Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How to make big bones

I hate creating titles for blogs. I just don't think I'm good at it. But today I'm excited for the multiple meanings of this title. First, if you want to become 'big boned' it's really easy, stop exercising, watch lots of television and eat what is advertised on the television. That wasn't one of the main meanings that I was thinking of.

One topic that I want to address is how to make big 'bones', you know, like money. So how do you make a lot of money? OK, so maybe the title wasn't that great because I don't want talk about get rich quick schemes or finding the job that pays a lot of money. I want to talk about how to pad your savings account and accumulate money. Here's the secret, make more than you spend. I hope that was obvious to everyone. Here's a little video to illustrate the point (A friend and his little family recently brought this clip to my attention). You may want to visit that site, his family is going 'car lite' for the next month and sharing their experiences. Provide them encouragement.

Generally when we talk about getting rich, we talk about making more money, but I don't think that's how it is done. If you look at the sports and music stars that file for bankruptcy after their moment of fame it becomes evident that making a lot isn't the whole story. You also have to spend less. I would even argue that being conscious of what you are spending and working to minimize your expenses will work better to save money than making more money. I know that it doesn't make sense, and while I understand the math of it and know that if you make more you have the potential of saving more, but I don't think that's is the way human nature works. When we start making more we feel entitled to more stuff, so we spend more. So what I'm saying is that if you want to be a millionaire (and I don't know why anyone would want to be), the secret is to spend less, not necessarily earn more.

Now comes the final part of making big bones. This is quite literally about how to make your bones stronger. When you think of building strong bones what is the first thing that you think of? Probably calcium. The milk industry has gone through great efforts to encourage us to associate milk and calcium with bone health. It has been effective, although not entirely true. While calcium is certainly a major contributor to bone health and milk is a great source of calcium, there is far more to the equation. Did you know that you can lose calcium from your bones? Of course you can. Just like with saving money, it's not only about making more (taking more calcium), the key really lies in spending less (losing less calcium from the bones). So how do you lose less calcium? Two things, diet and exercise.

First, I will talk about diet. Your body goes through extreme lengths to maintain the pH at a neutral level. If the body becomes too acidic it can use calcium bicarbonate to neutralize the acidity. Calcium bicarbonate comes from bone. That means less bone and weaker bones, osteoporosis, you know the deal. So what foods are acidic? Let's start with the obvious, colas. caffeinated or not, the carbonation in sodas renders them fairly acidic. Less obvious, but also quite potent foods that acidify the body are processed meats like Salomi, Bologna, hot dogs, lunch meats, etc. Other contributors to an acidic diet are processed foods like all of the packaged garbage that fill the supermarkets. While these foods are not as acidic as other foods, it is important to consider the quantity of these foods that people eat. People live on instant dinners, potato chips and processed foods from the store.

So what is basic? What foods contribute to an alkaline diet? I'll give you two words. Fruits and vegetables. I know that the old 5-a-day bit is getting old and we've heard it all before (and continue to ignore it), but here is yet another reason to consumer at LEAST 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

The other major contributor to bone health is weight bearing exercise. The important part of that is that it needs to be weight bearing. As much of an advocate I am for cycling, cycling is actually really bad for bone health (but easily compensated if you do other exercises and eat right). So what are the good exercises? Walking, running, weight training (probably the best), tennis, racquetball, jumping. My wife hurt her back recently and as soon as she's back in proper working order we're going to institute a 10 jumps morning and night routine. It's nothing big, but when is the last time you jumped? Most people just don't jump much after childhood. What better way is there to provide an impact to the bones in the body? OK, there are other great ways, but I think that jumping 10 times in the morning and 10 times at night will provide far more of a bone building stimulus than most of us currently get. They actually tried to conduct a research project on that here, but they couldn't get middle aged women to conform to the protocol (jumping 20 times a day).

So here are the two points I wanted to make in this post. #1 Don't believe everything that you hear in advertisements, in schools or from friends. Many companies make a lot of effort to keep you spending money and buying their products, they want you thinking in a specific manner and have many powerful tools to do so. There are lots of ways to do without products. #2 Life isn't always about more, bigger, better. There are times (MANY times) when less is actually more. Less expensive, more simple foods are healthier (not the junk 'health' foods that are marketed in stores). Doing with less actually can have big dividends in the end.


Johnny said...

I'm not trying to knock fruits and veggies, I can't get enough of them, but aren't a lot of fruits acidic? I mean don't oranges and lemons have lots of citric acid?

sans auto said...

Yes, lemons and oranges have citric acid, but they also have alkaline parts like the membranes and flesh. I remember quite clearly learning that lemons and oranges actually have a net alkaline load on your body. So even the 'acidic' fruits are basic... I don't know if the same is true for fruit juices.

The Woulfes said...

it's funny how true that SNL skit is. The mentality of our society has taught to just feed our paychecks into the revolving door. Spend what you make, or maybe better yet, spend as much as you can.

There was a series of articles in the NY Times about people in debt (sorry no link) that discussed a lady who spent more then she earned for almost a decade before it caught up to her. I suppose it's a tough habit to to break, especially when our nations leaders become the "drug dealers" (of course refering to Bush's infamous go spend money speech)