Thursday, November 17, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Have you ever been driving through a toll crossing only to find that the person in front of you had mysteriously paid for you? Have you ever found an Itunes card in your mailbox with a note that said, “listen to something that makes you smile”? Has a kind person ever offered to put your shopping cart back after emptying your groceries? Have you ever found flowers on your doorstep or a note on your car that said, “Have the BEST day, you deserve it!” How cool would it be if anyone of these things happened to you? Wouldn’t it just make your day?
I know it would, but I honestly think what would make your day even more awesome would be if you were the person performing all these wonderful acts of kindness. It’s called paying it forward and it’s good for the soul. It’s also good for the world because if today, every single person did something nice for someone else, than every single person would also have had something nice done for them. Even if you don’t believe me, and you think that the world is unfair and no one takes care of you so why should you take care of others. Well, I’m sorry that life has been so sour for you and while I run the risk of making you cringe, we all know that sour lemonade just needs a little sugar, so sweeten up and take a sip.
There is a fabulous woman named Patience Salgado who makes her life work into paying it forward.
She leaves Starbucks gift cards on park benches, on the first day of school she writes chalk messages on the sidewalk “don’t be shy, were all new friends”, she sticks free ice cream coupons into backpacks at the department store (just waiting for someone to get a happy surprise). She and her kids will even do guerilla missions, ringing the doorbell of a stranger and dashing but not without leaving behind some flowers.
Here’s an excerpt about my favorite of her escapades from Oprah magazine:
But her work isn't all sweetness and cheerful slogans. Last year, when a hate group announced plans to picket local Jewish and LGBT organizations, Salgado helped found Pennies in Protest, urging residents to donate to the organizations being targeted. In one week, they raised nearly $14,000. (She also sent the hate group a note to thank them for inspiring such generosity.)
Come on, how amazing is that?
I propose that this week we all try and do a little paying it forward. Like the cheesy bumper sticker says, Let’s all practice, Random Acts of Kindness”. My hope is that you all become addicted. If you do end up trying something out, let me hear about it. Hopefully you can help inspire other readers! If you're not sure where to start, check out this list.
Monday, September 26, 2011
The BF (oops I mean BT, betrothed) and I have undergone the brilliant endeavor of joining weight watchers in order to get our eating and drinking habits in check. They have unconsciously gotten a bit out of hand. You know how it is when you’re in love, right? Drinking a little more wine, eating out a bit more, eating larger portions (it’s hard to cook only for two) and generally not paying attention can add on the pounds and make you unaware of what you consume.
The tricky thing is how to figure out how many servings you’re supposed to eat in a day in order to maintain health and keep oneself from packing on the freshman 15, or in my case the fiancé 5. Now I have always been a giant believer in mindful eating and paying attention to your body to know when your hungry/what to eat etc. but sometimes when you’re busy it’s hard to pay attention and that’s why the BT and I have decided to enlist help.
There are tons of ways you can learn how much you need to eat. The USDA has a fabulous site called www.mypyramid.gov that explains healthy eating and portion control and there is even a tracker so you can track what you’re eating and pay attention. Most of the time I don’t even realize I’m snaking on food at work unless I am writing it down and actually paying attention. Also I was recently introduced by an awesome colleague of mine (Mary-Ellen Di Paola; the best dietitian I know) to Harvard's own version of the governments' healthy plate. www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/pyramid/
It is extremely informative and I think Harvard did a great job.
This week I would love everyone to start paying attention to what they consume. Maybe you will find that you don’t eat enough. If you look at your day and realize that your food intake consists of 7 cups of coffee and a muffin until dinner, it might explain those afternoon headaches. Maybe you aren’t reading a label and instead of one serving in your Trader Joe's salad, it’s 2. (I did that)
If paying attention drives you crazy or makes you a neurotic mess then please disregard this message and go back to mindful eating. You can read more about that here: wellnesswithsarah.blogspot.com/2010/05/in-fog.html Otherwise, have a great week and Bon Appétit’
Be Good to your Body, it's where you Live
Monday, September 12, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
As anyone who knows me will attest, I have strong opinions and when I am particularly excited about something, you will have a hard time shutting me up. Well I am at this moment building up anger over the matter of the, “obesity epidemic”.
I am sure you’ve heard of it. It’s all one can do to not hear about how fat is killing us, and our children and how it’s worse than the plague. Apparently fat causes diabetes and high cholesterol, and shot knees and high blood pressure and even death.
Well I disagree.
What exactly is overweight or obese? The only medical factor that determines if a person is overweight is the BMI. The BMI is an archaic tool that was invented in the 1800’s. According to the BMI, most professional athletes are overweight. Other than the BMI, we determine if a person is overweight by the medical problems they may have (diabetes, high cholesterol) or by the way they look. But can’t you have high cholesterol or diabetes and not be overweight? Yes! And can't you be medically overweight and still be extremely healthy? Yes!
We also determine if a person is overweight by what we, in our heads think is “normal”. Most people have a number. A number in their heads that they feel they should weigh. Great, that’s fine, I have a number too but I feel compelled to remind myself, and you, that we made those numbers up. We made them up in our heads based on society, our driver’s license or what we weighed in high school. It’s a made up number!
Being overweight is relative. Overweight based on what? What you used to weigh? What other people who are the same height as you weigh? Or what you think you should weigh?
There are a million unhealthy “thin” people and there are a million healthy “overweight” people. The real epidemic is un-health not over-fat. Unhealthy is not synonymous with overweight.
It sucks when a 7 yr. old kid gets winded walking to school. But what’s the problem? It’s not fat. It’s health. That child needs exercise not a society telling them the way they look might kill them someday. It is so much easier to add something good than to take away something “bad”. Add exercise because it boosts our mood and lowers our blood pressure. Add green vegetables because they keep our heart healthy. Add whole grains because our brain needs them.
I am not sure what I hope to change with this article. I suppose I am hoping you will think about it next time you hear a news story about “the epidemic” or have your BMI measured or judge someone on the bus. Or worst of all judge yourself. Strive for health. Not un-fat.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Everybody has heard the term introvert or extrovert and I am sure most people have labeled themselves or someone else at one time or another. “Oh, she’s an extrovert, she’ll be fine at the party.” Or, “he’s an introvert, so very shy.” Until recently I had always thought of myself as an extrovert. I am social and loud and friendly. I have no fear of talking to strangers and I love being the center of attention. Extrovert, right? Not so fast.
The true definition of an extrovert is a person who gets their energy from other people and an introvert is someone whose fuel comes from being alone. Most people are a bit of a mix of both.
Take the BF and me: I love, love, love to be alone. I can take days in row where I don’t leave the house, and all I do is read, sew and watch cheesy movies. I like to take walks by myself and go to the movies alone. I like long hours spent doing nothing but daydreaming, alone in my pajamas. Sometimes I become overwhelmed by all the activity and social engagements of life and I have to actually schedule alone time in order to recharge the batteries. It’s not that I don’t like being social but sometimes it’s too much for me.
The BF is the opposite. He gets his fuel from the energy of others. He likes to entertain and have people round for supper and BBQ’s and pool parties. He spends long drives chatting to family members and friends on the phone (Bluetooth of course). It’s not that he can’t or doesn’t like to be alone, it’s that he gets his energy from connection with others.
And yet if you met us both at a party you would think I was the extrovert and he was the introvert. He is much less chatty than me and definitely less dramatic (thank goodness, right?)
Have you ever thought about where your fuel comes from? I mean you get energy from the food you eat and the exercise you take but is your life giving you more energy or is it depleting you?
I spend most of my day being pretty social. I am always around people and so by the end of the day I am fairly depleted. Because I know that I need extra alone time for refueling I make sure to give myself that time. Today I am going to take a walk in the park by myself. If you are the opposite and stare at a computer all day with v little interaction but you happen to be an extrovert, you might find it helpful to schedule time for lunch dates and after work events.
Take a look at yourself and discover if you are an extrovert or an introvert or both. When you know what pumps you up, you can make sure to fill your tank with the correct type of fuel. You wouldn’t put diesel fuel in a gasoline only car. If you did, it certainly wouldn’t run as well or at all.
Let’s all give ourselves the premium grade this week and notice how it affects our ability to drive.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.
Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I recently finished reading the book, Eating Well for Optimum Health, by Andrew Weil. I found it on a shelf in a used book store and thought, “why not?” It was the best purchase I have made in awhile and it was only 75 cents. It is a great book! Dr. Weil has v few opinions in the book; he just tells it like it is. “This is what we know, and this is what we don’t know.” He goes through the most common fad diets and explains exactly what the scientific pros and cons are and he never recommends any of them. There was lots of practical information for me regarding autoimmune diseases but there was also a lot of really interesting information for anyone wondering a little more about nutrition and how our bodies use carbohydrates, fat and protein. I highly recommend it.
What had to be my most favorite part of the book however was a story not by Dr. Weil but by Ronald Koetzsch from Camaraderie is the Best Diet.
Mr. Koetzsch tells a story of his time visiting friends when he chose to abstain from the frivolity of the meal because he wanted to “be healthy”. He fell asleep listening to the sounds of laughter and chatter and awoke not feeling triumphant or self-righteous but feeling left out and groggy.
Did you know that the word companion comes from the word panis, which means bread? A companion was someone with whom you would “break bread”. There is also a Japanese phrase for intimate companion, which translates to, one who eats rice from the same bowl.
Mr. Koetzsch explains, “When food is blessed by being shared, by being eaten in fellowship and laughter…all food is health food.”
How many times do you eat your lunch sharing and chatting with your friends? Is it more likely you will spend it checking emails? How many nights is dinner in front of the TV? How often is breakfast a rushed and hectic affair?
I say, “Turn off the TV! Log off the PC (or MAC if you’re like me) and share your meal with someone close to you or someone you’d like to be closer to.”
Savor the experience of eating instead of trying desperately to get it over with. Granted this is a lot easier at suppertime but I have faith that we can make it happen for other meals too. Maybe you can pal up with a friend from work and offer to bring lunch for the both of you. The next day they can do the same. You will get the opportunity to try something new and enjoy a mini party mid day.
Even if you live alone (me) and there is no one to share breakfast with, you can still savor the enjoyment of eating by paying attention to your food. Actually taste it and chew it well. Put on some music or enjoy the silence and relish the first meal of the day. This is what will fuel you; give it the respect it deserves by focusing on it and remembering it.
“He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.” — Henry David Thoreau
Monday, July 11, 2011
This weekend I watched the women’s world cup soccer game between the USA and Brazil. It was amazing. I really mean that, I loved every minute of it. I was up out of my seat and screaming at the TV. I sat on the sofa on a gorgeous mid-morning while the sun was shining outside and I stared at a television rapt with awe. This is not normal behavior for Sarah. I am not a huge sports fan. I mean I am becoming one more and more each day because of the influence of one BF but I have yet to start watching it on my own. This is what made Saturday morning so bizarre. And there is something even more crazy. I watched the game twice. I watched it once live and then later some friends who had taped it were watching it and I watched it again. Who am I?
Last night I was talking to the BF and trying to sort out what made it so exhilarating for me. I came up with a few ideas. Firstly, it was the USA. I don’t have a team really. I like watching sports live and I will always pick a team to root for while watching a game but I have yet to buy the wallpaper for a particular team, except the USA. There is never any doubt that they are my team.
Secondly I have never been more impressed with the ability to soldier on than I was watching the US. They had so many things go wrong: a vindictive or just out of it referee, 10 players against 11, the fakest injury by the Brazil team I have ever seen, and the amazing skills of some really awesome players on the Brazil team.
The ladies of US soccer never gave up. They played with so much heart and so much gusto that I was literally blown out of my seat. When in your life have you ever come across some obstacles? When have you felt like life (or a rubbish ref) was out to get you? Today I feel like RA is out to get me. I hurt. I feel pushed down and exhausted. I can either give up and say, “F it! The ref gave me a red card, the game is over, how will I ever overcome that?” Or I can say, “Hell no RA, you will not take me down because I will never stop giving my all and I will never stop fighting to win!”
No matter how many fouls have been thrown your way, you still have the power to stay in the game if you give it your all and you never give up!
Be Good to your Body, it's where you Live
Monday, June 27, 2011
As the days creep closer to the 4th of July I tend to get pretty excited. I love, love, love fireworks and I’m also quite partial to BBQs, pool parties and the general merriment surrounding such an important holiday. But of course as I am wont to do I find myself thinking about the significance of the upcoming day in history. We celebrate the 4th because it is the day when the declaration of independence was signed and America declared itself free from the rule of Great Britain.
Now I am not going to get into a history lesson but I do think that the notion of independence is a really important one when it comes to our health and our habits.
Have you ever heard of the term emotional independence? I heard it a lot when I was dating. “I want a man with emotional independence etc. etc.” I thought it meant that a person knew what their issues or baggage were and could talk about it like a grown-up. I certainly believe that’s a valid skill to have but I no longer believe it’s called emotional independence. I have come to think that EI as it shall now be named is the ability to feel what you’re feeling regardless of what someone else is feeling. Example: I wake up and it is a great day. The sun is shining, birds are singing and little mice have made me a beautiful dress to wear, this day is perfect and nothing could go wrong. As I am walking down the street in my lovely mouse-made frock, a friend comes up to me who is in a v bad mood. She says, “Ugh, this day sucks and your dress is ugly.” (Not a great example of a friend really) Emotional independence would be my ability to not let this un-friend get me down. I am happy. Just because she chooses to not be happy does not mean I will. If I did not have EI, her mean and grumpy mood would wipe away my smiles like Windex and I would spend the rest of the day in a funk and not know why.
Another form of non-EI can happen when you base how you feel about yourself and your behaviors on what someone else thinks of you. Or even worse, what you think someone else thinks of you. Example: Me again in my critter designed creation happily walking down the street when I am confronted with an old friend. She doesn’t see me, even when I wave. I get a little anxious. Did she ignore me? Have I done something wrong? Oh my goodness I wonder if I have somehow upset her. Non-EI is you jumping to conclusions and then having those conclusions affect your wellbeing. Even if she walked right up to me and said, “Sarah, you are a laundry list of awful. “ It’s still only her word against mine and my EI says, “No, I am a laundry list of rad.”
Now of course, the caveat: There will always be moments when you cannot help but have your emotions swayed by the likes of others. If a friend is ill or you are at a stand up comedy show you may feel compelled into sadness or joy, but you have the power to decide that you will let them affect you. That’s the big ah ha with EI. You have the power to control how you feel, no one else does, only you. And that is some awesome independence.
This weekend as you celebrate the independence of a great nation, why not also celebrate the independence of a great person. Don’t let anybody tell you how you can or cannot feel. Only you can make yourself feel small. So make yourself feel grand!
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I have this lovely little book that I read every morning. It’s just a page per day and it’s full of little stories or affirmations or ideas for how to lead a more lovely life. Lately the pages have been filled with anecdotes on gardening and flowers and the blooms of summer. The author recommends that every one would benefit from kneeling in the dirt, digging a hole and planting some seeds or flowers. I am not a gardener. First off I live in an apartment. Secondly, I am impatient. But I am also an avid follower of self-help goals so I decided to stick my hands in the dirt.
About a month ago I bought a package of seeds and some little pots and decided to make an herb garden. I filled the pots with soil, I planted the seeds, I sat them in the sunshine and I watered them. They never grew past the seedling phase and eventually they died. They died because I stopped watering them when I lost interest in the fact that they weren’t growing. I wanted them to grow faster.
Have you ever felt this way about your life? Has there ever been something you have been interested in, something you’ve been working on to better yourself or to grow and when you don’t see results, you stop tending to the project?
I see it happening all the time. Maybe you’ve started a weight loss program and when the scale doesn’t budge you give up. Perhaps you have been learning a new language and when you can’t understand the guy speaking Italian at the coffee shop, you quit, just like that. Is there anything you’ve started and stopped because it just didn’t happen fast enough?
Think about my herb garden. Those little seeds sprout from practically nothing: the tiniest grain of sand. All they have is dirt and water and hopefully some encouragement. They have to push their way through all that dirt and pierce the top of the soil and still they have so far to go but they won’t give up (not unless you do). They keep growing and blooming and breathing. But if you stop watering them, if you take away all their sunlight and their dirt and their encouragement, they will die. Well the same thing happens to us.
What is your current goal or project? Are you giving yourself the nutrients and oxygen to flourish? Are you adding kind words of encouragement on a daily basis? Are you practicing patience? The seeds will grow, they just need a little time and so do you. Take a sip of water. Take a deep breath and whisper to yourself. “I am growing right now.”
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Imagine a scenario:
You’re in a bad mood. Something awful has just entered your mind or happened. You are confused and devastated and sorry for yourself. You feel rubbish. All you want to do is curl up at home with a sappy movie and some chardonnay and cry until your eyes hurt and you’re so exhausted/drunk you fall asleep/pass out. Got the picture in your head? OK, now imagine that a well-meaning friend or co-worker or family member says, “Chin up, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” Or maybe they say. “When one door closes, another opens!” Or maybe they can’t finish their asinine comment because you have shoved a scarf in their mouth and pushed them down the stairs.
At least that’s what I imagine doing when my mood stinks and someone tries to turn it into a growth opportunity. Have you ever felt that way? Like miss happy Monday couldn't possibly understand how utterly awful your life/situation/relationship/problem is and how dare he or she have the audacity to try and pull you out of it. I know how that feels. I hate those people, and yet, I hate them because they are &%$#ing right!
Here’s the deal: Sometimes bad stuff happens. Sometimes bad thoughts happen. Sometimes even a good thing to one person may suck to another. Sometimes we feel so deep in the trenches of yucky that we assume we may never get out and there is nothing good that can come of it.
Well unfortunately as much as it’s awesome to stay stuck in the mud, it’s a lie. Something good can come from it. I am not saying that we need bad things to happen or that it’s good when bad things happen, I am saying that yes, sometimes, often times bad things will happen and when they do, we have a choice. We can either freak out and cry and scream and deny and rage and stress and sleep and eat and yell, for the rest of our lives, or we can freak out and cry and scream and rage and stress and sleep and eat and yell, for a moment. Then, we can take a breath. And as we breathe we have the ability to notice what it is that we are going to take from this situation. Will we become bitter and harder and angrier or will we rise above our sadness and learn something about ourselves, and how we want to continue to live our life? I hope that when (as it does) life kicks me in the ass, I am able to stop focusing on my bruised butt and take a gander at where I’ve landed.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Firstly I need to apologize; it has been a few weeks since I’ve written. I just haven’t been able to do it, physically and mentally. Physically, typing has been proving to be somewhat painful and mentally I have had little to inspire others with. Some days it is hard enough to inspire myself. Fortunately for me and for you I have pulled myself out of un-motivation and now I am here to help y’all do the same should you ever find yourself feeling sluggish, un-inspired or downright apathetic.
It all started a couple nights ago when my mother (she really is the basis for all my good ideas, I think when I make it big, I’ll stick her on the payroll) suggested I make a vision board. A vision board for those of you who don’t regularly watch Oprah is basically a large piece of paper that you have collaged with pictures you’ve found, pictures you’ve painted, words, sayings or really anything that inspires you and makes you go, “yeah, that’s it, that’s what I want in my life.” The point of a vision board is to put your goals to the forefront of your mind. I know it still seems woo-woo to some of you, but thinking about positive experiences and goals actually helps to achieve them, while thinking of negative experiences and failures helps to push us farther away from our goals. It can also make us feel lousy and lower our immune system; negative thinking sucks!
Anyway I decided of course to make one and set about keeping it strictly focused on health. I swept through oodles of magazines and cut out any picture that made me feel healthy and positive. Some of the pictures had to do with health and others were random but just made me feel good, so in they went. After I had exhausted all my magazines I laid the cutouts on a piece of poster board and went nuts with some scotch tape. (Glue is good too; I just didn’t have any on hand) My finished product looks a little like something you’d make in grade school art class and it’s perfect (for me). After I’d finished, I set it aside and didn’t really think about it for the rest of the night. I did this all last night.
This morning I woke up feeling amazing. I think my body felt about the same but my mind felt like new. I had a spring in my step, which was noticeable. People at work even commented on it. I was able to complete tasks which have for the past week been too difficult, like taking out the recycling, breaking down a large box, and typing this article. I even went for a three-mile walk and while it’s not like I was pain free, it was bearable and I enjoyed it, more than I have in weeks.
This didn’t happen because some magazines made it so, this happened because I believed it would. Positive thinking really does help. Unfortunately it’s often really difficult to get out of a negative slump (I’ve been there) and a really great tool for pulling you out of the depths is to make a vision board of your goals.
What is it you want? Do you find yourself thinking it will never happen? Time to get out some magazines and start imagining it will. You don’t even need to understand or believe the pictures you use, just stick em on and see what happens. I truly believe it will change your future, and mine.
Monday, May 2, 2011
When I was a little girl, I believed that every time my mom drove through the rainbow tunnel connecting SF to Marin County I could hold my breath and make a wish and it was sure to come true. I spent years turning blue and wishing my heart out for all the things I wanted. Well actually for just one thing; a snoopy snow cone machine. There was nothing I wanted more. I knew that if I could just get my hands on one of those awesome pieces of snow cone making magic, my life would be perfect. I also knew (because I was a young girl and young girls know all there is to know about making wishes) that if I told anyone about my wish it would never come true. The only way to really get my snoopy snow cone machine was to keep hush-hush; it was my secret, my wish.
Every time I went through that tunnel, I wished. Every time I blew out birthday candles, I wished. Every time I blew an eyelash off my finger or scattered the pollen off a flower, I wished. I held my breath and wished for years.
Unfortunately my wishes were not granted. I did not get my snoopy snow cone machine and eventually I stopped wishing for it. Then one day when I was 17 and no longer vying for snow cones I jokingly told my mother the story about how my wish had never come true.
Do you know what she said?
“Sarah, I had no idea you wanted that. If you had told me, I would have gotten you one. It’s no use making a wish you never express, how can you ever expect it to come true? You need to ask for what you want.”
Best advice I have ever gotten.
Best advice I often forget.
The BF and I drove to Marin this weekend and driving through the tunnel I habitually drew in a big gulp of air, puffed out my cheeks and wished. I did not wish for a cool toy or a new dress or a bigger bank balance. I wished I were healthier. It was unconscious. I didn’t plan out this wish. I wasn’t holding out for this car ride in order to finally declare my needs, it just happened.
Can anyone relate? Has anyone ever wished they were thinner or fitter or smarter or younger? Did you tell anyone? I am not talking about whining about it over drinks with your friends (I’ve done that) and I’m not talking about saying negative things to yourself repeatedly until you feel bad (yep, done that too). I’m talking about actually saying out loud (to the wall, your BF or your dog) with no judgment and not a hint of self-loathing, what it is you want. Then after you have declared your wish, figure out what it is you need to do to get it.
Sarah the 6 yr old had only a few options for getting a snow cone machine: telling my mother or asking grandma or Santa Claus were my only choices. But Sarah the 34 yr old who would like to be a little healthier can actually do something about it.
It’s time to stop wishing for things that you are not willing to take the initiative to get.
Want to be healthier? Stop holding your breath and make a change. By telling yourself and the people around you what it is you are trying to accomplish you will receive the support you need to make your wishes come true. This does not mean that wishing upon a star no longer has it's place. I think there is nothing greater than hope and wishes and magic but if you aren't willing to work hard for your wishes than the magic of the world can never help you get them.
In the end I did get my snoopy snow cone machine. My mom found one at a garage sale and gave it to me for my 18th birthday. Moral: wishes do come true, if you make them.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Last year I saw a commercial for Old Spice body wash and I liked it so much, I re-watched it on you tube. I emailed it to my friends, I posted it on Facebook and I promptly went out and bought said body wash.
Recently at a Mexican restaurant I ordered a DOS XX for the sole reason that the commercials for “the most interesting man in the world” are the most interesting thing on TV to me.
And two days ago I found myself wanting to leave the comfort of my own home because an ad on TV for the Olive Garden made me believe that my life would be better with breadsticks.
I do not particularly like the smell of old spice. And I like it even less on me than I like smelling it on someone of the opposite sex. That means purchasing old spice body wash was a waste of money and just strange. However it was pretty harmless in the scheme of things. But what about when you don’t realize that you are being manipulated by advertising and the product in question could affect your health?
Do you choose your medication based on the commercial? Do you alter your grocery shopping based on print ads? Do you find yourself singing the jingle for fast food restaurants? Do you know the slogan/address/catch phrase of local places from the radio? Think about it.
Ok, first off, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I love good advertising. I mean, everyone does. Look at how popular the super bowl commercials are. The problem (as far as I’m concerned) is not in liking the advertisement. The problem happens when you are unaware of it. I know that I will always have a penchant for old spice, Nike footwear, orbit gum, bud light and most recently volkswagens. I know that 90% of the reason I like those things are because of advertising. But what about the food commercials I am not really aware of? I don’t even have to like the fast food ad but when I see a sexy guy eating a big mac in a beautiful open landscape and there is catchy music and he looks to be thoroughly enjoying it and then an announcer tells me that yes, he is having the best eating experience of his life, it’s hard not to fall for it subconsciously. I may not even have noticed it happening, but later in the week when I pass by said restaurant, I might find that my mouth starts to water and the familiar jingle appears in my head and I am struck with an overwhelming urge to stop and eat. To the untrained observer (there is one in all of us) we think we actually want that burger. We are having a hard time separating the person who was sucked into the TV and the person who is actually hungry.
This week I would like you to try and notice when advertising is swaying you. If you are checking your email, and banners for TGI Fridays keep flashing across your screen, take note. Are you getting hungry? When you watch a Claritin ad do you immediately get the sinking feeling that you too have asthma? All of the ads on TV are designed to make us believe that we need the thing they are selling. However most of the time we do not need anything. Or at least not anything you can buy. And this is why my favorite advertising is Kaiser Permanente. Their Thrive campaign actually makes me feel like I want to lead a healthier life and I don’t even need to be a Kaiser member or purchase anything. What is advertising doing to you? Maybe nothing, but more than likely it’s persuading you to buy, think, eat, do something. Is that something helping you or hurting you? Only you will know.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Many moons ago my mom gave me some advice concerning relationships. She said, “Sarah, pick your battles.” I looked up at her naively, “But mama, I am never going to have a fight in my relationship, it’s going to be perfect.” Little did I know, even prince charming is going to piss you off once in awhile and now I know what she meant: Not every fight is worth fighting. Sometimes, you just have to let go and give in. Pick the fights that mean something to you, or rather, pick the ones that mean the most something because they will all mean a little something.
I feel the same way about nutrition.
There are so many do’s and don’ts. There are just so many. Can you even digest them all? There is so much information out there and I am reading it every single day. I know you are too. Sometimes you even read it from me. J That’s why I pick my battles.
Stay away from canned foods. Stay away from processed foods. Eat coconut oil and salmon. Don’t eat salmon. Don’t eat tuna. Take more vitamin B. Don’t eat meat. Eat meat. Don’t eat anything with a name you can’t pronounce. Eat fiber, no really, eat more fiber, and why not take a fiber supplement. Coffee is evil. Tea is good. Wine is good. Only drink luke-warm Brita water and food that came from a farm down the street and fruit that wasn’t picked but merely fell from a tree and chicken made from soy that tastes like beef and never forget to eat your acai berries. Or wait, was it blueberries? And for Heavens sake stay away from artificial sweeteners. I am sure you can think of about 800 more.
Do you really want to fight all those battles? Maybe you do. Maybe they all mean a little something to you. But do they all mean a lot of something to you?
I think the way that you mediate between the a lots and the a littles is by figuring out why you are worrying about them in the first place.
Are you trying to lower your cholesterol? Is the number one priority on your list to lose weight or have strong bones? Are you trying to gain weight or muscle? Are you worried about your heart or your lungs? Are you trying to prevent cancer and other illnesses? Why are you worried? Is it because you saw an ad on TV that told you to be worried? Is it because you read a book that said, “be afraid”? Is it because your doctor told you or you read about a study in science daily? Is it just an innate sense of health that keeps you wanting to strive to be the healthiest you can be, or do you just want all around general good health?
All of these questions will yield a different battle.
My battle is with an inflamed wrist that seems to act up when I eat too many processed inflammatory foods. That is a battle worth fighting for me. That means that I am not really that concerned about whether my water is filtered or my vegetables are organic. What I am concerned about is how much sugar and processed chemicals I consume. I recently watched Food Inc and it scarred me for life so now I will only eat organic meat and dairy. I am fighting that battle all the way to the bank (man organic meat is expensive) but I am not worrying about the cholesterol in said meat. I am eating it anyway, fat, cholesterol and all. I love, love, love vegetables so I eat them in abundance every day. As for the processed foods, there are these ice cream bars chock full of chemicals that I absolutely adore. Do I refrain completely because of said wrist? No, sometimes that is a battle I'm not going to fight.
I do not have the time, wallet or fear to eat all organic, stop eating meat, alcohol, coffee or aspartame completely. I eat food out of cans; sometimes I drink soda, most of the time I am pretty healthy…except when I’m not.
See what I mean? Being healthy doesn’t mean fighting every food battle. Sometimes we need to give in, read: eat skinny cow. Sometimes we need to fight and we need to say, no, I will not be having seconds/eating that non-organic potato/drinking that diet soda/eating while watching TV.
The point is that we need to figure it out for ourselves.
We know what we can and want to do. We are the only people in our relationship with ourselves and so we are the only ones who know which battles are worth the fight.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
While on a trip to Santa Monica a few weeks ago I learned from a rather adorable almost 2 year-old how to live a healthier life, but what I haven’t told you is how that adorable girl’s parents taught me to make eating a sacred event.
Mimi and George say grace before eating and while I do not consider myself a religious person I am fully adopting the habit.
“Grace is the name of any short prayer said or intentioned prior to eating as a way of thanking deities for the meal at hand or imparting a blessing on the meal and those partaking it, thus sanctifying the food.”
It used to be that food was pretty scarce and when you had a meal, it was kind of a big deal. Taking a moment to thank the Universe for providing it and praying that it didn’t make you sick were a little more obvious. Now we (thankfully) don’t have that problem. Food is in abundance (at least for most everyone reading this) and it’s not such a big deal to order a pizza or cook up a chicken. This is of course fortunate, and sometimes unfortunate. We’ve forgotten how freaking cool and important it is. I think we need to look at food as something a little more sacred. It is, after all what gives us energy and life.
This does not mean that I think everyone should go home, steeple their hands and pray to God before they eat. Grace does not have to be a religious thing. What about making grace a human thing. Before I ate my lunch this afternoon I took a moment to be present in the moment and thank MY God (this can be whomever you want, God, Allah, Buddha, the Universe, your mother, yourself or Yoda). Recognize that it is wonderful and special to be here on earth and have the ability to fuel your own body.
Take a moment to think about what you are putting into your body and give some thanks for the greatness that is your sandwich.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The 17 month old is a little girl named Bela, who might just be the cutest little girl I have ever seen. I know I am unbelievably biased, but honestly, she is. Bela is also the healthiest person I have ever met. I'm not even being biased here, it's true.
And so this update is about how if we could all be a little more like Bela (or many other babies and toddlers) we would all be a bit healthier. Here are my top three reasons why she is my new guru of health.
She sleeps for 12 hours every night and has a 2 hour nap every day. Ok, I know that is probably a bit excessive for the average grown-up but it certainly couldn't hurt to try and get a little closer to the toddler schedule. I mean would it be so difficult to go to bed 15 minutes earlier? Bela doesn't always want to go down, she cries and says no and then promptly falls asleep. That is exactly what would happen to you. A few tears, a little fuss but if you make yourself go to bed, you will eventually sleep. We train ourselves to sleep at a certain time. If you start going to bed earlier, it will start to become a habit.
She gets upset and then gets over it. Let's say she's upset because she has to put on shoes (isn't that a bit of a pain for us all?) she stomps her bare feet, lets out a little moan and then goes off looking for her favorite toy. When she has to come back inside after playing, she gets a little flustered, bursts out a bit of a cry, walks through the door and looks at you expectantly as she asks for some apple. Out with the old and in with the new. Wouldn't it be great if when something bad happened, we just got upset and then let it go? I'm not saying you shouldn't get upset; I am all for getting upset. Let it out! Then let it go!
And Bela's number one awesomely healthy behavior? She eats when she's hungry and stops when she's full!
Can you believe it? I know, it's amazing, but it's true. She will never finish something just because she's sad or distracted or angry. If she's sad or distracted or angry, she is just that. She is incapable of eating while feeling those feelings. Next time you want to raid the fridge at midnight, ask yourself, are you feeling something and mistaking it for hunger or do you really want that pint of ice cream?
There are so many more too, a couple of my favorites that didn't make the top three are:
She laughs all the time
She exercises for AT LEAST an hour every day
She is inquisitive about the world
She loves to read
This week let's all try to be a little more childlike in our outlook on health. Come on, be a big baby with Bela and me.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The most wonderful thing happened to me this morning. I was simply going about my day when I happened to wander into the ladies room here at UCSF and was bombarded by positively inspirational and complimentary post it notes stuck on every single mirror. Instead of noticing how tired I looked or how dirty my hair seemed, I smiled and actually giggled a little as I read:
“You’re kind of a big deal; just saying.”
As I walked out and passed by the full-length mirror I was hit with a burst of confidence as I read, “Wow, you look great today!”
It’s really difficult to feel bad about yourself when you are reading positive statements while looking in the mirror. It the same reason why we end up feeling so bad when we continually tell ourselves we’re not beautiful or we’re stupid or we’re just not good enough. If we tell ourselves those things enough times we will start to believe them and we will end up living them as truth instead of the thing we made up in our head.
If we keep telling ourselves we rock, then eventually we will start to believe that too and isn’t it better to believe you’re awesome than to believe you suck? It just takes practice.
So what better way to practice than to take an example from the UCSF feel good fairy? This week I want everyone to write some positive statements on a few post-it notes. If you can’t think of what to write, have a friend write it for you or use some of the examples below. Then put those post-its on every mirror in your house. If your husband/wife/child/roommate/cat thinks you’re nuts, oh well. Tell them I am making you do it.
Put them up on your steering wheel or on your computer. Secretly put them up in the bathroom at your work. Leave them on your neighbor’s desk or stick it to a seat on the bus. Lets make this a week of reminding ourselves, and others that we are amazing, because we are. I truly believe that.
Some possible post-it’s
You are beautiful, no I mean it; you are gorgeous.
You blow me away!
You are awesome, I mean really awesome.
You are kind of a big deal, seriously.
You light up this room.
Wow! You are hot as fire today!
Damn you’re smart!
Come on, seriously? Is that smile legal?
Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live
Monday, February 14, 2011
This morning a client informed me of an article in Science magazine about a recent study testing the effects of expressive writing, about test anxiety, on test results. Turns out the results were conclusive. (I also found an article on the study told in more lay mans terms)
The study found that taking a few minutes to write about the forthcoming anxiety actually helped alleviate it and the students performed better on their exams. I think that we could use this information to help us in all kinds of situations.
This totally goes against what we naturally feel inclined to do. Have you ever told someone who was nervous about something, “think of something else; just let your mind relax and think happy thoughts?” I certainly have. I tell myself that all the time. Just be positive, Sarah. Don’t focus on the negative Sarah. The glass is half full Sarah. And that’s all well and good for daily life thoughts but I am talking about specific instances when anxieties are getting the best of you.
Maybe you have to give a speech or sing karaoke or disappoint a friend or go to a high school reunion.
Maybe taking a few minutes before doing any of the above things could actually help alleviate the stress. The idea being that if you get the anxiety out of your mind and out of your body, you will have more space for success. Think of all the cortisol building up in your body while you fret over an impending work meeting. Put those worries to paper and you just might surprise yourself with the space you have left to wow your co-workers.
Pick something, anything that might normally cause you anxiety and all this week immediately before you do it, try writing about it. That’s the clincher too, it has to be immediately before you do it otherwise you will have tons of time to jack the anxiety back up.
Do you get worked up before rush hour with impending doom about the traffic? Free write all your fears; the worst thing that could happen, then get in the car, turn on the tunes and drive home happy. The anxiety can fester on your desk.
Nervous about a first date? Write out those anxieties and all that scares you, then put on some lipstick (or whatever date attire makes you feel great) and proceed with confidence, because your worries will be literally left at home.
I know that you might be scared that if you write down your fears they will somehow be real and they will come true but I promise that’s not going to happen. That anxiety you feel is living inside of you and putting it on paper is only going to get it out.
What’s the worst that could happen? Now on a count of three, let’s write…
Be Good to your Body, it's where you Live
Thursday, February 10, 2011
For years, I muddled my way through yoga classes pretending I had some semblance of a clue as to why we were chanting, bowing, or continuing to say that word, namaste. I even started hearing people using it in non-yoga moments. Famous people started bowing during acceptance speeches, yoga girls were using namaste as a thank you when the barista handed them their skinny chai lattes. It’s emblazoned across t-shirts and baseball caps, it’s everywhere, this word, and I was still unsure what it meant. Eventually I drummed up enough courage to ask a yoga teacher; I was a little nervous but it went pretty well. The teacher said to me, “It means I bow to you.” Oh … I see, now I completely understand. I walked away nodding my head and smiling like a person who has suddenly had their eyes opened ... not.
I bow to you? That’s it? It’s just a description of what everyone has been doing?
What was she talking about? I was even more confused than before. Why was it so important? Why were celebrities saying it? Does it even need to be said if that’s what you’re doing when you say it? So many questions … if only there had been Google then.
Since that fateful yoga class, I have done my own fair share of studying and yes, it does mean, I bow to you, but it’s much more than that. The mantra I use for myself is this: When that greatness, which you possess and which lives inside of you, is shining bright, and that greatness, which I possess and which is living inside of me, is also shining bright, we are connected. That light I am referring to is you; you when you are alive and present in the moment.
You could say higher being, light, spiritual being, God, or divinity. It can be done as a salute, a bow, or a respect, it can be said at the end and beginning of a yoga class, as a thank you or as a greeting, but no matter what, when or how, it all seems to mean about the same thing. One definition a yoga teacher I love often uses is:
“I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells. I honor the place in you, which is of love, of integrity, of wisdom, and of peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one.”
Sometimes in daily life, it is really easy to get tunnel vision. Often I will only see what is directly in front of me; I can easily forget that the world is bigger than my apartment, UCSF, or San Francisco. This week, I urge you to pay attention and to honor those people around you who contribute to your world. That is what I think namaste means. I think it is recognition that we are all in this together and that if each and every one of us tries to stay open and present, we will all be connected. Honor can mean whatever you want it to mean. It might mean that you say good morning to people as you pass them on the street, maybe it means you take an extra moment to say thank you to someone who holds open your door. Maybe you let someone go ahead of you in line, or you pay someone’s bridge toll. Perhaps you volunteer on the weekends at a shelter or at your kid’s soccer camp, I don’t know, it’s all relative and it’s all personal. All I do know is, if we all try a little harder to respect and honor our fellow woman, we will all be better off, we will all be living in a better world and we will all be able to say, Namaste.
Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I would be surprised if someone reading this hadn’t heard of Jack Lalane. He’s the guy who was always trying to sell us juicers late at night, right after Cindy Crawford tries to improve my skin and George Foreman insists I start grilling more. I am sure you know him. He’s famous for much more than juicers though. He is the original fitness guru convert. He was a junk food addict and at age 15 heard Paul Bragg (who makes the best salad dressing in the universe by the way) speak and it changed his life. It was all health after that. Jack invented some of the first weight machines and opened a gym in our very own Oaktown. He was a chiropractor, body builder and health extraordinaire. He recently died at the age of 96 (just last week) and in memory of his amazing contributions to the world of health I am dedicating this weeks wellness update to him.
When thinking of what aspect of Jack to write about, a girlfriend mentioned the health of Jack’s wife, Elaine. “Did you know she was a smoker, overweight and eating donuts for breakfast every day when jack met her?”
Jack was so into Elaine that he fell for her, tobacco and all and they started dating. Elaine began to change her habits because of spending so much time with Jack. They would exercise together regularly. She started eating better and eventually quit smoking. I am not saying that in order to be healthy you need to marry a health nut but it makes sense that spending time with a healthy person could eventually rub off on you.
Think about it in the opposite direction. If you are going out to dinner with a group of friends and the majority of your friends want to eat pizza, it’s going to pretty hard to say, “No! I want something healthier.” It’s much easier to say, “Oh, I will just order a salad and have one slice.” You compromise to fit the majority. If you are with a group of health nuts all vying for a nutritious meal, it’s going to be equally as difficult to insist on pizza.
I am obviously not telling everyone to dump his or her Doritos loving amigos. Heck, even I love Doritos every now and then. But if you are trying to exercise more, eat healthier or decrease stress, maybe spending more time with your like-minded buddies is a good start.
This week would be a great time to call that friend who loves power walking and make a date for some chat/walk time. Or have the Smiths over for dinner this weekend (Did you know Laura Smith doesn’t eat sugar?) Maybe you should spend your lunch hour with Donn from down the hall. (Doesn’t he meditate at lunch?)
Ok, here’s the caveat: Sometimes I have negative feelings towards overly healthy people. Yes, it’s true. The person who only eats fruit and nuts that have fallen from the tree and can’t go out to dinner unless the produce is from an organic farm next door and the fitness freak who can’t spend a day just relaxing in front of the TV. Sometimes these people make me crazy. It’s just as detrimental to be fanatical about health as it is to be unfanatical. We all need to be balanced. So if you are the person who can’t go out to lunch with friends because it means missing spinning class, or you are unable to enjoy a bite of your daughters birthday cake because of the calorie content, I recommend hanging out with some oppositely minded people this week. Let go for a day. Have some cake, dance a little, and sleep in. Health is about balance. I think Jack Lalane was great but he may have been lacking some balance, which is why I think Elaine was just as good for him as he was for her.
Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live