A few tips on freeing up time this fall

Calgary Herald, September 7 2015: September is a busy time, arguably one of the busiest months of the year. The kids go back to school and we all get back to the regular grind. Commutes get longer. Schedules get crazier.

This year, as well as making pickles, cleaning up the garden and remembering about winter tires, you’ll also have to pencil in time to fret about the economy.  And of course, you will need to carve in some time — at least enough for ‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe’ — to figure out who to vote for in the federal election.

Do not despair! I can help!

Well, I can’t really help with the economy. Except to offer a gentle reminder — most of us are still far better off than most others around the world.

And I can’t help you with the gloom you’re feeling over the state of our federal politics except to a) bang my head on the table in time with yours or b) point out that even though he has cold, dead eyes, at least he’s not The Donald.

But I can help with the angst over your September to-do list by suggesting a few things you can cross off, freeing up time to do something constructive like complain about all the Christmas merchandise in the malls before you’ve even thought about Thanksgiving.

First off, you do not have to go on a detoxifying autumn cleanse. Fortunately for you, you have a liver, a kidney (or two) and a ton of crazy good bugs in your gut. And cleansing is their job. Sure, you can cut back on the Kit Kats and double scotches, but you don’t have to eat a week’s worth of brown rice and banana peels, buy a cleanse kit or drink hot water and cayenne pepper to tidy up your insides. Your organs and microbiome have that covered.

We’re learning more and more about these trillions of microorganisms that toil away in your gut. It’s really something.  In fact, scientists are beginning to think that all the bacteria and viruses in our system will help us understand cancer, obesity, allergies and asthma. These mighty microorganisms may even give us clues into the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, depression and autism. I’m pretty sure they roll their teeny tiny buggy eyes when they see the “Laxaherb, Cleansaherb and CL Herbal Extract” coming down the chute. The $50 cleanse you’re buying isn’t miraculous. Your body is.

Speaking of bodies, yours doesn’t need you to drink eight glasses of water a day. This is straight up myth. It may stem from an offhand comment by an influential nutritionist writing in the 1970s. Or it may date back to a misreading of the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council in 1945 — the year the Second World War ended and a guy building combat radar equipment found a melted chocolate bar in his pocket and accidentally discovered the Microwave.

In any case, there is no science supporting the oft-repeated advice to drink eight glasses of water a day.  As they said back in 1945:  “A suitable allowance of water for adults is 2.5 litres daily in most instances. An ordinary standard for diverse persons is 1 millilitre for each calorie of food. Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.” There you go. All the water in all the food you eat goes toward that eight glasses.  So go ahead, put down that water bottle and go microwave some popcorn.

And while we’re thinking about water, think about this: You do not have to water your lawn (or the sidewalk). The idea that we need to have a blanket of thick green grass dates back to about the same time that radar guy found the melted chocolate in his pocket.

Times have changed.

In Vancouver, which suffered through a summer of drought and water restrictions, people with green lawns are called “grassholes.”  In California, “drought shaming” has replaced “body shaming” as the next big thing. People are ratting on their greedy neighbours for surreptitiously watering their lawns, washing their cars or filling their pools. Get ahead of the trend, and stop watering your lawn now! Let it turn a respectable brown.  Or better yet, dig it up and replace it with a garden, or local drought resistant plants.

Finally, you can save time this fall by not planning a winter getaway to the U.S.  Just think, you won’t have to spend hours looking for cheap hotels online or wait in line at the bank to turn a duffel bag full of loonies into a couple of greenbacks. Forget daydreaming about the waves crashing on a Hawaiian beach and let the drone of politicians making promises they won’t keep carry you into the fall instead.

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