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So it is February 1st, now what do I do to get on the right foot regarding my New Year Resolutions?

Top 10 Strategies for Making Your New Year's Resolution Stick

Hello!

Below I have pasted an article by Thorin Klosowski, titled,”A Three-Step Approach to Ensuring Resolution Success.” The idea for this post is to give you tips on how to convert your New Year Resolutions from an idea to a habit. I would say the main idea is to Focus, Plan, Track, and Reflect.

The article is pasted below.

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Resolutions are a yearly tradition; unfortunately, so is failing to keep them. In fact, 81 percent of resolution’s fail within two years. In this post, we’re going to walk through the basics of how to make a resolution that sticks, then apply those ideas, one by one, to five of the most common types of resolutions.

The top New Year’s resolutions rarely change year to year. The most popular typically revolve around losing weight, managing stress, getting out of debt, quitting smoking, and learning a new skill. We’ll tackle each of those individually, but before we start, let’s take a look at the basic you can use to form, schedule, and track your personal resolution.

Image remixed from original by abdulsatarid/Shutterstock.

Part 1: Focus, Plan, and Track Your

Resolution to Make it Stick

Three main factors stop you from keeping your resolution: unclear goals, poor self-control, and failure to gauge your progress. Each of these can be managed independently by following a three-step process.

Step 1: Form Your Resolution in a Way You Can Keep It

Focus is important no matter what type of resolution you have in mind. Make your resolution as specific as you can. For instance, “getting healthy” is a great idea, but it also means a lot of different things. Instead, figure out what you need to do to get healthy. This might mean losing weight, working out, or changing your diet. If you’re struggling to focus your resolution, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why do I want to do this?
  • What do I do everyday that needs to be altered?
  • Will this make me happier?
  • Can I start small?
  • What steps can I take to build this resolution throughout the year?

The goal is to come up with a concrete idea in one or two sentences. For health, look at what you can change. If taking a 30-minute walk three times a week will suffice, make your resolution “Take a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood ever Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”

Step 2: Schedule Your Goals and Plan for the Year

Once you have a concrete resolution, you can plan the ways you’re going to achieve it. For the aforementioned walking example, it’s as simple as picking the three days and times you’re going to walk and entering those in a calendar.

The idea is that you integrate this schedule in with your regular calendar so you can make sure you have time to work on your resolution. You want your resolution to challenge you, but not be too time-consuming to accomplish. Creating a schedule helps you zero in on whether or not your resolution is feasible. You should consider this a self-imposed inflexible time and you have to stick with it no matter what. Consider your resolution’s schedule the same as your work schedule and integrate the two into one calendar.

If you’re wary about making your goals, schedule in half-year assessment so you can review and retool the idea if needed.

Step 3: Track Your Accomplishments and Failures Throughout the Year

A lack of self-control is one of the major causes for failing to keep your resolution, but self-tracking is a great tool for keeping them. When you’re tracking your resolution, you can also keep an eye on your failures, so even if you end up bailing out of your resolution, you will still have the data to point you in the right direction. It’s also a great means to judge your progress and according to Psychology Today you should reward yourself for doing well with short-term reinforcement. For instance, if you met your weight goal for the month, treat yourself to a nice dinner.

Thanks to technology, tracking everything you do with nearly any type of resolution is easy. You can use the calendar and schedule you already created to track your goals, or you can seek out specialized apps and webapps to help you along the way. You can track nearly any type of data with webapps like Daytum or Quantter for general goals, or you can also seek out more specialized tracking tools for your specific resolution.

By the end of this process, you should have a full-fledged resolution and plan you can convey to anyone. For example:

My goal is to learn programming by reading and doing the examples in one chapter a week of The Best Programming Guide Ever and I’m tracking my progress on my calendar. By the end, I hope to release a game made in HTML5 on my website.

Part 2: Apply Successful Resolution

Strategies to the Big Five

General advice is one thing, but how does it actually apply to your specific resolution? Below, I’ve applied these ideas to the five most common types of resolutions—diet and exercise, stress management, personal finance, quitting smoking, and education—to illustrate how to make your all-too-common resolution stick.

Eat Healthy, Get Fit, and Lose Weight

A Three-Step Approach to Ensuring Resolution SuccessExpand

Around 33 percent of Americans are obese, and another 34 percent are overweight. With statistics like that, it’s not too surprising the most popular resolutions revolve around losing weight and eating healthy.

Step 1 – Form your resolution: Decide what you can and need to do in order to meet your goal, and boil it down from there. A few good, concrete examples would include:

  • Work vegetables into my diet four times a week.
  • Go on a one-mile jog every Wednesday and Sunday.
  • Lose 20 pounds by December 1 by cutting trans fats and walking a half hour a day.

Step 2 – Schedule: A good place to start scheduling a diet is the USDA’s SuperTracker site where you can input your diet and get an idea where you’re going wrong. Now that you know what you need, it’s time to plan. You probably don’t want to make a grocery list for an entire year, so start with one for the month. Instead of filling in foods you want to eat, start with the foods that can help you meet your resolution. If it’s vegetables, write down some vegetables on each day of your calendar, and then structure the meals around the vegetables.

As for getting yourself in shape, you can be overweight or thin as a flagpole and make this resolution, so scheduling yourself out is going to depend on what your goals for it are. Regardless of your current circumference, a good place to start is by taking a look at our Lifehacker Workout to get an idea of what you can do for a simple, well-rounded workout. We also provide a schedule for your workout to make things easier and you can tweak that as you see fit as the year progresses. If our workout schedule isn’t your thing. If you’d prefer to make your own plan, our gymless workout will get you fit without spending a dime.

Losing weight may very well be one of the most difficult resolutions on the list and scheduling plays an important role in your success. First, you need to set a realistic weight loss goal. A realistic goal should be as small as losing one or two pounds a week. Medically speaking, it’s best to seek to lose five to 10 percent of your starting weight on your first attempt. To calculate that, multiply your current weight by 0.1 or 0.05. This will give you the weight you can realistically lose. Next, head over to a weight loss calculator and enter in your information. You can chose a target date for the weight loss as well as enter you current activities and you’ll get a number of different options for a date to reach your goal by. You’ll also get a target calorie count, which you can integrate in the aforementioned SuperTracker so you can modify your diet accordingly. Enter your weight loss goals, broken down by the month on you calendar, combine it with a new diet and maybe bits and pieces of a workout throughout the week and you now have a full schedule for keeping yourself in shape.

Step 3 – Track: Eating healthy, exercising, and losing weight are all easy to track. You can keep an eye on your fitness, weight, and diet on you computer or smartphone. For iOS, we like a few different tools. Notably, Lose It is a great calorie tracker, and RunKeeper is one of our favorite fitness trackers. For Android, we have some favorites as well, including the FastSecret Calorie Counter and CardioTrainer for tracking. For web and mobile purposes, Fitocracy and Fleetly are both excellent tools to tracking your workout. All of these tools combined allow you to track your workouts, your current weight, and what you’re eating on a weekly basis. They’ll show you when you’re losing weight and how much so you can see if certain plans or diets are working better than others.

Photo by Konstantin Zamkov.

Manage Stress

A Three-Step Approach to Ensuring Resolution SuccessExpand

Somewhere around 54 percent of Americans are concerned about their stress level and often equate decreasing stress to happiness. What’s more, stress has a direct relation to nearly everything else on this list, including smoking, alcohol consumption, money issues, and health.

Step 1 – Form your resolution: Identify your stress and come up with a plan. These might include ideas like:

  • Take one personal day every two months to watch movies all day long.
  • Do yoga every Monday and Wednesday for one hour starting at 6 pm.
  • Set aside two hours every Sunday for researching and making important decisions.

Step 2 – Schedule: Unfortunately, stress management is a hard beast to schedule around, but you can fill you calendar with days dedicated to curbing stress. As we outlined in a previous post, one way to deal with stress is to pick up a hobby. We’ll get to outlining ways for you to learn something new in a second, but hobbies can also include things like watching movies or playing video games. To this end, you can populate your calendar with scheduled “play days,” where you relax. If you have vacation time, dedicate a day every couple months to a personal day. This is also a good time to plan out a yearly vacation. Even if you can’t afford a vacation at the moment, pick a date, put it on your calendar and work out the details later. Another possible method is to schedule in your worry time each week on your calendar so you can dedicate time to deal with your stress or schedule out renewal times for daily debriefings.

Step 3 – Track: No magical recipe for stress management exists, but you can track your progress of dealing with stress throughout the year. You can use the same calendar you already made as a tracking tool. First off, check off the days you scheduled off to make sure you’re taking those mini-vacation days. Second, make a short note on the calendar when you experience stressful days and why they happen. You might start noticing a trend. For instance, maybe on Monday’s you always work late and eat lunch at your desk. If this is happening every week, you can reclaim this time for yourself or plan around it to make it more manageable.

Photo by Robert Banh.

Manage Debt and Save Money

A Three-Step Approach to Ensuring Resolution SuccessExpand

The average American’s credit card debt is around $10,000 and the average overall debt is around $117,000. The idea that people might want to start cutting their debt down makes a lot of sense.

Step 1 – Form your resolution: Getting out of debt and saving money happen to be the two easiest resolutions to lay out in a concrete way. For instance:

  • Pay 20 percent more than my minimum payment on my credit card debt every month by cutting out Starbucks.
  • Take my lunch to work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and transfer the $120 saved each month to a savings account.
  • Pay my credit card bill in full by August by adjusting my payments to $150 a month by working an extra day every other week.

Step 2 – Schedule: Managing debt and saving money are easy to schedule in advance. With your goals in hand, look at what you need to do each month and write it out. If you’re paying off a debt, figure out how much you want to pay and adjust the rest of your budget accordingly. If you’re saving money, do the same thing and set up an automatic withdrawal from you checking account. If you need a little help, you can check out our guide to teaching friends to budget to pull a few tips for yourself. In order to manage your debt or save money, you need to recalibrate your budget and then work you goals and payments into your calendar.

Step 3 – Track: We’ve seen a lot of options for budgeting, but on iOS, we like Jumsoft Money. On Android and desktops, we like Mint. If you decide to go with Mint, we’ve made a simple guide to creating and sticking to your budget that should make your resolutions a little easier to keep. Regardless of which ones you choose, the purpose is to track your spending and ensure you’re meeting your target savings and debt reduction goals.

Quit Smoking and Drink Less Alcohol

A Three-Step Approach to Ensuring Resolution SuccessExpand

Over 50 percent of Americans are considered regular drinkers and an estimated 20 percent of Americans smoke, so we’ll do our best to outline good practices for keeping your resolution for both.

Step 1 – Form your resolution: Set your quit date for smoking on a specific day. For drinking, consider curbing your intake by regulating days. Your resolution might be as simple as:

  • Quit smoking February 3.
  • Relegate drinking to Friday and Saturday evening, after 8 pm.

Step 2 – Schedule: Theories exist that long term treatment might be the best way to quit smoking. In this case, it’s an eight week program followed by an additional 48 weeks of counseling when needed. A good place to find this support is SmokeFree, which will provide you with a few tricks to quitting smoking as well as call center backup and discussion forums. One of these is “smoke free Monday’s,” where you dedicate one day a week to not smoking. Put that on your calendar and then start adding more days as the year goes on, with a big star next to your final quit day. To curb your alcohol consumption, consider picking one or two days a week where you can drink, then cut it every other day. Schedule these out on your calendar in a way you’re comfortable with.

Step 3 – Track: Two popular ways to quit smoking are by pacing and motivating. For pacing, iQuit for iOS is a free tool that uses a scheduled reduction method to cut back on your smoking. It shows you exactly how much you smoke and tells you when you can again. For Android, Smoker Reducer does the same thing. If you’re looking to cater your own plan and get some motivation, LiveStrong’s MyQuit Coach for iOS is a great place to start. You can set reduction methods, track your progress and get counseling when needed. For Android, you can track all the same numbers with QuitNow!. Both of these will show off the health benefits and also work in the money you’ve saved over time.

For alcohol, you can use the NHS Drinks Tracker for iOS or AlcoDroid for Android to track your drinking over the weeks and see an estimated blood alcohol content for each day. It might also be a good idea to utilize one of the budgeting apps listed above so you can get an overview of how much money you’re saving by not hitting up the bar or liquor store every day.

Learn a New Skill

A Three-Step Approach to Ensuring Resolution SuccessExpand

Learning a new skill, trade, or hobby is enjoyable on a lot of levels. Not only can it help increase your marketability as a worker, it also means you can tackle DIY projects on your own throughout the year, which will inevitably save you money.

Step 1 – Form your resolution: You need to start by deciding what skill you want to learn, but a good way to form your plan is to include your final goal. For instance:

  • Learn Kung Fu by taking a class once a week so by December I can audition as an extra in a Jackie Chan movie.

Step 2 – Schedule: Learning something new is an easy idea in theory, but it’s often difficult to find a good starting point. If you’re learning a new skill, finding a good book is a great place to start and makes it easy to plan your progress. You can treat this like a syllabus in a college class. When you’re scheduling out your year, tackle one chapter of the book every one or two weeks. If you’re learning a skill like programming or Photoshop, you can dedicate one day a week to reading and another to practicing. You can also add in your own goals throughout the year. For instance, if you’re learning Photoshop, one early goal might be, “crop and remove redeye from all the family photos by June 2,” while a later goal might be, “use the picture of Billy on Santa’s lap to create a photo of him on a dragon with a sword in his hand.” You can also use our Lifehacker Night School guides if you’re interested in topics like building computers, making a website, or learning to code.

Step 3 – Track: Tracking learning a new skill or hobby is easy enough that it doesn’t require any additional apps. Instead, you can refer back to your schedule when you need to and make sure you’re following it. If you get behind, take on an additional chapter one week, or shift everything back. If you’re learning a construction or artistic skill, consider sharing your final project with the rest of the world. Once you’ve finished your first DIY project, share it on a site like Instructables or WonderHowTo so we can all see how you did it. If you’ve dedicated the year to learning a kind of art, Deviant Art is great for getting feedback on art, and Soundcloud is a great place to showcase your songs for free. If you plan on sharing some of your projects, you’ll be documenting and tracking the process by default. It makes it easy to see exactly how much you’ve progressed and learned over the year.


The most important thing to remember with New Year’s resolutions, or any life altering decisions you make, is that they’re not easy and you will occasionally fail. Hopefully, if you’ve planned it out well and you picked a realistic goal, your failure rate will be less. Even if you don’t make your target each month, stick with your plans, outlines, and track everything you’re accomplishing. You’ll likely feel as good as if you had met those goals.

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Peace!

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Tips to help you achieve your New Year Resolutions

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Yes, the Holidays, means  family, the flu season and New years resolution. This post will focus on New Year’s Resolution and how you can make 2014 the year that you etch them in stone forever. fulfill

You will notice that I highlighted year and this is because I feel that a lot of people fail to see their commitments as a year long obstacles. Because the fact is change is not easy. I believe that few people can consciously change their habits, ideals, outlook, et cetre. This was made evident to me last year. Of course I knew change was hard, even ‘good’ change but it definitely was set in stone for me last year. In fact last year was the first time I ran across the term passive-aggressive. And boy is it a cruel thing. You never know what people are really thinking. The worst part is that I believe that it is contagious. Anyways back to the subject at hand.

I copied and pasted an article by Jessica Stillman, called,”Why January 1st is the Worst Day to Make Resolutions.”

Basically what Ms, Stillman is suggesting is to breakdown your commitments and designate a commitment to each month of the year. Which is a good idea overall because it forces you to organize but it is also helpful because the commitments do not seem so overwhelming. This would definitely benefit you if you have exactly 12 commitments or should  I say 11 commitments. So what you do is adopt one of your resolutions on the 1st of February and make sure that by the end of February it is not a resolution but a habit, imbedded in your daily routine. And then on March 1st you adopt another resolution and so on. This also works if you have less resolutions for example three. You can dedicate four months of the year to one resolution. If this is the case I believe you will have a better chance of committing. I do recommend that you keep record of your progress as well.

You will find the article below:

Why January 1st Is the Worst Day to Make

Resolutions

Looking for a simple trick to make your New Year’s commitment more sticky? Here’s an easy adjustment endorsed by psychologists.

If you’re looking for excuses not to bother with a New Year’s Resolution this year, the internet has you covered. A quick google search will give you post after post after post explaining why most resolutions are doomed from the start due to various quirks of human nature. Depending on which study you reference, nearly nine-out-of-ten resolutions end up quickly falling by the wayside, according to this pessimistic pile up of articles.

But what if this year you’re determined to beat those odds and make permanent positive changes to your life or business? Tips abound, but some like going into psychoanalysis, make the medicine seem worse than the condition, while others, like choosing happy resolutions, defeat the purpose if your true desire is to break a bad habit.

Are there no simple, actionable tricks you can use to make your commitment more sticky? Yup, one is easy as pie and recommended by the experts. What is it? Wisebread recently explained:

Instead of starting resolutions on January 1st — after a hectic month when most people have been knocked off of their usual routines because of the holidays — start on February 1st, and shoot for a date every month to check progress, [clinical psychologist Ramani] Durvasula says.

“I think January 1st is the worst possible day to make New Year’s resolutions because everybody is doing it and out of their routine,” she adds.

Trying to add something to your daily routine, such as exercising, can be difficult on January 1st because for the previous two weeks or so, most people are out of their normal routine anyway, and adding something else to it can lead to quick failure, Durvasula notes.

OK, we admit this technique may defeat the purpose if you’re trying to beat procrastination in 2014, but for everyone else moving the start date of your new habit forward a month could be worth a try. Most of us let ourselves go a bit in December, so trying to get strict with ourselves immediately afterwards can cause a backlash, other psychologists agree.

“Because we place so few demands on ourselves to be disciplined during December, there is no immediate threat of deprivation,” explains Pauline W. Wallin, Ph.D. “When New Year’s Day arrives, we tend to expect that self-discipline will magically take over, and it does, sometimes for several days; but then, more often than not, we are soon overcome by a feeling of being deprived. We begin to resent the rules we imposed upon ourselves, and start to rebel in small ways. Pretty soon, the rationalization takes over completely.”

“January 1 is not necessarily the best time to commit to lifestyle changes,” she concludes.

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Hope that this was helpful.

Peace.

Reference:

Stillman, Jessica. (2013, Dec 30).Why January 1st is the Worst Day to Make Resolutions . http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/do-not-start-your-new-years-resolution-on-january-1st.html

The Art of Refrigeration

I previously provided information about why it was important to eat your vegetables and fruits. So now we are going to look at how to keep vegetables and fruits in the refrigerator, based on my experience. How often do you throw away decaying produce from the refrigerator? I can happily say that I rarely do and I believe it is because I am vigilant in how I keep my produce. I will share with you some of my techniques. But first I want to share with you one of my previous experiences.

Not too long ago when I was at Safeway the cashier noticed that I was purchasing three avocados and it sparked a conversation:

Cashier:  “Every time I buy avocados they just go bad! So I do not buy them anymore.”

Me: Well, do you keep them in the refrigerator?

Cashier: Yes!

Me: At what stage do you buy them? Do you buy them when they are ripe?

Cashier: Yes, I do.

Me: I think that is your problem, I buy one that is really hard, not so hard and one that is ripe.

Cashier: Oh, okay, I see.

Me. You have to make sure to remember to eat them as well. I believe that is a problem, people forget to eat them.

Cashier: Okay I will try that.

I have not seen her since our conversation, I do not shop at Safeway that often. But if I do, I will ask her if she took up purchasing avocados again and if anything has changed?

So back to the refrigeration of produce. I would have to say that there are three key things to think about when you are considering the refrigeration of produce: aeration, temperature and if the produce is alive.

We will tackle aeration first. I am assuming that inside a refrigerator, air is constantly moving; this is a good thing as well as bad thing. Some vegetables and fruits need to be sort of shielded from this moving air because that constant moving air dries them out (again my assumption). It is sort of similar to blow drying your hair only using the cold air option on the blow-dryer, even thought the air is cold, if you wait long enough your hair will dry.

So depending on the structure of the produce, you will have to keep specific produce in a paper bag. On that note, I cannot think of a specific type of produce that I would recommend to keep in a plastic bag. The reason for this is because the plastic bag drastically minimizes air flow which means that moisture given off by produce gets trapped in the bag. Compared to keeping produce in a paper bag which allows air flow but on a minimal level. The trapping of moisture is bad because mold which is similar to almost everything else on this planet needs water to survive. Keeping produce in a plastic bag will provide mold with adequate food as well as water. In this situation, this is good for them and bad for us.

The outer layer of your produce will give you a hint, on how to keep it. There are a handful of types of vegetables and fruits that you need to keep in their own paper bag. This includes berries (blackberries, strawberries, boysenberries, raspberries, etc) and mushrooms (shiitake, portobello, white button, maitake, brown button, oyster, etc). According to WiseGeek, putting a damp paper towel with the produce mentioned above will help last even longer. I personally do not put a paper towel but you are more than welcome to.

You will also find produce that you have to keep in a paper bag but you do not have to keep them separate. What I do for this category is that I put a shopping bag (paper) from Safeway, Costco, Raleys, etc, in the bottom pull out drawer of my refrigerator and then I put the produce in the bag. I believe that this is a good method, because it helps the produce from drying out and it is a easy clean up, just take out the bag when appropriate. Produce in this section include: broccoli, carrots, celery, romaine lettuce, radicchio, red leaf, green leaf, endive, iceberg lettuce, butter lettuce, eggplant, and cauliflower.

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Paper bag of carrots and broccoli

On the other end of the aeration spectrum is produce that do not have to be kept in a paper bag at all. We can make an educated guess and say that the reason why you do not have to do anything special to produce in this category is because they have a tough outer layer. The vegetables and fruits included in this section  are: oranges, bananas, plantains, lemons, squash, pineapple, cucumber (watch these closely), melons, and beets. There are other vegetables that are sort of vigor, if I can use that word, for example, cabbage, beets, ginger, tomatoes, artichoke, turnips, radishes, apples, bell peppers, grapes, corn, radishes, garlic and onions. I personally have a decent size plastic tupperware that I keep in my refrigerator for holding most of the produce in this section.

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Tupperware full of Produce

Just a quick note, above I had mentioned tomatoes, but it is important to point out that if you do utilize the ‘tupperware method,’ do not let the tomatoes sit under other produce. Because if they are at the bottom, the weight of the other vegetables and fruits will cause bruising which speeds up the decaying process.

Next we are going to look at temperature, which is sort easy; if you are someone who has a refrigerator. This is obvious because you would just set the dial on your refrigerator at an ideal temperature and let it do its thing. But some vegetables and fruits do not need to be refrigerated, these are mostly roots and some other types of produce: potatoes, onions*, garlic*, ginger*, lemons*, grapes*, apples* and avocados*.

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My potato box

Last and but not least we have the, ‘living produce.’ Believe it or not some of the produce that you buy is still alive. The different types of produce that I am talking about here are lettuces, produce in the Apiaceae family, and herbs. The produce in this category can be put in the refrigerator while sitting in a jar/cup of water. The plants will naturally begin to take in the water, which will allow them to last 100 times longer (exaggeration).  But really you will be surprised of the difference. I personally put, spinach, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, sage, thyme, etc.   This is such a cool method because  all you have to do is grab your jar (I recycle old jam jars, peanut butter jars, sauce jars, mason jars, etc) of produce pick how much of the plant you want and put it back. With this method you should pick off leaves at the bottom  of the plant as best as possible. So that they do not sit in the water (will increase rate of decay) and you should change the water maybe once a week.

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Spinach in a jar

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Jar of cilantro

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The water should be clean and kept as low as possible.

* Even though it is not necessary to refrigerate; I do. The potato only after it is cut.

Peace!

Reference:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/lettuce-varieties_n_1626023.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/464325-what-are-the-benefits-of-parsley-cilantro/ refrigeration

http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-best-way-to-store-produce.htm

Why Your Plate Should look Like the Rainbow! Part 2

rainbow-vegetables-and-fruit

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I froze half, these are the frozen ones.

I am hoping that since the last post you had the opportunity to get your hands on some berries. If not maybe you have the intention to. I personally purchased two baskets of strawberries and two baskets of blackberries from the farmers market. I usually wait until the end of the strawberry season(late August-September) because the price goes down as the season goes on. But at this time the price was affordable, so that is really good for my body because I am currently providing it with an adequate supply anthocyacins(reason why blackberries are black and strawberries are red).

To review, phytochemicals are the healthy chemical compounds that give vegetables and fruits their color. In plants these phytochemicals protect plants from the various stresses that come up in their lives. When we eat vegetables and fruits our body utilizes the same phytochemicals that are found in plants. So that our bodies can fight the similar stresses that our own bodies experience; in some cases the stresses are exactly the same. We also need phytochemicals for our bodies to function efficiently. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, research has shown that consuming these phytochemicals may help strengthen  your immune system as well as decrease you risk of certain cancers, high blood pressure, stoke, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It would benefit you if you could take up the habit of consuming vegetables and fruits that represent all the colors of the  rainbow.

I did want to add, that your body constantly works on maintaining your bodies pH at around 7.4. Different foods that we eat effect the pH of our bodies differently, for example, animal products, legumes, and grains make our bodies more acidic. Vegetables and fruits may also make our bodies acidic but they also contain alkalizing minerals, which buffer the acidic effects of animal products, legumes, and grains. So people who eat primarily animal products, foods high in sugar, salt, fat and highly processed foods are actually suffering from metabolic acidosis.

Phytochemicals can be categorized in several ways. But I really like how Marcia Zimmerman, CN, categorized phytochemicals based on their chemical structure. The different families are: terpenes, organosulfur compounds, phenols, lipids, Organic acids and polysaccharides(note: Organic acids and Polysaccharides are in the same family). Feel free to click on the different links below to gain access to more information as well as what the structures look like.

Terpenes are essentially single to multiple chains hydrocarbons, a lot of them are isoprene derevatives(isoprene by itself helps trees alleviate aboitic stress and temperature stress).

Organosulfur compounds are organic compounds that contain sulfur as part of their structure.

Phenols are compounds with a benzene ring and a hydroxyl group(OH-) attached to it.

Lipids are compounds that do not dissolve in water, such as fats, sterols, waxes and fat-soluble vitamins.

Organic acids and Polysaccharides: organic acids are organic compounds that have acidic properties, which is to dissociate in a solution, releasing its hydrogen ions(H+).  As a result the PH of the solution is lowered. Polysaccharides are long sugar compounds.

The Break Down of Phytochemicals

Within the terpene family we want to focus on carotenoids, liminoids, anthocyanins and saponins.

Carotenoids are really what make certain vegetables and fruits orange(color), such as carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes. cantaloupe, peaches, pumpkin, apricots, and mangoes. There are at least 600 different types of carotenoids(did I not warn you that there is a lot of information surrounding nutrition and diet?) and within that there are different derivatives such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, delta and gamma-carotene; this is based on how oxidation effects them. Vegetables and fruits high in carotene provide vitamin A, they protect DNA from damage, and they protect the body from certain cancers: lung, colorectal, breast, uterine, and prostate cancer.

Liminoids are a certain type of monoterpene that are found in the peels of citrus fruits. According to Ms. Zimmerman, one study showed that taking standardized extracts of d-limonene, pinene and eucalyptol could be effective in the clearing of congestive mucus from the lungs of patients with effective pulmonary disease.

Anthocyanins are what make vegetables and fruits appear blue, red or purple. For example, blackberries, cherries, red cabbage, eggplant, black rice,  etc. Anthocyanins are beneficial for bacterial infections, inflammation and certain cancers.

Saponins are believed to be very beneficial for the skin. Because of their capability of holding water on the skin as well as being antimicrobial(our skin is covered with bacteria).

Organosulfur Compounds are found in cruciferous foods, onions, garlic, and produce in the mustard family.  There are many classes of sulfides, for this we are going focus on glucosinolates and allylic sulfides.

Glucosinolates are really good at activating the detoxification abilities of the liver, specifically the enzymes in the liver. There is also the speculation that glucosinolates can prevent tumor growth, particularly breast, liver, colon, lung, stomach and the esophagus.

Allylic sulfides, garlic and onions being the most sought after, also include leeks, chives and shallots. Allylic sulfides are activated via oxidation, this is why in a previous post I recommended that you let smashed/chopped garlic sit for at least 15 minutes before consuming. Allylic sulfides are antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, have detoxification properties, and they seem to block the activity of toxins produced by bacteria and viruses.

 According to Ms. Zimmerman, indols are considered to be one of the most effective dietary agents against colon cancer. They are also effective against hormone related cancers.

Phenols are beneficial in protecting the heart and vascular system, preventing dental problems and certain cancers. They can be found in grapes, grape juice, strawberries, raspberries, red wine green and black tea. Polyphenols are multi-phenolic complexes, because of the potential for different derivatives, the result is a wide range of biological potential.

Polyphenols, also known as flavan-3-ols, include catechins, which are very important because catechins are found in green tea; we really like green tea. Another important polyphenol is resveratrol, which is found in red grapes and wine. Resveratrol is suspected of preventing tumor growth and it is considered as anti-inflammatory.

Organic acids, Polysaccharides, Esters,  and Lactones are considered antioxidants, antibacterial, ant-inflammatory and they have cancer preventative properties. You can find these in herbs, grains, spices, and a few vegetables and fruits.  Below is a quote taken from Ms. Zimmerman’s website(2001), it goes further into the phytonutrients in this family:

They include the acids; oxalic (spinach, rhubarb, tea, coffee), tartaric (apricots, apples), cinnamic (aloe, Kava), caffeic (burdock, hawthorn), ferulic (oats, rice), gallic (tea),  ellagic (guava), chlorogenic (echinacea), salicylic (peppermint) and tannic (nettles, tea, berries). Some are familiar because they are named for species from which they were first identified (ie, vanillic in vanilla bean).  Others such as gallic team up with phenols – in this case catechins – found in green tea, berries and grapes. Catechin-gallate complexes (esters) are “super-charged” antioxidants with enhanced anti-cancer and anti-tumor effects.( 68) The Kava lactones methysticin, dihydrokawain and kawain also belong to this family. Kava lactones account for the anti-anxiety, relaxant, anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic effects of Kava Kava. (69)”

Last but not least we will cover lipids. Which are beneficial in preventing disorders derived from hormonal problems and they are also considered anti-inflammatory.  We will touch on isoprenoids, tocotrienols, ubiquinone, lipoic acid, omega-3’s and omega-6’s.

Isoprenoids are considered antioxidants but where they stand out is there unique property of anchoring themselves in membranes. Vitamin E is in the isoprenoid family, which is no coincidence because vitamin E is very good for the skin. Vitamin E can disable free-radicals when it interacts with co-enzyme, vitamin C, gluthathione, and alpha lipoic acid.

Tocotorienols can be found in grains, palm oil and rice. tocotriels appear to have tumor inhibiting properties, as well as cholesterol lowering properties.

Ubiquinone(coenzyme Q) is crucial in the cellular antioxidant enzyme system. Co Q is recognized as a scavenger for hydroxyl radicals, peroxyl, ascorbyl, and chromanoxyl radicals.

Linoleic, an omega-6 fatty acid and alpha linolenic, an omega-3 fatty acid can be found in seeds, legumes, dark leafy greens, grains, nuts and legumes. The two mentioned above are precursors to two fatty acid phytochemical groups: Gamma linolenic acid, GLA(n-6) and eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA(n-6), which are crucial moderators of prostaglandin pathways. The are beneficial to you because of their anti-inflammatory, they moderate cell membrane dynamics and moderate immune response. Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA(n-3) is crucial the health of the  brain. Studies show that it is effective in alleviating disorders like depression, schizophrenia, and attention deficits. EPA and DHA are found in fish while GLA, is found in seed oils (primrose, black currant and borage).

The Colors of Vegetables and Fruits

  1. Green Produce.
      1. Green leafy vegetables, kiwi, honeydew melon,  avocado, broccoli, artichoke, zucchini, lettuce, celery, asparagus, edamame, okra, and peas.
    1. Phytochemicals.
      1. Lutein, zeaxanthin, indoles, omega-3’s and omega-6’s
  2. White and Tan Produce.
      1. Turnips, bananas, garlic, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, radishes, potatoes(white flesh),  jicama, and ginger.
    1. Phytochemicals.
      1. Allicin and anthoxanthins.
  3. Yellow and Orange Produce.
      1. Sweet potatoes, peaches, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, mangos, pumpkin, corn, pineapple, carrots, butternut squash, apricots, tangerines and yellow peppers.
    1. Phytochemicals.
      1. Carotenoids( beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthi) and bioflavonoids.
  4. Red Produce.
      1. Red grapes, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, pink or red grapefruit, tomatoes, beets, radishes, red peppers, rhubarb, cherries, cranberries, red cabbage, guava and red apples.
    1. Phytochemicals.
      1. Carotenoids(Lycopen, anthocyanin), and resveratol.
  5. Blue and Purple Produce.
      1. Purple cabbage, blueberries, blackberries, black grapes, raisins, eggplant, plums, prunes and figs.
    1. Phytochemicals.
      1. Anthocyanins, phenolics, and resveratol.

I wanted to apologize for some information that I posted on the last post. In the last post I grouped purple and red produce together. This was based on Ms. Zimmerman’s article called, “Color Your Diet: Stave off aging (2012).” I was hesitant in doing what I thought was correct but since I am not an expert on this topic I decided to go with what she had stated. I now would like to take that back and group blue and purple produce together, leaving red produce in it’s own group. It is also important to note that in general all the fruits and vegetables have a lot of the similar phytochemicals. What differentiates the color groups(produce) is the type of phytochemical that dominates in that group(produce) resulting in a different color. I have provided a picture that I took of the article just for your convenience; the pictures are at the bottom of the post.

For people who are auditory learners I have provided a video below featuring Ms. Zimmerman.

Below is a chart taken from Ms. Zimmerman’s website found here.

Phytochemical Families

Family What They Do Where They’re Found
Terpenes
Carotenes, limonoids, saponins Activate body’s protective enzymes, protect eyes, act as antioxidants, modify hormones, help block cholesterol absorption, protect cellular differentiation Green, red and yellow vegetables and fruits; grains; legumes; nuts; seeds; herbs such as ginseng, chamomile, gotu kola
Organosulfur Compounds
Indol-3-carbinol, thiosulfonates, isothiocyanates Boost cancer-fighting enzymes, block multagenesis, inhibit cholesterol synthesis, may lower blood pressure Cruciferous vegetables; mustard family; onion & garlic family
Phenols
Polyphenols, anthocyanidins, caechins, isoflavones, tannins Protect heart and vascular system, protect against colon cancer, modify hormone response, prevent dental caries Berries, grapes, red wine, green leafy vegetables, soy foods, green tea, herbs
Organic acids, Polysacchaarides
Lactones, celluloses, arabinogalactans, pectins, fructans, glucans Block nitrosamine effects, promote growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, modulate immune system, may help prevent colon cancer Fruit, mushrooms, yeast, herbs, spices
Lipids
Isoprenoids, oils, fatty acids, physterols Reduct platelet aggregation, blood clotting, inflammation, nervous system disorders; balance hormones; modify autoimmune conditions Dark-green leafy vegetables, nuts, soy oil, wheat germ, herbs, animal foods

Pictures from Ms. Zimmerman’s article.

2013-05-10 04.21.222013-05-10 04.22.14

Peace!

References:

Coila, Bridget. (2010, Oct 7). List of Phytochemical Foods. Livestrong.com. http://www.livestrong.com/article/273326-list-of-phytochemical-foods/

Collins, Claudia. (2010, Sep 28). Nutrition: Fruit and Vegetable Colors. Livestrong.com. http://www.livestrong.com/article/262977-nutrition-fruit-and-vegetable-colors/

Zimmerman, Marcia. (2012, January).  Color your Diet: Stave off Aging. Taste for life, 32-33.

Zimmerman, Marcia. (2001). Phytochemicals-Nutrients Whose Time Has Come. Marciazimmerman.com. http://marciazimmerman.com/phytochemicals-nutrients-whose-time-has-come/

http://marciazimmerman.com/education/

http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/health_healing/fact_sheets/

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/metabolic+acidosis

http://www.cookingwithcolor.com/white_foods/

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=4168

http://www.vitamins-supplements.org/phytochemicals/

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=25930

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terpene

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroxyl_group

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenols

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_acids

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organosulfur_compounds

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polysaccharide

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limonoids

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotenoids

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saponin

The information here is not intended to replace standard(allopathic) medicine, which has its benefit in the medical environment in diagnosing and treating diseases. Any persistent, severe, and or unusual symptoms should be evaluated by a registered physician. The natural remedies/habits suggested here, although safer than pharmaceutical drugs, can cause unexpected results, in different people. If a condition fails to respond to the remedies/habits presented here, you should consult a physician. The author of this information, disclaims responsibility for any adverse reactions resulting directly or indirectly from the information given here.

Battling the Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) website, which can be found here. The flu season started a month early. The CDC website states that influenza virus is off to a strong start but it is important to point out that it is still too early in the flu season to know if it is going to be a bad flu season overall. It is also important to note that America, so far has been hit the hardest, while other countries are not experiencing the same influenza activity.

Now, we can start talking about the difference between the flu and the common cold. Because it is important to know that you can get sick from either one.  The type of viruses that get you sick are different for the flu versus the common cold. The flu is caused by either Influenza A or B,  in comparison to the common cold which can be caused by over 200 different varieties of the rhinovirus. They also differ in the symptoms, the WebMD website, found here does a good job of going more into detail. Nonetheless, the symptoms can be be found below.

Common Cold:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Children can get a fever
  • Lasts about one week

Flu:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever in children and adults
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • How long symptoms lasts vary

It is also important to add that people who have cold like symptoms that do not go away within a week,  should check with their doctor to see if the have an allergy or sinusitis. On that note I would like to make it clear that I am not a registered physician or nurse and that the information given here should be used under your own judgment.

Before we get into what you can do as a preventative measure and or if  you do get sick. I would like to point out a couple of bad habits that should not be done while one is sick:

  • You should not smoke, if you are a smoker.
  • You should not exercise, this is because exercise puts stress(usually a good thing) on the body and your body needs all the energy it can get when you are sick.
  • You should not consume a lot of alcohol(if any at all).
  • According to certified nutritional consultant, Phyllis Balch, (2012), “do not give aspirin to a child who shows symptoms of a viral  infection.” This because giving aspirin can result in the child developing Reye’s syndrome, which could be serious.
  • Phyllis Balch, (2012), also recommends not to take antibiotics since they are useless against viruses. This is because antibiotics fight bacteria and not viruses. So be careful if you doctor prescribes antibiotics.

With that said, I would like to focus on what one can do if they get the common cold or the flu.  These habits and remedies are ones that focus on the bodies own ability to fight the virus in the body. So they can be used while you are sick as well as prevent you from getting sick.

One of the most important things that you can do is wash your hands regularly and try to avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose. This does not mean using hand sanitizers, which is becoming very common. There is controversy around the use of hand sanitizers, for various reasons, such as how it can lead to skin problems,  Lisa A. Garner, MD, stated:

“Everyone’s afraid of germs, but our skin can’t tolerate [hand sanitizer] as much as some people are using it,”

What Dr. Garner is saying is that the over use of hand sanitizers is causing an increase in skin problems. Dr. garner is a dermatologist(doctor who specializes in skin and its diseases), who has seen a rapid increase in skin problems due to use of hand sanitizers among other things. The complete article can be found here.

This is not to say that you should not use hand sanitizers when convenient or appropriate. I believe that hand sanitizers do have a place in our lives. For example in the work place, if you are someone who works in a hospital, school, or any job that requires you to use tools that other people use, then hand sanitizers come in handy. This is because you can wipe down the equipment, table, whatever it may be with the hand sanitizer. I would also recommend carrying a small bottle of lotion in your bag or purse.

Now to the good stuff! We cannot talk about natural remedies without talking about teas. Teas are very beneficial in reducing the length of a cold or preventing you from getting the flu.  Phyllis Balch (2012), states,” that drinking 2-5 cups of green tea a day during the flu season can prevent you from getting the flu.” I personally recommend two things, the first: get your hands on white tea, if you can find it. This is because it has more antioxidants then green tea. The second: no disrespect to Dr. Balch but drink as much tea as you can (2-5 cups? you can do better). Another important tea to drink is enchinacea(highly recommended). To increase the effects of the teas, I would recommend adding cayenne pepper to the tea, as well as slices of fresh ginger(powder if it is all that you have), as well as boiling the water with lemon peels in the water(my Aunt’s recommendation). Regarding the Green and white tea, it is important to buy Fairtrade tea, and anything you can for that matter. You can purchase Fairtrade tea in you local organic store or online here and here.

One remedy that should be taken seriously is the consumption of raw garlic cloves. This is one that some people shy from because of the stigma around the way garlic can make you smell, but in comparison to the health benefits I believe it is worth it. Dr Andrew Weil, (2005), recommends to finely chop the garlic cloves and eat them raw. This is because when they are cooked the beneficial qualities of the garlic are reduced. Garlic has very strong anti-bacterial and ant-viral properties. One thing that has to be said, is if you do decide to consume garlic in the raw or cooked form, I recommend that you let the garlic sit for at least fifteen minutes, before eating or cooking it. This is has to do with what happens to the garlic when it is exposed to the air. If you want more information on this click here.

For relief from congestion, allergic symptoms, and the cold,  it might be beneficial to use a neti pot. A neti pot is a device that allows you to rinse your nasal passage ways with luke warm water and a non-iodized salt. You can purchase a neti pot or make one yourself. I have provided links to two videos on Youtube here and here(make sure the water is not hot!!! When you use it).

I hope that you find this information useful. Please let me know if you have questions, concerns, and or ideas.

Peace.

References:

Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Herbal Healing. 2nd ed. revised. Stacy Bell. New York. Avery. 2012. print.

Kam Katherine. “Surprising Household Irritants.” WebMD. WebMD, LLC, 13 Sept. 2011.

Weil, Andrew. Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-Care for Optimal Health. 1995. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.print.

The information here is not intended to replace standard(allopathic) medicine, which has its benefit in the medical environment in diagnosing and treating diseases. Any persistent, severe, and or unusual symptoms should be evaluated by a registered physician. The natural remedies/habits suggested here, although safer than pharmaceutical drugs, can cause unexpected results, in different people. If a condition fails to respond to the remedies/habits presented here, you should consult a physician. The author of this information, disclaims responsibility for any adverse reactions resulting directly or indirectly from the information given here.

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