Category Archives: Shopping

What’s Different?

What is the difference between my current diet and the ones that I tried before? First of all, only time will tell how successful this diet will be. The purpose of this diet was to improve my digestive symptoms. I am currently in my tenth week of Gluten free dieting which includes a month without any grains. My stomach is finally beginning to feel better.

But one additional effect of this current diet is that I am losing weight. I again, emphasize, this was and is not the main focus of this diet. But, hey, I will take it. Since I need to lose weight anyway, it is a most welcome addition.

My previous diets were just a lessening of the volume of food and calories that I was eating before. Even increasing whole grains and fiber were part of those diets. I now understand the effect of glucose spikes in the blood caused by wheat and other grains. Two slices of whole grain wheat bread raise your blood sugar levels higher than a Snicker’s bar. This in turn creates an insulin reaction that ends up storing the sugar as fat.

Even though I was tracking my calories and eating less of them, I felt deprived. The wheat and grains caused me to be hungry and stimulated my cravings for starchy foods. I would lose weight for a short while, but as soon as I began eating again, the weight would come back on, and sometimes even more. I was caught in the same endless cycle that many people are in.

So what makes this different? Removing the wheat and grain from my diet has caused me to seek out other sources of nutrition, namely fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. Vegetables, especially, are low in calories but high in nutrition. You can consume several cups of baby spinach and broccoli and barely break 150 calories. I have purposely tried to keep my carbohydrates below 100g per day. I am eating between 90 – 150g per day.

Again, what’s different? Because of the food that I am eating, I feel fuller on less calories. I am not hungry as often. Since my blood sugar is being kept stable from the naturally low glycemic effect of most of the foods I eat, I avoid the sugar crash and subsequent cravings that come with it. I am simply not hungry all the time as I was in the past. That is be big difference when it comes to hunger.

My past diets made me hungry or feel deprived. I really didn’t feel much better, even when I did lose some weight. Since I have stopped eating grains, I have experienced many benefits, many unexpected. I knew about the brain fog, as it happened to me before almost after every lunch. I did not expect my energy levels to go up as much as they have. I did not expect my arthritis pain to go away. I did expect my stomach pain to go away, but it did not while gluten free, but is now much improved as I am grain free.

Yesterday, I took a 5.5 mile ‘forced march’ hike with my son. My joints did not bother me. I was a little sore when I got home but it wasn’t arthritis pain, it was a ‘dang, that was a hell of a workout’ kind of pain and it felt good!

Benefits so far: more energy; more alert; no arthritis pain; less hungry; less cravings; fresher foods; cooking adventures; better mood; and better sleep.

When I tell people that I am grain free, they sometimes ask, “Then what do you eat?” That is a very fair question. It is a question that I would have asked myself if someone told me they were grain free. Wheat, corn, soy and rice is in the majority of foods in the American diet. The diversity in the store is actually based on a limited set of ingredients. So once you explore the outside aisles you can begin creating vegetable and meat dishes that are not only delicious but very nutritious and healing to your body.

Is there a difference this time? You bet there is. I am feeling better in so many different ways; it is absolutely amazing how diet affects your overall wellness. Of course we know what you eat is important, but until you experience such a change in your life, you will never understand just how important.

My wish is for a better health, better foods, and a better life for you.

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Endangered Cashieria Walmartii

I saw one, no, I take that back. I saw two specimens of the endangered Cashieria Walmartii. They were in their nests, but sadly, the nearly two dozen nests around them were empty. Some of the other seers were waiting their turn to feed them. I am sure that each of the seers were wishing there were more. They appear to be on the brink of extinction. I am not sure what can be done to increase their population. They seem to be driven out by the growing flocks of Selfus Registerii.

Near my sighting today, I saw a flock of the Selfus Registerii. They were much fewer in number several weeks ago. The management of the retail park placed a large box on one end of the Cashieria Walmartii nests. It sported signs announcing new construction and remodeling. But it was not to be the benefit of the Cashieria Walmartii. Inside that huge box, the Selfus Registerii were breeding. They are not without their fans. They beeped much like the Cashieria Walmartii. The seers rewarded them by feeding them cards, slips of colored paper and round pieces of metal which they eagerly consumed. Just as the Cashieria Walmartii, the Selfus Registerii thanked their feeders with bits of white paper.

I hope that the Cashieria Walmartii will find a way to survive in the wilds of the retail park.

Marketing Christianity

   During my long commutes to and from work, I listen to a good amount of Christian broadcasts on normal radio and satellite. I find the various messages very interesting, especially the various interpretations on the same theme.

As expected, I hear marketing efforts for numerous churches and ministries. Some messages promote Christianity as the end all of all problems. Even I may be guilty of this occasionally. As pleasing as that sounds, it just isn’t as simple as the marketing would like you to think.

Joining a church will not suddenly make all your problems disappear. In the proper circumstances, it will surround you with people who care and provide emotional, spiritual, and sometimes tangible support. As it any endeavor, it takes courage to step away from the familiar, humble yourself and establishing new relationships. It takes time to establish new routines.  It takes time to gain wisdom and maturity in any new line of thought. We are naturally impatient so we may give up on good things sooner than we should. Then again, not all changes are good for us and we need to be attuned to that as well.

Another very popular marketing theme is the name-it-and-claim-it philosophy. I am not sold on this. I do not think that God is my personal butler or concierge that awaits my beck and call. I hope not. I hope that my God is much bigger than that.

As in all life, each day is filled with choices. It was every choice that we made that got us where we are. It will be choices that we make today that will determine where we are tomorrow.

I am not implying that all marketing of Christianity is bad, but as in the retail world, let the buyer beware.

Medical Adventure

While on an out-of-state vacation, I turned my ankle when I misstepped on a stair. It hurt but I thought it might get better on its own. Unfortunately, it was swollen the next morning, and even though it didn’t throb as much, I could barely stand on it. Theresa and I went to a local urgent care center called Patient First. I was very impressed with the place from the moment we walked in. There were two sign in terminals at the reception window which asked for basic information. It warned that if you needed emergency treatment, to abandon the form and interrupt the receptionist. I viewed this is an electronic triage device.

After only a few minutes, I was called in to show my ID and insurance card, relay my health complaints and sign papers etc. I was then escorted by a CNA to take my vitals. Immediately afterward, I was escorted to their on-site x-ray department. After three x-rays, the x-ray technician escorted me to an emergency-like room where I was met by a PA. The PA determined that I had indeed sprained my ankle. He prescribed an air cast, crutches, ace bandage and foot cover and medicine, all from their on-site pharmacy. If I had needed blood work, it would have been handled in their on-site lab.

As efficient as this was, it was not impersonal. The staff was very friendly. I felt that I received high quality service. Why am I writing this in my blog? Because, I have never seen a set up like this outside of a hospital. Our urgent care facilities where I live do offer friendly and quality service, but do not have on-site labs, x-ray and pharmacy facilities. Patient First seems to have found the balance between a hospital emergency room and a diagnosis clinic. I was very impressed.

Patient First is open 8am – 10pm 365 days a year, and can be utilized as a primary care provider. They operate 40 locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

Checkin’ Out Walmart

I am not sure if this happens in most Walmarts but I am getting frustrated with 22 checkout lines and only two cashiers on duty at 6PM. There are self-checkout stations, but I rather use a cashier.  There is one Walmart in a busy area that replaced all their self-checkout stations with 20 items or fewer speedy checkout lines. That certainly helps.

We do have wonderful Wegman stores that carry just about anything grocery you can imagine. They have plenty of employees and lots of customer service.

As a frequent shopper at Walmart, because it is more convenient when trying to squeeze lunch and shopping into one hour, I noticed the growing impact of their inventory reduction program that started as early as 2006. By 2010, I could tell that there was much fewer lines being carried. Sometimes the shelves were empty. My family began to shop more at Target, Aldi’s, Save-A-Lot and other discount stores. We do spend less at Aldi’s and Save-A-Lot but there are things from Walmart that I cannot get at the other limited inventory stores.

I was not surprised when Walmart announced that they were going to beef up their inventory. Now it seems that the product is back, but the cashiers are missing. I still like Walmart but I am getting more and more frustrated. I do not think I am the only one. I have witnessed customers running out of patience and leaving their carts by the line and walking out.

I realize that business is about making profit, but without good customer service, they will lose the profit that they covet so much.

A Save-A-Lot recently opened in our town. The management there is doing their best to anticipate the needs of the locals. They offer dry cleaning service drop-off and pick-up. I really admire the business partnerships that they are building to create more customer service.

As I said, I do like Walmart, but their concentration on the bottom line, in my opinion, is costing them much more than they think they are saving.

Just my two cents and I decide where to spend it.

Re-glazing

In preparation for readying our home for sale, we had the bathtub re-glazed. The technician prepared the area after we had moved out everything that was removable the night before. The walls were covered in paper and tape. A large exhaust fan was placed in the window.

The tub was stained by hard water and the finish was worn from scrubbing and traffic inside the tub. The technician washed the entire tub in acid to remove any buildup, stains and to prepare the surface to accept the new glazing solution. The process took about 3 hours. The results were very positive. The tub looked new again. It was if we had replaced it. I hope the new owners appreciate the brightness of the “new” tub.

This reminded me of a passage in the Bible, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  2 Cor 5:17 NKJV   Like that tub, we are stained, scarred, and our surface has been worn and will be subject to further wearing down. The Bible, its teachings, our experiences have prepared us to be cleansed, like the paper and tape. The blood of Christ has cleaned us, like the acid that cleaned the tub. The Holy Spirit indwells us, like the new glazing solution renewed the tub. We are a new creation.

So that makes us perfect, right? Not at all. We are still human and still imperfect. We are still subject to all the influences that surround us. The newly glazed tub will be used and worn down. But with much care, the tub can be kept clean and shining. We are like that. We need nourishment for our bodies, mind and soul. We need to care for ourselves and for others.

The Apostle Paul in the book of Romans expressed the difficulty in always doing the right things. He wrote: “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.” Rom 7:14-16 NIV.

When we realize that we can do nothing without God, we are new creations. We are and were and will be loved by God. We aren’t perfect and we won’t be. We should do good things because it pleases God, not out of fear of reprisal. Even Paul, who journeyed with Christ and was filled with the Holy Spirit realized that he still had his human nature. Like the tub, I would like to think that I am re-glazed. I know that I am imperfect and I accept that I am. There are those who feel that we must be perfect to gain God’s love, but that isn’t true at all. God loves us always. God may not always appreciate what we do but He loves us just the same. If we feel we have to earn God’s love, then we will forever be disappointed in ourselves and lose sight of the love that is always there for us. Each day, when we awaken, we have a chance to show the world that we ARE a new creation.

Take care, be well and stay safe.

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Inflation Grows as Packages Shrink

It really isn’t new, ice cream containers were reduced from a full half gallon to 1.75 quarts several years ago. Some have shrunk again to 1.5 quarts. Packaging is shrinking everywhere and at an increased rate. Yogurt containers hold just 6 oz instead of 8. Cereal boxes are getting smaller. Snacks are lighter in weight but not in calories. It is part of the hidden inflation that affects us as well as the more obvious forms of inflation. Inflation is growing everywhere despite assurances from the Federal Reserve that inflation either does not exist or is transitory.

With real annual income reduced for most households, manufactures have to be more creative in meeting their costs. By keeping the prices relatively the same but decreasing the volume, weight or count, improves their revenues. Many manufactures alter the physical size of the package little or create new internal packaging, such as changing the spacing so that a package now holds only 22 cookies instead of 24. Most of the time this is subtle enough to be easily accepted by the consumer.

So, if you think there is less in the package than before, you just might be right.

Let the Savings Begin

In an effort to be more financially fit, we began our trek into couponing in earnest today. We bought a coupon organizer with a coupon of course.  Today we saved $36 by combining store sales with coupons. Hopefully, we can figure out how to be effective couponers without taking up to much time. The extreme couponers that we saw on television seemed to spend inordinate amounts of time on the process. I do not foresee us whittling down a shopping bill from $200 down to $6 using coupons, but I do hope that we can lessen our overall expenditures.

I believe that our economy is healing, but that the recovery will be slow. I think it is a good opportunity for all of us to look at our finances and do the best we can to work towards financial fitness. This also includes small extra payments towards credit debt and increasing savings.

May this be a successful year for you. Let us not forget those that are struggling in the economy and try to help others the best we can, with money, time or other resources. God bless all of you.

Left, Right and then Left again.

    By now, most of us know that the highest price items in the market are usually at eye and chest level.  Our eyes just naturally look ahead.  Therefore, we have trained ourselves to scan the other shelves.  We learn to read from left to right.  We naturally scan the shelves from left to right and rest at the right side.  This is a perfect place to put the higher priced items of the less premium brands.  Before deciding on the product on the right, scan again to the left side to get a truer picture of the pricing.  Marketing science exploits natural behaviors.  It is best to be aware of the tactics so that you can be an informed consumer.

   Take care, stay well, and be safe.

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When 20+20=36

   No, I didn’t fail math and the marketers hope you didn’t either.  This  works when you approach  a sale sign that says, “Save 20% on this item! Today only, take another 20% off the discounted price!”

   “Wow,” you think to yourself, “I’ll save 40% if I buy this today.”

   So, you purchase this fantastic deal.  You check your receipt and find that it just doesn’t seem right.  But alas, it is.  You just didn’t realize that 20+20=36.  Our primo product here costs $100.  After the initial 20% discount, you pay $80.  This is simple and straightforward.  However, today, you get 20% additional discount “off the discounted price.”  That is the kicker.  You save 20% of $80, which is an additional $16 discount.  Your total discount is 36%.  The final cost of your primo product is $64, not the $60 you had expected.

   There is no deceit here; it’s just that you added the two numbers together in your head immediately, which is exactly what the marketers wanted you to do.

   This is not wrong, nor is it a bad deal.  Just be aware of the tactics that marketers use to separate you from your money.

   Take care, stay well, and be safe.

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