Real Food/Fake Food



From Parm Cheese cut with wood chips to fake Olive Oil to Sushi made from a product that makes consumers ill, author Larry Olmstead reveals in his new book how “fake food” is hurting consumers, hurting small producers, harming the environment, and how some food imports are controlled by crime rings. Take a listen here:

Biggest tip he gives to avoid this: Buy your food in a recognizable form. I’d add: buy local if possible.

See this post for more on “Franken Food”

Staying Fit While On The Road (In Your RV)



No need to pay drop in fees at the gym while you’re on the road in your RV.  With a few simple pieces of equipment you can continue your workouts in your RV, or outside at your site, if the weather’s favorable.

I brought some hand weights, resistance elastic bands, and a small ball along with us on our 30 day road trip. I also brought some workouts that were RV-friendly.

The elastic I threw over the bathroom door and put my hands through the handles. Pulling down with straight arms, I was able to do lat pulldowns.  Pulling down with  arms bent at the elbows and held close to my sides, I was able to work my triceps.

This elastic is a pretty versatile piece of exercise equipment.  By sitting down, legs extended, and looping the elastic over the bottom of my shoes and pulling it towards me, I was able to work the back of my shoulders (seated row).  Standing and stepping on the elastic, while holding the elastic in either hand, I was able to work the side of my legs by stepping sideways several times; e.g. step sideways in one direction 8 times, then back 8 times (which is one set) then do that 8 times total. (Not my favorite exercise).

Using the hand weights, I was able to do bicep curls and rotator cuff exercises.  I was able to do squats and arm work simultaneously by holding the weights in either hand and raising my arms to the side, front, or back, at the same time as I performed the squat.

Using no weights, or elastic, I lay on my side, legs extended, and did side leg lifts.  Flipping over on to my front, and positioning myself such that my upper body was raised with my hands flat on the floor, I was able to lift and lower my legs towards the ceiling with bent knee to work my glutes.   Similar to this video except upper body was raised:


Simple wall push-ups or floor push-ups work the pec area.

Using the small ball, which can be purchased cheaply at a dollar store, I worked my lower abdominals by lying on my back, with my legs drawn toward me and feet on the floor. I placed the ball between my knees and squeezed the ball.  Regular crunches work the side and middle abs.

To combat neck and shoulder tension, I lowered my shoulders several times. Another exercise that’s good for shoulder tension is to retract shoulder blades together (all that is required for that exercise is to pull your arms back, keeping them bent and at chest height).

Add in some walking, biking, or hiking for cardio and the fitness bases are covered.

The last days of our trip were some long hours of driving.  To combat stiffness I did what I termed “car aerobics”. I’m sure the other people on the road thought I’d lost it, but, in time to the music, I would move my arms out to the front, sideways, overhead, and I’d get my legs going too, moving them side to side or extending and pulling them towards me.

*Check with your doctor first before attempting these or other exercises. I’m not a fitness professional, just someone who likes to exercise.  Now, I’m off to my next home workout.

Sleep, Much?

Our cat Dexter (RIP since 2013)
Our cat Dexter (RIP since 2013)

Popular wisdom would suggest the more sleep you get in an evening, the better, right? Not so, say my respiratory therapist (who diagnosed and treated my sleep apnea) and some researchers. My therapist advised last week that between five and seven hours per night is the optimal amount; any more is actually harmful to your health in terms of your immune system. My own research found experts who disagree with his statement in terms of hours per night of sleep; most studies seem to indicate that adults should get between 7 and 9 hours and anything over 9 hours per night is detrimental to health in terms of increased risk for overweight, diabetes, stroke or heart problems.  It’s recommended that adults keep a sleep diary for a week or so. In it, record hours of sleep, how you feel upon waking, etc.

Who knew sleeping too much could be harmful to your health?

How much sleep is best for you? Let me know in the comments.


Depression and the Church

Yesterday, I read this article how church can help the depressed on how the church can love those in its’ congregation who suffer from depression.  While the points made in the article were good (educate yourself, listen, and pray), I felt the article barely scratched the surface of what the church can do to help those in need.  I’d like to add a few more points for consideration:

  1.  Eliminate Christian-ese and platitudes when talking with someone who’s depressed.  Comments like “you just need to get out more” or “if you just exercise, you’ll feel better” or “you’re not praying enough” or even “you have a demon inside you” are not helpful at all.  The depressed person wants to get better, no doubt about it, but simply has no resources within themselves to do so. Certain types of depression are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
  2. Cultivate ties with Christian counsellors experienced in treating depression. Have a list ready of psychologists  (including contact information) to provide the individual who is coping with depression.  If a person comes for pastoral counselling, something a pastor can do (since pastors are not necessarily trained as therapists) is to help the individual set up an appointment with a Christian therapist.
  3. If you are a friend to someone who is suffering with depression, know that while this may be a difficult time for you to be their friend due to their depressed state, try not to “dump” them (this happened to me…which hardly made my depression better).
  4. Have a guest speaker come in, such as a Christian counsellor, to talk about mental illness.
  5. Keep  a list of emergency phone numbers handy such as the local Suicide Prevention hotline. Take any talk of suicide seriously.
  6. Acknowledge the need for lament. Perhaps a sermon or two on lamenting would be helpful.
  7. Anyone else notice there seems to be a lack of authenticity in church; we all put on a plastic grin? Not only depression is hidden but all wounds, scars, shame, and flaws.   (If you really knew me would you still love me?)   This song by Casting Crowns says it much better than this post.

If everything is objective and there is no room for subjectivity (not relativity, but subjectivity), there is no room for true human experience. And so we are left denying our experiences, which are not always good ones, in the face of the hard objective truth that God is good. We’re often not really given the permission to do otherwise.

Quote From – Need For Lament


Your Container is Making You Fat…Or Is It?

[getty src=”140666605?et=5FXgI0OFTx1SI-XsryQ-jQ&viewMoreLink=on&sig=5FLAguqHrNSAx4Eap1BsH4JB5nND5onzoVHETyvuUXQ=” width=”507″ height=”338″] This post was originally written in 2009. (Source: “the Nutrition Action Healthletter, April, 2008) Apparently it’s not WHAT you eat, it’s the container you eat it in, that’s making you fat. So postulate researchers convened by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, who worry that the changes seen in animals exposed to BPA – the “bad” chemical in “bad” plastic containers (i.e. pop bottles, water bottles, the lining of cans used in tinned food, etc.) – may be linked to increased rates of obesity. They also wonder if this chemical could also be linked to increased rates of Type 2 diabetes, ADHD, early onset of puberty in girls, a decline in semen quality, and a host of cancers and other abnormalities. BPA is an “endocrine disruptor” and an “estrogen mimic”.  Apparently BPA was first studied in the 1930’s as a synthetic estrogen for women. But there’s no conclusive evidence the same is responsible. A second panel found the opposite and faulted the first panel’s research methods (injecting BPA into mice, which is not the way adults would ingest BPA). However, one thing both panels agreed on: BPA may cause brain and behavioral disturbances in young animals. Even though the jury’s still out on what this chemical does to humans, if you are concerned, ways to reduce your exposure to BPA include:

  • Avoid buying canned food;
  • Don’t microwave food in plastic containers;
  • Prepare or store food, particularly hot foods and liquids in glass, porcelain or stainless steel dishes or containers;
  • Don’t wash polycarbonate plastic containers (#7 on the bottom of the bottle or container inside the recycling symbol – if it’s labeled at all);
  • Use Tetra paks of soups, and other shelf stable products or buy fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.

(adapted from The US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences).

It’s possible that young children and babies that are exposed to BPA may have brain and behavioral abnormalities; however this is based solely on research done on young mice.It’s possible that BPA increases the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, contributes to obesity or other health problems but other studies found no effect.“To play it safe women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, infants, young children and adolescents should try to avoid BPA.” Again, this is great advice for a pregnant woman, or the young; however for anyone older who have already been exposed, and, if this chemical does cause all the health problems mentioned, it may be too late. I guess it’s like the saying goes “when we know better, we do better” but in this case, doing better may have come too late to do any good.

Now That’s Ironic

irony meter


Since last spring, I’ve been on a journey to try and improve my health by eating better,  and exercising more often.  Fifty percent of my diet is now fruits and vegetables, with protein and grainy carbohydrates rounding out the rest.  As a result, I’ve lost 30 pounds.

My quality of sleep improved in 2013 when I started using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea.

I got the flu shot as I do every year.

I have never had a sicker winter.  It’s been one virus after another. I am now on my third virus (head cold, mostly in my ears). My immune system clearly sucks.

Irony, you are a bitch.

Behind the Lens

Why I do what I do:


Sugar Beach, Maui, C. KS Dueck
Sugar Beach, Maui, taken by Far From Fundie

Behind the lens

or holding a pen,

my pain disappears,

it seems to end.


The focus required

for both to take flight

robs my illness of power

it seems to take flight.


Such creative endeavors

I forget I’m not

the girl without illness

the girl who’s fraught.


A sick chick no more

as I walk through that door

‘cuz a creative i.d.

has a hold of me.

*Research has shown healthy distractions such as hobbies help those with chronic pain and other chronic illnesses.

My Pitch Is Caught!

Animals can be a life saver for PTSD sufferers.
Animals can be a life saver for PTSD sufferers.

This is cool, my pitch to Geez Magazine for their animals issue has been accepted. I’ll be writing about animals as healers for those suffering from PTSD, both the combat & non-combat forms. It’s a long-form piece and first “real journalism style” piece I’ve done for them. The editor called my pitch “well thought out” and she “thinks it will make a strong piece for the issue.”

This was my pitch to them:

The Transformative Power of Animals on PTSD Sufferers and Others

Hi, I am pitching for the above noted issue. I would explore the idea of animals as healers. Included in my article would be the following:

1. Briefly describe (one or two paragraphs, at most) my own healing journey in which animals played a role — from the bunny I played with as a 12 year old in an abusive foster home (which thus provided brief respite from that abuse) — to the volunteer work I did at the Calgary Humane Society as a volunteer dog walker shortly after moving to Calgary in 1993, which helped assuage the loneliness of living in a strange city where I only knew one other person.

2. I would then expand the scope of the article outwards to focus on dogs used as healers and helpers for PTSD. I would (hopefully -to be confirmed) interview Andrew Sprague, who has a service dog for PTSD. His dog’s name is Flicka and, according to Andrew’s website, is the first service trained dog for those who suffer from non-combat PTSD (Andrew is a childhood sexual abuse survivor).

3. I would also weave information about PTSD (both combat and non combat types) and how animals are able to help with healing to the point that, according to “speed recovery from PTSD and help reduce reliance on medication.”

4. My article would also contain a statement from a therapist on animal benefits to abuse survivors, and a testimonial from a combat vet on how his PTSD service dog has helped him or her.

I believe my story is important to raise awareness that:

1) Service dogs for PTSD are not just for combat PTSD, as Andrew’s story will demonstrate.

2) By highlighting the benefits of having a PTSD service dog to a PTSD sufferer, this will help the lack of understanding and/or education that may exist about PTSD service dogs. This lack of understanding and/or education seems to be demonstrated by establishments such as restaurants and retailers who deny entry to persons with PTSD service dog.

I feel I’m qualified to write this piece as I have a writing certificate from the University of Calgary, I have been published in Geez magazine before, and elsewhere (please see this link for my list of publications:

Further, I have some personal experience with PTSD due to my abusive childhood. I have experienced the healing power of animals, having had pets most of my life.

Thanks for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


I am excited about writing this article.

Not For Sissies

Products I have used in the past
Products I have used in the past

The older I get, the less beautiful I feel.  Clearly I’m not dealing with this whole aging thing terribly well. And, the older I get, the more high maintenance my body becomes. I am not by nature inclined this way. The only promise I made to myself in my early years was to not use soap on my face. I’ve generally felt there’s always something way more interesting to do than slather on beauty products. This attitude made me kind of a slacker in my beauty “routine”.  That is, until lately.  My skin acquired more and more sensitivities through the years and it takes longer in the mornings to put myself together.  I have dermatitis / eczema on my hands and other body parts which results in my legs sometimes taking on a fish-scale like appearance.

I’ve got rosacea both on my face and eyelids (called ocular rosacea). This took my doctor well over a year to finally diagnose; apparently cheeks that are constantly red, a hallmark of the disease, is not rosacea, according to him. It wasn’t until the disease progressed to the appearance of plaques that he finally admitted it was rosacea.  More info on rosacea here:

Types of Rosacea - picture from
Types of Rosacea – picture from

To control the ichthyosis (the medical term for “fish scale disease”), this website recommends washing with a non-soap high fat content product, exfoliating and moisturizing every day (Every. Day. Are you kidding me?)

So recently I’ve amassed a collection of creams, lotions and potions. To which I receive no promotional fee from for mentioning them.

Rosacea products, both prescription and otherwise. Green-tinted moisturisers and primers help even out my skin tone, often resulting in a rather ghostly appearance. So, after I take the red out, I put the color back in with blush;  some days I ponder the irony of this.

Body wash, exfoliator, special hand creams, gel for the aches and pains. I need to use “free” laundry products or my skin reacts to either the dyes or perfumes.

A faithful flosser I’ve become, my dental hygienist is impressed.   After years of not flossing, an appointment showed something on examination that flossing would help.  She suggested I floss after every meal (!); I compromise by flossing daily.  Every other day there seems to be something in the news about a new study that shows that not flossing will either cause Alzheimer’s or kill you:

With the use of merchandise to take the red out, put the red back in, smooth and draw the eyebrows on, take the fish scales off, keep the irritation away, hide the gray, moisturize the body, color in the dark circles, disguise the effects having a chronic illness has and treat the aches and pains, I start to feel like my own science experiment.

Maxine understands.

hotflashes maybeolder

I’m 52 now and I better start to plan my bathroom renovation;  it’s going to need more storage. Extrapolation and indexing up means that, as the years go by, the products will only grow.

My Aunt Karmen was right:  getting old ain’t for sissies.  Or those with small bathrooms.

Note:  This post was originally written January 26, 2011,  and revised in 2014.