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Helllooooo out there!

You may have noticed a short absence. This is because I have been trying desperately to get everything up and running properly. There will be a new post soon about Posh Pads (this week sometime for sure). Thanks for hanging in there :o)

It’s Not Better Just Because the Label Says Organic

Finding decent quality snack items can be a challenge for me. The problems stem from a combination of eating breakfast really early in the morning, eating lunch early, but then eating dinner late. This, in combination with the fact that I get bored with food easily, makes finding a healthy afternoon snack difficult.

Therefore when I was shopping at a local co-op and came across these:

I was absolutely thrilled. I thought it looked great, it’s organic, I found it at a local co-op, YAY! So, I purchased a box. In case you’re wondering, yes, I had my phone on me, and yes, my Fooducate app was working. I was just so excited that I thought I found something healthy, I immediately grabbed it.

My husband and I had a few when we got home. It tasted… ok. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. Then it occurred to me that I had a bag of the standard issue Goldfish leftover from a trip we took back in February. So, having regained some senses, I compared the two labels.

Huh. That's interesting.

Nutritionally, they’re basically the same except that the serving size on the Goldfish is just a little more, Goldfish has one more gram of protein, and Goldfish has two grams of fiber. They are the same in terms of caloric values, but Goldfish wins in terms of lower sodium, but Annie’s wins in terms of lower overall fat.

Now that I was thinking clearly, I busted out Fooducated and scanned them both:


Fooducate gives Annie’s a B-, and Goldfish a B, confirming what I had already suspected.

The point I’m trying to make here is that just because a label says organic, and just because the ingredients for a particular item all say organic (the ingredients list for Annie’s basically claims to be organic everything), doesn’t necessarily make it a healthier option because at the end of the day, it’s all processed. Don’t fall into the buzzword trap like I so embarrassingly did.

WOOLY ROUNDS Dryer Ball Review+Giveaway

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. I’m sure most people have heard this time and again. Therefore, when I heard about dryer balls and how they supposedly cut down on drying time and are as effective as dryer sheets for making clothes soft, I was of course skeptical. I didn’t think there could be a reusable product that didn’t contain chemicals that were this great because honestly, dryer balls look too good to be true.

Really? THESE help drying time?

My husband and I were even more skeptical when we actually saw the WOOLY ROUNDS (above) dryer balls that were sent for review. See, the theory goes that the balls bounce around in your dryer and work to separate the clothes (to prevent the clothes from becoming a big ball in the dryer) to allow for better air circulation, thus reducing drying time. I wondered how this could *possibly* be true because it seems that the balls aren’t heavy enough to actually do anything to separate wet clothes, and they would just end up contributing to the big ball of clothes. So, me being a scientist, I put these to the test and designed an experiment so I could see for myself.

WOOLY ROUNDS Put to the Test: The Experiment

The tag on the storage bag of WOOLY ROUNDS had a bold claim:

We'll see, WOOLY ROUNDS. We'll see.

I was sent a set of 4 WOOLY ROUNDS in a drawstring storage bag (above) for the review. I took a normal load of clothes that we would run any day and put it in the washer and in the dryer without the dryer balls. One dry dryer ball weighed about 75 grams according to my food scale. I hypothesized that they would make no appreciable difference in drying time of a standard load of clothes.

The load of test clothes (above) was composed of:

-9 t-shirts

-2 pairs of jeans

-3 pairs of pajama pants

-1 pair of swim trunks

-2 pairs of my husband’s underwear

The clothes were washed and rinsed like normal, and put in the dryer. We set the clothes to dry on a 60 minute cycle and checked for dryness in 10 minute intervals, and after 60 minutes the clothes were still not completely dry. Patches of shirts, pockets of jeans and pajama pants, and random patches of pajama pants were still mildly damp.

The same load of clothes were worn again (in similar situations and doing similar activities) as the control (no dryer ball) trial and washed again with the same wash temperature settings, same detergent, same washer and dryer, and same dryer temperature settings. The clothes were again set on a 60 minute dry cycle and checked for dryness in 10 minute intervals throughout the cycle.

The clothes were completely dry with no dampness detected with 14 minutes to go in the cycle. I repeat: the dryer balls helped drying time by about 14 minutes. We repeated the process with various loads of clothes throughout a 2 week time period, and got basically the same results (14 minutes ended up being the average time savings across all of our loads of clothes).

Now, for one load, that doesn’t seem like much at all. But if you think about how many loads of clothes are washed and dried in a week (or even a month), that adds up.

**We typically wash 3 loads of clothes in our house per week, so that adds up to a time savings of 42 minutes. Assuming there are 4 weeks in a month, that’s 168 saved minutes in the dryer, which is almost THREE HOURS. In that 3 hour time savings we could dry another few loads of clothes!**

Drying Time Rocks, What About Softness?

My husband and I used dryer sheets all the time with our old dryer, but since we read that build-up can occur due to the melting of the softener on the sheets we decided not to use them in our new dryer. Since we haven’t been using dryer sheets at all for the last several months, I can’t compare the softness of the clothes after using the dryer balls to the softness of the clothes after using a dryer sheet. However, I can definitely say that the wool does a great job of softening the clothes compared to not using anything at all.

How Do They Work?

During one of the loads of clothes over the course of the 2 week review, I pull the balls out of the dryer after about 30 minutes to test dampness. Everything that I had read about wool says that they can absorb water readily. A dry WOOLY ROUNDS ball weighed 75 grams, but a damp WOOLY ROUND weighed about 110 grams. My theory is that the balls absorb water from the clothes, but because of the nature of the balls they dry faster than the cotton clothes and that’s why the drying time is reduced. Therefore, the more WOOLY ROUNDS you have, the quicker the drying time because the more water is getting absorbed by the dryer balls.

For fun, we tested them against some plastic type of dryer balls. The plastic balls (below) made absolutely no difference in drying time, lending credence to the water absorption theory.

Additionally, it’s possible that as the WOOLY ROUNDS gain water weight, they are working better to pull the clothes apart because I think the heavier they are, the more effective they are at preventing a laundry ball. I have a dryer that has a clear door (unfortunately reflection prevented decent pictures), and I could see the clothes spread out more. I tried to take video  to compare the two drying cycles, but again, reflection prevented this.

Would I Buy WOOLY ROUNDS?

In short, I would absolutely purchase and recommend these. WOOLY ROUNDS are made right here in the USA from wool made at Bartlett Yarns, also in the USA. They are natural and don’t leave a weird film on clothes like dryer sheets do. They are safe for cloth diapers as well!

We hung the bag on the wall of the laundry room so that we can pull each ball out as we unload the dryer. I’m afraid that if I were to accidentally drop one on our way to the bedroom with the clothes that our puppy would find it and think it’s a toy. One of my favorite aspects is that they come in all kinds of fun colors. If you know anything about me, you know that bright, colorful things are important to me. The colors don’t bleed either! I have found no evidence of color bleeding on any of our clothes.

Do You Want Some WOOLY ROUNDS?

You can invest in a set of  WOOLY ROUNDS on their website for $8.00 per ball, or in packs. A pack of 3 WOOLY ROUNDS costs $22.50. The funds invested in WOOLY ROUNDS would be made up quickly in energy savings.

WOOLY ROUNDS has generously offered to give away a set of 3 dryer balls so that more people can benefit from the drying time savings! To enter just fill out the Google form below. The giveaway ends 4/14 at 11:59PM CDT. The entries with the red stars are mandatory. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada only.

Here are the links you will need to complete the form:

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Website Under Construction

It seems that purchasing a domain and hosting and getting all set up on your own website isn’t as easy as it looks. When I did the months of research on all of this, it seemed like you purchase a domain, then find a hosting site, then download WordPress, then blog away! I had no idea about all the small technical stuff that goes into this.

Anyway, I have a review and giveaway going up later today, and it was my goal to be moved over in time so that I could post a Rafflecopter giveaway. Instead, it looks like it’s going to be a Google Doc giveaway because I can’t get everything set up.

Therefore, there will be no Fitness Friday this week as I have had my hands quite full all week long. I’ll post a belated Fitness Friday on April 1st.

If ANYBODY has ANY advice on getting Web Disk, FTP, or anything to work on a Mac, I really, really need to hear from you. Thank you!

Fitness Friday

I skipped last Friday because I was in a wedding that day, and we were swamped all day with wedding stuff! It was fun, but it didn’t leave me any time at all to blog. So this FF is for two weeks.

Diet

Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels. Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels. Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.

As long as I keep repeating this to myself, I’m fine. The reality I’m dealing with is that I can’t stand the taste of veggies (I’m not kidding… this is complete with gagging and throwing up in some cases. Dramatic, I know, but it’s the God’s honest truth) and I love sugar (like most people do). I’m doing all I can to train myself to eat better food, but this is way more challenging than I thought it would be. One challenge that I’m facing is that as a Catholic, we really aren’t supposed to eat meat other than fish or other types of seafood on Fridays during lent, but finding good, reliable fish around here right now is difficult. However, I need the protein because I’m working out so much. This tradition normally gets ignored, and I eat chicken.

One other challenge I’m facing is that I discovered that I’m not eating enough calories in a day. Furthermore, I’m not eating enough of the RIGHT calories in a day. IF I get the right amount, that’s great, but it’s not great if the right amount is coming from cookies and brownies.

I’m trying to overcome the vegetable thing. I have managed to get myself to the point where if the vegetable is chopped up into super small pieces and mixed into whatever I’m eating, it usually goes down better. This includes salads- if the broccoli is left in big chunks, I can’t eat it. If it’s really small though and mixed with the spinach (that I love), it goes much better. I’m great on fruits though because of the sugar, so I actually need to scale back on those. I still love the green smoothies, although I have discovered that without banana, it tastes much more vegetable-like.

So, I need to work on eating the right amount of the right food. Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.

Fitness

Amazingly, I’m doing awesome with fitness. Due to the medical problems I have (thanks in large part to being fat), I really thought this was going to be an issue. I figured out though that the less I move, the harder it is to move. So if I can get up and immediately go eat breakfast then work out, I set myself up for a day of movement. However, if I’m lazy that day and don’t move, it’s harder to do so later. I’m trying to change my morning habit so I can get into a routine.

One of the ways I’m accomplishing this is to consult my at home strength training flashcard deck. I know there’s a snazzier name for them, but for now, they’re my flashcards. The idea for these came about as a direct result of me being bored with doing the same workouts for days, and having too many workout at home bookmarks on my computer. So, I decided to print out all of the articles.

This isn’t even all of them, actually. They come from a wide variety of sources, from blogs to magazine articles, to random pieces of advice given to me. Anyway, I cut all the workouts out from the printed versions of the articles, and taped them to a large index card.

I put the body part (or parts) that each exercise focuses on, the source of the article, general instructions in terms of reps and sets, a picture from the article if available, and the instructions for each exercise from the article.

I feel that working out while consulting a card is way more efficient and less cumbersome than trying to maneuver my computer into place so I can read the screen while trying to do these. I included the body areas targeted by each workout (remember, the more large muscle groups worked at once, the better), the source of the article (many came from Prevention or Self), and instructions in terms of sets and reps. I cut out a picture of the exercise being performed and the exercise instructions from the articles themselves.

Once this was done, I ended up with a stack of about 130 cards with one exercise on each one. I have about an hour set aside each day, and I simply select two or three cards to do that day in addition to my 100 push ups challenge and cardio.

Now, I’m not delusional. I know that these alone aren’t going to get the job done by themselves, and that’s ok. My goal with these is simply to get up and do something, which sets me up for an entire day of healthy movement. I look at them as a warm-up to my day. An hour of these with a good stretch afterward really works well for me. I always add my walk/jog with the dog at the end of the day and I do the challenges from my Leap Into Summer group as well.

Goals for Next Week

I am going to take my measurements again and get on the scale. I have been a little weary of the scale since my four pounds incident, but I think I have done well enough now for some weight to have come off. In terms of diet, my goal is still to eat the right amount of the right calories of mostly veggies, healthy carbs, and protein.

Another goal for next week is to not drink any soda. None. I HAVE to drink more water, and the only way that’s happening around here is if the soda isn’t even a choice and water is.

I would also like to really keep a great log of my 21 Day Weight Loss Challenge points next week as well.

Have a Fitness Friday blog post? Head over to the Fatty Friday post at Going Crazy, Wanna Go?! link up with us! 

Pseudo-Wordless Wednesday

 

Just a Quick Update

It occurred to me the other day that the blog has basically turned into me just posting a bunch of Wordless Wednesday and Fitness Friday segments. I promise though that that’s not all I have!

I’m in the process of testing  Wooly Rounds wool dryer balls (as we speak actually). The test results/review and a giveaway will be up shortly! I’m also working on reviews for 100 Push Ups review and Eco Nuts. With any luck, the Eco Nuts and the Wooly Rounds will be this magical laundry dynamic duo that I have been missing. We shall see.

Also going up this week or next week will be a post about compost, because I need some guidance.

 

Pseudo-Wordless Wednesday

 

 

This is a view of the skyline as seen from my hotel room in Austin, Texas on one of my most recent trips home. The city has changed a lot since we first moved there in 1990, but I still love it (and miss it) nonetheless. If you haven’t been, it’s a great place to visit.

Four Pounds

This blog is about sharing my successes AND struggles in getting healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Well, here’s a struggle for you all:

I gained four pounds. I know I shouldn’t be surprised after that horrific week I had, but I GAINED FOUR POUNDS. Well, at least my scale says I did. I’m not quite sure if it’s the sodium and I’m retaining water really bad, or if I really have gained four pounds, or what.

Are there any tips out there on maintaining a consistent workout schedule? I’m asking because apparently that’s my biggest problem. I’m great for one or two days, then one bad day happens and I can’t seem to recover from it quickly and just jump back into my normal routine.

There is NO room to mess around this week. I *must* keep right on track with my points in the  Mommy Blogger Weight Loss Challenge (<— this is the name of the program. I swear I’m not making random capitalization errors). I walked all day today (I have a friend in town so we went sight seeing) and managed to skip the fried onion appetizer at dinner. Green smoothie tomorrow for breakfast I guess and we’re grilling chicken for dinner tomorrow with some sort of quinoa and veggie based salad. I was going to add more workouts, but honestly I think I need to work on getting the nutrition down to a science first and then slowly add more workout routines. Walking/jogging with the dog for several miles every day, and the 100 push ups challenge will have to suffice for now. After all, no amount of exercise will compensate for a bad diet.

I’m also buying new shoes tomorrow. Mine are starting to actually cut (literally) my feet and that’s just not going to work for me.

Fitness Friday

Well, week 1 of the 21 Day Mommy Blogger Challenge is over. I didn’t do so hot on the points, mainly because I was downed by a massive migraine headache most of the day Wednesday (hence the lack of a Wednesday post) and the morning half of Thursday.

Tuesday was the worst day though. I was buried under a mound of paperwork so much so that I got about 2 hours of sleep Monday night, and just never went to bed Tuesday night. It really brought me back those all-nighters I pulled as an undergraduate trying to study and get everything done.

Diet

At about 10 o’clock or so Tuesday night I finally got out from my little circle of personal hell that I set up for myself (read: I crawled out from underneath a pile of papers) and went to go cook dinner. We had no veggies, no eggs, no fruit, no Greek yogurt, no cereal, no quinoa, no couscous, nothing. We literally had nothing healthy with which I could make dinner, and to make matters worse, my husband left early Monday morning on a work trip for the week, so sending him to the store wasn’t a choice. I had NO time (literally… I got the paperwork scanned and emailed at 8 o’clock Wednesday morning, about 10 minutes before I had to walk out the door) to go to the store and cook, so I went through a drive-thru.

I don’t even feel guilty about it. I literally feel 0 guilt for hitting a drive-thru. It was too late to hit up a Subway, and it was just one of those things. However, I did learn a lot about what to do if I ever find myself in that situation again (and I will, I’m extremely busy). I learned that I HAVE to have stuff around for a quick snack. I just have to. Drive-thrus, while fine for that one time, are NOT a good solution.

Even though this week was what I would consider a setback more than anything, I did manage to find some really great recipes. Last weekend somebody in my LEAP Into Summer group posted a really awesome recipe for a frozen banana that I modified. This is the modified recipe:

-2 TBS plain greek yogurt

-1/8 tsp. vanilla (I used my homemade vanilla)

-cinnamon to taste

-about 4 or so strawberries

-walnuts

-parchment paper or some other non-stick surface

I took the strawberries and make a strawberry puree with my food processor. I blended it up until I got it pretty smooth, and added it to the greek yogurt, vanilla, and cinnamon. Coat half a banana with the yogurt mixture, sprinkle on some finely chopped walnuts, and freeze on parchment paper from anywhere between 20-45 minutes (depending on how frozen you actually want it).

It's not chocolate cake, but it'll do.

This is before I tried it with the strawberries. See, I can’t stand the taste of greek yogurt or veggies. I can’t STAND it. So I have to come up with some seriously creative ways to mask the taste, although I’m starting to like the yogurt a little more each day.

This snack was amazing. It’s not chocolate cake, but it’s pretty darn close. The strawberries really complemented the taste of the banana, the walnuts added just that little bit of crunch, and the greek yogurt made it just tangy enough. It was delicious. Too bad I ran out of bananas by Monday or else I could have had one of these Tuesday night.

Another great tip I got was to puree some fruit, mix it with greek yogurt, then load the yogurt into a baker’s piping bag (or at my house a plastic bag with a corner cut off) and make little yogurt drops. Freeze them, then you can just pop those as a snack. I’m going to try those next week.

I made more green smoothies as well. I tried adding more spinach and yogurt, and it was still amazing.

Fitness

Two words: wall sit. Best quad workout I have ever found. I did a 30 second wall sit over the weekend and I really, really felt it the next day (and, admittedly, the day after that). More in-shape people I’m sure could do much longer wall sits, but I really hurt after just 30 seconds. My goal is to work toward being able to do a minute long sit. A wall sit, in case you have never heard of this, is basically doing a squat where you end up with your thighs parallel to the floor. The difference is that instead of coming back up, you hold it with your back against the wall for as long as possible.

I started the 100 push ups challenge as well this week to hopefully get my arms toned, and added tricep dips into the mix. I hate tricep dips, but that’s mostly because I haven’t been able to find a bench or step in the house that’s the right height yet. I have been using the couch, and that’s just not the right height.

Goals for Next Week

I didn’t get to work out 4 days this week though. I just ended up running out of time with unexpected work, then once everything got done I was felled by the migraine from hell. So, my goal for next week is to keep up with the points better from the mommy challenge, continue with the push ups challenge, and try to add in more of a core workout. Push ups and wall sits, calf raises, and tricep dips are great, but they’re doing nothing for getting my core in shape.

I would like to add in a daily walk. Usually my husband takes the dog for a walk, but I think I’m going to make it a daily family trip.

A challenge for next week is that a friend of mine is coming into town tomorrow and staying through Tuesday, then I’m going to central Texas for a wedding next weekend. I am going to give it all I have to stay on track and get my 4 days of exercise in.

Have a Fitness Friday blog post? Head over to the Fatty Friday post at Going Crazy, Wanna Go?! link up with us! 

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