Earth Day Facts

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Happy Earth Day everyone!!  Today we celebrate the wonder that is our planet, its biodiversity and its uniqueness.  We owe everything to this planet we live on and I believe strongly in taking care of it so that it lasts for many more generations to come.  

It saddens me when I see people taking advantage of our environment by littering, creating unnecessary waste and not recycling things that can easily be reused.  The earth is not our waste dump.  We share this place with millions of other creatures and we all need to work together to survive and thrive.

We can all make a difference in our everyday lives if we each try to add one thing that is good for the environment into our daily routine.  Whether that is through recycling, composting, picking up trash, walking or biking instead of driving, bringing reusable bags to the grocery, minimizing food waste, shopping local, donating to environmental organizations or supporting green energy.

The key to all of this is awareness.  Awareness that what we do everyday impacts the environment around us, from how long your commute is to work to what you throw into the waste bin when cooking dinner.  Below are some facts for this Earth Day to help increase your awareness and appreciation for the wonderful world that we live in. Please share and spread the love!

  • Since 1996, we’ve recycled and composted more than 2.6 trillion pounds of materials in the U.S.  Today our recycling industry provides more than 476,000 jobs nationwide and generates more than $105 billion in economic activity.
  • According to the EPA, the way we produce, transport, use and dispose of products and food generates 42% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  (See my post on food waste here!)
  • If everyone in the U.S. recycled only their plastic water bottles for 1 year (all 42.6 billion of them), that would offset the greenhouse gases generated by 1,065,000 round-trips between London and New York in coach every year. (Better yet, buy a re-usable bottle and ditch the plastic!)
  • The U.S. could create 1.1 million new jobs by recycling 75% of our discards.
  • There are currently over 7 billion people on Earth, all of which rightly aspire to a comfortable standard of living.  If every person on Earth consumed as much stuff as the average U.S. citizen, we would need the equivalent of more than 4 Earths to support us all.
  • Scientists now claim that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 70% mid-century if we are to avoid global warming’s worst impacts.
  • In the past 50 years, humans have consumed more resources than in all previous history.
  • More than 100 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered in the U.S. each year, which comes out to about 848 pieces per household.  The production, distribution and disposal of all that junk creates over 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, the equivalent emissions of more than 9.3 million cars.
  • Making copy paper from 100% recycled content fiber instead of 100% virgin forest fibers reduces total energy consumption by 44%, net greenhouse gas emissions by 38%, particulate emissions by 41%, wastewater by 50%, solid waste by 49% and wood use by 100%.
  • Half of the world’s tropical and temperate forests are now gone.
  • 75% of marine fisheries are now overfished or fished to capacity.
  • Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals used in the U.S. have been tested for safety.

Become more aware and do your part today on Earth Day and every day.  Together we can make a healthier, happier, safer environment for ourselves and future generations to come.

Peace, love and tree-hugging,

The Yogi~Foodie

Source: Eco-cycle

Photo credit:  CC image Earth courtesy of Kevin Gill on flickr

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Setbacks

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Setbacks are a doozy.  Whether it is related to a goal you’ve set, a project you are working on or your health, getting slammed with a setback, especially one you don’t expect, hurts. It’s like a punch in the gut.  And when setbacks happen, it is really easy to get stuck in that negative mindset, let them take over and derail what you were trying to accomplish to begin with.

I got dealt with a setback of my own this week related to my health.  I’ve discussed my journey with thyroid disease and hormone imbalance on this blog a little bit before, but for those of you who are new to my story, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (an under active thyroid gland) and a hormone imbalance about four years ago.  Since then I have been working to get better through medication, lifestyle modifications, exercise and eating a really clean diet.

Things had gotten better.  My thyroid started working normally again and my hormone levels crept back up to where they should be for a women my age.  But recently I’ve been feeling a little off and it was confirmed this week when I got the results of my most recent lab test.  After all of my hard work, my numbers have dropped below normal again.

It is frustrating to say the least, especially when the cause of this drop cannot easily be determined.  I want yell and scream and cry and be furious at the injustice of it all.  And while I think honoring these emotions and letting them out is important, I don’t want them to define me.  Most of all, I don’t want to lose hope.  The hope that I can someday get better and that everything will be okay.

To me, it’s what we do after setbacks that really matter.  I refuse to let this derail the positive changes I have put forth in my life.  I refuse to let it drag down my hope and faith of a better, healthier tomorrow.  These issues will not define who I am as a person and what I can bring to this world.  If anything, I can bring more to the world as I share my experiences and what I learn with you.

My body is trying to tell me something and I am going to take the time to listen.  Too often we go through life not realizing something is wrong or straight up refusing to listen because we don’t have time or don’t want to face the scariness of what it could be.  But eventually our bodies will always make us listen and usually when that happens it’s not pretty.

I have so much to be thankful for in life and I know there are people out there who are struggling with illness a lot more serious than mine.  I have loved ones that support me, a job, a roof over my head in a safe neighborhood and healthy food to eat.  That is a lot more than many people in this world.  

If you have experienced a setback recently don’t lose hope.  Keep fighting the fight, don’t stop believing.  Regroup, set a new course and have faith that it will all be okay.

Peace, love and hope,

The Yogi~Foodie

Photo credit:  CC image courtesy of jamesmellor on flickr

It’s Just a Number

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So I went to the doctor this week.  The visit was related to a cold I haven’t been able to shake that has blossomed into a sinus infection, but that isn’t the point of this post.  This post will discuss the thing that commonly happens when you do visit your doctor.  The weigh-in.  The dreaded weigh-in, for many out there.

You take off as much as possible for common decency in public so as to keep the number lower.  Shoe removal is a must, of course.  I always crack a little joke with the nurse, like “here we go again…” with a roll of my eyes.  Anything to break the tension that I am feeling inside.

You’d think that, with my past as an athlete and the knowledge that I am a pretty healthy person who eats primarily natural, real food and works out around five days a week, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the resulting measurement.  But I do.  

And I hate how it makes me feel.  I hate how the number can ruin my day, make me feel negative about myself.  Make me feel inadequate and unlovable.  The power I give to it is ridiculous.  

When it comes down to it, I am just built differently.  Well, we are all built differently, no two people are the same (something we should all keep in mind).  I just put on muscle easily and have been lifting a lot at the gym lately to try to improve my strength, posture, metabolism, body composition and overall health.  Muscle weighs more than fat after all.

So why did this little episode at the doctor impact me so strongly? Well, societal pressure and feminine norms is one thing.  A personal past with disordered eating and weight obsession is another. I have always struggled, especially as a teenager, with fitting into what society as a whole considers “beautiful”. But why should I care so much?  Isn’t the main thing that matters is that I think I’m beautiful, just the way I am? You betcha. Thankfully today there are a lot of beautiful, strong women out there who are great role models to the female community.

Also impacting me is the commonly held idea that weight directly determines health. But for me and many athletic girls out there, that’s just not true.  Weight is just a number, not the be all end all indicator of health.  It is an important one yes, but not a number that should be considered all by its lonesome self.  

Even worse is the measurement of BMI, which is calculated by taking your weight (in kilograms) and dividing it be your height (in centimeters) squared.  It does not take into account body composition at all.  A teenager recently wrote an essay to her gym teacher explaining why she wouldn’t measure her BMI for a homework assignment (see article about it here!).  She’s an athlete and the first time her BMI was measured in gym class she was labeled as obese.  Her letter went viral.

So what measurements do matter?  Well, lab tests that measure what’s going on inside are pretty significant indicators of health.  Someone may be skinny but also have high blood pressure and be pre-diabetic (commonly known these days as “skinny fat”). Waist measurement is also helpful.  This helps to measure visceral fat, or belly fat, which is the really bad stuff.  If your weight stays constant over a span of time but your waist circumference decreases?  Well, that means you are losing fat and gaining muscle.  Win!

When I step back and really think about it, what would I tell a friend who came to me with these feelings?  Well, I would tell her to not ever let a number dictate how you love and feel about yourself because you are so much more than that.

At the end of the day, weight is just a number.  It should never make you feel bad about yourself, shameful or unworthy.  Use it as a tool in conjunction with other things to work towards a better, healthier life, but don’t let it define you.  Because we are all beautiful just the way we are.

Peace, love and health,

The Yogi~Foodie