29 June 2009

Fitness Challenge Update

Today was the cut off date for the weight loss challenge I entered into with some friends. In speaking with the other original participant, we decided to extend the challenge to the end of August. We both felt that we hadn't worked as hard as we could have and wish to continue.

I haven't yet told the other participant (I'm sure she'll find out if she reads this today). I think she'll be happy for the extension.

As for weight loss, I gave up measuring myself on a weekly basis because it seemed to discourage me. I haven't seen that much of a loss, but I AM able to wear a lot of things that I couldn't before, so I must be losing.

The biggest difference has come in the last month or so, when I started cleaning my weekly house. It's not a LOT of exercise, but it got me off my butt one day a week, and made me feel good about doing something. Then Amanda gave me a stroller to try (then buy) last weekend and since Monday, Delilah and Harley and I have gone for a walk every day. Sometimes we go for two.

Originally we would walk to the dog park and back, but last week when it got SO hot, it was just too hot for Harley to walk there then play then walk home again. So I decided that we would just walk in the park. It's quite nice, with beautiful paved paths that meander along the river, in and out of shade. There are benches along the way, and bathrooms in case you need them. There are always other people out on the trails: walking, biking, rollerblading, and running. Most of them are friendly and I've even struck up a conversation or two with random strangers (usually over their dog or baby).

Now that we have the stroller, it's easier for me to get out and exercise. I think next time we go I will take my rollerblades and once we get to the park, try them on for size. That's the nice thing about the stroller, it's one of those jogging 3-wheeled ones with a hand brake. It rocks. Thanks Amanda!

26 June 2009

I'm a Bad Blogger

I admit it. I don't post as often as I should, considering there are people who check in daily to see if I've written anything new. I apologize. I will try harder.

That being said, I have to announce that we are officially cable TV-free, as of today. I was a little scared at first. Tomorrow will be the first day in a very long time with the tv off.

When I lived with my parents I watched tv very very rarely. IF there was one show a week that I watched, that was a lot. Then I hit college and watched even less. The only thing I really watched was Survivor (season 1, maybe season 2), and I think that was in the summer. I watched that with Peg and had fun counting the strikes against people.

After I moved to Guelph, I lived with Denny and never watched TV. I don't even know if he had cable. I watched a few movies there but that was it. Then I moved to a basement apartment across town and it was furnished, including satellite tv. I rarely watched there, except for hockey once or twice. Then I moved AGAIN (I know, I've moved a LOT in the last 10 years!), and we had tv with satellite just to watch hockey. I don't remember really watching much tv there. Then I moved out on my own again and had tv briefly. Back to my parents, but didn't watch much, then to Windsor, where I didn't even own a tv set. I did discover Grey's Anatomy and downloaded every episode in Season One and most of Season Two. Back to London, into the House From Fight Club where everything we watched was downloaded or otherwise obtained.

Then I met Ben. Ben, with the ginormous television and multi-package cable. Oh, the hated cable.

I must say, I became addicted. I would sit down to watch one thing and get sucked into a few hours of brain-draining crap. It became worse when I had Delilah. TV doesn't require you have hands free, like reading. It's hard to hold an infant and read at the same time.

A few months ago, we cut down to basic cable in order to reduce our monthly costs. We noticed a big difference in the beginning, and I'm sure I missed a few things. We quikly adapted to having only channels 1 through 28. Then we (ok, I) decided that I really don't need cable at all. For what you pay for, basic cable sucks. You don't get very much.

Ben was concerned that we would lose our deal on high speed internet and therefore not actually save any money by divorcing cable. But I insisted, and he ended up sweet-talking a good internet deal from Rogers. We get to keep our internet at the same rate as if we have a cable-internet package. So that's good. I couldn't live without internet. Really. Ok, maybe i could LIVE, but I wouldn't be very happy.

I'm a little hesitant about how my days are going to go when it is like a furnace outside and am stuck in here with nothing to do - I guess my house is gonna get a whole lot cleaner!

I'll keep you posted.

04 June 2009

World Oceans Day

***thanks to OceanHealth.Org for the image!
This upcoming Monday, June 8, 2009, is World Oceans Day. It is a day recognized by the United Nations, for the first time this year! Here is some info, taken from The Ocean Project Website:

The concept of a "World Ocean Day" was first proposed in 1992 by the Government of Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The Ocean Project has been working closely with the World Ocean Network for the last six years to promote and coordinate World Ocean Day events and activities with aquariums, zoos, museums, conservation organizations and agencies, universities, schools, and businesses. Each year an increasing number of countries and organizations have been marking June 8th as opportunity to celebrate our world ocean and our personal connection to the sea.

But you say you don't live near an ocean, so it doesn't matter to ME-WRONG! The world's oceans affect all of us. Your actions CAN help. Your biggest contribution to our oceans' health is to reduce your plastic use, reduce your consumption (of everything), reuse things that you can, and recycle everything that can't be reused. Compost your kitchen scraps! They make better soil than garbage! See previous posts on how to become more environmentally friendly.

Here are some ideas on how to celebrate/recognize World Oceans Day (also taken from The Ocean Project website):

Beginning this year we can all start to associate the color blue with World Oceans Day. This event has been unofficially celebrated for more than a dozen years but this year marks the inaugural World Oceans Day, officially recognized by United Nations resolution as June 8th each year.

One easy thing that all Partners and supporters can do is to wear blue in honor of the ocean. Many already do as part of their uniform, but we encourage all ZAM [zoos, aquariums and museums] staff and docents as well as those working at NGOs, agencies, and universities and schools, to help spread the blue.

We also suggest that you not only wear blue, but let people know why: tell people two things they likely don't know about our ocean and how they can help.

Connecting ocean health with climate change and healthy seafood are two issue opportunities for ZAMs and others to begin to more effectively engage the public in caring more and doing more for our shared ocean.

Our recent research shows...people want this info from ZAMs, and people want to be part of the solutions and believe their individual actions can help. Let's take advantage of that huge opportunity and, together, we can bring about some really positive change!

Two examples of what you could share with your visitors and the public:
  • Our ocean is in trouble, with climate change already linked to the killing of coral reefs, and destructive fishing practices causing a dramatic decline in many types of the fish we depend on for food.
  • There are important, easy actions each of us can take to help. Calculating our carbon footprints and looking for ways to reduce our role in climate change is a great step. Likewise, we can choose seafood that is abundant in supply and fished or farmed without harm to the ocean. ZAMs might want to consider, for instance:

01 June 2009

Homemade Composter

I finally got my composter made. Not that it was a lot of work, but actually getting to the store by myself (so I'd have room in the car for the can) to get the garbage can took a bit longer than expected. I picked up a Rubbermaid Toughneck garbage can. It cost under $15 from Home Depot.

Tonight I pressed Ben into service and had him drill evenly spaced 1/4" holes all over it - the lid, the bottom, and all around the sides, for good air flow, drainage, and to let a little rain water in. After it was all drilled, I took it out back and layered some organic potting soil into the bottom, followed by kitchen scraps collected over the last few days, and then put some dried leaves on top. Luckily I didn't get a chance to rake the leaves up last fall before snow covered them, so they are all still there for me to use as my "brown" item! I plan on getting another (cheap) garbage can in which to store the dried leaves, and then each time I add a layer of kitchen scraps I will throw a handful of the leaves on top. This does two things: it keeps the proper ratio of "green" to "brown" in the compost bin, and keeps down the smell.

For those not familiar with compost rules, there are two types of compostable materials, green and brown. There should be an equal amount (by weight) of browns and greens.

"Green" items are nitrogen-rich materials:
~kitchen scraps such as vegetables and fruit scraps, paper towels, coffee grinds and filters, crushed egg shells
~yard waste
~grass clippings

"Brown" items are carbon-rich materials and include:
~shredded newspaper and paper
~finely ground sawdust
~dried leaves
~bread, pasta and rice
~shredded egg cartons and cardboard

Things that are NOT compostable include:
~diseased plants
~oils or fats (butter, peanut butter, cooking oil, etc)
~meat and animal bones
~pet waste or litter
~ash, sawdust, or shavings from painted or chemically-treated wood

Here is some info about composting rules, taken from the City of London's website on composting:

  1. Locate the composting bin in an area with good drainage and one that is accessible year round (partial shade is preferred).
  2. Loosen the soil over the area on which you are going to place your backyard composter. This will allow soil organisms (insects and worms) to move up the pile.
  3. Put down a thick layer (4 cm/10 in) of browns, such as dry leaves or shredded paper.
  4. Add a layer of greens, such as kitchen scraps, garden trimmings or grass clippings and spread evenly (6 cm/2 in).
  5. Cover green material with browns (10 cm/4 in). This reduces fruit flies and odours. A layer of soil or compost will work in place of the browns. Soil and compost has the added benefit of supplying "starter" micro-organisms to accelerate the process.
  6. Continue to alternate layers of green & brown until your compost bin is full. Tip!! Save some bags of dry leaves every fall.
  7. Turning: When the backyard composter is full, mix and add air to the pile by turning with a garden fork or turning tool. Alternatively, lift compost bin off pile and place in a new location. Fork material back into bin, mixing it well.
  8. Monitor moisture: it should be like a wrung out sponge - damp but not soaking. Add water if pile is dry. If too wet, add some browns.
  9. Continue to mix the pile every 10-14 days. Note: Pile may heat up and shrink after being turned.
  10. After 3-4 turnings, the compost should be ready. It should be crumbly, moist, dark coloured and have an earthy smell. Allow this material to mature for a couple of months before using.

During the winter months, continue with Steps 4 and 5 (save fall leaves for step 5). Click here for more details on winter composting.

Controlled and speedy decomposition is all about balance. If your compost pile is too full of browns, then your pile will be slow to decompose. On the other hand, if the pile is too full of greens, it will turn slimy and smell bad. The goal is to have roughly equal amounts, by weight, of browns and greens.

I encourage EVERYONE to have a composter. Reduce the garbage that goes to the dump, decrease greenhouse emissions from the breakdown of compostable materials (they need oxygen to compost, and the dump doesn't give them that-hence they produce methane), and create wonderful, rich, dark compost for your gardens and lawn! You will find that you will reduce your garbage output by up to 75% if you compost diligently!!!

My Weightloss Progress