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$Monday: Free Fitness

Gym memberships and exercise classes can be motivating, but they are not necessary to live a healthy lifestyle . I've never had a gym membership or a fitness tracking device in my life, and I am a slimmer-than-average person with somewhat visible abs and a resting heart rate under 65. I do not diet, track, or count calories in or out. I don't even keep a scale at home--I check my weight infrequently, at medical appointments, because I know that weight itself is not a very useful measure of health. While I build movement into every day, I actually avoid doing anything too athletic or sweaty or high-impact because hard workouts exacerbate my anemia , making me less healthy and productive and attractive the harder I work. Having an ultra-ripped gym body or being able to perform human tricks of strength are not goals for me; I'd rather be healthy and feel good, and the difference between how I look now and how I look at peak athletic performance is marginal. Instead of strivi

TBT: Dandelions for Wine, Salads, Bees, and Beauty

Spring is coming! Soon the snow will melt for good, buds will emerge, birds will nest, and dandelions will decorate green lawns with bright yellow polka dots. Long ago, when I wrote the post below, I branded myself the "Recessionista Genie" and lauded the joys and benefits of an organic dandelion crop. Since then, the trend (at least in my kind of suburbia) has continued away from Hank Hill lawns and toward colorful, maximalist, slightly wild urban landscapes that support pollinators and healthier ecosystems. We are still all about the dandelion life. Dandelions for Wine, Salads, Bees, and Beauty I don't mean to brag or anything... but I have had a bumper crop of dandelions already this year. As all children under the age of five know, dandelions are pretty flowers. They are sunshiny yellow and signal the beginning of warm weather. Since the 1950s, the era of the suburban "postage stamp" Astro-turfy lawn, we have been taught to see dandelions and ot

$Monday: A Taste of My Own Medicine

Today I'm heading in to a clinic for a follow-up blood test to find out how anemic I am! I already know I have low hemoglobin, and today I get my ferritin checked. This has happened to me many times over the past couple of decades due to a menstrual condition that causes me to lose an abnormal amount of blood. A couple of times, I've been so anemic that I've been dizzy, extremely weak, prone to fainting, and experiencing hair loss. This time, nothing so dramatic happened, but I started to notice a little bit of fatigue, headache, mental fogginess, moodiness, and brittle nails, so I went in and took a blood test and--what do you know, it's time to go back on iron supplements. And put red meat back into my diet. My periods are not as bad as they were before I had my daughter, so I thought I could live on a mostly vegetarian diet. Other than the low hemoglobin, my blood is healthy; my diet rich in vegetable sources of iron (and sometimes cooked in cast iron!) and V

TBT: "Common People," Shatner Version

The year 2004 was all about William Shatner's cover of Britpop band Pulp's '90s hit "Common People." It's weird, it's confusing, it was made into a ballet performance, and we still don't understand why it's so good. It was all Ben Folds' idea; he produced the song and had Joe Jackson belt out the chorus and a youth choir finish off the dramatic crescendo behind the crunchy indie rock guitar. It's a rich old man sarcastically singing (or Shatnering, I guess?) the anthem of a poor young man whose frustration and bitterness and shame were apparently triggered by the presence of a beautiful, rich young woman who allegedly dared to express an interest, Marie-Antoinette-like, in the lives of the "common people." Original songwriter Jarvis Cocker struggled as a musician for a long time before "Common People" rocketed him out of the gutter and into a life of wealth and fame. At first, he seemed to describe the song's

$Monday: Get Out of the Bucket and Into the Sea

Don't ever settle down in a bucket of crabs. The people we keep around us have considerable power to motivate, inspire, and support us--or to drag us down. If you ever find yourself trapped in a bucket of crabby dragger-downers, remember that there are plenty of fish in the sea--and yes, some fish really have friends; this is not just a completely silly metaphor . Everybody needs healthy relationships, including some literal fish. So come on in, the water's fine! It is always painful to end relationships that aren't working for us, but that pain is sometimes necessary to get right with ourselves and redirect our energies toward healthier connections. As a person who struggles with anxiety, I know that when the world seems limited and small and stingy and lonely, it's an issue of my own perception, and it might also be exacerbated by my habit of hanging on to dysfunctional friendships longer than I should. It is important for me to remember that the world is full of

TBT: Choose Health

Remember the swine flu? Now we're talking about coronavirus . There will never be a time in our lives when there aren't any disease outbreaks, or when we don't have to care about pollution in our air, water, and food. We're all stuck here together on Cruiseship Earth arguing about things like whether to vaccinate or "choose life." Ultimately, none of our personal choices will matter if we all get taken out by plague or poisoning. So we need to choose health, together, collectively, for each other and for each other's babies, or else none of our individual choices will ever be worth a plastic bag in a whale's belly. Here's what I wrote back in The Time of Swine Flu: Choose Health Cultivate health from the inside out and the outside in! Everybody's talking about the swine flu, so I figure this is a good time to bring up the health situation for us un-wealthy folks. Part of the reason this flu has become such a problem is that people did