Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My hungy yoga body

This is a brief version of the long story of three very important relationships: 1.) My body image 2.) My Yoga Practice 3.) My Nutrition. I started practicing yoga when I was 14-years-old. My mother, who happens to be my favorite yoga instructor, brought myself and a friend to a studio in Davis Square where she worked at the time. No one was in the studio, so we had full reign of the equipment and mirror space. The first thing my mother said was, "Stand up straight with your feet planted into the ground and picture yourself growing from the earth like a tree." I laughed. Then I looked in the mirror as I pretended to be the aforementioned tree, and all laughs quickly came to a halt. Within a split second, the voice inside my head began with it's all too familiar criticism, "My God, Stephanie, look at those thighs. What have you been eating that makes your thighs so huge," and then the reply, "Too much." As we continued the practice, the criticisms grew louder, "Why are your mother and your friend SO much better at this than you? Look at their beautiful arms, their peacefulness, and their grace. You have none of that." And so concluded my first yoga session. I wish I could tell you that it got better immediately after that day, but I would be lying. Nevertheless, I obeyed my mother as she insisted that I keep up with my yoga practice and I believed her when she said that eventually the peace, the gracefulness, and the body love would eventually, as she put it, "follow the flow". Then something interesting happened one day after yoga. My mom concluded the session with a Buddhist prayer on self-love, and as I remained in shavasana, my mind was completely clear for the first time. I don't remember her words; only the feeling of empowerment and, believe it or not, peace & gracefulness. After that session, I sat at my parents kitchen table and realized that I felt good. There was new space in my body and I felt strong. I didn't necessarily care whether my body was graceful or my arms toned like Madonna's. What mattered most was the happiness I truly felt. The other thing I felt was hungry. And in this vital moment of life, instead of reaching for the cookies on the counter, I grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl. And so began my lifelong journey with the connections between yoga, body image, and food.
Yoga in Times Square with Elizabeth and Beth was a true test of our Mindfulness abilities! There's nothing like stretching and meditating in one of the busiest parts of the world!
Again, I wish I could say I never had body-hatred after that day, but again, I would be lying. Body image is not static. It is a constant work in progress and it takes true effort to feel good about yourself. The good news is, if you learn to love yourself, eventually the task is less daunting. I did continue my yoga practice, and I continued to see the connection between my self perception and the food choices I made. On days when I did yoga, my perception of myself would reach a deeper level. I gave more thought to myself as a whole being, a soul inside of a body, and it helped me learn to appreciate the things about myself I once took for granted. The more self-aware I became, the healthier I would eat. The connection between what I was putting into my body, which I was learning to love, suddenly became clear to me when it was once a foreign concept.
Guiltless Yoga on the Beach!
I continued yoga throughout college, and throughout the start of my career, continued through graduate school up until this very day. I even learned that my perceived connection between food and yoga was in fact a topic of research on yoga and mindful eating. The relationship I built between my body, my food, and my yoga deepened with time and experience. At this point, if I am feeling down and out, all I have to do is take out my yoga mat and do 10-15 minutes and immediately, I'll feel better. So why am I sharing this with you? If not anything but to inspire you to examine your own relationship between your body perception, your nutrition, and your favorite mode of movement whether that's dancing, biking, swimming, running, anything. Care to share? What's your experience with food, body image, and movement?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Self Compassion Diet-An interview with Jean Fain

Jean Fain, is a licensed psychotherapist and a teaching associate in psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. She has dedicated her work to helping others keep physically, emotionally and mentally fit. In her book The Self-Compassion Diet, Fain synthesizes the cutting-edge research and current psychological theory, as well as sharing guided meditations and visualizations to increase self-compassion for greater health.
“Most dieters try to ‘kill cravings’ and break habits with self-discipline,” Fain says, “but only self-kindness can help quiet the shame that traditional diets instill and establish a harmonious relationship with food.”
We interviewed her for Guiltless, and she shared some of her top suggestions for increasing self-compassion in YOUR lif!

-What is your expertise?
I'm a Harvard Medical School-affiliated psychotherapist specializing in eating issues.

-What are the basic principles of the self-compassion diet?
When you treat yourself like a friend or a loved one -- with self-compassion --- you're more apt to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full; rest when you're tired and move when you feel energized. Do that, and you'll lose weight naturally.
What prompted you to write this book?
My clients. They're really hard on herself. They feed themselves a steady diet of self-criticism and expect that'll somehow inspire them to lose weight once and for all. But they've got it backward: self-criticism -- calling yourself "fat," "disgusting" and other mean, nasty names -- that's a recipe for emotional overeating and weight gain. Self-compassion, on the other hand, is the missing ingredient in every diet and a simple recipe for decreasing emotional eating and losing weight.

-Why is self compassion necessary for permanent weightloss/health?
A steady diet of self-compassion helps you feel calmer, less reactive and better able to take care of yourself.

-Can you lose weight in a way that maintains self-care and respect?
That's exactly what I prescribe: self-care and -respect. Eating without care, treating yourself disrespectfully, that's a set up for overeating and gaining weight.

-What is one thing we can all do to foster a more positive relationship with our bodies and food?
Treat yourself like a friend. Rather than calling yourself "fat" or "disgusting," ask yourself: "How ARE you?" "What do you need?" "How can you help??"

Fain’s asserts that kindness, not discipline, is the missing ingredient in every diet and most other weight-loss plans is supported by a growing body of scientific evidence. Research psychologists have found that, for veteran dieters, a little self-compassion goes a long way toward curbing the self-critical thoughts and emotional distress that fuel overeating. For example:

  • A landmark 2007 Wake Forest study found that subjects who cultivated self-compassion did not indulge in emotional overeating. In contrast, rigid dieters with their characteristic critical mindset, reflexively overindulged despite their best intentions. This reflex to reach for food in the face of self-criticism helps explain why yo-yo dieters end up with more weight gain than loss.

  • A group of University of Wisconsin neuroscientists conducted MRI brain-imaging studies of Buddhist monks meditating on loving-kindness. Compassion, it turns out, is literally mind-altering! Not only does cultivating an attitude of loving-kindness stimulate the parts of the brain associated with empathy and maternal love (the insula and the temporal parietal junction) in men and women, it promises to dampen activity in the brain areas associated with depression and anxiety.
  • Indeed, while most researchers have measured the difference self-compassion makes in a single day, Kristin Neff, the University of Texas professor found that ongoing self-compassion training, worked like antidepressants without the side effects over the duration of the study.

If you are looking for other ways to increase self-compassion, Fain recommends the following techniques and meditations:

1. Metta or Loving-Kindness Meditation

Although books have been written on this traditional Eastern meditation, it can be boiled down to the following phrases: “May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.” The meditation starts with “I” phrases; continues with “you”; then finishes with “we” — extending loving-kindness to others only after first bestowing it upon yourself. Note: Feel free to customize Metta to your liking. The idea is to compose short, meaningful statements that convey the universal wish for happiness and freedom from suffering. Easy to remember, Metta is a ready response to the fear and self-loathing that can and so often does derail diets.

2. Compassionate Advisor

Here’s a powerful guided visualization based on the assumption that a wise, compassionate advisor lives within us all. By imagining a guide (and it can be anyone who embodies compassion—Mother Teresa, Gandhi, a sister, maybe a pet) and then focusing on his/her loving qualities, subjects have gained new perspective, greater self-acceptance and a much-needed sense of relief.

3. A Compassionate Note to Self

Getting deep concerns down on paper is not only a great way to ease emotional distress, it’s a proven method for bolstering a positive outlook. This practice calls for 15 to 20 minutes of uninterrupted writing per day in which you unload personal angst about a current predicament, and follow it with comforting words from an imagined pen pal.

4. Compassionate Glasses

This practice teaches practitioners how to view the body with an objective, forgiving and even appreciative eye—imperfections and all. It calls for trying on two pairs of imaginary glasses—one with distorted lenses and one more compassionate pair. The distorted pair with its hyper-critical view is all too familiar, but the contrast between the two is notable. The loving lens provides a more balanced, healthier perspective as well as a greater sense of calm and well-being.

Thank you Jean for sharing all this valuable information!

Do you think self-compassion is the secret to weight maintenence and overall health?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mind, Body, Spirit...and Money

"Enough is not an amount. It's a relationship to what you already have." -Geneen Roth

By: Stephanie Horton

One of my favorite female voices, Geneen Roth, visited Boston yesterday for a public reading of her new book Lost and Found at the Boston Public Library. During her captivating reading, Roth discussed one the least talked about subjects among women: Money.

I read Roth's book Women Food, and God a few months back, and it definitely influenced my perception of my relationship with food. As someone who loves cooking and eating and all things food, I consider my relationship with food to be a decent one, however, definitely not lacking its ups and downs. For a long time, certain foods were "bad" in my mind while others were "reward worthy." But after some soul searching, which included reading Women Food and God, I soon believed that all food is good, all food is nourishment for the body, and the food I choose to eat is nourishment for my soul.

Food is love

In Roth's Women Food, and God, she beautifully discusses our relationships with food, our bodies, our lives, our happiness, and how they are all intricately intertwined. One of my favorite lines from Women Food and God: "When you begin to inhabit your body from the inside, any other option except taking care of it is unthinkable." This line is consistent with how I've been thinking (and counseling) lately. If you love your body, you'll respect your body, and the decisions you make about your body will automatically be good for it. This is the idea behind self-love. Roth's inspiring novel encouraged me to stay body-positive, and to appreciate my body and the food I put into it like I had never done before. Roth is, without question, a guiltless icon. And now she's embarking on an even more difficult subject (certainly a difficult one for me): Women's relationships with money.

Geneen Roth

It seems the lovely author is at it again with her new book Lost and Found. Our relationships with food can be a lot like our relationships with money, and this is a concept that is seldom understood or discussed. In her new book, Roth explores this relationship by discussing her own personal catastrophes and journeys with her own relationship with money. After her financial manager deceived her for so many years, Roth and her husband Matt lost 30 years of life savings to a ponzie scheme. By reaching deep into her thoughts and emotions on this event, Roth inspires her readers to think more about their own relationships with finances. Roth describes her purpose in writing Lost and Found:

"I hardly have the words to tell you what it was like to see the exact same patterns with money as I'd once had with food. I splurged the way I once binged, and budgeted the way I once dieted. I lied about the money I had in the same way that I once lied about how much I ate. I rationalized buying sweaters on sale in the same way that I once rationalized eating broken cookies (because when the cookies break the calories break)."

Gosh, this sounds scarily familiar.

She continues to explain:

"I wrote LOST AND FOUND because..I wanted you to be able to have the knowledge and the tools to not only come out of the darkness with money, no matter how much you have or don't have, but to turn the light on inside your own mind, your own heart. Money, like food, is something you touch, think about, and deal with every single day, and so its effect on your well-being is profound. And because of its presence in our lives, it, like food, is both an expression of our beliefs about worth, joy and enough and a doorway to the heart of your heart—and what you are truly worth."

Our relationships with money are incredibly important to our futures, just as our relationships with food are. We have the love we need inside. It's just a matter of locating it and actually feeling it, and allowing it to settle into our daily lives and behaviors. The goal is for the love to become the foundation from which we thrive (and in this particular case, eat and spend). It's books like these that will accompany us on our journey.

See Geneen Roth speak about Lost and Found in a location near you: Geneen Roth's Book Tour Schedule.

How does your relationship with money influence your self perception? Does it? Should it?

Do you see a connection in your own life between your relationship with eating and your relationship with spending?

Thank you. Be well. And enjoy the day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Not On a Diet

Through Twitter and Facebook I have gotten to know Sumner Brooks, RD, MPH. I love her entire "not on a diet" philosophy and was thrilled to learn she would gladly be interviewed by me for Guiltless. Read on!

What exactly do you do Sumner? I listen to clients’ health and fitness goals and coach them through nutrition and behavior changes that will ultimately help them to reach their personal place of optimal health and wellness. As a registered dietitian (RD), I own a private nutrition consulting practice in Redondo Beach, CA called Not On A Diet, where I specialize in weight management, disordered eating, and sports nutrition. My approach encourages clients to learn Intuitive Eating techniques and I focus heavily on a foundation of building a healthy relationship with food and with your self. This often involves helping people transition from a dieting mentality to a self-care mentality.

How did you become certified to do this? Back in 2002 I took a basic human nutrition course at the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), where I was studying journalism. At the time I was struggling with dieting and disordered eating which went unrealized for many years, so naturally I was instantly was drawn to nutrition as a career opportunity. I pursued my BS in food and nutrition from San Diego State University in 2004. From there, I completed a dual masters and dietetic internship program in LA with the UCLA School of Public Health and the VA hospital in West LA. After two years as an RD, I’m proud to say I obtained the certification in sports nutrition (CSSD) last Summer and incorporate sports nutrition into my practice as well.

-Why doesn't dieting work? Dieting creates rules around food. We all know, just even by watching young children learn and grow, that when rules are set around something that should be intuitive, humans want to do just the opposite. I think eating should be an intuitive experience. Research and experience have shown me that dieting ultimately carries an underlying theme of being a “quick fix.” You never really hear people say they plan to do a diet for the rest of their life. That’s where the yo-yo weight fluctuations come in, and a person finds him or her self stuck in a cycle where the only solution becomes going on another diet. Dieting tends to involve not feeding the body what it physiologically needs, and ignoring natural preferences and desires. Subsequently, a dieter feels compelled to overcompensate, overeat, or to eat as a result of feeling deprived. The diet undoes itself and leaves you in a state of confusion and hopelessness.

How do you work with clients if you're not putting them on a diet? I guide my clients on the journey to a place where they can feel comfortable with their rate of progress, even if that means slow or no weight change at times. Working with me, clients become confident that they have the knowledge and the tools to listen to their body and respond in a way that promotes health. For example, I see a great deal of benefit in helping an individual to realize when they’re eating for hunger and when they’re eating as a response to an emotion. I teach people how to feed their body’s physiological needs, so they can clearly hear their body’s hunger and fullness messages. When you’re on a diet, all you can hear are the rules and “shoulds” which make it very difficult to listen to what your body is telling you. I focus on eating enough total energy to meet each unique person’s needs so they can learn to associate hunger as a good sign, to not fear fullness, and to see eating as a way to take care of oneself.

Why is our relationship with food so important in our lives? As someone who struggled for many years with an unhealthy relationship with food, I can now appreciate the value of being present every day in my life, rather than being constantly distracted by food and weight. Food is often closely associated with events, memories, and emotions. It can evoke joy, comfort and it can certainly be a special thing to share with someone because food can be so highly enjoyable for multiple sensory experiences like taste, sight, sell and even mouthfeel (touch). When a person has a destructive relationship with food, it takes away from that healthy enjoyment and pleasure of eating and experiencing food. I think having a healthy relationship with food is most important to have balance in daily life. A person’s mind, energy and emotions are free to experience all that life has to offer outside of body size, weight, and fear of food which can be all-consuming for so many people struggling with food battles.

What is your top tip for improving one's relationship with their body and food? Dive in to your emotions! My top tip is to practice not reacting to tough situations with food. A tough situation to me, as I learned from Evelyn Tribole, RD, is when you are vulnerable. Vulnerable may mean you’re stressed, anxious, exhausted, sad or worried. These are not pleasant feelings for anyone to have. If you can practice just sitting with those feelings in the moment, for 5-15 minutes, and just feel them without reacting or needing to experience temporary pleasure from food, you are well on your way to separating using food for emotions and using food for fuel. The tail end of this tip is to be at peace with yourself when you do overeat more than you planned. This is why I love Guiltless so much, it is an incredibly valuable place to be, Guiltless.

Why is guilt about our bodies or food choices toxic? Guilt feels incredibly heavy. I think it tears people down instead of building them stronger. Guilt fuels self-doubt. It reinforces to someone that they have failed before and they will fail again, even though that doesn’t have to be true. I’m not sure what the true opposite of guilt is, but to me, the opposite feeling of guilt is confidence. If one can believe they have what it takes to make gradual changes and evolve closer into their wellness vision, they will be successful with practice gradually over time. Instead of guilt, funnel that energy into being present and making the most of each moment. Learn from your behaviors and don’t judge yourself. Guilt is like throwing your paycheck in the trash - it does nothing for you! Most of all, enjoy what you eat no matter what it is!

Thank you Sumner! I loved this! Read more about Not On A Diet, Follow Sumner on Twitter and bid your fad diets ado!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Guiltlessly Un-athletic: Guest Post by Carlene Helble

by Carlene Helble

Dance six days a week, play rugby in the evenings after classes, do conditioning on the weekends, and tennis when possible.

Oh wait, that’s not me.

I come from a family of athletes, where my sister is the dancer, and brother the rugby player. I meanwhile, have the flexibility of an arthritic giraffe, cannot dance, and while I love the competitive edge of rugby, with a very petite build, such a sport would be a poor choice to say the least. Sports have never been part of my personality and for a while I felt guilty. I felt that I should try and like feeling muscle pain and awkward body movement. Back tucks should be a piece of cake and walking into the living room to lift up the 70 pound black lab shouldn’t be an issue.

It took be years to realize that guilting myself for what my body wasn’t comfortable doing wouldn’t make me an athlete. In actuality, I was active, just not conventionally athletic. My body could run, hike for miles, learn to swing a golf club, row a canoe, whip egg whites like a pro, and give some pretty stellar hugs. I am now, guiltlessly not a conventionally athletic girl.

While you may have a family of basketball stars, if it’s not for you, don’t feel guilty. If your friends are all rock climbers, or your roommates like to marathon, if you would rather walk the neighborhood or go to a tango club, that’s right for you. Be guiltless in what you love for exercise and don’t sell your body short.

Be guiltless in the love of your chosen activity and love every part of you for what YOU can do.

To guiltless activity,

Carlene Helble


Coming son: Carlene’s Figments: http://carlenesfigments.wordpress.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Give to yourself and also to others

By: Stephanie Horton

Here at Guiltless, we absolutely love the Me Movement. Registered Dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield created this movement in order to remind us all to stay focused on taking care of ourselves in both body and spirit. As part of the movement, you can Download the “me” movement pledge (PDF) and fill in some goals for this year aimed at keeping you healthy, happy, and guiltless. It's easy to lose yourself in all your daily obligations and to do lists. In times of high stress, remembering to take a minute to put yourself first can be a saving grace. Check out my post today on the Me First page. It's called Let Them Eat Cake!

On another note, Guiltless believes in giving back to our environment, and with all the sorrow in the world right now, there's no time like the present. Putting yourself first emotionally and in health is incredibly important for your overall well being. But contributing to the health and well-being of others is just as vital. At this very moment, hundreds of thousands of people in Japan are suffering the horrible consequences of
the aftermaths of one of the most catastrophic earthquakes in history and the following ferocious tsunami that's demolished the northeastern area of the country. The damage is unthinkable. You can help survivors of this natural disaster with a small donation. Apple, Google, Twitter, and other technology kings are making it easy to do this. Check out this Discovery News Article on Digital Ways to Donate to Japan Disaster relief. Every little bit helps. Thank you.

Be well and enjoy the day everyone, and remember to pledge your Me First goals for 2011!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fashion & Life Advice from Diane von Furstenberg

March 8th was a big day for Boston. Not only was it International Women's Day, but President Obama was at the Museum of Science, Lady Gaga famed-out TD Banknorth, and Diane von Furstenberg spoke at the Harris Center's 14th Annual Public Forum on Eating Disorders. While I wish I could have been at all three places at once, I'm glad I attended the latter.
The Harris Center is an eating disorder treatment and research facility at Massachusetts' General Hospital in Boston, and hosts this forum every year. The past two years have focused on the fashion industry, and creating healthier standards to improve the health of models and the general public. The president for the Council of Fashion Designers of America and two Miss America's were in the audience, and Diane von Furstenberg was the key note speaker.

Diane looks wonderful and a lot of what she had to say had to do with confidence and empowering women around the world. She is living the true American dream, coming to this country with nothing, two small children and creating a fashion empire. She said she was lucky enough to not have a personal connection to eating disorders, and while she is not sure that fashion is the cause of eating disorders, they could set the standard for healthier body image, and she recently released new CFDA guidelines to help maintain a healthier environment for models.
But, in a Guiltless fashion, she said that key to happiness and success is loving yourself and taking care of your body. These quotes in particular stuck with me:
"In order to be beautiful you must be healthy."
"The most important thing in life is the relationship you have with yourself."

"Beauty is perfect in it's imperfections"

"What you hate about yourself is what makes you gorgeous"

"Confidence is what matters. And the relationship you have with yourself matters"

"You can be the person of your dreams."

Thank you Diane Von Furstenberg for the inspiration and continuing to be a body positive role model in the fashion industry!
What quotes have stuck with you recently?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Of Hair Dye and Gray Hairs: Guest Post by Michele DeBiasse

By Michele A. DeBiasse

An interesting alignment of the stars happened the other day. Tuesday, March 8th was International Women’s Day. Also on that day, BU Today (the Boston University community’s e-newsletter) ran an article profiling the work of an “anti-feminist” writer who is a BU alum. March 8th was also the day I had an appointment to get my haircut. How did this triene of events become an important personal day for me? The answer is, March 8th, 2011 also became the day that I finally decided to no longer dye my hair.

Now, I have been going back and forth on the hair dying thing for years. In the beginning, I was a holdout: I waited until I could no longer get away with explaining the dull silver hairs that were quickly overtaking my head on “the lighting”. I think this happened in my early to late 40’s if I am remembering correctly (and I may well NOT be remembering correctly as I am now 50 and experiencing all of the hormonal shifting and memory loss any good peri-menopausal woman should, but let’s go with early to late 40’s, ok?). With my decision to dye my hair came the salon experience of semi-permanent coloring. I started off with a natural medium brown – my natural color. Ahhhh…I’m me again! Hello again, brown-haired me! About 6 months into my monthly salon dye jobs I realized that my efforts to reclaim my brown hair were hitting my pocketbook HARD! My salon visits that used to be costing me around $40.00 a pop, were now costing me over $100.00! I’m not independently wealthy! And, with my sweet Maltese Rudy’s monthly “spa days” (doggie “shower and a shave”) costing as much as I was paying for my haircuts, I fast realized that I needed to take a more economic approach to my war on my gray hair. That approach came in the form of drugstore “box o’ hair color” and then – when I serendipitously discovered the “discount beauty store” - the cheap hairstylists’ standard, and my new best friend, Wella®!

Flash forward to the past year… With every haircut and loss of color that naturally occurs over time with these semi-permanent/wash out color treatments, I realized that more and more of my brown hair was giving up the ghost (literally)! But what I also began to notice was that there is a certain “patch” of my hair – right in the front – that was coming in with a vengeance creating a kind of Lily Munster-esq quality to my coif. Interestingly, instead of being mortified, my reaction was “this is kinda cool”! And, what’s even cooler is that the once dull gray color is now a beautiful white! WOW! It was with that new-found excitement, that I started to contemplate not dying my hair.

The best part of all of this was the shift in my energy: what was once an outcome that I was trying my best to distance myself from, became an exciting prospect that I started to desire! Regularly I found myself scrutinizing my hair in the mirror to see if all of the dye had been washed out. I started to notice all kinds of “older” women - many who wear an uber-short hairstyle as I do – opting for a “salt and pepper” look, and found myself saying “yeah...that’s what I’m talking about”. Jaime Lee Curtis – whose Activia® commercials seem to run 185 times per day – looks cool...hip...FANTASTIC...ME!

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women, past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women's Day is a national holiday. In the United States, it seems International Women’s Day is just another day with the exception of the few media outlets that ran stories about women or for women. BU Today chose to run a story about a writer who believes that “feminism” is a dirty word and that men and women in society today are suffering as a result of women feeling pressured to fulfill both traditional and non-traditional roles. I have strong opinions about that stance, but that’s for another time... The point is that International Women’s Day this year and that BU Today article created the needed tipping point for me to take that final step toward embracing the grey(ish) haired me. Ahhh...I’m me again. Hello there, grey(ish) haired me!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Value yourself

Yesterday was International Women's Day, and the theme was equal work opportunities everywhere for woman. Today, woman are a stronge presence in the work force, but the "wage gap" still exists. This is often an overlooked source of insecurity for many of us ladies. The statistics are out there, but more importantly than what the numbers say right now, how to change this situation should be the main focus.

In order to get what you want, you need to know what you want, and you need to ask for what you want. But if you're out there working hard without giving yourself the credit you deserve, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage. It's about time all that hard work pays off! Here are some Guiltless tips on how to stay true to yourself while also getting what you deserve on the job:

1.) Value yourself: When you're discussing salary, don't underestimate your worth. There are so many tools out there to help you determine the salary you deserve. And remember, if you are working there, it means your work is valued and needed.

2.) Be Confident: Stand behind the work you do. You're efforts are imense, so don't shy away from showing them off. Of course it's important to be flexible and adaptive in the work place, but it's important to acknowledge your well thought out points and to stand by them. If you're not behind your own work, who will be?

3.) Take a break!: Studies show that sleep and rest are just as important as hard work when you're moving your way to the top. Give yourself a break once in a while in order to let your brain recharge and reboot. Sometimes turning yourself off is the hardest thing to do, but it often pays off more than you'd expect.

What's it like for you in the workplace? If you're a woman, do you feel that your gender makes a difference in your perceived value at work? If you're a man, what are your thoughts on this gender gap?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Path to Health Does Not Begin with Guilt

"Health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease"~George Prentice

I couldn't agree more with George. While I have spent the last four years of my life in school studying nutrition, learning the pros of fiber, and the cons of transfat, I have learned in the real world that obsessing over calories, and the food you eat, ultimately is the cause of more poor health than eating 1g of transfat every 3 months. For health is more than just your resting heart rate, and cholesterol levels. Although those are important, the relationship you have with food and the world also plays a HUGE role in determining the state of your overall health. Your blood lipid panel could be near perfect, but if you stare at the fridge, riveted by fear of its contents, you will not be living life to it's fullest. Harrowed by the fear of what ingredients are contained in your food, and how it is going to make you feel, you will ultimately miss out on all the pleasures that food can bring. Good health means nothing if you can not enjoy your life. Physical health is not the end all be all-we also need to remember our mental health and how we are treating ourselves. Let us not be anxiety ridden to the point of harming ourselves. Food is a place where our physical hunger meets our psychological assumptions. There is no such thing as a good or bad food. There are simply choices. No food is bad if consumed in moderation, with thought, and mindfulness. If you are still stuck in this black and white thinking, let this be the week that you let go of that anxiety! Be guiltless about your choices and decisions!
Is there a particular food or ingredient that makes you anxious? Have you ever been consumed by black and white thinking about food?

I love my webbed toes

I love my webbed toes-Chris

I Love my Big Teeth

I Love my Eyes

I Love my Eyes-Sara

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I Am Beautiful

Written by: Bryan Lian

I am beautiful; I am guiltless; and I am a guy. There I said it. Not handsome, not charming; beautiful.

But you… just said you were a guy. What do you mean by “beautiful”; is that some sort of ‘gay’ thing?

What if it is and what if I am? Is coming out something worth celebrating or something we should quietly wonder about, like I wonder who his bf is. And what if I am not? There’s not much to it right? Guys only think about three things: sex, meat and/or sports.

So, (to keep things straight; pun intended) I am not gay. I am a guy in dietetics; single, not particularly athletic, not totally into power tools, not an asshole, not a creep, and not confused. Well… maybe confused. Because since when did I have to be one of the above? I like to dance with friends, not up against strangers. I love to cook and dare I say bake? I’d also take pilates with a friend over grunting at the gym any day.

When I started in dietetics, I did it to empower others to internalize ways to improve their condition. By prioritizing their own wellness they can become more than what they think they are or what others may think of them. But you know what? There was a time when a friend asked me, “So are you going to do army or sports nutrition?” Those apparently were my options as a guy in dietetics. Another time during applications a classmate blurted out, “oh you’ll get into that internship for sure…you’re a guy.”

Please, let that sink in.

At times when I “muscled through,” my merits came down to who I am or what I should be. Other times, when I was at my lowest point, I felt trapped in the man box, unable to cry or complain about my shortcomings; something about ‘manning up’ and ‘not being such a pussy.’

I am beautiful because in light of what I should or should not be, I choose who I want to be. When you are hurt by that guy and you swear that all guys are assholes… “But not you Bryan…” What am I then? When you laugh about how a guy tried to ask you out on a date and it was a total epic fail, how am I supposed to react? Should l feel more or less adequate about asking someone out on a date?

Over the years, I have realized that those sweeping generalizations do not define me. Being a man or a woman should not mean someone should act or feel a certain way. So I choose to be who I am and what I want to be is beautiful. I think you should think that about yourself too. There are many things left unsaid in this world, but we can choose to say the one thing we should never regret saying: “I am beautiful.” There, I said it…and I’m a guy.