Friday, March 18, 2016


        Is it me?  I have a friend who just converted an upstairs bedroom into a laundry room so she won’t have to lug her unmentionables up and down two flights of stairs to get them country fresh.  Then, four to five times a week she gets into her car, leaving her kids home with her husband, and goes to a gym to work out on…you guessed it!…a stair climbing machine.  Seems to me carting laundry baskets up and down stairs would accomplish the same thing, perhaps more, since the weight would work on her upper body strength in addition to the workout her legs get from the climbing.

        Why not keep the money in a little college fund for the kids, leave the gas in the car and treat your family to some quality time.  That couple of hours selfishly spent at the gym could be spent in the kitchen with the hubby and kids sharing a low-fat meal.  Then pop in a load of laundry while heading out for a brisk family walk.  The kids can skate or ride bikes if they choose.  So can you for that matter. 

Exercise evokes images of calisthenics and step aerobics….Pfffft!  All you really have to do is keep moving for more than twenty minutes at a time. 

        We’ve created so many power devices for convenience, we’ve sent ourselves into energy overload which translates into stored energy which is FAT.

        I recently bought a manual lawnmower.  The man next door immediately assumed my gas mower wasn’t working properly and offered to check it out for me.  Honest, Russ, I was just looking for a two-fold workout, meaning, an hour later, along with my muscles being worked, my lawn was cut.  For under one hundred bucks you can have warm-weather workouts for years to come with your little grass cutter.  You’d spend a whole lot more than that sweating at the health club, and you’d have to figure out when you’d have time to do the lawn.   

        Before I became disabled, I used to join my kids when they played freeze tag.  Talk about a workout! Just try it out and see if you can keep up with them. 

        Instead of jogging try walking with the kids after dinner.  Or explore a nature trail or a beach if there’s one nearby.  Instead of driving to the Post Office, walk to the mail box.  Not the one at the end of your street.  Find one a healthy walking distance and go to it! 

        We spend a lot of time in gyms designed to simulate work that was second nature to our grandparents.  Manual labor is not indecent.  As a matter of fact, it’s healthy and very satisfying.  Sure you might break a nail scrubbing your floor instead of using a floor scrubber, but your abs will tone up! 

        If you can survive aerobics class wearing wrist and ankle weights you can sure mow the lawn with a manual mower or shovel snow rather than using a machine to blow it away. 

        Instead of tossing dirty dishes into the machine, scrub those pots by hand and get the kids to dry and put away while you tell them the jokes you heard at work, or get them to read to you.

        How many of you have a rowing machine sitting in your basement?  Do you use it?  Don’t lie.  Even if you do, it only seats one, right?  Why not take up canoeing, rafting or kayaking?  It’s more fun, can be done with the family or friends and beats staring at the basement wall or re-runs of Seinfeld. 

        Trade in electric or gas power for elbow grease! 

        Here are some suggestions for substitutions you can make:

  1. Instead of letting the dog out into the yard, grab a baggie and walk the wee beastie. You’ll both get some air and some exercise.
  2. Instead of a treadmill or even a track, try a nature trail, an inclined street, the beach.  Take the dog, the kids or offer to take a neighbor’s dog or kids as a favor. 
  3. Instead of using a stroller or coach constantly, try carrying the kids, switching arms a lot. 
  4. Instead of taking the car try your legs, a bike, blades, especially for any trip under 10 minutes by car.  Get a wagon or cart to lug groceries or recyclables.
  5. Instead of driving to the gym, try exercising at home.
  6. Instead of sophisticated, costly weight-lifting equipment, try milk jugs filled with sand or water or use a towel for resistance.
  7. Instead of aerobics class, memorize the steps and try exercising while watching TV, or play tag, races, or base runners with the kids.
  8. Instead of the skiing machine try skiing!  Snow ski in the winter and water ski in the summer.
  9. Instead of the rowing machine try a real boat.
  10. Instead of the riding mower try a manual mower, or at least a push mower.  And forget bag mowers. Start raking and sweeping.  Ditto on the power edger.  Get a manual one instead!
  11. Instead of a chain saw or power clippers try a manual saw, ax, pruning shears.
  12. Instead of the dishwasher try your hands.  Motion is motion.  Get the kids involved!  Talk to them! 
  13. Instead of vacuuming try sweeping or a damp cloth or a dust brush. Yes, some squatting or kneeling may be required…this is a good thing! 
  14. Instead of exercising in the pool try the ocean. 
  15. Instead of the floor scrubber try your hands and knees, then mop. 
  16. Instead of chemical cleaners try elbow grease.
  17. Instead of hiring a gardener try doing it yourself.  Ask a gardening friend who knows, or buy a book and learn.
  18. Instead of power tools try manual tools and elbow grease.
  19. Instead of the automatic carwash break out the hose and sponge.  While you’re at it, scrub down the deck and the porch furniture.  Get the kids to help, promising to squirt them once in awhile.  Have some fun!

    The added bonus in the savings from not using the power, buying memberships, and paying others to toil will be toned muscles, energy conservation, honest exhaustion rather than fatigue, less air pollution, more diversional workouts, pride in chores done personally, and most of all, time spent with your family who would otherwise be hanging out finding things to do while waiting for you to come home. 
    If you don’t have enough chores of your own to keep you busy, find an elderly person in your neighborhood and do some manual chores for them.  It’ll make you feel good, both physically and emotionally.
            It makes a whole lot more sense to keep fit doing real work than paying to use machines and take classes that simulate it for you.  


If you have sinus congestion, sinus allergies and sinus headaches, before automatically reaching for a decongestant or antihistamine, consider how many different fragrances surround you in your home and at work. 
 Fragrances in an average household: 
 Body wash, shampoo, lipstick, foundation, facial cleansers, hair spray/gel, Chapstick, hand sanitizers, fresh wipes, diapers,   body powder, baby powder, baby oil, foot sprays, acne medicines, deodorant, lotions, moisturizer, perfume, shaving lotion, shaving cream, hair conditioners, plug ins, carpet freshener, bleach (Tilex, Clorox, powdered cleansers like Comet), detergent, fabric softener, dish soap, dishwasher soap, candles, pet hair/supplies, carpet cleaner, spray cleaners, oven cleaners, soap, car air fresheners, kitty litter, Fireplace logs/sprinkles, mouthwash, toothpaste…
 And the list goes on and on and on.  And that is just fragrance added to consumer items.  There’s also a whole list of household chemicals that can damage the sinuses, as well as cause allergic reactions such as hives, rashes and headaches. 
Not to mention what happens if you mix chemicals.  Never use ammonia products and chlorine products together.  (For example Windex and cleanser containing bleach.)  Mixing ammonia and chlorine releases Chlorine gas which is poisonous and lethal. 
My recommendation is to use unscented products as much as possible.  This is kinder to your own body, and the sinuses of others whom you come into contact with during the day.  Whether you suffer from allergies or not, it’s rather unpleasant to be in an elevator or car pool with several people who have marinated in their perfume or after shave. 
As far as cleaning goes, vinegar can be used to clean kitchen surfaces.  I personally fill a spray bottle with vinegar and use it in the microwave (spray the inside of the microwave and run it for a few seconds and then wipe, careful of the hot vinegar), on counter surfaces, windows and mirrors.  It will take care of mildew in the shower.  And the best part is, there’s no chemical residue like from chemical cleaners.  You can clean a counter or cutting board with vinegar and chop veggies on it and it’s completely safe. Plus, a quart of vinegar is less than a dollar.  Can’t say that about a bottle of 409 or Windex! 
 Baking soda can be used in place of carpet freshener.  Corn starch can be used in place of talc and is easier on your lungs. 
Also, everything does not need to be scented.  In fact, scented air fresheners aren’t eliminating odors, they’re masking them and the bacteria that is causing the odor. 
Sometimes the best answer is to clean.  Steam clean a sofa or carpet.  You don’t need heavy duty detergents or cleansers, that’s the point of steam cleaning.  The steam heat kills the bacteria and the odors. 
Hopefully eliminating some of the strong fragrances and chemicals from your daily routine will relieve some of the overload and damage to your sinuses and nasal passages. 


I swore off chocolate over ten years ago, much to the relief of my friends and family.  I realized at that time, that whenever I ate chocolate, within an hour of eating it I would experience impatience and irritability, and if that weren’t bad enough, during the next twelve-hour period I would crash, becoming weepy and depressed.  The depression, depending on how much chocolate I consumed, could last for 24 to 48 hours. 

When I recognized that pattern, I looked up chocolate on the internet and found that it contains phenyl ethylamine in addition to the caffeine I already knew was there. 

Phenyl ethylamine acts on the dopamine levels in the brain and creates a feeling of euphoria.  I’ve read research that says the amount of phenyl ethylamine in chocolate is processed so quickly by the body that it doesn’t have a chance to affect the dopamine levels in the brain and thus produce a mood swing, but I beg to differ.  I know the effect that chocolate has on me every time I eat even a small amount of it, and that is why I choose to avoid it. 

I have a friend who, when I told him of my sensitivity to the chemicals in chocolate, was horrified at the prospect of my never indulging in this particular treat.  He suggested I go to a doctor and get a prescription for a mood elevator. 

This appalled me.  We are talking about the chemical balance of the brain, here, not a little indigestion.  I don’t understand why anyone would risk tampering with delicate balances that govern personality and brain function. 

As a pharmacy technician, I noticed how many people are prescribed mood elevators by well-meaning doctors, and wonder how many of those people could improve their moods swings just by adjusting their diets as I have. 

There are so many potentially harmful substances in the foods we eat it’s hard to know what’s safe.  The best way is to educate yourself as well as possible, keep an eye on your own personality patterns, and adjust your diet and lifestyle accordingly. 

Chocolate is off-limits to me because it isn’t worth the mood swings that I experience after I’ve consumed it.  And my loved ones who know how it affects me, are grateful for my self-control. 

Though I do miss brownies…