Friday, October 29, 2010

They’re On the Way . . . Starting with Halloween . . . Ending January 2

The holidays. We love them, we hate them. We eat too much. We spend too much. We don’t have enough time. We have stress. We’re never ready. And then, all of a sudden, the holidays are over, and we’re let down, depressed, even more stressed—and many of us feel guilty. There’s no way to un-eat, un-drink or un-spend what we spent the previous two months eating, drinking and spending. Time for damage control.

Experts agree that pre- and post-holiday stress is a combination of many factors: unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the demands of shopping, parties, family, house guests—and a little too much joy and cheer.

We experience stress in the form of headaches, overeating, difficulty sleeping, muscle tension, bloating and fatigue from too much fat or sugar—and the guilt that accompanies all of it. Stress is sometimes the result of just a little too much of everything, even the good times with family and friends.

But it’s not good. Did you know? . . .

  • 55 percent to 85 percent of all illnesses are thought to be stress related
  • 88 percent of all employees say they have a hard time juggling work and life
  • Stress costs American employers approximately $200 billion a year in absenteeism, lower productivity, health care and workers compensation costs
  • Between 75—90 percent of visits to primary care physicians are related to stress

If you recognize that the holidays can be responsible for increased stress levels, you’ve already started to address the problem. Take a deep breath—or a series of deep breaths. Make just a “little” plan to get you from one event, one day, one action to the next. A plan puts you in control of situations that seem out of control. Even the act of planning is productive. The reward is the follow-through.

None of us is immune, but all of us should be able to take steps to better manage holiday-related stress and stressors. Keep in mind, the holidays are about more than gifts and food. Yes, we’re celebrating, but take a minute and think about what you’re really celebrating. And, who you’re celebrating with—and why. What happens if we all act accordingly?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Here We Are

It took just two generations. In the seventies only about 5 percent of our children were obese. In the eighties, childhood obesity was considered an “issue of possible concern.” In the nineties it progressed from a definite concern to today’s epidemic.

Type 2 diabetes follows along the same path. During the last 30 years, type 2 diabetes has increased 1,000 percent, with more than 4,100 new cases diagnosed every day. And, more than 80 percent of people with diabetes are overweight or obese. An estimated 92 percent of the growing number of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.

Now, consider that the foods we choose to eat on a daily basis (yes, that’s choose to eat) contribute 80 percent to whether we will develop diabetes, heart disease or cancer. But, consider too, that just a 7 percent weight loss can result in a 58 percent improvement in the risk of progressing from prediabetes to diabetes. (This part at least can be seen as good news.)

So here we are . . . and where are we going?

Sure, there’s plenty of blame to pass around. As food becomes more processed, we all consume more sugar, fat and salt. We spend more time in front of screens. We don’t cook, we bring dinner home in a bag or box. We’ve become used to larger portions and all-you-can-eat buffets. Snacks are now sized and bagged for convenience—chips, cookies, candy, bite-size chocolate bars—but who stops at just one? And, don’t forget soda. It’s grown up too, from the 6.5 oz. bottles to a “big gulp.” No longer special treats, these “snacks” now account for 50 percent of calories consumed by children ages 2 to 18 . . . and 40 percent of those calories are nutritionally empty. Keep in mind, these are ‘learned’ behaviors. They can be ‘unlearned.’ (So, this too can be good news if we take the responsibility to make a few positive changes.)

Still, none of this changes the fact that for the first time in 200 years, this current generation of children may have shorter life expectancies than their parents because of totally preventable diseases. We can all agree that this legacy is unconscionable. Yes, here we are, and it’s past time to move forward. But we can . . . the question is, will we?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When Thoughts Become Things

Did you know you have between 12,000 and 50,000 thoughts per day? (That number varies depending on your work, how creative or how “deep” a thinker you are.) Of these thoughts, about 95 percent are the same from day to day, and 80 percent of them are negative!

And, did you know that out of every 11,000 signals we receive from our senses, our brain only consciously processes 40 – and while your brain is processing those 40 signals, the other 10,960 are sent to autopilot. Here’s where habits kick-in, and here’s where thinking about what you’re doing can lead to positive behavior changes (which as you know is what we’re all about).

In 1973, yes, that’s 37 years ago, Napoleon Hill (not Napoleon Dynamite) wrote Think and Grow Rich, one of the best-selling books of all time. But, before that, in 1925, twelve years earlier, he wrote The Law of Success, released as a limited hand-made edition consisting of only 118 copies. Those copies were distributed to Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller and 115 more of the most successful and powerful people in American history.

In a nutshell, here’s what he had to say:

  • First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. (You can see the beginning of the process starts in your imagination with your thoughts.)
  • If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.
  • It’s always your next move.
  • The starting point of all achievement is desire (maybe just not for food).
  • Any idea, plan or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.

Mr. Hill had a lot more to say in those two books. And, here we are today, many of us looking for ways to reduce stress, lose weight—and regain control over our long-term health and wellness. Given the number of thoughts we’re dealing with, we think a little thought can lead to a lot of change. What do you think?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Aw, Mom . . .

There are a lot of scary things in the world that most of us feel powerless to do anything about. So, when presented with a critical problem we each have the power to change, why don’t we?

Childhood obesity is high on everyone’s list of important issues that must first be faced and then reversed. There’s a lot of blame to go around, and much of it is misplaced. But, when nearly one out of every three American children is obese or overweight it’s time for those who can do something about it to step up. Mom . . . Dad? Are you listening?

If you want your kids to be healthy, and grow up to be healthy adults, the single most important thing you can do is lead the way by being a healthy role model. Consider that:

  • If one parent is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that the children will also be obese. However, when both parents are obese, the children have an 80 percent chance of being obese. – American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • The single factor that puts children at greatest risk of being overweight is having obese parents. –Stanford University of Medicine researchers.
  • Recent market research shows that when the adult female caregiver eats healthfully, the majority of kids in the household do so as well.Eating Well Magazine, June 2010

According to a new survey conducted by national non-profit group Healthy Women, only 28 percent of women think they can do anything about childhood obesity. Guess what? Mom’s BMI (body mass index) has a greater impact on a child at every age than Dad’s. (Check your BMI here.) It may be unfair that it falls on Mom, but there’s a scientific reason. Mothers are viewed more as role models and are the “gatekeepers” of the food. They are also primarily responsible for planning, cooking, serving and shopping for most of the family meals.

And it starts before birth . . . the Healthy Women survey found that only 11 percent of women realize that being obese during the first trimester of pregnancy more than doubles the child’s risk of becoming obese. Research from Harvard Medical School shows that the more weight a woman gains during pregnancy, the greater the child’s chances are of being overweight by age three. Today, one in five women is obese at the time of conception.

It’s a cycle, and going forward with the same old/ same old isn’t the answer. But there is a solution. Each of us is the solution. CLICK HERE for a short presentation about what you can do to help reverse childhood obesity.

What can you do to reverse the cycle? Do you have ideas to share? We can all use them.