like one building is using more than others unless there is a leak.  Nor do we water lawns.  So this is all domestic use by the tenants.

I have 4 people in my family. Even when doing laundry and we all have a bath, we won’t use 200 gallons in a day. We have a 1000 tank which lasts us about 3 weeks. So I’d like to know a few things about your water use. For you homeschoolers, this may make a good conservation project or discussion starter.

1. How much water does your family use averaged per person each day?
2. What do you do to use all the water?
3. Are you trying to cut back on your water usage and if so how?

Please leave me a comment letting me know. Thanks!

Political fine print

There is a proposition in Alaska to require notification of parents for pregnancy care including abortions of underage girls in Alaska. I think this is a good idea and will be voting for it, but that’s not my issue here. The issue is disclosure in advertising.

There is an ad encouraging a no vote on this proposition. It was sponsored by a group calling themselves Alaskans Against Government Mandates. Sounds like a grass roots group of Alaskans fighting big government right? However, if you read the fine print you will see that the top 2 contributors for this group are the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. This is an underhanded way to trick Alaskans into thinking other Alaskans are concerned about this proposition from the perspective of government interference when in reality it is outside groups trying to influence state politics.

I like seeing the list of top contributors on the ad. My concern is that individuals may be intimidated if they see their name on the ads. Politics has traditionally been anonymous. But with so many large, out of state organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and unions having a sway in the outcomes, groups should be compelled to publicly list them in advertising. It is also unlikely that many individuals will have funds to be a top contributor to major elections.

I have no problems with groups like that in elections.  They are among the largest opposers to this proposition and have been willing to put their name out against it in other places. But banding together under a misleading name like this is dishonest to say the least. It is coercion. Why don’t they just put their name on the ads? Are they afraid of the truth? Because of this, I am in favor of requirements for large contributors to be disclosed on all ads.

While your actual vote should be confidential, I don’t think it is an invasion of privacy to require this disclosure. It does not limit government involvement by individuals. Instead, it helps cut down on the misleading names if you read the fine print and find out they really are a cover for national organizations with a stake in the outcomes.