My first week with a fitbit force!

Fitbit force is a wireless watch/ wristband which tracks activities plus sleep. I received mine as a birthday gift a few days back. So far, I’m very pleased with my fitbit. I am enjoying reviewing the stats and I’m looking forward to seeing progress over time.

I can now easily track my day: how many steps I’ve taken, distance, calories burned, active minutes and number of stairs climbed.

The fitbit also tracks my night: hours slept, times woken up and sleep quality. All my activities are accessed in an instant by a click on the wristband and/or in the app. You can also use the fitbit as a watch as it shows the current time as well.

bild (2)It is amazing to see all the statistics and reflect on your daily routines. The default target is 10 000 steps and I’ve come to the realization how I only seem to accomplish that number on the days I’m out running.

I clearly need to walk more doing my daily errands. The truth is that I’ve biked a lot but started to use the car more and more, so for me it’s a timely wake-up call.

Writing the previous post on my grandmothers habits also made me reflect upon the change in lifestyles. Grocery shopping by foot not only strengthens your heart but also your arm muscles on the way home!!!

The only downsides (apart from the ugly name!) so far is how the band has fallen off by accident a couple of times. I hope it won’t happen again as it forms better to my wrists. I have also changed to wear it on my left arm instead, hoping it will be safer as I don’t use it as much right arm for carrying kids, bags  etc…

I will be updating this post as my fitbit journey progresses!

Any more fit bit users out there? Let me know your experiences and share your stats!

Read more: www.fitbit.com

 

 

 

the name

How to live to a hundred and beyond!

“Key lessons from the sustainable life of a beloved centenarian”

 bild mormor 100

My grandmother Göta recently turned 100 years old (!!!). In connection to her Big Birthday, I received frequent questions about her diet and way of living. I found myself giving many negative responses:

“Does she eat a lot of vegetables? No” , ”Is Greek or Turkish yoghurt part of her diet? No” , “Is she a non-drinker? No ”, “Has she conducted any sports? No” and so on and so on…

 

 

 

 So what is her secret?

 

As I see it, the lifelong practices contributing to her longevity are:

- A strict diet consisting of the following main ingredients: potatoes, white flour, meat, sugar and lots of butter. I spent most of my childhood years in her house and never saw her prepare a salad, but hundreds of cakes and cookies.

- Her daily routine of cooking and baking everything at home. No fabricated food, no cake mixes, no additives or E-numbers. Instead pure food always made from scratch.

- Her ways of always staying on her feet. I cannot recall my grandmother sitting down other than for eating at the dinner table. At the age of 90+, she still tied her shoe laces while standing up on one leg. And she always, always bent down to correct a misplaced fringe/tuft on interior rugs.

- Her good (and environmentally friendly!) habit of always walking everywhere: to the grocery store, to the post office, to pick me up at school and to visit her other grandchildren. About 15 years back, she accompanied me to the forest to pick cloud berries. Everyone who has ever gone on such an adventure knows these particular berries grows in high elevated marshlands far away from most roads…

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- Her amazing physical strength, set aside some problems with her hips from around age 80 and onwards. As a young girl, I always heard these stories of how my grandma used to arm wrestle my grandfather’s colleagues from the mine and always won. Needless to say, all my own attempts have always ended in brutal failure…  But then I wasn’t raised in a farm house in the middle of the wilderness of northern Sweden with no road access, having to catch my own bird for dinner a’ la the Hunger Games.

 

 

- Her mental strength. A stubborn woman with strong views, not afraid to share them with everyone whom she thinks needs some clear guidance on everything from behavior to the latest fashion trends. She has also had an amazing ability to lift herself back on track when life has been rough: Deaf from the age of four, the loss of a sister and a fiancée, her husband almost killed in a car crash while she was home alone with their two young daughters, break-ins at her house etc.

- Last but not least, she has always been loving and caring to her friends and family and continues to be so until this very day!

 

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Since a few months back Göta lives in an elderly home. She enjoys good food and frequent exercise and stays smiling.  My current hope is of course that she will be blessed to become a super centenarian, i.e. a person who lives to the age 100 or more. Let’s cross all our fingers and toes!

Some Wiki facts about centenarians
According to the United Nations, there were about 316 000 living centenarians worldwide in 2012. The United States had 53 000 centenarians, equivalent to 17 per every 100 000 of inhabitants (numbers from year 2010). So that explains why it was difficult- however not impossible- to find balloons and other party decorations with the number 100 (most offered up to 80)!

 

In 2010, Sweden had around 1800 centenarians or 19 per every 100 000. The record is hold by Japan, with 51 000 centenarians, which equals to 35 per every 100 000 (numbers from year 2012).
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centenarian

 

Getting ready with Origami hearts for Valentine’s Day

heart

As I used to live in Japan I love to re-discover some of the best parts of Japanese culture: stone meditation gardens, bonsai trees, tea ceremonies and of course everything food-related.

I visited a Japanese Museum and Garden over the weekend and stumbled upon these cute origami hearts. Easy to make and simply adorable!

It took me less than 2 hours to fold around 50 of them and they came out real nice or what do you think?!

The origami hearts can be used as greeting cards (laying flat or standing up) or as book marks. See the directions below.

Happy V-Day everyone!

IMG_6629 heart directions

“Running selfies” from different elements

These last few weeks I have been out running in everything between minus 20 degrees Celsius (about minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit) to plus 30 degrees C (about 90 degrees F). And on grass, sand, snow and asphalt…

It is always an experience to get out on the streets dressed like a ninja. And an extra sense of freedom when you a couple of days later can walk out the door and go barefoot running in the sand!

I have tried to vary the surfaces I run on (as I was experiencing pain in my left knee a couple of days after finishing a 10 miler…). My favorite surface is grass trails. I am also trying to get my body – read feet- used to beach running, adding an extra 5 min. in the sand every weekday run and so far it feels great. Soon it is time for some more winter running again; beware and kampai!

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The geography of wind power

We spent the holidays in Chicago and drove the 1350 miles (roughly 2200 km) from Florida up north through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana up to Illinois. A sweet drive that took us about 20 hours each way!

Driving is a great way to see this big, vast continent and we are quite lucky to be able to do these trips. Our kids do not mind being in the back seat and we are able to stay awake and drive during the night, enabling us to start the drive after dinner and arrive at our destination right after lunch the following day.

Driving through the U.S. landscape, I reflected on how rarely I saw wind power mills. In fact, it wasn’t until Indiana that we came across a big farm. It was actually a quite amazing sight; we drove by in the evening time and at first we only saw hundreds of blinking red lights in the horizon, not knowing what to expect. Passing right through it felt like being in the middle of a (very!) quiet firework show!

The map of US wind resource potential shows how our route was cutting through the white colored fields…

 

                       

 

Wind power in the United States has – just as in other places over the world- been expanding quickly over the last few years.

For the 12 months until October 2013, the electricity produced from wind power in the United States amounted to 163.849 terawatt-hours, or 4.06% of all generated electrical energy. To some of my readers, this number can be interesting to compare to the total production of 7,2 TWh of wind power Sweden produced in 2012.

The countries with most wind power capacity in 2012 were (in order): China, U.S, Germany, Spain and India. If you instead look at the countries with largest share of the total electricity production, the two leading nations are Denmark and Portugal.

In addition to the large onshore wind resources, the U.S. has large offshore wind power potential.

The U.S. Department of Energy has envisioned that wind power could supply 20% of all U.S. electricity in year 2030. However, there has been an inability of the Congress to formulate a long term renewable energy policy, which has been a detriment to the development of wind power…

Recent U.S. policy has generally been to provide federal production tax credit (PTC) of around $20 per MWh generated for the first ten years of operation for wind energy. But each year the tax credit has expired, wind power development has slowed the next year as investors wait for better conditions. Each year it is renewed development has expanded.

 

 

Another wind power related issue I recognize well is the issue of birth deaths. I believe this discussion and the development of solutions is very interesting from an overall sustainability perspective, since the “environmental/ green interests” so clearly collide. As with all infrastructural projects there are always side effects and I have heard there are a number of big birds killed by the railroads each year too…

Here in the US, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced as of December 2013 that it will issue 30-year permits to wind energy projects to allow for eagle deaths. Under the 30-year permits, wind power developers would be required to report eagle deaths, and the permits would be reviewed every 5 years.

Needless to say, the wildlife foundations were not too happy…

For bright new beginnings!

I would like to share my favourite christmas decoration with you. A real simple, inexpensive and environmentally friendly one!

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Just pick up some oranges, cloves and red ribbons at the store and start decorating; a perfect craft for both kids and grown-ups. I always make these in December before the holidays. I love the look and the smell of x-mas.

The cloves are actively preservative. I just removed mine!

I hope you all had a great beginning of the new year, peace and love//

Sustainable procurement no silver bullet, but one of many effective tools…

The Ministry of Finance in Sweden has a very odd bird under its wings: a so-called expert study group for public economics. It functions as a think tank for the Finance Ministry and has recently absorbed another “expert group”, the expert group for environmental studies (Expertgruppen för Miljöstudier, EMS).

There are few other ministries with similar resources. The expert group is supposedly “independent”, but frequently uses the Ministry´s logo when publishing and promoting its reports…

This group recently published a report stating how sustainable procurement can have negative environmental effects.

The conclusions have been heavily criticized from the environmental agencies and representatives of green public procurement in Sweden, as well as from representatives in UNDP.

The critics claim the conclusions are “very strange” and contradict field experience; for instance real-life examples on how procurements demands have led to lower prices on e.g. mercury-free thermometers and poison-free rubber gloves.

The expert group have responded from their traditional (neo-classic) economical view, stating how there is a lack of solid empirical evidence for how green procurement can be beneficial to the environment. They favor – as always- more general means of control, in this case strengthened regulations. They claim total bans are probably more effective than procurement.

From my point of view, this viewpoint is very problematic. First of all, because it seems to make the assumption all policy measures are founded in solid social science. This is far from the case if you compare with other policy areas such as labor measures, immigration and tax policy to mention a few.

Secondly, the sustainability challenge in itself is tremendous. To assume one policy could function as a silver bullet for all intertwined, environmental issues is quite naïve. For any knowledgeable person within the environmental field, it is instead obvious how multiple tools and measures are needed… And to demand every policy measure to be 100% evidence based before put into place would just mean there would be nothing to save or behind the point of no return until anything is done.

Oh, how I wish this think tank was based underneath the Ministry of the Environment instead!!!

 

Basic Swedish bureaucracy info:

In Sweden, the central government is supposed to speak with “one voice”. There are no large ministries/ state departments. Instead, each member of the government has its own small ministry, consisting of a handful of political appointees and around 100-300 officials. Underneath each ministry there are a number of larger agencies, independent but at the same time an extension of the governments long arms. For example, the Ministry of Environment in Sweden has around 150 employees and the EPA more than 500.

 

Source:

http://miljoaktuellt.idg.se/2.1845/1.538699?utm_source=dmdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FN-representanter%20avf%C3%A4rdar%20Es&utm_campaign=Milj%C3%B6aktuellt%20veckobrev%202013-

Power running!

I just heard about an interesting new invention: a shoe insert that stores the power generated by walking and running into a battery. The insert can be paired with any shoe type and the battery can be instantly accessed via a USB port. It is charged after 2.5 miles (approx. 4.8 km) of foot steps with enough power to run a IPhone.

I am often waking up early on weekend mornings with (almost always) low battery on my Iphone, so this insole could be interesting to try out. I dislike running with no phone in case of emergencies and I also enjoy using my Runkeeper app all the time…

Other useful applications are emergency charging of cell phones and radio during power outages, as well as a reliable power source for cell phones and other smaller electronics in developing countries with frequent black outs.

The shoe insert supposedly feels like a regular insole. It is developed by two Carnegie graduates and expected to be released next summer.

 

Read more: www.solepowertech.com

Time for Yoga and Small Business Saturday

Today it´s Tuesday and it´s definitely time for yoga. Time to connect with the present and reflect upon what´s important in life.

Thanksgiving – on paper – is the perfect holiday for being grateful and celebrate humbleness. Together.

However, this year the Black Friday deals started already Thanksgiving evening. Instead of spending time with their families, employees at Target, Walmart etc were obliged to work. I heard of long lines building up outside stores as early as 4 pm Thursday (“thanks to” PS4?)!

consume less         © Buy Nothing Day

It is a great thing to be able to find Christmas gifts for half the price or more. I took advantage of this myself online yesterday during Cyber Monday. But going to the stores and line up for a crazy consumer party? Coming home with things you didn’t plan on buying and never had any time to research? Not for me…

On Treehugger.com there is a good article on the subject, and they call for a “Small business Saturday”. They also have an excellent 2013 DIY green gift guide, worth checking out.

This year I will make an effort to 1) buy a couple of gifts at local stores, and 2) make a few DIY items: e.g. some cinnamon roasted almonds in recycled glass containers :-)

Otherwise, the focus is on fewer and higher quality gifts. In a big family (my children have 11 cousins) that in itself makes a world of difference. We will try personalized grab bags for the very first time, lets hope it is here to stay!

 

http://www.treehugger.com/culture/your-annual-reminder-black-friday-doesnt-have-exist.html

 

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