What about making lifestyle changes to improve health?
Fear of failure is frequently cited as a reason for avoiding making changes. Those changes seem overwhelming and people claim to be concerned that they will not succeed.
Let me pose a hypothetical question: What if, instead of fear of failing, the real fear is that of finding greatness?
That probably sounds bit (or a lot) crazy, so let me explain.
As I said before, health-related lifestyle changes can seem extremely daunting. Most people are pretty comfortable in their current lives: eating in a comfortable way, exercising at a comfortable frequency and intensity. For some, that may mean giving limited thought or attention to food or exercise at all. Others may feel comfortable focusing greatly on their eating or exercise habits. No matter where a person is in their health journey, additional changes can feel like a step into the realm of discomfort.
Implementing positive changes is often challenging…at first. It is hard to limit the number of times eating out each week. It is hard to learn to cook more nutritious food. It is hard to wake up early to go to the gym, or take the dog for an extra-long walk in the evening when you’re used to spending that time on other activities. Those changes alter our routines and make us think more about what we’re doing.
Here is where I argue the fear of greatness comes in.
If making a positive change sounds uncomfortable now, the thought of being great at that change might sound like the discomfort will be prolonged – maybe forever. The thought of dining at restaurants fewer times per week for a member of a family that loves to go out to eat might seem like a plan that is bound to fail eventually, because greatness would result in a direct effect on that family time. For someone who likes to stay up later in the evenings, the thought of being great at exercising early in the morning before work might seem like more than they feel they can handle. My point is that the fear of greatness is related to reluctance to feel the initial discomfort over an extended time period.
Here’s the thing: It will get easier. It always does. It takes 21 days to make or break a habit. After those 21 days of implementing a change, it won’t necessarily be easy, but it will be easier (“-er” means more!). The discomfort won’t last forever. Not only will the new, healthy behavior become habit, a person’s life overall will likely change to accommodate their new changes. Maybe the person whose family goes out to eat frequently will start hosting healthy family dinners. Maybe the person who struggles to wake up early to exercise will begin falling asleep earlier (and sleep better, as a result of their increased physical activity), ultimately feeling more well-rested.
And what if the healthy changes don’t become part of the lifestyle? What if, after a few weeks, or longer, those changes just don’t work out?
That still is not failure. The positive effects of those changes exist. The time spent making those changes is time that less healthy behaviors were not taking place. That leads me to my second radical statement: You cannot fail at making healthy changes.
Happy Holidays, ScintillaLife readers and followers!
The holiday season can be a trap for unhealthy decisions, between the get-togethers with lots of food, high-calorie treats, and seasonal foods, plus being extra busy with less time to work out and bad weather discouraging going outside.
The good news is, you don’t have to succumb to the siren song of the season! Check out this “Choose Your Own Holiday Adventure” to learn how you can wrangle the power of tips and tricks to help you participate while making smart choices, set yourself up for success, and change your mindset.
Each situation is called an Opportunity – it is a chance to make a decision that will contribute to your health during the holidays (and throughout the year!). Keep track of your answers and find the scores at the end of this post.
The holiday season is coming up! Last year, you gained a few pounds during the holidays, and now you’ve realized you never lost the extra weight. You decide to set a goal for yourself. Which do you choose?
A. Challenge yourself to match the weight you gained last year, and even gain a pound or two more.
B. Challenge yourself to lose all the weight you gained last year before January 1 – then you’ll be in shape to go to the gym for your Resolution!
C. Challenge yourself to maintain your weight for now, then focus on losing weight after the holidays are over.
You want to get a jump on wrapping gifts for your kids, so you stay up after they go to sleep and watch a movie on TV while you wrap. Once the gifts are wrapped, the movie is still on for two hours! What do you decide to do?
A. Go to bed – you’ll feel better if you get enough rest.
B. Watch the movie for one more hour, even though you know you’ll be groggy tomorrow.
C. Stay up and watch the movie – you can catch up on sleep during the weekend.
You want to have some friends over to spend time together between all the rush and fuss of the holidays. Which type of get-together will you host?
A. A potluck dinner where everyone brings their specialty dish
B. Game night with a few snacks served
C. A cookie exchange
The annual company holiday party is tonight, and the company always make sure to serve great food! What do you do to prepare for the food you know you’ll eat?
A. Skip breakfast and have a light lunch to save calories for the party.
B. Don’t eat throughout the day so you can eat as much of the party food as possible.
C. Eat meals and snacks as you normally would.
After mingling at the company party, you find yourself feeling full, but there are still foods you haven’t tried yet. What do you do?
A. Make a small plate to take home – you can try some of these items tomorrow.
B. Set out to eat at least one of everything you haven’t yet tasted before you leave.
C. Pick out the things you haven’t tried that look most appetizing and just have a small sample.
You’re out running errands before heading home to make and decorate your favorite holiday cookies with your family. A display with bags of red and green M&Ms catches your eye just as you’re jonesing for a sweet treat. What do you decide to do?
A. Buy a bag and treat yourself to a few handfuls before leaving the parking lot – that sugar craving was really nagging you!
B. Buy a bag and eat a few M&Ms while you drive – you would be a Grinch if you didn’t eat the festive candy!
C. Pass up the M&Ms – you can get regular M&Ms anytime; besides, you’re about to make and eat yummy cookies!
The whole family is together for a holiday dinner, and Great Aunt Gertrude made her famous roast goose. Since it is one of your all-time favorite food that you only get to eat once a year, what will you do?
A. Savor it and use the Fork Trick – set down your fork between each bite to take the time to really enjoy the goose.
B. Eat as fast as possible so you can get seconds before your cousin takes the last piece, like he always does.
C. Skip side dishes and eat a bigger serving of goose – why eat other foods when you’re really in it for the bird?
Your spouse sends you to the grocery store with a list. The two of you have talked about trying to eat healthier during the holidays. You notice items on the list such as cream cheese, milk, canned veggies, and rib eye steaks. What do you do?
A. Throw out the list and instead take home lots of fresh veggies, dried beans, and rice.
B. Stick to the list, but choose healthier versions of each item (neufatchel cheese, 1% milk, reduced-sodium veggies, and sirloin steaks).
C. Follow the list. Your spouse probably has a plan.
You get stuck at work and only have 15 minutes to exercise when you get home before heading to a New Year’s party. You had planned to work out for a whole hour, but since you can’t, what will you do instead?
A. Skip it – it’s not enough time to really make a difference anyway.
B. Remind yourself to make a New Year’s Resolution to start working out tomorrow, then leave for the party.
C. Exercise for the 15 minutes and plan to sneak in some extra standing and walking around the party instead of sitting down.
A – 0, B – 1, C – 2
A – 2, B – 1, C – 0
A – 0, B – 2, C – 1
A – 1, B – 0, C – 2
A – 2, B – 0, C – 1
A – 0, B – 1, C – 2
A – 2, B – 0, C – 1
A – 1, B – 2, C – 0
A – 0, B – 1, C – 2
11-18 points: You’re making healthy decisions most of the time!
4-12 points: You’re on the right track!
0-3 points: Practice recognizing opportunities to improve your health!
Please share your favorite healthy holiday tips below and whether you learned any tips from taking the quiz! Download my Healthy Holiday Toolkit for helpful reminders of tips and tricks to steer you through the season!
This is a shout out to everyone who may get down on themselves. We all have our quirks, whether we are shopping and the most adorable pair of pants is the wrong size or because we can’t run as far today as we did yesterday. It is easy to be critical of ourselves and to forget all the fabulous things we can do.
Today I ask you to be your own best advocate. Nobody knows what you need or how to take care of yourself better than you. You experience your body’s pains, and its pleasures. Here is to being self aware and recognizing and meeting the demands of our bodies and minds. Here is some body love from me to you. I use these to treat my own body with love in a way that fits my life experiences, but yours may be quite different. Most importantly, find what makes you feel good and do it for yourself.
- Appreciate what my body does. Those feet you hate because they look funny, spend every day supporting your weight and helping you get from one place to another.
- Note my positive physical attributes. When I am in a group of women I have noticed that it is easier to recognize what we don’t like about ourselves and talk about that than it is to talk about what we love. I combat this by stating what I like about myself as opposed to what I don’t like, even if that isn’t how the conversation is going.
- Health is an individual goal. It isn’t based on my bodies shape or how many times I deprive myself from certain foods. It is a balancing act of finding what I like and what I can do for myself while creating a lifestyle that fits my needs. This is why I disregard those popular motivational quotes “Strong is the new sexy” or “Thin feels better than food tastes.” We don’t have to put down someone else to feel healthy and beautiful and promoting body punishment is not acceptable. We can be healthy at any shape and any size.
- I realize that I am the only person that can take care of me. If I have a migraine or a hurt foot, I am the only person that can decide I need a break. I value myself enough to recognize my pain and do what it takes to heal. It can be really hard to not push myself, but I know that I won’t get better unless I take care of myself.
- I want to be the best I can be, and this means knowing I have room to improve without being negative about myself. It is okay to want to change how I look and to be better, but in the process I want to appreciate all the things I can do right now. Check out Jamie’s quote from Jen Widerstrom!
I want to end with a quote from Miss Jamie – this is my new favorite mantra: “I am big because I have muscles, I have muscles because I am strong, and I am strong because I work hard.”
Please share with us what you do to take care of yourself and appreciate the body you have right now!
About the Guest Author: Hi, I am Jackie! I am a University of Wyoming graduate with a BS in Family and Consumer Sciences. I am also a yogi, dog lover and extension agent in Montana. I am just starting 9 month yoga training adventure to become a certified teacher, I have been practicing yoga for 10 years. I am so excited to be a guest blogger for Miss Jamie!
There is a huge amount of nutrition advice out there, some even legitimate. Nutrition and food are relatable to everyone, and so often, people are interested in how to change their body. There are a few things to know before jumping on someone’s nutrition wagon.
- You are unique. You have your body, not someone else’s. No matter how insistent someone is that this diet will make you look like [insert chosen celebrity here], it’s just not likely to be true unless you already share that person’s body type.
- Not everyone who has lost weight, gained muscle, cured their gastrointestinal discomfort, etc., is a nutrition expert. Nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and what another person has done may not be helpful for you, and may not even be recommended or healthy. Look for credentials from those who are offering nutrition advice to help decide its worth.
- You don’t need to follow every nutrition plan out there. As a kid, I always wondered why magazines had new workout and nutrition plans every month, instead of following up with the same one from the last issue. There is no way a person can continue piling on new rules and plans every month and find success, at least not at the cost of being very stressed. Once you figure out what works for you and helps move you toward your goals in a healthy way, stick with it.
Due to the sheer volume of nutrition information available at the click of a mouse (or bombarding you throughout the day), it can be tricky to figure out what’s noteworthy. When you find quality nutrition advice that works for you, have conviction in knowing that you are doing what is best for you and let the rest pass you by.
PepsiCo is making the change in an attempt to bring their products in line with consumer demand following recent decrease in sales. By replacing aspartame, a low-calorie sweetener commonly known as NutraSweet or Equal, with sucralose (think: Splenda), PepsiCo hopes that consumers will feel that diet Pepsi products are more safe and will begin to buy more of them.
This is a significant move in the nutrition world. PepsiCo is making this decision based on the idea that aspartame is unsafe, thus, by switching from aspartame to a different sweetener, diet Pepsi drinks will find favor with consumers once again. Here’s the thing: aspartame has not been found to be unsafe. It is commonly thought that aspartame is a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent); however, research does not back up this claim. Aspartame has been studied extensively and even in high doses, has not been found to cause cancer. The only health concern related to aspartame is the danger it poses for individuals who have phenylketonuria (an inability to metabolize phenylalanine, one of the amino acids found in aspartame). Even with all the research exhibiting the safety of aspartame, and reputable resources such as the American Cancer Society and Food & Drug Administration stating that aspartame is not harmful, the notion that this sweetener will cause cancer is pervasive enough that a major national beverage company has decided to change its products to remove aspartame.
Let me make three things clear: First, I am neither promoting nor bashing PepsiCo or soft drinks; rather, I am using this situation as an example. Second, I recognize that PepsiCo, as a corporation, is making a business decision in order to maintain their profits. Third, each individual is free to make their own decisions about what to consume or not consume based on their personal beliefs and perspectives.
What I see as the problem here is this: Even with a great deal of thorough research showing that aspartame is safe for human consumption, it is still thought to be unsafe by enough people that a national brand is removing it from their products. The implication of this is that, if comprehensive research is not considered reliable, the credibility of evidence-based practice in science-related fields like healthcare is undermined. Good healthcare (including nutrition) is based on making recommendations and following procedures found to be most effective and appropriate based on the preponderance of evidence available from research. If that evidence is deemed questionable or undependable, providing high-quality nutrition or healthcare services will get a whole lot harder.
As PepsiCo rejects aspartame to stay in the good graces of their consumers, recognize the change for the business decision that it is, rather than as a statement on the safety of aspartame or the trustworthiness of scientific evidence. Make your own decisions about what to consume or not consume, but know that the expert healthcare advice you seek should always be evidence-based.
Please weigh in with your thoughts and let me know what you think in the comments section below!
Ferdman RA. Why Pepsi’s decision to ditch aspartame isn’t good for soda – or science. The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/27/why-pepsis-decision-to-ditch-aspartame-isnt-good-for-soda-or-science/. Published April 27, 2015. Accessed May 5, 2015.
American Cancer Society. Aspartame. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/aspartame. Published May 28, 2014. Accessed May 11, 2015.
Novella S. Pepsi removing aspartame. Science-Based Medicine. https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/pepsi-removing-aspartame/. Published April 29, 2015. Accessed May 5, 2015.