FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!

Your health is up to you!

for your own good

(Part one of a two part series on nutrition and exercise)

Life is what you make of it. If you’re fortunate enough to live in the USA, you get to enjoy enormous personal freedoms and rights to pursue your personal happiness. You can have anything you want in this country IF you’re willing to put in the time and work for it. This applies to both your personal wealth, and your person health. These are two sides of the same coin, and the wealthier you become, the better your ability to eat healthier nutritious foods. Your health IS your wealth, and your wealth is your health! You are the ONLY person in charge of YOU. You are responsible for your own life, and this also applies to diet and exercise. There is no shortage of food in this nation, but not everything you can eat is good for you. High quality foods, organic fruits and vegetables, vitamins and supplements can be pricey. Junk food such as soda and candy have nearly no nutritional value and is bad for your health. You should be asking yourself two questions:

1) If cheap ‘JUNK’ food is ‘BAD’ for me, shouldn’t I be investing my money in buying higher quality foodstuffs and nutritional supplements?

 2) If I only get ONE body, shouldn’t I be investing my money in keeping it as healthy as possible?  

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Helps build strong bodies 12 ways!    

Nutrients are substances that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life. There are seven major nutrient classes : Carbohydrates (carbs ,or glucose), Lipids (fats), Proteins, Dietary Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, and Water. Some of these classes can be further subdivided into a list of about 40 essential items, and then assigned specified amounts thereof for each item based upon an individual’s size, age, and gender.  You cannot entirely eliminate ANY of these seven classes and survive for long. Going without eating anything, AKA starvation will kill you in about a month. Likewise going just a week without water will do you in. Eliminating various vitamins and minerals will cause all sorts of health complications  which if left unchecked will shorten your lifespan.

Your body uses carbs and fats for energy. Protein is needed for building lean muscle. The entirety of our daily caloric intake comes from a combination of these essential three nutrients. The other four have virtually zero caloric impact but the body needs these substances to function properly. Your body will store fats as a ‘back-up’ fuel source, while burning carbs (glucose) first, and will store any unused carbs as fat. When glucose and fat stores are depleted, your body will turn to muscle to break it into individual amino acids for energy. Unlike carbohydrates and fat, your body does not store amino acids, which is why muscle breakdown is the only way to release amino acids for fuel. If you’re at the point where your body is breaking down your muscles for fuel, you hit the point where you are in starvation mode. You DO NOT want your muscles breaking down.  Your heart is a muscle.

If you’re uncertain what a carb, or carbohydrate is, the very simple answer is sugar aka glucose. An apple or a piece of broccoli is a carb. So is a candy bar. Obviously one is better than the other for your body, while the tempting JUNK food is sickeningly sweet. Processed, refined sugar is the worst possible carb to put into your body.     

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

About two thirds of the Earth is covered in water.  Coincidentally the human body is a similar composition, made up of about 60% water. We lose water from our bodies three ways by : urination, sweating, and breathing. Under extreme circumstances, it’s possible for a person to lose more than  a liter of water per hour when exerting themselves in high heat.  Under such conditions it is imperative to replenish that lost liquid and stay hydrated. Failure to do so can result in heat exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke and possible death.  

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Water has ZERO calories and our body needs it to maintain proper functions of our internal organs.  Water is needed to metabolize fats and flush toxins from our system. When we begin to lose water from our body without replenishing it during long periods of exertion and exposure to high temperatures, our body will use its innate intelligence to retain this vital nutrient because it believes we are in STARVATION mode and will do everything to retain water to prevent dehydration. You’ll show sighs of heat exhaustion. So you’ll urinate less and your urine will darken as toxins begin to build in your liver and kidneys.  At a certain point your body will shut down your ability to sweat, and then the your are in serious risk of heat stroke. Sweating is your body’s natural way of cooling.  As you experience heat exhaustion, there will be several signs.

  • Confusion.
  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration).
  • Dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

When you reach the point when your skin gets clammy and you stop sweating, you need to STOP what you are doing immediately and cool down and get hydrated FAST. Heatstroke KILLS.

Pure, clean, cool water is the best thing you can ever drink. Yes, our body can filter out the water from other things we drink like soda, but nothing is better for us than water. Water was good enough for Jesus and it should be good enough for you as well. Water is your body’s best friend, and you can’t make coffee without it! Check back next week for part two IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING  and as always, I wish you success and happiness!

 

TEMPTED?

You are stronger than you think!

tempted

In the USA, the 4th Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day.  The American holiday of Thanksgiving traces its roots all the way back to 1621, when colonists held a harvest feast with local natives. So the holiday officially originated in what was known as the ‘New World’ at the time. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared an official Thanksgiving day to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Because some years had a fifth Thursday in November, this date was later changed from the last Thursday to the 4th Thursday by Congress who passed a law on December 26, 1941 fixing the date after a public outcry when President Franklin D Roosevelt kept changing the date from year to year.

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The first official, annual Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated on 6 November 1879.  In 1957 Canadians established their Thanksgiving Day as the 2nd Monday of October, (which is Columbus Day in the US). Thanksgiving may pre-date both the US and Canada as countries, but it began here on the North American continent.  Over the decades other traditions such as the Thanksgiving Parade, football games, and certain foods have evolved with the holiday, and in some instances it has spread to other a few other countries. There are nine other nations besides the US that have a version of Thanksgiving which is associated with giving thanks for the bounty of the annual harvest.  Canada, Norfolk Island, Liberia, and Granada have similar versions of the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving associated with the USA.  Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, and Japan each have their own unique versions of a ‘thanksgiving day’.    

Financially, the average cost of feeding a family of ten, with leftovers, is under $50.00 according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual survey.  That of course is ASSUMING you have a sane amount of food, and make most of the food from scratch. Some families go way overboard with with holiday meals.  

The beginning of the holiday season marks an abundance of calorie-laden, rich fattening foods, coupled with less physical activity as people spend more time indoors to avoid the chill of winter, and lessening amounts of daylight. For people struggling with their health and finances, Thanksgiving dinner marks the first half of a double-whammy, as next month they get to do it ‘once more’ with a fattening, expensive Christmas dinner.

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Focus on what’s important.

My first permanent health decision as an adult occurred in college when I made up my mind once and for all to become a vegetarian. This was a lifestyle choice that my late mother could not quite wrap her mind around.  My mother DID NOT COOK.  I kid you not, the woman could burn water.  We ate our holiday meals at my aunt Arleen’s home. Thanksgiving dinner was easy, there were many choices that were ‘meat-free’ on the table. Christmas dinner was not. That first Christmas I refused to eat my aunt’s famous lasagna which she slaved for days to make. She made the sauce from scratch, she shredded the mozzarella by hand on a cheese-grater, she browned Italian sausage and ground beef, boiled noodles, mixed cheeses, and assembled pans of lasagna. Enough to feed everyone, except one resilient vegetarian, who ate cheese pizza while everyone feasted.  Fortunately my aunt understood. The following year, she made a small, special, personal cheese lasagna for her favorite nephew.

So, you have to ask yourself, what’s more important? The food on the table? Your personal health? Or, are the people seated around the table the real reason to celebrate? 

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Choose wisely.

Just  because there are NINE different desserts doesn’t mean you MUST eat each and every one of them.  Heavens to Betsy  if you should miss aunt Betsy’s special cracker pudding.  Or Grandma’s famous jasmine rice pudding with golden raisins and chopped pistachios. Or cousin Ethel’s pecan pie. Believe it or not, some of the more common desserts like pumpkin pie are available year round. The special family dishes that your family worked so hard making are the more important dishes.  The dishes that they made as a token of their love for their family and friends gathered.  Yes, there are signature recipes that are associated with the people we know and love, but the people are the important part of the gathering.  So ignore the more common foods when planning the meal, and highlight the dishes that are unique to your gathering.  If there are still too many choices available, your other option is smaller portions.  Maybe a table spoon of the cranberry relish, or a half-scoop of mashed potatoes.     The key is not to over-eat.

Water is your friend.

So you STILL have a plate of high-calorie fatty foods after making the agonizing choice of passing on the coconut custard pie with whip cream topping and nut meg.  Limit your drink choices to water. A glass of water before, during, and after a meal will fill you up while helping to metabolize fats and flush toxins from your system.  The sparkling juices, sodas (and in some cases alcohol) only add empty calories and will ruin your diet.

Eat S-L-O-W-L-Y

The food may all taste delicious, but it still takes about 20-30 minutes for your brain to register that you have eaten enough food.  By eating your meal at a more reasonable speed, you might discover that you weren’t   really starving to death after all, and you might actually get to participate in the lively dinner chatter around the table.  By giving yourself time to actually eat your food instead of shoveling it in your mouth, you may find that that second helping of whatever is not needed, because you are full.

Keep active

Yes, it’s winter and the days are shorter and colder, but there are still ways to stay active. If you are a runner like myself, you can still find winter 5K races, even on Thanksgiving Day in some cases. You just have to dress appropriately for the weather.  If you don’t like being out in the cold, there’s always the gym.  Many fitness chains have extended holiday hours, or  24hr locations to accommodate the heath conscious individual.  The key to success  in maintaining your healthy lifestyle is to MAINTAIN it.  If you fall off the health-wagon for ONE holiday meal, it’s not the end of the world. That ONE SLICE of pumpkin pie didn’t make you fat, giving up did.  So enjoy the healthy choices you made for your meal, ignore the items you passed on, and celebrate the day with your family and friends. As always I wish you success and happiness!  

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TURNING BACK TIME!

Let’s do the time warp again!

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The idea of turning back time, or speeding ahead into a future time, is quite often the plot of many science fiction stories. UNFORTUNATELY here in the most parts of the USA it’s a reality, and an outdated nuisance.  Twice a year we ‘change the clocks’. Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November  at 2:00 AM when we turn the clocks back one hour to Daylight Standard Time.  To add to the confusion, not all of the USA observes Daylight Saving Time. the states of Arizona and Hawaii ignore it completely, as do all of the US territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands. So in the Autumn, we ‘gain’ an hour when the clocks ‘FALL BACK’, and ‘lose’ an hour in the Spring when the clocks ‘SPRING FORWARD’.  Despite this little ‘FALL BACK, SPRING FORWARD’ mnemonic to help people remember to adjust their clocks  accordingly, many times they still get it wrong, either setting the clock the wrong way for some bizarre reason, or forgetting completely.  It used to also be done at a different time prior to 2007. (Back then, the time shift was the last Sundays in April and October.)

BLAME CANADA

Benjamin Franklin once theorized about the benefits of adjusting the clocks to save daylight in the Winter months when the days are ‘shortened’  in the Northern Hemisphere due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis.  In 1908 Canadians in Thunder Bay Ontario adopted this asinine  practice for the first time. A few years later it was also instituted by the Germans in 1916 to conserve coal during the first World War. It didn’t plague us here in the United States until 1966 when President Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act under the assumption that it would ‘conserve energy’ because if it’s light outside longer, you’ll use the lights in your homes less.

Spread read the confusion

I don’t know of any person who truly believes that changing the clocks is beneficial , but it is observed for better or worse by 70 countries around the globe, each adjusting their times on a slightly different schedule.  If you are one of those people who simply forgets about adjusting the clocks, it’s not so bad in the Fall when you gain that hour, but it’s a nightmare in the Spring when people who are already ‘pressed for time‘ rush out the door only to find out too late that they are an hour late. The poet Charles Bukowski  wrote a poem about this in 1972 titled DAYLIGHT SAVING, and it is a concrete poem shaped like a time card. The poem recounts an event in which the poet went to his day job only to discover the time cards were all pulled and he was late one hour, and had to explain why to his disbelieving supervisor. Fortunately today many of our electronic devices auto adjust themselves to the proper time.

The changing of the artificial clock doesn’t reset the biological clock. Our Circadian rhythm is the 24-hour internal clock that controls sleep-wake cycles as well as metabolism, cognition, and more. It uses clues such as light and darkness to help determine when it’s time to shift into sleep mode and when the body should wake up. When we artificially change the time, our bodies need an adjustment period.  If you’ve ever flown in a plane across several time zones, like from the East Coast of the USA to the West, you probably experienced this disruption by another common term,  jet lag. It can take as little as a day to recover, but some people feel the effects of jet lag for up to several days. Also since animals and very young children do not tell time by a clock, playing with the clocks means that you may get an earlier wake-up call from your pet dog who urgently needs to go outside and ‘never got the memo’.

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Why so S.A.D?

The end of Daylight Saving Time means less natural daylight during the day. When you couple the darkness with cold Winter’s chill, it can lead to a mental state of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D.  This is no laughing matter. People suffering from S.A.D. have a general feeling of less energy and moodiness.  Depression during the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas and even to a lesser extent New Year’s when you are surrounded by happy merry-makers and an abundance of alcohol results in higher accidental deaths from drunk driving, as well suicides from desperate people who can’t see past their current circumstances.  Life is a cycle. We have good times, and bad times, but things do get better.  In the end, everyone of us is going to die, but it’s important how we live. There is not a person on Earth that can say with absolute certainty that they will be alive tomorrow, so don’t wait for tomorrow. This is why you don’t put off important things, like spending time with friends and family and letting them know you care. This is why it is of the utmost importance to take care of our physical bodies with proper diet and exercise. This is why it is vital to straighten our minds and our souls with  knowledge and wisdom, especially the Gospel found in the Holy scripture contained in the Bible. We can do all things with Christ who strengthens us, and  we can deal with today much easier when we have hope for a better tomorrow. As always, I wish you success and happiness!

A FULL-TIME JOB!

Are you only working part-time?

a full time job

Imagine that you had an awesome full-time job which paid an enormous salary with great benefits. The full package is enough to meet all your daily needs and attain your long-term goals. If you had such a job, would you give it your all, or would you just show up when you felt like working? This is a no-brainer for most people, you would get up every day and go to work thankful for having such a great job. Even with such a job, we all know that one person who does as little as possible and shows up when they feel like working. Eventually they lose their job,  and we wonder why they didn’t care enough to do the required work and keep the  job.

When most people think about their full time job, they only consider their nine-to-five day job. In reality, everyone has more than one full-time job, but the one which we all share is our health. When we lose our health, getting it back can be difficult, or even impossible. Our health is our wealth!

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You CANNOT lose weight by exercising!

Our physical health revolves around two points, diet and exercise. Both are full-time jobs. You cannot lose weight by exercising. Exercising tones the body and builds muscle. Adding lean muscle increases your metabolism so that you can burn calories faster, but by building muscle you can actually gain weight by exercising. Consider professional body-builders who pack on pounds of muscle and spend hours a day exercising.  You would not consider a body-builder fat, though they may be considered to be  overweight compared to the physical norm. Being overweight as a result of being muscle-bound is much different than being overweight due to obesity, but both carry health concerns. Being fat is never a good thing.

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We exercise to maintain and improve our physical fitness.

Components of Physical  Fitness include:

  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Body Composition
  • Cardiovascular Endurance
  • Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Muscular Strength
  • Power
  • Reaction Time
  • Speed

 

Soda is a carb, and so is broccoli!

In order to lose weight you must first control your diet. The phrase ‘we are what we eat’ is a tired cliché but there is some wisdom there. If we eat junk food frequently, our health will suffer as a result. Your diet is composed of both quality of food, diversity of food, and most importantly quantity of food.  The Standard American Diet is about 2,200-2,500 calories per day, with 50% of calories from carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 35% fat.  All of our food is made of three components: Carbohydrates (carbs), fats, and protein. Food also may contain certain vitamins and trace minerals which our bodies need. We burn these calories for energy each day.  At rest and during normal activities, fats contribute 80–90% of our energy; carbohydrates provide 5–18% and protein 2–5%. During exercise there are four major endogenous sources of energy: muscle carbohydrate stores (glycogen), blood sugar, blood fatty acids, and intramuscular triacylglycerols. The extent to which these substrates contribute energy for exercise depends on the intensity and duration of exercise, the level of exercise training, the initial muscle glycogen levels, and supplementation with carbohydrates during exercise.  

So the key to losing weight is to eat better quality food, and eat less than our normal daily caloric intake for maintaining our weight. In other words, eat less calories than you use each day.

Water, water, everywhere!

Soda and fruit juice, as well as so-called sport drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade contain a lot of empty calories. When you are working with a daily allotment of 2,200 – 2,500 calories, drinking these add excesses calories which don’t fill you up, and then you still have to eat. Jesus Christ didn’t have soda or Gatorade and got along just fine drinking water. Water contains ZERO calories, metabolizes fat, and maintains good hydration to ensure the body works the way it should. It is important to drink water on a regular basis at regular intervals. A good rule of thumb is to aim to drink half your body weight in ounces daily. If you are exercising or exerting yourself in high heat, you may need to up this amount. You should drink a glass of water shortly after waking,  with each meal,  and before bed, as well as sips throughout the day as needed.   Water was good enough for Jesus, and it should be good enough for you as well!

Let’s THINK this through.

Our bodies have an innate intelligence and they know what needs to be done, and when to do it. We don’t have to tell our hearts to beat, our lungs to breathe, etc.  Our bodies do this naturally. That same  innate intelligence works against us when we disrupt our natural cycles of eating, drinking, and sleeping. If we starve ourselves to lose weight, the body slows down our metabolism to conserve fats. If we try to drink less, our body ‘thinks’ it needs to hold on to fluids, and we can stop sweating, which is a natural cooling system.  As amazing as the body is, it only knows what it knows, and when we change our daily cycles of eating, drinking, and even sleeping we alter our metabolism.  In order for our bodies to work properly, we need to maintain regular cycles. This is why crash diets don’t work, as well as short-term dieting. When we cease regularly dieting and exercising, we lose the benefits gained by doing so. We take care of our bodies by eating, drinking, exercising, and resting on a regular cycle each day. When we do this, we make ourselves stronger, and we last longer. Everyone should want to live a long and healthy life, but whether or not we accomplish this is entirely up to ourselves! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

WHO’S MINDING YOU!

Escaping the ‘nanny-state’!

whos minding you

This is the forth article in the ‘Who’s Minding’ series. For the first three parts read Who’s Minding the Bank?, Who’s Minding the Market?,  and  Who’s Minding the Food?

I’ve got no strings

To hold me down

To make me fret

Or make me frown

I had strings

But now I’m free

There are no strings on me–  song I’ve Got No Strings by Dickie Jones, 1940

Everyone has an agenda. Some are obvious, are some subtle, and some are hidden and secretive.  Except in the most rare of cases, the person pulling the strings wants what’s best for themselves above all else. Sometimes what’s good for them is also good for everyone else,  and sometimes it’s unashamedly mercenary.  Without question, the two thousand plus billionaires of the world wield great power over the average person.  They are the modern kings of today’s world, and they are playing a Game of Kings to stake out their own little section of the world to rule.  They are the tops of the pyramid, the kings of the hill.  Next in line are the millionaires and multi-millionaires. They too have great power over the lives of the average person.  Independent, hard working people come next. At the very bottom of the pyramid are the wretched dregs of society. People who have either giving up on trying to better themselves, and are dependent upon social welfare programs and the kindness of strangers to survive.

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If you are fortunate enough to live in the United States of America,  then you are blessed indeed. The USA is a land of limitless opportunities, and built upon the tenants of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Since the nation was founded 243 years ago, it has been the target of powerful people who want to subvert and destroy our great nation. For parts of the nineteenth and all of the twentieth centuries,  the Democratic National Committee has been trying to remake the USA and destroy the Christian country created by the Founding Fathers.  Democrat is indeed the new communist as the liberal left slinks further  and further towards radical socialist agendas and establishing a permanent power over the average citizen. In their new vision of America, we the people will be dependent on the government from cradle to grave.  They will slander and attempt to destroy anyone who dares to oppose them.

Our nation and its government is BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE.  There is nothing wrong with wealth. There is nothing wrong with success. We live in a capitalist society and our economy grows through consumerism.   If people are buying, selling, and trading, there are jobs being created.  What is wrong is when a government tries to enslave all its citizens and destroy the means of creating wealth while raising taxes and killing jobs. This is what Barack Hussein Obama II was in the process of doing, and what Hillary Rodham Clinton would have continued had she been elected.  Fortunately,  there was a very powerful patriot, billionaire Donald J. Trump who was willing to fight to save our nation from those who were willing to save it.  Trump’s love for our nation exceeds that of any president in our lifetime, even greater than Ronald Reagan. Fortunately, WE THE PEOPLE banded together in such force to elect this great man to the highest office. Donald J. Trump has been insulted, slandered, belittled, and bashed by all those who oppose him. The liberals are losing, and they know it!

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  • Billionaires control our world.
  • They control our banks.
  • They control our economy and industry.
  • They control our food.
  • They control our media.
  • They control our communications and social networks.

They control so many aspects of our lives, but they can only control us if we allow them.  All of the media, communications, and social networks THEY created can also benefit US if we take the time to navigate the sea of lies and misinformation that powerful LEFTIST billionaires are imposing upon us.  Every wealth group from the ultra-poor to the mega-rich can be divided into two main camps, the left (liberal) and the right (conservative). There are also two other smaller subgroups that are far dangerous to our nation. The centralist, who can flip-flop on issues at the drop of a hat, and the anarchist who wants no government of any kind and doesn’t care about politics at all.  Both of these groups are products of the post-modern school of thought which claims there is no right or wrong.

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In God We Trust!

There was a reason that Madalyn Murray O’Hair fought hard to ban studying the Bible in public schools in 1963. She was a militant feminist, communist, and atheist who founded the group American Atheists.  She  claimed that religion was “a crutch” and an “irrational reliance on superstitions and supernatural nonsense”.  In reality this was all part of a greater plan. The USA was founded as a Christian nation, and by removing the study of the Bible from public schools, O’Hair was sowing the seeds for the destruction of the US.  Without God, there is no USA. 

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. – Psalm 33:12

There is a difference between religion and spirituality, just as there is a difference between morals and ethics. Unfortunately few take the time to learn the distinction.  Spirituality is a belief in God, and the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. Religion is a system of rules and doctrines.  This is why Jesus said in James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. ”   

There is no such thing as a moral atheist because morals are based on Biblical absolutes whereas situational ethics are fluid and can change with the individual or situation. Good can be bad and bad can be good  in the mind of post modernists. God is good ALWAYS and when you eliminate the study of the Bible, you erode the moral backbone of the nation.  If something is legal, it is not unethical. If it were unethical, it would be illegal. Immoral is always immoral, whether it is legal or not. So the word of God is not a ‘controlling’ force, but a guiding factor which is for our benefit.  Warning us about destructive behaviors is not HATE, it is truly being done  for our benefit so that we may life a healthy, happy, and productive life.  The only time I’ve ever seen happy atheists are when they were insulting Christians.

The bottom line is that there are many forces in this world that are trying to control us, even up to and including the point of a gun.  The power we give these earthly forces over us is an illusion we allow them, one that we can shatter at any time. WE THE PEOPLE have the real power, and if God is with us, who can stand against us? As always, I wish you success and happiness!  

Who’s Minding the Food?

Junkfood junkies!

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“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

The Standard American Diet is about 2,200 calories per day, with 50% of calories from carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 35% fat. It is very different from those of our forefathers.  

Since the start of the industrial revolution, the everyday lifestyle of mankind has changed in many ways.  When the United States was founded in 1776, the vast majority of its citizens lived in an agrarian society. We farmed and grew our own food, or worked for those that did. Once industry took hold, and large cities began to spring up, we shifted to a largely metropolitan society. In 1870, almost 50 percent of the U.S. population was employed in agriculture, today it is less than 2%. Farming is neither glamorous, nor easy. 

This shift has resulted in a two-fold negative lifestyle impact on the people in our nation:

One – We must buy processed and preserved food from supermarkets.

Two– We no longer endure the physical labor needed to burn off the calories in the food we eat.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”– words of Jesus Christ from  Matthew 7:9-11 NIV

We in the USA may take it for granted because our nation has never known long-term widespread famine, or food shortages, but food is perhaps the greatest way to control a country. Laws ,economics, and education  may restrict your life in a myriad of ways, but cut off your food and water long enough and you’ll die. Poison the food supply, and you slowly sicken, weaken and given enough time, kill the people who eat it.  All food is made of up to three components: Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates (carbs for short).  Carbohydrates are just the scientific word for sugar, and comes in two forms, complex and simple. Simple carbohydrates are made up of just one or two sugar molecules. As such, it doesn’t take much for your body to break them down and absorb them (as glucose) into the bloodstream. For this reason, simple carbohydrates raise blood sugar much faster and usually higher than complex carbohydrates.

According to a study printed in The BMJ (formally called The British Medical Journal) in an average American diet,  about 57.9% of the daily caloric intake of about 2200 kcals is coming from ultra-processed foods, 9.4% from processed foods, 2.9% from processed culinary ingredients. Only a mere  29.6% (less than a third) of our food intake is from unprocessed or minimally processed foods.

There are more than 38,000 processed food products on grocery shelves in the US. This includes the so-called ultra -processed foods which accounts for 90% of the added sugar in the Standard American Diet .  Additionally the majority of these items contain chemical additives, dyes, and preservatives that are unhealthy to say the least. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) often takes the place of refined sugar, but is far worse. The human body can’t process this artificial sugar made by converting starch into fructose. HFCS has been added to many products to ‘make them taste better’. Whenever you see ‘new improved’ on a box, automatically think added sugars and fat. Any calories you consume that you don’t burn off daily are stored in your body as fat.

 The Standard American Diet is SAD indeed.

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Feed The World?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, it should come as no surprise to you that billionaires (and to a lesser extent multi-millionaires) control the world. They are the modern day equivalents of kings, and world domination is a game of kings. As such, these contemporary would-be rulers reign over almost every aspect of our lives. They may not officially own the country, but they do control either the food supply, or the distribution chains for it. (I’m not even going to get into restaurant chains. Americans may be eating-out more than ever, but restaurants are still just a luxury, not a necessity.)

Of the 38,000 processed foods on the shelves in food stores, more often than not we go for a trusted name-brand. All of the major supermarket chains have an in-house brand that’s comparable or sometimes superior to the national brand. They may even have similar packaging and be placed side-by-side on the shelf.  Many of these knock-offs or, no-frills alternatives are manufactured by the same exact factories as the recognized brand.  All of the official brands in the world are owned by just ten corporations as shown in this infographic from Oxfam.   

oxfam

Additionally most supermarkets stock all major brands. There are few exceptions such as the Trader Joe chain which stocks nearly 95% of their store brand instead. Trader Joe is an American company which specializes in organic health foods.  Their groceries are top-notch, and cost a few pennies more. You get what you pay for. The top-selling supermarket company in the world is Kroger.

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Top 10 Supermarket Companies in 2018

(Sales in billions)

  • The Kroger Co., $105.10
  • Albertsons, $57.39
  • Royal Ahold Delhaize USA, $43.20
  • Publix Super Markets, $34.56
  • Aldi, $25.86
  • H-E-B Grocery, $21.94
  • Neighborhood Market/Marketside (Walmart), $17.04
  • Wakefen/ShopRite, $16.30
  • Whole Foods Market (Amazon), $15.40
  • Southeastern Grocers, $10.63

We are what we eat!

There are countless diet cooks, cook books, and health books in print and on line, yet two out of three Americans are overweight.  This is senseless!  Food is necessary for life, but not everything we are able to eat is good for us. Sometimes it’s a matter of the ingredients, other times it is portion size. The times of day and the frequency of which we eat can also play a part. Some people eat to live while others live to eat. Of all the addictions in the world, food addiction is the worst because you need to eat to live. Junkfood may taste wonderful, but all things in moderation. The quality of life of a morbidly obese person is far diminished from that of a person leading a healthy, active lifestyle. The bottom line is that health is far more important than wealth if you want to live a successful and happy life.   No one can force you the eat healthier, that decision rest sole with you. As always I wish you success and happiness!

Any Business Lately?

Why places close.

Any Business Lately

It happens to all of us. You travel to your favorite place of business and arrive to see the place shuttered. Another shop closed. How did this happen? Sometimes we can see it coming, but other times it comes as a complete shock, tragic and disheartening.  This year alone, two of my favorite products stopped being made. My favorite hot pepper jam, because the company apparently folded. The website says online items are all out of stock, the phone call I made went unanswered to voicemail, and the owner was absent at a local food festival. Just this week, I went online to order a few cases of this awesome specialty iced tea, not sold in stores. I always order six to twelve cases at a time, extra of  the diet blueberry flavor. I was devastated to learn that Two If By Tea  had been discontinued due to rising production costs.

As upsetting as it may be for us, often it is many times worse on the owner of the business because although we were loyal patrons, the business was their brainchild. What do you do when your dream dies?

The reasons why places shut down are as varied as the businesses themselves, but there are often several main reasons business close.

Declining customer base.

The first espresso bar to open in Lancaster PA was The Monk’s Tunic. It made the local newspaper. (That local newspaper has since folded also.) When you are the first business you often inspire imitators.  Competition for customers is often fierce when several shops of the same type open in close proximity. Customers are the life-blood of a business, and losing too many customers will kill a business. Although it is speculation on my part, I blame the press release, because within the first year of business, at least a half dozen similar cafes opened all within two blocks of each other.  That same newspaper article also mentioned a national bookstore chain that was opening at the mall, BORDERS BOOKS which would have a sit down espresso bar.

Why do I blame the newspaper? Think of the California Gold Rush of 1848 which brought over 300,000 prospectors to California when newspapers announced gold had been found at Sutter’s Mill.  Here was the local newspaper proclaiming the discovery of ‘Black Gold’ in the city.

I did manage to visit all of the cafes which opened during the ‘Great Espresso Rush’ to sample their drinks. I’m a coffee snob, so it takes more than just what’s in the cup to leave an impression on me. The ones that offered poetry readings and live music often brought me back rather than the coffee, all of which tasted pretty much the same. They must have all been using the same local roaster. The Monk’s Tunic put up a valiant fight, outlasting all of the newcomers except BORDERS, which in turn folded a decade later. Each of these shops were unique in their own ways, but I really miss both The Monk’s Tunic and BORDERS the most.

monk

Location, Location, Location.

Where you sell your goods is often as important as what you sell. Unless you sell a highly coveted item and have a rabid fan base clamoring for it, customers will not usually go out of their way to visit your establishment. A highly visible location with vibrant signage and easy access and exit are key. If your customers can’t see you easily, or get to your shop, they won’t stop and just pass on by. And don’t forget about parking, no one wants to fight for a space, or pay to park just to go to your store.

Accessibility.

Most new construction in the USA conforms to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The ADA sets standards for construction of accessible public facilities.  However, if you buy an older property built prior to the establishment of the ADA to house your business, you may need to make modifications. This can include ADA bathrooms for customers, a designated check-out counter space set lower, designated seating and parking for disabled people, ramps, and even wider doors in some cases to accommodate wheelchairs or motorized carts.  Depending upon the modifications, this can be quite costly.

Staff.

When I was a young boy, I used to walk two extra blocks to a small grocery store to buy Pepsi for my aunt, because it was a nickel cheaper per bottle. The store was run by an old man. Two weeks in a row I went in and he was out of Pepsi, and I had to go back to the bigger grocery.  So I stopped going to his store for a few weeks. Sometime later, I went back to his shop, and there was one six-pack of Pepsi so I brought it. As I was walking out, I heard the old man grumble angrily to himself how ‘the boy doesn’t come in for weeks, then buys his last six-pack’. I NEVER went back to that store again.

You and your employees are the face of your business. A customer should always feel like you appreciate their business, not like you are doing them a favor by being open. Staff should be friendly, courteous, clean, identifiable, competent, and well versed in your product. Your employees may be well extremely versed, but NO ONE should know more about your business, or be more skilled at it than you. You should be easily reachable by both staff and customers to solve problems that your employees may encounter.  Yes, there are SOME high-maintenance customers who think the world revolves around them, but they are the exception, not the rule. I try very hard to be nice to ALL my customers, including the ‘difficult’ customers. IF you have a ‘difficult’ customer, it may be necessary for you or a trusted high-level employee to personally  deal with them. By isolating this E.G.R. (Extra Grace Required) customer, you are protecting your staff from them, and vice-versa.

Word of Mouth.

Do your customers rave about you and your shop? Do they leave positive reviews on social media? Do they even know you exist at all?

Thirty years ago, most people looked up businesses in the Yellow Pages phone book. They saw advertising on TV, in magazines, newspapers, and on bill boards. Reviews were often by word of mouth. Today however, social media is the main go-to.  It is very important to have an online presence. Although I am still in the process of trying to establish That Coffee Place, I do have a Twitter and a Facebook page already established. Both have been dormant for years waiting for my brick-and-mortar location to open someday.  When it does, I’ll probably expand my online presence to Yelp! and Trip Adviser, as well as Google. When that does happen, positive reviews will be very important. One bad experience at your place of business can be all it takes for a disgruntled customer to leave a negative review online which can harm potential sales.

Incompetence and mismanagement.

The saddest reason a business can fail is because the owner failed to do their homework. There is much more to opening a shop than signing a lease and hanging an OPEN sign. As the owner of your shop, you need to know everything there is to know about your business and the location BEFORE you even open the door. I know of a struggling pizza place that is barely keeping its lights on because they opened in the same ‘Turn-Key’ location as FIVE other pizza places before them, all of which folded. In the same little strip mall, there is an empty restaurant which was a ‘Turn-Key’ restaurant that in the last seven years had 3 different Spanish restaurants, 2 African restaurants, and a Jamaican restaurant.  Just because it’s a ‘Turn-Key’ location selling all the necessary equipment and furniture included with the lease does NOT mean it’s a great place for a restaurant.  There often are very good reason these shops closed.

The neighborhood changed.

When you’re surrounded by a large population of very poor people on public assistance, these people do not dine at restaurants often, if ever. When a neighborhood goes into decline, litter, graffiti and crime increase. This alarming trend often discourages patrons from more affluent areas, who tend to avoid such slums and favor more inviting places.

Parking.

Not having a well-lit attached parking lot with adequate spaces will discourage patrons.

Tastes changed.

What you’re selling may no longer be desired.

Staffing issues.

You can’t pay people enough to stay, or find good help.

Money Issues.

You ran out of working capital and are robbing Peter to pay Paul. No Ponzi scheme on Earth will keep your Money Pit open long term.

Health Issues and Retirement.

No avoiding it, we will not be young and healthy forever. Everyone one of us will grow older, feebler, and eventually die.  When this happens, we are often forced to downsize, and this will also include either shutting down, passing on, or outright selling our businesses.

The Pancake Farm in Ephrata PA will be shutting its doors in eight weeks on December 1st, 2018. The owners are retiring. The business has been these since 1960, and owned by them since 1982

The owner of The West Reading Diner sold the business to his son, who re-branded it as The American Diner.

american

After decades of business, my guitar teacher Ken Rohrbach shut down Ken’s Music Studio on 10th St several years ago,  and retired. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I may be a coffee expert, but I’m no guitar player. I could probably earn a fortune standing on a corner asking passers-by for tips for me NOT to play my guitar. Just goes to show, pobody’s nerfect. As always, I wish success and happiness!