Under Pressure (Peer Pressure)

19 May

Do you remember the days of peer pressure in school? Where you felt the need to be “cool” and probably did and said things that you’d rather not remember? Maybe you started smoking when you were a teen. Maybe you picked up a potty-mouth vocabulary as a way to communicate with your friends in a way that they could understand. Ahhhhhhh…those were the days. But those days are over now, right? RIGHT?

Not really. I’d argue that those days are very much not over. I am fascinated at how people change their ways of behavior when in a group setting as a way of fitting in, even as adults. I am amazed at how easily people are persuaded to make choices that others think that they should make.

The other day, I walked into an exercise class that I was trying for the first time. It took me about 30 seconds to realize that I, in fact, had forgotten to wear my $200+ workout outfit.“Is it just me?”, I thought. Yup, it was. I literally took a look at EACH person in the class and saw them EACH wearing a very fancy (and expensive) brand of exercise wear. The irrational part of me thought,” Wow. I really don’t belong here. Maybe I should go shopping for some new clothes after this class!” Thankfully, my rational brain kicked in and realized, “It does not matter if I have a certain brand of workout gear on or not! I am here for me and not to impress everyone else!

This kind of peer pressure is rampant when it comes to eating unhealthy foods. How many times have you gone into the break room and found a few dozen donuts, bagels, cookies, or cupcakes? People bring in their leftovers from birthdays on any given day. Maybe there is a set day of the week for ” treats” to be brought in. When I was working in schools, I know that this was true. Every Thursday was Bagel Day. You had to get there early to ensure that you could get a warm, doughy, cream-cheese-slathered-bread-donut before they were all gone. I was always there early, excited beyond belief for a chance to eat a bagel. Do you know what? I ate that bagel every week and while I felt satisfied in the moment, I always felt famished by lunchtime. At the time, I never made the connection as to why I was so hungry later on.

We have learned to equate rewards with junk food. How is eating junk food rewarding? It has no nutritional value! It makes our brains foggy, makes us more hungry, makes our blood sugar spike and crash, and makes us overweight, yet it keeps us coming back for more. 

I recently performed in a show (I since and dance like the people do on GLEE) and while it was fun, it was a stressful and mentally/physically demanding time. It was difficult to “find the time” to eat properly. I was personally eating on the go and struggled to try to bring my own healthy options with me to rehearsals. 

Do you know what was brought in by other group members? COOKIES, LOLLIPOPS, and MORE COOKIES! While I appreciated the gesture, I had to decline those items. Was it easy to turn down a box full of ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies? No, it wasn’t easy to turn down! Was it was a choice that I needed to make for my own well-being? Yes. Were others offended that I didn’t eat the cookies that they brought in? Nope. More for them.

I’m not saying that people should never have treats or never celebrate occasions with food that makes them happy. However, I am proposing that we do not need to celebrate every occasion with unhealthy food. Especially at times when we really need to take care of ourselves.

Let’s find other ways to celebrate as groups. Let’s treat ourselves to a group hike, a massage, or a night out bowling instead. We can all influence each other to make healthier choices. Most importantly, we can do what is best for us and not for other people. Take ownership of your own behavior and personal health and soon you will be feeling better than ever! Everyone in the office will want to know your secret. 😉

As always, feel free to leave comments or message me at:

healthcoachmeg@gmail.com

for guidance or advice! 

In Health,

Meg 

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The Perfection Perception

29 Mar

I have always described myself as a perfectionist.  A textbook Virgo, I have always aspired to be the perfect sister, daughter, friend, performer, student, and employee. I have a great number of vivid memories of when my quest for perfection and subsequent failure left me feeling quite disappointed.

Cut to a scene in my childhood, when I was in Kindergarten. I was drawing a picture…

…when suddenly, I had the urge to go potty.

NO, I MUSN’T GO, I thought. My picture is not perfectly polished! My crayons are not properly put away!

You bet I finished that picture AND I put the crayons away just so. I also ended up with wet pants, embarrassment, and a trip to the nurse’s office to find some dry (and ill-fitting) clothes for me to wear.

It was not until I was an adult, after earning a Master’s Degree in one year, and realizing that I was quite miserable, that I decided to reassess my idea of “perfection”. Why was it so important to me anyway? 

I finally realized that no one on this entire planet is perfect. Of course, I had heard that saying over and over again as a kid, but I guess I always thought that there were exceptions to the rule anyway. There were always those people that I perceived to be perfect at mostly everything; those who had the perfect house, the perfect kids, the perfect job, or the perfect life in general. Now I know that that was just a PERCEPTION and not a reality. There is a distinct difference. 

The minute I gave myself permission to stop striving for perfection was the minute that I began accepting myself.  I also began forgiving myself for the mistakes I had made and seeing those mistakes as learning experiences. I truly believe that we need to learn from all of our experiences, both  good and bad. We need to forgive ourselves, learn from those experiences, and carry on.

As I listen and talk to people who are struggling with losing weight, I can’t help but get the vibe that a lot of people are striving for perfection in their weight loss efforts. A lot of people adopt an all-or-nothing attitude. For example, many people are dead-set on sticking to their meal plan exactly, sticking to a regimented exercise schedule, and are not allowing for any flexibility. If they slip-up, I see many people giving up or calling themselves failures. They think, “Why bother? I will just fail at everything I try anyway.” 

My advice to myself and to everyone else is to be kind to yourself. If you overslept and missed your workout today, maybe you needed that sleep. Try to take a short walk instead. If you accidentally eat a piece of cake, don’t give up! Figure out how to set yourself up for success for the next time you’re in a tempting situation. 

Life is not black and white and neither is losing weight and getting healthy. Forget about following a certain plan perfectly and focus on adopting healthier habits into your life! Over time, you will reach your goals. If you believe that you can and treat yourself with kindness, you can achieve success!

Foodumentaries

23 Mar
“Have you seen Back to the Future?”
“No.”
Star Wars?
*Shakes head side to side*
“SERIOUSLY? The GODFATHER?
“NO! I have, however, seen Homeward Bound 2:Lost in San Francisco? Does that count?”
(Listen, I went to the theater to see Happy Gilmore and the theater was full. Please don’t judge.)
This type of dialogue happens on a weekly basis with me. Listen, I’m not a big movie person. If the film has something to do with action, science fiction, or anything remotely suspenseful or far-fetched, I’m not going to watch it. If you try to make me watch it, I will fall asleep immediately in an act of protest!
I know, I know.  You’re probably wondering WHY anyone would have this attitude towards movies! The blasphemy!
I can explain. I am a realist. I also have a short attention span. Therefore, I need to watch something that is either going to be relative to my life (documentaries), or at least make me smile and laugh (comedies and rom-coms).
I am a complete sucker for documentaries. I must say that over the past few years, I have watched a large number of documentaries and they have, in fact, changed the way that I view food. In particular, I have watched a majority of the documentaries listed below:
I am aware that with most documentaries, they are only showing one side of the story. However, there are a lot of stories about food that need to be told. Watch and then you can form your own opinions.
What are some documentaries that you have enjoyed or have changed the way that you look at food?
Until we meet again,
Meg

A Refreshing Perspective

20 Mar

I caught First Lady Michelle Obama last night on David Letterman.

All politics aside, I think that she is an extremely smart, kind, and sensible woman. I especially appreciate her views and values on how to raise children and how to help our obesity epidemic.

She made a point that the average American child spends 7.5 hours in front of a screen a DAY. You read that right. 7.5 hours. What happened to playing outside? As a teacher, I saw this scenario over and over again: kids coming to school exhausted and unable to concentrate. The reason they gave me? They were up late playing video games.

I could ruminate all day on this topic, but instead,  I’ll leave you with the video. She discusses a plethora of topics with Letterman, but around minute 4 is where she addresses childhood obesity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e1R0lliFHc&feature=youtu.be

If you can, I think that it’s worth watching all three parts!

Feel free to comment and I’ll catch you all soon.

Meg

Using ‘Pinspiration’ to Meet your Weight Loss Goals

15 Mar

Have you heard of …

   ?

It’s one of the newest and hippest websites working its way up the popularity ranks. It has a social networking component to it like Facebook or Twitter, but ultimately, you create your own Pinboards. But what is a pinboard, you ask?
 
Remember the days when you spent hours with glue, scissors, and a stack of magazines, making collages? You made collages for school projects, to inspire yourself, or to display your love of Leonardo DiCaprio (okay, maybe that was the tween version of me, circa 1997). 
 
A pinboard is kind of like that, except there’s no mess or assembly required, since it’s done virtually. And in lieu of old magazines you have the whole web to use at your disposal. Sweet, right?
 
You can design a Pinboard about anything and name it yourself. People make pinboards about anything that interests them: recipes, weddings, party planning, photography. Sky’s the limit.  
 
You can even use pinboards to help you meet your health goals. 
 
It has been proven that setting concrete goals and visualizing them can help you to meet them. Search “healthy meals” or “exercise” in Pinterest, and you’re instantly flooded with images of toned bodies, tantalizing and healthy recipes, and suggestions for exercises to get the body that you’ve always wanted. It’s instant inspiration. 
 
Pinboards look something like this:
 
If you haven’t yet, meander over to Pinterest and start pinboard to help you meet your health and wellness goals! Transform the swirling ideas of what you want in your head into concrete, tangible, and inspiring pinboards.

Eating with our Ears

4 Mar

Yup, you heard me right.

Eating with our ears. Hear me out on this one.

The scenario:

We’ve all been there.

You get home from work after an hour in traffic and you’re starving. Straight to the fridge you march and POOF!, two cheese sticks, a turkey leg, AND half a pint of ice cream magically disappear into the abyss of your grumbling stomach. All before you’ve even had a chance to sit down!

We all need to train ourselves to eat more mindfully and let ourselves completely enjoy what we’re putting into our bodies (and mouths!).  Actually tasting your food, taking small bites, drinking water in between, and giving your brain the time to process the “I’M FULL” signals are ways to do so.

However, a lot of eating mindfully and with enjoyment is all about setting up our environment for success! Did you know that you can use music to contribute to that success?

Anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes knows what a pivotal role music plays in my life. It’s in my work, it’s in my play; it’s in every bone in my body. I am the first one to organize who’s bringing music to the dinner party or kickball game. I believe that it is essential to set the mood with music in any given situation. If you’ve ruled out meal times for a time to listen to your new Spotify or Itunes playlist, think again.

This article that I stumbled upon explains research in a fine dining atmosphere. What they found is that to the subjects, ” food tasted nicest when served with quiet classical music and a hint of background ‘chatter’.”  While this was just one experiment performed in a fine restaurant, it still gives us cues for how to create this situation at home. Take a look:

http://realdoctorstu.com/2011/04/01/eating-through-your-ears-listening-to-music-makes-food-taste-better/

Next time you sit down to dinner, play some relaxing music to get you in the mood. Making a “dinner playlist” or using internet radio sites like Pandora are easy ways to simplify doing so. Whether it is Sinatra who gives you the warm-and-fuzzies or it’s Jay-Z that melts your butter, throw on those tunes and start eating with more enjoyment.

Do you eat with your ears? What are some musical selections that help you enjoy your meals and eat more mindfully?

Until next time,

Meg

Watch this video…

1 Mar

…and try to tell me that this 11-year-old boy does not have more insight about the food system in our country than a majority of adult Americans.

“Some people say that organic or local food is more expensive, but is it really?…It seems to me that we can either pay the farmer or we can pay the hospital.”

Not only is Birke Baehr smart, but he is a charming, confident,animated, and convincing public-speaker as well. The young man gives us a concise look at the abysmal state of our food system in the United States. He always tells us how to make better choices.