This post is more of a rant than anything else. I'm not trying to start some national revolution to get rid of lawns. But I thought to use this time to vent a little about LAWNS!
Currently, my lawn mower isn't giving off enough power to cut through grass. It runs funny and it could easily shut off if the grass is a tad too thick. I've borrowed my neighbor's lawn mower, but his has the same problem! And I truly don't want to buy another lawn mower if I could fix the one I have.
But anyway, I was laboring with two busted lawn mowers trying to cut my grass down. My grass wasn't all that thick, but it was thick enough to shut both lawn mowers down. I actually had to tilt both lawn mowers upward where the back wheels where on the ground and the front wheels were off the ground. This actually allowed me to mow my grass. But this was a GRUELING process, because if the lawn mower shut off, it would take me a few pulls of the string to get it started. Man, I was sweating like hot dogs in an oven!
Thankfully, I decided to mess with the lawn in the late evening when the sun was going down!
While I was on my lawn fussing to myself about these two raggedy lawn mowers, I've started getting frustrated that people in the city who had houses had to suffer through the burden of mowing grass. Really, what is the point of having grass? Yes, it looks nice if you take care of it. But does my lawn give me any food to eat? No it doesn't! I'm basically using gas in a mower to take care of a piece of land that isn't benefiting me or my family.
But I have been thinking about this subject for quite a while: how lawns are pretty much useless. Think about it: all of the land you're mowing isn't giving you any food. Yet, we're still talking about hunger in the U.S.A.
As I look at people's lawns and backyards and see nothing but grass, play sets, or pools, all I'm thinking is how much food those people could grow to feed their family for years to come!
I was watching one documentary program (which are usually one-sided) about individuals who are struggling to survive and who could barely get government assistance. One family who lived in Montana had a home with LOTS of land. Yet, they were complaining about the little food they could get. One little girl who lived there talked about how she was so hungry that she would imagine that her teacher was a banana!
With all the land that her family had, why wasn't anybody growing anything?? Instead, they were depending on outside sources to help them. They already had the resources to get food: their own backyard!
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that we as a nation have disabled ourselves from learning the basic skills that our ancestors had: the skill to grow your own food.
Once upon a time, there were NO supermarkets, corner stores, Super Wal-Marts or Super Targets, or discount grocery stores, or even farmer's markets! If you wanted to eat, well, you had to grow it yourself. If you don't grow, you don't eat. Simple as that. But now with all the convenience in the world, we have lost that basic survival skill so that if we lose our jobs or any source of income, we would be begging for bread from somebody else instead of growing our own wheat to make the bread.
I've have joked to my wife that if the farmers in this nation go on strike, heck, over half the nation would be wiped out because barely anybody knows how to grow their own food.
We as a nation have become so accustomed to maintaining lawns and making our backyards look beautiful that we don't realize we could save a load of money by simply growing our own food. If anybody complains about not eating much food, one of the first things I'm going to think about is: "What are you doing in your backyard?"
Since we rent out in a HOA (home owner's association), there is only so much you're allowed to do, and turning your entire front lawn into a garden isn't one of them. And if you don't mow your grass, you could get fined. So instead of using my lawn to pump out some watermelons, peppers, cantaloupes, and tomatoes, I have to labor over a useless piece of land that is giving me NO food.
Heck, the only creatures in the world that benefit from my lawn are insects! The fire ants make their homes in my lawn, and if I get a few weeds, the bees would suck the nectar from them. Well, I'm glad that I could help out those little critters!
Yes, I was being sarcastic...
All right...I think I'm done with the vent. My lawn looks mostly presentable. There is only so much you could do with lawn mowers that don't want to work too hard.
One day, you're at 200 lbs. Next morning, you're down to 195 lbs. Wow! You've dropped 5 lbs overnight and you have no idea how that happened! But on the next day, you're up to 198 lbs! Two days later, you're up to 202 lbs! Three days later, you're down to 197 lbs!
Does this look familiar? Does your weight fluctuate like this? Well, you may be surprised that the reason could be rather simple. Assuming that you're not a female experiencing her "monthlies" (usually, you may gain a few pounds during that time), then your problem could be as simple as not controlling your diet. In order to know how that works, you need to understand a little bit about glycogen.
Glycogen is a stored form of sugar in your body. Think of it as your "sugar pantry." When the body is low on sugar, it would go to its pantry to get some sugar for energy. However, as long as there is a steady flow of sugar coming into the body, then there is no need for the body to use its glycogen supply.
One important thing about glycogen is that it holds onto water. The larger your "sugar pantry," the more water you'd retain, and the more water you'd retain, the more weight you'd gain. This in itself is not a bad thing. Everybody needs a healthy level of glycogen in their bodies for emergencies, such as starvation or if you're participating in prolonged, intensive exercises.
As long as you're eating normally everyday, then the body won't touch the glycogen storage.
However, if you decide to either drastically cut your carbs or decide to just not eat, then your body would tap into its glycogen like crazy! It would be burning up a load of glycogen, which would then reduce the amount of water it holds -- which ultimately means weight loss for you.
But if you decide to add carbs back into your diet or if you just decide to eat more food, then your body would restore its glycogen level and the water it retains. This ultimately means weight gain for you.
So, let's say that one day you have gotten so busy at work that you didn't eat ANYTHING until dinner. And for dinner, you had something light. If you were 200 lbs, then when you jump on the scale the next morning, you would see that you've lost 2, 3, or 5 pounds! You didn't lose fat. You just lost water because your body tapped into its glycogen supply for energy.
But on the next day, you had a day off work. You ate all day, mostly to celebrate for dropping so much weight overnight! Then you jumped on the scale the next day, and bam! You've gained 5 pounds!! What the heck?
So, now you're depressed and decide to eat NOTHING all day. Uh-oh, your body thinks it won't be getting any food for a while, so it's going to tap into your glycogen supply. So, on the next day, you hop on the scale, and wham! You've dropped 5 pounds! What in the world???
So, being happy, you decided to eat a little more. But on the next day after waking up, you jump on the scale and gained back 3 pounds! This is crazy!
You see, when your diet is irregular with you eating more on some days and eating less on others, then your weight will ALWAYS fluctuate. This rapid and significant weight-loss is from WATER, not from fat.
Really, it's harder to gain weight from fat than it is from water. It is also harder to lose fat than it is to lose water. You could lose 10 pounds of water in two days. It might take you one or two months to lose 10 pounds of fat!
If you lose a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time (like in one or two days) and you have NO idea how that happened, then that means you have NO control over your diet. In the same way, if you've gained a significant amount of weight in a short time and had no idea how that happened, you have no control over your diet.
Having no control over your diet means that you:
Now, let's say that you are eating regularly and that you do have control over your diet. But your weight is still fluctuating! Well, it's not just important to eat regularly, but it's also important to know WHAT you're eating on a regular basis.
If one day, you decided to eat a bunch of carbs (sugar and starches), then you are loading up your sugar pantry. This in itself is not a bad thing -- unless most of the carbs you're eating are from sweets!
But let's say that on the next day, you drastically cut your carbs and increased the amount of fat and protein in your diet. Fat and protein aren't the greatest sources for energy. Sugar is! So, even though you are eating very well, your carb intake is low, and the body needs carbs for energy. So, the body would tap into its glycogen supply for energy. This means a significant drop in your weight in no time!
But let's say three days later, you decided to increase your carb intake again. Yep, you know where I'm going! You would increase your glycogen supply and the water it holds. You would gain weight again.
Okay, okay, so you do have control over your diet, you do have a normal intake of carbs, fat, and protein. Yet, your weight is still fluctuating. Well, this would lead us to your water-sodium balance.
When you're eating food and taking nutritional supplements like vitamins or meal replacement shakes, you are getting a significant amount of sodium -- which is GOOD! Your body needs sodium. It helps regulate hydration in your body by making sure you don't get overly hydrated or under hydrated.
With all the sodium you're getting from regular, healthy eating, you also need to make sure you're drinking a significant amount of water. If your body gets a normal amount of sodium, but an ABNORMAL amount of water, then your sodium-water balance is off. Your body would RETAIN water to help dilute its sodium levels. Retaining water could also lead to high blood pressure as too much water in the blood puts too much pressure on the blood vessels.
However, if your sodium is LOW and your water intake is HIGH, then your body would release more water than it would normally do so your sodium won't be too diluted.
So, if one day you drank 10 full glasses of water (about 16 fluid ounces each) and on the next day you only drank ONE full glass of water and consumed a significant amount of sodium, guess what? You could gain weight because the body would retain water to keep your sodium level from getting too concentrated. You could also get puffy hands, puffy feet and ankles -- and just look like an overall marshmallow due to water retention. Your wedding ring would get tight suddenly, jeans get harder to put on, and people are just sticking their fingers in you to see if you'd pop like a water balloon!
Or heck, sodium aside, if you went for the longest time by drinking very little water and all of the sudden overloaded your body with water, then you would gain a significant amount of weight. Why? Because you were dehydrated for the longest time. Now that you're hydrating yourself, you'd gain a significant amount of weight -- and this weight gain would actually be a good weight gain. You don't ever want to lose weight because you were dehydrated.
See, there is probably nothing wrong with you. Simply focusing on how you're eating could most likely solve your weight fluctuation issues! Eating a healthy amount of food regularly each day and drinking a healthy amount of water regularly each day would prevent your weight from going all over the place.
One of the most common complaints I get in my fitness classes is that squats hurt the knees. I've always found this complaint somewhat incredible because squats are such simple, basic exercises that you CANNOT get away from, yet plenty of individuals complain of knee pain when performing these exercises.
Think about it: if you bend your knees, then you're doing some form of a squat. Sitting down on the toilet, in your car, or stooping down just a bit to see if the black spot on your kitchen floor is a crumb or a bug are all forms of squats. We squat everyday! Heck, if you have knees, then you WILL squat. So, how is it that when we do this everyday move in a fitness class, we start having knee problems?
1. You're Doing The Exercises Incorrectly
Okay, let's just first assume that you're doing something wrong when you're squatting. It's funny that when you don't think about it, you squat perfectly in everyday life. Yet once you get to a gym or exercise class, you would screw up your squats.
First, nobody squats with the torso upright. When you squat, your butt go back to your heels. This would cause your torso to slightly tilt forward and put your thighs parallel to the floor. Your knees would stay behind your toes. This is a normal, everyday squat that you do when sitting on the toilet.
However, come class time, people start squatting with their torsos upright. Instead of pushing the hips to the heels of the feet, they push their butts straight down to the floor as if dipping them in some sweet and sour sauce! Squatting like this would naturally push your knees past your toes, thus putting more pressure on the knees. Now, your knees are tough, durable devices that are designed to withstand a lot of pressure. But when your knees aren't in the greatest shape, then pushing your knees past your toes could hurt.
Now, do you sit down on the toilet with your torso upright? No? Then you shouldn't squat with your torso upright either. The only two times when you would squat with your torso upright are when doing a plie squat (as in ballet) or using a Swiss ball that lets you squat up and down against a wall with your torso upright. You typically don't use Swiss balls for squats during exercise classes, and doing plie squats aren't typical squats that you do in class. This would leave you to do squats the way you would do them at home.
2. Heavy Weight
Okay, so you are absolutely sure that you're squatting correctly. Even your fitness instructor agrees that your squats are perfect. So, let's assume that your knees aren't used to the amount of weight you're lifting.
In everyday life, you don't usually have any weight on you when squatting -- besides your own body weight. If you're in school, maybe you'll have a book bag. But you're usually squatting with no weight. So when you throw on any extra weight, even if the weight is VERY light, your knees could start hurting because it's not used to bending with extra weight on you.
Another thing that carrying extra weight would do is cause you to shift more of your weight to your toes, which would put more pressure on the knees. Instead of pushing your butt back to your heels so that your heels could bare much of the weight, you'll slightly bend your knees and start tilting your torso forward even more -- almost to the point where your torso is parallel to the floor. Doing this shifts your body weight and the extra weight to your knees and toes. Not only would you complain about your knees hurting, but the balls of your feet would hurt, too.
Obviously, the simple fix for this problem is to stick with body-weight squats instead of weighted squats. Once you've mastered the body-weight squats, then we could throw some extra weights for added resistance.
3. Repetitive Movement
Okay, so you're doing squats correctly WITH extra weights and you're convinced that's not the problem for your achy knees. Then maybe your knees are just not used to repetitive squatting.
Even though you squat everyday, you don't squat 100 times in one hour! If you usually sit all day long, then the few times that you would squat would be to use the bathroom, sit in your car, sit in a chair, or sit on your bed to lie down. In a fitness class, you're squatting over and over and over again and your knees are just not used to that!
Now, you could truly fix this problem by simply walking up and down the stairs more often. Walking up and down the stairs is a form of split squats (aka lunges) that require repetitive knee bending. If you ALWAYS take the escalator or elevator, then your knees won't be used to repetitive bending.
4. Knee Injury
Okay, so you've probably noticed that I've started with the best case scenario and gradually getting to the worst case. Getting an injury in your knees is a pain (really!), because unless you're willing to sit in a wheel chair until your knees healed, then you'd be repeatedly using your knees while they are trying to heal. This means a LONG healing journey for you!
What are some knee injuries? Tendinitis (tendons inflamed), bursitis (bursae balls in your knee joints are inflamed), torn meniscus (a disc that cushions your knees and keep your legs balanced), or torn ligaments (they connect bone to bone). If it hurts to walk, then you'd usually have a serious injury. If you get a sharp pain when you squat, then it could be a a knee injury.
Just because you have a knee injury, it doesn't necessarily mean you need to stop squatting. If the pain is unbearable, then of course stop squatting until your knees could heal. Personally, if I have a little pain, I won't stop squatting. I've actually exercised my way through pain before and I still healed up. Sometimes, as ironic as it sounds, exercising through pain MAY actually help heal the injury. Exercising through pain is conventionally a no-no, but then again, you know your body better than anyone else. Use your best judgment.
All right, here's the absolute WORST case scenario -- yet a scenario that could be easily fixed. First, note that "arthritis" simply means inflammation of the joints. It could mean bursitis, tendinitis, or any type of inflammation that's in or around any joints. Arthritis in itself could resolve itself with a little tender love and care.
Another form of arthritis is gout where uric acid crystallizes in your knee joints and gives you a stabbing sensation in your knees. There are plenty of fixes for this problem, but one quick fix is to take medication to help dissolve the crystals in your knees. Of course, this is just a QUICK and TEMPORARY fix. A more permanent fix is to find out why you're getting crystallized uric acid in your joints.
The worst case, however, is osteoarthritis, which actually has nothing to do with inflammation as does with DETERIORATION of the knee cartilage. In your knees, you have your thigh and shin bones connected together with ligaments to form the knee joint. At the ends of these bones are rubbery materials called cartilages. They keep the bones from grinding each other. With osteoarthritis, the cartilages wear away until they completely dissolve. Then you'll have bones grinding each other, causing intense pain that could be relieved with knee replacement surgery.
The good thing about osteoarthritis is that it CAN be reversed with weight-bearing exercises and glucosamine supplements. My father has given a personal testimonial about his knees. They were painful, but when he took glucosamine supplements, his knee pain disappeared!
Dr. Jason Theodosakis, M.D., wrote the book "The Arthritis Cure" where he strongly supports using glucosamine supplements to reverse osteoarthritis. Actually, it's really no secret that glucosamine supports cartilage health. In fact, your body produces glucosamine by mixing glucose and the amino acid glutamine to help your cartilage stay healthy.
As long as there is enough cartilage left, you could truly save your knees and repair your damaged cartilage. Now, to tell if you have osteoarthritis, you would have to get an x-ray. But if money is tight and you have no health insurance, then there is no wrong in playing it safe by taking high-quality glucosamine supplements.
AND if after reading these 5 reasons you still think your problem isn't solved, then perhaps you need an x-ray to find out what's going on. I'm pretty confident that your problem would be one of these five categories. Remember that your knees are TOUGH. They have to be as they bear about 90 percent of your body weight on a daily basis! Also remember that squatting is a basic, everyday movement that your knees were designed to do.
What's the key to living a comfortable life? Just live below your means.
Back in ancient times, during the times of Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians, not many people cared about gaining the entire world. Nobody lost sleep trying to get rich. True wealth was being able to provide all your basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Individuals back then built their own houses, grew their own food, made their own clothes, and taught their own children without public school education. Life to the average person back then was, you could say, pretty comfortable. People didn't work 100 hours a week in exchange for money. Most individuals provided for themselves.
In our current society, we're focused on riches: getting everything we want and more. We seek high-paying jobs so that we could buy a big house (that comes with a big mortgage payment), nice cars (that also come with a monthly payment), nice clothes, live in a good school district, eat out several times a week, save up for retirement, and then travel the world. Our standards of living are high! Whereas gaining wealth was once a simple matter of providing everything that you needed, gaining wealth today is a matter of gaining the whole world -- and even the universe!
You see, we're taught that if you really want to live the "good life," then you need to get as much money as possible. You need to get a nice job or start a business that could make you rich. But what we're not taught is that we could live the good life NOW if we would just simply live below our means.
What would happen if we dared to:
You see, you don't need a lot of money to get what you want. You just need to live below your means and to be resourceful.
In today's society, we're taught that we need to make as much money in the world to gain financial independence, travel the world, get the biggest house, and have a load of money saved for retirement. But now think about it. What do you truly need in order to survive? What do you really need in order to be financially independent? Do you need to make a billion dollars a year? A million? Heck, do you need to make six figures a year? That kind of money is luxury money: you don't need it, but it's nice to have. In fact, many things that we THINK we need aren't really needs: they are just nice to have.
We make fun of or talk poorly about homeless people. We think many of them are homeless because they want to be. Well, it's true! You have individuals who choose to be homeless. You think, "What kind of sick person would want to be homeless???" But think about the benefits: no rent/mortgage, no light bills, no job to worry about, and live anywhere you want. Go to a shelter if it's rainy or snowy outside and then go back out in the woods to live. It's just you and nature to think about, and if you're among fruits, veggies, and wild animals, you would have plenty of food to eat.
For the rest of us, we have to worry about bills, rent, car payments, grocery shopping, looking for a job, paying taxes, etc., etc. And really, all of these burdens aren't even necessary to have in life. If you have access to food, water, and shelter (be it a cave, a homeless shelter, whatever), then you're good to go. The rest of us are burdened with a ton of bills for the nice-to-have stuff.
Isn't it funny how God made you to not need a refrigerator, or central AC, or plumbing? However, because of our desire to have more and more and more, we've created necessities that really aren't necessities. You don't need a brand new car. You don't need air conditioning when you have windows. Want central AC? Open all the windows and your doors! Want central heating? Close your windows and doors!
Not only have we created unnecessary burdens, we've also disabled ourselves from providing what we truly need. Think about it: how many of you have a swimming pool or play set in your backyard instead of a garden? How many of you have a beautiful lawn in front instead of a garden? How many of you know how to grow food? If all the farmers in this country went on strike, we as a nation would be in trouble because so few of us know how to farm!
God made your bodies to be physically active, yet with all the convenience of the nice-to-have stuff, we've grown lazy and fat. Sorry to say, but why do we really need escalators or elevators when the building is only 2-stories high? Why do we need those funky moving floors that you see in the airport? It's like an escalator, but instead of taking you to another story, it just takes you from across the room. Why the heck can't you just walk 50 feet with your luggage?
When you think about the stuff that you have that you really don't need, it makes getting rich seem so, well, greedy!
We already know that you could live out in the woods with no problems. So getting an apartment, even a ratty one, would be a luxurious convenience. Moving into an apartment in a nice neighborhood would be like a luxurious resort. Getting a mansion is like owning Disney World! What do you need with all that luxury besides having convenience?
Now, am I telling you to live with the wolves or that you should give all your wealth away? No, I'm not. I'm giving you a different perspective on wealth so that you could perhaps not lose your soul over riches. Most of the things you have are for convenience sake, even if you're considered "poor." Unless you live with the birds among the trees, then you're living in luxury: running water, heat, AC, refrigerator to keep food from spoiling too fast, an oven to bake, a stove to fry, pots and pans to cook your food in, and you have no need to grow your food, hunt for animals, or go fishing. Even individuals who live in the projects of the ghetto would have the basic items that I've listed. You may not think you're living in luxury, but live out in the woods to fend for yourself and you'll see how many conveniences you have!
You are most likely living the good life already...either that, or you have the potential to do so if you would simply live below your means.
Stop stressing over the best-paying jobs, or the best residential neighborhoods, or the best colleges to go to. Focus on living below your means. Live simply. The person who is the happiest is the person who has the least cares in this world. The less stuff you have, the less stuff you could hold on to, and the less stuff you'd have to worry about.
BUT if you get rich, then that would be a bonus! Don't let riches be an excuse to increase your standard of living. If you were to lose your riches, you don't want to lose your peace of mind, too. When you're not attached to riches, you could truly live freely. When you're attached to material things, then you'll have all the stress that comes with them.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.