The Skinny on Fats

The Skinny on Fats

The advertisers and marketers in our society have gone to great lengths to convince us that fats are bad for us to eat. Some of them are and some are not.

By scaring us into believing that all fats are bad–we buy into (and literally buy) all the fat free, light and trans fat stuff they advertise as healthy. First we need to understand what fats really are.  I thought I knew, but once again, I was wrong.

Like with everything else, there are the goods and the bads….

Bad fats are saturated fats that the body has a harder time breaking down. They are usually stored by the body (as fat) and can usually be found in processed foods. These fats can cause cholesterol levels to go up and can put us as a higher risk of cancer, inflammatory diseases and heart disease.

But guess what?  While saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats and trans fat are very very bad for us–most cholesterol problems come from the processed sugar in our diets! Again from all the processed foods we eat.

That does not mean that I am recommending you eat saturated fats and stay away from sugar–I am recommending you stay away from processed foods as much as possible, because it has both!

The good fats though are very important to our bodies and we need them for the proper functioning of our bodies.  The goods can be found in meats, eggs (yes the yolks), and believe it or not the fat on pork.

Bacon lovers you can rejoice! Just make sure to find the best options for the good fat products that are available to you, for example, grass fed meat over corn fed.

Other good fats include avocados, walnuts, salmon, and cooking with extra virgin olive oil are another good source of the good fats that help our bodies.

So to make this completely confusing–if you want to lose the fat in your body you actually need to eat a balanced diet with more fat (the good fats).

But here is the really skinny part of fats–in my humble opinion it seems to me that we as a society are making things much harder than it needs to be.  

We drive ourselves crazy trying to find the “best” foods to eat while at the same time wanting the convenience and variety we have now. And there lies the problem.  There is too much of too much!

If we get back to basics and really look to eat as naturally as we can we can still have a great variety of foods that we enjoy without throwing our health to to wind.

When I think about my favorite foods–my mind always goes back to the things I most enjoyed in my childhood:  steak, chicken, rice, ripe tomatoes, fruit, vegetables.

All those things have the protein, the good carbohydrates and the good fats that we need. My mother has always cooked with olive oil or butter–but not in excessive amounts. Our tomatoes were plain or had a little olive oil and vinegar on them.

Rarely was anything deep fried or dripping with thick gravies. We ate modestly and we ate well. I never remember being hungry or unhealthy.

It wasn’t until adulthood and all the convenience of processed foods that my health started to change…and before you know it we spend years chasing back the health we already had and took for granted.

And that is my skinny–I’m getting back to basics.

What are your favorite foods–that may have been considered “bad” that turns out are not so bad?

Comment below or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions!

 

Our Surroundings Mirror Us

Our Surroundings Mirror Us

The world changes all the time and constantly, which is ironic, since most of us do not deal well with change.

Part of my journey–in writing this blog and learning more about nutrition and health and wanting to help others, and myself–is that I have gotten to communicate with a lot of people.

And while this week and beyond I am still going to pursue my goals and dreams and share them with you, I thought I would take a break from thinking about carbohydrates and proteins for one day to share something else.

I discovered something about people that I think I knew but had not truly thought about.  Our surroundings mirror us–sometimes in the worst way.

I’ve encountered several people that like me are trying to lose weight and live a more healthy life. People who are serious about nutrition and exercise. We are all on this journey to feel and look better and live a long healthy life.

I’ve also encountered people who are wanting the same things and looking for support but are unwilling–or terrified–to change.

I can completely relate to that.  It is scary to change, to let go of the past and move into the future and make changes. Especially when changes will affect those around us. And when we worry that those we love will not accept and love us back–as we make those changes.

I will share the perfect example–in my own life–and see if you can relate.  Before I began losing weight I felt bulky, swollen, and awkward. My house also had a lot of extra “stuff” in it. Papers and files and clothes and knick knacks.

The house was mirroring me!

My house was clean but full–if you’ve read some of my earlier posts you’ll know that one of my goals this year is to declutter and I’ve been making a great deal of progress!

More amazing still, the more I lightened my load at home, the lighter I became–quite literally.  And I am starting to see the connection for some.

So how do we shine up our mirrors so that what is reflected back is exactly what you want to see?

Decluttering the house–especially the kitchen–is a good place to start.  The more I learn about the good foods to eat–the more I fill my pantry with those and have replaced the processed foods we are no longer choosing to eat.

Another thing we should clean up are our thoughts and feelings–about ourselves. That mirror reflects not only us, but the us we are trying to hide.

Hurts and pain, sadness and anxieties are all part of the reflection–and sometimes we eat the wrong foods and don’t take care of ourselves to hide ourselves away–maybe to protect ourselves from our pasts or the fears of the future.

So for what it’s worth look at your surroundings and decide what you want to change.  Nothing stays the same–we can fight change or we can embrace it.

I think you’ll find–like I am learning about myself–that when you enjoy the changes in your life the mirror will reflect it.

Have a wonderful Monday! And comment below–let me know how letting go of things and the past can make your future strong!

 

Surprises

Surprises

There are many surprises that come into our lives. Some are good surprises and some are bad.

I don’t like surprises myself because I like to know the who, what, where, when and why of everything so I can PLAN it.

Yet from time to time, I come across a surprise that impacts me greatly.

I’m not talking about the someone popping out of a cake surprise–I’m talking about the kind of surprise you receive when you find out your life has been impacted by someone else or that you impacted someone’s life by a single act of kindness and it just grabs at your heart.

I had a surprise like that just this week.

There is a person that I don’t know very well but who I love and who I have a very high respect for–that passed away this week.

As a matter of fact, I have never met this person face to face, but I have known about her most of my life and carried her with me as I carry many people I care for.

It is a hard thing to explain.

I am, among other things, the family historian. I keep the family tree, many of the family stories, some of the family secrets and as many pictures of family members–past and present–that I can get my hands on.

This has been a self appointed role–not one that anyone said I had to take on. And I do this for my own pleasure and curiosity.

I don’t do this to judge family members’ lives or the choices they have made–after all, who am I to cast the first stone?

In researching a branch of my mother’s family 4 months ago, I found my mother’s sister. My mom is 75 years old and her sister, 77.

Through the twists in life and other circumstances they had lost touch with each other, both migrating to this wonderful country from their native land at different times under a different set of events.

They had not spoken to each other in over 60 years when they were both barely young teenagers in another country and another time.

They were able to reconnect, and I believe, both were very happy to have found each other again. Many phone calls, emails, cards, pictures and gifts have been exchanged over the course of these months.

For me, I found a whole new set of people to call family and my dear aunt had a daughter exactly my age. She and I communicate frequently thanks to the miracle of technology.

I feel very close to my cousin and care for her deeply–we have become not just family but friends.

Through them both, mother and daughter, I have been able to collect a few more family stories and information to fill in the blanks that I had–they have indulged me in my hobby.

Unfortunately, my aunt had cancer.  In this short time that I came to know this woman, I grew to admire her strength, her resolve and her courage.  She made sure to be strong when speaking to my mother over the phone because she did not want to worry her “little” sister.

My aunt and I shared the exchange of one long letter–one in which I told her all about my life and her reply that provided acceptance, encouragement and love.  I was in the middle of sending her another letter that I will no longer be able to send.

But a beautiful surprise came to me in a letter from her, transcribed by her daughter–my cousin, my friend–because she was too weak to write herself.

It was information about a family business back in the old country and how the family was involved in it.  She had told me she wanted me to know the story and she had promised to send it to me for my collection of family lore. The letter was written and put in the mail to me on the day she left this earth.

Sometimes, we do something simple, say something to someone, offer a smile and it changes another life.

A selfless act–a beautiful gift–and a surprise. She grabbed my heart as all good surprises are wont to do. It has impacted me greatly as I am sure her whole life impacted others–regardless of time and space.

May the Lord keep her in the palm of his hand, until we meet again.

Creating the Home You Want

Creating the Home You Want

I am learning that decluttering is an ongoing process.  Although I have decluttered my house A LOT…I still have a long way to go.

In the process of going through things and keeping what we really love, we are also creating spaces in which we are comfortable.  After all, our home is our haven. While we enjoy having friends and family over for visits our primary goal is not to have a showplace but a comfortable space where anyone that comes will feel at home.

Of course, getting everything to look and feel this way is a work in progress and a very large organizational goal.

Each room should be decluttered and should focus on the function of the room.  For example, we should not have dishes in the bedroom or a hair brush in the kitchen.  

Here are my tips to organizing your home:

Kitchen:  The kitchen should be light, airy and clean.  There should be a place for all the pots, pans, dishes, cups, utensils, and pantry items.  Clearing off the counters of unused appliances, jars and other miscellaneous items will help your kitchen seem cleaner and larger.   If all your kitchen accessories don’t have a specific home or a place, then you have too much stuff in your kitchen.

Your kitchen is the heart of the home.  This is where most people gather and where memories are made.  Give yourself the space to make them.

Your kitchen is also where we prepare food and eat our meals.  It should be a place that is clean, bright and comforting. When we eat in a relaxed atmosphere we digest better and we feel better!  

Living Areas:  Our family room is where we entertain ourselves and others.   It is not a formal space, but strives to be one of comfort. Comfortable chairs and tables within arms reach make it easy to sit back with a cold drink or a snack and give attention to the people there and not the things.   

The living room is where we live in our down time, where we can relax, laugh, watch T.V. and play games.  When you are organizing your living room or family room, think about the activities that take place there and make sure there is designated furniture or items that enhance that not that just fill up the space.

The Home Office:  Not all homes have a home office–some have an office space but either way this is the home command center.  And while this is where I “work” at home, it is possible to make it a comfortable and functional area. A desk is essential as is your computer and a printer/scanner if you need one.  

Organizing a home office is imperative because this is the space that can get out of control–at least for me–very fast!  This is where the paper lives or better said–where it lives for a short time until you decide what to do with it. (See my tips for organizing paper here.)

So for my purposes–and I highly recommend one–your office should also include a shredder.  It is one of my favorite machines in the house!

Our office is a reflection of what we do there–pay bills, write, be creative and read.  Other than your desk, you may want to have a small sofa or comfy chair, a bookshelf and a place to keep important papers–in an organized system of course!

Bathrooms:  I have found that one of the smallest spaces in our home can contain the most “stuff”–read junk!  Not junk that is just to be thrown away but that should be addressed.

When I decluttered the bathrooms, I found bottles and bottles and bottles of shampoo, creams, moisturizer, hair products, vitamins, etc.  What helped me tremendously was to stop buying more of these items and using all that I have to 1) stop adding to the madness and 2) create space.

To organize the bathroom–treat it like a bathroom in a nice hotel. Keep it spotless and free of bottles and bathroom items on the sink top.  Use the things you need to use and put them away immediately. Wipe everything down each day (takes me about 20 seconds) and it will always look ready for its functions.

I’ve left the best for last—

Bedrooms: Again, like in a nice hotel–think sleek, clean, and functional. Keep your area free of extra paper, clothes, and shoes.  Our bedrooms is where our body, mind and spirit come to relax and rest after a day of our hurried run around lives. It is our quiet place. Create a space that is organized and can fulfill a restful experience for yourself.  After all we are worth it.

Organizing your home is a huge task–but one that is satisfying and will ultimately reflect who you are, what you find important, and how you want to live your life.

Enjoy the journey and have fun with it!

Digitized Organization–One Bit at a Time

Digitized Organization–One Bit at a Time

In my last post I challenged myself (and you too, if you take the challenge) to organizing my whole life. Not for the sake of reorganizing everything but to evaluate my productively in the things that really matter to me.

When I posed the challenge and then started brainstorming I realized that I would not be able to get all my ideas, thoughts and yearnings in one post.

I will probably not be able to do this in less than 6 posts–but since being organized and productive is one of my passions I am willing to put in the work.

Picking the first thing to organize was not easy but became obvious–technology.  Everything we do today uses some form of technology–at least in my world–and so let’s begin.

Organizing your technology means taking (and keeping) control of it-not letting it control you.

My laptop, and by extension my phone, is my world–I use it for work, for home and for my hobbies.

It is how I communicate, shop, learn and am creative.  So my computer files and documents, not to mention all my digital pictures are on it–or more accurately it is where I access all these things.

In order to keep all these documents, I created a Google Drive account and transferred all my files there.  This is very easily done or any other cloud storage and sharing service will work for this purpose.

The main plus side of using a cloud storage service is that all your files are automatically backed up in the “cloud”.  If your device is compromised or is broken your files are safe.

However, for all your files to be safe you have to move them to the cloud.

These are the steps I take to do this are:

  1. Set aside a specific time and date to do this each week like an appointment.
  2. Include a set duration of time, for example 45 minutes.
  3. During that time–transfer all the files you want to keep from your devices to the cloud.
  4. Delete transferred documents from device (remember to empty your recycle bin)
  5. Once in the cloud, organize your documents into folders.
  6. When your allotted time runs out–stop.

Do this each week until all your electronic files are organized the way you want them. Over time you may be able to do complete this task in less time or need to complete this task less often.

Documents in your cloud can be kept or deleted as needed over time and you can reorganize them anytime, the important part is that your documents will not be lost.

As our world becomes more and more digitized, it is important to get organized and have a system for staying that way. This is the first way to organize your life and one that can have a big impact on your daily life.

Remember while you are organizing your files to take the time to enjoy the process–Have Fun with it!

 

The Changing Work Ethic in Cyberspace

The Changing Work Ethic in Cyberspace

As American life changes so does how we live that life.  The majority of our years are devoted to serving others and to work.

And work is changing very rapidly.  This is a very exciting time as we will be able to witness major changes in our working lives and the exchange of products and services for money, outside of the traditional brick and mortar businesses.

The internet has opened whole new worlds and ways of shopping, ordering groceries, even how we access books, magazines and newspapers.

It has also opened new opportunities for sole proprietors and small businesses to rise up out of people’s homes.

Some of the work ethics from yesterday are being left behind due to these changes. Being on time to work for example, means a whole new thing in the cyber workplace. You can literally sign in to your workplace and be “on time” and still be in your sweatpants.

So what does “having a good work ethic” mean in today’s changing world?  Some things, so far, have not changed–thankfully–and it proves to me that we live in a society that still works hard to provide a product or service that adds value to its customers.

Here is my take on the work ethic that will not get lost in cyberspace:

Integrity–the ideas of honesty and trust seems to be holding true even behind the computer screen.  For new businesses and business relationships to work consumers have to trust who they are doing business with.  When businesses promise the quality of the product, shipping times, and refund policies and follow through with them it creates customer loyalty and even better–good reviews for those businesses!

Responsibility and Quality–responsible businesses will not only make sure that the daily tasks are completed, but that they are completed in the best way possible–providing quality service for the customer but also for the employer, which many times is themselves.

For sole proprietors–this sense of responsibility is quite literally the “make it or break it” efforts taken to keep the business open and thriving. Providing quality work can mean the difference of having new and repeat customers come back to you or not.

Professionalism–being a professional and behaving as such means that you are working hard to serve others with integrity, responsibility and quality. It means that you are fair and courteous in your dealings. It is as simple as that.

It is not about wearing a power suit, impressing the right people in the organization or knowing the right buzzwords of the year that help impress those above you as well as your subordinates.

It’s completely about how much work you actually do for others, that you treat them with respect, that you set boundaries for your business but that you treat your customers and clients with fairness and with a spirit of service and dedication.

The new work ethic seems to be also making people who work in cyberspace happier because they are doing something that has meaning for them and that provides them with the satisfaction of doing a job well–without the politics or the fluff.

As you do business over the internet–whether it be shopping, receiving information for a fee, or receiving services–how has this changed your life?  What are the most important types of services for you as a customer to receive?

Enjoy this new world we live in–where goods and services are just a few clicks away–and have fun!

 

Serving Others

Serving Others

For all us humans, our lives are about serving others.  We don’t always like to think of it this way, but it is in fact what we are doing. Some people may react and think: “I was not put on this earth to serve others.” because we see it in terms of some menial task or job.

That’s not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is our purpose. Everyone’s purpose–in one way or another–is to serve others.

And it is exactly what we are supposed to do. It is how we serve that defines who we are, how we provide that service and what ultimately makes us happy.

Wait–What?

Yup, we are all on this earth to serve others to find our happiness–and for those of you who think I’ve lost it and there is no coming back from this one–let me explain.

Children serve their parents: as a source of love, joy and many times comic relief. After all–they did not ask to come here–we created them.

Parents–serve their children by providing love, security, safety, guidance and yes–loads of embarrassing moments!  (It is character building, kids–you’ll thank us one day!)

In school, students serve as being fountains to fill with knowledge in order to create an orderly society, a future workforce and the next generation of innovation.

Teachers in turn serve the community by educating those students and preparing them for life, the world outside and the many challenges that an education can help them overcome.

Politicians serve to keep our society civil, orderly and they are the referees of the “fair and square” in the world of law.

Doctors and nurses serve people who are sick or who want to prevent illness.

Husbands serve their wives by being a partner, a helpmate, a provider and by supporting the process of raising children and maintaining the home.

Wives also serve their husbands as partners, providers, the moral education of their children and the keepers of the home.

Churches serve the communities through religious teachings, being a moral compass to their members and providing spiritual guidance.

Our Military serve us by keeping us safe at home and abroad from bad actors that may want to physically harm us and our way of life.

Our Police Officers/Fire and EMS personnel serve us in keeping us safe and providing order and protection in our communities.

If you really think about it everyone and everything we do is in service for others. Yes–many of these examples are also called jobs and we get paid to serve. True. But most of these examples are underpaid, underappreciated and undervalued.

Yes–even the politicians. (Well maybe not the underpaid part)!

Regardless, this is the way it is supposed to be and how we keep an orderly world and smoothly running society.

When I sat down and really thought about this and its implications it became very clear to me why some people are happy and others are not so much.

If you don’t believe me, just look around and decide if many of society’s–and the world’s problems–would not be more easily corrected if everyone lived a life of service to someone else or to their community.

The ripple effects of this would be tremendous and it would help many people find a sense of their purpose.

When we have a purpose–a true desire to live the best life we can–it always includes some type of service. Follow your purpose–serve others and be happy!

How do you serve others in your life? How have others served you? What changes can you make in your life to bring you closer to your purpose?

How can I serve you?  Comment below and let me know what you would like me to write about!  And have fun today!