Posts Tagged 'fun'

The Very Best Diet, Part II

Last week I named the very best diet for weight loss as being one of low car use. That’s because our bodies were designed to get us from place to place with this cool gait called walking. My husband and I share just one car, and use public transit, our feet and our bikes for many of our trips. It’s more fun, too.

What else has been rising in the U.S. in the past decades besides car use, body weight and obesity rates? Television watching. We’re watching four hours a day per person on average. I haven’t met anyone who thinks that’s a good thing. Robert Putnam in his breakthrough book “Bowling Alone” showed that decreased exercise, voting, social activites, etc. are all so closely linked to increased television watching that we can fairly say heavy TV use crowds out the things that create healthy citizens.

That’s why I believe the second part of the very best diet for Americans is the diet for our televisions. The less time we spend sitting still watching it, the more we move around doing other things being relatively active, both physically and socially.

Thor and I watch literally no television. While we own a TV, it lives humbly downstairs in the basement, and gets used occasionally for a rented movie. If the weather is halfway decent the poor thing can be starved of any attention for weeks at a time. It’s not a flat-screen either — flat-screens use too much electricity and we believe in energy diets too . . . a topic for a future post.

Consider putting your television on a diet, too. I bet it helps you lose weight by opening up time for more activity, both physical and social.

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Our Portland CRAG Launches!

Last night five friends of mine, new and old, got together at Colleen and Thad’s house in NE Portland. We had wine, a delicious potluck dinner and animated-to-hilarious planning of our Carbon Action Reduction Group.

Honestly, it would have been fun and funny even without the wine. The four sled dogs milling around our legs added a lot to the happy hubbub. Bottom line: We’re going to do it! We’re responding to global warming by measuring our households’ carbon footprints and working together to control and reduce them. This is the basic spreadsheet each household will use.

Probably because I was the initial instigator, I get to be the group’s ‘accountant’ in the first year. I accepted this role only because Ewan O’Leary, who is starting his own carbon-offset business, is going to help me. (I love teamwork.) We are naturally open to new members: please post a comment at top of this article if you’re interested.

If you are sitting there thinking you are definitely not ready for this CRAG thing yourself, don’t feel alone. Here is what some of my friends said at the prospect. And I am absolutely still friends with them; I’m even going hiking with Micki tonight. I do believe, though, that my frequent-commenter Mick down in Berkeley is thinking about starting a CRAG, himself. Hope he’ll keep us posted. 🙂

Getting Dirty With Spring Planting

Today I am getting into the dirt and planting food. I’m not doing it by myself. Our housemate Scott and eight year old friend Nick are planting and getting nice and dirty with me. Big fun.

My husband Thor loves to cook (and not get dirty) so he gets excused from gardening. I don’t understand why he pulls away from the affectionate hugs I offer as I’m planting. He is so cute I keep trying anyway.

Our summer garden, 2007

We’ve got in pots on the patio: two little apple trees, a pear tree, lots of strawberry and blueberry plants, a gooseberry and a raspberry bush. It all looks like a bunch of sticks this early in the year, except for the strawberries. The Willamette Valley’s rich soil and reliable rain will help transform all these bare, spindly branches into delicious food, with the grace of God. I give a lot of credit to the Creator around the miracle of life.

Why do hours of hard physical work to grow at most a couple hundred dollars worth of food per season? Because it’s FUN! Moreover, it creates food security. City-dwellers forget that food doesn’t grow in grocery stores. Even a week-long collapse of oil or gas supplies could send us into shortages and chaos. Another way to increase our food security is to eat less, i.e. more moderately.
My favorite writer about food-growing is Barbara Kingsolver and her book and website Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Biodiesel, Carpooling and Happiness

In my ongoing quest for the diamond-cut life of happiness without excess consumption, I notice a couple of things.

Many non-mainstream choices I make, like carpooling, increase my happiness. (This gang of public-interest attorneys I’ve gotten mixed up with is turning out to be a hoot. So-o-o-o much more fun than driving alone.) Other choices my household makes, like heating our house with biodiesel, has a fairly neutral daily impact on our lives, aside from knowing we’ve reduced our emissions, which knowledge makes us happy when it happens to cross our minds.

My thought here is that it’s easy to live inside the box of mainstream choices without even considering whether the greener or lower-consumption choice could be a happier one. Most people in our country commute alone and emit lots of carbon as they heat their homes — without even expecting any satisfaction from either of those activities. In fact, it’s normal to complain about commuting and heating bills. I think we should raise our expectations for our own happiness.

Research on happiness states that the single biggest predictor of it is the number and quality of the relationships we have with others. Interesting that relationships are something we earn with our behaviors, like kindness, and are not something we can buy or consume. Going outside the box of mainstream commercialism is looking more and more like a well-kept secret. I think we should all be blowing the lid off it.