Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day!

Today - April 22 - is Earth Day, an international holiday to raise environmental awareness (アースコンシャス). Don't worry, Japanese readers, if you don't know this because Earth Day doesn't get a lot of press coverage here. For that matter, neither does Green Day (みどりの日) on May 4.

But it's important to think about the environment (環境)- and not just once a year or from time to time. 

Everyday we should try to live as eco-friendly as we can. After all, we only have one planet and 7.5 billion (十億) of us have to share it and pass it on to future generations. 

So in my English impact classes this week, I've been discussing the 3 R's of Ecology with my students. Give yourself a pat on the back (自分に拍手) if you know that the 3 R's are recycle, reuse and reduce. Here are five easy ways you can do that to make the earth a better place.

1. Plant a tree. Or flowers. Or vegetables. Don't have a yard? - then buy a houseplant. Anything green can help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air and increase the oxygen (O2) level. 

2. Use an eco-bag, a reusable plastic bag or your own grocery basket when you go to the supermarket. Basically, try not to use any plastic bags that are not biodegradable (生分解性). It's easier than you think.

3. Use public transportation as much as possible to reduce gasoline consumption. You can often get some fresh air, too, by walking or cycling to a nearby destination. 

4. Don't buy plastic (PET) bottles of water. Just don't. Drink tap water (水道水). And if you swear that tap water is bad tasting or too polluted to drink, then boil it first or buy a water filter. The same water you are drinking in the plastic bottle also comes from tap water. Don't let the pictures of the mountains and water falls on the label fool you. 

5. Don't throw away old clothes. There are so many better ways to dispose of them. Uniqlo, Japan's largest clothing retailer, has a recycle box in every store for its old clothes to be donated to developing countries' people. You can also donate them yourself to other less fortunate people. Or, if charity is not your thing, sell them on auction sites. Turn them into cleaning rags as a last resort (苦肉の策), just don't carelessly throw them away. 

Do you have any simple ideas to help the environment? I'd love to hear them. I personally try to live my life as simply as possible and I hope the other 7,499,999,999 of you do as well.

Let me close with this blog with a proverb:

"Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.
Kenyan proverb

In other words, make every day Earth Day for future generation of humanity. 

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Whey to Go!

Think about "exercise" for a moment. Do you hate it? Surprisingly, many people do. Exercise turns up on many lists of things people hate to do even though it can make your life so much better in so many ways!

One reason is that people fear the sore muscles (筋肉痛) that inevitably come after a hard workout. If you lift weights, your arm muscles will be sore the next day. If you run, your legs will kill you the next day.

As a crazy runner, I totally understand this. At first, I thought it would be impossible to run approximately 10 km/6.5 miles every day because my legs would be in serious pain. However, I found a solution to my problem - whey protein (ホエイプロテイン).

Now my American friends tell me it is commonplace (普通) for health clubs and gyms to have cafes inside that serve whey protein shakes on the spot.

Wow! We don't have that here in Japan. At least not in Toyama Prefecture, which is considered the countryside (田舎) by 99% of Japanese people.

(Ok, actually I don't belong to a gym or health club so I have no way of knowing what's available in Toyama Prefecture).

I did a little research online about solutions to muscles pain and whey protein popped right up as the recommendation of many online running coaches and exercise trainers. Now I mix two shakes made with water, ice, whey protein and various ingredients every day: one fruity one (banana, berries and flax seeds) after my daily run and the other veggie one (leafy vegetables like spinach & cabbage and oatmeal) an hour before going to bed.

As a result, I don't have nearly as much muscle pain now as when I first began marathon training about three months ago. Also, the whey protein is burning a lot of my stomach fat - call it my "spare tire (メタボ)" - and some abs (腹筋) are starting to appear.

So if you hate exercise because of sore muscles, why not give whey protein a try? You might just learn to love it and all the positive, healthy things it can do for you.

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