Category Archives: Organization

It’s About to Get Real in Here…

This one’s a super short post, and it’s about ramping up to the onslaught of holidays that are coming up (and that I know we’re all beginning to plan for). It’s the trifecta. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/Hannukah.

I use a guiding principle when my mind becomes cluttered with all sorts of demands, small and large. The problem with being a mom is that the small demands are not necessarily insignificant. And the large demands do not need to be taken care of expeditiously. Also, there’s that whole limited-hours-in-a-day thing. Some days it’s easier to maintain equanimity and clarity, and some days, well, it’s a sh*t show. On either day, when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, I ask myself, “What is most important?”

The beauty of that question is that there can only be one most important thing. Somehow that question runs your to do list through the algorithm of what is most important bubbles up: 1) what needs to be taken care of immediately (small or large), 2) if there’s an approach change that has to be made 3) allows you to single task and 4) gives the lovely sense that even if you didn’t get everything done today,  you handled all the most important things you could. Which is all anyone reasonable can ask for.

After one or two weeks of Stage 1, you’re probably horrified about how rampant the soy and corn is in your diet. It’s estimated that Americans consume about fifty percent of their calories from additives made out of corn and soy. And then there’s sugar, some from corn syrup (made from GM corn, you guessed it) and some made out of sugar beets (also GM).

You know those kids who are allergic to corn and soy? They have a lucky horseshoe up their rear end because they never touch the stuff. Unfortunately, a lot of parents just replace those calories with sugar, not knowing that a lot of the sugar is made from the same corn and wonder why sometimes their kids totally freak out. Not that the sugar helps, but the source of the sugar is a concern too.

Just taking out the processed food might have caused a noticeable decrease in bloat. For women, this is more noticeable in the mid-section, and clothes (especially jeans) will fit more easily. For me, this is the difference between before riding the dragon and after riding the dragon.

Speaking of the mid-section, this is the next step in cleaning out your diet. Clean out the plumbing. To do that, you’ll want to re-populate the flora and fauna in your gut. That means you need to eat good fiber, pro-biotics, and pre-biotics. This is a good time to change out your grains to organic.

Probiotics

The most inexpensive source of probiotics is straight yogurt. WHOLE milk yogurt, raw if you can get it. The lower the percentage is of fat in the yogurt, the more it’s been processed, even if it’s organic. Greek yogurt is touted as being wonderful, and it is, if it’s real greek yogurt. I don’t know a single Greek person who would deign to put Fage in her mouth. We get our yogurt from Sophia’s in Belmont. It’s made from sheep milk (pasture fed in the summer and while not certified organic, damn close if not better) and the plain has a tang that’s out of this world. I’m not a huge fan of additional flavors – you can get the flavors by adding the actual fruit in the morning. If you have plain greek yogurt, you can eat it in the morning with RAW honey. It’s delicious and sating. (Honey decreases inflammation in the body; don’t worry about the sugar content, since a lot of the yogurt going into your system will actually digest the sugar for you.)

Prebiotics

Prebiotic foods are covered by anything fermented. Lacto-Fermented is best, since it means it wasn’t bathed in vinegar made from….GM corn. (It’s ubiquitous, sigh). We get our kimchi from our Vermont farm share.

Fiber

Go get yourself some Psyllium Husk. Whole Foods carries it; it tastes like nothing, but drink it quickly because it solidifies and then it’s really difficult to get down. Psyllium husk has the benefit of being a prebiotic and an excellent source of fiber, so it’s a two in one.

Another wonderful source of fiber and prebiotics is a bar made by Two Moms In the Raw. There are a bunch of different flavors to choose from, and it makes you very regular. It has the added benefit of being easy to bring around with you in the car or to work. My girlfriends and I call it “Two Moms on the Can.”

Water

When you have to clean out the plumbing, you need a lot of water. The standard formula is 2/3 your body weight in ounces. Add 12 ounces for every half hour you work out to account for water loss due to sweat.

While we’re on the topic of water, try to stay away from water bottled in plastic, especially if you live somewhere hot. Ever open a plastic water bottle and smell the plastic? What do you think that’s doing to your water? Treat yourself to a glass bottle, and fill up at the cooler and from your filtered water at home. It’s greener, less expensive, and better for your health.

A bunch of friends have been asking me how to go about making these massive changes in their diet. It’s a mammoth task, and it’s not one that can be undertaken without some sort of plan. Because the truth is, if you think about this stuff too much, you can go insane. Then analysis paralysis ensues, and you need to take a nap before you even start.

With the vantage point of being a few years into this, I have put some thought into how to execute all the modifications in the most consolidated way possible. Please note that I did not use the word easy, because making these changes is SO not easy, and I respect you enough to know that you have already intuited that.

So, enter the concept of doing things in stages. The earlier the stage, the less complicated. Each successive stage involves more planning or work to execute.

Here are the main guidelines for Stage 1:

  • You start reading labels on every single thing you eat.
  • You eat nothing with dye in it. That means anything that has a color and a number next to it. If it says “lake” that’s just the powder form of the dye. It’s made as a by-product from processing gasoline, and it’s banned in China. (Yeah, China. And they’re not exactly world leaders on human rights and caring for their people.)
  • You remove all corn that is not organic. You’ll find it in a TON of food that comes out of a box. If it’s not specified as organic, it’s genetically modified. 88 percent of corn in the US is genetically modified, and it’s MUCH cheaper than organic corn, so it’s a safe bet that the processed food company is not decreasing their profit margin to be nice. That includes corn oil.
  • You remove all soy that is not organic. 93 percent of soy in the US is genetically modified. Also much cheaper than organic soy. Also, any time vegetable oil is referenced but not specifically called out, it is usually corn, soy or canola. Which brings me to the next one.
  • Remove canola oil. Canola oil is actually a created name to represent Canada’s genetically modified rapeseed oil. (“Can” for Canada; “ola” for oil) Rapeseed goes rancid quite quickly and so most canola oil is processed with a lot of chemicals including hexanes so that when the oil goes bad, you can’t tell. 90 percent of canola oil is genetically modified (Even the organic stuff is now called canola because that’s the only way people recognize it. You can imagine the PR nightmare of trying to sell an oil with the word rape in it.)
  • If something has sugar in it, but it’s not specified as cane sugar, it’s likely sugar made from genetically modified sugar beets, which comprise 95% of the sugar beets grown in the US.
  • Just removing these four things will probably put about 80% (possibly more) of the processed food you consume out of play. Which might make you eat more food that doesn’t come out of a cardboard box. Anything left that you need to come out of a box, look for the label that says “non-GMO”.
  • Replace the stuff you used to eat out of a box (especially cereal) with organic granola and raw nuts.
  • God help me that I would have to say this, but NO FAST FOOD. It’s basically composed of GMO ingredients and MSG.

If you lose weight or start to feel better, please comment on this post so we can share our experiences as a community!

Share and Share Alike

This post is most salient for those of you who are local, but I believe in putting my money where my mouth is, so we do several shares every month in addition to regular runs to the grocery store.

Spring’s basically here which means a CSA for produce (in the winter we have a small winter garden for lettuce in our backyard and hit Whole Foods to peruse what’s on sale to make that for dinner).

My CSA of choice is LexFarm because it’s: a) local and b) the food is grown using organic methods. That means that my carbon footprint is lower, and I get my organic on. I know there is no sewer sludge anywhere near the fertilizer at this farm. Because that’s disgusting. And full disclosure, I’m on the board this year. Until they get sick of my bad puns. 75% of the shares are sold as of today but if you are interested in signing up, you can do that here. If you aren’t close to Lexington, you can see what’s available on localharvest.org.

Because we are lucky enough to live on a coast, and we love to eat seafood, we also participate in a fish share. Ours is Cape Ann Fish Share, and we usually do a one or two pound fillet. You can decide not to deliver for certain weeks if you’re going away this summer. We do this one all year round. They fish sustainably and you get top of the catch, which means the fish were usually caught that morning. Seriously, yum.

We also do a meat share year round with Chestnut Farm, which does have a waitlist, but you can find more about it here. I love Kim. And I also love bacon. And I really love when Kim brings me bacon.

I do not receive kickbacks of any sort, although I do donate my time to LexFarm and would love to see all three of these organizations thrive. (If you have a metric for good karma, I suppose you can count that as a kickback. Otherwise, good luck gathering that data.) If you do sign up, please mention me only so they know how you found out! Small organizations like these need that kind of information. If you want to let me know you signed up, I would be grateful too.

Being Efficient … About Being Efficient

Happy New Year! In the spirit of getting as much done in as painless a fashion as possible, I put together the top five things that help me day-to-day. They are:

    1. The Basket. I have a woven basket that I use to pick up and house everything that is going from one room to another. It serves as a visual to-do list of things that need to be put away, addressed by the end of the day, or generally dealt with. It’s woven fabric because then it doesn’t catch on my nylon athletic gear (which I am usually sporting, no pun intended) and it has handles for when I’ve overloaded it and need to get a grip (pun intended). It’s big enough for random toys (perplexus ball, anyone?) but not so big it becomes a toy bin.

    1. The Clipboard. If I had to name the top five things that make me efficient each day, one of them has to be my clipboard. That’s right. I carry a clipboard. This allows me to: a) write down anything at a moment’s notice, especially in the car and b) administer the Presidential Physical Fitness test at any time, as long as I have my trusty whistle and a stopwatch.

    1. The Schedule. On the clipboard is the schedule. I know, I know. There are digital devices for this. But I find that I don’t really retain what’s going on until I’ve written it down by hand. So I do. On Sunday night, I sit down with a notepad for the week and write out all the big and small things that I need to do. It gives me a good mental picture in my head about the structure of the week so when people ask me about something on the fly and I don’t have my phone, I’m able to trust my gut reaction a little more about whether it’s going to work.

    1. Organizing Errands. The night before a school day (or a busy weekend day) I will sit down with my Lands End tote and a bunch of mesh zippered pouches and sort through my errands. Any returns or exchanges with receipts get a pouch, and it allows me to visually see how full the morning is going to be. Sorting them like that also allows me to group them by location so I can organize my route and use as little gas and time as possible, thereby being and saving green. The tote goes on the bench by the mudroom, and is taken out to the car as soon as I start my day.

  1. Car Organization. In the car, I have a Lands End gardening tote. Yes, a gardening tote. I have a gardening tote because: a) it has double handles so can be moved into the trunk on weekends when the passenger seat is not my mobile office b) it has lots of pockets and c) the dividers are soft so if I get into an accident I don’t worry I might be impaled by a wire bin.

What do you to do to stay organized day to day? Leave a comment, share the wealth!