Archive for the Health Category

Being Sick In A Tiny House

Being SickSo I’ve been living in my tiny house full time now for a little while and I still have a lot to get done before its totally finished, but recently I experienced one of thing that I had some concerns over when it comes to tiny houses: Getting sick.  Obviously being sick is never fun, but I had a few extra concerns when it came to my tiny house.

The biggest one was getting up and down from the loft when I was sick.  When I’m sick, I try to drink a lot of fluids and having to climb up and down to pee several times didn’t thrill me.  I’m not a person that gets sick often, but this time whatever I caught, really threw me for a loop.  To complicate going up and down my ladder, I had a pretty high fever, was very achy, and at times my coordination was kinda thrown off because of those things.  There was one time I almost toppled off the ladder because I got pretty dizzy mid way down.  But I’ve survived!

Warning: composting toilet talk up next

The next thing I’ve been worried about was using a composting toilet during my sickness.  I’ve learned that if you eat pretty healthy and make sure you have some good fiber in the mix, it makes the composting toilet much easier.  When you’re sick, you often don’t eat as well and/or your body isn’t working like it normally does.  All in all, it was fine, I worked it up to be much worse in my mind.  I did realize during this time that while I didn’t have a stomach bug this time, in the future, I’m going to want to have an additional bucket in case “all systems are a go”.

And Now...I'll Do What's Best For Me(1)

The final thing of note that I’d like to make on this topic is how the tiny house was a benefit in being sick.  Being that I now live in a tiny house and the tiny house enabled me to go out on my own to be self employed, I was able to take the time to just be sick.  Usually I’m a pretty busy guy, but I can schedule everything to my liking and that includes when I need time off.  So when I get sick, I don’t have to ask a boss for time off, I can just shoot off a few quick emails if need be saying I’m sick, then crawl into bed and sleep.  When I get sick, I just let my body do its thing and follow my body’s lead. Which means drinking a lot of fluid and sleeping a lot to give my body the energy it needs to fight the infection.

I brought a few bottles of water up with me to the loft and my laptop with a bunch of movies on it.  Most of the time I just was asleep, but when I was awake, I’d just open my laptop to watch a movie or listen to a “book on tape” on my phone.  In my old life, this would have been hard to do; I didn’t get any sick days, just my normal vacation.  Now I can disconnect and just heal.  It’s a great thing.

 

 

The Mindfulness of Tiny Living

It seems every day there are more and more articles on tiny houses focused on the physical aspects of construction mindfulwhich are incredibly useful and necessary. There are a plethora of videos and blogs providing excellent instruction on how to get your tiny house built but what about the act of living the tiny life? Living the tiny life has brought a certain mindfulness to my living. Now that I live it, I truly believe that acquiring mindfulness is assisted by downsizing and learning to live with less.

When I speak of mindfulness I’m referring to the act of attentive awareness of reality.  Being in the present moment, for me, is more easily achieved in a small space without the distractions that a larger space often brings me. I am very good at finding ways to distract myself but in a tiny house, often, whatever you are trying to ignore continually stares you in the face. I mentioned this very thing in a post back in March dealing with conflict but it goes for anything you might be trying to avoid-an article to write, a work assignment to finish or a hyper pup to walk!  There is no where to run in a tiny house. You can only go so long before you may, quite literally, bump up against, or be jumped on, by the very responsibility you are trying to avoid!

For me, procrastination is often an attempt to avoid the present. I’ll make excuses but the simple fact is that in 98 sq. feet mindfulness1I just can’t find that much to distract me for long. Mindfulness is a very difficult thing for many of us. I certainly have a bad case of “monkey mind,” the Buddhist term for restlessness (among other definitions). Living the tiny life has increased my awareness of the present moment thanks to lots of banged elbows and head bumps in the loft! Physically you are constantly being made aware of where you are in space because there isn’t much of it!

The Buddha taught that mindfulness was one of the seven factors of bodhi, or enlightenment, and that it was of great importance to reach this state of non-suffering. While I don’t expect a tiny house to give me complete freedom from suffering, there are aspects of living the tiny life that provide me a path to mindfulness. Having less material items gives me a great sense of freedom. Downsizing the stuff I’d been shuffling around for years really lightened my load, both physically and spiritually. Living the tiny life pushed me to really look at what I needed, rather than what I thought I needed. That was an important step in my path to increased daily mindfulness.

Cedric regularly feels physically restless in our tiny house. It leads him out the door into the woods and he’s able to bring mindfulnesshimself back to the present. Nature is where he finds mindfulness and our living space releases him into the forest where he rediscovers serenity. I think it’s important to think about lifestyle and reflect deeply, not only on the physical make-up of a small space, but the spiritual and emotional side of tiny living. You may well end up discovering that it allows mindfulness to infuse more of your daily life or it could have the affect of inhibiting it. I’ve come to learn that such considerations are essential to building a tiny house that brings  the most peace and comfort.

Your Turn!

  • Does living the tiny life bring you a greater sense of peace?

Via

Teaching Kids To Farm?

students

I was flipping through Good.com the last night and in their post they talked about if students should learn to farm?  It’s an interesting question and I can see so many arguments for and against it.  Growing up I was fortunate enough to take 2 year of shop class and 2 year home economics.  This is quite rare for even my age, in an time of fast food, I literally have no friends who know how to cook, sew, build something from wood.  At one point the fact that none of my friends cooked struck me quite hard when I had to show my girlfriend at the time how to boil pasta!  Life skills such as these are so important for men and women, young and old; I mean you gotta eat right?

One thing that I did not get was how to grow food, obviously in line with such tasks of cooking, woodworking, welding, sewing and child care.  This is a true gap in my knowledge, up until my grandparents, almost everyone gardened to some degree, but today very few do now.  What is interesting that now as an adult and growing in my pursuit of self sufficiency and environmentally consciousness, I find myself lacking a green thumb.   What is missing is the cultural knowledge of how to grow, to make our own food with our bare hands.  Back 2-3 generations everyone knew a little about it, if you needed advice, you could ask your neighbor.  Better yet, you could ask the farmer himself, because he was local.

raisedbed

All of these reasons are certainly defensible, but at the same time I know we also need to be hunkering down on the core subjects of academia.  Working in the non-profit sector, I am working within the schools to solve issues that impact the bottom line.  We are in need of a change, of a plan that will take our schools to the next level to achieve a high quality education for all students, does gardening have a place in our schools?

The 7 foods experts won’t eat

1. Canned Tomatoes

The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked tomatto ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi.

 

2. Corn-Fed Beef

The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming

The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. cowMore money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.

The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.

 

3. Microwave Popcorn

The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,

The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer.pop Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.

 

4. Nonorganic Potatoes

The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board

The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation’s most popular vegetable—they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”

The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

 

5. Farmed Salmon

The expert: David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.

The problem: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. “You can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. “It’s that bad.” Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.

6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones

The expert: Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society

The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. “There’s not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”

The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.

 

7. Conventional Apples

The expert: Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods.Appl

The problem: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.

The solution: Buy organic apples. If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.

source: Yahoo!